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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Wrote the associates of Montreal


The

blind gropings and intestine struggles of the rival possessors of monopolies were soon succeeded by united action. Richelieu favored commerce, and did not disdain to apply thereto the resources of his great and fertile mind. In 1627 he put himself at the head of a company of a hundred associates, on which the king conferred the possession as well as the government of New France, together with the commercial monopoly and freedom from all taxes for fifteen years. The colonists were to be French and Catholics; Huguenots were excluded: they alone had till then manifested any tendency towards emigration; the attempts at colonization in America were due to their efforts: less liberal in New France than he had lately been in Europe, the cardinal thus enlisted in the service of the foreigner all the adventurous spirits and the bold explorers amongst the French Protestants, at the very moment when the English Puritans, driven from their country by the narrow and meddlesome policy of James I., were dropping anchor at the foot of Plymouth Rock., and were founding, in the name of religious liberty, a new Protestant England, the rival ere long of that New France which was Catholic and absolutist.

Champlain had died at Quebec on Christmas Day, 1635, after twenty-seven years' efforts and sufferings in the service of the nascent colony. Bold and enterprising, endowed with indomitable perseverance and rare practical faculties, an explorer of distant forests,

an intrepid negotiator with the savage tribes, a wise and patient administrator, indulgent towards all, in spite of his ardent devotion, Samuel de Champlain had presented the rare intermixture of the heroic qualities of past times with the zeal for science and the practical talents of modern ages; he was replaced in his government by a knight of Malta, M. de Montmagny. Quebec had a seminary, a hospital, and a convent, before it possessed a population.

The foundation of Montreal was still more exclusively religious. The accounts of the Jesuits had inflamed pious souls with a noble emulation; a Montreal association was formed, under the direction of M. Olier, founder of St. Sulpice. The first expedition was placed under the command of a valiant gentleman, Paul de Maisonneuve, and of a certain Mademoiselle Mance, belonging to the middle class of Nogent-le-Roi, who was not yet a nun, but who was destined to become the foundress of the hospital-sisters of Ville-Marie, the name which the religious zeal of the explorers intended for the new colony of Montreal.

It was not without jealousy that the governor of Quebec and the agents of the hundred associates looked upon the enterprise of M. de Maisonneuve; an attempt was made to persuade him to remain in the settlement already founded. "I am not come here to deliberate, but to act," answered he; "it is my duty, as well as an honor to me, to found a colony at Montreal, and I shall go, though every tree were an Iroquois!"

On the 16th of May, 1642, the new colonists had scarcely disembarked when they were mustered around Father Vimont, a Jesuit, clothed in his pontifical vestments. The priest, having first celebrated mass, turned to those present. "You are only a grain of mustard-seed," said he, "but you will grow until your branches cover the whole earth. You are few in number, but your work is that of God. His eye is upon you, and your children will replenish the earth." "You say that the enterprise of Montreal is of a cost more suitable for a king than for a few private persons too feeble to sustain it," wrote the associates of Montreal, in 1643, in reply to their adversaries, "and you further allege the perils of the navigation and the shipwrecks that may ruin it. You have made a better hit than you supposed in saying that it is a king's work, for the King of kings has a hand in it, He whom the winds and the sea obey. We, therefore, do not fear shipwrecks; He will not cause them save when it is good for us, and when it is for His glory, which is our only aim. If the, finger of God be not in the affair of Montreal, if it be a human invention, do not trouble yourselves about it; it will never endure; but, if God have willed it, who are you, that you should gainsay Him?"


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