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This webpage reproduces an article in
The Catholic Historical Review
Vol. 1 No. 2 (Jul. 1915), pp164‑174

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

p164 The Apostle of the Abnakis: Father Sebastian Rale, S. J. (1657‑1724)

In the history of the missionary activity in what is now known as the State of Maine, one of the most prominent names is that of Sebastian Rale, the "Apostle of the Abnakis."1 His was the longest p165and most eventful period of continuous priestly labor in this section on the New World. Born at Pontarlier in the Diocese of Besançon, Department of Doubs,a on January 4, 1657, he entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Dôle in the Province of Lyonsb on September 24, 1675. After passing successfully through the various periods of probation which are customary in the Society of Jesus, he had just finished his p166theological studies in 1688, when a call for volunteers came from the Mission of St. Francis in Canada. He offered his services, and they were at once accepted, because he possessed all the requirements for the arduous life of a missionary in uncivilized lands: zeal, resourcefulness, capacity for painstaking and persevering labor, and an iron constitution. On July 23, 1689, he set sail for America from Rochelle, forming one of the party headed by Frontenac.

On reaching Quebec in October, Father Rale at once began to devote himself to the preparation for his future work. His first plan was to study the Abnaki dialect, since his first mission was an Abnaki village of about two or three hundred inhabitants which was situated a few miles from Quebec. It was his custom to spend a part of each day in the wigwams of the Indians, listening closely to their speech, endeavoring to understand the grammatical construction of their language, and at the same time striving to learn the meaning conveyed. The deep Abnaki gutturals proved the most troublesome. After five months of unceasing effort, he was finally able to utilize his knowledge and to give his untutored charges short, simple catechetical instruction in their own tongue. At the same time he began the composition of an Abnaki Catechism. Very probably a modified form of this completed catechism was the one in use among the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Indians in Maine as late as 1887.2

In the beginning of the year 1691, his work among the Abnakis was interrupted for a time. He was recalled to Quebec and appointed to the Mission in Illinois. After spending three months studying the Algonquin dialect, which was the one spoken by his new charges, he set out by water for the country of the Illinois Indians. Here he labored for two years. Of his work in this western Mission we have a very detailed and picturesque account given in a letter written many years afterwards to his brother.3 In 1694, he was again appointed missionary to the Abnakis. Now, however, the scene of his labors with these Indians was much further removed from Quebec than the little village where he had spent the first few months of his life in the New World. He was sent to take charge of the Mission on the Kennebec.

p167 The Kennebec Mission was the westernmost of three centres of missionary activity in old Acadia. Of the remaining two, one was located on the Penobscot, and the other on the St. John's river. The Mission on the Kennebec owed its establishment to the labors of an Algonquin catechist, Charles Meiachkawat. In 1642, an Abnaki warrior having been captured by the Algonquins and taken to Three Rivers, was ransomed and brought to Sillery. Returning to his home on the Kennebec, he took with him two Christian Indians, one of them Meiachkawat. The latter preached the faith to the Abnakis on the lower Kennebec. The Indians willingly listened to his instructions. One of their chiefs returned with Meiachkawat a few months later, and, after being instructed, was baptized at Sillery. In 1644, Meiachkawat returned to the Kennebec. Several more conversions resulted, and finally the little flock of converts asked that a priest be sent to them, and Father Gabriel Druillettes went in answer to their request.4 The faith was thus kept alive among the Indians by occasional visits of missionaries, but there was no permanent pastor on the lower Kennebec until the coming of Father Rale in 1694.

The principal village of the Abnakis in this section was called by the Indians themselves, Narantsouak, and by the English, Norridgewock. Its location is thus described by Parkman: "Near where the town of Norridgewock now stands, the Kennebec curved round a broad tongue of meadow land in the midst of a picturesque wilderness of hills and forests. On this tongue of land, on ground a few feet above the general level, stood the village of the Norridgewocks."5

We know very little about the earlier years of Father Rale's life at his new mission. When he arrived, King William's War (1689‑1697) was at its height. The English colonists greatly outnumbered the French, but the Indians were mostly allied with the latter. At the very beginning of his career at Norridgewock Father Rale must have realized how difficult and how dangerous his position was. His, as we have seen, was the most western of the Acadian Missions. The New England colonists were uncomfortably near him, and many were the anxieties and sorrows caused by this proximity. He became almost at once the object of English suspicion and accusation, p168and later of armed attack. Every foray of the Indians on the New England colonists was attributed to him as the prime cause. Indeed, some of the Abnakis themselves, on being reproached by the English after the treaty of Ryswick (1697), for their want of faith in keeping promises, replied that the French had instigated them to do this against their own inclinations. They also said that there were two Jesuits, one at "Amnoscoggin," and the other at "Norridgwag," both of whom they wished to have removed, otherwise it could not be expected that any peace would continue long.6 It must be admitted, however, that the veracity of the Indians was questionable; on many occasions their attempts to avoid embarrassing situations by putting the blame on others has been proved beyond the shadow of a doubt.

In 1702, the war, known in American History as Queen Anne's War, broke out in the colonies. A short time before the outbreak of hostilities, Governor Dudley of Massachusetts invited the Abnakis to a conference at Casco Bay. The invitation was accepted and the Indians came to the appointed place, accompanied by Father Rale. Dudley addressed the Indians and begged them not to ally themselves with the French, but to let the white men fight out their own battles. We have two contradictory reports of the result of this conference: Father Rale's and Penhallow's. The latter tells us that a treaty was concluded in which the Indians promised their continued friendship for England, saying: "We are as firm as the mountains and shall continue so long as the sun and moon endure."7 According to Father Rale, the Indians rejected Dudley's request to remain neutral, and declared their intention, as allies of France, to help the French if the latter were attacked by the English.8 Whether the Indians signed the treaty or not, within six weeks after the Conference three of their bands were on the warpath laying waste to the eastern frontier of New England. In retaliation the English, led by Colonel Hilton, carried the war into the country of the Abnakis, and in 1705 set fire to the village of Norridgewock burning down several deserted wigwams and the Chapel. The inhabitants had fled for safety, very probably to the Mission on the Chaudière.

Towards the close of 1712 Father Rale heard from Quebec that p169negotiations for peace were under way in Europe. Knowing that news of the signing of the treaty would reach Boston some time before it could be known at Quebec, he wrote to Capt. Moody at the New England Capital, asking him to send word to Norridgewock as soon as news of the declaration of peace reached Boston.9 The treaty of Utrecht was not signed, however, until April, 1713, six months after this letter was written. All the parties concerned, English, French, and Indians, were heartily glad to stop fighting. Another conference with the Abnakis was held by the English a few weeks after the news of peace had arrived. It took place at Plymouth and its principal purpose was to confirm the treaty of Utrecht in so far as it concerned the Indians. Again we have contradictory reports by Penhallow and Rale. The former tells us that the Indians promised never again to enter into treasonable conspiracy with any other nation to the disturbance of the English, and never to seek vengeance for any wrongs the English might commit against them but to appeal to the English Governor for redress.10 The astonishing part of the treaty was that in which the Indians acknowledged themselves subjects of Great Britain, at the same time assuring the English that they might "quietly and peaceably enter upon and improve and forever enjoy all and singular the rights of land and former settlements, properties and possessions within the eastern part of the said province of Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire . . . saving unto the Indians their own ground and free liberty of hunting, fishing, fowling and all other liberties and privileges." The treaty was read, each article separately and by sworn interpreters, in the presence of the Indians and their chiefs. It was signed by eight of the latter, and by prominent citizens of New England.11

p170 Father Rale's testimony for his side of the controversy is weakened by the fact that he was not present at the Conference. His source of information was the oral account given by the Abnakis on their return from Plymouth. His testimony is embodied in a letter to M. Vaudreuil, the Governor-General of Canada. In this report Father Rale clearly states that the Indians, on being informed that France had ceded their lands to the English, repudiated this act on the part of the French, saying that the land was theirs, and that, with certain concessions as to hunting and fishing, they wished to remain masters of it.12 After the Plymouth treaty, the Indians returned to their homes and remained there in quiet for some time. For the three years following this conference we have unfortunately no record of Father Rale's life. About 1716 we learn that he paid a visit to Arrowsic to receive treatment for rheumatism from a non-Catholic clergyman, the Rev. Hugh Adams. The latter gladly gave the treatment requested.13 This incident shows us that Father Rale's relations with his English neighbors were at that time of a friendly nature. It was during this period of peace that the erection of a new church was begun at Norridgewock. This was finished sometime before 1720. Its position was outside the stockade which surrounded the principal dwelling places of the savages. Of the town at Norridgewock at this time we can form a fair picture from a MS. map now in the possession of the Maine Historical Society. It was laid out in the form of a square, surrounded by a fence of logs p171about nine feet high. Each side was 160 feet in length and contained a gate. Connecting these gates were two streets, crossing each other in the centre of the enclosure. Within the walls were 26 cabins built of logs.

Events now were rapidly shaping themselves towards the final and decisive conflict between the New England colonists and the Abnakis of Norridgewock and the vicinity. This is known in local history as "Dummer's War." The English had been gradually advancing their settlements into the territory occupied by the Indians on the Kennebec river. They felt they had a double claim to this land: it had been ceded to them, as they asserted, by the treaty of Utrecht which the Indians had accepted and confirmed; besides this, many portions of it had been acquired by purchase from Indian chiefs before the present trouble. The latter claim was even more questionable than the former. It happened more than once, as Father Rale tells us, that an Englishman would give an Indian a bottle of rum, or some article of trifling value, for many acres of land.14 We must remember, in considering this question, that the Indians did not admit the right of an individual to cede land. All land was common property; and even when an estate was disposed of with the consent of the whole tribe, the title thus conveyed included nothing more than permission to hunt and fish on the land in question, with the right to pass through it without hindrance.15

The Indians naturally began to resent the advance of the English. They showed this resentment in every way short of personal violence and bloodshed. Father Rale was back of this systematic resistance and even threatened to use severer measures if it were not successful.16 In spite of the efforts and influence of the missionary, who dreaded the advance of the English as a menace to his work among the Abnakis, two factions were forming among his charges. One of these was opposed to Father Rale, preaching peace at any price; the other favored continued resistance. Influenced by the former party, which gained a temporary ascendancy, the Indians, in November, 1720, fearing that the English would use forcible means to obtain satisfaction for their recent forays, promised to pay two hundred p172skins as a recompense for the cattle they had killed. To secure the payment of this debt, four Indians were sent to Boston to be held as hostages.17

To settle the difficulty peaceably, the New England colonists invited the Indians to a conference at Georgetown. To this conference, in addition to the Abnakis, came a party of Canadian Indians, invited by Father Rale for the purpose of encouraging his converts at Norridgewock. At this meeting the Indians demanded the return of the hostages, as the payment of the debt had now been made, but the request was refused. Three weeks grace was given to the English, who, nevertheless, persisted in their refusal. Waiting a short time longer than the period of grace, the Abnakis at last took the law into their own hands, appeared in force before Georgetown and drove the English into the fort. War being thus begun, two expeditions were organized in New England against the Indians. The second of these had Norridgewock for its destination with the special purpose of capturing Father Rale, for whose apprehension a reward of one hundred pounds had been offered some time previously. The expedition reached its destination, but did not achieve its principal purpose. Father Rale, being warned in time, consumed the consecrated hosts and escaped into the woods carrying the sacred vessels with him. He narrowly escaped capture in so doing, as the tree behind which he was hiding was within a few feet of one of the searching parties.18

p173 In the meantime, July 8, 1722, a formal declaration of war had been made by Governor Shute. The latter left the colony on January 1, 1723. The duties of his office were assumed by Lieutenant-Governor William Dummer, from whom the war received its name — "Dummer's War." Dummer organized another expedition against Norridgewock, but the soldiers were forced to turn back before they reached their destination. In spite of the danger, Father Rale returned to his post at Norridgewock. Here he remained, carrying on his priestly duties as far as the disturbed state of the times permitted him. His superior frequently urged him to give up his work and to seek safer quarters in Canada. He steadfastly refused, saying on one occasion: ". . . But as for me, I remain . . . the Indians having quitted, being persuaded that the English to revenge themselves for the damage we have done, will come and burn Norridgewock."19

The end came at last.c In August, 1724, four companies of English led by Captains Harmon, Moulton, and Brown, and Lieutenant Bean, set out from Fort Richmond. On the 23d they drew near the village. Their arrival was unexpected. Little or no resistance was made by the savages, who fled precipitately, but Father Rale remained in his cabin, defending himself. The door was broken open, and Lieut. Richard Jaques rushed in, shot and mortally wounded the aged priest. After the departure of the English, some of the Indians returned and buried the body of their beloved pastor near the ruins of his chapel. On the site of his grave, marked by the savages with a rude cross still standing in 1774, a monument to his memory was erected in 1838 by Bishop Fenwick.

Both the period and place of Father Rale's missionary activity are so closely connected with the bitter and almost incessant quarrels between the French and their Indian allies on the one hand and the New England colonists on the other, that we can hardly expect contemporary English accounts to give any credit to one whom they regarded as the main cause of these continued hostilities. Within the brief limits of this sketch we cannot enter into the vexed question of the ownership of that part of Acadia peopled by the Abnakis. The English fully believed they had a right to it. The French colonists p174and the Abnakis were equally firm and sincere in their claims to ownership. There is no doubt that Father Rale believed himself justified in urging the Indians to protect their lands from English invasion. If we add to this belief his well-founded conviction that English occupancy would mean the entrance of unprincipled traders who had given many evidences of their demoralizing influence upon the Indians, and his own ejection with the inevitable defection of his charges from the Catholic faith, then we have an adequate explanation of his unwearying efforts to guard his sheep in the fold that had been entrusted to him. If we have a single eye to the missionary work of Father Rale, regarding him as a priest among his people, as a pastor feeding and shepherding his flock, we cannot help seeing the singularly noble and self-sacrificing character of the man. One thing he held dear above all else: his duty to his converts. All that he did had this as its object. Self was forgotten, for eternal salvation alone counted. To save the souls of the Abnakis he gave up his time, his energies, he health, and lastly life itself. He was a man, a patriot, a soldier at times, and a diplomat; but above all and through all he was a missionary. Thus he lived and thus he died, a fearless and resolute hero, whose name will live in the Catholic history of Maine as a source of inspiration for all generations to come.

H. C. Schuyler, S. T. L.


The Author's Notes:

1 Thanks to the careful and systematic efforts of historians — not the least noteworthy of whom are those who have edited and published the collections of the various New England Historical Societies, practically every obtainable item of information relating to Father Rale has been printed. The principal sources consulted in writing this short sketch are the following:

I. Sources: A. MSS. Letters of Father Rale. There are seven of these extant. The original text and the English translation of the two longest are to be found in the Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 1610‑1791, 73 vols., edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites, (Cleveland, 1896‑1901). The earlier of these two letters was written to his nephew, from Norridgewock, October 25, 1722; the second, from the same place, dated October 12, 1723, was addressed to his brother. Both of these are contained in Vol. LXVII of the Relations. Two other letters are addressed to Captain Moody. The first is written from Norridgewock, November 18, 1712, of which the English translation is printed in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, second series, Vol. VIII, p258; the second is dated February 7, 1720. The English translation is given in Baxter, Pioneers of New France in New England. Baxter's work also contains the English translation of two other letters. One of these, addressed "Englishmen," and dated October, 1722, was found on the church door at Norridgewock by the English expedition under Colonel Westbrook. It was copied by Mr. Baxter from a translation preserved in the Public Record Office, London, and bears the following endorsement: "Translated from the French. The foregoing was found upon the Church Door at Norridgewock and in the handwriting of Father Rallè (sic), the Jesuit." The second, to Father de la Chasse, was written at Norridgewock, August 12, 1724 (O. S.). It was taken, together with other papers belonging to Father Rale, on the day he was killed. The seventh letter is one written from Norridgewock, September 9, 1713, to M. Vaudreuil, the Governor-General of Canada. The original text of this is published in the Collection de Manuscriptsº relatifs à la Nouvelle France, Vol. II, pp562‑564. B. Printed: I. J. P. Baxter, Pioneers of New France in New England, Albany, 1894. The narrative part of this book is so obviously biased that it is of little or no value from an historical standpoint. Its only merit lies in the collection of documents, most of which are printed in the Appendix. The more important of these documents are those which Mr. Baxter has copied from the originals preserved in the Public Record Office, London, under the title: Thirty-one papers Produced by Mr. Dummer, in Proof of the Right of the Crown of Great Britain to the Lands between New England and Nova Scotia, and of Several Depredations Committed by the French and Indians between 1720 and June 1725. II. Historical Societies, Collections and Proceedings of: (a) Maine Historical Society:— Three Series: Collections and Proceedings, 10 vols. Portland, 1831‑1891. Collections and Proceedings, 10 vols., Portland, 1890‑1901. Documentary Series. 8 vols. Portland, 1869‑1901. The first and second series contain numerous references to Father Rale. Consult Index, last vol. of each series. The Documentary Series contains no references. (b) Massachusetts Historical Society. 1) Collections, 63 vols. Boston, 1792‑1904. These collections are divided into series of 10 vols. each, the tenth volume containing a complete index of the series. There are numerous references to Father Rale. The important sources are: (i) Second Series, Vol. VIII, pp245, 258, 266 (Trans. of three of the missionary's letters); (ii) Ibid., pp250‑257. (Biog. memoir of Fr. Rale, by Rev. H. T. Harris); (iii) Third Series, Vol. VI, and Fourth Series, Vol. V, Niles (French and Indian Wars); (iv) Fifth Series, Vols. V‑VII (Sewall, Diary, 1674‑1729); (v) Sixth Series, Vols. I and II. (Sewall, Letter Book.) 2) Proceedings. Boston, 1859‑1903. (Divided into two series: The first series embraces twenty volumes with a complete index in a separate volume. Contains a few references to Rale. Second series contains no references). (c) New Hampshire Historical Society. 1) Collections, 10 vols. (Concord and Manchester), 1824‑1893. Important references to Rale are found in: Vol. I, pp13‑132, (Penhallow, Indian Wars, etc.); Vol. II, pp244‑256, Kidder's version of the Georgetown Treaty, 1717.) 2) Proceedings, 2 vols., Concord, 1884‑1897. 3) Plumer, Gov. Wm. MSS. Biographies of Persons Connected with the History of New Hampshire, 5 vols. (For the biography of Father Rale, see Vol. II, pp65 ss.) III. Collection de Manuscriptsº relatifs à la Nouvelle France. Recueillis aux Archives de la Province de Québec, ou copiés à l'étranger. 4 vols. Quebec, 1883‑1885.

II. Works: A. General. Charlevoix, Rev. Pierre F. X., Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle France, 3 vols., Paris, 1744; Penhallow, Samuel, The History of the Wars of New England with the Eastern Indians, 1703‑1713 and 1722‑1725. Boston, 1726. Reprinted and edited by W. Dodge, Cincinnati, 1859; Church, Benj., History of King Philip's War, and also the Indian Wars from 1659 to 1704. Boston, 1716. Reprint by S. G. Drake, Cooperstown, 1846; Parkman, F., A Half-Century of Conflict. 2 vols. Boston, 1902; Camille de Rochemonteix, S. J., Les Jésuites de la Nouvelle France au XVIIe siècle d'après beaucoup de documents inédits. Vol. III, pp364‑478. Paris, 1896; J. G. Shea, History of the Catholic Church in the United States, vol. I (Colonial Days), pp592‑605. New York, 1892. B. Biographical. Rev. H. C. Schuyler, A Typical Missionary, Rev. Sebastian Rale, the Apostle of the Abnakis (1694‑1724), in the Records of the American Catholic Historical Society, Philadelphia, vol. 8, (1907) pp121‑154; Prayers and Prophecy for the Destruction of Father Rale, in the American Catholic Historical Researches, Philadelphia, vol. XVIII, (1901), p144; Dr. Convers Francis, Life of Sebastian Rale, in the Library of American Biography, 2d Series, vol. VII, edited by Jared Sparks, Boston, 1845.

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2 Maine Hist. Society, Collections, Ser. 1, vol. IX, pp262 ss.

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3 Jesuit Relations, vol. LXVII, pp149‑177.

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4 The beginning of priestly ministrations among the Abnakis is described in father Lallemant's Relation of 1645‑1646, cf. Jesuit Relations, vol. XXIX, 67‑69.

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5 A Half-Century of Conflict, vol. I, p209.

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6 Francis, Life of Rale, p21.

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7 History of the Wars of New England with the Eastern Indians, pp16‑17.

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8 Jesuit Relations, vol. LXVII, pp197‑203.

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9 The following is an extract from the letter, the original of which is preserved in the Public Record Office, London: ". . . qui (M. Tallard) assuroit que la paix étoit faite, et qu'elle seroit publiée sur la fin d'Octobre. Or on ne le peut pas sçavoir en Canada, mais le peut sçavoir à Boston où les vaisseaux peuvent arriver en toute saison; si vous en sçavez quelquechose, je vous prie de me faire sçavoir, afin que j'envoie, incessament à Québec sur les glaces, pour en informer le governeur-generalº pourqu'il empêche les sauvages de faire aucun acte d'hostilité."

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10 Indian Wars, pp78‑81.

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11 The wording of the treaty seems so plain as to leave hardly any opportunity for misinterpretation. Yet an historian of no less authority than Parkman states, in regard to the allegiance promised by the Indians to the British crown: "Indians when in trouble can waive their pride and lavish professions and promises: but when they called themselves subjects of Queen Anne, it is safe to day they did not know what the words meant." Cf. A Half-Century of Conflict, vol. I, pp212‑213. This is also Hutchinson's view. Cf. History of Massachusetts, vol. II, p270 (Boston, 1767). Belknap, History of New Hampshire, vol. II, p43 (Boston, 1791), and Francis, Life of Rev. Sebastian Rale, pp209‑210, hold practically the same opinion.

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12 The following extract from this letter is copied from the Collection de manuscriptsº relatifs à la Nouvelle France, vol. II, p562.

Narantsoake, le 9 Sept., 1713.

". . . . Tu dis, mon Frère, que le François t'a donné Plaisance, Port-Royal et la terre des environs, ne se reservant que la rivière où est situé Quebec.º Il te donnera ce qu'il voudra, pour moi j'ai ma terre que je n'ai donné à personne, et que je ne donnerai pas. J'en veux toujours être le maître. Que les Anglois prennent des bois, pêchent ou chassent au gibier, il y en a assez pour tous, je ne les empêcherai pas, et si quelque méchante affaire arrivait, on ne fera rien de part et d'autre et on délibérera. . . ."

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13 Proceedings, Massachusetts Historical Society, First Series, vol. III, p324.

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14 Letter to Capt. Moody, February, 1720.

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15 Parkman, A Half-Century of Conflict, vol. I, p214.

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16 Réponse faite par MM. Vaudreuil et Begon au Memoire du Roy de Juin, 1721. Collection de Manuscrits, etc., vol. III, pp57 ss.

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17 According to Father Rale, (Jesuit Relations, vol. LXVII, pp103, 107), these hostages were obtained by fraud and held by force, liberty being refused them, even after the payment of the debt had been made. Although they had signed a document delivering the hostages to the English, the Indians themselves showed very plainly by their words and conduct that they expected the return of their four brethren after the skins had been delivered to the English.

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18 Jesuit Relations, vol. LXVII, pp113‑115. As one of the trophies of this expedition the English took back with them the missionary's "Strong Box" containing various letters and the MS. of the famous Abnaki Dictionary. This MS. is now preserved in the Library of Harvard College. It forms a quarto volume of two hundred and twenty pages, although many of the left-hand pages are written on but slightly, and some are entirely blank. On the first leaf is written the following note: "1691. Il y a unº que je suis parmi les sauvages, je commence à mettre en ordre en forme de dictionaire les mots que j'apprens." Below this we find the following: "Taken after the Fight at Norridgewalk among Father Ralle's Papers, and given by the late Col. Heath to Elisha Cook, Esq. — Dictionary of the Norridgewalk Language." Almost our entire knowledge of the Abnaki tongue is derived from this dictionary. It has been edited by John Pickering in volume I, (new series) of the Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, pp370‑574, Cambridge, 1833.

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19 Collections, Massachusetts Historical Society, Second Series, vol. VIII, pp266‑267.


Thayer's Notes:

a An anachronism: the subdivision of France into départements was a device of the French Revolution, dating to 1790, designed to help extinguish regional loyalties to the provinces: when Rale (more properly Râle or Rasle with its silent s) was growing up, and for a hundred years after, Pontarlier was part of the province of Franche-Comté.

But: in 1657 — and in 1652, Rasle's true birth date (Eckstorm, NEQ 7:542, note) — that province, with the town of Pontarlier, still belonged to Spain, and was in fact one of the causes of the Franco-Spanish War; it was only the concluding treaty of that war, in 1659, that made the province French. Sebastian Râle was born a Spanish subject.

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b Here, on the other hand, the "Province of Lyons" meant is not some royal province of France — there was no such province — but the ecclesiastical province of the Jesuit order.

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c The brief account given above is essentially based on a contemporaneous bit of hagiography designed as French government propaganda, only partly tempered by the facts discovered by 19c scholars. A much more nearly true account of Fr. Rasle's death, although with some uncertainties still, is laid out in a masterly piece of detective work by Fannie H. Eckstorm in "The Attack on Norridgewock, 1724", New England Quarterly VII, pp541‑578 (1934).


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