Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Voyages of Samuel de Champlain, Vol. 1 by Samuel de Champlain

Part 2 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

had no want of fuel and pure water. But experience, bitter as it had been,
did not yield to them the fruit of practical wisdom. They referred their
sufferings to the climate, but took too little pains to protect themselves
against its rugged power. Their dwellings, hastily thrown together, were
cold and damp, arising from the green, unseasoned wood of which they were
doubtless in part constructed, and from the standing rainwater with which
their foundations were at all times inundated, which was neither diverted
by embankments nor drawn away by drainage. The dreaded _mal de la terre_,
or scurvy, as might have been anticipated, made its appearance in the early
part of the season, causing the death of twelve out of the forty-five
comprising their whole number, while others were prostrated by this
painful, repulsive, and depressing disease.

The purpose of making further discoveries on the southern coast, warmly
cherished by Champlain, and entering fully into the plans of De Monts, had
not been forgotten. Three times during the early part of the summer they
had equipped their barque, made up their party, and left Port Royal for
this undertaking, and as many times had been driven back by the violence of
the winds and the waves.

In the mean time, the supplies which had been promised and expected from
France had not arrived. This naturally gave to Pont Gravé, the lieutenant,
great anxiety, as without them it was clearly inexpedient to venture upon
another winter in the wilds of La Cadie. It had been stipulated by De
Monts, the patentee, that if succors did not arrive before the middle of
July, Pont Gravé should make arrangements for the return of the colony by
the fishing vessels to be found at the Grand Banks. Accordingly, on the
17th of that month, Pont Gravé set sail with the little colony in two
barques, and proceeded towards Cape Breton, to seek a passage home. But De
Monts had not been remiss in his duty. He had, after many difficulties and
delays, despatched a vessel of a hundred and fifty tons, called the
"Jonas," with fifty men and ample provisions for the approaching winter.
While Pont Gravé with his two barques and his retreating colony had run
into Yarmouth Bay for repairs, the "Jonas" passed him unobserved, and
anchored in the basin before the deserted settlement of Port Royal. An
advice-boat had, however, been wisely despatched by the "Jonas" to
reconnoitre the inlets along the shore, which fortunately intercepted the
departing colony near Cape Sable, and, elated with fresh news from home,
they joyfully returned to the quarters they had so recently abandoned.

In addition to a considerable number of artisans and laborers for the
colony, the "Jonas" had brought out Sieur De Poutrincourt, to remain as
lieutenant of La Cadie, and likewise Marc Lescarbot, a young attorney of
Paris, who had already made some scholarly attainments, and who
subsequently distinguished himself as an author, especially by the
publication of a history of New France.

De Poutrincourt immediately addressed himself to putting all things in
order at Port Royal, where it was obviously expedient for the colony to
remain, at least for the winter. As soon as the "Jonas" had been unladen,
Pont Gravé and most of those who had shared his recent hardships, departed
in her for the shores of France. When the tenements had been cleansed,
refitted, and refurnished, and their provisions had been safely stored, De
Poutrincourt, by way of experiment, to test the character of the climate
and the capability of the soil, despatched a squad of gardeners and farmers
five miles up the river, to the grounds now occupied by the village of
Annapolis, [51] where the soil was open, clear of forest trees, and easy of
cultivation. They planted a great variety of seeds, wheat, rye, hemp, flax,
and of garden esculents, which grew with extraordinary luxuriance, but, as
the season was too late for any of them to ripen, the experiment failed
either as a test of the soil or the climate.

On a former visit in 1604, De Poutrincourt had conceived a great admiration
for Annapolis basin, its protected situation, its fine scenery, and its
rich soil. He had a strong desire to bring his family there and make it his
permanent abode. With this design, he had requested and received from De
Monts a personal grant of this region, which had also been confirmed to him
[52] by Henry IV. But De Monts wished to plant his La Cadian colony in a
milder and more genial climate. He had therefore enjoined upon De
Poutrincourt, as his lieutenant, on leaving France, to continue the
explorations for the selection of a site still farther to the south.
Accordingly, on the 5th of September, 1606, De Poutrincourt left Annapolis
Basin, which the French called Port Royal, in a barque of eighteen tons, to
fulfil this injunction.

It was Champlain's opinion that they ought to sail directly for Nauset
harbor, on Cape Cod, and commence their explorations where their search had
terminated the preceding year, and thus advance into a new region, which
had not already been surveyed. But other counsels prevailed, and a large
part of the time which could be spared for this investigation was exhausted
before they reached the harbor of Nauset. They made a brief visit to the
island of St. Croix, in which De Monts had wintered in 1604-5, touched also
at Saco, where the Indians had already completed their harvest, and the
grapes at Bacchus Island were ripe and luscious. Thence sailing directly to
Cape Anne, where, finding no safe roadstead, they passed round to
Gloucester harbor, which they found spacious, well protected, with good
depth of water, and which, for its great excellence and attractive scenery,
they named _Beauport_, or the beautiful harbor. Here they remained several
days. It was a native settlement, comprising two hundred savages, who were
cultivators of the soil, which was prolific in corn, beans, melons,
pumpkins, tobacco, and grapes. The harbor was environed with fine forest
trees, as hickory, oak, ash, cypress, and sassafras. Within the town there
were several patches of cultivated land, which the Indians were gradually
augmenting by felling the trees, burning the wood, and after a few years,
aided by the natural process of decay, eradicating the stumps. The French
were kindly received and entertained with generous hospitality. Grapes just
gathered from the vines, and squashes of several varieties, the trailing
bean still well known in New England, and the Jerusalem artichoke crisp
from the unexhausted soil, were presented as offerings of welcome to their
guests. While these gifts were doubtless tokens of a genuine friendliness
so far as the savages were capable of that virtue, the lurking spirit of
deceit and treachery which had been inherited and fostered by their habits
and mode of life, could not be restrained.

The French barque was lying at anchor a short distance northeast of Ten
Pound Island. Its boat was undergoing repairs on a peninsula near by, now
known as Rocky Neck, and the sailors were washing their linen just at the
point where the peninsula is united to the mainland. While Champlain was
walking on this causeway, he observed about fifty savages, completely
armed, cautiously screening themselves behind a clump of bushes on the edge
of Smith's Cove. As soon as they were aware that they were seen, they came
forth, concealing their weapons as much as possible, and began to dance in
token of a friendly greeting. But when they discovered De Poutrincourt in
the wood near by, who had approached unobserved, with eight armed
musketeers to disperse them in case of an attack, they immediately took to
flight, and, scattering in all directions, made no further hostile
demonstrations. [53] This serio-comic incident did not interfere with the
interchange of friendly offices between the two parties, and when the
voyagers were about to leave, the savages urged them with great earnestness
to remain longer, assuring them that two thousand of their friends would
pay them a visit the very next day. This invitation was, however, not
heeded. In Champlain's opinion it was a _ruse_ contrived only to furnish a
fresh opportunity to attack and overpower them.

On the 30th of September, they left the harbor of Gloucester, and, during
the following night, sailing in a southerly direction, passing Brant Point,
they found themselves in the lower part of Cape Cod Bay. When the sun rose,
a low, sandy shore stretched before them. Sending their boat forward to a
place where the shore seemed more elevated, they found deeper water and a
harbor, into which they entered in five or six fathoms. They were welcomed
by three Indian canoes. They found oysters in such quantities in this bay,
and of such excellent quality, that they named it _Le Port aux Huistres_,
[54] or Oyster Harbor. After a few hours, they weighed anchor, and
directing their course north, a quarter northeast, with a favoring wind,
soon doubled Cape Cod. The next day, the 2d of October, they arrived off
Nauset. De Poutrincourt, Champlain, and others entered the harbor in a
small boat, where they were greeted by a hundred and fifty savages with
singing and dancing, according to their usual custom. After a brief visit,
they returned to the barque and continued their course along the sandy
shore. When near the heel of the cape, off Chatham, they found themselves
imperilled among breakers and sand-banks, so dangerous as to render it
inexpedient to attempt to land, even with a small boat. The savages were
observing them from the shore, and soon manned a canoe, and came to them
with singing and demonstrations of joy. From them, they learned that lower
down a harbor would be found, where their barque might ride in safety.
Proceeding, therefore, in the same direction, after many difficulties, they
succeeded in rounding the peninsula of Monomoy, and finally, in the gray of
the evening, cast anchor in the offing near Chatham, now known as Old Stage
Harbor. The next day they entered, passing between Harding's Beach Point
and Morris Island, in two fathoms of water, and anchored in Stage Harbor.
This harbor is about a mile long and half a mile wide, and at its western
extremity is connected by tide-water with Oyster Pond, and with Mill Cove
on the east by Mitchell's River. Mooring their barque between these two
arms of the harbor, towards the westerly end, the explorers remained there
about three weeks. It was the centre of an Indian settlement, containing
five or six hundred persons. Although it was now well into October, the
natives of both sexes were entirely naked, with the exception of a slight
band about the loins. They subsisted upon fish and the products of the
soil. Indian corn was their staple. It was secured in the autumn in bags
made of braided grass, and buried in the sand-banks, and withdrawn as it
was needed during the winter. The savages were of fine figure and of olive
complexion. They adorned themselves with an embroidery skilfully interwoven
with feathers and beads, and dressed their hair in a variety of braids,
like those at Saco. Their dwellings were conical in shape, covered with
thatch of rushes and corn-husks, and surrounded by cultivated fields. Each
cabin contained one or two beds, a kind of matting, two or three inches in
thickness, spread upon a platform on which was a layer of elastic staves,
and the whole raised a foot from the ground. On these they secured
refreshing repose. Their chiefs neither exercised nor claimed any superior
authority, except in time of war. At all other times and in all other
matters complete equality reigned throughout the tribe.

The stay at Chatham was necessarily prolonged in baking bread to serve the
remainder of the voyage, and in repairing their barque, whose rudder had
been badly shattered in the rough passage round the cape. For these
purposes, a bakery and a forge were set up on shore, and a tent pitched for
the convenience and protection of the workmen. While these works were in
progress, De Poutrincourt, Champlain, and others made frequent excursions
into the interior, always with a guard of armed men, sometimes making a
circuit of twelve or fifteen miles. The explorers were fascinated with all
they saw. The aroma of the autumnal forest and the balmy air of October
stimulated their senses. The nut-trees were loaded with ripe fruit, and the
rich clusters of grapes were hanging temptingly upon the vines. Wild game
was plentiful and delicious. The fish of the bay were sweet, delicate, and
of many varieties. Nature, unaided by art, had thus supplied so many human
wants that Champlain gravely put upon record his opinion that this would be
a most excellent place in which to lay the foundations of a commonwealth,
if the harbor were deeper and better protected at its mouth.

After the voyagers had been in Chatham eight or nine days, the Indians,
tempted by the implements which they saw about the forge and bakery,
conceived the idea of taking forcible possession of them, in order to
appropriate them to their own use. As a preparation for this, and
particularly to put themselves in a favorable condition in case of an
attack or reprisal, they were seen removing their women, children, and
effects into the forests, and even taking down their cabins. De
Poutrincourt, observing this, gave orders to the workmen to pass their
nights no longer on shore, but to go on board the barque to assure their
personal safety. This command, however, was not obeyed. The next morning,
at break of day, four hundred savages, creeping softly over a hill in the
rear, surrounded the tent, and poured such a volley of arrows upon the
defenceless workmen that escape was impossible. Three of them were killed
upon the spot; a fourth was mortally and a fifth badly wounded. The alarm
was given by the sentinel on the barque. De Poutrincourt, Champlain, and
the rest, aroused from their slumbers, rushed half-clad into the ship's
boat, and hastened to the rescue. As soon as they touched the shore, the
savages, fleet as the greyhound, escaped to the wood. Pursuit, under the
circumstances, was not to be made; and, if it had been, would have ended in
their utter destruction. Freed from immediate danger, they collected the
dead and gave them Christian burial near the foot of a cross, which had
been erected the day before. While the service of prayer and song was
offered, the savages in the distance mocked them with derisive attitudes
and hideous howls. Three hours after the French had retired to their
barque, the miscreants returned, tore down the cross, disinterred the dead,
and carried off the garments in which they had been laid to rest. They were
immediately driven off by the French, the cross was restored to its place,
and the dead reinterred.

Before leaving Chatham, some anxiety was felt in regard to their safety in
leaving the harbor, as the little barque had scarcely been able to weather
the rough seas of Monomoy on their inward voyage. A boat had been sent out
in search of a safer and a better roadway, which, creeping along by the
shore sixteen or eighteen miles, returned, announcing three fathoms of
water, and neither bars nor reefs. On the 16th of October they gave their
canvas to the breeze, and sailed out of Stage Harbor, which they had named
_Port Fortuné_, [55] an appellation probably suggested by their narrow
escape in entering and by the bloody tragedy to which we have just
referred. Having gone eighteen or twenty miles, they sighted the island of
Martha's Vineyard lying low in the distance before them, which they called
_La Soupçonneuse_, the suspicious one, as they had several times been in
doubt whether it were not a part of the mainland. A contrary wind forced
them to return to their anchorage in Stage Harbor. On the 20th they set out
again, and continued their course in a southwesterly direction until they
reached the entrance of Vineyard Sound. The rapid current of tide water
flowing from Buzzard's Bay into the sound through the rocky channel between
Nonamesset and Wood's Holl, they took to be a river coming from the
mainland, and named it _Rivière de Champlain_.

This point, in front of Wood's Holl, is the southern limit of the French
explorations on the coast of New England, reached by them on the 20th of
October, 1606.

Encountering a strong wind, approaching a gale, they were again forced to
return to Stage Harbor, where they lingered two or three days, awaiting
favoring winds for their return to the colony at the bay of Annapolis.

We regret to add that, while they were thus detained, under the very shadow
of the cross they had recently erected, the emblem of a faith that teaches
love and forgiveness, they decoyed, under the guise of friendship, several
of the poor savages into their power, and inhumanly butchered them in cold
blood. This deed was perpetrated on the base principle of _lex talionis_,
and yet they did not know, much less were they able to prove, that their
victims were guilty or took any part in the late affray. No form of trial
was observed, no witnesses testified, and no judge adjudicated. It was a
simple murder, for which we are sure any Christian's cheek would mantle
with shame who should offer for it any defence or apology.

When this piece of barbarity had been completed, the little French barque
made its final exit from Stage Harbor, passed successfully round the shoals
of Monomoy, and anchored near Nauset, where they remained a day or two,
leaving on the 28th of October, and sailing directly to Isle Haute in
Penobscot Bay. They made brief stops at some of the islands at the mouth of
the St. Croix, and at the Grand Manan, and arrived at Annapolis Basin on
the 14th of November, after an exceedingly rough passage and many
hair-breadth escapes.


50. On Lescarbot's map of 1609, this elevation is denominated _Mont de la
Roque_. _Vide_ also Vol. II. note 180.

51. Lescarbot locates Poutrincourt's fort on the same spot which he called
_Manefort_, the site of the present village of Annapolis.

52. "Doncques l'an 1607, tous les François estans reuenus (ainsi qu'a esté
dict) le Sieur de Potrincourt présenta à feu d'immortelle memorie Henry
le Grand la donnation à luy faicte par le sieur de Monts, requérant
humblement Sa Majesté de la ratifier. Le Roy eut pour agréable la dicte
Requeste," &c. _Relations des Jésuites_, 1611, Quebec ed., Vol. I. p.
25. _Vide_ Vol. II. of this work, p 37.

53. This scene is well represented on Champlain's map of _Beauport_ or
Gloucester Harbor. _Vide_ Vol. II. p. 114.

54. _Le Port aux Huistres_, Barnstable Harbor. _Vide_ Vol. II. Note 208.

55. _Port Fortuné_ In giving this name there was doubtless an allusion to
the goddess FORTUNA of the ancients, whose office it was to dispense
riches and poverty, pleasures and pains, blessings and calamities They
had experienced good and evil at her fickle hand. They had entered the
harbor in peril and fear, but nevertheless in safety. They had suffered
by the attack of the savages, but fortunately had escaped utter
annihilation, which they might well have feared. It had been to them
eminently the port of hazard or chance. _Vide_ Vol. II Note 231 _La
Soupçonneuse_. _Vide_ Vol. II, Note 227.



With the voyage which we have described in the last chapter, Champlain
terminated his explorations on the coast of New England. He never afterward
stepped upon her soil. But he has left us, nevertheless, an invaluable
record of the character, manners, and customs of the aborigines as he saw
them all along from the eastern borders of Maine to the Vineyard Sound, and
carefully studied them during the period of three consecutive years. Of the
value of these explorations we need not here speak at length. We shall
refer to them again in the sequel.

The return of the explorers was hailed with joy by the colonists at
Annapolis Basin. To give _éclat_ to the occasion, Lescarbot composed a poem
in French, which he recited at the head of a procession which marched with
gay representations to the water's edge, to receive their returning
friends. Over the gateway of the quadrangle formed by their dwellings,
dignified by them as their fort, were the arms of France, wreathed in
laurel, together with the motto of the king.--


Under this, the arms of De Monts were displayed, overlaid with evergreen,
and bearing the following inscription:--


Then came the arms of Poutrincourt, crowned also with garlands, and


When the excitement of the return had passed, the little settlement
subsided into its usual routine. The leisure of the winter was devoted to
various objects bearing upon the future prosperity of the colony. Among
others, a corn mill was erected at a fall on Allen River, four or five
miles from the settlement, a little east of the present site of Annapolis.
A road was commenced through the forest leading from Lower Granville
towards the mouth of the bay. Two small barques were built, to be in
readiness in anticipation of a failure to receive succors the next summer,
and new buildings were erected for the accommodation of a larger number of
colonists. Still, there was much unoccupied time, and, shut out as they
were from the usual associations of civilized life, it was hardly possible
that the winter should not seem long and dreary, especially to the

To break up the monotony and add variety to the dull routine of their life,
Champlain contrived what he called L'ORDRE DE BON TEMPS, or The Rule of
Mirth, which was introduced and carried out with spirit and success. The
fifteen gentlemen who sat at the table of De Poutrincourt, the governor,
comprising the whole number of the order, took turns in performing the
duties of steward and caterer, each holding the office for a single day.
With a laudable ambition, the Grand Master for the time being laid the
forest and the sea under contribution, and the table was constantly
furnished with the most delicate and well seasoned game, and the sweetest
as well as the choicest varieties of fish. The frequent change of office
and the ingenuity displayed, offered at every repast, either in the viands
or mode of cooking, something new and tempting to the appetite. At each
meal, a ceremony becoming the dignity of the order was strictly observed.
At a given signal, the whole company marched into the dining-hall, the
Grand Master at the head, with his napkin over his shoulder, his staff of
office in his hand, and the glittering collar of the order about his neck,
while the other members bore each in his hand a dish loaded and smoking
with some part of the delicious repast. A ceremony of a somewhat similar
character was observed at the bringing in of the fruit. At the close of the
day, when the last meal had been served, and grace had been said, the
master formally completed his official duty by placing the collar of the
order upon the neck of his successor, at the same time presenting to him a
cup of wine, in which the two drank to each other's health and happiness.
These ceremonies were generally witnessed by thirty or forty savages, men,
women, boys, and girls, who gazed in respectful admiration, not to say awe,
upon this exhibition of European civilization. When Membertou, [56] the
venerable chief of the tribe, or other sagamores were present, they were
invited to a seat at the table, while bread was gratuitously distributed to
the rest.

When the winter had passed, which proved to be an exceedingly mild one, all
was astir in the little colony. The preparation of the soil, both in the
gardens and in the larger fields, for the spring sowing, created an
agreeable excitement and healthy activity.

On the 24th May, in the midst of these agricultural enterprises, a boat
arrived in the bay, in charge of a young man from St. Malo, named
Chevalier, who had come out in command of the "Jonas," which he had left at
Canseau engaged in fishing for the purpose of making up a return cargo of
that commodity. Chevalier brought two items of intelligence of great
interest to the colonists, but differing widely in their character. The one
was the birth of a French prince, the Duke of Orleans; the other, that the
company of De Monts had been broken up, his monopoly of the fur-trade
withdrawn, and his colony ordered to return to France. The birth of a
prince demanded expressions of joy, and the event was loyally celebrated by
bonfires and a _Te Deum_. It was, however, giving a song when they would
gladly have hung their harps upon the willows.

While the scheme of De Monts's colonial enterprise was defective,
containing in itself a principle which must sooner or later work its ruin,
the disappointment occasioned by its sudden termination was none the less
painful and humiliating. The monopoly on which it was based could only be
maintained by a degree of severity and apparent injustice, which always
creates enemies and engenders strife. The seizure and confiscation of
several ships with their valuable cargoes on the shores of Nova Scotia, had
awakened a personal hostility in influential circles in France, and the
sufferers were able, in turn, to strike back a damaging blow upon the
author of their losses. They easily and perhaps justly represented that the
monopoly of the fur-trade secured to De Monts was sapping the national
commerce and diverting to personal emolument revenues that properly
belonged to the state. To an impoverished sovereign with an empty treasury
this appeal was irresistible. The sacredness of the king's commission and
the loss to the patentee of the property already embarked in the enterprise
had no weight in the royal scales. De Monts's privilege was revoked, with
the tantalizing salvo of six thousand livres in remuneration, to be
collected at his own expense from unproductive sources.

Under these circumstances, no money for the payment of the workmen or
provisions for the coming winter had been sent out, and De Poutrincourt,
with great reluctance, proceeded to break up the establishment The goods
and utensils, as well as specimens of the grain which they had raised, were
to be carefully packed and sent round to the harbor of Canseau, to be
shipped by the "Jonas," together with the whole body of the colonists, as
soon as she should have received her cargo of fish.

While these preparations were in progress, two excursions were made; one
towards the west, and another northeasterly towards the head of the Bay of
Fundy. Lescarbot accompanied the former, passing several days at St. John
and the island of St. Croix, which was the westerly limit of his
explorations and personal knowledge of the American coast. The other
excursion was conducted by De Poutrincourt, accompanied by Champlain, the
object of which was to search for ores of the precious metals, a species of
wealth earnestly coveted and overvalued at the court of France. They sailed
along the northern shores of Nova Scotia, entered Mines Channel, and
anchored off Cape Fendu, now Anglicised into the uneuphonious name of Cape
Split. De Poutrincourt landed on this headland, and ascended a steep and
lofty summit which is not less than four hundred feet in height. Moss
several feet in thickness, the growth of centuries, had gathered upon it,
and, when he stood upon the pinnacle, it yielded and trembled like gelatine
under his feet. He found himself in a critical situation. From this giddy
and unstable height he had neither the skill or courage to return. After
much anxiety, he was at length rescued by some of his more nimble sailors,
who managed to put a hawser over the summit, by means of which he safely
descended. They named it _Cap de Poutrincourt_.

They proceeded as far as the head of the Basin of Mines, but their search
for mineral wealth was fruitless, beyond a few meagre specimens of copper.
Their labors were chiefly rewarded by the discovery of a moss-covered cross
in the last stages of decay, the relic of fishermen, or other Christian
mariners, who had, years before, been upon the coast.

The exploring parties having returned to Port Royal, to their settlement in
what is now known as Annapolis Basin, the bulk of the colonists departed in
three barques for Canseau, on the 30th of July, while De Poutrincourt and
Champlain, with a complement of sailors, remained some days longer, that
they might take with them specimens of wheat still in the field and not yet
entirely ripe.

On the 11th of August they likewise bade adieu to Port Royal amid the tears
of the assembled savages, with whom they had lived in friendship, and who
were disappointed and grieved at their departure. In passing round the
peninsula of Nova Scotia in their little shallop, it was necessary to keep
close in upon the shore, which enabled Champlain, who had not before been
upon the coast east of La Hève, to make a careful survey from that point to
Canseau, the results of which are fully stated in his notes, and delineated
on his map of 1613.

On the 3d of September, the "Jonas," bearing away the little French colony,
sailed out of the harbor of Canseau, and, directing its course towards the
shores of France, arrived at Saint Malo on the 1st of October, 1607.

Champlain's explorations on what may be strictly called the Atlantic coast
of North America were now completed. He had landed at La Hève in Nova
Scotia on the 8th of May, 1604, and had consequently been in the country
three years and nearly four months. During this period he had carefully
examined the whole shore from Canseau, the eastern limit of Nova Scotia, to
the Vineyard Sound on the southern boundaries of Massachusetts. This was
the most ample, accurate, and careful survey of this region which was made
during the whole period from the discovery of the continent in 1497 down to
the establishment of the English colony at Plymouth in 1620. A numerous
train of navigators had passed along the coast of New England: Sebastian
Cabot, Estévan Gomez, Jean Alfonse, André Thevet, John Hawkins, Bartholomew
Gosnold, Martin Pring, George Weymouth, Henry Hudson, John Smith, and the
rest, but the knowledge of the coast which we obtain from them is
exceedingly meagre and unsatisfactory, especially as compared with that
contained in the full, specific, and detailed descriptions, maps, and
drawings left us by this distinguished pioneer in the study and
illustration of the geography of the New England coast. [57]

The winter of 1607-8 Champlain passed in France, where he was pleasantly
occupied in social recreations which were especially agreeable to him after
an absence of more than three years, and in recounting to eager listeners
his experiences in the New World. He took an early opportunity to lay
before Monsieur de Monts the results of the explorations which he had made
in La Cadie since the departure of the latter from Annapolis Basin in the
autumn of 1605, illustrating his narrative by maps and drawings which he
had prepared of the bays and harbors on the coast of Nova Scotia, New
Brunswick, and New England.

While most men would have been disheartened by the opposition which he
encountered, the mind of De Monts was, nevertheless, rekindled by the
recitals of Champlain with fresh zeal in the enterprise which he had
undertaken. The vision of building up a vast territorial establishment,
contemplated by his charter of 1604, with his own personal aggrandizement
and that of his family, had undoubtedly vanished. But he clung,
nevertheless, with extraordinary tenacity to his original purpose of
planting a colony in the New World. This he resolved to do in the face of
many obstacles, and notwithstanding the withdrawment of the royal
protection and bounty. The generous heart of Henry IV. was by no means
insensible to the merits of his faithful subject, and, on his solicitation,
he granted to him letters-patent for the exclusive right of trade in
America, but for the space only of a single year. With this small boon from
the royal hand, De Monts hastened to fit out two vessels for the
expedition. One was to be commanded by Pont Gravé, who was to devote his
undivided attention to trade with the Indians for furs and peltry; the
other was to convey men and material for a colonial plantation.

Champlain, whose energy, zeal, and prudence had impressed themselves upon
the mind of De Monts, was appointed lieutenant of the expedition, and
intrusted with the civil administration, having a sufficient number of men
for all needed defence against savage intruders, Basque fisher men, or
interloping fur-traders.

On the 13th of April, 1608, Champlain left the port of Honfleur, and
arrived at the harbor of Tadoussac on the 3d of June. Here he found Pont
Gravé, who had preceded him by a few days in the voyage, in trouble with a
Basque fur-trader. The latter had persisted in carrying on his traffic,
notwithstanding the royal commission to the contrary, and had succeeded in
disabling Pont Gravé, who had but little power of resistance, killing one
of his men, seriously wounding Pont Gravé himself, as well as several
others, and had forcibly taken possession of his whole armament.

When Champlain had made full inquiries into all the circumstances, he saw
clearly that the difficulty must be compromised; that the exercise of force
in overcoming the intruding Basque would effectually break up his plans for
the year, and bring utter and final ruin upon his undertaking. He wisely
decided to pocket the insult, and let justice slumber for the present. He
consequently required the Basque, who began to see more clearly the
illegality of his course, to enter into a written agreement with Pont Gravé
that neither should interfere with the other while they remained in the
country, and that they should leave their differences to be settled in the
courts on their return to France.

Having thus poured oil upon the troubled waters, Champlain proceeded to
carry out his plans for the location and establishment of his colony. The
difficult navigation of the St. Lawrence above Tadoussac was well known to
him. The dangers of its numberless rocks, sand-bars, and fluctuating
channels had been made familiar to him by the voyage of 1603. He
determined, therefore, to leave his vessel in the harbor of Tadoussac, and
construct a small barque of twelve or fourteen tons, in which to ascend the
river and fix upon a place of settlement.

While the work was in progress, Champlain reconnoitred the neighborhood,
collecting much geographical information from the Indians relating to Lake
St. John and a traditionary salt sea far to the north, exploring the
Saguenay for some distance, of which he has given us a description so
accurate and so carefully drawn that it needs little revision after the
lapse of two hundred and seventy years.

On the last of June, the barque was completed, and Champlain, with a
complement of men and material, took his departure. As he glided along in
his little craft, he was exhilarated by the fragrance of the atmosphere,
the bright coloring of the foliage, the bold, picturesque scenery that
constantly revealed itself on both sides of the river. The lofty mountains,
the expanding valleys, the luxuriant forests, the bold headlands, the
enchanting little bays and inlets, and the numerous tributaries bursting
into the broad waters of the St. Lawrence, were all carefully examined and
noted in his journal. The expedition seemed more like a holiday excursion
than the grave prelude to the founding of a city to be renowned in the
history of the continent.

On the fourth day, they approached the site of the present city of Quebec.
The expanse of the river had hitherto been from eight to thirteen miles.
Here a lofty headland, approaching from the interior, advances upon the
river and forces it into a narrow channel of three-fourths of a mile in
width. The river St. Charles, a small stream flowing from the northwest,
uniting here with the St. Lawrence, forms a basin below the promontory,
spreading out two miles in one direction and four in another. The rocky
headland, jutting out upon the river, rises up nearly perpendicularly, and
to a height of three hundred and forty-five feet, commanding from its
summit a view of water, forest and mountain of surpassing grandeur and
beauty. A narrow belt of fertile land formed by the crumbling _débris_ of
ages, stretches along between the water's edge and the base of the
precipice, and was then covered with a luxurious growth of nut-trees. The
magnificent basin below, the protecting wall of the headland in the rear,
the deep water of the river in front, rendered this spot peculiarly
attractive. Here on this narrow plateau, Champlain resolved to place his
settlement, and forthwith began the work of felling trees, excavating
cellars, and constructing houses.

On the 3d day of July, 1608, Champlain laid the foundation of Quebec. The
name which he gave to it had been applied to it by the savages long before.
It is derived from the Algonquin word _quebio_, or _quebec_, signifying a
_narrowing_, and was descriptive of the form which the river takes at that
place, to which we have already referred.

A few days after their arrival, an event occurred of exciting interest to
Champlain and his little colony. One of their number, Jean du Val, an
abandoned wretch, who possessed a large share of that strange magnetic
power which some men have over the minds of others, had so skilfully
practised upon the credulity of his comrades that he had drawn them all
into a scheme which, aside from its atrocity, was weak and ill-contrived at
every point It was nothing less than a plan to assassinate Champlain, seize
the property belonging to the expedition, and sell it to the Basque
fur-traders at Tadoussac, under the hallucination that they should be
enriched by the pillage. They had even entered into a solemn compact, and
whoever revealed the secret was to be visited by instant death. Their
purpose was to seize Champlain in an unguarded moment and strangle him, or
to shoot him in the confusion of a false alarm to be raised in the night by
themselves. But before the plan was fully ripe for execution, a barque
unexpectedly arrived from Tadoussac with an instalment of utensils and
provisions for the colony. One of the men, Antoine Natel, who had entered
into the conspiracy with reluctance, and had been restrained from a
disclosure by fear, summoned courage to reveal the plot to the pilot of the
boat, first securing from him the assurance that he should be shielded from
the vengeance of his fellow-conspirators. The secret was forthwith made
known to Champlain, who, by a stroke of finesse, placed himself beyond
danger before he slept. At his suggestion, the four leading spirits of the
plot were invited by one of the sailors to a social repast on the barque,
at which two bottles of wine which he pretended had been given him at
Tadoussac were to be uncorked. In the midst of the festivities, the "four
worthy heads of the conspiracy," as Champlain satirically calls them, were
suddenly clapped into irons. It was now late in the evening, but Champlain
nevertheless summoned all the rest of the men into his presence, and
offered them a full pardon, on condition that they would disclose the whole
scheme and the motives which had induced them to engage in it. This they
were eager to do, as they now began to comprehend the dangerous compact
into which they had entered, and the peril which threatened their own
lives. These preliminary investigations rendered it obvious to Champlain
that grave consequences must follow, and he therefore proceeded with great

The next day, he took the depositions of the pardoned men, carefully
reducing them to writing. He then departed for Tadoussac, taking the four
conspirators with him. On consultation, he decided to leave them there,
where they could be more safely guarded until. Pont Gravé and the principal
men of the expedition could return with them to Quebec, where he proposed
to give them a more public and formal trial. This was accordingly done. The
prisoners were duly confronted with the witnesses. They denied nothing, but
freely admitted their guilt. With the advice and concurrence of Pont Gravé,
the pilot, surgeon, mate, boatswain, and others, Champlain condemned the
four conspirators to be hung; three of them, however, to be sent home for a
confirmation or revision of their sentence by the authorities in France,
while the sentence of Jean Du Val, the arch-plotter of the malicious
scheme, was duly executed in their presence, with all the solemn forms and
ceremonies usual on such occasions. Agreeably to a custom of that period,
the ghastly head of Du Val was elevated on the highest pinnacle of the fort
at Quebec, looking down and uttering its silent warning to the busy
colonists below; the grim Signal to all beholders, that "the way of the
transgressor is hard."

The catastrophe, had not the plot been nipped in the bud, would have been
sure to take place. The final purpose of the conspirators might not have
been realized; it must have been defeated at a later stage; but the hand of
Du Val, prompted by a malignant nature, was nerved to strike a fatal blow,
and the life of Champlain would have been sacrificed at the opening of the
tragic scene.

The punishment of Du Val, in its character and degree, was not only
agreeable to the civil policy of the age, but was necessary for the
protection of life and the maintenance of order and discipline in the
colony. A conspiracy on land, under the present circumstances, was as
dangerous as a mutiny at sea; and the calm, careful, and dignified
procedure of Champlain in firmly visiting upon the criminal a severe though
merited punishment, reveals the wisdom, prudence, and humanity which were
prominent elements in his mental and moral constitution.


56. _Membertou_. See Pierre Biard's account of his death in 1611.
_Relations des Jésuites_. Quebec ed, Vol. I. p. 32.

57. Had the distinguished navigators who early visited the coasts of North
America illustrated their narratives by drawings and maps, it would
have added greatly to their value. Capt. John Smith's map, though
necessarily indefinite and general, is indispensable to the
satisfactory study of his still more indefinite "Description of New
England." It is, perhaps, a sufficient apology for the vagueness of
Smith's statements, and therefore it ought to be borne in mind, that
his work was originally written, probably, from memory, at least for
the most part, while he was a prisoner on board a French man-of-war in
1615. This may be inferred from the following statement of Smith
himself. In speaking of the movement of the French fleet, he says:
"Still we spent our time about the Iles neere _Fyall_: where to keepe
my perplexed thoughts from too much meditation of my miserable estate,
I writ this discourse" _Vide Description of New England_ by Capt. John
Smith, London, 1616.

While the descriptions of our coast left by Champlain are invaluable to
the historian and cannot well be overestimated, the process of making
these surveys, with his profound love of such explorations and
adventures, must have given him great personal satisfaction and
enjoyment It would be difficult to find any region of similar extent
that could offer, on a summer's excursion, so much beauty to his eager
and critical eye as this. The following description of the Gulf of
Maine, which comprehends the major part of the field surveyed by
Champlain, that lying between the headlands of Cape Sable and Cape Cod,
gives an excellent idea of the infinite variety and the unexpected and
marvellous beauties that are ever revealing themselves to the voyager
as he passes along our coast.--

"This shoreland is also remarkable, being so battered and frayed by sea
and storm, and worn perhaps by arctic currents and glacier beds, that
its natural front of some 250 miles is multiplied to an extent of not
less than 2,500 miles of salt-water line; while at an average distance
of about three miles from the mainland, stretches a chain of outposts
consisting of more than three hundred islands, fragments of the main,
striking in their diversity on the west; low, wooded and grassy to the
water's edge, and rising eastward through bolder types to the crowns
and cliffs of Mount Desert and Quoddy Head, an advancing series from
beauty to sublimity: and behind all these are deep basins and broad
river-mouths, affording convenient and spacious harbors, in many of
which the navies of nations might safely ride at anchor.... Especially
attractive was the region between the Piscataqua and Penobscot in its
marvellous beauty of shore and sea, of island and inlet, of bay and
river and harbor, surpassing any other equally extensive portion of the
Atlantic coast, and compared by travellers earliest and latest, with
the famed archipelago of the Aegean." _Vide Maine, Her Place in
History_, by Joshua L. Chamberlain, LL D, President of Bowdoin College,
Augusta, 1877, pp. 4-5.



On the 18th of September, 1608, Pont Gravé, having obtained his cargo of
furs and peltry, sailed for France.

The autumn was fully occupied by Champlain and his little band of colonists
in completing the buildings and in making such other provisions as were
needed against the rigors of the approaching winter. From the forest trees
beams were hewed into shape with the axe, boards and plank were cut from
the green wood with the saw, walls were reared from the rough stones
gathered at the base of the cliff, and plots of land were cleared near the
settlement, where wheat and rye were sown and grapevines planted, which
successfully tested the good qualities of the soil and climate.

Three lodging-houses were erected on the northwest angle formed by the
junction of the present streets St. Peter and Sous le Fort, near or on the
site of the Church of Notre Dame. Adjoining, was a store-house. The whole
was, surrounded by a moat fifteen feet wide and six feet deep, thus giving
the settlement the character of a fort; a wise precaution against a sudden
attack of the treacherous savages. [58]

At length the sunny days of autumn were gone, and the winter, with its
fierce winds and its penetrating frosts and deep banks of snow, was upon
them. Little occupation could be furnished for the twenty-eight men that
composed the colony. Their idleness soon brought a despondency that hung
like a pall upon their spirits. In February, disease made its approach. It
had not been expected. Every defence within their knowledge had been
provided against it. Their houses were closely sealed and warm; their
clothing was abundant; their food nutritious and plenty. But a diet too
exclusively of salt meat had, notwithstanding, in the opinion of Champlain,
and we may add the want, probably, of exercise and the presence of bad air,
induced the _mal de la terre_ or scurvy, and it made fearful havoc with his
men. Twenty, five out of each seven of their whole number, had been carried
to their graves before the middle of April, and half of the remaining eight
had been attacked by the loathsome scourge.

While the mind of Champlain was oppressed by the suffering and death that
were at all times present in their abode, his sympathies were still further
taxed by the condition of the savages, who gathered in great numbers about
the settlement, in the most abject misery and in the last stages of
starvation. As Champlain could only furnish them, from his limited stores,
temporary and partial relief, it was the more painful to see them slowly
dragging their feeble frames about in the snow, gathering up and devouring
with avidity discarded meat in which the process of decomposition was far
advanced, and which was already too potent with the stench of decay to be
approached by his men.

Beyond the ravages of disease [59] and the starving Indians, Champlain adds
nothing more to complete the gloomy picture of his first winter in Quebec.
The gales of wind that swept round the wall of precipice that protected
them in the rear, the drifts of snow that were piled up in fresh
instalments with every storm about their dwelling, the biting frost, more
piercing and benumbing than they had ever experienced before, the unceasing
groans of the sick within, the semi-weekly procession bearing one after
another of their diminishing numbers to the grave, the mystery that hung
over the disease, and the impotency of all remedies, we know were prominent
features in the picture. But the imagination seeks in vain for more than a
single circumstance that could throw upon it a beam of modifying and
softening light, and that was the presence of the brave Champlain, who bore
all without a murmur, and, we may be sure, without a throb of unmanly fear
or a sensation of cowardly discontent.

But the winter, as all winters do, at length melted reluctantly away, and
the spring came with its verdure, and its new life. The spirits of the
little remnant of a colony began to revive. Eight of the twenty-eight with
which the winter began were still surviving. Four had escaped attack, and
four were rejoicing convalescents.

On the 5th of June, news came that Pont Gravé had arrived from France, and
was then at Tadoussac, whither Champlain immediately repaired to confer
with him, and particularly to make arrangements at the earliest possible
moment for an exploring expedition into the interior, an undertaking which
De Monts had enjoined upon him, and which was not only agreeable to his own
wishes, but was a kind of enterprise which had been a passion with him from
his youth.

In anticipation of a tour of exploration during the approaching summer,
Champlain had already ascertained from the Indians that, lying far to the
southwest, was an extensive lake, famous among the savages, containing many
fair islands, and surrounded by a beautiful and productive country. Having
expressed a desire to visit this region, the Indians readily offered to act
as guides, provided, nevertheless, that he would aid them in a warlike raid
upon their enemies, the Iroquois, the tribe known to us as the Mohawks,
whose, homes were beyond the lake in question. Champlain without hesitation
acceded to the condition exacted, but with little appreciation, as we
confidently believe, of the bitter consequences that were destined to
follow the alliance thus inaugurated; from which, in after years, it was
inexpedient, if not impossible, to recede.

Having fitted out a shallop, Champlain left Quebec on his tour of
exploration on the 18th of June, 1609, with eleven men, together with a
party of Montagnais, a tribe of Indians who, in their hunting and fishing
excursions, roamed over an indefinite region on the north side of the St.
Lawrence, but whose headquarters were at Tadoussac. After ascending the St
Lawrence about sixty miles, he came upon an encampment of two hundred or
three hundred savages, Hurons [60] and Algonquins, the former dwelling on
the borders of the lake of the same name, the latter on the upper waters of
the Ottawa. They had learned something of the French from a son of one of
their chiefs, who had been at Quebec the preceding autumn, and were now on
their way to enter into an alliance with the French against the Iroquois.
After formal negotiations and a return to Quebec to visit the French
settlement and witness the effect of their firearms, of which they had
heard and which greatly excited their curiosity, and after the usual
ceremonies of feasting and dancing, the whole party proceeded up the river
until they reached the mouth of the Richelieu. Here they remained two days,
as guests of the Indians, feasting upon fish, venison, and water-fowl.

While these festivities were in progress, a disagreement arose among the
savages, and the bulk of them, including the women, returned to their
homes. Sixty warriors, however, some from each of the three allied tribes,
proceeded up the Richelieu with Champlain. At the Falls of Chambly, finding
it impossible for the shallop to pass them, he directed the pilot to return
with it to Quebec, leaving only two men from the crew to accompany him on
the remainder of the expedition. From this point, Champlain and his two
brave companions entrusted themselves to the birch canoe of the savages.
For a short distance, the canoes, twenty-four in all, were transported by
land. The fall and rapids, extending as far as St. John, were at length
passed. They then proceeded up the river, and, entering the lake which now
bears the name of Champlain, crept along the western bank, advancing after
the first few days only in the night, hiding themselves during the day in
the thickets on the shore to avoid the observation of their enemies, whom
they were now liable at any moment to meet.

On the evening of the 29th of July, at about ten o'clock, when the allies
were gliding noiselessly along in restrained silence, as they approached
the little cape that juts out into the lake at Ticonderoga, near where Fort
Carillon was afterwards erected by the French, and where its ruins are
still to be seen, [61] they discovered a flotilla of heavy canoes, of oaken
bark, containing not far from two hundred Iroquois warriors, armed and
impatient for conflict. A furor and frenzy as of so many enraged tigers
instantly seized both parties. Champlain and his allies withdrew a short
distance, an arrow's range from the shore, fastening their canoes by poles
to keep them together, while the Iroquois hastened to the water's edge,
drew up their canoes side by side, and began to fell trees and construct a
barricade, which they were well able to accomplish with marvellous facility
and skill. Two boats were sent out to inquire if the Iroquois desired to
fight, to which they replied that they wanted nothing so much, and, as it
was now dark, at sunrise the next morning they would give them battle. The
whole night was spent by both parties in loud and tumultuous boasting,
berating each other in the roundest terms which their savage vocabulary
could furnish, insultingly charging each other with cowardice and weakness,
and declaring that they would prove the truth of their assertions to their
utter ruin the next morning.

When the sun began to gild the distant mountain-tops, the combatants were
ready for the fray. Champlain and his two companions, each lying low in
separate canoes of the Montagnais, put on, as best they could, the light
armor in use at that period, and, taking the short hand-gun, or arquebus,
went on shore, concealing themselves as much as possible from the enemy. As
soon as all had landed, the two parties hastily approached each other,
moving with a firm and determined tread. The allies, who had become fully
aware of the deadly character of the hand-gun and were anxious to see an
exhibition of its mysterious power, promptly opened their ranks, and
Champlain marched forward in front, until he was within thirty paces of the
Iroquois. When they saw him, attracted by his pale face and strange armor,
they halted and gazed at him in a calm bewilderment for some seconds. Three
Iroquois chiefs, tall and athletic, stood in front, and could be easily
distinguished by the lofty plumes that waved above their heads. They began
at once to make ready for a discharge of arrows. At the same instant,
Champlain, perceiving this movement, levelled his piece, which had been
loaded with four balls, and two chiefs fell dead, and another savage was
mortally wounded by the same shot. At this, the allies raised a shout
rivalling thunder in its stunning effect. From both sides the whizzing
arrows filled the air. The two French arquebusiers, from their ambuscade in
the thicket, immediately attacked in flank, pouring a deadly fire upon the
enemy's right. The explosion of the firearms, altogether new to the
Iroquois, the fatal effects that instantly followed, their chiefs lying
dead at their feet and others fast falling, threw them into a tumultuous
panic. They at once abandoned every thing, arms, provisions, boats, and
camp, and without any impediment, the naked savages fled through the forest
with the fleetness of the terrified deer. Champlain and his allies pursued
them a mile and a half, or to the first fall in the little stream that
connects Lake Champlain [62] and Lake George. [63] The victory was
complete. The allies gathered at the scene of conflict, danced and sang in
triumph, collected and appropriated the abandoned armor, feasted on the
provisions left by the Iroquois, and, within three hours, with ten or
twelve prisoners, were sailing down the lake on their homeward voyage.

After they had rowed about eight leagues, according to Champlain's
estimate, they encamped for the night. A prevailing characteristic of the
savages on the eastern coast, in the early history of America, was the
barbarous cruelties which they inflicted upon their prisoners of war. [64]
They did not depart from their usual custom in the present instance. Having
kindled a fire, they selected a victim, and proceeded to excoriate his back
with red-hot burning brands, and to apply live coals to the ends of his
fingers, where they would give the most exquisite pain. They tore out his
finger-nails, and, with sharp slivers of wood, pierced his wrists and
rudely forced out the quivering sinews. They flayed off the skin from the
top of his head, [65] and poured upon the bleeding wound a stream of
boiling melted gum. Champlain remonstrated in vain. The piteous cries of
the poor, tormented victim excited his unavailing compassion, and he turned
away in anger and disgust. At length, when these inhuman tortures had been
carried as far as they desired, Champlain was permitted, at his earnest
request, with a musket-shot to put an end to his sufferings. But this was
not the termination of the horrid performance. The dead victim was hacked
in pieces, his heart severed into parts, and the surviving prisoners were
ordered to eat it. This was too revolting to their nature, degraded as it
was; they were forced, however, to take it into their mouths, but they
would do no more, and their guard of more compassionate Algonquins allowed
them to cast it into the lake.

This exhibition of savage cruelty was not extraordinary, but according to
their usual custom. It was equalled, and, if possible, even surpassed, in
the treatment of captives generally, and especially of the Jesuit
missionaries in after years. [66]

When the party arrived at the Falls of Chambly, the Hurons and Algonquins
left the river, in order to reach their homes by a shorter way,
transporting their canoes and effects over land to the St. Lawrence near
Montreal, while the rest continued their journey down the Richelieu and the
St. Lawrence to Tadoussac, where their families were encamped, waiting to
join in the usual ceremonies and rejoicings after a great victory.

When the returning warriors approached Tadoussac, they hung aloft on the
prow of their canoes the scalped heads of those whom they had slain,
decorated with beads which they had begged from the French for this
purpose, and with a savage grace presented these ghastly trophies to their
wives and daughters, who, laying aside their garments, eagerly swam out to
obtain the precious mementoes, which they hung about their necks and bore
rejoicing to the shore, where they further testified their satisfaction by
dancing and singing.

After a few days, Champlain repaired to Quebec, and early in September
decided to return with Pont Gravé to France. All arrangements were speedily
made for that purpose. Fifteen men were left to pass the winter at Quebec,
in charge of Captain Pierre Chavin of Dieppe. On the 5th of September they
sailed from Tadoussac, and, lingering some days at Isle Percé, arrived at
Honfleur on the 13th of October, 1609.

Champlain hastened immediately to Fontainebleau, to make a detailed report
of his proceedings to Sieur de Monts, who was there in official attendance
upon the king. [67] On this occasion he sought an audience also with Henry
IV., who had been his friend and patron from the time of his first voyage
to Canada in 1603. In addition to the new discoveries and observations
which he detailed to him, he exhibited a belt curiously wrought and inlaid
with porcupine-quills, the work of the savages, which especially drew forth
the king's admiration. He also presented two specimens of the scarlet
tanager, _Pyranga rubra_, a bird of great brilliancy of plumage and
peculiar to this continent, and likewise the head of a gar-pike, a fish of
singular characteristics, then known only in the waters of Lake Champlain.

At this time De Monts was urgently seeking a renewal of his commission for
the monopoly of the fur-trade. In this Champlain was deeply interested. But
to this monopoly a powerful opposition arose, and all efforts at renewal
proved utterly fruitless. De Monts did not, however, abandon the enterprise
on which he had entered. Renewing his engagements with the merchants of
Rouen with whom he had already been associated, he resolved to send out in
the early spring, as a private enterprise and without any special
privileges or monopoly, two vessels with the necessary equipments for
strengthening his colony at Quebec and for carrying on trade as usual with
the Indians.

Champlain was again appointed lieutenant, charged with the government and
management of the colony, with the expectation of passing the next winter
at Quebec, while Pont Gravé, as he had been before, was specially entrusted
with the commercial department of the expedition.

They embarked at Honfleur, but were detained in the English Channel by bad
weather for some days. In the mean time Champlain was taken seriously ill,
the vessel needed additional ballast, and returned to port, and they did
not finally put to sea till the 8th of April. They arrived at Tadoussac on
the 26th of the same month, in the year 1610, and, two days later, sailed
for Quebec, where they found the commander, Captain Chavin, and the little
colony all in excellent health.

The establishment at Quebec, it is to be remembered, was now a private
enterprise. It existed by no chartered rights, it was protected by no
exclusive authority. There was consequently little encouragement for its
enlargement beyond what was necessary as a base of commercial operations.
The limited cares of the colony left, therefore, to Champlain, a larger
scope for the exercise of his indomitable desire for exploration and
adventure. Explorations could not, however, be carried forward without the
concurrence and guidance of the savages by whom he was immediately
surrounded. Friendly relations existed between the French and the united
tribes of Montagnais, Hurons, and Algonquins, who occupied the northern
shores of the St. Lawrence and the great lakes. A burning hatred existed
between these tribes and the Iroquois, occupying the southern shores of the
same river. A deadly warfare was their chief employment, and every summer
each party was engaged either in repelling an invasion or in making one in
the territory of the other. Those friendly to Champlain were quite ready to
act as pioneers in his explorations and discoveries, but they expected and
demanded in return that he should give them active personal assistance in
their wars. Influenced, doubtless, by policy, the spirit of the age, and
his early education in the civil conflicts of France, Champlain did not
hesitate to enter into an alliance and an exchange of services on these

In the preceding year, two journeys into distant regions had been planned
for exploration and discovery. One beginning at Three Rivers, was to
survey, under the guidance of the Montagnais, the river St. Maurice to its
source, and thence, by different channels and portages, reach Lake St.
John, returning by the Saguenay, making in the circuit a distance of not
less than eight hundred miles. The other plan was to explore, under the
direction of the Hurons and Algonquins, the vast country over which they
were accustomed to roam, passing up the Ottawa, and reaching in the end the
region of the copper mines on Lake Superior, a journey not less than twice
the extent of the former.

Neither of these explorations could be undertaken the present year. Their
importance, however, to the future progress of colonization in New France
is sufficiently obvious. The purpose of making these surveys shows the
breadth and wisdom of Champlain's views, and that hardships or dangers were
not permitted to interfere with his patriotic sense of duty.

Soon after his arrival at Quebec, the savages began to assemble to engage
in their usual summer's entertainment of making war upon the Iroquois.
Sixty Montagnais, equipped in their rude armor, were hastening to the
rendezvous which, by agreement made the year before, was to be at the mouth
of the Richelieu. [69] Hither were to come the three allied tribes, and
pass together up this river into Lake Champlain, the "gate" or war-path
through which these hostile clans were accustomed to make their yearly
pilgrimage to meet each other in deadly conflict. Sending forward four
barques for trading purposes, Champlain repaired to the mouth of the
Richelieu, and landed, in company with the Montagnais, on the Island St.
Ignace, on the 19th of June. While preparations were making to receive
their Algonquin allies from the region of the Ottawa, news came that they
had already arrived, and that they had discovered a hundred Iroquois
strongly barricaded in a log fort, which they had hastily thrown together
on the brink of the river not far distant, and to capture them the
assistance of all parties was needed without delay. Champlain, with four
Frenchmen and the sixty Montagnais, left the island in haste, passed over
to the mainland, where they left their canoes, and eagerly rushed through
the marshy forest a distance of two miles. Burdened with their heavy armor,
half consumed by mosquitoes which were so thick that they were scarcely
able to breathe, covered with mud and water, they at length stood before
the Iroquois fort. [70] It was a structure of logs laid one upon another,
braced and held together by posts coupled by withes, and of the usual
circular form. It offered a good protection in savage warfare. Even the
French arquebus discharged through the crevices did slow execution.

It was obvious to Champlain that, to ensure victory, the fort must be
demolished. Huge trees, severed at the base, falling upon it, did not break
it down. At length, directed by Champlain, the savages approached under
their shields, tore away the supporting posts, and thus made a breach, into
which rushed the infuriated besiegers, and in hot haste finished their
deadly work. Fifteen of the Iroquois were taken prisoners; a few plunged
into the river and were drowned; the rest perished by musket-shots,
arrow-wounds, the tomahawk, and the war-club. Of the allied savages three
were killed and fifty wounded. Champlain himself did not escape altogether
unharmed. An arrow, armed with a sharp point of stone, pierced his ear and
neck, which he drew out with his own hand. One of his companions received a
similar wound in the arm. The victors scalped the dead as usual,
ornamenting the prows of their canoes with the bleeding heads of their
enemies, while they severed one of the bodies into quarters, to eat, as
they alleged, in revenge.

The canoes of the savages and a French shallop having come to the scene of
this battle, all soon embarked and returned to the Island of St. Ignace.
Here the allies, joined by eighty Huron warriors who had arrived too late
to participate in the conflict, remained three days, celebrating their
victory by dancing, singing, and the administration of the usual punishment
upon their prisoners of war. This consisted in a variety of exquisite
tortures, similar to those inflicted the year before, after the victory on
Lake Champlain, horrible and sickening in all their features, and which
need not be spread upon these pages. From these tortures Champlain would
gladly have snatched the poor wretches, had it been in his power, but in
this matter the savages would brook no interference. There was a solitary
exception, however, in a fortunate young Iroquois who fell to him in the
division of prisoners. He was treated with great kindness, but it did not
overcome his excessive fear and distrust, and he soon sought an opportunity
and escaped to his home. [71]

When the celebration of the victory had been completed, the Indians
departed to their distant abodes. Champlain, however, before their
departure, very wisely entered into an agreement that they should receive
for the winter a young Frenchman who was anxious to learn their language,
and, in return, he was himself to take a young Huron, at their special
request, to pass the winter in France. This judicious arrangement, in which
Champlain was deeply interested and which he found some difficulty in
accomplishing, promised an important future advantage in extending the
knowledge of both parties, and in strengthening on the foundation of
personal experience their mutual confidence and friendship.

After the departure of the Indians, Champlain returned to Quebec, and
proceeded to put the buildings in repair and to see that all necessary
arrangements were made for the safety and comfort of the colony during the
next winter.

On the 4th of July, Des Marais, in charge of the vessel belonging to De
Monts and his company, which had been left behind and had been expected
soon to follow, arrived at Quebec, bringing the intelligence that a small
revolution had taken place in Brouage, the home of Champlain, that the
Protestants had been expelled, and an additional guard of soldiers had been
placed in the garrison. Des Marais also brought the startling news that
Henry IV. had been assassinated on the 14th of May. Champlain was
penetrated by this announcement with the deepest sorrow. He fully saw how
great a public calamity had fallen upon his country. France had lost, by an
ignominious blow, one of her ablest and wisest sovereigns, who had, by his
marvellous power, gradually united and compacted the great interests of the
nation, which had been shattered and torn by half a century of civil
conflicts and domestic feuds. It was also to him a personal loss. The king
had taken a special interest in his undertakings, had been his patron from
the time of his first voyage to New France in 1603, had sustained him by an
annual pension, and on many occasions had shown by word and deed that he
fully appreciated the great value of his explorations in his American
domains. It was difficult to see how a loss so great both to his country
and himself could be repaired. A cloud of doubt and uncertainty hung over
the future. The condition of the company, likewise, under whose auspices he
was acting, presented at this time no very encouraging features. The
returns from the fur-trade had been small, owing to the loss of the
monopoly which the company had formerly enjoyed, and the excessive
competition which free-trade had stimulated. Only a limited attention had
as yet been given to the cultivation of the soil. Garden vegetables had
been placed in cultivation, together with small fields of Indian corn,
wheat, rye, and barley. These attempts at agriculture were doubtless
experiments, while at the fame time they were useful in supplementing the
stores needed for the colony's consumption.

Champlain's personal presence was not required at Quebec during the winter,
as no active enterprise could be carried forward in that inclement season,
and he decided, therefore, to return to France. The little colony now
consisted of sixteen men, which he placed in charge, during his absence, of
Sieur Du Parc. He accordingly left Tadoussac on the 13th of August, and
arrived at Honfleur in France on the 27th of September, 1610.

During the autumn of this year, while residing in Paris, Champlain became
attached to Hélène Boullé, the daughter of Nicholas Boullé, secretary of
the king's chamber. She was at that time a mere child, and of too tender
years to act for herself, particularly in matters of so great importance as
those which relate to marital relations. However, agreeably to a custom not
infrequent at that period, a marriage contract [72] was entered into on the
27th of December with her parents, in which, nevertheless, it was
stipulated that the nuptials should not take place within at least two
years from that date. The dowry of the future bride was fixed at six
thousand livres _tournois_, three fourths of which were paid and receipted
for by Champlain two days after the signing of the contract. The marriage
was afterward consummated, and Helen Boullé, as his wife, accompanied
Champlain to Quebec, in 1620, as we shall see in the sequel.

Notwithstanding the discouragements of the preceding year and the small
prospect of future success, De Monts and the merchants associated with him
still persevered in sending another expedition, and Champlain left Honfleur
for New France on the first day of March, 1611. Unfortunately, the voyage
had been undertaken too early in the season for these northern waters, and
long before they reached the Grand Banks, they encountered ice-floes of the
most dangerous character. Huge blocks of crystal, towering two hundred feet
above the surface of the water, floated at times near them, and at others
they were surrounded and hemmed in by vast fields of ice extending as far
as the eye could reach. Amid these ceaseless perils, momentarily expecting
to be crushed between the floating islands wheeling to and fro about them,
they struggled with the elements for nearly two months, when finally they
reached Tadoussac on the 13th of May.


58. The situation of Quebec and an engraved representation of the buildings
may be seen by reference to Vol. II. pp. 175, 183.

59. Scurvy, or _mal de la terre_.--_Vide_ Vol. II. note 105.

60. _Hurons_ "The word Huron comes from the French, who seeing these
Indians with the hair cut very short, and standing up in a strange
fashion, giving them a fearful air, cried out, the first time they saw
them, _Quelle hures!_ what boars' heads! and so got to call them
Hurons."--Charlevoix's _His. New France_, Shea's Trans Vol. II. p. 71.
_Vide Relations des Jésuites_, Quebec ed. Vol. I. 1639, P 51; also note
321, Vol. II. of this work, for brief notice of the Algonquins and
other tribes.

61. For the identification of the site of this battle, see Vol. II p. 223,
note 348. It is eminently historical ground. Near it Fort Carrillon was
erected by the French in 1756. Here Abercrombie was defeated by
Montcalm in 1758. Lord Amherst captured the fort in 1759 Again it was
taken from the English by the patriot Ethan Alien in 1775. It was
evacuated by St. Clair when environed by Burgoyne in 1777, and now for
a complete century it has been visited by the tourist as a ruin
memorable for its many historical associations.

62. This lake, discovered and explored by Champlain, is ninety miles in
length. Through its centre runs the boundary line between the State of
New York and that of Vermont. From its discovery to the present time it
has appropriately borne the honored name of Champlain. For its Indian
name, _Caniaderiguarunte_, see Vol. II. note 349. According to Mr. Shea
the Mohawk name of Lake Champlain is _Caniatagaronte_.--_Vide Shea's
Charlevoix_. Vol. II. p. 18.

Lake Champlain and the Hudson River were both discovered the same year,
and were severally named after the distinguished navigators by whom
they were explored. Champlain completed his explorations at
Ticonderoga, on the 30th of July, 1609, and Hudson reached the highest
point made by him on the river, near Albany, on the 22d of September of
the same year.--_Vide_ Vol. II. p. 219. Also _The Third Voyage of
Master Henry Hudson_, written by Robert Ivet of Lime-house,
_Collections of New York His. Society_, Vol. I. p. 140.

63. _Lake George_. The Jesuit Father, Isaac Jogues, having been summoned in
1646 to visit the Mohawks, to attend to the formalities of ratifying a
treaty of peace which had been concluded with them, passing by canoe up
the Richelieu, through Lake Champlain, and arriving at the end of Lake
George on the 29th of May, the eve of Corpus Christi, a festival
celebrated by the Roman Church on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, in
honor of the Holy Eucharist or the Lord's Supper, named this lake LAC
DU SAINT SACREMENT. The following is from the Jesuit Relation of 1646
by Pere Hierosme Lalemant. Ils arriuèrent la veille du S. Sacrement au
bout du lac qui est ioint au grand lac de Champlain. Les Iroquois le
nomment Andiatarocté, comme qui diroit, là où le lac se ferme. Le Pere
le nomma le lac du S. Sacrement--_Relations des Jésuites_, Quebec ed.
Vol. II. 1646, p. 15.

Two important facts are here made perfectly plain; viz. that the
original Indian name of the lake was _Andtatarocté_, and that the
French named it Lac du Saint Sacrement because they arrived on its
shores on the eve of the festival celebrated in honor of the Eucharist
or the Lord's Supper. Notwithstanding this very plain statement, it has
been affirmed without any historical foundation whatever, that the
original Indian name of this lake was _Horican_, and that the Jesuit
missionaries, having selected it for the typical purification of
baptism on account of its limpid waters, named it _Lac du Saint
Sacrement_. This perversion of history originated in the extraordinary
declaration of Mr. James Fenimore Cooper, in his novel entitled "The
Last of the Mohicans," in which these two erroneous statements are
given as veritable history. This new discovery by Cooper was heralded
by the public journals, scholars were deceived, and the bold imposition
was so successful that it was even introduced into a meritorious poem
in which the Horican of the ancient tribes and the baptismal waters of
the limpid lake are handled with skill and effect. Twenty-five years
after the writing of his novel, Mr. Cooper's conscience began seriously
to trouble him, and he publicly confessed, in a preface to "The Last of
the Mohicans," that the name Horican had been first applied to the lake
by himself, and without any historical authority. He is silent as to
the reason he had assigned for the French name of the lake, which was
probably an assumption growing out of his ignorance of its
meaning--_Vide The Last of The Mohicans_, by J. Fenimore Cooper,
Gregory's ed., New York, 1864, pp ix-x and 12.

64. "There are certain general customs which mark the California Indians,
as, the non-use of torture on prisoners of war," &c.--_Vide The Tribes
of California_, by Stephen Powers, in _Contributions to North American
Ethnology_, Vol. III. p. 15. _Tribes of Washington and Oregon_, by
George Gibbs, _idem_, Vol. I. p. 192.

65. "It has been erroneously asserted that the practice of scalping did not
prevail among the Indians before the advent of Europeans. In 1535,
Carrier saw five scalps at Quebec, dried and stretched on hoops. In
1564, Laudonniere saw them among the Indians of Florida. The Algonquins
of New England and Nova Scotia were accustomed to cut off and carry
away the head, which they afterwards scalped. Those of Canada, it
seems, sometimes scalped the dead bodies on the field. The Algonquin
practice of carrying off heads as trophies is mentioned by Lalemant,
Roger Williams, Lescarbot, and Champlain."--_Vide Pioneers of France in
the New World_, by Francis Parkman, Boston, 1874, p. 322. The practice
of the tribes on the Pacific coast is different "In war they do not
take scalps, but decapitate the slain and bring in the heads as
trophies."--_Contributions to Am. Ethnology_, by Stephen Powers,
Washington, 1877, Vol. III. pp. 21, 221. _Vide_ Vol. I. p. 192. The
Yuki are an exception. Vol. III. p. 129.

66. For an account of the sufferings of Brébeuf, Lalemant, and Jogues, see
_History of Catholic Missions_, by John Gilmary Shea, pp. 188, 189,

67. He was gentleman in ordinary to the king's chamber. "Gentil-homme
ordinaire de nôstre Chambre."--_Vide Commission du Roy au Sieur de
Monts, Histoire de la Nouvelle France_, par Marc Lescarbot, Paris,
1612, p. 432.

68. Called by the Indians _chaousarou_. For a full account of this
crustacean _vide_ Vol. II. note 343.

69. The mouth of the Richelieu was the usual place of meeting. In 1603, the
allied tribes were there when Champlain ascended the St Lawrence. They
had a fort, which he describes.--_Vide postea_, p 243.

70. Champlain's description does not enable us to identify the place of
this battle with exactness. It will be observed, if we refer to his
text, that, leaving the island of St Ignace, and going half a league,
crossing the river, they landed, when they were plainly on the mainland
near the mouth of the Richelieu. They then went half a league, and
finding themselves outrun by their Indian guides and lost, they called
to two savages, whom they saw going through the woods, to guide them.
Going a _short distance_, they were met by a messenger from the scene
of conflict, to urge them to hasten forwards. Then, after going less
than an eighth of a league, they were within the sound of the voices of
the combatants at the fort These distances are estimated without
measurement, and, of course, are inexact: but, putting the distances
mentioned altogether, the journey through the woods to the fort was
apparently a little more than two miles. Had they followed the course
of the river, the distance would probably have been somewhat more:
perhaps nearly three miles. Champlain does not positively say that the
fort was on the Richelieu, but the whole narrative leaves no doubt that
such was the fact. This river was the avenue through which the Iroquois
were accustomed to come, and they would naturally encamp here where
they could choose their own ground, and where their enemies were sure
to approach them. If we refer to Champlain's illustration of _Fort des
Iroquois_, Vol. II. p. 241, we shall observe that the river is pictured
as comparatively narrow, which could hardly be a true representation if
it were intended for the St. Lawrence. The escaping Iroquois are
represented as swimming towards the right, which was probably in the
direction of their homes on the south, the natural course of their
retreat. The shallop of Des Prairies, who arrived late, is on the left
of the fort, at the exact point where he would naturally disembark if
he came up the Richelieu from the St. Lawrence. From a study of the
whole narrative, together with the map, we infer that the fort was on
the western bank of the Richelieu, between two and three miles from its
mouth. We are confident that its location cannot be more definitely

71. For a full account of the Indian treatment of prisoners, _vide antea_,
pp. 94,95. Also Vol. II. pp. 224-227, 244-246.

72. _Vide Contrat de mariage de Samuel de Champlain, Oeuvres de Champlain_,
Quebec ed. Vol. VI., _Pièces Fustificatives_, p. 33.

Among the early marriages not uncommon at that period, the following
are examples. César, the son of Henry IV., was espoused by public
ceremonies to the daughter of the Duke de Mercoeur in 1598. The
bridegroom was four years old and the bride-elect had just entered her
sixth year. The great Condé, by the urgency of his avaricious father,
was unwillingly married at the age of twenty, to Claire Clemence de
Maillé Brézé, the niece of Cardinal Richelieu, when she was but
thirteen years of age.



Champlain lost no time in hastening to Quebec, where he found Du Parc, whom
he had left in charge, and the colony in excellent health. The paramount
and immediate object which now engaged his attention was to secure for the
present season the fur-trade of the Indians. This furnished the chief
pecuniary support of De Monts's company, and was absolutely necessary to
its existence. He soon, therefore, took his departure for the Falls of St.
Louis, situated a short distance above Montreal, and now better known as La
Chine Rapids. In the preceding year, this place had been agreed upon as a
rendezvous by the friendly tribes. But, as they had not arrived, Champlain
proceeded to make a thorough exploration on both sides of the St. Lawrence,
extending his journeys more than twenty miles through the forests and along
the shores of the river, for the purpose of selecting a proper site for a
trading-house, with doubtless an ultimate purpose of making it a permanent
settlement. After a full survey, he finally fixed upon a point of land
which he named _La Place Royale_, situated within the present city of
Montreal, on the eastern side of the little brook Pierre, where it flows
into the St. Lawrence, at Point à Callière. On the banks of this small
stream there were found evidences that the land to the extent of sixty
acres had at some former period been cleared up and cultivated by the
savages, but more recently had been entirely abandoned on account of the
wars, as he learned from his Indian guides, in which they were incessantly

Near the spot which had thus been selected for a future settlement,
Champlain discovered a deposit of excellent clay, and, by way of
experiment, had a quantity of it manufactured into bricks, of which he made
a wall on the brink of the river, to test their power of resisting the
frosts and the floods. Gardens were also made and feeds sown, to prove the
quality of the soil. A weary month passed slowly away, with scarcely an
incident to break the monotony, except the drowning of two Indians, who had
unwisely attempted to pass the rapids in a bark canoe overloaded with
heron, which they had taken on an island above. In the mean time, Champlain
had been followed to his rendezvous by a herd of adventurers from the
maritime towns of France, who, stimulated by the freedom of trade, had
flocked after him in numbers out of all proportion to the amount of furs
which they could hope to obtain from the wandering bands of savages that
might chance to visit the St. Lawrence. The river was lined with these
voracious cormorants, anxiously watching the coming of the savages, all
impatient and eager to secure as large a share as possible of the uncertain
and meagre booty for which they had crossed the Atlantic. Fifteen or twenty
barques were moored along the shore, all seeking the best opportunity for
the display of the worthless trinkets for which they had avariciously hoped
to obtain a valuable cargo of furs.

A long line of canoes was at length seen far in the distance. It was a
fleet of two hundred Hurons, who had swept down the rapids, and were now
approaching slowly and in a dignified and impressive order. On coming near,
they set up a simultaneous shout, the token of savage greeting, which made
the welkin ring. This salute was answered by a hundred French arquebuses
from barque and boat and shore. The unexpected multitude of the French, the
newness of the firearms to most of them, filled the savages with dismay.
They concealed their fear as well and as long as possible. They
deliberately built their cabins on the shore, but soon threw up a
barricade, then called a council at midnight, and finally, under pretence
of a beaver-hunt, suddenly removed above the rapids, where they knew the
French barques could not come. When they were thus in a place of safety,
they confessed to Champlain that they had faith in him, which they
confirmed by valuable gifts of furs, but none whatever in the grasping herd
that had followed him to the rendezvous. The trade, meagre in the
aggregate, divided among so many, had proved a loss to all. It was soon
completed, and the savages departed to their homes. Subsequently,
thirty-eight canoes, with eighty or a hundred Algonquin warriors, came to
the rendezvous. They brought, however, but a small quantity of furs, which
added little to the lucrative character of the summer's trade.

The reader will bear in mind that Champlain was not here merely as the
superintendent and responsible agent of a trading expedition. This was a
subordinate purpose, and the result of circumstances which his principal
did not choose, but into which he had been unwillingly forced. It was
necessary not to overlook this interest in the present exigency,
nevertheless De Monts was sustained by an ulterior purpose of a far higher
and nobler character. He still entertained the hope that he should yet
secure a royal charter under which his aspirations for colonial enterprise
should have full scope, and that his ambition would be finally crowned with
the success which he had so long coveted, and for which he had so
assiduously labored. Champlain, who had been for many years the geographer
of the king, who had carefully reported, as he advanced into unexplored
regions, his surveys of the rivers, harbors, and lakes, and had given
faithful descriptions of the native inhabitants, knowledge absolutely
necessary as a preliminary step in laying the foundation of a French empire
in America, did not for a moment lose sight of this ulterior purpose. Amid
the commercial operations to which for the time being he was obliged to
devote his chief attention, he tried in vain to induce the Indians to
conduct an exploring party up the St. Maurice, and thus reach the
headwaters of the Saguenay, a journey which had been planned two years
before. They had excellent excuses to offer, and the undertaking was
necessarily deferred for the present. He, however, obtained much valuable
information from them in conversations, in regard to the source of the St.
Lawrence, the topography of the country which they inhabited, and even
drawings were executed by them to illustrate to him other regions which
they had personally visited.

On the 18th of July, Champlain left the rendezvous, and arrived at Quebec
on the evening of the next day. Having ordered all necessary repairs at the
settlement, and, not unmindful of its adornment, planted rose-bushes about
it, and taking specimens of oak timber to exhibit in France, he left for
Tadoussac, and finally for France on the 11th of August, and arrived at
Rochelle on the 16th of September, 1611.

Immediately on his arrival, Champlain repaired to the city of Pons, in
Saintonge, of which De Monts was governor, and laid before him the
Situation of his affairs at Quebec. De Monts still clung to the hope of
obtaining a royal commission for the exclusive right of trade, but his
associates were wholly disheartened by the competition and consequent
losses of the last year, and had the sagacity to see that there was no hope
of a remedy in the future. They accordingly declined to continue further
expenditures. De Monts purchased their interest in the establishment at
Quebec, and, notwithstanding the obstacles which had been and were still to
be encountered, was brave enough to believe that he could stem the tide
unaided and alone. He hastened to Paris to secure the much coveted
commission from the king. Important business, however, soon called him in
another direction, and the whole matter was placed in the hands of
Champlain, with the understanding that important modifications were to be
introduced into the constitution and management of the company.

The burden thus unexpectedly laid upon Champlain was not a light one. His
experience and personal knowledge led him to appreciate more fully than any
one else the difficulties that environed the enterprise of planting a
colony in New France. He saw very clearly that a royal commission merely,
with whatever exclusive rights it conferred; would in itself be ineffectual
and powerless in the present complications. It was obvious to him that the
administration must be adapted to the state of affairs that had gradually
grown up at Quebec, and that it must be sustained by powerful personal

Champlain proceeded, therefore, to draw up certain rules and regulations
which he deemed necessary for the management of the colony and the
protection of its interests. The leading characteristics of the plan were,
first, an association of which all who desired to carry on trade in New
France might become members, sharing equally in its advantages and its
burdens, its profits and its losses: and, secondly, that it should be
presided over by a viceroy of high position and commanding influence. De
Monts, who had thus far been at the head of the undertaking, was a
gentleman of great respectability, zeal, and honesty, but his name did not,
as society was constituted at that time in France, carry with it any
controlling weight with the merchants or others whose views were adverse to
his own. He was unable to carry out any plans which involved expense,
either for the exploration of the country or for the enlargement and growth
of the colony. It was necessary, in the opinion of Champlain, to place at
the head of the company a man of such exalted official and social position
that his opinions would be listened to with respect and his wishes obeyed
with alacrity.

He submitted his plan to De Monts and likewise to President Jeannin, [73] a
man venerable with age, distinguished for his wisdom and probity, and at
this time having under his control the finances of the kingdom. They both
pronounced it excellent and urged its execution.

Having thus obtained the cordial and intelligent assent of the highest
authority to his scheme, his next step was to secure a viceroy whose
exalted name and standing should conform to the requirements of his plan.
This was an object somewhat difficult to attain. It was not easy to find a
nobleman who possessed all the qualities desired. After careful
consideration, however, the Count de Soissons [74] was thought to unite
better than any other the characteristics which the office required.
Champlain, therefore, laid before the Count, through a member of the king's
council, a detailed exhibition of his plan and a map of New France executed
by himself. He soon after received an intimation from this nobleman of his
willingness to accept the office, if he should be appointed. A petition was
sent by Champlain to the king and his council, and the appointment was made
on the 8th of October, 1612, and on the 15th of the same month the Count
issued a commission appointing Champlain his lieutenant.

Before this commission had been published in the ports and the maritime
towns of France, as required by law, and before a month had elapsed,
unhappily the death of the Count de Soissons suddenly occurred at his
Château de Blandy. Henry de Bourbon, the Prince de Condé, [75] was hastily
appointed his successor, and a new commission was issued to Champlain on
the 22d of November of the same year.

The appointment of this prince carried with it the weight of high position
and influence, though hardly the character which would have been most
desirable under the circumstances. He was, however, a potent safeguard
against the final success, though not indeed of the attempt on the part of
enemies, to break up the company, or to interfere with its plans. No sooner
had the publication of the commission been undertaken, than the merchants,
who had schemes of trade in New France, put forth a powerful opposition.
The Parliamentary Court at Rouen even forbade its publication in that city,
and the merchants of St. Malo renewed their opposition, which had before
been set forth, on the flimsy ground that Jacques Cartier, the discoverer
of New France, was a native of their municipality, and therefore they had
rights prior and superior to all others.

After much delay and several journeys by Champlain to Rouen, these
difficulties were overcome. There was, indeed, no solid ground of
opposition, as none were debarred from engaging in the enterprise who were
willing to share in the burdens as well as the profits.

These delays prevented the complete organization of the company
contemplated by Champlain's new plan, but it was nevertheless necessary for
him to make the voyage to Quebec the present season, in order to keep up
the continuity of his operations there, and to renew his friendly relations
with the Indians, who had been greatly disappointed at not seeing him the
preceding year. Four vessels, therefore, were authorized to sail under the
commission of the viceroy, each of which was to furnish four men for the
service of Champlain in explorations and in aid of the Indians in their
wars, if it should be necessary.

He accordingly left Honfleur in a vessel belonging to his old friend Pont
Gravé, on the 6th of March, 1613, and arrived at Tadoussac on the 29th of
April. On the 7th of May he reached Quebec, where he found the little
colony in excellent condition, the winter having been exceedingly mild, and
agreeable, the river not having been frozen in the severest weather. He
repaired at once to the trading rendezvous at Montreal, then commonly known
as the Falls of St. Louis. He learned from a trading barque that had
preceded him, that a small band of Algonquins had already been there on
their return from a raid upon the Iroquois. They had, however, departed to
their homes to celebrate a feast, at which the torture of two captives whom
they had taken from the Iroquois was to form the chief element in the
entertainment. A few days later, three Algonquin canoes arrived from the
interior with furs, which were purchased by the French. From them they
learned that the ill treatment of the previous year, and their
disappointment at not having seen Champlain there as they had expected, had
led the Indians to abandon the idea of again coming to the rendezvous, and
that large numbers of them had gone on their usual summer's expedition
against the Iroquois.

Under these circumstances, Champlain resolved, in making his explorations,
to visit personally the Indians who had been accustomed to come to the
Falls of St. Louis, to assure them of kind treatment in the future, to
renew his alliance with them against their enemies, and, if possible, to
induce them to come to the rendezvous, where there was a large quantity of
French goods awaiting them.

It will be remembered that an ulterior purpose of the French, in making a
settlement in North America, was to enable them better to explore the
interior and discover an avenue by water to the Pacific Ocean. This shorter
passage to Cathay, or the land of spicery, had been the day-dream of all
the great navigators in this direction for more than a hundred years.
Whoever should discover it would confer a boon of untold commercial value
upon his country, and crown himself with imperishable honor. Champlain had
been inspired by this dream from the first day that he set his foot upon
the soil of New France. Every indication that pointed in this direction he
watched with care and seized upon with avidity. In 1611, a young man in the
colony, Nicholas de Vignan, had been allowed, after the trading season had
closed, to accompany the Algonquins to their distant homes, and pass the
winter with them. This was one of the methods which had before been
successfully resorted to for obtaining important information. De Vignan
returned to Quebec in the spring of 1612, and the same year to France.
Having heard apparently something of Hudson's discovery and its
accompanying disaster, he made it the basis of a story drawn wholly from
his own imagination, but which he well knew must make a strong impression
upon Champlain and all others interested in new discoveries. He stated
that, during his abode with the Indians, he had made an excursion into the
forests of the north, and that he had actually discovered a sea of salt
water; that the river Ottawa had its source in a lake from which another
river flowed into the sea in question; that he had seen on its shores the
wreck of an English ship, from which eighty men had been taken and slain by
the savages; and that they had among them an English boy, whom they were
keeping to present to him.

As was expected, this story made a strong impression upon the mind of
Champlain. The priceless object for which he had been in search so many
years seemed now within his grasp. The simplicity and directness of the
narrative, and the want of any apparent motive for deception, were a strong
guaranty of its truth. But, to make assurance doubly sure, Vignan was
cross-examined and tested in various ways, and finally, before leaving
France, was made to certify to the truth of his statement in the presence
of two notaries at Rochelle. Champlain laid the story before the Chancellor
de Sillery, the President Jeannin, the old Marshal de Brissac, and others,
who assured him that it was a question of so great importance, that he
ought at once to test the truth of the narrative by a personal exploration.
He resolved, therefore, to make this one of the objects of his summer's

With two bark canoes, laden with provisions, arms, and a few trifles as
presents for the savages, an Indian guide, four Frenchmen, one of whom was
the mendacious Vignan, Champlain left the rendezvous at Montreal on the
27th of May. After getting over the Lachine Rapids, they crossed Lake St.
Louis and the Two Mountains, and, passing up the Ottawa, now expanding into
a broad lake and again contracting into narrows, whence its pent-up waters
swept over precipices and boulders in furious, foaming currents, they at
length, after incredible labor, reached the island Allumette, a distance of
not less than two hundred and twenty-five miles. In no expedition which
Champlain had thus far undertaken had he encountered obstacles so
formidable. The falls and rapids in the river were numerous and difficult
to pass. Sometimes a portage was impossible on account of the denseness of
the forests, in which case they were compelled to drag their canoes by
ropes, wading along the edge of the water, or clinging to the precipitous
banks of the river as best they could. When a portage could not be avoided,
it was necessary to carry their armor, provisions, clothing, and canoes
through the forests, over precipices, and sometimes over stretches of
territory where some tornado had prostrated the huge pines in tangled
confusion, through which a pathway was almost impossible. [76] To lighten
their burdens, nearly every thing was abandoned but their canoes. Fish and
wild-fowl were an uncertain reliance for food, and sometimes they toiled on
for twenty-four hours with scarcely any thing to appease their craving

Overcome with fatigue and oppressed by hunger, they at length arrived at
Allumette Island, the abode of the chief Tessoüat, by whom they were
cordially entertained. Nothing but the hope of reaching the north sea could
have sustained them amid the perils and sufferings through which they had
passed in reaching this inhospitable region. The Indians had chosen this
retreat not from choice, but chiefly on account of its great
inaccessibility to their enemies. They were astonished to see Champlain and
his company, and facetiously suggested that it must be a dream, or that
these new-comers had fallen from the clouds. After the usual ceremonies of
feasting and smoking, Champlain was permitted to lay before Tessoüat and
his chiefs the object of his journey. When he informed them that he was in
search of a salt sea far to the north of them, which had been actually seen
two years before by one of his companions, he learned to his disappointment
and mortification that the whole story of Vignan was a sheer fabrication.
The miscreant had indeed passed a winter on the very spot where they then
were, but had never been a league further north. The Indians themselves had
no knowledge of the north sea, and were highly enraged at the baseness of
Vignan's falsehood, and craved the opportunity of despatching him at once.
They jeered at him, calling him a liar, and even the children took up the
refrain, vociferating vigorously and heaping maledictions upon his head.

Indignant as he was, Champlain had too much philosophy in his composition
to commit an indiscretion at such a moment as this. He accordingly
restrained the Savages and his own anger, bore his insult and
disappointment with exemplary patience, giving up all hope of seeing the
salt sea in this direction, as he humorously added, "except in

Before leaving Allumette Island on his return, Champlain invited Tessoüat
to send a trading expedition to the Falls of St. Louis, where he would find
an ample opportunity for an exchange of commodities. The invitation was
readily accepted, and information was at once sent out to the neighboring
chiefs, requesting them to join in the enterprise. The savages soon began
to assemble, and when Champlain left, he was accompanied by forty canoes
well laden with furs; others joined them at different points on the way,
and on reaching Montreal the number had swollen to eighty.

An incident occurred on their journey down the river worthy of record. When
the fleet of savage fur-traders had arrived at the foot of the Chaudière
Falls, not a hundred rods distant from the site of the present city of
Ottawa, having completed the portage, they all assembled on the shore,
before relaunching their canoes, to engage in a ceremony which they never
omitted when passing this spot. A wooden plate of suitable dimensions was
passed round, into which each of the savages cast a small piece of tobacco.
The plate was then placed on the ground, in the midst of the company, and
all danced around it, singing at the same time. An address was then made by
one of the chiefs, setting forth the great importance of this time-honored
custom, particularly as a safeguard and protection against their enemies.
Then, taking the plate, the speaker cast its contents into the boiling
cauldron at the base of the falls, the act being accompanied by a loud
shout from the assembled multitude. This fall, named the _Chaudière_, or
cauldron, by Champlain, formed in fact the limit above which the Iroquois
rarely if ever went in hostile pursuit of the Algonquins. The region above
was exceedingly difficult of approach, and from which it was still more
difficult, in case of an attack, to retreat. But the Iroquois often
lingered here in ambush, and fell upon the unsuspecting inhabitants of the
upper Ottawa as they came down the river. It was, therefore, a place of
great danger; and the Indians, enslaved by their fears and superstitions,
did not believe it possible to make a prosperous journey, without
observing, as they passed, the ceremonies above described.

On reaching Montreal, three additional ships had arrived from France with a
license to carry on trade from the Prince de Condé, the viceroy, making
seven in all in port. The trade with the Indians for the furs brought in
the eighty canoes, which had come with Champlain to Montreal, was soon
despatched. Vignan was pardoned on the solemn promise, a condition offered
by himself, that he would make a journey to the north sea and bring back a
true report, having made a most humble confession of his offence in the
presence of the whole colony and the Indians, who were purposely assembled
to receive it. This public and formal administration of reproof was well
adapted to produce a powerful effect upon the mind of the culprit, and
clearly indicates the moderation and wisdom, so uniformly characteristic of
Champlain's administration.

The business of the season having been completed, Champlain returned to
France, arriving at St. Malo on the 26th of August, 1613. Before leaving,
however, he arranged to send back with the Algonquins who had come from
Isle Allumette two of his young men to pass the winter, for the purpose, as
on former occasions, of learning the language and obtaining the information
which comes only from an intimate and prolonged association.


73. Pierre Jeannin was born at Autun, in 1540, and died about 1622. He
began the practice of law at Dijon, in 1569. Though a Catholic, he
always counselled tolerant measures in the treatment of the
Protestants. By his influence he prevented the massacre of the
Protestants at Dijon in 1572. He was a Councillor, and afterward
President, of the Parliament of Dijon. He was the private adviser of
the Duke of Mayenne. He united himself with the party of the League in
1589. He negotiated the peace between Mayenne and Henry IV. The king
became greatly attached to him, and appointed him a Councillor of State
and Superintendent of Finances. He held many offices and did great
service to the State. After the death of the king, Marie de Médicis,
the regent, continued him as Superintendent of Finances.

74. Count de Soissons, Charles de Bourbon, was born at Nogent-le-Rotrou, in
1556, and died Nov. 1, 1612. He was educated in the Catholic religion.
He acted for a time with the party of the League, but, falling in love
with Catherine, the sister of Henry IV., better to secure his object he
abandoned the League and took a military command under Henry III., and
distinguished himself for bravery when the king was besieged in Tours.
After the death of the king, he espoused the cause of Henry IV., was
made Grand Master of France, and took part in the siege of Paris. He
attempted a secret marriage with Catherine, but was thwarted; and the
unhappy lovers were compelled, by the Duke of Sully, to renounce their
matrimonial intentions. He had been Governor of Dauphiny, and, at the
time of his death, was Governor of Normandy, with a pension of 50,000

75. Prince de Condé, Henry de Bourbon II., the posthumous son of the first
Henry de Bourbon, was born at Saint Jean d'Angely, in 1588. He married,
in 1609, Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency, the sister of Henry, the
Duke de Montmorency, who succeeded him as the Viceroy of New France. To
avoid the impertinent gallantries of Henry IV., who had fallen in love
with this beautiful Princess, Condé and his wife left France, and did
not return till the death of the king. He headed a conspiracy against
the Regent, Marie de Médicis, and was thrown into prison on the first
of September, 1616, where he remained three years. Influenced by
ambition, and more particularly by his avarice, he forced his son
Louis, Le Grand Condé, to marry the niece of Cardinal Richelieu, Claire
Clémence de Maillé-Brézé. He did much to confer power and influence
upon his family, largely through his avarice, which was his chief
characteristic. The wit of Voltaire attributes his crowning glory to
his having been the father of the great Condé. During the detention of
the Prince de Condé in prison, the Mareschal de Thémins was Acting
Viceroy of New France, having been appointed by Marie de Médicis, the
Queen Regent.--_Vide Voyages du Sieur de Champlain_, Paris, 1632, p.

76. In making the portage from what is now known as Portage du Fort to
Muskrat Lake, a distance of about nine miles, Champlain, though less
heavily loaded than his companions, carried three French arquebusses,
three oars, his cloak, and some small articles, and was at the same
time bitterly oppressed by swarms of hungry and insatiable mosquitoes.
On the old portage road, traversed by Champlain and his party at this
time, in 1613, an astrolabe, inscribed 1603, was found in 1867. The
presumptive evidence that this instrument was lost by Champlain is
stated in a brochure by Mr. O. H. Marshall.--_Vide Magazine of American
History_ for March, 1879.



During the whole of the year 1614, Champlain remained in France, occupied
for the most part in adding new members to his company of associates, and
in forming and perfecting such plans as were clearly necessary for the
prosperity and success of the colony. His mind was particularly absorbed in
devising means for the establishment of the Christian faith in the wilds of
America. Hitherto nothing whatever had been done in this direction, if we
except the efforts of Poutrincourt on the Atlantic coast, which had already
terminated in disaster. [77] No missionary of any sort had had hitherto set
his foot upon that part of the soil of New France lying within the Gulf of
St. Lawrence. [78] A fresh interest had been awakened in the mind of
Champlain. He saw its importance in a new light. He sought counsel and
advice from various persons whose wisdom commended them to his attention.
Among the rest was Louis Houêl, an intimate friend, who held some office
about the person of the king, and who was the chief manager of the salt
works at Brouage. This gentleman took a hearty interest in the project, and
assured Champlain that it would not be difficult to raise the means of
sending out three or four Fathers, and, moreover, that he knew some of the
order of the Recollects, belonging to a convent at Brouage, whose zeal he
was sure would be equal to the undertaking. On communicating with them, he
found them quite ready to engage in the work. Two of them were sent to
Paris to obtain authority and encouragement from the proper sources. It
happened that about this time the chief dignitaries of the church were in
Paris, attending a session of the Estates. The bishops and cardinals were
waited upon by Champlain, and their zeal awakened and their co-operation
secured in raising the necessary means for sustaining the mission. After
the usual negotiations and delays, the object was fully accomplished;
fifteen hundred _livres_ were placed in the hands of Champlain for outfit
and expenses, and four Recollect friars embarked with him at Honfleur, on
the ship "St. Étienne," on the 24th of April, 1615, viz., Denis Jamay, Jean
d'Olbeau, Joseph le Caron, and the lay-brother Pacifique du Plessis. [79]

On their arrival at Quebec, Champlain addressed himself immediately to the
preparation of lodgings for the missionaries and the erection of a chapel
for the celebration of divine service. The Fathers were impatient to enter
the fields of labor severally assigned to them. Joseph le Caron was
appointed to visit the Hurons in their distant forest home, concerning
which he had little or no information; but he nevertheless entered upon the
duty with manly courage and Christian zeal. Jean d'Olbeau assumed the
mission to the Montagnais, embracing the region about Tadoussac and the
river Saguenay, while Denis Jamay and Pacifique du Plessis took charge of
the chapel at Quebec.

At the earliest moment possible Champlain hastened to the rendezvous at
Montreal, to meet the Indians who had already reached there on their annual
visit for trade. The chiefs were in raptures of delight on seeing their old
friend again, and had a grand scheme to propose. They had not forgotten
that Champlain had often promised to aid them in their wars. They
approached the subject, however, with moderation and diplomatic wisdom.
They knew perfectly well that the trade in peltry was greatly desired, in
fact that it was indispensable to the French. The substance of what they
had to say was this. It had become now, if not impossible, exceedingly
hazardous, to bring their furs to market. Their enemies, the Iroquois, like
so many prowling wolves, were sure to be on their trail as they came down
the Ottawa, and, incumbered with their loaded canoes, the struggle must be
unequal, and it was nearly impossible for them ever to be winners. The only
solution of the difficulty known to them, or which they cared to consider,
as in all Indian warfare, was to annihilate their enemies utterly and wipe
out their name for ever. Let this be done, and the fruits of peace would
return, their commerce would be safe, prosperous, and greatly augmented.

Such were the reasons presented by the allies. But there were other
considerations, likewise, which influenced the mind of Champlain. It was
necessary to maintain a close and firm alliance with the Indians in order
to extend the French discoveries and domain into new and more distant
regions, and on this extension of French influence depended their hope of
converting the savages to the Christian faith. The force of these
considerations could not be resisted. Champlain decided that, under the
circumstances, it was necessary to give them the desired assistance.

A general assembly was called, and the nature and extent of the campaign
fully considered. It was to be of vastly greater proportions than any that
had hitherto been proposed. The Indians offered to furnish two thousand
five hundred and fifty men, but they were to be gathered together from
different and distant points. The journey must, therefore, be long and
perilous. The objective point, viz., a celebrated Iroquois fort, could not
be reached by the only feasible route in a less distance than eight hundred
or nine hundred miles, and it would require an absence of three or four
months. Preparations for the journey were entered upon at once. Champlain
visited Quebec to make arrangements for his long absence. On his return to
Montreal, the Indians, impatient of delay, had already departed, and Father
Joseph le Caron had gone with them to his distant field of missionary labor
among the Hurons.

On the 9th of July, 1615, Champlain embarked, taking with him an
interpreter, probably Etienne Brûlé, a French servant, and ten savages,
who, with their equipments, were to be accommodated in two canoes. They
entered the Rivière des Prairies, which flows into the St. Lawrence some
leagues east of Montreal, crossing the Lake of the Two Mountains, passed up
the Ottawa, taking the same route which he had traversed some years before,
revisiting its long succession of reaches, its placid lakes, impetuous
rapids, and magnificent falls, and at length arrived at the point where the
river, by an abrupt angle, begins to flow from the northwest. Here, leaving
the Ottawa, they entered the Mattawan, passing down this river into Lac du
Talon, thence into Lac la Tortue, and by a short portage, into Lake
Nipissing. After remaining here two days, entertained generously by the
Nipissingian chiefs, they crossed the lake, and, following the channel of
French River, entered Lake Huron, or rather the Georgian Bay. They coasted
along until they reached the northern limits of the county of Simcoe. Here
they disembarked and entered the territory of their old friends and allies,
the Hurons.

The domain of this tribe consisted of a peninsula formed by the Georgian
Bay, the river Severn, and Lake Simcoe, at the farthest, not more than
forty by twenty-five miles in extent, but more generally cultivated by the
native population, and of a richer soil than any region hitherto explored
north of the St. Lawrence and the lakes. They visited four of their
villages and were cordially received and feasted on Indian corn, squashes,
and fish, with some variety in the methods of cooking. They then proceeded
to Carhagouha, [80] a town fortified with a triple palisade of wood
thirty-five feet in height. Here they found the Recollect Father Joseph Le
Caron, who, having preceded them but a few days, and not anticipating the
visit, was filled with raptures of astonishment and joy. The good Father
was intent upon his pious work. On the 12th of August, surrounded by his
followers, he formally erected a cross as a symbol of the faith, and on the
same day they celebrated the mass and chanted TE DEUM LAUDAMUS for the
first time.

Lingering but two days, Champlain and ten of the French, eight of whom had
belonged to the Suite of Le Caron, proceeded slowly towards Cahiagué, [81]
the rendezvous where the mustering hosts of the savage warriors were to set
forth together upon their hostile excursion into the country of the
Iroquois. Of the Huron villages visited by them, six are particularly
mentioned as fortified by triple palisades of wood. Cahiagué, the capital,
encircled two hundred large cabins within its wooden walls. It was situated
on the north of Lake Simcoe, ten or twelve miles from this body of water,
surrounded by a country rich in corn, squashes, and a great variety of
small fruits, with plenty of game and fish. When the warriors had mostly
assembled, the motley crowd, bearing their bark canoes, meal, and
equipments on their shoulders, moved down in a southwesterly direction till
they reached the narrow strait that unites Lake Chouchiching with Lake
Simcoe, where the Hurons had a famous fishing wear. Here they remained some
time for other more tardy bands to join them. At this point they despatched
twelve of the most stalwart savages, with the interpreter, Étienne Brûlé,
on a dangerous journey to a distant tribe dwelling on the west of the Five
Nations, to urge them to hasten to the fort of the Iroquois, as they had
already received word from them that they would join them in this campaign.

Champlain and his allies soon left the fishing wear and coasted along the
northeastern shore of Lake Simcoe until they reached its most eastern
border, when they made a portage to Sturgeon Lake, thence sweeping down
Pigeon and Stony Lakes, through the Otonabee into Rice Lake, the River
Trent, the Bay of Quinté, and finally rounding the eastern point of Amherst
Island, they were fairly on the waters of Lake Ontario, just as it merges
into the great River St. Lawrence, and where the Thousand Islands begin to
loom into sight. Here they crossed the extremity of the lake at its outflow
into the river, pausing at this important geographical point to take the
latitude, which, by his imperfect instruments, Champlain found to be 43
deg. north. [82]

Sailing down to the southern side of the lake, after a distance, by their
estimate, of about fourteen leagues, they landed and concealed their canoes
in a thicket near the shore. Taking their arms, they proceeded along the
lake some ten miles, through a country diversified with meadows, brooks,
ponds, and beautiful forests filled with plenty of wild game, when they
struck inland, apparently at the mouth of Little Salmon River. Advancing in
a southerly direction, along the course of this stream, they crossed Oneida
River, an outlet of the lake of the same name. When within about ten miles
of the fort which they intended to capture, they met a small party of
savages, men, women, and children, bound on a fishing excursion. Although
unarmed, nevertheless, according to their custom, they took them all
prisoners of war, and began to inflict the usual tortures, but this was
dropped on Champlain's indignant interference. The next day, on the 10th of
October, they reached the great fortress of the Iroquois, after a journey
of four days from their landing, a distance loosely estimated at from
twenty-five to thirty leagues. Here they found the Iroquois in their
fields, industriously gathering in their autumnal harvest of corn and
squashes. A skirmish ensued, in which several were wounded on both sides.

The fort, a drawing of which has been left us by Champlain, was situated a
few miles south of the eastern terminus of Oneida Lake, on a small stream
that winds its way in a northwesterly direction, and finally loses itself
in the same body of water. This rude military structure was hexagonal in
form, one of its sides bordering immediately upon a small pond, while four
of the other laterals, two on the right and two on the left were washed by
a channel of water flowing along their bases. [83] The side opposite the
pond alone had an unobstructed land approach. As an Indian military work,
it was of great strength. It was made of the trunks of trees, as large as
could be conveniently transported. These were set in the ground, forming
four concentric palisades, not more than six inches apart, thirty feet in
height, interlaced and bound together near the top, supporting a gallery of
double paling extending around the whole enclosure, proof not only against
the flint-headed arrows of the Indian, but against the leaden bullets of
the French arquebus. Port-holes were opened along the gallery, through
which effective service could be done upon assailants by hurling stones and
other missiles with which they were well provided. Gutters were laid along
between the palisades to conduct water to every part of the fortification
for extinguishing fire, in case of need.

It was obvious to Champlain that this fort was a complete protection to the
Iroquois, unless an opening could be made in its walls. This could not be
easily done by any force which he and his allies had at their command. His
only hope was in setting fire to the palisades on the land side. This
required the dislodgement of the enemy, who were posted in large numbers on
the gallery, and the protection of the men in kindling the fire, and
shielding it, when kindled, against the extinguishing torrents which could
be poured from the water-spouts and gutters of the fort. He consequently
ordered two instruments to be made with which he hoped to overcome these
obstacles. One was a wooden tower or frame-work, dignified by Champlain as
a _cavalier_, somewhat higher than the palisades, on the top of which was
an enclosed platform where three or four sharp-shooters could in security
clear the gallery, and thus destroy the effective force of the enemy. The
other was a large wooden shield, or _mantelet_, under the protection of
which they could in safety approach and kindle a fire at the base of the

Book of the day: