As for the religion which the Jesuits taught them, however Protestants may carp at it, it was the only form of Christianity likely to take root in their crude and barbarous nature.
Previously in The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century.
Our special project presenting the definitive account of France in Canada by Francis Parkman, one of America’s greatest historians.
Before passing to the closing scenes of this wilderness drama, we will touch briefly on a few points aside from its main action, yet essential to an understanding of the scope of the mission. Besides their establishments at Quebec, Sillery, Three Rivers, and the neighborhood of Lake Huron, the Jesuits had an outlying post at the island of Miscou, on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, near the entrance of the Bay of Chaleurs, where they instructed the wandering savages of those shores, and confessed the French fishermen. The island was unhealthy in the extreme. Several of the priests sickened and died; and scarcely one convert repaid their toils. There was a more successful mission at Tadoussac, or Sadilege, as the neighboring Indians called it. In winter, this place was a solitude; but in summer, when the Montagnais gathered from their hunting-grounds to meet the French traders, Jesuits came yearly from Quebec to instruct them in the Faith. Sometimes they followed them northward, into wilds where, at this day, a white man rarely penetrates. Thus, in 1646, De Quen ascended the Saguenay, and, by a series of rivers, torrents, lakes, and rapids, reached a Montagnais horde called the Nation of the Porcupine, where he found that the teachings at Tadoussac had borne fruit, and that the converts had planted a cross on the borders of the savage lake where they dwelt. There was a kindred band, the Nation of the White Fish, among the rocks and forests north of Three Rivers. They proved tractable beyond all others, threw away their “medicines” or fetiches, burned their magic drums, renounced their medicine-songs, and accepted instead rosaries, crucifixes, and versions of Catholic hymns.
In a former chapter, we followed Father Paul Le Jeune on his winter roamings, with a band of Montagnais, among the forests on the northern boundary of Maine. Now Father Gabriel Druilletes sets forth on a similar excursion, but with one essential difference. Le Jeune’s companions were heathen, who persecuted him day and night with their gibes and sarcasms. Those of Druilletes were all converts, who looked on him as a friend and a father. There were prayers, confessions, masses, and invocations of St. Joseph. They built their bark chapel at every camp, and no festival of the Church passed unobserved. On Good Friday they laid their best robe of beaver-skin on the snow, placed on it a crucifix, and knelt around it in prayer. What was their prayer? It was a petition for the forgiveness and the conversion of their enemies, the Iroquois.  Those who know the intensity and tenacity of an Indian’s hatred will see in this something more than a change from one superstition to another. An idea had been presented to the mind of the savage, to which he had previously been an utter stranger. This is the most remarkable record of success in the whole body of the Jesuit Relations; but it is very far from being the only evidence, that, in teaching the dogmas and observances of the Roman Church, the missionaries taught also the morals of Christianity. When we look for the results of these missions, we soon become aware that the influence of the French and the Jesuits extended far beyond the circle of converts. It eventually modified and softened the manners of many unconverted tribes. In the wars of the next century we do not often find those examples of diabolic atrocity with which the earlier annals are crowded. The savage burned his enemies alive, it is true, but he rarely ate them; neither did he torment them with the same deliberation and persistency. He was a savage still, but not so often a devil. The improvement was not great, but it was distinct; and it seems to have taken place wherever Indian tribes were in close relations with any respectable community of white men. Thus Philip’s war in New England, cruel as it was, was less ferocious, judging from Canadian experience, than it would have been, if a generation of civilized intercourse had not worn down the sharpest asperities of barbarism. Yet it was to French priests and colonists, mingled as they were soon to be among the tribes of the vast interior, that the change is chiefly to be ascribed. In this softening of manners, such as it was, and in the obedient Catholicity of a few hundred tamed savages gathered at stationary missions in various parts of Canada, we find, after a century had elapsed, all the results of the heroic toil of the Jesuits. The missions had failed, because the Indians had ceased to exist. Of the great tribes on whom rested the hopes of the early Canadian Fathers, nearly all were virtually extinct. The missionaries built laboriously and well, but they were doomed to build on a failing foundation. The Indians melted away, not because civilization destroyed them, but because their own ferocity and intractable indolence made it impossible that they should exist in its presence. Either the plastic energies of a higher race or the servile pliancy of a lower one would, each in its way, have preserved them: as it was, their extinction was a foregone conclusion. As for the religion which the Jesuits taught them, however Protestants may carp at it, it was the only form of Christianity likely to take root in their crude and barbarous nature.
[1: Vimont, Relation, 1645, 16.]
To return to Druilletes. The smoke of the wigwam blinded him; and it is no matter of surprise to hear that he was cured by a miracle. He returned from his winter roving to Quebec in high health, and soon set forth on a new mission. On the River Kennebec, in the present State of Maine, dwelt the Abenaquis, an Algonquin people, destined hereafter to become a thorn in the sides of the New-England colonists. Some of them had visited their friends, the Christian Indians of Sillery. Here they became converted, went home, and preached the Faith to their countrymen, and this to such purpose that the Abenaquis sent to Quebec to ask for a missionary. Apart from the saving of souls, there were solid reasons for acceding to their request. The Abenaquis were near the colonies of New England, — indeed, the Plymouth colony, under its charter, claimed jurisdiction over them; and in case of rupture, they would prove serviceable friends or dangerous enemies to New France.  Their messengers were favorably received; and Druilletes was ordered to proceed upon the new mission.
[2: Charlevoix, I. 280, gives this as a motive of the mission.]
He left Sillery, with a party of Indians, on the twenty-ninth of August, 1646,  and following, as it seems, the route by which, a hundred and twenty-nine years later, the soldiers of Arnold made their way to Quebec, he reached the waters of the Kennebec and descended to the Abenaqui villages. Here he nursed the sick, baptized the dying, and gave such instruction as, in his ignorance of the language, he was able. Apparently he had been ordered to reconnoitre; for he presently descended the river from Norridgewock to the first English trading-post, where Augusta now stands. Thence he continued his journey to the sea, and followed the coast in a canoe to the Penobscot, visiting seven or eight English posts on the way, where, to his surprise, he was very well received. At the Penobscot he found several Capuchin friars, under their Superior, Father Ignace, who welcomed him with the utmost cordiality. Returning, he again ascended the Kennebec to the English post at Augusta. At a spot three miles above the Indians had gathered in considerable numbers, and here they built him a chapel after their fashion. He remained till midwinter, catechizing and baptizing, and waging war so successfully against the Indian sorcerers, that medicine-bags were thrown away, and charms and incantations were supplanted by prayers. In January the whole troop set off on their grand hunt, Druilletes following them, “with toil,” says the chronicler, “too great to buy the kingdoms of this world, but very small as a price for the Kingdom of Heaven.”  They encamped on Moosehead Lake, where new disputes with the “medicine-men” ensued, and the Father again remained master of the field. When, after a prosperous hunt, the party returned to the English trading-house, John Winslow, the agent in charge again received the missionary with a kindness which showed no trace of jealousy or religious prejudice.
[3: Lalemant, Relation, 1647, 51.]
[4: Lalemant, Relation, 1647, 54. For an account of this mission, see also Maurault, Histoire des Abenakis, 116-156.]
[Winslow would scarcely have recognized his own name in the Jesuit spelling, — “Le Sieur de Houinslaud.” In his journal of 1650 Druilletes is more successful in his orthography, and spells it Winslau.]
Early in the summer Druilletes went to Quebec; and during the two following years, the Abenaquis, for reasons which are not clear, were left without a missionary. He spent another winter of extreme hardship with the Algonquins on their winter rovings, and during summer instructed the wandering savages of Tadoussac. It was not until the autumn of 1650 that he again descended the Kennebec. This time he went as an envoy charged with the negotiation of a treaty. His journey is worthy of notice, since, with the unimportant exception of Jogues’s embassy to the Mohawks, it is the first occasion on which the Canadian Jesuits appear in a character distinctly political. Afterwards, when the fervor and freshness of the missions had passed away, they frequently did the work of political agents among the Indians: but the Jesuit of the earlier period was, with rare exceptions, a missionary only; and though he was expected to exert a powerful influence in gaining subjects and allies for France, he was to do so by gathering them under the wings of the Church.
The Colony of Massachusetts had applied to the French officials at Quebec, with a view to a reciprocity of trade. The Iroquois had brought Canada to extremity, and the French Governor conceived the hope of gaining the powerful support of New England by granting the desired privileges on condition of military aid. But, as the Puritans would scarcely see it for their interest to provoke a dangerous enemy, who had thus far never molested them, it was resolved to urge the proposed alliance as a point of duty. The Abenaquis had suffered from Mohawk inroads; and the French, assuming for the occasion that they were under the jurisdiction of the English colonies, argued that they were bound to protect them. Druilletes went in a double character, — as an envoy of the government at Quebec, and as an agent of his Abenaqui flock, who had been advised to petition for English assistance. The time seemed inauspicious for a Jesuit visit to Boston; for not only had it been announced as foremost among the objects in colonizing New England, “to raise a bulwark against the kingdom of Antichrist, which the Jesuits labor to rear up in all places of the world,”  but, three years before, the Legislature of Massachusetts had enacted, that Jesuits entering the colony should be expelled, and if they returned, hanged. 
[5: Considerations for the Plantation in New England. — See Hutchinson, Collection, 27. Mr. Savage thinks that this paper was by Winthrop. See Savage’s Winthrop, I. 360, note.]
[6: See the Act, in Hazard, 550.]
Nevertheless, on the first of September, Druilletes set forth from Quebec with a Christian chief of Sillery, crossed forests, mountains, and torrents, and reached Norridgewock, the highest Abenaqui settlement on the Kennebec. Thence he descended to the English trading-house at Augusta, where his fast friend, the Puritan Winslow, gave him a warm welcome, entertained him hospitably, and promised to forward the object of his mission. He went with him, at great personal inconvenience, to Merrymeeting Bay, where Druilletes embarked in an English vessel for Boston. The passage was stormy, and the wind ahead. He was forced to land at Cape Ann, or, as he calls it, Kepane, whence, partly on foot, partly in boats along the shore, he made his way to Boston. The three-hilled city of the Puritans lay chill and dreary under a December sky, as the priest crossed in a boat from the neighboring peninsula of Charlestown.
– The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, Chapter 22 by Francis Parkman
The below is from Francis Parkman’s Introduction.
If, at times, it may seem that range has been allowed to fancy, it is so in appearance only; since the minutest details of narrative or description rest on authentic documents or on personal observation.
Faithfulness to the truth of history involves far more than a research, however patient and scrupulous, into special facts. Such facts may be detailed with the most minute exactness, and yet the narrative, taken as a whole, may be unmeaning or untrue. The narrator must seek to imbue himself with the life and spirit of the time. He must study events in their bearings near and remote; in the character, habits, and manners of those who took part in them, he must himself be, as it were, a sharer or a spectator of the action he describes.
With respect to that special research which, if inadequate, is still in the most emphatic sense indispensable, it has been the writer’s aim to exhaust the existing material of every subject treated. While it would be folly to claim success in such an attempt, he has reason to hope that, so far at least as relates to the present volume, nothing of much importance has escaped him. With respect to the general preparation just alluded to, he has long been too fond of his theme to neglect any means within his reach of making his conception of it distinct and true.