Garneau's History of Canada, Brownson's Quarterly Review for Oct., 1853

Garneau’s History of Canada

It is but a short time since this second edition of M. Garneau’s valuable History of Canada came to our knowledge.  We had for some years been acquainted with the first edition, but we did not review it, because we seemed to discover certain objectionable doctrines advanced in it, which we had been given to understand would be corrected in a second impression, as well as some few trifling inaccuracies into which the author had unconsciously fallen, and which he would be enabled to rectify by consulting some highly important state papers not previously accessible to him.

This History appears at a very seasonable time; and truly and earnestly would we desire to have it well and extensively read by all our American friends.  These are the days of progress and manifest destiny; we are again encroaching on Mexico, and long and wistful are the glances we cast on Central America: the present administration will not quit office until Cuba is annexed, if annexation be possible.  The natural limits of our glorious republic are vast oceans, the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the ice-bound polar seas.  If our people rest satisfied with these limits, and do not annex the Sandwich Islands, or fit out Japan expeditions to more effect than our energetic government; if they do not excite new revolutions in China, and, awaking in the gold-hunters of Australia old reminisces of a common origin, language, and system of laws, kindle in them longings after independence and union with the greatest of republics,- we shall consider them as quite moderate, although they will be held by many to be false and recreant to their professions, and to the principles of democracy and manifest destiny.  Nevertheless, if not the whole boundless world, at least the entire North American continent must be ours, must grow prosperous and become opulent and renowned under the stars and stripes.

Not the most insignificant portion of this continent is one which Nature, we are told, doubtless intended to have included in the American Union, a country more extensive than have been many empires of the Old World, whose lakes are as oceans, whose rivulets are swifter, deeper, and broader than the famed rivers of European history, and whose population is counted almost by millions, and yet is scarcely noted in our wild enthusiasm for territorial aggrandizement and the spread of democratic principles.  Canada, we are assured, must soon come.  England cannot long hold her North American provinces in subjection; she has already abandoned almost the entire administration of their internal affairs to the local Parliaments, and has given them more than one broad hint that she shall not hold herself responsible for them if they become embroiled with foreign powers.  As a matter of course, therefore, they must seek admission to our all-engrossing republic.  Such may be the case; we do not dispute it, neither do we accord it. 

Yet before it is taken for granted that such will be the case, it would be well to inquire somewhat into the nature of this country, its resources, its past history, the character of its people, and their institutions.  We know of no work better adapted to satisfy such inquiries than this History by M. Garneau.  Unlike the generality of history-makers in our days, he writes history, not dissertations upon history or its so-called philosophy.  He advances few opinions of his own, and those few, as it were, only casually; he does not assume to be the pedagogue as well as the recorder of facts, but leaves the reader to draw his own inferences.  He neither writes in the support of a hobby, nor in the interests of a party to whose support he must sacrifice truth and principle.  So far as we have been able to judge, it seems to have been his conviction that a good history of Canada was needed: he loved his country and sincerely desired to see her occupy a position among the nations of the earth.  A vast amount of pious letters, it is true, had been written by holy missionaries, memoirs, incomplete and mangled sketches to any amount, but none, unless we except Charlevoix’s, worthy to be called a history, none which a Canadian would peruse without blushing for the patience which allowed ignorance or prejudice thus to confound the whole interests of a people with the toils of a poor missionary among the savages or the experience of an attache of the government.  M. Garneau may have been indignant to hear it announced, as we ourselves heard it somewhat pompously announced, that a noted ecclesiastic, who a few years since came from Paris to visit this country,  whence he went to Canada, and spent an entire winter and spring at Montreal, at one time, however, going as far as the Lake of the Two Mountains, where he passed several days studying the character, habits, and manners of the abiogenies, was to enrich Canada with a history such as no Canadian could prepare.  Our author may not have thought the quiet solitudes of Issy the best fitted for the historian of a country more than a thousand leagues distant, nor the famous grot where Bossuet and Fenelon disputed on Madame de Guyon’s sanctity, however many souvenirs it might awaken of Louis the Fourteenth’s age, the best calculated to inspire the recorder of Indian cruelties, any more than the well-trimmed walks around, and prettily cropped lawns, are calculated to convey an adequate idea of the deep and somber shades of our primeval forests.  Whatever may have been his motives in writing his History, he certainly seems to have undertaken it for no selfish ends, but with a conscientious resolution to give a succinct and faithful narrative of the dangers and vicissitudes through which his country has come to be what it is.  We have examined his work thoroughly, and although we have here and there detected certain inaccuracies, and met some expressions which we could well wish had been omitted, since, even if true, they have the air of having been dictated by bitterness of feeling and private wrong, and are not called for by the general tenor of the facts he narrates, we must bear witness to the very superior manner in which he has accomplished his laborious task, to the high artistic merit of his History, and the purity and grace of his style, which many a celebrated Parisian litteraire might vainly strive to equal.

But apart from the peculiar interest which a History of Canada is calculated to excite at the present moment, it will not be found unworthy of a diligent perusal for its own sake, not will it prove uninteresting.  In many, but not in all respects, the early settlement of Canada resembled that of our own country.  The two countries were, it is true, settled by very different classes of men, actuated by very different motives, and aiming at very different results; but both had long and sanguinary wars to wage with the savages, and to contend against the jealousy, apathy, and short-sighted policy of a home government, the rigors of a northern climate, and their own mutual hostilities.  Of the character of our own Puritan fathers we have not now to speak; it is too well known and established, with all its vices and many of its good qualities.  It would be as idle to deny that they possessed the elements of a great people, as it would be to question their personal courage and enterprise.  But it is with Canada and the Canadians that we have now to do.

The old Quirites, in the palmiest days of ancient Rome, vaunted their origin and descent from the Trojans, the establishment of their nation in Italy by Aeneas and the few who escaped the vengeance of the cruel Achilles and the flames of Troy; and they were proud to regard the dangers and difficulties they had been obliged to encounter and overcome, as a certain augury of the eminence to which their race, founded in despite of such obstacles, was destined.  Their greatest epic poet rehearses them all, the wrath of Juno, storm and shipwreck, seas crossed and recrossed multos per annos, then proudly exclaims:- “Tante molis erat Romanum condere gentem.”  Such was the dauntless and persevering Roman’s idea of the hardship and difficulty.  A battle to two dispersed the armies of Turnus, and Aeneas became the heir of the Latian throne.  How would Aeneas and his companions have fared, had they embarked upon the boisterous Atlantic, and once got fairly out of sight of land?  The skillful Palinurus would hardly have found his way through the heavy fogs on and about the Banks of Newfoundland, and worse than Scylla and Charybdis would have proved those vast icebergs the Atlantic navigator so often meets.  No armies drawn up in battle array would have thrown every thing upon the issue of one engagement, no fair Lavinia, heiress of a kingdom, would here have welcomed his alliance.  Now that the ocean is almost bridged with noble packets and steam-ships, we scarcely think of its perils, nor of what they were to its first navigators; and now that the forests have been cleared, and the red men driven far from our peaceful homes, we forget how fearful was their war-whoop when it burst upon the scattered frontiersmen.  But let whoever will consider the difficulties the settlers of these regions had to encounter, and all the epic trials, the fabulous achievements of mythological times, and the world-renowned perseverance of the old Romans sink into mean insignificance. 

The French nation seems to have been the first to avail itself of Cabot’s discoveries.  Early in the sixteenth century, a number of French vessels were engaged in the cod-fishery upon the Banks of Newfoundland; and it is certain that in the year 1506 one Jean Denys had already drawn up a chart of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and that two years afterwards a Dieppe shipmaster, Aubert by name, carried several natives of Canada over to France as specimens.  Indeed, if we admit the authority of the well-known legal work entitled Us et Coutumes de la Mer, we must tear the laurels from the brow of Columbus, and maintain that the whalers of Guienne and Cape Breton, near Bayonne, in their search after the monsters of the deep, became so hazardous as to venture into all latitudes and longitudes; that they thus discovered Newfoundland, Cape Breton, and Canada, a hundred years before Columbus set sail from Palos; and that if the Castilians were as anxious for the truth as they have been ardent to rob the French of their glory, they would acknowledge with Christopher Witfliet, Anthony Magin, and Anthony of St. Roman, a Benedictine religious, that the pilot who first told Columbus of the existence of the New World was one of nos Basques Terreneuviers.   

We do not vouch for the truth of this, but would refer the reader to Humboldt’s Cosmos, Vol. 2, Pt. 2, para. 6, and to the Bull of Pope Victor the Second, dated the 29th of October in the year 1056, in which he confirms to Adalbert, Archbishop of Hamburg and Bremen, all his ancient privileges; among others, his right to be the legate of the Holy See in all the countries of the North, expressly in Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and Greenland.

Francis the First sent Verrazzani, a Florentine, in the year 1523, on a voyage of discovery to the New World.  Of this voyage we have no account.  In a second, he coasted along our shores from Florida to Newfoundland.  He afterwards sailed on a third voyage, but nothing was ever after heard either of him or his companions.  The fate of this celebrated navigator considerably damped the ardor of Francis the First for Transatlantic expeditions, and it was not until after the peace of Cambrai that Philippe de Chabot, Admiral of France, could again excite it, and induce him to send Jacques Cartier, a shipmaster of St. Maloes, to lay claim in his behalf to some portion of the lately discovered continent; and when the kings of Spain and Portugal protested against his project, he exclaimed, “Why may not I, as well as my brothers, share in this new discovery?  I would like to see the clause in Adam’s will that devises to them alone this vast heritage!”

Cartier sailed in the year 1534 from St. Maloes, but only explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence, already well known, and penetrated as far as the fifty-first degree of latitude, in search of a northwest passage to China; but in this project, which no wise man can now regard as other than chimerical, he, like so many others down to Sir John Franklin, signally failed.  In the following year he sailed on a second voyage, and ascended the river St. Lawrence as high as the Isle of Orleans, and then, as the season was far advanced, took the audacious resolution, as our author terms it, of passing the winter in that inhospitable land.  He put his small fleet into winter quarters in the river St. Charles, near the Indian village Stadacone, now Quebec, and then continued his explorations.  Cartier, like so many of his countrymen, who, after the establishment of the French colonies in Canada, were at the head of the government, knew very well how to acquire and maintain an influence over the savages, which enabled them, without absolutely expelling the prior occupants of the soil, to reclaim and civilize it, and to create dissensions among the different tribes, by which they succeeded in seriously weakening, if not in entirely breaking, the power of their opponents, and in destroying at the same time their own allies not less effectually than their more open-dealing southern neighbors destroyed their enemies, and that too without incurring the like odium.  He certainly had the tact to acquire the friendship of the savages he encountered; and under this point of view, if under no other, the winter he spent in Canada was highly advantageous to French interests.  On his return to France in the spring, he found it torn by internal dissensions, and involved in a sanguinary was with the Emperor Charles the Fifth.  It was then no time to talk of sending out colonies, or to make provision for their maintenance, and no new expedition was undertaken until several years after, when de la Roque, Lord of Roberval, was made governor of the lately explored regions.  He at once chose Cartier to command a fleet of five vessels destined to transport colonists to the new country, and he himself followed during the next year, 1542, with three vessels and two hundred more colonists.  But this expedition failed through the apathy of the French government; and after eighteen months passed in Canada, the attempt at colonization was abandoned.  In the year 1549, under the Reign of Henry the Second, De la Roque set out on a new expedition, but neither he nor his associates ever reached their destination, nor was ant thing ever known of their fate.

The Marquis de la Roche, in the year 1598, next obtained from Henry the Third the charge of lieutenant-generalship over all Canada, Acadia, and the circumjacent country, with extraordinary powers, and set out to colonize his territory; but he very foolishly left his colonists, forty in number, on the Sile of Sable, and then managed to get driven off the coast.  It was five years before any relief was sent to the unfortunate colonists abandoned on a desert island, where the thermometer often sinks in winter to more than forty degrees below zero, and then all but twelve had perished.

In the year 1600, Chauvin, a French naval officer, made a very successful trading voyage to Canada; and three years after, Pontgrave, a wealthy merchant of St. maloes, accompanied by the celebrated Champlain, than a captain in the French navy, sailed on an exploring expedition, and ascended the St. Lawrence as high as the Sault St. Louis.  Henry the Fourth was so much pleased with the charts they showed him of the new country, and with their description of it, that he at once conferred great powers upon Pierre Dugua Sieur de Monts and Governor of Pons, and commissioned him to found a colony in New France.  De Monts organized a trading company, and sailed from Havre de Grace in the year 1604, accompanied by Champlain and the Baron de Poutrin court, with a number of colonists.  Pontgrave afterwards joined them with more colonists, and they laid the foundations of Port Royal in Acadia, now Annapolis, which, after having been several times abandoned, and having undergone the greatest vicissitudes,- the intrigues and hostility of the Marchioness of Guercheville,  who purchased the rights of De Monts in Acadia, and distinguished herself by her support of the Jesuits, ruining Poutrincourt and reducing the poor inhabitants to the hard necessity of subsisting an entire winter on roots and acorns,- finally passed into the hands of the English.

Champlain, acting as the lietenant of M. de Monts, whose powers, after having been for a short time revoked, were now restored for twelve months, set sail in the year 1608, with two vessels, the one for the purposes of trade, the other for the transportation of colonists.  He disembarked at Quebec, the 3rd of July, on the site of the present Lower City, beneath the rocky promontory which Nature seemed to have formed to be the cradle and seat of a new empire, and the magnificent situation of which had struck all who ascended the river, even from the days of Jacques Cartier.  Here Champlain determined to fix his establishment, and he set all his people at work, some to clear the land, others to construct a large fortified building.  Then bustle and confusion took the place of the deep silence  which had hitherto reigned almost supreme upon those solitary banks, and announced to the passing savages that European activity had laid the foundations of a Great City, to be famous long after in the history of the New World.

The French settlement in Canada was now fairly commenced.  Its fate was often uncertain; it shifted with the enterprise or folly of the various trading-companies under whose auspices it was long placed,- with the prudence and energy of the different governors and lieutenants-general, such as the Comte de Soissons, the Prince de Conde, the Due de Ventadour, and Cardinal Richelieu, and of their deputies,- but nevertheless slowly gained strength, and saw its frontiers gradually extended until Quebec, in the year 1629, reduced by famine, surrendered to Sir David Keith, acting under the orders of the Earl of Stirling, English governor of Acadia.  It was however restored a few years after by the treaty of St. Germain, and the old regime, perfectly arbitrary and despotic as it was, was reestablished.  Thirty years afterwards the last of the great trading-companies was dissolved, and Canada passed directly under the control of the king, and the governors he chose to appoint.  An effort was made to establish a council as a check upon the governor, and it was not entirely unsuccessful.  It was first called the sovereign council, on the principle, we presume, of lucus a non lucendo, for its powers were extremely limited.  But even this could not escape the all-searching jealousy of Louis the Fourteenth.  “What have they to do in Canada with sovereignty?”  asked he.  “Let the council be called superior, but not sovereign.”  The administration of justice was at the same time placed under the Intendant, and subjected to certain reforms.  From the restoration of Quebec until the year 1690, Canada remained in a state of comparative tranquility so far as the English and their colonies were concerned; but she had at all times the hostility of various Indian tribes to contend with.

Stadacone and Hochelaga, on whose site Montreal was built, had been abandoned, and those savages who peopled the country at the date of Cartier’s first visit to it had disappeared long before Champlain laid the foundations of his colony of Quebec.  The country was now peopled by still more barbarous tribes of the Huron family, deadly enemies of the Iroquois, with whom they had long been at war.  Champlain regarded it as his best policy to form an alliance with his nearest neighbors; he espoused their quarrel, and found himself involved in a war with the Iroquois, which lasted longer than the French domination on the banks of the St. Lawrence.  He had unwittingly taken the side of the weak; but neither he nor his successors could save them from utter ruin.  Soon after the establishment of Montreal, which was founded by M. de Maison-neuve, in the year 1642, the war between the Hurons and the Iroquois broke out with redoubled fury.  Every day the superiority of the Iroquois became more and more apparent, their victories more and more decisive.  A peace was indeed effected by the exertions of the governor, M. de Montmagny, which lasted nearly two years; but a fatal epidemic broke out among the Iroquois, and their harvests were destroyed by worms.  These misfortunes they attributed to the sorceries of Fr. Jogues; in their fury they seized him and a young Frenchman, killed them, cut off their heads and paraded them about on poles, and threw their bodies into the river.  This outrage they well knew broke the peace, and they resolved to follow up the rupture; they collected all their forces, and first surprised the Huron village of St. Joseph in the absence of the fighting men, and butchered old, men, women, and children, to the number of seven hundred.  This was one of the many villages where the Indians converted to Christianity lived under the direction of the missionaries.  Fr. Daniel was the pastor of St. Joseph, and he perished nobly with his neophytes.  The next expedition of the Iroquois was against the village of St. Ignatius, where they slaughtered about four hundred persons, and took prisoners FF. Breboeuf and Lalemant, whom they afterwards tortured and killed.  After these massacres the success of the contending parties was for a time nearly equally balanced; but the superiority of the Iroquois finally triumphed in a great battle in which the principal Huron warriors perished.  In less than eight days every Huron village, excepting that of St. Mary, was deserted: the unfortunate wretches sought refuge in the Isle of St. Joseph, but here also misfortune pursued them.

“They depended on fishing and the chase; but both chase and fishery failed, and even before the close of autumn they were out of provisions.  What a prospect for a long winter!  They were soon reduced to all the horrors of famine: they violated the graves of their fathers, and fed on their rotten flesh; infant died in the arms of their mothers, and the mothers devoured their dead infants.  These were scenes which shocked even barbarism.  But they had not too long to await the ordinary consequences of famine.  Contagious diseases soon broke out, and carried off many of those whom famine had spared.  The missionaries here, amid these scenes of desolation, as everyone else, acted like true men of God.  The wretched Hurons knew not in their despair whom to blame, and they attributed to these apostles themselves their present situation.  ‘Our mortal foes, the Iroquois,’ they said, ‘believe not in God, nor love prayer; their iniquities are without bounds, and yet they prosper.  Our fathers, since we have abandoned their customs, slay and massacre us, burn us, and totally destroy our villages.  What avails it to us that we have listened to the Gospel, if faith and death march hand in hand?  We see no white heads among us, now that we have learned to pray: we all die before our time.’

“Tribes which had numbered eight hundred fighting men were now reduced to thirty, and these old men and women.” – Vol. 1 pp. 132, 133.

Some of the Hurons sought an asylum among the French; others mingled with the neighboring nations, and drew upon them also the deadly hatred of the Iroquois; others found a home in Pennsylvania; others fled far beyond Lake Superior; and a few finally became incorporated with the victors; and their country all along the banks a wild and uninhabited waste.

Not long afterwards a peace was concluded between the French and the Iroquois, which, although interrupted at times, as well by the Iroquois scalping-parties as by the French expeditions against them, did, nevertheless, afford the Canadians much tranquility, and enable them to establish a great number of forts and settlements, to extend their frontiers, and to push their discoveries all through the Western country as far as the Rocky Mountains, and to the South as far as the Gulf of Mexico, where the colony of Louisiana was shortly after established.

The French emigrants to Canada may be divided into three classes.  The missionaries, like the Franciscans, and more especially the Jesuits, who made new missions and the conversion of whole peoples their object, but who nevertheless founded a college at Quebec, or like the Sulpicians, who bought the island of Montreal, and seignorial rights over it, soon after its first colonization, and laid the foundations of a great and noble establishment there, which is today what it was two hundred years ago.  A second class comprised the colonists, properly so called, persons who from motives of piety, poverty, or to escape the sword of justice bared against them at home, were content to take up their abode in the cold regions of the North.  The emigration of this class was never patronized by the French government, and was naturally enough strenuously opposed by the directors of the fur-trading companies; they knew very well that wild beasts and civilized men could not dwell together, and, looking only to their own material interests, they preferred to have the country reserved for the wild beasts.  The third class consisted of traders, merchants, whose only business was to carry on the fur trade with the savages, and bold adventurers, gentlemen for the most part, who came hither to escape the restraints of a civilized life, or the restrictions Henry the Fourth and his successors laid on their order, but who yet had no aristocratical scruples as to turning a penny in a close bargain with a drunken Indian; officers also of the army and navy, who, wearied of fighting in the old style, sought new adventures here, new explorations, new discoveries, a new El Dorado, such as Cortez and Pizarro found in Mexico and Peru.

Singular as it may seem, the first and last of these classes were ever the most closely allied.  The missionaries and the reckless adventurers who, whether they were without reproach or not, were most undeniably without fear, travelled together; together they traversed for thousands of leagues a country never before trodden by a European.  The missionary with his cross and his breviary, the reckless trader intent on gain, were not men likely to be balked by any ordinary perils or obstacles; for the latter found a rich harvest ready reaped to his hands by the far distant Indian tribes, and it cost him but a mere trifle, a necklace or a string of beads, a handsomely mounted rifle or a jug of fire-water, to load his canoes with furs afterwards to adorn prince and prelate at the gay French court.  The former had the glory of his order and the service of his Divine Master in view, and never did the Jesuit appear so worthy of the Society founded by a St. Ignatius as when announcing the truths of the Christian religion to the wild, uncivilized barbarian. When he met assembled nations,- as did F. Allouez, at a great village of the Chippewas, savages from the farthest banks of Lake Michigan, the Sacs, who inhabited all the wild country between the same lake and the Mississippi, the Knisteneaux from the swampy forests of the North, the Illinois, who roamed over those vast prairies which now wave with rich harvests, and the Sioux Indians from the very base of the Rocky Mountains,- he became eloquent, and announced the glad tidings of eternal salvation in words which burned into the very hearts of the untamed children of the forest.  They penetrated far beyond the Laurentides, even to Hudson’s Bay, roamed through all the country of the Sioux, and sailed down the great Mississippi until the wide ocean burst upon their enraptured gaze.   

 Champlain, Perrot, Joliet, and La Salle were first and foremost among the adventurers: the names of FF. Allouez, Marquette, Breboeuf, Jogues, Druillettes, Mesnard, and Hennepin are among the names civilization and Christianity ought ever to honor for their zeal, devotion, and intrepidity.

It was fortunate for Canada that she enjoyed this period of comparative tranquility, for the time was fast approaching when she was to encounter a foe of a far different character from that of her savage neighbors.

In order to quiet the Iroquois, a convention of their chiefs and those of several other nations was proposed in the year 1687.  It met, and a treaty of peace was solemnly concluded; but a Huron forest-born Machiavelli, the Rat, as he was called by the French, had the tact to induce the Iroquois to break the peace.  It was not, however, until the year 1689 that the storm gathering burst.  In the language of our author:-

“Nothing announced any extraordinary event, when, on the night of the 5th of August, fourteen hundred Iroquois crossed Lake St. Louis under cover of a hail-storm, and silently landed on the upper part of the Island of Montreal.  Before morning they had placed their sentinels in squads upon every house for leagues around.  The inhabitants were all plunged in sleep,- to many an eternal sleep.  The savages awaited the signal,- which was finally given: and the massacre everywhere commenced at the same moment: they slaughtered men, women, and children: they fired the houses of those who resisted, and these, as they rushed out, fell into the hands of the assailants, who exhausted upon them all that fury could inspire to barbarians.” – Vol. 1 p. 274.

Other barbarities also were they guilty of, too shocking for belief, were they not familiar to all acquainted with the early history of the north American colonies.  Mothers forced to roast their own infants put living on the spit, and two hundred persons of every age and sex burnt to death, the whole island ravaged and inundated with blood as far as the gates of Montreal, was not enough to cloy their insatiable appetite: from La Chine they crossed the river and burnt the entire parish of La Chenaie, and massacred all the inhabitants.

The governor, Denonville, then at Montreal, knew not what to do.  He abandoned the poor colonists to their fate, and obliged all the soldiery to remain within the walls of the city.  After this, his masterpiece of pusillanimity, Denonville was superseded in the government by the Count of Frontenac.  

James the Second had just been succeeded by William the Third on the English throne, and hostilities had again broken out between France and England.  Frontenac was not the man to remain idle when blood could be spilt or butchery done; and he at once made every possible preparation for the promotion of French interests within his own sphere of command.

During the administration of Denonville, the Chevalier de Callieres had formed a plan for taking the city of New York, and of thus subjecting the entire province of that name.   So anxious was he to put into execution, that he went to France and proposed it to Louis the Fourteenth.  “Give me,” he said, “fourteen hundred regular troops and six hundred chosen Canadians, and I will advance by the River Richelieu and Lake Champlain.  Albany is not walled, has only three hundred inhabitants, and is defended by only one hundred and fifty soldiers; New York has no other fortifications than a stone fort, and has only two hundred infantry and the same number of cavalry.  This conquest will render you master of one of the finest ports in America, and of a fertile country in a superb climate.”  Louis the Great, as some affect to call him, saw nothing very great in such a plan, and with his wonted apathy let it pass.   But Frontenac thought better of it, and finally succeeded in awakening Louis the Fourteenth.  They then laid their plans for the total subversion of the English domination on this continent.  The plans had much about them that was good; they went into details and provided for all and several the contingencies which would be likely to arise after their execution; but the chief difficulty was, after all, the execution of them.  The English were to be chased from Hudson’s Bay and all the North; inroads were to be made all along the frontiers; New York was to be attacked both by land and water, and the Chevalier de Callieres was to govern the new conquest.  His instructions were to leave the Catholic population unmolested, provided he could depend upon their fidelity, and to take prisoners all the officers and principal citizens, and hold them to heavy ransoms.  New York once taken, new England, it was supposed, and the more Southern colonies, would become more easily assailable.  Moreover, a line of forts was to be established from Lake Ontario to the Mississippi, which were gradually to be drawn closer and closer to the English colonies, until they - drove us overboard.

Certainly all this looked very well on paper, and it was no fault either of the French government or of its representatives in Canada if it was not put into execution.  It was not abandoned so long as France retained a foothold upon the banks of the St. Lawrence, and even in times of peace she never ceased to push her preparations, make alliances for herself among the Indian tribes, and create enemies to the English colonies, so that upon the breaking out of hostilities she could well congratulate herself that in peace she had verily prepared for war.

The expedition to Hudson’s Bay was deemed successful; three English ships were captured.  That against New York, however, amounted to nothing.  But some of the Indian expeditions got up under Frontenac’s auspices and headed by French officers were more terrible in their consequences.  The first of these was directed against Pemaquid, a small settlement in Maine, which they burnt, together with a dozen or more forts in that region, and renewed all the horrors of which Montreal had but lately been the theatre; that is, according to our author, the Indians and their French or Canadian leaders committed barbarities which would shock barbarity itself, and availed themselves of all the tortures which the Iroquois had passed day after day in devising.  We beg to refer our readers to M. Garneau’s account of the massacre at Montreal (Vol. 1 pp. 274,275), of which we have just spoken.  Simultaneously with this expedition, another under the command of Aillebout de Mantet and Lemoine de Ste. Helene, of which many gentlemen formed a part, was set on foot against Schenectady, the frightful success of which will long fill a bloody page in the annals of Indian cruelties.

The English colonies on their part were not idle; they made great preparations, but accomplished little.  Sie William Phipps appeared before Quebec with a moderate armament, but, finding the place too well fortified, retired, after having made a slight demonstration, and abandoned some of his munitions of war.

The peace of Ryswick put an end to hostilities, in the year 1697, and it remained unbroken until the question of the Spanish succession again kindled the flames of war, only to be extinguished by the treaty of Utrecht, which left France shorn of a great portion of her American possessions, and Louis the Fourteenth humbled and in disgrace, as every king deserves to be who rules his kingdom from the cabinet of his mistresses.

A long period of repose was now given to the governors of Canada, to execute the plan long before formed, of gradually encroaching on the English provinces by drawing their line of forts closer and closer upon them, all the way from the great lakes to the Mississippi.  It was with this intention that M. de Galissoniere and the Marquises de Jonquiere, Duquesne, and Vaudreuil, who succeeded him in the government, established forts at Detroit, Toronto, Ogdensburg, and those of Machaux, Presqu’Isle, and Duquesne.  When, then, the war of the Austrian succession broke out, Canada, although somewhat neglected by the home government, was nevertheless in an excellent condition to carry on offensive operations.  Through the influence of the missionaries, she had acquired a vast influence over the savages far and near; many of them were indeed converted to Christianity, but they had not therefore lost the cruel and bloodthirsty nature, treacherous and barbarous, of the North American aborigines.  Sunk almost to the lowest level of humanity, hardly possessing one virtue save those of endurance and personal courage, they were only still more sanguinary, more ferocious, and more implacable, when acting under French officers.  It mattered little that France sent to their assistance but moderate numbers of regular troops, for these were not adapted to warfare in the woods, where forced marches, surprise, and rapid butchery were the elements of victory.

Truly Canada owed much to the missionaries,- more than any historian of our acquaintance is willing to accord.  Witness the sack of Deerfield, a single instance.  The savages refused to accompany Hertel de Rouville unless their pastor would join them.  Join them he did, and often when they were on the point of refusing to proceed, he encouraged and cheered them on; he shared with them all the fatigues of a journey for a hundred leagues in the depth of winter, and dishonored the ministry of his God and the Society of which he was a member by his presence at the slaughter of old men, defenseless women, and children.  Oftentimes, it is true, they were only tools in the hands of designing men.  Such was F. de Lamberville, who was sent with rich presents to the Onondagas by M. de Denonville, and commissioned to invite their chiefs to a great conference at Catarocoui.  His influence alone induced them to go: they went, and were immediately seized and sent to France, loaded with irons.

This influence which the Canadian government had acquired now served them admirably; through it they were enabled to make inroads and depredations wherever they were least expected.

The war, interrupted for a moment by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, by which Louisburg, lately taken by New England militia-men under Pepperell, was restored to its old masters, soon broke out anew, and was waged with redoubled animosity.  It lasted seven years, and was, especially on this continent, distinguished as well for the fierceness and cruelty with which it was carried on, as for its many cold-blooded massacres; such as took place, for example, after the capitulation of Fort Oswego, where the Indian allies of the French slaughtered a great number of prisoners and scalped all the inmates of the hospitals; and at Fort William Henry, where two thousand three hundred soldiers surrendered with the honors of war, and yet only thirteen hundred escaped the tomahawk of the savages.  It is only justice to the Canadians to add, that both these expeditions were commanded by the much admired Montcalm, the ablest and most active general the French ever sent to their country, but who, nevertheless, availed not to oppose successfully the perseverance and steady courage arrayed against him: he lived long enough to see the banners of Wolfe floating in triumph over the Heights of Abraham, and to die assured that the star of French domination had forever gone down upon the western world.  Quebec was taken in the year 1759; the whole country soon followed its fate, and in 1763 her conquest was confirmed to England by solemn treaty.

It was full time for the country to pass into other hands.  The population, then numbering nearly sixty thousand, was at the mercy of a government which, emulating Louis the Fifteenth’s court, had become utterly corrupt, venal, and unprincipled.  No government officials were prohibited from engaging in commercial pursuits, and were prohibited from engaging in commercial pursuits, and oftentimes the governor was himself the most extensive trader.  Upon their return to France, the principal members of the last administration were subjected to criminal prosecutions.  M. de Vaudreuil, the late governor, was acquitted, but Bigot, the Intendant, was forever banished from the kingdom, and all his goods were confiscated.  Thirty or forty others were banished, or fined to the amount of over eleven million francs.  No doubt the French minister, M. Berryer, had a motive in diverting the public indignation at seeing sixty thousand of their own people, practicing the same religion, living under the same laws, and speaking the same language, pass under a foreign yoke, and was not unwilling to conjure down the storm which he knew to be about to burst over his own guilty head by sacrificing those who had long and strenuously, though vainly, striven to avert the long foreseen and fatal event.  Some idea may be formed of the efforts made to save Canada when we learn that from the year 1749 to 1760 the expenses of the war amounted to one hundred and twenty-three millions of livres. 

We do no regard the government established in Canada after the conquest as by any means perfect, but it never has been, so far as we are informed, guilty of those gross abuses which disgraced the old regime.  The policy of England in her administration of Canadian affairs seems to have been far more liberal than is usual in a colonial government; and it certainly has proved more advantageous to religion and the healthy growth of the country than could have been a French government.  Our author gives a narrative of all the principal events of our Revolutionary war so far as they regard his country, and it may not be found uninteresting to those, who have read American history only in the writings of Americans, to study some phases of that history as seen by a stranger.  Our offensive operations as well in that war as in the war of 1812 were mainly directed to the conquest of Canada; and our own country was more than once assailed from that direction.

If they proved nothing else, these wars at the least proved that no number of troops can ever suffice to defend the long line of Canadian and American frontiers.  Should there be another war with England, of which indeed we see no prospect, Canada must be abandoned; for it would, in the present state of things, be totally indefensible.  Quebec, it is true, is accounted a second Gibraltar, and utterly impregnable.  We have our doubts as to the truth of this; but even granting it to be true, Quebec does not by any means overlook the whole country, nor rule its destiny.  It commands the navigation of the St. Lawrence, but with the present facilities for railroad communication between the Atlantic sea-board and all parts of Canada, it could very well be dispenses with.  Except as a depot for troops and munitions of war, the citadel of Quebec with all its fortifications seems to us of little more utility than would be a castle built on the very summit of the Jungfrau.  England’s position in Canada is, however, an excellent one for her to hold, even as she now holds it, as a check upon us, at an annual expense of more than a million pounds sterling.

We could have desired fuller details upon several points of ecclesiastical history than we find in the volumes before us.  Very little is said of the part acted by the Sulpitians in public affairs, and yet they must have had a potent voice in council.  It is, however, related (Vol. 1 pp.216, et seq.) that when Frontenac, during his administration, committed Perrot, governor of Montreal, to await his trial for insubordination, the clergy generally sided with Perrot, and several Messieurs of the seminary of St. Sulpice, and especially their Superiors, Salignac Fenelon, Cure of Montreal, openly espoused his cause. 

“The Abbe Fenelon in his sermon for Easter Sunday,” our author says, “loudly blamed the conduct of the governor, and denounced it as violent and tyrannical; and, passing from words to acts, went through the city collecting signatures to a remonstrance to the king.  This boldness appeared a second outrage at a time when all liberty was extinguished.  Frontenac sent the audacious Abbe to explain his conduct to the council, and ordered a number of ecclesiastics to appear against him…The Abbe Fenelon acted with the greatest boldness.  He demanded the right enjoyed by ecclesiastics in France to speak seated and covered in the presence of sovereign councils; and suiting the action to the word, he advanced towards the members, and put on his cap with a haughty gesture, as if to brave the Count of Frontenac, who was then presiding.  But Frontenac told him his conduct was quite improper, and sent him into an adjacent apartment under charge of a guard, in order to give the council time to determine what was to be done.”  They unanimously decided against his pretensions; and as he persisted in refusing to recognize their jurisdiction, they committed him for contempt of court.  He was afterwards released, and suffered to return to his curacy of Montreal.

We are assured that the number of persons, especially of young men, assisted by the institution of the Sulpitians at Montreal, is altogether incredible; young lawyers who never saw a brief, and physicians who never made a professional call.

We certainly cannot accuse the Canadians of a neglect of education, if we may judge by the number of their colleges, of which, if we mistake not, there are ten in Lower Canada alone.  Ten collegiate institutions for a population scarcely numbering seven hundred thousand most undoubtedly show a general fondness for study, and an ardent desire to diffuse the advantages of education.  But are so many colleges really an advantage to a country such as Canada?  Upon this point, we must confess, we have our doubts.  It seems to us that the standard of excellence is fixed altogether too low; but how can it be otherwise when it is adapted to the capabilities of every thick-headed, overgrown farmer’s boy, instead of the really able and intelligent?  Moreover, in an agricultural country, in a comparatively poor country, all but a very few must be engaged in manual labor.  But one year or two years spent in one of these colleges, no less than a complete course of study, entirely unfits one for the station the great mass must occupy in life.  Who that can conjugate a regular Latin verb or recite the Greek alphabet will willingly condescend to toil and delve for his daily bread?  Comparatively few of the graduates in the Canadian colleges have capital enough to go into business; few speak English sufficiently well to seek employment either in this country or in England, even were they willing to quit their native land, and there are only three professions open to them at home.  The ranks of the clergy, thanks to these institutions, are kept well filled; but the country is overrun, so to speak, with lawyers and physicians.  The Canadians are an extremely healthy people, and if a little unwell are far more likely to go without their breakfast, and dinner too if necessary, than to call in a physician; and being chiefly engaged in agricultural pursuits, lawsuits and litigation do by no means abound.  Neither lawyers not physicians are therefore much in demand.  What is to be done?  A smattering of Latin and geometry, and perhaps also of psychology, is very far from sufficing to fit the young man for the rank he ought to hold in society.  No wonder that an Avenir party started up a few years since, no wonder there were complaints, dissatisfaction, and longings for a change; the wonder is that they made no change.

We make these remarks with no feelings of harshness or ill-will towards the Canadians, nor are we ignorant that our own country lies greatly exposed to a retortion of the argument; but we have written this article resolved not to make comparisons, “for comparisons,” as Dogberry says, “are odorous.” So far different are our sentiments, that we love Canada and honor the Canadians.  We often point with pride to Canada, and rejoice to tread its soil, for there we feel that we are in a Catholic country,- a country first explored by Catholics and by them reclaimed and civilized,- where our holy religion is still venerated, and still flourishes.  We love to see the cross by the way-side, and the people respecting, honoring, and keeping the faith.  It cannot be without some design of Providence that the Church has found a foothold in the North, and has stood firm and immovable upon it for more than two hundred years.  From the North, it was said of old, the conquerors come.  Thus in Asia, when the carnal Jews hardened their hearts and grew stubborn in their sins, from the North came the nations called by the Almighty to smite them, and carry them away captives; from the North again, came the hordes of barbarians who overthrew the old Roman empire, and made Europe what it has since been; and it may yet happen in America that the faith of the north shall prevail over all our hemisphere.