The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents


Travels and Explorations

of the Jesuit Missionaries

in New France







Reuben Gold Thwaites

Secretary of the State historical Society of Wisconsin


Tomasz Mentrak



Lower Canada, Hurons


CLEVELAND:       The Burrows Brothers






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Electronic Transcription

Tomasz Mentrak


[Page v]





Preface To Volume






Relation de ce qvi s’est passé en la Novvelle France, és années 1643. & 1644. [Chaps. ix.-xiv. of Part I., and Chaps. i.-v. of Part II., being the second installment of the document.] Barthelemy Vimont; Kebec, September 5, 1644. Hierosme Lalemant; September 21, 1643.


















Bibliographical Data; Volume






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Document LIII. (the Relation of 1643-44) was commenced in Vol. XXV., wherein we presented Chaps. 1.-viii. of Part I. (by Vimont, as superior). In this volume, the remainder of Part I. is given, together with the first five chapters of Part II. (the belated Huron report, by Lalemant). It will be remembered, from the prefatory note in Vol. XXV., that Part I. is dated at Quebec, September 5, 1644; and that the principal portion of Part II., dated in the Huron country, September z I, I 643, is a second copy of the Huron report which had been intended for the Relation of 1642-43, — the first copy was captured by the Iroquois, and, although restored to Jogues, was left in his cabin when he went to visit the Dutch, who unexpectedly enabled him to escape. The conclusion of this report, together with a closing chapter dated March 31, 1644, bringing the account of Huron affairs up to that date, will appear in Vol. XXVII.

Continuing his report, Vimont describes the Huron seminary maintained at Three Rivers during the winter, and the instruction of its six adult pupils. In the spring, they set out to return to their own country, accompanied by Father Bressani; but they have journeyed only six leagues when they are captured by an ambushed band, and carried prisoners into the Iroquois country. Ten different bands of these ferocious invaders have this summer ravaged [Page 9] the St. Lawrence valley, and have even captured several Frenchmen, besides Hurons and Algonkins. The news of Bressani’s capture is brought by a Huron who escaped from the Iroquois; later, Particulars of his experiences in captivity are given by “a trustworthy person, who was an eyewitness of all his sufferings.” Bressani is horribly tortured by his captors, and is afterward given as a slave to a woman of their tribe; but is sent by her to the Dutch at Fort Orange, who pay her a ransom for the Father (August 19). The Dutch treat him with the utmost kindness, and keep him until he has recovered from his wounds, then send him back to France.

A Huron war party attack the Iroquois near Fort Richelieu, and capture three of their enemies, whom they carry in triumph to Three Rivers. Montmagny intercedes for the prisoners; one is yielded by the Algonkins, but the Hurons insist on taking theirs to their own country, — promising not to harm them, but through their means to negotiate a peace. The governor consents; and he also grants them the aid of twenty French soldiers, who are to winter in the Huron villages, and escort their fleet to Quebec next summer. With them go also three Jesuits — Brébeuf, Garreau, and Chabanel, the latter to instruct the Algonkins who dwell near the Hurons.

Vimont next praises the docility and Christian behavior of the Attikamegues, who had received some religious instruction at Sillery, two years before, They remember all they have been taught; not only do they repeat the prayers, but “they observe Sunday 35 religiously as if they had been with the French.” they persuade many of their pagan countrymen to come down to Three Rivers for instruction. [Page 10] The Christians hold a formal council with the French there, and declare that they wish openly to embrace the Faith. Many prominent families in this tribe follow the example of their chief, and emulate one another in their pious zeal. They even exhort those of other tribes to become Christians. Upon returning to their own country, they desire that a Father should reside among them; but, as yet, no one can be spared for that purpose.

The mission at Tadoussac is growing in importance. Buteux had charge of it last year; his account thereof, not reaching Quebec in time, was omitted from last year’s Relation but is given in that for this year (1644). The Christians at Tadoussac have maintained during the winter the pious duties in which they were instructed in the summer. Numerous instances are related of the piety and devotion manifested by these new converts. A zealous neophyte has his head shaved like those of the Fathers; he also takes “a whip of rope, and goes through the cabins, calling the others to prayers, and striking those who do not promptly obey.” The ships bring brick for building a mission house; the Indians carry it to the place appointed, and so eagerly that the Father has to warn them not to overload themselves, — but they answer that they are obeying” his exhortations to practice mortifications for their unbaptized brethren.”

De Quen succeeds Buteux, this year; the savages come to Quebec for him, with a canoe, and he receives from them all a hearty welcome. They render him an account of the manner in which they have spent the winter, and he is much consoled by their devoutness. After hearing the confessions of the Christians, [Page 11] he devotes himself to the instruction of the pagans, and wins many souls; during the summer, tie baptizes forty persons. With the ships from France, comes Father le Jeune, who is greeted with joy by the savages of Tadoussac, and by Noel Negabamat, who goes down from Quebec expressly to meet him. Five converts are presented to him for baptism, for some of whom a sponsor is found in Madame de la Peltrie, “who had gone to Tadoussac to witness the fervor of these Neophytes.” De Quen carries on the work of instructing the savages at this post, and finds them very tractable. Many of them do penance for their sins; a public penance is imposed by the priest on some Christians who become intoxicated. The Christian idea and form of marriage are gradually making some progress among these savages. When De Quen is recalled to Quebec, the Indians complain, and even propose to “shut up the Father in the Chapel, until the shallop that awaits him has left.”

Vimont devotes his last chapter to an account of “the creation of a Captain at Tadoussac,“ — that is, the “resuscitation” of a dead chief, by conferring his name and authority on another, This ceremony is accompanied by many presents and speeches, and followed by a feast.

A short note from Vimont introduces the Huron Relation of 1643, explaining that this is a second copy, sent later to replace the one captured by the Iroquois. Lalemant relates the calamities that have befallen the Huron church, and the gains that it has nevertheless made. One of the Huron villages, “the most impious of them all,” is destroyed by the Iroquois. [Page 12] During the entire summer, the invaders keep up their raids throughout the Huron country; and so crafty and alert are they, that only two of their men are captured throughout the season. These are, of course, tortured and burned; “but they were souls destined for Paradise,” for they are baptized by the Jesuits.

Late in the summer, the Hurons receive news of the capture of many of their number, with some of the French (Jogues and others), by Iroquois on the St. Lawrence. Joseph Taondechoren, “the most faithful and the best of our Christians,” escapes from their hands, and returns to his own country, where he relates all the particulars of their disaster and the fate of the prisoners. Amid all the sufferings of these, they are greatly aided and cheered by the heroic and self-denying ministrations of Father Jogues, who renders them every kindly office within his power. He also endures his torments with the utmost courage and devotion.

Lalemant gives a separate account of each of the Huron missions. The house at Ste. Marie is in the care of Fathers le Mercier and Chastelain. It is the center of the mission work, and comprises, besides the residence of the priests, “a hospital for the sick, a cemetery for the dead, a church, a retreat for pilgrims, and a place where the infidels can receive instruction.” Through all these, but especially the hospital, the Indians are reached and influenced. The pious acts and holy deaths of various Christians are recorded by the writer.

The church of the Attignawantan (the Bear clan) — among whom were situated the oldest mission stations, Ihonatiria, now abandoned; and Ossossané, or [Page 13] La Conception — has especially suffered. The oldest and best Christian families have been decimated by Iroquois captivities and massacres, and many are reduced to dire poverty. But the fervor, devoutness, and resignation of these poor harassed Christians increases with their sufferings and trials; and the unbelievers have been moved thereby to respect the Faith. Especially shining examples are those of Joseph Taondechoren, René Tsondihwannen, and Charles Tsondatsaa. The latter is almost suffocated in a sweat box by some infidels, who think thus to test his courage and his devotion to his religion; but he yields not.

At St. Joseph, the principal Christian is Étienne Totiri, who, with his wife, is devoted to the interests of the church. A child of theirs, but three years old, “has so imbibed piety with her mother’s milk that she answers the Catechism in public, knows her prayers, and takes pleasure in unloosening her lisping tongue by speaking of God and the beauties of Paradise.” Several influential chiefs have been baptized here; the character and experience of each are described. One of these has renounced his office as chief, “for fear that it might compel him to some offense against God.”

The increasing number of native converts renders more conspicuous their opposition to the pagan customs of their tribesmen; and the latter, enraged at the restraints which the Christians would impose upon them, “redouble their caIumnies against the Faith,” and desire to suppress the new religion. The missionaries look forward to the possibility of martyrdom for both themselves and their neophytes; but no one, either priest or Indian, falters for a [Page 14] moment. Death is, to each, only the blessed recompense for his suffering on earth. The Fathers have induced the Christians to wear rosaries around their necks, as a sign of their faith; this emblem seems also to be for them a defense from temptation.

Two of the Hurons who had been under Brébeuf's instruction return to their own country, and bring to the Fathers letters from Quebec. Both these men belong to the village of St. Michel, where they make public announcement of their conversion, and urge their countrymen to embrace the Faith. One of these, soon afterward, is assailed by dire calamities; but his faith and constancy remain unshaken. Striving to save his dying sister’s soul, he commends her to God, and baptizes her five or six times, — but all to no avail, for, “although water was not wanting in her Baptism, he had forgotten the formula, or had never learned it.” But God has mercy on them; the dying woman’s strength revives for a little while, and her brother runs five leagues, without stopping, to Ste. Marie, to obtain the aid of a priest. Two of the Fathers hasten to her; they find her “quite prepared for Heaven, to which her soul soared, shortly after she was baptized.” The Christians of St. Michel are now sufficiently numerous to warrant a permanent mission station among them, of which Chaumonot and François du Peron have charge.

An Algonkin chief from the Island tribe endeavors to instigate the people of St. Michel to hostility against the “black gowns.” This hinders the conversion of the infidels; but those who are already believers are only roused to greater zeal and courage. In this village, the infant church has “a Preacher of its own nation, an Apostle who worthily [Page 15]

PAGE MISSING: 16  Pwaterefta


LIII (continued)

Relation of 1643-44


Chaps. i.-viii. were given in Volume XXV.; we herewith present chaps. ix.-xiv. of Part I., and chaps. i.-v. of Part 11. (the Huron report). The remainder of the document will appear in Volume XXVII.

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[139 i.e., 143] CHAPTER IX.





HE Seminary of the Hurons that we maintain here has this year been extraordinarily fortunate, and, humanly speaking, extraordinarily unfortunate. In truth, it has been extraordinarily fortunate, because it has consisted of six excellent Neophytes, — some of whom have perfected themselves to a wonderful degree in the Faith, which they had already embraced; while the others have received it with very good disposition, and all have given and have received the utmost satisfaction during the whole time that they remained with us.

On the other hand, it has been extraordinarily unfortunate, because [144] these poor Christians on leaving our hands fell into those of the Iroquois, to serve as a prey for the flames, and for their stomachs hungering after the flesh and blood of all these peoples who hear us. I have said that this Seminary had been in this respect extraordinarily unfortunate, humanly speaking; for we must adore all the designs of divine Providence, and trust that he will derive his own glory and the good of these peoples from the unusual afflictions with which he smites them. Perhaps the accident that has happened to these persons is but an imaginary misfortune in our minds, [Page 19] and true happiness in the sight of God, who had connected their predestination with their capture and the kind of death that these Barbarians may make them suffer. We have reason to suppose this, from the evidences of perfect integrity that they gave while they dwelt with us.

Four of them had left their own country last Autumn, to come and winter here, and to be instructed [145] at leisure, hoping to derive great benefit from the good examples both of our French and of the Christian Savages, of whose virtue and good habits they had heard through the reports of their countrymen who had wintered here in previous years, and had been greatly impressed thereby. The fear of the Iroquois, of hunger, and of numerous other great dangers and hardships that have to be encountered on so long a journey, was not sufficient to prevent them from coming to seek that pearl of the Gospel which is preferable to all earthly goods, and which cannot be too dearly purchased, even with the loss of life. The two others were captives who came and threw themselves into our hands, after escaping from those of the Iroquois, who had taken them prisoners, — one since the capture of Father Jogues, by whom he was baptized; and the other, after the disastrous defeat of the Hurons near Montreal. This disaster was caused by a signal act of cowardice and treachery on the part of the Iroquois, who, having attracted the Hurons [146] into their Fort under pretext of peace and friendship, massacred some and made prisoners of the others, excepting a very few who fled, quite naked, to Montreal.

These six Hurons met together, by a fortunate coincidence, at the three Rivers, at the beginning of [Page 21] November, after having escaped many dangers. They found there Father Brébeuf, whom they sought; he received them into our house, and took charge of their instruction and maintenance, — being greatly assisted by the liberality of Monsieur the Governor, who spares nothing on such occasions; also of Monsieur de Chamflour, the commandant of the Fort and settlement of the three Rivers; and even of the reverend Hospital Mothers, whose charity extends very frequently beyond the bounds of their Hospital, especially in favor of the Hurons.

Immediately after their arrival, they applied themselves to learning the prayers and the Catechism with an ardor that could only proceed from the holy [IQ] Ghost. Those more advanced helped those more backward, and those who were ignorant willingly accepted the more learned for their masters. In the beginning, they passed the greater portion of the night in continually repeating what they had learned during the day. One of them, who was of duller comprehension and had a less retentive memory than the others, almost despaired at the commencement of ever being able to learn anything. Nevertheless, aided by the grace of God, and encouraged by the words of the Father, and by the good examples and discourses of his companions, he persevered in becoming instructed, with such success that he learned not only the prayers and the Catechism, but also many other things, to his own great astonishment. Every Sunday, they attended Catechism, which was taught to the French in the Chapel; and, although they were somewhat advanced in years, they nevertheless experienced great satisfaction in answering publicly questions on what they had learned [148] during the [Page 23] week, to the admiration of the French and of our Savages. Finally, they made such progress in the space of two months, and gave such evidence of their good will, that the Father who instructed them deemed it advisable to confer baptism on those who had not yet received it, and to supply the rites in the case of the others, — which was done, to the great joy of these good Neophytes.

From that time to the day dedicated to the memory of the glorious saint Joseph, they prepared themselves for Holy Communion by frequent Confessions, and by such innocence and uprightness of life that very often the Father who directed their consciences was obliged to make them repeat sins of their past life, to have some matter for absolution. For, after having diligently examined themselves, each one would say ingenuously and without vanity: “For my part, I do not recollect having offended the sovereign Master of our lives. How could we (1491 offend him here, amid so many good examples and instructions? It is not here that the wicked Oki dwells; it is in our villages that the Devil and sin reign. If we could always live with you, we would be happy, and we might hope always to retain the innocence of our baptism. That is why we came down here, — that we might learn from your discourses and your examples to serve God. We would have no sense, were we to offend him in the midst of so many favors that we receive from him; for it is he who does us all the good that you do to us.”

Throughout the Winter, they were troubled by horrible dreams, sufficient to frighten them and to make them relapse into their old superstitions, had they not been steadfast in the Faith. But in this, [Page 25] as in all other things, their usual practice was to offer everything to God, and to resign themselves into his hands. “O Lord,” they would say, “you are the sovereign Master of our lives; do with them as you [I so] please. I offer you everything with which these dreams threaten me; I am prepared to accept it, if you so ordain. Nothing but good can happen to me while I obey your commands, for you are my Father, and you love me perfectly.” All six fasted through the whole of Lent, in their desire to atone to God for their past sins; and for this same reason, which was quite habitual with them, they strove to bear all their troubles joyfully. If they went out to hunt; if they went to fish through the ice; if they undertook any journey, — as they did several times, during the severe Winter weather, to gratify us, — they would say: “My God, we offer you this trouble, and all the ills that we may suffer. It is to please you, and to satisfy your Justice for our sins.” One of them was, on two occasions, ill-treated by one of our French. He did not avenge himself; he answered not a word, nor did he complain to any one, but merely said [I 5 I] in his heart: “My God, I willingly accept this grievance, and I cheerfully offer it to you in atonement for my sins, and to your glory. Perhaps I have given him cause to be angry, although I had no intention of doing so.” Thus did these worthy Seminarists, whom God was gently preparing for death or for slavery, maintain themselves during the Winter in the performance of many holy and virtuous actions.

Finally, when Spring came, and the river began to be somewhat free through the disappearance of the ice, they resolved to embark on the return to [Page 27] their own country, — promising to speak there boldly in favor of the Faith, and to render their relatives and countrymen sharers of the same blessing that they had received while with us. In fact, there was every prospect that they would greatly advance the Faith in their country; for they were nearly all grown men, with good minds, well taught, and very zealous for the conversion of their people, among whom [I 521 some of them had great authority, — one especially, who had already been chosen as a mar Captain. Besides this, they would have spoken favorably of the French, and of our Fathers, who had loaded them with fine gifts and shown them every kindness. But all these hopes were vain, and, if we had not others, solidly founded on God’s providence, we would have reason to fear that the accident which has happened to our Seminarists might spoil all our affairs in the Huron country instead of advancing them; for these peoples may imagine — on account of so many unfortunate events, of which we seem to be the cause — that we bring all these misfortunes upon them, and that our company is fated to cause their ruin and desolation. If they have not such notions, it is due to a special Providence of God, who guides our affairs by confounding our own contrivances and skill, and by opening to us paths that we know not of. At all events, our Neophytes embarked in three canoes, on the 27th of April, [I 531 with Father Joseph Bressany, — an Italian by Birth, and a native of the City of Rome, whom our Reverend Father General had sent here to us,[1] two years ago, — and a young French lad, who was sent to serve our Fathers. It was believed that there would not, as yet, be much danger upon the river; and our [Page 29] Herons especially were of opinion that, as the ice had not yet entirely disappeared, the Iroquois had not had time to come from their country. Moreover, they imagined that Peace had already been concluded between them and the Iroquois, in consequence of overtures commenced upon this subject before they had left their own country. This induced us to risk several packages for our Fathers among the Hurons, owing to the need in which they were, after so many losses.

All these assurances did not prevent the Father and the Hurons from preparing themselves as persons who might soon die. All were ready alike for life or for death, — but for death rather than life, [154] because divine Providence gave them some inward presentiment of what was to happen to them, Nor were they without some outward indications; for Father Bressany’s canoe was wrecked about a league from the three Rivers, at a place where there was no danger, and in fine weather. Owing to the proximity of the land, all in the canoe was saved; but this accident stopped them, and compelled them to sleep at this side of the entrance to the Lake. When they started thence on the following day, the cold and the quantity of snow that fell greatly delayed them, and did not allow them to proceed farther than the Marguerie river, six leagues beyond the three Rivers.[2] Here the Hurons fired a few gun shots at some Bustards; this made their presence known to thirty Iroquois who were not far away, and who prepared an ambush for them beyond the river, behind a point which they had to double. Consequently, on the third day after their departure, when the canoe which carried Father Bressany, and [Page 31] which led the way, reached that point, it was immediately [155] attacked by three Iroquois canoes. On seeing them, the Father commanded his people not to fight, as their side was not of equal strength, in either men or arms. The enemies drew near, seized the Father and the two Hurons who accompanied him, and declared them their prisoners.

Meanwhile the two other Huron canoes endeavored to escape by flight, and were already so far away that they thought they were out of danger, when, on doubling another point, they saw two other Iroquois canoes, strongly manned, which attacked them. In this encounter one of our Hurons, named Bertrand Sotrioskon, tried to use his gun, but was prevented from doing so by an Iroquois who felled him in his canoe, quite dead; this so frightened the others, that they allowed themselves to be taken without further resistance.

The enemies landed, with their prisoners; broke open all the packages containing the ‘articles needed by our Fathers, who have received nothing for three years: tore up the letters that we [I 561 sent them; and equally divided the spoils. They then threw themselves on the body of the man whom they had killed; they tore his heart out of his breast, and scalped him; they cut off his lips, and the most fleshy parts of his thighs and legs, which they boiled and ate in the presence of the captives. But, while these Barbarians so treated his body, it is probable that God crowned his soul with glory in Heaven, as a reward for his Faith, his purity, and his innocence, — whereof the Father who directed his conscience gives this testimony, that, from the moment of his baptism, he had never grievously offended [Page 33] God, and that he had performed many generous acts of virtue.

At the time, they committed no outrage on Father Bressany or on the other captives whom they carried off to their country, with the exception of one who escaped halfway. This was Henry Stontrats, — a man of mature age and mind, and a most excellent Christian, — who related to us all the circumstances attending their capture. He assured us that the Iroquois had [157] neither stripped nor bound Father Bressany, and had left him his Breviary, and all the small articles that he carried on his person; but that they had, nevertheless, threatened to burn him at the entrance of their village, as he had been given in the place of a celebrated Iroquois recently killed at Montreal by the French. The good Father was very well prepared for this, and, according to the account of the Huron who escaped, he went his way quite joyful and content, greatly consoling and encouraging his companions. He added that, since the end of the Winter, in less than a month, ten bands of Iroquois warriors had started from their country to war against the French, Algonquins, and Hurons. The first two had gone to the Falls of the Chaudiere, a place famous for Iroquois ambuscades, and Huron defeats; the third, to the foot of the long Sault;[3] the fourth, above Montreal; the fifth, to the Island of Montreal itself. He said that this last consisted of 80 warriors, who lay there three days in ambush, watching the French of that settlement, who saw and boldly attacked them. [158] Finally, — after a long resistance, in which they killed some of the Barbarians and wounded many, — they were compelled to fall back, having lost five out of their [Page 35] thirty men, three of whom were killed and two taken prisoners. The latter were afterward burned alive, during four days, with frightful tortures. The sixth band, consisting of 40 warriors, had marched toward the river des prairies, where they surprised a party of Algonquins, who were all carried off as captives, and most of these were immediately burned at the Iroquois village. The seventh is that which captured Father Bressany and our Herons, — among whom, in addition to the Iroquois, there were six Hurons, and 3 of the Wolf Tribe, who are naturalized Iroquois.[4] The 8th is a band of 30, who met our prisoners on the way; they cut off a finger from the hand of Henry, who afterward escaped, and one from that of Michel Atiokwendoron, and threatened the Father, — without, however, doing him any harm. This band, who were coming to attack the three Rivers, were to leave a letter that they had received from Father Bressany, at the [I 591 end of a stick, on the bank of the great river; but nothing was found save the said Father’s canoe, that had been given to that band, and was afterward left behind and recognized near the three Rivers. The 9th band made its appearance at Richelieu; and the 10th went in the direction of the Huron country; besides, there are several others, that have started or will start later. That is what the Huron relates who effected his escape, and who — having reëmbarked not long after, with some others who had recently come down from their country — again fell, with all his companions, into the hands of the Iroquois. They will not fail to put him to death, according to their custom, — not only because he was already destined for death at his first capture, and in revenge [Page 37] for another Iroquois killed at Montreal, but because of his flight, which is a crime among them that they do not forgive.

Such has been the end of our Seminary for the Hurons, which we would deeply regret, — both on account of the loss of these good Neophytes, whom we tenderly love for their virtue, and of the great hopes with which their zeal (1601 for the advancement of the Faith inspired us, — had we not the utmost confidence in the providence of God, who will cause this accident to result to the benefit both of these poor captives and of their nation, by ways that we know not of. However, we cannot but regret the loss of Father Bressany, — an excellent laborer in these Missions, of whom we had great expectations, — if, nevertheless, we can reasonably feel regret for the condition of a person who cheerfully suffers great trials for so good a cause. It has pleased Our Lord to give us back Father Jogues, and he has taken Father Bressany from us. His will be done; he is the Master of our lives and of our liberties. It will always be a great honor for us to be able to sacrifice them to his glory.

We would have been deprived of all knowledge of what has happened to Father Bressany since the time< of his capture, had we not heard it from a trust-worthy person who was an eyewitness of all that he suffered during his captivity. After the first encounter, related above, [161] the Iroquois crossed Lake saint Pierre, and took the captives, for their sleep, to a very damp but very retired place, — where the Father and his companions, all securely bound, passed the night without any shelter but the Sky, or other bed than the earth. This was their usual lot, every [Page 39] night throughout the journey. On the following day, they were made to embark; and, after two days’ navigation, they met another band of Iroquois, who, overjoyed at this capture, gave the Father several blows with cudgels and threatened him with rougher treatment. When the last comers informed the others of the death of one of their most distinguished companions, which had happened at Montreal, the Father was no longer spared, After two days’ navigation, he landed, and walked for six days barefooted through the woods, brush, and swamps, — fasting until about four o’clock in the afternoon, when a halt was made for the purpose of taking a rest. But hardly any was given to the Father, who, wet with rain, with the water of melting snows, of the torrents, and of the [162] rivers that had to be crossed, was compelled to assume all the tasks of the cooking. He was sent for the water and wood; and when he did not do well, or did not understand what was said to him, blows from cudgels were not lacking, — nor were they, whenever the party encountered Hunters and Fishermen. When the six days had expired, he had to embark on the Lake of the Iroquois, which they crossed in 8 days; they then landed, and walked for three days more. On the fourth day, which was the fifteenth of May, about three o’clock in the afternoon, while he was still fasting, they reached a place where there were about 400 Savages, who had erected their cabins there for fishing. About two hundred paces beyond the cabins, the Father was stripped quite naked; and when the Savages had ranged themselves in two lines, facing each other, and armed with cudgels, he was ordered to march the first of all through the ranks of the band. No sooner had [Page 41] he lifted his foot than one of the Iroquois seized him by the left hand, and with a knife inflicted a deep gash between the third and the little fingers; and then the others discharged on him a [163] shower of blows with cudgels, and led him thus to the cabins. There they made him ascend a scaffold (raised about six feet from the ground), — quite naked, bathed in his own blood, that flowed from nearly every part of his body, and exposed to a cold wind that congealed his blood on his skin; and they ordered him to sing during the feast that they gave to those who had brought in the prisoners. When the feast was over, the warriors withdrew and left the Father and his’ companions in the hands of the young men, who made them descend from the scaffold, whereon they had stood for two hours, exposed to the jeers of these Barbarians. When they had come down, they were made to dance, after their fashion. But, as the Father did not do it well, they struck him, goaded him, and tore out his hair. Five or six days were spent in this pastime. Some one out of compassion threw him some shreds of a gown, wherewith to cover himself. He made use of it during the day; but at night they took it from him, and, gathering round him, one goaded him with a very sharp stick; another burned him with a [164] firebrand; others seared him with calumets heated red-hot. The children threw on him hot embers and glowing coals. Then they made him walk around the fire where they had stuck short, pointed sticks into the ground, and had scattered hot embers and live coals; others tore out his beard and his hair. Every night, they would begin anew this diverting sport; and, at the end, they would burn one of his nails or one of his fingers during [Page 43] seven or eight minutes. One night, they would burn a nail; another night, the first joint of a finger; on another, the second joint. Thus they applied fire to his fingers over eighteen times. They pierced his left foot with a stick, and, meantime, he was compelled to sing. This little amusement lasted until fully two hours after midnight; and then they left him there, lying flat on the ground in a spot where rain fell abundantly, — his only covering being a small skin that did not cover one half of his body. A whole month passed in this manner.

From this place, he was taken to the first Village of the Iroquois, and suffered more on [165] this journey than on the previous one, — being wounded, feeble, poorly clad, with but little food, and at night exposed to the air and bound to a tree; so that, instead of sleeping, he could only shiver with the cold. On arriving at the first Village, he was received with severe blows, administered with cudgels on the most sensitive parts of his body; but the blows were so heavy that he fell to the ground, half dead. They still continued to strike him on the chest and on the head, and would have killed him, had not a Captain dragged him on the scaffold that had been erected, as on the first occasion. Here they cut off his left thumb, and two fingers of his right hand, after first, slitting his hand between the second and middle fingers. In the meanwhile, there came a heavy shower accompanied by thunder and lightning, which drove the Savages away, and so they left him there quite naked. As night approached, they took him into a cabin where they burned the remainder of his nails and some of his fingers, twisted his toes, and [Page 45] forced him to eat [166] filth and what the dogs had left, without giving him any rest.

After he had been so tortured in that Village, he was taken to another, at a distance of two or three leagues, where again he had to suffer the same torments. He was, moreover, hung up in chains, by the feet; and, when he was taken down, his feet, his hands, and his neck were bound with the same chains. Seven days passed in this manner, and new tortures were added; for he was made to suffer in places and in ways concerning which propriety will not allow us to write. Sagamité was poured on his stomach and the dogs were called to eat the cigarette, biting him as they ate. All these sufferings reduced him to such a state that he became so offensive and noisome to the smell, that all kept away from him as from carrion and approached only to torment him. He was covered with pus and filth, and his sores were alive with maggots. With all this, he could hardly find any one who would give him a little Indian corn boiled in water. The blows that he [x67] had received caused an abscess to form on his thigh, that allowed him no rest, — which was, moreover, difficult to obtain on account of the hardness of the ground, on which he stretched his body, that was only skin and bone. He did not know how he could succeed in opening his abscess, but God guided the hand of a Savage — who wished to stab him three times with a knife — so that the Savage struck him directly on the abscess, whence flowed an abundance of pus and blood, and thus he was cured. Who would ever have thought that any man could have suffered so much without dying — abandoned in terra aliena, in loco horroris et vastæ soditudinis; without [Page 47] language with which to make himself heard; without friends to console him; without Sacraments, and without any remedy wherewith to alleviate his suffering? He did not know why the Savages deferred his death so long, — unless, perhaps, to fatten him before eating him; but they did not take the means to do so. Finally, on the 19th of June, the Iroquois gathered together from all the Villages, to the number of 2,000, in the Village where the Father was, who thought that that day [168] would be the last of his life. After the meeting, he begged the Captain that the torture by fire might be changed for another; as for death, he would welcome it. “Not only shalt thou not suffer by fire,” replied the Captain, “but what is more, thou shalt not die. That has been resolved.” I know not how they came to take that resolution; but I know well that they themselves were afterward astonished at it, without knowing why, as the Dutch and the good Cousture — who was taken two years ago with Father Jogues, and who saw Father Bressany only after his deliverance — have related.

That resolution taken, they gave him, with all the ceremonies usual in the country, to a good woman whose grandfather had formerly been killed by the Hurons in an encounter. This woman received him; but her daughters could not bear him, because he inspired them with such horror. I know not whether it was this that led the mother to think of his deliverance, or whether it was through compassion that she took on him, or, rather, because she saw that he was unfit for work owing to the mutilation [16g] of his fingers, and was convinced that he would be a burden upon her. In any case, she ordered her son to take [Page 49] him to the Dutch, and, on receiving some present from them, to deliver him into their hands. This the son faithfully carried out.

But, before leaving, the Father had the consolation of baptizing a Huron who was being taken to the torture, and who earnestly begged for Baptism before dying. This the Father granted him, knowing that he had received sufficient instruction from our Fathers. But it could not be done so secretly that the Iroquois did not perceive it, so they compelled him to go out and leave him. When he was dead, they brought his limbs into the cabin where the Father was, and, after cooking them, they ate them in his presence; then, placing the head of the dead man at his feet, they asked: “Well! of what avail was Baptism to him?” If the Father could have explained himself in their language, it would have been a good opportunity for him to instruct them. It was, nevertheless, a profound consolation [I 701 to have been there so opportunely for the happiness of that poor Savage. He started shortly afterward, in the company of the young Savage, the son of the good widow, who took him to the Dutch. He was received by them with great kindness, and they satisfied the Savage beyond all his expectations; they gave the Father clothes, and, after keeping him with them for some time, until his health was restored, they put him on board a ship. He reached la Rochelle, on the fifteenth of November of the year 1644, in better health than he has ever enjoyed since he has belonged to our Society. [Page 51]

[171] CHAPTER X.


A BAND of sixty Hurons who had come down toward the French with the intention of fighting the Iroquois, if they encountered them, reached the three Rivers without meeting an enemy. But they had not long been there, when information was brought them that some canoes had made their appearance on Lake saint Pierre, which is only two leagues above the three Rivers. They hastened there at once, accompanied by some Algonquins who wished to join them. Finding only signs and traces of the enemy, they went farther up, as far as Richelieu, which is at the Mouth of the river of the Iroquois. When they reached that settlement, some of them rested; while the others, thinking that the Iroquois were not far away, embarked [172] at night on that river to go and seek them. They passed through the Iroquois sentinels, without being noticed. Thirty Iroquois were posted as pickets below their main body, to watch for any French or any Savages of our allies who might show themselves, on the water or on land. As the night was dark, they did not perceive those young warriors who were ascending, against the current of the river, to discover the enemy. They heard some noise, however. When the Hurons had advanced some distance, they observed a number of fires in the woods. Having ascertained that they were enemies, and judging from the number [Page 53] of their fires that the forces were unequal, they withdrew a little, to consult as to what they should do. While halting, they heard in their rear two canoes, propelled by many paddles. They were greatly surprised, because they had not observed these as they passed through them.

It was the ambush of those thirty Iroquois who, suspecting that there was some one [I 731 on the river, wished to find out who it was. Here, then, were our Hurons between the main body of their enemies and these two well-manned canoes. They turned toward the latter, and both sides fired Arquebus shots and arrows without much effect, owing to the darkness of the night. The two canoes retreated to their main body. A Huron who had been captured in battle by the Iroquois and had taken sides with them, left them under cover of night, and, running along the bank of the river, he called out to the Hurons, who were in doubt as to whether they should renew the fight. After some distrust of this man, they drew near to him. He called out that he belonged to their Nation, and that he desired to escape with them. “How many of you are here?” he asked. “We are hut sixty,” replied the Hurons. “Fly,” he said; “for, besides the two canoes that you met, which contained thirty Iroquois, there are a hundred, hidden not far from here.” He did not include those who were scattered here and there, in troops, along the great river. Another Huron, who had hidden himself in [174] the edge of the wood and had listened to the Iroquois, told them that ten out of the band of thirty had detached themselves therefrom to hunt for Frenchmen. Those ten hunters were quite near fort Richelieu, hidden amid the brushwood and trees, [Page 55] where they were waiting until the French should come out in the morning to visit the nets stretched near their fort. The warriors, on hearing this, went to reconnoitre that ambuscade; and, on discovering it, they tried to surround it. But, when the spies saw that they were found out, they rose like a covey of frightened Partridges; and having neither wings nor feet sufficiently swift to allow of their all escaping, three of them fell into the hands of our Hurons. They gave one to the Algonquins, who commenced to treat him in a barbarous manner. As there were many enemies around Richelieu, they did not feel safe; so both Hurons and Algonquins embarked to go down to the three Rivers, where they brought their prisoners in triumph. On the 26th of [I 751 July, at 4 o’clock in the morning, a canoe was observed from the three Rivers floating down the current. When it had approached within earshot, the doleful voice of an Algonquin was heard, calling out that one of the Hurons who had gone to the war was dead. But he was mistaken. It was quite true that one of those three Iroquois, on being captured, had stabbed with his knife the Huron who had seized him; and that the wound was considered mortal. But it was not so, although his lung was badly injured, and a portion of it protruded. The surgeon cut this off; and, strange to say, when he threw it on the ground, a Huron picked it up, roasted it, and gave it to the wounded man to eat. He swallowed it, singing: “That is very strange medicine.”

Soon afterward, joyful voices were heard from afar; and from twelve to fifteen canoes made their appearance on the great river, floating gently down with the current, bearing about eighty warriors, who [Page 57] struck their paddles against the sides of the canoes, and sang all together, — making the prisoners dance in time to their voices, and to the noise that they made. They were [r76] all seated in these little Bark boats, with the exception of the three poor victims, who appeared above the others, and who sang as boldly as the victors, — showing by the swaying of their bodies, and the look in their eyes, that the fire and death that they expected caused them no fear.

All the people came out to witness this Triumph of the Savages. Joy animated the souls of the victors, while sorrow afflicted those of the vanquished. When all had landed, they were taken to the cabins of the Algonquins. Some threw themselves on him who had been given to them, tore out his nails, cut off several of his fingers, and burned his feet with heated stones. Monsieur de Chamflour, the commandant of the settlement, sent word to them to desist; that information had to be given to Monsieur the Chevalier de Montmagny, the Governor of the country, of the capture of the prisoners and that the matter was important.

It was difficult to control the fury of these minds, that were vindictive to the last degree, for this poor wretch had been given in the place of a brave Algonquin, taken prisoner and burned [I 771 by the Iroquois. All those who loved the dead man vented their wrath on this one who was but half alive.

Monsieur the Governor arrived, and assembled the principal Algonquins. But, as their vengeance had already devoted the victim to the flames, they replied that his life was disposed of, — that the stake was already prepared; that they would treat him in the [Page 59] same manner as the Iroquois treated them, when they fell into their hands. Indeed, he would have been burned that very night, had not Monsieur de Montmagny caused orders to be given them in a very emphatic manner. The violence of their fury was therefore restrained; and the Christians were secretly advised to represent the importance of the matter to their countrymen, — that overtures of peace could be made only through those captives, and that peace meant the welfare and salvation of the whole country. When their first feelings of rage were appeased, they became more tractable.

The Hurons were also spoken to about giving up their prisoners; but they turned a deaf ear. Some savages, who saw what Monsieur the Governor desired, [178] made him understand their fashion of delivering prisoners. They handed him thirty-two or thirty-three straws, saying that a similar number of presents would speak more effectively for the deliverance of the prisoners, than the most eloquent tongues in the world; and that it was thus that those who wished for peace should act. Indeed, feasts, presents, and harangues do all the business of these savages. When Monsieur de Montmagny saw this, he caused to be spread out in the courtyard of the fort, on a fine day, three considerable presents consisting of axes, blankets, kettles, arrowheads, and similar articles. Then he ordered the Chiefs and principal men of the Algonquins and Hurons who were then at the Three Rivers to be summoned before him. When they had taken their places, each on his own side, he made his Interpreter explain to them what those presents meant. He had already caused to be strongly impressed on them, and had [Page 61] represented to them by powerful arguments, that it was highly important for them to make peace with their enemies; and that the only [179] way to do so was to send back one of those captives, who might prevail upon his countrymen to come to a good understanding, and agree to a lasting peace between all these Nations. The Algonquins, who had shown themselves so furious at the beginning, brought their prisoner, who was no longer able to walk; and one of their Captains made a speech, saying that they wished to live on good terms with the French, seeing likewise that many of them were of the same belief; that they could refuse nothing to Monsieur the Governor, whom they called their Captain; that it was not for the sake of the presents that they manifested such obedience, but through the desire that the country might be free, and that all the nations might enjoy profound peace. They did not fail to take what was intended for the deliverance of the prisoner. It is true that the majority of these gifts were not for them, but for the purpose of drying the tears of the relatives of him to whose soul this pitiable victim was to be sacrificed. When he saw that he had escaped the fire that had been prepared for him, he gazed eagerly at his [18o] liberator, repeating several times the name that these people have given him: “Onontio, Onontio,“ — that is to say, “Great mountain, great mountain;” expressing his joy and pouring forth all his thanks by a single word that is worth ten thousand.

As to the Hurons, the sight of all those presents produced no effect on them; on the contrary, they manifested their regret, being sorry that they were not able to grant what was insisted upon so urgently, [Page 63] and with such good reasons. One of their Captains arose, and exclaimed very angrily: “I am a man of war, and not a trader; I came to fight and not to trade. My glory does not consist in bringing back presents, but prisoners; and, consequently, I cannot touch your axes or your kettles. If you are so anxious to have our prisoners, take them; I have still enough courage to go and find others. If the enemy kill me, it will be said throughout the country that, because Onontio kept our prisoners, we exposed ourselves to death in order to capture others.” [181] This man having exhausted his vehemence, another Captain — a Christian, named Charles — spoke much more modestly. “Be not angry, Onontio,” he said to Monsieur the Governor. “It is not through disobedience that we act thus, but because we fear to lose both honor and life. Thou seest here but young men; the elders in our country govern its affairs. If we were to return to our country with the presents, we would be taken for grasping traders, and not for warriors. We have given our word to the Captains of the Hurons that, if we succeeded in capturing any prisoners, we would deliver them into their hands. Just as those soldiers around thee obey thee, so must we perform our duty toward those who are over us. How could we endure the blame of a whole country when, knowing that we have taken prisoners, they would see only axes and kettles? The presents that thou givest us are much more than is necessary for restoring those men to freedom, and thy desire alone [18z] would suffice to obtain them for thee, if the fear of being considered cowards, and heedless persons who do not obey those who command them, did not induce us to take them back to our country, You [Page 65] will tell me that the Algonquins have given up their prisoner, and that we can give up ours. I reply that the chief Algonquin Captains are here, — that those who govern their affairs are present, and are dependent on no one; and that thus their action cannot be disapproved. But ours will be condemned, and we shall be looked upon as persons without sense for having decided a matter of such consequence without consulting the elders of the country. You prove by your arguments that peace is desirable, — that it is in the interest of the country that the river be free. We are of the same opinion; that is why we have done no harm to our prisoners. We treat them kindly, because we hope to have them for friends. We trust that our Captains will not thwart the wishes of Onontio. They will concede something to our desires; [183] when we tell them that we wish for peace, they will not make us blush. But if we were to settle this matter without bringing the prisoners before them, they would cover our faces with shame. Not only is our honor at stake, but our lives also. It is rumored that the river is full of enemies. If we meet any party stronger than ours, we will at once make our prisoners rise and declare aloud the good treatment that they have received from Onontio, the considerable presents that he has offered for their deliverance, and the good will that we have for them. They will testify that we have done them no harm, — that we are taking them to our own country, to negotiate a peace; and thus will our captives save our lives in the event of such an unfortunate encounter.”

This harangue, delivered in a pleasing and serious manner, supported by all these arguments, and by [Page 67] many others that have escaped my memory, induced Monsieur the Governor to reply that he required the prisoners only for the purpose of negotiating peace; and that if the [184] Hurons wished to negotiate it, he was satisfied; but that they must not break faith in matters so important.

After these speeches, the two other prisoners were brought in; they were shown the presents that were offered for their deliverance; they were told of the great kindness of the French, and that Onontio treated them in a fashion very different from that in which they had treated his people whom they had captured. They admitted the truth of this. One of them arose in the middle of the assembly, and, advancing one or two steps with his fettered limbs, he looked at the Sun, and lowering his eyes upon those who were present, with a look full of assurance, he addressed Monsieur the Governor, exclaiming: “That Sun, Onontio, shall bear testimony to thy kindness on our behalf, and show everywhere thy liberality.” Then, turning in the direction of his country, he said: “Listen, ye who command in the land of the Iroquois; ye Captains of my beloved country, lend me ear. Hereafter, be kind and courteous, and endeavor to acknowledge [185] by your actions what the French have offered for my deliverance; and, even if I should die, be not ungrateful.” “No, no,” replied a Huron Captain, “thou shalt not die. As we do not intend to take thy life, thou must not despair of shortly enjoying thy liberty. Thou shalt reach the country of the Hurons safe and sound; and thou shalt leave it without suffering any harm. We hope to bring thee back here with thy companion, so as to level the soil and make the whole [Page 69] of the great River smooth. Take courage, both of you; and do not forget what the French have done for you.”

The result of these Councils or meetings was, that it was considered that, if the Hurons undertook to negotiate peace, they would do it much more effectively than the French, as they have a better knowledge than we of savage usages. The only thing to be feared is the vengeance and fury of some individual; for a mere fancy will suffice to cause a blow from a hatchet to be struck at these prisoners, and then all hopes of peace will fall to the ground. May God [186] be pleased to direct this matter for his greater glory.

At last, when the Hurons were almost ready to return to their country, as Monsieur the Governor saw that the Iroquois took or massacred nearly all who came down to the French, he gave them more than a score of brave Soldiers from among those whom the Queen has sent over this year to this country. These went with them to winter in their villages, and to serve as an escort to them the following year when they should come down to Kebec. Would you believe that some of these Soldiers, who had formerly been rather bad fellows, told us that it was not lucre nor the hope of any reward that induced them to undertake a journey on which they will encounter great hardships in the difficulties of the road? But they protested that the desire of plying their trade for the good of the Faith, and of giving their lives for so great an object, led them to confide themselves to those barbarians. It is true that Reverend Father Jean de Brébeuf went up with them. He understands [187] the Huron language, and will [Page 71] be of great assistance to them, — as also will Father Leonard Garreau and Father Noel Chabanel, who are going to that quarter to aid in the conversion of the Algonquins who dwell next to the Hurons, and urgently ask to be taught. But we cannot satisfy all these poor peoples. The Iroquois, and the heavy expenses that have to be incurred in so distant a country, are great obstacles to the salvation of these abandoned souls. [Page 73]



OF ALL the tribes among whom we sow the seed here, we know of none with better inclination and disposition for the Faith than that of the Atikamegues. Although the least instructed, they are, nevertheless, the tribe who give us the strongest evidence of truly Christian goodness. The small number of Evangelistic laborers that we have here, (I 881 and the great number of Residences and Missions that occupy our attention, have not allowed of our going to see them in their own country; and, during the two years since they left Sillery, they have made their appearance at the Three Rivers only in passing, Nevertheless, in spite of this lack of instruction and spiritual assistance, they have preserved the Faith and the fervor of their piety; for the holy Ghost has supplied our place, and has served as their Master, as may easily be seen from their good sentiments and actions, in which they have persevered since their departure from Sillery. Here are some particulars of these.

Not one of them has forgotten the prayers that had been taught to them; and even those who did not know these have learned them. They have observed the Sundays as religiously as if they had been with the French. Every Saturday night, orders were given to solemnize that holy day with all possible respect. One of the principal Christians would [Page 75] announce aloud through the cabins that each one should secure his little supply of wood, and prepare everything that he would need on the following day, that the might not be [189] obliged to violate it by any forbidden labor. On Sunday morning, they met all together in a cabin, and hung to a pole, planted in the middle of it, an embossed Crucifix, which all venerated on bended knees, and with clasped hands, — with as much respect as if they were before the Altar on which the blessed Sacrament is kept. There they repeated devoutly a11 the prayers that they knew, after which they recited together, aloud, the whole of the rosary; and each one withdrew to his own home. If any one of them had nothing to eat, he would rather fast the whole day than go out to fish or to hunt, although they had been taught that God did not exact such strictness. A good Woman, who could not ascertain which of two days was Sunday, would so as not to make a mistake, not work at all during those two days; and for an innocent error she imposed this penance on herself, to recite her rosary twice on each of those two days and to spend both without eating.

Another savage also gave sufficient [190] evidence of the esteem that he had for holy Sunday, and of his desire to honor it. While he was running a rapid with his family, he was carried away by the violence of the current, and had much difficulty in saving himself with his children; his small effects, and consequently all that he possessed, were swallowed up by the waters. That was not what he regretted most; the loss of his paper that served him as a Calendar, and enabled him to distinguish all the Festival days, affected him more than that of [Page 77] the other things. “But it is gone, it is lost; what shall we do?” he said to his wife, who was not yet a Christian; “let us have confidence in God; let us take some Beavers by hunting, and then we shall go down to the Three Rivers. The Father who is there will give us another Massinahigan; and I shall also be very glad to make confession at the same time.” Indeed, he came; and, meeting Father Buteux on the bank of their river, he said to him: “I come from a great distance to ask thee for another Massinahigan; that which thou gavest me was lost when I was wrecked.” He was given another; made his confession, and went away satisfied.

[191] A Christian woman of the same tribe was asked how she managed in the woods to supply the place of the Mass that she did not hear. “I imagine myself,” she said, “to be sometimes in the Church of Sillery, sometimes in that of the hospital, sometimes in that of the Ursulines, and again in that of Quebec, with the French; and with that thought I repeat my rosary, — saying to God that, if I were present in any of those places, I would attend Mass in fact, as I assist in desire. He knows very well that I deprive myself of that consolation through love for him and for my countrymen, whom I could never teach as I do if I did not follow them in the woods; and thus I pray him to aid me as effectively as he would do were I to be present at Mass in one of those Churches, where I am present in wish and in thought.”

Another, who had a violent attack of sore throat which prevented her from uttering a word, said to God in the depths of her heart: “Thou who knowest all things, thou seest well what my thoughts are [Page 79] If I wish to recover [192] my health and my speech, it is not for my own pleasure, but in order to be able to answer at prayers with the others, and above all to be able to teach what I know to the others who know it not. That is why I ask thee to cure me. However, thou wilt do as thou choosest.” All this convinces us that Faith has penetrated far into these souls, since zeal for God’s glory and respect for holy things are so deeply engraved in them. Here is another proof of this.

These good savages left Sillery in the middle of the winter, to hunt in the woods, all the time approaching the mouth of their river. When they arrived there, they found themselves intermingled with many others who were not yet Christians, some of whom had never even heard the Faith mentioned. The number of the ungodly was much greater than that of the faithful, and it would seem that the former should have had more power and authority. However, the latter so prevailed that the ungodly allowed themselves to be persuaded (1931 by the discourses and examples of the faithful to give up their drums, their sorceries, and their eat-all feasts, and to come down to the Three Rivers to be instructed. They came down, therefore, to the number of thirty-five canoes well filled. The first thing that the Christians did was to enter our Chapel and bring thither the others, after which they asked to hold a Council with Monsieur des Rochers, who was then in command of the fort of the Three Rivers, and with Father Buteux, to whom the Captain spoke as follows: ‘I Listen to my words, thou who knowest well the Massinahigan. Here, look at what thou seest before thee; these are the letters that I send to the Captain [Page 81] of the French who is at Quebec. My young men will carry them; but thou who hast more wit than they, — write to him what I shall tell thee.

“Last year he made us a fine present, to give us sense; we have received a little of it. We wish to acknowledge his present by embracing the Faith; and we will prove to him that what we say is true, by this letter which [194] thou wilt send him” (it was a package of Beaver skins). He continued: “We were given the pleasure of being taught and baptized last winter. We return thanks for this, first; and we ask the continuation of that favor by this other letter” (this was another package of sixty-four Beaver skins). “You have pity on us,” he added. “The enemies troubled our river by their incursions; you close it by means of the forts that you erect against the Iroquois. Here is something with which to strengthen those forts.” As he said this, he threw down another package of Beaver skins. “Nothing further remains,” he said, “but to live as brothers, and not to quarrel, since we all pray. But, inasmuch as that is difficult when trade is being carried on, here are furs to soothe the minds,” and he threw down a fourth package of Beaver skins.

We replied to all these presents, and gave him to understand that we did not teach them in the hope of any reward, — that, on the contrary, we wished to assist them corporally as well as spiritually. “I know that very well,” he said, “but this is only to show you that [195]] we do not lie, when we tell you that we ardently desire to embrace the Faith. I speak in the name of all here, who are of the same opinion as myself.”

If the words of this Captain promise much, his [Page 85] actions do not belie them. He had been very badly treated by a French soldier, who had pushed him, thrown him down, and dragged him along the ground. Such an insult to a savage of high rank among his people, in whose presence this occurred, must beyond doubt have been deeply felt, according to nature; and had not the Faith penetrated very far into his heart, he, being unable to revenge himself upon his adversary, would have blamed religion for it, as others have done on similar occasions who have abandoned it out of spite, at least for a time. But his love for prayer, and the esteem that he had for it, led him to bear this insult bravely, and to win a glorious victory over himself. He addressed himself to Father Buteux, and asked him if he knew what had happened to him. “Yes,” replied the Father, “I do know.” ‘I It is true,” he said, [196] “that an injury has been done to me; but the Faith that I have in my heart, and that I desire to preserve, prevents me from feeling any resentment. I willingly pardon that soldier; he has no sense. For that reason, I must not be like him, nor must I abandon prayer, nor think that all the French are worthless because one of them is not good. My heart is at peace. Rest assured that I harbor no evil thoughts. Were I to follow my natural feeling, I would do a wicked deed; but I do not wish to offend God.” Those who know the temper of the savages, and how natural revenge is to them, will admire this action, and admit that the grace of God works wonderful changes in their hearts.

The wife of this same Captain greatly edified us. She was attacked by a dangerous illness. When she found herself in that condition in the woods, she [Page 85] begged her husband to carry her to the Three Rivers. As ~00x1 as she arrived there, she sent for Father Buteux to whom she said: “Thou seest to what a condition illness has reduced me; it has deprived me of everything (1971 but speech, which I use not for the purpose of asking thee for anything, but only to confess me. It was for that object that I desired to be brought here. Ever since my Baptism I have had but little health; still, for all that, I have never thought that my illness was caused by prayer, as some say who have no sense. I believe firmly, and the pain that I suffer will never make me abandon the Faith. I shall be ill so long as God pleases. If thou knowest that my death is drawing near, do not hide the truth; I do not fear death, but I would like to know if it be near, so that I may learn what I should do, to die a good death.” The chief complaint that she made while she was at the three Rivers was, that we did not visit her often enough to instruct her and prepare her for death. She came every day to Mass, although with great difficulty; at times, she would drag herself on the ground; at others, she would lean upon a stick, or have herself carried by her daughter. She had to be absolutely forbidden [ 1985 to take that trouble, at least on working days. Our Lord has been pleased to prolong her Life for the example of the others, and in order that she might have more merit. And she is of great use to the members of her tribe, for she takes most special pains to make them pray to God, wherever she is. Her adieu to Father Buteux at her departure was very pathetic. “Farewell,” she said; “I am going to die in the woods. I shall never see thee again except in Heaven. I commend to thee [Page 87] those who belong to my tribe. Wilt thou never come to our country to teach them? What have we done to thee, that thou shouldst abandon us? We have been inviting thee for so long a time. All our people wish to believe; it depends only on thee that they be all baptized. Take courage, come to us as soon as possible; have pity on so many souls that are going to destruction. Pray to God for me. I have but one request to make thee; that is to let my daughter receive communion. It seems to me that I could leave this spot and this world with greater content, if I saw her receive that Sacrament. She is no [199] longer flighty, as she was before her Baptism. Fear not. She is quite different.” Indeed, what she said was true. That girl before her Baptism was very fickle and giddy; while now her modesty is admirable, and has made her worthy of that Sacrament which is the bread of the great and the wine that brings forth Virgins.

In that family there remained to be baptized only a young man twenty years of age. We did not venture to administer that Sacrament because we apprehended — what is to be feared in the case of all the other young men — that he might marry contrary to the laws of the Church. But, in the end, his importunity obtained for him what he demanded. Father Buteux was very busy at the time, and also pretended to be still more so. He frequently turned him away on purpose, to try him. That did not repel him; he came back five or six times a day to be instructed, and was not uneasy if he was kept waiting; he occupied the time in reciting his rosary, and in repeating to himself what had been taught him. He always persisted in asking for the same thing: [200] [Page 89] “When shall I be baptized? I will not leave here nor shall my uncle” (this was the Captain of the tribe), “until I am baptized.” He was baptized, and the zeal that he displayed last winter in teaching his countrymen has shown that it was the spirit of God that impelled him to ask so urgently for Baptism. He became a Catechist among his tribe, and his zeal and ability supplied what was wanting in years for the performance of the duties of that office.

The chief persons of the tribe followed the impulse given by their Captain and his family. They noticed that some wanton youths from another tribe came into their cabins at night. They begged Father Buteux to prevent such disorderly conduct. “Tell them from us,” they said, “that we do not pray by halves, or as a pretense; and, consequently, that we cannot endure the liberties taken by their young men. If they wish to do evil, let them do it among those of their own tribe, and not here among us, where we have the right to prevent such dissolute behavior. God and the Devil do not agree [201] together in the same cabin. Arrange that their Captains give public notice, so as to stop the disorderly conduct of their young men.”

They are not content with preventing evil when the opportunity presents itself; they also do good to other tribes, either by themselves teaching and exhorting them, or by bringing them to be instructed. Some of the tribe of the Ouramanichek having come down here to trade, the chief men of the Atikamegues brought them at once to us. “Listen,” they said, “to what you shall be told, and know that it is the most important of all the things that concern you. It is what we esteem, and what you must [Page 91] esteem, above all. Be not surprised if you do not at first understand what shall be said to you; the same thing will be often repeated to you, and finally you will have sense, if you wish.” I think that they will carry the news of the Faith further toward the North, to several other tribes who are not yet known to us, [202] and with whom they trade.

God’s goodness is admirable in the changes that it effects daily in the hearts of these people. A savage had formerly never allowed one of his children to be baptized, fearing that Baptism would cause his death. When he came to the Three Rivers, some time afterward, he strongly urged Father Buteux for several days to baptize three of his children. A woman likewise, who had formerly repelled the same Father, and had prevented him from baptizing one of her children that died in the woods without baptism, afterward came of her own accord to be baptized, with four others of her children. Hœc mutatio dexteræ Excelsi.

Paul Ouetamourat feared that he and his people might revert to their superstitions which they had abandoned at Sillery. He ordered that they should not call it a feast when they invited one another, and that they should not eat together; but that, when each one had received his portion on his plate, he should withdraw [203] to his own house. “It is to be feared,” they said, “that the Devil might deceive us, and friendly feasts might gradually lead us back to superstitious feasts.” The good man found a young boy, one of his relatives, who was sick. He took him up, and carried him through rapids and by frightful precipices as far as the Three Rivers, where he placed him in the hands of Father Buteux in order [Page 93] to receive baptism from him, for which he himself had already very well prepared him. He frequently spoke, and by his own example incited the other old men to speak boldly in favor of the Faith, although he was, as yet, but a Catechumen. Still, he so ardently desired to be baptized that, when Father Buteux entered his cabin one day, he found him very sad and sorrowful, and asked him the reason of it. “Have I not cause to be sorrowful?” he said; “thou hadst promised me to teach me often, and thou hast not said a word to me today. Do I know what may happen to me? Perhaps the Iroquois are near. I am in danger of dying without baptism, or of receiving it with very little [204] knowledge and profit, if thou dost not hasten to teach me.” It was necessary to give him that consolation, and to baptize him with his two daughters, — the elder of whom has naturally a great inclination for devotion, which she has communicated to her husband, making him as fond of prayer as he was formerly opposed and hostile to it. She made use of a holy deception to hasten her baptism. She persuaded the Father that she would go to the woods, before long. “Thou seest very well,” she said, “that I am preparing to start at any day; I have begun to fold up my bark. I shall die without baptism, and thou wilt be sorry for it, as well as I.” “Wait,” Father Buteux said to her; “thou art in no greater haste than thy Father.” “I know the prayers better than he does,” she replied; ‘I why should I wait for him?”

If we had granted Baptism to all who asked for it, they would nearly all be baptized. Nevertheless, we could not refuse it to a good woman, who really [Page 95] seems another Ste. Monica, — having as much zeal for the baptism of her son as that saint had for St. Augustine’s conversion. [205] She succeeded in this, and was baptized with her son, to whom during the ceremony she frequently repeated: “Have courage, my son, do well; say in thy heart: ‘I renounce all my wickedness. I do not wish to go into the flames; I wish to be blessed, and a friend of God.’” At the same time, three young boys were baptized, the last of whom was a little orphan, the youngest of all but not the least, fervent. “How!” said he, “why should I not be baptized? I know the prayers; I am with my elder brother, where they pray to God. I have come down here solely to be baptized. What is to prevent me?” He pleaded his cause so effectually that he won it.

Here are two or three proofs of the efficacy of the baptism of some adults. “Before my baptism,” said a woman, “I was addicted to saying evil words. During the past four or five months, since I have been baptized, I do not remember having said more than one, and then it was through surprise and without intention.” This same woman was speaking one day to another about the [206] cruelty of the Iroquois, and the danger of falling into their hands. “Whatever God pleases will happen,” she said. “Before my baptism, I was never without fear: now my heart feels secure. No matter if I be taken, burned, and eaten; when that is over, I shall afterward enjoy a life that will never end.”

Another asked Father Buteux for some remedy for a flux that troubled her greatly. She was asked whether she would be sorry to die then. ‘6 Yes,” she said, “not because I fear death, but because 1 [Page 97] have served God so badly until now.” This was an act of humility on the part of that woman, for she is an excellent Christian. Another, who was asked whether she loved God and prayer more than life, replied that she did. “For,” said she, “if any one should wish to kill me, or make me abandon prayer, I would say: ‘Kill me; it will be better for me, — 1 shall go to Heaven.’”

It happened on three or four different occasions, while the Father was instructing the savages in our Chapel, that [207] an alarm was given, as if the Iroquois had made their appearance. The Father went out to see what it was, and his hearers remained, attentively repeating what they had just been taught, without even looking out, and quietly awaited the return of their Master.

They have such an abhorrence for their former sorceries that, when a Christian who was sick began to sing in his dreams during the night, the others who heard him awoke him at once, telling him that he did wrong to obey the Devil.

A young man beat his wife, on account of some act of disobedience and made blood flow from her nose; Father Buteux was told of it, and sent for him. He replied that he must wait until he had atoned for his fault, which he would do on the following morning, as soon as daylight should appear, for it was then too late to do so. Indeed, he went to confession very early in the morning on the following day, and offered to submit to a public penance, and to be publicly whipped or beaten with a stick by the hands of the French, whom he had scandalized by that deed. He escaped more easily than that, and [208] became reconciled with his wife in a Christianlike [Page 99] manner. These are a small portion of the good sentiments and good actions of the Atikamegues, which are common to many Christians of that tribe. Since the events of which we have just written, they have passed nearly a whole year without receiving instruction, — except on one or two occasions, to a slight extent and in passing, for our Fathers were occupied elsewhere. Nevertheless, they have persevered in their fervor as Father Brébeuf, who saw them last Spring at the Three Rivers, writes us: “The Atikamegues,” he says, “came down here to the number of nine canoes on the vigil of Pentecost. They knew that the next day was a Sunday that is observed in an extraordinary manner. As soon as they landed, they asked to be allowed to pray to God in our Chapel, and to confess themselves. The Captain even asked to be permitted to receive communion, saying that he had prepared himself for it during the whole winter. A young man went to confession three separate times, fearing always that he had forgotten something. Those who are not yet baptized ask [209] most urgently for Baptism. They promise to come back here at the end of September, and are anxious to meet a Father to instruct them.” This is sufficient to prove what I said at the beginning of this Chapter, — that this tribe has a great inclination and disposition toward the Faith. [Page 101]




ATHER Buteux succeeded last Summer to Father Dequen in the care of this Mission. Father Dequen has had charge of it this year. Here are Father Buteux’s notes, which could not be written in the last Relation, because they came too late, but which must not be omitted from this one.

When he reached Tadoussac he found a good many savages, both Christians and Pagans. The former were there awaiting the arrival of one of our Fathers, to enjoy the blessing of holy Mass and of the Sacraments. The [21o] majority of the latter wished to behold the Fathers, whom they had not yet seen, and of whom they had heard so much. The Christians and Catechumens continued their pious practices, such as praying to God night and morning, reciting the Rosary, singing Hymns, meeting three times in the Chapel on Sundays and Festival days, and other like spiritual exercises which maintain them in the feeling of devotion. Such are the respect, obedience, fervor, and assiduity with which they acquit themselves of these holy exercises, that the French who have seen them, and even the Heretics, have admired them, and have asserted that what they had seen with their own eyes would not be believed in France. Among others, a ship Captain — who is of the pretended Religion, and who entered the Chapel through curiosity to see the savages at [Page ] prayer — was so astonished when he saw them kneel and make the sign of the Cross, that he himself knelt and made the sign of the Cross with them. Let us enter into further particulars.

We had often desired that those [211] who have any special authority among the savages and whose age or valor gives them some importance, should embrace the Faith, and boldly profess it, in order better to lead thereto the young people, who generally follow the opinions of those who command them. Our Lord has granted our desires everywhere, and now enables us to see with pleasure Barbarian Captains, whose authority has hitherto been only in favor of vice and cruelty, become Apostles and Preachers, most zealous for the glory of God, whom they are only beginning to know. Here is an example:

Father Buteux preached a sermon to the savages, to teach them what God required of them; and he laid particular stress upon the fact that God desires that the Captains, who hold his place, should have his honor in high esteem and prevent the evil that affronts him. A Captain arose and said: “Wait, Father Buteux, do not go out; I wish to speak; and you, young men, listen to me. This is the resolution that [2 121 I took at my baptism, and that I now renew: ‘I intend, as long as I live, to love him who has made all; I intend to abstain from everything that he forbids, and I desire that all who acknowledge me as Captain should abstain from such things.’ Listen, thyself, Father Buteux, to what our young men say, and observe what they do. If any of them should dishonor prayer by any evil word or action, order thyself his chastisement, and I will make the guilty one suffer it. They will accept it willingly, [Page 105] if I command it; and if the fault require that another should interfere, even if it come to hanging them, as is done in France, I will do it myself if no one else will. Whatever sin my people may commit against God, I will punish them as the Captain of the French would punish his people. Listen, my nephews; listen, my brothers, — both young and old; I say it, I will do it; and nothing shall prevent me, not even the fear of death. I shall have to die sooner or later. If I die in that [z 131 fashion, I shall not die in another; and how could I die a more glorious death than in defending the honor of our great Captain? I will never say, as some drunkards do, that prayer causes death; indeed, I am willing to die in the defense of prayer. That is what I say, and what I think; think of it, on your part. From the sermon that the Father has just preached to us, I have taken what he has said for me, and I have replied to it. See what you have to do with reference to what he and I have just said for you.”

This harangue — delivered in an extraordinarily powerful voice, and assisted by the grace of the Holy Ghost, who had inspired it — produced a wonderful impression on the hearts of those who heard it, judging from the astonishment that showed itself on their faces. A Frenchman who was present, and who understood nothing of what was said, was nevertheless as attentive as any other, and was delighted with the zeal of the Preacher and the attention paid by his hearers. Certainly, those who know the freedom of the savages, and the difficulty that they [2 141 have in submitting to any kind of constraint, will be astonished at that man’s boldness, and at the silence of the others; but not they who know the saying of the [Page 107] Apostle, ubi spiritus Domini, ibi libertas, and that there is no sweeter, no gentler, no stronger influence over the heart than that of grace.

A woman, who was dangerously ill, asked when her confession could be heard. The Father fixed the day, and promised to go and confess her in her cabin; but she did not wait for him, and as she could * not walk, she crawled on her belly as far as the Chapel. When the Father saw her arrive, all out of breath, he asked her why she had come. “I respect Confession,” she replied; “my cabin is not a fit’ place for the holiness of that mystery. I shall feel more devotion here.” “But,” replied the Father, “thou endangerest thy life.” “Well,” she said, ‘I it is better that I should die. Baptism has removed all fear of death from my mind because thou teachest that there is another life, whence all sufferings are banished, and wherein we enjoy [215] pleasures of all kinds. I would have no sense were I to fear death.”

The sister of that good woman had a little daughter, who was seriously ill. The Father asked her: “What thinkest thou, when thou seest thy daughter dying?” “What can I think,” she said, “except that she belongs to God, and that he will dispose of her as he wills? ‘She is thy daughter,’ I say to him; ‘she belongs to thee more than to me. I offer her to thee willingly. I do not ask that she live, or that she die; but that thou mayst do as thou wilt. If she live, it is well; she will grow up and will have sense. I shall teach her; she will believe in thee and love thee. If she die, it is well; she is baptized; she is still innocent; she will see thee in Heaven, and will be happy.’” This was certainly enough [Page 109] for a poor woman who had been baptized eve days before. But the Holy Ghost is a great Master; and he seems to take a special pleasure in communicating himself to these good souls, in which he finds the simplicity that he loves so well, and which is an excellent preparation for his enlightening influences. “Be of good will,” [z 161 said this same woman to a companion, “and God will help thee. On the day that I was baptized, I did not know my Credo; I had not been able to learn it. I prayed to God, and, when I awoke on the following day, I said it all alone.” He who instructs her inwardly also gives her strength to bear adversity, and as much courage as she needs to endure extreme poverty, and the loss of her husband and of her three little children, that she has recently experienced.

Another, on seeing the Father’s Breviary one day, said to him: “Guess my thoughts. I am inclined to steal it; I would like to know what thou knowest and all that is in thy book. If I could steal all that from thee, I would not cease to pray to God.” “But,” said the Father, “dost thou not know thy rosary well 7” “Yes, indeed,” she said, “I do know it well.” “Dost thou not say it?” “I say it three times a day, — in the morning, during Mass; in the afternoon; and at night, when I am about to lie down to sleep.” “That is enough,” the Father said to her; “continue to do so.” “I will; but if, in addition to that, I knew something else, [217] Oh, how pleased I would be! Therefore, do not weary of teaching me.”

Here is another, who is no less fervent. She has an admirable zeal concerning the respect that should be paid to holy things, and cannot endure that any [Page 111] one should speak a word during prayers, or manifest the slightest irreverence. When the Father heard confessions, she stood at the door of the Chapel, and said to those who entered it for the purpose of confessing themselves: “Listen, hide nothing; tell everything, and be very sorry for having offended God, This is how thou must tell thy sins, and this is the position in which thou must place thyself.” After their confession, she made them kneel down, and listened to what they said, to see whether they knew their prayers; and, if they did not know these, she said them with such persons, to teach them. One day, the Father complained that he had nothing in which to put holy water for the Chapel. The good woman went immediately after Mass, and made a little basin of bark, which she hung from a nail at the entrance of the Chapel. I believe that God was as pleased with her present as [218] with the gifts of Princes, for her willingness compensated for the slight value of the material.

Her daughter was obliged to go to the Sagné, at the solicitation of her husband’s relatives. They did not part without weeping; and the cause of their tears was that the daughter would be deprived of instruction, of the sacraments, and of the consolation of assisting at the prayers in common. Her mother supplied her with all the small articles for devotion — a paper, showing the festivals and days of abstinence from meat, and two rosaries, so that if she lost one she might use the other; and, after having recommended her to love prayer, she bade her adieu.

The holy Ghost leads men by various ways. A Christian savage dreaded the company of certain Infidels who might perhaps have given him occasion [Page 113] to offend God; he went alone, with his wife, to hunt during the whole winter in the woods. Another, on the contrary, from a spirit of charity joined a mixed company of Christians and Infidels, in order to advance the glory [a193 of God, working for the conversion of the wicked, and maintaining the good in their duty. “I am come to bid thee adieu,” he said to Father Buteux, “until Spring, and to commend myself to thy prayers. I see well the danger to which I am exposed by separating myself from thee. It seems to me, when I am far from you all, that I am like a very feeble child who is not supported by any one. Nevertheless, I am resolved to follow our people to endeavor to keep them in their duty, and to induce those who are not yet baptized to make themselves worthy of Baptism. For that purpose, I ask thee first of all for a Crucifix, before which we may say our prayers; tapers, to burn in honor of the Crucifix; a paper, on which thou shalt mark the days when we must abstain from meat, the Sundays, and the festivals, — and especially Christmas eve, so that we may pass it in prayer; a rosary, for although I have one I may lose it in the woods, or some one else may lose his. If thou knowest of anything else that may be needed, give it [220] to me and teach me what I should do.” The good young man said this almost with tears in his eyes, and with an exceedingly great devotion. Here is another rather remarkable trait of this same young man. When the ships arrived at Tadoussac, Father Buteux addressed him, desiring to send him to Quebec with the news. He informed him of the offers that were made to the person who would undertake the journey, and told him that he would be much pleased if [Page 115] it fell to his lot, for he was rather poorly clad. On hearing this, he hesitated a little and, looking at the Father, he said: “I will do all that thou wishest. But what thinkest thou on seeing me thus meanly clad? Thou imaginest, perhaps, that it is through necessity, or through lack of skill in catching Beavers. Thou art mistaken; I have not yet said a word of my purpose to any one but thee. Know that I am well pleased to be ill clad, so as to have no cause for vainglory, and so as to be despised, and to imitate Jesus Christ, who was so poor. But I am surprised that thou who teachest us that we should [22 I] love poverty, shouldst nevertheless speak to me of having a good robe and of getting one for me, as if it were better to be well than to be badly clad. If, therefore, I obey thee, it is because God commands me to do so, and not for any other consideration.”

He imagined that the tonsure that we have on our heads had a great influence in making the others pray to God and was necessary for those who undertake to teach. He had his head shaved like ours, and, taking a whip of rope, he went through the cabins calling the others to prayers, and striking those who did not promptly obey. “I am doing the Fathers’ office,” he cried; “hasten; it is time to pray to God.” It was this, in fact, that our Fathers did, to summon the savages to prayers, but they did not strike them. Nor was this necessary, for hardly did they hear the Father’s voice calling them than they answered at once “Ho!” and the Captain, issuing from his cabin, repeated the call and made himself promptly obeyed.

[222] Although the Captains of the savages are very poorly obeyed by their people, because they use [Page 117] no violence, this one nevertheless has acquired such authority, since his Baptism, that no one dares to refuse obedience to him. One day, a young man did not execute with sufficient promptness what he had commanded. “Ha!” he said to him, “thou prayest, and thou obeyest not. Come here, that I may give thee three blows on the back with a stick.” The other drew near, received them quietly, and went to do what he was ordered.

The Father wished to have the bricks carried up that had been brought for building the house at Tadoussac. The Captain ordered all his people to work. Some of them overloaded themselves, and the Father tried to warn them and to moderate their eagerness. “Let us do it,” they said, “we are putting into practice what thou toldst us yesterday, when thou didst exhort us to practice mortifications for our brothers who are not baptized, in imitation of the example of the French who perform so many for us.” This shows that the souls [223] of the savages are as capable of perfection as those of Europeans. Here is another proof of this:

Father Buteux had preached a short sermon on the purity of intention that should guide all our actions. One day, he listened to some women who were conversing on this subject. “Dost thou remember well,” said one, “what was said to us yesterday?” “Yes,” replied the other; “but, nevertheless, I drank once without making the sign of the Cross, and without offering that action to God.” “And I,” said another, “had gone halfway to get some wood, without having yet thought of God." “I did not fail to do that,” said the one who questioned her: “but I did not thank God when I came [Page 119] back from the woods, and today I played for a short time without offering that action to God.”

With these good Christians there were others, who had never seen any of our Fathers; and when they heard the Father who instructed them speak of matters pertaining to the Faith, they exclaimed: “Oh, how admirable is what you tell us! but of what are we thinking? We have lived for so long, [224} and have never yet known him who made us.” “That is not all,” said the Father; “you must give up your drums, your stones, and your sorceries.” “For my part,” said a good old woman, “I have no drum nor stone; I have nothing but a dried embryo of a Deer. The manitou gave it to me last winter, during a severe illness, of which he cured me.” “That is not the good manitou,” said the Father. “If thou wouldst be baptized, thou must burn that embryo, and acknowledge another preserver of thy life, who is the God whom we preach and who will burn thee in eternal fire, if thou do not believe in him.” “Well, then,” she said, “there it is. Burn it thyself, and baptize me.” She was baptized, with seven or eight others of her cabin.

Not all the others submit so easily. There are some whom God drives into his Church by dint of blows. For instance, there was a young boy, the only one out of a large family, who was not baptized. It is true that he asked for Baptism, but his actions belied his words. In the spring he went to Miskou, where [225] intoxicating liquor is allowed, to the great detriment of the Faith. He becomes intoxicated, with some others. One of the band becomes furious, — he behaves like an unchained Demon, threatens to kill every one, strikes all whom he [Page 121] meets, and overthrows the cabins. NO one answers him. He takes an arquebus, raises it, and fires three or four shots into the face of the boy of whom I speak, — knocking out four or five teeth, breaking his jaw on one side, splitting his lip, and covering his face with blood and wounds. They think that it is all over with him; and the worst of it is that he does not know of his misfortune, because he is intoxicated. Finally, he recovered his senses, and so well were his wounds dressed that he was cured of them; but he remained so disfigured that none of those who knew him could recognize him, even by his voice. That was an effect of drunkenness that was, nevertheless, fortunate in his case, and perhaps a result of his predestination. For, acknowledging the hidden hand that had struck him, he commenced to fear it, and made himself fit to receive Baptism, which Monsieur de Courpon the Admiral of [226] the fleet, honored as he had done several others, by having some rounds fired from the cannon.

Divine protection is manifested in the case of our Neophytes, as well as justice. A young woman who was baptized one day, went on the following one, with another, and a little child in swaddling clothes, to gather some of the fruits of the country. On her return, the canoe upset. What was she to do? To let her child perish would have been a greater affection than to lose her own life. To try and save it would cause the death of both mother and child. She recommended herself to God, and swam with one hand, pushing with the other the board on which the child was bound, according to their fashion;[5] but, unfortunately, he had turned over on his face, and was immersed in the water, God had pity on both [Page 123] of them. Some Frenchmen, who were not far distant, hastened to help them, and rescued the little Moses. The mother carried him at once to the Church, and thanked him to whom she and her son were indebted for their lives.

I shall conclude this Chapter with the reasoning of a savage which will perhaps undeceive some persons in France [227] who seek to make our savages pass for men who have nothing human about them except their faces. Others, who think a little more highly of them, compare them to certain good peasants, who remain mute when one speaks to them of anything besides their oxen and plows. We have reported in this Relation, and in the preceding ones, several of their speeches and harangues, which prove the contrary. I shall confirm this now by a short philosophical discourse, delivered by a savage not yet baptized. Father Buteux was speaking one day in a cabin on the immortality of the soul, adducing arguments of convenience, and even taking these from some of their own principles, — as, for instance, what they said formerly, that the souls of the deceased went to reside in a village toward the setting Sun, where they hunt Beavers and Elk, carry on war, and do the same things that they did in this life through the agency of the senses.[6] After this discourse, the savage, who had never heard our Fathers speak on that subject, said: “Why dost thou take [228] the trouble of proving that to us? One would be very foolish to doubt it. We see very well that our soul is different from that of a dog; the latter can perceive nothing except through the eyes and ears, and knows nothing that does not come under its senses. But the soul of a man knows many things [Page 125] that are not perceived by the senses; and so it can act without the body, and without the senses. And if it can act without the body, it can exist without the body. Therefore it is not material, and consequently it is immortal.” I do not examine the truth of all these conclusions. I merely repeat the course of his reasoning which, arising as it does from the sole force of that man’s common sense, without any study, is sufficient to lead us to believe that the savages whom we instruct are not satyrs roaming through the woods, and that the saying of the Prophet is true that God has impressed upon the most barbarous souls a quality of reason, which is a ray emanating from the light of his countenance. Such are the most remarkable events that occurred last year in that Mission. [229] Let us now see what fruits we have gathered there this year. [Page 127]





E cultivate this poor little vine during the summer in order that it may bear fruit during the winter. That is to say that a Father of our Society goes to that quarter as soon as the tribes are gathered there, for the purpose of instructing them until they start on their great hunting and fishing expeditions for Beaver, Elk, and the other animals that serve as their food. In winter, they eat the meat; and in summer they sell the skins to the French who come to these countries to trade.

As soon as the course of the river was free and the ice no longer barred its passage, a party of savages from Tadoussac came to Kebec in a shallop, to ask for and [230] take back a Father with them, both to hear the confessions of the new Christians, and to instruct those who were not yet Christians, — in a word, to teach them the way to Heaven. They were given Father Jean Dequen, whom they placed in their boat, and took away with them as soon as they could, on account of the illness of a Captain who did not wish to die without baptism. This man did not properly belong to Tadoussac. Two years ago, the Christians recently regenerated in the blood of Jesus Christ had made him a present, for the purpose of [Page 129] bringing his tribe, who live further inland, to hear the Gospel. The slight knowledge that was given him of that most heavenly doctrine induced him tocome himself, sick as he was. When he saw the Father, he was filled with joy; and, although he had death between his teeth, as the saying is, he wished to be carried to the Chapel, to receive baptism with all the holy rites; and he invited all his people to be present, to give public testimony [z3 r] of the esteem that he had for the Faith and for prayer. Thus the Father commenced his Mission.

The Captain of Tadoussac was no less pleased at his coming than that good Neophyte. He showed it by an eloquent harangue, in these words: “Let us all rejoice; see, our Father has arrived, and is with us. You know how he loves us. He will not be here for a little while; we shall all enjoy his presence. Let every one attend the prayers every day, and the instruction that he will give us. Let us who are baptized confess our sins, and endeavor to walk straight. Let us not cause him any sorrow while he is with us.” All the people replied to this discourse by a general exclamation, to show that they were willing to obey the wish of their Captain, and desired to enjoy the happiness caused them by the presence of the Father.

After this general rejoicing, the savages began to give an account of all that had happened during their great winter hunt. They are in the habit of asking for a paper, or a [232] Calendar to distinguish the days that are honored — thus they call the Sundays and Festivals. They therefore said that it was their custom on those days to spread out and expose to view a fine, large picture in the best cabin; to light [Page 133] two tapers, as we do in our Chapels; to meet all together, and to sing Hymns and Canticles; to say their prayers aloud; to recite their rosary, and to listen to those who sometimes spoke to them of prayer — that is, of the doctrine of Jesus Christ. If any one committed a sin that came to the knowledge of the others, he was assured that the Father would be told of it. Consequently, they are the first to accuse themselves thereof; and, if through neglect they have failed to attend these public prayers, they make confession of it, with as much regret as good souls would do who had missed holy Mass. These good people related that they had met a band of Algonquins, some of whom had been baptized somewhat [233] hastily. The latter invited them to superstitious feasts, but these Neophytes would never attend them. They were surprised that these people, who called themselves Christians, did not kneel night and morning to pray to God; and what made them very indignant was, that in the debris of their abandoned cabins they found pictures that the former had thrown away or at least forgotten. They picked these up, and brought them very reverently to Father Dequen. One must not be too precipitate or too hasty in baptizing savages, nor trust a four days’ fervor.

After rendering an account of what had publicly occurred since they had seen a Father, it was necessary to enter into more minute details, and all prepared themselves for confession. Frenchmen could not believe with what candor, clearness, and knowledge of their sins the savages confess themselves; it is what we could hardly have hoped for. Parents bring their children to enjoy that blessing; they teach them what they should say, [234] remind them [Page 133] of their sins, and see that they perform the penances assigned them.

One day, a good woman said to her daughter, so that the Father, who was not far off, could hear: “Go and confess yourself, my daughter; tell everything; accuse yourself of being stubborn, of being too fond of play, of not being ready enough to pray to God night and morning. Go; be sorry for having offended God, and anger him no more.”

A good savage observed that his son, who was rather young, did not kneel down after his confession: he thought that he might have forgotten what had been ordained him as a penance. He went in all simplicity to ask the Father about it, so as to remind his son and make him do it. The Father admired the candor and goodness of the Neophyte, and gave the necessary instruction to his son.

A good mother, who did not see her daughter among the others who were going to confession, went to seek her and told her that she must not be deprived of that happiness. Her daughter, though married, was not ashamed [235] of being so warned by her mother. She went to the Chapel, and, although these good people are very ready to receive the Sacraments, her mother did not leave the Church until with her own eyes she had seen her daughter at the feet of the Confessor.

When the Father had heard the Confessions of all the Christians, and had administered holy Communion to all who were capable of receiving it, he vigorously applied himself to impressing the fear of God on their minds and to beget Jesus Christ in the souls of those who had not yet received him in the waters of Baptism. He baptized forty persons, during [Page 135] the short time he was at Tadoussac. The mothers themselves bring their children; and, if any savages come from some more distant place, the most devout women find out whether there are among the band any children not yet baptized, in order to inform the Father of it. Some of them cannot bear to leave a child unbaptized, so great is their fear lest it die without [236] that Sacrament. Others say, through mistaken charity, that there should be no haste, — that these children will perhaps be wicked, and that God will be angry because they have been baptized. They add that, as their parents are not Christians, they will perhaps be guilty of superstitious practices, and commit crimes that will cause the death of their children; then baptism will be blamed for it, and it will be said that Faith kills men, and that prayer is a bad thing. The Father easily pacified them by showing them the great necessity of being cleansed in that heavenly font.

All the adults who have been purified in those health — giving waters have been fully instructed. They have manifested a great desire to live conformably to the laws of Jesus Christ and of his Church. We do not grant that Sacrament of salvation and light to all those who ask for it. Three years ago, a sorcerer pressed us to baptize him. He could say all the prayers, and had a knowledge of the principal articles of our belief. He came recently to saint Joseph to form a friendship with the leading men of that Residence; but as [237] we mistrusted him on account of his rather fickle mind, and feared a relapse on his part, we have always refused him what he asked.

Tadoussac is the first port at which the ships stop [Page 137] that come from France. It is here that the savages witnessed the arrival of Father Paul le Jeune, who came back once more from France, whither the affairs of these poor peoples had taken him. God knows with what joy and with what satisfaction they received him. Those of Tadoussac went at once to visit him, on board the ship that carried him. Noel Negabamat, one of the chief Captains of the Kebec savages, who went to embrace him, made this short and truly Christian speech to him: “It is a good thing, my Father, that thou hast returned. I came down from Kebec expressly to see thee. When I learned from the first ships that arrived that thou wert coming back, I set out, so as to be the first to see thee. We have all prayed for a safe journey for thee. We said to him who has made all: ‘Preserve our Father. Open the ears of those to whom he is to speak in his own country, and direct his words so that they may go [238] straight, and that not one of them may be lost.’ He it is who has guided thee, who has brought thee back, who has calmed the sea. Oh, how happy we are to see thee appear once more in our country!” This greatly consoled the Father, whose joy was increased when, on landing, Father Dequen presented to him five savages to be made children of God. Madame de la Pelterie, who had gone to Tadoussac to witness the fervor of these Neophytes, was godmother for some of them. The two Ursulines who had recently arrived, and who landed from the ship for the first time since they had embarked at la Rochelle, were greatly edified when they saw with their own eyes what they had so long and so ardently desired.

I shall exceed the length of a Chapter if I dilate. [Page 139] upon the sweet sentiments of piety of these new plants, and upon the fervor of their devotion. It is the custom to summon them in the morning to holy Mass, and to assemble them once more before night, to make them recite some prayers and especially [239] the rosary. Father Dequen made them say it very slowly, and after each decade he made them sing a Hymn. This took some time, and, in order not to make it distasteful to them, he intended to content himself with their reciting only one half of it. But these good people noticed this, and exclaimed: “It looks as if we were only half Christians. Let us say the whole of it, my Father; let us say the whole of it. Let us not serve God only by halves.” “Yes,” said the Father, “but perhaps some of you have pressing business to attend to.” “Let those depart who are called elsewhere,” they replied. “For us, it stands to reason that we should not omit any of our prayers.” As that devotion is very agreeable to them, it communicates itself even to the youngest children, who, when they sometimes see their parents going out of their cabins without their rosaries, call out to them not to forget these if they are going to the house of prayer.

When some whom we call the savages of the Sagné — because they come to see the French by a river bearing that name — saw their countrymen pray, [240] they begged so earnestly and with such importunity to be taught to pray to him who has made all, that, on the very day of their departure, they came to the Father, and, kneeling with most delightful simplicity, they made him recite the prayers, in order the better to impress them on their memories. When they had said them two or three times, they revolved [Page 141] them in their minds while they carried their baggage to the water’s edge, at the place where they were to embark. If they forgot a word, they dropped everything, ran to the Father, and threw themselves once more on their knees asking that he would again make them recite the prayers. A Christian of Tadoussac who witnessed this fervor on their part, said to them: “Take courage, my friends. If you love prayer, he who has made all will not abandon you. Go; it is all right. Pray to him every day; above all, hold no communication with the Demons; and try to return here next spring, so that you may be properly instructed.”

While the Father was teaching another party, belonging to a small tribe that had come from far [241] inland, he showed them the picture of a damned soul. A good Neophyte who had heard him speak on the subject, and was animated with zeal for the salvation of these good people, exclaimed: “Give me, my Father, give me that picture, and let me speak.” He took it and, addressing the whole audience, said: “Look at that picture. You do not know what is depicted on it. It is a Magician, a beater of drums, such as most of you are. Do you see how he is chained? Look at the flames that surround and burn him. He is filled with rage and fury. See what you will be; see how the Demon whom you obey will treat you.” The Captain of the band was frightened by this discourse, and exclaimed aloud: “It is true that formerly I engaged in such practices, but I have cast them off. I have burned my drum and all the instruments that I used. I love prayer, and I declare to you that I wish to be instructed with my people.” [Page 143]

A good Christian woman was very far away in the woods, with a [242] son of hers, who was attacked by a disease that caused both the Mother and the child a great deal of trouble. She gave the Father great consolation, when she explained to him how the poor young man had quitted this life to go to Heaven. “I often said to my son,” related the poor Mother, “‘Have courage, my child; endure thy sufferings patiently; thou wilt soon exchange them for eternal content. Dost thou not believe in God? Dost thou not remember that thou hast been taught that there is another life, and that those who love God will be happy?’” “I remember it very well,” replied the sick youth, “but, alas! I am very sad because I cannot make my confession. Ah! how willingly would I confess myself, if there were a Father here.” “Be not afflicted, my child; God will have mercy on thee. Love him; he is all goodness; be sorry for having offended him.” “I have great hope in his goodness,” replied the poor boy, “I shall die in the hope that he will have pity on me.” And, casting his eyes on the poor Mother, who was so sorrowful because her son was about to leave her, “Be not sad, my mother,” he said to her in the midst of [243] his sufferings. “Weep not because of my death, for I am going to a better life than that which I now leave. Commend my soul to God so that I may not stray from the right path.” Finally, when the good child was dead, the savages who were present there buried him. They knelt at his grave, said their prayers, and recited the rosary for the repose of his soul.

The Father who instructed them fell ill and threw himself on his bed, — that is, on a Bearskin spread [Page 145] on the ground. A Christian who came to see him did for him some of the things that he had seen him do when visiting the sick. He knelt at his bedside, raised his eyes to Heaven, and offered this prayer to God in a rather loud voice: “Thou who hast made all, thou seest well that our Father is sick. Pray, then, cure him, for we need him. It is he who instructs us, and who teaches how we should believe in thee.” Having said this, he took his rosary, and recited it in honor of the blessed Virgin. But, as he was rather long about it, and [244] the Father needed rest, — probably because his illness was due to over work, — he dismissed the good Neophyte, and thanked him for his visit.

Some savages, who had heard of works of atonement, penances, and mortification of the body, said that it was necessary that they also should appease God; that those who were baptized did so. Some chose fasting; others chastised themselves, and beat themselves with thorns, to atone to him who has made all, as they say, and to be avenged on those who have offended him. These penances were performed privately, but here is one that was public. It is impossible to hinder the avarice of some of the French who, in spite of the prohibitions and of the risk of being punished, still sell brandy and wine to the savages. It is likewise very difficult to prevent barbarians, who are not accustomed to these liquors, from sometimes becoming intoxicated. Some Christians offended in this respect and the Father wished to punish them publicly, in order to give [245] an example to the others. It is proper at the very outset, in such matters, to punish public offenses by public chastisements, so as to make the Infidels [Page 147] understand that the Church does not tolerate such errors. With respect to the French and to the other Christians — who do not attribute faults to the doctrine and to Religion, but to the persons who commit them, — we content ourselves with giving them penances to be performed privately and in secret. These good people were kept for three consecutive days at the door of the Chapel, and were forbidden to enter it, as being unworthy to hold communication with the others. They were seen kneeling outside the Church; and, when we had instructed those who had entered, we made these penitents pray outside the Church. They never failed every day, night and morning, to be at the place assigned to them. This edified both the savages and the French, who, when they came to Mass and saw them kneeling near the Church, blessed God for their constancy. Among others, was a Catechumen [246] who, on account of the apprehension that he felt that his fault would prevent his being admitted to Holy Baptism, showed himself much more fervent than the others. He became a Christian on the feast of St. Ignatius and was given the name of that great Saint. Feeling himself under an obligation for the favor that the Father had done him, he went to him after his baptism, and offered him a small gift, saying: “Thou grantest me a very great kindness; I have no means of acknowledging it. The little that I have is offered with all my heart. If I had great wealth, I would wish to give it all to receive Holy Baptism.” The Father thanked him, and gave him to understand that no return was expected for such a gift.

Marriages after the Christian fashion are looked upon as miracles by the Infidels; this is a very heavy [Page 149] and galling yoke for carnal men. The Christians are gradually becoming accustomed to it; the young men find it very difficult to do so. Those who have the most Faith urge the others to delay until the spring, when the Father will come here on a Mission; and when he is with them, they seek out [247] those who are disposed to be joined together, so that it may be done before his departure. The parents have the devout practice of making their children ‘.‘stand up in the Chapel,“ — that is, of making them marry with the ceremonies of the Church. And, because the bridegroom and the bride stand side by side before the Priest, if they wish to know when such a one is to be married, they ask when he will be made to stand up in Church.

A young man and a widow were brought to the Church, to be married. The banns had been published, and all that remained was to express their consent in the presence of the Pastor and of the witnesses. When the young man was questioned, he would not answer. The Father closed his book, and declared aloud that nothing was done, and that they were not married. No one was surprised, and all returned to their homes.

A Captain did not maintain such profound silence, for when he was asked, and had given his consent and when his bride, who was more bashful, did not respond with sufficient promptitude, he said to her: “Be 12483 careful of what you are about to say. I do not conceal my bad temper from you. I am a hasty and irritable man; I make all serve me; I wish my wife to obey me. Do not bind yourself ill-advisedly. Consider whether you will take me with those defects.” The woman gave her consent and [Page 151] verified the Proverb which says that she who marries a husband also marries his humors. Apart from this, the man is of a very good disposition.

It is time to close this Chapter. The Father who was engaged in this employment, that was as holy as it is arduous, was recalled to Kebec. When the savages heard of it, they complained, saying: “Why dost thou leave us? Thou art our Father until our departure. There are so many to instruct. We are thy children; do not abandon us,” “Let us shut him up in the Chapel,” said some of them, “until the shallop that awaits him has gone away. Oh, that a wind might arise that would compel him to remain with us!” Finally, they had to part, with the promise that they would see each other again when it should please our Lord. [Page 153]




HE desire of immortality reigns in the minds of savages as well as in the souls of the most civilized nations. When a man of mark among them is removed by death, they resuscitate him and bring him back to life in the manner described in the previous Relations. As they wished to bring back one of their Captains from his grave, they observed the following ceremonies.

The neighboring tribes are notified to be present, if they desire, at the spot where the event is to take place; or a time is selected when they are in the habit of visiting one another. When all are assembled, a fine feast is made ready in the largest cabin, to which all the principal savages are invited. While the feast is being prepared, the Captain is created in this manner:

He who acts as Master of ceremonies [250] keeps near him some of the chief personages, who serve as his officers. In the first place, they set out and expose to view the presents that are to be given to the Captains of the tribes who are present at the ceremony of creation. They afterward spread out some Elk skins, well dressed, very soft, and handsomely painted in their fashion, to serve as a seat or throne for the new Captain. When this is done, he who is to create him sends two of his officers to bring him. They seek him in the cabin where he is conversing [Page 155] with some of his relatives, and waiting — until he is summoned. One of the two takes him by the hand, and leads him to the spot prepared for him; the other respectfully removes the robe that covers him, and clothes him with another, much finer and richer; he hangs about his neck a collar of porcelain beads, places in his hand a handsome Calumet, and presents him with tobacco to put in it. All this is done so gravely, and in such profound silence, that one would take these men for statues, as they move about without speaking.

When the Captain is clothed as befits his [251] dignity, a third officer, — richly clad, with his face painted according to their custom, — rises and, acting as Herald, declares the object of all this ceremony. “Let every one remain quiet,” he calls out; “open your ears, and close your mouths. What I have to tell you is important. We are here to resuscitate a dead man, and to bring a great Captain back to life.” Thereupon, he mentions him, and all his posterity; relates the place and manner of his death, and then, turning toward him who is to succeed him, he raises his voice and says: “There he is, he who is clothed with that fine robe. It is no longer he whom you lately saw, and whose name was Nehap. He has given his name to another savage. His name is Etouait” (that was the name of the deceased). “Look upon him as the true Captain of this tribe. It is he whom you must obey; it is he to whom you must listen, and whom you must honor.” While the Herald delivers this discourse, all present remain perfectly still, and not a word is said. The new Captain maintains a gravity that indicates nothing of his barbarism. [Page 157]

[2 521 Then that man continues his discourse, briefly addresses the principal men of the various tribes, and, referring to the presents that are intended for them, and are displayed in a prominent place, he names the Captains, one after the other, saying: “So and so, that collar of porcelain beads will tell your tribe that there is a Captain in Tadoussac, and that Etouait has come back to life.” Pointing to a package of Beaver skins, he says to another: “This present, intended for you, will proclaim in your country the fact that we have a Chief, and that death has not utterly destroyed the name of Etouait.” The Herald points to as many presents as there are Chiefs of various tribes: but observe that they are not all equal, — some being richer than others, as there are tribes more or less highly esteemed among them. When he has finished his discourse, the Herald sits down, as if to rest; and another officer takes these fine gifts, and distributes them as they have been allotted. When this is done, the Herald resumes his discourse. “Let us rejoice; our Captain’s first act is to invite us all to a feast;” and, as he says (2531 this, he shows them the kettles full of Indian corn, of plums and grapes. They then begin to sing and dance, each according to the custom of his tribe. AS the Captains conclude their songs, they say a few words in praise of him who has just been brought back to life. One calls out: “Let us take courage; this brave man will save the country.” Another adds that his liberality will banish poverty, and cause those who shall be under his direction to live a long life. “Rejoice, young men,” another will sing; “you have a brave Captain, who will teach you to overcome your enemies.” The Father was present [Page 159] at the ceremony, and was honored with a present as well as the others; he therefore wished to say a few words. “Now,” said he, “Jesus Christ will be honored in Tadoussac, and will be acknowledged in these vast forests, because the Captain is a Christian, and holds his Faith in higher esteem than his life.” He continued his discourse which was listened to in great silence, and approved by all present.

The Captain, who until then had [254] not opened his mouth except to place in it his Calumet or tobacco pipe, — which with the savages takes the place of conversation, and serves to sustain their demean — or, — said to all the tribes present there: “I am not worthy of the honor that you do me. I do not deserve to bear the name of a man who should not have died, of a man whom you loved so much, and whom you honored with so great respect. That man had two qualities in which I am deficient, — he was liberal, and he had abundance of wisdom and of ability to manage affairs. You will confer this latter quality on me by your good counsels, and I will endeavor to gain the first by my own industry. If he who has made all gives me anything, you may rest assured that it will belong more to you than to me.” When he had pronounced these words, the feast began. The women and girls were brought in. All danced, enjoyed themselves, and feasted; everything passed without discussion, without dispute, and without any insolent acts. At the end, an old Captain — living far within the mountains of the North, who had come to Tadoussac for the first time — delivered, in animated language, this short harangue: [z 5 51 “Hunger and hardships have killed a portion of my people in the very cold region that we inhabit [Page 161] but hereafter we shall fear nothing, — Captain Etouait will banish all our misfortunes by his liberality, I carry the marks of his goodness” (he showed the collar that had been given to him). “I shall show this to all who have escaped death, to make them wish to range themselves under so brave a Captain. May you live many years, brave Captain, and preserve those who are under your government.”

When this harangue was ended, each withdrew to his own quarters; and the resuscitated Captain, who wished to begin the duties of his office, sent for the leading men of his tribe, and for some poor widows, and forthwith gave them the best that his cabin contained. To one he gave a blanket, to another a robe of Beaver fur, to a third a Calumet, and to others a sack of Indian corn. To the poor women he gave some Beaver skins, with which to make dresses. To some of the warriors, he presented his sword, his dagger, and his pistol, and [256] then he dismissed them with these words: “As long as I live, I will assist and help you, as far as lies in my power.” Such are the revenues of the offices of the Seigniors and princes of the savages.


[Page 163]

Relation of what occurred in the

Huron country, a country

of New France.

[Page 165]

To the Reverend Father Jean Filleau, Provin-

cial of the Society of Jesus in the

Province of France.



The first copy of the Relation of our Fathers among the Hurons for last year was taken by the Iroquois; and the second reached me too late to send it to your Reverence, as the skips had already sailed. I send it this year, with a new Letter that has come from them respecting what has since occurred in connection with their affairs generally. As the present one is intended for no other purpose, I most humbly recommend myself to your Holy Sacrifices and prayers.

Your Reverence’s

From Kebec, this 1st of September, 1644.

Very humble and very obedient

servant in Our Lord,

Barthelemy Vimont.

[Page 167]


Table of the Chapters contained in this Relation.

Chapter I.

Chap. II.


F the state of the Country.

Of the House and mission of Sainte Marie.



Chap. III.

Of the Mission of la Conception among the Atinniawentan.



Chap. IV.

Of the Mission of Saint Joseph among the Atingueennonniakak.



Chap. V.

Of the Mission of Saint Michel among the Takontaenrat.



Chap. VI.

Of the Mission of the Angels among the Atiwendaronk or neutral Nation.



Chap. VII.

Of the Mission of Saint Jean Baptiste among the Arendaronnons.



Chap. VIII.

Of the Mission of Sainte Elizabeth among the Atontrataronnon Algonquins.



Chap. IX.

Of the Mission of the Holy Ghost, among the Nipissirinien Algonquins.












[Page 169]

[I] Relation of the most remarkable events that

occurred in the Mission of the Fathers of the

Society of Jesus in the Huron country, a

country of New France, from the month

of June, of the year 1642, to the

month of June, of the year 1643.

Addressed to the Reverend Father Jean Filleau, Provincial of

the Society of Jesus in the Province of France.



The first thing that came to us last year from France was the picture of the Crucifixion, which inspired us at the same time with these two [2] thoughts, — that we must prepare ourselves and our Church for some Cross that would be heavier than usual; and also that we must hope that the blood of the Savior of the world, which was shed for these barbarians as much as for us, would be more abundantly applied to them. In a word, that our crosses, united to that of Jesus Christ, would further the salvation of these peoples. The sequel of this Relation will show Your Reverence that our thoughts were not far different from the designs of God; that, in fact, he has tried us; that he has taken from us what appeared up here to be the most flourishing for the faith; that our best Christians are dead, — some of illness, the others massacred by the enemies; and that the choicest among them have endured the cruelty of the Iroquois, with Father [Page 171] Isaac Jogues and two others of our French. But Your Reverence will also see, at the same time, that God has turned our losses to our advantage; that our Church has increased, both in number and in godliness; that many Captains and persons of authority have adopted the Faith; that the fire has been lighted at the four corners of the country, and that Christianity [3] is held in higher honor and respect than ever. I beg our Lord not to spare us such crosses, to send us many similar ones, and to try us even to bloodshed, provided that they be none the less for his glory, and that our lives, expended in his holy service, continue ever to increase for his behalf that Kingdom of hearts that he has acquired through the merits of his blood. Such are the desires of all our Fathers who are here, and for this we need the prayers of all France. We beg Your Reverence to obtain them for us, and to add to them more particularly your prayers and your Holy Sacrifices.

Your Reverence’s

Very humble and very obedient

servant in our Lord,


From the Huron country,

this 21st of September, 1643

[Page 175]




HE scourge of war, that has hitherto carried off a great number of these tribes, has continued to such an extent, for a year past, that one may say that this country is but one scene of massacre.

Hardly had I concluded the preceding Relation when a band of barbarous Iroquois having surprised one of our frontier villages, spared neither sex, not even the children, and destroyed all by fire, except a score of persons. These succeeded in effecting their escape from amid the flames and the enemies’ arrows, and came to tell us at the same time of their ruin and of the coming of the storm that disappeared before the rising of the sun. It was the most impious of the villages, and that which had been most rebellious against the truths of the faith in all these countries; and its inhabitants had more than once told the Fathers who had gone to teach them that, if there were a God who avenged crimes, they defied him [‘I to make them feel his anger, and that, for anything less than that, they refused to acknowledge his power.

Almost at the same time, an army of our Hurons started to meet some other band of enemies. They consulted a famous Magician, for the purpose of ‘receiving his orders. That instrument of Satan caused a dark tabernacle to be erected for him, two or three feet in height, and as many in width; filled it with [Page 175] stones heated in the fire; and, throwing himself into the middle of this furnace, he commanded that he be kept shut up in it until his Demon had given him an answer. He sang, or rather he yelled, therein like a damned soul; while the whole Huron army danced around him, and reëchoed his voice so that it might be heard in the lowest pit of Hell. Finally, the magician changed his tone, and called out in most joyful accents, “Victory! Victory! I see the enemies coming toward us from the south. I see them take to flight. I see all of you, my comrades, making prisoners of them.” At these words, each one made ready, and sought [6] more eagerly for ropes to bind the enemy than for weapons wherewith to fight them. Never had that magician spoken more confidently; never had his Demon been more willingly accorded the homage that he desired; and never did the infidels triumph with more insolence than on that day, when their ungodliness overcame the faith of some good Christians, who had reproved them for having recourse to Demons who were powerless to assist them. They started at the same time, and hastened toward the south, in accordance with the magician’s advice.

The Christians stood by themselves for a long time, without speaking, being unable to make up their minds to obey so impious a guide. Finally, one of the most fervent among them addressed himself to God amid those shouts of victory. “My Lord,” he said, “your honor is at stake. You alone are the master of our lives, and dispose of victories. If the promises of the Demon are fulfilled, he alone will derive glory therefrom, and your name will be blasphemed for it. I offer you my life, that I may be [Page 177] killed by the enemy rather than see myself victorious [7] in that fashion.” After that, he addressed himself to the other Christians, and, although the youngest of the band, his zeal made him assume authority to speak to them. “My brothers,” he said, “we would sin were we to follow the road pointed out by the Demon. Let us rather go toward the west, whence our enemies most frequently come. If God choose to favor us, the devil will have no share in his glory. If our infidel comrades meet with the success that they expect, let us cheerfully renounce it, rather than owe anything to their impiety.” He was at once obeyed; the infidels went their way in one direction, and the Christians in another.

I know not whether God granted the prayer of that young Christian. At all events, without his losing his life, the Infidels and their Demon were defeated. In fact, they met the enemy but did not kill one of them, the entire loss being on their side; and they were so overcome by fright that, although they were six times more numerous, the whole army melted away, and thus ended the plans of their war.

[8] Afterward, throughout the whole summer, there was nothing but fresh rumors of massacres happening one after the other, in the heart of the country, and close to the villages that were most remote from the enemy; and yet it never was possible to capture more than two of those Adventurers, who, having pushed ahead too recklessly, were surprised in their ambushes. They were victims doomed to the flames, and the objects of the cruelty that is natural to all these barbarous Nations; but they were souls destined for Paradise. No sooner [Page 179] had they heard the words of the Fathers who hastened to instruct them, than they surrendered to the truths of our faith, received Baptism, and, at the height of their tortures, sang that they would be happy in Heaven. But all the more cruel was the fury of the infidel Hurons, who, because they had been unable, with all the opposition they could make, to deprive these men of their happiness, wished to make them suffer in this life a semblance of the torments that, as they are often told, are suffered by Souls in hell.

About the end of the summer, we at last received [g] news of the misfortune that had happened on the river through the defeat and capture of some of our French, and of a fleet of the choicest Christians that we have among the Hurons. As they were returning from the Three rivers, they fell into the ambush of a band of Iroquois, as may have been learned, I believe, from the Relation of last year that was sent from Kebec. For fear of repetition, I will not speak of that disaster, but will merely say that the loss of the persons who were involved therein was the heaviest blow that has yet been dealt to the Christianity of the Hurons.

We have been almost a year in uncertainty as to what may have happened to them; in dread that those barbarians may have made them feel the cruelty of their tortures; in the desire of hearing particulars, and all that may have made their sufferings more precious in the sight of God; finally, in the hope that some one of them whose life might have been spared would escape from his captivity, and bring us back positive information which [10] would cause us to bless God’s goodness in the midst [Page 181] of all our losses. These expectations have not been vain. The most faithful and the best of our Christians, Joseph Taondechoren, found means to escape from the hands of the enemy, and arrived here among the Hurons at the beginning of August, a year after his capture. By his recital of those things of which he has been more than an eyewitness, he has shown us that God derives good from evil, and that his divine providence disposes equally of good and evil for the salvation and glory of his Elect.

The day before the capture, as if they foresaw their misfortune — if, however, it should be called one — they had confessed themselves, and had held a Council for the express purpose of encouraging one another. “What! my brothers,” the oldest of all had said, “is there one of us who would cease to believe in God even if he were burned by the enemies? We have embraced the faith to be happy in Heaven above, and not here below on earth.” All promised to remain faithful to [11] God. One said that the thought of Paradise would alleviate his sufferings; another added to this that the burning firebrands, and the axes heated red-hot, that would be applied to his body, would remind him of hell-fire, that burns sinners forever. Eustache Ahatsistari, — that Captain who was a Neophyte and the terror of his enemies, whom I mentioned last year in the Relation, — began to speak, and said: I’ My brothers, if I fall into the hands of the Iroquois, I cannot hope for life. But, before I die, I will ask them what the Europeans bring into their country, — axes, kettles, blankets, arquebuses, that is all. I will tell them that those people do not love them, — that they conceal from them the most precious [Page 183] merchandise of all, which the French give without selling it to us; that the latter come to tell us of an eternal life; of a God who has made all; of a fire e that is under the earth, prepared for those who do not honor him; of a place of happiness in Heaven, an immortal abode for our Souls, and for our bodies, which will rise again, freed from suffering. Then I will tell them that [12] herein is my consolation; that they may inflict all their torments on me; that they may by dint of torture tear my soul from my body, but not from my heart this hope that after death I shall be happy. Thus will I preach to them, while they are burning me.” After that, he addressed himself to Charles Tsondatsaa: “My brother,” he said to him, “if God should permit that I be taken by the enemy, and that thou shouldst escape, — when thou shalt reach our country, go and see my brothers and my relatives on my behalf; thou shalt tell them that if they have any love for me, and still more for themselves, they must embrace the Faith, and adore that divine Majesty which is invisible to our eyes, but which makes itself felt in the very depths of our souls, when we do not refuse to see its light, and when we submit our wills to its commands. Tell them that I am convinced of the truths of our faith, and that we shall be separated from each other forever, if they are not among the followers of God; that he alone is my hope; and that, wherever I may be, I wish to live’ and to die in him.”

[13] On the following day, no sooner had this courageous heart perceived the enemy than he began to pray, and, amid the cries of the combat, his voice was heard above all the others: “Great God, to thee [Page 185] alone I have recourse.” He was the first to be taken prisoner, as he was the foremost in the fight; but the great God whom he invoked assisted him in a much more pleasing fashion, for he died a good Christian; and, in the midst of all the cruelties that he endured from that time until the final torture, he manifested a courage greater than the torments, and worthy of the children of God.

Father Isaac Jogues was also one of the first taken, for indeed his thought was not to save himself, but to provide for the salvation of so many poor souls for which God reserved him. At least, his first impulse when the enemy approached was to baptize his Pilot, who was the only one in that canoe that was not a Christian. This was the last act that he performed while still at liberty, but God has so blessed it that this good Neophyte, who has since [x4] escaped from peril, cannot understand such an excess of charity. He relates it to every one; he consoles himself and blesses God for having called him into the Church in a manner for which he would never have hoped; he cannot forget that day; and through it he confirms himself in the faith, and incites the others to believe through that motive of charity. “It must be,” he says, “that these people who come to instruct us have no doubt whatever of the truths that they teach us. It must be that God alone is their sole reward. Ondessonk”[7] (that is the name by which Father Jogues is called here in the Huron country) “forgot himself at the moment of danger; he thought only of me, and spoke to me of becoming a Christian. The arquebus balls whistled past our ears: death was before our eyes. He thought of baptizing me, and not of saving himself. It was because he loved me [Page 187] more than himself, and he feared not death while he thought that, if I died without baptism, I would be lost forever.”

This Christian, who was baptized in the midst of alarms and in view of a thousand inevitable cruelties to him who begat him in Jesus Christ, [151] has since received the rites of baptism here and the name of Bernard, which Monsieur de Montmagny, our Governor, had destined for him when — after his escape from the Iroquois, and while on his way here — he was present at the blessing of fort Richelieu, and at the Mass that was celebrated there for the first time, on the feast of St. Bernard. His surname is Atieronhonk. Since then his conduct has been such that we see in his person that charity alone can work miracles in making, out of an infidel and a barbarian, an excellent Christian.

But let us return to the Father. When he saw himself in the hands of the enemy, and when they wished to bind him in their usual manner, he said to them: “No, no; those French and Hurons whom you have taken with me are the bonds that will keep me captive; I will leave them only at death. I will follow them everywhere, and you may be assured of my person so long as one of them remains with you.” He said this to those barbarians so emphatically that they saw that his words came more from his heart than from his lips; and they therefore contented themselves for the [x6] time with giving him a severe beating, and tearing some nails from his fingers; then, they left him at liberty. But his steps, his actions, and his thoughts were all for the poor Huron captives. He thought only of their salvation, and so well did God bless so holy and so active a zeal [Page 189] in the midst of sufferings that, on the first day of his captivity, he baptized fourteen Hurons, — one of whom died at the very hour in his arms, for he had been mortally wounded in the fight. He confessed the others who were already Christians, and urged them all to suffer bravely, and for the love of God, the tortures that would inevitably be inflicted on them. There was not one who did not consider himself happy in his misfortune, at seeing a man who had so soon inspired all their hearts, and made the road to Heaven so short and so easy for them.

The Father continued always to perform these charitable acts, and he did so all the more eagerly because he knew very well that the time of the greatest sufferings was approaching. In fact, after six or seven days’ journey they met [17] a band of three hundred Iroquois warriors, who stripped our French and practiced a thousand cruelties on them and on the Hurons. They tore off the nails of all of them; they cut off the fingers of some, and pierced the hands of others; to dry the blood, they applied to their wounds lighted firebrands and torches, and stones heated red-hot in the fire; they sawed their arms with ropes until these reached the bone; they slashed their thighs with knives and swords. Finally, there was not one who did not receive almost as many blows as there were Iroquois, with the exception of two young children and a young girl returning from the Seminary of the Ursulines in Kebec, who were not injured. This was the first treatment received by those unfortunate captives, who, ever encouraged by the Father, blessed God amid their sufferings, and prepared themselves for still greater cruelties. [Page 191]

Three days afterward, they reached the enemies’ villages, where such was the fury vented on them that there was hardly a portion of their bodies that [18] was not injured. The barbarians made the French walk in front, in order that they might receive the first blows. Afterward they were made to ascend, quite naked, a scaffold erected at the entrance of the Village. There they remained from morning until night, and, in order to commence this cruel game, an old man — a famous magician among the Iroquois tribes, who had for many years promised them that they would be victorious over all their foes — was the first to mount upon the stage. “It is the French,” he said, “whom I consider my enemies. The Hurons do not deserve my anger. I have compassion on them;” and, as he said this, he severely beat our French, one after the other, with a cudgel. Then he ordered a woman to come up and cut off the Father’s thumb. “For,” added he, “I hate him the most.” After that, one torture succeeded another, and the entire day was but a scene of cruelty. On the following day, the whole had to be commenced anew. But I have a horror of repeating all these tortures, although they are more horrible to suffer than to write of. It [19] is sufficient for our consolation to know that God animated the Father with a courage altogether heroic; that, instead of complaining at the height of these barbarous torments, he raised his eyes to Heaven, whence he expected succor, himself offering, without any resistance, the parts of his body on which the executioners wished to vent the rage of their hearts; and they could never draw from his lips a single cry, as if he had been insensible to all those sufferings. [Page 193]

Finally it was decided not to put him to death. His life was spared, as well as those of the two other Frenchmen, and of most of all the good Huron Christians. Eustache Ahatsistari alone was burned and put to death, and with him one of his nephews, who, ever since his Baptism, had hardly ever had other words in his mouth, even while singing, than that he would be happy in Heaven. He was one of the most accomplished young men among the Hurons; and, as he had always promised his uncle to accompany him amid the [20] greatest dangers of war, he could not do better than follow him to Heaven, — a blessing which could not long be deferred, for he had found, so near his death, so happy a Baptism.

At the same time when the Father arrived at the enemies’ villages, he found means to baptize four other Huron captives who had been taken on the same day as himself, but sixty leagues higher up the river, — one of whom was burned, shortly after having received the waters of holy Baptism.

After that, the Father bravely cultivated this vine, which he had watered with his blood at its very birth, and which in such a time of tempests and of storms seems not to be able to grow in the spirit of faith, except amid the sufferings of its captivity. It was a profound affliction for these good Christians to see their good Father in such misery and inconvenience throughout a very severe Winter, — when his sole covering consisted of a piece of blanket, which barely covered one half of his body; and when the ardor of his charity impelled him, even ‘in the worst of the [2 I] coldest weather, to drag himself ‘from village to village to visit the children whom he had begotten in our Lord. “But it must be confessed,” adds Joseph [Page 195] Taondechoren, “that his discourses, animated by such charity in the midst of all those sufferings, inflamed all hearts, and made them prize this blessing that they enjoyed in their captivity — that God had given them a man who was to them a father, a mother, a consoler, indeed all, in a place where all consolation failed them except what God gave them through his mouth.” He frequently went to confess and instruct them; in a word, he filled the office of an Apostle, and could say with St. Paul, Verbum Dei non est alligatum, ideò omnia sustineo propter elecios, — “The word of God is not bound, therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect whom God has chosen, and has freed through me, in the midst of my bonds and of their chains.”

We know not where all this will end, nor how long those barbarians will allow him to live; we know only that he expects death from day to day, and [22] from hour to hour; and that, while a breath of life remains, he will employ it for the advancement of the glory of God and will fulfill a more glorious Mission than ours, in the midst of our cruelest enemies, for it contains more crosses and is more beset with thorns. Sugit mel de petra, oleúmque de saxo durissimo. The great Master whom we serve can alone extract sweetness from bitterness, and touch hearts that are harder than stone and adamant.

I omit many important things that have happened to that suffering Church in its slavery to the Iroquois. I say nothing, also, of the death of one of those two Frenchmen who were taken prisoners with the Father, who was killed at the end of the Autumn through the passion of an individual Iroquois. I fear to repeat here what may have been related of [Page 197] it in the Relation of Kebec, and will wait next year to say more about it, as I have no time now to do so; and, moreover, there are many things that cannot be omitted, for they are to the glory of God. [Page 199]




LTHOUGH this House is not the usual residence of the Fathers of our Society who are here in the Huron country, it is nevertheless the place to which they repair from time to time, after the work of the Missions, in which otherwise they could not live.

Not only has the aid from Kebec and from France that we asked for last year failed us, but, out of fourteen that we were, Father Isaac Jogues and Father Charles Raimbaut went down to Kebec; the former fell into the hands of the enemies, and the latter was carried off by a natural disease. Thus our number was reduced to twelve, ten of whom found employment in the Huron and Algonquin Missions; and the care of this House fell to the share of the only two who remained, Father François le Mercier and Father Pierre Chastelain.

[24] This House is not only an abode for ourselves, but it is also the continual resort of all the neighboring tribes, and still more of the Christians who come from all parts for various necessities, — even with the object of dying there in greater peace of mind, and in the true sentiments of the Faith. We have, therefore, been compelled to establish a hospital there for the sick, a cemetery for the dead, a Church for public devotions, a retreat for pilgrims, and, finally, a place apart from the others, where the infidels — who [Page 201] are only admitted by day, when passing that way — can always hear some good words respecting their salvation. In these countries, more than in any other spot on earth, it is necessary to become all things to all men, in order to win them to Jesus Christ.

The hospital is so distinct from our dwelling that not only men and children, but even women, can be admitted to it. God has given us some good servants who are able to attend them in their sickness, while we assist them for the good of their souls. If such care be [25] accompanied by trouble, the results have been so obvious that we could have wished for a larger number of sick than we have had, even if the work had increased a hundredfold. “This House is truly the house of God and not of the infirm,” said a Christian savage named Thomas Sawenhati, of the village of St. Joseph. “I would never have admitted that sickness is a good thing, but now I prefer it to health. Heaven’s gifts have come to me with my illness, and it is here that God shows me that he alone is capable of satisfying all our desires. I do not wish for life, which keeps me back from the possession of the great gifts that Faith leads me to hope for. I do not seek death, for he alone, who is the Master of our bodies and of our souls, can dispose of what belongs to him. But, when he is pleased to call me from this world, I think that I am ready to obey his wishes.”

God prepared this Christian not for death in our House, where he remained for the space of a month, but for a less expected death, which found him ready [2G] for Heaven a few days after. About forty persons went to gather some wild plants, of which they make a kind of twine for the nets that they use in [Page 203] fishing.[8] During the night, while they were sound asleep, about twenty Iroquois fell on them, massacred some, and took the others prisoners; a few, more fortunate, escaped by flight. Our Christian was one of the first to fall under the hatchet of the enemy. He had not foreseen his death, but he could not have prepared himself for it more holily. As he was going to the place, he spoke on the way of nothing but the benefits that Faith brings to a heart which embraces it. He exhorted all his companions to become Christians, “So that,” he said, “we shall all go to Heaven in company.” During the whole evening and a portion of the night, while he was preparing his hemp, he offered his work to our Lord with such fervor that he could not contain his devotion within himself, and his voice conveyed to the infidels the words that his heart addressed to God. A Captain of his village, who slept near him that night, and who escaped from the massacre, [27] related to us that, when he heard him speak so earnestly of God, he said to him, “My friend, give me thy Faith.” The good Christian smiled at him, without answering; but in truth he made him the inheritor of his virtues and of his faith, immediately after his death. Since then, that Captain has taken his name in Baptism, and has behaved in such a manner that we bless God because, by ways far remote from our previsions, he enriches at the same time, and with advantage, both the Church triumphant and the Church militant of the Hurons. We will speak in due time of this newly-converted Captain, named Thomas Sondakwa, one of the leading men of all this country.

A Christian woman, of the village of la Conception, went to visit her nearest relatives at a distance [Page 205] of twelve leagues from our House. She felt herself attacked by an illness, that did not seem dangerous, I know not whence the presentiment of her death came to her, but, at all events, she set out on her return. “I leave you,” she said to her relatives, “because I wish to die among the faithful, and near my brothers who bring [28] the words of eternal life. They will assist me at death, and I desire that they attend to my burial. I shall rise again with them, and I do not wish my bones to be mingled with those of my deceased relatives, who will be nothing to me in eternity. I love only the Faith, and those who are beloved of God. I pray him to enlighten you, and that, after my death, you may be wiser than you are during my life. If you could see what I see! But God does not grant such grace to every one.” Thereupon she embarked in a canoe, reached the village of la Conception on the same day, and, without stopping at her own house, walked the three remaining leagues and came here. God alone guides the steps of his elect, and holds their hearts in his hands. This good Christian had, from her baptism, been one of the pearls of this Church; but the nearer death approached, the more precious did she become. “If I feared death,” she said to us, “I would not think of believing in a Paradise that awaits me. There is nothing on earth that keeps back my heart. If I was resigned to the death of my children, in the thought that they went [29] to Heaven, why should I refuse to die when I am about to enjoy similar happiness? I would love myself less than I love them, since I would wish less good for myself.” Her patience was heroic through out her illness, which was a long one and was accompanied [Page 207] by excessive pain; and she displayed a courage worthy of a truly Christian soul.

She could hardly move when I brought her the viaticum, but her faith gave her strength. She rose from her bed, knelt on the ground, and, in a dying voice, exclaimed: “Here, my Lord; I firmly believe that it is you who come to visit me. I die in that Faith, and in repentance for having been so long without knowing you. Have pity on me.” Several of those who were present could not restrain their tears. She alone showed on her countenance the joy that she felt in her heart, and the content of a soul that breathed only Heaven. On the following day, she fell into a deathlike stupor, and had neither eyes nor ears except when they spoke to her of praying to God; for then [30] she would revive, and, even in her death agony, took pleasure in adoring him whom she now enjoys.

She was pregnant five months, and that was our sole regret, that the death of so saintly a mother should deprive her child of the happiness that we hoped for it. We made a vow of a Novena in honor of saint Anne, that she might obtain Baptism for it. God was pleased to grant our prayers, at the very moment when we had lost all hope. The child came into the world, and lived only a few minutes, but still long enough to make him live forever in Heaven. We named him Ignace at his baptism. The mother soon followed this little Angel, and their bodies went together to the grave.

It was then that we saw ourselves compelled to consecrate a cemetery near our Church, which was to receive as its first seed so blessed a deposit. The burial was solemn, and so replete with devotion that the [Page 209] Christians, who had flocked to our place at the news of her death, left it only with tears [31] in their eyes, and in their hearts the desire to live and to die like her.

That is not all. This good woman has done more in Heaven for her relatives than she had done on earth. They all wish to follow her; and already one of her sisters, who is the head of the whole family, has forestalled the others, and has received the name of the deceased in baptism.

Since then, the Christians who have died not only at the village of la Conception, but at that of Saint Joseph, five leagues from our House, have wished to be buried in our cemetery. And the devotion of the living has been so fervent that the intense cold in the severest part of winter, and the depth of the snows, have not prevented them from carrying on their shoulders a burden that they considered only an agreeable one, because they thought that they were paying this last duty to bodies which would one day rise again with them in glory.

Moreover, on every Sunday in the summer, from fortnight to fortnight, and on the great festivals of the year, it was very consoling to witness the arrival at this [32] House of the Christians from a distance of ten or twelve leagues around, who assembled there often for three or four days, — at least, those whose strength and age permitted of their so doing. It is then that, seeing themselves all of one mind, they speak heart to heart; they animate one another; they hold Councils for the advancement of Christianity, for the establishment of Faith in their country, and for plans that God alone may be adored therein. Sermons are not wanting, and we then endeavor to make them practice what is most holy in the Church [Page 211] For I can truly say that never in France have I seen illiterate people more susceptible to the mysteries of our Faith. They penetrate them with so much spirit, and derive from them such well-grounded opinions of Heavenly things, that this alone convinces my mind that God wills to be acknowledged in the midst of this barbarism; that he has his elect here, and that, even if we should have to die a thousand times, the Gospel must be preached here. And truly it is here that we are eyewitnesses that his arm is not shortened and that from rocks and stones he brings forth, as it pleases him, children [33] of Abraham and souls destined for Heaven. In a word, no heart continues to be barbarous when Faith has taken possession of it.

Of the many who have presented themselves for Baptism, we have put off a goodly number, the better to try them, and by that delay to increase the esteem that they should have for our mysteries. Those who have appeared to us to be the choicest, and the best disposed to receive the character of children of God, are over one hundred. These, on the one hand, having before their eyes the example and fervor of the older Christians, have much less difficulty in observing what they see already practiced; and moreover, being better informed regarding the truths of our Faith, have also more strength to withstand the temptations that formerly made the most courageous waver, and caused the ruin of many who had begun fairly well. “What else should I seek but Paradise?” replied a Catechumen who is now an excellent Christian. “If you were to promise me a long life, I would publicly give you the lie, for there is not one who does not know that the best Christians, [Page 213] [34] after having lost all the support of their children, have themselves been ravished by death in the prime of life. If I hoped that Faith would bring me wealth or content in this life, could I forget that fleet of Christians upon whom misfortune has recently fallen? Some of them now groan under the cruel torments and fury of the Iroquois, who have nothing but flames for them. The others have been only too fortunate to save themselves, quite naked, from such danger. No, no,” he added, “I see nothing on earth to attract me to the Faith. It is a fire which I do not see, but which I fear, that fire that burns in hell, which makes me resolve to obey God; it is a paradise, in which I believe without seeing it, that makes me a Christian.”

The care of the Mission which bears the name of this Residence, and which comprises the nearest villages, has fallen to the lot of Father Pierre Pijart. As the number of Christians is not so great as to make us consider it necessary to build Chapels for them in their villages, it is to this House that they [35] come on Festivals and Sundays, to perform their devotions. On a winter’s day, when the winds raged furiously and the air was full of snow, of storms, and of tempests, the Father rebuked one of his Neophytes for having come a league and a half over a bay of a frozen lake, where sometimes several perish by the cold, or are plunged into the waters under the treacherous floor. The good man replied: “I do not regret these steps, which will be counted to me in Heaven. I prayed to God on the way, and offered him my hardships. I esteem the holy day too highly not to be here.” May God ever preserve him in that state of mind. [Page 215]





T seems that God intends to establish his Church in these barbarous countries solely by the same ways which have given birth to the Faith throughout the remainder of the earth. I mean to say that to be an excellent [36] Christian, and to be at the same time in the ordeal of sufferings, are two inseparable things. We have observed this particularly in this Mission, where God has been pleased to take away from us, one after the other, those whom he had best formed according to his own heart; where the most Christian families are decimated; where poverty assails them, and they lack everything but faith, which alone sustains them, and which grows in proportion as their sufferings increase.

“I think,” said one day to us, in regard to this, a young man who was almost the only one left of a large family of Christians, whom death or war had removed from this Church, “I think,” said he, “that God wishes to see whether our Faith is truly sincere, and whether we desire any other thing from him but Paradise. He has taken away from me, one after the other, all the assistance of my relatives; and, in order to try me to the end, he has recently permitted the head of our family, the sole support that was left us, and all our goods, to fall into the hands of the Iroquois. I complain to him, or rather [Page 217] I tell him in 1371 my heart, to finish despoiling me, — to cut and strip off my flesh to my hones, and to take away my wife, whom I love more than myself. It seems to me that I should serve him still more perfectly; for the more do misfortunes fall on me, the more do the truths of our Faith seem lovable to me, and things pertaining to God are clearer to my eyes.

Charles Tsondatsaa, who last year escaped from the hands of the enemy after having lost all his goods, and also a brother, and a son whom he loved above all, while speaking one day to the Infidels, said, “No, I never came back so rich from any journey; but God took everything from me in one moment, in order to teach me that all that is nothing, and that my hopes should be in Heaven. You do not know, you Infidels,” he said to them, “what should be said and done to console one who is afflicted. Your words are without effect, and Faith alone promotes true joy. After our defeat, I went down to the Three Rivers, where I saw myself surrounded by my brothers, the Montagnais, Algonquin, [38] and French Christians. All spoke to me in an unknown tongue, and nevertheless they consoled my heart. I saw one raise his hand to Heaven, and he told me what I could conceive without being able to understand him; and at the same time I felt an invisible hand which soothed my mind, calmed my troubles, and made me find an ineffable happiness in spite of all my losses. Our Faith has not been taken away from us with our goods; it is still entire in our hearts, and our constancy will show all the Infidels that we are so sure of Paradise that, to speak truly,’ we esteem nothing else.” [Page 219]

Indeed, the older Christians of this Mission have increased their fervor in the midst of all these trials. Their example has served, better than our words, to give a true idea of the Faith to those who have recently joined the ranks of Christianity. Most of the Infidels respect them, and many would like to have sufficient strength to follow their example.

Here are some pious actions and sentiments [39] which I shall relate without any order, that it may be seen what grace can do in a heart, although it be born in barbarism. I have been a witness of their zeal, for I passed the greater part of the winter there with Father Paul Ragueneau.

A Christian, about seventy years of age, was questioned regarding the thoughts that one should have amid the sorrows that afflict us. “Not long ago,” he said, “I burned with fever, and could get no rest all night. Then I thanked God, for I thought that in Heaven there would be no such pains. I offered him my body, that was being consumed; and I considered that he should grant my request, because I imagined that it was he who took pleasure in making me feel the heat of the fire that burned me.”

The same man burned himself one day, purposely, and was told by one of his friends to withdraw himself from the flames. “No, no,” said he, “thus do I learn that it is a bad thing to offend God, unless we are resolved to burn in a fire from which we can never withdraw, and of which this one is but a shadow.”

[40] Another, almost as old, while coming to the public prayers, nearly killed himself by a fall that tore all the flesh of one arm: “My God,” he said, “I offer you this accident, and I accept it willingly, since you have permitted it to happen.” After that, [Page 221] he continued on his way without saying &anything else; he entered the Chapel, and never did he say his prayers with greater devotion. When he came out, he showed us a wound that horrified us all. We tried to give him some relief, but hardly had he gone out when he fell a second time, and hurt his head badly. “It is the all-powerful God, to whom thou hast just prayed, who has rewarded thee by that fall,” the Infidels said, reproaching him. “Yes, indeed,” replied the good man, “he has nothing but love for me, and will be satisfied with this passing pain as a punishment for my sins; but he prepares for you, who blaspheme unceasingly against him, eternal torments that will be accompanied by nothing but despair.”

One of our Fathers took pleasure one day in listening, without being perceived, to a good [4x] sick Christian who was exhorting his daughter to embrace the Faith. “Yes, my daughter,” he said to her, “do not at all doubt that there is a God whom the Christians adore. No other than he could give me the consolation that I now feel in my illness. I am as satisfied as if I were cured; and I tell him with pleasure to dispose of my life as he pleases, because I feel quite sure in my heart that I shall lose nothing by losing this body. It is undoubtedly because our souls possess something more precious than this life, whatever may be our love for it.”

The exhortations of the father had their effect. He first won his daughter to God, and afterward one of his sons, who was still older, Finally, the mother wished to follow her children; and they all live together in a sweet state of innocence that would be delightful in the midst of France. [Page 223]

Hardly three days after, an entire family had taken the resolution to embrace the Faith. While the mistress of the cabin was working in broad daylight in her [42] field, with one of her nieces, two Iroquois, who were hidden close by in the woods, rushed from their ambush; in the sight of every one these threw themselves upon them with their hatchets, tore off their hair and their scalps, and, after committing the deed, retreated so rapidly that it was impossible to overtake them. They came from a distance of three leagues to summon us in haste. We hurried thither, and were in time to place these poor butchered women on the road to Paradise. “These,” said one, “are the thoughts that I had while in my field. I wished to go to Heaven, and God took me at my word. I wished to live, and now I wish to die, a Christian. Do not refuse me Baptism.” This one recovered, and ever since then has behaved in a most Christian manner; the other was soon in Heaven.

A young woman, a Neophyte, who experienced cruel agony in her first confinement, had recourse only to God. As her pains increased, she redoubled her prayers, and finally was delivered very happily of her child, at the same time that she finished [43] her rosary. After six days, she suddenly awoke’ in the middle of the night, and found that her child was about to breathe his last, and was already seized with a deathlike chill, while she could think of no remedy. “Alas!” exclaimed the poor disconsolate mother, “if he die without being baptized, he will not go to Heaven.” We were notified at once. No sooner had this little innocent been bathed in the sacred waters of Baptism, than he received at the [Page 225] same moment both the life of the body and that of the soul.

Another child in the cradle, whose father and mother had died excellent Christians, was about to come under the care of an aunt who was an infidel. She was carried a distance of ten leagues from us, to the place where this aunt resided, and where she soon became sick unto death. The Infidels urged the woman to have recourse to diabolical remedies, “No,” she said to them, “she is a child destined for Heaven;” and when she saw her in the agony of death, she cried out: “God of the Christians, I do not know you; but I offer you this little baptized one, because they say that she is your daughter. If those who teach the road to Heaven were [++I here, they would tell her what road her soul must follow when it quits the body. You, who are her father, lead her yourself, for fear that she may stray. For my part, I shall bury her body in a separate place, and it will have nothing in common with the Infidels.” This little innocent soul is now in Heaven, and she who had manifested such charity on her behalf, almost without knowing it, came to us from her country on two or three different occasions, told us her desire, and finally received Baptism, with so much consolation that her heart spoke out of her lips. “My God,” she exclaimed, “could it be possible that I should ever forget this day and the holy promises that I have just made to you. Nothing is hidden from you, and you see in the depths of my soul that I would rather trample under foot a thousand porcelain collars, than commit a single sin against you.”

Some days after his Baptism, a Christian met an [Page 227] infidel woman, who pulled him gently by his robe, and said to him: “I am thine.” “Thou takest me for another,” he replied. “Thou belongest to the devil; [45] I have nothing to do with him.”

A young Pagan, who had frequently been refused by a Christian girl, sought for an opportunity of meeting her alone, when she went for wood in the adjacent forest. “No one sees thee,” he said to her, “why shouldst thou be ashamed to sin with me?” “Kill me in the midst of these woods,” replied the Christian maiden. “No one sees thee now. Why shouldst thou have a horror of thy crime? For my part, I would more willingly suffer death than commit the sin to which thou solicitest me.” The scoundrel did not repeat his request; “Cursed race of Christians!” he said as he withdrew; “they are everywhere inexorable.” We would never learn of the fidelity displayed on many similar occasions by our Christians, who are often content that Heaven alone should be their witness, were it not that the Infidels themselves are the first to proclaim these virtuous deeds. Some do this by laughing at what they consider excessive simplicity in losing (so they say) the pleasures of an age that can never return, through fear of an imaginary fire that they have never seen; others are touched [46] to the heart by it, and speak of it only with respect, judging thereby that the purity of the Faith has pleasures, that surpass those of the senses and raise the soul above the common.

This reminds me of the tears shed some days since by a Christian young man, who wept for the sin of an aunt who was forgetful of her salvation. “You do not know,” he said to us, “what a torment it is [Page 229] to have the Faith, and to abandon oneself to sin, you who have always lived in innocence. I know what it is, for I lived, for some days after my Baptism, in the debauchery of youth. It was a torture to me; my mind was greatly troubled by it, and those bestial pleasures were no longer for me such as they had formerly seemed, before I had any knowledge of the Faith. I found in them more bitterness than sweetness; my heart had no rest, and in the midst of those pleasures it experienced nothing but disgust.” It is, beyond a doubt, because God is good even to sinners, that he has pity on those who belong to him, and does not wish that after having tasted the joys [47] of Faith, they should find any peace or content outside of it. “Alas I” he added, “her sin is her torment, and brings her more sorrow than joy. Let us speak to God rather than to her, for all the words in the world cannot enter into a soul that is in such troubles. She sees her misfortune; she feels her misery, — not enough to extricate herself from it, but enough to prevent her from ever enjoying any good, either in this world or in the next, if God himself do not work her salvation.”

A Christian woman, who learned that one of her sons, the sole joy and support of her old age, had fallen into the hands of the enemy, could not restrain her tears. But she at once recovered herself after rendering to nature what the transfixed heart of a mother could not forbear giving. “Alas! my God,” she exclaimed, “why have I not recourse to your goodness? Is not this the time when I should keep my word to you, and perform in affliction what I promised you in prosperity? Continue to try me, if you will, provided that, at [48] the same time, you [Page 231] increase my faith. Even if you should make me the most miserable being in the world, I would always hope in you.” Let us pass On to some others, in more detail.

Joseph Taondechoren, who has recently escaped from the Iroquois, would furnish me with enough matter for an entire Relation, had I leisure to consider here what happened to him personally, and the graces that God gave him throughout the time of his captivity. But, as I am too much pressed for time, I will content myself with showing here in how holy a manner God had prepared him, before his departure from the Huron country, for the misfortunes that have since happened to him, and the condition in which we saw him on his return. This brave Christian, before leaving us to go down to Kebec, on the same day that he embarked, delivered a harangue to all the Christians present which deserves to find place here. “My brothers,” he said to them, “here I am, about to depart; and perhaps we shall never have the consolation of seeing one another again here on earth. This makes me feel a desire to speak to you, as if I saw myself 1491 about to die, with the truest sentiments of my heart. Whatever misfortune may befall us, let us remember that we are Christians; that the object of our hopes is in Heaven; that earth contains nothing worthy of us, and nothing capable of satisfying a soul that has given itself to God. Eternity will give us every leisure to experience that truth. It is sufficient, for the present, that Faith teaches it to us, even if the sentiments that God gives us were not proofs of it. My brothers, let us never lose that grace that you and I have received in the sacred waters of Baptism. It is the [Page 233] pledge of our salvation; the beauty of our souls, which has removed from them the deformities of sin, which has driven from them the demons, and has made us children of God. Let that be our treasure, that our wealth: and if the devil and all hell should endeavor to take them away from us, let us love our welfare more than they wish us evil. Let us be on our guard night and day; let us pray for succor from Heaven, and for aid from the Angels. Let us have recourse to prayer whenever [50] we feel our hearts assailed. In a word, let us esteem the gift of Faith; let us love the God who has first loved us, and let all our hatred be directed against sin alone. Let us make up our minds to die and to endure the pain and sorrow of this life. Let us even now offer the whole to God, so that he may turn it to his glory; and, in exchange for a moment that remains to us to suffer on earth, we may receive an eternal reward in Heaven.” After this discourse, which was animated by his faith and zeal, and with which none other than the Holy Ghost could have inspired him, he said: “My brothers, let us kneel and all offer ourselves to God both for life and for death; let all of you follow my words, so that, having but one heart, we may also have but one tongue, and the same prayer in our mouths.” Thereupon, he addressed himself to God, but with such tender sentiments of devotion that the heart felt them more than can be expressed on paper.

These were his last words when he left us, about a year ago; and God’s graces that we see in him now show us [5 I] that torture, captivity, and death cannot harm a truly Christian heart.

While he was returning here to the Huron country, [Page 235] God chose to try him again. They were a company of a hundred, who had journeyed about one hundred leagues, and believed themselves beyond danger from the Iroquois; when the enemy, who lay in ambush, surprised them at a place where the river falls over a precipice of dreadful height, and compels our Hurons to land and to carry their canoes and their effects on their shoulders, to embark on the channel of the river higher up, where its course is once more smooth. In the midst of the confusion caused by this passage, the Hurons were overtaken unawares, and so swiftly attacked that, when the first had either been killed on the spot, or had been taken prisoners by the enemy, those behind lost courage, and escaped by flight, leaving behind them as plunder all their goods; these had already cost them the death or captivity of about twenty persons, whom they had lost in another encounter, a few days before.

[52] In this fight, the good Christian had a shoulder pierced through and through by a musket ball; and as he was afterward abandoned without any assistance for two or three days, the loss of nearly all his blood, with the fatigues of a journey that of itself is horrible, reduced him so low that he despaired of his life. “My God,” he exclaimed, “I continue to feel that you are everywhere my God, — as much upon these rocks, where I see myself abandoned, as you were in the midst of my captivity; for everywhere my heart receives consolation in this thought alone, that you are in all places a witness of my sufferings. I had escaped from the hands of the enemy, that I might die near my Fathers who have begotten me in the Faith. But O my God! if you [Page 237]

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[Page 239] missing

never seen more than the flames and torments that I suffered while with the Iroquois. I have even been told that several rejoiced at the news of my captivity, and blamed for it the God whom 1 adore; that they Said that he was powerless; and that I was not to be pitied for the misfortunes that had befallen me, because the calamity in which he had abandoned me would prevent others from following my example, from becoming Christians, and from serving a Master who would doubtless have neither the power nor the will to make us happy forever, inasmuch as he did not begin even in this life to make us feel the effects of this love of his.

“My brothers,” he added, “I do not know what God’s designs are respecting me. When [55] my misfortunes were at their height, I did not dare to ask him either for death or for life, because I thought that I was a child, who did not know what was good for me; that he who was my Father had more wisdom for guiding me than I; and that he would not fail in love for me, so long as I did not fail to have confidence in him. I am now delivered, almost against my hopes. I know not whether it is not you who have been the cause of it, through your horrible blasphemies. 1 think that God has chosen to confound you in your thoughts; that he has intended to do justice to himself in my person, and to show you that he had not abandoned me, and that he will never fail, either in power or in love, for those who belong to him. 1 am sure that those who rejoiced at my capture must now feel confusion in their hearts; that they must blush with shame: that they themselves condemn their own wisdom, when they see that God has derived his glory even from my [Page 241] misfortunes, of which they had availed themselves to blame him. I know not what death he reserves for me; but, whatever misfortune may happen to me, do not [56] blame him, It is enough that he should have confounded you once before your death; your impiety cannot oblige him to be ever performing miracles. If you do not acknowledge both his power and his goodness in this life, then will he do justice to himself forever on the day of judgment, when those who have blasphemed most against him, on account of the misfortunes that may have happened to the just here below on earth, will feel greater confusion when they shall see the eternal rewards that he prepared for us even when he seemed to abandon us, and that he reserves for the impious but torments and eternal despair.”

Charles Tsondatsaa, who also escaped from the peril in which the good Joseph remained, has shown us in his person that God is truly good, even when he afflicts; and that, in all the hearts that love him, everything cooperates for their welfare. This good Christian was one of the richest of his village; now he is one of the poorest; but his faith, his zeal, and his virtue have never shone out more brilliantly. The word of God becomes vivified in his mouth. [57] No one dares to resist him. He confounds all the Infidels; he teaches the, Christians; and, wherever he goes, one sees in his discourses and in his life that esteem for Heavenly things, fear of God, horror at sin, and zeal for the salvation of souls, are the four elements of a truly Christian heart.

One day, some Infidels — who found him inflexible against all their entreaties, when they wished him to commit some offense against God, and who never [Page 243] received any other answer from him than that he feared fire less than sin — resolved to test his courage, and to see whether he would really be stronger than fire. They invite him to enter a bath (this is a kind of oven or hypocaust, in which the whole body is at once bathed in sweat, and in which one would soon be suffocated, were it not often uncovered to allow fresh air to be breathed). The good Christian, who is ignorant of their design, considers this as a favor usual among these peoples when they intend to gratify any one. He enters the bath, but at the very first he feels a heat so excessive C’S] that he begs them to allow him to come out. “Comrade,” replies he who had invited him, “I dreamed last night that thou must say three words in honor of my familiar demon, or otherwise some misfortune would happen to me. I beg thee to oblige thy friend, and, if thou wishest to come out, refuse me not those words.” Charles sees very well that they wish to compel him by force to do what gentleness could never obtain from him. “Comrade,” he replies, “the fire of hell is hotter than this. To avoid one I would be very foolish to throw myself into the other. Thou canst make me die here if thou wilt, but thou canst not get a word out of my mouth that will soil my soul. Thou must know that I have no tongue, when a sin has to be committed.” He is urged not to be so strict in a matter which will cost him so little, and so greatly oblige his friend. He is told that the fault cannot be his, and that the compulsion used against him will excuse him before all men. He is promised that it will never be mentioned; and that, if he dread the reproaches of the French, they can never know of it. “Finally, if [Page 245] thou fearest,” [59] they say to him, “even the shadow of the sin, thy injury will not be beyond remedy, since all sins are forgiven, and we are told that in Heaven there are more sinners than innocents.” “My comrades,” he says to them, ((I fear neither men nor the French, but the eye of God, which penetrates both your consciences and mine, and which would condemn my offense even if the whole earth should praise me for it. It is right to hope that our sins will be forgiven after they are committed, but not in order that we may commit them: unless YOU wish to excuse folly in a person who, in the hope of curing a mortal wound, plunges a knife into his breast.” Meanwhile, the heat becomes more intense; he finds himself in the midst of a heap of stones all heated red-hot, and of coals that flame more and more; and he cannot stir without walking on the embers. “My comrades,” he says to them, “my heart fails me, but not my courage. I am stifled here, and cannot breathe; but know that, whatever violence may be done to me, I will never yield to your desires.” Thereupon he who had invited him changes [603 his tone, and, assuming an angry one, he utters a thousand blasphemies against God; curses the Faith and the believers; renounces the friendship that had existed between them from their youth; but the more furious he becomes, the more he sees that a truly Christian heart has no fear except of sin. Finally the other Infidels range themselves on the fairer side; they take up the cause of the innocent; they upbraid this insolent man for going to such extremes. He himself is filled with confusion when, on uncovering the hypocaust, he sees the good Christian without [Page 247] pulse and strength; and that, on coming out and recovering himself, the latter has no other words with which to avenge himself for all these wrongs than to say, while looking at him with as friendly regard as usual, “My comrade, thou hast killed me; but what consoles me is that I have not offended God. If ever he opens thy mind, and thou hast Faith, thou wilt know that he alone deserves the honors that the devils iniquitously usurp, and that our lives cannot be better sacrificed than in his service.”

I have spoken at great length, in the [61] preceding Relations, of an excellent Christian, whose faith, zeal, and piety have for five years been indeed a shining light in this Church; his name is René Sondihwannen. I will say only one word of him for the present. This man continues to grow in the spirit of Faith, which so powerfully animates his actions, his discourses, and still more his sufferings, that, on seeing the course of his life, and on hearing his sentiments, one cannot doubt that he belongs wholly to God. He very often passes almost the whole night in prayer, with such enjoyment that he hardly notices any distraction. “No,” he said one day, “it is not I who pray, at least I know not what I say to God. I see well that he speaks to me, but I do not know so well what he says to me. I think that he takes my heart and keeps it near him, as a mother does when she caresses her child. If we ask the child what his mother has said to him, he cannot answer, and can say only two things — that he loves his mother and that she loves him.”

This good Christian had gone away, about the end [62] of the autumn, to hunt beaver. During [Page 249] that time he won over to God his eldest son, whom alone he had taken with him, expressly to have an opportunity, in that solitude of a month’s duration, of speaking to him more leisurely, and more to his heart. A thing happened to him then, that deserves to be mentioned here. In his soundest sleep, it seemed to him that the whole Sky was full of thunder and lightning, and that the thunderbolts threatened to fall on him from all sides. So forcibly had fear taken possession of him, that he was in despair of his life. A person — whose face was unknown, but full of majesty, mingled with love and gentleness — came down from Heaven, and drawing near him, said: “Take thy rosary, and pray to God.” No sooner had he obeyed than these images disappeared, and the storm passed away. The same thing happens to him on three different occasions; he is told each time to have recourse to the same prayer, and he always experiences the same effect from it. On the following day about noon, the Sky, that was clear and serene, suddenly becomes overcast; there is nothing but thunder and lightning, and it seems as if all this storm [63] were about to burst on them. “Let us pray to God,” he says to his son; “repeat thy rosary with me.” They have no sooner finished than the clouds disappear; the Sky is clearer than ever, and they no longer see before their eyes any vestige of the tempest. Some hours afterward, the Sun is again obscured, and they are surrounded on all sides by thunder and lightning. “Let us say our rosary again,” says the father to his son; “God wishes to constrain us to prayer.” At once the Sky is again visible in its beauty. Finally, for the third time, they again see themselves assailed by the [Page 251] storm; the clouds are about to burst over their heads, and the thunderbolts of Heaven seem to seek only them The good old man again was about to resort to the Same prayer, and already held his rosary in his hand, when he reflected that he was obeying his dream. ‘I I have sinned,” he said to his son, “but without thinking of it. Let us not say that prayer now, for otherwise I should fulfill my dream. Let us only pray to God in our hearts. If he wishes to preserve us from this storm, he is not attached to one prayer more than another.” I know not whether there is anything [64] extraordinary in this, but the cloud parted and discharged itself on either side near the spot where they were, Not a drop of rain fell on them, and they thanked our Lord for having protected them.

Very often many things happen to these good people which are, without doubt, rather remarkable; but, owing to their simplicity, they reflect on it only for the moment, and content themselves with thanking God when they have derived any benefit from it. This one I only heard by accident, when the good man, long afterward, asked us whether he had committed a grievous sin in obeying his dream at first, and how he should have behaved on that occasion, according to God’s will.

I am resolved to be brief in this Relation, and space must be left for the following Chapters. If I say that some have been abandoned by their own parents, through hatred of the Faith; that others, who have been solicited to do evil, have imitated the Holy Joseph and the chaste Susanna; that many take pleasure in sufferings, and thank God for them; that most of them lead [65] as innocent a life, in the [Page 253] midst of an entirely infidel nation, as if they lived with a wholly Christian people; if to this I add that they all pray to God publicly, morning and evening; that they understand and enjoy our mysteries; that they confess themselves at least once a week; that they practice virtue, and have a horror of vice; in a word, that their lives preach more eloquently than our utterances, and force the most Infidel to respect the Faith, whatever hatred they may have of it; it is because here we see with our own eyes what God is working in their hearts, and what Heaven admires in a barbarous country, which for five thousand years had never known its Creator. And since the blood of Jesus Christ has been shed for them as well as for us, why should we not hope that the conversion of these peoples will go on increasing, that the Faith will reign among them, and that the Cross will in the end be planted everywhere in this new world? “Do not lose courage,” a Christian savage said to us, some time ago. “Our number increases daily; that of the [66] Infidels decreases. Most of them know the truth well enough, and are the first to laugh at the superstitions of the country. They dread the fire of hell, Human considerations alone keep back those who have the best minds. When we shall be a little stronger, you will see that they will join us all of a sudden. The whole of our village will be Christian, and then Faith will make its way, without resistance, among all the others who have their eyes on us.”

I remember, in connection with this, a harangue delivered last winter by an Infidel Captain of the same village, inviting those who were under him to a superstitious dance of the country, and at the [Page 255] same time encouraging the Christians to remain firm in the Faith. “Courage, my nephews,” (said he). “You that have not Faith, come to this dance, that your ancestors have honored; come, and cure a sick person who asks from you that assistance. Courage,” he added; “you who are Christians, withdraw into your cabins, that are holy. I do not set foot in them, because today we sin. We have [67] no sense. Do not imitate us, and be wiser than we.” If what the same Truth has said be true, that a Kingdom divided against itself is near its ruin, may I not say here that the Kingdom of Satan is not far from its decadence, since those who are its strongest partisans are themselves working for their own ruin by sustaining the party of God? [Page 257]




IT seems as if Heaven wished to share with us in the rout of that fleet of Christians who last year fell into the hands of the Iroquois; or rather, it seems as if God’s design were none other than to garner what was ripest for eternity, and to leave us of the number only those out of whom he wished to make a Preacher of the Faith for each of the Churches of this country. [68] This was the thought that inspired all of them with the first sentiment of their hearts, and the salutation that they gave each other, when they found that they had escaped from the peril. “Let us go,” they said, “and publish the greatness of him who has delivered us, and, if we fail to do so, let us renounce life; let us all resolve to die, for now we no longer live for ourselves, but to preach the Faith and to make our country Christian.” From the very hour that they made this promise to God, and ever since, their zeal has shown us clearly that this spirit of truth, who breathes where he pleases, makes no distinction between barbarian and Greek, and secures his Apostles wheresoever he chooses to be adored.

I shall commence this Chapter with something relating to one of these Christians, named Éstiene Totiri. When he was returning up hither, — after having lost nearly all his property near the Three [Page 259] Rivers, in the encounter with the Iroquois, — the first news that he heard was that his mother had died since his departure. At first, his heart was touched, because he loved her dearly; [69] but, as soon as he broke his silence, he asked first of all if she had died a good Christian. “Yes,” he was told. At this word he clasped his hands and, raising his eyes to Heaven, he said, “My God, who could complain of you? She is happy in Heaven, and now she can no longer offend you. Provided that I and my relatives all die in the Faith, I cannot regret this life, either for them or for me. Hasten our death, if it please you, for thereby you will hasten our happiness.” When he arrived at his own village, the Christians who went to console him were more disconsolate than he was, and it was he who consoled them. “My brothers,” he said to them, “let us not speak of what I have lost, but let us think of the great blessings that await us in Heaven. Your tears as well as mine will be changed into joy, and the Infidels will see by our faces that we have Faith and the hope of Paradise in our hearts. Let us enter the Chapel, and praise God for everything.”

It is he who is the custodian of this Chapel, in which all the Christians and Catechumens [70] pray, night and morning. Moreover, as many of them need instruction, he takes care of the men when the Fathers who have charge of this Mission are absent, or are too much occupied; and his wife, who is not inferior to him, either in intelligence or in virtue, undertakes the instruction of the women, with such love and joyfulness that it is a pleasure to see their holy rivalry, each duly promoting the concerns of Gods F$, day, he visits all those whom he considers [Page 261] as having some good inclination, and addresses discourses to them, so filled with the spirit that possesses him that he penetrates into the very depths of their hearts, and makes the others feel a portion of what he himself feels. Therefore, he never goes to teach without first retiring within himself, and asking God to put the words into his mouth: “For,” he says, “I see very well that it is not I who speak to them, but I feel that things are said to me in my heart of which I can only express the smallest portion.”

I have wondered whether I should relate here a vision, or if you will, a dream that this man had. Whatever be the name by which it is called, [7r]. here is the account he himself has given of it. “I saw,” he said, “a cross in the Sky, all red with blood; and our Lord stretched thereon, with his head to the East and his feet to the West. I saw a crowd of people advancing from the West, whom our Lord attracted by his loving looks, and who did not dare to approach his sacred head, but remained respectfully at his feet. Remaining silent and quite astounded in the midst of that company, I heard a voice commanding me to pray. I did so, in holy awe, and felt in my’ soul emotions of fear and of love that surpass all my thoughts.” He had the same vision on three different occasions; but I would have paid no more heed to it than to a dream, were it not that the impressions that it has left in his heart are supernatural. These peoples of the West must come to adore the cross of Jesus Christ. We shall see in due time how he went last winter to the neutral nation, and how he preached the Faith. Meanwhile, I will content myself with saying that [Page 263] he neither wishes nor hardly is able to speak of anything else.

[72] His wife, his brothers, his children, all manifest the same spirit. God is their subject of conversation; Paradise is their hope, and sin their only fear; finally, if earth’s gifts fail them, those of Heaven flow abundantly. Even a little girl, barely three years old, participates in these graces. This child has so imbibed piety with her mother’s milk that she answers the Catechism in public, knows her prayers, and takes pleasure in unloosening her lisping tongue by speaking of God and of the beauties of Paradise, because, as she hears almost nothing but such discourses, she could hardly love anything else.

Father Charles Garnier and Father Simon le Moyne have had charge of this Mission. The number of Christians in it has increased in a marked degree. Among those who have received Holy Baptism, were three Captains who are persons of consideration. The first is named Thomas Sondakwa. Some years ago he had already a desire to become a Christian; he never felt anything but love for us, and for the things of the Faith, and has always lived in a [73] state of moral innocence and of goodness that made him loved by all. But as he saw that there was ill will against the Christians, and, moreover, as his office compelled him to uphold the superstitions of his country, which constitute the greater portion of their Councils, his courage was not strong enough to choose altogether what he only partly desired. After the death of a friend of his, who was a Christian, and of whom I have spoken in one of the earlier Chapters, God touched his heart more [Page 265] deeply. He commenced to receive instruction, he took pleasure in Heavenly things, and resolved publicly to embrace the Faith. Thereupon the Devil frightens him in dreams. Sometimes he sees before his eyes a Captain, who had been one of his old friends, who comes back from the other world, and reproaches him with his want of affection in seeking thus to separate himself forever from all those who had such affection for him. On another occasion, he sees one whose face he does not know, who puts in his mouth a morsel that is to make him very fortunate; and indeed, on awakening, he finds something on his tongue that he cannot recognize, and that an Infidel Huron would have considered as [74] a sign of good fortune, and would have preserved as a gift from some familiar Demon. For it is thus that the demons manifest themselves in these countries, under assumed shapes, — sometimes an owl’s claw, sometimes the skin of a hideous serpent, or similar things, that bring with them good luck in fishing and hunting, in trading and gambling. Some of them are even used as philters to attract love.

Our Catechumen was already too far advanced in the sentiments of the Faith to be frightened by such threats, or to yield to the Devil’s promises. He renounces all such hellish intercourse; he has recourse to God; and after his Baptism all these phantoms disappear. He at once makes a public profession of Faith, refuses to attend the Councils when anything forbidden by the laws of God is to be discussed, and wishes the entire country to know that he prefers the duty of a Christian to everything else. And the best part of all is, that in all this, — although he has manifested a truly heroic courage [Page 267] [75] by trampling on all human considerations, which prevail here not less than in France, — he nevertheless acts with such loving gentleness that those who are most hostile to the Faith can find nothing to blame in him. For this reason, this virtue of mildness is dear to his heart as the most powerful means of winning the Infidels to Jesus Christ.

“My brothers,” he often says to the Christians whom he exhorts, “let us preach to the Infidels by our examples, and let us, above all, be careful not to embitter them. A mind that is off ended turns against itself and against God. Truth appears to it only in the midst of a cloud; and it can have no love for virtue, however beautiful it may be, while it looks upon that as hostile to its own sin. Let us win them over to God by love; let us bear with their weakness; let us have compassion on their faults; let us not speak of our mysteries, if you will, provided that we make our lives so lovable by their innocence that the Infidels shall be constrained, in loving us, to love the Faith.”

The second of these Captains is named [76] Mathurin Astiskwa. He is of an altogether different humor from him whom I have just mentioned. He is all ardor, all fire and flame, and as he has an excellent mind, and is naturally eloquent, he cannot restrain his zeal. He must reprove vice; he must make war on sin; he must confound the Infidels; he must scoff at all their demons; he must speak of the greatness of God, of the beauty of the Faith, of the miserable condition in which men would be in this life, if the hope of eternal happiness did not lighten their troubles, did not moderate the inevitable fear of a death that is ever before their eyes, and [Page 269] did not satisfy the insatiate desire that they feel, of seeing themselves happy. “My heart,” he said, “belongs entirely to God, and, as I think but of him, I can speak of him alone. Heaven and earth and the waters, all call on me to praise him continually; and, even if I should cease to look upon the works that he exhibits before our eyes, in order to manifest himself, I would never cease to love him.” But what is excellent in this man is, that his actions speak more loudly than his words. He has renounced his office [77] of Captain, for fear that it might compel him to some offense against God. His mother, his wife, his relatives, all his village, are leagued against him; but nothing of all this has shaken him. “Poverty,” he said to us,” will not frighten me. God shall take the place of relatives and of my mother, and he alone shall be my support. Let my wife leave me, and deprive me of my children. It is true that I love them above all else in the world, but their love shall never prevent my love for God. My heart is prepared for everything. A glance toward Heaven makes all that I see on earth appear to me as nothing; and the Belief that I have in a hell causes me to look upon the miseries of this life as slight evils, which are unworthy of fear when there is a question of avoiding eternal unhappiness.” At last, his patience has won over the greatest Infidels; his courage has compelled them to admit that Faith lifts the heart above both the blessings and the misfortunes of this life; and his joy, that manifested itself in the midst of all these trials, has made them acknowledge that there are pleasures for mankind other than those of the body, and in which the senses have no share [Page 271]

[78] The third of these Neophyte Captains is the chief of a band of about three hundred warriors, who lived a day’s journey from the Iroquois that are nearest to the Hurons, but who, when they saw themselves exposed to the enemy, left their country about five years ago, brought their families here, and since then have been scattered here and there among the Huron villages. This Captain is named Martin Tehoachiakwan. He is a brave man, who breathes but war; and his life is but a series of combats. He was the intimate friend of the great warrior Eustache Ahatsistari, of whom we have already spoken, and had promised him during his lifetime that he would follow him in the Faith. But the misfortune that happened to his friend, so soon after he had received Baptism, made us suppose that those promises would not be fulfilled, — that, on the contrary, he would have an aversion to the Faith; that he would dread Baptism, and would be confirmed in the general opinion of these countries, that to become a Christian is to renounce life, and to call down death upon oneself. God however has turned our losses to our advantage. His ways are [7g] remote from our thoughts and he ordains that the death of one Christian shall be the seed and germ of another. It was then that this Captain, while still an Infidel, felt his heart more deeply touched, and began to fear hell-fire more than death; and then the thought of being one day happy in Heaven, with the soul of the friend whom he regretted, induced him to enter upon the road to it. “No,” he said to the Father who taught him, “thou wouldst already have baptized me if thou couldst have seen my heart; thou wouldst have been convinced that I wish to do right, and [Page 273] that, whatever happens, I desire to live and to die a Christian.” “Dost thou wish me to be damned p ‘p he said another time; “I am continually either hunting in the woods or fighting the enemy. Wherever I go, I am in danger of my life; and fire, rather than old age, will consume this carcass that thou seest. What will become of my soul, if thou dost not wash away my sins? Dost thou wish me to throw myself from one misfortune into another, and to die without being baptized?”

A day having been fixed for his Baptism, he gathered all his people together. “My nephews,” he said to them, [80] “the enemies are at our doors. Let all escape who can. Reproach me, if you have ever seen me pale in the midst of peril; but, this time, I confess to YOU that I have lost courage. I withdraw from misfortune; let who will, follow me; our affairs are in a desperate state.” They thought, when they heard him, that a hostile army was at the frontiers of the country, and that he had received sure news of it. Some thought of fighting, others of retreating; all were seized with fear. Finally, when he saw them thus moved, he began again to speak. “My nephews,” he said, “I do not fear the Iroquois; I dread the more inhuman cruelties of the devils in hell, in a fire that is never extinguished. I abandon you, without abandoning you, or rather I abandon your follies; I abandon our evil customs; from this moment, I renounce all kinds of sin, and know ye that tomorrow I shall be a Christian.”

These Baptisms of persons of such importance have brought about many others. But what consoles us still more is, to see that the spirit of Faith gains more and more the ascendancy in their [8 r] souls; [Page 275] that grace finds entrance into their hearts as much as into ours; and that, although they are born barbarians, they are none the less good Christians.

“My son,” said one of these good savages one day to his son, whom he was exhorting to good, ‘6 now that I am in the world 1 fear that thy faith is founded on mine. Whatever may happen to me, never desert the service of God; and, even if I should be slain, say always, with the same countenance, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven.’ Do not think of me while saying that prayer; but remember that he cannot die who should be the sole prop of thy faith and of mine, — who is thy Father and mine, and who alone should sustain thy hopes, even if thou shouldst see thyself abandoned by all men.” I know not whether God had given this good savage some presentiment of his approaching death. In any case, he was assassinated a few days afterward by a band of Iroquois. The child, who was barely fourteen years old, has so well imitated the virtue of his father, and his last words have produced such an impression on his mind, that I cannot doubt that this [8z] divine spirit, who so profoundly influences, from one extremity to the other, and who disposes of all things with gentleness for the salvation of his elect, had inspired both the heart and the voice of the father. Thus, at the same time, he prepared himself for a holy death, and the son for a godliness of life worthy of the name of Christian and of the Faith, that he has since preserved in spite of his mother and of all his Infidel relatives, at an age which has no resolution in a matter so remote from the feelings of nature except that which comes from Heaven.

This child has not been the only one who has been [Page 277] persecuted by his relatives on account of the Faith, Many have had need of similar courage. One has been compelled to wander here and there, and to seek his livelihood elsewhere, after having been driven from his cabin where they could not bear his observance of Christian duties. Others have banished themselves from their own dwellings; have deprived themselves of the comforts of life, and of the aid of their parents, — preferring to renounce the pleasures of such friendship, and to abandon this natural support, rather than soil the beauty of the grace that they had received [83] in Baptism. ‘I For,” they said, “the more affection we feel for our parents, the less horror we naturally have for their faults; and the more also should we fear that, in loving them, we may in the end love their sins.”

All the Christians of this Mission were greatly tried, especially at the end of the winter. For, as their number had become considerable, and they firmly persisted in refusing to join in the superstitious practices of the country, — so that those diabolical ceremonies were given up by many, and the debaucheries moderated to some extent, — the calumnies against the Faith redoubled. They asserted that it tended to the subversion of the country; that the sick remained without succor; that war ravaged everything more and more; that famine threatened them; that the most harmless amusements (thus they called their crimes) could hardly be indulged in; that wherever a Christian happened to be, they had to blush with shame or give up the thought of sin; that their ancestors did not live in such [843 restraint. They claimed that in those days the country flourished; that all these misfortunes had fallen on them [Page 279] since the word of God had commenced to be preached here; that the believers (such is the name of the Christians here) should either withdraw apart, or retain their Faith in the depths of their own souls, without condemning the customs of their forefathers in so public a manner; that these should not be invited either to councils or to feasts, and that all relations with them should be broken off, — or rather, if it were desired to preserve the country, a general Council should be called at once, to make those who were already of that party renounce the Faith, either willingly or by force. In a word, these calumnies went so far, and this hatred against the Faith became so public, that the Christians — who, at the beginning, did not think that matters would come to such a pass — considered it necessary to avert the storm as soon as possible.

They assemble for that purpose, and seek means whereby to parry the blow. But the more they speak of it, the less clearly do they see. Finally, one of them [85] addressing the others, says, “My brothers, these are God’s affairs more than ours. It is for him to allay these tempests, and for us to suffer joyfully, or at least patiently, as long as he chooses. Such are the sentiments that God gives me; tell me yours, because, as our hearts are but one in the Faith, they should have no secrets from one another when we are attacked as Christians.” “For my part,” said one, “when I hear those calumnies, and when insults follow me, I go on my way; I look upon those poor Infidels as baying hounds. What matters it to me what they say or what they do to me, provided 1 go to Heaven?” “I turn toward them,” says another, “and tell them to take courage, to [Page 281] continue to curse me; that God does good to me when they do evil to me; and that, by uttering such insults to me, they call down on me a multitude of blessings that are unknown to them.” "My heart,” says a third, “would sometimes like to be revenged; but when I think that Jesus Christ, while on earth, endured more than that, 1 console myself, and [q beg him to give me courage to the end.” Each one tells his thoughts, and, after all, they acknowledge that God is ever true to himself; that he is the God of peace and the God of consolation; and that the more we endure for him the less shall we be afraid of suffering.

In conclusion, “My brothers,” says Estienne Totiri to them, “since in this meeting you look upon me as your Captain, here is the result of this Council, and the thought that God gives me: let us dread nothing but sin.”

I know not how these storms will end; but I am not without hope of seeing, in a few years, martyrs for the Faith in these countries, and perhaps we shall not be the first. The fervor of some one of these good Neophytes will deserve that favor from Heaven. At least, I see some whom God seems to be preparing for that grace, who disregard their lives, and look upon such a death as a reward for what they do and wish to do for the advancement of the Faith. In any case, such desires are not within the scope of nature; and, when we see them in [87] the heart of a barbarian, we are compelled to admit that it is a work of God, who does more for it than we, and who wishes to derive from it his glory. It is for us to follow him, and to rest our hopes firmly on him, [Page 283] whatever opposition hell and earth may offer to the conversion of these peoples.

I had intended, at the end of this Chapter, to relate some sentiments of these good Christians, but fear of being tedious induces me to omit them. It is enough that Heaven sees them, and that Eternity will give us every leisure to bless the Author of such graces, who is everywhere true to himself, and rich and abundant in his mercies. One or two things more before finishing.

A good man, sixty years of age, his wife, and two of their children, all Christians, heard that one of their relatives was dying in the midst of the woods, and that a little child, still at the breast, could not outlive her mother. They were filled with compassion, and with the desire to save the mother and the child at least for Heaven. They all had themselves taught the formula [88] of Baptism; started in company, in very bad weather, at the end of the winter; performed a three days’ journey through deep snow and, during most of the time, on the ice of a lake which was broken here and there, — presenting so many pitfalls that they could hardly go a hundred paces on that lake without seeing themselves in danger of death, and some of them even sank deep into the water. Finally, after great labor and many fears, they found the poor sick woman, baptized her child, and succored both of them with the restoratives that they carried with them; and I have no doubt that Heaven took pleasure in that act of charity, and that God has chosen to bless it. At present, the mother and child are full of life, and this Christian family is making daily progress in the sentiments of Faith. “No,” they said on their return, “we would never [Page 285] have thought that there were pleasures so sweet in the midst of perils. We all feared death, at almost every step that we took on the ice; but that fear was a pleasant one. We were at the same [89] time both in fear and in joy, and we never prayed to God so heartily and so lovingly. We did not venture to ask him either for death or for life. ‘My God,’ we said to him continually, ‘you see our hearts and why we are on this journey. Dispose of our lives according to your will. May our troubles be agreeable to you. After this, whatever may happen, our minds are content. If we are drowned in these waters, we shall be happy in Heaven.’”

We have introduced here in the Huron country, among the Christians, the custom of wearing their rosaries around their necks as a sign of their Faith. We see the good effects of it. ‘I I know not,” said an infidel woman one day to a young Christian, ‘I what can have altered the beauty of thy character. Since thou wearest that rosary, thou art no longer what thou wert; and I myself have not the assurance to say to thee those soft words with which thou didst formerly so often forestall me. It is doubtless because that rosary bewitches thee. Remove it from thy neck, and I will speak to thee.” In fact, the devotion felt by all our Christians either for saying [go] their rosary, or for wearing it as a sacred pledge of what God is to them, and of what they wish to be to him, and the love that they have for the Virgin, deserve that Heaven should protect them with most powerful assistance, — that it should be their shield and their defense, especially as regards chastity in a country where shamelessness is classed as a virtue. But, above all, they meet about noon on Festival [Page 287] days and on Sundays, to recite it all together; they do this in two choirs, who respond to each other with such sweetness that it is easy to see that that sort of prayer causes special delights to their souls.

I shall conclude this Chapter with the death of a Christian woman, which, without doubt, must have been most precious in the sight of God. Her name was Christine Tsorihia, and she had been baptized in the year 1639. She was the mother of that excellent Christian of whom I have already spoken, Estienne Totiri; and I can truly say that, from the moment of her conversion, she had always progressed in the practice of the highest virtues of Christianity, — but, above all, in a love for the sufferings [9x] and afflictions of this life, which, she said, seemed to her full of sweetness since she had known that this afflicted body will one day rise again, to enjoy a glory that will be without end. She received the Sacraments with sentiments of a piety full of affection. Among other things, she had a very tender devotion to the blessed Virgin. I have no doubt that in Heaven she will enjoy forever the fruits of that devotion; but I know not whether, even before death, she did not feel the sweetness thereof. At least, this is what happened to her some hours before her death. When her agony approached, she had already lost the use and sense of her sight. She suddenly exclaimed, as if astonished and ravished with admiration: “O my son, seest thou not the rare beauty of that great Lady, all brilliant with light, who stands at my side? Seest thou not that beautiful book that she carries open in her hands? Hearest thou not those words of love? Oh, how much better she speaks to me than our brothers, the French! [Page 289] How her words penetrate deep into my heart! [92] How amiable she is, and how beautiful it is to see her!” The good woman spoke to one of her sons an excellent Christian named Paul Okatakwan. “My mother, you are dreaming,” said the young man to her; “I see nothing, and how can you see what you say you do, since your eyes are closed?” “No, no my son,” replied the mother; “1 am not at all mistaken, nor do I wish to deceive thee. See on the other side those young Frenchmen who accompany her; they are the handsomest 1 have ever seen, What rich clothes they wear! But listen rather to what that Lady says to me! Oh, how beautiful it is to see her.” Thereupon she passed away in death. She was the second who was buried in our Cemetery of sainte Marie, for she was carried there from her own village, where she died, about six leagues distant, according to the wish that she had expressed in her lifetime.

We were more than eight months without knowing these particulars of her death; for her son Paul did not pay more heed to that vision than if it had been a dream, thinking that there could be no other sight but that of the [g3] eyes. One day, by accident, he related the whole story to his elder brother, Estienne Totiri, who finally told it to us some days ago, as he was about to leave for the war, saying that, as for him, he believed that those young Frenchmen of such rare beauty were Angels from Heaven, who accompanied the most blessed Virgin, for whom his mother always had such a tender devotion. [Page 291]




LAST year we received the first news from Quebec through two Hurons who, after wintering there, returned up here at the end of the spring, landed at our doors, and handed us some packages of letters that they had saved from a wreck in which they lost all their own property. “But,” they said, “we have not lost what we value more than our property and our lives. Father Brébeuf has been our master. The Faith has found [g4] entrance to our hearts. The examples of the French and converted Algonquins that we have seen; the zeal and charity of those holy women, the Nuns; the love borne to the Christians by the French Captains, and by those women of great courage who have crossed the seas to hasten the moment of our conversion; the support that Onontio gives to the Faith” (that is, Monsieur de Montmagny, our Governor)” and the esteem that he manifests for it above all things; his virtue, that we saw as often as his face, —“these,” said they, “are proofs which have compelled us to admit that the truths announced to us by so many people deserve above all things to be adored: and that the God of the Christians must, in truth, be all-powerful, since so many persons of merit exert themselves so holily in his service. In a word,” they [Page 293] said, “we went down to Quebec infidels, and we come back Christians.”

They both belonged to the village of St. Michel, One was named Paul Atondo and the other Jean Baptiste Aotiokwandoron. [95] AS soon as they had arrived, they were welcomed on all sides, and were asked what fortune they had had. Paul Atondo spoke, as he is a Captain. “Know, my brothers,” he said, “that I have promised God to live and to die in his service: that I am baptized; that I glory in being a Christian. If I have been of an irritable temper, and if many have feared me, wait some months before pronouncing judgment on me. The French, by baptizing me, have taken away all the evil that was in my soul. My heart is quite changed, and YOU will see that gentleness has entered into my mind with Faith. Have yourselves baptized, my brothers; let all fear hell. Our misfortunes will cease; we shall no longer have traitors in our councils, who receive pensions from the enemy for discovering our plans to him. Theft will be banished from among us; envy will be known only by name; calumny will hide its head; our hatred will exist but for vice; and, out of a land of misfortune, we shall make a country of blessedness.” Thereupon he took a Crucifix in his hand. “My brothers,” he added, “I have believed with you [g6] that it was this that caused sickness and that depopulated our villages. I was one of the first to say that its looks were venomous and caused death. Our sins close our eyes to the light. Faith has made the scales drop that caused my blindness. Now it is this Crucified one that I adore. Him alone I acknowledge as the master of our lives, as the author of our salvation.” [Page 295]

Such a change, in a man whom one would have believed to be among the last to embrace the Faith, astonished the minds of all, but his constancy excited more admiration in them, a few days later. Misfortune suddenly came upon him; death deprived him of his only child; a niece — who in this country is a surer support for a man than are his own children — was carried off at the same time by sickness; two Iroquois, who were hidden behind a tree, rushed from their ambush and murdered, in the middle of her field, the only sister that remained to him. “Such disasters would have stunned me if I had not Faith,” he said to the Infidels; “and now I [g7] see that a Christian’s riches are not without him, — that he carries his treasure in his heart; and that the hope of Heaven fortifies a soul more than all the misfortunes on earth can have strength to cast it down.” Enough life yet remained to his sister to secure her salvation. The good Neophyte spoke to her of Paradise and of hell, and made her detest her sins. She asked for Baptism, and he, who had never administered that rite, commended her to God; baptized her, as far as he was able; and, in order, as he said, that she might be more surely baptized, he made her renew her acts, and repeated her Baptism five or six times. But none of them had any effect, one more than another; for, although water was not wanting in her Baptism, he had forgotten the formula, or had never learned it. “Thou art the Master of her life, thou who hast made Heaven and earth. It matters not if she die, provided that her soul be happy in Heaven. It is thou who hast placed Faith in her heart, and now I baptize her, in order that thou mayst have mercy on her and wipe out her sins.”.[Page 297] Such are the words that he used at the [g8] Baptism, But the God of mercy, who never fails the elect, had consideration for his charity, and for the sincere Faith of this poor woman, who had more desire to belong to him entirely at death than she felt regret for life. Her strength returned for a little while. The fervent Neophyte ran five leagues without stopping, to our House, to get one of us. Two of our Fathers hastened thither; they found the woman quite prepared for Heaven, to which her soul soared, shortly after she was baptized.

I think no less highly of Jean Baptiste Aotiokwandoron than of Paul Atondo. It is true that he is not a person of as much importance; that he is less fluent of speech. But I think that his heart is none the less touched, and in his manner of acting we see something, I know not what, that seems more vivified by the Holy Ghost. At all events, these two good Neophytes and a number of other Christians, who were already in their village, with several Catechumens, urged us so strongly at the end of the Autumn to make a longer stay [99] with them, to instruct them more at leisure, and not to deprive them of the same consolation that we gave to the villages of la Conception, of St. Joseph, and of St. Jean Baptiste, that we could not resist such holy desires. It was necessary to erect a Chapel and to establish a more permanent Mission than we had hitherto had there.

Father Joseph Marie Chaumonot and Father François du Peron have had charge of it; and God gave me the consolation, during about two months of the winter, of seeing the first fervor of that Church.

When the Christians were again united, after their [Page 299] return from fishing and from their journeys, they held a Council among themselves to incite one another more Strongly to virtue; and they bound themselves to it anew, by a public protestation of their Faith. Afterward, they called those who were preparing for Baptism, and said to them, “My brothers, not by your lips alone must you testify to the Faith that is in your hearts. Your works will be surer evidence than your words. Abandon at once the (too] idea that you have of becoming Christians, if you are not all resolved to maintain the name by the purity of your lives. You have to fight against the Demons of hell, who for so many ages have kept us in their bondage. We have as many enemies of our salvation as there are men in these countries. Consider that your fathers and mothers, and even your children, are those whom you have most to fear. Resist the emotions of nature, and listen not to your hearts, that will be the first to betray you if you rely too much upon them. In a word, to be a Christian, my brothers, is to detest evil; and it is better to die than to sin.” At these words, the Catechumens exclaimed that therefore they were Christians; that they were all resolved to believe in God, and to obey him unto death. Indeed, they begged so earnestly for Baptism that we could not defer it. But it is necessary that Faith meet with resistance everywhere; and, if it be not born in persecutions, it is to be feared that it will not have enough strength to sustain itself, and to grow in holy actions.

[101] Some Island Algonquins wintered here this year with the Hurons; and one of their Captains, called Agwachimagan, and by the Frenchmen le Charbon [“the Coal “I, did not fail to play one of [Page 301] the tricks of his trade. When this wretched man — whose soul is a thousand times blacker than the name that he bears, and who is a very firebrand against the Faith and the French — arrived at the village of saint Michel, he secretly gathered the Captains together, and said to them:” My brothers, I have always had as much love for you as I have had hate for the Iroquois, our common enemies, — whose cruelty I experienced, as you know, last year, when I was their prisoner on two occasions, and escaped each time from their hands, when they were about to burn me alive. I learn that your village is moved by the discourses of the black gowns; that several have already received Baptism; that a larger number desire it; and that you yourselves lend ear to discourses that, in sooth, charm them at first. But you are doubtless ignorant, my brothers, to what these promises of eternal life tend. I have been among the French at [102] Quebec and at the Three Rivers. They have taught me the very substance of their doctrine. I know everything about matters of the Faith. But, the more I fathomed their mysteries, the less clearly did I see. They are fables, invented to inspire us with real fear of an imaginary fire; and, in the false hope of good that can never come to us, we involve ourselves in inevitable dangers. I do not speak without having had experience of it. Some years ago, you saw the Algonquins in such numbers that we were the terror of our enemies. Now we are reduced to nothing; disease has exterminated us; war has decimated us; famine pursues us, wherever we go. It is the Faith that brings these misfortunes upon us. That you may not doubt that what I say is true, when I went down to Quebec two Years ago, to [Page 303] see what had been the result of the Faith of the Montagnais and Algonquins who had received Baptism I was shown a house full of one-eyed, lame, crippled: and blind persons; of fleshless skeletons; and of people who all carried death on [ION) their countenances. Such are the appanages of the Faith. That is the House that they esteem” (he spoke of the hospital built near Quebec for the sick); “those are the people upon whom they fawn, because to resolve to be’ a Christian is to resign oneself to all those miseries. Besides that, one must expect to be no longer lucky either in fishing or in hunting. Finally, my brothers,” he added, “if today I saw the whole of your village become Christian I would be satisfied to be considered the greatest impostor in the world if one of you remained alive before the end of the third year. For my part, I foresaw those misfortunes caused by the Faith. In vain did I predict them to those who, after refusing to believe me, acknowledged but too late, after their misfortune, that they were deceived. Has any Christian escaped, as I have, from the clutches of a thousand deaths prepared for him? If their God be in reality the Almighty, why does he leave them in opprobrium, why does he not break their chains? why is he not their liberator? why does he not show in a country where he wishes to be acknowledged that it is truly good [104] to have him for one’s Sovereign? But since those who refuse to worship him are happier than those who are his subjects, if you, my brothers, like me, have any feeling and love for yourselves, for your children, and for your country, choose with me to consider him rather as an enemy than as a friend.”

This wretched being, ill favored by nature, was more [Page 305] than half deaf, and bore in his own person the answer to his greatest calumny. But, as there was no one to take part for God, and to ask this man whether it was his faith or his impiety that had caused such infirmity, and had deprived him of his children, his brothers, and his nephews, — whom death had found in the woods, when they fled with him from those appeals for their salvation, — he produced such an effect on the minds of his auditors and inspired them with so great fear of the misfortunes that threatened them, that the terror thereof spread at once through the village. Then the ungodly triumphed; the weak lost heart; and many who seemed not far from the Kingdom of God decided to wait, and [105] see what success the Faith would have with the others who remained attached to it. Meanwhile, the Christians continued steadfast; their courage rose; they spoke as boldly as ever; and we could see in this Church that, if the Devil has power over those who are not yet freed from his slavery by the sacrament of Baptism, those sacred waters lift a soul above earthly fears, and cause it to dread only God and sin.

I see very well that I shall repeat a portion of the same things that have been said in the preceding Chapters, if I undertake to relate here the sentiments of the Christians of this Mission, for our Lord gives them the same affection and the same will. I shall merely say, in passing, that God has also given to this Church a Preacher of its own nation, and if you wish, an Apostle who worthily upholds its interests; his name is Barnabe Otsinonannhont. This man has always been one of the leading personages of his tribe, on account of his birth (for they have their nobility here, as well as in France, and are as [Page 307] proud of it); but his mind, which is most [1o6] excellent, and his courage, which has made him the terror of the enemy’s country, have made him still more remarkable. In a word, he is one of those persons who bear on their foreheads something, I know not what, that is worthy of empire, and to see him with a bow or a sword in his hand, one would think him an animated portrait of those ancient Casars of whom in Europe we see but pictures all dimmed with smoke. Faith has made an excellent Christian of him. We shall relate in some of the following Chapters how he went last winter to preach the name of God in the most distant parts of the neutral Nation. Before leaving here and since his return, wherever he goes, impiety must be confounded and God glorified. He penetrates to the very heart, and speaks so strongly of the mysteries of our Faith, that the greatest infidels who listen to him at leisure are compelled to admit that they would wish the entire country to be Christian. But not all those who approved of what our Lord said, ranged themselves on his side. This is sufficient, and we must be content that, in calling all to the Faith, only those submit to it [107] who bear the mark of the elect.

Before concluding this Chapter, I cannot omit a rather remarkable incident that happened, some time ago, to this good Christian. He was in the middle of a great lake in a small bark canoe, in company with some Infidels. A storm surprised them; the Sky was full of thunder and lightnings; and the water presented as many precipices as they saw waves before them. After having in vain exhausted both their skill and their strength in resisting the tempest, they began to despair; they invoked a certain Demon named [Page 309] Iannaoa, who, they say, once cast himself into this lake in his despair, and causes all these storms when he wishes to revenge himself upon men; and he calms them after men have paid him some homage. In his honor,, they throw tobacco into the water, which in these countries is a kind of sacrifice. “Courage, my comrades,” said the good Neophyte to them. “We shall soon perish, since you call misfortune to your aid. For my part, I would willingly die, rather than owe my life to the Demons, for whom I [108] have nothing but hatred.” “Wretched man,” said the Infidels to him, “invoke then thy God, and we will acknowledge his power, if’ he delivers us from death.” Meanwhile the canoe took in water, the waves came pouring upon them, and the steersman abandoned the care of his vessel and of his life. Thereupon Barnabe called out, “Great God, who art obeyed by tempests, have pity on us.” At that moment the fury of the winds was appeased; the mountains of water fell to their level; they saw all over the lake a calm, that was so favorable to their designs that they reached the shore without difficulty — But those Infidel minds refused to give the glory thereof to God; they said that it was the Demon whom they had invoked that had granted their prayers; and that it was his custom to save them from danger, even when they were in still deeper despair. After that they were pressed by famine and had no other provisions than their bows and arrows. “Let thy God make thee catch a deer,” they said to the good Christian, “since thou sayest that he is as powerful in the woods as on the water.” “Let your Demons,” he replied, “make you kill a wild cow today.” [109] They started off in different directions, [Page 311] to seek in the vast forests for something wherewith to satisfy their hunger. Hardly had Barnabe gone a quarter of a league than he came upon a young deer. He pierced it with his arrows, skinned it on the spot, loaded himself with the pleasant burden, returned to the place where their baggage had been left, and prepared supper, which awaited the absent ones. At night my hunters returned, hungrier and less burdened than when they started. The Christian waited for them on the road; and, when they saw only his quiver in his hand, they said, “Thy God has been deaf to thy prayers this time. Some other day, when thou shalt be more fortunate, then he will have heard thee.” “No, no,” he said, “we live only at his expense; your impiety has not prevented him from doing good to us; but you deserve to die here of hunger; he treats you as a kind father treats wicked children, who he hopes will one day acknowledge their errors.” [Page 313]


(Figures in parentheses, following the number of note, refer to pages of English text.)

[1] (p. 29). — See sketch of Bressani, vol. xxiii., note 10.

[2] (p. 31). — Rivière Murguerie: evidently named for the interpreter François Marguerie (vol. x., note 4). Martin observes (Bressany, p. 18, note): “ This little river has not retained its name; but we think it may be recognized in the stream now known as Rivière aux Glaïses.”

[3] (p. 35). — Concerning these rapids, see vol. viii., note 25; and vol. xii., note 29.

[4] (p. 37). — This Wolf tribe seems to have been the Wolf clan of the Mohegan tribes, — Algonkins, allied to the Pequots and Narragansetts of New England. These Mohegans (Mohicans, Mahicans) occupied the banks of the Hudson, between the Iroquois on the north and the Lenape tribes on the south; and, later, the valley of the Connecticut River. Two noted chiefs among them were Uncas and Konkapot, — the latter a chief in the Housatonic tribe, occupying the river valley of that name, and (after 1736) the town of Stockbridge, Mass., by the name of which the tribe was afterward known. Missionary work among these Indians was begun in 1734, by Rev. John Sergeant, a tutor at Yale College, and continued by David Brainerd and Jonathan Edwards. In 1785, the Stockbridges removed to land given them by the Oneidas, in Madison county, N. Y.: and finally, in 1822-29, to Wisconsin, where they now occupy the Stockbridge reservation, in Shawano county. See Davidson’s Muh-he-ka-ne-ok, a History of the Stockbidge Nation (Milw., 1893).

[5] (p. 123). — All the aborigines of America have used, from the earliest times, various styles of cradles or cradle boards for infants, serving at once as bed, vehicle, and playhouse. The cradle board here referred to is thus described by Sagard (Voy. Hurons, Tross ed., pp. 118, 119): “During the day, they swaddle their children upon a small board, — on which there is sometimes a rest or little strip of wood, bent half round under the feet. This they set upright against the side of the Cabin, except when they carry the children while walking, with this board behind the mother’s back, [Page 315] attached by a collar worn over her forehead. . . . The child is swaddled upon this board, which is usually adorned with little Matachias [vol. ii. of this series, note 17] and strings of Porcelain; . . . they place under it very soft down, from certain reeds, upon which the child sleeps very comfortably.” Lafitau gives a similar, but more minute, description (Mœus des Sauvages, vol. i., pp. 593-595). The subject is fully treated by Mason, in his “Cradles of the American Aborigines,” U. S. Natl. Museum Rep., 1887, pp. 161-235. Cf. additional information thereon, given by the same writer, in Id., 1894, pp. 490- 537.

[6] (p. 125). — Cf. Accounts of Huron belief in regard to the souls of the departed, and their occupations in their own land, given by Brebeuf (vol. x., pp. 141- 155) and Le Jeune (vol. xii., p. 29).

[7] (p. 187). — Ondesonk: this Huron appellation of Jogues is said by Beschefer (in a letter dated Oct. 4,1666, preserved in the archives of St. Mary’s College, Montreal) to mean “a bird of prey.” The same name was given to Beschefer also.

[8] (p. 205). — See, regarding Indian textile fabrics, vol. xxiii., note 2.