Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Here's quote from a different project I've proof-read some pages for: The Jesuit Relations. This paragraph is from Father Pierre Biard, in a letter to his superior, the General of the Jesuits at Rome.

Such are the marks of intelligence in the people of these countries, which are very sparsely populated, especially those of the Soriquois and Etechemins, which are near the sea, although Membertou assures us that in his youth he has seen chimonuts, that is to say, Savages, as thickly planted there as the hairs upon his head. It is maintained that they have thus diminished since the French have began to frequent their country; for, since then they do nothing all summer but eat; and the result is that, adopting an entirely different custom and thus breeding new diseases, they pay for their indulgence during the autumn and winter by pleurisy, quinsy and dysentery, which kill them off. During this year alone sixty have died at Cape de la Hève, which is the greater part of those who lived there; yet not one of all M. de Potrincourt's little colony has even been sick, notwithstanding all the privations they have suffered; which has caused the Savages to apprehend that God protects and defends us as his favorite and well-beloved people.

This is the kind of evidence that now leads many to believe that Europeans killed off "savages" through disease vectors. Guns, Germs and Steel was where I first read a bunch of stuff about this theory, it's a good book, but it's not the only place you see this nowadays. The letter quoted here was sent in 1611, one hundred years after the French believed they had laid claim to the area. Four or five generations after first claim, there were still "Savages" falling ill regularly. They weren't "breeding new diseases", of course.

Also in the original French:

Voylà les marques de l'esprit de cette nation, qui est fort peu peuplée, principalement les Soriquois et Etechemins qui avoysinent la mer, combien, que Membertou assure qu'en sa jeunesse il a veu chimonuts, c'est-à-dire des Sauvages aussi dru semés que les cheveux de la teste. On tient qu'ils sont ainsi diminués depuis que les François ont commencé à y hanter: car, depuis ce temps-là, ils ne font tout l'esté que manger; d'où vient que, prenant une tout autre habitude, et amassant de humeurs, l'automne et l'hyver ils payent leurs intemperies par pleurésies, esquinances, flux de sang, qui les font mourir. Seulement cette année, soixante en sont morts au Cap de la Hève, qui est la plus grande partie de ce qu'ils y estoient; et neantmoins personne du petit peuple de M. de Potrincourt n'a esté seulement malade, nonobstant toute l'indigence qu'ils ont paty; ce qui a faict apprehender les Sauvages que Dieu nous deffend et protége comme son peuple particulier et bien-aymé.

No comments:

Blog Archive

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.