He might not like the Jesuits, but they were a great force in Canada and had done things which should have provoked his admiration. In any case, it was his duty to work with them on some basis and not dislocate the whole administration by brawling. As to Duchesneau, Frontenac was the broader man of the two, and may be excused some of the petulance which the intendant's pin-pricks called forth.
They loitered sullenly about the place, expressing their displeasure at the proceedings of the French. On a paper drawn up at the instance of the Intendant Duchesneau, the names of the greater number of La Salle's men are preserved. A squaw told the French that they meant to burn the vessel on the stocks. All now stood anxiously on the watch.
Everything which Duchesneau did gave Frontenac annoyance the more so as the intendant came armed with very considerable powers. During the first three years of Frontenac's administration the governor, in the absence of an intendant, had lorded it over the colony with a larger freedom from restraint than was normal under the French colonial system.
As Canada was then so sparsely settled, the growth of population filled a large place in the shaping of public policy. With this matter, however, Duchesneau had more to do than Frontenac, for it was the intendant's duty to create prosperity. During the decade 1673-83 the population of Canada increased from 6705 to 10,251.
'Every one here is puffed up with the greatest vanity, wrote the intendant Duchesneau in 1681; 'there is not one but pretends to be a patron and wants the privilege of naming a cure for his lands, yet they are heavily in debt and in extreme poverty. None of the great bishops of New France Laval, St Vallier, or Pontbriand had much sympathy with this seigneurial right of patronage or advowson, and each did what he could to break down the custom.
Lawrence; and of twenty hired men on their way from Europe to join him, some had been detained by his enemy, the Intendant Duchesneau, while all but four of the remainder, being told that he was dead, had found means to return home. His three followers were all unfit for travel: he alone retained his strength and spirit.
The bishop, an ally of the intendant, thus relates what followed. On arriving with a party of friends at the chateau, young Duchesneau was shown into a room in which were the governor and his two secretaries, Barrois and Chasseur. He had no sooner entered than Frontenac seized him by the arm, shook him, struck him, called him abusive names, and tore the sleeve of his jacket.
Upon the unfortunate king and the still more unfortunate minister fell the difficult task of composing the quarrels of their servants, three thousand miles away. They treated Duchesneau without ceremony.
Duchesneau replied that he and the clerk would go into the adjoining room, where they could examine it in peace, and put it into a proper form. Frontenac rejoined that he would then have no security that what he had said in the council would be accurately reported.
It was also within his power to dispatch messengers to the tribes of the Great Lakes. These charges Frontenac denied with his usual vigour, but without silencing Duchesneau. In 1679 the altercation on this point was brought to an issue by the arrest, at the intendant's instance, of La Toupine, a retainer of Du Lhut.