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dwelt together, on a beautiful hill, in the centre of prairies and magnificent groves, that extended as far as the eye could reach, and where Alloüez had already raised the cross, which the savages had ornamented with brilliant skins and crimson belts, a thank-offering to the Great Manitou,—the ancients assembled in council to receive the pilgrims. “My companion," said Marquette, “is an envoy of France, to discover new countries ; and I am ambassador from God, to enlighten them with the gospel ;" and, offering presents, he begged two guides for the morrow. The wild men answered courteously, and gave in return a mat, to serve as a couch during the long voyage.
Behold, then, in 1673, on the tenth day of June, the meek, single-hearted, unpretending, illustrious Marquette, with Joliet for his associate, five Frenchmen as his companions, and two Algonquins as guides, lifting their two canoes on their backs, and walking across the narrow portage that divides the Fox River from the Wisconsin. They reach the water-shed ;=uttering a special prayer to the immaculate Virgin, they leave the streams that, flowing onwards, could have borne their greetings to the castle of Quebec ;-already they stand by the Wisconsin. “The guides returned,” says the gentle Marquette, “ leaving us alone, in this unknown land, in the hands of Providence. France and Christianity stood in the valley of the Mississippi. Embarking on the broad Wisconsin, the discoverers, as they sailed west, went solitarily down the stream, between alternate prairies and hill-sides, beholding neither man nor the wonted beasts of the forest : no sound broke the appalling silence, but the ripple of their canoe, and the lowing of the buffalo. In seven days, “ they entered happily the Great River, with a joy that could not be expressed ; and the two birch-bark canoes, raising their happy sails under new skies and to unknown breezes, floated down the calm magnificence of the ocean stream, over the broad, clear sand-bars, the resort of innumerable waterfowl,-gliding past islets that swelled from the bosom of the stream, with their tufts of massive thickets, and between the wide plains of Illinois and Iowa, all garlanded with majestic forests, or checkered by island groves, and the open vastness of the prairie.
About sixty leagues below the mouth of the Wisconsin, the western bank of the Mississippi bore on its sands the
trail of men ; a little footpath was discerned leading into a beautiful prairie ; and, leaving the canoes, Joliet and Marquette resolved alone to brave a meeting with the savages. After walking six miles, they beheld a village on the banks of a river, and two others on a slope, at a distance of a mile and a half from the first. The river was the Mou-in-gou-e-na, or Moingona, of which we have corrupted the name into Des Moines. Marquette and Joliet were the first white men who trod the soil of Iowa. Commending themselves to God, they uttered a loud cry. The Indians hear ; four old men advance slowly to meet them, bearing
the peace-pipe, brilliant with manycoloured plumes. “We are Illinois,” said they,—that is, when translated, “We are men ;
and they offered the calumet. An aged chief received them at his cabin with upraised hands, exclaiming, “How beautiful is the sun, Frenchman, when thou comest to visit us! Our whole village awaits thee; thou shalt enter in peace into all our dwellings.” And the pilgrims were followed by the devouring gaze of an astonished crowd. At the
great council, Marquette published to them the one true God, their Creator. He spoke, also, of the great captain of the French, the governor of Canada, who had chastised the Five Nations, and commanded peace; and he questioned them respecting the Mississippi and the tribes that possessed its banks. For the messengers, who announced the subjection of the Iroquois, a magnificent festival was prepared of hominy, and fish, and the choicest viands from the prairies.
After six days' delay, and invitations to new visits, the chieftain of the tribe, with hundreds of warriors, attended the strangers to their canoes; and, selecting a peace-pipe embellished with the head and neck of brilliant birds, and all feathered over with plumage of various hues, they hung round Marquette, the mysterious arbiter of peace and war, the sacred calumet, a safeguard among the nations.
The little group proceeded onwards. “I did not fear death,” says Marquette ; “I should have esteemed it the greatest happiness to have died for the glory of God." They passed the perpendicular rocks, which wore the appearance of monsters; they heard at a distance the noise of the waters of the Missouri, known to them by its Algonquin name of Pekitanoni; and, when they came to the most beautiful confluence of rivers in the world,
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 also observed that, in the land of the Chickasas, 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, 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 steries 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
Illinois, round Chicago. Two years afterwards, sail. 1675.
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 canoemen 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.
couraged by Talon and Courcelles, he explored Lake 1669.
Ontario, and ascended to Lake Erie ; and, when the French governor, some years after occupying the banks
of the Sorel, began to fortify the outlet of Lake 1675.
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 the