Paris, chez Amable Auroy, 1691.
12mo [165 x 89 mm] of (14) ll., 572 pp., (4) pp. of table (that are missing in most of the copies) Bound in contemporary full brown granite-like calf, spine ribbed decorated with gilt fleurons, light-brown morocco lettering-piece, mottled edges.
First edition of this outstanding relation of the first mission of the Recollect Fathers to Canada and New Brunswick, one of the most authentic studies about the Mi’kmaq Indians life. Chadenat 3272 et 6037 ; Brunet, III, 916 ; Harrisse 170 ; Church 717 ; Sabin 39649 ; Leclerc, Bibliotheca Americana, 868.
The account of Father Leclercq provides precious information about those Indians from the Gaspé Peninsula, about their origins, manners, religion, language, laws, traditions, customs and way of life, before the arrival and settlement of Europeans, and also about the origins of the religious history of Canada.
The examples he gives of the Mi’kmaq language are also of high interest. Indeed, as he lived during 12 years among the Mi’kmaqs, Leclercq had learnt their language and got used to their customs. Therefore, his relation can be considered as one of the most reliable guides about Indian life and as one of the best written information sources about the years of formation of the Nouvelle France.
« Very sought-after work and of the utmost scarcity » (Chadenat)
« Chrétien Leclercq, Recollect missionary, was born in Artois towards 1630. His superiors appointed him to go to Canada in 1665, he embarked and on October 27th he went ashore on the Gaspe bay coast, where was Mr Denis’ habitation, the son of the man who had been the governor of Canada. Leclercq learnt the language of the natives and educated them. He was cultivating the mission in Gaspé since 6 years when he was sent to France with a colleague of his to get permission to build a Recollect house in Montreal, which Messrs from Saint-Sulpice owned. The deal was concluded. Leclercq went again to Canada in 1682; he went from La Rochelle to the mouth of the Saint-Laurent River in 30 days, and arrived soon in Quebec. After he went to Montreal with the count de Frontenac, the country’s governor, he went back close to his Gaspesians, and spent few more years in America. Back in France in 1690, he became the guardian of the monastery in Lens. Leclercq’s life among the savages was very difficult; though they were the most docile of those lands and the most capable of knowing the Christianity’s truth, he had made so little progress among them during four years that he was about to give up his work, and he only carried on with it after the exhortations of his superiors from Quebec. He describes well their manners and customs that he had the opportunity to observe during his missions among these people. He doesn’t know how to explain the Cross worship established a long time ago among them. » (Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne, 98).
« Father Le Clercq has left a remarkable record of the labors of his brethren the Recollects, in converting the Pagan tribe of Gaspesian Indians. He not only recorded the results of his own missionary life among the savages inhabiting the shores of the St. Lawrence, but he has left us what has always been considered, an authentic account of their peculiar traits of character, religious rites, and mode of life, before these had been modified by contact with civilization. » (Field).
« In this relation, whose author shows more judgment, fewer prejudices than we could expect from a missionary, the picture of manners, customs, and religious opinions of Gaspesians and other tribes fills the main part: the account of the apostolic works takes second place. » (Boucher de La Richarderie, Bibliothèque universelle des voyages, 21).
A beautiful copy of this authentic account of the first Recollect Fathers mission to Canada, preserved in its contemporary brown granite-like calf binding and complete with the very rare table of chapters.
Only one complete copy with the table of chapters and in a contemporary binding is recorded in ABPC since over 15 years.