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the Tennessee river; and then, as new recruits were needed, and sails and cordage for the bark, in the month of March, with a musket and a pouch of powder and shot, with a blanket for his protection, and skins of which to make mocassins, he, with three companions, set off on foot for Fort Frontenac, to trudge through thickets and forests, to wade through marshes and melting snows, having for his pathway the ridge of highlands which divide the basin of the Ohio from that of the lakes, without drink, except water from the brooks ; without food, except supplies from the gun. Of his thoughts, on that long journey, no record exists.
During the absence of La Salle, Louis Hennepin, bearing the calumet, and accompanied by Du Gay and Michael d'Accault, as oarsmen, followed the Illinois to its junction with the Mississippi; and, invoking the guidance of St. Anthony of Padua, ascended the mighty stream far beyond the mouth of the Wisconsin-as he falsely held forth, far enough to discover its source. The great falls in the river, which he describes with reasonable accuracy, were named from the chosen patron of the expedition. On a tree, near the cataract, the Franciscan engraved the cross and the arms of France; and, after a summer's rambles, diversified by a short captivity among the Sioux, he and his companions returned, by way of the Wisconsin and Fox rivers, to the French mission at Green Bay.
In Illinois, Tonti was less fortunate. The quick perception of La Salle had selected, as the fit centre of his colony, Rock Fort, near a village of the Illinois a cliff rising two hundred feet above the river that flows at its base, in the centre of a lovely country of verdant prairies, bordered by distant slopes, richly tufted with oak and black walnut, and the noblest trees of the American forest. This rock Tonti was to fortify; and, during the attempt, men at Crèvecour deserted. Besides, the enemies of La Salle had instigated the Iroquois to hostility, and, in September, a large party of them, descending the river, threatened ruin to his enterprise. After a parley, Tonti and the few men that remained with him, excepting the aged Franciscan, Gabriel de la Ribourde, fled to Lake Michigan, where they found shelter with the Potawatomies. On the authority of a legend made up in Paris from the adventures of Tonti-a legend full of geographi. cal contradictions, of confused dates, and manifest fiction
some have placed this attack of the Iroquois on the Illinois in 1681. The narrative of Hennepin, the whole of which was printed in 1682, proves conclusively that it happened in 1680, as Frontenac, the governor of Canada, related at the time.
When, therefore, La Salle returned to Illinois, with large supplies of men and stores for rigging a brigantine, he found
es the post in Illinois deserted. Hence came the delay 1081. of another year, which was occupied in visiting Green Bay, and conducting traffic there ; in finding Tonti and his men, and perfecting a capacious barge. At last, in the early part of 1682, La Salle and his company descended the Mississippi to the sea. His sagacious eye icon discerned the magnificent resources of the country. 1082. As he floated down its flood; as he framed a cabin on the first Chickasa bluff; as he raised the cross by the Arkansas ; as he planted the arms of France near the Gulf of Mexico ;-he anticipated the future affluence of emigrants, and heard in the distance the footsteps of the advancing multitude that were coming to take possession of the valley. Meantime, he claimed the territory for France, and gave it the name of Louisiana. The year of the descent has been unnecessarily made a question; its accomplishment was known in Paris before the end of 1682.
This was the period of the proudest successes and largest ambition of Louis XIV. La Salle will return, it was said, to give to the court an ample account of the terrestrial paradise of America ;-there the king will at once call into being a flourishing empire. And, in fact,
. La Salle, remaining in the west till his exclusive ***• privilege had expired, returned to Quebec to embark for France.
Colbert, whose genius had awakened a national spirit in behalf of French industry, and who yet had rested his system of commerce and manufactures on no firmer basis than that of monopoly, was no more ; but Seignelay, his son, the minister for maritime affairs, listened confidingly to the expected messenger from the land which was regarded with pride as “the delight of the New World." 1684.
In the early months of 1684, the preparations for 34. colonizing Louisiana were perfected, and in July the fleet left Rochelle. Four vessels were destined for the Mississippi, bearing two hundred and eighty persons, to take possession of the valley. Of these, one hundred wero soldiers—an ill omen, for successful colonists always defend themselves : about thirty were volunteers, two of whom, young Cavalier, and the rash, passionate Moranget, were nephews to La Salle; of ecclesiastics, there were three Franciscans, and three of St. Sulpice, one of them being brother to La Salle; there were, moreover, mechanics of various skill; and the presence of young women proved the design of permanent colonization. But the mechanics were poor workmen, ill versed in their art; the soldiers, though they had for their commander Joutel, a man of courage and truth, and afterwards the historian of the grand enterprise, were themselves spiritless vagabonds, without discipline and without experience; the volunteers were restless with indefinite expectations; and, worst of all, the naval commander, Beaujen, was deficient in judgment, incapable of sympathy with the magnanimous heroism of La Salle, envious, self-willed, and foolishly proud.
Disasters lowered on the voyage at its commencement: a mast breaks; they return: the voyage begins anew, amidst variances between La Salle and the naval commander. In every instance on the record, the judgment of La Salle was right.
At St. Domingo, La Salle, delayed and cruelly thwarted by Beaujeu, saw already the shadow of his coming misfortunes. On leaving the island, they were more at variance than ever. They double Cape Antonio; they discover land on the continent; aware of the easterly direction of the Gulf Stream, they sail slowly in the
for opposite course. On the tenth day of January, 1085. 1685, they must have been near the mouth of the Mississippi; but La Salle thought not, and the fleet sailed by. Presently he perceived his error, and desired to return; but Beaujeu refused; and thus they sailed to the west, and still to the west, till they reached the Bay of Matagorda Weary of differences with Beaujeu, believing the streams that had their outlet in the bay might be either branches from the Mississippi, or lead to its vicinity, La Salle resolved to disembark. While he was busy in providing for the safety of his men, his storeship, on entering the harbour, was wrecked by the careless pilot. Others gazed listlessly; La Salle, calming the terrible energy of his grief at the sudden ruin of his
boundless hopes, borrowed boats from the fleet to save, at least, some present supplies. But with night came a gale of wind, and the vessel was dashed utterly in pieces. The stores, provided with the munificence that marked the plans of Louis XIV., lay scattered on the sea ; little could be saved. To aggravate despair, the savages came down to pilfer, and murdered two of the volunteers.
Terror pervaded the group of colonists: the evils of the wreck and the gale were charged to La Salle, as if he ought to have deepened the channel and controlled the winds : men deserted, and returned in the fleet. La Salle, who, by the powerful activity of his will, controlled the feeble and irritable persons that surrounded him, and even censured their inefficiency, their treachery, and their disobedience, with angry vehemence, was yet, in his struggle against adversity, magnanimously tranquil. The fleet sets sail, and there remain on the beach of Matagorda a desponding company of about two hundred and thirty, huddled together in a fort constructed of the fragments of their shipwrecked vessel, having no reliance but in the constancy and elastic genius of La Salle.
Ascending the small stream at the west of the bay, in the vain hope of finding the Mississippi, La Salle selected a site on the open ground for the establishment of a fortified post. The spot, which he named St. Louis, was a gentle slope, which showed, towards the west and southwest, the boundless expansion of the beautiful landscape, verdant with luxuriant grasses, and dotted with groves of forest-trees ; south and east was the Bay of Matagorda, skirted with prairies. The waters abounded with fish, and invited crowds of wild fowl; the fields were alive with deer, and bisons, and wild turkeys, and the dangerous rattlesnake, bright inhabitant of the meadows. There, under the suns of June, with timber felled in an inland grove, and dragged for a league over the prairie grass, the colonists prepared to build a shelter, La Salle being the architect, and himself marking the beams, and tenons, and mortises. With parts of the wreck, brought up in canoes, a second house was framed, and of each the roof was covered with buffalo-skins.
This is the settlement which made Texas a part of Louisiana. In its sad condition, it had yet saved from the wreck a good supply of arms, and bars of iron for the forge. Even now, this colony posseesed, from the bounty of Louis XIV., more than was contributed by all the English monarchs together for the twelve English colonies on the Atlantic. Its number still exceeded that of the colony of Smith, in Virginia, or of those who embarked in the May. flower. France took possession of Texas; her arms were carved on its stately forest-trees ; and by no treaty, or public document, except the general cessions of Louisiana, did she ever after relinquish the right to the province as colonized under her banners, and made still more surely a part of her territory, because the colony found there its grave.
Excursions into the vicinity of the Fort St. Louis had discovered nothing but the luxuriant productiveness of the country. La Salle proposed to seek the Mississippi in canoes; and, after an absence of about four
see months, and the loss of twelve or thirteen men, he 1080. returned in rags, having failed to find “ the fatal river," and yet renewing hope by his presence. In April, he plunged into the wilderness, with twenty companions, lured towards New Mexico by the brilliant fictions of the rich mines of Sainte Barbe, the El Dorado of Northern Mexico. There, among the Cenis, he succeeded in obtaining five horses, and supplies of maize and beans : he found no mines, but a country unsurpassed for beauty of climate and exuberant fertility.
On his return, he heard of the wreck of the little bark which had remained with the colony : he heard it un. moved. Heaven and man seemed his enemies : and, with the giant energy of an indomitable will, having lost his hopes of fortune, his hopes of fame, with his colony diminished to about forty, among whom discontent had given birth to plans of crime, with no Europeans nearer than the river Panuco, no French nearer than Illinois, he resolved to travel on foot to his countrymen at the north, and return from Canada to renew his colony in Texas.
Leaving twenty men at Fort St. Louis, in January, 1087. 1687, La Salle, with sixteen men, departed for Canada. Lading their baggage on the wild horses from the Cenis, which found their pasture everywhere in the prairies; in shoes made of green buffalo-hides ; for want of other paths, following the track of the buffalo, and using skins as the only shelter against rain ; winning favour with the savages by the confiding courage of their leader ;-- they ascendod the streams towards the first