« AnteriorContinuar »
making friends of the crowd, and especially of the women, who seem to have been everywhere most prominent in public demonstrations. Next morning the captain and his company started, with a certain state and formality, for the town or bourgade,' as he calls it, of Hochelaga. They found the approach to it formed by a good and well-trodden road, which passed through a country of great natural beauty, well wooded, and evidently fertile. Oaks, maple, and other valuable trees grew abundantly, and as they proceeded, fields of Indian corn began to spread out around them. In the midst of these fields, surrounded on all sides by the ripening harvest, rose the walls of Hochelaga. Above the town a beautiful hill sloped up, sheltering it towards the north, and in front flowed the great river, an expanse of nearly two miles of swift blue water, contrasting with the green shore. As they drew near the town a chief, attended by a number of people, came out to meet them, and invited them to sit down and rest in the place where they then were. When they had done so, the chief began the invariable oration, preschement' of welcome, of which little, if any, could have been intelligible; for, supposing, as seems evident, that the French had learned something of the language spoken at Stadacona, they would now find themselves in the region of a different (probably a Huron) dialect.
When the preschement' ended, Cartier presented to the chief gifts suitable to his rank-two hatchets, a pair of knives, and a cross, which he was instructed to kiss and to hang round his neck. Then the party went on through the fields, passing among the tall stems of Indian corn, with their graceful leaves and long tassels of goldentinted floss, until they reached the gate of the town and entered it, much amazed at what they saw; for they found themselves within a circle of large extent, formed by wooden ramparts and broken by only a single entrance. These ramparts were triple, and most strongly and ingeniously built-very thick at the bottom and diminishing towards the top, the beams extremely well joined, and each rampart two spears' length in height. The gateway, the only passage through them, could be closed with bars against an enemy, and all round the town inside the ramparts ran galleries, where piles of stones were stored ready to be thrown on the heads of a besieging army. Within all these fortifications were about fifty houses arranged round a central square or place. Each house was about fifty feet long, cleverly roofed with sheets of bark, and containing one large hall with a fireplace, and several smaller rooms for the use of different members of the family. An upper storey served as the granary and storehouse; the supplies which it held consisted of Indian corn (which was beaten into flour with wooden mallets), pease, large cucumbers, and fruits, with abundance of dried fish. Cartier tells us nothing as to the furnishing of these substantial dwellings, though their comfortable aspect seems to have much impressed him, except as to the beds, which were made of bark with plenty of furs for coverings.
The French were led by the chief, their conductor, into the great central square of the town, being joined by a crowd of the inhabitants,
women as well as men. All these came round them without the least sign of fear or shyness, caressing them, the former bringing babies, whom they begged them to touch, as if they thought their doing so would procure the children some good fortune. At last, after the women had gratified their curiosity, they were all dismissed by the men, who seated themselves on the ground. Presently, however, some of the women came back bringing mats, which they arranged in the centre of the square, and invited the captain and his party to take their places upon them. They had no sooner obeyed than the Agouhanna, the great chief, made his appearance, carried by nine or ten men, and placed himself on a deerskin beside that assigned to Cartier. He was a man of about fifty, no better dressed than his subjects, except that he wore as a crown a fillet of hedgehog's skin, dyed red; he was, however, a most, pitiable object, being so palsied that all his limbs shook.
The scene that follows is so singular and so touching that one stops to ask oneself what it was in the aspect of the strangers which thus inspired in a people, not altogether barbarous, a faith equally sudden and unclaimed? They had seen no proofs of their power. Even the firearms which had awed the people of Stadacona had not been used here to obtain for the French a prestige born of fear. They knew still less, one would think, of the disposition of the newcomers-whether they would show themselves gentle or cruel. Yet they evidently believed at once in their will, as well as in their capacity, to help. Was it one of those intuitions which we see sometimes in children, by which they comprehend character as it affects themselves with an almost unerring certainty?
The chief of Hochelaga only waited until the usual ceremonies of greeting and welcome were ended, and then immediately showed his disabled limbs to the captain, begging him to touch them. He did so, rubbing them gently with his hands, and the chief, apparently satisfied, took off the red fillet and presented it to him. As if this gift had been a signal expected and waited for, a strange stir instantly began, and there was carried into the square from all sides a crowd of sick, helpless, blind and deformed persons, who were laid down round Cartier, their friends praying him only to touch them— 'tellement qu'il sembloit que Dieu feust là descendu pour les guerir.'
Never, surely, since the days when the lame, the halt, and the blind were brought to our Lord, was there a similar throng assembled, and it was well for the man who stood there with so many imploring eyes turned to him that he could feel, above his human weakness, the certainty of a Divine power and compassion. Deeply moved, he took, as it were, these ignorant prayers of the people and offered them to God. Standing in the midst, he recited the beginning of St. John's Gospel, and making the sign of the cross upon the sick, prayed that God would make Himself known to them, and give them grace to receive Christianity and the holy rite of baptism. Then he took a Book of Hours, and read distinctly from it, word for word, the Passion of our Lord. While he thus read words which, though
in an unknown tongue, they must have guessed to be in some way Divine, the people stood around him silent, looking up to heaven, and imitating reverently the devout gestures of the French.
Did any miracle of healing follow? We know nothing more. Cartier's narrative goes back to common things, and tells us briefly of the rest of his hurried visit to Hochelaga. Yet it is hard to believe that such an hour left no trace. Even those who refuse belief, absolutely and without exception, to all modern miracles, may allow that among a people highly imaginative and full of faith, cures of nervous diseases were, under such circumstances, very possible; to those less sceptical it may be permitted to hope that even more than such cures took place. One thing can hardly be doubted. The recollection of that appeal and response-the cry of human misery answered by the message of Divine love-must have left an undying impression on the minds of those who saw and heard; and probably the recital of this scene was one of the first inducements to pious men and women in France to undertake the long and difficult task of evangelising the people of Canada.
Cartier and his party explored the environs of Hochelaga, and climbed the mountain' to which later travellers gave the name of Mont Royal; but the season was advancing and they could make no long stay. Taking a warm and friendly farewell of their Indian hosts, they went on board their boats, and soon rejoining the Emerillon,' returned to Stadacona by the middle of the month.
Much had to be done before winter set in, and strange must have been the feelings of the little colony when, shut up in the enclosure with which they had surrounded their ships, they saw the great river change into a plain of ice, and the green and fertile country shroud itself in its deep mantle of snow. They knew that for six months they must remain prisoners, but they did not know all the suffering those winter months were to bring. The captain's journal through the winter is a story of simple heroism full of interest, but for which we have no space here. A terrible illness broke out among the party, which proved fatal to twenty of them, and was so universal that at one time there were but three men well out of the three crews. At the same time the friendship of Donacona and his people had so far cooled that Cartier felt it most imperative to conceal the helpless condition of his men, and was driven to all sorts of expedients for this purpose, while his heart was torn by the misery about him, and often, as De Joinville says of St. Louis, he had nothing but courage to maintain life.'
At last the time of suffering was over. A decoction of a plant called anneda-perhaps the wild barberry-proved so efficacious that the sick began quickly to recover. One of the ships must indeed be abandoned, but the ofhers were brought out of their enclosure and made ready for sea. Early in May all was prepared, but Cartier seems to have feared that Donacona and his people meant to hinder his departure. They had shown great distrust of the French for some time, and this is the only excuse for what certainly was a line
of conduct entirely at variance with the captain's general character. Donacona was suddenly seized and, with several of his attendants, forcibly invited to pay a visit to the King of France. He was allowed to see and speak with his people, and to appoint a regent, but nevertheless there is no doubt that he was carried off against his will. On May 6, 1536, the two ships left their anchorage, and moved down the river, and on June 6 they came safely into the harbour of St. Malo, the joy of their prosperous home-coming clouded by the memory of twenty comrades who would never return.
Four years later Cartier once more sailed for La Nouvelle France.' The interval had been filled by public events of such importance. as to distract King Francis' thoughts entirely from his newly-claimed territory, and had been marked also by the downfall of Admiral de Chabot, Cartier's friend and patron. At last, however, a fresh commission was issued (and this time expressly for purposes of colonisation), in which unfortunately Cartier was hampered by the partnership of the Sieur de Roberval. De Roberval made so many delays that Cartier was at last ordered off alone and ill provided. He reached his old anchorage at the Ste. Croix August 23, 1540, and though he had not brought Donacona or any of his attendants back, he was again well received by the Indians. He afterwards began preparations for a settlement at Charlebourg Royal (Cap Rouge) and built a fort, where he must have spent the winter and part of the following summer. All this time De Roberval was expected in vain, and when autumn approached the patience of the adventurers seems to have been worn out. They left the great river for the last time, met De Roberval at St. John, but would not turn back, and before the end of October had been received with great rejoicings and honours in their own town. Only the first part of this voyage is related by the captain himself; his journal breaks off abruptly at a moment when, just at the closing in of winter, he was putting his little fort in order to withstand an anticipated attack. If he finished it (which is almost certain), the last portion was entirely lost within a few years of his death, and Hakluyt, who tried anxiously, but in vain, to recover it, was able to pick up only the most fragmentary information as to later events.
For ten years the Captain' seems to have enjoyed quiet and modest ease in his seaside Manoir of Lemoïlou. The King gave him letters of nobility, but apparently little or nothing else; and after De Roberval's return to France there was even a question raised as to the expenditure of the sum granted to them jointly from the royal treasury. It was proved, however, that Cartier had spent more than he had received, and the Court gave sentence in his favour in June, 1544. This is the latest public record of his life. In 1554 he died, at the age of sixty, leaving no children and no wealth-nothing at all, indeed, except his well-deserved reputation as a skilful sailor, an excellent commander, and an honest man.
HORSES AND THEIR FEET.
F we say that of all brute animals none is more valuable to man than the horse, and that the neglect of any means which may promote and ensure his welfare and efficiency is a blunder not easily distinguishable from crime, we may fairly be charged with uttering truisms. If we urge that this value is not recognised as it should be, and that this neglect is miserably common, we may still be accused of wasting breath on statements which no one would think of calling into question. Everyone, we may be told, is well aware that the management of horses is very faulty, that their lives are shortened by the ignorance of those who have charge of them rather than by any wanton cruelty, and that they are rendered practically useless long before their existence is brought to an end. To the plea that the same, or much the same, things may be said of men as of horses, we may answer that the blame must be apportioned to the degree of carelessness with which evils affecting either men or horses are allowed to go on unchecked or are foolishly dealt with; nor can failures to improve the condition of mankind furnish a reason for refusing to do what may improve the condition of horses. Our duty ought to be discharged at all costs and under all circumstances; but a man must have risen far above the average of his fellows if he feels no relief when his duty coincides with his interest. Something is gained by the mere pointing out of this agreement, wherever it exists; and we must remember that, if a vast amount of human wretchedness is the direct result of wilful and wanton perversity, we can meet with no such resistance on the part of brute beasts. With regard to these we have only to see what the evils are; and the blame is ours, and ours alone, if we fail to apply the remedy, when the remedy, if applied, must be successful. In the case of the horse, unhappily, we do not realise the extent of the mischief, and seldom, perhaps never, fix our minds on its cause or causes. Yet the facts, even when reduced within limits which none will venture to dispute, are sufficiently startling.
The number of horses in the United Kingdom has been estimated at rather more than two millions and a quarter, and their average value can scarcely be set down at less than 30l. Their collective value, therefore, falls little short of sixty-eight millions sterling. That the nation incurs a loss if this sum is spent quicker than it needs to be is a self-evident proposition; that it is so spent is certain, if horses on an average become useless at a time when they ought still to be in full vigour. On this point few will be disposed to challenge the verdict of Mr. W. Douglas, late veterinary surgeon in the 10th Hussars, who tells us that a horse should live from thirty-five to forty