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      The letter from which this is taken was written to urge upon the Government a scheme in which the zealous priest could see nothing impracticable. He proposed to raise a war-party of thirty-eight hundred Indians, eighteen hundred of whom were to be drawn from the Canadian missions, the Five Nations, and the tribes of the Ohio, while the remaining 68

      [28] The state of feeling among the Abenakis is shown in a letter of Thury to Frontenac, 11 Sept., 1694, and in the journal of Villebon for 1693.

      [See larger version]The fate of the Iroquois prisoner now became the point at issue. The French hoped that the Indians in their excitement could be induced to put him to death, and thus break their late treaty with his countrymen. Besides the Ottawas, there was at Michillimackinac a village of Hurons under their crafty chief, the Rat. They had pretended to stand fast for the French, who nevertheless believed them to be at the bottom of all the mischief. They now begged for the prisoner, promising to burn him. On the faith of this pledge, he was given to them; but they broke their word, and kept him alive, in order to curry favor with the Iroquois. The Ottawas, intensely jealous of the preference shown to the Hurons, declared in their anger that the prisoner ought to be killed and eaten. This was precisely what the interests of the French demanded; but the Hurons still persisted in protecting him. Their Jesuit missionary now interposed, and told them that, unless they "put the Iroquois into the kettle," the French would take him from them. After much discussion, this argument prevailed. They planted a stake, 206 tied him to it, and began to torture him; but, as he did not show the usual fortitude of his countrymen, they declared him unworthy to die the death of a warrior, and accordingly shot him. [23]

      Charlevoix thinks that Frontenac was not displeased at this bitter arraignment of his predecessor's administration. At the same time, his position was very embarrassing. He had no men 203 to spare; but such was the necessity of saving Michillimackinac, and breaking off the treaty with the Senecas, that when spring opened he sent Captain Louvigny with a hundred and forty-three Canadians and six Indians to reinforce the post and replace its commander, La Durantaye. Two other officers with an additional force were ordered to accompany him through the most dangerous part of the journey. With them went Nicolas Perrot, bearing a message from the count to his rebellious children of Michillimackinac. The following was the pith of this characteristic document:

      About this time two publications occurred, which produced long and violent controversiesthose of the pretended "Poems of Rowley," by Chatterton, and "Ossian's Poems," by Macpherson. Chatterton, who was the articled clerk of an attorney at Bristol, a mere youth, pretended[183] that he had discovered Rowley's poems in the muniment room of the Church of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. These poems, written on yellow parchment, and in a most antiquated style, by a boy of sixteen, were palmed upon the world as the genuine productions of one Thomas Rowley, and took in many well-known authors and literary antiquaries, very wise in their own conceit. As the productions of a boy of that age these poems are marvellous, and nothing besides which Chatterton, in his short, neglected life, produced approached them in merit. This, too, was the case with Macpherson, who professed to have collected the poems of Ossian, an old bard of Morven, in the Highlands, and simply translated them into English. He was warmly accused of having written them himself; but as Chatterton, so Macpherson, steadily denied the authorship of the poems thus introduced, and as in Chatterton's case, so in Macpherson's, no other compositions of the professed collector ever bore any relation to these in merit. There can now be very little doubt that Macpherson founded his Ossianic poems on real originals to some extent; but that Chatterton, if he received Rowley's poems from Rowley, did so by inspiration.[324] The two other members were La Loire des Ursins, director of the Mississippi Company, and Michel Chassin, its commissary,he who wrote the curious letter to Ponchartrain, asking for a wife, quoted in the last chapter, pp. 317-318.

      There were those among the French to whom this barbarous warfare was repugnant. The minister, Ponchartrain, by no means a person of tender scruples, also condemned it for a time. After the attack on Wells and other places under Beaubassin in 1703, he wrote: "It would have been well if this expedition had not taken place. I have certain knowledge that the English want only peace, knowing that war is contrary to the interests of all the colonies. Hostilities in Canada have always been begun by the French."[83] Afterwards, when these bloody raids had produced their natural effect and spurred the sufferers to attempt the ending of their woes once for all by the conquest of Canada, Ponchartrain changed his mind and encouraged the[Pg 103] sending out of war-parties, to keep the English busy at home.


      `In a village,' said I meekly, to Julia.[20] The statement of some later writers, that many of the Senecas died during the following winter in consequence of the loss of their corn, is extremely doubtful. Captain Duplessis, in his Plan for the Defence of Canada, 1690, declares that not one of them perished of hunger.


      [185] Offres de la France; Demandes de l'Angleterre et Rponses de la France, in Memorials of the English and French Commissaries concerning the Limits of Acadia.The warriors dispersed to their respective haunts; and, when a band of them reached the St. John, Villebon coolly declares that he gave them a prisoner to burn. They put him to death with all their ingenuity of torture. The act, on the part of the governor, was more atrocious, as it had no motive of reprisal, and as the burning of prisoners was not the common practice of these tribes. [23]


      But whatever tendency might have been arising in theory or in practice about this time to mitigate the severity of our laws was destined to receive a dead check from the publication in 1784 and 1785 respectively of two books which deserve historical recollection. The first was Madans Thoughts on Executive Justice, in which the author, adopting Beccarias principle of the certainty of punishment as the best check on crime, advocated an unflinching carrying out of the laws as they stood. It was, says Romilly, a strong and vehement censure upon the judges and the ministers for their mode of administering the law, and for the frequency of the pardons which they granted. It was very much read, and certainly was followed by the sacrifice of many lives.[See larger version]