Page images

no good reason to doubt the general accuracy of his first book, nor of his second, previously to his departure from Fort Crèvecæur. Where his personal ambition and glory are not concerned, he may probably be relied on; but, unfortunately, these too often obtrude themselves upon the reader's notice. He was one of that restless and aspiring class of men, who are unhappy at the thought of another's fame or success, looking upon themselves as entitled to a monopoly of these distinctions. Jealous of rivals, and distrustful of friends, he was always prying into hidden motives, and his wayward temper drove him into troubles, which would have been shunned .by a mind of more repose.

His descriptions of Indian manners and life are skilfully drawn, and are valuable as being the results of much experience and observation ; and in the marvel

the French government, for some political reason, soon after it was published. Coxe's Caroland, p. 118.

The first eight chapters of Hennepin's third work, the Nouveau Voyage, contain an account of La Salle's last voyage, travels in Texas, and death. This account is likewise closely copied from Le Clercq, who acknowledges himself indebted for his materials to the letters of Father Anastase, a missionary in that expedition. Hennepin acknowledges the same, but in many parts he copies the reflections and remarks of Le Clercq, which shows that he used Le Clercq's printed book, instead of Anastase's letters; and yet he gives no credit.

lous he deals less than many of the writers of his time, who are allowed the credit of fidelity and truth.


La Salle begins his Voyage down the Mississippi.

Intercourse with various Indian Nations on the Banks of the River. - Arrives at its Mouth, and takes Possession of the Country. Returns to the Illinois,

the Illinois, and thence to France.

WHEN the Sieur de la Salle arrived at Fort Frontenac with the remnants of his company, as heretofore related, he immediately began to prepare for another expedition, determined to proceed with as little delay as possible to the Mississippi. It was his first object to recruit his forces, and he took into his service a company of Frenchmen, and also a number of eastern Indians, Abenakies, and Loups or Mahingans, as they are called by the French writers. He also adjusted the difficulties with his creditors, either by payment or satisfactory security; and he was enabled to provide for his future

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

expenses by pledging Fort Frontenac and the lands around it, as also his privilege of commerce with the natives. He met the secretary of the Count de Frontenac at Montreal, who was instructed to hold an interview with him on certain affairs appertaining to the government. The Sieur Dautray, son of the Procurer-General of Quebec, joined him as a volunteer.

Sending forward Father Zenobe with a large part of his men, and putting Fort Frontenac under the command of the Sieur de la Forest, he followed with the remainder to Niagara. A fort had here been built, called Fort de Conty, which was occupied by a small garrison. Everything being now in readiness, he embarked with his whole company in canoes from the head of the Niagara River, on the 28th of August, 1681, and, without any remarkable incident during the voyage, arrived at the Miamis River on the 3d of November.

Six weeks were here spent in the necessary arrangements. The company selected for the voyage down the Mississippi consisted of fiftyfour persons, namely, twenty-three Frenchmen, eighteen savages, Abenakies and Loups, from New England, ten Indian women, and three children. The Indians insisted on taking these women with them to prepare their food, accord

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ing to their custom, while they were fishing and hunting."

It was decided to diverge from the old route, and Tonty and Zenobe were despatched in canoes, with the equipage and nearly all the men, along the southern border of Lake. Michigan to the mouth of the Chicago River. The waters were closed with ice, as had been anticipated, and Tonty caused sledges to be constructed for dragging the canoes over the frozen surface. La Salle travelled on foot from the Miamis River, and joined him on the 4th of January, 1682. The whole party then began their journey up the Chicago, the canoes, baggage, provisions, and a wounded Frenchman unable to walk, being thus conveyed to its sources, and thence across the portage, and down the Illinois to Lake Peoria, where the river was open, and the canoes were launched again upon their proper element. No Indians were seen at the great village, they having gone to their winter habitations below. Fort Crèvecæur was found in good condition. There seems to have been a garrison in the fort,

* That women and children should be taken on such an enterprise would seem incredible, if it were not so stated by Father Zenobe, who is particular in his enumeration of the persons engaged. See Le Clercq's Etablissement de la Foy, Tom. II. p. 214. La Salle also mentions the women in his Procès Verbal, but not the children.

[ocr errors]

probably sent thither a few weeks before by La Salle, on his last arrival at the Miamis River, for there is no evidence of its having been occupied till now from the time it was abandoned by Tonty, soon after its construction. There was no delay at this place; and, on the 6th of February, the voyagers found themselves floating safely on the waters of the Mississippi, no accident having occurred to retard their progress or cloud their hopes.

They were detained here seven days, waiting for the Indians, who had loitered behind in consequence of the floating ice; and, on the day of their departure, they passed the mouth of the Missouri, the general appearance of which and its muddy' waters are accurately described by Father Zenobe. Six leagues below, on the east side of the river, they landed near a village of the Tamaroa Indians, who were then all absent at their hunting grounds; and from this place, having no provisions in store but Indian corn, and being obliged to stop on the way to hunt and fish, they advanced slowly to the Ohio River, where they remained a short time. For a hundred and twenty miles below the mouth of the Ohio, the banks of the Mississippi were marshy and covered with reeds, which afforded no opportunity for hunting; and the next resting-place

« PreviousContinue »