Voltaire, The Huron; or, Pupil of Nature
the huron arrives in france.
One day St. Dunstan, an Irishman by birth, and a saint by trade, left Ireland on a small mountain, which took its route toward the coast of France, and set his saintship down in the bay of St Malo. When he had dismounted he gave his blessing to the mountain, which, after some profound bows, took its leave, and returned to its former place.
Here St. Dunstan laid the foundation of a small priory, and gave it the name of the Priory Mountain, which it still keeps, as everybody knows.
On July 15, 1689, in the evening, the Abbot Kerkabon, prior of our Lady of the Mountain, happened to take the air along the shore with Miss Kerkabon, his sister. The prior, who was becoming aged, was a very good clergyman, beloved by his neighbors. What added most to the respect that was paid him was that, among all his clerical neighbors, he was the only one that could walk to his bed after supper. He was tolerably read in, theology, and when he was tired of reading St. Augustine he refreshed himself with Rabelais. All the world spoke well of him.
Miss Kerkabon, who had never been married, notwithstanding her hearty wishes so to be, had preserved a freshness of complexion in her forty-fifth year. Her character was that of a good and sensible woman. She was fond of pleasure, and was a devotee.
As they were walking, the prior, looking on the sea, said to his sister:
"It was here, alas! that our poor brother embarked with our dear sister-in-law, Madam Kerkabon, his wife, on board the frigate Swallow, in 1669, to serve the king in Canada. Had he not been killed, probably he would have written to us."
"Do you believe," said Miss Kerkabon, "that our sister-in-law has been eaten by the Cherokees, as we have been told?”
"Certain it is, had she not been killed, she would have come back. I shall weep for her all my lifetime. She was a charming woman, and our brother, who had a great deal of wit, would no doubt have made a fortune."
Thus they were going on with mutual tenderness, when they beheld a small vessel enter the bay of Rence with the tide. It was from England, and came to sell provisions. The crew leaped on shore without looking at the prior or Miss, his sister, who were shocked at the little attention shown them.
That was not the behavior of a well-made youth, who, darting himself over the heads of his companions, suddenly stood before Miss Kerkabon. Being unaccustomed to bowing, he made her a sign with his head. His figure and his dress attracted the notice of brother and sister. His head was uncovered, and his legs bare; instead of shoes, he wore a kind of sandals. From his head his long hair flowed in tresses, while a small, close doublet displayed the beauty of his shape. He had a sweet and martial air. In one hand he held a small bottle of Barbadoes water, and in the other a bag, in which he had a goblet, and some sea biscuit. He spoke French very intelligibly. He offered some of his Barbadoes to Miss Kerkabon and her brother. He drank with them; he made them drink a second time, and all this with an air of such native simplicity that quite charmed brother and sister. They offered him their service, and asked him who he was, and whither going?* The young man answered that he knew not where he should go, that he had some curiosity, that he had a desire to see the coast of France, that he had seen it, and should return.
The prior, judging by his accent that he was not an Englishman, took the liberty of asking of what country he was.
"I am a Huron," answered the youth.
Miss Kerkabon, amazed and enchanted to see a Huron who had behaved so politely to her, begged the young man's company to supper. He complied immediately, and all three went together to the priory of our Lady of the Mountain. This short and round Miss devoured him with her little eyes, and said from time to time to her brother:
"This tall lad has a complexion of lilies and roses. What a fine skin he has for a Huron!"
"Very true, sister," said the prior.
She put a hundred questions, one after another, and the traveler answered always pertinently.
The report was soon spread that there was a Huron at the priory. All the genteel company of the country came to supper. The abbot of St. Yves came with his sister, a fine, handsome, well educated girl. The bailiff, the tax-gatherer, and their wives, came all together. The foreigner was seated between Miss Kerkabon and Miss St. Yves. The company eyed him with admiration. They all questioned him together. This did not confound the Huron. He seemed to have taken Lord Bolingbroke's motto, Nil admirari. But at last, tired out with so much noise, he told them in a sweet but serious tone:
"Gentlemen, in my country one talks after an-other. How can I answer you if you will not allow me to hear you?"
Reasoning always brings people to a momentary reflection. They were all silent.
Mr. Bailiff, who always made a property of a foreigner wherever he found him, and who was the first man for asking questions in the province, opening a mouth of large size, began:
"Sir, what is your name?"
"I have always been called the Inginu" answered the Huron; "and the English have confirmed that name, because I always speak as I think and act as I like."
"But, being born a Huron, how could you come to England?"
"I have been carried thither. I was made prisoner by the English after some resistance, and the English, who love brave people, because they are as brave and honest as we, proposed to me, either to return to my family, or go with them to England. I accepted the latter, having naturally a relish for travelling."
"But, sir," said the bailiff, with his usual gravity, "how could you think of abandoning father and mother?"
"Because I never knew either father or mother," said the foreigner.
This moved the company; they all repeated:
"Neither father nor mother!"
"We will be in their stead," said the mistress of the house to her brother, the prior. "How interesting this Huron gentleman is!"
The Inginu thanked her with a noble and proud cordiality, and gave her to understand that he wanted the assistance of nobody.
"I perceive, Mr. Huron," said the huge bailiff, "that you talk better French than can be expected from an Indian."
"A Frenchman," answered he, "whom they had made prisoner when I was a boy, and with whom I contracted a great friendship, taught it me. I rapidly learn what I like to learn. When I came to Plymouth I met with one of your French refugees,' whom you, I know not why, call Huguenots. He improved my knowledge of your language, and as soon as I could express myself intelligibly I came to see your country, because I like the French well enough, if they do not put too many questions."
Notwithstanding this candid remark, the abbé of St. Yves asked him which of the three languages pleased him best, the Huron, English, or French?
"The Huron, to be sure," answered the Ingenu.
"Is it possible?" cried Miss Kerkabon. "I always thought the French was the first of all languages, after that of Low Brittany."
Then all were eager to know how, in Huron, they asked for snuff? He replied:
"What signifies to eat?" "Essenten"
Miss Kerkabon was impatient to know how they expressed to make love.
He informed her, Trovander, and insisted, not without reason, that these words were well worth their synonyms in French and English. Trovander, especially, seemed very pretty to all the company. The prior, who had in his library a Huron grammar, which had been given him by the Rev. Father Sagar Theodat, a Recollet and famous missionary, rose from the table to consult it. He returned quite panting with tenderness and joy. He acknowledged the foreigner for a true Huron. The company speculated a little on the multiplicity of languages, and all agreed that, had it not been for the unfortunate affair of the Tower of Babel, all the world would have spoken French.
The inquisitive bailiff, who till then had some suspicions of the foreigner, conceived the deepest respect for him. He spoke to him with more civility than before, and the Huron took no notice of it.
Miss St. Yves was very curious to know how people made love among the Hurons.
"In performing great actions to please such as resemble you."
All the company admired and applauded. Miss St. Yves blushed, and was extremely well pleased. Miss Kerkabon blushed likewise, but was not so well pleased. She was a little piqued that this gallantry was not addressed to her; but she was so good-natured that her affection for the Huron was not diminished at all. She asked him, with great complacency, how many mistresses he had at home.
"Only one," answered the foreigner; "Miss Abacaba, the good friend of my dear nurse. The reed is not straighter, nor is ermine whiter, no lamb meeker, no eagle fiercer, nor a stag swifter, than was my Abacaba. One day she pursued a hare not above fifty leagues from my habitation. A base Algonquin, who dwells an hundred leagues farther, took her hare from her. I was told of it; I ran thither, and with one stroke of my club leveled him with the ground. I brought him to the feet of my mistress, bound hand and foot. Abacaba's parents were for burning him, but I always had a dislike for such scenes. I set him at liberty, and thus made him my friend. Abacaba was so pleased with my conduct that she preferred me to all her lovers; and she would have continued to love me had she not been devoured by a bear. I slew the bear, and wore his skin a long while, but that has not comforted me.
Miss St. Yves felt a secret pleasure at hearing that Abacaba had been his only mistress, and that she was no more; yet she understood not the cause of her own pleasure. All eyes were riveted on the Huron, and he was much applauded for delivering an Algonquin from the cruelty of his countrymen.
The merciless bailiff had now grown so furious that he even asked the Huron what religion he was of; whether he had chosen the English, the French, or that of the Huguenots?
"I am of my own religion ," said he, "just as you are of yours."
"Lord!" cried Miss Kerkabon, "I see already that those wretched English have not once thought of baptizing him!"
"Good heavens!" said Miss St. Yves, "how is it possible? How is it possible the Hurons should not be Roman Catholics? Have not those reverend fathers, the Jesuits, converted all the world?"
The Huron assured her that no true American had ever changed his opinion, and that there was not in their language a word to express inconstancy.
These last words extremely pleased Miss St. Yves.
"Oh! we'll baptize him, we'll baptize him," said Miss Kerkabon to the prior. "You shall have that honor, my dear brother, and I will be his godmother. The Abbot St. Yves shall present him to the font. It will make a fine appearance; it will be talked of all over Brittany, and do us the greatest honor."
The company were all of the same mind with the mistress of the house; they all cried: "We'll baptize him."
The Huron interrupted them by saying that in England every one was allowed to live as he pleased. He rather showed some aversion to the proposal which was made, and could not help telling them that the laws of the Hurons were to the .full as good as those of Low Brittany. He finished with saying that he should return the next day. The bottles grew empty, and the company went to bed.
After the Huron had been conducted to his room, they saw that he spread the blankets on the floor, and laid himself down upon them in the finest attitude in the world.
the huron, called the ingenu, acknowledged by his relations.
The Inginu, according to custom, awoke with the sun, at the crowing of the cock, which is called in England and Huronia, "the trumpet of the day." He did not imitate what is styled good company, who languish in the bed of indolence till the sun has performed half its daily journey, unable to sleep, but not disposed to rise, and lose so many precious hours in that doubtful state between life and death, and who nevertheless complain that life is too short.
He had already traversed two or three leagues, and killed fifteen brace of game with his rifle, when, upon his return, he found the prior of the Lady of the Mountain, with his discreet sister, in their nightcaps, walking in their little garden. He presented them with the spoils of his morning labor, and, taking from his bosom a kind of little talisman, which he constantly wore about his neck, he entreated them to accept of it as an acknowledgment for the kind reception they had given him.
"It is," said he, ''the most valuable thing I possess. I have been assured that I shall always be happy while I carry this little toy about me; and I give it to you that you may be always happy."
The prior and Miss smiled with pity at the frankness of the Inginu. This present consisted of two little portraits, poorly executed, and tied together with a greasy string.
Miss Kerkabon asked him if there, were any painters in Huronia?
"No," replied the Ingenu, "I had this curiosity from my nurse. Her husband had obtained it by conquest, in stripping some of the French of Canada, who had made war upon us. This is all I know of the matter."
The prior looked attentively upon these pictures, while he changed color; his hands trembled, and he seemed much affected.
"By our Lady of the Mountain!" he cried out, "I believe these to be the faces of my brother, the captain, and his lady."
Miss, after having consulted them with like emotion, thought the same. They were both struck with astonishment and joy, blended with grief. They both melted, they both wept, their hearts throbbed, and during their disorder the pictures were interchanged between them at least twenty times in a second. They seemed to devour the Huron's pictures with their eyes. They asked one after another, and even both at once, at what time, in what place, and how these miniatures fell into the hands of the nurse? They reckoned and computed the time from the captain's departure; they recollected having received notice that he had penetrated as far as the country of the Hurons; and from that time they had never heard anything more of him.
The Huron had told them that he had never known either father or mother. The prior, who was a man of sense, observed that he had a little beard, and he knew very well that the Hurons never had any. His chin was somewhat hairy; he was therefore the son of a European. His brother and sister-in-law were never seen after the expedition against the Hurons, in 1669. His nephew must then have been nursing at the breast; the Huron nurse has preserved his life, and been a mother to him. At length, after a hundred questions and answers, the prior and his sister concluded that the Huron was their own nephew. They embraced him, while tears streamed from their eyes, and the Huron laughed to think that an Indian should be nephew to a prior of Lower Brittany.
All the company went downstairs. Mr. de St. Yves, who was a great physiognomist, compared the two pictures with the Huron's countenance.
They observed, very skillfully, that he had the mother's eyes, the forehead and nose of the late Captain Kerkabon, and the cheeks common to both.
Miss St. Yves, who had never seen either father or mother, was strenuously of opinion that the young man had a perfect resemblance to them. They all admired Providence, and wondered at the strange events of this world. In a word, they were so persuaded, so convinced of the birth of the Huron, that he himself consented to be the prior's nephew, saying that -he would as soon have him for his uncle as another.
The prior went to return thanks in the church of our Lady of the Mountain; while the Huron, with an air of indifference, amused himself with drinking in the house.
The English who had brought him over, and who were ready to set sail, came to tell him that it was time to depart.
"Probably," said he to them, "you have not met with any of your uncles and aunts. I shall stay here; go you back to Plymouth. I give you all my clothes, as I have no longer occasion for anything in this world, since I am the nephew of a prior."
The English set sail, without being at all concerned whether the Huron had any relations or not in Lower Brittany.
After the uncle, the aunt, and the company had sung Te Deum; after the bailiff had once more overwhelmed the Huron with questions; after they had exhausted all their astonishment, joy, and tenderness, the prior of the Mountain and the abbé of St. Yves concluded that the Huron should be baptized with all possible expedition. But the case was very different with a tall, robust Indian of twenty-two, and an infant who is regenerated without his knowing anything of the matter. It was necessary to instruct him, and this appeared difficult, for the abbé of St. Yves supposed that a man who was not born in France could not be endowed with common sense.
The prior, indeed, observed to the company that, though, in fact, the ingenuous gentleman, his nephew, was not so fortunate as to be born in Lower Brittany, he was not, upon that account, in any way deficient in sense, which might be concluded from all his answers; and that, doubtless, nature had greatly favored him, as well on his father's as on his mother's side.
He then was asked if he had ever read any books ? He said he had read Rabelais translated into English, and some passages in Shakespeare, which he knew by heart; that these books belonged to the captain on board of whose ship he came from America to Plymouth; and that he was very well pleased with them. The bailiff failed not to put many questions to him concerning these books.
"I acknowledge," said the Huron, "I thought, in reading them, I understood some things, but not the whole."
The abbé of St. Yves reflected upon this discourse, that it was in this manner he had always read, and that most men read no other way.
"You have," said he to the Huron, "doubtless read the Bible?"
"Never, Mr. Abbé; it was not among the captain's books. I never heard it mentioned."
"This is the way with those cursed English,'' said Miss Kerkabon; "they think more of a play of Shakespeare's, a plum pudding, or a bottle of rum, than they do of the Pentateuch. For this reason they have never converted any Indians in America. They are certainly cursed by God, and we shall wrest Jamaica and Virginia from them in a very short time."
Be this as it may, the most skilful tailor in all St. Malo was sent for to dress the Huron from head to foot. The company separated, and the bailiff went elsewhere to display his inquisitiveness. Miss St. Yves, in parting, returned several times to observe the young stranger, and made him lower courtesies than ever she did any one in her life.
The bailiff, before he took his leave, presented to Miss St. Yves a stupid dolt of a son, just come from college; but she scarcely looked at him, so much was she taken up with the politeness of the Huron.
the huron converted.
The prior, finding that he was somewhat advanced in years, and that God had sent him a nephew for his consolation, took it into his head that he would resign his benefice in his favor, if he succeeded in baptizing him and of making him enter into orders.
The Huron had an excellent memory. A good constitution, inherited from his ancestors of Lower Brittany, strengthened by the climate of Canada, had made his head so vigorous that when he was struck upon it he scarce felt it; and when anything was graven in it, nothing could efface it. Nothing had ever escaped his memory. His conception was the more sure and lively because his infancy had not been loaded with useless fooleries, which overwhelm ours. Things entered into his head without being clouded. The prior at length resolved to make him read the New Testament. The Huron devoured it with great pleasure; but, not knowing at what time, or in what country, all the adventures related in this book had happened, he did not in the least doubt that the scene of action had been in Lower Brittany; and he swore that he would cut off Caiaphas' and Pontius Pilate's ears if ever he met those scoundrels.
His uncle, charmed with this good disposition, soon brought him to the point. He applauded his zeal, but at the same time acquainted him that it was needless, as these people had been dead upward of 1690 years. The Huron soon got the whole book by heart He sometimes proposed difficulties that greatly embarrassed the prior. He was often obliged to consult the Abbé St. Yves, who, not knowing what to answer, brought a Jesuit of Lower Brittany to perfect the conversion of the Huron.
Grace, at length, operated, and the Huron promised to become a Christian. He did not doubt that the first step toward it was circumcision.
"For," said he, "I do not find in the book that was put into my hands a single person who was not circumcised. It is therefore evident that I must make a sacrifice to the Hebrew custom, and the sooner the better."
He sent for the surgeon of the village, and desired him to perform the operation. The surgeon, who had never performed such an operation, acquainted the family, who screamed out. The good Miss Kerkabon trembled lest her nephew, whom she knew to be resolute and expeditious, should perform the operation unskillfully himself, and that fatal consequences might ensue.
The prior rectified the Huron's mistake, representing to him that circumcision was no longer in fashion; that baptism was much more gentle and salutary; that the law of grace was not like the law of rigor. The Huron, who had much good sense, and was well disposed, disputed, but soon acknowledged his error, which seldom happens in Europe among disputants. In a word, he promised to let himself be baptized whenever they pleased.
But before baptism it was necessary that he should go to confession, and this was the greatest difficulty to surmount. The Huron had still in his pocket the book his uncle gave him. He did not there find that a single apostle had ever been confessed, and this made him very restive. The prior silenced him by showing him, in the epistle of St. James the Minor, these words: "Confess your sins to one another." The Huron was mute, and confessed his sins to a Recollet. When he had done, he dragged the Recollet from the confessional chair, and seizing him with a vigorous arm, placed himself in his seat, making the Recollet kneel before him.
"Come, my friend, it is said, 'we must confess our sins to one another;' I have related to you my sins, and you shall not stir till you recount yours."
While he said this, he fixed his great knee against his adversary's stomach. The Recollet roared and groaned till he made the church reecho. The noise brought people to his assistance, who found the catechumen cuffing the monk in the name of St. James the Minor. The joy diffused at the baptizing at once a Low-Breton, a Huron, and an Englishman, surmounted all these singularities. There were even some theologians of opinion that confession was not necessary, as baptism supplied the place of everything.
The bishop of St. Malo was chosen for the ceremony, who, flattered, as may be believed, at baptizing a Huron, arrived in a pompous equipage, followed by his clergy. Miss St. Yves put on her best gown to bless God, and sent for a hair-dresser from St. Malo, to shine at the ceremony. The inquisitive bailiff brought the whole country with him. The church was magnificently ornamented. But when the Huron was summoned to attend the baptismal font, he was not to be found.
His uncle and aunt sought for him everywhere. It was imagined that he had gone hunting, according to his usual custom. Every one present at the festival searched the neighboring woods and villages; but no intelligence could be obtained of the Huron. They began to fear he had returned to England. Some remembered that he had said he was very fond of that country. The prior and his sister were persuaded that nobody was baptized there, and were troubled for their nephew's soul. The bishop was confounded, and ready to return home. The prior and the Abbé St. Yves were in despair. The bailiff interrogated all passengers with his usual gravity. Miss Kerkabon melted into tears. Miss St. Yves did not weep, but she vented such deep sighs, as seemed to testify her sacramental disposition. They were walking in this melancholy mood, among the willows and reeds upon the banks of the little river Rence, when they perceived, in the middle of the stream, a large figure, tolerably white, with its two arms across its breast. They screamed out, and ran away. But curiosity being stronger than any other consideration, they advanced softly amongst the reeds; and when they were pretty certain they could not be seen, they were willing to descry what it was.
the huron baptized.
The prior and the abbé having run to the riverside, they asked the Huron what he was doing?
"In faith," said he, "gentlemen, I am waiting to be baptized. I have been an hour in the water, up to my neck, and I do not think it is civil to let me be quite exhausted."
"My dear nephew," said the prior to him, tenderly, "this is not the way of being baptized in Lower Brittany. Put on your clothes, and come with us."
Miss St. Yves, listening to the discourse, said in a whisper to her companion:
"Miss, do you think he will put his clothes on in such a hurry?"
The Huron, however, replied to the prior:
"You will not make me believe now as you did before. I have studied very well since, and I am very certain there is no other kind of baptism. The eunuch of Queen Candace was baptized in a rivulet. I defy you to show me, in the book you gave me, that people were ever baptized in any other way. I either will not be baptized at all, or the ceremony shall be performed in the river."
It was in vain to remonstrate with him that customs were altered. He always recurred to the eunuch of Queen Candace. And though Miss and his aunt, who had observed him through the willows, were authorized to tell him that he had no right to quote such a man they, nevertheless, said nothing—so great was their discretion. The bishop came himself to speak to him, which was a great thing; but he could not prevail. The Huron disputed with the bishop.
"Show me," said he "in the book my uncle gave me, one single man that was not baptized in a river, and I will do whatever you please."
His aunt, in despair, had observed that the first time her nephew bowed, he made a much lower bow to Miss St. Yves, than to any one in the company —that he had not even saluted the bishop with so much respect, blended with cordiality, as he did that agreeable young lady. She thought it advisable to apply to her in this great embarrassment. She earnestly entreated her to use her influence to engage the Huron to be baptized according to the custom of Brittany, thinking that her nephew, could never be a Christian if he persisted in being christened in the stream.
Miss St. Yves blushed at the secret joy she felt in being appointed to execute so important a commission. She modestly approached the Huron, and squeezing his hand in quite a noble manner, she said to him:
"What, will you do nothing to please me?"
And in uttering these words, she raised her eyes from a downcast look into a graceful tenderness.
"Oh! yes, Miss, everything you require, all that you command, whether it is to be baptized in water, fire, or blood; there is nothing I can refuse you."
Miss St. Yves had the glory of effecting, in two words, what neither the importunities of the prior, the repeated interrogations of the bailiff, nor the reasoning of the bishop, could effect. She was sensible of her triumph; but she was not yet sensible of its utmost latitude.
Baptism was administered, and received with all the decency, magnificence, and propriety possible. His uncle and aunt yielded to the Abbé St. Yves and his sister the favor of supporting the Huron upon the font. Miss St. Yves' eyes sparkled with joy at being a godmother. She was ignorant how much this high title compromised her. She accepted the honor, without being acquainted with its fatal consequences.
As there never was any ceremony that was not followed by a good dinner, the company took their seats at table after the christening. The humorists of Lower Brittany said, "they did not choose to have their wine baptized." The prior said, "that wine, according to Solomon, cherished the heart of man." The bishop added, "that the Patriarch Judah ought to have tied his ass-colt to the vine, and steeped his cloak in the blood of the grape; and that he was sorry the same could not be done in Lower Brittany, to which God had not allotted vines." Every one endeavored to say a good thing upon the Huron's christening and strokes of gallantry to the godmother. The bailiff, ever interrogating, asked the Huron if he was faithful in keeping his promises.
"How," said he, "can I fail keeping them, since I have deposited them in the hands of Miss St. Yves?"
The Huron grew warm; he had repeatedly drunk his godmother's health.
"If," said he, "I had been baptized with your hand, I feel that the water which was poured on the nape of my neck would have burned me.
The bailiff thought that this was too poetical, being ignorant that allegory is a familiar figure in Canada. But his godmother was very well pleased.
The Huron had, at his baptism, received the name of Hercules. The bishop of St. Malo frequently inquired, who was this tutelar saint, whom he had never heard mentioned before? The Jesuit, who was very learned, told him that "he was a saint who had wrought twelve miracles." There was a thirteenth, which was well worth the other twelve, but it was not proper for a Jesuit to mention it. This was the marriage of fifty girls at one time —the daughters of King Thespius. A wag, who was present, related this miracle very feelingly. And all judged, from the appearance of the Huron, that he was a worthy representative of the saint whose name he bore.
the huron in love.
It must be acknowledged, that from the time of this christening and this dinner, Miss St. Yves passionately wished that the bishop would again make her an assistant with Mr. Hercules in some other fine ceremony—that is, the marriage ceremony. However, as she was well brought up, and very modest, she did not entirely agree with herself in regard to these tender sentiments; but if a look, a word, a gesture, a thought, escaped from her, she concealed it admirably under the veil of modesty. She was tender, lively, and sagacious.
As soon as the bishop was gone, the Huron and Miss St. Yves met together, without thinking they were in search of one another. They spoke together, without premeditating what they said. The sincere youth immediately declared that he loved her with all his heart; and that the beauteous Abacaba, with whom he had been desperately in love in his own country, was far inferior to her. Miss replied, with her usual modesty, that the prior, her uncle, and the lady, her aunt, should be spoken to immediately; and that, on her side, she would say a few words to her dear brother, the abbé of St. Yves, and that she flattered herself it would meet with no opposition.
The youth replied that the consent of any one was entirely superfluous; that it appeared to him extremely ridiculous to go and ask others what they were to do; that when two parties were agreed, there was no occasion for a third, to accomplish their union.
"I never consult any one," said he, "when I have a mind to breakfast, to hunt, or to sleep. I am sensible that in love it is not amiss to have the consent of the person whom we wish for; but as I am neither in love with my uncle nor my aunt, I have no occasion to address myself to them in this affair; and if you will believe me, you may equally dispense with the advice of the abbé of St. Yves."'
It may be supposed that the young lady exerted all the delicacy of her wit to bring her Huron to the terms of good breeding. She was very angry, but soon softened. In a word, it cannot be said how this conversation would have ended, if the declining day had not brought the abbé to conduct his sister home. The Huron left his uncle and aunt to rest, they being somewhat fatigued with the ceremony and long dinner. He passed part of the night in writing verses in the Huron language upon his well-beloved, for it should be known that there is no country where love has not rendered lovers poets.
The next day his uncle spoke to him in the following manner: "I am somewhat advanced in years. My brother has left only a little bit of ground, which is a very small matter. I have a good priory. If you will only make yourself a sub-deacon, as I hope you will, I will resign my priory in your favor; and you will live quite at your ease, after having been the consolation of my old age."
The Huron replied:
"Uncle, much good may it do you; live as long as you can. I do not know what it is to be a sub-deacon, or what it is to resign; but everything will be agreeable to me, provided I have Miss St. Yves at my disposal."
"Good heavens, nephew! what is it you say? Do you love that beautiful young lady so earnestly?"
"Alas! nephew, it is impossible you should ever marry her."
"It is very possible, uncle; for she did not only squeeze my hand when she left me, but she promised she would ask me in marriage. I certainly shall wed her."
"It is impossible, I tell you; she is your godmother. It is a dreadful sin for a godmother to give her hand to her godson. It is contrary to all laws, human and divine."
"Why the deuce, uncle, should it be forbidden to marry one's godmother, when she is young and handsome? I did not find in the book you gave me that it was wrong to marry young women who assisted at christenings. I perceive every day that an infinite number of things are done here which are not in your book, and nothing is done that is said in it. I must acknowledge to you that this astonishes and displeases me. If I am deprived of the charming Miss St. Yves on account of my baptism, I give you notice that I will run away with her and unbaptize myself."
The prior was confounded; his sister wept
"My dear brother," said she, "our nephew must not damn himself; our holy father, the pope, can give him a dispensation, and then he may be happy, in a Christian-like manner, with the person he likes."
The ingenuous Hercules embraced his aunt "For goodness sake," said he, "who is this charming man, who is so gracious as to promote the amours of girls and boys? I will go and speak to him this instant."
The dignity and character of the pope was explained to him, and the Huron was still more astonished than before.
"My dear uncle/' said he, "there is not a word of all this in your book; I have travelled, and am acquainted with the sea; we are now upon the coast of the ocean, and I must leave Miss St. Yves to go and ask leave to marry her of a man who lives toward the Mediterranean, four hundred leagues hence, and whose language I do not understand! This is most incomprehensibly ridiculous! But I will go first to the Abbé St. Yves, who lives only a league hence; and I promise you I will wed my mistress before night."
While he was yet speaking, the bailiff entered, and, according to his usual custom, asked him where he was going?
"I am going to get married," replied the ingenuous Hercules, running along; and in less than a quarter of an hour he was with his charming dear mistress, who was still asleep.
"Ah, my dear brother," said Miss Kerkabon to the prior, "you will never make a subdeacon of our nephew."
The bailiff was very much displeased at this journey, for he laid claim to Miss St. Yves in favor of his son, who was a still greater and more insupportable fool than his father.
the huron flies to his mistress and becomes quite furious.
No sooner had the ingenuous Hercules reached the house, than having asked the old servant which was his mistress* apartment, he forced open the door, which was badly fastened, and flew toward the bed. Miss St. Yves, startled out of her sleep, cried:
"Ah! what; is it you? Stop; what are you about?" He answered:
"I am going to marry."
She opposed him with all the decency of a young lady so well educated; but the Huron did not understand raillery, and found all evasions extremely disagreeable.
"Miss Abacaba, my first mistress," said he, "did not behave in this manner; you have no honesty; you promised me marriage, and you will not marry; this is being deficient in the first laws of honor."
The outcries of the lady brought the sagacious Abbé de St. Yves with his housekeeper, an old devotee servant, and the parish priest. The sight of these moderated the courage of the assailant.
"Good heavens!" cried the abbé; "my dear neighbor, what are you about ?"
"My duty," replied the young man; "I am fulfilling my promises, which are sacred."
Miss St. Yves adjusted herself, not without blushing. The lover was conducted into another apartment. The abbé remonstrated to him on the enormity of his conduct. The Huron defended himself upon the privileges of the law of nature, which he understood perfectly well. The abbé maintained that the law positive should be allowed all its advantages, and that without conventions agreed on between men the law of nature must almost constantly be nothing more than natural felony. Notaries, priests, witnesses, contracts, and dispensations are absolutely necessary.
The ingenuous Hercules made answer with the observation constantly adopted by savages:
"You are then very great rogues, since so many precautions are necessary."
This remark somewhat disconcerted the abbé.
"There are, I acknowledge, libertines and cheats among us, and there would be as many among the Hurons, if they were united in a great city; but, at the same time, we have discreet, honest, enlightened people; and these are the men who have framed the laws. The more upright we are, the more readily we should submit to them, as we thereby set an example to the vicious, who respect those bounds which virtue has given herself."
This answer struck the Huron. It has already been observed that his mind was well disposed. He was softened by flattering speeches, which promised him hopes; all the world is caught in these snares; and Miss St. Yves herself appeared, after having been at her toilet. Everything was now conducted with the utmost good breeding.
It was with much difficulty that Hercules was sent back to his relations. It was again necessary for the charming Miss St. Yves to interfere; the more she perceived the influence she had upon him, the more she loved him. She made him depart, and was much affected at it. At length, when he was gone, the abbé, who was not only Miss St. Yves' elder brother by many years, but was also her guardian, endeavored to wean his ward from the importunities of this dreadful lover. He went to consult the bailiff, who had always intended his son for the abbé's sister, and who advised him to place the poor girl in a convent. This was a terrible stroke. Such a measure would, to a young lady unaffected with any particular passion, have been inexpressible punishment; but to a love-sick maid, equally sagacious and tender, it was despair itself.
When the ingenuous Hercules returned to the prior's, with his usual frankness, he related all that had happened. He met with some remonstrances, which had some effect upon his mind, though none upon his senses; but the next day, when he wanted to return to his mistress, in order to reason with her upon the law of nature and the law of convention, the bailiff acquainted him, with insulting joy, that she was in a convent.
"Very well," said he, "I'll go and reason with her in this convent"
"That cannot be," said the bailiff; and then entered into a long explanation of the nature of a convent, telling him that this word was derived from conventus, in the Latin, which signifies "an assembly" ; and the Huron could not comprehend why he might not be admitted into this assembly. As soon as he was informed that this assembly was a kind of prison, in which girls were shut up, a shocking institution, unknown in Huronia and England, he became as furious as was his patron Hercules when Euritus, king of Œchalia, no less cruel than the abbé of St. Yves, refused him the beauteous Iola, his daughter, not inferior in beauty to the abbé's sister. He was upon the point of going to set fire to the convent to carry off his mistress, or be burned with her. Miss Kerkabon, terrified at such a declaration, gave up all hopes of ever seeing her nephew a subdeacon; and, sadly weeping, she exclaimed: "The devil has certainly been in him since he has been christened."
the huron repulses the english.
The ingenuous Hercules walked toward the sea-coast wrapped in deep and gloomy melancholy, with his double-charged fusee upon his shoulder and his cutlass by his side, shooting now and then a bird, and often tempted to shoot himself; but he had still some affection for life, for the sake of his dear mistress; by turns execrating his uncle and aunt, all Lower Brittany, and his christening; then blessing them, as they had introduced him to the knowledge of her he loved. He resolved upon going to burn the convent, and he stopped short for fear of burning his mistress. The waves of the channel are not more agitated by the easterly and westerly winds than was his heart by so many contrary emotions.
He was walking along very fast, without knowing whither he was going, when he heard the beat of a drum. He saw, at a great distance, a vast multitude, part of whom ran toward the coast, and the other part in the opposite direction.
A thousand shrieks re-echoed on every side. Curiosity and courage hurried him, that instant, toward the spot where the greatest clamor arose, which he attained in a few leaps. The commander of the militia, who had supped with him at the prior's, knew him immediately, and he ran to the Huron with open arms:
"Ah! it is the sincere American: he will fight for us."
Upon which the militia, who were almost dead with fear, recovered themselves, crying with one voice:
"It is the Huron, the ingenuous Huron."
"Gentlemen," said he, "what is the matter ? Why are you frightened ? Have they shut your mistresses up in convents ?"
Instantly a thousand confused voices cried out:
"Do you not see the English, who are landing?"
"Very well," replied the Huron, "they are a brave people; they never proposed making me a subdeacon; they never carried off my mistress."
The commander made him understand that they were coming to pillage the abbé of the mountain, drink his uncle's wine, and perhaps carry off Miss St. Yves; that the little vessel which set him on shore in Brittany had come only to reconnoitre the coast; that they were committing acts of hostility, without having declared war against France; and that the province was entirely exposed to them.
"If this be the case," said he, "they violate the law of nature: let me alone; I lived a long time among them; I am acquainted with their language, and I will speak to them. I cannot think they can have so wicked a design."
During this conversation the English fleet approached ; the Huron ran toward it, and having jumped into a little boat, soon rowed to the admiral's ship, and having gone on board, asked whether it was true that they were come to ravage the coast, without having honestly declared war?
The admiral and all his crew burst out into laughter, made him drink some punch, and sent him back.
The ingenuous Hercules, piqued at this reception, thought of nothing else but beating his old friends for his countrymen and the prior. The gentlemen of the neighborhood ran from all quarters, and joined them; they had some cannon, and he discharged them one after the other. The English landed, and he flew toward them, when he killed three of them with his own hand. He even wounded the admiral, who had made a joke of him. The entire militia were animated with his prowess. The English returned to their ships, and went on board; and the whole coast re-echoed with the shouts of victory, "Live the king! live the ingenuous Hercules!"
Every one ran to embrace him; every one strove to stop the bleeding of some slight wounds he had received.
"Ah I" said he, "if Miss St. Yves were here, she would put on a plaster for me."
The bailiff, who had hid himself in his cellar during the battle, came to pay his compliments like the rest. But he was greatly surprised when he heard the ingenuous Hercules say to a dozen young men, well disposed for his service, who surrounded him:
"My friends, having delivered the abbé of the mountain is nothing; we must rescue a nymph."
The warm blood of these youths was fired at the expression. He was already followed by crowds, who repaired to the convent. If the bailiff had not immediately acquainted the commandant with their design, and he had not sent a detachment after the joyous troop, the thing would have been done. The Huron was conducted back to his uncle and aunt, who overwhelmed him with tears and tenderness.
"I see very well," said his uncle, "that you will never be either a subdeacon or a prior; you will be an officer, and one still braver than my brother the captain, and probably as poor."
Miss Kerkabon could not stop an incessant flood of tears, while she embraced him, saying, "He will be killed, too, like my brother; it were much better he were a subdeacon."
The Huron had, during the battle, picked up a purse full of guineas, which the admiral had probably lost. He did not doubt that this purse would buy all Lower Brittany, and, above all, make Miss St. Yves a great lady. Every one persuaded him to repair to Versailles, to receive the recompense due to his services. The commandant and the principal officers furnished him with certificates in abundance. The uncle and aunt also approved of this journey. He was to be presented to the king without any difficulty. This alone would give him great weight in the province. These two good folks added to the English purse a considerable present out of their savings. The Huron said to himself, "When I see the king, I will ask Miss St. Yves of him in marriage, and certainly he will not refuse me." He set out accordingly, amidst the acclamations of the whole district, stifled with embraces, bathed in tears by his aunt, blessed by his uncle, and recommending himself to the charming Miss St. Yves.
the huron goes to court—sups upon the road with some huguenots.
The ingenuous Hercules took the Saumur road in the coach, because there was at that time no other convenience. When he came to Saumur, he was astonished to find the city almost deserted, and to see several families going away. He was told that, half a dozen years before, Saumur contained upward of fifty thousand inhabitants, and that at present there were not six thousand. He mentioned this at the inn, while at supper. Several Protestants were at table; some complained bitterly, others trembled with rage, others, weeping, said, "Nos dulcia linquimus arva, nos patriam fugimus." The Huron, who did not understand Latin, had these words explained to him, which signified, "We abandon our sweet fields; we fly from our country."
"And why do you fly from your country, gentlemen?"
"Because we must otherwise acknowledge the pope."
"And why not acknowledge him ? You have no godmothers, then, that you want to marry, for I am told it is he that grants this permission."
"Ah! sir, this pope says that he is master of the domains of kings."
"But, gentlemen, what religion are you of?"
"Why, sir, we are for the most part drapers and manufacturers."
"If the pope, then, is not the master of "your clothes and manufactures, you do very well not* to acknowledge him; but as to kings, it is their business, and why do you trouble yourselves about it ?"
Here a little black man took up the argument, and very learnedly set forth the grievances of the company. He talked of the revocation of the edict of Nantes with so much energy; he deplored, in so pathetic a manner, the fate of fifty thousand fugitive families, and of fifty thousand others converted by