Century of Conflict

By Joseph Lister Rutledge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXV
EVIL GENIUS

François Bigot, once intendant at Louisburg, returns as intendant of all New France. Young Marguerite de la Jemeraye has a vision of service that results in conflict with Bigot and her successful promotion of the Grey Nuns.

Bigot's career of knavery, His friendship with Governor Vaudreuil and his long conflict with Montcalm. His knavish following becomes a canker eating at the heart of New France. His deeds. His luxuries. His dissipations. His friendship with Madame Péan. His final arrest and conviction.

There could be but one name in all Canadian history to which the phrase "evil genius" might apply. There were others perhaps evil enough to set themselves apart. But in the main they lacked even the most distant semblance of genius; and the record of others, dark as it might be, was lighted too often with some sudden flash of nobler attitudes to mark them wholly evil. Perhaps the phrase is too ambitious even for Francois Bigot, the last intendant of France's lost continent. Astute he was; able, intelligent, constructive within his own limited view. When he wished, he had an easy graciousness that defied criticism, and he could earn from associates and friends an almost idolatrous admiration. So much must be granted.

Yet there had been at least one abler intendant than he in New France. Whatever might be argued for him, François Bigot could never have equaled the solid qualities of heart and imagination and devotion and integrity that marked Jean Baptiste Talon, the Great Intendant. In the matter of astuteness and ability there is little doubt that Bigot would rank next to Talon. In honor and integrity he would be far

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