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object of his veneration; he was specially careful to take it with him to war and to hunt, that it might be a source of his protection and safety.
Their attachment to the indulgences permitted by their education, was, in general, a serious obstacle to their embracing Christianity. The missionaries found in their tribes, as amongst civilized men, that human nature was every where the same; that men frequently evaded the search after truth, or disregarded it when discovered, whensoever its profession was likely to require the sacrifice of passion or of convenience upon the altar of duty. Writing of the Illinois, the following is an extract from the letter of Father Rasles.
“That which we understand by the word Christianity, is known to the savages only by the name Prayer. Thus, when in the course of this letter, I might inform you that any savage nation has embraced prayer, the meaning will be that it either has become Christian, or is disposed to become so. There would be far less trouble in the conversion of the Illinois, if prayer would permit them to retain polygainy: they acknowledge that prayer is good, and they are delighted that their wives and children should be taught, but when they are spoken to for. their own concerns upon the subject, one immediately finds how hard it is to fix their natural unsteadiness, and bring them to resolve upon each having but one wife, and to have her forever."
It is not our business nor our disposition to preach, but we may be permitted to remark, that if Father Rasles now lived, he might find that what he witnessed among the aboriginal Illinois, was not peculiar to the savage nor to the Pagan.
As our object in this review is rather to collect facts than to write a dissertation, and by this collection to add to our store from the gatherings of foreigners, as well as to excite our fellow-citizens to a more laborious and systematic research into the antiquities of our country, we shall prefer putting together a number of passages from the letters, to entering into speculations as to what might have occurred. Indeed, we humbly believe, that what are called philosophical historians, have of late years done much mischief by giving their own conjectures, instead of the record of facts. A passage which is just under our eye, confirms us in this notion, whilst it fully explains our mind.
The sixth volume contains a letter from the chaplain of the Abnakis, warriors who formed part of the army which attacked Fort George; and of the surrender of which and the calamitous scene that followed, Mr. Cooper has given so striking a description in his novel of the “ Last of the Mohicans." We must
acknowledge that we prefer the chaplain's recital, and suspect that the novelist also has read the narrative which lies be
The Indian canoes had come to, under cover of a point of land, hy doubling which they would have been fully in view of the fort, to the attack of which they were advancing with considerable precaution: here they were to remain for the night; the chaplains of three Indian divisions were in one canoe. Our informant writes
6 About eleven o'clock, two barges from the fort made their appearance upon the lake. They sailed with such apparently calm consciousness of safety, that they were approaching to where we lay. One of my neighbours who watched for the general safety, observed them at a considerable distance. The news was communicated to all the savages,
and the preparations for receiving them were made with admirable promptness and silence. I was immediately summoned to provide for my safety by going ashore and keeping in the wood. It was not from an exhibition of bravery, unbecoming a man of my state, that I turned a deaf ear to the advice which was so generously offered; but I could not believe it was seriously given, since I thought I had excellent reasons to suspect the truth of the news. Four hundred boats and canoes, which, during two days had covered the waters of the lake of the holy sacrament, must have formed too considerable an exhibition to escape the ato tentive and clear eyes of an enemy. Upon this principle, I could scarcely persuade myself that two barges would have the rashness, I will not say to enter in combat with, but to present themselves before such a superior force; I was philosophizing where I had only to open my eyes.”
We suspect that there is great injury done to the cause of truth by too much philosophism, and too little viewing of fact; and, therefore, we here shall content ourselves chiefly with gleaning matter, upon which our readers can reason as well as
In the pursuit of these barges and their capture, one Indian was killed, and another wounded. The chaplain gives us the following account of the interment of the former.
“Scarcely did dawn commence, before a party of the Nipistinguian nation proceeded to the ceremonial obsequies of their brother slain in the action of the preceding night, and deceased in the errors of Paganism. These obsequies were celebrated with all the pomp and shew of the savages. The body having been decked in all its ornaments, or rather overloaded with all the attire which the most original vanity could bring to bear under circumstances of the most melancholy nature. Collars of porcelain, bracelets of silver, decorations and pendants of the ears and nose, and splendid dresses, all had been most prodigally VOL. II.NO. 4.
heaped on; the aid of paint, especially vermillion, had been so given, that the paleness of death might, disappear under the effect of these showy colours, and the countenance have the appearance of that life, which it did not possess. None of the decorations of the Indian soldier were forgotten : a neck-piece, tied with a fire coloured ribbon, bung carelessly on his breast; his rifle lay on bis arm, the tomahawk at his girdle, his calumet in his mouth, a spear in his hand, and a full kettle at his side : in this warlike posture, he was placed sitting on an eminence covered with turf, which formed his bed of state. ranged around the body in a circle, preserved for some time a mournful silence, which had all the appearance of grief. This was broken by the orator who pronounced the funeral oration; then followed songs and dances, accompanied with the music of the tabor and bells. In all this, there was something of an indescribable lugubrity which was well adapted to a melancholy ceremonial. The whole ended by the burial of the dead, after which care was taken to bury also a good quantity of provisions, doubtless, to guard against the possibility of his dying a second time by hunger. I do not relate this as an eye-witness; the presence of a missionary would badly comport with ceremonies of this sort, dictated by superstition, and adopted by stupid credulity. I have my information from those who saw it."
We are sorry that the chaplain should have attempted a witticism instead of making an inquiry; and it would be interesting to us to learn the object of this interment of the provisions. We suspect the reverend gentleman did speculate against fact on more occasions than where English barges were in question. To play off wit or its semblance against a religious rite can never lead to information, but to inquire of those who are qualified to explain, might conduct to useful knowledge. The missionary would have done no harm by his attending to observe, and might have aided our investigation into the nature of the Indian religion, by having asked a few questions. But though we cannot approve of his speculation, we must applaud his candor; and we are always gratified by having the distinction drawn by the witness himself between his conjecture and his knowledge.
Father Gabriel Marest, of whom we made previous mention as chaplain to Iberville's expedition, was a Jesuit Missionary, subsequently stationed at Cascaskias, a village of the Illinois tribe, and named as the station of the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin. A letter written by him to Father Gernon, of the same society, on the 9th of November, 1712, describes with great accuracy, the site and course of the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Illinois, and the Wabash rivers, as also the productions of the land, and much of the natural history: he next gives the character of the inhabitants, and proceeds
" It would be hard to say what is the religion of our savages; it consists only in some superstitions by which their credulity is amused. As all their knowledge is confined to that of beasts, and the wants of life, so too is their worship bounded by these objects. Some charlatans who have a little more mind than the rest, procure their respect by their capacity for deceiving them. They persuade them to honor a sort of genius to which they give the name of Manitou ; and, acccording to them, it is this genius which governs all things, and which is the master of life and death. A bird, an ox, a bear, or rather the plumage of birds, or the skin of a beast, is their Manitou ; they exhibit it in their huts, and they offer to it sacrifices of dogs or of other animals.
“ The warriors carry their Manitous in mats, and they perpetually invoke them to obtain victory over their enemies; the charlatans have likewise recourse to their Manitous, when they compound their medicine, or that they may heal their patients. They accompany their invocations with chaunts, dances, and frightful contortions, to create the belief that they are agitated by their Manitous ; and they at the same time so shake the patient as frequently to cause his death. In those various contortious, the charlatan names sometimes one beast, sometimes another; then proceeds to suck that part of the patient's body in which he feels most pain ; after having sucked for some time, he runs on a sudden and casts out the tooth of a bear or of some other animal, which he had concealed in his inouth. “My dear friend,' he cries, ' you have life, behold what was killing you.' After which, applauding himself, he cries out, “Who can resist my Manitou ? Is he not the master of life and death? Should the patient die, some pretext is ready to cast the blame of death upon some other cause which occurred after his departure from the patient; but if the sick person recovers, then the juggler is held in esteem, is himself considered as a Manitou, and after having been well paid for his trouble, the best things in the village are brought to regale him."
Another passage in the letter exhibits to us the grounds upon which we are fully warranted in calling their worship idolatrous. Idolatry is the giving to any created being the worship of adoration, which is due to God alone. The person who acknowledged the existence of only one God, and paid to him adoration under any name by which he might be designated, would not be an idolater, because the object of his adoration was the supreme and only God. The person who believed the divinity to reside in a statue or image, and therefore made that statue or image the object of his adoration, would be an idolater: but if he viewed that image as it really was, not divine, nor partaking of the divinity, nor having any inherent sanctity, but a mere memorial by which his attention was awakened, his imagination fixed, and his religious feeling excited, and that in its presence he adored the eternal and spiritual God, and him alone, clearly he was not an idolater, for though by occasion of the creature he was brought
to the adoration of the creator, he adored God, and him alone. Thus he who, filled with the piety which nature excites, raises himself from the contemplation of a flower, or the consideration of the solar system, to the adoration of Him who gave to the one its delicate tints, and to the other its admirable order and wondrous harmony, is not the adorer of nature, but of nature's God. He who pays the homage of adoration to created beings, however intelligent and superior they may be, whether they be holy or wicked, gives to the creature that which is due to the creator alone, and is thus an idolater : thus, the worshippers of Mars, of Juno, of Ceres, and the other deities of Greece and Rome, gave to created beings the homage of adoration, and were idolaters; and though they should never have represented by statues or painting, those objects of their homage, the crime would have been fully committed; the adoration of those demons by occasion and in presence of the image, was still the ündue worship of creatures, and they who were so far besotted as to adore the statue itself, were, if possible, more criminal. The adhering to this idolatry so far as to withdraw its votaries from the adoration of the only and true God, would have been the consummation of this apostacy, and such was the state of the Indians of whom we treat. The Manitou is not considered as an intercessor with God, as a fellow-worshipper with man of the Deity, but is the object of adoration, the lord of life and of death. Father Marest informs us
“ The French having established a fort on the river Wabash, demanded a missionary, and Father Mermet was sent to them. This father thought it to be his duty to labour also for the conversion of the Mascoutens, who had constructed a village on the bank of the same river. This nation understands the Illinois language, but was so devoted to the superstitions of its jugglers, as to have no disposition to hear the instructions of the missionary.
“ Father Mermet resolved to confound in their presence one of the charlatans who used to adore the ox as his Manitou. Having insensibly brought him to acknowledge that the ox itself was not the object of his adoration, but a Manitou of the ox which was under ground, and which animated all oxen, and gave life to the sick ; the father asked him whether other beasts, such for instance as the bear, which some of his brethren used to adore, were not likewise animated by Manitous which were under ground. “Doubtless,' replied the juggler. But if so,' said the missionary, 'men also ought to have their Manitou by which they are animated. · Nothing more certain,' said the juggler. 'I want no more,' replied the missionary, 'to shew you how unreasonable is your conduct; for if man who is upon the earth, is the master of all animals; if he slays them, if he eats them, the Manitou that animates man must be the master of all other Manitous. Where then is your sense not to