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another letter from Beaujeu to the minister, dated the 20th of October.
“Were it not for the malady of the Sieur de la Salle,” he says, “I should have no occasion to render to you an account of our voyage, since I am charged only with the navigation, and he with the secret; but his illness obliges me to inform
of the situation in which we are now placed."
He proceeds to give an account of the voyage, in which he complains that his wishes were always thwarted, that two of the vessels were wretched sailers, and that the Joly was so much filled with merchandise and baggage between the decks, that the men had fallen sick for the want of air and accommodations; and he then adds,
“ At last we arrived here, almost all sick ; and the Sieur de la Salle himself has been attacked by a violent fever, which the surgeons think will be long and dangerous, affecting not more his body than his mind. A few days after he was taken ill, M. Cavelier, his brother, came to me, and requested that I would take charge of his affairs; but I excused myself, because I knew that, when restored to health, he would not approve what I had done, for I have often heard him say, that he was not obliged to any one for meddling in his concerns, or speaking of them.
He told me, however, that it was absolutely necessary to procure subsistence for the with the goods on board the Aimable and Belle, and I gave orders for that purpose, established the rations, and appointed a commissary for their distribution.
“It is said that the Spaniards have in these seas six men-of-war, each carrying sixty guns. However this may be, or whatever may happen, I will carry home to you intelligence of the Mississippi, or perish in the attempt. It is true, if the Sieur de la Salle should not recover, I shall
pursue different measures from those he has adopted, which I do not approve. Nor can I comprehend how a man should dream of settling a country, surrounded by Spaniards and Indians, with a company of workmen and women, instead of soldiers. But I shall undertake nothing without the consent of the governor and intendant, whose counsels I shall follow.
“ If you will permit me to express my opinion, the Sieur de la Salle ought to have contented himself with the discovery of his river, without attempting to conduct three vessels and troops across the ocean, in so many different climates, and through seas utterly unknown to him. I agree that he is a man of learning, who has read much, and has some knowledge of navigation; but there is so great a difference between theory and practice, that the man who possesses only the former will always deceive himself. The ability to transport canoes through lakes and rivers is also very different from that, which is required to conduct vessels and troops over remote seas. Pardon this little digression, which I have thought it necessary to make in my own justification, because I am aware that I have been represented to you as a man full of difficulties; but I would only provide for whatever may happen, whereas they who make everything easy never know what to expect.”
By this extract, and those preceding, we perceive all the troubles of this captain to centre in one point, the mortification of being under the orders of a man who had no military rank. Why did he accept the command, the terms of which he perfectly understood, and then give himself up to perpetual heart-burnings, and seize every possible occasion to vent his complaints, and to embarrass the measures which it was his duty as an officer to support? La Salle's great fault consisted in not comprehending or regarding the delicacy of his situation, and endeavoring to soothe his sensitive temper by more condescension and frankness of manners ;
in not reposing confidence in a man, whose cordial coöperation was absolutely essential to the success of his enterprise.
The governor and intendant came to Petit Gouave, and in three weeks' time the Sieur de la Salle had gained sufficient strength to make the arrangements with them for pursuing
The proper stores of provisions were procured and laid in; and domestic animals, suited for settling a colony, were put on board. Consultations were held with competent pilots concerning the navigation of the West India seas and the Gulf of Mexico.
It was resolved to steer to the south of the Island of Cuba, and touch at Cape St. Anthony, its western extremity. He was the more anxious to depart, as his motley company of soldiers were licentious and disorderly; some died of diseases contracted in the island, and others deserted.
In the voyage from France, the Joly had taken the lead of the squadron, but the Aimable, being the heaviest sailer of the three, was now placed in front, and the others were to be guided by her motions. Some of the passengers were transferred from the Joly to the Aimable, among whom were La Salle himself, Fathers Zenobe and Anastase, Cavelier, Chefdeville, and Joutel. The two commanders were thus separated, which, under the circumstances, was undoubtedly an important change, since it seems to have become a settled point that they could not respect each
other, nor act together in harmony. They all sailed from Petit Gouave on the 25th of November.
The Vessels make the Land at the Westward of
the Mississippi. The Colonists go ashore at the Bay of St. Bernard, and build a Fort.La Salle explores the Bay with the Hope of finding one of the Mouths of the Mississippi.
PARTING from St. Domingo, they coasted along the southern shore of Cuba, at one time standing to the south till they saw the Cayman Islands, and then turning northward to seek for the Isle of Pines. Here they cast anchor, and remained three days. They embarked again, and, after beating for some time against a head wind, they weathered Cape Corrientes, and on the 12th of December came to anchor at Cape St. Anthony.
The Gulf of Mexico now lay before them, and, staying there one night only, they set sail, and turned their prows in a northwesterly direction. Contrary winds drove them back, and detained them four days longer at Cape St. Anthony, which time they employed in filling the water