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where the swifter Missouri rushes like a conqueror into the calmer Mississippi, dragging it, as it were, hastily to the sea,--the good Marquette resolved in his heart, anticipating Lewis and Clarke, one day to ascend the mighty river to its source; to cross the ridge that divides the oceans, and, descending a westerly-flowing stream, to publish the gospel to all the people of this New World.
In a little less than forty leagues, the canoes floated past the Ohio, which was then, and long afterwards, called the Wabash. Its banks were tenanted by numerous villages of the peaceful Shawnees, who quailed under the incur. sions of the Iroquois.
The thick canes begin to appear so close and strong, that the buffalo could not break through them; the insects become intolerable; as a shelter against the suns of July, the sails are folded into an awning. The prairies vanish; and forests of whitewood, admirable for their vastness and height, crowd even to the skirts of the pebbly shore. It is also observed that, in the land of the Chick. asas, the Indians have guns.
Near the latitude of 33 degrees, on the western bank of the Mississippi, stood the village of Mitchigamea, in a region that had not been visited by Europeans since the days of De Soto. “Now," thought Marquette, “we must, indeed, ask the aid of the Virgin.” Armed with bows and arrows, with clubs, axes, and bucklers, amidst continual whoops, the natives, bent on war, embark in vast canoes made out of the trunks of hollow trees; but, at the sight of the mysterious peace-pipe held aloft, God touched the hearts of the old men, who checked the impetuosity of the young; and, throwing their bows and quivers into the canoes, as a token of peace, they prepared a hospitable welcome.
The next day, a long wooden canoe, containing ten men, escorted the discoverers, for eight or ten leagues, to the village of Akansea, the limit of their voyage. They had left the region of the Algonquins, and, in the midst of the Sioux and Chickasas, could speak only by an interpreter. A half-league above Akansea, they were met by two boats, in one of which stood the commander, holding in his hand the peace-pipe, and singing as he drew near. After offering the pipe, he gave bread of maize. The wealth of his tribe consisted in buffalo-skins; their weapons were axes of steel,-a proof of commerce with Europeans. Thus had our travellers descended below the entrance of the Arkansas, to the genial climes that have almost no winter but rains, beyond the bound of the Huron and Algonquin languages, to the vicinity of the Gulf of Mexico, and to tribes of Indians that had obtained European arms by traffic with Spaniards or with Virginia.
So, having spoken of God and the mysteries of the Catholic faith; having become certain that the father of rivers went not to the ocean east of Florida, nor yet to the Gulf of California, Marquette and Joliet left Akansea, and ascended the Mississippi.
At the 38th degree of latitude, they entered the river Illinois, and discovered a country without its paragon for the fertility of its beautiful prairies, covered with buffaloes and stags, for the loveliness of its rivulets, and the prodigal abundance of wild ducks and swans, and of a species of parrots and wild turkeys. The tribe of Illinois, that tenanted its banks, entreated Marquette to come and reside among them. One of their chiefs, with their young men, conducted the party, by way of Chicago, to Lake Michigan ; and, before the end of September, all were safe in Green Bay.
Joliet returned to Quebec to announce the discovery, of which the fame, through Talon, quickened the ambition of Colbert: the unaspiring Marquette remained to preach the gospel to the Miamis, who dwelt in the north of en Illinois, round Chicago. Two years afterwards, sail. 1078. ing from Chicago to Mackinaw, he entered a little river in Michigan. Erecting an altar, he said mass, after the rites of the Catholic church ; then, begging the men who conducted his canoe to leave him alone for a half, hour,
“ in the darkling wood,
At the end of the half-hour, they went to seek him, and he was no more. The good missionary, discoverer of a world, had fallen asleep on the margin of the stream that bears his name. Near its mouth, the canoe. men dug his grave in the sand. Ever after, the forestrangers, if in danger on Lake Michigan, would invoke his name. The people of the west will build his monument.
At the death of Marquette, there dwelt at the outlet of Lake Ontario, Robert Cavalier de la Salle. Of a good family, he had renounced his inheritance by entering the seminary of the Jesuits. After profiting by the discipline of their schools, and obtaining their praise for purity and diligence, he had taken his discharge from the fraternity; and, with no companions but poverty and a boundless spirit of enterprise, about the year 1667, when the attention of all France was directed towards Canada, the young adventurer embarked for fame and fortune in New France. Established, at first, as a fur-trader, at La Chine, and en
we couraged by Talon and Courcelles, he explored Lake 1009. Ontario, and ascended to Lake Erie ; and, when the French governor, some years after occupying the banks less of the Sorel, began to fortify the outlet of Lake 107*• Ontario, La Salle repairing to France, and, aided by Frontenac, obtained the rank of nobility, and the grant of Fort Frontenac, now the village of Kingston, on condition of maintaining the fortress. The grant was, in fact, a concession of a large domain and the exclusive traffic with the Five Nations. 1675 In the portion of the wilderness of which the young 1677. man was proprietary, cultivated fields proved the fertility of the soil ; his herd of cattle multiplied; groups of Iroquois built their cabins in the environs; a few French settled under his shelter; Franciscans, now tolerated in Canada, renewed their missions under his auspices :-the noble forests invited the construction of log cabins, and vessels with decks; and no canoe-men in Canada could shoot a rapid with such address as the pupils of La Salle. Fortune was within his grasp. But Joliet, as he descended from the upper lakes, had passed by the bastions of Fort Frontenac-had spread the news of the brilliant career of discoveries opened in the west. In the solitudes of Upper Canada, the secluded adventurer had inflamed his imagination by reading the voyages of Columbus, and the history of the rambles of De Soto; and the Iroquois had, moreover, described the course of the Ohio. Thus the young enthusiast framed plans of colonization in the south-west, and of commerce between Europe and the Mississippi. Once more he repaired to France; and, from the policy of Colbert, who instinctively listened to the vast schemes which his heroic sagacity had planned, and the special favour of Seignelay, Colbert's son, he obtained, with ths monopoly of the traffic in buffalo-skins, a commission for sem perfecting the discovery of the Great River. With 1078. Tonti, an Italian veteran, as his lieutenant, and a recruit of mechanics and mariners ; with anchors, and sails, and cordage for rigging a ship, and stores of merchandise for traffic with the natives; with swelling hopes and a boundless ambition, La Salle, in the autumn of 1678, returned to Fort Frontenac. Before winter, “a wooden canoe" of ten tons, the first that ever sailed into Niagara River, bore a part of his company to the vicinity of the falls ; at Niagara, a trading-house was established ; in the mouth of Tonawanta Creek, the work of shipbuilding began ; Tonti and the Franciscan Hennepin, venturing among the Senecas, established relations of amity,—while La Salle himself, skilled in the Indian dialects, was now urging forward the ship-builders, now gathering furs at his magazine, now gazing at the mighty cataract,-fittest
emblem of eternity,-- now sending forward a detach1079. ment into the country of the Illinois, to prepare the way for his reception.
Under the auspices of La Salle, Europeans first pitched a tent at Niagara; it was he who, in 1679, amidst the salvo from his little artillery, and the chanting of the Te Deum, and the astonished gaze of the Senecas, first launched a wooden vessel, a bark of sixty tons, on the upper Niagara river, and in the Griffin, freighted with the colony of fur-traders for the valley of the Mississippi, on the seventh day of August, unfurled a sail to the breezes of Lake Erie. Indifferent to the malignity of those who envied his genius, or were injured by his special privileges, La Salle, first of mariners, sailed over Lake Erie and between the verdant isles of the majestic Detroit; debated planting a colony on its banks; gave a name to Lake St. Clair, from the day on which he traversed its shallow waters; and, after escaping from storms on Lake Huron, and planting a trading-house at Mackinaw, he cast anchor in Green Bay. Here, having despatched his brig to Ni. agara River, with the richest cargo of furs, he himself, with his company in scattered groups, repaired in bark canoes to the head of Lake Michigan; and at the mouth of the St. Joseph's, in that peninsula where Alloüez had already gathered a village of Miamis, awaiting the return of the Griffin, he constructed the trading-house, with palisades, known as the Fort of the Miamis. It marks his careful
forethought, that he sounded the mouth of the St. Joseph's, and raised buoys to mark the channel. But of his vessel, on which his fortunes so much depended, no tidings came. Weary of delay, he resolved to penetrate Illinois, and, leaving ten men to guard the Fort of the Miamis, La Salle himself, with Hennepin and two other Franciscans, with Tonti and about thirty followers, ascended the St. Joseph's, and, by a short portage over bogs and swamps made dangerous by a snow-storm, entered the Kankakee. Descending its narrow stream before the end of December, the little company had reached the site of an Indian village on the Illinois, probably not far from Ottawa, in La Salle county. The tribe was absent, passing the winter in the chase.
On the banks of Lake Peoria, Indians appeared : 1080. they were Illinois ; and, desirous to obtain axes and fire-arms, they offered the calumet, and agreed to an alliance :-if the Iroquois should renew their invasions, they would claim the French as allies. They heard with joy that colonies were to be established in their territory; they described the course of the Mississippi, and they were willing to guide the strangers to its mouth. The spirit and prudence of La Salle, who was the life of the enterprise, won the friendship of the natives. But clouds lowered over his path: the Griffin, it seemed certain, was wrecked, thus delaying his discoveries, as well as impairing his fortunes; his men began to despond: alone, of himself, he toiled to revive their courage-there could be no safety but in union ; “ None,” he added, “shall stay after the spring, unless from choice.” But fear and discontent pervaded the company, and when La Salle planned and began to build a fort on the banks of the Illinois, four days' journey, it is said, below Lake Peoria, thwarted by destiny, and almost despairing, he named the fort Crèvecæur.
Yet here the immense power of his will appeared. Dependent on himself, fifteen hundred miles from the nearest French settlement, impoverished, pursued by enemies at Quebec, and in the wilderness surrounded by uncertain nations, he inspired his men with resolution to saw trees into planks and prepare a bark; he despatched Louis Hennepin to explore the Upper Mississippi ; he questioned the Illinois and their southern captives on the course of the Mississippi; he formed conjectures respecting VOL. II.