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  • 1867
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The emergency called, not for chivalry, but for woodcraft; and Maisonneuve ordered his men to take shelter, like their assailants, behind trees. They stood their ground resolutely for a long time; but the Iroquois pressed them close, three of their number were killed, others were wounded, and their ammunition began to fail. Their only alternatives were destruction or retreat; and to retreat was not easy. The order was given. Though steady at first, the men soon became confused, and over-eager to escape the galling fire which the Iroquois sent after them. Maisonneuve directed them towards a sledge-track which had been used in dragging timber for building the hospital, and where the snow was firm beneath the foot. He himself remained to the last, encouraging his followers and aiding the wounded to escape. The French, as they struggled through the snow, faced about from time to time, and fired back to check the pursuit; but no sooner had they reached the sledge-track than they gave way to their terror, and ran in a body for the fort. Those within, seeing this confused rush of men from the distance, mistook them for the enemy; and an over-zealous soldier touched the match to a cannon which had been pointed to rake the sledge-track. Had not the piece missed fire, from dampness of the priming, he would have done more execution at one shot than the Iroquois in all the fight of that morning.

[ 1 Vimont, Relation, 1644, 42. Dollier de Casson says two hundred, but it is usually safe in these cases to accept the smaller number, and Vimont founds his statement on the information of an escaped prisoner. ]

Maisonneuve was left alone, retreating backwards down the track, and holding his pursuers in check, with a pistol in each hand. They might easily have shot him; but, recognizing him as the commander of the French, they were bent on taking him alive. Their chief coveted this honor for himself, and his followers held aloof to give him the opportunity. He pressed close upon Maisonneuve, who snapped a pistol at him, which missed fire. The Iroquois, who had ducked to avoid the shot, rose erect, and sprang forward to seize him, when Maisonneuve, with his remaining pistol, shot him dead. Then ensued a curious spectacle, not infrequent in Indian battles. The Iroquois seemed to forget their enemy, in their anxiety to secure and carry off the body of their chief; and the French commander continued his retreat unmolested, till he was safe under the cannon of the fort. From that day, he was a hero in the eyes of his men.

[ Dollier de Casson, MS. Vimont’s mention of the affair is brief. He says that two Frenchmen were made prisoners, and burned. Belmont, Histoire du Canada, 1645, gives a succinct account of the fight, and indicates the scene of it. It seems to have been a little below the site of the Place d’Armes, on which stands the great Parish Church of Villemarie, commonly known to tourists as the “Cathedral.” Faillon thinks that Maisonneuve’s exploit was achieved on this very spot.

Marguerite Bourgeoys also describes the affair in her unpublished writings. ]

Quebec and Montreal are happy in their founders. Samuel de Champlain and Chomedey de Maisonneuve are among the names that shine with a fair and honest lustre on the infancy of nations.


1644, 1645.



In the damp and freshness of a midsummer morning, when the sun had not yet risen, but when the river and the sky were red with the glory of approaching day, the inmates of the fort at Three Rivers were roused by a tumult of joyous and exultant voices. They thronged to the shore,– priests, soldiers, traders, and officers, mingled with warriors and shrill-voiced squaws from Huron and Algonquin camps in the neighboring forest. Close at hand they saw twelve or fifteen canoes slowly drifting down the current of the St. Lawrence, manned by eighty young Indians, all singing their songs of victory, and striking their paddles against the edges of their bark vessels in cadence with their voices. Among them three Iroquois prisoners stood upright, singing loud and defiantly, as men not fearing torture or death.

A few days before, these young warriors, in part Huron and in part Algonquin, had gone out on the war-path to the River Richelieu, where they had presently found themselves entangled among several bands of Iroquois. They withdrew in the night, after a battle in the dark with an Iroquois canoe, and, as they approached Fort Richelieu, had the good fortune to discover ten of their enemy ambuscaded in a clump of bushes and fallen trees, watching to waylay some of the soldiers on their morning visit to the fishing-nets in the river hard by. They captured three of them, and carried them back in triumph.

The victors landed amid screams of exultation. Two of the prisoners were assigned to the Hurons, and the third to the Algonquins, who immediately took him to their lodges near the fort at Three Rivers, and began the usual “caress,” by burning his feet with red-hot stones, and cutting off his fingers. Champfleur, the commandant, went out to them with urgent remonstrances, and at length prevailed on them to leave their victim without further injury, until Montmagny, the Governor, should arrive. He came with all dispatch,–not wholly from a motive of humanity, but partly in the hope that the three captives might be made instrumental in concluding a peace with their countrymen.

A council was held in the fort at Three Rivers. Montmagny made valuable presents to the Algonquins and the Hurons, to induce them to place the prisoners in his hands. The Algonquins complied; and the unfortunate Iroquois, gashed, maimed, and scorched, was given up to the French, who treated him with the greatest kindness. But neither the Governor’s gifts nor his eloquence could persuade the Hurons to follow the example of their allies; and they departed for their own country with their two captives,–promising, however, not to burn them, but to use them for negotiations of peace. With this pledge, scarcely worth the breath that uttered it, Montmagny was forced to content himself. [ Vimont, Relation, 1644, 45-49. ]

Thus it appeared that the fortune of war did not always smile even on the Iroquois. Indeed, if there is faith in Indian tradition, there had been a time, scarcely half a century past, when the Mohawks, perhaps the fiercest and haughtiest of the confederate nations, had been nearly destroyed by the Algonquins, whom they now held in contempt. [ 1 ] This people, whose inferiority arose chiefly from the want of that compact organization in which lay the strength of the Iroquois, had not lost their ancient warlike spirit; and they had one champion of whom even the audacious confederates stood in awe. His name was Piskaret; and he dwelt on that great island in the Ottawa of which Le Borgne was chief. He had lately turned Christian, in the hope of French favor and countenance,–always useful to an ambitious Indian,–and perhaps, too, with an eye to the gun and powder-horn which formed the earthly reward of the convert. [ 2 ] Tradition tells marvellous stories of his exploits. Once, it is said, he entered an Iroquois town on a dark night. His first care was to seek out a hiding-place, and he soon found one in the midst of a large wood-pile. [ 3 ] Next he crept into a lodge, and, finding the inmates asleep, killed them with his war-club, took their scalps, and quietly withdrew to the retreat he had prepared. In the morning a howl of lamentation and fury rose from the astonished villagers. They ranged the fields and forests in vain pursuit of the mysterious enemy, who remained all day in the wood-pile, whence, at midnight, he came forth and repeated his former exploit. On the third night, every family placed its sentinels; and Piskaret, stealthily creeping from lodge to lodge, and reconnoitring each through crevices in the bark, saw watchers everywhere. At length he descried a sentinel who had fallen asleep near the entrance of a lodge, though his companion at the other end was still awake and vigilant. He pushed aside the sheet of bark that served as a door, struck the sleeper a deadly blow, yelled his war-cry, and fled like the wind. All the village swarmed out in furious chase; but Piskaret was the swiftest runner of his time, and easily kept in advance of his pursuers. When daylight came, he showed himself from time to time to lure them on, then yelled defiance, and distanced them again. At night, all but six had given over the chase; and even these, exhausted as they were, had begun to despair. Piskaret, seeing a hollow tree, crept into it like a bear, and hid himself; while the Iroquois, losing his traces in the dark, lay down to sleep near by. At midnight he emerged from his retreat, stealthily approached his slumbering enemies, nimbly brained them all with his war-club, and then, burdened with a goodly bundle of scalps, journeyed homeward in triumph. [ 4 ]

[ 1 Relation, 1660, 6 (anonymous).

Both Parrot and La Potherie recount traditions of the ancient superiority of the Algonquins over the Iroquois, who formerly, it is said, dwelt near Montreal and Three Rivers, whence the Algonquins expelled them. They withdrew, first to the neighborhood of Lake Erie, then to that of Lake Ontario, their historic seat. There is much to support the conjecture that the Indians found by Cartier at Montreal in 1535 were Iroquois (See “Pioneers of France,” 189.) That they belonged to the same family of tribes is certain. For the traditions alluded to, see Perrot, 9, 12, 79, and La Potherie, I. 288-295. ]

[ 2 “Simon Pieskaret . . . n’estoit Chrestien qu’en apparence et par police.”–Lalemant, Relation, 1647, 68.–He afterwards became a convert in earnest. ]

[ 3 Both the Iroquois and the Hurons collected great quantities of wood in their villages in the autumn. ]

[ 4 This story is told by La Potherie, I. 299, and, more briefly, by Perrot, 107. La Potherie, writing more than half a century after the time in question, represents the Iroquois as habitually in awe of the Algonquins. In this all the contemporary writers contradict him. ]

This is but one of several stories that tradition has preserved of his exploits; and, with all reasonable allowances, it is certain that the crafty and valiant Algonquin was the model of an Indian warrior. That which follows rests on a far safer basis.

Early in the spring of 1645, Piskaret, with six other converted Indians, some of them better Christians than he, set out on a war-party, and, after dragging their canoes over the frozen St. Lawrence, launched them on the open stream of the Richelieu. They ascended to Lake Champlain, and hid themselves in the leafless forests of a large island, watching patiently for their human prey. One day they heard a distant shot. “Come, friends,” said Piskaret, “let us get our dinner: perhaps it will be the last, for we must dine before we run.” Having dined to their contentment, the philosophic warriors prepared for action. One of them went to reconnoitre, and soon reported that two canoes full of Iroquois were approaching the island. Piskaret and his followers crouched in the bushes at the point for which the canoes were making, and, as the foremost drew near, each chose his mark, and fired with such good effect that, of seven warriors, all but one were killed. The survivor jumped overboard, and swam for the other canoe, where he was taken in. It now contained eight Iroquois, who, far from attempting to escape, paddled in haste for a distant part of the shore, in order to land, give battle, and avenge their slain comrades. But the Algonquins, running through the woods, reached the landing before them, and, as one of them rose to fire, they shot him. In his fall he overset the canoe. The water was shallow, and the submerged warriors, presently finding foothold, waded towards the shore, and made desperate fight. The Algonquins had the advantage of position, and used it so well, that they killed all but three of their enemies, and captured two of the survivors. Next they sought out the bodies, carefully scalped them, and set out in triumph on their return. To the credit of their Jesuit teachers, they treated their prisoners with a forbearance hitherto without example. One of them, who was defiant and abusive, received a blow to silence him; but no further indignity was offered to either.

[ According to Marie de l’Incarnation, Lettre, 14 Sept., 1645, Piskaret was for torturing the captives; but a convert, named Bernard by the French, protested against it. ]

As the successful warriors approached the little mission settlement of Sillery, immediately above Quebec, they raised their song of triumph, and beat time with their paddles on the edges of their canoes; while, from eleven poles raised aloft, eleven fresh scalps fluttered in the wind. The Father Jesuit and all his flock were gathered on the strand to welcome them. The Indians fired their guns, and screeched in jubilation; one Jean Baptiste, a Christian chief of Sillery, made a speech from the shore; Piskaret replied, standing upright in his canoe; and, to crown the occasion, a squad of soldiers, marching in haste from Quebec, fired a salute of musketry, to the boundless delight of the Indians. Much to the surprise of the two captives, there was no running of the gantlet, no gnawing off of finger-nails or cutting off of fingers; but the scalps were hung, like little flags, over the entrances of the lodges, and all Sillery betook itself to feasting and rejoicing. [ Vimont, Relation, 1645, 19-21. ] One old woman, indeed, came to the Jesuit with a pathetic appeal: “Oh, my Father! let me caress these prisoners a little: they have killed, burned, and eaten my father, my husband, and my children.” But the missionary, answered with a lecture on the duty of forgiveness. [ Vimont, Relation, 1645, 21, 22. ]

On the next day, Montmagny came to Sillery, and there was a grand council in the house of the Jesuits. Piskaret, in a solemn harangue, delivered his captives to the Governor, who replied with a speech of compliment and an ample gift. The two Iroquois were present, seated with a seeming imperturbability, but great anxiety of heart; and when at length they comprehended that their lives were safe, one of them, a man of great size and symmetry, rose and addressed Montmagny:–

“Onontio, [ 1 ] I am saved from the fire; my body is delivered from death. Onontio, you have given me my life. I thank you for it. I will never forget it. All my country will be grateful to you. The earth will be bright; the river calm and smooth; there will be peace and friendship between us. The shadow is before my eyes no longer. The spirits of my ancestors slain by the Algonquins have disappeared. Onontio, you are good: we are bad. But our anger is gone; I have no heart but for peace and rejoicing.” As he said this, he began to dance, holding his hands upraised, as if apostrophizing the sky. Suddenly he snatched a hatchet, brandished it for a moment like a madman, and then flung it into the fire, saying, as he did so, “Thus I throw down my anger! thus I cast away the weapons of blood! Farewell, war! Now I am your friend forever!” [ 2 ]

[ 1 _Onontio_, _Great Mountain_, a translation of Montmagny’s name. It was the Iroquois name ever after for the Governor of Canada. In the same manner, _Onas_, _Feather_ or _Quill_, became the official name of William Penn, and all succeeding Governors of Pennsylvania. We have seen that the Iroquois hereditary chiefs had official names, which are the same to-day that they were at the period of this narrative. ]

[ 2 Vimont, Relation, 1645, 22, 23. He adds, that, “if these people are barbarous in deed, they have thoughts worthy of Greeks and Romans.” ]

The two prisoners were allowed to roam at will about the settlement, withheld from escaping by an Indian point of honor. Montmagny soon after sent them to Three Rivers, where the Iroquois taken during the last summer had remained all winter. Champfleur, the commandant, now received orders to clothe, equip, and send him home, with a message to his nation that Onontio made them a present of his life, and that he had still two prisoners in his hands, whom he would also give them, if they saw fit to embrace this opportunity of making peace with the French and their Indian allies.

This was at the end of May. On the fifth of July following, the liberated Iroquois reappeared at Three Rivers, bringing with him two men of renown, ambassadors of the Mohawk nation. There was a fourth man of the party, and, as they approached, the Frenchmen on the shore recognized, to their great delight, Guillaume Couture, the young man captured three years before with Father Jogues, and long since given up as dead. In dress and appearance he was an Iroquois. He had gained a great influence over his captors, and this embassy of peace was due in good measure to his persuasions. [ Marie de l’Incarnation, Lettre, 14 Sept., 1645. ]

The chief of the Iroquois, Kiotsaton, a tall savage, covered from head to foot with belts of wampum, stood erect in the prow of the sail-boat which had brought him and his companions from Richelieu, and in a loud voice announced himself as the accredited envoy of his nation. The boat fired a swivel, the fort replied with a cannon-shot, and the envoys landed in state. Kiotsaton and his colleague were conducted to the room of the commandant, where, seated on the floor, they were regaled sumptuously, and presented in due course with pipes of tobacco. They had never before seen anything so civilized, and were delighted with their entertainment. “We are glad to see you,” said Champfleur to Kiotsaton; “you may be sure that you are safe here. It is as if you were among your own people, and in your own house.”

“Tell your chief that he lies,” replied the honored guest, addressing the interpreter.

Champfleur, though he probably knew that this was but an Indian mode of expressing dissent, showed some little surprise; when Kiotsaton, after tranquilly smoking for a moment, proceeded:–“Your chief says it is as if I were in my own country. This is not true; for there I am not so honored and caressed. He says it is as if I were in my own house; but in my own house I am some times very ill served, and here you feast me with all manner of good cheer.” From this and many other replies, the French conceived that they had to do with a man of _esprit_. [ Vimont, Relation, 1645, 24. ]

He undoubtedly belonged to that class of professed orators who, though rarely or never claiming the honors of hereditary chieftainship, had great influence among the Iroquois, and were employed in all affairs of embassy and negotiation. They had memories trained to an astonishing tenacity, were perfect in all the conventional metaphors in which the language of Indian diplomacy and rhetoric mainly consisted, knew by heart the traditions of the nation, and were adepts in the parliamentary usages, which, among the Iroquois, were held little less than sacred.

The ambassadors were feasted for a week, not only by the French, but also by the Hurons and Algonquins; and then the grand peace council took place. Montmagny had come up from Quebec, and with him the chief men of the colony. It was a bright midsummer day; and the sun beat hot upon the parched area of the fort, where awnings were spread to shelter the assembly. On one side sat Montmagny, with officers and others who attended him. Near him was Vimont, Superior of the Mission, and other Jesuits,–Jogues among the rest. Immediately before them sat the Iroquois, on sheets of spruce-bark spread on the ground like mats: for they had insisted on being near the French, as a sign of the extreme love they had of late conceived towards them. On the opposite side of the area were the Algonquins, in their several divisions of the Algonquins proper, the Montagnais, and the Atticamegues, [ 1 ] sitting, lying, or squatting on the ground. On the right hand and on the left were Hurons mingled with Frenchmen. In the midst was a large open space like the arena of a prize-ring; and here were planted two poles with a line stretched from one to the other, on which, in due time, were to be hung the wampum belts that represented the words of the orator. For the present, these belts were in part hung about the persons of the two ambassadors, and in part stored in a bag carried by one of them.

[ 1 The Atticamegues, or tribe of the White Fish, dwelt in the forests north of Three Rivers. They much resembled their Montagnais kindred. ]

When all was ready, Kiotsaton arose, strode into the open space, and, raising his tall figure erect, stood looking for a moment at the sun. Then he gazed around on the assembly, took a wampum belt in his hand, and began:–

“Onontio, give ear. I am the mouth of all my nation. When you listen to me, you listen to all the Iroquois. There is no evil in my heart. My song is a song of peace. We have many war-songs in our country; but we have thrown them all away, and now we sing of nothing but gladness and rejoicing.”

Hereupon he began to sing, his countrymen joining with him. He walked to and fro, gesticulated towards the sky, and seemed to apostrophize the sun; then, turning towards the Governor, resumed his harangue. First he thanked him for the life of the Iroquois prisoner released in the spring, but blamed him for sending him home without company or escort. Then he led forth the young Frenchman, Guillaume Couture, and tied a wampum belt to his arm.

“With this,” he said, “I give you back this prisoner. I did not say to him, ‘Nephew, take a canoe and go home to Quebec.’ I should have been without sense, had I done so. I should have been troubled in my heart, lest some evil might befall him. The prisoner whom you sent back to us suffered every kind of danger and hardship on the way.” Here he proceeded to represent the difficulties of the journey in pantomime, “so natural,” says Father Vimont, “that no actor in France could equal it.” He counterfeited the lonely traveller toiling up some rocky portage track, with a load of baggage on his head, now stopping as if half spent, and now tripping against a stone. Next he was in his canoe, vainly trying to urge it against the swift current, looking around in despair on the foaming rapids, then recovering courage, and paddling desperately for his life. “What did you mean,” demanded the orator, resuming his harangue, “by sending a man alone among these dangers? I have not done so. ‘Come, nephew,’ I said to the prisoner there before you,”–pointing to Couture,–“‘follow me: I will see you home at the risk of my life.'” And to confirm his words, he hung another belt on the line.

The third belt was to declare that the nation of the speaker had sent presents to the other nations to recall their war-parties, in view of the approaching peace. The fourth was an assurance that the memory of the slain Iroquois no longer stirred the living to vengeance. “I passed near the place where Piskaret and the Algonquins slew our warriors in the spring. I saw the scene of the fight where the two prisoners here were taken. I passed quickly; I would not look on the blood of my people. Their bodies lie there still; I turned away my eyes, that I might not be angry.” Then, stooping, he struck the ground and seemed to listen. “I heard the voice of my ancestors, slain by the Algonquins, crying to me in a tone of affection, ‘My grandson, my grandson, restrain your anger: think no more of us, for you cannot deliver us from death; think of the living; rescue them from the knife and the fire.’ When I heard these voices, I went on my way, and journeyed hither to deliver those whom you still hold in captivity.”

The fifth, sixth, and seventh belts were to open the passage by water from the French to the Iroquois, to chase hostile canoes from the river, smooth away the rapids and cataracts, and calm the waves of the lake. The eighth cleared the path by land. “You would have said,” writes Vimont, “that he was cutting down trees, hacking off branches, dragging away bushes, and filling up holes.”–“Look!” exclaimed the orator, when he had ended this pantomime, “the road is open, smooth, and straight”; and he bent towards the earth, as if to see that no impediment remained. “There is no thorn, or stone, or log in the way. Now you may see the smoke of our villages from Quebec to the heart of our country.”

Another belt, of unusual size and beauty, was to bind the Iroquois, the French, and their Indian allies together as one man. As he presented it, the orator led forth a Frenchman and an Algonquin from among his auditors, and, linking his arms with theirs, pressed them closely to his sides, in token of indissoluble union.

The next belt invited the French to feast with the Iroquois. “Our country is full of fish, venison, moose, beaver, and game of every kind. Leave these filthy swine that run about among your houses, feeding on garbage, and come and eat good food with us. The road is open; there is no danger.”

There was another belt to scatter the clouds, that the sun might shine on the hearts of the Indians and the French, and reveal their sincerity and truth to all; then others still, to confirm the Hurons in thoughts of peace. By the fifteenth belt, Kiotsaton declared that the Iroquois had always wished to send home Jogues and Bressani to their friends, and had meant to do so; but that Jogues was stolen from them by the Dutch, and they had given Bressani to them because he desired it. “If he had but been patient,” added the ambassador, “I would have brought him back myself. Now I know not what has befallen him. Perhaps he is drowned. Perhaps he is dead.” Here Jogues said, with a smile, to the Jesuits near him, “They had the pile laid to burn me. They would have killed me a hundred times, if God had not saved my life.”

Two or three more belts were hung on the line, each with its appropriate speech; and, then the speaker closed his harangue: “I go to spend what remains of the summer in my own country, in games and dances and rejoicing for the blessing of peace.” He had interspersed his discourse throughout with now a song and now a dance; and the council ended in a general dancing, in which Iroquois, Hurons, Algonquins, Montagnais, Atticamegues, and French, all took part, after their respective fashions.

In spite of one or two palpable falsehoods that embellished his oratory, the Jesuits were delighted with him. “Every one admitted,” says Vimont, “that he was eloquent and pathetic. In short, he showed himself an excellent actor, for one who has had no instructor but Nature. I gathered only a few fragments of his speech from the mouth of the interpreter, who gave us but broken portions of it, and did not translate consecutively.”

[ Vimont describes the council at length in the Relation of 1645. Marie de l’Incarnation also describes it in a letter to her son, of Sept. 14, 1645. She evidently gained her information from Vimont and the other Jesuits present. ]

Two days after, another council was called, when the Governor gave his answer, accepting the proffered peace, and confirming his acceptance by gifts of considerable value. He demanded as a condition, that the Indian allies of the French should be left unmolested, until their principal chiefs, who were not then present, should make a formal treaty with the Iroquois in behalf of their several nations. Piskaret then made a present to wipe away the remembrance of the Iroquois he had slaughtered, and the assembly was dissolved.

In the evening, Vimont invited the ambassadors to the mission-house, and gave each of them a sack of tobacco and a pipe. In return, Kiotsaton made him a speech: “When I left my country, I gave up my life; I went to meet death, and I owe it to you that I am yet alive. I thank you that I still see the sun; I thank you for all your words and acts of kindness; I thank you for your gifts. You have covered me with them from head to foot. You left nothing free but my mouth; and now you have stopped that with a handsome pipe, and regaled it with the taste of the herb we love. I bid you farewell,–not for a long time, for you will hear from us soon. Even if we should be drowned on our way home, the winds and the waves will bear witness to our countrymen of your favors; and I am sure that some good spirit has gone before us to tell them of the good news that we are about to bring.” [ Vimont, Relation, 1645, 28. ]

On the next day, he and his companion set forth on their return. Kiotsaton, when he saw his party embarked, turned to the French and Indians who lined the shore, and said with a loud voice, “Farewell, brothers! I am one of your relations now.” Then turning to the Governor,–“Onontio, your name will be great over all the earth. When I came hither, I never thought to carry back my head, I never thought to come out of your doors alive; and now I return loaded with honors, gifts, and kindness.” “Brothers,”–to the Indians,–“obey Onontio and the French. Their hearts and their thoughts are good. Be friends with them, and do as they do. You shall hear from us soon.”

The Indians whooped and fired their guns; there was a cannon-shot from the fort; and the sail-boat that bore the distinguished visitors moved on its way towards the Richelieu.

But the work was not done. There must be more councils, speeches, wampum-belts, and gifts of all kinds,–more feasts, dances, songs, and uproar. The Indians gathered at Three Rivers were not sufficient in numbers or in influence to represent their several tribes; and more were on their way. The principal men of the Hurons were to come down this year, with Algonquins of many tribes, from the North and the Northwest; and Kiotsaton had promised that Iroquois ambassadors, duly empowered, should meet them at Three Rivers, and make a solemn peace with them all, under the eye of Onontio. But what hope was there that this swarm of fickle and wayward savages could be gathered together at one time and at one place,–or that, being there, they could be restrained from cutting each other’s throats? Yet so it was; and in this happy event the Jesuits saw the interposition of God, wrought upon by the prayers of those pious souls in France who daily and nightly besieged Heaven with supplications for the welfare of the Canadian missions. [ Vimont, Relation, 1645, 29. ]

First came a band of Montagnais; next followed Nipissings, Atticamegues, and Algonquins of the Ottawa, their canoes deep-laden with furs. Then, on the tenth of September, appeared the great fleet of the Hurons, sixty canoes, bearing a host of warriors, among whom the French recognized the tattered black cassock of Father Jerome Lalemant. There were twenty French soldiers, too, returning from the Huron country, whither they had been sent the year before, to guard the Fathers and their flock.

Three Rivers swarmed like an ant-hill with savages. The shore was lined with canoes; the forests and the fields were alive with busy camps. The trade was brisk; and in its attendant speeches, feasts, and dances, there was no respite.

But where were the Iroquois? Montmagny and the Jesuits grew very anxious. In a few days more the concourse would begin to disperse, and the golden moment be lost. It was a great relief when a canoe appeared with tidings that the promised embassy was on its way; and yet more, when, on the seventeenth, four Iroquois approached the shore, and, in a loud voice, announced themselves as envoys of their nation. The tumult was prodigious. Montmagny’s soldiers formed a double rank, and the savage rabble, with wild eyes and faces smeared with grease and paint, stared over the shoulders and between the gun-barrels of the musketeers, as the ambassadors of their deadliest foe stalked, with unmoved visages, towards the fort.

Now council followed council, with an insufferable prolixity of speech-making. There were belts to wipe out the memory of the slain; belts to clear the sky, smooth the rivers, and calm the lakes; a belt to take the hatchet from the hands of the Iroquois; another to take away their guns; another to take away their shields; another to wash the war-paint from their faces; and another to break the kettle in which they boiled their prisoners. [ Vimont, Relation, 1645, 34. ] In short, there were belts past numbering, each with its meaning, sometimes literal, sometimes figurative, but all bearing upon the great work of peace. At length all was ended. The dances ceased, the songs and the whoops died away, and the great muster dispersed,–some to their smoky lodges on the distant shores of Lake Huron, and some to frozen hunting-grounds in northern forests.

There was peace in this dark and blood-stained wilderness. The lynx, the panther, and the wolf had made a covenant of love; but who should be their surety? A doubt and a fear mingled with the joy of the Jesuit Fathers; and to their thanksgivings to God they joined a prayer, that the hand which had given might still be stretched forth to preserve.


1645, 1646.



There is little doubt that the Iroquois negotiators acted, for the moment, in sincerity. Guillaume Couture, who returned with them and spent the winter in their towns, saw sufficient proof that they sincerely desired peace. And yet the treaty had a double defect. First, the wayward, capricious, and ungoverned nature of the Indian parties to it, on both sides, made a speedy rupture more than likely. Secondly, in spite of their own assertion to the contrary, the Iroquois envoys represented, not the confederacy of the five nations, but only one of these nations, the Mohawks: for each of the members of this singular league could, and often did, make peace and war independently of the rest.

It was the Mohawks who had made war on the French and their Indian allies on the lower St. Lawrence. They claimed, as against the other Iroquois, a certain right of domain to all this region; and though the warriors of the four upper nations had sometimes poached on the Mohawk preserve, by murdering both French and Indians at Montreal, they employed their energies for the most part in attacks on the Hurons, the Upper Algonquins, and other tribes of the interior. These attacks still continued, unaffected by the peace with the Mohawks. Imperfect, however, as the treaty was, it was invaluable, could it but be kept inviolate; and to this end Montmagny, the Jesuits, and all the colony, anxiously turned their thoughts.

[ The Mohawks were at this time more numerous, as compared with the other four nations of the Iroquois, than they were a few years later. They seem to have suffered more reverses in war than any of the others. At this time they may be reckoned at six or seven hundred warriors. A war with the Mohegans, and another with the Andastes, besides their war with the Algonquins and the French of Canada soon after, told severely on their strength. The following are estimates of the numbers of the Iroquois warriors made in 1660 by the author of the Relation of that year, and by Wentworth Greenhalgh in 1677, from personal inspection:–

1660. 1677.

Mohawks . . . . . 500 . . 300
Oneidas . . . . . 100 . . 200
Onondagas . . . . 300 . . 350
Cayugas . . . . . 300 . . 300
Senecas . . . . . 1,000 . . 1,000 —– —–
2,200 2,150 ]

It was to hold the Mohawks to their faith that Couture had bravely gone back to winter among them; but an agent of more acknowledged weight was needed, and Father Isaac Jogues was chosen. No white man, Couture excepted, knew their language and their character so well. His errand was half political, half religious; for not only was he to be the bearer of gifts, wampum-belts, and messages from the Governor, but he was also to found a new mission, christened in advance with a prophetic name,–the Mission of the Martyrs.

For two years past, Jogues had been at Montreal; and it was here that he received the order of his Superior to proceed to the Mohawk towns. At first, nature asserted itself, and he recoiled involuntarily at the thought of the horrors of which his scarred body and his mutilated hands were a living memento. [ Lettre du P. Isaac Jogues au B. P. Jérosme L’Allemant. Montreal, 2 Mai, 1646. MS. ] It was a transient weakness; and he prepared to depart with more than willingness, giving thanks to Heaven that he had been found worthy to suffer and to die for the saving of souls and the greater glory of God.

He felt a presentiment that his death was near, and wrote to a friend, “I shall go, and shall not return.” [ “Ibo et non redibo.” Lettre du P. Jogues au R. P. No date. ] An Algonquin convert gave him sage advice. “Say nothing about the Faith at first, for there is nothing so repulsive, in the beginning, as our doctrine, which seems to destroy everything that men hold dear; and as your long cassock preaches, as well as your lips, you had better put on a short coat.” Jogues, therefore, exchanged the uniform of Loyola for a civilian’s doublet and hose; “for,” observes his Superior, “one should be all things to all men, that he may gain them all to Jesus Christ.” [ Lalemant, Relation, 1646, 15. ] It would be well, if the application of the maxim had always been as harmless.

Jogues left Three Rivers about the middle of May, with the Sieur Bourdon, engineer to the Governor, two Algonquins with gifts to confirm the peace, and four Mohawks as guides and escort. He passed the Richelieu and Lake Champlain, well-remembered scenes of former miseries, and reached the foot of Lake George on the eve of Corpus Christi. Thence he called the lake Lac St. Sacrement; and this name it preserved, until, a century after, an ambitious Irishman, in compliment to the sovereign from whom he sought advancement, gave it the name it bears.

[ Mr. Shea very reasonably suggests, that a change from Lake George to Lake Jogues would be equally easy and appropriate. ]

From Lake George they crossed on foot to the Hudson, where, being greatly fatigued by their heavy loads of gifts, they borrowed canoes at an Iroquois fishing station, and descended to Fort Orange. Here Jogues met the Dutch friends to whom he owed his life, and who now kindly welcomed and entertained him. After a few days he left them, and ascended the River Mohawk to the first Mohawk town. Crowds gathered from the neighboring towns to gaze on the man whom they had known as a scorned and abused slave, and who now appeared among them as the ambassador of a power which hitherto, indeed, they had despised, but which in their present mood they were willing to propitiate.

There was a council in one of the lodges; and while his crowded auditory smoked their pipes, Jogues stood in the midst, and harangued them. He offered in due form the gifts of the Governor, with the wampum belts and their messages of peace, while at every pause his words were echoed by a unanimous grunt of applause from the attentive concourse. Peace speeches were made in return; and all was harmony. When, however, the Algonquin deputies stood before the council, they and their gifts were coldly received. The old hate, maintained by traditions of mutual atrocity, burned fiercely under a thin semblance of peace; and though no outbreak took place, the prospect of the future was very ominous.

The business of the embassy was scarcely finished, when the Mohawks counselled Jogues and his companions to go home with all despatch, saying, that, if they waited longer, they might meet on the way warriors of the four upper nations, who would inevitably kill the two Algonquin deputies, if not the French also. Jogues, therefore, set out on his return; but not until, despite the advice of the Indian convert, he had made the round of the houses, confessed and instructed a few Christian prisoners still remaining here, and baptized several dying Mohawks. Then he and his party crossed through the forest to the southern extremity of Lake George, made bark canoes, and descended to Fort Richelieu, where they arrived on the twenty seventh of June. [ Lalemant, Relation, 1646, 17. ]

His political errand was accomplished. Now, should he return to the Mohawks, or should the Mission of the Martyrs be for a time abandoned? Lalemant, who had succeeded Vimont as Superior of the missions, held a council at Quebec with three other Jesuits, of whom Jogues was one, and it was determined, that, unless some new contingency should arise, he should remain for the winter at Montreal. [ Journal des Supérieurs des Jésuites. MS. ] This was in July. Soon after, the plan was changed, for reasons which do not appear, and Jogues received orders to repair to his dangerous post. He set out on the twenty-fourth of August, accompanied by a young Frenchman named Lalande, and three or four Hurons. [ Journal des Supérieurs des Jésuites. MS. ] On the way they met Indians who warned them of a change of feeling in the Mohawk towns, and the Hurons, alarmed, refused to go farther. Jogues, naturally perhaps the most timid man of the party, had no thought of drawing back, and pursued his journey with his young companion, who, like other _donnés_ of the missions; was scarcely behind the Jesuits themselves in devoted enthusiasm.

The reported change of feeling had indeed taken place; and the occasion of it was characteristic. On his previous visit to the Mohawks, Jogues, meaning to return, had left in their charge a small chest or box. From the first they were distrustful, suspecting that it contained some secret mischief. He therefore opened it, and showed them the contents, which were a few personal necessaries; and having thus, as he thought, reassured them, locked the box, and left it in their keeping. The Huron prisoners in the town attempted to make favor with their Iroquois enemies by abusing their French friends,–declaring them to be sorcerers, who had bewitched, by their charms and mummeries, the whole Huron nation, and caused drought, famine, pestilence, and a host of insupportable miseries. Thereupon, the suspicions of the Mohawks against the box revived with double force, and they were convinced that famine, the pest, or some malignant spirit was shut up in it, waiting the moment to issue forth and destroy them. There was sickness in the town, and caterpillars were eating their corn: this was ascribed to the sorceries of the Jesuit. [ Lettre de Marie de l’Incarnation à son Fils. Québec, . . . 1647. ] Still they were divided in opinion. Some stood firm for the French; others were furious against them. Among the Mohawks, three clans or families were predominant, if indeed they did not compose the entire nation,–the clans of the Bear, the Tortoise, and the Wolf. [ See Introduction. ] Though, by the nature of their constitution, it was scarcely possible that these clans should come to blows, so intimately were they bound together by ties of blood, yet they were often divided on points of interest or policy; and on this occasion the Bear raged against the French, and howled for war, while the Tortoise and the Wolf still clung to the treaty. Among savages, with no government except the intermittent one of councils, the party of action and violence must always prevail. The Bear chiefs sang their war-songs, and, followed by the young men of their own clan, and by such others as they had infected with their frenzy, set forth, in two bands, on the war-path.

The warriors of one of these bands were making their way through the forests between the Mohawk and Lake George, when they met Jogues and Lalande. They seized them, stripped them, and led them in triumph to their town. Here a savage crowd surrounded them, beating them with sticks and with their fists. One of them cut thin strips of flesh from the back and arms of Jogues, saying, as he did so, “Let us see if this white flesh is the flesh of an oki.”–“I am a man like yourselves,” replied Jogues; “but I do not fear death or torture. I do not know why you would kill me. I come here to confirm the peace and show you the way to heaven, and you treat me like a dog.” [ 1 ]–“You shall die to-morrow,” cried the rabble. “Take courage, we shall not burn you. We shall strike you both with a hatchet, and place your heads on the palisade, that your brothers may see you when we take them prisoners.” [ 2 ] The clans of the Wolf and the Tortoise still raised their voices in behalf of the captive Frenchmen; but the fury of the minority swept all before it.

[ 1 Lettre du P. De Quen au R. P. Lallemant; no date. MS. ]

[ 2 Lettre de J. Labatie à M. La Montagne, Fort d’Orange, 30 Oct. 1646. MS. ]

In the evening,–it was the eighteenth of October,–Jogues, smarting with his wounds and bruises, was sitting in one of the lodges, when an Indian entered, and asked him to a feast. To refuse would have been an offence. He arose and followed the savage, who led him to the lodge of the Bear chief. Jogues bent his head to enter, when another Indian, standing concealed within, at the side of the doorway, struck at him with a hatchet. An Iroquois, called by the French Le Berger, [ 1 ] who seems to have followed in order to defend him, bravely held out his arm to ward off the blow; but the hatchet cut through it, and sank into the missionary’s brain. He fell at the feet of his murderer, who at once finished the work by hacking off his head. Lalande was left in suspense all night, and in the morning was killed in a similar manner. The bodies of the two Frenchmen were then thrown into the Mohawk, and their heads displayed on the points of the palisade which inclosed the town. [ 2 ]

[ 1 It has been erroneously stated that this brave attempt to save Jogues was made by the orator Kiotsaton. Le Berger was one of those who had been made prisoners by Piskaret, and treated kindly by the French. In 1648, he voluntarily came to Three Rivers, and gave himself up to a party of Frenchmen. He was converted, baptized, and carried to France, where his behavior is reported to have been very edifying, but where he soon died. “Perhaps he had eaten his share of more than fifty men,” is the reflection of Father Ragueneau, after recounting his exemplary conduct.–Relation, 1650, 43-48. ]

[ 2 In respect to the death of Jogues, the best authority is the letter of Labatie, before cited. He was the French interpreter at Fort Orange, and, being near the scene of the murder, took pains to learn the facts. The letter was inclosed in another written to Montmagny by the Dutch Governor, Kieft, which is also before me, together with a MS. account, written from hearsay, by Father Buteux, and a letter of De Quen, cited above. Compare the Relations of 1647 and 1650. ]

Thus died Isaac Jogues, one of the purest examples of Roman Catholic virtue which this Western continent has seen. The priests, his associates, praise his humility, and tell us that it reached the point of self-contempt,–a crowning virtue in their eyes; that he regarded himself as nothing, and lived solely to do the will of God as uttered by the lips of his Superiors. They add, that, when left to the guidance of his own judgment, his self-distrust made him very slow of decision, but that, when acting under orders, he knew neither hesitation nor fear. With all his gentleness, he had a certain warmth or vivacity of temperament; and we have seen how, during his first captivity, while humbly submitting to every caprice of his tyrants and appearing to rejoice in abasement, a derisive word against his faith would change the lamb into the lion, and the lips that seemed so tame would speak in sharp, bold tones of menace and reproof.


1646, 1647.



The peace was broken, and the hounds of war turned loose. The contagion spread through all the Mohawk nation, the war-songs were sung, and the warriors took the path for Canada. The miserable colonists and their more miserable allies woke from their dream of peace to a reality of fear and horror. Again Montreal and Three Rivers were beset with murdering savages, skulking in thickets and prowling under cover of night, yet, when it came to blows, displaying a courage almost equal to the ferocity that inspired it. They plundered and burned Fort Richelieu, which its small garrison had abandoned, thus leaving the colony without even the semblance of protection. Before the spring opened, all the fighting men of the Mohawks took the war-path; but it is clear that many of them still had little heart for their bloody and perfidious work; for, of these hardy and all-enduring warriors, two-thirds gave out on the way, and returned, complaining that the season was too severe. [ Lettre du P. Buteux au R. P. Lalemant. MS. ] Two hundred or more kept on, divided into several bands.

On Ash-Wednesday, the French at Three Rivers were at mass in the chapel, when the Iroquois, quietly approaching, plundered two houses close to the fort, containing all the property of the neighboring inhabitants, which had been brought hither as to a place of security. They hid their booty, and then went in quest of two large parties of Christian Algonquins engaged in their winter hunt. Two Indians of the same nation, whom they captured, basely set them on the trail; and they took up the chase like hounds on the scent of game. Wrapped in furs or blanket-coats, some with gun in hand, some with bows and quivers, and all with hatchets, war-clubs, knives, or swords,–striding on snow-shoes, with bodies half bent, through the gray forests and the frozen pine-swamps, among wet, black trunks, along dark ravines and under savage hill-sides, their small, fierce eyes darting quick glances that pierced the farthest recesses of the naked woods,–the hunters of men followed the track of their human prey. At length they descried the bark wigwams of the Algonquin camp. The warriors were absent; none were here but women and children. The Iroquois surrounded the huts, and captured all the shrieking inmates. Then ten of them set out to find the traces of the absent hunters. They soon met the renowned Piskaret returning alone. As they recognized him and knew his mettle, they thought treachery better than an open attack. They therefore approached him in the attitude of friends; while he, ignorant of the rupture of the treaty, began to sing his peace-song. Scarcely had they joined him, when one of them ran a sword through his body; and, having scalped him, they returned in triumph to their companions. [ 1 ] All the hunters were soon after waylaid, overpowered by numbers, and killed or taken prisoners.

[ 1 Lalemant, Relation, 1647, 4. Marie de l’Incarnation, Lettre à son Fils. Québec, . . . 1647. Perrot’s account, drawn from tradition, is different, though not essentially so. ]

Another band of the Mohawks had meanwhile pursued the other party of Algonquins, and overtaken them on the march, as, incumbered with their sledges and baggage, they were moving from one hunting-camp to another. Though taken by surprise, they made fight, and killed several of their assailants; but in a few moments their resistance was overcome, and those who survived the fray were helpless in the clutches of the enraged victors. Then began a massacre of the old, the disabled, and the infants, with the usual beating, gashing, and severing of fingers to the rest. The next day, the two bands of Mohawks, each with its troop of captives fast bound, met at an appointed spot on the Lake of St. Peter, and greeted each other with yells of exultation, with which mingled a wail of anguish, as the prisoners of either party recognized their companions in misery. They all kneeled in the midst of their savage conquerors, and one of the men, a noted convert, after a few words of exhortation, repeated in a loud voice a prayer, to which the rest responded. Then they sang an Algonquin hymn, while the Iroquois, who at first had stared in wonder, broke into laughter and derision, and at length fell upon them with renewed fury. One was burned alive on the spot. Another tried to escape, and they burned the soles of his feet that he might not repeat the attempt. Many others were maimed and mangled; and some of the women who afterwards escaped affirmed, that, in ridicule of the converts, they crucified a small child by nailing it with wooden spikes against a thick sheet of bark.

The prisoners were led to the Mohawk towns; and it is needless to repeat the monotonous and revolting tale of torture and death. The men, as usual, were burned; but the lives of the women and children were spared, in order to strengthen the conquerors by their adoption,–not, however, until both, but especially the women, had been made to endure the extremes of suffering and indignity. Several of them from time to time escaped, and reached Canada with the story of their woes. Among these was Marie, the wife of Jean Baptiste, one of the principal Algonquin converts, captured and burned with the rest. Early in June, she appeared in a canoe at Montreal, where Madame d’Ailleboust, to whom she was well known, received her with great kindness, and led her to her room in the fort. Here Marie was overcome with emotion. Madame d’Ailleboust spoke Algonquin with ease; and her words of sympathy, joined to the associations of a place where the unhappy fugitive, with her murdered husband and child, had often found a friendly welcome, so wrought upon her, that her voice was smothered with sobs.

She had once before been a prisoner of the Iroquois, at the town of Onondaga. When she and her companions in misfortune had reached the Mohawk towns, she was recognized by several Onondagas who chanced to be there, and who, partly by threats and partly by promises, induced her to return with them to the scene of her former captivity, where they assured her of good treatment. With their aid, she escaped from the Mohawks, and set out with them for Onondaga. On their way, they passed the great town of the Oneidas; and her conductors, fearing that certain Mohawks who were there would lay claim to her, found a hiding-place for her in the forest, where they gave her food, and told her to wait their return. She lay concealed all day, and at night approached the town, under cover of darkness. A dull red glare of flames rose above the jagged tops of the palisade that encompassed it; and, from the pandemonium within, an uproar of screams, yells, and bursts of laughter told her that they were burning one of her captive countrymen. She gazed and listened, shivering with cold and aghast with horror. The thought possessed her that she would soon share his fate, and she resolved to fly. The ground was still covered with snow, and her footprints would infallibly have betrayed her, if she had not, instead of turning towards home, followed the beaten Indian path westward. She journeyed on, confused and irresolute, and tortured between terror and hunger. At length she approached Onondaga, a few miles from the present city of Syracuse, and hid herself in a dense thicket of spruce or cedar, whence she crept forth at night, to grope in the half-melted snow for a few ears of corn, left from the last year’s harvest. She saw many Indians from her lurking-place, and once a tall savage, with an axe on his shoulder, advanced directly towards the spot where she lay: but, in the extremity of her fright, she murmured a prayer, on which he turned and changed his course. The fate that awaited her, if she remained,–for a fugitive could not hope for mercy,–and the scarcely less terrible dangers of the pitiless wilderness between her and Canada, filled her with despair, for she was half dead already with hunger and cold. She tied her girdle to the bough of a tree, and hung herself from it by the neck. The cord broke. She repeated the attempt with the same result, and then the thought came to her that God meant to save her life. The snow by this time had melted in the forests, and she began her journey for home, with a few handfuls of corn as her only provision. She directed her course by the sun, and for food dug roots, peeled the soft inner bark of trees, and sometimes caught tortoises in the muddy brooks. She had the good fortune to find a hatchet in a deserted camp, and with it made one of those wooden implements which the Indians used for kindling fire by friction. This saved her from her worst suffering; for she had no covering but a thin tunic, which left her legs and arms bare, and exposed her at night to tortures of cold. She built her fire in some deep nook of the forest, warmed herself, cooked what food she had found, told her rosary on her fingers, and slept till daylight, when she always threw water on the embers, lest the rising smoke should attract attention. Once she discovered a party of Iroquois hunters; but she lay concealed, and they passed without seeing her. She followed their trail back, and found their bark canoe, which they had hidden near the bank of a river. It was too large for her use; but, as she was a practised canoe-maker, she reduced it to a convenient size, embarked in it, and descended the stream. At length she reached the St. Lawrence, and paddled with the current towards Montreal. On islands and rocky shores she found eggs of water-fowl in abundance; and she speared fish with a sharpened pole, hardened at the point with fire. She even killed deer, by driving them into the water, chasing them in her canoe, and striking them on the head with her hatchet. When she landed at Montreal, her canoe had still a good store of eggs and dried venison.

[ This story is taken from the Relation of 1647, and the letter of Marie de l’Incarnation to her son, before cited. The woman must have descended the great rapids of Lachine in her canoe: a feat demanding no ordinary nerve and skill. ]

Her journey from Onondaga had occupied about two months, under hardships which no woman but a squaw could have survived. Escapes not less remarkable of several other women are chronicled in the records of this year; and one of them, with a notable feat of arms which attended it, calls for a brief notice.

Eight Algonquins, in one of those fits of desperate valor which sometimes occur in Indians, entered at midnight a camp where thirty or forty Iroquois warriors were buried in sleep, and with quick, sharp blows of their tomahawks began to brain them as they lay. They killed ten of them on the spot, and wounded many more. The rest, panic-stricken and bewildered by the surprise and the thick darkness, fled into the forest, leaving all they had in the hands of the victors, including a number of Algonquin captives, of whom one had been unwittingly killed by his countrymen in the confusion. Another captive, a woman, had escaped on a previous night. They had stretched her on her back, with limbs extended, and bound her wrists and ankles to four stakes firmly driven into the earth,–their ordinary mode of securing prisoners. Then, as usual, they all fell asleep. She presently became aware that the cord that bound one of her wrists was somewhat loose, and, by long and painful efforts, she freed her hand. To release the other hand and her feet was then comparatively easy. She cautiously rose. Around her, breathing in deep sleep, lay stretched the dark forms of the unconscious warriors, scarcely visible in the gloom. She stepped over them to the entrance of the hut; and here, as she was passing out, she descried a hatchet on the ground. The temptation was too strong for her Indian nature. She seized it, and struck again and again, with all her force, on the skull of the Iroquois who lay at the entrance. The sound of the blows, and the convulsive struggles of the victim, roused the sleepers. They sprang up, groping in the dark, and demanding of each other what was the matter. At length they lighted a roll of birch-bark, found their prisoner gone and their comrade dead, and rushed out in a rage in search of the fugitive. She, meanwhile, instead of running away, had hid herself in the hollow of a tree, which she had observed the evening before. Her pursuers ran through the dark woods, shouting and whooping to each other; and when all had passed, she crept from her hiding-place, and fled in an opposite direction. In the morning they found her tracks and followed them. On the second day they had overtaken and surrounded her, when, hearing their cries on all sides, she gave up all hope. But near at hand, in the thickest depths of the forest, the beavers had dammed a brook and formed a pond, full of gnawed stumps, dead fallen trees, rank weeds, and tangled bushes. She plunged in, and, swimming and wading, found a hiding-place, where her body was concealed by the water, and her head by the masses of dead and living vegetation. Her pursuers were at fault, and, after a long search, gave up the chase in despair. Shivering, naked, and half-starved, she crawled out from her wild asylum, and resumed her flight. By day, the briers and bushes tore her unprotected limbs; by night, she shivered with cold, and the mosquitoes and small black gnats of the forest persecuted her with torments which the modern sportsman will appreciate. She subsisted on such roots, bark, reptiles, or other small animals, as her Indian habits enabled her to gather on her way. She crossed streams by swimming, or on rafts of driftwood, lashed together with strips of linden-bark; and at length reached the St. Lawrence, where, with the aid of her hatchet, she made a canoe. Her home was on the Ottawa, and she was ignorant of the great river, or, at least, of this part of it. She had scarcely even seen a Frenchman, but had heard of the French as friends, and knew that their dwellings were on the banks of the St. Lawrence. This was her only guide; and she drifted on her way, doubtful whether the vast current would bear her to the abodes of the living or to the land of souls. She passed the watery wilderness of the Lake of St. Peter, and presently descried a Huron canoe. Fearing that it was an enemy, she hid herself, and resumed her voyage in the evening, when she soon came in sight of the wooden buildings and palisades of Three Rivers. Several Hurons saw her at the same moment, and made towards her; on which she leaped ashore and hid in the bushes, whence, being entirely without clothing, she would not come out till one of them threw her his coat. Having wrapped herself in it, she went with them to the fort and the house of the Jesuits, in a wretched state of emaciation, but in high spirits at the happy issue of her voyage. [ Lalemant, Relation, 1647, 15, 16. ]

Such stories might be multiplied; but these will suffice. Nor is it necessary to dwell further on the bloody record of inroads, butcheries, and tortures. We have seen enough to show the nature of the scourge that now fell without mercy on the Indians and the French of Canada. There was no safety but in the imprisonment of palisades and ramparts. A deep dejection sank on the white and red men alike; but the Jesuits would not despair.

“Do not imagine,” writes the Father Superior, “that the rage of the Iroquois, and the loss of many Christians and many catechumens, can bring to nought the mystery of the cross of Jesus Christ, and the efficacy of his blood. We shall die; we shall be captured, burned, butchered: be it so. Those who die in their beds do not always die the best death. I see none of our company cast down. On the contrary, they ask leave to go up to the Hurons, and some of them protest that the fires of the Iroquois are one of their motives for the journey.” [ Lalemant, Relation, 1647, 8. ]





Before passing to the closing scenes of this wilderness drama, we will touch briefly on a few points aside from its main action, yet essential to an understanding of the scope of the mission. Besides their establishments at Quebec, Sillery, Three Rivers, and the neighborhood of Lake Huron, the Jesuits had an outlying post at the island of Miscou, on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, near the entrance of the Bay of Chaleurs, where they instructed the wandering savages of those shores, and confessed the French fishermen. The island was unhealthy in the extreme. Several of the priests sickened and died; and scarcely one convert repaid their toils. There was a more successful mission at Tadoussac, or Sadilege, as the neighboring Indians called it. In winter, this place was a solitude; but in summer, when the Montagnais gathered from their hunting-grounds to meet the French traders, Jesuits came yearly from Quebec to instruct them in the Faith. Some times they followed them northward, into wilds where, at this day, a white man rarely penetrates. Thus, in 1646, De Quen ascended the Saguenay, and, by a series of rivers, torrents, lakes, and rapids, reached a Montagnais horde called the Nation of the Porcupine, where he found that the teachings at Tadoussac had borne fruit, and that the converts had planted a cross on the borders of the savage lake where they dwelt. There was a kindred band, the Nation of the White Fish, among the rocks and forests north of Three Rivers. They proved tractable beyond all others, threw away their “medicines” or fetiches, burned their magic drums, renounced their medicine-songs, and accepted instead rosaries, crucifixes, and versions of Catholic hymns.

In a former chapter, we followed Father Paul Le Jeune on his winter roamings, with a band of Montagnais, among the forests on the northern boundary of Maine. Now Father Gabriel Druilletes sets forth on a similar excursion, but with one essential difference. Le Jeune’s companions were heathen, who persecuted him day and night with their gibes and sarcasms. Those of Druilletes were all converts, who looked on him as a friend and a father. There were prayers, confessions, masses, and invocations of St. Joseph. They built their bark chapel at every camp, and no festival of the Church passed unobserved. On Good Friday they laid their best robe of beaver-skin on the snow, placed on it a crucifix, and knelt around it in prayer. What was their prayer? It was a petition for the forgiveness and the conversion of their enemies, the Iroquois. [ Vimont, Relation, 1645, 16. ] Those who know the intensity and tenacity of an Indian’s hatred will see in this something more than a change from one superstition to another. An idea had been presented to the mind of the savage, to which he had previously been an utter stranger. This is the most remarkable record of success in the whole body of the Jesuit Relations; but it is very far from being the only evidence, that, in teaching the dogmas and observances of the Roman Church, the missionaries taught also the morals of Christianity. When we look for the results of these missions, we soon become aware that the influence of the French and the Jesuits extended far beyond the circle of converts. It eventually modified and softened the manners of many unconverted tribes. In the wars of the next century we do not often find those examples of diabolic atrocity with which the earlier annals are crowded. The savage burned his enemies alive, it is true, but he rarely ate them; neither did he torment them with the same deliberation and persistency. He was a savage still, but not so often a devil. The improvement was not great, but it was distinct; and it seems to have taken place wherever Indian tribes were in close relations with any respectable community of white men. Thus Philip’s war in New England, cruel as it was, was less ferocious, judging from Canadian experience, than it would have been, if a generation of civilized intercourse had not worn down the sharpest asperities of barbarism. Yet it was to French priests and colonists, mingled as they were soon to be among the tribes of the vast interior, that the change is chiefly to be ascribed. In this softening of manners, such as it was, and in the obedient Catholicity of a few hundred tamed savages gathered at stationary missions in various parts of Canada, we find, after a century had elapsed, all the results of the heroic toil of the Jesuits. The missions had failed, because the Indians had ceased to exist. Of the great tribes on whom rested the hopes of the early Canadian Fathers, nearly all were virtually extinct. The missionaries built laboriously and well, but they were doomed to build on a failing foundation. The Indians melted away, not because civilization destroyed them, but because their own ferocity and intractable indolence made it impossible that they should exist in its presence. Either the plastic energies of a higher race or the servile pliancy of a lower one would, each in its way, have preserved them: as it was, their extinction was a foregone conclusion. As for the religion which the Jesuits taught them, however Protestants may carp at it, it was the only form of Christianity likely to take root in their crude and barbarous nature.

To return to Druilletes. The smoke of the wigwam blinded him; and it is no matter of surprise to hear that he was cured by a miracle. He returned from his winter roving to Quebec in high health, and soon set forth on a new mission. On the River Kennebec, in the present State of Maine, dwelt the Abenaquis, an Algonquin people, destined hereafter to become a thorn in the sides of the New-England colonists. Some of them had visited their friends, the Christian Indians of Sillery. Here they became converted, went home, and preached the Faith to their countrymen, and this to such purpose that the Abenaquis sent to Quebec to ask for a missionary. Apart from the saving of souls, there were solid reasons for acceding to their request. The Abenaquis were near the colonies of New England,–indeed, the Plymouth colony, under its charter, claimed jurisdiction over them; and in case of rupture, they would prove serviceable friends or dangerous enemies to New France. [ Charlevoix, I. 280, gives this as a motive of the mission. ] Their messengers were favorably received; and Druilletes was ordered to proceed upon the new mission.

He left Sillery, with a party of Indians, on the twenty-ninth of August, 1646, [ Lalemant, Relation, 1647, 51. ] and following, as it seems, the route by which, a hundred and twenty-nine years later, the soldiers of Arnold made their way to Quebec, he reached the waters of the Kennebec and descended to the Abenaqui villages. Here he nursed the sick, baptized the dying, and gave such instruction as, in his ignorance of the language, he was able. Apparently he had been ordered to reconnoitre; for he presently descended the river from Norridgewock to the first English trading-post, where Augusta now stands. Thence he continued his journey to the sea, and followed the coast in a canoe to the Penobscot, visiting seven or eight English posts on the way, where, to his surprise, he was very well received. At the Penobscot he found several Capuchin friars, under their Superior, Father Ignace, who welcomed him with the utmost cordiality. Returning, he again ascended the Kennebec to the English post at Augusta. At a spot three miles above the Indians had gathered in considerable numbers, and here they built him a chapel after their fashion. He remained till midwinter, catechizing and baptizing, and waging war so successfully against the Indian sorcerers, that medicine-bags were thrown away, and charms and incantations were supplanted by prayers. In January the whole troop set off on their grand hunt, Druilletes following them, “with toil,” says the chronicler, “too great to buy the kingdoms of this world, but very small as a price for the Kingdom of Heaven.” [ Lalemant, Relation, 1647, 54. For an account of this mission, see also Maurault, Histoire des Abenakis, 116-156. ] They encamped on Moosehead Lake, where new disputes with the “medicine-men” ensued, and the Father again remained master of the field. When, after a prosperous hunt, the party returned to the English trading-house, John Winslow, the agent in charge again received the missionary with a kindness which showed no trace of jealousy or religious prejudice.

[ Winslow would scarcely have recognized his own name in the Jesuit spelling,–“Le Sieur de Houinslaud.” In his journal of 1650 Druilletes is more successful in his orthography, and spells it Winslau. ]

Early in the summer Druilletes went to Quebec; and during the two following years, the Abenaquis, for reasons which are not clear, were left without a missionary. He spent another winter of extreme hardship with the Algonquins on their winter rovings, and during summer instructed the wandering savages of Tadoussac. It was not until the autumn of 1650 that he again descended the Kennebec. This time he went as an envoy charged with the negotiation of a treaty. His journey is worthy of notice, since, with the unimportant exception of Jogues’s embassy to the Mohawks, it is the first occasion on which the Canadian Jesuits appear in a character distinctly political. Afterwards, when the fervor and freshness of the missions had passed away, they frequently did the work of political agents among the Indians: but the Jesuit of the earlier period was, with rare exceptions, a missionary only; and though he was expected to exert a powerful influence in gaining subjects and allies for France, he was to do so by gathering them under the wings of the Church.

The Colony of Massachusetts had applied to the French officials at Quebec, with a view to a reciprocity of trade. The Iroquois had brought Canada to extremity, and the French Governor conceived the hope of gaining the powerful support of New England by granting the desired privileges on condition of military aid. But, as the Puritans would scarcely see it for their interest to provoke a dangerous enemy, who had thus far never molested them, it was resolved to urge the proposed alliance as a point of duty. The Abenaquis had suffered from Mohawk inroads; and the French, assuming for the occasion that they were under the jurisdiction of the English colonies, argued that they were bound to protect them. Druilletes went in a double character,–as an envoy of the government at Quebec, and as an agent of his Abenaqui flock, who had been advised to petition for English assistance. The time seemed inauspicious for a Jesuit visit to Boston; for not only had it been announced as foremost among the objects in colonizing New England, “to raise a bulwark against the kingdom of Antichrist, which the Jesuits labor to rear up in all places of the world,” [ 1 ] but, three years before, the Legislature of Massachusetts had enacted, that Jesuits entering the colony should be expelled, and if they returned, hanged. [ 2 ]

[ 1 Considerations for the Plantation in New England.–See Hutchinson, Collection, 27. Mr. Savage thinks that this paper was by Winthrop. See Savage’s Winthrop, I. 360, note. ]

[ 2 See the Act, in Hazard, 550. ]

Nevertheless, on the first of September, Druilletes set forth from Quebec with a Christian chief of Sillery, crossed forests, mountains, and torrents, and reached Norridgewock, the highest Abenaqui settlement on the Kennebec. Thence he descended to the English trading-house at Augusta, where his fast friend, the Puritan Winslow, gave him a warm welcome, entertained him hospitably, and promised to forward the object of his mission. He went with him, at great personal inconvenience, to Merrymeeting Bay, where Druilletes embarked in an English vessel for Boston. The passage was stormy, and the wind ahead. He was forced to land at Cape Ann, or, as he calls it, _Kepane_, whence, partly on foot, partly in boats along the shore, he made his way to Boston. The three-hilled city of the Puritans lay chill and dreary under a December sky, as the priest crossed in a boat from the neighboring peninsula of Charlestown.

Winslow was agent for the merchant, Edward Gibbons, a personage of note, whose life presents curious phases,–a reveller of Merry Mount, a bold sailor, a member of the church, an adventurous trader, an associate of buccaneers, a magistrate of the commonwealth, and a major-general. [ 1 ] The Jesuit, with credentials from the Governor of Canada and letters from Winslow, met a reception widely different from that which the law enjoined against persons of his profession. [ 2 ] Gibbons welcomed him heartily, prayed him to accept no other lodging than his house while he remained in Boston, and gave him the key of a chamber, in order that he might pray after his own fashion, without fear of disturbance. An accurate Catholic writer thinks it likely that he brought with him the means of celebrating the Mass. [ J. G. Shea, in Boston Pilot. ] If so, the house of the Puritan was, no doubt, desecrated by that Popish abomination; but be this as it may, Massachusetts, in the person of her magistrate, became the gracious host of one of those whom, next to the Devil and an Anglican bishop, she most abhorred.

[ 1 An account of him will be found in Palfrey, Hist. of New England, II. 225, note. ]

[ 2 In the Act, an exception, however, was made in favor of Jesuits coming as ambassadors or envoys from their government, who were declared not liable to the penalty of hanging. ]

On the next day, Gibbons took his guest to Roxbury,–called _Rogsbray_ by Druilletes,–to see the Governor, the harsh and narrow Dudley, grown gray in repellent virtue and grim honesty. Some half a century before, he had served in France, under Henry the Fourth; but he had forgotten his French, and called for an interpreter to explain the visitor’s credentials. He received Druilletes with courtesy, and promised to call the magistrates together on the following Tuesday to hear his proposals. They met accordingly, and Druilletes was asked to dine with them. The old Governor sat at the head of the table, and after dinner invited the guest to open the business of his embassy. They listened to him, desired him to withdraw, and, after consulting among themselves, sent for him to join them again at supper, when they made him an answer, of which the record is lost, but which evidently was not definitive.

As the Abenaqui Indians were within the jurisdiction of Plymouth, [ 1 ] Druilletes proceeded thither in his character of their agent. Here, again, he was received with courtesy and kindness. Governor Bradford invited him to dine, and, as it was Friday, considerately gave him a dinner of fish. Druilletes conceived great hope that the colony could be wrought upon to give the desired assistance; for some of the chief inhabitants had an interest in the trade with the Abenaquis. [ 2 ] He came back by land to Boston, stopping again at Roxbury on the way. It was night when he arrived; and, after the usual custom, he took lodging with the minister. Here were several young Indians, pupils of his host: for he was no other than the celebrated Eliot, who, during the past summer, had established his mission at Natick, [ 3 ] and was now laboring, in the fulness of his zeal, in the work of civilization and conversion. There was great sympathy between the two missionaries; and Eliot prayed his guest to spend the winter with him.

[ 1 For the documents on the title of Plymouth to lands on the Kennebec, see Drake’s additions to Baylies’s History of New Plymouth, 36, where they are illustrated by an ancient map. The patent was obtained as early as 1628, and a trading-house soon after established. ]

[ 2 The Record of the Colony of Plymouth, June 5, 1651, contains, however the entry, “The Court declare themselves not to be willing to aid them (the French) in their design, or to grant them liberty to go through their jurisdiction for the aforesaid purpose” (to attack the Mohawks). ]

[ 3 See Palfrey, New England, II. 336. ]

At Salem, which Druilletes also visited, in company with the minister of Marblehead, he had an interview with the stern, but manly, Endicott, who, he says, spoke French, and expressed both interest and good-will towards the objects of the expedition. As the envoy had no money left, Endicott paid his charges, and asked him to dine with the magistrates.

[ On Druilletes’s visit to New England, see his journal, entitled Narre du Voyage faict pour la Mission des Abenaquois, et des Connoissances tiréz de la Nouvelle Angleterre et des Dispositions des Magistrats de cette Republique pour le Secours contre les Iroquois. See also Druilletes, Rapport sur le Résultat deses Négotiations, in Ferland, Notes sur les Registres, 95. ]

Druilletes was evidently struck with the thrift and vigor of these sturdy young colonies, and the strength of their population. He says that Boston, meaning Massachusetts, could alone furnish four thousand fighting men, and that the four united colonies could count forty thousand souls. [ 1 ] These numbers may be challenged; but, at all events, the contrast was striking with the attenuated and suffering bands of priests, nuns, and fur-traders on the St. Lawrence. About twenty-one thousand persons had come from Old to New England, with the resolve of making it their home; and though this immigration had virtually ceased, the natural increase had been great. The necessity, or the strong desire, of escaping from persecution had given the impulse to Puritan colonization; while, on the other hand, none but good Catholics, the favored class of France, were tolerated in Canada. These had no motive for exchanging the comforts of home and the smiles of Fortune for a starving wilderness and the scalping-knives of the Iroquois. The Huguenots would have emigrated in swarms; but they were rigidly forbidden. The zeal of propagandism and the fur-trade were, as we have seen, the vital forces of New France. Of her feeble population, the best part was bound to perpetual chastity; while the fur-traders and those in their service rarely brought their wives to the wilderness. The fur-trader, moreover, is always the worst of colonists; since the increase of population, by diminishing the numbers of the fur-bearing animals, is adverse to his interest. But behind all this there was in the religious ideal of the rival colonies an influence which alone would have gone far to produce the contrast in material growth.

[ 1 Druilletes, Reflexions touchant ce qu’on peut esperer de la Nouvelle Angleterre contre l’Irocquois (sic), appended to his journal. ]

To the mind of the Puritan, heaven was God’s throne; but no less was the earth His footstool: and each in its degree and its kind had its demands on man. He held it a duty to labor and to multiply; and, building on the Old Testament quite as much as on the New, thought that a reward on earth as well as in heaven awaited those who were faithful to the law. Doubtless, such a belief is widely open to abuse, and it would be folly to pretend that it escaped abuse in New England; but there was in it an element manly, healthful, and invigorating. On the other hand, those who shaped the character, and in great measure the destiny, of New France had always on their lips the nothingness and the vanity of life. For them, time was nothing but a preparation for eternity, and the highest virtue consisted in a renunciation of all the cares, toils, and interests of earth. That such a doctrine has often been joined to an intense worldliness, all history proclaims; but with this we have at present nothing to do. If all mankind acted on it in good faith, the world would sink into decrepitude. It is the monastic idea carried into the wide field of active life, and is like the error of those who, in their zeal to cultivate their higher nature, suffer the neglected body to dwindle and pine, till body and mind alike lapse into feebleness and disease.

Druilletes returned to the Abenaquis, and thence to Quebec, full of hope that the object of his mission was in a fair way of accomplishment. The Governor, d’Ailleboust, [ 1 ] who had succeeded Montmagny, called his council, and Druilletes was again dispatched to New England, together with one of the principal inhabitants of Quebec, Jean Paul Godefroy. [ 2 ] They repaired to New Haven, and appeared before the Commissioners of the Four Colonies, then in session there; but their errand proved bootless. The Commissioners refused either to declare war or to permit volunteers to be raised in New England against the Iroquois. The Puritan, like his descendant, would not fight without a reason. The bait of free-trade with Canada failed to tempt him; and the envoys retraced their steps, with a flat, though courteous refusal. [ 3 ]

[ 1 The same who, with his wife, had joined the colonists of Montreal. See ante, chapter 18 (page 264). ]

[ 2 He was one of the Governor’s council.–Ferland, Notes sur les Registres, 67. ]

[ 3 On Druilletes’s second embassy, see Lettre écrite par le Conseil de Quebec aux Commissionaires de la Nouvelle Angleterre, in Charlevoix, I. 287; Extrait des Registres de l’Ancien Conseil de Quebec, Ibid., I. 288; Copy of a Letter from the Commissioners of the United Colonies to the Governor of Canada, in Hazard, II. 183; Answare to the Propositions presented by the honered French Agents, Ibid., II. 184; and Hutchinson, Collection of Papers, 240. Also, Records of the Commissioners of the United Colonies, Sept. 5, 1651; and Commission of Druilletes and Godefroy, in N. Y. Col. Docs., IX. 6. ]

Now let us stop for a moment at Quebec, and observe some notable changes that had taken place in the affairs of the colony. The Company of the Hundred Associates, whose outlay had been great and their profit small, transferred to the inhabitants of the colony their monopoly of the fur-trade, and with it their debts. The inhabitants also assumed their obligations to furnish arms, munitions, soldiers, and works of defence, to pay the Governor and other officials, introduce emigrants, and contribute to support the missions. The Company was to receive, besides, an annual acknowledgement of a thousand pounds of beaver, and was to retain all seigniorial rights. The inhabitants were to form a corporation, of which any one of them might be a member; and no individual could trade on his own account, except on condition of selling at a fixed price to the magazine of this new company.

[ Articles accordés entre les Directeurs et Associés de la Compagnie de la Nelle France et les Députés des Habitans du dit Pays, 6 Mars, 1645. MS. ]

This change took place in 1645. It was followed, in 1647, by the establishment of a Council, composed of the Governor-General, the Superior of the Jesuits, and the Governor of Montreal, who were invested with absolute powers, legislative, judicial, and executive. The Governor-General had an appointment of twenty-five thousand livres, besides the privilege of bringing over seventy tons of freight, yearly, in the Company’s ships. Out of this he was required to pay the soldiers, repair the forts, and supply arms and munitions. Ten thousand livres and thirty tons of freight, with similar conditions, were assigned to the Governor of Montreal. Under these circumstances, one cannot wonder that the colony was but indifferently defended against the Iroquois, and that the King had to send soldiers to save it from destruction. In the next year, at the instance of Maisonneuve, another change was made. A specified sum was set apart for purposes of defence, and the salaries of the Governors were proportionably reduced. The Governor-General, Montmagny, though he seems to have done better than could reasonably have been expected, was removed; and, as Maisonneuve declined the office, d’Ailleboust, another Montrealist, was appointed to it. This movement, indeed, had been accomplished by the interest of the Montreal party; for already there was no slight jealousy between Quebec and her rival.

The Council was reorganized, and now consisted of the Governor, the Superior of the Jesuits, and three of the principal inhabitants. [ The Governors of Montreal and Three Rivers, when present had also seats in the Council. ] These last were to be chosen every three years by the Council itself, in conjunction with the Syndics of Quebec, Montreal, and Three Rivers. The Syndic was an officer elected by the inhabitants of the community to which he belonged, to manage its affairs. Hence a slight ingredient of liberty was introduced into the new organization.

The colony, since the transfer of the fur-trade, had become a resident corporation of merchants, with the Governor and Council at its head. They were at once the directors of a trading company, a legislative assembly, a court of justice, and an executive body: more even than this, for they regulated the private affairs of families and individuals. The appointment and payment of clerks and the examining of accounts mingled with high functions of government; and the new corporation of the inhabitants seems to have been managed with very little consultation of its members. How the Father Superior acquitted himself in his capacity of director of a fur-company is nowhere recorded.

[ Those curious in regard to these new regulations will find an account of them, at greater length, in Ferland and Faillon. ]

As for Montreal, though it had given a Governor to the colony, its prospects were far from hopeful. The ridiculous Dauversière, its chief founder, was sick and bankrupt; and the Associates of Montreal, once so full of zeal and so abounding in wealth, were reduced to nine persons. What it had left of vitality was in the enthusiastic Mademoiselle Mance, the earnest and disinterested soldier, Maisonneuve, and the priest, Olier, with his new Seminary of St. Sulpice.

Let us visit Quebec in midwinter. We pass the warehouses and dwellings of the lower town, and as we climb the zigzag way now called Mountain Street, the frozen river, the roofs, the summits of the cliff, and all the broad landscape below and around us glare in the sharp sunlight with a dazzling whiteness. At the top, scarcely a private house is to be seen; but, instead, a fort, a church, a hospital, a cemetery, a house of the Jesuits, and an Ursuline convent. Yet, regardless of the keen air, soldiers, Jesuits, servants, officials, women, all of the little community who are not cloistered, are abroad and astir. Despite the gloom of the times, an unwonted cheer enlivens this rocky perch of France and the Faith; for it is New-Year’s Day, and there is an active interchange of greetings and presents. Thanks to the nimble pen of the Father Superior, we know what each gave and what each received. He thus writes in his private journal:–“The soldiers went with their guns to salute Monsieur the Governor; and so did also the inhabitants in a body. He was beforehand with us, and came here at seven o’clock to wish us a happy New-Year, each in turn, one after another. I went to see him after mass. Another time we must be beforehand with him. M. Giffard also came to see us. The Hospital nuns sent us letters of compliment very early in the morning; and the Ursulines sent us some beautiful presents, with candles, rosaries, a crucifix, etc., and, at dinner time, two excellent pies. I sent them two images, in enamel, of St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier. We gave to M. Giffard Father Bonnet’s book on the life of Our Lord; to M. des Châtelets, a little volume on Eternity; to M. Bourdon, a telescope and compass; and to others, reliquaries, rosaries, medals, images, etc. I went to see M. Giffard, M. Couillard, and Mademoiselle de Repentigny. The Ursulines sent to beg that I would come and see them before the end of the day. I went, and paid my compliments also to Madame de la Peltrie, who sent us some presents. I was near leaving this out, which would have been a sad oversight. We gave a crucifix to the woman who washes the church-linen, a bottle of eau-de-vie to Abraham, four handkerchiefs to his wife, some books of devotion to others, and two handkerchiefs to Robert Hache. He asked for two more, and we gave them to him.”

[ Journal des Supérieurs des Jésuites, MS. Only fragments of this curious record are extant. It was begun by Lalemant in 1645. For the privilege of having what remains of it copied I am indebted to M. Jacques Viger. The entry translated above is of Jan. 1, 1646. Of the persons named in it, Giffard was seigneur of Beauport, and a member of the Council; Des Châtelets was one of the earliest settlers, and connected by marriage with Giffard; Couillard was son-in-law of the first settler, Hébert; Mademoiselle de Repentigny was daughter of Le Gardeur de Repentigny, commander of the fleet; Madame de la Peltrie has been described already; Bourdon was chief engineer of the colony; Abraham was Abraham Martin, pilot for the King on the St. Lawrence, from whom the historic Plains of Abraham received their name. (See Ferland, Notes sur Registres, 16.) The rest were servants, or persons of humble station. ]





It was a strange and miserable spectacle to behold the savages of this continent at the time when the knell of their common ruin had already sounded. Civilization had gained a foothold on their borders. The long and gloomy reign of barbarism was drawing near its close, and their united efforts could scarcely have availed to sustain it. Yet, in this crisis of their destiny, these doomed tribes were tearing each other’s throats in a wolfish fury, joined to an intelligence that served little purpose but mutual destruction.

How the quarrel began between the Iroquois and their Huron kindred no man can tell, and it is not worth while to conjecture. At this time, the ruling passion of the savage Confederates was the annihilation of this rival people and of their Algonquin allies,–if the understanding between the Hurons and these incoherent hordes can be called an alliance. United, they far outnumbered the Iroquois. Indeed, the Hurons alone were not much inferior in force; for, by the largest estimates, the strength of the five Iroquois nations must now have been considerably less than three thousand warriors. Their true superiority was a moral one. They were in one of those transports of pride, self-confidence, and rage for ascendency, which, in a savage people, marks an era of conquest. With all the defects of their organization, it was far better than that of their neighbors. There were bickerings, jealousies, plottings, and counter plottings, separate wars and separate treaties, among the five members of the league; yet nothing could sunder them. The bonds that united them were like cords of India-rubber: they would stretch, and the parts would be seemingly disjoined, only to return to their old union with the recoil. Such was the elastic strength of those relations of clanship which were the life of the league. [ See ante, Introduction. ]

The first meeting of white men with the Hurons found them at blows with the Iroquois; and from that time forward, the war raged with increasing fury. Small scalping-parties infested the Huron forests, killing squaws in the cornfields, or entering villages at midnight to tomahawk their sleeping inhabitants. Often, too, invasions were made in force. Sometimes towns were set upon and burned, and sometimes there were deadly conflicts in the depths of the forests and the passes of the hills. The invaders were not always successful. A bloody rebuff and a sharp retaliation now and then requited them. Thus, in 1638, a war-party of a hundred Iroquois met in the forest a band of three hundred Huron and Algonquin warriors. They might have retreated, and the greater number were for doing so; but Ononkwaya, an Oneida chief, refused. “Look!” he said, “the sky is clear; the Sun beholds us. If there were clouds to hide our shame from his sight, we might fly; but, as it is, we must fight while we can.” They stood their ground for a time, but were soon overborne. Four or five escaped; but the rest were surrounded, and killed or taken. This year, Fortune smiled on the Hurons; and they took, in all, more than a hundred prisoners, who were distributed among their various towns, to be burned. These scenes, with them, occurred always in the night; and it was held to be of the last importance that the torture should be protracted from sunset till dawn. The too valiant Ononkwaya was among the victims. Even in death he took his revenge; for it was thought an augury of disaster to the victors, if no cry of pain could he extorted from the sufferer, and, on the present occasion, he displayed an unflinching courage, rare even among Indian warriors. His execution took place at the town of Teanaustayé, called St. Joseph by the Jesuits. The Fathers could not save his life, but, what was more to the purpose, they baptized him. On the scaffold where he was burned, he wrought himself into a fury which seemed to render him insensible to pain. Thinking him nearly spent, his tormentors scalped him, when, to their amazement, he leaped up, snatched the brands that had been the instruments of his torture, drove the screeching crowd from the scaffold, and held them all at bay, while they pelted him from below with sticks, stones, and showers of live coals. At length he made a false step and fell to the ground, when they seized him and threw him into the fire. He instantly leaped out, covered with blood, cinders, and ashes, and rushed upon them, with a blazing brand in each hand. The crowd gave way before him, and he ran towards the town, as if to set it on fire. They threw a pole across his way, which tripped him and flung him headlong to the earth, on which they all fell upon him, cut off his hands and feet, and again threw him into the fire. He rolled himself out, and crawled forward on his elbows and knees, glaring upon them with such unutterable ferocity that they recoiled once more, till, seeing that he was helpless, they threw themselves upon him, and cut off his head.

[ Lalemant, Relation des Hurons, 1639, 68. It was this chief whose severed hand was thrown to the Jesuits. See ante, chapter 11 (page 137). ]

When the Iroquois could not win by force, they were sometimes more successful with treachery. In the summer of 1645, two war-parties of the hostile nations met in the forest. The Hurons bore themselves so well that they had nearly gained the day, when the Iroquois called for a parley, displayed a great number of wampum-belts, and said that they wished to treat for peace. The Hurons had the folly to consent. The chiefs on both sides sat down to a council, during which the Iroquois, seizing a favorable moment, fell upon their dupes and routed them completely, killing and capturing a considerable number. [ Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1646, 55. ]

The large frontier town of St. Joseph was well fortified with palisades, on which, at intervals, were wooden watch-towers. On an evening of this same summer of 1645, the Iroquois approached the place in force; and the young Huron warriors, mounting their palisades, sang their war-songs all night, with the utmost power of their lungs, in order that the enemy, knowing them to be on their guard, might be deterred from an attack. The night was dark, and the hideous dissonance resounded far and wide; yet, regardless of the din, two Iroquois crept close to the palisade, where they lay motionless till near dawn. By this time the last song had died away, and the tired singers had left their posts or fallen asleep. One of the Iroquois, with the silence and agility of a wild-cat, climbed to the top of a watch-tower, where he found two slumbering Hurons, brained one of them with his hatchet, and threw the other down to his comrade, who quickly despoiled him of his life and his scalp. Then, with the reeking trophies of their exploit, the adventurers rejoined their countrymen in the forest.

The Hurons planned a counter-stroke; and three of them, after a journey of twenty days, reached the great town of the Senecas. They entered it at midnight, and found, as usual, no guard; but the doors of the houses were made fast. They cut a hole in the bark side of one of them, crept in, stirred the fading embers to give them light, chose each his man, tomahawked him, scalped him, and escaped in the confusion. [ Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1646, 55, 56. ]

Despite such petty triumphs, the Hurons felt themselves on the verge of ruin. Pestilence and war had wasted them away, and left but a skeleton of their former strength. In their distress, they cast about them for succor, and, remembering an ancient friendship with a kindred nation, the Andastes, they sent an embassy to ask of them aid in war or intervention to obtain peace. This powerful people dwelt, as has been shown, on the River Susquehanna. [ 1 ] The way was long, even in a direct line; but the Iroquois lay between, and a wide circuit was necessary to avoid them. A Christian chief, whom the Jesuits had named Charles, together with four Christian and four heathen Hurons, bearing wampum-belts and gifts from the council, departed on this embassy on the thirteenth of April, 1647, and reached the great town of the Andastes early in June. It contained, as the Jesuits were told, no less than thirteen hundred warriors. The council assembled, and the chief ambassador addressed them:–

“We come from the Land of Souls, where all is gloom, dismay, and desolation. Our fields are covered with blood; our houses are filled only with the dead; and we ourselves have but life enough to beg our friends to take pity on a people who are drawing near their end.” [ 2 ] Then he presented the wampum-belts and other gifts, saying that they were the voice of a dying country.

[ 1 See Introduction. The Susquehannocks of Smith, clearly the same people, are placed, in his map, on the east side of the Susquehanna, some twenty miles from its mouth. He speaks of them as great enemies of the Massawomekes (Mohawks). No other savage people so boldly resisted the Iroquois; but the story in Hazard’s Annals of Pennsylvania, that a hundred of them beat off sixteen hundred Senecas, is disproved by the fact, that the Senecas, in their best estate, never had so many warriors. The miserable remnant of the Andastes, called Conestogas, were massacred by the Paxton Boys, in 1763. See “Conspiracy of Pontiac,” 414. Compare Historical Magazine, II. 294. ]

[ 2 “Il leur dit qu’il venoit du pays des Ames, où la guerre et la terreur des ennemis auoit tout desolé, où les campagnes n’estoient couuertes que de sang, où les cabanes n’estoient remplies que de cadaures, et qu’il ne leur restoit à eux-mesmes de vie, sinon autant qu’ils en auoient eu besoin pour venir dire à leurs amis, qu’ils eussent pitié d’vn pays qui tiroit à sa fin.”–Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1648, 58. ]

The Andastes, who had a mortal quarrel with the Mohawks, and who had before promised to aid the Hurons in case of need, returned a favorable answer, but were disposed to try the virtue of diplomacy rather than the tomahawk. After a series of councils, they determined to send ambassadors, not to their old enemies, the Mohawks, but to the Onondagas, Oneidas, and Cayugas, [ 1 ] who were geographically the central nations of the Iroquois league, while the Mohawks and the Senecas were respectively at its eastern and western extremities. By inducing the three central nations, and, if possible, the Senecas also, to conclude a treaty with the Hurons, these last would be enabled to concentrate their force against the Mohawks, whom the Andastes would attack at the same time, unless they humbled themselves and made peace. This scheme, it will be seen, was based on the assumption, that the dreaded league of the Iroquois was far from being a unit in action or counsel.

[ 1 Examination leaves no doubt that the Ouiouenronnons of Ragueneau (Relation des Hurons, 1648, 46, 59) were the Oiogouins or Goyogouins, that is to say, the Cayugas. They must not be confounded with the Ouenrohronnons, a small tribe hostile to the Iroquois, who took refuge among the Hurons in 1638. ]

Charles, with some of his colleagues, now set out for home, to report the result of their mission; but the Senecas were lying in wait for them, and they were forced to make a wide sweep through the Alleghanies, Western Pennsylvania, and apparently Ohio, to avoid these vigilant foes. It was October before they reached the Huron towns, and meanwhile hopes of peace had arisen from another quarter. [ On this mission of the Hurons to the Andastes, see Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1648, 58-60. ]

Early in the spring, a band of Onondagas had made an inroad, but were roughly handled by the Hurons, who killed several of them, captured others, and put the rest to flight. The prisoners were burned, with the exception of one who committed suicide to escape the torture, and one other, the chief man of the party, whose name was Annenrais. Some of the Hurons were dissatisfied at the mercy shown him, and gave out that they would kill him; on which the chiefs, who never placed themselves in open opposition to the popular will, secretly fitted him out, made him presents, and aided him to escape at night, with an understanding that he should use his influence at Onondaga in favor of peace. After crossing Lake Ontario, he met nearly all the Onondaga warriors on the march to avenge his supposed death; for he was a man of high account. They greeted him as one risen from the grave; and, on his part, he persuaded them to renounce their warlike purpose and return home. On their arrival, the chiefs and old men were called to council, and the matter was debated with the usual deliberation.

About this time the ambassador of the Andastes appeared with his wampum-belts. Both this nation and the Onondagas had secret motives which were perfectly in accordance. The Andastes hated the Mohawks as enemies, and the Onondagas were jealous of them as confederates; for, since they had armed themselves with Dutch guns, their arrogance and boastings had given umbrage to their brethren of the league; and a peace with the Hurons would leave the latter free to turn their undivided strength against the Mohawks, and curb their insolence. The Oneidas and the Cayugas were of one mind with the Onondagas. Three nations of the league, to satisfy their spite against a fourth, would strike hands with the common enemy of all. It was resolved to send an embassy to the Hurons. Yet it may be, that, after all, the Onondagas had but half a mind for peace. At least, they were unfortunate in their choice of an ambassador. He was by birth a Huron, who, having been captured when a boy, adopted and naturalized, had become more an Iroquois than the Iroquois themselves; and scarcely one of the fierce confederates had shed so much Huron blood. When he reached the town of St. Ignace, which he did about midsummer, and delivered his messages and wampum-belts, there was a great division of opinion among the Hurons. The Bear Nation–the member of their confederacy which was farthest from the Iroquois, and least exposed to danger–was for rejecting overtures made by so offensive an agency; but those of the Hurons who had suffered most were eager for peace at any price, and, after solemn deliberation, it was resolved to send an embassy in return. At its head was placed a Christian chief named Jean Baptiste Atironta; and on the first of August he and four others departed for Onondaga, carrying a profusion of presents, and accompanied by the apostate envoy of the Iroquois. As the ambassadors had to hunt on the way for subsistence, besides making canoes to cross Lake Ontario, it was twenty days before they reached their destination. When they arrived, there was great jubilation, and, for a full month, nothing but councils. Having thus sifted the matter to the bottom, the Onondagas determined at last to send another embassy with Jean Baptiste on his return, and with them fifteen Huron prisoners, as an earnest of their good intentions, retaining, on their part, one of Baptiste’s colleagues as a hostage. This time they chose for their envoy a chief of their own nation, named Scandawati, a man of renown, sixty years of age, joining with him two colleagues. The old Onondaga entered on his mission with a troubled mind. His anxiety was not so much for his life as for his honor and dignity; for, while the Oneidas and the Cayugas were acting in concurrence with the Onondagas, the Senecas had refused any part in the embassy, and still breathed nothing but war. Would they, or still more the Mohawks, so far forget the consideration due to one whose name had been great in the councils of the League as to assault the Hurons while he was among them in the character of an ambassador of his nation, whereby his honor would be compromised and his life endangered. His mind brooded on this idea, and he told one of his colleagues, that, if such a slight were put upon him, he should die of mortification. “I am not a dead dog,” he said, “to be despised and forgotten. I am worthy that all men should turn their eyes on me while I am among enemies, and do nothing that may involve me in danger.”

What with hunting, fishing, canoe-making, and bad weather, the progress of the august travellers was so slow, that they did not reach the Huron towns till the twenty-third of October. Scandawati presented seven large belts of wampum, each composed of three or four thousand beads, which the Jesuits call the pearls and diamonds of the country. He delivered, too, the fifteen captives, and promised a hundred more on the final conclusion of peace. The three Onondagas remained, as surety for the good faith of those who sent them, until the beginning of January, when the Hurons on their part sent six ambassadors to conclude the treaty, one of the Onondagas accompanying them. Soon there came dire tidings. The prophetic heart of the old chief had not deceived him. The Senecas and Mohawks, disregarding negotiations in which they had no part, and resolved to bring them to an end, were invading the country in force. It might be thought that the Hurons would take their revenge on the Onondaga envoys, now hostages among them; but they did not do so, for the character of an ambassador was, for the most part, held in respect. One morning, however, Scandawati had disappeared. They were full of excitement; for they thought that he had escaped to the enemy. They ranged the woods in search of him, and at length found him in a thicket near the town. He lay dead, on a bed of spruce-boughs which he had made, his throat deeply gashed with a knife. He had died by his own hand, a victim of mortified pride. “See,” writes Father Ragueneau, “how much our Indians stand on the point of honor!” [ This remarkable story is told by Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1648, 56-58. He was present at the time, and knew all the circumstances. ]

We have seen that one of his two colleagues had set out for Onondaga with a deputation of six Hurons. This party was met by a hundred Mohawks, who captured them all and killed the six Hurons but spared the Onondaga, and compelled him to join them. Soon after, they made a sudden onset on about three hundred Hurons journeying through the forest from the town of St. Ignace; and, as many of them were women, they routed the whole, and took forty prisoners. The Onondaga bore part in the fray, and captured a Christian Huron girl; but the next day he insisted on returning to the Huron town. “Kill me, if you will,” he said to the Mohawks, “but I cannot follow you; for then I should be ashamed to appear among my countrymen, who sent me on a message of peace to the Hurons; and I must die with them, sooner than seem to act as their enemy.” On this, the Mohawks not only permitted him to go, but gave him the Huron girl whom he had taken; and the Onondaga led her back in safety to her countrymen. [ 1 ] Here, then, is a ray of light out of Egyptian darkness. The principle of honor was not extinct in these wild hearts.

[ 1 “Celuy qui l’auoit prise estoit Onnontaeronnon, qui estant icy en os tage à cause de la paix qui se traite auec les Onnontaeronnons, et s’estant trouué auec nos Hurons à cette chasse, y fut pris tout des premiers par les Sonnontoueronnons (Annieronnons?), qui l’ayans reconnu ne luy firent aucun mal, et mesme l’obligerent de les suiure et prendre part à leur victoire; et ainsi en ce rencontre cét Onnontaeronnon auoit fait sa prise, tellement neantmoins qu’il desira s’en retourner le lendemain, disant aux Sonnontoueronnons qu’ils le tuassent s’ils vouloient, mais qu’il ne pouuoit se resoudre à les suiure, et qu’il auroit honte de reparoistre en son pays, les affaires qui l’auoient amené aux Hurons pour la paix ne permettant pas qu’il fist autre chose que de mourir avec eux plus tost que de paroistre s’estre comporté en ennemy. Ainsi les Sonnontoueronnons luy permirent de s’en retourner et de ramener cette bonne Chrestienne, qui estoit sa captiue, laquelle nous a consolé par le recit des entretiens de ces pauures gens dans leur affliction.”– Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1648, 65.

Apparently the word Sonnontoueronnons (Senecas), in the above, should read Annieronnons (Mohawks); for, on pp. 50, 57, the writer twice speaks of the party as Mohawks. ]

We hear no more of the negotiations between the Onondagas and the Hurons. They and their results were swept away in the storm of events soon to be related.





How did it fare with the missions in these days of woe and terror? They had thriven beyond hope. The Hurons, in their time of trouble, had become tractable. They humbled themselves, and, in their desolation and despair, came for succor to the priests. There was a harvest of converts, not only exceeding in numbers that of all former years, but giving in many cases undeniable proofs of sincerity and fervor. In some towns the Christians outnumbered the heathen, and in nearly all they formed a strong party. The mission of La Conception, or Ossossané, was the most successful. Here there were now a church and one or more resident Jesuits,–as also at St. Joseph, St. Ignace, St. Michel, and St. Jean Baptiste: [ 1 ] for we have seen that the Huron towns were christened with names of saints. Each church had its bell, which was sometimes hung in a neighboring tree. [ 2 ] Every morning it rang its summons to mass; and, issuing from their dwellings of bark, the converts gathered within the sacred precinct, where the bare, rude walls, fresh from the axe and saw, contrasted with the sheen of tinsel and gilding, and the hues of gay draperies and gaudy pictures. At evening they met again at prayers; and on Sunday, masses, confession, catechism, sermons, and repeating the rosary consumed the whole day. [ 3 ]

[ 1 Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1646, 56. ]

[ 2 A fragment of one of these bells, found on the site of a Huron town, is preserved in the museum of Huron relics at the Laval University, Quebec. The bell was not large, but was of very elaborate workmanship. Before 1644 the Jesuits had used old copper kettles as a substitute.– Lettre de Lalemant, 31 March, 1644. ]

[ 3 Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1646, 56. ]

These converts rarely took part in the burning of prisoners. On the contrary, they sometimes set their faces against the practice; and on one occasion, a certain Étienne Totiri, while his heathen countrymen were tormenting a captive Iroquois at St. Ignace, boldly denounced them, and promised them an eternity of flames and demons, unless they desisted. Not content with this, he addressed an exhortation to the sufferer in one of the intervals of his torture. The dying wretch demanded baptism, which Étienne took it upon himself to administer, amid the hootings of the crowd, who, as he ran with a cup of water from a neighboring house, pushed him to and fro to make him spill it, crying out, “Let him alone! Let the devils burn him after we have done!”

[ Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1646, 58. The Hurons often resisted the baptism of their prisoners, on the ground that Hell, and not Heaven, was the place to which they would have them go.–See Lalemant, Relation des Hurons, 1642, 60, Ragueneau, Ibid., 1648, 53, and several other passages. ]

In regard to these atrocious scenes, which formed the favorite Huron recreation of a summer night, the Jesuits, it must be confessed, did not quite come up to the requirements of modern sensibility. They were offended at them, it is true, and prevented them when they could; but they were wholly given to the saving of souls, and held the body in scorn, as the vile source of incalculable mischief, worthy the worst inflictions that could be put upon it. What were a few hours of suffering to an eternity of bliss or woe? If the victim were heathen, these brief pangs were but the faint prelude of an undying flame; and if a Christian, they were the fiery portal of Heaven. They might, indeed, be a blessing; since, accepted in atonement for sin, they would shorten the torments of Purgatory. Yet, while schooling themselves to despise the body, and all the pain or pleasure that pertained to it, the Fathers were emphatic on one point. It must not be eaten. In the matter of cannibalism, they were loud and vehement in invective.

[ The following curious case of conversion at the stake, gravely related by Lalemant, is worth preserving.

“An Iroquois was to be burned at a town some way off. What consolation to set forth, in the hottest summer weather, to deliver this poor victim from the hell prepared for him! The Father approaches him, and instructs him even in the midst of his torments. Forthwith the Faith finds a place in his heart, he recognizes and adores, as the author of his life, Him whose name he had never heard till the hour of his death. He receives the grace of baptism, and breathes nothing but heaven. . . . This newly made, but generous Christian, mounted on the scaffold which is the place of his torture, in the sight of a thousand spectators, who are at once his enemies, his judges, and his executioners, raises his eyes and his voice heavenward, and cries aloud, ‘Sun, who art witness of my torments, hear my words! I am about to die; but, after my death, I shall go to dwell in heaven.'”–Relation des Hurons, 1641, 67.

The Sun, it will be remembered, was the god of the heathen Iroquois. The convert appealed to his old deity to rejoice with him in his happy future. ]

Undeniably, the Faith was making progress; yet it is not to be supposed that its path was a smooth one. The old opposition and the old calumnies were still alive and active. “It is _la prière_ that kills us. Your books and your strings of beads have bewitched the country. Before you came, we were happy and prosperous. You are magicians. Your charms kill our corn, and bring sickness and the Iroquois. Echon (Brébeuf) is a traitor among us, in league with our enemies.” Such discourse was still rife, openly and secretly.