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Title: Canadian Notabilities, Volume 1
Author: Dent, John Charles, 1841-1888
Language: English
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Few tasks are more difficult of accomplishment than the overturning of the
ideas and prejudices which have been conceived in our youth, which have
grown up with us to mature age, and which have finally become the settled
convictions of our manhood. The overturning process is none the less
difficult when, as is not seldom the case, those ideas and convictions are
widely at variance with facts. Most of us have grown up with very erroneous
notions respecting the Indian character--notions which have been chiefly
derived from the romances of Cooper and his imitators. We have been
accustomed to regard the aboriginal red man as an incarnation of treachery
and remorseless ferocity, whose favourite recreation is to butcher
defenceless women and children in cold blood. A few of us, led away by the
stock anecdotes in worthless missionary and Sunday School books, have gone
far into the opposite extreme, and have been wont to regard the Indian as
the Noble Savage who never forgets a kindness, who is ever ready to return
good for evil, and who is so absurdly credulous as to look upon the
pale-faces as the natural friends and benefactors of his species. Until
within the last few years, no pen has ventured to write impartially of the
Indian character, and no one has attempted to separate the wheat from the
chaff in the generally received accounts which have come down to us from
our forefathers. The fact is that the Indian is very much what his white
brother has made him. The red man was the original possessor of this
continent, the settlement, of which by Europeans sounded the death-knell
of his sovereignty. The aboriginal could hardly be expected to receive the
intruder with open arms, even if the latter had acted up to his professions
of peace and good-will. It would have argued a spirit of contemptible
abjectness and faintness of heart if the Indian had submitted without a
murmur to the gradual encroachments of the foreigner, even if the latter
had adopted a uniform policy of mildness and conciliation. But the invader
adopted no such policy. Not satisfied with taking forcible possession
of the soil, he took the first steps in that long, sickening course of
treachery and cruelty which has caused the chronicles of the white conquest
in America to be written in characters of blood. The first and most hideous
butcheries were committed by the whites. And if the Indians did not tamely
submit to the yoke sought to be imposed upon their necks, they only acted
as human beings, civilized and uncivilized, have always acted upon like
provocation. Those who have characterized the Indian as inhuman and
fiendish because he put his prisoners to the torture, seem to have
forgotten that the wildest accounts of Indian ferocity pale beside the
undoubtedly true accounts of the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition.
Christian Spain--nay, even Christian England--tortured prisoners with a
diabolical ingenuity which never entered into the heart of a pagan Indian
to conceive. And on this continent, in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, men of English stock performed prodigies of cruelty to which
parallels can be found in the history of the Inquisition alone. For the
terrible records of battle, murder, torture and death, of which the history
of the early settlement of this continent is so largely made up, the white
man and the Christian must be held chiefly responsible. It must, moreover,
be remembered that those records have been written by historians, who have
had every motive for distorting the truth. All the accounts that have
come down to us have been penned by the aggressors themselves, and their
immediate descendants. The Indians have had no chronicler to tell their
version of the story. We all know how much weight should be attached to
a history written by a violent partisan; for instance, a history of the
French Revolution, written by one of the House of Bourbon. The wonder is,
not that the poor Indian should have been blackened and maligned, but that
any attribute of nobleness or humanity should have been accorded to him.

Of all the characters who figure in the dark history of Indian warfare,
few have attained greater notoriety, and none has been more persistently
villified than the subject of this sketch. Joseph Brant was known to us in
the days of our childhood as a firm and staunch ally of the British, it
is true; but as a man embodying in his own person all the demerits and
barbarities of his race, and with no more mercy in his breast than is to be
found in a famished tiger of the jungle. And for this unjust view of his
character American historians are not wholly to blame. Most historians of
that period wrote too near the time when the events they were describing
occurred, for a dispassionate investigation of the truth; and other writers
who have succeeded have been content to follow the beaten track, without
incurring the labour of diligent and calm enquiry. And, as it is too often
the case with writers, historical and other, many of them cared less for
truth than for effect. Even the author of "Gertrude of Wyoming" falsified
history for the sake of a telling stanza in his beautiful poem; and when,
years afterwards, grant's son convinced the poet by documentary evidence
that a grave injustice had been done to his father's memory, the poet
contented himself by merely appending a note which in many editions is
altogether omitted, and in those editions in which it is retained is much
less likely to be read than the text of the poem itself. It was not till
the year 1838 that anything like a comprehensive and impartial account of
the life of Brant appeared. It was written by Colonel William L. Stone,
from whose work the foregoing quotation is taken. Since then, several other
lives have appeared, all of which have done something like justice to the
subject; but they have not been widely read, and to the general public
the name of Brant still calls up visions of smoking villages, raw scalps,
disembowelled women and children, and ruthless brutalities more horrible
still. Not content with attributing to him ferocities of which he never
was guilty, the chronicles have altogether ignored the fairer side of his

  "The evil that men do lives after them;
  The good is oft interred with their bones."

We have carefully gone through all the materials within our reach, and have
compiled a sketch of the life of the Great Chief of the Six Nations, which
we would fain hope may be the means of enabling readers who have not ready
access to large libraries to form something like a fair and dispassionate
estimate of his character.

Joseph Brant--or to give him his Indian name, Thayendanegea--was born in
the year 1742. Authorities are not unanimous as to his paternity, it
being claimed by some that he was a natural son of Sir William Johnson;
consequently that he was not a full-blood Indian, but a half-breed. The
better opinion, however, seems to be that none but Mohawk blood flowed
through his veins, and that his father was a Mohawk of the Wolf Tribe, by
name Tehowaghwengaraghkin. It is not easy to reconcile the conflicting
accounts of this latter personage (whose name we emphatically decline to
repeat), but the weight of authority seems to point to him as a son of one
of the five sachems who attracted so much attention during their visit to
London in Queen Anne's reign, and who were made the subject of a paper
in the _Spectator_ by Addison, and of another in the _Tatler_ by Steele.
Brant's mother was an undoubted Mohawk, and the preponderance of evidence
is in favour of his being a chief by right of inheritance. His parents
lived at Canajoharie Castle, in the far-famed valley of the Mohawk, but at
the time of their son's birth they were far away from home on a hunting
expedition along the banks of the Ohio. His father died not long after
returning from this expedition. We next learn that the widow contracted an
alliance with an Indian whose Christian name was Barnet, which name, in
process of time, came to be corrupted into Brant. The little boy, who had
been called Joseph, thus became known as "Brant's Joseph," from which
the inversion to Joseph Brant is sufficiently obvious. No account of his
childhood have come down to us, and, little or nothing is known of him
until his thirteenth year, when he was taken under the patronage of that
Sir William Johnson, who has by some writers been credited with being his
father. Sir William was the English Colonial Agent for Indian Affairs,
and cuts a conspicuous figure in the colonial annals of the time. His
connection with the Brant family was long and intimate. One of Joseph's
sisters, named Molly, lived with the baronet as his mistress for many
years, and was married to him a short time before his death, in 1774. Sir
William was very partial to young Brant, and took special pains to impart
to him a knowledge of military affairs. It was doubtless this interest
which gave rise to the story that Sir William was his father; a story for
which there seems to be no substantial foundation whatever.

In the year 1755, the memorable battle of Lake George took place between
the French and English colonial forces and their Indian allies. Sir William
Johnson commanded on the side of the English, and young Joseph Brant, then
thirteen years of age, fought under his wing. This was a tender age, even
for the son of an Indian chief, to go out upon the war-path, and he himself
admitted in after years that he was seized with such a tremor when the
firing began at that battle that he was obliged to steady himself by
seizing hold of a sapling. This, however, was probably the first and last
time that he ever knew fear, either in battle or out of it. The history of
his subsequent career has little in it suggestive of timidity. After
the battle of Lake George, where the French were signally defeated, he
accompanied his patron through various campaigns until the close of the
French war, after which he was placed by Sir William at the Moor Charity
School, Lebanon, Connecticut, for the purpose of receiving a liberal
English education. How long he remained at that establishment does not
appear, but he was there long enough to acquire something more than the
mere rudiments of the English language and literature. In after years he
always spoke with pleasure of his residence at this school, and never
wearied of talking of it. He used to relate with much pleasantry an
anecdote of a young half-breed who was a student in the establishment. The
half-breed, whose name was William, was one day ordered by his tutor's son
to saddle a horse. He declined to obey the order, upon the ground that he
was a gentleman's son, and that to saddle a horse was not compatible
with his dignity. Being asked to say what constitutes a gentleman, he
replied--"A gentleman is a person who keeps racehorses and drinks Madeira
wine, and that is what neither you nor your father do. Therefore, saddle
the horse yourself."

In 1763, Thayendanegea, then twenty-one years of age, married the daughter
of an Oneida chief, and two years afterwards we find him settled at
Canajoharie Castle, in Mohawk Valley, where he for some years lived a life
of quiet and peaceful repose, devoting himself to the improvement of the
moral and social condition of his people, and seconding the efforts of
the missionaries for the conversion of the Indians to Christianity. Both
missionaries and others who visited and were intimate with him during this
time were very favourably impressed by him, and have left on record warm
encomiums of his intelligence, good-breeding, and hospitality. Early in
1772 his wife died of consumption, and during the following winter he
applied to an Episcopal minister to solemnize matrimony between himself and
his deceased wife's sister. His application was refused, upon the ground
that such a marriage was contrary to law; but he soon afterwards prevailed
upon a German ecclesiastic to perform the ceremony. Not long afterwards he
became seriously impressed upon the subject of religion, and experienced
certain mental phenomena which in some communities is called "a change of
heart." He enrolled himself as a member of the Episcopal Church, of which
he became a regular communicant. The spiritual element, however, was not
the strongest side of his nature, and his religious impressions were not
deep enough to survive the life of active warfare in which he was soon
afterwards destined to engage. Though he always professed--and probably
believed in--the fundamental truths of Christianity, he became
comparatively indifferent to theological matters, except in so far as they
might be made to conduce to the civilization of his people.

Sir William Johnson died in 1774. He was succeeded in his office of
Colonial Agent for Indian Affairs by his son-in-law, Colonel Guy Johnson.
Brant was as great a favourite with the Colonel as he had been with that
gentleman's predecessor. The new agent required a private secretary, and
appointed Brant to that office. The clouds that had been gathering for
some time over the relations between the mother country and her American
colonies culminated in the great war of the revolution. The Americans,
seeing the importance of conciliating the Six Nations, made overtures to
them to cast in their lot with the revolutionists. These overtures
were made in vain. Brant then and ever afterwards expressed his firm
determination to "sink or swim with the English;" a determination from
which he never for a moment swerved down to the last hour of his life.
Apart altogether from the consideration that all his sympathies impelled
him to adopt this course, he felt himself bound in honour to do so, in
consequence of his having long before pledged his word to Sir William
Johnson to espouse the British side in the event of trouble breaking out in
the colonies. Similar pledges had been given by his fore-fathers. Honour
and inclination both pointed in the same direction, he exerted all his
influence with the native tribes, who did not require much persuasion to
take the royal side. Accordingly when Colonel Guy Johnson fled westward to
avoid being captured by the Americans, Brant and the principal warriors
of the Six Nations accompanied him. The latter formed themselves into a
confederacy, accepted royal commissions, and took a decided stand on the
side of King George. To Brant was assigned the position of Principal War
Chief of the Confederacy, with the military degree of a Captain. The Crown
could not have secured a more efficient ally. He is described at this time
as "distinguished alike for his address, his activity and his courage;
possessing in point of stature and symmetry of person the advantage of most
men even among his own well-formed race; tall, erect and majestic, with
the air and mien of one born to command; having been a man of war from
his boyhood; his name was a power of strength among the warriors of
the wilderness. Still more extensive was his influence rendered by the
circumstance that he had been much employed in the civil service of the
Indian Department under Sir William Johnson, by whom he was often deputed
upon embassies among the tribes of the confederacy; and to those yet more
distant, upon the great lakes and rivers of the north-west, by reason
of which his knowledge of the whole country and people was accurate and

In the autumn of 1775 he sailed for England, to hold personal conference
with the officers of the Imperial Government. Upon his arrival in London he
was received with open arms by the best society. His usual dress was that
of an ordinary English gentleman, but his Court dress was a gorgeous and
costly adaptation of the fashions of his own people. In this latter dress,
at the instigation of that busiest of busybodies James Boswell, he sat to
have his portrait painted. The name of the artist has not been preserved,
nor is the preservation of much importance, as this is the least
interesting of the various pictures of Brant, the expression of the face
being dull and commonplace. A much better portrait of him was painted
during this visit for the Earl of Warwick, the artist being George Romney,
the celebrated painter of historical pictures and portraits. It has been
reproduced by our engraver for these pages.

The effect of this visit was to fully confirm him in his loyalty to the
British Crown. Early in the following spring he set sail on his return
voyage. He was secretly landed on the American coast, not far from New
York, from whence he made his way through a hostile country to Canada at
great peril of his life. Ill would it have fared with him if he had fallen
into the hands of the American soldiery at that time. No such contingency
occurred, however, and he reached his destination in safety. Upon his
arrival in Canada he at once placed himself at the head of the native
tribes, and took part in the battle of "the Cedars," about forty miles
above Montreal. This engagement ended disastrously for the Americans; and
after it was over, Brant did good service to the cause of humanity by
preventing his savage followers from massacring the prisoners. From that
time to the close of the war in 1782, Joseph Brant never ceased his
exertions in the royal cause. From east to west, wherever bullets were
thickest, his glittering tomahawk might be seen in the van, while his
terrific war-whoop resounded above the din of strife. In those stirring
times it is not easy to follow his individual career very closely; but one
episode in it has been so often and so grossly misrepresented that we owe
it to his memory to give some details respecting it. That episode was the
massacre at Wyoming.

This affair of Wyoming can after all scarcely be called an episode in
Brant's career, inasmuch as he was not present at the massacre at all, and
was many miles distant at the time of its occurrence. Still, historians and
poets have so persistently associated it with his name, and have been so
determined to saddle upon him whatever obloquy attaches to the transaction
that a short account of it may properly be given here.

The generally-received versions are tissues of exaggerations and
absurdities from first to last. Wyoming has been uniformly represented as
a terrestrial paradise; as a sort of Occidental Arcadia where the
simple-hearted pious people lived and served God after the manner of
patriarchal times. Stripped of the halo of romance which has been thrown
around it, Wyoming is merely a pleasant, fertile valley on the Susquehanna,
in the north-eastern part of the State of Pennsylvania. In the year 1765
it was purchased from the Delaware Indians by a company in Connecticut,
consisting of about forty families, who settled in the valley shortly after
completing their purchase. Upon their arrival they found the valley in
possession of a number of Pennsylvanian families, who disputed their rights
to the property, and between whom and themselves bickerings and contests
were long the order of the day. Their mode of life was as little Arcadian
as can well be imagined. Neither party was powerful enough to permanently
oust the other; and although their warlike operations were conducted upon a
small scale, they were carried on with a petty meanness, vindictiveness and
treachery that would have disgraced the Hurons themselves. From time to
time one party would gain the upper hand, and would drive the other from
the Valley in apparently hopeless destitution; but the defeated ones, to
whichsoever side they might belong, invariably contrived to re-muster their
forces, and return to harass and drive out their opponents in their turn.
The only purpose for which they could be induced to temporarily lay aside
their disputes and band themselves together in a common cause, was to repel
the incursions of marauding Indians, to which the valley was occasionally
subject. When the war broke out between Great Britain and the colonies, the
denizens of the valley espoused the colonial side, and were compelled to
unite vigorously for purposes of self-defence. They organized a militia,
and drilled their troops to something like military efficiency; but not
long afterwards these troops were compelled to abandon the valley, and to
join the colonial army of regulars under General Washington. On the 3rd of
July, 1778, a force made up of four hundred British troops and about seven
hundred Seneca Indians, under the command of Col. John Butler, entered the
valley from the north-west. Such of the militia as the exigencies of the
American Government had left to the people of Wyoming arrayed themselves
for defence, together with a small company of American regular troops that
had recently arrived in the valley, under the command of Colonel Zebulon
Butler. The settlers were defeated and driven out of the valley. In spite
of all efforts on the part of the British to restrain them, the Indian
troops massacred a good many of the fugitives, and the valley was left a
smoking ruin. But the massacre was not nearly so great as took place on
several other occasions during the revolutionary war, and the burning was
an ordinary incident of primitive warfare. Such, in brief, is the true
history of the massacre in the Wyoming valley, over which the genius of
Thomas Campbell has cast a spell that will never pass away while the
English language endures. For that massacre Brant was no more responsible,
nor had he any further participation in it, than George Washington. He was
not within fifty (and probably not within a hundred) miles of the valley.
Had he been present his great influence would have been put forward, as it
always was on similar occasions, to check the ferocity of the Indians. But
it is doubtful whether even he could have prevented the massacre.

Another place with which the name of Brant is inseparably associated
is Cherry Valley. He has been held responsible for all the atrocities
committed there, and even the atrocities themselves have been grossly
exaggerated. There is some _show_ of justice in this, inasmuch as Brant was
undoubtedly present when the descent was made upon the valley. But it is
not true that he either prompted the massacre or took any part in it. On
the other hand, he did everything in his power to restrain it, and wherever
it was possible for him to interfere successfully to prevent bloodshed
he did so. Candour compels us to admit that his conduct on that terrible
November day stands out in bright contrast to that of Butler, the white
officer in command. Brant did his utmost to prevent the shedding of
innocent blood; but, even had he been in command of the expedition, which
he was not, Indians are totally unmanageable on the field of battle. There
is at least evidence that he did his best to save life. Entering one of
the houses, while the massacre was raging, he found there a woman quietly
engaged in sewing. "Why do you not fly, or hide yourself?" he asked; "do
you not know that the Indians are murdering all your neighbours, and will
soon be here?" "I am not afraid," was the reply: "I am a loyal subject of
King George, and there is one Joseph Brant with the Indians who will save
me." "I am Joseph Brant," responded the Chief, "but I am not in command,
and I am not sure that I _can_ save you, but I will do my best." At this
moment the Indians were seen approaching. "Get into bed, quick," said
Brant. The woman obeyed, and when the Indians reached the threshold he told
them to let the woman alone, as she was ill. They departed, and he then
painted his mark upon the woman and her children, which was the best
assurance of safety he could give them. This was merely one of several
similar acts of Brant upon that fatal day; acts which do not rest upon mere
tradition, but upon evidence as strong as human testimony can make it.

It would not be edifying to follow the great Chief through the various
campaigns--including those of Minisink and Mohawk Valley--in which he was
engaged until the Treaty of 1782 put an end to the sanguinary war. In that
Treaty, which restored peace between Great Britain and the United States,
the former neglected to make any stipulation on behalf of her Indian
allies. Not only was this the case; not only was Thayendanegea not so much
as named in the Treaty; but the ancient country of the Six Nations, "the
residence of their ancestors from the time far beyond their earliest
traditions," was actually included in the territory ceded to the United
States. This was a direct violation of Sir Guy Carleton's pledge, given
when the Mohawks first abandoned their native valley to do battle on behalf
of Great Britain, and subsequently ratified by General Haldimand, to the
effect that as soon as the war should be at an end the Mohawks should be
restored, at the expense of the Government, to the condition in which they
were at the beginning of the war. No sooner were the terms of the Treaty
made known than Brant repaired to Quebec, to claim from General Haldimand
the fulfilment of his pledge. General Haldimand received his distinguished
guest cordially, and professed himself ready to redeem his promise. It
was of course impossible to fulfil it literally, as the Mohawk valley had
passed beyond British control; but the Chief expressed his willingness to
accept in lieu of his former domain a tract of land on the Bay of Quinté.
The General agreed that this tract should at once be conveyed to the
Mohawks. The arrangement, however, was not satisfactory to the Senecas, who
had settled in the Genesee Valley, in the State of New York. The Senecas
were apprehensive of further trouble with the United States, and were
anxious that the Mohawks should settle in their own neighbourhood, to
assist them in the event of another war. They offered the Mohawks a large
tract of their own territory, but the Mohawks were determined to live only
under British rule. Accordingly, it was finally arranged that the latter
should have assigned to them a tract of land on the Grand River (then
called the Ouse) comprehending six miles on each side of the stream, from
the mouth to the source. This tract, which contains some of the most
fertile land in the Province, was formally conveyed to them by an
instrument under Governor Haldimand's hand and seal, in which it was
stipulated that they should "possess and enjoy" it forever. The Indians,
unversed in technicalities, supposed that they now had an absolute and
indefeasible estate in the lands. Of course they were mistaken. Governor
Haldimand's conveyance did not pass the fee, which could only be effected
by a crown patent under the Great Seal.

These several negotiations occupied some time. Towards the close of the
year 1785, Brant, feeling aggrieved at the non-payment of certain pecuniary
losses sustained by the Mohawks during the war, again set sail for England,
where in due course he arrived. As on the occasion of his former visit, he
was received with the utmost consideration and respect, not by the nobility
and gentry alone, but by royalty itself. He seems to have lived upon terms
of equality with the best society of the British capital, and to have so
borne himself as to do no discredit to his entertainers. The Baroness
Riedesel, who had formerly met him at Quebec, had an opportunity of
renewing acquaintance with him, and has left on record the impression which
he produced upon her. She writes: "His manners are polished. He expresses
himself with great fluency, and was much esteemed by General Haldimand. His
countenance is manly and intelligent, and his disposition very mild."

During this visit a dramatic episode occurred which occupies a conspicuous
place in all books devoted to Brant's life. The present writer has told the
story elsewhere as follows:--One gusty night in the month of January, 1786,
the interior of a certain fashionable mansion in the West End of London
presented a spectacle of amazing gorgeousness and splendour. The occasion
was a masquerade given by one of the greatest of the city magnates; and as
the entertainment was participated in by several of the nobility, and by
others in whose veins ran some of the best blood in England, no expense
had been spared to make the surroundings worthy of the exalted rank of the
guests. Many of the dresses were of a richness not often seen, even in the
abodes of wealth and fashion. The apartments were brilliantly lighted,
and the lamps shone upon as quaint and picturesque an assemblage as ever
congregated in Mayfair. There were gathered together representatives of
every age and clime, each dressed in the garb suited to the character meant
to be personified. Here, a magnificently-attired Egyptian princess of the
time of the Pharaohs languished upon the arm of an English cavalier of the
Restoration. There, high-ruffed ladies of Queen Elizabeth's court conversed
with mail-clad Norman warriors of the time of the Conqueror. A dark-eyed
Jewess who might have figured at the court of King Solomon jested and
laughed with a beau of Queen Anne's day. If the maiden blushed at some of
the broad jokes of her companion, her blushes were hidden by the silken
mask which, in common with the rest of the guests, she wore upon the upper
part of her face, and which concealed all but the brilliancy of her eyes.
Cheek by jowl with a haughty Spanish hidalgo stood a plaided Highlander,
with his dirk and claymore. Athenian orators, Roman tribunes, Knights
of the Round Table, Scandinavian Vikings and Peruvian Incas jostled one
another against the rich velvet and tapestry which hung from ceiling to
floor. Truly, a motley assemblage, and one well calculated to impress the
beholder with the transitoriness of mortal fame. In this miscellaneous
concourse the occupants of the picture frames of all the public and private
galleries of Europe seemed to have been restored to life, and personally
brought into contact for the first time. And though, artistically speaking,
they did not harmonize very well with each other, the general effect was
in the highest degree marvellous and striking. But of all the assembled
guests, one in particular is the cynosure of all eyes--the observed of all
observers. This is the cleverest masquer of them all, for there is not a
single detail, either in his dress, his aspect or his demeanour, which is
not strictly in conformity with the character he represents. He is clad in
the garb of an American Indian. He is evidently playing the part of one of
high dignity among his fellows, for his apparel is rich and costly, and
his bearing is that of one who has been accustomed to rule. The dress is
certainly a splendid make-up, and the wearer is evidently a consummate
actor. How proudly he stalks from room to room, stately, silent, leonine,
majestic. Lara himself--who, by the way, had not then been invented--had
not a more chilling mystery of mien. He is above the average height--not
much under six feet--and the nodding plumes of his crest make him look
several inches taller than he is in reality. His tomahawk, which hangs
loosely exposed at his girdle, glitters like highly-polished silver; and
the hand which ever and anon toys with the haft is long and bony. The dark,
piercing eyes seem almost to transfix every one upon whom they rest.
One half of the face seems to be covered by a mask, made to imitate the
freshly-painted visage of a Mohawk Indian when starting out upon the war
path. He is evidently bent upon preserving a strict incognito, for the
hours pass by and still no one has heard the sound of his voice. The
curiosity of the other guests is aroused, and, pass from room to room as
often as he may, a numerous train follows in his wake. One of the masquers
composing this train is arrayed in the loose vestments of a Turk, and
indeed is suspected to be a genuine native of the Ottoman Empire who has
been sent to England on a diplomatic mission. Being emboldened by the wine
he has drunk, the Oriental determines to penetrate the mystery of the dusky
stranger. He approaches the seeming Indian, and after various ineffectual
attempts to arrest his attention, lays violent hold of the latter's nose.
Scarcely has he touched that organ when a blood-curdling yell, such as has
never before been heard within the three kingdoms, resounds through the

  "Ah, then and there was hurling to and fro!"

The peal of the distant drum did not spread greater consternation among the
dancers at Brussels on the night before Waterloo. What wonder that female
lips blanched, and that even masculine cheeks grew pale? That yell was the
terrible war-whoop of the Mohawks, and came hot from the throat of the
mysterious unknown. The truth flashed upon all beholders. The stranger was
no disguised masquerader, but a veritable brave of the American forest. Of
this there could be no doubt. No white man that ever lived could learn to
give utterance to such an ejaculation. The yell had no sooner sounded than
the barbarian's tomahawk leapt from its girdle. He sprang upon the luckless
Turk, and twined his fingers in the poor wretch's hair. For a single second
the tomahawk flashed before the astonished eyes of the spectators; and
then, before the latter had time--even if they could have mustered the
courage--to interfere, its owner gently replaced it in his girdle, and
indulged in a low chuckle of laughter. The amazed and terrified guests
breathed again, and in another moment the mysterious stranger stood
revealed to the company as Joseph Brant, the renowned warrior of the Six
Nations, the steady ally of the British arms, and the terror of all enemies
of his race. Of course the alarm soon quieted down, and order was restored.
It was readily understood that he had never intended to injure the
terrified Oriental, but merely to punish the latter's impertinence by
frightening him within an inch of his life. Probably, too, that feeling of
self-consciousness from which few minds are altogether free, impelled
him to take advantage of the interest and curiosity which his presence
evidently inspired, to create an incident which would long be talked about
in London drawing-rooms, and which might eventually be handed down to

The anecdotes preserved of his stay in London at this time are almost
innumerable. He was a great favourite with the King and his family,
notwithstanding the fact that when he was first introduced at Court he
declined to kiss His Majesty's hand; adding, however, with delightful
_naivete_, that he would gladly kiss the hand of the Queen. The Prince of
Wales also took great delight in his company, and occasionally took him to
places of questionable repute--or rather, to places as to the disrepute
of which there was no question whatever, and which were pronounced by
the Chief "to be very queer places for a prince to go to." His envoy was
successful, and his stay in London, which was prolonged for some months,
must have been very agreeable, as "he was caressed by the noble and great,
and was alike welcome at Court and at the banquets of the heir-apparent."
After his return to America his first act of historical importance was to
attend the great Council of the Indian Confederacy in the far west. He used
his best endeavours to preserve peace between the Western Indians and the
United States, and steadily opposed the confederation which led to the
expedition of Generals St. Clair and Wayne. We next find him engaged in
settling his people upon the tract which had been granted to them on the
banks of the Grand River. The principal settlement of the Mohawks was
near the bend of the river, just below the present site of the city of
Brantford. They called the settlement "Mohawk Village." The name still
survives, but all traces of the village itself have disappeared. Brant
built the little church which still stands there, an illustration of which
is given above, and in which service has been held almost continuously
every Sunday since its bell first awoke the echoes of the Canadian forest.
Brant himself took up his abode in the neighbourhood for several years,
and did his best to bring his dusky subjects under the influence of
civilization. In order to facilitate his passage across the Grand River he
threw a sort of temporary boom across, at a spot a few yards below where
the iron-bridge now spans the stream at Brantford. From this circumstance
the place came to be known as "Brant's ford;" and when, years afterwards, a
village sprung up close by, the name of "Brantford" was given to it.

The Indians had not been long settled at Mohawk Village before difficulties
began to arise between them and the Provincial Government as to the nature
of the title to their lands. The Indians, supposing their title to be an
absolute one, began to make leases and sales to the white settlers in the
neighbourhood. To this proceeding the Government objected, upon the ground
that the Crown had a pre-emptive right, and that the land belonged to the
Indians only so long as they might choose to occupy it. Many conferences
were held, but no adjustment satisfactory to the Indians was arrived at.
There has been a good deal of subsequent legislation and diplomacy over
this vexed question, but so far as any unfettered power of alienation
of the lands is concerned Governor Haldimand's grant was practically a
nullity, and so remains to this day. These disputes embittered the Chief's
declining years, which was further rendered unhappy by petty dissensions
among the various tribes composing the Six Nations; dissensions which he
vainly endeavoured to permanently allay. Another affliction befel him in
the shape of a dissipated and worthless son, whom he accidently killed in
self-defence. The last few years of his life were passed in a house built
by him at Wellington Square; now called Burlington, a few miles from
Hamilton. He had received a grant of a large tract of land in this
neighbourhood, and he built a homestead there in or about the year 1800.

Here he kept up a large establishment, including seven or eight negro
servants who had formerly been slaves. He exercised a profuse and right
royal hospitality alike towards the whites and the Indian warriors who
gathered round him. On the first of May in each year he used to drive up,
in his coach-and-four, Mohawk Village, to attend the annual Indian festival
which was to held there. On these occasions he was generally attended by a
numerous retinue of servants in livery, and their procession used to strike
awe into the minds of the denizens of the settlements through which they

He died at his house at Wellington Square, after a long and painful
illness, on the 24th November, 1807, in the sixty-fifth year of his age.
His last thoughts were for his people, on whose behalf he had fought so
bravely, and whose social and moral improvement he was so desirous to
promote. His nephew, leaning over his bed, caught the last words that fell
from his lips: "Have pity on the poor Indians; if you can get any influence
from the great, endeavour to do them all the good you can."

His remains were removed to Mohawk Village, near Brantford, and interred
in the yard of the little church which he had built many years before, and
which was the first Christian church erected in Upper Canada. And there, by
the banks of the Grand River,

  "After life's fitful fever he sleeps well."

Sufficient has been said in the course of the preceding sketch to enable
the reader to form a tolerably correct idea of the character of this
greatest representative of the heroic Six Nations. No expression of opinion
was evermore unjust than that which has persistently held him up to the
execration of mankind as a monster of cruelty. That the exigences of his
position compelled him to wink at many atrocities committed by his troops
is beyond question. That, however, was a necessary incident of Indian
warfare; nay, of _all_ warfare; and after a careful consultation and
comparison of authorities we can come to no other conclusion than that,
for an Indian, reared among the customs and traditions of the Six Nations,
Joseph Brant was a humane and kind-hearted man. No act of perfidy was ever
brought home to him. He was a constant and faithful friend, and, though
stern, by no means an implacable enemy. His dauntless courage and devotion
to his people have never been seriously questioned. The charges of
self-seeking and peculation which Red Jacket, "the greatest coward of the
Five Nations," attempted to fasten upon him, only served to render his
integrity more apparent than it would otherwise have been. He was not
distinguished for brilliant flights of eloquence, as were Tecumseh and
Cornstalk; but both his speeches and his writings abound with a clear,
sound common-sense, which was quite as much to the purpose in his dealings
with mankind. His early advantages of education were not great, but he made
best use of his time, and some of his correspondence written during the
latter years of his life would not discredit an English statesman. He
translated a part of the prayers and services of the Church of England, and
also a portion of the Gospels, into the Mohawk language, and in the latter
years of his life made some preparation for a voluminous history of the
Six Nations. This latter work he did not live to carry out. In his social,
domestic and business relations he was true and honest, and nothing pleased
him better than to diffuse a liberal and genial hospitality in his own
home. Taking him all in all, making due allowance for the frailties and
imperfections incidental to humanity, we must pronounce Joseph Brant to
have possessed in an eminent degree many of the qualities which go to make
a good and a great man.

Brant was thrice married. By his first wife, Margaret, he had two children,
Isaac and Christina, whose descendents are still living. By his second
wife he had no issue. His third wife, Catharine, whom he married in 1780,
survived him and was forty-eight years of age at the time of his death. She
was the eldest daughter of the head-chief of the Turtle tribe, the tribe
first in dignity among the Mohawks. By the usages of that nation, upon her
devolved the right of naming her husband's successor in the chieftaincy.
The canons governing the descent of the chieftaincy of the Six Nations
recognize, in a somewhat modified form, the doctrine of primogeniture; but
the inheritance descends through the female line, and the surviving female
has a right, if she so pleases, to appoint any of her own male offspring to
the vacant sovereignty. Catharine Brant exercised her right by appointing
to that dignity John Brant, her third and youngest son. This youth, whose
Indian name was Ahyouwaighs, was at the time of his father's death
only thirteen years of age. He was born at Mohawk village, on the 27th
September, 1794, and received a liberal English education. Upon the
breaking out of the war of 1812, the young chief took the field with his
warriors, on behalf of Great Britain, and was engaged in most of the
actions on the Niagara frontier, including the battles of Queenstown
Heights, Lundy's Lane, and Beaver Dams. When the war closed in 1815, he
settled at "Brant House," the former residence of his father, at Wellington
Square. Here he and his sister Elizabeth dispensed a cheerful hospitality
for many years. In 1821 he visited England for the purpose of trying to do
what his father had failed in doing, viz, to bring about a satisfactory
adjustment of the disputes between the Government and the Indians
respecting the title of the latter to their lands. His mission, however,
was unsuccessful. While in England he called upon the poet Campbell, and
endeavoured to induce that gentleman to expunge certain stanzas from
the poem of "Gertrude of Wyoming," with what success has already been

In the year 1827, Ahyouwaighs was appointed by the Earl of Dalhousie to the
rank of Captain, and also in the superintendency of the Six Nations. In
1832 he was elected as a member of the Provincial Parliament for the County
of Haldimand, but his election was contested and eventually set aside, upon
the ground that many of the persons by whose votes he had been elected were
merely lessees of Indian lands; and not entitled, under the law, as it then
stood to exercise the franchise. Within a few months afterwards, and in the
same year, he was carried off by cholera, and was buried in the same
vault as his father. He was never married, and left no issue. His sister
Elizabeth was married to William Johnson Kerr, a grandson of that same Sir
William Johnson who had formerly been a patron of the great Thayendanegea.
She died at Wellington Square in April, 1834, leaving several children, all
of whom are since dead. By his third wife Brant had several other children,
whose descendants are still living in various parts of Ontario. His widow
died at the advanced age of seventy-eight years on the 24th of November,
1837, being the thirtieth anniversary of her husband's death.

The old house in which Joseph Brant died at Wellington Square, is still in
existence, though it has been so covered in by modern improvements that no
part of the original structure is outwardly visible. Mr. J. Simcoe Kerr, a
son of Brant's daughter Elizabeth, continued to reside at the old homestead
down to the time of his death in 1875. It has since been leased and
refitted for a summer hotel, and is now known as "Brant House." The room
in which the old chief was so unhappy as to slay his son is pointed out to
visitors, with stains--said to be the original blood stains--on the floor.
Among the historical objects in the immediate neighbourhood is a gnarled
old oak nearly six feet in diameter at the base, known as "The Old Council
Tree," from the fact that the chief and other dignataries of the Six
Nations were wont to hold conferences beneath its spreading branches. Close
by is a mound where lie the bodies of many of Brant's Indian contemporaries
buried, native fashion in a circle, with the feet converging to a centre.

Thirty years ago, the wooden vault in which Brant's remains and those of
his son John were interred had become dilapidated. The Six Nations resolved
upon constructing a new one of stone, and re-interring the remains. Brant
was a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity in his day, and the
various Masonic lodges throughout the neighbourhood lent their aid to the
Indians in their undertaking. The project was finally carried out on the
twenty-seventh of November, 1850. There was an immense gathering at Mohawk
village on the occasion, which is generally referred to as "Brant's second
funeral." The Indians and whites vied with each other in doing honour to
the memory of the departed chief. The remains were interred in a more
spacious vault, over which a plain granite tomb was raised. The slab which
covers the aperture contains the following inscription:

             This Tomb
     Is erected to the memory of
         THAYENDANEGEA, or
        Principal Chief and
            Warrior of
      The Six Nations Indians,
       By his Fellow Subjects,
    Admirers of his Fidelity and
         Attachment to the
          British Crown.
      Born on the Banks of the
      Ohio River, 1742, died at
    Wellington Square, U.C., 1807.

    It also contains the remains
     Of his son Ahyouwaighs, or
         CAPT. JOHN BRANT,
   who succeeded his father as
    And distinguished himself
     In the war of 1812-15
 Born at the Mohawk Village, U.C., 1794;
   Died at the same place, 1832.
         Erected 1850.

This sketch would be incomplete without some allusion to the project which
was set in motion about six years ago, having for its object the erection
of a suitable monument to the great Chief's memory. On the 25th of August,
1874, His Excellency, Lord Dufferin, in response to an invitation from the
Six Nations, paid them a visit at their Council House, in the township of
Tuscarora, a few miles below Brantford. He was entertained by the chiefs
and warriors, who submitted to him, for transmission to England, an address
to His Royal Highness Prince Arthur, who was enrolled an Honorary Chief
of the Confederacy on the occasion of his visit to Canada in 1869. The
address, after referring to Brant's many and important services to the
British Crown, expressed the anxious desire of his people to see a fitting
monument erected to his memory. Lord Dufferin transmitted the address,
and received Prince Arthur's assurances of his approval of, and good will
towards, the undertaking. A committee, consisting of many of the leading
officials and residents of the Dominion, was at once formed, and a
subscription list was opened at the Bank of British North America, at
Brantford. A good many contributions have since come in, but the fund is
still insufficient to enable the committee to carry out their project in
a fitting manner. We have referred to the fact that no village is now in
existence at Mohawk. The Indians have deserted the neighbourhood and taken
up their quarters elsewhere. Brant's tomb by the old church, being in an
out-of-the-way spot, remote from the haunts of men, has fallen a prey
to the sacrilegious hands of tourists and others, who have shamefully
mutilated it by repeated chippings of fragments which have been carried
away as relics. It is proposed to place the new monument in the centre of
Victoria Park, opposite the Court House, in Brentford, where it will be
under the surveillance of the local authorities, and where there will be
no danger of mutilation. That Brant's memory deserves such a tribute is
a matter as to which there can be no difference of opinion, and the
undertaking is one that deserves the hearty support of the Canadian people.
We owe a heavy debt to the Indians; heavier than we are likely to pay.
It does not reflect credit upon our national sense of gratitude that no
fitting monument marks our appreciation of the services of those two great
Indians, Brant and Tecumseh.


Standing on the summit of one of the rocky eminences at the mouth of the
Sagueuay, and looking back through the haze of two hundred and seventy-four
years, we may descry two small sailing craft slowly making their way up the
majestic stream which Jacques Cartier, sixty-eight years before, christened
in honour of the grilled St. Lawrence. The vessels are of French build, and
have evidently just arrived from France. They are of very diminutive size
for an ocean voyage, but are manned by hardy Breton mariners for whom the
tempestuous Atlantic has no terrors. They are commanded by an enterprising
merchant-sailor of St. Malo, who is desirous of pushing his fortunes by
means of the fur trade, and who, with that end in view, has already more
than once navigated the St. Lawrence as far westward as the mouth of the
Saguenay. His name is Pontgravé. Like other French adventurers of his time
he is a brave and energetic man, ready to do, to dare, and, if need be, to
suffer; but his primary object in life is to amass wealth, and to effect
this object he is not over-scrupulous as to the means employed. On this
occasion he has come over with instructions from Henry IV., King of France,
to explore the St. Lawrence, to ascertain how far from its mouth navigation
is practicable, and to make a survey of the country on its banks. He is
accompanied on the expedition by a man of widely different mould; a man who
is worth a thousand of such sordid, huckstering spirits; a man who unites
with the courage and energy of a soldier a high sense of personal honour
and a singleness of heart worthy of the Chevalier Bayard himself. To these
qualities are added an absorbing passion for colonization, and a piety and
zeal which would not misbecome a Jesuit missionary. He is poor, but what
the poet calls "the jingling of the guinea" has no charms for him. Let
others consume their souls in heaping up riches, in chaffering with the
Indians for the skins of wild beasts, and in selling the same to the
affluent traders of France. It is his ambition to rear the _fleur-de-lis_
in the remote wildernesses of the New World, and to evangelize the savage
hordes by whom that world is peopled. The latter object is the most dear to
his heart of all, and he has already recorded his belief that the salvation
of one soul is of more importance than the founding of an empire. After
such an exordium it is scarcely necessary to inform the student of history
that the name of Pontgravé's ally is Samuel De Champlain. He has already
figured somewhat conspicuously in his country's annals, but his future
achievements are destined to outshine the events of his previous career,
and to gain for him the merited title of "Father of New France."

He was born some time in the year 1567, at Brouage, a small seaport town in
the Province of Saintonge, on the west coast of France. Part of his youth
was spent in the naval service, and during the wars of the League he fought
on the side of the King, who awarded him a small pension and attached him
to his own person. But Champlain was of too adventurous a turn of mind
to feel at home in the confined atmosphere of a royal court, and soon
languished for change of scene. Ere long he obtained command of a vessel
bound for the West Indies, where he remained more than two years. During
this time he distinguished himself as a brave and efficient officer. He
became known as one whose nature partook largely of the romantic element,
but who, nevertheless, had ever an eye to the practical. Several important
engineering projects seem to have engaged his attention during his sojourn
in the West Indies. Prominent among these was the project of constructing a
ship-canal across the Isthmus of Panama, but the scheme was not encouraged,
and ultimately fell to the ground. Upon his return to France he again
dangled about the court for a few months, by which time he had once more
become heartily weary of a life of inaction. With the accession of Henry
IV. to the French throne the long religious wars which had so long
distracted the country came to an end, and the attention of the Government
began to be directed to the colonisation of New France--a scheme which had
never been wholly abandoned, but which had remained in abeyance since the
failure of the expedition undertaken by the brothers Roberval, more than
half a century before. Several new attempts were made at this time, none
of which was very successful. The fur trade, however, held out great
inducements to private enterprise, and stimulated the cupidity of the
merchants of Dieppe, Rouen and St Malo. In the heart of one of them
something nobler than cupidity was aroused. In 1603, M. De Chastes,
Governor of Dieppe, obtained a patent from the King conferring upon him and
several of his associates a monopoly of the fur trade of New France. To M.
De Chastes the acquisition of wealth--of which he already had enough, and
to spare--was a matter of secondary importance, but he hoped to make his
patent the means of extending the French empire into the unknown regions of
the far West. The patent was granted soon after Champlain's return from the
West Indies, and just as the pleasures of the court were beginning to pall
upon him. He had served under De Chastes during the latter years of the war
of the League, and the Governor was no stranger to the young man's skill,
energy, and incorruptible integrity. De Chastes urged him to join the
expedition, which was precisely of a kind to find favour in the eyes of an
ardent adventurer like Champlain. The King's consent having been obtained,
he joined the expedition under Pontgravé, and sailed for the mouth of the
St. Lawrence on the 15th of March, 1603. The expedition, as we have seen,
was merely preliminary to more specific and extended operations. The ocean
voyage, which was a tempestuous one, occupied more than two months, and
they did not reach the St. Lawrence until the latter end of May. They
sailed up as far as Tadousac, at the mouth of the Saguenay, where a little
trading-post had been established four years before by Pontgravé, and
Chauvin. Here they cast anchor, and a fleet of canoes filled with wondering
natives gathered round their little barques to sell peltries, and
(unconsciously) to sit to Champlain for their portraits. After a short stay
at Tadousac the leaders of the expedition, accompanied by several of
the crew, embarked in a batteau and preceded up the river past deserted
Stadacona to the site of the Indian village of Hochelaga, discovered by
Jacques Cartier in 1535. The village so graphically described by that
navigator had ceased to exist, and the tribe which had inhabited it at
the time of his visit had given place to a few Algonquin Indians. Our
adventurers essayed to ascend the river still farther, but found it
impossible to make headway against the rapids of St. Louis, which had
formerly presented an insuperable barrier to Cartier's westward progress.
Then they retraced their course down the river to Tadousac, re-embarked on
board their vessels, and made all sail for France. When they arrived there
they found that their patron, De Chastes, had died during their absence,
and that his Company had been dissolved. Very soon afterwards, however, the
scheme of colonization was taken up by the Sieur de Monts, who entered into
engagements with Champlain for another voyage to the New World. De Monts
and Champlain set sail on the 7th of March, 1604, with a large expedition,
and in due course reached the shores of Nova Scotia, then called Acadie.
After an absence of three years, during which Champlain explored the coast
as far southward as Cape Cod, the expedition returned to France. A good
deal had been learned as to the topographical features of the country lying
near the coast, but little had been done in the way of actual colonization.
The next expedition was productive of greater results. De Monts, at
Champlain's instigation, resolved to found a settlement on the shores of
the St Lawrence. Two vessels were fitted up at his expense and placed under
Champlain's command, with Pontgravé as lieutenant of the expedition, which
put to sea in the month of April, 1608, and reached the mouth of the
Saguenay early in June. Pontgravé began a series of trading operations with
the Indians at Tadousac, while Champlain proceeded up the river to fix upon
an advantageous site for the projected settlement. This site he found at
the confluence of the St. Charles with the St. Lawrence, near the place
where Jacques Cartier had spent the winter of 1535-6. Tradition tells us
that when Cartier's sailors beheld the adjacent promontory of Cape Diamond
they exclaimed, "_Quel bec_"--("What a beak!")--which exclamation led to
the place being called _Quebec_. The most probable derivation of the name,
however, is the Indian word _kebec_, signifying a strait, which might well
have been applied by the natives to the narrowing of the river at this
place. Whatever may be the origin of the name, here it was that Champlain,
on the 3rd of July, 1608, founded his settlement, and Quebec was the name
which he bestowed upon it. This was the first permanent settlement of
Europeans on the American continent, with the exception of those at St.
Augustine, in Florida, and Jamestown, in Virginia.

Champlain's first attempts at settlement, as might be expected, were of a
very primitive character. He erected rude barracks, and cleared a few small
patches of ground adjacent thereto, which he sowed with wheat and rye.
Perceiving that the fur trade might be turned to good account in promoting
the settlement of the country, he bent his energies to its development.
He had scarcely settled his little colony in its new home ere he began to
experience the perils of his quasi-regal position. Notwithstanding
the patent of monopoly held by his patron, on the faith of which his
colonization scheme had been projected, the rights conferred by it began to
be infringed by certain traders who came over from France and instituted
a system of traffic with the natives. Finding the traffic exceedingly
profitable, these traders ere long held out inducements to some of
Champlain's followers. A conspiracy was formed against him and he narrowly
escaped assassination. Fortunately, one of the traitors was seized by
remorse, and revealed the plot before it had been fully carried out. The
chief conspirator was hanged, and his accomplices were sent over to France,
where they expiated their crime at the galleys. Having thus promptly
suppressed the first insurrection within his dominions, Champlain prepared
himself for the rigours of a Canadian winter. An embankment was formed
above the reach of the tide, and a stock of provisions was laid in
sufficient for the support of the settlement until spring. The colony,
inclusive of Champlain himself, consisted of twenty-nine persons.
Notwithstanding all precautions, the scurvy broke out among them during the
winter. Champlain, who was endowed with a vigorous constitution, escaped
the pest, but before the advent of spring the little colony was reduced
to only nine persons. The sovereign remedy which Cartier had found so
efficacious in a similar emergency was not to be found. That remedy was
a decoction prepared by the Indians from a tree which they called
_Auneda_--believed to have been a species of spruce--but the natives of
Champlain's day knew nothing of the remedy, from which he concluded that
the tribe which had employed it on behalf of Cartier and his men had been
exterminated by their enemies.

With spring, succours and fresh immigrants arrived from France, and new
vitality was imported into the little colony. Soon after this time,
Champlain committed the most impolitic act of his life. The Hurons,
Algonquins and other tribes of the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa, resolved
upon taking the war-path against their enemies, the Iroquois, or Five
Nations--the boldest, fiercest, and most powerful confederacy known to
Indian history. Champlain, ever since his arrival in the country, had done
his utmost to win the favour of the natives with whom he was brought more
immediately into contact, and he deemed that by joining them in opposing
the Iroquois, who were a standing menace to his colony, he would knit the
Hurons and Algonquins to the side of the King of France by permanent and
indissoluble ties. To some extent he was right, but he underestimated
the strength of the foe, an alliance with whom would have been of more
importance than an alliance with all the other Indian tribes of New France.
Champlain cast in his lot with the Hurons and Algonquins, and accompanied
them on their expedition against their enemies. By so doing he invoked the
deadly animosity of the latter against the French for all time to come. He
did not forsee that by this one stroke of policy he was paving the way for
a subsequent alliance between the Iroquois and the English.

On May 28th, 1609, in company with his Indian allies, he started on the
expedition, the immediate results of which were so insignificant--the
remote results of which were so momentous. The war-party embarked in
canoes, ascended the St. Lawrence to the mouth of the Richelieu--then
called the River of the Iroquois--and thence up the latter stream to the
lake which Champlain beheld for the first time, and which until that day
no European eye had ever looked upon. This picturesque sheet of water
was thenceforward called after him, and in its name his own is still
perpetuated. The party held on their course to the head waters of the lake,
near to which several Iroquois villages were situated. The enemy's scouts
received intelligence of the approach of the invaders, and advanced to
repel them. The opposing forces met in the forest on the south-western
shore, not far from Crown point, on the morning of the 30th of July. The
Iroquois, two hundred in number, advanced to the onset. "Among them," says
Mr. Parkman, "could be seen several chiefs, conspicuous by their tall
plumes. Some bore shields of wood and hide, and some were covered with a
kind of armour made of tough twigs, interlaced with a vegetable fibre,
supposed by Champlain to be cotton. The allies, growing anxious, called
with loud cries for their champion, and opened their ranks that he
might pass to the front. He did so, and advancing before his red
companions-in-arms stood revealed to the astonished gaze of the Iroquois,
who, beholding the warlike apparition in their path, stared in mute
amazement. But his arquebuse was levelled; the report startled the woods,
a chief fell dead, and another by his side rolled among the bushes. Then
there arose from the allies a yell which, says Champlain, would have
drowned a thunderclap, and the forest was full of whizzing arrows. For a
moment the Iroquois stood firm, and sent back their arrows lustily; but
when another and another gunshot came from the thickets on their flank they
broke and fled in uncontrollable terror. Swifter than hounds, the allies
tore through the bushes, in pursuit. Some of the Iroquois were killed, more
were taken. Camp, canoes, provisions, all were abandoned, and many weapons
flung down in the panic flight. The arquebuse had done its work. The
victory was complete." The victorious allies, much to the disgust of
Champlain, tortured their prisoners in the most barbarous fashion, and
returned to Quebec, taking with them fifty Iroquois scalps. Thus was the
first Indian blood shed by the white man in Canada. The man who shed it was
a European and a Christian, who had not even the excuse of provocation.
This is a matter worth bearing in mind when we read of the frightful
atrocities committed by the Iroquois upon the whites in after years.
Champlain's conduct on this occasion seems incapable of defence, and it was
certainly a very grave error, considered simply as an act of policy. The
error was bitterly and fiercely avenged, and for every Indian who fell
on the morning of that 30th of July, in this, the first battle fought on
Canadian soil between natives and Europeans, a tenfold penalty was exacted.
"Thus did New France rush into collision with the redoubted warriors of the
Five Nations. Here was the beginning, in some measure doubtless the cause,
of a long succession of murderous conflicts, bearing havoc and flame to
generations yet unborn. Champlain had invaded the tiger's den; and now, in
smothered fury the patient savage would lie biding his day of blood."

Six weeks after the performance of this exploit, Champlain, accompanied by
Pontgravé, returned to France. Upon his arrival at court he found De Monts
there, trying to secure a renewal of his patent of monopoly, which had
been revoked in consequence of loud complaints on the part of other French
merchants who were desirous of participating in the profits arising from
the fur trade. His efforts to obtain a renewal proving unsuccessful, De
Monts determined to carry on his scheme of colonization unaided by royal
patronage. Allying himself with some affluent merchants of Rochelle, he
fitted out another expedition and once more despatched Champlain to the New
World. Champlain, upon his arrival at Tadousac, found his former Indian
allies preparing for another descent upon the Iroquois, in which
undertaking he again joined them; the inducement this time being a promise
on the part of the Indians to pilot him up the great streams leading from
the interior, whereby he hoped to discover a passage to the North Sea,
and thence to China and the Indies. In this second expedition he was
less successful than in the former one. The opposing forces met near the
confluence of the Richelieu and St. Lawrence Rivers, and though Champlain's
allies were ultimately victorious, they sustained a heavy loss, and
he himself was wounded in the neck by an arrow. After the battle, the
torture-fires were lighted, as was usual on such occasions, and Champlain
for the first time was an eye-witness to the horrors of cannibalism.

He soon afterwards began his preparations for an expedition up the Ottawa,
but just as he was about to start on the journey, a ship arrived from
France with intelligence that King Henry had fallen a victim to the dagger
of Ravaillac. The accession of a new sovereign to the French Throne might
materially affect De Monts's ability to continue his scheme, and Champlain
once more set sail for France to confer with his patron. The late king,
while deeming it impolitic to continue the monopoly in De Monts's favour,
had always countenanced the latter's colonisation schemes in New France;
but upon Champlain's arrival he found that with the death of Henry IV De
Monts's court influence had ceased, and that his western scheme must stand
or fall on its own merits. Champlain, in order to retrieve his patron's
fortunes as far as might be, again returned to Canada in the following
spring, resolved to build a trading post far up the St. Lawrence, where it
would be easily accessible to the Indian hunters on the Ottawa.--The spot
selected was near the site of the former village of Hochelaga, near the
confluence of the two great rivers of Canada. The post was built on the
site now occupied by the hospital of the Grey Nuns of Montreal, and even
before its erection was completed a horde of rival French traders appeared
on the scene. This drove Champlain once more back to France, but he soon
found that the ardour of De Monts for colonization had cooled, and that he
was not disposed to concern himself further in the enterprize. Champlain,
being thus left to his own resources, determined to seek another patron,
and succeeded in enlisting the sympathy of the Count de Soissons, who
obtained the appointment of Lieutenant-General of New France, and invested
Champlain with the functions of that office as his deputy. The Count did
not long survive, but Henry de Bourbon, Prince of Condé, succeeded to his
privileges, and continued Champlain in his high office. In the spring of
1613 Champlain again betook himself to Canada, and arrived at Quebec early
in May. Before the end of the month he started on his long-deferred tour of
western exploration. Taking with him two canoes, containing an Indian and
four Frenchmen, he ascended the Ottawa in the hope of reaching China and
Japan by way of Hudson's Bay, which had been discovered by Hendrick Hudson
only three years before. In undertaking this journey Champlain had been
misled by a French imposter called Nicholas Vignan, who professed to have
explored the route far inland beyond the head waters of the Ottawa, which
river, he averred, had its source in a lake connected with the North Sea.
The enthusiastic explorer, relying upon the good faith of Vignan, proceeded
westward to beyond Lake Coulange, and after a tedious and perilous voyage,
stopped to confer with Tessouat, an Indian chief, whose tribe inhabited
that remote region. This potentate, upon being apprised of the object of
their journey, undeceived Champlain as to Vignan's character for veracity,
and satisfied him that the Frenchman had never passed farther west than
Tessouat's own dominions. Vignan, after a good deal of prevarication,
confessed that his story was false, and that what the Indian chief had
stated was a simple fact. Champlain, weary and disgusted, abandoned his
exploration and returned to Quebec, leaving Vignan with the Indians in the
wildernesses of the Upper Ottawa.

His next visit to France, which took place during the summer of the same
year was fraught with important results to the colony. A new company was
formed under the auspices of the Prince of Condé, and a scheme was laid
for the propagation of the Gospel among the Indians by means of Recollet
missionaries sent out from France for the purpose. These, who were the
first priests who settled in Canada, came out with Champlain in May, 1615.
A province was assigned to each of them, and they at once entered upon
the duties of their respective missions. One of them settled among the
Montagnais, near the mouth of the Saguenay; two of them remained at Quebec;
and the fourth, whose name was Le Caron, betook himself to the far western
wilds. Champlain then entered upon a more extended tour of westward
exploration than any he had hitherto undertaken. Accompanied by an
interpreter and a number of Algonquins as guides, he again ascended the
Ottawa, passed the Isle of Allumettes, and thence to Lake Nipissing. After
a short stay here he continued his journey, descended the stream since
known as French River, into the inlet of Lake Huron, now called Georgian
Bay. Paddling southward past the innumerable islands on the eastern coast
of the bay, he landed near the present site of Penetanguishene, and thence
followed an Indian trail leading through the ancient country of the
Hurons, now forming the northern part of the county of Simcoe, and the
north-eastern part of the county of Grey. This country contained seventeen
or eighteen villages, and a population, including women and children, of
about twenty thousand. One of the villages visited by Champlain, called
Cahiague, occupied a site near the present town of Orillia. At another
village, called Carhagouha, some distance farther west, the explorer found
the Recollet friar Le Caron, who had accompanied him from France only a few
months before as above mentioned. And here, on the 12th of August, 1615, Le
Caron celebrated, in Champlain's presence, the first mass ever heard in the
wilderness of western Canada.

After spending some time in the Huron country, Champlain accompanied the
natives on an expedition against their hereditary foes, the Iroquois, whose
domain occupied what is now the central and western part of the State
of New York. Crossing Lake Couchiching and coasting down the north-eastern
shore of Lake Simcoe, they made their way across country to the Bay of
Quinté, thence into Lake Ontario, and thence into the enemy's country.
Having landed, they concealed their canoes in the woods and marched inland.
On the 10th of October they came to a Seneca [Footnote: The Senecas were
one of the Five Nations composing the redoubtable Iroquois Confederacy.
The Tuscaroras joined the League in 1715, and it is subsequently known in
history as the "Six Nations."] village on or near a lake which was probably
Lake Canandaigua. The Hurons attacked the village, but were repulsed by
the fierce Iroquois, Champlain himself being several times wounded in the
assault. The invading war-party then retreated and abandoned the campaign,
returning to where they had hidden their canoes, in which they embarked and
made the best of their way back across Lake Ontario, where the party broke
up. The Hurons had promised Champlain that if he would accompany them on
their expedition against the Iroquois they would afterwards furnish him
with an escort back to Quebec. This promise they now declined to make good.
Champlain's prestige as an invincible champion was gone, and wounded and
dispirited, he was compelled to accompany them back to their country near
Lake Simcoe, where he spent the winter in the lodge of Durantal, one of
their chiefs. Upon his return to Quebec in the following year he was
welcomed as one risen from the dead. Hitherto Champlain's love of
adventure had led him to devote more attention to exploration than to the
consolidation of his power in New France. He determined to change his
policy in this respect; and crossed over to France to induce a larger
emigration. In July, 1620, he returned with Madame de Champlain, who was
received with great demonstrations of respect and affection by the Indians
upon her arrival at Quebec. Champlain found that the colony had rather
retrograded than advanced during his absence, and for some time after his
return, various causes contributed to retard its prosperity. At the end
of the year 1621, [Footnote: In this year, Eustáche, son of Abraham and
Margaret Martin, the first child of European parentage born in Canada,
was born at Quebec.] the European population of New France numbered only
forty-eight persons. Rival trading companies continued to fight for the
supremacy in the colony, and any man less patient and persevering than the
Father of New France would have abandoned his schemes in despair. This
untoward state of things continued until 1627, when an association, known
to history by the name of "The Company of the One Hundred Associates," was
formed under the patronage of the great Cardinal Richelieu. The association
was invested with the Vice-royalty of New France and Florida, together with
very extensive auxiliary privileges, including a monopoly of the fur trade,
the right to confer titles and appoint judges, and generally to carry
on the Government of the colony. In return for these truly vice-regal
privileges the company undertook to send out a large number of colonists,
and to provide them with the necessaries of life for a term of three years,
after which land enough for their support and grain wherewith to plant it
was to be given them. Champlain himself was appointed Governor. This great
company was scarcely organized before war broke out between France and
England. The English resolved upon the conquest of Canada, and sent out a
fleet to the St. Lawrence under the command of Sir David Kertk. The fleet
having arrived before Quebec, its commander demanded from Champlain a
surrender of the place, and as the Governor's supply of food and ammunition
was too small to enable him to sustain a siege, he signed a capitulation
and surrendered. He then hastened to France, where he influenced the
cabinet to stipulate for the restoration of Canada to the French Crown in
the articles of peace which were shortly afterwards negotiated between the
two powers. In 1632 this restoration was effected, and next year Champlain
again returned in the capacity of Governor. From this time forward he
strove to promote the prosperity of the colony by every means in his power.
Among the means whereby he zealously strove to effect this object was the
establishment of Jesuit missions for the conversion of the Indians. Among
other missions so established was that in the far western Huron country,
around which the _Relations des Jesuites_ have cast such a halo of romance.

The Father of New France did not live to gather much fruit from the crop
which he had sown. His life of incessant fatigue at last proved too much
even for his vigorous frame. After an illness which lasted for ten weeks,
he died on Christmas Day, 1635, at the age of sixty-eight. His beautiful
young wife, who had shared his exile for four years, returned to France
where she became an Ursuline nun, and founded a convent at Meaux, in which
she immured herself until her death a few years later.

Champlain's body was interred in the vaults of a little Recollet church in
the Lower Town. This church was subsequently burned to the ground, and its
very site was not certainly known until recent times. In the year 1867 some
workmen were employed in laying water-pipes beneath the flight of stairs
called "Breakneck Steps," leading from Mountain Hill to Little Champlain
street. Under a grating at the foot of the steps they discovered the vaults
of the old Recollet church, with the remains of the Father of New France
enclosed. Independently of his energy, perseverance, and fortitude as an
explorer, Samuel de Champlain was a man of considerable mark, and earned
for himself an imperishable name in Canadian history. He wrote several
important works which, in spite of many defects, bear the stamp of no
ordinary mind. His engaging in war with the Iroquois was a fatal error, but
it arose from the peculiar position in which he found himself placed at the
outset of his western career, and it is difficult to see how anything short
of actual experience could have made his error manifest. The purity of his
life was proverbial, and was the theme of comment among his survivors for
years after his death. He foresaw that his adopted country was destined for
a glorious future. "The flourishing cities and towns of this Dominion,"
says one of has eulogists, "are enduring monuments to his foresight; and
the waters of the beautiful lake that bears his name chant the most fitting
requiem to his memory as they break in perpetual murmurings on their

This sketch would be incomplete without some reference to the mysterious
astrolabe which is alleged to have been found in the month of August,
1867, and which is supposed by some to have been lost by Champlain on the
occasion of his first voyage up the Ottawa in 1613, as recounted in the
preceding pages. The facts of the case may be compressed into few words,
although they have given rise to many learned disquisitions which, up to
the present time, have been barren of any useful result.

In the month of August, 1867, some men were engaged in cultivating a piece
of ground on the rear half of lot number twelve, in the second range of the
township of Ross, in the county of Renfrew, Ontario, while turning up the
soil, as it is said, they came upon a queer looking instrument, which upon
examination proved to be an astrolabe an instrument used in former times to
mark the position of the stars, and to assist in computing latitudes, but
long since gone out of use. Upon its face was engraved the date 1603. Now,
Champlain's first journey up the Ottawa was made in the summer of 1613, and
he must have passed at or near the identical spot where the astrolabe was
found. It is claimed that this instrument belonged to Champlain, and
that it was lost by him in this place. In support of this claim it is
represented that Champlain's latitudes were always computed with reasonable
exactness up to the time of his passing through the portage of which the
plot of ground whereon the instrument was found forms a part. After that
time his computations are generally erroneous--so erroneous, indeed, as to
have led some readers of his journal very seriously astray in following out
his course. This, in reality, is all the evidence to be found as to the
ownership of the lost astrolabe. Taken by itself, it is reasonably strong
circumstantial evidence. On the other hand it may be contended that
astrolabes had pretty well gone out of use before the year 1613, and
Champlain was a man not likely to be behind his times in the matter of
scientific appliances. But the strongest argument is to be found in the
fact that Champlain's journal, which contains minute details of everything
that happened from day to day, makes no allusion whatever to his having
lost his astraolabe--a circumstance, it would seem, not very likely to be
omitted. The question is of course an open one, and has given rise, as has
already been said, to much discussion among Canadian archaeologists. It is,
however, of little historical importance, and needs no further allusion in
these pages.


In view of the fact that this gentleman's name has a very fair chance of
immortality in this Province, it is to be regretted that so little is
accurately known about him, and that only the merest outline of his career
has come down to the present times. Many Canadians would gladly know
something more of the life of the first man who filled the important
position of Chief-Justice of Upper Canada, and the desire for such
knowledge is by no means confined to members of the legal profession. He
was the faithful friend and adviser of our first Lieutenant-Governor, and
it is doubtless to his legal acumen that we owe those eight wise statues
which were passed during the first session of our first Provincial
Parliament, which assembled at Newark on the 17th of September, 1792.

Nothing is definitely known concerning Chief-Justice Osgoode's ancestry.
A French-Canadian writer asserts that he was an illegitimate son of King
George the Third. No authority whatever is assigned in support of this
assertion, which probably rests upon no other basis than vague rumour.
Similar rumours have been current with respect to the paternity of other
persons who have been more or less conspicuous in Canada, and but little
importance should be attached to them. He was born in the month of March,
1754, and entered as a commoner at Christchurch College, Oxford, in 1770,
when he had nearly completed his sixteenth year. After a somewhat prolonged
attendance at this venerable seat of learning, he graduated and received
the degree of Master of Arts' in the month of July, 1777. Previous to
this time he had entered himself as a student at the Inner Temple, having
already been enrolled as a student on the books of Lincoln's Inn. He seems
at this time to have been possessed of some small means but not sufficient
for his support, and he pursued his professional studies with such avidity
as temporarily to undermine his health. He paid a short visit to the
Continent, and returned to his native land with restored physical and
mental vigour. In due course he was called to the Bar, and soon afterwards
published a technical work on the law of descent, which attracted some
notice from the profession. He soon became known as an erudite and
painstaking lawyer, whose opinions were entitled to respect, and who was
very expert as a special pleader. At the Bar he was less successful,
owing to an almost painful fastidiousness in his choice of words, which
frequently produced an embarrassing hesitation of speech. He seems to have
been a personal friend of Colonel Simcoe, even before that gentleman's
appointment as Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, and their intimacy
may possibly have had something to do with Mr. Osgoode's appointment as
Chief-Justice of the new Province in the spring of 1792. He came over in
the same vessel with the Governor, who sailed on the 1st of May. Upon
reaching Upper Canada the Governor and staff, after a short stay at
Kingston, passed on to Newark (now Niagara). The Chief-Justice accompanied
the party, and took up his abode with them at Navy Hall, where he continued
to reside during the greater part of his stay in the Province which was
of less than three years' duration. The solitude of his position, and
his almost complete isolation from society, and from the surroundings of
civilized life seem to have been unbearable to his sensitive and social
nature. In 1795 he was appointed Chief-Justice of the Lower Province, where
he continued to occupy the Judicial Bench until 1801, when he resigned his
position, and returned to England. His services as Chief-Justice entitled
him to a pension of £800 per annum, which he continued to enjoy for rather
more than twenty-two years. For historical purposes, his career may be said
to have ceased with his resignation, as he never again emerged from
the seclusion of private life. He was several times requested to enter
Parliament, but declined to do so. During the four years immediately
succeeding his return to England he resided in the Temple. In 1804,
upon the conversion of Melbourue House--a mansion in the West End of
London--into the fashionable set of chambers known as "The Albany," he
took up his quarters there for the remainder of his life. Among other
distinguished men who resided there contemporaneously with him were
Lord Brougham and Lord Byron. The latter occupied the set of chambers
immediately adjoining those of the retired Chief-Justice, and the two
became personally acquainted with each other; though, considering the
diversity of their habits, it is not likely that any very close intimacy
was established between them. In conjunction with Sir William Grant, Mr.
Osgoode was appointed on several legal commissions. One of these consisted
of the codification of certain Imperial Statutes relating to the colonies.
Another commission in which he took part was an enquiry into the amount of
fees receivable by certain officials in the Court of King's Bench, which
enquiry was still pending at the time of his death. He lived very much
to himself, though he was sometimes seen in society. He died of acute
pneumonia on the 17th of January, 1824, in the seventieth year of his
age. One of his intimate friends has left the following estimate of his
character:--"His opinions were independent, but zealously loyal; nor were
they ever concealed, or the defence of them abandoned, when occasions
called them forth. His conviction of the excellence of the English
Constitution sometimes made him severe in the reproof of measures which he
thought injurious to it; but his politeness and good temper prevented any
disagreement even with those whose sentiments were most opposed to his own.
To estimate his character rightly, it was, however, necessary to know him
well; his first approaches being cold, amounting almost to dryness. But no
person admitted to his intimacy ever failed to conceive for him that esteem
which his conduct and conversation always tended to augment. He died in
affluent circumstances, the result of laudable prudence, without the
smallest taint of avarice or illiberal parsimony. On the contrary, he lived
generously, and though he never wasted his property, yet he never spared,
either to himself or friends, any reasonable indulgence; nor was he
backward in acts of charity or benevolence."

He was never married. There is a story about an attachment formed by him
to a young lady of Quebec, during his residence there. It is said that
the lady preferred a wealthier suitor, and that he never again became
heart-whole. This, like the other story above mentioned, rests upon mere
rumour, and is entitled to the credence attached to other rumours of a
similar nature. His name is perpetuated in this Province by that of the
stately Palace of Justice on Queen Street West, Toronto; also, by the name
of a township in the county of Carleton.


Towards the close of last century there was in the City of London, England,
a prominent mercantile house which carried on business under the style of
"J. Thomson, T. Bonar & Co." The branch of commerce to which this house
chiefly devoted its attention was the Russian trade. It had existed,
under various styles, for more than a hundred years, and had built up so
extensive a trade as to have a branch establishment at the Russian capital.
The senior partner of the firm was John Thomson of Waverley Abbey, and
Roehampton, in the county of Surrey. In the year 1820 this gentleman
assumed the name of Poulett--in remembrance of his mother, who was heiress
of a branch of the family of that name--and he was afterwards known as John
Poulett Thomson. In 1781 he married Miss Charlotte Jacob, daughter of a
physician at Salisbury. By this lady he had a numerous family, consisting
of nine children. The youngest of these, Charles Edward Poulett Thomson,
destined to be the first governor of United Canada, and to be raised to
the peerage under the title of Baron Sydenham, was born on the 13th
of September, 1799, at the family seat in Surrey--Waverley Abbey,
above-mentioned. His mother had long been in delicate health, and at the
time of his birth was so feeble as to give rise to much solicitude as to
her chances of recovery. She finally rallied, but for some months she led
the life of an invalid. Her feebleness reflected itself in the constitution
of her son, who never attained to much physical strength. The feebleness of
his body was doubtless increased by the nervous activity of his intellect,
which constantly impelled him to mental feats incompatible with his
delicate frame. It may be said that he passed through the forty-two
years which made up the measure of his life in a chronic state of bodily
infirmity. The fret and worry incidental to an ambitious parliamentary and
official career doubtless also contributed their share to the shortening of
his life.

His childhood was marked by a sprightly grace and beauty which made him a
general favourite. In his fourth year he was for a time the especial pet of
his Majesty King George III. He made the King's acquaintance at Weymouth,
where, with other members of his family, he spent part of the summer of
1803. While walking on the Parade, in charge of his nurse, his beauty and
sprightliness attracted the notice of His Majesty, who was also spending
the season there, in the hope of regaining that physical and mental vigour
which never returned to him. The King was much taken with the vivacity and
pert replies of the handsome little fellow, and insisted on a daily visit
from him. The child's conquest over the royal heart was complete, and His
Majesty seemed to be never so well pleased as when he had little Master
Thomson in his arms, carrying him about, and showing him whatever amusing
sights the place afforded. On one occasion the King was standing on the
shore near the pier-head, in conversation with Mr. Pitt, who had come down
from London to confer with His Majesty about affairs of State. His Majesty
was about to embark in the royal yacht for a short cruise, and, as was
usual at that time of the day, he had Master Thomson in his arms. When just
on the point of embarking, he suddenly placed the child in the arms of Mr.
Pitt, saying hurriedly, "Is not this a fine boy, Pitt? Take him in your
arms, Pitt--take him in your arms. Charming boy, isn't he?" Pitt complied
with the royal request with the best grace he could, and carried the child
in his arms to the door of his lodgings.

At the age of seven, Master Thomson was sent to a private school at
Hanwell, whence, three years afterwards, he was transferred to the charge
of the Rev. Mr. Wooley, at Middleton. After spending a short time there, he
became a pupil of the Rev. Mr. Church, at Hampton, where he remained until
he had nearly completed his sixteenth year. He then left school--his
education, of course, being far from complete--and entered the service of
his father's firm. It was determined that he should begin his mercantile
career in the St. Petersburg branch, and in the summer of 1815 he was
despatched to Russia. His fine manners and address, combined with the
wealth and influence of the firm to which he was allied, obtained him
access to the best society of St. Petersburg, where he spent more than
two years. In the autumn of 1817, upon his recovery from a rather serious
illness, it was thought desirable that he should spend the coming winter in
a milder climate than that of St. Petersburg, and he returned to his native
land. The next two or three years were spent in travelling on the Continent
with other members of his family. He then entered the counting-house in
London, where he spent about eighteen months. This brings us down to the
year 1821. In the spring of that year he was admitted as a partner in the
firm, and once more went out to St. Petersburg, where he again remained
nearly two years. He then entered upon a somewhat prolonged tour through
central and southern Russia, and across country to Vienna, where he spent
the winter of 1823-4, and part of the following spring. Towards the end of
April he set out for Paris, where his mother was confined by illness, and
where she breathed her last almost immediately after her son's arrival. Mr.
Thomson soon afterwards returned to London, where he settled down as one of
the managing partners of the commercial establishment. In this capacity he
displayed the same energy which subsequently distinguished his political
and diplomatic career. He took a lively interest in the political questions
of the day; more especially in those relating to commercial matters. He was
a pronounced Liberal, and a strenuous advocate of free-trade. In the summer
of 1825 advances were made to him to become the Liberal candidate for Dover
at the next election. After due consideration he responded favourably to
these advances, and was in due course returned by a considerable majority.
One of his earliest votes in the House of Commons was in favour of
free-trade. He soon became known as a ready and effective speaker, whose
judgment on commercial questions was entitled to respect. His zeal for the
principles of his party was also conspicuous, and when Earl Grey formed his
Administration in November, 1830, the office of Vice-President of the Board
of Trade, together with the Treasurership of the Navy, was offered to and
accepted by Mr. Thomson. He was at the same time sworn in as a member
of the Privy Council. The acceptance of the former office rendered it
necessary for him to sever his connection with the commercial firm of
which he had up to this time been a member, and he never again engaged in
mercantile business of any kind. By this time, indeed, he had established
for himself a reputation of no common order. The part he had taken in
the debates of the House, and in the proceedings of its Committees, on
questions connected with commerce and finance, had proved him to possess
not only a clear practical acquaintance with the details of these subjects,
but also principles of an enlarged and liberal character, and powers of
generalization and a comprehensiveness of view rarely found combined in so
young a man. The next three or four years were busy ones with him. It will
be remembered that this was the era of the Reform Bill. Mr. Thomson did not
take a prominent part in the discussions on that measure, his time being
fully occupied with the financial and fiscal policy, but he put forth the
weight of his influence in favour of the Bill. His principal efforts,
during his tenure of office, were directed to the simplification and
amendment of the Customs Act, and to an ineffectual attempt to negotiate
a commercial treaty with France. After the dissolution in 1831 he was
re-elected for Dover. He was, however, also elected--without any canvass or
solicitation on his part--for Manchester, the most important manufacturing
constituency in the kingdom; and he chose to sit for the latter. In 1834
he succeeded to the Presidency of the Board of Trade, as successor to
Lord Auckland. Then followed Earl Grey's resignation and Lord Melbourne's
accession. On the dismissal of the Ministry in November, Mr. Thomson was,
of course, left without office, but on Lord Melbourne's re-accession in
the following spring he was reinstated in the Presidency of the Board
of Trade--an office which he continued to hold until his appointment as
Governor-General of Canada.

Early in 1836 his health had become so seriously affected by his official
labours that he began to recognize the necessity of resigning his office,
and of accepting some post which would not so severely tax his energies.
He continued to discharge his official duties, however, until the
reconstruction of Lord Melbourne's Administration in 1839, when he
signified his wish to be relieved. He was offered a choice between the
office of Chancellor of the Exchequer and that of Governor-General of
Canada. He chose the latter, and having received his appointment and been
sworn in before the Privy Council, he set sail from Portsmouth for Quebec
on the 13th of September, which was the fortieth anniversary of his birth.
He reached his destination after a tedious, stormy voyage, and assumed the
reins of government on the 19th of October. He was well received in this
country. The mercantile community of Canada were especially disposed to
favour the appointment of a man who had himself been bred to commercial
pursuits, and who would be likely to feel a more than ordinary interest in
promoting commercial interests.

Canada was at this time in a state of transition. Owing to the strenuous
exertions of the Reform party in this country, seconded by Lord Durham's
famous "Report," the concession of Responsible Government and the union of
the provinces had been determined upon by the Home Ministry. It was Mr.
Thomson's mission to see these two most desirable objects carried out. He
had a most difficult part to play. As a pronounced Liberal, he naturally
had the confidence of the Reform party, but there were a few prominent
members of that party who did not approve of the Union project, and he felt
that he could not count upon their cordial support. True, the opponents
of the measure constituted a very small minority of the Reform party
generally; but there was another party from whom the strongest opposition
was to be expected--the Family Compact. This faction was not yet extinct,
though its days were numbered. It still controlled the Legislative Council,
which body had already recorded a vote hostile to the Union. The
situation was one calling for the exercise of great tact, and the new
Governor-General proved himself equal to the occasion. He made no changes
in the composition either of the Special Council of the Lower Province--a
body formed under Imperial sanction by Sir John Colborne--or in that of
the Legislative Council of Upper Canada. After a short stay at Quebec he
proceeded to Montreal, and convoked the Special Council on the 11th of
November. He laid before this body the views of the Imperial Ministry
relating to the union of the Provinces, and the concession of Responsible
Government. By the time the Council had been in session two days the
majority of the members were fully in accord with the Governor's views, and
a series of resolutions were passed as a basis of Union. This disposed
of the question, so far as the Lower Province was concerned, and after
discharging the Council from further attendance, Mr. Thomson proceeded to
Toronto to gain the assent of the Upper Canadian Legislature. With the
Assembly no difficulty was anticipated, but to gain the assent of the Tory
majority in the Legislative Council would evidently be no easy matter,
for the success of the Governor's policy involved the triumph of Reform
principles, and the inevitable downfall of the Family Compact. The
Governor's tact, however, placed them in an anomalous position. For several
years past the Tory party had been boasting of their success in putting
down the Rebellion, and had raised a loud and senseless howl of loyalty.
They were never weary of proclaiming their devotion to the Imperial
will, irrespective of selfish considerations. This cry, which had been
perpetually resounding throughout the Province during the last three years,
supplied the Governor with the means of bending to his pleasure those
who had raised it. He delivered a message to the Legislature in which he
defined the Imperial policy, and appealed in the strongest terms to those
professions of loyalty which the Tory majority in the Council were for ever
proclaiming. He also published a circular despatch from Lord John Russell,
the tone of which was an echo of that of his own message. The Tory majority
were thus placed on the horns of a dilemma. They must either display their
much-vaunted loyalty, by acceding to the Imperial will, or they must admit
that their blatant professions had been mere party cries to deceive
the electors. Their opposition, moreover, would render necessary the
resignation of their offices. With the best grace they could, they
announced their intention to support the Imperial policy. The Assembly
passed resolutions in accordance with the spirit of Governor's message.
Nothing further was necessary to render the Union an accomplished fact;
except the sanction of the Imperial Parliament. A Union Bill, framed under
the supervision of Sir James Stuart, Chief Justice of Lower Canada, was
forwarded to England, where, in a slightly modified form, it was passed by
both Houses, and received the royal assent. Owing to a suspending clause in
the Bill, it did not come into operation until the 10th of February, 1841,
when, by virtue of the Governor-General's proclamation, the measure took
effect, and the union of the Canadas was complete.

Soon after the close of the session of the Upper Canadian Legislature,
Mr. Thomson was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Sydenham, of
Sydenham, in Kent, and Toronto in Canada. The greater part of the following
autumn was spent by him in travelling about through the Upper Province. He
seems to have been greatly pleased both with the country and the people.
The following extract from a private letter, written from the shores of the
Bay of Quinté on the 18th of September, is worth quoting, as showing
the impressions of an intelligent observer at that time:--"Amherstburg,
Sandwich, River St. Clair, Lake Huron, Goderich, Chatham, London,
Woodstock, Brantford, Simcoe, the Talbot Road and Settlement, Hamilton,
Dundas, and so back to Toronto--you can follow me on a map. From Toronto
across Lake Simcoe to Penetangnishene on Lake Huron again, and back to
Toronto, which I left again last night for the Bay of Quinté, all parties
uniting in addresses at every place, full of confidence in my government,
and of a determination to forget their former disputes. Escorts of two
and three hundred farmers on horseback at every place from township to
township, with all the etceteras of guns, music, and flags. What is of more
importance, my candidates everywhere taken for the ensuing elections. In
short, such unanimity and confidence I never saw, and it augurs well for
the future.... The fact is that the truth of my original notion of the
people of this country is now confirmed. The _mass_ only wanted the
vigorous interference of a well-intentioned government, strong enough to
control both the extreme parties, and to proclaim wholesome truths and act
for the benefit of the country at large, in defiance of ultras on either
side. But, apart from all this political effort, I am delighted to have
seen this part of the country--I mean the great district, nearly as large
as Ireland, placed between the three lakes, Erie, Ontario, and Huron. You
can conceive nothing finer. The most magnificent soil in the world; four
feet of vegetable mould; a climate, certainly the best in North America.
The greater part of it admirably watered. In a word, there is land enough
and capabilities enough for some millions of people, and for one of the
finest Provinces in the world. The most perfect contrast to that miserable
strip of land along the St. Lawrence called Lower Canada, which has given
so much trouble. I shall fix the capital of the United Provinces in this
one, of course. Kingston will most probably be the place. But there is
everything to be done there yet, to provide accommodation for the meeting
of the Assembly in the spring."

As suggested in the foregoing extract, Kingston was fixed upon as the seat
of Government of the United Provinces, and the Legislature assembled there
on the 13th of June, 1841. The Governor-General's speech at the opening
of the session was marked by tact, moderation, and good sense. A strong
Opposition, however, soon began to manifest itself, and Mr. Neilson, of
Quebec, moved an amendment to the Address directly condemnatory of the
Union. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 50 to 25. Throughout the
session nearly all the Government measures received the support of the
House, an important exception being the French Election Bill. Meanwhile
the state of Lord Sydenham's health was such as to render his duties very
difficult for him, and as the great object of his mission to Canada had
been successfully accomplished, he resolved to return home at the close of
the session. He forwarded his resignation to the Home Secretary, having
already received leave of absence which would obviate the necessity of his
remaining at his post until the acceptance of his resignation. Of this
leave, however, he was not destined to avail himself. On the 4th of
September he felt himself well enough to ride out on horseback. While
returning homeward he put his horse to a canter, just as he began to ascend
a little hill not far from Alwington House, his residence, near the lake
shore. When about half way up the hill, the horse stumbled and fell,
crashing his rider's right leg beneath his weight. The animal rose to
its feet and dragged Lord Sydenham--whose right foot was fast in the
stirrup--for a short distance. One of his aides, who just then rode up,
rescued the Governor from his perilous position and conveyed him home, when
it was found that the principal bone of his right leg, above the knee, had
sustained an oblique fracture, and that the limb had also received a severe
wound from being bruised against a sharp stone, which had cut deeply and
lacerated the flesh and sinews. Notwithstanding these serious injuries, and
the shock which his nervous system had sustained, his medical attendants
did not at first anticipate danger to his life. He continued free from
fever, and his wounds seemed to be going on satisfactorily; but he was
debilitated by perpetual sleeplessness and inability to rest long in one
position. On the ninth day after his injury dangerous symptoms began to
manifest themselves, and it soon became apparent that he would not recover.
After a fortnight of great suffering, he breathed his last on Sunday, the
19th, having completed his forty-second year six days previously.

"His fame," says his biographer, "must rest not so much on what he did or
said in Parliament as on what he did and proposed to do out of it--on his
consistent and to a great degree successful efforts to expose the fallacy
of the miscalled Protective system, and gradually, but effectively, to root
it out of the statute-book, and thereby to free the universal industry of
Britain from the mischievous shackles imposed by an ignorant and mistaken

His Canadian administration may be looked upon as a brief and brilliant
episode in his public career. In private life he was much loved and highly
esteemed. His amiable disposition and pleasing manner excited the warmest
attachment among those who were admitted to his intimacy, and in every
circumstance that affected their happiness he always appeared to take a
lively personal interest. In the midst of his occupations he always had
time for works of kindness and charity. In a letter to an idle friend who
had been remiss in correspondence, he once said, "Of course you have no
time. No one ever has who has nothing to do." His assistance was always
promptly and eagerly afforded whenever he could serve his friends, or
confer a favour on a deserving object. His integrity and sense of honour
were high, and his disinterestedness was almost carried to excess. The
remuneration for his official services was lower than that of any other
official of equal standing, and far below his deserts. Never having
married, however, owing to an early disappointment, his needs were
moderate, and his private fortune considerable. His person and manner were
very prepossessing, and his aptitude and acquired knowledge great. He was
very popular in the social circle, and his death left a void among his
friends which was never filled.


"Go to; the boy is a born generalissimo, and is destined to be a Marshal of
France," said M. Ricot, holding up his hands in amazement. The boy referred
to was a little fellow seven or eight years of age, by name Louis Joseph de
Saint Veran. M. Ricot was his tutor, and was led to express himself after
this fashion in consequence of some precocious criticisms of his pupil
on the tactics employed by Caius Julius Cæsar at a battle fought in
Transalpine Gaul fifty odd years before the advent of the Christian era.
It was evident to the critic's youthful mind that the battle ought to have
resulted differently, and that if the foes of "the mighty Julius" had
had the wit to take advantage of his indiscretion, certain pages of the
"Commentaries" might have been conceived in a less boastful spirit. Little
Louis Joseph had sketched a rough plan, showing the respective positions of
the opposing forces, and had then demanded of his tutor why _this_ had not
been done, why _that_ had been neglected, and why _the other_ had never
been even so much as thought of. M. Ricot, after carefully following out
the reasoning of his pupil, could find no weak point therein, and was fain
to admit that the Great Roman had been guilty of a huge blunder in
the arrangement of his forces. Fortunately for the General's military
reputation, the Gauls had been beaten in spite of his defective strategy,
and he himself had survived to transmit to posterity a rather egotistical
account of the affair. M. Ricot had been reading those "Commentaries"
all his life--reading them, as he supposed, critically--but he had never
lighted upon the discovery which his present pupil had made upon a first
perusal. Well might he exclaim, "Go to; the boy is a born generalissimo,
and is destined to be a marshal of France."

Such is the anecdote--preserved in an old volume of French memoirs--of the
childhood of him who subsequently became famous on two continents, and
who for more than a hundred years past has been accounted one of the most
redoubtable commanders of his age. If the story is true, certainly the
Marquis de Montcalm did not carry out the splendid promise of his boyhood.
He lived to fight the battles of his country with unflinching courage, with
a tolerable amount of military skill, and with a tenacity of purpose that
often achieved success against tremendous odds. But, unlike the great
general to whom, during the last few weeks of his life, it was his fortune
to be opposed, he never gave any evidence of possessing an original
military genius--such a genius as would seem to have been possessed by the
youth who figures in the foregoing anecdote. His chivalrous bravery, his
high-bred courtesy, and, more than all, his untimely death, have done much
to make his name famous in history, and to obscure certain features of
character which we are not usually accustomed to associate with greatness.
"History," says Cooper, "is like love, and is apt to surround her heroes
with an atmosphere of imaginary brightness. It is probable that Louis de
Saint Veran will be viewed by posterity only as the gallant defender of his
country, while his cruel apathy on the shores of the Oswego and the Horican
will be forgotten."

He was descended from a noble French family, and was born at the Chateau of
Candiac, near Nismes, in southern France, on the 28th of February, 1712.
Concerning his early years but few particulars have come down to us. He
seems to have entered the army before he had completed his fourteenth year,
and to have distinguished himself in various campaigns in Germany, Bohemia
and Italy during the war for the Austrian succession. At the disastrous
battle of Piacenza, in Italy, fought in the year 1746, he gained the
rank of colonel; and in 1749 he became a brigadier-general. Seven years
subsequent to the latter date he began to figure conspicuously in Canadian
history, and from that time forward we are able to trace his career
pretty closely. Early in 1756, having been elevated to the rank of a
Field-Marshal--thus verifying the prediction of his old tutor--he was
appointed successor to the Baron Dieskau in the chief command of the French
forces in this country. He sailed from France early in April, and arrived
at Quebec about a month afterwards. He was accompanied across the Atlantic
by a large reinforcement, consisting of nearly 14,000 regular troops, and
an ample supply of munitions of war. He at once began to set on foot those
active operations against the British in America which were followed
up with such unremitting vigilance throughout the greater part of the
following three years.

The state of affairs in Canada at this period may be briefly summarized
as follows:--The Government was administered by the Marquis de
Vaudreuil-Cavagnal, a man ill-fitted for so onerous a position in such
troublous times. The colony extended from the seaboard to the far west,
through the valley of the Ohio, and had a white population of about 80,000.
Previous to Montcalm's arrival there were 3,000 veteran French troops in
the country, in addition to a well-trained militia. The country, indeed,
was an essentially military settlement, and the people felt that they might
at any time be called upon to defend their frontiers. The countless tribes
and offshoots of the Huron-Algonquin Indians had cast in their lot with the
French, and were to contribute not a little to the success of many of their
warlike operations. The French, by means of their forts at Niagara, Toronto
and Frontenac (Kingston), held almost undisputed sovereignty over Lake
Ontario; and their forts at Crown Point and Ticonderoga enabled them to
control Lake Champlain.

Still, the French colonists laboured under some serious disadvantages,
which contributed eventually to decide the contest adversely to them. They
had given comparatively little attention to the cultivation of the soil,
and suffered from a chronic scarcity of food. They were subjected to feudal
exactions ill-suited to the condition of the country, and were further
impoverished by huge commercial monopolies. Every branch of the public
service was corrupt, and the peculations of the officials, if not shared
by the Governor himself, were at least winked at or sanctioned by him.
Montcalm, whatever may have been his shortcomings in some respects, was no
self-seeker, and was very properly disgusted with the mal-administration
which everywhere prevailed. His dissatisfaction with, and contempt for, the
Governor, had the effect of producing much internal dissention among the
Canadians, and of hastening the downfall of French dominion in the colony.

The population of the British colonies at this time was not much less than
three millions; but this population, unlike that of Canada, knew little of
military affairs. The British colonists had spent their time in commercial
and agricultural pursuits, and had not cast loose from the spirit of
puritanism which had animated the breasts of their forefathers. As compared
with the mother-country they were poor enough in all conscience, but they
were as a rule, frugal, industrious and intelligent; and, as compared with
their Canadian neighbours, they might almost be said to be in affluent
circumstances. They possessed in an eminent degree those qualities--energy,
endurance, and courage--which mark the Anglo-Saxon race in every quarter of
the globe. Such a foe, if once disciplined and roused to united action, was
not to be despised, even by the veteran battalions of France, and the most
Christian King showed his appreciation of this fact by sending against them
a general who was regarded as the most consummate soldier in Europe.

Having arrived at Quebec about the middle of May, Montcalm lost no time in
opening the campaign. One of his earliest proceedings was to lay siege to
Fort Oswego, which after a faint resistance, was compelled to surrender.
Articles of capitulation were signed, the British laid down their arms, and
the fort was delivered over to the conquerors. One hundred and thirty-four
cannon and a large quantity of specie and military stores became the spoil
of the victors, and more than 1,600 British subjects, including 120 women
and children, became prisoners of war.

Up to this epoch in his career the conduct of the Marquis de Montcalm
had been such as to deserve the unqualified admiration alike of his
contemporaries and of posterity. Though not past his prime, he had achieved
the highest military distinction which his sovereign could bestow. His
chivalrous courage had been signally displayed on many a hard-fought field,
and his urbanity, amiability, and generosity had made him the idol of
his soldiers. He had a manner at once grand and ingratiating, and in his
intercourse with others he manifested a _bonhomme_ that caused him to be
beloved alike by the simple soldier and the haughty _noblesse_ of his
native land. Considering his opportunities he had been a diligent student,
and had improved his mind by familiarity with the productions of many of
the greatest writers of ancient and modern times. By far the greater
part of his life had been spent in the service of his country, and when
compelled to endure the privations incidental to an active military life
in the midst of war, he had ever been ready to share his crust with the
humblest soldier in the ranks. Up to this time every action of his life
had seemed to indicate that he was a man of high principle and stainless
honour. If it had been his good fortune to die before the fall of Oswego
his name would have been handed down to future times as a perfect mirror of
chivalry--a knight without fear and without reproach. It is sad to think
that a career hitherto without a blot should have been marred with repeated
acts of cruelty and breaches of faith. On both counts of this indictment
the Marquis of Montcalm must be pronounced guilty; and in view of his
conduct at Oswego, and afterwards at Fort William Henry, the only
conclusion at which the impartial historian can arrive is that he was
lamentably deficient in the highest attributes of character.

Fort Oswego was surrendered on the 14th of August. By the terms of
capitulation the sick and wounded were specially entrusted to Montcalm,
whose word was solemnly pledged for their protection and safe conduct. How
was the pledge redeemed? No sooner were the British deprived of their arms
than the Indian allies of the French were permitted to swoop down upon the
defenceless prisoners and execute upon them their savage will. The sick and
wounded were scalped, slain, and barbarously mutilated before the eyes of
the Marshal of France, who had guaranteed that not a hair of their heads
should fall. Nay, more; a score of the prisoners were deliberately handed
over to the savages to be ruthlessly butchered, as an offering to the manes
of an equal number of Indians who had been slain during the siege.

Such are the unimpeachable facts of the massacre at Oswego. It is not
probable that these proceedings on the part of the Indians were agreeable
to the feelings of Montcalm, or that he consented to them with a very good
grace. The noble representative of the highest civilization in Europe
could scarcely have taken pleasure in witnessing the hideous massacre
of defenceless women and children. But he was anxious to retain the
co-operation of his red allies at any cost, and had not the moral greatness
to exercise his authority to restrain their savage lust for blood. It has
been contended by some defenders of his fame that he had no choice in the
matter--that the ferocity of the savages was aroused, and could not be
controlled. It is sufficient to say in reply that those who argue thus must
wilfully shut their eyes to the facts. Was it because he could not restrain
his allies that he, without remonstrance, delivered up to them twenty
British soldiers to be tortured, cut to pieces, and burned? Was he unable
to restrain them when he finally became sickened with their butchery and
personally interposed to prevent its further continuance? From the moment
when his will was unmistakably made known to the Indians the massacre
ceased; and if he had been true to himself and his solemnly-plighted word
from the beginning, that massacre would never have begun. By no specious
argument can he be held guiltless of the blood of those luckless victims
whose dismembered limbs were left to fester before the entrenchments at

With the surrender of Oswego Great Britain lost her last vestige of control
over Lake Ontario. The fort was demolished, and the French returned to
the eastern part of the Province. The result of the campaign of 1756 was
decidedly in favour of the French, and Montcalm's reputation as a military
commander rose rapidly, though his conduct at Oswego led to his being
looked upon with a sort of distrust that had never before attached to his
name. His courage and generalship, however, were unimpeachable, and his
vigilance never slept. During the following winter his spies scoured the
frontiers of the British settlements, and gained early intelligence of
every important movement of the forces. Among other information, he learned
that the British had a vast store of provisions and munitions of war at
Fort William Henry, at the southwestern extremity of Lake George. Early in
the spring, Montcalm resolved to capture this fort, and to possess himself
of the stores. On the 16th of March, 1757, he landed on the opposite side
of the lake, at a place called Long Point. Next day, having rounded the
head of the lake, he attacked the fort; but the garrison made a vigorous
defence, and he was compelled to retire to Fort Ticonderoga, at the foot of
the lake! For several months afterwards his attention was distracted from
Fort William Henry by operations in different parts of the Province; but
early in the month of August he renewed the attempt with a force consisting
of 7,000 French and Canadian troops, 2,000 Indians, and a powerful train of
artillery. The garrison consisted of 2,300 men, besides women and children.
To tell the story of the second siege and final surrender of Fort William
Henry would require pages. Suffice it to say that the dire tragedy of
Oswego was re-enacted on a much more extended scale. For six days the
garrison was valiantly defended by Lieutenant-Colonel Munro, a veteran of
the 35th Regiment of the line. Day after day did the gallant old soldier
defend his trust, waiting in vain for succours that never arrived. Finally,
when he learned that no succours were to be expected, and that to prolong
the strife would simply be to throw away the lives of his men, he had
an interview with the French commander and agreed to an honourable

Again did Montcalm pledge his sacred word for the safety of the garrison,
which was to be escorted to Fort Edward by a detatchment of French troops.
The sick and wounded were to be taken under his own protection until their
recovery, when they were to be permitted to return to their own camp.

Such were the terms of capitulation; terms which were honourable, to the
victor, and which the vanquished could accept without ignominy. How were
these terms carried out? No sooner were the garrison well clear of the fort
than the shrill war-whoop of the Indians was heard, and there ensued a
slaughter so terrible, so indiscriminate, and so inconceivably hideous in
all its details that even the history of pioneer warfare hardly furnishes
any parallel to it. Nearly a thousand victims were slain on the spot, and
hundreds more were carried away into hopeless captivity. No more graphic or
historically accurate description of that scene has ever been written than
is to be found in "The Last of the Mohicans," where we read that no sooner
had the war-whoop sounded than upwards of two thousand raging savages burst
from the forest and threw themselves across the plain with instinctive
alacrity. "Death was everywhere, in its most terrific and disgusting
aspects. Resistance only served to inflame the murderers, who inflicted
their furious blows long after their victims were beyond the reach of their
resentment. The flow of blood might be likened to the outbreaking of a
gushing torrent; and as the natives became heated and maddened by the
sight, many among them kneeled on the earth and drank; freely, exultingly,
hellishly, of the crimson tide. The trained bodies of the British troops
threw themselves quickly into solid masses, endeavouring to awe their
assailants by the imposing appearance of a military front. The experiment
in some measure succeeded, though many suffered their unloaded muskets to
be torn from their hands in the vain hope of appeasing the savages."

It has been alleged on Montcalm's behalf that when the slaughter began he
used his utmost endeavours to arrest it. His utmost endeavours! Why, even
if his command was insufficient to restrain his allies, he had seven
thousand regular troops with arms in their hands, at his back. Instead of
theatrically baring his breast, and calling upon the savages to slay him in
place of the English, for whom his honour was plighted, he would have done
well to have kept that honour unsullied by observing the plain terms of
capitulation, and providing a suitable escort. Instead of calling upon the
British--hampered as they were by the presence of their sick, and of their
women and children--to defend themselves, he should have called upon his
own troops to protect his honour and that of France. Had his promised
escort been provided no attempt would have been made by the Indians, and
the tragedy at Oswego might in process of time have come to be regarded as
a mere mischance. But no such excuse can now be of any avail. According to
some accounts of this second massacre, no escort whatever was furnished.
According to others, the escort was a mere mockery, consisting of a totally
inadequate number of French troops, who were very willing to see their
enemies butchered, and who did not even make any attempt to restrain their
allies. All that can be known for certain is, that if there was any escort
at all it was wholly ineffective; and, leaving humanity altogether out of
the question, this was in itself an express violation of the terms upon
which the garrison had been surrendered. The massacre at Fort William Henry
followed one short year after that at Oswego, and the two combined have
left a stain upon the memory of the man who permitted them which no time
can ever wash away.

Time and space alike fail us to describe at length the subsequent campaigns
of that and the following year. Montcalm's defence of Fort Ticonderoga on
the 8th of June, 1758, was a masterly piece of strategy, and was unmarred
by any incident to detract from the honour of his victory, which was
achieved against stupendous odds. Ticonderoga continued to be Montcalm's
headquarters until Quebec was threatened by the British under Wolfe; when
he at once abandoned the shores of Lake Champlain, and mustered all his
forces for the defence of the capital of the French colony.

The siege of Quebec has been described at length in a former sketch, and it
is unnecessary to add much to that description here. It will be remembered
how Wolfe landed at _L'Anse du Foulon_ in the darkness of the night of
September 12th, 1759, and how the British troops scaled the precipitous
heights leading to the Plains of Abraham. Intelligence of this momentous
event reached Montcalm, at his headquarters at Beauport, about daybreak on
the morning of the 13th. "Aha," said the General, "then they have at last
got to the weak side of this miserable garrison." He at once issued orders
to break up the camp, and led his army across the St. Charles River, past
the northern ramparts of the city, and thence on to the plains of Abraham,
where Wolfe and his forces were impatiently awaiting his arrival. The
battle was of short duration. The first deadly volley fired by the British
decided the fortunes of the day, and the French fled across the plains
in the direction of the citadel. Montcalm, who had himself received a
dangerous wound, rode hither and thither, and used his utmost endeavour to
rally his flying troops. While so engaged he received a mortal wound, and
sank to the ground. From that moment there was no attempt to oppose the
victorious British, whose general had likewise fallen in the conflict.

Montcalm's wound, though mortal, was not immediately so, and he survived
until the following day. When the surgeons proceeded to examine his wound
the general asked if it was mortal. They replied in the affirmative. "How
long before the end?" he calmly enquired. He was informed that the end was
not far off, and would certainly, arrive before many hours. "So much the
better," was the comment of the dying soldier--"I shall not live to see the
surrender of Quebec." The commander of the garrison asked for instructions
as to the further defence of the city, but Montcalm declined to occupy
himself any longer with worldly affairs. Still, even at this solemn moment,
the courteous urbanity by which he had always been distinguished did not
desert him. "To your keeping," he said, to De Ramesey, "I commend the
honour of France. I wish you all comfort, and that you may be happily
extricated from your present perplexities. As for me, my time is short, and
I have matters of more importance to attend to than the defence of Quebec
I shall pass the night with God, and prepare myself for death." Not long
afterwards he again spoke: "Since it was my misfortune to be discomfitted
and mortally wounded, it is a great consolation to me to be vanquished by
so great and generous an enemy. If I could survive this wound, I would
engage to beat three times the number of such forces as I commanded this
morning with a third of their number of British troops." His chaplain
arrived about this time, accompanied by the bishop of the colony, from
whom the dying man received the last sacred offices of the Roman Catholic
religion. He lingered for some hours afterwards, and finally passed away,
to all outward seeming, with calmness and resignation.

It seems like an ungrateful task to recur to the frailties of a brave and
chivalrous man, more especially when he dies in the odour of sanctity.
But as we ponder upon that final scene in the life of the gay, charming,
brilliant Marquis of Montcalm, we cannot avoid wondering whether the
"sheeted ghosts" of the wounded men, helpless women, and innocent babes who
were so ruthlessly slaughtered at Oswego and William Henry flitted around
his pillow in these last fleeting moments. Notwithstanding the fact that
his mind seemed to receive solace from the solemn rites in which he then
took part, we have never read the account of those last hours of Montcalm
without being reminded of the lines of the British Homer descriptive of the
death of him who fell "on Flodden's fatal field."

The exact place of Montcalm's death has never been definitely ascertained.
Various sites are indicated by different authorities, but no conclusive
evidence has been adduced in support of the claims of any of them. It is,
however, known for certain that his body was interred within the precincts
of the Ursuline Convent at Quebec, where a mural tablet was erected by
Lord Aylmer to his memory in 1832. The following is a translation of the


A few years ago his remains were disinterred, and his skull, with its base
enclosed in a military collar, is religiously preserved in a glass case
on a table in the convent. The monument to the joint memory of Wolfe and
Montcalm has been referred to in a previous sketch.

Thus lived and died the Marquis of Montcalm. He was forty-seven years of
age at the time of his death, and was constitutionally younger than his
years would seem to indicate. A Canadian historian thus sums up the
brighter side of his character: "Trained from his youth in the art of war;
laborious, just, and self-denying, he offered a remarkable exception to the
venality of the public men of Canada at this period, and in the midst of
universal corruption made the general good his aim. Night, the rushing
tide, veteran discipline, and more brilliant genius had given his rival the
victory. Yet he was not the less great; and while the name of Wolfe will
never be forgotten, that of Montcalm is also engraved by its side on the
enduring scroll of human fame. The latter has been censured for not abiding
the chances of a siege, rather than risking a battle. But with a town
already in ruins, a garrison deficient in provisions and ammunition, and an
enemy to contend with possessed of a formidable siege-train, the fire of
which must speedily silence his guns, he acted wisely in staking the issue
on a battle, in which, if he found defeat, he met also an honourable and a
glorious death."


James Bruce, who afterwards became eighth Earl of Elgin and twelfth Earl
of Kincardine, was born in London, on the 20th of July, 1811. He was the
second son of his father, the seventh Earl, whose embassy to Constantinople
at the beginning of the present century was indirectly the means of
procuring for him a reputation which will probably endure as long as the
English language. All readers of Byron are familiar with the circumstances
under which this reputation was gained. In the year 1799, Lord Elgin
was despatched by the British Government as envoy extraordinary to
Constantinople. During his embassy he had occasion to visit Athens, where
he found that the combined influence of time and the Turks was rapidly
destroying the magnificent vestiges of the past wherewith the city and its
neighbourhood abounded. Actuated by a wish to preserve some of these relics
of departed greatness--and probably wishing to connect his name with
their preservation--he conceived the idea of removing a few of the more
interesting of them to England. Without much difficulty he obtained
permission from the Porte to take away from the ruins of ancient Athens
"any stones that might appear interesting to him." The British Government
declined to lend its assistance to what some members of the Cabinet
regarded as an act of spoliation, and Lord Elgin was thus compelled to
carry out the project at his own expense. He hired a corps of artists,
labourers, and other assistants, most of whom were specially brought from
Italy to aid in the work. About ten years were spent in detaching from
the Parthenon, and in excavating from the rubbish at its base, numerous
specimens of various sculptures, all or most of which were presumed to have
been the handiwork of Phidias and his pupils. Other valuable sculptures
were disinterred from the ruins about the Acropolis, and elsewhere in the
neighbourhood. Upon the arrival in England of these great works of ancient
art all the world of London went to see and admire them. In 1816 they were
purchased for the nation for £35,000, and placed in the British Museum,
where they still remain. Many persons, however, censured Lord Elgin for
what they called his Vandalism in removing the relics from their native
land. Among those who assailed him on this score was Lord Byron, who hurled
anathemas at him both in prose and verse. "The Curse of Minerva" may fairly
be said to have made Lord Elgin's name immortal. The case made against him
in that fierce philippic, however, is grossly one-sided, as the author
himself subsequently acknowledged; and there is a good deal to be said on
the other side. The presence of these magnificent sculptures in the British
Museum gave an impetus to sculpture not only throughout Great Britain, but
to a less extent throughout the whole of Western Europe. It should also
be remembered that had they been permitted to remain where they were they
would most likely have been totally destroyed long before now in some of
the many violent scenes of which Athens has since been the theatre. Some
art critics have--more especially of late years--decried the workmanship of
these marbles, and have argued that they could not possibly have been the
work of Phidias. It is beyond doubt, however, that they display Greek art
at a splendid and mature stage of development, and their value to the
British nation is simply beyond price.

The subject of this sketch was destined to achieve a higher and less
dubious reputation than that of his father. Being only a second son, he was
not born heir-apparent to the family title and estates, and his education
was completed before--in consequence of the death of his elder brother and
of his father--he succeeded to the peerage. At the age of fourteen he
went to Eton, from which seat of learning he in due time passed to Christ
Church, Oxford. Here he formed one of a group of young men, many of whom
have since attained high distinction in political life. Among them we find
the names of William Ewart Gladstone, the late Duke of Newcastle (the
friend and guardian of the Prince of Wales upon the occasion of his visit
to this country in 1860), Sidney Herbert, James Ramsay (afterwards Earl
of Dalhousie, son of a former Governor-General of Canada), Lord Canning,
Robert Lowe, Edward Cardwell, and Roundell Palmer--now Lord Selborne.
Between young Bruce and two of these--Ramsay and Canning--an uncommonly
warm intimacy prevailed; and it is a somewhat curious coincidence that they
lived to be the three successive rulers of India during the transition
period of British Government there. Ramsay, then Lord Dalhousie, was the
last Governor before the breaking out of the Mutiny; Canning was the
over-ruler of the Mutiny; and Bruce, as Lord Elgin, was the first who went
out as Viceroy after the Indian Empire was brought under the government of
the Crown.

Among the brilliant young men who were his friends and compeers at college,
James Bruce is said to have been as conspicuous as any for the brilliancy
and originality of his speeches at the Union. Mr. Gladstone himself has
said of him, "I well remember placing him, as to the natural gift of
eloquence, at the head of all those I knew, either at Eton or at the
University." But he was not less distinguished by maturity of judgment, by
a love of abstract thought, and by those philosophical studies which lay
the foundation of true reasoning in the mind. In 1834 he published a
pamphlet to protest against a monopoly of Liberal sentiment by the
Whigs; and in 1841 he went into the House of Commons for Southampton on
Conservative principles, which had, however, a strong flavour of Whiggism
about them. He soon developed a remarkable aptitude for political life. He
seconded the Address which turned out Lord Melbourne and brought in Sir
Robert Peel, in a speech prophetically favourable to free trade, and he
would doubtless have been a cordial supporter of Peel's liberal commercial
policy had not his Parliamentary career speedily come to an end. In 1840,
George, Lord Bruce, elder brother of James, died, unmarried, and the latter
became heir-apparent to the family honours. On the 22nd of April, 1841, he
married Elizabeth Mary, daughter of Mr. C. L. Canning Bruce. The death of
his father soon afterwards raised him to the Scottish peerage. He had no
seat in either House of Parliament, and in 1842 he accepted from Lord
Stanley the office of Governor of Jamaica--an appointment which decided his
vocation in life. With his career at Jamaica we have no special concern,
and it need not detain us. It may be remarked, in passing, that he remained
there four years, during which period--owing, doubtless, in some measure to
the sudden death of his wife soon after their arrival in the island--he
led a somewhat secluded life. He quitted his post in 1846, and returned to
England. Almost immediately after his arrival there Lord Grey, the Colonial
Secretary, offered him the position of Governor-General of British North
America. He accepted it, says his biographer, not in the mere spirit of
selfish ambition, but with a deep sense of the responsibility attached to
it. It was arranged that he should go to Canada at the beginning of the
new year. In the interval, on November 7th, he married Lady Mary Louisa
Lambton, daughter of the first Earl of Durham, whose five months' sojourn
in this country in the year 1838 was destined to produce such important and
beneficial effects upon our Constitution. Lord Elgin was wont to say that
"The real and effectual vindication of Lord Durham's memory and proceedings
will be the success of a Governor-General of Canada who works out his views
of government fairly." Thus it happened that the young Conservative Peer,
who had already shaken off his early Tory prepossessions, found himself
called upon to build on the broad foundations laid by the most advanced
member of the Liberal party of that day, and to inaugurate the new
principle of government which Lord Durham and Charles Butler had conceived,
not merely in Canada, but throughout the colonial empire of Britain.
Leaving his bride behind him, to follow at a less inclement season, he set
out for the seat of his new duties early in January, and reached Montreal
on the 29th. He took up his quarters at Monklands, the suburban residence
of the Governor.

Nine years had elapsed since the Rebellion of 1837, Lord Durham, Lord
Sydenham, Sir Charles Bagot, Lord Metcalfe, and Lord Cathcart had
successively governed the North American Provinces in that short interval,
but--except in the case of Lord Durham--with not very satisfactory results.
The method of Responsible Government was new with us. The smouldering fires
of rebellion were only just extinguished. The repulsion of races was at
its strongest. The deposed clique which had virtually ruled the colony was
still furious, and the depressed section was suspicious and restive. It was
just at the time, too, when, between English and American legislation, we
were suffering at once from the evils of protection and free trade. The
principles upon which Lord Elgin undertook to carry on the administration
of the affairs of the colony were that he should identify himself with no
party, but make himself a mediator and moderator between the influential
of all parties; that he should retain no Ministers who did not enjoy the
confidence of the Assembly, or, in the last resort, of the people; and that
he should not refuse his consent to any measure proposed by his Ministry,
unless it should be of an extreme party character, such as the Assembly
or the people would be sure to disapprove of. For some months after
his arrival in this country matters went smoothly enough. The Draper
Administration, never very strong, had for several years been growing
gradually weaker and weaker, and was now tottering towards its fall; but so
far it could command a small majority of votes, and continued to hold the
reins of power. The result of the next general elections, however, which
were held at the close of the year, was the return of a large preponderance
of Reformers, among whom were nearly all the leading spirits of the Reform
Party. Upon the opening of Parliament on the 25th of February, 1848, the
Draper Administration resigned, and its leader accepted a seat on the
judicial bench. The Governor accordingly summoned the leaders of the
opposition to his councils, and the Baldwin-Lafontaine ministry was formed.
After a short session the House was prorogued on the 25th March. It did not
meet again until the 18th of January following. It is hardly necessary to
inform the Canadian reader that the Canadian Parliament sat at Montreal at
that time. During the session one of the stormiest episodes in our history
occurred. Every Canadian who has passed middle age remembers that disturbed
time. The excitement arose out of the Rebellion Losses Bill, as it was
called--a measure introduced by Mr. Lafontaine, the object of which was to
reimburse such of the inhabitants of the Lower Province as had sustained
loss from the rebellion of eleven years before. Within a very short time
after the close of that rebellion, the attention of both sections of the
colony was directed to compensating those who had suffered by it. First
came the case of the primary sufferers, if so they may be called; that is,
the Loyalists, whose property had been destroyed by rebels. Measures were
at once taken to indemnify all such persons--in Upper Canada, by an Act
passed in the last session of its separate Parliament; in Lower Canada,
by an ordinance of the Special Council, under which it was at that time
administered. But it was felt that this was not enough; that where property
had been wantonly and unnecessarily destroyed, even though it were by
persons acting in support of authority, some compensation ought to be
given; and the Upper Canada Act above mentioned was amended next year, in
the first session of the United Parliament, so as to extend to all losses
occasioned by violence on the part of persons acting or assuming to act on
Her Majesty's behalf. Nothing was done at this time about Lower Canada; but
it was obviously inevitable that the treatment applied to the one Province
should be extended to the other. Accordingly, in 1845, during Lord
Metcalfe's Government, and under a Conservative Administration, an Address
was adopted unanimously by the Assembly, praying His Excellency to cause
proper measures to be taken "in order to insure to the inhabitants of that
portion of the Province formerly Lower Canada indemnity for just losses by
them sustained during the Rebellion of 1837 and 1838." In pursuance of this
address, a Commission was appointed to inquire into the claims of persons
whose property had been destroyed in the Rebellion; the Commissioners
receiving instructions to distinguish the cases of persons who had abetted
the said rebellion from the cases of those who had not. The Commissioners
made their investigations, and reported that they had recognized, as worthy
of further inquiry, claims representing a sum total of £241,965 10s. 5d.;
but they added an expression of opinion that the losses suffered would be
found, on closer examination, not to exceed the value of £100,000. This
report was rendered in April, 1846; but though Lord Metcalfe's Ministry,
which had issued the Commission avowedly as preliminary to a subsequent and
more minute inquiry, remained in office for nearly two years longer, they
took no steps towards carrying out their declared intentions. So the matter
stood when the Baldwin-Lafontaine Administration was formed. It was natural
that they should take up the work left half done by their predecessors; and
early in the session of 1849 Mr. Lafontaine introduced the Rebellion Losses
Bill. The Opposition contrived to kindle a flame all over the country.
Meetings were held denouncing the measure, and petitions were presented to
the Governor with the obvious design of producing a collision between him
and Parliament. The Bill was finally passed in the Assembly by forty-seven
votes to eighteen. Out of thirty-one members from Upper Canada who voted
on the occasion, seventeen supported and fourteen opposed it; and of ten
members for Lower Canada of British descent, six supported and four opposed
it. "These facts," (wrote Lord Elgin) "seemed altogether irreconcilable
with the allegation that the question was one on which the two races were
arrayed against each other throughout the Province generally. I considered,
therefore, that by reserving the Bill, I should only cast on Her Majesty
and Her Majesty's advisers a responsibility which ought, in the first
instance at least, to rest on my own shoulders, and that I should awaken
in the minds of the people at large, even of those who were indifferent or
hostile to the Bill, doubts as to the sincerity with which it was intended
that constitutional Government should be carried on in Canada; doubts which
it is my firm conviction, if they were to obtain generally, would be fatal
to the connection."

On the 25th of April Lord Elgin went down to the Parliament Buildings and
gave his assent to the Bill. On leaving the House he was insulted by the
crowd, who pelted him with missiles. In the evening a disorderly mob intent
upon mischief got together and set fire to the Parliament Buildings,
which were burned to the ground. By this wanton act public property
of considerable value, including two excellent libraries, was utterly
destroyed. Having achieved their object the crowd dispersed, apparently
satisfied with what they had done. The members were permitted to retire
unmolested, and no resistance was offered to the military, who appeared
on the ground after a brief interval to restore order, and aid in
extinguishing the flames. During the two following days a good deal of
excitement prevailed in the streets, and some further acts of incendiarism
were perpetrated. Similar scenes on a somewhat smaller scale, were enacted
in Toronto and elsewhere in the Upper Province. The house of Mr. Baldwin
and some other prominent members of the Reform party were attacked, and the
owners burned in effigy.

Meanwhile addresses numerously signed came pouring in to the Governor from
all quarters, expressing entire confidence in the Administration, and
unbounded regret for the indignities to which he had been subjected.
Lord Elgin, however, felt bound to tender his resignation to the Home
Government. Meanwhile the Bill which had caused such an explosion in the
colony, was running the gauntlet of the British Parliament. On June 14th
it was vehemently attacked in the House of Commons. Mr. Gladstone himself
describing it as a "measure for rewarding rebels." The strongest pressure
had already been put upon Lord Elgin to induce him to refuse the Royal
Assent to the Bill. To do so would have been to place himself in direct
collision with his Parliament, and this he steadily refused to do. The Home
Government, represented by Lord Grey, firmly supported him, approved his
policy, and shortly afterwards conferred upon him a British peerage as an
acknowledgment of the unshaken confidence of the Queen. Being urgently
pressed to remain in office as Governor-General he consented, and the more
readily because the agitation soon quieted down. From this time we hear no
more of such disgraceful scenes, but it was long before the old "Family
Compact" party forgave the Governor who had dared to be impartial. By many
kinds of detraction they sought to weaken his influence and damage his
popularity. And as the members of this party, though they had lost their
monopoly of political power, still remained the dominant class in society,
the disparaging tone which they set was taken up not only in the colony
itself, but also by travellers who visited it, and by them carried back to
infect opinion in England. The result was that persons at home, who had the
highest appreciation of Lord Elgin's capacity as a statesman,
sincerely believed him to be deficient in nerve and vigour; and as the
misapprehension was one which he could not have corrected, even if he had
been aware how widely it was spread, it continued to exist in many quarters
until dispelled by the singular energy and boldness, amounting almost to
rashness, which he displayed in China.

Since the session of 1849 no Parliament has ever sat, nor is any ever again
likely to sit, at Montreal. In view of the riot and the burning of the
Parliament Buildings it was determined to remove the Legislature, which
met at Toronto for the next two years. Subsequently it met alternately
at Quebec and Toronto until 1866, since which time Ottawa has been the
permanent capital of the Dominion.

After the storm consequent on the Rebellion Losses Bill, the most important
event by which Lord Elgin's Canadian administration was characterized was
the negotiation of the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States. The
conclusion of this Treaty was a matter requiring much time and a good deal
of prudent negotiation. In 1854, after the negotiations had dragged on
wearily for more than six years, Lord Elgin himself was sent to Washington,
in the hope of bringing the matter to a successful issue. Within a few
weeks the terms of a Treaty of Reciprocity were agreed upon, and they soon
afterwards received the sanction of the Governments concerned. Lord Elgin
returned to England at the close of 1854, being succeeded in the government
of Canada by Sir Edmund Walker Head, who had examined him for a Merton
Fellowship at Oxford in 1833. Soon after Lord Elgin's return home,
the Chancellorship of the Duchy of Lancaster was offered him by Lord
Palmerston, with a seat in the Cabinet; but he preferred to take no active
part in public affairs, and enjoyed an interval of two years' rest from
official labour. His subsequent career can only be glanced at very briefly.
In 1857 he was sent to China to try what could be done to repair, or to
turn to the best account, the mischiefs done by Sir John Bowring's course,
and by the patronage of it at home, in the face of the moral reprobation
of the people at large. He was present at the taking of Canton, and in
conjunction with the French, succeeded by prompt and vigorous measures in
reducing the Celestial Empire to terms. After signing a Treaty with
the Chinese Commissioners at Tientsin, on the 26th of July, 1858, the
conditions of which were highly favourable to the British, he sailed for
Japan, and boldly entered the harbour of Jeddo, from which foreigners had
always been rigidly excluded. Here he obtained very important commercial
privileges for the British, and on the 26th of August concluded a treaty
with the Japanese. He returned to England in May, 1859. The merchants of
London, in recognition of his immense services to British commerce, did
themselves honour by the thoroughness of their acknowledgment of Lord
Elgin's services, and presented him with the freedom of the City.

He held the office of Postmaster-General till the hostile acts of the
Chinese Government towards the English and French Ministers in China
rendered it necessary that he should go out again, and opening Pekin to
British diplomacy, returned to England in April, 1861. Almost immediately
afterwards he was offered the Viceroyalty of India. This splendid
appointment he was not disposed to decline. He accepted, and went out to
the seat of his Government He lived only eighteen months longer, a period,
says his biographer, hardly sufficient for him to master the details
of administration of that great Empire, with which he had no previous
acquaintance, and I quite insufficient for him to give to the policy of
the Government the stamp of his own mind. He died of heart-disease; while
making a vice-regal excursion through his dominions, on the 20th of
November, 1863, and was buried in the cemetery at Dhurmsala, in a spot
selected by Lady Elgin.

"Perhaps," says a sympathetic critic of Lord Elgin's career, "the noblest
part of the history of England is to be found in the recorded lives of
those who have been her chosen servants, and who have died in that service.
Self-control, endurance, and an heroic sense of duty, are more conspicuous
in such men than the love of action and fame. But their lives are the
landmarks of our race. Lord Elgin, it is true, can hardly be ranked with
the first of British statesmen, or orators, or commanders. His services,
great as they unquestionably were, had all been performed under the orders
of other men. Even among his own contemporaries he fills a place in the
second rank. But happy are the country and the age in which such men are to
be found in the second rank, and are content to be there."


  "Tis in the prime of summer-time, an evening calm and cool,
  When certain bright-eyed English boys come bounding out of school."

The school is at Greenwich, six miles below London Bridge, and is kept by
the Reverend Samuel Swinden. Date, some time in the month of June, 1741.
The boys are of all ages, from five years upwards, and most of them are
sons of military and naval officers resident in the neighbourhood. One of
them, a sturdy little urchin of seven years, is a son of the Treasurer of
the great Marine Hospital down by the river's bank. He is destined by his
father for the legal profession, but has already begun to shew his contempt
for the law by breaking His Majesty's peace several times in the course of
every week. He has been at school only a few months, and hitherto he has
not displayed much aptitude for his lessons; but he has distinguished
himself in numberless hand-to-hand engagements with his fellow-scholars,
and has gained the reputation of being, for a youngster of his inches,
tremendously heavy about the fist. On this particular evening the school
has been dismissed barely five minutes before the pugnacious little rascal
contrives to get into an altercation with a lad several years his senior.
As to the precise nature, of the _casus belli_, history and tradition are
alike silent. The pair adjourn to a secluded part of the playground to
settle their differences _a la_ Dogginson, "by fighting it out with their
fistes." The other boys follow as a matter of course, to see fair play. It
is to be regretted that history has not furnished sufficient data to enable
us to describe the passage of arms very minutely. Suffice it is to say
that after a few rounds have been fought, it becomes apparent to all the
spectators that Master Jackey Jervis has at last found his match. His
opponent, a great hulking fellow without any forehead, who has arms like
sledge-hammers, and who has hitherto found it impossible to learn the
multiplication table, takes all Master Jackey's blows with seeming
nonchalance, and ever and anon puts in a tremendous rejoinder which
stretches the Treasurer's son upon the sward. When the contest has gone on
after this fashion for some time the seconds propose that, as there has
been a sufficient effusion of blood to vindicate the courage of both the
combatants, there may well be a cessation of hostilities. The big fellow
stolidly remarks that it is all one to him; but Master Jackey spurns the
proposal with lofty contempt. The contest is renewed; another round is
fought, and the lighter weight once more bites the grass. Before he can
arise to resume the fray, the company receives an accession in the person
of a tall, slabsided, awkwardly-made youth, who impetuously elbows the
others aside, and makes his way to the centre of the fistic arena. The
new-comer is somewhat older than any of the other boys, and is apparently
verging towards manhood. His appearance is somewhat peculiar. The most
partial admirer could hardly pronounce him handsome. Apart from his
ungainly build, he has fiery red hair, high, prominent cheek bones, a
receding forehead, and a proboscis of the kind which the French call a
nose in the air. There is a set, decisive expression about his mouth which
betokens an indomitable will; and a flash in his sparkling blue eyes bears
witness that he has an ominous temper of his own. But, though his personal
appearance is by no means that of an Adonis, the brightness of his
complexion and a certain bold frankness of facial expression preserves him
from absolute ugliness. Those who know him, moreover, are aware that he
possesses qualities which more than redeem his plainness of feature. Though
by no means of a robust constitution, he is endowed with unflinching
courage. He has a high sense of honour, and is the repository of the
secrets of nearly every boy in the school. He is a diligent student, and
though somewhat vain of his superior knowledge, is ever ready to assist
those of his fellow-pupils who are anxious to learn. Add to all this that
he is the senior boy of the school; that, though a stern disciplinarian, he
is generous, impartial, and a protector of the weak; and it will readily be
understood that he is popular both with master and scholars. Unnecessary to
say that there is no more fighting, for the senior boy has forbidden it,
and he is not one who tolerates any opposition to his authority. Two
minutes suffice to quell the disturbance; and the belligerents shake hands
and march off to their respective homes. Little Jackey, however, has been
rather severely handled in the encounter, and does not put in an appearance
for several days, when the preceptor reads him a lecture before the whole
school on the ill effects resulting from little boys permitting their angry
passions to rise.

It is to be presumed that the lecture was not taken very seriously to
heart, for Master Jervis, during the following seventy years, was many
times conspicuous for little ebullitions of temper. He never took kindly to
his father's scheme to make a lawyer of him. About three years subsequent
to the event just recorded he ran away to sea, and began that glorious
maritime career, the details of which form an important chapter in the
history of England. For Master Jackey Jervis lived to take part in more
deadly encounters than the one in the play-ground at Greenwich, and to take
high rank among the naval heroes of Great Britain. After valiantly fighting
the battles of his country in both hemispheres, and rising to the rank
of Admiral, he achieved that signal victory over the Spanish fleet which
procured for him the Earldom of St. Vincent. Nor is the low-browed lad who
was his opponent altogether unknown to fame. His name was Thomas Brett,
and he lived to do good service in various capacities under Nelson and
Collingwood. But the fame of the senior boy--the florid-complexioned youth
with the aspiring nose--is more dear to Canadians of British blood than is
that of either of his schoolfellows; for his name was James Wolfe.

His career was short, and was compressed within a space of less than
thirty-four years. It terminated in the moment of victory on the Plains of
Abraham. But, brief as was his earthly span, few lives of any length have
accomplished so much; and his death was so glorious that it should scarcely
have been regretted, even by his nearest and dearest, what he _did_ is
known to us. What he might have done if his life had been spared, can only
be conjectured; but he possessed all the qualifications of a great military
commander, and needed but time and opportunity for their development. Of
these, so long as they were vouchsafed to him, no man knew better how to
take advantage; and it is not extravagant to believe that had he lived to
the age of Marlborough or Wellington, he would have won a place in history
not less distinguished than theirs.

He was born at the Vicarage, in the little village of Westerham, Kent, on
the 2nd of January, 1726. [Footnote: Authorities are all but unanimous in
placing this date a year later--i.e., on the 2nd of January, 1727. Even the
standard biography of Wolfe (Wright's) repeats the error. That it _is_ an
error becomes apparent when we learn that he was baptized at twenty days
old, and that the parish register shows this ceremony to have taken place
on the 11th of January, 1726--the latter date being Old Style, equivalent
to January 22nd, New Style. The correct date is further confirmed by the
entry in the register of the baptism of his brother, Edward, who was about
a year younger, and who was baptized of the 10th of January, 1727.] His
father, Colonel Edward Wolfe, was an officer in the English army, who
subsequently rose to the rank of Lieutenant-General. His mother was
Henrietta, daughter of Edward Thompson, of Marsden, Yorkshire. James was
their first-born, and was the only member of the family destined to attain
high distinction. The only other offspring of the marriage was a younger
son, Edward, who was born about a year after the birth of James, and who
did not live to reach manhood. Edward entered the army while still a mere
lad, and fought in the battle of Dettingen, on the 16th of June, 1743. He
died on October of the following year, of consumption, accellerated by the
hardships incidental to a campaigning life.

But little is known of the childhood of the two brothers. Both of them seem
to have been of rather frail constitutions, and the precarious state of
their health is said to have caused their parents much anxiety. As they
grew up to youth they appear to have become somewhat more healthful, though
still far from robust. Their earliest scholastic attainments were received
at the hands of a Mr. Lawrence, who kept a small school in their native
village. Their father was almost always on active service with his
regiment, and the boys saw very little of him. About 1737 the family
removed from Westerham to Greenwich, where the children at once began to
attend Mr. Swinden's School. The episode described in the opening paragraph
is about the only anecdote which has been preserved of their connection
with that institution, and for it we are indebted, not to any life of
Wolfe, but to an old history of Greenwich. Early in November, 1741, within
five months after the happening of the incident above described, Master
James received his first commission, appointing him Second Lieutenant in
his father's regiment of Marines; but there is no trace of his ever having
served under it. He shortly afterwards exchanged into the Line, and his
first active service was in the capacity of Ensign of the Twelfth, or
Colonel Duroure's Regiment of Foot. The exchange took place early in 1742,
and in April of that year he embarked with his regiment for Flanders. The
first of his letters which have been preserved, is written to his mother
from Ghent, and is dated August 27th, 1742. His brother Edward followed
him to the Continent during the same year, and died, as we have seen, in
October, 1744. James's aptitude for the military profession soon became
apparent to his superior officers, and shortly after the completion of his
seventeenth year we find him filling the important pest of Adjutant. He, as
well as his brother, took part in the battle of Dettingen, on the 16th of
June, and though they were placed in the middle of the first line, they
both escaped without a scar. A few days afterwards James, in consequence of
the talent for command which he had already displayed, was promoted to
a lieutenancy and on the 3rd of June, 1744, he received a captain's
commission in the Fourth, or King's Regiment of Foot, commanded by
Lieutenant-General Barrell. His life for some months thereafter was one
of uninterrupted campaigning, but it contains no incident necessary to
be remarked upon. Nest year, Great Britain was compelled to withdraw her
forces from Flander's in order to suppress the Jacobite rebellion in
Scotland, known as the "Rising of the Forty-five." Early in June, Wolfe was
commissioned a Brigade-Major, and almost immediately afterwards he returned
to England. He was at once despatched northward to Newcastle, and fought at
Falkirk and Culloden, in both of which engagements his regiments suffered
severely, though he himself escaped unwounded.

The Anti-Jacobin _Review_ for 1802 contains an anecdote which, though
probably apocryphal, may as well be inserted here. It is said that when
Wolfe was riding over the field of Culloden with the Duke of Cumberland
they observed a Highlander, who, although severely wounded, was able to
sit up, and who, leaning on his arm, seemed to smile defiance upon them.
"Wolfe," said the Duke, "shoot me that Highland scoundrel, who thus dares
to look on us with such insolence." To which Wolfe replied: "My commission
is at your Royal Highness' disposal, but I can never consent to become an
_executioner_." From this day forward, it is said, Wolfe visibly declined
in the favour of the Commander-in-Chief. It is manifestly impossible to
disprove such a story as this; but it is an undoubted fact that Wolfe did
_not_ decline in the Duke's favour after the battle of Culloden, and as no
authorities are cited in support of the anecdote, it is not unreasonable to
infer that the whole is fictitious. For some months after the "dark day of
Culloden," Wolfe remained in the Highlands, but we have no information as
to how he spent his time there. He passed a part of the following winter in
London, where he took up his quarters with his parents, who then lived
in their town house in Old Burlington-street. During his stay in the
metropolis at this time he must frequently have passed through Temple Bar.
If so, he doubtless had the grim satisfaction of seeing the heads of some
of his former opponents, the Highland rebels, grinning at passers-by from
the spikes over the gateway.

In January, 1747, he again set out for the Continent with the British
reinforcements for the Netherlands. At the battle of Laffeldt, fought on
the 2nd July, he received a slight wound, and was publicly thanked by the
Commander-in-Chief for his distinguished services. We do not find that he
took part in any other active engagement at this time, and we hear no more
of his wound. We next find him in London, where he seems to have spent the
greater part of the winter of 1747-8. The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was
signed soon after, whereby peace was restored to Europe.

About this time Wolfe had his first experience of the tender passion, the
object being a Miss Lawson, one of the maids of honour to the Princess of
Wales. His suit, however, was disapproved of by his parents, and does not
appear to have been particularly acceptable to the young lady herself, for,
after a good deal of delay, she rejected his offer of his hand. She died
unmarried in March, 1759--the same year which witnessed the death of her
former admirer. Wolfe was not precisely the kind of material of which
despairing lovers are made, and beyond a few expressions of regret, he does
not seem to have taken the rejection very deeply to heart. On the 5th of
January, 1749, he was gazetted as Major of the 20th Regiment, stationed
in Scotland, whither he repaired soon after. His promotion to a
Lieutenant-Colonelcy in the same regiment followed fifteen months later,
and the next three years were for the most part spent with his regiment
in the Highlands, which were gradually recovering from the effects of the
rebellion. Then came a journey to Paris, where he remained several months,
and where he was presented to the King, Louis XV., and to Madame de
Pompadour. The following two or three years of his life were not marked by
any incident of special importance.

In 1757, in consequence of the recommencement of hostilities with France,
British forces, under Sir John Mordaunt, were despatched to attack
Rochfort, and Wolfe accompanied the expedition as Quartermaster-General.
This expedition was destined to exercise an important influence upon his
future career. He had hitherto been known simply as a brave and efficient
officer, but it was not commonly supposed, even by his intimate friends,
that he was endowed with an original military genius of high order. The
time had arrived when the world was to form a more accurate estimate of
him. Sir John Mordaunt, who was placed in command of the land forces for
the Rochfort expedition, was totally unfit for so responsible a post. Sir
Edward Hawke, who commanded the fleet, did good service both before and
after that time; but this expedition was one for which he does not appear
to have been suited. The incapacity of both the commanders soon began to be
painfully apparent; and Wolfe, a soldier by nature as well as by training,
determined to show them how the siege of Rochfort should be conducted.
While they were wasting time in laying and abandoning immature plans, and
in suggesting this, that and the other impracticable schemes, he, with
Sir John's sanction, quietly landed on the island at one o'clock in the
morning, and made his observations. He saw a small post on the promontory
of Fouras, which it was evident must be taken before Rochfort could be
besieged with success. He further noted the most favourable point for
landing the troops. Having matured his scheme, he returned and made his
report to Sir John and Sir Edward, and urgently recommended that his
suggestions be acted upon. Sir Edward approved of the plan, but Sir John
thought proper to call a Council of war, which, after a long session,
decided that such an attempt was neither advisable nor practicable. The
lucky moment was lost, and the expedition returned to England without
having accomplished anything. The English people had confidently counted
on the success of the expedition, and were proportionately dissapointed.
A committee of inquiry was summoned, and Sir John Mordaunt was tried by
court-martial. He was acquitted; but Pitt, who was at the head of the
Government, after carefully mastering the evidence given by Wolfe, came to
the conclusion that the Quartermaster was an extraordinary young man, and
that if his advice had been followed there would have been a very different
result from the expedition. The youth who had the intrepidity to take the
initiatory observations, and who had had the military skill to concoct the
plan of attack, was evidently a person whose services it might be worth
while to turn to account. At no period in the history of England had there
been a greater scarcity of capable military leaders, and not often had
capable leaders been more urgently needed. This young Wolfe was evidently
an original military genius, and must be pushed forward. He was immediately
promoted to the rank of Colonel, and was soon to receive still higher

The incompetency of the superior officers in the British army had of late
become painfully manifest on both sides of the Atlantic. The American
campaign of 1757 was even more disastrous than were British operations in
Europe. Lord Loudoun, who had been despatched to America in the preceding
year, to direct the campaign against the French, had accomplished nothing,
and the enemy, under Montcalm, were uniformly successful in their
operations. In August occurred the terrible massacre at Fort William Henry.
Other massacres followed, and the colonists were literally panic-stricken.
The border settlements were laid waste, the houses and property of the
inhabitants destroyed, and the colonists themselves scalped and murdered by
the French and their Indian allies. French spies gained early intelligence
of every movement contemplated by the British, and were thus, in many
cases, the means of rendering those movements abortive. The grand British
scheme of the year, however, was the reduction of Louisburg, in furtherance
of which an armament such had never before been collected in the British
Colonies, assembled at Halifax. This armament consisted of about 12,000
troops, 19 vessels of war, and a considerable number of smaller craft.
The troops were embarked early in August with the ostensible object of
capturing Louisburg; but Lord Loudoun, learning that the French anticipated
the attack, and were prepared to oppose it, abandoned the idea. He landed a
part of the forces on the coast of Nova Scotia, and returned with the rest
to New York. A fleet specially sent out from Great Britain, under the
command of Admiral Holborne, sailed for Cape Breton about the same time;
but the sight of the French ships in Louisburg harbour proved too much for
the Admiral's nerves, and he steered for Halifax. Here he was reinforced
by four men-of-war, and the fleet again set sail for Louisburg. The French
fleet remained under the shelter of the batteries in the harbour; and would
not be coaxed out. Holborne cruised about the coast until late in the
autumn, when his fleet was dispersed and almost destroyed by a succession
of violent storms. Considering that, under the circumstances, he had done
enough for his country for that time, he returned to England with the
shattered remains of his fleet.

Such was the position of affairs at the close of the year 1757. Public
indignation was aroused by the incompetency and supineness of the military
and naval commanders, and it became apparent either that more efficient
leaders most be found or that all operations in America must be abandoned.
The new Ministry, with Pitt at its head, proved equal to the occasion. Lord
Loudoun was recalled and General Abercromby appointed in his stead. The
Great Commoner formed his plans for next year's campaign, which included
the reduction of Fort Duquesne, Louisburg, Ticonderoga, and Crown Point.
The expedition against Louisburg required a conjoint naval and military
armament. The naval command was assigned to Admiral Boscawen, and the
military forces to Colonel Amherst, who was advanced to the rank of
Major-General. With the latter was associated Wolfe, Whitmore, and
Lawrence, as Brigade-Generals. Operations against Crown Point and
Ticonderoga were entrusted to General Abercromby and Lord Howe. Those
against Fort Duquesne were conducted by General Forbes. The expedition
against Fort Duquesne was completely successful, but Abercromby proved
himself as inefficient as his predecessor in office, Lord Loudoun. Howe,
who was a thoroughly capable officer, was killed at Ticonderoga on the 6th
of July, before his powers could be brought into play. The expedition
under Abercromby proved an utter failure. Not so the expedition against
Louisburg, the capture of which was the most important event of the year.
Being regarded as the key to the St. Lawrence, it was a strongly fortified
place. A fortress had been erected there at a cost of 30,000,000 livres.
The garrison was defended by the Chevalier de Drucourt, with 3,100 troops
and about 700 Indians; while two frigates and six line-of-battle ships
guarded the harbour, the entrance to which was blocked by three sunken
frigates. Boscawen's fleet crossed the Atlantic, and in due course laid
siege to Louisburg. Wolfe led the left division of attack, which may be
said to have borne the brunt of the entire siege. A landing was effected on
the 8th of June, and during the following seven weeks the operations were
almost entirely conducted by Wolfe, to whose skill and judgment their
success is mainly to be attributed. The garrison surrendered on the 26th
of July, and together with sailors and marines, amounting collectively to
5,637 men, were carried to England as prisoners of war. 15,000 stand of
arms and a great quantity of military stores became the property of the
victors; and a glorious array of captured colours were sent to England,
where they were carried in solemn procession through the principal
thoroughfares, and finally placed in St. Paul's Cathedral. The town of
Louisburg was reduced to a heap of ruins. The inhabitants were sent to
France in English ships, and the fortifications were soon after demolished.
A few fishermen's huts are all the dwellings to be found on the site at the
present day.

From the moment when the news of the fall of Louisburg reached England,
the eyes of the entire nation were turned upon Pitt and Wolfe, who jointly
shared the popular enthusiasm. The lustre of the British arms--tarnished by
so many reverses--began to shine with restored brilliancy, and the nation
rose almost as one man to do honour to the brave young officer whose
prowess and courage had been so signally displayed in its behalf. He
returned to England towards the close of the year, and at once rejoined
his regiment. His health had suffered a good deal during the campaign in
America, but this did not prevent his offering his services to Pitt for the
forthcoming campaign in the St Lawrence. His offer was accepted, and he was
rewarded with the rank of Major-General. To him was assigned the command of
the land forces; the naval armament being entrusted to Admiral Saunders.

Before starting on this, his final expedition, he became a suitor to
Miss Katherine Lowther, sister to Sir James Lowther, afterwards Earl of
Lonsdale. Her father had formerly been Governor of Barbadoes, and died
in 1745. We have no means of ascertaining when Wolfe first formed the
acquaintance of this lady, but there is no allusion to her in any of his
letters written previous to this time, and it is probable that until his
return from America there had been no love passages between them. His
courtship in this instance was successful. What young lady of generous
impulses would be likely to refuse the hand of the brave hero of Louisburg,
whose praises were in everybody's mouth, and who was the favourite of the
greatest statesman that ever swayed the destinies of Great Britain? His
suit was accepted, and he carried the lady's portrait with him across the
seas, wearing it next his heart until the evening before his death.

Having got together a staff of officers to his liking, he embarked at
Spithead on the 17th of February, 1759, and reached Halifax on the 30th of
April following. Louisburg harbour was not clear of ice until about the
middle of May, when the fleet sailed thither. During his stay at Louisburg
Wolfe received intelligence of the death of his father, who died at
Blackheath on the 26th of March, in the 75th year of his age. The fleet
left Louisburg early in June, and proceeded to the St. Lawrence. Wolfe, in
due course, landed on the Isle of Orleans, just below Quebec, where the
troops, to the number of 8,000, were landed without opposition, on the
morning of the 27th of June. Having seen his army encamped, Wolfe set out,
accompanied by his Chief Engineer, and an escort to reconnoitre the enemy's
position. Upon reaching the western point of the island, he was not long
in perceiving that Quebec would not fall without a struggle. The prospect,
sufficiently grand at any time, was rendered more than ordinarily
impressive by the warlike preparations to be seen on every hand. In front,
on the summit of Cape Diamond, rose the lofty citadel, with the flag of
France fluttering in the breeze. Above, all the way to Cape Rouge, every
landing-place bristled with well-guarded encampments. Below, on the
elevated range extending from the mouth of the River St. Charles to the
mouth of the Montmorenci--a distance of eight miles--was a still more
imposing array. Every assailable point was efficiently guarded by a
redoubt. A bridge, protected by _tetes de pont_, spanned the St. Charles,
and formed a ready means of communication between the garrison and the
troops on the opposite side of the river. The mouth of the stream, just
below the citadel, was closed by a boom, and was further defended by
stranded frigates. The natural advantages of the situation had been
enhanced by the highest military skill, and there was not a vulnerable
point to be seen anywhere. The enemy's forces, 12,000 strong, composed
of French regulars, Canadian militia, and a few Indians, were under the
direction of the Marquis de Montcalm, one of the most consummate generals
of the age. The position was one which was one which might have well been
pronounced impregnable, and Wolfe could hardly have been censured if he had
then and there abandoned all hope of success.

But there are some men whom no difficulties can discourage, and no danger
can daunt. Such a man was the intrepid young Major-General who had been
sent out by Pitt to sound the death-note of French Dominion in Canada.
With a shattered constitution, and a frame already in an advanced stage of
consumption, the indomitable young hero commenced the first moves in that
desperate game which he was finally destined to win at the cost of his
own life. The siege lasted nearly three months, during all of which time,
consumed by organic disease, and worn out by long and uninterrupted
service, his dauntless resolution never wholly failed him. For weeks and
weeks his eagle eye, ever on the alert to spy out a vulnerable point in
that seemingly immaculate coat-of-mail, scanned the redoubts from Cape
Rouge to the Montmorenci. There was no fool-hardiness--no wilful throwing
away of life--but there was much to be dared, and much to be left to mere
chance. Whenever there seemed to be any, even the slightest, prospect of
effecting an opening, that chance was greedily seized and eagerly acted
upon. Contemplated in the light of the grand result, we are lost in
amazement at the indomitable soul of that frail young invalid who,
undismayed by repeated defeat, by conflicting counsels, and by the effect
of continued exposure upon his enfeebled frame, steadfastly persevered
in his course until the goal was won. For British dominion in Canada was
established, not by bravery alone. Montcalm's veteran troops were as
brave as those to which they were opposed. Quebec was won by patience, by
unceasing vigilance, by military skill, and by an inward conviction in the
breast of the English commander that "All things are possible to him who
will but do his duty, and who knoweth not when he is beaten." The time was
one which called for action and no time was lost in useless deliberation.
Wolfe's plan of attack was soon formed, and he at once proceeded to carry
it out. The soldiers were directed to hold themselves in readiness either
to march or fight at the shortest notice. A little before midnight on the
28th--about thirty hours after the forces had been landed--the sentinel
on the western point of the island perceived certain black objects in the
river which were slowly moving towards the land where he stood. He had no
sooner aroused his companions than a tremendous discharge of artillery took
place. The force immediately turned out and prepared for battle, but no
enemy being, visible, it was necessary to wait for daylight. It then
appeared that the French commander had despatched eight fire-ships and
rafts, freighted with explosives, towards the British fleet in the river.
These explosives had been launched from the shore in the darkness, but had
been lighted prematurely, and failed to accomplish anything beyond a grand
display of fireworks. Wolfe proceeded with his plans, and on the 30th he
issued a proclamation to the inhabitants, calling upon them to transfer
their allegiance, and enjoining upon them that they should at least
preserve a strict neutrality. Monckton, one of Wolfe's Brigadier-Generals,
then crossed over the arm of the river with a strong detachment, took
possession of Peint Levi, threw up entrenchments, and planted batteries
along the southern shore. In effecting this manoeuvre a body of 1,200
Canadians were dislodged and repulsed, and the British gained an
advantageous position for attacking the citadel. Monckton held the position
in spite of all Montcalm's efforts to dislodge him, and on the 13th of July
the batteries opened fire from here upon the citadel. The fleet in the
river also opened fire upon the French lines on the northern shore between
Quebec and the Falls of Montmorenci, and under cover of the fire Wolfe
landed on the eastern bank of the Montmorenci River, and intrenched his
position there. The shells from the batteries at Point Levi set fire to the
Upper Town of Quebec, whereby the great Cathedral and many other buildings
were destroyed. Hostilities were renewed day by day, and there was great
destruction both of property and of human life; but after weeks of toilsome
operation the capture of Quebec seemed as far off as when the British fleet
first arrived in the St. Lawrence. On the night of the 28th of July, the
French made a second attempt to destroy the English fleet with fire-rafts,
but the sailors grappled the rafts before they could reach the fleet and
quietly towed them ashore.

Meantime, Wolfe's efforts to decoy Montcalm to emerge from his fastnesses
and to enter into a general engagement were unceasing; but the French
General was not to be tempted. Several British men-of-war sailed up the
St. Lawrence, past the city, and got into the upper river. Wolfe was thus
enabled to reconnoitre the country above, the bombardment of the citadel
being kept up almost without intermission. On the 31st, Wolfe, from his
camp near the month of the Montmorenci, made a formidable attack upon the
French on the other side of the (Montmorenci) River, near Beauport. The
attack was unsuccessful, and the British were compelled to retire with
considerable loss. Attempts to dislodge the French were made at all points
along the river; but owing to their advantageous position, all such
attempts were fruitless, and as the weeks passed by without securing any
decisive advantage to his arms, Wolfe's anxiety became so great as to bring
on a slow fever, which for some days confined him to his bed. As soon as he
was able to drag himself thence he called his chief officers together and
submitted to them several new methods of attack. Most of the officers were
of opinion that the attack should be made above the city, rather than
below. Wolfe coincided in this view, and on the 3rd of September
transferred his own camp to Point Levi. Soon afterwards a narrow path,
scarcely wide enough for two men to march abreast, was discovered on the
north bank of the St. Lawrence, leading up the cliffs, about two miles
above the city. The spot was known as _L'Anse du Foulon_, but has since
been known as Wolfe's Cove. Wolfe determined to land his forces here, and
under cover of night, to ascend to the heights above. The heights once
reached, it was probable that Montcalm might hazard a battle. Should he
decline to do so, the British troops would at any rate have gained an
advantageous point for a fresh attack upon the citadel.

Having determined upon this line of proceeding, preparations were at once
set on foot for carrying it out. An important point was to keep the French
in ignorance of the design, and if possible to mislead them as to the spot
where it was proposed to make the attack. With this view, soundings were
made in the river opposite Beauport, between the mouth of the St. Charles
and the Falls of Montmorenci, as though with the intention of effecting
a landing there. The ruse was successful, and Montcalm's attention was
directed to this spot as the probable point which he would soon have
to defend. He hurried down to the entrenchments at Beauport, and made
preparations to oppose the British in their anticipated attempt to land.

On the evening of the 12th of September, several of the heaviest vessels of
the British fleet anchored near Beauport. Boats were lowered, and were soon
filled with men, as though it were intended to effect a landing forthwith.
Montcalm's attention having been thus concentrated upon this point, the
smaller vessels sailed up the river past Cape Diamond, and joined the
squadron under Admiral Holmes, which lay near Cape Rouge. The forces on the
south bank of the St. Lawrence simultaneously advanced up the shore from
Point Levi, and having arrived opposite the squadron, were quietly taken on
board, where they awaited further orders. Wolfe, with the germs of a hectic
fever still rankling in his blood, was nevertheless actively engaged in
reconnoitring the position both on the river and on land. And now we again
meet for a few moments with our old friend, Mr. John Jervis. Eighteen
years have passed over his head since we last met him in the playground at
Greenwich. He is now commander of the _Porcupine_, one of the sloops of
war in the St. Lawrence. A few weeks before this time he had rendered
an essential service to his old school-fellow, James Wolfe. One of the
General's passages up the river had been made in the _Porcupine_, and in
passing the batteries of the Lower Town of Quebec, the wind had died away,
and the vessel had been driven by the current towards the northern shore. A
cannonade was at once opened upon the vessel from the French batteries, and
Wolfe would soon have been in the hands of the enemy. Jervis proved equal
to the occasion. His word of command rang out to lower the ship's boats.
The command was at once obeyed, and the crew soon towed the _Porcupine_ out
of danger. The memory of this event may perhaps have had something to do
with Wolfe's conduct towards his old friend on the evening of this 12th of
September. The General sent for young Jervis, and had a conversation with
him upon various private matters. He expressed his conviction that he would
not survive the impending battle, and taking Miss Lowther's picture from
his bosom, he delivered it to Jervis. "If I fall," he said, "let it be
given to her with my best love." Jervis, of course, promised compliance,
and the somewhile pupils of, Mr. Swindon bade each other a last farewell.

The hours intervening between this conference and midnight were chiefly
spent by the General in adding a codicil to his will, and in making a final
inspection of arrangements for the proposed landing at _L'Anse du Foulon_.
The night was calm and beautiful, and as he passed from ship to ship he
commented to the officers on the contrast between the quietness which
reigned supreme, and the resonant roar of battle which would almost
certainly be heard there on the morrow. As he quietly moved about he was
heard repeating in a low tone several stanzas of Gray's "Elegy." One of
these stanzas he repeated several times:

  "The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
     And all that beauty, and all that wealth e'er gave,
   Await alike th' inevitable hour;
     The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

The occasion was a solemn one, and he doubtless felt that, for him, the
last line had a special significance at that time. Who shall say what other
thoughts filled his breast on that last evening of his life? Perchance he
thought of his mother, of his dead father and brother, and of her who was
pledged to share his name and fame. Let us hope that, in that solemn hour,
with the forebodings of his coming doom strong upon him, he was able to
look back upon his life with a consciousness that he had served his God
with at least some measure of the zeal which he had ever been wont to
display in the service of his country. He continued to repeat the beautiful
lines of the poet, down to the concluding words of the epitaph. Then after
a brief pause, turning to his officers:--"Gentlemen," he said, "I would
rather be the author of that piece than take Quebec to-morrow." [Footnote:
There is a story to the effect that Wolfe, on this night, composed the
well-known song which bears his name, commencing: "How stands the glass
around?" The story is altogether without foundation, the song having been
written and published long before General Wolfe was born. The poetical
talent of the family seems to have been confined to the Irish branch,
one of the members whereof, the Rev. Charles Wolfe, subsequently won
immortality by a single short poem, "The Burial of Sir John Moore."]

But not much time could be given to sentiment. A little after midnight,
Wolfe embarked a strong detachment of forces in flat-bottomed boats, and,
placing himself at their head, quietly glided down the river to _L'Anse du
Foulon_. The spot was soon reached, and the landing was effected in safety.
The cliff here rises almost perpendicularly to a height of 350 feet, and
one of the soldiers was heard to remark that going up there would be like
going up the side of a house. No time was lost, and the ascent of the
ravine was at once begun. The enemy had a line of sentinels all along the
top of the cliff, and one of the sentries was stationed at the precise spot
where the British would emerge on the summit. When those who were in the
van of ascent had reached a point about half way up the acclevity, the
sentry's attention was aroused by the noise of scrambling that was
necessarily made by the British soldiers. Calling "_Qui vive_?" down
the cliff, he was answered in French, and, suspecting nothing amiss, he
proceeded on his rounds. Meanwhile the British had not waited to ascend two
abreast, but were scrambling up as best they could. Seizing hold of bushes,
roots, and projections of rock, they rapidly scaled the steep sides of the
cliff, and were soon within a few yards of the top. About a hundred of them
made the ascent at a point a few yards further east than the ravine, and
directly above their heads was a sentry-post with five or six French
soldiers, who, hearing the noise, began to peer down the side of the cliff.
Darkness prevented their seeing much, but the roots and bushes seemed all
alive, and firing a volley down at random, they took to their heels and
fled. The British vigorously pushed their way up, and were soon on level
ground. Long before daylight 4,828 British troops stood upon the Heights of
Abraham, commanding the city from the West. One solitary cannon had been
toilsomely dragged up the ravine. It was destined to do good service
against the French troops, and to carry a message of death to their
commander, ere many hours had passed.

The decisive moment was at hand. By this time Wolfe felt certain that the
French General would now emerge from his entrenchments and fight. His
conviction proved to be well founded. About six o'clock in the morning,
Montcalm, who had been vigilantly watching during the night for an attack
at Beauport, received the intelligence of Wolfe's manoeuvre. Hastening
across the St. Charles, he hurried along past the northern ramparts of
Quebec, and advanced to do battle. His forces consisted of 7,520 troops,
besides 400 Indians. In addition to these, he had a force of about 1,500
men farther up the river, near Cape Rouge, under H. de Bougainville.
Messengers were dispatched to this officer directing him to hasten to the
scene of action and attack the British in their rear.

The battle began early in the forenoon, when Montcalm's artillery opened
fire upon the British. His force, independently of that under H. de
Bougainville, being nearly double that of the British, he hoped to turn
his numerical superiority to account by out-flanking the enemy's left, and
crowding them towards the bank, when he would oppose them to the front and
to the north, while H. de Bougainville would sweep down upon their rear. M.
de Bougainville, however, was slow in arriving, and Montcalm's attack on
the north and east was opposed by the British with such determination that
he was compelled to draw back. Then, remustering his troops, he returned to
the charge. This was the decisive moment. The British, by Wolfe's command,
threw themselves on the ground, and though the hot fire of the approaching
Frenchmen did terrible execution among them not a shot was fired in return.
On came the foe until they had advanced to within forty yards of the
British. Then Wolfe's voice was suddenly heard above the din of battle like
the note of a clarion. Responsive to his call, the troops rose as one
man and poured in a volley so deadly as to strike even the well-trained
veterans of France with awe. Scores of them fell to rise no more, and
hundreds sank wounded on the plain. Such of the terrified Canadian troops
as were able to run, fled in sheer terror. Before the smoke of that
terrible volley had cleared away, Wolfe, his delicate frame trembling with
illness, but buoyed up with the assurance of a glorious victory, placed
himself at the head of the Louisburg Grenadiers and the 28th Regiment, and
led them to the fray. Wrapping a handkerchief round his left wrist, which
had just been shattered by a bullet, he continued to advance at the head of
his men, inspiriting them alike by his acts and his deeds. He gave the word
to "Charge," and the word has scarcely passed his lips when he received
a bullet in the groin. Staggering under the shock, he yet continued to
advance, though unable to speak above his breath. The battle had not yet
raged more than fifteen minutes, but it was even now virtually decided.
The French troops were utterly disorganized, and fled in all directions.
Montcalm, brave to rashness, rode along the broken ranks, and vainly tried
to re-form them. As he continued to harangue them, exposing himself to the
enemy's fire with utter indifference to his own safety, he was struck by a
shot from the solitary gun which the British had been able to drag up the
heights. He fell, mortally wounded; and from that moment there can no
longer be said to have been any fighting. It was a fierce pursuit on the
one side and a frantic flight on the other.

Less than three minutes before Montcalm's fall, Wolfe had received a third
bullet wound--this time in the left breast. He leant upon the arm of the
nearest officer, saying, "Support me--do not let my brave fellows see
me fall. The day is ours--keep it." He was at once carried to the rear.
Hearing some one giving directions to fetch a surgeon, he murmured, "It
is useless--all is over with me." As his life ebbed away he heard a voice
exclaim "They run, they run!" The words inspired him with temporary
animation. Slightly raising his head he asked, "Who--who run?" "The
enemy, sir," was the reply; "they give way everywhere." Summoning his
fast-fleeting strength, he rejoined, "Go, one of you, to Colonel Burton.
Tell him to march Webb's regiment with all speed down to Charles River to
cut off the retreat." His head then sank, and turning slightly on one side,
as in a heavy sleep, he was heard to murmur, "Now, God be praised, I die in

And thus died all that was mortal of James Wolfe. [Footnote: There are
various accounts extant of this closing scene in Wolfe's life, all
professing to come more or less directly from eye-witnesses. No two of them
agree in all points, and one of them states that the General never uttered
a syllable after he was carried to the rear. The above is the version
generally accepted by historians, and is supported by the testimony of the
most trustworthy of those who were present at the scene.]

Everybody knows the rest of the story; how M. de Bougainville appeared on
the field too late to be of any service; how, seeing what had befallen, he
retreated again to Cape Rouge; how the Marquis de Vaudreuil, the Governor,
and his 1,300 Canadians deserted the lines below Quebec, and made what
haste they could to Montreal; how the beleagured garrison, reduced by
famine and slaughter, capitulated on the fifth day after the battle; how a
year afterwards Canada was surrendered to the British Crown; and how the
surrender was ratified by the Treaty of Paris on the 10th of February,

And Montcalm. He had his wish, expressed shortly after he received his
death-wound, and did not live to see the surrender of the city which he
had defended so bravely. The story of his life and death has been told at
length in a previous sketch. At present it is sufficient to day that he
died on the day following the battle, and that he was buried within the
precincts of the Ursuline Convent, on Garden street, Quebec.

The British loss on the Plains of Abraham consisted of 59 killed and 597
wounded. The French loss was much greater, amounting to about 600 killed
and more than 1,000 wounded and taken prisoners. The death-roll seems
wonderfully small when compared with the carnage in many fields famous in
history; but, judged by its results and all the attendant circumstances,
the battle may very properly be numbered among the decisive conflicts of
the world.

When intelligence of the death of Wolfe and the fall of Quebec reached
England, the enthusiasm of the people rose to a height which may almost be
described as delirious. The effect was much heightened by the fact
that such good news was wholly unexpected; for only three days before,
despatches had arrived from Wolfe wherein it did not appear that he was by
any means sanguine of success. Bonfires blazed from one end of the
kingdom to the other, and the streets of the metropolis were redolent of
marrow-bones and cleavers. Persons who had never seen each other before
shook hands, and in some cases even embraced one another, when they met on
the streets. The coffee-houses were thronged with hysteric orators who held
forth about the days of chivalry having come back again. Sermons about
the sword of the Lord and of Gideon were heard in churches and chapels
throughout the land. While all these things were passing in nearly every
city, town, and important village in the kingdom, one spot remained
unillumined. That spot was Blackheath, where the hero's mother mourned the
loss of her only child--the child to whom, notwithstanding his delicate
health, she had tried to look forward as the stay of her declining years.
The neighbours, one and all, of whatsoever degree, respected her great
sorrow, and forbore to take part in the general rejoicings. We can fancy,
too, that there was mourning and desolation at Raby Castle, the home of the
beautiful Miss Lowther.[Footnote: The portrait of this lady confided
by Wolfe to John Jervis on the night of the 12th of September, was
subsequently delivered to her, and she wore it in memory of her dead hero
until her marriage, nearly six years afterwards, to Harry, Sixth and last
Duke of Bolton. She survived until 1809, when she died at her mansion in
Grosvenor Square, London, at the age of seventy-five.] A month later this
lady wrote to one of her friends as follows, concerning Mrs. Wolfe: "I
feel for her more than words can say, and should, if it was given me to
alleviate her grief, gladly exert every power which nature or compassion
has bestowed; yet I feel we are the last people in the world who ought to

Wolfe's body was embalmed and conveyed to England, where, on the 20th of
November, it was deposited beside that of his father in the family vault,
beneath the parish church of Greenwich. An immense concourse of people
assembled to do honour to the dead hero's remains. On the day after the
funeral, Pitt rose in the House of Commons and proposed an address to the
King, praying that a monument might be erected in Westminster Abbey to
the memory of the Conqueror of Quebec. The prayer was assented to, and
a committee appointed to carry out the details. The sculpture occupied
thirteen years, and the ceremony of unveiling did not take place until the
4th of October, 1773. The monument is of white marble, and stands in the
Chapel of St. John the Evangelist, facing the ambulatory. The sculpture
is very fine, and embodies various emblematic scenes in Wolfe's life. The
inscription runs as follows:

           TO THE MEMORY
            JAMES WOLFE

               OF THE
               ON AN
              ON THE

A monument was also erected to Wolfe's memory in the parish church of
Westerham, the village where he was born; and other memorials are to be
found in Spuerries Park and at Stowe. In the year 1832, Lord Aylmer,
Governor-General of Canada, erected a small pillar, on the Plains of
Abraham, on the exact spot where Wolfe is believed to have breathed his
last. The railing around it being insufficient for its protection, it was
ere long defaced by sacrilegious hands. In 1849 it was removed, and a more
suitable memorial set on in its stead. The cost of the latter was chiefly
defrayed by British troops stationed in the Province. The inscription upon
it is as follows:



Among the many Canadians who at one time or another in their lives have
visited Great Britain, comparatively few, we imagine, have thought it
worth while to travel down to the fine old cathedral city of Exeter, in
Devonshire. The sometime capital of the West of England is of very remote
antiquity. It was a place of some importance before Julius Cæsar landed
in Britain, and eleven hundred years after that event it was besieged and
taken by William the Conqueror. Later still, it was the scene of active
hostilities during the wars of the Roses and of the Commonwealth. So much
for its past. At the present day, for those to the manner born, it is one
of the most delightful places of residence in the kingdom. It is not,
however, of much commercial importance, and is not on any of the direct
routes to the continent. Add to this, that the local society is a very
close corporation indeed, and it will readily be understood why the place
is somewhat _caviare_ to the general public, and not much resorted to by

Like every other old English town, it has its full share of historic and
noteworthy localities. The Guildhall, with its oldtime memories, and
Rougemont Castle, once the abode of the West-Saxon kings, are dear to the
hearts of local antiquarians. The elm-walk, near the Sessions House, is
an avenue of such timber as can be seen nowhere out of England, and is
a favourite resort for the inhabitants on pleasant afternoons. The
Cathedral-close has been consecrated by the genius of one of the most
eminent of living novelists, and its purlieus are familiar to many persons
who have never been within thousands of miles of it. But the crowning glory
of all is the cathedral itself, a grand old pile founded in the eleventh
century, and the building of which occupied nearly two hundred years. Here,
everything is redolent of the past. The chance wayfarer from these western
shores who happens to stray within the walk of this majestic specimen
of mediæval architecture will have some difficulty, for the nonce, in
believing in the reality of such contrivances as steamboats and railways.
Certainly it is one of the last places in the world where one might
naturally expect to see anything to remind him of so modern a spot as the
capital of Ontario. But should any Torontonian who is familiar with his
country's history ever find himself within those walls, let him walk down
the south aisle till he reaches the entrance to the little chapel of St.
Gabriel. If he will then pass through the doorway into the chapel and look
carefully about him, he will soon perceive something to remind him of
his distant home, and of the Province of which that home is the capital.
Several feet above his head, on the inner wall, he will notice a
medallian portrait in bold relief, by Flaxman, of a bluff, hearty,
good-humoured-looking English gentleman, apparently in the prime of life,
and attired in the dress of a Lieutenant-General. His hair, which is pretty
closely cut, is rather inclined to curl--evidently would curl if it were a
little longer. Below the medallion is a mural tablet bearing the following

"Sacred to the memory of John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant-General in the
army, and Colonel in the 22nd Regiment of Foot, who died on the 25th day
of October, 1806, aged 54. In whose life and character the virtues of the
hero, the patriot, and the Christian were so eminently conspicuous, that it
may justly be said, he served his King and his country with a zeal exceeded
only by his piety towards God."

On the right of the inscription is depicted the figure of an Indian warrior
with a conspicuous scalp-lock. On the left is the figure of a veteran
of the Queen's Rangers. To the well-read spectator, the portrait stands
confessed as the likeness of the first Governor of Upper Canada, and the
founder of the Town of York.

Monumental inscriptions, as a rule, are not the most trustworthy
authorities whereby one may be enabled to form an unprejudiced estimate of
the moral and intellectual qualities of "those who have gone before." In
visiting any of the noteworthy resting-places of the illustrious dead,
either in the old world or the new, we are not seldom astonished upon
reading the sculptured testimony of the survivors, to find that "'tis still
the best that leave us." One may well wonder, with the Arch-Cynic, where
the bones of all the _sinners_ are deposited. In the case of Governor
Simcoe, however, there is much to be said in the way of just commendation,
and the inscription is not so nauseously fulsome us to excite disgust.
Toronto's citizens, especially, should take pleasure in doing honour to
his memory. But for him, the capital of the Province would not have been
established here, and the site of the city might long have remained the
primitive swamp which it was when his eyes first beheld it on the morning
of the 4th of May, 1793.

His life, from the cradle to the grave, was one of almost uninterrupted
activity. He was born at Cotterstock, Northamptonshire. sometime in the
year 1752, and was a soldier by right of inheritance. His father, Captain
John Simcoe, after a life spent in his country's service, died in the St.
Lawrence River, on board H. M. ship _Pembroke_, of miasmatic disease,
contracted in exploring portions of the adjoining country for military
purposes. His death took place only a few day's before the siege of Quebec,
in 1759. He left behind him a widow and two children. The younger of these
children did not long survive his father. The elder who had been christened
John Graves lived to add fresh laurels to the family name, and at the time
of his father's death was in his eighth year. Shortly after the gallant
Captain's death his widow removed to the neighbourhood of Exeter, where the
remaining years of her life were passed. Her only surviving son was sent to
one of the local schools until he had reached the age of fourteen, when he
was transferred to Eton. Few reminiscences of his boyish days have come
down to us. He appears to have been a diligent student, more especially in
matters pertaining to the history of his country, and from a very early
age he declared his determination to embrace a military life. From Eton
he migrated to Merton College, Oxford, where he continued to pursue his
studies until he had entered upon his nineteenth year, when he entered
the army as an ensign in the 35th regiment of the line. This regiment was
despatched across the Atlantic to take part in the hostilities with the
revolted American Colonies, and young Simcoe did his devoirs gallantly
throughout the whole course of the war of Independence. In June, 1775, he
found himself at Boston, and on the 17th of that month he took part in the
memorable fight at Bunker Hill. He subsequently purchased the command of a
company in the 40th Regiment, and fought at the battle of Brandywine, where
he was severely wounded. Upon the formation of the gallant, provincial
corps called "The Queen's Rangers," he applied for the command, and as soon
as he had recovered from his wound his application was granted. Under his
command, the Rangers did good service in many engagements, and fought with
a valour and discipline which more than once caused them to be singled
out for special mention in the official despatches of the time. Sir Henry
Clinton, Commander-in-chief of the royalist forces in America, in a letter
written to Lord George Germaine, under the date of 13th May, 1780, says
that "the history of the corps under his (Simcoe's) command is a series
of gallant, skilful, and successful enterprises. The Queen's Rangers have
killed or taken twice their own numbers."

Upon the close of the war, the Rangers were disbanded, the officers being
placed on the half-pay list. Young Simcoe had meanwhile been promoted to
the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. During the progress of hostilities he
had conceived an intense dislike to the colonists and their political
principles, and the termination of the war caused no change in his
sentiments toward them. This aversion accompanied him through life, and as
we shall presently see, was destined to materially affect his subsequent
career. Meanwhile, he returned to England with his constitution much
impaired by the hard service he had undergone. Rest and regular habits,
however, soon enabled him to recover, in a great measure, his wonted
vigour. We next hear of him as a suitor to Miss Gwillim, a near relative of
Admiral Graves, Commander of the British fleet during the early part of the
Revolutionary War. The courtship soon terminated in marriage; and not long
afterwards the ambitious young soldier was elected as member of the British
House of Commons for the constituency of St. Maw's, Cornwall. The latter
event took place in 1790. During the following session, Mr. Pitt's Bill for
the division of the Province of Quebec into the two Provinces of Upper
and Lower Canada came up for discussion. The member for St. Maw's was a
vehement supporter of the measure, and upon it receiving the royal assent
the appointment of Lieutenant-Governor of the new Province of Upper Canada
was conferred upon him. He sailed from London on the 1st of May, 1792,
accompanied by a staff of officials to assist him in conducting the
administration of his Government. His wife, with her little son,
accompanied him into his voluntary exile, and her maiden name is still
perpetuated in this Province in the names of three townships bordering on
Lake Simcoe, called respectively North, East, and West Gwillimbury. The
party arrived in Upper Canada on the 8th of June, and after a brief stay
at Kingston took up their abode at Newark, near the mouth of the Niagara

What Colonel Simcoe's particular object may have been in accepting the
position of Lieutenant-Governor of such an uninviting wilderness as this
Province then was, it is not easy to determine. He had retained his command
in the army, and in addition to his receipts from that source, he owned
valuable estates in Devonshire, from which he must have derived an income
far more than sufficient for his needs. Upper Canada then presented few
inducements for an English gentleman of competent fortune to settle within
its limits. Its entire population, which was principally distributed along
the frontier, was not more than 20,000. At Kingston were a fort and a few
houses fit for the occupation of civilized beings. At Newark, there was the
nucleus of a little village on the edge of the forest. Here and there along
the St. Lawrence, around the Bay of Quinté, and along the Niagara frontier,
were occasional little clusters of log cabins. In the interior, except at
the old French settlement in the western part of the Province, there was
absolutely nothing that could properly be called a white settlement. Roving
tribes of Indians spread their wigwams for a season along the shores of
some of the larger streams, but the following season would probably find
the site without any trace of their presence. A few representatives of the
Six Nations had been settled by Joseph Brant at Mohawk, on the Grand River,
and there were a few Mississaugas near the mouth of the Credit. There was
not a single well-constructed waggon road from one end of the Province to
the other. Such was the colony wherein Governor Simcoe took up his abode
with seeming satisfaction. It has been suggested that he must have been
actuated by philanthropic and patriotic motives, and that he was willing to
sacrifice himself for the sake of rendering Upper Canada a desirable place
of settlement. Another suggestion is that he believed the flames of war
between Great Britain and her revolted colonies likely to be re-kindled;
in which case, he as Governor of an adjoining colony, which must be the
battle-ground, would necessarily be called upon to play an important part.
Whatever his motives may have been, he came over and administered the
government for several years with energy and good judgment. He selected
Newark as his temporary capital, and took up his quarters in an old
store-house--upon which he bestowed the name of Navy Hall--on the outskirts
of the village. Here, on the 16th of January, 1793, was born his little
daughter Kate, and here he began to lay the foundation of the great
popularity which he subsequently attained. He cultivated the most friendly
relations with the Indians in the neighbourhood, who soon began to look
upon him as their "Great Father." They conferred upon him Iroquois name of
Deyonynhokrawen--"One whose door is always open." At a grand Council-fire
kindled a few weeks after his arrival they conferred upon his little
son Frank the dignity of a chieftain, under the title of "Tioga." The
friendliness of the Indians conduced not little to the Governor's
satisfaction: but there were other matters imperatively demanding his
attention. The quality of the land in the interior, and even its external
features, were subjects upon which very little was accurately known. He
directed surveys to be made of the greater part of the country, which was
laid out, under his supervision, into districts and counties. He did what
he could to promote immigration, and held out special inducements to those
former residents of the revolted colonies who had remained faithful to
Great Britain during the struggle. These patriots, who are generally known
by the name of United Empire Loyalists, received free grants of land in
various parts of the Province, upon which they settled in great numbers.
Free grants were also conferred upon discharged officers and soldiers of
the line. To ordinary emigrants, lands were offered at a nominal price;
and under this liberal system the wilderness soon began to wear a brighter

About two months after his arrival--that is to say, on the 17th of
September, 1792, the first Provincial Parliament of Upper Canada met at
Newark. The House of Assembly consisted of sixteen representatives chosen
by the people; the Upper House of eight representatives appointed for
life by the Governor on behalf of the Crown. This Legislature remained in
session nearly a month, during which time it passed eight Acts, each of
which was a great boon to the country, and reflected credit upon the
intelligence and practical wisdom of the members. One of these Acts
introduced the law of England with respect to property and civil rights,
in so far as the same is applicable to the circumstances of a new and
sparsely-settled country. Another established trial by jury. Another
provided for the easy collection of small debts. Still another provided for
the erection of gaols, courthouses and such other public buildings as might
be necessary, in each of the four districts (the Eastern, Middle, Home and
Western) into which the Province had been divided. The session closed on
the 15th October, when the Governor complimented the members on their
having done so much to promote the public welfare and convenience, and
dismissed them to their homes.

Governor Simcoe was not long in discovering that Newark was not a suitable
place for the capital of the Province. It was not central; and its
proximity to the American Fort of Niagara, [Footnote: This fort was still
occupied by British troops, but it was well understood that it would
shortly be surrendered. The surrender took place under Jay's treaty on 1st
June, 1796.] on the opposite bank of the river, was in itself a serious
consideration. "The chief town of a Province," said he, "must not be placed
within range of the guns of a hostile fort." As a temporary measure, he set
about the construction of Fort George, on our side of the river, and then
began to look about him for a suitable site for a permanent capital. He
spent a good deal of time in travelling about the country, in order that
he might weigh the advantages of different localities after personal
inspection. He travelled through the forest from Newark to Detroit
and back--a great part of the journey being made on foot--and to this
expedition the Province is indebted for the subsequent survey and
construction of the well-known "Governor's Road." The site of the future
seat of Government meanwhile remained undecided. Lord Dorchester, the
Governor-General, who had his headquarters at Quebec, urged that Kingston
should be selected, but the suggestion did not accord with Governor
Simcoe's views. The question for sometime continued to remain an open one.
Finally, Governor Simcoe, in the course of his travels coasted along the
northern shore of Lake Ontario, and after exploring different points along
the route he entered the Bay of Toronto, and landed, as we have seen on the
morning of Saturday, the 4th of May, 1793. The natural advantages of the
place were not to be overlooked, and he was not long in making up his mind
that here should be the future capital of Upper Canada. A peninsula of land
extended out into Lake Ontario, and then came round in a gradual curve,
as though for the express purpose of protecting the basin within from the
force of the waves. Here, then, was an excellent natural harbour, closed
in on all sides but one. An expanse of more than thirty miles of water
intervened between the harbour and the nearest point of the territory of
the new Republic. Toronto, too, was accessible by water both from east and
west--a point of some importance at a time when there was no well-built
highway on shore. These considerations (and doubtless others) presented
themselves to the Governor's mind, and having come to a decision, he at
once set about making some improvements on the site. To Lieutenant-Colonel
Bouchette, he deputed the task of surveying the harbour. To Mr. Augustus
Jones [Footnote: This gentleman's name is familiar to all Toronto lawyers
and others who have had occasion to examine old surveys of the land
herebouts. He subsequently married the daughter of an Indian Chief, and
Rev. Peter Jones, the Indian Wesleyan missionary, was one of the fruits of
this marriage.], Deputy Provincial Surveyor, was entrusted the laying out
of the various roads in the neighbourhood. The great thoroughfare to the
north called Yonge street, was surveyed and laid out for the most part
under the personal supervision of Governor Simcoe himself, who named it
in honour of his friend, Sir George Yonge, Secretary of War in the home
government. In the course of the following summer, the Governor began to
make his home in his new capital. The village, composed of a few Indian
huts near the mouth of the Don, had theretofore been known by the name
of Toronto, having been so called after the old French fort in the
neighbourhood. Discarding this "outlandish" name, as he considered it, he
christened the spot York, in honour of the King's son, Frederick, Duke of
York. By this name the place continued to be known down to the date of its
incorporation in 1834, when its former designation was restored.

At the date of the founding of York, the public press of Upper Canada
consisted of a single demy sheet, called the _Upper Canada Gazette_,
published weekly at Newark. Its circulation varied from 50 to 150
impressions. It was printed on Thursday, on a little press--the only one in
the Province--which also printed the Legislative Acts and the Govermental
proclamations. From the issue of August 1st, 1793, we learn that,
"On Monday evening," which would be July 29th, "His Excellency the
Lieutenant-Governor left Navy Hall and embarked on board His Majesty's
schooner the _Mississaga_, which sailed immediately with a favourable
gale for York, with the remainder of the Queen's Rangers." From this time
forward, except during the sitting of the Legislature, Governor Simcoe make
York his headquarters. The Queen's Rangers referred to in the foregoing
extract were a corps which had recently been raised in Upper Canada by the
royal command, and named by the Governor after the old brigade at the
head of which he had so often marched to victory during the war of the
Revolution. The first Government House of Toronto was a somewhat remarkable
structure, and deserves a paragraph to itself. When Colonel Simcoe was
about to embark from London to enter upon the duties of his Government
in this country, he accidentally heard of a movable house which had been
constructed for Captain James Cook, the famous circumnavigator of the
globe. This house was made of canvas, and had been used by its former owner
as a dwelling in various islands of the southern seas. Governor Simcoe
learned that this strange habitation was for sale, and upon inspecting it
he perceived that it might be turned to good account in the wilds of Upper
Canada. He accordingly purchased it, and brought it across the Atlantic
with him. He found no necessity for using it as a dwelling at Newark, where
the storehouse furnished more suitable accommodation; but upon taking up
his quarters at York, Captain Cook's pavilion was brought into immediate
requisition. We have been able to find no very minute account of it; but
it must have been large, as he not only used it as his general private
and official residence, but dispensed vice-regal hospitalities within his
canvas walls. It seems to have been a migratory institution, and to have
occupied a least half-a-dozen different sites during its owner's stay at
York. At one time it was placed on the edge, and near the mouth, of the
little stream subsequently known as Garrison Creek. At another time it
occupied a plot of ground on or near the present site of Gooderham's
distillery. In short, it seems to have been moved about from place to place
in accordance with the convenience or caprice of the owner and his family.

But there is one spot so intimately associated with Governor Simcoe's
residence here that it is time to give some account of it. Every citizen of
Toronto has heard the name of Castle Frank, and most have some general idea
of its whereabouts. It is presumable that the Governor found his canvas
house an insufficient protection against the cold during the winter of
1793-4. Perhaps, too, (observe please, this is a joke), the idea may have
intruded itself upon his mind that there was a sort of vagabondism in
having no fixed place of abode. At any rate, during the early spring of
1794 he erected a rustic, nondescript sort of log chateau on the steep
acclivity overlooking the valley of the Don, rather more than a mile from
the river's mouth. The situation is one of the most picturesque in the
neighbourhood, even at the present day, and there must have been a wild
semi-savagery about it in Governor Simcoe's time that would render it
specially attractive to one accustomed, he had been, to the trim hedges and
green lanes of Devonshire.

It must at least have possessed the charm of novelty. When finished, the
edifice was a very comfortable place of abode. From Dr. Scadding's "Toronto
of Old" we learn that it was of considerable dimensions, and of oblong
shape. Its walls were composed of "a number of rather small, carefully hewn
logs, of short lengths. The whole wore the hue which unpainted timber,
exposed to the weather, speedily assumes. At the gable end, in the
direction of the roadway from the nascent capital, was the principal
entrance, over which a rather imposing portico was formed by the projection
of the whole roof, supported by four upright columns, reaching the whole
height of the building, and consisting of the stems of four good-sized,
well-matched pines, with their deeply-chapped, corrugated bark unremoved.
The doors and shutters to the windows were all of double thickness, made of
stout plank, running up and down on one side, and crosswise on the other,
and thickly studded over with the heads of stout nails. From the middle of
the building rose a solitary, massive chimney-stack."

Such was the edifice constructed by Governor Simcoe for the occasional
residence of himself and his family. He called it Castle Frank, after his
little son, previously mentioned; a lad about five years of age at; this
time. The cleared space contiguous to the building was circumscribed within
rather narrow limits. A few yards from the walls on each side a precipitous
ravine descended. Through one of these ravines flows the Don Elver; while
through the other a little murmuring brook meanders on until its confluence
with the larger stream several hundreds yards farther down. In addition to
a numerous retinue of servants, the household consisted of the Governor,
his wife, Master Frank, and the infant daughter already mentioned. Dr.
Scadding draws a pleasant picture of the spirited little lad clambering up
and down the steep hill-sides with the restless energy of boyhood. He was
destined to climb other hill-sides before his life-work was over, and to
take part in more hazardous performances than, when scampering with his
nurse along the rural banks of the Don. Seventeen years passed, and the
bright-eyed boy had become a man. True to the traditions of his house, he
had entered the army, and borne himself gallantly on many a well-contested
field in the Spanish Peninsula. He eagerly pursued the path of glory which,
as poet tells us, leads but to the grave. The dictum as applied to him,
proved to be true enough. The night of the 6th of October, 1812, found him
"full of lusty life," hopeful, and burning for distinction, before the
besieged outworks of Badajoz. During the darkness of night the siege
was renewed with a terrific vigour that was not to be resisted, and the
"unconsidered voluntaries" of Estramadura tasted the sharpness of English
steel. The town was taken--but at what a cost! If any one wishes to know
more of that fearful carnage let him read the description of it in the
pages of Colonel Napier, and he will acquiesce in the chronicler's
assertion that, "No age, no nation ever sent braver troops to battle than
those that stormed Badajoz." The morning of the 7th rose upon a sight which
might well haunt the dreams of all who beheld it. In the breach where
the ninety-fifth perished almost to a man was a ghastly array, largely
consisted of the mangled corpses of young English officers whose dauntless
intrepidity had impelled them to such deeds of valour as have made their
names a sacred inheritance to their respective families. Many of them were
mere boys

  "With ladies' faces and fierce dragons' spleens"

upon whose cheeks the down of early manhood had scarce begun to appear.
Among the many remnants of mortality taken from that terrible breach was
the pallid corpse of young Frank Simcoe.

And what of the little sister, whose first appearance on life's stage was
chronicled a few paragraphs back? Poor little Kate was a tender plant,
not destined to flourish amid the rigours of a Canadian climate. She died
within a year after the building of Castle Frank. Her remains were interred
in the old military burying-ground, near the present site of the church of
St. John the Evangelist, on the corner of Stewart and Portland streets. The
old burying-ground is itself a thing of the past; but the child's death is
commemorated by a tablet over her father's grave, in the mortuary chapel on
the family estate in Devonshire. The inscription runs thus:--"Katharine,
born in Upper Canada, 16th Jan, 1793; died and was buried at York Town, in
that Province, in 1794."

In less than a month from the time of his arrival at York, Governor Simcoe
was compelled to return for a short time to Newark in order to attend the
second session of the Legislature, which had been summoned to meet on the
31st of May. During this session thirteen useful enactments were added to
the statute book, the most important of which prohibited the introduction
of slaves into the Province, and restricted voluntary contracts of service
to a period of nine years. After the close of the session the Governor
returned to York, and proceeded with the improvements which had already
been commenced there, under his auspices. The erection of buildings for the
accomodation of the Legislature was begun near the present site of the old
gaol on Berkeley street, in what is now the far eastern part of the city.
Hereabouts various other houses sprang up, and the town of York began to
be something more than a name. It laboured under certain disadvantages,
however, and its progress for some time was slow. A contemporary authority
describes it as better fitted for a frog-pond or a beaver-meadow than for
the residence of human beings. It was on the road to nowhere, and its
selection by Governor Simcoe as the provincial capital was disapproved
of by many persons, and more especially by those who had settled on the
Niagara peninsula. Lord Dorchester, the Governor-General, opposed the
selection by every means in his power. In civil matters relating to his
Province, Governor Simcoe's authority was paramount; that is to say, he was
only accountable to the Home Government; but the revenue of the Province
was totally inadequate for its maintenance, and it was necessary to draw on
the Home Government for periodical supplies. In this way, Lord Dorchester,
who, from his high position, had great influence with the British Ministry,
had it in his power to indirectly control, to some extent, the affairs
of Upper Canada. He was, moreover, Commander-in-Chief of British North
America, and as such had full control over the armaments. He determined
that Kingston should at all events be the principal naval and military
station on Lake Ontario, and this determination he carried out by
establishing troops and vessels of war there. The military and naval
supremacy then conferred upon Kingston has never been altogether lost.

There were other difficulties too, which began to stare Governor Simeoe in
the face about this time. The nominal price at which land had been disposed
of to actual settlers had caused a great influx of immigrants into the
Province from the American Republic. To so great an extent did this
immigration proceed that the Governor began to fear lest the American
element in the Province might soon be the preponderating one. Should such a
state of things come about, invasion or annexation would only be a matter
of time. His hatred to the citizens of the Republic was intense, and
coloured the entire policy of his administration. In estimating their
political and national importance he was apt to be guided by his prejudices
rather than by his convictions. In a letter written to a friend about this
time, he expressed his opinion that "a good navy and ten thousand men would
knock the United States into a nonentity." As the ten thousand men were
not forthcoming, however, he deemed it judicious to guard against future
aggression. The north shore of Lake Erie was settled by a class of persons
whom he knew to be British to the core. This set him reflecting upon the
advisability of establishing his capital in the interior; and within easy
reach of these settlers, who would form an efficient militia in case of an
invasion by the United States. He finally pitched upon the present site
of London, and resolved that in the course of a few years the seat of
government should be removed thither. This resolution, however, was never
carried out. He did not even remain in the country long enough to see the
Government established at York, which did not take place until the spring
of 1797. In 1796 he received an appointment which necessitated his
departure for the Island of St. Domingo, whither he repaired with his
family the same year. Various reasons have been assigned for this
appointment. The opposition of Lord Dorchester, we think, affords a
sufficient explanation, without searching any farther. It has also been
alleged that his policy was so inimical to the United States that the
Government of that country complained of him at headquarters, and thus
determined the Home Ministry, as a matter of policy, to find some other
field for him. After his departure, the administration was carried on by
the Honourable Peter Russell, senior member of the Executive Council, until
the arrival of Governor Peter Hunter, in 1799.

Two years before his removal from Canada, Governor Simcoe had been promoted
to the rank of Major-General. He remained at St. Domingo only a few months,
when he retired to private life on his Devonshire estates. In 1798 he
became Lieutenant-General, and in 1801 was entrusted with the command of
the town of Plymouth, in anticipation of an attack upon that place by
the French fleet. The attack never took place, and his command proved a
sinecure. From this time forward we have but meagre accounts of him until
a short time before his death, which, as the monumental tablet has already
informed us, took place on the 25th of October, 1806. During the summer of
that year he had been fixed upon as Commander-in-Chief of the East Indian
forces, as successor to Lord Lake. Had his life been spared he would
doubtless have been raised to the peerage and sent out to play his part
in the history of British India. But these things were not to be. Late in
September he was detached to accompany the Earl of Rosslyn on an expedition
to the Tagus, to join the Earl of St. Vincent; an invasion of Portugal
by France being regarded as imminent. Though fifty-four years of age, he
sniffed the scent of battle as eagerly as he had done in the old days of
the Brandy wine, and set out on the expedition in high spirits. The vessel
in which he embarked had just been repainted, and he had scarcely got out
of British waters before he was seized with a sudden and painful illness,
presumed to have been, induced by the odour of the fresh paint. The
severity of his seizure was such as to necessitate his immediate return.
Upon landing at Torbay, not far from his home, he was taken very much
worse, and died within a few hours. He was buried in a little chapel on
his own estates, and the tablet in Exeter Cathedral was shortly afterwards
erected in his honour.

But we Canadians have more enduring memorials of his presence among us than
any monumental tablet can supply; and unless the topographical features
of this Province should undergo some radical transformation, the name of
Governor Simcoe is not likely to be soon forgotten in our midst. The large
and important county of Simcoe, together with the lake, the shores whereof
form part of its eastern boundary; the county town of the County of
Norfolk; and a well-known street in Toronto--all these remain to perpetuate
the name of the first Governor of Upper Canada. It is well that such
tributes to his worth should exist among us, for he wrought a good work in
our Province, and deserves to be held in grateful remembrance. He was not a
man of genius. He was not, perhaps, a great man in any sense of the word;
but he was upon the whole a wise and beneficent administrator of civil
affairs, and was ever wont to display a generous zeal for the progress and
welfare of the land which he governed. When we contrast his conduct of the
administration with that of some of his successors, we feel bound to speak
and think of him with all kindness.

The portrait which accompanies this sketch is engraved by kind permission
of Dr. Scadding, from the frontispiece to his work, 'Toronto of old,' which
was copied from a miniature obtained by the author from Captain J. K.
Simcoe, a grandson of the Governor, and the present occupant of the family
estates. The copy is a remarkably faithful one, and the authenticity of the
original, coming, from such a source is beyond dispute.

The name "Castle Frank," as applied to the site of Governor Simcoe's abode,
requires some explanation, as the original castle is not now in existence.
After General Simcoe's departure from the Province, his rustic chateau was
never used by any one as a permanent abode. Several of his successors
in office, however, as well as various ether residents of York, used
occasionally to resort to it as a kind of camping ground in the summer
time, and it soon came into vogue for pic-nic excursions. Captain John
Denison, a well-known resident of Little York, seems to have taken up his
quarters in it for a few weeks, but not with any intention of permanently
residing there. In. or about the month of June, 1829, the building was
wantonly set on fire by some fisherman who had sailed up the Don. The
timber was dry, and the edifice was soon burned to the ground. It has
never been replaced, but the name of Castle Frank survives in that of the
residence of Mr. Walter McKenzie, situated about a hundred yards distant.
It is commonly applied, indeed, to all the adjoining heights; and on a
pleasant Sunday afternoon in spring or summer, multitudes of Toronto's
citizens repair thither for fresh air and a picturesque view. The route is
through St. James' Cemetery, and thence through the shady ravine and up the
hill beyond. Very few persons, we believe, could point out the exact site
of the old "castle." It is, however easily discoverable by any one who
chooses to search for it. A few yards to the right of the fence which is
the boundary line between St. James' Cemetery and Mr. McKenzie's property
is a slight depression in the sandy soil. That depression marks the site of
the historic Castle Frank. It should be mentioned, however, that no curious
citizen can legally gratify his desire to behold this momento of the past
without first obtaining Mr. McKenzie's permission, as the site belongs to
him, and cannot be reached from the cemetery without scaling the fence.

Besides his son Frank, whose death is recorded in the foregoing sketch.
General Simcoe left behind him a younger son, Henry Addington Simcoe,
christened after the eminent statesman who subsequently became Lord
Sidmouth. The younger son took orders, and officiated for some years as a
clergyman in the West of England. After the death of his brother in the
breach at Badajos, he succeeded to the family estates; and in his turn was
succeeded by his son, Captain J. K. Simcoe, above mentioned.


The life of Robert Baldwin forms so important an ingredient in the
political history of this country that we deem it unnecessary to offer any
apology for dealing with it at considerable length. More especially is
this the case, inasmuch as, unlike most of the personages included in the
present series, his career is ended, and we can contemplate it, not only
with perfect impartiality, but even with some approach to completeness. The
twenty and odd years which have elapsed since he was laid in his grave have
witnessed many and important changes in our Constitution, as well as in our
habits of thought; but his name is still regarded by the great mass of the
Canadian people with feelings of respect and veneration. We can still point
to him with the admiration due to a man who, during a time of the grossest
political corruption, took a foremost part in our public affairs, and who
yet preserved his integrity untarnished. We can point to him as the man
who, if not the actual author of Responsible Government in Canada, yet
spent the best years of his life in contending for it, and who contributed
more than any other person to make that project an accomplished fact. We
can point to him as one who, though a politician by predilection and by
profession, never stooped to disreputable practices, either to win votes or
to maintain himself in office.. Robert Baldwin, was a man who was not only
incapable of falsehood or meanness to gain his ends, but who was to the
last degree intolerant of such practices on the part of his warmest
supporters. If intellectual greatness cannot be claimed for him, moral
greatness was most indisputably his. Every action of his life was marked
by sincerity and good faith, alike towards friend and foe. He was not only
true to others; but was from, first to last true to himself. His useful
career, and the high reputation which he left behind him, furnish an apt
commentary upon the advice which Polonius gives to his son Laertes:--

  "This above all, to thine own self be true;
  And it must follow, as the night the day,
  Thou canst not then be false to any man."

To our thinking there is something august in the life of Robert Baldwin.
So chary was he of his personal honour that it was next to impossible to
induce him to pledge himself beforehand, even upon the plainest question.
Once, when addressing the electors at Sharon, some one in the crowd asked
him if he would pledge himself to oppose the retention of the Clergy
Reserves, "I am not here," was his reply, "to pledge myself on any
question. I go to the House as a free man, or I go not at all I am here to
declare to you my opinions. If you approve of my opinions, and elect me, I
will carry them out in Parliament. If I should alter those opinions I will
come back and surrender my trust, when you will have an opportunity of
re-electing me or of choosing another candidate; but I shall pledge myself
at the bidding of no man." A gentleman still living in Toronto once
accompanied him on an electioneering tour in his constituency of North
York. There were many burning questions on the carpet at the time, on some
of which Mr. Baldwin's opinion did not entirely coincide with that of the
majority of his constituents. His companion remembers hearing it suggested
to him that his wisest course would be to maintain a discreet silence
during the canvass as to the points at issue. His reply to the suggestion
was eminently characteristic of the man. "To maintain silence under, such
circumstances," said he, "would be tantamount to deceiving the electors. It
would be as culpable as to tell them a direct lie. Sooner than follow such
a course I will cheerfully accept defeat." He could not even be induced to
adopt the _suppressio veri_. So tender and exacting was his conscience that
he would not consent to be elected except upon the clearest understanding
between himself and his constituents, even to serve a cause which he felt
to be a just one. Defeat might annoy, but would not humiliate him. To be
elected under false colours would humiliate him in his own esteem, a state
of things which, to high-minded man, is a burden intolerable to be borne.

It has of late years become the fashion with many well-informed persons
in this country to think and speak of Robert. Baldwin as a greatly,
over-estimated man. It is on all hands admitted that he was a man of
excellent intentions, of spotless integrity, and of blameless life. It is
not disputed, even by those whose political views are at variance with
those of the party to which he belonged, that the great measures for which
he contended were, in themselves conducive to the public weal, nor is it
denied that he contributed greatly to the cause of political freedom
in Canada. But, it is said, Robert Baldwin was merely the exponent of
principles which, long before his time, had found general acceptance among,
the statesmen of every land where constitutional government prevails.
Responsible government, it is said, would have become an accomplished fact,
even if Robert Baldwin had never lived. Other much-needed reforms with
which his name is inseparably associated would have come, it is contended,
all in good time, and this present year, 1880, would have found us pretty
much where we are. To argue after this fashion is simply to beg the whole
question at issue. It is true that there is no occult power in a mere name.
Ship-money, doubtless, was a doomed impost, even if there had been no
particular individual called John Hampden. The practical despotism of the
Stuart dynasty would doubtless have come to an end long before the present
day, even if Oliver Cromwell and William of Orange had never existed. In
the United States, slavery was a fated institution, even if there had
been no great rebellion, and if Abraham Lincoln had never occupied the
Presidential chair. But it would be a manifest injustice to withhold from
those illustrious personages the tribute due to their great and, on the
whole, glorious lives. They were the media whereby human progress delivered
its message to the world, and their names are deservedly held in honour and
reverence by a grateful posterity. Performing on a more contracted stage,
and before a less numerous audience, Robert Baldwin, fought his good
fight--and won. Surrounded by inducements to prove false to his innate
convictions, he nevertheless chose to encounter obloquy and persecution for
what he knew to be the cause of truth and justice.

  "Once to every man and nation
  Comes the moment to decide,"

says Professor Lowell. The moment came to Robert Baldwin early in life. It
is not easy to believe that he ever hesitated as to his decision; and to
that decision he remained true to the latest hour of his existence. If it
cannot in strictness be said of him that he knew no variableness or shadow
of turning, it is at least indisputable that his convictions never varied
upon any question of paramount importance. What Mr. Goldwin Smith has said
of Cromwell might with equal truth, be applied to Robert Baldwin: "He bore
himself, not as one who gambled for a stake, but as one who struggled for a
cause." These are a few among the many claims which Robert Baldwin has upon
the sympathies and remembrances of the Canadian people; and they are claims
which, we believe, posterity will show no disposition to ignore.

In order, to obtain a clear comprehension of the public career of Robert
Baldwin ft is necessary to glance briefly at the history of one or two of
his immediate ancestors. In compiling the present sketch the writer deems
it proper to say that he some time since wrote an account of Robert
Baldwin's life for the columns of an influential newspaper published in
Toronto. That account embodied the result of much careful and original
investigation. It contained, indeed, every important fact readily
ascertainable with reference to Mr. Baldwin's early life. So far as that
portion of it is concerned there is little to be added at the present time,
and the writer has drawn largely upon it for the purposes of this memoir.
The former account being the product of his own conscientious labour and
investigation, he has not deemed it necessary to reconstruct sentences
and paragraphs where they, already clearly expressed his meaning. With
reference to Mr. Baldwin's political life, however, the present sketch
embodies the result of fuller and more accurate information, and is
conceived in a spirit which the exigencies of a newspaper do not admit of.

At the close of the Revolution which ended in the independence of the
United States, there resided near the City of Cork, Ireland, a gentleman
named William Wilcocks. He belonged to an old family which had once been
wealthy, and which was still in comfortable circumstances. About this time
a strong tide of emigration set in from various parts of Europe to the New
World. The student of history does not need to be informed that there was
at this period a good deal of suffering and discontent in Ireland. The more
radical and, uncompromising among the malcontents staid at home, hoping for
better times, many of them eventually took part in the troubles of '98.
Others sought a peaceful remedy for the evils under which they groaned,
and, bidding adieu to their native land, sought an asylum for themselves,
and their families in the western wilderness. The success of the American
Revolution combined with the hard times at home to make the United States
"the chosen land" of many thousands of these self-expatriated ones. The
revolutionary struggle was then a comparatively recent affair. The thirteen
revolted colonies had become an independent nation, had started on their
national career under favourable auspices, and had already become a
thriving and prosperous community. The Province of Quebec, which then
included the whole of what afterwards became Upper and Lower Canada, had to
contend with many disadvantages, and its condition was in many important
respects far behind that of the American Republic. Its climate was much
more rigorous than was that of its southern neighbour, and its territory
was much more sparsely settled. The western part of the Province, now
forming part of the Province of Ontario, was especially thinly peopled,
and except at a few points along the frontier, was little better than a
wilderness. It was manifestly desirable to offer strong incentives to
immigration, with a view to the speedy settlement of the country. To effect
such a settlement was the imperative duty of the Government of the day, and
to this end, large tracts of land were allotted to persons whose settlement
here was deemed likely to influence colonization. Whole townships were in
some cases conferred, upon condition that the grantees would settle the
same with a certain number of colonists within a reasonable time. One of
these grantees was the William Willcocks above mentioned, who was a man
of much enterprise and philanthropy. He conceived the idea of obtaining a
grant of a large tract of land, and of settling it with emigrants of his
own choosing, with himself as a sort of feudal proprietor at their head.
With this object in view he came out to Canada in or about the year 1790,
to spy out the land, and to judge from personal inspection which would be
the most advantageous site for his projected colony. In setting out upon
this quest he enjoyed an advantage greater even than was conferred by his
social position. A cousin of his, Mr. Peter Russell, a member of the Irish
branch of the Bedfordshire family of Russell, had already been out to
Canada, and had brought home glowing accounts of the prospects held out
there to persons of capital and enterprise. Mr. Russell had originally gone
to America during the progress of the Revolutionary War, in the capacity of
Secretary to Sir Henry Clinton, Commander-in-chief of the British forces
on this continent. He had seen and heard enough to convince him that the
acquisition of land in Canada was certain to prove a royal road to wealth.
After the close of the war he returned to the Old Country, and gave his
relatives the benefit of his experience. Mr. Russell also came out to
Canada with Governor Simcoe in 1792, in the capacity of Inspector-General.
He subsequently held several important, offices of trust in Upper Canada.
He became a member of the Executive Council, and as the senior member of
that body the administration, of the Government devolved upon him during
the three years (1796-1799) intervening between Governor Simcoe's departure
from Canada, and the appointment of Major-General Peter Hunter as
Lieutenant-Governor. His residence in Canada, as will presently be seen,
was destined to have an important bearing on the fortunes of the Baldwin
family. Meanwhile, it is sufficient to note the fact that it was largely
in consequence of the valuable topographical and statistical information,
furnished by him to his cousin William Willcocks that the latter was
induced to set out on his preliminary tour of Asenation.

The result of this preliminary tour was to convince Mr. Willcocks that his
cousin had not overstated the capabilities of the country, as to the future
of which he formed the most sanguine expectations. The next step to be
taken was to obtain his grant; and, as his political influence in and
around his native city was considerable, he conceived that this would be
easily managed. He returned home, and almost immediately afterwards crossed
over to England, where he opened negotiations with the Government. After
some delay he succeeded in obtaining a grant of a large tract of land
forming part of the present Township of Whitchurch, in the County of York.
In consideration of this liberal grant he on his part agreed to settle
not fewer than sixty colonists on the laud so granted within a certain
specified time. An Order in Council confirmatory of this arrangement seems
to have been passed. The rest of the transaction is involved in some
obscurity. Mr. Willcocks returned to Ireland, and was soon afterwards
elected Mayor of Cork--an office which he had held at least once before his
American tour. Municipal and other affairs occupied so much of his time
that he neglected to take steps for settling his trans-Atlantic domain
until the period allowed him by Government for that purpose had nearly
expired. However, in course of time--probably in the summer of 1797--he
embarked with the full complement of emigrants for New York, whither they
arrived after a long and stormy voyage. They pushed on without unnecessary
delay, and in due coarse arrived at Oswego, where Mr. Willcocks received
the disastrous intelligence that the Order in Council embodying his
arrangement with the Government had been revoked.

Why the revocation took place does not appear, as no change of Government
had taken place, and the circumstances had not materially changed. Whatever
the reason may have been the consequences to Mr. Willcocks and his
emigrants were very serious. The poor Irish families who had accompanied
him to the New World--travel-worn and helpless, in a strange land, without
means, and without experience in the hard lines of pioneer life--were
dismayed at the prospect before them. Mr. Wilcocks, a kind and honourable
man, naturally felt himself to be in a manner responsible for their forlorn
situation. He at once professed his readiness to bear the expense of their
return to their native land. Most of them availed themselves of this offer,
and made the best of their way back to Ireland--some of them, doubtless, to
take part in the rising of '98. A few of them elected to remain in America,
and scattered themselves here and there throughout the State of New York.
Mr. Wilcocks himself, accompanied by one or two families, continued his
journey to Canada, where he soon succeeded in securing a considerable
allotment of land in Whitchurch and elsewhere. It is probable that he was
treated liberally by the Government, as his generosity to the emigrants had
greatly impoverished him, and it is certain that a few years later he was
the possessor of large means. Almost immediately after his arrival in
Canada he took up his abode at York, where he continued to reside down to
the time of his death. Being a man of education and business capacity he
was appointed Judge of the Home District Court, where we shall soon meet
him again in tracing the fortunes of the Baldwin family. He had not been
long in Canada before he wrote home flattering reports about the land of
his adoption to his old friend Robert Baldwin, the grandfather of the
subject of this sketch. Mr. Baldwin was a gentleman of good family and some
means, who owned and resided on a small property called Summer Hill, or
Knockmore, near Cairagoline, in the County of Cork. Influenced by the
prospects held out to him by Mr. Willcocks, he emigrated to Canada with his
family in the summer of 1798, and settled on a block of land on the north
shore of Lake Ontario, in what is now the Township of Clarke, in the County
of Durham. He named his newly-acquired estate Annarva (Ann's Field), and
set about clearing and cultivating it. The western boundary of his farm was
a small stream much until then was nameless, but which has ever since been
known in local parlance as Baldwin's Creek. Here he resided for a period of
fourteen years, when he removed to York, where he died in the year 1816. He
had brought with him from Ireland two sons and four daughters. The eldest
son, William Warren Baldwin, was destined to achieve considerable local
renown as a lawyer and a politician. He was a man of versatile talents, and
of much firmness and energy of character. He had studied medicine at the
University of Edinburgh, and had graduated there two years before
his emigration, but had never practised his profession as a means of
livelihood. He had not been many weeks in this country before he perceived
that his shortest way to wealth and influence was by way of the legal
rather than the medical profession. In those remote times, men of education
and mental ability were by no means numerous in Upper Canada. Every man was
called upon to play several parts, and there was no such organization
of labour as exists in older and more advanced communities. Dr. Baldwin
resolved to practice both professions, and, in order to fit himself for the
one by which he hoped to rise most speedily to eminence, he bade adieu to
the farm on Baldwin's Creek and came up to York. He took up his quarters
with his father's friend and his own, Mr. Willcocks, who lived on Duke
street, near the present site of the La Salle Institute. In order to
support himself while prosecuting his legal studies, he determined to
take in a few pupils. In several successive numbers of the _Gazette and
Oracle_--the one newspaper published in the Province at that time--we
find in the months of December, 1802, and January, 1803, the following
advertisement:--"Dr. Baldwin, understanding that some of the gentlemen of
this town have expressed some anxiety for the establishment of a Classical
School, begs leave to inform them and the public that he intends, on
Monday, the first day of January next, to open a School, in which he will
instruct Twelve Boys in Writing, Reading, Classics and Arithmetic. The
terms are, for each boy, eight guineas per annum, to be paid quarterly or
half-yearly; one guinea entrance and one cord of wood to be supplied by
each of the boys on opening the School. N.B.--Mr. Baldwin will meet his
pupils at. Mr. Willcocks' house on Duke street. York, December 18th, 1802."
This advertisement produced the desired effect. The Doctor got all the
pupils he wanted, and several youths, who, in after life; rose to high
eminence in the colony, received their earliest classical teaching from

It was not necessary at that early day that a youth should spend a fixed
term in an office under articles as a preliminary for practice, either at
the Bar or as an attorney. On the 9th of July, 1794, during the regime
of Governor Simcoe, an act had been passed authorizing the Governor,
Lieutenant-Governor, or person administering the Government of the
Province, to issue licenses to practise as advocates and attorneys to such
persons, not exceeding sixteen in number, as he might deem fit. We have no
means of ascertaining how many persons availed themselves of this statute,
as no complete record of their names or number is in existence. The
original record is presumed to have been burned when the Houses of
Parliament were destroyed during the American invasion in 1813. It is
sufficient for our present purpose to know that Dr. Baldwin was one of the
persons so licensed. By reference to the Journals of the Law Society at
Osgoode Hall, we find that this license was granted on the 6th of April,
1803, by Lieutenant-Governor Peter Hunter. We further find that on the same
day similar licenses were granted to four other gentlemen, all of whom were
destined to become well-known citizens of Canada, viz., William Dickson,
D'Arcy Boulton, John Powell, and William Elliott. Dr. Baldwin, having
undergone an examination before Chief Justice Henry Alcock, and having
received his license, authorizing him to practise in all branches of the
legal profession, married Miss Phoebe Willcocks, the daughter of his
friend and patron, and settled down to active practice as a barrister and
attorney. He took up his abode in a house which had just been erected
by his father-in-law, on what is now the north-west corner of Front and
Frederick streets. [It may here be noted that Front Street was then known
as Palace Street, from the circumstance that it led down to the Parliament
buildings at the east end of the town, and because it was believed that the
official residence or "palace" of the Governor would be built there.] Here,
on the, 12th of May, 1804, was born Dr. Baldwin's eldest son, known to
Canadian history as Robert Baldwin.

The plain, unpretending structure in which Robert-Baldwin first saw light
has a history of its own. Dr. Baldwin resided in it only about three years,
when he removed to a small house, long since demolished, on the corner of
Bay and Front streets. Thenceforward the house at the foot of Frederick
Street was occupied by several tenants whose names are famous in local
annals. About 1825 it was first occupied by Mr. William Lyon Mackenzie, who
continued to reside in it for several years. It was here that the _Colonial
Advocate_ was published by that gentleman, at the time when his office was
wrecked and the type thrown into the bay by a "genteel mob," a farther
account of which lawless transaction will be found in the sketch of the
life of W. L. Mackenzie, included in the present series. The building
subsequently came into the possession of the Cawthra family--called by
Dr. Scadding "the Astors of Upper Canada"--who carried on a large and
marvellously successful mercantile business within its walls. It was
finally burned down in the winter of 1854-5.

Dr. Baldwin applied himself to the practice of his several professions
with an energy and assiduity which deserved and secured a full measure of
success. His legal business was the most profitable of his pursuits, but in
the early years of his residence at York he seems to have also had a fair
share of medical practice. It might not unreasonably have been supposed
that the labour arising from these two sources of employment would have
been sufficient for the energies and ambition of any man; but we find that
for at least two years subsequent to his marriage he continued to take in
pupils. Half a century later than the period at which we have arrived, Sir
John Beverley Robinson, then a baronet, and Chief Justice of the Province,
was wont to pleasantly remind the subject of this sketch that their mutual
acquaintance dated from a very early period in the latter's career. At the
time of Robert Baldwin's birth, John Robinson, then a boy in his thirteenth
year, was one of a class of seven pupils who attended daily at Dr.
Baldwin's house for classical instruction. Two or three days after the
Doctor's first-born came into the world, Master Robinson was taken into the
nursery to see "the new baby." Differences of political opinion in after
years separated them far as the poles asunder on most public questions,
but they never ceased to regard each other with personal respect. The late
Chief Justice Maclean was another pupil of Dr. Baldwin's, and distinctly
remembered that a holiday was granted to himself and his fellow students on
the day of the embryo statesman's birth. Doctor Baldwin seems to have
been fully equal to the multifarious calls upon his energies, and to
have exercised his various callings with satisfaction alike to clients,
patients, and pupils. It was no uncommon occurrence in those early days,
when surgeons were scarce in our young capital, for him to be compelled to
leave court in the middle of a trial, and to hurry away to splice a broken
arm or bind up a fractured limb. Years afterwards, when he had retired from
the active practice of all his professions, he used to cite a somewhat
ludicrous instance of his professional versatility. It occurred soon after
his marriage. He was engaged in arguing a case of some importance before
his father-in-law, Judge Willcocks, in the Home District Court, when a
messenger hurriedly arrived to summon him to attend at the advent of a
little stranger into the world. The circumstances were, explained to the
Judge, and--it appearing that no other surgical aid was to be had at
the moment--that functionary readily consented to adjourn the further
consideration of the argument until Dr. Baldwin's return. The latter
hurriedly left the court-room with the messenger, and after the lapse of
somewhat more than an hour, again presented himself and prepared to resume
his interrupted argument. The Judge ventured to express a hope that matters
had gone well with the patient; whereupon the Doctor replied, "Quite well.
I have much pleasure in informing your Honour that a man-child has been
born into the world during my absence, and that both he and his mother are
doing well." The worthy Doctor received the congratulations of the Court,
and was permitted to conclude his argument without any further demands upon
his surgical skill.

Almost from the outset of his professional career, Dr. Baldwin took a
strong interest in political matters. The fact that he was compelled to
earn his living by honest labour, excluded him from a certain narrow
section of the society of Little York. The society from which he was
excluded, however, was by no means of an intellectual cast, and it is
not likely that he sustained much loss by his exclusion. By intellectual
society in Toronto, he was regarded as a decided acquisition. He could well
afford to despise the petty littleness of the would-be aristocrats of the
Provincial capital. Still, it is probable that his political convictions
were intensified by observing that, among the members of the clique above
referred to; mere merit was regarded as a commodity of little account. He
became known for a man of advanced ideas, and was not slow in expressing
his disapprobation of the way in which government was carried on whenever a
more than ordinarily flagrant instance of injustice occurred. In 1812, he
became treasurer of the law Society of Upper Canada, and while filling that
position, he projected a scheme for constructing a suitable building for
the Society's occupation. The times, however, were impropitious for such
a scheme, which fell through in consequence of the impending war with the
United States.

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