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grapple with each other for the supremacy. Their claims were conflicting, and quite sufficient for the great lawsuit in which the highest court, a resort to arms, was appealed to,-a lawsuit that lasted for many years.
Each nation had its rights and grievances; each had its good and great men, and while Elmer Stevens and his family live in Virginia without any knowledge of the brother George, save that he probably perished in the great north woods, let us take a glance at the French in the north and west, who were stamping their impress on the country and natives.
There can be no doubt that the French in America, through the influence of the Jesuits, easily persuaded the Indians to become the friends of the Frenchmen in peace and their allies in war. The seeds of French dominion in America were planted by Champlain at Quebec, who selected for his companions and spiritual advisers some of the mild and benevolent priests of the Franciscan order, whom he declared to be “ free from ambition,” save in the salvation of souls.
These priests were not aggressive enough to suit the ambitious Gallican Church, nor worldly wise enough to serve the State in carrying out the political designs for enlarging French dominions in North America. They were withdrawn from Canada and supplanted by Jesuits, who, with the help of Champlain, established an alliance with the Hurons on the St. Lawrence, and in the country westward; and so began that wide-spread affiliation of the French and Indians which proved disastrous to the English colonists.
As early as 1636, there were fifteen Jesuit priests in Canada, a band of zealous, obedient, self-sacrificing men, ready to endure every privation and encounter every danger in the service of their church. At an assembly of Huron chiefs and sachems at Quebec, Champlain introduced three of these black-robed missionaries to his savage allies as men who would teach them things pertaining to the spiritual welfare of themselves, their kindred and people. The three Jesuits were Brebeuf, Daniel and Davost. With faith which never forsook them, these men, consecrated to saving souls, followed the savages through the dreadful forests of the Huron dominions stretching along the northern borders of the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario to the shores of Lake Huron, near which they established the first mission house of the Jesuits among the Indians.
During the journey, which was full of fatigue and peril, the priests shared in all the toil. They waded streams and swamps, climbed rocks, when on the waters plied the oar, assisted in carrying the canoes around almost forty waterfalls, slept on the bare earth with no covering but the sky, while their principal food was jerked venison and pounded corn. Brebeuf carried with him the materials for the administration of the holy communion; while around the neck of each was a cord holding a heavy breviary or orders of the daily service in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Indians were taught to believe in Jesus Christ as the guardian spirit of their lives, and that it was He and not the many deities with which their wild fancy had peopled earth and water, that they must worship. The worship of the Roman Catholic Church, from its solemn and impressive ceremonial, early took a fast hold on the Indians. Balboa, Cortez and Pizarro early impressed the natives with their worship. The French Jesuits soon had a firm grasp on the mind of the savages, and held a controlling influence over the rude children of the forest from the gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico. In their work, they were encouraged by the Church in France and the Pope at Rome; and a year before Massachusetts provided for the establishment of a college in that province, one was founded in Canada for the education of Indian boys, who, it was designed, should become missionaries and teach their people.
Soon after the establishment of this school, a
young French widow of great wealth established the Ursuline convent at Quebec for the religious training and education of Indian girls. This pious young woman, who devoted her fortune to the work of elevating the heathen from darkness, came to America with three nuns and was received on the shore at Quebec by the governor and garrison of the fort. On reaching the shore the devout women stooped and kissed the earth in token of their adoption of the new country as their home. Then they were escorted to the church, followed by a crowd of Indian men, women and children, where the Te Deum was chanted in the midst of thanksgiving.
With the spread of religion and French education in the new world, came the expansion of French dominion in America. In 1640 they took possession of Montreal, and a united prayer went up from the people of France that the Queen of Angels might take that region under her protection. Missionaries rapidly followed on the heels of each other, and, in the short space of thirteen years, sixty of them had carried the gospel and French power from the Niagara River to the remotest bounds of Lake Superior. Here, despite the many perils they encountered among the numerous tribes, which were continually at war, they established mission houses.
In 1641, Raymbault and Jogues visited the Indians at the falls of St. Mary's, at the outlet of Lake Superior. This was five years before the New England Elliot had preached to the Indians within a few miles of Boston Harbor. The missionaries themselves possessed the weakness and virtues of the order. For fifteen years Jean De Brebeuf endured the infinite labors and perils of the Huron mission, and exhibited, as it was said, “an absolute pattern of every religious virtue.” Once, imparadised in a trance, he beheld the mother of Him whose cross he bore, surrounded by a crowd of virgins, in the beatitudes of heaven. Once, as he himself has recorded, while engaged in penance, he saw Christ unfold his arms to embrace him with the utmost love, promising oblivion for his sins. Once, late at night, while praying in silence, he had a vision of an infinite number of crosses, and, with a mighty heart, he strove again and again to grasp them all. Often he saw the shapes of foul fiends, now appearing as madmen, now as raging beasts, and often he beheld the image of Death, a bloodless form, by the side of a stake, struggling with bands, and at last falling as a harmless spectre at his feet. Having vowed to seek out suffering for the greater glory of God, he renewed that vow every day, at the moment of tasting the sacred water, and his desire for