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CHARLEVOIX, PIERRE-FRANÇOIS-XAVIER DE, Jesuit priest, teacher, author of the Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle France . . . (1744), procurator in Paris of the Jesuit missions and Ursuline convents in New France and Louisiana; b. 24 (al. 29) Oct. 1682 at Saint-Quentin, France, son of François de Charlevoix, deputy king’s attorney, and Antoinette Forestier; d. 1 Feb. 1761 at La Flèche, France.

The Charlevoix family was of the old nobility; it had for centuries furnished legal officers, aldermen, and mayors to the town of Saint-Quentin. Pierre-François-Xavier de Charlevoix began his studies at the Collège des Bons-Enfants in his native town, later becoming a pupil of the Jesuits. On 15 Sept. 1698, when he was not quite 16, Charlevoix entered the Society of Jesus in Paris and began his two-year noviciate. At the end of the 17th century the Jesuits of the province of Paris were experimenting with a new program of studies to prepare future teachers for their colleges, and Charlevoix probably followed the new sequence: one year of rhetoric after the noviciate and then four years of philosophy at the Collège Louis-le-Grand in Paris. It may have been during his last year of philosophy that Charlevoix became a dormitory prefect responsible for younger pupils. Voltaire, who entered Louis-le-Grand in 1704, still remembered at the end of his long life “Father Charlevoix, who was my prefect, seventy-five years ago . . . and who was a bit longwinded.”

Having been ordained deacon, Charlevoix was sent to New France to teach grammar at the Jesuit college there. He arrived at Quebec on 7 Sept. 1705 aboard the ship carrying the new intendant Jacques Raudot* and his sons Antoine-Denis* and Jacques-Denis and joined the little group of teachers in the dilapidated college building. There he was in daily contact with the veterans of the Canadian missions who were living in retirement at the college: Louis André*, who had spent 12 years in the Baie-des-Puants (Green Bay, Wis.) region, Pierre Millet*, missionary to the Oneidas, and Antoine Silvy* with his experience of Hudson Bay. Other residents of the college were still in mid-career; Sébastien Rale*, temporarily in the infirmary, Vincent Bigot*, superior general of the Canadian missions, and Pierre Raffeix*, the procurator. There too Charlevoix met “Monseigneur l’Ancien,” François de Laval*, driven from his beloved seminary by the fire of 1 Oct. 1705. Nearby, at the Château Saint-Louis, Governor Philippe de Rigaud* de Vaudreuil was attempting to maintain the colony in an uneasy equilibrium; his eldest son, Louis-Philippe, was a pupil of Charlevoix. The future historian of New France could not have asked for a more instructive setting.

We do not know whether Charlevoix saw much of the colony during this first stay. He subsequently wrote in his Journal that he “had earlier travelled through the country in all seasons”; in any event he was at Montreal in September 1708 when the raiding party led by Jean-Baptiste Hertel* de Rouville and Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Ours Deschaillons returned from its attack on Haverhill [see Mary Silver*].

Back in France again, Charlevoix completed his four years of theology (1709–13) and was ordained priest. He was then assigned to Louis-le-Grand as a teacher of classics and philosophy. To this period belongs his first attempt at historiography: his three-volume Histoire de l’établissement, des progrès et de la décadence du christianisme dans l’empire du Japon . . . (1715), a revision and expansion of an out-of-print work published in 1689 by the Jesuit Jean Crasset.

Ten years after his return from Canada, Charlevoix was again drawn into its affairs when, in 1719, he was given the delicate task of recommending boundaries for Acadia, a constant subject of dispute between England and France after the treaty of Utrecht (1713) [see Jean-Baptiste Loyard*]. He worked ten months on this investigation and presented a report which has not been preserved, but which is summarized in a memoir by the former attorney general, François-Madeleine-Fortuné Ruette* d’Auteuil. Charlevoix maintained in his report that the Acadia ceded to the English in 1713 included only the Nova Scotian peninsula, and that the French should continue to support and trade with the Abenakis, a position which would be contested by the English until the end of the French régime [see Pierre de La Chasse].

While Charlevoix was still engaged in this inquiry, the regent, Philippe, Duc d’Orléans, charged him with a further task: to investigate the numerous rumours about the existence and location of a western sea between the New World and the Orient, a question that was of increasing commercial concern in those years. A thorough investigation by an impartial agent whose travels would appear to be visits to missions would, the French authorities hoped, avoid undue publicity and expensive exploratory expeditions.

Armed with a letter from the council of Marine authorizing him to “go up into the pays d’en haut with two canoes and eight voyageurs,” Charlevoix left Paris in mid-June 1720 and on 1 July embarked at Rochefort on the royal flute Le Chameau, whose second in command was his former pupil at Quebec, Louis-Philippe de Rigaud. After a slow crossing and more than a month of violent seasickness, Charlevoix arrived at Quebec on 23 September and resigned himself to waiting out the winter there. He set about composing his final report on Acadia, which he sent off to the court on 19 October, urging a firm French stand against English infiltration into what is now New Brunswick. He also began making notes on Quebec and its inhabitants. These, together with other observations to be made during his travels, and enriched by his reading and conversations, would eventually find their way into his published Journal.

Eager to begin his investigations, Charlevoix waited impatiently for winter to come to an end. Early in March 1721, before the ice had broken up on the St Lawrence, he travelled by carriole to Trois-Rivières, visiting on the way Pierre Robinau* de Bécancour, whom he erroneously calls “baron de Bécancour.” Leaving Trois-Rivières on 9 March he reached Montreal on the 14th and spent the next two months visiting Fort Chambly, commanded by his friend Jacques-Charles de Sabrevois *, Sault-Saint-Louis(Caughnawaga, Que.), and Fort Frontenac (Kingston, Ont). As he proceeded westward, guided by Jacques Hertel de Cournoyer, Charlevoix described his surroundings at every stage: Anse de la Famine (Mexico Bay, near Oswego, N.Y.) seemed to him “the worst place in the world”; he found the area around Niagara Falls, where Louis-Thomas Chabert* de Joncaire had built a new French post the previous year, infested with rattlesnakes; the region around Lake St Clair near the fort commanded by Alphonse Tonty* lived up to its reputation as “the most beautiful spot in Canada.” During the long voyage by canoe through the Great Lakes, Charlevoix, compass in hand, made notes on the coastline and estimated distances, or verified latitudes; his observations and calculations, now lost, later enabled the hydrographer Jacques-Nicolas Bellin to publish greatly improved maps of the Great Lakes region.

By 28 June Charlevoix had reached Michilimackinac, where he met Jean-Paul Legardeur* de Saint-Pierre and Jacques Testard* de Montigny. The latter was on his way to take up his new appointment at Fort Saint-François on the Baie des Puants and Charlevoix seized the opportunity to accompany him there in order to question some Sioux camped at Baie des Noquets (Big Bay De Noc, Mich.). Having heard from them tales of “a great river that flows westward and empties into the southern sea,” Charlevoix returned to Michilimackinac three weeks later, and questioned Zacharie Robutel* de La Noue, the commandant at Kaministiquia, and Father Joseph-Jacques Marest*, who had lived among the Sioux. On 27 July he wrote to the minister, Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon, Comte de Toulouse, to report his intention to spend the winter making inquiries in Louisiana and then to return to visit the Lake Superior posts in the summer of 1722: he asked that all available accounts of the western sea be forwarded to him, and that Jean-Daniel-Marie Viennay-Pachot be assigned to guide him on his Lake Superior trip. In the meantime the council of Marine had written (6 July 1721) to the commissioners of the Compagnie de la Louisiane in New Orleans to issue instructions for Charlevoix to return to France when he reached that settlement. Unaware of this decision, Charlevoix set out from Michilimackinac (29 July) with Robert Groston* de Saint-Ange as his guide, and headed southward down the east side of Lake Michigan into the St Joseph River.

Delayed by illness and bad weather, Charlevoix stayed at Fort Saint-Joseph (probably Niles, Mich.) during August and early September; here he took advantage of his enforced leisure to study the Miami Indians. To avoid further delay, he rejected the Chicago portage route in favour of the Theakiti (Kankakee) River, which he descended in early October. He then followed the Illinois River to the Mississippi, reaching the mouth of the Missouri on 10 October. At the Cahokia mission (East St Louis, Ill.) he met two of his former students, Abbés Dominique-Antoine-René Thaumur* de La Source and Jean-Paul Mercier. To regain his strength, Charlevoix rested for nearly a month at the Jesuit mission at Kaskaskia. Travel on the Mississippi was becoming difficult in the pirogues to which the party had transferred: the river was full of sandbanks and fallen trees, and the weather was surprisingly cold as December approached. Christmas Day was spent at Natchez, where Charlevoix could once more observe Indian customs. At Natchez he met the engineer Adrien de Pauger, with whom he descended the last stretch of the Mississippi as far as New Orleans. Arriving there 10 Jan. 1722, Charlevoix found the settlement so glowingly described in the Nouveau Mercure to consist merely of “a hundred or so shacks”; he could none the less foresee that it would one day become “an opulent city.” He later accompanied Pauger to the mouth of the Mississippi, where the engineer carried out a series of soundings in the river channels. They reached Biloxi (Ocean Springs, Miss.) at the beginning of February, and there Charlevoix contracted jaundice. After six weeks’ illness he decided he could not undertake the return voyage up the Mississippi, so, hoping to return to Quebec by sea, he sailed (24 March) on the Adour, a flute of 300 tons burden. On 14 April the Adour ran on a reef off the Florida keys: all aboard were saved, but it took them 50 days to make their way in a skiff back along the Florida coast to Biloxi. Finally, on 22 June, Charlevoix embarked again from Biloxi, this time on the Bellone, and after a further delay set sail on 30 June for Saint-Domingue (Hispaniola); the voyage was to last more than two months.

Arriving at Cap (Cap Haïtien) only at the end of September 1722, Charlevoix concluded it was too late in the year to attempt to return to Quebec and instead sought passage to France, thus unwittingly carrying out the instructions of the council of Marine. He sailed on 25 September in the Louis de Bourbon, a merchantman from Le Havre, and after a slow crossing reached Plymouth on 2 December; delayed in England three weeks he finally landed at Le Havre on 26 December. Two days later, Charlevoix reports, the ship he had just left “rotted away in pieces.”

Obliged to stop over in Rouen while waiting for a coach, Charlevoix had a long interview with René-Robert Cavelier* de La Salle’s associate, Henri Joutel. Then, hastening on to Paris, he presented to the Comte de Toulouse a report of his travels and inquiries (20 Jan. 1723); a few months later he would be obliged to repeat the information for the new minister, Charles-Jean-Baptiste de Fleuriau, Comte de Morville. Charlevoix’s tentative conclusions were that the western sea would likely be found between 40° and 50° latitude, that the Indian tribes west of the Sioux probably lived near the sea, that some Spaniards had already penetrated to that region, and that near the headwaters of the Missouri could be found rivers that flowed westward. Asked to make specific proposals, he stated that he could see only two courses of action to find the western sea: going up the Missouri River “whose source is certainly not far from the sea,” or establishing a mission among the Sioux, by whom contact might be made with tribes farther west. The regent favoured the second proposal, but a shortage of missionaries delayed its implementation for some years. Although he favoured the Missouri alternative, Charlevoix nevertheless offered, despite his ignorance of the Sioux tongue, to be a missionary to that nation if no qualified priests could be assigned to the task, but his offer was not accepted.

The two and a half years Charlevoix had spent in North America had brought him little satisfaction. He had been plagued by illness and dogged by sheer bad luck at almost every stage of his laborious travels. His tireless inquiries had contributed little to the search for the western sea; indeed his conclusions about the proximity of that sea would prove to be erroneous. Fortunately, out of this unhappy journey came one of the most important journals of North American historical literature. This manuscript record of his trip was eventually to be reworked by Charlevoix in the form of 36 letters addressed to the Duchesse de Lesdiguières, Gabrielle-Victoire de Rochechouart de Mortemart, daughter of Mme de Montespan’s brother, Louis-Victor de Rochechouart de Mortemart, Duc de Vivonne. Each letter recounts the events and sights of one stage of Charlevoix’s round trip from France to Quebec, Michilimackinac, and Louisiana, and back to France. In addition to this narrative text, the letters contain instalments of a lengthy essay on the Indians of North America, which complements Joseph-François Lafitau’s Mœurs des sauvages amériquains, comparées aux mœurs des premiers temps (2v., Paris, 1724). By the detail of its observations and the precision of its references, Charlevoix’s Journal is a unique document. “There is no other source,” writes its editor, Louise Phelps Kellogg, “which approaches his journal either for accuracy or discrimination, and none which gives so good a description of the posts, the routes, the missions, the tribes, and the conditions in the Mississippi Valley during the first quarter of the eighteenth century.”

Although Charlevoix, on his return from Louisiana, had already conceived the idea of publishing his journal together with a general history of the French colonies in North America, the actual publication was not to take place for more than 20 years. In the interval Charlevoix would publish three other works and serve as an editor of one of Europe’s foremost literary and scientific reviews, a career which might have sufficed in itself to carry his name to posterity.

Charlevoix’s first publication after his return to France was his life of Marie Guyart*, dite de l’Incarnation, dedicated to the daughter of the regent, Louise-Élisabeth d’Orléans, and published in 1724. If, as he claims in his preface, the biography was written in gratitude for his safe return from the New World, it must have been composed with great dispatch: the manuscript was approved by the ecclesiastical censor in November 1723, less than 11 months after Charlevoix’s arrival in Paris. In attempting a new life of the foundress of the Ursulines of Quebec, Charlevoix hoped to give a more concise and less anecdotal portrait than Marie de l’Incarnation’s son, Dom Claude Martin, had provided in 1677. Nevertheless Charlevoix’s biography remains essentially hagiographical, intended for a devout public, and offering little of historical interest.

In 1725 Charlevoix went to Rome, perhaps in connection with the Italian translation of the Vie de la mère Marie de l’Incarnation . . . , which was announced that year and appeared in 1727. When he returned to Paris in 1728 he resumed work on his history of French North America and took up again some memoirs he had received from his friend Jean-Baptiste Le Pers, a Jesuit missionary serving in Saint-Domingue since 1704. Finding that Father Le Pers’s texts required extensive verification and expansion, Charlevoix applied to the minister, Maurepas [Phélypeaux], who granted him permission in April 1729 to consult documents and plans in the depository of the Marine. In gratitude, Charlevoix dedicated his two-volume Histoire de l’isle Espagnole . . . (1730–31) to Maurepas, and included in his foreword a discussion of the importance for historiography of making a critical study of the primary sources and of collating oral evidence and written documents. It is precisely this concern for documentation of all kinds – personal observation, oral testimony, and archival and bibliographical sources – that makes Charlevoix a remarkably modern historian.

As an authority on the western sea, Charlevoix was consulted early in 1730 about the western expedition being prepared by Pierre Gaultier de Varennes et de La Vérendrye. Maurepas, seeking reassurance about La Vérendrye’s program, sent the proposals to Charlevoix, who replied at length, more than a year later, in an unsigned text. He endorsed, with some reservations, La Vérendrye’s general approach, but cautioned against delaying progress by constructing permanent posts along the way, and suggested certain economies. When Maurepas forwarded these comments to Quebec in the summer of 1731, the expedition was already under way, but Governor Charles de Beauharnois and Intendant Gilles Hocquart* nevertheless replied, point by point, in a long memoir of their own, dated 10 Oct. 1731.

Whenever he could, Charlevoix continued to work on his history of New France; in April 1732 Maurepas even authorized him to take to his room in the Collège Louis-le-Grand the archival documents he needed for his research, “except, however, acts or original documents referring to boundaries or to vital matters, which it is not appropriate for him to remove from the depository where he can have access to them.”

By 1733, when his history of Saint-Domingue was being reprinted in Amsterdam, Charlevoix’s three major published works had earned him a modest reputation in the learned world of Europe. In December of that year the respected Jesuit monthly review, Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire des sciences et des beaux-arts (subsequently called simply Journal de Trévoux from its original place of publication) underwent a reorganization and was moved to Paris, where Charlevoix became one of its new editors. During the score of years he seems to have held this appointment he published only one signed article in the Journal de Trévoux, his ambitious “Projet d’un corps d’histoire du Nouveau Monde” (January 1735), which was later reproduced with slight modifications in his histories of Japan and New France. In this important text Charlevoix, then 52 years of age, set down the pattern he was to follow in his great histories for the next 20 years. After defining the term “New World,” by which he meant “all the countries that were not known to Europeans before the 14th century,” he listed the components of a general history: an accurate annotated bibliography of all previous contributions to the subject, a complete description of the country and of its inhabitants, a chronological account of its entire history, including all significant events but excluding trivia, the whole accompanied by numerous maps and plans, and by illustrations of the flora and fauna.

The only other text in the Journal de Trévoux which is usually attributed to Charlevoix, although not signed by him, is the “Éloge historique de M. le cardinal de Polignac” (June 1742). Charlevoix’s principal activity as an editor appears to have been the writing of anonymous reviews of new literary and historical works. The reviews of some books of North American interest, among them that of the Aventures du s. CLe Beau . . . (1738) [see Claude Lebeau*] can be identified by internal evidence as being by Charlevoix.

In addition to his new duties with the Journal de Trévoux, Charlevoix was busy with the revision and expansion of his history of Christianity in Japan, which he republished in 1736 under the augmented title Histoire et description générale du Japon. This study became the second in his series of histories of the New World, and was introduced by his “Fastes chronologiques de la découverte du Nouveau Monde.” After the publication of this huge work, Charlevoix returned to his manuscript on New France, which he completed in the spring of 1740.

While he was seeing the two editions of the latter through the press, Charlevoix received the news of his appointment in 1742 as procurator in Paris for the Jesuit missions and Ursuline convents in New France and Louisiana. In commenting on the appointment, Canon Pierre Hazeur de L’Orme wrote drily (2 May 1742): “I doubt if he will be as well thought of as his late predecessor [Father Joseph Des Landes]. . . . He is very quick-tempered for an administrator.” Charlevoix himself was distressed to find that the procuracy was 40,000 livres in debt. “I waste all my time trying to borrow money,” he wrote to the minister in July 1742, “and I can obtain it only on terms that would bring about the ruin of all the missions for which I am responsible.” Charlevoix fulfilled these obligations until the year 1749, when he was replaced by Charles-Michel Mésaiger.

The appearance in August 1744 of the long delayed Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle France . . . , dedicated to Louis-Jean-Marie de Bourbon, Duc de Penthièvre, son of the Comte de Toulouse, was the high point of Charlevoix’s career as a historian. All his previous writings had been reworkings of histories published by others, or, in the case of Histoire de l’isle Espagnole, of material furnished by another. His history of New France, although it frequently drew on earlier works such as the Description géographique et historique des Costes de lAmérique septentrionale . . . (1672) of Nicolas Denys* or the Jesuit Relations, was an original creation. Having visited most of the sites, and having developed his own theory of historiography, Charlevoix had consulted all available documents and had produced, after more than 20 years of research and reflection, the first general history of the French settlements in North America, together with the first annotated bibliography of Canadiana.

The chronological sequence of the history actually begins with the “Dissertation préliminaire sur l’origine des Amériquains,” which reviews various theories about the origins and early migrations of North American Indians; it continues with revised “Fastes chronologiques du Nouveau Monde” which summarize early references to the existence and discovery of the New World. The history itself is presented in 22 books, covering the entire period from the first voyages of discovery to 1731, with a further page on the death of Pierre d’Artaguiette in 1736 [see François-Marie Bissot* de Vinsenne]. The Journal historique d’un voyage fait par ordre du roi dans l’Amérique septentrionnale, with a separate title-page, makes up the final third of the work, to which are appended numerous maps and plans, and a lavishly illustrated “Description des plantes principales de l’Amérique septentrionnale.” Charlevoix had mentioned some 70 plants in the body of his text, but only about half of these are found in the botanical appendix, which suggests that he was not the sole author of both lists. Charlevoix or his collaborator describes more than twice as many Canadian species as Jacques-Philippe Cornuti had done in his Canadensium plantarum (1635). Charlevoix identifies, for example, eight North American oaks, whereas the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus was to list only five in his Species plantarum (1753). Yet the contribution made by Charlevoix’s “Description des plantes . . .” has gone almost unnoticed.

The quarto (three-volume) and duodecimo (six-volume) editions of the Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle France appeared simultaneously, each in five issues with the imprints of five different Parisian printers. Both editions are prized by collectors as handsome examples of 18th-century typography and engraving, with their two-colour title pages, their folding maps and plans by Bellin, and their 22 (4o) or 44 (12mo) folding plates.

The Histoire et description générale appears to have circulated widely and to have been of particular interest to English readers. The importance and advantage of Cape Breton, printed in London in 1746 and attributed to William Bollan, made extensive quotation from Charlevoix. In 1754, Thomas Jefferys, geographer to the Prince of Wales (the future George III), published a pamphlet entitled The conduct of the French with regard to Nova Scotia . . . , which was a detailed critique of Charlevoix’s references to the Acadian boundary dispute; and in 1763 the second English translation of the Journal claimed “that it was from this Work in particular that our Ministers formed their Notions of the Importance of Canada.”

Charlevoix’s last published history, his Histoire du Paraguay (1756), became the most widely distributed of all his works, being eventually translated into English, Latin, German, and Spanish. Appearing at the precise time when the role of the Society of Jesus was being questioned in both Europe and America, it has remained the classic defence of the Jesuit administration in Paraguay.

Little is known of Charlevoix’s last years, spent in retirement at the Jesuit college of La Flèche. He died there on 1 Feb. 1761, in his 79th year. The Mercure de France summed his career up tersely: “author of several valuable histories of different parts of the New World. . . .” And indeed, Charlevoix was, for his own and succeeding generations, the one unimpeachable historian of the New World. “A most veracious man,” Voltaire said of him, and bought all his works. The Encyclopedists quoted him, as the ultimate authority on primitive peoples. When François-René de Chateaubriand wrote Les Natchez, Atala, and his Voyage en Amérique, he paraphrased whole passages from the Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle France and from the Journal.

In more recent years, Charlevoix’s admirers have been less conspicuous and his critics more vocal, charging him with inaccuracy, bias, and tedium. The accusation of inaccuracy, levelled at each generation of historians by their successors, was to be expected; Charlevoix himself noted in old age that in his first book “I made mistakes in a number of places.” Yet any just critic will be struck by the infrequency in Charlevoix’s writings of serious misinformation. A wrong date (the defence of Quebec against Sir William Phips*), an undocumented event (Jean-François de La Rocque* de Roberval’s second voyage), or a distorted episode (Jacques-René de Brisay* de Denonville’s 1687 expedition) hardly outweighs his many pages of substantially accurate narrative, the result of continuous devotion to the Cartesian ideal of “sifting the true from the false.” Nor can Charlevoix’s relative impartiality in the context of his century be seriously questioned, despite his evident and freely acknowledged concern with missionary activities and sympathy for Christian principles.

Finally, Charlevoix, having assimilated over long years of study the great writers of antiquity and those of 17th-century France, and having been during his whole lifetime immersed in the humanistic and philological tradition of one of the most renowned Jesuit colleges of Europe, possesses an admirably balanced and elegantly varied French style which bears comparison with that of any but the best 18th-century writers. The undeniable literary qualities of his skilfully organized narrative, of his tasteful descriptions, and of his perceptive portraits of great figures are almost completely lost in the merely adequate English versions presented or reprinted by his modern editors. More than any other writer of the French régime, Charlevoix deserves to be re-edited in his original text.

By a curious irony, this master historian, who sought to make the past live for his readers, seemed destined to write only magnificent obituaries for dead or dying régimes. The New France he had chronicled was slipping out of French hands even as Charlevoix himself lay on his death-bed; the Jesuit empires in Japan and Paraguay were crumbling, and within a few months of his death the mighty Society of Jesus itself would be brought to its knees in France. It was as if Charlevoix, by writing his golden histories of the New World and its Jesuits, had brought the curse of Midas upon all that he had touched.

David M. Hayne

[P.-F.-X. de Charlevoix, Histoire de l’établissement, des progrès et de la décadence du christianisme dans l’empire du Japon; où l’on voit les différentes révolutions qui ont agité cette monarchie pendant plus d’un siècle (3v., Rouen, 1715); La vie de la mère Marie de l’Incarnation, institutrice & première supérieure des Ursulines de la Nouvelle France (Paris, 1724); Histoire de l’isle Espagnole ou de S. Domingue, écrite particulièrement sur des mémoires manuscrits du P. Jean-Baptiste le Pers, Jésuite, missionnaire à Saint Domingue, & sur les pièces originales, qui se conservent au Dépôt de la marine (2v., Paris, 1730–31); Histoire et description générale du Japon; où l’on trouvera tout ce qu’on a pu apprendre de la nature & des productions du pays, du caractère & des coutumes des habitans, du gouvernement & du commerce, des révolutions arrivées dans l‘empire & dans la religion, & l’examen de tous les auteurs, qui ont écrit sur le même sujet; avec les fastes chronologiques de la découverte du Nouveau Monde (2v., Paris, 1736); Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle France, avec le Journal historique d’un voyage fait par ordre du roi dans l’Amérique septentrionnale (3v., and 6v., Paris, 1744); Histoire du Paraguay (3v., Paris, 1756). Almost all of Charlevoix’s works have passed through several editions and have been translated into various languages. None of them is available in a critical edition, although annotated English translations of the Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle France . . . and of the Journal . . . appended to it have been published: History and general description of New France, trans. and ed., with notes, by J. G. Shea (6v., New York, 1866–72; New York, 1900; London, 1902; Chicago, 1962); Journal of a voyage to North America, trans. and ed with historical introduction, notes, and index, by L. P. Kellogg (2v., Chicago, 1923). A complete collection of all works by Charlevoix is to be found in the John Carter Brown Library (Providence, R.I.). Some information was supplied by Dr Bernard Boivin, Research Branch, Dept. of Agriculture, Ottawa.  d.m.h.]

AN, Col., B, 42, f.448; 44, f.62; 53, ff.33, 75v; 55, f.26; 56, f.28; 59, f.12; C11D, 8, ff.163–64v; C11E, 2, ff.63–68v; 3, ff.14–15v; 16, ff.96, 102–4v, 106–9; C13A, 7, f.4v; F1A, 21, ff.277–78; 22, f.31; Marine, 3JJ, 388, 394. Archives du service hydrographique (Paris), 67–2, 11; 115–16, 4. BN, mss, NAF 9287. Découvertes et établissements des Français (Margry), V, 632–39; VI, 521–80. “Jean Prat, correspondant de Bernard de Jussieu,” Roland Lamontagne, édit., APQ Rapport, 1960–61, 146. JR (Thwaites), LXIX, 234, 303–4. Journals and letters of La Vérendrye (Burpee), 73–90. “Lettres et mémoires de l’abbé de L’Isle-Dieu,” APQ Rapport, 1935–36, 279, 280. Charlevoix (1682–1761), Léon Pouliot, édit. (Collection classiques canadiens, 15, Montréal, 1959). Allaire, Dictionnaire. Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus; Première partie: Bibliographie, par les pères Augustin et Aloys de Backer; Seconde parties Histoire, par Auguste Carayon, Carlos Sommervogel, édit. (11v., Bruxelles, Paris, 1890–1932), II, 1075–1079. DAB, IV, 23–24. Biographie universelle (Michaud et Desplaces), VII, 658–59. C.-M.-J. Bédier, Études critiques (Paris, 1903), 125–294. Gustave Charlier, De Ronsard à Victor Hugo (Travaux de la faculté de Philosophie et Lettres de l’université de Bruxelles, Paris, [1931]), 221–34. Gilbert Chinard, L’Amérique et le rêve exotique dans la littérature française au XVIIe et au XVIIe siècle (Paris, 1934), 333–39, passim. Delanglez, French Jesuits in Louisiana, 88–90, passim. Gustave Dupont-Ferrier, Du collège de Clermont au lycée Louis-le-Grand (1563–1920) (2v., Paris, 1921–22), I, 52–54. Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la N.-F. au XVIIe siècle, III, 367–8; Les Jésuites et la N.-F. au XVIIIe siècle, I, 176–81, 199–200, 206–8, 246–50. H.-A. Scott, Nos anciens historiographes et autres études d’histoire canadienne (Lévis, Qué., 1930), 167–81. Thérèse Ferron, “Essai sur un vieil historien de la Nouvelle-France,” Revue trimestrielle canadienne, V (1919), 418–37. J. R. G. Hassard, “Shea’s Charlevoix,” Catholic World (New York), XVII (1873), 721–30. Velera Keller, “An early visitor to Michigan: Charlevoix,” Michigan History (Lansing), XII (1928), 252–66. Albert Merchier, “Le Canada au siècle dernier d’après un Saint-Quentinoix,” Union géographique du Nord de la France (Douai), VIII (1887), 36–57. W. F. E. Morley, “A bibliographical study of Charlevoix’s Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle France,” Bibliographical Society of Canada Papers, II (1963), 21–45. Gilbert Chinard, “Les Michaux et leurs précurseurs,” Les botanistes français en Amérique du Nord avant 1850 (Colloques internationaux du C.N.R.S., LXIII, Paris, 1957), 267–68. Léon Pouliot, “François-Xavier de Charlevoix, s.j.,” Documents historiques (Sudbury), 33 (1957), 5–29. J.-E. Roy, “Essai sur Charlevoix,” RSCT, 3rd ser., I (1907), sect.i, 3–95. Jacques Rousseau, “Michel Sarrazin, Jean-François Gaultier et l’étude prélinnéenne de la flore canadienne,” Les botanistes français en Amérique du Nord avant 1850 (Colloques internationaux du C.N.R.S., LXIII, Paris, 1957), 152. William Sheppard, “Observations on the American plants described by Charlevoix,” Lit. and Hist. Soc. of Quebec Trans., 1st ser., I (1829), 218–30. Auguste Viatte, “Chateaubriand et ses précurseurs français d’Amérique,” Études françaises (Montréal), IV (1968), 305–15.

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David M. Hayne, “CHARLEVOIX, PIERRE-FRANÇOIS-XAVIER DE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed October 22, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/charlevoix_pierre_francois_xavier_de_3E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/charlevoix_pierre_francois_xavier_de_3E.html
Author of Article: David M. Hayne
Title of Article: CHARLEVOIX, PIERRE-FRANÇOIS-XAVIER DE
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1974
Year of revision: 2013
Access Date: October 22, 2014