« FöregåendeFortsätt »
the concourse would begin to disperse, and the golden moment be lost. It was a great relief when a canoe appeared with tidings that the promised embassy was on its way; and yet more, when, on the seventeenth, four Iroquois approached the shore, and, in a loud voice, announced themselves as envoys of their nation. The tumult was prodigious. Montmagny's soldiers formed a double rank, and the savage rabble, with wild eyes and faces smeared with grease and paint, stared over the shoulders and between the gunbarrels of the musketeers, as the ambassadors of their deadliest foe stalked, with unmoved visages, towards the fort.
Now council followed council, with an insufferable prolixity of speech-making. There were belts to wipe out the memory of the slain; belts to clear the sky, smooth the rivers, and calm the lakes; a belt to take the hatchet from the hands of the Iroquois ; another to take away their guns; another to take away their shields; another to wash the war-paint from their faces; and another to break the kettle in which they boiled their prisoners. In short, there were belts past numbering, each with its meaning, sometimes literal, sometimes figurative, but all bearing upon the great work of peace. At length all was ended. The dances ceased, the songs and the whoops died away, and the great muster dispersed, - some to their smoky lodges on the distant shores of Lake Huron, and some to frozen hunting-grounds in northern forests.
1 Vimont, Relation, 1645, 34,
393 There was peace in this dark and blood-stained wilderness. The lynx, the panther, and the wolf had made a covenant of love; but who should be their surety? A doubt and a fear mingled with the joy of the Jesuit Fathers; and to their thanksgivings to God they joined a prayer, that the hand which had given might still be stretched forth to preserve.
THE PEACE BROKEN.
UNCERTAINTIES. – The Mission Of Jogues: HE REACHES THE
MOHAWKS; His RECEPTION; HIS RETURN; uis SECOND MisSION. – WARNINGS OF DANGER. – RAGE OF THE MOHAWKS. – MURDER OF JOGUES.
There is little doubt that the Iroquois negotiators acted, for the moment, in sincerity. Guillaume Couture, who returned with them and spent the winter in their towns, saw sufficient proof that they sincerely desired peace. And yet the treaty had a double defect. First, the wayward, capricious, and ungoverned nature of the Indian parties to it, on both sides, made a speedy rupture more than likely. Secondly, in spite of their own assertion to the contrary, the Iroquois envoys represented, not the confederacy of the five nations, but only one of these nations, the Mohawks: for each of the members of this singular league could, and often did, make peace and war independently of the rest.
It was the Mohawks who had made war on the French and their Indian allies on the lower St. Lawrence. They claimed, as against the other Iro
1646.] THE MISSION OF JOGUES.
395 quois, a certain right of domain to all this region; and though the warriors of the four upper nations had sometimes poached on the Mohawk préserve, by murdering both French and Indians at Montreal, they employed their energies for the most part in attacks on the Hurons, the Upper Algonquins, and other tribes of the interior. These attacks still continued, unaffected by the peace with the Mohawks. Imperfect, however, as the treaty was, it was invaluable, could it but be kept inviolate; and to this end Montmagny, the Jesuits, and all the colony anxiously turned their thoughts."
It was to hold the Mohawks to their faith that Couture had bravely gone back to winter among them; but an agent of more acknowledged weight · was needed, and Father Isaac Jogues was chosen.
1 The Mohawks were at this time more numerous, as compared with the other four nations of the Iroquois, than they were a few years later. They seem to have suffered more reverses in war than any of the others. At this time they may be reckoned at six or seven hundred warriors. A war with the Mohegans, and another with the Andastes, besides their war with the Algonquins and the french of Canada soon after, told severely on their strength. The following are estimates of the numbers of the Iroquois warriors made in 1660 by the author of the Relation of that year, and by l'entworth Greenhalgh in 1677, from personal inspection:
No white man, Couture excepted, knew their language and their character so well. His errand was half political, half religious; for not only was he to be the bearer of gifts, wampum-belts, and messages from the Governor, but he was also to found a new mission, christened in advance with a prophetic name, - the Mission of the Martyrs.
For two years past, Jogues had been at Montreal; and it was here that he received the order of his Superior to proceed to the Mohawk towns. At first, nature asserted itself, and he recoiled involuntarily at the thought of the horrors of which his scarred body and his mutilated hands were a living memento." It was a transient weakness, and he prepared to depart with more than willingness, giving thanks to Heaven that he had been found worthy to suffer and to die for the saving of souls and the greater glory of God.
He felt a presentiment that his death was near, and wrote to a friend, “I shall go, and shall not return."2 An Algonquin convert gave him sage advice. “Say nothing about the Faith at first, for there is nothing so repulsive, in the beginning, as our doctrine, which seems to destroy everything that men hold dear; and as your long cassock preaches, as well as your lips, you had better put on a short coat." Jogues, therefore, exchanged the uniform
1 Lettre du P. Isaac Jogues au R. P. Jérosme L'Allemant. Montréal, 2 Mai, 1646. MS.
? “Ibo et non redibo.” Lettre du P. Jogues au R. P. No date.