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UNDER LOUIS XIV.
AUTHOR OF “PIONEERS OF FRANCE IN THE NEW WORLD,” “THE JESUITS IN NORTH AMERICA,” “THE DISCOVERY OF THE GREAT WEST,” AND “THE OLD REGIME IN CANADA.”
The events recounted in this book group themselves in the main about a single figure, that of Count Frontenac, the most remarkable man who ever represented the crown of France in the New World. From strangely unpromising beginnings, he grew with every emergency, and rose equal to every crisis. His whole career was one of conflict, sometimes petty and personal, sometimes of momentous consequence, involving the question of national ascendancy on this continent. Now that this question is put at rest for ever, it is hard to conceive, the anxiety which it wakened in our forefathers. But for one rooted error of French policy, the future of the English-speaking races in America would have been more than endangered.
Under the rule of Frontenac occurred the first serious collision of the rival powers, and the opening of the grand scheme of military occupation by which France strove to envelop and hold in check the industrial populations of the English colonies. It was he who made that scheme possible.
In “The Old Regime in Canada,” I tried to show from what inherent causes this wilderness empire of the Great Monarch fell at last before a foe, superior indeed in numbers, but lacking all the forces that belong to a system of civil and military centralization. The present volume will show how valiantly, and for a time how successfully, New France battled against a fate which her own organic fault made inevitable. Her history is a great and significant drama, enacted among untamed forests, with a distant gleam of courtly splendors and the regal pomp of Versailles.
The authorities on which the book rests are drawn chiefly from the manuscript collections of the French government in the Archives Nationales, the Bibliotheque Nationale, and, above all, the vast repositories of the Archives of the Marine and Colonies. Others are from Canadian and American sources. I have, besides, availed myself of the collection of French, English, and Dutch documents published by the State of New York, under the excellent editorship of Dr. O’Callaghan, and of the manuscript collections made in France by the governments of Canada and of Massachusetts. A considerable number of books, contemporary or nearly so with the events described, also help to throw light upon them; and these have all been examined. The citations in the margins represent but a small part of the authorities consulted.
This mass of material has been studied with extreme care, and peculiar pains have been taken to secure accuracy of statement. In the preface of “The Old Regime,” I wrote: “Some of the results here reached are of a character which I regret, since they cannot be agreeable to persons for whom I have a very cordial regard. The conclusions drawn from the facts may be matter of opinion: but it will be remembered that the facts themselves can be overthrown only by overthrowing the evidence on which they rest, or bringing forward counter-evidence of equal or greater strength; and neither task will be found an easy one.”
The invitation implied in these words has not been accepted. “The Old Regime” was met by vehement protest in some quarters; but, so far as I know, none of the statements of fact contained in it have been attacked by evidence, or even challenged. The lines just quoted are equally applicable to this volume. Should there be occasion, a collection of documentary proofs will be published more than sufficient to make good the positions taken. Meanwhile, it will, I think, be clear to an impartial reader that the story is told, not in the interest of any race or nationality, but simply in that of historical truth.
When, at the age of eighteen, I formed the purpose of writing on French-American history, I meant at first to limit myself to the great contest which brought that history to a close. It was by an afterthought that the plan was extended to cover the whole field, so that the part of the work, or series of works, first conceived, would, following the sequence of events, be the last executed. As soon as the original scheme was formed, I began to prepare for executing it by examining localities, journeying in forests, visiting Indian tribes, and collecting materials. I have continued to collect them ever since, so that the accumulation is now rather formidable; and, if it is to be used at all, it had better be used at once. Therefore, passing over for the present an intervening period of less decisive importance, I propose to take, as the next subject of this series, “Montcalm and the Fall of New France.”
BOSTON, 1 Jan., 1877.
COUNT AND COUNTESS FRONTENAC.
Mademoiselle de Montpensier and Madame de Frontenac.–Orleans.–The Maréchale de Camp.–Count Frontenac.–Conjugal Disputes.–Early Life of Frontenac.–His Courtship and Marriage.–Estrangement.–Scenes at St. Fargeau.–The Lady of Honor dismissed.–Frontenac as a Soldier.– He is made Governor of New France.–Les Divines.
FRONTENAC AT QUEBEC.
Arrival.–Bright Prospects.–The Three Estates of New France.–Speech of the Governor.–His Innovations.–Royal Displeasure.–Signs of Storm.–Frontenac and the Priests.–His Attempts to civilize the Indians.–Opposition.–Complaints and Heart-burnings.
FRONTENAC AND PERROT.
La Salle.–Fort Frontenac.–Perrot.–His Speculations.–His Tyranny.–The Bush-rangers.–Perrot revolts.–Becomes alarmed.– Dilemma of Frontenac.–Mediation of Fénelon.–Perrot in Prison.–Excitement of the Sulpitians.–Indignation of Fénelon.– Passion of Frontenac.–Perrot on Trial.–Strange Scenes.–Appeal to the King.–Answers of Louis XIV. And Colbert.–Fénelon rebuked.
FRONTENAC AND DUCHESNEAU.
Frontenac receives a Colleague.–He opposes the Clergy.–Disputes in the Council.–Royal Intervention.–Frontenac rebuked.–Fresh Outbreaks.–Charges and Countercharges.–The Dispute grows hot.– Duchesneau condemned and Frontenac warned.–The Quarrel continues.–The King loses Patience. More Accusations.–Factions and Feuds.–A Side Quarrel.–The King threatens.–Frontenac denounces the Priests.–The Governor and the Intendant recalled.–Qualities of Frontenac.
LE FEBVRE DE LA BARRE.
His Arrival at Quebec.–The Great Fire.–A Coming Storm.–Iroquois Policy.–The Danger imminent.–Indian Allies of France.–Frontenac and the Iroquois.–Boasts of La Barre.–His Past Life.–His Speculations.–He takes Alarm.–His Dealings with the Iroquois.–His Illegal Trade.–His Colleague denounces him.–Fruits of his Schemes.–His Anger and his Fears.
LA BARRE AND THE IROQUOIS.
Dongan.–New York and its Indian Neighbors.–The Rival Governors.– Dongan and the Iroquois.–Mission to Onondaga.–An Iroquois Politician.–Warnings of Lamberville.–Iroquois Boldness.–La Barre takes the Field.–His Motives.–The March.–Pestilence.–Council at La Famine.–The Iroquois defiant.–Humiliation of La Barre.–The Indian Allies.–Their Rage and Disappointment.–Recall of La Barre.
DENONVILLE AND DONGAN.
Troubles of the New Governor.–His Character.–English Rivalry.– Intrigues of Dongan.–English Claims.–A Diplomatic Duel.–Overt Acts.–Anger of Denonville.–James II. checks Dongan.–Denonville emboldened.–Strife in the North.–Hudson’s Bay.–Attempted Pacification.–Artifice of Denonville.–He prepares for War.
DENONVILLE AND THE SENECAS.
Treachery of Denonville.–Iroquois Generosity.–The Invading Army.–The Western Allies.–Plunder of English Traders.–Arrival of the Allies.–Scene at the French Camp.–March of Denonville.– Ambuscade.–Battle.–Victory.–The Seneca Babylon.–Imperfect Success.
THE IROQCOIS INVASION.
Altercations.–Attitude of Dongan.–Martial Preparation.–Perplexity of Denonville.–Angry Correspondence.–Recall of Dongan.–Sir Edmund Andros.–Humiliation of Denonville.–Distress of Canada.–Appeals for Help.–Iroquois Diplomacy.–A Huron Macchiavel.–The Catastrophe.– Ferocity of the Victors.–War with England.–Recall of Denonville.
RETURN OF FRONTENAC.
Versailles.–Frontenac and the King.–Frontenac sails for Quebec.– Projected Conquest of New York.–Designs of the King.–Failure.– Energy of Frontenac.–Fort Frontenac.–Panic.–Negotiations.–The Iroquois in Council.–Chevalier d’Aux.–Taunts of the Indian Allies.–Boldness of Frontenac.–An Iroquois Defeat.–Cruel Policy.–The Stroke parried.
THE THREE WAR-PARTIES.
Measures of Frontenac.–Expedition against Schenectady.–The March.–The Dutch Village.–The Surprise.–The Massacre.–Prisoners spared.–Retreat.–The English and their Iroquois Friends.–The Abenaki War.–Revolution at Boston.–Capture of Pemaquid.–Capture of Salmon Falls.–Capture of Fort Loyal.–Frontenac and his Prisoner.–The Canadians encouraged.
MASSACHUSETTS ATTACKS QUEBEC.
English Schemes.–Capture of Port Royal.–Acadia reduced.–Conduct of Phips.–His History and Character.–Boston in Arms.–A Puritan Crusade.–The March from Albany.–Frontenac and the Council.– Frontenac at Montreal.–His War Dance.–An Abortive Expedition.–An English Raid.–Frontenac at Quebec.–Defences of the Town.–The Enemy arrives.
DEFENCE OF QUEBEC.
Phips on the St. Lawrence.–Phips at Quebec.–A Flag of Truce.–Scene at the Chateau.–The Summons and the Answer.–Plan of Attack.–Landing of the English.–The Cannonade.–The Ships repulsed.–The Land Attack.–Retreat of Phips.–Condition of Quebec.–Rejoicings of the French.–Distress at Boston.
THE SCOURGE OF CANADA.
Iroquois Inroads.–Death of Bienville.–English Attack.–A Desperate Fight.–Miseries of the Colony.–Alarms.–A Winter Expedition.–La Chesnaye burned.–The Heroine of Verehères.–Mission Indians.–The Mohawk Expedition.–Retreat and Pursuit.–Relief arrives.–Frontenac Triumphant.
Appeal of Frontenac.–His Opponents.–His Services.–Rivalry and Strife.–Bishop Saint-Vallier.–Society at the Chateau.–Private Theatricals.–Alarm of the Clergy.–Tartuffe.–A Singular Bargain.–Mareuil and the Bishop.–Mareuil on Trial.–Zeal of Saint-Vallier.–Scandals at Montreal.–Appeal to the King.–The Strife composed.–Libel against Frontenac.
THE WAR IN ACADIA.
State of that Colony.–The Abenakis.–Acadia and New England.– Pirates.–Baron de Saint-Castin.–Pentegoet.–The English Frontier.–The French and the Abenakis.–Plan of the War.–Capture of York.–Villebon.–Grand War-party.–Attack of Wells.–Pemaquid rebuilt.–John Nelson.–A Broken Treaty.–Villieu and Thury.–Another War-party.–Massacre at Oyster River.
NEW FRANCE AND NEW ENGLAND.
The Frontier of New England.–Border Warfare.–Motives of the French.–Needless Barbarity.–Who were answerable?–Father Thury.– The Abenakis waver.–Treachery at Pemaquid.–Capture of Pemaquid.– Projected Attack on Boston.–Disappointment.–Miseries of the Frontier.–A Captive Amazon.
FRENCH AND ENGLISH RIVALRY.
Le Moyne d’Iberville.–His Exploits in Newfoundland.–In Hudson’s Bay.–The Great Prize.–The Competitors.–Fatal Policy of the King.–The Iroquois Question.–Negotiation.–Firmness of Frontenac.–English Intervention.–War renewed.–State of the West.–Indian Diplomacy.–Cruel Measures.–A Perilous Crisis.– Audacity of Frontenac.
FRONTENAC ATTACKS THE ONONDAGAS.
March of Frontenac.–Flight of the Enemy.–An Iroquois Stoic.–Relief for the Onondagas.–Boasts of Frontenac.–His Complaints.–His Enemies.–Parties in Canada.–Views of Frontenac and the King.–Frontenac prevails.–Peace of Ryswick.–Frontenac and Bellomont.–Schuyler at Quebec.–Festivities.–A Last Defiance.
DEATH OF FEONTENAC.
His Last Hours.–His Will.–His Funeral.–His Eulogist and his Critic.–His Disputes with the Clergy.–His Character.
The New Governor.–Attitude of the Iroquois.–Negotiations.–Embassy to Onondaga.–Peace.–The Iroquois and the Allies.–Difficulties.– Death of the Great Huron.–Funeral Rites.–The Grand Council.–The Work of Frontenac finished.–Results.
[Illustration: Map of Canada and Adjacent Countries towards the Close of the 17th century.]
COUNT AND COUNTESS FRONTENAC.
MADEMOISELLE DE MONTPENSIER AND MADAME DE FRONTENAC.–ORLEANS.–THE MARÉCHALE DE CAMP.–COUNT FRONTENAC.–CONJUGAL DISPUTES.–EARLY LIFE OF FRONTENAC.–HIS COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE.–ESTRANGEMENT.–SCENES AT ST. FARGEAU.–THE LADY OF HONOR DISMISSED.–FRONTENAC AS A SOLDIER.–HE IS MADE GOVERNOR OF NEW FRANCE.–LES DIVINES.
At Versailles there is the portrait of a lady, beautiful and young. She is painted as Minerva, a plumed helmet on her head, and a shield on her arm. In a corner of the canvas is written _Anne de La Grange-Trianon, Comtesse de Frontenac_. This blooming goddess was the wife of the future governor of Canada.
Madame de Frontenac, at the age of about twenty, was a favorite companion of Mademoiselle de Montpensier, the grand-daughter of Henry IV. and daughter of the weak and dastardly Gaston, Duke of Orleans. Nothing in French annals has found more readers than the story of the exploit of this spirited princess at Orleans during the civil war of the Fronde. Her cousin Condé, chief of the revolt, had found favor in her eyes; and she had espoused his cause against her cousin, the king. The royal army threatened Orleans. The duke, her father, dared not leave Paris; but he consented that his daughter should go in his place to hold the city for Condé and the Fronde.
The princess entered her carriage and set out on her errand, attended by a small escort. With her were three young married ladies, the Marquise de Bréauté, the Comtesse de Fiesque, and the Comtesse de Frontenac. In two days they reached Orleans. The civic authorities were afraid to declare against the king, and hesitated to open the gates to the daughter of their duke, who, standing in the moat with her three companions, tried persuasion and threats in vain. The prospect was not encouraging, when a crowd of boatmen came up from the river and offered the princess their services. “I accepted them gladly,” she writes, “and said a thousand fine things, such as one must say to that sort of people to make them do what one wishes.” She gave them money as well as fair words, and begged them to burst open one of the gates. They fell at once to the work; while the guards and officials looked down from the walls, neither aiding nor resisting them. “To animate the boatmen by my presence,” she continues, “I mounted a hillock near by. I did not look to see which way I went, but clambered up like a cat, clutching brambles and thorns, and jumping over hedges without hurting myself. Madame de Bréauté, who is the most cowardly creature in the world, began to cry out against me and everybody who followed me; in fact, I do not know if she did not swear in her excitement, which amused me very much.” At length, a hole was knocked in the gate; and a gentleman of her train, who had directed the attack, beckoned her to come on. “As it was very muddy, a man took me and carried me forward, and thrust me in at this hole, where my head was no sooner through than the drums beat to salute me. I gave my hand to the captain of the guard. The shouts redoubled. Two men took me and put me in a wooden chair. I do not know whether I was seated in it or on their arms, for I was beside myself with joy. Everybody was kissing my hands, and I almost died with laughing to see myself in such an odd position.” There was no resisting the enthusiasm of the people and the soldiers. Orleans was won for the Fronde. [Footnote: _Memoires de Mademoiselle de Montpensier_, I. 358-363 (ed. 1859).]
The young Countesses of Frontenac and Fiesque had constantly followed her, and climbed after her through the hole in the gate. Her father wrote to compliment them on their prowess, and addressed his letter _à Mesdames les Comtesses, Maréchales de Camp dans l’armee de ma fille contre le Mazarin_. Officers and soldiers took part in the pleasantry; and, as Madame de Frontenac passed on horseback before the troops, they saluted her with the honors paid to a brigadier.
When the king, or Cardinal Mazarin who controlled him, had triumphed over the revolting princes, Mademoiselle de Montpensier paid the penalty of her exploit by a temporary banishment from the court. She roamed from place to place, with a little court of her own, of which Madame de Frontenac was a conspicuous member. During the war, Count Frontenac had been dangerously ill of a fever in Paris; and his wife had been absent for a time, attending him. She soon rejoined the princess, who was at her chateau of St. Fargeau, three days’ journey from Paris, when an incident occurred which placed the married life of her fair companion in an unexpected light. “The Duchesse de Sully came to see me, and brought with her M. d’Herbault and M. de Frontenac. Frontenac had stopped here once before, but it was only for a week, when he still had the fever, and took great care of himself like a man who had been at the door of death. This time he was in high health. His arrival had not been expected, and his wife was so much surprised that everybody observed it, especially as the surprise seemed to be not at all a pleasant one. Instead of going to talk with her husband, she went off and hid herself, crying and screaming because he had said that he would like to have her company that evening. I was very much astonished, especially as I had never before perceived her aversion to him. The elder Comtesse de Fiesque remonstrated with her; but she only cried the more. Madame de Fiesque then brought books to show her her duty as a wife; but it did no good, and at last she got into such a state that we sent for the curé with holy water to exorcise her.” [Footnote: _Memoires de Mademoiselle de Montpensier_, II. 265. The curé’s holy water, or his exhortations, were at last successful.]
Count Frontenac came of an ancient and noble race, said to have been of Basque origin. His father held a high post in the household of Louis XIII., who became the child’s god-father, and gave him his own name. At the age of fifteen, the young Louis showed an incontrollable passion for the life of a soldier. He was sent to the seat of war in Holland, to serve under the Prince of Orange. At the age of nineteen, he was a volunteer at the siege of Hesdin; in the next year, he was at Arras, where he distinguished himself during a sortie of the garrison; in the next, he took part in the siege of Aire; and, in the next, in those of Callioure and Perpignan. At the age of twenty-three, he was made colonel of the regiment of Normandy, which he commanded in repeated battles and sieges of the Italian campaign. He was several times wounded, and in 1646 he had an arm broken at the siege of Orbitello. In the same year, when twenty-six years old, he was raised to the rank of _marechal de camp_., equivalent to that of brigadier-general. A year or two later, we find him at Paris, at the house of his father, on the Quai des Celestins. [Footnote: Pinard, _Chronologie Historique-militaire_, VI; _Table de la Gazette de France_; Jul, _Dictionnaire Critique, Biographique, et d’Histoire_, art. “Frontenac;” Goyer, _Oraison Funebre du Comte de Frontenac_.]
In the same neighborhood lived La Grange-Trianon, Sieur de Neuville, a widower of fifty, with one child, a daughter of sixteen, whom he had placed in the charge of his relative, Madame de Bouthillier. Frontenac fell in love with her. Madame de Bouthillier opposed the match, and told La Grange that he might do better for his daughter than to marry her to a man who, say what he might, had but twenty thousand francs a year. La Grange was weak and vacillating: sometimes he listened to his prudent kinswoman, and sometimes to the eager suitor; treated him as a son-in-law, carried love messages from him to his daughter, and ended by refusing him her hand, and ordering her to renounce him on pain of being immured in a convent. Neither Frontenac nor his mistress was of a pliant temper. In the neighborhood was the little church of St. Pierre aux Boeufs, which had the privilege of uniting couples without the consent of their parents; and here, on a Wednesday in October, 1648, the lovers were married in presence of a number of Frontenac’s relatives. La Grange was furious at the discovery; but his anger soon cooled, and complete reconciliation followed. [Footnote: _Historiettes de Tallemant des Réaux_, IX. 214 (ed. Monmerqué); Jal, _Dictionnaire Critique_, etc.]
The happiness of the newly wedded pair was short. Love soon changed to aversion, at least on the part of the bride. She was not of a tender nature; her temper was imperious, and she had a restless craving for excitement. Frontenac, on his part, was the most wayward and headstrong of men. She bore him a son; but maternal cares were not to her liking. The infant, François Louis, was placed in the keeping of a nurse at the village of Clion; and his young mother left her husband, to follow the fortunes of Mademoiselle de Montpensier, who for a time pronounced her charming, praised her wit and beauty, and made her one of her ladies of honor. Very curious and amusing are some of the incidents recounted by the princess, in which Madame de Frontenac bore part; but what is more to our purpose are the sketches traced here and there by the same sharp pen, in which one may discern the traits of the destined saviour of New France. Thus, in the following, we see him at St. Fargeau in the same attitude in which we shall often see him at Quebec.
The princess and the duke her father had a dispute touching her property. Frontenac had lately been at Blois, where the duke had possessed him with his own views of the questions at issue. Accordingly, on arriving at St. Fargeau, he seemed disposed to assume the character of mediator. “He wanted,” says the princess, “to discuss my affairs with me: I listened to his preaching, and he also spoke about these matters to Préfontaine (_her man of business_). I returned to the house after our promenade, and we went to dance in the great hall. While we were dancing, I saw Préfontaine walking at the farther end with Frontenac, who was talking and gesticulating. This continued for a long time. Madame de Sully noticed it also, and seemed disturbed by it, as I was myself. I said, ‘Have we not danced enough?’ Madame de Sully assented, and we went out. I called Préfontaine, and asked him, ‘What was Frontenac saying to you?’ He answered: ‘He was scolding me. I never saw such an impertinent man in my life.’ I went to my room, and Madame de Sully and Madame de Fiesque followed. Madame de Sully said to Préfontaine: ‘I was very much disturbed to see you talking with so much warmth to Monsieur de Frontenac; for he came here in such ill-humor that I was afraid he would quarrel with you. Yesterday, when we were in the carriage, he was ready to eat us.’ The Comtesse de Fiesque said, ‘This morning he came to see my mother-in-law, and scolded at her.’ Préfontaine answered: ‘He wanted to throttle me. I never saw a man so crazy and absurd.’ We all four began to pity poor Madame de Frontenac for having such a husband, and to think her right in not wanting to go with him.” [Footnote: _Mémoires de Mademoiselle de Montpensier_, II. 267.] Frontenac owned the estate of Isle Savary, on the Indre, not far from Blois; and here, soon after the above scene, the princess made him a visit. “It is a pretty enough place,” she says, “for a man like him. The house is well furnished, and he gave me excellent entertainment. He showed me all the plans he had for improving it, and making gardens, fountains, and ponds. It would need the riches of a superintendent of finance to execute his schemes, and how anybody else should venture to think of them I cannot comprehend.”
“While Frontenac was at St. Fargeau,” she continues, “he kept open table, and many of my people went to dine with him; for he affected to hold court, and acted as if everybody owed duty to him. The conversation was always about my affair with his Royal Highness (_her father_), whose conduct towards me was always praised, while mine was blamed. Frontenac spoke ill of Préfontaine, and, in fine, said every thing he could to displease me and stir up my own people against me. He praised every thing that belonged to himself, and never came to sup or dine with me without speaking of some _ragoút_ or some new sweetmeat which had been served up on his table, ascribing it all to the excellence of the officers of his kitchen. The very meat that he ate, according to him, had a different taste on his board than on any other. As for his silver plate, it was always of good workmanship; and his dress was always of patterns invented by himself. When he had new clothes, he paraded them like a child. One day he brought me some to look at, and left them on my dressing-table. We were then at Chambord. His Royal Highness came into the room, and must have thought it odd to see breeches and doublets in such a place. Préfontaine and I laughed about it a great deal. Frontenac took everybody who came to St. Fargeau to see his stables; and all who wished to gain his good graces were obliged to admire his horses, which were very indifferent. In short, this is his way in every thing.” [Footnote: _Mémoires de Mademoiselle de Montpensier_, II. 279; III. 10.]
Though not himself of the highest rank, his position at court was, from the courtier point of view, an enviable one. The princess, after her banishment had ended, more than once mentions incidentally that she had met him in the cabinet of the queen. Her dislike of him became intense, and her fondness for his wife changed at last to aversion. She charges the countess with ingratitude. She discovered, or thought that she discovered, that in her dispute with her father, and in certain dissensions in her own household, Madame de Frontenac had acted secretly in opposition to her interests and wishes. The imprudent lady of honor received permission to leave her service. It was a woeful scene. “She saw me get into my carriage,” writes the princess, “and her distress was greater than ever. Her tears flowed abundantly: as for me, my fortitude was perfect, and I looked on with composure while she cried. If any thing could disturb my tranquility, it was the recollection of the time when she laughed while I was crying.” Mademoiselle de Montpensier had been deeply offended, and apparently with reason. The countess and her husband received an order never again to appear in her presence; but soon after, when the princess was with the king and queen at a comedy in the garden of the Louvre, Frontenac, who had previously arrived, immediately changed his position, and with his usual audacity took a post so conspicuous that she could not help seeing him. “I confess,” she says, “I was so angry that I could find no pleasure in the play; but I said nothing to the king and queen, fearing that they would not take such a view of the matter as I wished.” [Footnote: _Memoires de Mademoiselle de Montpensier_, III. 270.]
With the close of her relations with “La Grande Mademoiselle,” Madame de Frontenac is lost to sight for a while. In 1669, a Venetian embassy came to France to beg for aid against the Turks, who for more than two years had attacked Candia in overwhelming force. The ambassadors offered to place their own troops under French command, and they asked Turenne to name a general officer equal to the task. Frontenac had the signal honor of being chosen by the first soldier of Europe for this most arduous and difficult position. He went accordingly. The result increased his reputation for ability and courage; but Candia was doomed, and its chief fortress fell into the hands of the infidels, after a protracted struggle, which is said to have cost them a hundred and eighty thousand men. [Footnote: _Oraison funèbre du Comte de Frontenac, par le Père Olivier Goyer_. A powerful French contingent, under another command, co-operated with the Venetians under Frontenac.]
Three years later, Frontenac received the appointment of Governor and Lieutenant-General for the king in all New France. “He was,” says Saint-Simon, “a man of excellent parts, living much in society, and completely ruined. He found it hard to bear the imperious temper of his wife; and he was given the government of Canada to deliver him from her, and afford him some means of living.” [Footnote: _Memoires du Duc de Saint-Simon_, II. 270; V. 336.] Certain scandalous songs of the day assign a different motive for his appointment. Louis XIV. was enamoured of Madame de Montespan. She had once smiled upon Frontenac; and it is said that the jealous king gladly embraced the opportunity of removing from his presence, and from hers, a lover who had forestalled him. 
Frontenac’s wife had no thought of following him across the sea. A more congenial life awaited her at home. She had long had a friend of humbler station than herself, Mademoiselle d’Outrelaise, daughter of an obscure gentleman of Poitou, an amiable and accomplished person, who became through life her constant companion. The extensive building called the Arsenal, formerly the residence of Sully, the minister of Henry IV., contained suites of apartments which were granted to persons who had influence enough to obtain them. The Duc de Lude, grand master of artillery, had them at his disposal, and gave one of them to Madame de Frontenac. Here she made her abode with her friend; and here at last she died, at the age of seventy-five. The annalist Saint-Simon, who knew the court and all belonging to it better than any other man of his time, says of her: “She had been beautiful and gay, and was always in the best society, where she was greatly in request. Like her husband, she had little property and abundant wit. She and Mademoiselle d’Outrelaise, whom she took to live with her, gave the tone to the best company of Paris and the court, though they never went thither. They were called _Les Divines_. In fact, they demanded incense like goddesses; and it was lavished upon them all their lives.”
Mademoiselle d’Outrelaise died long before the countess, who retained in old age the rare social gifts which to the last made her apartments a resort of the highest society of that brilliant epoch. It was in her power to be very useful to her absent husband, who often needed her support, and who seems to have often received it.
She was childless. Her son, François Louis, was killed, some say in battle, and others in a duel, at an early age. Her husband died nine years before her; and the old countess left what little she had to her friend Beringhen, the king’s master of the horse. [Footnote: On Frontenac and his family, see Appendix A.]
 Note of M. Brunet, in _Correspondance de la Duchesse d’Orléans_, I. 200 (ed. 1869). The following lines, among others, were passed about secretly among the courtiers:–
“Je suis ravi que le roi, notre sire, Aime la Montespan;
Moi, Frontenac, je me crève de rire, Sachant ce qui lui pend;
Et je dirai, sans être des plus bestes, Tu n’as que mon reste,
Tu n’as que mon reste.”
Mademoiselle de Montpensier had mentioned in her memoirs, some years before, that Frontenac, in taking out his handkerchief, dropped from his pocket a love-letter to Mademoiselle de Mortemart, afterwards Madame de Montespan, which was picked up by one of the attendants of the princess. The king, on the other hand, was at one time attracted by the charms of Madame de Frontenac, against whom, however, no aspersion is cast.
The Comte de Grignan, son-in-law of Madame de Sévigné, was an unsuccessful competitor with Frontenac for the government of Canada.
FRONTENAC AT QUEBEC.
ARRIVAL.–BRIGHT PROSPECTS.–THE THREE ESTATES OF NEW FRANCE.–SPEECH OF THE GOVERNOR.–HIS INNOVATIONS.–ROYAL DISPLEASURE.–SIGNS OF STORM.–FRONTENAC AND THE PRIESTS.–HIS ATTEMPTS TO CIVILIZE THE INDIANS.–OPPOSITION.–COMPLAINTS AND HEART-BURNINGS.
Frontenac was fifty-two years old when he landed at Quebec. If time had done little to cure his many faults, it had done nothing to weaken the springs of his unconquerable vitality. In his ripe middle age, he was as keen, fiery, and perversely headstrong as when he quarrelled with Préfontaine in the hall at St. Fargeau.
Had nature disposed him to melancholy, there was much in his position to awaken it. A man of courts and camps, born and bred in the focus of a most gorgeous civilization, he was banished to the ends of the earth, among savage hordes and half-reclaimed forests, to exchange the splendors of St. Germain and the dawning glories of Versailles for a stern gray rock, haunted by sombre priests, rugged merchants and traders, blanketed Indians, and wild bush-rangers. But Frontenac was a man of action. He wasted no time in vain regrets, and set himself to his work with the elastic vigor of youth. His first impressions had been very favorable. When, as he sailed up the St. Lawrence, the basin of Quebec opened before him, his imagination kindled with the grandeur of the scene. “I never,” he wrote, “saw any thing more superb than the position of this town. It could not be better situated as the future capital of a great empire.” [Footnote: _Frontenac au Ministre_, 2 _Nov._, 1672.]
That Quebec was to become the capital of a great empire there seemed in truth good reason to believe. The young king and his minister Colbert had labored in earnest to build up a new France in the west. For years past, ship-loads of emigrants had landed every summer on the strand beneath the rock. All was life and action, and the air was full of promise. The royal agent Talon had written to his master: “This part of the French monarchy is destined to a grand future. All that I see around me points to it; and the colonies of foreign nations, so long settled on the seaboard, are trembling with fright in view of what his Majesty has accomplished here within the last seven years. The measures we have taken to confine them within narrow limits, and the prior claim we have established against them by formal acts of possession, do not permit them to extend themselves except at peril of having war declared against them as usurpers; and this, in fact, is what they seem greatly to fear.” [Footnote: _Talon au Ministre_, 2 _Nov_., 1671.]
Frontenac shared the spirit of the hour. His first step was to survey his government. He talked with traders, colonists, and officials; visited seigniories, farms, fishing-stations, and all the infant industries that Talon had galvanized into life; examined the new ship on the stocks, admired the structure of the new brewery, went to Three Rivers to see the iron mines, and then, having acquired a tolerably exact idea of his charge, returned to Quebec. He was well pleased with what he saw, but not with the ways and means of Canadian travel; for he thought it strangely unbecoming that a lieutenant-general of the king should be forced to crouch on a sheet of bark, at the bottom of a birch canoe, scarcely daring to move his head to the right or left lest he should disturb the balance of the fragile vessel.
At Quebec he convoked the council, made them a speech, and administered the oath of allegiance. [Footnote: _Registre du Conseil Souverain._] This did not satisfy him. He resolved that all Quebec should take the oath together. It was little but a pretext. Like many of his station, Frontenac was not in full sympathy with the centralizing movement of the time, which tended to level ancient rights, privileges, and prescriptions under the ponderous roller of the monarchical administration. He looked back with regret to the day when the three orders of the state, clergy, nobles, and commons, had a place and a power in the direction of national affairs. The three orders still subsisted, in form, if not in substance, in some of the provinces of France; and Frontenac conceived the idea of reproducing them in Canada. Not only did he cherish the tradition of faded liberties, but he loved pomp and circumstance, above all, when he was himself the central figure in it; and the thought of a royal governor of Languedoc or Brittany, presiding over the estates of his province, appears to have fired him with emulation.
He had no difficulty in forming his order of the clergy. The Jesuits and the seminary priests supplied material even more abundant than he wished. For the order of the nobles, he found three or four _gentilshommes_ at Quebec, and these he reinforced with a number of officers. The third estate consisted of the merchants and citizens; and he formed the members of the council and the magistrates into another distinct body, though, properly speaking, they belonged to the third estate, of which by nature and prescription they were the head. The Jesuits, glad no doubt to lay him under some slight obligation, lent him their church for the ceremony that he meditated, and aided in decorating it for the occasion. Here, on the twenty-third of October, 1672, the three estates of Canada were convoked, with as much pomp and splendor as circumstances would permit. Then Frontenac, with the ease of a man of the world and the loftiness of a _grand seigneur_, delivered himself of the harangue he had prepared. He wrote exceedingly well; he is said also to have excelled as an orator; certainly he was never averse to the tones of his own eloquence. His speech was addressed to a double audience: the throng that filled the church, and the king and the minister three thousand miles away. He told his hearers that he had called the assembly, not because he doubted their loyalty, but in order to afford them the delight of making public protestation of devotion to a prince, the terror of whose irresistible arms was matched only by the charms of his person and the benignity of his rule. “The Holy Scriptures,” he said, “command us to obey our sovereign, and teach us that no pretext or reason can dispense us from this obedience.” And, in a glowing eulogy on Louis XIV., he went on to show that obedience to him was not only a duty, but an inestimable privilege. He dwelt with admiration on the recent victories in Holland, and held forth the hope that a speedy and glorious peace would leave his Majesty free to turn his thoughts to the colony which already owed so much to his fostering care. “The true means,” pursued Frontenac, “of gaining his favor and his support, is for us to unite with one heart in laboring for the progress of Canada.” Then he addressed, in turn, the clergy, the nobles, the magistrates, and the citizens. He exhorted the priests to continue with zeal their labors for the conversion of the Indians, and to make them subjects not only of Christ, but also of the king; in short, to tame and civilize them, a portion of their duties in which he plainly gave them to understand that they had not hitherto acquitted themselves to his satisfaction. Next, he appealed to the nobles, commended their gallantry, and called upon them to be as assiduous in the culture and improvement of the colony as they were valiant in its defence. The magistrates, the merchants, and the colonists in general were each addressed in an appropriate exhortation. “I can assure you, messieurs,” he concluded, “that if you faithfully discharge your several duties, each in his station, his Majesty will extend to us all the help and all the favor that we can desire. It is needless, then, to urge you to act as I have counselled, since it is for your own interest to do so. As for me, it only remains to protest before you that I shall esteem myself happy in consecrating all my efforts, and, if need be, my life itself, to extending the empire of Jesus Christ throughout all this land, and the supremacy of our king over all the nations that dwell in it.” He administered the oath, and the assembly dissolved. He now applied himself to another work: that of giving a municipal government to Quebec, after the model of some of the cities of France. In place of the syndic, an official supposed to represent the interests of the citizens, he ordered the public election of three aldermen, of whom the senior should act as mayor. One of the number was to go out of office every year, his place being filled by a new election; and the governor, as representing the king, reserved the right of confirmation or rejection. He then, in concert with the chief inhabitants, proceeded to frame a body of regulations for the government of a town destined, as he again and again declares, to become the capital of a mighty empire; and he farther ordained that the people should hold a meeting every six months to discuss questions involving the welfare of the colony. The boldness of these measures will scarcely be appreciated at the present day. The intendant Talon declined, on pretence of a slight illness, to be present at the meeting of the estates. He knew too well the temper of the king, whose constant policy it was to destroy or paralyze every institution or custom that stood in the way of his autocracy. The despatches in which Frontenac announced to his masters what he had done received in due time their answer. The minister Colbert wrote: “Your assembling of the inhabitants to take the oath of fidelity, and your division of them into three estates, may have had a good effect for the moment; but it is well for you to observe that you are always to follow, in the government of Canada, the forms in use here; and since our kings have long regarded it as good for their service not to convoke the states-general of the kingdom, in order, perhaps, to abolish insensibly this ancient usage, you, on your part, should very rarely, or, to speak more correctly, never, give a corporate form to the inhabitants of Canada. You should even, as the colony strengthens, suppress gradually the office of the syndic, who presents petitions in the name of the inhabitants; for it is well that each should speak for himself, and no one for all.” [Footnote: _Frontenac au Roi_, 2 _Nov._, 1672; _Ibid._, 13 _Nov._, 1673; _Harangue du Comte de Frontenac en l’Assemblée à Quebec_; _Prestations de Serment_, 23 _Oct._, 1672; _Réglement de Police fait par Monsieur le Comte de Frontenac_; _Colbert à Frontenac_, 13 _Juin_, 1673.]
Here, in brief, is the whole spirit of the French colonial rule in Canada; a government, as I have elsewhere shown, of excellent intentions, but of arbitrary methods. Frontenac, filled with the traditions of the past, and sincerely desirous of the good of the colony, rashly set himself against the prevailing current. His municipal government, and his meetings of citizens, were, like his three estates, abolished by a word from the court, which, bold and obstinate as he was, he dared not disobey. Had they been allowed to subsist, there can be little doubt that great good would have resulted to Canada.
Frontenac has been called a mere soldier. He was an excellent soldier, and more besides. He was a man of vigorous and cultivated mind, penetrating observation, and ample travel and experience. His zeal for the colony, however, was often counteracted by the violence of his prejudices, and by two other influences. First, he was a ruined man, who meant to mend his fortunes; and his wish that Canada should prosper was joined with a determination to reap a goodly part of her prosperity for himself. Again, he could not endure a rival; opposition maddened him, and, when crossed or thwarted, he forgot every thing but his passion. Signs of storm quickly showed themselves between him and the intendant Talon; but the danger was averted by the departure of that official for France. A cloud then rose in the direction of the clergy.
“Another thing displeases me,” writes Frontenac, “and this is the complete dependence of the grand vicar and the seminary priests on the Jesuits, for they never do the least thing without their order: so that they (_the Jesuits_) are masters in spiritual matters, which, as you know, is a powerful lever for moving every thing else.” [Footnote: _Frontenac au Ministre, 2 Nov_., 1672.] And he complains that they have spies in town and country, that they abuse the confessional, intermeddle in families, set husbands against wives, and parents against children, and all, as they say, for the greater glory of God. “I call to mind every day, Monseigneur, what you did me the honor to say to me when I took leave of you, and every day I am satisfied more and more of the great importance to the king’s service of opposing the slightest of the attempts which are daily made against his authority.” He goes on to denounce a certain sermon, preached by a Jesuit, to the great scandal of loyal subjects, wherein the father declared that the king had exceeded his powers in licensing the trade in brandy when the bishop had decided it to be a sin, together with other remarks of a seditious nature. “I was tempted several times,” pursues Frontenac, “to leave the church with my guards and interrupt the sermon; but I contented myself with telling the grand vicar and the superior of the Jesuits, after it was over, that I was very much surprised at what I had heard, and demanded justice at their hands. They greatly blamed the preacher, and disavowed him, attributing his language, after their custom, to an excess of zeal, and making many apologies, with which I pretended to be satisfied; though I told them, nevertheless, that their excuses would not pass current with me another time, and, if the thing happened again, I would put the preacher in a place where he would learn how to speak. Since then they have been a little more careful, though not enough to prevent one from always seeing their intention to persuade the people that, even in secular matters, their authority ought to be respected above any other. As there are many persons here who have no more brains than they need, and who are attached to them by ties of interest or otherwise, it is necessary to have an eye to these matters in this country more than anywhere else.” [Footnote: _Frontenac au Ministre_, 13 _Nov._, 1673.]
The churchmen, on their part, were not idle. The bishop, who was then in France, contrived by some means to acquaint himself with the contents of the private despatches sent by Colbert in reply to the letters of Frontenac. He wrote to another ecclesiastic to communicate what he had learned, at the same time enjoining great caution; “since, while it is well to acquire all necessary information, and to act upon it, it is of the greatest importance to keep secret our possession of such knowledge.” [Footnote: _Laval à_ —-, 1674. The letter is a complete summary of the contents of Colbert’s recent despatch to Frontenac. Then follows the injunction to secrecy, “estant de très-grande conséquence que l’on ne sache pas que l’on aye rien appris de tout cela, sur quoi néanmoins il est bon que l’on agisse et que l’on me donne tous les advis qui seront nécessaires.”]
The king and the minister, in their instructions to Frontenac, had dwelt with great emphasis on the expediency of civilizing the Indians, teaching them the French language, and amalgamating them with the colonists. Frontenac, ignorant as yet of Indian nature and unacquainted with the difficulties of the case, entered into these views with great heartiness. He exercised from the first an extraordinary influence over all the Indians with whom he came in contact; and he persuaded the most savage and refractory of them, the Iroquois, to place eight of their children in his hands. Four of these were girls and four were boys. He took two of the boys into his own household, of which they must have proved most objectionable inmates; and he supported the other two, who were younger, out of his own slender resources, placed them in respectable French families, and required them to go daily to school. The girls were given to the charge of the Ursulines. Frontenac continually urged the Jesuits to co-operate with him in this work of civilization, but the results of his urgency disappointed and exasperated him. He complains that in the village of the Hurons, near Quebec, and under the control of the Jesuits, the French language was scarcely known. In fact, the fathers contented themselves with teaching their converts the doctrines and rites of the Roman Church, while retaining the food, dress, and habits of their original barbarism.
In defence of the missionaries, it should be said that, when brought in contact with the French, the Indians usually caught the vices of civilization without its virtues; but Frontenac made no allowances. “The Jesuits,” he writes, “will not civilize the Indians, because they wish to keep them in perpetual wardship. They think more of beaver skins than of souls, and their missions are pure mockeries.” At the same time he assures the minister that, when he is obliged to correct them, he does so with the utmost gentleness. In spite of this somewhat doubtful urbanity, it seems clear that a storm was brewing; and it was fortunate for the peace of the Canadian Church that the attention of the truculent governor was drawn to other quarters.
FRONTENAC AND PERROT.
LA SALLE.–FORT FRONTENAC.–PERROT.–HIS SPECULATIONS.–HIS TYRANNY.–THE BUSH-RANGERS.–PERROT REVOLTS.–BECOMES ALARMED.– DILEMMA OF FRONTENAC.–MEDIATION OF FÉNELON.–PERROT IN PRISON.–EXCITEMENT OF THE SULPITIANS.–INDIGNATION OF FÉNELON.– PASSION OF FRONTENAC.–PERROT ON TRIAL.–STRANGE SCENES.–APPEAL TO THE KING.–ANSWERS OF LOUIS XIV. AND COLBERT.–FÉNELON REBUKED.
Not long before Frontenac’s arrival, Courcelle, his predecessor, went to Lake Ontario with an armed force, in order to impose respect on the Iroquois, who had of late become insolent. As a means of keeping them in check, and at the same time controlling the fur trade of the upper country, he had recommended, like Talon before him, the building of a fort near the outlet of the lake. Frontenac at once saw the advantages of such a measure, and his desire to execute it was stimulated by the reflection that the proposed fort might be made not only a safeguard to the colony, but also a source of profit to himself.
At Quebec, there was a grave, thoughtful, self-contained young man, who soon found his way into Frontenac’s confidence. There was between them the sympathetic attraction of two bold and energetic spirits; and though Cavelier de la Salle had neither the irritable vanity of the count, nor his Gallic vivacity of passion, he had in full measure the same unconquerable pride and hardy resolution. There were but two or three men in Canada who knew the western wilderness so well. He was full of schemes of ambition and of gain; and, from this moment, he and Frontenac seem to have formed an alliance, which ended only with the governor’s recall.
In telling the story of La Salle, I have described the execution of the new plan: the muster of the Canadians, at the call of Frontenac; the consternation of those of the merchants whom he and La Salle had not taken into their counsels, and who saw in the movement the preparation for a gigantic fur trading monopoly; the intrigues set on foot to bar the enterprise; the advance up the St. Lawrence; the assembly of Iroquois at the destined spot; the ascendency exercised over them by the governor; the building of Fort Frontenac on the ground where Kingston now stands, and its final transfer into the hands of La Salle, on condition, there can be no doubt, of sharing the expected profits with his patron. [Footnote: Discovery of the Great West, chap. vi.]
On the way to the lake, Frontenac stopped for some time at Montreal, where he had full opportunity to become acquainted with a state of things to which his attention had already been directed. This state of things was as follows:–When the intendant, Talon, came for the second time to Canada, in 1669, an officer named Perrot, who had married his niece, came with him. Perrot, anxious to turn to account the influence of his wife’s relative, looked about him for some post of honor and profit, and quickly discovered that the government of Montreal was vacant. The priests of St. Sulpice, feudal owners of the place, had the right of appointing their own governor. Talon advised them to choose Perrot, who thereupon received the desired commission, which, however, was revocable at the will of those who had granted it. The new governor, therefore, begged another commission from the king, and after a little delay he obtained it. Thus he became, in some measure, independent of the priests, who, if they wished to rid themselves of him, must first gain the royal consent.
Perrot, as he had doubtless foreseen, found himself in an excellent position for making money. The tribes of the upper lakes, and all the neighboring regions, brought down their furs every summer to the annual fair at Montreal. Perrot took his measures accordingly. On the island which still bears his name, lying above Montreal and directly in the route of the descending savages, he built a storehouse, and placed it in charge of a retired lieutenant named Brucy, who stopped the Indians on their way, and carried on an active trade with them, to the great profit of himself and his associate, and the great loss of the merchants in the settlements below. This was not all. Perrot connived at the desertion of his own soldiers, who escaped to the woods, became _coureurs de bois_, or bush-rangers, traded with the Indians in their villages, and shared their gains with their commander. Many others, too, of these forest rovers, outlawed by royal edicts, found in the governor of Montreal a protector, under similar conditions.
The journey from Quebec to Montreal often consumed a fortnight. Perrot thought himself virtually independent; and relying on his commission from the king, the protection of Talon, and his connection with other persons of influence, he felt safe in his position, and began to play the petty tyrant. The judge of Montreal, and several of the chief inhabitants, came to offer a humble remonstrance against disorders committed by some of the ruffians in his interest. Perrot received them with a storm of vituperation, and presently sent the judge to prison. This proceeding was followed by a series of others, closely akin to it, so that the priests of St. Sulpice, who received their full share of official abuse, began to repent bitterly of the governor they had chosen.
Frontenac had received stringent orders from the king to arrest all the bush-rangers, or _coureurs de bois_; but, since he had scarcely a soldier at his disposal, except his own body-guard, the order was difficult to execute. As, however, most of these outlaws were in the service of his rival, Perrot, his zeal to capture them rose high against every obstacle. He had, moreover, a plan of his own in regard to them, and had already petitioned the minister for a galley, to the benches of which the captive bush-rangers were to be chained as rowers, thus supplying the representative of the king with a means of transportation befitting his dignity, and at the same time giving wholesome warning against the infraction of royal edicts. [Footnote: _Frontenac au Ministre_, 2 _Nov._, 1672.] Accordingly, he sent orders to the judge, at Montreal, to seize every _coureur de bois_ on whom he could lay hands.
The judge, hearing that two of the most notorious were lodged in the house of a lieutenant named Carion, sent a constable to arrest them; whereupon Carion threatened and maltreated the officer of justice, and helped the men to escape. Perrot took the part of his lieutenant, and told the judge that he would put him in prison, in spite of Frontenac, if he ever dared to attempt such an arrest again. [Footnote: _Mémoire des Motifs qui ont obligé M. le Comte de Frontenac de faire arrêter le Sieur Perrot._]
When Frontenac heard what had happened, his ire was doubly kindled. On the one hand, Perrot had violated the authority lodged by the king in the person of his representative; and, on the other, the mutinous official was a rival in trade, who had made great and illicit profits, while his superior had, thus far, made none. As a governor and as a man, Frontenac was deeply moved; yet, helpless as he was, he could do no more than send three of his guardsmen, under a lieutenant named Bizard, with orders to arrest Carion and bring him to Quebec.
The commission was delicate. The arrest was to be made in the dominions of Perrot, who had the means to prevent it, and the audacity to use them. Bizard acted accordingly. He went to Carion’s house, and took him prisoner; then proceeded to the house of the merchant Le Ber, where he left a letter, in which Frontenac, as was the usage on such occasions, gave notice to the local governor of the arrest he had ordered. It was the object of Bizard to escape with his prisoner before Perrot could receive the letter; but, meanwhile, the wife of Carion ran to him with the news, and the governor suddenly arrived, in a frenzy of rage, followed by a sergeant and three or four soldiers. The sergeant held the point of his halberd against the breast of Bizard, while Perrot, choking with passion, demanded, “How dare you arrest an officer in my government without my leave?” The lieutenant replied that he acted under orders of the governor-general, and gave Frontenac’s letter to Perrot, who immediately threw it into his face, exclaiming: “Take it back to your master, and tell him to teach you your business better another time. Meanwhile you are my prisoner.” Bizard protested in vain. He was led to jail, whither he was followed a few days after by Le Ber, who had mortally offended Perrot by signing an attestation of the scene he had witnessed. As he was the chief merchant of the place, his arrest produced a great sensation, while his wife presently took to her bed with a nervous fever.
As Perrot’s anger cooled, he became somewhat alarmed. He had resisted the royal authority, and insulted its representative. The consequences might be serious; yet he could not bring himself to retrace his steps. He merely released Bizard, and sullenly permitted him to depart, with a letter to the governor-general, more impertinent than apologetic. [Footnote: _Mémoire des Motifs, etc._]
Frontenac, as his enemies declare, was accustomed, when enraged, to foam at the mouth. Perhaps he did so when he learned the behavior of Perrot. If he had had at command a few companies of soldiers, there can be little doubt that he would have gone at once to Montreal, seized the offender, and brought him back in irons; but his body-guard of twenty men was not equal to such an enterprise. Nor would a muster of the militia have served his purpose; for the settlers about Quebec were chiefly peaceful peasants, while the denizens of Montreal were disbanded soldiers, fur traders, and forest adventurers, the best fighters in Canada. They were nearly all in the interest of Perrot, who, if attacked, had the temper as well as the ability to make a passionate resistance. Thus civil war would have ensued, and the anger of the king would have fallen on both parties. On the other hand, if Perrot were left unpunished, the _coureurs de bois_, of whom he was the patron, would set no bounds to their audacity, and Frontenac, who had been ordered to suppress them, would be condemned as negligent or incapable.
Among the priests of St. Sulpice at Montreal was the Abbé Salignac de Fénelon, half-brother of the celebrated author of _Télémaque_. He was a zealous missionary, enthusiastic and impulsive, still young, and more ardent than discreet. One of his uncles had been the companion of Frontenac during the Candian war, and hence the count’s relations with the missionary had been very friendly. Frontenac now wrote to Perrot, directing him to come to Quebec and give account of his conduct; and he coupled this letter with another to Fénelon, urging him to represent to the offending governor the danger of his position, and advise him to seek an interview with his superior, by which the difficulty might be amicably adjusted. Perrot, dreading the displeasure of the king, soothed by the moderate tone of Frontenac’s letter, and moved by the assurances of the enthusiastic abbé, who was delighted to play the part of peace-maker, at length resolved to follow his counsel. It was mid-winter. Perrot and Fénelon set out together, walked on snow-shoes a hundred and eighty miles down the frozen St. Lawrence, and made their appearance before the offended count.
Frontenac, there can be little doubt, had never intended that Perrot, once in his power, should return to Montreal as its governor; but that, beyond this, he meant harm to him, there is not the least proof. Perrot, however, was as choleric and stubborn as the count himself; and his natural disposition had not been improved by several years of petty autocracy at Montreal. Their interview was brief, but stormy. When it ended, Perrot was a prisoner in the château, with guards placed over him by day and night. Frontenac made choice of one La Nouguère, a retired officer, whom he knew that he could trust, and sent him to Montreal to command in place of its captive governor. With him he sent also a judge of his own selection. La Nouguère set himself to his work with vigor. Perrot’s agent or partner, Brucy, was seized, tried, and imprisoned; and an active hunt was begun for his _coureurs de bois_. Among others, the two who had been the occasion of the dispute were captured and sent to Quebec, where one of them was solemnly hanged before the window of Perrot’s prison; with the view, no doubt, of producing a chastening effect on the mind of the prisoner. The execution was fully authorized, a royal edict having ordained that bush-ranging was an offence punishable with death. [Footnote: _Édits et Ordonnances_, I. 73.] As the result of these proceedings, Frontenac reported to the minister that only five _coureurs de bois_ remained at large; all the rest having returned to the settlements and made their submission, so that farther hanging was needless.
Thus the central power was vindicated, and Montreal brought down from her attitude of partial independence. Other results also followed, if we may believe the enemies of Frontenac, who declare that, by means of the new commandant and other persons in his interest, the governor-general possessed himself of a great part of the trade from which he had ejected Perrot, and that the _coureurs de bois_, whom he hanged when breaking laws for his rival, found complete impunity when breaking laws for him.
Meanwhile, there was a deep though subdued excitement among the priests of St. Sulpice. The right of naming their own governor, which they claimed as seigniors of Montreal, had been violated by the action of Frontenac in placing La Nouguère in command without consulting them. Perrot was a bad governor; but it was they who had chosen him, and the recollection of his misdeeds did not reconcile them to a successor arbitrarily imposed upon them. Both they and the colonists, their vassals, were intensely jealous of Quebec; and, in their indignation against Frontenac, they more than half forgave Perrot. None among them all was so angry as the Abbé Fénelon. He believed that he had been used to lure Perrot into a trap; and his past attachment to the governor-general was turned into wrath. High words had passed between them; and, when Fénelon returned to Montreal, he vented his feelings in a sermon plainly levelled at Frontenac. [Footnote: _Information faite par nous, Charles le Tardieu, Sieur de Tilly._ Tilly was a commissioner sent by the council to inquire into the affair.] So sharp and bitter was it, that his brethren of St. Sulpice hastened to disclaim it; and Dollier de Casson, their Superior, strongly reproved the preacher, who protested in return that his words were not meant to apply to Frontenac in particular, but only to bad rulers in general. His offences, however, did not cease with the sermon; for he espoused the cause of Perrot with more than zeal, and went about among the colonists to collect attestations in his favor. When these things were reported to Frontenac, his ire was kindled, and he summoned Fénelon before the council at Quebec to answer the charge of instigating sedition.
Fénelon had a relative and friend in the person of the Abbé d’Urfé, his copartner in the work of the missions. D’Urfé, anxious to conjure down the rising storm, went to Quebec to seek an interview with Frontenac; but, according to his own account, he was very ill received, and threatened with a prison. On another occasion, the count showed him a letter in which D’Urfé was charged with having used abusive language concerning him. Warm words ensued, till Frontenac, grasping his cane, led the abbé to the door and dismissed him, berating him from the top of the stairs in tones so angry that the sentinel below spread the report that he had turned his visitor out of doors. [Footnote: _Mémoire de M. d’Urfé à Colbert_, extracts in Faillon.]
Two offenders were now arraigned before the council of Quebec: the first was Perrot, charged with disobeying the royal edicts and resisting the royal authority; the other was the Abbé Fénelon. The councillors were at this time united in the interest of Frontenac, who had the power of appointing and removing them. Perrot, in no way softened by a long captivity, challenged the governor-general, who presided at the council board, as a party to the suit and his personal enemy, and took exception to several of the members as being connections of La Nouguère. Frontenac withdrew, and other councillors or judges were appointed provisionally; but these were challenged in turn by the prisoner, on one pretext or another. The exceptions were overruled, and the trial proceeded, though not without signs of doubt and hesitation on the part of some of the councillors. [Footnote: All the proceedings in the affair of Perrot will be found in full in the _Registre des Jugements et Délibérations du Conseil Supérieur_. They extend from the end of January to the beginning of November, 1674.]
Meanwhile, other sessions were held for the trial of Fénelon; and a curious scene ensued. Five councillors and the deputy attorney-general were seated at the board, with Frontenac as presiding judge, his hat on his head and his sword at his side, after the established custom. Fénelon, being led in, approached a vacant chair, and was about to seat himself with the rest, when Frontenac interposed, telling him that it was his duty to remain standing while answering the questions of the council. Fénelon at once placed himself in the chair, and replied that priests had the right to speak seated and with heads covered.
“Yes,” returned Frontenac, “when they are summoned as witnesses, but not when they are cited to answer charges of crime.”
“My crimes exist nowhere but in your head,” replied the abbé. And, putting on his hat, he drew it down over his brows, rose, gathered his cassock about him, and walked in a defiant manner to and fro. Frontenac told him that his conduct was wanting in respect to the council, and to the governor as its head. Fénelon several times took off his hat, and pushed it on again more angrily than ever, saying at the same time that Frontenac was wanting in respect to his character of priest, in citing him before a civil tribunal. As he persisted in his refusal to take the required attitude, he was at length told that he might leave the room. After being kept for a time in the anteroom in charge of a constable, he was again brought before the council, when he still refused obedience, and was ordered into a sort of honorable imprisonment. [Footnote: _Conteste entre le Gouverneur et l’Abbé de Fénelon; Jugements et Déliberations du Conseil Supérieur_, 21 _Août_, 1674.]
This behavior of the effervescent abbé, which Frontenac justly enough characterizes as unworthy of his birth and his sacred office, was, nevertheless, founded on a claim sustained by many precedents. As an ecclesiastic, Fénelon insisted that the bishop alone, and not the council, had the right to judge him. Like Perrot, too, he challenged his judges as parties to the suit, or otherwise interested against him. On the question of jurisdiction, he had all the priests on his side. Bishop Laval was in France; and Bernières, his grand vicar, was far from filling the place of the strenuous and determined prelate. Yet the ecclesiastical storm rose so high that the councillors, discouraged and daunted, were no longer amenable to the will of Frontenac; and it was resolved at last to refer the whole matter to the king. Perrot was taken from the prison, which he had occupied from January to November, and shipped for France, along with Fénelon. An immense mass of papers was sent with them for the instruction of the king; and Frontenac wrote a long despatch, in which he sets forth the offences of Perrot and Fénelon, the pretensions of the ecclesiastics, the calumnies he had incurred in his efforts to serve his Majesty, and the insults heaped upon him, “which no man but me would have endured so patiently.” Indeed, while the suits were pending before the council, he had displayed a calmness and moderation which surprised his opponents. “Knowing as I do,” he pursues, “the cabals and intrigues that are rife here, I must expect that every thing will be said against me that the most artful slander can devise. A governor in this country would greatly deserve pity, if he were left without support; and, even should he make mistakes, it would surely be very pardonable, seeing that there is no snare that is not spread for him, and that, after avoiding a hundred of them, he will hardly escape being caught at last.” [Footnote: _Frontenac au Ministre, 14 Nov., 1674_. In a preceding letter, sent by way of Boston, and dated 16 February, he says that he could not suffer Perrot to go unpunished without injury to the regal authority, which he is resolved to defend to the last drop of his blood.]
In his charges of cabal and intrigue, Frontenac had chiefly in view the clergy, whom he profoundly distrusted, excepting always the Récollet friars, whom he befriended because the bishop and the Jesuits opposed them. The priests on their part declare that he persecuted them, compelled them to take passports like laymen when travelling about the colony, and even intercepted their letters. These accusations and many others were carried to the king and the minister by the Abbé d’Urfé, who sailed in the same ship with Fénelon. The moment was singularly auspicious to him. His cousin, the Marquise d’Allègre, was on the point of marrying Seignelay, the son of the minister Colbert, who, therefore, was naturally inclined to listen with favor to him and to Fénelon, his relative. Again, Talon, uncle of Perrot’s wife, held a post at court, which brought him into close personal relations with the king. Nor were these the only influences adverse to Frontenac and propitious to his enemies. Yet his enemies were disappointed. The letters written to him both by Colbert and by the king are admirable for calmness and dignity. The following is from that of the king:–
“Though I do not credit all that has been told me concerning various little annoyances which you cause to the ecclesiastics, I nevertheless think it necessary to inform you of it, in order that, if true, you may correct yourself in this particular, giving to all the clergy entire liberty to go and come throughout all Canada without compelling them to take out passports, and at the same time leaving them perfect freedom as regards their letters. I have seen and carefully examined all that you have sent touching M. Perrot; and, after having also seen all the papers given by him in his defence, I have condemned his action in imprisoning an officer of your guard. To punish him, I have had him placed for a short time in the Bastile, that he may learn to be more circumspect in the discharge of his duty, and that his example may serve as a warning to others. But after having thus vindicated my authority, which has been violated in your person, I will say, in order that you may fully understand my views, that you should not without absolute necessity cause your commands to be executed within the limits of a local government, like that of Montreal, without first informing its governor, and also that the ten months of imprisonment which you have made him undergo seems to me sufficient for his fault. I therefore sent him to the Bastile merely as a public reparation for having violated my authority. After keeping him there a few days, I shall send him back to his government, ordering him first to see you and make apology to you for all that has passed; after which I desire that you retain no resentment against him, and that you treat him in accordance with the powers that I have given him.” [Footnote: _Le Roi a Frontenac_, 22 _Avril_, 1675.]
Colbert writes in terms equally measured, and adds: “After having spoken in the name of his Majesty, pray let me add a word in my own. By the marriage which the king has been pleased to make between the heiress of the house of Allègre and my son, the Abbé d’Urfé has become very closely connected with me, since he is cousin german of my daughter-in-law; and this induces me to request you to show him especial consideration, though, in the exercise of his profession, he will rarely have occasion to see you.”
As D’Urfé had lately addressed a memorial to Colbert, in which the conduct of Frontenac is painted in the darkest colors, the almost imperceptible rebuke couched in the above lines does no little credit to the tact and moderation of the stern minister.
Colbert next begs Frontenac to treat with kindness the priests of Montreal, observing that Bretonvilliers, their Superior at Paris, is his particular friend. “As to M. Perrot,” he continues, “since ten months of imprisonment at Quebec and three weeks in the Bastile may suffice to atone for his fault, and since also he is related or connected with persons for whom I have a great regard, I pray you to accept kindly the apologies which he will make you, and, as it is not at all likely that he will fall again into any offence approaching that which he has committed, you will give me especial pleasure in granting him the honor of your favor and friendship.” [Footnote: _Colbert a Frontenac,_ 13 _Mai,_ 1675.]
Fénelon, though the recent marriage had allied him also to Colbert, fared worse than either of the other parties to the dispute. He was indeed sustained in his claim to be judged by an ecclesiastical tribunal; but his Superior, Bretonvilliers, forbade him to return to Canada, and the king approved the prohibition. Bretonvilliers wrote to the Sulpitian priests of Montreal: “I exhort you to profit by the example of M. de Fénelon. By having busied himself too much in worldly matters, and meddled with what did not concern him, he has ruined his own prospects and injured the friends whom he wished to serve. In matters of this sort, it is well always to stand neutral.” [Footnote: _Lettre de Bretonvilliers, 7 Mai, 1675_; extract in Faillon. Fénelon, though wanting in prudence and dignity, had been an ardent and devoted missionary. In relation to these disputes, I have received much aid from the research of Abbé Faillon, and from the valuable paper of Abbé Verreau, _Les deux Abbés de Fenelon,_ printed in the Canadian _Journal de l’Instruction Publique,_ Vol. VIII.]
FRONTENAC AND DUCHESNEAU.
FRONTENAC RECEIVES A COLLEAGUE.–HE OPPOSES THE CLERGY.–DISPUTES IN THE COUNCIL.–ROYAL INTERVENTION.–FRONTENAC REBUKED.–FRESH OUTBREAKS.–CHARGES AND COUNTERCHARGES.–THE DISPUTE GROWS HOT.–DUCHESNEAU CONDEMNED AND FRONTENAC WARNED.–THE QUARREL CONTINUES.–THE KING LOSES PATIENCE.–MORE ACCUSATIONS.–FACTIONS AND FEUDS.–A SIDE QUARREL.–THE KING THREATENS.–FRONTENAC DENOUNCES THE PRIESTS.–THE GOVERNOR AND THE INTENDANT RECALLED.–QUALITIES OF FRONTENAC.
While writing to Frontenac in terms of studied mildness, the king and Colbert took measures to curb his power. In the absence of the bishop, the appointment and removal of councillors had rested wholly with the governor; and hence the council had been docile under his will. It was now ordained that the councillors should be appointed by the king himself. [Footnote: _Édits et Ordonnances_, I. 84.] This was not the only change. Since the departure of the intendant Talon, his office had been vacant; and Frontenac was left to rule alone. This seems to have been an experiment on the part of his masters at Versailles, who, knowing the peculiarities of his temper, were perhaps willing to try the effect of leaving him without a colleague. The experiment had not succeeded. An intendant was now, therefore, sent to Quebec, not only to manage the details of administration, but also to watch the governor, keep him, if possible, within prescribed bounds, and report his proceedings to the minister. The change was far from welcome to Frontenac, whose delight it was to hold all the reins of power in his own hands; nor was he better pleased with the return of Bishop Laval, which presently took place. Three preceding governors had quarrelled with that uncompromising prelate; and there was little hope that Frontenac and he would keep the peace. All the signs of the sky foreboded storm.
The storm soon came. The occasion of it was that old vexed question of the sale of brandy, which has been fully treated in another volume, [Footnote: The Old Régime in Canada.] and on which it is needless to dwell here. Another dispute quickly followed; and here, too, the governor’s chief adversaries were the bishop and the ecclesiastics. Duchesneau, the new intendant, took part with them. The bishop and his clergy were, on their side, very glad of a secular ally; for their power had greatly fallen since the days of Mézy, and the rank and imperious character of Frontenac appear to have held them in some awe. They avoided as far as they could a direct collision with him, and waged vicarious war in the person of their friend the intendant. Duchesneau was not of a conciliating spirit, and he felt strong in the support of the clergy; while Frontenac, when his temper was roused, would fight with haughty and impracticable obstinacy for any position which he had once assumed, however trivial or however mistaken. There was incessant friction between the two colleagues in the exercise of their respective functions, and occasions of difference were rarely wanting.
The question now at issue was that of honors and precedence at church and in religious ceremonies, matters of substantial importance under the Bourbon rule. Colbert interposed, ordered Duchesneau to treat Frontenac with becoming deference, and warned him not to make himself the partisan of the bishop; [Footnote: _Colbert à Duchesneau_, 1 _Mai_, 1677.] while, at the same time, he exhorted Frontenac to live in harmony with the intendant. [Footnote: _Ibid._, 18 _Mai_, 1677.] The dispute continued till the king lost patience.
“Through all my kingdom,” he wrote to the governor, “I do not hear of so many difficulties on this matter (_of ecclesiastical honors_) as I see in the church of Quebec.” [Footnote: _Le Roy à Frontenac_, 25 _Avril_, 1679.] And he directs him to conform to the practice established in the city of Amiens, and to exact no more; “since you ought to be satisfied with being the representative of my person in the country where I have placed you in command.”
At the same time, Colbert corrects the intendant. “A memorial,” he wrote, “has been placed in my hands, touching various ecclesiastical honors, wherein there continually appears a great pretension on your part, and on that of the bishop of Quebec in your favor, to establish an equality between the governor and you. I think I have already said enough to lead you to know yourself, and to understand the difference between a governor and an intendant; so that it is no longer necessary for me to enter into particulars, which could only serve to show you that you are completely in the wrong.” [Footnote: _Colbert à Duchesneau_, 8 _Mai_, 1679]
Scarcely was this quarrel suppressed, when another sprang up. Since the arrival of the intendant and the return of the bishop, the council had ceased to be in the interest of Frontenac. Several of its members were very obnoxious to him; and chief among these was Villeray, a former councillor whom the king had lately reinstated. Frontenac admitted him to his seat with reluctance. “I obey your orders,” he wrote mournfully to Colbert; “but Villeray is the principal and most dangerous instrument of the bishop and the Jesuits.” [Footnote: _Frontenac au Ministre_, 14 _Nov._, 1674] He says, farther, that many people think him to be a Jesuit in disguise, and that he is an intriguing busybody, who makes trouble everywhere. He also denounces the attorney-general, Auteuil, as an ally of the Jesuits. Another of the reconstructed council, Tilly, meets his cordial approval; but he soon found reason to change his mind concerning him.
The king had recently ordered that the intendant, though holding only the third rank in the council, should act as its president. [Footnote: _Declaration du Roy,_ 23 _Sept._, 1675.] The commission of Duchesneau, however, empowered him to preside only in the absence of the governor; [Footnote: “Présider au Conseil Souverain _en l’absence du dit Sieur de Frontenac.”–Commission de Duchesneau,_ 5 _Juin_, 1675.] while Frontenac is styled “chief and president of the council” in several of the despatches addressed to him. Here was an inconsistency. Both parties claimed the right of presiding, and both could rest their claim on a clear expression of the royal will.
Frontenac rarely began a new quarrel till the autumn vessels had sailed for France; because a full year must then elapse before his adversaries could send their complaints to the king, and six months more before the king could send back his answer. The governor had been heard to say, on one of these occasions, that he should now be master for eighteen months, subject only to answering with his head for what he might do. It was when the last vessel was gone in the autumn of 1678 that he demanded to be styled _chief and president_ on the records of the council; and he showed a letter from the king in which he was so entitled. [Footnote: This letter, still preserved in the _Archives de la Marine,_ is dated 12 _Mai_, 1678. Several other letters of Louis XIV. give Frontenac the same designation.] In spite of this, Duchesneau resisted, and appealed to precedent to sustain his position. A long series of stormy sessions followed. The councillors in the clerical interest supported the intendant. Frontenac, chafed and angry, refused all compromise. Business was stopped for weeks.
Duchesneau lost temper, and became abusive. Auteuil tried to interpose in behalf of the intendant. Frontenac struck the table with his fist, and told him fiercely that he would teach him his duty. Every day embittered the strife. The governor made the declaration usual with him on such occasions, that he would not permit the royal authority to suffer in his person. At length he banished from Quebec his three most strenuous opponents, Villeray, Tilly, and Auteuil, and commanded them to remain in their country houses till they received his farther orders. All attempts at compromise proved fruitless; and Auteuil, in behalf of the exiles, appealed piteously to the king.
The answer came in the following summer: “Monsieur le Comte de Frontenac,” wrote Louis XIV., “I am surprised to learn all the new troubles and dissensions that have occurred in my country of New France, more especially since I have clearly and strongly given you to understand that your sole care should be to maintain harmony and peace among all my subjects dwelling therein; but what surprises me still more is that in nearly all the disputes which, you have caused you have advanced claims which have very little foundation. My edicts, declarations, and ordinances had so plainly made known to you my will, that I have great cause of astonishment that you, whose duty it is to see them faithfully executed, have yourself set up pretensions entirely opposed to them. You have wished to be styled chief and president on the records of the Supreme Council, which is contrary to my edict concerning that council; and I am the more surprised at this demand, since I am very sure that you are the only man in my kingdom who, being honored with the title of governor and lieutenant-general, would care to be styled chief and president of such a council as that of Quebec.”
He then declares that neither Frontenac nor the intendant is to have the title of president, but that the intendant is to perform the functions of presiding officer, as determined by the edict. He continues:–
“Moreover, your abuse of the authority which I have confided to you in exiling two councillors and the attorney-general for so trivial a cause cannot meet my approval; and, were it not for the distinct assurances given me by your friends that you will act with more moderation in future, and never again fall into offences of this nature, I should have resolved on recalling you.” [Footnote: _Le Roy à Frontenac_, 29 _Avril_, 1680. A decree of the council of state soon after determined the question of presidency in accord with this letter. _Édits et Ordonnances_ I. 238.]
Colbert wrote to him with equal severity: “I have communicated to the king the contents of all the despatches which you have written to me during the past year; and as the matters of which they treat are sufficiently ample, including dissensions almost universal among those whose duty it is to preserve harmony in the country under your command, his Majesty has been pleased to examine all the papers sent by all the parties interested, and more particularly those appended to your letters. He has thereupon ordered me distinctly to make known to you his intentions.” The minister then proceeds to reprove him sharply in the name of the king, and concludes: “It is difficult for me to add any thing to what I have just said. Consider well that, if it is any advantage or any satisfaction to you that his Majesty should be satisfied with your services, it is necessary that you change entirely the conduct which you have hitherto pursued.” [Footnote: _Colbert à Frontenac_, 4 _Dec_., 1679. This letter seems to have been sent by a special messenger by way of New England. It was too late in the season to send directly to Canada. On the quarrel about the presidency, _Duchesneau au Ministre_, 10 _Nov_., 1679; _Auteuil au Ministre_, 10 _Aug_., 1679; _Contestations entre le Sieur Comte de Frontenac et M. Duchesneau, Chevalier_. This last paper consists of voluminous extracts from the records of the council.]
This, one would think, might have sufficed to bring the governor to reason, but the violence of his resentments and antipathies overcame the very slender share of prudence with which nature had endowed him. One morning, as he sat at the head of the council board, the bishop on his right hand, and the intendant on his left, a woman made her appearance with a sealed packet of papers. She was the wife of the councillor Amours, whose chair was vacant at the table. Important business was in hand, the registration of a royal edict of amnesty to the _coureurs de bois_. The intendant, who well knew what the packet contained, demanded that it should be opened. Frontenac insisted that the business before the council should proceed. The intendant renewed his demand, the council sustained him, and the packet was opened accordingly. It contained a petition from Amours, stating that Frontenac had put him in prison, because, having obtained in due form a passport to send a canoe to his fishing station of Matane, he had afterwards sent a sail-boat thither without applying for another passport. Frontenac had sent for him, and demanded by what right he did so. Amours replied that he believed that he had acted in accordance with the intentions of the king; whereupon, to borrow the words of the petition, “Monsieur the governor fell into a rage, and said to your petitioner, ‘I will teach you the intentions of the king, and you shall stay in prison till you learn them;’ and your petitioner was shut up in a chamber of the château, wherein he still remains.” He proceeds to pray that a trial may be granted him according to law. [Footnote: _Registre du Conseil Supérieur_, 16 Aoûst, 1681.]
Discussions now ensued which lasted for days, and now and then became tempestuous. The governor, who had declared that the council had nothing to do with the matter, and that he could not waste time in talking about it, was not always present at the meetings, and it sometimes became necessary to depute one or more of the members to visit him. Auteuil, the attorney-general, having been employed on this unenviable errand, begged the council to dispense him from such duty in future, “by reason,” as he says, “of the abuse, ill treatment, and threats which he received from Monsieur the governor, when he last had the honor of being deputed to confer with him, the particulars whereof he begs to be excused from reporting, lest the anger of Monsieur the governor should be kindled against him still more.” [Footnote: _Registre du Conseil Supérieur_, 4 _Nov_., 1681.] Frontenac, hearing of this charge, angrily denied it, saying that the attorney-general had slandered and insulted him, and that it was his custom to do so. Auteuil rejoined that the governor had accused him of habitual lying, and told him that he would have his hand cut off. All these charges and countercharges may still be found entered in due form on the old records of the council at Quebec.
It was as usual upon the intendant that the wrath of Frontenac fell most fiercely. He accuses him of creating cabals and intrigues, and causing not only the council, but all the country, to forget the respect due to the representative of his Majesty. Once, when Frontenac was present at the session, a dispute arose about an entry on the record. A draft of it had been made in terms agreeable to the governor, who insisted that the intendant should sign it. Duchesneau replied that he and the clerk would go into the adjoining room, where they could examine it in peace, and put it into a proper form. Frontenac rejoined that he would then have no security that what he had said in the council would be accurately reported. Duchesneau persisted, and was going out with the draft in his hand, when Frontenac planted himself before the door, and told him that he should not leave the council chamber till he had signed the paper. “Then I will get out of the window, or else stay here all day,” returned Duchesneau. A lively debate ensued, and the governor at length yielded the point. [Footnote: _Registre de Conseil Supérieur_, 1681.]
The imprisonment of Amours was short, but strife did not cease. The disputes in the council were accompanied throughout with other quarrels which were complicated with them, and which were worse than all the rest, since they involved more important matters and covered a wider field. They related to the fur trade, on which hung the very life of the colony. Merchants, traders, and even _habitants_, were ranged in two contending factions. Of one of these Frontenac was the chief. With him were La Salle and his lieutenant, La Forêt; Du Lhut, the famous leader of _coureurs de bois_; Boisseau, agent of the farmers of the revenue; Barrois, the governor’s secretary; Bizard, lieutenant of his guard; and various others of greater or less influence. On the other side were the members of the council, with Aubert de la Chesnaye, Le Moyne and all his sons, Louis Joliet, Jacques Le Ber, Sorel, Boucher, Varennes, and many more, all supported by the intendant Duchesneau, and also by his fast allies, the ecclesiastics. The faction under the lead of the governor had every advantage, for it was sustained by all the power of his office. Duchesneau was beside himself with rage. He wrote to the court letters full of bitterness, accused Frontenac of illicit trade, denounced his followers, and sent huge bundles of _procès-verbaux_ and attestations to prove his charges.
But if Duchesneau wrote letters, so too did Frontenac; and if the intendant sent proofs, so too did the governor. Upon the unfortunate king and the still more unfortunate minister fell the difficult task of composing the quarrels of their servants, three thousand miles away. They treated Duchesneau without ceremony. Colbert wrote to him: “I have examined all the letters, papers, and memorials that you sent me by the return of the vessels last November, and, though it appears by the letters of M. de Frontenac that his conduct leaves something to be desired, there is assuredly far more to blame in yours than in his. As to what you say concerning his violence, his trade with the Indians, and in general all that you allege against him, the king has written to him his intentions; but since, in the midst of all your complaints, you say many things which are without foundation, or which are no concern of yours, it is difficult to believe that you act in the spirit which the service of the king demands; that is to say, without interest and without passion. If a change does not appear in your conduct before next year, his Majesty will not keep you in your office.” [Footnote: _Colbert à Duchesneau_, 15 _Mai,_ 1678.]
At the same time, the king wrote to Frontenac, alluding to the complaints of Duchesneau, and exhorting the governor to live on good terms with him. The general tone of the letter is moderate, but the following significant warning occurs in it: “Although no gentleman in the position in which I have placed you ought to take part in any trade, directly or indirectly, either by himself or any of his servants, I nevertheless now prohibit you absolutely from doing so. Not only abstain from trade, but act in such a manner that nobody can even suspect you of it; and this will be easy, since the truth will readily come to light.” [Footnote: _Le Roy à Frontenac_, 12 _Mai_, 1678.] Exhortation and warning were vain alike. The first ships which returned that year from Canada brought a series of despatches from the intendant, renewing all his charges more bitterly than before. The minister, out of patience, replied by berating him without mercy. “You may rest assured,” he concludes, “that, did it not appear by your later despatches that the letters you have received have begun to make you understand that you have forgotten yourself, it would not have been possible to prevent the king from recalling you.” [Footnote: _Colbert à Duchesneau_, 25 _Avril_, 1679.] Duchesneau, in return, protests all manner of deference to the governor, but still insists that he sets the royal edicts at naught; protects a host of _coureurs de bois_ who are in league with him; corresponds with Du Lhut, their chief; shares his illegal profits, and causes all the disorders which afflict the colony. “As for me, Monseigneur, I have done every thing within the scope of my office to prevent these evils; but all the pains I have taken have only served to increase the aversion of Monsieur the governor against me, and to bring my ordinances into contempt. This, Monseigneur, is a true account of the disobedience of the _coureurs de bois_, of which I twice had the honor to speak to Monsieur the governor; and I could not help telling him, with all possible deference, that it was shameful to the colony and to us that the king, our master, of whom the whole world stands in awe, who has just given law to all Europe, and whom all his subjects adore, should have the pain of knowing that, in a country which has received so many marks of his paternal tenderness, his orders are violated and scorned; and a governor and an intendant stand by, with folded arms, content with saying that the evil is past remedy. For having made these representations to him, I drew on myself words so full of contempt and insult that I was forced to leave his room to appease his anger. The next morning I went to him again, and did all I could to have my ordinances executed; but, as Monsieur the governor is interested with many of the _coureurs de bois_, it is useless to attempt to do any thing. He has gradually made himself master of the trade of Montreal; and, as soon as the Indians arrive, he sets guards in their camp, which would be very well, if these soldiers did their duty and protected the savages from being annoyed and plundered by the French, instead of being employed to discover how many furs they have brought, with a view to future operations. Monsieur the governor then compels the Indians to pay his guards for protecting them; and he has never allowed them to trade with the inhabitants till they had first given him a certain number of packs of beaver skins, which he calls his presents. His guards trade with them openly at the fair, with their bandoleers on their shoulders.”
He says, farther, that Frontenac sends up goods to Montreal, and employs persons to trade in his behalf; and that, what with the beaver skins exacted by him and his guards under the name of presents, and those which he and his favorites obtain in trade, only the smaller part of what the Indians bring to market ever reaches the people of the colony. [Footnote: _Duchesneau au Ministre_, 10 _Nov.,_ 1679.]
This despatch, and the proofs accompanying it, drew from the king a sharp reproof to Frontenac.
“What has passed in regard to the _coureurs de bois_ is entirely contrary to my orders; and I cannot receive in excuse for it your allegation that it is the intendant who countenances them by the trade he carries on, for I perceive clearly that the fault is your own. As I see that you often turn the orders that I give you against the very object for which they are given, beware not to do so on this occasion. I shall hold you answerable for bringing the disorder of the _coureurs de bois_ to an end throughout Canada; and this you will easily succeed in doing, if you make a proper use of my authority. Take care not to persuade yourself that what I write to you comes from the ill offices of the intendant. It results from what I fully know from everything which reaches me from Canada, proving but too well what you are doing there. The bishop, the ecclesiastics, the Jesuit fathers, the Supreme Council, and, in a word, everybody, complain of you; but I am willing to believe that you will change your conduct, and act with the moderation necessary for the good of the colony.” [Footnote: _Le Roy à Frontenac_, 29 _Avril,_ 1680.]
Colbert wrote in a similar strain; and Frontenac saw that his position was becoming critical. He showed, it is true, no sign of that change of conduct which the king had demanded; but he appealed to his allies at court to use fresh efforts to sustain him. Among the rest, he had a strong friend in the Maréchal de Bellefonds, to whom he wrote, in the character of an abused and much-suffering man: “You exhort me to have patience, and I agree with you that those placed in a position of command cannot have too much. For this reason, I have given examples of it here such as perhaps no governor ever gave before; and I have found no great difficulty in doing so, because I felt myself to be the master. Had I been in a private station, I could not have endured such outrageous insults without dishonor. I have always passed over in silence those directed against me personally; and have never given way to anger, except when attacks were made on the authority of which I have the honor to be the guardian. You could not believe all the annoyances which the intendant tries to put upon me every day, and which, as you advise me, I scorn or disregard. It would require a virtue like yours to turn them to all the good use of which they are capable; yet, great as the virtue is which has enabled you to possess your soul in tranquillity amid all the troubles of the court, I doubt if you could preserve such complete equanimity among the miserable tumults of Canada.” [Footnote: _Frontenac au Maréchal de Bellefonds_, 14 _Nov.,_ 1680.]
Having given the principal charges of Duchesneau against Frontenac, it is time to give those of Frontenac against Duchesneau. The governor says that all the _coureurs de bois_ would be brought to submission but for the intendant and his allies, who protect them, and carry on trade by their means; that the seigniorial house of Duchesneau’s partner, La Chesnaye, is the constant resort of these outlaws; and that he and his associates have large storehouses at Montreal, Isle St. Paul, and Rivière du Loup, whence they send goods into the Indian country, in contempt of the king’s orders. [Footnote: _Mémoire et Preuves du Désordre des Coureurs de Bois._] Frontenac also complains of numberless provocations from the intendant. “It is no fault of mine that I am not on good terms with M. Duchesneau; for I have done every thing I could to that end, being too submissive to your Majesty’s commands not to suppress my sharpest indignation the moment your will is known to me. But, Sire, it is not so with him; and his desire to excite new disputes, in the hope of making me appear their principal author, has been so great that the last ships were hardly gone, when, forgetting what your Majesty had enjoined upon us both, he began these dissensions afresh, in spite of all my precautions. If I depart from my usual reserve in regard to him, and make bold to ask justice at the hands of your Majesty for the wrongs and insults I have undergone, it is because nothing but your authority can keep them within bounds. I have never suffered more in my life than when I have been made to appear as a man of violence and a disturber of the officers of justice: for I have always confined myself to what your Majesty has prescribed; that is, to exhorting them to do their duty when I saw that they failed in it. This has drawn upon me, both from them and from M. Duchesneau, such cutting affronts that your Majesty would hardly credit them.” [Footnote: _Frontenac au Roy,_ 2 _Nov.,_ 1681.]
In 1681, Seignelay, the son of Colbert, entered upon the charge of the colonies; and both Frontenac and Duchesneau hastened to congratulate him, protest their devotion, and overwhelm him with mutual accusations. The intendant declares that, out of pure zeal for the king’s service, he shall tell him every thing. “Disorder,” he says, “reigns everywhere; universal confusion prevails throughout every department of business; the pleasure of the king, the orders of the Supreme Council, and my ordinances remain unexecuted; justice is openly violated, and trade is destroyed; violence, upheld by authority, decides every thing; and nothing consoles the people, who groan without daring to complain, but the hope, Monseigneur, that you will have the goodness to condescend to be moved by their misfortunes. No position could be more distressing than mine, since, if I conceal the truth from you, I fail in the obedience I owe the king, and in the fidelity that I vowed so long since to Monseigneur, your father, and which I swear anew at your hands; and if I obey, as I must, his Majesty’s orders and yours, I cannot avoid giving offence, since I cannot render you an account of these disorders without informing you that M. de Frontenac’s conduct is the sole cause of them.” [Footnote: _Duchesneau au Ministre_, 13 _Nov_., 1681.]
Frontenac had written to Seignelay a few days before: “I have no doubt whatever that M. Duchesneau will, as usual, overwhelm me with fabrications and falsehoods, to cover his own ill conduct. I send proofs to justify myself, so strong and convincing that I do not see that they can leave any doubt; but, since I fear that their great number might fatigue you, I have thought it better to send them to my wife, with a full and exact journal of all that has passed here day by day, in order that she may extract and lay before you the principal portions.
“I send you in person merely the proofs of the conduct of M. Duchesneau, in barricading his house and arming all his servants, and in coming three weeks ago to insult me in my room. You will see thereby to what a pitch of temerity and lawlessness he has transported himself, in order to compel me to use violence against him, with the hope of justifying what he has asserted about my pretended outbreaks of anger.” [Footnote: _Frontenac au Ministre,_ 2 _Nov.,_ 1681.]
The mutual charges of the two functionaries were much the same; and, so far at least as concerns trade, there can be little doubt that they were well founded on both sides. The strife of the rival factions grew more and more bitter: canes and sticks played an active part in it, and now and then we hear of drawn swords. One is reminded at times of the intestine feuds of some mediæval city, as, for example, in the following incident, which will explain the charge of Frontenac against the intendant of barricading his house and arming his servants:–
On the afternoon of the twentieth of March, a son of Duchesneau, sixteen years old, followed by a servant named Vautier, was strolling along the picket fence which bordered the descent from the Upper to the Lower Town of Quebec. The boy was amusing himself by singing a song, when Frontenac’s partisan, Boisseau, with one of the guardsmen, approached, and, as young Duchesneau declares, called him foul names, and said that he would give him and his father a thrashing. The boy replied that he would have nothing to say to a fellow like him, and would beat him if he did not keep quiet; while the servant, Vautier, retorted Boisseau’s abuse, and taunted him with low birth and disreputable employments. Boisseau made report to Frontenac, and Frontenac complained to Duchesneau, who sent his son, with Vautier, to give the governor his version of the affair. The bishop, an ally of the intendant, thus relates what followed. On arriving with a party of friends at the château, young Duchesneau was shown into a room in which were the governor and his two secretaries, Barrois and Chasseur. He had no sooner entered than Frontenac seized him by the arm, shook him, struck him, called him abusive names, and tore the sleeve of his jacket. The secretaries interposed, and, failing to quiet the governor, opened the door and let the boy escape. Vautier, meanwhile, had remained in the guard-room, where Boisseau struck at him with his cane; and one of the guardsmen went for a halberd to run him through the body. After this warm reception, young Duchesneau and his servant took refuge in the house of his father. Frontenac demanded their surrender. The intendant, fearing that he would take them by force, for which he is said to have made preparation, barricaded himself and armed his household. The bishop tried to mediate, and after protracted negotiations young Duchesneau was given up, whereupon Frontenac locked him in a chamber of the chateau, and kept him there a month. [Footnote: _Mémoire de l’Évesque de Quebec, Mars,_ 1681 (printed in _Revue Canadienne,_ 1873). The bishop is silent about the barricades of which Frontenac and his friends complain in several letters.]
The story of Frontenac’s violence to the boy is flatly denied by his friends, who charge Duchesneau and his partisans with circulating libels against him, and who say, like Frontenac himself, that the intendant used every means to exasperate him, in order to make material for accusations. [Footnote: See, among other instances, the _Défense de M. de Frontenac par un de ses Amis,_ published by Abbé Verreau in the _Revue Canadienne,_ 1873.]
The disputes of the rival factions spread through all Canada. The most heinous offence in the eyes of the court with which each charged the other was the carrying of furs to the English settlements; thus defrauding the revenue, and, as the king believed, preparing the ruin of the colony. The intendant farther declared that the governor’s party spread among the Indians the report of a pestilence, at Montreal, in order to deter them from their yearly visit to the fair, and thus by means of _coureurs de bois_ obtain all their beaver skins at a low price. The report, according to Duchesneau, had no other foundation than the fate of eighteen or twenty Indians, who had lately drunk themselves to death at La Chine. [Footnote: _Plumitif du Conseil Souverain,_ 1681.]
Montreal, in the mean time, was the scene of a sort of by-play, in which the chief actor was the local governor, Perrot. He and Frontenac appear to have found it for their common interest to come to a mutual understanding; and this was perhaps easier on the part of the count, since his quarrel with Duchesneau gave sufficient employment to his natural pugnacity. Perrot was now left to make a reasonable profit from the illicit trade which had once kindled the wrath of his superior; and, the danger of Frontenac’s anger being removed, he completely forgot the lessons of his imprisonment.