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HOW FATHER JOGUES WAS TAKEN BY THE
IROQUOIS, AND WHAT HE SUFFERED
ON THIS FIRST ENTRANCE INTO
THEIR COUNTRY

(From the Relation for 1647, by
Father Jérôme Lalemant 12)

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Father Isaac Jogues had sprung from a worthy family of the City of Orleans. After having given some evidence of his virtue in our Society, he was sent to New France, in the year 1638. In the same year he went up to the Hurons, where he sojourned until the thirteenth of June in the year 1642, when he was sent to Kebec upon the affairs of that important and arduous Mission.

       From that time until his death, there occurred many very remarkable things, - of which one cannot, without guilt, deprive the public. What has been said of his labors in the preceding Relations, come, for the most part, from some Savages, companions in his sufferings. But what I am about to set down has issued from his own pen and his own lips.

       The Reverend Father Hiersome [ Jérôme ] L’alemant, at that time Superior of the Mission among the Hurons, sent for him, and proposed to him the journey to Kebec, - a frightful one, on account of the difficulty of the roads, and very dangerous because of the ambuscades of the Hiroquois, who massacred, every year, a considerable number of the Savages allied to the French. Let us hear him speak upon his subject and upon the result of his journey:

Authority having made me a simple proposition, and not a command, to go down to Kebec, I offered myself with all my heart. So there we were, on the way and in the dangers all at once. We were obliged to disembark forty times, and forty times to carry our boats and all our baggage amid the currents and waterfalls that one encounters on this journey of about three hundred leagues. At last, thirty-five days after our departure from the Hurons, we arrived, much fatigued, at Three Rivers; thence we went down to Kebec. Our affairs being finished in fifteen days, we solemnly observed the feast of St. Ignace; and the next day, we left Three Rivers, in order to go up again to the country whence we came. The first day was favorable to us; the second caused us to fall into the hands of the Iroquois.  

       We were forty persons, distributed in several canoes; the one which kept the vanguard, having discovered on the banks of the great river some tracks of men, recently imprinted on the sand and clay, gave us warning. A landing was made: some say that these are footprints of the enemy, others are sure that they are those of  Algonquins, our allies. In this dispute, Eustache Ahatsistari exclaimed: “Be they friends or enemies, it matters not; they are not in greater number than we; let us advance and fear nothing."

       We had not yet made a half-league, when the enemy, concealed among the grass and brushwood, rises with a great outcry, discharging at our canoes a volley of balls. The noise so greatly frightened a part of our Hurons that they abandoned their canoes and weapons in order to escape by flight into the depth of the woods. We were four French, - one of whom, being in the rear, escaped with the Hurons, who abandoned him before approaching the enemy. Eight or ten, both Christians and Catechumens, joined us; they oppose a courageous front to the enemy. But having perceived that another band of forty Hiroquois, who were in ambush on the other side of the river, was coming to attack them, they lost courage; insomuch that those who were least entangled fled.

       A Frenchman named Rene Goupil, whose death is precious before God, was surrounded and captured, along with some of the most courageous Hurons. I was watching this disaster, says the Father, from a place very favourable for concealing me from the sight of the enemy, but this thought could never enter my mind. “Could I indeed," I said to myself, “abandon our French and leave those good Neophytes and those poor Catechumens, without giving them the help which the Church of my God has entrusted to me?"  Flight seemed horrible to me. “It must be," I said in my heart, “that my body suffer the fire of earth, in order to deliver these poor souls from the flames of Hell; it must die a transient death, in order to procure for them an eternal life" My conclusion being reached without great opposition from my feelings, I call the one of the Hiroquois who had remained to guard the prisoners. He advances and, having seized me, puts me in the number of those whom the world calls miserable?

       It is a belief among these Barbarians that those who go to war are the more fortunate in proportion as they are cruel toward their enemies; I assure you that they made us thoroughly feel the force of that wretched belief.