Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

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 dis-pensers 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

and highly civilised nations of the old world, Great Britain and France. Quebec is the only city on the North American Continent which has been regularly fortified, and which has resisted the sieges and assaults of disciplined troops. When it last fell, the whole French system of colonial empire fell with it—a system which, had it been followed with vigor equal to the conception, might have proved fatal to the interests of the English colonists-and a colonial empire which extended from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the mouth of the Mississippi. The result of this conflict, and the circumstances which achieved that result, render Quebec peculiarly interesting to every true Briton; while the consequences, so favorable to the liberty of the subject, and the full development of the resources of the colony, have converted the field of military defeat into a scene of civil triumph in the estimation of every loyal Canadian. To either race the ground is sacred. To the one, the Plains of Abraham are at once the Hastings and the Runnimede of the other. By our brethren of the Union, the site of Quebec cannot be visited without peculiar interest. The great event which consecrated the Heights of Abraham, while it for ever extinguished French dominion in America, established the security of the English colonists of that day, and eventually laid the foundation of the present gigantic republic.

The scenic beauty of Quebec has been the theme of general eulogy. The majestic appearance of Cape Diamond and the fortifications—the cupolas and minarets, like those of an eastern city, blazing and sparkling in the sun—the loveliness of the panorama--the noble basin, like a sheet of purest silver, in which might ride with safety an hundred sail of the line-the graceful meandering of the River St. Charles—the numerous village spires on either side of the St. Lawrence-the fertile fields dotted with innumerable cottages, the abodes of a rich and moral peasantry—the distant Falls of Montmorency -the park-like scenery of Pointe Levi—the beauteous Isle of Orleans—and more distant still, the frowning Cap Tourment, and the lofty range of purple mountains of the most picturesque forms which bound the prospect, unite to make a coup d'æil, which, without exaggeration, is scarcely to be surpassed in any part of the world. If the scientific traveller, amid the sensations experienced on scanning the various beauties of the scene, should recall to mind, in ascending the highest elevation of the promontory, that he is standing upon the margin of the primeval and interminable forest, extending from a narrow selvage of civilisation to the Arctic regions, he will admit that the position of Quebec is unique in itself, and that in natural sublimity it stands, as to the cities of the continent, unrivalled, and alone.

CHAPTER THE SECOND.

HISTORICAL SKETCH OF DISCOVERY PREVIOUS TO THE

TIME OF JACQUES CARTIER.

BEFORE we proceed to the descriptive portion of our volume, it has been thought necessary to give a sketch of the progress of maritime discovery in this part of the continent, with historical notices and recollections connected with the capital of British North America. The original volumes in which the voyages of the discoverers, and the early annals of the country are to be found, are not always easy of access by general readers ; many being contained in scarce and costly works, or in the scattered fragments of more recondite authorities. The present essay has therefore been compiled to furnish a comprehensive manual of the progress of civilisation in the Province, as an appropriate introduction to the immediate object of this publication. Although this subject has been treated by various authors, whose books are familiar to the public, we trust that some new matter, or some facts placed in a novel point of view, will be found to repay the reader for the time bestowed in the perusal of this chapter.

If the existence of the New World, as it has frequently been called, from the late period of its discovery, was unknown to the Ancients, it would seem with some show of reason to have been not altogether unsuspected by them. From several passages it is certain that an idea was entertained, that it was easy to sail from the western coast of Spain to the eastern shores of India. They had, however, no idea of the magnitude of the globe, and imagined that a few days would be sufficient for such a voyage. The existence of an immense continent intervening between

their point of departure and the extreme shores of India, was beyond their conception, as it was of the early European navigators. The object of the first adventurers of whom any thing certain has reached us, was a passage to India, and it may be said that they stumbled upon America in their route. Aristotle, Strabo, Pliny and Seneca entertained the crude opinion mentioned above. Strabo alone seems to have imagined the distance between the two continents, when he says, that the ocean encompasses all the earth ; that in the east it washes the coast of India, and in the west those of Africa and Spain, and that, if the vastness of the Atlantic did not hinder, they might soon sail from the one to the other upon the same parallel.

The following remarkable passage is from the Medea of Seneca, the Tragedian :

Venient annis
Sæcula seris, quibus Oceanus
Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens
Pateat tellus, Tiphysque novos
Detegat orbes, nec sit terris

Ultima Thule.

“ There will come a time in after ages, when “ the ocean will loose the bonds of matter, and

a vast country will be discovered, and a second Tiphys will reveal new worlds, and Thule shall

no longer be the extremity of the earth.” And in a book, ascribed to Aristotle, the Carthagi

« ForrigeFortsett »