and build a fort of felled trees in the woods. The Hurons attacked them; but the invaders made so fierce a defence, that they kept their assailants at bay, and at length retreated with little or no loss. Soon after, a much larger band of Onondaga Iroquois, approaching undiscovered, built a fort on the main-land, opposite the island, but concealed from sight in the forest. Here they waited to waylay any party of Hurons who might venture ashore. A Huron war chief, named Étienne Annaotaha, whose life is described as a succession of conflicts and adventures, and who is said to have been always in luck, landed with a few companions, and fell into an ambuscade of the Iroquois. He prepared to defend himself, when they called out to him, that they came not as enemies, but as friends, and that they brought wampum-belts and presents to persuade the Hurons to forget the past, go back with them to their country, become their adopted countrymen, and live with them as one nation. Étienne suspected treachery, but concealed his distrust, and advanced towards the Iroquois with an air of the utmost confidence. They received him with open arms, and pressed him to accept their invitation; but he replied, that there were older and wiser men among the Hurons, whose counsels all the people followed, and that they ought to lay the proposal before them. He proceeded to advise them to keep him as a hostage, and send over his companions, with some of their chiefs, to open the negotiation. His apparent frankness completely deceived them; and they insisted that he himself should go to the Huron village, while his companions remained as hostages. He set out accordingly with three of the principal Iroquois.
When he reached the village, he gave the whoop of one who brings good tidings, and proclaimed with a loud voice that the hearts of their enemies had changed, that the Iroquois would become their countrymen and brothers, and that they should exchange their miseries for a life of peace and plenty in a fertile and prosperous land. The whole Huron population, full of joyful excitement, crowded about him and the three envoys, who were conducted to the principal lodge, and feasted on the best that the village could supply. Étienne seized the opportunity to take aside four or five of the principal chiefs, and secretly tell them his suspicions that the Iroquois were plotting to compass their destruction under cover of overtures of peace; and he proposed that they should meet treachery with treachery. He then explained his plan, which was highly approved by his auditors, who begged him to charge himself with the execution of it. Étienne now caused criers to proclaim through the village that every one should get ready to emigrate in a few days to the country of their new friends. The squaws began their preparations at once, and all was bustle and alacrity; for the Hurons themselves were no less deceived than were the Iroquois envoys.
During one or two succeeding days, many messages and visits passed between the Hurons and the Iroquois, whose confidence was such, that thirty-seven of their best warriors at length came over in a body to the Huron village. Étienne’s time had come. He and the chiefs who were in the secret gave the word to the Huron warriors, who, at a signal, raised the war-whoop, rushed upon their visitors, and cut them to pieces. One of them, who lingered for a time, owned before he died that Étienne’s suspicions were just, and that they had designed nothing less than the massacre or capture of all the Hurons. Three of the Iroquois, immediately before the slaughter began, had received from Étienne a warning of their danger in time to make their escape. The year before, he had been captured, with Brébeuf and Lalemant, at the town of St. Louis, and had owed his life to these three warriors, to whom he now paid back the debt of gratitude. They carried tidings of what had befallen to their countrymen on the main-land, who, aghast at the catastrophe, fled homeward in a panic.
[ Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1651, 5, 6. Le Mercier, in the Relation of 1654, preserves the speech of a Huron chief, in which he speaks of this affair, and adds some particulars not mentioned by Ragueneau. He gives thirty-four as the number killed. ]
Here was a sweet morsel of vengeance. The miseries of the Hurons were lighted up with a brief gleam of joy; but it behooved them to make a timely retreat from their island before the Iroquois came to exact a bloody retribution. Towards spring, while the lake was still frozen, many of them escaped on the ice, while another party afterwards followed in canoes. A few, who had neither strength to walk nor canoes to transport them, perforce remained behind, and were soon massacred by the Iroquois. The fugitives directed their course to the Grand Manitoulin Island, where they remained for a short time, and then, to the number of about four hundred, descended the Ottawa, and rejoined their countrymen who had gone to Quebec the year before.
These united parties, joined from time to time by a few other fugitives, formed a settlement on land belonging to the Jesuits, near the south- western extremity of the Isle of Orleans, immediately below Quebec. Here the Jesuits built a fort, like that on Isle St. Joseph, with a chapel, and a small house for the missionaries, while the bark dwellings of the Hurons were clustered around the protecting ramparts. [ 1 ] Tools and seeds were given them, and they were encouraged to cultivate the soil. Gradually they rallied from their dejection, and the mission settlement was beginning to wear an appearance of thrift, when, in 1656, the Iroquois made a descent upon them, and carried off a large number of captives, under the very cannon of Quebec; the French not daring to fire upon the invaders, lest they should take revenge upon the Jesuits who were at that time in their country. This calamity was, four years after, followed by another, when the best of the Huron warriors, including their leader, the crafty and valiant Étienne Annaotaha, were slain, fighting side by side with the French, in the desperate conflict of the Long Sault. [ Relation, 1660 (anonymous), 14. ]
[ 1 The site of the fort was the estate now known as “La Terre du Fort,” near the landing of the steam ferry. In 1856, Mr. N. H. Bowen, a resident near the spot, in making some excavations, found a solid stone wall five feet thick, which, there can be little doubt, was that of the work in question. This wall was originally crowned with palisades. See Bowen, Historical Sketch of the Isle of Orleans, 25. ]
The attenuated colony, replenished by some straggling bands of the same nation, and still numbering several hundred persons, was removed to Quebec after the inroad in 1656, and lodged in a square inclosure of palisades close to the fort. [ In a plan of Quebec of 1660, the “Fort des Hurons” is laid down on a spot adjoining the north side of the present Place d’Armes. ] Here they remained about ten years, when, the danger of the times having diminished, they were again removed to a place called Notre-Dame de Foy, now Ste. Foi, three or four miles west of Quebec. Six years after, when the soil was impoverished and the wood in the neighborhood exhausted, they again changed their abode, and, under the auspices of the Jesuits, who owned the land, settled at Old Lorette, nine miles from Quebec.
Chaumonot was at this time their missionary. It may be remembered that he had professed special devotion to Our Lady of Loretto, who, in his boyhood, had cured him, as he believed, of a distressing malady. [ See ante, chapter 9 (p. 102). ] He had always cherished the idea of building a chapel in honor of her in Canada, after the model of the Holy House of Loretto,–which, as all the world knows, is the house wherein Saint Joseph dwelt with his virgin spouse, and which angels bore through the air from the Holy Land to Italy, where it remains an object of pilgrimage to this day. Chaumonot opened his plan to his brother Jesuits, who were delighted with it, and the chapel was begun at once, not without the intervention of miracle to aid in raising the necessary funds. It was built of brick, like its original, of which it was an exact facsimile; and it stood in the centre of a quadrangle, the four sides of which were formed by the bark dwellings of the Hurons, ranged with perfect order in straight lines. Hither came many pilgrims from Quebec and more distant settlements, and here Our Lady granted to her suppliants, says Chaumonot, many miraculous favors, insomuch that “it would require an entire book to describe them all.”
[ “Les grâces qu’on y obtient par l’entremise de la Mère de Dieu vont jusqu’au miracle. Comme il faudroit composer un livre entier pour décrire toutes ces faveurs extraordinaires, je n’en rapporterai que deux, ayant été témoin oculaire de l’une et propre sujet de l’autre.”–Vie, 95.
The removal from Notre-Dame de Foy took place at the end of 1673, and the chapel was finished in the following year. Compare Vie de Chaumonot with Dablon, Relation, 1672-73, p. 21; and Ibid., Relation 1673-79, p. 259. ]
But the Hurons were not destined to remain permanently even here; for, before the end of the century, they removed to a place four miles distant, now called New Lorette, or Indian Lorette. It was a wild spot, covered with the primitive forest, and seamed by a deep and tortuous ravine, where the St. Charles foams, white as a snow-drift, over the black ledges, and where the sunlight struggles through matted boughs of the pine and fir, to bask for brief moments on the mossy rocks or flash on the hurrying waters. On a plateau beside the torrent, another chapel was built to Our Lady, and another Huron town sprang up; and here, to this day, the tourist finds the remnant of a lost people, harmless weavers of baskets and sewers of moccasins, the Huron blood fast bleaching out of them, as, with every generation, they mingle and fade away in the French population around.
[ An interesting account of a visit to Indian Lorette in 1721 will be found in the Journal Historique of Charlevoix. Kalm, in his Travels in North America, describes its condition in 1749. See also Le Beau, Aventures, I. 103; who, however, can hardly be regarded as an authority. ]
IROQUOIS AMBITION.–ITS VICTIMS.–THE FATE OF THE NEUTRALS.– THE FATE OF THE ERIES.–THE WAR WITH THE ANDASTES.– SUPREMACY OF THE IROQUOIS.
It was well for the European colonies, above all for those of England, that the wisdom of the Iroquois was but the wisdom of savages. Their sagacity is past denying; it showed itself in many ways; but it was not equal to a comprehension of their own situation and that of their race. Could they have read their destiny, and curbed their mad ambition, they might have leagued with themselves four great communities of kindred lineage, to resist the encroachments of civilization, and oppose a barrier of fire to the spread of the young colonies of the East. But their organization and their intelligence were merely the instruments of a blind frenzy, which impelled them to destroy those whom they might have made their allies in a common cause.
Of the four kindred communities, two at least, the Hurons and the Neutrals, were probably superior in numbers to the Iroquois. Either one of these, with union and leadership, could have held its ground against them, and the two united could easily have crippled them beyond the power of doing mischief. But these so-called nations were mere aggregations of villages and families, with nothing that deserved to be called a government. They were very liable to panics, because the part attacked by an enemy could never rely with confidence on prompt succor from the rest; and when once broken, they could not be rallied, because they had no centre around which to gather. The Iroquois, on the other hand, had an organization with which the ideas and habits of several generations were interwoven, and they had also sagacious leaders for peace and war. They discussed all questions of policy with the coolest deliberation, and knew how to turn to profit even imperfections in their plan of government which seemed to promise only weakness and discord. Thus, any nation, or any large town, of their confederacy, could make a separate war or a separate peace with a foreign nation, or any part of it. Some member of the league, as, for example, the Cayugas, would make a covenant of friendship with the enemy, and, while the infatuated victims were thus lulled into a delusive security, the war-parties of the other nations, often joined by the Cayuga warriors, would overwhelm them by a sudden onset. But it was not by their craft, nor by their organization,–which for military purposes was wretchedly feeble,–that this handful of savages gained a bloody supremacy. They carried all before them, because they were animated throughout, as one man, by the same audacious pride and insatiable rage for conquest. Like other Indians, they waged war on a plan altogether democratic,–that is, each man fought or not, as he saw fit; and they owed their unity and vigor of action to the homicidal frenzy that urged them all alike.
The Neutral Nation had taken no part, on either side, in the war of extermination against the Hurons; and their towns were sanctuaries where either of the contending parties might take asylum. On the other hand, they made fierce war on their western neighbors, and, a few years before, destroyed, with atrocious cruelties, a large fortified town of the Nation of Fire. [ 1 ] Their turn was now come, and their victims found fit avengers; for no sooner were the Hurons broken up and dispersed, than the Iroquois, without waiting to take breath, turned their fury on the Neutrals. At the end of the autumn of 1650, they assaulted and took one of their chief towns, said to have contained at the time more than sixteen hundred men, besides women and children; and early in the following spring, they took another town. The slaughter was prodigious, and the victors drove back troops of captives for butchery or adoption. It was the death-blow of the Neutrals. They abandoned their corn-fields and villages in the wildest terror, and dispersed themselves abroad in forests, which could not yield sustenance to such a multitude. They perished by thousands, and from that time forth the nation ceased to exist. [ 2 ]
[ 1 “Last summer,” writes Lalemant in 1643, “two thousand warriors of the Neutral Nation attacked a town of the Nation of Fire, well fortified with a palisade, and defended by nine hundred warriors. They took it after a siege of ten days; killed many on the spot; and made eight hundred prisoners, men, women, and children. After burning seventy of the best warriors, they put out the eyes of the old men, and cut away their lips, and then left them to drag out a miserable existence. Behold the scourge that is depopulating all this country!”–Relation des Hurons, 1644, 98.
The Assistaeronnons, Atsistaehonnons, Mascoutins, or Nation of Fire (more correctly, perhaps, Nation of the Prairie), were a very numerous Algonquin people of the West, speaking the same language as the Sacs and Foxes. In the map of Sanson, they are placed in the southern part of Michigan; and according to the Relation of 1658, they had thirty towns. They were a stationary, and in some measure an agricultural people. They fled before their enemies to the neighborhood of Fox River in Wisconsin, where they long remained. Frequent mention of them will be found in the later Relations, and in contemporary documents. They are now extinct as a tribe. ]
[ 2 Ragueneau, Relation, 1651, 4. In the unpublished journal kept by the Superior of the Jesuits at Quebec, it is said, under date of April, 1651, that news had just come from Montreal, that, in the preceding autumn, fifteen hundred Iroquois had taken a Neutral town; that the Neutrals had afterwards attacked them, and killed two hundred of their warriors; and that twelve hundred Iroquois had again invaded the Neutral country to take their revenge. Lafitau, Murs des Sauvaqes, II. 176, gives, on the authority of Father Julien Garnier, a singular and improbable account of the origin of the war.
An old chief, named Kenjockety, who claimed descent from an adopted prisoner of the Neutral Nation, was recently living among the Senecas of Western New York. ]
During two or three succeeding years, the Iroquois contented themselves with harassing the French and Algonquins; but in 1653 they made treaties of peace, each of the five nations for itself, and the colonists and their red allies had an interval of rest. In the following May, an Onondaga orator, on a peace visit to Montreal, said, in a speech to the Governor, “Our young men will no more fight the French; but they are too warlike to stay at home, and this summer we shall invade the country of the Eries. The earth trembles and quakes in that quarter; but here all remains calm.” [ Le Mercier, Relation, 1654, 9. ] Early in the autumn, Father Le Moyne, who had taken advantage of the peace to go on a mission to the Onondagas, returned with the tidings that the Iroquois were all on fire with this new enterprise, and were about to march against the Eries with eighteen hundred warriors. [ Le Mercier, Relation, 1654, 10. Le Moyne, in his interesting journal of his mission, repeatedly alludes to their preparations. ]
The occasion of this new war is said to have been as follows. The Eries, who it will be remembered dwelt on the south of the lake named after them, had made a treaty of peace with the Senecas, and in the preceding year had sent a deputation of thirty of their principal men to confirm it. While they were in the great Seneca town, it happened that one of that nation was killed in a casual quarrel with an Erie; whereupon his countrymen rose in a fury, and murdered the thirty deputies. Then ensued a brisk war of reprisals, in which not only the Senecas, but the other Iroquois nations, took part. The Eries captured a famous Onondaga chief, and were about to burn him, when he succeeded in convincing them of the wisdom of a course of conciliation; and they resolved to give him to the sister of one of the murdered deputies, to take the place of her lost brother. The sister, by Indian law, had it in her choice to receive him with a fraternal embrace or to burn him; but, though she was absent at the time, no one doubted that she would choose the gentler alternative. Accordingly, he was clothed in gay attire, and all the town fell to feasting in honor of his adoption. In the midst of the festivity, the sister returned. To the amazement of the Erie chiefs, she rejected with indignation their proffer of a new brother, declared that she would be revenged for her loss, and insisted that the prisoner should forthwith be burned. The chiefs remonstrated in vain, representing the danger in which such a procedure would involve the nation: the female fury was inexorable; and the unfortunate prisoner, stripped of his festal robes, was bound to the stake, and put to death. [ De Quen, Relation, 1656, 30. ] He warned his tormentors with his last breath, that they were burning not only him, but the whole Erie nation; since his countrymen would take a fiery vengeance for his fate. His words proved true; for no sooner was his story spread abroad among the Iroquois, than the confederacy resounded with war-songs from end to end, and the warriors took the field under their two great war-chiefs. Notwithstanding Le Moyne’s report, their number, according to the Iroquois account, did not exceed twelve hundred.
[ This was their statement to Chaumonot and Dablon, at Onondaga, in November of this year. They added, that the number of the Eries was between three and four thousand, (Journal des PP. Chaumonot et Dablon, in Relation, 1656, 18.) In the narrative of De Quen (Ibid., 30, 31), based, of course, on Iroquois reports, the Iroquois force is also set down at twelve hundred, but that of the Eries is reduced to between two and three thousand warriors. Even this may safely be taken as an exaggeration.
Though the Eries had no fire-arms, they used poisoned arrows with great effect, discharging them, it is said, with surprising rapidity. ]
They embarked in canoes on the lake. At their approach the Eries fell back, withdrawing into the forests towards the west, till they were gathered into one body, when, fortifying themselves with palisades and felled trees, they awaited the approach of the invaders. By the lowest estimate, the Eries numbered two thousand warriors, besides women and children. But this is the report of the Iroquois, who were naturally disposed to exaggerate the force of their enemies.
They approached the Erie fort, and two of their chiefs, dressed like Frenchmen, advanced and called on those within to surrender. One of them had lately been baptized by Le Moyne; and he shouted to the Eries, that, if they did not yield in time, they were all dead men, for the Master of Life was on the side of the Iroquois. The Eries answered with yells of derision. “Who is this master of your lives?” they cried; “our hatchets and our right arms are the masters of ours.” The Iroquois rushed to the assault, but were met with a shower of poisoned arrows, which killed and wounded many of them, and drove the rest back. They waited awhile, and then attacked again with unabated mettle. This time, they carried their bark canoes over their heads like huge shields, to protect them from the storm of arrows; then planting them upright, and mounting them by the cross-bars like ladders, scaled the barricade with such impetuous fury that the Eries were thrown into a panic. Those escaped who could; but the butchery was frightful, and from that day the Eries as a nation were no more. The victors paid dear for their conquest. Their losses were so heavy that they were forced to remain for two months in the Erie country, to bury their dead and nurse their wounded.
[ De Quen, Relation, 1656, 31. The Iroquois, it seems, afterwards made other expeditions, to finish their work. At least, they told Chaumonot and Dablon, in the autumn of this year, that they meant to do so in the following spring.
It seems, that, before attacking the great fort of the Eries, the Iroquois had made a promise to worship the new God of the French, if He would give them the victory. This promise, and the success which followed, proved of great advantage to the mission.
Various traditions are extant among the modern remnant of the Iroquois concerning the war with the Eries. They agree in little beyond the fact of the existence and destruction of that people. Indeed, Indian traditions are very rarely of any value as historical evidence. One of these stories, told me some years ago by a very intelligent Iroquois of the Cayuga Nation, is a striking illustration of Iroquois ferocity. It represents, that, the night after the great battle, the forest was lighted up with more than a thousand fires, at each of which an Erie was burning alive. It differs from the historical accounts in making the Eries the aggressors. ]
One enemy of their own race remained,–the Andastes. This nation appears to have been inferior in numbers to either the Hurons, the Neutrals, or the Eries; but they cost their assailants more trouble than all these united. The Mohawks seem at first to have borne the brunt of the Andaste war; and, between the years 1650 and 1660, they were so roughly handled by these stubborn adversaries, that they were reduced from the height of audacious insolence to the depths of dejection. [ 1 ] The remaining four nations of the Iroquois league now took up the quarrel, and fared scarcely better than the Mohawks. In the spring of 1662, eight hundred of their warriors set out for the Andaste country, to strike a decisive blow; but when they reached the great town of their enemies, they saw that they had received both aid and counsel from the neighboring Swedish colonists. The town was fortified by a double palisade, flanked by two bastions, on which, it is said, several small pieces of cannon were mounted. Clearly, it was not to be carried by assault, as the invaders had promised themselves. Their only hope was in treachery; and, accordingly, twenty-five of their warriors gained entrance, on pretence of settling the terms of a peace. Here, again, ensued a grievous disappointment; for the Andastes seized them all, built high scaffolds visible from without, and tortured them to death in sight of their countrymen, who thereupon decamped in miserable discomfiture. [ Lalemant, Relation, 1663, 10. ]
[ 1 Relation, 1660, 6 (anonymous).
The Mohawks also suffered great reverses about this time at the hands of their Algonquin neighbors, the Mohicans. ]
The Senecas, by far the most numerous of the five Iroquois nations, now found themselves attacked in turn,–and this, too, at a time when they were full of despondency at the ravages of the small-pox. The French reaped a profit from their misfortunes; for the disheartened savages made them overtures of peace, and begged that they would settle in their country, teach them to fortify their towns, supply them with arms and ammunition, and bring “black-robes” to show them the road to Heaven. [ Lalemant, Relation, 1664, 33. ]
The Andaste war became a war of inroads and skirmishes, under which the weaker party gradually wasted away, though it sometimes won laurels at the expense of its adversary. Thus, in 1672, a party of twenty Senecas and forty Cayugas went against the Andastes. They were at a considerable distance the one from the other, the Cayugas being in advance, when the Senecas were set upon by about sixty young Andastes, of the class known as “Burnt-Knives,” or “Soft-Metals,” because as yet they had taken no scalps. Indeed, they are described as mere boys, fifteen or sixteen years old. They killed one of the Senecas, captured another, and put the rest to flight; after which, flushed with their victory, they attacked the Cayugas with the utmost fury, and routed them completely, killing eight of them, and wounding twice that number, who, as is reported by the Jesuit then in the Cayuga towns, came home half dead with gashes of knives and hatchets. [ Dablon, Relation, 1672, 24. ] “May God preserve the Andastes,” exclaims the Father, “and prosper their arms, that the Iroquois may be humbled, and we and our missions left in peace!” “None but they,” he elsewhere adds, “can curb the pride of the Iroquois.” The only strength of the Andastes, however, was in their courage: for at this time they were reduced to three hundred fighting men; and about the year 1675 they were finally overborne by the Senecas. [ État Présent des Missions, in Relations Inédites, II. 44. Relation, 1676, 2. This is one of the Relations printed by Mr. Lenox. ] Yet they were not wholly destroyed; for a remnant of this valiant people continued to subsist, under the name of Conestogas, for nearly a century, until, in 1763, they were butchered, as already mentioned, by the white ruffians known as the “Paxton Boys.” [ “History of the Conspiracy of Pontiac,” Chap. XXIV. Compare Shea, in Historical Magazine, II. 297. ]
The bloody triumphs of the Iroquois were complete. They had “made a solitude, and called it peace.” All the surrounding nations of their own lineage were conquered and broken up, while neighboring Algonquin tribes were suffered to exist only on condition of paying a yearly tribute of wampum. The confederacy remained a wedge thrust between the growing colonies of France and England.
But what was the state of the conquerors? Their triumphs had cost them dear. As early as the year 1660, a writer, evidently well-informed, reports that their entire force had been reduced to twenty-two hundred warriors, while of these not more than twelve hundred were of the true Iroquois stock. The rest was a medley of adopted prisoners,–Hurons, Neutrals, Eries, and Indians of various Algonquin tribes. [ 1 ] Still their aggressive spirit was unsubdued. These incorrigible warriors pushed their murderous raids to Hudson’s Bay, Lake Superior, the Mississippi, and the Tennessee; they were the tyrants of all the intervening wilderness; and they remained, for more than half a century, a terror and a scourge to the afflicted colonists of New France.
[ 1 Relation, 1660, 6, 7 (anonymous). Le Jeune says, “Their victories have so depopulated their towns, that there are more foreigners in them than natives. At Onondaga there are Indians of seven different nations permanently established; and, among the Senecas, of no less than eleven.” (Relation, 1657, 34.) These were either adopted prisoners, or Indians who had voluntarily joined the Iroquois to save themselves from their hostility. They took no part in councils, but were expected to join war-parties, though they were usually excused from fighting against their former countrymen. The condition of female prisoners was little better than that of slaves, and those to whom they were assigned often killed them on the slightest pique. ]
FAILURE OF THE JESUITS.–WHAT THEIR SUCCESS WOULD HAVE INVOLVED.– FUTURE OF THE MISSION.
With the fall of the Hurons, fell the best hope of the Canadian mission. They, and the stable and populous communities around them, had been the rude material from which the Jesuit would have formed his Christian empire in the wilderness; but, one by one, these kindred peoples were uprooted and swept away, while the neighboring Algonquins, to whom they had been a bulwark, were involved with them in a common ruin. The land of promise was turned to a solitude and a desolation. There was still work in hand, it is true,–vast regions to explore, and countless heathens to snatch from perdition; but these, for the most part, were remote and scattered hordes, from whose conversion it was vain to look for the same solid and decisive results.
In a measure, the occupation of the Jesuits was gone. Some of them went home, “well resolved,” writes the Father Superior, “to return to the combat at the first sound of the trumpet;” [ 1 ] while of those who remained, about twenty in number, several soon fell victims to famine, hardship, and the Iroquois. A few years more, and Canada ceased to be a mission; political and commercial interests gradually became ascendant, and the story of Jesuit propagandism was interwoven with her civil and military annals.
[ 1 Lettre de Lalemant au R. P. Provincial (Relation, 1650, 48). ]
Here, then, closes this wild and bloody act of the great drama of New France; and now let the curtain fall, while we ponder its meaning.
The cause of the failure of the Jesuits is obvious. The guns and tomahawks of the Iroquois were the ruin of their hopes. Could they have curbed or converted those ferocious bands, it is little less than certain that their dream would have become a reality. Savages tamed–not civilized, for that was scarcely possible–would have been distributed in communities through the valleys of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi, ruled by priests in the interest of Catholicity and of France. Their habits of agriculture would have been developed, and their instincts of mutual slaughter repressed. The swift decline of the Indian population would have been arrested; and it would have been made, through the fur-trade, a source of prosperity to New France. Unmolested by Indian enemies, and fed by a rich commerce, she would have put forth a vigorous growth. True to her far-reaching and adventurous genius, she would have occupied the West with traders, settlers, and garrisons, and cut up the virgin wilderness into fiefs, while as yet the colonies of England were but a weak and broken line along the shore of the Atlantic; and when at last the great conflict came, England and Liberty would have been confronted, not by a depleted antagonist, still feeble from the exhaustion of a starved and persecuted infancy, but by an athletic champion of the principles of Richelieu and of Loyola.
Liberty may thank the Iroquois, that, by their insensate fury, the plans of her adversary were brought to nought, and a peril and a woe averted from her future. They ruined the trade which was the life-blood of New France; they stopped the current of her arteries, and made all her early years a misery and a terror. Not that they changed her destinies. The contest on this continent between Liberty and Absolutism was never doubtful; but the triumph of the one would have been dearly bought, and the downfall of the other incomplete. Populations formed in the ideas and habits of a feudal monarchy, and controlled by a hierarchy profoundly hostile to freedom of thought, would have remained a hindrance and a stumbling-block in the way of that majestic experiment of which America is the field.
The Jesuits saw their hopes struck down; and their faith, though not shaken, was sorely tried. The Providence of God seemed in their eyes dark and inexplicable; but, from the stand-point of Liberty, that Providence is clear as the sun at noon. Meanwhile let those who have prevailed yield due honor to the defeated. Their virtues shine amidst the rubbish of error, like diamonds and gold in the gravel of the torrent.
But now new scenes succeed, and other actors enter on the stage, a hardy and valiant band, moulded to endure and dare,–the Discoverers of the Great West.
Appendix: Transcription notes:
This etext was transcribed from a volume of the Twentieth Edition.
The principal works of Francis Parkman: The Oregon Trail, 1849
The Conspiracy of Pontiac, 1851
The seven works comprising “France and England in North America”: Pioneers of France in the New World, 1865 The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, 1867 LaSalle and the Discovery of the Great West, 1869 The Old Regime in Canada, 1874
Count Frontenac and New France Under Louis XIV, 1877 Montcalm and Wolfe, 1884
A Half-Century of Conflict, 1892 (2 volumes)
The 8-bit version of this etext, with accented French characters, is produced using Windows Code Page 1252. Most of the accented characters will also display correctly if you view the text using any of the ISO 8859 character sets. However, the “oe” ligature – – will only display correctly if using Windows 1252.
This book contains five hundred sixty-eight (568) footnotes: – Footnotes are always presented in square brackets. – Where practical, the footnote is presented at the point that the footnote is referenced.
– Otherwise, a numbered reference [ 1 ] is shown at the point that the footnote is referenced, and the corresponding numbered footnotes are presented immediately following the paragraph.
In those cases in which I felt it would be beneficial, underscores are used to denote _words and phrases_ which are presented in _italics_ in the printed book.
Detailed notes include:
– modifications applied while transcribing printed book to e-text. – instances in which a footnote referred to a specific page in the printed book; these references have been modified to identify the appropriate chapter.
– problems transcribing the text.
Page xxxv, in the French footnote the word “come” is printed with a straight line over the “o”. This character is not available in code page 1252.
Page 31, fixed typo (“fumeé”, wrong character accented) in footnote Page 31, footnote is not printed clearly, word appears to be “mais” Page 31, apostrophe is not printed in “qu’à” Page 33, fixed typo (“laiss”, should be “laisse”) in footnote Page 37, footnote refers back to page xliv
Page 62, there is a footnote 1 on this page, but no clear reference mark within the page. I placed the footnote at the end of the second paragraph, where it appears that there might be an intended but mis-printed reference mark.
Page 76, French footnote contains the word “Atsatone8ai”. No similar word occurs elsewhere in the text, so I did not know what to change it to, so I left it as is.
Page 85, “i” is not printed in “i’auoüe” Page 85, footnote is not printed clearly, word appears to be “cherche”
Page 144, footnote refers back to page 109
Page 195, rightmost digit of year in footnote is poorly printed, appears most likely to be 1659
Page 263, poorly printed word in footnote, appears to be “de”
Page 281, fixed typo (“die”, should be “dine”)
Page 330, footnote refers back to page 264
Page 333, fixed typo (“Govornor”)
Page 339, footnote refers back to page 137
Page 364, footnote refers back to page 214 Page 364, footnote 4, add missing close-quotes Page 371, I assumed a comma at end of page Page 372, fixed typo (“aprés”, wrong accent on “e”) in footnote Page 372, I guessed “:” after “dit-il”
Page 392, footnote refers back to page 108
Page 397, footnote, add missing close-quotes
Page 407, fixed typo (“mâitre”, wrong character accented) in footnote
Page 412, fixed typo (“neges”, should be “neiges”) in footnote
Page 431, footnote refers back to page 102