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France and England in North America, a Series of Historical Narratives, Part Third by Francis Parkman

Part 2 out of 6

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Early in the morning, they embarked again, and proceeded to a village of
the Arkansas tribe, about eight leagues below. Notice of their coming was
sent before them by their late hosts; and, as they drew near, they were
met by a canoe, in the prow of which stood a naked personage, holding a
calumet, singing, and making gestures of friendship. On reaching the
village, which was on the east side, [Footnote: A few years later, the
Arkansas were all on the west side.] opposite the mouth of the river
Arkansas, they were conducted to a sort of scaffold before the lodge of
the war-chief. The space beneath had been prepared for their reception,
the ground being neatly covered with rush mats. On these they were seated;
the warriors sat around them in a semi-circle; then the elders of the
tribe; and then the promiscuous crowd of villagers, standing, and staring
over the heads of the more dignified members of the assembly. All the men
were naked; but, to compensate for the lack of clothing, they wore strings
of beads in their noses and ears. The women were clothed in shabby skins,
and wore their hair clumped in a mass behind each ear. By good luck, there
was a young Indian in the village, who had an excellent knowledge of
Illinois; and through him Marquette endeavored to explain the mysteries of
Christianity, and to gain information concerning the river below. To this
end he gave his auditors the presents indispensable on such occasions, but
received very little in return. They told him that the Mississippi was
infested by hostile Indians, armed with guns procured from white men; and
that they, the Arkansas, stood in such fear of them that they dared not
hunt the buffalo, but were forced to live on Indian corn, of which they
raised three crops a year.

During the speeches on either side, food was brought in without ceasing;
sometimes a platter of sagamite or mush; sometimes of corn boiled whole;
sometimes a roasted dog. The villagers had large earthen pots and
platters, made by themselves with tolerable skill,--as well as hatchets,
knives, and beads, gained by traffic with the Illinois and other tribes in
contact with the French or Spaniards. All day there was feasting without
respite, after the merciless practice of Indian hospitality; but at night
some of their entertainers proposed to kill and plunder them,--a scheme
which was defeated by the vigilance of the chief, who visited their
quarters, and danced the calumet dance to reassure his guests.

The travellers now held counsel as to what course they should take. They
had gone far enough, as they thought, to establish one important point,--
that the Mississippi discharged its waters, not into the Atlantic or sea
of Virginia, nor into the Gulf of California or Vermilion Sea, but into
the Gulf of Mexico. They thought themselves nearer to its mouth than they
actually were,--the distance being still about seven hundred miles; and
they feared that, if they went farther, they might be killed by Indians or
captured by Spaniards, whereby the results of their discovery would be
lost. Therefore they resolved to return to Canada, and report what they
had seen.

They left the Arkansas village, and began their homeward voyage on the
seventeenth of July. It was no easy task to urge their way upward, in the
heat of midsummer, against the current of the dark and gloomy stream,
toiling all day under the parching sun, and sleeping at night in the
exhalations of the unwholesome shore, or in the narrow confines of their
birchen vessels, anchored on the river. Marquette was attacked with
dysentery. Languid and well-nigh spent, he invoked his celestial mistress.
as day after day, and week after week, they won their slow way northward.
At length they reached the Illinois, and, entering its mouth, followed its
course, charmed, as they went, with its placid waters, its shady forests,
and its rich plains, grazed by the bison and the deer. They stopped at a
spot soon to be made famous in the annals of western discovery. This was a
village of the Illinois, then called Kaskaskia,--a name afterwards
transferred to another locality. [Footnote: Marquette says that it
consisted at this time of seventy-four lodges. These, like the Huron and
Iroquois lodges, contained each several fires and several families. This
village was about seven miles below the site of the present town of
Ottawa.] A chief, with a band of young warriors, offered to guide them to
the Lake of the Illinois; that is to say, Lake Michigan. Thither they
repaired; and, coasting its shores, reached Green Bay at the end of
September, after an absence of about four months, during which they had
paddled their canoes somewhat more than two thousand five hundred miles.
[Footnote: The journal of Marquette, first published in an imperfect form
by Thevenot, in 1681, has been reprinted by Mr. Lenox, under the direction
of Mr. Shea, from the manuscript preserved in the archives of the Canadian
Jesuits. It will also be found in Shea's _Discovery and Exploration of the
Mississippi Valley_, and the _Relations Inédites_, of Martin. The true map
of Marquette accompanies all these publications. The map published by
Thevenot and reproduced by Bancroft is not Marquette's.

The original of this, of which I have a fac-simile, bears the title _Carte
de la Nouvelle Découverte que les Pères Jésuites out fait en l'année 1672,
et continuée par le Père Jacques Marquette, etc_. The return route of the
expedition is incorrectly laid down on it. A manuscript map of the Jesuit
Raffeix, preserved in the Bibliothèque Impériale, is more accurate in this
particular. I have also another contemporary manuscript map, indicating
the various Jesuit stations in the west at this time, and representing the
Mississippi, as discovered by Marquette. For these and other maps, see

Marquette remained, to recruit his exhausted strength; but Joliet
descended to Quebec, to bear the report of his discovery to Count
Frontenac. Fortune had wonderfully favored him on his long and perilous
journey; but now she abandoned him on the very threshold of home. At the
foot of the rapids of La Chine, and immediately above Montreal, his canoe
was overset, two of his men and an Indian boy were drowned, all his papers
were lost, and he himself narrowly escaped. [Footnote: _Lettre de
Frontenac au Ministre, Québec_, 14 _Nov._ 1674, MS.] In a letter to
Frontenac, he speaks of the accident as follows: "I had escaped every
peril from the Indians; I had passed forty-two rapids; and was on the
point of disembarking, full of joy at the success of so long and difficult
an enterprise,--when my canoe capsized, after all the danger seemed over.
I lost two men, and my box of papers, within sight of the first French
settlements, which I had left almost two years before. Nothing remains to
me but my life, and the ardent desire to employ it on any service which
you may please to direct." [Footnote: This letter is appended to Joliet's
smaller map of his discoveries. See Appendix. Joliet applied for a grant
of the countries he had visited, but failed to obtain it, because the king
wished at this time to confine the inhabitants of Canada to productive
industry within the limits of the colony, and to restrain their tendency
to roam into the western wilderness. On the seventh of October, 1675,
Joliet married Claire Bissot, daughter of a wealthy Canadian merchant,
engaged in trade with the northern Indians. This drew Joliet's attention
to Hudson's Bay, and he made a journey thither in 1679, by way of the
Saguenay. He found three English forts on the bay, occupied by about sixty
men, who had also an armed vessel of twelve guns and several small
trading-craft. The English held out great inducements to Joliet to join
them; but he declined, and returned to Quebec, where he reported that,
unless these formidable rivals were dispossessed, the trade of Canada
would be ruined. In consequence of this report, some of the principal
merchants of the colony formed a company to compete with the English in
the trade of Hudson's Bay. In the year of this journey, Joliet received a
grant of the islands of Mignan; and in the following year, 1680, he
received another grant, of the great island of Anticosti in the lower St.
Lawrence. In 1681, he was established here with his wife and six servants.
He was engaged in fisheries; and, being a skilful navigator and surveyor,
he made about this time a chart of the St. Lawrence. In 1690, Sir William
Phips, on his way with an English fleet to attack Quebec, made a descent
on Joliet's establishment, burnt his buildings, and took prisoners his
wife and his mother-in-law. In 1694, Joliet explored the coasts of
Labrador under the auspices of a company formed for the whale and seal
fishery. On his return, Frontenac made him royal pilot for the St.
Lawrence; and at about the same time he received the appointment of
hydrographer at Quebec. He died, apparently poor, in 1699 or 1700, and was
buried on one of the islands of Mignan. The discovery of the above facts
is due in great part to the researches of Margry.]

Marquette spent the winter and the following summer at the mission of
Green Bay, still suffering from his malady. In the autumn, however, it
abated, and he was permitted by his superior to attempt the execution of a
plan to which he was devotedly attached,--the founding, at the principal
town of the Illinois, of a mission to be called the Immaculate Conception,
a name which he had already given to the river Mississippi; He set out on
this errand on the twenty-fifth of October, accompanied by two men, named
Pierre and Jacques, one of whom had been with him on his great journey of
discovery. A band of Pottawattamies and another band of Illinois also
joined him. The united parties--ten canoes in all--followed the east shore
of Green Bay as far as the inlet then called Sturgeon Cove, from the head
of which they crossed by a difficult portage through the forest to the
shore of Lake Michigan. November had come. The bright hues of the autumn
foliage were changed to rusty brown. The shore was desolate, and the lake
was stormy. They were more than a month in coasting its western border,
when at length they reached the river Chicago, entered it, and ascended
about two leagues. Marquette's disease had lately returned, and hemorrhage
now ensued. He told his two companions that this journey would be his
last. In the condition in which he was, it was impossible to go farther.
The two men built a log-hut by the river, and here they prepared to spend
the winter, while Marquette, feeble as he was, began the spiritual
exercises of Saint Ignatius, and confessed his two companions twice a

Meadow, marsh, and forest were sheeted with snow, but game was abundant.
Pierre and Jacques killed buffalo and deer and shot wild turkeys close to
their hut. There was an encampment of Illinois within two days' journey;
and other Indians, passing by this well known thoroughfare, occasionally
visited them, treating the exiles kindly, and sometimes bringing them game
and Indian corn. Eighteen leagues distant was the camp of two adventurous
French traders,--one of them a noted _coureur de bois_, nicknamed La
Taupine, [Footnote: Pierre Moreau, _alias_ La Taupine, was afterwards
bitterly complained of by the Intendant Duchesneau for acting as the
Governor's agent in illicit trade with the Indians.] and the other a self-
styled surgeon. They also visited Marquette, and befriended him to the
best of their power.

Urged by a burning desire to lay, before he died, the foundation of his
new mission of the Immaculate Conception, Marquette begged his two
followers to join him in a _novena_, or nine days' devotion to the Virgin.
In consequence of this, as he believed, his disease relented; he began to
regain strength, and, in March, was able to resume the journey. On the
thirtieth of the month, they left their hut, which had been inundated by a
sudden rise of the river, and carried their canoe through mud and water
over the portage which led to the head of the Des Plaines. Marquette knew
the way, for he had passed by this route on his return from the
Mississippi. Amid the rains of opening spring, they floated down the
swollen current of the Des Plaines, by naked woods, and spongy, saturated
prairies, till they reached its junction with the main stream of the
Illinois, which they descended to their destination,--the Indian town
which Marquette calls Kaskaskia. Here, as we are told, he was received
"like an angel from Heaven." He passed from wigwam to wigwam, telling the
listening crowds of God and the Virgin, Paradise and Hell, angels and
demons; and, when he thought their minds prepared, he summoned them all to
a grand council.

It took place near the town, on the great meadow which lies between the
river and the modern village of Utica. Here five hundred chiefs and old
men were seated in a ring; behind stood fifteen hundred youths and
warriors, and behind these again all the women and children of the
village. Marquette, standing in the midst, displayed four large pictures
of the Virgin; harangued the assembly on the mysteries of the Faith, and
exhorted them to adopt it. The temper of his auditory met his utmost
wishes. They begged him to stay among them and continue his instructions;
but his life was fast ebbing away, and it behooved him to depart.

A few days after Easter he left the village, escorted by a crowd of
Indians, who followed him as far as Lake Michigan. Here he embarked with
his two companions. Their destination was Michillimackinac, and their
course lay along the eastern borders of the lake. As, in the freshness of
advancing spring, Pierre and Jacques urged their canoe along that lonely
and savage shore, the priest lay with dimmed sight and prostrated
strength, communing with the Virgin, and the angels. On the nineteenth of
May he felt that his hour was near; and, as they passed the mouth of a
small river, he requested his companions to land. They complied, built a
shed of bark on a rising ground near the bank, and carried thither the
dying Jesuit. With perfect cheerfulness and composure he gave directions
for his burial, asked their forgiveness for the trouble he had caused
them, administered to them the sacrament of penitence, and thanked God
that he was permitted to die in the wilderness, a missionary of the faith
and a member of the Jesuit brotherhood. At night, seeing that they were
fatigued, he told them to take rest,--saying that he would call them when
he felt his time approaching. Two or three hours after, they heard a
feeble voice, and, hastening to his side, found him at the point of death.
He expired calmly, murmuring the names of Jesus and Mary, with his eyes
fixed on the crucifix which one of his followers held before him. They dug
a grave beside the hut, and here they buried him according to the
directions which he had given them; then re-embarking, they made their way
to Michillimackinac, to bear the tidings to the priests at the mission of
St. Ignace. [Footnote: The contemporary _Relation_ tells us that a miracle
took place at the burial of Marquette. One of the two Frenchmen, overcome
with grief and colic, bethought him of applying a little earth from the
grave to the seat of pain. This at once restored him to health and

In the winter of 1676, a party of Kiskakon Ottawas were hunting on Lake
Michigan; and when, in the following spring, they prepared to return home,
they bethought them, in accordance with an Indian custom, of taking with
them the bones of Marquette, who had been their instructor at the mission
of St. Esprit. They repaired to the spot, found the grave, opened it,
washed and dried the bones and placed them carefully in a box of birch-
bark. Then, in a procession of thirty canoes, they bore it, singing their
funeral songs, to St. Ignace of Michillimackinac. As they approached,
priests, Indians, and traders all thronged to the shore. The relics of
Marquette were received with solemn ceremony, and buried beneath the floor
of the little chapel of the mission. [Footnote: For Marquette's death, see
the contemporary _Relation_, published by Shea, Lenox, and Martin, with
the accompanying _Lettre et Journal_. The river where he died is a small
stream in the west of Michigan, some distance south of the promontory
called the "Sleeping Bear." It long bore his name, which is now borne by a
larger neighboring stream. Charlevoix's account of Marquette's death is
derived from tradition, and is not supported by the contemporary
narrative. The _voyageurs_ on Lake Michigan long continued to invoke the
intercession of the departed missionary in time of danger.

In 1847, the missionary of the Algonquins at the Lake of Two Mountains,
above Montreal, wrote down a tradition of the death of Marquette, from the
lips of an old Indian woman, born in 1777, at Michillimackinac. Her
ancestress had been baptized by the subject of the story. The tradition
has a resemblance to that related as fact by Charlevoix. The old squaw
said that the Jesuit was returning, very ill, to Michillimackinac, when a
storm forced him and his two men to land near a little river. Here he told
them that he should die, and directed them to ring a bell over his grave
and plant a cross. They all remained four days at the spot; and, though
without food, the men felt no hunger. On the night of the fourth day he
died, and the men buried him as he had directed. On waking in the morning,
they saw a sack of Indian corn, a quantity of lard, and some biscuits,
miraculously sent to them in accordance with the promise of Marquette, who
had told them that they should have food enough for their journey to
Michillimackinac. At the same instant, the stream began to rise, and in a
few moments encircled the grave of the Jesuit, which formed, thenceforth,
an islet in the waters. The tradition adds, that an Indian battle
afterwards took place on the banks of this stream, between Christians and
infidels; and that the former gained the victory in consequence of
invoking the name of Marquette. This story bears the attestation of the
priest of the Two Mountains, that it is a literal translation of the
tradition, as recounted by the old woman.

It has been asserted that the Illinois country was visited by two priests,
some time before the visit of Marquette. This assertion was first made by
M. Noiseux, late Grand Vicar of Quebec, who gives no authority for it. Not
the slightest indication of any such visit appears in any contemporary
document or map thus far discovered. The contemporary writers, down to the
time of Marquette and La Salle, all speak of the Illinois as an unknown
country. The entire groundlessness of Noiseux's assertion is shown by Shea
in a paper in the "Weekly Herald," of New York, April 21, 1855.]



We turn from the humble Marquette, thanking God with his last breath that
he died for his Order and his faith; and by our side stands the masculine
form of Cavelier de la Salle. Prodigious was the contrast between the two
discoverers: the one, with clasped hands and upturned eyes, seems a figure
evoked from some dim legend of mediaeval saintship; the other, with feet
firm planted on the hard earth, breathes the self-relying energies of
modern practical enterprise. Nevertheless, La Salle was a man wedded to
ideas, and urged by the steady and considerate enthusiasm, which is the
life-spring of heroic natures. Three thoughts, rapidly developing in his
mind, were mastering him, and engendering an invincible purpose. First, he
would achieve that which Champlain had vainly attempted, and of which our
own generation has but now seen the accomplishment,--the opening of a
passage to India and China across the American continent. Next, he would
occupy the Great West, develop its commercial resources, and anticipate
the Spaniards and the English in the possession of it. Thirdly,--for he
soon became convinced that the Mississippi discharged itself into the Gulf
of Mexico,--he would establish a fortified post at its mouth, thus
securing an outlet for the trade of the interior, checking the progress of
the Spaniards, and forming a base, whence, in time of war, their northern
provinces could be invaded and conquered.

Here were vast projects, projects perhaps beyond the scope of private
enterprise, conceived and nursed in the brain of a penniless young man.
Two conditions were indispensable to their achievement. The first was the
countenance of the Canadian authorities, and the second was money. There
was but one mode of securing either, to appeal to the love of gain of
those who could aid the enterprise. Count Frontenac had no money to give;
but he had what was no less to the purpose, the resources of an arbitrary
power, which he was always ready to use to the utmost. From the manner in
which he mentions La Salle in his despatches, it seems that the latter
succeeded in gaining his confidence very soon after he entered upon his
government. There was a certain similarity between the two men. Both were
able, resolute, and enterprising. The irascible and fiery pride of the
noble found its match in the reserved and seemingly cold pride of the
ambitious young burgher. Their temperaments were different, but the bases
of their characters were alike, and each could perfectly comprehend the
other. They had, moreover, strong prejudices and dislikes in common. With
his ruined fortune, his habits of expenditure, the exigent demands of his
rank and station, and the wretched pittance which he received from the
king of three thousand francs a year, Frontenac was not the man to let
slip any reasonable opportunity of bettering his condition. [Footnote:
That he engaged in the fur-trade, was notorious. In a letter to the
Minister Seignelay, 13 Oct. 1681, Duchesneau, Intendant of Canada,
declares that Frontenac used all the authority of his office to favor
those interested in trade with him, and that he would favor nobody else.
The Intendant himself had a rival interest in the same trade.] La Salle
seems to have laid his plans before him as far as he had at this time
formed them, and a complete understanding was established between them.
Here was a great point gained. The head of the colony was on his side. It
remained to raise money, and this was a harder task. La Salle's relations
were rich, evidently proud of him, and anxious for his advancement. As his
schemes developed, they supplied him with means to pursue them, and one of
them in particular, his cousin François Plet, became largely interested in
his enterprises. [Footnote: _Papiers de Famille_, MSS.] Believing
that his projects, if carried into effect, would prove a source of immense
wealth to all concerned in them, and gifted with a rare power of
persuasion when he chose to use it, La Salle addressed himself to various
merchants and officials of the colony, and induced some of them to become
partners in his adventure. But here we are anticipating. Clearly to
understand his position, we must revert to the first year of Frontenac's

No sooner had that astute official set foot in the colony than, with an
eagle eye, he surveyed the situation, and quickly comprehended it. It was
somewhat peculiar. Canada lived on the fur-trade, a species of commerce
always liable to disorders, and which had produced, among other results, a
lawless body of men known as _coureurs de bois_, who followed the Indians
in their wanderings, and sometimes became as barbarous as their red
associates. The order-loving king who swayed the destinies of France,
taking umbrage at these irregularities, had issued mandates intended to
repress the evil, by prohibiting the inhabitants of Canada from leaving
the limits of the settled country; and requiring the trade to be carried
on, not in the distant wilderness, but within the bounds of the colony.
The civil and military officers of the crown, charged with the execution
of these ordinances, showed a sufficient zeal in enforcing them against
others, while they themselves habitually violated them; hence, a singular
confusion, with abundant outcries, complaint, and recrimination. Prominent
among these officials was Perrot, Governor of Montreal, who must not be
confounded with Nicolas Perrot, the _voyageur_. The Governor of Montreal,
though subordinate to the Governor-General, held great and arbitrary power
within his own jurisdiction. Perrot had married a niece of Talon, the late
Intendant, to whose influence he owed his place. Confiding in this
powerful protection, he gave free rein to his headstrong-temper, and
carried his government with a high hand, berating and abusing anybody who
ventured to remonstrate. The grave fathers of St. Sulpice, owners of
Montreal, were the more scandalized at the behavior of their military
chief, by reason of a certain burlesque and gasconading vein which often
appeared in him, and which they regarded as unseemly levity. [Footnote:
Perrot received his appointment from the Seminary of St. Sulpice, on
Talon's recommendation, but he afterwards applied for and gained a royal
commission, which, as he thought, made him independent of the priests.]

Perrot, through his wife's uncle, had obtained a grant of the Island above
Montreal, which still bears his name. Here he established a trading house
which he placed in charge of an agent, one Brucy, who, by a tempting
display of merchandise and liquors, intercepted the Indians on their
yearly descent to trade with the French, and thus got possession of their
furs, in anticipation of the market of Montreal. Not satisfied with this,
Perrot, in defiance of the royal order, sent men into the woods to trade
with the Indians in their villages, and it is said even used his soldiers
for this purpose, under cover of pretended desertion. [Footnote: The
original papers relating to the accusations against Perrot are still
preserved in the ancient records of Montreal.] The rage of the merchants
of Montreal may readily be conceived, and when Frontenac heard of the
behavior of his subordinate he was duly incensed.

It seems, however, to have occurred, or to have been suggested to him,
that he, the Governor-General might repeat the device of Perrot on a
larger scale and with more profitable results. By establishing a fortified
trading post on Lake Ontario, the whole trade of the upper country might
be engrossed, with the exception of that portion of it which descended by
the river Ottawa, and even this might in good part be diverted from its
former channel. At the same time, a plan of a fort on Lake Ontario might
be made to appear as of great importance to the welfare of the colony; and
in fact, from one point of view, it actually was so. Courcelles, the late
governor, had already pointed out its advantages. Such a fort would watch
and hold in check the Iroquois, the worst enemy of Canada; and, with the
aid of a few small vessels, it would intercept the trade which the upper
Indians were carrying on through the Iroquois country with the English and
Dutch of New York. Frontenac learned from La Salle that the English were
intriguing both with the Iroquois and with the tribes of the Upper Lakes,
to induce them to break the peace with the French, and bring their furs to
New York. [Footnote: _Lettre de Frontenac à Colbert_, 13 _Nov_. 1678.]
Hence the advantages, not to say the necessity, of a fort on Lake Ontario
were obvious. But, while it would turn a stream of wealth from the English
to the French colony, it was equally clear that the change might be made
to inure, not to the profit of Canada at large, but solely to that of
those who had control of the fort; or, in other words, that the new
establishment might become an instrument of a grievous monopoly. This
Frontenac and La Salle well understood, and there can be no reasonable
doubt that they aimed at securing such a monopoly: but the merchants of
Canada understood it, also; and hence they regarded with distrust any
scheme of a fort on Lake Ontario.

Frontenac, therefore, thought it expedient "to make use," as he expresses
it, "of address." He gave out merely that he intended to make a tour
through the upper parts of the colony with an armed force, in order to
inspire the Indians with respect, and secure a solid peace. He had neither
troops, money, munitions, nor means of transportation; yet there was no
time to lose, for should he delay the execution of his plan it might be
countermanded by the king. His only resource, therefore, was in a prompt
and hardy exertion of the royal authority; and he issued an order
requiring the inhabitants of Quebec, Montreal, Three Rivers, and other
settlements to furnish him, at their own cost, as soon as the spring
sowing should be over, with a certain number of armed men besides the
requisite canoes. At the same time, he invited the officers settled in the
country to join the expedition, an invitation which, anxious as they were
to gain his good graces, few of them cared to decline. Regardless of
murmurs and discontent, he pushed his preparation vigorously, and on the
third of June left Quebec with his guard, his staff, a part of the
garrison of the Castle of St. Louis, and a number of volunteers. He had
already sent to La Salle, who was then at Montreal, directing him to
repair to Onondaga, the political centre of the Iroquois, and invite their
sachems to meet the Governor in council at the Bay of Quinté on the north
of Lake Ontario. La Salle had set out on his mission, but first sent
Frontenac a map, which convinced him that the best site for his proposed
fort was the mouth of the Cataraqui, where Kingston now stands. Another
messenger was accordingly despatched, to change the rendezvous to this

Meanwhile, the Governor proceeded, at his leisure, towards Montreal,
stopping by the way to visit the officers settled along the bank, who,
eager to pay their homage to the newly risen sun, received him with a
hospitality, which, under the roof of a log hut, was sometimes graced by
the polished courtesies of the salon and the boudoir. Reaching Montreal,
which he had never before seen, he gazed we may suppose with some interest
at the long row of humble dwellings which lined the bank, the massive
buildings of the seminary, and the spire of the church predominant over
all. It was a rude scene, but the greeting that awaited him savored
nothing of the rough simplicity of the wilderness. Perrot, the local
governor, was on the shore with his soldiers and the inhabitants, drawn up
under arms, and firing a salute, to welcome the representative of the
king. Frontenac was compelled to listen to a long harangue from the Judge
of the place, followed by another from the Syndic. Then there was a solemn
procession to the church, where he was forced to undergo a third effort of
oratory from one of the priests. _Te Deum_ followed, in thanks for his
arrival, and then he took refuge in the fort. Here he remained thirteen
days, busied with his preparations, organizing the militia, soothing their
mutual jealousies, and settling knotty questions of rank and precedence.
During this time every means, as he declares, was used to prevent him from
proceeding, and among other devices a rumor was set on foot that a Dutch
fleet, having just captured Boston, was on its way to attack Quebec.
[Footnote: _Lettre de Frontenac à Colbert_, 13 _Nov_. 1673, MS. This
rumor, it appears, originated with the Jesuit Dablon.--_Journal du Voyage
du Comte de Frontenac au Lac Ontario_. MS. The Jesuits were greatly
opposed to the establishment of forts and trading posts in the upper
country, for reasons that will appear hereafter.]

Having sent men, canoes, and baggage, by land, to La Salle's old
settlement of La Chine, Frontenac himself followed on the twenty-eighth of
June. He now had with him about four hundred men, including Indians from
the missions, and a hundred and twenty canoes, besides two large
flatboats, which he caused to be painted in red and blue, with strange
devices, intended to dazzle the Iroquois by a display of unwonted
splendor. Now their hard task began. Shouldering canoes through the
forest, dragging the flatboats along the shore, working like beavers,
sometimes in water to the knees, sometimes to the armpits, their feet cut
by the sharp stones, and they themselves well nigh swept down by the
furious current, they fought their way upward against the chain of mighty
rapids that break the navigation of the St. Lawrence. The Indians were of
the greatest service. Frontenac, like La Salle, showed from the first a
special faculty of managing them; for his keen, incisive spirit was
exactly to their liking, and they worked for him as they would have worked
for no man else. As they approached the Long Saut, rain fell in torrents,
and the Governor, without his cloak, and drenched to the skin, directed in
person the amphibious toil of his followers. Once, it is said, he lay
awake all night, in his anxiety lest the biscuit should be wet, which
would have ruined the expedition. No such mischance took place, and at
length the last rapid was passed, and smooth water awaited them to their
journey's end. Soon they reached the Thousand Islands, and their light
flotilla glided in long file among those watery labyrinths, by rocky
islets, where some lonely pine towered like a mast against the sky; by
sun-scorched crags, where the brown lichens crisped in the parching glare;
by deep dells, shady and cool, rich in rank ferns, and spongy, dark green
mosses; by still coves, where the water-lilies lay like snow-flakes on
their broad, flat leaves; till at length they neared their goal, and the
glistening bosom of Lake Ontario opened on their sight.

Frontenac, to impose respect on the Iroquois, now set his canoes in order
of battle. Four divisions formed the first line, then, came the two
flatboats; he himself, with his guards, his staff, and the gentlemen
volunteers, followed, with the canoes of Three Rivers on his right, and
those of the Indians on his left, while two remaining divisions formed a
rear line. Thus, with measured paddles, they advanced over the still lake,
till they saw a canoe approaching to meet them. It bore several Iroquois
chiefs, who told them that the dignitaries of their nation awaited them at
Cataraqui, and offered to guide them to the spot. They entered the wide
mouth of the river, and passed along the shore, now covered by the quiet
little city of Kingston, till they reached the point at present occupied
by the barracks, at the western end of Cataraqui bridge. Here they
stranded their canoes and disembarked. Baggage was landed, fires lighted,
tents pitched, and guards set. Close at hand, under the lee of the forest,
were the camping sheds of the Iroquois, who had come to the rendezvous in
considerable numbers.

At daybreak of the next morning, the thirteenth of July, the drums beat,
and the whole party were drawn up under arms. A double line of men
extended from the front of Frontenac's tent to the Indian camp, and
through the lane thus formed, the savage deputies, sixty in number,
advanced to the place of council. They could not hide their admiration at
the martial array of the French, many of whom were old soldiers of the
Regiment of Carignan, and when they reached the tent, they ejaculated
their astonishment at the uniforms of the Governor's guard who surrounded
it. Here the ground had been carpeted with the sails of the flatboats, on
which the deputies squatted themselves in a ring and smoked their pipes
for a time with their usual air of deliberate gravity, while Frontenac,
who sat surrounded by his officers, had full leisure to contemplate the
formidable adversaries whose mettle was hereafter to put his own to so
severe a test. A chief named Garakontié, a noted friend of the French, at
length opened the council, in behalf of all the five Iroquois nations,
with expressions of great respect and deference towards "Onontio"; that is
to say, the Governor of Canada. Whereupon Frontenac, whose native
arrogance, where Indians were concerned, always took a form which imposed
respect without exciting anger, replied in the following strain:--

"Children! Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. I am glad to
see you here, where I have had a fire lighted for you to smoke by, and for
me to talk to you. You have done well, my children, to obey the command of
your Father. Take courage; you will hear his word, which is full of peace
and tenderness. For do not think that I have come for war. My mind is full
of peace, and she walks by my side. Courage, then, children, and take

With that, he gave them six fathoms of tobacco, reiterated his assurances
of friendship, promised that he would be a kind father so long as they
should be obedient children, regretted that he was forced to speak through
an interpreter, and ended with a gift of guns to the men, and prunes and
raisins to their wives and children. Here closed this preliminary meeting,
the great council being postponed to another day.

During the meeting, Raudin, Frontenac's engineer, was tracing out the
lines of a fort, after a predetermined plan, and the whole party, under
the direction of their officers, now set themselves to construct it. Some
cut down trees, some dug the trenches, some hewed the palisades; and with
such order and alacrity was the work urged on, that the Indians were lost
in astonishment. Meanwhile, Frontenac spared no pains to make friends of
the chiefs, some of whom he had constantly at his table. He fondled the
Iroquois children, and gave them bread and sweetmeats, and, in the
evening, feasted the squaws, to make them dance. The Indians were
delighted with these attentions, and conceived a high opinion of the new

On the seventeenth, when the construction of the fort was well advanced,
Frontenac called the chiefs to a grand council, which was held with all
possible state and ceremony. His dealing with the Indians, on this and
other occasions, was truly admirable. Unacquainted as he was with them, he
seems to have had an instinctive perception of the treatment they
required. His predecessors had never ventured to address the Iroquois as
"Children," but had always styled them "Brothers"; and yet the assumption
of paternal authority on the part of Frontenac was not only taken in good
part, but was received with apparent gratitude. The martial nature of the
man, his clear decisive speech, and his frank and downright manner, backed
as they were by a display of force which in their eyes was formidable,
struck them with admiration, and gave tenfold effect to his words of
kindness. They thanked him for that which from another they would not have

Frontenac began by again expressing his satisfaction that they had obeyed
the commands of their Father, and come to Cataraqui to hear what he had to
say. Then he exhorted them to embrace Christianity; and on this theme he
dwelt at length, in words excellently adapted to produce the desired
effect; words which it would be most superfluous to tax as insincere,
though, doubtless, they lost nothing in emphasis, because in this instance
conscience and policy aimed alike. Then, changing his tone, he pointed to
his officers, his guard, the long files of the militia, and the two
flatboats, mounted with cannon, which lay in the river near by. "If," he
said, "your Father can come so far, with so great a force, through such
dangerous rapids, merely to make you a visit of pleasure and friendship,
what would he do, if you should awaken his anger, and make it necessary
for him to punish his disobedient children? He is the arbiter of peace and
war. Beware how you offend him." And he warned them not to molest the
Indian allies of the French, telling them, sharply, that he would chastise
them for the least infraction of the peace.

From threats he passed to blandishments, and urged them to confide in his
paternal kindness, saying that, in proof of his affection, he was building
a storehouse at Cataraqui, where they could be supplied with all the goods
they needed, without the necessity of a long and dangerous journey. He
warned them against listening to bad men, who might seek to delude them by
misrepresentations and falsehoods; and he urged them to give heed to none
but "men of character, like the Sieur de la Salle." He expressed a hope
that they would suffer their children to learn French from the
missionaries, in order that they and his nephews--meaning the French
colonists--might become one people; and he concluded by requesting them to
give him a number of their children to be educated in the French manner,
at Quebec.

This speech, every clause of which was reinforced by abundant presents,
was extremely well received; though one speaker reminded him that he had
forgotten one important point, inasmuch as he had not told them at what
prices they could obtain goods at Cataraqui. Frontenac evaded a precise
answer, but promised them that the goods should be as cheap as possible,
in view of the great difficulty of transportation. As to the request
concerning their children, they said that they could not accede to it till
they had talked the matter over in their villages; but it is a striking
proof of the influence which Frontenac had gained over them, that, in the
following year, they actually sent several of their children to Quebec to
be educated, the girls among the Ursulines, and the boys in the household
of the Governor.

Three days after the council, the Iroquois set out on their return; and,
as the palisades of the fort were now finished, and the barracks nearly
so, Frontenac began to send his party homeward by detachments. He himself
was detained, for a time, by the arrival of another band of Iroquois, from
the villages on the north side of Lake Ontario. He repeated to them the
speech he had made to the others; and, this final meeting over, embarked
with his guard, leaving a sufficient number to hold the fort, which was to
be provisioned for a year by means of a convoy, then on its way up the
river. Passing the rapids safely, he reached Montreal on the first of

His enterprise had been a complete success. He had gained every point,
and, in spite of the dangerous navigation, had not lost a single canoe.
Thanks to the enforced and gratuitous assistance of the inhabitants, the
whole had cost the king only about ten thousand francs, which Frontenac
had advanced on his own credit. Though, in a commercial point of view, the
new establishment was of very questionable benefit to the colony at large,
the Governor had, nevertheless, conferred an inestimable blessing on all
Canada, by the assurance he had gained of a long respite from the fearful
scourge of Iroquois hostility. "Assuredly," he writes, "I may boast of
having impressed them at once with respect, fear, and good-will."
[Footnote: _Lettre de Frontenac au Ministre_, 13 Nov. 1673.] He adds, that
the fort at Cataraqui, with the aid of a vessel, now building, will
command Lake Ontario, keep the peace with the Iroquois, and cut off the
trade with the English. And he proceeds to say, that, by another fort at
the mouth of the Niagara, and another vessel on Lake Erie, we, the French,
can command all the upper lakes. This plan was an essential link in the
scheme of La Salle; and we shall soon find him employed in executing it.

It remained to determine what disposition should be made of the new fort.
For some time it was uncertain whether the king would not order its
demolition, as efforts had been made to influence him to that effect. It
was resolved, however, that, being once constructed, it should be allowed
to stand; and, after a considerable delay, a final arrangement was made
for its maintenance, in the manner following: In the autumn of 1674, La
Salle went to France, with letters of strong recommendation from
Frontenac. [Footnote: In his despatch to the minister Colbert, of the
fourteenth of November, 1674, Frontenac speaks of La Salle as follows: "I
cannot help, Monseigneur, recommending to you the Sieur de la Salle, who
is about to go to France, and who is a man of intelligence and ability,--
more capable than anybody else I know here, to accomplish every kind of
enterprise and discovery which may be entrusted to him,--as he has the
most perfect knowledge of the state of the country, as you will see if you
are disposed to give him a few moments of audience."] He was well received
at Court; and he made two petitions to the king; the one for a patent of
nobility, in consideration of his services as an explorer; and the other
for a grant in seigniory of Fort Frontenac, for so he called the new post,
in honor of his patron. On his part, he offered to pay back the ten
thousand francs which the fort had cost the king; to maintain it at his
own charge, with a garrison equal to that of Montreal, besides fifteen or
twenty laborers; to form a French colony around it; to build a church,
whenever the number of inhabitants should reach one hundred; and,
meanwhile, to support one or more Récollet friars; and, finally, to form a
settlement of domesticated Indians in the neighborhood. His offers were
accepted. He was raised to the rank of the untitled nobles; received a
grant of the fort, and lands adjacent, to the extent of four leagues in
front and half a league in depth, besides the neighboring islands; and was
invested with the government of the fort and settlement, subject to the
orders of the Governor-General. [Footnote: _Mémoire pour l'entretien du
Fort Frontenac, par le Sr. de la Salle, 1674. MS. Pétition du Sr. de la
Salle au Roi, MS. Lettres patentes de concession du Fort de Frontenac et
terres adjacentes au profit du Sr. de la Salle; données à Compiègne le 13
Mai, 1675, MS. Arrêt qui accepte les offres faites par Robert Cavelier Sr.
de la Salle; à Compiègne le 13 Mai, 1675, MS. Lettres de noblesse pour le
Sr. Cavelier de la Salle; données à Compiègne le 13 Mai, 1675, MS. Papiers
de Famille; Mémoire au Roi, MS._]

La Salle returned to Canada, proprietor of a seigniory, which, all things
considered, was one of the most valuable in the colony. It was now that
his family, rejoicing in his good fortune, and not unwilling to share it,
made him large advances of money, enabling him to pay the stipulated sum
to the king, to rebuild the fort in stone, maintain soldiers and laborers,
and procure in part, at least, the necessary outfit. Had La Salle been a
mere merchant, he was in a fair way to make a fortune, for he was in a
position to control the better part of the Canadian fur trade. But he was
not a mere merchant; and no commercial profit could content the broad
ambition that urged his scheming brain.

Those may believe, who will, that Frontenac did not expect a share in the
profits of the new post. That he did expect it, there is positive
evidence, for a deposition is extant, taken at the instance of his enemy,
the Intendant Duchesneau, in which three witnesses attest that the
Governor, La Salle, his lieutenant La Forest, and one Boisseau, had formed
a partnership to carry on the trade of Fort Frontenac.



A curious incident occurred soon, after the building of the fort on Lake
Ontario. A violent quarrel had taken place between Frontenac and Perrot,
the Governor of Montreal, whom, in view of his speculations in the fur-
trade, he seems to have regarded as a rival in business; but who, by his
folly and arrogance, would have justified any reasonable measure of
severity. Frontenac, however, was not reasonable. He arrested Perrot,
threw him into prison, and set up a man of his own as governor in his
place; and, as the judge of Montreal was not in his interest, he removed
him, and substituted another, on whom he could rely. Thus for a time he
had Montreal well in hand.

The priests of the Seminary, seigneurs of the island, regarded these
arbitrary proceedings with extreme uneasiness. They claimed the right of
nominating their own governor; and Perrot, though he held a commission
from the king, owed his place to their appointment. True, he had set them
at nought, and proved a veritable King Stork, yet nevertheless they
regarded his removal as an infringement of their rights.

During the quarrel with Perrot, La Salle chanced to be at Montreal, lodged
in the house of Jacques Le Ber; who, though one of the principal merchants
and most influential inhabitants of the settlement, was accustomed to sell
goods across his counter in person to white men and Indians, his wife
taking his place when he was absent. Such were the primitive manners of
the secluded little colony. Le Ber, at this time, was in the interest of
Frontenac and La Salle; though he afterwards became one of their most
determined opponents. Amid the excitement and discussion occasioned by
Perrot's arrest, La Salle declared himself an adherent of the Governor,
and warned all persons against speaking ill of him in his hearing.

The Abbé Fénelon, already mentioned as half-brother to the famous
Archbishop, had attempted to mediate between Frontenac and Perrot; and to
this end had made a journey to Quebec on the ice, in midwinter. Being of
an ardent temperament, and more courageous than prudent, he had spoken
somewhat indiscreetly, and had been very roughly treated by the stormy and
imperious Count. He returned to Montreal greatly excited, and not without
cause. It fell to his lot to preach the Easter sermon. The service was
held in the little church of the Hôtel-Dieu, which was crowded to the
porch, all the chief persons of the settlement being present. The curé of
the parish, whose name also was Perrot, said High Mass, assisted by La
Salle's brother, Cavelier, and two other priests. Then Fénelon mounted the
pulpit. Certain passages of his sermon were obviously levelled against
Frontenac. Speaking of the duties of those clothed with temporal
authority, he said that the magistrate, inspired with the spirit of
Christ, was as ready to pardon offences against himself as to punish those
against his prince; that he was full of respect for the ministers of the
altar, and never maltreated them when they attempted to reconcile enemies
and restore peace; that he never made favorites of those who flattered
him, nor under specious pretexts oppressed other persons in authority who
opposed his enterprises; that he used his power to serve his king, and not
to his own advantage; that he remained content with his salary, without
disturbing the commerce of the country, or abusing those who refused him a
share in their profits; and that he never troubled the people by
inordinate and unjust levies of men and material, using the name of his
prince as a cover to his own designs. [Footnote: Faillon, _Colonie
Française_, iii. 497, and manuscript authorities there cited. I have
examined the principal of these. Faillon himself is a priest of St.
Sulpice. Compare H. Verreau, _Les Deux Abbés de Fénelon_, chap. vii.]

La Salle sat near the door, but as the preacher proceeded, he suddenly
rose to his feet in such a manner as to attract the notice of the
congregation. As they turned their heads, he signed to the principal
persons among them, and by his angry looks and gesticulation called their
attention to the words of Fénelon. Then meeting the eye of the curé, who
sat beside the altar, he made the same signs to him, to which the curé
replied by a deprecating shrug of the shoulders. Fénelon changed color,
but continued his sermon. [Footnote: _Information faicte par nous, Charles
Le Tardieu, Sieur de Tilly, et Nicolas Dupont, etc. etc., contre le Sr.
Abbé de Fénelon_, MS. Tilly and Dupont were sent by Frontenac to inquire
into the affair. Among the deponents is La Salle himself.]

This indecent procedure of La Salle filled the priests with anxiety, for
they had no doubt that the sermon would speedily be reported to Frontenac.
Accordingly they made all haste to disavow it, and their letter to that
effect was the first information which the Governor received of the
affair. He summoned the offender to Quebec, to answer a charge of
seditious language, before the Supreme Council. Fénelon appeared
accordingly, but denied the jurisdiction of the Council; claiming that as
an ecclesiastic it was his right to be tried by the Bishop. By way of
asserting this right, he seated himself in presence of his judges, and put
on his hat; and being rebuked by Frontenac, who presided, he pushed it on
farther. [Footnote: The Council always held its session with hats on. It
seems that a priest, summoned before it as a witness, was also entitled to
wear his hat, and Fénelon maintained that it had no right to require him
to appear before it in any other character.] He was placed under arrest,
and soon after required to leave Canada; but the king accompanied the
recall with a sharp word of admonition to his too strenuous lieutenant.
[Footnote: _Lettre du Roi à Frontenac_, 22 _Avril_, 1675, MS.]

This affair gives us a glimpse of the distracted state of the colony,
racked by the discord of conflicting interests and passions. There were
the quarrels of rival traders, the quarrels of priests among themselves,
of priests with the civil authorities, and of the civil authorities among
themselves. Prominent, if not paramount, among the occasions of strife,
were the schemes of Cavelier de La Salle. All the traders not interested
with him leagued together to oppose him; and this with an acrimony easily
understood, when it is remembered that they depended for subsistence on
the fur-trade, while La Salle had engrossed a great part of it, and
threatened to engross far more. Duchesneau, Intendant of the colony, and
in that capacity almost as a matter of course on ill terms with the
Governor, was joined with this party of opposition, with whom he evidently
had commercial interests in common. La Chesnaye, Le Moyne, and ultimately
Le Ber, besides various others of more or less influence, were in the
league against La Salle. Among them was Louis Joliet, whom his partisans
put forward as a rival discoverer, and a foil to La Salle. Joliet, it will
be remembered, had applied for a grant of land in the countries he had
discovered, and had been refused. La Salle soon after made a similar
application, and with a different result, as will presently appear. His
adherents continually depreciated the merits of Joliet, and even expressed
doubt of the reality, or at least the extent, of his discoveries.

But there was another element of opposition to La Salle, less noisy, but
not less formidable, and this arose from the Jesuits. Frontenac hated
them; and they, under befitting forms of duty and courtesy, paid him back
in the same coin. Having no love for the Governor, they would naturally
have little for his partisan and _protégé_; but their opposition had
another and a deeper root, for the plans of the daring young schemer
jarred with their own.

We have seen the Canadian Jesuits in the early apostolic days of their
mission, when the flame of their zeal, fed by an ardent hope, burned
bright and high. This hope was doomed to disappointment. Their avowed
purpose of building another Paraguay on the borders of the Great Lakes
[Footnote: This purpose is several times indicated in the _Relations_. For
an instance, see "Jesuits in North America," 153.] was never accomplished,
and their missions and their converts were swept away in an avalanche of
ruin. Still, they would not despair. From the Lakes they turned their eyes
to the Valley of the Mississippi, in the hope to see it one day the seat
of their new empire of the Faith. But what did this new Paraguay mean? It
meant a little nation of converted and domesticated savages, docile as
children, under the paternal and absolute rule of Jesuit fathers, and
trained by them in industrial pursuits, the results of which were to
inure, not to the profit of the producers, but to the building of
churches, the founding of colleges, the establishment of warehouses and
magazines, and the construction of works of defence,--all controlled by
Jesuits, and forming a part of the vast possessions of the Order. Such was
the old Paraguay, [Footnote: Compare Charlevoix, _Histoire de Paraguay_,
with Robertson, _Letters on Paraguay_.] and such, we may suppose, would
have been the new, had the plans of those who designed it been realized.

I have said that since the middle of the century the religious exaltation
of the early missions had sensibly declined. In the nature of things, that
grand enthusiasm was too intense and fervent to be long sustained. But the
vital force of Jesuitism had suffered no diminution. That marvellous
_esprit de corps_, that extinction of self, and absorption of the
individual in the Order, which has marked the Jesuits from their first
existence as a body, was no whit changed or lessened; a principle, which,
though different, was no less strong than the self-devoted patriotism of
Sparta or the early Roman Republic.

The Jesuits were no longer supreme in Canada, or, in other words, Canada
was no longer simply a mission. It had become a colony. Temporal interests
and the civil power were constantly gaining ground; and the disciples of
Loyola felt that relatively, if not absolutely, they were losing it. They
struggled vigorously to maintain the ascendancy of their Order; or, as
they would have expressed it, the ascendancy of religion: but in the older
and more settled parts of the colony it was clear that the day of their
undivided rule was past. Therefore, they looked with redoubled solicitude
to their missions in the West. They had been among its first explorers;
and they hoped that here the Catholic Faith, as represented by Jesuits,
might reign with undisputed sway. In Paraguay, it was their constant aim
to exclude white men from their missions. It was the same in North
America. They dreaded fur-traders, partly because they interfered with
their teachings and perverted their converts, and partly for other
reasons. But La Salle was a fur-trader, and far worse than a fur-trader,--
he aimed at occupation, fortification, settlement. The scope and vigor of
his enterprises, and the powerful influence that aided them made him a
stumbling-block in their path. As they would have put the case, it was the
spirit of this world opposed to the spirit of religion; but I may perhaps
be pardoned if I am constrained to think that the spirit which inspired
these fathers was not uniformly celestial, notwithstanding the virtues
which sometimes illustrated it.

Frontenac, in his letters to the Court, is continually begging that more
Récollet friars may be sent to Canada. [Footnote: The Récollets, ejected
from Canada on the irruption of the English in 1629 (see "Pioneers of
France in the New World"), had not been allowed to return until 1669, when
their missions were begun anew.] Not that he had any peculiar fondness for
ecclesiastics of any kind, regular or secular, white, black, or gray; but
he wanted the Récollets to oppose to the Jesuits. He had no fear of these
mendicant disciples of St. Francis. Far less able and less ambitious than
the Jesuits, he knew that he could manage them, because they would need
his support against their formidable rivals. La Salle, too, wanted more
Récollets, and for the same reason; but in one point he differed from his
patron. He was a man, not only of regulated life, but of strong religious
feeling, and, bating his violent prepossession against the Jesuits, he
respected the Church and its ministers, as his letters and his life
attest. Thus, in replying to a charge of undue severity towards some of
his followers, he alleges in his justification the profane language of the
men in question, and adds, "I am a Christian; I will have no blasphemers
in my camp." [Footnote: Letter of La Salle in the hands of M. Margry.]



One of the most curious monuments of La Salle's time is a long memoir,
written by a person who made his acquaintance at Paris, in the summer of
1678, when, as we shall soon see, he had returned to France, in
prosecution of his plans. The writer knew the Sulpitian Galinée,
[Footnote: _Ante_, p. 11.] who, as he says, had a very high opinion of La
Salle; and he was also in close relations with the discoverer's patron,
the Prince de Conti. [Footnote: Louis-Armand de Bourbon, second Prince de
Conti. I am strongly inclined to think that this nobleman himself is
author of the memoir.] He says that he had ten or twelve interviews with
La Salle, and becoming interested in him and in that which he
communicated, he wrote down the substance of his conversation. The paper
is divided into two parts,--the first, called "Mémoire sur Mr. de la
Salle," is devoted to the state of affairs in Canada, and chiefly to the
Jesuits; the second, entitled "Histoire de Mr. de la Salle," is an account
of the discoverer's life, or as much of it as the writer had learned from
him. [Footnote: Extracts from this have already been given in connection
with La Salle's supposed discovery of the Mississippi. _Ante_, p. 20.]
Both parts bear throughout the internal evidence of being what they
profess to be; but they embody the statements of a man of intense partisan
feeling, transmitted through the mind of another person, in sympathy with
him, and evidently sharing his prepossessions. In one respect, however,
the paper is of unquestionable historical value; for it gives us a vivid
and not an exaggerated picture of the bitter strife of parties which then
raged in Canada, and which was destined to tax to the utmost the vast
energy and fortitude of La Salle. At times the memoir is fully sustained
by contemporary evidence; but often, again, it rests on its own
unsupported authority. I give an abstract of its statements as I find

The following is the writer's account of La Salle: "All those among my
friends who have seen him find in him a man of great intelligence and
sense. He rarely speaks of any subject except when questioned about it,
and his words are very few and very precise. He distinguishes perfectly
between that which he knows with certainty and that which he knows with
some mingling of doubt. When he does not know, he does not hesitate to
avow it, and though I have heard him say the same thing more than five or
six times, when persons were present who had not heard it before, he
always said it in the same manner. In short, I never heard anybody speak
whose words carried with them more marks of truth." [Footnote: "Tous ceux
de mes amis qui l'ont vu luy trouve beaucoup d'esprit et un très grand
sens; il ne parle guères que des choses sur lesquelles on l'interroge; il
les dit en très-peu de mots et très-bien circonstanciés; il distingue
parfaitement ce qu'il scait avec certitude, de ce qu'il scait avec quelque
mélange de doute. Il avoue sans aucune façon ne pas savoir ce qu'il ne
scait pas, et quoyque je lui aye ouy dire plus de cinq ou six fois les
mesme choses à l'occasion de quelques personnes qui ne les avaient point
encore entendues, je les luy ay toujours ouy dire de la mesme manière. En
un mot je n'ay jamais ouy parler personne dont les paroles portassent plus
de marques de vérité."]

After mentioning that he is thirty-three or thirty-four years old, and
that he has been twelve years in America, the memoir declares that he made
the following statements,--that the Jesuits are masters at Quebec; that
the Bishop is their creature, and does nothing but in concert with them;
[Footnote: "Il y a une autre chose qui me déplait, qui est l'entière
dépendence dans laquelle les Prêtres du Séminaire de Québec et le Grand
Vicaire de l'Evêque sont pour les Pères Jésuites, car il ne fait pas la
moindre chose sans leur ordre; ce qui fait qu'indirectement ils sont les
maîtres de ce qui regarde le spirituel, qui, comme vous savez, est une
grande machine pour remuer tout le reste."--_Lettre de Frontenac à
Colbert_, 2 Nov. 1672.] that he is not well inclined towards the
Récollets, [Footnote: "Ces réligieux (les Récollets) sont fort protégés
partout par le comte de Frontenac, gouverneur du pays, et à cause de cela
assez maltraités par l'évesque, parceque la doctrine de l'évesque et des
Jésuites est que les affaires de la Réligion chrestienne n'iront point
bien dans ce pays-là que quand le gouverneur sera créature des Jésuites,
ou que l'évesque sera gouverneur."--_Mémoire sur Mr. de la Salle_.] who
have little credit, but who are protected by Frontenac; that in Canada the
Jesuits think everybody an enemy to religion who is an enemy to them;
that, though they refused absolution to all who sold brandy to the
Indians, they sold it themselves, and that he, La Salle, had himself
detected them in it; [Footnote: "Ils (les Jésuites) réfusent l'absolution a
ceux qui ne veulent pas promettre de n'en plus vendre (de l'eau-de-vie),
et s'ils meurent en cet étât, ils les privent de la sépulture
ecclésiastique; au contraire ils se permettent à eux-memes sans aucune
difficulté ce mesme trafic quoique tout sorte de trafic soit interdit à
tous les ecclésiastiques par les ordonnances du Roy, et par une bulle
expresse du Pape. La Bulle et les ordonnances sont notoires, et quoyqu'ils
cachent le trafic qu'ils font d'eau-de-vie, M. de la Salle prétend qu'il
ne l'est pas moms; qu' outre la notoriété il en a des preuves certaines,
et qu'il les a surpris dans ce trafic, et qu'ils luy ont tendu des pièges
pour l'y surprendre ... Ils ont chasse leur valet Robert à cause qu'il
révéla qu'ils en traitaient jour et nuit."--_Ibid_. The writer says that
he makes this last statement, not on the authority of La Salle, but on
that of a memoir made at the time when the Intendant, Talon, with whom he
elsewhere says that he was well acquainted, returned to France. A great
number of particulars are added respecting the Jesuit trade in furs.] that
the Bishop laughs at the orders of the king when they do not agree with
the wishes of the Jesuits; that the Jesuits dismissed one of their
servants named Robert, because he told of their trade in brandy; that
Albanel, [Footnote: Albanel was prominent among the Jesuit explorers at
this time. He is best known by his journey up the Saguenay to Hudson's Bay
in 1672.] in particular, carried on a great fur-trade, and that the
Jesuits have built their college in part from the profits of this kind of
traffic; that they admitted that they carried on a trade, but denied that
they gained so much by it as was commonly supposed. [Footnote: "Pour vous
parler franchement, ils (les Jésuites) songent autant à la conversion du
Castor qu'à celle des âmes."--_Lettre de Frontenac à Colbert_, 2 Nov.

In his despatch of the next year, he says that the Jesuits ought to
content themselves with instructing the Indians in their old missions,
instead of neglecting them to make new ones, in countries where there are
"more beaver-skins to gain than souls to save."]

The memoir proceeds to affirm that they trade largely with the Sioux, at
Ste. Marie, and with other tribes at Michillimackinac, and that they are
masters of the trade of that region, where the forts are in their
possession. [Footnote: These forts were built by them, and were necessary
to the security of their missions.] An Indian said, in full council, at
Quebec, that he had prayed and been a Christian as long as the Jesuits
would stay and teach him, but since no more beaver were left in his
country, the missionaries were gone also. The Jesuits, pursues the memoir,
will have no priests but themselves in their missions, and call them all
Jansenists, not excepting the priests of St. Sulpice.

The bishop is next accused of harshness and intolerance, as well as of
growing rich by tithes, and even by trade, in which it is affirmed he has
a covert interest. [Footnote: François Xavier de Laval-Montmorency, first
bishop of Quebec, was a prelate of austere character. His memory is
cherished in Canada by adherents of the Jesuits and all ultramontane
Catholics.] It is added that there exists in Quebec, under the auspices of
the Jesuits, an association called the Sainte Famille, of which Madame
Bourdon [Footnote: This Madame Bourdon was the widow of Bourdon, the
engineer, (see "Jesuits in North America," 299). If we may credit the
letters of Marie de l'Incarnation, she had married him from a religious
motive, in order to charge herself with the care of his motherless
children; stipulating in advance that he should live with her, not as a
husband, but as a brother. As may be imagined, she was regarded as a most
devout and saint-like person.] is superior. They meet in the cathedral
every Thursday, with closed doors, where they relate to each other--as
they are bound by a vow to do--all they have learned, whether good or
evil, concerning other people, during the week. It is a sort of female
inquisition, for the benefit of the Jesuits, the secrets of whose friends,
it is said, are kept, while no such discretion is observed with regard to
persons not of their party. [Footnote: "Il y a dans Québec une
congrégation de femmes et de filles qu'ils [_les Jésuits_]
appellent la sainte famille, dans laquelle on fait voeu sur les Saints
Evangiles de dire tout ce qu'on sait de bien et de mal des personnes
qu'on connoist. La Supérieure de cette compagnie s'appelle Madame
Boudon; une Mde. D'Ailleboust est, je crois, l'assistante et une Mde.
Charron, la Trésorière. La Compagnie s'assemble tous les Jeudis dans la
Cathédrale, à porte fermée, et là elles se disent les unes aux autres
tout ce qu'elles on appris. C'est une espèce d'Inquisition contre toutes
les personnes qui ne sont pas unies avec les Jésuites. Ces personnes
sont accusées de tenir secret ce qu'elles apprennent de mal des
personnes de leur party et de n'avoir pas la mesme discretion pour les
autres."--_Mémoire sur Mr. de la Salle_.

The Madame d'Ailleboust mentioned above was a devotee like Madame
Bourdon, and, in one respect, her history was similar. See "The Jesuits
in North America," 360.

The association of the Sainte Famille was founded by the Jesuit
Chaumonot at Montreal in 1663. Laval, Bishop of Quebec, afterwards
encouraged its establishment at that place; and, as Chaumonot himself
writes, caused it to be attached to the cathedral. _Vie de
Chaumonot_, 83. For its establishment at Montreal, see Faillon,
_Vie de Mlle. Mance_, i. 233.

"Ils [_les Jésuites_] ont tous une si grande envie de savoir tout
ce qui se fait dans les familles qu'ils ont des Inspecteurs à gages dans
la Ville, qui leur rapportent tout ce qui se fait dans les maisons,"
etc., etc.--_Lettre de Frontenac au Ministre_, 13 Nov., 1673.

Here follow a series of statements which it is needless to repeat, as they
do not concern La Salle. They relate to abuse of the confessional,
hostility to other priests, hostility to civil authorities, and over-hasty
baptisms, in regard to which La Salle is reported to have made a
comparison, unfavorable to the Jesuits, between them and the Récollets
and Sulpitians.

We now come to the second part of the memoir, entitled "History of
Monsieur de la Salle." After stating that he left France at the age of
twenty-one or twenty-two, with the purpose of attempting some new
discovery, it makes the statements repeated in a former chapter,
concerning his discovery of the Ohio, the Illinois, and possibly the
Mississipi. It then mentions the building of Fort Frontenac, and says that
one object of it was to prevent the Jesuits from becoming undisputed
masters of the fur-trade. [Footnote: Mention has been made
of the report set on foot by the Jesuit Dablon, to prevent
the building of the fort.] Three years ago, it pursues, La
Salle came to France, and obtained a grant of the fort; and it
proceeds to give examples of the means used by the party opposed to him to
injure his good name, and bring him within reach of the law. Once, when he
was at Quebec, the farmer of the king's revenue, one of the richest men in
the place, was extremely urgent in his proffers of hospitality, and at
length, though he knew him but slightly, persuaded him to lodge in his
house. He had been here but a few days when his host's wife began to enact
the part of the wife of Potiphar, and this with so much vivacity, that on
one occasion La Salle was forced to take an abrupt leave, in order to
avoid an infringement of the laws of hospitality. As he opened the door,
he found the husband on the watch, and saw that it was a plot to entrap
him. [Footnote: This story is told at considerable length, and the
advances of the lady particularly described.]

Another attack, of a different character, though in the same direction,
was soon after made. The remittances which La Salle received from the
various members and connections of his family were sent through the hands
of his brother, the Abbé Cavelier, from whom his enemies were, therefore,
very eager to alienate him. To this end, a report was made to reach the
priest's ears, that La Salle had seduced a young woman, with whom he was
living, in an open and scandalous manner, at Fort Frontenac. The effect of
this device exceeded the wishes of its contrivers; for the priest, aghast
at what he had heard, set out for the fort, to administer his fraternal
rebuke; but, on arriving, in place of the expected abomination, found his
brother, assisted by two Récollet friars, ruling, with edifying propriety,
over a most exemplary household.

Thus far the memoir. From passages in some of La Salle's letters, it may
be gathered that the Abbé Cavelier gave him at times no little annoyance.
In his double character of priest and elder brother, he seems to have
constituted himself the counsellor, monitor, and guide of a man, who,
though many years his junior, was in all respects incomparably superior to
him, as the sequel will show. This must have been almost insufferable to a
nature like that of La Salle; who, nevertheless, was forced to arm himself
with patience, since his brother held the purse-strings. On one occasion,
his forbearance was put to a severe proof, when, wishing to marry a damsel
of good connections in the colony, the Abbé Cavelier saw fit, for some
reason, to interfere, and prevented the alliance. [Footnote: Letter of La
Salle in possession of M. Margry.]

To resume the memoir. It declares that the Jesuits procured an ordinance
from the Supreme Council, prohibiting traders from going into the Indian
country, in order that they, the Jesuits, being already established there
in their missions, might carry on trade without competition. But La Salle
induced a good number of the Iroquois to settle around his fort; thus
bringing the trade to his own door, without breaking the ordinance. These
Iroquois, he is farther reported to have said, were very fond of him, and
aided him in rebuilding the fort with cut stone. The Jesuits told the
Iroquois on the south side of the lake, where they were established as
missionaries, that La Salle was strengthening his defences, with the view
of making war on them. They and the Intendant, who was their creature,
endeavored to embroil the Iroquois with the French, in order to ruin La
Salle; writing to him at the same time that he was the bulwark of the
country, and that he ought to be always on his guard. They also tried to
persuade Frontenac that it was necessary to raise men and prepare for war.
La Salle suspected them, and, seeing that the Iroquois, in consequence of
their intrigues, were in an excited state, he induced the Governor to come
to Fort Frontenac, to pacify them. He accordingly did so, and a council
was held, which ended in a complete restoration of confidence on the part
of the Iroquois. [Footnote: Louis XIV. alludes to this visit, in a letter
to Frontenac, dated 28 April, 1677. "I cannot but approve," he writes, "of
what you have done in your voyage to Fort Frontenac, to reconcile the
minds of the Five Iroquois Nations, and to clear yourself from the
suspicions they had entertained, and from the motives that might induce
them to make war." Frontenac's despatches of this, as well as of the
preceding and following years, are missing from the archives.

In a memoir written in November, 1680, La Salle alludes to "le désir que
l'on avoit que Monseigneur le Comte de Frontenac fist la guerre aux
Iroquois." See Thomassy, _Géologie Pratique de la Louisiane_, 203.] At
this council they accused the two Jesuits, Bruyas and Pierron, [Footnote:
Bruyas was about this time stationed among the Onondagas. Pierron was
among the Senecas. He had lately removed to them from the Mohawk country.
--_Relation des Jésuites_, 1673-9, p. 140 (Shea). Bruyas was also for a
long time among the Mohawks.] of spreading reports that the French were
preparing to attack them. La Salle thought that the object of the intrigue
was to make the Iroquois jealous of him, and engage Frontenac in expenses
which would offend the king. After La Salle and the Governor had lost
credit by the rupture, the Jesuits would come forward as pacificators, in
the full assurance that they could restore quiet, and appear in the
attitude of saviors of the colony.

La Salle, pursues his reporter, went on to say, that about this time a
quantity of hemlock and verdigris was given him in a salad; and that the
guilty person was a man in his employ, named Nicolas Perrot, otherwise
called Solycoeur, who confessed the crime. [Footnote: This puts the
character of Perrot in a new light, for it is not likely that any other
can be meant than the famous _voyageur_. I have found no mention elsewhere
of the synonyme of Solycoeur. Poisoning was the current crime of the day;
and persons of the highest rank had repeatedly been charged with it. The
following is the passage:--

"Quoiqu'il en soit, Mr. de la Salle se sentit quelque temps aerés
empoissonné d'une salade dans laquelle on avoit meslé du ciguë, qui est
poison en ce pays là, et du verd de gris. Il en fut malade à l'extrémité,
vomissant presque continuellement 40 ou 50 jours après, et il ne réchappa
que par la force extrême de sa constitution. Celuy qui luy donna le poison
fut un nominé Nicolas Perrot, autrement Solycoeur, l'un de ses
domestiques.... Il pouvait faire mourir cet homme, qui a confessé son
crime, mais il s'est contenté de l'enfermer les fers aux pieds."--
_Histoire de Mr. de la Salle_.] The memoir adds that La Salle, who
recovered from the effects of the poison, wholly exculpates the Jesuits.

This attempt, which was not, as we shall see, the only one of the kind
made against La Salle, is alluded to by him, in a letter to the Prince de
Conti, written in Canada, when he was on the point of departure on his
great expedition to descend the Mississippi. The following is an extract
from it:

"I hope to give myself the honor of sending you a more particular account
of this enterprise when it shall have had the success which I hope for it;
but I have need of a strong protection for its support. It traverses the
commercial operations of certain persons, who will find it hard to endure
it. They intended to make a new Paraguay in these parts, and the route
which I close against them gave them facilities for an advantageous
correspondence with Mexico. This check will infallibly be a mortification
to them; and you know how they deal with whatever opposes them.
_Nevertheless, I am bound to render them the justice to say that the
poison which was given me was not at all of their instigation._ The person
who was conscious of the guilt, believing that I was their enemy because
he saw that our sentiments were opposed, thought to exculpate himself by
accusing them; and I confess that at the time I was not sorry to have this
indication of their ill-will: but having afterwards carefully examined the
affair, I clearly discovered the falsity of the accusation which this
rascal had made against them. I nevertheless pardoned him, in order not to
give notoriety to the affair; as the mere suspicion might sully their
reputation, to which I should scrupulously avoid doing the slightest
injury, unless I thought it necessary to the good of the public, and
unless the fact were fully proved. Therefore, Monsieur, if any one shared
the suspicion which I felt, oblige me by undeceiving him." [Footnote: The
following words are underlined in the original: "_Je suis pourtant obligé
de leur rendre une justice, que le poison qu'on m'avoit donné n'éstoit
point de leur instigation_."--_Lettre de la Salle au Prince de Conti_, 31
_Oct_. 1678.]

This letter, so honorable to La Salle, explains the statement made in the
memoir, that, notwithstanding his grounds of complaint against the Jesuits
he continued to live on terms of courtesy with them, entertained them at
his fort, and occasionally corresponded with them. The writer asserts,
however, that they intrigued with his men to induce them to desert;
employing for this purpose a young man named Deslauriers, whom they sent
to him with letters of recommendation. La Salle took him into his service;
but he soon after escaped, with several other men, and took refuge in the
Jesuit missions. [Footnote: In a letter to the king, Frontenac mentions
that several men who had been induced to desert from La Salle had gone to
Albany, where the English had received them well.--_Lettre de Frontenac au
Roy_, 6 _Nov_. 1679. MS. The Jesuits had a mission in the neighboring
tribe of the Mohawks, and elsewhere in New York.] The object of the
intrigue is said to have been the reduction of La Salle's garrison to a
number less than that which he was bound to maintain, thus exposing him to
a forfeiture of his title of possession.

He is also stated to have declared that Louis Joliet was an impostor,
[Footnote: This agrees with expressions used by La Salle in a memoir
addressed by him to Frontenac in November, 1680, and printed by Thomassy.
In this he plainly intimates his belief that Joliet went but little below
the mouth of the Illinois.] and a _donné_ of the Jesuits,--that is, a man
who worked for them without pay; and, farther, that when he, La Salle,
came to court to ask for privileges enabling him to pursue his
discoveries, the Jesuits represented in advance to the minister Colbert,
that his head was turned, and that he was fit for nothing but a mad-house.
It was only by the aid of influential friends that he was at length
enabled to gain an audience.

Here ends this remarkable memoir; which, criticise it as we may,
undoubtedly contains a great deal of truth.



When La Salle gained possession of Fort Frontenac, he secured a base for
all his future enterprises. That he meant to make it a permanent one is
clear from the pains he took to strengthen its defences. Within two years
from the date of his grant he had replaced the hasty palisade fort of
Count Frontenac by a regular work of hewn stone; of which, however, only
two bastions, with their connecting curtains, were completed, the
enclosure on the water side being formed of pickets. Within, there was a
barrack, a well, a mill, and a bakery; while a wooden blockhouse guarded
the gateway. [Footnote: Plan of Fort Frontenac, published by Faillon, from
the original sent to France by Denonville, 1685.] Near the shore, south of
the fort, was a cluster of small houses of French _habitans_; and farther,
in the same direction, was the Indian village. Two officers and a surgeon,
with half a score or more of soldiers, made up the garrison; and three or
four times that number of masons, laborers, and canoe-men, were at one
time maintained at the fort. [Footnote: _État de la dépense faite par Mr.
de la Salle, Gouverneur du Fort Frontenac_, MS. When Frontenac was at the
fort in September, 1677, he found only four _habitans_. It appears by the
_Relation des Découvertes du Sr. de la Salle_, that, three or four years
later, there were thirteen or fourteen families. La Salle spent 34,426
francs on the fort.--_Mémoire au Roy, Papiers de Famille_, MSS.] Besides
these, there were two Récollet friars, Luc Buisset and Louis Hennepin; of
whom the latter was but indifferently suited to his apostolic functions,
as we shall soon discover. La Salle built a house for them, near the fort;
and they turned a part of it into a chapel.

Partly for trading on the lake, partly with a view to ulterior designs, he
caused four small decked vessels to be built: but, for ordinary uses,
canoes best served his purpose; and his followers became so skilful in
managing them, that they were reputed the best canoe-men in America.
[Footnote: _Relation des Découvertes_, MS. Hennepin repeats the
statement.] Feudal lord of the forests around him, commander of a garrison
raised and paid by himself, founder of the mission, patron of the church,
La Salle reigned the autocrat of his lonely little empire.

But he had no thought of resting here. He had gained what he sought, a
fulcrum for bolder and broader action. His plans were ripened and his time
was come. He was no longer a needy adventurer, disinherited of all but his
fertile brain and his intrepid heart. He had won place, influence, credit,
and potent friends. Now, at length, he might hope to find the long-sought
path to China and Japan, and secure for France those boundless regions of
the West, in whose watery highways he saw his road to wealth, renown, and
power. Again he sailed for France, bearing, as before, letters from
Frontenac, commending him to the king and the minister. We have seen that
he was denounced in advance as a madman; but Colbert at length gave him a
favoring ear, and granted his petition. Perhaps he read the man before
him, living only in the conception and achievement of great designs, and
armed with a courage that not the Fates nor the Furies themselves could

La Salle was empowered to pursue his proposed discoveries at his own
expense, on condition of completing them within five years; to build forts
in the new-found countries, and hold possession of them on terms similar
to those already granted him in the case of Fort Frontenac; and to
monopolize the trade in buffalo skins, a new branch of commerce, by which,
as he urged, the plains of the Mississippi would become a source of
copious wealth. But he was expressly forbidden to carry on trade with the
Ottawas and other tribes of the Lakes, who were accustomed to bring their
furs to Montreal. [Footnote: _Permission an Sr. de la Salle de découvrir
la partie occidentals de la Nouvelle France_, 12 _May_, 1678, MS. Signed
_Colbert_; not, as Charlevoix says, _Seignelay_.]

Again La Salle's wealthy relatives came to his aid, and large advances of
money were made to him. [Footnote: In the memorial which La Salle's
relations presented to the king after his death, they say that, on this
occasion, "ses frères et ses parents n'épargnèrent rien." It is added that
between 1678 and 1683 his enterprises cost the family more than 500,000
francs. By a memorandum of his cousin, François Plet, M.D., of Paris, it
appears that La Salle gave him, on the 27th and 28th of June, 1678, two
promissory notes of 9,805 francs and 1,676 francs respectively.] He bought
supplies and engaged men; and in July, 1678, sailed again for Canada, with
thirty followers,--sailors, carpenters, and laborers,--an abundant store
of anchors, cables, and rigging; iron tools,--merchandise for trade, and
all things necessary for his enterprise. There was one man of his party
worth all the rest combined. The Prince de Conti had a _protégé_ in the
person of Henri de Tonty, an Italian officer, one of whose hands had been
blown off by a grenade in the Sicilian wars. His father, who had been
Governor of Gaeta, but who had come to France in consequence of political
convulsions in Naples, had earned no small reputation as a financier, and
devised the form of life insurance known as the Tontine. The Prince de
Conti recommended the son to La Salle; and, as the event proved, he could
not have done him a better service. La Salle learned to know his new
lieutenant on the voyage across the Atlantic; and, soon after reaching
Canada, he wrote of him to his patron in the following terms: "His
honorable character and his amiable disposition were well known to you;
but perhaps you would not have thought him capable of doing things for
which a strong constitution, an acquaintance with the country, and the use
of both hands seemed absolutely necessary. Nevertheless, his energy and
address make him equal to any thing; and now, at a season when everybody
is in fear of the ice, he is setting out to begin a new fort, two hundred
leagues from this place, and to which I have taken the liberty to give the
name of Fort Conti. It is situated near that great cataract, more than a
hundred and twenty _toises_ in height, by which the lakes of higher
elevation precipitate themselves into Lake Frontenac [Ontario]. From there
one goes by water, five hundred leagues, to the place where Fort Dauphin
is to be begun, from which it only remains to descend the great river of
the Bay of St. Esprit to reach the Gulf of Mexico." [Footnote: _Lettre de
La Salle au Prince de Conti_, 31 _Oct_. 1678, MS. Fort Conti was to have
been built on the site of the present Fort Niagara. The name of Lac de
Conti was given by La Salle to Lake Erie. The fort mentioned as Fort
Dauphin was built, as we shall see, on the Illinois, though under another
name. La Salle, deceived by Spanish maps, thought that the Mississippi
discharged itself into the Bay of St. Esprit (Mobile Bay).

Henri de Tonty signed his name in the Gallicised, and not in the original
Italian form, _Tonti_. He wore a hand of iron or some other metal, which
was usually covered with a glove. La Potherie says that he once or twice
used it to good purpose when the Indians became disorderly, in breaking
the heads of the most contumacious or knocking out their teeth. Not
knowing at the time the secret of the unusual efficacy of his blows, they
regarded him as a "medicine" of the first order. La Potherie ascribes the
loss of his hand to a sabre-cut received in a _sortie_ at Messina; but
Tonty, in his _Mémoire_, says, as above, that it was blown off.]

Besides Tonty, La Salle found another ally, though a less efficient one,
in the person of the Sieur de la Motte; and at Quebec, where he was
detained for a time, he found Father Louis Hennepin, who had come down
from Fort Frontenac to meet him.



Hennepin was all eagerness to join in the adventure, and, to his great
satisfaction, La Salle gave him a letter from his Provincial, Father Le
Fèvre, containing the coveted permission. Whereupon, to prepare himself,
he went into retreat, at the Récollet convent of Quebec, where he remained
for a time in such prayer and meditation as his nature, the reverse of
spiritual, would permit. Frontenac, always partial to his Order, then
invited him to dine at the chateau; and having visited the Bishop and
asked his blessing, he went down to the lower town and embarked. His
vessel was a small birch canoe, paddled by two men. With sandalled feet, a
coarse gray capote, and peaked hood, the cord of St. Francis about his
waist, and a rosary and crucifix hanging at his side, the Father set forth
on his memorable journey. He carried with him the furniture of a portable
altar, which in time of need he could strap on his back, like a knapsack.

He slowly made his way up the St. Lawrence, stopping here and there, where
a clearing and a few log houses marked the feeble beginning of a parish
and a seigniory. The settlers, though good Catholics, were too few and too
poor to support a priest, and hailed the arrival of the friar with
delight. He said mass, exhorted a little, as was his custom, and, on one
occasion, baptized a child. At length, he reached Montreal, where the
enemies of the enterprise enticed away his two canoe-men. He succeeded in
finding two others, with whom he continued his voyage, passed the rapids
of the upper St. Lawrence, and reached Fort Frontenac at eleven o'clock at
night, of the second of November, where his brethren of the mission,
Ribourde and Buisset, received him with open arms. [Footnote: Hennepin,
_Description de la Louisiane_ (1683), 19. Ibid., _Voyage Curieux_ (1704),
66. Ribourde had lately arrived.] La Salle, Tonty, La Motte, and their
party, who had left Quebec a few days after him, soon appeared at the
fort; La Salle much fatigued and worn by the hardships of the way, or more
probably by the labors and anxieties of preparation. He had no sooner
arrived, than he sent fifteen men in canoes to Lake Michigan and the
Illinois, to open a trade with the Indians and collect a store of
provisions. There was a small vessel of ten tons in the harbor; and he
ordered La Motte to sail in her for Niagara, accompanied by Hennepin.

This bold, hardy, and adventurous friar, the historian of the expedition,
and a conspicuous actor in it, has unwittingly painted his own portrait
with tolerable distinctness. "I always," he says, "felt a strong
inclination to fly from the world and live according to the rules of a
pure and severe virtue; and it was with this view that I entered the Order
of St. Francis." [Footnote: Hennepin, _Nouvelle Découverte_ (1697), 8.] He
then speaks of his zeal for the saving of souls, but admits that a passion
for travel and a burning desire to visit strange lands had no small part
in his inclination for the missions. [Footnote: Ibid., _Avant Propos_, 5.]
Being in a convent in Artois, his superior sent him to Calais, at the
season of the herring-fishery, to beg alms, after the practice of the
Franciscans. Here and at Dunkirk, he made friends of the sailors, and was
never tired of their stories. So insatiable, indeed, was his appetite for
them, that "often," he says, "I hid myself behind tavern doors while the
sailors were telling of their voyages. The tobacco smoke made me very sick
at the stomach; but, notwithstanding, I listened attentively to all they
said about their adventures at sea and their travels in distant countries.
I could have passed whole days and nights in this way without eating."
[Footnote: Ibid., _Voyage Curieux_ (1704), 12.]

He presently set out on a roving mission through Holland; and he recounts
various mishaps which befell him, "in consequence of my zeal in laboring
for the saving of souls." "I was at the bloody fight of Seneff," he
pursues, "where so many perished by fire and sword, and where I had
abundance of work, in comforting and consoling the poor wounded soldiers.
After undergoing great fatigues, and running extreme danger in the sieges
of towns, in the trenches, and in battles, where I exposed myself freely
for the salvation of others, while the soldiers were breathing nothing but
blood and carnage, I found myself at last in a way of satisfying my old
inclination for travel." [Footnote: Ibid., 13.]

He got leave from his superiors to go to Canada, the most adventurous of
all the missions; and accordingly sailed in 1675, in the ship which
carried La Salle, who had just obtained the grant of Fort Frontenac. In
the course of the voyage, he took it upon him to reprove a party of girls
who were amusing themselves and a circle of officers and other passengers
by dancing on deck. La Salle, who was among the spectators, was annoyed at
Hennepin's interference, and told him that he was behaving like a
pedagogue. The friar retorted, by alluding--unconsciously, as he says--to
the circumstance that La Salle was once a pedagogue himself, having,
according to Hennepin, been for ten or twelve years teacher of a class in
a Jesuit school. La Salle, he adds, turned pale with rage, and never
forgave him to his dying day, but always maligned and persecuted him.
[Footnote: Ibid., _Avis au Lecteur_. He elsewhere represents himself as on
excellent terms with La Salle; with whom, he says, he used to read
histories of travels at Fort Frontenac, after which they discussed
together their plans of discovery.]

On arriving in Canada, he was sent up to Fort Frontenac, as a missionary.
That wild and remote post was greatly to his liking. He planted a gigantic
cross, superintended the building of a chapel, for himself and his
colleague, Buisset, and instructed the Iroquois colonists of the place. He
visited, too, the neighboring Indian settlements, paddling his canoe in
summer, when the lake was open, and journeying in winter on snow-shoes,
with a blanket slung at his back. His most noteworthy journey was one
which he made in the winter,--apparently of 1677,--with a soldier of the
fort. They crossed the eastern extremity of Lake Ontario on snow-shoes,
and pushed southward through the forests, towards Onondaga; stopping at
evening to dig away the snow, which was several feet deep, and collect
wood for their fire, which they were forced to replenish repeatedly during
the night, to keep themselves from freezing. At length they reached the
great Onondaga town, where the Indians were much amazed at their
hardihood. Thence they proceeded eastward, to the Oneidas, and afterwards
to the Mohawks, who regaled them with small frogs, pounded up with a
porridge of Indian corn. Here Hennepin found the Jesuit, Bruyas, who
permitted him to copy a dictionary of the Mohawk language [Footnote: This
was the _Racines Agnières_ of Bruyas. It was published by Mr. Shea in
1862. Hennepin seems to have studied it carefully; for, on several
occasions, he makes use of words evidently borrowed from it, putting them
into the mouths of Indians speaking a dialect different from that of the
Agniers, or Mohawks.] which he had compiled, and here he presently met
three Dutchmen, who urged him to visit the neighboring settlement of
Orange, or Albany, an invitation which he seems to have declined.
[Footnote: Compare Brodhead in _Hist. Mag._, x. 268.]

They were pleased with him, he says, because he spoke Dutch. Bidding them
farewell, he tied on his snow-shoes again, and returned with his companion
to Fort Frontenac. Thus he inured himself to the hardships of the woods,
and prepared for the execution of the grand plan of discovery which he
calls his own; "an enterprise," to borrow his own words, "capable of
terrifying anybody but me." [Footnote: "Une entreprise capable
d'épouvanter tout autre que moi."--Hennepin, _Voyage Curieux, Avant
Propos_ (1704).] When the later editions of his book appeared, doubts had
been expressed of his veracity. "I here protest to you, before God," he
writes, addressing the reader, "that my narrative is faithful and sincere,
and that you may believe every thing related in it." [Footnote: "Je vous
proteste ici devant Dieu, que ma Relation est fidèle et sincère," etc.--
Ibid., _Avis au Lecteur_.] And yet, as we shall see, this Reverend Father
was the most impudent of liars; and the narrative of which he speaks is a
rare monument of brazen mendacity. Hennepin, however, had seen and dared
much: for among his many failings fear had no part; and where his vanity
or his spite was not involved, he often told the truth. His books have
their value, with all their enormous fabrications. [Footnote: The nature
of these fabrications will be shown hereafter. They occur, not in the
early editions of Hennepin's narrative, which are comparatively truthful,
but in the edition of 1697 and those which followed. La Salle was dead at
the time of their publication.]

La Motte and Hennepin, with sixteen men, went on board the little vessel
of ten tons, which lay at Fort Frontenac. The friar's two brethren,
Buisset and Ribourde, threw their arms about his neck as they bade him
farewell; while his Indian proselytes, learning whither he was bound,
stood with their hands pressed upon their mouths, in amazement at the
perils which awaited their ghostly instructor. La Salle, with the rest of
the party, was to follow as soon as he could finish his preparations. It
was a boisterous and gusty day, the eighteenth of November. The sails were
spread; the shore receded,--the stone walls of the fort, the huge cross
that the friar had reared, the wigwams, the settlers' cabins, the group of
staring Indians on the strand. The lake was rough; and the men, crowded in
so small a craft, grew nervous and uneasy. They hugged the northern shore,
to escape the fury of the wind which blew savagely from the north-east;
while the long, gray sweep of naked forests on their right betokened that
winter was fast closing in. On the twenty-sixth, they reached the
neighborhood of the Indian town of Taiaiagon, [Footnote: This place is
laid down on a manuscript map sent to France by the Intendant Duchesneau,
and now preserved in the Archives de la Marine, and also on several other
contemporary maps.] not far from Toronto; and ran their vessel, for
safety, into the mouth of a river,--probably the Humber,--where the ice
closed about her, and they were forced to cut her out with axes. On the
fifth of December, they attempted to cross to the mouth of the Niagara;
but darkness overtook them, and they spent a comfortless night, tossing on
the troubled lake, five or six miles from shore. In the morning, they
entered the mouth of the Niagara, and landed on the point at its eastern
side, where now stand the historic ramparts of Fort Niagara. Here they
found a small village of Senecas, attracted hither by the fisheries, who
gazed with curious eyes at the vessel, and listened in wonder as the
voyagers sang _Te Deum_, in gratitude for their safe arrival.

Hennepin, with several others, now ascended the river, in a canoe, to the
foot of the mountain ridge of Lewiston, which, stretching on the right
hand and on the left, forms the acclivity of a vast plateau, rent with the
mighty chasm, along which, from this point to the cataract, seven miles
above, rush, with the fury of an Alpine torrent, the gathered waters of
four inland oceans. To urge the canoe farther was impossible. He landed,
with his companions, on the west bank, near the foot of that part of the
ridge now called Queenstown Heights, climbed the steep ascent, and pushed
through the wintry forest on a tour of exploration. On his left sank the
cliffs, the furious river raging below; till at length, in primeval
solitudes, unprofaned as yet by the pettiness of man, the imperial
cataract burst upon his sight. [Footnote: Hennepin's account of the falls
and river of Niagara--especially his second account, on his return from
the West--is very minute, and on the whole very accurate. He indulges in
gross exaggeration as to the height of the cataract, which, in the edition
of 1683, he states at five hundred feet, and raises to six hundred in that
of 1697. He also says that there was room for four carriages to pass
abreast under the American Fall without being wet. This is, of course, an
exaggeration at the best; but it is extremely probable that a great change
has taken place since his time. He speaks of a small lateral fall at the
west side of the Horse Shoe Fall which does not now exist. Table Rock, now
destroyed, is distinctly figured in his picture. He says that he descended
the cliffs on the west side to the foot of the cataract, but that no human
being can get down on the east side.

The name of Niagara, written _Onguiaahra_ by Lalemant in 1641, and
_Ongiara_ by Sanson, on his map of 1657, is used by Hennepin in its
present form. His description of the falls is the earliest known to exist.
They are clearly indicated on the map of Champlain, 1632. For early
references to them, see "The Jesuits in North America," 143. A brief but
curious notice of them is given by Gendron, _Quelques Particularitez du
Pays des Hurons_, 1659. The indefatigable Dr. O'Callaghan has discovered
thirty-nine distinct forms of the name Niagara.--_Index to Colonial
Documents of New York_, 465. It is of Iroquois origin, and in the Mohawk
dialect is pronounced Nyàgarah.]

The explorers passed three miles beyond it, and encamped for the night on
the banks of Chippewa Creek, scraping away the snow, which was a foot
deep, in order to kindle a fire. In the morning they retraced their steps,
startling a number of deer and wild turkeys on their way, and rejoined
their companions at the mouth of the river.

It was La Salle's purpose to build a palisade fort at the mouth of the
Niagara; and the work was now begun, though it was necessary to use hot
water to soften the frozen ground. But frost was not the only obstacle.
The Senecas of the neighboring village betrayed a sullen jealousy at a
design which, indeed, boded them no good. Niagara was the key to the four
great lakes above, and whoever held possession of it could in no small
measure control the fur-trade of the interior. Occupied by the French, it
would, in time of peace, intercept the trade which the Iroquois carried on
between the Western Indians, and the Dutch and English at Albany, and in
time of war threaten them with serious danger. La Motte saw the necessity
of conciliating these formidable neighbors, and, if possible, cajoling
them to give their consent to the plan. La Salle, indeed, had instructed
him to that effect. He resolved on a journey to the great village of the
Senecas, and called on Hennepin, who was busied in building a bark chapel
for himself, to accompany him. They accordingly set out with several men
well armed and equipped, and bearing at their backs presents of very
considerable value. The village was beyond the Genesee, south-east of the
site of Rochester. [Footnote: Near the town of Victor. It is laid down on
the map of Galinée, and other unpublished maps. Compare Marshall,
_Historical Sketches of the Niagara Frontier_, 14.] After a march of five
days, they reached it on the last day of December. They were conducted to
the lodge of the great chief, where they were beset by a staring crowd of
women, and children. Two Jesuits, Raffeix and Julien Garnier, were in the
village; and their presence boded no good for the embassy. La Motte, who
seems to have had little love for priests of any kind, was greatly annoyed
at seeing them; and when the chiefs assembled to hear what he had to say,
he insisted that the two fathers should leave the council-house. At this,
Hennepin, out of respect for his cloth, thought it befitting that he
should retire also. The chiefs, forty-two in number squatted on the
ground, arrayed in ceremonial robes of beaver, wolf, or black squirrel
skin. "The senators of Venice," writes Hennepin, "do not look more grave
or speak more deliberately than the counsellors of the Iroquois." La
Motte's interpreter harangued the attentive conclave, placed gift after
gift at their feet,--coats, scarlet cloth, hatchets, knives, and beads,--
and used all his eloquence to persuade them that the building of a fort at
the mouth of the Niagara, and a vessel on Lake Erie, were measures vital
to their interest. They gladly took the gifts, but answered the
interpreter's speech with evasive generalities; and having been
entertained with the burning of an Indian prisoner, the discomfited
embassy returned, half-famished, to Niagara.

A few days after, Hennepin was near the shore of the lake, when he heard a
well-known voice, and to his surprise saw La Salle approaching. This
resolute child of misfortune had already begun to taste the bitterness of
his destiny. Sailing with Tonty from Fort Frontenac, to bring supplies to
the advanced party at Niagara, he had been detained by contrary winds when
within a few hours of his destination. Anxious to reach it speedily, he
left the vessel in charge of the pilot, who disobeyed his orders, and
ended by wrecking it at a spot nine or ten leagues west of Niagara.
[Footnote: Tonty, _Mémoire envoyé en 1693 sur la Découverte du Mississippi
et des Nations voisines, par le Sieur de la Salle, en 1678, et depuis sa
mort par le Sieur de Tonty_. The published work bearing Tonty's name is a
compilation full of misstatements. He disowned its authorship. Its
authority will not be relied on in this narrative. A copy of the true
document from the original, signed by Tonty, in the Archives de la Marine,
is before me.] The provisions and merchandise were lost, though the crew
saved the anchors and cables destined for the vessel which La Salle
proposed to build for the navigation of the Upper Lakes. He had had a
meeting with the Senecas, before the disaster; and, more fortunate than La
Motte,--for his influence over Indians was great,--had persuaded them to
consent, for a time, to the execution of his plans. They required,
however, that he should so far modify them as to content himself with a
stockaded warehouse, in place of a fort, at the mouth of the Niagara.

The loss of the vessel threw him into extreme perplexity, and, as Hennepin
says, "would have made anybody but him give up the enterprise." [Footnote:
_Description de la Louisiane_ (1683), 41. It is characteristic of
Hennepin, that, in the editions of his book published after La Salle's
death, he substitutes for "anybody but him," "anybody but those who had
formed so generous a design," meaning to include himself, though he lost
nothing by the disaster, and had not formed the design.] The whole party
were now gathered within the half-finished palisades of Niagara; a motley
crew of French, Flemings, and Italians, all mutually jealous. Some of the
men had been tampered with by La Salle's enemies. None of them seem to
have had much heart for the enterprise. La Motte had gone back to Canada.
He had been a soldier, and perhaps a good one; but he had already broken
down under the hardships of these winter journeyings. La Salle, seldom
happy in the choice of subordinates, had, perhaps, in all his company but
one man in whom he could confidently trust; and this was Tonty. He and
Hennepin were on indifferent terms. Men thrown together in a rugged
enterprise like this quickly learn to know each other; and the vain and
assuming friar was not likely to commend himself to La Salle's brave and
loyal lieutenant. Hennepin says that it was La Salle's policy to govern
through the dissensions of his followers; and, from whatever cause, it is
certain that those beneath him were rarely in perfect harmony.



A more important work than that of the warehouse at the mouth of the river
was now to be begun. This was the building of a vessel above the cataract.
The small craft which had brought La Motte and Hennepin with their
advanced party had been hauled to the foot of the rapids at Lewiston, and
drawn ashore with a capstan to save her from the drifting ice. Her lading
was taken out, and must now be carried beyond the cataract to the calm
water above. The distance to the destined point was at least twelve miles,
and the steep heights above Lewiston must first be climbed. This heavy
task was accomplished on the twenty-second of January. The level of the
plateau was reached, and the file of burdened men, some thirty in number,
toiled slowly on its way over the snowy plains and through the gloomy
forests of spruce and naked oak trees; while Hennepin plodded through the
drifts with his portable altar lashed fast to his back. They came at last
to the mouth of a stream which entered the Niagara two leagues above the
cataract, and which was undoubtedly that now called Cayuga Creek.
[Footnote: It has been a matter of debate on which side of the Niagara the
first vessel on the Upper Lakes was built. A close study of Hennepin, and
a careful examination of the localities, have convinced me that the spot
was that indicated above. Hennepin repeatedly alludes to a large detached
rock rising out of the water at the foot of the rapids above Lewiston, on
the west side of the river. This rock may still be seen, immediately under
the western end of the Lewiston suspension-bridge. Persons living in the
neighborhood remember that a ferry-boat used to pass between it and the
cliffs of the western shore; but it has since been undermined by the
current and has inclined in that direction, so that a considerable part of
it is submerged, while the gravel and earth thrown down from the cliff
during the building of the bridge has filled the intervening channel.
Opposite to this rock, and on the east side of the river, says Hennepin,
are three mountains, about two leagues below the cataract.--_Nouveau
Voyage_ (1704), 462, 466. To these "three mountains," as well as to the
rock, he frequently alludes. They are also spoken of by La Hontan, who
clearly indicates their position. They consist in the three successive
grades of the acclivity: first, that which rises from the level of the
water, forming the steep and lofty river bank; next, an intermediate
ascent, crowned by a sort of terrace, where the tired men could find a
second resting-place and lay down their burdens, whence a third effort
carried them with difficulty to the level top of the plateau. That this
was the actual "portage" or carrying place of the travellers is shown by
Hennepin (1704), 114, who describes the carrying of anchors and other
heavy articles up these heights in August, 1679. La Hontan also passed the
falls by way of the "three mountains" eight years later.--La Hontan,
(1703), 106. It is clear, then, that the portage was on the east side,
whence it would be safe to conclude that the vessel was built on the same
side. Hennepin says that she was built at the mouth of a stream
(_rivière_) entering the Niagara two leagues above the falls. Excepting
one or two small brooks, there is no stream on the west side but Chippewa
Creek, which Hennepin had visited and correctly placed at about a league
from the cataract. His distances on the Niagara are usually correct. On
the east side there is a stream which perfectly answers the conditions.
This is Cayuga Creek, two leagues above the Falls. Immediately in front of
it is an island about a mile long, separated from the shore by a narrow
and deep arm of the Niagara, into which Cayuga Creek discharges itself.
The place is so obviously suited to building and launching a vessel, that,
in the early part of this century, the government of the United States
chose it for the construction of a schooner to carry supplies to the
garrisons of the Upper Lakes. The neighboring village now bears the name
of La Salle.

In examining this and other localities on the Niagara, I have been greatly
aided by my friend, O. H. Marshall, Esq., of Buffalo, who is unrivalled in
his knowledge of the history and traditions of the Niagara frontier.]

Trees were felled, the place cleared, and the master-carpenter set his
ship-builders at work. Meanwhile two Mohegan hunters, attached to the
party, made bark wigwams to lodge the men. Hennepin had his chapel,
apparently of the same material, where he placed his altar, and on Sundays
and saints' days said mass, preached, and exhorted; while some of the men,
who knew the Gregorian chant, lent their aid at the service. When the
carpenters were ready to lay the keel of the vessel, La Salle asked the
friar to drive the first bolt; "but the modesty of my religious
profession," he says, "compelled me to decline this honor."

Fortunately, it was the hunting-season of the Iroquois, and most of the
Seneca warriors were in the forests south of Lake Erie; yet enough
remained to cause serious uneasiness. They loitered sullenly about the
place, expressing their displeasure at the proceedings of the French. One
of them, pretending to be drunk, attacked the blacksmith and tried to kill
him; but the Frenchman, brandishing a red-hot bar of iron, held him at bay
till Hennepin ran to the rescue, when, as he declares, the severity of his
rebuke caused the savage to desist. [Footnote: Hennepin (1704), 97. On a
paper drawn up at the instance of the Intendant Duchesneau, the names of
the greater number of La Salle's men are preserved. These agree with those
given by Hennepin: thus the master-carpenter, whom he calls Maitre Moyse,
appears as Moïse Hillaret, and the blacksmith, whom he calls La Forge, is
mentioned as--(illegible) dit la Forge.] The work of the ship-builders
advanced rapidly; and when the Indian visitors beheld the vast ribs of the
wooden monster, their jealousy was redoubled. A squaw told the French that
they meant to burn the vessel on the stocks. All now stood anxiously on
the watch. Cold, hunger, and discontent found imperfect antidotes in
Tonty's energy and Hennepin's sermons.

La Salle was absent, and his lieutenant commanded in his place. Hennepin
says that Tonty was jealous because he, the friar, kept a journal, and
that he was forced to use all manner of just precautions to prevent the
Italian from seizing it. The men, being half-starved in consequence of the
loss of their provisions on Lake Ontario, were restless and moody; and
their discontent was fomented by one of their number, who had very
probably been tampered with by La Salle's enemies. [Footnote: "This bad
man" says Hennepin, "would infallibly have debauched our workmen, if I had
not reassured them by the exhortations which I made them on Fête Days and
Sundays, after divine service." (1704), 98.] The Senecas refused to supply
them with corn, and the frequent exhortations of the Récollet father
proved an insufficient substitute. In this extremity, the two Mohegans did
excellent service; bringing deer and other game, which relieved the most
pressing wants of the party and went far to restore their cheerfulness.

La Salle, meanwhile, was making his way back on foot to Fort Frontenac, a
distance of some two hundred and fifty miles, through the snow-encumbered
forests of the Iroquois and over the ice of Lake Ontario. The wreck of his
vessel made it necessary that fresh supplies should be sent to Niagara;
and the condition of his affairs, embarrassed by the great expenses of the
enterprise, demanded his presence at Fort Frontenac. Two men attended him,
and a dog dragged his baggage on a sledge. For food, they had only a bag
of parched corn, which failed them two days before they reached the fort;
and they made the rest of the journey fasting.

During his absence, Tonty finished the vessel, which was of about forty-
five tons burden. [Footnote: Hennepin (1683), 46. In the edition of 1697,
he says that it was of sixty tons. I prefer to follow the earlier and more
trustworthy narrative.] As spring opened, she was ready for launching. The
friar pronounced his blessing on her; the assembled company sang _Te
Deum_; cannon were fired; and French and Indians, warmed alike by a
generous gift of brandy, shouted and yelped in chorus as she glided into
the Niagara. Her builders towed her out and anchored her in the stream,
safe at last from incendiary hands, and then, swinging their hammocks
under her deck, slept in peace, beyond reach of the tomahawk. The Indians
gazed on her with amazement. Five small cannon looked out from her
portholes; and on her prow was carved a portentous monster, the Griffin,
whose name she bore, in honor of the armorial bearings of Frontenac. La
Salle had often been heard to say that he would make the griffin fly above
the crows, or, in other words, make Frontenac triumph over the Jesuits.

They now took her up the river, and made her fast below the swift current
at Black Rock. Here they finished her equipment, and waited for La Salle's
return; but the absent commander did not appear. The spring and more than
half of the summer had passed before they saw him again. At length, early
in August, he arrived at the mouth of the Niagara, bringing three more
friars; for, though no friend of the Jesuits, he was zealous for the
Faith, and was rarely without a missionary in his journeyings. Like
Hennepin, the three friars were all Flemings. One of them, Melithon
Watteau, was to remain at Niagara; the others, Zenobe Membré and Gabriel
Ribourde, were to preach the Faith among the tribes of the West. Ribourde
was a hale and cheerful old man of sixty-four. He went four times up and
down the Lewiston heights, while the men were climbing the steep pathway
with their loads. It required four of them, well stimulated with brandy,
to carry up the principal anchor destined for the "Griffin."

La Salle brought a tale of disaster. His enemies, bent on ruining the
enterprise, had given out that he was embarked on a harebrained venture,
from which he would never return. His creditors, excited by rumors set
afloat to that end, had seized on all his property in the settled parts of
Canada, though his seigniory of Fort Frontenac alone would have more than
sufficed to pay all his debts. There was no remedy. To defer the
enterprise would have been to give his adversaries the triumph that they
sought; and he hardened himself against the blow with his usual stoicism.



The "Griffin" had lain moored by the shore, so near that Hennepin could
preach on Sundays from the deck to the men encamped along the bank. She
was now forced up against the current with tow-ropes and sails, till she
reached the calm entrance of Lake Erie. On the seventh of August, the
voyagers, thirty-four in all, embarked, sang _Te Deum_, and fired their
cannon. A fresh breeze sprang up; and with swelling canvas the "Griffin"
ploughed the virgin waves of Lake Erie, where sail was never seen before.
For three days they held their course over these unknown waters, and on
the fourth turned northward into the strait of Detroit. Here, on the right
hand and on the left, lay verdant prairies, dotted with groves and
bordered with lofty forests. They saw walnut, chestnut, and wild plum
trees, and oaks festooned with grape-vines; herds of deer, and flocks of
swans and wild turkeys. The bulwarks of the "Griffin" were plentifully
hung with game which the men killed on shore, and among the rest with a
number of bears, much commended by Hennepin for their want of ferocity and
the excellence of their flesh. "Those," he says, "who will one day have
the happiness to possess this fertile and pleasant strait, will be very
much obliged to those who have shown them the way." They crossed Lake St.
Clair, [Footnote: They named it Sainte Claire, of which the present name
is a perversion.] and still sailed northward against the current, till
now, sparkling in the sun, Lake Huron spread before them like a sea.

For a time, they bore on prosperously. Then the wind died to a calm, then
freshened to a gale, then rose to a furious tempest; and the vessel tossed
wildly among the short, steep, perilous waves of the raging lake. Even La
Salle called on his followers to commend themselves to Heaven. All fell to
their prayers but the godless pilot, who was loud in complaint against his
commander for having brought him, after the honor he had won on the ocean,
to drown at last ignominiously in fresh water. The rest clamored to the
saints. St. Anthony of Padua was promised a chapel to be built in his
honor, if he would but save them from their jeopardy; while in the same
breath La Salle and the friars declared him patron of their great
enterprise. [Footnote: Hennepin (1683), 58.] The saint heard their
prayers. The obedient winds were tamed; and the "Griffin" plunged on her
way through foaming surges that still grew calmer as she advanced. Now the
sun shone forth on woody islands, Bois Blanc and Mackinaw and the distant
Manitoulins,--on the forest wastes of Michigan and the vast blue bosom of
the angry lake; and now her port was won, and she found her rest behind
the point of St. Ignace of Michillimackinac, floating in that tranquil
cove where crystal waters cover but cannot hide the pebbly depths beneath.
Before her rose the house and chapel of the Jesuits, enclosed with
palisades; on the right, the Huron village, with its bark cabins and its
fence of tall pickets; on the left, the square compact houses of the
French traders; and, not far off, the clustered wigwams of an Ottawa
village. [Footnote: There is a rude plan of the establishment in La
Hontan, though, in several editions, its value is destroyed by the
reversal of the plate.] Here was a centre of the Jesuit missions, and a
centre of the Indian trade; and here, under the shadow of the cross, was
much sharp practice in the service of Mammon. Keen traders, with or
without a license; and lawless _coureurs de bois_, whom a few years of
forest life had weaned from civilization, made St. Ignace their resort;
and here there were many of them when the "Griffin" came. They and their
employers hated and feared La Salle, who, sustained as he was by the
Governor, might set at nought the prohibition of the king, debarring him
from traffic with these tribes. Yet, while plotting against him, they took
pains to allay his distrust by a show of welcome.

The "Griffin" fired her cannon, and the Indians yelped in wonder and
amazement. The adventurers landed in state, and marched, under arms, to
the bark chapel of the Ottawa village, where they heard mass. La Salle
knelt before the altar, in a mantle of scarlet, bordered with gold.
Soldiers, sailors, and artisans knelt around him,--black Jesuits, gray
Récollets, swarthy _voyageurs_ and painted savages; a devout but motley

As they left the chapel, the Ottawa chiefs came to bid them welcome, and
the Hurons saluted them with a volley of musketry. They saw the "Griffin"
at her anchorage, surrounded by more than a hundred bark canoes, like a
Triton among minnows. Yet it was with more wonder than good-will that the
Indians of the mission gazed on the floating fort, for so they called the
vessel. A deep jealousy of La Salle's designs had been, infused into them.
His own followers, too, had been tampered with. In the autumn before, it
may be remembered, he had sent fifteen men up the lakes, to trade for him,
with orders to go thence to the Illinois, and make preparation against his
coming. Early in the summer, Tonty had been despatched in a canoe, from
Niagara, to look after them. [Footnote: Tonty, _Mémoire_, MS. He was
overtaken at the Detroit by the "Griffin."] It was high time. Most of the
men had been seduced from their duty, and had disobeyed their orders,
squandered the goods intrusted to them, or used them in trading on their
own account. La Salle found four of them at Michillimackinac. These he
arrested, and sent Tonty to the Falls of Ste. Marie, where two others were
captured, with their plunder. The rest were in the woods, and it was
useless to pursue them.

Early in September, long before Tonty had returned from Ste. Marie, La
Salle set sail again, and, passing westward into Lake Michigan, [Footnote:
Then usually known as Lac des Illinois, because it gave access to the
country of the tribes so called. Three years before, Allouez gave it the
name of Lac St. Joseph, by which it is often designated by the early
writers. Membré, Douay, and others, call it Lac Dauphin.] cast anchor near
one of the islands at the entrance of Green Bay. Here, for once, he found
a friend in the person of a Pottawattamie chief, who had been so wrought
upon by the politic kindness of Frontenac, that he declared himself ready
to die for the children of Onontio. [Footnote: "The Great Mountain," the
Iroquois name for the Governor of Canada. It was borrowed by other tribes
also.] Here, too, he found several of his advanced party, who had remained
faithful, and collected a large store of furs. It would have been better
had they proved false, like the rest. La Salle, who asked counsel of no
man, resolved, in spite of his followers, to send back the "Griffin,"
laden with these furs, and others collected on the way, to satisfy his
creditors. [Footnote: In the license of discovery, granted to La Salle, he
is expressly prohibited from trading with the Ottawas and others who
brought furs to Montreal. This traffic on the lakes was, therefore,
illicit. His enemy, the Intendant Duchesneau, afterwards used this against

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