There is something pathetic in the failure of that dream. France had a glorious opportunity in North America, but lost it. The fault, however, lay not in her bold explorers and undaunted missionaries, but in the apathy of the home government. The intrepid men who braved all dangers in their patient effort to subdue the greater part of this new continent to the sovereignty of the Bourbon lilies, - and the no less courageous Jesuits who kept pace with the pioneers through the trackless wilderness, and in their zeal to rear at every vantage point the cross of Christ, often laid down their lives without a murmur, although subjected to the most atrocious tortures known to the worst of savages, - have given an imperishable glory to the gallant race of which they were the exponents.
A Glimpse Of The Citadel.
The St. Charles Valley, Near Quebec.
If the French kings and their advisers had possessed a thousandth part of the mental vigor, moral elevation, and physical endurance of such men as Cartier, Champlain, Maisonneuve, Montcalm, Frontenac, La Salle, and Fathers Marquette, Brebeuf, Jogues, Gar-nier, and Le Jeune, the history of North America might have been very different. But France was too absorbed in the affairs of Europe to realize the stupendous possibilities awaiting her in the New World. Even as wise a man as Vol taire thought, after Canada had been ceded to the English, that France was well rid of her "fifteen thousand acres of snow " ! Hence, though it was a Frenchman, the indomitable La Salle, who had proved the Mississippi to be navigable to the Gulf of Mexico; and although France, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, controlled the whole of the St. Lawrence Valley, the Richelieu River, the sources of the Hudson, and Lake Champlain (named after its French discoverer), as well as the mighty chain of the Great Lakes and the enormous territory called Louisiana, her North American possessions now consist, and have consisted ever since 1765, of two small islands off the coast of Newfoundland, perennially veiled in mist, symbolic of the unsubstantial fabric of the vision of French empire in the western hemisphere, which for a century and a half inspired the heroes of chivalric France.
The Catholic Cathedral, Quebec.
The grandeur of Quebec lies, primarily, in the gift of God, its situation; and, secondly, in the work of man, - its stately terrace and imposing citadel. Its Upper and Lower Towns are as distinct in character as in location. The famous flight of "Break-neck Stairs" affords the most direct, but least desirable, medium of communication between them for pedestrians; the most frequented thoroughfare to and from the upper city being the circuitous one of Mountain Hill. Still easier, however, is the recently constructed elevator, which conveys one to the esplanade with scarcely less rapidity and comfort than one experiences in the "lift " of the neighboring Hotel Frontenac. Lower Quebec, though interesting from its numerous souvenirs of the early colony, cannot truthfully be called beautiful. Apart from its commercial buildings, it consists largely of a labyrinth of crooked lanes, many of which are paved with planks. The houses bordering these narrow passageways are also dingy and dilapidated, although their squalor is occasionally relieved by pots of bright-hued flowers on the window-sills, picturesque gables, steep roofs, and an air of quaintness and antiquity, such as one seldom sees in the New World. One of these streetlets (if I may coin such a word) bears the appropriate name of Sous-le-Cap, and hugs the precipice so closely that on one side its houses back directly up against the rock, yet must be braced against their opposite neighbors by stout beams. This, too, possesses a plank pavement, over which I often saw with some astonishment the characteristic vehicle of Quebec, the caleche, making its way between a multitude of scattered barrels, casks, and piles of debris. Moreover, above this narrow thoroughfare, half street, half canon, are displayed hundreds of white and colored articles of clothing, which look in the distance like signals of distress to the fortress overhead, but very plainly indicate, on close approach, that, notwithstanding some appearances to the contrary, the inhabitants of Sous-le-Cap are not without regard for cleanliness. The Lower Town is, however, practical as well as picturesque, and several shipping and manufacturing industries employ a population noted for its skill and cheerfulness.