France and England in North America, a Series of Historical Narratives, Part Third
by Francis Parkman
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After touching at several other towns of this people, the voyagers resumed their course, guided by two of the Arkansas; passed the sites, since become historic, of Vicksburg and Grand Gulf; and, about three hundred miles below the Arkansas, stopped by the edge of a swamp on the western side of the river. [Footnote: In Tensas County, Louisiana. Tonty's estimates of distance are here much too low. They seem to be founded on observations of latitude, without reckoning the windings of the river. It may interest sportsmen to know that the party killed several large alligators on their way. Membre is much astonished that such monsters should be born of eggs, like chickens.] Here, as their two guides told them, was the path to the great town of the Taensas. Tonty and Membre were sent to visit it. They and their men shouldered their birch canoe through the swamp, and launched it on a lake which had once formed a portion of the channel of the river. In two hours they reached the town, and Tonty gazed at it with astonishment. He had seen nothing like it in America; large square dwellings, built of sun-baked mud mixed with straw, arched over with a dome-shaped roof of canes, and placed in regular order around an open area. Two of them were larger and better than the rest. One was the lodge of the chief; the other was the temple, or house of the Sun. They entered the former, and found a single room, forty feet square, where, in the dim light, for there was no opening but the door, the chief sat awaiting them on a sort of bedstead, three of his wives at his side, while sixty old men, wrapped in white cloaks woven of mulberrybark, formed his divan. When he spoke, his wives howled to do him honor; and the assembled councillors listened with the reverence due to a potentate for whom, at his death, a hundred victims were to be sacrificed. He received the visitors graciously, and joyfully accepted the gifts which Tonty laid before him. [Footnote: Tonty, Memoire, MS. In the spurious narrative published in Tonty's name, the account is embellished and exaggerated. Compare Membre, in Le Clercq, ii. 227. La Salle's statements in the Relation of 1682 (Thomassy, 12) sustain those of Tonty.] This interview over, the Frenchmen repaired to the temple, wherein were kept the bones of the departed chiefs. In construction it was much like the royal dwelling. Over it were rude wooden figures, representing three eagles turned towards the east. A strong mud wall surrounded it, planted with stakes, on which were stuck the skulls of enemies sacrificed to the Sun; while before the door was a block of wood, on which lay a large shell surrounded with the braided hair of the victims. The interior was rude as a barn, dimly lighted from the doorway, and full of smoke. There was a structure in the middle which Membre thinks was a kind of altar; and before it burned a perpetual fire, fed with three logs laid end to end, and watched by two old men devoted to this sacred office. There was a mysterious recess, too, which the strangers were forbidden to explore, but which, as Tonty was told, contained the riches of the nation, consisting of pearls from the Gulf, and trinkets obtained, probably through other tribes, from the Spaniards and other Europeans.

The chief condescended to visit La Salle at his camp; a favor which he would by no means have granted, had the visitors been Indians. A master of ceremonies, and six attendants, preceded him, to clear the path and prepare the place of meeting. When all was ready, he was seen advancing, clothed in a white robe, and preceded by two men bearing white fans; while a third displayed a disk of burnished copper, doubtless to represent the Sun, his ancestor; or, as others will have it, his elder brother. His aspect was marvellously grave, and he and La Salle met with gestures of ceremonious courtesy. The interview was very friendly; and the chief returned well pleased with the gifts which his entertainer bestowed on him, and which, indeed, had been the principal motive of his visit.

On the next morning, as they descended the river, they saw a wooden canoe full of Indians; and Tonty gave chase. He had nearly overtaken it, when more than a hundred men appeared suddenly on the shore, with bows bent to defend their countrymen. La Salle called out to Tonty to withdraw. He obeyed; and the whole party encamped on the opposite bank. Tonty offered to cross the river with a peace-pipe, and set out accordingly with a small party of men. When he landed, the Indians made signs of friendship by joining their hands,—a proceeding by which Tonty, having but one hand, was somewhat embarrassed; but he directed his men to respond in his stead. La Salle and Membre now joined him, and went with the Indians to their village, three leagues distant. Here they spent the night. "The Sieur de la Salle," writes Membre, "whose very air, engaging manners, tact, and address attract love and respect alike, produced such an effect on the hearts of these people, that they did not know how to treat us well enough." [Footnote: Membre, in Le Clercq, ii. 232.]

The Indians of this village were the Natchez; and their chief was brother of the great chief, or Sun, of the whole nation. His town was several leagues distant, near the site of the city of Natchez; and thither the French repaired to visit him. They saw what they had already seen among the Taensas,—a religious and political despotism, a privileged caste descended from the Sun, a temple, and a sacred fire. [Footnote: The Natchez and the Taensas, whose habits and customs were similar, did not, in their social organization, differ radically from other Indians. The same principle of clanship, or totemship, so widely spread, existed in full force among them, combined with their religious ideas, and developed into forms of which no other example, equally distinct, is to be found. (For Indian clanship, see "Jesuits in North America," Introduction.) Among the Natchez and Taensas, the principal clan formed a ruling caste; and its chiefs had the attributes of demi-gods. As descent was through the female, the chief's son never succeeded him, but the son of one of his sisters; and as she, by the usual totemic law, was forced to marry in another clan,—that is, to marry a common mortal,—her husband, though the destined father of a demi-god, was treated by her as little better than a slave. She might kill him, if he proved unfaithful; but he was forced to submit to her infidelities in silence.

The customs of the Natchez have been described by Du Pratz, Le Petit, and others. Charlevoix visited their temple in 1721, and found it in a somewhat shabby condition. At this time, the Taensas were extinct. In 1729, the Natchez, enraged by the arbitrary conduct of a French commandant, massacred the neighboring settlers, and were in consequence expelled from their country and nearly destroyed. A few still survive, incorporated with the Creeks; but they have lost their peculiar customs.] La Salle planted a large cross, with the arms of France attached, in the midst of the town; while the inhabitants looked on with a satisfaction which they would hardly have displayed, had they understood the meaning of the act.

The French next visited the Coroas, at their village, two leagues below; and here they found a reception no less auspicious. On the thirty-first of March, as they approached Red River, they passed in the fog a town of the Oumas; and, three days later, discovered a party of fishermen, in wooden canoes, among the canes along the margin of the water. They fled at sight of the Frenchmen. La Salle sent men to reconnoitre, who, as they struggled through the marsh, were greeted with a shower of arrows; while, from the neighboring village of the Quinipissas, [Footnote: In St. Charles County, on the left bank, not far above New Orleans.] invisible behind the cane- brake, they heard the sound of an Indian drum, and the whoops of the mustering warriors. La Salle, anxious to keep the peace with all the tribes along the river, recalled his men, and pursued his voyage. A few leagues below, they saw a cluster of Indian lodges on the left bank, apparently void of inhabitants. They landed, and found three of them filled with corpses. It was a village of the Tangibao, sacked by their enemies only a few days before. [Footnote: Hennepin uses this incident, as well as most of those which have preceded it, in making up the story of his pretended voyage to the Gulf.]

And now they neared their journey's end. On the sixth of April, the river divided itself into three broad channels. La Salle followed that of the west, and D'Autray that of the east; while Tonty took the middle passage. As he drifted down the turbid current, between the low and marshy shores, the brackish water changed to brine, and the breeze grew fresh with the salt breath of the sea. Then the broad bosom of the great Gulf opened on his sight, tossing its restless billows, limitless, voiceless, lonely, as when born of chaos, without a sail, without a sign of life.

La Salle, in a canoe, coasted the marshy borders of the sea; and then the reunited parties assembled on a spot of dry ground, a short distance above the mouth of the river. Here a column was made ready, bearing the arms of France, and inscribed with the words,—


The Frenchmen were mustered under arms; and, while the New-England Indians and their squaws stood gazing in wondering silence, they chanted the Te Deum, the Exaudiat, and the Domine salvum fac Regem. Then, amid volleys of musketry and shouts of Vive le Roi, La Salle planted the column in its place, and, standing near it, proclaimed in a loud voice,—

"In the name of the most high, mighty, invincible, and victorious Prince, Louis the Great, by the grace of God King of France and of Navarre, Fourteenth of that name, I, this ninth day of April, one thousand six hundred and eighty-two, in virtue of the commission of his Majesty, which I hold in my hand, and which may be seen by all whom it may concern, have taken, and do now take, in the name of his Majesty and of his successors to the crown, possession of this country of Louisiana, the seas, harbors, ports, bays, adjacent straits, and all the nations, peoples, provinces, cities, towns, villages, mines, minerals, fisheries, streams, and rivers, within the extent of the said Louisiana, from the mouth of the great river St. Louis, otherwise called the Ohio, ... as also along the River Colbert, or Mississippi, and the rivers which discharge themselves therein, from its source beyond the country of the Nadouessious ... as far as its mouth at the sea, or Gulf of Mexico, and also to the mouth of the River of Palms, upon the assurance we have had from the natives of these countries, that we are the first Europeans who have descended or ascended the said River Colbert; hereby protesting against all who may hereafter undertake to invade any or all of these aforesaid countries, peoples, or lands, to the prejudice of the rights of his Majesty, acquired by the consent of the nations dwelling herein. Of which, and of all else that is needful, I hereby take to witness those who hear me, and demand an act of the notary here present." [Footnote: In the passages omitted above, for the sake of brevity, the Ohio is mentioned as being called also the Olighin (Alleghany), Sipou and Chukagoua; and La Salle declares that he takes possession of the country with the consent of the nations dwelling in it, of whom he names the Chaouanons (Shawanoes), Kious, or Nadouessious (Sioux), Chikachas (Chickasaws), Motantees (?), Illinois, Mitchigamias, Arkansas, Natches, and Koroas. This alleged consent is, of course, mere farce. If there could be any doubt as to the meaning of the words of La Salle, as recorded in the Proces Verbal de la Prise de Possession de la Louisiana, it would be set at rest by Le Clercq, who says, "Le Sieur de la Salle prit au nom de sa Majeste possession de ce fleuve, de toutes les rivieres qui y entrent, et de tous les pays qu'elles arrosent." These words are borrowed from the report of La Salle; see Thomassy, 14. A copy of the original of the Proces Verbal is before me. It bears the name of Jacques de la Metairie, Notary of Fort Frontenac, who was one of the party.]

Shouts of Vive le Roi and volleys of musketry responded to his words. Then a cross was planted beside the column, and a leaden plate buried near it, bearing the arms of France, with a Latin inscription, Ludovicus Magnus regnat. The weather-beaten voyagers joined their voices in the grand hymn of the Vexilla Regis:—

"The banners of Heaven's King advance, The mystery of the Cross shines forth;"

and renewed shouts of Vive le Roi closed the ceremony.

On that day, the realm of France received on parchment a stupendous accession. The fertile plains of Texas; the vast basin of the Mississippi, from its frozen northern springs to the sultry borders of the Gulf; from the woody ridges of the Alleghanies to the bare peaks of the Rocky Mountains,—a region of savannahs and forests, sun-cracked deserts, and grassy prairies, watered by a thousand rivers, ranged by a thousand warlike tribes, passed beneath the sceptre of the Sultan of Versailles; and all by virtue of a feeble human voice, inaudible at half a mile.



Louisiana was the name bestowed by La Salle on the new domain of the French crown. The rule of the Bourbons in the West is a memory of the past, but the name of the Great King still survives in a narrow corner of their lost empire. The Louisiana of to-day is but a single State of the American republic. The Louisiana of La Salle stretched from the Alleghanies to the Rocky Mountains; from the Rio Grande and the Gulf to the farthest springs of the Missouri. [Footnote: The boundaries are laid down on the great map of Franquelin, made in 1684, and preserved in the Depot des Cartes of the Marine. The line runs along the south shore of Lake Erie, and thence follows the heads of the streams flowing into Lake Michigan. It then turns north-west, and is lost in the vast unknown of the now British Territories. On the south it is drawn by the heads of the streams flowing into the Gulf, as far west as Mobile, after which it follows the shore of the Gulf to a little south of the Rio Grande, then runs west, north-west, and finally north along the range of the Rocky Mountains.]

La Salle had written his name in history; but his hard-earned success was but the prelude of a harder task. Herculean labors lay before him, if he would realize the schemes with which his brain was pregnant. Bent on accomplishing them, he retraced his course, and urged his canoes upward against the muddy current. The party were famished. They had little to subsist on but the flesh of alligators. When they reached the Quinipissas, who had proved hostile on their way down, they resolved to risk an interview with them, in the hope of obtaining food. The treacherous savages dissembled, brought them corn, and, on the following night, made an attack upon them, but met with a bloody repulse. They next revisited the Natchez, and found an unfavorable change in their disposition towards them. They feasted them, indeed, but, during the repast, surrounded them with an overwhelming force of warriors. The French, however, kept so well on their guard, that their entertainers dared not make an attack, and suffered them to depart unmolested. [Footnote: Tonty, Memoire, MS.]

And now, in a career of unwonted success and anticipated triumph, La Salle was sharply arrested by a foe against which the boldest heart avails nothing. As he ascended the Mississippi, he was seized by a dangerous illness. Unable to proceed, he sent forward Tonty to Michillimackinac, whence, after despatching news of their discovery to Canada, he was to return to the Illinois. La Salle himself lay helpless at Fort Prudhomme, the palisade work which his men had built at the Chickasaw Bluffs on their way down. Father Zenobe Membre attended him; and, at the end of July, he was once more in a condition to advance by slow movements towards the Miami, which he reached in about a month.

His descent of the Mississippi had been successful as an exploration, and this was all. Could he have executed his original plan, have built a vessel on the Illinois and descended in her to the Gulf of Mexico, he would have been able to defray in some measure the costs of the enterprise, by means of a cargo of buffalo hides collected from Indians on the way, with which he would have sailed to the West Indies, or perhaps to France. With a fleet of canoes, this was of course impossible; and there was nothing to offset the enormous outlay which he and his family had made. He proposed, as we have seen, to found, on the banks of the Illinois, a colony of French and Indians, of which he should be the feudal lord, and which should answer the double purpose of a bulwark against the Iroquois and a depot for the furs of all the Western tribes; and he hoped, in the following spring, to secure an outlet for this colony, and for all the trade of the Mississippi and its tributaries, by occupying its mouth with a fort and a dependent colony. [Footnote: "Monsieur de la Salle se dispose de retourner sur ses pas a la mer au printemps prochain avec un plus grand nombre de gens, et des familles, pour y faire des etablissemens." Membre, in Le Clercq, ii. 248. This was written in 1682, immediately after the return from the mouth of the Mississippi.] Thus he would control the valley of the great river of the West.

He rejoined Tonty at Michillimaekinac in September. It was his purpose to go at once to France to provide means for establishing his projected post at the mouth of the Mississippi; and he ordered Tonty, meanwhile, to collect as many men as possible, return to the Illinois, build a fort, and lay the foundations of the colony, the plan of which had been determined the year before. La Salle was about to depart for Quebec, when news reached him that changed his plans, and caused him to postpone his voyage to France. He heard that those pests of the wilderness, the Iroquois, were about to renew their attacks on the western tribes, and especially on their former allies, the Miamis. [Footnote: Lettre de La Barre au Ministre, 14 Nov. 1682, MS.] This would ruin his projected colony. His presence was indispensable. He followed Tonty to the Illinois, and rejoined him near the site of the great town.

The cliff called "Starved Rock," now pointed out to travellers as the chief natural curiosity of the region, rises, steep on three sides as a castle wall, to the height of a hundred and twenty-five feet above the river. In front, it overhangs the water that washes its base; its western brow looks down oil the tops of the forest trees below; and on the east lies a wide gorge or ravine, choked with the mingled foliage of oaks, walnuts, and elms; while in its rocky depths a little brook creeps down to mingle with the river. From the rugged trunk of the stunted cedar that leans forward from the brink, you may drop a plummet into the river below, where the cat-fish and the turtles may plainly be seen gliding over the wrinkled sands of the clear and shallow current. The cliff is accessible only from behind, where a man may climb up, not without difficulty, by a steep and narrow passage. The top is about an acre in extent. Here, in the month of December, La Salle and Tonty began to entrench themselves. They cut away the forest that crowned the rock, built storehouses and dwellings of its remains, dragged timber up the rugged pathway, and encircled the summit with a palisade. [Footnote: "Starved Rock" perfectly answers In every respect to the indications of the contemporary maps and documents concerning "Le Rocher," the site of La Salle's fort of St. Louis. It is laid down on several contemporary maps, besides the great map of La Salle's discoveries, made in 1684. They all place it on the south side of the river; whereas Buffalo Rock, three miles above, which has been supposed to be the site of the fort, is on the north. The rock fortified by La Salle stood, we are told, at the edge of the water; while Buffalo Rock is at some distance from the bank. The latter is crowned by a plateau of great extent, is but sixty feet high, is accessible at many points, and would require a large force to defend it; whereas La Salle chose "Le Rocher," because a few men could hold it against a multitude. Charlevoix, in 1721, describes both rocks, and says that the top of Buffalo Rock had been occupied by the Miami village, so that it was known as Le Fort des Miamis. This explains the Indian remains found here. He then speaks of "Le Rocher," calling it by that name; says that it is about a league below on the left or south side, forming a sheer cliff, very high, and looking like a fortress on the border of the river. He saw remains of palisades at the top which he thinks were made by the Illinois (Journal Historique, Let. xxvii), though his countrymen had occupied it only three years before. "The French reside on the Rock (Le Rocher), which is very lofty and impregnable."—Memoir on Western Indians, 1718, in N.Y. Col. Docs., ix. 890. St. Cosme, passing this way in 1699, mentions it as "Le Vieux Fort," and says that it is "a rock about a hundred feet high at the edge of the river, where M. de la Salle built a fort, since abandoned."— Journal de St. Cosme, MS. Joutel, who was here in 1687, says, "Fort St. Louis is on a steep rock, about two hundred feet high, with the river running at its base." He adds, that its only defences were palisades. The true height, as stated above, is about a hundred and twenty-five feet.

A traditional interest also attaches to this rock. It is said, that in the Indian wars that followed the assassination of Pontiac, a few years after the cession of Canada, a party of Illinois, assailed by the Pottawattamies, here took refuge, defying attack. At length they were all destroyed by starvation, and hence the name of "Starved Rock."

For other proofs concerning this locality, see ante, p. 221.]

Thus the winter was passed, and meanwhile the work of negotiation went prosperously on. The minds of the Indians had been already prepared. In La Salle they saw their champion against the Iroquois, the standing terror of all this region. They gathered around his stronghold like the timorous peasantry of the middle ages around the rock-built castle of their feudal lord. From the wooden ramparts of St. Louis,—for so he named his fort,— high and inaccessible as an eagle's nest, a strange scene lay before his eye. The broad flat valley of the Illinois was spread beneath him like a map, bounded in the distance by its low wall of woody hills. The river wound at his feet in devious channels among islands bordered with lofty trees; then, far on the left, flowed calmly westward through the vast meadows, till its glimmering blue ribbon was lost in hazy distance.

There had been a time, and that not remote, when these fair meadows were a waste of death and desolation, scathed with fire, and strewn with the ghastly relics of an Iroquois victory. Now, all was changed. La Salle looked down from his rock on a concourse of wild human life. Lodges of bark and rushes, or cabins of logs, were clustered on the open plain, or along the edges of the bordering forests. Squaws labored, warriors lounged in the sun, naked children whooped and gambolled on the grass. Beyond the river, a mile and a half on the left, the banks were studded once more with the lodges of the Illinois, who, to the number of six thousand, had returned, since their defeat, to this their favorite dwelling-place. Scattered along the valley, among the adjacent hills, or over the neighboring prairie, were the cantonments of a half-score of other tribes, and fragments of tribes, gathered under the protecting aegis of the French,—Shawanoes from the Ohio, Abenakis from Maine, Miamis from the sources of the Kankakee, with others whose barbarous names are hardly worth the record. [Footnote: This singular extemporized colony of La Salle, on the banks of the Illinois, is laid down in detail on the great map of La Salle's discoveries, by Jean Baptiste Franquelin, finished in 1684. There can be no doubt that this part of the work is composed from authentic data. La Salle himself, besides others of his party, came down from the Illinois in the autumn of 1683, and undoubtedly supplied the young engineer with materials. The various Indian villages, or cantonments, are all indicated, with the number of warriors belonging to each, the aggregate corresponding very nearly with that of La Salle's report to the minister. The Illinois, properly so called, are set down at 1,200 warriors; the Miamis, at 1,800; the Shawanoes, at 200; the Ouiatenons (Weas), at 500; the Peanqhichia (Piankishaw) band, at 150; the Pepikokia, at 160; the Kilatica, at 800; and the Ouabona, at 70; in all, 3,880 warriors. A few others, probably Abenakis, lived in the fort.

The Fort St. Louis is placed on the map at the exact site of Starved Rook, and the Illinois village at the place where, as already mentioned, (see p. 221), Indian remains in great quantities are yearly ploughed up. The Shawanoe camp, or village, is placed on the south side of the river, behind the fort. The country is here hilly, broken, and now, as in La Salle's time, covered with wood, which, however, soon ends in the open prairie. A short time since, the remains of a low, irregular earthwork of considerable extent were discovered at the intersection of two ravines, about twenty-four hundred feet behind, or south of, Starved Rock. The earthwork follows the line of the ravines on two sides. On the east, there is an opening, or gateway, leading to the adjacent prairie. The work is very irregular in form, and shows no trace of the civilized engineer. In the stump of an oak-tree upon it, Dr. Paul counted a hundred and sixty rings of annual growth. The village of the Shawanoes (Chaouenons), on Franquelin's map, corresponds with the position of this earthwork. I am indebted to the kindness of Dr. John Paul, and Colonel D. F. Hitt, the proprietor of Starved Rock, for a plan of these curious remains, and a survey of the neighboring district. I must also express my obligations to Mr. W. E. Bowman, photographer at Ottawa, for views of Starved Rock, and other features of the neighboring scenery.

An interesting relic of the early explorers of this region was found a few years ago at Ottawa, six miles above Starved Rock, in the shape of a small iron gun, buried several feet deep in the drift of the river. It consists of a welded tube of iron, about an inch and a half in calibre, strengthened by a series of thick iron rings, cooled on, after the most ancient as well as the most recent method of making cannon. It is about fourteen inches long, the part near the muzzle having been burst off. The construction is very rude. Small field-pieces, on a similar principle, were used in the fourteenth century. Several of them may be seen at the Musee d'Artillerie at Paris. In the time of Louis XIV. the art of casting cannon was carried to a high degree of perfection. The gun in question may have been made by a French blacksmith on the spot. A far less probable supposition is, that it is a relic of some unrecorded visit of the Spaniards; but the pattern of the piece would have been antiquated even in the time of De Soto.] Nor were these La Salle's only dependants. By the terms of his patent, he held seigniorial rights over this wild domain; and he now began to grant it out in parcels to his followers. These, however, were as yet but a score; a lawless band, trained in forest license, and marrying, as their detractors affirm, a new squaw every day in the week. This was after their lord's departure, for his presence imposed a check on these eccentricities.

La Salle, in a memoir addressed to the Minister of the Marine, reports the total number of the Indians around Fort St. Louis at about four thousand warriors, or twenty thousand souls. His diplomacy had been crowned with a marvellous success, for which his thanks were due, first, to the Iroquois, and the universal terror they inspired; next, to his own address and unwearied energy. His colony had sprung up, as it were, in a night; but might not a night suffice to disperse it?

The conditions of maintaining it were twofold. First, he must give efficient aid to his savage colonists against the Iroquois; secondly, he must supply them with French goods in exchange for their furs. The men, arms, and ammunition for their defence, and the goods for trading with them, must be brought from Canada, until a better and surer avenue of supply could be provided through the entrepot which he meant to establish at the mouth of the Mississippi. Canada was full of his enemies; but, as long as Count Frontenac was in power, he was sure of support. Count Frontenac was in power no longer. He had been recalled to France through the intrigues of the party adverse to La Salle; and Le Fevre de la Barre reigned in his stead. [Footnote: La Barre had formerly held civil offices. He had been Maitre de Requetes, and afterwards Intendant of the Bourbonnais. He had gained no little reputation in the West Indies, as governor and lieutenant-general of Cayenne, which he recovered from the English, who had seized it, and whom he soon after defeated in a naval fight. Sixteen years had elapsed since these exploits, and meanwhile he had grown old.]

La Barre was an old naval officer of rank, advanced to a post for which he proved himself notably unfit. If he was without the arbitrary passions which had been the chief occasion of the recall of his predecessor, he was no less without his energies and his talents. Frontenac's absence was not to be permanent: dark days were in store for Canada. In her hour of need, she was to hail with delight the return of the haughty nobleman; and all his faults were to be forgotten in the splendor of his services to the colony and the crown. La Barre showed a weakness and an avarice for which his advanced age may have been in some measure answerable. He was no whit less unscrupulous than his predecessor in his secret violation of the royal ordinances regulating the fur-trade, which it was his duty to enforce. Like Frontenac, he took advantage of his position to carry on an illicit traffic with the Indians; but it was with different associates. The late governor's friends were the new governor's enemies; and La Salle, armed with his monopolies, was the object of his especial jealousy. [Footnote: The royal instructions to La Barre, on his assuming the government, dated at Versailles, 10 May, 1682, require him to give no farther permission to make journeys of discovery towards the Sioux and the Mississippi, as his Majesty thinks his subjects better employed in cultivating the land. The letter adds, however, that La Salle is to be allowed to continue his discoveries, if they appear to be useful. The same instructions are repeated in a letter of the Minister of the Marine to the new Intendant of Canada, De Meules.]

Meanwhile, La Salle, buried in the western wilderness, remained for the time ignorant of La Barre's disposition towards him, and made an effort to secure his good-will and countenance. He wrote to him from his Rock of St. Louis, early in the spring of 1683, expressing the hope that he should have from him the same support as from Count Frontenac; "although," he says, "my enemies will try to influence you against me." His attachment to Frontenac, he pursues, has been the cause of all the late governor's enemies turning against him. He then recounts his voyage down the Mississippi; says that, with twenty-two Frenchmen, he caused all the tribes along the river to ask for peace; speaks of his right, under the royal patent, to build forts anywhere along his route, and grant out lands around them, as at Fort Frontenac.

"My losses in my enterprises," he continues, "have exceeded forty thousand crowns. I am now going four hundred leagues south-south-west of this place, to induce the Chickasaws to follow the Shawanoes, and other tribes, and settle, like them, at St. Louis. It remained only to settle French colonists here, and this I have already done. I hope you will not detain them as coureurs de bois, when they come down to Montreal to make necessary purchases. I am aware that I have no right to trade with the tribes who descend to Montreal, and I shall not permit such trade to my men; nor have I ever issued licenses to that effect, as my enemies say that I have done." [Footnote: Lettre de la Salle a La Barre, Fort St. Louis, 2 Avril, 1683, MS. The above is somewhat condensed from passages in the original.]

Again, on the fourth of June following, he writes to La Barre, from the Chicago portage, complaining that some of his colonists, going to Montreal for necessary supplies, have been detained by his enemies, and begging that they may be allowed to return, that his enterprise may not be ruined. "The Iroquois," he pursues, "are again invading the country. Last year, the Miamis were so alarmed by them that they abandoned their town and fled; but, at my return, they came back, and have been induced to settle with the Illinois at my fort of St. Louis. The Iroquois have lately murdered some families of their nation, and they are all in terror again. I am afraid they will take night, and so prevent the Missouries and neighboring tribes from coming to settle at St. Louis, as they are about to do.

"Some of the Hurons and French tell the Miamis that I am keeping them here for the Iroquois to destroy. I pray that you will let me hear from you, that I may give these people some assurances of protection before they are destroyed in my sight. Do not suffer my men who have come down to the settlements to be longer prevented from returning. There is great need here of reinforcements. The Iroquois, as I have said, have lately entered the country; and a great terror prevails. I have postponed going to Michillimackinac, because, if the Iroquois strike any blow in my absence, the Miamis will think that I am in league with them; whereas, if I and the French stay among them, they will regard us as protectors. But, Monsieur, it is in vain, that we risk our lives here, and that I exhaust my means in order to fulfil the intentions of his Majesty, if all my measures are crossed in the settlements below, and if those who go down to bring munitions, without which we cannot defend ourselves, are detained under pretexts trumped up for the occasion. If I am prevented from bringing up men and supplies, as I am allowed to do by the permit of Count Frontenac, then my patent from the king is useless. It would be very hard for us, after having done what was required even before the time prescribed, and after suffering severe losses, to have our efforts frustrated by obstacles got up designedly.

"I trust that, as it lies with you alone to prevent or to permit the return of the men whom I have sent down, you will not so act as to thwart my plans. A part of the goods which I have sent by them belong not to me, but to the Sieur de Tonty, and are a part of his pay. Others are to buy munitions indispensable for our defence. Do not let my creditors seize them. It is for their advantage that my fort, full as it is of goods, should be held against the enemy. I have only twenty men, with scarcely a hundred pounds of powder; and I cannot long hold the country without more. The Illinois are very capricious and uncertain.... If I had men enough to send out to reconnoitre the enemy, I would have done so before this; but I have not enough. I trust you will put it in my power to obtain more, that this important colony may be saved." [Footnote: Lettre de la Salle, a La Barre, Portage de Chicagou, 4 Juin, 1683, MS. Portions of the above extracts are condensed in the rendering. A long passage is omitted, in which La Salle expresses his belief that his vessel, the "Griffin," had been destroyed, not by Indians, but by the pilot, who, as he thinks, had been induced to sink her, and then, with some of the crew, attempted to join Du Lhut with their plunder, but were captured by Indians on the Mississippi.]

While La Salle was thus writing to La Barre, La Barre was writing to Seignelay, the Marine and Colonial Minister, decrying his correspondent's discoveries, and pretending to doubt their reality. "The Iroquois," he adds, "have sworn his [La Salle's] death. The imprudence of this man is about to involve the colony in war." [Footnote: Lettre de La Barre au Ministre, 14 Nov. 1682, MS.] And again he writes in the following spring, to say that La Salle was with a score of vagabonds at Green Bay, where he set himself up as a king, pillaged his countrymen, and put them to ransom; exposed the tribes of the West to the incursions of the Iroquois,—and all under pretence of a patent from his Majesty, the provisions of which he grossly abused; but as his privileges would expire on the twelfth of May ensuing, he would then be forced to come to Quebec, where his creditors, to whom he owed more than thirty thousand crowns, were anxiously awaiting him. [Footnote: Lettre de La Barre au Ministre, 30 Avril, 1683. La Salle had spent the winter, not at Green Bay, as this slanderous letter declares, but in the Illinois country.]

Finally, when La Barre received the two letters from La Salle, of which the substance is given above, he sent copies of them to the Minister Seignelay, with the following comment: "By the copies of the Sieur de la Salle's letters, you will perceive that his head is turned, and that he has been bold enough to give you intelligence of a false discovery. He is trying to build up an imaginary kingdom for himself by debauching all the bankrupts and idlers of this country." [Footnote: N.Y. Col Docs., ix. 204. The letter is dated 4 Nov. 1683.] Such calumnies had their effect. The enemies of La Salle had already gained the ear of the king; and he had written in August from Fontainebleau to his new Governor of Canada: "I am convinced, like you, that the discovery of the Sieur de la Salle is very useless, and that such enterprises ought to be prevented in future, as they tend only to debauch the inhabitants by the hope of gain, and to dimmish the revenue from beaver-skins." [Footnote: Lettre du Roy a La Barre, 5 Aoust, 1683, MS.]

In order to understand the posture of affairs at this time, it must be remembered that Dongan, the English Governor of New York, was urging on the Iroquois to attack the Western tribes, with the object of gaining, through their conquest, the control of the fur-trade of the interior, and diverting it from Montreal to Albany. The scheme was full of danger to Canada, which the loss of the trade would have ruined. La Barre and his associates were greatly alarmed at it. Its complete success would have been fatal to their hopes of profit; but they nevertheless wished it such a measure of success as would ruin their rival. La Salle. Hence, no little satisfaction mingled with their anxiety, when they heard that the Iroquois were again threatening to invade the Miamis and the Illinois; and thus La Barre, whose duty it was strenuously to oppose the intrigue of the English, and use every effort to quiet the ferocious bands whom they were hounding against the Indian allies of the French, was, in fact, but half- hearted in the work. He cut off La Salle from all supplies; detained the men whom he sent for succor; and, at a conference with the Iroquois, told them that they were welcome to plunder and kill him. [Footnote: Memoire pour rendre compte a Monseigneur le Marquis de Seignelay de l'Etat ou le Sieur de Lasalle a laisse le Fort Frontenac pendant le temps de sa decouverte, MS. The Marquis de Denonville, La Barre's successor in the government, says, in his memoir of Aug. 10, 1688, that La Barre had told the Iroquois to plunder La Salle's canoes.

La Barre's course at this time was extremely indirect and equivocal. The memoir to Seignelay, cited above, declares—and other documents sustain it—that he was playing into the hands of the English, by sending furs, on his own account and that of his associates, to Albany, where he could sell them at a high rate, and at the same time avoid the payment of duties to the French farmers of the revenue.

The merchants, La Chesnaye, Le Ber, and Le Moyne, were at the head of the faction with which La Barre had identified himself; and their hatred of La Salle knew no bounds. If we are to believe La Potherie, he himself had formerly, in defence of his monopolies, told the Iroquois that they might plunder the canoes of traders who had not a pass from him. The adverse faction now retorted by adding the permission of murder to the permission of pillage. Margry thinks that La Chesnaye was the prompter of this villany.]

The old Governor, and the unscrupulous ring with which he was associated, now took a step, to which he was doubtless emboldened by the tone of the king's letter, in condemnation of La Salle's enterprise. He resolved to seize Fort Frontenac, the property of La Salle, under the pretext that the latter had not fulfilled the conditions of the grant, and had not maintained a sufficient garrison. [Footnote: La Salle, when at Mackinaw, on his way to Quebec, in 1682, had been recalled to the Illinois, as we have seen, by a threatened Iroquois invasion. There is before me a copy of a letter which he then wrote to Count Frontenac, begging him to send up more soldiers to the fort at his (La Salle's) expense. Frontenac, being about to sail for France, gave this letter to his newly arrived successor, La Barre, who, far from complying with the request, withdrew La Salle's soldiers already at the fort, and then made its defenceless state a pretext for seizing it. This statement is made in the memoir addressed to Seignelay, before cited.] Two of his associates, La Chesnaye and Le Ber, armed with an order from him, went up and took possession, despite the remonstrances of La Salle's creditors and mortgagees; lived on La Salle's stores, sold for their own profit, and (it is said) that of La Barre, the provisions sent by the king, and turned in the cattle to pasture on the growing crops. La Forest, La Salle's lieutenant, was told that he might retain the command of the fort, if he would join the associates; but he refused, and sailed in the autumn for France. [Footnote: These are the statements of the memorial, addressed in La Salle's behalf, to the minister Seignelay.]

Meanwhile, La Salle remained at the Illinois in extreme embarrassment, cut off from supplies, robbed of his men who had gone to seek them, and disabled from fulfilling the pledges he had given to the surrounding Indians. Such was his position, when reports came to Fort St. Louis that the Iroquois were at hand. The Indian hamlets were wild with terror, beseeching him for succor which he had no power to give. Happily, the report proved false. No Iroquois appeared; the threatened attack was postponed, and the summer passed away in peace. But La Salle's position, with the Governor his declared enemy, was intolerable and untenable; and there was no resource but in the protection of the court. Early in the autumn, he left Tonty in command of the Rock, bade farewell to his savage retainers, and descended to Quebec, intending to sail for France.

On his way, he met the Chevalier de Baugis, an officer of the king's dragoons, commissioned by La Barre to take possession of Fort St. Louis, and bearing letters from the Governor, ordering La Salle to come to Quebec; a superfluous command, as he was then on his way thither. He smothered his wrath, and wrote to Tonty to receive De Baugis well. The Chevalier and his party proceeded to the Illinois, and took possession of the fort; De Baugis commanding for the Governor, while Tonty remained as representative of La Salle. The two officers spent the winter harmoniously; and, with the return of spring, each found himself in sore need of aid from the other. Towards the end of March, the Iroquois attacked their citadel, and besieged it for six days, but at length withdrew, discomfited, carrying with them a number of Indian prisoners, most of whom escaped from their clutches. [Footnote: Tonty, Menoire, MS.; Lettre de La Barre, au Ministre, 5 Juin, 1684; Ibid., 9 Juillet, 1684, MSS.]

Meanwhile, La Salle had sailed for France, and thither we will follow him.



From the wilds of the Illinois,—crag, forest, and prairie, squalid wigwams, and naked savages,—La Salle crossed the sea; and before him rose the sculptured wonders of Versailles, that world of gorgeous illusion and hollow splendor, where Louis the Magnificent held his court. Amid its pomp of weary ceremonial, its glittering masquerade of vice and folly, its carnival of vanity and pride, stood the man whose home for sixteen years had been the wilderness, his bed the earth, his roof the sky, and his companions a rude nature and ruder men. In all that throng of hereditary nobles, there was none of a prouder spirit than the son of the burgher of Rouen.

He announced what he had achieved in words of energetic simplicity, more impressive than all the tinsel of rhetoric. [Footnote: Witness the following. He speaks of himself in the third person. "To acquit himself of the commission with which he was charged, he has neglected all his private affairs, because they were alien to his enterprise; he has omitted nothing that was needful to its success, notwithstanding dangerous illness, heavy losses, and all the other evils he has suffered, which would have overcome the courage of any one who had not the same zeal and devotion for the accomplishment of this purpose. During five years he has made five journeys, of more, in all, than five thousand leagues, for the most part on foot, with extreme fatigue, through snow and through water, without escort, without provisions, without bread, without wine, without recreation, and without repose. He has traversed more than six hundred leagues of country hitherto unknown, among savage and cannibal nations, against whom he must daily make fight, though accompanied only by thirty- six men, and consoled only by the hope of succeeding in an enterprise which he thought would be agreeable to his Majesty."

See the original, as printed by Margry, Journal General de I'Instruction Publique, xxxi. 699.] He had friends near the court,—Count Frontenac was one of them,—and he gained the ear of the colonial minister. There was a wonderful change in the views of the court towards him. The great Colbert had lately died, bequeathing to his son Seignelay, his successor in the control of the Marine and Colonies, some of his talents, and all of his harshness and violence. Seignelay entered with vigor into the schemes of La Salle, and commended them to the king, his master. The memorial, in which these schemes are set forth, is still preserved, as well as another memorial designed to prepare the way for it; and the following is the substance of them. The preliminary document states that the late Monseigneur Colbert was of opinion that it was important for the service of his Majesty to discover a port in the Gulf of Mexico; that to this end the memorialist, La Salle, made five journeys of upwards of five thousand leagues, in great part on foot; and traversed more than six hundred leagues of unknown country, among savages and cannibals, at the cost of a hundred and fifty thousand crowns. He now proposes to return by way of the Gulf of Mexico to the countries he has discovered, whence great benefits may be expected; first, the cause of God may be advanced by the preaching of the gospel to many Indian tribes; and, secondly, great conquests may be effected for the glory of the king, by the seizure of provinces rich in silver mines, and defended only by a few indolent and effeminate Spaniards. The Sieur de la Salle, pursues the memorial, binds himself to accomplish this enterprise within one year after his arrival on the spot; and he asks for this purpose only one vessel and two hundred men, with their arms, munitions, pay, and maintenance. When Monseigneur shall direct him, he will give the details of what he proposes. The memorial then describes the boundless extent, the fertility and resources of the country watered by the River Colbert, or Mississippi; the necessity of guarding it against foreigners, who will be eager to seize it now that La Salle's discovery has made it known; and the ease with which it may be defended by one or two forts at a proper distance above its mouth, which would form the key to an interior region eight hundred leagues in extent. "Should foreigners anticipate us," he adds, "they will complete the ruin of New France, which they already hem in by their establishments of Virginia, Pennsylvania, New England, and Hudson's Bay." [Footnote: Memoire du Sr. de la Salle, pour rendre compte a Monseigneur de Seignelay de la decouverte qu'il a faite par l'ordre de sa Majeste, MS.]

The second memorial is more explicit. The place, it says, which the Sieur de la Salle proposes to fortify, is on the River Colbert, or Mississippi, sixty leagues above its mouth, where the land is very fertile, the climate very mild, and whence we, the French, may control the continent; since, the river being narrow, we could defend ourselves by means of fire-ships against a hostile fleet, while the position is excellent both for attacking an enemy or retreating in case of need. The neighboring Indians detest the Spaniards, but love the French, having been won over by the kindness of the Sieur de la Salle. We could form of them an army of more than fifteen thousand savages, who, supported by the French and Abenakis, followers of the Sieur de la Salle, could easily subdue the province of New Biscay (the most northern province of Mexico), where there are but four hundred Spaniards, more fit to work the mines than to fight. On the north of New Biscay lie vast forests, extending to the River Seignelay [Footnote: This name, also given to the Illinois, is used to designate Red River on the map of Franquelin, where the forests above mentioned are represented.] (Red River), which is but forty or fifty leagues from the Spanish province. This river affords the means of attacking it to great advantage.

In view of these facts, pursues the memorial, the Sieur de la Salle offers, if the war with Spain continues, to undertake this conquest with two hundred men from France. He will take on his way fifty buccaneers at St. Domingo, and direct the four thousand Indian warriors at Fort St. Louis of the Illinois to descend the river and join him. He will separate his force into three divisions, and attack on the same day the centre and the two extremities of the province. To accomplish this great design, he asks only for a vessel of thirty guns, a few cannon for the forts, and power to raise in France two hundred such men as he shall think fit, to he armed, paid, and maintained at the king's charge, for a term not exceeding a year, after which they will form a self-sustaining colony. And if a treaty of peace should prevent us from carrying our conquest into present execution, we shall place ourselves in a favorable position for effecting it on the outbreak of the next war with Spain. [Footnote: Memoire du Sr. de la Salle sur I'Entreprise qu'il a propose a Monseigneur le Marquis de Seignelay sur une des provinces de Mexique, MS.]

Such, in brief, was the substance of this singular proposition. And, first, it is to be observed that it is based on a geographical blunder, the nature of which is explained by the map of La Salle's discoveries made in this very year. Here, the River Seignelay, or Red River, is represented as running parallel to the northern border of Mexico, and at no great distance from it; the region now called Texas being almost entirely suppressed. According to the map, New Biscay might be reached from this river in a few days; and, after crossing the intervening forests, the coveted mines of Ste. Barbe, or Santa Barbara, would be within striking distance. [Footnote: Both the memorial and the map represent the banks of Red River, as inhabited by Indians, called Terliquiquimechi, and known to the Spaniards as Indios bravos, or Indios de guerra. The Spaniards, it is added, were in great fear of them, as they made frequent inroads into Mexico. La Salle's Mexican geography was in all respects confused and erroneous; nor was Seignelay better informed. Indeed, Spanish jealousy placed correct information beyond their reach.] That La Salle believed in the possibility of invading the Spanish province of New Biscay from the Red River, there can he no doubt; neither can it reasonably be doubted that he hoped at some future day to make the attempt; and yet it is incredible that he proposed his plan of conquest with the serious intention of attempting to execute it at the time and in the manner which he indicates. He was a bold schemer, but neither a madman nor a fool. The project, as set forth in his memorial, bears all the indications of being drawn up with the view of producing a certain effect on the minds of the king and the minister. Ignorant as they were of the nature of the country and the character of its inhabitants, they could see nothing impracticable in the plan of mustering and keeping together an army of fifteen thousand Indians. [Footnote: While the plan, as proposed in the memorial, was clearly impracticable, the subsequent experience of the French in Texas tended to prove that the tribes of that region could be used with advantage in attacking the Spaniards of Mexico, and that an inroad, on a comparatively small scale, might have been successfully made with their help. In 1689, Tonty actually made the attempt, as we shall see, but failed from the desertion of his men. In 1697, the Sieur de Louvigny wrote to the Minister of the Marine, asking to complete La Salle's discoveries, and invade Mexico from Texas.—Lettre de M. de Louvigny, 14 Oct. 1697, MS. In an unpublished memoir of the year 1700, the seizure of the Mexican mines is given as one of the motives of the colonization of Louisiana.]

La Salle's immediate necessity was to obtain from the court the means for establishing a fort and a colony within the mouth of the Mississippi. This was essential to his own commercial plans; nor did he in the least exaggerate the value of such an establishment to the French nation, and the importance of anticipating other powers in the possession of it. But he needed a more glittering lure to attract the eyes of Louis and Seignelay; and thus, it would appear, he held before them, in a definite and tangible form, the project of Spanish conquest which had haunted his imagination from youth, trusting that the speedy conclusion of peace, which actually took place, would absolve him from the immediate execution of the scheme, and give him time, with the means placed at his disposal, to mature his plans and prepare for eventual action. Such a procedure may be charged with indirectness; but it was in accordance with the wily and politic element from which the iron nature of La Salle was not free, but which was often defeated in its aims by other elements of his character.

Even with this madcap enterprise lopped off, La Salle's scheme of Mississippi trade and colonization, perfectly sound in itself, was too vast for an individual; above all, for one crippled and crushed with debt. While he grasped one link of the great chain, another, no less essential, escaped from his hand; while he built up a colony on the Mississippi, it was reasonably certain that evil would befall his distant colony of the Illinois. The glittering project which he now unfolded found favor in the eyes of the king and the minister; for both were in the flush of an unparalleled success, and looked in the future, as in the past, for nothing but triumphs. They granted more than the petitioner asked, as indeed they well might, if they expected the accomplishment of all that he proposed to attempt. La Forest, La Salle's lieutenant, ejected from Fort Frontenac by La Barre, was now at Paris; and he was despatched to Canada, empowered to reoccupy, in La Salle's name, both Fort Frontenac and Fort St. Louis of the Illinois. The king himself wrote to La Barre in a strain that must have sent a cold thrill through the veins of that official. "I hear," he says, "that you have taken possession of Fort Frontenac, the property of the Sieur de la Salle, driven away his men, suffered his land to run to waste, and even told the Iroquois that they might seize him as an enemy of the colony." He adds, that, if this is true, he must make reparation for the wrong, and place all La Salle's property, as well as his men, in the hands of the Sieur de la Forest, "as I am satisfied that Fort Frontenac was not abandoned, as you wrote to me that it had been." [Footnote:Lettre du Roy a la Barre, Versailles, 10 Avril, 1684, MS.] Four days later, he wrote to the Intendant of Canada, De Meules, to the effect that the bearer, La Forest, is to suffer no impediment, and that La Barre is to surrender to him, without reserve, all that belongs to La Salle. [Footnote:Lettre du Roy a De Mettles, Versailles, 14 Avril, 1684. Selgnelay wrote to De Meules to the same effect.] Armed with this letter, La Forest sailed for Canada. [Footnote: On La Forest's mission,—Memoire pour representer a Monseigneur le Marquis de Seignelay la necessite d'envoyer le Sr. de la Forest en diligence a la Nouvelle France, MS.; Lettre du Roy a la Barre, 14 Avril, 1684, MS.; Ibid., 31 Oct. 1684, MS.

There is before me a promissory note of La Salle to La Forest, of 5,200 livres, dated at Rochelle, 17 July, 1684. This seems to be pay due to La Forest, who had served as La Salle's officer for nine years. A memorandum, is attached, signed by La Salle, to the effect, that it is his wish that La Forest reimburse himself, "par preference," out of any property of his, La Salle's, in France or Canada.]

La Salle had asked for two vessels, [Footnote: Le Sieur de la Salle demande, MS. This is the caption of the memorial, in which he states what is required; viz., a war vessel of thirty guns, pay and maintenance of two hundred men for a year at farthest, tools, munitions, cannon for the forts, a small vessel in pieces, the furniture of two chapels, a forge, with a supply of iron, weapons for his followers and allies, medicines, &c.] and four were given to him. Agents were sent to Rochelle and Rochefort to gather recruits. A hundred soldiers were enrolled, besides mechanics and laborers; and thirty volunteers, including gentlemen and burghers of condition, joined the expedition. And, as the plan was one no less of colonization than of war, several families embarked for the new land of promise, as well as a number of girls, lured by the prospect of almost certain matrimony. Nor were missionaries wanting. Among them was La Salle's brother, Cavelier, and two other priests of St. Sulpice. Three Recollets were added: Zenobe Membre, who was then in France; Anastase Douay, and Maxime Le Clercq. Including soldiers, sailors, and colonists of all classes, the number embarked was about two hundred and eighty. The principal vessel was the "Joly," belonging to the royal navy, and carrying thirty-six guns. Another armed vessel of six guns was added, together with a store-ship and a ketch. In an evil hour, the naval command of the expedition was given to Beaujeu, a captain of the royal navy, who was subordinated to La Salle in every thing but the management of the vessels at sea. [Footnote: Letter de Cachet a Mr. de la Salle, Versailles, 12 Avril, 1684, signe, Louis, MS.] He had his full share of the arrogant and scornful spirit which marked the naval service of Louis XIV., joined to the contempt for commerce which belonged to the noblesse of France, but which did not always prevent them from dabbling in it when they could do so with secrecy and profit. He was unspeakably galled that a civilian should be placed over him, and he, too, a burgher recently ennobled. La Salle was far from being the man to soothe his ruffled spirit. Bent on his own designs, asking no counsel, and accepting none; detesting a divided authority, impatient of question, cold, reserved, and impenetrable,—he soon wrought his colleague to the highest pitch of exasperation. While the vessels still lay at Rochelle; while all was bustle and preparation; while stores, arms, and munitions were embarking; while faithless agents were gathering beggars and vagabonds from the streets to serve as soldiers and artisans,—Beaujeu was giving vent to his disgust in long letters to the minister.

He complains that the vessels are provisioned only for six months, and that the voyage to the liver which La Salle claims to have discovered, and again back to France, cannot be made in that time. If La Salle had told him at the first what was to be done, he could have provided accordingly; but now it is too late. "He says," pursues the indignant commander, "that there are fourteen passengers, besides the Sieur Minet, [Footnote: One of the engineers of the expedition.] to sit at my table. I hope that a fund will be provided for them, and that I shall not be required to support them."

"You have ordered me, Monseigneur," he continues, "to give all possible aid to this undertaking, and I shall do so to the best of my power; but permit me to take great credit to myself, for I find it very hard to submit to the orders of the Sieur de la Salle, whom I believe to be a man of merit, but who has no experience of war, except with savages, and who has no rank, while I have been captain of a ship thirteen years, and have served thirty, by sea and land. Besides, Monseigneur, he has told me that, in case of his death, you have directed that the Sieur de Tonty shall succeed him. This, indeed, is very hard; for, though I am not acquainted with that country, I should be very dull, if, being on the spot, I did not know, at the end of a month, as much of it as they do. I beg, Monseigneur, that I may at least share the command with them; and that, as regards war, nothing may be done without my knowledge and concurrence; for, as to their commerce, I neither intend nor desire to know any thing about it." [Footnote:Lettre de Beaujau au Ministre, Rochelle, 30 Mai, 1684, MS.]

In another letter, he says: "He [La Salle] is so suspicious, and so fearful that somebody will penetrate his secrets, that I dare not ask him any thing." And, again, he complains of being placed in subordination to a man "who never commanded anybody but school-boys." [Footnote: "Qui n'a jamais commande qu'a des ecoliers."—Lettre de Beaujeu au Ministre, 21 Juin, 1684, MS. It appears from Hennepin that La Salle was very sensitive to any allusion to a "pedant," or pedagogue.] "I pray," he continues, "that my orders may be distinct and explicit, that I may not be held answerable for what may happen in consequence of the Sieur de la Salle's exercising command."

He soon fell into a dispute with him with respect to the division of command on board the "Joly," Beaujeu demanding, and it may be thought with good reason, that, when at sea, his authority should include all on board; while La Salle insisted that only the sailors, and not the soldiers, should be under his orders. "Though this is a very important matter," writes Beaujeu, "we have not quarrelled, but have referred it to the Intendant." [Footnote: Lettre de Beaujeu au Ministre, 25 Juin, 1684, MS. Arnoult, the Intendant at Rochelle, had received the king's orders to aid the enterprise. In a letter to La Salle, dated 14 April, and enclosing his commission, the king tells him that Beaujeu is to command the working of the ship, la manoeuvre, subject to his direction. Louis XIV. seems to have taken no little interest in the enterprise. He tells La Barre in one of his letters that La Salle is a man whom he has taken under his special protection.]

While these ill-omened bickerings went on, the various members of the expedition were mustering at Rochelle. Joutel, a fellow-townsman of La Salle, returning to his native Rouen, after sixteen years of service in the army, found all astir with the new project. His father had been gardener to La Salle's uncle, Henri Cavelier; [Footnote: At the modest wages of fifty francs a year and his maintenance.—Family papers found by Margry.] and, being of an adventurous spirit, he was induced to volunteer for the enterprise, of which he was to become the historian. With La Salle's brother, the priest, and two of his nephews, of whom one was a boy of fourteen, besides several others of his acquaintance, Joutel set out for Rochelle, where all were to embark together for their promised land. [Footnote: Joutel, Journal Historique, 12.]



The four ships sailed on the twenty-fourth of July; but the "Joly" soon broke her bowsprit, and they were forced to put back. [Footnote: La Salle believed that this mishap, which took place in good weather, was intentional.—Memoire autographe de l'Abbe Jean Cavelier sur la Voyage de 1684, MS. Compare Joutel, 15.] On the first of August, they again set sail. La Salle, with the principal persons of the expedition, and a crowd of soldiers, artisans, and women, the destined mothers of Louisiana, were all on board the "Joly." Beaujeu wished to touch at Madeira: La Salle, for excellent reasons, refused; and hence there was great indignation among passengers and crew. The surgeon of the ship spoke with insolence to La Salle, who rebuked him, whereupon Beaujeu took up the word in behalf of the offender, saying that the surgeon was, like himself, an officer of the king. [Footnote: "Le capitaine du batiment, qui avait en deux autres occasions assez fait connoitre qu'il etoit mecontent de ce que son autorite etoit partagee, prit la parole, disant au dit Sr. de la Salle que le chirurgien etoit officier du roi comme lui."—Memoire autographe de l'Abbe Jean Cavelier, MS.] When they crossed the tropic, the sailors made ready a tub on deck to baptize the passengers, after the villanous practice of the time; but La Salle refused to permit it, to the disappointment and wrath of all the crew, who had expected to extort a bountiful ransom, in money and liquor, from their victims. There was an incessant chafing between the two commanders; and when at length, after a long and wretched voyage, they reached St. Domingo, Beaujeu showed clearly that he was, to say the least, utterly indifferent to the interests of the expedition. La Salle wished to stop at Port de Paix, where he was to meet the Marquis de St. Laurent, Lieutenant-General of the Islands; Begon, the Intendant; and De Cussy, Governor of the Island of La Tortue,—who had orders from the king to supply him with provisions, and give him all possible assistance. Beaujeu had consented to stop here; [Footnote: "C'est la (au Port de Paix) ou Mr. de Beaujeu etait convenu de s'arreter."— Memoire autographe de l'Abbe Jean Cavelier, Joutel says that this was resolved on at a council held on board the "Joly," and that a Proces Verbal to that effect was drawn up.—Journal Historique, 22.] but he nevertheless ran by the place in the night, and, to the extreme vexation of La Salle, cast anchor on the twenty-seventh of September, at Petit Goave, on the other side of the island.

The "Joly" was alone; the other vessels had lagged behind. She had more than fifty sick men on board, and La Salle was of the number. He despatched a messenger to St. Laurent, Begon, and Cussy, begging them to join him, commissioned Joutel to get the sick ashore, suffocating as they were in the hot and crowded ship, and caused the soldiers to be landed on a small island in the harbor. Scarcely had the voyagers sung Te Deum for their safe arrival, when two of the lagging vessels appeared, bringing the disastrous tidings that the third, the ketch "St. Francois," had been taken by the Spaniards. She was laden with munitions, tools, and other necessaries for the colony; and the loss was irreparable. Beaujeu was answerable for it; for, had he followed his instructions, and anchored at Port de Paix, it would not have occurred. The Lieutenant-General, with Begon and Cussy, who had arrived, on La Salle's request, plainly spoke their minds to him. [Footnote: Joutel, Journal Historique, 28.]

Meanwhile, La Salle's illness rose to a violent fever. He lay delirious in a wretched garret in the town, attended by his brother, and one or two others who stood faithful to him. A goldsmith of the neighborhood, moved at his deplorable condition, offered the use of his house; and the Abbe Cavelier had him removed thither. But there was a tavern hard by, and the patient was tormented with daily and nightly riot. At the height of the fever, a party of Beaujeu's sailors spent a night in singing and dancing before the house; and, says Cavelier, "The more we begged them to be quiet, the more noise they made." La Salle lost reason and well-nigh life; but at length his mind resumed its balance, and the violence of the disease abated. A friendly Capucin friar offered him the shelter of his roof; and two of his men supported him thither on foot, giddy with exhaustion and hot with fever. Here he found repose, and was slowly recovering, when some of his attendants rashly told him of the loss of the ketch "St. Francois;" and the consequence was a critical return of the disease. [Footnote: The above particulars are from the unpublished memoir of La Salle's brother, the Abbe Cavelier, already cited.]

There was no one to fill his place; Beaujeu would not; Cavelier could not. Joutel, the gardener's son, was apparently the most trusty man of the company; but the expedition was virtually without a head. The men roamed on shore, and plunged into every excess of debauchery, contracting diseases which eventually killed them.

Beaujeu, in the extremity of ill humor, resumed his correspondence with Seignelay. "But for the illness of the Sieur de la Salle," he writes, "I could not venture to report to you the progress of our voyage, as I am charged only with the navigation, and he with the secrets; but as his malady has deprived him of the use of his faculties, both of body and mind, I have thought myself obliged to acquaint you with what is passing, and of the condition in which we are."

He then declares that the ships freighted by La Salle were so slow, that the "Joly" had continually been forced to wait for them, thus doubling the length of the voyage; that he had not had water enough for the passengers, as La Salle had not told him that there were to be any such till the day they came on hoard; that great numbers were sick, and that he had told La Salle there would be trouble, if he filled all the space between decks with his goods, and forced the soldiers and sailors to sleep on deck; that he had told him he would get no provisions at St. Domingo, but that he insisted on stopping; that it had always been so; that, whatever he proposed, La Salle would refuse, alleging orders from the king; "and now," pursues the ruffled commander, "everybody is ill; and he himself has a violent fever, as dangerous, the surgeon tells me, to the mind as to the body."

The rest of the letter is in the same strain. He says that a day or two after La Salle's illness began, his brother Cavelier came to ask him to take charge of his affairs; but that he did not wish to meddle with them, especially as nobody knows any thing about them, and as La Salle has sold some of the ammunition and provisions; that Cavelier tells him that he thinks his brother keeps no accounts, wishing to hide his affairs from everybody; that he learns from buccaneers that the entrance of the Mississippi is very shallow and difficult, and that this is the worst season for navigating the Gulf; that the Spaniards have in these seas six vessels of from thirty to sixty guns each, besides row-galleys; but that he is not afraid, and will perish, or bring back an account of the Mississippi. "Nevertheless," he adds, "if the Sieur de la Salle dies, I shall pursue a course different from that which he has marked out; for his plans are not good."

"If," he continues, "you permit me to speak my mind, M. de la Salle ought to have been satisfied with discovering his river, without undertaking to conduct three vessels with troops two thousand leagues through so many different climates, and across seas entirely unknown to him. I grant that he is a man of knowledge; that he has reading, and even some tincture of navigation; but there is so much difference between theory and practice, that a man who has only the former will always be at fault. There is also a great difference between conducting canoes on lakes and along a river, and navigating ships with troops on distant oceans." [Footnote: "Si vous me permettez de dire mon sentiment, M. de la Salle devait se contenter d'avoir decouvert sa riviere, sans se charger de conduire trois vaisseaux et des troupes a deux mille lieues au travers de tant de climats differents et par des mers qui lui etaient tout a fait inconnues. Je demeure d'accord qu'il est savant, qu'il a de la lecture, et meme quelque teinture de la navigation. Mais il y a tant de difference entre la theorie et la pratique, qu'un homme qui n'aura que celle-la s'y trompera toujours. Il y a aussi bien de la difference entre conduire des canots sur des lacs et le long d'une riviere et mener des vaisseaux et des troupes dans des mers si eloignees."—Lettre de Beaujeu au Ministre, 20 Oct. 1684, MS.]

It was near the end of November before La Salle could resume the voyage. Beaujeu had been heard to say, that he would wait no longer for the storeship "Amiable," and that she might follow as she could. [Footnote: Memoire autographe de l'Abbe Jean Cavelier, MS.] La Salle feared that he would abandon her; and he therefore embarked in her himself, with his friend Joutel, his brother Cavelier, Membre, Douay, and others, the trustiest of his followers. On the twenty-fifth, they set sail; the "Joly" and the little frigate "Belle" following. They coasted the shore of Cuba, and landed at the Isle of Pines, where La Salle shot an alligator, which the soldiers ate; and the hunters brought in a wild pig, half of which he sent to Beaujeu. Then they advanced to Cape St. Antoine, where bad weather and contrary winds long detained them. A load of cares oppressed the mind of La Salle, pale and haggard with recent illness, wrapped within his own thoughts, seeking sympathy from none. The feud of the two commanders still rankled beneath the veil of formal courtesy with which men of the world hide their dislikes and enmities.

At length, they entered the Gulf of Mexico, that forbidden sea, whence by a Spanish decree, dating from the reign of Philip II., all foreigners were excluded on pain of extermination. [Footnote: Letter of Don Luis de Onis to the Secretary of State, American State Papers, xii. 27, 31.] Not a man on board knew the secrets of its perilous navigation. Cautiously feeling their way, they held a northerly course, till, on the twenty-eighth of December, a sailor at the mast-head of the "Aimable" saw land. La Salle and all the pilots had been led to form an exaggerated idea of the force of the easterly currents; and they therefore supposed themselves near the Bay of Appalache, when, in fact, they were much farther westward. At their right lay a low and sandy shore, washed by breakers, which made the landing dangerous. La Salle had taken the latitude of the mouth of the Mississippi, but could not determine the longitude. On the sixth of January, the "Aimable" seems to have been very near it; but his attempts to reconnoitre the shore were frustrated by the objections of the pilot of the vessel, to which, with a fatal facility, very unusual with him, he suffered himself to yield. [Footnote: Joutel, 45. He places the date on the tenth, but elsewhere corrects himself. La Salle himself says, "La hauteur nous a fait remarquer... que ce que nous avons vue, le sixieme janvier, estoit en effet la principale entree de la riviere que nous cherchions."—Lettre de la Salle au Ministre, 4 Mars, 1685.] Still convinced that the Mississippi was to the westward, he coasted the shores of Texas. As Joutel, with a boat's crew, was vainly trying to land, a party of Indians swam out through the surf, and were taken on board; but La Salle could learn nothing from them, as their language was wholly unknown to him. The coast began to trend southward. They saw that they had gone too far. Joutel again tried to land, but the surf that lashed the sand-bars deterred him. He approached as near as he dared, and, beyond the intervening breakers, saw vast plains and a dim expanse of forests; the shaggy buffalo running with their heavy gallop along the shore, and troops of deer grazing on the marshy meadows.

A few days after, he succeeded in reaching the shore at a point not far south of Matagorda Bay. The aspect of the country was not cheering; sandy plains and shallow ponds of salt water, full of wild ducks and other fowl. The sand was thickly marked with, the hoof-prints of deer and buffalo; and they saw them in the distance, but could kill none. They had been for many days separated from the "Joly," when at length, to La Salle's great relief, she hove in sight; but his joy was of short duration. Beaujeu sent D'Aire, his lieutenant, on board the "Aimable," to charge La Salle with having deserted him. The desertion in fact was his own; for he had stood out to sea, instead of coasting the shore, according to the plan agreed on. Now ensued a discussion as to their position. Had they in fact passed the mouth of the Mississippi; and, granting that they had, how far had they left it behind? La Salle was confident that they had passed it on the sixth of January, and he urged Beaujeu to turn back with him in quest of it. Beaujeu replied that he had not provisions enough, and must return to France without delay, unless La Salle would supply him from his own stores. La Salle offered him provisions for fifteen days, which was more than enough for the additional time required; but Beaujeu remained perverse and impracticable, and would neither consent nor refuse. La Salle's men beguiled the time with hunting on shore; and he had the courtesy, very creditable under the circumstances, to send a share of the game to his colleague.

Time wore on. La Salle grew impatient, and landed a party of men, under his nephew Moranget and his townsman Joutel, to explore the adjacent shores. They made their way on foot northward and eastward for several days, till they were stopped by a river too wide and deep to cross. They encamped, and were making a canoe, when, to their great joy, for they were famishing, they descried the ships, which had followed them along the coast. La Salle landed, and became convinced—his wish, no doubt, fathering the thought—that the river was no other than the stream now called Bayou Lafourche, which forms a western mouth of the Mississippi. [Footnote: La Salle dates his letter to Seignelay, of the fourth of March: "A l'embouchure occidentals dufleuve Colbert" (Mississippi). He says, "La saison etant tres-avancee, et voyant qu'il me restoit fort peu de temps pour achever l'entreprise don't j'estois charge, je resolus de remonter ce canal du fleuve Colbert, plus tost que de retourner au plus considerable, eloigne de 25 a 30 lieues d'icy vers le nord-est, que nous avions remarque des le sixieme janvier, mais que nous n'avions pu reconnoistre, croyant sur le rapport des pilotes du vaisseau de sa Majeste et des nostres, n'avoir pas encore passe la baye du Saint-Esprit" (Mobile Bay). He adds that the difficulty of returning to the principal mouth of the Mississippi had caused him "prendre le party de remonter le fleuve par icy." This fully explains the reason of La Salle's landing on the coast of Texas, which would otherwise have been a postponement, not to say an abandonment, of the main object of the enterprise. He believed himself at the western mouth of the Mississippi; and lie meant to ascend it, instead of going by sea to the principal mouth. About half the length of Bayou Lafourche is laid down on Franquelin's map of 1684; and this, together with La Salle's letter and the statements of Joutel, plainly shows the nature of his error.] He thought it easier to ascend by this passage than to retrace his course along the coast, against the winds, the currents, and the obstinacy of Beaujeu. Eager, moreover, to be rid of that refractory commander, he resolved to disembark his followers, and. despatch the "Joly" back to France.

The Bay of St. Louis, now Matagorda Bay, [Footnote: The St. Bernard's Bay of old maps. La Salle, in his letter to Seignelay of 4 March, says, that it is in latitude twenty-eight degrees and eighteen or twenty minutes. This answers to the entrance of Matagorda Bay.

In the Archives de la Marine is preserved a map made by an engineer of the expedition, inscribed Minuty del, and entitled Entree du lac ou on a laisse le Sieur de la Salle. It represents the entrance of Matagorda Bay, the camp of La Salle on the left, the Indian camps on the borders of the bay, the "Belle" lying safely at anchor within, the "Aimable" stranded near the island at the entrance, and the "Joly" anchored in the open sea.

At Versailles, Salle des Marines, there is a good modern picture of the landing of La Salle in Texas.] forms a broad and sheltered harbor, accessible from the sea by a narrow passage, obstructed by sand-bars, and by the small island now called Pelican Island. La Salle prepared to disembark on the western shore, near the place which now bears his name; and, to this end, the "Aimable" and the "Belle" must be brought over the bar. Boats were sent to sound and buoy out the channel, and this was successfully accomplished on the sixteenth of February. The "Aimable" was ordered to enter; and, on the twentieth, she weighed anchor. La Salle was on shore watching her. A party of men, at a little distance, were cutting down a tree to make a canoe. Suddenly, some of them ran towards him with terrified faces, crying out that they had been set upon by a troop of Indians, who had seized their companions and carried them off. La Salle ordered those about him to take their arms, and at once set out in pursuit. He overtook the Indians, and opened a parley with them; but when he wished to reclaim his men, he discovered that they had been led away during the conference to the Indian camp, a league and a half distant. Among them was one of his lieutenants, the young Marquis de la Sablonniere. He was deeply vexed, for the moment was critical; but the men must be recovered, and he led his followers in haste towards the camp. Yet he could not refrain from turning a moment to watch the "Aimable," as she neared the shoals; and he remarked with deep anxiety to Joutel, who was with him, that if she held that course she would soon be aground.

They hurried on till they saw the Indian huts. About fifty of them, oven- shaped, and covered with mats and hides, were clustered on a rising ground, with their inmates gathered among and around them. As the French entered the camp, there was the report of a cannon from the seaward. The startled savages dropped flat with terror. A different fear seized La Salle, for he knew that the shot was a signal of disaster. Looking back, he saw the "Aimable" furling her sails, and his heart sank with the conviction that she had struck upon the reef. Smothering his distress,— she was laden with all the stores of the colony,—he pressed forward among the filthy wigwams, whose astonished inmates swarmed about the band of armed strangers, staring between curiosity and fear. La Salle knew those with whom he was dealing, and, without ceremony, entered the chief's lodge with his followers. The crowd closed around them, naked men and half-naked women, described by Joutel as of a singular ugliness. They gave buffalo- meat and dried porpoise to the unexpected guests; but La Salle, racked with anxiety, hastened to close the interview; and, having without difficulty recovered the kidnapped men, he returned to the beach, leaving with the Indians, as usual, an impression of good-will and respect.

When he reached the shore, he saw his worst fears realized. The "Aimable" lay careened over on the reef, hopelessly aground. Little remained but to endure the calamity with firmness, and to save, as far as might be, the vessel's cargo. This was no easy task. The boat which hung at her stern had been stove in,—it is said, by design. Beaujeu sent a boat from the "Joly," and one or more Indian pirogues were procured. La Salle urged on his men with stern and patient energy; a quantity of gunpowder and flour was safely landed; but now the wind blew fresh from the sea, the waves began to rise, a storm came on, the vessel, rocking to and fro on the sand-bar, opened along her side, the ravenous waves were strewn with her treasures; and, when the confusion was at its height, a troop of Indians came down to the shore, greedy for plunder. The drum was beat; the men were called to arms; La Salle set his trustiest followers to guard the gunpowder, in fear, not of the Indians alone, but of his own countrymen. On that lamentable night, the sentinels walked their rounds through the dreary bivouac among the casks, bales, and boxes which the sea had yielded up; and here, too, their fate-hunted chief held his drearier vigil, encompassed with treachery, darkness, and the storm.

Those who have recorded the disaster of the "Aimable" affirm that she was wilfully wrecked, [Footnote: This is said by Joutel and Le Clercq, and by La Salle himself, in his letter to Seignelay, 4 March, 1685, as well as in the account of the wreck drawn up officially.—Proces verbal du Sieur de la Salle sur le naufraqe de la flute l'Aimable a l'embouchure du Fleuve Colbert, MS. He charges it, as do also the others, upon Aigron, the pilot of the vessel, the same who had prevented him from exploring the mouth of the Mississippi on the sixth of January. The charges are supported by explicit statements, which render them probable. The loss was very great, including nearly all the beef and other provisions, 60 barrels of wine, 4 pieces of cannon, 1,620 balls, 400 grenades, 4,000 pounds of iron, 5,000 pounds of lead, most of the blacksmith's and carpenter's tools, a forge, a mill, cordage, boxes of arms, nearly all the medicines, most of the baggage of the soldiers and colonists, and a variety of miscellaneous goods.] an atrocious act of revenge against a man whose many talents often bore for him no other fruit than the deadly one of jealousy and hate.

The neighboring Bracamos Indians still hovered about them, with very doubtful friendship: and, a few days after the wreck, the prairie was seen on fire. As the smoke and name rolled towards them before the wind, La Salle caused all the grass about the camp to be cut and carried away, and especially around the spot where the powder was placed. The danger was averted; but it soon became known that the Indians had stolen a number of blankets and other articles, and carried them to their wigwams. Unwilling to leave his camp, La Salle sent his nephew Moranget and several other volunteers, with a party of men, to reclaim them. They went up the bay in a boat, landed at the Indian camp, and, with more mettle than discretion, marched into it, sword in hand. The Indians ran off, and the rash adventurers seized upon several canoes as an equivalent for the stolen goods. Not knowing how to manage them, they made slow progress on their way back, and were overtaken by night before reaching the French camp. They landed, made a fire, placed a sentinel, and lay down on the dry grass to sleep. The sentinel followed their example; when suddenly they were awakened by the war-whoop and a shower of arrows. Two volunteers, Oris and Desloges, were killed on the spot; a third, named Gayen, was severely wounded; and young Moranget received an arrow through the arm. He leaped up and fired his gun at the vociferous but invisible foe. Others of the party did the same, and the Indians fled.

This untoward incident, joined to the loss of the store-ship, completed the discouragement of some among the colonists. Several of them, including one of the priests and the engineer Minet, declared their intention of returning home with Beaujeu, who apparently made no objection to receiving them. He now declared that since the Mississippi was found, his work was done, and he would return to France. La Salle desired that he would first send on shore the cannon-balls and stores embarked for the use of the colony. Beaujeu refused, on the ground that they were stowed so deep in the hold that to take them out would endanger the ship. The excuse is itself a confession of gross mismanagement. Remonstrance would have availed little. Beaujeu spread his sails and departed, and the wretched colony was left to its fate.

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