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Similar to this is the description given of the Iroquois by St. Valier, the bishop of Quebec, in his account of his diocese of New France, in the
“ Their natural haughtiness and ferocity, joined to the fury caused by drunkenness, renders them peculiarly averse to the virtues of Christianity. In the time of their intoxication, their cabins form a striking representation of hell. They tear one another to pieces with their teeth : they attack in their fury, and without distinction, all who coine within their reach; destroying friends, parents, wives, and children."*
Other writers also - unconnected with the religious missions in New France — fully corroborate these early accounts of the baneful effects arising from spirituous liquors. The Baron de la Hontan remarks, that“ The excessive use of ardent spirits has made a dreadful havoc among the natives in New France, the number of those who are addicted to it far exceeding those who have the courage to abstain from it. This beverage, murderous in itself, is rendered worse by being adulterated before it is brought into this country; and its destructive effects are so rapid that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it.” | Boucher, who
Etat présent de l'Eglise, et de la Colonie de la Nouvelle France, par M. l'Evêque de Quebec, p. 205. Paris, 1688.
+ La Hontan, vol ii p. 159.
long held the situation of governor of Three Rivers, in Canada, makes similar remarks in his early History of New France.
Those Indians,” says he, "who have communication with the Europeans, almost always become drunkards; which causes much mischief amongst us, many of those who had been converted having again relapsed. The Jesuit fathers have done all in their power to check the evil. The savages drink for the sole purpose of becoming intoxicated; and when once they begin, they would part with every thing they possess for a bottle of brandy in order to get drunk.”
drunk."* Monsieur Denys, who was governor of a large district towards the mouth of the river St. Lawrence, and Nova Scotia, thus expresses himself on the same subject :-" In their drinking entertainments they are never satisfied unless they get completely and brutally intoxicated; and they think they cannot have had enough without having beat and knocked each other to pieces. The women upon these occasions often take away the guns, hatchets, daggers, and knives. This they are allowed to do if the drinking has not begun, otherwise the women would not venture to go into their cabins. When they have thus taken away
weapons, the women sometimes go into the woods, where they conceal themselves
* Hist. de la Nouvelle France, par Boucher, chap. 10. Paris, 1664.
with their children, not venturing to appear until the effects of the debauch are past; and in the course of which the men generally fight and beat each other with the poles that support their bark tents or lodges."*
“ Of all the Algonquin nation,” says Monsieur de la Potherie, “there remain only a few villages near Quebec, the inhabitants of which for the most part die from excess in drinking. Beaver skins were then extremely dear; but the savages would always part with them to the French for brandy.” † And in a subsequent letter, he asks,
Why should this practice be allowed, which every where causes such disorder and outrage, producing ruin and perdition to those whom such pains have been taken to educate in the true religion? To such a degree does drunkenness brutalise them, that they do not scruple in that state to commit all sorts of crimes. Every thing is excusable among them when a man is drunk. Homicide and parricide are the ordinary consequences; and they consider themselves as acquitted of the crime by their being able to say, • When I killed such a one, I was intoxicated.'”
• Description de l'Amérique Septentrionale, par M. Denys, vol. ii. chap. 27. + La Potherie, Hist. de l’Amer. Sept. vol. i. let. 11.
Ibid. vol. iv. let. 9.
Professor Kalm, when in Canada, in the middle of the last century, made a similar observation: “ The Indians, when in liquor, sometimes kill the missionaries who live with them, calling them spies, or excusing themselves by saying that brandy had killed them.”*
Some of the governors-general in New France appear to have been particularly active in preventing, as much as they could, the disposal of spirits among the Indians; but one of these, the Baron d'Avougour, finding himself unsupported in his prohibitions by those from whom he had a right to look for assistance, the evil was permitted to go on unpunished, until at length it spread to a most alarming degree. The circumstance is thus mentioned by Charlevoix : -- A woman of Quebec was found acting in express disobedience to the governor's proclamation on this subject, and was in consequence sent to prison. Father Lallemant, the Jesuit, was prevailed on by her friends to intercede in her behalf; but he met with a cool reception from the governor, who, although he granted the request, appears to have been offended at the application. He sharply answered the priest, that since the disposing of spirits to the Indians was not to be considered deserving of punishment in the case of this woman, it should thenceforward not
* Kalm's Travels in North America, vol. ii. p. 290.
be punished in the case of others. The governor seems to have kept his word; and the consequence was, that the disorder rapidly increased ; and, as Charlevoix expresses it,
« baffled the bishop, priests, and confessors; so that neither the menaces of the Divine wrath, nor the thunders of the church, could stop the torrent which had thus broken down its banks.”*
When the Count de Frontenac was at the head of the government in Canada, he also was much blamed by the missionaries for the little discouragement given by him to the growth of this baneful evil. An order of council was in consequence issued in France (in 1678), directing twenty of the principal inhabitants of New France to assemble, and consider this subject, and after making every inquiry, to report their opinions respecting it. This was accordingly done; and these opinions being referred to the Archbishop of Paris, and to Père de la Chaise, the king's confessor, they decided that the introduction of spirituous liquors should. be prohibited under the most severe penalties. This was followed up by a royal ordinance, which was transmitted by the Count. de Frontenac, with directions that it should be punctually obeyed.
Charlevoix, Hist. de la Nouvelle France, liv. ix. + Ibid. liv. x,