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THE
CONQUEST OF CANADA.

BY

THE AUTHOR OF "HOCHELAGA."


IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. 1.

NEW YORK:
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,
82 CLIFF STREET.
1850.




INTRODUCTION.


England and France started in a fair race for the magnificent prize of
supremacy in America. The advantages and difficulties of each were much
alike, but the systems by which they improved those advantages and met
those difficulties were essentially different. New France was colonized
by a government, New England by a people. In Canada the men of
intellect, influence, and wealth were only the agents of the mother
country; they fulfilled, it is true, their colonial duties with zeal and
ability, but they ever looked to France for honor and approbation, and
longed for a return to her shores as their best reward. They were in the
colony, but not of it. They strove vigorously to repel invasion, to
improve agriculture, and to encourage commerce, for the sake of France,
but not for Canada.

The mass of the population of New France were descended from settlers
sent out within a short time after the first occupation of the country,
and who were not selected for any peculiar qualifications. They were not
led to emigrate from the spirit of adventure, disappointed ambition, or
political discontent; by far the larger proportion left their native
country under the pressure of extreme want or in blind obedience to the
will of their superiors. They were then established in points best
suited to the interests of France, not those best suited to their own.
The physical condition of the humbler emigrant, however, became better
than that of his countrymen in the Old World; the fertile soil repaid
his labor with competence; independence fostered self-reliance, and the
unchecked range of forest and prairie inspired him with thoughts of
freedom. But all these elevating tendencies were fatally counteracted by
the blighting influence of feudal organization. Restrictions,
humiliating as well as injurious, pressed upon the person and property
of the Canadian. Every avenue to wealth and influence was closed to him
and thrown open to the children of Old France. He saw whole tracts of
the magnificent country lavished upon the favorites and military
followers of the court, and, through corrupt or capricious influences,
the privilege of exclusive trade granted for the aggrandizement of
strangers at his expense.

France founded a state in Canada. She established a feudal and
ecclesiastical frame-work for the young nation, and into that
Procrustean bed the growth of population and the proportions of society
were forced. The state fixed governments at Montreal, Three Rivers, and
Quebec; there towns arose. She divided the rich banks of the St.
Lawrence and of the Richelieu into seigneuries; there population spread.
She placed posts on the lakes and rivers of the Far West; there the
fur-traders congregated. She divided the land into dioceses and
parishes, and appointed bishops and curates; a portion of all produce of
the soil was exacted for their support. She sent out the people at her
own cost, and acknowledged no shadow of popular rights. She organized
the inhabitants by an unsparing conscription, and placed over them
officers either from the Old Country or from the favored class of
seigneurs. She grasped a monopoly of every valuable production of the
country, and yet forced upon it her own manufactures to the exclusion of
all others. She squandered her resources and treasures on the colony,
but violated all principles of justice in a vain endeavor to make that
colony a source of wealth. She sent out the ablest and best of her
officers to govern on the falsest and worst of systems. Her energy
absorbed all individual energy; her perpetual and minute interference
aspired to shape and direct all will and motive of her subjects. The
state was every thing, the people nothing. Finally, when the power of
the state was broken by a foreign foe, there remained no power of the
people to supply its place. On the day that the French armies ceased to
resist, Canada was a peaceful province of British America.

A few years after the French crown had founded a state in Canada, a
handful of Puritan refugees founded a people in New England. They bore
with them from the mother country little beside a bitter hatred of the
existing government, and a stern resolve to perish or be free. One small
vessel--the Mayflower--held them, their wives, their children, and their
scanty stores. So ignorant were they of the country of their adoption,
that they sought its shores in the depth of winter, when nothing but a
snowy desert met their sight. Dire hardships assailed them; many
sickened and died, but those who lived still strove bravely. And bitter
was their trial; the scowling sky above their heads, the frozen earth
under their feet, and sorest of all, deep in their strong hearts the
unacknowledged love of that venerable land which they had abandoned
forever.

But brighter times soon came; the snowy desert changed into a fair scene
of life and vegetation. The woods rang with the cheerful sound of the
ax; the fields were tilled hopefully, the harvest gathered gratefully.
Other vessels arrived bearing more settlers, men, for the most part,
like those who had first landed. Their numbers swelled to hundreds,
thousands, tens of thousands. They formed themselves into a community;
they decreed laws, stern and quaint, but suited to their condition. They
had neither rich nor poor; they admitted of no superiority save in their
own gloomy estimate of merit; they persecuted all forms of faith
different from that which they themselves held, and yet they would have
died rather than suffer the religious interference of others. Far from
seeking or accepting aid from the government of England, they patiently
tolerated their nominal dependence only because they were virtually
independent. For protection against the savage; for relief in pestilence
or famine; for help to plenty and prosperity, they trusted alone to God
in heaven, and to their own right hand on earth.

Such, in the main, were the ancestors of the men of New England, and, in
spite of all subsequent admixture, such, in the main, were they
themselves. In the other British colonies also, hampered though they
were by charters, and proprietary rights, and alloyed by a Babel
congregation of French Huguenots, Dutch, Swedes, Quakers, Nobles,
Roundheads, Canadians, rogues, zealots, infidels, enthusiasts, and
felons, a general prosperity had created individual self-reliance, and
self-reliance had engendered the desire of self-government. Each colony
contained a separate vitality within itself. They commenced under a
variety of systems; more or less practicable, more or less liberal, and
more or less dependent on the parent state. But the spirit of
adventure, the disaffection, and the disappointed ambition which had so
rapidly recruited their population, gave a general bias to their
political feelings which no arbitrary authority could restrain, and no
institutions counteract. They were less intolerant and morose, but at
the same time, also, less industrious and moral than their Puritan
neighbors. Like them, however, they resented all interference from
England as far as they dared, and constantly strove for the acquisition
or retention of popular rights.

The British colonists, left at first, in a great measure, to themselves,
settled on the most fertile lands, built their towns upon the most
convenient harbors, directed their industry to the most profitable
commerce, raised the most valuable productions. The trading spirit of
the mother country became almost a passion when transferred to the New
World. Enterprise and industry were stimulated to incredible activity by
brilliant success and ample reward. As wealth and the means of
subsistence increased, so multiplied the population. Early marriages
were universal; a numerous family was the riches of the parent.
Thousands of immigrants, also, from year to year swelled the living
flood that poured over the wilderness. In a century and a half the
inhabitants of British America exceeded nearly twenty-fold the people of
New France. The relative superiority of the first over the last was even
greater in wealth and resources than in population. The merchant navy of
the English colonies was already larger than that of many European
nations, and known in almost every port in the world where men bought
and sold. New France had none.

The French colonies were founded and fostered by the state, with the
real object of extending the dominion, increasing the power, and
illustrating the glory of France. The ostensible object of settlement,
at least that holding the most prominent place in all Acts and Charters,
was to extend the true religion, and to minister to the glory of God.
From the earliest time the ecclesiastical establishments of Canada were
formed on a scale suited to these professed views. Not only was ample
provision made for the spiritual wants of the European population, but
the labors of many earnest and devoted men were directed to the
enlightenment of the heathen Indians. At first the Church and the civil
government leaned upon each other for mutual support and assistance, but
after a time, when neither of these powers found themselves troubled
with popular opposition, their union grew less intimate; their interests
differed, jealousies ensued, and finally they became antagonistic orders
in the community. The mass of the people, more devout than intelligent,
sympathized with the priesthood; this sympathy did not, however,
interfere with unqualified submission to the government.

The Canadians were trained to implicit obedience to their rulers,
spiritual and temporal: these rulers ventured not to imperil their
absolute authority by educating their vassals.



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