On Monday, the fifth of July, 1632, Emery de Caen anchored before Quebec. He was commissioned by the French Crown to reclaim the place from the English; to hold for one year a monopoly of the fur-trade, as an indemnity for his losses in the war; and, when this time had expired, to give place to the Hundred Associates of New France.

By the convention of Suza, New France was to be restored to the French Crown; yet it had been matter of debate whether a fulfillment of this engagement was worth the demanding. That wilderness of woods and savages had been ruinous to nearly all connected with it. The Caens, successful at first, had suffered heavily in the end. The Associates were on the verge of bankruptcy. These deserts were useless unless peopled; and to people them would depopulate France. Thus argued the inexperienced reasoners of the time, judging from the wretched precedents of Spanish and Portuguese colonization. The world had not as yet the example of an island kingdom, which, vitalized by a stable and regulated liberty, has peopled a continent and spread colonies over all the earth, gaining constantly new vigor with the matchless growth of its offspring.

On the other hand, honor, it was urged, demanded that France should be reinstated in the land which she had discovered and explored. Should she, the centre of civilization, remain cooped up within her own narrow limits, while rivals and enemies were sharing the vast regions of the West? The commerce and fisheries of New France would in time become a school for French sailors. Mines even now might be discovered; arid the fur-trade, well conducted, could not but be a source of wealth. Disbanded soldiers and women from the streets might be shipped to Canada. Thus New France would be peopled and old France purified. A power more potent than reason reinforced such arguments. Richelieu seems to have regarded it as an act of personal encroachment that the subjects of a foreign crown should seize on the domain of a company of which he was the head; and it could not be supposed, that, with power to eject them, the arrogant minister would suffer them to remain in undisturbed possession.

A spirit far purer and more generous was active in the same behalf. The character of Champlain belonged rather to the Middle Age than to the seventeenth century. Long toil and endurance had calmed the adventurous enthusiasm of his youth into a steadfast earnestness of purpose; and he gave himself with a loyal zeal and devotedness to the profoundly mistaken principles which he had espoused. In his mind, patriotism and religion were inseparably linked. France was the champion of Christianity, and her honor, her greatness, were involved in her fidelity to this high function. Should she abandon to perdition the darkened nations among whom she had cast the first faint rays of hope? Among the members of the Company were those who shared his zeal; and though its capital was exhausted, and many of the merchants were withdrawing in despair, these enthusiasts formed a subordinate association, raised a new fund, and embarked on the venture afresh.

England, then, resigned her prize, and Caen was despatched to reclaim Quebec from the reluctant hands of Thomas Kirke. The latter, obedient to an order from the King of England, struck his flag, embarked his followers, and abandoned the scene of his conquest. Caen landed with the Jesuits, Paul le Jeune and Anne de la Noue. They climbed the steep stairway which led up the rock, and, as they reached the top, the dilapidated fort lay on their left, while farther on was the stone cottage of the Heberts, surrounded with its vegetable gardens, - the only thrifty spot amid a scene of neglect. But few Indians could be seen. True to their native instincts, they had, at first, left the defeated French and welcomed the conquerors. Their English partialities were, however, but short-lived. Their intrusion into houses and store-rooms, the stench of their tobacco, and their importunate begging, though before borne patiently, were rewarded by the newcomers with oaths and sometimes with blows. The Indians soon shunned Quebec, seldom approaching it except when drawn by necessity or a craving for brandy. This was now the case; and several Algonquin families, maddened with drink, were howling, screeching, and fighting within their bark lodges. The women were frenzied like the men. it was dangerous to approach the place unarmed.

In the following spring, 1633, on the twenty-third of May, Champlain, commissioned anew by Richelieu, resumed command at Quebec in behalf of the Company. Father le Jeune, Superior of the mission, was wakened from his morning sleep by the boom of the saluting cannon. Before he could sally forth, the convent door was darkened by the stately form of his brother Jesuit, Brebeuf, newly arrived; and the Indians who stood by uttered ejaculations of astonishment at the raptures of their greeting. The father hastened to the fort, and arrived in time to see a file of musketeers and pikemen mounting the pathway of the cliff below, and the heretic Caen resigning the keys of the citadel into the Catholic hands of Champlain. Le Jeune's delight exudes in praises of one not always a theme of Jesuit eulogy, but on whom, in the hope of a continuance of his favors, no praise could now be ill bestowed. "I sometimes think that this great man [Richelieu], who by his admirable wisdom and matchless conduct of affairs is so renowned on earth, is preparing for himself a dazzling crown of glory in heaven by the care he evinces for the conversion of so many lost infidel souls in this savage land. I pray affectionately for him every day," etc.

For Champlain, too, he has praises which, if more measured, are at least as sincere. Indeed, the Father Superior had the best reason to be pleased with the temporal head of the colony. In his youth, Champlain had fought on the side of that; more liberal and national form of Romanism of which the Jesuits were the most emphatic antagonists. Now, as Le Jeune tells us, with evident contentment, he chose him, the Jesuit, as director of his conscience. In truth, there were none but Jesuits to confess and absolve him; for the Recollets, prevented, to their deep chagrin, from returning to the missions they had founded, were seen no more in Canada, and the followers of Loyola were sole masters of the field. The manly heart of the commandant, earnest, zealous, and direct, was seldom chary of its confidence, or apt to stand too warily on its guard in presence of a profound art mingled with a no less profound sincerity.

A stranger visiting the fort of Quebec would have been astonished at its air of conventual decorum. Black Jesuits and scarfed officers mingled at Champlain's table. There was little conversation, but, in its place, histories and the lives of saints were read aloud, as in a monastic refectory. Prayers, masses, and confessions followed one another with an edifying regularity, and the bell of the adjacent chapel, built by Champlain, rang morning, noon, and night. Godless soldiers caught the infection, and whipped themselves in penance for their sins. Debauched artisans outdid each other in the fury of their contrition. Quebec was become a mission. Indians gathered thither as of old, not from the baneful lure of brandy, for the traffic in it was no longer tolerated, but from the less pernicious attractions of gifts, kind words, and politic blandishments. To the vital principle of propagandism both the commercial and the military character were subordinated; or, to speak more justly, trade, policy, and military power leaned on the missions as their main support, the grand instrument of their extension. The missions were to explore the interior; the missions were to win over the savage hordes at once to Heaven and to France. Peaceful, benign, beneficent, were the weapons of this conquest. France aimed to subdue, not by the sword, but by the cross; not to overwhelm and crush the nations she invaded, but to convert, civilize, and embrace them among her children.

And who were the instruments and the promoters of this proselytism, at once so devout and so politic? Who can answer? Who can trace out the crossing and mingling currents of wisdom and folly, ignorance and knowledge, truth and falsehood, weakness and force, the noble and the base, can analyze a systematized contradiction, and follow through its secret wheels, springs, and levers a phenomenon of moral mechanism? Who can define the Jesuits? The story of their missions is marvellous as a tale of chivalry, or legends of the lives of saints. For many years, it was the history of New France and of the wild communities of her desert empire.

Two years passed. The mission of the Hurons was established, and here the indomitable Breheuf, with a band worthy of him, toiled amid miseries and perils as fearful as ever shook the constancy of man; while Champlain at Quebec, in a life uneventful, yet harassing and laborious, was busied in the round of cares which his post involved.

Christmas day, 1635, was a dark day in the annals of New France. In a chamber of the fort, breathless and cold, lay the hardy frame which war, the wilderness, and the sea had buffeted so long in vain. After two months and a half of illness, Champlain, stricken with paralysis, at the age of sixty-eight, was dead. His last cares were for his colony and the succor of its suffering families. Jesuits, officers, soldiers, traders, and the few settlers of Quebec followed his remains to the church; Le Jeune pronounced his eulogy, and the feeble community built a tomb to his honor.

The colony could ill spare him. For twenty-seven years he had labored hard and ceaselessly for its welfare, sacrificing fortune, repose, and domestic peace to a cause embraced with enthusiasm and pursued with intrepid persistency. His character belonged partly to the past, partly to the present. The preux chevalier, the crusader, the romance-loving explorer, the curious, knowledge-seeking traveler, the practical navigator, all claimed their share in him. His views, though far beyond those of the mean spirits around him, belonged to his age and his creed. He was less statesman than soldier. He leaned to the most direct and boldest policy, and one of his last acts was to petition Richelieu for men and munitions for repressing that standing menace to the colony, the Iroquois. His dauntless courage was matched by an unwearied patience, proved by life-long vexations, and not wholly subdued even by the saintly follies of his wife. He is charged with credulity, from which few of his age were free, and which in all ages has been the foible of earnest and generous natures, too ardent to criticise, and too honorable to doubt the honor of others. Perhaps the heretic might have liked him more if the Jesuit had liked him less. The adventurous explorer of Lake Huron, the bold invader of the Iroquois, befits but indifferently the monastic sobrieties of the fort of Quebec, and his sombre environment of priests. Yet Champlain was no formalist, nor was his an empty zeal. A soldier from his youth, in an age of unbridled license, his life had answered to his maxims; and when a generation had passed after his visit to the Hurons, their elders remembered with astonishment the continence of the great French war-chief.

His books mark the man, - all for his theme and his purpose, nothing for himself. Crude in style, full of the superficial errors of carelessness and haste, rarely diffuse, often brief to a fault, they bear on every page the palpable impress of truth.

With the life of the faithful soldier closes the opening period of New France. Heroes of another stamp succeed; and it remains to tell the story of their devoted lives, their faults, follies, and virtues.