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houses,” properly so called, though the name was often given to fortified dwellings occupied only by the family. The French and Indian war-parties commonly avoided the true garrison houses, and very rarely captured them, except unawares; for their tactics were essentially Iroquois, and consisted, for the most part, in pouncing upon peaceful settlers by surprise, and generally in the night. Combatants and non-combatants were slaughtered together. By parading the number of slain, without mentioning that most of them were women and children, and by counting as forts mere private houses surrounded with palisades, Charlevoix and later writers have given the air of gallant exploits to acts which deserve a very different name. To attack military posts, like Casco and Pemaquid, was a legitimate act of war; but systematically to butcher helpless farmers and their families can hardly pass as such, except from the Iroquois point of view.

The chief alleged motive for this ruthless warfare was to prevent the people of New England from invading Canada, by giving them employment at home; though, in fact, they had never thought of invading Canada till after these attacks began. But for the intrigues of Denonville, the Bigots, Thury, and Saint-Castin, before war was declared, and the destruction of Salmon Falls after it, Phips’s expedition would never have taken place. By successful raids against the borders of New England, Frontenac roused the Canadians from their dejection, and prevented his red allies from deserting him; but, in so doing, he brought upon himself an enemy who, as Charlevoix himself says, asked only to be let alone. If there was a political necessity for butchering women and children on the frontier of New England, it was a necessity created by the French themselves.

There was no such necessity. Massachusetts was the only one of the New England colonies which took an aggressive part in the contest. Connecticut did little or nothing. Rhode Island was non-combatant through Quaker influence; and New Hampshire was too weak for offensive war. Massachusetts was in no condition to fight, nor was she impelled to do so by the home government. Canada was organized for war, and must fight at the bidding of the king, who made the war and paid for it. Massachusetts was organized for peace; and, if she chose an aggressive part, it was at her own risk and her own cost. She had had fighting enough already against infuriated savages far more numerous than the Iroquois, and poverty and political revolution made peace a necessity to her. If there was danger of another attack on Quebec, it was not from New England, but from Old; and no amount of frontier butchery could avert it.

Nor, except their inveterate habit of poaching on Acadian fisheries, had the people of New England provoked these barbarous attacks. They never even attempted to retaliate them, though the settlements of Acadia offered a safe and easy revenge. Once, it is true, they pillaged Beaubassin; but they killed nobody, though countless butcheries in settlements yet more defenceless were fresh in their memory. [Footnote: The people of Beaubassin had taken an oath of allegiance to England in 1690, and pleaded it as a reason for exemption from plunder; but it appears by French authorities that they had violated it (_Observations sur les Depêches touchant l’Acadie_, 1695), and their priest Baudoin had led a band of Micmacs to the attack of Wells (Villebon, _Journal_). When the “Bostonnais” captured Port Royal, they are described by the French as excessively irritated by the recent slaughter at Salmon Falls, yet the only revenge they took was plundering some of the inhabitants.]

With New York, a colony separate in government and widely sundered in local position, the case was different. Its rulers had instigated the Iroquois to attack Canada, possibly before the declaration of war, and certainly after it; and they had no right to complain of reprisal. Yet the frontier of New York was less frequently assailed, because it was less exposed; while that of New England was drenched in blood, because it was open to attack, because the Abenakis were convenient instruments for attacking it, because the adhesion of these tribes was necessary to the maintenance of French power in Acadia, and because this adhesion could best be secured by inciting them to constant hostility against the English. They were not only needed as the barrier of Canada against New England, but the French commanders hoped, by means of their tomahawks, to drive the English beyond the Piscataqua, and secure the whole of Maine to the French crown.

Who were answerable for these offences against Christianity and civilization? First, the king; and, next, the governors and military officers who were charged with executing his orders, and who often executed them with needless barbarity. But a far different responsibility rests on the missionary priests, who hounded their converts on the track of innocent blood. The Acadian priests are not all open to this charge. Some of them are even accused of being too favorable to the English; while others gave themselves to their proper work, and neither abused their influence, nor perverted their teaching to political ends. The most prominent among the apostles of carnage, at this time, are the Jesuit Bigot on the Kennebec, and the seminary priest Thury on the Penobscot. There is little doubt that the latter instigated attacks on the English frontier before the war, and there is conclusive evidence that he had a hand in repeated forays after it began. Whether acting from fanaticism, policy, or an odious compound of both, he was found so useful, that the minister Ponchartrain twice wrote him letters of commendation, praising him in the same breath for his care of the souls of the Indians and his zeal in exciting them to war. “There is no better man,” says an Acadian official, “to prompt the savages to any enterprise.” [Footnote: Tibièrge, _Mémoire sur l’Acadie_, 1695.] The king was begged to reward him with money; and Ponchartrain wrote to the bishop of Quebec to increase his pay out of the allowance furnished by the government to the Acadian clergy, because he, Thury, had persuaded the Abenakis to begin the war anew. [1]

The French missionaries are said to have made use of singular methods to excite their flocks against the heretics. The Abenaki chief Bomaseen, when a prisoner at Boston in 1696, declared that they told the Indians that Jesus Christ was a Frenchman, and his mother, the Virgin, a French lady; that the English had murdered him, and that the best way to gain his favor was to revenge his death. [Footnote: Mather, _Magnalia_, II. 629. Compare Dummer, _Memorial_, 1709, in _Mass. Hist. Coll_., 3 _Ser_., I., and the same writer’s _Letter to a Noble Lord concerning the Late Expedition to Canada_, 1712. Dr. Charles T. Jackson, the geologist, when engaged in the survey of Maine in 1836, mentions, as an example of the simplicity of the Acadians of Madawaska, that one of them asked him “if Bethlehem, where Christ was born, was not a town in France.” _First Report on the Geology of Maine_, 72. Here, perhaps, is a tradition from early missionary teaching.]

Whether or not these articles of faith formed a part of the teachings of Thury and his fellow-apostles, there is no doubt that it was a recognized part of their functions to keep their converts in hostility to the English, and that their credit with the civil powers depended on their success in doing so. The same holds true of the priests of the mission villages in Canada. They avoided all that might impair the warlike spirit of the neophyte, and they were well aware that in savages the warlike spirit is mainly dependent on native ferocity. They taught temperance, conjugal fidelity, devotion to the rites of their religion, and submission to the priest; but they left the savage a savage still. In spite of the remonstrances of the civil authorities, the mission Indian was separated as far as possible from intercourse with the French, and discouraged from learning the French tongue. He wore a crucifix, hung wampum on the shrine of the Virgin, told his beads, prayed three times a day, knelt for hours before the Host, invoked the saints, and confessed to the priest; but, with rare exceptions, he murdered, scalped, and tortured like his heathen countrymen. [2]

The picture has another side, which must not pass unnoticed. Early in the war, the French of Canada began the merciful practice of buying English prisoners, and especially children, from their Indian allies. After the first fury of attack, many lives were spared for the sake of this ransom. Sometimes, but not always, the redeemed captives were made to work for their benefactors. They were uniformly treated well, and often with such kindness that they would not be exchanged, and became Canadians by adoption.

Villebon was still full of anxiety as to the adhesion of the Abenakis. Thury saw the danger still more clearly, and told Frontenac that their late attack at Oyster River was due more to levity than to any other cause; that they were greatly alarmed, wavering, half stupefied, afraid of the English, and distrustful of the French, whom they accused of using them as tools. [Footnote: _Thury à Frontenac_, 11 _Sept_., 1694.] It was clear that something must be done; and nothing could answer the purpose so well as the capture of Pemaquid, that English stronghold which held them in constant menace, and at the same time tempted them by offers of goods at a low rate. To the capture of Pemaquid, therefore, the French government turned its thoughts.

One Pascho Chubb, of Andover, commanded the post, with a garrison of ninety-five militia-men. Stoughton, governor of Massachusetts, had written to the Abenakis, upbraiding them for breaking the peace, and ordering them to bring in their prisoners without delay. The Indians of Bigot’s mission, that is to say, Bigot in their name, retorted by a letter to the last degree haughty and abusive. Those of Thury’s mission, however, were so anxious to recover their friends held in prison at Boston that they came to Pemaquid, and opened a conference with Chubb. The French say that they meant only to deceive him. [Footnote: Villebon, _Journal_, 1694-1696.] This does not justify the Massachusetts officer, who, by an act of odious treachery, killed several of them, and captured the chief, Egeremet. Nor was this the only occasion on which the English had acted in bad faith. It was but playing into the hands of the French, who saw with delight that the folly of their enemies had aided their own intrigues. [Footnote: _N. Y. Col Docs._, IX. 613, 616, 642, 643; La Potherie, III. 258; _Calières au Mlnistre_, 25 _Oct_., 1695; _Rev. John Pike to Governor and Council_, 7 _Jan_., 1694 (1695), in Johnston, _Hist. of Bristol and Bremen_; Hutchinson, _Hist. Mass._, II. 81, 90.]

Early in 1696, two ships of war, the “Envieux” and the “Profond,” one commanded by Iberville and the other by Bonaventure, sailed from Rochefort to Quebec, where they took on board eighty troops and Canadians; then proceeded to Cape Breton, embarked thirty Micmac Indians, and steered for the St. John. Here they met two British frigates and a provincial tender belonging to Massachusetts. A fight ensued. The forces were very unequal. The “Newport,” of twenty-four guns, was dismasted and taken; but her companion frigate along with the tender escaped in the fog. The French then anchored at the mouth of the St. John, where Villebon and the priest Simon were waiting for them, with fifty more Micmacs. Simon and the Indians went on board; and they all sailed for Pentegoet, where Villieu, with twenty-five soldiers, and Thury and Saint-Castin, with some three hundred Abenakis, were ready to join them. After the usual feasting, these new allies paddled for Pemaquid; the ships followed; and on the next day, the fourteenth of August, they all reached their destination.

The fort of Pemaquid stood at the west side of the promontory of the same name, on a rocky point at the mouth of Pemaquid River. It was a quadrangle, with ramparts of rough stone, built at great pains and cost, but exposed to artillery, and incapable of resisting heavy shot. The government of Massachusetts, with its usual military fatuity, had placed it in the keeping of an unfit commander, and permitted some of the yeoman garrison to bring their wives and children to this dangerous and important post.

Saint-Castin and his Indians landed at New Harbor, half a league from the fort. Troops and cannon were sent ashore; and, at five o’clock in the afternoon, Chubb was summoned to surrender. He replied that he would fight, “even if the sea were covered with French ships and the land with Indians.” The firing then began; and the Indian marksmen, favored by the nature of the ground, ensconced themselves near the fort, well covered from its cannon. During the night, mortars and heavy ships’ guns were landed, and by great exertion were got into position, the two priests working lustily with the rest. They opened fire at three o’clock on the next day. Saint-Castin had just before sent Chubb a letter, telling him that, if the garrison were obstinate, they would get no quarter, and would be butchered by the Indians. Close upon this message followed four or five bomb-shells. Chubb succumbed immediately, sounded a parley, and gave up the fort, on condition that he and his men should be protected from the Indians, sent to Boston, and exchanged for French and Abenaki prisoners. They all marched out without arms; and Iberville, true to his pledge, sent them to an island in the bay, beyond the reach of his red allies. Villieu took possession of the fort, where an Indian prisoner was found in irons, half dead from long confinement. This so enraged his countrymen that a massacre would infallibly have taken place but for the precaution of Iberville. The cannon of Pemaquid were carried on board the ships, and the small arms and ammunition given to the Indians. Two days were spent in destroying the works, and then the victors withdrew in triumph. Disgraceful as was the prompt surrender of the fort, it may be doubted if, even with the best defence, it could have held out many days; for it had no casemates, and its occupants were defenceless against the explosion of shells. Chubb was arrested for cowardice on his return, and remained some months in prison. After his release, he returned to his family at Andover, twenty miles from Boston; and here, in the year following, he and his wife were killed by Indians, who seem to have pursued him to this apparently safe asylum to take revenge for his treachery toward their countrymen. [Footnote: Baudoin, _Journal d’un Voyage fait avec M. d’Iberville_. Baudoin was an Acadian priest, who accompanied the expedition, which he describes in detail. _Relation de ce qui s’est passé, etc., 1695, 1696; Des Goutins au Ministre, 23 Sept., 1696_; Hutchinson, _Hist. Mass._, II 89; Mather, _Magnalia_, II. 633. A letter from Chubb, asking to be released from prison, is preserved in the archives of Massachusetts. I have examined the site of the fort, the remains of which are still distinct.]

The people of Massachusetts, compelled by a royal order to build and maintain Pemaquid, had no love for it, and underrated its importance. Having been accustomed to spend their money as they themselves saw fit, they revolted at compulsion, though exercised for their good. Pemaquid was nevertheless of the utmost value for the preservation of their hold on Maine, and its conquest was a crowning triumph to the French.

The conquerors now projected a greater exploit. The Marquis de Nesmond, with a powerful squadron of fifteen ships, including some of the best in the royal navy, sailed for Newfoundland, with orders to defeat an English squadron supposed to be there, and then to proceed to the mouth of the Penobscot, where he was to be joined by the Abenaki warriors and fifteen hundred troops from Canada. The whole united force was then to fall upon Boston. The French had an exact knowledge of the place. Meneval, when a prisoner there, lodged in the house of John Nelson, had carefully examined it; and so also had the Chevalier d’Aux; while La Motte-Cadillac had reconnoitred the town and harbor before the war began. An accurate map of them was made for the use of the expedition, and the plan of operations was arranged with great care. Twelve hundred troops and Canadians were to land with artillery at Dorchester, and march at once to force the barricade across the neck of the peninsula on which the town stood. At the same time, Saint-Castin was to land at Noddle’s Island, with a troop of Canadians and all the Indians; pass over in canoes to Charlestown; and, after mastering it, cross to the north point of Boston, which would thus be attacked at both ends. During these movements, two hundred soldiers were to seize the battery on Castle Island, and then land in front of the town near Long Wharf, under the guns of the fleet. Boston had about seven thousand inhabitants, but, owing to the seafaring habits of the people, many of its best men were generally absent; and, in the belief of the French, its available force did not much exceed eight hundred. “There are no soldiers in the place,” say the directions for attack, “at least there were none last September, except the garrison from Pemaquid, who do not deserve the name.” An easy victory was expected. After Boston was taken, the land forces, French and Indian, were to march on Salem, and thence northward to Portsmouth, conquering as they went; while the ships followed along the coast to lend aid, when necessary. All captured places were to be completely destroyed after removing all valuable property. A portion of this plunder was to be abandoned to the officers and men, in order to encourage them, and the rest stowed in the ships for transportation to France. [3]

Notice of the proposed expedition had reached Frontenac in the spring; and he began at once to collect men, canoes, and supplies for the long and arduous march to the rendezvous. He saw clearly the uncertainties of the attempt; but, in spite of his seventy-seven years, he resolved to command the land force in person. He was ready in June, and waited only to hear from Nesmond. The summer passed; and it was not till September that a ship reached Quebec with a letter from the marquis, telling him that head winds had detained the fleet till only fifty days’ provision remained, and it was too late for action. The enterprise had completely failed, and even at Newfoundland nothing was accomplished. It proved a positive advantage to New England, since a host of Indians, who would otherwise have been turned loose upon the borders, were gathered by Saint-Castin at the Penobscot to wait for the fleet, and kept there idle all summer. It is needless to dwell farther on the war in Acadia. There were petty combats by land and sea; Villieu was captured and carried to Boston; a band of New England rustics made a futile attempt to dislodge Villebon from his fort at Naxouat; while, throughout the contest, rivalry and jealousy rankled among the French officials, who continually maligned each other in tell-tale letters to the court. Their hope that the Abenakis would force back the English boundary to the Piscataqua was never fulfilled. At Kittery, at Wells, and even among the ashes of York, the stubborn settlers held their ground, while war-parties prowled along the whole frontier, from the Kennebec to the Connecticut. A single incident will show the nature of the situation, and the qualities which it sometimes called forth. Early in the spring that followed the capture of Pemaquid, a band of Indians fell, after daybreak, on a number of farm-houses near the village of Haverhill. One of them belonged to a settler named Dustan, whose wife Hannah had borne a child a week before, and lay in the house, nursed by Mary Neff, one of her neighbors. Dustan had gone to his work in a neighboring field, taking with him his seven children, of whom the youngest was two years old. Hearing the noise of the attack, he told them to run to the nearest fortified house, a mile or more distant, and, snatching up his gun, threw himself on one of his horses and galloped towards his own house to save his wife. It was too late: the Indians were already there. He now thought only of saving his children; and, keeping behind them as they ran, he fired on the pursuing savages, and held them at bay till he and his flock reached a place of safety. Meanwhile, the house was set on fire, and his wife and the nurse carried off. Her husband, no doubt, had given her up as lost, when, weeks after, she reappeared, accompanied by Mary Neff and a boy, and bringing ten Indian scalps. Her story was to the following effect.

The Indians had killed the new-born child by dashing it against a tree, after which the mother and the nurse were dragged into the forest, where they found a number of friends and neighbors, their fellows in misery. Some of these were presently tomahawked, and the rest divided among their captors. Hannah Dustan and the nurse fell to the share of a family consisting of two warriors, three squaws, and seven children, who separated from the rest, and, hunting as they went, moved northward towards an Abenaki village, two hundred and fifty miles distant, probably that of the mission on the Chaudière. Every morning, noon, and evening, they told their beads, and repeated their prayers. An English boy, captured at Worcester, was also of the party. After a while, the Indians began to amuse themselves by telling the women that, when they reached the village, they would be stripped, made to run the gauntlet, and severely beaten, according to custom.

Hannah Dustan now resolved on a desperate effort to escape, and Mary Neff and the boy agreed to join in it. They were in the depths of the forest, half way on their journey, and the Indians, who had no distrust of them, were all asleep about their camp fire, when, late in the night, the two women and the boy took each a hatchet, and crouched silently by the bare heads of the unconscious savages. Then they all struck at once, with blows so rapid and true that ten of the twelve were killed before they were well awake. One old squaw sprang up wounded, and ran screeching into the forest, followed by a small boy whom they had purposely left unharmed. Hannah Dustan and her companions watched by the corpses till daylight; then the Amazon scalped them all, and the three made their way back to the settlements, with the trophies of their exploit. [Footnote: This story is told by Mather, who had it from the women themselves, and by Niles, Hutchinson, and others. An entry in the contemporary journal of Rev. John Pike fully confirms it. The facts were notorious at the time. Hannah Dustan and her companions received a bounty of £50 for their ten scalps; and the governor of Maryland, hearing of what they had done, sent them a present.]

[1] “Les témoignages qu’on a rendu à Sa Majesté de l’affection et du zêle du Sr. de Thury, missionaire chez les Canibas (_Abenakis_), pour son service, et particulièrement dans l’engagement où il a mis les Sauvages de recommencer la guerre contre les Anglois, m’oblige de vous prier de luy faire une plus forte part sur les 1,500 livres de gratification que Sa Majesté accorde pour les ecclésiastiques de l’Acadie.” _Le Ministre à l’Évesque de Québec_, 16 _Avril_, 1695.

“Je suis bien aise de me servir de cette occasion pour vous dire que j’ay esté informé, non seulement de vostre zêle et de vostre application pour vostre mission, et du progrès qu’elle fait pour l’avancement de la religion avec les sauvages, mais encore de vos soins pour les maintenir dans le service de Sa Majesté et pour les encourager aux expeditions de guerre.” _Le Ministre à Thury_, 28 _Avril_, 1697. The other letter to Thury, written two years before, is of the same tenor.

[2] The famous Ouréhaoué, who had been for years under the influence of the priests, and who, as Charlevoix says, died “un vrai Chrétien,” being told on his death-bed how Christ was crucified by the Jews, exclaimed with fervor: “Ah! why was not I there? I would have revenged him: I would have had their scalps.” La Potherie, IV. 91. Charlevoix, after his fashion on such occasions, suppresses the revenge and the scalping, and instead makes the dying Christian say, “I would have prevented them from so treating my God.”

The savage custom of forcing prisoners to run the gauntlet, and sometimes beating them to death as they did so, was continued at two, if not all, of the mission villages down to the end of the French domination. General Stark of the Revolution, when a young man, was subjected to this kind of torture at St. Francis, but saved himself by snatching a club from one of the savages, and knocking the rest to the right and left as he ran. The practice was common, and must have had the consent of the priests of the mission.

At the Sulpitian mission of the Mountain of Montreal, unlike the rest, the converts were taught to speak French and practise mechanical arts. The absence of such teaching in other missions was the subject of frequent complaint, not only from Frontenac, but from other officers. La Motte-Cadillac writes bitterly on the subject, and contrasts the conduct of the French priests with that of the English ministers, who have taught many Indians to read and write, and reward them for teaching others in turn, which they do, he says, with great success. _Mémoire contenant une Description détaillée de l’Acadie, etc._, 1693. In fact, Eliot and his co-workers took great pains in this respect. There were at this time thirty Indian churches in New England, according to the _Diary of President Stiles_, cited by Holmes.

[3] _Mémoire sur l’Entreprise de Boston, pour M. le Marquis de Nesmond, Versailles, 21 Avril, 1697; Instruction à M. le Marquis de Nesmond, même date; Le Roy à Frontenac, même date; Le Roy à Frontenac et Champigny 27 Avril, 1697; Le Ministre à Nesmond, 28 Avril, 1697; Ibid., 15 Juin, 1697; Frontenac au Ministre, 15 Oct., 1697; Carte de Baston, par le Sr. Franquelin, 1697_. This is the map made for the use of the expedition. A _fac-simile_ of it is before me. The conquest of New York had originally formed part of the plan. _Lagny au Ministre, 20 Jan., 1695_. Even as it was, too much was attempted, and the scheme was fatally complicated by the operations at Newfoundland. Four years before, a projected attack on Quebec by a British fleet, under Admiral Wheeler, had come to nought from analogous causes.

The French spared no pains to gain accurate information as to the strength of the English settlements. Among other reports on this subject there is a curious _Mémoire sur les Établissements anglois au delà de Pemaquid, jusqu’a Baston_. It was made just after the capture of Pemaquid, with a view to further operations. Saco is described as a small fort a league above the mouth of the river Saco, with four cannon, but fit only to resist Indians. At Wells, it says, all the settlers have sought refuge in four _petits forts_, of which the largest holds perhaps 20 men, besides women and children. At York, all the people have gathered into one fort, where there are about 40 men. At Portsmouth there is a fort, of slight account, and about a hundred houses. This neighborhood, no doubt including Kittery, can furnish at most about 300 men. At the Isles of Shoals there are some 280 fishermen, who are absent, except on Sundays. In the same manner, estimates are made for every village and district as far as Boston.

CHAPTER XVIII.

1693-1697.

FRENCH AND ENGLISH RIVALRY.

LE MOYNE D’IBERVILLE.–HIS EXPLOITS IN NEWFOUNDLAND.–IN HUDSON’S BAY.–THE GREAT PRIZE.–THE COMPETITORS.–FATAL POLICY OF THE KING.– THE IROQUOIS QUESTION.–NEGOTIATION.–FIRMNESS OF FRONTENAC.–ENGLISH INTERVENTION.–WAR RENEWED.–STATE OF THE WEST.–INDIAN DIPLOMACY.– CRUEL MEASURES.–A PERILOUS CRISIS.–AUDACITY OF FRONTENAC.

No Canadian, under the French rule, stands in a more conspicuous or more deserved eminence than Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville. In the seventeenth century, most of those who acted a prominent part in the colony were born in Old France; but Iberville was a true son of the soil. He and his brothers, Longueuil, Serigny, Assigny, Maricourt, Sainte-Hélène, the two Châteauguays, and the two Bienvilles, were, one and all, children worthy of their father, Charles Le Moyne of Montreal, and favorable types of that Canadian _noblesse_, to whose adventurous hardihood half the continent bears witness. Iberville was trained in the French navy, and was already among its most able commanders. The capture of Pemaquid was, for him, but the beginning of greater things; and, though the exploits that followed were outside the main theatre of action, they were too remarkable to be passed in silence.

The French had but one post of any consequence on the Island of Newfoundland, the fort and village at Placentia Bay; while the English fishermen had formed a line of settlements two or three hundred miles along the eastern coast. Iberville had represented to the court the necessity of checking their growth, and to that end a plan was settled, in connection with the expedition against Pemaquid. The ships of the king were to transport the men; while Iberville and others associated with him were to pay them, and divide the plunder as their compensation. The chronicles of the time show various similar bargains between the great king and his subjects.

Pemaquid was no sooner destroyed, than Iberville sailed for Newfoundland, with the eighty men he had taken at Quebec; and, on arriving, he was joined by as many more, sent him from the same place. He found Brouillan, governor of Placentia, with a squadron formed largely of privateers from St. Malo, engaged in a vain attempt to seize St. John, the chief post of the English. Brouillan was a man of harsh, jealous, and impracticable temper; and it was with the utmost difficulty that he and Iberville could act in concert. They came at last to an agreement, made a combined attack on St. John, took it, and burned it to the ground. Then followed a new dispute about the division of the spoils. At length it was settled. Brouillan went back to Placentia, and Iberville and his men were left to pursue their conquests alone.

There were no British soldiers on the island. The settlers were rude fishermen without commanders, and, according to the French accounts, without religion or morals. In fact, they are described as “worse than Indians.” Iberville now had with him a hundred and twenty-five soldiers and Canadians, besides a few Abenakis from Acadia. [Footnote: The reinforcement sent him from Quebec consisted of fifty soldiers, thirty Canadians, and three officers. _Frontenac au Ministre_, 28 _Oct_., 1696.] It was mid-winter when he began his march. For two months he led his hardy band through frost and snow, from hamlet to hamlet, along those forlorn and desolate coasts, attacking each in turn and carrying havoc everywhere. Nothing could exceed the hardships of the way, or the vigor with which they were met and conquered. The chaplain Baudoin gives an example of them in his diary. “January 18th. The roads are so bad that we can find only twelve men strong enough to beat the path. Our snow-shoes break on the crust, and against the rocks and fallen trees hidden under the snow, which catch and trip us; but, for all that, we cannot help laughing to see now one, and now another, fall headlong. The Sieur de Martigny fell into a river, and left his gun and his sword there to save his life.” A panic seized the settlers, many of whom were without arms as well as without leaders. They imagined the Canadians to be savages, who scalped and butchered like the Iroquois. Their resistance was feeble and incoherent, and Iberville carried all before him. Every hamlet was pillaged and burned; and, according to the incredible report of the French writers, two hundred persons were killed and seven hundred captured, though it is admitted that most of the prisoners escaped. When spring opened, all the English settlements were destroyed, except the post of Bonavista and the Island of Carbonnière, a natural fortress in the sea. Iberville returned to Placentia, to prepare for completing his conquest, when his plans were broken by the arrival of his brother Serigny, with orders to proceed at once against the English at Hudson’s Bay. [1]

It was the nineteenth of May, when Serigny appeared with five ships of war, the “Pelican,” the “Palmier,” the “Wesp,” the “Profond,” and the “Violent.” The important trading-post of Fort Nelson, called Fort Bourbon by the French, was the destined object of attack. Iberville and Serigny had captured it three years before, but the English had retaken it during the past summer, and, as it commanded the fur-trade of a vast interior region, a strong effort was now to be made for its recovery. Iberville took command of the “Pelican,” and his brother of the “Palmier.” They sailed from Placentia early in July, followed by two other ships of the squadron, and a vessel carrying stores. Before the end of the month they entered the bay, where they were soon caught among masses of floating ice. The store-ship was crushed and lost, and the rest were in extreme danger. The “Pelican” at last extricated herself, and sailed into the open sea; but her three consorts were nowhere to be seen. Iberville steered for Fort Nelson, which was several hundred miles distant, on the western shore of this dismal inland sea. He had nearly reached it, when three sail hove in sight; and he did not doubt that they were his missing ships. They proved, however, to be English armed merchantmen: the “Hampshire” of fifty-two guns, and the “Daring” and the “Hudson’s Bay” of thirty-six and thirty-two. The “Pelican” carried but forty-four, and she was alone. A desperate battle followed, and from half past nine to one o’clock the cannonade was incessant. Iberville kept the advantage of the wind, and, coming at length to close quarters with the “Hampshire,” gave her repeated broadsides between wind and water, with such effect that she sank with all on board. He next closed with the “Hudson’s Bay,” which soon struck her flag; while the “Daring” made sail, and escaped. The “Pelican” was badly damaged in hull, masts, and rigging; and the increasing fury of a gale from the east made her position more critical every hour. She anchored, to escape being driven ashore; but the cables parted, and she was stranded about two leagues from the fort. Here, racked by the waves and the tide, she split amidships; but most of the crew reached land with their weapons and ammunition. The northern winter had already begun, and the snow lay a foot deep in the forest. Some of them died from cold and exhaustion, and the rest built huts and kindled fires to warm and dry themselves. Food was so scarce that their only hope of escape from famishing seemed to lie in a desperate effort to carry the fort by storm, but now fortune interposed. The three ships they had left behind in the ice arrived with all the needed succors. Men, cannon, and mortars were sent ashore, and the attack began. Fort Nelson was a palisade work, garrisoned by traders and other civilians in the employ of the English fur company, and commanded by one of its agents, named Bailey. Though it had a considerable number of small cannon, it was incapable of defence against any thing but musketry; and the French bombs soon made it untenable. After being three times summoned, Bailey lowered his flag, though not till he had obtained honorable terms; and he and his men marched out with arms and baggage, drums beating and colors flying. Iberville had triumphed over the storms, the icebergs, and the English. The north had seen his prowess, and another fame awaited him in the regions of the sun; for he became the father of Louisiana, and his brother Bienville founded New Orleans. [Footnote: On the capture of Fort Nelson, _Iberville au Ministre, 8 Nov., 1697_; Jérémie, _Relation de la Baye de Hudson_; La Potherie, I. 86-109. All these writers were present at the attack.]

These northern conflicts were but episodes. In Hudson’s Bay, Newfoundland, and Acadia, the issues of the war were unimportant, compared with the momentous question whether France or England should be mistress of the west; that is to say, of the whole interior of the continent. There was a strange contrast in the attitude of the rival colonies towards this supreme prize: the one was inert, and seemingly indifferent; the other, intensely active. The reason is obvious enough. The English colonies were separate, jealous of the crown and of each other, and incapable as yet of acting in concert. Living by agriculture and trade, they could prosper within limited areas, and had no present need of spreading beyond the Alleghanies. Each of them was an aggregate of persons, busied with their own affairs, and giving little heed to matters which did not immediately concern them. Their rulers, whether chosen by themselves or appointed in England, could not compel them to become the instruments of enterprises in which the sacrifice was present, and the advantage remote. The neglect in which the English court left them, though wholesome in most respects, made them unfit for aggressive action; for they had neither troops, commanders, political union, military organization, nor military habits. In communities so busy, and governments so popular, much could not be done, in war, till the people were roused to the necessity of doing it; and that awakening was still far distant. Even New York, the only exposed colony, except Massachusetts and New Hampshire, regarded the war merely as a nuisance to be held at arm’s length. [Footnote: See note at the end of the chapter.]

In Canada, all was different. Living by the fur trade, she needed free range and indefinite space. Her geographical position determined the nature of her pursuits; and her pursuits developed the roving and adventurous character of her people, who, living under a military rule, could be directed at will to such ends as their rulers saw fit. The grand French scheme of territorial extension was not born at court, but sprang from Canadian soil, and was developed by the chiefs of the colony, who, being on the ground, saw the possibilities and requirements of the situation, and generally had a personal interest in realizing them. The rival colonies had two different laws of growth. The one increased by slow extension, rooting firmly as it spread; the other shot offshoots, with few or no roots, far out into the wilderness. It was the nature of French colonization to seize upon detached strategic points, and hold them by the bayonet, forming no agricultural basis, but attracting the Indians by trade, and holding them by conversion. A musket, a rosary, and a pack of beaver skins may serve to represent it, and in fact it consisted of little else.

Whence came the numerical weakness of New France, and the real though latent strength of her rivals? Because, it is answered, the French were not an emigrating people; but, at the end of the seventeenth century, this was only half true. The French people were divided into two parts, one eager to emigrate, and the other reluctant. The one consisted of the persecuted Huguenots, the other of the favored Catholics. The government chose to construct its colonies, not of those who wished to go, but of those who wished to stay at home. From the hour when the edict of Nantes was revoked, hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen would have hailed as a boon the permission to transport themselves, their families, and their property to the New World. The permission was fiercely refused, and the persecuted sect was denied even a refuge in the wilderness. Had it been granted them, the valleys of the west would have swarmed with a laborious and virtuous population, trained in adversity, and possessing the essential qualities of self-government. Another France would have grown beyond the Alleghanies, strong with the same kind of strength that made the future greatness of the British colonies. British America was an asylum for the oppressed and the suffering of all creeds and nations, and population poured into her by the force of a natural tendency. France, like England, might have been great in two hemispheres, if she had placed herself in accord with this tendency, instead of opposing it; but despotism was consistent with itself, and a mighty opportunity was for ever lost.

As soon could the Ethiopian change his skin as the priest-ridden king change his fatal policy of exclusion. Canada must be bound to the papacy, even if it blasted her. The contest for the west must be waged by the means which Bourbon policy ordained, and which, it must be admitted, had some great advantages of their own, when controlled by a man like Frontenac. The result hung, for the present, on the relations of the French with the Iroquois and the tribes of the lakes, the Illinois, and the valley of the Ohio, but, above all, on their relations with the Iroquois; for, could they be conquered or won over, it would be easy to deal with the rest. Frontenac was meditating a grand effort to inflict such castigation as would bring them to reason, when one of their chiefs, named Tareha, came to Quebec with overtures of peace. The Iroquois had lost many of their best warriors. The arrival of troops from France had discouraged them; the war had interrupted their hunting; and, having no furs to barter with the English, they were in want of arms, ammunition, and all the necessaries of life. Moreover, Father Milet, nominally a prisoner among them, but really an adopted chief, had used all his influence to bring about a peace; and the mission of Tareha was the result. Frontenac received him kindly. “My Iroquois children have been drunk; but I will give them an opportunity to repent. Let each of your five nations send me two deputies, and I will listen to what they have to say.” They would not come, but sent him instead an invitation to meet them and their friends, the English, in a general council at Albany; a proposal which he rejected with contempt. Then they sent another deputation, partly to him and partly to their Christian countrymen of the Saut and the Mountain, inviting all alike to come and treat with them at Onondaga. Frontenac, adopting the Indian fashion, kicked away their wampum belts, rebuked them for tampering with the mission Indians, and told them that they were rebels, bribed by the English; adding that, if a suitable deputation should be sent to Quebec to treat squarely of peace, he still would listen, but that, if they came back with any more such proposals as they had just made, they should be roasted alive. A few weeks later, the deputation appeared. It consisted of two chiefs of each nation, headed by the renowned orator Decanisora, or, as the French wrote the name, Tegannisorens. The council was held in the hall of the supreme council at Quebec. The dignitaries of the colony were present, with priests, Jesuits, Récollets, officers, and the Christian chiefs of the Saut and the Mountain. The appearance of the ambassadors bespoke their destitute plight; for they were all dressed in shabby deerskins and old blankets, except Decanisora, who was attired in a scarlet coat laced with gold, given him by the governor of New York. Colden, who knew him in his old age, describes him as a tall, well-formed man, with a face not unlike the busts of Cicero. “He spoke,” says the French reporter, “with as perfect a grace as is vouchsafed to an uncivilized people;” buried the hatchet, covered the blood that had been spilled, opened the roads, and cleared the clouds from the sun. In other words, he offered peace; but he demanded at the same time that it should include the English. Frontenac replied, in substance: “My children are right to come submissive and repentant. I am ready to forgive the past, and hang up the hatchet; but the peace must include all my other children, far and near. Shut your ears to English poison. The war with the English has nothing to do with you, and only the great kings across the sea have power to stop it. You must give up all your prisoners, both French and Indian, without one exception. I will then return mine, and make peace with you, but not before.” He then entertained them at his own table, gave them a feast described as “magnificent,” and bestowed gifts so liberally, that the tattered ambassadors went home in embroidered coats, laced shirts, and plumed hats. They were pledged to return with the prisoners before the end of the season, and they left two hostages as security. [Footnote: On these negotiations, and their antecedents, Callières, _Relation de ce qui s’est passé de plus remarquable en Canada depuis Sept., 1692, jusqu’au Départ des Vaisseaux en 1693_; La Motte-Cadillac, _Mémoire des Negociations avec les Iroquois, 1694; Callières au Ministre, 19 Oct., 1694_; La Potherie, III. 200-220; Colden, _Five Nations_, chap. x.;_ N. Y. Col. Docs._, IV. 85.]

Meanwhile, the authorities of New York tried to prevent the threatened peace. First, Major Peter Schuyler convoked the chiefs at Albany, and told them that, if they went to ask peace in Canada, they would be slaves for ever. The Iroquois declared that they loved the English, but they repelled every attempt to control their action. Then Fletcher, the governor, called a general council at the same place, and told them that they should not hold councils with the French, or that, if they did so, they should hold them at Albany in presence of the English. Again they asserted their rights as an independent people. “Corlaer,” said their speaker, “has held councils with our enemies, and why should not we hold councils with his?” Yet they were strong in assurances of friendship, and declared themselves “one head, one heart, one blood, and one soul, with the English.” Their speaker continued: “Our only reason for sending deputies to the French is that we are brought so low, and none of our neighbors help us, but leave us to bear all the burden of the war. Our brothers of New England, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, all of their own accord took hold of the covenant chain, and called themselves our allies; but they have done nothing to help us, and we cannot fight the French alone, because they are always receiving soldiers from beyond the Great Lake. Speak from your heart, brother: will you and your neighbors join with us, and make strong war against the French? If you will, we will break off all treaties, and fight them as hotly as ever; but, if you will not help us, we must make peace.” Nothing could be more just than these reproaches; and, if the English governor had answered by a vigorous attack on the French forts south of the St. Lawrence, the Iroquois warriors would have raised the hatchet again with one accord. But Fletcher was busy with other matters; and he had besides no force at his disposal but four companies, the only British regulars on the continent, defective in numbers, ill-appointed, and mutinous. [Footnote: Fletcher is, however, charged with gross misconduct in regard to the four companies, which he is said to have kept at about half their complement, in order to keep the balance of their pay for himself.] Therefore he answered not with acts, but with words. The negotiation with the French went on, and Fletcher called another council. It left him in a worse position than before. The Iroquois again asked for help: he could not promise it, but was forced to yield the point, and tell them that he consented to their making peace with Onontio. It is certain that they wanted peace, but equally certain that they did not want it to be lasting, and sought nothing more than a breathing time to regain their strength. Even now some of them were for continuing the war; and at the great council at Onondaga, where the matter was debated, the Onondagas, Oneidas, and Mohawks spurned the French proposals, and refused to give up their prisoners. The Cayugas and some of the Senecas were of another mind, and agreed to a partial compliance with Frontenac’s demands. The rest seem to have stood passive in the hope of gaining time. They were disappointed. In vain the Seneca and Cayuga deputies buried the hatchet at Montreal, and promised that the other nations would soon do likewise. Frontenac was not to be deceived. He would accept nothing but the frank fulfilment of his conditions, refused the proffered peace, and told his Indian allies to wage war to the knife. There was a dog-feast and a war-dance, and the strife began anew.

In all these conferences, the Iroquois had stood by their English allies, with a fidelity not too well merited. But, though they were loyal towards the English, they had acted with duplicity towards the French, and, while treating of peace with them, had attacked some of their Indian allies, and intrigued with others. They pursued with more persistency than ever the policy they had adopted in the time of La Barre, that is, to persuade or frighten the tribes of the west to abandon the French, join hands with them and the English, and send their furs to Albany instead of Montreal; for the sagacious confederates knew well that, if the trade were turned into this new channel, their local position would enable them to control it. The scheme was good; but with whatever consistency their chiefs and elders might pursue it, the wayward ferocity of their young warriors crossed it incessantly, and murders alternated with intrigues. On the other hand, the western tribes, who since the war had been but ill supplied with French goods and French brandy, knew that they could have English goods and English rum in great abundance, and at far less cost; and thus, in spite of hate and fear, the intrigue went on. Michillimackinac was the focus of it, but it pervaded all the west. The position of Frontenac was one of great difficulty, and the more so that the intestine quarrels of his allies excessively complicated the mazes of forest diplomacy. This heterogeneous multitude, scattered in tribes and groups of tribes over two thousand miles of wilderness, was like a vast menagerie of wild animals; and the lynx bristled at the wolf, and the panther grinned fury at the bear, in spite of all his efforts to form them into a happy family under his paternal rule.

La Motte-Cadillac commanded at Michillimackinac, Courtemanche was stationed at Fort Miamis, and Tonty and La Forêt at the fortified rock of St. Louis on the Illinois; while Nicolas Perrot roamed among the tribes of the Mississippi, striving at the risk of his life to keep them at peace with each other, and in alliance with the French. Yet a plot presently came to light, by which the Foxes, Mascontins, and Kickapoos were to join hands, renounce the French, and cast their fortunes with the Iroquois and the English. There was still more anxiety for the tribes of Michillimackinac, because the results of their defection would be more immediate. This important post had at the time an Indian population of six or seven thousand souls, a Jesuit mission, a fort with two hundred soldiers, and a village of about sixty houses, occupied by traders and _coureurs de bois_. The Indians of the place were in relations more or less close with all the tribes of the lakes. The Huron village was divided between two rival chiefs: the Baron, who was deep in Iroquois and English intrigue; and the Rat, who, though once the worst enemy of the French, now stood their friend. The Ottawas and other Algonquins of the adjacent villages were savages of a lower grade, tossed continually between hatred of the Iroquois, distrust of the French, and love of English goods and English rum. [Footnote: “Si les Outaouacs (_Ottawas_) et Hurons concluent la paix avec l’Iroquois sans nostre participation, et donnent chez eux l’entrée à l’Anglois pour le commerce, la Colonie est entièrement ruinée, puisque c’est le seul (_moyen_) par lequel ce pays-cy puisse subsister, et l’on peut asseurer que si les sauvages goustent une fois du commerce de l’Anglois, ils rompront pour toujours avec les François, parcequ’ils ne peuvent donner les marchandises qu’a un prix beaucoup plus hault.” _Frontenac au Ministre, 25 Oct., 1696_.]

La Motte-Cadillac found that the Hurons of the Baron’s band were receiving messengers and peace belts from New York and her red allies, that the English had promised to build a trading house on Lake Erie, and that the Iroquois had invited the lake tribes to a grand convention at Detroit. These belts and messages were sent, in the Indian expression, “underground,” that is, secretly; and the envoys who brought them came in the disguise of prisoners taken by the Hurons. On one occasion, seven Iroquois were brought in; and some of the French, suspecting them to be agents of the negotiation, stabbed two of them as they landed. There was a great tumult. The Hurons took arms to defend the remaining five; but at length suffered themselves to be appeased, and even gave one of the Iroquois, a chief, into the hands of the French, who, says La Potherie, determined to “make an example of him.” They invited the Ottawas to “drink the broth of an Iroquois.” The wretch was made fast to a stake, and a Frenchman began the torture by burning him with a red-hot gun-barrel. The mob of savages was soon wrought up to the required pitch of ferocity; and, after atrociously tormenting him, they cut him to pieces, and ate him. [Footnote: La Potherie, II. 298.] It was clear that the more Iroquois the allies of France could be persuaded to burn, the less would be the danger that they would make peace with the confederacy. On another occasion, four were tortured at once; and La Motte-Cadillac writes, “If any more prisoners are brought me, I promise you that their fate will be no sweeter.” [Footnote: _La Motte-Cadillac à —–, 3 Aug., 1695_. A translation of this letter will be found in Sheldon, _Early History of Michigan_.]

The same cruel measures were practised when the Ottawas came to trade at Montreal. Frontenac once invited a band of them to “roast an Iroquois,” newly caught by the soldiers; but as they had hamstrung him, to prevent his escape, he bled to death before the torture began. [Footnote: _Relation de ce qui s’est passé de plus remarquable entre les Francois et les Iroquois durant la présente année, 1695_. There is a translation in _N. Y. Col. Docs._, IX. Compare La Potherie, who misplaces the incident as to date.] In the next spring, the revolting tragedy of Michillimackinac was repeated at Montreal, where four more Iroquois were burned by the soldiers, inhabitants, and Indian allies. “It was the mission of Canada,” says a Canadian writer, “to propagate Christianity and civilization.” [Footnote: This last execution was an act of reprisal: “J’abandonnay les 4 prisonniers aux soldats, habitants, et sauvages, qui les bruslerent par représailles de deux du Sault que cette nation avoit traitté de la mesme maniere.” _Callières au Ministre, 20 Oct., 1696_.]

Every effort was vain. La Motte-Cadillac wrote that matters grew worse and worse, and that the Ottawas had been made to believe that the French neither would nor could protect them, but meant to leave them, to their fate. They thought that they had no hope except in peace with the Iroquois, and had actually gone to meet them at an appointed rendezvous. One course alone was now left to Frontenac, and this was to strike the Iroquois with a blow heavy enough to humble them, and teach the wavering hordes of the west that he was, in truth, their father and their defender. Nobody knew so well as he the difficulties of the attempt; and, deceived perhaps by his own energy, he feared that, in his absence on a distant expedition, the governor of New York would attack Montreal. Therefore, he had begged for more troops. About three hundred were sent him, and with these he was forced to content himself.

He had waited, also, for another reason. In his belief, the re-establishment of Fort Frontenac, abandoned in a panic by Denonville, was necessary to the success of a campaign against the Iroquois. A party in the colony vehemently opposed the measure, on the ground that the fort would be used by the friends of Frontenac for purposes of trade. It was, nevertheless, very important, if not essential, for holding the Iroquois in check. They themselves felt it to be so; and, when they heard that the French intended to occupy it again, they appealed to the governor of New York, who told them that, if the plan were carried into effect, he would march to their aid with all the power of his government. He did not, and perhaps could not, keep his word. [Footnote: Colden, 178. Fletcher could get no men from his own or neighboring governments. See _note_, at the end of the chapter.]

In the question of Fort Frontenac, as in every thing else, the opposition to the governor, always busy and vehement, found its chief representative in the intendant, who told the minister that the policy of Frontenac was all wrong; that the public good was not its object; that he disobeyed or evaded the orders of the king; and that he had suffered the Iroquois to delude him by false overtures of peace. The representations of the intendant and his faction had such effect, that Ponchartrain wrote to the governor that the plan of re-establishing Fort Frontenac “must absolutely be abandoned.” Frontenac, bent on accomplishing his purpose, and doubly so because his enemies opposed it, had anticipated the orders of the minister, and sent seven hundred men to Lake Ontario to repair the fort. The day after they left Montreal, the letter of Ponchartrain arrived. The intendant demanded their recall. Frontenac refused. The fort was repaired, garrisoned, and victualled for a year.

A successful campaign was now doubly necessary to the governor, for by this alone could he hope to avert the consequences of his audacity. He waited no longer, but mustered troops, militia, and Indians, and marched to attack the Iroquois. [Footnote: The above is drawn from the correspondence of Frontenac, Champigny, La Motte-Cadillac, and Callières, on one hand, and the king and the minister on the other. The letters are too numerous to specify. Also, from the official _Relation de ce qui s’est passé de plus remarquable en Canada_, 1694, 1695, and _Ibid., 1695, 1696; Mémoire soumis au Ministre de ce qui résulte des Avis reçus du Canada en 1695_; Champigny, _Mémoire concernant le Fort de Cataracouy_; La Potherie, II. 284-302, IV. 1-80; Colden, chaps. x., xi.]

MILITARY INEFFICIENCY OF THE BRITISH COLONIES.–“His Majesty has subjects enough in those parts of America to drive out the French from Canada; but they are so _crumbled into little governments_, and so disunited, that they have hitherto afforded little assistance to each other, and now seem in a much worse disposition to do it for the future.” This is the complaint of the Lords of Trade. Governor Fletcher writes bitterly: “Here every little government sets up for despotic power, and allows no appeal to the Crown, but, by a little juggling, defeats all commands and injunctions from the King.” Fletcher’s complaint was not unprovoked. The Queen had named him commander-in-chief, during the war, of the militia of several of the colonies, and empowered him to call on them for contingents of men, not above 350 from Massachusetts, 250 from Virginia, 160 from Maryland, 120 from Connecticut, 48 from Rhode Island, and 80 from Pennsylvania. This measure excited the jealousy of the colonies, and several of them remonstrated on constitutional grounds; but the attorney-general, to whom the question was referred, reported that the crown had power, under certain limitations, to appoint a commander-in-chief. Fletcher, therefore, in his character as such, called for a portion of the men; but scarcely one could he get. He was met by excuses and evasions, which, especially in the case of Connecticut, were of a most vexatious character. At last, that colony, tired by his importunities, condescended to furnish him with twenty-five men. With the others, he was less fortunate, though Virginia and Maryland compounded with a sum of money. Each colony claimed the control of its own militia, and was anxious to avoid the establishment of any precedent which might deprive it of the right. Even in the military management of each separate colony, there was scarcely less difficulty. A requisition for troops from a royal governor was always regarded with jealousy, and the provincial assemblies were slow to grant money for their support. In 1692, when Fletcher came to New York, the assembly gave him 300 men, for a year; in 1693, they gave him an equal number; in 1694, they allowed him but 170, he being accused, apparently with truth, of not having made good use of the former levies. He afterwards asked that the force at his disposal should be increased to 500 men, to guard the frontier; and the request was not granted. In 1697 he was recalled; and the Earl of Bellomont was commissioned governor of New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and captain-general, during the war, of all the forces of those colonies, as well as of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. The close of the war quickly ended this military authority; but there is no reason to believe that, had it continued, the earl’s requisitions for men, in his character of captain-general, would have had more success than those of Fletcher. The whole affair is a striking illustration of the original isolation of communities, which afterwards became welded into a nation. It involved a military paralysis almost complete. Sixty years later, under the sense of a great danger, the British colonies were ready enough to receive a commander-in-chief, and answer his requisitions.

A great number of documents bearing upon the above subject will be found in the _New York Colonial Documents_, IV.

[1] On the Newfoundland expedition, the best authority is the long diary of the chaplain Baudoin, _Journal du Voyage que j’ai fait avec M. d’Iberville_; also, _Mémoire sur l’Entreprise de Terreneuve_, 1696. Compare La Potherie, I. 24-52. A deposition of one Phillips, one Roberts, and several others, preserved in the Public Record Office of London, and quoted by Brown in his _History of Cape Breton_, makes the French force much greater than the statements of the French writers. The deposition also says that at the attack of St. John’s “the French took one William Brew, an inhabitant, a prisoner, and cut all round his scalp, and then, by strength of hands, stript his skin from the forehead to the crown, and so sent him into the fortifications, assuring the inhabitants that they would serve them all in like manner if they did not surrender.”

St. John’s was soon after reoccupied by the English.

Baudoin was one of those Acadian priests who are praised for services “en empeschant les sauvages de faire la paix avec les Anglois, ayant mesme esté en guerre avec eux.” _Champigny au Ministre, 24 Oct., 1694._

CHAPTER XIX.

1696-1698.

FRONTENAC ATTACKS THE ONONDAGAS.

MARCH OF FRONTENAC.–FLIGHT OF THE ENEMY.–AN IROQUOIS STOIC.–RELIEF FOR THE ONONDAGAS.–BOASTS OF FRONTENAC.–HIS COMPLAINTS.–HIS ENEMIES.–PARTIES IN CANADA.–VIEWS OF FRONTENAC AND THE KING.–FRONTENAC PREVAILS.–PEACE OF RYSWICK.–FRONTENAC AND BELLOMONT.–SCHUYLER AT QUEBEC.–FESTIVITIES.–A LAST DEFIANCE.

On the fourth of July, Frontenac left Montreal, at the head of about twenty-two hundred men. On the nineteenth he reached Fort Frontenac, and on the twenty-sixth he crossed to the southern shore of Lake Ontario. A swarm of Indian canoes led the way; next followed two battalions of regulars, in bateaux, commanded by Callières; then more bateaux, laden with cannon, mortars, and rockets; then Frontenac himself, surrounded by the canoes of his staff and his guard; then eight hundred Canadians, under Ramesay; while more regulars and more Indians, all commanded by Vaudreuil, brought up the rear. In two days they reached the mouth of the Oswego; strong scouting-parties were sent out to scour the forests in front; while the expedition slowly and painfully worked its way up the stream. Most of the troops and Canadians marched through the matted woods along the banks; while the bateaux and canoes were pushed, rowed, paddled, or dragged forward against the current. On the evening of the thirtieth, they reached the falls, where the river plunged over ledges of rock which completely stopped the way. The work of “carrying” was begun at once. The Indians and Canadians carried the canoes to the navigable water above, and gangs of men dragged the bateaux up the portage-path on rollers. Night soon came, and the work was continued till ten o’clock by torchlight. Frontenac would have passed on foot like the rest, but the Indians would not have it so. They lifted him in his canoe upon their shoulders, and bore him in triumph, singing and yelling, through the forest and along the margin of the rapids, the blaze of the torches lighting the strange procession, where plumes of officers and uniforms of the governor’s guard mingled with the feathers and scalp-locks of naked savages.

When the falls were passed, the troops pushed on as before along the narrow stream, and through the tangled labyrinths on either side; till, on the first of August, they reached Lake Onondaga, and, with sails set, the whole flotilla glided before the wind, and landed the motley army on a rising ground half a league from the salt springs of Salina. The next day was spent in building a fort to protect the canoes, bateaux, and stores; and, as evening closed, a ruddy glow above the southern forest told them that the town of Onondaga was on fire.

The Marquis de Crisasy was left, with a detachment, to hold the fort; and, at sunrise on the fourth, the army moved forward in order of battle. It was formed in two lines, regulars on the right and left, and Canadians in the centre. Callières commanded the first line, and Vaudreuil the second. Frontenac was between them, surrounded by his staff officers and his guard, and followed by the artillery, which relays of Canadians dragged and lifted forward with inconceivable labor. The governor, enfeebled by age, was carried in an arm-chair; while Callières, disabled by gout, was mounted on a horse, brought for the purpose in one of the bateaux. To Subercase fell the hard task of directing the march among the dense columns of the primeval forest, by hill and hollow, over rocks and fallen trees, through swamps, brooks, and gullies, among thickets, brambles, and vines. It was but eight or nine miles to Onondaga; but they were all day in reaching it, and evening was near when they emerged from the shadows of the forest into the broad light of the Indian clearing. The maize-fields stretched before them for miles, and in the midst lay the charred and smoking ruins of the Iroquois capital. Not an enemy was to be seen, but they found the dead bodies of two murdered French prisoners. Scouts were sent out, guards were set, and the disappointed troops encamped on the maize-fields.

Onondaga, formerly an open town, had been fortified by the English, who had enclosed it with a double range of strong palisades, forming a rectangle, flanked by bastions at the four corners, and surrounded by an outer fence of tall poles. The place was not defensible against cannon and mortars; and the four hundred warriors belonging to it had been but slightly reinforced from the other tribes of the confederacy, each of which feared that the French attack might be directed against itself. On the approach of an enemy of five times their number, they had burned their town, and retreated southward into distant forests.

The troops were busied for two days in hacking down the maize, digging up the _caches_, or hidden stores of food, and destroying their contents. The neighboring tribe of the Oneidas sent a messenger to beg peace. Frontenac replied that he would grant it, on condition that they all should migrate to Canada, and settle there; and Vaudreuil, with seven hundred men, was sent to enforce the demand. Meanwhile, a few Onondaga stragglers had been found; and among them, hidden in a hollow tree, a withered warrior, eighty years old, and nearly blind. Frontenac would have spared him; but the Indian allies, Christians from the mission villages, were so eager to burn him that it was thought inexpedient to refuse them. They tied him to the stake, and tried to shake his constancy by every torture that fire could inflict; but not a cry nor a murmur escaped him. He defied them to do their worst, till, enraged at his taunts, one of them gave him a mortal stab. “I thank you,” said the old Stoic, with his last breath; “but you ought to have finished as you began, and killed me by fire. Learn from me, you dogs of Frenchmen, how to endure pain; and you, dogs of dogs, their Indian allies, think what you will do when you are burned like me.” [1] Vaudreuil and his detachment returned within three days, after destroying Oneida, with all the growing corn, and seizing a number of chiefs as hostages for the fulfilment of the demands of Frontenac. There was some thought of marching on Cayuga, but the governor judged it to be inexpedient; and, as it would be useless to chase the fugitive Onondagas, nothing remained but to return home. [2] While Frontenac was on his march, Governor Fletcher had heard of his approach, and called the council at New York to consider what should be done. They resolved that “it will be very grievous to take the people from their labour; and there is likewise no money to answer the charge thereof.” Money was, however, advanced by Colonel Cortlandt and others; and the governor wrote to Connecticut and New Jersey for their contingents of men; but they thought the matter no concern of theirs, and did not respond. Fletcher went to Albany with the few men he could gather at the moment, and heard on his arrival that the French were gone. Then he convoked the chiefs, condoled with them, and made them presents. Corn was sent to the Onondagas and Oneidas to support them through the winter, and prevent the famine which the French hoped would prove their destruction.

What Frontenac feared had come to pass. The enemy had saved themselves by flight; and his expedition, like that of Denonville, was but half successful. He took care, however, to announce it to the king as a triumph.

“Sire, the benedictions which Heaven has ever showered upon your Majesty’s arms have extended even to this New World; whereof we have had visible proof in the expedition I have just made against the Onondagas, the principal nation of the Iroquois. I had long projected this enterprise, but the difficulties and risks which attended it made me regard it as imprudent; and I should never have resolved to undertake it, if I had not last year established an _entrepôt (Fort Frontenac_) which made my communications more easy, and if I had not known, beyond all doubt, that this was absolutely the only means to prevent our allies from making peace with the Iroquois, and introducing the English into their country, by which the colony would infallibly be ruined. Nevertheless, by unexpected good fortune, the Onondagas, who pass for masters of the other Iroquois, and the terror of all the Indians of this country, fell into a sort of bewilderment, which could only have come from on High; and were so terrified to see me march against them in person, and cover their lakes and rivers with nearly four hundred sail, that, without availing themselves of passes where a hundred men might easily hold four thousand in check, they did not dare to lay a single ambuscade, but, after waiting till I was five leagues from their fort, they set it on fire with all their dwellings, and fled, with their families, twenty leagues into the depths of the forest. It could have been wished, to make the affair more brilliant, that they had tried to hold their fort against us, for we were prepared to force it and kill a great many of them; but their ruin is not the less sure, because the famine, to which they are reduced, will destroy more than we could have killed by sword and gun.

“All the officers and men have done their duty admirably; and especially M. de Callières, who has been a great help to me. I know not if your Majesty will think that I have tried to do mine, and will hold me worthy of some mark of honor that may enable me to pass the short remainder of my life in some little distinction; but, whether this be so or not, I most humbly pray your Majesty to believe that I will sacrifice the rest of my days to your Majesty’s service with the same ardor I have always felt.” [Footnote: _Frontenac au Roy, 25 Oct., 1696_.]

The king highly commended him, and sent him the cross of the Military Order of St. Louis. Callières, who had deserved it less, had received it several years before; but he had not found or provoked so many defamers. Frontenac complained to the minister that his services had been slightly and tardily requited. This was true, and it was due largely to the complaints excited by his own perversity and violence. These complaints still continued; but the fault was not all on one side, and Frontenac himself had often just reason to retort them. He wrote to Ponchartrain: “If you will not be so good as to look closely into the true state of things here, I shall always be exposed to detraction, and forced to make new apologies, which is very hard for a person so full of zeal and uprightness as I am. My secretary, who is going to France, will tell you all the ugly intrigues used to defeat my plans for the service of the king, and the growth of the colony. I have long tried to combat these artifices, but I confess that I no longer feel strength to resist them, and must succumb at last, if you will not have the goodness to give me strong support.” [Footnote: _Frontenac au Ministre, 25 Oct., 1696._]

He still continued to provoke the detraction which he deprecated, till he drew, at last, a sharp remonstrance from the minister. “The dispute you have had with M. de Champigny is without cause, and I confess I cannot comprehend how you could have acted as you have done. If you do things of this sort, you must expect disagreeable consequences, which all the desire I have to oblige you cannot prevent. It is deplorable, both for you and for me, that, instead of using my good-will to gain favors from his Majesty, you compel me to make excuses for a violence which answers no purpose, and in which you indulge wantonly, nobody can tell why.” [Footnote: _Le Ministre à Frontenac, 21 Mai, 1698_.]

Most of these quarrels, however trivial in themselves, had a solid foundation, and were closely connected with the great question of the control of the west. As to the measures to be taken, two parties divided the colony; one consisting of the governor and his friends, and the other of the intendant, the Jesuits, and such of the merchants as were not in favor with Frontenac. His policy was to protect the Indian allies at all risks, to repel by force, if necessary, every attempt of the English to encroach on the territory in dispute, and to occupy it by forts which should be at once posts of war and commerce and places of rendezvous for traders and _voyageurs_. Champigny and his party denounced this system; urged that the forest posts should be abandoned, that both garrisons and traders should be recalled, that the French should not go to the Indians, but that the Indians should come to the French, that the fur trade of the interior should be carried on at Montreal, and that no Frenchman should be allowed to leave the settled limits of the colony, except the Jesuits and persons in their service, who, as Champigny insisted, would be able to keep the Indians in the French interest without the help of soldiers.

Strong personal interests were active on both sides, and gave bitterness to the strife. Frontenac, who always stood by his friends, had placed Tonty, La Forêt, La Motte-Cadillac, and others of their number, in charge of the forest posts, where they made good profit by trade. Moreover, the licenses for trading expeditions into the interior were now, as before, used largely for the benefit of his favorites. The Jesuits also declared, and with some truth, that the forest posts were centres of debauchery, and that the licenses for the western trade were the ruin of innumerable young men. All these reasons were laid before the king. In vain Frontenac represented that to abandon the forest posts would be to resign to the English the trade of the interior country, and at last the country itself. The royal ear was open to his opponents, and the royal instincts reinforced their arguments. The king, enamoured of subordination and order, wished to govern Canada as he governed a province of France; and this could be done only by keeping the population within prescribed bounds. Therefore, he commanded that licenses for the forest trade should cease, that the forest posts should be abandoned and destroyed, that all Frenchmen should be ordered back to the settlements, and that none should return under pain of the galleys. An exception was made in favor of the Jesuits, who were allowed to continue their western missions, subject to restrictions designed to prevent them from becoming a cover to illicit fur trade. Frontenac was also directed to make peace with the Iroquois, even, if necessary, without including the western allies of France; that is, he was authorized by Louis XIV to pursue the course which had discredited and imperilled the colony under the rule of Denonville. [3]

The intentions of the king did not take effect. The policy of Frontenac was the true one, whatever motives may have entered into his advocacy of it. In view of the geographical, social, political, and commercial conditions of Canada, the policy of his opponents was impracticable, and nothing less than a perpetual cordon of troops could have prevented the Canadians from escaping to the backwoods. In spite of all the evils that attended the forest posts, it would have been a blunder to abandon them. This quickly became apparent. Champigny himself saw the necessity of compromise. The instructions of the king were scarcely given before they were partially withdrawn, and they soon became a dead letter. Even Fort Frontenac was retained after repeated directions to abandon it. The policy of the governor prevailed; the colony returned to its normal methods of growth, and so continued to the end.

Now came the question of peace with the Iroquois, to whose mercy Frontenac was authorized to leave his western allies. He was the last man to accept such permission. Since the burning of Onondaga, the Iroquois negotiations with the western tribes had been broken off, and several fights had occurred, in which the confederates had suffered loss and been roused to vengeance. This was what Frontenac wanted, but at the same time it promised him fresh trouble; for, while he was determined to prevent the Iroquois from making peace with the allies without his authority, he was equally determined to compel them to do so with it. There must be peace, though not till he could control its conditions.

The Onondaga campaign, unsatisfactory as it was, had had its effect. Several Iroquois chiefs came to Quebec with overtures of peace. They brought no prisoners, but promised to bring them in the spring; and one of them remained as a hostage that the promise should be kept. It was nevertheless broken under English influence; and, instead of a solemn embassy, the council of Onondaga sent a messenger with a wampum belt to tell Frontenac that they were all so engrossed in bewailing the recent death of Black Kettle, a famous war chief, that they had no strength to travel; and they begged that Onontio would return the hostage, and send to them for the French prisoners. The messenger farther declared that, though they would make peace with Onontio, they would not make it with his allies. Frontenac threw back the peace-belt into his face. “Tell the chiefs that, if they must needs stay at home to cry about a trifle, I will give them something to cry for. Let them bring me every prisoner, French and Indian, and make a treaty that shall include all my children, or they shall feel my tomahawk again.” Then, turning to a number of Ottawas who were present: “You see that I can make peace for myself when I please. If I continue the war, it is only for your sake. I will never make a treaty without including you, and recovering your prisoners like my own.” Thus the matter stood, when a great event took place. Early in February, a party of Dutch and Indians came to Montreal with news that peace had been signed in Europe; and, at the end of May, Major Peter Schuyler, accompanied by Dellius, the minister of Albany, arrived with copies of the treaty in French and Latin. The scratch of a pen at Byswick had ended the conflict in America, so far at least as concerned the civilized combatants. It was not till July that Frontenac received the official announcement from Versailles, coupled with an address from the king to the people of Canada.

OUR FAITHFUL AND BELOVED,–The moment has arrived ordained by Heaven to reconcile the nations. The ratification of the treaty concluded some time ago by our ambassadors with those of the Emperor and the Empire, after having made peace with Spain, England, and Holland, has everywhere restored the tranquillity so much desired. Strasbourg, one of the chief ramparts of the empire of heresy, united for ever to the Church and to our Crown; the Rhine established as the barrier between France and Germany; and, what touches us even more, the worship of the True Faith authorized by a solemn engagement with sovereigns of another religion, are the advantages secured by this last treaty. The Author of so many blessings manifests Himself so clearly that we cannot but recognize His goodness; and the visible impress of His all-powerful hand is as it were the seal He has affixed to justify our intent to cause all our realm to serve and obey Him, and to make our people happy. We have begun by the fulfilment of our duty in offering Him the thanks which are His due; and we have ordered the archbishops and bishops of our kingdom to cause _Te Deum_ to be sung in the cathedrals of their dioceses. It is our will and our command that you be present at that, which will be sung in the cathedral of our city of Quebec, on the day appointed by the Count of Frontenac, our governor and lieutenant-general in New France. Herein fail not, for such is our pleasure.

LOUIS.

[Footnote: _Lettre du Roy pour faire chanter le Te Deum, 12 Mars, 1698_.]

There was peace between the two crowns; but a serious question still remained between Frontenac and the new governor of New York, the Earl of Bellomont. When Schuyler and Dellius came to Quebec, they brought with them all the French prisoners in the hands of the English of New York, together with a promise from Bellomont that he would order the Iroquois, subjects of the British crown, to deliver to him all those in their possession, and that he would then send them to Canada under a safe escort. The two envoys demanded of Frontenac, at the same time, that he should deliver to them all the Iroquois in his hands. To give up Iroquois prisoners to Bellomont, or to receive through him French prisoners whom the Iroquois had captured, would have been an acknowledgment of British sovereignty over the five confederate tribes. Frontenac replied that the earl need give himself no trouble in the matter, as the Iroquois were rebellious subjects of King Louis; that they had already repented and begged peace; and that, if they did not soon come to conclude it, he should use force to compel them.

Bellomont wrote, in return, that he had sent arms to the Iroquois, with orders to defend themselves if attacked by the French, and to give no quarter to them or their allies; and he added that, if necessary, he would send soldiers to their aid. A few days after, he received fresh news of Frontenac’s warlike intentions, and wrote in wrath as follows:–

SIR,–Two of our Indians, of the Nation called Onondages, came yesterday to advise me that you had sent two renegades of their Nation to them, to tell them and the other tribes, except the Mohawks, that, in case they did not come to Canada within forty days to solicit peace from you, they may expect your marching into their country at the head of an army to constrain them thereunto by force. I, on my side, do this very day send my lieutenant-governor with the king’s troops to join the Indians, and to oppose any hostilities you will attempt; and, if needs be, I will arm every man in the Provinces under my government to repel you, and to make reprisals for the damage which you will commit on our Indians. This, in a few words, is the part I will take, and the resolution I have adopted, whereof I have thought it proper by these presents to give you notice.

I am, Sir, yours, &c.,
EARL OF BELLOMONT.
NEW YORK, 22d August, 1698.

To arm every man in his government would have been difficult. He did, however, what he could, and ordered Captain Nanfan, the lieutenant-governor, to repair to Albany; whence, on the first news that the French were approaching, he was to march to the relief of the Iroquois with the four shattered companies of regulars and as many of the militia of Albany and Ulster as he could muster. Then the earl sent Wessels, mayor of Albany, to persuade the Iroquois to deliver their prisoners to him, and make no treaty with Frontenac. On the same day, he despatched Captain John Schuyler to carry his letters to the French governor. When Schuyler reached Quebec, and delivered the letters, Frontenac read them with marks of great displeasure. “My Lord Bellomont threatens me,” he said. “Does he think that I am afraid of him? He claims the Iroquois, but they are none of his. They call me father, and they call him brother; and shall not a father chastise his children when he sees fit?” A conversation followed, in which Frontenac asked the envoy what was the strength of Bellomont’s government. Schuyler parried the question by a grotesque exaggeration, and answered that the earl could bring about a hundred thousand men into the field. Frontenac pretended to believe him, and returned with careless gravity that he had always heard so.

The following Sunday was the day appointed for the _Te Deum_ ordered by the king; and all the dignitaries of the colony, with a crowd of lesser note, filled the cathedral. There was a dinner of ceremony at the château, to which Schuyler was invited; and he found the table of the governor thronged with officers. Frontenac called on his guests to drink the health of King William. Schuyler replied by a toast in honor of King Louis; and the governor next gave the health of the Earl of Bellomont. The peace was then solemnly proclaimed, amid the firing of cannon from the batteries and ships; and the day closed with a bonfire and a general illumination. On the next evening, Frontenac gave Schuyler a letter in answer to the threats of the earl. He had written with trembling hand, but unshaken will and unbending pride:–

“I am determined to pursue my course without flinching; and I request you not to try to thwart me by efforts which will prove useless. All the protection and aid you tell me that you have given, and will continue to give, the Iroquois, against the terms of the treaty, will not cause me much alarm, nor make me change my plans, but rather, on the contrary, engage me to pursue them still more.” [4]

As the old soldier traced these lines, the shadow of death was upon him. Toils and years, passions and cares, had wasted his strength at last, and his fiery soul could bear him up no longer. A few weeks later he was lying calmly on his death-bed.

[1] _Relation de ce qui s’est passé, etc_., 1695, 1696; La Potherie, III. 279. Callieres and the author of the Relation of 1682-1712 also speak of the extraordinary fortitude of the victim. The Jesuits say that it was not the Christian Indians who insisted on burning him, but the French themselves, “qui voulurent absolument qu’il fût brulé à petit feu, ce qu’ils executèrent eux-mêmes. Un Jesuite le confessa et l’assista à la mort, l’encourageant à souffrir courageusement et _chrêtiennement_ les tourmens.” _Relation_ de 1696 (Shea), 10. This writer adds that, when Frontenac heard of it, he ordered him to be spared; but it was too late. Charlevoix misquotes the old Stoic’s last words, which were, according to the official Relation of 1695-6: “Je te remercie mais tu aurais bien dû achever de me faire mourir par le feu. Apprenez, chiens de François, à souffrir, et vous sauvages leurs allies, qui êtes les chiens des chiens, souvenez vous de ce que vous devez faire quand vous serez en pareil état que moi.”

[2] On the expedition against the Onondagas, _Callières au Ministre, 20 Oct., 1696; Frontenac au Ministre, 25 Oct., 1696; Frontenac et Champigny au Ministre (lettre commune) 26 Oct., 1696; Relation de ce qui s’est passé, etc., 1695, 1696; Relation, 1682-1712; Relation des Jesuites, 1696_(Shea); _Doc. Hist. N. Y._, I. 323-355; La Potherie, III. 270-282; _N. Y. Col. Docs_., IV. 242. Charlevoix charges Frontenac on this occasion with failing to pursue his advantage, lest others, and especially Callières, should get more honor than he. The accusation seems absolutely groundless. His many enemies were silent about it at the time; for the king warmly commends his conduct on the expedition, and Callières himself, writing immediately after, gives him nothing but praise.

[3] _Mémoire du Roy pour Frontenac et Champigny, 26 Mai, 1696; Ibid., 27 Avril, 1697; Registres du Conseil Supérieur, Edit du 21 Mai, 1696_.

“Ce qui vous avez mandé de l’accommodement des Sauvages alliés avec les Irocois n’a pas permis à Sa Majesté d’entrer dans la discution de la manière de faire l’abandonnement des postes des François dans la profondeur des terres, particulièrement â Missilimackinac … En tout cas vous ne devez pas manquer de donner ordre pour ruiner les forts et tous les édifices qui pourront y avoir esté faits.” _Le Ministre à Frontenac, 26 Mai, 1696_.

Besides the above, many other letters and despatches on both sides have been examined in relation to these questions.

[4] On the questions between Bellomont and Frontenac, _Relation de ce qui s’est passé, etc.,_ 1697, 1698; _Champigny a Ministre,_ 12 _Juillet,_ 1698; _Frontenac au Ministre,_ 18 _Oct.,_ 1698; _Frontenac et Champigny au Ministre (lettre commune),_ 15 _Oct.,_ 1698; _Calliéres au Ministre, même date, etc._ The correspondence of Frontenac and Bellomont, the report of Peter Schuyler and Dellius, the journal of John Schuyler, and other papers on the same subjects, will be found in _N. Y. Col. Docs.,_ IV. John Schuyler was grandfather of General Schuyler of the American Revolution. Peter Schuyler and his colleague Dellius brought to Canada all the French prisoners in the hands of the English of New York, and asked for English prisoners in return; but nearly all of these preferred to remain, a remarkable proof of the kindness with which the Canadians treated their civilized captives.

CHAPTER XX.

1698.

DEATH OF FRONTENAC.

HIS LAST HOURS–HIS WILL–HIS FUNERAL–HIS EULOGIST AND HIS CRITIC.–HIS DISPUTES WITH THE CLERGY–HIS CHARACTER.

In November, when the last ship had gone, and Canada was sealed from the world for half a year, a mortal illness fell upon the governor. On the twenty-second, he had strength enough to dictate his will, seated in an easy-chair in his chamber at the château. His colleague and adversary, Champigny, often came to visit him, and did all in his power to soothe his last moments. The reconciliation between them was complete. One of his Récollet friends, Father Olivier Goyer, administered extreme unction; and, on the afternoon of the twenty-eighth, he died, in perfect composure and full possession of his faculties. He was in his seventy-eighth year.

He was greatly beloved by the humbler classes, who, days before his death, beset the château, praising and lamenting him. Many of higher station shared the popular grief. “He was the love and delight of New France,” says one of them: “churchmen honored him for his piety, nobles esteemed him for his valor, merchants respected him for his equity, and the people loved him for his kindness.” [Footnote: La Potherie, I. 244, 246.] “He was the father of the poor,” says another, “the protector of the oppressed, and a perfect model of virtue and piety.” [Footnote: Hennepin, 41 (1704). Le Clerc speaks to the same effect.] An Ursuline nun regrets him as the friend and patron of her sisterhood, and so also does the superior of the Hôtel-Dieu. [Footnote: _Histoire des Ursulines de Québec_, I. 508; Juchereau, 378.] His most conspicuous though not his bitterest opponent, the intendant Champigny, thus announced his death to the court: “I venture to send this letter by way of New England to tell you that Monsieur le Comte de Frontenac died on the twenty-eighth of last month, with the sentiments of a true Christian. After all the disputes we have had together, you will hardly believe, Monseigneur, how truly and deeply I am touched by his death. He treated me during his illness in a manner so obliging, that I should be utterly void of gratitude if I did not feel thankful to him.” [Footnote: _Champigny au Ministre, 22 Dec._, 1698.]

As a mark of kind feeling, Frontenac had bequeathed to the intendant a valuable crucifix, and to Madame de Champigny a reliquary which he had long been accustomed to wear. For the rest, he gave fifteen hundred livres to the Récollets, to be expended in masses for his soul, and that of his wife after her death. To her he bequeathed all the remainder of his small property, and he also directed that his heart should be sent her in a case of lead or silver. [Footnote: _Testament du Comte de Frontenac._ I am indebted to Abbé Bois of Maskinongé for a copy of this will. Frontenac expresses a wish that the heart should be placed in the family tomb at the Church of St. Nicolas des Champs.] His enemies reported that she refused to accept it, saying that she had never had it when he was living, and did not want it when he was dead.

On the Friday after his death, he was buried as he had directed, not in the cathedral, but in the church of the Récollets, a preference deeply offensive to many of the clergy. The bishop officiated; and then the Récollet, Father Goyer, who had attended his death-bed, and seems to have been his confessor, mounted the pulpit, and delivered his funeral oration. “This funeral pageantry,” exclaimed the orator, “this temple draped in mourning, these dim lights, this sad and solemn music, this great assembly bowed in sorrow, and all this pomp and circumstance of death, may well penetrate your hearts. I will not seek to dry your tears, for I cannot contain my own. After all, this is a time to weep, and never did people weep for a better governor.”

A copy of this eulogy fell into the hands of an enemy of Frontenac, who wrote a running commentary upon it. The copy thus annotated is still preserved at Quebec. A few passages from the orator and his critic will show the violent conflict of opinion concerning the governor, and illustrate in some sort, though with more force than fairness, the contradictions of his character:–

_The Orator_. “This wise man, to whom the Senate of Venice listened with respectful attention, because he spoke before them with all the force of that eloquence which you, Messieurs, have so often admired,– [Footnote: Alluding to an incident that occurred when Frontenac commanded a Venetian force for the defence of Candia against the Turks.]

_The Critic_. “It was not his eloquence that they admired, but his extravagant pretensions, his bursts of rage, and his unworthy treatment of those who did not agree with him.”

_The Orator_. “This disinterested man, more busied with duty than with gain,–

_The Critic_. “The less said about that the better.”

_The Orator_. “Who made the fortune of others, but did not increase his own,–

_The Critic_. “Not for want of trying, and that very often in spite of his conscience and the king’s orders.”

_The Orator_. “Devoted to the service of his king, whose majesty he represented, and whose person he loved,–

_The Critic_. “Not at all. How often has he opposed his orders, even with force and violence, to the great scandal of everybody!”

_The Orator_. “Great in the midst of difficulties, by that consummate prudence, that solid judgment, that presence of mind, that breadth and elevation of thought, which he retained to the last moment of his life,–

_The Critic_. “He had in fact a great capacity for political manoeuvres and tricks; but as for the solid judgment ascribed to him, his conduct gives it the lie, or else, if he had it, the vehemence of his passions often unsettled it. It is much to be feared that his presence of mind was the effect of an obstinate and hardened self-confidence by which he put himself above everybody and every thing, since he never used it to repair, so far as in him lay, the public and private wrongs he caused. What ought he not to have done here, in this temple, to ask pardon for the obstinate and furious heat with which he so long persecuted the Church; upheld and even instigated rebellion against her; protected libertines, scandal-mongers, and creatures of evil life against the ministers of Heaven; molested, persecuted, vexed persons most eminent in virtue, nay, even the priests and magistrates, who defended the cause of God; sustained in all sorts of ways the wrongful and scandalous traffic in brandy with the Indians; permitted, approved, and supported the license and abuse of taverns; authorized and even introduced, in spite of the remonstrances of the servants of God, criminal and dangerous diversions; tried to decry the bishop and the clergy, the missionaries, and other persons of virtue, and to injure them, both here and in France, by libels and calumnies; caused, in fine, either by himself or through others, a multitude of disorders, under which this infant church has groaned for many years! What, I say, ought he not to have done before dying to atone for these scandals, and give proof of sincere penitence and compunction? God gave him full time to recognize his errors, and yet to the last he showed a great indifference in all these matters. When, in presence of the Holy Sacrament, he was asked according to the ritual, ‘Do you not beg pardon for all the ill examples you may have given?’ he answered, ‘Yes,’ but did not confess that he had ever given any. In a word, he behaved during the few days before his death like one who had led an irreproachable life, and had nothing to fear. And this is the presence of mind that he retained to his last moment!”

_The Orator._ “Great in dangers by his courage, he always came off with honor, and never was reproached with rashness,–

_The Critic._ “True; he was not rash, as was seen when the Bostonnais besieged Quebec.”

_The Orator_. “Great in religion by his piety, he practised its good works in spirit and in truth,–

_The Critic_. “Say rather that he practised its forms with parade and ostentation: witness the inordinate ambition with which he always claimed honors in the Church, to which he had no right; outrageously affronted intendants, who opposed his pretensions; required priests to address him when preaching, and in their intercourse with him demanded from them humiliations which he did not exact from the meanest military officer. This was his way of making himself great in _religion and piety_, or, more truly, in vanity and hypocrisy. How can a man be called _great in religion_, when he openly holds opinions entirely opposed to the True Faith, such as, that _all men are predestined_, that _Hell will not last for ever_, and the like?”

_The Orator._ “His very look inspired esteem and confidence,–

_The Critic._ “Then one must have taken him at exactly the right moment, and not when he was foaming at the mouth with rage.”

_The Orator._ “A mingled air of nobility and gentleness; a countenance that bespoke the probity that appeared in all his acts, and a sincerity that could not dissimulate,–

_The Critic._ “The eulogist did not know the old fox.”

_The Orator._ “An inviolable fidelity to friends,–

_The Critic._ “What friends? Was it persons of the other sex? Of these he was always fond, and too much for the honor of some of them.”

_The Orator._ “Disinterested for himself, ardent for others, he used his credit at court only to recommend their services, excuse their faults, and obtain favors for them,–

_The Critic_. “True; but it was for his creatures and for nobody else.”

_The Orator_. “I pass in silence that reading of spiritual books which he practised as an indispensable duty more than forty years; that holy avidity with which he listened to the word of God,–

_The Critic_. “Only if the preacher addressed the sermon to him, and called him _Monseigneur_. As for his reading, it was often Jansenist books, of which he had a great many, and which he greatly praised and lent freely to others.”

_The Orator_. “He prepared for the sacraments by meditation and retreat,–

_The Critic_. “And generally came out of his retreat more excited than ever against the Church.”

_The Orator_. “Let us not recall his ancient and noble descent, his family connected with all that is greatest in the army, the magistracy, and the government; Knights, Marshals of France, Governors of Provinces, Judges, Councillors, and Ministers of State: let us not, I say, recall all these without remembering that their examples roused this generous heart to noble emulation; and, as an expiring flame grows brighter as it dies, so did all the virtues of his race unite at last in him to end with glory a long line of great men, that shall be no more except in history.”

_The Critic_. “Well laid on, and too well for his hearers to believe him. Far from agreeing that all these virtues were collected in the person of his pretended _hero_, they would find it very hard to admit that he had even one of them.” [Footnote: _Oraison Funèbre du très-haut et très-puissant Seigneur Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac et de Palluau, etc., avec des remarques critiques_, 1698. That indefatigable investigator of Canadian history, the late M. Jacques Viger, to whom I am indebted for a copy of this eulogy, suggested that the anonymous critic may have been Abbé la Tour, author of the _Vie de Laval_. If so, his statements need the support of more trustworthy evidence. The above extracts are not consecutive, but are taken from various parts of the manuscript.]

It is clear enough from what quiver these arrows came. From the first, Frontenac had set himself in opposition to the most influential of the Canadian clergy. When he came to the colony, their power in the government was still enormous, and even the most devout of his predecessors had been forced into conflict with them to defend the civil authority; but, when Frontenac entered the strife, he brought into it an irritability, a jealous and exacting vanity, a love of rule, and a passion for having his own way, even in trifles, which made him the most exasperating of adversaries. Hence it was that many of the clerical party felt towards him a bitterness that was far from ending with his life.

The sentiment of a religion often survives its convictions. However heterodox in doctrine, he was still wedded to the observances of the Church, and practised them, under the ministration of the Récollets, with an assiduity that made full amends to his conscience for the vivacity with which he opposed the rest of the clergy. To the Récollets their patron was the most devout of men; to his ultramontane adversaries, he was an impious persecutor.

His own acts and words best paint his character, and it is needless to enlarge upon it. What perhaps may be least forgiven him is the barbarity of the warfare that he waged, and the cruelties that he permitted. He had seen too many towns sacked to be much subject to the scruples of modern humanitarianism; yet he was no whit more ruthless than his times and his surroundings, and some of his contemporaries find fault with him for not allowing more Indian captives to be tortured. Many surpassed him in cruelty, none equalled him in capacity and vigor. When civilized enemies were once within his power, he treated them, according to their degree, with a chivalrous courtesy, or a generous kindness. If he was a hot and pertinacious foe, he was also a fast friend; and he excited love and hatred in about equal measure. His attitude towards public enemies was always proud and peremptory, yet his courage was guided by so clear a sagacity that he never was forced to recede from the position he had taken. Towards Indians, he was an admirable compound of sternness and conciliation. Of the immensity of his services to the colony there can be no doubt. He found it, under Denonville, in humiliation and terror; and he left it in honor, and almost in triumph.

In spite of Father Goyer, greatness must be denied him; but a more remarkable figure, in its bold and salient individuality and sharply marked light and shadow, is nowhere seen in American history.

[Footnote: There is no need to exaggerate the services of Frontenac. Nothing could be more fallacious than the assertion, often repeated, that in his time Canada withstood the united force of all the British colonies. Most of these colonies took no part whatever in the war. Only two of them took an aggressive part, New York and Massachusetts. New York attacked Canada twice, with the two inconsiderable war-parties of John Schuyler in 1690 and of Peter Schuyler in the next year. The feeble expedition under Winthrop did not get beyond Lake George. Massachusetts, or rather her seaboard towns, attacked Canada once. Quebec, it is true, was kept in alarm during several years by rumors of another attack from the same quarter; but no such danger existed, as Massachusetts was exhausted by her first effort. The real scourge of Canada was the Iroquois, supplied with arms and ammunition from Albany.]

CHAPTER XXI.

1699-1701.

CONCLUSION.

THE NEW GOVERNOR.–ATTITUDE OF THE IROQUOIS.–NEGOTIATIONS.–EMBASSY TO ONONDAGA.–PEACE.–THE IROQUOIS AND THE ALLIES.–DIFFICULTIES.– DEATH OF THE GREAT HURON.–FUNERAL, RITES.–THE GRAND COUNCIL.–THE WORK OF FRONTENAC FINISHED.–RESULTS.

It did not need the presence of Frontenac to cause snappings and sparks in the highly electrical atmosphere of New France. Callières took his place as governor _ad interim_, and in due time received a formal appointment to the office. Apart from the wretched state of his health, undermined by gout and dropsy, he was in most respects well fitted for it; but his deportment at once gave umbrage to the excitable Champigny, who declared that he had never seen such _hauteur_ since he came to the colony. Another official was still more offended. “Monsieur de Frontenac,” he says, “was no sooner dead than trouble began. Monsieur de Callières, puffed up by his new authority, claims honors due only to a marshal of France. It would be a different matter if he, like his predecessor, were regarded as the father of the country, and the love and delight of the Indian allies. At the review at Montreal, he sat in his carriage, and received the incense offered him with as much composure and coolness as if he had been some divinity of this New World.” In spite of these complaints, the court sustained Callieres, and authorized him to enjoy the honors that he had assumed. [Footnote: _Champigny au Ministre,_ 26 _Mai,_ 1699; _La Potherie au Ministre,_ 2 _Juin,_ 1699; _Vaudreuil et La Potherie au Ministre, même date_.]

His first and chief task was to finish the work that Frontenac had shaped out, and bring the Iroquois to such submission as the interests of the colony and its allies demanded. The fierce confederates admired the late governor, and, if they themselves are to be believed, could not help lamenting him; but they were emboldened by his death, and the difficulty of dealing with them was increased by it. Had they been sure of effectual support from the English, there can be little doubt that they would have refused to treat with the French, of whom their distrust was extreme. The treachery of Denonville at Fort Frontenac still rankled in their hearts, and the English had made them believe that some of their best men had lately been poisoned by agents from Montreal. The French assured them, on the other hand, that the English meant to poison them, refuse to sell them powder and lead, and then, when they were helpless, fall upon and destroy them. At Montreal, they were told that the English called them their negroes; and, at Albany, that if they made peace with Onontio, they would sink into “perpetual infamy and slavery.” Still, in spite of their perplexity, they persisted in asserting their independence of each of the rival powers, and played the one against the other, in order to strengthen their position with both. When Bellomont required them to surrender their French prisoners to him, they answered: “We are the masters; our prisoners are our own. We will keep them or give them to the French, if we choose.” At the same time, they told Callières that they would bring them to the English at Albany, and invited him to send thither his agents to receive them. They were much disconcerted, however, when letters were read to them which showed that, pending the action of commissioners to settle the dispute, the two kings had ordered their respective governors to refrain from all acts of hostility, and join forces, if necessary, to compel the Iroquois to keep quiet. [Footnote: _Le Roy à Frontenac, 25 Mars_, 1699. Frontenac’s death was not known at Versailles till April. _Le Roy d’ Angleterre a Bellomont, 2 Avril_, 1699; La Potherie, IV. 128; _Callières à Bellomont, 7 Août_, 1699.] This, with their enormous losses, and their desire to recover their people held captive in Canada, led them at last to serious thoughts of peace. Resolving at the same time to try the temper of the new Onontio, and yield no more than was absolutely necessary, they sent him but six ambassadors, and no prisoners. The ambassadors marched in single file to the place of council; while their chief, who led the way, sang a dismal song of lamentation for the French slain in the war, calling on them to thrust their heads above ground, behold the good work of peace, and banish every thought of vengeance. Callières proved, as they had hoped, less inexorable than Frontenac. He accepted their promises, and consented to send for the prisoners in their hands, on condition that within thirty-six days a full deputation of their principal men should come to Montreal. The Jesuit Bruyas, the Canadian Maricourt, and a French officer named Joncaire went back with them to receive the prisoners.

The history of Joncaire was a noteworthy one. The Senecas had captured him some time before, tortured his companions to death, and doomed him to the same fate. As a preliminary torment, an old chief tried to burn a finger of the captive in the bowl of his pipe, on which Joncaire knocked him down. If he had begged for mercy, their hearts would have been flint; but the warrior crowd were so pleased with this proof of courage that they adopted him as one of their tribe, and gave him an Iroquois wife. He lived among them for many years, and gained a commanding influence, which proved very useful to the French. When he, with Bruyas and Maricourt, approached Onondaga, which had long before risen from its ashes, they were greeted with a fusillade of joy, and regaled with the sweet stalks of young maize, followed by the more substantial refreshment of venison and corn beaten together into a pulp and boiled. The chiefs and elders seemed well inclined to peace; and, though an envoy came from Albany to prevent it, he behaved with such arrogance that, far from dissuading his auditors, he confirmed them in their resolve to meet Onontio at Montreal. They seemed willing enough to give up their French prisoners, but an unexpected difficulty arose from the prisoners themselves. They had been adopted into Iroquois families; and, having become attached to the Indian life, they would not leave it. Some of them hid in the woods to escape their deliverers, who, with their best efforts, could collect but thirteen, all women, children, and boys. With these, they returned to Montreal, accompanied By a peace embassy of nineteen Iroquois.

Peace, then, was made. “I bury the hatchet,” said Callières, “in a deep hole, and over the hole I place a great rock, and over the rock I turn a river, that the hatchet may never be dug up again.” The famous Huron, Kondiaronk, or the Rat, was present, as were also a few Ottawas, Abenakis, and converts of the Saut and the Mountain. Sharp words passed between them and the ambassadors; but at last they all laid down their hatchets at the feet of Onontio, and signed the treaty together. It was but a truce, and a doubtful one. More was needed to confirm it, and the following August was named for a solemn act of ratification. [Footnote: On these negotiations, La Potherie, IV. lettre xi.; N. Y. Col. Docs., IX. 708, 711, 715; Colden, 200; Callières au Ministre, 16 Oct., 1700; Champigny au Ministre, 22 Juillet, 1700; La Potherie au Ministre, 11 Aout, 1700; Ibid., 16 Oct., 1700; Callières et Champigny au Ministre, 18 Oct., 1700. See also N. Y. Col. Docs., IV., for a great number of English documents bearing on the subject.]

Father Engelran was sent to Michillimackinac, while Courtemanche spent the winter and spring in toilsome journeyings among the tribes of the west. Such was his influence over them that he persuaded them all to give up their Iroquois prisoners, and send deputies to the grand council. Engelran had had scarcely less success among the northern tribes; and early in July a great fleet of canoes, conducted by Courtemanche, and filled with chiefs, warriors, and Iroquois prisoners, paddled down the lakes for Montreal. Meanwhile Bruyas, Maricourt, and Joncaire had returned on the same errand to the Iroquois towns; but, so far as concerned prisoners, their success was no greater than before. Whether French or Indian, the chiefs were slow to give them up, saying that they had all been adopted into families who would not part with them unless consoled for the loss by gifts. This was true; but it was equally true of the other tribes, whose chiefs had made the necessary gifts, and recovered the captive Iroquois. Joncaire and his colleagues succeeded, however, in leading a large deputation of chiefs and elders to Montreal.

Courtemanche with his canoe fleet from the lakes was not far behind; and when their approach was announced, the chronicler, La Potherie, full of curiosity, went to meet them at the mission village of the Saut. First appeared the Iroquois, two hundred in all, firing their guns as their canoes drew near, while the mission Indians, ranged along the shore, returned the salute. The ambassadors were conducted to a capacious lodge, where for a quarter of an hour they sat smoking with immovable composure. Then a chief of the mission made a speech, and then followed a feast of boiled dogs. In the morning they descended the rapids to Montreal, and in due time the distant roar of the saluting cannon told of their arrival.

They had scarcely left the village, when the river was covered with the canoes of the western and northern allies. There was another fusillade of welcome as the heterogeneous company landed, and marched to the great council-house. The calumet was produced, and twelve of the assembled chiefs sang a song, each rattling at the same time a dried gourd half full of peas. Six large kettles were next brought in, containing several dogs and a bear suitably chopped to pieces, which being ladled out to the guests were despatched in an instant, and a solemn dance and a supper of boiled corn closed the festivity.

The strangers embarked again on the next day, and the cannon of Montreal greeted them as they landed before the town. A great quantity of evergreen boughs had been gathered for their use, and of these they made their wigwams outside the palisades. Before the opening of the grand council, a multitude of questions must be settled, jealousies soothed, and complaints answered. Callières had no peace. He was busied for a week in giving audience to the deputies. There was one question which agitated them all, and threatened to rekindle the war. Kondiaronk, the Rat, the foremost man among all the allied tribes, gave utterance to the general feeling: “My father, you told us last autumn to bring you all the Iroquois prisoners in our hands. We have obeyed, and brought them. Now let us see if the Iroquois have also obeyed, and brought you our people whom they captured during the war. If they have done so, they are sincere; if not, they are false. But I know that they have not brought them. I told you last year that it was better that they should bring their prisoners first. You see now how it is, and how they have deceived us.”

The complaint was just, and the situation became critical. The Iroquois deputies were invited to explain themselves. They stalked into the council-room with their usual haughty composure, and readily promised to surrender the prisoners in future, but offered no hostages for their good faith. The Rat, who had counselled his own and other tribes to bring their Iroquois captives to Montreal, was excessively mortified at finding himself duped. He came to a later meeting, when this and other matters were to be discussed; but he was so weakened by fever that he could not stand. An armchair was brought him; and, seated in it, he harangued the assembly for two hours, amid a deep silence, broken only by ejaculations of approval from his Indian hearers. When the meeting ended, he was completely exhausted; and, being carried in his chair to the hospital, he died about midnight. He was a great loss to the French; for, though he had caused the massacre of La Chine, his services of late years had been invaluable. In spite of his unlucky name, he was one of the ablest North American Indians on record, as appears by his remarkable influence over many tribes, and by the respect, not to say admiration, of his French contemporaries.

The French charged themselves with the funeral rites, carried the dead chief to his wigwam, stretched him on a robe of beaver skin, and left him there lying in state, swathed in a scarlet blanket, with a kettle, a gun, and a sword at his side, for his use in the world of spirits. This was a concession to the superstition of his countrymen; for the Rat was a convert, and went regularly to mass. [Footnote: La Potherie, IV. 229. Charlevoix suppresses the kettle and gun, and says that the dead chief wore a sword and a uniform, like a French officer. In fact, he wore Indian leggins and a capote under his scarlet blanket.] Even the Iroquois, his deadliest foes, paid tribute to his memory. Sixty of them came in solemn procession, and ranged themselves around the bier; while one of their principal chiefs pronounced an harangue, in which he declared that the sun had covered his face that day in grief for the loss of the great Huron. [Footnote: Charlevoix says that these were Christian Iroquois of the missions. Potherie, his only authority, proves them to have been heathen, as their chief mourner was a noted Seneca, and their spokesman, Avenano, was the accredited orator of the Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, in whose name he made the