« ForrigeFortsett »
PICTURE OF QUEBEC ;
CHAPTER THE FIRST.
The year 1759, so remarkable for the successes of the British arms, and which reflected such lustre upon the expiring reign of George the Second, found the frontiers of Canada the chief seat of war between Great Britain and France. The successful result of a campaign, planned with singular skill, and executed with equal valour and conduct, placed the whole of the French possessions in America under the standard of Great Britain. The capture of the city and Fortress of Quebec, remarkably strong both by nature and art, was an achievement of so romantic a character, so distinguished by chivalrous enterprise, and so fraught with singular adventure, that the interest attending it still remains undiminished, and its glorious recollections unfaded. By the subsequent capitulation, a most important Province was wrested from the French, and reduced under the British sceptre—the population of which, fostered by the strength and generosity of British protection,
has grown from seventy thousand to half a million of souls, enjoying a degree of rational liberty and happiness unequalled on the surface of the globe. Not less in an historical than in a national point of view, the battle of the Plains of Abraham calls up the proudest feelings of patriotic exultation. The various advantages derived by the empire from the accession of so large a territory, are not more obvious to the statesman, than the virtue and heroism of the youthful leader of the expedition, and the bravery of his troops, are themes of just pride to the lover of his country. Young in years, but mature in experience, WOLFE possessed all the liberal virtues, in addition to a perfect, an enthusiastic knowledge of the military art; with a sublimity of genius always the distinguishing mark of minds above the ordinary level of mankind. His glorious and lamented death in the arms of victory—together with that of his gallant antagonist, MONTCALM, by whom nothing was omitted in the power of an able and zealous officer to perform,-have thrown a classic celebrity around the subject of the present volume, and render Quebec an object of attention and curiosity to the intelligent of every country.
Whatever may be the future destiny of this remarkable city, whether as the Metropolis of the flourishing Colonies of British North America, the Royal Standard of Great Britain shall continue to wave for ages over the battlements of its Citadel quod sit Diis visum !—or whether in the course of time a new and independent empire shall spring up on this Continent, allied to and connected with Great Britain by the remembrance of past benefits, the enjoyment of free institutions and of reciprocal mercantile advantages, Quebec, either on the ground
of its ancient historic fame, its natural sublimity, or its political and commercial importance, must ever maintain a superior rank among the cities of the western world. Whatever may be thy future destiny, no generous stranger shall hereafter visit thee, QUEBEC, or wander along the classic shores of thy Saint Lawrence, and not gaze on the prospect before him with unrepressed delight-no liberal mind shall be insensible to the beauties of thy locality-none shall leave thee without acknowledging the moral and physical grandeur of thy associations, and without feeling the soul elevated by the recollection of thy bygone glories, both of religion and of arms ! While history blushes for the cruelties which tarnished the Spanish occupation of Hispaniola—and while, in Mexico and Peru, Cortes and Pizarro sullied their glory, and moved the horror of Las Casas, by a war of extermination against the heathen tenants of the soil—here in Quebec was established from the earliest period at which the Colony acquired strength, an organized system for the conversion and civilisation of the Aborigines, by means of the Cross, not of the sword. Here peaceful pursuits were chiefly followed, and a friendly intercourse maintained with the savages by means of zealous Priests, who plunged fearlessly into the trackless forest, imparting to the wild hunter the practical results of the arts of civilisation, and the holy inspirations of revealed religion. The attachment of the French to the Indian tribes among whom they were thrown, may be justly supposed to have sprung from the hospitable reception which the early settlers met with from the natives on their first coming to the land. The very earliest record, indeed, places them in the most amiable light; and leads to the mortifying conclu
sion, that Europeans, generally speaking, either never discovered the true methods of conciliation, or that they seldom remembered them in practice. The incident alluded to occurred in the second voyage of Verazzano, in 1525, and is to be found originally in Ramusio, Vol. III. p. 421. At the desire of Verazzano, a young sailor had undertaken to swim to land and accost the natives ; but when he saw the crowds which thronged the beach, he repented of his purpose, and although within a few yards of the landing place, his courage failed, and he attempted to turn back. At this moment the water only reached his waist ; but overcome with terror and exhaustion, he had scarcely strength to cast his presents and trinkets upon the beach, when a high wave threw him senseless on the shore.
The savages ran immediately to his assistance, took him up in their arms, and carried him a short distance from the
Great was his terror when, upon recovering his recollection, he found himself entirely in their power. Stretching his hands towards the ship, he uttered piercing cries, to which the natives replied by loud yells intended, as he afterwards found, to reassure him. They then carried him to the foot of a hill, stripped him naked, turned his face to the
sun, and kindled a large fire near him. He was fully impressed with the horrible thought that they were about to sacrifice him to the sun: his companions on board, unable to render him any assistance, were of the same opinion. They thought, to use Verazzano's own words, “ that the natives were going to roast and eat him.” Their fears, however, were turned to gratitude and astonishment: the savages dried his clothes, warmed him, and showed him every mark of kindness, caressing and patting his white skin
with apparent surprise. They then dressed him, conducted him to the beach, tenderly embraced him, and pointing to the vessel, removed to a little distance to show that he was at liberty to return to his friends. Thus did the untutored Indians treat the first European they had seen with true Christian charity--the philanthropist laments to add, that it is doubtful whether violence was not offered to the first of our red brethren who fell into the power of the white dispensers of civilisation. The efforts of the Jesuits for the conversion and instruction of the savagesthe universal kindness and benevolence of the Missionaries wherever they succeeded in establishing themselves, perpetuated this friendly spirit towards the French among the neighboring Indians, so often exemplified in the annals of the country, and which remained after the cession of the Province in 1763. A proof of this feeling may yet be found in the Huron Village and establishment of Lorette, where the remnant of those Aborigines were protected by the French ; and where they survive at this day, shorn, it is true, of their ancient power and dominion over the forest, but still entertaining friendship and respect for, and receiving protection from those who now rule the land of their forefathers. It may be well questioned, whether an Indian settlement so situated, under the very walls, as it were, of the capital, can now be found in any province or part of the western hemisphere. These are some of the peaceful and moral glories which throw such interest around the history and locality of Quebec. As to her claims to military renown, it need only be remembered, that it has been the peculiar fortune of Quebec to be the arena of a conflict which affected the strength and influence of two of the most powerful