Imágenes de páginas

animal. They have besides heavy clubs, or sharp sticks, instead of swords or halberds. They use also wooden corslets against arrows, and make bucklers with several skins stiched together.

Most of them go stark naked, and are so inured to rain, and other hardships, that their bodies are almost insensible; and the soles of their feet so hard, as to resist the sharpness of thorns and stones. Their women have still preserved a shadow of modesty, for they wear commonly about their waste a large girdle, from which hang two pieces of skin, which cover in some manner their nakedness. I speak of those savages who inhabit a temperate climate, for those who live to the northward of Quebec, and other cold countries, cover themselves with skins of bears, stags, ellends, and the like. I must observe also, that those who inhabit toward Mexico, seem more civilized than others; for tho’ their climate is pretty hot, they cover themselves with mats finely wrought.

The care of the family lies equally upon the husband and the wife: the former goes a fishing or hunting for the family; and the wife tills the ground, and gets in what she has sowd. It is likewise her duty to fetch fruit, herbs, and other things in the woods. When the

When the savage is come back from hunting, he takes first of all his pipe, and as he smoaks, tells his wife what he has done, and what he would have her to do, which she must obey without any reluctancy.

One may observe in men a great gravity and authority, and in women an extraordinary complaisance for their husbands, and as they follow their natural instinct in every thing they do, their behaviour is always sincere and without any affectation; and one may truly say, that the conjugal union between them, is the effect of annt- luirera clination, which is common to men and to brutes, and not founded upon a true friendship.

The savages being perpetually in action, they are free from several diseases that the Europeans are subject to, and 'tis observable, that these women have not that natural incommodity that ours are liable unto, and that, which is still more to be wonder'd at, they bring forth without any pain, or at least without any ceremony as they go along, making no other provision for it, than their own girdle, and some skins to wrap up the child into.

They have a very extraordinary way to bring up their children, for though they have no clouts or swath-bands, they have found a way to keep them very clean without any great trouble. They provide themselves with a good quantity of dust of rotten wood, which is as soft as any doun whatsoever, and is very good to preserve them against humidity. They lay their children upon that dust and wrap them into some good furs, and tie them pretty fast, and have nothing to do for dressing them, but to change that dust, by means whereof they keep them always clean, till they are able to walk about.

They feed them with pap, made with Indian corn, and give them a bow as soon as they can walk: so that they use themselves to shoot, and follow their parents into the woods, learning thereby betimes the usual places for hunting: and having no manner of education, they are only guided by their natural inclination and sensuality, as beasts.

I should never make an end, should I undertake to give a particular account of all the customs of the savages; but I think that what I have said is sufficient to convince the reader, that their intelligence extends only to what is necessary for supporting their natural life; and that if they have any law amongst them, it is to observe none at all,


Born and bred up in forests, hunting is their greatest pastime, to which I may add war, quarrels, and cruelty, which is such, that they must turn their arms against harmless beasts, when they want pretences or opportunities to use them against men.

It was through those wild nations that M. La Salle undertook to travel, and discover a way to the gulph of Mexico; and whosoever will impartially consider that enterprize, must agree, that this courageous design can hardly be parallel'd. But this will appear the better, if they consider what preparations he made for that great journey. He had only thirty men, as I have already said, without any other provisions, but powder and shot, which were to supply him during his voyage. We had first of all a bark, and some canoos, but we were soon deprived of that help, and forc'd to travel by land, and carry our equipage, crossing large rivers upon rafts, or trees, having no other guide through those vast unknown countries but a compass, and the genius of our commander, who (according to the variation of the needle, and the knowledge he had in astronomy) was able to guess at the climate we were in, and what course we were to follow.

These difficulties, the armies of savages, which we were obliged to fight to force our way, bunger, thirst, and other wants and perils, were however surmounted by our courage and constancy, so that we arrived at the gulph of Mexico, and after several misfortunes returned home. But before I ceed any further, I think fit to give an account of the four lakes I have already mentioned.

The first lies above the 47 degree of latitude, and is called Vpper Lake, or of Frontenac, and may be 80 leagues broad, and 300 in circuit. It has communication with the lake Herie, or of Conti, by a canal of above 20 leagues long, interrupted by a fall of 600 foot high, known under the name of


Fall of Niagara. This lake of Conti joins with another called The Lake of the Hurons, or of Ora leans, by a canal or stream which is very rapid, and this last lake has communication to the south with a fourth, called, The Lake of the Illinois, or of the Dauphin : It joins also by the north side with another lake, larger than any of the rest, called, The Lake of Conde ; but we did not see it.

Having refreshed our selves about a fortnight at fort Frontenac, we embarqued on the 18th of November, 1678, on board a vessel of forty tunns, to cross the first lake I have mentioned, and this was the first ship that ever sail'd upon this fresh water sea. The wind being very contrary, we spent a whole month before we could arrive at a village called St. Onnontuane, where M. La Salle sent some canoos to fetch Indian corn for our subsistence; and from thence we continued our course towards Niagara, but the stream being too rapid, and the wind contrary, we were obliged to cast an anchor about nine leagues from that place, whither we went by land. Niagara is a village of the Iroquois, situated upon the lake of Conti, near the won- . derful fall I have taken notice of.

This nation, the most warlike and cruel of all the Americans, is possessed of a tract of land from Montreal, or rather from the place where the two rivers, which form that of St. Laurence, meet, to the further end of the lake of Conti, which is about two hundred leagues to the south. This nation is very ambitious to command their neighbours; and when they hear of any other nation which grows powerful, either by the number of their fighting men, or by the extent of their possessions, they march to subdue them, and they make sometimes excursions three or four hundred leagues. They are indefatigable, undaunted in the greatest dan ger; and of such a fierce courage and constancy,


as to be proof against the most exquisite torments, when taken by their enemies, rather than betray the designs of their country-men: they never ask, and seldom give quarter. They drink the blood of their enemies, and add to their great cruelty, all the stratagems, subtility and precaution, that one might expect from experienc'd soldiers.

This nation, tho' fierce and cruel, as I have represented them, receiv'd us very kindly. We laid one night in their village, and went the next day to view a proper place, above three leagues higher, to build a fort, and having found an advantageous situation, M. De la Salle laid the foundation of it, and ordered his men to work upon it with all imaginable diligence; but the Iroquois taking some jealousie at it ; it was thought fit to desist, to avoid giving offence to so dangerous an enemy; and therefore we contented our selves to fortifie our magazine with strong palisadoes.

Ñ. La Salle had given orders for building a new ship or great bark, and our men workt about it with all the diligence that the season of the year could permit; but the cold was so excessive, that not only rivers, hut even those vast lakes were frozen all over, insomuch that they look'd like a plain pav'd with fine polish'd marble. We traded in the mean time with the natives, and got a great number of furs; but several things being wanting to continue our voyage, this couragious gentleman resolved to return by land to fort Frontenac, and come back again in the spring with a new supply of ammunition and merchandise, to trade with the nations he intended to visit. He sent likewise fifteen men further into the country, with orders to endeavour to find out the Illinois, and left his fort of Niagara, and fifteen men under my command. One of the Recollects continued with us.

« AnteriorContinuar »