The total population did not much exceed two hundred, including women and children. Of this number, by far the greater part were agents of the fur company known as the Hundred Associates, and men in their employ.
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A considerable reinforcement came out with Montmagny, and among the rest several men of birth and substance, with their families and dependants. “It was a sight to thank God for,” exclaims Father Le Jeune, “to behold these delicate young ladies and these tender infants issuing from their wooden prison, like day from the shades of night.” The Father, it will be remembered, had for some years past seen nothing but squaws, with papooses swathed like mummies and strapped to a board.
He was even more pleased with the contents of a huge packet of letters that was placed in his hands, bearing the signatures of nuns, priests, soldiers, courtiers, and princesses. A great interest in the mission had been kindled in France. Le Jeune’s printed Relations had been read with avidity; and his Jesuit brethren, who, as teachers, preachers, and confessors, had spread themselves through the nation, had successfully fanned the rising flame. The Father Superior finds no words for his joy. “Heaven,” he exclaims, “is the conductor of this enterprise. Nature’s arms are not long enough to touch so many hearts.” [“C’est Dieu qui conduit cette entreprise. La Nature n’a pas les bras assez longs,” etc. — Relation, 1636, 3.] He reads how in a single convent, thirteen nuns have devoted themselves by a vow to the work of converting the Indian women and children; how, in the church of Montmartre, a nun lies prostrate day and night before the altar, praying for the mission; [Brébeuf, Relation des Hurons, 1636, 76.] how “the Carmelites are all on fire, the Ursulines full of zeal, the sisters of the Visitation have no words to speak their ardor”; [Le Jeune, Relation, 1636, 6. Compare “Divers Sentimens,” appended to the Relation of 1635.] how some person unknown, but blessed of Heaven, means to found a school for Huron children; how the Duchesse d’Aiguillon has sent out six workmen to build a hospital for the Indians; how, in every house of the Jesuits, young priests turn eager eyes towards Canada; and how, on the voyage thither, the devils raised a tempest, endeavoring, in vain fury, to drown the invaders of their American domain.
[“L’Enfer enrageant de nous veoir aller en la Nouuelle France pour conuertir les infidelles et diminuer sa puissance, par dépit il sousleuoit tous les Elemens contre nous, et vouloit abysmer la flotte.” — Divers Sentimens.]
Great was Le Jeune’s delight at the exalted rank of some of those who gave their patronage to the mission; and again and again his satisfaction flows from his pen in mysterious allusions to these eminent persons. [Among his correspondents was the young Duc d’Enghien, afterwards the Great Condé, at this time fifteen years old. “Dieu soit loüé! tout le ciel de nostre chere Patrie nous promet de fauorables influences, iusques ŕ ce nouuel astre, qui commence ŕ paroistre parmy ceux de la premiere grandeur.” — Le Jeune, Relation, 1636, 3, 4.] In his eyes, the vicious imbecile who sat on the throne of France was the anointed champion of the Faith, and the cruel and ambitious priest who ruled king and nation alike was the chosen instrument of Heaven. Church and State, linked in alliance close and potential, played faithfully into each other’s hands; and that enthusiasm, in which the Jesuit saw the direct inspiration of God, was fostered by all the prestige of royalty and all the patronage of power. And, as often happens where the interests of a hierarchy are identified with the interests of a ruling class, religion was become a fashion, as graceful and as comforting as the courtier’s embroidered mantle or the court lady’s robe of fur.
Such, we may well believe, was the complexion of the enthusiasm which animated some of Le Jeune’s noble and princely correspondents. But there were deeper fervors, glowing in the still depths of convent cells, and kindling the breasts of their inmates with quenchless longings. Yet we hear of no zeal for the mission among religious communities of men. The Jesuits regarded the field as their own, and desired no rivals. They looked forward to the day when Canada should be another Paraguay. [“Que si celuy qui a escrit cette lettre a leu la Relation de ce qui se passe au Paraguais, qu’il a veu ce qui se fera un jour en la Nouuelle France.” — Le Jeune, Relation, 1637, 304 (Cramoisy).] It was to the combustible hearts of female recluses that the torch was most busily applied; and here, accordingly, blazed forth a prodigious and amazing flame. “If all had their pious will,” writes Le Jeune, “Quebec would soon be flooded with nuns.” [Chaulmer. Le Nouveau Monde Chrestien, 41, is eloquent on this theme.]
Both Montmagny and De Lisle were half churchmen, for both were Knights of Malta. More and more the powers spiritual engrossed the colony. As nearly as might be, the sword itself was in priestly hands. The Jesuits were all in all. Authority, absolute and without appeal, was vested in a council composed of the governor, Le Jeune, and the syndic, an official supposed to represent the interests of the inhabitants. [Le Clerc, Établissement de la Foy, Chap. XV.] There was no tribunal of justice, and the governor pronounced summarily on all complaints. The church adjoined the fort; and before it was planted a stake bearing a placard with a prohibition against blasphemy, drunkenness, or neglect of mass and other religious rites. To the stake was also attached a chain and iron collar; and hard by was a wooden horse, whereon a culprit was now and then mounted by way of example and warning. [Le Jeune, Relation, 1636, 153, 154 (Cramoisy).] In a community so absolutely priest-governed, overt offences were, however, rare; and, except on the annual arrival of the ships from France, when the rock swarmed with godless sailors, Quebec was a model of decorum, and wore, as its chroniclers tell us, an aspect unspeakably edifying.
In the year 1640, various new establishments of religion and charity might have been seen at Quebec. There was the beginning of a college and a seminary for Huron children, an embryo Ursuline convent, an incipient hospital, and a new Algonquin mission at a place called Sillery, four miles distant. Champlain’s fort had been enlarged and partly rebuilt in stone by Montmagny, who had also laid out streets on the site of the future city, though as yet the streets had no houses. Behind the fort, and very near it, stood the church and a house for the Jesuits. Both were of pine wood: and this year, 1640, both were burned to the ground, to be afterwards rebuilt in stone. The Jesuits, however, continued to occupy their rude mission-house of Notre-Dame des Anges, on the St. Charles, where we first found them.
The country around Quebec was still an unbroken wilderness, with the exception of a small clearing made by the Sieur Giffard on his seigniory of Beauport, another made by M. de Puiseaux between Quebec and Sillery, and possibly one or two feeble attempts in other quarters.  The total population did not much exceed two hundred, including women and children. Of this number, by far the greater part were agents of the fur company known as the Hundred Associates, and men in their employ. Some of these had brought over their families. The remaining inhabitants were priests, nuns, and a very few colonists.
[1 For Giffard, Puiseaux, and other colonists, compare Langevin, Notes sur les Archives de Notre-Dame de Beauport, 5, 6, 7; Ferland, Notes sur les Archives de N. D. de Québec, 22, 24 (1863); Ibid., Cours d’Histoire du Canada, I. 266; Le Jeune, Relation, 1636, 45; Faillon, Histoire de la Colonie Française, I. c. iv., v.]
The Company of the Hundred Associates was bound by its charter to send to Canada four thousand colonists before the year 1643. [See “Pioneers of France,” 399.] It had neither the means nor the will to fulfill this engagement. Some of its members were willing to make personal sacrifices for promoting the missions, and building up a colony purely Catholic. Others thought only of the profits of trade; and the practical affairs of the company had passed entirely into the hands of this portion of its members. They sought to evade obligations the fulfillment of which would have ruined them. Instead of sending out colonists, they granted lands with the condition that the grantees should furnish a certain number of settlers to clear and till them, and these were to be credited to the Company.  The grantees took the land, but rarely fulfilled the condition. Some of these grants were corrupt and iniquitous. Thus, a son of Lauson, president of the Company, received, in the name of a third person, a tract of land on the south side of the St. Lawrence of sixty leagues front. To this were added all the islands in that river, excepting those of Montreal and Orleans, together with the exclusive right of fishing in it through its whole extent.  Lauson sent out not a single colonist to these vast concessions.
[1 This appears in many early grants of the Company. Thus, in a grant to Simon Le Maitre, Jan. 15, 1636, “que les hommes que le dit . . . fera passer en la N. F. tourneront ŕ la décharge de la dite Compagnie,” etc., etc. — See Pičces sur la Tenure Seigneuriale, published by the Canadian government, passim.]
[2 Archives du Séminaire de Villemarie, cited by Faillon, I. 350. Lauson’s father owned Montreal. The son’s grant extended from the River St. Francis to a point far above Montreal. — La Fontaine, Mémoire sur la Famille de Lauson.]
There was no real motive for emigration. No persecution expelled the colonist from his home; for none but good Catholics were tolerated in New France. The settler could not trade with the Indians, except on condition of selling again to the Company at a fixed price. He might hunt, but he could not fish; and he was forced to beg or buy food for years before he could obtain it from that rude soil in sufficient quantity for the wants of his family. The Company imported provisions every year for those in its employ; and of these supplies a portion was needed for the relief of starving settlers. Giffard and his seven men on his seigniory of Beauport were for some time the only settlers — excepting, perhaps, the Hébert family — who could support themselves throughout the year. The rigor of the climate repelled the emigrant; nor were the attractions which Father Le Jeune held forth — “piety, freedom, and independence” — of a nature to entice him across the sea, when it is remembered that this freedom consisted in subjection to the arbitrary will of a priest and a soldier, and in the liability, should he forget to go to mass, of being made fast to a post with a collar and chain, like a dog.
Aside from the fur trade of the Company, the whole life of the colony was in missions, convents, religious schools, and hospitals. Here on the rock of Quebec were the appendages, useful and otherwise, of an old-established civilization. While as yet there were no inhabitants, and no immediate hope of any, there were institutions for the care of children, the sick, and the decrepit. All these were supported by a charity in most cases precarious. The Jesuits relied chiefly on the Company, who, by the terms of their patent, were obliged to maintain religious worship.  Of the origin of the convent, hospital, and seminary I shall soon have occasion to speak.
[1 It is a principle of the Jesuits, that each of its establishments shall find a support of its own, and not be a burden on the general funds of the Society. The Relations are full of appeals to the charity of devout persons in behalf of the missions.
“Of what use to the country at this period could have been two communities of cloistered nuns?” asks the modern historian of the Ursulines of Quebec. And he answers by citing the words of Pope Gregory the Great, who, when Rome was ravaged by famine, pestilence, and the barbarians, declared that his only hope was in the prayers of the three thousand nuns then assembled in the holy city. — Les Ursulines de Québec. Introd., XI.]
Quebec wore an aspect half military, half monastic. At sunrise and sunset, a squad of soldiers in the pay of the Company paraded in the fort; and, as in Champlain’s time, the bells of the church rang morning, noon, and night. Confessions, masses, and penances were punctiliously observed; and, from the governor to the meanest laborer, the Jesuit watched and guided all. The social atmosphere of New England itself was not more suffocating. By day and by night, at home, at church, or at his daily work, the colonist lived under the eyes of busy and over-zealous priests. At times, the denizens of Quebec grew restless. In 1639, deputies were covertly sent to beg relief in France, and “to represent the hell in which the consciences of the colony were kept by the union of the temporal and spiritual authority in the same hands.” [“Pour leur representer la gehenne oů estoient les consciences de la Colonie, de se voir gouverné par les mesmes personnes pour le spirituel et pour le temporel.” — Le Clerc, I. 478.] In 1642, partial and ineffective measures were taken, with the countenance of Richelieu, for introducing into New France an Order less greedy of seigniories and endowments than the Jesuits, and less prone to political encroachment.  No favorable result followed; and the colony remained as before, in a pitiful state of cramping and dwarfing vassalage.
[1 Declaration de Pierre Breant, par devant les Notaires du Roy, MS. The Order was that of the Capuchins, who, like the Récollets, are a branch of the Franciscans. Their introduction into Canada was prevented; but they established themselves in Maine.]
– The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, Chapter 13 by Francis Parkman
The below is from Francis Parkman’s Introduction.
If, at times, it may seem that range has been allowed to fancy, it is so in appearance only; since the minutest details of narrative or description rest on authentic documents or on personal observation.
Faithfulness to the truth of history involves far more than a research, however patient and scrupulous, into special facts. Such facts may be detailed with the most minute exactness, and yet the narrative, taken as a whole, may be unmeaning or untrue. The narrator must seek to imbue himself with the life and spirit of the time. He must study events in their bearings near and remote; in the character, habits, and manners of those who took part in them, he must himself be, as it were, a sharer or a spectator of the action he describes.
With respect to that special research which, if inadequate, is still in the most emphatic sense indispensable, it has been the writer’s aim to exhaust the existing material of every subject treated. While it would be folly to claim success in such an attempt, he has reason to hope that, so far at least as relates to the present volume, nothing of much importance has escaped him. With respect to the general preparation just alluded to, he has long been too fond of his theme to neglect any means within his reach of making his conception of it distinct and true.