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The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century by Francis Parkman

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On great occasions, there was concert of action,--the various parties
meeting at a rendezvous, and pursuing the march together. The leaders of
war-parties, like the orators, belonged, in nearly all cases, to the
class of subordinate chiefs. The Iroquois had a discipline suited to the
dark and tangled forests where they fought. Here they were a terrible
foe: in an open country, against a trained European force, they were,
despite their ferocious valor, far less formidable.

In observing this singular organization, one is struck by the incongruity
of its spirit and its form. A body of hereditary oligarchs was the head
of the nation, yet the nation was essentially democratic. Not that the
Iroquois were levellers. None were more prompt to acknowledge
superiority and defer to it, whether established by usage and
prescription, or the result of personal endowment. Yet each man, whether
of high or low degree, had a voice in the conduct of affairs, and was
never for a moment divorced from his wild spirit of independence.
Where there was no property worthy the name, authority had no fulcrum and
no hold. The constant aim of sachems and chiefs was to exercise it
without seeming to do so. They had no insignia of office. They were no
richer than others; indeed, they were often poorer, spending their
substance in largesses and bribes to strengthen their influence. They
hunted and fished for subsistence; they were as foul, greasy, and
unsavory as the rest; yet in them, withal, was often seen a native
dignity of bearing, which ochre and bear's grease could not hide, and
which comported well with their strong, symmetrical, and sometimes
majestic proportions.

To the institutions, traditions, rites, usages, and festivals of the
league the Iroquois was inseparably wedded. He clung to them with Indian
tenacity; and he clings to them still. His political fabric was one of
ancient ideas and practices, crystallized into regular and enduring
forms. In its component parts it has nothing peculiar to itself.
All its elements are found in other tribes: most of them belong to the
whole Indian race. Undoubtedly there was a distinct and definite effort
of legislation; but Iroquois legislation invented nothing. Like all
sound legislation, it built of materials already prepared. It organized
the chaotic past, and gave concrete forms to Indian nature itself.
The people have dwindled and decayed; but, banded by its ties of clan and
kin, the league, in feeble miniature, still subsists, and the degenerate
Iroquois looks back with a mournful pride to the glory of the past.

Would the Iroquois, left undisturbed to work out their own destiny,
ever have emerged from the savage state? Advanced as they were beyond
most other American tribes, there is no indication whatever of a tendency
to overpass the confines of a wild hunter and warrior life. They were
inveterately attached to it, impracticable conservatists of barbarism,
and in ferocity and cruelty they matched the worst of their race.
Nor did the power of expansion apparently belonging to their system ever
produce much result. Between the years 1712 and 1715, the Tuscaroras,
a kindred people, were admitted into the league as a sixth nation; but
they were never admitted on equal terms. Long after, in the period of
their decline, several other tribes were announced as new members of the
league; but these admissions never took effect. The Iroquois were always
reluctant to receive other tribes, or parts of tribes, collectively,
into the precincts of the "Long House." Yet they constantly practised a
system of adoptions, from which, though cruel and savage, they drew great
advantages. Their prisoners of war, when they had burned and butchered
as many of them as would serve to sate their own ire and that of their
women, were divided, man by man, woman by woman, and child by child,
adopted into different families and clans, and thus incorporated into the
nation. It was by this means, and this alone, that they could offset the
losses of their incessant wars. Early in the eighteenth century, and
ever-long before, a vast proportion of their population consisted of
adopted prisoners.

[ Relation, 1660, 7 (anonymous). The Iroquois were at the height of
their prosperity about the year 1650. Morgan reckons their number at
this time at 25,000 souls; but this is far too high an estimate. The
author of the Relation of 1660 makes their whole number of warriors
2,200. Le Mercier, in the Relation of 1665, says 2,350. In the Journal
of Greenhalgh, an Englishman who visited them in 1677, their warriors are
set down at 2,150. Du Chesneau, in 1681, estimates them at 2,000; De la
Barre, in 1684, at 2,600, they having been strengthened by adoptions.
A memoir addressed to the Marquis de Seignelay, in 1687, again makes them
2,000. (See N. Y. Col. Docs., IX. 162, 196, 321.) These estimates imply
a total population of ten or twelve thousand.

The anonymous writer of the Relation of 1660 may well remark: "It is
marvellous that so few should make so great a havoc, and strike such
terror into so many tribes." ]

It remains to speak of the religious and superstitious ideas which so
deeply influenced Indian life.


The religious belief of the North-American Indians seems, on a first view,
anomalous and contradictory. It certainly is so, if we adopt the popular
impression. Romance, Poetry, and Rhetoric point, on the one hand,
to the august conception of a one all-ruling Deity, a Great Spirit,
omniscient and omnipresent; and we are called to admire the untutored
intellect which could conceive a thought too vast for Socrates and Plato.
On the other hand, we find a chaos of degrading, ridiculous, and
incoherent superstitions. A closer examination will show that the
contradiction is more apparent than real. We will begin with the lowest
forms of Indian belief, and thence trace it upward to the highest
conceptions to which the unassisted mind of the savage attained.

To the Indian, the material world is sentient and intelligent. Birds,
beasts, and reptiles have ears for human prayers, and are endowed with an
influence on human destiny. A mysterious and inexplicable power resides
in inanimate things. They, too, can listen to the voice of man, and
influence his life for evil or for good. Lakes, rivers, and waterfalls
are sometimes the dwelling-place of spirits; but more frequently they are
themselves living beings, to be propitiated by prayers and offerings.
The lake has a soul; and so has the river, and the cataract. Each can
hear the words of men, and each can be pleased or offended. In the
silence of a forest, the gloom of a deep ravine, resides a living mystery,
indefinite, but redoubtable. Through all the works of Nature or of man,
nothing exists, however seemingly trivial, that may not be endowed with a
secret power for blessing or for bane.

Men and animals are closely akin. Each species of animal has its great
archetype, its progenitor or king, who is supposed to exist somewhere,
prodigious in size, though in shape and nature like his subjects.
A belief prevails, vague, but perfectly apparent, that men themselves owe
their first parentage to beasts, birds, or reptiles, as bears, wolves,
tortoises, or cranes; and the names of the totemic clans, borrowed in
nearly every case from animals, are the reflection of this idea.

[ This belief occasionally takes a perfectly definite shape. There was a
tradition among Northern and Western tribes, that men were created from
the carcasses of beasts, birds, and fishes, by Manabozho, a mythical
personage, to be described hereafter. The Amikouas, or People of the
Beaver, an Algonquin tribe of Lake Huron, claimed descent from the
carcass of the great original beaver, or father of the beavers. They
believed that the rapids and cataracts on the French River and the Upper
Ottawa were caused by dams made by their amphibious ancestor. (See the
tradition in Perrot, Mémoire sur les Mœurs, Coustumes et Relligion des
Sauvages de l'Amérique Septentrionale, p. 20.) Charlevoix tells the same
story. Each Indian was supposed to inherit something of the nature of
the animal whence he sprung. ]

An Indian hunter was always anxious to propitiate the animals he sought
to kill. He has often been known to address a wounded bear in a long
harangue of apology. [ McKinney, Tour to the Lakes, 284, mentions the
discomposure of a party of Indians when shown a stuffed moose. Thinking
that its spirit would be offended at the indignity shown to its remains,
they surrounded it, making apologetic speeches, and blowing tobacco-smoke
at it as a propitiatory offering. ] The bones of the beaver were treated
with especial tenderness, and carefully kept from the dogs, lest the
spirit of the dead beaver, or his surviving brethren, should take
offence. [ This superstition was very prevalent, and numerous examples
of it occur in old and recent writers, from Father Le Jeune to Captain
Carver. ] This solicitude was not confined to animals, but extended to
inanimate things. A remarkable example occurred among the Hurons,
a people comparatively advanced, who, to propitiate their fishing-nets,
and persuade them to do their office with effect, married them every year
to two young girls of the tribe, with a ceremony more formal than that
observed in the case of mere human wedlock. [ 1 ] The fish, too, no less
than the nets, must be propitiated; and to this end they were addressed
every evening from the fishing-camp by one of the party chosen for that
function, who exhorted them to take courage and be caught, assuring them
that the utmost respect should be shown to their bones. The harangue,
which took place after the evening meal, was made in solemn form; and
while it lasted, the whole party, except the speaker, were required to
lie on their backs, silent and motionless, around the fire. [ 2 ]

[ 1 There are frequent allusions to this ceremony in the early writers.
The Algonquins of the Ottawa practised it, as well as the Hurons.
Lalemant, in his chapter "Du Regne de Satan en ces Contrées" (Relation
des Hurons, 1639), says that it took place yearly, in the middle of
March. As it was indispensable that the brides should be virgins,
mere children were chosen. The net was held between them; and its spirit,
or oki, was harangued by one of the chiefs, who exhorted him to do his
part in furnishing the tribe with food. Lalemant was told that the
spirit of the net had once appeared in human form to the Algonquins,
complaining that he had lost his wife, and warning them, that, unless
they could find him another equally immaculate, they would catch no more
fish. ]

[ 2 Sagard, Le Grand Voyage du Pays des Hurons, 257. Other old writers
make a similar statement. ]

Besides ascribing life and intelligence to the material world, animate
and inanimate, the Indian believes in supernatural existences, known among
the Algonquins as _Manitous_, and among the Iroquois and Hurons as _Okies_
or _Otkons_. These words comprehend all forms of supernatural being,
from the highest to the lowest, with the exception, possibly, of certain
diminutive fairies or hobgoblins, and certain giants and anomalous
monsters, which appear under various forms, grotesque and horrible,
in the Indian fireside legends. [ Many tribes have tales of diminutive
beings, which, in the absence of a better word, may be called fairies.
In the Travels of Lewis and Clarke, there is mention of a hill on the
Missouri, supposed to be haunted by them. These Western fairies
correspond to the _Puck Wudj Ininee_ of Ojibwa tradition. As an example
of the monsters alluded to, see the Saginaw story of the Weendigoes, in
Schoolcraft, Algic Researches, II. 105. ] There are local manitous of
streams, rocks, mountains, cataracts, and forests. The conception of
these beings betrays, for the most part, a striking poverty of
imagination. In nearly every case, when they reveal themselves to mortal
sight, they bear the semblance of beasts, reptiles, or birds, in shapes
unusual or distorted. [ The figure of a large bird is perhaps the most
common,--as, for example, the good spirit of Rock Island: "He was white,
with wings like a swan, but ten times larger."--Autobiography of
Blackhawk, 70. ] There are other manitous without local habitation,
some good, some evil, countless in number and indefinite in attributes.
They fill the world, and control the destinies of men,--that is to say,
of Indians: for the primitive Indian holds that the white man lives under
a spiritual rule distinct from that which governs his own fate. These
beings, also, appear for the most part in the shape of animals.
Sometimes, however, they assume human proportions; but more frequently
they take the form of stones, which, being broken, are found full of
living blood and flesh.

Each primitive Indian has his guardian manitou, to whom he looks for
counsel, guidance, and protection. These spiritual allies are gained by
the following process. At the age of fourteen or fifteen, the Indian boy
blackens his face, retires to some solitary place, and remains for days
without food. Superstitious expectancy and the exhaustion of abstinence
rarely fail of their results. His sleep is haunted by visions, and the
form which first or most often appears is that of his guardian manitou,--
a beast, a bird, a fish, a serpent, or some other object, animate or
inanimate. An eagle or a bear is the vision of a destined warrior; a
wolf, of a successful hunter; while a serpent foreshadows the future
medicine-man, or, according to others, portends disaster. [ 1 ] The
young Indian thenceforth wears about his person the object revealed in
his dream, or some portion of it,--as a bone, a feather, a snake-skin,
or a tuft of hair. This, in the modern language of the forest and
prairie, is known as his "medicine." The Indian yields to it a sort of
worship, propitiates it with offerings of tobacco, thanks it in
prosperity, and upbraids it in disaster. [ 2 ] If his medicine fails to
bring the desired success, he will sometimes discard it and adopt
another. The superstition now becomes mere fetich-worship, since the
Indian regards the mysterious object which he carries about him rather as
an embodiment than as a representative of a supernatural power.

[ 1 Compare Cass, in North-American Review, Second Series, XIII. 100.
A turkey-buzzard, according to him, is the vision of a medicine-man.
I once knew an old Dahcotah chief, who was greatly respected, but had
never been to war, though belonging to a family of peculiarly warlike
propensities. The reason was, that, in his initiatory fast, he had
dreamed of an antelope,--the peace-spirit of his people.

Women fast, as well as men,--always at the time of transition from
childhood to maturity. In the Narrative of John Tanner, there is an
account of an old woman who had fasted, in her youth, for ten days,
and throughout her life placed the firmest faith in the visions which had
appeared to her at that time. Among the Northern Algonquins, the
practice, down to a recent day, was almost universal. ]

[ 2 The author has seen a Dahcotah warrior open his medicine-bag,
talk with an air of affectionate respect to the bone, feather, or horn
within, and blow tobacco-smoke upon it as an offering. "Medicines"
are acquired not only by fasting, but by casual dreams, and otherwise.
They are sometimes even bought and sold. For a curious account of
medicine-bags and fetich-worship among the Algonquins of Gaspé, see Le
Clerc, Nouvelle Relation de la Gaspésie, Chap. XIII. ]

Indian belief recognizes also another and very different class of beings.
Besides the giants and monsters of legendary lore, other conceptions may
be discerned, more or less distinct, and of a character partly mythical.
Of these the most conspicuous is that remarkable personage of Algonquin
tradition, called Manabozho, Messou, Michabou, Nanabush, or the Great
Hare. As each species of animal has its archetype or king, so, among the
Algonquins, Manabozho is king of all these animal kings. Tradition is
diverse as to his origin. According to the most current belief, his
father was the West-Wind, and his mother a great-granddaughter of the
Moon. His character is worthy of such a parentage. Sometimes he is a
wolf, a bird, or a gigantic hare, surrounded by a court of quadrupeds;
sometimes he appears in human shape, majestic in stature and wondrous in
endowment, a mighty magician, a destroyer of serpents and evil manitous;
sometimes he is a vain and treacherous imp, full of childish whims and
petty trickery, the butt and victim of men, beasts, and spirits. His
powers of transformation are without limit; his curiosity and malice are
insatiable; and of the numberless legends of which he is the hero,
the greater part are as trivial as they are incoherent. [ 1 ] It does
not appear that Manabozho was ever an object of worship; yet, despite his
absurdity, tradition declares him to be chief among the manitous, in
short, the "Great Spirit." [ "Presque toutes les Nations Algonquines ont
donné le nom de Grand Lièvre au Premier Esprit, quelques-uns l'appellent
Michabou (Manabozho)."--Charlevoix, Journal Historique, 344. ] It was he
who restored the world, submerged by a deluge. He was hunting in company
with a certain wolf, who was his brother, or, by other accounts, his
grandson, when his quadruped relative fell through the ice of a frozen
lake, and was at once devoured by certain serpents lurking in the depths
of the waters. Manabozho, intent on revenge, transformed himself into
the stump of a tree, and by this artifice surprised and slew the king of
the serpents, as he basked with his followers in the noontide sun.
The serpents, who were all manitous, caused, in their rage, the waters of
the lake to deluge the earth. Manabozho climbed a tree, which, in answer
to his entreaties, grew as the flood rose around it, and thus saved him
from the vengeance of the evil spirits. Submerged to the neck, he looked
abroad on the waste of waters, and at length descried the bird known as
the loon, to whom he appealed for aid in the task of restoring the world.
The loon dived in search of a little mud, as material for reconstruction,
but could not reach the bottom. A musk-rat made the same attempt,
but soon reappeared floating on his back, and apparently dead. Manabozho,
however, on searching his paws, discovered in one of them a particle of
the desired mud, and of this, together with the body of the loon, created
the world anew. [ 2 ]

[ 1 Mr. Schoolcraft has collected many of these tales. See his Algic
Researches, Vol. I. Compare the stories of Messou, given by Le Jeune
(Relations, 1633, 1634), and the account of Nanabush, by Edwin James,
in his notes to Tanner's Narrative of Captivity and Adventures during a
Thirty-Years' Residence among the Indians; also the account of the Great
Hare, in the Mémoire of Nicolas Perrot, Chaps. I., II. ]

[ 2 This is a form of the story still current among the remoter
Algonquins. Compare the story of Messou, in Le Jeune, Relation, 1633,
16. It is substantially the same. ]

There are various forms of this tradition, in some of which Manabozho
appears, not as the restorer, but as the creator of the world, forming
mankind from the carcasses of beasts, birds, and fishes. [ 1 ] Other
stories represent him as marrying a female musk-rat, by whom he became
the progenitor of the human race. [ 2 ]

[ 1 In the beginning of all things, Manabozho, in the form of the Great
Hare, was on a raft, surrounded by animals who acknowledged him as their
chief. No land could be seen. Anxious to create the world, the Great
Hare persuaded the beaver to dive for mud but the adventurous diver
floated to the surface senseless. The otter next tried, and failed like
his predecessor. The musk-rat now offered himself for the desperate
task. He plunged, and, after remaining a day and night beneath the
surface, reappeared, floating on his back beside the raft, apparently
dead, and with all his paws fast closed. On opening them, the other
animals found in one of them a grain of sand, and of this the Great Hare
created the world.--Perrot, Mémoire, Chap. I. ]

[ 2 Le Jeune, Relation, 1633, 16.--The musk-rat is always a conspicuous
figure in Algonquin cosmogony.

It is said that Messou, or Manabozho, once gave to an Indian the gift of
immortality, tied in a bundle, enjoining him never to open it. The
Indian's wife, however, impelled by curiosity, one day cut the string,
the precious gift flew out, and Indians have ever since been subject to
death. Le Jeune, Relation, 1634, 13. ]

Searching for some higher conception of supernatural existence, we find,
among a portion of the primitive Algonquins, traces of a vague belief in
a spirit dimly shadowed forth under the name of Atahocan, to whom it does
not appear that any attributes were ascribed or any worship offered,
and of whom the Indians professed to know nothing whatever; [ 1 ] but
there is no evidence that this belief extended beyond certain tribes of
the Lower St. Lawrence. Others saw a supreme manitou in the Sun. [ 2 ]
The Algonquins believed also in a malignant manitou, in whom the early
missionaries failed not to recognize the Devil, but who was far less
dreaded than his wife. She wore a robe made of the hair of her victims,
for she was the cause of death; and she it was whom, by yelling, drumming,
and stamping, they sought to drive away from the sick. Sometimes,
at night, she was seen by some terrified squaw in the forest, in shape
like a flame of fire; and when the vision was announced to the circle
crouched around the lodge-fire, they burned a fragment of meat to appease
the female fiend.

[ 1 Le Jeune, Relation, 1633, 16; Relation, 1634, 13. ]

[ 2 Biard, Relation, 1611, Chap. VIII.--This belief was very prevalent.
The Ottawas, according to Ragueneau (Relation des Hurons, 1648, 77),
were accustomed to invoke the "Maker of Heaven" at their feasts; but they
recognized as distinct persons the Maker of the Earth, the Maker of
Winter, the God of the Waters, and the Seven Spirits of the Wind.
He says, at the same time, "The people of these countries have received
from their ancestors no knowledge of a God"; and he adds, that there is
no sentiment of religion in this invocation. ]

The East, the West, the North, and the South were vaguely personified as
spirits or manitous. Some of the winds, too, were personal existences.
The West-Wind, as we have seen, was father of Manabozho. There was a
Summer-Maker and a Winter-Maker; and the Indians tried to keep the latter
at bay by throwing firebrands into the air.

When we turn from the Algonquin family of tribes to that of the Iroquois,
we find another cosmogony, and other conceptions of spiritual existence.
While the earth was as yet a waste of waters, there was, according to
Iroquois and Huron traditions, a heaven with lakes, streams, plains,
and forests, inhabited by animals, by spirits, and, as some affirm,
by human beings. Here a certain female spirit, named Ataentsic, was once
chasing a bear, which, slipping through a hole, fell down to the earth.
Ataentsic's dog followed, when she herself, struck with despair, jumped
after them. Others declare that she was kicked out of heaven by the
spirit, her husband, for an amour with a man; while others, again,
hold the belief that she fell in the attempt to gather for her husband
the medicinal leaves of a certain tree. Be this as it may, the animals
swimming in the watery waste below saw her falling, and hastily met in
council to determine what should be done. The case was referred to the
beaver. The beaver commended it to the judgment of the tortoise, who
thereupon called on the other animals to dive, bring up mud, and place it
on his back. Thus was formed a floating island, on which Ataentsic fell;
and here, being pregnant, she was soon delivered of a daughter, who in
turn bore two boys, whose paternity is unexplained. They were called
Taouscaron and Jouskeha, and presently fell to blows, Jouskeha killing
his brother with the horn of a stag. The back of the tortoise grew into
a world full of verdure and life; and Jouskeha, with his grandmother,
Ataentsic, ruled over its destinies.

[ The above is the version of the story given by Brébeuf, Relation des
Hurons, 1636, 86 (Cramoisy). No two Indians told it precisely alike,
though nearly all the Hurons and Iroquois agreed as to its essential
points. Compare Vanderdonck, Cusick, Sagard, and other writers.
According to Vanderdonck, Ataentsic became mother of a deer, a bear,
and a wolf, by whom she afterwards bore all the other animals, mankind
included. Brébeuf found also among the Hurons a tradition inconsistent
with that of Ataentsic, and bearing a trace of Algonquin origin. It
declares, that, in the beginning, a man, a fox, and a skunk found
themselves together on an island, and that the man made the world out of
mud brought him by the skunk.

The Delawares, an Algonquin tribe, seem to have borrowed somewhat of the
Iroquois cosmogony, since they believed that the earth was formed on the
back of a tortoise.

According to some, Jouskeha became the father of the human race; but,
in the third generation, a deluge destroyed his posterity, so that it
was necessary to transform animals into men.--Charlevoix, III. 345. ]

He is the Sun; she is the Moon. He is beneficent; but she is malignant,
like the female demon of the Algonquins. They have a bark house, made
like those of the Iroquois, at the end of the earth, and they often come
to feasts and dances in the Indian villages. Jouskeha raises corn for
himself, and makes plentiful harvests for mankind. Sometimes he is seen,
thin as a skeleton, with a spike of shrivelled corn in his hand, or
greedily gnawing a human limb; and then the Indians know that a grievous
famine awaits them. He constantly interposes between mankind and the
malice of his wicked grandmother, whom, at times, he soundly cudgels.
It was he who made lakes and streams: for once the earth was parched and
barren, all the water being gathered under the armpit of a colossal frog;
but Jouskeha pierced the armpit, and let out the water. No prayers were
offered to him, his benevolent nature rendering them superfluous.

[ Compare Brébeuf, as before cited, and Sagard, Voyage des Hurons,
p. 228. ]

The early writers call Jouskeha the creator of the world, and speak of
him as corresponding to the vague Algonquin deity, Atahocan. Another
deity appears in Iroquois mythology, with equal claims to be regarded as
supreme. He is called Areskoui, or Agreskoui, and his most prominent
attributes are those of a god of war. He was often invoked, and the
flesh of animals and of captive enemies was burned in his honor.
[ Father Jogues saw a female prisoner burned to Areskoui, and two bears
offered to him to atone for the sin of not burning more captives.--Lettre
de Jogues, 6 Aug., 1643. ] Like Jouskeha, he was identified with the
sun; and he is perhaps to be regarded as the same being, under different
attributes. Among the Iroquois proper, or Five Nations, there was also a
divinity called Tarenyowagon, or Teharonhiawagon, [ 1 ] whose place and
character it is very difficult to determine. In some traditions he
appears as the son of Jouskeha. He had a prodigious influence; for it
was he who spoke to men in dreams. The Five Nations recognized still
another superhuman personage,--plainly a deified chief or hero. This was
Taounyawatha, or Hiawatha, said to be a divinely appointed messenger,
who made his abode on earth for the political and social instruction of
the chosen race, and whose counterpart is to be found in the traditions
of the Peruvians, Mexicans, and other primitive nations. [ 2 ]

[ 1 Le Mercier, Relation, 1670, 66; Dablon, Relation, 1671, 17. Compare
Cusick, Megapolensis, and Vanderdonck. Some writers identify
Tarenyowagon and Hiawatha. Vanderdonck assumes that Areskoui is the
Devil, and Tarenyowagon is God. Thus Indian notions are often
interpreted by the light of preconceived ideas. ]

[ 2 For the tradition of Hiawatha, see Clark, History of Onondaga,
I. 21. It will also be found in Schoolcraft's Notes on the Iroquois,
and in his History, Condition, and Prospects of Indian Tribes.

The Iroquois name for God is Hawenniio, sometimes written Owayneo; but
this use of the word is wholly due to the missionaries. Hawenniio is an
Iroquois verb, and means, "he rules, he is master". There is no Iroquois
word which, in its primitive meaning, can be interpreted, the Great
Spirit, or God. On this subject, see Études Philologiques sur quelques
Langues Sauvages (Montreal, 1866), where will also be found a curious
exposure of a few of Schoolcraft's ridiculous blunders in this
connection. ]

Close examination makes it evident that the primitive Indian's idea of a
Supreme Being was a conception no higher than might have been expected.
The moment he began to contemplate this object of his faith, and sought
to clothe it with attributes, it became finite, and commonly ridiculous.
The Creator of the World stood on the level of a barbarous and degraded
humanity, while a natural tendency became apparent to look beyond him to
other powers sharing his dominion. The Indian belief, if developed,
would have developed into a system of polytheism.

[ Some of the early writers could discover no trace of belief in a
supreme spirit of any kind. Perrot, after a life spent among the Indians,
ignores such an idea. Allouez emphatically denies that it existed among
the tribes of Lake Superior. (Relation, 1667, 11.) He adds, however,
that the Sacs and Foxes believed in a great _génie_, who lived not far
from the French settlements.--Ibid., 21. ]

In the primitive Indian's conception of a God the idea of moral good has
no part. His deity does not dispense justice for this world or the next,
but leaves mankind under the power of subordinate spirits, who fill and
control the universe. Nor is the good and evil of these inferior beings
a moral good and evil. The good spirit is the spirit that gives good
luck, and ministers to the necessities and desires of mankind: the evil
spirit is simply a malicious agent of disease, death, and mischance.

In no Indian language could the early missionaries find a word to express
the idea of God. Manitou and Oki meant anything endowed with
supernatural powers, from a snake-skin, or a greasy Indian conjurer,
up to Manabozho and Jouskeha. The priests were forced to use a
circumlocution,--"The Great Chief of Men," or "He who lives in the Sky."
[ See "Divers Sentimens," appended to the Relation of 1635, § 27; and
also many other passages of early missionaries. ] Yet it should seem
that the idea of a supreme controlling spirit might naturally arise from
the peculiar character of Indian belief. The idea that each race of
animals has its archetype or chief would easily suggest the existence of
a supreme chief of the spirits or of the human race,--a conception
imperfectly shadowed forth in Manabozho. The Jesuit missionaries seized
this advantage. "If each sort of animal has its king," they urged, "so,
too, have men; and as man is above all the animals, so is the spirit that
rules over men the master of all the other spirits." The Indian mind
readily accepted the idea, and tribes in no sense Christian quickly rose
to the belief in one controlling spirit. The Great Spirit became a
distinct existence, a pervading power in the universe, and a dispenser of
justice. Many tribes now pray to him, though still clinging obstinately
to their ancient superstitions; and with some, as the heathen portion of
the modern Iroquois, he is clothed with attributes of moral good.

[ In studying the writers of the last and of the present century, it is
to be remembered that their observations were made upon savages who had
been for generations in contact, immediate or otherwise, with the
doctrines of Christianity. Many observers have interpreted the religious
ideas of the Indians after preconceived ideas of their own; and it may
safely be affirmed that an Indian will respond with a grunt of
acquiescence to any question whatever touching his spiritual state.
Loskiel and the simple-minded Heckewelder write from a missionary point
of view; Adair, to support a theory of descent from the Jews; the worthy
theologian, Jarvis, to maintain his dogma, that all religious ideas of
the heathen world are perversions of revelation; and so, in a greater or
less degree, of many others. By far the most close and accurate
observers of Indian superstition were the French and Italian Jesuits of
the first half of the seventeenth century. Their opportunities were
unrivalled; and they used them in a spirit of faithful inquiry,
accumulating facts, and leaving theory to their successors. Of recent
American writers, no one has given so much attention to the subject as
Mr. Schoolcraft; but, in view of his opportunities and his zeal, his
results are most unsatisfactory. The work in six large quarto volumes,
History, Condition, and Prospects of Indian Tribes, published by
Government under his editorship, includes the substance of most of his
previous writings. It is a singularly crude and illiterate production,
stuffed with blunders and contradictions, giving evidence on every page
of a striking unfitness either for historical or philosophical inquiry,
and taxing to the utmost the patience of those who would extract what is
valuable in it from its oceans of pedantic verbiage. ]

The primitive Indian believed in the immortality of the soul, [ 1 ] but
he did not always believe in a state of future reward and punishment.
Nor, when such a belief existed, was the good to be rewarded a moral good,
or the evil to be punished a moral evil. Skilful hunters, brave warriors,
men of influence and consideration, went, after death, to the happy
hunting-ground; while the slothful, the cowardly, and the weak were
doomed to eat serpents and ashes in dreary regions of mist and darkness.
In the general belief, however, there was but one land of shades for all
alike. The spirits, in form and feature as they had been in life,
wended their way through dark forests to the villages of the dead,
subsisting on bark and rotten wood. On arriving, they sat all day in the
crouching posture of the sick, and, when night came, hunted the shades of
animals, with the shades of bows and arrows, among the shades of trees
and rocks: for all things, animate and inanimate, were alike immortal,
and all passed together to the gloomy country of the dead.

[ 1 The exceptions are exceedingly rare. Father Gravier says that a
Peoria Indian once told him that there was no future life. It would be
difficult to find another instance of the kind. ]

The belief respecting the land of souls varied greatly in different
tribes and different individuals. Among the Hurons there were those who
held that departed spirits pursued their journey through the sky, along
the Milky Way, while the souls of dogs took another route, by certain
constellations, known as the "Way of the Dogs." [ Sagard, Voyage des
Hurons, 233. ]

At intervals of ten or twelve years, the Hurons, the Neutrals, and other
kindred tribes, were accustomed to collect the bones of their dead,
and deposit them, with great ceremony, in a common place of burial.
The whole nation was sometimes assembled at this solemnity; and hundreds
of corpses, brought from their temporary resting-places, were inhumed in
one capacious pit. From this hour the immortality of their souls began.
They took wing, as some affirmed, in the shape of pigeons; while the
greater number declared that they journeyed on foot, and in their own
likeness, to the land of shades, bearing with them the ghosts of the
wampum-belts, beaver-skins, bows, arrows, pipes, kettles, beads, and
rings buried with them in the common grave. [ The practice of burying
treasures with the dead is not peculiar to the North American aborigines.
Thus, the London Times of Oct. 25, 1885, describing the funeral rites of
Lord Palmerston, says: "And as the words, 'Dust to dust, ashes to ashes,'
were pronounced, the chief mourner, as a last precious offering to the
dead, threw into the grave several diamond and gold rings." ] But as the
spirits of the old and of children are too feeble for the march, they are
forced to stay behind, lingering near their earthly villages, where the
living often hear the shutting of their invisible cabin-doors, and the
weak voices of the disembodied children driving birds from their
corn-fields. [ Brébeuf, Relation des Hurons, 1636, 99 (Cramoisy). ]
An endless variety of incoherent fancies is connected with the Indian
idea of a future life. They commonly owe their origin to dreams, often
to the dreams of those in extreme sickness, who, on awaking, supposed
that they had visited the other world, and related to the wondering
bystanders what they had seen.

The Indian land of souls is not always a region of shadows and gloom.
The Hurons sometimes represented the souls of their dead--those of their
dogs included--as dancing joyously in the presence of Ataentsic and
Jouskeha. According to some Algonquin traditions, heaven was a scene of
endless festivity, the ghosts dancing to the sound of the rattle and the
drum, and greeting with hospitable welcome the occasional visitor from
the living world: for the spirit-land was not far off, and roving hunters
sometimes passed its confines unawares.

Most of the traditions agree, however, that the spirits, on their journey
heavenward, were beset with difficulties and perils. There was a swift
river which must be crossed on a log that shook beneath their feet,
while a ferocious dog opposed their passage, and drove many into the
abyss. This river was full of sturgeon and other fish, which the ghosts
speared for their subsistence. Beyond was a narrow path between moving
rocks, which each instant crashed together, grinding to atoms the less
nimble of the pilgrims who essayed to pass. The Hurons believed that a
personage named Oscotarach, or the Head-Piercer, dwelt in a bark house
beside the path, and that it was his office to remove the brains from the
heads of all who went by, as a necessary preparation for immortality.
This singular idea is found also in some Algonquin traditions, according
to which, however, the brain is afterwards restored to its owner.

[ On Indian ideas of another life, compare Sagard, the Jesuit Relations,
Perrot, Charlevoix, and Lafitau, with Tanner, James, Schoolcraft, and the
Appendix to Morse's Indian Report.

Le Clerc recounts a singular story, current in his time among the
Algonquins of Gaspé and Northern New Brunswick. The favorite son of an
old Indian died; whereupon the father, with a party of friends, set out
for the land of souls to recover him. It was only necessary to wade
through a shallow lake, several days' journey in extent. This they did,
sleeping at night on platforms of poles which supported them above the
water. At length they arrived, and were met by Papkootparout, the Indian
Pluto, who rushed on them in a rage, with his war-club upraised; but,
presently relenting, changed his mind, and challenged them to a game of
ball. They proved the victors, and won the stakes, consisting of corn,
tobacco, and certain fruits, which thus became known to mankind. The
bereaved father now begged hard for his son's soul, and Papkootparout at
last gave it to him, in the form and size of a nut, which, by pressing it
hard between his hands, he forced into a small leather bag. The
delighted parent carried it back to earth, with instructions to insert it
in the body of his son, who would thereupon return to life. When the
adventurers reached home, and reported the happy issue of their journey,
there was a dance of rejoicing; and the father, wishing to take part in
it, gave his son's soul to the keeping of a squaw who stood by. Being
curious to see it, she opened the bag; on which it escaped at once,
and took flight for the realms of Papkootparout, preferring them to the
abodes of the living.--Le Clerc, Nouvelle Relation de la Gaspésie,
310-328. ]

Dreams were to the Indian a universal oracle. They revealed to him his
guardian spirit, taught him the cure of his diseases, warned him of the
devices of sorcerers, guided him to the lurking-places of his enemy or
the haunts of game, and unfolded the secrets of good and evil destiny.
The dream was a mysterious and inexorable power, whose least behests must
be obeyed to the letter,--a source, in every Indian town, of endless
mischief and abomination. There were professed dreamers, and professed
interpreters of dreams. One of the most noted festivals among the Hurons
and Iroquois was the Dream Feast, a scene of frenzy, where the actors
counterfeited madness, and the town was like a bedlam turned loose.
Each pretended to have dreamed of something necessary to his welfare,
and rushed from house to house, demanding of all he met to guess his
secret requirement and satisfy it.

Believing that the whole material world was instinct with powers to
influence and control his fate, that good and evil spirits, and
existences nameless and indefinable, filled all Nature, that a pervading
sorcery was above, below, and around him, and that issues of life and
death might be controlled by instruments the most unnoticeable and
seemingly the most feeble, the Indian lived in perpetual fear. The
turning of a leaf, the crawling of an insect, the cry of a bird, the
creaking of a bough, might be to him the mystic signal of weal or woe.

An Indian community swarmed with sorcerers, medicine-men, and diviners,
whose functions were often united in the same person. The sorcerer,
by charms, magic songs, magic feasts, and the beating of his drum,
had power over the spirits and those occult influences inherent in
animals and inanimate things. He could call to him the souls of his
enemies. They appeared before him in the form of stones. He chopped and
bruised them with his hatchet; blood and flesh issued forth; and the
intended victim, however distant, languished and died. Like the sorcerer
of the Middle Ages, he made images of those he wished to destroy, and,
muttering incantations, punctured them with an awl, whereupon the persons
represented sickened and pined away.

The Indian doctor relied far more on magic than on natural remedies.
Dreams, beating of the drum, songs, magic feasts and dances, and howling
to frighten the female demon from his patient, were his ordinary methods
of cure.

The prophet, or diviner, had various means of reading the secrets of
futurity, such as the flight of birds, and the movements of water and
fire. There was a peculiar practice of divination very general in the
Algonquin family of tribes, among some of whom it still subsists.
A small, conical lodge was made by planting poles in a circle, lashing
the tops together at the height of about seven feet from the ground,
and closely covering them with hides. The prophet crawled in, and closed
the aperture after him. He then beat his drum and sang his magic songs
to summon the spirits, whose weak, shrill voices were soon heard, mingled
with his lugubrious chanting, while at intervals the juggler paused to
interpret their communications to the attentive crowd seated on the
ground without. During the whole scene, the lodge swayed to and fro with
a violence which has astonished many a civilized beholder, and which some
of the Jesuits explain by the ready solution of a genuine diabolic

[ This practice was first observed by Champlain. (See "Pioneers of
France in the New World." ) From his time to the present, numerous
writers have remarked upon it. Le Jeune, in the Relation of 1637,
treats it at some length. The lodge was sometimes of a cylindrical,
instead of a conical form. ]

The sorcerers, medicine-men, and diviners did not usually exercise the
function of priests. Each man sacrificed for himself to the powers he
wished to propitiate, whether his guardian spirit, the spirits of animals,
or the other beings of his belief. The most common offering was tobacco,
thrown into the fire or water; scraps of meat were sometimes burned to
the manitous; and, on a few rare occasions of public solemnity, a white
dog, the mystic animal of many tribes, was tied to the end of an upright
pole, as a sacrifice to some superior spirit, or to the sun, with which
the superior spirits were constantly confounded by the primitive Indian.
In recent times, when Judaism and Christianity have modified his
religious ideas, it has been, and still is, the practice to sacrifice
dogs to the Great Spirit. On these public occasions, the sacrificial
function is discharged by chiefs, or by warriors appointed for the

[ Many of the Indian feasts were feasts of sacrifice,--sometimes to the
guardian spirit of the host, sometimes to an animal of which he has
dreamed, sometimes to a local or other spirit. The food was first
offered in a loud voice to the being to be propitiated, after which the
guests proceeded to devour it for him. This unique method of sacrifice
was practised at war-feasts and similar solemnities. For an excellent
account of Indian religious feasts, see Perrot, Chap. V.

One of the most remarkable of Indian sacrifices was that practised by the
Hurons in the case of a person drowned or frozen to death. The flesh of
the deceased was cut off; and thrown into a fire made for the purpose,
as an offering of propitiation to the spirits of the air or water.
What remained of the body was then buried near the fire.--Brébeuf,
Relation des Hurons, 1636, 108.

The tribes of Virginia, as described by Beverly and others, not only had
priests who offered sacrifice, but idols and houses of worship. ]

Among the Hurons and Iroquois, and indeed all the stationary tribes,
there was an incredible number of mystic ceremonies, extravagant, puerile,
and often disgusting, designed for the cure of the sick or for the
general weal of the community. Most of their observances seem originally
to have been dictated by dreams, and transmitted as a sacred heritage
from generation to generation. They consisted in an endless variety of
dances, masqueradings, and nondescript orgies; and a scrupulous adherence
to all the traditional forms was held to be of the last moment, as the
slightest failure in this respect might entail serious calamities.
If children were seen in their play imitating any of these mysteries,
they were grimly rebuked and punished. In many tribes secret magical
societies existed, and still exist, into which members are initiated with
peculiar ceremonies. These associations are greatly respected and
feared. They have charms for love, war, and private revenge, and exert a
great, and often a very mischievous influence. The societies of the
Metai and the Wabeno, among the Northern Algonquins, are conspicuous
examples; while other societies of similar character have, for a century,
been known to exist among the Dahcotah.

[ The Friendly Society of the Spirit, of which the initiatory ceremonies
were seen and described by Carver (Travels, 271), preserves to this day
its existence and its rites. ]

A notice of the superstitious ideas of the Indians would be imperfect
without a reference to the traditionary tales through which these ideas
are handed down from father to son. Some of these tales can be traced
back to the period of the earliest intercourse with Europeans. One at
least of those recorded by the first missionaries, on the Lower
St. Lawrence, is still current among the tribes of the Upper Lakes.
Many of them are curious combinations of beliefs seriously entertained
with strokes intended for humor and drollery, which never fail to awaken
peals of laughter in the lodge-circle. Giants, dwarfs, cannibals,
spirits, beasts, birds, and anomalous monsters, transformations, tricks,
and sorcery, form the staple of the story. Some of the Iroquois tales
embody conceptions which, however preposterous, are of a bold and
striking character; but those of the Algonquins are, to an incredible
degree, flimsy, silly, and meaningless; nor are those of the Dahcotah
tribes much better. In respect to this wigwam lore, there is a curious
superstition of very wide prevalence. The tales must not be told in
summer; since at that season, when all Nature is full of life, the
spirits are awake, and, hearing what is said of them, may take offence;
whereas in winter they are fast sealed up in snow and ice, and no longer
capable of listening.

[ The prevalence of this fancy among the Algonquins in the remote parts
of Canada is well established. The writer found it also among the
extreme western bands of the Dahcotah. He tried, in the month of July,
to persuade an old chief, a noted story-teller, to tell him some of the
tales; but, though abundantly loquacious in respect to his own adventures,
and even his dreams, the Indian obstinately refused, saying that winter
was the time for the tales, and that it was bad to tell them in summer.

Mr. Schoolcraft has published a collection of Algonquin tales, under the
title of Algic Researches. Most of them were translated by his wife,
an educated Ojibwa half-breed. This book is perhaps the best of
Mr. Schoolcraft's works, though its value is much impaired by the want of
a literal rendering, and the introduction of decorations which savor more
of a popular monthly magazine than of an Indian wigwam. Mrs. Eastman's
interesting Legends of the Sioux (Dahcotah) is not free from the same
defect. Other tales are scattered throughout the works of Mr. Schoolcraft
and various modern writers. Some are to be found in the works of Lafitau
and the other Jesuits. But few of the Iroquois legends have been printed,
though a considerable number have been written down. The singular History
of the Five Nations, by the old Tuscarora Indian, Cusick, gives the
substance of some of them. Others will be found in Clark's History of
Onondaga. ]

It is obvious that the Indian mind has never seriously occupied itself
with any of the higher themes of thought. The beings of its belief are
not impersonations of the forces of Nature, the courses of human destiny,
or the movements of human intellect, will, and passion. In the midst of
Nature; the Indian knew nothing of her laws. His perpetual reference of
her phenomena to occult agencies forestalled inquiry and precluded
inductive reasoning. If the wind blew with violence, it was because the
water-lizard, which makes the wind, had crawled out of his pool; if the
lightning was sharp and frequent, it was because the young of the
thunder-bird were restless in their nest; if a blight fell upon the corn,
it was because the Corn Spirit was angry; and if the beavers were shy and
difficult to catch, it was because they had taken offence at seeing the
bones of one of their race thrown to a dog. Well, and even highly
developed, in a few instances,--I allude especially to the Iroquois,--
with respect to certain points of material concernment, the mind of the
Indian in other respects was and is almost hopelessly stagnant. The very
traits that raise him above the servile races are hostile to the kind and
degree of civilization which those races so easily attain. His
intractable spirit of independence, and the pride which forbids him to be
an imitator, reinforce but too strongly that savage lethargy of mind from
which it is so hard to rouse him. No race, perhaps, ever offered greater
difficulties to those laboring for its improvement.

To sum up the results of this examination, the primitive Indian was as
savage in his religion as in his life. He was divided between fetich-
worship and that next degree of religious development which consists in
the worship of deities embodied in the human form. His conception of
their attributes was such as might have been expected. His gods were no
whit better than himself. Even when he borrows from Christianity the
idea of a Supreme and Universal Spirit, his tendency is to reduce Him to
a local habitation and a bodily shape; and this tendency disappears only
in tribes that have been long in contact with civilized white men.
The primitive Indian, yielding his untutored homage to One All-pervading
and Omnipotent Spirit, is a dream of poets, rhetoricians, and






Opposite Quebec lies the tongue of land called Point Levi. One who,
in the summer of the year 1634, stood on its margin and looked northward,
across the St. Lawrence, would have seen, at the distance of a mile or
more, a range of lofty cliffs, rising on the left into the bold heights
of Cape Diamond, and on the right sinking abruptly to the bed of the
tributary river St. Charles. Beneath these cliffs, at the brink of the
St. Lawrence, he would have descried a cluster of warehouses, sheds,
and wooden tenements. Immediately above, along the verge of the
precipice, he could have traced the outlines of a fortified work, with a
flagstaff, and a few small cannon to command the river; while, at the
only point where Nature had made the heights accessible, a zigzag path
connected the warehouses and the fort.

Now, embarked in the canoe of some Montagnais Indian, let him cross the
St. Lawrence, land at the pier, and, passing the cluster of buildings,
climb the pathway up the cliff. Pausing for rest and breath, he might
see, ascending and descending, the tenants of this outpost of the
wilderness: a soldier of the fort, or an officer in slouched hat and
plume; a factor of the fur company, owner and sovereign lord of all
Canada; a party of Indians; a trader from the upper country, one of the
precursors of that hardy race of _coureurs de bois_, destined to form a
conspicuous and striking feature of the Canadian population: next,
perhaps, would appear a figure widely different. The close, black
cassock, the rosary hanging from the waist, and the wide, black hat,
looped up at the sides, proclaimed the Jesuit,--Father Le Jeune, Superior
of the Residence of Quebec.

And now, that we may better know the aspect and condition of the infant
colony and incipient mission, we will follow the priest on his way.
Mounting the steep path, he reached the top of the cliff, some two
hundred feet above the river and the warehouses. On the left lay the
fort built by Champlain, covering a part of the ground now forming Durham
Terrace and the Place d'Armes. Its ramparts were of logs and earth,
and within was a turreted building of stone, used as a barrack, as
officers' quarters, and for other purposes. [ Compare the various
notices in Champlain (1632) with that of Du Creux, Historia Canadensis,
204. ] Near the fort stood a small chapel, newly built. The surrounding
country was cleared and partially cultivated; yet only one dwelling-house
worthy the name appeared. It was a substantial cottage, where lived
Madame Hébert, widow of the first settler of Canada, with her daughter,
her son-in-law Couillard, and their children, good Catholics all, who,
two years before, when Quebec was evacuated by the English, [ 1 ] wept
for joy at beholding Le Jeune, and his brother Jesuit, De Nouë, crossing
their threshold to offer beneath their roof the long-forbidden sacrifice
of the Mass. There were inclosures with cattle near at hand; and the
house, with its surroundings, betokened industry and thrift.

[ 1 See "Pioneers of France in the New World." Hébert's cottage seems
to have stood between Ste.-Famille and Couillard Streets, as appears by a
contract of 1634, cited by M. Ferland. ]

Thence Le Jeune walked on, across the site of the modern market-place,
and still onward, near the line of the cliffs which sank abruptly on his
right. Beneath lay the mouth of the St. Charles; and, beyond, the
wilderness shore of Beauport swept in a wide curve eastward, to where,
far in the distance, the Gulf of Montmorenci yawned on the great river.
[ The settlement of Beauport was begun this year, or the year following,
by the Sieur Giffard, to whom a large tract had been granted here--
Langevin, Notes sur les Archives de N. D. de Beauport, 5. ] The priest
soon passed the clearings, and entered the woods which covered the site
of the present suburb of St. John. Thence he descended to a lower
plateau, where now lies the suburb of St. Roch, and, still advancing,
reached a pleasant spot at the extremity of the Pointe-aux-Lièvres,
a tract of meadow land nearly inclosed by a sudden bend of the
St. Charles. Here lay a canoe or skiff; and, paddling across the narrow
stream, Le Jeune saw on the meadow, two hundred yards from the bank,
a square inclosure formed of palisades, like a modern picket fort of the
Indian frontier. [ 1 ] Within this inclosure were two buildings, one of
which had been half burned by the English, and was not yet repaired.
It served as storehouse, stable, workshop, and bakery. Opposite stood
the principal building, a structure of planks, plastered with mud,
and thatched with long grass from the meadows. It consisted of one story,
a garret, and a cellar, and contained four principal rooms, of which one
served as chapel, another as refectory, another as kitchen, and the
fourth as a lodging for workmen. The furniture of all was plain in the
extreme. Until the preceding year, the chapel had had no other ornament
than a sheet on which were glued two coarse engravings; but the priests
had now decorated their altar with an image of a dove representing the
Holy Ghost, an image of Loyola, another of Xavier, and three images of
the Virgin. Four cells opened from the refectory, the largest of which
was eight feet square. In these lodged six priests, while two lay
brothers found shelter in the garret. The house had been hastily built,
eight years before, and now leaked in all parts. Such was the Residence
of Notre-Dame des Anges. Here was nourished the germ of a vast
enterprise, and this was the cradle of the great mission of New France.
[ 2 ]

[ 1 This must have been very near the point where the streamlet called
the River Lairet enters the St. Charles. The place has a triple historic
interest. The wintering-place of Cartier in 1535-6 (see "Pioneers of
France") seems to have been here. Here, too, in 1759, Montcalm's bridge
of boats crossed the St. Charles; and in a large intrenchment, which
probably included the site of the Jesuit mission-house, the remnants of
his shattered army rallied, after their defeat on the Plains of
Abraham.--See the very curious Narrative of the Chevalier Johnstone,
published by the Historical Society of Quebec. ]

[ 2 The above particulars are gathered from the Relations of 1626
(Lalemant), and 1632, 1633, 1634, 1635 (Le Jeune), but chiefly from a
long letter of the Father Superior to the Provincial of the Jesuits at
Paris, containing a curiously minute report of the state of the mission.
It was sent from Quebec by the returning ships in the summer of 1634,
and will be found in Carayon, Première Mission des Jésuites au Canada,
122. The original is in the archives of the Order at Rome. ]

Of the six Jesuits gathered in the refectory for the evening meal,
one was conspicuous among the rest,--a tall, strong man, with features
that seemed carved by Nature for a soldier, but which the mental habits
of years had stamped with the visible impress of the priesthood. This
was Jean de Brébeuf, descendant of a noble family of Normandy, and one of
the ablest and most devoted zealots whose names stand on the missionary
rolls of his Order. His companions were Masse, Daniel, Davost, De Nouë,
and the Father Superior, Le Jeune. Masse was the same priest who had
been the companion of Father Biard in the abortive mission of Acadia.
[ See "Pioneers of France in the New World." ] By reason of his useful
qualities, Le Jeune nicknamed him "le Père Utile." At present, his
special function was the care of the pigs and cows, which he kept in the
inclosure around the buildings, lest they should ravage the neighboring
fields of rye, barley, wheat, and maize. [ 1 ] De Nouë had charge of the
eight or ten workmen employed by the mission, who gave him at times no
little trouble by their repinings and complaints. [ 2 ] They were forced
to hear mass every morning and prayers every evening, besides an
exhortation on Sunday. Some of them were for returning home, while two
or three, of a different complexion, wished to be Jesuits themselves.
The Fathers, in their intervals of leisure, worked with their men,
spade in hand. For the rest, they were busied in preaching, singing
vespers, saying mass and hearing confessions at the fort of Quebec,
catechizing a few Indians, and striving to master the enormous
difficulties of the Huron and Algonquin languages.

[ 1 "Le P. Masse, que je nomme quelquefois en riant le Père Utile,
est bien cognu de V. R. Il a soin des choses domestiques et du bestail
que nous avons, en quoy il a très-bien reussy."--Lettre du P. Paul le
Jeune au R. P. Provincial, in Carayon, 122.--Le Jeune does not fail to
send an inventory of the "bestail" to his Superior, namely: "Deux grosses
truies qui nourissent chacune quatre petits cochons, deux vaches, deux
petites genisses, et un petit taureau." ]

[ 2 The methodical Le Jeune sets down the causes of their discontent
under six different heads, each duly numbered. Thus:--
"1. C'est le naturel des artisans de se plaindre et de gronder."
"2. La diversité des gages les fait murmurer," etc. ]

Well might Father Le Jeune write to his Superior, "The harvest is
plentiful, and the laborers few." These men aimed at the conversion of a
continent. From their hovel on the St. Charles they surveyed a field of
labor whose vastness might tire the wings of thought itself; a scene
repellent and appalling, darkened with omens of peril and woe. They were
an advance-guard of the great army of Loyola, strong in a discipline that
controlled not alone the body and the will, but the intellect, the heart,
the soul, and the inmost consciousness. The lives of these early
Canadian Jesuits attest the earnestness of their faith and the intensity
of their zeal; but it was a zeal bridled, curbed, and ruled by a guiding
hand. Their marvellous training in equal measure kindled enthusiasm and
controlled it, roused into action a mighty power, and made it as
subservient as those great material forces which modern science has
learned to awaken and to govern. They were drilled to a factitious
humility, prone to find utterance in expressions of self-depreciation and
self-scorn, which one may often judge unwisely, when he condemns them as
insincere. They were devoted believers, not only in the fundamental
dogmas of Rome, but in those lesser matters of faith which heresy
despises as idle and puerile superstitions. One great aim engrossed
their lives. "For the greater glory of God"--ad majorem Dei gloriam--
they would act or wait, dare, suffer, or die, yet all in unquestioning
subjection to the authority of the Superiors, in whom they recognized the
agents of Divine authority itself.




It was an evil day for new-born Protestantism, when a French artilleryman
fired the shot that struck down Ignatius Loyola in the breach of
Pampeluna. A proud noble, an aspiring soldier, a graceful courtier,
an ardent and daring gallant was metamorphosed by that stroke into the
zealot whose brain engendered and brought forth the mighty Society of
Jesus. His story is a familiar one: how, in the solitude of his
sick-room, a change came over him, upheaving, like an earthquake, all the
forces of his nature; how, in the cave of Manresa, the mysteries of
Heaven were revealed to him; how he passed from agonies to transports,
from transports to the calm of a determined purpose. The soldier gave
himself to a new warfare. In the forge of his great intellect, heated,
but not disturbed by the intense fires of his zeal, was wrought the
prodigious enginery whose power has been felt to the uttermost confines
of the world.

Loyola's training had been in courts and camps: of books he knew little
or nothing. He had lived in the unquestioning faith of one born and bred
in the very focus of Romanism; and thus, at the age of about thirty,
his conversion found him. It was a change of life and purpose, not of
belief. He presumed not to inquire into the doctrines of the Church.
It was for him to enforce those doctrines; and to this end he turned all
the faculties of his potent intellect, and all his deep knowledge of
mankind. He did not aim to build up barren communities of secluded monks,
aspiring to heaven through prayer, penance, and meditation, but to subdue
the world to the dominion of the dogmas which had subdued him; to
organize and discipline a mighty host, controlled by one purpose and one
mind, fired by a quenchless zeal or nerved by a fixed resolve, yet
impelled, restrained, and directed by a single master hand. The Jesuit
is no dreamer: he is emphatically a man of action; action is the end of
his existence.

It was an arduous problem which Loyola undertook to solve,--to rob a man
of volition, yet to preserve in him, nay, to stimulate, those energies
which would make him the most efficient instrument of a great design.
To this end the Jesuit novitiate and the constitutions of the Order are
directed. The enthusiasm of the novice is urged to its intensest pitch;
then, in the name of religion, he is summoned to the utter abnegation of
intellect and will in favor of the Superior, in whom he is commanded to
recognize the representative of God on earth. Thus the young zealot
makes no slavish sacrifice of intellect and will; at least, so he is
taught: for he sacrifices them, not to man, but to his Maker. No limit
is set to his submission: if the Superior pronounces black to be white,
he is bound in conscience to acquiesce.

[ Those who wish to know the nature of the Jesuit virtue of obedience
will find it set forth in the famous Letter on Obedience of Loyola. ]

Loyola's book of Spiritual Exercises is well known. In these exercises
lies the hard and narrow path which is the only entrance to the Society
of Jesus. The book is, to all appearance, a dry and superstitious
formulary; but, in the hands of a skilful director of consciences,
it has proved of terrible efficacy. The novice, in solitude and darkness,
day after day and night after night, ponders its images of perdition and
despair. He is taught to hear, in imagination, the howlings of the
damned, to see their convulsive agonies, to feel the flames that burn
without consuming, to smell the corruption of the tomb and the fumes of
the infernal pit. He must picture to himself an array of adverse armies,
one commanded by Satan on the plains of Babylon, one encamped under
Christ about the walls of Jerusalem; and the perturbed mind, humbled by
long contemplation of its own vileness, is ordered to enroll itself under
one or the other banner. Then, the choice made, it is led to a region of
serenity and celestial peace, and soothed with images of divine benignity
and grace. These meditations last, without intermission, about a month,
and, under an astute and experienced directorship, they have been found
of such power, that the Manual of Spiritual Exercises boasts to have
saved souls more in number than the letters it contains.

To this succeed two years of discipline and preparation, directed,
above all things else, to perfecting the virtues of humility and
obedience. The novice is obliged to perform the lowest menial offices,
and the most repulsive duties of the sick-room and the hospital; and he
is sent forth, for weeks together, to beg his bread like a common
mendicant. He is required to reveal to his confessor, not only his sins,
but all those hidden tendencies, instincts, and impulses which form the
distinctive traits of character. He is set to watch his comrades,
and his comrades are set to watch him. Each must report what he observes
of the acts and dispositions of the others; and this mutual espionage
does not end with the novitiate, but extends to the close of life.
The characteristics of every member of the Order are minutely analyzed,
and methodically put on record.

This horrible violence to the noblest qualities of manhood, joined to
that equivocal system of morality which eminent casuists of the Order
have inculcated, must, it may be thought, produce deplorable effects upon
the characters of those under its influence. Whether this has been
actually the case, the reader of history may determine. It is certain,
however, that the Society of Jesus has numbered among its members men
whose fervent and exalted natures have been intensified, without being
abased, by the pressure to which they have been subjected.

It is not for nothing that the Society studies the character of its
members so intently, and by methods so startling. It not only uses its
knowledge to thrust into obscurity or cast out altogether those whom it
discovers to be dull, feeble, or unwilling instruments of its purposes,
but it assigns to every one the task to which his talents or his
disposition may best adapt him: to one, the care of a royal conscience,
whereby, unseen, his whispered word may guide the destiny of nations; to
another, the instruction of children; to another, a career of letters or
science; and to the fervent and the self-sacrificing, sometimes also to
the restless and uncompliant, the distant missions to the heathen.

The Jesuit was, and is, everywhere,--in the school-room, in the library,
in the cabinets of princes and ministers, in the huts of savages, in the
tropics, in the frozen North, in India, in China, in Japan, in Africa,
in America; now as a Christian priest, now as a soldier, a mathematician,
an astrologer, a Brahmin, a mandarin, under countless disguises, by a
thousand arts, luring, persuading, or compelling souls into the fold of

Of this vast mechanism for guiding and governing the minds of men,
this mighty enginery for subduing the earth to the dominion of an idea,
this harmony of contradictions, this moral Proteus, the faintest sketch
must now suffice. A disquisition on the Society of Jesus would be
without end. No religious order has ever united in itself so much to be
admired and so much to be detested. Unmixed praise has been poured on
its Canadian members. It is not for me to eulogize them, but to portray
them as they were.


1632, 1633.



In another narrative, we have seen how the Jesuits, supplanting the
Récollet friars, their predecessors, had adopted as their own the rugged
task of Christianizing New France. We have seen, too, how a descent of
the English, or rather of Huguenots fighting under English colors,
had overthrown for a time the miserable little colony, with the mission
to which it was wedded; and how Quebec was at length restored to France,
and the broken thread of the Jesuit enterprise resumed. [ "Pioneers of
France." ]

It was then that Le Jeune had embarked for the New World. He was in his
convent at Dieppe when he received the order to depart; and he set forth
in haste for Havre, filled, he assures us, with inexpressible joy at the
prospect of a living or a dying martyrdom. At Rouen he was joined by De
Nouë, with a lay brother named Gilbert; and the three sailed together on
the eighteenth of April, 1632. The sea treated them roughly; Le Jeune
was wretchedly sea-sick; and the ship nearly foundered in a gale.
At length they came in sight of "that miserable country," as the
missionary calls the scene of his future labors. It was in the harbor of
Tadoussac that he first encountered the objects of his apostolic cares;
for, as he sat in the ship's cabin with the master, it was suddenly
invaded by ten or twelve Indians, whom he compares to a party of maskers
at the Carnival. Some had their cheeks painted black, their noses blue,
and the rest of their faces red. Others were decorated with a broad band
of black across the eyes; and others, again, with diverging rays of black,
red, and blue on both cheeks. Their attire was no less uncouth. Some of
them wore shaggy bear skins, reminding the priest of the pictures of
St. John the Baptist.

After a vain attempt to save a number of Iroquois prisoners whom they
were preparing to burn alive on shore, Le Jeune and his companions again
set sail, and reached Quebec on the fifth of July. Having said mass,
as already mentioned, under the roof of Madame Hébert and her delighted
family, the Jesuits made their way to the two hovels built by their
predecessors on the St. Charles, which had suffered woful dilapidation at
the hands of the English. Here they made their abode, and applied
themselves, with such skill as they could command, to repair the
shattered tenements and cultivate the waste meadows around.

The beginning of Le Jeune's missionary labors was neither imposing nor
promising. He describes himself seated with a small Indian boy on one
side and a small negro on the other, the latter of whom had been left by
the English as a gift to Madame Hébert. As neither of the three
understood the language of the others, the pupils made little progress in
spiritual knowledge. The missionaries, it was clear, must learn
Algonquin at any cost; and, to this end, Le Jeune resolved to visit the
Indian encampments. Hearing that a band of Montagnais were fishing for
eels on the St. Lawrence, between Cape Diamond and the cove which now
bears the name of Wolfe, he set forth for the spot on a morning in
October. As, with toil and trepidation, he scrambled around the foot of
the cape,--whose precipices, with a chaos of loose rocks, thrust
themselves at that day into the deep tidewater,--he dragged down upon
himself the trunk of a fallen tree, which, in its descent, well nigh
swept him into the river. The peril past, he presently reached his
destination. Here, among the lodges of bark, were stretched innumerable
strings of hide, from which hung to dry an incredible multitude of eels.
A boy invited him into the lodge of a withered squaw, his grandmother,
who hastened to offer him four smoked eels on a piece of birch bark,
while other squaws of the household instructed him how to roast them on a
forked stick over the embers. All shared the feast together, his
entertainers using as napkins their own hair or that of their dogs; while
Le Jeune, intent on increasing his knowledge of Algonquin, maintained an
active discourse of broken words and pantomime. [ Le Jeune, Relation,
1633, 2. ]

The lesson, however, was too laborious, and of too little profit, to be
often repeated, and the missionary sought anxiously for more stable
instruction. To find such was not easy. The interpreters--Frenchmen,
who, in the interest of the fur company, had spent years among the
Indians--were averse to Jesuits, and refused their aid. There was one
resource, however, of which Le Jeune would fain avail himself. An Indian,
called Pierre by the French, had been carried to France by the Récollet
friars, instructed, converted, and baptized. He had lately returned to
Canada, where, to the scandal of the Jesuits, he had relapsed into his
old ways, retaining of his French education little besides a few new
vices. He still haunted the fort at Quebec, lured by the hope of an
occasional gift of wine or tobacco, but shunned the Jesuits, of whose
rigid way of life he stood in horror. As he spoke good French and good
Indian, he would have been invaluable to the embarrassed priests at the
mission. Le Jeune invoked the aid of the Saints. The effect of his
prayers soon appeared, he tells us, in a direct interposition of
Providence, which so disposed the heart of Pierre that he quarrelled with
the French commandant, who thereupon closed the fort against him.
He then repaired to his friends and relatives in the woods, but only to
encounter a rebuff from a young squaw to whom he made his addresses.
On this, he turned his steps towards the mission-house, and, being
unfitted by his French education for supporting himself by hunting,
begged food and shelter from the priests. Le Jeune gratefully accepted
him as a gift vouchsafed by Heaven to his prayers, persuaded a lackey at
the fort to give him a cast-off suit of clothes, promised him maintenance,
and installed him as his teacher.

Seated on wooden stools by the rough table in the refectory, the priest
and the Indian pursued their studies. "How thankful I am," writes Le
Jeune, "to those who gave me tobacco last year! At every difficulty I
give my master a piece of it, to make him more attentive."

[ Relation, 1633, 7. He continues: "Ie ne sçaurois assez rendre graces à
Nostre Seigneur de cet heureux rencontre. . . . Que Dieu soit beny pour
vn iamais, sa prouidence est adorable, et sa bonté n'a point de limites." ]

Meanwhile, winter closed in with a severity rare even in Canada. The
St. Lawrence and the St. Charles were hard frozen; rivers, forests,
and rocks were mantled alike in dazzling sheets of snow. The humble
mission-house of Notre-Dame des Anges was half buried in the drifts,
which, heaped up in front where a path had been dug through them, rose
two feet above the low eaves. The priests, sitting at night before the
blazing logs of their wide-throated chimney, heard the trees in the
neighboring forest cracking with frost, with a sound like the report of a
pistol. Le Jeune's ink froze, and his fingers were benumbed, as he
toiled at his declensions and conjugations, or translated the Pater
Noster into blundering Algonquin. The water in the cask beside the fire
froze nightly, and the ice was broken every morning with hatchets.
The blankets of the two priests were fringed with the icicles of their
congealed breath, and the frost lay in a thick coating on the lozenge-
shaped glass of their cells. [ Le Jeune, Relation, 1633, 14, 15. ]

By day, Le Jeune and his companion practised with snow-shoes, with all
the mishaps which attend beginners,--the trippings, the falls, and
headlong dives into the soft drifts, amid the laughter of the Indians.
Their seclusion was by no means a solitude. Bands of Montagnais, with
their sledges and dogs, often passed the mission-house on their way to
hunt the moose. They once invited De Nouë to go with them; and he,
scarcely less eager than Le Jeune to learn their language, readily
consented. In two or three weeks he appeared, sick, famished, and half
dead with exhaustion. "Not ten priests in a hundred," writes Le Jeune to
his Superior, "could bear this winter life with the savages." But what
of that? It was not for them to falter. They were but instruments in
the hands of God, to be used, broken, and thrown aside, if such should be
His will.

[ "Voila, mon Reuerend Pere, vn eschantillon de ce qu'il faut souffrir
courant apres les Sauuages. . . . Il faut prendre sa vie, et tout ce
qu'on a, et le ietter à l'abandon, pour ainsi dire, se contentant d'vne
croix bien grosse et bien pesante pour toute richesse. Il est bien vray
que Dieu ne se laisse point vaincre, et que plus on quitte, plus on
trouue: plus on perd, plus on gaigne: mais Dieu se cache par fois,
et alors le Calice est bien amer."--Le Jeune, Relation 1633, 19. ]

An Indian made Le Jeune a present of two small children, greatly to the
delight of the missionary, who at once set himself to teaching them to
pray in Latin. As the season grew milder, the number of his scholars
increased; for, when parties of Indians encamped in the neighborhood,
he would take his stand at the door, and, like Xavier at Goa, ring a
bell. At this, a score of children would gather around him; and he,
leading them into the refectory, which served as his school-room, taught
them to repeat after him the Pater, Aye, and Credo, expounded the mystery
of the Trinity, showed them the sign of the cross, and made them repeat
an Indian prayer, the joint composition of Pierre and himself; then
followed the catechism, the lesson closing with singing the Pater Noster,
translated by the missionary into Algonquin rhymes; and when all was over,
he rewarded each of his pupils with a porringer of peas, to insure their
attendance at his next bell-ringing.

[ "I'ay commencé à appeller quelques enfans auec vne petite clochette.
La premiere fois i'en auois six, puis douze, puis quinze, puis vingt et
davantage; ie leur fais dire le Pater, Aue, et Credo, etc. . . . .
Nous finissons par le Pater Noster, que i'ay composé quasi en rimes en
leur langue, que ie leur fais chanter: et pour derniere conclusion,
ie leur fais donner chacun vne escuellée de pois, qu'ils mangent de bon
appetit," etc.--Le Jeune, Relation, 1633, 23. ]

It was the end of May, when the priests one morning heard the sound of
cannon from the fort, and were gladdened by the tidings that Samuel de
Champlain had arrived to resume command at Quebec, bringing with him four
more Jesuits,--Brébeuf, Masse, Daniel, and Davost. [ See "Pioneers of
France." ] Brébeuf, from the first, turned his eyes towards the distant
land of the Hurons,--a field of labor full of peril, but rich in hope and
promise. Le Jeune's duties as Superior restrained him from wanderings so
remote. His apostleship must be limited, for a time, to the vagabond
hordes of Algonquins, who roamed the forests of the lower St. Lawrence,
and of whose language he had been so sedulous a student. His
difficulties had of late been increased by the absence of Pierre, who had
run off as Lent drew near, standing in dread of that season of fasting.
Masse brought tidings of him from Tadoussac, whither he had gone, and
where a party of English had given him liquor, destroying the last trace
of Le Jeune's late exhortations. "God forgive those," writes the Father,
"who introduced heresy into this country! If this savage, corrupted as
he is by these miserable heretics, had any wit, he would be a great
hindrance to the spread of the Faith. It is plain that he was given us,
not for the good of his soul, but only that we might extract from him the
principles of his language." [ Relation, 1633, 29. ]

Pierre had two brothers. One, well known as a hunter, was named
Mestigoit; the other was the most noted "medicine-man," or, as the
Jesuits called him, sorcerer, in the tribe of the Montagnais. Like the
rest of their people, they were accustomed to set out for their winter
hunt in the autumn, after the close of their eel-fishery. Le Jeune,
despite the experience of De Nouë, had long had a mind to accompany one
of these roving bands, partly in the hope, that, in some hour of distress,
he might touch their hearts, or, by a timely drop of baptismal water,
dismiss some dying child to paradise, but chiefly with the object of
mastering their language. Pierre had rejoined his brothers; and, as the
hunting season drew near, they all begged the missionary to make one of
their party,--not, as he thought, out of any love for him, but solely
with a view to the provisions with which they doubted not he would be
well supplied. Le Jeune, distrustful of the sorcerer, demurred, but at
length resolved to go.


1633, 1634.



On a morning in the latter part of October, Le Jeune embarked with the
Indians, twenty in all, men, women, and children. No other Frenchman was
of the party. Champlain bade him an anxious farewell, and commended him
to the care of his red associates, who had taken charge of his store of
biscuit, flour, corn, prunes, and turnips, to which, in an evil hour,
his friends had persuaded him to add a small keg of wine. The canoes
glided along the wooded shore of the Island of Orleans, and the party
landed, towards evening, on the small island immediately below. Le Jeune
was delighted with the spot, and the wild beauties of the autumnal sunset.

His reflections, however, were soon interrupted. While the squaws were
setting up their bark lodges, and Mestigoit was shooting wild-fowl for
supper, Pierre returned to the canoes, tapped the keg of wine, and soon
fell into the mud, helplessly drunk. Revived by the immersion, he next
appeared at the camp, foaming at the mouth, threw down the lodges,
overset the kettle, and chased the shrieking squaws into the woods.
His brother Mestigoit rekindled the fire, and slung the kettle anew; when
Pierre, who meanwhile had been raving like a madman along the shore,
reeled in a fury to the spot to repeat his former exploit. Mestigoit
anticipated him, snatched the kettle from the fire, and threw the
scalding contents in his face. "He was never so well washed before in
his life," says Le Jeune; "he lost all the skin of his face and breast.
Would to God his heart had changed also!" [ 1 ] He roared in his frenzy
for a hatchet to kill the missionary, who therefore thought it prudent to
spend the night in the neighboring woods. Here he stretched himself on
the earth, while a charitable squaw covered him with a sheet of
birch-bark. "Though my bed," he writes, "had not been made up since the
creation of the world, it was not hard enough to prevent me from

[ "Iamais il ne fut si bien laué, il changea de peau en la face et en
tout l'estomach: pleust à Dieu que son ame eust changé aussi bien que son
corps!"--Relation, 1634, 59. ]

Such was his initiation into Indian winter life. Passing over numerous
adventures by water and land, we find the party, on the twelfth of
November, leaving their canoes on an island, and wading ashore at low
tide over the flats to the southern bank of the St. Lawrence. As two
other bands had joined them, their number was increased to forty-five
persons. Now, leaving the river behind, they entered those savage
highlands whence issue the springs of the St. John,--a wilderness of
rugged mountain-ranges, clad in dense, continuous forests, with no human
tenant but this troop of miserable rovers, and here and there some
kindred band, as miserable as they. Winter had set in, and already dead
Nature was sheeted in funereal white. Lakes and ponds were frozen,
rivulets sealed up, torrents encased with stalactites of ice; the black
rocks and the black trunks of the pine-trees were beplastered with snow,
and its heavy masses crushed the dull green boughs into the drifts
beneath. The forest was silent as the grave.

Through this desolation the long file of Indians made its way, all on
snow-shoes, each man, woman, and child bending under a heavy load,
or dragging a sledge, narrow, but of prodigious length. They carried
their whole wealth with them, on their backs or on their sledges,--
kettles, axes, hides of meat, if such they had, and huge rolls of
birch-bark for covering their wigwams. The Jesuit was loaded like the
rest. The dogs alone floundered through the drifts unburdened. There
was neither path nor level ground. Descending, climbing, stooping
beneath half-fallen trees, clambering over piles of prostrate trunks,
struggling through matted cedar-swamps, threading chill ravines, and
crossing streams no longer visible, they toiled on till the day began to
decline, then stopped to encamp. [ 1 ] Burdens were thrown down, and
sledges unladen. The squaws, with knives and hatchets, cut long poles of
birch and spruce saplings; while the men, with snow-shoes for shovels,
cleared a round or square space in the snow, which formed an upright wall
three or four feet high, inclosing the area of the wigwam. On one side,
a passage was cut for an entrance, and the poles were planted around the
top of the wall of snow, sloping and converging. On these poles were
spread the sheets of birch-bark; a bear-skin was hung in the passage-way
for a door; the bare ground within and the surrounding snow were covered
with spruce boughs; and the work was done.

[ 1 "S'il arriuoit quelque dégel, ô Dieu quelle peine! Il me sembloit
que ie marchois sur vn chemin de verre qui se cassoit à tous coups soubs
mes pieds: la neige congelée venant à s'amollir, tomboit et s'enfonçoit
par esquarres ou grandes pieces, et nous en auions bien souuent iusques
aux genoux, quelquefois iusqu'à la ceinture. Que s'il y auoit de la
peine à tomber, il y en auoit encor plus à se retirer: car nos raquettes
se chargeoient de neiges et se rendoient si pesantes, que quand vous
veniez à les retirer il vous sembloit qu'on vous tiroit les iambes pour
vous démembrer. I'en ay veu qui glissoient tellement soubs des souches
enseuelies soubs la neige, qu'ils ne pouuoient tirer ny iambes ny
raquettes sans secours: or figurez vous maintenant vne personne chargée
comme vn mulet, et iugez si la vie des Sauuages est douce."--Relation,
1634, 67. ]

This usually occupied about three hours, during which Le Jeune, spent
with travel, and weakened by precarious and unaccustomed fare, had the
choice of shivering in idleness, or taking part in a labor which fatigued,
without warming, his exhausted frame. The sorcerer's wife was in far
worse case. Though in the extremity of a mortal sickness, they left her
lying in the snow till the wigwam was made,--without a word, on her part,
of remonstrance or complaint. Le Jeune, to the great ire of her husband,
sometimes spent the interval in trying to convert her; but she proved
intractable, and soon died unbaptized.

Thus lodged, they remained so long as game could be found within a
circuit of ten or twelve miles, and then, subsistence failing, removed to
another spot. Early in the winter, they hunted the beaver and the Canada
porcupine; and, later, in the season of deep snows, chased the moose and
the caribou.

Put aside the bear-skin, and enter the hut. Here, in a space some
thirteen feet square, were packed nineteen savages, men, women, and
children, with their dogs, crouched, squatted, coiled like hedgehogs,
or lying on their backs, with knees drawn up perpendicularly to keep
their feet out of the fire. Le Jeune, always methodical, arranges the
grievances inseparable from these rough quarters under four chief
heads,--Cold, Heat, Smoke, and Dogs. The bark covering was full of
crevices, through which the icy blasts streamed in upon him from all
sides; and the hole above, at once window and chimney, was so large, that,
as he lay, he could watch the stars as well as in the open air. While
the fire in the midst, fed with fat pine-knots, scorched him on one side,
on the other he had much ado to keep himself from freezing. At times,
however, the crowded hut seemed heated to the temperature of an oven.
But these evils were light, when compared to the intolerable plague of
smoke. During a snow-storm, and often at other times, the wigwam was
filled with fumes so dense, stifling, and acrid, that all its inmates
were forced to lie flat on their faces, breathing through mouths in
contact with the cold earth. Their throats and nostrils felt as if on
fire; their scorched eyes streamed with tears; and when Le Jeune tried to
read, the letters of his breviary seemed printed in blood. The dogs were
not an unmixed evil, for, by sleeping on and around him, they kept him
warm at night; but, as an offset to this good service, they walked, ran,
and jumped over him as he lay, snatched the food from his birchen dish,
or, in a mad rush at some bone or discarded morsel, now and then overset
both dish and missionary.

Sometimes of an evening he would leave the filthy den, to read his
breviary in peace by the light of the moon. In the forest around sounded
the sharp crack of frost-riven trees; and from the horizon to the zenith
shot up the silent meteors of the northern lights, in whose fitful
flashings the awe-struck Indians beheld the dancing of the spirits of the
dead. The cold gnawed him to the bone; and, his devotions over, he
turned back shivering. The illumined hut, from many a chink and crevice,
shot forth into the gloom long streams of light athwart the twisted
boughs. He stooped and entered. All within glowed red and fiery around
the blazing pine-knots where, like brutes in their kennel, were gathered
the savage crew. He stepped to his place, over recumbent bodies and
leggined and moccasined limbs, and seated himself on the carpet of spruce
boughs. Here a tribulation awaited him, the crowning misery of his
winter-quarters,--worse, as he declares, than cold, heat, and dogs.

Of the three brothers who had invited him to join the party, one, we have
seen, was the hunter, Mestigoit; another, the sorcerer; and the third,
Pierre, whom, by reason of his falling away from the Faith, Le Jeune
always mentions as the Apostate. He was a weak-minded young Indian,
wholly under the influence of his brother, the sorcerer, who, if not more
vicious, was far more resolute and wily. From the antagonism of their
respective professions, the sorcerer hated the priest, who lost no
opportunity of denouncing his incantations, and who ridiculed his
perpetual singing and drumming as puerility and folly. The former,
being an indifferent hunter, and disabled by a disease which he had
contracted, depended for subsistence on his credit as a magician; and,
in undermining it, Le Jeune not only outraged his pride, but threatened
his daily bread. [ 1 ] He used every device to retort ridicule on his
rival. At the outset, he had proffered his aid to Le Jeune in his study
of the Algonquin; and, like the Indian practical jokers of Acadia in the
case of Father Biard, [ See "Pioneers of France," 268. ] palmed off upon
him the foulest words in the language as the equivalent of things
spiritual. Thus it happened, that, while the missionary sought to
explain to the assembled wigwam some point of Christian doctrine, he was
interrupted by peals of laughter from men, children, and squaws. And now,
as Le Jeune took his place in the circle, the sorcerer bent upon him his
malignant eyes, and began that course of rude bantering which filled to
overflowing the cup of the Jesuit's woes. All took their cue from him,
and made their afflicted guest the butt of their inane witticisms.
"Look at him! His face is like a dog's!"--"His head is like a pumpkin!"--
"He has a beard like a rabbit's!" The missionary bore in silence these
and countless similar attacks; indeed, so sorely was he harassed, that,
lest he should exasperate his tormentor, he sometimes passed whole days
without uttering a word. [ 2 ]

[ 1 "Ie ne laissois perdre aucune occasion de le conuaincre de niaiserie
et de puerilité, mettant au iour l'impertinence de ses superstitions: or
c'estoit luy arracher l'ame du corps par violence: car comme il ne
sçauroit plus chasser, il fait plus que iamais du Prophete et du Magicien
pour conseruer son credit, et pour auoir les bons morceaux; si bien
qu'esbranlant son authorité qui se va perdant tous les iours, ie le
touchois à la prunelle de l'œil."--Relation, 1634, 56. ]

[ 2 Relation, 1634, 207 (Cramoisy). "Ils me chargeoient incessament de
mille brocards & de mille injures; je me suis veu en tel estat, que pour
ne les aigrir, je passois les jours entiers sans ouvrir la bouche."
Here follows the abuse, in the original Indian, with French translations.
Le Jeune's account of his experiences is singularly graphic. The
following is his summary of his annoyances:--

"Or ce miserable homme" (the sorcerer), "& la fumée m'ont esté les deux
plus grands tourmens que i'aye enduré parmy ces Barbares: ny le froid,
ny le chaud, ny l'incommodité des chiens, ny coucher à l'air, ny dormir
sur un lict de terre, ny la posture qu'il faut tousiours tenir dans leurs
cabanes, se ramassans en peloton, ou se couchans, ou s'asseans sans siege
& sans mattelas, ny la faim, ny la soif, ny la pauureté & saleté de leur
boucan, ny la maladie, tout cela ne m'a semblé que ieu à comparaison de
la fumée & de la malice du Sorcier."--Relation, 1634, 201 (Cramoisy). ]

Le Jeune, a man of excellent observation, already knew his red associates
well enough to understand that their rudeness did not of necessity imply
ill-will. The rest of the party, in their turn fared no better. They
rallied and bantered each other incessantly, with as little forbearance,
and as little malice, as a troop of unbridled schoolboys. [ 1 ] No one
took offence. To have done so would have been to bring upon one's self
genuine contumely. This motley household was a model of harmony.
True, they showed no tenderness or consideration towards the sick and
disabled; but for the rest, each shared with all in weal or woe: the
famine of one was the famine of the whole, and the smallest portion of
food was distributed in fair and equal partition. Upbraidings and
complaints were unheard; they bore each other's foibles with wondrous
equanimity; and while persecuting Le Jeune with constant importunity for
tobacco, and for everything else he had, they never begged among

[ 1 "Leur vie se passe à manger, à ire, et à railler les vns des autres,
et de tous les peuples qu'ils cognoissent; ils n'ont rien de serieux,
sinon par fois l'exterieur, faisans parmy nous les graues et les retenus,
mais entr'eux sont de vrais badins, de vrais enfans, qui ne demandent
qu'à rire."--Relation, 1634, 30. ]

When the fire burned well and food was abundant, their conversation,
such as it was, was incessant. They used no oaths, for their language
supplied none,--doubtless because their mythology had no beings
sufficiently distinct to swear by. Their expletives were foul words,
of which they had a superabundance, and which men, women, and children
alike used with a frequency and hardihood that amazed and scandalized the
priest. [ 1 ] Nor was he better pleased with their postures, in which
they consulted nothing but their ease. Thus, of an evening when the
wigwam was heated to suffocation, the sorcerer, in the closest possible
approach to nudity, lay on his back, with his right knee planted upright
and his left leg crossed on it, discoursing volubly to the company, who,
on their part, listened in postures scarcely less remote from decency.

[ 1 "Aussi leur disois-je par fois, que si les pourceaux et les chiens
sçauoient parler, ils tiendroient leur langage. . . . Les filles et les
ieunes femmes sont à l'exterieur tres honnestement couuertes, mais entre
elles leurs discours sont puants, comme des cloaques."--Relation, 1634,
32.--The social manners of remote tribes of the present time correspond
perfectly with Le Jeune's account of those of the Montagnais. ]

There was one point touching which Le Jeune and his Jesuit brethren had
as yet been unable to solve their doubts. Were the Indian sorcerers mere
impostors, or were they in actual league with the Devil? That the fiends
who possess this land of darkness make their power felt by action direct
and potential upon the persons of its wretched inhabitants there is,
argues Le Jeune, good reason to conclude; since it is a matter of grave
notoriety, that the fiends who infest Brazil are accustomed cruelly to
beat and otherwise torment the natives of that country, as many
travellers attest. "A Frenchman worthy of credit," pursues the Father,
"has told me that he has heard with his own ears the voice of the Demon
and the sound of the blows which he discharges upon these his miserable
slaves; and in reference to this a very remarkable fact has been reported
to me, namely, that, when a Catholic approaches, the Devil takes flight
and beats these wretches no longer, but that in presence of a Huguenot he
does not stop beating them."

[ "Surquoy on me rapporte vne chose tres remarquable, c'est que le Diable
s'enfuit, et ne frappe point ou cesse de frapper ces miserables, quand vn
Catholique entre en leur compagnie, et qu'il ne laisse point de les battre
en la presence d'vn Huguenot: d'où vient qu'vn iour se voyans battus en
la compagnie d'vn certain François, ils luy dirent: Nous nous estonnons
qua le diable nous batte, toy estant auec nous, veu qu'il n'oseroit le
faire quand tes compagnons sont presents. Luy se douta incontinent que
cela pouuoit prouenir de sa religion (car il estoit Caluiniste);
s'addressant donc à Dieu, il luy promit de se faire Catholique si le
diable cessoit de battre ces pauures peuples en sa presence. Le vœu fait,
iamais plus aucun Demon ne molesta Ameriquain en sa compagnie, d'où vient
qu'il se fit Catholique, selon la promesse qu'il en auoit faicte.
Mais retournons à nostre discours."--Relation, 1634, 22. ]

Thus prone to believe in the immediate presence of the nether powers,
Le Jeune watched the sorcerer with an eye prepared to discover in his
conjurations the signs of a genuine diabolic agency. His observations,
however, led him to a different result; and he could detect in his rival
nothing but a vile compound of impostor and dupe. The sorcerer believed
in the efficacy of his own magic, and was continually singing and beating
his drum to cure the disease from which he was suffering. Towards the
close of the winter, Le Jeune fell sick, and, in his pain and weakness,
nearly succumbed under the nocturnal uproar of the sorcerer, who, hour
after hour, sang and drummed without mercy,--sometimes yelling at the top
of his throat, then hissing like a serpent, then striking his drum on the
ground as if in a frenzy, then leaping up, raving about the wigwam,
and calling on the women and children to join him in singing. Now ensued
a hideous din; for every throat was strained to the utmost, and all were
beating with sticks or fists on the bark of the hut to increase the noise,
with the charitable object of aiding the sorcerer to conjure down his
malady, or drive away the evil spirit that caused it.

He had an enemy, a rival sorcerer, whom he charged with having caused by
charms the disease that afflicted him. He therefore announced that he
should kill him. As the rival dwelt at Gaspé, a hundred leagues off,
the present execution of the threat might appear difficult; but distance
was no bar to the vengeance of the sorcerer. Ordering all the children
and all but one of the women to leave the wigwam, he seated himself,
with the woman who remained, on the ground in the centre, while the men
of the party, together with those from other wigwams in the neighborhood,
sat in a ring around. Mestigoit, the sorcerer's brother, then brought in
the charm, consisting of a few small pieces of wood, some arrow-heads,
a broken knife, and an iron hook, which he wrapped in a piece of hide.
The woman next rose, and walked around the hut, behind the company.
Mestigoit and the sorcerer now dug a large hole with two pointed stakes,
the whole assembly singing, drumming, and howling meanwhile with a
deafening uproar. The hole made, the charm, wrapped in the hide, was
thrown into it. Pierre, the Apostate, then brought a sword and a knife
to the sorcerer, who, seizing them, leaped into the hole, and, with
furious gesticulation, hacked and stabbed at the charm, yelling with the
whole force of his lungs. At length he ceased, displayed the knife and
sword stained with blood, proclaimed that he had mortally wounded his
enemy, and demanded if none present had heard his death-cry. The
assembly, more occupied in making noises than in listening for them,
gave no reply, till at length two young men declared that they had heard
a faint scream, as if from a great distance; whereat a shout of
gratulation and triumph rose from all the company.

[ "Le magicien tout glorieux dit que son homme est frappé, qu'il mourra
bien tost, demande si on n'a point entendu ses cris: tout le monde dit
que non, horsmis deux ieunes hommes ses parens, qui disent auoir ouy des
plaintes fort sourdes, et comme de loing. O qu'ils le firent aise!
Se tournant vers moy, il se mit à rire, disant: Voyez cette robe noire,
qui nous vient dire qu'il ne faut tuer personne. Comme ie regardois
attentiuement l'espée et le poignard, il me les fit presenter: Regarde,
dit-il, qu'est cela? C'est du sang, repartis-ie. De qui? De quelque
Orignac ou d'autre animal. Ils se mocquerent de moy, disants que
c'estoit du sang de ce Sorcier de Gaspé. Comment, dis-je, il est à plus
de cent lieuës d'icy? Il est vray, font-ils, mais c'est le Manitou,
c'est à dire le Diable, qui apporte son sang pardessous la terre."--
Relation, 1634, 21. ]

There was a young prophet, or diviner, in one of the neighboring huts,
of whom the sorcerer took counsel as to the prospect of his restoration
to health. The divining-lodge was formed, in this instance, of five or
six upright posts planted in a circle and covered with a blanket.
The prophet ensconced himself within; and after a long interval of
singing, the spirits declared their presence by their usual squeaking
utterances from the recesses of the mystic tabernacle. Their responses
were not unfavorable; and the sorcerer drew much consolation from the
invocations of his brother impostor. [ See Introduction. Also,
"Pioneers of France," 315. ]

Besides his incessant endeavors to annoy Le Jeune, the sorcerer now and
then tried to frighten him. On one occasion, when a period of starvation
had been followed by a successful hunt, the whole party assembled for one
of the gluttonous feasts usual with them at such times. While the guests
sat expectant, and the squaws were about to ladle out the banquet,
the sorcerer suddenly leaped up, exclaiming, that he had lost his senses,
and that knives and hatchets must be kept out of his way, as he had a
mind to kill somebody. Then, rolling his eyes towards Le Jeune, he began
a series of frantic gestures and outcries,--then stopped abruptly and
stared into vacancy, silent and motionless,--then resumed his former
clamor, raged in and out of the hut, and, seizing some of its supporting
poles, broke them, as if in an uncontrollable frenzy. The missionary,
though alarmed, sat reading his breviary as before. When, however,
on the next morning, the sorcerer began again to play the maniac, the
thought occurred to him, that some stroke of fever might in truth have
touched his brain. Accordingly, he approached him and felt his pulse,
which he found, in his own words, "as cool as a fish." The pretended
madman looked at him with astonishment, and, giving over the attempt to
frighten him, presently returned to his senses.

[ The Indians, it is well known, ascribe mysterious and supernatural
powers to the insane, and respect them accordingly. The Neutral Nation
(see Introduction, "The Huron-Iroquois Family" (p. xliv)) was full of
pretended madmen, who raved about the villages, throwing firebrands,
and making other displays of frenzy. ]

Le Jeune, robbed of his sleep by the ceaseless thumping of the sorcerer's
drum and the monotonous cadence of his medicine-songs, improved the time
in attempts to convert him. "I began," he says, "by evincing a great
love for him, and by praises, which I threw to him as a bait whereby I
might catch him in the net of truth." [ 1 ] But the Indian, though
pleased with the Father's flatteries, was neither caught nor conciliated.

[ "Ie commençay par vn témoignage de grand amour en son endroit, et par
des loüanges que ie luy iettay comme vne amorce pour le prendre dans les
filets de la verité. Ie luy fis entendre que si vn esprit, capable des
choses grandes comme le sien, cognoissoit Dieu, que tous les Sauuages
induis par son exemple le voudroient aussi cognoistre."--Relation, 1634,
71. ]

Nowhere was his magic in more requisition than in procuring a successful
chase to the hunters,--a point of vital interest, since on it hung the
lives of the whole party. They often, however, returned empty-handed;
and, for one, two, or three successive days, no other food could be had
than the bark of trees or scraps of leather. So long as tobacco lasted,
they found solace in their pipes, which seldom left their lips. "Unhappy
infidels," writes Le Jeune, "who spend their lives in smoke, and their
eternity in flames!"

As Christmas approached, their condition grew desperate. Beavers and
porcupines were scarce, and the snow was not deep enough for hunting the
moose. Night and day the medicine-drums and medicine-songs resounded
from the wigwams, mingled with the wail of starving children. The
hunters grew weak and emaciated; and, as after a forlorn march the
wanderers encamped once more in the lifeless forest, the priest
remembered that it was the eve of Christmas. "The Lord gave us for our
supper a porcupine, large as a sucking pig, and also a rabbit. It was
not much, it is true, for eighteen or nineteen persons; but the Holy
Virgin and St. Joseph, her glorious spouse, were not so well treated,
on this very day, in the stable of Bethlehem."

[ "Pour nostre souper, N. S. nous donna vn Porc-espic gros comme vn
cochon de lait, et vn liéure; c'estoit peu pour dix-huit ou vingt
personnes que nous estions, il est vray, mais la saincte Vierge et son
glorieux Espoux sainct Ioseph ne furent pas si bien traictez à mesme iour
dans l'estable de Bethleem."--Relation, 1634, 74. ]

On Christmas Day, the despairing hunters, again unsuccessful, came to
pray succor from Le Jeune. Even the Apostate had become tractable,
and the famished sorcerer was ready to try the efficacy of an appeal to
the deity of his rival. A bright hope possessed the missionary. He
composed two prayers, which, with the aid of the repentant Pierre,
he translated into Algonquin. Then he hung against the side of the hut a
napkin which he had brought with him, and against the napkin a crucifix
and a reliquary, and, this done, caused all the Indians to kneel before
them, with hands raised and clasped. He now read one of the prayers,
and required the Indians to repeat the other after him, promising to
renounce their superstitions, and obey Christ, whose image they saw
before them, if he would give them food and save them from perishing.
The pledge given, he dismissed the hunters with a benediction. At night
they returned with game enough to relieve the immediate necessity.
All was hilarity. The kettles were slung, and the feasters assembled.
Le Jeune rose to speak, when Pierre, who, having killed nothing, was in
ill humor, said, with a laugh, that the crucifix and the prayer had
nothing to do with their good luck; while the sorcerer, his jealousy
reviving as he saw his hunger about to be appeased, called out to the
missionary, "Hold your tongue! You have no sense!" As usual, all took
their cue from him. They fell to their repast with ravenous jubilation,
and the disappointed priest sat dejected and silent.

Repeatedly, before the spring, they were thus threatened with starvation.
Nor was their case exceptional. It was the ordinary winter life of all
those Northern tribes who did not till the soil, but lived by hunting and
fishing alone. The desertion or the killing of the aged, sick, and
disabled, occasional cannibalism, and frequent death from famine, were
natural incidents of an existence which, during half the year, was but a
desperate pursuit of the mere necessaries of life under the worst
conditions of hardship, suffering, and debasement.

At the beginning of April, after roaming for five months among forests
and mountains, the party made their last march, regained the bank of the
St. Lawrence, and waded to the island where they had hidden their canoes.
Le Jeune was exhausted and sick, and Mestigoit offered to carry him in
his canoe to Quebec. This Indian was by far the best of the three
brothers, and both Pierre and the sorcerer looked to him for support.
He was strong, active, and daring, a skilful hunter, and a dexterous
canoeman. Le Jeune gladly accepted his offer; embarked with him and
Pierre on the dreary and tempestuous river; and, after a voyage full of
hardship, during which the canoe narrowly escaped being ground to atoms
among the floating ice, landed on the Island of Orleans, six miles from
Quebec. The afternoon was stormy and dark, and the river was covered
with ice, sweeping by with the tide. They were forced to encamp.
At midnight, the moon had risen, the river was comparatively unencumbered,
and they embarked once more. The wind increased, and the waves tossed
furiously. Nothing saved them but the skill and courage of Mestigoit.
At length they could see the rock of Quebec towering through the gloom,
but piles of ice lined the shore, while floating masses were drifting
down on the angry current. The Indian watched his moment, shot his canoe
through them, gained the fixed ice, leaped out, and shouted to his
companions to follow. Pierre scrambled up, but the ice was six feet out
of the water, and Le Jeune's agility failed him. He saved himself by
clutching the ankle of Mestigoit, by whose aid he gained a firm foothold
at the top, and, for a moment, the three voyagers, aghast at the
narrowness of their escape, stood gazing at each other in silence.

It was three o'clock in the morning when Le Jeune knocked at the door of
his rude little convent on the St. Charles; and the Fathers, springing in
joyful haste from their slumbers, embraced their long absent Superior
with ejaculations of praise and benediction.


1633, 1634.



Le Jeune had learned the difficulties of the Algonquin mission. To
imagine that he recoiled or faltered would be an injustice to his Order;
but on two points he had gained convictions: first, that little progress
could be made in converting these wandering hordes till they could be
settled in fixed abodes; and, secondly, that their scanty numbers,
their geographical position, and their slight influence in the politics
of the wilderness offered no flattering promise that their conversion
would be fruitful in further triumphs of the Faith. It was to another
quarter that the Jesuits looked most earnestly. By the vast lakes of the
West dwelt numerous stationary populations, and particularly the Hurons,
on the lake which bears their name. Here was a hopeful basis of
indefinite conquests; for, the Hurons won over, the Faith would spread in
wider and wider circles, embracing, one by one, the kindred tribes,--the
Tobacco Nation, the Neutrals, the Eries, and the Andastes. Nay, in His
own time, God might lead into His fold even the potent and ferocious

The way was pathless and long, by rock and torrent and the gloom of
savage forests. The goal was more dreary yet. Toil, hardship, famine,
filth, sickness, solitude, insult,--all that is most revolting to men
nurtured among arts and letters, all that is most terrific to monastic
credulity: such were the promise and the reality of the Huron mission.
In the eyes of the Jesuits, the Huron country was the innermost
stronghold of Satan, his castle and his donjon-keep. [ "Une des
principales forteresses & comme un donjon des Demons."--Lalemant,
Relation des Hurons, 1639, 100 (Cramoisy). ] All the weapons of his
malice were prepared against the bold invader who should assail him in
this, the heart of his ancient domain. Far from shrinking, the priest's
zeal rose to tenfold ardor. He signed the cross, invoked St. Ignatius,
St. Francis Xavier, or St. Francis Borgia, kissed his reliquary, said
nine masses to the Virgin, and stood prompt to battle with all the hosts
of Hell.

A life sequestered from social intercourse, and remote from every prize
which ambition holds worth the pursuit, or a lonely death, under forms,
perhaps, the most appalling,--these were the missionaries' alternatives.
Their maligners may taunt them, if they will, with credulity,
superstition, or a blind enthusiasm; but slander itself cannot accuse
them of hypocrisy or ambition. Doubtless, in their propagandism, they
were acting in concurrence with a mundane policy; but, for the present at
least, this policy was rational and humane. They were promoting the ends
of commerce and national expansion. The foundations of French dominion
were to be laid deep in the heart and conscience of the savage. His
stubborn neck was to be subdued to the "yoke of the Faith." The power of
the priest established, that of the temporal ruler was secure. These
sanguinary hordes, weaned from intestine strife, were to unite in a
common allegiance to God and the King. Mingled with French traders and
French settlers, softened by French manners, guided by French priests,
ruled by French officers, their now divided bands would become the
constituents of a vast wilderness empire, which in time might span the
continent. Spanish civilization crushed the Indian; English civilization
scorned and neglected him; French civilization embraced and cherished him.

Policy and commerce, then, built their hopes on the priests. These
commissioned interpreters of the Divine Will, accredited with letters
patent from Heaven, and affiliated to God's anointed on earth, would have
pushed to its most unqualified application the Scripture metaphor of the
shepherd and the sheep. They would have tamed the wild man of the woods
to a condition of obedience, unquestioning, passive, and absolute,--
repugnant to manhood, and adverse to the invigorating and expansive
spirit of modern civilization. Yet, full of error and full of danger as
was their system, they embraced its serene and smiling falsehoods with
the sincerity of martyrs and the self-devotion of saints.

We have spoken already of the Hurons, of their populous villages on the
borders of the great "Fresh Sea," their trade, their rude agriculture,
their social life, their wild and incongruous superstitions, and the
sorcerers, diviners, and medicine-men who lived on their credulity.
[ See Introduction. ] Iroquois hostility left open but one avenue to
their country, the long and circuitous route which, eighteen years before,
had been explored by Champlain, [ "Pioneers of France," 364. ]--up the
river Ottawa, across Lake Nipissing, down French River, and along the
shores of the great Georgian Bay of Lake Huron,--a route as difficult as
it was tedious. Midway, on Allumette Island, in the Ottawa, dwelt the
Algonquin tribe visited by Champlain in 1613, and who, amazed at the
apparition of the white stranger, thought that he had fallen from the
clouds. [ "Pioneers of France," 348. ] Like other tribes of this region,
they were keen traders, and would gladly have secured for themselves the
benefits of an intermediate traffic between the Hurons and the French,
receiving the furs of the former in barter at a low rate, and exchanging
them with the latter at their full value. From their position, they
could at any time close the passage of the Ottawa; but, as this would
have been a perilous exercise of their rights, [ 1 ] they were forced to
act with discretion. An opportunity for the practice of their diplomacy
had lately occurred. On or near the Ottawa, at some distance below them,
dwelt a small Algonquin tribe, called _La Petite Nation_. One of this
people had lately killed a Frenchman, and the murderer was now in the
hands of Champlain, a prisoner at the fort of Quebec. The savage
politicians of Allumette Island contrived, as will soon be seen, to turn
this incident to profit.

[ 1 Nevertheless, the Hurons always passed this way as a matter of favor,
and gave yearly presents to the Algonquins of the island, in
acknowledgment of the privilege--Le Jeune, Relation, 1636, 70.--By the
unwritten laws of the Hurons and Algonquins, every tribe had the right,
even in full peace, of prohibiting the passage of every other tribe
across its territory. In ordinary cases, such prohibitions were quietly
submitted to.

"Ces Insulaires voudraient bien que les Hurons ne vinssent point aux
François & que les François n'allassent point aux Hurons, afin d'emporter
eux seuls tout le trafic," etc.--Relation, 1633, 205 (Cramoisy),--
"desirans eux-mesmes aller recueiller les marchandises des peuples
circonvoisins pour les apporter aux François." This "Nation de l'Isle"
has been erroneously located at Montreal. Its true position is indicated
on the map of Du Creux, and on an ancient MS. map in the Dépôt des Cartes,
of which a fac-simile is before me. See also "Pioneers of France," 347. ]

In the July that preceded Le Jeune's wintering with the Montagnais,
a Huron Indian, well known to the French, came to Quebec with the tidings,
that the annual canoe-fleet of his countrymen was descending the
St. Lawrence. On the twenty-eighth, the river was alive with them.
A hundred and forty canoes, with six or seven hundred savages, landed at
the warehouses beneath the fortified rock of Quebec, and set up their
huts and camp-sheds on the strand now covered by the lower town.
The greater number brought furs and tobacco for the trade; others came
as sight-seers; others to gamble, and others to steal, [ 1 ]
--accomplishments in which the Hurons were proficient: their gambling
skill being exercised chiefly against each other, and their thieving
talents against those of other nations.

[ 1 "Quelques vns d'entre eux ne viennent à la traite auec les François
que pour iouër, d'autres pour voir, quelques vns pour dérober, et les
plus sages et les plus riches pour trafiquer."--Le Jeune, Relation, 1633,
34. ]

The routine of these annual visits was nearly uniform. On the first day,
the Indians built their huts; on the second, they held their council with
the French officers at the fort; on the third and fourth, they bartered

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