305 | To the Earl of Halifax

    Boston Sep. 29. 1764.

    My Lord

    By my Letter of Aug. 181 I informed your Lordship that I was very much pressed by the Indians in the Eastern parts of this Province to provide them a Romish Priest, & that I had many doubts & difficulties about it: also that I intended in a Voyage I was going to take to the Eastward to see the Passimaquoddy & the Penobscot Indians, & talk with them about this business. I am now returned from that Voyage; & what I have observed upon this occasion is the Subject of this letter.

    At Passimaquoddy The chief Indians & allmost the whole tribe were a fishing at such a distance, that I could not wait their return: However I saw 4 or 5 of them; who, tho’ they were not of consequence enough to take upon them to talk upon public business, again & again reminded me of their great want of a priest. I gave them for answer that I must wait for the Kings commands before I could do anything in this business. And I signified the Same to their cheif, (who applied to me for this purpose above a year ago)2 by a Message sent by a Captain of rangers, whom I dispatched with a surveyor & two others, under the direction of these Indians, to explore the Way from Passimaquoddy River to Penobscot.

    At Penobscot I found but few Indians but amongst these one of their cheifs a Man of the first Sense among them.  I had a conference with him; & what related to a Priest I had put down in writing as it was spoke; that I might transmit it with more exactness to your Lordship & also that it might be communicated to the Indians as an Answer to the Message they sent me 2 months ago.3 The next day I had another conference with him which I did not put into writing. In this I used my utmost endeavours to engage them to accept of a Priest of the Church of England, offering to send one to them for the present purpose of baptizing & marrying such as stood in present need of it. But I could make no impression upon him. He said God would be very angry with them, if they should desert the religion he had sent among them. That it was the first they received & they knew it to be good; & it would not be right for them to change their religion as often as the power of the Country changed; God would be much offended with them, if they trifled with his religion in such a manner.

    In the course of these conferences, I took notice of one of the low arts which their priests had used to estrange them from the Government of England. I observed that the Interpreter when he mentioned the King of Great Britain, he called him King James. I asked him the meaning of it: he said that the Indians allways called the King of England King James & that they had done so at all public treaties at some of which he had been present. This was confirmed by another Interpreter who was by & had known the Indians many years. He said it was from James the 1st in whose reign New England was first peopled.4 I was convinced that this distinction could not be derived so high as from James 1st. I therefore asked the Indian why he called the King of England King James. He readily answered that they learnt it from the French who allways called the King of England so. I asked him if by King James he meant the same person as I did by King George. He either did not or would not understand the question. I then askt him if by King James he meant that King who had lately conquered Canada; being pressed for an answer he at lenghth said he did & added that he knew of no other King. So here has been a system of verbal Jacobitism at least (tho’ I suspect it to be more) kept up among the Indians from the revolution to this day.5

    After all I am as much at a loss what to propose as ever. The Indians must have a Priest of some kind or other: if he be a true Romish Priest, He will keep them estranged from & inimical to Great Britain; flatter them with the expectation of a french Revolution; & have them ready to rise upon the least foreign invasion or internal Canadian commotion: & all this by means of their religion. On the other hand[,]6 a Missionary of the Church of England will meet with great difficulties; but I am far from thinking that they will be insurmountable. He will have a safe & convenient residence at Fort Pownall; & by exercising his function in the Chapple there (which I have had built this year) with as much show and form as our Religion will admit of, I am satisfyed that the Indians would by degrees be reconciled to it. I mentioned before, that a french protestant in English orders would be most suitable upon account of his language (which is generally understood by the Penobscot Indians & universally by the Passimaquoddies) as well as of his Nation. But One who has been a Romish priest & has conformed to the Church of England, if he was sincere & discrete, would be more suitable. Canada must afford many such persons: but in general the Priests there are very ignorant & illiterate. Ireland must have such; but he must be Master of the french tongue if not a frenchman.7

    All which is humbly submitted. I am, with great respect My Lord, Your Lordship’s most obedient & most humble Servant.

    Fra. Bernard.

    The Right Honble The Earl of Halifax.

    ALS, RC CO 5/755, ff 123-126.