網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

illustration, take us behind the scenes and show us the wires, which, pulled by Louis XIV. and his ministers, made their puppets in the New World dance.

Mr. Marshall's numerous addresses before the Buffalo and other Historical Societies have done much toward creating a taste for historical studies. His published works have reached a wide community of appreciative readers : among the principal of these may be mentioned-in addition to the initial publication in the first issue of this Magazine—the “Expedition of the Marquis de Nonville in 1689 against the Senecas," issued by the New York Historical Society in Vol. II. of its new series; the “ Expedition of De Celeron to the Ohio in 1749;" “ La Salle's First Visit to the Senecas in 1699" (privately printed in pamphlet form in 1874); “ Historical Sketches of the Niagara Frontier," read before and published by the Buffalo Historical Society; and “The Building and the Voyage of the Griffon in 1679,” also read before and published by the same Society, the distinguishing feature of each being the picturesque beauty with which dry historical facts are adorned, while truth is strictly preserved. The notion of the old school of historians that history, to be correct, must necessarily be dull, has of late years been gradually passing away. Among American writers who have aided materially in bringing about this change, Parkman, Bancroft, Prescott and Marshall are preëminent. The notable increase of public interest in historical investigation within the past few years, the rise of historical societies all over the land, and the ardent zeal awakened in a multitude of directions for the preservation of records, are also largely due to the historical impetus given to the scholarship of the country by such able and enthusiastic writers. The stern pioneer warrior, with arquebus and matchlock, the friars with their rosaries and peaked hoods, the plumed Indian with tomahawk and gaylydecorated quiver, pass before us, as we read Mr. Marshall's pages, like the figures in the glittering pageant of a night; and were it not for the carefully collected foot-notes, which afford a sure test of the accuracy of the text, we should often think it a dream of romance rather than a chapter of stern history. The period partially covered by his writings, like those of Parkman, is one of unique interest. Of the influences which were at work in founding New France, and of the facts themselves, comparatively little is known. It has been the generally received impression that the halo of romance surrounding the pioneers of the New World has been the result of this uncertainty, which a more accurate knowledge would at once dissipate. Parkman and Marshall, however, prove the contrary to be the case, and clearly show that the facts, when carefully studied, increase, rather than diminish, in picturesque charm and coloring France-a century later than England—was just emerging from the bondage of feudalism. The tiers état was struggling into life, and the free burgesses were gradually forcing the nobility, under the pleasureloving Louis XIII., to relinquish their grasp upon their baronial rights and privileges. At this point the discovery of the New World seemed to show a way of escape ; and under the guise of traffic and adventure, feudalism sought to engraft upon new stock that which was fast withering upon the old. Some of the attempts and trials, the successes and failures, the sufferings and daring, which ensued while the experiment was in progress, are clearly shown by Mr. Marshall. Especially is this the case in “The Building and Voyage of the Griffon.The story of her voyage covers the early and dangerous explorations of La Salle, La Motte and Father Hennepin. “The humble pioneer of the vast fleets of our modern lake commerce," as Mr. Marshall happily expresses it, “now spread her sails to the auspicious breeze and commenced her perilous voyage. The vast inland seas, over which she was about to navigate, had never been explored, save by the canoe of the Indian, timidly coasting along their shores. Without chart to warn of hidden danger, she boldly plowed her way." The ves. sel was driven by violent gales north-westerly, and at length anchored in the calm waters of the bay of Missillinakinac. “Here," continues our author," the voyagers found a settlement composed of Hurons, Ottawas and a few Frenchmen. A bark-covered chapel bore the emblem of the cross, crected over a mission planted by the Jesuits. Like a dim taper, it shone with feeble light in a vast wilderness of Pagan darkness." Gladly would we accompany Mr. Marshall in his delineation of the career of the adventurous La Salle, who with his companions, Hennepin, Tonty, Jontel and other kindred spirits, follow in and widen the track of his predecessor, Marquette ; but our limits forbid, and as after an hour spent in rapt admiration of some magnificent creation of an artist's pencil we fain would linger, but are compelled to turn away, comforting ourselves with the intention of soon coming again, so we must be content with his closing paragraph. The vessel, it appears, was finally lost-not the only disaster, but simply one of a series which befell this enterprising explorer-"yet his iron will was not subdued nor his impetuous ardor diminished. He continued to prosecute his discoveries under the most disheartening reverses, with a self-reliance and energy that never faltered. He was equal to every situation, whether sharing the luxuries of civilized life or the privations of the wilderness; whether contending with the snows of a Canadian winter or the burning heats of Texas ; whether paddling his canoe along the northern lakes or seeking by sea for the mouth of the Mississippi. His eventful life embodied the elements of a grand epic poem, full of romantic interest and graphic incident; alternating in success and failure, and culminating in a tragic death."

In Mr. Marshall's volumes, likewise, we catch full glimpses of the selfsacrificing devotion of the followers of Loyola in carrying out the work left by Champlain. We see them now pulling with strong arms their frail bark canoes against the rapids of the Canadian rivers, and again, elevating the Host before some sylvan altar—the brawny forms of the Indian braves bent in rapt surprise at the strange rite. To all persons interested in the vindication of the character of our aboriginals these writings peculiarly appeal. Mr. Marshall brought to his researches a benevolent nature, sympathizing with the Indians in all their misfortunes, and a fondness for traditions, which is the more interesting, as he had been brought into personal contact with their prominent leaders (Red Jacket, for example). Seen through the vista of prejudice the Indian, whom our ancestors first encountered, is more or less a hideous creature of cruelty; and the Puritan exile, while he calmly burns out the tongue of a Quaker for a religious difference, holds up to pious horror the savage who scalps the white ravisher of his wife! The late Col. Wm. L. Stone and Mr. Schoolcraft were the pioneers in hewing down the prejudices that had grown up around the Indian character; they show conclusively that whenever the aboriginals were treated simply as fellow-men they never failed to show appreciation of it by their conduct.* The first act of the savages of Eastern Massachusetts upon the arrival of the Mayflower was to tender her passengers presents of maize ; and not until their claims to kind treatment were ignored and themselves wantonly spurned (when the immediate danger to the colonists of starvation was over) did they raise the defiant war-whoop against the white strangers. And when, in the severe winter of 1678, La Motte and Hennepin, after following for five weary days an Indian trail through the frost-bound wilderness, and sleeping at night in the open air without shelter, reached the village of the Senecas, they were received by that nation, as we are told by Mr. Marshall, “ with marked consideration and conducted to the cabin of their principal chief, where the young men bathed their travel-worn feet and anointed them with bear's oil.” In fact, we do not remember an instance where the whites encountered the Red Men for the first time on the shores of this continent in which they were not treated with kindness and hospitality.

* The great influence of William Penn, Sir William Johnson and Lescabot over the terrible, yet fickle Iroquois, which has always been regarded as so extraordinary, arose simply from the fact that they knew the magic of kindness and its potency over all, but especially over the Red Men of the forest.

“The Niagara Frontier" not only embraces sketches of the early history of that section of the country, but is a successful attempt to rescue from oblivion and illustrate historically some of the Indian, French and English names which have been applied to the most prominent localities on that frontier. This paper is characterized by the same agreeable style, joined to historical accuracy, which runs throughout the series; and with a similar conclusive way in which the writer in his “Expedition of Champlain " established to the satisfaction of so thorough a writer as Parkman the site of the battle between Champlain and the Onondagas, he settles the question of the original Indian name of the Falls of Niagara. The thanks of his countrymen should be given him for his painstaking efforts in putting into imperishable form the early history of a national curiosity in which Americans justly take great pride. “After the discovery,” as we here read, “the Senecas appear to have given it the name of 'Det-gal-shokscs,' signifying the place of the High Fall.' They never call it Niagara, nor by any similar term, neither does that word signify in their language, 'thunders of waters,' as affirmed by Schoolcraft.” Indeed, it has been too much the habit of some of our American writers upon the aboriginals either to substitute a theory of their own in relation to the meaning of certain Indian names, or to announce a thing as a fact' before having sufficiently investigated the subject. Schoolcraft is not the only author who has fallen into this error. Cooper, also, in his fiction, has originated a mistake in this way in writing of Lake George—the original Indian name of which is An-dia-roc-te-giving the manufactured one Horicon, which by some has been imagined to mean “Clear Water," as the original name. This, as in the case of Mr. Schoolcraft's definition of Niagara, is certainly poetic, but has not the merit of historical truth, which is of much more importance. In this sketch, also, we again meet with La Salle, as, in his brigantine of ten tons, he doubles the point where Fort Niagara now stands and anchors in the sheltered. waters of that river. As his vessel entered that noble stream the grateful Franciscans chanted the Te Deum Laudamus. “The strains of that ancient hymn,” says Mr. Marshall, “ as they rose from the deck of the adventurous bark, and echoed from shore and forest, must have startled the watchful Senecas with the unusual sound as they gazed upon their strange visitors. Never before had white man ascended the river. On its borders the wild Indian still contended for supremacy with the scarce wilder beasts of the forest. Dense woods overhung the shore, except at the site of the present fort or near the portage above, where a few temporary cabins sheltered some fishing parties of the Senecas. All was yet primitive and unexplored."

In the “ Niagara Frontier" allusion is made to the origin of the name of Buffalo. Its first occurrence, we learn, is in the narrative of the captivity of the Gilbert family among the Senecas in 1780-81. It next appears in the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, held by Timothy Pickering. The Rev. Mr. Kirkland, in his journal of a visit to the Senecas in 1788, also speaks of their “ Village on the Buffalo;" from that time the word seems to have come into general use. The Holland Land Company endeavored to supplant it with the term “New Amsterdam," but the early village fathers of the town, with unusual good sense, rejected the substitute, together with the foreign names which the same company had imposed upon the streets. It would seem, however, that they were not so successful in getting rid of the foreign “signs” in that city, as is evident to any one passing down its “ Main” Street !

Of Mr. Marshall's private life much has been already written. He was one of the few of whom it can be said he was greatly beloved in life and deeply regretted in death. His intimate personal friend, Mr. Wm. C. Bryant, in his remarks before the Buffalo Bar, called together to do honor to Mr. Marshall's memory, said: “He sustained all the relations of life with exceeding grace and rare dignity ; judicious, loving, kind, he had a heart open as day to melting charity. He was the typical American gentleman -dignified without haughtiness, courteous but not subservient, with winning graciousness of manner and observant of all the sweet humanities—a loving heart in a manly bosom." In closing this brief tribute we may well add:

“ His walk through life was marked by every grace ;

His soul sincere, his friendship void of guile.
Long shall remembrance all his virtues trace,

And fancy picture his benignant smile."

William L. Store,

VOL. XII.-No. 4.-23

« 上一頁繼續 »