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THE GREEN BAY MISSION.It may be remembered that, many years before, the company had ceded its monopoly of the fur trade to the inhabitants of the colony, in consideration of that annual payment in beaver-skins which had been so tardily and so rarely made. The direction of the trade had at that time been placed in the hands of a council composed of the governor, the superior of the Jesuits, and several other members. Various changes had since taken place, and the trade was now controlled by another council, established without the consent of the company, * and composed of the principal persons in the colony. The members of this council, with certain
**** Mmoire de 1664 (anonymous)Next, we find him at Montreal. In another volume, we have seen how an association of enthusiastic devotees had made a settlement at this place. Having in some measure accomplished its work, it was now dissolved; and the corporation of priests, styled the Seminary of St. Sulpice, which had taken a prominent part in the enterprise, and, indeed, had been created with a view to it, was now the proprietor and the feudal lord of Montreal. It was destined to retain its seignorial rights until the abolition of the feudal tenures of Canada in our own day, and it still holds vast possessions in the city and island. These worthy ecclesiastics, models of a discreet and sober conservatism, were holding a post with which a band of veteran soldiers or warlike frontiersmen would have been better matched. Montreal was perhaps the most dangerous place in Canada. In time [Pg 11] of war, which might have been called the normal condition of the colony, it was exposed by its position to incessant inroads of the Iroquois, or Five Nations, of New York; and no man could venture into the forests or the fields without bearing his life in his hand. The savage confederates had just received a sharp chastisement at the hands of Courcelle, the governor; and the result was a treaty of peace which might at any moment be broken, but which was an inexpressible relief while it lasted.
To the mind of the Puritan, heaven was God's throne; but no less was the earth His footstool: and each in its degree and its kind had its demands on man. He held it a duty to labor and to multiply; and, building on the Old Testament quite as much as on the New, thought that a reward on earth as well as in heaven awaited those who were faithful to the law. Doubtless, such a belief is widely open to abuse, and it would be folly to pretend that it escaped abuse in New England; but there was in it an element manly, healthful, and invigorating. On the other hand, those who shaped the character, and in great measure the destiny, of New France had always on their lips the nothingness and the vanity of life. For them, time was nothing but a preparation for eternity, and the highest virtue consisted in a renunciation of all the cares, toils, and interests of earth. That such a doctrine has often been joined to an intense worldliness, all history proclaims; but with this we have at present nothing to do. If all mankind acted on it in good faith, the world would sink into decrepitude. It is the monastic idea carried into the wide field of active life, and is like the error of those 330 who, in their zeal to cultivate their higher nature, suffer the neglected body to dwindle and pine, till body and mind alike lapse into feebleness and disease. * Le Mercier, Relation, 1653, 3.
Canadian geology is well known, tells me that the shores of
For other proofs concerning this locality, see ante, 239.