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Liv. IV. Le vice a oblig la plupart de chercher ce paysWhen Hennepin met him, he had been about two years in the wilderness. In September, 1678, he left Quebec for the purpose of exploring the region of the Upper Mississippi, and establishing relations of friendship with the Sioux and their kindred the Assiniboins. In the summer of 1679 he visited three large towns of the eastern division of the Sioux, including those visited by Hennepin in the following year, and planted the King's arms in all of them. Early in the autumn he was at the head of Lake Superior, holding a council with the Assiniboins and the lake tribes, and inducing them to live at peace with the Sioux. In all this, he acted in a public [Pg 277] capacity, under the authority of the governor; but it is not to be supposed that he forgot his own interests or those of his associates. The intendant angrily complains that he aided and abetted the coureurs de bois in their lawless courses, and sent down in their canoes great quantities of beaver-skins consigned to the merchants in league with him, under cover of whose names the governor reaped his share of the profits.
It would seem that the law officers of the Crown despaired of proceeding in the old way, but they, or the Ministers themselves, hit on a new and more daring one. On the 27th of March the Secretary of State addressed a circular letter to the lords-lieutenant of counties, informing them that the Law Officers were of opinion that a justice of the peace may issue warrants to apprehend persons charged with the publication of political libels, and compel them to give bail; and he required the lords-lieutenant to communicate this opinion to the ensuing Quarter Sessions, that all magistrates might act upon it. This was the most daring attack on the liberty of the subject which had been made in England since the days of the Stuarts. Lord Grey, on the 12th of May, made a most zealous and able speech in the House of Lords against this proceeding, denouncing the investment of justices of the peace with the power to decide beforehand questions which might puzzle the acutest juries, and to arrest and imprison for what might turn out to be no offence at all. He said:"If such be the power of the magistrate, and if this be the law, where, I ask, are all the boasted securities of our independence and freedom?" But it appears from the correspondence of Lord Sidmouth, that he was at this moment glorying in this expedient and triumphing in its imagined success. He said the charge of having put such power into the hands of magistrates, he would do his best and most constant endeavour to deserve; and that already the activity of the dealers in libellous matter was much diminished. He had, in truth, struck a deadly terror to the hearts of the stoutest patriots, who saw no prospect but ruin and incarceration if they dared to speak the truth. Cobbett then fled, and got over to America. In taking leave of his readers, in his Register of March 28th, he gave his reasons for escaping from the storm:"Lord Sidmouth was 'sorry to say' that I had not written anything that the Law Officers could prosecute with any chance of success. I do not remove," he continued, "for the purpose of writing libels, but for the purpose of being able to write what is not libellous. I do not retire from the combat with the Attorney-General, but from a combat with a dungeon, deprived of pen, ink, and paper. A combat with the Attorney-General is quite unequal enough; that, however, I would have encountered. I know too well what a trial by special jury is; yet that, or any sort of trial, I would stand to face. So that I could be sure of a trial of whatever sort, I would have run the risk; but against the absolute power of imprisonment, without even a hearing, for time unlimited, in any gaol in the kingdom, without the use of pen, ink, and paper, and without communication with any soul but the keepersagainst such a power it would have been worse than madness to attempt to strive." Faillon, Vie de Mlle Mance, Introduction, xxxv.
Above all, do not fail to make your pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Anne. You may see her chapel four or five miles away, nestled under the heights of the Petit Cap. Here, when Aillebout was governor, he began with his own hands the pious work, and a habitant of Beaupr, Louis Guimont, sorely afflicted with rheumatism, came grinning with pain to lay three stones in the foundation, in honor probably of Saint Anne, Saint Joachim, and their daughter, the Virgin. Instantly he was cured. It was but the beginning of a long course of miracles continued more than two centuries, and continuing still. Their fame spread far and wide. The devotion to Saint Anne became a distinguishing feature of Canadian Catholicity, till at the present day at least thirteen parishes bear her name. But of all her shrines none can match the fame of St. Anne du Petit Cap. Crowds flocked thither on the week of her festival, and marvellous cures were wrought unceasingly, as the sticks and crutches hanging on the walls and columns still attest. Sometimes the whole shore was covered with the wigwams of Indian converts who had paddled their birch canoes from the farthest wilds of Canada. The more fervent among them would crawl on their knees from the shore to the altar. And, in our own day, every summer a far greater concourse of pilgrims, not in paint and feathers, but in cloth and millinery, and not in canoes, but in steamboats, bring their offerings and their vows to the Bonne Sainte Anne. *
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[See larger version]La Salle now resolved to leave the Indian camp, and fortify himself for the winter in a strong position, where his men would be less exposed to dangerous influence, and where he could hold his ground against an outbreak of the Illinois or an Iroquois invasion. At the middle of January, a thaw broke up the ice which had closed the river; and he set out in a canoe, with Hennepin, to visit the site he had chosen for his projected fort. It was half a league below the camp, on a low hill or knoll, two hundred yards from the southern bank. On either side was a deep ravine, and in front a marshy tract, overflowed at high water. Thither, then, the party was removed. They dug a ditch behind the hill, connecting the two ravines, and thus completely isolating it. The hill was nearly square in form. An embankment of earth was thrown up on every side: its declivities [Pg 181] were sloped steeply down to the bottom of the ravines and the ditch, and further guarded by chevaux-de-frise; while a palisade, twenty-five feet high, was planted around the whole. The lodgings of the men, built of musket-proof timber, were at two of the angles; the house of the friars at the third; the forge and magazine at the fourth; and the tents of La Salle and Tonty in the area within.