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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps on this occasion Frontenac was too confident of his influence over the savage confederates. Such at least was the opinion of Lamberville, Jesuit missionary at Onondaga, the Iroquois capital. From what he daily saw around him, he thought the peril so imminent that concession on the part of the French was absolutely necessary, since not only the Illinois, but some of the tribes of the lakes, were in danger of speedy and complete destruction. “Tegannisorens loves the French,” he wrote to Frontenac, “but neither he nor any other of the upper Iroquois fear them in the least. They annihilate our allies, whom by adoption of prisoners they convert into Iroquois; and they do not hesitate to avow that after enriching themselves by our plunder, and strengthening themselves by those who might have aided us, they will pounce all at once upon Canada, and overwhelm it in a single campaign.” He adds that within the past two years they have reinforced themselves by more than nine hundred warriors, adopted into their tribes. [Footnote: _P. Jean de Lamberville à Frontenac_, 20 _Sept_., 1682.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next ship from France brought the following letter from the king:–

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


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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dongan presently received despatches from the English court, which showed him the necessity of caution; and, when next he wrote to his rival, it was with a chastened pen: “I hope your Excellency will be so kinde as not desire or seeke any correspondence with our Indians of this side of the Great lake (_Ontario_): if they doe amisse to any of your Governmt. and you make it known to me, you shall have all justice done.” He complained mildly that the Jesuits were luring their Iroquois converts to Canada; “and you must pardon me if I tell you that is not the right way to keepe fair correspondence. I am daily expecting Religious men from England, which I intend to put amongst those five nations. I desire you would order Monsr. de Lamberville that soe long as he stayes amongst those people he would meddle only with the affairs belonging to his function. Sir, I send you some Oranges, hearing that they are a rarity in your partes.” [Footnote: _Dongan to Denonville_, 20 _Juin_, 1687, in _N. Y. Col. Docs_., III. 465.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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