The Maricheets, mentioned in the said letter form a distinct nation, chiefly settled at St. John’s, and are often confounded with the Abenaquis, so as to pass for one nation with them, though there is certainly some distinction. They used, till lately, to be in a constant state of hostility with the Mickmakis. But, however, these nations may be at peace or variance with one another, in one point they agree, which is a thorough enmity to the English, cultivated, with great application by the missionaries, who add to the scandal of a conduct so contrary to their profession, the baseness of denying or evading the charge by the most pitiful equivocations. It is with the words peace, charity, and universal benevolence, for ever in their mouths, that these incendiaries, by instigations direct and indirect, inflame and excite the savages to commit the cruellest outrages of war, and the blackest acts of treachery. Poor Captain How! is well known to have paid with his life, infamously taken away by them, at a parley, the influence one of these missionaries (now a prisoner in the island of Jersey,) had over these misguided wretches, whose native innocence and simplicity are not proof against the corruption, and artful suggestions of those holy seducers.
It would not, perhaps, be impossible for the English, if they were to apply proper means, and especially lenient ones, to recover the affections of these people, which, for many reasons, cannot be entirely rooted in the French interest. That great state-engine of theirs, religion, by which they have so strong a hold on the weak and credulous savages, might not, however, be an invincible bar to our success, if it was duly counter-worked by the offer of a much more pure and rational one of our own, joined to such temporal advantages as would shew them their situation capable of being much meliorated, in every respect; and especially that of freedom, which they cannot but be sensible, is daily decreasing under the insidious encroachments and blandishments of the French, who never cares but to enslave, nor hug but to stifle, whose pretences, in short, to superior humanity and politeness, are not amongst their least arts of conquest.
As to the letter-writer, he is an abbot much respected in those parts, who has resided the greatest part of his life amongst the Mickmakis, and is perfectly acquainted with their language, in the composing of a Dictionary of which he has labored eighteen or twenty years; but I cannot learn that it is yet published, and probably for reasons of state, it never may. The letter, of which the translation is now given, exists only in a manuscript, having never been printed, being entirely written for the satisfaction of a friend’s curiosity, in relation to the original manners and customs of the people of which it treats, and which, being those of savages in the primitive state of unpolished nature, may perhaps, to a philosophical enquirer, afford more amusement and instruction than those of the most refined societies. What man really is, appears at least plainer in the uncultivated savage, than in the civilized European.