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The next step was to gather these critic's definition of a great life, - a. early records from government archives, thought conceived in youth, and realized and from libraries public and private, in later years. on both sides of the Atlantic, a task,

This elaborateness of preparation had as Parkman himself called it, "abun- its share in producing the intense vivdantly irksome and laborious.” It ex- idness of Mr. Parkman's descriptions. tended over many years, and involved Profusion of detail makes them seem seven visits to Europe. It was performed like the accounts of an eye-witness. The with a thoroughness approaching finality. realism is so strong that the author seems Already in the preface to the Pioneers to have come in person fresh from the the author was able to say that he had scenes he describes, with the smoke of gained access to all the published mate- the battle hovering about him and its rials in existence. Of his research among fierce light glowing in his eyes. Such manuscript sources a notable monument realism is usually the prerogative of the exists in a cabinet now standing in the novelist rather than of the historian, and library of the Massachusetts Historical in one of his prefaces Mr. Parkman reSociety, containing nearly two hundred cognizes that the reader may feel this and folio volumes of documents copied from suspect him. “ If at times,” he says, “it the originals by hired experts. Ability may seem that range has been allowed to to incur heavy expense is, of course, a fancy, it is so in appearance only, since prerequisite for all undertakings of this the minutest details of narrative or desort, and herein our historian was fa- scription rest on authentic documents or vored by fortune. Against this chiefest on personal observation.” i among advantages were to be offset the This kind of personal observation Mr. hardships entailed by delicate health and Parkman carried so far as to visit all inability to use the eyes for reading and the important localities

the important localities - indeed, well

writing. Mr. Parkman always dictated nigh all the localities - that form the instead of holding the pen, and his huge scenery of his story, and study them with mass of documents had to be read aloud the patience of a surveyor and the disto him. The heroism shown year after cerning eye of a landscape painter. His year in contending with physical ail- strong love of nature added keen zest to ments was the index of a character fit this sort of work. From boyhood he to be mated, for its pertinacious courage, was a trapper and hunter ; in later years with the heroes that live in his shining he became eminent as a horticulturist, pages.

originating new varieties of flowers. To The progress in working up materials sleep under the open sky was his delight. was slow and sure. The Conspiracy of His books fairly reek with the fragrance Pontiac, which forms the sequel and of pine woods. I open one of them at conclusion of Parkman's work, was first random, and my eye falls upon such a published in 1851, only five years after sentence as this : “ There is softness in the summer spent with the Indians. the mellow air, the warm sunshine, and Fourteen years then elapsed before the the budding leaves of spring, and in Pioneers made its appearance in Little, the forest flower, which, more delicate Brown & Co.'s window; and then there than the pampered offspring of gardens, were yet seven-and-twenty years more lifts its tender head through the refuse before the final volumes came out in and decay of the wilderness." Looking 1892. Altogether about half a century at the context, I find that this sentence was required for the building of this comes in a remarkable passage suggested grand literary monument. Nowhere can by Colonel Henry Bouquet's Western exwe find a better illustration of the French

1 Pioneers, page xii.




pedition of 1764, when he compelled the truthful record of a vanished age patient Indians to set free so many French and scholarship is needed, and something English prisoners. Some of these cap- more. Into the making of an historian tives were unwilling to leave the society there should enter something of the phiof the red men ; some positively refused losopher, something of the naturalist, to accept the boon of what was called something of the poet. In Parkman freedom. In this strange conduct, ex- this rare union of qualities was realized claims Parkman, there was

in a greater degree than in any other countable perversity ; and he breaks out American historian. Indeed, I doubt if with two pages of noble dithyrambics in the nineteenth century can show in any praise of savage life. “ To him who has part of the world another historian quite once tasted the reckless independence, his equal in this respect. the haughty self-reliance, the sense of There is one thing which lends to irresponsible freedom which the forest Parkman's work a peculiar interest, and life engenders, civilization thenceforth will be sure to make it grow in fame seems flat and stale. ... The entrapped with the ages. Not only has he left the wanderer grows fierce and restless, and truthful record of a vanished age so pants for breathing-room. His path, it complete and final that the work will is true, was choked with difficulties, but never need to be done again, but if any his body and soul were hardened to meet one should in the future attempt to do it them; it was beset with dangers, but again, he cannot approach the task with these were the very spice of his life, quite such equipment as Parkman’s. In gladdening his heart with exulting self- an important sense, the age of Pontiac confidence, and sending the blood through is far more remote from us than the age his veins with a livelier current. The of Clovis or the age of Agamemnon. wilderness, rough, harsh, and inexorable, When barbaric society is overwhelmed has charms more potent in their se- by advancing waves of civilization, its ductive influence than all the lures of vanishing is final; the thread of tradiluxury and sloth. And often he on tion is cut off forever with the shears of whom it has cast its magic finds no heart Fate. Where are Montezuma's Aztecs ? to dissolve the spell, and remains a wan- Their physical offspring still dwell on derer and an Ishmaelite to the hour of the table-land of Mexico and their anhis death.” 1

cient speech is still heard in the streets, No one can doubt that the man who but that old society is as extinct as the could write like this had the kind of dinosaurs, and has to be painfully studied temperament that could look into the in fossil fragments of custom and tradiIndian's mind and portray him correct- tion. So with the red men of the North ; ly. But for this inborn temperament it is not true that they are dying out all his microscopic industry would have physically, but their stage of society is availed him but little. To use his own fast disappearing, and soon it will have words, “ Faithfulness to the truth of his- vanished forever. Soon their race will tory involves far more than a research, be swallowed up and forgotten, just as however patient and scrupulous, into we overlook and ignore to-day the exspecial facts. Such facts may be de- istence of five thousand Iroquois fartailed with the most minute exactness, mers in the State of New York. and yet the narrative, taken as a whole, Now the study of comparative ethmay be unmeaning or untrue.” These nology has begun to teach us that the are golden words for the student of the red Indian is one of the most interesthistorical art to ponder. To make a ing of men. He represents a stage of 1 Pontiac, ii. 237.

evolution through which civilized men

have once passed, a stage far more an- upon tribes of white men with social cient and primitive than that which is and political ideas not much more addepicted in the Odyssey or in the book vanced than those of Frontenac's red of Genesis. When Champlain and Fron- men, our picture will be in its most estenac met the feathered chieftains of the sential features a correct one. What St. Lawrence, they talked with men of would we not give for an historian who, the stone age face to face. Phases of with a pen like that of Herodotus, could life that had vanished from Europe long bring before us the scenes of that pribefore Rome was built survived in meval Greek world before the cyclopean America long enough to be seen and works at Tiryns were built, when the studied by modern men. Behind Mr. ancestors of Solon and Aristeides did Parkman's picturesqueness, therefore, not yet dwell in neatly joinered houses there lies a significance far more pro- and fasten their door-latches with a found than one at first would suspect. thong, when the sacred city-state was He has portrayed for us a wondrous and still unknown, and the countryman had forever fascinating stage in the evolu- not yet become a bucolic or “tender of tion of humanity. We may well thank cows,” and butter and cheese were still Heaven for sending us such a scholar, in the future ! No written records can such an artist, such a genius, before it ever take us back to that time in that was too late. As we look at the changes place, for there as everywhere the art of wrought in the last fifty years, we realize writing came many ages later than the that already the opportunities by which domestication of animals, and some ages he profited in youth are in large mea- later than the first building of towns. sure lost. He came not a moment too But in spite of the lack of written resoon to catch the fleeting light and fix cords, the comparative study of instituit upon his immortal canvas.

tions, especially comparative jurispruThus Parkman is to be regarded as dence, throws back upon those prehisfirst of all the historian of primitive toric times a light that is often dim, but society. No other great historian has sometimes wonderfully suggestive and dealt intelligently and consecutively with instructive. It is a light that reveals such phases of barbarism as he describes among primeval Greeks ideas and cuswith such loving minuteness. To the toms essentially similar to those of the older historians, all races of men very Iroquois. It is a light that far below the European grade of cul- ier and brighter as it leads us to the ture seemed alike; all were ignorantly conclusion that four or five thousand grouped together as “savages." Mr. years before Christ white men around Lewis Morgan first showed the wide the Ægæan Sea had advanced about difference between true savages, like the as far as the red men in the Mohawk Apaches and Bannocks on the one hand, Valley two centuries ago. The one phase and barbarians with developed village of this primitive society illuminates the life, like the Five Nations and the Cher- other, though extreme caution is necesokees. The latter tribes, in the seven- sary in drawing our inferences. Now, teenth and eighteenth centuries, exhibited Parkman's minute and vivid description social phenomena such as were probably of primitive society among red men is witnessed about the shores of the Medi- full of lessons that may be applied with terranean some seven thousand years profit to the study of pre-classic antiearlier. If we carry our thoughts back quity in the Old World. No other histoto the time that saw the building of rian has brought us into such close and the Great Pyramid, and imagine civilized familiar contact with human life in such Egypt looking northward and eastward ancient stages of its progress. In ParkI say his

grows stead

man’s great book we have a record of aggressive strength, when, in the course vanished conditions such as exists hardly of the sixteenth century, a New World anywhere else in all literature.

beyond the sea was laid open

for colonigreat book,” using the sin- zation. The maritime nations of Eugular number, for, with the exception of rope were, naturally, the ones to be atthat breezy bit of autobiography, The tracted to this new arena of enterprise ; Oregon Trail, all Parkman's books are and Spain, Portugal, France, England, the closely related volumes of a single and Holland each played its interesting comprehensive work. From the ad- and characteristic part. Spain at first ventures of the Pioneers of France a claimed the whole, excepting only that consecutive story is developed through Brazilian coast which Borgia's decree the Jesuits in North America and the gave to Portugal. But Spain's methods, Discovery of the Great West. In the as well as her early failure of strength, Old Régime in Canada it is continued prevented her from making good her with a masterly analysis of French claim. Spain's methods were limited to methods of colonization in this their stepping into the place formerly occugreatest colony; and then from Fronte- pied by the conquering races of halfnac and New France under Louis XIV. civilized Indians. She made aboriginal we are led through A Half-Century of tribes work for her, just as the Aztec Conflict to the grand climax in the vol- Confederacy and the Inca dynasty had umes on Montcalm and Wolfe, after done. Where she was brought into diwhich The Conspiracy of Pontiac brings rect contact with American barbarism, the long narrative to a noble and bril- without the intermediation of half-civiliant close. In the first volume we see lized native races, she made little or no the men of the stone age at that brief headway. Her early failure of strength, moment when they were disposed to on the other hand, was due to her total adore the bearded new-comers as Chil- absorption in the fight against civil and dren of the Sun; in the last we read religious liberty în Europe. The failure the bloody story of their last and most became apparent as soon as the absorpdesperate concerted effort to loosen the tion had begun to be complete. Spain's iron grasp with which these palefaces last aggressive effort in the New World had seized and were holding the conti- was the destruction of the little Huguenent. It is a well-rounded tale, and as not colony in Florida, in 1565, and it is complete as anything in real history, at that point that Parkman's great work where completeness and finality are appropriately begins. From that mothings unknown. And between the be- ment Spain simply beat her strength to ginning and end of this well-rounded pieces against the rocks of Netherland tale a mighty drama is wrought out in courage and resourcefulness. As for all its scenes. The struggle between the Netherlands, their energies were so France and England for the soil of far absorbed in taking over and manaNorth America was one of the great ging the great eastern empire of the Porcritical moments in the career of man- tuguese that their work in the New kind, — no less important than the strug- World was confined to seizing upon the gle between Greece and Persia, or be- most imperial geographical position, and

, tween Rome and Carthage. Out of the planting a cosmopolitan colony there long and complicated interaction between that, in the absence of adequate support, Roman and Teutonic institutions which was sure to fall into the hands of one made up the history of the Middle Ages or the other of the competitors more actwo strongly contrasted forms of politi- tively engaged upon the scene. cal society had grown up, and acquired The two competitors thus more ac


tively engaged were France and Eng- human weaknesses and limitations. It land, and from an early period it was was a pet scheme of Louis XIV., and felt between the two to be a combat in never did a philanthropic world-mender which no quarter was to be given or ac- contemplate his grotesque phalanstery or cepted. These two strongly contrasted pantarchy with greater pleasure than forms of political society had each its this master of kingcraft looked forward distinct ideal, and that ideal was to be to the construction of a perfect Chrismade to prevail to the utter exclusion tian state in America. and destruction of the other. Probably The pages of our great historian are the French felt this way

somewhat ear- full of examples which prove that if the lier than the English ; they felt it to be French idea failed of realization, and the necessary to stamp out the English be- state it founded was overwhelmed, it fore the latter had more than realized the was not from any lack of lofty qualities necessity of defending themselves against in individual Frenchmen. In all the the French. For the type of political history of the American continent no society represented by Louis XIV. was names stand higher than some of the preeminently militant, as the English French names. For courage, for fortitype was preëminently industrial. The

The tude and high resolve, for sagacious leadaggressiveness of the former was more ership, statesmanlike wisdom, unswervdistinctly conscious of its own narrower ing integrity, devoted loyalty, for all the aims, and was more deliberately set at qualities which make life heroic, we may work to attain them; while the English, learn lessons innumerable from the noon the other hand, rather drifted into a ble Frenchmen who throng in Mr. Parktremendous world fight without distinct man's pages. The difficulty was not in consciousness of their purpose. Yet the individuals, but in the system ; not in after the final issue had been joined, the units, but in the way they were put the refrain Carthago delenda est was together. For while it is true — though heard from the English side, and it many people do not know it — that by came fraught with impending doom from no imaginable artifice can you make a the lips of Pitt as in days of old from society that is better than the human the lips of Cato.

units you put into it, it is also true that The French idea, had it prevailed in nothing is easier than to make a society the strife, would not have been capable that is worse than its units. So it was of building up a pacific union of par with the colony of New France. tially independent states, covering this Nowhere can we find a description of vast continent from ocean to ocean. despotic government more careful and Within that rigid and rigorous bureau- thoughtful, or more graphic'and lifelike, cratic system there was no room for spon- than Parkman has given us in his voltaneous individuality, no room for local on the Old Régime in Canada. self-government, and no chance for a Seldom, too, will one find a book fuller flexible federalism to grow up. A well- of political wisdom. The author never known phrase of Louis XIV. was “ The preaches like Carlyle, nor does he hurl state is myself.” That phrase repre- huge generalizations at our heads like sented his ideal. It was approximately Buckle ; he simply describes a state of true in Old France, realized as far as society that has been. But I hardly sundry adverse conditions would allow. need say that his description is not —

— The Grand Monarque intended that in like the Dryasdust descriptions we are New France it should be absolutely true. sometimes asked to accept as history – Upon that fresh soil was to be built up a mere mass of pigments flung at ran. a pure monarchy, without concession to

It is a picture


dom upon a


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