« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Infancy Of Montreal. — The Flood. — Vow Of Maisonneuve. — Pilgrimage. — D'ailleboust. — The H6tel-dieu. — Piety. — Propagandise!.— War. — Hlrons And Iroquois. — Dogs.— Sally Of The French. — Battle. — Exploit Of Maisonneuve.
Let us now ascend to the island of Montreal. Here, as we have seen, an association of devout and zealous persons had essayed to found a mission-colony under the protection of the Holy Virgin; and we left the adventurers, after their landing, bivouacked on the shore, on an evening in May. There was an altar in the open air, decorated with a taste that betokened no less of good nurture than of piety; and around it clustered the tents that sheltered the commandant, Maisonneuve, the two ladies, Madame de la Peltrie and Mademoiselle Mance, and the soldiers and laborers of the expedition. In the morning they all fell to their work, — Maisonneuve hewing down the first tree, — and labored with such good-will that their tents were soon enclosed with a strong palisade, and their altar covered by a provisional chapel, built, in the Huron mode, of bark. Soon afterward, their canvas habitations were supplanted by solid structures of wood, and the feeble germ of a future city began to take root. The Iroquois had not yet found them out; nor did they discover them till they had had ample time to fortify themselves. Meanwhile, on a Sunday, they would stroll at their leisure over the adjacent meadow and in the shade of the bordering forest, where, as the old chronicler tells us, the grass was gay with wild-flowers and the branches with the flutter and song of many strange birds.1 The day of the Assumption of the Virgin was celebrated with befitting solemnity. There was mass in their bark chapel; then a Te Deum; then public instruction of certain Indians who chanced to be at Montreal; then a procession of all the colonists after vespers, to the admiration of the red-skinned beholders. Cannon, too, were fired, in honor of their celestial patroness. "Their thunder made all the island echo," writes Father Vimont; "and the demons, though used to thunderbolts, were scared at a noise which told them of the love we bear our great Mistress; and I have scarcely any doubt that the tutelary angels of the savages of New France have marked this day in the calendar of Paradise."2
The summer passed prosperously, but with the winter their faith was put to a rude test. In Decem
i Dollier de Casson, MS.
3 Vimont, Relation, 1642, 38. Compare Le Clerc, Premier Elablissement de la Foy, ii. 51.
1613.J PILGRIMAGE. 359
ber there was a rise of the St. Lawrence, threatening to sweep away in a night the results of all their labor. They fell to their prayers; and Maisonneuve planted a wooden cross in face of the advancing deluge, first making a vow that, should the peril be averted, he, Maisonneuve, would bear another cross on his shoulders up the neighboring mountain and place it on the summit. The vow seemed in vain. The flood still rose, filled the fort ditch, swept the foot of the palisade, and threatened to sap the magazine; but here it stopped, and presently began to recede, till at length it had withdrawn within its lawful channel, and Villemarie was safe.1 Now it remained to fulfil the promise from which such happy results had proceeded. Maisonneuve set his men at work to clear a path through the forest to the top of the mountain. A large cross was made, and solemnly blessed by the priest; then, on the sixth of January, the Jesuit Du Peron led the way, followed in procession by Madame de la Peltrie, the artisans, and soldiers, to the destined spot. The commandant, who with all the ceremonies of the Church had been declared First Soldier of the Cross, walked behind the rest, bearing on his shoulder a cross so heavy that it needed his utmost strength to climb the steep and rugged path. They planted it 1 A little MS. map in M. Jacques Viger's copy of Le Petit Rer/istre de la Cure de Montreal lays down the position and shape of the fort at this time, and shows the spot where Maisonneuve planted the cross.
on the highest crest, and all knelt in adoration before it. Du Peron said mass; and Madame de la Peltrie, always romantic and always devout, received the sacrament on the mountain-top, a spectacle to the virgin world outstretched below. Sundry relics of saints had been set in the wood of the cross, which remained an object of pilgrimage to the pious colonists of Villemarie.1 Peace and harmony reigned within the little fort; and so edifying was the demeanor of the colonists, so faithful were they to the confessional, and so constant at mass, that a chronicler of the day exclaims, in a burst of enthusiasm, that the deserts lately a resort of demons were now the abode of angels.2 The two Jesuits who for the time were their pastors had them well in hand. They dwelt under the same roof with most of their flock, who lived in community, in one large house, and vied with each other in zeal for the honor of the Virgin and the conversion of the Indians. At the end of August, 1643, a vessel arrived at Villemarie with a reinforcement commanded by Louis d'Ailleboust de Coulonges, a pious gentleman of Champagne, and one of the Associates of Montreal.3 Some years before, he had asked in wedlock the hand of Barbe de Boulogne; but the young lady had, when a child, in the ardor of her piety, taken a vow of perpetual chastity. By the advice of her Jesuit confes
1 Vimont, Relation, 1643, 52, 53.
2 Veritables Motifs, cited by Faillon, i. 453,454.
sor, she accepted his suit, on condition that she should preserve, to the hour of her death, the state to which Holy Church has always ascribed a peculiar merit.1 D'Ailleboust married her; and when, soon after, he conceived the purpose of devoting his life to the work of the Faith in Canada, he invited his maiden spouse to go with him. She refused, and forbade him to mention the subject again. Her health was indifferent, and about this time she fell ill. As a last resort, she made a promise to God that if He would restore her, she would go to Canada with her husband; and forthwith her maladies ceased. Still her reluctance continued; she hesitated, and then refused again, when an inward light revealed to her that it was her duty to cast her lot in the wilderness. She accordingly embarked with D'Ailleboust, accompanied by her sister, Mademoiselle Philippine de Boulogne, who had caught the contagion of her zeal. The presence of these damsels would, to all appearance, be rather a burden than a profit to the colonists, beset as they then were by Indians, and often in peril of starvation; but the spectacle of their ardor, as disinterested as it was extravagant, would serve to exalt the religious enthusiasm in which alone was the life of Villemarie. Their vessel passed in safety the Iroquois who watched the St. Lawrence, and its arrival filled the 1 Juchereau, Histoire de l'H6tel-Dieu cle Quebec, 276. The confessor told D'Ailleboust that if he persuaded his wife to break her Tow of continence, "God would chastise him terribly." The nun historian adds that, undeterred by the menace, he tried and failed