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Count Frontenac and New France under Louis XIV by Francis Parkman

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The intendant ordered Migeon, bailiff of Montreal, to arrest some of
Perrot's _coureurs de bois_. Perrot at once arrested the bailiff, and
sent a sergeant and two soldiers to occupy his house, with orders to
annoy the family as much as possible. One of them, accordingly, walked
to and fro all night in the bed-chamber of Migeon's wife. On another
occasion, the bailiff invited two friends to supper: Le Moyne
d'Iberville and one Bouthier, agent of a commercial house at Rochelle.
The conversation turned on the trade carried on by Perrot. It was
overheard and reported to him, upon which he suddenly appeared at the
window, struck Bouthier over the head with his cane, then drew his
sword, and chased him while he fled for his life. The seminary was
near at hand, and the fugitive clambered over the wall. Dollier de
Casson dressed him in the hat and cassock of a priest, and in this
disguise he escaped. [Footnote: _Conduite du Sieur Perrot, Gouverneur
de Montréal en la Nouvelle France_, 1681; _Plainte du Sieur Bouthier_,
10 _Oct._, 1680; _Procès-verbal des huissiers de Montréal_.] Perrot's
avidity sometimes carried him to singular extremities. "He has been
seen," says one of his accusers, "filling barrels of brandy with his
own hands, and mixing it with water to sell to the Indians. He
bartered with one of them his hat, sword, coat, ribbons, shoes, and
stockings, and boasted that he had made thirty pistoles by the
bargain, while the Indian walked about town equipped as governor."
[Footnote: _Conduite du Sieur Perrot_. La Barre, Frontenac's
successor, declares that the charges against Perrot were false,
including the attestations of Migeon and his friends; that Dollier de
Casson had been imposed upon, and that various persons had been
induced to sign unfounded statements without reading them. _La Barre
au Ministre,_ 4 _Nov.,_ 1683.]

Every ship from Canada brought to the king fresh complaints of
Duchesneau against Frontenac, and of Frontenac against Duchesneau; and
the king replied with rebukes, exhortations, and threats to both. At
first he had shown a disposition to extenuate and excuse the faults of
Frontenac, but every year his letters grew sharper. In 1681 he wrote:
"Again I urge you to banish from your mind the difficulties which you
have yourself devised against the execution of my orders; to act with
mildness and moderation towards all the colonists, and divest yourself
entirely of the personal animosities which have thus far been almost
your sole motive of action. In conclusion, I exhort you once more to
profit well by the directions which this letter contains; since,
unless you succeed better herein than formerly, I cannot help
recalling you from the command which I have intrusted to you."
[Footnote: _Le Roy à Frontenac,_ 30 _Avril,_ 1681.]

The dispute still went on. The autumn ships from Quebec brought back
the usual complaints, and the long-suffering king at length made good
his threat. Both Frontenac and Duchesneau received their recall, and
they both deserved it. [Footnote: La Barre says that Duchesneau was
far more to blame than Frontenac. _La Barre au Ministre,_ 1083. This
testimony has weight, since Frontenac's friends were La Barre's

The last official act of the governor, recorded in the register of the
council of Quebec, is the formal declaration that his rank in that
body is superior to that of the intendant. [Footnote: _Registre du
Conseil-Supérieur_, 16 Fév., 1682.] The key to nearly all these
disputes lies in the relations between Frontenac and the Church. The
fundamental quarrel was generally covered by superficial issues, and
it was rarely that the governor fell out with anybody who was not in
league with the bishop and the Jesuits. "Nearly all the disorders in
New France," he writes, "spring from the ambition of the
ecclesiastics, who want to join to their spiritual authority an
absolute power over things temporal, and who persecute all who do not
submit entirely to them." He says that the intendant and the
councillors are completely under their control, and dare not decide
any question against them; that they have spies everywhere, even in
his house; that the bishop told him that he could excommunicate even a
governor, if he chose; that the missionaries in Indian villages say
that they are equals of Onontio, and tell their converts that all will
go wrong till the priests have the government of Canada; that directly
or indirectly they meddle in all civil affairs; that they trade even
with the English of New York; that, what with Jesuits, Sulpitians, the
bishop, and the seminary of Quebec, they hold two-thirds of the good
lands of Canada; that, in view of the poverty of the country, their
revenues are enormous; that, in short, their object is mastery, and
that they use all means to compass it. [Footnote: Frontenac, _Mémoire
adressé à Colbert_, 1677. This remarkable paper will be found in the
_Découvertes et Établissements des Français dans l'Amérique
Septentrionale; Mémoires et Documents Originaux,_ edited by M. Margry.
The paper is very long, and contains references to attestations and
other proofs which accompanied it, especially in regard to the trade
of the Jesuits.] The recall of the governor was a triumph to the
ecclesiastics, offset but slightly by the recall of their instrument,
the intendant, who had done his work, and whom they needed no longer.

Thus far, we have seen Frontenac on his worst side. We shall see him
again under an aspect very different. Nor must it be supposed that the
years which had passed since his government began, tempestuous as they
appear on the record, were wholly given over to quarrelling. They had
their periods of uneventful calm, when the wheels of administration
ran as smoothly as could be expected in view of the condition of the
colony. In one respect at least, Frontenac had shown a remarkable
fitness for his office. Few white men have ever equalled or approached
him in the art of dealing with Indians. There seems to have been a
sympathetic relation between him and them. He conformed to their ways,
borrowed their rhetoric, flattered them on occasion with great
address, and yet constantly maintained towards them an attitude of
paternal superiority. When they were concerned, his native haughtiness
always took a form which commanded respect without exciting anger. He
would not address them as _brothers,_ but only as _children_; and even
the Iroquois, arrogant as they were, accepted the new relation. In
their eyes Frontenac was by far the greatest of all the "Onontios," or
governors of Canada. They admired the prompt and fiery soldier who
played with their children, and gave beads and trinkets to their
wives; who read their secret thoughts and never feared them, but
smiled on them when their hearts were true, or frowned and threatened
them when they did amiss. The other tribes, allies of the French, were
of the same mind; and their respect for their Great Father seems not
to have been permanently impaired by his occasional practice of
bullying them for purposes of extortion. Frontenac appears to have had
a liking not only for Indians, but also for that roving and lawless
class of the Canadian population, the _coureurs de bois_, provided
always that they were not in the service of his rivals. Indeed, as
regards the Canadians generally, he refrained from the strictures with
which succeeding governors and intendants freely interlarded their
despatches. It was not his instinct to clash with the humbler classes,
and he generally reserved his anger for those who could retort it. He
had the air of distinction natural to a man familiar all his life with
the society of courts, and he was as gracious and winning on some
occasions as he was unbearable on others. When in good humor, his
ready wit and a certain sympathetic vivacity made him very agreeable.
At times he was all sunshine, and his outrageous temper slumbered
peacefully till some new offence wakened it again; nor is there much
doubt that many of his worst outbreaks were the work of his enemies,
who knew his foible, and studied to exasperate him. He was full of
contradictions; and, intolerant and implacable, as he often was, there
were intervals, even in his bitterest quarrels, in which he displayed
a surprising moderation and patience. By fits he could be magnanimous.
A woman once brought him a petition in burlesque verse. Frontenac
wrote a jocose answer. The woman, to ridicule him, contrived to have
both petition and answer slipped among the papers of a suit pending
before the council. Frontenac had her fined a few francs, and then
caused the money to be given to her children. [Footnote: Note by Abbé
Verreau, in _Journal de l'Instruction Publique_ (Canada), VIII. 127.]

When he sailed for France, it was a day of rejoicing to more than half
the merchants of Canada, and, excepting the Récollets, to all the
priests; but he left behind him an impression, very general among the
people, that, if danger threatened the colony, Count Frontenac was the
man for the hour.





When the new governor, La Barre, and the new intendant, Meules,
arrived at Quebec, a dismal greeting waited them. All the Lower Town
was in ashes, except the house of the merchant Aubert de la Chesnaye,
standing alone amid the wreck. On a Tuesday, the fourth of August, at
ten o'clock in the evening, the nuns of the Hôtel-Dieu were roused
from their early slumbers by shouts, outcries, and the ringing of
bells; "and," writes one of them, "what was our terror to find it as
light as noonday, the flames burned so fiercely and rose so high."
Half an hour before, Chartier de Lotbinière, judge of the king's
court, heard the first alarm, ran down the descent now called Mountain
Street, and found every thing in confusion in the town below. The
house of Etienne Planchon was in a blaze; the fire was spreading to
those of his neighbors, and had just leaped the narrow street to the
storehouse of the Jesuits. The season was excessively dry; there were
no means of throwing water except kettles and buckets, and the crowd
was bewildered with excitement and fright. Men were ordered to tear
off roofs and pull down houses; but the flames drove them from their
work, and at four o'clock in the morning fifty-five buildings were
burnt to the ground. They were all of wood, but many of them were
storehouses filled with goods; and the property consumed was more in
value than all that remained in Canada. [Footnote: Chartier de
Lotbiniere, _Procès-verbal sur l'Incendie de la Basse Ville; Meules au
Ministre,_ 6 _Oct.,_ 1682; Juchereau, _Histoire de l'Hôtel-Dieu de
Québec,_ 256.]

Under these gloomy auspices, Le Febvre de la Barre began his reign. He
was an old officer who had achieved notable exploits against the
English in the West Indies, but who was now to be put to a test far
more severe. He made his lodging in the château; while his colleague,
Meules, could hardly find a shelter. The buildings of the Upper Town
were filled with those whom the fire had made roofless, and the
intendant was obliged to content himself with a house in the
neighboring woods. Here he was ill at ease, for he dreaded an Indian
war and the scalping-knives of the Iroquois. [Footnote: _Meules au
Ministre,_ 6 _Oct.,_ 1682.]

So far as his own safety was concerned, his alarm was needless; but
not so as regarded the colony with whose affairs he was charged. For
those who had eyes to see it, a terror and a woe lowered in the future
of Canada. In an evil hour for her, the Iroquois had conquered their
southern neighbors, the Andastes, who had long held their ground
against them, and at one time threatened them with ruin. The hands of
the confederates were now free; their arrogance was redoubled by
victory, and, having long before destroyed all the adjacent tribes on
the north and west, [Footnote: Jesuits in North America.] they looked
for fresh victims in the wilderness beyond. Their most easterly tribe,
the Mohawks, had not forgotten the chastisement they had received from
Tracy and Courcelle. They had learned to fear the French, and were
cautious in offending them; but it was not so with the remoter
Iroquois. Of these, the Senecas at the western end of the "Long
House," as they called their fivefold league, were by far the most
powerful, for they could muster as many warriors as all the four
remaining tribes together; and they now sought to draw the confederacy
into a series of wars, which, though not directed against the French,
threatened soon to involve them. Their first movement westward was
against the tribes of the Illinois. I have already described their
bloody inroad in the summer of 1680. [Footnote: Discovery of the Great
West.] They made the valley of the Illinois a desert, and returned
with several hundred prisoners, of whom they burned those that were
useless, and incorporated the young and strong into their own tribe.
This movement of the western Iroquois had a double incentive, their
love of fighting and their love of gain. It was a war of conquest and
of trade. All the five tribes of the league had become dependent on
the English and Dutch of Albany for guns, powder, lead, brandy, and
many other things that they had learned to regard as necessities.
Beaver skins alone could buy them, but to the Iroquois the supply of
beaver skins was limited. The regions of the west and north-west, the
upper Mississippi with its tributaries, and, above all, the forests of
the upper lakes, were occupied by tribes in the interest of the
French, whose missionaries and explorers had been the first to visit
them, and whose traders controlled their immense annual product of
furs. La Salle, by his newly built fort of St. Louis, engrossed the
trade of the Illinois and Miami tribes; while the Hurons and Ottawas,
gathered about the old mission of Michillimackinac, acted as factors
for the Sioux, the Winnebagoes, and many other remote hordes. Every
summer they brought down their accumulated beaver skins to the fair at
Montreal; while French bush-rangers roving through the wilderness,
with or without licenses, collected many more. [Footnote: Duchesneau,
_Memoir on Western Indians in N. Y. Colonial Docs.,_ IX. 160.]

It was the purpose of the Iroquois to master all this traffic, conquer
the tribes who had possession of it, and divert the entire supply of
furs to themselves, and through themselves to the English and Dutch.
That English and Dutch traders urged them on is affirmed by the
French, and is very likely. The accomplishment of the scheme would
have ruined Canada. Moreover, the Illinois, the Hurons, the Ottawas,
and all the other tribes threatened by the Iroquois, were the allies
and "children" of the French, who in honor as in interest were bound
to protect them. Hence, when the Seneca invasion of the Illinois
became known, there was deep anxiety in the colony, except only among
those in whom hatred of the monopolist La Salle had overborne every
consideration of the public good. La Salle's new establishment of St.
Louis was in the path of the invaders; and, if he could be crushed,
there was wherewith to console his enemies for all else that might

Bad as was the posture of affairs, it was made far worse by an
incident that took place soon after the invasion of the Illinois. A
Seneca chief engaged in it, who had left the main body of his
countrymen, was captured by a party of Winnebagoes to serve as a
hostage for some of their tribe whom the Senecas had lately seized.
They carried him to Michillimackinac, where there chanced to be a
number of Illinois, married to Indian women of that neighborhood. A
quarrel ensued between them and the Seneca, whom they stabbed to death
in a lodge of the Kiskakons, one of the tribes of the Ottawas. Here
was a _casus belli_ likely to precipitate a war fatal to all the
tribes about Michillimackinac, and equally fatal to the trade of
Canada. Frontenac set himself to conjure the rising storm, and sent a
messenger to the Iroquois to invite them to a conference.

He found them unusually arrogant. Instead of coming to him, they
demanded that he should come to them, and many of the French wished
him to comply; but Frontenac refused, on the ground that such a
concession would add to their insolence, and he declined to go farther
than Montreal, or at the utmost Fort Frontenac, the usual place of
meeting with them. Early in August he was at Montreal, expecting the
arrival of the Ottawas and Hurons on their yearly descent from the
lakes. They soon appeared, and he called them to a solemn council.
Terror had seized them all. "Father, take pity on us," said the Ottawa
orator, "for we are like dead men." A Huron chief, named the Rat,
declared that the world was turned upside down, and implored the
protection of Onontio, "who is master of the whole earth." These
tribes were far from harmony among themselves. Each was jealous of the
other, and the Ottawas charged the Hurons with trying to make favor
with the common enemy at their expense. Frontenac told them that they
were all his children alike, and advised them to live together as
brothers, and make treaties of alliance with all the tribes of the
lakes. At the same time, he urged them to make full atonement for the
death of the Seneca murdered in their country, and carefully to
refrain from any new offence.

Soon after there was another arrival. La Forêt, the officer in command
at Fort Frontenac, appeared, bringing with him a famous Iroquois chief
called Decanisora or Tegannisorens, attended by a number of warriors.
They came to invite Frontenac to meet the deputies of the five tribes
at Oswego, within their own limits. Frontenac's reply was
characteristic. "It is for the father to tell the children where to
hold council, not for the children to tell the father. Fort Frontenac
is the proper place, and you should thank me for going so far every
summer to meet you." The Iroquois had expressed pacific intentions
towards the Hurons and Ottawas. For this Frontenac commended him, but
added: "The Illinois also are children of Onontio, and hence brethren
of the Iroquois. Therefore they, too, should be left in peace; for
Onontio wishes that all his family should live together in union." He
confirmed his words with a huge belt of wampum. Then, addressing the
flattered deputy as a great chief, he desired him to use his influence
in behalf of peace, and gave him a jacket and a silk cravat, both
trimmed with gold, a hat, a scarlet ribbon, and a gun, with beads for
his wife, and red cloth for his daughter. The Iroquois went home
delighted. [Footnote: For the papers on this affair, see _N. Y.
Colonial Docs_., IX.]

Perhaps on this occasion Frontenac was too confident of his influence
over the savage confederates. Such at least was the opinion of
Lamberville, Jesuit missionary at Onondaga, the Iroquois capital. From
what he daily saw around him, he thought the peril so imminent that
concession on the part of the French was absolutely necessary, since
not only the Illinois, but some of the tribes of the lakes, were in
danger of speedy and complete destruction. "Tegannisorens loves the
French," he wrote to Frontenac, "but neither he nor any other of the
upper Iroquois fear them in the least. They annihilate our allies,
whom by adoption of prisoners they convert into Iroquois; and they do
not hesitate to avow that after enriching themselves by our plunder,
and strengthening themselves by those who might have aided us, they
will pounce all at once upon Canada, and overwhelm it in a single
campaign." He adds that within the past two years they have reinforced
themselves by more than nine hundred warriors, adopted into their
tribes. [Footnote: _P. Jean de Lamberville à Frontenac_, 20 _Sept_.,

Such was the crisis when Frontenac left Canada at the moment when he
was needed most, and Le Febvre de la Barre came to supplant him. The
new governor introduces himself with a burst of rhodomontade. "The
Iroquois," he writes to the king, "have twenty-six hundred warriors.
I will attack them with twelve hundred men. They know me before seeing
me, for they have been told by the English how roughly I handled them
in the West Indies." This bold note closes rather tamely; for the
governor adds, "I think that if the Iroquois believe that your Majesty
would have the goodness to give me some help, they will make peace,
and let our allies alone, which would save the trouble and expense of
an arduous war." [Footnote: _La Barre au Roy_, (4 Oct.?) 1682.] He
then begs hard for troops, and in fact there was great need of them,
for there were none in Canada; and even Frontenac had been compelled
in the last year of his government to leave unpunished various acts of
violence and plunder committed by the Iroquois. La Barre painted the
situation in its blackest colors, declared that war was imminent, and
wrote to the minister, "We shall lose half our trade and all our
reputation, if we do not oppose these haughty conquerors." [Footnote:
_La Barre à Seignelay_, 1682.]

A vein of gasconade appears in most of his letters, not however
accompanied with any conclusive evidence of a real wish to fight. His
best fighting days were past, for he was sixty years old; nor had he
always been a man of the sword. His early life was spent in the law;
he had held a judicial post, and had been intendant of several French
provinces. Even the military and naval employments, in which he
afterwards acquitted himself with credit, were due to the part he took
in forming a joint-stock company for colonizing Cayenne. [Footnote: He
was made governor of Cayenne, and went thither with Tracy in 1664. Two
years later, he gained several victories over the English, and
recaptured Cayenne, which they had taken in his absence. He wrote a
book concerning this colony, called _Description de la France
Équinoctiale_. Another volume, called _Journal du Voyage du Sieur de
la Barre en la Terre Ferme et Isle de Cayenne_, was printed at Paris
in 1671.] In fact, he was but half a soldier; and it was perhaps for
this reason that he insisted on being called, not _Monsieur le
Gouverneur_, but _Monsieur le Général_. He was equal to Frontenac
neither in vigor nor in rank, but he far surpassed him in avidity.
Soon after his arrival, he wrote to the minister that he should not
follow the example of his predecessors in making money out of his
government by trade; and in consideration of these good intentions he
asked for an addition to his pay. [Footnote: _La Barre à Seignelay_,
1682.] He then immediately made alliances with certain merchants of
Quebec for carrying on an extensive illicit trade, backed by all the
power of his office. Now ensued a strange and miserable complication.
Questions of war mingled with questions of personal gain. There was a
commercial revolution in the colony. The merchants whom Frontenac
excluded from his ring now had their turn. It was they who, jointly
with the intendant and the ecclesiastics, had procured the removal of
the old governor; and it was they who gained the ear of the new one.
Aubert de la Chesnaye, Jacques Le Ber, and the rest of their faction,
now basked in official favor; and La Salle, La Forêt, and the other
friends of Frontenac, were cast out. There was one exception.
Greysolon Du Lhut, leader of _coureurs de bois_, was too important to
be thus set aside. He was now as usual in the wilderness of the north,
the roving chief of a half savage crew, trading, exploring, fighting,
and laboring with persistent hardihood to foil the rival English
traders of Hudson's Bay. Inducements to gain his adhesion were
probably held out to him by La Barre and his allies: be this as it
may, it is certain that he acted in harmony with the faction of the
new governor. With La Forêt it was widely different. He commanded Fort
Frontenac, which belonged to La Salle, when La Barre's associates, La
Chesnaye and Le Ber, armed with an order from the governor, came up
from Montreal, and seized upon the place with all that it contained.
The pretext for this outrage was the false one that La Salle had not
fulfilled the conditions under which the fort had been granted to him.
La Forêt was told that he might retain his command, if he would join
the faction of La Barre; but he refused, stood true to his chief, and
soon after sailed for France.

La Barre summoned the most able and experienced persons in the colony
to discuss the state of affairs. Their conclusion was that the
Iroquois would attack and destroy the Illinois, and, this
accomplished, turn upon the tribes of the lakes, conquer or destroy
them also, and ruin the trade of Canada. [Footnote: _Conference on the
State of Affairs with the Iroquois, Oct_., 1682, _in N. Y. Colonial
Docs_., IX. 194.] Dark as was the prospect, La Barre and his
fellow-speculators flattered themselves that the war could be averted
for a year at least. The Iroquois owed their triumphs as much to their
sagacity and craft as to their extraordinary boldness and ferocity. It
had always been their policy to attack their enemies in detail, and
while destroying one to cajole the rest. There seemed little doubt
that they would leave the tribes of the lakes in peace till they had
finished the ruin of the Illinois; so that if these, the allies of the
colony, were abandoned to their fate, there would be time for a
profitable trade in the direction of Michillimackinac.

But hopes seemed vain and prognostics illusory, when, early in spring,
a report came that the Seneca Iroquois were preparing to attack, in
force, not only the Illinois, but the Hurons and Ottawas of the lakes.
La Barre and his confederates were in dismay. They already had large
quantities of goods at Michillimackinac, the point immediately
threatened; and an officer was hastily despatched, with men and
munitions, to strengthen the defences of the place. [Footnote: _La
Barre au Ministre_, 4 _Nov_., 1683.] A small vessel was sent to France
with letters begging for troops. "I will perish at their head," wrote
La Barre to the king, "or destroy your enemies;" [Footnote: _La Barre
au Roy_, 30 _Mai_, 1683.] and he assures the minister that the Senecas
must be attacked or the country abandoned. [Footnote: _La Barre au
Ministre_, 30 _Mai_, 1683.] The intendant, Meules, shared something of
his alarm, and informed the king that "the Iroquois are the only
people on earth who do not know the grandeur of your Majesty."
[Footnote: _Meules au Roy_, 2 _Juin_, 1683.]

While thus appealing to the king, La Barre sent Charles le Moyne as
envoy to Onondaga. Through his influence, a deputation of forty-three
Iroquois chiefs was sent to meet the governor at Montreal. Here a
grand council was held in the newly built church. Presents were given
the deputies to the value of more than two thousand crowns. Soothing
speeches were made them; and they were urged not to attack the tribes
of the lakes, nor to plunder French traders, _without permission_. [1]

They assented; and La Barre then asked, timidly, why they made war on
the Illinois. "Because they deserve to die," haughtily returned the
Iroquois orator. La Barre dared not answer. They complained that La
Salle had given guns, powder, and lead to the Illinois; or, in other
words, that he had helped the allies of the colony to defend
themselves. La Barre, who hated La Salle and his monopolies, assured
them that he should be punished. [Footnote: Belmont, _Histoire du
Canada_ (a contemporary chronicle).] It is affirmed, on good
authority, that he said more than this, and told them they were
welcome to plunder and kill him. [Footnote: See Discovery of the Great
West. La Barre denies the assertion, and says that he merely told the
Iroquois that La Salle should be sent home.] The rapacious old man was
playing with a two-edged sword.

Thus the Illinois, with the few Frenchmen who had tried to defend
them, were left to perish; and, in return, a brief and doubtful
respite was gained for the tribes of the lakes. La Barre and his
confederates took heart again. Merchandise, in abundance, was sent to
Michillimackinac, and thence to the remoter tribes of the north and
west. The governor and his partner, La Chesnaye, sent up a fleet of
thirty canoes; [Footnote: _Mémoire adressé a MM. les Intéressés en la
Société de la Ferme et Commerce du Canada,_ 1683.] and, a little
later, they are reported to have sent more than a hundred. This forest
trade robbed the colonists, by forestalling the annual market of
Montreal; while a considerable part of the furs acquired by it were
secretly sent to the English and Dutch of New York. Thus the heavy
duties of the custom-house at Quebec were evaded; and silver coin was
received in payment, instead of questionable bills of exchange.
[Footnote: These statements are made in a memorial of the agents of
the custom-house, in letters of Meules, and in several other
quarters. La Barre is accused of sending furs to Albany under pretext
of official communication with the governor of New York.] Frontenac
had not been faithful to his trust; but, compared to his successor, he
was a model of official virtue.

La Barre busied himself with ostentatious preparation for war; built
vessels at Fort Frontenac, and sent up fleets of canoes, laden or
partly laden with munitions. But his accusers say that the king's
canoes were used to transport the governor's goods, and that the men
sent to garrison Fort Frontenac were destined, not to fight the
Iroquois, but to sell them brandy. "Last year," writes the intendant,
"Monsieur de la Barre had a vessel built, for which he made his
Majesty pay heavily;" and he proceeds to say that it was built for
trade, and was used for no other purpose. "If," he continues, "the two
(_king's_) vessels now at Fort Frontenac had not been used for
trading, they would have saved us half the expense we have been forced
to incur in transporting munitions and supplies. The pretended
necessity of having vessels at this fort, and the consequent employing
of carpenters, and sending up of iron, cordage, sails, and many other
things, at his Majesty's charge, was simply in the view of carrying on
trade." He says, farther, that in May last, the vessels, canoes, and
men being nearly all absent on this errand, the fort was left in so
defenceless a state that a party of Senecas, returning from their
winter hunt, took from it a quantity of goods, and drank as much
brandy as they wanted. "In short," he concludes, "it is plain that
Monsieur de la Barre uses this fort only as a depot for the trade of
Lake Ontario." [Footnote: _Meules à Seignelay,_ 8 _July,_ 1684. This
accords perfectly with statements made in several memorials of La
Salle and his friends.]

In the spring of 1683, La Barre had taken a step as rash as it was
lawless and unjust. He sent the Chevalier de Baugis, lieutenant of his
guard, with a considerable number of canoes and men, to seize La
Salle's fort of St. Louis on the river Illinois; a measure which,
while gratifying the passions and the greed of himself and his allies,
would greatly increase he danger of rupture with the Iroquois. Late in
the season, he despatched seven canoes and fourteen men, with goods to
the value of fifteen or sixteen thousand livres, to trade with the
tribes of the Mississippi. As he had sown, so he reaped. The seven
canoes passed through the country of the Illinois. A large war party
of Senecas and Cayugas invaded it in February. La Barre had told their
chiefs that they were welcome to plunder the canoes of La Salle. The
Iroquois were not discriminating. They fell upon the governor's
canoes, seized all the goods, and captured the men. [2] Then they
attacked Baugis at Fort St. Louis. The place, perched on a rock, was
strong, and they were beaten off; but the act was one of open war.

When La Barre heard the news, he was furious. [Footnote: "Ce qui mit
M. de la Barre en fureur." Belmont, _Histoire du Canada_.] He trembled
for the vast amount of goods which he and his fellow-speculators had
sent to Michillimackinac and the lakes. There was but one resource: to
call out the militia, muster the Indian allies, advance to Lake
Ontario, and dictate peace to the Senecas, at the head of an imposing
force; or, failing in this, to attack and crush them. A small vessel
lying at Quebec was despatched to France, with urgent appeals for
immediate aid, though there was little hope that it could arrive in
time. She bore a long letter, half piteous, half bombastic, from La
Barre to the king. He declared that extreme necessity and the despair
of the people had forced him into war, and protested that he should
always think it a privilege to lay down life for his Majesty. "I
cannot refuse to your country of Canada, and your faithful subjects,
to throw myself, with unequal forces, against the foe, while at the
same time begging your aid for a poor, unhappy people on the point of
falling victims to a nation of barbarians." He says that the total
number of men in Canada capable of bearing arms is about two thousand;
that he received last year a hundred and fifty raw recruits; and that
he wants, in addition, seven or eight hundred good soldiers. "Recall
me," he concludes, "if you will not help me, for I cannot bear to see
the country perish in my hands." At the same time, he declares his
intention to attack the Senecas, with or without help, about the
middle of August. [Footnote: _La Barre au Roy_, 5 _Juin_, 1684.] Here
we leave him, for a while, scared, excited, and blustering.

[1] Soon after La Barre's arrival, La Chesnaye is said to have induced
him to urge the Iroquois to plunder all traders who were not provided
with passports from the governor. The Iroquois complied so promptly,
that they stopped and pillaged, at Niagara, two canoes belonging to La
Chesnaye himself, which had gone up the lakes in Frontenac's time, and
therefore were without passports. _Recueil de ce qui s'est passé en
Canada au Sujet de la Guerre, etc., depuis l'année_ 1682. (Published
by the Historical Society of Quebec.) This was not the only case in
which the weapons of La Barre and his partisans recoiled against

[2] There appears no doubt that La Barre brought this upon himself.
His successor, Denonville, writes that the Iroquois declared that, in
plundering the canoes, they thought they were executing the orders
they had received to plunder La Salle's people. Denonville, _Mémoire
adressé ou Ministre sur les Affaires de la Nouvelle France,_ 10
_Août,_ 1688. The Iroquois told Dongan, in 1684, "that they had
not don any thing to the French but what Monsr. delaBarr Ordered them,
which was that if they mett with any French hunting without his passe
to take what they had from them." _Dongan to Denonville,_ 9
_Sept.,_ 1687.





The Dutch colony of New Netherland had now become the English colony
of New York. Its proprietor, the Duke of York, afterwards James II of
England, had appointed Colonel Thomas Dongan its governor. He was a
Catholic Irish gentleman of high rank, nephew of the famous Earl of
Tyrconnel, and presumptive heir to the earldom of Limerick. He had
served in France, was familiar with its language, and partial to its
king and its nobility; but he nevertheless gave himself with vigor to
the duties of his new trust.

The Dutch and English colonists aimed at a share in the western fur
trade, hitherto a monopoly of Canada; and it is said that Dutch
traders had already ventured among the tribes of the Great Lakes,
boldly poaching on the French preserves. Dongan did his utmost to
promote their interests, so far at least as was consistent with his
instructions from the Duke of York, enjoining him to give the French
governor no just cause of offence. [1]

For several years past, the Iroquois had made forays against the
borders of Maryland and Virginia, plundering and killing the settlers;
and a declared rupture between those colonies and the savage
confederates had more than once been imminent. The English believed
that these hostilities were instigated by the Jesuits in the Iroquois
villages. There is no proof whatever of the accusation; but it is
certain that it was the interest of Canada to provoke a war which
might, sooner or later, involve New York. In consequence of a renewal
of such attacks, Lord Howard of Effingham, governor of Virginia, came
to Albany in the summer of 1684, to hold a council with the Iroquois.

The Oneidas, Onondagas, and Cayugas were the offending tribes. They
all promised friendship for the future. A hole was dug in the
court-yard of the council house, each of the three threw a hatchet
into it, and Lord Howard and the representative of Maryland added two
others; then the hole was filled, the song of peace was sung, and the
high contracting parties stood pledged to mutual accord. [Footnote:
Report of Conferences at Albany, in Colden, _History of the Five
Nations_, 50 (ed. 1727, Shea's reprint).] The Mohawks were also at the
council, and the Senecas soon after arrived; so that all the
confederacy was present by its deputies. Not long before, La Barre,
then in the heat of his martial preparations, had sent a messenger to
Dongan with a letter, informing him that, as the Senecas and Cayugas
had plundered French canoes and assaulted a French fort, he was
compelled to attack them, and begging that the Dutch and English
colonists should be forbidden to supply them with arms. [Footnote: _La
Barre à Dongan_, 15 _Juin_, 1684.] This letter produced two results,
neither of them agreeable to the writer: first, the Iroquois were
fully warned of the designs of the French; and, secondly, Dongan
gained the opportunity he wanted of asserting the claim of his king to
sovereignty over the confederacy, and possession of the whole country
south of the Great Lakes. He added that, if the Iroquois had done
wrong, he would require them, as British subjects, to make reparation;
and he urged La Barre, for the sake of peace between the two colonies,
to refrain from his intended invasion of British territory. [Footnote:
_Dongan à La Barre_, 24 _Juin_, 1684.]

Dongan next laid before the assembled sachems the complaints made
against them in the letter of La Barre. They replied by accusing the
French of carrying arms to their enemies, the Illinois and the Miamis.
"Onontio," said their orator, "calls us his children, and then helps
our enemies to knock us in the head." They were somewhat disturbed at
the prospect of La Barre's threatened attack; and Dongan seized the
occasion to draw from them an acknowledgment of subjection to the Duke
of York, promising in return that they should be protected from the
French. They did not hesitate. "We put ourselves," said the Iroquois
speaker, "under the great sachem Charles, who lives over the Great
Lake, and under the protection of the great Duke of York, brother of
your great sachem." But he added a moment after, "Let your friend
(_King Charles_) who lives over the Great Lake know that we are a free
people, though united to the English." [Footnote: Speech of the
Onondagas and Cayugas, in Colden, _Five Nations_, 63 (1727).] They
consented that the arms of the Duke of York should be planted in their
villages, being told that this would prevent the French from
destroying them. Dongan now insisted that they should make no treaty
with Onontio without his consent; and he promised that, if their
country should be invaded, he would send four hundred horsemen and as
many foot soldiers to their aid.

As for the acknowledgment of subjection to the king and the Duke of
York, the Iroquois neither understood its full meaning nor meant to
abide by it. What they did clearly understand was that, while they
recognized Onontio, the governor of Canada, as their father, they
recognized Corlaer, the governor of New York, only as their brother.
[Footnote: Except the small tribe of the Oneidas, who addressed
Corlaer as _Father. Corlaer_ was the official Iroquois name of the
governor of New York; _Onas_ (the Feather, or Pen), that of the
governor of Pennsylvania; and _Assarigoa_ (the Big Knife, or Sword),
that of the governor of Virginia. Corlaer, or Cuyler, was the name of
a Dutchman whom the Iroquois held in great respect.] Dongan, it seems,
could not, or dared not, change this mark of equality. He did his
best, however, to make good his claims, and sent Arnold Viele, a Dutch
interpreter, as his envoy to Onondaga. Viele set out for the Iroquois
capital, and thither we will follow him.

He mounted his horse, and in the heats of August rode westward along
the valley of the Mohawk. On a hill a bow-shot from the river, he saw
the first Mohawk town, Kaghnawaga, encircled by a strong palisade.
Next he stopped for a time at Gandagaro, on a meadow near the bank;
and next, at Canajora, on a plain two miles away. Tionondogué, the
last and strongest of these fortified villages, stood like the first
on a hill that overlooked the river, and all the rich meadows around
were covered with Indian corn. The largest of the four contained but
thirty houses, and all together could furnish scarcely more than three
hundred warriors. [Footnote: _Journal of Wentworth Greenhalgh_, 1677,
in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., III. 250.]

When the last Mohawk town was passed, a ride of four or five days
still lay before the envoy. He held his way along the old Indian
trail, now traced through the grass of sunny meadows, and now
tunnelled through the dense green of shady forests, till it led him to
the town of the Oneidas, containing about a hundred bark houses, with
twice as many fighting men, the entire force of the tribe. Here, as in
the four Mohawk villages, he planted the scutcheon of the Duke of
York, and, still advancing, came at length to a vast open space where
the rugged fields, patched with growing corn, sloped upwards into a
broad, low hill, crowned with the clustered lodges of Onondaga. There
were from one to two hundred of these large bark dwellings, most of
them holding several families. The capital of the confederacy was not
fortified at this time, and its only defence was the valor of some
four hundred warriors. [Footnote: _Journal of Greenhalgh_. The site of
Onondaga, like that of all the Iroquois towns, was changed from time
to time, as the soil of the neighborhood became impoverished, and the
supply of wood exhausted. Greenhalgh, in 1677, estimated the warriors
at three hundred and fifty; but the number had increased of late by
the adoption of prisoners.]

In this focus of trained and organized savagery, where ferocity was
cultivated as a virtue, and every emotion of pity stifled as unworthy
of a man; where ancient rites, customs, and traditions were held with
the tenacity of a people who joined the extreme of wildness with the
extreme of conservatism,--here burned the council fire of the five
confederate tribes; and here, in time of need, were gathered their
bravest and their wisest to debate high questions of policy and war.

The object of Viele was to confirm the Iroquois in their very
questionable attitude of subjection to the British crown, and persuade
them to make no treaty or agreement with the French, except through
the intervention of Dongan, or at least with his consent. The envoy
found two Frenchmen in the town, whose presence boded ill to his
errand. The first was the veteran colonist of Montreal, Charles le
Moyne, sent by La Barre to invite the Onondagas to a conference. They
had known him, in peace or war, for a quarter of a century; and they
greatly respected him. The other was the Jesuit Jean de Lamberville,
who had long lived among them, and knew them better than they knew
themselves. Here, too, was another personage who cannot pass
unnoticed. He was a famous Onondaga orator named Otréonati, and called
also Big Mouth, whether by reason of the dimensions of that feature or
the greatness of the wisdom that issued from it. His contemporary,
Baron La Hontan, thinking perhaps that his French name of La Grande
Gueule was wanting in dignity, Latinized it into Grangula; and the
Scotchman, Colden, afterwards improved it into Garangula, under which
high-sounding appellation Big Mouth has descended to posterity. He was
an astute old savage, well trained in the arts of Iroquois rhetoric,
and gifted with the power of strong and caustic sarcasm, which has
marked more than one of the chief orators of the confederacy. He
shared with most of his countrymen the conviction that the earth had
nothing so great as the league of the Iroquois; but, if he could be
proud and patriotic, so too he could be selfish and mean. He valued
gifts, attentions, and a good meal, and would pay for them abundantly
in promises, which he kept or not, as his own interests or those of
his people might require. He could use bold and loud words in public,
and then secretly make his peace with those he had denounced. He was
so given to rough jokes that the intendant, Meules, calls him a
buffoon; but his buffoonery seems to have been often a cover to his
craft. He had taken a prominent part in the council of the preceding
summer at Montreal; and, doubtless, as he stood in full dress before
the governor and the officers, his head plumed, his face painted, his
figure draped in a colored blanket, and his feet decked with
embroidered moccasins, he was a picturesque and striking object. He
was less so as he squatted almost naked by his lodge fire, with a
piece of board laid across his lap, chopping rank tobacco with a
scalping-knife to fill his pipe, and entertaining the grinning circle
with grotesque stories and obscene jests. Though not one of the
hereditary chiefs, his influence was great. "He has the strongest head
and the loudest voice among the Iroquois," wrote Lamberville to La
Barre. "He calls himself your best friend.... He is a venal creature,
whom you do well to keep in pay. I assured him I would send him the
jerkin you promised." [Footnote: _Letters of Lamberville in N. Y. Col.
Docs_., IX. For specimens of Big Mouth's skill in drawing, see
_ibid_., IX. 386.] Well as the Jesuit knew the Iroquois, he was
deceived if he thought that Big Mouth was securely won.

Lamberville's constant effort was to prevent a rupture. He wrote with
every opportunity to the governor, painting the calamities that war
would bring, and warning him that it was vain to hope that the league
could be divided, and its three eastern tribes kept neutral, while the
Senecas were attacked. He assured him, on the contrary, that they
would all unite to fall upon Canada, ravaging, burning, and butchering
along the whole range of defenceless settlements. "You cannot believe,
Monsieur, with what joy the Senecas learned that you might possibly
resolve on war. When they heard of the preparations at Fort Frontenac,
they said that the French had a great mind to be stripped, roasted,
and eaten; and that they will see if their flesh, which they suppose
to have a salt taste, by reason of the salt which we use with our
food, be as good as that of their other enemies." [Footnote:
_Lamberville to La Barre_, 11 _July_, 1684, in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., IX.
253.] Lamberville also informs the governor that the Senecas have made
ready for any emergency, buried their last year's corn, prepared a
hiding place in the depth of the forest for their old men, women, and
children, and stripped their towns of every thing that they value; and
that their fifteen hundred warriors will not shut themselves up in
forts, but tight under cover, among trees and in the tall grass, with
little risk to themselves and extreme danger to the invader. "There is
no profit," he says, "in fighting with this sort of banditti, whom you
cannot catch, but who will catch many of your people. The Onondagas
wish to bring about an agreement. Must the father and the children,
they ask, cut each other's throats?"

The Onondagas, moved by the influence of the Jesuit and the gifts of
La Barre, did in fact wish to act as mediators between their Seneca
confederates and the French; and to this end they invited the Seneca
elders to a council. The meeting took place before the arrival of
Viele, and lasted two days. The Senecas were at first refractory, and
hot for war, but at length consented that the Onondagas might make
peace for them, if they could; a conclusion which was largely due to
the eloquence of Big Mouth.

The first act of Viele was a blunder. He told the Onondagas that the
English governor was master of their country; and that, as they were
subjects of the king of England, they must hold no council with the
French without permission. The pride of Big Mouth was touched. "You
say," he exclaimed to the envoy, "that we are subjects of the king of
England and the Duke of York; but we say that we are brothers. We must
take care of ourselves. The coat of arms which you have fastened to
that post cannot defend us against Onontio. We tell you that we shall
bind a covenant chain to our arm and to his. We shall take the Senecas
by one hand and Onontio by the other, and their hatchet and his sword
shall be thrown into deep water." [Footnote: Colden, _Five Nations_,
80 (1727).]

Thus well and manfully did Big Mouth assert the independence of his
tribe, and proclaim it the arbiter of peace. He told the warriors,
moreover, to close their ears to the words of the Dutchman, who spoke
as if he were drunk; [Footnote: _Lamberville to La Barre_, 28 _Aug_.,
1684, in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., IX. 257.] and it was resolved at last
that he, Big Mouth, with an embassy of chiefs and elders, should go
with Le Moyne to meet the French governor.

While these things were passing at Onondaga, La Barre had finished his
preparations, and was now in full campaign. Before setting out, he had
written to the minister that he was about to advance on the enemy,
with seven hundred Canadians, a hundred and thirty regulars, and two
hundred mission Indians; that more Indians were to join him on the
way; that Du Lhut and La Durantaye were to meet him at Niagara with a
body of _coureurs de bois_ and Indians from the interior; and that,
"when we are all united, we will perish or destroy the enemy."
[Footnote: _La Barre au Ministre_, 9 _July_, 1684.] On the same day,
he wrote to the king: "My purpose is to exterminate the Senecas; for
otherwise your Majesty need take no farther account of this country,
since there is no hope of peace with them, except when they are driven
to it by force. I pray you do not abandon me; and be assured that I
shall do my duty at the head of your faithful colonists." [Footnote:
_La Barre au Roy, même date_.]

A few days after writing these curiously incoherent epistles, La Barre
received a letter from his colleague, Meules, who had no belief that
he meant to fight, and was determined to compel him to do so, if
possible. "There is a report," wrote the intendant, "that you mean to
make peace. It is doing great harm. Our Indian allies will despise us.
I trust the story is untrue, and that you will listen to no overtures.
The expense has been enormous. The whole population is roused."
[Footnote: _Meules à La Barre_, 15 _July_, 1684.] Not satisfied with
this, Meules sent the general a second letter, meant, like the first,
as a tonic and a stimulant. "If we come to terms with the Iroquois,
without first making them feel the strength of our arms, we may expect
that, in future, they will do every thing they can to humiliate us,
because we drew the sword against them, and showed them our teeth. I
do not think that any course is now left for us but to carry the war
to their very doors, and do our utmost to reduce them to such a point
that they shall never again be heard of as a nation, but only as our
subjects and slaves. If, after having gone so far, we do not fight
them, we shall lose all our trade, and bring this country to the brink
of ruin. The Iroquois, and especially the Senecas, pass for great
cowards. The Reverend Father Jesuit, who is at Prairie de la
Madeleine, told me as much yesterday; and, though he has never been
among them, he assured me that he has heard everybody say so. But,
even if they were brave, we ought to be very glad of it; since then we
could hope that they would wait our attack, and give us a chance to
beat them. If we do not destroy them, they will destroy us. I think
you see but too well that your honor and the safety of the country are
involved in the results of this war." [Footnote: _Meules à La Barre_,
14 _Août_, 1684. This and the preceding letter stand, by a copyist's
error, in the name of La Barre. They are certainly written by Meules.]

While Meules thus wrote to the governor, he wrote also to the
minister, Seignelay, and expressed his views with great distinctness.
"I feel bound in conscience to tell you that nothing was ever heard of
so extraordinary as what we see done in this country every day. One
would think that there was a divided empire here between the king and
the governor; and, if things should go on long in this way, the
governor would have a far greater share than his Majesty. The persons
whom Monsieur la Barre has sent this year to trade at Fort Frontenac
have already shared with him from ten to twelve thousand crowns." He
then recounts numerous abuses and malversations on the part of the
governor. "In a word, Monseigneur, this war has been decided upon in
the cabinet of Monsieur the general, along with six of the chief
merchants of the country. If it had not served their plans, he would
have found means to settle every thing; but the merchants made him
understand that they were in danger of being plundered, and that,
having an immense amount of merchandise in the woods in nearly two
hundred canoes fitted out last year, it was better to make use of the
people of the country to carry on war against the Senecas. This being
done, he hopes to make extraordinary profits without any risk, because
one of two things will happen: either we shall gain some considerable
advantage over the savages, as there is reason to hope, if Monsieur
the general will but attack them in their villages; or else we shall
make a peace which will keep every thing safe for a time. These are
assuredly the sole motives of this war, which has for principle and
end nothing but mere interest. He says himself that there is good
fishing in troubled waters. [2]

"With all our preparations for war, and all the expense in which
Monsieur the general is involving his Majesty, I will take the liberty
to tell you, Monseigneur, though I am no prophet, that I discover no
disposition on the part of Monsieur the general to make war against
the aforesaid savages. In my belief, he will content himself with
going in a canoe as far as Fort Frontenac, and then send for the
Senecas to treat of peace with them, and deceive the people, the
intendant, and, if I may be allowed with all possible respect to say
so, his Majesty himself.

"P. S.--I will finish this letter, Monseigneur, by telling you that he
set out yesterday, July 10th, with a detachment of two hundred men.
All Quebec was filled with grief to see him embark on an expedition of
war _tête-à-tête_ with the man named La Chesnaye. Everybody says that
the war is a sham, that these two will arrange every thing between
them, and, in a word, do whatever will help their trade. The whole
country is in despair to see how matters are managed." [Footnote:
_Meules au Ministre_, 8-11 _Juillet_, 1684.]

After a long stay at Montreal, La Barre embarked his little army at La
Chine, crossed Lake St. Louis, and began the ascent of the upper St.
Lawrence, In one of the three companies of regulars which formed a
part of the force was a young subaltern, the Baron la Hontan, who has
left a lively account of the expedition. Some of the men were in flat
boats, and some were in birch canoes. Of the latter was La Hontan,
whose craft was paddled by three Canadians. Several times they
shouldered it through the forest to escape the turmoil of the rapids.
The flat boats could not be so handled, and were dragged or pushed up
in the shallow water close to the bank, by gangs of militia men,
toiling and struggling among the rocks and foam. The regulars,
unskilled in such matters, were spared these fatigues, though
tormented night and day by swarms of gnats and mosquitoes, objects of
La Hontan's bitterest invective. At length the last rapid was passed,
and they moved serenely on their way, threaded the mazes of the
Thousand Islands, entered what is now the harbor of Kingston, and
landed under the palisades of Fort Frontenac.

Here the whole force was soon assembled, the regulars in their tents,
the Canadian militia and the Indians in huts and under sheds of bark.
Of these red allies there were several hundred: Abenakis and
Algonquins from Sillery, Hurons from Lorette, and converted Iroquois
from the Jesuit mission of Saut St. Louis, near Montreal. The camp of
the French was on a low, damp plain near the fort; and here a
malarious fever presently attacked them, killing many and disabling
many more. La Hontan says that La Barre himself was brought by it to
the brink of the grave. If he had ever entertained any other purpose
than that of inducing the Senecas to agree to a temporary peace, he
now completely abandoned it. He dared not even insist that the
offending tribe should meet him in council, but hastened to ask the
mediation of the Onondagas, which the letters of Lamberville had
assured him that they were disposed to offer. He sent Le Moyne to
persuade them to meet him on their own side of the lake, and, with
such of his men as were able to move, crossed to the mouth of Salmon
River, then called La Famine.

The name proved prophetic. Provisions fell short from bad management
in transportation, and the men grew hungry and discontented. September
had begun; the place was unwholesome, and the malarious fever of Fort
Frontenac infected the new encampment. The soldiers sickened rapidly.
La Barre, racked with suspense, waited impatiently the return of Le
Moyne. We have seen already the result of his mission, and how he and
Lamberville, in spite of the envoy of the English governor, gained
from the Onondaga chiefs the promise to meet Onontio in council. Le
Moyne appeared at La Famine on the third of the month, bringing with
him Big Mouth and thirteen other deputies. La Barre gave them a feast
of bread, wine, and salmon trout, and on the morning of the fourth the
council began.

Before the deputies arrived, the governor had sent the sick men
homeward in order to conceal his helpless condition; and he now told
the Iroquois that he had left his army at Fort Frontenac, and had come
to meet them attended only by an escort. The Onondaga politician was
not to be so deceived. He, or one of his party, spoke a little French;
and during the night, roaming noiselessly among the tents, he
contrived to learn the true state of the case from the soldiers.

The council was held on an open spot near the French encampment. La
Barre was seated in an arm-chair. The Jesuit Bruyas stood by him as
interpreter, and the officers were ranged on his right and left. The
Indians sat on the ground in a row opposite the governor; and two
lines of soldiers, forming two sides of a square, closed the
intervening space. Among the officers was La Hontan, a spectator of
the whole proceeding. He may be called a man in advance of his time;
for he had the caustic, sceptical, and mocking spirit which a century
later marked the approach of the great revolution, but which was not a
characteristic of the reign of Louis XIV. He usually told the truth
when he had no motive to do otherwise, and yet was capable at times of
prodigious mendacity. [Footnote: La Hontan attempted to impose on his
readers a marvellous story of pretended discoveries beyond the
Mississippi; and his ill repute in the matter of veracity is due
chiefly to this fabrication. On the other hand, his account of what he
saw in the colony is commonly in accord with the best contemporary
evidence.] There is no reason to believe that he indulged in it on the
present occasion, and his account of what he now saw and heard may
probably be taken as substantially correct. According to him, La Barre
opened the council as follows:--

"The king my master, being informed that the Five Nations of the
Iroquois have long acted in a manner adverse to peace, has ordered me
to come with an escort to this place, and to send Akouessan (_Le
Moyne_) to Onondaga to invite the principal chiefs to meet me. It is
the wish of this great king that you and I should smoke the calumet of
peace together, provided that you promise, in the name of the Mohawks,
Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, to give entire satisfaction
and indemnity to his subjects, and do nothing in future which may
occasion rupture."

Then he recounted the offences of the Iroquois. First, they had
maltreated and robbed French traders in the country of the Illinois;
"wherefore," said the governor, "I am ordered to demand reparation,
and in case of refusal to declare war against you."

Next, "the warriors of the Five Nations have introduced the English
into the lakes which belong to the king my master, and among the
tribes who are his children, in order to destroy the trade of his
subjects, and seduce these people from the obedience they owe him. I
am willing to forget this; but, should it happen again, I am expressly
ordered to declare war against you."

Thirdly, "the warriors of the Five Nations have made sundry barbarous
inroads into the country of the Illinois and Miamis, seizing, binding,
and leading into captivity an infinite number of these savages in time
of peace. They are the children of my king, and are not to remain your
slaves. They must at once be set free and sent home. If you refuse to
do this, I am expressly ordered to declare war against you."

La Barre concluded by assuring Big Mouth, as representing the Five
Nations of the Iroquois, that the French would leave them in peace if
they made atonement for the past, and promised good conduct for the
future; but that, if they did not heed his words, their villages
should be burned, and they themselves destroyed. He added, though he
knew the contrary, that the governor of New York would join him in war
against them.

During the delivery of this martial harangue, Big Mouth sat silent and
attentive, his eyes fixed on the bowl of his pipe. When the
interpreter had ceased, he rose, walked gravely two or three times
around the lines of the assembly, then stopped before the governor,
looked steadily at him, stretched his tawny arm, opened his capacious
jaws, and uttered himself as follows:--

"Onontio, I honor you, and all the warriors who are with me honor you.
Your interpreter has ended his speech, and now I begin mine. Listen to
my words.

"Onontio, when you left Quebec, you must have thought that the heat of
the sun had burned the forests that make our country inaccessible to
the French, or that the lake had overflowed them so that we could not
escape from our villages. You must have thought so, Onontio; and
curiosity to see such a fire or such a flood must have brought you to
this place. Now your eyes are opened; for I and my warriors have come
to tell you that the Senecas, Cayugas, Onondagas, Oneidas, and Mohawks
are all alive. I thank you in their name for bringing back the calumet
of peace which they gave to your predecessors; and I give you joy that
you have not dug up the hatchet which has been so often red with the
blood of your countrymen.

"Listen, Onontio. I am not asleep. My eyes are open; and by the sun
that gives me light I see a great captain at the head of a band of
soldiers, who talks like a man in a dream. He says that he has come to
smoke the pipe of peace with the Onondagas; but I see that he came to
knock them in the head, if so many of his Frenchmen were not too weak
to fight. I see Onontio raving in a camp of sick men, whose lives the
Great Spirit has saved by smiting them with disease. Our women had
snatched war-clubs, and our children and old men seized bows and
arrows to attack your camp, if our warriors had not restrained them,
when your messenger, Akouessan, appeared in our village."

He next justified the pillage of French traders on the ground, very
doubtful in this case, that they were carrying arms to the Illinois,
enemies of the confederacy; and he flatly refused to make reparation,
telling La Barre that even the old men of his tribe had no fear of the
French. He also avowed boldly that the Iroquois had conducted English
traders to the lakes. "We are born free," he exclaimed, "we depend
neither on Onontio nor on Corlaer. We have the right to go
whithersoever we please, to take with us whomever we please, and buy
and sell of whomever we please. If your allies are your slaves or your
children, treat them like slaves or children, and forbid them to deal
with anybody but your Frenchmen.

"We have knocked the Illinois in the head, because they cut down the
tree of peace and hunted the beaver on our lands. We have done less
than the English and the French, who have seized upon the lands of
many tribes, driven them away, and built towns, villages, and forts in
their country.

"Listen, Onontio. My voice is the voice of the Five Tribes of the
Iroquois. When they buried the hatchet at Cataraqui (_Fort Frontenac_)
in presence of your predecessor, they planted the tree of peace in the
middle of the fort, that it might be a post of traders and not of
soldiers. Take care that all the soldiers you have brought with you,
shut up in so small a fort, do not choke this tree of peace. I assure
you in the name of the Five Tribes that our warriors will dance the
dance of the calumet under its branches; and that they will sit quiet
on their mats and never dig up the hatchet, till their brothers,
Onontio and Corlaer, separately or together, make ready to attack the
country that the Great Spirit has given to our ancestors."

The session presently closed; and La Barre withdrew to his tent,
where, according to La Hontan, he vented his feelings in invective,
till reminded that good manners were not to be expected from an
Iroquois. Big Mouth, on his part, entertained some of the French at a
feast which he opened in person by a dance. There was another session
in the afternoon, and the terms of peace were settled in the evening.
The tree of peace was planted anew; La Barre promised not to attack
the Senecas; and Big Mouth, in spite of his former declaration,
consented that they should make amends for the pillage of the traders.
On the other hand, he declared that the Iroquois would fight the
Illinois to the death; and La Barre dared not utter a word in behalf
of his allies. The Onondaga next demanded that the council fire should
be removed from Fort Frontenac to La Famine, in the Iroquois country.
This point was yielded without resistance; and La Barre promised to
decamp and set out for home on the following morning. [Footnote: The
articles of peace will be found in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., IX. 236.
Compare _Memoir of M. de la Barre regarding the War against the
Senecas, ibid_., 239. These two documents do not agree as to date, one
placing the council on the 4th and the other on the 5th.]

Such was the futile and miserable end of the grand expedition. Even
the promise to pay for the plundered goods was contemptuously broken.
[Footnote: This appears from the letters of Denonville, La Barre's
successor.] The honor rested with the Iroquois. They had spurned the
French, repelled the claims of the English, and by act and word
asserted their independence of both.

La Barre embarked and hastened home in advance of his men. His camp
was again full of the sick. Their comrades placed them, shivering with
ague fits, on board the flat-boats and canoes; and the whole force,
scattered and disordered, floated down the current to Montreal.
Nothing had been gained but a thin and flimsy truce, with new troubles
and dangers plainly visible behind it. The better to understand their
nature, let us look for a moment at an episode of the campaign.

When La Barre sent messengers with gifts and wampum belts to summon
the Indians of the Upper Lakes to join in the war, his appeal found a
cold response. La Durantaye and Du Lhut, French commanders in that
region, vainly urged the surrounding tribes to lift the hatchet. None
but the Hurons would consent, when, fortunately, Nicolas Perrot
arrived at Michillimackinac on an errand of trade. This famous
_coureur de bois_--a very different person from Perrot, governor of
Montreal--was well skilled in dealing with Indians. Through his
influence, their scruples were overcome; and some five hundred
warriors, Hurons, Ottawas, Ojibwas, Pottawatamies, and Foxes, were
persuaded to embark for the rendezvous at Niagara, along with a
hundred or more Frenchmen. The fleet of canoes, numerous as a flock of
blackbirds in autumn, began the long and weary voyage. The two
commanders had a heavy task. Discipline was impossible. The French
were scarcely less wild than the savages. Many of them were painted
and feathered like their red companions, whose ways they imitated with
perfect success. The Indians, on their part, were but half-hearted for
the work in hand, for they had already discovered that the English
would pay twice as much for a beaver skin as the French; and they
asked nothing better than the appearance of English traders on the
lakes, and a safe peace with the Iroquois, which should open to them
the market of New York. But they were like children with the passions
of men, inconsequent, fickle, and wayward. They stopped to hunt on the
shore of Michigan, where a Frenchman accidentally shot himself with
his own gun. Here was an evil omen. But for the efforts of Perrot,
half the party would have given up the enterprise, and paddled home.
In the Strait of Detroit there was another hunt, and another accident.
In firing at a deer, an Indian wounded his own brother. On this the
tribesmen of the wounded man proposed to kill the French, as being the
occasion of the mischance. Once more the skill of Perrot prevailed;
but when they reached the Long Point of Lake Erie, the Foxes, about a
hundred in number, were on the point of deserting in a body. As
persuasion failed, Perrot tried the effect of taunts. "You are
cowards," he said to the naked crew, as they crowded about him with
their wild eyes and long lank hair. "You do not know what war is: you
never killed a man and you never ate one, except those that were given
you tied hand and foot." They broke out against him in a storm of
abuse. "You shall see whether we are men. We are going to fight the
Iroquois; and, unless you do your part, we will knock you in the
head." "You will never have to give yourselves the trouble," retorted
Perrot, "for at the first war-whoop you will all run off." He gained
his point. Their pride was roused, and for the moment they were full
of fight. [Footnote: _La Potherie_, II. 159 (ed. 1722). Perrot
himself, in his _Moeurs des Sauvages_, briefly mentions the incident.]

Immediately after, there was trouble with the Ottawas, who became
turbulent and threatening, and refused to proceed. With much ado, they
were persuaded to go as far as Niagara, being lured by the rash
assurance of La Durantaye that three vessels were there, loaded with a
present of guns for them. They carried their canoes by the cataract,
launched them again, paddled to the mouth of the river, and looked for
the vessels in vain. At length a solitary sail appeared on the lake.
She brought no guns, but instead a letter from La Barre, telling them
that peace was made, and that they might all go home. Some of them had
paddled already a thousand miles, in the hope of seeing the Senecas
humbled. They turned back in disgust, filled with wrath and scorn
against the governor and all the French. Canada had incurred the
contempt, not only of enemies, but of allies. There was danger that
these tribes would repudiate the French alliance, welcome the English
traders, make peace at any price with the Iroquois, and carry their
beaver skins to Albany instead of Montreal.

The treaty made at La Famine was greeted with contumely through all
the colony. The governor found, however, a comforter in the Jesuit
Lamberville, who stood fast in the position which he had held from the
beginning. He wrote to La Barre: "You deserve the title of saviour of
the country for making peace at so critical a time. In the condition
in which your army was, you could not have advanced into the Seneca
country without utter defeat. The Senecas had double palisades, which
could not have been forced without great loss. Their plan was to keep
three hundred men inside, and to perpetually harass you with twelve
hundred others. All the Iroquois were to collect together, and fire
only at the legs of your people, so as to master them, and burn them
at their leisure, and then, after having thinned their numbers by a
hundred ambuscades in the woods and grass, to pursue you in your
retreat even to Montreal, and spread desolation around it." [Footnote:
_Lamberville to La Barre, 9 Oct_., 1684, in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., IX.
260.] La Barre was greatly pleased with this letter, and made use of
it to justify himself to the king. His colleague, Meules, on the other
hand, declared that Lamberville, anxious to make favor with the
governor, had written only what La Barre wished to hear. The intendant
also informs the minister that La Barre's excuses are a mere pretence;
that everybody is astonished and disgusted with him; that the sickness
of the troops was his own fault, because he kept them encamped on wet
ground for an unconscionable length of time; that Big Mouth shamefully
befooled and bullied him; that, after the council at La Famine, he
lost his wits, and went off in a fright; that, since the return of the
troops, the officers have openly expressed their contempt for him; and
that the people would have risen against him, if he, Meules, had not
taken measures to quiet them. [Footnote: _Meules au Ministre_, 10
_Oct_., 1684.] These, with many other charges, flew across the sea
from the pen of the intendant.

The next ship from France brought the following letter from the

MONSIEUR DE LA BARRE,--Having been informed that your years do not
permit you to support the fatigues inseparable from your office of
governor and lieutenant-general in Canada, I send you this letter to
acquaint you that I have selected Monsieur de Denonville to serve in
your place; and my intention is that, on his arrival, after resigning
to him the command, with all instructions concerning it, you embark
for your return to France.


La Barre sailed for home; and the Marquis de Denonville, a pious
colonel of dragoons, assumed the vacant office.

[1] _Sir John Werden to Dongan_, 4 _Dec_., 1684; _N. Y. Col. Docs_.,
III. 353. Werden was the duke's secretary.

Dongan has been charged with instigating the Iroquois to attack the
French. The Jesuit Lamberville, writing from Onondaga, says, on the
contrary, that he hears that the "governor of New England (_New
York_), when the Mohawk chiefs asked him to continue the sale of
powder to them, replied that it should be continued so long as they
would not make war on Christians." _Lamberville à La Barre_, 10
_Fév_., 1684.

The French ambassador at London complained that Dongan excited the
Iroquois to war, and Dongan denied the charge. _N. Y. Col. Docs_.,
III. 506, 509.

[2] The famous _voyageur_, Nicolas Perrot, agrees with the intendant.
"Ils (_La Barre et ses associés_) s'imaginèrent que silost que le
François viendroit à paroistre, l'Irroquois luy demanderoit
miséricorde, quil seroit facile d'establir des magasins, construire
des barques dans le lac Ontario, et que c'estoil un moyen de trouver
des richesses." _Mémoire sur les Moeurs, Coustumes, et Réligion des
Sauvages_, chap. xxi.

The Sulpitian, Abbé Belmont, says that the avarice of the merchants
was the cause of the war; that they and La Barre wished to prevent the
Iroquois from interrupting trade; and that La Barre aimed at an
indemnity for the sixteen hundred livres in merchandise which the
Senecas had taken from his canoes early in the year. Belmont adds that
he wanted to bring them to terms without fighting.





Denonville embarked at Rochelle in June, with his wife and a part of
his family. Saint-Vallier, the destined bishop, was in the same
vessel; and the squadron carried five hundred soldiers, of whom a
hundred and fifty died of fever and scurvy on the way. Saint-Vallier
speaks in glowing terms of the new governor. "He spent nearly all his
time in prayer and the reading of good books. The Psalms of David were
always in his hands. In all the voyage, I never saw him do any thing
wrong; and there was nothing in his words or acts which did not show a
solid virtue and a consummate prudence, as well in the duties of the
Christian life as in the wisdom of this world." [Footnote:
Saint-Vallier, _État Présent de l'Église_, 4 (Quebec, 1856).]

When they landed, the nuns of the Hôtel-Dieu were overwhelmed with the
sick. "Not only our halls, but our church, our granary, our hen-yard,
and every corner of the hospital where we could make room, were filled
with them." [Footnote: Juchereau, _Hôtel-Dieu_, 283.]

Much was expected of Denonville. He was to repair the mischief wrought
by his predecessor, and restore the colony to peace, strength, and
security. The king had stigmatized La Barre's treaty with the Iroquois
as disgraceful, and expressed indignation at his abandonment of the
Illinois allies. All this was now to be changed; but it was easier to
give the order at Versailles than to execute it in Canada.
Denonville's difficulties were great; and his means of overcoming them
were small. What he most needed was more troops and more money. The
Senecas, insolent and defiant, were still attacking the Illinois; the
tribes of the north-west were angry, contemptuous, and disaffected;
the English of New York were urging claims to the whole country south
of the Great Lakes, and to a controlling share in all the western fur
trade; while the English of Hudson's Bay were competing for the
traffic of the northern tribes, and the English of New England were
seizing upon the fisheries of Acadia, and now and then making
piratical descents upon its coast. The great question lay between New
York and Canada. Which of these two should gain mastery in the west?

Denonville, like Frontenac, was a man of the army and the court. As a
soldier, he had the experience of thirty years of service; and he was
in high repute, not only for piety, but for probity and honor. He was
devoted to the Jesuits, an ardent servant of the king, a lover of
authority, filled with the instinct of subordination and order, and,
in short, a type of the ideas, religious, political, and social, then
dominant in France. He was greatly distressed at the disturbed
condition of the colony; while the state of the settlements, scattered
in broken lines for two or three hundred miles along the St. Lawrence,
seemed to him an invitation to destruction. "If we have a war," he
wrote, "nothing can save the country but a miracle of God."

Nothing was more likely than war. Intrigues were on foot between the
Senecas and the tribes of the lakes, which threatened to render the
appeal to arms a necessity to the French. Some of the Hurons of
Michillimackinac were bent on allying themselves with the English.
"They like the manners of the French," wrote Denonville; "but they
like the cheap goods of the English better." The Senecas, in collusion
with several Huron chiefs, had captured a considerable number of that
tribe and of the Ottawas. The scheme was that these prisoners should
be released, on condition that the lake tribes should join the Senecas
and repudiate their alliance with the French. [Footnote: _Denonville
au Ministre_, 12 _Juin_, 1686.] The governor of New York favored this
intrigue to the utmost.

Denonville was quick to see that the peril of the colony rose, not
from the Iroquois alone, but from the English of New York, who
prompted them. Dongan understood the situation. He saw that the French
aimed at mastering the whole interior of the continent. They had
established themselves in the valley of the Illinois, had built a fort
on the lower Mississippi, and were striving to entrench themselves at
its mouth. They occupied the Great Lakes--and it was already evident
that, as soon as their resources should permit, they would seize the
avenues of communication throughout the west. In short, the grand
scheme of French colonization had begun to declare itself. Dongan
entered the lists against them. If his policy should prevail, New
France would dwindle to a feeble province on the St. Lawrence: if the
French policy should prevail, the English colonies would remain a
narrow strip along the sea. Dongan's cause was that of all these
colonies; but they all stood aloof, and left him to wage the strife
alone. Canada was matched against New York, or rather against the
governor of New York. The population of the English colony was larger
than that of its rival; but, except the fur traders, few of the
settlers cared much for the questions at issue. [Footnote: New York
had about 18,000 inhabitants (Brodhead, _Hist. N. Y._, II. 458).
Canada, by the census of 1685, had 12,263.] Dongan's chief difficulty,
however, rose from the relations of the French and English kings.
Louis XIV. gave Denonville an unhesitating support. James II., on the
other hand, was for a time cautious to timidity. The two monarchs were
closely united. Both hated constitutional liberty, and both held the
same principles of supremacy in church and state; but Louis was
triumphant and powerful, while James, in conflict with his subjects,
was in constant need of his great ally, and dared not offend him.

The royal instructions to Denonville enjoined him to humble the
Iroquois, sustain the allies of the colony, oppose the schemes of
Dongan, and treat him as an enemy, if he encroached on French
territory. At the same time, the French ambassador at the English
court was directed to demand from James II. precise orders to the
governor of New York for a complete change of conduct in regard to
Canada and the Iroquois. [Footnote: _Seignelay to Barillon, French
Ambassador at London_, in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., LX. 269.] But Dongan,
like the French governors, was not easily controlled. In the absence
of money and troops, he intrigued busily with his Indian neighbors.
"The artifices of the English," wrote Denonville, "have reached such a
point that it would be better if they attacked us openly and burned
our settlements, instead of instigating the Iroquois against us for
our destruction. I know beyond a particle of doubt that M. Dongan
caused all the five Iroquois nations to be assembled last spring at
Orange (_Albany_), in order to excite them against us, by telling them
publicly that I meant to declare war against them." He says, further,
that Dongan supplies them with arms and ammunition, incites them to
attack the colony, and urges them to deliver Lamberville, the priest
at Onondaga, into his hands. "He has sent people, at the same time, to
our Montreal Indians to entice them over to him, promising them
missionaries to instruct them, and assuring them that he would prevent
the introduction of brandy into their villages. All these intrigues
have given me not a little trouble throughout the summer. M. Dongan
has written to me, and I have answered him as a man may do who wishes
to dissimulate and does not feel strong enough to get angry."
[Footnote: _Denonville à Seigneloy_, 8 _Nov_., 1686.]

Denonville, accordingly, while biding his time, made use of counter
intrigues, and, by means of the useful Lamberville, freely distributed
secret or "underground" presents among the Iroquois chiefs; while the
Jesuit Engelran was busy at Michillimackinac in adroit and vigorous
efforts to prevent the alienation of the Hurons, Ottawas, and other
lake tribes. The task was difficult; and, filled with anxiety, the
father came down to Montreal to see the governor, "and communicate to
me," writes Denonville, "the deplorable state of affairs with our
allies, whom we can no longer trust, owing to the discredit into which
we have fallen among them, and from which we cannot recover, except by
gaining some considerable advantage over the Iroquois; who, as I have
had the honor to inform you, have labored incessantly since last
autumn to rob us of all our allies, by using every means to make
treaties with them independently of us. You may be assured,
Monseigneur, that the English are the chief cause of the arrogance and
insolence of the Iroquois, adroitly using them to extend the limits of
their dominion and uniting with them as one nation, insomuch that the
English claims include no less than the Lakes Ontario and Erie, the
region of Saginaw (_Michigan_), the country of the Hurons, and all the
country in the direction of the Mississippi." [Footnote: _Denonville à
Seignelay_, 12 _Juin_, 1686.]

The most pressing danger was the defection of the lake tribes. "In
spite of the king's edicts," pursues Denonville, "the _coureurs de
bois_ have carried a hundred barrels of brandy to Michillimackinac in
a single year; and their libertinism and debauchery have gone to such
an extremity that it is a wonder the Indians have not massacred them
all to save themselves from their violence and recover their wives and
daughters from them. This, Monseigneur, joined to our failure in the
last war, has drawn upon us such contempt among all the tribes that
there is but one way to regain our credit, which is to humble the
Iroquois by our unaided strength, without asking the help of our
Indian allies." [Footnote: _Ibid_.] And he begs hard for a strong
reinforcement of troops.

Without doubt, Denonville was right in thinking that the chastising of
the Iroquois, or at least the Senecas, the head and front of mischief,
was a matter of the last necessity. A crushing blow dealt against them
would restore French prestige, paralyze English intrigue, save the
Illinois from destruction, and confirm the wavering allies of Canada.
Meanwhile, matters grew from bad to worse. In the north and in the
west, there was scarcely a tribe in the French interest which was not
either attacked by the Senecas or cajoled by them into alliances
hostile to the colony. "We may set down Canada as lost," again writes
Denonville, "if we do not make war next year; and yet, in our present
disordered state, war is the most dangerous thing in the world.
Nothing can save us but the sending out of troops and the building of
forts and blockhouses. Yet I dare not begin to build them; for, if I
do, it will bring down all the Iroquois upon us before we are in a
condition to fight them."

Nevertheless, he made what preparations he could, begging all the
while for more soldiers, and carrying on at the same time a
correspondence with his rival, Dongan. At first, it was courteous on
both sides; but it soon grew pungent, and at last acrid. Denonville
wrote to announce his arrival, and Dongan replied in French: "Sir, I
have had the honor of receiving your letter, and greatly rejoice at
having so good a neighbor, whose reputation is so widely spread that
it has anticipated your arrival. I have a very high respect for the
king of France, of whose bread I have eaten so much that I feel under
an obligation to prevent whatever can give the least umbrage to our
masters. M. de la Barre is a very worthy gentleman, but he has not
written to me in a civil and befitting style." [Footnote: _Dongan to
Denonville_, 13 _Oct_., 1685, in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., IX, 292.]

Denonville replied with many compliments: "I know not what reason you
may have had to be dissatisfied with M. de la Barre; but I know very
well that I should reproach myself all my life if I could fail to
render to you all the civility and attention due to a person of so
great rank and merit. In regard to the affair in which M. de la Barre
interfered, as you write me, I presume you refer to his quarrel with
the Senecas. As to that, Monsieur, I believe you understand the
character of that nation well enough to perceive that it is not easy
to live in friendship with a people, who have neither religion, nor
honor, nor subordination. The king, my master, entertains affection
and friendship for this country solely through zeal for the
establishment of religion here, and the support and protection of the
missionaries whose ardor in preaching the faith leads them to expose
themselves to the brutalities and persecutions of the most ferocious
of tribes. You know better than I what fatigues and torments they have
suffered for the sake of Jesus Christ. I know your heart is penetrated
with the glory of that name which makes Hell tremble, and at the
mention of which all the powers of Heaven fall prostrate. Shall we be
so unhappy as to refuse them our master's protection? You are a man of
rank and abounding in merit. You love our holy religion. Can we not
then come to an understanding to sustain our missionaries by keeping
those fierce tribes in respect and fear?" [Footnote: _Denonville to
Dongan_, 5 _Juin_, 1686, _N. Y. Col. Docs_., III. 456.]

This specious appeal for maintaining French Jesuits on English
territory, or what was claimed as such, was lost on Dongan, Catholic
as he was. He regarded them as dangerous political enemies, and did
his best to expel them, and put English priests in their place.
Another of his plans was to build a fort at Niagara, to exclude the
French from Lake Erie. Denonville entertained the same purpose, in
order to exclude the English; and he watched eagerly the moment to
execute it. A rumor of the scheme was brought to Dongan by one of the
French _coureurs de bois_, who often deserted to Albany, where they
were welcomed and encouraged. The English governor was exceedingly
wroth. He had written before in French out of complaisance. He now
dispensed with ceremony, and wrote in his own peculiar English: "I am
informed that you intend to build a fort at Ohniagero (_Niagara_) on
this side of the lake, within my Master's territoryes without
question. I cannot beleev that a person that has your reputation in
the world would follow the steps of Monsr. Labarr, and be ill advized
by some interested persons in your Governt. to make disturbance
between our Masters subjects in those parts of the world for a little
pelttree (_peltry_). I hear one of the Fathers (_the Jesuit Jean de
Lamberville_) is gone to you, and th'other that stayed (_Jacques de
Lamberville_) I have sent for him here lest the Indians should insult
over him, tho' it's a thousand pittys that those that have made such
progress in the service of God should be disturbed, and that by the
fault of those that laid the foundation of Christianity amongst these
barbarous people; setting apart the station I am in, I am as much
Monsr. Des Novilles (_Denonville's_) humble servant as any friend he
has, and will ommit no opportunity of manifesting the same. Sir, your
humble servant, Thomas Dongan." [Footnote: _Dongan to Denonville_, 22
_May_, 1686, in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., III. 455.]

Denonville in reply denied that he meant to build a fort at Niagara,
and warned Dongan not to believe the stories told him by French
deserters. "In order," he wrote, "that we may live on a good
understanding, it would be well that a gentleman of your character
should not give protection to all the rogues, vagabonds, and thieves
who desert us and seek refuge with you, and who, to gain your favor,
think they cannot do better than tell nonsensical stories about us,
which they will continue to do so long as you listen to them."
[Footnote: _Denonville à Dongan_, 20 _Juin_, 1686.] The rest of the
letter was in terms of civility, to which Dongan returned: "Beleive me
it is much joy to have soe good a neighbour of soe excellent
qualifications and temper, and of a humour altogether differing from
Monsieur de la Barre, your predecessor, who was so furious and hasty
and very much addicted to great words, as if I had bin to have bin
frighted by them. For my part, I shall take all immaginable care that
the Fathers who preach the Holy Gospell to those Indians over whom I
have power bee not in the least ill treated, and upon that very
accompt have sent for one of each nation to come to me, and then those
beastly crimes you reproove shall be checked severely, and all my
endevours used to surpress their filthy drunkennesse, disorders,
debauches, warring, and quarrels, and whatsoever doth obstruct the
growth and enlargement of the Christian faith amongst those people."
He then, in reply to an application of Denonville, promised to give up
"runawayes." [Footnote: _Dongan to Denonville_, 26 _July_, 1686, in
_N. Y. Col. Docs_., III. 460.]

Promise was not followed by performance; and he still favored to the
utmost the truant Frenchmen who made Albany their resort, and often
brought with them most valuable information. This drew an angry letter
from Denonville. "You were so good, Monsieur, as to tell me that you
would give up all the deserters who have fled to you to escape
chastisement for their knavery. As most of them are bankrupts and
thieves, I hope that they will give you reason to repent having
harbored them, and that your merchants who employ them will be
punished for trusting such rascals." [Footnote: _Denonville à Dongan_,
1 _Oct_., 1686.] To the great wrath of the French governor, Dongan
persisted in warning the Iroquois that he meant to attack them. "You
proposed, Monsieur," writes Denonville, "to submit every thing to the
decision of our masters. Nevertheless, your emissary to the Onondagas
told all the Five Nations in your name to pillage and make war on us."
Next, he berates his rival for furnishing the Indians with rum. "Think
you that religion will make any progress, while your traders supply
the savages in abundance with the liquor which, as you ought to know,
converts them into demons and their lodges into counterparts of Hell?"

"Certainly," retorts Dongan, "our Rum doth as little hurt as your
Brandy, and, in the opinion of Christians, is much more wholesome."
[Footnote: _Dongan to Denonville_, 1 _Dec_., 1686, in _N. Y. Col.
Docs_., III. 462.]

Each tried incessantly to out-general the other. Denonville, steadfast
in his plan of controlling the passes of the western country, had
projected forts, not only at Niagara, but also at Toronto, on Lake
Erie, and on the Strait of Detroit. He thought that a time had come
when he could, without rashness, secure this last important passage;
and he sent an order to Du Lhut, who was then at Michillimackinac, to
occupy it with fifty _coureurs de bois_. [Footnote: _Denonville à Du
Lhut_, 6 _Juin_, 1686.] That enterprising chief accordingly repaired
to Detroit, and built a stockade at the outlet of Lake Huron on the
western side of the strait. It was not a moment too soon. The year
before, Dongan had sent a party of armed traders in eleven canoes,
commanded by Johannes Rooseboom, a Dutchman of Albany, to carry
English goods to the upper lakes. They traded successfully, winning
golden opinions from the Indians, who begged them to come every year;
and, though Denonville sent an officer to stop them at Niagara, they
returned in triumph, after an absence of three months. [Footnote:
Brodhead, _Hist. of New York_, II. 429; _Denonville au Ministre_, 8
_Mai_, 1686.] A larger expedition was organized in the autumn of 1686.
Rooseboom again set out for the lakes with twenty or more canoes. He
was to winter among the Senecas, and wait the arrival of Major
McGregory, a Scotch officer, who was to leave Albany in the spring
with fifty men, take command of the united parties, and advance to
Lake Huron, accompanied by a band of Iroquois, to form a general
treaty of trade and alliance with the tribes claimed by France as her
subjects. [Footnote: Brodhead, _Hist. of New York_, II. 443;
_Commission of McGregory_, in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., IX. 318.]

Denonville was beside himself at the news. He had already urged upon
Louis XIV. the policy of buying the colony of New York, which he
thought might easily be done, and which, as he said, "would make us
masters of the Iroquois without a war." This time he wrote in a less
pacific mood: "I have a mind to go straight to Albany, storm their
fort, and burn every thing." [Footnote: _Denonville au Ministre_, 16
_Nov_., 1686.] And he begged for soldiers more earnestly than ever.
"Things grow worse and worse. The English stir up the Iroquois against
us, and send parties to Michillimackinac to rob us of our trade. It
would be better to declare war against them than to perish by their
intrigues." [Footnote: _Ibid_., 15 _Oct_., 1686.]

He complained bitterly to Dongan, and Dongan replied: "I beleeve it is
as lawfull for the English as the French to trade amongst the remotest
Indians. I desire you to send me word who it was that pretended to
have my orders for the Indians to plunder and fight you. That is as
false as 'tis true that God is in heaven. I have desired you to send
for the deserters. I know not who they are but had rather such
Rascalls and Bankrouts, as you call them, were amongst their own
countrymen." [Footnote: _Dongan to Denonville_, 1 _Dec_., 1686;
_Ibid_., 20 _June_, 1687, in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., III. 462, 465.]

He had, nevertheless, turned them to good account; for, as the English
knew nothing of western geography, they employed these French
bush-rangers to guide their trading parties. Denonville sent orders to
Du Lhut to shoot as many of them as he could catch.

Dongan presently received despatches from the English court, which
showed him the necessity of caution; and, when next he wrote to his
rival, it was with a chastened pen: "I hope your Excellency will be so
kinde as not desire or seeke any correspondence with our Indians of
this side of the Great lake (_Ontario_): if they doe amisse to any of
your Governmt. and you make it known to me, you shall have all justice
done." He complained mildly that the Jesuits were luring their
Iroquois converts to Canada; "and you must pardon me if I tell you
that is not the right way to keepe fair correspondence. I am daily
expecting Religious men from England, which I intend to put amongst
those five nations. I desire you would order Monsr. de Lamberville
that soe long as he stayes amongst those people he would meddle only
with the affairs belonging to his function. Sir, I send you some
Oranges, hearing that they are a rarity in your partes." [Footnote:
_Dongan to Denonville_, 20 _Juin_, 1687, in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., III.

"Monsieur," replies Denonville, "I thank you for your oranges. It is a
great pity that they were all rotten."

The French governor, unlike his rival, felt strong in the support of
his king, who had responded amply to his appeals for aid; and the
temper of his letters answered to his improved position. "I was led,
Monsieur, to believe, by your civil language in the letter you took
the trouble to write me on my arrival, that we should live in the
greatest harmony in the world; but the result has plainly shown that
your intentions did not at all answer to your fine words." And he
upbraids him without measure for his various misdeeds: "Take my word
for it. Let us devote ourselves to the accomplishment of our masters'
will; let us seek, as they do, to serve and promote religion; let us
live together in harmony, as they desire. I repeat and protest,
Monsieur, that it rests with you alone; but do not imagine that I am a
man to suffer others to play tricks on me. I willingly believe that
you have not ordered the Iroquois to plunder our Frenchmen; but,
whilst I have the honor to write to you, you know that Salvaye, Gédeon
Petit, and many other rogues and bankrupts like them, are with you,
and boast of sharing your table. I should not be surprised that you
tolerate them in your country; but I am astonished that you should
promise me not to tolerate them, that you so promise me again, and
that you perform nothing of what you promise. Trust me, Monsieur, make
no promise that you are not willing to keep." [Footnote: _Denonville à
Dongan_, 21 _Aug_., 1687; _Ibid., no date_ (1687).]

Denonville, vexed and perturbed by his long strife with Dongan and the
Iroquois, presently found a moment of comfort in tidings that reached
him from the north. Here, as in the west, there was violent rivalry
between the subjects of the two crowns. With the help of two French
renegades, named Radisson and Groseilliers, the English Company of
Hudson's Bay, then in its infancy, had established a post near the
mouth of Nelson River, on the western shore of that dreary inland sea.
The company had also three other posts, called Fort Albany, Fort
Hayes, and Fort Rupert, at the southern end of the bay. A rival French
company had been formed in Canada, under the name of the Company of
the North; and it resolved on an effort to expel its English
competitors. Though it was a time of profound peace between the two
kings, Denonville warmly espoused the plan; and, in the early spring
of 1686, he sent the Chevalier de Troyes from Montreal, with eighty or
more Canadians, to execute it. [Footnote: The Compagnie du Nord had a
grant of the trade of Hudson's Bay from Louis XIV. The bay was
discovered by the English, under Hudson; but the French had carried on
some trade there before the establishment of Fort Nelson. Denonville's
commission to Troyes merely directs him to build forts, and "se saisir
des voleurs coureurs de bois et autres que nous savons avoir pris et
arrêté plusieurs de nos François commerçants avec les sauvages."] With
Troyes went Iberville, Sainte-Hélène, and Maricourt, three of the sons
of Charles Le Moyne; and the Jesuit Silvy joined the party as

They ascended the Ottawa, and thence, from stream to stream and lake
to lake, toiled painfully towards their goal. At length, they neared
Fort Hayes. It was a stockade with four bastions, mounted with cannon.
There was a strong blockhouse within, in which the sixteen occupants
of the place were lodged, unsuspicious of danger. Troyes approached at
night. Iberville and Sainte-Hélène with a few followers climbed the
palisade on one side, while the rest of the party burst the main gate
with a sort of battering ram, and rushed in, yelling the war-whoop. In
a moment, the door of the blockhouse was dashed open, and its
astonished inmates captured in their shirts.

The victors now embarked for Fort Rupert, distant forty leagues along
the shore. In construction, it resembled Fort Hayes. The fifteen
traders who held the place were all asleep at night in their
blockhouse, when the Canadians burst the gate of the stockade and
swarmed into the area. One of them mounted by a ladder to the roof of
the building, and dropped lighted hand-grenades down the chimney,
which, exploding among the occupants, told them unmistakably that
something was wrong. At the same time, the assailants fired briskly on
them through the loopholes, and, placing a petard under the walls,
threatened to blow them into the air. Five, including a woman, were
killed or wounded; and the rest cried for quarter. Meanwhile,
Iberville with another party attacked a vessel anchored near the fort,
and, climbing silently over her side, found the man on the watch
asleep in his blanket. He sprang up and made fight, but they killed
him, then stamped on the deck to rouse those below, sabred two of them
as they came up the hatchway, and captured the rest. Among them was
Bridger, governor for the company of all its stations on the bay.

They next turned their attention to Fort Albany, thirty leagues from
Fort Hayes, in a direction opposite to that of Fort Rupert. Here there
were about thirty men, under Henry Sargent, an agent of the company.
Surprise was this time impossible; for news of their proceedings had
gone before them, and Sargent, though no soldier, stood on his
defence. The Canadians arrived, some in canoes, some in the captured
vessel, bringing ten captured pieces of cannon, which they planted in
battery on a neighboring hill, well covered by intrenchments from the
English shot. Here they presently opened fire; and, in an hour, the
stockade with the houses that it enclosed was completely riddled. The
English took shelter in a cellar, nor was it till the fire slackened
that they ventured out to show a white flag and ask for a parley.
Troyes and Sargent had an interview. The Englishman regaled his
conqueror with a bottle of Spanish wine; and, after drinking the
health of King Louis and King James, they settled the terms of
capitulation. The prisoners were sent home in an English vessel which
soon after arrived; and Maricourt remained to command at the bay,
while Troyes returned to report his success to Denonville. [1]

This buccaneer exploit exasperated the English public, and it became
doubly apparent that the state of affairs in America could not be
allowed to continue. A conference had been arranged between the two
powers, even before the news came from Hudson's Bay; and Count d'Avaux
appeared at London as special envoy of Louis XIV. to settle the
questions at issue. A treaty of neutrality was signed at Whitehall,
and commissioners were appointed on both sides. [Footnote: _Traité de
Neutralité pour l'Amérique, conclu à Londres le_ 16 _Nov., 1686_, in
_Mémoires des Commissaires_, II. 86.] Pending the discussion, each
party was to refrain from acts of hostility or encroachment; and, said
the declaration of the commissioners, "to the end the said agreement
may have the better effect, we do likewise agree that the said serene
kings shall immediately send necessary orders in that behalf to their
respective governors in America." [Footnote: _Instrument for
preventing Acts of Hostility in America_ in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., III.
505.] Dongan accordingly was directed to keep a friendly
correspondence with his rival, and take good care to give him no cause
of complaint. [Footnote: _Order to Gov. Dongan_, 22 _Jan., 1687_, in
_N. Y. Col. Docs_., III. 504.]

It was this missive which had dashed the ardor of the English
governor, and softened his epistolary style. More than four months
after, Louis XIV. sent corresponding instructions to Denonville;
[Footnote: _Louis XIV. à Denonville_, 17 _Juin_, 1687. At the end of
March, the king had written that "he did not think it expedient to
make any attack on the English."] but, meantime, he had sent him
troops, money, and munitions in abundance, and ordered him to attack
the Iroquois towns. Whether such a step was consistent with the recent
treaty of neutrality may well be doubted; for, though James II. had
not yet formally claimed the Iroquois as British subjects, his
representative had done so for years with his tacit approval, and out
of this claim had risen the principal differences which it was the
object of the treaty to settle.

Eight hundred regulars were already in the colony, and eight hundred
more were sent in the spring, with a hundred and sixty-eight thousand
livres in money and supplies. [Footnote: _Abstract of Letters_, in _N.
Y. Col. Docs_., IX. 314. This answers exactly to the statement of the
_Mémoire adressé au Régent_, which places the number of troops in
Canada at this time at thirty-two companies of fifty men each.]
Denonville was prepared to strike. He had pushed his preparations
actively, yet with extreme secrecy; for he meant to fall on the
Senecas unawares, and shatter at a blow the mainspring of English
intrigue. Harmony reigned among the chiefs of the colony, military,
civil, and religious. The intendant Meules had been recalled on the
complaints of the governor, who had quarrelled with him; and a new
intendant, Champigny, had been sent in his place. He was as pious as
Denonville himself, and, like him, was in perfect accord with the
bishop and the Jesuits. All wrought together to promote the new

It was not yet time to preach it, or at least Denonville thought so.
He dissembled his purpose to the last moment, even with his best
friends. Of all the Jesuits among the Iroquois, the two brothers
Lamberville had alone held their post. Denonville, in order to deceive
the enemy, had directed these priests to urge the Iroquois chiefs to
meet him in council at Fort Frontenac, whither, as he pretended, he
was about to go with an escort of troops, for the purpose of
conferring with them. The two brothers received no hint whatever of
his real intention, and tried in good faith to accomplish his wishes;
but the Iroquois were distrustful, and hesitated to comply. On this,
the elder Lamberville sent the younger with letters to Denonville to
explain the position of affairs, saying at the same time that he
himself would not leave Onondaga except to accompany the chiefs to the
proposed council. "The poor father," wrote the governor, "knows
nothing of our designs. I am sorry to see him exposed to danger; but,
should I recall him, his withdrawal would certainly betray our plans
to the Iroquois." This unpardonable reticence placed the Jesuit in
extreme peril; for the moment the Iroquois discovered the intended
treachery they would probably burn him as its instrument. No man in
Canada had done so much as the elder Lamberville to counteract the
influence of England and serve the interests of France, and in return
the governor exposed him recklessly to the most terrible of deaths.
[Footnote: _Denonville au Ministre_, 9 _Nov_., 1686; _Ibid_., 8
_Juin_, 1687. Denonville at last seems to have been seized with some
compunction, and writes: "Tout cela me fait craindre que le pauvre
père n'ayt de la peine à se retirer d'entre les mains de ces barbares
ce qui m'inquiete fort." Dongan, though regarding the Jesuit as an
insidious enemy, had treated him much better, and protected him on
several occasions, for which he received the emphatic thanks of
Dablon, superior of the missions. _Dablon to Dongan_ (1685?), in _N.
Y. Col. Docs_., III. 454.]

In spite of all his pains, it was whispered abroad that there was to
be war; and the rumor was brought to the ears of Dongan by some of the
Canadian deserters. He lost no time in warning the Iroquois, and their
deputies came to beg his help. Danger humbled them for the moment; and
they not only recognized King James as their sovereign, but consented
at last to call his representative _Father_ Corlaer instead of
_Brother_. Their father, however, dared not promise them soldiers;
though, in spite of the recent treaty, he caused gunpowder and lead to
be given them, and urged them to recall the powerful war-parties which
they had lately sent against the Illinois. [Footnote: Colden, 97
(1727), _Denonville au Ministre_, 8 _Juin_, 1687.]

Denonville at length broke silence, and ordered the militia to muster.
They grumbled and hesitated, for they remembered the failures of La
Barre. The governor issued a proclamation, and the bishop a pastoral
mandate. There were sermons, prayers, and exhortations in all the
churches. A revulsion of popular feeling followed; and the people,
says Denonville, "made ready for the march with extraordinary
animation." The church showered blessings on them as they went, and
daily masses were ordained for the downfall of the foes of Heaven and
of France. [Footnote: Saint-Vallier, _État Présent_. Even to the
moment of marching, Denonville pretended that he meant only to hold a
peace council at Fort Frontenac. "J'ai toujours publié que je n'allois
qu'à l'assemblée générale projetée à Cataracouy (_Fort Frontenac_),
J'ai toujours tenu ce discours jusqu'au temps de la marche."
_Denonville au Ministre_, 8 _Juin_, 1687.]

[1] On the capture of the forts at Hudson's Bay, see La Potherie, I.
147-163; the letter of Father Silvy, chaplain of the expedition, in
Saint-Vallier, _État Présent_, 43; and Oldmixon, _British Empire in
America_, I. 561-564 (ed. 1741). An account of the preceding events
will be found in La Potherie and Oldmixon; in Jerémie, _Relation de la
Baie de Hudson_; and in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., IX. 796-802. Various
embellishments have been added to the original narratives by recent
writers, such as an imaginary hand-to-hand fight of Iberville and
several Englishmen in the blockhouse of Fort Hayes.





A host of flat-boats filled with soldiers, and a host of Indian
canoes, struggled against the rapids of the St. Lawrence, and slowly
made their way to Fort Frontenac. Among the troops was La Hontan. When
on his arrival he entered the gate of the fort, he saw a strange
sight. A row of posts was planted across the area within, and to each
post an Iroquois was tied by the neck, hands, and feet, "in such a
way," says the indignant witness, "that he could neither sleep nor
drive off the mosquitoes." A number of Indians attached to the
expedition, all of whom were Christian converts from the mission
villages, were amusing themselves by burning the fingers of these
unfortunates in the bowls of their pipes, while the sufferers sang
their death songs. La Hontan recognized one of them who, during his
campaign with La Barre, had often feasted him in his wigwam; and the
sight so exasperated the young officer that he could scarcely refrain
from thrashing the tormentors with his walking stick. [Footnote: _La
Hontan_, I. 93-95 (1709).]

Though the prisoners were Iroquois, they were not those against whom
the expedition was directed; nor had they, so far as appears, ever
given the French any cause of complaint. They belonged to two neutral
villages, called Kenté and Ganneious, on the north shore of Lake
Ontario, forming a sort of colony, where the Sulpitians of Montreal
had established a mission. [Footnote: Ganneious or Ganéyout was on an
arm of the lake a little west of the present town of Fredericksburg.
Kenté or Quinte was on Quinte Bay.] They hunted and fished for the
garrison of the fort, and had been on excellent terms with it.
Denonville, however, feared that they would report his movements to
their relations across the lake; but this was not his chief motive for
seizing them. Like La Barre before him, he had received orders from
the court that, as the Iroquois were robust and strong, he should
capture as many of them as possible, and send them to France as galley
slaves. [Footnote: _Le Roy à La Barre_, 21 _Juillet_, 1684; _Le Roy à
Denonville et Champigny_, 30 _Mars_, 1687.] The order, without doubt,
referred to prisoners taken in war; but Denonville, aware that the
hostile Iroquois were not easily caught, resolved to entrap their
unsuspecting relatives.

The intendant Champigny accordingly proceeded to the fort in advance
of the troops, and invited the neighboring Iroquois to a feast. They
came to the number of thirty men and about ninety women and children,
whereupon they were surrounded and captured by the intendant's escort
and the two hundred men of the garrison. The inhabitants of the
village of Ganneious were not present; and one Perré, with a strong
party of Canadians and Christian Indians, went to secure them. He
acquitted himself of his errand with great address, and returned with
eighteen warriors and about sixty women and children. Champigny's
exertions did not end here. Learning that a party of Iroquois were
peaceably fishing on an island in the St. Lawrence, he offered them
also the hospitalities of Fort Frontenac; but they were too wary to be
entrapped. Four or five Iroquois were however caught by the troops on
their way up the river. They were in two or more parties, and they all
had with them their women and children, which was never the case with
Iroquois on the war-path. Hence the assertion of Denonville, that they
came with hostile designs, is very improbable. As for the last six
months he had constantly urged them, by the lips of Lamberville, to
visit him and smoke the pipe of peace, it is not unreasonable to
suppose that these Indian families were on their way to the colony in
consequence of his invitations. Among them were the son and brother of
Big Mouth, who of late had been an advocate of peace; and, in order
not to alienate him, these two were eventually set free. The other
warriors were tied like the rest to stakes at the fort.

The whole number of prisoners thus secured was fifty-one, sustained by
such food as their wives were able to get for them. Of more than a
hundred and fifty women and children captured with them, many died at
the fort, partly from excitement and distress, and partly from a
pestilential disease. The survivors were all baptized, and then
distributed among the mission villages in the colony. The men were
sent to Quebec, where some of them were given up to their Christian
relatives in the missions who had claimed them, and whom it was not
expedient to offend; and the rest, after being baptized, were sent to
France, to share with convicts and Huguenots the horrible slavery of
the royal galleys. [1]

Before reaching Fort Frontenac, Denonville, to his great relief, was
joined by Lamberville, delivered from the peril to which the governor
had exposed him. He owed his life to an act of magnanimity on the part
of the Iroquois, which does them signal honor. One of the prisoners at
Fort Frontenac had contrived to escape, and, leaping sixteen feet to
the ground from the window of a blockhouse, crossed the lake, and gave
the alarm to his countrymen. Apparently, it was from him that the
Onondagas learned that the invitations of Onontio were a snare; that
he had entrapped their relatives, and was about to fall on their
Seneca brethren with all the force of Canada. The Jesuit, whom they
trusted and esteemed, but who had been used as an instrument to
beguile them, was summoned before a council of the chiefs. They were
in a fury at the news; and Lamberville, as much astonished by it as
they, expected instant death, when one of them is said to have
addressed him to the following effect: "We know you too well to
believe that you meant to betray us. We think that you have been
deceived as well as we; and we are not unjust enough to punish you for
the crime of others. But you are not safe here. When once our young
men have sung the warsong, they will listen to nothing but their fury;
and we shall not be able to save you." They gave him guides, and sent
him by secret paths to meet the advancing army. [2]

Again the fields about Fort Frontenac were covered with tents,
camp-sheds, and wigwams. Regulars, militia, and Indians, there were
about two thousand men; and, besides these, eight hundred regulars
just arrived from France had been left at Montreal to protect the
settlers. [Footnote: Denonville. Champigny says 832 regulars, 930
militia, and 300 Indians. This was when the army left Montreal. More
Indians afterwards joined it. Belmont says 1,800 French and Canadians
and about 300 Indians.] Fortune thus far had smiled on the enterprise,
and she now gave Denonville a fresh proof of her favor. On the very
day of his arrival, a canoe came from Niagara with news that a large
body of allies from the west had reached that place three days before,
and were waiting his commands. It was more than he had dared to hope.
In the preceding autumn, he had ordered Tonty, commanding at the
Illinois, and La Durantaye, commanding at Michillimackinac, to muster
as many _coureurs de bois_ and Indians as possible, and join him early
in July at Niagara. The distances were vast, and the difficulties
incalculable. In the eyes of the pious governor, their timely arrival
was a manifest sign of the favor of Heaven. At Fort St. Louis, of the
Illinois, Tonty had mustered sixteen Frenchmen and about two hundred
Indians, whom he led across the country to Detroit; and here he found
Du Lhut, La Forêt, and La Durantaye, with a large body of French and
Indians from the upper lakes. [Footnote: Tonty, _Mémoire_ in Margry,
_Relations Inédites_.] It had been the work of the whole winter to
induce these savages to move. Presents, persuasion, and promises had
not been spared--and while La Durantaye, aided by the Jesuit Engelran,
labored to gain over the tribes of Michillimackinac, the indefatigable
Nicolas Perrot was at work among those of the Mississippi and Lake
Michigan. They were of a race unsteady as aspens and fierce as
wild-cats, full of mutual jealousies, without rulers, and without
laws; for each was a law to himself. It was difficult to persuade
them, and, when persuaded, scarcely possible to keep them so. Perrot,
however, induced some of them to follow him to Michillimackinac, where

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