Peace and harmony reigned within the little fort.
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Let us now ascend to the island of Montreal. Here, as we have seen, an association of devout and zealous persons had essayed to found a mission-colony under the protection of the Holy Virgin; and we left the adventurers, after their landing, bivouacked on the shore, on an evening in May. There was an altar in the open air, decorated with a taste that betokened no less of good nurture than of piety; and around it clustered the tents that sheltered the commandant, Maisonneuve, the two ladies, Madame de la Peltrie and Mademoiselle Mance, and the soldiers and laborers of the expedition.
In the morning they all fell to their work, Maisonneuve hewing down the first tree, — and labored with such good-will, that their tents were soon enclosed with a strong palisade, and their altar covered by a provisional chapel, built, in the Huron mode, of bark. Soon afterward, their canvas habitations were supplanted by solid structures of wood, and the feeble germ of a future city began to take root.
The Iroquois had not yet found them out; nor did they discover them till they had had ample time to fortify themselves. Meanwhile, on a Sunday, they would stroll at their leisure over the adjacent meadow and in the shade of the bordering forest, where, as the old chronicler tells us, the grass was gay with wild-flowers, and the branches with the flutter and song of many strange birds. 
[1: Dollier de Casson, MS.]
The day of the Assumption of the Virgin was celebrated with befitting solemnity. There was mass in their bark chapel; then a Te Deum; then public instruction of certain Indians who chanced to be at Montreal; then a procession of all the colonists after vespers, to the admiration of the redskinned beholders. Cannon, too, were fired, in honor of their celestial patroness. “Their thunder made all the island echo,” writes Father Vimont; “and the demons, though used to thunderbolts, were scared at a noise which told them of the love we bear our great Mistress; and I have scarcely any doubt that the tutelary angels of the savages of New France have marked this day in the calendar of Paradise.” 
[2: Vimont, Relation, 1642, 38. Compare Le Clerc, Premier Etablissement de la Foy, II. 51.]
The summer passed prosperously, but with the winter their faith was put to a rude test. In December, there was a rise of the St. Lawrence, threatening to sweep away in a night the results of all their labor. They fell to their prayers; and Maisonneuve planted a wooden cross in face of the advancing deluge, first making a vow, that, should the peril be averted, he, Maisonneuve, would bear another cross on his shoulders up the neighboring mountain, and place it on the summit. The vow seemed in vain. The flood still rose, filled the fort ditch, swept the foot of the palisade, and threatened to sap the magazine; but here it stopped, and presently began to recede, till at length it had withdrawn within its lawful channel, and Villemarie was safe. 
[3: A little MS. map in M. Jacques Viger’s copy of Le Petit Registre de la Cure de Montreal, lays down the position and shape of the fort at this time, and shows the spot where Maisonneuve planted the cross.]
Now it remained to fulfil the promise from which such happy results had proceeded. Maisonneuve set his men at work to clear a path through the forest to the top of the mountain. A large cross was made, and solemnly blessed by the priest; then, on the sixth of January, the Jesuit Du Peron led the way, followed in procession by Madame de la Peltrie, the artisans, and soldiers, to the destined spot. The commandant, who with all the ceremonies of the Church had been declared First Soldier of the Cross, walked behind the rest, bearing on his shoulder a cross so heavy that it needed his utmost strength to climb the steep and rugged path. They planted it on the highest crest, and all knelt in adoration before it. Du Peron said mass; and Madame de la Peltrie, always romantic and always devout, received the sacrament on the mountain-top, a spectacle to the virgin world outstretched below. Sundry relics of saints had been set in the wood of the cross, which remained an object of pilgrimage to the pious colonists of Villemarie. 
[4: Vimont, Relation, 1643, 52, 53.]
Peace and harmony reigned within the little fort; and so edifying was the demeanor of the colonists, so faithful were they to the confessional, and so constant at mass, that a chronicler of the day exclaims, in a burst of enthusiasm, that the deserts lately a resort of demons were now the abode of angels.  The two Jesuits who for the time were their pastors had them well in hand. They dwelt under the same roof with most of their flock, who lived in community, in one large house, and vied with each other in zeal for the honor of the Virgin and the conversion of the Indians.
[5: Véritables Motifs, cited by Faillon, I. 453, 454.]
At the end of August, 1643, a vessel arrived at Villemarie with a reinforcement commanded by Louis d’Ailleboust de Coulonges, a pious gentleman of Champagne, and one of the Associates of Montreal.  Some years before, he had asked in wedlock the hand of Barbe de Boulogne; but the young lady had, when a child, in the ardor of her piety, taken a vow of perpetual chastity. By the advice of her Jesuit confessor, she accepted his suit, on condition that she should preserve, to the hour of her death, the state to which Holy Church has always ascribed a peculiar merit.  D’Ailleboust married her; and when, soon after, he conceived the purpose of devoting his life to the work of the Faith in Canada, he invited his maiden spouse to go with him. She refused, and forbade him to mention the subject again. Her health was indifferent, and about this time she fell ill. As a last resort, she made a promise to God, that, if He would restore her, she would go to Canada with her husband; and forthwith her maladies ceased. Still her reluctance continued; she hesitated, and then refused again, when an inward light revealed to her that it was her duty to cast her lot in the wilderness. She accordingly embarked with d’Ailleboust, accompanied by her sister, Mademoiselle Philippine de Boulogne, who had caught the contagion of her zeal. The presence of these damsels would, to all appearance, be rather a burden than a profit to the colonists, beset as they then were by Indians, and often in peril of starvation; but the spectacle of their ardor, as disinterested as it was extravagant, would serve to exalt the religious enthusiasm in which alone was the life of Villemarie.
[6: Chaulmer, 101; Juchereau, 91.]
[7: Juchereau, Histoire de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, 276. The confessor told D’Ailleboust, that, if he persuaded his wife to break her vow of continence, “God would chastise him terribly.” The nun historian adds, that, undeterred by the menace, he tried and failed.]
Their vessel passed in safety the Iroquois who watched the St. Lawrence, and its arrival filled the colonists with joy. D’Ailleboust was a skillful soldier, specially versed in the arts of fortification; and, under his direction, the frail palisades which formed their sole defense were replaced by solid ramparts and bastions of earth. He brought news that the “unknown benefactress,” as a certain generous member of the Association of Montreal was called, in ignorance of her name, had given funds, to the amount, as afterwards appeared, of forty-two thousand livres, for the building of a hospital at Villemarie.  Instead, therefore, of tilling the land to supply their own pressing needs, all the laborers of the settlement were set at this pious, though superfluous, task.  There was no room in the fort, which, moreover, was in danger of inundation; and the hospital was accordingly built on higher ground adjacent. To leave it unprotected would be to abandon its inmates to the Iroquois; it was therefore surrounded by a strong palisade, and, in time of danger, a part of the garrison was detailed to defend it. Here Mademoiselle Mance took up her abode, and waited the day when wounds or disease should bring patients to her empty wards.
[8: Archives du Séminaire de Villemarie, cited by Faillon, I. 466. The amount of the gift was not declared until the next year.]
[9: Journal des Supérieurs des Jésuites, MS. The hospital was sixty feet long and twenty-four feet wide, with a kitchen, a chamber for Mademoiselle Mance, others for servants, and two large apartments for the patients. It was amply provided with furniture, linen, medicines, and all necessaries; and had also two oxen, three cows, and twenty sheep. A small oratory of stone was built adjoining it. The inclosure was four arpents in extent. — Archives du Séminaire de Villemarie, cited by Faillon.]
The source of the gift was kept secret, from a religious motive; but it soon became known that it proceeded from Madame de Bullion, a lady whose rank and wealth were exceeded only by her devotion. It is true that the hospital was not wanted, as no one was sick at Villemarie and one or two chambers would have sufficed for every prospective necessity; but it will be remembered that the colony had been established in order that a hospital might be built, and Madame de Bullion would not hear to any other application of her money. 
[10 :Mademoiselle Mance wrote to her, to urge that the money should be devoted to the Huron mission; but she absolutely refused. Dollier de Casson, MS.]
Dauversičre, who had first conceived this plan of a hospital in the wilderness, was a senseless enthusiast, who rejected as a sin every protest of reason against the dreams which governed him; yet one rational and practical element entered into the motives of those who carried the plan into execution. The hospital was intended not only to nurse sick Frenchmen, but to nurse and convert sick Indians; in other words, it was an engine of the mission.
From Maisonneuve to the humblest laborer, these zealous colonists were bent on the work of conversion. To that end, the ladies made pilgrimages to the cross on the mountain, sometimes for nine days in succession, to pray God to gather the heathen into His fold. The fatigue was great; nor was the danger less; and armed men always escorted them, as a precaution against the Iroquois.  The male colonists were equally fervent; and sometimes as many as fifteen or sixteen persons would kneel at once before the cross, with the same charitable petition.  The ardor of their zeal may be inferred from the fact, that these pious expeditions consumed the greater part of the day, when time and labor were of a value past reckoning to the little colony.
[11: Morin, Annales de l’Hôtel-Dieu de St. Joseph, MS., cited by Faillon, I. 457.]
[12: Marguerite Bourgeoys, Écrits Autographes, MS., extracts in Faillon, I. 458.]
– The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, Chapter 18 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.