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As a bold and hardy pioneer of the wilderness, the Frenchman in America has rarely found his match. His civic virtues withered under the despotism of Versailles, and his mind and conscience were kept in leading-strings by an absolute Church; but the forest and the prairie offered him an unbridled liberty, which, lawless as it was, gave scope to his energies,[Pg 347] till these savage wastes became the field of his most noteworthy achievements.
Pen pricked up her ears. She answered as casually as he: "I always thought of hate as destroying a man instead of nerving him to do things."
[Pg 276]The constant aim of the Canadian authorities was to keep these western savages at peace among themselves, while preventing their establishing relations of trade with the Five Nations, and carrying their furs to them in exchange for English goods. The position was delicate, for while a close understanding between the western tribes and the Five Nations would be injurious to French interests, a quarrel would be still more so, since the French would then be forced to side with their western allies, and so be drawn into hostilities with the Iroquois confederacy, which of all things they most wished to avoid. Peace and friendship among the western tribes; peace without friendship between these tribes and the Five Nations,thus became maxims of French policy. The Canadian governor called the western Indians his "children," and a family quarrel among them would have been unfortunate, since the loving father must needs have become involved in it, to the detriment of his trading interests. On Putnam's adventures, Humphreys, 57 (1818). He had the story from Putnam himself, and seems to give it with substantial correctness, though his account of the battle is at several points erroneous. The "Molang" of his account is Marin. On the battle, besides authorities already cited, Recollections of Thomson Maxwell, a soldier present (Essex Institute, VII. 97). Rogers, Journals, 117. Letter from camp in Boston Gazette, no. 117. Another in New Hampshire Gazette, no. 104. Gentleman's Magazine, 1758, p. 498. Malartic, Journal du Rgiment de Barn. Lvis, Journal de la Guerre en Canada. The French notices of the affair are few and brief. They admit a defeat, but exaggerate the force and the losses of the English, and underrate their own. Malartic, however, says that Marin set out with four hundred men, and was soon after joined by an additional number of Indians; which nearly answers to the best English accounts.
Another story is told of him by an accomplished actress of the time, George Anne Bellamy, whom Braddock had known from girlhood, and with whom his present relations seem to have been those of an elderly adviser and friend. "As we were walking in the Park one day, we heard a poor fellow was to be chastised; when I requested the General to beg off the offender. Upon his application to the general officer, whose name was Dury, he asked Braddock how long since he had divested himself of the brutality and insolence of his manners? To which the other replied: 'You never knew me insolent to my inferiors. It is only to such rude men as yourself that I behave with the spirit which I think they deserve.'"
Roubaud was one day near the fort, when he saw the shore lined with a thousand Indians, watching four or five English prisoners, who, with the war-party that had captured them, were approaching in a boat from the farther side of the water. Suddenly the whole savage crew broke away together and ran into the neighboring woods, whence they soon emerged, yelling diabolically, each armed with a club. The wretched prisoners were to be forced to "run the gauntlet," which would probably have killed them. They were saved by the chief who commanded the war-party, and who, on the persuasion of a French officer, claimed them as his own and forbade the game; upon which, according to rule in such cases, the rest abandoned it. On this same day the missionary met troops of Indians conducting several bands of English prisoners along the road that led through the forest from the camp of Lvis. Each of the captives was held by a cord made fast about the neck; and the sweat was 483"I suppose you're thinking I'm a thankless beast," he went on presently.
V1 the French should have more land, to keep the balance. Nature, the human soul, and the felicity of man require that France should own all the country beyond the Alleghanies and all Acadia but a strip of the south coast, according to the "sublime negotiations" of the French commissioners, of which the writer declares himself a "religious admirer." Meanwhile events worthy of note were passing in Newfoundland. That island was divided between the two conflicting powers,the chief station of the French being at Placentia, and that of the English at St. John. In January, 1705, Subercase, who soon[Pg 132] after became governor of Acadia, marched with four hundred and fifty soldiers, Canadians, and buccaneers, aided by a band of Indians, against St. John,a fishing-village defended by two forts, the smaller, known as the castle, held by twelve men, and the larger, called Fort William, by forty men under Captain Moody. The latter was attacked by the French, who were beaten off; on which they burned the unprotected houses and fishing-huts with a brutality equal to that of Church in Acadia, and followed up the exploit by destroying the hamlet at Ferryland and all the defenceless hovels and fish-stages along the shore towards Trinity Bay and Bonavista.