Entrenched behind the ramparts of Quebec, he prepared for the great struggle which was to decide the fortunes of the then two foremost powers of Europe. He and de Levis, although a considerable distance from each other, had seventeen thousand men under their command, with a splendid line of fortifications running from Montmorenci to the St. Charles, supplementing the granite defences of the Citadel. Montcalm being in doubt for some time at what point to look for attack from the enemy, sent orders along the whole line for his troops to be in perfect readiness everywhere. He was several years older than Wolfe, and was an old campaigner, having served his king with honour and distinction in Germany, Italy and Bohemia.
THE BATTLE OF THE PLAINS.
It was the evening of the 12th of Sept., 1759. The French troops were on the alert,—the British ready. The evening was calm and fine and the occasion full of solemnity as Wolfe embarked in a boat to visit some of his posts. As the oars dipped softly in the stream, and the quiet dusk of the autumn twilight hid the grim signs of war and brought out the peaceful beauty of the scene, he thought of the morrow—that where
"Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight, And all the air a solemn stillness holds,"
would be rent by the roar of cannon, the flash of bloody steel and the cries of the wounded and dying.
Feeling perhaps a shrinking from the great crisis which the dawn would bring, he repeated to the officers and midshipmen within hearing a number of the verses from the most finished poem in the English language, Grey's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard," and which had appeared a short time before. Probably the lines on which he lingered longest were:—
"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Await alike the inevitable hour; The paths of glory lead but to the grave."
The last line was, alas! prophetic in his own case, and he may have had some premonition of it, for turning to his listeners, who were to share with him victory or defeat, he said with a wistful pathos in his young voice, "I would prefer being the author of that poem to the glory of beating the French to-morrow."
He did not dream that for what that morrow would bring, his name, with that of the poet he loved, would be carven among those of England's great men in Westminster Abbey—
"Where thro' the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault The pealing anthem swells the note of praise."
Landing in a ravine (Wolfe's Cove), which he had located by the use of a glass—with the strategic venture at which all the world has since wondered—in the dark hours of the same night, he, at the head of the famous Fraser Highlanders, placed his force on the Plains of Abraham, each man knowing it was victory or death, as there was no possibility of retreat.
The intelligence of the landing of the British troops was first brought to the Governor-General, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, and he had the task of communicating the unwelcome news to Montcalm, who had hurried from his quarters on the ramparts to ascertain what was the meaning of the firing above the town.
On learning the situation, he bitterly exclaimed:—
"They have at least got to the weak side of this miserable garrison, and, therefore, we must endeavour to crush them by our numbers before 12 o'clock."
Montcalm, with more courage than discretion, without waiting for de Levis, who was twenty-eight miles away,—the victim of an inexorable destiny, unsupported led forth his men, and saw, not without surprise, the whole British Army ranged in battle array. Without giving his men time to recover breath after the fatigue of their laborious and hurried march, he went into action, trusting to the well-tested courage of his troops.
Wolfe led the charge at the head of the Louisburg Grenadiers, and when the Highlanders, throwing away their muskets, rushed on with their broad swords like a tempest of steel, the hapless blue coats, though lacking in neither prowess nor patriotism, fled in all directions. The two young leaders fell almost simultaneously.
When Wolfe received his death wound, he was in a conspicuous spot near the Redoubt, and was thence borne to the rear. He had calmly prepared for this contingency. He had made his will, of which he appointed Sir Guy Carleton the executor, and for whom he had early formed a close friendship, generally speaking of him as "My friend Carleton," and to whom he bequeathed his books and papers. His plate he willed to Saunders, and to another friend he entrusted the miniature of his betrothed with the charge of returning it to her in the event of his fall. That was probably the most trying moment of those hours so fraught with tragedy—a moment like those on the eve of Waterloo, when there were
"Partings that crush the life from out young hearts."
It was not in his martial cloak nor in his country's flag that he was carried dead off the field, but in the tartan "plaidie" of an old Highland man, named McLeod, which was tenderly wrapped around him, wet with tears from eyes to which tears had long been strangers.
As he fell, his principal care was for the effect it would have upon his troops, who, down to the humblest in his command, had caught his spirit, and who felt that "they must fulfil the trust reposed in them, or die in the ranks."
Leaning against the shoulder of the officer who caught him when falling, he implored him to support him, saying, "Do not let my brave soldiers see me drop, the day is ours, keep it!" A death attended with circumstances more pathetic or incidents more picturesque the annals of war do not record.
"The capture of Quebec was an achievement of so formidable a character, so distinguished by chivalrous enterprise, and so fraught with singular adventure, that the interest attending it still remains undimmed and its glorious recollections unfaded."
The virtues and heroism of the youthful leader of the campaign and the bravery of his troops, whose toast was "The British flag on every fort, post and garrison in America," are themes of just pride to the lover of his country. "Young in years but mature in experience, Wolfe possessed all the liberal virtues in addition to an enthusiastic knowledge of the military art with a sublimity of genius, always the distinguishing mark of minds above the ordinary level of mankind. His celebrated letter to Mr. Pitt is still considered unsurpassed in military composition."
As Montcalm was carried off the field he enquired if his wound was mortal; on being answered in the affirmative, with a mental anguish keener than the intense physical pain he was suffering, he said, "So much the better, I shall not live to see the surrender of Quebec." Few scenes are more full of sadness than his march from his last battle-field, as supported by two grenadiers, and passing through the St. Louis Gate on his black charger, he courteously greeted the weeping women who lined his path, telling them not to weep for him; but it could not be but a day of tears for the daughters of Quebec as groans of mortal agony came to their ears through the smoke and dust of retreat.
A few hours afterward, on being visited by M. de Ramezay, who commanded the garrison, with the title of Lieutenant du Roy, and another officer, Montcalm addressed them saying, "Gentlemen, I commend to your keeping the honour of France,—for myself, I shall pass the night with God, and prepare myself for death."
On M. de Ramezay's pressing to receive commands respecting the defence of Quebec, he exclaimed with emotion:—"I will neither give orders nor interfere further. I have business that must be attended to of greater moment than your ruined garrison and this wretched country. My time is very short, so pray leave me; I wish you all comfort, and to be happily extricated from your present difficulties."
Before expiring, he paid a noble tribute to his late foes, when he said:—
"Since it was my misfortune to be discomfited and mortally wounded, it is a great consolation to me to be vanquished by so brave and generous an enemy. If I could survive this wound, I would engage to beat three times the number of such forces as I commanded this morning with a third of such troops as were opposed to me."
Almost his last conscious act was to write a letter praying the English victors to show clemency to the French prisoners.
It is said that a fissure ploughed by a cannon ball within the walls of the Ursuline Convent furnished him a fitting soldier's grave.
One of the sisterhood, an eye-witness of the event, described the burial in the following touching and graphic words:—
"At length it was September, with its lustrous skies and pleasant harvest scenes. The city was destroyed, but it was not taken. Would not the early autumn, so quickly followed by winter, force the enemy to withdraw their fleet? For several days the troops which had been so long idle were moving in various directions above and below Quebec, but they were watched and every point guarded, but no one dreamed of the daring project the intrepid Wolfe was meditating. The silence of the night told no tale of the stealthy march of five thousand soldiers. The echoes of the high cliff only brought to the listening boatmen the necessary password. No rock of the shelving precipice gave way under the cat-like tread of the Highlanders accustomed to the crags of their native hills, but the morning light glittered on serried rows of British bayonets, and in an hour the battle of the Plains changed the destinies of New France. The remnant of the French army, after turning many times on their pursuers, completely disappeared. Their tents were still standing on the Plains of Beauport, but their batteries were silent and trenches empty—their guns still pointed, but were mute.
"At nine o'clock in the evening a funeral cortege issuing from the castle, wound its way through the dark and obstructed streets to the little church of the Ursulines. The measured foot steps of the military escort kept time with the heavy tread of the bearers, as the officers of the garrison followed the lifeless remains of their illustrious commander-in-chief to their last resting place. No martial pomp was displayed around that humble bier and rough wooden box, which were all the ruined city could afford the body of her defender; but no burial rite could be more solemn than that hurried evening service performed by torchlight under the war-scarred roof of the Convent, as with tears and sighs were chanted the words 'Libera me Domine.'"
Some years ago an Englishman, Lord Aylmer, caused to be placed within the convent enclosure a tablet with the words carved in marble:—
Honneur a Montcalm. Le Destin en lui derobant La Victoire, L'a recompense par Une Mort Glorieuse.
Or, Honor to Montcalm. Fate denied him victory, but rewarded him with a glorious death. Byron expresses a similar sentiment when he said:—
"They never fail who die in a good cause."
On the spot where Wolfe fell has been raised a simple shaft on which is written:—
"Here Wolfe died victorious, Sept. 13th, 1759, In the thirty-fourth year of his age."
The stone which formed his death couch is preserved in its original position, but sunk beneath the ground to protect it from the ravages of the relic hunter. The column is supported on a pedestal of rocks formed of boulders from the scene of the battle, conspicuous among which may be seen the actual rock upon which Wolfe was supported when he breathed his last. The stones of the monument are strongly cemented together, embedded in the solid foundation of rock, and will be as enduring as the fame of him whose name it bears.
The well near by, from which the water was brought to allay his thirst, was filled up and obliterated some years ago, much to the regret of those who venerated the immortal incident connected with it, and which placed it among the historic shrines of the world.
Associated with Wolfe, and a sharer in the glory of the capture of Quebec, was Charles Saunders, commander of the squadron. By bombarding the town, he kept the enemy in a state of constant and anxious alarm, at the same time showing wonderful skill in cleverly protecting his fleet from disaster; even when threatened by fire-ships sent to destroy it, which were grappled by the British sailors and run aground.
Among those who rendered signal service to Admiral Saunders when he neared Quebec was the famous navigator, Captain Cook. He was the pilot who conducted the boats to the attack at Montmorency on July 31st, 1759, and managed the disembarkment at the Heights of Abraham.
The great mariner, while engaged in his celebrated voyages of discovery, was murdered by South Sea Islanders at Owhyhee on the 14th of Feby., 1779. He had been sent by the British Government to find if the discovery of the North-West passage, which seemed impossible by the Atlantic, were feasible by the Pacific Ocean; for which purpose he had to round the southern part of the entire American Continent. He was on the point of abandoning the project and returning home when he met his terrible death, "leaving a name unsurpassed for gallantry by any sea-faring man of his time."
In the month of October Saunders' fleet dropped silently down the river. On one of the ships was the embalmed body of James Wolfe, returning to the land he had served so well, but where alas! he would never hear the acclamations with which his fellow countrymen, from the palace to the cabin, would lay the laurel wreath upon his tomb,—the paths of glory had truly led but to the grave!
Saunders on his return was appointed Lieutenant-General of Marine, and on taking his seat as a member of the House of Commons received the thanks of the Speaker. He became Knight Commander of the Bath, and on his death was buried in Westminster Abbey near to the Monument of Wolfe.
Of the regiments to whom England owes the Conquest of Canada, the Scotch claim the greatest share of glory. "Hardy sons of mountain and heather, they were in fact the flower of the army, the boldest in attack, the fiercest at close quarters, the last to retreat at command, and always the bravest of the brave in the forefront of England's battles."
The kilted "laddies" from beyond the Grampians, in their "braw" plumed bonnets, with their war-pipes lilting above the loudest din of war, have met some of the fiercest onslaughts singing and stepping to the blood-stirring strains of "Scots wha ha'e wi' Wallace bled."
An eye-witness of their march out of Brussels on that beautiful June morning in 1815, the dawn of Waterloo, says:
"One could not but admire their fine appearance, their steady military demeanour, with their pipes playing before them, and the beams of the rising sun shining on their glittering arms." Many of the young officers were in the silk stockings and dancing pumps which they wore the night before to the Duchess of Richmond's ball, when they laughed:—
"On with the dance, let joy be unconfined, No sleep till morn when youth and beauty meet, To chase the glowing hours with flying feet."
With swords waving, the pibroch screaming and the "stirring memories of a thousand years," they rushed into the stupendous conflict leading the "Forty-twa" into the field, which the setting of the same sun saw drenched through with blood, but marked by deeds which covered with glory many a thatched ingle-nook on highland hills and in lowland valleys.
After the Conquest of Canada, the Fraser Highlanders with the remains of the 42nd were offered grants of land if they chose to remain as settlers, a privilege which many of them accepted. Sixteen years afterward, when a foreign invasion threatened Canada, they loyally left the plough in the furrow and again sprang to arms, to protect their altars and firesides.
Among the blue Laurentian hills of the lower St. Lawrence, around their simple hearths, their descendants live the placid life of the Canadian habitant. They bear the old historic names of their Gaelic forefathers,—Fraser, Cameron, Blackburn, MacDonald, etc.—but in nothing else could it be thought that in their veins runs the blood of those who fought at Colloden and Bannockburn. They are as purely French in their religion, language and customs, as those whose sires sailed from Breton and Norman ports.
The Commandant of Quebec at the time of its fall was the son of Claude de Ramezay, the builder of the Chateau of that name. After the disastrous battle, Vaudreuil, Governor of Montreal, sent him urgent charges to do his utmost to hold out until reinforcements, which were on a forced march from Montreal and elsewhere, should arrive to his succour; but, the besieged being in the greatest extreme of fright and starvation, his force refused to fight. His conduct has been much criticized, but one annalist asserts that he was "not the man to shrink from danger or death had there been anything but foolhardiness in the risk, as he belonged to the good old fighting stock of North Britain,"—the race which produced a Wallace and a Bruce. He, however, signed the articles of capitulation, as recommended by the Council of War summoned, and the British marched in through the iron-spiked gates,—when, had he held out only twenty-four hours longer, Canada might have been saved for France, as the British could not for any length of time have maintained their position on the Plains of Abraham. Returning to France, where he was related to several families of the Noblesse, who held that "war was the only worthy calling, and prized honour more than life," he received so cool a reception at Court that his proud spirit, being unable to brook the humiliation, he applied for a passport allowing him to return to Canada, but subsequently he abandoned the idea of returning to his native land. Had he carried out his intention, he might have seen French, English and American flags successively wave over the red roof of the Chateau of his boyhood.
To complete the conquest, Montreal was attacked at three different points by Generals Amherst, Murray and Haldimand. Arriving within a few hours of each other, they camped outside of the old walls of the town. Vaudreuil and de Levis tried to oppose them, but with Quebec lost, and the only defences a rude citadel and weak walls built to resist Indian attack and useless in civilized warfare, they were compelled to surrender. A small stone cottage, until quite recently standing in a private garden on the mountain side, was used as Amherst's headquarters, and in which the articles of capitulation were signed between the victorious and vanquished generals.
Among those who entered the town with Amherst was Israel Putnam, a man who had been brought into Montreal a year before a prisoner by the French. He had great physical strength and decision of character, and was absolutely incapable of fear. On the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, he entered with zeal into the cause of the colonists, and lead them in the battle of Bunker Hill. True to his convictions, he refused the large sums of money offered him by the British for his services. By the American troops he was lovingly called "Old Put." On his tombstone was inscribed:—"He dared to lead where any dared to follow."
As the British entered the city by the old Recollet Monastery gate, the French retired to la Citadelle, a strong wood block house at the other end of the town. General Haldimand was the First Englishman to enter within the walls, remains of which are still frequently dug up in excavating. The oldest Ensign in Amherst's army received the French colours, and it is said the keys of the city were given over by a woman, but it is recorded with certainty that the fallen foes were treated with the greatest consideration and respect, not even the Indian allies being permitted to commit a single act of violence. "Amherst commanded the principal division, including the 'Black Watch,' or gallant 42nd, which has been renowned in military story wherever the British flag has been borne to victory for more than a hundred and forty years." At Waterloo, Corunna, Alma and Lucknow, in Afghan defiles and Egyptian deserts, they were always in the thickest of the fight.
It is said, Pitt, wanting a safe and sure officer to command them, chose what he called a stubborn Colonel, who had shown his mettle in Germany, and made him Major-General Amherst.
CANADA UNDER ENGLISH RULE.
General James Murray, the son of Lord Elibank, was appointed the first British Governor of Canada. Previous to the fall of Montreal, de Levis, refusing to consider the cause of France lost on the St. Lawrence, valiantly resolved on an attack on General Murray at Quebec. The news of his advance was conveyed to Murray by a "half-frozen cannonier, whom the British troops carried up Mountain Hill in a sailor's hammock."—April 26th, 1760. Hearing of this unfortunate circumstance, which gave up to the enemy his intention of taking him unawares, de Levis hurriedly led his men under the walls of the city, where Murray, promptly coming out to meet him, the battle of "Ste. Foye" took place, when the French this time saw their efforts crowned with success, the British having to find a shelter within the walls of the old Citadel. The French leader was too weak to operate a regular siege, so remained camped on the battle-field, awaiting the reinforcements expected.
One bright sunny morning it was heralded on all sides that a fleet had been signalled, and the joy of the French troops knew no bounds; but, alas! for them it was found out but too soon that the ships were under England's flag. Instead of de Levis receiving the assistance he required, it came to the already victorious Briton. It but remained, therefore, for him to retire in haste to Montreal, where, being soon followed up by the enemy and surrounded on all sides, he had to submit to the dictates of fate, as already stated.
He affixed his name to the Articles of Capitulation, with, it is said, the document placed against a tree at the head of St. Helen's Island.
De Levis, although blamed for his unsoldierlike act in the destruction of his regimental colours, was, nevertheless, a fine specimen of the long line of chivalrous nobles, whose names and deeds emblazon French chronicles of field and foray since the days when Charlemagne wore his iron crown. Deeply chagrined at the refusal of the British to allow the garrison to march out with the honours of war, although high-spirited to a fault, he humbled himself to pray in writing for the reversal of the order. It may have been in the salon of the Chateau that the representatives of the two knights stood face to face as suppliant and arbiter. Their fathers may have crossed swords at Crecy, when the Plantagenet Prince bore off the feathered crest which was to be the insignia of all future first-born sons of English kings, or they may have tilted with lance and pennon on the Field of the Cloth of Gold; but here de Levis, with his petition sternly denied, was forced to retire in anger, filled with humiliation at the failure of his intercession.
It may be imagined with what conflicting emotions he entered the following words in his journal:—
"The British sent a detachment to Place d'Armes with artillery, whither our battalions marched one after another, to lay down their arms, and the enemy took possession of the posts and watches of the city." As they filed past the Chateau, which was on their line of march, many a heavy heart beat beneath the blue coats, and when a few days later they embarked with their chief for France, even valour need not have been ashamed if tears dimmed the sight of the English colours flying from their flag staffs, and the fair land fading from their sight forever.
The Chateau de Vaudreuil was then dismantled of its treasures of fine china and specimens of the arts revived in what is known as the Renaissance, when everything that was exquisite in painting, sculpture, working in metals, and art in all its forms had received such an impetus from the Italian artists whom Louis the Fourteenth gathered around his court, as well as from the influence of Madame de Pompadour, whose taste, unhappily, far exceeded her morals. It was purchased by Chartier de Lotbiniere, and it is pleasant to chronicle that a few years ago his direct descendant, M. de Lery Macdonald, while visiting France, had the honour of meeting la Comtesse de Clairemont-Tonnerre, the last living representative of the De Vaudreuil family, who graciously presented to him the "Croix St. Louis," which had been bestowed upon the first Vaudreuil who held an official position in Canada, which relic is now to be seen in the Chateau de Ramezay.
The old fortifications of Ville Marie were planned by a de Lery; he, and the military engineer who traced out his campaigns with Bonaparte, and whom he called the "Immortel General," were members of this family, in the possession of which are priceless old tapestries, which were gifts from royalty as rewards of diplomatic or personal services.
About a year after the evacuation of Quebec, Murray was sitting in the chilliness of an October evening by the chimney meditating. As he gazed at the glowing fire of maple logs, he may have fancied that he saw again the face of his dead commander, and may have thought of that desperate charge outside the gates—of the shouts of victory and cries of defeat—where then the only sound to be heard was the wind rustling the withered grass that had been dyed red in the blood of so many gallant young hearts. The soldier's face may have softened as he thought of the old hearthstone among the heather hills, where tales of the Border and the traditions of his clan had fired his young soul for the glory of conquest.
He was suddenly aroused from his dream by the announcement that two warlike frigates were sailing below the cliffs. He hurried to the bastion, which commanded the spot, to survey what might portend fresh struggles and more bloodshed. But soon a standard was run up to the masthead, unfolding to the breeze the flag of England. Immediately from the ramparts, where so recently had proudly floated the flag of France, an answering signal was shown, and, as the guns roared out a salute to the British colours, it was also a farewell honour to the old Regime, which has passed away forever from Canadian shores.
Of Murray, the first British Governor of Canada, it has been said that, in the long roll of unblemished good service, in the record of his honourable fidelity to his trust and duty, no passage of his life stands out in brighter colours than this period, during which he turned a deaf ear to intolerance and the spirit of persecution, and strove to show the new subjects of the Crown how truly beneficent, just and good, with all its errors, the rule of Great Britain had ever proved to be.
With the Treaty of Paris in 1763 King George III. abolished the French laws, substituting for them the English Code in the newly won Dominion; later on, however, by the "Quebec Act," they were restored to the Canadians.
The members of the Noblesse, whose ties compelled their remaining in Canada, sent to London to offer fealty to King George, and thus further their personal interests.
When the Chevalier de Lery and his wife, the beautiful Louise de Brouages, one of the most lovely women of her day, were presented at the Court of St. James, the young Sovereign was so struck with her beauty that he gallantly exclaimed:—
"If all Canadian ladies resemble her, we have indeed made a conquest."
A French writer of the time says:—
"How can we sufficiently deplore the loss of Canada, with all its present value and with all its future hope—a possession of which all the difficulties were already overcome, and of which the consequent advantages were secure and within reach! That loss might have been guarded against—yes, that land consecrated by the blood of a Montcalm, a Jumonville, and so many brave Frenchmen who shared their dangers, and were united with them in fate—that country honoured with the name of New France—that country where we may yet trace her children enjoying the manners and customs of their forefathers—that country might yet have existed under its rightful princes, if the Cabinet of Versailles had known the true position it held—had erected there a new throne and had placed upon it a Prince of the Royal Family—it would have ruled to-day over that vast region, and preserved the treasures vainly spent in its defence."
After the conquest the Chateau de Ramezay was saved from being a mere fur-trading post by becoming the city residence of the Baron de Longueuil, a Canadian feudal lord, the towers, embattlements and chapel of whose castle were visible on the south side of the river. The founder of this house, which to-day holds the only hereditary feudal barony of Canada, was Charles LeMoyne, who came to Canada in 1642 with Maisonneuve. This man was the son of an innkeeper at Dieppe (France), who it is alleged was descended from a younger branch of the old Norman family of LeMoyne, the head of the house being the Marquis de Longueuil.
Fourteen years after his arrival in Canada, LeMoyne received the Seigniory of Longueuil, he having in the meantime amassed a considerable fortune in the fur trade.
The eldest son, who was named after his father, was born in 1656, and in recognition of his services at a siege of Quebec, and against the Iroquois, he was made a Baron of France in 1700 by Louis 14th. The old deed of nobility is to this day in an almost perfect condition.
An original sketch of the Chateau de Longueuil, taken after a fire which partially destroyed it in 1792, is still in possession of the family. The Chateau, or in reality the Castle, was built by the first Baron in 1699, and for nearly a hundred years sheltered the family of LeMoyne.
It stood partly on the ground now occupied by the front of the present parish church of Longueuil, and partly across the highway, at a corner of the Chambly road. The north-west tower was located as late as 1835, but was covered with earth by the excavation for the new church. The Chateau, comprising the chapel, was 210 by 170 feet, and was constructed in the strongest possible manner of stones which were gathered by the river bank. The building was two storeys in height all around, and was flanked by four towers with conical tops. There were high gables over the building, and in the centre a court. On the river-side front it was loop-holed for defence, and it was here that the retainers came in time of trouble. On the west side was the chapel, which was large and extensive.
After the fire it was never again occupied, and later on the stone work went to help make the present roadway, as had been the fate of many an Italian palace and temple of Greece. The family gave the land where the present church stands, and they also built the first church, with vaults below. This was done on condition that the family should all be buried there, and so far this has been carried out. The barony was once very extensive, taking in a territory of about one hundred and fifty square miles, including St. Helen's Island, upon which may still be recognized the ruins of the residence which stood on the eastern side of it, Capt. Grant and his wife, Madame de Baronne de Longueuil, having lived there for some time.
Fort Senneville, an interesting ruin, at the western end of Montreal Island, and which was destroyed by Benedict Arnold at the invasion of Canada, during the American Revolution, was erected by the Le Ber family, which was closely allied to that of LeMoyne, and was enobled at the same time as the latter. The fort was intended for a fortified fur-trading post.
In 1880 the seventh Baron claimed royal recognition from the English Crown of his title to the old French Barony, which Queen Victoria was graciously pleased to recognize. The de Longueuil family was always generously treated by royalty, and on the Richelieu river are several Seigniories which have been granted to members of it. On the same side of the river St. Lawrence, but a considerable distance inland, is the pretty town of Iberville. It is named after LeMoyne d'Iberville, a member of this family, who, with his seven brothers, took their several names from their seigniories, and were all distinguished for daring and ambition in all the perilous adventures of New France in their day.
In the Indian village of Caughnawaga, situated near the Lachine Rapids, is the half-ruined Curial House, if it may be so called, of the early historian, the Jesuit Charlevoix. Like all French travellers of that period, he had his visions of reaching the Pacific coast, which, although never realized, yet he was a celebrated explorer and an accurate and painstaking writer. His "Histoire Generale de la Nouvelle France" is a valuable and authentic history of the period it covers, and is looked upon as one of the most reliable authorities to-day.
In this thrifty hamlet, clustering around the church, under whose steeple worship the remnants of the once fierce and dreaded Iroquois, are the last of their race. They are adroit in the use of the canoe, and for many years have acted as pilots for the St. Lawrence steamers in the perilous navigation of the Rapids. The squaws are skilful in the bead work so dear to the savage heart, and form picturesque groups in blankets and moccasins exposing their wares for sale in the railway stations.
About ten years after the British occupation, the Chateau de Ramezay fell again into government hands, being selected as the official residence. One of those who frequently crossed its threshold at this period was General Thomas Gage, second in command under Sir Jeffrey Amherst.
He was the first British Governor of Montreal, and the last of Massachusetts, and was remarkable for his doughty deeds during the American Revolution. And then in these rooms, where so often had sparkled French wit and wine, high-born English dames held sway, with the grand manners and stately dances of Queen Charlotte's Drawing Rooms at Windsor Castle. These doors were none too large for the extended skirts and towering head-dresses, some of which had satin cushions large enough to have had the family coat of arms painted on them, and yet had room to spare. The ladies naturally followed the fashions set by the Queen, who was exceedingly fond of display in dress, and had an oriental love for gems. A description of one of her toilettes has come down to us, which was almost barbaric in its profusion of ornaments. At the first Drawing Room held after King George's recovery from a dangerous illness, she "fairly glittered in a blaze of diamonds. Around her neck was a double row of these gems, to which was suspended a medallion. Across her shoulders were festooned three rows of costly pearls, and the portrait of the King was hung upon the back of her skirt from five rows of brilliants, producing a gorgeous effect. The tippet was of fine lace, fastened with the letter G. in diamonds of immense size and value, and in Her Majesty's hair was—'God save the King,' in letters formed of the same costly gems."
Under her sovereignty the guttural Anglo-Saxon tongue was heard in the homes and on the streets mingling with the mellifluent French, and the liturgy of Westminster Abbey was solemnized side by side with the ritual of St. Peter's in the hush of Sabbaths, after the din and clamour of war had ceased, and quiet once more reigned in the grey old town.
As memorials of those days of strife, carnage and conquest, some Canadian names have taken root in British soil. Gen. James Murray chose the name of Beauport for his country seat, and that of the Earls of Amherst, among the hop gardens and rose hedges of Kent, bears the name of Montreal, Amherst having been created Baron of Montreal.
In the year 1775, when the thirteen American Colonies had risen in arms against the Motherland, it was to be expected that they would desire to have the assistance of those north of the forty-ninth parallel. Being so recently laid under British allegiance, it was supposed there would be much sympathy for the young cause in the Canadian Colonies. But, whether the treaty which had been made had been considered gracious in its terms, or that the horrible memories of war had not had time to die away, or from a combination of causes, the French-English provinces refused to take up the Colonial grievances. To compel them to do this, an expedition, consisting of Col. Ethan Allen and his "Green Mountain Boys," was detached against Montreal. Arriving on the opposite bank of the river, just below the town, with about one hundred and fifty men, he crossed over from Longueuil and reached the eastern suburbs at about ten o'clock p.m., when he proceeded to billet his men in private houses. That was before the days of telephones, so it was some time before the news reached the city and the gates were closed. The rash project of so small a force attempting to beleaguer a walled town of fourteen thousand inhabitants could have but one outcome, and it resulted in the capture of Ethan Allen. He was brought in through the Quebec Gate, or Porte St. Martin, sent to England and lodged in Pendennis Castle, where he could hear the moan of the wide sea that separated him from the land he loved and longed to fight for.
But the expedition was not abandoned on account of this repulse, for soon General Montgomery appeared. Rattray describes Montgomery as a brave officer of generous and exemplary character. He was an Irishman, a lieutenant in the 17th Foot, but resigned his commission in the year 1772, owing, it is said, to some grievance connected with promotion; when he settled and married in the State of New York. Crossing the Canadian lines he captured Forts St. Jean and Chambly, the latter a stone fortress on the site of a post built by Tracey's men, and thus he became possessed of ammunition and other military stores of which he stood in need. The French-Canadian Noblesse were the first to offer to defend the country against the invader, but Sir Guy Carleton, Commander-in-Chief of the forces, being without sufficient troops to successfully resist attack at this point, determined to retire to Quebec and make a resolute stand within its walls. He therefore dismissed to their homes the Canadians under arms, spiked the cannon and burned the bateaux he could not use. Three armed sloops were loaded with provisions and baggage to be ready for emergency. He felt it was a point of honour to remain at Montreal as long as possible, but it was of the utmost importance to the cause that his person should not fall into the hands of the enemy. He therefore remained until news arrived that the Americans had landed on a small island in the river, a short distance above the city, now called Nun's Island, and then hurried arrangements were made for his departure. As he left the Chateau, passing out of the main entrance and down the path that led to the river, he was followed by groups of friends and citizens, whose sad countenances evinced their forebodings of the future. The historian Bouchette, whose father was one of those in attendance on the Commander, relates the incidents of the perilous and momentous journey in the following words:—
"It was through the intrepidity of a party of Canadian boatmen that the Governor of the country was enabled, after escaping the most critical perils, to reach the Capital of the Province, where his arrival is well known to have prevented the capitulation of Quebec and the surrender of the country. In reverting to the history of the Revolutionary contest, no event will be found more strikingly illustrative of the extraordinary chances of war than the perilous, though fortunate, adventure of the Commander-in-Chief of the army in Canada, whose descent by water from Montreal to Quebec was effected with safety in the very teeth of danger. The shores of the St. Lawrence for upwards of fifty miles below the city were possessed by the enemy, who had constructed armed rafts and floating batteries at the junction of the Sorel with the St. Lawrence, to cut off communication with the Capital. Upon the successful issue of so hazardous an attempt depended the preservation of Canada, and the taking of General Carleton, which appeared nearly certain, would have rendered its fate inevitable; but the happy arrival of the Governor at Quebec at so critical a juncture, and the well-advised and active steps which he immediately adopted, secured to Britain a footing in that beautiful portion of America which circumstances threatened to forever deny her. A clandestine escape from the surrounding enemy was the only alternative left, and an experienced officer, distinguished for his intrepidity and courage, was immediately sent for to concert measures for the General's precipitate departure. Captain Bouchette, the officer selected for this purpose, then in command of an armed vessel in the harbour, and who was styled the 'wild pigeon' on account of the celerity of his movements, zealously assumed the responsible duty assigned him, suggesting at the same time the absolute necessity of the General's disguise in the costume of a Canadian peasant fisherman. This was deemed prudent as increasing the chances of escape, if, as seemed probable, they should fall in with the enemy, whose gun-boats, chiefly captures, were cruising in various parts of the river.
"It was a dark and damp night in November, a light skiff with muffled paddles, manned by a few chosen men, provisioned with three biscuits each, lay alongside the waiting vessel." Under cover of the night, the disguised Governor embarked, attended by an orderly sergeant, and his devoted Aide-de-Camp, Charles Terieu de la Perade, Sieur de Lanaudiere, Seigneur de Ste. Anne, and a lineal descendant of de Ramezay. The skiff silently pushed off, the Captain frequently communicating his orders in a preconcerted manner by silently touching the shoulder or head of the man next to him, who passed on the signal to the one nearest, and so on. "Their perplexity increased as they approached the Berthier Islands, from the knowledge that the enemy had taken up strong positions at this point, especially in the islands which commanded the channel on the south-west of Lake St. Peter, which compelled their adoption of the other to the northward, although the alternative seemed equally fraught with peril, as the American troops were encamped on the banks. The most eminent danger they experienced was passing through the 'Narrows' at Berthier, the shores of which were lined by American bivouacs, whose blazing fires, reflecting far out on the surface of the waters, obliged them to stoop, cease paddling and allow themselves to drift down with the current, imitating the appearance of drifting timber frequently seen in the St. Lawrence. So near did they approach, that the Sentinel's exulting shout of 'All's well' occasionally broke upon the awful stillness of the night. Their perilous situation was increased by the constant barking of dogs that seemed to threaten them with discovery. It evidently required the greatest prudence and good fortune to escape the vigilance of an enemy thus stationed. The descent was, however, happily made by impelling the skiff smoothly along the water, and paddling with the hands for a distance of nine miles. After ascertaining that the enemy had not yet occupied Three Rivers (a point half way to Quebec), they repaired thither to recruit from their fatigue, when the whole party narrowly escaped being made prisoners by a detachment of the American Army which was then entering the town. Overcome by exhaustion, the General leaned over a table in an inner room and fell asleep. The clang of arms was presently heard in the outer passage, and soon afterward American soldiers filled the adjoining apartment to that in which the General himself was, but his disguise proved his preservation. Captain Bouchette, with peculiar self-possession and affected listlessness, walked up to the Governor, and with the greatest familiarity beckoned him away, at the same time apprising him of the threatened danger. Passing through the midst of the heedless guards, and hastening to the beach, they moved oft precipitately in the skiff and reached unmolested the foot of the Richelieu Rapids, where an armed brig was fortunately found lying at anchor, which on their arrival immediately set sail with a favouring breeze for Quebec.
Arrived at the Citadel, they proceeded to the Chateau St. Louis, where the important services just rendered the country were generously acknowledged."
It is remarkable that the man who shared so largely in the risk involved in this dramatic scene should have been a Frenchman, Carleton's Aide-de-camp. Between him and his Chief a warm attachment continued to exist until the end of their lives, an uninterrupted correspondence being kept up between this noble soldier, Charles Terieu de Lanaudiere and Lord Dorchester, after the latter with the title bestowed upon him for his success on this occasion had retired from active service in the colonies. De Lanaudiere's career was a remarkable one. He began with the rank of Lieutenant in the Regiment de la Sarre, and was wounded in the battle of Ste. Foye. He was afterwards received with royal favour by King George the Third, being present at the state dinner when His Majesty with the dignity which he knew how to assume when the occasion required, rang for the carriage of his sometime favourite, the fastidious Beau Brummel, who had presumed on his august good nature by undue familiarity.
THE CONTINENTAL ARMY IN CANADA.
On the Sunday following Sir Guy Carleton's departure from Montreal, as the people were proceeding to church, they were thrown into a state of great alarm by the tidings of the landing of Montgomery's force on the Island of Montreal itself, at the spot where now the great Victoria Bridge springs from the shore, this densely-packed manufacturing district being then swamps and meadows. There was no hope of attempting defence under the circumstances, so both French and English, represented by an important committee of the foremost inhabitants of the town, headed by Col. Pierre Guy, entered into terms with Montgomery respecting persons and property. At nine o'clock in the morning, Nov. 13, 1775, the American troops marched in through the same gate by which Amherst had entered sixteen years before. Just inside the walls was the most sumptuous private dwelling in the city, called the Chateau Fortier. Its walls were hung with beautiful tapestries wrought in historical scenes, and its rooms were elegantly furnished and elaborately wainscotted. This old house still stands among the tall, business blocks, strong yet as a fortress, with high tin roof and deep windows and doors. It is now used as a tavern, but even this does not spoil the charm of its unique exterior, which still remains unchanged since the winter of 1775, when Montgomery and his officers held their mess here, and the descendants of the Puritans changed the character of the French chateau, as Oliver Cromwell and his "Roundheads," a century before, altered that of the English palace of Whitehall.
Little or nothing is known of what happened in Montreal during the autumn of 1775, when the Army of Congress held possession of the town. There may, and doubtless were, some sympathizers in the city who frequented the Chateau Fortier, but the loyalists avoided its vicinity as much as policy permitted. The French and English ladies looked askance at the American soldiers, and if a town, invested by an enemy, indulged in any form of merriment, it is probable that no invitation was ever addressed to General Montgomery or Brigadier-General Wooster. In their rounds of the town it may have been that glimpses of home gatherings in the firelight may have given to these men of war many a twinge of homesickness for hearths across the border, where women who had been clad in satin and brocade sat spinning homespun, and were content to drink spring water from the hills, while the tea they had loved to sip in their Colonial drawing-rooms was floating about the Boston beaches. If the Boys in blue and buff encountered any of the Montreal maidens in their walks by the river, or glanced at them as they passed through the gates to wander in the maple woods around, the English girls passed them haughtily with a cold disdain in their blue eyes, and the French demoiselles flashed a fine scorn from the depths of their dark orbs, which wounded as keenly as a thrust of steel.
Events followed each other so rapidly across the line that Montgomery, tired of inaction, resolved to carry out before the year ended his cherished plan of making an assault on Quebec, and proceeded to join Arnold's men, who, half-famished and in rags, had arrived outside that city's walls.
Arnold, who was born at Norwich, Connecticut, Jan. 14, 1741, was, it is said, a very handsome man, but his character was a striking combination of contradictory qualities, and his career marked by extremes. He was the bearer of a letter from General Washington to the Canadians, in which was written: "We have taken up arms in defence of our liberty, our property, our wives and our children. The Grand American Congress has sent an army into your province, not to plunder but to protect you. To co-operate with this design I have detached Col. Arnold into your country, with a part of the Army under my command. Come then, ye generous citizens, range yourselves under the standard of general liberty, against which all the force of artifice and tyranny will never be able to prevail."
Arnold with his two regiments, numbering together about eleven hundred men, had left Boston in the month of September, with the fixed intention of penetrating the unbroken wilderness which lay between the two cities. On the twenty-second of the month he embarked with his troops on the Kennebec River, in two hundred batteaux, and notwithstanding "all the natural impediments, the ascent of the rapid streams, interrupted by frequent portages, through thick woods and swamps, in spite of accidents, the desertion of one-third of their number, difficulties and privations so great as on one occasion to compel them to kill their dogs for sustenance;" after thirty-two days of the perils of this wilderness march they came in sight of the first settlement near Quebec.
About a week later, when darkness had fallen along the river shores and lights twinkled from the little dwellings of the lower town on the opposite bank, they embarked in canoes for a silent passage across, and arrived early in the morning at Wolfe's Cove, where, sixteen years before, a similar landing had been effected, with the same purpose in view of assaulting the garrison in the seemingly impregnable fortress. For weeks the blockade was maintained, the American troops being established in every house near the walls, more especially in the vicinity of the Intendant's Palace, which once had been gorgeous with the prodigal luxury and magnificence for which this old Chateau had been notorious. The roughly-shod New England soldiers tramped through the rooms and up the noble staircases on which ladies of fashion had glided when the infamous Intendant Bigot had disgraced his King and office by his profligacies. These men, establishing themselves in the cupola, found it an excellent vantage point to fire upon and annoy the sentries on guard.
On the 5th of December General Montgomery arrived with his troops from Montreal and joined Arnold. "They sent a flag of truce to General Carleton, who utterly disregarded it, declaring that he would not have any communication with rebels unless they came to claim the King's mercy."
General Montgomery, realizing that it was impossible to carry on a regular siege, with neither the engineers nor artillery requisite for the purpose, determined upon a night attack. This intention became known to the garrison, and the most careful precautions were taken against surprise. For several days those on duty and in responsible positions observed the strictest vigilance, even sleeping in their clothes, with their arms within reach, to be ready for the slightest alarm. The report reached the garrison that Montgomery had said that he would dine within the walls on Christmas Day, and he certainly seemed to consider himself sure of victory.
Arnold's communications to Carleton has been treated with contempt, no parley being entered into nor conditions considered. Montgomery tried various expedients to have his messages received, but without success, until an old woman was found willing to carry them in. On her errand becoming known, she was arrested, imprisoned for a few hours and then drummed out of the city, thus receiving the most disgraceful dismissal possible in military discipline. The two letters of which she was the bearer were directed, one to Carleton and the other to the citizens.
That to the Governor read:—
"I am at the head of troops accustomed to success, confident of the righteousness of the cause they are engaged in and inured to danger."
To the people his words were:—
"My friends and fellow subjects, 'tis with the utmost compunction I find myself reduced to measures which may overwhelm you with distress. The city in flames at this severe season, a general attack on your wretched works, defended by a more wretched garrison, the confusion, carnage and plunder which must be the consequence of such an attack, fill me with horror! Let me entreat you to use your endeavours to procure my peaceable admission. I have not the reproach to make my own conscience that I have not warned you of your danger."
Montgomery, waiting for a night of unusual darkness, during which he hoped to place his ladders against the barriers unnoticed by the guards, found the 31st of December suited to his purpose. On the last day of the year, when in Boston, New York and other American towns, family re-unions and festive gatherings were taking place, as far as the disturbed state of the country permitted, in a blinding snow-storm, poorly-clad, but resolute, these troops stood in line of battle, waiting for the word of command through the dreary hours of that night, in which every belfry in New England was chiming out the dawn of the New Year, which was to be the greatest in the Republic's history—1776—the birth year of the nation.
At four o'clock in the morning two rockets glared redly to the sky, and were immediately responded to by answering signals, which were observed from the ramparts. The solitary sentinel on St. John's Bastion reported an armed body of men approaching. It was a feint to distract attention from the point where Montgomery was to make the attack.
The tidings spread that the riflemen of New England were at the gates; the peaceable denizens of the town were startled with the cry of "To arms! To arms!" from officers hastening through the streets. The pickets in the Recollet Convent hurriedly gathered—the church bells clanged out the alarm for the troops to march at once to their posts, while drums beat and muskets rattled.
"Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro, And gathering tears and tremblings of distress, And cheeks all pale—and whispering with white lips, 'The foe! They come, they come!'"
Lights glimmered from the frost-covered casements as fearful mothers tried to still the cries of their children, frightened with the unusual clamour. Hands were rung and tearful farewells taken of those whose duty called them out, with no certainty of return, for
"Who could guess if ever more should meet those mutual eyes?"
Arnold's men rushed at the barricades in Sault-au-Matelot st., with the words "Victory or Death" stuck in their hats, while Montgomery approached by a path known as "Pres-de-Ville." It was extremely narrow, and obstructed with blocks of ice and snow-drifts. It was in the neighbourhood of where now are the wharves of the Allan Line Steamship Co.
In the narrowest part the Americans marched slowly and cautiously. They passed the outer barrier without resistance and approached the inner, commanded by Dambourges. All was apparently unwarned and silent, but it was not deserted. Within was a masked battery of only a few three-pounders, with a little band of Canadians, eight British Militia and nine seamen to work the guns. The force advanced to within thirty yards, with Montgomery in front. Beside a gun, which pointed directly down their path, Sergeant Hugh McQuarters stood ready, the match in his hand lighted to send the deadly missile at the advancing column.
A quick movement—a flash—a dull boom—and the fearless leader of the assault fell dead, with twelve others, including his secretary and aide-de-camp—Arnold, his lieutenant, being wounded, and thus ended the fifth and last siege of Quebec.
It was well for Quebec that her gates that night were not thrown open to the sack of troops, among which was Aaron Burr, who had accompanied Arnold's command. These two men were possessed of less moral character than any who were connected with the Revolutionary struggle. Arnold was a strange mixture of bravery and treachery, generosity and rapacity, courage and petty spite. This arch-traitor subsequently offered to sell West Point to the British for $30,000, then took service among his country's foes, and returned to pillage and ravage his former comrades. Aaron Burr, though descended from generations of clergymen, among whom was the saintly and learned Jonathan Edwards, was guilty of murder, treason, and every other vice by which a man could become notorious, his whole career leaving dishonour, blasting, misery and death, like the trail of a venomous serpent, behind him.
Governor Carleton, being desirous of ascertaining the certainty of Montgomery's fate, sent an aide-de-camp to enquire if any of the American prisoners would identify the body. A field officer, who had commanded in Arnold's Division, consented to perform the sad office. He followed the aide-de-camp to the Pres-de-Ville guard, and singled out from among the other bodies his General's remains, by the side of which lay his sword, at the same time pronouncing with the deepest emotion a glowing eulogium of the worth and character of him who, frozen stiff and cold, had been found half buried in his winding-sheet—a Canadian snow-drift. Deeply impressed by the scene and circumstances, Sir Guy Carleton ordered that his late enemy be interred in the foreign soil with the glory of martial, burial honours. In the Chateau Museum may be seen a sword which was picked up in the morning after Montgomery's repulse. It is in a good state of preservation, much care evidently having since been bestowed upon it.
"Of these five sieges, in the years 1629, 1690, 1759, 1760 and 1775, none were pushed with more spirit and apparent prospects of success than this blockade of the city by the two armies sent by Congress in the autumn of 1775, under the advice of the illustrious General George Washington; and, had there been a governor less firm, less wise and less conciliating than Sir Guy Carleton, the Star-Spangled Banner would now be floating from Cape Diamond.
Fort after fort, town after town, Ticonderoga, Crown Point, Saint John, Chambly, Montreal, Sorel and Three Rivers, had hoisted the white emblem of surrender, but there still streamed to the breeze the banner of St. George on the Citadel. With the black flag of rebellion over the suburbs and the American riflemen of undisputed courage and determination thundering at the gates, never had a brave little garrison to contend against greater odds, nor leader to accept a more unequal contest, no help from Britain being possible."
"When news reached Congress that the assault on Quebec had failed; that Montgomery had been left dead on the snowy heights, and Arnold had been borne from the field; that cold, hunger and small-pox were wasting the army, and that discipline was forgotten, the expedient was resorted to of appointing commissioners to go to Montreal to confer with Arnold, and arrange a plan for the rectification of Canadian affairs."
They were received by General Arnold in the most polite manner, conducted to the Chateau de Ramezay, the headquarters of the Continental Army, where a "genteel" company of ladies and gentlemen had assembled to welcome them, after which they supped with Arnold, probably in the dining-room adjoining the Salon.
In a vaulted cellar next to the subterranean kitchens and dungeons, Benjamin Franklin set up his printing press, the first in the city, and with it issued manifestoes to the people, to try and induce them to join in rebellion, and send delegates to the Congress at Philadelphia.
The instructions given to Franklin and the other members of the commission directed them to extend to the Canadians, "whom the Americans regarded as brothers," the means of assuring their own independence. They were also to demonstrate to the people of Canada the necessity of adopting decisive and prompt measures for coming under the protection of the American confederation.
Through the doors of the Chateau then entered Chase, Carroll, of Carrolltown (who was expected to have influence with the French people, and especially with the clergy), and others great in the young American Commonwealth's struggle for freedom. From the antiquated ovens, doubtless the brown bread and baked beans of New England succeeded the roast beef of Old England, and the entrees, fricassees and pates of the French cuisine.
In the gloom of this chamber Franklin no doubt uttered some of his wise sayings, gems of philosophy, which in his "Poor Richard's Almanac" had for years been familiar in every chimney corner of New England.
In the Montreal Gazette, which is still in circulation, the present voluminous and influential journalism of the Metropolis of the Dominion had here its origin in the setting up of this old hand printing-press, similar to if not the same which is now preserved in the Patent Office at Washington. For it Franklin sometimes made his own type and ink, engraved the wood cuts, and even carried in a wheelbarrow through the streets of Philadelphia the white paper required for the printing of his paper, the Pennsylvania Gazette. It is now called the Saturday Evening Post, and has about it a certain quaintness and originality suggestive of the great mind which gave such an impetus to the American and Canadian press of over a century ago.
"For nearly one hundred and seventy years there has been hardly a week, except only when a British army held Philadelphia, when this paper has not been sent to press regularly."
His identification with the history of letters in the United States and Canada was an epoch in the development of both. In the great army of newsboys in America Franklin was the first; he was also the first editor of a monthly magazine in the country, his having on its title page the Prince of Wales' Feathers, with the motto: 'Ich Dien.'
"He has never been surpassed in the editorial faculty, at the same time being apt as compositor, pressman, verse-maker, compiler and reporter; but as adviser, satirist and humorist he was perhaps at his best. His one and two line bits of comment and wisdom were models of pithiness, and few writers have equalled him in masterly skill in argument. He is spoken of by David Hume as the first great man of letters to whom England was beholden to America."
In addition to these qualifications, he founded the Library of Philadelphia, the American post-office system, made several valuable inventions for the improvement of heating, was the first to call practical attention to ventilation, and to attempt experiment with electricity. "He founded the American Philosophical Society, and led to the foundation of the High School system in the State of Pennsylvania, assisted in opening its first hospital, and helped to defend the city against an attack of Indians. He was a leading factor in securing the union and independence of the Colonies, being the principal mover in the repeal of the Stamp Act." He made valuable meteorological discoveries, improved navigation, and was an earnest advocate of the abolition of slavery; so that in sending Benjamin Franklin to Canada at this critical juncture, she was compelled to hold to her political convictions against one of the intellectual giants of the day. On discovering the patriotic obstinacy of the Canadians, he wrote to Congress, saying:—
"We are afraid that it will not be in our power to render our country any further service in this colony."
Perceiving the hopelessness of the situation, and that not even his matchless logic could win sympathy in his project, he left Montreal on May 11, and thus ended the efforts to coerce Canada into a struggle which was to try so sorely the energy and fortitude of the thirteen colonies—efforts which had cost them the life of one of their greatest generals—Richard Montgomery.
Franklin, when leaving, had under his escort some ladies who were returning to the United States. Of one of these he wrote to Congress, saying:—
"We left Mrs. Walker and her husband at Albany. They took such liberties in taunting us at our conduct in Canada that it came almost to a quarrel. We parted civilly, but coldly. I think they both have an excellent talent for making enemies, and I believe where they live they will never be long without them!"
Charles Carroll, who was associated with Franklin in trying to obtain the concurrence of the Canadians in revolt, was of a family which had always stood at the head of the colonial aristocracy, and which had owned the most ample estate in the country. His character was mild and pleasing, his deportment correct and faultless. By his eloquence everyone was charmed, and many were persuaded, but even his great and subtle powers in argument were abortive here. Through his daughter, Polly Carroll, he became associated afterwards with the most dignified circles of the British aristocracy. In the year 1809 two of his grand-daughters were celebrated beauties in the most exclusive social circles of Washington and Baltimore. The eldest, during a tour with her husband through Europe, formed a warm friendship with Sir Arthur Wellesley, afterwards the great Duke of Wellington. On becoming a widow and returning to London, he introduced her to his elder brother, the Marquis of Wellesley, whose wife she subsequently became. Her younger sister married Colonel Hervey, who acted as aide-de-camp to the hero of Waterloo on that momentous occasion. This family, therefore, was closely identified with that great struggle between the two nations who had fought on Canadian soil a few years before Carroll set foot upon it.
During the first Presidential court, many distinguished Frenchmen came to America; some in official capacities, others from curiosity, and many were driven into forced or voluntary exile by the French Revolution. Among these were M. de Talleyrand, the exiled Bishop of Autun, the Duke de Liancourt, the Duke de la Rochefoucauld, Louis Philippe d'Orleans and his two brothers, the Duke de Montpensier and the Count de Beaujolais.
Louis Philippe lodged in a single room over a barber's shop in Philadelphia. On one occasion, when entertaining some friends at dinner, he apologized with a courtly grace for seating one-half his guests on the side of a bed, saying he had himself occupied less comfortable places without the consolation of an agreeable company.
The exiled Prince fell in love with the beautiful Miss Bingham, the reigning belle of the city. On her royal suitor's asking her fair hand from her father, the American citizen declined the alliance with the French Prince, saying to him:—"Should you ever be restored to your hereditary position you will be too great a match for her; if not, she is too great a match for you."
One year from the fall of Montgomery, the event was celebrated by special religious services and social functions in Quebec, the city he had never succeeded in entering. "At nine o'clock grand mass was celebrated by the Bishop in the Cathedral. On this occasion those who had shown sympathy with the Congress troops had to perform public penance. The officers of the garrison and the militia, with the British inhabitants, met at 10 o'clock, waited upon Carleton, and then proceeded to the English Church. After the service a parade took place when a feu de joie was fired. Carleton himself gave a dinner to sixty people, and a public fete was given at seven o'clock, which ended with a ball."
About fifty years later, at Montgomery Place, on the banks of the Hudson, an aged face, with eyes dimmed with the tears of long years of waiting, looked sadly at the vessel that was bringing back to her the dust of her young soldier husband, which had so long lain in the gorge, near the fatal bastion. Forty-three years before, he had buckled on his sword to fight for what he considered a righteous cause, at the command of his leader, Washington. Expecting a speedy return, he marched away as she listened to the drum beats growing fainter and fainter in the distance, and, after half a century had passed, he was still to her the young soldier in his brave, blue coat, who had kissed her for that long farewell. All that is left on Canadian soil to recall this gallant though luckless soldier is the low-ceiled cottage where his body was laid out, a small tablet on the precipice, which reads, "Here Montgomery fell, 1775," and another of white marble, in the courtyard of the military prison in the Citadel, recently erected by two patriotic American girls in memory of the volunteers who fell with him.
One hundred New Year's Eves came and passed away, and, on Dec. 31st, 1875,
"There was a sound of revelry by night, And Canada's Capital had gathered there Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men."
It was with no desire to re-kindle the rancours and strifes of that distant period, but to properly celebrate an event of such importance, and commemorate that night of blustering storm, gallant attack and sore defeat a century before, that the Centennial Montgomery Ball was given. Soldiers and citizens, in the costumes of 1775, some in the identical dress worn by their ancestors in that memorable repulse; and the ladies in toilettes of the same period, received their guests as they entered the ball-room, the approaches to which were tastefully decorated. "Half way between the dancing and receiving rooms was a grand, double staircase, the sides of which were draped with the white and golden lilies of France, our Dominion Ensign, and the Stars and Stripes of the neighbouring Republic. On the other side of the broad steps were stacks of arms and warlike implements. Facing the guests as they ascended the stairs, among the huge banners which fell gracefully about the dark musketry, and parted to right and left above the drums and trumpets, there hung from the centre a red and black pennant—the American colours of 1775. Immediately underneath was the escutcheon of the United States, on which, heavily craped, was suspended the hero's sword—the weapon by which, one hundred years before, the dead, but honoured and revered hero had beckoned on his men, and which only left his hand when he like 'a soldier fell.'
"Underneath the kindly tribute to the dead General were the solemn prayerful initials of Requiescat in Pace.
"At the foot of the trophy were piled two sets of old flint-lock muskets and accoutrements, and in the centre a brass cannon, which was captured from the Americans in 1775, and which bore the 'Lone Star' and the figure of an Indian—the Arms of the State of Massachusetts. This military tableau vividly recalled the troublous times of long ago, and spoke of the patience and pluck, the bravery and sturdy manhood of a bygone century.
"On the stroke of the hour of midnight, the clear, clarion notes of a trumpet thrilled all hearts present. A panel in the wainscotting of the lower dancing-room flew open as if by magic, and out jumped a jaunty little trumpeter with a slashed and decorated jacket and the busby of a hussar. The blast he blew rang in tingling echoes far and wide, and a second later the weird piping and drumming of an unfamiliar music were heard in a remote part of the barracks.
"Nearer and nearer every moment came the sharp shrill notes of the fifes and the quick detonation of the drum-stick taps. The rattle of the drums came closer and closer, when two folding-doors opened, and through them stalked in grim solemnity the 'Phantom Guard,' led by the intrepid Sergeant Hugh McQuarters.
"Regardless of the festive decorations and the bright faces around them, the 'Guard' passed through the assembly as if they were not. On through salon and passage—past ball-room and conversation parlor—they glided with measured step, and halting in front of the 'Montgomery Trophy,' paid military honours to the memento of a hero's valiant, if unsuccessful act. Upon their taking close order, the Bombardier, who personated the dead Sergeant, and who actually wore the blood-stained sword-belt of a man who was killed in the action commemorated, advanced and delivered an address to the Commander of the Quebec Garrison, of which the concluding words were:—
'We ask of you to pay us now one tribute, By firing from these heights one last salute.'
"The grave, sonorous words of the martial request were hardly uttered, ere through the darkness of the night the great cannon boomed,—a soldier's welcome and a brave man's requiem,—which caused women's hearts to throb and men's to beat exultingly." While the whole air trembled with the sullen reverberations, which echoed from crag to crag, the glare of rockets lit up the path of Pres-de-Ville, as the signal lights had done one hundred winters before.
At the suggestion of the American Consul, the old house on St. Louis street, in which the body of Montgomery was laid out January 1st, 1776, was decorated with the American flag, and brilliantly illuminated, in honour of him who had so nobly tried to do what he considered his duty.
And thus the years of the century, as they rolled around, have in a great measure smoothed away the animosities which marked those days that tried men's souls, when the sons of those who had played around the same old English hearths fought to the death for liberty or loyalty. That the angry strifes are forgotten, leaving only the memory of the bravery which distinguished the star actors in the great drama, needs no further proof than can be found on a green hill near the Palisades, in the State of New York, where one hundred and twenty years ago a warm young heart, beating beneath the soldier's red coat, was stilled by American justice. The granite shaft on the spot tells its sad and sombre story:—
Here died, October 2nd, 1780, Major John Andre, of the British Army, who, entering the American lines on a Secret Mission to Benedict Arnold for the Surrender of West Point, was taken prisoner, tried and condemned as a spy.
His death, though according to the stern code of war, moved even his enemies to pity, and both armies mourned the fate of one so young and so brave. In 1821 his remains were removed to Westminster Abbey.
A hundred years after his execution this stone was placed above the spot where he lay, by a citizen of the States against which he fought; not to perpetuate a record of strife, but in token of those better feelings which have since united two nations, one in race, in language and religion, with the earnest hope that this friendly union will never be broken.
"He was more unfortunate than criminal, An accomplished man and a gallant officer."
An American visitor to Quebec was recently shown the cannon used in the trophy, which the British Corporal proudly explained had been taken at Bunker Hill.
"Ah! yes, friend," the stranger replied, "you have the cannon, but we have the hill."
On the top of the monument, near Boston, which marks the spot on which this battle took place, are two guns similar to this one, the inscription on which corroborates the soldier's statement; it reads:—
"Sacred to Liberty."
This is one of the four cannon which constituted the whole train of field artillery possessed by the British Colonies of North America, at the commencement of the War on the 19th of April, 1775. This cannon and its fellow belonged to a number of citizens of Boston.
The other two, the property of the Government of Massachusetts, were taken by the enemy.
With the failure of the American expedition, and the return of the British troops to Montreal, the Chateau again became Government headquarters and was called Government House.
When internal and international tranquillity were completely restored, and the people were permitted to return to their ordinary avocations of life, Sir Guy Carleton established himself at Quebec with his wife, the Lady Maria, and their three children, one of whom had been born in Canada. She had joined him at Montreal, being the bearer of the decoration of the Order of the Bath, which she had received from the hands of the King to present to her husband. Sir Guy Carleton or Lord Dorchester was one of those men "who, during a long and varied public life, lived so utterly irreproachably, that his memory remains unstained by the charge of any semblance of a vice."
On the occasion of his last appearance in an official character he arrived to make his final inspection of the troops. After general parade the officers waited upon him to pay their last respects to one who had been the bulwark of Canada through her greatest vicissitudes. The leave-taking of their old General, whom they never expected to see again, was marked by the deepest feelings of regard and regret. His connection with Canadian history covered a period marked by events of a nature the most critical, the results of which will colour the entire future of the Dominion.
Between the years eighteen thirty-seven and forty, when Canada was torn by internal rebellion, the Earl of Elgin, who was then Governor-General, drove in hot haste to the Chateau, where had sat the special council during the suspension of the Constitution. After giving the Queen's sanction to what was called by a certain party "The Rebel Indemnity Bill," he rushed into one door and out of another, when this Peer of the Realm, in all the dignity of coach and four, postillions and outriders, was pelted with rotten eggs and other unpleasant missiles. Then, in the dark of night, at the instance of some so-called politicians, the mob moved on to the Parliament buildings, and, most unfortunately for Montreal, deliberately set them on fire; which act resulted ultimately in the removal of the seat of government to Ottawa and the decline of the glory of the old Chateau.
THE FUR KINGS.
It was to the French explorers whose names stand "conspicuous on the pages of half-savage romance," and to their successors the Scotch fur-kings, that we owe much of the geographical knowledge of the northern part of the Continent. There is some uncertainty as to who was the discoverer of the Mackenzie River, which carries its waters to the ice-fields of Polar seas, but it bears the name of one claimant to the distinction, Sir Alexander Mackenzie.
Of the other waterways of the region much valuable information was obtained by Alexander Henry in his intercourse with the native tribes. To Sir William Alexander was given the honour of being the first Scotchman to cross the Rocky Mountains. Like his fellow countrymen, he was distinguished by the same characteristics which made their fathers in tartan and kilt foemen "worthy of any man's steel," and themselves fit successors of the bearers of such honourable names as duLuth, Joliet and de La Verandrye. A few rods from the gate of the Chateau de Ramezay is a tall warehouse which bears on its peaked gable the date 1793. It was in this old building that the early business years of John Jacob Astor, the New York millionaire, were spent. It was the property of the North-West Fur Company, which was the centre of so much that was romantic and captivating. This Company was an association of Scottish and Canadian merchants, who, in the political changes which had taken place, had supplanted those purely French. In energy and enterprise they did not exceed their predecessors, but had more capital and influence at their command.
In consequence of their more lavish measures, they were called the "Lordly Nor' Westers." Full justice has been done them by the pen of Washington Irving, who, in writing the tale of "Astoria," that Northwestern "Utopia," so splendid in its conception, but so lamentable in its failure, became familiar with their life in all its phases. He says:—"To behold the North-West Company in all its grandeur it was necessary to witness the annual gathering at Fort William. On these occasions might be seen the change since the unceremonious time of the old French traders, with their roystering coureurs des bois and voyageurs gaily returning from their adventurous trading in the pathless regions of the West. Then the aristocratic character of the Briton, or rather the feudal spirit of the Highlander, shone out magnificently. Every partner who had charge of an inferior post felt like the chieftain of a Highland clan. To him a visit to the grand conference at Fort William was a most important event, and he repaired thither as to a meeting of Parliament. They were wrapped in rich furs, their huge canoes being freighted with every luxury and convenience. The partners at Montreal were the lords of these occasions, as they ascended the river, like sovereigns making a progress. At Fort William an immense wooden building was the council chamber and also the banqueting hall, decorated with Indian arms and accoutrements, and with trophies of the fur trade. The great and mighty councils alternated with feasts and revels." These old days of primitive bartering are gone forever from the St. Lawrence, but to-day as it flows in majesty to the ocean, carrying with it one-third of the fresh water of the world, it is a great highway for the commerce of the globe.
The University of McGill stands on what was once, in part, the ancient village of Hochelaga, which was visited by Jacques Cartier, and was later the domain belonging to old "Burnside Hall." Its cheerful fire many a time shone out under the shadow of Mount Royal, when were gathered around its board Simon McTavish, Duncan McGillivray, Sir John Franklin and Joseph Frobisher. With them was frequently seen Thomas Douglas, Earl of Selkirk, who formulated the scheme of populating the prairies of the North-West with poverty-stricken and down-trodden tenants from older lands, many of whom lie in the old grave-yard of the Kildonan settlement on the Red River of the North, a few miles from the City of Winnipeg. Their descendants with their Scotch thrift form the backbone of that progressive province of such magnificent possibilities. Their weary journeys overland, toilsome portages and struggles with want and isolation are now mere matters of history, for the overflow population of the crowded centres of Europe are carried in a few days from sea to sea with every possible convenience and even luxury. The great Canadian transcontinental line has spanned the valleys and crossed the mountains, literally opening up a highway for the thousands who from the ends of the earth are yearly crowding into these vast fertile plains and sub-arctic gold fields.
Franklin lies in an unknown grave among Northern snows, lost in his attempt, at the age of sixty, to find the North Pole. He was last seen moored to an iceberg in Baffin's Bay, apparently waiting for a favourable opportunity to begin work in what is known as the Middle Sea. The problem of his fate long baffled discovery, although many an earnest searching party, in the Polar twilight, has sought him in that region of ice and snow, in a silence broken only by the howl of the arctic blast, the scream of sea-fowl or the thundering report of an ice-floe breaking away from the mainland.
One party sent out by the Hudson Bay Co. in 1853 found traces of the expedition in some bits of metal and a silver plate engraved with the name Franklin. Another, fitted out partly by Lady Franklin, and partly by public subscription, and commanded by McClintock, afterwards Sir Leopold McClintock, learned from an Eskimo woman that she had heard of a party of men, whom it was said "fell down and died as they walked." With the exception of these faint traces, their fate is still wrapped in obscurity.
Few visitors to the city, as the Palace cars of the Canadian Pacific Railway carry them into the mammoth station on Dalhousie Square, realize the historic associations which cling around this spot. In the magnificently equipped dining-room of the Company's Hotel, as delicacies from the most distant parts of the earth are laid before the traveller, he should call to remembrance the lives of deprivation and uncomplaining endurance which have made the ground now crowned by the beautiful edifice full of the most tragic interest, and filled with memories which will be immortal as long as courage and stout-heartedness are honoured.
Two hundred and fifty years ago the sound of hammer and saw here awoke the echoes of the forest. Workmen who had learned their craft in old French towns, when Colbert, the great statesman and financier, was developing the architecture and industries, revenues and resources of the kingdom, here reared a wind-mill, the first industrial building in Montreal.
The winds of these autumns long ago turned the fans and ground the seed of harvests toilsomely gathered from corn-fields, among whose furrows many a time the arrow and tomahawk spilt the blood of reaper and sower. The old mill with its pastoral associations of peaceful toil in time passed away, and was succeeded by a structure dedicated to the art of war, for on the same spot stood la Citadelle. This stronghold, though primitive in its appointments, was important during the French occupation and evacuation of New France, being the last fortification held by French troops on Canadian soil.
This old earthen Citadel, a relic of mediaeval defence, was, about seventy years ago, removed, its material being used in the leveling and enlargement of the Parade Ground, or, as it is called, the "Champ-de-Mars." Its demolition might be regretted were it not that in an age of progress even sentiment must give way before advance. The grand Hotel Viger, although built to promote the comfort of the people of the Dominion, has not destroyed the pathetic interest of the early struggles and heroism which still clothes its site, and which heightens the present appreciation of a civilization of which the old mill and fort were the pioneers.
The hospitable hearth of James McGill, graced by his noble-minded French-Canadian wife, has also long since disappeared; but through his endowment, and the prince-like gifts of William Molson, Peter Redpath, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, Sir Wm. Macdonald and many others, the torch of education has been lighted here, which shall shine a beacon for ages to come. Although but three-quarters of a century old, yet the University of McGill compares favourably with older institutions, its Mining Building being the most perfectly fitted up in the world. Its sons take rank with the most cultured minds in Europe and America, influencing to a most marked degree the educational thought of the day.
The year 1896 marked an epoch in its history, when a graduate of the class of '68 was elected to the Presidency of the British Medical Association, one of the most august and learned corporations in the world. In calling a Canadian, Dr. T. G. Roddick, M.P., to this eminent position, a signal honour was conferred, it being the first time the office was held by a Colonial member. Thirty-five years ago, a French-Canadian youth, slight in form, with broad brow and eyes full of deep thoughtfulness, stood before the Faculty and friends as the valedictorian of his class. That slender boy is to-day the great Canadian Premier, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the eloquent Statesman and the honoured of Her Majesty the Queen.
Conspicuous among the portraits of soldiers, heroes and navigators which adorn the walls of the different rooms of the Chateau, is one, a full size painting of an old Highland Chief, a veritable Rhoderick Dhu, in Scotch bonnet and dirk, who, with the call of his clan, and the pipes playing the airs of his native glen, led the charge of Bunker Hill. He was Sir John Small, who came to Canada with his regiment, the famous "Black Watch," and served under Abercrombie in the battle of Carillon. One of his descendants, visiting Boston early in the century, found on the walls of a museum, and where it may still be seen, a painting of the battle of Bunker Hill with General Small on his white horse, rallying his men to the attack. It was to the credit of the successors of those who fought that day, although only thirty or forty years had elapsed since their forefathers had met in mortal combat, that the most gentle courtesy and kindness were shown on both sides by their descendants.
A fine picture of a full-blooded Indian is that of Brant, the great Mohawk Chief, an ally of the English and a cruel and ruthless foe; on one occasion having, it is said, slain with his own hand, forty-four of his enemies. Other portraits of Jacques Cartier, Champlain, Vaudreuil, Montcalm, deLevis, Dorchester, deSalaberry and Murray are also there to be seen and admired.
Many of the streets of Montreal, such as Dorchester, Sherbrooke, Wolfe, d'Youville, Jacques Cartier, Guy, Amherst, Murray, Vaudreuil, de Lagauchetiere, Olier, Mance, Longueuil, and others equally well named, will carry down to future generations the memory of those who were prominent in the making and moulding of Canada. It is strange that one of the most insignificant streets in the city, a mere lane, of a single block in length, should bear the name of Dollard, the hero of one of the most illustrious deeds recorded in history, an event which has rightly been called the Thermopylae of Canada. The facts were as follows:—In 1660 the Colony was on the eve of extinction by the Iroquois, the whole of the tribes being on the war-path with the intention of sweeping the French from the St. Lawrence. Dollard des Ormeaux and sixteen young men of Montreal determined upon a deed which should teach the savages a lesson. They bound themselves by an oath neither to give nor take quarter. They made their wills and took the sacrament in the Chapel of the Hotel-Dieu, and then started up Lake St. Louis. They were not accustomed to the management of the frail canoes of bark, and day after day struggled to pass the currents of St. Anne's, at the head of the island, where now the pleasure yacht spreads its white sails to the breezes of summer, and on whose shores the huntsmen and hounds gaily gallop when in the woods of autumn the leaves turn crimson and gold under the mellow hunter's moon. At last, after a week had been thus spent, they entered the Ottawa River, proceeding by the shores until they descried the remains of a rough palisaded fort surrounded by a small clearing. It was only a circle enclosed by trunks of trees, but here they "made their fire and slung their kettles. Being soon joined by some friendly Hurons and Algonquins they bivouacked together. Morning, noon and night they prayed, and when at sunset the long reaches of forest on the opposite shore basked peacefully in the level rays, the rapids joined their hoarse music to the notes of their evening hymn." As their young voices floated through the forest glades, and they lay down to sleep under the stars of the sweet May skies, they thought of the bells tinkling in the still air of their loved Ville-Marie, where those they had come to die for sent up for them Aves around hearth and altar. In the words of a Canadian poet, it is thus described:—