Henry Cabot Lodge.

The Best of the World's Classics, Restricted to Prose, Vol. X (of X) - America - II, Index online

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did so, and, advancing before his red companions in arms, stood
revealed to the gaze of the Iroquois, who, beholding the warlike
apparition in their path, stared in mute amazement. "I looked at
them," says Champlain, "and they looked at me. When I saw them getting
ready to shoot their arrows at us, I leveled my arquebus, which I had
loaded with four balls, and aimed straight at one of the three chiefs.
The shot brought down two, and wounded another. On this, our Indians
set up such a yelling that one could not have heard a thunder-clap,
and all the while the arrows flew thick on both sides. The Iroquois
were greatly astonished and frightened to see two of their men killed
so quickly, in spite of their arrow-proof armor. As I was reloading,
one of my companions fired a shot from the woods, which so increased
their astonishment that, seeing their chiefs dead, they abandoned the
field and fled into the depth of the forest." The allies dashed after
them. Some of the Iroquois were killed, and more were taken. Camp,
canoes, provisions, all were abandoned, and many weapons flung down in
the panic flight. The victory was complete.

At night the victors led out one of the prisoners, told him that he
was to die by fire, and ordered him to sing his death-song, if he
dared. Then they began the torture, and presently scalped their victim
alive, when Champlain, sickening at the sight, begged leave to shoot
him. They refused, and he turned away in anger and disgust; on which
they called him back and told him to do as he pleased. He turned again
and a shot from his arquebus put the wretch out of misery.

The scene filled him with horror; but, a few months later, on the
Place de la Grève at Paris, he might have witnessed tortures equally
revolting and equally vindictive, inflicted on the regicide
Ravaillac[48] by the sentence of grave and learned judges.

[Footnote 48: Ravaillac, a religious fanatic, was the assassin of
Henry IV of France. After climbing on to the rear of the King's
carriage in one of the streets of Paris, he stabbed the King twice,
the second wound proving fatal. Ravaillac met his death by being torn
asunder by horses.]




II

THE DEATH OF LA SALLE[49]

(1687)


Night came; the woods grew dark; the evening meal was finished, and
the evening pipes were smoked. The order of the guard was arranged;
and, doubtless by design, the first hour of the night was assigned to
Moranget, the second to Saget, and the third to Nika. Gun in hand,
each stood watch in turn over the silent but not sleeping forms around
him, till, his time expiring, he called the man who was to relieve
him, wrapt himself in his blanket, and was soon buried in a slumber
that was to be his last. Now the assassins rose. Duhaut and Hiens
stood with their guns cocked, ready to shoot down any one of the
destined victims who should resist or fly. The surgeon, with an ax,
stole toward the three sleepers, and struck a rapid blow at each in
turn. Saget and Nika died with little movement; but Moranget started
spasmodically into a sitting posture, gasping and unable to speak; and
the murderers compelled De Marle, who was not in their plot, to
compromise himself by dispatching him.

[Footnote 49: From Chapter XXVII of "La Salle and the Discovery of the
Great West." La Salle was assassinated by some of his own men, near a
branch of the Trinity river in Texas. He had sailed from France in
1684 for the purpose of founding a colony at the mouth of the
Mississippi, and had landed at Matagorda Bay, mistaking it for an
outlet of the Mississippi. He was about to sail for Canada in order to
get supplies for his colony, when he met the fate here described.
Copyright, 1860, 1879, 1897, by Francis Parkman, published by Little,
Brown & Company.]

The floodgates of murder were open, and the torrent must have its way.
Vengeance and safety alike demanded the death of La Salle. Hiens, or
"English Jem," alone seems to have hesitated; for he was one of those
to whom that stern commander had always been partial. Meanwhile, the
intended victim was still at his camp, about six miles distant. It is
easy to picture, with sufficient accuracy, the features of the
scene - the sheds of bark and branches, beneath which, among blankets
and buffalo-robes, camp utensils, pack-saddles, rude harness, guns,
powder-horns, and bullet-pouches, the men lounged away the hour,
sleeping or smoking, or talking among themselves; the blackened
kettles that hung from tripods of poles over the fires; the Indians
strolling about the place or lying, like dogs in the sun, with eyes
half-shut, yet all observant; and, in the neighboring meadow, the
horses grazing under the eye of a watchman.

It was the eighteenth of March. Moranget and his companions had been
expected to return the night before; but the whole day passed, and
they did not appear. La Salle became very anxious. He resolved to go
and look for them; but, not well knowing the way, he told the Indians
who were about the camp that he would give them a hatchet if they
would guide him. One of them accepted the offer; and La Salle prepared
to set out in the morning, at the same time directing Joutel to be
ready to go with him. Joutel says: "That evening, while we were
talking about what could have happened to the absent men, he seemed
to have a presentiment of what was to take place. He asked me if I had
heard of any machinations against them, or if I had noticed any bad
design on the part of Duhaut and the rest. I answered that I had heard
nothing, except that they sometimes complained of being found fault
with so often; and that this was all I knew, besides which, as they
were persuaded that I was in his interest, they would not have told me
of any bad design they might have. We were very uneasy all the rest of
the evening."

In the morning La Salle set out with his Indian guide. He had changed
his mind with regard to Joutel, whom he now directed to remain in
charge of the camp and to keep a careful watch. He told the friar
Anastase Douay to come with him instead of Joutel, whose gun, which
was the best in the party, he borrowed for the occasion, as well as
his pistol. The three proceeded on their way - La Salle, the friar, and
the Indian. "All the way," writes the friar, "he spoke to me of
nothing but matters of piety, grace, and predestination; enlarging on
the debt he owed to God, who had saved him from so many perils during
more than twenty years of travel in America. Suddenly, I saw him
overwhelmed with a profound sadness, for which he himself could not
account. He was so much moved that I scarcely knew him." He soon
recovered his usual calmness; and they walked on till they approached
the camp of Duhaut, which was on the farther side of a small river.
Looking about him with the eye of a woodsman, La Salle saw two eagles
circling in the air nearly over him, as if attracted by carcasses of
beasts or men. He fired his gun and his pistol, as a summons to any of
his followers who might be within hearing. The shots reached the ears
of the conspirators.

Rightly conjecturing by whom they were fired, several of them, led by
Duhaut, crossed the river at a little distance above, where trees or
other intervening objects hid them from sight. Duhaut and the surgeon
crouched like Indians in the long, dry, reed-like grass of the last
summer's growth, while L'Archeveque stood in sight near the bank. La
Salle, continuing to advance, soon saw him, and calling to him,
demanded where was Moranget. The man, without lifting his hat, or any
show of respect, replied in an agitated and broken voice, but with a
tone of studied insolence, that Moranget was strolling about
somewhere. La Salle rebuked and menaced him. He rejoined with
increased insolence, drawing back, as he spoke, toward the ambuscade,
while the incensed commander advanced to chastise him. At that moment,
a shot was fired from the grass, instantly followed by another; and,
pierced through the brain, La Salle dropt dead.

The friar at his side stood terror-stricken, unable to advance or to
fly; when Duhaut, rising from the ambuscade, called out to him to take
courage, for he had nothing to fear. The murderers now came forward,
and with wild looks gathered about their victim. "There thou liest,
great Bashaw! There thou liest!" exclaimed the surgeon Liotot, in base
exultation over the unconscious corpse. With mockery and insult, they
stript it naked, dragged it into the bushes, and left it there, a prey
to buzzards and wolves.

Thus, in the vigor of his manhood, at the age of forty-three, died
Robert Cavelier de La Salle, "one of the greatest men," writes Tonty,
"of this age"; without question one of the most remarkable explorers
whose names live in history. His faithful officer Joutel thus sketches
his portrait: "His firmness, his courage, his great knowledge of the
arts and sciences, which made him equal to every undertaking, and his
untiring energy, which enabled him to surmount every obstacle, would
have won at last a glorious success for his grand enterprise, had not
all his fine qualities been counterbalanced by a haughtiness of manner
which often made him unsupportable, and by a harshness toward those
under his command which drew upon him an implacable hatred, and was at
last the cause of his death."

The enthusiasm of the disinterested and chivalrous Champlain was not
the enthusiasm of La Salle, nor had he any part in the self-devoted
zeal of the early Jesuit explorers. He belonged not to the age of the
knight-errant and the saint, but to the modern world of practical
study and practical action. He was the hero, not of a principle nor of
a faith, but simply of a fixt idea and a determined purpose. As often
happens with concentered and energetic natures, his purpose was to him
a passion and an inspiration; and he clung to it with a certain
fanaticism of devotion. It was the offspring of an ambition vast and
comprehensive, yet acting in the interest both of France and of
civilization.

Serious in all things, incapable of the lighter pleasures, incapable
of repose, finding no joy but in the pursuit of great designs, too shy
for society and too reserved for popularity, often unsympathetic and
always seeming so, smothering emotions which he could not utter,
schooled to universal distrust, stern to his followers and pitiless to
himself, bearing the brunt of every hardship and every danger,
demanding of others an equal constancy joined to an implicit
deference, heeding no counsel but his own, attempting the impossible
and grasping at what was too vast to hold - he contained in his own
complex and painful nature the chief springs of his triumphs, his
failures, and his death.

It is easy to reckon up his defects, but it is not easy to hide from
sight the Roman virtues that redeemed them. Beset by a throng of
enemies, he stands, like the King of Israel, head and shoulders above
them all. He was a tower of adamant, against whose impregnable front
hardship and danger, the rage of man and of the elements, the southern
sun, the northern blast, fatigue, famine, and disease, delay,
disappointment, and deferred hope emptied their quivers in vain. That
very pride which, Coriolanus-like, declared itself most sternly in the
thickest press of foes, has in it something to challenge admiration.
Never, under the impenetrable mail of paladin or crusader, beat a
heart of more intrepid mettle than within the stoic panoply that armed
the breast of La Salle. To estimate aright the marvels of his patient
fortitude, one must follow on his track through the vast scene of his
interminable journeyings, those thousands of weary miles of forest,
marsh, and river, where, again and again, in the bitterness of baffled
striving, the untiring pilgrim pushed onward toward the goal which he
was never to attain. America owes him an enduring memory; for, in this
masculine figure, she sees the pioneer who guided her to the
possession of her richest heritage.




III

THE COMING OF FRONTENAC TO CANADA[50]

(1672)


Count Frontenac came of an ancient and noble race, said to have been of
Basque origin. His father held a high post in the household of Louis XIII,
who became the child's godfather, and gave him his own name. At the age of
fifteen, the young Louis showed an uncontrollable passion for the life of a
soldier. He was sent to the seat of war in Holland, to serve under the
Prince of Orange. At the age of nineteen, he was a volunteer at the siege
of Hesdin; in the next year he was at Arras, where he distinguished himself
during a sortie of the garrison; in the next, he took part in the siege of
Aire; and, in the next, in those of Callioure and Perpignan. At the age of
twenty-three, he was made colonel of the regiment of Normandy, which he
commanded in repeated battles and sieges of the Italian campaign. He was
several times wounded, and in 1646 he had an arm broken at the siege of
Orbitello. In the same year, when twenty-six years old, he was raised to
the rank of maréchal de camp, equivalent to that of brigadier-general. A
year or two later we find him at Paris, at the house of his father, on the
Quai des Célestins.

[Footnote 50: From Chapters I and II of "Count Frontenac and New
France Under Louis XIV." Copyright, 1877, by Francis Parkman.
Published by Little, Brown & Company.]

In the same neighborhood lived La Grange-Trianon, Sieur de Neuville, a
widower of fifty, with one child, a daughter of sixteen, whom he had
placed in the charge of his relative, Madame de Bouthillier. Frontenac
fell in love with her. Madam de Bouthillier opposed the match, and
told La Grange that he might do better for his daughter than marry her
to a man who, say what he might, had but twenty thousand francs a
year. La Grange was weak and vacillating: sometimes he listened to his
prudent kinswoman, and sometimes to the eager suitor; treated him as a
son-in-law, carried love messages from him to his daughter, and ended
by refusing him her hand, and ordering her to renounce him on pain of
being immured in a convent. Neither Frontenac nor his mistress was of
a pliant temper. In the neighborhood was the little church of St.
Pierre aux Boeufs, which had the privilege of uniting couples without
the consent of their parents; and here, on a Wednesday in October,
1648, the lovers were married in presence of a number of Frontenac's
relatives. La Grange was furious at the discovery; but his anger soon
cooled, and complete reconciliation followed.

The happiness of the newly wedded pair was short. Love soon changed to
aversion, at least on the part of the bride. She was not of a tender
nature; her temper was imperious, and she had a restless craving for
excitement. Frontenac, on his part, was the most wayward and
headstrong of men. She bore him a son; but maternal cares were not to
her liking....

At Versailles there is a portrait of a lady, beautiful and young. She
is painted as Minerva, a plumed helmet on her head, and a shield on
her arm. In a corner of the canvas is written Anne de La
Grange-Trianon, Comtesse de Frontenac. This blooming goddess was the
wife of the future governor of Canada.

Madame de Frontenac, at the age of about twenty, was a favorite
companion of Mademoiselle de Montpensier, the grand-daughter of Henry
IV and a daughter of the weak and dastardly Gaston, Duke of Orleans.
Nothing in French annals has found more readers than the story of the
exploit of this spirited princess at Orleans during the civil war of
the Fronde. Her cousin Condé, chief of the revolt, had found favor in
her eyes; and she had espoused his cause against her cousin, the
King....

In 1669, a Venetian embassy came to France to beg for aid against the
Turks, who for more than two years had attacked Candia in overwhelming
force. The ambassadors offered to place their own troops under French
command, and they asked Turenne to name a general officer equal to the
task. Frontenac had the signal honor of being chosen by the first
soldier of Europe for this most arduous and difficult position. He
went accordingly. The result increased his reputation for ability and
courage; but Candia was doomed, and its chief fortress fell into the
hands of the infidels, after a protracted struggle, which is said to
have cost them a hundred and eighty thousand men.

Three years later Frontenac received the appointment of Governor and
Lieutenant-General for the King in all New France. "He was," says
Saint-Simon, "a man of excellent parts, living much in society, and
completely ruined. He found it hard to bear the imperious temper of
his wife and he was given the government of Canada to deliver him from
her, and afford him some means of living." Certain scandalous songs of
the day assign a different motive for his appointment. Louis XIV was
enamored of Madame de Montespan. She had once smiled upon Frontenac;
and it is said that the jealous King gladly embraced the opportunity
of removing from his presence and from hers a lover who had
forestalled him.

Frontenac's wife had no thought of following him across the sea, a
more congenial life awaiting her at home....

Frontenac was fifty-two years old when he landed at Quebec. If time
had done little to cure his many faults, it had done nothing to weaken
the springs of his unconquerable vitality. In his ripe middle age he
was as keen, fiery, and perversely headstrong as when he quarreled
with Prefontaine in the hall at St. Fargeau.

Had nature disposed him to melancholy, there was much in his position
to awaken it. A man of courts and camps, born and bred in the focus of
a most gorgeous civilization, he was banished to the ends of the
earth, among savage hordes and half-reclaimed forests, to exchange the
splendors of St. Germain and the dawning glories of Versailles for a
stern gray rock, haunted by somber priests, rugged merchants and
traders, blanketed Indians, and wild bushrangers. But Frontenac was a
man of action. He wasted no time in vain regrets, and set himself to
his work with the elastic vigor of youth. His first impressions had
been very favorable. When, as he sailed up the St. Lawrence, the basin
of Quebec opened before him, his imagination kindled with the grandeur
of the scene. "I never," he wrote, "saw anything more superb than the
position of this town. It could not be better situated as the future
capital of a great empire."




IV

THE DEATH OF ISAAC JOGUES[51]

(1646)


Late in the autumn a party of the Indians set forth on their yearly
deer-hunt, and Jogues was ordered to go with them. Shivering and
half-famished, he followed them through the chill November forest, and
shared their wild bivouac in the depths of the wintry desolation. The
game they took was devoted to Areskoui, their god, and eaten in his
honor. Jogues would not taste the meat offered to a demon; and thus he
starved in the midst of plenty. At night, when the kettle was slung,
and the savage crew made merry around their fire, he crouched in a
corner of the hut, gnawed by hunger, and pierced to the bone with
cold. They thought his presence unpropitious to their hunting, and the
women especially hated him. His demeanor at once astonished and
incensed his masters. He brought them fire-wood, like a squaw; he did
their bidding without a murmur, and patiently bore their abuse; but
when they mocked at his God, and laughed at his devotions, their slave
assumed an air and tone of authority, and sternly rebuked them.

[Footnote 51: From Chapters XVI and XX of "The Jesuits in North
America." Copyright, 1867, 1895, by Francis Parkman. Published by
Little, Brown & Company. The site of Jogues's martyrdom is near
Auriesville in the Mohawk valley, where a memorial chapel in his honor
is now maintained, the Rev. John J. Wynne, S. J., having been active
in securing and maintaining it.]

He would sometimes escape from "this Babylon," as he calls the hut,
and wander in the forest, telling his beads and repeating passages of
Scripture. In a remote and lonely spot he cut the bark in the form of
the cross from the trunk of a great tree; and here he made his
prayers. This living martyr, half-clad in shaggy furs, kneeling on the
snow among the icicled rocks and beneath the gloomy pines, bowing in
adoration before the emblem of the faith in which was his only
consolation and his only hope, is alike a theme for the pen and a
subject for the pencil....

He remained two days, half-stifled, in this foul lurking-place,[52]
while the Indians, furious at his escape, ransacked the settlement in
vain to find him. They came off to the vessel, and so terrified the
officers that Jogues was sent on shore at night, and led to the fort.
Here he was hidden in the garret of a house occupied by a miserly old
man, to whose charge he was consigned. Food was sent to him; but, as
his host appropriated the larger part to himself, Jogues was nearly
starved. There was a compartment of his garret, separated from the
rest by a partition of boards. Here the old Dutchman, who, like many
others of the settlers, carried on a trade with the Mohawks, kept a
quantity of goods for that purpose; and hither he often brought his
customers. The boards of the partition had shrunk, leaving wide
crevices; and Jogues could plainly see the Indians, as they passed
between him and the light. They, on their part, might as easily have
seen him, if he had not, when he heard them entering the house, hidden
himself behind some barrels in the corner, where he would sometimes
remain crouched for hours, in a constrained and painful posture,
half-suffocated with heat, and afraid to move a limb. His wounded leg
began to show dangerous symptoms; but he was relieved by the care of a
Dutch, surgeon of the fort. The minister, Megapolensis, also visited
him, and did all in his power for the comfort of his Catholic brother,
with whom he seems to have been well pleased, and whom he calls "a
very learned scholar."

[Footnote 52: Near Albany, or Fort Orange, as it was then called.]

When Jogues had remained for six weeks in this hiding-place, his Dutch
friends succeeded in satisfying his Indian masters by the payment of a
large ransom. A vessel from Manhattan, now New York, soon after brought up
an order from the Director-General, Kieft, that he should be sent to him.
Accordingly, he was placed in a small vessel, which carried him down the
Hudson. The Dutch on board treated him with great kindness; and, to do him
honor, named after him one of the islands in the river. At Manhattan he
found a dilapidated fort, garrisoned by sixty soldiers, and containing a
stone church and the Director-General's house, together with storehouses
and barracks. Near it were ranges of small houses, occupied chiefly by
mechanics and laborers; while the dwellings of the remaining colonists,
numbering in all four or five hundred, were scattered here and there on the
island and the neighboring shores. The settlers were of different sects and
nations, but chiefly Dutch Calvinists. Kieft told his guest that eighteen
different languages were spoken at Manhattan. The colonists were in the
midst of a bloody Indian war, brought on by their own besotted cruelty; and
while Jogues was at the fort, some forty of the Dutchmen were killed on the
neighboring farms, and many barns and houses burned.

The Director-General, with a humanity that was far from usual with
him, exchanged Jogues's squalid and savage dress for a suit of Dutch
cloth, and gave him passage in a small vessel which was then about to
sail....

Jogues became a center of curiosity and reverence. He was summoned to
Paris. The Queen, Anne of Austria, wished to see him; and when the
persecuted slave of the Mohawks was conducted into her presence, she
kissed his mutilated hands, while the ladies of the court thronged
around to do him homage. We are told, and no doubt with truth, that
these honors were unwelcome to the modest and single-hearted
missionary, who thought only of returning to his work of converting
the Indians. A priest with any deformity of body is debarred from
saying mass. The teeth and knives of the Iroquois had inflicted an
injury worse than the tortures imagined, for they had robbed Jogues of
the privilege which was the chief consolation of his life; but the
Pope, by a special dispensation, restored it to him, and with the
opening spring he sailed again for Canada....

In the evening - it was the eighteenth of October - Jogues, smarting
with his wounds and bruises, was sitting in one of the lodges, when an
Indian entered, and asked him to a feast. To refuse would have been an
offense. He arose and followed the savage, who led him to the lodge of


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