ePub 版


of the chafing waves into arches and bastions, caverns and towering walls, heaps of prostrate ruins, and erect columns crowned with fantastic entablatures. Landing on the south shore, he said mass,-thus consecrating the forests, which he claimed for a Christian king:

Sailing beyond the Bay of St. Theresa, and having yainly sought for a mass of pure copper, of which he had heard rumours, on the first day of October he arrived at the great village of the Chippewas, in the Bay of Che-goime-gon. It was at a moment when the young warriors were bent on a strife with the warlike Sioux. A grand council of ten or twelve neighbouring nations was held, to wrest the hatchet from the hands of the rash braves; and Alloüez was admitted to an audience before the vast assembly. In the name of Louis XIV. and his viceroy, he commanded peace, and offered commerce and an alliance against the Iroquois : the soldiers of France would smooth the path between the Chippewas and Quebec ; would brush the pirate canoes from the rivers ; would leave to the Five Nations no choice but between tran1665- quillity and destruction. On the shore of the bay, 1667. to which the abundant fisheries attracted crowds, a chapel soon rose, and the mission of the Holy Spirit was founded. There admiring throngs, who had never seen a European, came to gaze on the white man, and on the pictures which he displayed of the realms of hell and of the last judgment; there a choir of Chippewas were taught to chant the pater and the ave. During his long sojourn, he lighted the torch of faith for more than twenty different nations. The dwellers round the Sault, a band of

• the Outehibouec," as the Jesuits called the Chippewas, pitched their tents near his cabin for a month,

and received his instructions. The scattered Hurons and Ottawas, that roamed the deserts north of Lake Superior, appealed to his compassion, and, before his return, obtained his presence in their morasses. From the unexplored recesses of Lake Michigan came the Potawatomies; and these worshippers of the sun invited him to their homes. The Sacs and Foxes travelled on foot from their country, which abounded in deer, and beaver, and buffalo. The Illinois, also,

,-a hospitable race, unaccustomed to canoes, having no weapon but the bow and arrow,-came to rehearse their sorrows.

Their ancient glory and their numbers had been diminished by the Sioux, on the one side, and


[ocr errors]


the Iroquois, armed with muskets, on the other. Curiosity was roused by their tale of the noble river on which they dwelt, and which flowed towards the south.

* They had no forests, but, instead of them, vast prairies, where herds of deer and buffalo, and other animals, grazed on the tall grasses." They explained, also, the wonders of their peace-pipe, and declared it their custom to welcome the friendly stranger with shouts of joy.

“ Their country," said Alloüez, " is th9 best field for the gospel. Had I had leisure, I would have gone to their dwellings, to see with my own eyes all the good that was told me of them.”

Then, too, at the very extremity of the lake, the missionary met the wild, impassive warriors of the Sioux, who dwelt to the west of Lake Superior, in a land of prairies, with wild rice for food, and skins of beasts, instead of bark, for roofs to their cabins, on the banks of the Great River, of which Alloüez reported the name to be “Messipi.'

After residing for nearly two years chiefly on the southern margin of Lake Superior, and conn

nnecting his name imperishably with the progress of discovery in the

west, Alloüez returned to Quebec to urge the esta1667

blishment of permanent missions, to be accompanied by little colonies of French emigrants ;-and such was his own fervour, such the earnestness with which he was seconded, that, in two days, with another priest, Louis Nicolas, for his companion, he was on his way, returning to the mission at Che-goi-me-gon. The prevalence of peace favoured the progress

of French dominion : the company of the West Indies, resigning its monopoly of the fur-trade, gave an impulse to Canadian enterprise; a recruit of missionaries had arrived from France; and Claude Dablon and James Marquette repaired to the Chippewas at the Sault, to establish the mission of St. Mary: It is the oldest settlement begun by Europeans within the present limits of the commonwealth of Michigan.

For the succeeding years, the illustrious triumvirate, Alloüez, Dablon, and Marquette, were employed in confirming the influence of France in the vast regions that extend from Green Bay to the head of Lake Superior,mingling happiness with suffering, and winning enduring glory by their fearless perseverance.

For to what incle. mencies, from nature and from man, was each missionary


among the barbarians exposed! He defies the severity of climate, wading through water, or through snows, without the comfort of fire ; having no bread but pounded maize, and often no food but the unwholesome moss from the rocks ; labouring incessantly; exposed to live, as it were, without nourishment, to sleep without a resting-place, to travel far, and always incurring perils,—to carry his life in his hand, or rather daily, and oftener than every day, to hold it up as a target, expecting captivity, death from the tomahawk, tortures, fire. And yet the simplicity and the freedom of life in the wilderness had their charms The heart of the missionary would swell with delight, as, under a serene sky, and with a mild temperature, and breathing a pure air, he moved over waters as transparent as the most limpid fountain. Every encampment offered his attendants the pleasures of the chase. Like a patriarch, he dwelt beneath a tent; and of the land through which he walked, he was its master, in the length of it and in the breadth of it, profiting by its productions, without the embarrassment of ownership. How often was the pillow of stones like that where Jacob felt the presence of God! How often did the ancient oak, of which the centuries were untold, seem like the tree of Mamre, beneath which Abraham broke bread with angels! Each day gave the pilgrim a new site for his dwelling, which the industry of a few moments would erect, and for which nature pro. vided a floor of green, inlaid with flowers. On every side clustered beauties, which art had not spoiled, and could not imitate.

The purpose of discovering the Mississippi, of 1669. which the tales of the natives had published the magnificence, sprung from Marquette himself. He had resolved on attempting it, in the autumn of 1669 ; and, when delay intervened, from the necessity of employing himself at Che-goi-me-gon, which Alloüez had exchanged for a new 1669, mission at Green Bay, he selected a young Illinois as 1670. a companion, by whose instructions he became familiar with the dialect of that tribe.

Continued commerce with the French gave protec1670.

tion to the Algonquins of the west, and confirmed their attachment. Å political interest grew up, and ex. tended to Colbert and the ministry of Louis XIV. It became the fixed purpose of Talon, the intendant of the colony, to spread the power of France to the utmost bor. ders of Canada. To this end, Nicolas Perrot appeared as his agent in the west, to propose a congress of the nations at St. Mary's. The invitation reached the tribes of Lake Superior, and was carried even to the wandering hordes of the remotest north. Nor did the messenger neglect the south ; obtaining, at Green Bay, an escort of Potawatomies, he, the first of Europeans, repaired on the same mission of friendship to the Miamis at Chicago.

The day appointed for the unwonted spectacle of 1671. the

congress of nations arrived ; and, with Alloüez as his interpreter, St. Lusson, fresh from an excursion to Southern Canada,—that is, the borders of the Kennebec, where English habitations were already sown broadcast along the coast,-appeared at the Falls of St. Mary as the delegate of Talon. There are assembled the envoys of the wild republicans of the wilderness, and brilliantly-clad officers from the veteran armies of France. It was formally announced to the natives, gathered, as they were, from the head-springs of the St. Lawrence, the Mississippi, and the Red River, that they were placed under the protection of the French king. A cross of cedar was raised ; and, amidst the groves of maple and pine, of elm and hemlock, that are strangely intermingled on the beautiful banks of the St. Mary, where the bounding river lashes its waters into snowy whiteness, as they hurry past the dark evergreen of the tufted islands in the channel, the whole company of the French, bowing before the emblem of man's redemption, chanted to its glory a hymn of the seventh century

“ Vexilla Regis prodeunt ;

Fulget crucis mysterium.'
The banners of heaven's King advance;

The mystery of the cross shines forth. By the side of the cross, a cedar column was planted, and marked with the lilies of the Bourbons. Thus were the authority and the faith of France uplifted, in the presence of the ancient races of America, in the heart of our conti. nent. Yet this daring ambition of the servants of a military monarch was doomed to leave no abiding monument, this echo of the middle age to die away.

In the same year, Marquette gathered the wandering remains of one branch of the Huron nation round a chapel at Point St. Ignace, on the continent, north of the penin

[ocr errors]

sula of Michigan. The climate was repulsive ; but fishı abounded, at all seasons, in the strait; and the establishment was long maintained as the key to the west, and the convenient rendezvous of the remote Algonquins. Here, also, Marquette once more gained a place among the founders of Michigan.

The countries south of the village, founded by 1672.

Marquette, were explored by Allouez and Dablon, who bore the cross through Eastern Wisconsin, and the north of Illinois, visiting the Mascoutins and the Kickapoos on the Milwauke, and the Miamis, at the head of Lake Michigan. The young men of the latter tribe were intent on an excursion against the Sioux, and they prayed to the missionaries to give them the victory. After finishing the circuit, Alloüez, fearless of danger, extended his rambles to the cabins of the Foxes, on the river which bears their name.

The long-expected discovery of the Mississippi was 1673. at hand, to be accomplished by Joliet, of Quebec, of whom there is no record, but of this one excursion, that gives him immortality, and by Marquette, who, after years of pious assiduity to the poor wrecks of Hurons, whom he planted, near abundant fisheries, on the cold extremity of Michigan, entered, with equal humility, upon a career which exposed his life to perpetual danger, and, by its results, affected the destiny of nations.

The enterprise projected by Marquette had been favoured by Talon, the intendant of New France, who, on the point of quitting Canada, wished to signalize the last period of his stay, by ascertaining if the French, descending the great river of the central west, could bear the banner of France to the Pacific, or plant it, side by side with that of Spain, on the Gulf of Mexico.

A branch of the Potawatomies, familiar with Marquette as a missionary, heard with wonder the daring proposal.

Those distant nations,” said they, never spare the strangers; their mutual wars fill their borders with bands of warriors; the Great River abounds in monsters, which devour both men and canoes ; the excessive heats occasion death.”—“I shall gladly lay down my life for the salvation of souls," replied the good father; and the docile nation joined him in prayer.

At the last village on Fox River ever visited by the French, -where Kickapoos, Mascoutins, and Miamis


[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »