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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. À political interest grew up, and extended 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 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 mili. tary 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 peninsula of Michigan. The climate was repulsive ; but fishi 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, Mascouting, and Miamis
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
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 ;
oss 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 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,