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CHAP. out delay. Should they embark in such miserable
boats, as they could construct, and descend the river ? 1542. Or should they seek a path to Mexico through the
forests? They were unanimous in the opinion, that it was less dangerous to go by land; the hope was still cherished, that some wealthy state, some opulent city, might yet be discovered, and all fatigues be
forgotten in the midst of victory and spoils. Again July. they penetrated the western wilderness; in July, they
found themselves in the country of the Natchitoches ;' but the Red river was so swollen, that it was impossible for them to pass. They soon became bewildered, and knew not where they were; the Indian guides purposely led them astray; "they went up and down through very great woods,” without making any progress. The wilderness, into which they had wandered, was sterile and thinly inhabited; the few inhabitants were migratory tribes, subsisting by the chase. The Spaniards, at last, believed themselves to be three hundred miles or more, west of the Mississippi. Desperate as the resolution seemed, it was determined to return once more to its banks, and follow its current to the sea. There were not wanting men, whose hopes and whose courage were not yet exhausted; but Moscoso, the new governor, had long “ desired to see himself in a place where he might sleep his full sleep.
They came upon the Mississippi at Minoya, a few leagues above the mouth of Red river; often wading
i Vega introduces the Natchi- and xxxiii. p. 534, 535. Compare toches too soon. L. v. part i. c. i. Nuttall's Arkansas, p. 264. See Portuguese Account, c. xxxii. 2 Portuguese Relation, c. xxxiv.
through deep waters; and grateful to God if, at CHAP. night, they could find a dry resting-place. The w Indians, whom they had enslaved, died in great numbers; in Minoya, many Christians died; and most of them were attacked by a dangerous epidemic.
Nor was the labor yet at an end; it was no easy 1543. task for men in their condition to build brigantines. Erecting a forge, they struck off the fetters from the July. slaves; and, gathering every scrap of iron in the camp, they wrought it into nails. Timber was sawed by hand with a large saw, which they had always carried with them. They caulked their vessels with a weed like hemp; barrels, capable of holding water, were with difficulty made; to obtain supplies of provision, all the hogs and even the horses were killed, and their flesh preserved by drying; and the neighboring townships of Indians were so plundered of their food, that the miserable inhabitants would come about the Spaniards begging for a few kernels of their own maize, and often died from weakness and want of food. The rising of the Mississippi assisted the launching of the seven brigantines; they were frail barks, which had no decks; and, as from the want of iron the nails were of necessity short, they were constructed of very thin planks, so that the least shock would have broken them in pieces. Thus provided, in seventeen days the fugitives reached the July gulf of Mexico; the distance seemed to them two hundred and fifty leagues, and was not much less than
CHAP. five hundred miles. They were the first to observe,
that for some distance from the mouth of the Mis1543.
sissippi the sea is not salt, so great is the volume of fresh water which the river discharges. Following,
for the most part, the coast, it was more than fifty Sept. days before the men, who finally escaped, now no
more than three hundred and eleven in number, entered the river Panuco.
Such is the history of the first visit of Europeans to the Mississippi; the honor of the discovery
belongs, without a doubt, to the Spaniards. There 1544. were not wanting adventurers, who desired to make
one more attempt to possess the country by force of arms; their request was refused. Religious zeal
1 On Soto's expedition, by far and Charlevoix, N. Fr. tom. i. p. the best account is that of the 24, and v. iii. p. 408, offer no new Portuguese Eye-witness, first pub- views. Du Pratz is unnecessarily lished in 1557, and by Hakluyt, in sceptical. The French translator English, in 1609. It may be found of Vega has not a word of valuain Hakluyt, v. v. p. 477–550. ble criticism. Of English authors, There is an imperfect abridgement neither Purchas por Harris have of it in Purchas, v. iv. p. 1528— furnished any useful illustrations. 1556; and a still more imperfect Of books, published in America, one in Roberts' Florida, p. 33–79. Belknap, in Am. Biog. v. i. p. 185 This parrative is remarkably good, -195, comments with bis usual and contains internal evidence of care. McCulloh, in his Researchits credibility. Nuttall erroneous- es, Appendix, iii. p. 523—531, ly attributes it to Vega. The makes an earnest attempt to trace work of Vega is an extravagant the route of Soto. So Nuttall, in romance, yet founded upon facts. his Travels in Arkansas, AppenNumbers and distances are mag- dix, p. 247—267. Nuttall had nified; and every thing embellish- himself roved through the same ed with great boldness. His his- regions, and his opinions are
are justly tory is not without its value, but entitled to much deference. Flint must be consulted with extreme only glances at the subject. Stodcaution. Herrera, d. vi. I. vii. c. dard, in his Sketches, p. 4, is vague ix.—xii., and d. vii. l. vii. c. i.-xi. and without detail. I have comis not an original authority, and pared all these authors; the achis statements furnish merely cu- count in Hakluyt, with good modmulative evidence. The Ensayo ern maps, can lead to firm concluCronologico contains nothing of sjons. moment on the subject.
2 Ensayo Cronologico, Ano, Lescarbot, N. Fr. tom. i. p. 36, MDXLIV.
was more persevering; Louis Cancello, a missionary CHAP. of the Dominican order, gained, through Philip, then w heir apparent in Spain, permission to visit Florida, 1547. and attempt the peaceful conversion of the natives. Christianity was to conquer the land, against which so many expeditions had failed. The Spanish governors were directed to favor the design; all slaves, that had been taken from the northern shore of the gulf of Mexico, were to be manumitted and restored to their country. The ship was fitted out with much 1549. solemnity ; but the priests, who sought the first interview with the natives, were feared as enemies, and, being immediately attacked, Louis and two others fell martyrs to their zeal."
Florida was abandoned. It seemed as if death guarded the avenues to the country. While the Castilians were every where else victorious, Florida was wet with the blood of the invaders, who had still been unable to possess themselves of her soil. The coast of our republic on the gulf of Mexico was not, at this time, disputed by any other nation with Spain ; while that power claimed, under the name of Florida, the whole seacoast as far as Newfoundland, and even to the remotest north. In Spanish geography, Canada was a part of Florida. Yet within
Ensayo Cronologico, p. 25, 26.; quæ in Florida Gallis acciderunt. Vega, l. vi. c. xxii. p. 267.; Goma- Í'huani Hist. 1. xliv. ra, c. xlv.; Urbani Calvetonis de
2 Gom. c. xlv.; Vega, l. vi.c.
xxii. Gallorum in Floridam expedi- 3 Herrera's Description of the tione Brevis Historia, c. i., annexed West Indies, c. viii. in Purchas, to Nov. Nov. Orbis Hist. p. 432, v. iv. p. 868. 433; Eden and Willes, fol. 229; 4 Bolvio á la Florida ChamDe Bry's introduction and parer- plain ; entrò en Quebec, &c Engon to his Brevis Narratio eorum sayo Cronologico, p. 179.
CHAP. that whole extent, not a Spanish fort was erected,
not a harbor was occupied ; not one settlement was planned. The first permanent establishment of the Spaniards in Florida was the result of jealous bigotry.
For France had begun to settle the region with a colony of protestants; and Calvinism, which, with
the special co-operation of Calvin himself, had, for a 1555. short season, occupied the coasts of Brazil and the
harbor of Rio Janeiro,' was now to be planted on the borders of Florida. Coligny had long desired to establish a refuge for the Huguenots and a protestant French empire in America. Disappointed in his first effort by the apostacy and faithlessness of his agent, Villegagnon, he still persevered; moved alike by
religious zeal and by a passion for the honor of 1562. France. The expedition which he now planned,
was entrusted to the command of John Ribault of Dieppe, a brave man of maritime experience and a firm protestant, and was attended by some of the best of the young French nobility, as well as by
veteran troops. The feeble Charles IX. conceded Feb. an ample commission, and the squadron set sail for
the shores of North-America. Desiring to establish their plantation in a genial clime, land was first made in the latitude of St. Augustine; the fine river,
which we call the St. Johns, was discovered and May. named the river of May. It is the St. Matheo’ of
1 De Thou's Hist. I. xvi. Lery, True Declaration of the State of Hist. Nav. in Bras. An abridge- Virginia, 1610, p. 12, 13. ment of the description, but not of 2 Compare the criticism of the personal narrative, appears in Holmes' `Annals, v. i. p. 567. Purchas, v. iv.p. 1325—1317. Les- Holmes surpasses Charlevoix in carbot, N. F. 1. ii. t. i. p. 143—214; accuracy. Southey's Brazil, part i. c. ix.; 3 Ensayo Cronologico, p. 43.