Jesuits. Letters from missions (North America).

The Jesuit relations and allied documents : travels and explorations of the Jesuit missionaries in New France, 1610-1791 ; the original French, Latin, and Italian texts online

. (page 15 of 19)
Online LibraryJesuits. Letters from missions (North America)The Jesuit relations and allied documents : travels and explorations of the Jesuit missionaries in New France, 1610-1791 ; the original French, Latin, and Italian texts → online text (page 15 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

1664 - 67] RELA TION OF 1666 - 67 265

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 Mon-
sieur de Tracy, whose spokesman I was. Fear of
disobliging that great Onnontio impelled one of the
chief men among them to take the word, and harangue
[22] long and forcibly to persuade us to turn back.
The weakness of this discontented man was turned to
account by the evil spirit for closing the way against
the Gospel. None of the others were better disposed ;
so that, although our Frenchmen found places for
themselves without much difficulty, no one would be
burdened with me — all declaring that I had neither
skill at the paddle, nor strength to carry loads on
my shoulders.

" In this abandoned state I withdrew into the
woods, and, after thanking God for making me so
acutely sensible of 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 [23] the disposition of
that Savage who had repulsed me with such con-
tempt 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 Gal-
leys; and, although I became entirely exhausted, yet
God gave me sufficient strength to paddle all day


Dieu me donna autant de forces qu'il en falloit pour
nager toute la iournee, & fouuent vne bonne partie
de la nuit; ce qui [24] n'empefchoit pas, que ie ne
fuffe d'ordinaire I'objet de leurs mepris & de leurs
railleries; parceque, quelque peine que ie prilTe, ie
ne faifois rien en comparaifon d'eux, qui' font de
grands corps, robuftes, & tout faits a ces trauaux.
Le peu d'eftat qu'ils faifoient de moy, fut caufe,
qu'ils me deroboient tout ce qu'ils pouuoient de mes
habits : & j'eu grande peine k conferuer mon chapeau,
dont les bords leur paroiiToient bien propres, pour fe
deffendre des ardeurs exceffiues du Soleil : & le f oir,
mon Pilote prenant vn bout de couuerture que j'auois,
pour s'en feruir comme d'oreiller, il m'obligeoit de
paffer la nuit fans eftre couuert, que du feuillage de
quelque arbre.

Quand la faim furuient a ces [25] incommodites,
c'eft vne rude peine; mais qui enf eigne bien toft "k
prendre gouft aux racines les plus ameres, & aux
viandes les plus pourries. II a plu ^ Dieu, me la
faire fouffrir plus grande aux iours de Vendredy,
dont ie le remercie de bon-coeur.

II fallut s'accouftumer a manger vne certaine
mouffe qui naift fur les rochers: c'eft vne efpece de
feuille en forme de coquille, qui eft toufiours cou-
uerte de chenilles & d'araignees, & qui etant botiillie,
rend vn bouillon infipide, noir & gluant, qui fert
pluftoft pour empefcher de mourir, que pour faire

Vn certain matin, on trouua vn cerf mort depuis
quatre ou cinq iours : ce fut vne bonne rencontre pour
de pauures affames, on m'en [26] prefenta; & quoy
que la mauuaife odeur empefchaft quelques vns d'en

1664-67] RELATION OF ib66-67 257

long, and often a good part of the night. But this
application [24] did not prevent my being commonly
the object of their contempt and the butt of their
jokes ; for, however much I exerted myself, I accom-
plished 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 [25] 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 cater-
pillars 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.

" One morning, we found a stag that had been
dead four or five days. It was a lucky accident for
poor starvelings. I was [26] 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.


manger, la faim me fit prendre ma part : mais i'en eu
la bouche puante iufqu'au lendemain.

Auec toutes ces miferes, dans les Saults que nous
rencontrions, ie portois d'auffi gros fardeaux que ie
pouuois: mais fouuent i'y fuccombois; & c'eft ce qui
donnoit k rire ^ nos Sauuages, qui fe railloient de
moy, & difoient qu'il falloit apeller vn enfant, pour
me porter auec mon paquet. Noftre bon Dieu ne
m'abandonnoit point tout k fait en ces rencontres,
mais il en fufcitoit fouuent quelques vns, qui touches
de companion, fans rien dire, me dechargeoient
de ma Chapelle, ou de quelque autre fardeau, &
m'aidoient k faire Ie chemin vn peu plus k laife.

[27] II arriuoit quelques fois qu'apres auoir bien
porte des paquets, & apres auoir rame tout Ie iour, &
mefme deux ou trois heures dans la nuit, nous nous
couchions fur la terre, ou fur quelque rocber fans
fouper, pour recommencer Ie iour d'apres auec les
mefmes trauaux. Mais par tout la prouidence Diuine
mefloit quelques peu de douceur & de foulagement
"k nos fatigues.

Nous fumes pres de quinze iours dans ces peines,
& apr6s auoir paffe Ie Lac NipilTirinien, lors que nous
defcendions vne petite Riuiere, nous entendifmes
des cris lamentables, & des cbanfons de mort. Nous
abordons k I'endroit d'oii venoient ces clameurs, &
nous vifmes huit ieunes Sauuages des Outaoiiacs,
horriblement brufles, par vn accident funefte, d'vne
6tincelle [28] de feu, qui tomba par mef garde dans
vn baril de poudre : II y en auoit quatre, entre autres,
tout grilles, & en danger de mort. Ie les confolay,
& les difpofay au Bapteme, que ie leur euffe confer^,
fi i' euffe eu Ie loifir de les voir affes difpof^s; car

1664 - 67] RELA TION OF 1666-67 259

" 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 Chapel or of some other
burden, and would help me to journey a little more
at my ease.

[27] " 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

' ' We endured these hardships for nearly two
weeks; and after passing the Nipissirinien Lake, as
we were descending a little River, we heard cries of
lamentation and death-songs. Approaching the spot
whence came these outcries, we saw eight young
Savages of the Outaouacs, frightfully burned by a
direful accident, a spark [28] having by inadvertence
fallen into a keg of powder. Four among them were
completely scorched, and in danger of dying. I
comforted them and prepared them for Baptism,
which I would have conferred had I had time to see
them sujfficiently fitted for it ; for, despite this disas-
ter, we had to keep on our way, in order to reach the
entrance to the Lake of the Hurons, which was the
rendezvous of all these travelers.


nonobfkant ce malheur, il fallut touCours marcher,
pour fe rendre k I'entree du Lac des Hurons, qui etoit
le rend6s-vous de tous ces voyageurs.

lis s'y trouuerent, le vingt-quatri6me de ce mois,
au nombre de cent Canots ; & ce fut pour lors qu'ils
vaquerent k la guerifon de ces pauures brufles, y
employant tous leurs remedes fuperflitieux.

le m'en aperceu bien la nuit fuiuante, par le chant
de certains longleurs, qui rempliffoit I'air; & par mil
autres ceremonies ridicules, [29] dont ils fe feruoient,
d'autres firent vne efpece de facrifice au Soleil, pour
obtenir la guerifon de ces malades: car s'eftans affis
en rond, dix ou douze, comme pour tenir confeil, fur
la pointe d'vn Iflet de roche, ils allumerent vn petit
feu, auec la fum^e duquel ils faifoient monter en I'air
des cris confus, qui fe terminerent par vne harangue,
que le plus vieux & le plus confiderable d'entre eux
adreffa au Soleil.

lenepouuoisfouffrirqu'aucune de leurs d[i]uinit6s
imaginaires fut inuoquee en ma prefence: & neant-
moins ie me voyois tout feul k la mercy de tout ce
peuple. Ie balangay quelque temps dans le doute,
s'il feroit plus k propos de me retirer doucement, ou
de m'opofer ^ ces fuperftitions. Le refte de mon
'voyage depend d'eux, fi ie [30] les irrite, le Diable fe
feruira de leur colere, pour me fermer I'entree de
leur pais, & empefcher leur conuerfion, d'ailleurs
i'auois defia reconnu le peu d'effet que mes paroles
auoient fur leurs efprits, & que ie les aigrirois encor
dauantage, par mon oppofition. Nonobftant toutes
ces raifons, ie cru que Dieu demandoit de moy ce
petit feruice: I'y vay done, laiffant le fuccez h. fa
Diuine prouidence. I'entreprens les plus confide-

1664 - 67] RELA TION OF 1666 - 67 261

' ' They arrived there on the tM^enty-f ourth of this
month, to the number of a hundred Canoes; and
then they applied themselves to the healing of these
poor burned men, using on them all their supersti-
tious 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 cere-
monies [29] 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 [30] incensed them, the Devil would make use of
their anger in closing against me the door to their
country, and in preventing their conversion. Be-
sides, I had already perceived how little weight my
words had with them, and knew that I would turn
them still more against me by opposing them.
Despite all these reasons, I believed that God de-
manded 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


rabies de ces longleurs, & apres vn long difcours de
part & d'autre, il plut k Dieu toucher le coeur du
malade, qui me promit de ne permettre aucunes'
fuper[f]titions pour fa guerifon, & s'adreffant ^ Dieu
par vne courte priere, il I'inuoqua comme I'autheur
de la vie, & de la mort.

[31] Cette vidtoire ne doit pas paffer pour petite,
6tant remport6e fur le Demon, au milieu de fon em-
pire, & ou depuis tant de fiecles, il auoit efte obey &
ador6 par tous ces peuples. AufQ s'en reffenti-t'il
peu apres, & nous enuoya le longleur, qui comme vn
defefpere, crioit autour de noftre cabanne, & fembloit
vouloir decharger fa rage fur nos Frangois : le priay
noftre Seigneur que fa vengeance ne tombaft point
fur d'autre que fur moy, & ma priere ne fut pas
inutile, nous n'y perdimes que noftre Canot, que ce
miferable brifa en pieces.

I'eu en mefme temps le deplaifir, d'aprendre la
mort d'vn de ces pauures brufI6s, fans que ie le puiffe
affifter: i'efpere neantmoins que Dieu luy aura fait
mifericorde, enfuite [32] des adtes de foy & de
contrition, & de plufieurs prieres que ie luy fis faire.
La premiere f ois que ie le vis qui fut auffi la derniere.

Vers le commencement de Septembre, apres auoir
coftoye les riuages du Lac des Hurons, nous arriuons
au Sault: c'eft ainfi qu'on nomme vne demie lieue de
rapides, qui fe retrouuent en vne belle riuiere, laquelle
fait la iondtion de deux grands Lacs, de celuy des
Hurons & du Lac Superieur.

Cette Riuiere eft agreable, tant pour les Ifles dont
elle eft entrecoup6e, & les grandes bayes dont elle
eft bord^e, que pour la pefche & la chaff e, qui y font
tres aduantageufes. Nous allames pour coucher en

1664 - 67] RELA TION OF 1666 - bj 263

to touch the sick man's heart so that he promised me
to permit no superstitions ceremonies for his cure ;
and, addressing God in a short prayer, he invoked
him as the author of life and of death.

[31] " 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 worshiped 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 [32] 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 coast-
ing 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 beau-
tiful 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


vne de ces Ifles, ou nos Sauuages croyoient trouuer k
fouper des leur arriuee, car en debarquant, [33] ils
mirent la chaudiere fur le feu, s'attendans de voir le
Canot charge de poiffons, li toft qu'on auroit iette la
rets k I'eau; mais Dieu voulut punir leur prefomp-
tion, differant iufqu'au lendemain k donner k manger
^ des fameliques.

Ce fut done le fecond de Septembre, qu'apres auoir
f ranch! ce Sault, qui n'eft pas vne chute d'eau, mais
feulement vn courant tres-violent, empefch6 par
quantite de rochers, nous enframes dans le Lac Supe-
rieur, qui portera deformais le nom de Monfieur de
Tracy, en reconnoiffance des obligations, que luy
ont les peuples de ces contr^es.

La figure de ce Lac eft prefque pareille k celle d'vn
arc, les riuages du cofte du Sud effant fort courb6s,
[34] & ceux du Nord prefque en droite ligne: La
pefche y eft abondante, le poiffon excellent, & I'eau
fi claire & fi nette, qu'on voit iufqu'k fix brafl!es, ce
qui eft au fond.

Les Sauuages refpedtent ce Lac comme vne Diui-
nite, & luy font des facrifices, foit a caufe de fa
grandeur, car il a deux cents lieues de long, & quatre
vingt au plus large; foit accaufe de fa bonte, four-
niffant du poiffon, qui nourrit tons ces peuples, au
defaut de la challe, qui eft rare aux enuirons.

L'on trouue fouuent au fond de I'eau, des pieces
de cuiure tout forme, de la pefanteur de dix & vingt
liures: i'en ay veu plufieurs fois entre les mains des
Sauuages, & comme ils font fuperftitieux, ils les
gardent comme autant de diuinites, ou comme des
prefents que les dieux [35] qui font au fond de I'eau,
leur ont fait, pour eftre la caufe de leur bonheur:

1664-67] RELATION OF 1666-67 265

supper upon their arrival ; for, as soon as they
landed, [33] 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 clear-
ing 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, [34] 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,— or because of its goodness
in furnishing fish for the sustenance of all these
tribes, in default of game, which is scarce in the

' ' One often finds at the bottom of the water pieces
of pure copper, of ten and twenty livres' weight.
I have several times seen such pieces in the Sav-
ages' hands; and, since they are superstitious, they
keep them as so many divinities, or as presents
which the gods [35] dwelling beneath the water have
given them, and on which their welfare is to depend.
For this reason they preserve these pieces of copper,


C'eft pour cela, qu'ils conferuent ces morceaux de
cuiure enuelopes parmi leurs meubles les plus
pretieux; il y en a qui les gardent depuis plus de
cinquante ans ; d'autres les ont dans leurs families de
temps immemorial, & les cheriffent comme des dieux

On a veu pendant quelque temps, comme vn gros
rocher tout de cuiure, dont la pointe fortoit hors de
I'eau; ce qui donnoit occafion aux paffans d'en aller
coupper des morceaux : Neantmoins lorf que ie paffay
en cet endroit, on n'y voyoit plus rien: Ie croy que
les tempeftes qui font icy fort frequentes, & fem-
blables k celles de la Mer, ont couuert de fable ce
rocher: Nos Sauuages [36] m'ont voulu perfuader
que c'efloit vne diuinite, laquelle a difparu, pour
quelque raifon, qu'ils ne difent pas.

Au refte ce Lac eft I'abord de douze ou quinze
fortes de nations differentes, les vnes venans du
Nord, les autres du Midy, & les autres du Couchant;
& toutes fe rendans, ou fur les riuages les plus
propres 'k la pefche, ou dans des Ifles qui font en
grand nombre en tons les quartiers de ce Lac. Le
deffein qu'ont ces peuples, en fe rendant icy, eft en
partie pour chercher k viure, par la pefche; & en
partie, pour faire leur petit commerce les vns auec les
autres, quand ils fe rencontrent. Mais le deffein de
Dieu a eft6 de faciliter la publication de I'Euangile, "k
des peuples errans & vagabonds, ainfi qu'il paroiftra
[37] dans la fuitte de ce lournal.

Eftans done entres dans le Lac de Tracy; nous
employames tout le mois de Septembre a nauiger fur
les bords qui font du cofk6 du Midy, ou i'y eu la
confolation d'y dire la fainte Meffe, m'eftant trouue

1664 - 67] RELA TION OF 1666 - 67 267

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 fre-
quent, and like those at Sea — have covered the rock
with sand. Our Savages [36] 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 [37] in the course of this

" 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


feul auec nos Frangois, ce que ie n'auois pu faire
depuis tnon depart des trois Riuieres.

Apr^s auoir confacre ces forefts par cette fainte
adtion, pour comble de ma ioye, Dieu me conduifit
au bord de I'eau, & me fit tomber fur deux enfans
malades, qu'on embarquoit pour aller dans les terres;
ie fus fortement inf pire de les baptif er ; & apres toutes
le precautions neceff aires, ie Ie fis dans Ie peril ou ie
les vis de mourir pendant I'Hyuer: Toutes les
fatigues paff6es ne m'eftoient plus rien ; & [38] i'eflois
tout fait k la faim, qui nous fuiuoit toufiours de pres,
n'ayant k manger, que ce que I'induflrie de nos
pefcheurs, qui n'eftoit pas toujours heureufe, nous
pouuoit fournir du iour a la iourn^e.

Nous paffames enfuitte la Baye nommee par le feu
Pere Menard, de fainte Therefe. C'efl: la ou ce
genareux Miffionnaire a hyuern6, y trauaillant auec
le mefme zele, qui luy a fait enfuitte donner fa vie,
courant apres les ames : Ie trouuay alT^s proche de
Yk quelques reftes de fes trauaux; C'eftoient deux
femmes Chreftiennes, qui auoient toufiours conferu6
la foy, & brilloient comme deux aftres au milieu de
la nuit de cette infidelite. Ie les fis prier Dieu, apres
leur auoir rafraichi la memoire de nos myfteres.

[39] Le Diable eft fans doute bien ialoux de cette
gloire qui eft rendue k Dieu, au milieu de fes Eftats,
a fait ce qu'il a pu pour m'empefcher de monter icy:
& n'ayant pu en venir k bout, il s'en eft pris a quel-
ques Efcrits que i'auois apport^s, propres pour
rinftru(5tion de ces infideles. Ie les auois enfermes
dans vne petite quaiffe, auec quelques medicaments
pour les malades ; le malin efprit, preuoyant qu'elle
me feruiroit beaucoup pour le falut des Sauuages, fit

1664 - 67] RELA TION OF 1666 - 67 269

holy ceremony, God 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 [38]
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

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 17 18 19

Online LibraryJesuits. Letters from missions (North America)The Jesuit relations and allied documents : travels and explorations of the Jesuit missionaries in New France, 1610-1791 ; the original French, Latin, and Italian texts → online text (page 15 of 19)