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An Abridged History of Canada
Chapter IX.—Frontenac's Second Administration - To 1698


Frontenac re-appointed Governor—1689. French Invasion of New England—Massacres of Corlaer and Salmon Falls -First American Congress at New York—Sir Wm. Phipps captures Port Royal-Is repulsed at Quebec—1690. Iroquois ravages—Frontenac burns their towns—D'berville in Newfoundland and Hudson's Bay—1686. Treaty of Ryswick restores respective possessions of France and England—1697. Death of Frontenac in his seventy-eighth year —1698.

The veteran soldier, now near seventy years of age, was hailed as the deliverer of Canada. He arrived at a critical period. The peril of the colony was increased by the declaration of war between France and England, in consequence of the Revolution of 1688, whereby James II. was driven from his throne by William III. Prince of Orange.

M. de Calibres, the Governor of Montreal, had already urged an attack upon the English at Albany and New York, whom he .accused, and not without reason, of inciting the Iroquois to war. It was now resolved to act vigorously on the aggressive.

In midwinter, Frontenac ravaged, with fire and sword, the British colonies. Let one example suffice: Early in February, two hundred men, half French' and half Indians, marched from Montreal through the snow to Corlaer (now Schenectady), near Albany. At midnight, in a bitter storm, they entered stealthily the little hamlet sleeping in fancied security with open and unguarded gates. The wild war-whoop was raised, and sixty men, women, and children were butchered in cold blood, and every house was burned to ashes. It was not war; it was midnight murder.

The British colonies now began to act with vigour. Sir William Phipps, a native of Maine, who had risen from before the mast to a baronetcy, and a captaincy in the royal navy, captured and plundered the small French fort of Port Royal, in Acadia. In May, a congress of British colonists, the first ever held, assembled at New York to concert a scheme vof combined action. A vigorous attack on Canada, by land and water, was devised. A partial famine, and the outbreak of small-pox, caused the complete miscarriage of the overland expedition.

Frontenac was now startled at learning that an English fleet was carefully sounding its way up the St. Lawrence. Early in the morning of October 5th, the snowy sails of a fleet, under Sir William Phipps, were seen slowly rounding the headland of Point Levi. Phipps sent a summons to surrender in the name of William of Orange, King of England. Led blindfolded into the council chamber of the Chateau of St. Louis, the envoy, laying his watch upon the table, demanded an answer in an hour. "I will answer by the mouth of my cannon," defiantly replied the choleric Frontenac, and he soon opened a damaging fire on the fleet. Phipps ineffectively attempted to reply. His assaulting party of twelve hundred men was repulsed with loss. Nine vessels of his squadron were wrecked. The church of Notre Dame de la Victoire, still standing in the Lower Town, commemorates this victory.

The entire population of New France was only eleven thousand. That of New England was at least ten times as many. The plucky Frenchmen continued to wage the unequal conflict. With their Indian allies they ravaged the New England frontier, and French corsairs swept the seaboard, and even cut out vessels in Boston harbour. The English cut the dikes, flooded the land, and slaughtered the cattle of the French settlements of Acadia.

A reign of terror and sorrow, of desolation and death, prevailed. "No Frenchman shall have leave to cut a stick," threatened the revengeful Mohawks; "they shall find no quiet even in their graves." Along the frontier every house was a fortress, and every household was an armed garrison. Many were the deeds of daring done by lone women in defence of their hearths and babes, and pitiful the sufferings they endured. The footprints of civilization were marked with blood. The culture of the soil was impossible, and famine threatened the*land. Society was returning to a state of savagery. Christian men, despising the vast heritage of virgin soil with which the great All-Father had dowered his children, red or white, in their mutual jealousy, and hatred, and unhallowed greed for gain, hounded their savage allies at each other's throats, and, crowning atrocity of shame! a tariff of prizes was offered for human scalps— from ten to fifty louis by the English, from ten to twenty by the French. Amid such horrors were the foundations of the Canadian nationality laid.

To put an end to this reign of terror, Frontenac resolved on a supreme effort. He rebuilt the fort at Cataraqui called by his name, and collected there a force of twenty-three hundred men, French and Indians, for the punishment of the Iroquois. Crossing Lake Ontario they sailed up the Oswego river. In the march through the forest the veteran Governor, now seventy-six years of age, carried in his chair, commanded in person. The Iroquois, firing their villages, fled, leaving the smoking brands the profitless booty of the conqueror. To his lasting disgrace, Frontenac permitted the torture of a forest stoic of nearly a hundred years, from whom no sufferings could extort a single groan.

During these stormy years, M. D'Iberville, a native of Montreal, who had risen to a naval captaincy in the French service, was maintaining the supremacy of the French arms. In 1685, with MM. Troyes and Ste. Helene and eighty Canadians, he had traversed on snow-shoes six hundred miles of mountain, marsh, and forest to Hudson's Bay, and with many brave but bloody exploits had captured the British trading- posts on that frozen sea. He subsequently ravaged in midwinter the island of Newfoundland, burning the fishing town of St. John's. In a series of bloody conflicts several forts of the island and the New England coast were taken and re-taken by the French and English several times. In 1679, with a single fifty-gun ship, he defeated in the waters of Hudson's Bay three British vessels, with one hundred and twenty-four guns, sending one to the bottom with all sail set, with the loss of every one on board; and conquered the whole territory for France. Thus the icebergs and rocky shores of this wild northern sea echoed the international strife that was deluging the plains of Europe with blood, and carrying terror to every hamlet in New England and New France.

The treaty of Ryswick, signed September 20th, 1697, put an end to the war in the Old World and the New, and restored to France and England the respective possessions held at its outbreak. The bloodshed and pillage, the wretchedness and ruin of eight long years counted for nothing; and the irrepressible conflict for the possession of a continent had to be fought over, again and again. Frontenac 1AQS soon a^er died at Quebec in the seventy-eighth year of his age. He was respected or admired by his friends for his energy and daring of character, and feared or hated by his enemies—and he had many—for his stern and haughty manners and cruel temper in war. His lot was cast in troublous times, and he had at least the merit of preserving to France the colony which he found on the very verge of ruin.

On the declaration of peace, D'lberville, the hero of Hudson's Bay, obtained a commission to colonize Louisiana. Exploring, planting, building from 1699 to 1702 in the hot, unwholesome swamps. and lagoons of the Gulf coast, he founded Boloxi and Mobile. Smitten with yellow fever, he returned to France. Scarce convalescent, he captured from the British, Nevis, one of their West India possessions, and died of a second attack of yellow fever, in 1706 aged forty-four. Thus passed away one of the restless spirits of a stormy age, whose deeds of valour were unhappily also deeds of blood.


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