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that they should assume to direct his affairs. “1 have not come here,” he said, “to deliberate, but to act. It is my duty and my honor to found a colony at Montreal; and I would go, if every tree were an Iroquois !”1
At Quebec there was little ability and no inclination to shelter the new colonists for the winter; and they would have fared ill, but for the generosity of M. Puiseaux, who lived not far distant, at a place called St. Michel. This devout and most hospitable person made room for them all in his rough but capacious dwelling. Their neighbors were the hospital nuns, then living at the mission of Sillery, in a substantial but comfortless house of stone; where, amidst destitution, sickness, and irrepressible disgust at the filth of the savages whom they had in charge, they were laboring day and night with devoted assiduity. Among the minor ills which beset them were the eccentricities of one of their lay sisters, crazed with religious enthusiasm, who had the care of their poultry and domestic animals, of which she was accustomed to inquire, one by one, if they loved God; when, not receiving an immediate answer in the affirmative, she would instantly put them to death, telling them that their impiety deserved no better fate.2
1 La Tour, Mémoire de Laval, liv. viii; Belmont, Histoire du Canada, 3.
2 Juchereau, 45. A great mortification to these excellent nuns was the impossibility of keeping their white dresses clean among their Indian patients, so that they were forced to dye them with
At St. Michel, Maisonneuve employed his men in building boats to ascend to Montreal, and in various other labors for the behoof of the future colony. Thus the winter wore away; but, as celestial minds are not exempt from ire, Montmagny and Maisonneuve fell into a quarrel. The twenty-fifth of January was Maisonneuve's féte day; and, as he was greatly beloved by his followers, they resolved to celebrate the occasion. Accordingly, an hour and a half before daylight, they made a general discharge of their muskets and cannon. The sound reached Quebec, two or three miles distant, startling the Governor from his morning slumbers; and his indignation was redoubled when he heard it again at night, — for Maisonneuve, pleased at the attachment of his men, had feasted them and warmed their hearts with a distribution of wine. Montmagny, jealous of his authority, resented these demonstrations as an infraction of it, affirming that they had no right to fire their pieces without his consent; and, arresting the principal offender, one Jean Gory, he put him in irons. On being released, a few days after, his companions welcomed him with great rejoicing, and Maisonneuve gave them all a feast. He himself came in during the festivity, drank the health of the company, shook hands with the late prisoner, placed him at the head of the table, and addressed him as follows:
butternut juice. They were the Hospitalières who had come over in 1639.
i642.] MAISONNEUVE AND HIS MEN. 299.
“Jean Gory, you have been put in irons for me: you had the pain, and I the affront. For that, I add ten crowns to your wages.” Then, turning to the others: “My boys,” he said, “though Jean Gory has been misused, you must not lose heart for that, but drink, all of you, to the health of the man in irons. When we are once at Montreal, we shall be our own masters, and can fire our cannon when we please."1
Montmagny was wroth when this was reported to him; and, on the ground that what had passed was “contrary to the service of the King and the authority of the Governor,” he summoned Gory and six others before him, and put them separately under oath. Their evidence failed to establish a case against their commander; but thenceforth there was great coldness between the powers of Quebec and Montreal.
Early in May, Maisonneuve and his followers embarked. They had gained an unexpected recruit during the winter, in the person of Madame de la Peltrie. The piety, the novelty, and the romance of their enterprise, all had their charms for the fair enthusiast; and an irresistible impulse — imputed by a slandering historian to the levity of her sex 2 — urged her to share their fortunes. Her zeal was more admired by the Montrealists whom she joined
1 Documents Divers, MSS., now or lately in possession of G. B. Faribault, Esq.; Ferland, Notes sur les Registres de N. D. de Québeca 25; Faillon, La Colonie Française, i. 433.
2 La Tour, Mémoire de Laval, liv. viii.
than by the Ursulines whom she abandoned. She carried off all the furniture she had lent them, and left them in the utmost destitution. Nor did she remain quiet after reaching Montreal, but was presently seized with a longing to visit the Hurons, and preach the Faith in person to those benighted heathen. It needed all the eloquence of a Jesuit, lately returned from that most arduous mission, to convince her that the attempt would be as useless as rash.?
It was the eighth of May when Maisonneuve and his followers embarked at St. Michel; and as the boats, deep-laden with men, arms, and stores, moved slowly on their way, the forest, with leaves just opening in the warmth of spring, lay on their right hand and on their left, in a flattering semblance of tranquillity and peace. But behind woody islets, in tangled thickets and damp ravines, and in the shade and stillness of the columned woods, lurked everywhere a danger and a terror.
What shall we say of these adventurers of Montreal, — of these who bestowed their wealth, and, far more, of these who sacrificed their peace and risked their lives, on an enterprise at once so romantic and so devout? Surrounded as they were with illusions, false lights, and false shadows; breathing an atmosphere of miracle; compassed about with angels and
1 Charlevoix, Vie de Marie de l’Incarnation, 279; Casgrain, Vie de Marie de l'Incarnation, 333.
2 St. Thomas, Life of Madame de la Peltrie, 98
ARRIVAL OF THE COLONISTS.
devils; urged with stimulants most powerful, though unreal; their minds drugged, as it were, to preternatural excitement, — it is very difficult to judge of them. High merit, without doubt, there was in some of their number; but one may beg to be spared the attempt to measure or define it. To estimate a virtue involved in conditions so anomalous demands, perhaps, a judgment more than human.
The Roman Church, sunk in disease and corruption when the Reformation began, was roused by that fierce trumpet-blast to purge and brace herself anew. Unable to advance, she drew back to the fresher and comparatively purer life of the past; and the fervors of mediæval Christianity were renewed in the sixteenth century. In many of its aspects, this enterprise of Montreal belonged to the time of the first Crusades. The spirit of Godfrey de Bouillon lived again in Chomedey de Maisonneuve; and in Marguerite Bourgeoys was realized that fair ideal of Christian womanhood, a flower of Earth expanding in the rays of Heaven, which soothed with gentle influence the wildness of a barbarous age.
On the seventeenth of May, 1642, Maisonneuve's little flotilla — a pinnace, a flat-bottomed craft moved by sails, and two row-boats 1 — approached Montreal; and all on board raised in unison a hymn of praise. Montmagny was with them, to deliver the island, in behalf of the Company of the Hundred Associates, to Maisonneuve, representative of the Associates of
1 Dollier de Casson, A.D. 1641-42, MS.