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Some years afterwards, however, the same excesses appear to have prevailed ; and application was again made to the crown on the subject. “ It appears absolutely necessary," writes the Abbé de Brisacier to the king's confessor, “ that his majesty should be informed of the brutalities and murders which have been recently, committed in the streets of Quebec by the Indians, male and female, when intoxicated with spirits. The Intendant, touched with these horrible excesses, but restrained by the orders he had received, - to write nothing to France except in concert with the governorgeneral, — states, that if they command him to apprize the court of the truth, he will do so; but as the evil presses, and the statements are confirmed by various letters from persons worthy of belief, it will be necessary at once to stop the permission of disposing of spirits, — not only to prevent Heaven from being offended at the continuance of such crimes, but also to retain in our alliance the Indians, who are now quitting us, during the present war. It is only you, my very reverend Father, who are in the situation of speaking upon this subject. The cause of religion and the welfare of the public in New France, are in your hands. Your zeal will not fail to meet its recompense.”*
It does not appear, however, that any very
* Charlevoix, Hist. de la Nouvelle France, liv. xv,
effectual measures were taken on the spot to stop the evil complained of; and. we again find Charlevoix lamenting its consequences. evident relaxation of morals,” says he, “is now observable among our converts, which can only be ascribed to their drunkenness, now almost impossible to remedy. The repeated prohibitions ordered by the king have not proved sufficient, and we cannot now depend even upon our own Iroquois Indians at the Sault St. Louis and La Montagne."
In a letter written by the same author, (from Detroit, in June 1721,) he mentions that Monsieur de Tonti, the commandant, had then assembled several of the neighbouring chiefs in council at that place, for the purpose of communicating to them some orders he had received from the governorgeneral ; one of which related to a wish that the Indians would not permit any more brandy to be brought into their country. The chiefs heard M. de Tonti without interruption; and, when he had done speaking, the principal orator of the Hurons told him they would consult about his proposal, and give him their answer.
Two days afterwards they assembled in great numbers at the commandant's residence; and Charlevoix was present at the council, together with all
* Charlevoix, Hist. de la Nouvelle France, liv. xix.
the officers of the garrison. The Huron chief, in his speech, stated, among other things, that on the subject of brandy the French might do as they pleased, and supply them or not as they thought fit; but that they would have done well had they never furnished them with a drop of it. “ It was impossible,” says Charlevoix, “to imagine any thing stronger than what was spoken by this Huron orator whilst exposing the disorders occasioned by that destructive beverage, and the mischiefs produced by it among all the Indian nations. The most zealous missionary could not have said more ; but he added, that unfortunately they were now so accustomed to receive it that they could no longer dispense with the indulgence."* “ The Indians well know,” says the same writer, “ that drunkenness is their ruin ; but when one attempts to persuade them that they ought, of themselves, to request that no more of that destructive poison should be sold to them, they answer you coolly, — 'It is you who have taught us; we can now no longer do without it; and should you refuse to supply us, we shall certainly go to the English for it. This liquor, we know, destroys us; but you are the cause of the mischief, which is now past all remedy.'
“ A disorder,” continues Charlevoix, “ which attacks the morals never goes alone. It is either
* Charlevoix, Journal Historique, let. 17.
the cause or the effect of several others. The Indians, before they fell into this vice, if we except war, which they have always carried on in a barbarous manner, had nothing to trouble their happiness. Drunkenness has rendered them sordid, and has destroyed all the sweets and comforts of domestic life.”*
* Charlevoix, Journal Historique, let. 22.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
DURING the wars which were formerly carried on, in North America between the English and the French, the native tribes, who respectively attached themselves to the two rival powers, were profusely supplied with spirituous liquors; and the distribution of that article proved to be one of the strongest ties which attached the Indians to their European allies. After the cession of Canada to Great Britain (confirmed by the peace of 1763), when there existed no longer any rivalship between the French and English in that country, it might have been expected that the practice of disposing of spirituous liquors to the Indians would have ceased; but this was far from being the case; and the evil was found to extend itself almost throughout the whole of the Indian country, in North America.
It may be noticed, however, that this fatal propensity does not appear to have originated from motives of selfish enjoyment or gratification to the palate of the Indian. Selfishness, indeed, of any description, is a feeling to which he is almost a total stranger.