Sommes Sound from the top of Acadia Mountain
Catholics thought the only good Injun was a catechised Injun whereas the puritan protestants thought the only good Injun was a dead Injun.
The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents
Travels and Explorations
of the Jesuit Missionaries
in New France
by Reuben Gold Thwaites
Doubtless Norse Vikings, venturing far southward from outlying colonies in Iceland and Greenland, first coasted New France, and beached their sturdy ships on the shores of New England. But five centuries passed without result, and we cannot properly call them pioneers of American civilization. Columbus it was, who unlocked the eastern door of the new world. Five years later, John Cabot, in behalf of England, was sighting the gloomy headlands of Cape Breton. Cortereal appeared in the neighborhood, in 1501, seeking lands for the Portuguese crown. About this time, at intervals, there came to Newfoundland certain Norman, Breton, and Basque fishers, who, erecting little huts and drying-scaffolds along the rocky shore, sowed the first seed of that polyglot settlement of French, Portuguese, Spanish, and English which has come down to our day almost uninterruptedly. By 1520, these fishermen appear to have known the mainland to the west; for on the map of Sylvanus, in his edition of Ptolemy, that year, we find a delineation of the "square gulf," which answers to the gulf of St. Lawrence in 1520, Fagundus visited these waters for the [page 1] Portuguese, and four years later Verrazano was making for the French an exploration of the coast between North Carolina and Newfoundland. Whether or not Cartier (1535) was the first to sail up the St. Lawrence "until land could be seen on either side," no man can now tell; apparently, he was the first to leave a record of doing so. Progress up the river was checked by Lachine Rapids, and he spent the winter on Montréal island.
France and Spain were just then engaged in one of their periodical quarrels, and adventurers were needed to fight battles at home, so that it was six years before any attempts were made to colonize the river-lands to which Cartier had led the way. In 1541, a Picard seigneur named Roberval, enjoying the friendship of Francis 1st, was commissioned as viceroy of the new country beyond the Atlantic, with Cartier as his chief pilot and captain-general, and a choice selection of jail-birds for colonists. Cartier started off before his chief, built a fort at Québec, and, after a long and miserable winter, picked up a quantity of glittering stones which he took to be gold and diamonds, and gladly, set sail for home. Tradition has it that Roberval met him near the mouth of the river, but was unable to induce him to return to his cheerless task of founding a state in an inhospitable wilderness, with convicts for citizens. Roberval, however, proceeded to Québec with his consignment of prison dregs, and throughout another protracted winter the flag of France floated from the little intrenched camp which Cartier had planted on the summit of the cliff. Roberval's principal occupation appears to have been the disciplining of his unruly followers, a work in which the Gibbet and [page 2] the lash were freely employed. He also essayed explorations up the river; but the rude task was not to his liking, and, with what remained of his battered band, he followed Cartier to France.
It is commonly said that Canada was abandoned by the French between the going of Roberval and the coming of Champlain. But, though little was done toward colonizing on the St. Lawrence, Newfoundland was by no means neglected. Its fishing industry grew apace. The rules of the church, prescribing a fish diet on certain holy days, led to a large use of salted fish throughout catholic Europe; and, by 1578, full a hundred and fifty French vessels alone, chiefly Breton, were employed in the Newfoundland fisheries, while a good trade with the mainland Indians, as far south as the Potomac, had now sprung up. The island colony proved valuable as a supply and repair station for traders and explorers, and thus served as a nucleus of both French and English settlement in America.
It is difficult for us of to-day to realize that, at any time in the world's history, enlightened folk should have thought good colonists could be made out of the sweepings of the jails and gutters of the old world. But in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that delusion was quite generally entertained by would-be founders of states across sea; it required the lessons of more than a hundred years of disastrous experiments to teach discerning men that only the best of the middle class and the masses, can successfully plant a new community in the wilderness. The experiences of Cartier and Roberval on the St. Lawrence, and of Laudonnière in Florida (1564), were of no avail in influencing governmental policy [page 3] at Paris. In 1590, the Marquis de la Roche was sent out with the usual dissolute crew to succeed Roberval as the king's agent on the banks of the St. Lawrence. Leaving part of his ill -favored gang on the desert Sable Isle, off Nova Scotia (where early in the century Baron de Léry had vainly attempted to plant a colony), La Roche set forth to explore the mainland for a site. A wild storm blew his vessels to France, and the wretched skin-clad survivors of the band which he had left behind were not rescued until thirteen years had elapsed. Their tale of horror long rang in the ears of France.
In 1600-1603, Chauvin and Pontgravé made successful trading voyages to the St. Lawrence. Samuel de Champlain was one of the: party which, in the latter year, followed in Cartier's track to Montréal. The same season, a Calvinist, named De Monts, was given the vice-royalty and fur-trade monopoly of Acadia, and in 1604 he landed a strangely-assorted company of vagabonds and gentlemen on St. Croix Island, near the present boundary between Maine and New Brunswick; but in the spring following they settled at Port Royal, near where is now Annapolis, Nova Scotia, thus planting the first French agricultural settlement in America. Five years later, Champlain reared a permanent post on the rock of Québec, and New France was a last, after a century-of experiments, fairly under way.
Various motives influenced he men who sought to establish French colonization in America. The ill-fated agricultural colony of the Huguenots in Florida (1562-68), was avowedly an attempt of Admiral Coligny to found an enduring asylum for French Protestants. The enterprise of New France, [page 4] on the other hand, was the outgrowth of interests more or less conflicting. Doubtless the court had deepest at heart the kingly passion for' territorial aggrandizement; next uppermost, was the pious wish to convert heathen nations to the catholic faith, explorers like Cartier being authorized to discover new lands "in order the better to do what is pleasing to God, our Creator and Redeemer, and what may be for the increase of his holy and sacred name, and of our holy mother, the Church;" the desire for pelf, through the agency of the fur trade and the possibility of the discovery of precious metals, gave commercial zest to the undertaking, and to many was the raison d'être of the colony; and lastly, was the almost universal yearning for adventure, among a people who in the seventeenth century were still imbued with that chivalric temper which among Englishmen is assigned to the Middle Ages. The inner life of New France, throughout its century and a half of existence, was largely a warring between these several interests.
Missionaries came early upon the scene. With the Calvinist De Monts were Huguenot ministers for the benefit of the settlers, and Catholic priests to open a mission among the savages, or the court had stipulated with him that the latter were to be instructed only in the faith of Rome. But no missionary work was done, for the colony was through several years on the verge of dissolution, and the priests became victims of scurvy. Poutrincourt, who held under De Monts the patent for Port Royal, did nothing to further the purposes of the court in this regard, until 1610, when, admonished for his neglect, he brought out with him a secular priest, Messire [page 5] Jesse Fléché, of Langres, who on June 24, " apparently in some haste," baptized twenty-one Abenakis, including the district sagamore, or chief. The account of this affair, which Poutrincourt sent in triumph to France, is the initial document in the present series.
On the twelfth of June, 1611 there arrived at Port Royal, at the instance of King Henry IV, two Jesuit fathers, Pierre Biard and Ennemond Massé. They were, however, not favorably received by Poutrincourt and his followers; they found great practical difficulties in acquiring the Indian languages, and made slight progress in the Herculean task to which they hod been set. To them came, the following year, a lay brother, Gilbert du Thet, who was soon dispatched to the head of the order, in France, with an account of the situation. In the spring of 1613, he returned, in company with Father Quentin. The little band of missionaries had no sooner established themselves at the new French colony on Mt. Desert Island, than the latter was attacked and dispersed by the Virginian Argall. Du Thet was killed in the fight, Massé was, with other colonists, set adrift in a boat, and Biard and Quentin were taken to Virginia, to be eventually shipped to England, and thence allowed to return into France. Several of the earlier documents of our series have to do with this first: and apparently unfruitful mission of the Jesuits to Acadia.
Every once in a while, standing at the top of Acadia of Flying Mountain, ABS loves to scream The Puritans can go to hell for what they did to Father Biard and the other French Jebbies and then he wonders how the other hikers react to hearing him.