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La Salle returns to Canada.
chosen about the middle of January, and the fort of Crevecæur (Broken Heart,) commenced; a name expressive of the very natural anxiety and sorrow, which the pretty certain loss of his Griffin, and his consequent impoverishment (for there were no insurance offices then,) the danger of hostility on the part of the Indians, and of mutiny on the part of his own men, might well cause him. Nor were his fears by any means groundless.
groundless. In the first place, his discontented followers, and afterwards emissaries from the Mascoutens, tried to persuade the Illinois that he was a friend of the Iroquois, their most deadly enemies; and that he was among them for the purpose of enslaving them. But La Salle was an honest and fearless man, and, as soon as coldness and jealousy appeared on the part of his hosts, he went to them boldly and asked the cause, and by his frank statements preserved their good feeling and good will. His disappointed enemies, then, or at some other time, for it is not very clear when," tried poison; and, but for “a dose of good treacle,” La Salle might have ended his days in his Fort Crevecæur.
Meanwhile the winter wore away, and the prairies were getting to look green again; but our discoverer heard no good news, received no reinforcement; his property was gone, his men were fast deserting him, and he had little left but his own strong heart. The second year of his hopes, and toils, and failures, was half gone, and he further from his object than ever; but still he had that strong heart, and it was more than men and money. He saw that he must go back to Canada, raise new means, and enlist new men; but he did not dream, therefore, of relinquishing his projects. On the contrary, he determined that, while he was on his return, a small party should go down to the Mississippi and explore that stream towards its sources; and that Tonti, with the few men that remained, should strengthen and extend his relations among the Indians.
For the leader of the Mississippi exploring party, he chose Father Lewis Hennepin; and, having furnished him with all the necessary articles, started him upon his voyage on the last day of February, 1680.
Having thus provided against the entire stagnation of discovery
Charlevoix says it was at the close of 1679; Hennepin, that they did not reach the Illinois, till January 4th, 1680. We have no means of deciding, but follow Hennepin, who is particular as to dates, and was present.
15 during his forced absence, La Salle at once betook himself to his journey eastward: a journey scarce conceivable now, for it was to be made by land from Fort Creveceur round to Fort Frontenac, a distance of at least twelve hundred miles, at the most trying season of the year, when the rivers of the lakes would be full of floating ice, and offer to the traveller neither the security of winter, nor the comfort of summer.
But the chevalier was not to be daunted by any obstacles; his affairs were in so precarious a state that he felt he must make a desperate effort, or all his plans would be for ever broken up; so through snow, ice and water, he won his way along the southern borders of Lakes Michigan, Erie and Ontario, and at last reached his destination. He found, as he expected, every thing in confusion : his Griffin was lost; his agents had cheated him; his creditors had seized his goods. Had his spirit been one atom less elastic and energetic, he would have abandoned the whole undertaking; but La Salle knew neither fear nor despair, and by midsummer we behold him once more on his way to rejoin his little band of explorers on the Illinois. This pioneer body, meanwhile, had suffered greatly from the jealousy of the neighboring Indians, and the attacks of bands of Iroquois, who wandered all the way from their homes in New York, to annoy the less warlike savages of the prairies. Their sufferings, at length, in September, 1680, induced Tonti to abandon his position, and seek the Lakes again, a point which with much difficulty he effected. When, therefore, La Salle, who had heard nothing of all these troubles, reached the posts upon the Illinois in December 1680, or January 1681, he found them utterly deserted; his hopes again crushed, and all his dreams again disappointed. There was but one thing to be done, however, to turn back to Canada, enlist more men, and secure more means: this he did, and in June, 1681, had the pleasure to meet his comrade, Lieutenant Tonti, at Mackinac, to whom he spoke, as we learn from an eye-witness, with the same hope and courage which he had exhibited at the outset of his enterprise.
And here for a time we must leave La Salle and Tonti, and notice the adventures of Hennepin, who, it will be remembered, left Fort Crevecæur on the last of February, 1680. In seven days he reached the Mississippi, and, paddling up its icy stream as he best could, by the 11th of April had got no higher than the Wisconsin. Here he was taken prisoner by a band of northern Indians, who treated him and his comrades with considerable
1682. kindness, and took them up the river until about the first of May, when they reached the Falls of St. Anthony, which were then so christened by Hennepin in honor of his patron saint. Here they took to the land, and travelling nearly two hundred miles toward the north-west, brought him to their villages: these Indians were the Sioux. Here Hennepin and his companions remained about three months, treated kindly and trusted by their captors: at the end of that time, he met with a band of Frenchmen, headed by one Sieur du Luth, who, in pursuit of trade and game, had penetrated thus far by the route of Lake Superior; and, with these fellow countrymen the Franciscian returned to the borders of civilized life, in November, 1680, just after La Salle had gone back to the wilderness as we have related. Hennepin soon after went to France, where, in 1684, he published a work narrating his adventures.*
To return again to the Chevalier himself, he met Tonti, as we have said, at Mackinac, in June, 1681; thence he went down the lakes to Fort Frontenac, to make the needful preparations for prosecuting his western discoveries; these being made, we find him, in August, 1681, on his way up the lakes again, and on the 3d of November at the St. Josephs, as full of confidence as ever. The middle of December had come, however, before all were ready to go forward, and then, with twenty-three Frenchmen, eighteen eastern Indians, ten Indian women to wait upon their lazy mates, and three children, he started, not as before by the way of the Kankakee, but by the Chicago river, travelling on foot and with the baggage on sledges. It was upon the 5th or 6th of January, 1682, that the band of explorers left the borders of Lake Michigan; they crossed the portage, passed down to Fort Crevecæur, which they found in good condition, and still
* This volume, called “A Description of Louisiana,” he, thirteen years afterwards, enlarged and altered, and published with the title, “ New Discovery of a Vast Country situated in America, between New Mexico and the Frozen Ocean.” In this new publication, he claimed to have violated La Salle's instructions, and in the first place to have gone down the Mississippi to its mouth, before ascending it. His claim was very naturally doubted; and examination has proved it to be a complete fable, the materials having been taken from an account published by Le Clercq in 1691, of La Salle's successful voyage down the great river of the West, a voyage of which we have presently to speak. This account of Le Clercq's was drawn from the letters of Father Zenobe Membre, a priest who was with La Salle, and is the most valuable published work in relation to the final expedition from Canada, made by that much-tried and dauntless commander. The whole subject of Hennepin's credibility, is presented by Mr. Sparks, in his life of La Salle, with great fairness and precision, and to that we refer all curious readers.
17 going forward, on the 6th of February, were upon the banks of the Mississippi. On the thirteenth they commenced their downward passage, but nothing of interest occurred until, on the 26th of the month, at the Chickasaw Bluffs, a Frenchman, named Prudhomme, who had gone out with others to hunt, was lost, a circumstance which led to the erection of a fort upon the spot, named from the missing man, who was found, however, eight or nine days afterwards. Pursuing their course, they at length, upon the 6th of March, 1682, discovered the three passages by which the Mississippi discharges its waters into the Gulf; and here we shall let La Salle himself tell his story, as it is given in the “Proces-verbal” which Mr. Sparks has translated from the original in the French archives. It thus proceeds:
“We landed on the bank of the most western channel, about three leagues from its mouth, On the 7th, M. de la Salle went to reconnoitre the shores of the neighboring sea, and M. de Tonty likewise examined the great middle channel. They found these two outlets beautiful, large and deep. On the 8th, we reascended the river, a little above its confluence with the sea, to find a dry place, beyond the reach of inundations. The elevation of the North Pole was here about twenty-seven degrees. Here we prepared a column and a cross, and to the said column were affixed the arms of France, with this inscription ;
LOUIS LE GRAND, ROI DE FRANCE ET DE NAVARRE, REGNE ;
LE NEUVIEME AVRIL, 1682. The whole party, under arms, chaunted the Te Deum, the Exaudiat, the Domine salvum fac Regem; and then, after a salute of firearms and cries of Vive le Roi, the column was erected by M. de la Salle, who, standing near it, said, with a loud voice in
“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, this ninth day of April, one thousand six hundred and eighty-two, I, 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, people, provinces, cities, towns, villages, mines, minerals, fisheries,
1682. streams, and rivers, comprised in the extent of the said Louisiana, from the mouth of the great river St. Louis, on the eastern side, otherwise called Ohio, Alighin, Sipore, or Chukagona, and this with the consent of the Chaounons, Chichachaws, and other people dwelling therein, with whom we have made alliance; as also along the River Colbert or Mississippi, and rivers which discharge theniselves therein, from its source beyond the country of the Kious or Nadouessious, and this with their consent, and with the consent of the Motantees, Illinois, Mesigameas, Natches, Koroas, which are the most considerable nations dwelling therein, with whom also we have made alliance either by ourselves, or by others in our behalf;* as far as its mouth at the sea, or Gulf of Mexico, about the twenty-seventh degree of the elevation of the North Pole, and also to the mouth of the River of Palms; upon the assurance, which we have received from all these nations, that we are the first Europeans who have descended or ascended the said River Colbert; hereby protesting against all those, who may in future undertake to invade any or all of these countries, people, or lands, above described, to the prejudice of the right of his Majesty, acquired by the consent of the nations herein named. Of which, and of all that can be needed, I hereby take to witness those who hear me, and demand an act of the Notary, as required by law.'
"To which the whole assembly responded with shouts of Vive le Roi, and with salutes of firearms. Moreover, the said Sieur de la Salle caused to be buried at the foot of the tree, to which the cross was attached, a leaden plate, on one side of which were engraved the arms of France, and the following Latin inscription.
LVDOVICVS MAGNVS REGNAT.
NONO APRILIS CIO 1°C LXXXII.
ROBERTVS CAVELIER, CVM DOMINO DE TON TY, LEGATO, R. P. ZENOBIO MEMBRE, RECOLLECTO, ET VIGINTI GALLIS PRIMVS HOC FLVMEN, INDE AB ILINEORVM PAGO, ENAVIGAVIT, EJVSQVE OSTIVM FECIT PERVIVVM, NONO APRILIS ANNI CII 1°C LXXXII. After which the Sieur de la Salle said, that his Majesty, as eldest son of the Church, would annex no country to his crown, without making it his chief care to establish the Christian religion therein,
There is an obscurity in this enumeration of places and Indian nations, which may be ascribed to an ignorance of the geography of the country; but it seems to be the design of the Sieur de la Salle to take possession of the whole territory watered by the Mississippi from its mouth to its source, and by the streams flowing into it on both sides.