Pathfinders of the West eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 313 pages of information about Pathfinders of the West.

There was an old saying among retired hunters of Three Rivers that “one learned more in the woods than was ever found in l’ petee cat-ee-cheesm.”  Radisson’s training was of the woods, rather than the cure’s catechism; yet who that has been trained to the strictest code may boast of as dauntless faults and noble virtues?  He was not faithful to any country, but he was faithful to his wife and children; and he was “faithful to his highest hope,”—­that of becoming a discoverer,—­which is more than common mortals are to their meanest aspirations.  When statesmen played him a double game, he paid them back in their own coin with compound interest.  Perhaps that is why they hated him so heartily and blackened his memory.  But amid all the mad license of savage life, Radisson remained untainted.  Other explorers and statesmen, too, have left a trail of blood to perpetuate their memory; Radisson never once spilled human blood needlessly, and was beloved by the savages.

Memorial tablets commemorate other discoverers.  Radisson needs none.  The Great Northwest is his monument for all time.

[1] Radisson’s petition to the Hudson’s Bay Company gives these amounts.

[2] See State Papers quoted in Chapter VI.  I need scarcely add that Radisson did not steal a march on his patrons by secretly shipping furs to Europe.  This is only another of the innumerable slanders against Radisson which State Papers disprove.

[3] It seems impossible that historians with the slightest regard for truth should have branded this part of Radisson’s Relation as a fabrication, too.  Yet such is the case, and of writers whose books are supposed to be reputable.  Since parts of Radisson’s life appeared in the magazines, among many letters I received one from a well-known historian which to put it mildly was furious at the acceptance of Radisson’s Journal as authentic.  In reply, I asked that historian how many documents contemporaneous with Radisson’s life he had consulted before he branded so great an explorer as Radisson as a liar.  Needless to say, that question was not answered.  In corroboration of this part of Radisson’s life, I have lying before me:  (1) Chouart’s letters—­see Appendix. (2) A letter of Frontenac recording Radisson’s first trip by boat for De la Chesnaye and the complications it would be likely to cause. (3) A complete official account sent from Quebec to France of Radisson’s doings in the bay, which tallies in every respect with Radisson’s Journal. (4) Report of M. de Meulles to the Minister on the whole affair with the English and New Englanders. (5) An official report on the release of Gillam’s boat at Quebec. (6) The memorial presented by Groseillers to the French minister. (7) An official statement of the first discovery of the bay overland. (8) A complete statement (official) of the complications created by Radisson’s wife being English. (9) A statement through a third party—­presumably an official—­by Radisson himself of these complications dated 1683. (10) A letter from the king to the governor at Quebec retailing the English complaints of Radisson at Nelson River.

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Pathfinders of the West from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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