|HIST& 128 - WORLD HISTORY
18th Century to the Present
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Room FA 0406
Reuben Gold Thwaites ed. The Burrows Brothers Company (Cleveland, 1898)
OUR REVERENCE WILL NOT this year find your usual satisfaction in the Relation; for the best part of it which is that concerning the Hurons, was taken by the Hiroquois, together with our Fathers correspondence, in a defeat of 40 Hurons, which occurred on the 9th of last June, near Montreal. Father Isaac Jogues, now captive among the Barbarians, writes to us, on the last day of June,  that it has fallen into his hands, along with sundry letters of our Fathers among the Hurons; I know not whether he can at all convey it to Your reverence by some way unknown to us. I doubt not that it is full of great consolation; for we have learned, in general, that the principal Hurons are beginning to relish the things of God in good earnest, and to dispose themselves to Baptism, so that about a hundred have been chosen this year to be received into the number of the children of God. At the 3 Rivers this year, I saw that the Huron Christians were beginning to separate themselves, and that publicly,—so that on one side was a daily increasing band of believers, openly professing Christianity; and on the other, that of the Infidels, who begin to decrease in both esteem and boldness. I send your reverence the Relation for this region, which will furnish examples of Virtue, [page 267] and show notable increase of Christianity; but it must, as usual, be tempered with the bitterness of manifold evil tidings, arising from the side of the Hiroquois,  who, had we not some help from France, would undoubtedly ruin here both the faith and commerce. There is hardly an open passage left for us to reach the Hurons; our baggage last year was taken going up,—this year, coming down. At this writing, I learn that it is now captured for the third time on the way upward; and therefore we are obliged to send to your Reverence Father le Jeune, as one of long experience in the affairs of these regions, that he may more effectually represent them to those whose thoughts are favorable to this poor land. Such has been the advice and desire of Monsieur de Montmagny, our Governor, and of all the inhabitants, who have urgently besought me to the same end. I doubt not that your Reverence's charity will effectually embrace the cause of God and the salvation of these peoples, forsaken throughout so many generations; every year we experience the singular fruits of your cordial and fatherly affection; and above all I beseech the help of your Holy Sacrifices and of all our Fathers and Brethren who are under your charge. [page 269]
THE FRENCH COLONY is the chief means and only foundation for the conversion of all these tribes: there is no better or more efficacious way of procuring their salvation than by succoring this settlement, which, thanks be to God, increases little by little, and overcomes the great impediments it encounters,—as the remoteness of help from Europe, the scarcity of laborers, difficulties of trade, and the long Winter which covers the earth, five and even six months, with snow. Notwithstanding all these hindrances, nearly every French household now provides its little store of wheat, rye, peas, barley, and other grains necessary to the life of man,— some more, some less,—some making provision for haply six months; others, for only a  part of that time. Now they begin to understand the nature of the place, and the right seasons for tilling the soil. The work is well started: it still has need of help; but, thanks be to God, it makes notable progress. Moreover, in every household you will see many children, comely and of good wit; and in them all you will find what is most important,-a warm desire for their own salvation, and a singular zeal for virtue. It would seem that the purpose of entire devotion to God is born with the thought of establishing oneself in New France. Nor is this a small favor of God to [page 271] the land; it has ever appeared, and is manifest still more than ever in the persons of the Gentlemen in the Company of Montreal, and of all the dwellers in their settlement on this side. France may see this favor in part; we here see the rest. After all, it would be a difficult task to set forth the care and pains continually taken by Monsieur de Montmagny, our Governor, both hitherto and now, in relieving the Colony's hardships,- wherein all others would have lost courage, times without number. Father Bressany has had charge this year of the religious instruction  of the French at Québec; which office he has worthily fulfilled, and has produced remarkable effects by his Preaching. He has been assisted by Father Enemond Massé, who has nobly labored, though broken with age,—supplying by courage his want of strength, unto the great edification of all the residents. Father de Brebeuf and I went every Feast day and Sunday from Sillery to Quebec, to help them in hearing the Confessions, to speak a word of exhortation to the French, and to minister to the consolation of all.
Our Lord has called to himself, this year, Father Charles Raymbault, the first Religious of our Society to die in these quarters. He was very zealous for the establishment of the French Colony, and for the conversion of these tribes; he had managed the affairs of our Mission with much prudence and fervor, during several years in France, and the same zeal prompted him to ask urgently that he be numbered with the laborers of this new Church. His request being granted, he was sent four years ago to the Hurons,  at the Request of our Fathers there, who, knowing his prudence and courage, hoped to employ [page 273] him for the discovery of some remoter nations. And, as the Algonquin speech was necessary for this, they sent him, in company with Father Claude Pijart, to the Nipissiriniens, an Algonquin people,—in which mission, journeys and labors are past belief. There he was seized with a slow sickness, which wasted him little by little, insomuch that our Fathers had to send him down here, for greater convenience of food and medicine. But our good God found him ripe for Heaven; and, on October 22nd of last year, he died, after languishing during the space of three months,—which he spent in great peace of mind, in full resignation to the will of God, and with a very special solace at dying in new France, and having gained his disease while working for the salvation of the Savages. Monsieur the Governor, esteeming his virtue, desired that he be buried near the body of the late Monsieur de Champlain; which is in a separate tomb, erected expressly to honor the remembrance of that illustrious  personage, to who New France has owed so much.
I will now speak of the life and death of Monsieur Nicollet, Interpreter and Agent for the Gentlemen of the Company of New France. He died ten days after the Father [Raymbault], and had lived in this region twenty-five years. What I shall say of him will aid to a better understanding of the country. He came to New France in the year sixteen hundred and eighteen; and forasmuch as his nature and excellent memory inspired good hopes of him, he was sent to winter with the Island Algonquins, in order to learn their language. He tarried with them two years, alone of the French, and always joined the Barbarians in their excursions and journeys,—undergoing [page 275] such fatigues as none but eyewitnesses can conceive; he often passed seven or eight days without food, and once, full seven weeks with no other nourishment than a little bark from the trees. He accompanied four hundred Algonquins, who went during that time to make peace with the Hyroquois, which he successfully accomplished;  and would to God that it had never been broken, for then we would not now be suffering the calamities which move us to groans, and which must be an extraordinary impediment in the way of converting these tribes. After this treaty of peace, he went to live eight or nine years with the Algonquin Nipissiriniens, where he passed for one of that nation, taking part in the very frequent councils of those tribes, having his own separate cabin and household, and fishing and trading for himself. He was finally recalled, and appointed Agent and Interpreter. While in the exercise of this office, he was delegated to make a journey to the nation called People of the sea [probably the Winnebago of Wisconsin (see map above)], and arrange peace between them and the Hurons, from whom they are distant about three hundred leagues Westward. He embarked in the Huron country, with seven Savages; and they passed by many small nations, both going and returning. When they arrived at their destination, they fastened two sticks in the earth, and hung gifts thereon, so as to relieve these tribes from the notion of mistaking them for enemies to be massacred. When he was two days' journey from that nation, he  sent one of those Savages to bear tidings of the peace, which word was especially well received when they heard that it was a European who carried the message; they despatched several young men to meet the Manitouiriniou, [page 277] —that is to say, " the wonderful man. " They meet him; they escort him, and carry all his baggage. He wore a grand robe of China damask, all strewn with flowers and birds of many colours. No sooner did they perceive him than the women and children fled, at the sight of a man who carried thunder in both hands,—for thus they called the two pistols that he held. The news of his coming quickly spread to the places round about, and there assembled four or five thousand men. Each of the chief men made a feast for him, and at one of these banquets they served at least sixscore Beavers. The peace was concluded; he returned to the Hurons, and some time later to the three Rivers, where he continued his employment as Agent and Interpreter, to the great satisfaction of both the French and the Savages, by whom he was equally and singularly  loved. In so far as his office allowed, he vigorously cooperated with our Fathers for the conversion of those peoples, whom he could shape and bend howsoever he would, with a skill that can hardly be matched. Monsieur Olivier, Chief Agent of the Gentlemen of the Company, having gone to France last year, sieur Nicollet came down to Quebec in his place, with joy and lively consolation at sight of the peace and devotion at Quebec: but his joy was not long. A month or two after his arrival, he made a journey to the three Rivers for the deliverance of a Savage prisoner; which zeal cost him his life, in a shipwreck. He sailed from Quebec, toward seven o'clock in the evening, in the shallop of Monsieur de-Savigny, bound for the three Rivers. Before they reached Sillery, a gust of wind from the Northeast, which had raised a horrible storm upon the great [page 279] river, filled the shallop with water and caused it to sink, after two or three turns in the waves.  The passengers did not immediately sink, but clung for some time to the shallop. Monsieur Nicollet had leisure to say to Monsieur de Savigny, " Sir, save yourself; you can swim. I cannot; as for me, I depart to God. I commend to you my wife and my daughter. " One by one, the waves tore them all from the shallop, which was floating overturned against a rock. Monsieur de Savigny alone plunged into the water, and swam amid the billows and waves, which were like small mountains. The shallop was not very far from shore, but it was now black night, and there prevailed a sharp frost, which had already frozen the borders of the stream; so that the sieur de Savigny, perceiving his heart and strength fail, made a vow to God, and, soon afterward striking with his foot, he felt the ground. Drawing himself out of the water, he came to our house at Sillery, half dead, and remained a long time without strength to speak; then at last he told us of the woeful mischance, which, besides the death of Monsieur Nicollet, so grievous for all the country,  had lost him three of his best men, and a great part of his furniture and stores. He and Mademoiselle his wife endured this notable affliction in a barbarous country with great patience and resignation to the will of God, and without abating a jot of their courage. The Savages of Sillery, at the noise of Monsieur Nicollet's shipwreck, ran to the spot, and manifested unspeakable grief to see him appear no more. This was not the first time that this man had exposed himself to the peril of death for the weal and salvation of the Savages,—he did so very often, and left us [page 281] examples beyond one's expectations from a married man, which recall Apostolic times, and inspire even the most fervent Religious with a desire to imitate him. Twelve days after their shipwreck, the prisoner for whose deliverance he had embarked arrived here. Monsieur des Roches, commander at the three Rivers, had ransomed him, according to Monsieur the Governor's order. He came ashore at Sillery, and was thence conducted to the Hospital, to be dressed for the sores and  wounds inflicted by the Algonquins after his capture. They had stripped the flesh from his arms, in some places even to the bones; but the hospitable Nuns received him with much charity and had him dressed with such care that in three weeks or a month he was able to return to his own country. All our Neophytes showed him no less compassion and charity than the Algonquins up there had shown him cruelty. They gave him two kind Christian Savages to guide him unto the lands of the Abnaquiois, who are neighbors to his nation. Charles Meiaschawat, well known in the former Relations, and whom I shall again mention hereinafter, was one of those appointed to conduct him back. He was exceedingly glad to make this journey, and to have this opportunity of speaking of our holy faith to the Abnaquiois and other neighboring peoples. In fine, the entire winter at Québec passed with its wonted peace and devotion; but the whole of Spring was one continued season of manifold heavy tidings from the direction  of the Hiroquois. Then came the saddest and most woeful news that could ever have reached us,—the death of great Louys the Just, which grieved the Christian Savages equally with the French since those esteemed [page 283] themselves his natural subjects no less than these; and therefore had we ever sought to oblige them to acknowledge him for their sovereign, and yield him their fullest affection. The remembrance of his former gifts to them was still so fresh that, on first hearing the news, they were all dejected, and we could hardly comfort them, seeing that we had the like need. of consolation for the loss of so kind a Prince. But they were somewhat calmed when told that he was yet living in the person of his son, who had succeeded to his Estates and Crown; and so they went to pray to God for him.
This sad news was augmented by other tidings, which renewed our affliction; this was the death of Monsieur the Cardinal Duke, who, besides the care that he had for old France, was not forgetful of the new, which  amid its great difficulties, and its dangers, breathed afresh at the remembrance and the promises of that great heart, and was with joy and hope awaiting a necessary aid, when we learned of his death. When we remembered, that Winter, what Madame the Duchess d'Eguillon and Madame the Countess de Brienne, who have always so vigorously supported the cause of the Colony and of the Savages, wrote to us of him, and the assured help that we expected from him, the greatest evils appeared to us small, indeed; but it has pleased God to dispose affairs differently, in the secrets of his infinite wisdom, which are to us unknown. I trust, however, that we shall not be disappointed in our expectations; since the persons to whom divine providence has committed the Government of France, have no less of zeal and power than they had, to succor these poor countries, and contribute to the [page 285] conversion of these peoples. We are well assured, we nowise doubt, that the divine goodness which has made our young King succeed to the grandeurs  of his father, will also make him heir to the zeal which he had for the salvation of our Savages and of all these nations.
We are also very certain of the good will and affection of the Queen Regent, of which we have hitherto had proofs too manifest not to receive a sensible consolation and very strong hopes amid so many grievous accidents. In a word, she shows for us a mother's heart.
We received all these sad tidings on saint John's day, by the Miscou vessel, which came as far as Tadoussac; the other ships of the fleet were later than ever this year, which was a notable increase of affliction to us, and also to the Savages. We were beginning to fear some new misfortune. Finally, God sent them to us, on the holy day of our Lady's Assumption. As we were about to begin Mass, two sails appeared a league distant from our port; joy and consolation seized the hearts of all the inhabitants, but it very greatly redoubled when a  shallop came and brought us the news of the persons who were there: Father Quentin, with three worthy workers, Religious of our Society, and very apt for the language—to wit, Fathers Leonard Garreau, Gabriel Druillet, and Noël Chabanel. There were also three well-chosen Nuns, whose courage exceeds their sex—to wit, Mother Marie de Ste. Geneviefve, and Mother Anne de St. Joachim, Hospital nuns from the house of Diepe; and Mother Anne des Seraphins, Ursuline, from the Convent of Plermel in Brittany. ,It required great strength for these good women to [page 287] overcome the dangers of the Ocean, the fear of the Barbarous country, and the importunate words of those who wished to turn them aside in France from so holy an enterprise. Monsieur d'Aliboust, a very honest and most virtuous Gentleman, associated in the Society of Gentlemen of Montreal, with his wife and his sister-in-law, of similar courage and virtue , were in one of these ships: all this blessed company landed at Québec, and came to consecrate itself of God and to the salvation of the Savages, under the protection and the  favor of the Empress of the Universe. I was forgetting the piety of an honest Priest named Monsieur Chartrier, who increased the company, and came to devote himself to the service of the Ursuline Mothers, with the desire and purpose of serving God in this country the rest of his days, and contributing what he can, in the way of strength and industry, to the salvation of the Savages. [page 289]
Father Vimont continues his relation in Chapter II with an account of the Ursuline Seminary established at Quebec.