Astoria; Or, Anecdotes Of An Enterprise Beyond The Rocky Mountains By Washington Irving




































































































































 -  This done, they are forced upon a new voyage
for subsistence. 

Many of these coureurs des bois became so accustomed - Page 8
Astoria; Or, Anecdotes Of An Enterprise Beyond The Rocky Mountains By Washington Irving - Page 8 of 615 - First - Home

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This Done, They Are Forced Upon A New Voyage For Subsistence."

Many of these coureurs des bois became so accustomed to the Indian mode of living, and the perfect freedom of the wilderness, that they lost relish for civilization, and identified themselves with the savages among whom they dwelt, or could only be distinguished from them by superior licentiousness.

Their conduct and example gradually corrupted the natives, and impeded the works of the Catholic missionaries, who were at this time prosecuting their pious labors in the wilds of Canada.

To check these abuses, and to protect the fur trade from various irregularities practiced by these loose adventurers, an order was issued by the French government prohibiting all persons, on pain of death, from trading into the interior of the country without a license.

These licenses were granted in writing by the governor-general, and at first were given only to persons of respectability; to gentlemen of broken fortunes; to old officers of the army who had families to provide for; or to their widows. Each license permitted the fitting out of two large canoes with merchandise for the lakes, and no more than twenty-five licenses were to be issued in one year. By degrees, however, private licenses were also granted, and the number rapidly increased. Those who did not choose to fit out the expeditions themselves, were permitted to sell them to the merchants; these employed the coureurs des bois, or rangers of the woods, to undertake the long voyages on shares, and thus the abuses of the old system were revived and continued.

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