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Among the burghers of Rouen was the old and rich family of the Caveliers. Though citizens and not nobles, some of their connections held high diplomatic posts and honorable employments at Court. They were destined to find a better claim to distinction. In 1643 was born at Rouen Robert Cavelier, better known by the designation of La Salle. His father Jean and his uncle Henri were wealthy merchants, [Pg 8] living more like nobles than like burghers; and the boy received an education answering to the marked traits of intellect and character which he soon began to display. He showed an inclination for the exact sciences, and especially for the mathematics, in which he made great proficiency. At an early age, it is said, he became connected with the Jesuits; and, though doubt has been expressed of the statement, it is probably true.
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The Comte de Grignan, son-in-law of Madame de Svign, was an unsuccessful competitor with Frontenac for the government of Canada.
James M'Cleland, made Baron of Exchequer.We are told that, punning on his own name, he used to say that he was an ox, fit only to bear burdens. This sort of humility may pass for what it is worth; but it must be remembered, that there is a kind of acting in which the actor firmly believes in the part he is playing. As for the obedience, it was as genuine as that of a well-disciplined soldier, and incomparably more profound. In the case of the Canadian Jesuits, posterity owes to this, their favorite virtue, the record of numerous visions, inward voices, and the like miracles, which the object of these favors set down on paper, at the command of his Superior; while, otherwise, humility would have concealed them forever. The truth is, that, with some of these missionaries, one may throw off trash and nonsense by the cart-load, and find under it all a solid nucleus of saint and hero.
But he went on to Smorgony, and there, the remains of the army having come up, he called a council of war on the 5th of December. He told his generals that he had ordered Ney to reorganise the army at Wilna, and had appointed Murat, King of Naples, generalissimo in his absence. He assumed a tone of great confidence, promised his army good winter-quarters beyond the Niemen, and assured them that he was hasting away to present himself directly at the head of one hundred and twenty thousand men to keep the Austrians and Prussians firm to their alliance, and thus to make those he left behind more secure than he could do by staying with them. He then passed through the crowd of his officers, who were drawn up in an avenue as he passed, bidding them adieu with forced and melancholy smiles. He then stepped into a sledge with Caulaincourt and shut themselves in, and Duroc and Lobau followed in another sledge; and thus the man who entered Russia with nearly half a million of men, stole away, leaving the miserable remnant of his vast army to the elements and the Russians! for ever.