Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Fighting Governor by Charles W. Colby

Part 1 out of 2

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

This etext was produced by Gardner Buchanan.

Edited by George M. Wrong and H. H. Langton
In thirty-two volumes

Volume 7

A Chronicle of Frontenac




The Canada to which Frontenac came in 1672 was no longer
the infant colony it had been when Richelieu founded the
Company of One Hundred Associates. Through the efforts
of Louis XIV and Colbert it had assumed the form of an
organized province. [Footnote: See The Great Intendant
in this Series.] Though its inhabitants numbered less
than seven thousand, the institutions under which they
lived could not have been more elaborate or precise. In
short, the divine right of the king to rule over his
people was proclaimed as loudly in the colony as in the

It was inevitable that this should be so, for the whole
course of French history since the thirteenth century
had led up to the absolutism of Louis XIV. During the
early ages of feudalism France had been distracted by
the wars of her kings against rebellious nobles. The
virtues and firmness of Louis IX (1226-70) had turned
the scale in favour of the crown. There were still to be
many rebellions--the strife of Burgundians and Armagnacs
in the fifteenth century, the Wars of the League in the
sixteenth century, the cabal of the Fronde in the
seventeenth century--but the great issue had been settled
in the days of the good St Louis. When Raymond VII of
Toulouse accepted the Peace of Lorris (1243) the government
of Canada by Louis XIV already existed in the germ. That
is to say, behind the policy of France in the New World
may be seen an ancient process which had ended in
untrammelled autocracy at Paris.

This process as it affected Canada was not confined to
the spirit of government. It is equally visible in the
forms of colonial administration. During the Middle Ages
the dukes and counts of France had been great territorial
lords--levying their own armies, coining their own money,
holding power of life and death over their vassals. In
that period Normandy, Brittany, Maine, Anjou, Toulouse,
and many other districts, were subject to the king in
name only. But, with the growth of royal power, the dukes
and counts steadily lost their territorial independence
and fell at last to the condition of courtiers.
Simultaneously the duchies or counties were changed into
provinces, each with a noble for its governor--but a
noble who was a courtier, holding his commission from
the king and dependent upon the favour of the king. Side
by side with the governor stood the intendant, even more
a king's man than the governor himself. So jealously did
the Bourbons guard their despotism that the crown
would not place wide authority in the hands of any one
representative. The governor, as a noble and a soldier,
knew little or nothing of civil business. To watch over
the finances and the prosperity of the province, an
intendant was appointed. This official was always
chosen from the middle class and owed his position, his
advancement, his whole future, to the king. The governor
might possess wealth, or family connections. The intendant
had little save what came to him from his sovereign's
favour. Gratitude and interest alike tended to make him
a faithful servant.

But, though the crown had destroyed the political power
of the nobles, it left intact their social pre-eminence.
The king was as supreme as a Christian ruler could be.
Yet by its very nature the monarchy could not exist
without the nobles, from whose ranks the sovereign drew
his attendants, friends, and lieutenants. Versailles
without its courtiers would have been a desert. Even the
Church was a stronghold of the aristocracy, for few became
bishops or abbots who were not of gentle birth.

The great aim of government, whether at home or in the
colonies, was to maintain the supremacy of the crown.
Hence all public action flowed from a royal command. The
Bourbon theory required that kings should speak and that
subjects should obey. One direct consequence of a system
so uncompromisingly despotic was the loss of all local
initiative. Nothing in the faintest degree resembling
the New England town-meeting ever existed in New France.
Louis XIV objected to public gatherings of his people,
even for the most innocent purposes. The sole limitation
to the power of the king was the line of cleavage between
Church and State. Religion required that the king should
refrain from invading the sphere of the clergy, though
controversy often waxed fierce as to where the secular
ended and the spiritual began.

When it became necessary to provide institutions for
Canada, the organization of the province in France at
once suggested itself as a fit pattern. Canada, like
Normandy, had the governor and the intendant for her
chief officials, the seigneury for the groundwork of her
society, and mediaeval coutumes for her laws.

The governor represented the king's dignity and the force
of his arms. He was a noble, titled or untitled. It was
the business of the governor to wage war and of the
intendant to levy taxes. But as an expedition could not
be equipped without money, the governor looked to the
intendant for funds, and the intendant might object that
the plans of the governor were unduly extravagant. Worse
still, the commissions under which both held office were
often contradictory. More than three thousand miles
separated Quebec from Versailles, and for many months
governor and intendant quarrelled over issues which could
only be settled by an appeal to the king. Meanwhile each
was a spy as well as a check upon the other. In Canada
this arrangement worked even more harmfully than in
France, where the king could make himself felt without
great loss of time.

Yet an able intendant could do much good. There are few
finer episodes in the history of local government than
the work of Turgot as intendant of the Limousin.
[Footnote: Anne Robert Jacques Turgot (1727-81), a
statesman, thinker, and philanthropist of the first order.
It was as intendant of Limoges that Turgot disclosed his
great powers. He held his post for thirteen years (1761-
74), and effected improvements which led Louis XVI to
appoint him comptroller-general of the Kingdom.] Canada
also had her Talon, whose efforts had transformed the
colony during the seven years which preceded Frontenac's
arrival. The fatal weakness was scanty population. This
Talon saw with perfect clearness, and he clamoured for
immigrants till Colbert declared that he would not
depopulate France to people Canada. Talon and Frontenac
came into personal contact only during a few weeks, but
the colony over which Frontenac ruled as governor had
been created largely by the intelligence and toil of
Talon as intendant. [Footnote: See The Great Intendant.]

While the provincial system of France gave Canada two
chief personages, a third came from the Church. In the
annals of New France there is no more prominent figure
than the bishop. Francois de Laval de Montmorency had
been in the colony since 1659. His place in history is
due in large part to his strong, intense personality,
but this must not be permitted to obscure the importance
of his office. His duties were to create educational
institutions, to shape ecclesiastical policy, and to
represent the Church in all its dealings with the

Many of the problems which confronted Laval had their
origin in special and rather singular circumstances. Few,
if any, priests had as yet been established in fixed
parishes--each with its church and presbytere. Under
ordinary conditions parishes would have been established
at once, but in Canada the conditions were far from
ordinary. The Canadian Church sprang from a mission. Its
first ministers were members of religious orders who had
taken the conversion of the heathen for their chosen
task. They had headquarters at Quebec or Montreal, but
their true field of action was the wilderness. Having
the red man rather than the settler as their charge, they
became immersed, and perhaps preoccupied, in their heroic
work. Thus the erection of parishes was delayed. More
than one historian has upbraided Laval for thinking so
much of the mission that he neglected the spiritual needs
of the colonists. However this may be, the colony owed
much to the missionaries--particularly to the Jesuits.
It is no exaggeration to say that the Society of Jesus
had been among the strongest forces which stood between
New France and destruction. Other supports failed. The
fur trade had been the corner-stone upon which Champlain
built up Quebec, but the profits proved disappointing.
At the best it was a very uncertain business. Sometimes
the prices in Paris dwindled to nothing because the market
was glutted. At other times the Indians brought no furs
at all to the trading-posts. With its export trade
dependent upon the caprice of the savages, the colony
often seemed not worth the keeping. In these years of
worst discouragement the existence of the mission was a
great prop.

On his arrival in 1672 Frontenac found the Jesuits, the
Sulpicians, and the Recollets all actively engaged in
converting the heathen. He desired that more attention
should be paid to the creation of parishes for the benefit
of the colonists. Over this issue there arose, as we
shall see by and by, acute differences between the bishop
and the governor.

Owing to the large part which religion had in the life
of New France the bishop took his place beside the governor
and the intendant. This was the triumvirate of dignitaries.
Primarily each represented a different interest--war,
business, religion. But they were brought into official
contact through membership in the Conseil Souverain,
which controlled all details of governmental action.

The Sovereign Council underwent changes of name and
composition, but its functions were at all times plainly
defined. In 1672 the members numbered seven. Of these
the governor, the bishop, and the intendant formed the
nucleus, the other four being appointed by them. In 1675
the king raised the number of councillors to ten, thus
diluting the authority which each possessed, and thenceforth
made the appointments himself. Thus during the greater
part of Frontenac's regime the governor, the bishop, and
the intendant had seven associates at the council-board.
Still, as time went on, the king felt that his control
over this body was not quite perfect. So in 1703 he
changed the name from Sovereign Council to Superior
Council, and increased its members to a total of fifteen.

The Council met at the Chateau St Louis on Monday morning
of each week, at a round table where the governor had
the bishop on his right hand and the intendant on his
left. Nevertheless the intendant presided, for the matters
under discussion fell chiefly in his domain. Of the other
councillors the attorney-general was the most conspicuous.
To him fell the task of sifting the petitions and
determining which should be presented. Although there
were local judges at Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal,
the Council had jurisdiction over all important cases,
whether criminal or civil. In the sphere of commerce its
powers were equally complete and minute. It told merchants
what profits they could take on their goods, and how
their goods should be classified with respect to the
percentage of profit allowed. Nothing was too petty for
its attention. Its records depict with photographic
accuracy the nature of French government in Canada. From
this source we can see how the principle of paternalism
was carried out to the last detail.

But Canada was a long way from France and the St Lawrence
was larger than the Seine. It is hard to fight against
nature, and in Canada there were natural obstacles which
withstood to some extent the forces of despotism. It is
easy to see how distance from the court gave both governor
and intendant a range of action which would have been
impossible in France. With the coming of winter Quebec
was isolated for more than six months. During this long
interval the two officials could do a great many things
of which the king might not have approved, but which he
was powerless to prevent. His theoretical supremacy was
thus limited by the unyielding facts of geography. And
a better illustration is found in the operation of the
seigneurial system upon which Canadian society was based.
In France a belated feudalism still held the common man
in its grip, and in Canada the forms of feudalism were
at least partially established. Yet the Canadian habitant
lived in a very different atmosphere from that breathed
by the Norman peasant. The Canadian seigneur had an
abundance of acreage and little cash. His grant was in
the form of uncleared land, which he could only make
valuable through the labours of his tenants or censitaires.
The difficulty of finding good colonists made it important
to give them favourable terms. The habitant had a hard
life, but his obligations towards his seigneur were not
onerous. The man who lived in a log-hut among the stumps
and could hunt at will through the forest was not a serf.
Though the conditions of life kept him close to his home,
Canada meant for him a new freedom.

Freest of all were the coureurs de bois, those dare-devils
of the wilderness who fill such a large place in the
history of the fur trade and of exploration. The Frenchman
in all ages has proved abundantly his love of danger and
adventure. Along the St Lawrence from Tadoussac to the
Sault St Louis seigneuries fringed the great river, as
they fringed the banks of its tributary, the Richelieu.
This was the zone of cultivation, in which log-houses
yielded, after a time, to white-washed cottages. But
above the Sault St Louis all was wilderness, whether one
ascended the St Lawrence or turned at Ile Perrot into
the Lake of Two Mountains and the Ottawa. For young and
daring souls the forest meant the excitement of discovery,
the licence of life among the Indians, and the hope of
making more than could be gained by the habitant from
his farm. Large profits meant large risks, and the coureur
de bois took his life in his hand. Even if he escaped
the rapid and the tomahawk, there was an even chance that
he would become a reprobate.

But if his character were of tough fibre, there was also
a chance that he might render service to his king. At
times of danger the government was glad to call on him
for aid. When Tracy or Denonville or Frontenac led an
expedition against the Iroquois, it was fortunate that
Canada could muster a cohort of men who knew woodcraft
as well as the Indians. In days of peace the coureur de
bois was looked on with less favour. The king liked to
know where his subjects were at every hour of the day
and night. A Frenchman at Michilimackinac, [Footnote:
The most important of the French posts in the western
portion of the Great Lakes, situated on the strait which
unites Lake Huron to Lake Michigan. It was here that
Saint-Lusson and Perrot took possession of the West in
the name of France (June 1671). See The Great Intendant,
pp. 115-16.] unless he were a missionary or a government
agent, incurred severe displeasure, and many were the
edicts which sought to prevent the colonists from taking
to the woods. But, whatever the laws might say, the
coureur de bois could not be put down. From time to time
he was placed under restraint, but only for a moment.
The intendant might threaten and the priest might plead.
It recked not to the coureur de bois when once his knees
felt the bottom of the canoe.

But of the seven thousand French who peopled Canada in
1672 it is probable that not more than four hundred were
scattered through the forest. The greater part of the
inhabitants occupied the seigneuries along the St Lawrence
and the Richelieu. Tadoussac was hardly more than a
trading-post. Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal were
but villages. In the main the life of the people was the
life of the seigneuries--an existence well calculated to
bring out in relief the ancestral heroism of the French
race. The grant of seigneurial rights did not imply that
the recipient had been a noble in France. The earliest
seigneur, Louis Hebert, was a Parisian apothecary, and
many of the Canadian gentry were sprung from the middle
class. There was nothing to induce the dukes, the counts,
or even the barons of France to settle on the soil of
Canada. The governor was a noble, but he lived at the
Chateau St Louis. The seigneur who desired to achieve
success must reside on the land he had received and see
that his tenants cleared it of the virgin forest. He
could afford little luxury, for in almost all cases his
private means were small. But a seigneur who fulfilled
the conditions of his grant could look forward to occupying
a relatively greater position in Canada than he could
have occupied in France, and to making better provision
for his children.

Both the seigneur and his tenant, the habitant, had a
stake in Canada and helped to maintain the colony in the
face of grievous hardships. The courage and tenacity of
the French Canadian are attested by what he endured
throughout the years when he was fighting for his foothold.
And if he suffered, his wife suffered still more. The
mother who brought up a large family in the midst of
stumps, bears, and Iroquois knew what it was to be

Obviously the Canada of 1672 lacked many things--among
them the stern resolve which animated the Puritans of
New England that their sons should have the rudiments of
an education. [Footnote: For example, Harvard College
was founded in 1636, and there was a printing-press at
Cambridge, Mass., in 1638.] At this point the contrast
between New France and New England discloses conflicting
ideals of faith and duty. In later years the problem of
knowledge assumed larger proportions, but during the
period of Frontenac the chief need of Canada was heroism.
Possessing this virtue abundantly, Canadians lost no time
in lamentations over the lack of books or the lack of
wealth. The duty of the hour was such as to exclude all
remoter vistas. When called on to defend his hearth and
to battle for his race, the Canadian was ready.



Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac et de Palluau, was
born in 1620. He was the son of Henri de Buade, a noble
at the court of Louis XIII. His mother, Anne de Phelippeaux,
came from a stock which in the early Bourbon period
furnished France with many officials of high rank, notably
Louis de Phelippeaux, Comte de Pontchartrain. His father
belonged to a family of southern France whose estates
lay originally in Guienne. It was a fortunate incident
in the annals of this family that when Antoine de Bourbon
became governor of Guienne (1555) Geoffroy de Buade
entered his service. Thenceforth the Buades were attached
by close ties to the kings of Navarre. Frontenac's
grandfather, Antoine de Buade, figures frequently in the
Memoirs of Agrippa d'Aubigne as aide-de-camp to Henry
IV; Henri de Buade, Frontenac's father, was a playmate
and close friend of Louis XIII; [Footnote: As an
illustration of their intimacy, there is a story that
one day when Henry IV was indisposed he had these two
boys on his bed, and amused himself by making them fight
with each other.] and Frontenac himself was a godson and
a namesake of the king.

While fortune thus smiled upon the cradle of Louis de
Buade, some important favours were denied. Though nobly
born, Frontenac did not spring from a line which had been
of national importance for centuries, like that of
Montmorency or Chatillon. Nor did he inherit large estates.
The chief advantage which the Buades possessed came from
their personal relations with the royal family. Their
property in Guienne was not great, and neither Geoffroy,
Antoine, nor Henri had possessed commanding abilities.
Nor was Frontenac the boyhood friend of his king as his
father had been, for Louis XIV was not born till 1638.
Frontenac's rank was good enough to give him a chance at
the French court. For the rest, his worldly prosperity
would depend on his own efforts.

Inevitably he became a soldier. He entered the army at
fifteen. It was one of the greatest moments in French
history. Richelieu was prime minister, and the long strife
between France and the House of Hapsburg had just begun
to turn definitely in favour of France. Against the
Hapsburgs, with their two thrones of Spain and Austria,
[Footnote: Charles V held all his Spanish, Burgundian,
and Austrian inheritance in his own hand from 1519 to
1521. In 1521 he granted the Austrian possessions to his
brother Ferdinand. Thenceforth Spain and Austria were
never reunited, but their association in politics continued
to be intimate until the close of the seventeenth century.]
stood the Great Cardinal, ready to use the crisis of the
Thirty Years' War for the benefit of his nation--even
though this meant a league with heretics. At the moment
when Frontenac first drew the sword France (in nominal
support of her German allies) was striving to conquer
Alsace. The victory which brought the French to the Rhine
was won through the capture of Breisach, at the close of
1638. Then in swift succession followed those astounding
victories of Conde and Turenne which destroyed the military
pre-eminence of Spain, took the French to the gates of
Munich, and wrung from the emperor the Peace of Westphalia

During the thirteen years which followed Frontenac's
first glimpse of war it was a glorious thing to be a
French soldier. The events of such an era could not fail
to leave their mark upon a high-spirited and valorous
youth. Frontenac was predestined by family tradition to
a career of arms; but it was his own impetuosity that
drove him into war before the normal age. He first served
under Prince Frederick Henry of Orange, who was then at
the height of his reputation. After several campaigns in
the Low Countries his regiment was transferred to the
confines of Spain and France. There, in the year of
Richelieu's death (1642), he fought at the siege of
Perpignan. That he distinguished himself may be seen from
his promotion, at twenty-three, to the rank of colonel.
In the same year (1643) Louis XIV came to the throne;
and Conde, by smiting the Spaniards at Rocroi, won for
France the fame of having the best troops in Europe.

It was not the good fortune of Frontenac to serve under
either Conde or Turenne during those campaigns, so
triumphant for France, which marked the close of the
Thirty Years' War. From Perpignan he was ordered to
northern Italy, where in the course of three years he
performed the exploits which made him a brigadier-general
at twenty-six. Though repeatedly wounded, he survived
twelve years of constant fighting with no more serious
casualty than a broken arm which he carried away from
the siege of Orbitello. By the time peace was signed at
Munster he had become a soldier well proved in the most
desperate war which had been fought since Europe accepted

To the great action of the Thirty Years' War there soon
succeeded the domestic commotion of the Fronde. Richelieu,
despite his high qualities as a statesman, had been a
poor financier; and Cardinal Mazarin, his successor, was
forced to cope with a discontent which sprang in part
from the misery of the masses and in part from the ambition
of the nobles. As Louis XIV was still an infant when his
father died, the burden of government fell in name upon
the queen-mother, Anne of Austria, but in reality upon
Mazarin. Not even the most disaffected dared to rebel
against the young king in the sense of disputing his
right to reign. But in 1648 the extreme youth of Louis
XIV made it easy for discontented nobles, supported by
the Parlement of Paris, to rebel against an unpopular

The year 1648, which witnessed the Peace of Westphalia
and the outbreak of the Fronde, was rendered memorable
to Frontenac by his marriage. It was a runaway match,
which began an extraordinary alliance between two very
extraordinary people. The bride, Anne de la Grange-Trianon,
was a daughter of the Sieur de Neuville, a gentleman
whose house in Paris was not far from that of Frontenac's
parents. At the time of the elopement she was only sixteen,
while Frontenac had reached the ripe age of twenty-eight.
Both were high-spirited and impetuous. We know also that
Frontenac was hot-tempered. For a short time they lived
together and there was a son. But before the wars of the
Fronde had closed they drifted apart, from motives which
were personal rather than political.

Madame de Frontenac then became a maid of honour to the
Duchesse de Montpensier, daughter of Gaston d'Orleans
[Footnote: Gaston d'Orleans was the younger brother of
Louis XIII, and heir-presumptive until the birth of Louis
XIV in 1638. His vanity and his complicity in plots to
overthrow Richelieu are equally famous.] and first cousin
to Louis XIV. This princess, known as La Grande
Mademoiselle, plunged into the politics of the Fronde
with a vigour which involved her whole household--Madame
de Frontenac included--and wrote Memoirs in which her
adventures are recorded at full length, to the pungent
criticism of her foes and the enthusiastic glorification
of herself. Madame de Frontenac was in attendance upon
La Grande Mademoiselle during the period of her most
spectacular exploits and shared all the excitement which
culminated with the famous entry of Orleans in 1652.

Madame de Frontenac was beautiful, and to beauty she
added the charm of wit. With these endowments she made
her way despite her slender means--and to be well-born
but poor was a severe hardship in the reign of Louis XIV.
Her portrait at Versailles reflects the striking personality
and the intelligence which won for her the title La
Divine. Throughout an active life she never lacked powerful
friends, and Saint-Simon bears witness to the place she
held in the highest and most exclusive circle of court

Frontenac and his wife lived together only during the
short period 1648-52. But intercourse was not wholly
severed by the fact of domestic separation. It is clear
from the Memoirs of the Duchesse de Montpensier that
Frontenac visited his wife at Saint-Fargeau, the country
seat to which the duchess had been exiled for her part
in the wars of the Fronde. Such evidence as there is
seems to show that Madame de Frontenac considered herself
deeply wronged by her husband and was unwilling to accept
his overtures. From Mademoiselle de Montpensier we hear
little after 1657, the year of her quarrel with Madame
de Frontenac. The maid of honour was accused of disloyalty,
tears flowed, the duchess remained obdurate, and, in
short, Madame de Frontenac was dismissed.

The most sprightly stories of the Frontenacs occur in
these Memoirs of La Grande Mademoiselle. Unfortunately
the Duchesse de Montpensier was so self-centred that her
witness is not dispassionate. She disliked Frontenac,
without concealment. As seen by her, he was vain and
boastful, even in matters which concerned his kitchen
and his plate. His delight in new clothes was childish.
He compelled guests to speak admiringly of his horses,
in contradiction of their manifest appearance. Worst of
all, he tried to stir up trouble between the duchess and
her own people.

Though Frontenac and his wife were unable to live together,
they did not become completely estranged. It may be that
the death of their son--who seems to have been killed in
battle--drew them together once more, at least in spirit.
It may be that with the Atlantic between them they
appreciated each other's virtues more justly. It may have
been loyalty to the family tradition. Whatever the cause,
they maintained an active correspondence during Frontenac's
years in Canada, and at court Madame de Frontenac was
her husband's chief defence against numerous enemies.
When he died it was found that he had left her his
property. But she never set foot in Canada.

Frontenac was forty-one when Louis XIV dismissed Fouquet
and took Colbert for his chief adviser. At Versailles
everything depended on royal favour, and forty-one is an
important age. What would the young king do for Frontenac?
What were his gifts and qualifications?

It is plain that Frontenac's career, so vigorously begun
during the Thirty Years' War, had not developed in a like
degree during the period (1648-61) from the outbreak of
the Fronde to the death of Mazarin. There was no doubt
as to his capacity. Saint-Simon calls him 'a man of
excellent parts, living much in society.' And again, when
speaking of Madame de Frontenac, he says: 'Like her
husband she had little property and abundant wit.' The
bane of Frontenac's life at this time was his extravagance.
He lived like a millionaire till his money was gone. Not
far from Blois he had the estate of Isle Savary--a,
property quite suited to his station had he been prudent.
But his plans for developing it, with gardens, fountains,
and ponds, were wholly beyond his resources. At Versailles,
also, he sought to keep pace with men whose ancestral
wealth enabled them to do the things which he longed to
do, but which fortune had placed beyond his reach. Hence,
notwithstanding his buoyancy and talent, Frontenac had
gained a reputation for wastefulness which did not
recommend him, in 1661, to the prudent Colbert. Nor was
he fitted by character or training for administrative
duty. His qualifications were such as are of use at a
post of danger.

His time came in 1669. At the beginning of that year he
was singled out by Turenne for a feat of daring which
placed him before the eyes of all Europe. A contest was
about to close which for twenty-five years had been waged
with a stubbornness rarely equalled. This was the struggle
of the Venetians with the Turks for the possession of
Crete. [Footnote: This was not the first time that
Frontenac had fought against the Turks. Under La Feuillade
and Coligny he had taken part in Montecuculli's campaign
in 1664 against the Turks in Hungary, and was present at
the great victory of St Gothard on the Raab. The regiment
of Carignan-Salieres was also engaged on this occasion.
In the next year it came to Canada, and Lorin thinks that
the association of Frontenac with the Carignan regiment
in this campaign may have been among the causes of his
nomination to the post of governor.] To Venice defeat
meant the end of her glory as an imperial power. The
Republic had lavished treasure upon this war as never
before--a sum equivalent in modern money to fifteen
hundred million dollars. Even when compelled to borrow
at seven per cent, Venice kept up the fight and opened
the ranks of her nobility to all who would pay sixty
thousand ducats. Nor was the valour of the Venetians who
defended Crete less noble than the determination of their
government. Every man who loved the city of St Mark felt
that her fate was at stake before the walls of Candia.

Year by year the resources of the Venetians had grown
less and their plight more desperate. In 1668 they had
received some assistance from French volunteers under
the Duc de la Feuillade. This was followed by an application
to Turenne for a general who would command their own
troops in conjunction with Morosini. It was a forlorn
hope if ever there was one; and Turenne selected Frontenac.
Co-operating with him were six thousand French troops
under the Duc de Navailles, who nominally served the
Pope, for Louis XIV wished to avoid direct war against
the Sultan. All that can be said of Frontenac's part in
the adventure is that he valiantly attempted the impossible.
Crete was doomed long before he saw its shores. The best
that the Venetians and the French could do was to fight
for favourable terms of surrender. These they gained. In
September 1669 the Venetians evacuated the city of Candia,
taking with them their cannon, all their munitions of
war, and all their movable property.

The Cretan expedition not only confirmed but enhanced
the standing which Frontenac had won in his youth. And
within three years from the date of his return he received
the king's command to succeed the governor Courcelles at

Gossip busied itself a good deal over the immediate causes
of Frontenac's appointment to the government of Canada.
The post was hardly a proconsular prize. At first sight
one would not think that a small colony destitute of
social gaiety could have possessed attractions to a man
of Frontenac's rank and training. The salary amounted to
but eight thousand livres a year. The climate was rigorous,
and little glory could come from fighting the Iroquois.
The question arose, did Frontenac desire the appointment
or was he sent into polite exile?

There was a story that he had once been a lover of Madame
de Montespan, who in 1672 found his presence near the
court an inconvenience. Others said that Madame de
Frontenac had eagerly sought for him the appointment on
the other side of the world. A third theory was that,
owing to his financial straits, the government gave him
something to keep body and soul together in a land where
there were no great temptations to spend money.

Motives are often mixed; and behind the nomination there
may have been various reasons. But whatever weight we
allow to gossip, it is not necessary to fall back on any
of these hypotheses to account for Frontenac's appointment
or for his willingness to accept. While there was no
immediate likelihood of a war involving France and England,
[Footnote: By the Treaty of Dover (May 20, 1670) Charles
II received a pension from France and promised to aid
Louis XIV in war with Holland.] and consequent trouble
from the English colonies in America, New France required
protection from the Iroquois. And, as a soldier, Frontenac
had acquitted himself with honour. Nor was the post
thought to be insignificant. Madame de Sevigne's son-in-law,
the Comte de Grignan, was an unsuccessful candidate for
it in competition with Frontenac. For some years both
the king and Colbert had been giving real attention to
the affairs of Canada. The Far West was opening up; and
since 1665 the population of the colony had more than
doubled. To Frontenac the governorship of Canada meant
promotion. It was an office of trust and responsibility,
with the opportunity to extend the king's power throughout
the region beyond the Great Lakes. And if the salary was
small, the governor could enlarge it by private trading.
Whatever his motives, or the motives of those who sent
him, it was a good day for Frontenac when he was sent to
Canada. In France the future held out the prospect of
little but a humiliating scramble for sinecures. In Canada
he could do constructive work for his king and country.

Those who cross the sea change their skies but not their
character. Frontenac bore with him to Quebec the sentiments
and the habits which befitted a French noble of the sword.
[Footnote: Frontenac's enemies never wearied of dwelling
upon his uncontrollable rage. A most interesting discussion
of this subject will be found in Frontenac et Ses Amis
by M. Ernest Myrand (p. 172). For the bellicose qualities
of the French aristocracy see also La Noblesse Francaise
sous Richelieu by the Vicomte G. d'Avenel.] The more we
know about the life of his class in France, the better
we shall understand his actions as governor of Canada.
His irascibility, for example, seems almost mild when
compared with the outbreaks of many who shared with him
the traditions and breeding of a privileged order.
Frontenac had grown to manhood in the age of Richelieu,
a period when fierceness was a special badge of the
aristocracy. Thus duelling became so great a menace to
the public welfare that it was made punishable with death;
despite which it flourished to such an extent that one
nobleman, the Chevalier d'Andrieux, enjoyed the reputation
of having slain seventy-two antagonists.

Where duelling is a habitual and honourable exercise,
men do not take the trouble to restrain primitive passions.
Even in dealings with ladies of their own rank, French
nobles often stepped over the line where rudeness ends
and insult begins. When Malherbe boxed the ears of a
viscountess he did nothing which he was unwilling to talk
about. Ladies not less than lords treated their servants
like dirt, and justified such conduct by the statement
that the base-born deserve no consideration. There was,
indeed, no class--not even the clergy--which was exempt
from assault by wrathful nobles. In the course of an
altercation the Duc d'Epernon, after striking the Archbishop
of Bordeaux in the stomach several times with his fists
and his baton, exclaimed: 'If it were not for the respect
I bear your office, I would stretch you out on the

In such an atmosphere was Frontenac reared. He had the
manners and the instincts of a belligerent. But he also
possessed a soul which could rise above pettiness. And
the foes he loved best to smite were the enemies of the



Frontenac received his commission on April 6, 1672, and
reached Quebec at the beginning of September. The king,
sympathetic towards his needs, had authorized two special
grants of money: six thousand livres for equipment, and
nine thousand to provide a bodyguard of twenty horsemen.
Gratified by these marks of royal favour and conscious
that he had been assigned to an important post, Frontenac
was in hopeful mood when he first saw the banks of the
St Lawrence. His letters show that he found the country
much less barbarous than he had expected; and he threw
himself into his new duties with the courage which is
born of optimism. A natural fortress like Quebec could
not fail to awaken the enthusiasm of a soldier. The
settlement itself was small, but Frontenac reported that
its situation could not be more favourable, even if this
spot were to become the capital of a great empire. It
was, indeed, a scene to kindle the imagination. Sloping
down to the river-bank, the farms of Beauport and Beaupre
filled the foreground. Behind them swept the forest, then
in its full autumnal glory.

Awaiting Frontenac at Quebec were Courcelles, the late
governor, and Talon the intendant. Both were to return
to France by the last ships of that year; but in the
meantime Frontenac was enabled to confer with them on
the state of the colony and to acquaint himself with
their views on many important subjects. Courcelles had
proved a stalwart warrior against the Iroquois, while
Talon possessed an unrivalled knowledge of Canada's wants
and possibilities. Laval, the bishop, was in France, not
to return to the colony till 1675.

The new governor's first acts went to show that with the
king's dignity he associated his own. The governor and
lieutenant-general of a vast oversea dominion could not
degrade his office by living like a shopkeeper. The
Chateau St Louis was far below his idea of what a viceregal
residence ought to be. One of his early resolves was to
enlarge and improve it. Meanwhile, his entertainments
surpassed in splendour anything Canada had yet seen. Pomp
on a large scale was impossible; but the governor made
the best use of his means to display the grace and majesty
of his office.

On the 17th of September Frontenac presided for the first
time at a meeting of the Sovereign Council; [Footnote:
In the minutes of this first meeting of the Sovereign
Council at which Frontenac presided the high-sounding
words 'haut et puissant' stand prefixed to his name and
titles.] and the formal inauguration of his regime was
staged for the 23rd of October. It was to be an impressive
ceremony, a pageant at which all eyes should be turned
upon him, the great noble who embodied the authority of
a puissant monarch. For this ceremony the governor summoned
an assembly that was designed to represent the Three
Estates of Canada.

The Three Estates of clergy, nobles, and commons had
existed in France from time immemorial. But in taking
this step and in expecting the king to approve it Frontenac
displayed his ignorance of French history; for the ancient
meetings of the Three Estates in France had left a memory
not dear to the crown. [Footnote: The power of the
States-General reached its height after the disastrous
battle of Poitiers (1356). For a short period, under the
leadership of Etienne Marcel, it virtually supplanted
the power of the crown.] They had, in truth, given the
kings moments of grave concern; and their representatives
had not been summoned since 1614. Moreover, Louis XIV
was not a ruler to tolerate such rival pretensions as
the States-General had once put forth.

Parkman thinks that, 'like many of his station, Frontenac
was not in full sympathy with the centralizing movement
of his time, which tended to level ancient rights,
privileges and prescriptions under the ponderous roller
of the monarchical administration.' This, it may be
submitted, is only a conjecture. The family history of
the Buades shows that they were 'king's men,' who would
be the last to imperil royal power. The gathering of the
Three Estates at Quebec was meant to be the fitting
background of a ceremony. If Frontenac had any thought
beyond this, it was a desire to unite all classes in an
expression of loyalty to their sovereign.

At Quebec it was not difficult to secure representatives
of clergy and commons. But, as nobles seldom emigrated
to Canada, some talent was needed to discover gentlemen
of sufficient standing to represent the aristocracy. The
situation was met by drawing upon the officers and the
seigneurs. The Estates thus duly convened, Frontenac
addressed them on the glory of the king and the duty of
all classes to serve him with zeal. To the clergy he
hinted that their task was not finished when they had
baptized the Indians. After that came the duty of
converting them into good citizens.

Frontenac's next step was to reorganize the municipal
government of Quebec by permitting the inhabitants to
choose two aldermen and a mayor. Since these officials
could not serve until they had been approved by the
governor, the change does not appear to have been wildly
radical. But change of any kind was distasteful to the
Bourbon monarchy, especially if it seemed to point toward
freedom. So when in due course Frontenac's report of
these activities arrived at Versailles, it was decided
that such innovations must be stopped at once. The king
wished to discourage all memory of the Three Estates,
and Frontenac was told that no part of the Canadian people
should be given a corporate or collective status. The
reprimand, however, did not reach Canada till the summer
of 1673, so that for some months Frontenac was permitted
to view his work with satisfaction.

His next move likewise involved a new departure. Hitherto
the king had discouraged the establishment of forts or
trading-posts at points remote from the zone of settlement.
This policy was based on the belief that the colonists
ought to live close together for mutual defence against
the Iroquois. But Frontenac resolved to build a fort at
the outlet of Lake Ontario. His enemies stated that this
arose out of his desire to make personal profit from the
fur trade; but on public grounds also there were valid
reasons for the fort. A thrust is often the best parry;
and it could well be argued that the French had much to
gain from a stronghold lying within striking distance of
the Iroquois villages.

At any rate, Frontenac decided to act first and make
explanations afterwards. On June 3, 1673, he left Quebec
for Montreal and beyond. He accommodated himself with
cheerfulness to the bark canoe--which he described in
one of his early letters as a rather undignified conveyance
for the king's lieutenant--and, indeed, to all the
hardships which the discharge of his duties entailed.
His plan for the summer comprised a thorough inspection
of the waterway from Quebec to Lake Ontario and official
visits to the settlements lying along the route. Three
Rivers did not detain him long, for he was already familiar
with the place, having visited it in the previous autumn.
On the 15th of the month his canoe came to shore beneath
Mount Royal.

Montreal was the colony's farthest outpost towards the
Iroquois. Though it had been founded as a mission and
nothing else, its situation was such that its inhabitants
could not avoid being drawn into the fur trade. To a
large extent it still retained its religious character,
but beneath the surface could be detected a cleavage of
interest between the missionary zeal of the Sulpicians
and the commercial activity of the local governor, Francois
Perrot. And since this Perrot is soon to find place in
the present narrative as a bitter enemy of Frontenac, a
word concerning him may fitly be written here. He was an
officer of the king's army who had come to Canada with
Talon. The fact that his wife was Talon's niece had put
him in the pathway of promotion. The order of St Sulpice,
holding in fief the whole island of Montreal, had power
to name the local governor. In June 1669 the Sulpicians
had nominated Perrot, and two years later his appointment
had been confirmed by the king. Later, as we shall see,
arose the thorny question of how far the governor of
Canada enjoyed superiority over the governor of Montreal.

The governor of Montreal, attended by his troops and the
leading citizens, stood at the landing-place to offer
full military honours to the governor of Canada. Frontenac's
arrival was then signalized by a civic reception and a
Te Deum. The round of civilities ended, the governor lost
no time in unfolding the real purpose of his visit, which
was less to confer with the priests of St Sulpice than
to recruit forces for his expedition, in order that he
might make a profound impression on the Iroquois. The
proposal to hold a conference with the Iroquois at
Cataraqui (where Kingston now stands) met with some
opposition; but Frontenac's energy and determination were
not to be denied, and by the close of June four hundred
French and Indians were mustered at Lachine in readiness
to launch their canoes and barges upon Lake St Louis.

If Montreal was the outpost of the colony, Lachine was
the outpost of Montreal. Between these two points lay
the great rapid, the Sault St Louis, which from the days
of Jacques Cartier had blocked the ascent of the St
Lawrence to seafaring boats. At Lachine La Salle had
formed his seigneury in 1667, the year after his arrival
in Canada; and it had been the starting-point for the
expedition which resulted in the discovery of the Ohio
in 1671. La Salle, however, was not with Frontenac's
party, for the governor had sent him to the Iroquois
early in May, to tell them that Onontio would meet his
children and to make arrangements for the great assembly
at Cataraqui.

The Five Nations, remembering the chastisement they had
received from Tracy in 1666, [Footnote: See The Great
Intendant, chap. iii.] accepted the invitation, but in
dread and distrust. Their envoys accordingly proceeded
to the mouth of the Cataraqui; and on the 12th of July
the vessels of the French were seen approaching on the
smooth surface of Lake Ontario. Frontenac had omitted
from his equipage nothing which could awe or interest
the savage. He had furnished his troops with the best
possible equipment and had with him all who could be
spared safely from the colony. He had even managed to
drag up the rapids and launch on Lake Ontario two large
barges armed with small cannon and brilliantly painted.
The whole flotilla, including a multitude of canoes
arranged by squadron, was now put in battle array. First
came four squadrons of canoes; then the two barges; next
Frontenac himself, surrounded by his personal attendants
and the regulars; after that the Canadian militia, with
a squadron from Three Rivers on the left flank, and on
the right a great gathering of Hurons and Algonquins.
The rearguard was composed of two more squadrons. Never
before had such a display been seen on the Great Lakes.

Having disclosed his strength to the Iroquois chiefs,
Frontenac proceeded to hold solemn and stately conference
with them. But he did not do this on the day of the great
naval procession. He wished to let this spectacle take
effect before he approached the business which had brought
him there. It was not until next day that the meeting
opened. At seven o'clock the French troops, accoutred at
their best, were all on parade, drawn up in files before
the governor's tent, where the conference was to take
place. Outside the tent itself large canopies of canvas
had been erected to shelter the Iroquois from the sun,
while Frontenac, in his most brilliant military costume,
assumed all the state he could. In treating with Indians
haste was impossible, nor did Frontenac desire that the
speech-making should begin at once. His fort was hardly
more than begun, and he wished the Iroquois to see how
swiftly and how well the French could build defences.

When the proceedings opened there were the usual long
harangues, followed by daily negotiations between the
governor and the chiefs. It was a leading feature of
Frontenac's diplomacy to reward the friendly, and to win
over malcontents by presents or personal attention. Each
day some of the chiefs dined with the governor, who gave
them the food they liked, adapted his style of speech to
their ornate and metaphorical language, played with their
children, and regretted, through the interpreter Le Moyne,
that he was as yet unable to speak their tongue. Never
had such pleasant flattery been applied to the vanity of
an Indian. At the same time Frontenac did not fail to
insist upon his power; indeed, upon his supremacy. As a
matter of fact it had involved a great effort to make
all this display at Cataraqui. In his discourses, however,
he laid stress upon the ease with which he had mounted
the rapids and launched barges upon Lake Ontario. The
sum and substance of all his harangues was this: 'I am
your good, kind father, loving peace and shrinking from
war. But you can see my power and I give you fair warning.
If you choose war, you are guilty of self-destruction;
your fate is in your own hands.'

Apart from his immediate success in building under the
eyes of the Iroquois a fort at the outlet of Lake Ontario,
Frontenac profited greatly by entering the heart of the
Indian world in person. He was able, for a time at least,
to check those tribal wars which had hampered trade and
threatened to involve the colony. He gained much information
at first hand about the pays d'en haut. And throughout
he proved himself to have just the qualities which were
needed in dealing with a North American Indian--firmness,
good-humour, and dramatic talent.

On returning from Lake Ontario to Quebec Frontenac had
good reason to be pleased with his summer's work. It
still remained to convince Colbert that the construction
of the fort at Cataraqui was not an undue expense and
waste of energy. But as the initial outlay had already
been made, he had ground for hope that he would not
receive a positive order to undo what had been accomplished.
At Quebec he received Colbert's disparaging comments upon
the assembly of the Three Estates and the substitution
of aldermen for the syndic who had formerly represented
the inhabitants. These comments, however, were not so
couched as to make the governor feel that he had lost
the minister's confidence. On the whole, the first year
of office had gone very well.

A stormier season was now to follow. The battle-royal
between Frontenac and Perrot, the governor of Montreal,
began in the autumn of 1673 and was waged actively
throughout the greater part of 1674.

Enough has been said of Frontenac's tastes to show that
he was a spendthrift; and there can be no doubt that as
governor of Canada he hoped to supplement his salary by
private trading. Soon after his arrival at Quebec in the
preceding year he had formed an alliance with La Salle.
The decision to erect a fort at Cataraqui was made for
the double reason that while safeguarding the colony
Frontenac and La Salle could both draw profit from the
trade at this point in the interior.

La Salle was not alone in knowing that those who first
met the Indians in the spring secured the best furs at
the best bargains. This information was shared by many,
including Francois Perrot. Just above the island of
Montreal is another island, which lies between Lake St
Louis and the Lake of Two Mountains. Perrot, appreciating
the advantage of a strategic position, had fixed there
his own trading-post, and to this day the island bears
his name. Now, with Frontenac as a sleeping partner of
La Salle there were all the elements of trouble, for
Perrot and Frontenac were rival traders. Both were wrathful
men and each had a selfish interest to fight for, quite
apart from any dispute as to the jurisdiction of Quebec
over Montreal.

Under such circumstances the one thing lacking was a
ground of action. This Frontenac found in the existing
edict against the coureurs de bois-those wild spirits
who roamed the woods in the hope of making great profits
through the fur trade, from which by law they were
excluded, and provoked the special disfavour of the
missionary by the scandals of their lives, which gave
the Indians a low idea of French morality. Thus in the
eyes of both Church and State the coureur de bois was a
mauvais sujet, and the offence of taking to the forest
without a licence became punishable by death or the

Though Frontenac was not the author of this severe measure,
duty required him to enforce it. Perrot was a friend and
defender of the coureurs de bois, whom he used as employees
in the collection of peltries. Under his regime Montreal
formed their headquarters. The edict gave them no concern,
since they knew that between them and trouble stood their
patron and confederate.

Thus Frontenac found an excellent occasion to put Perrot
in the wrong and to hit him through his henchmen. The
only difficulty was that Frontenac did not possess adequate
means to enforce the law. Obviously it was undesirable
that he should invade Perrot's bailiwick in person. He
therefore instructed the judge at Montreal to arrest all
the coureurs de bois who were there. A loyal attempt was
made to execute this command, with the result that Perrot
at once intervened and threatened to imprison the judge
if he repeated his effort.

Frontenac's counterblast was the dispatch of a lieutenant
and three soldiers to arrest a retainer of Perrot named
Carion, who had shown contempt of court by assisting the
accused woodsmen to escape. Perrot then proclaimed that
this constituted an unlawful attack on his rights as
governor of Montreal, to defend which he promptly imprisoned
Bizard, the lieutenant sent by Frontenac, together with
Jacques Le Ber, the leading merchant of the settlement.
Though Perrot released them shortly afterwards, his tone
toward Frontenac remained impudent and the issue was
squarely joined.

But a hundred and eighty miles of wilderness separated
the governor of Canada from the governor of Montreal. In
short, before Perrot could be disciplined he must be
seized, and this was a task which if attempted by frontal
attack might provoke bloodshed in the colony, with heavy
censure from the king. Frontenac therefore entered upon
a correspondence, not only with Perrot, but with one of
the leading Sulpicians in Montreal, the Abbe Fenelon.
This procedure yielded quicker results than could have
been expected. Frontenac's letter which summoned Perrot
to Quebec for an explanation was free from threats and
moderate in tone. It found Perrot somewhat alarmed at
what he had done and ready to settle the matter without
further trouble. At the same time Fenelon, acting on
Frontenac's suggestion, urged Perrot to make peace. The
consequence was that in January 1674 Perrot acceded and
set out for Quebec with Fenelon as his companion.

Whatever Perrot's hopes or expectations of leniency, they
were quickly dispelled. The very first conference between
him and Frontenac became a violent altercation (January
29, 1674). Perrot was forthwith committed to prison,
where he remained ten months. Not content with this
success, Frontenac proceeded vigorously against the
coureurs de bois, one of whom as an example was hanged
in front of Perrot's prison.

The trouble did not stop here, nor with the imprisonment
of Brucy, who was Perrot's chief agent and the custodian
of the store-house at Ile Perrot. Fenelon, whose temper
was ardent and emotional, felt that he had been made the
innocent victim of a detestable plot to lure Perrot from
Montreal. Having upbraided Frontenac to his face, he
returned to Montreal and preached a sermon against him,
using language which the Sulpicians hastened to repudiate.
But Fenelon, undaunted, continued to espouse Perrot's
cause without concealment and brought down upon himself
a charge of sedition.

In its final stage this cause celebre runs into still
further intricacies, involving the rights of the clergy
when accused by the civil power. The contest begun by
Perrot and taken up by Fenelon ran an active course
throughout the greater part of a year (1674), and finally
the king himself was called in as judge. This involved
the sending of Perrot and Fenelon to France, along with
a voluminous written statement from Frontenac and a great
number of documents. At court Talon took the side of
Perrot, as did the Abbe d'Urfe, whose cousin, the Marquise
d'Allegre, was about to marry Colbert's son. Nevertheless
the king declined to uphold Frontenac's enemies. Perrot
was given three weeks in the Bastille, not so much for
personal chastisement as to show that the governor's
authority must be respected. On the whole, Frontenac
issued from the affair without suffering loss of prestige
in the eyes of the colony. The king declined to reprimand
him, though in a personal letter from his sovereign
Frontenac was told that henceforth he must avoid invading
a local government without giving the governor preliminary
notice. The hint was also conveyed that he should not
harry the clergy. Frontenac's position, of course, was
that he only interfered with the clergy when they were
encroaching upon the rights of the crown.

Upon this basis, then, the quarrel with Perrot was settled.
But at that very moment a larger and more serious contest
was about to begin.



At the beginning of September 1675 Frontenac was confronted
with an event which could have given him little pleasure.
This was the arrival, by the same ship, of the bishop
Laval, who had been absent from Canada four years, and
Jacques Duchesneau, who after a long interval had been
appointed to succeed Talon as intendant. Laval returned
in triumph. He was now bishop of Quebec, directly dependent
upon the Holy See [Footnote: Laval had wished strongly
that the see of Quebec should be directly dependent on
the Papacy, and his insistence on this point delayed the
formal creation of the diocese.] and not upon the king
of France. Duchesneau came to Canada with the reputation
of having proved a capable official at Tours.

By temper and training Frontenac was ill-disposed to
share authority with any one. In the absence of bishop
and intendant he had filled the centre of the stage. Now
he must become reconciled to the presence at Quebec of
others who held high rank and had claims to be considered
in the conduct of public affairs. Even at the moment of
formal welcome he must have felt that trouble was in
store. For sixteen years Laval had been a great person
in Canada, and Duchesneau had come to occupy the post
which Talon had made almost more important than that of

Partly through a clash of dignities and partly through
a clash of ideas, there soon arose at Quebec a conflict
which rendered personal friendship among the leaders
impossible, and caused itself to be felt in every part
of the administration. Since this antagonism lasted for
seven years and had large consequences, it becomes
important to examine its deeper causes as well as the
forms which under varying circumstances it came to assume.

In the triangular relations of Frontenac, Laval, and
Duchesneau the bishop and the intendant were ranged
against the governor. The simplest form of stating the
case is to say that Frontenac clashed with Laval over
one set of interests and with Duchesneau over another;
over ecclesiastical issues with the bishop and over civil
interests with the intendant. In the Sovereign Council
these three dignitaries sat together, and so close was
the connection of Church with State that not a month
could pass without bringing to light some fresh matter
which concerned them all. Broadly speaking, the differences
between Frontenac and Laval were of more lasting moment
than those between Frontenac and Duchesneau. In the end
governor and intendant quarrelled over everything simply
because they had come to be irreconcilable enemies. At
the outset, however, their theoretical grounds of opposition
were much less grave than the matters in debate between
Frontenac and Laval. To appreciate these duly we must
consider certain things which were none the less important
because they lay in the background.

When Frontenac came to Canada he found that the
ecclesiastical field was largely occupied by the Jesuits,
the Sulpicians, and the Recollets. Laval had, indeed,
begun his task of organizing a diocese at Quebec and
preparing to educate a local priesthood. Four years after
his arrival in Canada he had founded the Quebec Seminary
(1663) and had added (1668) a preparatory school, called
the Little Seminary. But the three missionary orders were
still the mainstay of the Canadian Church. It is evident
that Colbert not only considered the Jesuits the most
powerful, but also thought them powerful enough to need
a check. Hence, when Frontenac received his commission,
he received also written instructions to balance the
Jesuit power by supporting the Sulpicians and the Recollets.

Through his dispute with Perrot, Frontenac had strained
the good relations which Colbert wished him to maintain
with the Sulpicians. But the friction thus caused was in
no way due to Frontenac's dislike of the Sulpicians as
an order. Towards the Jesuits, on the other hand, he
cherished a distinct antagonism which led him to carry
out with vigour the command that he should keep their
power within bounds. This can be seen from the earliest
dispatches which he sent to France. Before he had been
in Quebec three months he reported to Colbert that it
was the practice of the Jesuits to stir up strife in
families, to resort to espionage, to abuse the confessional,
to make the Seminary priests their puppets, and to deny
the king's right to license the brandy trade. What seemed
to the Jesuits an unforgivable affront was Frontenac's
charge that they cared more for beaver skins than for
the conversion of the savages. This they interpreted as
an insult to the memory of their martyrs, and their
resentment must have been the greater because the accusation
was not made publicly in Canada, but formed part of a
letter to Colbert in France. The information that such
an attack had been made reached them through Laval, who
was then in France and found means to acquaint himself
with the nature of Frontenac's correspondence.

Having displeased the Sulpicians and attacked the Jesuits,
Frontenac made amends to the Church by cultivating the
most friendly relations with the Recollets. No one ever
accused him of being a bad Catholic. He was exact in the
performance of his religious duties, and such trouble as
he had with the ecclesiastical authorities proceeded from
political aims rather than from heresy or irreligion.

Like so much else in the life of Canada, the strife
between Frontenac and Laval may be traced back to France.
During the early years of Louis XIV the French Church
was distracted by the disputes of Gallican and Ultramontane.
The Gallicans were faithful Catholics who nevertheless
held that the king and the national clergy had rights
which the Pope must respect. The Ultramontanes defined
papal power more widely and sought to minimize, disregard,
or deny the privileges of the national Church.

Between these parties no point of doctrine was involved,
[Footnote: The well-known relation of the Jansenist
movement to Gallican liberties was not such that the
Gallican party accepted Jansenist theology. The Jesuits
upheld papal infallibility and, in general, the Ultramontane
position. The Jansenists were opposed to the Jesuits,
but Gallicanism was one thing and Jansenist theology
another.] but in the sphere of government there exists
a frontier between Church and State along which many wars
of argument can be waged--at times with some display of
force. The Mass, Purgatory, the Saints, Confession, and
the celibacy of the priest, all meant as much to the
Gallican as to the Ultramontane. Nor did the Pope's
headship prove a stumbling-block in so far as it was
limited to things spiritual. The Gallican did, indeed,
assert the subjection of the Pope to a General Council,
quoting in his support the decrees of Constance and Basel.
But in the seventeenth century this was a theoretical
contention. What Louis XIV and Bossuet strove for was
the limitation of papal power in matters affecting property
and political rights. The real questions upon which
Gallican and Ultramontane differed were the appointment
of bishops and abbots, the contribution of the Church to
the needs of the State, and the priest's standing as a
subject of the king.

Frontenac was no theorist, and probably would have written
a poor treatise on the relations of Church and State. At
the same time, he knew that the king claimed certain
rights over the Church, and he was the king's lieutenant.
Herein lies the deeper cause of his troubles with the
Jesuits and Laval. The Jesuits had been in the colony
for fifty years and felt that they knew the spiritual
requirements of both French and Indians. Their missions
had been illuminated by the supreme heroism of Brebeuf,
Jogues, Lalemant, and many more. Their house at Quebec
stood half-way between Versailles and the wilderness.
They were in close alliance with Laval and supported the
ideal and divine rights of the Church. They had found
strong friends in Champlain and Montmagny. Frontenac,
however, was a layman of another type. However orthodox
his religious ideas may have been, his heart was not
lowly and his temper was not devout. Intensely autocratic
by disposition, he found it easy to identify his own will
to power with a defence of royal prerogative against the
encroachments of the Church. It was an attitude that
could not fail to beget trouble, for the Ultramontanes
had weapons of defence which they well knew how to use.

Having in view these ulterior motives, the acrimony of
Frontenac's quarrel with Laval is not surprising. Rightly
or wrongly, the governor held that the bishop was
subservient to the Jesuits, while Colbert's plain
instructions required the governor to keep the Jesuits
in check. From such a starting point the further
developments were almost automatic. Laval found on his
return that Frontenac had exacted from the clergy unusual
and excessive honours during church services. This
furnished a subject of heated debate and an appeal by
both parties to the king. After full consideration
Frontenac received orders to rest content with the same
honours which were by custom accorded the governor of
Picardy in the cathedral of Amiens.

More important by far than this argument over precedence
was the dispute concerning the organization of parishes.
Here the issue hinged on questions of fact rather than
of theory. Beyond question the habitants were entitled
to have priests living permanently in their midst, as
soon as conditions should warrant it. But had the time
come when a parish system could be created? Laval's
opinion may be inferred from the fact that in 1675,
sixteen years after his arrival in Canada, only one priest
lived throughout the year among his own people. This was
the Abbe de Bernieres, cure of Notre Dame at Quebec. In
1678 two more parishes received permanent incumbents--Port
Royal and La Durantaye. Even so, it was a small number
for the whole colony.

Frontenac maintained that Laval was unwilling to create
a normal system of parishes because thereby his personal
power would be reduced. As long as the cures were not
permanently stationed they remained in complete dependence
on the bishop. All the funds provided for the secular
clergy passed through his hands. If he wished to keep
for the Seminary money which ought to go to the parishes,
the habitants were helpless. It was ridiculous to pamper
the Seminary at the expense of the colonists. It was
worse than ridiculous that the French themselves should
go without religious care because the Jesuits chose to
give prior attention to the souls of the savage.

Laval's argument in reply was that the time had not yet
come for the creation of parishes on a large scale.
Doubtless it would prove possible in the future to have
churches and a parochial system of the normal type.
Meanwhile, in view of the general poverty it was desirable
that all the resources of the Church should be conserved.
To this end the habitants were being cared for by itinerant
priests at much less expense than would be entailed by
fixing on each parish the support of its cure.

Here, as in all these contests, a mixture of motives is
evident. There is no reason to doubt Frontenac's sincerity
in stating that the missions and the Seminary absorbed
funds of the Church which would be better employed in
ministration to the settlers. At the same time, it was
for him a not unpleasant exercise to support a policy
which would have the incidental effect of narrowing the
bishop's power. After some three years of controversy
the king, as usual, stepped in to settle the matter. By
an edict of May 1679 he ordained that the priests should
live in their parishes and have the free disposition of
the tithes which had been established under an order of
1667. Thus on the subject of the cures Frontenac's views
were officially accepted; but his victory was rendered
more nominal than real by the unwillingness or inability
of the habitants to supply sufficient funds for the
support of a resident priesthood.

In Frontenac's dispute with the clergy over the brandy
question no new arguments were brought forward, since
all the main points had been covered already. It was an
old quarrel, and there was nothing further to do than to
set forth again the opposing aspects of a very difficult
subject. Religion clashed with business, but that was
not all. Upon the prosecution of business hung the hope
of building up for France a vast empire. The Jesuits
urged that the Indians were killing themselves with
brandy, which destroyed their souls and reduced them to
the level of beasts. The traders retorted that the savages
would not go without drink. If they were denied it by
the French they would take their furs to Albany, and
there imbibe not only bad rum but soul destroying heresy.
Why be visionary and suffer one's rivals to secure an
advantage which would open up to them the heart of the

Laval, on the other hand, had chosen his side in this
controversy long before Frontenac came to Canada, and he
was not one to change his convictions lightly. As he saw
it, the sale of brandy to the Indians was a sin, punishable
by excommunication; and so determined was he that the
penalty should be enforced that he would allow the right
of absolution to no one but himself. In the end the king
decided it otherwise. He declared the regulation of the
brandy trade to fall within the domain of the civil power.
He warned Frontenac to avoid an open denial of the bishop's
authority in this matter, but directed him to prevent
the Church from interfering in a case belonging to the
sphere of public order. This decision was not reached
without deep thought. In favour of prohibition stood
Laval, the Jesuits, the Sorbonne, the Archbishop of Paris,
and the king's confessor, Pere La Chaise. Against it were
Frontenac, the chief laymen of Canada, [Footnote: On
October 26, 1678, a meeting of the leading inhabitants
of Canada was held by royal order at Quebec to consider
the rights and wrongs of the brandy question. A large
majority of those present were opposed to prohibition.]
the University of Toulouse, and Colbert. In extricating
himself from this labyrinth of conflicting opinion Louis
XIV was guided by reasons of general policy. He had never
seen the Mohawks raving drunk, and, like Frontenac, he
felt that without brandy the work of France in the
wilderness could not go on.

Such were the issues over which Frontenac and Laval faced
each other in mutual antagonism.

Between Frontenac and his other opponent, the intendant
Duchesneau, the strife revolved about a different set of
questions without losing any of its bitterness. Frontenac
and Laval disputed over ecclesiastical affairs. Frontenac
and Duchesneau disputed over civil affairs. But as Laval
and Duchesneau were both at war with Frontenac they
naturally drew together. The alliance was rendered more
easy by Duchesneau's devoutness. Even had he wished to
hold aloof from the quarrel of governor and bishop, it
would have been difficult to do so. But as an active
friend of Laval and the Jesuits he had no desire to be
a neutral spectator of the feud which ran parallel with
his own. The two feuds soon became intermingled, and
Frontenac, instead of confronting separate adversaries,
found himself engaged with allied forces which were ready
to attack or defend at every point. It could not have
been otherwise. Quebec was a small place, and the three
belligerents were brought into the closest official
contact by their duties as members of the Sovereign

It is worthy of remark that each of the contestants,
Frontenac, Laval, and Duchesneau, has his partisans among
the historians of the present day. All modern writers
agree that Canada suffered grievously from these disputes,
but a difference of opinion at once arises when an attempt
is made to distribute the blame. The fact is that characters
separately strong and useful often make an unfortunate
combination. Compared with Laval and Frontenac, Duchesneau
was not a strong character, but he possessed qualifications
which might have enabled him in less stormy times to fill
the office of intendant with tolerable credit. It was
his misfortune that circumstances forced him into the
thankless position of being a henchman to the bishop and
a drag upon the governor.

Everything which Duchesneau did gave Frontenac annoyance--
the more so as the intendant came armed with very
considerable powers. During the first three years of
Frontenac's administration the governor, in the absence
of an intendant, had lorded it over the colony with a
larger freedom from restraint than was normal under the
French colonial system. Apparently Colbert was not
satisfied with the result. It may be that he feared the
vigour which Frontenac displayed in taking the initiative;
or the quarrel with Perrot may have created a bad impression
at Versailles; or it may have been considered that the
less Frontenac had to do with the routine of business,
the more the colony would thrive. Possibly Colbert only
sought to define anew the relations which ought to exist
between governor and intendant. Whatever the motive,
Duchesneau's instructions gave him a degree of authority
which proved galling to the governor.

Within three weeks from the date of Duchesneau's arrival
the fight had begun (September 23, 1675). In its earliest
phase it concerned the right to preside at meetings of
the Sovereign Council. For three years Frontenac, 'high
and puissant seigneur,' had conducted proceedings as a
matter of course. Duchesneau now asked him to retire from
this position, producing as warrant his commission which
stated that he should preside over the Council, 'in the
absence of the said Sieur de Frontenac.' Why this last
clause should have been inserted one finds it hard to
understand, for Colbert's subsequent letters place his
intention beyond doubt. He meant that Duchesneau should
preside, though without detracting from Frontenac's
superior dignity. The order of precedence at the Council
is fixed with perfect clearness. First comes the governor,
then the bishop, and then the intendant. Yet the intendant
is given the chair. Colbert may have thought that Duchesneau
as a man of business possessed a better training for this
special work. Clearly the step was not taken with a view
to placing an affront upon Frontenac. When he complained,
Colbert replied that there was no other man in France
who, being already a governor and lieutenant-general,
would consider it an increase of honour to preside over
the Council. In Colbert's eyes this was a clerk's work,
not a soldier's.

Frontenac saw the matter differently and was unwilling
to be deposed. Royal letters, which he produced, had
styled him 'President of the Council,' and on the face
of it Duchesneau's commission only indicated that he
should preside in Frontenac's absence. With these arguments
the governor stood his ground. Then followed the
representations of both parties to the king, each taxing
the other with misdemeanours both political and personal.
During the long period which must elapse before a reply
could be received, the Sovereign Council was turned into
an academy of invective. Besides governor, bishop, and
intendant, there were seven members who were called upon
to take sides in the contest. No one could remain neutral
even if he had the desire. In voting power Laval and
Duchesneau had rather the best of it, but Frontenac when
pressed could fall back on physical force; as he once
did by banishing three of the councillors--Villeray,
Tilly, and Auteuil--from Quebec (July 4, 1679).

Incredible as it may seem, this issue regarding the right
to preside was not settled until the work of the Council
had been disturbed by it for five years. What is still
more incredible, it was settled by compromise. The king's
final ruling was that the minutes of each meeting should
register the presence of governor and intendant without
saying which had presided. Throughout the controversy
Colbert remonstrated with both Frontenac and Duchesneau
for their turbulence and unwillingness to work together.
Duchesneau is told that he must not presume to think
himself the equal of the governor. Frontenac is told that
the intendant has very important functions and must not
be prevented from discharging them. The whole episode
shows how completely the French colonial system broke
down in its attempt to act through two officials, each
of whom was designed to be a check upon the other.

Wholly alienated by this dispute, Frontenac and Duchesneau
soon found that they could quarrel over anything and
everything. Thus Duchesneau became a consistent supporter
of Laval and the Jesuits, while Frontenac retaliated by
calling him their tool. The brandy question, which was
partly ecclesiastical and partly civil, proved an excellent
battle-ground for the three great men of Canada; and, as
finance was concerned, the intendant had something to
say about the establishment of parishes. But of the
manifold contests between Frontenac and Duchesneau the
most distinctive is that relating to the fur trade. At
first sight this matter would appear to lie in the province
of the intendant, whose functions embraced the supervision
of commerce. But it was the governor's duty to defend
the colony from attack, and the fur trade was a large
factor in all relations with the Indians. A personal
element was also added, for in almost every letter to
the minister Frontenac and Duchesneau accused each other
of taking an illicit profit from beaver skins.

In support of these accusations the most minute details
are given. Duchesneau even charged Frontenac with spreading
a report among the Indians of the Great Lakes that a
pestilence had broken out in Montreal. Thereby the
governor's agents were enabled to buy up beaver skins
cheaply, afterwards selling them on his account to the
English. Frontenac rejoined by accusing the intendant of
having his own warehouses at Montreal and along the lower
St Lawrence, of being truculent, a slave to the bishop,
and incompetent. Behind Duchesneau, Frontenac keeps
saying, are the Jesuits and the bishop, from whom the
spirit of faction really springs. Among many of these
tirades the most elaborate is the long memorial sent to
Colbert in 1677 on the general state of Canada. Here are
some of the items. The Jesuits keep spies in Frontenac's
own house. The bishop declares that he has the power to
excommunicate the governor if necessary. The Jesuit
missionaries tell the Iroquois that they are equal to
Onontio. Other charges are that the Jesuits meddle in
all civil affairs, that their revenues are enormous in
proportion to the poverty of the country, and that they
are bound to domineer at whatever cost.

When we consider how Canada from end to end was affected
by these disputes, we may well feel surprise that Colbert
and the king should have suffered them to rage so long.
By 1682 the state of things had become unbearable.
Partisans of Frontenac and Duchesneau attacked each other
in the streets. Duchesneau accused Frontenac of having
struck the young Duchesneau, aged sixteen, and torn the
sleeve of his jacket. He also declared that it was
necessary to barricade his house. Frontenac retorted by
saying that these were gross libels. A year earlier
Colbert had placed his son, Seignelay, in charge of the
Colonial Office. With matters at such a pass Seignelay
rightly thought the time had come to take decisive action.
Three courses were open to him. The bishop and the Jesuits
he could not recall. But both the governor and the
intendant came within his power. One alternative was to
dismiss Frontenac; another, to dismiss Duchesneau.
Seignelay chose the third course and dismissed them both.



As was said long ago, every one has the defects ef his
qualities. Yet, in justice to a man of strong character
and patriotic aim, the chronicler should take care that
constructive work is given its due place, for only those
who do nothing make no mistakes.

During his first term of office Frontenac had many enemies
in the higher circles of society. His quarrel with Laval
was a cause of scandal to the devout. His deadlock with
Duchesneau dislocated the routine of government. There
was no one who did not feel the force of his will. Yet
to friends and foes alike his recall at sixty-two must
have seemed the definite, humiliating close of a career.
It was not the moment to view in due perspective what he
had accomplished. His shortcomings were on the lips of
every one. His strength had been revealed, but was for
the time forgotten. When he left Quebec in 1682 he must
have thought that he would never see it again. Yet when
need came he was remembered. This fact is a useful comment
on his first term, extenuating much that had seemed ground
for censure in less troubled days.

Let us now regard Frontenac's policy from his own point
of view, and attempt to estimate what he had accomplished
down to the date of his recall.

However closely Laval and Duchesneau might seek to narrow
Frontenac's sphere of action, there was one power they
could not deny him. As commander of the king's troops in
Canada he controlled all matters relating to colonial
defence. If his domestic administration was full of
trouble, it must also be remembered that during his first
term of office there was no war. This happy result was
due less to accident than to his own gifts and character.
It is true that the friendship of Louis XIV and Charles
II assured peace between New France and New England. But
Canada could thank Frontenac for keeping the Iroquois at
arm's length.

We have seen how he built the stronghold at Cataraqui,
which was named Fort Frontenac. The vigour and the tact
that he displayed on this occasion give the keynote to
all his relations with the Indians. Towards them he
displayed the three qualities which a governor of Canada
most needed--firmness, sympathy, and fair dealing. His
arrogance, so conspicuous in his intercourse with equals
or with refractory subordinates, disappears wholly when
he comes into contact with the savages. Theatrical he
may be, but in the forest he is never intolerant or
narrow-minded. And behind his pageants there is always

Thus Frontenac should receive personal credit for the
great success of his Indian policy. He kept the peace by
moral ascendancy, and to see that this was no light task
one need only compare the events of his regime with those
which marked the period of his successors, La Barre and
Denonville. This we shall do in the next chapter. For
the present it is enough to say that throughout the full
ten years 1672-82 Canada was free from fear of the
Iroquois. Just at the close of Frontenac's first term
(1680-82) the Senecas were showing signs of restlessness
by attacking tribes allied to the French, but there is
abundant reason to suppose that had Frontenac remained
in office he could have kept these inter-tribal wars
under control.

Bound up with the success of Frontenac's Indian policy
is the exploration of the West--an achievement which adds
to this period its chief lustre. Here La Salle is the
outstanding figure and the laurels are chiefly his. None
the less, Frontenac deserves the credit of having encouraged
all endeavours to solve the problem of the Mississippi.
Like La Salle he had large ideas and was not afraid. They
co-operated in perfect harmony, sharing profits, perhaps,
but sincerely bent on gaining for France a new, vast
realm. The whole history of colonial enterprise shows
how fortunate the French have been in the co-operation
of their explorers with their provincial governors. The
relations of La Salle with La Barre form a striking
exception, but the statement holds true in the main, and
with reference to Algiers as well as to Canada.

La Salle was a frank partisan of Frontenac throughout
the quarrel with Perrot and Fenelon. On one occasion he
made a scene in church at Montreal. It was during the
Easter service of 1674. When Fenelon decried magistrates
who show no respect to the clergy and who use their
deputed power for their own advantage, La Salle stood up
and called the attention of the leading citizens to these
words. Frontenac, who was always a loyal ally, showed
that he appreciated La Salle's efforts on his behalf by
giving him a letter of recommendation to the court in
which La Salle is styled 'a man of intelligence and
ability, more capable than any one else I know here to
accomplish every kind of enterprise and discovery which
may be entrusted to him.'

The result of La Salle's visit to Versailles (1674) was
that he gained privileges which made him one of the most
important men in Canada, and a degree of power which
brought down on him many enemies. He received the seigneury
of Fort Frontenac, he was made local governor at that
post, and, in recognition of services already performed,
he gained a grant of nobility. It is clear that La Salle's
forceful personality made a strong impression at court,
and the favours which he received enabled him, in turn,
to secure financial aid from his wealthy relatives at

What followed was the most brilliant, the most exciting,
and the most tragic chapter in the French exploration of
America. La Salle fulfilled all the conditions upon which
he had received the seigneury at Fort Frontenac, and
found financial profit in maintaining the post. The
original wooden structure was replaced by stone, good
barracks were built for the troops, there were bastions
upon which nine cannon announced a warning to the Iroquois,
a settlement with well-tilled land sprang up around the
fort, schooners were built with a draught of forty tons.
But for La Salle this was not enough. He was a pathfinder,
not a trader. Returning to France after two years of
labour and success at Fort Frontenac, he secured a royal
patent authorizing him to explore the whole continent
from the Great Lakes to Mexico, with the right to build
forts therein and to enjoy a monopoly of the trade in
buffalo skins. The expenses of the undertaking were, of
course, to be borne by La Salle and his associates, for
the king never invested money in these enterprises.
However, the persuasiveness which enabled La Salle to
secure his patent enabled him to borrow the necessary
funds. At the close of 1678 he was once more at Fort
Frontenac and ready for the great adventure.

How La Salle explored the country of the Illinois in
company with his valiant friend, Henri de Tonty 'of the
iron hand,' and how these two heroic leaders traversed
the continent to the very mouth of the Mississippi, is
not to be told here. But with its risks, its hardships,
its tragedies, and its triumphs, this episode, which
belongs to the period of Frontenac's administration, will
always remain a classic in the records of discovery. The
Jesuits, who did not love La Salle, were no less brave
than he, and the lustre of his achievements must not be
made to dim theirs. Yet they had all the force of a mighty
organization at their back, while La Salle, standing
alone, braved ruin, obloquy, and death in order to win
an empire for France. Sometimes he may have thought of
fame, but he possessed that driving power which goes
straight for the object, even if it means sacrifice of
self. His haughtiness, his daring, his self-centred
determination, well fitted him to be the friend and
trusted agent of Frontenac.

Another leading figure of the period in western discovery
was Daniel Greysolon du Lhut. Duchesneau calls him the
leader of the coureurs de bois. There can be no doubt
that he had reached this eminence among the French of
the forest. He was a gentleman by birth and a soldier by
early training. In many ways he resembled La Salle, for
both stood high above the common coureurs de bois in
station, as in talent. Du Lhut has to his credit no single
exploit which equals La Salle's descent of the Mississippi,
but in native sagacity he was the superior. With a
temperament less intense and experiences less tragic, he
will never hold the place which La Salle securely occupies
in the annals of adventure. But few Frenchmen equalled
him in knowledge of the wilderness, and none displayed
greater force of character in dealing with the Indians.

What the mouth of the Mississippi was to La Salle the
country of the Sioux became to Du Lhut--a goal to be
reached at all hazards. Not only did he reach it, but
the story of how he rescued Father Hennepin from the
Sioux (1680) is among the liveliest tales to be found in
the literature of the wilderness. The only regrettable
circumstance is that the story should have been told by
Hennepin instead of by Du Lhut--or rather, that we should
not have also Du Lhut's detailed version instead of the
brief account which he has left. Above all, Du Lhut made
himself the guardian of French interests at Michilimackinac,
the chief French post of the Far West--the rendezvous of
more tribes than came together at any other point. The
finest tale of his courage and good judgment belongs to
the period of La Barre's government--when, in 1684, at
the head of forty-two French, he executed sentence of
death on an Indian convicted of murder. Four hundred
savages, who had assembled in mutinous mood, witnessed
this act of summary justice. But they respected Du Lhut
for the manner in which he had conducted the trial, and
admired the firmness with which he executed a fair

Du Lhut's exploits and character make him the outstanding
figure of the war which Duchesneau waged against the
coureurs de bois. The intendant certainly had the letter
of the law on his side in seeking to clear the woods of
those rovers who at the risk of their own lives and
without expense to the government were gaining for France
an unequalled knowledge of the interior. Not only had
the king decreed that no one should be permitted to enter
the forest without express permission, but an edict of
1676 denied even the governor the right to issue a trading
pass at his unrestrained discretion. Frontenac, who
believed that the colony would draw great profit from
exploration, softened the effect of this measure by
issuing licences to hunt. It was also within his power
to dispatch messengers to the tribes of the Great Lakes.
Duchesneau reported that Frontenac evaded the edict in
order to favour his own partners or agents among the
coureurs de bois, and that when he went to Montreal on
the pretext of negotiating with the Iroquois, his real
purpose was to take up merchandise and bring back furs.
These charges Frontenac denied with his usual vigour,
but without silencing Duchesneau. In 1679 the altercation
on this point was brought to an issue by the arrest, at
the intendant's instance, of La Toupine, a retainer of
Du Lhut. An accusation of disobeying the edict was no
trifle, for the penalty might mean a sentence to the
galleys. After a bitter contest over La Toupine the matter
was settled on a basis not unfavourable to Frontenac. In
1681 a fresh edict declared that all coureurs de bois
who came back to the colony should receive the benefit
of an amnesty. At the same time the governor was empowered
to grant twenty-five trading licences in each year, the
period to be limited to one year.

The splendid services of Du Lhut, covering a period of
thirty years, are the best vindication of Frontenac's
policy towards him and his associates. Had Duchesneau
succeeded in his efforts, Du Lhut would have been severely
punished, and probably excluded from the West for the
remainder of his life. Thanks to Frontenac's support, he
became the mainstay of French interests from Lake Ontario
to the Mississippi. Setting out as an adventurer with a
strong taste f or exploration, he ended as commandant of
the most important posts--Lachine, Cataraqui, and
Michilimackinac. He served the colony nobly in the war
against the Iroquois. He has left reports of his discoveries
which disclose marked literary talent. From the early
years of Frontenac's regime he made himself useful, not
only to Frontenac but to each succeeding governor, until,
crippled by gout and age, he died, still in harness. The
letter in which the governor Vaudreuil announces Du Lhut's
death (1710) to the Colonial Office at Paris is a useful
comment upon the accusations of Duchesneau. 'He was,'
says Vaudreuil, 'a very honest man.' In these words will
be found an indirect commendation of Frontenac, who
discovered Du Lhut, supported him through bitter opposition,
and placed him where his talents and energy could be used
for the good of his country.

It will be remembered that Frontenac received orders from
Colbert (April 7, 1672) to prevent the Jesuits from
becoming too powerful. In carrying out these instructions
he soon found himself embroiled at Quebec, and the same
discord made itself felt throughout the wilderness.

Frontenac favoured the establishment of trading-posts
and government forts along the great waterways, from
Cataraqui to Crevecoeur. [Footnote: Fort Crevecoeur was
La Salle's post in the heart of the Illinois country.]
He sincerely believed that these were the best guarantees
of the king's power on the Great Lakes and in the valley
of the Mississippi. The Jesuits saw in each post a centre
of debauchery and feared that their religious work would
be undone by the scandalous example of the coureurs de
bois. What for Frontenac was a question of political
expediency loomed large to the Jesuits as a vital issue
of morals. It was a delicate question at best, though
probably a peaceable solution could have been arranged,
but for the mutual agreement of Frontenac and the Jesuits
that they must be antagonists. War having once been
declared, Frontenac proved a poor controversialist. He
could have defended his forest policy without alleging
that the Jesuits maintained their missions as a source
of profit, which was a slander upon heroes and upon
martyrs. Moreover, he exposed himself to a flank attack,
for it could be pointed out with much force that he had
private motives in advocating the erection of forts.
Frontenac was intelligent and would have recommended the
establishment of posts whether he expected profit from
them or not, but he weakened his case by attacking the
Jesuits on wrong grounds.

During Frontenac's first term the settled part of Canada
was limited to the shores of the St Lawrence from Lachine
downward, with a cluster of seigneuries along the lower
Richelieu. In this region the governor was hampered by
the rights of the intendant and the influence of the
bishop. Westward of Lachine stretched the wilderness,
against whose dusky denizens the governor must guard the
colony. The problems of the forest embraced both trade
and war; and where trade was concerned the intendant held
sway. But the safety of the flock came first, and as
Frontenac had the power of the sword he could execute
his plans most freely in the region which lay beyond the
fringe of settlement. It was here that he achieved his
greatest success and by his acts won a strong place in
the confidence of the settlers. This was much, and to
this extent his first term of office was not a failure.

As Canada was then so sparsely settled, the growth of
population filled a large place in the shaping of public
policy. With this matter, however, Duchesneau had more
to do than Frontenac, for it was the intendant's duty to
create prosperity. During the decade 1673-83 the population
of Canada increased from 6705 to 10,251. In percentage
the advance shows to better advantage than in totals,
but the king had hardened his heart to the demand for
colonists. Thenceforth the population of Canada was to
be recruited almost altogether from births.

On the whole, the growth of the population during this
period compares favourably with the growth of trade. In
1664 a general monopoly of Canadian trade had been conceded
to the West India Company, on terms which gave every
promise of success. But the trading companies of France
proved a series of melancholy failures, and at this point
Colbert fared no better than Richelieu. When Frontenac
reached Canada the West India Company was hopelessly
bankrupt, and in 1674 the king acquired its rights. This
change produced little or no improvement. Like France,
Canada suffered greatly through the war with Holland,
and not till after the Peace of Nimwegen (1678) did the
commercial horizon begin to clear. Even then it was
impossible to note any real progress in Canadian trade,
except in a slight enlargement of relations with the West
Indies. During his last year at Quebec Duchesneau gives
a very gloomy report on commercial conditions.

For this want of prosperity Frontenac was in no way
responsible, unless his troubles with Laval and Duchesneau
may be thought to have damped the colonizing ardour of

Book of the day: