Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys


By Francis Parkman


1610, 1611.


Poutrincourt, we have seen, owned Port Royal in virtue of a grant from
De Monts. The ardent and adventurous baron was in evil case, involved in
litigation and low in purse; but nothing could damp his zeal. Acadia
must become a new France, and he, Poutrincourt, must be its father. He
gained from the King a confirmation of his grant, and, to supply the
lack of his own weakened resources, associated with himself one Robin, a
man of family and wealth. This did not save him from a host of delays
and vexations; and it was not until the spring of 1610 that he found
himself in a condition to embark on his new and doubtful venture.

Meanwhile an influence, of sinister omen as he thought, had begun to act
upon his schemes. The Jesuits were strong at court. One of their number,
the famous Father Coton, was confessor to Henry the Fourth, and, on
matters of this world as of the next, was ever whispering at the facile
ear of the renegade King. New France offered a fresh field of action to
the indefatigable Society of Jesus, and Coton urged upon the royal
convert, that, for the saving of souls, some of its members should be
attached to the proposed enterprise. The King, profoundly indifferent in
matters of religion, saw no evil in a proposal which at least promised
to place the Atlantic betwixt him and some of those busy friends whom at
heart he deeply mistrusted. Other influences, too, seconded the
confessor. Devout ladies of the court, and the Queen herself, supplying
the lack of virtue with an overflowing piety, burned, we are assured,
with a holy zeal for snatching the tribes of the West from the bondage
of Satan. Therefore it was insisted that the projected colony should
combine the spiritual with the temporal character,--or, in other words,
that Poutrincourt should take Jesuits with him. Pierre Biard, Professor
of Theology at Lyons, was named for the mission, and repaired in haste
to Bordeaux, the port of embarkation, where he found no vessel, and no
sign of preparation; and here, in wrath and discomfiture, he remained
for a whole year.

That Poutrincourt was a good Catholic appears from a letter to the Pope,
written for him in Latin by Lescarbot, asking a blessing on his
enterprise, and assuring his Holiness that one of his grand objects was
the saving of souls. But, like other good citizens, he belonged to the
national party in the Church, those liberal Catholics, who, side by side
with the Huguenots, had made head against the League, with its Spanish
allies, and placed Henry the Fourth upon the throne. The Jesuits, an
order Spanish in origin and policy, determined champions of ultramontane
principles, the sword and shield of the Papacy in its broadest
pretensions to spiritual and temporal sway, were to him, as to others of
his party, objects of deep dislike and distrust. He feared them in his
colony, evaded what he dared not refuse, left Biarci waiting in solitude
at Bordeax, and sought to postpone the evil day by assuring Father Coton
that, though Port Royal was at present in no state to receive the
missionaries, preparation should be made to entertain them the next year
after a befitting fashion.

Poutrincourt owned the barony of St. Just in Champagne, inherited a few
years before from his mother. Hence, early in February, 1610, he set out
in a boat loaded to the gunwales with provisions, furniture, goods, and
munitions for Port Royal, descended the rivers Aube and Seine, and
reached Dieppe safely with his charge. Here his ship was awaiting him;
and on the twenty-sixth of February he set sail, giving the slip to the
indignant Jesuit at Bordeaux.

The tedium of a long passage was unpleasantly broken by a mutiny among
the crew. It was suppressed, however, and Poutrincourt entered at length
the familiar basin of Port Royal. The buildings were still standing,
whole and sound save a partial falling in of the roofs. Even furniture
was found untouched in the deserted chambers. The centenarian Membertou
was still alive, his leathern, wrinkled visage beaming with welcome.

Pontrincourt set himself without delay to the task of Christianizing New
France, in an access of zeal which his desire of proving that Jesuit aid
was superfluous may be supposed largely to have reinforced. He had a
priest with him, one La Fleche, whom he urged to the pious work. No time
was lost. Membertou first was catechised, confessed his sins, and
renounced the Devil, whom we are told he had faithfully served during a
hundred and ten years. His squaws, his children, his grandchildren, and
his entire clan were next won over. It was in June, the day of St. John
the Baptist, when the naked proselytes. twenty-one in number, were
gathered on the shore at Port Royal. Here was the priest in the
vestments of his office; here were gentlemen in gay attire, soldiers,
laborers, lackeys, all the infant colony. The converts kneeled; the
sacred rite was finished, Te Deum was sung, and the roar of cannon
proclaimed this triumph over the powers of darkness. Membertou was named
Henri, after the King; his principal squaw, Marie, after the Queen. One
of his sons received the name of the Pope, another that of the Dauphin;
his daughter was called Marguerite, after the divorced Marguerite de
Valois, and, in like manner, the rest of the squalid company exchanged
their barbaric appellatives for the names of princes, nobles, and ladies
of rank.

The fame of this chef-d'aeuvre of Christian piety, as Lescarbot gravely
calls it, spread far and wide through the forest, whose denizens,--
partly out of a notion that the rite would bring good luck, partly to
please the French, and partly to share in the good cheer with which the
apostolic efforts of Father La Fleche had been sagaciously seconded--
came flocking to enroll themselves under the banners of the Faith. Their
zeal ran high. They would take no refusal. Membertou was for war on all
who would not turn Christian. A living skeleton was seen crawling from
hut to hut in search of the priest and his saving waters; while another
neophyte, at the point of death, asked anxiously whether, in the realms
of bliss to which he was bound, pies were to be had comparable to those
with which the French regaled him.

A formal register of baptisms was drawn up to be carried to France in
the returning ship, of which Pontrincourt's son, Biencourt, a spirited
youth of eighteen, was to take charge. He sailed in July, his father
keeping him company as far as Port la Have, whence, bidding the young
man farewell, he attempted to return in an open boat to Port Royal. A
north wind blew him out to sea; and for six days he was out of sight of
land, subsisting on rain-water wrung from the boat's sail, and on a few
wild-fowl which he had shot on an island. Five weeks passed before he
could rejoin his colonists, who, despairing of his safety, were about to
choose a new chief.

Meanwhile, young Biencourt, speeding on his way, heard dire news from a
fisherman on the Grand Bank. The knife of Ravaillac had done its work.
Henry the Fourth was dead.

There is an ancient street in Paris, where a great thoroughfare
contracts to a narrow pass, the Rue de la Ferronnerie. Tall buildings
overshadow it, packed from pavement to tiles with human life, and from
the dingy front of one of them the sculptured head of a man looks down
on the throng that ceaselessly defiles beneath. On the fourteenth of
May, 1610, a ponderous coach, studded with fleurs-de-lis and rich with
gilding, rolled along this street. In it was a small man, well advanced
in life, whose profile once seen could not be forgotten,--a hooked
nose, a protruding chin, a brow full of wrinkles, grizzled hair, a
short, grizzled beard, and stiff, gray moustaches, bristling like a
cat's. One would have thought him some whiskered satyr, grim from the
rack of tumultuous years; but his alert, upright port bespoke unshaken
vigor, and his clear eye was full of buoyant life. Following on the
footway strode a tall, strong, and somewhat corpulent man, with
sinister, deep-set eyes and a red beard, his arm and shoulder covered
with his cloak. In the throat of the thoroughfare, where the sculptured
image of Henry the Fourth still guards the spot, a collision of two
carts stopped the coach. Ravaillac quickened his pace. In an instant he
was at the door. With his cloak dropped from his shoulders, and a long
knife in his hand, he set his foot upon a guardstone, thrust his head
and shoulders into the coach, and with frantic force stabbed thrice at
the King's heart. A broken exclamation, a gasping convulsion,--and then
the grim visage drooped on the bleeding breast. Henry breathed his last,
and the hope of Europe died with him.

The omens were sinister for Old France and for New. Marie de Medicis,
"cette grosse banquiere," coarse scion of a bad stock, false wife and
faithless queen, paramour of an intriguing foreigner, tool of the
Jesuits and of Spain, was Regent in the minority of her imbecile son.
The Huguenots drooped, the national party collapsed, the vigorous hand
of Sully was felt no more, and the treasure gathered for a vast and
beneficent enterprise became the instrument of despotism and the prey of
corruption. Under such dark auspices, young Biencourt entered the
thronged chambers of the Louvre.

He gained audience of the Queen, and displayed his list of baptisms;
while the ever present Jesuits failed not to seize him by the button,
assuring him, not only that the late King had deeply at heart the
establishment of their Society in Acadia, but that to this end he had
made them a grant of two thousand livres a year. The Jesuits had found
an ally and the intended mission a friend at court, whose story and
whose character are too striking to pass unnoticed.

This was a lady of honor to the Queen, Antoinette de Pons, Marquise de
Guercheville, once renowned for grace and beauty, and not less
conspicuous for qualities rare in the unbridled court of Henry's
predecessor, where her youth had been passed. When the civil war was at
its height, the royal heart, leaping with insatiable restlessness from
battle to battle, from mistress to mistress, had found a brief repose in
the affections of his Corisande, famed in tradition and romance; but
Corisande was suddenly abandoned, and the young widow, Madame de
Guercheville, became the load-star of his erratic fancy. It was an evil
hour for the Bearnais. Henry sheathed in rusty steel, battling for his
crown and his life, and Henry robed in royalty and throned triumphant in
the Louvre, alike urged their suit in vain. Unused to defeat, the King's
passion rose higher for the obstacle that barred it. On one occasion he
was met with an answer not unworthy of record:--

"Sire, my rank, perhaps, is not high enough to permit me to be your
wife, but my heart is too high to permit me to be your mistress."

She left the court and retired to her chateau of La Roche-Guyon, on the
Seine, ten leagues below Paris, where, fond of magnificence, she is said
to have lived in much expense and splendor. The indefatigable King,
haunted by her memory, made a hunting-party in the neighboring forests;
and, as evening drew near, separating himself from his courtiers, he
sent a gentleman of his train to ask of Madame de Guercheville the
shelter of her roof. The reply conveyed a dutiful acknowledgment of the
honor, and an offer of the best entertainment within her power. It was
night when Henry with his little band of horsemen, approached the
chateau, where lights were burning in every window, after a fashion of
the day on occasions of welcome to an honored guest. Pages stood in the
gateway, each with a blazing torch; and here, too, were gentlemen of the
neighborhood, gathered to greet their sovereign. Madame de Guercheville
came forth, followed by the women of her household; and when the King,
unprepared for so benign a welcome, giddy with love and hope, saw her
radiant in pearls and more radiant yet in a beauty enhanced by the wavy
torchlight and the surrounding shadows, he scarcely dared trust his

"Que vois-je, madame; est-ce bien vous, et suis-je ce roi meprise?"

He gave her his hand, and she led him within the chateau, where, at the
door of the apartment destined for him, she left him, with a graceful
reverence. The King, nowise disconcerted, did not doubt that she had
gone to give orders for his entertainment, when an attendant came to
tell him that she had descended to the courtyard and called for her
coach. Thither he hastened in alarm:

"What! am I driving you from your house?"

"Sire," replied Madame de Guercheville, "where a king is, he should be
the sole master; but, for my part, I like to preserve some little
authority wherever I may be."

With another deep reverence, she entered her coach and disappeared,
seeking shelter under the roof of a friend, some two leagues off, and
leaving the baffled King to such consolation as he might find in a
magnificent repast, bereft of the presence of the hostess.

Henry could admire the virtue which he could not vanquish; and, long
after, on his marriage, he acknowledged his sense of her worth by
begging her to accept an honorable post near the person of the Queen.

"Madame," he said, presenting her to Marie de Medicis, "I give you a
lady of honor who is a lady of honor indeed."

Some twenty years had passed since the adventure of La Roche-Guyon.
Madame de Guercheville had outlived the charms which had attracted her
royal suitor, but the virtue which repelled him was reinforced by a
devotion no less uncompromising. A rosary in her hand and a Jesuit at
her side, she realized the utmost wishes of the subtle fathers who had
moulded and who guided her. She readily took fire when they told her of
the benighted souls of New France, and the wrongs of Father Biard
kindled her utmost indignation. She declared herself the protectress of
the American missions; and the only difficulty, as a Jesuit writer tells
us, was to restrain her zeal within reasonable bounds.

She had two illustrious coadjutors. The first was the jealous Queen,
whose unbridled rage and vulgar clamor had made the Louvre a hell. The
second was Henriette d'Entragues, Marquise de Vernenil, the crafty and
capricious siren who had awakened these conjugal tempests. To this
singular coalition were joined many other ladies of the court; for the
pious flame, fanned by the Jesuits, spread through hall and boudoir, and
fair votaries of the Loves and Graces found it a more grateful task to
win heaven for the heathen than to merit it for themselves.

Young Biencourt saw it vain to resist. Biard must go with him in the
returning ship, and also another Jesuit, Enemond Masse. The two fathers
repaired to Dieppe, wafted on the wind of court favor, which they never
doubted would bear them to their journey s end. Not so, however.
Poutrincourt and his associates, in the dearth of their own resources,
had bargained with two Huguenot merchants of Dieppe, Du Jardin and Du
Quesne, to equip and load the vessel, in consideration of their becoming
partners in the expected profits. Their indignation was extreme when
they saw the intended passengers. They declared that they would not aid
in building up a colony for the profit of the King of Spain, nor risk
their money in a venture where Jesuits were allowed to intermeddle; and
they closed with a fiat refusal to receive them on board, unless, they
added with patriotic sarcasm, the Queen would direct them to transport
the whole order beyond sea. Biard and Masse insisted, on which the
merchants demanded reimbursement for their outlay, as they would have no
further concern in the business.

Biard communicated with Father Coton, Father Coton with Madame de
Guercheville. No more was needed. The zealous lady of honor,
"indignant," says Biard, "to see the efforts of hell prevail," and
resolved "that Satan should not remain master of the field," set on foot
a subscription, and raised an ample fund within the precincts of the
court. Biard, in the name of the "Province of France of the Order of
Jesus," bought out the interest of the two merchants for thirty-eight
hundred livres, thus constituting the Jesuits equal partners in business
with their enemies. Nor was this all; for, out of the ample proceeds of
the subscription, he lent to the needy associates a further sum of seven
hundred and thirty-seven livres, and advanced twelve hundred and
twenty-five more to complete the outfit of the ship. Well pleased, the
triumphant priests now embarked, and friend and foe set sail together on
the twenty-sixth of January, 1611.


1611, 1612.


The voyage was one of inordinate length,--beset, too, with icebergs,
larger and taller, according to the Jesuit voyagers, than the Church of
Notre Dame; but on the day of Pentecost their ship, "The Grace of God,"
anchored before Port Royal. Then first were seen in the wilderness of
New France the close black cap, the close black robe, of the Jesuit
father, and the features seamed with study and thought and discipline.
Then first did this mighty Proteus, this many-colored Society of Jesus,
enter upon that rude field of toil and woe, where, in after years, the
devoted zeal of its apostles was to lend dignity to their order and do
honor to humanity.

Few were the regions of the known world to which the potent brotherhood
had not stretched the vast network of its influence. Jesuits had
disputed in theology with the bonzes of Japan, and taught astronomy to
the mandarins of China; had wrought prodigies of sudden conversion among
the followers of Bralinra, preached the papal supremacy to Abyssinian
schismatics, carried the cross among the savages of Caffraria, wrought
reputed miracles in Brazil, and gathered the tribes of Paraguay beneath
their paternal sway. And now, with the aid of the Virgin and her votary
at court, they would build another empire among the tribes of New
France. The omens were sinister and the outset was unpropitious. The
Society was destined to reap few laurels from the brief apostleship of
Biard and Masse.

When the voyagers landed, they found at Port Royal a band of
half-famished men, eagerly expecting their succor. The voyage of four
months had, however, nearly exhausted their own very moderate stock of
provisions, and the mutual congratulations of the old colonists and the
new were damped by a vision of starvation. A friction, too, speedily
declared itself between the spiritual and the temporal powers.
Pontgrave's son, then trading on the coast, had exasperated the Indians
by an outrage on one of their women, and, dreading the wrath of
Poutrincourt, had fled to the woods. Biard saw fit to take his part,
remonstrated for him with vehemence, gained his pardon, received his
confession, and absolved him. The Jesuit says that he was treated with
great consideration by Poutrincourt, and that he should be forever
beholden to him. The latter, however, chafed at Biard's interference.

"Father," he said, "I know my duty, and I beg you will leave me to do
it. I, with my sword, have hopes of paradise, as well as you with your
breviary. Show me my path to heaven. I will show you yours on earth."

He soon set sail for France, leaving his son Biencourt in charge. This
hardy young sailor, of ability and character beyond his years, had, on
his visit to court, received the post of Vice-Admiral in the seas of New
France, and in this capacity had a certain authority over the
trading-vessels of St. Malo and Rochelle, several of which were upon the
coast. To compel the recognition of this authority, and also to purchase
provisions, he set out along with Biard in a boat filled with armed
followers. His first collision was with young Pontgrave, who with a few
men had built a trading-hut on the St. John, where he proposed to
winter. Meeting with resistance, Biencourt took the whole party
prisoners, in spite of the remonstrances of Biard. Next, proceeding
along the coast, he levied tribute on four or five traders wintering at
St. Croix, and, continuing his course to the Kennebec, found the Indians
of that region greatly enraged at the conduct of certain English
adventurers, who three or four years before had, as they said, set dogs
upon them and otherwise maltreated them. These were the colonists under
Popham and Gilbert, who in 1607 and 1608 made an abortive attempt to
settle near the mouth of the river. Nothing now was left of them but
their deserted fort. The neighboring Indians were Abenakis, one of the
tribes included by the French under the general name of Armouchiquois.
Their disposition was doubtful, and it needed all the coolness of young
Biencourt to avoid a fatal collision. On one occasion a curious incident
took place. The French met six canoes full of warriors descending the
Kennebec, and, as neither party trusted the other, the two encamped on
opposite banks of the river. In the evening the Indians began to sing
and dance. Biard suspected these proceedings to be an invocation of the
Devil, and "in order," he says, "to thwart this accursed tyrant, I made
our people sing a few church hymns, such as the Salve, the Ave Mans
Stella, and others. But being once in train, and getting to the end of
their spiritual songs, they fell to singing such others as they knew,
and when these gave out they took to mimicking the dancing and singing
of the Armouchiquois on the other side of the water; and as Frenchmen
are naturally good mimics, they did it so well that the Armouchiquols
stopped to listen; at which our people stopped too; and then the Indians
began again. You would have laughed to hear them, for they were like two
choirs answering each other in concert, and you would hardly have known
the real Armouchiquois from the sham ones."

Before the capture of young Pontgrave, Biard made him a visit at his
camp, six leagues up the St. John. Pontgrave's men were sailors from St.
Malo, between whom and the other Frenchmen there was much ill blood,
Biard had hardly entered the river when he saw the evening sky crimsoned
with the dancing fires of a superb aurora borealis, and he and his
attendants marvelled what evil thing the prodigy might portend. Their
Indian companions said that it was a sign of war. In fact, the night
after they had joined Pontgrave a furious quarrel broke out in the camp,
with abundant shouting, gesticulating and swearing; and, says the
father, "I do not doubt that an accursed band of furious and sanguinary
spirits were hovering about us all night, expecting every moment to see
a horrible massacre of the few Christians in those parts; but the
goodness of God bridled their malice. No blood was shed, and on the next
day the squall ended in a fine calm."

He did not like the Indians, whom he describes as "lazy, gluttonous,
irreligious, treacherous, cruel, and licentious." He makes an exception
in favor of Memberton, whom he calls "the greatest, most renowned, and
most redoubted savage that ever lived in the memory of man," and
especially commends him for contenting himself with but one wife, hardly
a superlative merit in a centenarian. Biard taught him to say the Lord's
Prayer, though at the petition, "Give us this clay our daily bread," the
chief remonstrated, saying, "If I ask for nothing but bread, I shall get
no fish or moose meat." His protracted career was now drawing to a
close, and, being brought to the settlement in a dying state, he was
placed in Biard's bed and attended by the two Jesuits. He was as
remarkable in person as in character, for he was bearded like a
Frenchman. Though, alone among La Fleche's converts, the Faith seemed to
have left some impression upon him, he insisted on being buried with his
heathen forefathers, but was persuaded to forego a wish fatal to his
salvation, and slept at last in consecrated ground.

Another of the scanty fruits of the mission was a little girl on the
point of death, whom Biard had asked her parents to give him for
baptism. "Take her and keep her, if you like," was the reply, "for she
is no better than a dead dog." "We accepted the offer," says Biard, "in
order to show them the difference between Christianity and their
impiety; and after giving her what care we could, together with some
instruction, we baptized her. We named her after Madame the Marquise de
Guercheville, in gratitude for the benefits we have received from that
lady, who can now rejoice that her name is already in heaven; for, a few
days after baptism, the chosen soul flew to that place of glory."

Biard's greatest difficulty was with the Micmac language. Young
Biencourt was his best interpreter, and on common occasions served him
well; but the moment that religion was in question he was, as it were,
stricken dumb,--the reason being that the language was totally without
abstract terms. Biard resolutely set himself to the study of it,--a
hard and thorny path, on which he made small progress, and often went
astray. Seated, pencil in hand, before some Indian squatting on the
floor, whom with the bribe of a mouldy biscuit he had lured into the
hut, he plied him with questions which he often neither would nor could
answer. What was the Indian word for Faith, Hope, Charity, Sacrament,
Baptism, Eucharist, Trinity, Incarnation? The perplexed savage, willing
to amuse himself, and impelled, as Biard thinks, by the Devil, gave him
scurrilous and unseemly phrases as the equivalent of things holy, which,
studiously incorporated into the father's Indian catechism, produced on
his pupils an effect the reverse of that intended. Biard's colleague,
Masse, was equally zealous, and still less fortunate. He tried a forest
life among the Indians 'with signal ill success. Hard fare, smoke,
filth, the scolding of squaws, and the cries of children reduced him to
a forlorn condition of body and mind, wore him to a skeleton, and sent
him back to Port Royal without a single convert.

The dark months wore slowly on. A band of half-famished men gathered
about the huge fires of their barn-like hall, moody, sullen, and
quarrelsome. Discord was here in the black robe of the Jesuit and the
brown capote of the rival trader. The position of the wretched little
colony may well provoke reflection. Here lay the shaggy continent, from
Florida to the Pole, outstretched in savage slumber along the sea, the
stern domain of Nature,--or, to adopt the ready solution of the
Jesuits, a realm of the powers of night, blasted beneath the sceptre of
hell. On the banks of James River was a nest of woe-begone Englishmen, a
handful of Dutch fur-traders at the mouth of the Hudson, and a few
shivering Frenchmen among the snow-drifts of Acadia; while deep within
the wild monotony of desolation, on the icy verge of the great northern
river, the hand of Champlain upheld the fleur-de-lis on the rock of
Quebec. These were the advance guard, the forlorn hope of civilization,
messengers of promise to a desert continent. Yet, unconscious of their
high function, not content with inevitable woes, they were rent by petty
jealousies and miserable feuds; while each of these detached fragments
of rival nationalities, scarcely able to maintain its own wretched
existence on a few square miles, begrudged to the others the smallest
share in a domain which all the nations of Europe could hardly have
sufficed to fill.

One evening, as the forlorn tenants of Port Royal sat together
disconsolate, Biard was seized with a spirit of prophecy. He called upon
Biencourt to serve out the little of wine that remained,--a proposal
which met with high favor from the company present, though apparently
with none from the youthful Vice-Admiral. The wine was ordered, however,
and, as an unwonted cheer ran round the circle, the Jesuit announced
that an inward voice told him how, within a month, they should see a
ship from France. In truth, they saw one within a week. On the
twentythird of January, 1612, arrived a small vessel laden with a
moderate store of provisions and abundant seeds of future strife.

This was the expected succor sent by Poutrincourt. A series of ruinous
voyages had exhausted his resources but he had staked all on the success
of the colony, had even brought his family to Acadia, and he would not
leave them and his companions to perish. His credit was gone; his hopes
were dashed; yet assistance was proffered, and, in his extremity, he was
forced to accept it. It came from Madame de Guercheville and her Jesuit
advisers. She offered to buy the interest of a thousand crowns in the
enterprise. The ill-omened succor could not be refused; but this was not
all. The zealous protectress of the missions obtained from De Monts,
whose fortunes, like those of Poutrincouirt, had ebbed low, a transfer
of all his claims to the lands of Acadia; while the young King, Louis
the Thirteenth, was persuaded to give her, in addition, a new grant of
all the territory of North America, from the St. Lawrence to Florida.
Thus did Madame de Guercheville, or in other words, the Jesuits who used
her name as a cover, become proprietors of the greater part of the
future United States and British Provinces. The English colony of
Virginia and the Dutch trading-houses of New York were included within
the limits of this destined Northern Paraguay; while Port Royal, the
seigniory of the unfortunate Poutrincourt, was encompassed, like a petty
island, by the vast domain of the Society of Jesus. They could not
deprive him of it, since his title had been confirmed by the late King,
but they flattered themselves, to borrow their own language, that he
would be "confined as in a prison." His grant, however, had been vaguely
worded, and, while they held him restricted to an insignificant patch of
ground, he claimed lordship over a wide and indefinite territory. Here
was argument for endless strife. Other interests, too, were adverse.
Poutrincourt, in his discouragement, had abandoned his plan of liberal
colonization, and now thought of nothing but beaver-skins. He wished to
make a trading-post; the Jesuits wished to make a mission.

When the vessel anchored before Port Royal, Biencourt, with disgust and
anger, saw another Jesuit landed at the pier. This was Gilbert du Thet,
a lay brother, versed in affairs of this world, who had come out as
representative and administrator of Madame de Guercheville.
Poutrincourt, also, had his agent on board; and, without the loss of a
day, the two began to quarrel. A truce ensued; then a smothered feud,
pervading the whole colony, and ending in a notable explosion. The
Jesuits, chafing under the sway of Biencourt, had withdrawn without
ceremony, and betaken themselves to the vessel, intending to sail for
France. Biencourt, exasperated at such a breach of discipline, and
fearing their representations at court, ordered them to return, adding
that, since the Queen had commended them to his especial care, he could
not, in conscience, lose sight of them. The indignant fathers
excommunicated him. On this, the sagamore Louis, son of the grisly
convert Membertou, begged leave to kill them; but Biencourt would not
countenance this summary mode of relieving his embarrassment. He again,
in the King's name, ordered the clerical mutineers to return to the
fort. Biard declared that he would not, threatened to excommunicate any
who should lay hand on him, and called the Vice-Admiral a robber. His
wrath, however, soon cooled; he yielded to necessity, and came quietly
ashore, where, for the next three months, neither he nor his colleagues
would say mass, or perform any office of religion. At length a change
came over him; he made advances of peace, prayed that the past might be
forgotten, said mass again, and closed with a petition that Brother du
Thet might be allowed to go to France in a trading vessel then on the
coast. His petition being granted, he wrote to Poutrincourt a letter
overflowing with praises of his son; and, charged with this missive, Du
Thet set sail.




Pending these squabbles, the Jesuits at home were far from idle. Bent on
ridding themselves of Poutrincourt, they seized, in satisfaction of
debts due them, all the cargo of his returning vessel, and involved him
in a network of litigation. If we accept his own statements in a letter
to his friend Lescarbot, he was outrageously misused, and indeed
defrauded, by his clerical copartners, who at length had him thrown into
prison. Here, exasperated, weary, sick of Acadia, and anxious for the
wretched exiles who looked to him for succor, the unfortunate man fell
ill. Regaining his liberty, he again addressed himself with what
strength remained to the forlorn task of sending relief to his son and
his comrades.

Scarcely had Brother Gilbert du Thet arrived in France, when Madame de
Guercheville and her Jesuits, strong in court favor and in the charity
of wealthy penitents, prepared to take possession of their empire beyond
sea. Contributions were asked, and not in vain; for the sagacious
fathers, mindful of every spring of influence, had deeply studied the
mazes of feminine psychology, and then, as now, were favorite confessors
of the fair. It was on the twelfth of March, 1613, that the "Mayflower"
of the Jesuits sailed from Honfleur for the shores of New England. She
was the "Jonas," formerly in the service of De Monts, a small craft
bearing forty-eight sailors and colonists, including two Jesuits, Father
Quentin and Brother Du Thet. She carried horses, too, and goats, and was
abundantly stored with all things needful by the pious munificence of
her patrons. A courtier named La Saussaye was chief of the colony,
Captain Charles Fleury commanded. the ship, and, as she winged her way
across the Atlantic, benedictions hovered over her from lordly halls and
perfumed chambers.

On the sixteenth of May, La Saussaye touched at La Heve, where he heard
mass, planted a cross, and displayed the scutcheon of Madame de
Guercheville. Thence, passing on to Port Royal, he found Biard, Masse,
their servant-boy, an apothecary, and one man beside. Biencourt and his
followers were scattered about the woods and shores, digging the
tuberous roots called ground-nuts, catching alewives in the brooks, and
by similar expedients sustaining their miserable existence. Taking the
two Jesuits on board, the voyagers steered for the Penobscot. A fog rose
upon the sea. They sailed to and fro, groping their way in blindness,
straining their eyes through the mist, and trembling each instant lest
they should descry the black outline of some deadly reef and the ghostly
death-dance of the breakers, But Heaven heard their prayers. At night
they could see the stars. The sun rose resplendent on a laughing sea,
and his morning beams streamed fair and full on the wild heights of the
island of Mount Desert. They entered a bay that stretched inland between
iron-bound shores, and gave it the name of St. Sauveur. It is now called
Frenchman's Bay. They saw a coast-line of weather-beaten crags set thick
with spruce and fir, the surf-washed cliffs of Great Head and Schooner
Head, the rocky front of Newport Mountain, patched with ragged woods,
the arid domes of Dry Mountain and Green Mountain, the round bristly
backs of the Porcupine Islands, and the waving outline of the
Gouldsborough Hills.

La Saussaye cast anchor not far from Schooner Head, and here he lay till
evening. The jet-black shade betwixt crags and sea, the pines along the
cliff, pencilled against the fiery sunset, the dreamy slumber of distant
mountains bathed in shadowy purples--such is the scene that in this our
day greets the wandering artist, the roving collegian bivouacked on the
shore, or the pilgrim from stifled cities renewing his laded strength in
the mighty life of Nature. Perhaps they then greeted the adventurous
Frenchmen. There was peace on the wilderness and peace on the sea; but
none in this missionary bark, pioneer of Christianity and civilization.
A rabble of angry sailors clamored on her deck, ready to mutiny over the
terms of their engagement. Should the time of their stay be reckoned
from their landing at La Heve, or from their anchoring at Mount Desert?
Fleury, the naval commander, took their part. Sailor, courtier, and
priest gave tongue together in vociferous debate. Poutrincourt was far
away, a ruined man, and the intractable Vice-Admiral had ceased from
troubling; yet not the less were the omens of the pious enterprise
sinister and dark. The company, however, went ashore, raised a cross,
and heard mass.

At a distance in the woods they saw the signal smoke of Indians, whom
Biard lost no time in visiting. Some of them were from a village on the
shore, three leagues westward. They urged the French to go with them to
their wigwams. The astute savages had learned already how to deal with a

"Our great chief, Asticou, is there. He wishes for baptism. He is very
sick. He will die unbaptized. He will burn in hell, and it will be all
your fault."

This was enough. Biard embarked in a canoe, and they paddied him to the
spot, where he found the great chief, Asticou, in his wigwam, with a
heavy cold in the head. Disappointed of his charitable purpose, the
priest consoled himself with observing the beauties of the neighboring
shore, which seemed to him better fitted than St. Sauveur for the
intended settlement. It was a gentle slope, descending to the water,
covered with tall grass, and backed by rocky hills. It looked southeast
upon a harbor where a fleet might ride at anchor, sheltered from the
gales by a cluster of islands.

The ship was brought to the spot, and the colonists disembarked. First
they planted a cross; then they began their labors, and with their
labors their quarrels. La Saussaye, zealous for agriculture, wished to
break ground and raise crops immediately; the rest opposed him, wishing
first to be housed and fortified. Fleury demanded that the ship should
be unladen, and La Saussaye would not consent. Debate ran high, when
suddenly all was harmony, and the disputants were friends once more in
the pacification of a common danger.

Far out at sea, beyond the islands that sheltered their harbor, they saw
an approaching sail; and as she drew near, straining their anxious eyes,
they could descry the red flags that streamed from her masthead and her
stern; then the black muzzles of her cannon,--they counted seven on a
side; then the throng of men upon her decks. The wind was brisk and
fair; all her sails were set; she came on, writes a spectator, more
swiftly than an arrow.

Six years before, in 1607, the ships of Captain Newport had conveyed to
the banks of James River the first vital germ of English colonization on
the continent. Noble and wealthy speculators with Hispaniola, Mexico,
and Peru for their inspiration, had combined to gather the fancied
golden harvest of Virginia, received a charter from the Crown, and taken
possession of their El Dorado. From tavern, gaming-house, and brothel
was drawn the staple the colony,--ruined gentlemen, prodigal sons,
disreputable retainers, debauched tradesmen. Yet it would be foul
slander to affirm that the founders of Virginia were all of this stamp;
for among the riotous crew were men of worth, and, above them all, a
hero disguised by the homeliest of names. Again and again, in direst woe
and jeopardy, the infant settlement owed its life to the heart and hand
of John Smith.

Several years had elapsed since Newport's voyage; and the colony,
depleted by famine, disease, and an Indian war, had been recruited by
fresh emigration, when one Samuel Argall arrived at Jamestown, captain
of an illicit trading-vessel. He was a man of ability and force,--one
of those compounds of craft and daring in which the age was fruitful;
for the rest, unscrupulous and grasping. In the spring of 1613 he
achieved a characteristic exploit,--the abduction of Pocahontas, that
most interesting of young squaws, or, to borrow the style of the day, of
Indian princesses. Sailing up the Potomac he lured her on board his
ship, and then carried off the benefactress of the colony a prisoner to
Jamestown. Here a young man of family, Rolfe, became enamoured of her,
married her with more than ordinary ceremony, and thus secured a firm
alliance between her tribesmen and the English.

Meanwhile Argall had set forth on another enterprise. With a ship of one
hundred and thirty tons, carrying fourteen guns and sixty men, he sailed
in May for islands off the coast of Maine to fish, as he says for cod.
He had a more important errand; for Sir Thomas Dale, Governor of
Virginia, had commissioned him to expel the French from any settlement
they might have made within the limits of King James's patents. Thick
fogs involved him; and when the weather cleared he found himself not far
from the Bay of Penobscot. Canoes came out from shore; the Indians
climbed the ship's side, and, as they gained the deck, greeted the
astonished English with an odd pantomime of bows and flourishes, which,
in the belief of the latter, could have been learned from none but
Frenchmen. By signs, too, and by often repeating the word Norman,--by
which they always designated the French,--they betrayed the presence of
the latter. Argall questioned them as well as his total ignorance of
their language would permit, and learned, by signs, the position and
numbers of the colonists. Clearly they were no match for him. Assuring
the Indians that the Normans were his friends, and that he longed to see
them, he retained one of the visitors as a guide, dismissed the rest
with presents, and shaped his course for Mount Desert.

Now the wild heights rose in view; now the English could see the masts
of a small ship anchored in the sound; and now, as they rounded the
islands, four white tents were visible on the grassy slope between the
water and the woods. They were a gift from the Queen to Madame de
Guercheville and her missionaries. Argall's men prepared for fight,
while their Indian guide, amazed, broke into a howl of lamentation.

On shore all was confusion. Bailleul, the pilot, went to reconnoitre,
and ended by hiding among the islands. La Saussaye lost presence of
mind, and did nothing for defence. La Motte, his lieutenant, with
Captain Fleury, an ensign, a sergeant, the Jesuit Du Thet, and a few of
the bravest men, hastened on board the vessel, but had no time to cast
loose her cables. Argall bore down on them, with a furious din of drums
and trumpets, showed his broadside, and replied to their hail with a
volley of cannon and musket shot. "Fire! Fire!" screamed Fleury. But
there was no gunner to obey, till Du Thet seized and applied the match.
"The cannon made as much noise as the enemy's," writes Biard; but, as
the inexperienced artillerist forgot to aim the piece, no other result
ensued. Another storm of musketry, and Brother Gilbert du Thet rolled
helpless on the deck.

The French ship was mute. The English plied her for a time with shot,
then lowered a boat and boarded. Under the awnings which covered her,
dead and wounded men lay strewn about her deck, and among them the brave
lay brother, smothering in his blood. He had his wish; for, on leaving
France, he had prayed with uplifted hands that he might not return, but
perish in that holy enterprise. Like the Order of which he was a humble
member, he was a compound of qualities in appearance contradictory. La
Motte, sword in hand, showed fight to the last, and won the esteem of
his captors.

The English landed without meeting any show of resistance, and ranged at
will among the tents, the piles of baggage and stores, and the buildings
and defences newly begun. Argall asked for the commander, but La
Saussaye had fled to the woods. The crafty Englishman seized his chests,
caused the locks to be picked, searched till he found the royal letters
and commissions, withdrew them, replaced everything else as he had found
it, and again closed the lids. In the morning, La Saussaye, between the
English and starvation, preferred the former, and issued from his hiding
place. Argall received him with studious courtesy. That country, he
said, belonged to his master, King James. Doubtless they had authority
from their own sovereign for thus encroaching upon it; and, for his
part, he was prepared to yield all respect to the commissions of the
King of France, that the peace between the two nations might not be
disturbed. Therefore he prayed that the commissions might be shown to
him. La Saussaye opened his chests. The royal signature was nowhere to
be found. At this, Argall's courtesy was changed to wrath. He denounced
the Frenchmen as robbers and pirates who deserved the gallows, removed
their property on board his ship, and spent the afternoon in dividing it
among his followers, The disconsolate French remained on the scene of
their woes, where the greedy sailors as they came ashore would snatch
from them, now a cloak, now a hat, and now a doublet, till the
unfortunate colonists were left half naked. In other respects the
English treated their captives well,--except two of them, whom they
flogged; and Argall, whom Biard, after recounting his knavery, calls "a
gentleman of noble courage," having gained his point, returned to his
former courtesy.

But how to dispose of the prisoners? Fifteen of them, including La
Saussaye and the Jesuit Masse, were turned adrift in an open boat, at
the mercy of the wilderness and the sea. Nearly all were lands-men; but
while their unpractised hands were struggling with the oars, they were
joined among the islands by the fugitive pilot and his boat's crew. Worn
and half starved, the united bands made their perilous way eastward,
stopping from time to time to hear mass, make a procession, or catch
codfish. Thus sustained in the spirit and in the flesh, cheered too by
the Indians, who proved fast friends in need, they crossed the Bay of
Fundy, doubled Cape Sable, and followed the southern coast of Nova
Scotia, till they happily fell in with two French trading-vessels, which
bore them in safety to St. Malo.




"Praised be God, behold two thirds of our company safe in France,
telling their strange adventures to their relatives and friends. And now
you will wish to know what befell the rest of us." Thus writes Father
Biard, who with his companions in misfortune, fourteen in all, prisoners
on board Argall's ship and the prize, were borne captive to Virginia.
Old Point Comfort was reached at length, the site of Fortress Monroe;
Hampton Roads, renowned in our day for the sea-fight of the Titans;
Sewell's Point; the Rip Raps; Newport News,--all household words in the
ears of this generation. Now, far on their right, buried in the damp
shade of immemorial verdure, lay, untrodden and voiceless, the fields
where stretched the leaguering lines of Washington where the lilies of
France floated beside the banners of the new-born republic, and where in
later years embattled treason confronted the manhood of an outraged
nation. And now before them they could descry the mast of small craft at
anchor, a cluster of rude dwellings fresh from the axe, scattered
tenements, and fields green with tobacco.

Throughout the voyage the prisoners had been soothed with flattering
tales of the benignity of the Governor of Virginia, Sir Thomas Dale; of
his love of the French, and his respect for the memory of Henry the
Fourth, to whom, they were told, he was much beholden for countenance
and favor. On their landing at Jamestown, this consoling picture was
reversed. The Governor fumed and blustered, talked of halter and
gallows, and declared that he would hang them all. In vain Argall
remonstrated, urging that he had pledged his word for their lives. Dale,
outraged by their invasion of British territory, was deaf to all
appeals; till Argall, driven to extremity, displayed the stolen
commissions, and proclaimed his stratagem, of which the French
themselves had to that moment been ignorant. As they were accredited by
their government, their lives at least were safe. Yet the wrath of Sir
Thomas Dale still burned high. He summoned his council, and they
resolved promptly to wipe off all stain of French intrusion from shores
which King James claimed as his own.

Their action was utterly unauthorized. The two kingdoms were at peace.
James the First, by the patents of 1606, had granted all North America,
from the thirty-fourth to the forty-fifth degree of latitude, to the two
companies of London and Plymouth,--Virginia being assigned to the
former, while to the latter were given Maine and Acadia, with adjacent
regions. Over these, though as yet the claimants had not taken
possession of them, the authorities of Virginia had no color of
jurisdiction. England claimed all North America, in virtue of the
discovery of Cabot; and Sir Thomas Dale became the self-constituted
champion of British rights, not the less zealous that his championship
promised a harvest of booty.

Argall's ship, the captured ship of La Saussaye, and another smaller
vessel, were at once equipped and despatched on their errand of havoc.
Argall commanded; and Biard, with Quentin and several others of the
prisoners, were embarked with him. They shaped their course first for
Mount Desert. Here they landed, levelled La Saussaye's unfinished
defences, cut down the French cross, and planted one of their own in its
place. Next they sought out the island of St. Croix, seized a quantity
of salt, and razed to the ground all that remained of the dilapidated
buildings of De Monts. They crossed the Bay of Fundy to Port Royal,
guided, says Biard, by an Indian chief,--an improbable assertion, since
the natives of these coasts hated the English as much as they loved the
French, and now well knew the designs of the former. The unfortunate
settlement was tenantless. Biencourt, with some of his men, was on a
visit to neighboring bands of Indians, while the rest were reaping in
the fields on the river, two leagues above the fort. Succor from
Poutrincourt had arrived during the summer. The magazines were by no
means empty, and there were cattle, horses, and hogs in adjacent fields
and enclosures. Exulting at their good fortune, Argall's men butchered
or carried off the animals, ransacked the buildings, plundered them even
to the locks and bolts of the doors, and then laid the whole in ashes;
"and may it please the Lord," adds the pious Biard, "that the sins
therein committed may likewise have been consumed in that burning."

Having demolished Port Royal, the marauders went in boats up the river
to the fields where the reapers were at work. These fled, and took
refuge behind the ridge of a hill, whence they gazed helplessly on the
destruction of their harvest. Biard approached them, and, according to
the declaration of Poutrincourt made and attested before the Admiralty
of Guienne, tried to persuade them to desert his son, Biencourt, and
take service with Argall. The reply of one of the men gave little
encouragement for further parley:--

"Begone, or I will split your head with this hatchet."

There is flat contradiction here between the narrative of the Jesuit and
the accounts of Poutrincourt and contemporary English writers, who agree
in affirming that Biard, "out of indigestible malice that he had
conceived against Biencourt," encouraged the attack on the settlements
of St. Croix and Port Royal, and guided the English thither. The priest
himself admits that both French and English regarded him as a traitor,
and that his life was in danger. While Argall's ship was at anchor, a
Frenchman shouted to the English from a distance that they would do well
to kill him. The master of the ship, a Puritan, in his abomination of
priests, and above all of Jesuits, was at the same time urging his
commander to set Biard ashore and leave him to the mercy of his
countrymen. In this pass he was saved, to adopt his own account, by what
he calls his simplicity; for he tells us, that, while--instigated, like
the rest of his enemies, by the Devil--the robber and the robbed were
joining hands to ruin him, he was on his knees before Argall, begging
him to take pity on the French, and leave them a boat, together with
provisions to sustain their miserable lives through the winter. This
spectacle of charity, he further says, so moved the noble heart of the
commander, that he closed his ears to all the promptings of foreign and
domestic malice.

The English had scarcely re-embarked, when Biencourt arrived with his
followers, and beheld the scene of destruction. Hopelessly outnumbered,
he tried to lure Argall and some of his officers into an ambuscade, but
they would not be entrapped. Biencourt now asked for an interview. The
word of honor was mutually given, and the two chiefs met in a meadow not
far from the demolished dwellings. An anonymous English writer says that
Biencourt offered to transfer his allegiance to King James, on condition
of being permitted to remain at Port Royal and carry on the fur-trade
under a guaranty of English protection, but that Argall would not listen
to his overtures. The interview proved a stormy one. Biard says that the
Frenchmen vomited against him every species of malignant abuse. "In the
mean time," he adds, "you will considerately observe to what madness the
evil spirit exciteth those who sell themselves to him."

According to Pontrincourt, Argall admitted that the priest had urged him
to attack Port Royal. Certain it is that Biencourt demanded his
surrender, frankly declaring that he meant to hang him. "Whilest they
were discoursing together," says the old English writer above mentioned,
"one of the savages, rushing suddenly forth from the Woods, and
licentiated to come neere, did after his manner, with such broken French
as he had, earnestly mediate a peace, wondring why they that seemed to
be of one Country should vse others with such hostilitie, and that with
such a forme of habit and gesture as made them both to laugh."

His work done, and, as he thought, the French settlements of Acadia
effectually blotted out, Argall set sail for Virginia on the thirteenth
of November. Scarcely was he at sea when a storm scattered the vessels.
Of the smallest of the three nothing was ever heard. Argall, severely
buffeted, reached his port in safety, having first, it is said,
compelled the Dutch at Manhattan to acknowledge for a time the
sovereignty of King James. The captured ship of La Saussaye, with Biard
and his colleague Quentin on board, was forced to yield to the fury of
the western gales and bear away for the Azores. To Biard the change of
destination was not unwelcome. He stood in fear of the truculent
Governor of Virginia, and his tempest-rocked slumbers were haunted with
unpleasant visions of a rope's end. It seems that some of the French at
Port Royal, disappointed in their hope of hanging him, had commended him
to Sir Thomas Dale as a proper subject for the gallows drawing up a
paper, signed by six of them, and containing allegations of a nature
well fitted to kindle the wrath of that vehement official. The vessel
was commanded by Turnel, Argall's lieutenant, apparently an officer of
merit, a scholar and linguist. He had treated his prisoner with great
kindness, because, says the latter, "he esteemed and loved him for his
naive simplicity and ingenuous candor." But of late, thinking his
kindness misplaced, he had changed it for an extreme coldness,
preferring, in the words of Biard himself, "to think that the Jesuit had
lied, rather than so many who accused him."

Water ran low, provisions began to fail, and they eked out their meagre
supply by butchering the horses taken at Port Royal. At length they came
within sight of Fayal, when a new terror seized the minds of the two
Jesuits. Might not the Englishmen fear that their prisoners would
denounce them to the fervent Catholics of that island as pirates and
sacrilegious kidnappers of priests? From such hazard the escape was
obvious. What more simple than to drop the priests into the sea? In
truth, the English had no little dread of the results of conference
between the Jesuits and the Portuguese authorities of Fayal; but the
conscience or humanity of Turnel revolted at the expedient which
awakened such apprehension in the troubled mind of Biard. He contented
himself with requiring that the two priests should remain hidden while
the ship lay off the port: Biard does not say that he enforced the
demand either by threats or by the imposition of oaths. He and his
companion, however, rigidiy complied with it, lying close in the hold or
under the boats, while suspicious officials searched the ship, a proof,
he triumphantly declares, of the audacious malice which has asserted it
as a tenet of Rome that no faith need be kept with heretics.

Once more at sea, Turnel shaped his course for home, having, with some
difficulty, gained a supply of water and provisions at Fayal. All was
now harmony between him and his prisoners. When he reached Pembroke, in
Wales, the appearance of the vessel--a French craft in English hands--
again drew upon him the suspicion of piracy. The Jesuits, dangerous
witnesses among the Catholics of Fayal, could at the worst do little
harm with the Vice-Admiral at Pembroke. To him, therefore, he led the
prisoners, in the sable garb of their order, now much the worse for
wear, and commended them as persons without reproach, "wherein," adds
the modest father, "he spoke the truth." The result of their evidence
was, we are told, that Turnel was henceforth treated, not as a pirate,
but, according to his deserts, as an honorable gentleman. This interview
led to a meeting with certain dignitaries of the Anglican Church, who,
much interested in an encounter with Jesuits in their robes, were
filled, says Biard, with wonder and admiration at what they were told of
their conduct. He explains that these churchmen differ widely in form
and doctrine from the English Calvinists, who, he says, are called
Puritans; and he adds that they are superior in every respect to these,
whom they detest as an execrable pest.

Biard was sent to Dover and thence to Calais, returning, perhaps, to the
tranquil honors of his chair of theology at Lyons. La Saussaye, La
Motte, Fleury, and other prisoners were at various times sent from
Virginia to England, and ultimately to France. Madame de Guercheville,
her pious designs crushed in the bud, seems to have gained no further
satisfaction than the restoration of the vessel. The French ambassador
complained of the outrage, but answer was postponed; and, in the
troubled state of France, the matter appears to have been dropped.

Argall, whose violent and crafty character was offset by a gallant
bearing and various traits of martial virtue, became Deputy-Governor of
Virginia, and, under a military code, ruled the colony with a rod of
iron. He enforced the observance of Sunday with an edifying rigor. Those
who absented themselves from church were, for the first offence,
imprisoned for the night, and reduced to slavery for a week; for the
second offence, enslaved a month and for the third, a year. Nor was he
less strenuous in his devotion to mammon. He enriched himself by
extortion and wholesale peculation; and his audacious dexterity, aided
by the countenance of the Earl of Warwick, who is said to have had a
trading connection with him, thwarted all the efforts of the company to
bring him to account. In 1623, he was knighted by the hand of King

Early in the spring following the English attack, Pontrincourt came to
Port Royal. He found the place in ashes, and his unfortunate son, with
the men under his command, wandering houseless in the forests. They had
passed a winter of extreme misery, sustaining their wretched existence
with roots, the buds of trees, and lichens peeled from the rocks.

Despairing of his enterprise, Poutrincourt returned to France. In the
next year, 1615, during the civil disturbances which followed the
marriage of the King, command was given him of the royal forces destined
for the attack on Mery; and here, happier in his death than in his life,
he fell, sword in hand.

In spite of their reverses, the French kept hold on Acadia. Biencourt,
partially at least, rebuilt Port Royal; while winter after winter the
smoke of fur traders' huts curled into the still, sharp air of these
frosty wilds, till at length, with happier auspices, plans of settlement
were resumed.

Rude hands strangled the "Northern Paraguay" in its birth. Its
beginnings had been feeble, but behind were the forces of a mighty
organization, at once devoted and ambitious, enthusiastic and
calculating. Seven years later the "Mayflower" landed her emigrants at
Plymouth. What would have been the issues had the zeal of the pious lady
of honor preoccupied New England with a Jesuit colony?

In an obscure stroke of lawless violence began the strife of France and
England, Protestantism and Rome, which for a century and a half shook
the struggling communities of North America, and closed at last in the
memorable triumph on the Plains of Abraham.


1608, 1609.


A LONELY ship sailed up the St. Lawrence. The white whales floundering
in the Bay of Tadoussac, and the wild duck diving as the foaming prow
drew near,--there was no life but these in all that watery solitude,
twenty miles from shore to shore. The ship was from Honfleur, and was
commanded by Samuel de Champlain. He was the AEneas of a destined
people, and in her womb lay the embryo life of Canada.

De Monts, after his exclusive privilege of trade was revoked and his
Acadian enterprise ruined, had, as we have seen, abandoned it to
Poutrincourt. Perhaps would it have been well for him had he abandoned
with it all Transatlantic enterprises; but the passion for discovery and
the noble ambition of founding colonies had taken possession of his
mind. These, rather than a mere hope of gain, seem to have been his
controlling motives; yet the profits of the fur-trade were vital to the
new designs he was meditating, to meet the heavy outlay they demanded,
and he solicited and obtained a fresh monopoly of the traffic for one

Champlain was, at the time, in Paris; but his unquiet thoughts turned
westward. He was enamoured of the New World, whose rugged charms had
seized his fancy and his heart; and as explorers of Arctic seas have
pined in their repose for polar ice and snow, so did his restless
thoughts revert to the fog-wrapped coasts, the piny odors of forests,
the noise of waters, the sharp and piercing sunlight, so dear to his
remembrance. He longed to unveil the mystery of that boundless
wilderness, and plant the Catholic faith and the power of France amid
its ancient barbarism.

Five years before, he had explored the St. Lawrence as far as the rapids
above Montreal. On its banks, as he thought, was the true site for a
settlement,--a fortified post, whence, as from a secure basis, the
waters of the vast interior might be traced back towards their sources,
and a western route discovered to China and Japan. For the fur-trade,
too, the innumerable streams that descended to the great river might all
be closed against foreign intrusion by a single fort at some commanding
point, and made tributary to a rich and permanent commerce; while--and
this was nearer to his heart, for he had often been heard to say that
the saving of a soul was worth more than the conquest of an empire--
countless savage tribes, in the bondage of Satan, might by the same
avenues be reached and redeemed.

De Monts embraced his views; and, fitting out two ships, gave command of
one to the elder Pontgrave, of the other to Champlain. The former was to
trade with the Indians and bring back the cargo of furs which, it was
hoped, would meet the expense of the voyage. To Champlain fell the
harder task of settlement and exploration.

Pontgrave, laden with goods for the Indian trade of Tadoussac sailed
from Honfleur on the fifth of April, 1608. Champlain, with men, arms,
and stores for the colony, followed, eight days later. On the fifteenth
of May he was on the Grand Bank; on the thirtieth he passed Gaspe, and
on the third of June neared Tadoussac. No living thing was to be seen.
He anchored, lowered a boat, and rowed into the port, round the rocky
point at the southeast, then, from the fury of its winds and currents,
called La Pointe de Tous les Diables. There was life enough within, and
more than he cared to find. In the still anchorage under the cliffs lay
Pontgrave's vessel, and at her side another ship, which proved to be a
Basque furtrader.

Poutgrave, arriving a few days before, had found himself anticipated by
the Basques, who were busied in a brisk trade with bands of Indians
cabined along the borders of the cove. He displayed the royal letters,
and commanded a cessation of the prohibited traffic; but the Basques
proved refractory, declared that they would trade in spite of the King,
fired on Pontgrave with cannon and musketry, wounded him and two of his
men, and killed a third. They then boarded his vessel, and carried away
all his cannon, small arms, and ammunition, saying that they would
restore them when they had finished their trade and were ready to return

Champlain found his comrade on shore, in a disabled condition. The
Basques, though still strong enough to make fight, were alarmed for the
consequences of their conduct, and anxious to come to terms. A peace,
therefore, was signed on board their vessel; all differences were
referred to the judgment of the French courts, harmony was restored, and
the choleric strangers betook themselves to catching whales.

This port of Tadoussac was long the centre of the Canadian fur-trade. A
desolation of barren mountains closes round it, betwixt whose ribs of
rugged granite, bristling with savins, birches, and firs, the Saguenay
rolls its gloomy waters from the northern wilderness. Centuries of
civilization have not tamed the wildness of the place; and still, in
grim repose, the mountains hold their guard around the waveless lake
that glistens in their shadow, and doubles, in its sullen mirror, crag,
precipice, and forest.

Near the brink of the cove or harbor where the vessels lay, and a little
below the mouth of a brook which formed one of the outlets of this small
lake, stood the remains of the wooden barrack built by Chauvin eight
years before. Above the brook were the lodges of an Indian camp,--
stacks of poles covered with birch-bark. They belonged to an Algonquin
horde, called Montagnais, denizens of surrounding wilds, and gatherers
of their only harvest,--skins of the moose, caribou, and bear; fur of
the beaver, marten, otter, fox, wild-cat, and lynx. Nor was this all,
for there were intermediate traders betwixt the French and the shivering
bands who roamed the weary stretch of stunted forest between the
head-waters of the Saguenay and Hudson's Bay. Indefatigable canoe-men,
in their birchen vessels, light as eggshells, they threaded the devious
tracks of countless rippling streams, shady by-ways of the forest, where
the wild duck scarcely finds depth to swim; then descended to their mart
along those scenes of picturesque yet dreary grandeur which steam has
made familiar to modern tourists. With slowly moving paddles they glided
beneath the cliff whose shaggy brows frown across the zenith, and whose
base the deep waves wash with a hoarse and hollow cadence; and they
passed the sepulchral Bay of the Trinity, dark as the tide of Acheron,--
a sanctuary of solitude and silence: depths which, as the fable runs, no
sounding line can fathom, and heights at whose dizzy verge the wheeling
eagle seems a speck.

Peace being established with the Basques, and the wounded Pontgrave
busied, as far as might be, in transferring to the hold of his ship the
rich lading of the Indian canoes, Champlain spread his sails, and again
held his course up the St. Lawrence. Far to the south, in sun and
shadow, slumbered the woody mountains whence fell the countless springs
of the St. John, behind tenantless shores, now white with glimmering
villages,--La Chenaic, Granville, Kamouraska, St. Roche, St. Jean,
Vincelot, Berthier. But on the north the jealous wilderness still
asserts its sway, crowding to the river's verge its walls, domes, and
towers of granite; and, to this hour, its solitude is scarcely broken.

Above the point of the Island of Orleans, a constriction of the vast
channel narrows it to less than a mile, with the green heights of Point
Levi on one side, and on the other the cliffs of Quebec. Here, a small
stream, the St. Charles, enters the St. Lawrence, and in the angle
betwixt them rises the promontory on two sides a natural fortress.
Between the cliffs and the river lay a strand covered with walnuts and
other trees. From this strand, by a rough passage gullied downward from
the place where Prescott Gate now guards the way, one might climb the
height to the broken plateau above, now burdened with its ponderous load
of churches, convents, dwellings, ramparts, and batteries. Thence, by a
gradual ascent, the rock sloped upward to its highest summit, Cape
Diamond, looking down on the St. Lawrence from a height of three hundred
and fifty feet. Here the citadel now stands; then the fierce sun fell on
the bald, baking rock, with its crisped mosses and parched lichens. Two
centuries and a half have quickened the solitude with swarming life,
covered the deep bosom of the river with barge and steamer and gliding
sail, and reared cities and villages on the site of forests; but nothing
can destroy the surpassing grandeur of the scene.

On the strand between the water and the cliffs Champlain's axemen fell
to their work. They were pioneers of an advancing host,--advancing, it
is true, with feeble and uncertain progress,--priests, soldiers,
peasants, feudal scutcheons, royal insignia: not the Middle Age, but
engendered of it by the stronger life of modern centralization, sharply
stamped with a parental likeness, heir to parental weakness and parental

In a few weeks a pile of wooden buildings rose on the brink of the St.
Lawrence, on or near the site of the marketplace of the Lower Town of
Quebec. The pencil of Champlain, always regardless of proportion and
perspective, has preserved its likeness. A strong wooden wall,
surmounted by a gallery loop-holed for musketry, enclosed three
buildings, containing quarters for himself and his men, together with a
courtyard, from one side of which rose a tall dove-cot, like a belfry. A
moat surrounded the whole, and two or three small cannon were planted on
salient platforms towards the river. There was a large storehouse near
at hand, and a part of the adjacent ground was laid out as a garden.

In this garden Champlain was one morning directing his laborers, when
Tetu, his pilot, approached him with an anxious countenance, and
muttered a request to speak with him in private. Champlain assenting,
they withdrew to the neighboring woods, when the pilot disburdened
himself of his secret. One Antoine Natel, a locksmith, smitten by
conscience or fear, had revealed to him a conspiracy to murder his
commander and deliver Quebec into the hands of the Basques and Spaniards
then at Tadoussac. Another locksmith, named Duval, was author of the
plot, and, with the aid of three accomplices, had befooled or frightened
nearly all the company into taking part in it. Each was assured that he
should make his fortune, and all were mutually pledged to poniard the
first betrayer of the secret. The critical point of their enterprise was
the killing of Champlain. Some were for strangling him, some for raising
a false alarm in the night and shooting him as he came out from his

Having heard the pilot's story, Champlain, remaining in the woods,
desired his informant to find Antoine Natel, and bring him to the spot.
Natel soon appeared, trembling with excitement and fear, and a close
examination left no doubt of the truth of his statement. A small vessel,
built by Pontgrave at Tadoussac, had lately arrived, and orders were now
given that it should anchor close at hand. On board was a young man in
whom confidence could be placed. Champlain sent him two bottles of wine,
with a direction to tell the four ringleaders that they had been given
him by his Basque friends at Tadoussac, and to invite them to share the
good cheer. They came aboard in the evening, and were seized and
secured. "Voyla done mes galants bien estonnez," writes Champlain.

It was ten o'clock, and most of the men on shore were asleep. They were
wakened suddenly, and told of the discovery of the plot and the arrest
of the ringleaders. Pardon was then promised them, and they were
dismissed again to their beds, greatly relieved; for they had lived in
trepidation, each fearing the other. Duval's body, swinging from a
gibbet, gave wholesome warning to those he had seduced; and his head was
displayed on a pike, from the highest roof of the buildings, food for
birds and a lesson to sedition. His three accomplices were carried by
Pontgrave to France, where they made their atonement in the galleys.

It was on the eighteenth of September that Pontgrave set sail, leaving
Champlain with twenty-eight men to hold Quebec through the winter. Three
weeks later, and shores and hills glowed with gay prognostics of
approaching desolation,--the yellow and scarlet of the maples, the deep
purple of the ash, the garnet hue of young oaks, the crimson of the
tupelo at the water's edge, and the golden plumage of birch saplings in
the fissures of the cliff. It was a short-lived beauty. The forest
dropped its festal robes. Shrivelled and faded, they rustled to the
earth. The crystal air and laughing sun of October passed away, and
November sank upon the shivering waste, chill and sombre as the tomb.

A roving band of Montagnais had built their huts near the buildings, and
were busying themselves with their autumn eel-fishery, on which they
greatly relied to sustain their miserable lives through the winter.
Their slimy harvest being gathered, and duly smoked and dried, they gave
it for safe-keeping to Champlain, and set out to hunt beavers. It was
deep in the winter before they came back, reclaimed their eels, built
their birch cabins again, and disposed themselves for a life of ease,
until famine or their enemies should put an end to their enjoyments.
These were by no means without alloy. While, gorged with food, they lay
dozing on piles of branches in their smoky huts, where, through the
crevices of the thin birch bark, streamed in a cold capable at times of
congealing mercury, their slumbers were beset with nightmare visions of
Iroquois forays, scalpings, butcherings, and burnings. As dreams were
their oracles, the camp was wild with fright. They sent out no scouts
and placed no guard; but, with each repetition of these nocturnal
terrors, they came flocking in a body to beg admission within the fort.
The women and children were allowed to enter the yard and remain during
the night, while anxious fathers and jealous husbands shivered in the
darkness without.

On one occasion, a group of wretched beings was seen on the farther bank
of the St. Lawrence, like wild animals driven by famine to the borders
of the settler's clearing. The river was full of drifting ice, and there
was no crossing without risk of life. The Indians, in their desperation,
made the attempt; and midway their canoes were ground to atoms among the
tossing masses. Agile as wild-cats, they all leaped upon a huge raft of
ice, the squaws carrying their children on their shoulders, a feat at
which Champlain marveled when he saw their starved and emaciated
condition. Here they began a wail of despair; when happily the pressure
of other masses thrust the sheet of ice against the northern shore. They
landed and soon made their appearance at the fort, worn to skeletons and
horrible to look upon. The French gave them food, which they devoured
with a frenzied avidity, and, unappeased, fell upon a dead dog left on
the snow by Champlain for two months past as a bait for foxes. They
broke this carrion into fragments, and thawed and devoured it, to the
disgust of the spectators, who tried vainly to prevent them.

This was but a severe access of the periodical famine which, during
winter, was a normal condition of the Algonquin tribes of Acadia and the
Lower St. Lawrence, who, unlike the cognate tribes of New England, never
tilled the soil, or made any reasonable provision against the time of

One would gladly know how the founders of Quebec spent the long hours of
their first winter; but on this point the only man among them, perhaps,
who could write, has not thought it necessary to enlarge. He himself
beguiled his leisure with trapping foxes, or hanging a dead dog from a
tree and watching the hungry martens in their efforts to reach it.
Towards the close of winter, all found abundant employment in nursing
themselves or their neighbors, for the inevitable scurvy broke out with
virulence. At the middle of May, only eight men of the twenty-eight were
alive, and of these half were suffering from disease.

This wintry purgatory wore away; the icy stalactites that hung from the
cliffs fell crashing to the earth; the clamor of the wild geese was
heard; the bluebirds appeared in the naked woods; the water-willows were
covered with their soft caterpillar-like blossoms; the twigs of the
swamp maple were flushed with ruddy bloom; the ash hung out its black
tufts; the shad-bush seemed a wreath of snow; the white stars of the
bloodroot gleamed among dank, fallen leaves; and in the young grass of
the wet meadows the marsh-marigolds shone like spots of gold.

Great was the joy of Champlain when, on the fifth of June, he saw a
sailboat rounding the Point of Orleans, betokening that the spring had
brought with it the longed for succors. A son-in-law of Pontgrave, named
Marais, was on board, and he reported that Pontgrave was then at
Tadoussac, where he had lately arrived. Thither Champlain hastened, to
take counsel with his comrade. His constitution or his courage had
defied the scurvy. They met, and it was determined betwixt them, that,
while Pontgrave remained in charge of Quebec, Champlain should enter at
once on his long meditated explorations, by which, like La Salle seventy
years later, he had good hope of finding a way to China.

But there was a lion in the path. The Indian tribes, to whom peace was
unknown, infested with their scalping parties the streams and pathways
of the forest, and increased tenfold its inseparable risks. The after
career of Champlain gives abundant proof that he was more than
indifferent to all such chances; yet now an expedient for evading them
offered itself, so consonant with his instincts that he was glad to
accept it.

During the last autumn, a young chief from the banks of the then unknown
Ottawa had been at Quebec; and, amazed at what he saw, he had begged
Champlain to join him in the spring against his enemies. These enemies
were a formidable race of savages,--the Iroquois, or Five Confederate
Nations, who dwelt in fortified villages within limits now embraced by
the State of New York, and who were a terror to all the surrounding
forests. They were deadly foes of their kindred the Hurons, who dwelt on
the lake which bears their name, and were allies of Algonquin bands on
the Ottawa. All alike were tillers of the soil, living at ease when
compared with the famished Algonquins of the Lower St. Lawrence.

By joining these Hurons and Algonquins against their Iroquois enemies,
Champlain might make himself the indispensable ally and leader of the
tribes of Canada, and at the same time fight his way to discovery in
regions which otherwise were barred against him. From first to last it
was the policy of France in America to mingle in Indian politics, hold
the balance of power between adverse tribes, and envelop in the network
of her power and diplomacy the remotest hordes of the wilderness. Of
this policy the Father of New France may perhaps be held to have set a
rash and premature example. Yet while he was apparently following the
dictates of his own adventurous spirit, it became evident, a few years
later, that under his thirst for discovery and spirit of knight-errantry
lay a consistent and deliberate purpose. That it had already assumed a
definite shape is not likely; but his after course makes it plain that,
in embroiling himself and his colony with the most formidable savages on
the continent, he was by no means acting so recklessly as at first sight
would appear.


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