History of Louisisana by Le Page Du Pratz

Produced by Stan Goodman and Distributed Proofreaders THE HISTORY OF LOUISIANA, OR OF THE WESTERN PARTS OF VIRGINIA AND CAROLINA: Containing a DESCRIPTION of the Countries that lie on both Sides of the River Missisippi: With an ACCOUNT of the SETTLEMENTS, INHABITANTS, SOIL, CLIMATE, AND PRODUCTS. Translated from the FRENCH Of M. LE PAGE Du
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Produced by Stan Goodman and Distributed Proofreaders


Containing a DESCRIPTION
of the Countries
that lie on both Sides
of the River Missisippi:

With an ACCOUNT of the

Translated from the FRENCH

With some Notes and Observations
relating to our Colonies.


Antoine Simon Le Page Du Pratz was a Dutchman, as his birth in Holland about 1695 apparently proves. He died in 1775, just where available records do not tell us, but the probabilities are that he died in France, for it is said he entered the French Army, serving with the Dragoons, and saw service in Germany. While there is some speculation about all the foregoing, there can be no speculation about the statement that on May 25, 1718 he left La Rochelle, France, in one of three ships bound for a place called Louisiana.

For M. Le Page tells us about this in a three-volume work he wrote called, Histoire de la Louisiane, recognized as the authority to be consulted by all who have written on the early history of New Orleans and the Louisiana province.

Le Page, who arrived in Louisiana August 25, 1718, three months after leaving La Rochelle, spent four months at Dauphin Island before he and his men made their way to Bayou St. John where he set up a plantation. He had at last reached New Orleans, which he correctly states, “existed only in name,” and had to occupy an old lodge once used by an Acolapissa Indian. The young settler, he was only about 23 at the time, after arranging his shelter tells us: “A few days afterwards I purchased from a neighbour a native female slave, so as to have a woman to cook for us. My slave and I could not speak each other’s language; but I made myself understood by means of signs.” This slave, a girl of the Chitimacha tribe, remained with Le Page for years, and one draws the inference that she was possessed of a vigorous personality, and was not devoid of charm or bravery. Le Page writes that when frightened by an alligator approaching his camp fire, he ran to the lodge for his gun. However, the Indian girl calmly picked up a stick and hammered the ‘gator so lustily on its nose that it retreated. As Le Page arrived with his gun, ready to shoot “the monster,” he tells us: “She began to smile, and said many things which I did not comprehend, but she made me understand by signs, that there was no occasion for a gun to kill such a beast.”

It is unfortunate, for the purpose of sociological study, that this Indian girl appears so infrequently in the many accounts Le Page has left us in his highly interesting studies of early Louisiana and its original inhabitants. He does not even tell us the Indian girl’s name.

We are told that after living on the banks of Bayou St. John for about two years, he left for the bluff lands of the Natchez country. His Indian girl decided she would go with him, as she had relatives there. Hearing of her plan, her old father offered to buy her back from Le Page. The Chitimacha girl, however, refused to leave her master, whereupon, the Indian father performed a rite of his tribe, which made her the ward of the white man–a simple ceremony of joining hands.

Le Page spent eight years among the Natchez and what he wrote about them–their lives, their customs, their ceremonials–has been acknowledged to be the best and most accurate accounts we have of these original inhabitants of Louisiana. He has left us, in his splendid history, much information on the other Indian tribes of the lower Mississippi River country.

Antoine Simon Le Page Du Pratz tells us he spent sixteen years in Louisiana before returning to France in 1734. They were years well spent–to judge by what he wrote.

As it was written and published in the French language, Le Page’s history proved in many instances to be a tantalizing casket of historical treasure that could not be opened by those who had not mastered French. The original edition, published in Paris in 1758, a score of years after the author landed in New Orleans, was followed in 1763 by a two-volume edition in English, and eleven years later in 1774, by a one-volume edition in English, entitled: “The History of Louisiana, or of the Western Parts of Virginia and Carolina.” The texts in the English editions are identical.

Fortunately, early historians who could not read the French edition, were now able to read M. Le Page’s accounts of his adventures in the New World. Unfortunately, especially for present day historians, the English editions have become increasingly rare–many libraries do not have them on their shelves. Therefore, the present re-publication fills a long-felt want.

The English translation, with its added matter, is reproduced exactly as it was printed for T. Becket to be sold in his shop at the corner of the Adelphi in the Strand, London, 1774. Errors of grammar and spelling are not corrected. The only change is the modernizing of the old _s_’s which look like _f_’s.

The present edition is really two works in one, for the English translation did not include any of the original edition’s many illustrations. The London books did have two folding maps, one of the Louisiana province, the other of the country about the mouths of the Mississippi River. Not only are these maps reproduced in the present work, but in addition, all the other illustrations, including the rare map of New Orleans, appearing in the original French edition, are included. These quaint engravings of the birds, the beasts, the flowers, the shrubs, the trees, fish, the deer and buffalo hunts, and the habits and customs of the Natchez Indians, add much to the value of the present re-publication. I have captioned them with present-day names of the flora and fauna.


(_Mr. Arthur is a naturalist, historian and writer, and executive-director of the Louisiana State Museum.–J. S. W. Harmanson, Publisher_.)



The Transactions of the French in Louisiana.

Of the first Discovery and Settlement of Louisiana

The Return of M. de St. Denis: His settling the Spaniards at the Assinais. His second Journey to Mexico, and Return from thence

Embarkation of eight hundred Men by the West-India Company to Louisiana. Arrival and Stay at Cape Francois. Arrival at the Isle Dauphine. Description of that Island

The Author’s Departure for his Grant. Description of the Places he passed through, as far as New Orleans

The Author put in Possession of his Territory. His Resolution to go and settle among the Natchez

The Voyage of the Author to Biloxi. Description of that Place. Settlement of Grants. The Author discovers two Copper Mines. His Return to the Natchez

First War with the Natchez. Cause of the War

The Governor surprized the Natchez with seven hundred Men. Astonishing Cures performed by the Natives. The Author sends upwards of three hundred Simples to the Company

French Settlements, or Posts. Post at Mobile. The Mouths of the Missisippi. The Situation and Description of New Orleans

The Voyages of the French to the Missouris, Canzas, and Padoucas. The Settlements they in vain attempted to make in those Countries; with a Description of an extraordinary Phaenomenon

The War with the Chitimachas. The Conspiracy of the Negroes against the French. Their Execution

The War of the Natchez. Massacre of the French in 1729. Extirpation of the Natchez in 1730

The War with the Chicasaws. The first Expedition by the River Mobile. The second by the River Missisippi. The War with the Chactaws terminated by the Prudence of M. de Vaudreuil

Reflections on what gives Occasion to Wars in Louisiana. The Means of avoiding Wars in that Province, as also the Manner of coming off with Advantage and little Expence in them

Pensacola taken by Surprize by the French. Retaken by the Spaniards. Again retaken by the French, and demolished

Of the Country and its Products.

Geographical Description of Louisiana. Its climate

Description of the Lower Louisiana, and the Mouths of the Missisippi.

The Author’s journey in Louisiana, from the Natchez to the River St. Francis, and the Country of the Chicasaws

The Nature of the Lands of Louisiana. The Lands on the Coast.

Quality of the Lands above the Fork. A Quarry of Stone for building. High Lands to the East: Their vast Fertility. West Coast: West Lands: Saltpetre

Quality of the Lands of the Red River. Posts of Nachitoches. A Silver Mine. Lands of the Black River

A Brook of salt Water: Salt Lakes. Lands of the River of the Arkansas. Red-veined Marble: Slate: Plaster. Hunting the Buffalo. The dry Sand-banks in the Missisippi

The Lands of the River St. Francis. Mine of Marameg, and other Mines. A Lead Mine. A soft Stone, resembling Porphyry. Lands of the Missouri. The Lands North of the Wabache. The Lands of the Illinois. De La Mothe’s Mine, and other Mines

Of the Agriculture, or Manner of cultivating, ordering, and manufacturing the Commodities that are proper Articles of Commerce. Of the Culture of Maiz, Rice, and other Fruits of the Country. Of the Silk Worm

Of Indigo, Tobacco, Cotton, Wax, Hops, and Saffron

Of the Commerce that is, and may be carried on in Louisiana. Of the Commodities which that Province may furnish in Return for those of Europe. Of the Commerce of Louisiana with the Isles

Of the Commerce with the Spaniards. The Commodities they bring to the Colony, if there is a Demand for them. Of such as may be given in Return, and may suit them. Reflections on the Commerce of this Province, and the great Advantages which the State and particular Persons may derive therefrom

Some Abstracts from the Historical Memoirs of Louisiana, by M. Dumont.

I. Of Tobacco, with the Way of cultivating and curing it

II. Of the Way of making Indigo

III. Of Tar; the Way of making it; and of making it into pitch

IV. Of the Mines of Louisiana

Extract from a late French Writer, concerning the Importance of Louisiana to France

The Natural History of Louisiana.

Of Corn and Pulse

Of the Fruit Trees of Louisiana

Of Forest Trees

Of Shrubs and Excrescences

Of Creeping Plants

Of the Quadrupedes

Of Birds and flying Insects

Of Fishes and Shell-Fish

Of the Natives of Louisiana.

The Origin of the Americans

An Account of the several Nations of Louisiana

Of the Nations inhabiting on the East of the Missisippi

Of the Nations inhabiting on the West of the Missisippi

A Description of the Natives of Louisiana; of their Manners and Customs, particularly those of the Natchez: Of their Language, their Religion, Ceremonies, Rulers, or Suns, Feasts, Marriages, &c

A Description of the Natives; the different Employments of the two Sexes; and their Manner of bringing up their Children

Of the Language, Government, Religion, Ceremonies, and Feasts of the Natives

Of their Marriages, and Distinction of Ranks

Of the Temples, Tombs, Burials, and other religious Ceremonies of the People of Louisiana

Of the Arts and Manufactures of the Natives

Of the Attire and Diversions of the Natives: Of their Meals and Fastings

Of the Indian Art of War

Of the Negroes of Louisiana

Of the Choice of Negroes; of their Distempers, and the Manner of curing them

Of the Manner of governing the Negroes


List of Illustrations

Indian in Summer Time
Indian in Winter Time
Indian Woman and Daughter
Plan of New Orleans, 1720
Beaver, Beaver lodge, Beaver dam
Indians of the North Leaving in the Winter with their Families for a Hunt
Cotton and Rice on the Stalk
Appalachean Beans. Sweet Potatoes Watermelon
Pawpaw. Blue Whortle-berry
Sweet Gum or Liquid-Amber
Myrtle Wax Tree. Vinegar Tree
Poplar (“Cotton Tree”)
Black Oak
Linden or Bass Tree
Box Elder or Stink-wood Tree
Cassine or Yapon. Tooth-ache Tree or Prickly Ash Passion Thorn or Honey Locust. Bearded Creeper Palmetto
Bramble, Sarsaparilla
Rattlesnake Herb
Red Dye Plant. Flat Root
Panther or Catamount. Bison or Buffalo

Indian Deer Hunt
Wild Cat. Opossum. Skunk
Alligator. Rattle Snake. Green Snake Pelican. Wood Stock
Flying Squirrel. Roseate Spoonbill. Snowy Heron White Ibis. Tobacco Worm. Cock Roach
Cat Fish. Gar Fish. Spoonbill Catfish Indian Buffalo Hunt on Foot
Dance of the Natchez Indians
Burial of the Stung Serpent
Bringing the Pipe of Peace
Torture of Prisoners. Plan of Fort



The History of Louisiana, which we here present to the public, was wrote by a planter of sixteen years experience in that country, who had likewise the advantage of being overseer or director of the public plantations, both when they belonged to the company, and afterwards when they fell to the crown; by which means he had the best opportunities of knowing the nature of the soil and climate, and what they produce, or what improvements they are likely to admit of; a thing in which this nation is, without doubt, highly concerned and interested. And when our author published this history in 1758, he had likewise the advantage, not only of the accounts of F. Charlevoix, and others, but of the Historical Memoirs of Louisiana, published at Paris in 1753, by Mr. Dumont, an officer who resided two-and-twenty years in the country, and was personally concerned and acquainted with many of the transactions in it; from whom we have extracted some passages, to render this account more complete.

But whatever opportunities our author had of gaining a knowledge of his subject, it must be owned, that he made his accounts of it very perplexed. By endeavoring to take in every thing, he descends to many trifles; and by dwelling too long on a subject, he comes to render it obscure, by being prolix in things which hardly relate to what he treats of. He interrupts the thread of his discourse with private anecdotes, long harangues, and tedious narrations, which have little or no relation to the subject, and are of much less consequence to the reader. The want of method and order throughout the whole work is still more apparent; and that, joined to these digressions, renders his accounts, however just and interesting, so tedious and irksome to read, and at the same time so indistinct, that few seem to have reaped the benefit of them. For these reasons it was necessary to methodize the whole work; to abridge some parts of it; and to leave out many things that appear to be trifling. This we have endeavored to do in the translation, by reducing the whole work to four general heads or books; and {ii} by bringing the several subjects treated of, the accounts of which lie scattered up and down in different parts of the original, under these their proper heads; so that the connection between them, and the accounts of any one subject, may more easily appear.

This, it is presumed, will appear to be a subject of no small consequence and importance to this nation, especially at this time. The countries here treated of, have not only by right always belonged to Great-Britain, but part of them is now acknowledged to it by the former usurpers: and it is to be hoped, that the nation may now reap some advantages from those countries, on which it has expended so many millions; which there is no more likely way to do, than by making them better known in the first place, and by learning from the experience of others, what they do or are likely to produce, that may turn to account to the nation.

It has been generally suspected, that this nation has suffered much, from the want of a due knowledge of her dominions in America, which we should endeavor to prevent for the future. If that may be said of any part of America, it certainly may of those countries, which have been called by the French Louisiana. They have not only included under that name all the western parts of Virginia and Carolina; and thereby imagined, that they had, from this nominal title, a just right to those antient dominions of the crown of Britain: but what is of worse consequence perhaps, they have equally deceived and imposed upon many, by the extravagant hopes and unreasonable expectations they had formed to themselves, of the vast advantages they were to reap from those countries, as soon as they had usurped them; which when they came to be disappointed in, they ran from one extreme to another, and condemned the country as good for nothing, because it did not answer the extravagant hopes they had conceived of it; and we seem to be misled by their prejudices, and to be drawn into mistakes by their artifice or folly. Because the Missisippi scheme failed in 1719, every other reasonable scheme of improving that country, and of reaping any advantage from it, must do the same. It is to wipe off these prejudices, that the following account of these countries, which appears to be both {iii} just and reasonable, and agreeable to every thing we know of America, may be the more necessary.

We have been long ago told by F. Charlevoix, from whence it is, that many people have formed a contemptible opinion of this country that lies on and about the Missisippi. They are misled, says he, by the relations of some seafaring people, and others, who are no manner of judges of such things, and have never seen any part of the country but the coast side, about Mobile, and the mouths of the Mississippi; which our author here tells us is as dismal to appearance, the only thing those people are capable of judging of, as the interior parts of the country, which they never saw, are delightful, fruitful, and inviting. They tell us, besides, that the country is unhealthful; because there happens to be a marsh at the mouth of the Missisippi, (and what river is there without one?) which they imagine must be unhealthful, rather than that they know it to be so; not considering, that all the coast both of North and South America is the same; and not knowing, that the whole continent, above this single part on the coast, is the most likely, from its situation, and has been found by all the experience that has been had of it, to be the most healthy part of all North America in the same climates, as will abundantly appear from the following and all other accounts.

To give a general view of those countries, we should consider them as they are naturally divided into four parts; 1. The sea coast; 2. The Lower Louisiana, or western part of Carolina; 3. The Upper Louisiana, or western part of Virginia; and 4, the river Missisippi.

I. The sea coast is the same with all the rest of the coast of North America to the southward of New York, and indeed from thence to Mexico, as far as we are acquainted with it. It is all a low flat sandy beach, and the soil for some twenty or thirty miles distance from the shore, more or less, is all a _pine barren_, as it is called, or a sandy desart; with few or no good ports or harbours on the coast, especially in all those southern parts of America, from Chesapeak bay to Mexico. But however barren this coast is in other respects, it is entirely covered with tall pines, which afford great store of pitch, tar, and turpentine. {iv} These pines likewise make good masts for ships; which I have known to last for twenty odd years, when it is well known, that our common masts of New England white pine will often decay in three or four years. These masts were of that kind that is called the pitch pine, and lightwood pine; of which I knew a ship built that ran for sixteen years, when her planks of this pine were as sound and rather harder than at first, although her oak timbers were rotten. The cypress, of which there is such plenty in the swamps on this coast, is reckoned to be equally serviceable, if not more so, both for masts (of which it would afford the largest of any tree that we know), and for ship building. And ships might be built of both these timbers for half the price perhaps of any others, both on account of the vast plenty of them, and of their being so easily worked.

In most parts of these coasts likewise, especially about the Missisippi, there is great plenty of cedars and ever-green oaks; which make the best ships of any that are built in North America. And we suspect it is of these cedars and the American cypress, that the Spaniards build their ships of war at the Havanna. Of these there is the greatest plenty, immediately; to the westward of the mouth of the Missisippi where “large vessels can go to the lake of the Chetimachas, and nothing hinders them to go and cut the finest oaks in the world, with which all that coast is covered;” [Footnote: _Charlevoix_ Hist. N. France, Tom. III. p. 444.] which, moreover, is a sure sign of a very good, instead of a bad soil; and accordingly we see the French have settled their tobacco plantations thereabouts. It is not without reason then, that our author tells us, the largest navies might be built in that country at a very small expence.

From this it appears, that even the sea coast, barren as it is, from which the whole country has been so much depreciated, is not without its advantages, and those peculiarly adapted to a trading and maritime nation. Had these sandy desarts indeed been in such a climate as Canada, they would have been of as little value, as many would make them here. It might be difficult indeed to settle colonies merely for these or any other {v} productions of those poor lands: but to the westward of the Missisippi, the coast is much more fruitful all along the bay of Mexico; being watered with a great number of rivers, the banks of which are very fertile, and are covered with forests of the tallest oaks, &c. as far as to New Mexico, a thing not to be seen any where else on these coasts. The coast alone will supply all the products of North America, and is as convenient to navigation as any part of it, without going nigh the Missisippi; so that it is with good reason our author says, “That country promises great riches to such as shall inhabit it, from the excellent quality of its lands,” [Footnote: See p. 163.] in such a climate.

These are the productions of the dry (we cannot call them high) grounds: the swamps, with which this coast abounds, are still more fruitful, and abundantly compensate the avidity and barrenness of the soil around them. They bear rice in such plenty, especially the marsh about New Orleans, “That the inhabitants reap the greatest advantage from it, and reckon it the manna of the land.” [Footnote: _Dumont_, I. 15.] It was such marshes on the Nile, in the same climate, that were the granary of the Roman empire. And from a few such marshes in Carolina, not to be compared to those on the Missisippi, either in extent or fertility, Britain receives at least two or three hundred thousand pounds a year, and might vend twice that value of their products.

But however barren or noxious these low lands on the sea coast may be, they extend but a little way about the Missisippi, not above thirty or forty miles in a straight line, on the east side of that river, and about twice as far on the west side; in which last, the lands are, in recompence, much more fruitful. To follow the course of the river indeed, which runs very obliquely south-east and north-west, as well as crooked, they reckon it eighty-two leagues from the mouth of the river to the Cut-Point, where the high lands begin.

II. By the Lower Louisiana, our author means only the Delta of the Missisippi, or the drowned lands made by the overflowing of the river. But we may more properly give {vi} that appellation to the whole country, from the low and flat sea coast above described, to the mountains, which begin about the latitude 35 deg., a little above the river St. Francis; that is, five degrees of latitude, or three hundred and fifty statute miles from the coast; which they reckon to be six hundred and sixty miles up the Missisippi. About that latitude a continued ridge of mountains runs westward from the Apalachean mountains nigh to the banks of the Missisippi, which are thereabouts very high, at what we have called the Chicasaw Cliffs. Opposite to these on the west side of the Missisippi, the country is mountainous, and continues to be so here and there, as far as we have any accounts of it, westward to the mountains of New Mexico; which run in a chain of continued ridges from north to south, and are reckoned to divide that country from Louisiana, about 900 miles west from the Missisippi.

This is one entire level champaign country; the part of which that lies west of the Missisippi is 900 miles (of sixty to a degree) by 300, and contains 270,000 square miles, as much as both France and Spain put together. This country lies in the latitude of those fruitful regions of Barbary, Syria, Persia, India, and the middle of China, and is alone sufficient to supply the world with all the products of North America. It is very fertile in every thing, both in lands and metals, by all the accounts we have of it; and is watered by several large navigable rivers, that spread over the whole country from the Missisippi to New Mexico; besides several smaller rivers on the coast west of the Missisippi, that fall into the bay of Mexico; of which we have no good accounts, if it be not that Mr. Coxe tells us of one, the river of the Cenis, which, he says, “is broad, deep, and navigable almost to its heads, which chiefly proceed from the ridge of hills that separate this province from New Mexico,” [Footnote: Description of Carolina, p. 37] and runs through the rich and fertile country on the coast above mentioned.

The western part of this country is more fertile, says our author, than that on the east side of the Missisippi; in which part, however, says he, the lands are very fertile, with a rich {vii} black mould three feet deep in the hills, and much deeper in the bottoms, with a strong clayey foundation. Reeds and canes even grow upon the hill sides; which, with the oaks, walnuts, tulip-trees, &c. are a sure sign of a good and rich soil. And all along the Missisippi on both sides, Dumont tells, “The lands, which are all free from inundations, are excellent for culture, particularly those about Baton Rouge, Cut-Point, Arkansas, Natchez, and Yasous, which produce Indian corn, tobacco, indigo, &c. and all kinds of provisions and esculent plants, with little or no care or labour, and almost without culture; the soil being in all those places a black mould of an excellent quality.” [Footnote: Memoires, I. 16.]

These accounts are confirmed by our own people, who were sent by the government of Virginia in 1742, to view these the western parts of that province; and although they only went down the Ohio and Missisippi to New Orleans, they reported, that “they saw more good land on the Missisippi, and its many large branches, than they judge is in all the English colonies, as far as they are inhabited;” as appears from the report of that government to the board of trade.

What makes this fertile country more eligible and valuable, is, that it appears both from its situation, and from the experience the French have had of it, [Footnote: See p. 120, 121.] to be by far the most healthful of any in all these southern parts of North America; a thing of the last consequence in settling colonies, especially in those southern parts of America, which are in general very unhealthful. All the sea coasts of our colonies, to the southward of Chesapeak bay, or even of New-York, are low and flat, marshy and swampy, and very unhealthful on that account and those on and about the bay of Mexico, and in Florida, are withal excessively hot and intemperate, so that white people are unfit for labour in them; by which all our southern colonies, which alone promise to be of any great advantage to the nation, are so thin of people, that we have but 25,000 white people in all South Carolina. [Footnote: Description of South Carolina. by—-, p. 30.] But those lands on the Missisippi are, on {viii} the contrary, high, dry, hilly, and in some places mountainous at no great distance from the river, besides the ridges of the Apalachean mountains above mentioned, that lie to the northward of them; which must greatly refresh and cool the air all over the country, especially in comparison of what it is on the low and flat, sandy and parched sea coasts of our present colonies. These high lands begin immediately above the Delta, or drowned lands, at the mouth of the Missisippi; above which the banks of that river are from one hundred to two hundred feet high, without any marshes about them; and continue such for nine hundred miles to the river Ohio, especially on the east side of the river. [Footnote: See p. 158]

Such a situation on rich and fertile lands in that climate, and on a navigable river, must appear to be of the utmost consequence. It is only from the rich lands on the river sides (which indeed are the only lands that can generally be called rich in all countries, and especially in North America), that this nation reaps any thing of value from all the colonies it has in that part of the world. But “rich lands on river sides in hot climates are extremely unhealthful,” says a very good judge, [Footnote: _Arbuthnot_ on Air. _App_.] and we have often found to our cost. How ought we then to value such rich and healthful countries on the Missisippi? As much surely as some would depreciate and vilify them. It may be observed, that all the countries in America are only populous in the inland parts, and generally at a distance from navigation; as the sea coasts both of North and South America are generally low, damp, excessively hot, and unhealthful; at least in all the southern parts, from which alone we can expect any considerable returns. Instances of this may be seen in the adjacent provinces of Mexico, New Mexico, Terra Firma, Peru, Quito, etc. and far more in our southern colonies, which never became populous, till the people removed to the inland parts, at a distance from the sea. This we are in a manner prevented to do in our colonies, by the mountains which surround us, and confine us to the coast; whereas on the Missisippi the whole continent is open to them, and they have, besides, this healthy {ix} situation on the lower parts of that river, at a small distance from the sea.

If those things are duly considered, it will appear, that they who are possessed of the Missisippi, will in time command that continent; and that we shall be confined on the sea coasts of our colonies, to that unhealthful situation, which many would persuade us is so much to be dreaded on the Missisippi. It is by this means that we have so very few people in all our southern colonies; and have not been able to get in one hundred years above twenty-five thousand people in South Carolina; when the French has not less than eighty or ninety thousand in Canada, besides ten or twelve thousand on the Missisippi, to oppose to them. The low and drowned lands, indeed, about the mouth of the Missisippi must no doubt be more or less unhealthful; but they are far from being so very pernicious as many represent them. The waters there are fresh, which we know, by manifold experience in America, are much less prejudicial to health than the offensive fetid marshes, that are to be found every where else on the salt waters. Accordingly we are credibly informed, that some of the inhabitants of New Orleans say, they never enjoyed better health even in France; and for that reason they invite their countrymen, in their letters to them, we are told, to come and partake of the salutary benefits of that delightful country. The clearing, draining, and cultivating of those low lands, must make a very great change upon them, from the accounts we have had of them in their rude and uncultivated state.

III. The Upper Louisiana we call that part of the continent, which lies to the northward of the mountains above mentioned in latitude 35 deg.. This country is in many places hilly and mountainous for which reason we cannot expect it to be so fertile as the plains below it. But those hills on the west side of the Missisippi are generally suspected to contain mines, as well as the mountains of New Mexico, of which they are a continuation. But the fertile plains of Louisiana are perhaps more valuable than all the mines of Mexico; which there would be no doubt of, if they were duly cultivated. They will breed and maintain ten times as many people, and supply them with {x} many more necessaries, and articles of trade and navigation, than the richest mines of Peru.

The most important place in this country, and perhaps in all North America, is at the Forks of the Missisippi, where the Ohio falls into that river; which, like another ocean, is the general receptacle of all the rivers that water the interior parts of that vast continent. Here those large and navigable rivers, the Ohio, river of the Cherokees, Wabache, Illinois, Missouri, and Missisippi, besides many others, which spread over that whole continent, from the Apalachean mountains to the mountains of New Mexico, upwards of one thousand miles, both north, south, east, and west, all meet together at this spot; and that in the best climate, and one of the most fruitful countries of any in all that part of the world, in the latitude 37 deg., the latitude of the Capes of Virginia, and of Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico. By that means there is a convenient navigation to this place from our present settlements to New Mexico; and from all the inland parts of North America, farther than we are acquainted with it: and all the natives of that continent, those old friends and allies of the French, have by that means a free and ready access to this place; nigh to which the French formed a settlement, to secure their interest on the frontiers of all our southern colonies. In short this place is the centre of that vast continent, and of all the nations in it, and seems to be intended by nature to command them both; for which reason it ought no longer to be neglected by Britain. As soon as we pass the Apalachean mountains, this seems to be the most proper place to settle at; and was pitched upon for that purpose, by those who were the best acquainted with those countries, and the proper places of making settlements in them, of any we know. And if the settlements at this place had been made, as they were proposed, about twenty years ago, they might have prevented, or at least frustrated, the late attempts to wrest that country, and the territories of the Ohio, out of the hands of the English; and they may do the same again.

But many will tell us, that those inland parts of North America will be of no use to Britain, on account of their distance {xi} from the sea, and inconvenience to navigation. That indeed might be said of the parts which lie immediately beyond the mountains, as the country of the Cherokees, and Ohio Indians about Pitsburg, the only countries thereabouts that we can extend our settlements to; which are so inconvenient to navigation, that nothing can be brought from them across the mountains, at least none of those gross commodities, which are the staple of North America; and they are as inconvenient to have any thing carried from them, nigh two thousand miles, down the river Ohio, and then by the Missisippi. For that reason those countries, which we look upon to be the most convenient, are the most inconvenient to us of any, although they join upon our present settlements. It is for these reasons, that the first settlements we make beyond the mountains, that is, beyond those we are now possessed of, should be upon the Missisippi, as we have said, convenient to the navigation of that river; and in time those new settlements may come to join to our present plantations; and we may by that means reap the benefit of all those inland parts of North America, by means of the navigation of the Missisippi, which will be secured by this post at the Forks. If that is not done, we cannot see how any of those inland parts of America, and the territories of the Ohio, which were the great objects of the present war, can ever be of any use to Britain, as the inhabitants of all those countries can otherwise have little or no correspondence with it.

IV. This famous river, the Missisippi, is navigable upwards of two thousand miles, to the falls of St. Anthony in latitude 45 deg., the only fall we know in it, which is 16 degrees of latitude above its mouth; and even above that fall, our author tells us, there is thirty fathom of water in the river, with a proportionate breadth. About one thousand miles from its mouth it receives the river Ohio, which is navigable one thousand miles farther, some say one thousand five hundred, nigh to its source, not far from Lake Ontario in New York; in all which space there is but one fall or rapide in the Ohio, and that navigable both up and down, at least in canoes. This fall is three hundred miles from the Missisippi, and one thousand three hundred from the sea, with five fathom of water up to {xii} it. The other large branches of the Ohio, the river of the Cherokees, and the Wabache, afford a like navigation, from lake Erie in the north to the Cherokees in the south, and from thence to the bay of Mexico, by the Missisippi: not to mention the great river Missouri, which runs to the north-west parts of New Mexico, much farther than we have any good accounts of that continent. From this it appears, that the Missouri affords the most extensive navigation of any river we know; so that it may justly be compared to an inland sea, which spreads over nine tenths of all the continent of North America; all which the French pretended to lay claim to, for no other reason but because they were possessed of a paltry settlement at the mouth of this river.

If those things are considered, the importance of the navigation of the Missisippi, and of a port at the mouth of it, will abundantly appear. Whatever that navigation is, good or bad, it is the only one for all the interior parts of North America, which are as large as a great part of Europe; no part of which can be of any service to Britain, without the navigation of the Missisippi, and settlements upon it. It is not without reason then, that we say, whoever are possessed of this river, and of the vast tracts of fertile lands upon it, must in time command that continent, and the trade of it, as well as all the natives in it, by the supplies which this navigation will enable them to furnish those people. By those means, if the French, or any others, are left in possession of the Missisippi, while we neglect it, they must command all that continent beyond the Apalachean mountains, and disturb our settlements much more than ever they did, or were able to do; the very thing they engaged in this war to accomplish, and we to prevent.

The Missisippi indeed is rapid for twelve hundred miles, as far as to the Missouri, which makes it difficult to go up the river by water. For that reason the French have been used to quit the Missisippi at the river St. Francis, from which they have a nigher way to the Forks of the Missisippi by land. But however difficult it may be to ascend the river, it is, notwithstanding often done; and its rapidity facilitates a descent upon it, and a ready conveyance for those gross commodities, which {xiii} are the chief staple of North America, from the most remote places of the continent above mentioned: and as for lighter European goods, they are more easily carried by land, as our Indian traders do, over great part of the continent, on their horses, of which this country abounds with great plenty.

The worst part of the navigation, as well as of the country, is reckoned to be at the mouth of the river; which, however, our author tells us, is from seventeen to eighteen feet deep, and will admit ships of five hundred tons, the largest generally used in the plantation trade. And even this navigation might be easily mended, not only by clearing the river of a narrow bar in the passes, which our author, Charlevoix, and others, think might be easily done; but likewise by means of a bay described by Mr. Coxe, from the actual survey of his people, lying to the westward of the south pass of the river; which, he says, has from twenty-five to six fathom water in it, close to the shore, and not above a mile from the Missisippi, above all the shoals and difficult passes in it, and where the river has one hundred feet of water. By cutting through that one mile then, it would appear that a port might be made there for ships of any burden; the importance of which is evident, from its commanding all the inland parts of North America on one side, and the pass from Mexico on the other; so as to be preferable in these respects even to the Havanna; not to mention that it is fresh water, and free from worms, which destroy all the ships in those parts.

And as for the navigation from the Missisippi to Europe, our author shews that voyage may be performed in six weeks; which is as short a time as our ships generally take to go to and from our colonies. They go to the Missisippi with the trade winds, and return with the currents.

It would lead us beyond the bounds of a preface, to shew the many advantages of those lands on the Missisippi to Britain, or the necessity of possessing them. That would require a treatise by itself, of which we can only give a few abstracts in this place. For this purpose we should compare those lands with our present colonies; and should be well informed of the quantity and condition of the lands we already possess, before {xiv} we can form any just judgement of what may be farther proper or requisite.

Our present possessions in North America between the sea and the mountains appear, from many surveys and actual mensurations, as well as from all the maps and other accounts we have of them, to be at a medium about three degrees of longitude, or one hundred and forty miles broad, in a straight line; and they extend from Georgia, in latitude 32 deg., to the bay of Fundi, in latitude 45 deg. (which is much farther both north and south, than the lands appear to be of any great value); which makes 13 degrees difference of latitude, or 780 miles: this length multiplied by the breadth 140, makes 109,200 square miles., This is not above as much land as is contained in Britain and Ireland; which, by Templeman’s Survey, make 105,634 square miles. Instead of being as large as a great part of Europe then, as we are commonly told, all the lands we possess in North America, between the sea and mountains, do not amount to much more than these two islands. This appears farther, from the particular surveys of each of our colonies, as well as from this general estimate of the whole.

Of these lands which we thus possess, both the northern and southern parts are very poor and barren, and produce little or nothing, at least for Britain. It is only in our middle plantations, Virginia, Maryland, and Carolina, that the lands produce any staple commodity for Britain, or that appear to be fit for that purpose. In short, it is only the more rich and fertile lands on and about Chesapeak bay, with a few swamps in Carolina, like the lands on the Missisippi, that turn to any great account to this nation in all North America, or that are ever likely to do it. This makes the quantity of lands that produce any staple commodity for Britain in North America incredibly small, and vastly less than what is commonly imagined. It is reckoned, that there are more such lands in Virginia, than in all the rest of our colonies; and yet it appeared from the public records, about twenty-five years ago, that there was not above as much land patented in that colony, which is at the same time the oldest of any in all North America, than is in the county of Yorkshire, in England, to-wit, {xv} 4684 square miles; although the country was then settled to the mountains.

If we examine all our other colonies, there will appear to be as great a scarcity and want of good lands in them, at least to answer the great end of colonies, the making of a staple commodity for Britain. In short, our colonies are already settled to the mountains, and have no lands, either to extend their settlements, as they increase and multiply; to keep up their plantations of staple commodities for Britain; or to enlarge the British dominions by the number of foreigners that remove to them; till they pass those mountains, and settle on the Missisippi.

This scarcity of land in our colonies proceeds from the mountains, with which they are surrounded, and by which they are confined to this narrow tract, and a low vale, along the sea side. The breadth of the continent from the Atlantic ocean to the Missisippi, appears to be about 600 miles (of 60 to a degree) of which there is about 140 at a medium, or 150 at most, that lies between the sea and mountains: and there is such another, and rather more fertile tract of level and improveable lands, about the same breadth, between the western parts of those mountains and the Missisippi: so that the mountainous country which lies between these two, is equal to them both, and makes one half of all the lands between the Missisippi and Atlantic ocean; if we except a small tract of a level champaign country upon the heads of the Ohio, which is possessed by the Six Nations, and their dependents. These mountainous and barren desarts, which lie immediately beyond our present settlements, are not only unfit for culture themselves, and so inconvenient to navigation, whether to the ocean, or to the Missisippi, that little or no use can be made of them; but they likewise preclude us from any access to those more fertile lands that lie beyond them, which would otherwise have been occupied long ago, but never can be settled, so at least as to turn to any account to Britain, without the possession and navigation of the Missisippi; which is, as it were, the sea of all the inland parts of North America beyond the Apalachean mountains, without which those inland parts of that continent can never turn to any account to this nation.

{xvi} It is this our situation in North America, that renders all that continent beyond our present settlements of little or no use, at least to Britain; and makes the possession of the Missisippi absolutely necessary to reap the benefit of it. We possess but a fourth part of the continent between that river and the ocean; and but a tenth part of what lies east of Mexico; and can never enjoy any great advantages from any more of it, till we settle on the Missisippi.

How necessary such settlements on the Missisippi may be, will farther appear from what we possess on this side of it. The lands in North America are in general but very poor or barren; and if any of them are more fertile, the soil is light and shallow, and soon worn out with culture. It is only the virgin fertility of fresh lands, such as those on the Missisippi, that makes the lands in North America appear to be fruitful, or that renders them of any great value to this nation. But such lands in our colonies, that have hitherto produced their staple commodities for Britain, are now exhausted and worn out, and we meet with none such on this side of the Missisippi. But when their lands are worn out, neither the value of their commodities, nor the circumstances of the planters, will admit of manuring them, at least to any great advantage to this nation.

The staple commodities of North America are so gross and bulky, and of so small value, that it generally takes one half of them to pay the freight and other charges in sending them to Britain; so that unless our planters have some advantage in making them, such as cheap, rich, and fresh lands, they never can make any; their returns to Britain are then neglected, and the trade is gained by others who have these advantages; such as those who may be possessed of the Missisippi, or by the Germans, Russians, Turks, &c. who have plenty of lands, and labour cheap: by which means they make more of our staple of North America, tobacco, than we do ourselves; while we cannot make their staple of hemp, flax, iron, pot-ash, &c. By that means our people are obliged to interfere with their mother country, for want of the use of those lands of which there is such plenty in North America, to produce these commodities that are so much wanted from thence.

{xvii} The consequences of this may be much more prejudicial to this nation, than is commonly apprehended. This trade of North America, whatever may be the income from it, consists in those gross and bulky commodities that are the chief and principal sources of navigation; which maintain whole countries to make them, whole fleets to transport them, and numbers of people to manufacture them at home; on which accounts this trade is more profitable to a nation, than the mines of Mexico or Peru. If we compare this with other branches of trade, as the sugar trade, or even the fishery, it will appear to be by far the most profitable to the nation, whatever those others may be to a few individuals. We set a great value on the fishery, in which we do not employ a third part of the seamen that we do in the plantation trade of North America; and the same may be said of the sugar trade. The tobacco trade alone employs more seamen in Britain, than either the fishery, or sugar trade; [Footnote: By the best accounts we have, there were 4000 seamen employed in the tobacco trade, in the year 1733, when the inspection on tobacco passed into a law; and we may perhaps reckon them now 4500, although some reckon them less.

By the same accounts, taken by the custom-house officers, it appeared, that the number of British ships employed in all America, including the fishery, were 1400, with 17,000 seamen; besides 9000 or 10,000 seamen belonging to North-America, who are all ready to enter into the service of Britain on, any emergency or encouragement.

Of these there were but 4000 seamen employed in the fishery from Britain; and about as many, or 3600, in the sugar trade.

The French, on the other hand, employ upwards of 20,000 seamen in the fishery, and many more than we do in the sugar trade.

In short, the plantation trade of North America is to Britain, what the fishery is to France, the great nursery of seamen, which may be much improved. It is for this reason that we have always thought this nation ought, for its safety, to enjoy an exclusive right to the one or the other of these at least.] and brings in more money to the nation than all the products of America perhaps put together.

But those gross commodities that afford these sources of navigation, however valuable they may be to the public, and to this nation in particular, are far from being so to individuals: they are cheap, and of small value, either to make, or to trade {xviii} in them; and for that reason they are neglected by private people, who never think of making them, unless the public takes care to give them all due encouragement, and to set them about those employments; for which purpose good and proper lands, such as those on the Missisippi, are absolutely necessary, without which nothing can be done.

The many advantages of such lands that produce a staple for Britain, in North America, are not to be told. The whole interest of the nation in those colonies depends upon them, if not the colonies themselves. Such lands alone enable the colonies to take their manufactures and other necessaries from Britain, to the mutual advantage of both. And how necessary that may be will appear from the state of those colonies in North America, which do not make, one with another, as much as is sufficient to supply them only with the necessary article of cloathing; not to mention the many other things they want and take from Britain; and even how they pay for that is more than any man can tell. In short, it would appear that our colonies in North America cannot subsist much longer, if at all, in a state of dependence for all their manufactures and other necessaries, unless they are provided with other lands that may enable them to purchase them; and where they will find any such lands, but upon the Missisippi, is more than we can tell. When their lands are worn out, are poor and barren, or in an improper climate or situation, or that they will produce nothing to send to Britain, such lands can only be converted into corn and pasture grounds; and the people in our colonies are thereby necessarily obliged, for a bare subsistence, to interfere with Britain, not only in manufactures, but in the very produce of their lands.

By this we may perceive the absurdity of the popular outcry, that we have already _land enough_, and more than we can make use of in North America. They who may be of that opinion should shew us, where that land is to be found, and what it will produce, that may turn to any account to the nation. Those people derive their opinion from what they see in Europe, where the quantity of land that we possess in North America, will, no doubt, maintain a greater number of people than we have there. But they should consider, that those people in {xix} Europe are not maintained by the planting of a bare raw commodity, with such immense charges upon it, but by farming, manufactures, trade, and commerce; which they will soon reduce our colonies to, who would confine them to their present settlements, between the sea coast and the mountains that surround them.

Some of our colonies perhaps may imagine they cannot subsist without these employments; which indeed would appear to be the case in their present state: but that seems to be as contrary to their true interest, as it is to their condition of British colonies. They have neither skill, materials, nor any other conveniences to make manufactures; whereas their lands require only culture to produce a staple commodity, providing they are possessed of such as are fit for that purpose. Manufactures are the produce of labour, which is both scarce and dear among them; whereas lands are, or may, and should be made, both cheap and in plenty; by which they may always reap much greater profits from the one than the other. That is, moreover, a certain pledge for the allegiance and dependance of the colonies; and at the same time makes their dependance to become their interest. It has been found by frequent experience, that the making of a staple commodity for Britain, is more profitable than manufactures, providing they have good lands to work.

It were to be wished indeed, that we could support our interest in America, and those sources of navigation, by countries that were more convenient to it, than those on the Missisippi. But that, we fear, is not to be done, however it may be desired. We wish we could say as much of the lands in Florida, and on the bay of Mexico, as of those on the Missisippi: but they are not to be compared to these, by all accounts, however convenient they may be in other respects to navigation. In all those southern and maritime parts of that continent the lands are in general but very poor and mean, being little more than _pine barrens_, or _sandy desarts_. The climate is at the same time so intemperate, that white people are in a great measure unfit for labour in it, as much as they are in the islands; this obliges them to make use of slaves, which are now become so dear, that it is to be doubted, whether all the produce {xx} of those lands will enable the proprietors of them to purchase slaves, or any other labourers; without which they can turn to little or no account to the nation, and those countries can support but very few people, if it were only to protect and defend them.

The most convenient part of those countries seems to be about Mobile and Pensacola; which are, as it were, an entrepot between our present settlements and the Missisippi, and safe station for our ships. But it is a pity that the lands about them are the most barren, and the climate the most intemperate, by all accounts, of any perhaps in all America. [Footnote: See page 49, 111, &c. _Charlevoix_ Hist. N. France, Tom. III. 484. _Laval, infra_, &c.] And our author tells us, the lands are not much better even on the river of Mobile; which is but a very inconsiderable one. But the great inconvenience of those countries proceeds from the number of Indians in them; which will make it very difficult to settle any profitable plantations among them, especially in the inland parts that are more fertile; whereas the Missisippi is free from Indians for 1000 miles. It was but in the year 1715, that those Indians overran all the colony of Carolina, even to Charles-Town; by which the French got possession of that country, and of the Missisippi; both which they had just before, in June 1713, dispossessed us of.

If we turn our eyes again to the lands in our northern colonies, it is to be feared we can expect much less from them. There is an inconvenience attending them, with regard to any improvements on them for Britain, which is not to be remedied. The climate is so severe, and the winters so long, that the people are obliged to spend that time in providing the necessaries of life, which should be employed in profitable colonies, on the making of some staple commodity, and returns to Britain. They are obliged to feed their creatures for five or six months in the year, which employs their time in summer, and takes up the best of their lands, such as they are, which should produce their staple commodities, to provide for themselves and their stocks against winter. For that reason the people in all our northern colonies are necessarily obliged to become farmers, {xxi} to make corn and provisions, instead of planters, who make a staple commodity for Britain; and thereby interfere with their mother country in the most material and essential of all employments to a nation, agriculture.

In short, neither the soil nor climate will admit of any improvements for Britain, in any of those northern colonies. If they would produce any thing of that kind, it must be hemp; which never could be made in them to any advantage, as appears from many trials of it in New England. [Footnote: See _Douglas’s_ Hist. N. America. _Elliot’s_ Improvements on New England, &c.] The great dependance of those northern colonies is upon the supplies of lumber and provisions which they send to the islands. But as they increase and multiply, their woods are cut down, lumber becomes scarce and dear, and the number of people inhances the value of land, and of every thing it produces, especially provisions.

If this is the case of those northern colonies on the sea coast, what can we expect from the inland parts; in which the soil is not only more barren, and the climate more severe, but they are, with all these disadvantages, so inconvenient to navigation, both on account of their distance, and of the many falls and currents in the river St. Lawrence, that it is to be feared those inland parts of our northern colonies will never produce any thing for Britain, more than a few furrs; which they will do much better in the hands of the natives, than in ours. These our northern colonies, however, are very populous, and increase and multiply very fast. There are above a million of people in them, who can make but very little upon their lands for themselves, and still less for their mother country. For these reasons it is presumed, it would be an advantage to them, as well as to the whole nation, to remove their spare people, who want lands, to those vacant lands in the southern parts of the continent, which turn to so much greater account than any that they are possessed of. There they may have the necessaries of life in the greatest plenty; their stocks maintain themselves the whole year round, with little or no cost or labour; “by which means many people have a thousand head {xxii} of cattle, and for one man to have two hundred, is very common, with other stock in proportion.” [Footnote: Description of South Carolina, p. 68.] This enables them to bestow their whole labour, both in summer and winter, on the making of some staple commodity for Britain, getting lumber and provisions for the islands, &c. which both enriches them and the whole nation. That is much better, surely, than to perish in winter for want of cloathing, which they must do unless they make it; and to excite those grudges and jealousies, which must ever subsist between them and their mother country in their present state, and grow so much the worse, the longer they continue in it.

The many advantages that would ensue from the peopling of those southern parts of the continent from our northern colonies, are hardly to be told. We might thereby people and secure those countries, and reap the profits of them, without any loss of people; which are not to be spared for that purpose in Britain, or any other of her dominions. This is the great use and advantage that may be made of the expulsion of the French from those northern parts of America. They have hitherto obliged us to strengthen those northern colonies, and have confined the people in them to towns and townships, in which their labour could turn to no great account, either to themselves or to the nation, by which we have, in a great measure, loss the labour of one half of the people in our colonies. But as they are now free from any danger on their borders, they may extend their settlements with safety, disperse themselves on plantations, and cultivate those lands that may turn to some account, both to them and to the whole nation. In short, they may now make some staple commodity for Britain; on which the interest of the colonies, and of the nation in them, chiefly depends; and which we can never expect from those colonies in their present situation.

What those commodities are, that we might get from those southern parts of North America, will appear from the following accounts; which we have not room here to consider more particularly. We need only mention hemp, flax, and silk, those great articles and necessary materials of manufactures; for which alone this nation pays at least a million and an half {xxiii} a-year, if not two millions, and could never get them from all the colonies we have. Cotton and indigo are equally useful. Not to mention copper, iron, potash, &c. which, with hemp, flax, and silk, make the great balance of trade against the nation, and drain it of its treasure; when we might have those commodities from our colonies for manufactures, and both supply ourselves and others with them. Wine, oil, raisins, and currants, &c. those products of France and Spain, on which Britain expends so much of her treasure, to enrich her enemies, might likewise be had from those her own dominions. Britain might thereby cut off those resources of her enemies; secure her colonies for the future; and prevent such calamities of war, by cultivating those more laudable arts of peace: which will be the more necessary, as these are the only advantages the nation can expect, for the many millions that have been expended on America.

_A Description of the Harbour of_ PENSACOLA.

As the harbour of Pensacola will appear to be a considerable acquisition to Britain, it may be some satisfaction to give the following account of it, from F. Laval, royal professor of mathematics, and master of the marine academy at Toulon; who was sent to Louisiana, on purpose to make observations, in 1719; and had the accounts of the officers who took Pensacola at that time, and surveyed the place.

“The colonies of Pensacola, and of Dauphin-Island, are at present on the decline, the inhabitants having removed to settle at Mobile and Biloxi, or at New-Orleans, where the lands are much better; for at the first the soil is chiefly sand, mixed with little earth. The land, however, is covered with woods of pines, firs, and oaks; which make good trees, as well as at Ship-Island. The road of Pensacola is the only good port thereabouts for large ships, and Ship-Island for small ones, where vessels that draw from thirteen to fourteen feet water, may ride in safety, under the island, in fifteen feet, and a good holding ground; as well as in the other ports, which are all only open roads, exposed to the south, and from west to east.

“Pensacola is in north-latitude 30 deg. 25′; and is the only road in the bay of Mexico, in which ships can be safe from all {xxiv} winds. It is land-locked on every side, and will hold a great number of ships, which have very good anchorage in it, in a good holding ground of soft sand, and from twenty-five to thirty-four feet of water. You will find not less than twenty-one feet of water on the barr, which is at the entrance into the road, providing you keep in the deepest part of the channel. Before a ship enters the harbour, she should bring the fort of Pensacola to bear between north and north 1/4 east, and keep that course till she is west or west 1/4 south, from the fort on the island of St. Rose, that is, till that fort bears east, and east 1/4 north. Then she must bear away a little to the land on the west side, keeping about mid-way between that and the island, to avoid a bank on this last, which runs out to some distance west-north-west from the point of the island.

“If there are any breakers on the ledge of rocks, which lie to the westward of the barr, as often happens; if there is any wind, that may serve for a mark to ships, which steer along that ledge, at the distance of a good musket-shot, as they enter upon the barr; then keep the course above mentioned. Sometimes the currents set very strong out of the road, which you should take care of, less they should carry you upon these rocks.

“As there is but half a foot rising (_levee_) on the barr of Pensacola, every ship of war, if it be not in a storm, may depend upon nineteen (perhaps twenty) feet of water, to go into the harbour, as there are twenty-one feet on the barr. Ships that draw twenty feet must be towed in. By this we see, that ships of sixty guns may go into this harbour: and even seventy gun ships, the largest requisite in that country in time of war, if they were built flat-bottomed, like the Dutch ships, might pass every where in that harbour.

“In 1719 Pensacola was taken by Mr. Champmelin, in the Hercules man of war, of sixty-four guns, but carried only fifty-six; in company with the Mars, pierced for sixty guns, but had in only fifty-four; and the Triton, pierced for fifty-four guns, but carried only fifty; with two frigates of thirty-six and twenty guns. [Footnote: The admiral was on board of the Hercules, which drew twenty-one feet of water, and there were but twenty-two feet into the harbour in the highest tides; so that they despaired of carrying in this ship. But an old Canadian, named Crimeau, a man of experience, who was perfectly acquainted with that coast, boasted of being able to do it, and succeeded; for which he was the next year honoured with letters of noblesse. _Dumont_ (an officer there at that time) 11.22.

But _Bellin_, from the charts of the admiralty, makes but twenty feet of water on the barr of Pensacola. The difference may arise from the tides, which are very irregular and uncertain on all that coast, according to the winds; never rising above three feet, sometimes much less. In twenty-four hours the tide ebbs in the harbour for eighteen or nineteen hours, and flows five or six. _Laval_.]

{xxv} “This road is subject to one inconvenience; several rivers fall into it, which occasion strong currents, and make boats or canoes, as they pass backwards and forwards, apt to run a-ground; but as the bottom is all sand, they are not apt to founder. On the other hand there is a great advantage in this road; it is free from worms, which never breed in fresh water, so that vessels are never worm-eaten in it.”

But F. Charlevoix seems to contradict this last circumstance: “The bay of Pensacola would be a pretty good port, (says he) if the worms did not eat the vessels in it, and if there was a little more water in the entrance into it; for the Hercules, commanded by Mr. Champmelin, touched upon it.” It is not so certain then, that this harbour is altogether free from worms; although it may not be so subject to them, as other places in those climes, from the many small fresh water rivers that fall into this bay, which may have been the occasion of these accounts, that are seemingly contradictory.

In such a place ships might at least be preserved from worms, in all likelihood, by paying their bottoms with aloes, or mixing it with their other stuff. That has been found to prevent the biting of these worms; and might be had in plenty on the spot. Many kinds of aloes would grow on the barren sandy lands about Pensacola, and in Florida, which is the proper soil for them; and would be a good improvement for those lands, which will hardly bear any thing else to advantage, whatever use is made of it.

Having room in this place, we may fill it up with an answer to a common objection against Louisiana; which is, {xxvi} that this country is never likely to turn to any account, because the French have made so little of it.

But that objection, however common, will appear to proceed only from the ignorance of those who make it. No country can produce any thing without labourers; which, it is certain, the French have never had in Louisiana, in any numbers at least, sufficient to make it turn to any greater account than it has hitherto done. The reason of this appears not to be owing to the country, but to their proceedings and misconduct in it. Out of the many thousand people who were contracted for by the grantees, to be sent to Louisiana in 1719, there were but eight hundred sent, we see; and of these the greatest part were ruined by their idle schemes, which made them and others abandon the country entirely. The few again who remained in it were cut off by an Indian massacre in 1729, which broke up the only promising settlements they had in the country, those of the Natchez, and Yasous, which were never afterwards reinstated. Instead of encouraging the colony in such misfortunes, the minister, Cardinal Fleuri, either from a spirit of oeconomy, or because it might be contrary to some other of his views, withdrew his protection from it, gave up the public plantations, and must thereby, no doubt, have very much discouraged others. By these means they have had few or no people in Louisiana, but such as were condemned to be sent to it for their crimes, women of ill fame, deserted soldiers, insolvent debtors, and galley-slaves, _forcats_, as they call them; “who, looking on the country only as a place of exile, were disheartened at every thing in it; and had no regard for the progress of a colony, of which they were only members by compulsion, and neither knew nor considered its advantages to the state. It is from such people that many have their accounts of this country; and throw the blame of all miscarriages in it upon the country, when they are only owing to the incapacity and negligence of those who were instructed to settle it.” [Footnote: _Charlevoix_ Hist. New France, Tom. III. p. 447.]




_The Transactions of the_ French _in_ LOUISIANA.


_Of the first Discovery and Settlement of_ LOUISIANA.

After the Spaniards came to have settlements on the Great Antilles, it was not long before they attempted to make discoveries on the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico. In 1520, Lucas Vasquez de Aillon landed on the continent to the north of that Gulf, being favourably received by the people of that country, who made him presents in gold, pearls, and plated silver. This favourable reception made him return thither four years after; but the natives having changed their friendly sentiments towards him, killed two hundred of his men, and obliged him to retire.

In 1528, Pamphilo Nesunez [Footnote: Narvaez.] landed also on that coast, receiving from the first nations he met in his way, presents made in gold; which, by signs, they made him to understand, came from the Apalachean mountains, in the country which at this day goes under the name of Florida: and thither he attempted to go, undertaking a hazardous journey of twenty-five days. In this march he was so often attacked by the new people he continually discovered, and lost so many of his men, as only to think of re-embarking with the few that were left, {2} happy to have himself escaped the dangers which his imprudence had exposed him to.

The relation published by the Historian of Dominico [Footnote: Ferdinando.] Soto, who in 1539 landed in the Bay of St. Esprit, is so romantic, and so constantly contradicted by all who have travelled that country, that far from giving credit to it, we ought rather to suppose his enterprize had no success; as no traces of it have remained, any more than of those that went before. The inutility of these attempts proved no manner of discouragement to the Spaniards. After the discovery of Florida, it was with a jealous eye they saw the French settle there in 1564, under Rene de Laudonniere, sent thither by the Admiral de Coligni, where he built Fort Carolin; the ruins of which are still to be seen above the Fort of Pensacola. [Footnote: This intended settlement of Admiral Coligni was on the east coast of Florida, about St. Augustin, instead of Pensacola. De Laet is of opinion, that their Fort Carolin was the same with St. Augustin.] There the Spaniards some time after attacked them, and forcing them to capitulate, cruelly murdered them, without any regard had to the treaty concluded between them. As France was at that time involved in the calamities of a religious war, this act of barbarity had remained unresented, had not a single man of Mont Marfan, named Dominique de Gourges, attempted, in the name of the nation, to take vengeance thereof. In 1567, having fitted out a vessel, and sailed for Florida, he took three forts built by the Spaniards; and after killing many of them in the several attacks he made, hanged the rest: and having settled there a new post, [Footnote: He abandoned the country without making any settlement; nor have the French ever had any settlement in it from that day to this. See Laudonniere. Hakluyt, &c.] returned to France. But the disorders of the state having prevented the maintaining that post, the Spaniards soon after retook possession of the country, where they remain to this day.

From that time the French seemed to have dropped all thoughts of that coast, or of attempting any discoveries therein; when the wars in Canada with the natives afforded them the {3} knowledge of the vast country they are possessed of at this day. In one of these wars a Recollet, or Franciscan Friar, name F. Hennepin, was taken and carried to the Illinois. As he had some skill in surgery, he proved serviceable to that people, and was also kindly treated by them: and being at full liberty, he travelled over the country, following for a considerable time the banks of the river St. Louis, or Missisipi, without being able to proceed to its mouth. However, he failed not to take possession of that country, in the name of Louis XIV., calling it Louisiana. Providence having facilitated his return to Canada, he gave the most advantageous account of all he had seen; and after his return to France, drew up a relation thereof, dedicated to M. Colbert.

The account he gave of Louisiana failed not to produce its good effects. Me de la Salle, equally famous for his misfortunes and his courage, undertook to traverse these unknown countries quite to the sea. In Jan. 1679 he set out from Quebec with a large detachment, and being come among the Illinois, there built the first fort France ever had in that country, calling it Crevecaeur; and there he left a good garrison under the command of the Chevalier de Tonti. From thence he went down the river St. Louis, quite to its mouth; which, as has been said, is in the Gulf of Mexico; and having made observations, and taken the elevation in the best manner he could, returned by the same way to Quebec, from whence he passed over to France.

After giving the particulars of his journey to M. Colbert, that great minister, who knew of what importance it was to the state to make sure of so fine and extensive a country, scrupled not to allow him a ship and a small frigate, in order to find out, by the way of the gulf of Mexico, the mouth of the river St. Louis. He set sail in 1685: but his observations, doubtless, not having had all the justness requisite, after arriving in the gulf, he got beyond the river, and running too far westward, entered the bay of St. Bernard: and some misunderstanding happening between him and the officers of the vessels, he debarqued with the men under his command, and having settled a post in that place, undertook to go by land in quest of {4} the great river. But after a march of several days, some of his people, irritated on account of the fatigue he exposed them to, availing themselves of an opportunity, when separated from the rest of his men, basely assassinated him. The soldiers, though deprived of their commander, still continued their route, and, after crossing many rivers, arrived at length at the Arkansas, where they unexpectedly found a French post lately settled. The Chevalier de Tonti was gone down from the fort of the Illinois, quite to the mouth of the river, about the time he judged M. de la Salle might have arrived by sea; and not finding him, was gone up again, in order to return to his post. And in his way entering the river of the Arkansas, quite to the village of that nation, with whom he made an alliance, some of his people insisted, they might be allowed to settle there; which was agreed to, he leaving ten of them in that place; and this small cantonment maintained its ground, not only because from time to time encreased by some Canadians, who came down this river; but above all, because those who formed it had the prudent precaution to live in peace with the natives, and treat as legitimate the children they had by the daughters of the Arkansas, with whom they matched out of necessity.

The report of the pleasantness of Louisiana spreading through Canada, many Frenchmen of that country repaired to settle there, dispersing themselves at pleasure along the river St. Louis, especially towards its mouth, and even in some islands on the coast, and on the river Mobile, which lies nearer Canada. The facility of the commerce with St. Domingo was, undoubtedly, what invited them to the neighbourbood of the sea, though the interior parts of the country be in all respects far preferable. However, these scattered settlements, incapable to maintain their ground of themselves, and too distant to be able to afford mutual assistance, neither warranted the possession of this country, nor could they be called a taking of possession. Louisiana remained in this neglected state, till M. d’Hiberville, Chef d’ Escadre, having discovered, in 1698, the mouths of the river St. Louis, and being nominated Governor General of that vast country, carried thither the first colony in 1699. As he was a native of Canada, the colony almost entirely consisted of Canadians, among whom M. de Luchereau, {5} uncle of Madam d’Hiberville, particularly distinguished himself.

The settlement was made on the river Mobile, with all the facility that could be wished; but its progress proved slow: for these first inhabitants had no other advantage above the natives, as to the necessaries of life, but what their own industry, joined to some rude tools, to give the plainest forms to timbers, afforded them.

The war which Louis IV, had at that time to maintain, and the pressing necessities of the state, continually engrossed the attention of the ministry, nor allowed them time to think of Louisiana. What was then thought most advisable, was to make a grant of it to some rich person; who, finding it his interest to improve that country, would, at the same time that he promoted his own interest, promote that of the state. Louisiana was thus ceded to M. Crozat. And it is to be presumed, had M. d’Hiberville lived longer, the colony would have made considerable progress: but that illustrious sea-officer, whose authority was considerable, dying at the Havannah, in 1701 (after which this settlement was deserted) a long time must intervene before a new Governor could arrive from France. The person pitched upon to fill that post, was M. de la Motte Cadillac, who arrived in that country in June 1713.

The colony had but a scanty measure of commodities, and money scarcer yet: it was rather in a state of languor, than of vigorous activity, in one of the finest countries in the world; because impossible for it to do the laborious works, and make the first advances, always requisite in the best lands.

The Spaniards, for a long time, considered Louisiana as a property justly theirs, because it constitutes the greatest Part of Florida, which they first discovered. The pains the French were at then to settle there, roused their jealousy, to form the design of cramping us, by settling at the Assinais, a nation not very distant from the Nactchitoches, whither some Frenchmen had penetrated. There the Spaniards met with no small difficulty to form that settlement, and being at a loss how to accomplish it, one F. Ydalgo, a Franciscan Friar, took it in his head to write to the French, to beg their assistance in {6} settling a mission among the Assinais. He sent three different copies of his letter hap-hazard three different ways to our settlements, hoping one of them at least might fall into the hands of the French.

Nor was he disappointed in his hope, one of them, from one post to another, and from hand to hand, falling into the hands of M. de la Motte. That General, incessantly taken up with the concerns of the colony, and the means of relieving it, was not apprized of the designs of the Spaniards in that letter; could only see therein a sure and short method to remedy the present evils, by favouring the Spaniards, and making a treaty of commerce with them, which might procure to the colony what it was in want of, and what the Spaniards abounded with, namely, horses, cattle, and money: He therefore communicated that letter to M. de St. Denis, to whom he proposed to undertake a journey by land to Mexico.

M. de St. Denis, for the fourteen years he was in Louisiana, had made several excursions up and down the country; and having a general knowledge of all the languages of the different nations which inhabit it, gained the love and esteem of these people, so far as to be acknowledged their Grand Chief.

This gentleman, in other respects a man of courage, prudence, and resolution, was then the fittest person M. de la Motte could have pitched upon, to put his design in execution.

How fatiguing soever the enterprize was, M. de St. Denis undertook it with pleasure, and set out with twenty-five men. This small company would have made some figure, had it continued entire; but some of them dropped M. de St. Denis by the way, and many of them remained among the Nactchitoches, to whose country he was come. He was therefore obliged to set out from that place, accompanied only by ten men, with whom he traversed upwards of an hundred and fifty leagues in a country entirely depopulated, having on his route met with no nation, till he came to the Presidio, or fortress of St. John Baptist, on the Rio (river) del Norte, in New Mexico.

The Governor of this fort was Don Diego Raimond, an officer advanced in years, who favourbly received M. de St. {7} Denis, on acquainting him, that the motive to his journey was F. Ydalgo’s letter, and that he had orders to repair to Mexico. But as the Spaniards do not readily allow strangers to travel through the countries of their dominion in America, for fear the view of these fine countries should inspire notions, the consequences of which might be greatly prejudicial to them, D. Diego did not chuse to permit M. de St. Denis to continue his route, without the previous consent of the Viceroy. It was therefore necessary to dispatch a courier to Mexico, and to wait his return.

The courier, impatiently longed for, arrived at length, with the permission granted by the Duke of Linarez, Viceroy of Mexico. Upon which M. de St. Denis set out directly, and arrived at Mexico, June 5, 1715. The Viceroy had naturally an affection to France; M. de St. Denis was therefore favourably received, saving some precautions, which the Duke thought proper to take, not to give any disgust to some officers of justice who were about him.

The affair was soon dispatched; the Duke of Linarez having promised to make a treaty of commerce, as soon as the Spaniards should be settled at the Assinais; which M. de St. Denis undertook to do, upon his return to Louisiana.


_The Return of M. de St. Denis: His settling the_ Spaniards _at the_ Assinais. _His Second Journey to_ Mexico, _and Return from thence_.

M. De St. Denis soon returned to the fort of St. John Baptist; after which he resolved to form the caravan, which was to be settled at the Assinais; at whose head M. de St. Denis put himself, and happily conducted it to the place appointed. And then having, in quality of Grand Chief, assembled the nation of the Assinais, he exhorted them to receive and use the Spaniards well. The veneration which that people had for him, made them submit to his will in all things; and thus the promise he had made to the Duke of Linarez was faithfully fulfilled.

{8} The Assinais are fifty leagues distant from the Nactchitoches. The Spaniards, finding themselves still at too great a distance from us, availed themselves of that first settlement, in order to form a second among the Adaies, a nation which is ten leagues from our post of the Nactchitoches: whereby they confine us on the west within the neighbourhood of the river St. Louis; and from that time it was not their fault, that they had not cramped us to the north, as I shall mention in its place.

To this anecdote of their history I shall, in a word or two, add that of their settlement at Pensacola, on the coast of Florida, three months after M. d’Hiberville had carried the first inhabitants to Louisiana, that country having continued to be inhabited by Europeans, ever since the garrison left there by Dominique de Gourges; which either perished, or deserted, for want of being supported.[Footnote: They returned to France. See p. 3.]

To return to M. de la Motte and M. de St. Denis: the former, ever attentive to the project of having a treaty of commerce concluded with the Spaniards, and pleased with the success of M. de St. Denis’s journey to Mexico, proposed his return thither again, not doubting but the Duke of Linarez would be as good as his word, as the French had already been. M. de St. Denis, ever ready to obey, accepted the commission of his General. But this second journey was not to be undertaken as the first; it was proper to carry some goods, in order to execute that treaty, as soon as it should be concluded, and to indemnify himself for the expences he was to be at. Though the store-houses of M. Crozat were full, it was no easy matter to get the goods. The factors refused to give any on credit; nay, refused M. de la Motte’s security; and there was no money to be had to pay them. The Governor was therefore obliged to form a company of the most responsible men of the colony: and to this company only the factors determined to advance the goods. This expedient was far from being agreeable to M. de St. Denis, who opened his mind to M. de la Motte on that head, and told him, that some or all of his partners would accompany the goods they had engaged to be security for; and that, although it was absolutely necessary the effects should appear to be his {9} property alone, they would not fail to discover they themselves were the proprietors; which would be sufficient to cause their confiscation, the commerce between the two nations not being open. M. de la Motte saw the solidity of these reasons; but the impossibility of acting otherwise constrained him to supersede them: and, as M. de St. Denis had foreseen, it accordingly happened.

He set out from Mobile, August 13, 1716, escorted, as he all along apprehended, by some of those concerned; and being come to the Assinais, he there passed the winter. On the 19th of March, the year following, setting out on his journey, he soon arrived at the Presidio of St. John Baptist. M. de St. Denis declared these goods to be his own property, in order to obviate their confiscation, which was otherwise unavoidable; and wanted to shew some acts of bounty and generosity, in order to gain the friendship of the Spaniards. But the untractableness, the avarice, and indiscretion of the parties concerned, broke through all his measures; and to prevent the entire disconcerting of them, he hastened his departure for Mexico, where he arrived May 14, 1717. The Duke of Linarez was yet there, but sick, and on his death-bed. M. de St. Denis had, however, time to see him, who knew him again: and that Nobleman took care to have him recommended to the Viceroy his successor; namely, the Marquis of Balero, a man as much against the French as the Duke was for them.

M. de St. Denis did not long solicit the Marquis of Balero for concluding the treaty of commerce; he soon had other business to mind. F. Olivarez, who, on the representation of P. Ydalgo, as a person of a jealous, turbulent, and dangerous disposition, had been excluded from the mission to the Assinais, being then at the court of the Viceroy, saw with an evil eye the Person who had settled F. Ydalgo in that mission, and resolved to be avenged on him for the vexation caused by that disappointment. He joined himself to an officer, named Don Martin de Alaron, a person peculiarly protected by the Marquis of Balero: and they succeeded so well with that nobleman that in the time M. de St. Denis least expected, he found himself arrested, and clapt in a dungeon; from which he was not discharged {10} till December 20 of this year, by an order of the Sovereign Council of Mexico, to which he found means to present several petitions. The Viceroy, constrained to enlarge him, allotted the town for his place of confinement.

The business of the treaty of commerce being now at an end, M. de St. Denis’s attention was only engaged how to make the most of the goods, of which Don Diego Raymond had sent as large a quantity as he could, to the town of Mexico; where they were seized by D. Martin de Alaron, as contraband; he being one of the emissaries of his protector, appointed to persecute such strangers as did not dearly purchase the permission to sell their goods. M. de St. Denis could make only enough of his pillaged and damaged effects just to defray certain expences of suit, which, in a country that abounds with nothing else but gold and silver, are enormous.

Our prisoner having nothing further to engross his attention in Mexico, but the safety of his person, seriously bethought himself how to secure it; as he had ever just grounds to apprehend some bad treatment at the bands of his three avowed enemies. Having therefore planned the means of his flight, on September 25, 1718, as the night came on, he quitted Mexico, and placing himself in ambush at a certain distance from the town, waited till his good fortune should afford the means of travelling otherwise than on foot. About nine at night, a horseman, well-mounted, cast up. To rush of a sudden upon him, dismount him, mount his horse, turn the bridle, and set up a gallop, was the work of a moment only for St. Denis. He rode on at a good pace till day, then quitted the common road, to repose him: a precaution he observed all along, till he came near to the Presidio of St. John Baptist. From thence he continued his journey on foot; and at length, on April 2, 1719, arrived at the French colony, where he found considerable alterations.

From the departure of M. de St. Denis from Mexico, to his return again, almost three years had elapsed. In that long time, the grant of Louisiana was transferred from M. Crozat to the West India Company; M. de la Motte Cadillac was dead, and M. de Biainville, brother to M. d’Hiberville, succeeded as {11} governor general. The capital place of the colony was no longer at Mobile, nor even at Old Biloxi, whither it had been removed: New Orleans, now begun to be built, was become the capital of the country, whither he repaired to give M. de Biainville an account of his journey; after which he retired to his settlement. The king afterwards conferred upon him the cross of St. Louis, in acknowledgement and recompence of his services.

The West India Company, building great hopes of commerce on Louisiana, made efforts to people that country, sufficient to accomplish their end. Thither, for the first time, they sent, in 1718, a colony of eight hundred: men some of which settled at New Orleans, others formed the settlements of the Natchez. It was with this embarkation I passed over to Louisiana.


_Embarkation of eight hundred Men by the_ West India Company _to_ Louisiana. _Arrival and Stay at _Cape Francois. _Arrival at_ Isle Dauphine. _Description of that Island_.

The embarkation was made at Rochelle on three different vessels, on one of which I embarked. For the first days of our voyage we had the wind contrary, but no high sea. On the eighth the wind turned more favourable. I observed nothing interesting till we came to the Tropick of Cancer, where the ceremony of baptizing was performed on those who had never been a voyage: after passing the Tropick, the Commodore steered too much to the south, our captain observed. In effect, after several days sailing, we were obliged to bear off to the north: we afterwards discovered the isle of St. Juan de Porto Rico, which belongs to the Spaniards. Losing sight of that, we discovered the island of St. Domingo; and a little after, as we bore on, we saw the Grange, which is a rock, overtopping the steep coast, which is almost perpendicular to the edge of the water. This rock, seen at a distance, seems to have the figure of a grange, or barn. A few hours after we {12} arrived at Cape Francois, distant from that rock only twelve leagues.

We were two months in this passage to Cape Francois; both on account of the contrary winds, we had on setting out, and of the calms, which are frequent in those seas: our vessel, besides, being clumsy and heavy, had some difficulty to keep up with the others; which, not to leave us behind, carried only their four greater sails, while we had out between seventeen and eighteen.

It is in those seas we meet with the Tradewinds; which though weak, a great deal of way might be made, did they blow constantly, because their course is from east to west without varying: storms are never observed in these seas, but the calms often prove a great hindrance; and then it is necessary to wait some days, till a _grain_, or squall, brings back the wind: a _grain_ is a small spot seen in the air, which spreads very fast, and forms a cloud, that gives a wind, which is brisk at first, but not lasting, though enough to make way with. Nothing besides remarkable is here seen, but the chace of the _flying-fish_ by the Bonitas.

The Bonita is a fish, which is sometimes two feet long; extremely fond of the _flying-fish_; which is the reason it always keeps to the places where these fish are found: its flesh is extremely delicate and of a good flavour.

The _flying-fish_ is of the length of a herring, but rounder. From its sides, instead of fins, issue out two wings, each about four inches in length, by two in breadth at the extremity; they fold together and open out like a fan, and are round at the end; consisting of a very fine membrane, pierced with a vast many little holes, which keep the water, when the fish is out of it: in order to avoid the pursuit of the Bonita, it darts into the air, spreads out its wings, goes straight on, without being able to turn to the right or left; which is the reason, that as soon as the toilets, or little sheets of water, which fill up the small holes of its wings, are dried up, it falls down again; and the same Bonita, which pursued it in the water, still following it with his eye in the air, catches it when fallen into the water; it sometimes falls on board ships. The Bonita, in his turn, {13} becomes the prey of the seamen, by means of little puppets, in the form of _flying-fish_, which it swallows, and by that means is taken.

We stayed fifteen days at Cape Francois, to take in wood and water, and to refresh. It is situate on the north part of the island of St. Domingo, which part the French are in possession of, as the Spaniards are of the other. The fruits and sweet-meats of the country are excellent, but the meat good for nothing, hard, dry, and tough. This country being scorched, grass is very scarce, and animals therein languish and droop. Six weeks before our arrival, fifteen hundred persons died of an epidemic distemper, called the Siam distemper.

We sailed from Cape Francois, with the same wind, and the finest weather imaginable. We then passed between the islands of Tortuga and St. Domingo, where we espied Port de Paix, which is over-against Tortuga: we afterwards found ourselves between the extremities of St. Domingo and Cuba which belongs to the Spaniards: we then steered along the south coast of this last, leaving to the left Jamaica, and the great and little Kayemans, which are subject to the English. We at length quitted Cuba at Cape Anthony, steering for Louisiana a north west course. We espied land in coming towards it, but so flat, though distant but a league from us, that we had great difficulty to distinguish it, though we had then but four fathom water. We put out the boat to examine the land, which we found to be Candlemas island (la Chandeleur.) We directly set sail for the island of Massacre, since called Isle Dauphine, situated three leagues to the south of that continent, which forms the Gulf of Mexico to the north, at about 27 deg. 35′ North latitude, and 288 deg. of longitude. A little after we discovered the Isle Dauphine, and cast anchor before the harbour, in the road, because the harbour itself was choaked up. To make this passage we took three months, and arrived only August 25th. We had a prosperous voyage all along, and the more so, as no one died, or was even dangerously ill the whole time, for which we caused _Te Deum_ solemnly to be sung.

We were then put on shore with all our effects. The company had undertaken to transport us with our servants and {14} effects, at their expence, and to lodge, maintain and convey us to our several concessions, or grants.

This gulf abounds with delicious fish; as the _sarde_ (pilchard) red fish, cod, sturgeon, ringed thornback, and many other sorts, the best in their kind. The _sarde_ is a large fish; its flesh is delicate, and of a fine flavour, the scales grey, and of a moderate size. The red fish is so called, from its red scales, of the size of a crown piece. The cod, fished for on this coast, is of the middling sort, and very delicate. The thornback is the same as in France. Before we quit this island, it will not, perhaps, be improper to mention some things about it.

The Isle Massacre was so called by the first Frenchman who landed there, because on the shore of this island they found a small rising ground, or eminence, which appeared the more extraordinary in an island altogether flat, and seemingly formed only by the sand, thrown in by some high gusts of wind. As the whole coast of the gulf is very flat, and along the continent lies a chain of such islands, which seem to be mutually joined by their points, and to form a line parallel with the continent, this small eminence appeared to them extraordinary: it was more narrowly examined, and in different parts thereof they found dead mens bones, just appearing above the little earth that covered them. Then their curiosity led them to rake off the earth in several places; but finding nothing underneath, but a heap of bones, they cried out with horror, _Ah! what a Massacre!_ They afterwards understood by the natives, who are at no great distance off, that a nation adjoining to that island, being at war with another much more powerful, was constrained to quit the continent, which is only three leagues off, and to remove to this island, there to live in peace the rest of their days; but that their enemies, justly confiding in their superiority, pursued them to this their feeble retreat, and entirely destroyed them; and after raising this inhuman trophy of their victorious barbarity, retired again. I myself saw this fatal monument, which made me imagine this unhappy nation must have been even numerous toward its period, as only the bones of their warriors, and aged men must have lain there, their custom being to make slaves of their {15} young people. Such is the origin of the first name of this island, which, on our arrival, was changed to that of Isle Dauphine: an act of prudence, it should-seem, to discontinue an appellation, so odious, of a place that was the cradle of the colony; as Mobile was its birth-place.

This island is very flat, and all a white sand, as are all the others, and the coast in like manner. Its length is about seven leagues from east to west; its breadth a short league from south to north, especially to the east, where the settlement was made, on account of the harbour which was at the south end of the island, and choaked up by a high sea, a little before our arrival: this east end runs to a point. It is tolerably well stored with pine; but so dry and parched, on account of its crystal sand, as that no greens or pulse can grow therein, and beasts are pinched and hard put to it for sustenance.

In the mean time, M. de Biainville, commandant general for the company in this colony, was gone to mark out the spot on which the capital was to be built, namely, one of the banks of the river Missisippi, where at present stands the city of New Orleans, so called in honour of the duke of Orleans, then regent.


_The Author’s Departure for his Grant. Description of the Places he passed through, as far as_ New Orleans.

The time of my departure, so much wished for, came at length. I set out with my hired servants, all my effects, and a letter for M. Paillou, major general at New Orleans, who commanded there in the absence of M. de Biainville. We coasted along the continent, and came to lie in the mouth of the river of the Pasca-Ogoulas; so called, because near its mouth, and to the east of a bay of the same name, dwells a nation, called Pasca-Ogoulas, which denotes the Nation of Bread. Here it may be remarked, that in the province of Louisiana, the appellation of several people terminates in the word Ogoula, which signifies _nation_; and that most of the rivers derive their names from the nations which dwell on {16} their banks. We then passed in view of Biloxi, where formerly was a petty nation of that name; then in view of the bay of St. Louis, leaving to the left successively Isle Dauphine, Isle a Corne, (Horne-island,) Isle aux Vaisseaux, (Ship-island,) and Isle aux Chats, (Cat-island).

I have already described Isle Dauphine, let us now proceed to the three following. Horn-island is very flat and tolerably wooded, about six leagues in length, narrowed to a point to the west side. I know not whether it was for this reason, or on account of the number of horned cattle upon it, that it received this name; but it is certain, that the first Canadians, who settled on Isle Dauphine, had put most of their cattle, in great numbers, there; whereby they came to grow rich even when they slept. These cattle not requiring any attendance, or other care, in this island, came to multiply in such a manner, that the owners made great profits of them on our arrival in the colony.

Proceeding still westward, we meet Ship-island; so called, because there is a small harbour, in which vessels at different times have put in for shelter. But as the island is distant four leagues from the coast, and that this coast is so flat, that boats cannot approach nearer than half a league, this harbour comes to be entirely useless. This island may be about five leagues in length, and a large league in breadth at the west point. Near that point to the north is the harbour, facing the continent; towards the east end it may be half a league in breadth: it is sufficiently wooded, and inhabited only by rats, which swarm there.

At two leagues distance, going still westward, we meet Cat-island; so called, because at the time it was discovered, great numbers of cats were found upon it. This island is very small, not above half a league in diameter. The forests are over-run with underwood: a circumstance which, doubtless, determined M. de Biainville to put in some hogs to breed; which multiplied to such numbers, that, in 1722, going to hunt them, no other creatures were to be seen; and it was judged, that in time they must have devoured each other. It was found they had destroyed the cats.

{17} All these islands are very flat, and have the same bottom of white sand; the woods, especially of the three first, consist of pine; they are almost all at the same distance from the continent, the coast of which is equally sandy.

After passing the bay of St. Louis, of which I have spoken, we enter the two channels which lead to Lake Pontchartrain, called at present the Lake St. Louis: of these channels, one is named the Great, the