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them. To this Brébeuf replied by "drawing the attention of the savages to the absurdity of their principles." He admitted[1] the premise that nothing had turned out well in the tribe since his arrival. "But the reason," said he, "plainly is that God be angry with your hardness of heart." No sooner had the good father thus demonstrated the absurdity of savage principles of reasoning, than the malignant Huron wizard fell down dead at his feet! This event naturally added to the confusion of the savages.

Coincidences of this sort have a great effect on savage minds. Catlin, the friend of the Mandan tribe, mentions a chief who consolidated his power by aid of a little arsenic, bought from the whites. The chief used to prophesy the sudden death of his opponents, which always occurred at the time indicated. The natural results of the administration of arsenic were attributed by the barbarous people to supernatural powers in the possession of the chief.[2] Thus the philosophy of savages seeks causas cognoscere rerum, like the philosophy of civilised men, but it flies hastily to a hypothesis of supernatural causes which are only guessed at, and are incapable of demonstration. This frame of mind prevails still in civilised countries, as the Bishop of Nantes showed when, in 1846, he attributed the floods of the Loire to "the excesses of the press and the general disregard of Sunday." That supernatural causes exist and may operate, it is not at all our intention to deny. But the habit of looking everywhere for such causes, and of assuming

  1. Vol. i. p. 192.
  2. Catlin, Letters, ii. 117.