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tonneaux et plus; en laquelle nous ne vîmes pas un seul lieu vide de bois,
sauf en deux lieux de basses terres, où il y avait des prairies et des étangs
très beaux. [137; The land to the south of this bay is as beautiful and as
good, as arable and as full of beautiful fields and meadows, as we have
ever seen, and level like the surface of a pond. And the land to the north is
a high mountainous terrain, completely covered with all sorts of lofty
trees; and among other types are many cedars and spruces, as beautiful as
possible to see, capable of making masts for ships of 300 tons or more; here
we did not see a single place clear of woods, except in two low places,
where there were meadows and very beautiful ponds.]
Here we see a seemingly aesthetic dimension emerge through the repe-
tition of the adjective 'beau' ('belle … belles … beaux'), in two cases fit-
ting the hyperbolic formula identified by Bideaux: 'aussi belles ... que
nous ayons vues ... aussi beaux qu'il soit possible de voir.' The land-
scape also has a clear duality marked by the uniformity of the flat low-
lands to the south and the mountainous terrain to the north, which is
more rugged in appearance. Upon further inspection, however, we
note that the overall 'beauty' of the lowland is due to its potential for
cultivation ('labourable'), a factor of its uniformity ('unie'), which is de-
scribed through comparison with a familiar (that is, European) phe-
nomenon ('comme un étang'). Similarly, the tall timber is 'beautiful' in
terms of its potential use in the production of huge masts for seagoing
vessels ('pour faire des mâts'). Rather than being sensitive to the expan-
sive space and forested grandeur of the landscape to the north, Cartier
scans it for scattered 'places' that are lowlands and thus 'beautiful' be-
cause they are arable, like their counterparts to the south. In no case is
Cartier sensitive to the potential aesthetic beauty that could be (and
would be centuries later) derived from the juxtaposition of the two rad-
ically different landscapes. In short, Cartier sees nature entirely in terms
of culture, especially shipbuilding and agriculture, the very tools of dis-
covery and colonization . 3
As one scans Cartier's landscape descriptions, one continues to find
this familiar pattern of beauty defined in terms of uniformity and thus
arability, reinforced by comparability to European scenery. In his sec-
ond voyage of 1535-6, he penetrates inland up the Saint Lawrence val-
ley, the first European to do so. Again, beauty is linked to culture: he
describes the île de Bacchus (the île d'Orléans) as 'très belle à voir et
unie, mais elle est pleine de bois, sans aucun labourage' (182; very
beautiful to see and flat, but it is covered in woods, with no trace of
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