THE WORKS OF FRANCIS PARKMAN.* UNTIL that striking book, Montcalm
and Wolfe, which was noticed some time ago in these columns, was published in England by Messrs. Macmillan, the name of Francis Parkman was almost unknown on this side of the Atlantic, and his writings were a veritable terra incognito. It is, no doubt, the cordial reception given to Mon (cams and Wolfe which has led to the reproduction of a complete edition, in ten volumes, of Mr. Parkm an's works. It is, therefore, with a feeling akin to shame that one sees "twentieth edition" and "twenty-third edition" on the title-pages of some of these volumes, and observes that the Oregon Trail, which is the only one of them that is not historical, gives an account of a personal expedition to the Rocky Mountains forty years ago ; for if there is any American writer of the day who ought to have been popular here, both on account of his subject and of his style, it is Mr. Parkman. Readability is the characteristic of his literary work ; it is, indeed, both his strength and his weakness. He traverses the ground, and is instinct with the spirit of Feni-
* The Works of Francis Parkman The Pioneers of France in the N•se World, The Jesuits in Berth America ;The Old Regime in Concda ; La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West ; Count Frontritae and New Franc.; Mon teal's+ and Wolfe, 2 vols. ; The:Conspirdey of Pontiac, 2 vols.; The Oregon Trail, Lend( n : Macmillan and Co. 1883.
more Cooper ; while, under the flow of his style, as under the flow of Mr. Green's, one perceives the steady current of vigorous humanity, if not of democratic humanitarianism. The subject, moreover, of Mr. Parkman's works, taken as a whole, is one that ought to be specially fascinating to Englishmen who frequent "the ordinary of literature," as Coleridge terms the circulating library, and who, it must be allowed, are a trifle sentimental, if not Jingoish. If there is any struggle which ought to inspire us with pride of race, it is that which ended in the placing of the North American Continent at the feet of Great Britain. In that struggle, the patient, solid, often stolid, Anglo-Saxon is seen triumphing over the most formidable of Red, and the most brilliant and dangerous of White, rivals. It is true, indeed, that Mr. Parkman deals more with the French than with the English aspect of the conflict for empire in America. But the fact should make his writings all the more interesting. He shows what it was that our grandfathers had to cope with,—the most pertinacious and remorseless of religious organisations, and the most brilliant of aristocratic societies, that sought, after its own fashion, too, to make the New World reproduce afresh the ancien rjgime, which was, and felt itself to be, moribund.
There is no excuse now, however, for not knowing who Mr. Parkman is, and of what stuff as a historian he is made. Of the ten works which compose Messrs. Macmillan's republication, only two, 3fonicalm and Wolfe and The Conspiracy of Pontiac, reach two volumes. Of the single-volume books, The Oregon Trail must be dismissed with a very few words. As already said, it gives an account of a journey Mr. Parkman undertook to the Rocky Mountains in 1846. It is delightfully written ; Mr. Parkman's literary undress is quite as becoming as
his historical full-dress. It is, perhaps, most interesting as showing bow Mr. Parkman made the intimate acquaint- ance of the Indians of his own time, and through them of the nature of the Red Man generally,—a knowledge which must have been invaluable to him when engaged in his purely historical investigations. The other one-volume works in Mr. Parkman's series, The Pioneers of France in the New World, The Jesuits in North America, The Old Rivime in Canada, La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West, Count Frontenac and New France, give the best picture that exists of the France that rose and flourished in Canada, only to fall before the sword of Wolfe, the genius of the elder Pitt, and the superior colonising capacity of the English people. We see the Jesuits, led by Champlain, virtually founding New France, and trying to make it a great mission station, if not a theocracy. We see their persecution—for it can be called little better —of the Red Indians, especially of the powerful and vin- dictive Iroquois ; their struggles with the rottenness of French society under the old 9-ginie, and with the spirit of commercial enterprise as impersonated by the daring La Salle, who explored the Great West, and established the authority of his unworthy monarch on the Ohio and the Mississippi, only to die miserably by the hand of an assassin after all. Finally, we see in the career of Frontenac—a skilful soldier and politician, who yet, in virtue of his eccentricity, reminds one not a little of our own Peterborough—an attempt by sheer military force, which was all that was left of the France of Louis XIV. in the France of Louis XVI., to curb Indian rebellion and arrest English advance. The attempt was, of course, in vain. French feudalism, doomed in Europe, could not take root in America. Even the tactics of the Jesuits failed ; and as a simple matter of fact, the Jesuit policy deteriorated. Yet it is a remarkable panorama that Mr. Park- man places before us, and we find it difficult to say whether we admire more the patient industry with which he has set forth the economic and social causes of French failure in the New World, or his lore of the picturesque, which makes him (and with him his readers) equally at home in the solitudes of Nature and the artificialities of Franco-Canadian society, in the wigwam of the Indian and in the hut of a Jesuit martyr by mistake. Mr. Parkman is, all things considered, at his best when he deals with the adventurous and the romantic, and there is beyond question enough of both in his volumes. Looked at from this standpoint, his most attractive narratives are those which deal with the pioneers of France in the New World, and with La Salle, the explorer of the Great West, who had many of the qualities of a traveller of the first class like Livingstone, but who was destined to be the pioneer, not of his own, but of another race. There is no more melancholy story in hiEtory than the failure of Coligny's Huguenots to found in 1362—fifty-eight years before the Puritans landed in Massachusetts Bay—a colony on the coast of Florida. They were led by Jean Ribant, of Dieppe, a capable seaman and a staunch Protestant. They landed under the best auspices :—
"Indians were running along the beach, and out upon the sand- bars, beckoning them to land. They pushed their boats ashore and disembarked—sailors, soldiers, and eager young nobles. Corselet and motion, arquebuse and halbert, flashed in the sun that flickered through innumerable leaves as, kneeling on the ground, they gave thanks to God, who had guided their voyage to an issue full of promise. The Indians, seated gravely under the neighbouring trees, looked on in silent respect, thinking that they worshipped the sun. They were in full paint in honour of the occasion, and in a most friendly mood. With their squaws and children, they presently drew near, and, strewing the earth with laurel leaves, sat down among the Frenchmen. The latter were much pleased with them, and Ribaut gave the chief, whom he calls the king, a robe of blue cloth, worked in yellow with the regal fleur-de-lis. Bat Ribaut and his followers, just escaped from the dull prison of their ships, were intent on admiring the wild scenes around them. Never had they known a fairer May Day. The quaint old narrative is exuberant with delight. The tranquil air, the warm 1311D, woods fresh with young verdure, meadows bright with flowers ; the palm, the cypress, the pine, the magnolia; the grazing deer, herons, curlews, bitterns, woodcock, and unknown waterfowl that waded in the ripple of the beach ; cedars bearded from crown to root with long gray moss ; huge oaks smothering in the serpent folds of enormous grape•vines ; such were the objects that greeted them in their roamings, till their new discovered land seemed the fairest, fruitfullest, and pleasantest of al the world.'"
But the ill fortune of Coligny, and the spirit of St. Bartholo- mew's Day, followed the Huguenots across the Atlantic. Ribant and his men were butchered as heretics by Menendez, a ferocious Spanish sailor, adventurer, and heresy-hunter. It is to a certain extent satisfactory, however, to note the fact that an avenger of blood made his appearance on the Florida coast in the person of Dominique de Gourgnes, a fierce French soldier and patriot. Gourgues did to the Spaniards as the Spaniards had done to Ribaut, although unfortunately Menendez, being in Europe, escaped.
The two largest of Mr. Park man's works are Montcalnt and Wolfe, which has already been noticed at length, and The Con- spiracy of Pontiac. This conspiracy was the result of the defeat of the French by the English in Canada. The English took
possession of the fortresses that commanded the Western lakes, including Detroit, and so came into contact with Pontiac, the influential and able chief of the Ottawa Indians. An ambitions man, he first threw himself into the scale of the English, as the undoubted victors in the struggle with France. But English traders and officers treated the Indians first with indifference, and then with insolence. Roused by aggressions on their hunt- ing-grounds, inspired by Delaware prophecies, and encouraged by French intrigues, the Indians entered, under the leader- ship of Pontiac, into a secret plot, wbizh had for its main object the extermination of the English garrisons. The attempt failed ; but the siege of Detroit, and the border struggle of which it was an incident, taxed the British, and revealed the Indian, strength. Pontiac, although, like every savage, sanguinary and treacherous, was a hero of the forest order ; he fought as long and resolutely as possible ; and when the conflict came to its inevitable termination, he made the best available terms for himself and his associates. It is rather a pity to find Pontiac perishing miserably in a wood near St. Louis, after a carousal in which the whisky-bottle played too important a part, by the tomahawk of a strolling Illinois Indian, whom an English trader had bribed with a barrel of liquor to do the dastardly deed. The story of the Pontiac conspiracy is full of incidents, one of the most ludicrous of which is the dilemma in which the Quakers of Philadelphia were placed by their creed on one side, and their necessities on the other. It is admirably told by Mr.
Parkman. Indeed, The Conspiracy of Pontiac is the most romantic of all his works.