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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

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ils croyent que le Soleil eft vn homme, & la Lune fa
femme : que la nege & la glace eft auffi vn homme,
qui s'en va au printemps, & reuient en hyuer ; que
le malin efprit eft dans les couleuures, les dragons &
autres monftres ; que le corbeau, le milan & quelques
autres oifeaux font des genies, & qu'ils parlent auffi
bien que nous: que mefme il y a parmy eux des
peuples, qui [56] entendent leur langage, comme
quelques vns entendent vn peu celuy des Frangois.

lis croyent de plus que les ames des Trepaffes
gouuernent les poiffons qui font dans le Lac ; & ainfi
de tout temps ils ont tenu I'immortalite, & mefme la
metempfycofe des ames des poiffons morts; car ils
croyent qu'elles repaffent dans d'autres corps de
poiffons, & c'eft pour cela qu'il ne iettent iamais les
arrefles dans le feu, de peur de deplaire ^ ces ames,
qui ne viendroient plus dans leurs rets.

Ils ont en veneration toute particuliere, vne cer-
taine befte chymerique, qu'ils n'ont iamais veue,
finon en f onge ; ils I'apellent Miffibizi ; ils la recon-
noiffent pour vn grand genie, auquel ils font des
facrifices, pour obtenir bonne pefche d'efturgeon.

[57] Ils difent auffi que les petites pieres de cuiure,
qu'ils trouuent au fonds de I'eau dans le Lac, ou dans
les Riuieres qui s'y dechargent, font les richeffes
des dieux, qui habitent dans le fond de la terre.

I 'ay appris, dit le Pere qui a decouuert toutes ces
fottifes, que les Ilinioiiek, les Outagami, & autres
Sauuages du cofte du Sud, croyent qu'il y a vn grand



1664-67] RELATION OF 1666-67 289

" As, moreover, these people are of gross nature,
they recognize no purely spiritual divinity, believ-
ing 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 [56] 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 immor-
tality, 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, acknowl-
edging it to be a great genius, and offering it sacri-
fices in order to obtain good sturgeon-fishing.^^

[57]" 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



290 LES RELATIONS DES /^SUITES [Vol.50

& excellent genie, maiftre de tons les autres, qui a
fait le Ciel & la Terre, & qui eft, difent ils, du cofle
du Leuant vers le pays des Frangois.

La fource de leur Religion eft le libertinage; &
toutes ces fortes de facrifices fe terminent d' ordinaire
h. des feflins de debauche, ^ des dances deshonneftes,
& k des concubinages infames, les hommes employent
toute leur deuotion [58] k auoir plufieurs femmes,
& en changer quand il leur plaifl; les femmes, ^
quitter leurs maris; & les filles, h. viure dans la
dillolution.

Ils ne laillent pas de fouffrir beaucoup ^ I'occalion
de ces fottes diuinites ; car ils ieunent en leur hon-
neur, pour fgauoir I'euenement de quelque affaire.
Ten ay veu auec compalTion, dit le Pere, qui ayants
quelque deffein de guerre, ou de chaffe, paffent les
huit iours tout de fuitte, ne prenans prefque rien;
auec telle opiniaftrete, qu'ils ne deliftent point,
qu'ils n'ayent veu en fonge ce qu'ils demandent, ou
vne troupe d'orignaux, ou vne bande d' Iroquois mis
en fuite, ou chofe femblable: ce qui n'eft pas bien
difficile k vn cerueau vuide & tout epuif6 par le
ieune, & qui ne penfe tout le iour k rien autre chofe.

[59] Difons quelque chofe de I'art de Medecine, qui
a vogue en ce pais. Leur fcience confifte k con-
noiflre la caufe du mal, & y appli'quer les remedes.

Ils iugent que la caufe la plus ordinaire des mala-
dies vient d'auoir manque k faire feftin, apres quel-
que pef che ou chaffe heureuf e ; car pour lors le Soleil
qui fe plaift aux feflins, fe fache contre la perfonne
qui a manque k fon deuoir, & la rend malade.

Outre cette caufe generale des maladies, il y en a
de particulieres, qui font certains petits genies mal-



1664-67] RELATION OF 1666-67 291

dwells, they say, in the East, toward the country of
the French.

" The fountain-head of their Religion is libertin-
ism ; and all these various sacrifices end ordinarily in
debauches, indecent dances, and shameful acts of con-
cubinage. All the devotion of the men is directed
[58] 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.

[59] " Let us say something about the art of Medi-
cine in vogue in this country. Their science consists
in ascertaining the cause of the ailment, and apply-
ing the remedies.

' ' They deem the most common cause of illness to
come from failure to give a feast after some success-
ful 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,



292 LES RELATIONS DES /^SUITES [Vol, 50

faifans de leur nature, qui fe fourrent d'eux mefmes,
ou font iettes par quelque ennemi, das les parties du
corps qui font les plus malades. AinU quand quel-
qu'vn fent mal a la tefle, ou au bras, ou k I'eftomac;
[60] c'eft vn Manitou, difent-ils, qui eft entre dans
ces parties, & qui ne ceilera de les tourmenter, qu'on
ne Ten ait ou tire, ou chaHe.

Le remede done le plus ordinaire, eft d'apeller le
longleur qui vient en compagnie de quelques vieil-
lards, auec lefquels, il fait vne efpece de confulta-
tion fur le mal du patient ; apres quoy il f e iette fur
la partie mal-affedlee, il y applique fa bouche, & la
fuc9ant, il fait femblant d'en tirer quelque chofe,
comme vne petite piere, ou vn bout de corde, ou
autre chofe, qu'il auoit auparauant cachee dans fa
bouche, & la montrant, dit: voila la Manitou, te
voila guery, il n'y ^ plus qu'k faire feftin.

Le Diable, qui veut tourmenter ces pauures aueu-
gles d^s ce monde, leur a infpire vn autre remede,
[61] auquel ils ont grande conj&ance, c'eft de prendre
le malade fous les bras, & le faire marcher pieds
nuds fur les braifes de la cabanne, ou s'il efl fl mal
qu'il ne puifle pas marcher, on le porte ^ quatre ou
cinq perfonnes, & on le fait paller doucement par
dellus tous les feux: ce qui fait afl^s fouuent, qu'vn
plus grand mal qu'on leur caufe, guerit, ou fait qu'on
ne rellent pas vn plus leger, qu'on veut gfuerir.

Apres tout, le remede le plus commun, comme il
eft le plus profitable au Medecin, eft de faire vn
feftin au Soleil ; croyant que cet aftre, qui f e plailt
k la liberalite, s'appaifera par vn repas magni-
fique, regardera le malade de bon oeil, & luy rendra la
fant6.



1664 - 67] RELA TION OF 1666 - 67 293

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, or stomach,
[60] 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
blinded creatures even in this world, has suggested
to them another remedy, [61] 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 treat-
ment 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,



294 LES RELATIONS DES JJ^SUITES [Vol.50

Tout cela monftre, que ces pauures peuples font
bien 61oign6s [62] du Royaume de Dieu ; mais celuy
qui peut toucher des coeurs, auffi durs que les pierres,
pour en faire des enfans d' Abraham, & des vafes d'6-
ledtion ; pourra bien auffi faire naiftre le Chriftianifme
dans le fein de I'ldolatrie, & 6clairer par les lumieres
de la Foy, ces Barbares, ploughs dans les tenebres
de I'erreur, & dans vn Ocean de debauches. On le
connoifkra par le recit des Miffions, que le Pere a
faites en ce dernier bout du monde, pendant les deux
premieres ann6es qu'il y a demeure.



1664 - 67] RELA TION OF 1666 - 67 295

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
[62] 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.



296 LES RELATIONS DES JESUITES [Vol.60



[63] CHAPITRE VI.

RELATION DE LA MISSION DU SAINT-ESPRIT DANS LE
LAC DE TRACY.

APRES vn rude & facheux voyage de cinq cents
lieues, ou tontes fortes de miferes fe font ren-
contr6es, le Pere s'eflant rendu vers les extre-
mites du grand Lac, y trouua de quoy exercer le zele
qui luy auoit fait deuorer tant de fatigues, en jettant
les fondements des Miffions, dont nous allons parler.
Conimen9ons par celle du Saint Efprit, qui eft le lieu
de fa demeure: voicy ce qu'il en dit.

Ce quartier du Lac, oti nous nous fommes areft6s,
eft entre deux grands Bourgs, & comme le centre de
toutes les nations de ces [64] contr6es, parceque la
pefche y eft abondante, qui eft le principal fond de
la fubfiftance de ces peuples.

Nous y auons dreffe vne petite Chapelle d'efcorces,
ou toute mon occupation eft, d'y receuoir les Chre-
ftiens Algonkins & Hurons, les inftruire, baptifer
& catechifer les enfans, y admettre les Infidelles qui
y accourent de toutes parts, attir6s par la nouueaut^ ;
leur parler en public & en particulier, les conuaincre
fur leurs fuperftitions, combattre leur idolatrie, leur
faire voir les verit6s de noftre Foy; & ne laifler
partir perfonne d'aupr^s de moy, fans jetter dans
fon ame quelques femences de I'Euangile.

Dieu m'a fait la grace de me faire entendre k plus
de dix Nations differentes: mais j'aduoue qu'il eft



1664 - 67] RELA TION OF 1666 -67 297



[63] CHAPTER VI.

RELATION OF THE MISSION OF SAINT ESPRIT ON LAKE
TRACY.

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, which is
the place of his abode. He speaks as follows :

" This part of the Lake where we have halted is
between two large Villages, and forms a sort of cen-
ter for all the nations of these [64] 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,
where my entire occupation is to receive the Algon-
kin and Huron Christians, and instruct them ; bap-
tize and catechize the children ; admit the Infidels,
who hasten hither from all directions, attracted by
curiosity ; speak to them in public and in private ;
disabuse them of their superstitions, combat their
idolatry, make them see the truths of our Faith ; and
suffer no one to leave my presence without implant-
ing in his soul some seeds of the Gospel.

" God has graciously permitted me to be heard by
more than ten different Nations; but I confess that



298 LES RELATIONS DES j£SUITES [Vol.50

[65] necellaire de luy demander, mefme auant le
iour, la patience pour fouffrir ioyeufement les m^pris,
les railleries, les importunit^s, & les infolences de ces
Barbares.

Vne autre occupation que i'ay dans ma petite
Chapelle, eft d'y baptifer les enfans malades que les
Infideles m'aportent eux mefmes, pour obtenir de
moy quelque medecine ; & parceque ie vols que Dieu
rend la fant6 ^ ces petits innocens apr6s leur bap-
tefme, c'eft ce qui me fait efperer qu'il en veut faire
comme le fondement de fon Eglife en ces quartiers.

I'ay 6tendu dans la Chapelle diuerfes Images,
comme de I'Enfer & du lugement general, qui me
fourniHent des matieres d'inftrudtions bien propor-
tionn^es k mes Auditeurs; aulfi n'ais-ie pas peine
[66] enfuitte ^ les rendre attentifs, k les faire chanter
le Pater & VAue en leur langue, & k les conduire
dans les prieres que ie leur fais faire, apres chaque
inftruc5tion: ce qui attire vn fi grand nombre de
Sauuages, que depuis le matin iufqu'au foir, ie me
vols heureufement contraint k ne faire autre chofe.

Dieu donne benedidtion k ces commencemens ; car
les debauches de la ieuneffe ne font plus 11 frequentes,
& les filles qui auparauant ne rougiffoient point des
plus infames adtions, fe tiennent dans la referue, &
conferuent la pudeur fi propre k leur fexe.

Ten f9ay plufieurs qui aux follicitations qu'on leur
fait, refpondent hardiment qu'elles prient Dieu, &
que la Robe-noire leur deffend ces debauches.

[67] Vne petite fille de dix ou douze ans, me venant
vn iour demander ^ prier Dieu, ie luy dis ; ma petite
foeur, vous ne le merit6s pas, vous fgau^s bien ce
qu'on difoit de vous il y a quelques mois ; il eft vray,



1664 - 67] RELA TION OF 1666 - 67 299

it is [65] 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 after 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 [66] 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 con-
strained 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.

[67] " 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



300 LES RELATIONS DES j£SUITES [Vol.50

me dit-elle, que ie n'eflois pas fage en ce temps la,
& que ie ne f 9auois pas que cela fufl mal fait : mais
depuis que i'ay pri6, & que vous nous au6s appris que
cela eftoit mauuais, ie ne I'ay plus fait.

Les premiers iours de I'annee 1666. furent employ-
ees k prefenter des eftrennes bien agreables au petit
lefus; C'eftoient plufieurs enfans, que les meres
m'aportoient par vne infpiration de Dieu toute extra-
ordinaire, afin de les baptifer. Ainfi fe formoit petit
k petit cette Eglife, & la voyant defia imbue de nos
myfteres, ie iugeay qu'il eftoit [68] temps de tranf-
porter noftre petite Chapelle, au milieu du grand
Bourg 61oigne de noftre demeure, de trois quarts de
lieue, & compofe de quarante cinq k cinquante grandes
cabanes, de toutes nations, ou il y a bien deux mille
ames.

C'efloit iuflement au temps de leurs grandes de-
bauches, & ie pens dire en general, que i'ay veu
dans cette Babylone, Ie parfait tableau du libertinage.
Ie ne laiflois pas d'y auoir la mefme occupation que
dans noftre premiere demeure, & auec Ie mefme
fuccez. Mais Ie Malin efprit enuieux du bien que la
grace de Dieu y operoit, fit faire tons les iours des
longleries diaboliques tout proche de noftre Chapelle,
pour la guerifon d'vne femme malade: ce n'efloient
que dances fuperflitieufes, que mafcarades [69]
hideufes, que clameurs horribles, & mille fortes de
fingeries. Ie ne laiffois pas de Taller voir tons les
iours, & pour I'attirer auec douceur, ie luy faifois
pref ent de quelques raifms. Enfin les f orders ayants
declar6 que fon ame eftoit partie, & qu'il n'en efpe-
roient plus rien, ie I'allay voir Ie lendemain, & luy
dis que cela n' eftoit pas vray, & que mefme fi elle



1664-67] RELATION OF j666- 67 301

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 i666 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 [68] 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, [69] 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 mor-
row, and assured her that this was false ; and that I



302 LES RELATIONS DES /^SUITES fVoi.. 50

vouloit croire en I. Chrift, i'efperois qu'elle en rele-
ueroit : Mais ie ne pus rien gagner fur f on ef prit ; ce
qui me fit refoudre de m'adreffer au f order mefme
qui la panfoit : II fut fi furpris de me voir chez luy,
qu'il en parut tout interdit: Ie luy fis voir les fottifes
de fon art, & qu'il contribuoit pluftoi?t h. la mort, qu'a
la vie de fes malades : Pour refponce, il me menaga
de m'en faire fentir les effets par vne mort indubi-
table, [70] & pen apr^s s'eftant mis h. iongler pendant
I'efpace de trois heures, il crioit de temps en temps
au fort de fes ceremonies, que la robe-noire en mour-
roit : mais tout fut inutile par la grace de Dieu, qui
fgeut mefme tirer Ie bien du mal ; car luy mefme
m' ay ant enuoy6 deux de fes enfans malades pour les
baptifer, ils receurent en mefme temps, par Ie moyen
de ces eaux faeries, la guerifon de I'ame & du corps.

Le lendemain ie vifitay vn autre celebre forcier,
homme qui a fix femmes, & qui vit dans le defordre
qu'on pent s'imaginer d'vne telle compagnie. Ie
trouuay dans fa cabanne vne petite armee d'enfans:
ie voulus m'y acquiter de mon miniftere; mais en
vain: Et c'eft la premiere fois qu'en ces quartiers
[7i]i'ay veu le Chriflianifme bafou6, fur tout en ce
qui concerne la refurredtion des morts, & le feu
d'enfer: I'en fortis auec cette penf^e, Ibant Apojioli
gaudentes a confpe£lu concilij; quoniam digni habit i funt
pro nomine lefii contumeliani pati.

Les infultes qu'on me fit en cette cabanne, eclate-
rent bien toft au dehors, & donnerent fujet aux autres
de me traitter auec les mefmes infolences. Defia
Ton auoit rompu vne partie des efcorces, c'elt ^ dire
des murailles de noftre Eglife; defia I'on auoit com-
mence k me derober tout ce que i'auois; la ieuneUe



1664 - 67] RELA TION OF 1666-67 303

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 ; [70] 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 dis-
orderly life that can be imagined from such a com-
pany. 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 [71] I saw
Christianity scoffed at, especially in matters concern-
ing the resurrection of the dead and the fires of hell.
I came out with this thought : Ibant Apostoli gaudentes
h conspectu concilii, quoniam digtii habiti sunt pro nomine
Jesu contumelimn 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 brok-


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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 17 of 19)