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north, gaining a knowledge of their modes of life, manners, resources, and language.

While thus employed, his thoughts were roaming far beyond the sphere of his immediate occupations. Speculative minds in Europe had long been dreaming of a shorter way to China and Japan across the North American continent. The fervid imagination of La Salle was easily kindled by these dreams. The vast extent of the Great Lakes, which was then beginning to be made known, appeared to him a confirmation of this idea, as he did not doubt, that at their western extremities would be found the heads of rivers flowing into the China Seas, or perhaps a chain of other lakes, that would render the communication easy and direct. To commemorate these anticipations he gave the name of La Chine to his trading establishment on the Island of Montreal, a name it has borne to the present day.

Although he saw glowing visions of fame and fortune in so brilliant a discovery, yet he was not so sanguine as to believe it could be effected without more means than he could then command, either by his personal influence or from his own resources. He set himself to learn a lesson of patience, and resolved to wait the favoring tide of opportunity. Meantime Courcelles, the Governor of Canada, was busy in


resisting the hostile inroads of the Iroquois. He built a fort at Sorel, and another at Chambly, and proposed to erect a third at the eastern extremity of Lake Ontario, where the St. Lawrence issues from that lake. This plan was carried out by the Count de Frontenac, his successor in the government, who called council of Iroquois chiefs at that place, and so far prevailed over their simplicity as to gain their consent, on the grounds that this fort was to be only a depository of goods, which would facilitate the Indian trade. The fort was constructed of earth and palisades of wood in the year 1672, and called at first Fort Cataraqui, but afterwards honored with the name of its founder. The discerning eye of La Salle perceived that this post offered great advantages for the execution of his projects of traffic and discovery. He aspired to its command. He had the good fortune to win the favor of Frontenac, a man, says Charlevoix, of quick perceptions, talents, and cultivation, but of determined will, absolute temper, and deep-rooted prejudices. Fortified by the countenance of Frontenac, the aspiring adventurer repaired to France, in the year 1675, and laid his proposals before the minister. The capacious genius of Colbert then presided over the finances and marine of France. The colonial affairs were under the control of the marine department.

Colbert had a soul to comprehend the large schemes of La Salle, and their ultimate bearing on the power of France in the new world. We are authorized to believe, also, that La Salle, during his residence of eight years in Canada, had acquired a character which commanded respect and confidence. Louis the Fourteenth acceded to the views of Colbert, and letters patent were issued, and signed by the king's hand, which granted the government and property of Fort Frontenac to the Sieur de la Salle, with the seigniory of a tract of land around it, on condition that he should rebuild the fort with stone, maintain a garrison there at his own expense, and clear up certain portions of the land. According to Hennepin, he likewise agreed to reimburse the amount which the Count de Frontenac had paid for constructing the original fort and supporting the garrison.* Charlevoix informs us, that La Salle received from the king a patent of nobility, but in what rank or degree he was placed by this patent in the scale of titles does not appear. He was empowered, however, to hold free commerce with the natives, and to pursue his discoveries.

* Description de la Louisiane, p. 7.

After a few months' detention in France, the new lord of Cataraqui returned to Quebec, and repaired immediately to his seigniory. Applying himself diligently to his work, he faithfully performed his part of the contract.

In two years' time, the palisades and embankments of the old fort were demolished, and a new one, of much larger dimensions, arose in its place, constructed of stone, with massive walls and four bastions. Trees were felled, fields planted, and the scene was enlivened by vegetable gardens, poultryyards, and herds of cattle. A few French families had been drawn thither by such temptations as the proprietor could hold out to them; and the Recollect missionaries prevailed on some of the wandering natives to set up their cabins in the neighborhood of the fort, and to allow their children to be taught. A convenient and secure harbor lay within a small distance from the fort, opening into the lake towards the south. Not neglecting his commercial interest, on which, indeed, he depended for the resources to meet his heavy expenditures, La Salle built three small barks with decks, the first of that description which had been seen above the rapids of the St. Lawrence. With these vessels he could navigate Lake Ontario, and traffic with the savages on all its borders.

Having accomplished these undertakings with

a despatch and success, which afforded a signal proof of his ability and energy, he was now in a condition to turn his thoughts again to his great project of western discovery. After the expedition of Marquette and Joliet, he could not doubt that the Mississippi discharged itself into the Gulf of Mexico. This fact only inflamed him with the more vehement desire to complete the discovery of that river, to be the founder of colonies on its banks, and thus to open a new avenue of trade upon navigable waters between France and the vast countries of the west. Fortune and fame seemed to stand in his path, and to beckon him onward. Nor were his visions of China and Japan grown less dim or attractive. He still hoped to find a passage to those distant countries from the head waters of the Mississippi. His achievements at Fort Frontenac were only preparatory to the grand enterprise upon which he had so long set his heart. He had continued to preserve the friendship of the Count de Frontenac, who approved his designs, and proffered his influence to promote them with the court of France. Thus encouraged, the Sieur de la Salle made another voyage to his native country towards the end of the year 1677.

The great Colbert received him as before, and his son, the Marquis de Seignelay, who was now at the head of the marine department, was equally

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