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interest in view, the chief concern of the nephew was the spiritual welfare of those heathen nations who resided within his newly purchased viceroyalty. “ The Duke," says Charlevoix, “ had retired from the court, and had even entered into holy orders. It was not for the purpose of returning to the bustle and business of the world, but to procure the conversion of the savages, that he took upon himself the charge of the affairs of New France; and, as the Jesuits had the direction of his conscience, he cast his eyes upon them for the execution of his project. He submitted the proposal to the council of the king, and his majesty the more willingly assented to it, because the Recollet Fathers, so far from objecting to the measure, had themselves first recommended it to the duke.”
Thus commenced those celebrated missions into the wilds of Canada, which were principally directed by the society of the Jesuits—that powerful association, whose labours and perseverance were so conspicuous, in whatever quarter of the globe they endeavoured to extend their temporal influence, or to convert the heathen to Christianity. They continued, year after year, to send their missionaries into the savage regions of North America, in order to promote the great work in which they were engaged. The labour and constancy with
Charlevoix, Histoire de la Nouvelle France, liv. iv.
which these men pursued their projects have never been surpassed. In Canada, the French missionary entered upon his task with the fervour of a zealot, and often closed it by suffering the fate of a martyr. But, after all, what was the result? Did the missionaries of New France, after a hundred and fifty years of zeal and exertion, leave behind them a single Indian tribe whom they had actually converted to Christianity? In the interior at least where there were at one time about twenty missions of the Jesuits--there is little, if any, trace of such conversion. It is said, indeed, that silver crucifixes are still to be found hanging at the necks of distant Indians; and so would any thing else which their ancestors had received, and handed down to them as 'ornamental trinkets. In Father Hennepin's day, he lamented that “if one gives them some holy image, or crucifix, or beads, they will merely use them as ornaments to adorn their persons. With the exception of a few straggling villages of Praying Indians, as they were called t, and which
* Voyages du R. Père Hennepin, ii. ch. 32.
+ “The French priests," says Dr. Colden,“ had from time to time persuaded several of the Five Nations to leave their own country, and to settle near Montreal, where the French are very industrious in encouraging them. Their numbers have been likewise increased by the prisoners the French have taken in war; and 'by others that have run from their own country, because of some mischief that they
were chiefly established upon the St. Lawrence, near Quebec and Montreal-what remains to mark the labours of the missionary in New France ? The annals of that period, indeed, display every where to our view his exertions and sufferings; but we look in vain for any dawning of moral improvement, or the slightest trace of benefit obtained among those remote and uncivilized nations to which the missions extended. Throughout the barbarous history little is to be discerned but war, treachery, bloodshed, and extermination. As far as the improvement of the Indian race was concerned, the labour was thrown away; and it is to be lamented that no experience proved sufficient to convince the government of France that the mode adopted with respect to the civilization of that people was not calculated to effect the object which was expected.
Monsieur de Champlain, the founder of Quebec, who had been deputed to command in New France, as lieutenant to the viceroy, first carried over with him (on his return to America in the year 1615) several Fathers of the Recollet or Franciscan order. One of these, Père le Caron, accompanied him that year to the country of the Hurons, but he shortly after returned to France, with the Superior of the mission to which he belonged ; leaving, however, another Father of that order in Canada. When the Duc de Ventadour was appointed viceroy, he continued Monsieur de Champlain in his situation of lieutenant. At this time Quebec, although fourteen years, had elapsed since it had begun to be settled, could only boast a population of fifty persons, including men, women, and children ;* so true is it, as observed by Lord Bacon, that, Planting of countries is like planting of woods ; for you must make account to lose almost twenty years' profit, and expect your recompense in the end.”
had done, or debts they owed the Christians. These Indians are all professed papists, and for that reason are commonly called the Praying Indians by their countrymen; and they are called Cahanagas by the people of Albany, from the place where they live. The French value them on account of the intelligence they give in time of war, and their know. ledge of the countries." - Colden's History of the Five Nations of Canada, part i, ch. 3.
In the years 1625 and 1626, the society of the Jesuits in France sent out eight missionaries to Canada. These, as well as several of the Recollets, laboured for a considerable period to convert the Indians in the more immediate neighbourhood of Quebec and Montreal; but no regular mission was sent into the interior until the year 1634. In the mean while matters proceeded
unfavourably in Canada; and the unpromising state of
* Charlevoix, Hist. de la Nouvelle France, liv.vi.
that colony having been represented to the crown, it was determined to alter the system under which the charge of it had been hitherto conducted. The old mercantile company was abolished, and a new and powerful association established; at the head of which was placed the Cardinal de Richelieu. To this body the whole care of the commerce of Canada was delegated. The Duc de Ventadour resigned his viceroyalty into the hands of the crown, and M. de Champlain was appointed governor of New France. Canada having been taken possession of by the English in 1629, Champlain returned to Europe; but after its restoration in 1632, he again resumed in person the administration of that government. On his return to North America, he took with himn some more of the Jesuit missionaries. The Recollet missions seem about this time to have been suspended, and were not restored to their functions for thirty years. An express prohibition, under the severest penalties, was likewise put to all emigration of protestants to New France.
The three Jesuit missionaries, Pères Brebeuf, Daniel, and Davost, proceeded to the interior country of the Hurons, in the year 1634; and after undergoing the greatest hardships and perils in their route, arrived at the remote station where they proposed to commence the regular duties of their mission. Exclusive of the various hardships