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A Half Century of Conflict - Volume I by Parkman

The Norridgewock band of the Abenakis


and other disputed questions of boundary were to be settled by commissioners of the two powers; but their meeting was put off for forty years, and then their discussions ended in the Seven Years' War. The claims of the rival nations were in fact so discordant that any attempt to reconcile them must needs produce a fresh quarrel. The treaty had left a choice of evils. To discuss the boundary question meant to renew the war; to leave it unsettled was a source of constant irritation; and while delay staved off a great war, it quickly produced a small one.

The river Kennebec, which was generally admitted by the French to be the dividing line between their possessions and New England,[228] was regarded by them with the most watchful jealousy. Its headwaters approached those of the Canadian river Chaudiere, the mouth of which is near Quebec; and by ascending the former stream and crossing to the headwaters of the latter, through an intricacy of forests, hills, ponds, and marshes, it was possible for a small band of hardy men, unencumbered by cannon, to reach the Canadian capital,--as was done long after by the followers of Benedict Arnold. Hence it was thought a matter of the last importance to close the Kennebec against such an attempt. The Norridgewock band of the Abenakis, who lived on the banks of that river, were used to serve this purpose and to form a sort of advance-guard to the French colony, while other kindred bands on the Penobscot, the

St. Croix, and the St. John were expected to aid in opposing a living barrier to English intrusion. Missionaries were stationed among all these Indians to keep them true to Church and King. The most important station, that of the Norridgewocks, was in charge of Father Sebastien Rale, the most conspicuous and interesting figure among the later French-American Jesuits.

Since the middle of the seventeenth century a change had come over the Jesuit missions of New France. Nothing is more striking or more admirable than the self-devoted apostleship of the earlier period.[229] The movement in Western Europe known as the Renaissance was far more than a revival of arts and letters,--it was an awakening of intellectual, moral, and religious life; the offspring of causes long in action, and the parent of other movements in action to this day. The Protestant Reformation was a part of it. That revolt against Rome produced a counter Renaissance in the bosom of the ancient Church herself. In presence of that peril she woke from sloth and corruption, and girded herself to beat back the invading heresies, by force or by craft, by inquisitorial fires, by the arms of princely and imperial allies, and by the self-sacrificing enthusiasm of her saints and martyrs. That time of danger produced the exalted zeal of Xavier and the intense, thoughtful, organizing zeal of Loyola. After a century had passed, the flame still burned, and it never shone with a purer or brighter radiance than in the early missions of New France.

Such ardors cannot be permanent; they must subside, from the law of their nature. If the great Western mission had been a success, the enthusiasm of its founders might have maintained itself for some time longer; but that mission was extinguished in blood. Its martyrs died in vain, and the burning faith that had created it was rudely tried. Canada ceased to be a mission. The civil and military powers grew strong, and the Church no longer ruled with undivided sway. The times changed, and the men changed with them. It is a characteristic of the Jesuit Order, and one of the sources of its strength, that it chooses the workman for his work, studies the qualities of its members, and gives to each the task for which he is fitted best. When its aim was to convert savage hordes and build up another Paraguay in the Northern wilderness, it sent a Jogues, a Brebeuf, a Charles Garnier, and a Gabriel Lalemant, like a forlorn hope, to storm the stronghold of heathendom. In later times it sent other men to meet other needs and accomplish other purposes.

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