The Jesuit missions to the Western tribes that had begun so auspiciously in the early years of the seventeenth century were completely wrecked in the middle of the century (1649) by the hostile incursions of the Iroquois, and the death or flight of the Indian neophytes. The tribes that had dwelt on the shores of Lake Huron, the islands of Georgian Bay, and the lower peninsula of Michigan fled like leaves before a northern blast and sought refuge on the distant shores of Lake Superior, or hid themselves in the dense forests of northwestern Wisconsin. Driven from their former habitats, lurking in hidden coverts of the woods, the remnant of the Huron tribes and their Algonquian neighbors wandered through the northern wilderness, stopping here and there as chance brought them respite to build temporary villages or raise an occasional crop of corn.
The Jesuit fathers, of whom some had suffered martyrdom with their Huron converts, and others had fled to the settled parts of the colony, sought in vain for more than a decade to re-establish their ruined missions. In 1654 Father Léonard Garreau courageously set forth from Montreal to accompany an Algonquian fleet to the western country; but only a short distance up the Ottawa River he fell into an Iroquois ambuscade and was killed. Father René Ménard, a refugee from the Huron mission, succeeded in 1660 in reaching the shores of Lake Superior, where, after wintering in a wretched hut at the bottom of Keweenaw Bay, he started in the early summer of 1661 to visit some refugee Huron upon the headwaters of Black River. Somewhere upon the Wisconsin
96River he was lost in the dense woods, and his fate was never known.
Jean Claude Allouez, unterrified by the martyrdom of these early apostles to the Northwestern tribes, accompanied the returning fleet of 1665, somewhere in which was the trader and explorer Nicolas Perrot. At the Sault they parted company, and Allouez after skirting the shores of Lake Superior finally arrived at the Ottawa village on Chequamegon Bay, where he founded the mission of the Holy Spirit.
Even as a youth in his home in southern France, Allouez had ardently longed to seek the mission fields in foreign lands; great had been his joy, therefore, when he had been assigned by the superiors of his order to work upon the distant banks of the St. Lawrence. There seven years had been passed in acquiring the Algonquian language and learning Indian lore, before he finally, reached his chosen field of labor on the shores of the northern inland sea. With vivid pen he pictures for us in the passage that follows his outward journey and his first two dismal winters at this remote post on Chequamegon Bay. Then by another long and toilsome journey, he returned in the summer of 1667 to Quebec to tarry but two days in the house of his friends, duty driving him again to the distant north. The next year (1668) the Algonquian tribes largely abandoned Chequamegon Bay, and Father Allouez founded a flourishing mission at the Sault, which for many years served as headquarters for the Jesuits of the Upper Country. Thence he visited Wisconsin, and after 1669 for nearly a decade devoted his services to the numerous tribes about Green Bay. Heedless of fatigue or hunger, cold or heat, he travelled over snow and ice, swollen streams or dangerous rapids, seeking distant Indian villages, counting it all joy if by any means he could win a few savages for a heavenly future.
Allouez was a keen observer and had a ready pen; his
97descriptions are graphic, his incidents vivid. Zealot though he may have been with regard to his mission enterprises, Wisconsin historians owe him an undying debt of gratitude for his faithful portrayal of our earliest history. In 1671 he was with St. Lusson, at his great pageant at Sault Ste. Marie; while the next year we find him again in the Wisconsin mission, where he had the misfortune to have his cabin burned, December 22, 1672, and his diary and papers lost. About this time he built the mission house of St. Francis Xavier at De Pere. When he was reinforced by the arrival of other Jesuits, he left to them the missions around the bay, and chose for himself a more severe field of labor among the distant Mascoutin and Foxes.
It was from the mission house at De Pere that Father Marquette in 1674 set forth on his second journey to the Illinois, a voyage which was to end only with his death. Thereafter Allouez adopted the Illinois mission as his own, and while temporarily abandoning it during La Salle's régime, was later found at Fort St. Louis of the Illinois when Tonty was in command of that post. In 1689 this devoted servant of the cross died at the Miami village on St. Joseph River. A second St. Francis Xavier, Allouez is said during his twenty-four years of service to have instructed a hundred thousand Western savages and baptized at least ten thousand.
The first selection we have made from Allouez's writings is taken from the Jesuit Relation of 1668, first published in that year at Paris by Sébastien Cramoisy. In the Thwaites edition it is found in volume L., pp. 249-311, and volume LI., pp. 21-69. It describes the outward journey to Chequamegon Bay and the experiences of the missionary during the years 1665-1667.
Father Allouez's Journey to Lake Superior, 1665-1667
Two years ago, and more, Father Claude Allouez set out for that great and arduous mission, in behalf of which he has journeyed, in all his travels, nearly two thousand leagues through these vast forests, enduring hunger, nakedness, shipwreck, weariness by day and night, and the persecutions of the idolaters; but he has also had the consolation of bearing the torch of the Faith to more than twenty different infidel nations.
We cannot gain a better knowledge of the fruits of his labors than from the Journal which he was called upon to prepare.
The narrative will be diversified by the description of the places and lakes that he passed, the customs and superstitions of the peoples visited, and by various incidents of an unusual nature and worthy of relation. He begins as follows:
"On the eighth of August, in the year 1665, I embarked at Three Rivers with six Frenchmen, in company with more than four hundred savages of various nations, who, after transacting the little trading for which they had come, were returning to their own country.
"The Devil offered all conceivable opposition to our journey, making use of the false prejudice held by these savages, that baptism causes their children to die. One of their chief men declared to me, in arrogant and menacing terms, his intention, and that of his people, to abandon me on some desert island if I ventured to follow them farther. We had then proceeded as far as the rapids of the River des Prairies, where the breaking of the canoe that bore me made
99me apprehensive of the threatened disaster. We promptly set about repairing our little vessel; and, although the savages did not trouble themselves either to aid us or to wait for us, we were so expeditious as to join them near the Long Sault,
"But our canoe, having been once broken, could not long be of service, and our Frenchmen, already greatly fatigued, despaired of being able to follow the savages, who were thoroughly accustomed to such severe exertions. Therefore, I resolved to call them all together, in order to persuade them to receive us separately into their canoes, showing them that our own was in so bad a condition as to be thenceforth useless to us. They agreed to this; and the Hurons promised, although with much reluctance, to provide for me.
"On the morrow, accordingly, when I came down to the water's edge, they at first received me well, and begged me to wait a very little while, until they were ready to embark. After I had waited, and when I was stepping down into the water to enter their canoe, they repulsed me with the assertion that there was no room for me, and straightway began to paddle vigorously, leaving me all alone with no prospect of human succor. I prayed God to forgive them, but my prayer was unanswered; for they were subsequently wrecked, and the divine Majesty turned my abandonment on the part of men to the saving of my life.
"Finding myself, then, entirely alone, forsaken in a strange land — for the whole fleet was already a good distance away — I had recourse to the blessed Virgin, in whose honor we had performed a novena which gained for us from that Mother of Mercy a very manifest daily protection. While I was praying to her I saw, quite contrary to my hopes, some canoes in which were three of our Frenchmen. I hailed them, and resuming our old canoe, we proceeded to paddle with all our strength, in order to overtake the fleet. But we had long since lost sight of it, and knew not whither to
100go, it being very difficult to find a narrow detour which must be taken in order to gain the portage of Cat Rapids (as that part is called).
"Upon landing, I felt that I must, in that critical state of affairs, use every possible and most effective means for the glory of God. I spoke to them all, and threatened them with the displeasure of Monsieur de Tracy, whose spokesman I was.
"In this abandoned state I withdrew into the woods, and, after thanking God for making me so acutely sensible
101of my slight worth, confessed before his divine Majesty that I was only a useless burden on the earth. My prayer ended, I returned to the water's edge, where I found the disposition of that savage who had repulsed me with such contempt entirely changed; for, unsolicited, he invited me to enter his canoe, which I did with much alacrity, fearing he would change his mind.
"No sooner had I embarked than he put a paddle in my hand, urging me to use it, and assuring me it was an honorable employment, and one worthy of a great captain. I willingly took the paddle and, offering up to God this labor in atonement for my sins, and to hasten those poor savages' conversion, I imagined myself a malefactor sentenced to the galleys; and, although I became entirely exhausted, yet God gave me sufficient strength to paddle all day long, and often a good part of the night. But this application did not prevent my being commonly the object of their contempt and the butt of their jokes; for, however much I exerted myself, I accomplished nothing in comparison with them, their bodies being large and strong, and perfectly adapted to such labors. The slight esteem in which they held me caused them to steal from me every article of my wardrobe that they could; and I had much difficulty in retaining my hat, the wide rim of which seemed to them peculiarly fitted for defense against the excessive heat of the sun. And when evening came, as my pilot took away a bit of blanket that I had, to serve him as a pillow, he forced me to pass the night without any covering but the foliage of some tree.
"When hunger is added to these discomforts, it is a severe hardship, but one that soon teaches a man to find a relish in the bitterest roots and the most putrid meat. God was pleased to make me suffer from hunger, on Fridays especially, for which I heartily thank him.
"We were forced to accustom ourselves to eat a certain moss growing upon the rocks. It is a sort of shell-shaped leaf which is always covered with caterpillars and spiders; and which, on being boiled, furnishes an insipid soup, black and viscous, that rather serves to ward off death than to impart life.
102"One morning, we found a stag that had been dead four or five days. It was a lucky accident for poor starvelings. I was given a piece of it, and although its offensive odor deterred some from eating any, hunger made me take my share; but my mouth had a putrid taste, in consequence, until the next day.
"Amid all these hardships, whenever we came to any rapids I carried as heavy burdens as I could; but I often succumbed under them, and that made our savages laugh and mock me, saying they must call a child to carry me and my burden. Our good God did not forsake me utterly on these occasions, but often wrought on some of the men so that, touched with compassion, they would, without saying anything, relieve me of my chapelle
"It sometimes happened that, after we had carried our loads and plied our paddles all day long, and even two or three hours into the night, we went supperless to bed on the ground, or on some rock, to begin over again the next day with the same labors. But everywhere the Divine Providence mingled some little sweetness and relief with our fatigue.
"We endured these hardships for nearly two weeks; and after passing the Nipissirinien Lake, as we were descending a little river,
"They arrived there on the twenty-fourth of this month, to the number of a hundred canoes; and then they applied
103themselves to the healing of these poor burned men, using on them all their superstitious remedies.
"I was made well aware of this on the following night by the singing of certain jugglers, which filled the air, and by a thousand other ridiculous ceremonies employed by them. Others offered a sort of sacrifice to the Sun, to effect the cure of these patients; for, sitting in a circle, ten or twelve in number, as if to hold a council, on the point of a rocky islet, they lighted a little fire, with the smoke of which they sent up into the air confused cries, which ended with a speech addressed to the Sun by the oldest and most influential man among them.
"I could not endure the invocation of any of their imaginary divinities in my presence; and yet I saw myself quite alone, and at the mercy of all these people. I wavered for some time, in doubt whether it would be more fitting for me to withdraw quietly, or to offer opposition to their superstitious practices. The completion of my journey depended upon them; if I incensed them the Devil would make use of their anger in closing against me the door to their country, and in preventing their conversion. Besides, I had already perceived how little weight my words had with them, and knew that I should turn them still more against me by opposing them. Despite all these reasons, I believed that God demanded this little service from me; and accordingly I went forward, leaving the result to his Divine Providence. I accosted the chief jugglers, and, after a long talk, sustained by each side, God was pleased to touch the sick man's heart so that he promised me to permit no superstitious ceremonies for his cure; and, addressing God in a short prayer, he invoked him as the author of life and of death.
"This victory is not to be regarded as slight, being gained over the Evil One in the heart of his empire, and on ground where, for so many ages, he had been obeyed and worshipped by all those tribes. Hence he resented it soon after, and sent us the juggler, who howled about our cabin like a desperate man, and seemed bent on venting his rage upon our Frenchmen. I prayed our Lord that his vengeance might not fall on any one but me, and my prayer was not in vain: we lost only our canoe, which that wretch broke in pieces.
"I had at the same time the grief to learn of the death of one of those poor burned men, without being able to attend him. Still I hope that God may have shown him mercy, in consequence of the acts of faith and contrition and the few prayers which I made him recite, the first time I saw him, which was also the last.
"Toward the beginning of September, after coasting along the shores of the Lake of the Hurons, we reached the Sault: for such is the name given to a half-league of rapids that are encountered in a beautiful river which unites two great lakes — that of the Hurons, and Lake Superior.
"This river is pleasing, not only on account of the islands intercepting its course and the great bays bordering it, but because of the fishing and hunting, which are excellent there. We sought a resting-place for the night on one of these islands, where our savages thought they would find provision for supper upon their arrival; for, as soon as they landed, they put the kettle on the fire, expecting to see the canoe laden with fish the moment the net was cast into the water. But God chose to punish their presumption, and deferred giving any food to the starving men until the following day.
"On the second of September, then, after clearing this Sault — which is not a waterfall, but merely a very swift current impeded by numerous rocks — we entered Lake Superior, which will henceforth bear Monsieur de Tracy's name, in recognition of indebtedness to him on the part of the people of those regions.
"The form of this lake is nearly that of a bow, the southern shore being much curved, and the northern nearly straight. Fish are abundant there, and of excellent quality; while the water is so clear and pure that objects at the bottom can be seen to the depth of six brasses.
"The savages revere this lake as a divinity, and offer it sacrifices, whether on account of its size — for its length is two hundred leagues, and its greatest width eighty
105of its goodness in furnishing fish for the sustenance of all these tribes, in default of game, which is scarce in the neighborhood.
"One often finds at the bottom of the water pieces of pure copper, of ten and twenty pounds' weight. I have several times seen such pieces in the savages' hands; and, since they are superstitious, they keep them as so many divinities, or as presents which the gods dwelling beneath the water have given them, and on which their welfare is to depend. For this reason they preserve these pieces of copper, wrapped up, among their most precious possessions. Some have kept them for more than fifty years; others have had them in their families from time immemorial, and cherish them as household gods.
"For some time, there had been seen a sort of great rock, all of copper, the point of which projected from the water; this gave passers-by the opportunity to go and cut off pieces from it. When, however, I passed that spot, nothing more was seen of it; and I think that the storms — which here are very frequent, and like those at sea — have covered the rock with sand. Our savages tried to persuade me that it was a divinity, who had disappeared for some reason which they do not state.
"This lake is, furthermore, the resort of twelve or fifteen distinct nations — coming, some from the north, others from the south, and still others from the west; and they all betake themselves either to the best parts of the shore for fishing, or to the islands, which are scattered in great numbers all over the lake. These peoples' motive in repairing hither is partly to obtain food by fishing, and partly to transact their petty trading with one another, when they meet. But God's purpose was to facilitate the proclaiming of the Gospel to wandering and vagrant tribes — as will appear in the course of this journal.
"Having, then, entered Lake Tracy, we spent the whole month of September in coasting along its southern shore — where, finding myself alone with our Frenchmen, I had the consolation of saying holy mass, which I had been unable to do since my departure from Three Rivers.
"After I had consecrated these forests by this holy ceremony,
106God led me to the water-side, and, to crown my joy, made me chance upon two sick children, who were being placed in canoes for a journey into the interior. I felt strongly inspired to baptize them, and, after all necessary precautions, did so in view of the danger to which I saw them exposed, of dying during the winter. All my past fatigues were as nothing to me thenceforth; and I was thoroughly inured to hunger, which ever followed us in close pursuit, our provision consisting only of what our fishermen's skill, which not always met with success, could furnish us from day to day.
"We then crossed the bay named for Saint Theresa
"The Devil, doubtless filled with jealousy at this glory which, in the heart of his estates, is paid to God, did what he could to prevent my coming up hither; and, having failed in his object, he vented his spite on some writings I had brought with me, designed for the instruction of these infidels. I had enclosed them, with some medicines for the sick, in a little chest, which the evil spirit, seeing that it would be of great service to me in the savages' salvation, tried to make me lose. Once it was wrecked in the eddies of some rapids; again it was left behind at the foot of a portage; it changed hands seven or eight times; and, finally, it fell into those of that sorcerer whom I had censured at the entrance to the Lake of the Hurons, and who, after removing the lock, took what he chose, and then left it all open to the rain and exposed to passers-by. God was pleased to confound the evil spirit and to make use of the greatest juggler of these regions — a man with six wives, and of a dissolute life — for its preservation. This man put it into my hands
107when I had given it up as lost, assuring me that the theriac
"After coasting a hundred and eighty leagues along the southern shore of Lake Tracy, where it was our Lord's will often to test our patience by storms, famine, and weariness by day and night, finally, on the first day of October, we arrived at Chagouamigong, whither our ardent desires had been so long directed.
"It is a beautiful bay, at the head of which is situated the great village of the savages, who there cultivate fields of Indian corn and lead a settled life. They number eight hundred men bearing arms, but are gathered together from seven different nations, living in peace, mingled one with another.
"This large population made us prefer this place to all others for our usual abode, that we might apply ourselves most advantageously to the instruction of these infidels, build a chapel, and enter upon the functions of the Christian religion.
"At first, we could find shelter only under a bark roof, where we were so frequently visited by these people, most of whom had never seen any Europeans, that we were overwhelmed; and my efforts to instruct them were constantly interrupted by persons going and coming. Therefore I decided to go in person to visit them, each in his cabin, where I told them about God more at my ease, and instructed them more at leisure in all the mysteries of our faith.
"While I was occupied in these holy pursuits, a young
108savage — one of those who had been burned during our journey — came to seek me, and asked for my prayers, assuring me of his earnest desire to become a Christian. He told me something that had happened to him, of which the reader may think what he chooses. ‘I had no sooner obeyed thee’ said he to me, ‘by sending away that sorcerer who was bent on curing me with his jugglery, than I saw the Creator of all things, of whom thou hast so often told me. He said to me in a voice which I heard distinctly: "Thou shalt not die, for thou didst listen to the black gown." He had no sooner spoken than I felt singularly strengthened, and found myself filled with a great confidence that I should regain my health, as, indeed, here I am, perfectly cured.’ I have strong hopes that He who has wrought for the saving of the body, will not neglect that of the soul; and I feel all the more confidence that He will not, since this savage has come of his own free will to seek me, in order to learn the prayers and receive the necessary instruction.
"Soon afterward, I learned that we had sent to Heaven an infant in swaddling-clothes, its death having occurred two days after I gave it holy baptism. St. Francis, whose name it bore, has doubtless presented that innocent soul to God, as the first-fruits of this mission.
"I know not what will happen to another child, which I baptized immediately after its birth. Its father, an Outaouac by nation, summoned me as soon as it was born, even coming to meet me, to tell me that I must baptize it at once, in order to insure it a long life. This was an admirable course of action for one of these savages, who formerly believed that baptism caused their children to die, and now are persuaded of its necessity for insuring them long lives. That belief gives me easier access to these children, who often come to me in troops to satisfy their curiosity by looking at a stranger, but much more to receive, without thinking about it, the first seeds of the Gospel, which will in time bear fruit in those young plants."
Upon the Father's arrival in the country of the Outaouacs, he found their minds filled with alarm at a fresh war in which they were about to engage with the Nadouessi, a warlike nation, using no other arms in its wars than the bow and the club.
A detachment of young warriors was already forming under the lead of a chief who, having suffered an injury, did not consider whether the vengeance which he was bent on exacting would cause the ruin of all the villages of his country.
To forestall such a disaster, the elders called a general council of ten or twelve circumjacent nations, all interested in this war, in order to stay the hatchets of these rash ones by the presents which they should give them in so important an assembly.
To promote this end, the Father was invited to attend, and did so, that he might at the same time address all these people in the name of Monsieur de Tracy, from whom he bore a speech in three clauses, with three presents to serve as their interpreters.
All this great assembly having given him audience, "My brothers," said he to them, "the motive that brings me to your country is very important, and makes it fitting that you should listen to my words with more than usual attention. Nothing less is concerned than the preservation of your entire land, and the destruction of all your enemies." As the Father found them all, at these words, well disposed to listen to him attentively, he told them about the war that Monsieur de Tracy was undertaking against the Iroquois — how, by means of the King's arms, he was about to compel them to assume a respectful demeanor, and was going to make commerce safe between us and the Algonquin peoples, cleansing all the highways from those river pirates, and forcing them to observe a general peace or see themselves totally destroyed.
110And here the Father took occasion to expatiate upon the piety of his Majesty, who wished God to be acknowledged throughout all his domains, and who received into his allegiance no peoples who did not submit to the Creator of all the universe. He next explained to them the chief articles of our faith, and spoke to them earnestly concerning all the mysteries of our religion. In short, he preached Jesus Christ to all those nations.
It is assuredly a very great consolation to a poor missionary, after a journey of five hundred leagues amid weariness, dangers, famines, and hardships of all sorts, to find himself listened to by so many different peoples, while he proclaims the Gospel and gives out to them the words of salvation, whereof they have never heard mention.
Those are seeds that remain for a time in the ground, and do not at once bear fruit. One must go and gather it in the cabins, in the forests, and on the lakes; and that is what the Father did, being present everywhere — in their cabins, at their embarkations, on their journeys — and everywhere finding children to baptize, sick persons to prepare for the sacraments, Christians of long standing to hear in confession, and infidels to instruct.
One day, it is true, while he was reviewing in his mind the obstacles encountered by the faith, in consequence of the depraved customs of all those peoples, he felt inwardly impelled, during the holy sacrifice of the mass, to ask of God, by the intercession of St. Andrew the Apostle, whose festival the Church was that day celebrating,
Following is what Father Allouez relates concerning the customs of the Outaouacs and other peoples, which he has studied very carefully, not trusting the accounts given him by others, but having been himself an eye-witness and observer of everything described in this manuscript.
"There is here," he says, "a false and abominable religion, resembling in many respects the beliefs of some of the ancient pagans. The savages of these regions recognize no sovereign master of Heaven and Earth, but believe there are many spirits, some of whom are beneficent, as the Sun, the Moon, the lake, rivers, and woods; others malevolent, as the adder, the dragon, cold, and storms. And, in general, whatever seems to them either helpful or hurtful they call a Manitou, and pay it the worship and veneration which we render only to the true God.
"These divinities they invoke whenever they go out hunting, fishing, to war, or on a journey, offering them sacrifices, with ceremonies appropriate only for sacrificial priests.
"One of the leading old men of the village discharges the function of priest, beginning with a carefully-prepared harangue addressed to the Sun, if the eat-all feast,
"I have seen," continues the Father, "an idol set up in the middle of a village; and to it, among other presents, ten dogs were offered in sacrifice, in order to prevail on this false god to send elsewhere the disease that was depopulating the village. Every one went daily to make his offerings to this idol, according to his needs.
"Besides these public sacrifices, they have some that are private and domestic; for often in their cabins they throw tobacco into the fire, with a kind of outward offering which they make to their false gods.
" During storms and tempests, they sacrifice a dog, throwing it into the lake. ‘That is to appease thee,’ they say to the latter; ‘keep quiet.’ At perilous places in the rivers, they propitiate the eddies and rapids by offering them presents; and so persuaded are they that they honor their pretended divinities by this external worship, that those among them who are converted and baptized observe the same ceremonies toward the true God, until they are disabused.
"As, moreover, these people are of gross nature, they recognize no purely spiritual divinity, believing that the Sun is a man, and the Moon his wife; that snow and ice are also a man, who goes away in the spring and comes back in the winter; that the evil spirit is in adders, dragons, and other monsters; that the crow, the kite, and some other birds are genii, and speak just as we do; and that there are even people among them who understand the language of birds, as some understand a little that of the French.
"They believe, moreover, that the souls of the departed govern the fishes in the lake; and thus, from the earliest times, they have held the immortality, and even the metempsychosis, of the souls of dead fishes, believing that they pass into other fishes' bodies. Therefore they never throw their bones into the fire, for fear that they may offend these souls, so that they will cease to come into their nets.
"They hold in very special veneration a certain fabulous animal which they have never seen except in dreams, and which they call Missibizi, acknowledging it to be a great genius, and offering it sacrifices in order to obtain good sturgeon-fishing.
"They say also that the little nuggets of copper which they find at the bottom of the water in the lake, or in the rivers emptying into it, are the riches of the gods who dwell in the depths of the earth.
"I have learned," says the Father who has brought to light all these follies, "that the Iliniouek, the Outagami, and other savages toward the south, hold that there is a great and excellent genius, master of all the rest, who made Heaven and Earth; and who dwells, they say, in the East, toward the country of the French.
"The fountain-head of their religion is libertinism; and all these various sacrifices end ordinarily in debauches, indecent dances, and shameful acts of concubinage. All the devotion of the men is directed toward securing many wives, and changing them whenever they choose; that of the women, toward leaving their husbands; and that of the girls, toward a life of profligacy.
"They endure a great deal on account of these ridiculous deities; for they fast in their honor, for the purpose of learning the issue of some affair. I have," says the Father, "seen with compassion men who had some scheme of war or hunting pass a whole week, taking scarcely anything. They show such fixity of purpose that they will not desist until they have seen in a dream what they desire — either a herd of moose, or a band of Iroquois put to flight, or something similar — no very difficult thing for an empty brain, utterly exhausted with hunger, and thinking all day of nothing else.
"Let us say something about the art of medicine in vogue in this country. Their science consists in ascertaining the cause of the ailment, and applying the remedies.
"They deem the most common cause of illness to come from failure to give a feast after some successful fishing or hunting excursion; for then the Sun, who takes pleasure in feasts, is angry with the one who has been delinquent in his duty, and makes him ill.
"Besides this general cause of sickness, there are special ones, in the shape of certain little spirits, malevolent in their nature, who thrust themselves of their own accord, or are sent by some enemy, into the parts of the body that are most diseased. Thus, when any one has an aching head, or arm,
114or stomach, they say that a manitou has entered this part of the body, and will not cease its torments until it has been drawn or driven out.
"The most common remedy, accordingly, is to summon the juggler, who comes attended by some old men, with whom he holds a sort of consultation on the patient's ailment. After this, he falls upon the diseased part, applies his mouth to it, and, by sucking, pretends to extract something from it, as a little stone, or a bit of string, or something else, which he has concealed in his mouth beforehand, and which he displays, saying: ‘There is the manitou; now thou art cured, and it only remains to give a feast.’
"The Devil, bent on tormenting those poor blind creatures even in this world, has suggested to them another remedy, in which they place great confidence. It consists in grasping the patient under the arms, and making him walk barefoot over the live embers in the cabin; or, if he is so ill that he cannot walk, he is carried by four or five persons, and made to pass slowly over all the fires, a treatment which often enough results in this, that the greater suffering thereby produced cures, or induces unconsciousness of, the lesser pain which they strive to cure.
"After all, the commonest remedy, as it is the most profitable for the physician, is the holding of a feast to the Sun, which is done in the belief that this luminary, which takes pleasure in liberal actions, being appeased by a magnificent repast, will regard the patient with favor, and restore him to health."
All this shows that those poor people are very far from God's kingdom; but He who is able to touch hearts as hard as stone, in order to make of them children of Abraham and vessels of election, will also be abundantly able to make Christianity spring up in the bosom of idolatry, and to illumine with the lights of the Faith those barbarians, plunged although they are in the darkness of error, and in an ocean of debauchery. This will be recognized in the account of the missions undertaken by the Father in that extremity of the world, during the first two years of his sojourn there.
After a hard and fatiguing journey of five hundred leagues, during which all kinds of hardships were encountered, the Father, after pushing on to the head of the great lake, there found opportunity, in founding the missions of which we are about to speak, to exercise the zeal which had made him eagerly undergo so many fatigues. Let us begin with the mission of Saint Esprit,
"This part of the lake where we have halted is between two large villages, and forms a sort of centre for all the nations of these regions, because of its abundance of fish, which constitutes the chief part of these peoples' sustenance.
"Here we have erected a little chapel of bark,
"God has graciously permitted me to be heard by more than ten different nations; but I confess that it is necessary, even before daybreak, to entreat him to grant patience for the cheerful endurance of contempt, mockery, importunity, and insolence from these barbarians.
"Another occupation that I have in my little chapel is the baptism of the sick children, whom the infidels themselves bring hither, in order to obtain from me some medicine; and as I see that God restores these little innocents to health
116after their baptism, I am led to hope that it is His will to make them the foundation, as it were, of His Church in these regions.
"I have hung up in the chapel various pictures, as of Hell and of the universal Judgment, which furnish me themes for instruction well adapted to my hearers; nor do I find it difficult then to engage their attention, to make them chant the Pater and Ave in their own tongue, and to induce them to join in the prayers which I dictate to them after each lesson. All this attracts so many savages that, from morning till evening, I find myself happily constrained to give them my whole attention.
"God blesses these beginnings; for the young people's debauches are no longer so frequent; and the girls, who formerly did not blush at the most shameless acts, hold themselves in restraint, and maintain the modesty so becoming to their sex.
"I know many who boldly meet the overtures made to them, with the reply that they have learned to pray, and that the black gown forbids them such acts of licentiousness.
"A little girl, ten or twelve years old, coming one day to request my prayers, I said to her: ‘My little sister, you do not deserve them; you well know what was said about you some months ago.’ ‘It is true,’ she replied, ‘that I was not a good girl then, and that I did not know such actions were naughty; but since I have begun to pray, and you have told us that such things were wicked, I have stopped doing them.’
"The first days of the year 1666 were spent in presenting a very acceptable new-year's gift to the little Jesus, consisting of a number of children brought to me by their mothers, through a divine inspiration altogether extraordinary, to be baptized. Thus, little by little, this church was growing; and as I saw it already imbued with our mysteries, I deemed the time had come to transfer our little chapel to the midst of the great village, which lay three-quarters of a league from our abode, and which embraces forty-five or fifty large cabins of all nations, containing fully two thousand souls.
"It was just at the time of their great revels; and I can say, in general, that I saw in that Babylon a perfect picture of libertinism. I did not fail to carry on there the same pursuits as in our first abode, and with the same success; but the Evil Spirit, envying the good there wrought by the grace of God, caused some diabolical jugglery to be carried on daily, very near our chapel, for the cure of a sick woman. It was nothing but superstitious dances, hideous masquerades, horrible yells, and apish tricks of a thousand kinds. Yet I did not fail to visit her daily; and, in order to win her with kindness, I made her a present of some raisins. At length, the sorcerers having declared that her soul had departed, and that they gave up hope, I went to see her on the morrow, and assured her that this was false; and that I even hoped for her recovery, if she would believe in Jesus Christ. But I could produce no effect on her mind, and that made me determine to appeal to the very sorcerer who was attending her. He was so surprised to see me at his house that he seemed quite overcome. I showed him the folly of his art, and that he was hastening the death of his patients rather than their recovery. In reply, he threatened to make me feel its effects by a death that should be beyond dispute; and beginning his operations soon after, he continued them for three hours, calling out from time to time, in the midst of his ceremonies, that the black gown would die through them. But it was all in vain, thanks to God, who was able even to make good come out of evil; for, this very man having sent me two of his children, who were ill, to be baptized, they received, through these sacred waters, the cure of soul and body at the same time.
"On the following day, I visited another famous sorcerer, a man with six wives and living the disorderly life that can be imagined from such a company. Finding in his cabin a little army of children, I wished to fulfill my ministry, but in vain; and that was the first time in those regions that I saw Christianity scoffed at, especially in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead and the fires of Hell. I came out with this thought: Ibant Apostoli gaudentes Å conspectu concilii, quoniam digni habiti sunt pro nomine Jesu contumeliam pati.
"The insults offered me in this cabin soon became known outside, and caused the others to treat me with the same insolence. Already a part of the bark — that is, of the walls — of our church had been broken; already a beginning had been made in stealing from me all my possessions; the young people were becoming more and more numerous and insolent; and the word of God was listened to only with scorn and mockery. I was therefore compelled to abandon this post, and withdraw again to our customary abode, having this consolation upon leaving them, that Jesus Christ had been preached and the Faith proclaimed, not only publicly, but to each savage in private; for, besides those who filled our chapel from morn till eve, the others, who remained in their cabins, were taught by those who had heard me.
"I have myself overheard them in the evening, after all had retired, repeating audibly and in the tone of a captain all the instruction which I had given them during the day. They freely acknowledged that what I teach them is very reasonable; but license prevails over reason, and, unless grace is very strong, all our teachings are of slight effect.
"Upon the occasion of a visit from one of them for the purpose of being instructed, at the first words I spoke to him, about his having two wives, ‘My brother,’ he rejoined, ‘thou speakest to me on a very delicate subject; it is enough for my children to pray; teach them.’
"After I had left that village of abomination, God led me two leagues from our dwelling, where I found three adult sick persons; these I baptized, after adequate instruction, and two of them died after their baptism. God's mysterious ways excite our admiration, and I could cite many very similar illustrations of them which show the loving care of Providence for its elect."
"The Tionnontateheronnons of the present day are the same people who were formerly called the Hurons of the tobacco nation.
"They formerly constituted a part of the flourishing church of the Hurons, and had as pastor the late Father Gamier, who gave his life so courageously for his dear flock; therefore they cherish his memory with very marked veneration.
"Since their country's downfall, they have received no Christian nurture; whence it results that they are Christians rather by calling than by profession. They boast of that fair name, but the intercourse which they have so long had with infidels has nearly effaced from their minds all vestiges of religion, and has made them resume many of their former customs. Their village is at no great distance from our abode, which has enabled me to apply myself to this mission with greater assiduity than to the other more distant ones.
"I have, accordingly, tried to restore this church to its pristine state by preaching the word of God, and administering the sacraments. I conferred baptism upon a hundred children during the first winter I spent with them; and upon
120others subsequently, during my two years of intercourse with them. The adults partook of the sacrament of penance, attended the holy sacrifice of the mass, prayed in public and in private; in short, as they had been very well taught, it was a matter of no great difficulty for me to restore piety to their hearts, and make them put forth once more the pious sentiments they formerly had for the Faith.
"Of all these baptized children, God chose to take but two, who winged their way to Heaven after their baptism. As for the adults, there were three of them for whose salvation God seems to have sent me hither.
"The first was an old man, Ousaki
"Even although my journey from Quebec should bear no further fruits than the saving of this poor old man, I would deem all the steps that I had taken only too well rewarded, inasmuch as the Son of God did not begrudge him even His last drop of blood.
"The second person I have to mention was a woman, far advanced in years, who was confined, two leagues from our abode, by a dangerous illness, occasioned by the unexpected ignition of a bag of powder in her cabin. Father Gamier had promised her baptism more than fifteen years before, and was on the point of conferring it, when he was killed by the Iroquois. That good Father was unwilling to break his promise, and like a good pastor he brought it about, by his intercession, that I should arrive here before she died. I visited her on All Saints' Day,
121prepared her; and on the very night of her receiving this grace she rendered up her soul to her Creator.
"The third person was a girl, fourteen years of age, who applied herself very assiduously to all the catechisms and prayers which I caused to be recited, and of which she had learned a great portion by heart. She fell ill; her mother, who was not a Christian, called in the sorcerers, and made them go through all the fooleries of their infamous calling. I heard about it and went to see the girl, broaching to her the subject of baptism. She was overjoyed to receive it; and after that, mere child although she was, she made opposition to all the jugglers' practices, which they were bent on executing in her presence. She declared that by her baptism she had renounced all superstitions; and in this courageous contest she died, praying to God until her very last breath."
"I group these three nations together because they have the same tongue, the Algonquin, and form collectively one village, which corresponds to that of the Tionnontateheronnons, among whom we are dwelling.
"The Outaouacs claim that the great river
"The old home of the Outaouacs was a district on the Lake of the Hurons, whence the fear of the Iroquois had driven them, and whither all their longings are directed as to their native land.
"These peoples have very little inclination to receive
122the faith, since they are extremely addicted to idolatry, superstitions, legends, polygamy, unstable marriages, and every sort of licentiousness, which makes them renounce all natural shame. All these obstacles did not deter me from preaching to them the name of Jesus Christ, and proclaiming the Gospel in all their cabins and in our chapel. The latter was filled from morning till night, and there I gave constant instruction in our mysteries and in God's commandments.
"In the first winter that I spent with them I had the consolation to baptize about eighty children, including some boys and girls between eight and ten years old, who, by their assiduity in coming to offer prayer to God, showed themselves worthy of this blessing. A circumstance greatly facilitating the baptism of these children is the belief, now very common, that those sacred waters not only do not cause death, as was formerly held, but even give health to the sick and restore the dying to life. Indeed, as a matter of fact, of all those children that were baptized, God was pleased to take to himself only six, leaving the rest to serve as a foundation for this new church.
"As for the adults, I did not see fit to baptize many, because their superstitions, being so firmly rooted in their minds, offer a serious hindrance to their conversion. Of four whom I considered well prepared for this sacrament, the Divine Providence made itself clearly manifest in the case of one poor sick man, who lived two leagues from our dwelling. I knew not that he was in such a state, and yet felt inwardly prompted, despite my scanty strength and ill health, to go and see him. Accordingly, I made my way to a hamlet distant a good league from us, but found no sick people there. I learned, however, that there was another hamlet farther on; and, notwithstanding my weakness, felt that God demanded of me that I should repair thither. I did so with much difficulty, and found that dying savage only waiting for baptism, which I gave him after the necessary instruction. He was fortunate in having shared in the instructions that I gave during the winter, when he visited our chapel with the rest; and in having, by his attention, shown himself deserving of God's mercy.
"In the summer of that same year I was occupied chiefly
123in attending the sick of this mission; three whom I found in danger I baptized, and two of them died in the profession of Christianity. Again God led me into the cabins, just in time to confer baptism on eleven sick children, who had not yet the use of their reason; of these, five have gone to enjoy God. Of seventeen more children whom I baptized there, during the autumn and winter following, but one died, who ascended to Heaven almost at the same time when a good old blind man breathed his last, three days after his baptism."
"The Pouteouatami are a people speaking the Algonquin tongue, but in a dialect much harder to understand than that of the Outaouacs. Their country lies along the Lake of the Ilimouek, a large lake which had not before come to our knowledge, adjoining the Lake of the Hurons, and that of the Stinkards, in a southeasterly direction.
124him to perform that service, even insisting on fastening the thongs, and showing the same marks of respect that servants do to their masters upon rendering them this service. Kneeling at my feet, he said to me, ‘It is in this way that we treat those whom we honor.’
"On another occasion when I went to see him, he arose from his seat to yield it to me, with the same formalities that politeness demands of gentlefolk.
"I proclaimed the Faith to them publicly in the general council held a few days after my arrival in this country, and privately in their cabins during their month's sojourn here, and afterward throughout the following autumn and winter, during which I baptized thirty-four of their children, nearly all of this number being in the cradle. I may say, too, for the consolation of this mission, that the first one of all these people to take possession of Heaven in the name of all his countrymen, was a Pouteouatami child whom I baptized soon after my arrival, and who died immediately afterward.
"During the same winter I received into the church five adults, of whom the first was an aged man, about a hundred years old, who was regarded by the savages as a sort of divinity. He was wont to fast twenty days at a time, and had visions of God, that is, according to these people, of the Maker of the Earth. Nevertheless, he fell ill; and he was attended in his sickness by two of his daughters, who showed an assiduity and love above the capacity of savages. Among other services rendered him by them was that of repeating to him, in the evening, the instructions which they had heard during the day in our chapel. God was pleased to make use of their piety for their father's conversion; for, when I visited him, I found him versed in our mysteries, and, the Holy Ghost operating in his heart through the ministry of his daughters, he passionately asked to be made a Christian. I granted his request by baptizing him — a ceremony which I did not think it advisable to defer, seeing that he was in danger of death. Thenceforth, he would not allow in his presence any juggler's ceremonies for his cure; he would have no conversation, except on the saving of his soul; and once, when I was urging upon him frequent prayer to God, ‘Know, my brother,’ said he, ‘that I am continually throwing
125tobacco into the fire, and saying, "Thou maker of Heaven and Earth, I would honor thee."’ I contented myself with making him understand that it was not necessary to honor God in that way, but merely to speak to him with the heart and the mouth. Then, the time having come when the savages ask the fulfillment of their desires in a ceremony much resembling the Bacchanalia or carnival, our good old man caused search to be made in all the cabins for a piece of blue cloth, declaring his wish therefor because it was the color of Heaven, ‘to which,’ said he, ‘I would keep my heart and thoughts ever directed.’ Never have I seen a savage more given to prayer than he; among other prayers, he was wont to repeat the following with unusual fervor: ‘My Father who art in Heaven, my Father, hallowed be your name,’ — finding more sweetness in those words than in the ones I taught him, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven.’ One day, taking thought of his extreme old age, he exclaimed of his own accord, in the sentiments of St. Augustine: ‘Too late have I come to know you, O God, too late have I come to love you.’ I doubt not that his death, which was not long delayed, was precious in God's sight, who for so many years left him in idolatry, and reserved for him so few days for closing his life in so Christian a manner.
"I must not omit here a rather strange circumstance: on the day after his death his relatives, contrary to all usage of this country, burned his body and reduced it entirely to ashes.
"It is held beyond dispute that this old man's father was a hare, an animal which runs over the snow in winter, and that thus the snow, the hare, and the old man are of the same village, that is, are relatives. It is further said that the hare told his wife that he disapproved of their children's remaining in the depths of the earth, as that did not befit their condition, they being relatives of the snow, whose country is above, toward the sky; and, if it ever occurred that they were put into the ground after their death, he would pray the snow, his relative, in order to punish the people for this
126offense, to fall in such quantities and so long that there should be no spring. And, to confirm this story, it is added that three years ago the brother of our good old man died, in the beginning of the winter; and, after he had been buried in the usual manner, snow fell to such an extent, and the winter was so long, that people despaired of seeing the spring in its season. Meanwhile, all were dying of hunger, and no remedy could be found for this general suffering. The elders assembled, and held many councils, but all in vain; the snow still continued. Then some one of the company said he remembered the threats which we have related. Straightway they went and disinterred the dead man, and burned him; when immediately the snow ceased, and spring followed. Who would think that people could give credence to such absurd stories? And yet they regard them as true beyond dispute.
"Our good old man was not the only one of his house to whom God showed mercy. His two daughters, who were the cause of his salvation, were undoubtedly drawn to Heaven by his prayers; for, one of them being seized with an ailment which lasted but five days, God guided my steps so fortunately for her eternal happiness that, although I could not reach her until the evening before her death, I had leisure to prepare her for holy baptism, which she received in time to go and bear her good father company in the glory which she had obtained for him. The third daughter, surviving both the others, seems to have inherited their piety. I found this woman so discreet, so modest, and so well disposed toward the Faith, that I did not hesitate to admit her into the Church through partaking of the sacraments. The entire family of that good neophyte — and it is a large one — feel the effects of this goodness, which seems natural to them. They all have a tender regard for me, and, from a feeling of respect which they bear me, call me by no other name than ‘uncle.’ I hope that God will show mercy to all of them, for I see them more inclined to prayer than is usual among savages.
"We can also relate, among the marvels that God has wrought in this church, what happened in regard to another family of this nation. A young man, in whose canoe I had
127a place on my journey to this country, was seized, toward the close of the winter, with the contagious disease that was prevalent. I tried to show him as much kindness as he had shown me ill usage on the journey. As he was a man of considerable importance, no kind of jugglery was spared for his cure; and it was carried so far that at length they came to tell me that they had extracted from his body two dog's teeth. ‘That is not what causes his illness,’ said I to them, ‘but rather the tainted blood which he has in his body,’ for I judged that he had the pleurisy. Meanwhile, I began to instruct him in good earnest; and on the next day, finding him well prepared, I gave him holy baptism with the name of Ignace, hoping that great saint would confound the evil spirit and the jugglers. Indeed, I bled him; and, showing the blood to the juggler, who was present, ‘There,’ said I to him, ‘is what is killing this sick man. Thou shouldst, with all thy affected arts, have drawn from him every drop of this corrupt blood, and not some alleged dog's teeth.’ But he, perceiving the relief which this bleeding had afforded the sick man, determined to have the glory of his cure; and, to that end, made him take a kind of medicine, which produced such an ill effect that the patient remained for three whole hours as one dead. This result was proclaimed throughout the village, and the juggler, much surprised by the turn of affairs, confessed that he had killed the poor man, and begged me not to forsake him. He was not, in truth, forsaken by his patron, Saint Ignatius, who restored him to life, in order to confound the superstitions of these infidels.
"This young man was not yet cured when his sister fell ill of the same disease. We enjoyed greater freedom in the discharge of our functions, in view of what had occurred in her brother's case, and I had every opportunity to prepare her for baptism; and besides that grace, the blessed Virgin, whose name she bore, procured her recovery.
"But hardly was she out of danger when the same disease seized her cousin, in the same cabin. He appeared to me more dangerously ill than the two others had been, which made me hasten to baptize him, after the necessary instruction. He was already feeling better, in consequence of this sacrament, when his father took it into his head to make a
128feast, or, rather, a sacrifice to the Sun, to ask the latter for his son's recovery. I came upon them in the midst of the ceremony, and hastened to embrace my sick neophyte, and convince him that God alone was the master of life and death. He immediately acknowledged his error, and made atonement to God by the sacrament of penance; but I, addressing his father and all the sacrificers, said to them: ‘I despair now of this patient's recovery, since you have had recourse to others than Him who has in His hands both life and death. You have killed this poor man by your impiety, and I give up all hope for him.’ He died, in fact, some time afterward; and I trust that God may have accepted his temporal death as penance for his offense, so that He will not deprive him of the everlasting life which this man will have obtained by the intercessions of Saint Joseph, whose name he bore.
"The gain is more assured in regard to children, of whom I baptized seventeen toward the close of this mission, which I was forced to bring to an end by the departure of these people, as they returned to their own country after harvesting their Indian corn. On taking leave, they gave me a very pressing invitation to visit them in the following spring. May God be forever glorified in the minds of those poor barbarians, who have at last acknowledged Him, after recognizing, from the earliest times, no divinity greater than the Sun."
"I next add these two nations because they are mingled with and allied to the preceding, and have, besides, the same language, the Algonquin, although differing greatly in various idioms, a fact which makes it very difficult to understand them. Nevertheless, after some labor on my part, they understand me now, and I understand them, sufficiently for their instruction.
"The country of the Outagami lies southward toward the Lake of the Ilimouek. They are a populous tribe, of about a thousand men bearing arms, and given to hunting and warfare.
129They have fields of Indian corn, and live in a country offering excellent facilities for the hunting of the wildcat, stag, wild ox, and beaver. Canoes they do not use, but commonly make their journeys by land, bearing their packages and their game on their shoulders. These people are as much addicted to idolatry as the other nations. One day, on entering the cabin of an Outagamy, I found his parents dangerously ill; and when I told him that bleeding would cure them, the poor man took some powdered tobacco and sprinkled it completely over my gown, saying to me: ‘Thou art a spirit; come now, restore these sick people to health; I offer thee this tobacco in sacrifice.’ ‘What art thou doing, my brother?’ said I; ‘I am nothing, but He who made all things is the master of our lives, while I am but His servant.’ ‘Well, then,’ he rejoined, scattering some tobacco on the ground, and raising his eyes on high, ‘to Thee, then, who madest Heaven and earth I offer this tobacco. Give these sick persons health.’
"These people are not very far removed from the recognition of the Creator of the world; for it is they who told me what I have already related, namely, that they acknowledge in their country a Great Spirit, the maker of Heaven and earth, who dwells toward the country of the French. It is said of them and of the Ousaki that, when they find a man alone and at a disadvantage, they kill him, especially if he is a Frenchman; for they cannot endure the beards of the latter people. Cruelty of that kind makes them less docile, and less inclined to receive the Gospel, than are the Pouteouatami. Still I failed not to proclaim it to nearly six-score persons, who passed a summer here. I found none among them sufficiently well prepared for baptism, though I conferred it on five of their sick children, who then recovered their health.
"As for the Ousaki, they above all others can be called savages. They are very numerous, but wandering and scattered in the forests, without any fixed abode. I have seen nearly two hundred of them, to all of whom I have published the Faith, and have baptized eighteen of their children, to whom the sacred waters were salutary for both soul and body."
"The Ilimouec speak Algonquin, but a very different dialect from those of all the other tribes.
"They acknowledge many spirits to whom they offer sacrifice. They practise a kind of dance, quite peculiar to themselves, which they call ‘the dance of the tobacco-pipe.’ It is executed thus: they prepare a great pipe, which they deck with plumes, and put in the middle of the room, with a sort of veneration. One of the company rises, begins to dance, and then yields his place to another, and this one to a third; and thus they dance in succession, one after another, and not together. One would take this dance for a pantomime ballet; and it is executed to the beating of a drum. The performer makes war in rhythmic time, preparing his arms, attiring himself, running, discovering the foe, raising the cry, slaying the enemy, removing his scalp, and returning home with a song of victory, and all with an astonishing exactness, promptitude and agility. After they have all danced, one after the other, around the pipe, it is taken and offered to the chief man in the whole assembly, for him to smoke; then to another, and so in succession to all. This ceremony resembles in its significance the French custom of drinking, several out of the same glass; but, in addition, the pipe is left in the keeping of the most honored man, as a sacred trust,
131and a sure pledge of the peace and union that will ever subsist among them as long as it shall remain in that person's hands.
"Of all the spirits to whom they offer sacrifice, they honor with a very special worship one who is preeminent above the others, as they maintain, because he is the maker of all things. Such a passionate desire have they to see him that they keep long fasts to that end, hoping that by this means God will be induced to appear to them in their sleep; and if they chance to see Him, they deem themselves happy, and assured of a long life.
"All the nations of the south have this same wish to see God, which, without doubt, greatly facilitates their conversion; for it only remains to teach them how they must serve Him in order to see Him and be blessed.
"I have proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ here to eighty people of this nation, and they have carried it and published it with approbation to the whole country of the south; consequently I can say that this mission is the one where I have labored the least and accomplished the most. They honor our Lord among themselves in their own way, putting His image, which I have given them, in the most honored place on the occasion of any important feast, while the master of the banquet addresses it as follows: ‘In Thy honor, O Man-God, do we hold this feast; to Thee do we offer these viands.’
"I confess that the fairest field for the Gospel appears to me to be yonder. Had I had leisure and opportunity, I would have pushed on to their country, to see with my own eyes all the good things there of which they tell me.
"I find all those with whom I have mingled affable and humane; and it is said that whenever they meet a stranger, they give a cry of joy, caress him, and show him every possible evidence of affection. I have baptized but one child of this nation. The seeds of the Faith which I have sown in their souls will bear fruit when it pleases the master of the vine to gather it. Their country is warm, and they raise two crops of Indian corn a year. There are rattlesnakes there, which cause many deaths among them, as they do not know the antidote. They hold medicines in high esteem, offering
132sacrifice to them as to great spirits. They have no forests in their country, but vast prairies instead, where oxen, cows, deer, bears, and other animals feed in great numbers."
"These are people dwelling to the west of this place, toward the great river named Messipi.
133announce His word there, and glorify His holy name, when it shall please his divine Majesty to show mercy to those people. They are well-nigh at the end of the earth, so they say. Farther toward the setting Sun there are nations named Karezi, beyond whom, they maintain, the earth is cut off, and nothing is to be seen but a great lake whose waters are ill-smelling, for so they designate the sea.
"Toward the northwest there is a nation which eats meat uncooked, being content to hold it in the hand and expose it to the fire, while beyond these people lies the North Sea. On this side are the Kilistinons, whose rivers empty into Hutston's Bay.
"The Kilistinouc have their usual abode on the shores of the North Sea, and their canoes ply along a river emptying into a great bay, which we think is, in all probability, the one designated on the map by the name of Hutson. For those whom I have seen from that country have told me that they had known of a ship; and one of their old men declared to me that he had himself seen, at the mouth of the River of the Assinipoualac,
"He told me further that he had also seen a house which the Europeans had built on the mainland, out of boards and pieces of wood; and that they held books in their hands, like the one he saw me holding when he told me this. He made mention of another nation, adjoining the Assinipoualac, who eat human beings, and live wholly on raw flesh; but these people, in turn, are eaten by bears of frightful size,
134all red, and with prodigiously long claws.
"Concerning the Kilistinouc, they appear to me extremely docile, and show a kindness uncommon among these barbarians. They are much more nomadic than any of the other nations, having no fixed abode, no fields, no villages; and living wholly on game and a small quantity of oats which they gather in marshy places. They pay idolatrous worship to the Sun, to which they are wont to offer sacrifice by fastening a dog to the top of a pole and leaving it thus suspended until it rots.
"They speak nearly the same tongue as do the people formerly called Poissons-blancs,
"I hope this mission will some day bear fruit commensurate with the labors which will be bestowed upon it when our Fathers go and winter with the people, as they do with the savages from Tadoussac,
"They are called sauteurs by the French, because their abode is the sault by which Lake Tracy empties into the Lake of the Hurons. They speak the common Algonquin, and are easily understood. I have proclaimed the Faith to them on various occasions, but especially when I sojourned with them at the head of our great lake for a whole month. During that time, I instructed them in all our mysteries; I also baptized twenty of their children, and an adult who was sick; this man died on the day after his baptism, bearing to Heaven the first-fruits of his nation."
"The Nipissiriniens formerly received instruction from our Fathers who sojourned in the country of the Hurons.
"For nearly twenty years they have neither seen a pastor nor heard the name of God. I thought that I ought to bestow a part of my labors on that old-time church, and that a journey undertaken to their new country would be attended with Heaven's blessings.
"On the sixth day of May of this year, 1667, I embarked in a canoe with two savages to serve me as guides, throughout this journey. Meeting on the way two-score savages from the North Bay, I conveyed to them the first tidings of the Faith, for which they thanked me with some politeness.
"Continuing our journey, on the seventeenth we crossed
136a portion of our great lake, paddling for twelve hours without dropping the paddle from the hand. God rendered me very sensible aid; for, as there were but three of us in our canoe, I was obliged to paddle with all my strength, together with the savages, in order to make the most of the calm, without which we should have been in great danger, utterly spent, as we were, with toil and lack of food. Nevertheless, we lay down supperless at nightfall, and on the morrow contented ourselves with a frugal meal of Indian corn and water; for the wind and rain prevented our savages from casting their net.
"On the nineteenth, invited by the beautiful weather, we covered eighteen leagues, paddling from daybreak until after sunset, without respite and without landing.
"On the twentieth, finding nothing in our nets, we continued our journey, munching some grains of dry corn. On the following day, God refreshed us with two small fishes, which gave us new life. Heaven's blessings increased on the next day, our savages catching so many sturgeon that they were obliged to leave part of them at the water's edge.
"Coasting along the northern shore of this great lake on the twenty-third, we passed from island to island, these being very frequent. There is one, at least twenty leagues long, where are found pieces of copper, which is held by the Frenchmen who have examined it here to be true red copper.
"After accomplishing a good part of our journey on the lake, we left it on the twenty-fifth of this month of May, and consigned ourselves to a river, so full of rapids and falls that even our savages could go no farther; and learning that Lake Alimibegong was still frozen over, they gladly took the two days' rest imposed upon them by necessity.
"As we drew near our journey's end, we occasionally met Nipissirinien savages, wandering from their homes to seek a livelihood in the woods. Gathering together a considerable number of them, for the celebration of Whitsuntide,
137savages of Quebec in our chapel at Sillery;
"Here I must relate a remarkable circumstance which occurred not long ago. Two women, mother and daughter, who had always had recourse to God from the time of their instruction, and had received from Him unfailing and extraordinary succor, very recently learned by experience that God never forsakes those who put their trust in Him. They had been captured by the Iroquois, and had happily escaped from the fires and cruelties of those barbarians; but had soon afterward fallen a second time into their clutches, and were, consequently, left with no hope of escape. Yet one day, when they found themselves alone with a single Iroquois, who had remained behind to guard them while the rest went out to hunt, the girl told her mother that the time had come to rid themselves of this guard, and flee. To this end she asked the Iroquois for a knife to use on a beaver-skin that she was ordered to dress; and at the same time, imploring Heaven's aid, she plunged it into his bosom. The mother, on her part, arose and struck him on the head with a billet of wood, and they left him for dead. Taking some food, they started forth with all haste, and at length reached their own country in safety.
"We spent six days in paddling from island to island, seeking some outlet; and finally, after many detours, we reached the village of the Nipissiriniens on the third day of June. It is composed of savages, mostly idolaters, with some Christians of long standing. Among them I found twenty who made public profession of Christianity. I did not lack occupation with both classes during our two weeks' sojourn in their country, and I worked as diligently as my health, broken by the fatigues of the journey, allowed. I found more resistance here than anywhere else to infant baptism; but the more the Devil opposes us, the more must I we strive to confound him. He is hardly pleased, I think, to see me make this latest journey, which is nearly five hundred leagues in length, going and coming, including the detours we were obliged to make."