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      * Papiers dArgenson, 4 Ao?t, 1659.


      letters from him, translated in Sheldons Early History of


      We come now to a trade far more important than all the rest together, one which absorbed the enterprise of the colony, drained the life-sap from other branches of commerce, and, even more than a vicious system of government, kept them in a state of chronic debility,the hardy, adventurous, lawless, fascinating fur trade. In the eighteenth century, Canada exported a moderate quantity of timber, wheat, the herb called ginseng, and a few other commodities; but from first to last she lived chiefly on beaver-skins. The government tried without ceasing to control and regulate this traffic; but it never succeeded. It aimed, above all things, to bring the trade home to the colonists, to prevent them from going to the Indians, and induce the Indians to come to them. To this end a great annual fair was established by order of the king at Montreal. Thither every summer a host of savages came down from the lakes in their bark canoes. A place was assigned them at a little distance from the town. They landed, drew up their canoes in a line on the bank, took out their packs of beaver-skins, set up their wigwams, slung their kettles, and encamped for the night. On the next day, there was a grand council on the common, between St. Paul Street and the river. Speeches of compliment were made amid a solemn smoking of pipes. The governor-general was usually present, seated in an arm-chair, while the visitors formed a ring about him, ranged in the order of their tribes. On the next day the trade began in the same place. Merchants of high and low degree brought up their goods from Quebec, and every inhabitant of Montreal, of any substance, sought a share in the profit. Their booths were set along the palisades, of the town, and each had an interpreter, to whom he usually promised a certain portion of his gains. The scene abounded in those contrastsnot always edifying, but always picturesquewhich mark the whole course of French Canadian history. Here was a throng of Indians armed with bows and arrows, war-clubs, or the cheap guns of the trade; some of them completely naked except for the feathers on their heads and the paint on their faces; French bush-rangers tricked out with savage finery; merchants and habitants in their coarse and plain attire, and the grave priests of St. Sulpice robed in black. Order and sobriety were their watchwords, but the wild gathering was beyond their control. The prohibition to sell brandy could rarely be enforced; and the fair ended at times in a pandemonium of drunken frenzy. The rapacity of trade, and the license of savages and coureurs de bois, had completely transformed the pious settlement.CHAPTER XV. THE REIGN OF VICTORIA (continued).

      Mr. Goulburn's financial statement was made on the 8th of May, 1844. It comprised some small reductions of taxation, and the foretaste of an important modification of the sugar duties. As a money account it was encouraging, and showed some progress in diminishing the disastrous effects of Whig finance. The past financial year had witnessed a gross surplus of revenue over expenditure of more than 4,000,000; or, after paying the deficiency of the previous year, 2,400,000; and after making other deductions there was, for the first time for many years, an available surplus, amounting to 1,400,000. The anticipated good effects of relieving industry from burdensome taxes had been more than realised. The estimate of the revenue had actually been exceeded by 2,700,000. The Budget, therefore, fully justified the policy of 1842; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer ventured only on a small and timid extension of the principles then laid down, with the reduction or abolition of duty on flint-glass, currants, wool, and some other minor matters. The abolition of the wool duty provoked new hostility to the impolitic duty on cotton. The concession to Free Trade principles was small; but the movement was kept up, and there was at least no sign of reaction.Mrs. Lippett, behind the scenes, did not always maintain that calm

      Much inconvenience and misery were caused during the year by the trades unions and their strikes. In several places the workmen combined in order to enforce a rise of wages, and a more equitable distribution of the profits derived from their labour. The striking commenced on the 8th of March, when the men employed by the London gas companies demanded that their wages should be increased from twenty-eight shillings to thirty-five shillings a week, with two pots of porter daily for each man. On the refusal of this demand they all stopped working; but before much inconvenience could be experienced their places were supplied by workmen from the country. On the 17th of March an event occurred which caused general and violent excitement among the working classes. At the Dorchester Assizes six agricultural labourers were tried and convicted for being members of an illegal society, and administering illegal oaths, the persons initiated being admitted blindfold into a room where there was the picture of a skeleton and a skull. They were sentenced to transportation for seven years. Their case excited the greatest sympathy among the working population throughout the kingdom. In London, Birmingham, and several other large manufacturing towns immense meetings were held to petition the king in favour of the convicts. In the midst of this excitement the manufacturers of Leeds declared their determination not to employ any persons in their factories who were members of trades unions. The consequence was that in that town three thousand workmen struck in one day. On the 15th of April there was a riot at Oldham, where, in consequence of the[369] arrest of two members of a trade union, a factory was nearly destroyed, and one person killed, the mob having been dispersed by a troop of lancers. Several of the rioters were arrested and sentenced to terms of imprisonment varying from six to eighteen months. On the 21st of April a meeting of the trades unions took place at Copenhagen Fields, to adopt a petition to the Home Secretary praying for a remission of the sentence on the Dorchester convicts. They marched to the Home Office through the leading thoroughfares, numbering about 25,000, in order to back up their deputation, which, however, Lord Melbourne refused to receive, though he intimated to them that their petition should be laid before the king if presented in a proper manner. The multitude then went in procession to Kennington Common. On the 28th 13,000 London journeymen tailors struck for higher wages. The masters, instead of yielding, resolved not to employ any persons connected with trades unions, and after a few weeks the men submitted and returned to their work.But the Queen's Bench was by no means disposed to surrender its own privileges, even to the House of Commons. On the 24th of January Sir William Gossett, Serjeant-at-Arms, appeared at the bar of the House, and said that he had last[470] evening been served with a writ of Habeas Corpus, commanding him to bring up the bodies of the sheriffs, William Evans, Esq., and John Wheelton, Esq., then in his custody. The Attorney-General rose, and said he had no hesitation in advising the House to direct the Serjeant-at-Arms to return answer to the Court of Queen's Bench that he held these two individuals in custody by the warrant of the Speaker. He then moved a resolution to that effect, which was adopted, and the Court of Queen's Bench acquiesced.


      William Johnson, according to his own statement, "returned to Parliament by Lord Castlereagh, to put an end to it;" a judgeship.

      The commandant next turned his quarters into a dram-shop for Indians, to whom he sold brandy in large quantities, but so diluted that his customers, finding themselves partially defrauded of their right of intoxication, complained grievously. About this time the intendant Talon made one of his domiciliary visits to Montreal, and when, in his character of father of the people, he inquired if they had any complaints to make, every tongue was loud in accusation against La Fredire. Talon caused full depositions to be made out from the statements of Demers and other witnesses. Copies were deposited in the hands of the notary, and it is from these that the above story is drawn. The tyrant was removed, and ordered home to France. *The Session promised for some weeks to be very dull; no subjects more stirring being brought forward or announced than the settlement of the Civil List, the discharge of insolvent debtors, the suppression of Sunday newspapers, and the reading of the Athanasian Creed. To one of those subjects, the Civil List, Lord Eldon thus jocosely alluded in a letter to his daughter:"Our royal master seems to have got into temper again, as far as I could judge from his conversation with me this morning. He has been pretty well disposed to part with us all, because we would not make additions to his revenue. This we thought conscientiously we could not do in the present state of the country, and of the distresses of the middle and lower orders of the people. To which we might add, too, that of the higher orders."

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      There were at this time a hundred and sixty men at Montreal, about fifty of whom had families, or at least wives. They greeted the new-comers with a welcome which, this time, was as sincere as it was warm, and bestirred themselves with alacrity to provide them with shelter for the winter. As for the three nuns from La Flche, a chamber was hastily made for them over two low rooms which had served as Mademoiselle Mances hospital. This chamber was twenty-five feet square, with four cells for the nuns, and a closet for stores and clothing, which for the present was empty, as they had landed in such destitution that they were forced to sell all their scanty equipment to gain the bare necessaries of existence. Little could be hoped from the colonists, who were scarcely less destitute than they. Such was their poverty,thanks to Dauversieres breach of trust,that when their clothes were worn out, they were unable to replace them, and were forced to patch them with such material as came to hand. Maisonneuve, the governor, and the pious Madame dAillebout, being once on a visit to the hospital, amused themselves with trying to guess of what stuff the habits of the nuns had originally been made, and were unable to agree on the point in question. *

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      [22] Meules Seignelay, 8 July, 1684. This accords perfectly with statements made in several memorials of La Salle and his friends.Her next care was to visit Madame de Bullion, a devout lady of great wealth, who was usually designated at Montreal as the unknown benefactress, because, though her charities were the mainstay of the feeble colony, and though the source from which they proceeded was well known, she affected, in the interest of humility, the greatest secrecy, and required those who profited by her gifts to pretend ignorance whence they came. Overflowing with zeal for the pious enterprise, she received her visitor with enthusiasm, lent an open ear to her recital, responded graciously to her appeal for aid, and paid over to her the sum, munificent at that day, of twenty-two thousand francs. Thus far successful, Mademoiselle Mance repaired to the town of La Flche to visit Le Royer de la Dauversire.

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      The mill was an object of the last importance. It was built of stone and pierced with loopholes, to serve as a blockhouse in case of attack. The great mill at Montreal was one of the chief defences of the place. It was at once the duty and the right of the seignior to supply his tenants, or rather vassals, with this essential requisite, and they on their part were required to grind their grain at his mill, leaving the fourteenth part in payment. But for many years there was not a seigniory in Canada, where this fraction would pay the wages of a miller and, except the ecclesiastical corporations, there were few seigniors who could pay the cost of building. The first settlers were usually forced to grind for themselves after the tedious fashion of the Indians.


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