#6 Suicide of the Widowed
     (Baron de Lahontan, 1703)

The Citrons of North-America are so call’d, only because their form resembles that of our Citron. Instead of a Rind, they have only a single Skin. They grow upon a Plant that rises three Foot high, and do’s not bear above three or four at a time. This Fruit [the may apple or mandrake, Podophyllum] is a wholsom as its Root is dangerous; for the one is very Healthy, and the juice of the other is a mortal subtile Poyson. While I stay’d at Fort Frontenac, in the year 1684, I saw an Iroquese Woman take down this fatal Potion, with a design to follow her deceas’d Husband; after she took leave of her Friends, and sung the Death Song, with the Formalities that are usual among these blind Wretches. The Poison quickly work’d the desir’d effect; for this Widdow, who in Europe would be justly look’d upon as a miracle of Constancy and Fidelity, had no sooner swallowed the murdering Juice, than she fell into two or three shivering Fits, and so expir’d.

…The Women have no opportunity of Marriage after the Fiftieth Year of their Age; for the Men of the like Age allege, that since they cannot then bear Children, ‘twould be a piece of Folly to meddle with them; and the young Sparks affirm, that their wither’d Beauty has not force enough to  Charm them, at a time when there is no scarcity of Buxsome young Girles. In this Distress, when the young Men will not use them as Mistresses, and Men of riper Years refuse them for Wives, if their Complexion be any thing Amorous, they are forc’d to adopt some Prisoner of War that is presented them, in order to answer their pressing Necessities.

When the Husband or Wife comes to dye, the Widowhood does not last above six Months; and if in that space of time the Widow or Widower dreams of their deceas’d Bedfellow, they Poyson themselves in cold Blood with all the Contentment imaginable, and at the same time sing a sort of tune that one may safely say proceeds from the Heart. But if the surviving Party dreams but once of the Deceased, they say, that the Spirit Dreams was not sure that the dead Person was uneasie in the Country of Souls, forasmuch as he only pass’d by without returning, and for that reason they think they are not oblig’d to go keep him Company.

[#6] Louis Armand Lom d’Arce, baron de Lahontan, New Voyages to North-America, ed. Reuben Gold Thwaites, Vol. 1, 1703. Chicago, A.C. McClurg, 1905, p. 368.

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#6 Suicide of the Widowed
     (Baron de Lahontan, 1703)

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