CHAPTER XXV. 1648, 1649. SAINTE MARIE.
No doubt the buildings of Sainte Marie were of the roughest, - rude walls of boards, windows without glass, vast chimneys of unhewn stone. All its riches were centred in the church, which, as Lalemant tells us, was regarded by the Indians as one of the wonders of the world, but which, he adds, would have made but a beggarly show in France. Yet one wonders, at first thought, how so much labor could have been accomplished here. Of late years, however, the number of men at the command of the mission had been considerable. Soldiers had been sent up from time to time, to escort the Fathers on their way, and defend them on their arrival. Thus, in 1644, Montmagny ordered twenty men of a reinforcement just arrived from France to escort Brebeuf, Garreau, and Chabanel to the Hurons, and remain there during the winter. [ 1 ] These soldiers lodged with the Jesuits, and lived at their table. [ 2 ] It was not, however, on detachments of troops that they mainly relied for labor or defence. Any inhabitant of Canada who chose to undertake so hard and dangerous a service was allowed to do so, receiving only his maintenance from the mission, without pay. In return, he was allowed to trade with the Indians, and sell the furs thus obtained at the magazine of the Company, at a fixed price. [ Registres des Arrets du Conseil, extract in Faillon, II, 94. ] Many availed themselves of this permission; and all whose services were accepted by the Jesuits seem to have been men to whom they had communicated no small portion of their own zeal, and who were enthusiastically attached to their Order and their cause. There is abundant evidence that a large proportion of them acted from motives wholly disinterested. They were, in fact, donnes of the mission, [ 3 ] - given, heart and hand, to its service. There is probability in the conjecture, that the profits of their trade with the Indians were reaped, not for their own behoof, but for that of the mission. [ 4 ] It is difficult otherwise to explain the confidence with which the Father Superior, in a letter to the General of the Jesuits at Rome, speaks of its resources. He says, "Though our number is greatly increased, and though we still hope for more men, and especially for more priests of our Society, it is not necessary to increase the pecuniary aid given us." [ 5 ]
[ 1 Vimont, Relation, 1644, 49. He adds, that some of these soldiers, though they had once been "assez mauvais garcons," had shown great zeal and devotion in behalf of the mission. ]
[ 2 Journal des Superieurs des Jesuites, MS. In 1648, a small cannon was sent to Sainte Marie in the Huron canoes. - Ibid. ]
[ 3 See ante, chapter 16 (page 214), "donnes". Garnier calls them "seculiers d'habit, mais religieux de coeur." - Lettres, MSS. ]
[ 4 The Jesuits, even at this early period, were often and loudly charged with sharing in the fur-trade. It is certain that this charge was not wholly without foundation. Le Jeune, in the Relation of 1657, speaking of the wampum, guns, powder, lead, hatchets, kettles, and other articles which the missionaries were obliged to give to the Indians, at councils and elsewhere, says that these must be bought from the traders with beaver-skins, which are the money of the country; and he adds, "Que si vn Iesuite en recoit ou en recueille quelques-vns pour ayder aux frais immenses qu'il faut faire dans ces Missions si eloignees, et pour gagner ces peuples a Iesus-Christ et les porter a la paix, il seroit a souhaiter que ceux-la mesme qui deuroient faire ces despenses pour la conseruation du pays, ne fussent pas du moins les premiers a condamner le zele de ces Peres, et a les rendre par leurs discours plus noirs que leurs robes." - Relation, 1657, 16.
In the same year, Chaumonot, addressing a council of the Iroquois during a period of truce, said, "Keep your beaver-skins, if you choose, for the Dutch. Even such of them as may fall into our possession will be employed for your service." - Ibid., 17.
In 1636, La Jeune thought it necessary to write a long letter of defence against the charge; and in 1643, a declaration, appended to the Relation of that year, and certifying that the Jesuits took no part in the fur-trade, was drawn up and signed by twelve members of the company of New France. Its only meaning is, that the Jesuits were neither partners nor rivals of the Company's monopoly. They certainly bought supplies from its magazines with furs which they obtained from the Indians.
Their object evidently was to make the mission partially self-supporting. To impute mercenary motives to Garnier, Jogues, and their co-laborers, is manifestly idle; but, even in the highest flights of his enthusiasm, the Jesuit never forgot his worldly wisdom. ]
[ 5 Lettre du P. Paul Ragueneau au T. R. P. Vincent Carafa, General de la Compagnie de Jesus a Rome, Sainte Marie aux Hurons, 1 Mars, 1649 (Carayon). ]
Much of this prosperity was no doubt due to the excellent management of their resources, and a very successful agriculture. While the Indians around them were starving, they raised maize in such quantities, that, in the spring of 1649, the Father Superior thought that their stock of provisions might suffice for three years. "Hunting and fishing," he says, "are better than heretofore"; and he adds, that they had fowls, swine, and even cattle. [ 1 ] How they could have brought these last to Sainte Marie it is difficult to conceive. The feat, under the circumstances, is truly astonishing. Everything indicates a fixed resolve on the part of the Fathers to build up a solid and permanent establishment.
[ 1 Lettre du P. Paul Ragueneau au T. R. P. Vincent Carafa, General de la Compagnie de Jesus a Rome, Sainte Marie aux Hurons, 1 Mars, 1649 (Carayon). ]