صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

At any rate, some middle course must be discovered between the Cape system and the entire refusal of political rights to the natives under the Transvaal constitution. The old crude " schepsel” ideas are happily disappearing from South Africa. Both races are prepared to adopt a liberal policy towards the native population, and this momentous problem at least is not likely to bar the road to South African unity.

The two races in Canada have just been celebrating their union in a single great nation on the very battle-grounds on which they were once arrayed against each other in mortal conflict. Surely Boer and Briton, who are after all more cognate in blood and religion than British and French, will move gradually but surely towards the same happy consummation. The presence of a great foreign Power along the Canadian frontier and the concentration of the French-Canadians in a single province have assisted the process of reconcilement in Canada. The obliteration of racial divisions in South Africa may be slower and more difficult, but the healing influences of time and the common sense of the people must count for something in the course of events. Yet the one condition of peace in this long-distracted country is the frank and general acceptance of ritish supremacy, and the only sure basis of that supremacy is a clear preponderance of the British element in the white population.

J. SAXON MILLS.

THE QUEBEC TERCENTENARY.

I.

THE ROMANCE OF THE PAST.

QUEBEC is perhaps the most romantic spot in the Empire. None other provides quite the same wealth of incident; its story sums up the conflict of civilisation with savagery; it tells of the pioneers who crossed the Atlantic in what we should regard as crazy cockleshells, to face the terrors of the wilderness and the wild man; it illustrates the struggle of two great European Powers for the mastery of the world ; it includes the breaking up and the re-construction of the British Empire. It is a story containing all the adventures, the intrigues, the surprises, the devotion which form the stock-in-trade of novelists from Fenimore Cooper to Gilbert Parker. Redskin and white man did nothing in the pages of the one more thrilling than the episodes which sprang from the missionary enterprise of Jesuit and Recollet and the alliance of the French and Hurons and Algonquins against the Five Nations; and the History of Old Quebec is perhaps the greatest of the romances to which the other has put his name. A pageant at Warwick, at Oxford or at Chelsea, cannot be lacking in picturesque and significant detail : it is local and uneventful when placed side by side with the past of Quebec. It is as a meadow stream contrasted with the mighty river on which Quebec stands. The student of history who can run his eye down the events which followed from the founding of Quebec in 1608 will see a concatenation of chapters conveying in dramatic form the whole story of European colonisation from the effort to plant the feudal system of France on Western shores to the concession of full autonomy to her daughter States by Great Britain. France made mistakes and lost her Empire; Great Britain made mistakes, profited by them, and rose from her disasters mightier than ever. Both countries poured out blood and treasure to be mistress of the West; their rivalry extended over centuries; and the issue was by no means a foregone conclusion, much as the historian whose wisdom comes after the event may think to the contrary. It was a duel to the death. Assuredly no one who participated in it, or was in a position a century since to gauge its consequences, would ever have dreamed that the two could sit down in amity and review

(1) Old Quebec, by Gilbert Parker and Claude G. Bryan. Macmillan, 1903.

the past without bitterness as they are doing to-day. This is the year of the Franco-British Exhibition, the biggest thing in exhibitions London has seen ; but the Franco-British Exhibition is surely the Quebec pageant, in which the descendants of victor and vanquished join hands in commemorating the achievements of their own and each other's heroes. The Quebec pageant is he happy ending to the romance, the veritable marriage bells, in fact, which are the common place of fiction.

It is not easy for the imagination of the twentieth century to conjure up the conditions in which the venturesome spirits of the sixteenth sought to take advantage of the opportunities provided by Columbus, Cabot, and da Gama at the end of the fifteenth. Spain threw all her energy into reaping the rich harvest of the support she had given Columbus; under Papal authority she elected to lay claim to half the world. That France and England would be assenting parties even the haughty Spaniard probably did not anticipate. England was strangely slow in following up the Cabots' lead, and the first real efforts at exploration and discovery along the north-eastern shores of America were made by France. French fishermen found their way to the banks of Newfoundland, and Jacques Cartier discovered the St. Lawrence. France flouted Papal bulls and gave her sons authority to appropriate what they might for France, and, if possible, find their way to Asia by the waters of the West. Cartier made three voyages across the Atlantic in boats which were to the modern leviathans pretty much what an old inn of coaching days would be to an up-to-date hotel in a fashionable resort. The wonder is that any one of these vessels of fifty tons burden or less ever survived the storms and stress of the ocean. As a fact, many either went to the bottom or were battered back to the ports of France ; if those that made the voyage outstayed the summer beyond the seas, they had no alternative but to remain throughout the long winter. Cartier in 1534 was the first European, so far as we know, to sight the headland in the St. Lawrence which was to become Quebec--the veritable Gibraltar of Canada-then the centre of an Indian settlement called Stadacona ; later he stood upon the heights above Hochelaga, which he called Mount Royal and we know to-day as Montreal. One astonishing fact about Cartier's appearance in the St. Lawrence was the reception given to him by the natives—the Indians, as they were called, in the belief, to quote the patent granted to Roberval by Francis I. in 1540, that “the lands of Canada and Hochelaga formed the extremity of Asia towards the west." The Indians were no doubt amazed at this incursion of white people, and the Frenchmen's arms of precision would be a warning to them to be on their

VOL. LXXXIV. N.S.

X

[merged small][ocr errors]

best behaviour. But they were suspicious, and tried to frighten Cartier from any attempt to make his way beyond Stadacona by dressing themselves up as devils. Cartier laughed at their tricks and pushed ahead. His visits were hardly calculated to inspire confidence. Not content with carrying two young Indians to France “ as a sample of the native products of the New World,” he abducted the Chief Donnacora and others. If the natives had heard of the doings of the Spaniards to the south they might well have concluded that the horrors of European civilisation were about to be foist on their own primeval conditions of savagery. They were, however, to enjoy a lengthy respite. After Cartier there was an interval of some sixty years, during which France was absorbed in her troubles at home and had little thought for the New France, which, it was hoped, might be created beyond the Atlantic. Except for the more or less irregular traffic of a few French sailors, the natives might well have thought the French had gone for ever, disappearing as suddenly and mysteriously as they came.

With the beginning of the seventeenth century both England and France seem to have decided that the time had arrived when they should make a real start in the colonising of North America. Last year the United States celebrated the tercentenary of the founding of Jamestown; to-day Canada is celebrating the tercentenary of the building of the first habitation in Quebec. Samuel de Champlain was the actual parent of Canada. A good many years ago, Parkman, the prolific and picturesque chronicler of the struggle for a continent, said that Champlain's “ halfforgotten name was “foremost on the bright roll of forest chivalry”; his name is as familiar in our mouths in July, 1908, as any other.

As the history of Canada unfolds itself we can see that, when Champlain made the first clearing on the Quebec shore, he was making also the first clearing in the long account open between France and England. He went to America, under the patent granted to de Monts, to promote the fur trade, to explore, to colonise. It was his intuition that carried the pioneers away from the coast to the ideal spot for a settlement which should be the radiating point of future endeavour. Champlain was no mere servant of commercial speculation, as were most of his contemporaries. He belonged to the category of adventurer-statesmen that includes a Clive and a John Smith. He had a passion for exploration, and there was something of the missionary about him too.

now

(1) Parkman's Works have been admirably summarised for the benefit of those who have not the time to read them in the original dozen volumes in The Struggle for a Continent, by Pelham Edgar (Macmillan, 1902).

was," says Sir Gilbert Parker, "an embodiment at once of the religious zeal and of the mediæval spirit of romance which carried the Bourbon lilies into the trackless wilderness of North America at a time when English colonisation contented itself with a narrow strip on the Atlantic coast.” During a quarter of a century, for all practical purposes the life of Champlain was the history of Canada. No more single-purposed hero ever took the lead in promoting the interests of country and king abroad. Rich men found the sinews to assist his work from the safe distance of France; others, anxious to be rich, faced perils as great as his own in search of wealth; many devoted men gave their lives to the establishment of French supremacy in Canada, but among the principals he alone braved all for no selfish end. Lake Champlain is the memorial of one of his earliest achievements. He easily made

He easily made friends with the Hurons and the Algonquins, and joined them in a long and hazardous expedition against their enemies the Iroquois, the redoubtable confederacy of Five Nations, the cruellest and the most courageous of American natives. He could be lured hundreds of miles inland by the lying reports of a young Frenchman who claimed to have seen waters, the discovery of which might have solved the riddle of the Western route to the Far East; he crossed and recrossed the Atlantic year after year in order to keep the colony alive; he introduced the Recollets to begin the great work of attempting to Christianise the Indians, which the Jesuits were to take up and carry on a little later in circumstances that called for martyrs and with consequences that affected the history of Empires. Champlain not only founded Quebec, but he laid the lines of policy in dealing with the Indians which for a century and a half turned vast stretches of North America into a shambles. The Iroquois menace was to be met and the defence of New France assured by an alliance between the Canadian tribes and the French settlers. the aim of Chainplain,” Parkman says,

as of his successors, to persuade the threatened and endangered hordes to live at peace with each other, and to form against the common foe a virtual league of which the French colony would be the heart and the head, and which would continually widen with the widening area of discovery. With French soldiers to fight their battles, French priests to baptise them, and French traders to supply their increasing wants, their dependence would be complete.”

What Champlain began so early in the seventeenth century was continued with more or less spirit throughout its course. Frontenac, as a ruler, was a greater Champlain, and fifty years

"It was

« السابقةمتابعة »