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Undeniably, the Faith was making progress: yet it is not to be supposed that its path was a smooth one. The old opposition and the old calumnies were still alive and active. “It is la prière that kills us. Your books and your strings of beads have bewitched the country. Before you came, we were happy and prosperous. You are magicians. Your charms kill our corn, and bring sickness and the Iroquois. Echon (Brébeuf] is a traitor among us, in league with our enemies.' Such discourse was still rife, openly and secretly.
The Huron who embraced the Faith renounced thenceforth, as we have seen, the feasts, dances, and games in which was his delight, since all these savored of diabolism. And if, being in health, he could not enjoy himself, so also, being sick, he could not be cured; for his physician was a sorcerer, whose medicines were charms and incantations. If the convert was a chief, his case was far worse; since, writes Father Lalemant, “ to be a chief and a Christian is to combine water and fire, for the business of the chiefs
never heard till the hour of his death. He receives the grace of baptism, and breathes nothing but heaven. ... This newly made, but generous Christian, mounted on the scaffold which is the place of his torture, in the sight of a thousand spectators, who are at once his enemies, his judges, and his executioners, raises his eyes and his voice heavenward, and cries aloud, Sun, who art witness of my torments, hear my words! I am about to die; but after my death I shall go to dwell in heaven.'” – Relation des Hurons, 1641, 67.
The Sun, it will be remembered, was the god of the heathen Iroquois. The convert appealed to his old deity to rejoice with him in dus happy future.
THE FRENCH HEAVEN.
is mainly to do the Devil's bidding, preside over ceremonies of hell, and excite the young Indians to dances, feasts, and shameless indecencies.” 1
It is not surprising, then, that proselytes were difficult to make, or that, being made, they often relapsed. The Jesuits complain that they had no means of controlling their converts, and coercing backsliders to stand fast; and they add, that the Iroquois, by destroying the fur-trade, had broken the principal bond between the Hurons and the French, and greatly weakened the influence of the mission.2
Among the slanders devised by the heathen party against the teachers of the obnoxious doctrine was one which found wide credence, even among the converts, and produced a great effect. They gave out that a baptized Huron girl, who had lately died, and was buried in the cemetery at Sainte Marie, had returned to life, and given a deplorable account of the heaven of the French. No sooner had she entered,
– such was the story, — than they seized her, chained her to a stake, and tormented her all day with inconceivable cruelty. They did the same to all the other converted Hurons; for this was the recreation of the French, and especially of the Jesuits, in their celestial abode. They baptized Indians with no other object than that they might have them to torment in heaven; to which end they were willing to meet hardships and dangers in this life, just as a warparty invades the enemy's country at great risk that it may bring home prisoners to burn. After her painful experience, an unknown friend secretly showed the girl a path down to the earth; and she hastened thither to warn her countrymen against the wiles of the missionaries.1
i Relation des Hurons, 1642, 89. The indecencies alluded to were chiefly naked dances, of a superstitious character, and the mystical cure called Andacwandet, before mentioned. * 2 Lettre du P. Hierosme Lalemant, appended to the Relation of
In the spring of 1648 the excitement of the heathen party reached a crisis. A young Frenchman, named Jacques Douart, in the service of the mission, going out at evening a short distance from the Jesuit house of Sainte Marie, was tomahawked by unknown Indians, a who proved to be two brothers, instigated by the heathen chiefs. A great commotion followed, and for a few days it seemed that the adverse parties would fall to blows, at a time when the common enemy threatened to destroy them both. But sager counsels prevailed. In view of the manifest strength of the Christians, the pagans lowered their tone; and it soon became apparent that it was the part of the Jesuits to insist boldly on satisfaction for the outrage. They made no demand that the murderers should be punished or surrendered, but, with their usual good sense in such matters, conformed to Indian usage, and required that the nation at large should make 1648.] MURDER AND ATONEMENT. 455 atonement for the crime by presents. The number of these, their value, and the mode of delivering them were all fixed by ancient custom; and some of the converts, acting as counsel, advised the Fathers of every step it behooved them to take in a case of such importance. As this is the best illustration of Huron justice on record, it may be well to observe the method of procedure, — recollecting that the public, and not the criminal, was to pay the forfeit of the crime.
1 Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1646, 65.
2 Ibid., 1648, 77. Compare Lettre du P. Jean de Brébeuf au T. R. P. Vincent Carafa, Général de la Compagnie de Jésus, Sainte Marie 2 Juin, 1648, in Carayon.
First of all, the Huron chiefs summoned the Jesuits to meet them at a grand council of the nation, when an old orator, chosen by the rest, rose and addressed Ragueneau, as chief of the French, in the following harangue. Ragueneau, who reports it, declares that he has added nothing to it, and the translation is as literal as possible.
“My Brother,” began the speaker, “behold all the tribes of our league assembled !” — and he named them one by one. “We are but a handful; you are the prop and stay of this nation. A thunderbolt has fallen from the sky, and rent a chasm in the earth. We shall fall into it, if you do not support us. Take pity on us. We are here, not so much to speak as to weep over our loss and yours. Our country is but a skeleton, without flesh, veins, sinews, or arteries; and its bones hang together by a thread. This thread is broken by the blow that has fallen on the head of
1 See Introduction, 54.
your nephew, 1 for whom we weep. It was a demon of hell who placed the hatchet in the murderer's hand. Was it you, Sun, whose beams shine on us, who led him to do this deed? Why did you not darken your light, that he might be stricken with horror at his crime? Were you his accomplice? No; for he walked in darkness, and did not see where he struck. He thought, this wretched murderer, that he aimed at the head of a young Frenchman; but the blow fell upon his country, and gave it a death-wound. The earth opens to receive the blood of the innocent victim, and we shall be swallowed up in the chasm; for we are all guilty. The Iroquois rejoice at his death, and celebrate it as a triumph; for they see that our weapons are turned against each other, and know well that our nation is near its end.
“Brother, take pity on this nation. You alone can restore it to life. It is for you to gather ap all these scattered bones, and close this chasm that opens to engulf us. Take pity on your country. I call it yours, for you are the master of it; and we came here like criminals to receive your sentence, if you will not show us mercy. Pity those who condemn themselves and come to ask forgiveness. It is you who have given strength to the nation by dwelling with it; and if you leave us, we shall be like a wisp of
1 The usual Indian figure in such cases, and not meant to express an actual relationship, -"Uncle" for a superior, “ Brother" for an equal, “ Nephew” for an inferior.