Count Frontenac
Chapter III The Beginning of Frontenac's Administration


THE information we possess respecting the life of Count Frontenac prior to his appointment to the governorship of Canada is far from being as complete as might be wished. Such particulars as the records of the period furnish have been carefully gathered by Parkman and others ;1 and it is doubtful whether any further facts of importance will come to light. He was born— there is nothing to show where—in 1620, one year after the great minister, Colbert, under whom he was destined to serve. His family belonged to the small principality of Béarn, now incorporated in the Department of the Basses Pyrénées, which, made an appanage to the French Crown by Henry of Navarre, was only formally incorporated with the kingdom of France in the very year in which Frontenac was born. His father, Henri de Buade, was colonel of the regiment of Navarre, but has not otherwise passed into history. His grandfather, Antoine de Buade, Seigneur de Frontenac and Baron de Palluau, was a man of more distinction, being not only state councillor under Henry IV, but first steward of the royal household and governor of St. Germain-en-Laye. He is described in the memoirs of Philip Hurault as "one of the oldest servants of the king." His children used to play familiarly with the dauphin, afterwards Louis XIII; and the association thus formed lasted for some time after their playmate became king, which he did, nominally, at the age of nine, upon the assassination of his father, Henry IV. The Frontenac family was thus noble, though not of the highest nobility; and its connection with the domestic life of the royal family gave it no doubt an additional measure of influence. The youthful king, with whom the young Frontenacs played, became the father of Louis XIV.

Louis de Buade, Count Frontenac, the subject of this narrative, felt early in life a call to arms. The Thirty Years' War broke out in 1618 ; and when France, in 1635, under the astute guidance of Cardinal Richelieu, interfered on the Protestant side, Frontenac, then fifteen years of age, was sent to Holland to serve under the Prince of Orange. He seems to have acquitted himself with bravery and distinction in many different sieges and engagements both in the Low Countries and in Italy. He was wounded many times: at the siege of Orbitello in 1646 he had an arm broken. In this year he was raised to the rank of marechal de camp, or brigadier-general. Three years before, at the age of twenty-three, he had been made colonel of the regiment of Normandy

His service appears to have been continuous, or nearly so, till the war was brought to a conclusion in 1648 by the Peace of Westphalia. In the year mentioned we find him resting from the alarms and fatigues of war in his father's house on the Quai des Celestins at Paris. Close by lived an attractive young lady of sixteen, daughter of a certain M. de la Grange-Trianon, Sieur de Neuville, with whom, as became his age and profession, the returned warrior fell deeply in love. His passion was returned sufficiently to lead the young lady, when her father's consent could not be obtained, to marry her suitor at one of the churches in Paris authorized to solemnize marriages, in more or less urgent cases, without the consent of parents. The marriage was not a happy one. Madame de Frontenac soon conceived a positive aversion for her husband, and they seem, at a very early period, to have ceased to live together, though not before the birth of a son. The child was placed in the charge of a village nurse, and little more is heard of him, except that when he grew up he embraced the profession of arms, and died, it is not certain how, at a comparatively early age. The mother joined the train of Mademoiselle de Montpensier. These were the days of the Fronde —the abortive rebellion against the fiscal iniquities of Mazarin during the minority of Louis XIV— and in following the fortunes of her patroness, whose father, the king's uncle, had joined the opposition, the young countess had some strange adventures.

What part, if any, Frontenac himself took in the troubles of the period, does not appear; probably none, for although somewhat turbulent by nature, as will abundantly appear hereafter, he was not without a large element of caution, particularly where persons in high authority were concerned. It is certain, at least, that, when the strife was over, he enjoyed a good position at court, as Mademoiselle de Montpensier notes, having met him more than once in the cabinet of the queen. He possessed a property on the Indre, in the neighbourhood of Blois, and here he attempted to keep up a state far beyond his income. " Your means are very slender and your waste is great," said the chief-justice to Sir John Falstaff; and the same observation might not inaptly have been addressed to Frontenac. He prided himself extravagantly upon his horses, his table, his servants—in a word, on everything that was his ; entertained largely, and ran himself hopelessly into debt. In 1669 the French government sent a contingent to assist the Venetians in defending Candia (Crete), against the Turks. The Venetians offered to place their own troops under French command, and Frontenac had the high honour of being recommended by Turenne, the greatest military leader of the age, for the position. In this struggle the Turks triumphed; the island fell into their power; and Frontenac returned to France with enhanced military prestige, but without any amelioration of his financial position. Saint Simon describes him as "a man of good abilities, holding a prominent position in society, but utterly ruined." He adds that he could not bear the haughty temper of his wife, and that his appointment as governor of Canada was given to him in order to relieve him of her, and afford him some means of living. His wife's temper was not more haughty probably than his own; neither apparently was disposed to show any deference to the wishes of the other. Madame de Frontenac, who was a woman of keen intelligence, without any large amount of feminine tenderness, took too dispassionate a measure of her husband's qualities to satisfy his rather exacting self-esteem. She must have had some means of her own, for, though she did not go to court, she lived for many years surrounded by the best people and enjoying a high degree of social authority. Though she did not accompany her husband to Canada, and probably was not invited to do so, it is plausibly conjectured that her influence in court circles stood him in good stead on more than one occasion.

Frontenac's commission as governor was dated 6th April 1672, but he did not leave France till midsummer. It is interesting to know that M. de Grignan, Madame de S&vignd's son-in-law, was a candidate for the same position. Had he obtained it, and had his wife, the accomplished daughter of a still more accomplished mother, accompanied him, what flashes of light on Canadian society might we not have obtained from that mother's correspondence! Unfortunately no vestige of Frontenac's private correspondence with either his wife or any one else remains. Courcelles and Talon were still at Quebec when he arrived. From the former he obtained a full account of his expedition to Lake Ontario; and from the latter much information as to the general condition of the country, the various enterprises in the way of exploration that had already been undertaken, and the further ones that it might be well to organize. Frontenac, who had the eye of a soldier for a good military position, was much impressed by what Courcelles told him of Cataraqui; and from the first the idea of establishing a fortified post at that point took strong possession of his mind.

The new governor was not a young man—he was fifty-two years of age—but his natural force, either of body or of mind, was not abated. To a man of his tastes and habits there were many privations involved in a residence in a country like Canada; but there were compensations, the chief of which, perhaps, was to be found in the opportunity afforded him of exercising a semi-royal pomp and power; while a close second, it cannot be doubted, was the chance of rehabilitating his shattered fortunes. It would be unjust, at the same time, to suppose that the man who had fought through so many hard campaigns was not sincerely desirous of serving his king and country in the new position to which he had been assigned.

The first important step that he took was a characteristic one, namely, an attempt to constitute in Canada the "three estates" of nobles, clergy, and people, of which the kingdom of France was nominally constituted. True, the three estates, or " States-General," as they were properly called, had not been summoned in the mother country since 1614, and it was doubtful if their existence as an organ of political authority, or even of political opinion, was more than theoretical. This fact might have caused another man to hesitate, but not Count Frontenac ; to him the idea of gathering representatives of the country round him, marshalling them in their respective orders, and, after addressing them in the name of the king, requiring them to take the oath of allegiance in his presence, was too alluring to be put aside. So the summons went forth, and the assembly was held on one of the last days of October in the new church of the Jesuits. The "estates " were constituted, the oaths were taken, and the governor stirred the feelings of his audience, consisting, he says, of over a thousand persons, by referring to the victories which his royal master had that year achieved in his war with Holland. Everything, indeed, passed off beautifully; but when a report of the proceedings reached the minister, Colbert, his response was of a somewhat chilling nature. The immediate effect of the assembly might, perhaps, he said, be good, but  it is well for you to observe that, as you are always to follow the forms in force here, and as our kings have considered it for a long time advantageous not to assemble the States-General of their kingdom, with the object perhaps of insensibly abolishing that ancient form, you also ought only very rarely, or—to speak more correctly—never, give that form to the corporate body of the inhabitants of that country." Colbert did not even approve— though perhaps on this point he was expressing more particularly the views of the king—of the election of " syndics " to represent the interests of the population of Quebec. "Let every one," he said, "speak for himself; it is not desirable to have any one authorized to speak for all." This was absolutism with a vengeance. It answered for the day ; but could the minister have looked forward to 1789 he would have seen that the "ancient form," which it was proposed to extinguish by desuetude, was destined, like a blazing star that suddenly flashes a strange light in the heavens, to leap into a new life, amazing, consuming, resistless.

The views of the governor, it must be admitted, were, in this whole matter, decidedly in advance of those of the minister, able administrator as the latter undoubtedly was. Frontenac had come to Canada to uphold the royal authority in the fullest sense, but he appears to have had a perception that, in a new country where so much responsibility was necessarily thrown upon individuals, there ought to be a certain measure of spontaneous political life. Masterful as he was himself by nature, it is not recorded that he ever dwelt on the necessity of repressing individual liberty; it is the intendant, Meulles, a dozen years later, who writes: "It is of very great importance that the people should not be allowed to speak their minds."

No, the quarter in which Frontenac conceived the authority of his royal master might, perhaps, be threatened, was a different one altogether; in other words the battle he foresaw was not against the political aspirations of the people, but against the excessive claims and pretensions of the ecclesiastical power. This idea did not originate in his own mind. The instructions which he brought out with him, while they eulogized the zeal and piety of the Jesuits, hinted that they might seek to extend their authority beyond its proper limits, in which case Frontenac was to " give them kindly to understand the conduct they ought to observe "; and if they did not amend their ways, he was, as the document read, "skilfully to oppose their designs in such a way that no rupture may ensue, and no distinct intention on your part to thwart their purposes may be apparent." The court had, indeed, for several years been under the impression that cautions of this kind to its representatives were necessary. In Talon's instructions, drafted in the year 1664, the troubles that had occurred between previous governors and the bishop were rehearsed, and the inference was at least suggested that these might in part have arisen from the domineering spirit of the prelate. He had had his way with Argenson, Avaugour, and M£zy; but, if the civil power was not to pale entirely before the ecclesiastical, it was about time that the series of his victories should close. Other despatches to Courcelles, Bouteroue (interim intendant during Talon's temporary absence in France), and Frontenac himself contain observations of a like tenor.

The redoubtable vicar-apostolic was not in Canada when Frontenac arrived. He had sailed for France in the month of May to press the important matter of his appointment as bishop of Quebec. A letter which he wrote to the cardinals of the propaganda almost immediately on his arrival serves to show the reasons he had for desiring this change of status, and, incidentally, his opinion of the civil officers of the Crown. " I have learnt," he says, " by a long experience how insecure the office of vicar-apostolic is against those who are entrusted with political affairs, I mean the officers of the court, the perpetual rivals and despisers of the ecclesiastical power, who steadily contend that the authority of a vicar-apostolic is open to doubt, and should be kept within certain limits. That is why, having considered the whole matter very carefully, I have fully determined to resign that office, and not to return to New France, unless the bishopric of Quebec is constituted, and unless I am provided and armed with the bulls constituting me the Ordinary." These are the words of a man who knows his own mind, and, we may add, of one who is prepared to fight his enemies to a finish. He may not have known, before he arrived in France, what man, and what kind of a man, had been selected as successor to Courcelles ; but we may be sure that, when he found out, he was not less impressed than before with the need for a strengthening of his position.

Louis XIV had himself for thirteen / years been pressing, at intervals, upon the Holy See the expediency of establishing a bishopric in New France, but without much success. There were some points of difference between the French court and the Roman authorities as to the conditions under which the projected diocese should be created, and the latter showed a wonderful skill in prolonging the negotiations. Finally, the only point in dispute was whether the new bishop should be a suffragan of one of the French archbishops, as desired by the king, or directly dependent on the Pope. This point was conceded by the king in December 1673; but it was not till October 1674 that the necessary bull was issued. In the following April Laval took the oath of fealty to the king as bishop of Quebec, with jurisdiction over the whole of Canada, and shortly afterwards he set sail for the scene of his pastoral labours. Thus it was that for nearly three years Frontenac had no direct relations with the head of the Canadian church.

Was this interval, then, one of peace ? Not entirely. Frontenac defines his position and raises a note of alarm in his very first despatch to the minister for the colonies.1 He was dissatisfied, he said, with "the complete subserviency of the priests of the seminary at Quebec, and the bishop's vicar-general to the Jesuit fathers, without whose orders they never do anything. Thus," he adds, " they [the Jesuits] are indirectly the masters of whatever relates to the spiritual, which, as you are aware, is a great machine for moving all the rest." He thinks they have gained an ascendency even over the Superior of the Rdcollets;2 and he expresses the wish that the ecclesiastics of that order could be replaced by abler men who could hold their own against the Jesuit influence. He men

tions that he had expressed his surprise in strong terms to the Jesuit fathers at Ste. Foy that not one of their Indian converts had been taught the French language, and had told them that they " should bethink themselves, when rendering the savages subjects of Jesus Christ, of making them subjects of the king also—that the true way to make them Christians was to make them men." The governor had probably noticed that lack of vigorous, self-helping manhood in the Indian converts, which is hinted at even in the Jesuit Relations, and which had certainly been conspicuous in the christianized Huron tribe in the crisis of their struggle with the Iroquois. As regards teaching them the French language, the missionaries had their own well-defined reasons for not doing so. They did not wish to bring them into too close contact with the French inhabitants, lest they should unlearn the lessons of morality and religion that had been taught to them. The great object which the priests had in view was to build up a kingdom not of this world ; and, as the object which the king and his officers had mainly in view was to enlarge and strengthen the French dominions, it is not surprising that there was clashing now and again. Frontenac, in writing to Colbert, seems to have felt assured of sympathy in his somewhat anti-clerical, or, at least, anti-Jesuit, attitude; otherwise he would never have ventured to make, as he does in the same despatch, the unjustifiable statement that the Jesuit missionaries were quite as much interested in the beaver trade as in the conversion of souls, and that most of their missions were pure mockeries. It was of Colbert that Madame de Maintenon said: "He only thinks of his finances, and never of religion."

But while the elements of future trouble were plainly visible, no serious friction occurred during the first year of the new governors administration. His relations with the Jesuit order were civil, and with the Sulpicians, at Montreal, and the Récollets entirely friendly. With the Sovereign Council, too, they were all that could be wished. His mind at this time was greatly taken up with the project he had in view of following in Courcelles' footsteps and establishing a military and trading post at Cataraqui. His general policy when he wanted to do a thing was not to ask permission beforehand, but to do it, and trust to the result for justification. Had he laboured under Nelson's disability, he would have been quite capable of turning his blind eye to a prohibitive signal, even after seeing it distinctly with his good one. In his despatch to Colbert of the 2nd November he mentions, in a casual way, that he proposes next spring to visit the place at the outlet of Lake Ontario where M. de Courcelles had projected the establishment of a fort, in order that he may be able " the better to understand its site and importance, and to see if, notwithstanding our actual weakness, it be not possible to create some establishment there that would also strengthen the settlement the gentlemen of Montreal [the Sulpicians] have already formed at Quintd" He adds: "I beg of you, my Lord, to be assured that I shall not spare either care or trouble, or even my life itself, if it be necessary, in the effort to accomplish something pleasing to you, and to prove the gratitude I shall ever feel for the favours I have received at your hands." This is quite effusive, and at the same time tolerably diplomatic. How could the minister do otherwise than approve an enterprise undertaken in so self-sacrificing a spirit, and one prompted by so much personal devotion to himself? Colbert might possibly have replied—if he had had the chance—by pointing Frontenac to his instructions, and asking him to show his devotion to duty by following them out as closely as possible. Those instructions contained the following clause, the tenor of which we shall find repeated in many subsequent communications from the home government: "Sieur de Frontenac is to encourage the inhabitants by all possible means to undertake the cultivation and clearing of the soil; and as the distance of the settlements from one another has considerably retarded the increase thereof, and otherwise facilitated the opportunities of the - Iroquois for their destructive expeditions, Sieur de Frontenac will consider the practicability of obliging those inhabitants to make contiguous clearings, either by constraining the old colonists to labour at it for a certain time, or by making new grants to future settlers under this condition." There is not a word said about extending the boundaries of the colony, or throwing out advanced posts, or any other phase of the policy of expansion. The French government was in fact strongly anti-expansionist; but Frontenac, resembling in this point a later sage, did not think they knew everything in the "Judee" of the ministry of marine and colonies.

So, just about the time that the minister was inditing the despatch in which he gently chided the ebullient Frontenac for his rashness in summoning the States-General,the latter was preparing another little surprise for him. In the spring of the year he had given orders that men and canoes should be held in readiness for the contemplated movement; and, as the supply of available canoes was likely to fall short, he had ordered that a number of new ones should be built. He also directed the construction of two flat-boats, similar to the one used by Courcelles, but of twice the capacity. On the 3rd of June he started with a certain force from Quebec, and after visiting and inspecting different posts along the river, arrived at Montreal, the point of rendezvous, on the 15th of the same month. Here he was received, according to his own account, which there is no reason to question, with the greatest enthusiasm and eclat.

It may be interesting to pause for a moment and try to reconstruct in imagination the scene on which the grizzled and sun-beaten warrior gazed as he alighted from his canoe at five o'clock in the afternoon of that long, bright summer day. The river bank, which had become a common, was probably no longer flower-bespread as it was on that glorious morning in the month of May 3642 when Maisonneuve, Mademoiselle Mance, and their companions knelt in prayer on the soil which their labours and sacrifices were to consecrate ; but the mountain, with its leafy honours thick upon it, stood forth in royal splendour, while cultivated fields, smiling with the promise of a harvest, sloped upwards to its base. In the foreground was the growing burg, full of life and animation on this memorable day. To the left was the fort built by Maisonneuve, no longer relied on for defence, but used chiefly as a residence for the local governor. The river front was as yet unoccupied by houses, the nearest line of which lay along what is now, as it was then, St. Paul Street, from St. Peter Street in the west to somewhat beyond the present Dalhousie Square in the east. Montreal as yet did not possess any parish church ; the churches maintained by the different congregations, particularly that of the Hotel Dieu, having up to this time been made to serve the needs of the population. The foundations of a regular parish church had been laid, but the work of construction was proceeding slowly, and five years had yet to elapse before the edifice was finished. The principal buildings were the H6tel Dieu, which had lately lost its pious founder, Mademoiselle Mance; the Congregation de Notre Dame, still conducted by the brave and cheery Margaret Bourgeoys; and the Seminary of St. Sulpice. The whole town, if we may so call it, was comprised between the eastern and western limits just defined, and the northern and southern ones of St. Paul and St. James Streets; even so, much the larger part of the contained space was not built up. A few of the wealthier merchants had erected substantial houses, and there was something already in the appearance of the place which suggested that it would have a future. We can imagine the zeal with which the local governor, Perrot, upon whose proceedings in the way of illicit traffic it is probable Frontenac already had an eye—an eye of envy the Abbé Faillon somewhat harshly suggests—would receive the king's direct representative. All the troops that the island could furnish were drawn up under arms at the landing-place, and salvos of artillery and musketry gave emphasis to the official words of welcome. The officers of justice and the " syndic" — the spokesman of the people in municipal matters—were next presented, and, after they had delivered addresses, a procession was formed to the church, at the door of which the clergy were waiting to receive the viceregal visitor with all due honour. By the time the appropriate services, including the chanting of the Te Deum, had been concluded, the sun had sunk behind the mountain. It was the hour for rest and refreshment, and the governor was conducted to the quarters assigned to him in the fort, beneath the windows of which tranquilly rolled the mighty flood of the St. Lawrence, still bright with the evening glow.

Frontenac had brought with him his military guard, consisting of twenty men or so, his staff, and a few volunteers. Additional men were to follow from Quebec, Three Rivers, and other places; and some were to be recruited at Montreal. In ten or twelve days everything was in readiness. A waggon-road had been made to Lachine, over, which baggage, provisions, and munitions of war were conveyed; and a start was made from that point on the 30th June, the whole force consisting of about four hundred men, including some Huron Indians, in one hundred and twenty canoes and the two flat-boats already, mentioned. -Some time before setting out Frontenac had sent on, as an envoy to the five Iroquois nations, to invite them to a conference, Cavelier de la Salle, a man who had already penetrated some distance into the western country, and who was destined to achieve the highest fame as an explorer.

The voyage up the river was attended, as had indeed been expected, with serious difficulty. The united strength of fifty men was necessary to draw each of the flat-boats up the side of some of the rapids. The whole force, however, worked with the utmost zeal and good-will; the Hurons in particular accomplishing wonders of strength and endurance such as they had never been known to perform for any previous commander. But if portions of the journey were thus arduous, others were delightful. Thus we read in Frontenac's own narrative: " It would be impossible to have finer navigation or more favourable weather than we had on the 3rd of July, a light north-east breeze having sprung up which enabled our bateaux to keep up with the canoes. On the 4th we pursued our journey and came to the most beautiful piece of country that can be imagined, the river being strewn with islands, the trees in which are all either oak or other kinds of hard wood, while the soil is admirable. The banks on both sides of the river are not less charming, the trees, which are very high, standing out distinctly and forming as fine groves as you could see in France. On both sides may be seen meadows covered with rich grass and a vast variety of lovely wild flowers; so that it may be safely stated that from the head of Lake St. Francis to the next rapid above, you could not see a more beautiful country, if only it were cleared a bit."

On the 12th July, as the expedition was approaching Cataraqui in excellent military order, they were met by the Indians, who evinced much pleasure at seeing the count and his followers, and conducted them to a spot suitable for encampment. Some preliminary civilities were exchanged, but it was not till the 17th that serious negotiations were begun. The count, meanwhile, having found close by what he considered an advantageous location for his .proposed fort, set his men to work %o clear the ground, fell and square timber, dig trenches, etc., in a manner which fairly surprised the Indians, who were not accustomed to seeing building operations carried on so systematically and speedily. But if they were impressed by the working capacity of the expeditionary force, they were still more deeply influenced by the discourse of the governor and the presents which accompanied it. Had the count been a " black robe " himself, he could not have spoken with more unction or more unimpeachable orthodoxy in urging his savage hearers to embrace Christianity. He condensed, for the occasion, the whole of Christian teaching into the two great commandments of love to God and love to man, and appealed to the consciences of his hearers as to whether both were not entirely reasonable. This portion of his speech, in which he also declared that he desired peace both between the French and the Iroquois, and between the latter and all Indian tribes under French protection, was recommended by a present of fifteen guns and a quantity of powder, lead, and gunflints. Next he informed them of his intention to form a trading-post at Cataraqui. "Here," he said, "you will find all sorts of refreshments and commodities, which I shall cause to be furnished to you at the cheapest rate possible." He added, however, that it would be very expensive to bring goods so far, and that they must take that into consideration in criticizing prices. Twenty-five large overcoats were distributed at this point. In the third place he reproached them with their cruel treatment of the Hurons, and said that he meant to treat all the Indian nations alike, and wished all to enjoy equal security and equal advantages in every way. " See," he said, " that.no complaints are made to me henceforward on this subject, for I shall become angry; as I insist that you Iroquois, Algonquins, and other nations that have me for a father, shall live henceforth as brothers." He asked also that they would let him have a few of their children that they might learn the French language and be instructed by the priests. Twenty-five shirts, an equal number of pairs of stockings, five packages of glass beads, and five coats were given to round off this appeal.

The reply of the delegates of the five Iroquois nations was in tone and temper all that could be wished. They thanked Onontio that he had addressed them as children, and were glad that he was going to assume towards them the relation of father. They readily consented to live at peace with the Hurons and Algonquins, and would, when they returned to their cantons, carefully consider the question of letting him have a certain number of their children. One delegate showed his financial acumen by observing that, while Onontio had promised to let them have goods as cheap as possible at the fort, he had not said what the tariff would be. To this the count replied that he could not say what the freight would amount to, but that considering them as his children, he would see that they were fairly treated. Another, a Cayugan, evinced his knowledge of current history by lamenting the calamities which the Dutch were suffering in their war with the French, trade relations between the Dutch and the Iroquois having always been very satisfactory. He consoled himself, however, with the thought that his nation would now find a father in Onontio.

While the negotiations were in progress, work on the fort was proceeding rapidly, and by the 20th of the month it was finished. The count then dismissed the body of his force, the men being anxious to return to their homes. He himself remained behind to meet some belated delegates from points on the north shore of Lake Ontario, whom he did not fail to reprove for their want of punctuality, after which, with rare liberality of speech, he repeated to them all he had said to the others. A few days' delay was also caused by the necessity of awaiting a convoy from Montreal with a year's provisions for the fort. Finally, on the 28th July, the governor and his party started on their homeward journey and arrived safely at Montreal on the 1st of August. During the whole expedition not one man or one canoe was lost.

The narrative of this expedition has been given in some detail because it sets in a strong light the better side of Frontenac's character. We see him here as the able and vigorous organizer, the firm, judicious, and skilful commander, the accomplished diplomat, and the lover of peace rather than war. Short a time as he had been in the country, he seemed already to understand the Indian character, and the Indians in turn understood him. His language in addressing them was direct and simple, frank and courageous. He had no hesitation in assuming the paternal relation, and won their hearts by doing so. But it was not only over savages that he exerted a natural ascendency, for we have seen the zeal and enthusiasm with which his orders were executed by the whole expeditionary force. Whatever weaknesses he may have had, it was not in the field or in active service that they were displayed.

The memorandum, which serves as authority for the facts just narrated, was addressed to Colbert, and sent to France by a ship sailing from Quebec shortly before the close of navigation. The minister's reply was dated 17th May of the following year. He does not at all congratulate Frontenac upon his exploit. "You will readily understand," he says, " by what I have just told you,1 that his Majesty's intention is not that you undertake great voyages by ascending the river St Lawrence, nor that the inhabitants spread themselves for the future further than they have already done. On the contrary, he desires that you labour incessantly, and during the whole time you are in that country, to consolidate, concentrate, and form them into towns and villages, that they may be in a better position to defend themselves successfully." In acknowledging this despatch, far from apologizing for what he had done, Frontenac told the minister that the very best results had flowed from it. More Indians had come to Montreal than ever before, eight hundred having been seen at one time; Iroquois, Algonquins, and Hurons were mixing with one another in the most friendly manner; the Jesuit missionaries among the Iroquois found their position greatly improved, and were never tired of saying so ; and, finally, he had obtained the Indian children he had asked for, eight in number, who were being educated in the French fashion, and who would be a perpetual guarantee of the peaceful behaviour of the tribes to which they belonged. At the same time he says, that if the minister absolutely disapproves of the fort, he will go next year and pull it down with as much alacrity as he had put it up. This the minister did not insist on. In fact he was not long in coming round to Frontenac's view that considering all the circumstances of the case the fort was a necessity. One point of interest connected with its establishment, upon which Frontenac has left us in ignorance, is whom he appointed as its first commandant. A contemporary writer1 tells us it was La Salle, and the statement is not improbable. It was La Salle, as we have seen, whom the governor sent to the Iroquois to invite them to the conference, and as he had acquitted himself of that mission in the most successful manner, it seems natural that lie should have been the first chosen to command a post, the principal object of which was to serve as a convenient meeting-place for Iroquois and French. A temporary concession of the fort was made a year later to two Montreal merchants, Bazire and Lebert, but it passed again, in the following year, into the hands of La Salle, who had meantime gone to France and laid before the court certain larger schemes for which Fort Frontenac was to serve as a base, and which he obtained the king's authority to carry into effect.


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