The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents
Travels and Explorations
of the Jesuit Missionaries
in New France
THE ORIGINAL FRENCH, LATIN, AND ITALI-
IAN TEXTS, WITH ENGLISH TRANSLA-
TIONS AND NOTES; ILLUSTRATED BY
PORTRAITS, MAPS, AND FACSIMILES
Reuben Gold Thwaites
Secretary of the State historical Society of Wisconsin
COMPUTERIZED TRANSCRIPTION BY
Lower Canada, Abenakis, Louisiana
CLEVELAND: The Burrows Brothers
Company, PUBLISHERS, M DCCCC
THE JESUIT RELATIONS
The edition consists of sev-
en hundred and fifty sets
The Burrows Brothers Co.
(Scan of Page to be Inserted)
Pierre François-Xavier De Charlevoix, S.J.
Portrait of Pierre François-Xavier de Charlevoix, S.J.; photo-engraving from oil portrait by Donald Guthrie McNab
The Burrows Company
all rights reserved
The Imperial Press, Cleveland
Reuben Gold Thwaites
| Finlow Alexander
| Percy Favor Bicknell
| William Frederic Giese
| Crawford Lindsay
| William Price
| Hiram Allen Sober
Emma Helen Blair
Victor Hugo Paltsits
CONTENTS OF VOL. LXVII.
Preface To Volume LXVII.
Arrêts du Conseil de Marine touchant les Sauvages Chrétiens en Canada. [Paris], April 1, 1716
Mémoire du P. Lafitau: Sur la boisson [vendue] aux Sauvages. [Arrêt du Conseil, Paris], October 30, 1718
Arrêt du Conseil du Roi touchant l’Établissement Jésuite a Montreal. [Paris], March 16, 1720
Deux lettres au P. Sebastien Rale, 1721. Michel Begon, Quebec, June 14, 1721; Philippe, marquis de Vaudreuil, Quebec, September 25, 1721
Lettre au R. P. Pierre de Lauzon, a Montréal. Julien Garnier; n.p., July 10, 1721
Arrêt du Conseil du Roi: Les Missionnaires du Sault St. Louis, 1722. [Paris], May 12, 1722
Lettre à M. son neveu. Sébastien Rasles; Nanrantsouak, October 15, 1722
Sur 1’état present des Abnaquis. Jean Baptiste Loyard; n. p., [1722 ca.]
Lettre écrite. a Mr. le Marquis de Vaudreuil. Joseph Aubry; St. françois, October 3, .1723
Lettre à Monsieur son Frère. Sébastien Rasles; Narantsouak, October 12, 1723
Lettre au Père * * * . Pierre Joseph de la Chase; Quebec, October 29, 1724
Lettre au Père Patouillet. Paul du Poisson; [Aux Akensas, 1726]
Deux lettres à Monsieur de la Loë. Nicolas I. de Beaubois; Nouvelle Orleans, November 2, 1726, and May 11, 1727
Lettre au Père * * * . Paul du Poisson; aux Akensas, October 3, 1727
Bibliographical Data; Volume LXVII.
[INSERT GRAPHIC HERE]
ILLUSTRATIONS TO VOL. LXVII.
Portrait of Pierre François-Xavier de Charlevoix, S.J.; photo-engraving from oil portrait by Donald Guthrie McNab
Portrait of Joseph François Lafitau, S.J.; photo-engraving from oil portrait by Donald Guthrie McNab
View of Quebec, in 1722; from La Potherie
Map of Montreal and its environs, in 1722; from La Potherie
Facsimile of a portion of Julien Garnier’s letter to Pierre de Lauzon, July 10, 1721
Facsimile of handwriting of Jean Baptiste Loyard, S.J.; selected from his État present des Abnaquis
Memorial tablet of St. Jean Baptiste mission chapel, on River St. John, N.B
PREFACE TO VOL. LXVII
Following is a synopsis of the documents contained in this volume:
CLXXXVIII. The intendant and governor of Canada having requested from the French government a grant of 2,000 francs, to aid in the removal of the Sault St. Louis mission near Montreal to a more commodious location, the Council of Marine orders (April 1, 1716) that the above sum be granted for that purpose.
Another decree, passed on the same day, concerns the savages of Acadia. The English are endeavoring to seduce them from their loyalty to the French. The Canadian officials write that the missionaries among these Indians do all in their power to retain them in their fidelity, and advise that the missions be aided — especially by the erection of the churches which are needed at two of the mission stations in Acadia. Some of the Abenakis settled at St. François and Becancourt desire to return to their former location in Maine; but Vaudreuil, who is now in France, disapproves this step, and urges that all practicable efforts be employed to retain them at St. François. The council accepts his advice, and also orders that the funds be supplied for the churches desired in Acadia. In all these matters, the [Page 11] Canadian officials have consulted Father Aubery, the Jesuit missionary at St. François, and apparently follow his advice.
CLXXXIX. This is a memorial by Lafitau, addressed to the Council regarding the evils of the liquor traffic among the savages. He points out the baneful results of this commerce, which is injurious not only to the savages, but to the habitants at large, and to the merchants engaged in the fur-trade. Moreover, the outcome of these evils will be the alienation of the savages from the French, and their intimacy and traffic with the English. In view of all these considerations, he urges the government to forbid the sale of liquor to the savages. The council decide (Oct. 30, 1718) to maintain the prohibitions decreed two years before, but that “permission should be given to convey brandy in moderate quantities to the places proposed by Monsieur de Vaudreuil.” But a note at the end, probably written by the prime minister, directs the Canadian officials to restrict within the legal limit the permits to trade, during the coming year, and then to refuse their further issuance; also to forbid any transportation of brandy by these licensed traders, “even for the voyageurs’ use.”
CXC. The Canadian Jesuits petition the king for money with which to maintain their Montreal establishment, for a reduction of taxes on their property there, and for the preservation of a small orchard which they fear will be ruined “by the prolongation of unnecessary streets.” This request is granted by the council (March 16, 1720).
CXCI. Begon, the intendant of Canada, writes (June 14, 1721) to Father Rale, who is in charge of [Page 12] the mission to the Acadian savages, regarding affairs in that country, especially the mutual relations of the resident English, French, and Indians. Vaudreuil cannot persuade the Abenakis at St. François and Becancourt to remain there, instead of returning to Acadia; but he sends with them a Jesuit, La Chasse, and warns them to “speak Firmly to the Englishman.” Rale is requested to explain to La Chasse all matters of importance. Presents have been given to Abenaki envoys sent by Rale; they are well content therewith. The general line of policy at present followed by the Canadian authorities is, not to commit themselves, but to await instructions from the Court — either to openly join the savages against the English, or to furnish ammunition, etc. to the Indians if they come to hostilities with the heretics.
A second letter to Rale is written (September 25, 1721) by Vaudreuil, the governor. He congratulates the missionary upon his success in keeping the Abenakis loyal to the French. The governor advises that the savages expel the English from their territories as soon as possible; and he is sending to them large supplies of ammunition, with the promise of all aid that they may need besides. Vaudreuil highly commends the loyalty of the chief Waourene, which he is rewarding substantially. Others, who have been beguiled by the English, will feel the force of his displeasure.
CXCII. Julien Garnier writes a short letter to Pierre de Lauzon, a Jesuit at Montreal, relative to a theft committed against one of the former’s Indian protégées, desiring Lauzon to explain the matter to Ramezay, the governor of Montreal. Garnier also [Page 13] complains of a tavern-keeper named Parent, who entices the Indians into his place and makes them intoxicated.
CXCIII. About 1720, the Iroquois of Sault St. Louis send a request to Vaudreuil, the governor, for the restoration of their missionary, Pierre de Lauzon; and also request him not to reëstablish among them a French garrison. The governor refers this matter to the royal council; the request of the savages is reinforced by earnest arguments from the Jesuit missionaries, and by a somewhat reluctant statement from the bishop of Quebec. The council finally directs Vaudreuil to remove the garrison, “unless he deem it absolutely necessary,” and the matter is left to his discretion.
CXCIV. Sebastien Rale writes (October 15, 1722) to his nephew an account of his mission among the Abenakis of Maine. He describes its location, and the usual routine of his duties; his participation in the councils of the savages, wherein his “advice always determines their decisions;” and his mode of life, which is practically the same as that of his flock.
“The whole Abnakis Nation is Christian, and is very zealous in preserving its Religion.” Even the great advantages offered them by trade with the English do not allure them from the French alliance and the Catholic religion. Rale narrates various attempts of the English to seduce the Indians, and several instances of the bravery shown by the latter in the presence of an enemy; also the dissensions and disputes that arise between the savages and the English, who encroach upon the territory of the former. They also seize Anselm St. Castin and carry [Page 14] him to Boston; and, in the winter before the date of this letter, they even attempt to capture Rale himself. This undertaking he describes in full; he narrowly escapes the enemy, by taking flight into the forest. These “insults” arouse the savages to hostility; and they solicit all the neighboring tribes to aid them against the English — even sending envoys to the Hurons and Abenakis of Canada.” War is sung” among all these, and a conference is appointed at Narantsouak (Norridgewock), Rale’s station, to agree on a plan of action. Accordingly, the prospect is that war will soon break out in Maine. Rale’s disciples urge him to take refuge in Canada, but he refuses to leave them.
CXCV. This is a rough draft of a memorial by Father Loyard, missionary at Medoktek, New Brunswick, — apparently intended for the information of the French government in its proceedings at the Congress of Cambray (held in 1722). Loyard endeavors to impress upon his government the importance of holding to their loyalty the Abenaki tribes, as they constitute the strongest defenses of Canada. The French court should, accordingly, secure action by the Congress to stop the English encroachments in Acadia. If this be not done, the Abenakis will come to terms with the English, who will soon gain their friendship, — especially by showing them “that France has not cared for them except when it has had need of them,” and is governed only by selfish motives in its dealings with them. “This reasoning is within the range of the Savages, and the proof of it would be too plain for them not to yield thereto.” But if the Court “stop the usurpations of the English, the Abnaquis will become more and more [Page 15] attached to France, . . . and in this way the safety of Canada will be thoroughly provided for.” Loyard recommends an increase of the annual gratuity now given to the frontier Abenakis, and the gift of a royal medal, which will be to them a constant assurance of the king’s protection.
CXCVI. Joseph Aubery writes (October 3, 1723) to Governor Vaudreuil, mentioning the recent but unsuccessful attempt of the Wisconsin Foxes to secure an alliance with the Abenakis, in order to wage war against the Algonkins. Aubery thanks Vaudreuil for having foiled a previous scheme of the Foxes of the same sort. If he had not done so, the Abenakis would now be “both without Christianity and without affection for the French, in that country of the Renards.”
CXCVII. This is a letter from Rale to his brother (dated October 12, 1723), giving a sketch of his missionary life in New France. He describes the cabins, clothing, adornment, occupations, and canoes of the Abenakis. In living among them, Rale was at first most annoyed by their mode of eating; “nothing could be more revolting.” But his host says: “Thou must conquer thyself; is that a very difficult thing for a Patriarch, who thoroughly understands how to pray? We ourselves overcome much, in order to believe that which we do not see,” — an unanswerable argument.
Rale, like his predecessors, finds the Indian languages exceedingly difficult, either to understand or to learn. He describes those of the Abenakis and the Hurons, and gives specimens of these, and of other tongues. After spending nearly two years among the Abenakis, Rale is assigned to the Illinois [Page 16] mission. After a journey full of danger and privation, he reaches Mackinac too late in the season to proceed farther; he accordingly spends the winter there, and labors in that mission. He gives a curious account of the legends current among the Ottawas regarding their origin and the creation of the world, and of their superstitious belief in manitous.
In the spring of 1692, Rale proceeds to his field. He describes the great Illinois village, the feast with which those savages greeted him, and their eloquence; their dress, occupations, and dances: their weapons and hunting, and the abundance of game in their country — especially the buffalo, of which animals they kill over 2,000 every year. Rale describes the methods of war pursued by these savages, and the cruel torments inflicted upon their captives. After two years’ stay with the Illinois, Rale is recalled to Quebec (1694), in order to undertake the Abenaki mission in Maine, which he has since that time served.
The piety of these savages is a source of great joy to their missionary. Most of them “preserve the innocence that they received at baptism;” and, in the confessional, “it is often with difficulty that I can find anything that requires absolution.” In 1697, envoys from a neighboring tribe come to Rale’s village, to offer their sympathy for the death of a prominent chief. The missionary harangues them, to induce them to embrace the Christian religion. Several months later, Rale visits this tribe, and baptizes all its members.
He discusses the relations between these Indians and the English; the heretics have never been able to secure any foothold among these zealous Christian [Page 14] savages. A conference between them and the English has no result; and, war occurring soon afterward between France and England, the Abenakis ravage the New England frontiers, and seize more than six hundred English as captives. Peace being restored in Europe, the English governor of Boston has another conference with the Abenakis, and announces the peace to them; so they consent to throw away the hatchet. They then undertake to rebuild their church, which was destroyed in a raid by the English. The governor of Boston proposes to erect it for them, and give them an English missionary, if they will send Rale back to Quebec, — and offer which they indignantly reject; the French governor then has it rebuilt.
“Our savages have so destroyed the game of their country that for ten years they have no longer found either elks or deer.” Accordingly, they are obliged to resort to the seashore twice a year, in order to procure food. They are even often glad to eat acorns, — Rale, as well as the Indians. He goes with them on these journeys, and describes the care with which he provides for their religious instruction on such occasions — especially in the portable chapel which he always has them erect, and which he adorns as richly as possible. The savages are devoted to him, and would give their own lives for his safety; he relates several instances of their affection and care for him.
CXCVIII. A letter from La Chasse, superior of the Canadian missions, to a brother Jesuit relates (October 29, 1724) in detail the death of Father Rale, who is slain during an attack by the English [Page 18] upon the Abenaki village of Narantsouak. This conflict is graphically narrated, and is followed by a warm eulogy upon the talents and virtues of the departed missionary. La Chasse says of his death: “No one doubts that he was sacrificed through hatred to his ministry and to his zeal in establishing the true faith in the hearts of the savages.”
CXCIX. Paul du Poisson, recently assigned to the Arkansas tribes, writes (1727) a letter to Louis Patouillet, a Jesuit friend in France. Du Poisson is welcomed, soon after his arrival, by Indian envoys who offer to “dance the calumet” for him. Knowing that they expect presents in return for this, he declines the honor; but finds it advisable to let them visit him and perform some of their dances, — providing for them a “great kettle,” a feast of “corn without stint. . . . I never saw a meal eaten with worse manners or with better appetite.” He relates several anecdotes drawn from his own experiences with these savages, regarding their character and customs. He concludes that “gratitude is a virtue of which they have not the slightest idea;” and that “a Savage gives nothing for nothing.” Du Poisson concludes with an interesting account of the colony (now abandoned) planted in Arkansas by John Law, the noted Mississippi “promoter.” But thirty Frenchmen now remain there, attracted by the excellence of the climate and the soil. They gladly welcome the missionary, who ministers to both their souls and their bodies, for he finds most of them prostrated by sickness.
CC. Father Nicolas de Beaubois, superior of the Jesuit mission lately reëstablished at New Orleans, writes (1726-27) to the secretary of the Company of [Page 19] the Indies, regarding various affairs of the Louisiana mission. The first of these is dated November 2, 1726, and is apparently written from the French city of L’Orient, while waiting for the ship which is to convey him to his mission. There are perplexing delays, which chafe his eager soul and deplete his purse; and he urges more dispatch in sending him and his household away. He gives a humorous account of the discipline that he is obliged to exercise over an arrogant youth who has been placed in his charge.
Beaubois writes again (May 11, 1727) to La Loë this time from New Orleans. He says: “I have nothing but good news of this country to give you.” The new governor, Perrier, has restored order and tranquillity, and the habitants are doing well. Beaubois has begun to carry on a farm; he has “a small tobacco plantation that is truly magnificent.” He experienced considerable losses at his arrival in Louisiana, and desires that the Company will reimburse him. He asks for free transportation for the child of a lady in New Orleans. The ship which is to convey the Ursuline nuns has not yet arrived, although long overdue; and much anxiety is felt regarding her, He has many cares and heavy responsibilities, and but an empty purse wherewith to meet them. He is “more embarrassed and more occupied than IS the most worldly lady with her Toilet.”
We are indebted to the late Dr. G. Devron, of New Orleans, for the loan of the originals of these two letters by Beaubois, also for the careful transcription of them which we here publish. By further study of the torn and crabbed MSS., he had been enabled to [Page 20] improve somewhat upon his previous publication of the French text in Comptes-Rendus de l’Athénée Louisianais for September 1, 1897.
CCI. Du Poisson writes (October 3, 1727) to a friend from his Arkansas mission, at which he has recently arrived, describing his voyage thither from New Orleans, and the region and tribes through which he passed. In this connection, he describes the grants of land on the Mississippi made to various persons in France, most of whom do not come in person, but “equipped vessels and filled them with directors, stewards, storekeepers, clerks, and workmen of various trades, with provisions and all kinds of goods.” These people, not liking pioneer work, consume their time and provisions at the French settlements; the poor workmen seize the goods for their pay; and thus the enterprise comes to naught. There are also small planters, who secure a bare living by agriculture. Another class of the inhabitants “have no other occupation than that of roving about “— women of dubious repute; young fellows sent hither “by their relatives or by the law,” who engage themselves as boatmen; and roving hunters, who ascend the river to the buffalo-ranges, and prepare quantities of dried meat for sale to the colonists below. Du Poisson graphically describes the difficulties of a journey up the Mississippi — the floods, the snags, the intense heat, and the fierce mosquitoes. These insects are the worst torment of all; “the Egyptian plague was not more cruel. . . . This little creature has caused more swearing since the French came to Mississippi, than had been done before that time in all the rest of the world.” There is one place — a short-cut of two [Page 21] leagues, of which our narrator says: “This passage is well named the passage of the Cross; a Traveler who knows what it is, and does not shun it, deserves the Insane Asylum should he escape from it.” Du Poisson gives much interesting information about the present status of the French settlements along the river, the Indian tribes still remaining, and the characteristics of that region. At Natchez, the French settlement is prospering; “much tobacco is grown there, which is considered the best in the Country.” The Indians there are more civilized than the other tribes. Du Poisson thinks that they might be easily converted; but they are “in the district of the Reverend Capuchin Fathers, who, hitherto, have not learned any savage tongue.” Du Poisson and his colleague Dumas (who is on his way to the Illinois mission) arrive at the Arkansas villages on July 7, after a voyage which has lasted six weeks; they are hospitably received by the savages.
R. G. T.
Madison, Wis., May, 1900. [Page 22]
Documents of 1716-18
CLXXXVIII. — Arrêts du Conseil de Marine touchant les Sauvages Chrétiens en Canada. [Paris], le 1er Avril, 1716
CLXXXIX. — Mémoire du P. Lafitau: Sur la boisson [vendue] aux Sauvages. [Arrêt du Conseil, Paris], le 30 octobre, 1718
Source: These documents are from apographs in the archives of St. Mary’s College, Montreal. [Page 23]
Decrees of the Council of Marine respecting the
Christian Savages in Canada, April 1, 1716.
Proposed Change Of The Iroquois Savages Of
The Mission Of Sault St. Louis.
hereis an Iroquois mission on the other side of the river, two leagues above Montreal, under the direction of the Jesuits; it may contain about 200 warriors.
On the 7th of November, 1715, Monsieur Begon wrote that Father Cholenec, the missionary of these savages, represented in 1714 to Monsieur The Marquis de Vaudreuil and to him that these savages could no longer remain in their village, because the soil was exhausted and the woods too far away; and that it was absolutely necessary for them to settle elsewhere. (As the savages cultivate nothing but indian corn, which greatly impoverishes the soil, their lands cannot last them long.)
They are determined to transport their village two leagues farther up on the river St. Lawrence, on the same side as that on which they now are.
This missionary came down to Québec to ascertain whether any funds had been ordered for the purpose, and informed Monsieur Begon that the english, with whom these savages frequently go to trade, and the Iroquois of the five nations attached to the english, have done all they could this year, either by presents or by threats to attract all the savages [Page 25] of the Sault to them; and that the only way to retain them is to grant them the change they ask for, and the necessary funds for clearing a tract two arpents square, and erecting a palisaded enclosure with a new fort and a church.
This expenditure has seemed to him so indispensable for the welfare of the Colony — whereof the Savages of that mission would constitute the chief defense, if we had a war with the English or with the Iroquois — that he has already given 450 francs on account of this expenditure. This he will continue to do until the sum of 1,000 francs is reached, pending the receipt of orders, as it is absolutely necessary to begin work there, in order to induce the savages of that mission not to settle among the five Iroquois nations, — who are becoming more and more formidable through their great numbers, and who seek occasions for a rupture. He says that the fort of the Nepisseriens cost over 4,000 francs, including the Missionary’s house.
Monsieur the Marquis de Vaudreuil considers this change indispensable. It would be necessary to order a fund of 2,000 francs this year on account of this expenditure; and, when he shall be on the spot, he will do what he can to make this amount suffice by urging the savages to contribute, by their labor, to the construction of the fort.
Done and ordered by the council of marine, held at the Louvre on the 1st of April, 1716.
Follow Monsieur De Vaudreuil’s advice, and have the 2,000 francs given: give a note of this to Monsieur Argond.
Signed: L. A. de Bourbon,
the Maréchal d’Estrées.
By the Council;
Signed: La Chapelle.
heletters from Messieurs de Ramezay and Begon show that the english do everything in their power to win over the Abenakis savages.
Three villages of these savages are situated in Acadia, very near the English, who carry on the fur trade with them as far as they can.
The cheapness with which the english sell their goods is a powerful attraction for them. These savages have Missionaries, who, as much as they can, maintain them in our interest; it is therefore important to keep the missionaries there, and it is those savages who best know Canada and New England. Hitherto they have been very faithful, and have rendered good service. They are all baptized. There are also two missions of them established in the colony of Canada — one at St. François, and the other at Bécancourt.
Monsieur Begon Writes on the 25th of September, 1715, that the mission of these savages established at the river St. John, in the country of Acadia, ask that a church be built for them.
That he, like their missionary, is convinced that it would be a very strong inducement to attach them to their village and so long as they remain in it, they will not allow the english to establish themselves on that river — or even at its mouth, where they had already attempted to do so. He says that the savages have raised a fund for that church; but that, in order to carry out the annexed plan, which has been sent him by their missionary, a sum of 1,200 livres would be required, payable in two years.
The mission of the Abenakis of Norankouan, a [Page 29] country of Acadia, also ask that a church be built for them, and the reasons alleged are similar to those for the former mission.
Monsieur Begon proposes that toward the building of these two churches — and he considers their construction a matter of importance — a fund of 1,200 livres be granted. Of that sum he will render an account, as well as of what may be needed to complete them.
Monsieur the Marquis de Vaudreuil considers it very advisable to give these savages what they ask in this matter. Messieurs de Ramezay and Begon write on November 7, 1715, that Father Aubry, the Jesuit missionary of the Abenakis, has informed them that Athurnando — one of the principal chiefs of that nation, who has resided for eight years at St. François, whither Monsieur de Vaudreuil and Monsieur de Beauharnois had induced him to settle with all his village, to the number of 60 warriors, so that he might remain there at least during the war — came back to St. François in the month of august last from Pegouaki, where his former village was situated. He had gone thither to hunt during the winter, and began last spring to sow corn there. He told Monsieur Begon that he intended to speak to Monsieur de Vaudreuil — who he supposed had returned from France — to ask him, in fulfillment of the promise that he had given, for permission to reëstablish his former village, since peace was declared; and to take there with him the savages of St. François and of Bécancourt, who might wish to follow him, hoping that some Loup savages from Orange would join him. The chief also intended to ask that Father Aubry might go with him. He [Page 31] desired to speak to Sieur de Ramezay, in the absence of Monsieur de Vaudreuil; but, on learning that the former was at Quebec, and being in haste to go back, he postponed the execution of his design until Monsieur de Vaudreuil’s return.
Monsieur de Vaudreuil’s advice approved and the required amount to be given. Signed: L.A.B.L.
Monsieur De Vaudreuil’s advice approved, and the necessary amount to be given
As it would be a great disadvantage if that village were reëstablished, because this could not be done without diminishing the number of the Abenakis settled in the colony, they agreed with Father Aubry that Sieur de Ramezay should at once send a collar to the chief of the Abenakis. This was to represent to him that in the proposed reëstablishment he would be exposed to the mercy of the english at the first suspicion of war, as he would be only two or three days’ journey from the english towns, the roads leading to which would be very easy; while, on the other hand, the roads would be very difficult for the French, should the latter go to their assistance in the event of the english undertaking anything against them.
That by continuing to reside at St. François he would derive the same advantages from his former country as if he reestablished his village there; for he could go thither to hunt almost as easily as if he lived there.
That it would be impossible for him to make his village there as large as it formerly was, and as it should be in order to maintain himself there alone; because many of the people of his former village are scattered in various missions, and a great number of them have died.
In reality, this chief’s proposal has produced an impression on the minds of some savages, who would follow him if he took that step; but it would [Page 33] be unfortunate, for those lands are considered english, howsoever the boundaries may be determined. The experience of the Narantcouak savages — who allow the english to establish forts in the lower part of their river, and some of whom seem to have already been won over by the English — gives reasonable cause to fear that the same may happen with those who would form the village of Pecouaki. Consequently the said Sieurs de Ramezay and Begon are beginning to arrest the execution of that design by the collar that is sent to the chief; and they hope to win him over when he comes to Quebec, by giving him some presents.
That Father Aubry considers that it would be advisable to unite the two villages of these savages of St. François and Becancour at the former spot, which is the most advantageous post in the colony as regards the Iroquois in war-time; and very suitable for a permanent establishment, as there is a large extent of good land, suitable for the savages.
That these same advantages are not to be found at Becancour where the number of savages is very small and they are unable to support themselves there for any time without attracting the St. François savages thither.
Monsieur de Vaudreuil says that, when he shall be on the spot, he will see how the savages are disposed; that he will do what he can to keep them, but that, if they persist in going to their former village, he will let them do so, because it is impossible to prevent them. But before they go he will make them promise to return and dwell at their village in the colony, in the event of war breaking out again with the english. [Page 35]
The council abides by monsieur de Vaudreuil’s opinion.
Done and ordered by the council of marine held at the Louvre on the 1st of April, 1716.
Signed: L. A. de Bourbon,
The Maréchal d’Estrées.
By the council;
Signed: La Chapelle. [Page 37]
Memorial by Father Lafitau: On the sale of
liquor to the Savages.
hetrade in brandy and other similar liquors is entirely opposed to the well-being of the Colony and of the State, chiefly for four reasons, — the first of which is, that it concerns the tranquillity and the interests of the savages.
When these people are intoxicated, they become so furious that they break and smash everything in their houses; they utter horrible yells and shouts, and, like madmen, seek their enemies to stab them. At such times, even their relatives and friends are not safe from their fury, and they bite off one another’s noses and ears.
Father Bruyas, a former Missionary, has several times asserted that over one hundred persons had come to settle at Sault St. Louis in the hope of escaping the annoyances of this evil of drunkenness; but that many had returned thence when they saw liquor and drunkenness as common and as frequent as in their own country.
Although the savages like to drink, they are nevertheless sorry for having done so, because in their drunken fits they lose all they have, and they keenly regret this when they come to their senses.
Disunion and the dissolution of their marriages invariably result from their drunkenness, owing to the sorrow and despair of their wives when they see themselves despoiled by their drunken husbands — [Page 39] who take everything from them to obtain liquor; and who are deprived of the proceeds of the hunting, which belong to them, but are taken from their husbands before they reach the village, by their creditors.
These savages, loaded with debts and despoiled by their creditors, who leave them not even their guns, are frequently obliged to quit the country and go among the English, because they cannot hope to pay what they owe.
These people have been so fully alive to the injury done them by this traffic that they have asked and still ask the governors, nearly every year, to prevent it by their authority. The reply given on the subject by the Governor of Manhate to a missionary, who was compelled by the Elders of Agnié to write to him, is a convincing proof of this.
COPY OF THE LETTER OF THE GOVERNOR OF
ather, from your last letter I learn your complaint — which is seconded by that of the Elders of the Iroquois Captains, as appears more clearly by their petition enclosed with yours — respecting the large quantity of liquor which some persons of Albanie take the liberty of selling to the Indians; that by their so doing great disorder has resulted, and still more is to be feared, unless a stop be put to this. In reply, I beg to assure you that I have taken every possible care, and will continue, by very severe penalties, to restrict and prevent the supplying of liquor to the Indians in excessive quantities. I am very happy to find such virtuous thoughts expressed by pagans, to the shame of many Christians. But [Page 41] this must be attributed to your pious instructions; you have been trained in strict discipline, and have shown them the way of mortification, by both your precepts and your example.
Your very humble and very
Dated from fort James, the 18th of November, 1668.
The second, that it is contrary to the well-being of the habitants, who, attracted by the hope held out by the profits of that trade, abandon their farms and their families to go, sometimes without permission, among the savage nations. There many give themselves up to debauchery, living a dissolute life to the scandal of the savages; then, after disposing of their goods, which they have frequently obtained on credit, and finding themselves unable to pay, they settle among the savages and become bankrupt as regards their creditors.
The third, that it is entirely opposed to the interests of the merchants, who, since they are obliged to lend to the Savages what they need for their outfits, and to the habitants what they require for loading their canoes to go among distant tribes, should receive the furs direct from both. But who receive nothing, owing to the manner in which their debtors are always deranged by the brandy that they drink on arriving, or have drunk in the past, — and for which they still owe, or for which they are made to pay with the Goods that they bring.
And the fourth, that it is calculated to alienate the Savages from us: 1st, inasmuch as several nations have been almost destroyed by brandy, especially the [Page 43]
(Scan of Page to be Inserted)
Portrait of Joseph François Lafitau, S.J.;
Portrait of Joseph François Lafitau, S.J.; photo-engraving from oil portrait by Donald Guthrie McNab
[Page Facing 44]
Algonquins; and, in the second place, because the fugitive french who no longer dare to return home, take the Savages with them among the English to help them in transporting the goods that they buy there, and thus teach the Savages the road to the English.
He hopes that these reasons will induce the council to give such precise orders for preventing this traffic — which is almost the sole obstacle to the labors of the missionaries — that Messieurs the Governors will be obliged to execute those orders; and that no one will dare to evade them, as has been done in the past.
Nota. There are several memorials and letters sent to the Council on this subject by Messieurs de Vaudreuil, Begon, and Ramezay. All are agreed as to the evils of the trade in brandy, but, at the same time, that it is necessary: and Monsieur de Vaudreuil wrote that it was indispensable to give two or 3 pots of brandy per man to the savages from the upper country who came into the colony, and even to allow the traffic to be carried on with moderation at Fort Frontenac.
Whereupon the Council decided on the 31st of March, 1716, that the general prohibitions formerly enacted were to be allowed to remain; but that, nevertheless, permission should be given to convey brandy in moderate quantities to the places proposed by Monsieur de Vaudreuil. Should he deem it expedient to renew such prohibitions, this must be done without altering anything in the previous ones.
Remark. It would appear that the traffic in brandy of which Father Lafitau complains is that which is carried on in the towns of the Colony, the prevention [Page 45] of which appears to be ever necessary. Done and ordered on the 30th of October, 1718.
L. A. De Bourbon,
The Marécha1 d’Estrées.
By the council;
Write to Messieurs de Vaudreuil and Bégon that they are to inform the council that, besides the licenses that had been granted, a great many other permissions have been given. Prohibit the giving of permits of that sort, under any pretext whatsoever. Give for another year the appointed number of licenses; after which announce that no more will be given.
The bearers of licenses shall notify the Savages of this, so that in the future the Savages may bring in their goods. In the permits to be given for this last time, forbid the taking of any brandy, even for the voyageurs’ use.
[Endorsed: “30th of October, 1718.
“Letter of Governor Lovelace of New York, of the 18th of November, 1668.
“Father Lafitau, jesuit missionary of the Iroquois of Sault St. Louis.”]. [Page 47]
(Scan of Page to be Inserted)
View of Quebec, in 1722; from La Potherie
[Page Facing 49]
Documents of 1720-22
CXC. — Arrêt du Conseil du Roi touchant l’Établissement Jésuite à Montreal. [Paris], 16 Mars, 1720
CXCL. — Deux lettres au P. Sébastien Rale, 1721. Michel Begon, a Quebec, 14 Juin, 1721; Philippe, marquis de Vaudreuil, a Quebec, 25me. 7bre., 1721
CXCII. — Lettre de P. Julien Garnier au R. P. Pierre de Lauzon, à Montreal. N.p., 10e. Juillet, 1721
CXCIIL. — Arrêt du Conseil du Roi: Les Missionnaires du Sault St. Louis, 1722. [Paris], 12 may, 1722
CXCIV. — Lettre du Père Sébastien Rasles, Missionnaire de la Compagnie de Jésus dans la nouvelle France, à M. son neveu. A Nanrantsouak, 15 Octobre, 1722
CXCV. — Sur l’état present des Abnaquis. Par le P, Jean Baptiste Loyard. N.p., [ca. 1722]
Sources: In publishing Doc. CXC., we follow an apograph in the Dominion Archives, Department of Agriculture, Ottawa. For Doc, CXCI. we have recourse to contemporary copies preserved in the British Public Record Office, London. Docs. CXCII. and CXCV. are from the original MSS., now in the archives of St. Mary’s College, Montreal. Doc. CXCIII. is from an apograph preserved in St, Mary’s College archives. Doc. CXCIV. is from Lettres édifiantes, t. vi., pp. 101-121.
In Doc. CXCV., we give Loyard’s corrections and emendations in bracketed Roman type, and erasures in Italic. [Page 49]
Decree of the Royal Council concerning the
Jesuit Establishment at Montreal.
heJesuit Fathers in Canada Represent that the Quebec College has founded and maintained for about 30 years, at its own expense, a small Establishment at Montreal, to serve as a resting-place for the Missionaries, who are continually called thither by the King’s service and the spiritual .welfare of their savages. ‘The Quebec College is no longer in a position to bear this expense; its revenues in France are diminished by more than three-fourths, in consequence of the repayments ordered by the King. As its property is liable for such repayments, it has already been obliged to dispose of its funds for the support of the Missions; and, as for this small Establishment, which is so necessary even for the King’s service, it has only a small allowance of 150 livres for its maintenance. This leads them to beg that the allowance may be increased, in order to relieve them of a slight portion of the expenses which they are compelled to incur for feeding the Missionaries who are continually obliged to pass through that town, — either by order of the Governors, who very frequently call them thither, or in order to reach their Missions; there are 4 or 5 at a time who are often obliged to remain there for entire months. An allowance of one thousand livres per annum would not suffice to pay one-half of the Expense. [Page 51]
(Scan of Page to be Inserted)
Map of Montreal and its environs, in 1722; from La Potherie
[Page Facing 52]
This small establishment is also liable to the Town Tax for the Fortifications; there is even an increase of this tax, which amounts to nearly two- thirds of their allowance — although other Communities are exempt from it, or pay a very small sum.
They are also threatened with having a small orchard belonging to them cut off by the prolongation of unnecessary streets — as sieur Catalogne, sub-engineer, who has a plan of the Town, can testify. This is a piece of land which they bought, for which they pay rent to the Seignior, and the size of which the projected fortifications will greatly diminish, for they extend over the whole of its length, and the small orchard will be reduced to one-third of its extent, by a path for the rounds, which is to be taken from it.
They hope that the Council will be pleased, in consideration of their representations, to increase their allowance, to have their tax reduced, and to prevent their small orchard from being cut into.
Done and ordered on the 16th of March, 1716.
L. A. De Bourbon,
The maréchal d’Estrées.
By the Council;
[Endorsed: “16th of March, 1720. Petition of the Jesuit Fathers to the. Council: the Quebec College; their resting-place in Montreal for missionaries.“]. [Page 53]
Two letters to Father Sébastien Rale, 1721.
have received, my Reverend Father, the Letter that you did me The honor of writing to me on The 18th of last month. As Monsieur Devaudreuil Was at montreal when the Savages whom you Sent here arrived, I Hired Four of Them to convey to Him The Letter that you had Written. I sent with It one that I had also Written, to communicate to him Reverend Father de la Chasse’s ideas and mine respecting what seemed,. to us Most Advisable to do until The Council of Marine has Explained Whether The king’s intention Is that the french should join the Savages, To Support Them Openly Against The english; or whether he will Content himself with supplying Them with Munitions of War, As the Council wrote that Monsieur De Vaudreuil might do, in the Event of The english sending any Expedition Against Them. I Send you A Copy of my Letter, in order that you may also tell me the views that seem to you the best.
Monsieur De Vaudreuil Came down here with Those Savages, and stopped at St. François and at Becancourt to Invite The Savages of Those Missions to Send Deputies from Their Villages to the conference That is to be Held. He had Intended to write to the english governor; but since his return he has Changed his mind, and has Contented himself with Following the principal articles of the Memorial That you Sent Him — which are, that they are to Remain [Page 55] on their Land, and in the religion which they have embraced; and to have no more divided Opinions among Themselves, but to unite together in Speaking Firmly to The englishman. He has also Considered that it would be more Advisable for Reverend Father de La Chasse to accompany The Savages of St. François and Of becancourt than Monsieur De Croisil, — a Lieutenant in the Troops, whom he had brought with Him, intending to send Him with Those Savages, because the journey of Reverend Father De la Chasse is of No Consequence as Regards the English. The Treaty of peace does not prevent a Missionary from going to see another in his Mission; while, if a french officer were Sent, they might complain that we were Sending frenchmen Into A country that they claim to Belong to Them, in order to Incite The Savages to War against them. Whereupon we Think it advisable To await orders from The Court regarding Them, in order not to Commit ourselves. But As you cannot abandon Your Mission to come yourself to inform us of all that you think on The Subject, — Which Is rather Difficult To explain at sufficient length in A Letter, — and also to tell us all that you may Know About The Boundaries to be determined, We have Considered Reverend Father Delachasse’s Journey most Advisable under present Circumstances. We send him, that he may thoroughly inform you with reference to The prudence with which we Deem ourselves obliged To act toward The English, so that we may not Commit ourselves; and that he may, on his return, communicate to us All your ideas as to The Dispositions of your Savages, and of Those of the two other Missions. Monsieur de [Page 57] Vaudreuil Read to your Savages and to Those who accompany Them the memorial that he sends you, Containing his words, so that they may no longer Say that They are the Words of Their Missionary. I Think that you will Find that they are in The Sense proposed by you.
I have caused a Blanket, a Shirt, A pair of Mitasses, and some Tobacco, Powder, and Lead to be Given to Each of the Five Savages whom you Sent; and I Think that they return Satisfied, and with Very good intentions.
As you Are Always Too reserved with regard to What concerns yourself, I have Begged Reverend Father DelaChasse, to Ascertain from you, as a good friend, what I could Send you that would be Most agreeable to you, On this point I beg you to make use of me, without any Compliments.
Nothing could be better than All that you Said to your Savages on receiving The News that the english Governor, your Great Enemy, was removed. I Trust that He who shall replace him will be more reasonable, and will Leave you and your Savages in peace. This Is to be desired Until such time as we are fully Informed Whether It Be the king’s intention that we should openly Join the Savages against Them, If they attack Them ill-advisedly, — because meanwhile we could help them only by The Munitions that we would Give Them; and they may Rely upon our not Leaving Them in Want of these. With Reference to Taxou, I Find that you have Great reason to act toward Him As you have done: and you cannot Be Less firm than you have Been, for it Is necessary that no Consideration be shown toward Those who Appear to be more attached to [Page 59] the english than to us. I Remain with All my Heart and with All Possible attachment, my reverend Father, your Very Humble and Very obedient Servant.
At Quebec, June 14, 1721.
Since my Letter was Written, The Savages of St, François and Becancourt have Asked Monsieur De Vaudreuil that Monsieur Decroisil might go with Them, to Be a Witness of Their good Intentions; he Consented, and that officer has Joined Reverend Father de La Chasse.
[Endorsed: “A true Copy from the Original in the Original in the Secretaries Office in Boston
(signed) SamL Shute
attest. J. Willard Secry.”]
[Endorsed: “New England, Copy of a Letter from Mr. Begon, Intendant of Canada, to Father Rale; Dated at Quebeck ye 14th. June 1721. recd with Coll. Shute’s Lre of 13th. March 1721.
“Recd May 15th.
“Read Do. 25th .
[Endorsed: “Copy Of a Letter from Monsieur Begon, The Intendant of Canada, to Father Ralé, Jesuit, at Narantsoak.”]
Quebec, September 25, 1721.
havereceived, my reverend Father, Your Letters of august 4th, and of the 10th and 14th of This month. I feel great Satisfaction at your having Found means, with The Reverend Father Superior, to reunite All The Savages in One and the same [Page 61] Sentiment, and to Inspire Them with The firmness with which they spoke to The englishman in The interview which they Had with Him. I am also Very well satisfied with the message that they Sent to the Governor of Baston. I am convinced that they cause Him embarrassment, and that he will Avoid, as well as he can, giving an answer to them. But It is for your savages to see What they will have to do ‘ If, after The explanations that they have Given him, he does not Comply with Their Requests. For my part, I Am of opinion that, If they have taken A Sincere resolution not to allow The English On Their Land, they Must not hesitate to Drive Them Therefrom as Soon as possible, by Every Kind of means, from the moment the English do not set about withdrawing Of their own accord.
Your People must not be Afraid of being Short of Ammunition, for I am Sending Them enough, As you may See by The Annexed Memorandum; and I shall Continue to supply Them with it, as well as with The other Assistance they may Need, — as I Have orders not to Allow them to remain in want of, aid, and Also to Support Them Should the English attack Them ill-advisedly.
I Am Quite Charmed that Waourene has Distinguished Himself in That party, and that he Worked As he did in order that the Word of The Nation should be as It was told to The englishman. He will receive for his son tokens of The Satisfaction that I feel for his services, As I Send Him All that you have Asked for Him, It is not The Maluines [people from St. Malo] who are Settling The island. of St. Jean. This Island, and the Margdelein, and other Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Have [Page 63] Been Conceded by The King To Monsieur The Count de St. Pierre, who is causing a Settlement to be made there for The Cod, Seal, and Walrus fishery. Thus your Abenakis can Expect nothing in That Quarter. I shall Arrange with the Reverend Father Superior as to the Manner in which I shall receive Those of your Villages, who, Being Attached to the English, have Set out to bring you to Quebec About All Saints’ day; but you may Rest Assured that I shall make the Degraded one Feel How much I Am Displeased at His Conduct. I Remain Most truly, my reverend Father, Your Very Humble and Very obedient servant.
You may promise A Large Medal From the Reigning King to Him who Shall be Chosen as Chief in Place of the Degraded one.
[Endorsed: “A true Copy from the Original in
the Secretaries Office in Boston
(signed) Samll Shute
J Willard Secry
March. 6. 1721 [sc. 1722].”]
[Endorsed: “New England Copy of a Lre from Monsr. Vaudreuil, Govr. of Canada to Father Rale, Dated at Quebeck, ye 25th. Septbr. 1721. recd. With Coll. Shute’s Lre of 13th: March, 1721”]
[Endorsed: “Copy Of a Letter From Monsieur Vaudreuil, Governor of Canada, to Father Rale at Nanrantsoak.
“Recd May 15th.
“Read Do. 25th .
Letter of Father Julien Garnier to Reverend
Father Pierre de Lauzon, at Montreal.
My Reverend Father,
As I learn that you go out to walk about the town, I take the liberty of begging you, provided it cause you no inconvenience, to reply for me to Monsieur de Ramezay, who has written to me twice by two couriers. The 1st time was in connection with a package of beaver-skins stolen from an old poutewatomi, the bearer of our letters, by Monsieur Guay’s men, — one of whom, while in prison,. accused our Michel from here of having a white blanket obtained with the stolen beaver-skins. Monsieur de Ramezay asked our elders to make Michel return it, and send back the furs. Their reply was that Michel was still at Montreal, whence he would probably return only after he had drunk the price of the blanket; that they could do nothing until his return; that he was sought for in Montreal, without giving him time to dispose of it. He returned only long afterward. He went, in spite of the elders, to St. françois, where he still is.
The and time, he sent me this letter. I replied that nearly all the Young men were either at st. françois, or engaged in fishing, or in the woods procuring bark.
Ontarisonke told me that he had drunk at parent’s; and that he had formerly brought some liquor in [Page 67] the village, and had made others drink. Among these was a man who had left his shirt in pawn at Madame Lorimier’s, and who saw him coming from parent’s with another man who was bringing some liquor. That is what guriouhiron says. Ponce pilate with the son of la ganniatarekon, Michel, also came back from there intoxicated. And whenever any have returned here drunk, all those whom I have questioned have Indicated a large stone house to me, and have told me that the only one there is parent’s. Ontarisonke says that every time he passes there, going and coming, they say to him: “Come here, I have good brandy.” “I pass without heeding them, because I have nothing wherewith to pay for it.”
There remained with Father Auberi 4 of our people: Michel, the son of Monsieur Lusanne, Konskrirat and the son of la ganniatarekon, all of the race of the Abnaquis Loups, — the 2 former of Abnaquis Fathers, and the 2 others deprived of their Mothers. They are with their relatives.
Our people still go to the Sault au Récollet, and will pass by onnontio’s. Let Monsieur de Ramezay ask them for their answer about the blanket, which he told them to obtain from Michel; let him Ask them whether he has justified himself in the matter.
We have exhausted our supply of salt and olive- oil. Had I not warned our brother to see to his marten-skins, the moths would have spoiled them. If you have any, they must be examined as well as the others.
The widow of Taierhensere has not yet been paid for the cloth that was taken from her. Do not trouble yourself about all this. Provided you return [Page 69]
(Scan of Page to be Inserted)
Facsimile of a portion of Julien Garnier’s letter to Pierre de Lauzon, July 10, 1721
quite cured, all will go well. Our brother ardently longs for you, but he is not the most to be pitied. One of the raftsmen fell into a fit on Sunday, in the Church, while the Father was preaching. The savages Say that it is the demon; he bit his tongue, [illegible] and his face frightened me. He was carried outside; and as soon as his teeth were forced .apart, and his mouth opened, he recovered.
To your holy sacrifices,
your very humble servant, Garnier.
July 10, 1721.
[Addressed: “My Reverend Father, The Reverend Father De Lauzon, of the Society Of Jesus, at Montréal.”] [Page 71]
Decree of the Royal Council: The Missionaries
Of Sault St. Louis, 1722,
heysend a memorial containing the word of the Iroquois of Sault St. Louis to Monsieur the Marquis de Vaudreuil, to get back Father Lauzon who had been withdrawn from that Mission, and to ask that no garrison be stationed among them.
THE IROQUOIS’ WORD.
“The horrible discord that exists in our village is partly due to the frequent change of our best Missionaries, and partly to the french garrison that was posted there some years ago. As we are earnest in our intention of establishing ourselves in our same condition, we have come down expressly, our father Onnontio, to ask you to give us back Gannenrontie “— that is Father de Lauzon’s name — “and that the french garrison which was withdrawn from our village, three years ago, be not stationed there again. It is too prejudicial to us to allow us not to oppose its being again posted there. Our fields and our cabins, which are left open, and — what is of more importance — our wives and our daughters, are not safe with the french soldiers. Our Young men, who are very numerous, follow but too willingly the bad examples before their eyes; and a thousand vices that were formerly unknown among us have unfortunately been introduced in our midst since we [Page 73] have had a garrison. Tranquillity and good order have been banished; for, in addition to what we have just said, the soldiers frequently seek by false reports to embroil us with the officer, and the officer with the Governors, none of which things happened when we had no garrison. There are none in any of the other villages of our brothers, and we are not in a worse condition than they. Nevertheless, it is desired to place one among us again, because we are the most attached to the French, and have sustained the most cruel wars in their defense, — both against our own brothers, and against the English, from whom we receive naught but kindness.
“The first and only reason that made us leave our country and our families was religion; we sought a spot where it would be safe among us, and where we could imitate our Missionaries, and we found no place more suitable than among the French. Hardly was our village established when our own brothers declared war against the French. We could have remained neutral, as we were asked to do; but our gratitude and attachment led us pitilessly to shed the blood of our brothers. After so striking a proof of our attachment it is desired, contrary to the well-being of our Village, to show that we are distrusted, which is very insulting to us.
“Let garrisons be stationed in all the other villages, and then we will say nothing; but we are treated as slaves. This is very hard upon us, and is too shameful to endure without our begging you, Our Father Onnontio, not to station another french garrison in our village. We have been at peace during the three years that have elapsed since we were delivered from one; refuse us not the favor [Page 75] that we ask so earnestly, and which may avert many ills that might happen. We also desire that our word be borne to the King — the Great Onnontio, beyond the great lake, and our father. It is right that he be informed that the amount of so unnecessary an expenditure as that of maintaining a garrison here, and of erecting barracks for it, would be much better spent in supplying more pressing needs, — such as those of poor widows and orphans, whose husbands and fathers have been killed in war for the good of the Colony.
“With reference to the complaint made against us, that we go to Orange to trade for the French, we promise to go there no longer, provided the Rule be the same for all the other villages — who go there like us, and to whom not a word is said.”
Monsieur de Vaudreuil’s answer was:
“I shall consider the matter, when the time comes to station a garrison among you. It will not be for the present. I shall write to the Court about it.”
The missionaries write that it is easy to see, by this step taken by the Savages, that such a garrison is very prejudicial to the interests of God and of the King; and that that was the sole motive of the Missionaries when they had a memorial presented by Father Lafiteau to His Most Serene Highness, asking that no garrison be again stationed at the Sault, owing to the grievous consequences that would result therefrom — the principal one of which would be the ruin of the Village.
“Great difficulty was experienced in collecting the Savages in this new Village, as two-thirds of them wished to go to settle farther away, and closer to England; and Father Lauson succeeded only when [Page 77] there was no longer any Garrison, as the Savages began to become more docile.
“If a garrison be stationed there against the Savage’s will, he will depart and give himself up to the English on the first occasion that he has for being dissatisfied; or he will go away to his own country, among the Iroquois.
“The savage is so sensitive about his wife’s unfaithfulness that it generally compels him to abandon her, to leave the Mission, and to apostatize.
“Whenever the Governor wishes to obtain anything from the Savages, and the officer does not succeed, as is nearly always the case, he casts the blame upon the Missionary, out of jealousy of the confidence that he sees the Savages repose in the latter.
“Monsieur de Vaudreuil has admitted that since there is no longer a garrison at the Sault he has never been so well satisfied with the Missionaries. As no one disturbs them, they produce a surer effect on the mind of the Savage; and no one is more attentive to His Majesty’s interests than are the Missionaries, who labor solely in God’s sight, and for the welfare of his Colony.”
Father Lauson — whom his superior had withdrawn, owing to Ill health caused by the fatigues of the Mission — returned thither at the solicitation of Messieurs de Vaudreuil and Begon. They told him that they earnestly desired for the King’s service and the welfare of the Colony, that he would return, especially at a time when it was necessary to show some consideration for the Savages. Moreover, they considered him better fitted than any other person for this, on account of the attachment that [Page 79] the Savages have for him, and of what he had made them do in connection with the rumors of war that had spread last winter.
Monsieur the Bishop of Quebec writes that the Savages of the Sault have earnestly begged him to represent to the Council their reasons for having no garrison; and that he would not otherwise do so, as this matter does not concern the Church. The reasons are: 1st, that if soldiers be placed there, it is only for their own interest and not for the good of the Savages; 2nd, that they furnish to the latter very bad examples, and that since they have been stationed there the mission has declined, as regards Religion; 3rd, as it is intended to place a garrison in that Mission alone, they think that they are distrusted, and they consider that the amount that would have to be spent in erecting barracks and a Guard-House of stone would be better employed, and would give them more pleasure, if spent on presents for them.
He says that the first two reasons are good and valid; that the 3rd concerns their own interests.
Nota. In 1720 an appropriation of 1,000 livres was set apart for the barracks and Guard-House, a similar amount in 1721, and another of 2,000 livres this year to complete the work, at the request of Messieurs de Vaudreuil and Begon.
With reference to the Garrison, Messieurs de Vaudreuil and Begon were written to on the 14th of June, 1721, in these terms:
“A memorial has been presented respecting the uselessness of the Garrison that is to be stationed at Sault St. Louis. It seems to the Council to be [Page 81] quite unnecessary to station one there in time of peace, and the Council’s Intention is that, in the event of one having been established there, Monsieur de Vaudreuil shall remove it, unless he deem it absolutely necessary; the Council leaves the matter to his discretion.”
Done and ordered on the 12th of may, 1722.
L. A. de Bourbon.
By the Council,
De la chapelle.
Letter from Father Sébastien Rasles, Mission-
ary of the Society of Jesus in new
France, to Monsieur his nephew.
October 15, 1722.
onsieur My Dear Nephew,
The peace of Our Lord.
During the more than thirty years that I have spent in the midst of forests with the Savages, I have been so occupied in instructing them and training them in Christian virtues that I have scarcely had leisure to write frequent letters, even to the persons who are dearest to me. Nevertheless, I cannot refuse you the little account that you ask of my occupations. I owe it in gratitude for the friendship which makes you so much interested in what concerns me.
I am in a district of this vast extent of territory which lies between Acadia and new England. Two other Missionaries are, like myself, busy among the Abnakis Savages; but we are far distant from one another. The Abnakis Savages, besides the two Villages which they have in the midst of the French Colony, have also three other important ones, each situated on the bank of a river. These three rivers empty into the sea to the South of Canada, between new England and Acadia.
The Village in which I dwell is called Nanrantsouak; [Page 85] it is situated on the bank of a river, which empties into the sea thirty leagues below. I have built here a Church which is commodious and well adorned. I thought it my duty to spare nothing, either for its decoration or for the beauty of the vestments that are used in our holy Ceremonies; altar-cloths, chasubles, copes, sacred vessels, everything is suitable, and would be esteemed in the Churches of Europe. I have trained a minor Clergy of about forty young Savages, who, in cassocks and surplices, assist at divine Service; each one has his duty, not only in serving at the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but in chanting the divine Office at the Benediction of the blessed Sacrament, and in the Processions — which are made with a great concourse of Savages, who often come from a great distance in order to be present at them. You would be edified with the good order which they observe, and with the reverence which they show.
Two Chapels have been built, about three hundred steps from the Village: one, which is dedicated to the most blessed Virgin, and in which her statue in relief is seen, stands at the head of the river; the other, which is dedicated to the Guardian Angel, is below, on the same river. As they both are on the path that leads either to the woods or to the fields, the Savages never pass them without offering prayers therein. There is a holy emulation among the women of the Village regarding the best decoration of the Chapel, of which they have care, when the Procession is to enter it; all that they have in the way of trinkets, pieces of silk or chintz, and other things of that sort — all are used for adornment.
The many lights contribute not a little to the [Page 87] decoration of the Church and Chapels; I have no need to economize in wax, for this country furnishes me with abundance. The islands of the sea are bordered with wild laurel, which in autumn bears berries closely resembling those of the juniper-tree. Large kettles are filled with them and they are boiled in water; as the water boils, the green wax rises, and remains on the surface of the water. From a minot of these berries can be obtained nearly four livres of wax; it is very pure and very fine, but is neither soft nor pliable. After a few experiments, I have found that by mixing with it equal quantities of tallow, — either beef, mutton, or elk, — the mixture makes beautiful, solid, and very serviceable candles. From twenty-four livres of wax, and as many of tallow, can be made two hundred tapers more than a royal foot in length. Abundance of these laurels are found on the Islands, and on the shore of the sea; one person alone could easily gather four minots of berries daily. The berries hang in clusters from the branches of the shrub. I sent a branch of them to Quebec, with a cake of wax, and it was pronounced excellent.
None of my Neophytes fail to come twice every day to Church, — in the early morning to hear Mass, and in the evening to be present at the prayer which I offer at sunset. As it is necessary to fix the thoughts of the Savages, which wander only too easily, I have composed some prayers, suited to make. them enter into the spirit of the august Sacrifice of our Altars; they chant these — or, rather, they recite them aloud — during Mass. Besides the sermons that I preach to them on Sundays and On Feast-days, I seldom pass over a Working-day [Page 89] without making them a short exhortation, in order to inspire them with horror for the vices to which they have most inclination, or to strengthen them in the practice of some virtue.
After Mass, I Catechize the children and the young people; a great number of older persons are present, and answer with docility to the questions which I ask them. The remainder of the morning, until noon, is devoted to all those who have anything to tell me. At that time they come in crowds, to reveal to me their griefs and anxieties, or to tell me the causes of complaint which they have against their tribesmen, or to consult me about their marriages or their other private affairs. I must instruct some, and console others; reëstablish peace in disunited families, and calm troubled consciences; and correct a few others with reprimands, mingled with gentleness and charity, — in fine, send them all away content, as far as I can.
In the afternoon, I visit the sick and go to the cabins of those who have need of special instruction. If they are holding a council, which often happens among the Savages, they send one of the chiefs of the meeting, who begs me to be present at their deliberations. I go immediately to the place where the council is in session. If I think that they are taking a wise course, I approve it; if, on the contrary, I find anything amiss in their decision, I declare my own opinion, which I support with a few sound reasons and they conform to it. My advice always determines their decisions. I am invited even to their feasts. Each guest brings a dish of wood or of bark; I bless the food; then the prepared portion is placed upon each dish. The distribution [Page 91] having been made, I say grace, and each one withdraws, for such is the order and the custom of their feasts.
In the midst of these continual occupations you can hardly believe with what rapidity the days pass away. There has been a time when I scarcely had leisure to recite my Office, or to take a little rest during the night, for discretion is not a virtue of the Savages. But for some years past I have made it a rule not to speak with any one from the hour of evening prayer until after Mass the next day; and I have forbidden them to interrupt me during that time, unless it were for some important reason — as, for instance, to aid a dying person, or for some other matter that could not be delayed. I use that time for attending to prayer, and resting from the labors of the day.
When the Savages go to the sea to spend some months hunting ducks, bustards, and other birds that are found there in great numbers, they build on some island a Church ‘which they cover with bark, near which they set up a little cabin for my dwelling. I take care to transport thither a part of the ornaments; and the service is performed there with the same propriety and the same throng of people as in the Village.
You see, my dear nephew, what my occupations are. As for what concerns me personally, I assure you that I see, that I hear, that I speak, only as a savage. My food is simple and light; I never could relish the meat and smoked fish of the Savages; my only nourishment is pounded Indian corn, of which I make every day a sort of broth; that I cook in water. The only improvement that I can supply [Page 93] for it is, to mix with it a little sugar, to relieve its insipidity. There is no lack of sugar in these forests. In the spring the maple-trees contain a fluid somewhat resembling that which the canes of the islands contain. The women busy themselves in receiving it into vessels of bark, when it trickles from these trees; they boil it, and obtain from it a fairly good sugar. The first which is obtained is always the best.
The whole Abnakis Nation is Christian and is very zealous in preserving its Religion. This attachment to the Catholic Faith has made it thus far prefer an alliance with us to the advantages that it would have obtained from an alliance with its English neighbors. These advantages are very attractive to our Savages; the readiness with which they can engage in trade with the English, from whom they are distant only two or three days’ journey, the convenience of the route, the great bargains they find in the purchase of goods which suit them, — nothing would be more likely to attract them. Whereas in going to Quebec they must travel more than fifteen days to reach it; they must be supplied with provisions for the journey; there are several rivers to cross and frequent portages to make. They feel these inconveniences, and they are not indifferent to their own interests; but their faith is infinitely dearer to them, and they believe that if they were to break off their connection with us they would very soon be without a Missionary, without Sacraments, without the Sacrifice, almost without any service of Religion, and in manifest danger of being plunged back into their former unbelief. This is the bond which unites them to the French. There have been vain endeavors [Page 95] to break this bond — both by snares that have been laid for their simplicity, and by violence, which could not fail to irritate a Tribe so infinitely jealous as is this of its rights and its liberty. These beginnings of misunderstanding continue to alarm me, and make me fear the dispersion of the flock which Providence has confided to my care for so many years, and for which I would willingly sacrifice all that remains to me of life. See the various artifices to which the English have resorted to detach them from the alliance with us.
Some years ago, the Governor-general of new England sent to the foot of our river the most able man among the Ministers of Boston, that he might open a School there, instruct the children of the Savages, and maintain them at the expense of the Government. As the salary of the Minister was to increase in proportion to the number of his pupils, he neglected nothing to attract them; he went to seek the children, he flattered them, he made them little presents, he urged them to come to see him; in short, he worked for two months with much useless activity, without being able to win a single child. The disdain with which his attentions and his invitations were treated did not discourage him. He spoke to the Savages themselves; he put to them various questions touching their faith; and then, from the answers that were made to him, he turned into derision the Sacraments, Purgatory, the invocation of the Saints, the beads, the crosses, the images, the lights of our Churches, and all the pious customs that are so sacredly observed in the catholic Religion.
I thought it my duty to oppose these first attempts to mislead; I wrote a civil letter to the Minister, in [Page 97] which I told him that my Christians knew how to believe the truths which the catholic Faith teaches, but that they did not know how to discuss them; that as they were not sufficiently learned to solve the difficulties which he had proposed he had evidently intended that they should be communicated to me; that I seized with pleasure this opportunity that he had offered me, to confer with him either by word of mouth, or by letter; that I thereupon sent him a Memoir and besought him to read it with serious attention. In this Memoir, which was of about a hundred pages, I proved by scripture, by tradition, and by theological arguments the truths which he had attacked by such stale jests. I added, in closing my letter, that if he were not satisfied with my proofs, I would expect from him a precise refutation, supported by theological proofs, and not by vague arguments which prove nothing, — still less by injurious reflections, which befitted neither our profession nor the importance of the subject in question.
Two days after receiving my letter, he set out to return to Boston; he sent me a short answer, which I was obliged to read several times in order to comprehend its meaning, so obscure was its style and so extraordinary its Latin. However, by dint of reflection, I understood that he complained that I had attacked him without reason; that zeal for the salvation of souls had led him to teach the Savages the way to Heaven; and that, for the rest, my proofs were absurd and childish. Having sent to him in Boston a second letter, in which I pointed out the defects of his own, he answered me at the end of two years, without even entering upon the subject; and said that I had a peevish and fault-finding spirit [Page 99] which was the sign of a temperament inclined to anger. Thus was finished our dispute, which drove away the Minister, and brought to naught the scheme that he had formed to mislead my Neophytes.
This first attempt having had so little success, resort was had to another artifice. An Englishman asked permission of the Savages to build by their river a sort of warehouse, for the purpose of trading with them; and he promised to sell his goods much cheaper than they could buy them even in Boston. The Savages, who found this to their advantage, and who would be saved the trouble of a journey to Boston, gladly consented. Shortly after, another Englishman asked the same permission, offering still more advantageous conditions than the first. To him likewise permission was granted. This accommodating spirit of the Savages emboldened the English to settle all along the river without asking consent; they built houses and erected forts, three of which were of stone.
This proximity of the English at first somewhat pleased the Savages who did not perceive the trap that was set for them, and who were thinking only of the satisfaction they had in finding at the stores of the new settlers all that they could desire. But at last — seeing themselves gradually, as it were, surrounded by English settlements — they began to open their eyes, and to become suspicious. They asked the English by what right they had thus settled in their territory, and had even constructed forts therein. The answer that was given them — to wit, that the King of France had ceded their country to the King of England — threw them into the greatest alarm; for there is not one savage Tribe [Page 101] that will patiently endure to be regarded as under subjection to any Power whatsoever; it will perhaps call itself an ally, but nothing more. Therefore the Savages immediately sent a few of their number to Monsieur the Marquis de Vaudreuil, Governor- general of new France, to inquire if it were true that the King really had thus disposed of a country of which he was not master. It was not difficult to quiet their uneasiness; all that was done was to explain to them those articles in the treaty of Utrecht which concerned the Savages, and they appeared content.
At about that time, a score or so of Savages entered one of the English dwellings, either to trade, or to rest themselves. They had been there only a short time when they saw the house suddenly invested by a force of nearly 200 armed men. We are dead men, cried one of the Savages, let us sell our lives dearly. They were already preparing to rush upon this force when the English, perceiving their intention, and knowing also of what a Savage is capable in his first outbursts of fury, endeavored to appease them. They assured them that they had no evil design, and that they only came to invite a few of them to repair to Boston, for the purpose of conferring with the Governor about methods of maintaining the peace, and the good understanding that ought to exist between the two Nations. The Savages, a little too credulous, appointed four of their tribesmen who went to Boston; but, when they arrived there, the conference with which they had been beguiled ended by their being made prisoners.
You will, without doubt, be surprised that such a little handful of Savages should have presumed to [Page 103] cope with so numerous a force as that of the English. But our Savages have performed numberless acts that are much more daring. I will relate to you only a single one, which will enable you to judge of the others.
During the late wars, a party of thirty Savages were returning from a military expedition against the English. As the Savages, and especially the Abnakis, know not how to guard themselves against surprises, they had gone to sleep in their first resting- place without even a thought of posting a sentinel for the night. A body of 600 English, commanded by a Colonel, pursued them as far as their cabbage; and, finding them plunged in sleep, he ordered his troops to surround them, fully expecting that not one of them would escape. One of the Savages, having awakened and perceiving the English troops, immediately informed his tribesmen — crying out, according to their custom: We are dead men, let us sell our lives dearly. Their decision was very soon made; they instantly formed six platoons of five men each; then, with a hatchet in one hand, and a knife in the other, they rushed upon the English with so much impetuosity and fury that, after having killed more than sixty men, among which number was the Colonel, they put the remainder to flight.
The Abnakis had no sooner learned in what manner their tribesmen were treated in Boston, than they bitterly complained that, in the midst of the peace which was then reigning, the rights of men should be thus violated. The English answered that they were holding the prisoners only as hostages for the injury that had been done them in killing some [Page 105] cattle that belonged to them; that, as soon as the Savages should have made reparation for this loss — which amounted to .two hundred livres of beaver — the prisoners should be released. Although the Abnakis did not acknowledge this pretended injury, they nevertheless paid the two hundred livres of beaver — being unwilling that for such a trifling thing any one could reproach them with having abandoned their brothers. Notwithstanding the payment of the contested debt, liberty was, however, refused to the prisoners.
The Governor of Boston, fearing that this refusal might force the Savages to take violent measures, proposed to treat this affair amicably in a conference, and the day and place for holding it were agreed upon. The Savages went to the place with Father Rasles, their Missionary; Father de la Chasse, Superior-general of these Missions, who was at that time making his visitation, was also there; but Monsieur the Governor did not appear. The Savages foreboded evil from his absence. They resolved to let him know their opinions by a letter written in the savage tongue, in English, and in Latin; and Father de la Chasse, who was master of these three languages, was charged with writing it. It seemed needless to use any other language than the English tongue; but the Father was very glad that, on the one hand, the Savages should know for themselves that the letter contained only what they had dictated; and that, on the other, the Englishmen could not doubt that the English translation was faithful. The purport of this letter was: 1st, that the Savages could not understand why their tribesmen had been retained in captivity, after the promise [Page 107] that had been made to surrender them as soon as the two hundred livres of beaver should be paid; and, that they were not less surprised to see how their Country had been seized without their consent; 3rd, that the English were to quit the country as soon as possible, and set the prisoners at liberty; that they would expect an answer within two months, and that if, after that time, satisfaction were refused them they would know how to obtain justice.
It was in the month of July of the year 1721 that this letter was carried to Boston, by some Englishmen who had been present at the conference. As two months passed by without receiving an answer from Boston, and as, besides, the English had ceased to sell the Abnakis powder, lead, and provisions as they had been doing before this contention, our Savages were disposed to retaliate; all the influence which Monsieur the Marquis de Vaudreuil had over their minds was needed to make them put off for some time longer violent proceedings.
But their patience was exhausted by two acts of hostility committed by the English, about the end of December in the year 1721, and the beginning of the year 1722. The first was the abduction of Monsieur de Saint Casteins. This Officer is a Lieutenant in our army; his mother was an Abnakis, and he has always lived with our Savages, whose esteem and confidence he has deserved to such a degree that they have chosen him for their Commandant- General. In this capacity he could not be exempt from attending the conference of which I have just spoken, in which the question was to settle the interests of the Abnakis, his brothers. The English blamed him for this; they sent a little vessel to the [Page 109] place of his abode. The Captain took care to have his men concealed, with the exception of two or three whom he left upon the deck. He sent to invite Monsieur de Saint Casteins, with whom he was acquainted, to come on board and take some refreshment. Monsieur de Saint Casteins, who had no reason to be suspicious, went there alone and unattended; but hardly had he appeared before they set sail, and carried him to Boston. There he was placed in the prisoner’s dock, and was questioned as if a criminal. He was asked among other things, wherefore and in what capacity he had been present at the conference that was held with the Savages; what the regimental coat with which he was clothed signified; and if he had not been sent to that assembly by the Governor of Canada. Monsieur de Saint Casteins answered that he was an Abnakis on the side of his mother, and had spent his life among the Savages; that, his tribesmen having established him as Chief of their Tribe, he was obliged to participate in their meetings, in order to sustain their interests; that it was in this capacity alone that he had been present at the late conference; as for the rest, the coat that he wore was not a regimental coat, as they imagined; that it was, in truth, handsome and very well decorated, but it was not above his condition — even independently of the honor that he had in being an Officer in our army.
When Monsieur our Governor learned of the detention of Monsieur de Saint Casteins, he immediately wrote to the Governor of Boston to make complaint. He received no answer to his letter. But about the time that the English Governor was expecting to receive a second one, he restored [Page 111] liberty to the prisoner, after having kept him confined for five months.
The attempt of the English against myself was the second act of hostility which brought to a climax the excessive irritation of the Abnakis tribe. A Missionary can scarcely fail to be an object of hate to these Gentlemen. Love for the Religion which he endeavors to impress upon the hearts of these Savages holds these Neophytes firmly in union with us, and separates them from the English. The latter therefore regard me as an invincible obstacle to their plan of spreading themselves over the territory of the Abnakis, and of gradually seizing this mainland which is between new England and Acadia. They have often attempted to remove me from my flock and more than once a price has been set on my head. It was about the end of January in the year 1722 when they made a new attempt, which had no other success than to manifest their ill will toward me.
I had remained alone in the village with a small number of old men and feeble folk, while the rest of the Savages were at the hunt. That time appeared favorable to the enemy for surprising me; and, with this in view, they sent out a detachment of two hundred men. Two Young Abnakis, who were hunting on the Seashore, heard that the English had entered the river; they immediately turned their steps to that quarter, so as to observe the movements of the English. Having perceived them about ten leagues from the Village, these Savages outran them by crossing the country, that they might inform me, and help the old men, women, and children to retire in haste. I had only [Page 113] time to consume the hosts, to enclose in a small box the sacred vessels, and to escape into the woods. Toward evening, the English reached the Village; and, not having found me there, they came the next day to look for me in the very place of our retreat. They were within only a gunshot when we descried them; all that I could do was to plunge with haste into the forest. But as I had no time to take my snowshoes, and as, besides, I still experienced great weakness caused by a fall, — in which, some years ago, my thigh and my leg were broken, — it was not possible for me to run very far. The only resource that remained to me was to hide behind a tree. They immediately searched the various paths worn by the Savages when they go for wood, and came within eight steps of the tree that was sheltering me, where naturally they must have perceived me, for the trees had shed their leaves; nevertheless, as if they had been driven away by an invisible hand, they suddenly retraced their steps, and again took the way to the Village.
Thus it was by a special protection of God that I escaped from their pursuit. They pillaged my Church and my little house, thereby almost reducing me to a death from starvation in the midst of the woods. It is true that, when my adventure was known in Quebec, provisions were sent to me immediately; but they could not arrive for some time, and during that period I was deprived of all aid, and in extreme need.
These reiterated insults made the Savages feel that there was no answer to be expected, and that it was time to resent violence, and let open force succeed to pacific negotiations. On their return [Page 115] from hunting, after having planted their fields they resolved to destroy the newly-constructed English houses, and drive from among them those restless and formidable settlers who were gradually encroaching on their territory, and were planning to conquer them. They sent to the several Villages of the Savages to interest them in their Muse, and to urge them to lend a hand in this their necessity of righteous defense. The deputation was successful. War was sung among the Hurons of Lorette, and in all the Villages of the Abnakis tribe. Nanrantsouak was the place appointed for the meeting of the warriors, that they might there together deliberate upon their plan.
In the meantime the Nanrantsouakians descended the river; when they reached its mouth, they seized three or four little English vessels. Then ascending the same river, they pillaged and burned the new houses that the English had built. However, they abstained from all violence toward the inhabitants; they even permitted them to retire to their quarters, — except five, whom they retained as hostages until their tribesmen, who were detained in the prisons of Boston, should be restored. This moderation of the. Savages did not have the effect that they hoped; on the contrary, a party of English, having found sixteen Abnakis asleep on an island, fired a volley at them; and five Savages were killed and three wounded.
This is a further indication that war is about to break out between the English and the Savages. The latter expect no aid from the French, on account of the peace which exists between the two Nations; but they have a resource in all the other [Page 117] Savage tribes, who will not fail to enter into their quarrel and to undertake their defense.
My Neophytes moved by the danger to which I am exposed in their Village, often urge me to retire for a little time to Quebec. But what will become of the flock, if it be deprived of its Shepherd? Death alone can separate me from them. They tell me, but to no purpose, that in case I fall into the power of their enemy, the least that can happen to me will be to linger out the rest of my days in wretched imprisonment; I shut their mouths with the words of the Apostle, which divine goodness has deeply impressed upon my heart. I say to them: “Do not be anxious about that which concerns me. I do not fear the threats of those who hate me when I have not deserved their hatred; and I do not consider my life more precious than myself, so that I may finish my course, and the ministry of the word which has been entrusted to me by the Lord Jesus.” Pray to him, my dear nephew, that he may strengthen in me this feeling, which comes only from his mercy, in order that I may live and die working unceasingly for the salvation of these neglected souls, who were bought with his blood and whom he has deigned to commit to my care.
I am, etc. [Page 119]
(Scan of Page to be Inserted)
Facsimile of handwriting of Jean Baptiste Loyard, S.J.; selected from his État present des Abnaquis
[Page Facing 120]
Memorial of Father Loyard: Upon the present
condition of the Abnaquis.
fall the Savages of New France, those who have rendered, and who are in a condition to render, the greatest services are the Abnaquis. This nation is composed of five Villages, which in all make five hundred men bearing arms. Two of these Villages are situated along the River St. Lawrence near three Rivers, — one below that Town, which is called the Village of Becancour; and the other above, which is called the Village of St. François.
The three other villages are in the region of Acadia, and are called: Naňraňtzwak, upon the river Canibekki [Kennebec]; Panawaniské, upon the river Pentagouet [Penobscot]; and Medoktek, upon the River St. John. The village of Naňraňtzwak is nearest to New England, that of Medoktek is nearest to Acadia, and that of Panawanske is almost in the middle.
These three Villages have their different routes by which to go to Quebec in a few days, each one by its own river. It is this which renders their situation so important as regards Canada, of which they are the strongest defenses. And this is what ought to attract the attention of the Court, that it may prevent the English from profiting by the war which they are carrying on with the Savages, and from destroying these villages, — or, what would amount to the same thing, obliging the Savages to [Page 121]
(Scan of Page to be Inserted)
Memorial tablet of St. Jean Baptiste mission chapel, on River St. John, N.B
[Page Facing 122]
abandon them and seek refuge elsewhere, — which, it is easy to see, is the Sole object at which they are aiming.
For, far from making settlements in the Peninsula of Acadia, — which was ceded to them by the treaty of Utrecht, and which no one disputes with them, — there is, as yet, no indication that the English have taken any land there, or that they are cultivating any; while since the treaty, and in violation of the agreement therein made, they have settled many colonists along the Rivers of the Savages, and upon the lands that, as they very well know, can be right. fully disputed with them. Why is this, if not for the purpose of continually advancing toward Canada, to which these lands are much nearer than to Acadia; and to deprive the Savages of the aid that they derive from their nearness to the sea, and to be in possession of them, when they shall take a fancy to settle limits with France [name commissioners to regulate the boundaries of these lands with France]?
If then the Court do not consider it advisable to give help openly to the Savages in this war which the English are kindling among them, It seems at least necessary that it complain loudly of the English violations of the Treaty of Utrecht, and that it take measures in the to have them stopped; and that it may induce the Congress of Cambray to decide that it will not permit the English to molest the savages [Abnaquis] by seizing their lands, and by establishing themselves, against their will [contrary to the law of nations], in a country of which the said Savages have from all time been in possession.
Without that, the certain result will be, either that the Abnaquis, tired of the war, will leave their country; or, what is more probable, will agree, [Page 123] rather than make up their minds to leave it, to the best conditions that they can with the English. The latter, by presents still more valuable than those that we could offer these Savages, will soon succeed in winning them — above all, by making them understand, as they will not fail to do, that France has not cared for them except when she has had need of them; and that now, since it is to her interest not to embroil herself with England, she refuses to enter into their quarrel with the English. This reasoning is within the range of the Savages, and the proof of it would be too plain for them not to yield thereto. It must be added that the Savages derive greater profits from their commerce with the English, who give more [buy more high-priced] Peltries, and who sell their merchandise for less than do the French.
But If, on the contrary, the Court act effectually to place Matters upon their former footing, and to stop the usurpations of the English, the Savages [Abnaquis], coming to hear of this, will become more and more attached to France, [and will not think of leaving their country; and in this way the safety of Canada will be thoroughly provided for]. The Knowledge which fifteen whole years since I came [passed with them] has given me of their habits [customs] and of their character does not permit me to doubt that the best way in which to fix and even render perpetual this attachment, is to increase [to the three villages which are near the English] the annual gratuity that is the Court gives them; and to give to each one of the five villages a Royal medal, which will be, as it were, a constant and indubitable promise, by which which will ever tell them that the King continues to honor them by his Royal Protection. [Page 125]
Documents of 1723-27
CXCVI. — Lettre écrite à Mr le Marquis de Vaudreuil par le Sr Aubry Jésuite missionnaire. À St. françois, 3 octobre, 1723
CXCVII. — Lettre du Père Sébastien Rasles, Missionnaire de la Compagnie de Jésus dans la Nouvelle France, à Monsieur son Frère. A Narantsouak, 12 Octobre, 1723
CXCVIIl. — Lettre du Père de la Chasse, Superieur-General des Missions de la Nouvelle France, au Père * * *, de la même Compagnie. A Quebec, 29 Octobre, 1724
CXCIX. — Lettre du Père du Poisson, Missionnaire aux Akensas, au Père Patouillet. N.p., 
CC. — Deux lettres du P. Nicolas I. de Beaubois à Monsieur de la Loë Secretaire de la Compagnie des Indes. Neüe Orleans, 2e novembre, 1726, et 11e mai, 1727
CCI. — Lettre du Père du Poisson, Missionnaire aux Akensas, au Père * * *. Aux Akensas, 3 Octobre, 1727
Sources: Doc. CXCVL we have from an apograph in the Parliamentary Library, Ottawa. Docs. CXCVII., CXCVIII., CXCIX., and CCI. are from Lettres édifiantes, t. vi., pp. 122-179, 179-189, 299-307, and 307-335, respectively, We publish Doc. CC. from the original MSS., in the collection of the late G. Devron, New Orleans, La. The emendations necessary to supply words missing on the worn or broken edges are mainly Dr. Devron’s; they are printed within brackets. A few words are illegible in the MSS.; these are marked by leaders, thus: . . [Page 127]
Letter written to Monsieur the Marquis de Vau-
dreuil by Sieur Aubry, Jesuit Missionary.
At St. François, October 3, 1723.
The chief of our mission, Nanoudohout, has doubtless recently explained to you the message that Neskambeoui has brought from the Renards [Foxes]: and how all the Savages, even the young men, of my mission have been horrified that the Renards should thus invite them to declare themselves for that tribe against the upper nations, — because that would be, they say, to declare themselves Against your children and their brothers. This will not prevent me, however, from giving myself the honor of writing to you something on this subject. ” We have,” they say, ‘& another war to Sustain, a just and necessary one, against the english, without consenting to enter upon another, which is both unjust and pernicious. We did very well to obey Monsieur de Vaudreuil, our father, 4 years ago, when Nenangounikou came to invite us on the part of those Renards to go in great numbers to their country, to eat the beaver’s tail there,”— that means, “to pursue our Hunting, and make our abode there.” “Their fine message must amount to just this: we would there be engaged in their war, against all Nations.”
That, Monsieur, is what our young men, our old men, and I have understood. I can only testify to [Page 129] you anew my gratitude that you did actually stop them then, and that you made them descend from Montreal and return to our mission; for, if they had Followed the invitations of this Nenangousikou, the mission would have been greatly injured, and the greater part of our young men Would be now Like this Nenangousikou, — both without Christianity and without affection for the french, in that country of the Renards. Allow me, accordingly, now to offer you anew my thanks, and to have the honor of assuring you that I am with profound respect, Monsieur,
Your very humble and
very obedient Servant,
Joseph Aubry, of the Society of Jesus,
Letter from Father Sebastien Rasles, Mis-
sionary of the Society of Jesus in New
France, to Monsieur his Brother.
this 12th of October, 1723.
onsieur and Very Dear Brother,
The peace of Our Lord.
I can no longer refuse the affectionate entreaties which you have made, in all your letters, that I would inform you somewhat in detail of my occupations, and of the character of the Savage Tribes in the midst of which Providence has placed me for so many years. I do it the more gladly because, in complying with such earnest desires on your part, I satisfy even more your affection than your curiosity.
It was the 23rd of July in the year 1689, when I set sail from la Rochelle; and, after a fairly prosperous voyage of three months, I arrived at Quebec on the 13th of October in the same year. I devoted myself at first to learning the language of our Savages. This language is very difficult; for it is not sufficient to study its terms and their signification, and to acquire a supply of words and phrases, — it is further necessary to know the turn and arrangement that the Savages give them, which can hardly ever be caught except by familiar and frequent intercourse with these tribes.
I then went to dwell in a Village of the Abnakis [Page 133] Tribe which is situated in a forest, and only three leagues from Quebec. This village was inhabited by two hundred Savages, nearly all of whom were Christians. Their cabins were ranged almost like houses in cities; an enclosure of high and closely — set stakes formed a sort of wall, which protected them from the incursions of their enemies.
Their cabins are very quickly set up; they plant their poles, which are joined at the top, and cover them with large sheets of bark. The fire is made in the middle of the cabin; they spread all around it mats of rushes, upon which they sit during the day and take their rest during the night.
The clothing of the men consists of a loose coat of skin, or perhaps a piece of red or blue cloth. That of the women is a covering which extends from the neck to the middle of the leg, and which they adjust very decently. They put on the head another covering which descends as far as the feet, and serves them as a cloak. Their leggings reach from the knee only to the ankle. Socks made of elk-skin, and lined inside with hair or with wool, take the place of shoes. This foot-gear is absolutely necessary for the purpose of adjusting their snowshoes, by means of which they easily walk on the snow. These snowshoes, made in lozenge shape, are more than two feet long and a foot and a half broad. I did not believe that I could ever walk with such appliances; but when I made a trial of them, I suddenly found myself so skillful that the Savages could not believe that that was the first time when I had used them.
The invention of these snowshoes has been of great use to the Savages, not only for traveling over [Page 135] the snow, — with which the ground is covered during a great part of the year, — but also for hunting wild beasts, and especially the elk. These animals, larger than the largest oxen of France, walk only with difficulty on the snow; therefore it is easy for the Savages to overtake them, and often with an ordinary knife fastened to the end of a stick they kill them, and live upon their flesh. After having dressed the skins, in which the Savages are skillful, they sell them to the French and the English, — who give them in exchange loose coats, blankets, large kettles, guns, hatchets, and knives.
To have an idea of a Savage, picture to yourself a tall, strong man, agile, of a swarthy complexion, without a beard, with black hair, and with teeth whiter than ivory. If you wish to see him in fine array, you will find his only ornaments to be what are called “rassades;” these are a sort of shell-work, or sometimes of stone, fashioned in the form of small beads, some white, some black, — which are strung in such a way that they represent different and very exact figures, which have their own charm. It is with these strings of beads that our Savages tie and braid their hair, above the ears and behind; they make of them earrings, necklaces, garters, and belts, five or six inches broad; and with this sort of finery they value themselves much more than does a European with all his gold and precious stones.
The occupation of the men is hunting or war. That of the women is to remain in the village, and with bark fashion baskets, pouches, boxes, bowls, dishes, etc. They sew the bark with roots, and with it make various articles, very neatly wrought. [Page 137] The canoes are also made of a single sheet of bark, but the largest can scarcely hold more than six or seven persons.
It is in these canoes made of bark — which has scarcely the thickness of an écu — that they cross the arms of the sea, and sail on the most dangerous rivers, and on lakes from four to five hundred leagues in circumference. In this manner I have made many voyages, without having run any risk. .Only it once happened to me, in crossing the river saint Lawrence, that I suddenly found myself surrounded by masses of ice of an enormous size; the canoe was cracked by them. The two Savages who were piloting me immediately cried out: “We are dead men; all is over; we must perish!” Notwithstanding, they made an effort, and jumped upon one of those floating cakes of ice. I did likewise; and, after having drawn the canoe out of the water,. we carried it to the very edge of the ice. There we were obliged again to enter the canoe, in order to reach another cake of ice; and thus by jumping from cake to cake we at last came to the bank of the river, without other inconvenience than being very wet and benumbed with cold.
There is nothing equal to the affection of the Savages for their children. As soon as they are born, they put them on a little piece of board covered with cloth and with a small bearskin, in which they are wrapped, and this is their cradle. The mothers carry them on their backs in a manner easy for the children and for themselves.
No sooner do the boys begin to walk than they practice drawing the bow; they become so adroit in this that at the age of ten or twelve years they do [Page 139] not fail to kill the bird at which they shoot. I have been surprised at it, and I would scarcely believe it if I had not witnessed it.
The thing which most shocked me when I began to live among the Savages, was being obliged to take my meals with them; for nothing could be more revolting. When they have filled their kettle with meat, they boil it, at most, three-quarters of an hour, — after which they take it off the fire, serve it in basins of bark, and distribute it among all the people who are in their cabin. Each one bites into this meat as one would into a piece of bread. This spectacle did not give me much appetite, and they very soon perceived my repugnance. Why doss thou not eat? said they. I answered that I was not accustomed to eat meat in this manner, without adding to it a little bread. Thou must conquer thyself, they replied; is that a very difficult thing for a Patriarch who thoroughly understands how to pray? We ourselves overcome much, in order to believe that which we do not see. Then it was no longer a time to deliberate; we must indeed conform to their manners and customs, so as to deserve their confidence and win them to Jesus Christ.
There meals are not regular, as in Europe; they live from day to day. While they have any good food they use it, without being troubled as to whether they will have any at all for following days.
They are devoted to tobacco; men, women, and girls, all smoke the greater part of the time. To give them a piece of tobacco pleases them more than to give them their weight in gold.
In the beginning of June, or when the snow is [Page 141] almost wholly melted, they plant skamounar; this is what we call “Turkey wheat” or “Indian corn.” Their manner of planting it is to make with the finger, or with a little stick, separate holes in the ground, and to drop into each one eight or nine grains which they cover with the same soil that had been taken out to make the hole. Their harvest is made at the end of August.
It was in the midst of these Tribes, which are considered the least rude of all our Savages, that I served my Missionary apprenticeship. My chief occupation was the study of their language; it is very difficult to learn, especially when one has no other masters than Savages. They have several sounds which are uttered only by the throat, without making any motion of the lips; ou, for instance, is of this number, and that is why in writing we indicate it by the figure ŏ, in order to distinguish it from other letters. I spent part of the day in their cabins, hearing them talk. I was obliged to give the utmost attention, in order to connect what they said, and to conjecture its meaning; sometimes I caught it exactly, but more often I was deceived, — because, not being accustomed to the trick of their guttural sounds, I repeated only half the word, and thereby gave them cause for laughter.
At last, after five months of continual application, I succeeded in understanding all their terms; but that did not enable me to express myself to their satisfaction. I had still much progress to make before catching the form of expression and the spirit of the language, which are entirely different from the spirit and form of our European languages. In order to shorten the time, and thus enable me [Page 143] sooner to perform my duties, I selected a few Savages who had most intelligence, and who used the best language. I repeated to them in a clumsy manner some passages from the catechism, and they gave them to me again, with all the nicety of their language; I immediately wrote these down; and, by this means, in a reasonably short time I had made a dictionary, and also a Catechism which contained the precepts and Mysteries of Religion.
It cannot be denied that the language of the Savages has real beauties; and there is an indescribable force in their style and manner of expression. I am going to quote you an example. If I should ask you why God created you, you would answer me that it was for the purpose of knowing him, loving him, and serving him, and by this means to merit eternal glory. If I should put the same question to a Savage, he would answer thus, in the style of his own language: “The great Spirit has thought of us: ‘Let them know me, let them love me, let them honor me, and let them obey me; for then I will make them enter my glorious happiness.’” If I desired to tell you in their style that you would have much difficulty in learning the Savage language, I would express myself in this way: “I think of you, my dear brother, that he will have difficulty in learning the Savage language.”
The Huron language is the chief language of the Savages, and, when a person is master of that, he can in less than three months make himself understood by the five Iroquois tribes. It is the most majestic, and at the same time the most difficult, of all the Savage tongues. This difficulty does not come alone from the guttural sounds, but still more [Page 145] from the diversity of accents; for often two words composed of the same letters have totally different significations. Father Chaumont, who lived fifty years among the Hurons, composed a Grammar of that language which is very helpful to those who come without experience to that Mission. Nevertheless a Missionary is fortunate if he can, even with this aid, express himself elegantly in that language after ten years of constant study.
Each Savage Tribe has its own special tongue; thus the Abnakis, the Hurons, the Iroquois, the Algonkins, the Illinois, the Miamis, and others, have each their own language. There are no books to. teach these languages, and even though we had them, they would be quite useless; practice is the only master that is able to teach us. As I have labored in four different Missions of the Savages, — to wit, among the Abnakis, the Algonkins, the Hurons, and the Illinois, — and as I have been obliged to learn these different languages, I will give you a specimen of each, so that you may perceive how little resemblance there is between them. I choose a stanza from a hymn to the blessed Sacrament, which is usually sung during Mass at the elevation of the blessed Host, and which begins with these words: O salutaris Hostia. The following is the translation, in verse, of this stanza into the four languages of these different Tribes.
In the Abnakis Tongue.
Spem kik papili go ii damek
Nemiani wi kwidan ghabenk
Taha saii grihine. [Page 147]
In the Algonkin tongue.
Kwerais Jesus tegousenam
Nera weul ka stisian
Ka rio vllighe miang
Vas mama vik umong.
In the Huron Tongue.
Jesous outo etti x’ichie
Outo etti skuaalichi-axe
J chierche axerawensta
In the Illinois Tongue.
Pekiziane manet we
Piaro nile hi Nanghi
Keninama wi ou Kangha
Mero winang ousiang hi.
This signifies in French: “O saving Victim, who art continually sacrificed, and who givest life, thou by whom we enter into Heaven, we are all tempted; do thou strengthen us.”
When I had remained nearly two years among the Abnakis, I was recalled by my Superiors; they had assigned me to the Mission of the Illinois, who had just lost their Missionary. I then went to Quebec, whence, after I had devoted three months to studying the Algonkin language, I set out on the 13th of August in a canoe for the land of the Illinois; their Country is more than eight hundred leagues distant from Quebec. You may well believe that so long a journey in these uncivilized regions cannot be made without running great risks, and without suffering many inconveniences. I had to cross lakes of an immense extent, on which storms are as frequent [Page 149] as on the Sea. It is true that we had the advantage of landing every night; but we were happy if we found some flat rock on which we could pass the night. When it rained, the only way of protecting ourselves was to keep under the overturned canoe.
We ran still greater hazards on the rivers, especially in the places where they flow with extreme rapidity. Then the canoe flies like an arrow; and, if it happen to touch any of the rocks, which are very numerous there, it is broken into a thousand pieces. That misfortune befell some of the people who were accompanying me in other canoes; and it was by a special protection of divine goodness that I did not meet the same fate, for my canoe several times went up on those rocks, but without receiving the least injury.
Finally one risks suffering the most cruel torture from hunger, for the length and difficulty of this sort of journey permits him to carry only a bag of Indian corn. It is supposed that hunting will supply food on the way; but, if there be a lack of game, one runs the risk of fasting many days. Then the only resource is to seek a sort of leaf which the Savages call Kenghessanach, and the French Tripes de roches. You would take them for chervil, of which they have the shape, except that they are much larger. They are served either boiled or roasted; in this latter manner I have eaten them, and they are less distasteful than in the former.
I had not suffered much from hunger when I reached Lake Huron; but the case was different with my fellow-travelers, the bad weather having scattered their canoes, they were not able to join [Page 151] me. I arrived first at Missilimakinak, whence I sent them provisions without which they would have died from hunger. They had passed seven days without any other food than the flesh of a crow, which they had killed rather by chance than by skill, for they had not strength to stand upright.
The season was too far advanced for continuing my journey to the Illinois, from whom I was still distant about four hundred leagues. Thus I was obliged to remain at Missilimakinak,, where there were two of our Missionaries — one among the Hurons, and the other with the Outaouacks. These latter are very superstitious, and much attached to the juggleries of their charlatans. They assume for themselves an origin as senseless as it is ridiculous.’ They declare that they have come from three families, and each family is composed of five hundred persons.
Some are of the family of Michabou, — that is to say, of “the Great Hare.” They affirm that this Great Hare was a man of prodigious height; that he spread nets in water eighteen brasses deep, and that the water scarcely came to his armpits. They say that one day, during the deluge, he sent out the Beaver to discover land; then, as that animal did not return, he despatched the Otter, which brought back a little soil covered with foam. He then proceeded to the place in the Lake where this soil was found, which made a little island; he walked all around it in the water, and this island became extraordinarily large. Therefore, they attribute to him the creation of the world. They add that, after having finished this work, he flew away to the Sky, which is his usual dwelling-place; but before quitting the earth [Page 153] he directed that, when his descendants should die, their bodies should be burned, and their ashes scattered to the winds, so that they might be able to rise more easily to the Sky. But he warned them that, should they fail to do this, snow would not cease to cover the earth, and their Lakes and Rivers would remain frozen; and, as thus they could not catch fish, which is their ordinary food, they would all die in the spring-time.
Indeed, when, a few years ago, the winter had lasted much longer than usual, there was general consternation among the Savages of the Great Hare family. They resorted to their customary juggleries; they held several assemblies in order to deliberate upon means of dissipating this unfriendly snow, which was persistently remaining on the ground; when an old woman, approaching them, said: “My children, you have no sense. You know the commands that the Great Hare left with us, to burn dead bodies, and scatter their ashes to the winds, so that they might more quickly return to the Sky, their own country; but you have neglected those commands by leaving, at a few days’ journey from here, a dead man without burning him, as if he did not belong to the family of the Great Hare. Repair your fault at once; be careful to burn him, if you wish that the snow should disappear.” “Thou art right, our Mother,” they answered, “thou hast more sense than we; and the counsel thou hast given us restores us to life.” Immediately they sent twenty- five men to go to burn this body; about fifteen days were consumed in this journey, during which time the thaw came, and the snow disappeared. Praises and presents were heaped upon the old woman who [Page 155] had given the advice; and this occurrence, wholly natural as it was, greatly served to uphold them in their foolish and superstitious belief.
The second family of the Outaouacks maintain that they have sprung from Namepich, — that is to say, from the Carp. They say that the carp having deposited its eggs upon the bank of a river, and the sun having shed its rays upon them, there was formed a woman from whom they are descended; thus they are called “the family of the Carp.” The third family of the Outaouacks attributes its origin to the paw of a Machoua, — that is to say, of a Bear; and they are called “the family of the Bear,” but without explaining in what way they issued from it. When they kill one of these animals, they make it a feast of its own Flesh; they talk to it, they harangue it, they say: “Do not have an evil thought against us, because we have killed thee. Thou hast intelligence, thou seest that our children are suffering from hunger. They love thee, and wish thee to enter into their bodies; is it not a glorious thing for thee to be eaten by the children of Captains?
It is only the family of the Great Hare that burns dead bodies; the two other families bury them. When a great Captain has died, an immense coffin is prepared; after having laid therein the body, clothed in the man’s handsomest garments, they put in it with him his blanket, his gun, his store of powder and lead, his bow, his arrows, his kettle, his dish, his provisions, his war-club, his calumet, his box of vermilion, his looking-glass, his porcelain collars, and all the presents which were made at his death, according to custom. They fancy that with this [Page 157] equipment he will make his journey to the other world more successfully, and will be better received by the great Captains of the Tribe, who will lead him with them into a place of delights.
While they are arranging everything in the coffin, the relatives of the dead man are present at the ceremony, weeping after their manner, — that is to say, chanting in a mournful tone, and swinging in harmony a rod to which they have attached several little bells.
Where the superstition of these tribes appears the most extravagant is in the worship that they pay to what they call their Manitou; as they know hardly anything but the animals with which they live in the forests, they imagine that there is in these animals, — or, rather, in their skins, or in their plumage, — a sort of spirit who rules all things, and who is the master of life and of death. According to them, there are Manitous common to the whole Tribe, and there are special ones for each person. Oussakita, they say, is the great Manitou of all the animals that move on the earth or fly in the air. He it is who rules them; therefore, when they go to the hunt, they offer to him tobacco, powder, and lead, and also well-prepared skins. These articles they fasten to the end of a pole, and, raising it on high, they say to him: “Oussakita, we give thee something to smoke, we offer thee something for killing animals. Deign to accept these presents, and do not permit the animals to escape our arrows; grant that we may kill the fattest ones, and in great number, so that our children may not lack clothing or food.”
They call the Manitou of waters and fishes Michibichi; [Page 159] and they offer him a somewhat similar sacrifice when they go to fish, or undertake a voyage. This sacrifice consists of throwing into the water tobacco, provisions, and kettles; and in asking him that the water of the river may flow more slowly, that the rocks may not break their canoes, and that he will grant them an abundant catch.
Besides these common Manitous, each person has his own special one, which is a bear, a beaver, a bustard, or some similar animal. They carry the skin of this animal to war, to the hunt, and on their journeys, — fully persuaded that it will preserve them from every danger, and that it will cause them to succeed in all their undertakings.
When a Savage wishes to take to himself a Manitou the first animal that appears to his imagination during sleep is generally the one upon which his choice falls. He kills an animal of this kind, and puts its skin — or its feathers, if it be a bird — in the most conspicuous part of his cabin; he makes a feast in its honor, during which he addresses it in the most respectful terms; and thereafter this is recognized as his Manitou.
As soon as I saw the coming of spring I left Missilimakinak, that I might go the country of the Illinois. I found on my way many Savage Tribes, among them the Maskoutings, the Sakis, the Omikoues, the Ouinipegouans, the Outagamis, and others. All these Tribes have their own peculiar language; but, in all other respects, they do not differ in the least from the Outaouacks. A Missionary who lives at the bay des Puants, makes excursions, from time to time, ’ to the homes of these Savages, in order to instruct them in the truths of Religion. [Page 161]
After forty days of travel I entered the .river of the Illinois, and, after voyaging fifty leagues, I came to their first Village, which had three hundred cabins, all of them with four or five fires, One fire is always for two families. They have eleven Villages belonging to their Tribe. On the day after my arrival, I was invited by the principal Chief to a grand repast, which he was giving to the most important men of the Tribe. He had ordered several dogs to be killed; such a feast is considered among the Savages a magnificent feast; therefore, it is called “the feast of the Captains.” The ceremonies that are observed are the same among all these Tribes. It is usual at this sort of feast for the Savages to deliberate upon their most important affairs, — as, for instance, when there is question either of undertaking war against their neighbors, or of terminating it by propositions of peace.
When all the guests had arrived they took their places all about the cabin, seating themselves either on the bare ground or on the mats. Then the Chief arose and began his address. I confess to you that I admired his flow of language, the justness and force of the arguments that he presented, the eloquent turn he gave to them, and the choice and nicety of the expressions with which he adorned his speech. I fully believe that, if I had written down what this Savage said to us, offhand and without preparation, you would readily acknowledge that the most able Europeans could scarcely, after much thought and study, compose an address that would be more forcible and better arranged.
When the speech was finished, two Savages, who performed the duty of stewards, distributed dishes. [Page 163] to the whole company, and each dish served for two guests; while eating, they conversed together on indifferent matters; and when they had finished their repast they withdrew, — carrying away according to their custom, what remained on their dishes.
The Illinois do not give those feasts that are customary among many other Savage Tribes, at which a person is obliged to eat all that has been given him, even should he burst. When any one is present at such a feast and is unable to observe this ridiculous rule, he applies to one of the guests whom he knows to have a better appetite, and says to him: “My brother, take pity on me; I am a dead man if thou do not give me life. Eat what I have left, and I will make thee a present of something.” This is their only way out of their perplexity.
The Illinois are covered only around the waist, otherwise they go entirely nude; many panels with all sorts of figures, which they mark upon the body in an ineffaceable manner, take with them the place of garments. It is only when they make visits, or when they are present at Church, that they wrap themselves in a cloak of dressed skin in the summer-time, and in the winter season in a dressed skin with the hair left on, that they may keep warm. They adorn the head with feathers of many colors, of which they make garlands and crowns which they arrange very becomingly; above all things, they are careful to paint the face with different colors, but especially with vermilion. They wear collars and earrings made of little stones, which they cut like precious stones; some are blue, some red, and Some white as alabaster; to these must be added a flat piece of porcelain which finishes the collar., The Illinois are [Page 165] persuaded that these grotesque Ornaments add grace to their appearance, and win for them respect.
When the Illinois are not engaged in war or in hunting, their time is spent either in games, or at feasts, or in dancing. They have two kinds of dances; some are a sign of rejoicing, and to these they invite the most distinguished women and young girls; others are a token of their sadness at the death of the most important men of their Tribe. It is by these dances that they profess to honor the deceased, and to wipe away the tears of his relatives. All of them are entitled to have the death of their near relatives bewailed in this manner, provided that they make presents for, this purpose. The dances last a longer or shorter time according to the price and value of the presents, — which, at the end of the dance, are distributed to the dancers. It is not their custom to bury the dead; they wrap them in skins, and hang them by the feet and head to the tops of trees.
When the men are not at games, feasts, or dances, they remain quiet on their mats, and spend their time either in sleeping or in making bows, arrows, calumets, and other articles of that sort. As for the women, they work from morning until evening like slaves. It is they who cultivate the land and plant the Indian corn, in summer; and, as soon as winter begins, they are employed in making mats, dressing skins, and in many other kinds of work, — for their first care is to supply the cabin with everything that is necessary.
Among all the Tribes of Canada, there is not one that lives in so great abundance of everything as do the Illinois. Their rivers are covered with swans [Page 167] bustards, ducks, and teal. We can hardly travel a league without meeting a prodigious multitude of Turkeys, which go in troops, sometimes to the number of 200, They are larger than those that are seen in France. I had the curiosity to weigh one of them, and it weighed thirty-six livres. They have a sort of hairy beard at the neck, which is half a foot long.
Bears and deer are found there in great numbers; there are also found countless numbers of oxen and of roebucks; there is no year when they do not kill more than a thousand roebucks, and more than two thousand oxen; as far as the eye can reach, are seen from four to five thousand oxen grazing on the prairies. They have a hump on the back, and the head is extremely large. Their hair, except that on the head, is curly and soft, like wool; their flesh is strong in its natural state, and is so light that, even if it be eaten wholly raw, it causes no indigestion. When they have killed an ox that seems to them too lean, they are satisfied to take its tongue and go in search of one that is more fat.
Arrows are the principal weapons that they use in war and in hunting, These arrows are barbed at the tip with a stone, sharpened and cut in the shape of a serpent’s tongue; if knives are lacking, they use arrows also fur flaying the animals which they kill. They are so adroit in bending the bow that they scarcely ever miss their aim; and they do this with such quickness that they will have discharged a hundred arrows sooner than another person can reload his gun.
They take little trouble to make nets suitable for catching fish in the rivers, bemuse the abundance [Page 169] of all kinds of animals which they find for their subsistence renders them somewhat indifferent to fish. However, when they take a fancy to have some, they enter a canoe with their bows and arrows; they stand up that they may better discover the fish, and as soon as they see one they pierce it with an arrow,
Among the Illinois the only way of acquiring public esteem and regard is, as among other Savages, to gain the reputation of a skillful hunter, and, still further, of a good warrior; it is chiefly in this latter that they make their merit consist, and it is this which they call being truly a man. They are so eager for this glory that we see them undertake journeys of four hundred leagues through the midst of forests in order to capture a slave, or to take off the scalp of a man whom they have killed. They count as nothing the hardships and the long fasting that they must undergo, especially when they are drawing near the country of the enemy; for then they no longer dare to hunt, for fear that the animals, being only wounded, may escape with the arrow in the body, and warn their enemy to put himself in a posture of defense. For their manner of making war, as among all the Savages, is to surprise their enemies; therefore they send out scouts to observe the number and movements of the enemy, and to see if they are on their guard. According to the report that is brought to them, they either lie in ambush, or make a foray on the cabins, war-club in hand; and they are sure to kill some of their foes before the latter can even think of defending themselves.
The war-club is made of a deer’s horn or of wood, [Page 171] shaped like a cutlass, with a large ball at the end. They hold the war-club in one hand, and a knife in the other. As soon as they have dealt a blow at the head of their enemy, they make on it a circular cut with a knife, and take off the scalp with surprising quickness.
When a Savage returns to his own country laden with many scalps, he is received with great honor; but he is at the height of his glory when he takes prisoners and brings them home alive. As soon as he arrives, all the people of the village meet together, and range themselves on both sides of the way where the prisoners must pass. This reception is very cruel; some tear out the prisoners’ nails, others cut off their fingers or ears; still others load them with blows from clubs.
After this first welcome, the old men assemble in order to consider whether they shall grant life to their prisoners, or give orders for their death. When there is any dead man to be resuscitated, that is to say, if any one of their warriors has been killed, and they think it a duty to replace him in his cabin, — they give to this cabin one of their prisoners, who takes the place of the deceased; and this is what they call “resuscitating the dead.”
When the prisoner has been condemned to death, they immediately set up in the ground a large stake, to which they fasten him by both hands; they cause the death song to be chanted, and — all the Savages being seated around the stake, at the distance of a few steps — there is kindled a large fire, in which they make their hatchets, gun-barrels, and other iron tools red hot, Then they come, one after another, and apply these red-hot irons to the different parts [Page 173] of his body; some of them burn him with live brands; some mangle the body with their knives; others cut off a piece of the flesh already roasted, and eat it in his presence; some are seen filling his wounds with powder and rubbing it over his whole body, after which they set it on fire. In fine, each one torments him according to his own caprice; and this continues for four or five hours, and sometimes even during two or three days. The more sharp and piercing are the cries which the violence of these torments make him utter, so much the more is the spectacle pleasing and diverting to these barbarians. It was the Iroquois who invented this frightful manner of death, and it is only by the law of retaliation that the Illinois, in their turn, treat these Iroquois prisoners with an equal cruelty.
What we understand by the word Christianity is known among the Savages only by the name of Prayer. Thus, when I tell you in the continuation of this letter that such a savage Tribe has embraced Prayer, you must understand that it has become Christian, or that it is about to become so. There would be much less difficulty in converting the Illinois, if Prayer permitted them to practice Polygamy; they acknowledge that prayer is good, and they are delighted to have it taught to their wives and children; but, when we speak of it .to them for themselves, we realize how difficult it is to fix their natural inconstancy, and to persuade them to have only one wife and to have her always.
At the hour when we assemble, morning and evening, to pray, all persons repair to the Chapel, Even the greatest Jugglers — that is to say, the greatest enemies to Religion — send their children [Page 175] to be instructed and baptized. This is the greatest advantage that we have at first among the Savages, and of which we are most certain, — for, of the great number of children whom we baptize, no year passes that many do not die before they have attained the use of reason; and, as for the adults, the greater part are so devoted and attached to Prayer that they would suffer the most cruel death rather than abandon it.
It is fortunate for the Illinois that they are very far distant from Quebec; for brandy cannot be taken to them, as is done elsewhere. Among the Savages this liquor is the greatest obstacle to Christianity, and is the source of countless numbers of the most enormous crimes. It is known that they buy it only in order to Plunge themselves into the most furious intoxication; the disturbances and the melancholy deaths which are witnessed every day ought indeed to outweigh the profit that is made in the trade of so fatal a liquor.
I had remained two years with the Illinois, when I was recalled, that I might devote the remainder of my days to the Abnakis Tribe. This was the first Mission to which I had been appointed on my arrival in Canada, and apparently it is the one in which I shall finish my life. I was then obliged to return to Quebec, in order to set out from there to rejoin my dear Savages. I have already told you of the length and hardships of that journey; therefore I shall speak to you only of a very cheering incident which befell me about 40 leagues from Quebec.
I was in a sort of Village where there were twenty- five French households, and a Curé. who was in charge. Near this Village was seen a cabin of [Page 177] Savages, in which was a girl sixteen years old, whom a disease of several years' duration had brought to the point of death, Monsieur the curé, who did not understand the language of these Savage begged me to go to hear the confession of the patient, and he himself guided me to the cabin. In the conversation that I had with this young girl on the truths of Religion, I learned that she had been very well instructed by one of our Missionaries, but that she had not yet received baptism. After having spent two days in putting to her all the questions suited to assure me of her preparation, she said to me:” I implore thee, do not refuse me the grace of baptism which I ask from thee. Thou seest how my lungs are oppressed, and that I have a very short time to live; what a calamity it will be for me, and what reproaches must thou not cast upon thyself, should I die without receiving this grace!” I answered her that she should be prepared for it the next day, and I withdrew. The joy that my answer caused her produced in her such a sudden change that she was able to go early in the morning to the Chapel. I was extraordinarily surprised at her entrance, and at once, in a solemn manner, administered baptism to her; she then returned to her cabin, where she did not cease to thank divine mercy for so great a blessing, and to long for the happy moment which should unite her to God for all eternity. Her wishes were granted, and I had the happiness to be present at her death. What an ordering of providence for this poor girl, and what a consolation for me to have been the instrument that God chose to use in order to place her in Heaven!.
Do not demand of me, my dear brother, that I [Page 179] should enter into a minute account of all that has happened to me during the many years that I have spent in this Mission; my occupations are always the same, and, should I enlarge upon them, I would run the danger of tiresome repetitions; I shall content myself with relating to you certain facts which seem to me the most worthy of your attention. I can say to you that generally you would have difficulty in restraining your tears were you in my Church, with our Savages gathered there; and were you witness of the piety with which they repeat their prayers, chant the divine Office, and participate. in the Sacraments of Penance and of the Eucharist. When they have been illuminated by the light of Faith, and have sincerely embraced it, they are no longer the same men; and the greater part of them preserve the innocence that they received at baptism. It is this that fills me with the sweetest joy when I hear their confessions, which are frequent; whatever questions I may put to them, it is often with difficulty that I can find anything that requires. absolution.
My occupations with them are continual. As they expect assistance only from their Missionary and have entire confidence in him, it is not enough for me to perform the spiritual duties of my ministry for the sanctification of their souls; I must also enter into their temporal affairs, must always be ready to console them when they come to consult me, and must decide their little differences; I must take care of them when they are sick, bleed them, give them medicines, etc. My days are sometimes so full that I am obliged to shut myself up, that I may find time to attend to prayer and recite my Office. [Page 181]
The zeal with which God has filled me for my Savages caused me to be much alarmed in the year 1697, when I heard that a Tribe of Amalingan Savages were coming to settle at a day’s journey from my Village. I had reason to fear that the juggleries of their charlatans, — that is to say, the sacrifices that they make to the demon, — and the disorders which are the usual consequence of those rites, might make an impression on some of my young Neophytes; but, thanks to divine Mercy, my fears were very soon dissipated, in the manner which I am about to describe to you.
One of our Captains, celebrated in this country for his valor, having been killed by the English, from whom we are not distant, the Amalingans sent several men of their Tribe as envoys to our Village, to dry the tears of the relatives of this illustrious dead man, — that is to say, as I have already explained to yea, to visit them, to make them presents, and to declare by the usual dances the interest that they were taking in their affliction. They arrived on the eve of Corpus Christi Day. I was then employed in hearing the confessions of my Savages, which continued all that day, the following night, and the next day until noon, — when the Procession of the Most Blessed Sacrament began. It was made with great order and piety, and although in the midst of these forests, yet with more pomp and magnificence than you would suppose. This spectacle, which was new to the amalingans, touched them, and struck them with admiration, I believed it my duty to profit by the favorable mood in which they were; and, after having brought them together, I made them the following address in savage style. [Page 183]
“My children, for a long time I have desired to see you; now that I have this happiness, my heart is almost bursting. Think of the joy that a father has who tenderly loves his children, when he sees them again after a long absence in which they have run great dangers, and you will conceive a part of mine. For, although you do not yet pray, I nevertheless look upon you as my children, and have for you a father’s tenderness, — because you are the children of the Great Spirit, who has given life to you, as well as to those who pray; who has made Heaven for you as well as for them; who thinks of you as he thinks of them and of me; and who desires that all should enjoy eternal happiness. What causes my sorrow and diminishes my joy in seeing you is the thought, which I have at this moment, that some day I shall be separated from a part of my children, whose destiny will be eternally unfortunate because they do not pray; while the others, who pray, will be in joy which shall never end. When I think of this sad separation, can I have a contented heart? The happiness of those who pray does not give me so much joy as the unhappiness of those who do not pray grieves me. If you have insurmountable obstacles to prayer, and if, remaining in the condition in which you are, I were able to make you enter into Heaven, I would spare nothing in order to procure for you this happiness. I would urge you on, I would make you all enter there, so much do I love you, and so much do I desire that you should be happy; but that is not possible. You must pray, and you must be baptized, that you may be able to enter that place of delight.”
After this preamble, I explained to them at great [Page 185] length the principal articles of the Faith, and continued thus:
“All these words that I have just explained to you are not human words; they are the words of the Great Spirit. They are not written like the words of men, upon a collar, on which a person can say everything that he wishes; but they are written in the book of the Great Spirit, to which falsehood cannot have access.”
In order to make you understand this savage expression, my dear brother, I must mention that the custom of these Tribes, when they write to another Tribe, is to send a collar or a broad belt, upon which they make many figures with porcelain beads of different colors. They instruct him who bears the collar, by saying to him: “This is what the collar says to such a Tribe, to such a person,” and they send him away. Our Savages would have difficulty in understanding what we say to them, and would not be very attentive, if we did not conform to their manner of thought and expression. I continued in this way:
“Take courage, my children; listen to the voice of the Great Spirit, who speaks to you by my mouth; he loves you, and his love for you is so great that he has given his life, that he may procure for you an eternal life. Alas! perhaps he permitted the death of one of your Captains only that he might draw you to the place of prayer, and cause you to hear his voice. Consider that you are not immortal. The day will come when, in like manner, tears Will be wiped away because of your death; what will it advantage you to have been in this life great Captains, if after your death you are cast into eternal [Page 187] flames? He whom you come to bewail with us rejoiced a thousand times that he had heard the voice of the Great Spirit, and that he had been faithful to prayer, pray as he did, and you will live eternally. Be of good cheer, my children; do not let us separate, — do not let some go in one direction, and some in another. Let us all go to Heaven, it is our own Country; the one and only master of life — of whom I am but the interpreter — exhorts you to this. Think upon it seriously.”
As soon as I had finished speaking, they conversed together for some time; and afterward their Orator made me this answer in their name: “My father, I am overjoyed to hear thee. Thy voice has penetrated even to my heart, but my heart is still closed, and I am not able to open it at this moment, to make known to thee what is in it, or to which side it will turn. I must await many Captains and other important men of our Tribe, who will come with me next autumn; then I will open to thee my heart. Thou hast heard, my dear father, all that I have to say to thee at this time.”
“My heart is satisfied,” I replied to them; “I am very glad that my words have given you pleasure, and that you ask for time to think them over; you will, for that reason, be only the firmer in your attachment to prayer when you have once embraced it. In the meantime, I shall not cease to address myself to the Great Spirit, and ask him to look upon you with eyes of mercy, and to strengthen your thoughts so that they may turn toward Prayer,” After that, I left their assembly, and they returned to their own Village.
When the autumn had come, I heard that one of [Page 189] Our Savages Was intending to go to the Amalingans in search of grain for planting his fields. I sent for him and charged him to tell them for me that I was impatient to see my children again, that they were always present in my mind, and that I begged them to remember the promise which they had given me. The Savage delivered his message faithfully. The following is the answer that the Amalingans made to him:
“We are obliged to our father for constantly thinking of us. For our part, we have thought much about what he said to us. We cannot forget his words while we have a heart; for they are so deeply impressed upon it that nothing can efface them. We are persuaded that he loves us; we wish to listen to him, and to obey him in what he desires of us. We approve the prayer that he proposes to us, and we see in it nothing but what is good and praiseworthy; we are all resolved to embrace it, and we would already have gone to our father in his own Village, if there had been sufficient provisions for our subsistence during the time that he would devote to our instructions. But how could we find provisions there? We know that there is hunger in the cabin of our father, and that is what doubly afflicts US — that our father should be hungry, and that we should not be able to go to him for the purpose of receiving instruction. If our father could come here, and spend some time with US, he could have food, and could instruct us. Thou hast heard what thou shalt say to our father.”
This answer of the Amalingans was brought to me at a favorable time; the greater Part of my savages had gone away for a few days, to seek means of. [Page 191] subsistence to last them until they should harvest their Indian corn. Their absence gave me leisure to visit the Amalingans, and, on the very next day, I embarked in a canoe to go to their Village, I had Only a league more to make in order to reach it, when they perceived me; and immediately they saluted me with a continual discharge of guns, which did not cease until I left the canoe. This honor which they were paying me assured me, at the outset, of their present inclinations. I lost no time; as soon as I landed I had a Cross set up, and those who had accompanied me raised, as soon as possible, a Chapel, which they made of sheets of bark in the same way that they make their cabins, and they erected in it an altar. While they were employed in that work, I visited all the cabins of the Amalingans, so as to prepare them for the instructions that I was to give them. As soon as I began the instructions they came most assiduously to hear them. I summoned them three times a day to the Chapel, — to wit, in the morning after Mass, at noon, and in the evening after prayer. During the remainder of the day I went around among the cabins, in which I also gave private instructions.
When, after several days of continuous work, I believed them to be sufficiently instructed, I set the day on which they should come to be regenerated in the waters of holy Baptism. The first who came to the Chapel were the Captain, the Orator, three of the most important men of the Tribe and two women. Immediately after their Baptism, two other companies, each of twenty Savages, followed them and received the same grace. Finally, all the others [Page 193] continued to come for this purpose, on that day and the next.
You may well believe, my dear brother, that, whatever hardships a Missionary may undergo, he is well repaid for his trials by the sweet consolation he experiences at having admitted an entire Tribe of Savages into the way of salvation. I was preparing to leave them and return to my own Village, when a messenger came to tell me for them that they were all collected in one place, and begged me to come to their assembly. As soon as I appeared in their midst, the Orator spoke to me in the name of all the others, saying: “Our father, we have no words to declare to thee the inexpressible joy that we all experience at having received Baptism. It seems to us now that we have another heart; all that gave us anxiety has entirely disappeared; our thoughts are no longer wavering; Baptism strengthens us internally, and we are truly resolved to honor it all the days of our life. Thou hast heard what we say to thee before thou leavest us.” I answered by a short address, in which I exhorted them to persevere in the peculiar grace which they had received, and to do nothing unworthy of the name of children of God, with which they had been honored by holy Baptism. As they were preparing to set out for the sea, I added that on their return me would decide whether it would be better that we should go to live with them, or that they should come to form with us one and the same Village.
The Village in which I live is called Nanrantaouack, and is situated in the continental region between Acadia and new England. This Mission is about eighty leagues from Pentagouet, and it is a hundred [Page 195] leagues from Pentagouet to Port Royal. The river of my Mission is the largest of all those that water the territories of the Savages. It ought to be marked on the map under the name of Kinibeki; this has led the Frenchmen to give these Savages the name of Kanibals. This river empties into the sea at Sankderank, which is only 5 or 6 leagues from Pemquit. After having ascended the river 40 leagues from Sankderank you reach my Village, which is on the height of a promontory. We are, at most, only two days’ journey from the English settlements; it takes us more than a fortnight to go to Quebec; and that journey is very difficult and arduous. It was natural that our Savages should trade with the English, and there are no advantages that these latter have not offered to them, for the purpose of winning them and gaining their friendship; but all their efforts have been useless; and nothing has been able to detach them from their alliance with the French. The only band which has united them to us so closely is their firm attachment to the catholic Faith. They are convinced that if they submitted to the English they would soon be without any Missionary, without any Sacrifice, without any Sacrament, and almost without any exercise of Religion; and that gradually they would be plunged back into their former unbelief. This firmness of our Savages has been put to every sort of test by these formidable neighbors, who have never yet been able to obtain any influence over them.
At the time when war was on the point of breaking out between the European Powers, the English Governor, who had recently arrived at Boston, asked our Savages to give him an interview on an island [Page 197] in the sea, which he designated. They consented, and begged me to accompany them, that they might consult me about the crafty propositions that would be made to them — so as to be sure that their answers should contain nothing contrary to Religion, or to the interests of the Royal service. I followed them, and my intention was to keep wholly within their quarters, in order to aid them by my counsel without appearing before the Governor. As we — numbering more than two hundred canoes — were approaching the island, the English saluted us by a discharge of all the guns of their vessels; and the Savages responded to this salute by a like discharge of all their guns. Then, the Governor appearing on the island, the Savages landed in haste; thus I found myself where I did not wish to be, and where the Governor did not wish that I should be. As soon as he perceived me, he came forward a few steps to meet me; and, after the usual compliments, he returned to the midst of his people, and I to the Savages.
“It is by command of our Queen,” he said to them,” that I come to see you: she desires that we should live in peace. If any Englishman should be imprudent enough to do you wrong, do not think of avenging yourselves upon him, but immediately address your complaint to me, and I will render you prompt justice. If we should happen to have war with the French, remain neutral, and do not take part in our differences; the French are as strong as we, therefore leave us to settle our quarrels with each other. We will supply all your wants, we will take your peltries, and we will give you our goods at a reasonable price.” My presence prevented his [Page 199] saying all that he intended; for it was not without a design that he had brought a Minister with him.
When he had finished speaking, the Savages withdrew for the purpose of deliberating together upon. the answer that they should make. During that time, the Governor, taking me aside, said to me: “Monsieur, I beg you, do not influence your Indians to make war upon us.” I answered him that my Religion and my Office of Priest were a security that I would give them only exhortations to peace. I was still speaking, when I suddenly found myself surrounded by about twenty young warriors, who were fearing that the Governor intended to carry me off. In the meantime the Savages advanced, and one of them made the following reply to the Governor:
“Great Captain, thou tellest us not to join ourselves with the Frenchman, in case thou declare war upon him; know thou that the Frenchman is my brother. We have the same prayer, he and I; and we are in the same cabin with two fires; he has one fire, and I have the other. If I see thee enter the cabin on the side of the fire where my brother the Frenchman is seated, I watch thee from my mat, where I am seated by the other fire. If, in watching thee, I perceive that thou carriest a hatchet, I shall think, ‘What does the Englishman intend to do with that hatchet ?’ Then I stand up on my mat, to behold what he will do. If he raise the hatchet to strike my brother the Frenchman, I take my own, and I run toward the Englishman to strike him. Could I see my brother struck in my cabin, and I remain quiet on my mat? No, no, I love my brother too well not to defend him. Therefore, I say to thee, Great Captain, do nothing to my brother, and I shall [Page 201] do nothing to thee; remain quiet on thy mat, and I shall remain at rest on mine.”
Thus ended our conference. A short time afterward some of our Savages came from Quebec, and announced that a French vessel had brought news that war was raging between France and England. Immediately our Savages, after having deliberated according to their custom, ordered the young men to kill dogs for the purpose of making the war-feast, and to find out those men who were inclined to enlist. The feast took place, the kettle was put on, they danced, and 250 Warriors were present. After the feast they set a day for coming to confess. I exhorted them to be as devoted to prayer as they were in their own Village; to observe strictly the Laws of war, to practice no cruelty, to kill no person except in the heat of combat, to treat humanely those who should surrender themselves prisoners, etc.
The manner in which these tribes make war renders a handful of their warriors more formidable than a body of 2 or 3,000 European soldiers would be. As soon as they have entered the enemy’s country, they divide into separate companies, — one of thirty warriors, another of forty, and so on. They say to some: “To you is given this hamlet to eat” (that is their expression), to others: “To you is given this village,” etc. Afterward the signal is given to strike all together, and at the same time in the different places. Our two hundred and fifty warriors spread themselves over more than twenty leagues of country, where there were villages, hamlets, and houses: and, on the appointed day they made simultaneous attacks, very early in the morning. [Page 203] In one Single day they ruined all the English; they killed more than two hundred, and took a hundred and fifty prisoners, while on their side only a few Warriors were wounded, and these but slightly. They returned from this expedition to the Village, each of them having two canoes laden with booty that he had taken.
During the whole time while the war continued, they carried desolation into all the country that belonged to the English; they ravaged their Villages, their Forts, and their Farms; they took away great numbers of cattle, and seized more than six hundred prisoners. Moreover, these Gentlemen — rightly persuaded that I, by upholding my Savages in their attachment to the catholic Faith, was drawing more and more closely the bond which unites them to the French — have employed all sorts of, wiles and artifices to separate them from me. There are no offers or promises which the English have not made to them, if they would but deliver me into their hands, — or at least send me away to Quebec, and take in my place one of their Ministers. They have made several attempts to surprise me and to have me taken away; they have even gone so far as to promise a thousand pounds sterling to the man who should bring them my head. You may well believe, my dear Brother, that these menaces are not enough to intimidate me or to slacken my zeal; I shall be only too happy if I become their victim, and if God deem me worthy to be loaded with irons, and to shed my blood for the salvation of my dear Savages.
When the first news came of the peace that had been made in Europe, the Governor of Boston sent word to our Savages that, if they were inclined to [Page 205] assemble in a place which he named for them, he would confer with them upon the present juncture of affairs. All the Savages repaired to the appointed place, and the Governor spoke to them thus:
“O thou, Naranhous man! I inform thee that peace has been declared between the King of France and our Queen; and that, by the treaty of peace, the king of France cedes to our Queen Plaisance and Portrail [Port Royal], with all the adjacent country. Therefore, if thou wilt, we shall live in peace, thou and I: formerly we were at peace, but the suggestions of the Frenchman made thee break it, and it was to please him that thou earnest to kill us. Let us forget all those wretched affairs, and let us cast them into the Sea, so that they may no longer be seen, and that we may be good friends.”
The Orator responded in the name of the Savages: “It is well that the Kings should be at peace; I am very glad, and I no longer have any difficulty in making peace with thee. It is not I who have been striking thee for twelve years; it is the Frenchman who has used my arm to strike thee. It is true, we were at peace, I had even hurled away my hatchet, whither I know not; and while I was in repose upon my mat, thinking of nothing, some young men brought me a message that the Governor of Canada sent me, and which said to me: ‘My son, the Englishman has struck me, help me to avenge myself; take thy hatchet and strike the Englishman.’ I who have always listened to the word of the French Governor — I sought my hatchet, but I found it all rusty; I put it in order, and hung it to my belt, that I might come to strike thee. Now, when the Frenchman tells me to lay it down, I [Page 207] throw it far away, that we may no longer see the blood with which it is reddened. Therefore, let us live in peace, I am agreed.
“But thou sayest that the Frenchman has given Plaisance and Portrail, which are in my neighborhood, with all the adjacent country; he may give thee all that he will. As for me, I have my own land, that the Great Spirit has given me on which to live; as long as there shall be a child of my tribe, he will tight to retain it.” Thus everything was settled amicably; the Governor made a great feast for the Savages after which each one retired.
The happy event of the peace and the tranquillity which we were beginning to enjoy, suggested to our Savages the thought of rebuilding our Church, which had been ruined in a sudden foray that the English made while our people were absent from the Village. As we are very far distant from Quebec, and much nearer to Boston, the Savages sent there a few of the chief men of the Tribe to ask for laborers, promising to pay them liberally for their work. The Governor received them with great demonstrations of friendship, and showed them every kind of attention. “I myself wish to rebuild your Church,” he said to them, “and I will treat you better than your French Governor has done, — he whom you call your father. It is his duty to rebuild it, since it was he who in a certain way destroyed it, by inducing you to strike me, — for, on my part, I defend myself as I am able; whereas he, after having used you for his defense, abandons you. I shall deal better with you; for not only do I give you workmen, but I also will pay them myself and bear all the expense of the edifice that you are intending to construct. But, as [Page 209] it is not reasonable that I, who am English, should build a Church without putting in it an English Minister to take care of it, and to teach you prayer, I will give you one with whom you will be content, and you shall send back to Quebec the French Minister who is in your Village.”
“Thy words astonish me,” responded the Deputy of the Savages, *‘ and I wonder at the proposition that thou makest me. When thou earnest here thou sawest me a long time before the French Governors did; neither those who preceded thee, nor thy Ministers, ever spoke to me of prayer or of the Great Spirit. They saw my furs, my beaver and elk-skins, and of those alone did they think; it was those that they sought with eagerness; I was not able to furnish them enough, and, when I brought many, then I was their great friend, and that was all. On the contrary, my canoe having one day been misguided, I lost my way and wandered at random for a long time, until at last I landed near Quebec, at a large village of the Algonkins, where the black Robes were teaching. I had hardly landed when a black Robe came to see me. I was loaded with furs, but the French black Robe did not deign even to look at them; he spoke to me first of the Great Spirit, of Paradise, of Hell, and of Prayer, which is the only way of reaching Heaven. I listened to him with pleasure, and I enjoyed his talks so much that I remained a long time in that Village for the sake of hearing him. In short, the Prayer pleased me, and I besought him to instruct me; I asked for Baptism, and received it. Afterward I returned to my own Country and I recounted what had happened to me; my people envied my happiness, and wished [Page 211] to participate in it; accordingly they set out to go to the black Robe, to ask him for Baptism. It was thus that the Frenchman treated me. If, when thou didst first see me, thou hadst spoken to me of Prayer, I would have had the misfortune to pray as thou dost; for I was not capable of distinguishing whether or not thy prayer were right. Therefore I tell thee that I hold to the prayer of the Frenchman; I accept it, and I shall keep it until the world shall burn and come to an end. Accordingly keep thy Workmen, thy money, and thy Minister; I shall speak of them no more, but I shall ask the French Governor, my father, to send me some.”
Indeed, Monsieur the Governor had no sooner heard about the ruin of our Church than he sent us Workmen to rebuild it. It has a beauty that would make it favorably regarded in Europe, and I have spared nothing in its decoration. You could see by the details which I gave you in the letter to my nephew that, in the depths of these forests and among these Savage Tribes, divine Service is performed with much propriety and ceremony, I am very attentive to this, not only when the Savages remain in the Village, but also when they are obliged to live at the Seashore, — where they go twice every year, for the purpose of finding provisions. Our Savages have so destroyed the game of their Country that for ten years they have no longer either elks or deer. Bears and Beavers have become very scarce. They seldom have any food but Indian corn, beans, and squashes. They crush the corn between two stones, reducing it to meal; afterward they make of it a porridge, which they sometimes season with fat or with dried fish. When they are without corn, [Page 213] they search the cultivated fields for potatoes, or even for acorns, which they value as highly as corn; after having dried these, they roast them in a kettle with ashes, in order to take away their bitterness. As for me, I eat them dry, and they take the place of bread.
At a certain season, our people go to a river not very far distant, where during one month the fish ascend the river in so great numbers that a man could fill fifty thousand barrels with them in a day, if he could be equal to that work. These fish are a sort of large herring, very agreeable to the taste when they are fresh; they crowd upon each other to the depth of a foot, and are drawn up as you would draw water. The Savages put them to dry for eight or ten days, and they live upon them during the whole time while they are planting their fields.
They plant corn only in the spring, and do their last tilling about Corpus Christi day; after that, they consider to which place by the Sea they shall go to seek food until the time of harvest, which generally takes place shortly after the Assumption. After having conferred together, they send to beg me to come to their Assembly. As soon as I arrive, one of the number speaks thus, in the name of all the others: “Our father, what I say to thee is what all those whom thou seest here say to thee; thou knowest us, and thou knowest that we are in need of provisions. We have scarcely been able to give the last work to our fields, and we have no other resource, until harvest, but to go to the shore of the Sea in search of food. It would be hard for us to give up our Prayer; therefore we hope that. [Page 215] thou wilt be disposed to accompany us, so that, while seeking for food, we shall not interrupt our Prayer. Such and such men are going to take thee in their canoe, and what thou hast to carry shall be distributed among the other canoes. Thou hast heard what I have to say to thee.” I have no sooner responded kekikberba this is a savage expression which means, “I hear you, my children; I grant what you ask”), than all cry out at the same time ouriounie, which is an expression of thanks. Immediately after this, they set out from the Village.
As soon as we have reached the place where we are to spend the night, they set up poles at certain intervals, in the form of a Chapel, they surround it with a large tent-cloth, and it is open only in front. The whole is set up in a quarter of an hour. I always have them take for me a smooth cedar board, four feet long, with something to support it: this serves for an Altar, above which is placed a very appropriate canopy. I adorn the interior of the Chapel with most beautiful silk fabric; a mat of rushes colored and well wrought, or perhaps a large bearskin, serves as a carpet. These are carried all ready for use, and, as soon as the Chapel is set up, we need only to arrange them. At night I sleep upon a rug; the Savages sleep uncovered in the open fields, if it do not rain; if it rain or snow, they cover themselves with sheets of bark, which they carry with them, and which are rolled up like cloth, If the journey be made in winter, they remove the snow from the place where the Chapel is to be placed, and then it is set up as usual. Every day we have evening and morning Prayers, and I offer the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. [Page 217]
When the Savages have come to the end of their journey, they busy themselves on the very next day in erecting a Church, which they cover with their sheets of hark. I carry with me my Chapel and everything that is necessary to adorn the chancel, which I cause to be hung with silks and handsome calicoes. Divine Service is performed as it is in the Village; and in truth they, with all their bark cabins, which they erect in less than an hour, constitute a sort of Village. After the Assumption they leave the Sea, and return to the village to gather their harvest. They have from it something to live upon, although in a very wretched way, until after All Saints’ day, when they return a second time to the Sea. At that season they have very good food. Besides large fish, shell-fish, and fruit, they find bustards, ducks, and all sorts of game, with which the Sea is covered at the place where they encamp — which is divided into a large number of small islands. The hunters who go out in the morning to hunt ducks and other kinds of game sometimes kill a score at a single shot. At the Purification, — or, at the latest, on Ash Wednesday, — they return to the Village; it is only the Hunters who separate from the people and go to hunt bears, elks, deer, and beavers.
These good Savages have often given proofs of the most sincere attachment to me, — especially on two occasions when, being with them at the Seashore, they became greatly alarmed on my account. One day, when they were engaged in hunting, the report suddenly went forth that a party of English had burst into my quarters and carried me away. They instantly assembled, and the result of their [Page 219] deliberation was that they should Pursue this company until they overtook them, and should snatch me from their hands, even should it cost them their lives. They forthwith sent two young Savages to my quarters, although it was late in the night. When they entered my cabin, I was occupied in writing the life of a Saint in the Savage tongue. “Ah! our father,” they exclaimed, “how glad we are to see thee !” “I am likewise very glad to see you,” I responded; “but what brought you here in such frightful weather?” “We have come to no purpose, “they said; “we were assured that the English had carried thee away, and we came to look for their tracks. Our Warriors will not long delay coming to pursue them, and to attack the Fort, — where, if the news had been true, the English would doubtless have imprisoned thee.”” You see, my children,” I replied to them, “that your fears are unfounded; but the friendship that my children show me fills my heart with joy; for it is a proof of their attachment to Prayer. To-morrow you shall depart immediately after Mass, in order to undeceive our brave Warriors, as soon as possible, and free them from all uneasiness.”
Another alarm, equally false, threw me into great perplexity, and exposed me to danger from hunger and distress. Two Savages came in haste to my quarters to inform me that they had seen the English at the distance of half a day’s journey. “our father,” said they, “there is no time to lose; thou must go away, thou wouldst risk too much in remaining here; as for us, we shall wait for the enemy and perhaps we shall go to meet them. The runners are setting out at this very moment to watch. [Page 221] for them; but, as for thee, thou must go to the Village with these people whom we have brought to conduct thee thither, When we have learned that thou art in a place of safety, we shall be at ease.”
I departed at daybreak with ten Savages who served me as guides; but, after a few days’ journey, we came to the end of our small stock of provisions. My guides killed a dog which was following them, and ate it; afterward they were reduced to their sealskin pouches, which they also ate. It was not possible for me to touch them. Sometimes I lived upon a kind of wood which they boiled, and which when cooked is as tender as half-cooked radishes — excepting the heart, which is very hard and is thrown away; this wood has not a bad favor, but I had extreme difficulty in swallowing it. Sometimes they found attached to trees certain excrescences of wood, which are as white as large mushrooms; these are cooked and reduced to a sort of porridge, but it is very far from having the flavor of porridge. At other times they dried by a fire the bark of green oak, then they pounded it and made it into porridge; or perhaps they dried those leaves that grow in the clefts of rocks and are called “rock-tripe;” when these are cooked they make of them a very black and disagreeable porridge. I ate of all these, for there is nothing which hunger will not devour.
With such food, we could make but short stages each day. In the meantime, we came to a Lake which was beginning to thaw, and where there were already four inches of water on the ice. We were obliged to cross it with our snowshoes on; but as these snowshoes are made of strips of skin, as soon as they were wet they became very heavy and [Page 223] rendered our walking much more difficult. Although one of our men went in advance of us to sound the way, I suddenly sank knee-deep; another man, who was walking by my side, suddenly sank waist-deep, crying out: “My father, I am a dead man!” As I was approaching him to give him my hand, I myself sank still deeper. Finally, it was not without much difficulty that we extricated ourselves from this danger, on account of the impediment caused us by our snowshoes, of which we could not rid ourselves. Nevertheless, I ran much less risk of drowning than of dying from cold in the middle of this half-frozen Lake.
New dangers awaited us the next day at the crossing of a river, which we were compelled to pass on floating cakes of ice. We went over safely, and at last reached our Village. At once I had them dig out some Indian corn that I had left at my house; and I ate of it, wholly uncooked as it was, to appease my pressing hunger, while those poor Savages were making every effort to entertain me well. And, in truth, the repast which they were making ready for me, however frugal and little appetizing it may appear to you, was, in their opinion, a veritable feast. They served me at first a dish of porridge made of Indian corn. For the second course, they gave me a small piece of bear- meat, with acorns, and a cake of Indian corn baked in the ashes. Finally, the third course, which made the dessert, consisted of an ear of Indian corn roasted before the fire, with a few grains of the same roasted in the ashes. When I asked them why they had made me such a fine feast, they answered: “What, our Father! for two days thou hast eaten nothing. [Page 225] could we do less? Alas! would to God that we could very Often regale thee in this manner!”
While I was endeavoring to recover from my fatigue, one of the Savages who had camped on the Seashore, and who was ignorant of my return to the Village, caused a new alarm. Having come to my quarters, and not finding me, or any of those who had camped with me, he did not doubt that we had been carried away by a party of Englishmen; and, going on his way in order to inform the people of his own neighborhood, he came to the shore of a river. There he stripped the bark from a tree on which he drew with charcoal the English surrounding me, and one of the number cutting off my head. (This is the only writing of the Savages, and they understand each other by figures of that kind as well as we understand each other by our letters.) He immediately put this sort of letter around a pole, which he set up on the shore of the river, so that passers-by might be informed of what had happened to me. A short time after, some Savages who were paddling by the place in six canoes, for the purpose of coming to the Village, perceived this sheet of bark: “Here is some writing,” said they, “let us see what it says. Alas!” exclaimed they on reading it, “the English have killed the people in our Father’s neighborhood; as for him, they have cut off his head.” They immediately loosened the braids of their hair, which they left to hang carelessly over their shoulders; and seated themselves around the pole, until the next day, without speaking a single word. This ceremony is among them a mark of the greatest affliction. The next day, they continued their way to within half a league of the [Page 227] Village, where they stopped; then they sent one of their number through the woods to the Village, in order to ascertain whether the English had come to burn the fort and the cabins. I was reciting my breviary while walking beside the fort and the river, when this Savage came opposite to me on the other shore. As soon as he saw me he exclaimed: “Ah, my Father, how glad I am to see thee! My heart was dead, but it lives again on seeing thee. We saw a writing which said that the English had cut off thy head. How glad I am that it told a lie!” When I proposed sending him a canoe that he might cross the river, he responded: “No, it is enough that I have seen thee; I shall retrace my steps and carry this pleasant news to those who are waiting for me, and we shall very soon come to join thee.” Indeed, they came that very day.
I believe, my dearest Brother, that I have satisfied your desires by the details that I have just given you of the nature of this Country, of the character of our Savages, of my occupations, of my labors, and of the dangers to which I am exposed. Doubtless you will judge that I have the most to fear from the English Gentlemen of our neighborhood. It is true that they long ago resolved upon my death; but neither their ill will toward me, nor the death with which they threaten me, can ever separate me from my old flock; I commend them to your devout prayers, and I am with the tenderest affection, etc. [Page 229]
Letter from Father de la Chasse, Superior-
General of the Missions in New France,
to Father * * *, of the same Society.
Quebec, October 29, 1724.
y Reverend Father,
The peace of Our Lord.
In the deep grief that we are experiencing from the loss of one of our oldest Missionaries, it is a grateful consolation to us that he should have been the victim of his own love, and of his zeal to maintain the Faith in the hearts of his Neophytes. From other letters you have already learned the origin of the war which broke out between the English and the Savages: with the former, a desire to extend their rule; with the latter, a horror of all subjection, and an attachment to their Religion — these caused, in the beginning, the misunderstandings which in the end were followed by an open rupture.
Father Rasles, the Missionary of the Abnakis, had become very odious to the English. As they were convinced that his endeavors to confirm the Savages in the Faith constituted the greatest obstacle to their plan of usurping the territory of the Savages, they put a price on his head; and more than once they had attempted to abduct him, or to take his life. At last they have succeeded in gratifying their passion of hatred, and in ridding themselves of the apostolic man; but, at the same time, they have procured for him a glorious death, which was ever the [Page 231] object of his desire, — for we know that long ago he aspired to the happiness of sacrificing his life for his flock. I will describe to you in few words the circumstances of that event. After many acts of hostility had been committed on both sides by the two Nations, a little army of Englishmen and their Savage allies, numbering eleven hundred men, unexpectedly came to attack the Village of Nanrantsouak. The dense thickets with which that Village is surrounded helped them to conceal their movements; and as, besides, it was not enclosed with palisades, the Savages were taken by surprise, and became aware of the enemy’s approach only by a volley from their muskets, which riddled all the cabins. At that time there were only fifty warriors in the Village. At the first noise of the muskets, they tumultuously seized their weapons, and went out of their cabins to oppose the enemy. Their design was not rashly to meet the onset of so many combatants, but to further the flight of the women and the children, and give them time to gain the other side of the river, which was not yet occupied by the English.
Father Rasles, warned by the clamor and the tumult of the danger which was menacing his Neophytes, promptly left his house and fearlessly appeared before the enemy. He expected by his presence either to stop their first efforts, or, at least, to draw their attention to himself alone, and at the expense of his life to procure the safety of his flock.
As soon as they perceived the Missionary, a general shout was raised which was followed by a storm of musket-shots that was poured upon him. He dropped dead at the foot of a large cross that he had [Page 233] erected in the midst of the Village, in order to announce the public profession that was made therein of adoring a crucified God. Seven Savages who were around him, and were exposing their lives to guard that of their father, were killed by his side.
The death of the Shepherd dismayed the flock; the Savages took to flight and crossed the river, part of them by fording, and part by swimming. They were exposed to all the fury of their enemies, until the moment when they retreated into the woods which are on the other side of the river. There they were gathered, to the number of a hundred and fifty. From more than two thousand gunshots that had been fired at them only thirty persons were killed, including the women and children; and fourteen were wounded. The English did not attempt to pursue the fugitives; they were content with pillaging and burning the Village: they set fire to the Church, after a base profanation of the sacred vessels and of the adorable Body of Jesus Christ.
The precipitate retreat of the enemy permitted the return of the Nanrantsouakians to the Village. The very next day they visited the wreck of their cabins, while the women, on their part, sought for roots and plants suitable for treating the wounded. Their first care was to weep over the body of their holy Missionary; they found it pierced by hundreds of bullets, the scalp torn off, the skull broken by blows from a hatchet, the mouth and the eyes filled with mud, the bones of the legs broken, and all the members mutilated. This sort of inhumanity, practiced on a body deprived of feeling and of life, can scarcely be attributed to any one but to the Savage allies of the English. [Page 235]
After these devout Christians had washed and kissed many times the honored remains of their father, they buried him in the very place where, the night before, he had celebrated the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, — that is, in the place where the altar had stood before the burning of the Church.
By such a precious death did the apostolic man finish, on the 23rd of August in this year, a course of thirty-seven years spent in the arduous labors of this Mission. He was in the sixty-seventh year of his life. His fastings and his continual hard work had, at the last, weakened his constitution; he had walked with some difficulty for about nineteen years, owing to the effects of a fall by which he broke, at the same time, the right hip and the left leg. Then it happened, since the callus was growing wrong at the place of fracture, that it became necessary to break the left leg again. At the time when it was most violently struck, he bore that painful operation with an extraordinary firmness and an admirable tranquillity. Our Physician, who was present, appeared so astonished at this that he could not refrain from saying: Ah! my Father, let at Least a few groans escape; you have so much cause for them!
Father Rasles joined to the talents which make an excellent Missionary, the virtues which the evangelical Ministry demands in order that it be exercised to any profit among our Savages. He had robust health; and I do not know that, excepting the accident of which I have just spoken, he had ever had the least indisposition. We were surprised at his facility and his perseverance in learning the different Savage tongues; there was not one upon this continent of which he had not some smattering. Besides [Page 237] the Abnakis language which he had spoken longest, he also knew the Huron, the Outaouais, and the Illinois; and he had used them to advantage in the different Missions where they were spoken. From the time of his arrival in Canada his character had ever been consistent; he was always firm and resolute, severe with himself, but tender and compassionate toward others.
Three years ago, by order of Monsieur our Governor, I made a tour of Acadia. In conversing with Father Rasles, I represented to him that in case war should be declared against the Savages, he would run a risk of his life; that, as his Village was only fifteen leagues from the English forts, he would be exposed to their first forays; that his preservation was necessary to his flock; and that he must take measures for the safety of his life. My measures are taken, he replied in a firm voice: God has confided to me this flock, and I shall follow its fate, only too happy to be sacrificed for it. He often repeated the same thing to his Neophytes, that he might strengthen their constancy in the Faith. We have realized But too well, they themselves said to me, that that dear Father spoke to us out of the abundance of his heart; we saw him face death with a tranquil and serene countenance, and expose himself unassisted to the fury of the enemy, — hindering their first attempts, so that we might have time to escape from the danger and preserve our lives.
As a price had been set on his head, and various attempts had been made to abduct him, the Savages last spring proposed to take him farther into the interior, toward Quebec, where he would be secure from the dangers with which his life was menaced. [Page 139] What idea, then, have you of me? he replied with an air of indignation, do you take me for a base deserter? Alas! what would become of your Faith if I should abandon you? Your salvation is dearer to me than my life.
He was indefatigable in the exercises of his devotion; unceasingly occupied in exhorting the Savages to virtue, his only thought was to make them fervent Christians. His impassioned and pathetic manner of preaching made a deep impression upon their hearts. Some Loup families, who have very recently come from Orange, told me with tears in their eyes that they were indebted to him for their conversion to Christianity; and that the instructions which he had given them when they received Baptism from him, about 30 years ago, could not be effaced from their minds, — his words were so efficacious, and left so deep traces in the hearts of those who heard him.
He was not content with instructing the Savages almost every day in the Church; he often visited them in their cabins. His familiar conversations charmed them; he knew how to blend with them a holy cheerfulness which is much more pleasing to the Savages than a serious and melancholy manner. He had also the art of winning them to do whatever he wished; he was among them like a master in the midst of his pupils.
Notwithstanding the continual occupations of his ministry, he never omitted the sacred exercises which are observed in our houses. He rose and made his Prayer at the prescribed hour. He never neglected the eight days of annual retreat; he enjoined upon himself to make it in the first days of Lent, which is the time when the Savior entered [Page 241] the desert. If a person do not fix a time in the year for these sacred exercises, said he to me one day, occupations succeed each other, and, after many delays, he runs the risk of not finding leisure to perform them.
Religious poverty appeared in his whole person, in his furniture, in his living, in his garments. In a spirit of mortification he forbade himself the use of wine, even when he was among Frenchmen; his ordinary food was porridge made of Indian corn- meal. During certain winters in which sometimes the Savages lacked everything, he was reduced to living on acorns; far from complaining at that time, he never seemed more content. For the last three years of his life, the war having prevented the Savages from free scope in hunting and from sowing their lands, their want became extreme; and the Missionary was in frightful need. Care was taken to send him from Quebec the necessary provisions for his subsistence. I am ashamed, he wrote to me, of the care that you take of me; a Missionary born to suffer ought not to be so well treated.
He did not permit any one to lend him a helping hand in his most ordinary needs; he always waited upon himself. He cultivated his own garden, he made ready his own firewood, his cabin, and his sagamité; he mended his torn garments, seeking in a spirit of poverty to make them last as long a time as was possible. The cassock which he had on when he was killed seemed so worn out and in such poor condition to those who had seized it, that they did not deign to take it for their own use as they had at first designed. They threw it again upon his body, and it was sent to us at Quebec.
In the same degree that he treated himself [Page 243] Harshly, was he compassionate and charitable toward others. He had nothing of his own, and all that he received he immediately distributed to his poor Neophytes — Consequently, the greater part of them showed at his death signs of deeper grief than if they had lost their nearest relatives.
He took extraordinary pains in decorating and beautifying his Church, believing that this outward Pomp which strikes the senses quickens the devotion of the barbarians, and inspires them with a most profound veneration for our holy Mysteries. As he knew a little of painting, and as he was quite skillful in the me of the lathe, the Church was decorated with many works which he himself had wrought.
You may well believe, my Reverend Father, that his virtues, of which new France has been for so many years witness, had won for him the respect and affection of Frenchmen and Savages.
He is, in consequence, universally regretted. No one doubts that he was sacrificed through hatred to his ministry and to his zeal in establishing the true . Faith in the hearts of the Savages. This is the opinion of Monsieur de Bellemont, Superior of the Seminary of saint Sulpice at Montreal. When I asked from him the customary suffrages for the deceased, because of our interchange of prayers, he replied to me, using the well-known words of saint Augustine, that it was doing injustice to a Martyr to pray for him, — Injuriam facit Martyri qui orat pro eo.
May it please the Lord that his blood, shed for such a righteous cause, may fertilize these unbelieving lands which have been so often watered with the blood of the Gospel workers who have preceded us; that it may render them fruitful in devout Christians, [Page 245] and that the zeal of Apostolic men yet to come may be stimulated to gather the abundant harvest that is being presented to them by so many peoples still buried in the shadow of death!
In the meantime, as it belongs only to the Church to declare the saints, I commend him to your holy Sacrifices and to those of all our Fathers. I hope that you will not forget in them him who is, with much respect, etc. [Page 247]
Letter from Father du Poisson, Missionary to
the Akensas, to Father Patouillet.
y Reverend Father,
Accept the greetings of a poor Mississipian, who has always esteemed you, and who, if you will permit him to say so, has loved you as well as has the best of your friends. The distance between the places in which Providence has put us both shall never weaken in me these feelings toward you, nor the gratitude which I have for the friendship that you were good enough to bear me during the time while we lived together. The favor that I ask of you for the future is to think of me a little, to pray to God for me, and to give me from time to time welcome news of yourself. I am not yet sufficiently acquainted with the Country and with the customs of the Savages to give you information of them; I shall only tell you that the Mississipi presents to the traveler nothing beautiful, nothing exceptional, save itself: nothing mars it but the continuous forest on both sides, and the frightful solitude in which a person is during the whole voyage. Having, then, nothing peculiar to write to you of this Country, permit me to tell you what has happened to me since I have been at the post to which Providence has assigned me.
Two days after my arrival here, the Village of the Sauthouis sent two Savages to ask me if I would be pleased to have them come to chant the calumet [Page 249] for me: they were arrayed as for a ceremony, carefully mataché, — that is to say, the whole body painted with different colors, — with wildcats’ tails at the places where the wings of Mercury are represented; with calumet in hand, and upon the body little bells, which from afar announced their coming. I answered them that I was not like the French Chiefs, who command warriors, and who come with booty to make them presents; that I had come only to make them know the great spirit, whom they did not know; and that I had brought only the things necessary for this purpose. I told them that I would, nevertheless, accept their calumet on the day when some pirogue should be sent for me; this was to put them off to the Greek Calends; they waved the calumet before my face, and returned to carry my answer. Two days afterward, the Chiefs came to make the same inquiry — adding that it was without design that they wished to dance the calumet in my presence; without design signifies among them that they are making a present without any anticipation of return. I had been informed of all this; I knew that the hope of gain was making them very attentive, and that when the Savage gives, even without design, double must be returned to him, or he will probably be displeased; I therefore made them the same answer that I had given to the deputies. Finally they returned again to the charge, in order to ask if I would at least be willing that their young men should come to dance in my village, without design, the reconnoiter dance (this is the one they dance when they send to reconnoiter the enemy). I answered that it would not trouble me, that their [Page 251] young men could come to dance, and that I would look at them with pleasure. All the people of the Village, except the women, came the next day at dawn; we had nothing but dances, songs, and harangues until noon, Their dances, as you may well imagine, are somewhat odd; but the precision with which they mark the time is as surprising as the contortions and efforts that they make. I saw well that I must not send them away without giving them a great kettle [i.e., feast]: I borrowed from a Frenchman a kettle similar to those which are in the kitchen of the Invalides, and I gave them corn without stint. Everything went on without confusion; two of their number performed the office of cooks, dividing the portions with most exact impartiality, and distributing them in like manner; there was heard only the usual exclamation, ho, which each one pronounced when his portion was given him. I never saw a meal eaten with worse manners or with better appetite. They went away well satisfied; but, before going, one of the Chiefs spoke to me again about accepting their calumet. I put them off as I had done before; in fact, to accept their calumet involves considerable expense. In the beginning, when it was necessary to conciliate them, the Directors of Monsieur Laws’s grant, and the Commandants, who accepted their calumet, made them great presents; and these Savages thought that I was going to revive the old custom. But, even could I do so, I would certainly avoid it, because there would be danger of their hearing me speak of Religion only from interested motives; and because elsewhere we have learned by experience that the more we give the Savages, the less cause [Page 253] have we to be satisfied with them, as gratitude is a virtue of which they have not the slightest idea.
Hitherto I have had no leisure to devote myself to their language; however, as they make me frequent visits, I ask them: Talon jajai? “What do you call that? “I already know enough of their language to make myself understood in the commonest things; there are no Frenchmen here who are thoroughly familiar with it, as they have learned, and that very superficially, what is necessary that J they should know for trade. I understand it now as well as they; but I foresee that it will be very difficult for me to learn as much as will be necessary in order to speak to these Savages concerning Religion. I have reason to think that they fully believe that I know their language perfectly. A Frenchman was speaking of me to one of them, who said: “I know that he has a great mind, that he Knows everything.” You see that they pay me infinitely more honor than I deserve. Another Savage made me a long harangue; I understood only these words: indatai, “my father,” uyginguai, “my son.” I answered him at random, when I saw that he was questioning me: ai, “yes,” igalon, “that is good.” Then he passed his hand over my face and shoulders, and afterward did the same to himself. After all these agios he went away with a contented air. Another came, some days after, for the same ceremony; as soon as I perceived him I called a Frenchman to me, and begged him to explain what was said to me without appearing to serve me as interpreter, for I wished to know if I had been mistaken in answering the first. This man asked me if I were inclined to adopt him as my son; if so, when he returned from the hunt [Page 255] he would cast, without design, his game at my feet and I should not say to him as other Frenchmen did: for what dost thou hunger? (this means, “What dost thou wish me to give for that? “) but I should make him sit down, and should give him food as to my own son; and when he returned a second time to see me, I should say: “Sit down, my son; look, here are vermilion and powder,” You see the spirit of the Savages; they wish to appear generous in giving without design, and they nevertheless wish to lose nothing. I responded to his words: Igaton thé, “That is very good; I approve it, and consent to it,” — after which he passed his hand over me, as the other had done. Here is another anecdote, which shows how generous they are. Day before yesterday I received a visit from a Chief, and I offered him a pipe; to fail in this would be to fail in politeness. A moment after, he went for a mataché buckskin — which he had left in the entry of the house in which I live — and put it upon my shoulders; this is their way when they make presents of that sort. I begged a Frenchman to ask him, without appearing to do it for me, what he wished that I should give him: I have given without design, he answered, am I trading with my father? (“Trading” here means “paying.“) Nevertheless, a few moments afterward he said to the same Frenchman that his wife had no salt, and his son no powder; his aim was that this Frenchman should repeat it to me. A Savage gives nothing for nothing, and we must observe the same rule toward them; otherwise we should be exposed to their contempt. A mataché skin is a skin painted by the Savages in different colors, and on which they represent calumets, birds, [Page 257] and beasts. Those of deer can be used as tablecovers, and those of cattle as bed-covers.
The French settlement of the Akensas would be an important one, had Monsieur Laws’s reputation continued four or five years. His grant was here in a boundless prairie, the entrance of which is two gunshots from the house in which I am. The Company of the Indies had granted him a tract sixteen leagues square; that makes, I think, fully a hundred leagues in circuit. His intention was to found a City here, to establish manufactures, to have numbers of vassals and troops, and to found a Duchy, He began the work only a year before his fall. The property which he then sent into this country amounted to more than fifteen hundred thousand livres. Among other things, he had means to arm and superbly equip two hundred cavalrymen. He had also bought three hundred Negroes. The Frenchmen engaged for this grant were men of all sorts of trades. The Directors and subalterns, with a hundred men, ascended the river in five boats in order to come here to begin the settlement: they must at the start procure provisions, that they might be ready to receive those people whom they had left down the river. The Chaplain died on the way, and was buried in one of the sand-banks of the Mississipi. Twelve thousand Germans were engaged for this grant. This was not a bad beginning for the first year; but Monsieur Laws was disgraced. Of the three or four thousand Germans who had already left their country, a large number died in the East, nearly all on landing in the country; the others were recalled. The Company of the Indies took back the grant, and shortly after abandoned it; the entire [Page 259] enterprise has, therefore, fallen to pieces. About thirty Frenchmen have remained here; only the excellence of the climate and of the soil has kept them, for, in other respects they have received no assistance. My arrival here has pleased them because they now think that the Company of the Indies has no intention of abandoning this district, — as they had supposed it would, — inasmuch as they have sent a Missionary here; I cannot tell you with what joy these good people received me. I found them in great need of all things; this poverty, with the excessive and extraordinary heat which has prevailed this year, has prostrated all the people with sickness, I have relieved them as far as I have been able; the few remedies which I brought with me came to them at exactly the right time. The care that I have bestowed upon the sick has not prevented my giving, every Sunday and every Feast-day, an exhortation during Mass, and an instruction after Vespers. I have had the satisfaction of seeing that the majority of them have profited by these to approach the Sacraments, and that the rest are inclined to profit by them. I shall be well compensated for the greatest labors, if they be followed by the conversion of even one sinner.
The hardships of the sea and those of the Mississipi, which are still greater; the change of climate, of food, of everything, has in no respect injured my health; I am the only Frenchman who has been preserved from sickness since I came here. Nevertheless I was pitied for my feeble condition when I left France; for the opposite reason, no one pitied Father Souel, who has already been sick three times since he came into the country. Pray to God that [Page 261] he may give me grace to devote all the strength that I have to the conversion of the Savages; to judge humanly, no great good can be done among them, at least in the beginning. I hope everything from the grace of God. I have the honor to be with respect, etc. [Page 263]
Two letters from Father Nicolas I. de Beaubois
to Monsieur de la Loë, Secretary of
the Company of the Indies.
I have not Yet had the honor of writing to you since [I] left Paris. I have always been like a savage, [lonely] and wandering, especially since my arrival at l’Orient, whence [we] have to make continual excursions to one place or another. Shall we never leave, monsieur? What a cruel assault upon [our] modest purse is caused by this delay and this procrastination, which are as tedious [as] they are long. I must admit to you that the blood boils in my veins at [every] quarter of an hour during the day. At the 1st Opportunity I shall take the liberty [of making] a modest representation regarding this matter to the Gentlemen of the Company. I can truly with a clear Conscience Attempt to obtain some slight gratuity, in order to [pay the] debts that I Contract here every day for my household — whose [expenses] amount, without Counting Extras, to more than 12 livres a day [for] fifteen persons. But no; I shall not ask for Any, except merely an advance of the and quarter. Nothing can Be more reasonable than that. What [say] you? Remember, I beg of you, your usual kindness when this matter is brought up. In truth, my honor and [my] credit are at stake here; and, without some Compassionate repayment on the part of those [Page 265] gentlemen, we shall absolutely be compelled to declare ourselves bankrupt. That would be a mean exit from france, and a ridiculous Entry into Misciscipi. I have seen the Seigneur françois [whom] you place in my charge. Rest assured, monsieur, that I shall take care of him; and I shall render [him] all the services in my power. You were right in warning [me] that he is not very bright, and I will give him [letters pat]ent in confirmation of this whenever he likes. We shall have leisure to become acquainted. [I have] Commenced in a manner that perhaps does not please him much. [He assumes] petty airs of arrogance, of which the entire household has complained to me; and, as [such a complaint] from an entire Body carries weight with it, I took it up, and rather loud [words] ensued. The young man Was affected by this, [as] he is not with me on the footing of a Boarder with the jesuits, — [not being] a man of rank who lives upon his revenues, — and as he is going to Foreign countries through charity. We effected a slight Exchange of his fine titles for the [more prac]tical one of the Jesuit Fathers; and on the spot I made him rinse out a glass, which [he did] with a good grace and Not like an apprentice. You had forgotten to put brother . . . on the list of passengers, on which you entered only six Jesuit fathers; also . . . the Slave that I bought from monsieur de bourgnon — whose name I had begged [you] to insert, and to add to the Number of the 7 workmen. I know [not] whether you have had the kindness to write to Monsieur de fayette respecting ., . of Wax. That Gentleman at the Beginning was somewhat [slow]; he seems to me, however, to be getting over That. But I have to [dis]pute every [Page 267] inch of ground for the little that I have to embark. I say “the little,” because in fact there are very few things besides the boxes [that] have come from Paris, and that will belong to us only when they [shall have been] delivered to us at New Orleans on behalf of your Company. A [little] assistance on your part will do us much good, dear Monsieur de [La Loë]. After that, you might hasten to get rid of [us]. When I set about it, I am somewhat importunate; and if we Had started three weeks ago I would not ask for anything [from the] Company next monday. All the Fathers who are here have directed me [to] send you their greetings, and to assure you of their respect. Think some[times of] us, Monsieur; I am convinced that you do not doubt Our attachment for you. I say nothing of myself individually; I am sure that you will do me justice on That score. I [remain, I] assure you, with all my heart and with all [possible] Consideration,
Your very humble and
very obedient servant,
N. I. de Beaubois, jesuit.
This 2nd of november, 1726.
[Addressed: “Monsieur de La Loë, Secretary of The Company of the Indies, at The hotel In Paris.”]
I am delighted to have nothing but [good] news to give you of this country [in which] you take so much Interest. The arrival, and [Still] more the good management, of Monsieur Perrier have [produced] a great change; his firmness and wisdom [have] imperceptibly restored good Order and [Page 269] Con[cord], which had been banished from here. May God grant that all the good that we write about Louisiana to the Company may Induce Those Gentlemen to accede [liberally] to the requests that you make in Our favor, [I] assure you that they could Not do better; and [if] the Company will but give some slight assurance to the habi[tant,] it is incredible, judging from the past, what he [may] do in the future. I am Head over ears a habitant. The plow has been at work for a fortnight, and [I have] a small Tobacco plantation that Is truly magnificent. It is a great Pity that I should have experienced the [losses that I did] on arriving here, You will see, by the letter [that I wrote] to Monsieur the abbé Raguet, How far this [throws me] back, and in what a state of Embarrassment I am. Praise be to [God]; he is the Master and he knows what [is] needed. I hazard a little request to the [Company] in disclosing to them my misfortune; I know not [whether they] will pay any Heed to [it]. A little Assistance on your [part will do] wonders, and you know How much I [shall] be obliged to you. you will see Poor Monsieur . . once again in the future. I regret him, and the Company deprives itself [of a] good man; he Is always the same, and he claims [that], whatever you may say, you will always [regret him]. Monsieur The abbé Barthelon, who will [hand] you this letter, will give you details [that] will please [you]. He Is a very worthy Ecclesiastic, [who] deserves that the Company should pay some attention to [him]; it would be desirable that you should have only chaplains of that stamp on Your [list]. [I] know not, Monsieur, whether you have had the [Page 271] goodness [to write] to monsieur dela chaise with reference to Me, but I [find him] very hard Toward me. I am quite willing to believe that [this] is not due to his Mind estranged from me, although [I] notice Some trifling things, because I [am] not the Only one who finds him severe. I do all [that] I can to Win his good graces, but everything [is limited] to outward politeness — to which formerly was added something better, which has disappeared.
Will You kindly, Monsieur, do me the [pleasure] of procuring a passage for the daughter of Madame de . . . ? She is a young Child 8 or g years of age, whom Madame ., . had left behind her in france, and whom she is bringing out here to join [her]. If the Company will not grant her a passa[ge], it will be paid here; for That lady Is not in a Position [to] pay it in france. Evidently there must have been [some] counter-order with reference to the Gironde; if [she] sailed at the appointed time, it Is impossible that she should Not be here [already]. We await her with Great impatience, [and I am] very anxious for those poor Nuns, whose arrival here is [looked forward to] like that of the Messiah. I Rely always, Mon[sieur, on] what you Were kind enough to promise me, [and depend upon you to] notify me of what might concern us. I (assure) you that I have great Confidence in you, and I Hope that [you] will be pleased not to disappoint it: All our Fathers who [are] here desire me to Send you their greetings. you [very] often form the Subject of the Conversations of the Com[munity]. They are now all preparing to depart, each to his own [field]. you may imagine my Embarrassment with a farm to cultivate; a Courtyard to make; the departure of [Page 273] 16 or 17 persons for [various] places to attend to; a household to provide for with an empty purse; creditors to satisfy, — and all this at a time when [a] ship is ready to start. I assure you that I am more embarrassed] and more occupied than Is the most worldly lady with her Toilet. I think that poor françois is [perceptibly] getting worse; he is daily becoming more and more stupid. I am Sending him to the Akansas with Father du poisson. He will be very comfortable there; but [should the Father not] succeed in getting something out of Him, [it will] be Necessary to throw the Helve after the [hatchet).
Adieu, Monsieur; a thousand thanks for all [your kind acts]. Continue Them toward me, I beg of you; and rest assured [that by] obliging us you will not oblige ungrateful persons. I have [the honor] to Be, with respect and every Consideration,
Your very humble and
very obedient servant,
N. I. De Beaubois, jesuit.
[At] New Orleans, This 11th of may,
Letter from Father du Poisson, Missionary to
the Akensas, to Father * * *.
reyou curious, my dear friend, to learn the least curious thing in the world, and one which costs most to learn by experience, — that is, the manner of traveling on the Mississipi, — and what this country is, so vaunted and so decried in the same breath in France, and what kind of people live here? I have nothing else to tell you at present; if the account I am about to give of our journey be not interesting, ascribe it to the country; if it be too long, ascribe it to the desire that I have to talk with you.
During our stay at new Orleans, we saw peace and good order reëstablished by the care and the wisdom of the new Commandant-general. There had been two factions among the people who were at the head of affairs; one was called “la grande bande,” and the other, “la petite bande.” This division is done away with, and there is every reason to hope that the Colony will be more firmly established than ever. However that may be, as they were every day expecting the arrival of the pirogue which was to bring Fathers Tartarin and Doutreleau, one of our Brethren, and the Nuns, this made us hasten our departure, so as to spare the Reverend Father de Beaubois additional inconvenience, although it was a bad season for traveling on the Mississipi. Besides, this Father was maintaining Brother Simon, — who, [Page 277] with some engagés, had come down from the Illinois country, — and had been waiting for us three or four months. Simon is a donné of the Illinois Mission; here they call “engagés” the men who are hired to paddle a pirogue or boat, — and, it might be added, to make those people whom they conduct furious.
We embarked then, May 25, 1727, — Fathers Souel, Dumas, and I under the guidance of the good-natured Simon. Fathers de Guienne and le Petit were in a few days to go in another direction — the former, as you know, to the Alibamons, and the latter to the Chasses. Our baggage and that of our engages made a mass which was more than a foot higher than the sides of our two pirogues; we were perched upon a pile of chests and packages, and were powerless to change our position. They prophesied that we would not go far with that equipment. In ascending the Mississipi, they go slowly because the current is very strong. Hardly had we lost sight of new Orleans when a projecting branch of a tree, that was not perceived by the man who was steering, caught a chest, turned it over and caused a young man who was near it to fall headlong, and then roughly struck Father Souel; happily the branch was broken in this first strain, otherwise both the chest and the young man would have been in the water. This accident made us resolve, when we should have reached the Chapitulas, three leagues from new Orleans, to send some one to Father de Beaubois to ask for a larger pirogue.
During that delay we were among people whom we knew. The barbarous name that the country bears shows that it was formerly inhabited by Savages; the five concessions which border the Mississipi. [Page 279] are now called by this name. Monsieur Dubreuil, a Parisian, received us on his concession. The three next ones belong to three Canadian Brothers who, poor but resolute, came to settle in this country, and have made more profit in their business than the concessionaries in France — who to establish their grants have sent millions, which now, for the most part, have melted away. The fifth concession belongs to Monsieur de Koli, a Swiss by Nationality, Seignior of the Estate of Livry, near Paris, one of the most honest men who can be found; he crossed in the same ship with us, that he might see for himself the condition of his grant, for which he has equipped vessels and gone to infinite expense. On each of these concessions there are at least sixty Negroes; they cultivate corn, rice, indigo, and tobacco; these are the grants that have best succeeded in the Colony. I am speaking to you of concessions; I shall also have occasion to speak of settlements and plantations; perhaps you do not know what all these are, but pray have patience to read the explanation.
A certain tract of land granted by the Company of the Indies to a private individual, or to several persons who have together formed a partnership, for the purpose of clearing that land and making it valuable, is called a “concession.” These are what were called, when the Mississipi was in greatest vogue, the “Counties” and “Marquisates” of the Mississipi; the concessionaries are, therefore, the gentlemen of this country. The greater part of them were not people who would leave France; but they equipped vessels and filled them with superintendents, stewards, storekeepers, clerks, and workmen [Page 281] of various trades, with provisions and all kinds of goods. They had to plunge into the woods, to set up cabins, to choose their ground, and to burn the cane-brakes and trees. This beginning seemed very hard to people not at all accustomed to that kind of labor: the superintendents and their subordinates, for the most part, amused themselves in the places where a few Frenchmen had already settled, and there they consumed their provisions. The work had hardly begun when the concession was ruined; the workman, ill-paid or ill-fed, refused to work, or himself took his pay; the warehouses were pillaged. Do you not recognize in this the Frenchman ? It is partly this which has prevented the country from being settled as it should be, after the immense expenditure that has been made for that purpose.
A smaller portion of land granted by the Company is called a “habitation.” A man with his wife or his partner clears a little ground, builds himself a house on four piles, covers it with sheets of bark, and plants corn and rice for his provisions; the next year he raises a little more for food, and has also a field of tobacco; if at last he succeed in having three or four Negroes, then he is out of his difficulties. This is what is called a habitation, a habitant; but how many of them are as nearly beggars as when they began!
A district where there are several habitations not far from one another, which make a sort of Village, is called a “settlement.”
Besides the concessionaries and the habitants, there are also in this country people who have no other occupation than that of roving about: 1st, the [Page 283] women or girls taken from the hospitals of Paris, or from the salpêtrière, or other places of equally good repute, who find that the laws of marriage are too severe, and the management of a house too irksome. A voyage of four hundred leagues does not terrify these heroines; I already know two of them whose adventures would furnish material for a romance. and, The travelers; these, for the most part, are young men sent to the Mississipi “for various reasons” by their relatives or by the law, and who, finding that the laud lies too low for digging, prefer to hire themselves to row and to ply from one shore to the other. 3rd, The hunters; these at the end of summer ascend the Mississipi for two or three hundred leagues, to the country where there are cattle; they make plats côtés, — that is to say, they dry in the sun the flesh that is on the flanks of those animals, — and salt the rest; they also make bear’s oil; toward spring, they descend the river and supply the Colony with meat. The country between here and new Orleans renders this trade necessary, because it is not sufficiently inhabited or sufficiently cleared for cattle to be raised in it. They begin to find wild cattle only at 30 leagues from here; these animals roam in herds over the prairies, or along the rivers; last year a Canadian brought down to new Orleans four hundred and eighty tongues of cattle that he and his partner alone had killed during the winter.
We left the Chapitoulas on the 29th. Although they had sent us a larger pirogue, and notwithstanding the new stowage of baggage and of our people, we had almost as much difficulty as before. We had to make only two leagues that day in order to spend [Page 285] the night at Cannes brulées, the home of Monsieur de Benac, superintendent of the concession of Monsieur d’Artagnan; he received us with kindness and regaled us with a carp from the Mississipi which weighed thirty-five livres. The Cannes brulées are two or three concessions bordering on the Mississipi; it is a place much like the Chapitoulas, and the situation appeared to me even more beautiful.
The next day we made six leagues, — it is seldom that more can be made in ascending this river; and we lodged, or rather we set up cabins, at les Allemands. This is a district that has been assigned to the feeble remnant of that German company which perished from destitution either at L’Orient, or on arriving in Louisiana. Their dwellings showed great poverty. It is here, properly speaking, that we learned what it is to travel on the Mississipi. I will give you a slight idea of it, that I may not be obliged to repeat continually the same thing.
We set out at the time of highest water: the river had risen more than forty feet higher than usual; nearly all the country is lowland, and consequently it was inundated. Thus we were exposed to the danger of finding no cabanage, — that is to say, no land where we could cook and sleep. When we do find it, this is the way we spend the night: If the ground be still muddy, which happens when the water begins to recede, we begin by making a bed of boughs so that the mattress may not sink into the mud; then we spread upon it a skin, — or a mattress and sheets, if we have them. We bend three or four canes in semicircles, the two ends of which we fix in the ground, and separate them from one another according to the length of the mattress; across these [Page 287] we fasten three others; then we spread over this frail structure our baire, — that is to say, a large canvass, the ends of which we carefully fold beneath the mattress. In these tombs, stifling with heat, we are compelled to sleep. The first thing that we do on landing is to make our baires with all possible haste; otherwise, the mosquitoes would not permit us to use them. If we could sleep in the open air, we would enjoy the coolness of the night, and would be very happy. We are much more to be pitied when we find no camping-ground; then we fasten the pirogue to a tree, and if we find an embarras of trees we prepare our meal on it; if we do not find one, we go to bed without supper, — or rather, we have no supper, and we do not go to bed; we remain still in the same position that we kept during the day, exposed through the whole night to the fury of the mosquitoes. By the way, what we call an embarras is a mass of floating trees which the river has uprooted, and which the current drags onward continually. If these be stopped by a tree that is rooted in the ground, or by a tongue of land, the trees become heaped upon one another, and form enormous piles; some are found that would furnish your good city of Tours with wood for three winters. These spots are difficult and dangerous to pass. It is necessary to sail very close to the embarras; the current is rapid there and should the pirogue be driven against these floating trees it would immediately disappear and would be swallowed up in the water under the embarras.
This was also the season of the greatest heat, which was increasing every day. During the whole voyage we had only one entire day that was cloudy; [Page 289] there was always a burning sun above our heads, and we were not able to arrange over our pirogues a little screen which might give us a slight shade. Besides, the height of the trees and the denseness of the woods — which extend along the entire route, on both sides of the river — did not permit us to enjoy the least breath of air, although the river is half a mile wide; we felt the air only in the middle of the river, when we were obliged to cross it so as to take the shortest way. We were constantly drawing the water of the Mississipi with reeds, in order to quench our thirst; although the water is very muddy, it did us no harm. Another refreshment that we had was the grapes which hang from the trees almost everywhere, and which we snatched in passing, or went to gather when we landed. In this country, or at least among the Akensas, there are two sorts of grapes, one of which ripens in summer and the other in the autumn; they are of the same kind; the berries are very small, and yield a very thick juice. There is also another kind: the cluster has only three berries, which are as large as damson plums: our Savages call them asi, contai: grape, plum.
Our provisions consisted of biscuit, salt, and very rancid bacon, rice, corn, and peas; the biscuit failed us a little above the Natchez country. At ten or twelve leagues from New Orleans, we no longer had any bacon; we lived on peas, then on rice, which failed us only on our arrival here; the seasoning consisted of salt, bear’s oil, and a keen appetite. The most ordinary food of this country — almost the only one for many people, and especially for travelers — is gru. Corn is pounded, in order to remove the outer skin, and then is boiled a long time in [Page 291] water, but the Frenchmen sometimes season it with oil; and this is gru. The Savages, pounding the corn very fine, sometime cook it with tallow, and more often only with water; this is sagamité. However, the gru answers for bread; a spoonful of gru and a mouthful of meat go together.
But the greatest torture — without which every thing else would have been only a recreation, but which Passes all belief, and could never be imagined in France unless it had been experienced — is the mosquitoes, the cruel persecution of the mosquitoes. I believe the Egyptian plague was not more cruel: dimittam in te et in servos tuos et in populum tuum et in domos tuas omne genus muscarum, et implebuntur domus Ægyptiorum diversi generis et universa terra in qua fuerint. There are here the frappe-d’abord, and the brûlots; these are very small flies whose sting is so sharp — or, rather, so burning — that it seems as if a little spark had fallen on the part that they have stung. There are gnats, which are brûlots, except that they are still smaller; we hardly see them, and they especially attack the eyes. There are wasps, there are gad-flies, — in a word, there is omne genus mascarum; but we would not speak of the others, were it not for the mosquitoes. This little creature has caused more swearing since the French came to Mississipi, than had been done before that time in all the rest of the world. Be that as it may, a swarm of mosquitoes sets out with the traveler in the morning; when we go through the willows or near the cane-brakes, as almost always happens, another swarm flies furiously to the pirogue, and does not leave it. We are obliged to wave our handkerchiefs continually, which seldom frightens [Page 293] them; they make a little flight and return immediately to the attack; our arms become weary sooner than they do. When we are on land from ten o’clock until two or three, for the purpose of taking our dinner, we have a whole army to fight. We then make a smudge, — that is to say, a large fire that is afterward smothered with green leaves, and we must stay in the thickest of the smoke, if we wish to avoid the persecution; I do not know which is worse, the remedy or the evil. After having dined, we might be inclined to take a little nap at the foot of a tree, but that is absolutely impossible; the time of rest is spent in fighting mosquitoes. We reëmbark with the mosquitoes; at sunset we land again; we must immediately hasten to cut canes, wood, and green leaves so as to make our baires and the smudge, and to prepare our meal; each one does his share of the work. Then it is not one army, but many armies, that we must fight; that is the mosquitoes’ hour! we are eaten, devoured; they enter our mouths, our nostrils, our ears; our faces, hands, and bodies are covered with them; their sting penetrates the clothing, and leaves a red mark on the flesh, which swells on those persons who are not yet proof against their stings. Chicagou, in order to make the people of his Tribe comprehend the multitude of Frenchmen that he had seen, told them that there were as many in the great village (in Paris) as there were leaves on the trees or mosquitoes in the woods. After having hastily eaten our supper, we are impatient to bury ourselves under our baires, although we know that we shall stifle with the heat; but with whatever skill, whatever adroitness we slip under this baire, we always find that some mosquitoes have entered, and [Page 295] only one or two are needed to make us spend a wretched night.
Such are the inconveniences of a Mississipi voyage. How many travelers endure them for a gain that is oftentimes very small! In one of the pirogues that was ascending the river with us, there was one of those heroines of whom I told you, who was going to join her hero; she did nothing but chatter, laugh, and sing. If for a slight temporal good, if even for crime, such a voyage is made, should it be dreaded by men set apart to work for the salvation of souls?
I return to my journal. On the 31st, we made seven leagues; no camping-ground at night; a repast of water and biscuit; slept in the pirogue; eaten by mosquitoes during the night. Nota. It was the eve of Whit-Sunday, a fast-day.
June 1st, we arrived at Oumas, a French habitation, where we found for camping enough land that was not inundated. We remained there the next day, so that our crew might rest. In the evening, Father Dumas and I embarked in a pirogue, which was to make during the night the same distance that we were to make the next day; thereby we avoided the great heat.
On the 3rd, we really arrived very early at Bayugolas (a ruined Tribe), the home of Monsieur du Buisson, Superintendent of the concession of the Paris Gentlemen. We found beds, to which we had already been long unaccustomed; during the morning, we took the rest that the mosquitoes had not permitted us to take during the night. Monsieur du Buisson neglected nothing for our comfort; he regaled us with wild turkey (these are very like domestic turkeys, but they have a better flavor). The concession [Page 297] appeared to us well managed, and in good condition: it would be worth still more if it had always had such a Superintendent. Our people arrived in the evening, and we left the Bayagolas the next day charmed with the good manners and courtesy of Monsieur du Buisson.
Framboise, the chief of the Sitimachas, who had been Monsieur de Bienville’s slave, had come there to see us, and invited us to dine at his home, which we were to pass about noon; he had given us the same invitation before, when he came down to New Orleans with his tribe to chant the calumet to the new Commandant. This gave rise to an adventure with which we would gladly have dispensed, and with reading the account of which you would also dispense; but never mind.
The inundation had compelled the Sitimachas to plunge deeper into the woods; we fired a gunshot to announce our arrival. A gunshot in the woods of the Mississipi is a thunderbolt. Lo! immediately a little Savage appeared. We had with us a young man who knew the language; he spoke to the boy, and then told us that the little Savage had been sent to guide us, as the village was not far away. I must observe that this young man had a good appetite, and that he was well aware that we could not prepare our meal on account of the high water. Trusting his word, we entered a savage pirogue which was there, and the child guided us. We had advanced but a little distance when there was lack of water for the pirogue, and there seemed scarcely anything but mud; our people, who assured us that it was only a step farther, pushed the pirogue by main strength, for the hope of feasting with [Page 299] Framboise encouraged them; but, at length, we found only overthrown trees, mud, and some low ground where the water was stagnant. The little Savage left us there, and disappeared in a moment. What were we to do in these woods without a guide 7 Father Souel jumped into the water, and we did the same; it was somewhat amusing to see us splashing among the thorns and briers knee-deep in water; our greatest trouble was to draw our shoes out of the mud. At last, very muddy and very weary, we arrived at the village which was more than half a league distant from the river. Framboise was surprised at our arrival, and coolly told us that he had nothing; by this speech we recognized the Savage. Our Interpreter had deceived us, for Framboise had not sent for us; he did not expect us, and, had believed that he risked nothing in inviting us, being sure that the inundation would certainly prevent our coming to him. At all events, we went away very quickly, and without a guide; we strayed somewhat, but again found the savage pirogue, reentered it, and regained our own as best we could. Those men who had remained behind were amused at our plight and at our adventure; we had never laughed so much, — or, rather, it was the only time when we had laughed. There was no ground so that we could prepare food, as I said before, and we were obliged to content ourselves with a morsel of biscuit. In the evening we stopped above the Manchat; this is a branch of the Mississipi which empties into lake Maurepas. No land, no preparation of food, no camping-ground; millions of mosquitoes during the night; nota iterum: it was a fast-day — The waters were beginning to recede, which made [Page 301] us hope that we would no longer sleep in the pirogue.
The Sitimachas dwelt at the lower end of the ever when the Colony was founded; at that time, they killed a Missionary, Monsieur de Saint Côme. Monsieur de Bienville, who was commanding in the name of the King, avenged his death. The Map of Mississipi misplaces the tribe of the Sitimachas; this is not the only mistake that is to be found on it. After these slight bits of Mississipi erudition, I return to our voyage.
On the 4th, we slept at Bâton Rouge; this place is named thus because a tree painted red by the Savages is there, which serves the Tribes that are above and below it as a boundary in hunting. Here we found the remains of a French habitation, abandoned on account of the wild animals — deer, rabbits, wild cats, and bears — that had laid waste everything. Four of our people went to hunt, and returned the next day without any other game than an owl.
On the 7th, we dined at the grant of Monsieur Mezières: this has the appearance of a habitation that has only beginning. We found there cabins, Negroes, and an honest rustic who did us neither good nor harm. At evening we encamped at Pointe Coupée, in front of the house of a habitant who received US very kindly. The rain delayed us the next day, and permitted us to make during the day but one league, to the dwelling of another habitant; his house, placed upon four piles, sheltered us indifferently well from a frightful storm. What need of both spiritual and temporal consolation these good people have!
On the 9th, we had scarcely embarked when there came from the woods an execrable odor; we were [Page 303] told that there was on the land an animal called bête puante, which spread abroad this offensive odor wherever it might be. In the evening we camped at the little Tunicas in the cane-brake; in the winter, these are set on fire; in the summer, we must cut them down in order to encamp. The savage Village is in the interior; from there to the great Tonicas it is ten or twelve leagues by the Mississipi. By land there is only one point or tongue of land which separates the two Villages; formerly a portage was made by crossing the land. This passage is still called the portage of the Cross. The river had reached this point, and wholly covered it with high water; this is what we were to do the next day, — that is to say, make the two leagues in order to avoid the ten leagues that we must have made if we had continued our way by the Mississipi. We took a Savage from the little Tonicas to act as our guide.
On the 10th, then, we entered these woods, this sea, this torrent — for it was all these at once. Our guide, whose language no one understood, spoke to us by signs; some interpreted these in one way, some in another, thus we were going at random. Besides, when any one has entered these woods, he must continue his way or perish; for, if a person should let himself go with the current in order to retreat, this rapid current would infallibly dash the pirogue against a tree and break it into a thousand pieces. But for that, we would have withdrawn from such an unfortunate course, as soon as we had entered upon it. We were obliged constantly to turn the pirogue zigzag so that its point should not strike the trees; sometimes it would be crowded between two trees which did not leave sufficient space for it [Page 305] to pass, contrary to the expectation of him who was steering. Sometimes there was a torrent the entrance of which was nearly closed by an embarras, or only by two trees of enormous length and size lying across d from one side of the current to the other and making it more impetuous. Sometimes the entrance would be entirely barred by a tree; we were obliged to change our course, with the chance of finding the same obstacle a moment afterward. Or we would find but very little water, and, instead, mud and brambles; then we had to push the pirogue through by main strength. Often one of our men was obliged to plunge into the water up to his neck, in order to fasten the pirogue to an overhanging tree — so that, if the current overbore the force of the paddles and made the pirogue recede, it would not crash against a tree. Our pirogue ran the most risk; it began to fill in a current which had made it recede, and the moment had come when it was about to sink; by dint of paddling we were saved, and fortunately there was at that point neither an embarras nor over- thrown trees. Afterward we went through another of these places, which had a passage only the width of the pirogue; it remained a moment motionless between the force of the current and the force of the paddles; we did not know whether it would recede or advance. This means that, in that moment, we were hanging between life and death; for, if the paddle had yielded to the force of the current we would have crashed against a large tree which almost entirely barred the current. Our people in the other pirogue, who had gone on ahead of us, were waiting for us in a mournful and sad silence; and they uttered a great shout of joy when they saw us out of danger. [Page 307] I would never end, if I undertook to relate to you all the hardships of this journey. This passage is well named the passage of the Cross; a Traveler who knows what it is, and does not shun it, deserves the Insane Asylum should he escape from it. We shortened our journey only very little by this cross-cut, The Lord saved our lives, and we succeeded at last in escaping from those two fatal places.
At four or five o’clock in the evening, we reached the great Tonicus. The Chief of this Tribe came to the edge of the water to receive us; he shook hands with us, embraced us, had a mat and skins spread down in front of his cabin, and invited us to sleep there. Afterward he ordered a large dish of blackberries to be given to us, and a manne (that is to say, a basket) of fresh beans; this was truly a feast for us. The passage of the Cross had not allowed us to halt for dinner.
This Chief, as well as several of his Tribe, had been baptized by Monsieur Davion; but since the return of that Missionary to France — whither he went shortly after the arrival of the Capuchin Fathers in this Country — he bears no mark of being a Christian but the name, a medal, and a rosary. He speaks a little French; he made inquiries for Monsieur Davion, and we told him of his death; he expressed regret at this, and seemed to wish for a Missionary. He also showed us a Royal medal that Monsieur the Commandant-general had sent him in the name of His Majesty, with a writing which announced that this present had been made to him in consideration of the attachment which he had always manifested for the French. There are a few Frenchmen at the Tonicas; they made great [Page 309] lamentations at not having any Missionary. Father Dumas said Mass the next day, very early in the morning, in the cabin of the Chief; and we were edified by the eagerness of some Frenchmen in improving this opportunity to approach the Sacraments.
On the 11th, we spent the night for the last time in the pirogue. On the 12th, we encamped at Ecors blancs, and on the 13th, at Natchez. We immediately paid our visit to the Reverend Father Philibert, a Capuchin, who is Cure there; he is a man of good sense, and did not take umbrage at seeing us, as his brethren had done at New Orleans; besides, he is a good man, and very zealous. Afterward, we went down to the edge of the water to make our baires.
The French settlement at Natchez is becoming important. Much tobacco is grown there which is considered the best in the Country. The situation of the town is very high; from it the Mississipi can be seen winding as if in an abyss; there are continuous hills and valleys. The land of the concessions is more level and of better quality; the excessive heat prevented us from going to them, or to the savage Village.
The Village is distant only a league from the French; this is the only, or almost the only, Tribe among whom is found any kind of Government and Religion. They maintain a perpetual fire, and they know by tradition that, if it happen to be extinguished, they must go to the Tonicas to relight it. The Chief has great authority over the people of his Tribe, and he makes them obey him. It is not so with most of the other Tribes — they have Chiefs who are Chiefs only in name; every one is master [Page 311] and, notwithstanding, no seditions are ever found among them. When the Chief of the Natchez dies, a certain number of men and women must be put to death, that they may wait upon him in the other world: many have already offered themselves for the time when this chief shall die: on these occasions, they are strangled. The Frenchmen do everything in their power to prevent this barbarity, but they have much trouble in saving any one. The Savages say that their ancestors crossed the seas to come into this Country; some persons who know their manners and customs better than I, assert that they came from China.
However that may be, the Tonicas and the Natches are two important Tribes, each of whom ought to have a Missionary. The Chief of the Tonicas is already a Christian, as I have told you; he has great authority over his people, and, moreover, every one acknowledges that his Tribe is well disposed to Christianity. A Missionary would find the same advantage among the Natchez, if he had the good fortune to convert the Chief; but these two Tribes are in the district of the Reverend Capuchin Fathers — who, hitherto, have not learned any savage tongue.
We left the Natchez on the 17th, and we embarked, Father Pumas and I, in a pirogue which was starting for the hunt. Our own people had not yet made ready their provisions, — that is, they had not bought the corn and had it pounded.
We began to perceive the sand-banks; we found on them turtles’ eggs, a new luxury for us; these eggs are a little larger than those of pigeons and are found in the sand of the shallows, where the sun hatches [Page 313] them The tracks that the turtles leave reveal the places where they have concealed their eggs; we found quantities of them, and made of them omelets which were relished by people who were living only on gru.
From New Orleans to the Natchez is reckoned nearly a hundred leagues, and from the Natchez to the Yatous forty; we made this second voyage without any adventure — except that we were surprised during one night b y a violent storm of thunder and lightning; imagine if we were well protected from the rain under a canvass. The next day, a Savage who was going up the river with us landed for the purpose of hunting; we continued our way, but we had not gone more than half a league before he appeared on the bank with a deer on his shoulders. We then encamped on the first sand-bank in order to dry our clothing and to prepare a great Kettle. These repasts after a good hunt are made wholly in the savage fashion, but nothing is more agreeable. The animal is cut to pieces in a moment, and nothing is wasted; our travelers take their portions from the fire or from the pot, each one according to inclination; their fingers and some small sticks serve for every sort of kitchen and table implement. To see these men, clad with but one garment, more sun-burnt and more swarthy than the Savages, — stretched upon the sand or squatting like monkeys, devouring what they hold in their hand! — one does not know whether they are a company of Gypsies, or of people holding a witches’ revel.
On the 23rd, we arrived at the Yatous [Yazoo]; this is a French post two leagues from the mouth of the river bearing this name, which flows into the [Page 315] Mississipi; there is an Officer with the title of Commandant, a dozen soldiers, and three or four planters. Here was Monsieur le Blanc’s concession, which has come to ruin like many others. The ground is rolling; it has been slightly explored, and the air is said to be unhealthy. The Commandant ordered all the artillery of the fort to be fired; this consisted of two very small guns. This fort in which the Commandant lives, is a shed surrounded by a palisade, but well defended by the situation of the place. The Commandant received us in a most friendly manner, and we encamped in his courtyard; our two pirogues — one of which brought Father Souel, the Missionary of the Yatous — arrived two days after us, and the fort paid him the same honor that it had paid us. This dear Father had been dangerously sick during the passage from Natchez to Yatous, but was beginning to recover. Since my arrival here, he has written to me that he again fell sick, but that he was convalescing when he wrote. During our stay at Yatous, he bought a house — or, rather, 3 cabin built in the French fashion — while waiting until he could make his arrangements to settle among the Savages, who are a league from the French post. There are three Villages, in which three different languages are spoken; their inhabitants compose a small Tribe; I know nothing more of them.
On the 26th, we reëmbarked, Father Dumas and I. It is reckoned sixty leagues from the Yatous to the Akensas; re arrived there the 7th of July, without other adventure than having once made a great kettle of a bear, which one of our men had killed in hunting. [Page 317]
The villages of the Akensas are wrongly placed on the map, The river at its mouth makes a fork; into the upper branch flows a river that the Savages call Niska, “white water,” — which is not marked on the maps although it is a large stream. We entered by the lower branch; from the mouth of this branch to the place where the river divides, it is seven leagues. Thence it is two leagues to the first Village, which contains two Tribes, the Tourimas and the Tougingas; from this first Village to the second it is two leagues by water, and one by land; this is called the Southouis village. The third Village is a little higher up on the same side of the river, and the inhabitants are called the Kappas; on the other bank, and opposite this last Village, are the French habitations. The three savage Villages — which contain four Tribes, that bear different names — make only one Tribe, under the common name of Akensas — which the French have also given to the river, although the Savages call it ni gitai, “red water.” They speak the same language, and number in all about twelve hundred souls.
We were not far distant from these Villages when a party of little Savages, having perceived us, gave a great shout and ran toward the Village; ‘a French pirogue which had preceded us by a day had given notice of our coming. We found all the people of the Village assembled at the landing; as Soon as we had stepped ashore a Savage asked one of our men — whom he knew, and who understood the language — how many moons the black Chief would remain among them. Always, answered this Frenchman; Thou liest, rejoined the Savage. The Frenchman replied that he did not lie; that there would [Page 319] be always one of the black robes among them, that they might be taught to know the Great Spirit, as was the case among the Illinois. The Savage believed him, and said: My heart laughs when thou sayest that. I had this same Frenchman guide me to the village of the Southouris by land; before reaching it, we found the Chief under his antichon (this is the name that the French give to a sort of cabin, open on all sides, that the Savages have at their désert — their clearing — and where they go to take the air). He invited me to rest upon his mat, and offered me sagamité; he spoke a word to his little child who was there; the latter immediately uttered the savage cry, and screamed with all his might, panianga sa, panianga sa, “The black chief, the black chief!” In an instant, all the Villagers surrounded the antichon, and I had them told with what design I had come. I heard from all sides only this word, igaton; my interpreter told me that it signified That is good. This whole company, uttering loud shouts, led me to the water’s edge, a Savage made us cross the river in his pirogue, and, after having walked an eighth of a league we came to the French habitations. I was lodged in the house of the Company of the Indies, — which is the house of the Commandant, whenever there is one here, — and I experienced great joy at having accomplished the two hundred leagues that I had to make. I would rather make twice the voyage which we made over the sea at the same season than begin again this one. Father Dumas was only midway on his journey to the Illinois; he reëmbarked on the day after his arrival here. Not the smallest settlement is found between here and the Illinois; but they seldom fail to kill some wild [Page 321] cattle, which are much relished by people who have only gru for food.
Here I am at the end of my long and tiresome narrative; I have Written only for you and for a friend as indulgent as you, — that is, Father Bernard, to whom I beg You to forward this letter; he is at Dijon. I shall try further to gratify your interest in the Savages of these quarters, when I shall better know their customs. You have not the same excuse that I have; you are in the great theater which changes its Scenes every day, and furnishes material for the longest and most interesting letters. I wrote to You from New Orleans; did you receive my letter?
I beg You to give my respects to the Reverend Father de Fontenai, and commend me to his holy Sacrifices; I commend myself also to yours; you are both in all my memenio, Present my respects also to the Reverend Father Davaugour and to dear brother Talard; I beg this dear brother to forward me, in the first package that he shall send to the Reverend Father de Beaubois, as many engravings as he can — and especially those which represent the different mysteries of the life of Our Lord. Monsieur Cars will give them to him if the brother will present to him my compliments, for he promised me to do so. This is one of the best means that we can employ to give some idea of the mysteries of our religion to the Savages; they are in ecstasies when they see the picture of saint Régis that I have in my room, which was engraved by Monsieur Cars; they put the hand over the mouth, which is a sign of admiration among them. Ouakantqué, they exclaim, it is the Great spirit! I tell them that they are wrong; that he was a chief with a black robe like me; that while he [Page 323] was alive he faithfully heard and obeyed the word of the Great Spirit, and that after death he went to him in Heaven. Some of them pass the hand several times over the face of the Saint, and then place it on their own face; this is a ceremony that they perform when they wish to show any one a mark of veneration. Then they place themselves in different parts of my room and say, each time smiling: He is looking at me; he almost speaks, he needs only a voice. These are indeed trifles; it is time that we should both take breath.
At the Akensas, this 3rd of October, 1727.
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL DATA: VOL. LXVII
CLXXXVIII, CLXXXIX, CXCIII
In our publication of these three documents, we follow apographs in the archives of St. Mary’s College, Montreal, where they are preserved in the cahier labeled “Quelques Lettres.”
CLXXXVIII. gives the action of the council of the marine, taken April 1, 1716, relative to the condition of the Christian Indians in Canada.
CLXXXIX. is a synopsis of Father Lafitau’s report “Sur la boisson [vendue] aux Sauvages,” and of the action taken thereon by the council of marine, at Paris, October 30, 1718,
CXCIII. is a decree of the royal council, made at Paris, May 12, 1722, concerning the Jesuit missionaries at Sault St. Louis.
This is an order of the royal council concerning the Jesuit establishment at Montreal, and is dated at Paris, March 16, 1720. We follow an apograph resting in the Dominion Archives (Department of Agriculture), at Ottawa, its press-mark being: “Correspondance Générale, Vol. 41, pp. 135-137.”
This document consists of two letters to Sébastien Rale — one by the intendant, Chevalier Begon, dated at Quebec, June 14, 1721; the other by the governor, [Page 327] Marquis de Vaudreuil, also dated at Quebec, September 25 following. We follow contemporary copies preserved in the Public Record Office, London, the press-mark being:” New England X (16). Nos. 53, 54.”
Far both of these documents we have had recourse to the original WS. in the archives of St. Mary’s College, Montreal.
CXCII. is a letter written July 10, 1721 (np.), by Julien Garnier to Pierre de Lauzon, at Montreal.
CXCV. is Jean Baptiste Loyard’s report “Sur l’État Présent des Abnaquis.” It was probably written in 1722, but no place is given.
All of these are from tome vi. of Lettres édifiantes.
CXCIV. is a letter of Sébastien Rale to his nephew, and bears date at Nanrantsouak, October 15, 1722, — L. é., pp. 101-121.
CXCVII. is a letter by Rale to his brother, written from the same place, October 12, 1723, — L. é., pp. 122-179.
CXCVIII. is a letter dated at Quebec, October 29, 1724, written by Pierre Joseph de la Chasse to an unknown priest, L. é., pp. 179-189.
CXCIX. is a letter addressed to Father Patouillet by Paul du Poisson, bearing internal evidence of having been written from the Arkansas country in 1726.
A letter written by Joseph Aubery to the Marquis [Page 328] de Vaudreuil, from St. Francois, under date of October 3, 1723. We follow an apograph in the Parliamentary Library at Ottawa, where its press-mark is: “Correspondance Générale, 3e série, vol. viii., p. 1026.”
Two letters written by Nicolas I. Peaubois, superior of the Louisiana mission of the order, to Monsieur de la Loë, secretary to the Company of the Indies, in Paris: the first is dated November 2, 1726, the second May 11, 1727. The original MSS. are in the collection of the late G. Devron, of New Orleans, who kindly loaned them to the Editor, for publication in this series. They were first printed by Dr. Devron, with introductory notes, in Comptes-Rendus de l’Athénée Louisianais, liv. 5e., t. i., (September 1, 1897).
In Publishing this letter of Paul du Poisson to an unnamed brother Jesuit (dated at the Arkansas mission, October 3, 1727), we follow Lettres édifiantes, t. vi., pp. 307-335.
NOTES TO VOL. LXVII.
(Figures in parentheses, following the number of note, refer to pages of English text.)
 (p. 25). — For sketch of Cholenec, see vol. lix., note 50. The MS. circular letter (of which copies are found in the archives of St. Mary’s College, Montreal, and the library of l’École de Ste. Geneviève, Paris) giving notice of his death states that his labors in the Canadian mission were carried on at Quebec, Montreal, Lorette, and Sault St. Louis, successively; and that he died Oct. 30, 1723, at the College of Quebec.
 (p. 27). — The Nipissing Indians here mentioned are apparently those Algonkins who had become, during the Iroquois war, more or less sedentary in the vicinity of Montreal; these savages finally settled in the Indian mission at St. Louis, near Bout de l’Isle (the upper end of Montreal Island), under the care of the Sulpitians. About 1706 or 1707, a fortified trading post was built for them on Isle aux Tourtes (an island near the mouth of the Ottawa River) by Vaudreuil, then governor of Montreal, in order to comply with the terms upon which Isle aux Tourtes had been granted to him in 1702. It is this fort, commonly known as Fort des Sauvages, or Aouanagassing (its Algonkin name), to which our text refers. Upon the removal of the St. Louis mission to the Lake of Two Mountains (1726), the military occupation of this fort ceased. See Girouard’s interesting account of the mission and fort, in his Lake St. Louis (Montreal, 1893), pp. 163-172.
 (p. 29). — Claude de Ramezay was born at La Gaise, France, in 1657, — the descendant of a noble Scottish family (Ramsay, Gallicized to Ramezay), one of whose sons had settled in France. Claude came to Canada perhaps about 1665; his name appears in Canadian records, in the following year, as a lieutenant in the troops. He proved an able officer, and his promotion was rapid; in 1689 he became governor of the important military Post of Three Rivers, which he strongly fortified. In Frontenac’s expedition of 1696, Ramezay was at the head of the Canadian militia; and was, upon the governor’s death, appointed commander of the royal troops in the Colony. In 1703, he became governor of Montreal a Post which he retained, and filled with great ability, until his death (Aug. 1, 1724). In 1690, he married [Page 331] Marie Charlotte Denys, by whom he had fourteen children. — See Aubin’s sketch of Ramezay, in Revue de Montréal, t. ii. (1878), pp. 381-389.
Claude Michel Bégon, sieur de la Picardière, a French naval officer and a relative of the minister Pontchartrain, came to Canada in 1710, as intendant of the colony, with his wife, Jeanne Elizabeth de Beauharnais, by whom he had eight children. He was a naval ensign, and later a military captain. He acted as intendant until 1726; for information regarding his official achievements, see M.S.S. relat. à Nouv. France, vol. iii., and N. Y. Colon. Docs., vol. ix. In the latter publication (vol. x., p. 159), a memoir of 1747 states that Monsieur Bégon, governor of Three Rivers, died at Montreal on April 30 of that year. This would seem to refer to the ex-intendant; but Tanguay does not record the date of his death, or even mention any other Bégon.
 (p. 31). — Two men named Beauhamais (Beauhamois), who have been confounded by some writers. were prominent in Canadian affairs. The earlier official of this name was François de Beauhamais. seigneur de la Chaussay-Beaumont, and royal councilor; he was appointed intendant of New France in April, 1702. a post which he held for five years. Bibaud (Hommes illust., p. 28) says that Louis XIV. granted him (1707) a barony in Acadia, named Beauville.
Charles de la Boische, marquis de Beauharnais, a brother of François, was born about 1670; it is said that he was an illegitimate son of Louis XIV. Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife, Josephine, had for her first husband a descendant of Claude Beauharnais, brother of François and Charles. The latter entered the French navy when a youth, and rapidly rose in rank. In 1726, he was appointed governor of Canada, in which office he remained during twenty-one years. Returning to France, he was appointed lieutenant-general of the naval forces (Jan. 1, 1748); his death occurred in June of the following year. In 1726. he had married Renée Pays; but he left no children. The record of his administration in Canada is outlined in various official documents, published in N. Y. Colon. Docs., vol. ix. In 1729, the seigniory of Beauhamais, in Canada, was bestowed upon him. A sister of his married Bégon, the intendant (note 3, ante).
 (p. 31). — Pegouaki (Pequaket, Pigwacket): a village located on the upper Saco River, where now is Fryeburg, Maine.
 (p. 35). — The boundaries between the French and English territories here referred to were long in dispute. By the treaty of Utrecht (1713) “all Nova Scotia or L’Accadie with its Ancient Boundaries, etc.,” was ceded by France to England. These terms, unfortunately, were too vague and indefinite: and a contention at once arose over the extent of Acadia — whether it should be limited [Page 332] to the peninsula of Nova Scotia, or should extend to the “height of lands” (watershed) between the St. Lawrence basin and the streams flowing into the Atlantic. The French maintained the former position, which would of course give them control of the coast-region of New Brunswick and Maine. This territory was claimed by the English, who proceeded to plant therein numerous settlements. The question was complicated by the presence of the savage tribes resident there, whose friendship was desired by both parties to the dispute, the latter cajoling or threatening the Indians, as occasion demanded; but the tribesmen remained, in general, faithful to the French, mainly through the influence of their Jesuit teachers. Regarding these boundary disputes, see Dummer’s letter of Jan. 19, 1724 to Vaudreuil (Baxter’s New France in New England, pp. 370-375); and N. Y. Colon. Docs., pp. 878-880; 894-896, 943.
 (p. 41). — This letter by Lovelace is given in the Relation of 1668-69 (vol. lii. of this series, pp. 139, 141).
Joseph François Lafitau was born Jan. 1, 1681, and became a Jesuit novice at Bordeaux before completing his fifteenth year. After spending three years (1698-1701) in study at Pau, he was an instructor at Limoges, Saintes, and Pau, successively; his studies were completed at Poitiers and Paris. In 1711, he came to Canada, and spent six years at Sault St. Louis. In 1717, Lafitau went to France, in behalf of the interests of the missions; he wished to return to Canada, but his superiors preferred to retain him in France. He there became procurator for the Canadian missions, and composed several historical works-prominent among which is his Mœurs des Sauvages Ameriquains, which we have often cited in this series. In 1718, Lafitau published (at Paris) an account of his discovery in Canada of the plant ginseng, Aralia (Panax) guinquefolia, which was then highly valued in Europe, but imported only from China. Lafitau died at Bordeaux, July 3, 1746. — See Rochemonteix’s Jésuites, t. iii., pp. 384-386.
 (p. 53). — Gédéon de Catalogne (Cathalogne, Catalorgne; dit Laliberté). a surveyor and engineer, and a soldier, was born in 1662, at Bresse, in the province of Béarn, France. He came to Canada in 1685; in the following year he was in the French expedition to Hudson Bay; and was prominent in various military and naval enterprises in later years. He constructed fortifications at Quebec in 1690, and at Bécancour and Three Rivers in 1702; and, in 1708-09, he prepared maps of the districts of Quebec, Montreal, and Three Rivers, which were sent to the French government, accompanied by a letter from the intendant Raudot, highly eulogistic of the surveyor’s skill and accuracy. In 1711, he directed the construction of redouts on the heights of Quebec; and in 1720, he had the same [Page 332] responsibility for the fortifications of Louisbourg, Cape Breton Island. He died in that place, Jan. 5, 1729. In 1690, Catalogne had married (at Montreal) Marie Anne Lemire, by whom he had ten children.
In the Historical Documents of the Quebec Literary and Historical Society was published (3rd series, 1871) a memoir (without signature) entitled “Recueil de ce qui s’est passé en Canada au sujet de la guerre tant des Anglais que des Iroquois, depuis l’année 1682.” The same document was also published in MSS relat. à Nouv. France, vol. i.. pp. 551-625, and was there attributed to an engineer named De Léry. But Tanguay has brought forward apparently satisfactory evidence that this memoir was written by Catalogne; see his “Étude sur une famille Canadienne,” in Canad. Roy. Soc. Proc., vol. ii., sec. I., pp. 7-14 Catalogne’s recital covers the period from 1682 to 1712.
 (p. 59). — Mitasse, an Algonkin word adopted by the French Canadians, is the name of the leggings worn by the Indians and hunters in winter; defined in Clapin’s Diet. Canad.-Français as “a gaiter of deerskin or cloth, ornamented with designs in beads or moose-hair of various colors.” Crawford Lindsay says: “What the Indians and French Canadians call mitasse the English inhabitants call ‘neaps’ — a blanket overstocking that we wear inside moccasins for snowshoeing.”
 (p. 59). — Taxous (Taxou), a noted Abenaki chief, was one of those Indians seized by the English at Pemaquid in 1696 (N.Y. Colon. Docs., vol. ix., p, 643); but he killed his guards and escaped. Two years before, he had, with a party of his tribesmen, captured Groton, Mass. He died in 1720 or 1721. — For historical information regarding Groton, see Green’s Groton Historical Series (Groton, 1887-93).
 (p. 63). — See account of this conference, and the letter sent by the savages to Governor Shute, in Baxter’s New France in New England, pp. 108-118.
 (p. 63). — Waourene (Ouaourene, Wiworna) was a prominent Abenaki chief, a warm friend of the French, and shrewd and sagacious. He is mentioned in Maine Hist. Colls., vol. iii., p. 412, by the nick-name of “Sheepscot John,” — Sheepscot being the early name of New Castle, Me.
 (p. 65). — St Jean Island is now called Prince Edward Island, “the smallest and most densely populated province of the Dominion of Canada” (Lovall’s Gazetteer). It lies north of Nova Scotia, and its area is 2,000 square miles. Northeast of this province lie the Magdalen Islands, which with Bird Island (vol. i., note 69) form a long, narrow range, 56 miles in extent, lying near the center of the Gulf of [Page 335] St. Lawrence. Now, as at the time of this document, the fisheries of these islands are rich and valuable. In 1719 a company was formed in France to exploit the resources of St, Jean Island; at its head was the count de St. Pierre, an official of the household of the duchess d’Orléans, wife of the regent. The inexperience of the members, and dissensions among them, soon caused the failure of the project — See Garneau’s Canada, t. ii., p. 69; and Casgrain’s Sulpiciens en Acadie pp. 288-802.
Crawford Lindsay says:” Les Maluines evidently refers to the fishermen Of St. Malo, who from very early times had frequented the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Numerous French-Canadian families bear the name of Malouin (often as ‘Rinfret dit Malouin’). The name ‘les Maluines’ is also applied to the Falkland Islands.” See also vol. i., note 43.
 (p. 65). — This “degraded one,” according to Baxter (New France in New England, p. 106). was Wissememet, a champion of peace with the English.
 (p. 67). — Reference is here made to Pierre Dugué (Dugtray), son of Sidrac (Vol. lxii., note 12), born in 1675. In 1694, he married Angélique de Lugré by whom he had eight children. His name frequently occurs in the early history of Louisiana and Illinois, and he was commandant of the latter region during 1718-24. He died in Canada in November, 1740.
 (p. 69). — probably a reference to Marguerite Chorel widow of Guillaume de Lorimier (who died at Montreal in July, 1709). She was born in 1666. and died at the age of seventy years.
 (p. 71). — For sketch of Julien Garnier, see vol. l., note 17.
 (p. 73). — Pierre de Lauzon was born at Poitiers, France, Sept. 26, 1667; became a Jesuit novice at the age of fifteen; and arrived in Canada in 1716. He was in charge of the Sault St. Louis mission for sixteen years; in September, 1732, became superior of the Canadian missions, which office he held during seven years; then returned to Sault St. Louis, and died at Quebec, Sept. 5, 1742.
 (p. 89). — The shrub here mentioned is Myrcia cerifera, the wax bayberry, or myrtle-wax shrub. An excellent wax is produced from its berries. — See W. Green’s article upon this plant and its uses, in Quebec Lit. and Hist. Soc. Trans., Vol. i. (1829), pp. 231 — 240.
 (p. 95). — An allusion to the sugar-cane (Saccharum offocinarum), transplanted from the Orient into the West Indies in 1506. Regarding maple-sugar, see vol vi., note 24.
 (p. 101). — This English missionary was Rev. Joseph Baxter, who was born in Braintree, Mass., in 1676. From 1695 to 1717, he was pastor of the church at Medfield, which he left to begin a mission [Page 335] among the Indians at Arrowsic (now Georgetown, Me.). He was unable to remain there, as the savages were entirely under French influence. After a long and busy life, he died in 1745. A MS. journal. kept by him is in the archives of the Maine Historical Society — See account of his relations with Rale in New France in New England (pp. 69-90), by James P. Baxter, a representative of the missionary’s family. Cf. Parkman’s Half-Century, vol. i., pp. 220-222.
 (p. 103). — “Trading posts, or truck-houses, as they were called, had been established among the Abnakis long before the arrival of Rale among them, and were purely mercantile enterprises, which were alike beneficial to both buyer and seller, except in instances where rum was sold to the savages by unprincipled traders, to the scandal of the authorities and more thoughtful men of New England, who were not slow in condemning it, but powerless to prevent it.” — Baxter, ut supra, p. 153. note 1. Cf. Maine Hist. Colls., vol. iii., pp. 383, 384, 388, 392; vol. iv., p. 157: vol. vii., pp. 7, 8.
Concerning settlements on the Kennebec and other rivers, after the treaty of Utrecht (1713). see Sewall’s Ancient Dominions, pp. 222-237. Cf. Whitney’s Kennebec Valley (Augusta, Me., 1887).
 (p. 113). — Anselm de St. Castin was the son of Jean (vol. lxiii., note 5) and of an Abenaki woman (named in baptism Matilde). Anselm apparently succeeded to his father’s title of “baron,” and also had a commission in the Canadian military service. He gained distinction on various occasions — notably in repelling the English attack on Port Royal in 1707. In the same year, he married Charlotte, daughter of Louis d’Amours (vol. lxiii., note 8), seignior of Jemseg, on the St. John River; she was then but eleven years old St. Castin had much influence with the Abenakis, his mother’s tribe, and was an accredited agent among them for the Canadian government; but he preferred to remain on amicable terms with the English, and kept his tribe from encroachments upon their neighbors. As mentioned in the text, he was arrested by the English (December, 1721), because they suspected him of hostile intentions against their settlements; he was released after an imprisonment of five months — which was considered, even by many Englishmen, an unjustifiable injury against him. A letter from Governor Beauhamais, dated Oct. 1, 1731 (N.Y. Colon. Docs., vol. ix., p. 1026), mentions St. Castin; but no later information regarding him is available. — See Godfrey’s “Castine the Younger,” in Maine Hist. Colls., vol. vol., pp. 75-92.
 (p. 113). — Concerning this statement of Rale, Parkman says (Half-Cent., vol. i., p. 229): “It does not appear that such a reward was offered, though it is true that the Massachusetts House of [Page 336] Representatives once voted five hundred pounds in their currency — then equal to about one hundred and eighty pounds sterling — for the same purpose; but as the Governor and Council refused their concurrence, the Act was of no effect.”
 (p. 121). — Panaouamské was the place to which was removed the Abenaki village of Naurakamig (vol. lxv., note 10); it was situated “upon the Pentagouet River, four leagues from the tides, above some rapids which prevent ships from ascending to the village. The Abenakis there compose the largest village of the three Acadian missions, numbering at least 4 or 500 persons, — men, women, and children, — and among them 120 warriors” (letter from Bégon, cited in Rochemonteix’s Jésuites, t. iii., p. 439, note). Concerning the other missions here named, see vol. lxvi., notes 40,42.
Raymond’s interesting historical sketch of the Medoctec mission, and of the French fort built there (“Old Meductic Fort” — cited in vol. lxvi., not 36). locates them on the west bank of St. John River, about eight miles below the town of Woodstock. On the site of the Indian village was found, in 1890, a small slate-stone tablet, the inscription upon which indicated that it had been placed by Loyard in the church built by him for his mission in 1717. We herewith reproduce, accompanying the text of Loyard’s document, an engraving of this tablet, from a photograph furnished to us by the kindness of Mr. Raymond. The latter gives (ut supra, p. 9) the Latin inscription thereon, expanded from its abbreviated form, with an English translation, as follows: DEO Optimo Maximo In honorem Divi Ioannis Baptistæ Hoc Templum posuerunt Anno Domini MDCCX VII. Malecitæ Missionis Procuratore Ioanne Loyard Societatis Iesu Sacerdote. Translation: “To God, most excellent, most high, in honor of Saint John Baptist, the Maliseets erected this church A. D. 1717, while Jean Loyard, a priest of the Society of Jesus, was procurator [or superintendent] of the mission.” Mr. Raymond adds the following note: “The authorities for the restoration in full of the Latin inscription and for the English translation are Bishop Rowley, of Newfoundland, and Rev. Father Jones, of St. Mary’s College, Montreal.” Dr. W. F . Ganong, of Smith College, Northampton, Mass., was “the first to make a critical study of the stone.”
 (p. 123). — “The Congress of Cambray — at which, through the mediation of France and England, peace was concluded between Spain and Austria — was in session in 1722, which approximately fixes the date of this document.” — A. E. Jones, S. J.
 (p. 145). —In the winter of 1721-22, a party of English troops, commanded by Col. Thomas Westbrook, was sent to Norridgewock in order to capture, if possible, the Jesuit Rale. They failed to do [Page 337] so, the alarm of their approach having been given by some savages; but they seized a box in which Rale kept his most valuable Papers, among which was his MS. dictionary of the Abenaki language — the product of his studies during thirty years. The box is now in the possession of the Maine Historical Society; an engraving of it appear in Baxter’s New France in New England, p. 124; cf. U.S. Cath. Hist. Mag., vol. iv., p. 223. The MS. dictionary, after passing through several hands, finally became the property of Harvard University. in whose library it is preserved This valuable document was published (1833) by John Pickering in Amer. Acad. of Arts and Science Memoirs, new series, vol. i., pp. 375-574), with linguistic annotations and numerous typographical aids to its use.
 (p. 157). — See Allouez’s account of this belief, in vol. li., p. 33. cf. vol. xx., note 11.
 (p. 157). — Regarding the Algonkin clans, see vol. lxiv., note 11, and other notes therein cited. For citations regarding Michabou (Maoabozho), see vol. v., note 41; vol. xii., notes 3. 4.
 (p. 197). — Sankderank: apparently the same as Sagadahoc, a name now applied to a county in Maine, of which the capital is Bath. In early colonial history, the Kennebec was called the Sagadahoc (vol. li., note 5).
 (p. 199). — This “island in the Sea.” was Arrowsic (more correctly, Arroseag), now Georgetown (or Parker’s) Island; it lies at the mouth of the Kennebec River, and is twelve miles. long. Upon it is the town of Georgetown. — See Reed’s Hist. of Bath (Portland, Me., 1894, pp. 22-36, for information regarding its early settlement.
 (p. 237). — Rale was slain (Aug. 19, 1724) in an attack of the English upon the Abenaki village of Narantsouak (vol. lxvi., note 42 — See Baxter’s full account of this affair, in his New France in New England, pp. 237-272; he there cites both English and French memoirs.
 (p. 237) . — Michel Sarrazin (Sarrasin) was born in 1659. He came to Canada in 1685, and was appointed, several years later, king’s physician for Canada; he was, in 1702, the only bearer of that title in all New France. His salary was but 600 livres a year, without recompense from his patients. We married (about 1712?) Marie Anne, daughter of François Hazeur, fils (vol. lxv., not), and by her had seven children. Sarrazin enjoyed high repute as a physician, and became distinguished as a naturalist; his scientific researches won him a seat in the French Academy of Sciences, and a plant was named in his honor Sarracenia purpurea, the “pitcher-plant,” is the only Canadian species). He was also a [Page 338] member of the Supreme Council of Quebec. He died there in September, 1734. His widow received a pension from the king, and his sons, who were studying medicine at Paris, were regarded as protégés of the state.
Another physician named Sarrazin lived in Canada at the same time — Nicolas, born in Paris in 1655, himself the son of a physician. He married (1680) Catherine Blonde, at Charlesbourg, where and at St. Thomas his family apparently resided; by her he had ten children. The date of his death is not recorded; but it must have been after 1700.
 (p. 245). — This is a reference to Rev. François Vachon de Belmont, long superior of the Sulpicians at Montreal. He came from a distinguished family of Burgundy. and was a scholar of wide attainments; but gave up all worldly advantages to become a missionary in Canada. He founded the La Montagne mission for the Indians near Montreal (vol. lxii., note 16), and at his own expense built a church for them, wherein he officiated. He was superior of the Seminary from at least 1698 until his death (1732). Belmont was author of a MS. Histoire du Canada, which was published (1840) in Quebec Lit. and Hist. Soc. Colls.
 (p. 249). — Louis Patouillet was born at Dijon, France, March 31. 1699, and entered the Jesuit novitiate at the age of sixteen. After his ordination, he was for a time an instructor in the colleges of the order, and afterward resided in the maison professe at Paris, until 1756. After that date he lived successively at Amiens, Uzès, and Avignon; he died in the last-named city, in 1779. He wrote numerous ecclesiastical and theological works, and was one of the editors (1749-76) of Lettres édifiantes.
 (p. 251). — Sauthois: the same as Sitteou or U-zu’-ti-u’-hi (vol. lxv., note 20).
Malaché: cf. vol. ii., note 17.
 (p. 261). — Reference is here made to John Law (born in 1671), and to what is commonly known as his “Mississippi Scheme.” The Louisiana colony was in 1713” farmed out” by the French government to a rich merchant, Antoine Crozat; he leased the colony for fifteen years, thinking to obtain great profits from the Mexican trade, and from the products of the gold and copper mines which were commonly supposed to exist in Louisiana. Finding these expectations disappointed, Crozat surrendered his lease in 1717 to the duke d’Orléans, regent of France after the death of Louis XIV. (1715). In the same year an association was formed (Aug. 17, 1717; chartered on Sept. 6 following) at Paris, called la Compagnie d’occident (“Western Company”); it was controlled by John Law, a shrewd, unscrupulous adventurer from Scotland, who had become [Page 339] a banker at Paris and an intimate friend of the regent. This company obtained a charter for twenty-five years, empowering it to exploit the Louisiana colony; it obtained enormous privileges from the regent; and in it were merged, in less than two years, the royal bank, the mint, and the farming of all the royal revenues. The company changed its title to Compagnie des Indes (“Company of the Indies”); it was also popularly known, from the first, as “the Mississippi Company.” For a short time, France was carried away by the craze for speculation in Mississippi stocks; and the royal bank, under Law’s management, issued enormous quantities of Paper money, — to such an extent that, when the inevitable crash came (in May, 1720), the amount of paper issued by it was twice as much as that of all the specie in the kingdom. A panic ensued; the Company of the Indies seized Law’s property, and he was compelled, now poor and friendless, to flee from France. He lived a few years longer, in obscurity, and died at Venice in 1729.
Warned by Crozat’s failure, the Company of the Indies did not attempt to discover mines, but undertook to encourage agriculture. To this end, large tracts of land were granted to wealthy personages in France, on condition that they should send colonists to settle on their lands. Among these grants was one to Law, upon the Arkansas River; and, just before his flight from France, he sent 200 German emigrants to settle thereon. When these people heard of Law’s failure, they abandoned their settlement on the Arkansas, and descended the Mississippi, intending to return to their native country. But they were persuaded to settle at a place about thirty miles above New Orleans, which was called from them Côté des Allemands,” the German shore.” Du Poisson mentions this place, on p. 287 of this volume.
In 1722, the regent placed the affairs of the company in the hands of three commissioners. In the following year, the seat of the Louisiana government was transferred from Mobile to New Orleans, the site of which had been selected therefor by Bienville. The company finally surrendered its charter to the French government, in 1731, and Louisiana became a royal province. See La Harpe’s Journ. Hist.; Condorcet’s Bibliothèque de l’homme public (Paris, 1791), t. viii., pp. 63-87; Gayarré’s Louisiana: French Domination, vol. i., pp. 191-455; Sulte’s Canad.-Fran., t. vi., pp. 105-118; Hamilton’s Colon. Mobile, pp. 83-89; French’s La. Hist. Colls., part 3, pp. 49-59, 78, 87-89, 101-104.
 (p. 261). — Paul du Poisson was born at Epinal, France, Jan. 27, 1692. At the age of twenty years he entered the Jesuit novitiate; coming to Louisiana in 1726, he was at once assigned to the Arkansas mission, where he labored during three years. On his [Page 340] way to New Orleans (1729), Du Poisson halted at the Natches village, — unfortunately, at the time when those savages were, enraged at the tyranny of the local French commandant. They treacherously murdered Du Poisson, on the day after his arrival (Nov. 28, according to Shea, Church in Colon. Days, pp. 573, 574; Dec. 31, as stated in archives of Jesuit order, according to Sommervogel).
 (p. 261). — Jean Souel also came to Louisiana in 1726, and ministered to the Yazoos. That tribe was instigated by the Natches to hostilities against the French, and, like the Natches, began by attacking a missionary. On Dec. 11, 1729, a party of Yazoos murdered Father Souel — who, as Le Petit states, was” not more than 35 or 36 years of age at his death.”
 (p. 265). — L’Orient is a fortified seaport of France, situated at the mouth of the Scorf, on the Bay of Biscay. It is noted for its establishments for the manufacture of marine artillery and for naval construction. It was founded in 1664 by the Company of the West Indies (vol. xlix., note 22; vol. 1., Note 18).
 (p. 269). — Nicolas Ignace de Beaubois was born at Orléans, France, Oct. 15, 1689; at the age of seventeen he became a Jesuit novice. In 1720 he was in Illinois, at the Kaskaskia mission. Early in 1726 he went to France in quest of more Jesuit priests, in order to reopen the Louisiana missions of that order. At the same time he made arrangements for the establishment of an Ursuline convent at New Orleans. Returning to Louisiana (1727) as superior of that mission, and with powers of vicar-general, he brought seven other priests, who were at once despatched among the neighboring tribes for missionary work — the Company of the Indies not allowing Jesuits to minister to the French colonists. Beaubois held the office of superior only three years, but continued to reside there until 1735, and was director of the Ursuline convent. He was finally recalled to France — as Shea thinks, through the influence of the Capuchins, then in ecclesiastical control of Louisiana. Sommervogel states that Beaubois was at Vannes from 1752 to 1762 as “director of retreats.” The date of his death is not recorded. — See Shea’s Church in Colon. Days, pp. 568-573, 580-582.
Sommervogel cites a MS. written by Beaubois “preserved at Paris in the Bureau of Fortifications and Colonies;” it is entitled. Mémoire sur l’importance de fortifier l’Ouabache que les Anglais peuvent facilement occuper. He also cites from Mercure (December, 1725), Harangue au Roy Louis XV., “when presenting to the king some Illinois savages who had come with him to France.”
 (p. 273). — As mentioned in preceding note, Beaubois secured (1726) in France a band of Ursuline nuns to come to New Orleans; [Page 341] they were to conduct both a hospital and a school. They were eleven in number, their superior being Mother Marie Tranchepain de St. Augustin: this nun wrote an account of their voyage, apparently for circulation among the houses of the order in France — Relations du Voyage des Fondatrices de la Nouvelle Orléans (published, with other documents relating to this enterprise, by Shea in 1859). The Sisters were obliged to remain in temporary hired quarters until July 17, 1734, when they established themselves in the convent built for them. Mother Marie, however, did not live to participate in this happy event; she died on Nov. 11, 1733.
The Ursulines thus sent to Louisiana were supported by the Company of the Indies; the contract made by them with the nuns is given in full by French in La. Hist. Colls., part iii., pp. 79-83.
 (p. 277). — René Tartarin and Étienne d’outreleau (Doutre-beau), Jesuit priests, came to Louisiana in 1727, with the Ursuline nuns. They were assigned to the Illinois mission. Tartarin remained at Kaskaskia at least two or three years. D’Outreleau was born Oct. 11, 1693, and became a Jesuit novice at the age of twenty-two. He remained in the Mississippi Valley twenty years, returning to France in 1747. in 1728, he seems to have been at “the fort on the Wabash,” — that is, at Post Vincennes, established about that time; later, he was chaplain of the hospital at New Orleans.
 (p. 279). — Mathurin le Petit was born at Vannes, France, on Feb. 6, 1693, and was admitted to the Jesuit order when nineteen years old Coming to Louisiana in 1726, he became a missionary among the Choctaws (called Chasses by Du Poisson, in our text). Two or three years later, he was appointed superior of the Louisiana missions, and resided at New Orleans; he died in that country, on Oct. 18, 1739.
Alexis F. X. de Guyenne was born Dec. 29, 1696, and became a novice when sixteen years old. He came to Louisiana with Beaubois in 1726, and was sent to the Alibamu (Alabamas), among whom the French had built a fort. He was still there in 1730, and later ministered to the Arkansas tribes. The rest of his life was spent in the Illinois mission, of which he was superior during at least 1749-56; he died there in 1762. The Alibamu tribe (belonging, like most others of that region, to the Maskoki family) were located on the Alabama River. The French fort mentioned above was built in 1713, at the request of the savages themselves; it was abandoned in 1762, and some of the Alibamu then followed the French to the Mississippi, where they settled, about sixty miles above New Orleans . — See Gatschet’s Migration Legend, pp. 85-89.
Jean Dumas was born at Lyons, Sept. 10, 1696, and entered the Jesuit novitiate at the age of fifteen years. Coming to Louisiana [Page 342] in 1726, he was assigned in the following year to the Illinois mission; Sommervogel conjectures that his stay there extended to 1740. Returning to France, he taught Hebrew at Lyons for many years, and wrote several mathematical and astronomical works. He died in 1770.
 (p. 281). — The name Mississippi was applied to the strip of land which included the concessions here mentioned, and others, along the great river. The three Canadian brothers were named Chauvin; Charlevoix visited them in 1721 Journ. Hist., p. 438). The Swiss concessionary Koli (Kelly) was slain, with his son, by the Natches Indians in 1729. — See list of concessions in that region, in French’s La. Hist. Colls., part iii., p. 78, note *; and in Sulte’s Canad.-Fran., t. vi., p. 115.
Negroes from Africa were brought to Louisiana by Law’s company, because European laborers proved unable to endure the semitropical climate; this was the origin of African slavery in that region. The arrivals of slave-cargoes at Mobile and New Orleans are frequently noted by La Harpe and other early writers. In the Recueils des réglemens . . . des Colonies Françaises, already cited, is the Code Noir (“Black Code”), — a collection of various royal edicts regarding negro slaves held in the French colonies, issued from 1685 to 1742. among these is one (pp. 111-128) “concerning the condition and discipline of Negro Slaves in Louisiana;” it is dated in March, 1724. A synopsis (in English translation) is given by French (ut supra, pp. 89-95); but he incorrectly states that this “code was drawn up by Bienville,” who, however, as governor of the colony, promulgated the royal decree “in the name of the King.”
 (p. 301). — Lake Maurepas was thus named in compliment to Jean Frédéric Phelypeaux, count de Maurepas, a grandson of the chancellor Pontchartrain (vol. lxiv., note 18). He was born in 1701, and became secretary of state at the age of twenty-four years — having received the appointment to this office ten years previously. He remained therein twenty-four years; in 1749 he was obliged to retire to private life, having given offense by writing an epigram upon Madame de Pompadour, the favorite of Louis XV. Maurepas was, however, recalled to office at the accession of Louis XVI., by whom he was greatly esteemed. He died in November, 1781. During his earlier term of office, he bestowed much patronage upon men of science, and especially promoted the exploration of unknown lands, sending out several important expeditions. Among these was that of La Vérendrye (1738) who discovered the Rocky Mountains.
 (p. 303). — The unusual interest in Louisiana aroused during the halcyon days of the Mississippi Scheme caused the publication of [Page 343] various maps of that region, — some of them on a large scale, and giving careful details of local topography, — among these, the maps of De Fer and De Lisle, both dated 1718; the latter may be the one here characterized as inaccurate in its location of the Chetimacha tribe, who appear thereon near the Gulf coast, S. W. of the Mississippi.
 (p. 305). — An allusion to the skunk (Mephitis mephitica. Cf. Le Jeune’s description of this animal (vol. vi., p. 315); Sagard’s, in Grand Voyage (Tross ed ), p. 217; and Charlevoix’s in Journ. Hist., p. 133. The appellation given in these citations, enfant du diable (“child of the devil”), is still in popular use in Canada; as is also that mentioned in our text, bête puante (“stinking beast”).
 (p. 309). — The Capuchins were brought to Louisiana by the Company of the West (later, “the Company of the Indies”), to take up the missionary work previously carried on by the Jesuits. The first record of their appearance in Louisiana is the signature, in the Mobile church register (Jan. 18, 1721), of Father Jean Mathieu, as parish priest; but it was not until 1725 that a formal diploma was issued to the order for occupying that region. It was soon evident that their zeal was greater than their strength; and the Company decided to give them the charge of the French colonists in the various settlements, placing the Indian missions in care of the Jesuits. The latter order therefore returned to Louisiana (note 41, ante)