THE FRENCH IN AMERICA.
The French empire in the New World has vanished, leaving behind it ineffaceable monuments of the grand political conception of which it formed part. Wherever that empire had an actual existence, the dis- tinctively national French characteristics still appear, little if at all weakened by change of sovereignty and long lapse of time. Even if no vital forces had survived its decay, its historical literature alone would stand as a worthy monument of the gieat past. The story of that past is known in marvellous detail — in detail to which British colonial history can scarcely offer a parallel. All that can be attempted here is to mark the chief stages in the rise of the French power and to analyse the elements of strength and weakness shown in the development of Canada, Acadia, Louisiana, the French Antilles and French Guiana. The fact that the course of British colonisation runs closely parallel sers-es to point the meaning of the chronological sequence of events and to assist by contrast the analysis of the French colonial character.
Although the tropical and temperate colonies caimot for most purposes be treated as one, yet the changes in the system of government of each coincide so closely that the history of them all falls conveniently into weU-defined periods. The first period, that of inchoation, ends \vith the creation of the two Companies, the Company of New France, and the Company of the Isles of America, in 1627. Their period of rule ends in 1664, when Colbert created his Company of the West. Colbert’s period, 1664-83, may be treated as one; for, although it divides sharply in 1674, when the great Company of the West ceased to be, and when the colonies passed under the control of the Crown, Colbert’s scheme possesses a imity which absorbs the subordinate question of trade monopoly. The fourth period, 1683-1713, covers the attempted foundation of Louisiana, shows Canada militant and West Indian trade nascent. In conclusion, the period from the Treaty of Utrecht to the Treaty of Paris, 1713 to 1763, covers the death- struggle of New France and opens the golden age of the French sugar-islands.
The English priority in successful settlement was of about twelve
First permanent colony.
months only. The last unsuccessful attempt at a French Canadian settlement happened to coincide with the first successful planting of ^ a permanent English colony in Virginia. In 1608 the first permanent French colony was planted in Canada; and the New V^’^orld rivalry began. But as in both France and England the memory of past discovery stiU lived, educated opinion dated the rivalry yet further back. The French looked back to Verrazzano as the English looked back to Cabot. The direction of French efforts was determined for all time by the discoveries of Cartier, 1534-41; by the raising of the royal arms in the mysterious Norumbega, Canada, and Hochelaga; by Roherval’s attempted colony of “ New France ”; by the fort erected at Quebec. Powerful to influence the imaginations of English and French alike were the fate of Ribault and Laudonniere’s Huguenot colony in “ Carolina,” 1562-65, and the story of Hawkins’ visit to it, of its fate at the hands of the Spaniards, and of the French vengeance. Nor had the fishermen of the two countries waited for politicians to direct them in search of a harvest in the New World.
Already a few French traders, undirected by authority, found profit in trading with the natives for their furs in the Tadoussac district on the northern shores of the mouth of the St Lawrence, when in 1598 the Marquis de la Roche, like another Gilbert, decided to renew the letters patent which he had received in 1578 and to settle a colony there, as lieutenant-general of the King in Canada, Hochelaga, the Newfoundlands, Labrador, the river of the Great Bay, Norumbega and the adjacent islands. Backed by a company possessed of the monopoly of trade in this unknown region of many names, a colony of forty men reached Sable Island, a banen sandbank off the coast of what is now Nova Scotia. The Marquis returned, and the colony was not revisited till 1603, when the miserable remnant of twelve came home. But the merchants of Dieppe, Rouen, St Malo and Rochelle, eager to seek a share in the monopoly of the nascent fur-trade, supported the next patentee, the Huguenot de Monts, who in 1603 was styled Lieutenant of the King in New France or La Cadie (said to be the Micmac Akade), between the 40th and 46th degrees. A settlement was made in 1605 at Port Royal, now Annapolis in Nova Scotia, and de Poutrincoxrrt received the first grant of land. In 1607 the colony was abandoned, and de Monts with difficulty got his charter renewed for one year. He then made good use of his time; Port Royal was re-established, and the explorer Champlain, who had already visited the coasts afterwards to be known as those of New England, extended the range of trade so far that a habitation was built at Quebec. A first winter was successfully passed, and there never again ceased to be French colonists on the St Lawrence. Champlain in the first instance seems to have desired settlement mainly as a means of supporting exploration and missionary work. For these purposes he chose the northern shores of the St Lawrence. The small settlement at Porl
Conflict with English colonies.
[ 1608 - 2 C
Royal offered no opening for the discovery of an inland waterway westward, none for a wide range of dealings with the Indians; from the first, then, the Acadian and the Canadian settlements were un- ^ fortunately separated. In its haphazard character, the choice of Acadia for settlement seems English rather than French, and remains a memorable exception to the French rule of attempting at least an apparent unity. The necessity for union between Canada and Acadia was ultimately perceived, notably by Talon; but the two colonies which formed New France never succeeded in adding to each other’s strength.
An indication of an early intention on the part of the Crown to treat the colonies on imperial principles appears in the title “ Viceroy,” long before given to Roberval and now again to Conde, as whose agent Champlain acted from 1612 with the title “Lieutenant-general.” But a company of merchants continued as before to supply the funds.
The missionary purpose having been constantly advanced as a main portion of the intended colonial work, Conde in 1615 allowed the Fran- ciscan Recollets to join the settlement. The Jesuit Fathers were also seeking to establish missions, on the model of those of Paraguay begun in 1609. Their opportunity came after the assassination of Henry IV, when, in 1611, the Marquise de Guercheville won the Queen-mother’s support and obtained leave to plant all the land from Florida to Canada except the already granted Port Royal, The result was a third and short-lived settlement, in which the missionary object was for the first time the sole acknowledged aim, planted on Mount Desert and called St Sauveur.
In 1606 James I had chartered two companies to plant between the 34th and 45th degrees, granting them exclusive trade in return for homage and a fifth of treasiue. TLie southern colony of the London Company alone floiuished, but it grew rapidly and in 1611 numbered 700 souls. AVhen the news of French settlements within the 45th degree was brought to Jamestown, the order for their destruction was issued. Port Royal and St Sauveur were wiped out in 1613, and the English thus first forcibly entered claims to a supremacy which they were unable to maintain. Some protest was made, but the justice of the claim was not then discussed between the two nations; Madame de Guercheville was able to secure compensation for her personal losses only.
Meanwhile under Champlain’s leadership the waterways were method- ically traced out from the St Lawrence to the southern end of Lake Champlain, and on the west to the head of Lake Ontario and along the Ottawa. It was Champlain’s energy and the zeal of the Recollet missionaries which kept the little settlement from actual diminution. When in 1625 the Jesuits arrived in Canada, the population of the fort varied from 50 to 60; and only about twenty acres were under tillaf^. The trade monopolists had felt no interest in the creation of a self-supporting colony; trading-posts sufficed for their purposes, and Champlain was not able to promote a wider policy, until in 1627 he won the sympathy
The Company of New France.
of Richelieu, whose desire to secure a great sea-power made him perceive the wisdom of enlarging the limits not only of French trade but also X of French settlement.
The decay of the Spanish empire opened to the Ihitch, the French and the English the possibility of a colonial expansion which fitted in with, and was necessary to, ^e development of the political and commercial ideas of more far-sighted thinkers. Commercial and political principles combined to point the necessity for a navy strong enough to protect the colonial trade, and to prevent all other nations from sharing in its profits. Colonies produced saleable commodities; and the canying-trade developed a mercantile marine. A subsidiary consideration was the desire to secure strategic coigns of vantage and convenient stations for receiving a fleet in distress. The time had not yet come for the development of wider views. Indeed, the possibility of depopulating the mother-country was acknowledged to be a serious danger; nothing had occurred to suggest hopes of great racial expansion.
The risks involved in colonial speculation were stiU so considerable, and the amount of superfluous capital was still so small, that the Dutch, French and English as yet saw no means to develop colonial trade other than the privileged company, forgetful of the many occasions on which the timely arrival of an milicensed vessel had saved a dying colony. Riche- lieu’s creation of the Company of New France, consisting of one hundred and twenty Associates, in 1627, marks an epoch in the development of French colonisation, inasmuch as now for the first time government support was offered to supply the want of adequate voluntary contribu- tions. The Association was on a larger scale than the earlier companies; its acknowledged purpose was wider; and the subscribers (one of whom was Richelieu) were men of very different ranks. The twelve largest shareholders were to be ennobled, and many privileges were extended to those who took up the stock. The Company’s merchandise was exempted from customs, and the King promised to provide two vessels of war for the Company’s service. Entire possession of the soil was given to the Company, together with rights of justice and lordship, from Florida to the Arctic Circle, and the monopoly of all trade, except in the cod and whale fisheries, which were free to ^ French subjects. In return, the Company rendered homage and fealty, and submitted to certain conditions. Two or three hundred artificers were to go to Canada at once, and in the coiuse of fifteen years at least 4000 men and women were to be sent, and maintained for three years. All emigrants were to be French and Catholic, and for each habitation three ecclesiastics were to be provided by the Company. The missionary purpose was put forward prominently. But the capital of the Company amounted only to 800,000 Uvres-, and here was a principal source of weakness. T’he experiences of the Virginian Company, under more favourable conditions, proved that a far larger capital was necessary.
The Company of the Isles of America. [i626-7
Still more inadequate was the capital provided for the French Company of the Isles of America, viz. 45,000 livres, of which Richelieu subscribed 10,000. While on the mainland France and England were ^ entering claims extending from Florida to the Arctic Circle, and from the 34th to the 45th degree respectively, in the West Indian islands similarly extensive and imsubstantial claims were entered by both parties, and again with a close coincidence in date. As the Spanish supremacy lapsed, the smaller West Indian islands were deserted and left open to adventurers of aU nationalities. The Englishman Warner and the Frenchman d’Esnambuc alike selected St Kitt’s, one of the Leeward Islands, deserted by the Spaniards, as one of the most convenient whence to direct attacks on a larger spoil. It is possible that the two rivals chose the same island in order to use each other’s alliance in case of danger from Spain. Both foresaw great opportunities in the future, and both came home to seek government support in their imdertakings. To the French Company were granted all the islands not possessed by Christian princes that lay between the 11th and 18th degrees, with a reserv'ation of a tithe of the produce to the King for twenty years. The English counter-step was the grant of aU the Caribbean Islands between the 10th and SOth degrees to the proprietary government of the Earl of Carlisle (1627).
Similarly, in Guiana a company of Rouen merchants, in 1626, sought to follow up beginnings which dated from La Ravardiere’s enterprise (1604); but here again the English had entered claims by more than one attempted settlement. But the dangers of the climate, the hostility of the natives and the jealousy of the Dutch and Portuguese, long made permanent settlement impossible alike to French and English. The long story of failure is interesting mainly as an indication of the wide geographical range which the Anglo-French colonial conflict covered from tbe earliest period.
The second period of French colonial history, from 1627 to 1664, is a period of quiescence, in which slowly but surely some of the main roots strucL The brilliant hopes for Canada’s future, which the Company of New France had raised in French bosoms, were doomed to an abrupt disappointment; for the English colonists seized the opportunity created by an outbreak of hostilities with France, to cut off the fleet sent to the relief of the Catholic colony. The scheme of attack, directed by the Kirkes, the Calvinist sons of a Scotch settler in Dieppe, was so well concerted that in 1629 Champlain and the little fort of Quebec had no choice but to surrender, and, till the peace of St Germain 1632, New France was an English possession.
For a time the English claim threatened pressure at all points. The work of Guy and Calvert promised permanent settlement in Newfound- land. The foundation of colonies at Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay showed that the question of the Acadian frontier must grow serious.
Second period of colonisation.
In 1621 James I granted to Sir William Alexander the “isle and ^ continent of Norumbega”; the continental portion to be styled New Alexandria, the peninsular Nova Scotia. In 1627 Alexander’s son made a settlement opposite Port Royal, and the son of La Tour, the French successor to de Poutrincourt, withdrew to Cape Sable. With the formal restoration of Canada and Acadia in 1632, a better regulated attempt at their colonisation followed; but the proposal to make three provinces of Canada, Port Royal and Cape Breton rendered La Tour jealous of the rival governors, and he encouraged interference from the now flourishing New Englanders. In 1656, with Cromwell’s co-operation, the Acadian settlement once more passed to the English and was granted to Sir Thomas Temple, who vigorously developed it. But in 1667 Charles IPs French sympathies compelled the restoration of the much debated territory. No boundary-line however long remained sati.sfactory to both parties, and the weakness of the French colony exposed it to continual attacks on the part of its powerful neighbour. Eventually the Kennebec river was to become notorious as a sort of “no-man’s land” where encroach- ments might, or might not, constitute serious offences according as the exigencies of the moment, and the readiness of the rival parties to proceed to larger issues, should determine.
After the restoration of Canada the zeal of the Company began to fall off; and in 1663 the population was only 2500, at a time when the tovra of Boston numbered 14,300 inhabitants, and Virginia over 80,000. A main cause of the backwardness of Canada lay in the particular circumstances that the colonists were called upon to meet. Unluckily for France, Champlain’s arrival in Canada had coincided with the rise of the Iroquois confederacy of Five Nations and the outbreak of hostilities between the races south of the St Lawrence and the Algonquin races, inhabitinsr the Lake districts and the River vallev. It was natural and necessary that the scanty band of settlers should seek a friendly alliance with the natives whose habitations lay nearest to them or into whose lands they pushed their explorations; but these natives happened to belong to tribes destined ultimately to succumb in one of the internecine wars which had continually thinned the native population of America. The hostile confederacy is believed to have numbered in the height of its power not more than 2200 fighting men; but the race of the Mohawks, Senecas, Cayugas, Onondagas, and Oneidas, who made up the Five Nations, was superior in quality to that of the Algonquins and Hurons, the French allies. Their power of permanent confederation supplies evidence enough of their superiority. By lucky accident the English settlements escaped the path of the Iroquois. The tribes that had occupied the New England coasts had been devastated by disease shortly before the arrival of the Puritans, and in Virginia too none of the tribes that were dislodged belonged to the races whom a great future awaited. The path of the Iroquois naturally stretched northward and westward to the
Relations with the natives.
[ 1627 -
hunting grounds, rather than east of the Alleghanies to the coast. Even if the future growth of the Iroquois power could have been foreseen, a neutral position was impossible for intruders so weakly supported as were the early French traders. According to Champlain’s belief he and a force of 120 soldiers supported by his two or three thousand savage allies could force English and Dutch to retire to the coasts, and could then keep the general peace with the Iroquois.
A policy of extermination was no part of the French scheme. It was Champlain’s hope that the beginnings of New France might be made easy by a warm friendship with the Indians. If a large IVench popu- lation failed to emigrate, the example of the Spanish colonies .showed that the natives themselves could be used as labourers. In order to be gallicised, the Indians must be converted, and the converts must be protected from the raids of the heathen. But the very process of conversion and protection, the insidious effects of contact with civilisation, and the pressure of repeated Iroquois attack, involved the unintentional destruction of the tribes whose alliance was most easily secured.
Ihe position of the Hurons in the neighbourhood of Lake Simcoe had made them a defence to the tribes north of the lakes; with the fall of the Hurons the Algonquins were the next exposed. Thus it happened that the missionary work which engaged the best efforts of the French from 1632 to 1664* was deprived of a large part of its usefulness; and during this period it was missionary work alone that met with enthusiastic support at home.
The members of the Company in whose hands the future of the colony lay, for the most part perceived that their chances of personal profit depended on the fur-trade. A large population of French farmere was not to their advantage; for agricultiue diminished the profits of the chase, and in a forest-country yielded a low return. No chartered company had yet found profit in an agriculttual colony, and the northern shores of the St Lawrence, being the coldest portion of the countiy, offered the least hope. Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal, each ninety miles distant from its neighbour, were planned as trading-posts only. Of the total population one-third was gathered at Quebec, the least sheltered and least fertile of the three. During the long winter there was no communication between the three posts except on snow- shoes. So slight was the Company’s success even in the fur-trade — for systematic fraud on the part of its officisils could not be effectually diecked — that the temporary cession of its privileges was found to be advantageous. In 164.5 the Canadian colonists obtained the fur-trade in return for an annual payment of a thousand pounds weight of beaver-skins. The Company still allowed no stranger to go to Canada except on its own vessels, and fixed a tariff for the purchase of furs. The Company chose the Governor-General, and on rare occasions he was assisted by a Council
- 1664 ]
consisting of the Superior of the Jesuits, and of three syndics representing the inhabitants of Quebec, Montreal and Three Rivers. Appeal might \ be made from the judicial decisions of this council to the parlement at Rouen. The habitants, who came for the most part from Normandy, were free from litigious spirit, and such disputes as arose were settled by the governor in the way of arbitration.
The emigrants from France consisted mainly of humble artificers who bound themselves to work for three years without payment, in return for their passage and keep. At the end of the three years they might hope to receive a grant of land e7i roture from one of the lords of lands whom the Company had enfeoffed; or, if they preferred a life of adventure, they entered the fiir-trade. The number of enterprising heads of families seeking to raise the family fortunes by taking up a grant of land en seigneurie was as yet very small. Beyond an increase of dignity, such grants offered little advantage. A seigneurial grant of some ten leagues by twelve was merely hunting-ground, unless the lord could obtain labourers willing to take grants en censive or en roture, who paid a nominal rent per acre, together with some agricultural service on the lord’s demesne. The burden of defence was great when the danger of Indian raids grew serious; and agriculture was not as a rule carried on except in close proximity to the three forts.
The men to whom emigration offered the greatest attraction during this period were not those who sought to found a family or fortune, but those who sought the crown of martyrdom, or, if life at aU, a life of religious devotion and perpetual celibacy. Monastic sentiment found in the French colonies a remarkable revival. The Jesuit father’s reflexion, “should we at last die of misery how great our happiness will be,” animated men to endure hideous mutilations and agonising sufferings at the hands of the Indian enemy, and made them indifferent to starvation, thirst, fatigue and the torments of Canadian forest travel. Women too crowded to the new country in order to deny themselves the pleasures of the old, to tend the Indians dying of small-pox, and to teach Indian girls to seek with them the crown of virginity. The growth of religious institutions was for the present out of all proportion to the development of the State, which above all things required population. But the lines of Jesuit enterprise were fairly varied. Unlike the Recollets, the Jesuits were under no vow of poverty and encouraged agriculture and trade with that definiteness of purpose which they possessed by virtue of their intellectual superiority. At home their work was kept constantly in mind by their witings, by their appeals for help, and by the Crown itself.
In all but population and strength to resist the Iroquois the little colony stood well. Men of bad character were not allowed to stay, and care for the education and well-being of the Indians was a first thought with those who had power. Humanitarian influences were cu. i;i.
The Company of the Isles of America. [1627-64
unusually strong, and the evils which generally accompany the move- ments of alien settlers, whose civilisation is in advance of their environ- ment, were conspicuously absent. ^
In what has been called the second period of French colonisation, 1627-64, the close parallel which marked the nascent stages of the French and the English settlements in the tropical islands ceases; for the English colony in Barbados developed with astonishing rapidity and completely eclipsed the French islands. The isolated situation of Barbados far to the windward, the work done by the Dutch, and the character of the English immigration, made it possible early to exploit the fertility of this small island, which is only about the size of the Isle of Wight; and in their turn the other islands would be exploited. Very wild figures have been given as to the population of Barbados in 1650; they serve mainly as an indication that immense prosperity was believed to exist there. In 1650 half an estate of 500 acres, of which 200 were under cane, sold for £1000. In 1636 there were about 6000 English in the island; in 1656, 25,000 Christians; in 1643, 6400 negroes; in 1666, 50,000. But the first twenty -five years of rapid development were followed by a gi-adual decay. The destruction of the woods deprived Barbados of rain; and the white proprietors began to migrate. In 1676 it was however still inhabited by 21,000 whites, and by over 32,000 negroes. In the same way Jamaica developed after the English conquest, but not with such startling rapidity.
Neither Martinique nor Guadaloupe witnessed anything like an equal progress in population. At first the Company of the Isles of America, or of St Christopher as it was also called, had been powerless to exclude foreign trade; and for this reason the islands began to flourish, and the Company then began to crave the returns which it believed to be due to its expenditure. When a royal order had been issued closing the trade to foreigners the Compjmy was reconstituted with larger capital and privileges (1635). It now aspired to settle all the islands imoccupied, or wEere joint occupation could be effected, *is at St Kitt’s. Its sovereignty was conditional on the despatch of 4000 French Catholics within twenty years, with due ecclesiastical provision. The condition, which in Canada was not fulfilled, was in this case quickly satisfied. Nevertheless, the failure of the Company became far more rapidly obvious in the islands than in Canada; for the openings for contraband trade were here almost unlimited, and could be checked only by a large and ubiquitous fleet. The Company overcharged the colonists for European goods, and fixed low prices on the tobacco and other goods which they offered for sale. Consequently, a flourishing Dutch trade soon carried off all the shareholders’ profits, and the Company decided to make the best bargain possible by selling the islands to would-be proprietors.
In 1661 Colbert succeeded Mazaiin as Controller of Finance; and
1664 ] The Company of the West founded. 79
the Ministry of Marine came under his reforms. He seized the oppor- tunity opened by a proposed Company of Equinoctial France centring N in Cayenne, to form a scheme for the consolidation of the whole of the French colonies in Canada, the West Indies and Guiana under one great Company, to be controlled by himself. The prices at which the islands had been sold and were now bought back give the best view of their relative value. Martinique with the adjacent islands had been sold for 60,000 livres and developed so well under proprietery government, through the introduction of sugar industries by Dutch Jews, that it now cost 240,000. The claims sold to the Maltese Knights for 120,000 livres now cost 500,000; and Guadaloupe and its adjacent islands, sold for 73,000 livres^ cost 125,000 to buy back.
In 1664 letters patent were issued constituting a new Company of the West, with a monopoly of trade for forty years in Canada, Acadia, Newfoundland, the Antilles, Cayenne and the land between the Orinoco and the Amazon, as also on all the coast of Africa, from Cape Verde to the Cape of Good Hope, and in particular on the coast of Guinea and Senegal, so that a supply of slaves might be foi-thcoming. The number of shareholders was unlimited, and official and social privileges of many kinds were offered by the government to large subscribers. The govern- ment offered a bounty on every ton of merchandise imported or exported, and freedom from duty on aU goods re-exported from France and on the export of military stores or provisions for shipping. It also proposed to contribute a tenth of the total capital yearly for the next four years, and afterwards to continue this endowment as a loan. The Company was to have entire lordship over the whole of the lands named, sa'ving only homage to the King; also full powers to fortify, to form alliances, and to engage in war. Subinfeudation was not made compulsory; nor were any terms imposed except that the Company, remembering the King’s sacred purpose to convert the savage nations, should send out clergy and build churches. AU emigrants, aU children bom in the colonies, and aU converted natives were to have the privileges of naturalised Frenchmen. The nomination of governors and officials lay with the Company; and an annual meeting of the Chamber of Direction was to be held in Paris.
The government offered all these privileges in order to attract the necessary capital for colonisation on a grand scale. The close relation of the Company to the government renders the French scheme of chartered companies imlike that of other countries. It was in fact only a step to the ultimate buying out of the shareholders, which, as no conditions were dictated to the Company, was doubtless foreseen by Colbert. From the first the Company tacitly aUowed the Crown to appoint the chief officials. The lieutenant-general and the governors of the islands, being invested with military powers, corresponded with the
80 Colbert and Talon.
King and with Colbert, not with the Company. The slight governmental functions left to its nominees were carefully regulated, so as to allow of supervision by the Crown.
Colbert’s intention of dealing with the transatlantic possessions of France as a whole and of protecting them adequately, was clearly shown in 1664 by the despatch of a squadron under the Marquis de Tracy, with powers as lieutenant-general over all the governors, to make a gener^ inspection of Guiana, the Antilles and finally of Canada. In Canada the necessity of sending disciplined soldiers to break the Iroquois power had long been pressing. A force of 1200 men was sent out; and the result of their brief campaign was to change for a time the relations of the Iroquois to the French Canadians. The Iroquois power was not yet extinguished, but it was so far broken that their chief hope now lay in taking advantage of French and English enmity and in forming alliances with the one or the other as best suited the needs of the moment. The immediate result of the expedition was that roads were made, and forts and missions established, along the bne of the River Richelieu and Lake Champlain,
The advance of the French frontier along this southward waterway implied the danger of conflict with the English on fresh ground. The Iroquois had hitherto served as a bulwark between the Dutch in the New Netherlands and the French in Canada. In 1664, again by a few months only, the English were the first to see the necessity of removing the feeble Dutch power which was the one obstacle to continuous settle- ment along the American coast. By way of exchange for Surinam, the New Netherlands became the English New York (1667). Talon, the Canadian mteiulant, with his usual foresight, wrote in 1666 of the necessity that the French should find on the Hudson a second entry to Canada, one which was not blocked with ice half the year, which would break the English power in its centre, and cut off the English trade with the Iroquois. Although Talon was not allowed to carry out his scheme, the mixed character of the population of New York, their want of sympathy with their neighbours, the ready means of approach by the Lake route, and the exposure of the colony to Iroquois attack, enabled the French for half a century to nurse the hope that it might one day be theirs.
The Carignan regiment which had been sent to queU the Iroquois was disbanded in Canada; and every effort was made to form military^ cantonments of officers and men who would settle and protect the Richelieu River. The officers were to receive seigneurks, and the men cash and a year’s subsistence, if they would take up the lands there. During the ten years 1664-74 the population of Canada trebled under the careful guidance of Talon and Colbert. Emigration, settlement, early marriage, and large families, were encouraged by every deviee and decree that could suggest itself within the limits set by considerations of religion and nationality. The neighbourhood of the heretical Dutch and
- 1683 ]
English population was deemed to make it doubly necessary to exclude the schismatics, lest heretics should become traitors. Free maintenance, ^ bonuses on marriage, on large families, fines on celibacy, the despatch of shiploads of young women, and the forcible prevention of return home were among the means tried to stimulate artificially the increase of population. Louis XIV watched the Canada censuses so closely that he was continually disappointed at what seemed to him slow progress; and, in the end, the artificial encouragements were withdrawn.
During these ten years the form of government, the main lines of which ultimately became fixed in Canada, was gradually shaped. From the first the governor’s power had been checked by the Superior of the Jesuits, or by the bishop who acted in their interests. In 1665 the King added further an intendant, as successor to the Company’s agent-general, with full powers in justice, police and finance. A clear differentiation of functions was purposely avoided; the governor, with mainly military functions, was ordered to act harmoniously with the intendant; and, if conflict arose, Colbert at home decided which official should return. The bishop, as the one permanent member of Council, coidd check both, and made his power felt through his disciplined army of seminary priests, trained to the control of consciences, and to the use of the weapons of the confessional and of excommunication. Nor was it the intention of Louis XIV to distimb this power so long as it was not used in a manner derogatory to his o^vn sovereignty. The Council, chosen by the Company while it lasted, and on its lapse by the King or the governor, was to be summoned by the joint action of governor and intendant. It sat weekly as a judicial body at the intendance; and from its judgments there was an appeal to the Comeil irfyat at Paris.
At first it seemed likely that municipal institutions would develop. In 1663 a meeting of the habitants of Quebec and its hanlieti was convoked to proceed by election to the choice of a mayor and two bailiffs. The election threatened to become a reality; whereupon the system was cancelled, and the municipal idea was rooted out from Canada. De Tracy urged Talon to avoid any “ balance of authority among subjects,” which might lead to a dismemberment of the commimity. In 1672 the Comte de Frontenac had assembled the habitants to take the oath of fealty and had divided them into three estates, as de Tracy himself had done in the West Indies. Thereupon Colbert wrote the celebrated letters ordering Frontenac to follow the example of the home government, where the Kings, he says, have for some time ceased to assemble the States-General, in order insensibly to put a stop to that ancient form. The syndic who presents requests in the name of all the habitants must cease to be appointed when the colony grows stronger, since it is well that each should speak for himself and that no one should speak for all.
The Council, which consisted of onlv seven members till in 1703
C. .11. H. VII. Cll. lU.
the number was raised to twelve, had no power to levy taxation; and none was levied. The law of the land was now made uniform imder the Custom of Paris, and the Custom of the French Vexin which » had been partially introduced was abolished. Thus a form of Roman Law wed. adapted to a municipal community was extended to a nascent colony that was essentially rural. The forms of law had however the merit of uniformity, simplicity, and cheapness; and care was taken in the organisation of a system of police for the three Canadian towns. The decrees issued by the Council cover matters large and small, from tithe, the size of the seigneuries, feudal dues, provision for the poor, down to rules of precedence, nuisances and the cleaning of the streets. The ordonnances of the intcndant direct the enclosing: of haiitaikms, and make building i-egulations and market-laws; while, as representative of the King in finance, he also regulates the coinage. The tendency was for legislation to pass more and more under his control and out of that of the governor.
The system on which lands were laid out by the French in Canada is of peculiar interest as throwing light on the method of procedure in earlier agricultural colonies. The great seigneuries of ten by twelve leagues were enfeolFed to the rotiiriers in strips measuring, as a rule, three arpents (each of 100 perches in width by 30 in depth), each strip running from a river frontage. The dwelling- houses were placed at the river end of the strips; and thus a row of farmsteads was formed, which even in the most scantily peopled regions allowed some indulgence to French social inclinations. Parb strip was cultivated by a tenant and his family; on his death, by the Custom of Paris, equal division (subject to certain exceptions) weis the mode of succession. The strips were divided longitudinally, with results not a little injurious to agriculture. In 1745 it was ordered that every habitant must have 1-|^ arpents of frontage. A strip even of this width was not convenient in form, since it made central supervision impossible and access to the remote portions of the holding difficult, while requiring a large amount of enclosizre. Throughout the French occupation the methods of agriculture were most primitive. The cleared land was tilled until exhausted, when fresh land was cleared, the tilled land being left to lie fallow under weeds on which the tenant’s few beasts pastured.
The method of land-tenure was ill adapted to the circumstances of Canada, where the initial difficulties of clearing forest land were immense. It excluded the possibility of a metairie system, which so greatly assists the young agricultural colony where capital is plentiful and labourers are not highly skilled; and it excluded the freehold system which gives scope for the independent efforts of the individual. The “ franc alien roturkr^ which most nearly approached the English “ free socao-e ” was very sparingly admitted in Canada, more freely in the West Indits.
- 1683 ]
A heav}' tax on the alienation of lands, in the case of the seigneur the payment of a fifth of the value of the estate, in the case of the tenant the payment of lods et ventes, though both were customarily lower in Canada than in France, was injurious to the development of uncultivated lands, and, as Adam Smith pointed out, robbed the colony of its prime source of prosperity, an abundance of cheap land. The liability of the tenants to promiscuous forced labour in the lord’s service (after 1711 harvest time was excepted, and after 1716 the service was made commutable for 20 sous yearly per arpent), the inability of the censitaire to subinfeudate, the initial absence of obligation on the lord to infeudate, too late corrected, the rule which allowed only two- thirds of the fee to be infeudated, were injurious featm’es.
But Canada was not troubled with absentee landlords; the relations of the seigneurs and the roturiers were singularly close and friendlj'; and the passionate military, national and religious spirit that animated all alike, dignified the bond. The lord had, according to his grant, “Afflide,” moyenne^ or “ ” justice over his tenants, until in 1714 it
was ordered that no such grants of jurisdiction should be made. The large number of cases that came before the Council would seem to indicate that the liberty to erect gallows and pillory and to enforce jurisdiction over tenants was not generally exercised by the lords. It was to the advantage of the tenants in the early period that it was made incumbent on the lords to erect mills and to lay out roads, though the tenant’s com paid its multure of one-fourteenth of the grain ground, and the tenants had to make the roads themselves. The lord’s supposed obligation of defence fell also of course on the tenants. Every man capable of bearing arms between the ages of 14 and 70 was bound to military servnee and drilled with a regularity unknown to the English colonial militia. The Canadian tenant was constantly engaged in active warfare, choosing the winter for his campaigns if possible, as summer warfare meant certain famine.
The seigneury in many' cases formed a parish, and lord and priest worked as a rule harmoniously, except, it might be, on the question of precedence, which set the highest officials of Church and State constantly at issue. Many were the decrees of the Council upon this subject, and also regarding the amoxmt of Church-tithe. Originally fixed at the ruinous proportion of one-thirteenth of all increase, it was lowered to one twenty-sixth of thrashed grain, with an exemption for five years on newly cleared ground. In 1667 Talon wrote that the clerical estate consisted of a bishop, nine priests, and many clerks gathered in the seminary at Quebec or sent out to missions in the coimtiy. There were thirty-five Jesuit Fathers whose work, he reports, is pious if not of commercial value: this last it might acquire in time. He foresaw the danger that the -Jesuits might seek an excessive share of temporal power, aud favoured the despatch of Sulpitian priests to counterbalance them.
The Canadian Church.
[ 1664 -
The first Canadian bishop, Laval, desired to equip a disciplined body of clergy wholly subordinate to his authority. To maintain ^ control he proposed that the appointment of cures should be in his own hands, and that tithe should be paid to and administered by him. The question of the removability of cures was decided against him in 1679, and a fixed salary from the tithe of each district was allotted to them.
But the burning question between Church and State was that of the wisdom of allowing the sale of spirits to Indians. The State officials, bent on commercial success, argued in favour of free sale that the Indians’ desire for spirits must be satisfied by the French, or they would cease to come imder French influence, and would pass rmder the influence of those who were less scrupulous. The Jesuits dwelt on the hideous results of the trade in degrading and destroying the native tribes. Bishop Laval, finding the officials against him, decided to use his spiritual authority and made the sale of drink to natives a religious offence to be punished by excommunication. Although in the absence of the support of the Crown the Bishop had to change his policy, his point was so far gained that the liquor trade with the Indians was made illicit, but the issue of numerous licences to traders greatly reduced the value of the prohibition.
Colbert’s hope that a great Indian population would be converted and gradually gallicised met with no support from the Jesuits. He had looked for much intermarriage and believed that common schools for French and Indian children would be foimd successful. The Jesuits favoured for the Indians a system of perpetual tutelage, arguing that the Indian mind was incapable of development. They arranged permanent missions for “domiciled” Indians, but were powerless to secure that total exclusion of all outside influences which characterised the South American missions. In Colhert’s correspondence with the intendant some watchfulness over the Jesuit power is recommended; hut “ to soften Jesuit severity the means must be gentle, imperceptible.” His hope was that, as the population grew, the royal power would insensibly supersede the Jesuit.
But his desire to draw the colony into a closely united whole, occupying the valley of the St Lawrence, clearing grounds only in immediate proximity to the settled parts, met with no svrapathv from the Jesuit missionaries, or from the adventurous explorers who sought to enrich the colony by discovering a convenient way to the South Seas, or at the least, an outlet westwards to the sea-coast. The period of most carefully encouraged settlement was also the period of the scientific pursuit of exploration, mainly hy the Jesuits. By 1669 they had pushed their mission stations westward as far as Sault St Marie, the first station on the southern hank of the lakes or the river. This, with Michillimackinac, and the Mission St Ignace,
- 1683 ]
commanded the junction of the three Lakes, Superior, Michigan, and Huron. Discovery was then pushed down the Illinois to the ^ Mississippi; and the knowledge of a great waterway to the Gulf of Mexico determined the lines of future Canadian policy. To command the western trade, and the eastern head of Lake Ontario, Frontenac built in 1673 Fort Cataraqui, afterwards Fort Frontenac (now Kingston).
From 1664 to 1683 the colony was nursed with the utmost care by Colbert. He directed the governor and the intendant alike to encourage the export of charcoal, tar, potash, to sow hemp and flax, to foster a trade with the French West Indies, and to encourage Canadian shipping, sedentary fisheries, mining, the breeding of cattle and the clearing of forest land. His instinctive bent was industrial rather than agricultural; but he saw that Canada needed development in every direction. In 1679 the total number of arpents cleared was put at 21,900, the population at 9400. Of horses there were only 145, most of these having been sent by Colbert himself. The homed cattle niunbered 6983, sheep only 719, goats 33, asses 12. The need for live-stock was so great that Colbert forbade the slaughtering of any domestic animals capable of breeding. The colony stLU possessed but one trade, that in fiirs. In 1667 Talon estimated the value of the exported furs at 550,000 livres. The colony continued in constant need of support from the Crown, and sums varying from 20,000 to 200,000 livres were sent annually to the intendant, according as the demands for European expenses were large or small.
In the West Indies Colbert ruled the Company of the West during the ten years of its existence with an equally firm hand, seeking from the first to secure a wide liberty of commerce for French subjecte within its dominions. It was seen that the profits of the West Indies went for the most part to the filibuster and buccaneers. As member of the strange commonwealth which was established by these outlaws, the French showed themselves peculiarly skilful in the art of self-government and in the framing of codes. The buccaneer took up constitution- making — on a small scale, it is trae, and merely in order that each pirate-group might secure a share in the booty for which life had been risked; but their work was not without influence on the more peacefully minded settlers. The cry for open trade, open to all Frenchmen, if not to all nations, was raised with peristency by each succeeding governor; and there are many indications that the French West Indians asked and took a freer lead in the defence of their own interests tlian the Canadian farmers. It is seen in the greater importance of the Council in Msirtinique, which in 1668 was made the seat of civil and military government, Guadaloupe becoming dependent on Martinique. The Coimcil being framed on the pattern of the Parlement, it was intended that it should consist of professed lawyers; but, as these were not
86 The Company of the West in the W est Indies. [1664-74
forthcoming, the chief officers of the militia were chosen instead. At first much freedom was allowed in deciding the number of councillors called in to decide contentious matters; and not till 1674 was it reduced to ten. The separation of St Domingo from the central scheme of government shows the respectful treatment which it was thought advisable to adopt where the buccaneers were strong; and the whole tone of Colbert’s letters and instructions to West Indian governors points to his having given careful consideration to the complaints of West Indian colonists. To satisfy them he compelled the Company to sell its merchandise to the habitants within a month of its arrival, and ordered that French vessels not belonging to the Company should be licensed to trade. Besides the danger of contraband trade, the fear of sedition was ever present. The negro slaves, the native Caribs, the Mulattos, and the tameless buccaneers were elements of danger that required careful handling. The skin of such governors as d’Esnambuc and d’Ogeron, the founder of the French settlement in St Domingo, men who thoroughly understood the peculiar circumstances of the case, appealed strongly to Colbert, who with all his love of centralisation saw the need of independence of judg- ment and liberty of action for high officials on the spot. There was to be unity of government, but not necessarily uniformity. Thus he saw in the freebooters a source of strength for the tropical colony, while the Canadian trapper he would fain have suppressed. The tropical climate forbade the hope of the settlement of any very large white population in the islands; accordingly Jews and Protestants were allowed to enter here though they were excluded from Canada. In his correspondence with the governors he constantly urged a mild treatment of offenders; no one must ever be sent back to France for any crime except sedition. In the endeavour to people the islands with men and women, to stock them with domestic animals, and to develop a shipping interest, Colbert .showed the same zeal as in Canada.
The fear lest the governors should defraud the Company required that a host of intendants, commissioners, receivers, etc. should be paid to watch their proceedings; and the large staff maintained by the Company robbed it of most of its profits. By 1674 its failm'e became obvious, for its debts were over three and a half million livres. Iffiere- upon, besides paying an indemnity to the shareholders, the Crown took over their debts, and thus bought back the possessions of the great Company. From 1674 the colonial trade was thrown open to French subjects. In the same year the Dutch West India Company opened its trade to Dutch subjects. The danger of a general collapse of French colonial enterprise had been successfully tided over by the Company, and so far it had served its purpose. But the general opinion was that it had been ruining the islands, and great hopes for the future were now raised. The number of inhabitants was given as 45,000; the trade occupied 100 French ships of ifom 50 to 300 tons. The zeal of the
Crown in developing the islands was not without a direct reward in the form of taxation, parallel to the four and a half per cent, duty paid by Barbados. The French taxation took its rise in the sum paid to the Company by French merchants who bought the licence to trade, which amounted to six livres a ton on imports and five per cent, on exports. In 1669 the King obtained the monopoly of these licences; and under the name Domaine d'Ocddent the duty was levied, after 1671, at the rate of three per cent. There was further a poll-tax of one cwt. of sugar on every freeman and every slave, together with a tobacco duty of 20 sous a pound, a small duty on cotton, and, for a time, duties on indigo and cocoa that discouraged the planters. The regulation, decreed for the better control of the trade, that ships must return to the port from which they started, and the partial confinement of trade to the port.s of Marseilles and Rouen, exercised a damaging effect. The regulation of the sugar trade had certain distinctive merits, inasmuch as the refining of sugar on the spot was early promoted, instead of being discouraged in the interest of the refiners at home, as in all the other colonies.
The fourth period of French colonial history extends from 1683 to 1713 — from the death of Colbert to the Treaty of Utrecht. In 1682 La Salle had sailed down the Mississippi. The support which he received in his attempt to found a colony at its mouth showed that Colbert’s son, de Seignelay, was prepared to follow up his father’s work> had not a period of reaction, which favoured continental rather than colonial expansion, set in to divert the current of Louis XIV’s ideas. La Salle’s scheme, as set forth by himself, was to obtain for France a second continental establishment which should make her “ mistress of the whole continent,” besides serving to harass Spain, and making possible an attack on the Mexican mines. “ AVe should obtain there everj’thing that has enriched New England and A'^irginia, timber, salted meat, tallow, com, sugar, tobacco, honey, wax, resin, gums, pasturage, hemp,” and such things as yearly freight two hundred vessels in New England. He observes that, if foreigners should anticipate the French in settling the Mississippi valley. New France would be completely hemmed in. He anticipates that the esise of living would here keep the settlers together, imlike the habitants of New France, who are oblisred to seek their subsistence over a wide area. His talent for dealing with the natives had afready established friendly relations wfith a vast range of tribes, and he urges that possession be taken in right of discovery and of the consent of the greater number of inhabitants. His well-considered memoir deteraiined the government to give him the support he asked; and four ships were despatched with 280 colonists, male and female, and abundant stores — ^the first example of a French colony the w hole expense of which w'as provided by the Crown. Unluckily La Salle’s skill in the manage- ment of natives would seem to have been in part due to the very
88 'Proprietary colony of Louisiana. [1T12
qualities which made him an unsympathetic leader of French colonists, and unluckily, too, the prospect of successful raids on the Mexican mines served to divert his attention from the proper settlement of the colony. / In 1687 La Salle was murdered by his own people, and the well-provided little colony was wholly lost. It served only to excite the watchfulness and cupidity of the more far-seeing of the English colonists. The proprietor of Carolina began to press his claims to the wider “ Cai-olana,” dating his claim from Charles I’s patent of 1630; and in 1687 Dongan, the governor of New York, is found asking for a sloop to “discover La SaUe’s river,” where, he notes, French possession will be an evil thing for both English and Spanish.
In 1698 the Louisiana scheme was again taken up by the French government under the influence of the Canadian brothers d’Iberville and Bienville, the sons of a Norman emigrant, who had led French arms and enterprise wherever an opening offered. In 1700 a fort was planted fifty miles up the river, and another at Biloxi midway between the mouth and the nearest Spanish settlement eastward, Pensacola. The bulk of the population of some 200 settlers consisted of Canadian courmrs; and when some Huguenots made application to join the colony, Louis XIV’s reply was that he had not chased the heretics from his kingdom in order to found a republic for them in America.
In 1708 the population was still not more than 280, with some 60 Canadian coureurs; but its immediate strategic and possible commercial value was so far realised that Louis provided the forts with small gai-ri- sons. The climate and the unfortunate choice of sites for the forts, which were driven to become more or less peripatetic, were a constant source of discouragement, and agriculture was neglected in the belief that the most probable source of wealth lay in mineral treasures. In the meanwhile the colonists were dependent on the Indians for food.
Four years later Louisiana was converted into a proprietary colony, a form that had so far been left untried by France. Perhaps the success of some of the English proprietary colonies may have inclined the govern- ment to the experiment. Crozat, a member of the flourishing Company of St Domingo, obtained the exclusive commerce of the nascent colony for fifteen years, his rights extending from the sea-coast to the river Illinois. Beaver was excluded from his monopoly, in order that the Canadian trade might not be injured. The Custom of Paris was introduced, and the administration put in the hands of a council after the pattern of that in St Domingo. After nine years Crozat was to assume Ml the expenses of government, including military charges, but till then the king subscribed 50,000 livres towards the cost. Crozat a^eed to send two ships annually, and hoped to refund himself out of mines, gold, silver and pearls, silk and indigo. The ideas which La Salle had put forward some thirty years before had as yet struck no root, and the Governor La Mothe Ca-l iliac wholly despaired of the future of the colony. But the work of
i 69 o] T'rnutenac onri (T Jherville. 89
Frontenac in Canada had already made it clear that the maintenance of a steady hold on the Mississippi would ultimately become part of ^ a wide scheme of political expansion, through the settlement of French colonists, or at all events through French influence upon the natives.
The first period of Frontenac’s government, 1672-82, had given him no opportunity of showing his real strength; for the vexatious struggle carried on between him and the intendant, whose rivalry he could not brook, had ended in the governor’s recall. But when danger of the most serious kind threatened the colony,Frontenac’s masterfulness and his extraordinary influence with the Indians pointed him out as the one man capable of facing the situation. The new danger arose once more from the power of the Iroquois. After the check inflicted by the Marquis de Tracy, Canada had ceased for a while to fear them. But under Frontenac’s two successors in office, who failed to appreciate the necessity of caution, the rising began again. Fort Frontenac and Fort Niagara, the two main bulwarks of the colony against the Iroquois, were lost, and the total abandonment of the colony seemed imminent. But on Frontenac’s restoration there was an immediate change. The keynote to his policy was struck when he insisted on taking back with him all the Iroquois prisoners who, by Louis’ order, had been sent to labour on the galleys. In ten years’ time, with little or no military help from France, he had secured not only a long peace from Indian isturbance, but had got the best of the struggle with the English for fisheries in Acadia and New- foundland, and for peltries in Hudson’s Bay; had raided, and kept in a constant state of alarm, the great colonies of New England and New York; had met and triumphed over an English invasion. Acadia, which had been restored to France by the Treaty of Breda (1667), was in 1682 almost devoid of organised goveminent and passing gradually under English control. Suppoided by d’Iberville, and by the half-Indianised Baron de St Castein, formerly an officer in the regiment sent out against the Iroquois, Frontenac recovered Port Royal, which had been taken by Phipps; and made it possible for France in the discussions after the Treaty of Ryswick to claim the Kennebec river as a frontier-line for the Acadians, who numbered less than a thousand souls.
D’Iberville’s work in Newfoundland was yet bolder, ending in the destruction of almost all the English settlements, and putting an end to the numerous English raids upon the French settlement at Placentia. His expedition, which excited great alarm in New England and even in Virginia, was however not followed up by active settlement or by the establishment of forts. It was d’Iberville again who, by the injuries which he inflicted on the forts of the English Company, seemred for the French a possession of Hudson’s Bay which remained almost unbroken until by the Treaty of Utrecht the Bay was ceded to England. Still more impressive was Frontenac’s general scheme of attack on the English colonies. The Iroquois had been convei-ted by him from most dangerous
The Canadian potcer.
[ 1683 -
enemies into cordial allies, whose friendship opened the way across the frontiers of New York. The English Revolution gave the opportunity for attack; and Canada with a population of some 12,000 prepared to pit herself not only against New York, with a mixed population of some 18,000, but also against New England with a fairly united population seven or eight times as large as her own. That New York would fall was thought to be sufficiently within the range of possibilities to make it worth while to sketch a whole scheme of government for the conquered province, in which Protestants were not to be allowed to live. The raid was so far successful that Schenectady was destroyed fFebruary, 1690), a feat which served to glorify the French in the eyes of the Indians.
Although schemes so bold as to include the thought of bombarding both Boston and New York served, as they were intended, to divert attention from the inherent weaknesses of the Canadian colony, the risk was very serious of exciting a community of feeling in the English colonies. The historian Charlevoix observes that it was not so well known in France as it was in Canada how important it was to destroy the English power in America; perhaps the difficulty of doing so was better understood in France than in Canada. But just as Frontenac was not supported by the French fleet, so Phipps’ counter-attack on Quebec (October, 1690) was unsupported by England, absorbed in her own troubles. Yet ill-organised as it was, it came far nearer to completion than Frontenac’s attack on New York. Had the latter been renewed in the next year it might have been wholly successful; but the Peace of Ryswick put an end for a while to the contemplated hostilities. The death of the aged Frontenac followed in 1698; but his successors, satisfied with their peaceful relations with the Indians, adopted an equally bold tone in their correspondence with the home government when the European war reopened. D’Iberville alone wrote of the grave dangers involved in an attack on Boston. In 1709 de Vaudreuil with 1500 picked men resumed the offensive; and the total collapse of the English naval expedition up the St Lawrence left the Canadians fairly satisfied that, small as their population was, their position was impregnable. In 1713 they numbered some 20,000, as opposed to the 158,000 settlers in New l^gland, and the 218,750 in the other British colonies on the coast of America.
While the military effectiveness of Canada was well maintained, its commercial and agricultural development lagged far behind what might reasonably be expected of the small population. During the military disturbances of Frontenac’s time land had gone out of cultivation, and the heavy government taxation of 25 per cent, on the country’s one profitable trade, the fur-trade, had by 1712 driven it very largely into the hands of the English. In 1674, on the transfer of the colonv from the Company of the West to the Crown, the Company’s fur-trade
The West Indies.
monopoly was made part of the Domaine ^Occident in the form of y a tax of a quarter of the beaver-skins and a tenth of the moose. The Crown took also 10 per cent, on wine and brandy, and five sous on the poimd of tobacco entering the colony; all else was free. The farm of the Crown’s rights was let out for a composition to any adjudicataire who would take it. The colony ascribed its ruin to the farmers’ system, and agreed to take over the farm for 70,000 livres a year. In a short time however the colony ran up a heavy debt, and the farm passed under the control of a company (1706-17). The 25 per cent, on beaver was a mistake of the most serious kind; for it robbed the colony of the very trade which it was most important to foster. The English, who had sho^vn no aptitude for the trade, were encouraged to take it up; for the Indians, finding a better exchange there than in Canada, carried their furs to the English colonies. Ships that came to Canada laden with French goods sought a return ceirgo by going to the West Indies, taking in perhaps some coal at Cape Breton to be used in the sugar refineries of the islands. Nothing had been made even of the pitch and tar industry. The colonists engaged in a few of the roughest clothing industries, but on a scale so small as to escape the jealousy of the manufacturers of the mother-country. The Canadian Council vainly sought to secure the clearing of lands by ordering that those not actually occupied should be surrendered; and, to eliminate the difficulty of providing for live- stock during the long winter, the habitants were forbidden to have more than two horses and a mare. In 1711 the breeding of cattle and sheep was stiU a matter of such anxiety that live-stock was specially exempted from distraint. No fresh emigration of consequence augmented the population; but the natural increase was good.
A more rapid increase in white and black population went forward during this period in the West Indi^; but the French islands still offered no promise of that startling development of prosperity which was to distinguish the next period. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes threatened for a time to have serious consequences in causing a general exodus of the heretical colonists, imtil the King directed that care should be taken to retain them. Signs of development are visible in the new regulations touching the amount of the Domaine ^Occident, which were directed to the relief of the colonists. In 1698 the French part of St Domingo, which had always been exempt from the Domaine, and, since d’Ogeron had elected to bring it under the control of the Crown, subject to certain other charges, was for the first time put into the hands of a company for fifty years. The Company of St Domingo was modelled on the old pattern, without material reform. In return for sending 1500 white settlers and 2500 black at once, with fm-ther yearly reinforcements of 100 whites and 200 blacks, the Company received the monopoly of trade. AU the French islands suffered severely duilng the War of the Spanish Succession, but a season of peace was all that was needed to
‘J 2 Law and the Companif of the Indies. [1713-
allow their trade in sugar', tobacco, coffee, cocoa, and red dyes to reach great proportions.
Within four years of the TVeaty of Utrecht, the whole of France had become convinced of the greatness of its immediate colonial future, emd looked to the financier Law to play the part of Colbert on a still grander scale. The belief that the colonies required only capital to secure their progress made the principle of the grand Imperial C^-tered Company appear as attractive as ever, in spite of the lessons of the past. The moment for a change of some sort was opportune, as Crozat’s failure in Louisiana (1717) reopened the question of the best way of dealing with the Mississippi valley. The monopoly of the fur-trade in Canada and Acadia was also seeking a farmer. It was proposed to hand these over to a new Company of the West with what then seemed the vast capital of 100 million livres. The purchase of shares by Law’s Bank caused the requisite “boom,” and the interest of speculators was directed to the discovery of colonial wealth in eveiy imaginable form. All the existing companies, beheving success assured if they joined Law’s scheme, elected to cooperate; and the Company of the West, reinforced with the privileges of the French East India Company, became the Company of the Indies. For a time the new Company made sincere attempts at the development of Louisiana, which, as the least known colony, offered the wildest hopes to the fevered imagination of the speculator. Colonists, for the most part of the worst type, were poured into it; the foundations of New Orleans were laid; and vast grants of territory were allotted to a few individuals. But the usual troubles arose; the Company sought to make so high a profit on the merchandise which it imported, and fixed so low a tariff of prices for exports, that the sufierings of the colonists became at last matter of general knowledge, in spite of all attempts, by means of postal censorship, or by refusing colonists leave to return home, to keep the secret of the colony’s situation. With the collapse of Law, Louisiana fell once more into the background; the very extravagance of the hopes that had been raised now made the difficulties in the way of successful colonisation seem all the more insuperable. The colony, which in 1721 numbered 5420, of whom only 600 were negroes, abruptly lost the greater part of its white population, while the slaves alone increased. The Natchez Indians began to show hostility so soon as the white population thinned, and the colonists were careless in their treatment of them; the missionaries, who had been instrumental in maintaining native alliances in Canada, were absent; and the numerical strength of the negro slaves offered opportunity for conspiracies between them and the natives. In 1731 the colony obtained a hard-won triumph over the Natchez, a number of whom were sent as slaves to St Domingo; but the victory cost the colony dear in more ways than one. In 1732 the Company yielded its chartered rights over Louisiana to the King for 1,450,000 livres,— move than they were
- 1763 ]
Fifth period of colonisation.
worth, in spite of the large sums that had been sunk in the colony.
_ Under the Cro^vn the colony was freed of all export and import duties, ^ and under these conditions it made progress. It was characteristic of the French scheme that when Louisiana again came under the Crown it remained theoretically part of New France, the Covmcil consisting of the Governor-General of New France, the Governor and Commissary (analo- gous to the intendanf) of Louisiana, with the Mayor of New Orleans, the Attorney-general, and six Councdlors.
The best hope for the colony, as Charlevoix, de la Gallissoniere and de Bougainville saw, was to develop the corn-growing lands of Detroit and Illinois, where La Mothe Cadillac had formed a hopeful settlement in 1702. The chief interest of the Louisiana scheme lay in the immense possibilities that opened before it if the whole Mississippi valley could be brought into a real connection with the Canadian Lakes. The vast and premature schemes of the Company fm-nished at least this one fertile idea. Raynal describes the bounds of Louisiana as, on the south, the sea, on the east, Florida and Carolina, on the west, New Mexico, on the north, Canada and unknown lands. The mean breadth he put at 200 leagues, the length he found it impossible to determine. But even in his time (1770) the ascent of the Mississippi occupied three and a half months; and the voyageurs were dependent on the Indian hunters for food. At the height of their development under the French, Upper and Lower Louisiana together numbered only 7000 inhabitants, not counting troops; and this population covered a range of 5000 leagues. Raynal mentions the exports sent to the West Indian islands, chiefly tallow, smoked meat, timber and tar, and to France, indigo, hides and peltry, valued at about two million livres. The public expenses were always abnormally great, the currency difficulty exceptionally oppressive; and the greedy officials who ruled the forts, with special privileges of trade with the Indians, enjoyed a monopoly more dangerous than that in Canada. The loss of Canada and the abandonment to Great Britain of claims east of the Mississippi determined the fate of Louisiana. The small value placed by the French government on the remnant who crossed to the other bank of the river was proved by the treaty in 1762, which ceded the western half of the colony to Spain. In 1800 the Secret Treaty of San Ddefonso restored Louisiana to France, much to the annoyance of the United States; but, in 1803, the imminence of war between France and Great Britain induced Napoleon to sell it to the American govern- ment for fifteen million dollars.
In Canada the rise and fall of Law’s Company were scarcely felt. Unfortunately no hopes for any rapid development of that colony were raised in France, and the governors pressed in vain for the despatch of emigrants. The statements of the amount of Canadian trade vary greatly, but all agree that the expenses of government no longer ate up the whole of the profits. A small balance of about 250,000 livres found its
. 11 . III.
[ 1713 -
wav to the French treasim'. In peaceful and plentiful years the colony was able to export 80,000 minots of flour and biscuit. The settlements . improved as the traveller went westward; below Quebec there was little cultivation. The steady movement westward to a warmer climate and more fertile comlands was not supplied by French emigrants, as de la Gallissoniere hoped it might he, but by the Canadians themselves. The number of hunters in the upper country, who could not be relied upon as part of the militia, had steadily increased to some 8000, and almost even' colonist was more or less engaged in trading with the Indians. During the years of peace that followed the Treaty of Utrecht, a road was opened from Quebec to Montreal, and the fortifications of both towns were increased. For this purpose the first direct tax was levied by the authority of the Crown on the inhabitants of the two towns. Quebec numbered about 8000, and though the shores of the river were closely settled by farmers as far as Montreal, the town population of Quebec and Montreal tended to increase more quickly than that of the coimtry.
The communication with France was annual only, and not half-yearly as Colbert had hoped to make it. Every October, when the French fleet sailed for home, the paper and card money of the colony was converted into bills of exchange payable in France. The power of creating paper money, which was put in the hands of the intendant, opened the way for the gravest malversations; and after Bigot’s peculations and the stoppage of payment of Canadian bills, a loss of some four million livres in circulation fell on the habitants (1759). The years that passed between the Treaty of Utrecht and the war of 1745, in spite of much sound legislation by the Council, saw few new industries develop. At Three Rivers some iron-working was begun by a solitary blacksmith, and the timber-trade, the whale-fishery, the salt-meat and wool trade were greatly neglected.
The hope of making Canada a mccursale for ship-building which Colbert had fostered, had been kept up by a royal dockyard at Quebec, where the King kept a constructor-in-chief. A memoir of 1758 states that the yard was then run down and about to be stopped on the ground that vessels built there cost more than in France, and that Canadian wood was unsuitable. There is evidence of grave mismanagement. Even the building of boats for fishing-stations and for the river-trade was neglected, and canoes were obtained from the English at cheaper rates.
The colony still maintained its preeminence as taking the lead in discovery. The journey of Gautier de la Verendrye (1746-49), who penetrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba and the Saskatchewan, and, it is said, though on doubtful authority, to the Rocky Mountains, was an expedition after the old pattern in which Canadians had always distinguished themselves. The military development of the colony also had fallen but little behind in the long years of peace, although the disproportion in numbers between the Canadian militia and the Biitish colonial militia
Success of the sugar islands.
steadily increased. The French had two sources of hope — the disunion of the British colonies, and the chance of permanently limiting then- power of geographical expansion. But the steady pressure of British traders across the moimtains, up to the district south of Lake Erie, the creation of the Ohio Company by the Virginians, and the influence which the English were learning to obtain over the Indians, under the guidance of such men as Sir WiUiam Johnson, showed that this last hope was of the slenderest. De la GaUissoniere’s desperate eflbrt to confine the English within the AUeghanies was too late and too ill-supported to do more than betray the French designs to the English colonists.
The interest of the Crown in the protection of Canada was seen mainly in the steps taken to guard the mouth of the St Lawrence, after the cession of Acadia and Newfoundland to England by the Treaty of Utrecht had endangered it. To replace these losses, the great fort of Louisboin-g was built on Cape Breton Island at a cost of SO million livres. As the port here was never frozen, great hopes of its futm-e were entertained; and it was believed that here was a centre from which Acadia might be recovered, the French New-foundland fisheries protected. New England destroyed, and a great Canadian trade with the West Indies developed. But again the old difficulty of establishing any settled population stood in the way, and the isolated fort proved useless when the struggle came.
The British possession of Acadia on the other hand did not open up the path into Canada in the ready way that was anticipated. The sti-ong national feeling of the French settlers, and their close alliance with the Abenaki Indians, who for generations had kept the frontiers of New England in alarm, involved the Engbsh in grave difficulties. The events which led up to the expatriation of the French taught the English lessons which proved of service when the government of Canada had to be settled.
The brilliant success of the French sugar islands in the eighteenth century forms a distinct episode in the history of French colonisation. Here, with less deliberate schemes, less guidance and government support, the great trade was developed which in Canada and Louisiana was only dreamed of. TTie accidents of fortune must always exert exceptional sway when the forces of nature are all-powerful. When storm, earth- quake and disease may annihilate the prosperity of an island in a brief space, the inclination to exploit its riches with the utmost possible speed is not to be held in check. Each of these islands in turn has enjoyed a golden period of longer or shorter duration — a fact which makes it difficult to determine how far prosperity has, in any given case, been due to a good system of government. In the eighteenth century English writers praised the French system in unmeasured terms, seeing before their eyes the prosperity of “ the pearl of the Antilles,” St Domingo,
West Indian trade.
which was steadily eclipsing all the other islands, until in 1780 its trade amounted almost to that of all the rest of the West Indies put together. The change in the position of St Domingo began in 1724, when the failure of Law’s Company drove a number of proprietors to return to the plantations which they had left in hopes of a life of successful stock-jobbing in Paris. The Spanish alliance now assisted, as much as Spanish hostility had hitherto hindered, the development of trade; and a policy of reduction or abolition of commercial restriction on the colonies began to be steadily pursued. The extraordinary facilities which the brUliant fertility of the island offered, when unhampered by a company claiming monopoly, exercised their effect at once; and France for a time threatened to drive the English out of the sugar and coffee trade. The prosperity of the island continued to grow by leaps and bounds until the great rebellion of 1792. In 1788 it was reckoned to absorb two-thirds of the whole foreign commerce of France. But in population the tendency was for the proportion of whites to negroes and mulattos to grow steadily less. The wealth of St Domingo encouraged traders to reserve the finest negroes for that market; hence the strength of the black people when the revolution came.
The phrase, “ nos seigneurs de Si Domingue, nos messieurs de Mar- tinique, nos bourgeois de Guadalqupc^ expressed the relative prosperity of the islands. Martinique continued to be the centre of government for the Windward Isles, but after St Domingo had secured a distinct government on the same pattern, the governor was no longer governor of the French American Islands, but of the Windward Isles only. The power which Martinique obtained, as the mart for all the French islands except St Domingo, raised its position above Guadaloupe for a time; but the loss of trade during the Seven Years’ War, Jesuit speculations, and the development of Guadaloupe while in British hands (1759-63), ruined this supremacy. The rise of Guadaloupe under English care brought the question seriously to the front, whether it would not be more profitable to England to retain it in 1763 rather than Canada. For once, considerations touching security of dominion prevailed over the more immediate considerations of trade. At that time indeed the magnitude of the French West Indian trade was sufficiently alarming. Raynal and Justamond in 1776 put the total of French West Indian trade at about 100 million livres, as against a British total of only 66, the Dutch following next with 24, the Spanish with 10. But in a later edition (1783) Raynal and Justamond fix the trade of the French West Indies and Cayenne at 126 millions, as against a total of 93 millions from the British West Indies.
Although in wealth St Domingo surpassed other islands, its rapid commercial development had left it no time for growth in civilisation. Martinique and Guadaloupe both possessed a more firmlv rooted society, addicted to amusements though possessed of some cultivation; but
-1V63] French relations with natives. 97
the picture of society in English and French islands alike is dismal enough. “ Every man hurries to grow rich in order to escape for ever from a place where men live without distinction, without honour, and without any form of excitement other than that of commercial interest.’’ The nmnerous rehgious Orders introduced into the French islands an element that was lacking in the English. Although they engaged as actively in commercial pursuits as the most worldly adventurers, they did so with larger views. The work of a du Tertre or a Labat found no parallel in the British islands. But it was West Indian commerce that led the Jesuits to their fall, involving with it the bankruptcy of Martinique for 2,400,000 livres. The failure of Choiseul’s great scheme in Guiana, which was to have cancelled the loss of Canada — a fiasco by which 12,000 people perished and nearly thirty million livres were wasted (1763) — showed that it was still possible to make immense mistakes. But the able administration of Malouet (about 1767-79) came opportunely to wipe out the new disgrace.
It has been necessary to devote space to some brief review of the historical epochs into which the western colonisation of France dmdes itself, in order to show that considerations of time and place must not be neglected, when generalisations on the character of French colonisation as a whole come imder discussion. What is true of Canada may not be true of St Domingo; what is true of the missionary epoch may not be true of the mercantile. Yet certain broad featm’es distinguish French colonisation, which are notably absent from the schemes of the English on the one hand and of the Spanish on the other. In nothing is this more apparent than in the relations of the French to the native tribes occupying the North American continent. It is generally agreed that in relation to the natives the French showed themselves at their best. The Baconian view, that there is a supreme and indissoluble consanguinity and society between men, was to the French American a natural law, so far as it described his feeling towards the Red Indians with whom he was constantly associated. It does not seem too much to say that where the average British colonist felt an instinctive abhorrence, the average French colonist felt an instinctive sympathy. The suggestion was made by the Swiss Bouquet and accepted by Sir Jeffery Amherst, that the Indians should be inoculated with smallpox by means of the blankets which they bought from the English, to hasten the extermi- nation of that detestable race. We may well believe that such a suggestion would have shocked Frenchmen then as much as it shocks Englishmen now. The idea of anglicising the Indians was not entertained by the English; the French inclination was either to gallicise their neighbours, or be themselves indianised. Of no British governor could the story have been told that was related of Frontenac, how he went to meet the Indians, painted and attii-ed as an Indian. The English
C. M. H. VII. CH. III.
Contrast of British relations xvith natives. [i608-
half-breeds appear to have been few as compared with the French, and those few were chiefly confined to the frontiei-s where children were kidnapped and indianised in their early years. WTiereas the French ^ priests encouraged intermarriage, the British colonists discom^ed it. At an early date the coureurs, among whom most of the Indian alliances took place, found no parallel in the British settlements; and though subsequently the “frontiersmen” approached their type, they never rivall^ the coureurs in numbers or importance. In records of French travel it is common to find mention of the unexpected discoveiy of Frenchmen, living among the Indians, having abandoned civilisation and become wholly Indian. Again, in readiness to cope with the difficulties of native dialects, the French, trained in the linguistic system of the Jesuits, far surpassed the English; and in appreciation for the Indian forms of self-expression, which required imagination and love of h}rperbole, they showed a readiness which the English learned only by slow degrees. The instinctive courtesy of the French was deeply appreciated by the Indians, who dearly liked to have full respect paid to their dignity; and it is noticeable that the scientific interest in native history and civilisation, attested by the number of books \vritten by Frenchmen, Jesuits and others, was late to enter the British mind.
TTie very smallness of the French population, and the value placed upon the fur trade rather than on agriculture, helped to give the French an additional advantage. The English exterminated the Indians by sheer force of settlement, and by clearing their hunting-grounds deprived them of their livelihood. In 1754 the truth of the argument which Duquesne urged upon the Iroquois— “ the French make forts and let you hunt under the walls, but the English drive all game away, for the forest falls as they advance” — was fully appreciated by the Indians. The French divided the country into “hunts” after the Indian pattern, and found it to their interest to pay some heed to the Indian hunting-rules which forbade the extermination of game at breeding-seasons. The English occupied and made ownership a reality. The. Indians told Sir William Johnson that “ they soon could not hunt a bear into the bole of a tree, but some Englishman would claim a right to it as being his tree.” TTie French forts on the other hand, planted in the thick of the forest, depended for their verj' subsistence on the Indian friendship. Many of the garrisons, unrelieved for six years, found their isolation alleviated only by friendly relations with the natives. While the French secured a real ascendency in the Indian councils, by sharing their life and understanding their habits, the English hastened to assert an outward supremacy hateful to the independent ideas of native chiefs. PownaU comments on the skilful way in which the French chose out Indian sachems and gave them medals and emblems of authority which secured their support and the support of their sub- ordinates. The unity of the French scheme gave France a special strength
-1763] Contrast of Spanish relations 'with natives.
in dealing with the natives; no two British colonies could agree upon the same course, and in the eighteenth century, the necessity of a single council capable of undertaking all Indian negotiations was seen to be pressing. On the other hand the French failed to make the Indian and French military forces one. La Mothe Cadillac schemed to enlist the Indians in regiments and to give them posts as officers equal with the French; but it was argued against him that it was dangerous to introduce dis- cipline, when the want of it was the chief source of Indian weakness. La, Mothe Cadillac’s own sincerity seems to have been doubted; if his plan had been developed by a great militai-y organiser, French colonial histor}^ might have pursued a very different com-se.
On the other hand, the difference between the circumstances of the French and those of the Spaniards in the New World led to a marked diversity in their relations with the Indians. The northern Indians were not conquered until they were almost exterminated; and neither France nor Great Britain ever had under their rule a vast subject Indian population, yielding tribute and forced labour. The relations of the Spaniards with the Indians were just as intimate as those of the French, but, being based on governmental supremacy, were of a very different character. The Spanish government, after the barbarities of the first colonists had shown the necessity for interference, stepped in to protect the Indians by a whole code of regulations, the main object of which was to prevent the exploiting and extermination of the population on which the prosperity of Spain in the New World was seen to depend. These regulations, which exhibit the Spanish system in its best aspect, have no parallel in the early colonial schemes of any other nation. The scheme of protection, humane and tender as in many points it was, involved, on the other hand, perpetual tutelage for the protected, and was in no way educative. The small and widely scattered population of French settlers was not in a position to attempt a protective system. They were compelled by the circumstances of the case to treat the Indians as equals, and this was plainly shown in the abortive attempt of the Jesuits to protect the Indians from the dangers of the liquor trade.
The English attitude towards the Indians varied with time and place. From the time of Ralegh and Haklu)rt the practical wisdom of hrunane and sympathetic treatment had been inculcated by the enlightened; but the colonists, whose interests came much into conflict with those of the natives, early displayed a different inclination. The Virginian resolution never to end the wars ^vith the Indians, and the open rejoicing at the out- break of hostilities, “ because the way of conquering them is much more easy than the way of civilising them by fair means, besides that a conquest may be of many and at once, whereas civility is particular and slow,” expressed the feelings of the less sheltered colonists. Another school found a way to reconcile the expulsion of the natives with the principles
100 French missionary work in Canada. [i608-
of justice by obtaining Indian signatures to English charters, which ceded Indian territory with all the English conveyancing formulfe, and gave the Englishman a record which, meaningless as it was to the Indian, * adequately protected the new possessor against rival British claims. The conciliating work of the Quakers had at last considerable influence on English feeling, and in the eighteenth century it was less rare to find the Erench view prevailing among Englishmen, although up to the last it would appear that the French were more skilful than the English in obtaining Indian alliances. Both parties, it would appear, were equally unscrupulous in allowing the barbarities of Indian warfare to have free play. Neither French nor British governors scrupled to put a price on the scalps of the enemy. On the whole however the Indian warfare of the eighteenth century was less barbarous than that of the seventeenth, and Parkman ascribes the change in the main to French influence on the Indians.
The missionary work of the French is equally dissimilar from that of the English. The English have no such records as the Jesuit Relations, for they undertook their work in a wholly different fashion. The strength of the French missions lay in the enormous range that they covered, the strength of the English in the more careful working of the ground that was broken. The French missionaries were geographical explorers, the English were teachers. The English translated the Bible into a single Indian dialect, a work which could appeal only to the Indians who knew that dialect and had been taught to read English print, but the French collected the grammars and vocabularies of a number of tribes; they preached to the natives in their own tongue, whereas the English em- ployed interpreters, and insisted that the teaching of English must precede the teaching of Christianity. The Spaniards on the other hand, by their governmental supremacy, succeeded in displacing the dialects, and made one native language understood in South America. While many of the Jesuits lived wholly with the Indians, and slept and fed in their tents, even such a man as Eliot could not bring himself to accept their habits; and when he went to preach, his wife sent his food with him. The Jesuits were satisfied with what the English deemed slight tokens of success, for they counted baptism as tantamovmt to conversion; the English, and particularly the Puritan preachers, confounded the minds of their converts with an excess of doctrine, seeking vainly for Indian words to represent the ideas embodied in the words adoption, election, and justification. Both French and English followed the Spanish example in domiciling the converted families in mission villages. The Recollet Le Clercq writing in 1691 complains that, though the Indians attend the services regularly, they are without the spirit of religion. We can only, he says, withdraw a few picked families from the woods and group them in villages, and even after years of such domicile they will run back to the forest. Such
- 1763 ]
French relations with negroes.
mission-stations had to be continually repeopled with fresh converts as the confined life steadily enfeebled the race. The English constantly ' dwelt on the necessity that the Indians must be civilised “ as well as, if not in order to, their being christianised”; and the rules for civility among the English domiciled Indians were absurd enough. Women wearing their hair loose or cut hke a man’s were to be fined hs., for exposing their breasts hs., men with long locks 5j.; and howling and greasing the body were prohibited. At first, both English and French were hopeful of educating the natives. The Jesuits brought Huron boys and girls to Quebec, and the English founded Colleges for their instruction. In New England Indians were admitted to the ministry, and in 1675 one took his B.A. degree. There is evidence that the French missionaries showed marked intellectual superiority over the English missionaries of a later period; but both English and French wearied at last of their efforts — the English the more rapidly, as they were dependent on voluntary subscrip- tion. In Canada the missions were supported in part by the Crown; but here too the work slackened in the eighteenth century. The uni- formity of religious doctrine and the wealth of ceremonial naturally had a greater effect on the Indian mind than the teaching of the many jarring sects of the English colonies. The religious fei^-our of the French colonists, and the good parochial organisation in the thinly peopled districts were marked by the Indians, who constantly charged the English colonists with irreligion. In 1701 the reply of the Abenakis to the English order to dismiss the Jesuit missionaries was, “You are too late in undertaking to instruct us in prayer after all the many years we have been kno\vn to you. The Frenchman was wser than you; as soon as we knew him he taught us how to pray to God properly, and now we pray better than you.”
The same distinctions make themselves felt in the treatment of the negroes of the French and British sugar-islands, though in slighter measure, inasmuch as similar commercial considerations affected both nations. It is admitted on all hands that the Code Noir, a “monument of inhumanity” as it must now appear, was humane compared with the laws of most of the British colonies, which however varied greatly from place to place and from time to time. The Catholic holidays ^owed the slaves of the Catholic States a greater measure of repose than was allowed in any Protestant colony. It was a primary article in the Code Noir that all slaves should be baptised; the English, it was often said, feared lest baptism should be deemed tantamount to manumission. The Code required further that instruction in the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman religion should be given; and the religious Orders for the most part attempted to supply it. TTie Code inflicted heavy penalties on masters who used their slaves as concubines; marriage between free women and slave men was not forbidden, and the offspring inherited freedom. The law stipulated that proper food and clothing should be provided, with nursing in time of sickness. Torture and mutilation were prohibited.
cn . 111.
102 Education in French colonies. [leos-
and flogging with rods and cords was to be the severest form of chastise- ment. In 1686 the testimony of the slave was made good in cases where ^ white witnesses were wanting, but not against the master. In the English Barbados there was in 1688 no fine for punishing the slave in life or limb, and only a penalty of £15 for wanton, cruel killing; the absence of provision for taking slave evidence in many British colonies made the protective clauses of the law nugatory. In the French colonies the ecclesiastical power was often exercised in the defence of slaves, and such writers as Labat, who had practical experience and literary power, made known in France how cruelly the slaves were treated. Their ^vretched life, he says, gives a bad opinion of our religion; all agree that there is nothing in the world more fearful than the existence they lead. He describes the French Catholics as no whit better than the English and Dutch heretics, and instances the insatiable avarice and honlble harshness of some habitants. The opinion prevails that the Spaniards made on the whole the best masters of slaves, as being less commercially minded, more inclined to sympathize with indolence, more lenient on the colour question, and more successful in making permanent homes in tropical countries where the English and Fi’ench lived but temporarily. The Mulatto population in the French colonies generally bore a larger proportion to the white than in the British. In the French Antilles the presence of a large number of priests, of various and rival orders, insured the permanent existence of an element of civilisation. In the British islands the dearth of priests and churches, and the incompleteness of the whole parochial organisation was matter of common remark.
Although in the West Indies the French provided better for educa- tion than the English, in Canada the complaints of inadequate provision were very general. The Jesuits were there singularly unsuccessful in establishing the schools with large classes characteristic of their method, and the attempts to provide for higher education were more active in the early than in the later years of the colony. The chief source of failure was the absence of students, for the scanty population was wholly absorbed in the struggle for existence. The literary and scientific workers were for the most part not Canadians, but Frenchmen who came to the country for a time, and returned home to write of what they had seen. It was early noticed that the women were better educated than the men, and possessed in consequence great social influence.
The fact that not a single newspaper or book was printed in the French colonies before the middle of the eighteenth century is perhaps the most startling and impressive in the whole histor}' of French coloni- sation. From early times the Spanish colonies, under the licence of the Council of the Indies, had presses, which issued large and important works of travel and history. Kalm, writing of Canada in 1748-49, says that the one press which had existed had closed. “ All the orders made
- 1763 ]
in the country are written, which extends even to the paper currency.” It is said that printing was not introduced lest it should be the means of propagating libels against the government and religion; but the true reason, in Kahn’s opinion, was the poverty of the country. No printer could sell enough books to live. He suggests also the further reason that the French at home desired to have the profits of the export of books. In St Domingo a royal printing-house was established in 1750; and the rapid increase of population in the other islands soon led to the creation of presses elsewhere.
The absence of the printing-press would seem to be the one feature which points to marked backwardness in the social state of the French colonies. Nearly all the contemporary descriptions of Canadian society dwell on the favourable aspects. Charlevoix’s penetrating analysis and comparison of the condition of the British and French colonies brings out many points of interest. The British colonists, he says, are opulent, with the appearance of not profiting by their wealth, while the Canadians conceal their poverty under an air of comfort. The Canadian enjoys all he has and often makes a show of having more than he has. The British colonist strives for his heir. The Canadian is content if he leaves his sons no worse off than he was at the beginning of life. The British Americans will not have war, for they have too much to lose; the French Canadian detests peace. There is evidence that the humbler Canadians, suffering no burden of taiUe, having cheap bread, meat, and fish, were fairly well off for necessaries; and it is repeatedly noticed that the humblest class of habitant would resent being classed with the French peasantry. Intendant Hocquart writes, in 1737, that they have not the coarse and rustic appearance of French peasants; the industrial arts not being restricted by trade organisations, and mechanics being scarce, each man is his own manufacturer and mechanic, and thus the idle hours of the long winter are employed. The gentry suffered more than the poor from the high price of the luxuries to which they were accustomed; and, as there was, according to Charlevoix, a larger noblesse in Canada than in all the other colonies put together, the colony lost reputation accordingly. Charlevoix ascribes the distressed state of the gentry to their foUy in considering agriculture a degrading employment.
Although class distinctions, questions of precedence and of etiquette enjoyed fully as much prominence in the colonial Canadian as in the French mind, on all hands the creole’s love of liberty and independence of spirit were noticed and ascribed to the comparative equality of fortunes. But the government failed to appreciate the meaning of these things, or to see why “ emigrants should ever expect an enlargement of their native rights in a wilderness comitry.” A report to the French government contrasts the colonies as follows. “The policy of the people of New England being to labour at the thorough cultivation of their farms and
104 French and British trade regulations. [leos-
to push on their settlements little by little, when it comes to a question of removing to a distance they wiU not do so, because the expense will fall
upon themselves The settlers of New France are of a different mind.
Tley always want to push on without troubhng themselves about the settlement of the interior, because they earn more and are more inde- pendent when they are further away.” In the main portion of the colony, the social tjTanny, to escape from which is often the emigrant’s first desire, was fully as oppressive as in the mother country. Indeed, the Chruch in Canada ruled society with a severity only paralleled by that of the New England Puritans; it sought to restrict men’s pleasures and enforced, at least in La Hontan’s prejudiced view, “a perpetual Lent.”
Energy and enterprise rather than patience were characteristic of the early French colonist in Canada, if the opinion of Le Clercq, writing in 1691, may be trusted; they want to reap, he says, as soon as they have sown. Had agricultrue been made a definite and primary object. Upper Canada, Detroit, Illinois and the Ohio valley must have been opened with successful results; failing that impulse, the drift westward towards a more favourable soil and climate was necessarily very slow. It is curious to observe too how markedly the French failed as breeders of stock, a business in which the Spaniards succeeded when necessity drove them to take it up. Having at first deliberately set aside the agricultural intention as imworthy and unnecessary when other forms of profit were accessible, the Spaniards ultimately made excellent use of the fertile hattes and savannahs, and developed a business which they were well suited by disposition to undertake. But the French lacked zeal in an employment the results of which are slower even than those of tillage. Thus for example in St Domingo, while the French colony imported large supphes of meat and was sometimes in danger of famine, the Spanish in the lai-ger half of the island engaged in a salt-meat trade. The French backwardness would seem to have been partly due to certain unfortrmate restrictions, for instance on slaughter-houses.
The commercial regulations of the British and French colonies, though directed by like principles, worked out very differently in practice. The populous condition of New England and its confined geo- graphical position quickly brought the question of the mother-country’s control of manufactures to the front. With the single exception of clayed sugars the French colonial produce never competed with home manufactures in a manner sufficiently threatening to raise professional alarm. The fact that the colonial sugar-refiners were for the most part liberally treated may however serve as an indication that, had a conflict of home and colonial interests arisen, the French government was more willing than the British to allow indulgence to the colonies. England, guided by the exipneies of the moment, swayed by each manifestation of mercantile hostihty and without continuous colonial policy, was guilty
French colonial constitutions.
of what Burke calls “a chain of petty, interested mismanagement,” to which France felt no temptation.
The French colonies were apt on the other hand to he treated too much as hothouse plants, when a hardier culture might have suited them better. The British colonies, like thistles planted by the hand of nature, seemed to grow apace out of sheer wilfulness. England took interest in the sugar colonies only, because they were not competitors with her in the field of manufactures; but here her success was by no means continuous, and the example from which she expected to learn most was the example of France. To many minds the only conclusive argument in favom: of colonial expansion was that the French King believed in colonies, and imdoubtedly knew his own interest better than England knew hers.
The French colonies, however, would seem to have received less support from the individual capitalist than those of England, and less support from the French at home than from the colonials themselves. The one large and regular French shareholder was the government. The British government was as a rule chary of risking anjdhing till the eighteenth century, when Georgia and Acadia were made notable excep- tions to the rule. The French colonies, of which very few were proprietary, show no such great sacrifices on the part of individuals as were made by the English proprietors.
The colonial currency question was one which troubled both peoples alike and was dealt with in an equally unsatisfactory way by both. The French King tried to meet the difficulty by sending small quantities of bullion, but the supplies were wholly inadequate. The early Spanish colonies were free at least from the dislocation of trade caused by the want of coin, to which both French and Finghsh were continually subject.
The contrast between the comparative absence of commercial restraint in the French colonies and the subjection to it of the Enghsh is balanced by that other contrast between the governmental institutions of the two countries which, obvious as it is, yet always needs accentuation as the most fundamental cause directing the issue of events. Representative institutions were banished from the colonial empire of the Old Regime, and with them every governmental idea which the English cherished in their colonies, tropical and temperate. No attempt whatever was made to resist the action of the monarch in this respect. The French colonists believed that their welfare was dependent on the sovereign’s will, for they saw that if with one hand he took from them certain profitable issues, he returned fully as much with the other. The sense of com- mercial oppression from which the colonists of New England suffered was not paralleled, apparently, by any sense of governmental oppression on the part of the Canadians. They suffered no disabilities which were not suflered by their countrymen at home. The colonists took pride in the
Colonial offices and officials.
[ 1608 -
sense of central unity which their form of government brought home to them, and perceived in it a source of strength against the disunited British colonies, some of which were known to be also disaffected. The French colonies were constituent parts of the empire, and no single colony was permitted to detach itself from its neighbour. Louisiana and Acadia were parts of New France, and the islands were attached to Martinique as a centre.
The French had a further advantage in the union of the Marine and Colonial Offices at home, which forced into recognition the depend- ence of the colonies upon the protection of the navy, contrasting in this respect favourably with the British Board of Trade and Plantations. A Conseil de Commerce was added to the Cornell de Marine, at the beginning of Louis XV’s reign, consisting of deputies from some of the chief French towns — an administrative department much admired by Burke. But it does not appear that its influence was by any means so great as he had been led to suppose.
The biueaucratic system enforced by the Minister of Marine required the colonial officials to keep constantly in correspondence with him, and it is from their memoirs, censuses, and reports, that the history of the colonies may be built up in extraordinary detail. But there are indications of weakness in the spirit of subserviency which marks the colonial reports; and it is clear that the colonial leaders suggested urgent reforms only in a timid, hesitating manner. A further indication of weakness is to be foimd in the government’s persistent repetition of courses of action that had already failed. That at times indecision and ignorance prevailed in high quarters is clear from several cases in which an official was recalled, only to retuim again soon afterwards as obviously the right man for the post.
That the system of dual authority — ^that of a military governor and an intendant of police, justice and finance, with functions not clearly delimited — should have worked well with few exceptions, can only be ascribed to the strong spirit of loyalty and sincere co-operation which was zealously inculcated. The cases of friction, though salient enough, are comparatively few in number. This dual system may fairly be described as a French constitutional invention; it is the only constitutional experiment of any sort tried by the French in their colonies, whereas the experiments tried by the English were most diverse. The very small salaries of the highest officials contrast unfavourably with those of the English; the poverty of the French governors exposed them to great temptations; and, although the government repeatedly forbade them to engage in trade lest this should influence their judgments, they were driven to more or less clandestine methods of raising an income. Fortunately their tenure of office was not ultimately fixed at the short term of three years, which w'as tried at first, after the example of the Spanish colonies. Materials for the history of the French
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French colonial taxation.
colonies exist in such profusion and, as regards Canada at least, have ^ been studied in such full detail, that the character and actions of the French officials may be fully known; yet matter for a scandalous history is for the most part absent. The number of great and world-remem- bered names that stand out in the list of French colonial governors is strikingly large. Whereas the British colonies repeatedly failed signally in their military undertakings for want of leadership, the Canadian governors were not only generals by profession but leaders of men in a more than military sense. Unhappily France could not spare a de la Gallissoniere to the New World for more than a brief space; but the fact that he should have been even for a time a Governor of Canada shows that France was willing to give of her best.
In no respect was there greater divergence in the governmental systems of the British and French colonies than in the matter of taxation. While the British colonists as a rule taxed themselves heavily, both directly by poU-taxes, and indirectly by customs, and in nearly all cases bore the whole expense of government, the French were not suffered to tax themselves. The King kept taxation as the most carefully guarded sovereign right; the Crown bore the expense of govern- ment and paid all salaries; the colonies contributed direct to the Crown through the Domaine d'Occident. The rate levied by the Crown on Quebec and Montreal for their fortifications is a solitary example of a direct tax levied in Canada to defray local expenses. In the sugar islands, in this respect as in others, there w'as a somewhat stronger tendency to self-government. In 1713, when it was found that the indigo duty did not cover the expense of governing St Domingo, the Minisf^r of Marine wTote to the Governor and Commissary of St Domingo ordering that a meeting of habitants should be summoned to negotiate the provision of an octroi that would cover governmental expenses. Again in 1714 a general assembly of habitants and merchants was held in Martinique, convoked by parishes, in which the habitants offered to bear the whole expense of the colony’s maintenance if the King would release the island from the rights of the farmers-general. But these instances are isolated, and serve only to indicate that a change in the system of government could not be very much longer delayed.
No nation perceived so early and so fully as the French the import- ance of geographical position in political and military strategy. The magnitude of French designs is best witnessed by the names “La Nouvelle France^ “ La France Septentrionale ” (the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence), “ La France Mei'idionale ” (Louisiana), “ La France Equinoxiede'" (Guiana and the Antilles), not to speak of “La France Orientale.'" During the rise of the French colonial empire the French were preeminent in geograpliical discovery and cartography. The nature of the fur-trade, and the character of the missionaries early dispersed the French wanderers into the heart of the continent. Once
108 Strength of the French geographical position. [i60&-
the wildemefis had been penetrated, it became obvioxis immediately that the possession of the waterways gave mastery in a land then deemed incapable of land-carriage. To Burke the French colonies were “the most powerful, their nature considered, of any in America ”; for in the great Lakes lay the throne, the centre of vast dominion, by their alliance with the waters of the St Lawrence and the waters of the Mississippi. If, says Governor PownaU, we give attention to the nature of this country and the one united command and dominion which the waters hold throughout it, we shall not be surprised to find the French (though so few in number) in possession of a power which commands this country. The French work proceeded far more rapidly on the Mississippi than on the St Lawrence, for climate and soil offered no hindrance, and the imbounded range of Indian trade allowed scope for those qualities in which the French colonist proved himself strongest. But to establish dominion something more is needed than a full recognition of the possibilities of the future. No steady stream of trade poured down from Canada to Louisiana or vice versa. The entire neglect of the portage between Lake Erie and the Ohio, in favour of the distant communication by Green Bay and Wisconsin, proves that there was no trade seeking a route. That the appreciation of the importance of the Ohio came late, serves to show the unreality of the whole scheme of dominion. Similarly, in Guiana the French found themselves shut out from the water- ways of the Amazon and Orinoco through delay in planting a populous and enduring colony. Whereas to Burke it appeared sheer madness on the part of the English to have allowed the French to shut them in from behind the Alleghanies, to Oldmixon it was possible to speak li^tly of French “dreams of colonies and commerce in the moon.” Whereas alarmists saw the French work already accomplished, others foresaw that it would take a hundred years to make the French scheme a reality. With Canada, Louisiana and half St Domingo under one power, and Spain in alliance, it was thought that Jamaica and Cuba would next be absorbed, and that the English would be driven from the New World. The very dispersal of the scanty French population seemed to magnify their strength, for, like the Iroquois, they could give trouble out of all proportion to their numbers.
There appears to be no reason to doubt that the French and British peoples proved equally prolific on the American continent. With both it was natural increase, and not a continuous stream of emigrants, that mainly raised the population. But in the race for numerical increase the handicapped competitor is sme to fall further and further behind; and from the outset France was handicapped. With no Huguenot exodus to parallel the twenty years’ Puritan exodus, the French colonies depended for their origin on a mere handful of men and women, despatched many of them against their will and kept in the colonies by compulsion. All the French colonies were dependent on the engages-, not all the
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Colonies as strategic posts.
British were dependent on the influx of “indented servants.” There was “ seducing ” and “ spiriting away,” kidnapping and crimping for the ^ colonies in England, but on no such scale as the legalised despatch of three engages for every 60 tons of shipping, six for 100, and so on in proportion.
The absolute government of France does not show itself in aU respects at its worst in the colonies. Absolute power lodged in the wise hands of a Colbert, even of a Seignelay or a Pontchartrain, gave scope for ideas undreamed of in England. In Biuke’s opinion “obedience to a wise government serves the French colonists for personal wisdom”; and the dangers involved in such exchange were not at first obvious. Absolute power had faith in the future, passed over questions of profit and loss, silenced or ignored the old grumble that the colonies did not enrich France. Policy, not commerce, dictated the retention of the St Lawrence, the Lakes and the Mississippi; they were strategic posts in the defence of a military empire. While Spain cared for her colonies as an all- important source of wealth, and her colonies depended upon her as their protection; while England hindei'ed hers where she feared commercial rivalry, and at the same time secured an oceanic power surpassing that of France and Spain combined; France grasped the idea that colonies are an expansion of the empire, at least in its military sense. The seventeenth centiuy hope of a possible colonial neutrality was very soon finally laid aside. French colonial history is so coloirred by the artistic and dramatic sense of its creators that the facts seem to lose their true relative importance. In the minds of the French, distance, severance such as we now can hardly realise, poverty, the scemtiness of the population, the internal dissensions, all counted for nothing. There were elements of disunion in the jealousies of Montreal and Quebec, of Chiuch and State, of the small and the large planters, of the dependent islands and Martinique, of French officials and the Creole population, of Fi'ench and colonial soldiers, of the trappers and the settled colonists; but these prosy realities seemed trifles that would fade away and be forgotten in the beautiful vision of a world-wide and united empire.
New France, while it gave promise of gigantic empire, was to the government a part of France, and could therefore risk its fate in the international contest, regardless of the fear of pressing the divided British colonies into union, regardless of Emopean diversions, of the want of oceanic defence. But that this sense of miity was rather senti- mental than substantial, became manifest when the moment of loss arrived. The loss of Acadia, Canada, Louisiana, was no dismemberment of the French empire; such losses merely marked certain stages in a wider contest. Yet it is the clear, if premature, perception of one aspect of the modern colonial idea that serves to glorify for aU time the story of the French in America.
The settlement of Acadia.
ACADIA, CAPE BRETON, AND THE ILE DE SAINT JEAN.
The French settlement on the Bay of Fundy has been briefly referred to, in so far as it displays certain main characters in French colonial policy; but for many reasons the story of Acadia and the two adjacent islands calls for separate treatment. French maritime colonies in the neighbomhood of New England were called upon to play a part politi- cally that was even more disproportionate to their material development than the part played by French Canada. The hapless Acadia was the shuttlecock to French and English battledores. Thiice in the wars of the seventeenth century it fell to England; thrice it was restored by treaty to France. It stands apart from the other French colonies, inas- much as it was scarcely touched, for good or iU, by the commercial companies. Unlike the French Canadians, the Acadian colonists laid no disproportionate stress on military organisation, but, on the contraiy, repeatedly allowed themselves to fall a prey to English raids for want of sufficient armament. But though time after time the little posts were ruined, the fields laid waste, the cattle destroyed, there seemed to be an indestructible vitality in this, the least carefully fostered of all the French colonies. As compared mth Canada, Acadia received little or no help from the home government. Its officials, too often men who had failed in Canada, produced the censuses and “ memoirs ” that were required of them; and the colony flourished rather in spite than because of their efforts, which were mainly directed to their own enrichment. The widely scattered population, settled in hamlets of some twenty persons each, found a congenial climate and soil, and, in their dependence on their own initiative, resembled rather an English colony in its early stages than a colony of New France. With few exceptions the 2500 Acadians of 1714 were the descendants of forty families sent out between 1633 and 1638, and of some sixty colonists sent in 1671. The 2500 French of 1714 increased nearly six-fold in the next forty years of English government.
The first era of attempted French settlement (1605-32) bequeathed to its successor (1632-70) nothing but an inheritance of disputed claims, which the fertility of the La Tour family, representing the first grantee, passed on from generation to generation. ArgaU’s raid (1613), and Sir William Alexander’s ill-supported attempt (1621) to found a “Nova Scotia” that should be to Scotland as New France and New England to their parent stems, did not make things easier for Razilly, sent as governor to make a fresh start when Acadia had been restored to France by the Treaty of Saint Germain-en-Laye (1632). The story of the relations of the governor, and his deputy d’Aulnay, with Nicholas Denys, one of the grantees and the historian of the colony in this
The capital of Acadia.
period, and with the La Tours, father and son, whose interests Alex- ander had divided, dramatic as it is in aU the details that Denys has left us, cannot be told here; it need be noticed only because it was the disputes of these rival gentlemen-adventurers that gave the colony a bad beginning, and led to that want of concentration which was throughout a main source of its weakness.
Now, as in the next period, the governors could not decide whether to fix their centre at the sheltered Port Royal, or on one of the rivers which might be made a means of communication with Quebec, or on the Atlantic shore of the peninsula, which offered most advantage for the fishery. The Rochellais, whom Razilly and d’Aulnay brought with them, found at Port Royal conditions of which they had had experience at home; and by dyking the marsh-lands a promising agricultural settlement was made. But Port Royal was no centre. From Pentagouet on the Penobscot, by river and portages, it seemed possible to establish a connexion with Quebec; and accordingly Pentagouet looked the more promising to those who had ambitious schemes. The drawback was that it was nearer to New England, and certain to be an object of attack. La Heve, which offered advantages rather like those of the present capital of Nova Scotia, could be made a convenient port for sea-commu- nication with Quebec, whilst the river was jfree of ice. All these were tried in turn, now and later.
Had any one of these ports been strongly defended, the colony would not have fallen again to the English in 1654, when Sedgwick took Port Royal for the Protector. Between 1654 and 1667, the story of the period 1613-32 was repeated. Sir Thomas Temple playing the part of Sir William Alexander, and the Treaty of Breda (1667) that of the Treaty of Saint Glermain-en-Laye. France having recovered Acadia, there seemed hope that Colbert might promote settlement here as he had in Canada. But a renewed effort on the Penobscot was checked by the Dutch; and the creation of a way to Quebec, by what was known as the chemin de Kennebec, could not proceed. So far as this western district came under French influence at aU, it was left to the indianised Baron St Castein, who had married the daughter of an Abenaki chief in 1680. Through him, and later through his son, the French in Acadia were assured of Indian friendship. In 1685 the intendant of Canada was sent to study the needs of the colony. At that time the population numbered only 885, of whom 600 were at or near Port Roy^. The intendant advised more military protection; and the ease with which Port Royal was destroyed in every filibustering raid, and its speedy fall before Phipps in 1690, proved the wisdom of his view.
At the third restoration of Acadia to France, by the Peace of Ryswick (1697), the choice of a capital again lay open. The new governor, Villebon, a capable military commander, decided on a site on the most eastward of the great rivers that might form a frontier, the
Cape Breton and tie de Saint Jean. [ie 29 -i 7 is
St Jolm, furthest from New England, and, facing Port Royal, the most suitable for the defence of the Bay of Fundy. Unfortunately a special commissioner, sent from France, decreed its abandonment. In ITOl' Port Royal, once more a fairly prosperous colony, was again cruelly wasted by the English. Again it was built up, and in 1710, with about eight hundred inhabitants, could make a brave defence against Nicholson, and only surrendered with the honours of war, on a promise that the inhabitants should be transported to France.
In 1707 the census gave to the whole of Acadia a population of 1838, with some 7500 head of live-stock. By the Treaty of Utrecht, 1718, all “Nova Scotia, formerly called Acadia, with its ancient boundaries, together with the city of Port Royal,” was ceded to England. What the ancient boundaries were nobody knew; but of coru^e the French now wished Acadia to mean a small tract, not a large, while the English had equal reason to make a volte-face in the opposite direction. The English commissioners of 1755 assumed that the right bank of the St Lawrence was their northern boundary — certainly an extravagant claim; and the French, with as little show of reason, said that the treaty ceded only a part of the peninsula now called Nova Scotia and none of the mainland. But as La GaUissoniere had succeeded in planting French forts on the neck of the peninsula, it seemed possible that they might by force make their claim good, for the Acadian population was purely French till 1749; and the strong French colonies in Cape Breton and the lie de Saint Jean offered plenty of support.
The two large islands off the coasts of Acadia, originally called Cape Breton and tie de Saint Jean (now Prince Edward Island), naturally formed part of the Acadian dominion. Cape Breton is severed from the mainland only by a narrow gut, and the tie de Saint Jean lies along the shores of the neck or land which attaches Nova Scotia to New Brunswick. Both were important centres for the fishery, but neither had offered much attraction to colonists so long as there wsis space in lands of milder climate and happier conditions.
At the outset, here as elsewhere, it was the old story of rival pretensions based on flimsy pretexts, and of the ultimate success of the most patient competitor. At the time of Sir William Alexander’s grant, which included Cape Breton, it had seemed possible that the Scotch might make a lasting settlement, for in 1629 Lord Ochiltree built a fort on the island. But a Frenchman destroyed it and built another, to be deserted in its turn. When in 1632 the way lay open for France, Nicholas Denys, into whose hands this part of the Acadian dominion fell, did no more than establish trading-posts and quairel with rival adventurers. No permanent settlement was made rmtil by the Treaty of Utrecht this island, with its neighbour Saint Jean, acquired a whoUy new importance, as the only sea-board from Florida to Hudson’s
1713 - 63 ] Cape Breton and He de Saint Jean.
Bay that was definitely acknowledged to belong to France. At once the whole energy of the French government was concentrated on the development of these islands. Cape Breton was rechristened ile Royale, by way of marking its new destiny; and all the French settlers from Newfoundland were transferred to its shores, and put under their old Newfoundland governor. In the two islands homes were offered to any Acadians who chose to come; but the English were loth to lose the French colonists and their property, and, in the early years after the Treaty of Utrecht, placed difficulties in the way of such emigration, a fact that made the deportation of 1755 the less justifiable. The fortifi- cation of Louisboui'g began in 1720, after Vauban’s plan. The population in the neighboiuhood of the fort was over 2000, the garrison itself 1000; but the population of the rest of the island amounted to little more than another thousand. The constitution was of the Canadian pattern, with the same elements of strength and weakness. The export of fish, oil, and coal was good; and the colony could boast a fine military road, a hospital, and a nuns’ school for girls. But the concentration of the inhabitants round Louisbourg, where the soil was poor, hindered tillage, so that the island depended on its neighbour Saint Jean for food.
As the government of Cape Breton was subordinate to Canada, so Saint Jean was subordinate to Cape Breton. In Saint Jean there had been fishing-ports in the seventeenth century, but no agriculture till 1713. In 1735 the population was only 542; but in the next twenty years the numbers increased rapidly, and at the time of the expulsion of the Acadians there was another great rise. When Saint Jean passed with Cape Breton to England by the Treaty of Paris (1763), both lost their population, which had been kept up by artificial causes; and its place was but slowly filled up with Scotch settlers.
The late development of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and Prince Edward Island in English hands, under perfectly peaceful conditions, is the best testimony to the merit of the French efforts made at a remoter time under conditions of chronic warfare. The vitality of Port Royal, rising ever, phoenix-like, from its ashes; the solidarity of the little Acadian people, who after forty years of English rule had to be deported, only to make their way back to their old homes again; the creative power repeatedly shown in making something out of the least promising material — these things set Acadia apart as deserving a special place in the history of French colonisation. But here, as else- where, the main source of strength was the successful manipulation of the Indians. By their skiU in this particular the French multiplied their forces many times over. It was this that made the impenetrable backw'oods which cut off Acadia from Canada, and to a less degree from New England, seem to be really French, and which gave an apparent justification to the claims of the French commissioners of 1755.
C. 31. H. VII. CH. III.