Pioneers Of France In The New World
by Francis Parkman, Jr.
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


1612, 1613.


The arrangements just indicated were a work of time. In the summer of 1612, Champlain was forced to forego his yearly voyage to New France; nor, even in the following spring, were his labors finished and the rival interests brought to harmony. Meanwhile, incidents occurred destined to have no small influence on his movements. Three years before, after his second fight with the Iroquois, a young man of his company had boldly volunteered to join the Indians on their homeward journey, and winter among them. Champlain gladly assented, and in the following summer the adventurer returned. Another young man, one Nicolas de Vignan, next offered himself; and he also, embarking in the Algonquin canoes, passed up the Ottawa, and was seen no more for a twelvemonth. In 1612 he reappeared in Paris, bringing a tale of wonders; for, says Champlain, "he was the most impudent liar that has been seen for many a day." He averred that at the sources of the Ottawa he had found a great lake; that he had crossed it, and discovered a river flowing northward; that he had descended this river, and reached the shores of the sea; that here he had seen the wreck of an English ship, whose crew, escaping to land, had been killed by the Indians; and that this sea was distant from Montreal only seventeen days by canoe. The clearness, consistency, and apparent simplicity of his story deceived Champlain, who had heard of a voyage of the English to the northern seas, coupled with rumors of wreck and disaster, and was thus confirmed in his belief of Vignau's honesty. The Marechal de Brissac, the President Jeannin, and other persons of eminence about the court, greatly interested by these dexterous fabrications, urged Champlain to follow up without delay a discovery which promised results so important; while he, with the Pacific, Japan, China, the Spice Islands, and India stretching in flattering vista before his fancy, entered with eagerness on the chase of this illusion. Early in the spring of 1613 the unwearied voyager crossed the Atlantic, and sailed up the St. Lawrence. On Monday, the twenty-seventh of May, he left the island of St. Helen, opposite Montreal, with four Frenchmen, one of whom was Nicolas de Vignau, and one Indian, in two small canoes. They passed the swift current at St. Ann's, crossed the Lake of Two Mountains, and advanced up the Ottawa till the rapids of Carillon and the Long Saut checked their course. So dense and tangled was the forest, that they were forced to remain in the bed of the river, trailing their canoes along the bank with cords, or pushing them by main force up the current. Champlain's foot slipped; he fell in the rapids, two boulders, against which he braced himself, saving him from being swept down, while the cord of the canoe, twisted round his hand, nearly severed it. At length they reached smoother water, and presently met fifteen canoes of friendly Indians. Champlain gave them the most awkward of his Frenchmen and took one of their number in return,—an exchange greatly to his profit.

All day they plied their paddles, and when night came they made their camp-fire in the forest. He who now, when two centuries and a half are passed, would see the evening bivouac of Champlain, has but to encamp, with Indian guides, on the upper waters of this same Ottawa, or on the borders of some lonely river of New Brunswick or of Maine.

Day dawned. The east glowed with tranquil fire, that pierced with eyes of flame the fir-trees whose jagged tops stood drawn in black against the burning heaven. Beneath, the glossy river slept in shadow, or spread far and wide in sheets of burnished bronze; and the white moon, paling in the face of day, hung like a disk of silver in the western sky. Now a fervid light touched the dead top of the hemlock, and creeping downward bathed the mossy beard of the patriarchal cedar, unstirred in the breathless air; now a fiercer spark beamed from the east; and now, half risen on the sight, a dome of crimson fire, the sun blazed with floods of radiance across the awakened wilderness.

The canoes were launched again, and the voyagers held their course. Soon the still surface was flecked with spots of foam; islets of froth floated by, tokens of some great convulsion. Then, on their left, the falling curtain of the Rideau shone like silver betwixt its bordering woods, and in front, white as a snowdrift, the cataracts of the Chaudiere barred their way. They saw the unbridled river careering down its sheeted rocks, foaming in unfathomed chasms, wearying the solitude with the hoarse outcry of its agony and rage.

On the brink of the rocky basin where the plunging torrent boiled like a caldron, and puffs of spray sprang out from its concussion like smoke from the throat of a cannon, Champlain's two Indians took their stand, and, with a loud invocation, threw tobacco into the foam,—an offering to the local spirit, the Manitou of the cataract.

They shouldered their canoes over the rocks, and through the woods; then launched them again, and, with toil and struggle, made their amphibious way, pushing dragging, lifting, paddling, shoving with poles; till, when the evening sun poured its level rays across the quiet Lake of the Chaudiere, they landed, and made their camp on the verge of a woody island.

Day by day brought a renewal of their toils. Hour by hour, they moved prosperously up the long windings of the solitary stream; then, in quick succession, rapid followed rapid, till the bed of the Ottawa seemed a slope of foam. Now, like a wall bristling at the top with woody islets, the Falls of the Chats faced them with the sheer plunge of their sixteen cataracts; now they glided beneath overhanging cliffs, where, seeing but unseen, the crouched wildcat eyed them from the thicket; now through the maze of water-girded rocks, which the white cedar and the spruce clasped with serpent-like roots, or among islands where old hemlocks darkened the water with deep green shadow. Here, too, the rock-maple reared its verdant masses, the beech its glistening leaves and clean, smooth stem, and behind, stiff and sombre, rose the balsam-fir. Here in the tortuous channels the muskrat swam and plunged, and the splashing wild duck dived beneath the alders or among the red and matted roots of thirsty water willows. Aloft, the white-pine towered above a sea of verdure; old fir-trees, hoary and grim, shaggy with pendent mosses, leaned above the stream, and beneath, dead and submerged, some fallen oak thrust from the current its bare, bleached limbs, like the skeleton of a drowned giant. In the weedy cove stood the moose, neck-deep in water to escape the flies, wading shoreward, with glistening sides, as the canoes drew near, shaking his broad antlers and writhing his hideous nostril, as with clumsy trot he vanished in the woods.

In these ancient wilds, to whose ever verdant antiquity the pyramids are young and Nineveh a mushroom of yesterday; where the sage wanderer of the Odyssey, could he have urged his pilgrimage so far, would have surveyed the same grand and stern monotony, the same dark sweep of melancholy woods;—here, while New England was a solitude, and the settlers of Virginia scarcely dared venture inland beyond the sound of a cannon-shot, Champlain was planting on shores and islands the emblems of his faith. Of the pioneers of the North American forests, his name stands foremost on the list. It was he who struck the deepest and boldest strokes into the heart of their pristine barbarism. At Chantilly, at Fontainebleau, Paris, in the cabinets of princes and of royalty itself, mingling with the proud vanities of the court; then lost from sight in the depths of Canada, the companion of savages, sharer of their toils, privations, and battles, more hardy, patient, and bold than they;—such, for successive years, were the alternations of this man's life.

To follow on his trail once more. His Indians said that the rapids of the river above were impassable. Nicolas de Vignan affirmed the contrary; but, from the first, Vignau had been found always in the wrong. His aim seems to have been to involve his leader in difficulties, and disgust him with a journey which must soon result in exposing the imposture which had occasioned it. Champlain took counsel of the Indians. The party left the river, and entered the forest.

"We had a hard march," says Champlain. "I carried for my share of the luggage three arquebuses, three paddles, my overcoat, and a few bagatelles. My men carried a little more than I did, and suffered more from the mosquitoes than from their loads. After we had passed four small ponds and advanced two leagues and a half, we were so tired that we could go no farther, having eaten nothing but a little roasted fish for nearly twenty-four hours. So we stopped in a pleasant place enough by the edge of a pond, and lighted a fire to drive off the mosquitoes, which plagued us beyond all description; and at the same time we set our nets to catch a few fish."

On the next day they fared still worse, for their way was through a pine forest where a tornado had passed, tearing up the trees and piling them one upon another in a vast "windfall," where boughs, roots, and trunks were mixed in confusion. Sometimes they climbed over and sometimes crawled through these formidable barricades, till, after an exhausting march, they reached the banks of Muskrat Lake, by the edge of which was an Indian settlement.

This neighborhood was the seat of the principal Indian population of the river, and, as the canoes advanced, unwonted signs of human life could be seen on the borders of the lake. Here was a rough clearing. The trees had been burned; there was a rude and desolate gap in the sombre green of the pine forest. Dead trunks, blasted and black with fire, stood grimly upright amid the charred stumps and prostrate bodies of comrades half consumed. In the intervening spaces, the soil had been feebly scratched with hoes of wood or bone, and a crop of maize was growing, now some four inches high. The dwellings of these slovenly farmers, framed of poles covered with sheets of bark, were scattered here and there, singly or in groups, while their tenants were running to the shore in amazement. The chief, Nibachis, offered the calumet, then harangued the crowd: "These white men must have fallen from the clouds. How else could they have reached us through the woods and rapids which even we find it hard to pass? The French chief can do anything. All that we have heard of him must he true." And they hastened to regale the hungry visitors with a repast of fish.

Champlain asked for guidance to the settlements above. It was readily granted. Escorted by his friendly hosts, he advanced beyond the foot of Muskrat Lake, and, landing, saw the unaccustomed sight of pathways through the forest. They led to the clearings and cabins of a chief named Tessonat, who, amazed at the apparition of the white strangers, exclaimed that he must be in a dream. Next, the voyagers crossed to the neighboring island, then deeply wooded with pine, elm, and oak. Here were more desolate clearings, more rude cornfields and bark-built cabins. Here, too, was a cemetery, which excited the wonder of Champlain, for the dead were better cared for than the living. Each grave was covered with a double row of pieces of wood, inclined like a roof till they crossed at the ridge, a long which was laid a thick tablet of wood, meant apparently either to bind the whole together or protect it from rain. At one end stood an upright tablet, or flattened post, rudely carved with an intended representation of the features of the deceased. If a chief, the head was adorned with a plume. If a warrior, there were figures near it of a shield, a lance, a war-club, and a bow and arrows; if a boy, of a small bow and one arrow; and if a woman or a girl, of a kettle, an earthen pot, a wooden spoon, and a paddle. The whole was decorated with red and yellow paint; and beneath slept the departed, wrapped in a robe of skins, his earthly treasures about him, ready for use in the land of souls.

Tessouat was to give a tabagie, or solemn feast, in honor of Champlain, and the chiefs and elders of the island were invited. Runners were sent to summon the guests from neighboring hamlets; and, on the morrow, Tessonat's squaws swept his cabin for the festivity. Then Champlain and his Frenchmen were seated on skins in the place of honor, and the naked guests appeared in quick succession, each with his wooden dish and spoon, and each ejaculating his guttural salute as he stooped at the low door. The spacious cabin was full. The congregated wisdom and prowess of the nation sat expectant on the bare earth. Each long, bare arm thrust forth its dish in turn as the host served out the banquet, in which, as courtesy enjoined, he himself was to have no share. First, a mess of pounded maize, in which were boiled, without salt, morsels of fish and dark scraps of meat; then, fish and flesh broiled on the embers, with a kettle of cold water from the river. Champlain, in wise distrust of Ottawa cookery, confined himself to the simpler and less doubtful viands. A few minutes, and all alike had vanished. The kettles were empty. Then pipes were filled and touched with fire brought in by the squaws, while the young men who had stood thronged about the entrance now modestly withdrew, and the door was closed for counsel.

First, the pipes were passed to Champlain. Then, for full half an hour, the assembly smoked in silence. At length, when the fitting time was come, he addressed them in a speech in which he declared, that, moved by affection for them, he visited their country to see its richness and its beauty, and to aid them in their wars; and he now begged them to furnish him with four canoes and eight men, to convey him to the country of the Nipissings, a tribe dwelling northward on the lake which bears their name.

His audience looked grave, for they were but cold and jealous friends of the Nipissings. For a time they discoursed in murmuring tones among themselves, all smoking meanwhile with redoubled vigor. Then Tessouat, chief of these forest republicans, rose and spoke in behalf of all:—"We always knew you for our best friend among the Frenchmen. We love you like our own children. But why did you break your word with us last year when we all went down to meet you at Montreal, to give you presents and go with you to war? You were not there, but other Frenchmen were there who abused us. We will never go again. As for the four canoes, you shall have them if you insist upon it; but it grieves us to think of the hardships you must endure. The Nipissings have weak hearts. They are good for nothing in war, but they kill us with charms, and they poison us. Therefore we are on bad terms with them. They will kill you, too."

Such was the pith of Tessouat's discourse, and at each clause the conclave responded in unison with an approving grunt.

Champlain urged his petition; sought to relieve their tender scruples in his behalf; assured them that he was charm-proof, and that he feared no hardships. At length he gained his point. The canoes and the men were promised, and, seeing himself as he thought on the highway to his phantom Northern Sea, he left his entertainers to their pipes, and with a light heart issued from the close and smoky den to breathe the fresh air of the afternoon. He visited the Indian fields, with their young crops of pumpkins, beans, and French peas,—the last a novelty obtained from the traders. Here, Thomas, the interpreter, soon joined him with a countenance of ill news. In the absence of Champlain, the assembly had reconsidered their assent. The canoes were denied.

With a troubled mind he hastened again to the hall of council, and addressed the naked senate in terms better suited to his exigencies than to their dignity:

"I thought you were men; I thought you would hold fast to your word: but I find you children, without truth. You call yourselves my friends, yet you break faith with me. Still I would not incommode you; and if you cannot give me four canoes, two will Serve."

The burden of the reply was, rapids, rocks, cataracts, and the wickedness of the Nipissings. "We will not give you the canoes, because we are afraid of losing you," they said.

"This young man," rejoined Champlain, pointing to Vignau, who sat by his side, "has been to their country, and did not find the road or the people so bad as you have said."

"Nicolas," demanded Tessouat, "did you say that you had been to the Nipissings?"

The impostor sat mute for a time, and then replied, "Yes, I have been there."

Hereupon an outcry broke from the assembly, and they turned their eyes on him askance, "as if," says Champlain, "they would have torn and eaten him."

"You are a liar," returned the unceremonious host; "you know very well that you slept here among my children every night, and got up again every morning; and if you ever went to the Nipissings, it must have been when you were asleep. How can you be so impudent as to lie to your chief, and so wicked as to risk his life among so many dangers? He ought to kill you with tortures worse than those with which we kill our enemies."

Champlain urged him to reply, but he sat motionless and dumb. Then he led him from the cabin, and conjured him to declare if in truth he had seen this sea of the north. Vignan, with oaths, affirmed that all he had said was true. Returning to the council, Champlain repeated the impostor's story—how he had seen the sea, the wreck of an English ship, the heads of eighty Englishmen, and an English boy, prisoner among the Indians.

At this, an outcry rose louder than before, and the Indians turned in ire upon Vignan.

"You are a liar." "Which way did you go?" "By what rivers?" "By what lakes?" "Who went with you?"

Vignan had made a map of his travels, which Champlain now produced, desiring him to explain it to his questioners; but his assurance failed him, and he could not utter a word.

Champlain was greatly agitated. His heart was in the enterprise, his reputation was in a measure at stake; and now, when he thought his triumph so near, he shrank from believing himself the sport of an impudent impostor. The council broke up,—the Indians displeased and moody, and he, on his part, full of anxieties and doubts.

"I called Vignau to me in presence of his companions," he says. "I told him that the time for deceiving me was ended; that he must tell me whether or not he had really seen the things he had told of; that I had forgotten the past, but that, if he continued to mislead me, I would have him hanged without mercy."

Vignau pondered for a moment; then fell on his knees, owned his treachery, and begged forgiveness. Champlain broke into a rage, and, unable, as he says, to endure the sight of him, ordered him from his presence, and sent the interpreter after him to make further examination. Vanity, the love of notoriety, and the hope of reward, seem to have been his inducements; for he had in fact spent a quiet winter in Tessonat's cabin, his nearest approach to the northern sea; and he had flattered himself that he might escape the necessity of guiding his commander to this pretended discovery. The Indians were somewhat exultant.

"Why did you not listen to chiefs and warriors, instead of believing the lies of this fellow?" And they counselled Champlain to have him killed at once, adding, "Give him to us, and we promise you that he shall never lie again."

No motive remaining for farther advance, the party set out on their return, attended by a fleet of forty canoes bound to Montreal for trade. They passed the perilous rapids of the Calumet, and were one night encamped on an island, when an Indian, slumbering in an uneasy posture, was visited with a nightmare. He leaped up with a yell, screamed, that somebody was killing him, and ran for refuge into the river. Instantly all his companions sprang to their feet, and, hearing in fancy the Iroquois war-whoop, took to the water, splashing, diving, and wading up to their necks, in the blindness of their fright. Champlain and his Frenchmen, roused at the noise, snatched their weapons and looked in vain for an enemy. The panic-stricken warriors, reassured at length, waded crestfallen ashore, and the whole ended in a laugh.

At the Chaudiere, a contribution of tobacco was collected on a wooden platter, and, after a solemn harangue, was thrown to the guardian Manitou. On the seventeenth of June they approached Montreal, where the assembled traders greeted them with discharges of small arms and cannon. Here, among the rest, was Champlain's lieutenant, Du Parc, with his men, who had amused their leisure with hunting, and were revelling in a sylvan abundance, while their baffled chief, with worry of mind, fatigue of body, and a Lenten diet of half-cooked fish, was grievously fallen away in flesh and strength. He kept his word with DeVignau, left the scoundrel unpunished, bade farewell to the Indians, and, promising to rejoin then the next year, embarked in one of the trading-ships for France.




In New France, spiritual and temporal interests were inseparably blended, and, as will hereafter appear, the conversion of the Indians was used as a means of commercial and political growth. But, with the single-hearted founder of the colony, considerations of material advantage, though clearly recognized, were no less clearly subordinate. He would fain rescue from perdition a people living, as he says, "like brute beasts, without faith, without law, without religion, without God." While the want of funds and the indifference of his merchant associates, who as yet did not fully see that their trade would find in the missions its surest ally, were threatening to wreck his benevolent schemes, he found a kindred spirit in his friend Houd, secretary to the King, and comptroller-general of the salt-works of Bronage. Near this town was a convent of Recollet friars, some of whom were well known to Houel. To them he addressed himself; and several of the brotherhood, "inflamed," we are told, "with charity," were eager to undertake the mission. But the Recollets, mendicants by profession, were as weak in resources as Champlain himself. He repaired to Paris, then filled with bishops, cardinals, and nobles, assembled for the States-General. Responding to his appeal, they subscribed fifteen hundred livres for the purchase of vestments, candles, and ornaments for altars. The King gave letters patent in favor of the mission, and the Pope gave it his formal authorization. By this instrument the papacy in the person of Paul the Fifth virtually repudiated the action of the papacy in the person of Alexander the Sixth, who had proclaimed all America the exclusive property of Spain.

The Recollets form a branch of the great Franciscan Order, founded early in the thirteenth century by Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint, hero, or madman, according to the point of view from which he is regarded, he belonged to an era of the Church when the tumult of invading heresies awakened in her defence a band of impassioned champions, widely different from the placid saints of an earlier age. He was very young when dreams and voices began to reveal to him his vocation, and kindle his high-wrought nature to sevenfold heat. Self-respect, natural affection, decency, became in his eyes but stumbling-blocks and snares. He robbed his father to build a church; and, like so many of the Roman Catholic saints, confounded filth with humility, exchanged clothes with beggars, and walked the streets of Assisi in rags amid the hootings of his townsmen. He vowed perpetual poverty and perpetual beggary, and, in token of his renunciation of the world, stripped himself naked before the Bishop of Assisi, and then begged of him in charity a peasant's mantle. Crowds gathered to his fervid and dramatic eloquence. His handful of disciples multiplied, till Europe became thickly dotted with their convents. At the end of the eighteenth century, the three Orders of Saint Francis numbered a hundred and fifteen thousand friars and twenty-eight thousand nuns. Four popes, forty-five cardinals, and forty-six canonized martyrs were enrolled on their record, besides about two thousand more who had shed their blood for the faith. Their missions embraced nearly all the known world; and, in 1621, there were in Spanish America alone five hundred Franciscan convents.

In process of time the Franciscans had relaxed their ancient rigor; but much of their pristine spirit still subsisted in the Recollets, a reformed branch of the Order, sometimes known as Franciscans of the Strict Observance.

Four of their number were named for the mission of New France,—Denis Jamay, Jean Dolbean, Joseph le Caron, and the lay brother Pacifique du Plessis. "They packed their church ornaments," says Champlain, "and we, our luggage." All alike confessed their sins, and, embarking at Honfleur, reached Quebec at the end of May, 1615. Great was the perplexity of the Indians as the apostolic mendicants landed beneath the rock. Their garb was a form of that common to the brotherhood of Saint Francis, consisting of a rude garment of coarse gray cloth, girt at the waist with the knotted cord of the Order, and furnished with a peaked hood, to be drawn over the head. Their naked feet were shod with wooden sandals, more than an inch thick.

Their first care was to choose a site for their convent, near the fortified dwellings and storehouses built by Champlain. This done, they made an altar, and celebrated the first mass ever said in Canada. Dolbean was the officiating priest; all New France kneeled on the bare earth around him, and cannon from the ship and the ramparts hailed the mystic rite. Then, in imitation of the Apostles, they took counsel together, and assigned to each his province in the vast field of their mission,—to Le Caron the Hurons, and to Dolbean the Montagnais; while Jamay and Du Plessis were to remain for the present near Quebec.

Dolbean, full of zeal, set out for his post, and in the next winter tried to follow the roving hordes of Tadoussac to their frozen hunting-grounds. He was not robust, and his eyes were weak. Lodged in a hut of birch bark, full of abominations, dogs, fleas, stench, and all uncleanness, he succumbed at length to the smoke, which had wellnigh blinded him, forcing him to remain for several days with his eyes closed. After debating within himself whether God required of him the sacrifice of his sight, he solved his doubts with a negative, and returned to Quebec, only to depart again with opening spring on a tour so extensive that it brought him in contact with outlying bands of the Esquimaux. Meanwhile Le Caron had long been absent on a more noteworthy mission.

While his brethren were building their convent and garnishing their altar at Quebec, the ardent friar had hastened to the site of Montreal, then thronged with a savage concourse come down for the yearly trade. he mingled with them, studied their manners, tried to learn their languages, and, when Champlain and Pontgrave arrived, declared his purpose of wintering in their villages. Dissuasion availed nothing. "What," he demanded, "are privations to him whose life is devoted to perpetual poverty, and who has no ambition but to serve God?"

The assembled Indians were more eager for temporal than for spiritual succor, and beset Champlain with clamors for aid against the Iroquois. He and Pontgrave were of one mind. The aid demanded must be given, and that from no motive of the hour, but in pursuance of a deliberate policy. It was evident that the innumerable tribes of New France, otherwise divided, were united in a common fear and hate of these formidable bands, who, in the strength of their fivefold league, spread havoc and desolation through all the surrounding wilds. It was the aim of Champlain, as of his successors, to persuade the threatened and endangered hordes to live at peace with each other, and to form against the common foe a virtual league, of which the French colony would be the heart and the head, and which would continually widen with the widening area of discovery. With French soldiers to fight their battles, French priests to baptize them, and French traders to supply their increasing wants, their dependence would be complete. They would become assured tributaries to the growth of New France. It was a triple alliance of soldier, priest, and trader. The soldier might be a roving knight, and the priest a martyr and a saint; but both alike were subserving the interests of that commerce which formed the only solid basis of the colony. The scheme of English colonization made no account of the Indian tribes. In the scheme of French colonization they were all in all.

In one point the plan was fatally defective, since it involved the deadly enmity of a race whose character and whose power were as yet but ill understood,—the fiercest, boldest, most politic, and most ambitious savages to whom the American forest has ever given birth.

The chiefs and warriors met in council,—Algonquins of the Ottawa, and Hurons from the borders of the great Fresh-Water Sea. Champlain promised to join them with all the men at his command, while they, on their part, were to muster without delay twenty-five hundred warriors for an inroad into the country of the Iroquois. He descended at once to Quebec for needful preparation; but when, after a short delay, he returned to Montreal, he found, to his chagrin, a solitude. The wild concourse had vanished; nothing remained but the skeleton poles of their huts, the smoke of their fires, and the refuse of their encampments. Impatient at his delay, they had set out for their villages, and with them had gone Father Joseph le Caron.

Twelve Frenchmen, well armed, had attended him. Summer was at its height, and as his canoe stole along the bosom of the glassy river, and he gazed about him on the tawny multitude whose fragile craft covered the water like swarms of gliding insects, he thought, perhaps, of his whitewashed cell in the convent of Brouage, of his book, his table, his rosary, and all the narrow routine of that familiar life from which he had awakened to contrasts so startling. That his progress up the Ottawa was far from being an excursion of pleasure is attested by his letters, fragments of which have come down to us.

"It would be hard to tell you," he writes to a friend, "how tired I was with paddling all day, with all my strength, among the Indians; wading the rivers a hundred times and more, through the mud and over the sharp rocks that cut my feet; carrying the canoe and luggage through the woods to avoid the rapids and frightful cataracts; and half starved all the while, for we had nothing to eat but a little sagantite, a sort of porridge of water and pounded maize, of which they gave us a very small allowance every morning and night. But I must needs tell you what abundant consolation I found under all my troubles; for when one sees so many infidels needing nothing but a drop of water to make them children of God, one feels an inexpressible ardor to labor for their conversion, and sacrifice to it one's repose and life."

Another Recollet, Gabriel Sagard, followed the same route in similar company a few years later, and has left an account of his experience, of which Le Caron's was the counterpart. Sagard reckons from eighty to a hundred waterfalls and rapids in the course of the journey, and the task of avoiding them by pushing through the woods was the harder for him because he saw fit to go barefoot, "in imitation of our seraphic father, Saint Francis." "We often came upon rocks, mudholes, and fallen trees, which we had to scramble over, and sometimes we must force our way with head and hands through dense woods and thickets, without road or path. When the time came, my Indians looked for a good place to pass the night. Some went for dry wood; others for poles to make a shed; others kindled a fire, and hung the kettle to a stick stuck aslant in the ground; and others looked for two flat stones to bruise the Indian corn, of which they make sagamite."

This sagamite was an extremely thin porridge; and, though scraps of fish were now and then boiled in it, the friar pined away daily on this weak and scanty fare, which was, moreover, made repulsive to him by the exceeding filthiness of the cookery. Nevertheless, he was forced to disguise his feelings. "One must always keep a smiling, modest, contented face, and now and then sing a hymn, both for his own consolation and to please and edify the savages, who take a singular pleasure in hearing us sing the praises of our God." Among all his trials, none afflicted him so much as the flies and mosquitoes. "If I had not kept my face wrapped in a cloth, I am almost sure they would have blinded me, so pestiferous and poisonous are the bites of these little demons. They make one look like a leper, hideous to the sight. I confess that this is the worst martyrdom I suffered in this country; hunger, thirst, weariness, and fever are nothing to it. These little beasts not only persecute you all day, but at night they get into your eyes and mouth, crawl under your clothes, or stick their long stings through them, and make such a noise that it distracts your attention, and prevents you from saying your prayers." He reckons three or four kinds of them, and adds, that in the Montagnais country there is still another kind, so small that they can hardly be seen, but which "bite like devils' imps." The sportsman who has bivouacked in the woods of Maine will at once recognize the minute tormentors there known as "no-see-'ems."

While through tribulations like these Le Caron made his way towards the scene of his apostleship, Champlain was following on his track. With two canoes, ten Indians, Etienne Brule his interpreter, and another Frenchman, he pushed up the Ottawa till he reached the Algonquin villages which had formed the term of his former journeying. He passed the two lakes of the Allumettes; and now, for twenty miles, the river stretched before him, straight as the bee can fly, deep, narrow, and black, between its mountain shores. He passed the rapids of the Joachims and the Caribou, the Rocher Capitamne, and the Deux Rivieres, and reached at length the trihutary waters of the Mattawan. He turned to the left, ascended this little stream forty miles or more, and, crossing a portage track, well trodden, reached the margin of Lake Nipissing. The canoes were launched again, and glided by leafy shores and verdant islands till at length appeared signs of human life and clusters of bark lodges, half hidden in the vastness of the woods. It was the village of an Algonquin band, called the Nipissings,—a race so beset with spirits, infested by demons, and abounding in magicians, that the Jesuits afterwards stigmatized them as "the Sorcerers." In this questionable company Champlain spent two days, feasted on fish, deer, and bears. Then, descending to the outlet of the lake, he steered his canoes westward down the current of French River.

Days passed, and no sign of man enlivened the rocky desolation. Hunger was pressing them hard, for the ten gluttonous Indians had devoured already nearly all their provision for the voyage, and they were forced to subsist on the blueberries and wild raspberries that grew abundantly in the meagre soil, when suddenly they encountered a troop of three hundred savages, whom, from their strange and startling mode of wearing their hair, Champlain named the Cheveux Releves. "Not one of our courtiers," he says, "takes so much pains in dressing his locks." Here, however, their care of the toilet ended; for, though tattooed on various parts of the body, painted, and armed with bows, arrows, and shields of bison-hide, they wore no clothing whatever. Savage as was their aspect, they were busied in the pacific task of gathering blueberries for their winter store. Their demeanor was friendly; and from them the voyager learned that the great lake of the Hurons was close at hand.

Now, far along the western sky was traced the watery line of that inland ocean, and, first of white men except the Friar Le Caron, Champlain beheld the "Mer Douce," the Fresh-Water Sea of the Hurons. Before him, too far for sight, lay the spirit-haunted Manitonalins, and, southward, spread the vast bosom of the Georgian Bay. For more than a hundred miles, his course was along its eastern shores, among islets countless as the sea-sands,—an archipelago of rocks worn for ages by the wash of waves. He crossed Byng Inlet, Franklin Inlet, Parry Sound, and the wider bay of Matchedash, and seems to have landed at the inlet now called Thunder Bay, at the entrance of the Bay of Matchedash, and a little west of the Harbor of Penetanguishine.

An Indian trail led inland, through woods and thickets, across broad meadows, over brooks, and along the skirts of green acclivities. To the eye of Champlain, accustomed to the desolation he had left behind, it seemed a land of beauty and abundance. He reached at last a broad opening in the forest, with fields of maize, pumpkins ripening in the sun, patches of sunflowers, from the seeds of which the Indians made hair-oil, and, in the midst, the Huron town of Otonacha. In all essential points, it resembled that which Cartier, eighty years before, had seen at Montreal,—the same triple palisade of crossed and intersecting trunks, and the same long lodges of bark, each containing several families. Here, within an area of thirty or forty miles, was the seat of one of the most remarkable savage communities on the continent. By the Indian standard, it was a mighty nation; yet the entire Huron population did not exceed that of a third or fourth class American city.

To the south and southeast lay other tribes of kindred race and tongue, all stationary, all tillers of the soil, and all in a state of social advancement when compared with the roving bands of Eastern Canada: the Neutral Nation west of the Niagara, and the Eries and Andastes in Western New York and Pennsylvania; while from the Genesee eastward to the Hudson lay the banded tribes of the Iroquois, leading members of this potent family, deadly foes of their kindred, and at last their destroyers.

In Champlain the Hurons saw the champion who was to lead them to victory. There was bountiful feasting in his honor in the great lodge at Otonacha; and other welcome, too, was tendered, of which the Hurons were ever liberal, but which, with all courtesy, was declined by the virtuous Champlain. Next, he went to Carmaron, a league distant, and then to Tonagnainchain and Tequenonquihayc; till at length he reached Carhagouha, with its triple palisade thirty-five feet high. Here he found Le Caron. The Indians, eager to do him honor, were building for him a bark lodge in the neighboring forest, fashioned like their own, but much smaller. In it the friar made an altar, garnished with those indispensable decorations which he had brought with him through all the vicissitudes of his painful journeying; and hither, night and day, came a curious multitude to listen to his annunciation of the new doctrine. It was a joyful hour when he saw Champlain approach his hermitage; and the two men embraced like brothers long sundered.

The twelfth of August was a day evermore marked with white in the friar's calendar. Arrayed in priestly vestments, he stood before his simple altar; behind him his little band of Christians,—the twelve Frenchmen who had attended him, and the two who had followed Champlain. Here stood their devout and valiant chief, and, at his side, that pioneer of pioneers, Etienne Brule the interpreter. The Host was raised aloft; the worshippers kneeled. Then their rough voices joined in the hymn of praise, Te Deum laudamus; and then a volley of their guns proclaimed the triumph of the faith to the okies, the manitous, and all the brood of anomalous devils who had reigned with undisputed sway in these wild realms of darkness. The brave friar, a true soldier of the Church, had led her forlorn hope into the fastnesses of hell; and now, with contented heart, he might depart in peace, for he had said the first mass in the country of the Hurons.


1615, 1616.


The lot of the favored guest of an Indian camp or village is idleness without repose, for he is never left alone, with the repletion of incessant and inevitable feasts. Tired of this inane routine, Champlain, with some of his Frenchmen, set forth on a tour of observation. Journeying at their ease by the Indian trails, they visited, in three days, five palisaded villages. The country delighted them, with its meadows, its deep woods, its pine and cedar thickets, full of hares and partridges, its wild grapes and plums, cherries, crab-apples, nuts, and raspberries. It was the seventeenth of August when they reached the Huron metropolis, Cahiague, in the modern township of Orillia, three leagues west of the river Severn, by which Lake Simcoe pours its waters into the bay of Matchedash. A shrill clamor of rejoicing, the fixed stare of wondering squaws, and the screaming flight of terrified children hailed the arrival of Champlain. By his estimate, the place contained two hundred lodges; but they must have been relatively small, since, had they been of the enormous capacity sometimes found in these structures, Cahiague alone would have held the whole Huron population. Here was the chief rendezvous, and the town swarmed with gathering warriors. There was cheering news; for an allied nation, called Carantonans, probably identical with the Andastes, had promised to join the Hurons in the enemy's country, with five hundred men. Feasts and the war-dance consumed the days, till at length the tardy bands had all arrived; and, shouldering their canoes and scanty baggage, the naked host set forth.

At the outlet of Lake Simcoe they all stopped to fish,—their simple substitute for a commissariat. Hence, too, the intrepid Etienne Brule, at his own request, was sent with twelve Indians to hasten forward the five hundred allied warriors,—a dangerous venture, since his course must lie through the borders of the Iroquois.

He set out on the eighth of September, and on the morning of the tenth, Champlain, shivering in his blanket, awoke to see the meadows sparkling with an early frost, soon to vanish under the bright autumnal sun. The Huron fleet pursued its course along Lake Simcoe, across the portage to Balsam or Sturgeon Lake, and down the chain of lakes which form the sources of the river Trent. As the long line of canoes moved on its way, no human life was seen, no sign of friend or foe; yet at times, to the fancy of Champlain, the borders of the stream seemed decked with groves and shrubbery by the hands of man, and the walnut trees, laced with grape-vines, seemed decorations of a pleasure-ground.

They stopped and encamped for a deer-hunt. Five hundred Indians, in line, like the skirmishers of an army advancing to battle, drove the game to the end of a woody point; and the canoe-men killed them with spears and arrows as they took to the river. Champlain and his men keenly relished the sport, but paid a heavy price for their pleasure. A Frenchman, firing at a buck, brought down an Indian, and there was need of liberal gifts to console the sufferer and his friends.

The canoes now issued from the mouth of the Trent. Like a flock of venturous wild-fowl, they put boldly out upon Lake Ontario, crossed it in safety, and landed within the borders of New York, on or near the point of land west of Hungry Bay. After hiding their light craft in the woods, the warriors took up their swift and wary march, filing in silence between the woods and the lake, for four leagues along the strand. Then they struck inland, threaded the forest, crossed the outlet of Lake Oneida, and after a march of four days, were deep within the limits of the Iroquois. On the ninth of October some of their scouts met a fishing-party of this people, and captured them,—eleven in number, men, women, and children. They were brought to the camp of the exultant Hurons. As a beginning of the jubilation, a chief cut off a finger of one of the women, but desisted from further torturing on the angry protest of Champlain, reserving that pleasure for a more convenient season.

On the next day they reached an open space in the forest. The hostile town was close at hand, surrounded by rugged fields with a slovenly and savage cultivation. The young Hurons in advance saw the Iroquois at work among the pumpkins and maize, gathering their rustling harvest. Nothing could restrain the hare-brained and ungoverned crew. They screamed their war-cry and rushed in; but the Iroquois snatched their weapons, killed and wounded five or six of the assailants, and drove back the rest discomfited. Champlain and his Frenchmen were forced to interpose; and the report of their pieces from the border of the woods stopped the pursuing enemy, who withdrew to their defences, bearing with them their dead and wounded.

It appears to have been a fortified town of the Onondagas, the central tribe of the Iroquois confederacy, standing, there is some reason to believe, within the limits of Madison County, a few miles south of Lake Oneida. Champlain describes its defensive works as much stronger than those of the Huron villages. They consisted of four concentric rows of palisades, formed of trunks of trees, thirty feet high, set aslant in the earth, and intersecting each other near the top, where they supported a kind of gallery, well defended by shot-proof timber, and furnished with wooden gutters for quenching fire. A pond or lake, which washed one side of the palisade, and was led by sluices within the town, gave an ample supply of water, while the galleries were well provided with magazines of stones.

Champlain was greatly exasperated at the desultory and futile procedure of his Huron allies. Against his advice, they now withdrew to the distance of a cannon-shot from the fort, and encamped in the forest, out of sight of the enemy. "I was moved," he says, "to speak to them roughly and harshly enough, in order to incite them to do their duty; for I foresaw that if things went according to their fancy, nothing but harm could come of it, to their loss and ruin. He proceeded, therefore, to instruct them in the art of war."

In the morning, aided doubtless by his ten or twelve Frenchmen, they set themselves with alacrity to their prescribed task. A wooden tower was made, high enough to overlook the palisade, and large enough to shelter four or five marksmen. Huge wooden shields, or movable parapets, like the mantelets of the Middle Ages, were also constructed. Four hours sufficed to finish the work, and then the assault began. Two hundred of the strongest warriors dragged the tower forward, and planted it within a pike's length of the palisade. Three arquebusiers mounted to the top, where, themselves well sheltered, they opened a raking fire along the galleries, now thronged with wild and naked defenders. But nothing could restrain the ungovernable Hurons. They abandoned their mantelets, and, deaf to every command, swarmed out like bees upon the open field, leaped, shouted, shrieked their war-cries, and shot off their arrows; while the Iroquois, yelling defiance from their ramparts, sent back a shower of stones and arrows in reply. A Huron, bolder than the rest, ran forward with firebrands to burn the palisade, and others followed with wood to feed the flame. But it was stupidly kindled on the leeward side, without the protecting shields designed to cover it; and torrents of water, poured down from the gutters above, quickly extinguished it. The confusion was redoubled. Champlain strove in vain to restore order. Each warrior was yelling at the top of his throat, and his voice was drowned in the outrageous din. Thinking, as he says, that his head would split with shouting, he gave over the attempt, and busied himself and his men with picking off the Iroquois along their ramparts.

The attack lasted three hours, when the assailants fell back to their fortified camp, with seventeen warriors wounded. Champlain, too, had received an arrow in the knee, and another in the leg, which, for the time, disabled him. He was urgent, however, to renew the attack; while the Hurons, crestfallen and disheartened, refused to move from their camp unless the five hundred allies, for some time expected, should appear. They waited five days in vain, beguiling the interval with frequent skirmishes, in which they were always worsted; then began hastily to retreat, carrying their wounded in the centre, while the Iroquois, sallying from their stronghold, showered arrows on their flanks and rear. The wounded, Champlain among the rest, after being packed in baskets made on the spot, were carried each on the back of a strong warrior, "bundled in a heap," says Champlain, "doubled and strapped together after such a fashion that one could move no more than an infant in swaddling-clothes. The pain is extreme, as I can truly say from experience, having been carried several days in this way, since I could not stand, chiefly on account of the arrow-wound I had got in the knee. I never was in such torment in my life, for the pain of the wound was nothing to that of being bound and pinioned on the back of one of our savages. I lost patience, and as soon as I could bear my weight I got out of this prison, or rather out of hell."

At length the dismal march was ended. They reached the spot where their canoes were hidden, found them untouched, embarked, and recrossed to the northern shore of Lake Ontario. The Hurons had promised Champlain an escort to Quebec; but as the chiefs had little power, in peace or war, beyond that of persuasion, each warrior found good reasons for refusing to lend his canoe. Champlain, too, had lost prestige. The "man with the iron breast" had proved not inseparably wedded to victory; and though the fault was their own, yet not the less was the lustre of their hero tarnished. There was no alternative. He must winter with the Hurons. The great war party broke into fragments, each band betaking itself to its hunting-ground. A chief named Durantal, or Darontal, offered Champlain the shelter of his lodge, and he was glad to accept it.

Meanwhile, Etienne Brule had found cause to rue the hour when he undertook his hazardous mission to the Carantonan allies. Three years passed before Champlain saw him. It was in the summer of 1618, that, reaching the Saut St. Louis, he there found the interpreter, his hands and his swarthy face marked with traces of the ordeal he had passed. Brule then told him his story.

He had gone, as already mentioned, with twelve Indians, to hasten the march of the allies, who were to join the Hurons before the hostile town. Crossing Lake Ontario, the party pushed onward with all speed, avoiding trails, threading the thickest forests and darkest swamps, for it was the land of the fierce and watchful Iroquois. They were well advanced on their way when they saw a small party of them crossing a meadow, set upon them, surprised them, killed four, and took two prisoners, whom they led to Carantonan,—a palisaded town with a population of eight hundred warriors, or about four thousand souls. The dwellings and defences were like those of the Hurons, and the town seems to have stood on or near the upper waters of the Susquehanna. They were welcomed with feasts, dances, and an uproar of rejoicing. The five hundred warriors prepared to depart; but, engrossed by the general festivity, they prepared so slowly, that, though the hostile town was but three days distant, they found on reaching it that the besiegers were gone. Brule now returned with them to Carantonan, and, with enterprise worthy of his commander, spent the winter in a tour of exploration. Descending a river, evidently the Susquehanna, he followed it to its junction with the sea, through territories of populous tribes, at war the one with the other. When, in the spring, he returned to Carantonan, five or six of the Indians offered to guide him towards his countrymen. Less fortunate than before, he encountered on the way a band of Iroquois, who, rushing upon the party, scattered them through the woods. Brule ran like the rest. The cries of pursuers and pursued died away in the distance. The forest was silent around him. He was lost in the shady labyrinth. For three or four days he wandered, helpless and famished, till at length he found an Indian foot-path, and, choosing between starvation and the Iroquois, desperately followed it to throw himself on their mercy. He soon saw three Indians in the distance, laden with fish newly caught, and called to them in the Huron tongue, which was radically similar to that of the Iroquois. They stood amazed, then turned to fly; but Brule, gaunt with famine, flung down his weapons in token of friendship. They now drew near, listened to the story of his distress, lighted their pipes, and smoked with him; then guided him to their village, and gave him food.

A crowd gathered about him. "Whence do you come? Are you not one of the Frenchmen, the men of iron, who make war on us?"

Brule answered that he was of a nation better than the French, and fast friends of the Iroquois.

His incredulous captors tied him to a tree, tore out his beard by handfuls, and burned him with fire-brands, while their chief vainly interposed in his behalf. He was a good Catholic, and wore an Agnus Dei at his breast. One of his torturers asked what it was, and thrust out his hand to take it.

"If you touch it," exclaimed Brule, "you and all your race will die."

The Indian persisted. The day was hot, and one of those thunder-gusts which often succeed the fierce heats of an American midsummer was rising against the sky. Brule pointed to the inky clouds as tokens of the anger of his God. The storm broke, and, as the celestial artillery boomed over their darkening forests, the Iroquois were stricken with a superstitious terror. They all fled from the spot, leaving their victim still bound fast, until the chief who had endeavored to protect him returned, cut the cords, led him to his lodge, and dressed his wounds. Thenceforth there was neither dance nor feast to which Brule was not invited; and when he wished to return to his countrymen, a party of Iroquois guided him four days on his way. He reached the friendly Hurons in safety, and joined them on their yearly descent to meet the French traders at Montreal.

Brule's adventures find in some points their counterpart in those of his commander on the winter hunting-grounds of his Huron allies. As we turn the ancient, worm-eaten page which preserves the simple record of his fortunes, a wild and dreary scene rises before the mind,—a chill November air, a murky sky, a cold lake, bare and shivering forests, the earth strewn with crisp brown leaves, and, by the water-side, the bark sheds and smoking camp-fires of a band of Indian hunters. Champlain was of the party. There was ample occupation for his gun, for the morning was vocal with the clamor of wild-fowl, and his evening meal was enlivened by the rueful music of the wolves. It was a lake north or northwest of the site of Kingston. On the borders of a neighboring river, twenty-five of the Indians had been busied ten days in preparing for their annual deer-hunt. They planted posts interlaced with boughs in two straight converging lines, each extending mere than half a mile through forests and swamps. At the angle where they met was made a strong enclosure like a pound. At dawn of day the hunters spread themselves through the woods, and advanced with shouts, clattering of sticks, and howlings like those of wolves, driving the deer before them into the enclosure, where others lay in wait to despatch them with arrows and spears.

Champlain was in the woods with the rest, when he saw a bird whose novel appearance excited his attention; and, gun in hand, he went in pursuit. The bird, flitting from tree to tree, lured him deeper and deeper into the forest; then took wing and vanished. The disappointed sportsman tried to retrace his steps. But the day was clouded, and he had left his pocket-compass at the camp. The forest closed around him, trees mingled with trees in endless confusion. Bewildered and lost, he wandered all day, and at night slept fasting at the foot of a tree. Awaking, he wandered on till afternoon, when he reached a pond slumbering in the shadow of the woods. There were water-fowl along its brink, some of which he shot, and for the first time found food to allay his hunger. He kindled a fire, cooked his game, and, exhausted, blanketless, drenched by a cold rain, made his prayer to Heaven, and again lay down to sleep. Another day of blind and weary wandering succeeded, and another night of exhaustion. He had found paths in the wilderness, but they were not made by human feet. Once more roused from his shivering repose, he journeyed on till he heard the tinkling of a little brook, and bethought him of following its guidance, in the hope that it might lead him to the river where the hunters were now encamped. With toilsome steps he followed the infant stream, now lost beneath the decaying masses of fallen trunks or the impervious intricacies of matted "windfalls," now stealing through swampy thickets or gurgling in the shade of rocks, till it entered at length, not into the river, but into a small lake. Circling around the brink, he found the point where the brook ran out and resumed its course. Listening in the dead stillness of the woods, a dull, hoarse sound rose upon his ear. He went forward, listened again, and could plainly hear the plunge of waters. There was light in the forest before him, and, thrusting himself through the entanglement of bushes, he stood on the edge of a meadow. Wild animals were here of various kinds; some skulking in the bordering thickets, some browsing on the dry and matted grass. On his right rolled the river, wide and turbulent, and along its bank he saw the portage path by which the Indians passed the neighboring rapids. He gazed about him. The rocky hills seemed familiar to his eye. A clew was found at last; and, kindling his evening fire, with grateful heart he broke a long fast on the game he had killed. With the break of day he descended at his ease along the bank, and soon descried the smoke of the Indian fires curling in the heavy morning air against the gray borders of the forest. The joy was great on both sides. The Indians had searched for him without ceasing; and from that day forth his host, Durantal, would never let him go into the forest alone.

They were thirty-eight days encamped on this nameless river, and killed in that time a hundred and twenty deer. Hard frosts were needful to give them passage over the land of lakes and marshes that lay between them and the Huron towns. Therefore they lay waiting till the fourth of December; when the frost came, bridged the lakes and streams, and made the oozy marsh as firm as granite. Snow followed, powdering the broad wastes with dreary white. Then they broke up their camp, packed their game on sledges or on their shoulders, tied on their snowshoes, and began their march. Champlain could scarcely endure his load, though some of the Indians carried a weight fivefold greater. At night, they heard the cleaving ice uttering its strange groans of torment, and on the morrow there came a thaw. For four days they waded through slush and water up to their knees; then came the shivering northwest wind, and all was hard again. In nineteen days they reached the town of Cahiague, and, lounging around their smoky lodge-fires, the hunters forgot the hardships of the past.

For Champlain there was no rest. A double motive urged him,—discovery, and the strengthening of his colony by widening its circle of trade. First, he repaired to Carhagouha; and here he found the friar, in his hermitage, still praying, preaching, making catechisms, and struggling with the manifold difficulties of the Huron tongue. After spending several weeks together, they began their journeyings, and in three days reached the chief village of the Nation of Tobacco, a powerful tribe akin to the Hurons, and soon to be incorporated with them. The travellers visited seven of their towns, and then passed westward to those of the people whom Champlain calls the Cheveax Releves, and whom he commends for neatness and ingenuity no less than he condemns them for the nullity of their summer attire. As the strangers passed from town to town, their arrival was everywhere the signal of festivity. Champlain exchanged pledges of amity with his hosts, and urged them to come down with the Hurons to the yearly trade at Montreal.

Spring was now advancing, and, anxious for his colony, he turned homeward, following that long circuit of Lake Huron and the Ottawa which Iroquois hostility made the only practicable route. Scarcely had he reached the Nipissings, and gained from them a pledge to guide him to that delusive northern sea which never ceased to possess his thoughts, when evil news called him back in haste to the Huron towns. A band of those Algonquins who dwelt on the great island in the Ottawa had spent the winter encamped near Cahiague, whose inhabitants made them a present of an Iroquois prisoner, with the friendly intention that they should enjoy the pleasure of torturing him. The Algonquins, on the contrary, fed, clothed, and adopted him. On this, the donors, in a rage, sent a warrior to kill the Iroquois. He stabbed him, accordingly, in the midst of the Algonquin chiefs, who in requital killed the murderer. Here was a casus belli involving most serious issues for the French, since the Algonquins, by their position on the Ottawa, could cut off the Hurons and all their allies from coming down to trade. Already a fight had taken place at Cahiague the principal Algonquin chief had been wounded, and his band forced to purchase safety by a heavy tribute of wampum [33] and a gift of two female prisoners.

All eyes turned to Champlain as umpire of the quarrel. The great council-house was filled with Huron and Algonquin cltiefs, smoking with that immobility of feature beneath which their race often hide a more than tiger-like ferocity. The umpire addressed the assembly, enlarged on the folly of falling to blows between themselves when the common enemy stood ready to devour them both, extolled the advantages of the French trade and alliance, and, with zeal not wholly disinterested, urged them to shake hands like brothers. The friendly counsel was accepted, the pipe of peace was smoked, the storm dispelled, and the commerce of New France rescued from a serious peril.

Once more Champlain turned homeward, and with him went his Huron host, Durantal. Le Caron had preceded him; and, on the eleventh of July, the fellow-travellers met again in the infant capital of Canada. The Indians had reported that Champlain was dead, and he was welcomed as one risen from the grave. The friars, who were all here, chanted lands in their chapel, with a solemn mass and thanksgiving. To the two travelers, fresh from the hardships of the wilderness, the hospitable board of Quebec, the kindly society of countrymen and friends, the adjacent gardens,—always to Champlain an object of especial interest,—seemed like the comforts and repose of home.

The chief Durantal found entertainment worthy of his high estate. The fort, the ship, the armor, the plumes, the cannon, the marvellous architecture of the houses and barracks, the splendors of the chapel, and above all the good cheer outran the boldest excursion of his fancy; and he paddled back at last to his lodge in the woods, bewildered with astonishment and admiration.




At Quebec the signs of growth were faint and few. By the water-side, under the cliff, the so-called "habitation," built in haste eight years before, was already tottering, and Champlain was forced to rebuild it. On the verge of the rock above, where now are seen the buttresses of the demolished castle of St. Louis, he began, in 1620, a fort, behind which were fields and a few buildings. A mile or more distant, by the bank of the St. Charles, where the General Hospital now stands, the Recollets, in the same year, built for themselves a small stone house, with ditches and outworks for defence; and here they began a farm, the stock consisting of several hogs, a pair of asses, a pair of geese, seven pairs of fowls, and four pairs of ducks. The only other agriculturist in the colony was Louis Hebert, who had come to Canada in 1617 with a wife and three children, and who made a house for himself on the rock, at a little distance from Champlain's fort.

Besides Quebec, there were the three trading-stations of Montreal, Three Rivers, and Tadoussac, occupied during a part of the year. Of these, Tadoussac was still the most important. Landing here from France in 1617, the Recollet Paul Huet said mass for the first time in a chapel built of branches, while two sailors standing beside him waved green boughs to drive off the mosquitoes. Thither afterward came Brother Gervais Mohier, newly arrived in Canada; and meeting a crowd of Indians in festal attire, he was frightened at first, suspecting that they might be demons. Being invited by them to a feast, and told that he must not decline, he took his place among a party of two hundred, squatted about four large kettles full of fish, bear's meat, pease, and plums, mixed with figs, raisins, and biscuit procured at great cost from the traders, the whole boiled together and well stirred with a canoe-paddle. As the guest did no honor to the portion set before him, his entertainers tried to tempt his appetite with a large lump of bear's fat, a supreme luxury in their eyes. This only increased his embarrassment, and he took a hasty leave, uttering the ejaculation, "ho, ho, ho!" which, as he had been correctly informed, was the proper mode of acknowledgment to the master of the feast.

A change had now begun in the life of Champlain. His forest rovings were over. To battle with savages and the elements was more congenial with his nature than to nurse a puny colony into growth and strength; yet to each task he gave himself with the same strong devotion.

His difficulties were great. Quebec was half trading-factory, half mission. Its permanent inmates did not exceed fifty or sixty persons,—fur-traders, friars, and two or three wretched families, who had no inducement, and little wish, to labor. The fort is facetiously represented as having two old women for garrison, and a brace of hens for sentinels. All was discord and disorder. Champlain was the nominal commander; but the actual authority was with the merchants, who held, excepting the friars, nearly everybody in their pay. Each was jealous of the other, but all were united in a common jealousy of Champlain. The few families whom they brought over were forbidden to trade with the Indians, and compelled to sell the fruits of their labor to the agents of the company at a low, fixed price, receiving goods in return at an inordinate valuation. Some of the merchants were of Ronen, some of St. Malo; some were Catholics, some were Huguenots. Hence unceasing bickerings. All exercise of the Reformed religion, on land or water, was prohibited within the limits of New France; but the Huguenots set the prohibition at naught, roaring their heretical psalmody with such vigor from their ships in the river that the unhallowed strains polluted the ears of the Indians on shore. The merchants of Rochelle, who had refused to join the company, carried on a bold illicit traffic along the borders of the St. Lawrence, endangering the colony by selling fire-arms to the Indians, eluding pursuit, or, if hard pressed, showing fight; and this was a source of perpetual irritation to the incensed monopolists.

The colony could not increase. The company of merchants, though pledged to promote its growth, did what they could to prevent it. They were fur-traders, and the interests of the fur-trade are always opposed to those of settlement and population. They feared, too, and with reason, that their monopoly might be suddenly revoked, like that of De Monts, and they thought only of making profit from it while it lasted. They had no permanent stake in the country; nor had the men in their employ, who formed nearly all the scanty population of Canada. Few, if any, of these had brought wives to the colony, and none of them thought of cultivating the soil. They formed a floating population, kept from starving by yearly supplies from France.

Champlain, in his singularly trying position, displayed a mingled zeal and fortitude. He went every year to France, laboring for the interests of the colony. To throw open the trade to all competitors was a measure beyond the wisdom of the times; and he hoped only to bind and regulate the monopoly so as to make it subserve the generous purpose to which he had given himself. The imprisonment of Conde was a source of fresh embarrassment; but the young Duo de Montmorency assumed his place, purchasing from him the profitable lieuteuancy of New France for eleven thousand crowns, and continuing Champlain in command. Champlain had succeeded in binding the company of merchants with new and more stringent engagements; and, in the vain belief that these might not be wholly broken, he began to conceive fresh hopes for the colony. In this faith he embarked with his wife for Quebec in the spring of 1620; and, as the boat drew near the landing, the cannon welcomed her to the rock of her banishment. The buildings were falling to ruin; rain entered on all sides; the courtyard, says Champlain, was as squalid and dilapidated as a grange pillaged by soldiers. Madame de Champlain was still very young. If the Ursuline tradition is to be trusted, the Indians, amazed at her beauty and touched by her gentleness, would have worshipped her as a divinity. Her husband had married her at the age of twelve when, to his horror, he presently discovered that she was infected with the heresies of her father, a disguised Huguenot. He addressed himself at once to her conversion, and his pious efforts were something more than successful. During the four years which she passed in Canada, her zeal, it is true, was chiefly exercised in admonishing Indian squaws and catechising their children; but, on her return to France, nothing would content her but to become a nun. Champlain refused; but, as she was childless, he at length consented to a virtual though not formal separation. After his death she gained her wish, became an Ursuline nun, founded a convent of that order at Meaux, and died with a reputation almost saintly.

At Quebec, matters grew from bad to worse. The few emigrants, with no inducement to labor, fell into a lazy apathy, lounging about the trading-houses, gaming, drinking when drink could be had, or roving into the woods on vagabond hunting excursions. The Indians could not be trusted. In the year 1617 they had murdered two men near the end of the Island of Orleans. Frightened at what they had done, and incited perhaps by other causes, the Montagnais and their kindred bands mustered at Three Rivers to the number of eight hundred, resolved to destroy the French. The secret was betrayed; and the childish multitude, naked and famishing, became suppliants to their intended victims for the means of life. The French, themselves at the point of starvation, could give little or nothing. An enemy far more formidable awaited them; and now were seen the fruits of Champlain's intermeddling in Indian wars. In the summer of 1622, the Iroquois descended upon the settlement. A strong party of their warriors hovered about Quebec, but, still fearful of the arquebuse, forbore to attack it, and assailed the Recollet convent on the St. Charles. The prudent friars had fortified themselves. While some prayed in the chapel, the rest, with their Indian converts, manned the walls. The Iroquois respected their palisades and demi-lunes, and withdrew, after burning two Huron prisoners.

Yielding at length to reiterated complaints, the Viceroy Montmorency suppressed the company of St. Malo and Rouen, and conferred the trade of New France, burdened with similar conditions destined to be similarly broken, on two Huguenots, William and emery de Caen. The change was a signal for fresh disorders. The enraged monopolists refused to yield. The rival traders filled Quebec with their quarrels; and Champlain, seeing his authority set at naught, was forced to occupy his newly built fort with a band of armed followers. The evil rose to such a pitch that he joined with the Recollets and the better-disposed among the colonists in sending one of the friars to lay their grievances before the King. The dispute was compromised by a temporary union of the two companies, together with a variety of arrets and regulations, suited, it was thought, to restore tranquillity.

A new change was at hand. Montmorency, tired of his viceroyalty, which gave him ceaseless annoyance, sold it to his nephew, Henri de Levis, Duc de Ventadour. It was no worldly motive which prompted this young nobleman to assume the burden of fostering the infancy of New France. He had retired from the court, and entered into holy orders. For trade and colonization he cared nothing; the conversion of infidels was his sole care. The Jesuits had the keeping of his conscience, and in his eyes they were the most fitting instruments for his purpose. The Recollets, it is true, had labored with an unflagging devotion. The six friars of their Order—for this was the number which the Calvinist Caen had bound himself to support—had established five distinct missions, extending from Acadia to the borders of Lake Huron; but the field was too vast for their powers. Ostensibly by a spontaneous movement of their own, but in reality, it is probable, under influences brought to bear on them from without, the Recollets applied for the assistance of the Jesuits, who, strong in resources as in energy, would not be compelled to rest on the reluctant support of Huguenots. Three of their brotherhood—Charles Lalemant, Enemond Masse, and Jean de Brebeuf—accordingly embarked; and, fourteen years after Biard and Masse had landed in Acadia, Canada beheld for the first time those whose names stand so prominent in her annals,—the mysterious followers of Loyola. Their reception was most inauspicious. Champlain was absent. Caen would not lodge them in the fort; the traders would not admit them to their houses. Nothing seemed left for them but to return as they came; when a boat, bearing several Recollets, approached the ship to proffer them the hospitalities of the convent on the St. Charles. They accepted the proffer, and became guests of the charitable friars, who nevertheless entertained a lurking jealousy of these formidable co-workers.

The Jesuits soon unearthed and publicly burnt a libel against their Order belonging to some of the traders. Their strength was soon increased. The Fathers Noirot and De la Noue landed, with twenty laborers, and the Jesuits were no longer houseless. Brebeuf set forth for the arduous mission of the Hurons; but on arriving at Trois Rivieres he learned that one of his Franciscan predecessors, Nicolas Viel, had recently been drowned by Indians of that tribe, in the rapid behind Montreal, known to this day as the Saut au Recollet. Less ambitious for martyrdom than he afterwards approved himself, he postponed his voyage to a more auspicious season. In the following spring he renewed the attempt, in company with De la Noue and one of the friars. The Indians, however, refused to receive him into their canoes, alleging that his tall and portly frame would overset them; and it was only by dint of many presents that their pretended scruples could be conquered. Brebeuf embarked with his companions, and, after months of toil, reached the barbarous scene of his labors, his sufferings, and his death.

Meanwhile the Viceroy had been deeply scandalized by the contumacious heresy of Emery de Caen, who not only assembled his Huguenot sailors at prayers, but forced Catholics to join them. He was ordered thenceforth to prohibit his crews from all praying and psalm-singing on the river St. Lawrence. The crews revolted, and a compromise was made. It was agreed that for the present they might pray, but not sing. "A bad bargain," says the pious Champlain, "but we made the best of it we could." Caen, enraged at the Viceroy's reproofs, lost no opportunity to vent his spleen against the Jesuits, whom he cordially hated.

Eighteen years had passed since the founding of Quebec, and still the colony could scarcely be said to exist but in the founder's brain. Those who should have been its support were engrossed by trade or propagandism. Champlain might look back on fruitless toils, hopes deferred, a life spent seemingly in vain. The population of Quebec had risen to a hundred and five persons, men, women, and children. Of these, one or two families only had learned to support themselves from the products of the soil. All withered under the monopoly of the Caens. Champlain had long desired to rebuild the fort, which was weak and ruinous; but the merchants would not grant the men and means which, by their charter, they were bound to furnish. At length, however, his urgency in part prevailed, and the work began to advance. Meanwhile the Caens and their associates had greatly prospered, paying, it is said, an annual dividend of forty per cent. In a single year they brought from Canada twenty-two thousand beaver skins, though the usual number did not exceed twelve or fifteen thousand.

While infant Canada was thus struggling into a half-stifled being, the foundation of a commonwealth destined to a marvellous vigor of development had been laid on the Rock of Plymouth. In their character, as in their destiny, the rivals were widely different; yet, at the outset, New England was unfaithful to the principle of freedom. New England Protestantism appealed to Liberty, then closed the door against her; for all Protestantism is an appeal from priestly authority to the right of private judgment, and the New England Puritan, after claiming this right for himself, denied it to all who differed with him. On a stock of freedom he grafted a scion of despotism; yet the vital juices of the root penetrated at last to the uttermost branches, and nourished them to an irrepressible strength and expansion. With New France it was otherwise. She was consistent to the last. Root, stem, and branch, she was the nursling of authority. Deadly absolutism blighted her early and her later growth. Friars and Jesuits, a Ventadour and a Richelieu, shaped her destinies. All that conflicted against advancing liberty—the centralized power of the crown and the tiara, the ultramontane in religion, the despotic in policy—found their fullest expression and most fatal exercise. Her records shine with glorious deeds, the self-devotion of heroes and of martyrs; and the result of all is disorder, imbecility, ruin.

The great champion of absolutism, Richelieu, was now supreme in France. His thin frame, pale cheek, and cold, calm eye, concealed an inexorable will and a mind of vast capacity, armed with all the resources of boldness and of craft. Under his potent agency, the royal power, in the weak hands of Louis the Thirteenth, waxed and strengthened daily, triumphing over the factions of the court, the turbulence of the Huguenots, the ambitious independence of the nobles, and all the elements of anarchy which, since the death of Henry the Fourth, had risen into fresh life. With no friends and a thousand enemies, disliked and feared by the pitiful King whom he served, making his tool by turns of every party and of every principle, he advanced by countless crooked paths towards his object,—the greatness of France under a concentrated and undivided authority.

In the midst of more urgent cares, he addressed himself to fostering the commercial and naval power. Montmorency then held the ancient charge of Admiral of France. Richelieu bought it, suppressed it, and, in its stead, constituted himself Grand Master and Superintendent of Navigation and Commerce. In this new capacity, the mismanaged affairs of New France were not long concealed from him; and he applied a prompt and powerful remedy. The privileges of the Caens were annulled. A company was formed, to consist of a hundred associates, and to be called the Company of New France. Richelieu himself was the head, and the Marechal Deffiat and other men of rank, besides many merchants and burghers of condition, were members. The whole of New France, from Florida to the Arctic Circle, and from Newfoundland to the sources of the—St. Lawrence and its tributary waters, was conferred on them forever, with the attributes of sovereign power. A perpetual monopoly of the fur-trade was granted them, with a monopoly of all other commerce within the limits of their government for fifteen years. The trade of the colony was declared free, for the same period, from all duties and imposts. Nobles, officers, and ecclesiastics, members of the Company, might engage in commercial pursuits without derogating from the privileges of their order; and, in evidence of his good-will, the King gave them two ships of war, armed and equipped.

On their part, the Company were bound to convey to New France during the next year, 1628, two or three hundred men of all trades, and before the year 1643 to increase the number to four thousand persons, of both sexes; to lodge and support them for three years; and, this time expired, to give them cleared lands for their maintenance. Every settler must be a Frenchman and a Catholic; and for every new settlement at least three ecclesiastics must be provided. Thus was New France to be forever free from the taint of heresy. The stain of her infancy was to be wiped away. Against the foreigner and the Huguenot the door was closed and barred. England threw open her colonies to all who wished to enter,—to the suffering and oppressed, the bold, active, and enterprising. France shut out those who wished to come, and admitted only those who did not,—the favored class who clung to the old faith and had no motive or disposition to leave their homes. English colonization obeyed a natural law, and sailed with wind and tide; French colonization spent its whole struggling existence in futile efforts to make head against them. The English colonist developed inherited freedom on a virgin soil; the French colonist was pursued across the Atlantic by a paternal despotism better in intention and more withering in effect than that which he left behind. If, instead of excluding Huguenots, France had given them an asylum in the west, and left them there to work out their own destinies, Canada would never have been a British province, and the United States would have shared their vast domain with a vigorous population of self-governing Frenchmen.

A trading company was now feudal proprietor of all domains in North America within the claim of France. Fealty and homage on its part, and on the part of the Crown the appointment of supreme judicial officers, and the confirmation of the titles of dukes, marquises, counts, and barons, were the only reservations. The King heaped favors on the new corporation. Twelve of the bourgeois members were ennobled; while artisans and even manufacturers were tempted, by extraordinary privileges, to emigrate to the New World. The associates, of whom Champlain was one, entered upon their functions with a capital of three hundred thousand livres.


1628, 1629.


The first care of the new Company was to succor Quebec, whose inmates were on the verge of starvation. Four armed vessels, with a fleet of transports commanded by Roquemont, one of the associates, sailed from Dieppe with colonists and supplies in April, 1628; but nearly at the same time another squadron, destined also for Quebec, was sailing from an English port. War had at length broken out in France. The Huguenot revolt had come to a head. Rochelle was in arms against the King; and Richelieu, with his royal ward, was beleaguering it with the whole strength of the kingdom. Charles the First of England, urged by the heated passions of Buckingham, had declared himself for the rebels, and sent a fleet to their aid. At home, Charles detested the followers of Calvin as dangerous to his own authority; abroad, he befriended them as dangerous to the authority of a rival. In France, Richelieu crushed Protestantism as a curb to the house of Bourbon; in Germany, he nursed and strengthened it as a curb to the house of Austria.

The attempts of Sir William Alexander to colonize Acadia had of late turned attention in England towards the New World; and on the breaking out of the war an expedition was set on foot, under the auspices of that singular personage, to seize on the French possessions in North America. It was a private enterprise, undertaken by London merchants, prominent among whom was Gervase Kirke, an Englishman of Derbyshire, who had long lived at Dieppe, and had there married a Frenchwoman. Gervase Kirke and his associates fitted out three small armed ships, commanded respectively by his sons David, Lewis, and Thomas. Letters of marque were obtained from the King, and the adventurers were authorized to drive out the French from Acadia and Canada. Many Huguenot refugees were among the crews. Having been expelled from New France as settlers, the persecuted sect were returning as enemies. One Captain Michel, who had been in the service of the Caens, "a furious Calvinist," is said to have instigated the attempt, acting, it is affirmed, under the influence of one of his former employers.

Meanwhile the famished tenants of Quebec were eagerly waiting the expected succor. Daily they gazed beyond Point Levi and along the channels of Orleans, in the vain hope of seeing the approaching sails. At length, on the ninth of July, two men, worn with struggling through forests and over torrents, crossed the St. Charles and mounted the rock. They were from Cape Tourmente, where Champlain had some time before established an outpost, and they brought news that, according to the report of Indians, six large vessels lay in the harbor of Tadoussac. The friar Le Caron was at Quebec, and, with a brother Recollet, he went in a canoe to gain further intelligence. As the missionary scouts were paddling along the borders of the Island of Orleans, they met two canoes advancing in hot haste, manned by Indians, who with shouts and gestures warned them to turn back.

The friars, however, waited till the canoes came up, when they saw a man lying disabled at the bottom of one of them, his moustaches burned by the flash of the musket which had wounded him. He proved to be Foucher, who commanded at Cape Tourmente. On that morning,—such was the story of the fugitives,—twenty men had landed at that post from a small fishing-vessel. Being to all appearance French, they were hospitably received; but no sooner had they entered the houses than they began to pillage and burn all before them, killing the cattle, wounding the commandant, and making several prisoners.

The character of the fleet at Tadoussac was now sufficiently clear. Quebec was incapable of defence. Only fifty pounds of gunpowder were left in the magazine; and the fort, owing to the neglect and ill-will of the Caens, was so wretchedly constructed, that, a few days before, two towers of the main building had fallen. Champlain, however, assigned to each man his post, and waited the result. On the next afternoon, a boat was seen issuing from behind the Point of Orleans and hovering hesitatingly about the mouth of the St. Charles. On being challenged, the men on board proved to be Basque fishermen, lately captured by the English, and now sent by Kirke unwilling messengers to Champlain. Climbing the steep pathway to the fort, they delivered their letter,—a summons, couched in terms of great courtesy, to surrender Quebec. There was no hope but in courage. A bold front must supply the lack of batteries and ramparts; and Champlain dismissed the Basques with a reply, in which, with equal courtesy, he expressed his determination to hold his position to the last.

All now stood on the watch, hourly expecting the enemy; when, instead of the hostile squadron, a small boat crept into sight, and one Desdames, with ten Frenchmen, landed at the storehouses. He brought stirring news. The French commander, Roquemont, had despatched him to tell Champlain that the ships of the Hundred Associates were ascending the St. Lawrence, with reinforcements and supplies of all kinds. But on his way Desdames had seen an ominous sight,—the English squadron standing under full sail out of Tadoussac, and steering downwards as if to intercept the advancing succor. He had only escaped them by dragging his boat up the beach and hiding it; and scarcely were they out of sight when the booming of cannon told him that the fight was begun.

Racked with suspense, the starving tenants of Quebec waited the result; but they waited in vain. No white sail moved athwart the green solitudes of Orleans. Neither friend nor foe appeared; and it was not till long afterward that Indians brought them the tidings that Roquemont's crowded transports had been overpowered, and all the supplies destined to relieve their miseries sunk in the St. Lawrence or seized by the victorious English. Kirke, however, deceived by the bold attitude of Champlain, had been too discreet to attack Quebec, and after his victory employed himself in cruising for French fishing-vessels along the borders of the Gulf.

Meanwhile, the suffering at Quebec increased daily. Somewhat less than a hundred men, women, and children were cooped up in the fort, subsisting on a meagre pittance of pease and Indian corn. The garden of the Heberts, the only thrifty settlers, was ransacked for every root or seed that could afford nutriment. Months wore on, and in the spring the distress had risen to such a pitch that Champlain had wellnigh resolved to leave to the women, children, and sick the little food that remained, and with the able-bodied men invade the Iroquois, seize one of their villages, fortify himself in it, and sustain his followers on the buried stores of maize with which the strongholds of these provident savages were always furnished.

Seven ounces of pounded pease were now the daily food of each; and, at the end of May, even this failed. Men, women, and children betook themselves to the woods, gathering acorns and grubbing up roots. Those of the plant called Solomon's seal were most in request. Some joined the Hurons or the Algonquins; some wandered towards the Abenakis of Maine; some descended in a boat to Gaspe, trusting to meet a French fishing-vessel. There was scarcely one who would not have hailed the English as deliverers. But the English had sailed home with their booty, and the season was so late that there was little prospect of their return. Forgotten alike by friends and foes, Quebec was on the verge of extinction.

On the morning of the nineteenth of July, an Indian, renowned as a fisher of eels, who had built his hut on the St. Charles, hard by the new dwelling of the Jesuits, came, with his usual imperturbability of visage, to Champlain. He had just discovered three ships sailing up the south channel of Orleans. Champlain was alone. All his followers were absent, fishing or searching for roots. At about ten o'clock his servant appeared with four small bags of roots, and the tidings that he had seen the three ships a league off, behind Point Levi. As man after man hastened in, Champlain ordered the starved and ragged band, sixteen in all, to their posts, whence with hungry eyes, they watched the English vessels anchoring in the basin below, and a boat with a white flag moving towards the shore. A young officer landed with a summons to surrender. The terms of capitulation were at length settled. The French were to be conveyed to their own country, and each soldier was allowed to take with him his clothes, and, in addition, a coat of beaver-skin. On this some murmuring rose, several of those who had gone to the Hurons having lately returned with peltry of no small value. Their complaints were vain; and on the twentieth of July, amid the roar of cannon from the ships, Lewis Kirke, the Admiral's brother, landed at the head of his soldiers, and planted the cross of St. George where the followers of Wolfe again planted it a hundred and thirty years later. After inspecting the worthless fort, he repaired to the houses of the Recollets and Jesuits on the St. Charles. He treated the former with great courtesy, but displayed against the latter a violent aversion, expressing his regret that he could not have begun his operations by battering their house about their ears. The inhabitants had no cause to complain of him. He urged the widow and family of the settler Hebert, the patriarch, as he has been styled, of New France, to remain and enjoy the fruits of their industry under English allegiance; and, as beggary in France was the alternative, his offer was accepted.

Champlain, bereft of his command, grew restless, and begged to be sent to Tadoussac, where the Admiral, David Kirke, lay with his main squadron, having sent his brothers Lewis and Thomas to seize Quebec. Accordingly, Champlain, with the Jesuits, embarking with Thomas Kirke, descended the river. Off Mal Bay a strange sail was seen. As she approached, she proved to be a French ship, in fact, she was on her way to Quebec with supplies, which, if earlier sent, would have saved the place. She had passed the Admiral's squadron in a fog; but here her good fortune ceased. Thomas Kirke bore down on her, and the cannonade began. The fight was hot and doubtful; but at length the French struck, and Kirke sailed into Tadoussac with his prize. Here lay his brother, the Admiral, with five armed ships.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse