ePub 版


[ocr errors]


recently arrived from France. They were hospitably welcomed at Onondaga, the principal village of the tribe. A general convention was held, by their desire; and, before the multitudinous assembly of the chiefs and the whole people, gathered under the open sky, among the primeval forests, the presents were delivered ; and the Italian Jesuit, with much gesture, after the Italian manner, discoursed so eloquently to the crowd, that it seemed to Dablon as if the word of God had been preached to all the nations of that land. On the next day, the chiefs and others crowded round the Jesuits, with their songs of welcome. Happy land!” they sang;

happy land! in which the French are to dweli ;” and the chief led the chorus, “ Glad tidings! glad tidings! it is well that we have spoken together; it is well that we have a heavenly message. At once, a chapel sprung into existence, and by the zeal of the natives, was finished in a day. For marbles and precious metals," writes Dablon, "we employed only bark; but the path to heaven is as open through a roof of bark as through arched ceilings of silver and gold.” The savages showed themselves susceptible of the excitements of religious ecstasy ; and there, in the heart of New York, the solemn services of the Roman church were chanted as securely as in any part of Christendom. The charter of the hundred associates included the basin of every tributary of the St. Lawrence. The Onondagas dwelt exclusively on the Oswego and its tributary waters: their land was, therefore, a part of the empire of France. The cross and the lily, emblems of France and Christianity, were now known in the basin of the Oswego.

The success of the mission encouraged Dablon to invite a French colony into the land of the Onondagas ; and, though the attempt excited the jealousy of the Mohawks, whose war-chiefs, in their hunt after Huron fugitives, still roamed even to the Isle of Orleans, a company of

fifty Frenchmen embarked for Onondaga. Diffuse

harangues, dances, songs, and feastings, were their welcome from the Indians. In a general convocation of the tribe, the question of adopting Christianity as its religion was debated ; and sanguine hope already included the land of the Onondagas as a part of Christendom. The chapel, too small for the throng of worshippers that assembled to the sound of its little bell, was enlarged.



3 F


The Cayugas also desired a missionary, and they received the fearless René Mesnard. In their village, a chapel

was erected, with mats for the tapestry; and there 1657. the pictures of the Saviour and of the Virgin mother were unfolded to the admiring children of the wilderness. The Oneidas also listened to the missionary; and, early in 1657, Chaumonot reached the more fertile and more densely-peopled land of the Senecas. The influence of France was planted in the beautiful valleys of Western New York. The Jesuit priests published their faith from the Mohawk to the Genesee, Onondaga remaining the central station.

But the savage nature of the tribes was unchanged. At this very time, a ruthless war of extermination was waged against the nation of Erie, and in the north of Ohio. . The crowded hamlet became a scene of carnage. Prisoners, too, were brought home to the villages, and delivered to the flames ;—and what could the Jesuits expect of nations who could burn even children with refiñements of tortures ? Our lives," said Mesnard, “are not safe.” In Quebec, and in France, men trembled for the missionaries. They pressed upon the steps of their countrymen, who had been boiled and roasted; they made their home among cannibals ; hunger, thirst, nakedness, were to be encountered ; nature itself offered trials; and the first colony of the French, making its home near the Lake of Onondaga, and encountering the forest with the axe, suf. fered from fever before they could prepare their tenements. Border collisions also continued. The Oneidas murdered three Frenchmen, and the French retaliated by seizing Iroquois. At last, when a conspiracy was framed in the

tribe of the Onondagas, the French, having vainly

solicited reinforcements, abandoned their chapel, their cabins, and their hearths, and the valley of the Oswego. 1658,

The Mohawks compelled Le Moyne to return; and 1659. the French and the Five Nations were once more at

Such was the issue of the most successful attempt at French colonization in New York. The Dutch of New Amsterdam were to give way to the English ; and the union of the English colonies was a guarantee that France could never regain the mastery.

Meantime, the Jesuits reached our country in the far west. In August, 1654, two young fur-traders, smitten with the love of adventure, joined a band of the Ottawas,




[ocr errors]



or other Algonquins, and, in their little gondolas of bark,

ventured on a voyage of five hundred leagues. After

two years, they re-appeared, accompanied by a fleet of fifty canoes, urged forward by five hundred arms. The natives ascend the cliff of St. Louis, welcomed by a salute from the ordnance of the castle. They describe the vast lakes of the west, and the numerous tribes that hover round them ; they speak of the Knisteneaux, whose homes stretched away to the Northern Sea ; of the powerful Sioux, who dwelt beyond Lake Superior; and they demand commerce with the French, and missionaries for the boundless west.

The request was eagerly granted ; and Gabriel

Dreuillettes, the same who carried the cross through the forests of Maine, and Leonard Gareau, of old a mis. sionary among the Hurons, were selected as the first religious envoys to a land of sacrifices, shadows, and deaths. The canoes are launched; the tawny mariners embark ; the oars flash, and sounds of joy and triumph mingle with the last adieus. But, just below Montreal, a band of Mohawks, enemies to the Ottawas, awaited the convoy; in the affray, Gareau was mortally wounded, and the fleet dispersed.

The remote nations, by the necessity of the case, still sought alliance with the French. The Mohawks, and their confederates, receiving European arms from Albany, exterminated the Eries, and approached the Miamis and the Illinois. The western Indians desired commerce with the French, that they might gain means to resist the Iroquois ; and, as furs were abundant there, the traders pressed

forward to Green Bay. Two of them dared to pass 1659. the winter of 1659 on the banks of Lake Superior, Enriched with knowledge of the western world, in the summer of 1660, they came down to Quebec, with an escort of sixty canoes, rowed by three hundred Algonquins, and laden with peltry.

If the Five Nations can penetrate these remote regions, to satiate their passion for blood; if mercantile enterprise can bring furs from the plains of the Sioux ;-why cannot

the cross be borne to their cabins, and the name of

the king of France be pronounced in their councils ? The zeal of Francis de Laval, the bishop of Quebec, kindled with a desire himself to enter on the mission; but the lot fell to René Mesnard. He was charged to visit



Green Bay and Lake Superior, and, on a convenient inlet, to establish a residence as the common place of assembly for the surrounding nations. His departure was immediate, and with few preparations ; for he trusted—such are his words—"in the Providence which feeds the little birds of the desert, and clothes the wild flowers of the forests.” Every personal moti seem to retain him at Quebec; but "powerful instincts" impelled him to the enterprise. Obedient to his vows, the aged man entered on the path that was red with the blood of his predecessors, and made haste to scatter the seeds of truth through the wilderness, even though the sower cast his seed in weeping. In three or four months,” he wrote to a friend, "you may add me to the memento of deaths.” In October, he reached the bay which he called St. Theresa, and which may have been the Bay of Keweena, on the south shore of Lake Superior. After a residence of eight months, he yielded to the invitation of the Hurons, who had taken refuge

in the Isle of St. Michael ; and, bidding farewell to

his neophytes and the French, and to those whom he never more should meet on earth, he departed, with one attendant, for the Bay of Che-goi-me-gon. The accounts would indicate that he took the route by way of Keweena Lake and Portage. There, while his attendant was em. ployed in the labour of transporting the canoe, Mesnard was lost in the forest, and was never again seen. Long afterwards, his cassock and his breviary were kept as amulets among

the Sioux. 1660.

Meantime, the colony of New France was too

feeble to defend itself against the dangerous fickleness and increasing confidence of the Iroquois : the very harvest could not be gathered in safety; the convents were insecure ; many prepared to return to France; in moments of gloom, it seemed as if all must be abandoned.

True, religious zeal was still active. Le Moyne once

more appeared among the Five Nations, and was received with affection at Onondaga. The deputies of the Senecas, the Cayugas, and the Onondagas, assembled to the sound of the bell that had belonged to the chapel of the Jesuits; and the resolve of the council was peace. 1662.

But he could influence only the upper nations. The

Mohawks would not be appeased; Montreal was not safe,-o

-one ecclesiastic was killed near its gates; a




new organization of the colony was needed, or it would come to an end.

The company of the hundred associates resolved,

therefore, to resign the colony to the king; and immediately, under the auspices of Colbert, it was conceded to the new company of the West Indies.

A powerful appeal was made, in favour of Canada, to the king; the company of Jesuits publicly invited him to assume its defence, and become their champion against the Iroquois. After various efforts at fit appointments, the

year 1665 saw the colony of New France protected by a royal regiment, with the aged but indefatigable Tracy as viceroy ;

with Courcelles, a veteran soldier, as governor; and with Talon, a man of business and of integrity, as intendant and representative of the king in civil affairs. Every omen was favourable, save the conquest of New Netherlands by the English. That conquest eventually made the Five Nations a dependence on the English world ; and if, for twenty-five years, England and France sued for their friendship, with uncertain success, yet, afterwards, in the grand division between parties, throughout the world, the Bourbons found in them implacable opponents. How wonderful are the decrees of Providence !

The Europeans, in their struggle against legitimacy and for freedom, having come all the way into the wilderness, pursued the contest even there, making of the Iroquois allies, and of their hunting-fields battle-grounds.

With better hopes,-undismayed by the sad fate of Gareau and Mesnard,-indifferent to hunger, nakedness, and cold, to the wreck of the ships of bark, and to fatigues and weariness, by night and by day,-in August,

1665, Father Claude Alloüez embarked on a mission,

by way of the Ottawa, to the far west. Early in September, he reached the rapids, through which the waters of the upper lakes rush to the Huron, and admired the beautiful river, with its woody isles and inviting bays. On the second of that month, he entered the lake which the savages reverenced as a divinity, and of which the entrance presents a spectacle of magnificence rarely excelled in the rugged scenery of the north. He passed the lofty ridge of naked sand, which stretches along the shore its stupendous piles of drifting barrenness ; he sailed by the cliffs of pictured sandstone, which, for twelve miles, rise three hundred feet in height, fretted by the violence


« 上一頁繼續 »