« ForrigeFortsett »
one ordered by Napoleon himself during the Hundred Days, and for which he sat, but after Waterloo he was no longer in a situation to be able to take it, and no one else cared to purchase a picture of the fallen Emperor, so that the artist could not dispose of it as he wished to do. Sir Robert Wilson, an old friend of my father, being then in Paris, heard of this and wrote to my father that if he wished to have the picture he could buy it for him at a moderate price, which my father desired him to do. M. de Flahault, who was one of Napoleon's aides-de-camp at Waterloo and accompanied him in his flight, was often here (at Howick] afterwards, and told me that this picture was exceedingly like Napoleon, as he was when it was painted, though so little like him in the early days of his career.'
Enough has now been said to indicate the nature of the contents of these volumes and the scheme of which they form a part. In how many volumes that scheme will be completed at the present rate of progress it would be rash to predict, but in conclusion it may be observed that the work of John Hodgson is being satisfactorily continued, and that the Northumberland County History Committee may fairly be congratulated upon the results which have so far attended their public-spirited efforts.
ART. VIII.-1. The Great Company : being a History of the
Honourable Company of Merchants Adventurers trading into
Elder, & Co., 1899. 2. The Remarkable History of the Hudson's Bay Company, in
cluding that of the French Traders of North-Western Canada, and of the North-West, X Y, and Astor Fur Companies. By GEORGE BRYCE, M.A., LL.D., Professor in Manitoba College, Winnipeg. London: Sampson Low
& Co. 1900. 3. The Hudson's Bay Company's Land Tenures and the Occu
pation of Assiniboia by Lord Selkirk's Settlers. By ARCHER MARTIN, Barrister-at-law of the Canadian Bar. London:
W. Clowes & Sons, Limited, 1898. 4. The North-West under Three Flags. By CHARLES MOORE.
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1900. 5. Narrative and Critical History of America. Edited by
JUSTIN WINSOR. In 8 vols. Vol. VIII. London :
Sampson Low & Co., 1889. AS 8 the colonies come to be recognised less as mere out
growths of the Mother-country, separate communities with aims and aspirations of their own, attached to Great Britain by a slender tie, and more as integral, though distant, portions of one great nation with various autonomous divisions in various portions of the world, so does the interest in the beginnings of these colonies increase. There are also reasons known to every Englishman why, in the present year, the people of the Mother-country are much in sympathy with the younger branches of the race beyond the seas. So that nothing could have been more fitting than that two works on the history of the Hudson's Bay Company should have recently been published. The history of that corporation is in a great measure a history of one portion of Canada. In the singular mixture of exploration, dominion, commerce, and adventure extending over two centuries there is to be read a story of national developement and of a slowly extending civilisation which can scarcely be matched in any other part of the world. In the dealings between sharp-witted European traders and simple Indians, in the petty fights between French and English, between rival parties of adventurous Britons for forts and trading posts, there is often some meanness and discredit. But making VOL, OXCII, NO. OCCXCIII,
all allowance for these blots, the unflinching perseverance and courage, the steady undauntedness with which the storms of the Atlantic were year after year braved in sailing craft of a few hundred tons, the patience which endured solitary Arctic winters, the courage with which miles of dreary forest and stormy inland seas were passed by English and Scotch alike, form a remarkable and a splendid chapter in the history of British expansion. The history of Lower Canada is inseparably bound up with the tale of French colonisation in the New World. It is in the same picturesque source that we see the beginnings of the Hudson's Bay Company and of the North-West of the Dominion of Canada.
The founders of the Hudson's Bay Company, a corporation which, as it grew and developed, became the most powerful antagonist of France in the New World, were, by a curious irony of fate, two young Frenchmen, Médard Chouart and Pierre Esprit Radisson. Whether they were ever servants or agents of the chief trading company of French Canada, La Compagnie des Cents Associés, to which a charter was granted by Richelieu in 1627, seems somewhat doubtful. Nor, perhaps, does it matter much.
Chouart, the son of a Breton pilot, was born in France near Meaux, and when but sixteen years of age, impelled by that love of adventure which carried so many of the hardy inhabitants of Western France across the Atlantic, he emigrated to Quebec. This was in 1641. Chouart at once became a lay assistant to the fathers attached to the Jesuit missions of Lake Huron. In time he became a trader in these remote regions. Then he adopted the name of Des Grosseilliers, by which he is always known in Canadian history, taking it from a small estate bequeathed to him by his father. The wife whom he had married about this time soon died, but it was not long before he found another, thereby not a little influencing the future of the NorthWest.
Within a year of his wife's death there arrived in the colony a brother and sister named Pierre and Marguerite Radisson, Huguenots of good family, who had been so persistently hounded in France by the persecution which sought to exterminate their community, that the one key of happiness had seemed to them to lie beyond the seas. No sooner had their father died than they bade farewell to France and sailed for Canada, there to start a new life amidst new and more tranquil surroundings.
With this couple young Grosseilliers soon struck up an acquaintance; and so rapidly did the intimacy ripen, that before long he was united to the sister in matrimony, and to the brother in partnership
for the pursuit of commercial adventure. The double union proved doubly fortunate ; for Marguerite seems to have made a well-suited wife, and Pierre, though in birth and education superior to Grosseilliers, was no whit less hardy and adventurous, nor in any respect less fitted for the arduous tasks which their rough life imposed upon them. The two speedily became fast friends and associates in enterprise, and thus united they soon took their place as the leading spirits of the settlement at Three Rivers.'
Radisson presently lost his wife, and he, too, married again, this time the daughter of an English Protestant who afterwards became Sir John Kirk, and to whose brother Champlain thirty years before had surrendered Quebec. The alliance with an English family was doubtless one important cause of the subsequent conduct both of Radisson and Grosseilliers. The adventures and the explorations of Radisson around Lake Superior, of which he himself wrote a description, form a remarkable chapter in the early history of Upper Canada. We could have wished that Mr. Beckles Willson had treated them at length. Starting, in 1658, on what is known as Radisson's third voyage, the adventurous pair made an exploration around Lake Huron, wintered on the south-west shores of Lake Michigan, and wandered even to the head waters of the streams which flow into the Mississippi. It has been said that they were the discoverers of it, but their thoughts and ambitions were
directed northwards towards Hudson's Bay, and they left to * those who came after them the discovery and mapping of the
great waterway.'ť In 1661-partly as explorers and partly as traders--they resumed the westward travel. The previous expedition had been very successful, and this time the French officials seem to have desired to take part in the adventure. But throughout their lives these self-reliant Bretons hated official restraint, and they started alone on their journey to the North-West. They passed up Lake Huron, ascended the St. Mary River, as that narrow portion of the lake is called which unites Lakes Superior and Huron. On the lands above the Falls of St. Mary, where Superior joins Huron, and which were thronged by Indians busy in the pursuit of the white fish, they rested for a time, and then turned to the exploration of the long coasts of Superior. They wintered at Chequamegon Bay, a gathering-place for Indians from the four points of the compass; best of all
• The Great Company, vol. i. p. 10.
from the north came the Christinos, who filled the willing ears of the Frenchmen with tales of the immense riches in « furs of the lands about Hudson's Bay.' Returning in 1662 with a great harvest of pelts, the two explorers were arrested for trading without a licence, and were heavily fined. It is not very clear what action Grosseilliers now took; it would seem that he endeavoured to enlist the assistance of the Company of the Hundred Associates in a plan to open up a route by way of Lake Superior to Hudson's Bay, and to establish a trade with the Northern Indians in the rich fur region between the lake and the sea. But neither argument,
entreaty, nor prognostications of danger would induce the French officials to entertain Grosseillier's proposals. Undaunted by this refusal, Grosseilliers carried his scheme to Boston, but again without success. There, joined by Radisson, he crossed the Atlantic and sought for support in Paris. He was, perhaps, too much of a trader and too little of an apostle to obtain assistance in France; for, to a large extent, the motive of the aid rendered by the Court or those who held influential positions in France to the explorers of the New World had been zeal for proselytising. In the French capital, however, there chanced at the time to be a Colonel Law, whom Grosseilliers had met in Boston, and who seems to have sympathised with his plans. By him he was introduced to the English Ambassador, Lord Arlington, and in May 1667 he appeared in London with a letter of recommendation from Arlington to Prince Rupert.t It was summer before the two adventurers had a personal interview with the Prince, but once in possession of their views Rupert took them up warmly. The spirit which had animated the Elizabethan sea-rovers was still existent, and the gentlemen of Charles II.'s pleasure-loving Court were not less eager than their forefathers to have a hand in any adventure beyond the seas which promised them profit. The attractions of the Spanish Main were transferred to the Arctic Ocean. London welcomed the men whom Quebec and Paris had coldly repelled.
The preparations for the adventure were quickly made, * The North-West under Three Flags, p. 21.
+ This is the story as given by Mr. Willson ; Professor Bryce's account is different, and gives the credit of the introduction of the Frenchmen to Sir George Carteret. The difference in the two books is noticeable, but at the same time not material ; the main point is that Radisson and Des Grosseilliers were put into communication with Prince Rupert.