Notre-dame-de-la-victoire





A few rods to the west of the Chateau, through a vaulted archway leading

from the street, in the shadow of the peaceful convent buildings is a

little chapel called Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire. The swallows

twittering under its broken eaves are now the only sign of life; and its

rotting timbers and threshold, forgotten by the world, give no

suggestion of the martial incident to which it owes its existence. While

the American Colonies were still English, the British Ensign floated

over Boston town, and good Queen Anne was prayed for in Puritan pulpits,

an expedition was fitted out under Sir Hovenden Walker to drive the

French out of Canada. In the previous year, 1710, the Legislature of New

York had taken steps to lay before the Queen the alarming progress of

Gallic domination in America, saying:--



"It is well known that the French can go by water from Quebec to

Montreal; from thence they can do the like through the rivers and lakes,

at the risk of all your Majesty's plantations on this Continent, as far

as Carolina."



In the command of Walker were several companies of regulars draughted

from the great Duke of Marlborough's Army. While he was leading it from

victory to victory for the glory of his King, his wife, the famous Sarah

Jennings, was making a conquest at home of the affections of the

simple-minded and susceptible Queen. It is remarkable that the coronet

of this ambitious woman should now rest on the brow of an American girl,

and that a daughter of New York should reign at Blenheim Castle. At that

period France possessed the two great valleys of North America, the

Mississippi and the St. Lawrence; to capture the latter was the aim of

the expedition.



As the hostile fleet sailed up the St. Lawrence, a storm of great

severity burst upon the invaders. Eight of the transports were recked on

the reefs, and in the dawn of the midsummer morning the bodies of a

thousand red-coated soldiers were strewn on the sands of

Isle-aux-OEufs. It has been said that an old sea-dog, Jean Paradis,

refused to act as pilot, and in a fog allowed them to run straight on to

death; and also that among those who perished was one of the court

beauties who had eloped with Sir Hovenden.



The disabled vessels retreated before the artillery of the elements, and

left Bourbon's Lilied Blue to wave for half a century longer over Fort

St. Louis. This bloodless victory for the French was attributed by them

to the intervention of the Virgin, in gratitude for which this chapel

was vowed and built, as was also another on the market place, Lower

Town, Quebec. The miraculous feature of the defeated invasion was

considered certain from the fact that a recluse in the convent near the

chapel, and who was remarkable for her piety, had embroidered a prayer

to the Virgin on the flag which the Baron de Longueuil had borne from

Montreal in command of a detachment of troops.



Some of the original interior fittings of the chapel still exist, but

the bell which chimed its first call to vespers, when the great city was

a quiet, frontier hamlet, has long been silent. It is to be regretted

that from its historical character it has not been preserved from decay,

but looks as time-worn and mouldering as does the rusty cannon in the

hall of the Chateau, which was one of the guns of the ill-fated fleet,

and over which the river had flowed for almost two hundred years. Seven

of England's sovereigns had lived, reigned and died, and in France the

Royal house had fallen in the deluge of blood that flowed around the

guillotine. Quebec had changed flags--the Tri-color had been unfurled

over the Hotel-de-Ville at Paris, and the Stars and Stripes over the

new-born nation.



The thrones of Europe had tottered at the word of the Corsican boy,--he

had played with crowns as with golden baubles, and had gone from the

imperial purple to the mist-shrouded rocks of St. Helena. Eugenie, the

Beautiful, had ruled the world by her grace, and fled from the throne

of the haughty Louis to a loveless exile--while the old gun, with its

charge rusting in its mouth, lay in silence under the passing keels of a

million craft.





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