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

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their furs and tobacco for kettles, hatchets, knives, cloth, beads,
iron arrow-heads, coats, shirts, and other commodities; on the fifth,
they were feasted by the French; and at daybreak of the next morning,
they embarked and vanished like a flight of birds.

[ "Comme une volée d'oiseaux."--Le Jeune, Relation, 1633, 190 (Cramoisy).
--The tobacco brought to the French by the Hurons may have been raised by
the adjacent tribe of the Tionnontates, who cultivated it largely for
sale. See Introduction. ]

On the second day, then, the long file of chiefs and warriors mounted the
pathway to the fort,--tall, well-moulded figures, robed in the skins of
the beaver and the bear, each wild visage glowing with paint and
glistening with the oil which the Hurons extracted from the seeds of the
sunflower. The lank black hair of one streamed loose upon his shoulders;
that of another was close shaven, except an upright ridge, which,
bristling like the crest of a dragoon's helmet, crossed the crown from
the forehead to the neck; while that of a third hung, long and flowing
from one side, but on the other was cut short. Sixty chiefs and
principal men, with a crowd of younger warriors, formed their council-
circle in the fort, those of each village grouped together, and all
seated on the ground with a gravity of bearing sufficiently curious to
those who had seen the same men in the domestic circle of their
lodge-fires. Here, too, were the Jesuits, robed in black, anxious and
intent; and here was Champlain, who, as he surveyed the throng,
recognized among the elder warriors not a few of those who, eighteen
years before, had been his companions in arms on his hapless foray
against the Iroquois. [ See "Pioneers of France," 370. ]

Their harangues of compliment being made and answered, and the inevitable
presents given and received, Champlain introduced to the silent conclave
the three missionaries, Brébeuf, Daniel, and Davost. To their lot had
fallen the honors, dangers, and woes of the Huron mission. "These are
our fathers," he said. "We love them more than we love ourselves.
The whole French nation honors them. They do not go among you for your
furs. They have left their friends and their country to show you the way
to heaven. If you love the French, as you say you love them, then love
and honor these our fathers." [ Le Jeune, Relation, 1633, 274 (Cramoisy);
Mercure Français, 1634. 845. ]

Two chiefs rose to reply, and each lavished all his rhetoric in praises
of Champlain and of the French. Brébeuf rose next, and spoke in broken
Huron,--the assembly jerking in unison, from the bottom of their throats,
repeated ejaculations of applause. Then they surrounded him, and vied
with each other for the honor of carrying him in their canoes. In short,
the mission was accepted; and the chiefs of the different villages
disputed among themselves the privilege of receiving and entertaining the
three priests.

On the last of July, the day of the feast of St. Ignatius, Champlain and
several masters of trading vessels went to the house of the Jesuits in
quest of indulgences; and here they were soon beset by a crowd of curious
Indians, who had finished their traffic, and were making a tour of
observation. Being excluded from the house, they looked in at the
windows of the room which served as a chapel; and Champlain, amused at
their exclamations of wonder, gave one of them a piece of citron.
The Huron tasted it, and, enraptured, demanded what it was. Champlain
replied, laughing, that it was the rind of a French pumpkin. The fame of
this delectable production was instantly spread abroad; and, at every
window, eager voices and outstretched hands petitioned for a share of the
marvellous vegetable. They were at length allowed to enter the chapel,
which had lately been decorated with a few hangings, images, and pieces
of plate. These unwonted splendors filled them with admiration. They
asked if the dove over the altar was the bird that makes the thunder; and,
pointing to the images of Loyola and Xavier, inquired if they were
_okies_, or spirits: nor was their perplexity much diminished by Brébeuf's
explanation of their true character. Three images of the Virgin next
engaged their attention; and, in answer to their questions, they were
told that they were the mother of Him who made the world. This greatly
amused them, and they demanded if he had three mothers. "Oh!" exclaims
the Father Superior, "had we but images of all the holy mysteries of our
faith! They are a great assistance, for they speak their own lesson."
[ Relation, 1633, 38. ] The mission was not doomed long to suffer from a
dearth of these inestimable auxiliaries.

The eve of departure came. The three priests packed their baggage,
and Champlain paid their passage, or, in other words, made presents to
the Indians who were to carry them in their canoes. They lodged that
night in the storehouse of the fur company, around which the Hurons were
encamped; and Le Jeune and De Nouë stayed with them to bid them farewell
in the morning. At eleven at night, they were roused by a loud voice in
the Indian camp, and saw Le Borgne, the one-eyed chief of Allumette
Island, walking round among the huts, haranguing as he went. Brébeuf,
listening, caught the import of his words. "We have begged the French
captain to spare the life of the Algonquin of the Petite Nation whom he
keeps in prison; but he will not listen to us. The prisoner will die.
Then his people will revenge him. They will try to kill the three
black-robes whom you are about to carry to your country. If you do not
defend them, the French will be angry, and charge you with their death.
But if you do, then the Algonquins will make war on you, and the river
will be closed. If the French captain will not let the prisoner go,
then leave the three black-robes where they are; for, if you take them
with you, they will bring you to trouble."

Such was the substance of Le Borgne's harangue. The anxious priests
hastened up to the fort, gained admittance, and roused Champlain from his
slumbers. He sent his interpreter with a message to the Hurons, that he
wished to speak to them before their departure; and, accordingly, in the
morning an Indian crier proclaimed through their camp that none should
embark till the next day. Champlain convoked the chiefs, and tried
persuasion, promises, and threats; but Le Borgne had been busy among them
with his intrigues, and now he declared in the council, that, unless the
prisoner were released, the missionaries would be murdered on their way,
and war would ensue. The politic savage had two objects in view.
On the one hand, he wished to interrupt the direct intercourse between
the French and the Hurons; and, on the other, he thought to gain credit
and influence with the nation of the prisoner by effecting his release.
His first point was won. Champlain would not give up the murderer,
knowing those with whom he was dealing too well to take a course which
would have proclaimed the killing of a Frenchman a venial offence.
The Hurons thereupon refused to carry the missionaries to their country;
coupling the refusal with many regrets and many protestations of love,
partly, no doubt, sincere,--for the Jesuits had contrived to gain no
little favor in their eyes. The council broke up, the Hurons embarked,
and the priests returned to their convent.

Here, under the guidance of Brébeuf, they employed themselves, amid their
other avocations, in studying the Huron tongue. A year passed, and again
the Indian traders descended from their villages. In the meanwhile,
grievous calamities had befallen the nation. They had suffered
deplorable reverses at the hands of the Iroquois; while a pestilence,
similar to that which a few years before had swept off the native
populations of New England, had begun its ravages among them. They
appeared at Three Rivers--this year the place of trade--in small numbers,
and in a miserable state of dejection and alarm. Du Plessis Bochart,
commander of the French fleet, called them to a council, harangued them,
feasted them, and made them presents; but they refused to take the
Jesuits. In private, however, some of them were gained over; then again
refused; then, at the eleventh hour, a second time consented. On the eve
of embarkation, they once more wavered. All was confusion, doubt,
and uncertainty, when Brébeuf bethought him of a vow to St. Joseph.
The vow was made. At once, he says, the Indians became tractable; the
Fathers embarked, and, amid salvos of cannon from the ships, set forth
for the wild scene of their apostleship.

They reckoned the distance at nine hundred miles; but distance was the
least repellent feature of this most arduous journey. Barefoot, lest
their shoes should injure the frail vessel, each crouched in his canoe,
toiling with unpractised hands to propel it. Before him, week after week,
he saw the same lank, unkempt hair, the same tawny shoulders, and long,
naked arms ceaselessly plying the paddle. The canoes were soon
separated; and, for more than a month, the Frenchmen rarely or never met.
Brébeuf spoke a little Huron, and could converse with his escort; but
Daniel and Davost were doomed to a silence unbroken save by the
occasional unintelligible complaints and menaces of the Indians, of whom
many were sick with the epidemic, and all were terrified, desponding,
and sullen. Their only food was a pittance of Indian corn, crushed
between two stones and mixed with water. The toil was extreme. Brébeuf
counted thirty-five portages, where the canoes were lifted from the water,
and carried on the shoulders of the voyagers around rapids or cataracts.
More than fifty times, besides, they were forced to wade in the raging
current, pushing up their empty barks, or dragging them with ropes.
Brébeuf tried to do his part; but the boulders and sharp rocks wounded
his naked feet, and compelled him to desist. He and his companions bore
their share of the baggage across the portages, sometimes a distance of
several miles. Four trips, at the least, were required to convey the
whole. The way was through the dense forest, incumbered with rocks and
logs, tangled with roots and underbrush, damp with perpetual shade,
and redolent of decayed leaves and mouldering wood. [ 1 ] The Indians
themselves were often spent with fatigue. Brébeuf, a man of iron frame
and a nature unconquerably resolute, doubted if his strength would
sustain him to the journey's end. He complains that he had no moment to
read his breviary, except by the moonlight or the fire, when stretched
out to sleep on a bare rock by some savage cataract of the Ottawa,
or in a damp nook of the adjacent forest.

[ 1 "Adioustez à ces difficultez, qu'il faut coucher sur la terre nue,
ou sur quelque dure roche, faute de trouuer dix ou douze pieds de terre
en quarré pour placer vne chetiue cabane; qu'il faut sentir incessamment
la puanteur des Sauuages recreus, marcher dans les eaux, dans les fanges,
dans l'obscurité et l'embarras des forest, où les piqueures d'vne
multitude infinie de mousquilles et cousins vous importunent fort."--
Brébeuf, Relation des Hurons, 1635, 25, 26. ]

All the Jesuits, as well as several of their countrymen who accompanied
them, suffered more or less at the hands of their ill-humored conductors.
[ 1 ] Davost's Indian robbed him of a part of his baggage, threw a part
into the river, including most of the books and writing-materials of the
three priests, and then left him behind, among the Algonquins of
Allumette Island. He found means to continue the journey, and at length
reached the Huron towns in a lamentable state of bodily prostration.
Daniel, too, was deserted, but fortunately found another party who
received him into their canoe. A young Frenchman, named Martin, was
abandoned among the Nipissings; another, named Baron, on reaching the
Huron country, was robbed by his conductors of all he had, except the
weapons in his hands. Of these he made good use, compelling the robbers
to restore a part of their plunder.

[ 1 "En ce voyage, il nous a fallu tous commencer par ces experiences a
porter la Croix que Nostre Seigneur nous presente pour son honneur,
et pour le salut de ces pauures Barbares. Certes ie me suis trouué
quelquesfois si las, que le corps n'en pouuoit plus. Mais d'ailleurs mon
âme ressentoit de tres-grands contentemens, considerant que ie souffrois
pour Dieu: nul ne le sçait, s'il ne l'experimente. Tous n'en ont pas
esté quittes à si bon marché."--Brébeuf, Relation des Hurons, 1635, 26.

Three years afterwards, a paper was printed by the Jesuits of Paris,
called Instruction pour les Pères de nostre Compagnie qui seront enuoiez
aux Hurons, and containing directions for their conduct on this route by
the Ottawa. It is highly characteristic, both of the missionaries and of
the Indians. Some of the points are, in substance, as follows.--You
should love the Indians like brothers, with whom you are to spend the
rest of your life.--Never make them wait for you in embarking.--Take a
flint and steel to light their pipes and kindle their fire at night; for
these little services win their hearts.--Try to eat their sagamite as
they cook it, bad and dirty as it is.--Fasten up the skirts of your
cassock, that you may not carry water or sand into the canoe.--Wear no
shoes or stockings in the canoe; but you may put them on in crossing the
portages.--Do not make yourself troublesome, even to a single Indian.--Do
not ask them too many questions.--Bear their faults in silence, and
appear always cheerful.--Buy fish for them from the tribes you will pass;
and for this purpose take with you some awls, beads, knives, and
fish-hooks.--Be not ceremonious with the Indians; take at once what they
offer you: ceremony offends them.--Be very careful, when in the canoe,
that the brim of your hat does not annoy them. Perhaps it would be
better to wear your night-cap. There is no such thing as impropriety
among Indians.--Remember that it is Christ and his cross that you are
seeking; and if you aim at anything else, you will get nothing but
affliction for body and mind. ]

Descending French River, and following the lonely shores of the great
Georgian Bay, the canoe which carried Brébeuf at length neared its
destination, thirty days after leaving Three Rivers. Before him,
stretched in savage slumber, lay the forest shore of the Hurons. Did his
spirit sink as he approached his dreary home, oppressed with a dark
foreboding of what the future should bring forth? There is some reason
to think so. Yet it was but the shadow of a moment; for his masculine
heart had lost the sense of fear, and his intrepid nature was fired with
a zeal before which doubts and uncertainties fled like the mists of the
morning. Not the grim enthusiasm of negation, tearing up the weeds of
rooted falsehood, or with bold hand felling to the earth the baneful
growth of overshadowing abuses: his was the ancient faith uncurtailed,
redeemed from the decay of centuries, kindled with a new life, and
stimulated to a preternatural growth and fruitfulness.

Brébeuf and his Huron companions having landed, the Indians, throwing the
missionary's baggage on the ground, left him to his own resources; and,
without heeding his remonstrances, set forth for their respective
villages, some twenty miles distant. Thus abandoned, the priest kneeled,
not to implore succor in his perplexity, but to offer thanks to the
Providence which had shielded him thus far. Then, rising, he pondered as
to what course he should take. He knew the spot well. It was on the
borders of the small inlet called Thunder Bay. In the neighboring Huron
town of Toanché he had lived three years, preaching and baptizing; [ 1 ]
but Toanché had now ceased to exist. Here, Étienne Brulé, Champlain's
adventurous interpreter, had recently been murdered by the inhabitants,
who, in excitement and alarm, dreading the consequences of their deed,
had deserted the spot, and built, at the distance of a few miles, a new
town, called Ihonatiria. [ Concerning Brulé, see "Pioneers of France,"
377-380. ] Brébeuf hid his baggage in the woods, including the vessels
for the Mass, more precious than all the rest, and began his search for
this new abode. He passed the burnt remains of Toanché, saw the charred
poles that had formed the frame of his little chapel of bark, and found,
as he thought, the spot where Brulé had fallen. [ 2 ] Evening was near,
when, after following, bewildered and anxious, a gloomy forest path,
he issued upon a wild clearing, and saw before him the bark roofs of

[ 1 From 1626 to 1629. There is no record of the events of this first
mission, which was ended with the English occupation of Quebec. Brébeuf
had previously spent the winter of 1625-26 among the Algonquins, like Le
Jeune in 1633-34.--Lettre du P. Charles Lalemant au T. R. P. Mutio
Vitelleschi, 1 Aug., 1626, in Carayon. ]

[ 2 "Ie vis pareillement l'endroit où le pauure Estienne Brulé auoit
esté barbarement et traîtreusement assommé; ce qui me fit penser que
quelque iour on nous pourroit bien traitter de la sorte, et desirer au
moins que ce fust en pourchassant la gloire de N. Seigneur."--Brébeuf,
Relation des Hurons, 1635, 28, 29.--The missionary's prognostics were but
too well founded. ]

A crowd ran out to meet him. "Echom has come again! Echom has come
again!" they cried, recognizing in the distance the stately figure,
robed in black, that advanced from the border of the forest. They led
him to the town, and the whole population swarmed about him. After a
short rest, he set out with a number of young Indians in quest of his
baggage, returning with it at one o'clock in the morning. There was a
certain Awandoay in the village, noted as one of the richest and most
hospitable of the Hurons,--a distinction not easily won where hospitality
was universal. His house was large, and amply stored with beans and
corn; and though his prosperity had excited the jealousy of the villagers,
he had recovered their good-will by his generosity. With him Brébeuf
made his abode, anxiously waiting, week after week, the arrival of his
companions. One by one, they appeared: Daniel, weary and worn; Davost,
half dead with famine and fatigue; and their French attendants, each with
his tale of hardship and indignity. At length, all were assembled under
the roof of the hospitable Indian, and once more the Huron mission was


1634, 1635.



Where should the Fathers make their abode? Their first thought had been
to establish themselves at a place called by the French Rochelle, the
largest and most important town of the Huron confederacy; but Brébeuf now
resolved to remain at Ihonatiria. Here he was well known; and here, too,
he flattered himself, seeds of the Faith had been planted, which, with
good nurture, would in time yield fruit.

By the ancient Huron custom, when a man or a family wanted a house,
the whole village joined in building one. In the present case, not
Ihonatiria only, but the neighboring town of Wenrio also, took part in
the work,--though not without the expectation of such gifts as the
priests had to bestow. Before October, the task was finished. The house
was constructed after the Huron model. [ See Introduction. ] It was
thirty-six feet long and about twenty feet wide, framed with strong
sapling poles planted in the earth to form the sides, with the ends bent
into an arch for the roof,--the whole lashed firmly together, braced with
cross-poles, and closely covered with overlapping sheets of bark.
Without, the structure was strictly Indian; but within, the priests,
with the aid of their tools, made innovations which were the astonishment
of all the country. They divided their dwelling by transverse partitions
into three apartments, each with its wooden door,--a wondrous novelty in
the eyes of their visitors. The first served as a hall, an anteroom,
and a place of storage for corn, beans, and dried fish. The second--the
largest of the three--was at once kitchen, workshop, dining-room,
drawing-room, school-room, and bed-chamber. The third was the chapel.
Here they made their altar, and here were their images, pictures, and
sacred vessels. Their fire was on the ground, in the middle of the
second apartment, the smoke escaping by a hole in the roof. At the sides
were placed two wide platforms, after the Huron fashion, four feet from
the earthen floor. On these were chests in which they kept their
clothing and vestments, and beneath them they slept, reclining on sheets
of bark, and covered with skins and the garments they wore by day.
Rude stools, a hand-mill, a large Indian mortar of wood for crushing corn,
and a clock, completed the furniture of the room.

There was no lack of visitors, for the house of the black-robes contained
marvels [ 1 ] the fame of which was noised abroad to the uttermost
confines of the Huron nation. Chief among them was the clock. The
guests would sit in expectant silence by the hour, squatted on the ground,
waiting to hear it strike. They thought it was alive, and asked what it
ate. As the last stroke sounded, one of the Frenchmen would cry
"Stop!"--and, to the admiration of the company, the obedient clock was
silent. The mill was another wonder, and they were never tired of
turning it. Besides these, there was a prism and a magnet; also a
magnifying-glass, wherein a flea was transformed to a frightful monster,
and a multiplying lens, which showed them the same object eleven times
repeated. "All this," says Brébeuf, "serves to gain their affection,
and make them more docile in respect to the admirable and
incomprehensible mysteries of our Faith; for the opinion they have of our
genius and capacity makes them believe whatever we tell them." [ Brébeuf,
Relation des Hurons, 1636, 33. ]

[ 1 "Ils ont pensé qu'elle entendoit, principalement quand, pour rire,
quelqu'vn de nos François s'escrioit au dernier coup de marteau, c'est
assez sonné, et que tout aussi tost elle se taisoit. Ils l'appellent le
Capitaine du iour. Quand elle sonne, ils disent qu'elle parle, et
demandent quand ils nous viennent veoir, combien de fois le Capitaine a
desia parlé. Ils nous interrogent de son manger. Ils demeurent les
heures entieres, et quelquesfois plusieurs, afin de la pouuoir ouyr
parler."--Brébeuf, Relation des Hurons, 1635, 33. ]

"What does the Captain say?" was the frequent question; for by this title
of honor they designated the clock.

"When he strikes twelve times, he says, 'Hang on the kettle'; and when he
strikes four times, he says, 'Get up, and go home.'"

Both interpretations were well remembered. At noon, visitors were never
wanting, to share the Fathers' sagamite; but at the stroke of four,
all rose and departed, leaving the missionaries for a time in peace.
Now the door was barred, and, gathering around the fire, they discussed
the prospects of the mission, compared their several experiences, and
took counsel for the future. But the standing topic of their evening
talk was the Huron language. Concerning this each had some new discovery
to relate, some new suggestion to offer; and in the task of analyzing its
construction and deducing its hidden laws, these intelligent and highly
cultivated minds found a congenial employment. [ Lalemant, Relation des
Hurons, 1639, 17 (Cramoisy). ]

But while zealously laboring to perfect their knowledge of the language,
they spared no pains to turn their present acquirements to account.
Was man, woman, or child sick or suffering, they were always at hand with
assistance and relief,--adding, as they saw opportunity, explanations of
Christian doctrine, pictures of Heaven and Hell, and exhortations to
embrace the Faith. Their friendly offices did not cease here, but
included matters widely different. The Hurons lived in constant fear of
the Iroquois. At times the whole village population would fly to the
woods for concealment, or take refuge in one of the neighboring fortified
towns, on the rumor of an approaching war-party. The Jesuits promised
them the aid of the four Frenchmen armed with arquebuses, who had come
with them from Three Rivers. They advised the Hurons to make their
palisade forts, not, as hitherto, in a circular form, but rectangular,
with small flanking towers at the corners for the arquebuse-men. The
Indians at once saw the value of the advice, and soon after began to act
on it in the case of their great town of Ossossané, or Rochelle.
[ Brébeuf, Relation des Hurons, 1636, 86. ]

At every opportunity, the missionaries gathered together the children of
the village at their house. On these occasions, Brébeuf, for greater
solemnity, put on a surplice, and the close, angular cap worn by Jesuits
in their convents. First he chanted the Pater Noster, translated by
Father Daniel into Huron rhymes,--the children chanting in their turn.
Next he taught them the sign of the cross; made them repeat the Ave,
the Credo, and the Commandments; questioned them as to past instructions;
gave them briefly a few new ones; and dismissed them with a present of
two or three beads, raisins, or prunes. A great emulation was kindled
among this small fry of heathendom. The priests, with amusement and
delight, saw them gathered in groups about the village, vying with each
other in making the sign of the cross, or in repeating the rhymes they
had learned.

At times, the elders of the people, the repositories of its ancient
traditions, were induced to assemble at the house of the Jesuits, who
explained to them the principal points of their doctrine, and invited
them to a discussion. The auditors proved pliant to a fault, responding,
"Good," or "That is true," to every proposition; but, when urged to adopt
the faith which so readily met their approval, they had always the same
reply: "It is good for the French; but we are another people, with
different customs." On one occasion, Brébeuf appeared before the chiefs
and elders at a solemn national council, described Heaven and Hell with
images suited to their comprehension, asked to which they preferred to go
after death, and then, in accordance with the invariable Huron custom in
affairs of importance, presented a large and valuable belt of wampum,
as an invitation to take the path to Paradise. [ Brébeuf, Relation des
Hurons, 1636, 81. For the use of wampum belts, see Introduction. ]

Notwithstanding all their exhortations, the Jesuits, for the present,
baptized but few. Indeed, during the first year or more, they baptized
no adults except those apparently at the point of death; for, with
excellent reason, they feared backsliding and recantation. They found
especial pleasure in the baptism of dying infants, rescuing them from the
flames of perdition, and changing them, to borrow Le Jeune's phrase,
"from little Indians into little angels."

[ "Le seiziesme du mesme mois, deux petits Sauvages furent changes en
deux petits Anges."--Relation, 1636, 89 (Cramoisy).

"O mon cher frère, vous pourrois-je expliquer quelle consolation ce
m'etoit quand je voyois un pauure baptisé mourir deux heures, une demi
journée, une ou deux journées, après son baptesme, particulièrement quand
c'etoit un petit enfant!"--Lettre du Père Garnier à son Frère, MS.--This
form of benevolence is beyond heretic appreciation.

"La joye qu'on a quand on a baptisé un Sauvage qui se meurt peu apres,
& qui s'envole droit au Ciel, pour devenir un Ange, certainement c'est un
joye qui surpasse tout ce qu'on se peut imaginer."--Le Jeune, Relation,
1635, 221 (Cramoisy). ]

The Fathers' slumbers were brief and broken. Winter was the season of
Huron festivity; and, as they lay stretched on their hard couch,
suffocating with smoke and tormented by an inevitable multitude of fleas,
the thumping of the drum resounded all night long from a neighboring
house, mingled with the sound of the tortoise-shell rattle, the stamping
of moccasined feet, and the cadence of voices keeping time with the
dancers. Again, some ambitious villager would give a feast, and invite
all the warriors of the neighboring towns; or some grand wager of
gambling, with its attendant drumming, singing, and outcries, filled the
night with discord.

But these were light annoyances, compared with the insane rites to cure
the sick, prescribed by the "medicine-men," or ordained by the eccentric
inspiration of dreams. In one case, a young sorcerer, by alternate
gorging and fasting,--both in the interest of his profession,--joined
with excessive exertion in singing to the spirits, contracted a disorder
of the brain, which caused him, in mid-winter, to run naked about the
village, howling like a wolf. The whole population bestirred itself to
effect a cure. The patient had, or pretended to have, a dream, in which
the conditions of his recovery were revealed to him. These were equally
ridiculous and difficult; but the elders met in council, and all the
villagers lent their aid, till every requisition was fulfilled, and the
incongruous mass of gifts which the madman's dream had demanded were all
bestowed upon him. This cure failing, a "medicine-feast" was tried; then
several dances in succession. As the patient remained as crazy as before,
preparations were begun for a grand dance, more potent than all the rest.
Brébeuf says, that, except the masquerades of the Carnival among
Christians, he never saw a folly equal to it. "Some," he adds, "had
sacks over their heads, with two holes for the eyes. Some were as naked
as your hand, with horns or feathers on their heads, their bodies painted
white, and their faces black as devils. Others were daubed with red,
black, and white. In short, every one decked himself as extravagantly as
he could, to dance in this ballet, and contribute something towards the
health of the sick man." [ Relation des Hurons, 1636, 116. ] This remedy
also failing, a crowning effort of the medical art was essayed. Brébeuf
does not describe it, for fear, as he says, of being tedious; but,
for the time, the village was a pandemonium. [ 1 ] This, with other
ceremonies, was supposed to be ordered by a certain image like a doll,
which a sorcerer placed in his tobacco-pouch, whence it uttered its
oracles, at the same time moving as if alive. "Truly," writes Brébeuf,
"here is nonsense enough: but I greatly fear there is something more dark
and mysterious in it."

[ 1 "Suffit pour le present de dire en general, que iamais les
Bacchantes forcenées du temps passé ne firent rien de plus furieux en
leurs orgyes. C'est icy à s'entretuer, disent-ils, par des sorts qu'ils
s'entreiettent, dont la composition est d'ongles d'Ours, de dents de Loup,
d'ergots d'Aigles, de certaines pierres et de nerfs de Chien; c'est à
rendre du sang par la bouche et par les narines, ou plustost d'vne poudre
rouge qu'ils prennent subtilement, estans tombez sous le sort, et
blessez; et dix mille autres sottises que ie laisse volontiers."--Brébeuf,
Relation des Hurons, 1636, 117. ]

But all these ceremonies were outdone by the grand festival of the
_Ononhara_, or Dream Feast,--esteemed the most powerful remedy in cases of
sickness, or when a village was infested with evil spirits. The time and
manner of holding it were determined at a solemn council. This scene of
madness began at night. Men, women, and children, all pretending to have
lost their senses, rushed shrieking and howling from house to house,
upsetting everything in their way, throwing firebrands, beating those
they met or drenching them with water, and availing themselves of this
time of license to take a safe revenge on any who had ever offended them.
This scene of frenzy continued till daybreak. No corner of the village
was secure from the maniac crew. In the morning there was a change.
They ran from house to house, accosting the inmates by name, and
demanding of each the satisfaction of some secret want, revealed to the
pretended madman in a dream, but of the nature of which he gave no hint
whatever. The person addressed thereupon threw to him at random any
article at hand, as a hatchet, a kettle, or a pipe; and the applicant
continued his rounds till the desired gift was hit upon, when he gave an
outcry of delight, echoed by gratulatory cries from all present. If,
after all his efforts, he failed in obtaining the object of his dream,
he fell into a deep dejection, convinced that some disaster was in store
for him.

[ Brébeuf's account of the Dream Feast is brief. The above particulars
are drawn chiefly from Charlevoix, Journal Historique, 356, and Sagard,
Voyage du Pays des Hurons, 280. See also Lafitau, and other early
writers. This ceremony was not confined to the Hurons, but prevailed
also among the Iroquois, and doubtless other kindred tribes. The Jesuit
Dablon saw it in perfection at Onondaga. It usually took place in
February, occupying about three days, and was often attended with great
indecencies. The word ononhara means turning of the brain. ]

The approach of summer brought with it a comparative peace. Many of the
villagers dispersed,--some to their fishing, some to expeditions of trade,
and some to distant lodges by their detached corn-fields. The priests
availed themselves of the respite to engage in those exercises of private
devotion which the rule of St. Ignatius enjoins. About midsummer,
however, their quiet was suddenly broken. The crops were withering under
a severe drought, a calamity which the sandy nature of the soil made
doubly serious. The sorcerers put forth their utmost power, and, from
the tops of the houses, yelled incessant invocations to the spirits.
All was in vain; the pitiless sky was cloudless. There was thunder in
the east and thunder in the west; but over Ihonatiria all was serene.
A renowned "rain-maker," seeing his reputation tottering under his
repeated failures, bethought him of accusing the Jesuits, and gave out
that the red color of the cross which stood before their house scared the
bird of thunder, and caused him to fly another way. [ 1 ] On this a
clamor arose. The popular ire turned against the priests, and the
obnoxious cross was condemned to be hewn down. Aghast at the threatened
sacrilege, they attempted to reason away the storm, assuring the crowd
that the lightning was not a bird, but certain hot and fiery exhalations,
which, being imprisoned, darted this way and that, trying to escape.
As this philosophy failed to convince the hearers, the missionaries
changed their line of defence.

[ 1 The following is the account of the nature of thunder, given to
Brébeuf on a former occasion by another sorcerer.

"It is a man in the form of a turkey-cock. The sky is his palace,
and he remains in it when the air is clear. When the clouds begin to
grumble, he descends to the earth to gather up snakes, and other objects
which the Indians call _okies_. The lightning flashes whenever he opens
or closes his wings. If the storm is more violent than usual, it is
because his young are with him, and aiding in the noise as well as they
can."--Relation des Hurons, 1636, 114.

The word oki is here used to denote any object endued with supernatural
power. A belief similar to the above exists to this day among the
Dacotahs. Some of the Hurons and Iroquois, however, held that the
thunder was a giant in human form. According to one story, he vomited
from time to time a number of snakes, which, falling to the earth,
caused the appearance of lightning. ]

"You say that the red color of the cross frightens the bird of thunder.
Then paint the cross white, and see if the thunder will come."

This was accordingly done; but the clouds still kept aloof. The Jesuits
followed up their advantage.

"Your spirits cannot help you, and your sorcerers have deceived you with
lies. Now ask the aid of Him who made the world, and perhaps He will
listen to your prayers." And they added, that, if the Indians would
renounce their sins and obey the true God, they would make a procession
daily to implore his favor towards them.

There was no want of promises. The processions were begun, as were also
nine masses to St. Joseph; and, as heavy rains occurred soon after,
the Indians conceived a high idea of the efficacy of the French

[ "Nous deuons aussi beaucoup au glorieux sainct Ioseph, espoux de Nostre
Dame, et protecteur des Hurons, dont nous auons touché au doigt
l'assistance plusieurs fois. Ce fut vne chose remarquable, que le iour
de sa feste et durant l'Octaue, les commoditez nous venoient de toutes
parts."--Brébeuf, Relation des Hurons, 1635, 41.

The above extract is given as one out of many illustrations of the
confidence with which the priests rested on the actual and direct aid of
their celestial guardians. To St. Joseph, in particular, they find no
words for their gratitude. ]

In spite of the hostility of the sorcerers, and the transient commotion
raised by the red cross, the Jesuits had gained the confidence and
good-will of the Huron population. Their patience, their kindness,
their intrepidity, their manifest disinterestedness, the blamelessness of
their lives, and the tact which, in the utmost fervors of their zeal,
never failed them, had won the hearts of these wayward savages; and
chiefs of distant villages came to urge that they would make their abode
with them. [ Brébeuf preserves a speech made to him by one of these
chiefs, as a specimen of Huron eloquence.--Relation des Hurons, 1636,
123. ] As yet, the results of the mission had been faint and few; but
the priests toiled on courageously, high in hope that an abundant harvest
of souls would one day reward their labors.


1636, 1637.



Mention has been made of those great depositories of human bones found at
the present day in the ancient country of the Hurons. [ See
Introduction. ] They have been a theme of abundant speculation; [ 1 ]
yet their origin is a subject, not of conjecture, but of historic
certainty. The peculiar rites to which they owe their existence were
first described at length by Brébeuf, who, in the summer of the year 1636,
saw them at the town of Ossossané.

[ 1 Among those who have wondered and speculated over these remains is
Mr. Schoolcraft. A slight acquaintance with the early writers would have
solved his doubts. ]

The Jesuits had long been familiar with the ordinary rites of sepulture
among the Hurons; the corpse placed in a crouching posture in the midst
of the circle of friends and relatives; the long, measured wail of the
mourners; the speeches in praise of the dead, and consolation to the
living; the funeral feast; the gifts at the place of burial; the funeral
games, where the young men of the village contended for prizes; and the
long period of mourning to those next of kin. The body was usually laid
on a scaffold, or, more rarely, in the earth. This, however, was not its
final resting-place. At intervals of ten or twelve years, each of the
four nations which composed the Huron Confederacy gathered together its
dead, and conveyed them all to a common place of sepulture. Here was
celebrated the great "Feast of the Dead,"--in the eyes of the Hurons,
their most solemn and important ceremonial.

In the spring of 1636, the chiefs and elders of the Nation of the
Bear--the principal nation of the Confederacy, and that to which
Ihonatiria belonged--assembled in a general council, to prepare for the
great solemnity. There was an unwonted spirit of dissension. Some
causes of jealousy had arisen, and three or four of the Bear villages
announced their intention of holding their Feast of the Dead apart from
the rest. As such a procedure was thought abhorrent to every sense of
propriety and duty, the announcement excited an intense feeling; yet
Brébeuf, who was present, describes the debate which ensued as perfectly
calm, and wholly free from personal abuse or recrimination. The
secession, however, took place, and each party withdrew to its villages
to gather and prepare its dead.

The corpses were lowered from their scaffolds, and lifted from their
graves. Their coverings were removed by certain functionaries appointed
for the office, and the hideous relics arranged in a row, surrounded by
the weeping, shrieking, howling concourse. The spectacle was frightful.
Here were all the village dead of the last twelve years. The priests,
connoisseurs in such matters, regarded it as a display of mortality so
edifying, that they hastened to summon their French attendants to
contemplate and profit by it. Each family reclaimed its own, and
immediately addressed itself to removing what remained of flesh from the
bones. These, after being tenderly caressed, with tears and lamentations,
were wrapped in skins and adorned with pendent robes of fur. In the
belief of the mourners, they were sentient and conscious. A soul was
thought still to reside in them; [ 1 ] and to this notion, very general
among Indians, is in no small degree due that extravagant attachment to
the remains of their dead, which may be said to mark the race.

[ 1 In the general belief, the soul took flight after the great ceremony
was ended. Many thought that there were two souls, one remaining with
the bones, while the other went to the land of spirits. ]

These relics of mortality, together with the recent corpses,--which were
allowed to remain entire, but which were also wrapped carefully in
furs,--were now carried to one of the largest houses, and hung to the
numerous cross-poles, which, like rafters, supported the roof. Here the
concourse of mourners seated themselves at a funeral feast; and, as the
squaws of the household distributed the food, a chief harangued the
assembly, lamenting the loss of the deceased, and extolling their
virtues. This solemnity over, the mourners began their march for
Ossossané, the scene of the final rite. The bodies remaining entire were
borne on a kind of litter, while the bundles of bones were slung at the
shoulders of the relatives, like fagots. Thus the procession slowly
defiled along the forest pathways, with which the country of the Hurons
was everywhere intersected; and as they passed beneath the dull shadow of
the pines, they uttered at intervals, in unison, a dreary, wailing cry,
designed to imitate the voices of disembodied souls winging their way to
the land of spirits, and believed to have an effect peculiarly soothing
to the conscious relics which each man bore. When, at night, they
stopped to rest at some village on the way, the inhabitants came forth to
welcome them with a grave and mournful hospitality.

From every town of the Nation of the Bear,--except the rebellious few
that had seceded,--processions like this were converging towards
Ossossané. This chief town of the Hurons stood on the eastern margin of
Nottawassaga Bay, encompassed with a gloomy wilderness of fir and pine.
Thither, on the urgent invitation of the chiefs, the Jesuits repaired.
The capacious bark houses were filled to overflowing, and the surrounding
woods gleamed with camp-fires: for the processions of mourners were fast
arriving, and the throng was swelled by invited guests of other tribes.
Funeral games were in progress, the young men and women practising
archery and other exercises, for prizes offered by the mourners in the
name of their dead relatives. [ Funeral games were not confined to the
Hurons and Iroquois: Perrot mentions having seen them among the Ottawas.
An illustrated description of them will be found in Lafitau. ] Some of
the chiefs conducted Brébeuf and his companions to the place prepared for
the ceremony. It was a cleared area in the forest, many acres in extent.
In the midst was a pit, about ten feet deep and thirty feet wide.
Around it was reared a high and strong scaffolding; and on this were
planted numerous upright poles, with cross-poles extended between,
for hanging the funeral gifts and the remains of the dead.

Meanwhile there was a long delay. The Jesuits were lodged in a house
where more than a hundred of these bundles of mortality were hanging from
the rafters. Some were mere shapeless rolls; others were made up into
clumsy effigies, adorned with feathers, beads, and belts of dyed
porcupine-quills. Amidst this throng of the living and the dead, the
priests spent a night which the imagination and the senses conspired to
render almost insupportable.

At length the officiating chiefs gave the word to prepare for the
ceremony. The relics were taken down, opened for the last time, and the
bones caressed and fondled by the women amid paroxysms of lamentation.
[ 1 ] Then all the processions were formed anew, and, each bearing its
dead, moved towards the area prepared for the last solemn rites. As they
reached the ground, they defiled in order, each to a spot assigned to it,
on the outer limits of the clearing. Here the bearers of the dead laid
their bundles on the ground, while those who carried the funeral gifts
outspread and displayed them for the admiration of the beholders.
Their number was immense, and their value relatively very great. Among
them were many robes of beaver and other rich furs, collected and
preserved for years, with a view to this festival. Fires were now
lighted, kettles slung, and, around the entire circle of the clearing,
the scene was like a fair or caravansary. This continued till three
o'clock in the afternoon, when the gifts were repacked, and the bones
shouldered afresh. Suddenly, at a signal from the chiefs, the crowd ran
forward from every side towards the scaffold, like soldiers to the
assault of a town, scaled it by rude ladders with which it was furnished,
and hung their relics and their gifts to the forest of poles which
surmounted it. Then the ladders were removed; and a number of chiefs,
standing on the scaffold, harangued the crowd below, praising the dead,
and extolling the gifts, which the relatives of the departed now bestowed,
in their names, upon their surviving friends.

[ 1 "I'admiray la tendresse d'vne femme enuers son pere et ses enfans;
elle est fille d'vn Capitaine, qui est mort fort âgé, et a esté autrefois
fort considerable dans le Païs: elle luy peignoit sa cheuelure, elle
manioit ses os les vns apres les autres, auec la mesme affection que si
elle luy eust voulu rendre la vie; elle luy mit aupres de luy son
Atsatone8ai, c'est à dire son pacquet de buchettes de Conseil, qui sont
tous les liures et papiers du Païs. Pour ses petits enfans, elle leur
mit des brasselets de Pourcelaine et de rassade aux bras, et baigna leurs
os de ses larmes; on ne l'en pouuoit quasi separer, mais on pressoit,
et il fallut incontinent partir."--Brébeuf, Relation des Hurons, 1636,
134. ]

During these harangues, other functionaries were lining the grave
throughout with rich robes of beaver-skin. Three large copper kettles
were next placed in the middle, [ 1 ] and then ensued a scene of hideous
confusion. The bodies which had been left entire were brought to the
edge of the grave, flung in, and arranged in order at the bottom by ten
or twelve Indians stationed there for the purpose, amid the wildest
excitement and the uproar of many hundred mingled voices. [ 2 ] When
this part of the work was done, night was fast closing in. The concourse
bivouacked around the clearing, and lighted their camp-fires under the
brows of the forest which hedged in the scene of the dismal solemnity.
Brébeuf and his companions withdrew to the village, where, an hour before
dawn, they were roused by a clamor which might have wakened the dead.
One of the bundles of bones, tied to a pole on the scaffold, had chanced
to fall into the grave. This accident had precipitated the closing act,
and perhaps increased its frenzy. Guided by the unearthly din, and the
broad glare of flames fed with heaps of fat pine logs, the priests soon
reached the spot, and saw what seemed, in their eyes, an image of Hell.
All around blazed countless fires, and the air resounded with discordant
outcries. [ 3 ] The naked multitude, on, under, and around the scaffold,
were flinging the remains of their dead, discharged from their
envelopments of skins, pell-mell into the pit, where Brébeuf discerned
men who, as the ghastly shower fell around them, arranged the bones in
their places with long poles. All was soon over; earth, logs, and stones
were cast upon the grave, and the clamor subsided into a funereal
chant,--so dreary and lugubrious, that it seemed to the Jesuits the wail
of despairing souls from the abyss of perdition. [ 4 ]

[ 1 In some of these graves, recently discovered, five or six large
copper kettles have been found, in a position corresponding with the
account of Brébeuf. In one, there were no less than twenty-six kettles. ]

[ 2 "Iamais rien ce m'a mieux figuré la confusion qui est parmy les
damnez. Vous eussiez veu décharger de tous costez des corps à demy
pourris, et de tous costez on entendoit vn horrible tintamarre de voix
confuses de personnes qui parloient et ne s'entendoient pas."--Brébeuf,
Relation des Hurons, 1636, 135. ]

[ 3 "Approchans, nous vismes tout à fait une image de l'Enfer: cette
grande place estoit toute remplie de feux & de flammes, & l'air
retentissoit de toutes parts des voix confuses de ces Barbares,"
etc.--Brébeuf, Relation des Hurons, 1636, 209 (Cramoisy). ]

[ 4 "Se mirent à chanter, mais d'un ton si lamentable & si lugubre,
qu'il nous representoit l'horrible tristesse & l'abysme du desespoir dans
lequel sont plongées pour iamais ces âmes malheureuses."--Ibid., 210.

For other descriptions of these rites, see Charlevoix, Bressani, Du Creux,
and especially Lafitau, in whose work they are illustrated with
engravings. In one form or another, they were widely prevalent. Bartram
found them among the Floridian tribes. Traces of a similar practice have
been observed in recent times among the Dacotahs. Remains of places of
sepulture, evidently of kindred origin, have been found in Tennessee,
Missouri, Kentucky, and Ohio. Many have been discovered in several parts
of New York, especially near the River Niagara. (See Squier, Aboriginal
Monuments of New York.) This was the eastern extremity of the ancient
territory of the Neuters. One of these deposits is said to have
contained the bones of several thousand individuals. There is a large
mound on Tonawanda Island, said by the modern Senecas to be a Neuter
burial-place. (See Marshall, Historical Sketches of the Niagara Frontier,
8.) In Canada West, they are found throughout the region once occupied
by the Neuters, and are frequent in the Huron district.

Dr. Taché writes to me,--"I have inspected sixteen bone-pits," (in the
Huron country,) "the situation of which is indicated on the little pencil
map I send you. They contain from six hundred to twelve hundred
skeletons each, of both sexes and all ages, all mixed together purposely.
With one exception, these pits also contain pipes of stone or clay,
small earthen pots, shells, and wampum wrought of these shells, copper
ornaments, beads of glass, and other trinkets. Some pits contained
articles of copper of aboriginal Mexican fabric."

This remarkable fact, together with the frequent occurrence in these
graves of large conch-shells, of which wampum was made, and which could
have been procured only from the Gulf of Mexico, or some part of the
southern coast of the United States, proves the extent of the relations
of traffic by which certain articles were passed from tribe to tribe over
a vast region. The transmission of pipes from the famous Red Pipe-Stone
Quarry of the St. Peter's to tribes more than a thousand miles distant is
an analogous modern instance, though much less remarkable.

The Taché Museum, at the Laval University of Quebec, contains a large
collection of remains from these graves. In one instance, the human
bones are of a size that may be called gigantic.

In nearly every case, the Huron graves contain articles of use or
ornament of European workmanship. From this it may be inferred, that the
nation itself, or its practice of inhumation, does not date back to a
period long before the arrival of the French.

The Northern Algonquins had also a solemn Feast of the Dead; but it was
widely different from that of the Hurons.--See the very curious account
of it by Lalemant, Relation des Hurons, 1642, 94, 95. ]

Such was the origin of one of those strange sepulchres which are the
wonder and perplexity of the modern settler in the abandoned forests of
the Hurons.

The priests were soon to witness another and a more terrible rite,
yet one in which they found a consolation, since it signalized the saving
of a soul,--the snatching from perdition of one of that dreaded race,
into whose very midst they hoped, with devoted daring, to bear hereafter
the cross of salvation. A band of Huron warriors had surprised a small
party of Iroquois, killed several, and captured the rest. One of the
prisoners was led in triumph to a village where the priests then were.
He had suffered greatly; his hands, especially, were frightfully
lacerated. Now, however, he was received with every mark of kindness.
"Take courage," said a chief, addressing him; "you are among friends."
The best food was prepared for him, and his captors vied with each other
in offices of good-will. [ This pretended kindness in the treatment of a
prisoner destined to the torture was not exceptional. The Hurons
sometimes even supplied their intended victim with a temporary wife. ]
He had been given, according to Indian custom, to a warrior who had lost
a near relative in battle, and the captive was supposed to be adopted in
place of the slain. His actual doom was, however, not for a moment in
doubt. The Huron received him affectionately, and, having seated him in
his lodge, addressed him in a tone of extreme kindness. "My nephew,
when I heard that you were coming, I was very glad, thinking that you
would remain with me to take the place of him I have lost. But now that
I see your condition, and your hands crushed and torn so that you will
never use them, I change my mind. Therefore take courage, and prepare to
die tonight like a brave man."

The prisoner coolly asked what should be the manner of his death.

"By fire," was the reply.

"It is well," returned the Iroquois.

Meanwhile, the sister of the slain Huron, in whose place the prisoner was
to have been adopted, brought him a dish of food, and, her eyes flowing
with tears, placed it before him with an air of the utmost tenderness;
while, at the same time, the warrior brought him a pipe, wiped the sweat
from his brow, and fanned him with a fan of feathers.

About noon he gave his farewell feast, after the custom of those who knew
themselves to be at the point of death. All were welcome to this strange
banquet; and when the company were gathered, the host addressed them in a
loud, firm voice: "My brothers, I am about to die. Do your worst to me.
I do not fear torture or death." Some of those present seemed to have
visitings of real compassion; and a woman asked the priests if it would
be wrong to kill him, and thus save him from the fire.

The Jesuits had from the first lost no opportunity of accosting him;
while he, grateful for a genuine kindness amid the cruel hypocrisy that
surrounded him, gave them an attentive ear, till at length, satisfied
with his answers, they baptized him. His eternal bliss secure, all else
was as nothing; and they awaited the issue with some degree of composure.

A crowd had gathered from all the surrounding towns, and after nightfall
the presiding chief harangued them, exhorting them to act their parts
well in the approaching sacrifice, since they would be looked upon by the
Sun and the God of War. [ Areskoui (see Introduction). He was often
regarded as identical with the Sun. The semi-sacrificial character of
the torture in this case is also shown by the injunction, "que pour ceste
nuict on n'allast point folastrer dans les bois."--Le Mercier, Relation
des Hurons, 1637, 114. ] It is needless to dwell on the scene that
ensued. It took place in the lodge of the great war chief, Atsan.
Eleven fires blazed on the ground, along the middle of this capacious
dwelling. The platforms on each side were closely packed with
spectators; and, betwixt these and the fires, the younger warriors stood
in lines, each bearing lighted pine-knots or rolls of birch-bark.
The heat, the smoke, the glare of flames, the wild yells, contorted
visages, and furious gestures of these human devils, as their victim,
goaded by their torches, bounded through the fires again and again,
from end to end of the house, transfixed the priests with horror.
But when, as day dawned, the last spark of life had fled, they consoled
themselves with the faith that the tortured wretch had found his rest at
last in Paradise.

[ Le Mercier's long and minute account of the torture of this prisoner is
too revolting to be dwelt upon. One of the most atrocious features of
the scene was the alternation of raillery and ironical compliment which
attended it throughout, as well as the pains taken to preserve life and
consciousness in the victim as long as possible. Portions of his flesh
were afterwards devoured. ]


1636, 1637.



Meanwhile from Old France to New came succors and reinforcements to the
missions of the forest. More Jesuits crossed the sea to urge on the work
of conversion. These were no stern exiles, seeking on barbarous shores
an asylum for a persecuted faith. Rank, wealth, power, and royalty
itself, smiled on their enterprise, and bade them God-speed. Yet, withal,
a fervor more intense, a self-abnegation more complete, a self-devotion
more constant and enduring, will scarcely find its record on the page of
human history.

Holy Mother Church, linked in sordid wedlock to governments and thrones,
numbered among her servants a host of the worldly and the proud, whose
service of God was but the service of themselves,--and many, too, who,
in the sophistry of the human heart, thought themselves true soldiers of
Heaven, while earthly pride, interest, and passion were the life-springs
of their zeal. This mighty Church of Rome, in her imposing march along
the high road of history, heralded as infallible and divine, astounds the
gazing world with prodigies of contradiction: now the protector of the
oppressed, now the right arm of tyrants; now breathing charity and love,
now dark with the passions of Hell; now beaming with celestial truth,
now masked in hypocrisy and lies; now a virgin, now a harlot; an imperial
queen, and a tinselled actress. Clearly, she is of earth, not of heaven;
and her transcendently dramatic life is a type of the good and ill,
the baseness and nobleness, the foulness and purity, the love and hate,
the pride, passion, truth, falsehood, fierceness, and tenderness, that
battle in the restless heart of man.

It was her nobler and purer part that gave life to the early missions of
New France. That gloomy wilderness, those hordes of savages, had nothing
to tempt the ambitious, the proud, the grasping, or the indolent.
Obscure toil, solitude, privation, hardship, and death were to be the
missionary's portion. He who set sail for the country of the Hurons left
behind him the world and all its prizes. True, he acted under orders,--
obedient, like a soldier, to the word of command: but the astute Society
of Jesus knew its members, weighed each in the balance, gave each his
fitting task; and when the word was passed to embark for New France,
it was but the response to a secret longing of the fervent heart.
The letters of these priests, departing for the scene of their labors,
breathe a spirit of enthusiastic exaltation, which, to a colder nature
and a colder faith, may sometimes seem overstrained, but which is in no
way disproportionate to the vastness of the effort and the sacrifice
demanded of them.

[ The following are passages from letters of missionaries at this time.
See "Divers Sentimens," appended to the Relation of 1635.

"On dit que les premiers qui fondent les Eglises d'ordinaire sont
saincts: cette pensée m'attendrit si fort le cœur, que quoy que ie me
voye icy fort inutile dans ceste fortunée Nouuelle France, si faut-il que
i'auoüe que ie ne me sçaurois defendre d'vne pensée qui me presse le cœur:
Cupio impendi, et superimpendi pro vobis, Pauure Nouuelle France, ie
desire me sacrifier pour ton bien, et quand il me deuroit couster mille
vies, moyennant que ie puisse aider à sauuer vne seule âme, ie seray trop
heureux, et ma vie tres bien employée."

"Ma consolation parmy les Hurons, c'est que tous les iours ie me confesse,
et puis ie dis la Messe, comme si ie deuois prendre le Viatique et mourir
ce iour là, et ie ne crois pas qu'on puisse mieux viure, ny auec plus de
satisfaction et de courage, et mesme de merites, que viure en un lieu,
où on pense pouuoir mourir tous les iours, et auoir la deuise de S. Paul,
Quotidie morior, fratres, etc. mes freres, ie fais estat de mourir tous
les iours."

"Qui ne void la Nouuelle France que par les yeux de chair et de nature,
il n'y void que des bois et des croix; mais qui les considere auec les
yeux de la grace et d'vne bonne vocation, il n'y void que Dieu, les
vertus et les graces, et on y trouue tant et de si solides consolations,
que si ie pouuois acheter la Nouuelle France, en donnant tout le Paradis
Terrestre, certainement ie l'acheterois. Mon Dieu, qu'il fait bon estre
au lieu où Dieu nous a mis de sa grace! veritablement i'ay trouué icy ce
que i'auois esperé, vn cœur selon le cœur de Dieu, qui ne cherche que
Dieu." ]

All turned with longing eyes towards the mission of the Hurons; for here
the largest harvest promised to repay their labor, and here hardships and
dangers most abounded. Two Jesuits, Pijart and Le Mercier, had been sent
thither in 1635; and in midsummer of the next year three more arrived,--
Jogues, Chatelain, and Garnier. When, after their long and lonely
journey, they reached Ihonatiria one by one, they were received by their
brethren with scanty fare indeed, but with a fervor of affectionate
welcome which more than made amends; for among these priests, united in a
community of faith and enthusiasm, there was far more than the genial
comradeship of men joined in a common enterprise of self-devotion and
peril. [ 1 ] On their way, they had met Daniel and Davost descending to
Quebec, to establish there a seminary of Huron children,--a project long
cherished by Brébeuf and his companions.

[ 1 "Ie luy preparay de ce que nous auions, pour le receuoir, mais quel
festin! vne poignée de petit poisson sec auec vn peu de farine;
i'enuoyay chercher quelques nouueaux espics, que nous luy fismes rostir à
la façon du pays; mais il est vray que dans son cœur et à l'entendre,
il ne fit iamais meilleure chere. La ioye qui se ressent à ces
entreueuës semble estre quelque image du contentement des bien-heureux à
leur arriuée dans le Ciel, tant elle est pleine de suauité."--Le Mercier,
Relation des Hurons, 1637, 106. ]

Scarcely had the new-comers arrived, when they were attacked by a
contagious fever, which turned their mission-house into a hospital.
Jogues, Garnier, and Chatelain fell ill in turn; and two of their
domestics also were soon prostrated, though the only one of the number
who could hunt fortunately escaped. Those who remained in health
attended the sick, and the sufferers vied with each other in efforts
often beyond their strength to relieve their companions in misfortune.
[ Lettre de Brébeuf au T. R. P. Mutio Vitelleschi, 20 Mai, 1637, in
Carayon, 157. Le Mercier, Relation des Hurons, 1637, 120, 123. ]
The disease in no case proved fatal; but scarcely had health begun to
return to their household, when an unforeseen calamity demanded the
exertion of all their energies.

The pestilence, which for two years past had from time to time visited
the Huron towns, now returned with tenfold violence, and with it soon
appeared a new and fearful scourge,--the small-pox. Terror was universal.
The contagion increased as autumn advanced; and when winter came, far
from ceasing, as the priests had hoped, its ravages were appalling.
The season of Huron festivity was turned to a season of mourning; and
such was the despondency and dismay, that suicide became frequent.
The Jesuits, singly or in pairs, journeyed in the depth of winter from
village to village, ministering to the sick, and seeking to commend their
religious teachings by their efforts to relieve bodily distress. Happily,
perhaps, for their patients, they had no medicine but a little senna.
A few raisins were left, however; and one or two of these, with a
spoonful of sweetened water, were always eagerly accepted by the
sufferers, who thought them endowed with some mysterious and sovereign
efficacy. No house was left unvisited. As the missionary, physician at
once to body and soul, entered one of these smoky dens, he saw the
inmates, their heads muffled in their robes of skins, seated around the
fires in silent dejection. Everywhere was heard the wail of sick and
dying children; and on or under the platforms at the sides of the house
crouched squalid men and women, in all the stages of the distemper.
The Father approached, made inquiries, spoke words of kindness,
administered his harmless remedies, or offered a bowl of broth made from
game brought in by the Frenchman who hunted for the mission. [ Game was
so scarce in the Huron country, that it was greatly prized as a luxury.
Le Mercier speaks of an Indian, sixty years of age, who walked twelve
miles to taste the wild-fowl killed by the French hunter. The ordinary
food was corn, beans, pumpkins, and fish. ] The body cared for, he next
addressed himself to the soul. "This life is short, and very miserable.
It matters little whether we live or die." The patient remained silent,
or grumbled his dissent. The Jesuit, after enlarging for a time, in
broken Huron, on the brevity and nothingness of mortal weal or woe,
passed next to the joys of Heaven and the pains of Hell, which he set
forth with his best rhetoric. His pictures of infernal fires and
torturing devils were readily comprehended, if the listener had
consciousness enough to comprehend anything; but with respect to the
advantages of the French Paradise, he was slow of conviction. "I wish to
go where my relations and ancestors have gone," was a common reply.
"Heaven is a good place for Frenchmen," said another; "but I wish to be
among Indians, for the French will give me nothing to eat when I get
there." [ It was scarcely possible to convince the Indians, that there
was but one God for themselves and the whites. The proposition was met
by such arguments as this: "If we had been of one father, we should know
how to make knives and coats as well as you."--Le Mercier, Relation des
Hurons, 1637, 147. ] Often the patient was stolidly silent; sometimes he
was hopelessly perverse and contradictory. Again, Nature triumphed over
Grace. "Which will you choose," demanded the priest of a dying woman,
"Heaven or Hell?" "Hell, if my children are there, as you say," returned
the mother. "Do they hunt in Heaven, or make war, or go to feasts?"
asked an anxious inquirer. "Oh, no!" replied the Father. "Then,"
returned the querist, "I will not go. It is not good to be lazy."
But above all other obstacles was the dread of starvation in the regions
of the blest. Nor, when the dying Indian had been induced at last to
express a desire for Paradise, was it an easy matter to bring him to a
due contrition for his sins; for he would deny with indignation that he
had ever committed any. When at length, as sometimes happened, all these
difficulties gave way, and the patient had been brought to what seemed to
his instructor a fitting frame for baptism, the priest, with contentment
at his heart, brought water in a cup or in the hollow of his hand,
touched his forehead with the mystic drop, and snatched him from an
eternity of woe. But the convert, even after his baptism, did not always
manifest a satisfactory spiritual condition. "Why did you baptize that
Iroquois?" asked one of the dying neophytes, speaking of the prisoner
recently tortured; "he will get to Heaven before us, and, when he sees us
coming, he will drive us out." [ Most of the above traits are drawn from
Le Mercier's report of 1637. The rest are from Brébeuf. ]

Thus did these worthy priests, too conscientious to let these
unfortunates die in peace, follow them with benevolent persecutions to
the hour of their death.

It was clear to the Fathers, that their ministrations were valued solely
because their religion was supposed by many to be a "medicine," or charm,
efficacious against famine, disease, and death. They themselves, indeed,
firmly believed that saints and angels were always at hand with temporal
succors for the faithful. At their intercession, St. Joseph had
interposed to procure a happy delivery to a squaw in protracted pains of
childbirth; [ Brébeuf, Relation des Hurons, 1636, 89. Another woman was
delivered on touching a relic of St. Ignatius. Ibid., 90. ] and they
never doubted, that, in the hour of need, the celestial powers would
confound the unbeliever with intervention direct and manifest. At the
town of Wenrio, the people, after trying in vain all the feasts, dances,
and preposterous ceremonies by which their medicine-men sought to stop
the pest, resolved to essay the "medicine" of the French, and, to that
end, called the priests to a council. "What must we do, that your God
may take pity on us?" Brébeuf's answer was uncompromising:--

"Believe in Him; keep His commandments; abjure your faith in dreams; take
but one wife, and be true to her; give up your superstitious feasts;
renounce your assemblies of debauchery; eat no human flesh; never give
feasts to demons; and make a vow, that, if God will deliver you from this
pest, you will build a chapel to offer Him thanksgiving and praise."
[ Le Mercier, Relation des Hurons, 1637, 114, 116 (Cramoisy). ]

The terms were too hard. They would fain bargain to be let off with
building the chapel alone; but Brébeuf would bate them nothing, and the
council broke up in despair.

At Ossossané, a few miles distant, the people, in a frenzy of terror,
accepted the conditions, and promised to renounce their superstitions and
reform their manners. It was a labor of Hercules, a cleansing of Augean
stables; but the scared savages were ready to make any promise that might
stay the pestilence. One of their principal sorcerers proclaimed in a
loud voice through the streets of the town, that the God of the French
was their master, and that thenceforth all must live according to His
will. "What consolation," exclaims Le Mercier, "to see God glorified by
the lips of an imp of Satan!" [ Le Mercier, Relation des Hurons, 1637,
127, 128 (Cramoisy). ]

Their joy was short. The proclamation was on the twelfth of December.
On the twenty-first, a noted sorcerer came to Ossossané. He was of a
dwarfish, hump-backed figure,--most rare among this symmetrical
people,--with a vicious face, and a dress consisting of a torn and shabby
robe of beaver-skin. Scarcely had he arrived, when, with ten or twelve
other savages, he ensconced himself in a kennel of bark made for the
occasion. In the midst were placed several stones, heated red-hot.
On these the sorcerer threw tobacco, producing a stifling fumigation; in
the midst of which, for a full half-hour, he sang, at the top of his
throat, those boastful, yet meaningless, rhapsodies of which Indian
magical songs are composed. Then came a grand "medicine-feast"; and the
disappointed Jesuits saw plainly that the objects of their spiritual care,
unwilling to throw away any chance of cure, were bent on invoking aid
from God and the Devil at once.

The hump-backed sorcerer became a thorn in the side of the Fathers,
who more than half believed his own account of his origin. He was, he
said, not a man, but an _oki_,--a spirit, or, as the priests rendered it,
a demon,--and had dwelt with other _okies_ under the earth, when the whim
seized him to become a man. Therefore he ascended to the upper world,
in company with a female spirit. They hid beside a path, and, when they
saw a woman passing, they entered her womb. After a time they were born,
but not until the male oki had quarrelled with and strangled his female
companion, who came dead into the world. [ Le Mercier, Relation des
Hurons, 1637, 72 (Cramoisy). This "petit sorcier" is often mentioned
elsewhere. ] The character of the sorcerer seems to have comported
reasonably well with this story of his origin. He pretended to have an
absolute control over the pestilence, and his prescriptions were
scrupulously followed.

He had several conspicuous rivals, besides a host of humbler competitors.
One of these magician-doctors, who was nearly blind, made for himself a
kennel at the end of his house, where he fasted for seven days. [ See
Introduction. ] On the sixth day the spirits appeared, and, among other
revelations, told him that the disease could be frightened away by means
of images of straw, like scarecrows, placed on the tops of the houses.
Within forty-eight hours after this announcement, the roofs of
Onnentisati and the neighboring villages were covered with an army of
these effigies. The Indians tried to persuade the Jesuits to put them on
the mission-house; but the priests replied, that the cross before their
door was a better protector; and, for further security, they set another
on their roof, declaring that they would rely on it to save them from
infection. [ "Qu'en vertu de ce signe nous ne redoutions point les
demons, et esperions que Dieu preserueroit nostre petite maison de cette
maladie contagieuse."--Le Mercier, Relation des Hurons, 1637, 150. ]
The Indians, on their part, anxious that their scarecrows should do their
office well, addressed them in loud harangues and burned offerings of
tobacco to them. [ Ibid., 157. ]

There was another sorcerer, whose medical practice was so extensive, that,
unable to attend to all his patients, he sent substitutes to the
surrounding towns, first imparting to them his own mysterious power.
One of these deputies came to Ossossané while the priests were there.
The principal house was thronged with expectant savages, anxiously
waiting his arrival. A chief carried before him a kettle of mystic water,
with which the envoy sprinkled the company, [ 1 ] at the same time
fanning them with the wing of a wild turkey. Then came a grand
medicine-feast, followed by a medicine-dance of women.

[ 1 The idea seems to have been taken from the holy water of the French.
Le Mercier says that a Huron who had been to Quebec once asked him the
use of the vase of water at the door of the chapel. The priest told him
that it was "to frighten away the devils". On this, he begged earnestly
to have some of it. ]

Opinion was divided as to the nature of the pest; but the greater number
were agreed that it was a malignant oki, who came from Lake Huron. [ 1 ]
As it was of the last moment to conciliate or frighten him, no means to
these ends were neglected. Feasts were held for him, at which, to do him
honor, each guest gorged himself like a vulture. A mystic fraternity
danced with firebrands in their mouths; while other dancers wore masks,
and pretended to be hump-backed. Tobacco was burned to the Demon of the
Pest, no less than to the scarecrows which were to frighten him. A chief
climbed to the roof of a house, and shouted to the invisible monster,
"If you want flesh, go to our enemies, go to the Iroquois!"--while,
to add terror to persuasion, the crowd in the dwelling below yelled with
all the force of their lungs, and beat furiously with sticks on the walls
of bark.

[ 1 Many believed that the country was bewitched by wicked sorcerers,
one of whom, it was said, had been seen at night roaming around the
villages, vomiting fire. (Le Mercier, Relation des Hurons, 1637, 134.)
This superstition of sorcerers vomiting fire was common among the
Iroquois of New York.--Others held that a sister of Étienne Brulé caused
the evil, in revenge for the death of her brother, murdered some years
before. She was said to have been seen flying over the country,
breathing forth pestilence. ]

Besides these public efforts to stay the pestilence, the sufferers,
each for himself, had their own methods of cure, dictated by dreams or
prescribed by established usage. Thus two of the priests, entering a
house, saw a sick man crouched in a corner, while near him sat three
friends. Before each of these was placed a huge portion of food,--enough,
the witness declares, for four,--and though all were gorged to
suffocation, with starting eyeballs and distended veins, they still held
staunchly to their task, resolved at all costs to devour the whole,
in order to cure the patient, who meanwhile ceased not in feeble tones,
to praise their exertions, and implore them to persevere.

[ "En fin il leur fallut rendre gorge, ce qu'ils firent à diuerses
reprises, ne laissants pas pour cela de continuer à vuider leur
plat."--Le Mercier, Relation des Hurons, 1637, 142.--This beastly
superstition exists in some tribes at the present day. A kindred
superstition once fell under the writer's notice, in the case of a
wounded Indian, who begged of every one he met to drink a large bowl of
water, in order that he, the Indian, might be cured. ]

Turning from these eccentricities of the "noble savage" [ 1 ] to the
zealots who were toiling, according to their light, to snatch him from
the clutch of Satan, we see the irrepressible Jesuits roaming from town
to town in restless quest of subjects for baptism. In the case of adults,
they thought some little preparation essential; but their efforts to this
end, even with the aid of St. Joseph, whom they constantly invoked, [ 2 ]
were not always successful; and, cheaply as they offered salvation,
they sometimes railed to find a purchaser. With infants, however,
a simple drop of water sufficed for the transfer from a prospective Hell
to an assured Paradise. The Indians, who at first had sought baptism as
a cure, now began to regard it as a cause of death; and when the priest
entered a lodge where a sick child lay in extremity, the scowling parents
watched him with jealous distrust, lest unawares the deadly drop should
be applied. The Jesuits were equal to the emergency. Father Le Mercier
will best tell his own story.

[ 1 In the midst of these absurdities we find recorded one of the best
traits of the Indian character. At Ihonatiria, a house occupied by a
family of orphan children was burned to the ground, leaving the inmates
destitute. The villagers united to aid them. Each contributed something,
and they were soon better provided for than before. ]

[ 2 "C'est nostre refuge ordinaire en semblables necessitez, et
d'ordinaire auec tels succez, que nous auons sujet d'en benir Dieu à
iamais, qui nous fait cognoistre en cette barbarie le credit de ce
S. Patriarche aupres de son infinie misericorde."--Le Mercier, Relation
des Hurons, 1637, 153.--In the case of a woman at Onnentisati, "Dieu nous
inspira de luy vouër quelques Messes en l'honneur de S. Joseph."
The effect was prompt. In half an hour the woman was ready for baptism.
On the same page we have another subject secured to Heaven, "sans doute
par les merites du glorieux Patriarche S. Joseph." ]

"On the third of May, Father Pierre Pijart baptized at Anonatea a little
child two months old, in manifest danger of death, without being seen by
the parents, who would not give their consent. This is the device which
he used. Our sugar does wonders for us. He pretended to make the child
drink a little sugared water, and at the same time dipped a finger in it.
As the father of the infant began to suspect something, and called out to
him not to baptize it, he gave the spoon to a woman who was near, and
said to her, 'Give it to him yourself.' She approached and found the
child asleep; and at the same time Father Pijart, under pretence of
seeing if he was really asleep touched his face with his wet finger,
and baptized him. At the end of forty-eight hours he went to Heaven.

"Some days before, the missionary had used the same device (_industrie_)
for baptizing a little boy six or seven years old. His father, who was
very sick, had several times refused to receive baptism; and when asked
if he would not be glad to have his son baptized, he had answered, No.
'At least,' said Father Pijart, 'you will not object to my giving him a
little sugar.' 'No; but you must not baptize him.' The missionary gave
it to him once; then again; and at the third spoonful, before he had put
the sugar into the water, he let a drop of it fall on the child, at the
same time pronouncing the sacramental words. A little girl, who was
looking at him, cried out, 'Father, he is baptizing him!' The child's
father was much disturbed; but the missionary said to him, 'Did you not
see that I was giving him sugar?' The child died soon after; but God
showed His grace to the father, who is now in perfect health."

[ Le Mercier, Relation des Hurons, 1637, 165. Various other cases of the
kind are mentioned in the Relations. ]

That equivocal morality, lashed by the withering satire of Pascal,--a
morality built on the doctrine that all means are permissible for saving
souls from perdition, and that sin itself is no sin when its object is
the "greater glory of God,"--found far less scope in the rude wilderness
of the Hurons than among the interests, ambitions, and passions of
civilized life. Nor were these men, chosen from the purest of their
Order, personally well fitted to illustrate the capabilities of this
elastic system. Yet now and then, by the light of their own writings,
we may observe that the teachings of the school of Loyola had not been
wholly without effect in the formation of their ethics.

But when we see them, in the gloomy February of 1637, and the gloomier
months that followed, toiling on foot from one infected town to another,
wading through the sodden snow, under the bare and dripping forests,
drenched with incessant rains, till they descried at length through the
storm the clustered dwellings of some barbarous hamlet,--when we see them
entering, one after another, these wretched abodes of misery and darkness,
and all for one sole end, the baptism of the sick and dying, we may smile
at the futility of the object, but we must needs admire the self-
sacrificing zeal with which it was pursued.





Before pursuing farther these obscure, but noteworthy, scenes in the
drama of human history, it will be well to indicate, so far as there are
means of doing so, the distinctive traits of some of the chief actors.
Mention has often been made of Brébeuf,--that masculine apostle of the
Faith,--the Ajax of the mission. Nature had given him all the passions
of a vigorous manhood, and religion had crushed them, curbed them,
or tamed them to do her work,--like a dammed-up torrent, sluiced and
guided to grind and saw and weave for the good of man. Beside him,
in strange contrast, stands his co-laborer, Charles Garnier. Both were
of noble birth and gentle nurture; but here the parallel ends. Garnier's
face was beardless, though he was above thirty years old. For this he
was laughed at by his friends in Paris, but admired by the Indians,
who thought him handsome. [ "C'est pourquoi j'ai bien gagne quitter la
France, où vous me fesiez la guerre de n'avoir point de barbe; car c'est
ce qui me fait estimes beau des Sauvages."--Lettres de Garnier, MSS. ]
His constitution, bodily or mental, was by no means robust. From boyhood,
he had shown a delicate and sensitive nature, a tender conscience,
and a proneness to religious emotion. He had never gone with his
schoolmates to inns and other places of amusement, but kept his
pocket-money to give to beggars. One of his brothers relates of him,
that, seeing an obscene book, he bought and destroyed it, lest other boys
should be injured by it. He had always wished to be a Jesuit, and,
after a novitiate which is described as most edifying, he became a
professed member of the Order. The Church, indeed, absorbed the greater
part, if not the whole, of this pious family,--one brother being a
Carmelite, another a Capuchin, and a third a Jesuit, while there seems
also to have been a fourth under vows. Of Charles Garnier there remain
twenty-four letters, written at various times to his father and two of
his brothers, chiefly during his missionary life among the Hurons.
They breathe the deepest and most intense Roman Catholic piety, and a
spirit enthusiastic, yet sad, as of one renouncing all the hopes and
prizes of the world, and living for Heaven alone. The affections of his
sensitive nature, severed from earthly objects, found relief in an ardent
adoration of the Virgin Mary. With none of the bone and sinew of rugged
manhood, he entered, not only without hesitation, but with eagerness,
on a life which would have tried the boldest; and, sustained by the
spirit within him, he was more than equal to it. His fellow-missionaries
thought him a saint; and had he lived a century or two earlier, he would
perhaps have been canonized: yet, while all his life was a willing
martyrdom, one can discern, amid his admirable virtues, some slight
lingerings of mortal vanity. Thus, in three several letters, he speaks
of his great success in baptizing, and plainly intimates that he had sent
more souls to Heaven than the other Jesuits.

[ The above sketch of Garnier is drawn from various sources.
Observations du P. Henri de St. Joseph, Carme, sur son Frère le
P. Charles Garnier, MS.--Abrégé de la Vie du R. Père Charles Garnier, MS.
This unpublished sketch bears the signature of the Jesuit Ragueneau,
with the date 1652. For the opportunity of consulting it I am indebted
to Rev. Felix Martin, S. J.--Lettres du P. Charles Garnier, MSS. These
embrace his correspondence from the Huron country, and are exceedingly
characteristic and striking. There is another letter in Carayon,
Première Mission.--Garnier's family was wealthy, as well as noble.
Its members seem to have been strongly attached to each other, and the
young priest's father was greatly distressed at his departure for Canada. ]

Next appears a young man of about twenty-seven years, Joseph Marie
Chaumonot. Unlike Brébeuf and Garnier, he was of humble origin,--his
father being a vine-dresser, and his mother the daughter of a poor
village schoolmaster. At an early age they sent him to Châtillon on the
Seine, where he lived with his uncle, a priest, who taught him to speak
Latin, and awakened his religious susceptibilities, which were naturally
strong. This did not prevent him from yielding to the persuasions of one
of his companions to run off to Beaune, a town of Burgundy, where the
fugitives proposed to study music under the Fathers of the Oratory.
To provide funds for the journey, he stole a sum of about the value of a
dollar from his uncle, the priest. This act, which seems to have been a
mere peccadillo of boyish levity, determined his future career. Finding
himself in total destitution at Beaune, he wrote to his mother for money,
and received in reply an order from his father to come home. Stung with
the thought of being posted as a thief in his native village, he resolved
not to do so, but to set out forthwith on a pilgrimage to Rome; and
accordingly, tattered and penniless, he took the road for the sacred
city. Soon a conflict began within him between his misery and the pride
which forbade him to beg. The pride was forced to succumb. He begged
from door to door; slept under sheds by the wayside, or in haystacks; and
now and then found lodging and a meal at a convent. Thus, sometimes
alone, sometimes with vagabonds whom he met on the road, he made his way
through Savoy and Lombardy in a pitiable condition of destitution, filth,
and disease. At length he reached Ancona, when the thought occured to
him of visiting the Holy House of Loretto, and imploring the succor of
the Virgin Mary. Nor were his hopes disappointed. He had reached that
renowned shrine, knelt, paid his devotions, and offered his prayer, when,
as he issued from the door of the chapel, he was accosted by a young man,
whom he conjectures to have been an angel descended to his relief,
and who was probably some penitent or devotee bent on works of charity or
self-mortification. With a voice of the greatest kindness, he proffered
his aid to the wretched boy, whose appearance was alike fitted to awaken
pity and disgust. The conquering of a natural repugnance to filth,
in the interest of charity and humility, is a conspicuous virtue in most
of the Roman Catholic saints; and whatever merit may attach to it was
acquired in an extraordinary degree by the young man in question.
Apparently, he was a physician; for he not only restored the miserable
wanderer to a condition of comparative decency, but cured him of a
grievous malady, the result of neglect. Chaumonot went on his way,
thankful to his benefactor, and overflowing with an enthusiasm of
gratitude to Our Lady of Loretto.

[ "Si la moindre dame m'avoit fait rendre ce service par le dernier de
ses valets, n'aurois-je pas dus lui en rendre toutes les reconnoissances
possibles? Et si après une telle charité elle s'étoit offerte à me
servir toujours de mesme, comment aurois-je dû l'honorer, lui obéir,
l'aimer toute ma vie! Pardon, Reine des Anges et des hommes! pardon de
ce qu'après avoir reçu de vous tant de marques, par lesquelles vous
m'avez convaincu que vous m'avez adopté pour votre fils, j'ai eu
l'ingratitude pendant des années entières de me comporter encore plutôt
en esclave de Satan qu'en enfant d'une Mère Vierge. O que vous êtes
bonne et charitable! puisque quelques obstacles que mes péchés ayent pu
mettre à vos graces, vous n'avez jamais cessé de m'attirer au bien;
jusque là que vous m'avez fait admettre dans la Sainte Compagnie de Jésus,
votre fils."--Chaumonot, Vie, 20. The above is from the very curious
autobiography written by Chaumonot, at the command of his Superior,
in 1688. The original manuscript is at the Hôtel Dieu of Quebec.
Mr. Shea has printed it. ]

As he journeyed towards Rome, an old burgher, at whose door he had begged,
employed him as a servant. He soon became known to a Jesuit, to whom he
had confessed himself in Latin; and as his acquirements were considerable
for his years, he was eventually employed as teacher of a low class in
one of the Jesuit schools. Nature had inclined him to a life of
devotion. He would fain be a hermit, and, to that end, practised eating
green ears of wheat; but, finding he could not swallow them, conceived
that he had mistaken his vocation. Then a strong desire grew up within
him to become a Récollet, a Capuchin, or, above all, a Jesuit; and at
length the wish of his heart was answered. At the age of twenty-one,
he was admitted to the Jesuit novitiate. [ 1 ] Soon after its close,
a small duodecimo volume was placed in his hands. It was a Relation of
the Canadian mission, and contained one of those narratives of Brébeuf
which have been often cited in the preceding pages. Its effect was
immediate. Burning to share those glorious toils, the young priest asked
to be sent to Canada; and his request was granted.

[ 1 His age, when he left his uncle, the priest, is not mentioned.
But he must have been a mere child; for, at the end of his novitiate,
he had forgotten his native language, and was forced to learn it a second

"Jamais y eut-il homme sur terre plus obligé que moi à la Sainte Famille
de Jésus, de Marie et de Joseph! Marie en me guérissant de ma vilaine
galle ou teigne, me délivra d'une infinité de peines et d'incommodités
corporelles, que cette hideuse maladie qui me rongeoit m'avoit causé.
Joseph m'ayant obtenu la grace d'être incorporé à un corps aussi saint
qu'est celui des Jésuites, m'a preservé d'une infinité de misères
spirituelles, de tentations très dangereuses et de péchés très énormes.
Jésus n'ayant pas permis que j'entrasse dans aucun autre ordre qu'en
celui qu'il honore tout à la fois de son beau nom, de sa douce présence
et de sa protection spéciale. O Jésus! O Marie! O Joseph! qui méritoit
moins que moi vos divines faveurs, et envers qui avez vous été plus
prodigue?"--Chaumonot, Vie, 37. ]

Before embarking, he set out with the Jesuit Poncet, who was also
destined for Canada, on a pilgrimage from Rome to the shrine of Our Lady
of Loretto. They journeyed on foot, begging alms by the way. Chaumonot
was soon seized with a pain in the knee, so violent that it seemed
impossible to proceed. At San Severino, where they lodged with the
Barnabites, he bethought him of asking the intercession of a certain poor
woman of that place, who had died some time before with the reputation of
sanctity. Accordingly he addressed to her his prayer, promising to
publish her fame on every possible occasion, if she would obtain his cure
from God. [ "Je me recommandai à elle en lui promettant de la faire
connoître dans toutes les occasions que j'en aurois jamais, si elle
vn'obtenoit de Dieu ma guérison."--Chaumonot, Vie, 46. ] The
intercession was accepted; the offending limb became sound again, and the
two pilgrims pursued their journey. They reached Loretto, and, kneeling
before the Queen of Heaven, implored her favor and aid; while Chaumonot,
overflowing with devotion to this celestial mistress of his heart,
conceived the purpose of building in Canada a chapel to her honor,
after the exact model of the Holy House of Loretto. They soon afterwards
embarked together, and arrived among the Hurons early in the autumn of

Noël Chabanel came later to the mission; for he did not reach the Huron
country until 1643. He detested the Indian life,--the smoke, the vermin,
the filthy food, the impossibility of privacy. He could not study by the
smoky lodge-fire, among the noisy crowd of men and squaws, with their
dogs, and their restless, screeching children. He had a natural
inaptitude to learning the language, and labored at it for five years
with scarcely a sign of progress. The Devil whispered a suggestion into
his ear: Let him procure his release from these barren and revolting
toils, and return to France, where congenial and useful employments
awaited him. Chabanel refused to listen; and when the temptation still
beset him, he bound himself by a solemn vow to remain in Canada to the
day of his death. [ Abrégé de la Vie du Père Noël Chabanel, MS. This
anonymous paper bears the signature of Ragueneau, in attestation of its
truth. See also Ragueneau, Relation, 1650, 17, 18. Chabanel's vow is
here given verbatim. ]

Isaac Jogues was of a character not unlike Garnier. Nature had given him
no especial force of intellect or constitutional energy, yet the man was
indomitable and irrepressible, as his history will show. We have but few
means of characterizing the remaining priests of the mission otherwise
than as their traits appear on the field of their labors. Theirs was no
faith of abstractions and generalities. For them, heaven was very near
to earth, touching and mingling with it at many points. On high, God the
Father sat enthroned: and, nearer to human sympathies, Divinity incarnate
in the Son, with the benign form of his immaculate mother, and her spouse,
St. Joseph, the chosen patron of New France. Interceding saints and
departed friends bore to the throne of grace the petitions of those yet
lingering in mortal bondage, and formed an ascending chain from earth to

These priests lived in an atmosphere of supernaturalism. Every day had
its miracle. Divine power declared itself in action immediate and direct,
controlling, guiding, or reversing the laws of Nature. The missionaries
did not reject the ordinary cures for disease or wounds; but they relied
far more on a prayer to the Virgin, a vow to St. Joseph, or the promise of
a _neuvaine_, or nine days' devotion, to some other celestial personage;
while the touch of a fragment of a tooth or bone of some departed saint
was of sovereign efficacy to cure sickness, solace pain, or relieve a
suffering squaw in the throes of childbirth. Once, Chaumonot, having a
headache, remembered to have heard of a sick man who regained his health
by commending his case to St. Ignatius, and at the same time putting a
medal stamped with his image into his mouth. Accordingly he tried a
similar experiment, putting into his mouth a medal bearing a
representation of the Holy Family, which was the object of his especial
devotion. The next morning found him cured. [ Chaumonot, Vie, 73. ]

The relation between this world and the next was sometimes of a nature
curiously intimate. Thus, when Chaumonot heard of Garnier's death,
he immediately addressed his departed colleague, and promised him the
benefit of all the good works which he, Chaumonot, might perform during
the next week, provided the defunct missionary would make him heir to his
knowledge of the Huron tongue. [ 1 ] And he ascribed to the deceased
Garnier's influence the mastery of that language which he afterwards

[ 1 "Je n'eus pas plutôt appris sa glorieuse mort, que je lui promis
tout ce que je ferois de bien pendant huit jours, à condition qu'il me
feroit son héritier dans la connoissance parfaite qu'il avoit du
Huron."--Chaumonot, Vie, 61. ]

The efforts of the missionaries for the conversion of the savages were
powerfully seconded from the other world, and the refractory subject who
was deaf to human persuasions softened before the superhuman agencies
which the priest invoked to his aid.

[ As these may be supposed to be exploded ideas of the past, the writer
may recall an incident of his youth, while spending a few days in the
convent of the Passionists, near the Coliseum at Rome. These worthy
monks, after using a variety of arguments for his conversion, expressed
the hope that a miraculous interposition would be vouchsafed to that end,
and that the Virgin would manifest herself to him in a nocturnal vision.
To this end they gave him a small brass medal, stamped with her image,
to be worn at his neck, while they were to repeat a certain number of
Aves and Paters, in which he was urgently invited to join; as the result
of which, it was hoped the Virgin would appear on the same night.
No vision, however, occurred. ]

It is scarcely necessary to add, that signs and voices from another world,
visitations from Hell and visions from Heaven, were incidents of no rare
occurrence in the lives of these ardent apostles. To Brébeuf, whose deep
nature, like a furnace white hot, glowed with the still intensity of his
enthusiasm, they were especially frequent. Demons in troops appeared
before him, sometimes in the guise of men, sometimes as bears, wolves,
or wildcats. He called on God, and the apparitions vanished. Death,
like a skeleton, sometimes menaced him, and once, as he faced it with an
unquailing eye, it fell powerless at his feet. A demon, in the form of a
woman, assailed him with the temptation which beset St. Benedict among
the rocks of Subiaco; but Brébeuf signed the cross, and the infernal
siren melted into air. He saw the vision of a vast and gorgeous palace;
and a miraculous voice assured him that such was to be the reward of
those who dwelt in savage hovels for the cause of God. Angels appeared
to him; and, more than once, St. Joseph and the Virgin were visibly
present before his sight. Once, when he was among the Neutral Nation,
in the winter of 1640, he beheld the ominous apparition of a great cross
slowly approaching from the quarter where lay the country of the
Iroquois. He told the vision to his comrades. "What was it like?
How large was it?" they eagerly demanded. "Large enough," replied the
priest, "to crucify us all." [ 1 ] To explain such phenomena is the
province of psychology, and not of history. Their occurrence is no
matter of surprise, and it would be superfluous to doubt that they were
recounted in good faith, and with a full belief in their reality.

[ 1 Quelques Remarques sur la Vie du Père Jean de Brébeuf, MS. On the
margin of this paper, opposite several of the statements repeated above,
are the words, signed by Ragueneau, "Ex ipsius autographo," indicating
that the statements were made in writing by Brébeuf himself.

Still other visions are recorded by Chaumonot as occurring to Brébeuf,
when they were together in the Neutral country. See also the long notice
of Brébeuf, written by his colleague, Ragueneau, in the Relation of 1649;
and Tanner, Societas Jesu Militans, 533. ]

In these enthusiasts we shall find striking examples of one of the morbid
forces of human nature; yet in candor let us do honor to what was genuine
in them,--that principle of self-abnegation which is the life of true
religion, and which is vital no less to the highest forms of heroism.





The town of Ossossané, or Rochelle, stood, as we have seen, on the
borders of Lake Huron, at the skirts of a gloomy wilderness of pine.
Thither, in May, 1637, repaired Father Pijart, to found, in this, one of
the largest of the Huron towns, the new mission of the Immaculate
Conception. [ The doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin,
recently sanctioned by the Pope, has long been a favorite tenet of the
Jesuits. ] The Indians had promised Brébeuf to build a house for the
black-robes, and Pijart found the work in progress. There were at this
time about fifty dwellings in the town, each containing eight or ten
families. The quadrangular fort already alluded to had now been
completed by the Indians, under the instruction of the priests.
[ Lettres de Garnier, MSS. It was of upright pickets, ten feet high
with flanking towers at two angles. ]

The new mission-house was about seventy feet in length. No sooner had
the savage workmen secured the bark covering on its top and sides than
the priests took possession, and began their preparations for a notable
ceremony. At the farther end they made an altar, and hung such
decorations as they had on the rough walls of bark throughout half the
length of the structure. This formed their chapel. On the altar was a
crucifix, with vessels and ornaments of shining metal; while above hung
several pictures,--among them a painting of Christ, and another of the
Virgin, both of life-size. There was also a representation of the Last
Judgment, wherein dragons and serpents might be seen feasting on the
entrails of the wicked, while demons scourged them into the flames of
Hell. The entrance was adorned with a quantity of tinsel, together with
green boughs skilfully disposed.

[ "Nostre Chapelle estoit extraordinairement bien ornée, . . nous auions
dressé vn portique entortillé de feüillage, meslé d'oripeau, en vn mot
nous auions estallé tout ce que vostre R. nous a enuoié de beau," etc.,
etc.--Le Mercier, Relation des Hurons, 1637, 175, 176.--In his Relation
of the next year he recurs to the subject, and describes the pictures
displayed on this memorable occasion.--Relation des Hurons, 1638, 33. ]

Never before were such splendors seen in the land of the Hurons. Crowds
gathered from afar, and gazed in awe and admiration at the marvels of the
sanctuary. A woman came from a distant town to behold it, and, tremulous
between curiosity and fear, thrust her head into the mysterious recess,
declaring that she would see it, though the look should cost her life.
[ Ibid., 1637, 176. ]

One is forced to wonder at, if not to admire, the energy with which these
priests and their scarcely less zealous attendants [ 1 ] toiled to carry
their pictures and ornaments through the most arduous of journeys,
where the traveller was often famished from the sheer difficulty of
transporting provisions.

[ 1 The Jesuits on these distant missions were usually attended by
followers who had taken no vows, and could leave their service at will,
but whose motives were religious, and not mercenary. Probably this was
the character of their attendants in the present case. They were known
as _donnés_, or "given men." It appears from a letter of the Jesuit
Du Peron, that twelve hired laborers were soon after sent up to the
mission. ]

A great event had called forth all this preparation. Of the many
baptisms achieved by the Fathers in the course of their indefatigable
ministry, the subjects had all been infants, or adults at the point of
death; but at length a Huron, in full health and manhood, respected and
influential in his tribe, had been won over to the Faith, and was now to
be baptized with solemn ceremonial, in the chapel thus gorgeously
adorned. It was a strange scene. Indians were there in throngs, and the
house was closely packed: warriors, old and young, glistening in grease
and sunflower-oil, with uncouth locks, a trifle less coarse than a
horse's mane, and faces perhaps smeared with paint in honor of the
occasion; wenches in gay attire; hags muffled in a filthy discarded
deer-skin, their leathery visages corrugated with age and malice, and
their hard, glittering eyes riveted on the spectacle before them.
The priests, no longer in their daily garb of black, but radiant in their
surplices, the genuflections, the tinkling of the bell, the swinging of
the censer, the sweet odors so unlike the fumes of the smoky lodge-fires,
the mysterious elevation of the Host, (for a mass followed the baptism,)
and the agitation of the neophyte, whose Indian imperturbability fairly
deserted him,--all these combined to produce on the minds of the savage
beholders an impression that seemed to promise a rich harvest for the
Faith. To the Jesuits it was a day of triumph and of hope. The ice had
been broken; the wedge had entered; light had dawned at last on the long
night of heathendom. But there was one feature of the situation which in
their rejoicing they overlooked.

The Devil had taken alarm. He had borne with reasonable composure the
loss of individual souls snatched from him by former baptisms; but here
was a convert whose example and influence threatened to shake his Huron
empire to its very foundation. In fury and fear, he rose to the conflict,
and put forth all his malice and all his hellish ingenuity. Such,
at least, is the explanation given by the Jesuits of the scenes that
followed. [ 1 ] Whether accepting it or not, let us examine the
circumstances which gave rise to it.

[ 1 Several of the Jesuits allude to this supposed excitement among the
tenants of the nether world. Thus, Le Mercier says, "Le Diable se
sentoit pressé de prés, il ne pouuoit supporter le Baptesme solennel de
quelques Sauuages des plus signalez."--Relation des Hurons, 1638, 33.--
Several other baptisms of less note followed that above described.
Garnier, writing to his brother, repeatedly alludes to the alarm excited
in Hell by the recent successes of the mission, and adds,--"Vous pouvez
juger quelle consolation nous étoit-ce de voir le diable s'armer contre
nous et se servir de ses esclaves pour nous attaquer et tâcher de nous
perdre en haine de J. C." ]

The mysterious strangers, garbed in black, who of late years had made
their abode among them, from motives past finding out, marvellous in
knowledge, careless of life, had awakened in the breasts of the Hurons
mingled emotions of wonder, perplexity, fear, respect, and awe. From the
first, they had held them answerable for the changes of the weather,
commending them when the crops were abundant, and upbraiding them in
times of scarcity. They thought them mighty magicians, masters of life
and death; and they came to them for spells, sometimes to destroy their
enemies, and sometimes to kill grasshoppers. And now it was whispered
abroad that it was they who had bewitched the nation, and caused the pest
which threatened to exterminate it.

It was Isaac Jogues who first heard this ominous rumor, at the town of
Onnentisati, and it proceeded from the dwarfish sorcerer already
mentioned, who boasted himself a devil incarnate. The slander spread
fast and far. Their friends looked at them askance; their enemies
clamored for their lives. Some said that they concealed in their houses
a corpse, which infected the country,--a perverted notion, derived from
some half-instructed neophyte, concerning the body of Christ in the
Eucharist. Others ascribed the evil to a serpent, others to a spotted
frog, others to a demon which the priests were supposed to carry in the
barrel of a gun. Others again gave out that they had pricked an infant
to death with awls in the forest, in order to kill the Huron children by
magic. "Perhaps," observes Father Le Mercier, "the Devil was enraged
because we had placed a great many of these little innocents in Heaven."

[ "Le diable enrageoit peutestre de ce que nous avions placé dans le ciel
quantité de ces petits innocens."--Le Mercier, Relation des Hurons, 1638,
12 (Cramoisy). ]

The picture of the Last Judgment became an object of the utmost terror.
It was regarded as a charm. The dragons and serpents were supposed to be
the demons of the pest, and the sinners whom they were so busily
devouring to represent its victims. On the top of a spruce-tree, near
their house at Ihonatiria, the priests had fastened a small streamer,
to show the direction of the wind. This, too, was taken for a charm,
throwing off disease and death to all quarters. The clock, once an
object of harmless wonder, now excited the wildest alarm; and the Jesuits
were forced to stop it, since, when it struck, it was supposed to sound
the signal of death. At sunset, one would have seen knots of Indians,
their faces dark with dejection and terror, listening to the measured
sounds which issued from within the neighboring house of the mission,
where, with bolted doors, the priests were singing litanies, mistaken for
incantations by the awe-struck savages.

Had the objects of these charges been Indians, their term of life would
have been very short. The blow of a hatchet, stealthily struck in the
dusky entrance of a lodge, would have promptly avenged the victims of
their sorcery, and delivered the country from peril. But the priests
inspired a strange awe. Nocturnal councils were held; their death was
decreed; and, as they walked their rounds, whispering groups of children
gazed after them as men doomed to die. But who should be the executioner?
They were reviled and upbraided. The Indian boys threw sticks at them as
they passed, and then ran behind the houses. When they entered one of
these pestiferous dens, this impish crew clambered on the roof, to pelt
them with snowballs through the smoke-holes. The old squaw who crouched
by the fire scowled on them with mingled anger and fear, and cried out,
"Begone! there are no sick ones here." The invalids wrapped their heads
in their blankets; and when the priest accosted some dejected warrior,
the savage looked gloomily on the ground, and answered not a word.

Yet nothing could divert the Jesuits from their ceaseless quest of dying
subjects for baptism, and above all of dying children. They penetrated
every house in turn. When, through the thin walls of bark, they heard
the wail of a sick infant, no menace and no insult could repel them from
the threshold. They pushed boldly in, asked to buy some trifle, spoke of
late news of Iroquois forays,--of anything, in short, except the
pestilence and the sick child; conversed for a while till suspicion was
partially lulled to sleep, and then, pretending to observe the sufferer
for the first time, approached it, felt its pulse, and asked of its
health. Now, while apparently fanning the heated brow, the dexterous
visitor touched it with a corner of his handkerchief, which he had
previously dipped in water, murmured the baptismal words with motionless
lips, and snatched another soul from the fangs of the "Infernal Wolf."
[ 1 ] Thus, with the patience of saints, the courage of heroes, and an
intent truly charitable, did the Fathers put forth a nimble-fingered
adroitness that would have done credit to the profession of which the
function is less to dispense the treasures of another world than to grasp
those which pertain to this.

[ 1 _Ce loup infernal_ is a title often bestowed in the Relations on the
Devil. The above details are gathered from the narratives of Brébeuf,
Le Mercier, and Lalemant, and letters, published and unpublished, of
several other Jesuits.

In another case, an Indian girl was carrying on her back a sick child,
two months old. Two Jesuits approached, and while one of them amused the
girl with his rosary, "l'autre le baptise lestement; le pauure petit
n'attendoit que ceste faueur du Ciel pour s'y enuoler." ]

The Huron chiefs were summoned to a great council, to discuss the state
of the nation. The crisis demanded all their wisdom; for, while the
continued ravages of disease threatened them with annihilation, the
Iroquois scalping-parties infested the outskirts of their towns, and
murdered them in their fields and forests. The assembly met in August,
1637; and the Jesuits, knowing their deep stake in its deliberations,
failed not to be present, with a liberal gift of wampum, to show their
sympathy in the public calamities. In private, they sought to gain the
good-will of the deputies, one by one; but though they were successful in
some cases, the result on the whole was far from hopeful.

In the intervals of the council, Brébeuf discoursed to the crowd of
chiefs on the wonders of the visible heavens,--the sun, the moon, the
stars, and the planets. They were inclined to believe what he told them;
for he had lately, to their great amazement, accurately predicted an
eclipse. From the fires above he passed to the fires beneath, till the
listeners stood aghast at his hideous pictures of the flames of
perdition,--the only species of Christian instruction which produced any
perceptible effect on this unpromising auditory.

The council opened on the evening of the fourth of August, with all the
usual ceremonies; and the night was spent in discussing questions of
treaties and alliances, with a deliberation and good sense which the
Jesuits could not help admiring. [ Le Mercier, Relation des Hurons, 1638,
38. ] A few days after, the assembly took up the more exciting question
of the epidemic and its causes. Deputies from three of the four Huron
nations were present, each deputation sitting apart. The Jesuits were
seated with the Nation of the Bear, in whose towns their missions were
established. Like all important councils, the session was held at night.
It was a strange scene. The light of the fires flickered aloft into the
smoky vault and among the soot-begrimed rafters of the great council-
house, [ 1 ] and cast an uncertain gleam on the wild and dejected throng
that filled the platforms and the floor. "I think I never saw anything
more lugubrious," writes Le Mercier: "they looked at each other like so
many corpses, or like men who already feel the terror of death. When
they spoke, it was only with sighs, each reckoning up the sick and dead
of his own family. All this was to excite each other to vomit poison
against us."

[ 1 It must have been the house of a chief. The Hurons, unlike some
other tribes, had no houses set apart for public occasions. ]

A grisly old chief, named Ontitarac, withered with age and stone-blind,
but renowned in past years for eloquence and counsel, opened the debate
in a loud, though tremulous voice. First he saluted each of the three
nations present, then each of the chiefs in turn,--congratulated them
that all were there assembled to deliberate on a subject of the last
importance to the public welfare, and exhorted them to give it a mature
and calm consideration. Next rose the chief whose office it was to
preside over the Feast of the Dead. He painted in dismal colors the
woful condition of the country, and ended with charging it all upon the
sorceries of the Jesuits. Another old chief followed him. "My brothers,"
he said, "you know well that I am a war-chief, and very rarely speak
except in councils of war; but I am compelled to speak now, since nearly
all the other chiefs are dead, and I must utter what is in my heart
before I follow them to the grave. Only two of my family are left alive,
and perhaps even these will not long escape the fury of the pest.
I have seen other diseases ravaging the country, but nothing that could
compare with this. In two or three moons we saw their end: but now we
have suffered for a year and more, and yet the evil does not abate.
And what is worst of all, we have not yet discovered its source."
Then, with words of studied moderation, alternating with bursts of angry
invective, he proceeded to accuse the Jesuits of causing, by their
sorceries, the unparalleled calamities that afflicted them; and in
support of his charge he adduced a prodigious mass of evidence. When he
had spent his eloquence, Brébeuf rose to reply, and in a few words
exposed the absurdities of his statements; whereupon another accuser
brought a new array of charges. A clamor soon arose from the whole
assembly, and they called upon Brébeuf with one voice to give up a
certain charmed cloth which was the cause of their miseries. In vain the
missionary protested that he had no such cloth. The clamor increased.

"If you will not believe me," said Brébeuf, "go to our house; search
everywhere; and if you are not sure which is the charm, take all our
clothing and all our cloth, and throw them into the lake."

"Sorcerers always talk in that way," was the reply.

"Then what will you have me say?" demanded Brébeuf.

"Tell us the cause of the pest."

Brébeuf replied to the best of his power, mingling his explanations with
instructions in Christian doctrine and exhortations to embrace the Faith.
He was continually interrupted; and the old chief, Ontitarac, still
called upon him to produce the charmed cloth. Thus the debate continued
till after midnight, when several of the assembly, seeing no prospect of
a termination, fell asleep, and others went away. One old chief, as he
passed out said to Brébeuf, "If some young man should split your head,
we should have nothing to say." The priest still continued to harangue
the diminished conclave on the necessity of obeying God and the danger of
offending Him, when the chief of Ossossané called out impatiently,
"What sort of men are these? They are always saying the same thing,
and repeating the same words a hundred times. They are never done with
telling us about their _Oki_, and what he demands and what he forbids,
and Paradise and Hell." [ The above account of the council is drawn from
Le Mercier, Relation des Hurons, 1638, Chap. II. See also Bressani,
Relation Abrégée, 163. ]

"Here was the end of this miserable council," writes Le Mercier; . . .
"and if less evil came of it than was designed, we owe it, after God,
to the Most Holy Virgin, to whom we had made a vow of nine masses in
honor of her immaculate conception."

The Fathers had escaped for the time; but they were still in deadly
peril. They had taken pains to secure friends in private, and there were
those who were attached to their interests; yet none dared openly take
their part. The few converts they had lately made came to them in secret,
and warned them that their death was determined upon. Their house was
set on fire; in public, every face was averted from them; and a new
council was called to pronounce the decree of death. They appeared
before it with a front of such unflinching assurance, that their judges,

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