Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys


By Francis Parkman




There was a gentleman of Mont-de-Marsan, Dominique de Gourgues, a
soldier of ancient birth and high renown. It is not certain that he was
a Huguenot. The Spanish annalist calls him a "terrible heretic;" but the
French Jesuit, Charlevoix, anxious that the faithful should share the
glory of his exploits, affirms that, like his ancestors before him, he
was a good Catholic. If so, his faith sat lightly upon him; and,
Catholic or heretic, he hated the Spaniards with a mortal hate. Fighting
in the Italian wars,--for from boyhood he was wedded to the sword,--he
had been taken prisoner by them near Siena, where he had signalized
himself by a fiery and determined bravery. With brutal insult, they
chained him to the oar as a galley slave. After he had long endured this
ignominy the Turks captured the vessel and carried her to
Constantinople. It was but a change of tyrants but, soon after, while
she was on a cruise, Gourgues still at the oar, a galley of the knights
of Malta hove in sight, bore down on her, recaptured her, and set the
prisoner free. For several years after, his restless spirit found
employment in voyages to Africa, Brazil, and regions yet more remote.
His naval repute rose high, but his grudge against the Spaniards still
rankled within him; and when, returned from his rovings, he learned the
tidings from Florida, his hot Gascon blood boiled with fury.

The honor of France had been foully stained, and there was none to wipe
away the shame. The faction-ridden King was dumb. The nobles who
surrounded him were in the Spanish interest. Then, since they proved
recreant, he, Dominique de Gourgues, a simple gentleman, would take upon
him to avenge the wrong, and restore the dimmed lustre of the French
name. He sold his inheritance, borrowed money from his brother, who held
a high post in Guienne, and equipped three small vessels, navigable by
sail or oar. On board he placed a hundred arquebusiers and eighty
sailors, prepared to fight on land, if need were. The noted Blaise de
Montluc, then lieutenant for the King in Guienne, gave him a commission
to make war on the negroes of Benin,--that is, to kidnap them as
slaves, an adventure then held honorable.

His true design was locked within his own breast. He mustered his
followers,--not a few of whom were of rank equal to his own, feasted
them, and, on the twenty-second of August, 1567, sailed from the mouth
of the Charente. Off Cape Finisterre, so violent a storm buffeted his
ships that his men clamored to return; but Gourgues's spirit prevailed.
He bore away for Africa, and, landing at the Rio del Oro, refreshed and
cheered them as he best might. Thence he sailed to Cape Blanco, where
the jealous Portuguese, who had a fort in the neighborhoods set upon him
three negro chiefs. Gourgues beat them off, and remained master of the
harbor; whence, however, he soon voyaged onward to Cape Verd, and,
steering westward, made for the West Indies. Here, advancing from island
to island, he came to Hispaniola, where, between the fury of a hurricane
at sea and the jealousy of the Spaniards on shore, he was in no small
jeopardy,--"the Spaniards", exclaims the indignant journalist, "who
think that this New World was made for nobody but them, and that no
other living man has a right to move or breathe here!" Gourgues landed,
however, obtained the water of which he was in need, and steered for
Cape San Antonio, at the western end of Cuba. There he gathered his
followers about him, and addressed them with his fiery Gascon eloquence.
For the first time, he told them his true purpose, inveighed against
Spanish cruelty, and painted, with angry rhetoric, the butcheries of
Fort Caroline and St. Augustine.

"What disgrace," he cried, "if such an insult should pass unpunished!
What glory to us if we avenge it! To this I have devoted my fortune. I
relied on you. I thought you jealous enough of your country's glory to
sacrifice life itself in a cause like this. Was I deceived? I will show
you the way; I will be always at your head; I will bear the brunt of the
danger. Will you refuse to follow me?"

At first his startled hearers listened in silence; but soon the passions
of that adventurous age rose responsive to his words. The combustible
French nature burst into flame. The enthusiasm of the soldiers rose to
such a pitch that Gourgues had much ado to make them wait till the moon
was full before tempting the perils of the Bahama Channel. His time came
at length. The moon rode high above the lonely sea, and, silvered in its
light, the ships of the avenger held their course.

Meanwhile, it had fared ill with the Spaniards in Florida; the good-will
of the Indians had vanished. The French had been obtrusive and vexatious
guests; but their worst trespasses had been mercy and tenderness
compared to the daily outrage of the new-comers. Friendship had changed
to aversion, aversion to hatred, and hatred to open war. The forest
paths were beset; stragglers were cut off; and woe to the Spaniard who
should venture after nightfall beyond call of the outposts.

Menendez, however, had strengthened himself in his new conquest. St.
Augustine was well fortified; Fort Caroline, now Fort San Mateo, was
repaired; and two redoubts, or small forts, were thrown up to guard the
mouth of the River of May,--one of them near the present lighthouse at
Mayport, and the other across the river on Fort George Island. Thence,
on an afternoon in early spring, the Spaniards saw three sail steering
northward. They suspected no enemy, and their batteries boomed a salute.
Gourgues's ships replied, then stood out to sea, and were lost in the
shades of evening.

They kept their course all night, and, as day broke, anchored at the
mouth of a river, the St. Mary's, or the Santilla, by their reckoning
fifteen leagues north of the River of May. Here, as it grew light,
Gourgues saw the borders of the sea thronged with savages, armed and
plumed for war. They, too, had mistaken the strangers for Spaniards, and
mustered to meet their tyrants at the landing. But in the French ships
there was a trumpeter who had been long in Florida, and knew the Indians
well. He went towards them in a boat, with many gestures of friendship;
and no sooner was he recognized, than the naked crowd, with yelps of
delight, danced for joy along the sands. Why had he ever left them? they
asked; and why had he not returned before? The intercourse thus
auspiciously begun was actively kept up. Gourgues told the principal
chief,--who was no other than Satouriona, once the ally of the French,
--that he had come to visit them, make friendship with them, and bring
them presents. At this last announcement, so grateful to Indian ears the
dancing was renewed with double zeal. The next morning was named for a
grand council, and Satouriona sent runners to summon all Indians within
call; while Gourgues, for safety, brought his vessels within the mouth
of the river.

Morning came, and the woods were thronged with warriors. Gourgues and
his soldiers landed with martial pomp. In token of mutual confidence,
the French laid aside their arquebuses, and the Indians their bows and
arrows. Satouriona came to meet the strangers, and seated their
commander at his side, on a wooden stool, draped and cushioned with the
gray Spanish moss. Two old Indians cleared the spot of brambles, weeds,
and grass; and, when their task was finished, the tribesmen took their
places, ring within ring, standing, sitting, and crouching on the
ground,--a dusky concourse, plumed in festal array, waiting with grave
visages and intent eyes. Gourgues was about to speak, when the chief,
who, says the narrator, had not learned French manners, anticipated him,
and broke into a vehement harangue, denouncing the cruelty of the

Since the French fort was taken, he said, the Indians had not had one
happy day. The Spaniards drove them from their cabins, stole their corn,
ravished their wives and daughters, and killed their children; and all
this they had endured because they loved the French. There was a French
boy who had escaped from the massacre at the fort; they had found him in
the woods and though the Spaniards, who wished to kill him, demanded
that they should give him up, they had kept him for his friends.

"Look!" pursued the chief, "here he is! "--and he brought forward a
youth of sixteen, named Pierre Debre, who became at once of the greatest
service to the French, his knowledge of the Indian language making him
an excellent interpreter.

Delighted as he was at this outburst against the Spaniards, Gourgues did
not see fit to display the full extent of his satisfaction. He thanked
the Indians for their good-will, exhorted them to continue in it, and
pronounced an ill-merited eulogy on the greatness and goodness of his
King. As for the Spaniards, he said, their day of reckoning was at hand;
and, if the Indians had been abused for their love of the French, the
French would be their avengers. Here Satouriona forgot his dignity, and
leaped up for joy.

"What!" he cried, "will you fight the Spaniards?"

"I came here," replied Gourgues, "only to reconnoitre the country and
make friends with you, and then go back to bring more soldiers; but,
when I hear what you are suffering from them, I wish to fall upon them
this very day, and rescue you from their tyranny." All around the ring a
clamor of applauding voices greeted his words.

"But you will do your part," pursued the Frenchman; "you will not leave
us all the honor."

"We will go," replied Satouriona, "and die with you, if need be."

"Then, if we fight, we ought to fight at once. How soon can you have
your warriors ready to march?"

The chief asked three days for preparation. Gourgues cautioned him to
secrecy, lest the Spaniards should take alarm.

"Never fear," was the answer; "we hate them more than you do."

Then came a distribution of gifts,--knives, hatchets, mirrors, bells,
and beads,--while the warrior rabble crowded to receive them, with
eager faces and outstretched arms. The distribution over, Gourgues asked
the chiefs if there was any other matter in which he could serve them.
On this, pointing to his shirt, they expressed a peculiar admiration for
that garment, and begged each to have one, to be worn at feasts and
councils during life, and in their graves after death. Gourgues
complied; and his grateful confederates were soon stalking about him,
fluttering in the spoils of his wardrobe.

To learn the strength and position of the Spaniards, Gourgues now sent
out three scouts; and with them went Olotoraca, Satourioria's nephew, a
young brave of great renown.

The chief, eager to prove his good faith, gave as hostages his only
surviving son and his favorite wife. They were sent on board the ships,
while the Indians dispersed to their encampments, with leaping,
stamping, dancing, and whoops of jubilation.

The day appointed came, and with it the savage army, hideous in
war-paint, and plumed for battle. The woods rang back their songs and
yells, as with frantic gesticulation they brandished their war-clubs and
vaunted their deeds of prowess. Then they drank the black drink, endowed
with mystic virtues against hardship and danger; and Gourgues himself
pretended to swallow the nauseous decoction.[FN#25]

These ceremonies consumed the day. It was evening before the allies
filed off into their forests, and took the path for the Spanish forts.
The French, on their part, were to repair by sea to the rendezvous.
Gourgues mustered and addressed his men. It was needless: their ardor
was at fever height. They broke in upon his words, and demanded to be
led at once against the enemy. Francois Bourdelais, with twenty sailors,
was left with the ships, and Gourgues affectionately bade him farewell.

"If I am slain in this most just enterprise," he said, "I leave all in
your charge, and pray you to carry back my soldiers to France."

There were many embracings among the excited Frenchmen,--many
sympathetic tears from those who were to stay behind,--many messages
left with them for wives, children, friends, and mistresses; and then
this valiant band pushed their boats from shore. It was a hare-brained
venture, for, as young Debre had assured them, the Spaniards on the
River of May were four hundred in number, secure behind their ramparts.

Hour after hour the sailors pulled at the oar. They glided slowly by the
sombre shores in the shimmering moonlight, to the sound of the surf and
the moaning pine-trees. In the gray of the morning, they came to the
mouth of a river, probably the Nassau; and here a northeast wind set in
with a violence that almost wrecked their boats. Their Indian allies
were waiting on the bank, but for a while the gale delayed their
crossing. The bolder French would lose no time, rowed through the
tossing waves, and, landing safely, left their boats, and pushed into
the forest. Gourgues took the lead, in breastplate and back-piece. At
his side marched the young chief Olotoraca, with a French pike in his
hand; and the files of arquebuse-men and armed sailors followed close
behind. They plunged through swamps, hewed their way through brambly
thickets and the matted intricacies of the forests, and, at five in the
afternoon, almost spent with fatigue and hunger, came to a river or
inlet of the sea, not far from the first Spanish fort. Here they found
three hundred Indians waiting for them.

Tired as he was, Gourgues would not rest. He wished to attack at
daybreak, and with ten arquebusiers and his Indian guide he set out to
reconnoitre. Night closed upon him. It was a vain task to struggle on,
in pitchy darkness, among trunks of trees, fallen logs, tangled vines,
and swollen streams. Gourgues returned, anxious and gloomy. An Indian
chief approached him, read through the darkness his perturbed look, and
offered to lead him by a better path along the margin of the sea.
Gourgues joyfully assented, and ordered all his men to march. The
Indians, better skilled in wood-craft, chose the shorter course through
the forest.

The French forgot their weariness, and pressed on with speed. At dawn
they and their allies met on the bank of a stream, probably Sister
Creek, beyond which, and very near, was the fort. But the tide was in,
and they tried in vain to cross. Greatly vexed,--for he had hoped to
take the enemy asleep,--Gourgues withdrew his soldiers into the forest,
where they were no sooner ensconced than a drenching rain fell, and they
had much ado to keep their gun-matches burning. The light grew fast.
Gourgues plainly saw the fort, the defences of which seemed slight and
unfinished. He even saw the Spaniards at work within. A feverish
interval elapsed, till at length the tide was out,--so far, at least,
that the stream was fordable. A little higher up, a clump of trees lay
between it and the fort. Behind this friendly screen the passage was
begun. Each man tied his powder-flask to his steel cap, held his
arquebuse above his head with one hand, and grasped his sword with the
other. The channel was a bed of oysters. The sharp shells cut their feet
as they waded through. But the farther bank was gained. They emerged
from the water, drenched, lacerated, and bleeding, but with unabated
mettle. Gourgues set them in array under cover of the trees. They stood
with kindling eyes, and hearts throbbing, but not with fear. Gourgues
pointed to the Spanish fort, seen by glimpses through the boughs. "Look
I" he said, "there are the robbers who have stolen this land from our
King; there are the murderers who have butchered our countrymen!" With
voices eager, fierce, but half suppressed, they demanded to be led on.

Gourgues gave the word. Cazenove, his lientenant, with thirty men,
pushed for the fort gate; he himself, with the main body, for the
glacis. It was near noon; the Spaniards had just finished their meal,
and, says the narrative, "were still picking their teeth," when a
startled cry rang in their ears:--"To arms! to arms! The French are
coming! The French are coming!"

It was the voice of a cannoneer who had that moment mounted the rampart
and seen the assailants advancing in unbroken ranks, with heads lowered
and weapons at the charge. He fired his cannon among them. He even had
time to load and fire again, when the light-limbed Olotoraca bounded
forward, ran up the glacis, leaped the unfinished ditch, and drove his
pike through the Spaniard from breast to back. Gourgues was now on the
glacis, when he heard Cazenove shouting from the gate that the Spaniards
were escaping on that side. He turned and led his men thither at a run.
In a moment, the fugitives, sixty in all, were enclosed between his
party and that of his lieutenant. The Indians, too, came leaping to the
spot. Not a Spaniard escaped. All were cut down but a few, reserved by
Gourgues for a more inglorious end.

Meanwhile the Spaniards in the other fort, on the opposite shore,
cannonaded the victors without ceasing. The latter turned four captured
guns against them. One of Gourgues's boats, a very large one, had been
brought along-shore, and, entering it with eighty soldiers, he pushed
for the farther bank. With loud yells, the Indians leaped into the
river, which is here about three fourths of a mile wide. Each held his
bow and arrows aloft in one hand, while he swam with the other. A panic
seized the garrison as they saw the savage multitude. They broke out of
the fort and fled into the forest. But the French had already landed;
and, throwing themselves in the path of the fugitives, they greeted them
with a storm of lead. The terrified wretches recoiled; but flight was
vain. The Indian whoop rang behind them, and war-clubs and arrows
finished the work. Gourgues's utmost efforts saved but fifteen, not out
of mercy, but from a refinement of vengeance.

The next day was Quasimodo Sunday, or the Sunday after Easter. Gourgues
and his men remained quiet, making ladders for the assault on Fort San
Mateo. Meanwhile the whole forest was in arms, and, far and near, the
Indians were wild with excitement. They beset the Spanish fort till not
a soldier could venture out. The garrison, aware of their danger, though
ignorant of its extent, devised an expedient to gain information; and
one of them, painted and feathered like an Indian, ventured within
Gourgues's outposts. He himself chanced to be at hand, and by his side
walked his constant attendant, Olotoraca. The keen-eyed young savage
pierced the cheat at a glance. The spy was seized, and, being examined,
declared that there were two hundred and sixty Spaniards in San Mateo,
and that they believed the French to be two thousand, and were so
frightened that they did not know what they were doing.

Gourgues, well pleased, pushed on to attack them. On Monday evening he
sent forward the Indians to ambush themselves on both sides of the fort.
In the morning he followed with his Frenchmen; and, as the glittering
ranks came into view, defiling between the forest and the river, the
Spaniards opened on them with culverins from a projecting bastion. The
French took cover in the woods with which the hills below and behind the
fort were densely overgrown. Here, himself unseen, Gourgues could survey
whole extent of the defences, and he presently descried a strong party
of Spaniards issuing from their works, crossing the ditch, and advancing
to reconnoitre.

On this, he sent Cazenove, with a detachment, to station himself at a
point well hidden by trees on the flank of the Spaniards, who, with
strange infatuation, continued their advance. Gourgues and his followers
pushed on through the thickets to meet them. As the Spaniards reached
the edge of the open ground, a deadly fire blazed in their faces, and,
before the smoke cleared, the French were among them, sword in hand. The
survivors would have fled; but Cazenove's detachment fell upon their
rear, and all were killed or taken.

When their comrades in the fort beheld their fate, a panic seized them.
Conscious of their own deeds, perpetrated on this very spot, they could
hope no mercy, and their terror multiplied immeasurably the numbers of
their enemy. They abandoned the fort in a body, and fled into the woods
most remote from the French. But here a deadlier foe awaited them; for a
host of Indians leaped up from ambush. Then rose those hideous war-cries
which have curdled the boldest blood and blanched the manliest cheek.
The forest warriors, with savage ecstasy, wreaked their long arrears of
vengeance, while the French hastened to the spot, and lent their swords
to the slaughter. A few prisoners were saved alive; the rest were slain;
and thus did the Spaniards make bloody atonement for the butchery of
Fort Caroline.

But Gourgues's vengeance was not yet appeased. Hard by the fort, the
trees were pointed out to him on which Menendez had hanged his captives,
and placed over them the inscription, "Not as to Frenchmen, but as to

Gourgues ordered the Spanish prisoners to be led thither.

"Did you think," he sternly said, as the pallid wretches stood ranged
before him, "that so vile a treachery, so detestable a cruelty, against
a King so potent and a nation so generous, would go unpunished? I, one
of the humblest gentlemen among my King's subjects, have charged myself
with avenging it. Even if the Most Christian and the Most Catholic Kings
had been enemies, at deadly war, such perfidy and extreme cruelty would
still have been unpardonable. Now that they are friends and close
allies, there is no name vile enough to brand your deeds, no punishment
sharp enough to requite them. But though you cannot suffer as you
deserve, you shall suffer all that an enemy can honorably inflict, that
your example may teach others to observe the peace and alliance which
you have so perfidiously violated."

They were hanged where the French had hung before them; and over them
was nailed the inscription, burned with a hot iron on a tablet of pine,
"Not as to Spaniards, but as to Traitors, Robbers, and Murderers."

Gourgues's mission was fulfilled. To occupy the country had never been
his intention; nor was it possible, for the Spaniards were still in
force at St. Augustine. His was a whirlwind visitation,--to ravage,
ruin, and vanish. He harangued the Indians, and exhorted them to
demolish the fort. They fell to the work with eagerness, and in less
than a day not one stone was left on another.

Gourgues returned to the forts at the mouth of the river, destroyed them
also, and took up his march for his ships. It was a triumphal
procession. The Indians thronged around the victors with gifts of fish
and game; and an old woman declared that she was now ready to die, since
she had seen the French once more.

The ships were ready for sea. Gourgues bade his disconsolate allies
farewell, and nothing would content them but a promise to return soon.
Before embarking, he addressed his own men:--"My friends, let us give
thanks to God for the success He has granted us. It is He who saved us
from tempests; it is He who inclined the hearts of the Indians towards
us; it is He who blinded the understanding of the Spaniards. They were
four to one, in forts well armed and provisioned. Our right was our only
strength; and yet we have conquered. Not to our own swords, but to God
only, we owe our victory. Then let us thank Him, my friends; let us
never forget His favors; and let us pray that He may continue them,
saving us from dangers, and guiding us safely home. Let us pray, too,
that He may so dispose the hearts of men that our perils and toils may
find favor in the eyes of our King and of all France, since all we have
done was done for the King's service and for the honor of our country."

Thus Spaniards and Frenchmen alike laid their reeking swords on God's

Gourgues sailed on the third of May, and, gazing back along their
foaming wake, the adventurers looked their last on the scene of their
exploits. Their success had cost its price. A few of their number had
fallen, and hardships still awaited the survivors. Gourgues, however,
reached Rochelle on the day of Pentecost, and the Huguenot citizens
greeted him with all honor. At court it fared worse with him. The King,
still obsequious to Spain, looked on him coldly and askance. The Spanish
minister demanded his head. It was hinted to him that he was not safe,
and he withdrew to Ronen, where he found asylum among his friends. His
fortune was gone; debts contracted for his expedition weighed heavily on
him; and for years he lived in obscurity, almost in misery.

At length his prospects brightened. Elizabeth of England learned his
merits and his misfortunes, and invited him to enter her service. The
King, who, says the Jesuit historian, had always at heart been delighted
with his achievement, openly restored him to favor; while, some years
later, Don Antonio tendered him command of his fleet, to defend his
right to the crown of Portugal against Philip the Second. Gourgues,
happy once more to cross swords with the Spaniards, gladly embraced this
offer; but in 1583, on his way to join the Portuguese prince, he died at
Tours of a sudden illness. The French mourned the loss of the man who
had wiped a blot from the national scutcheon, and respected his memory
as that of one of the best captains of his time. And, in truth, if a
zealous patriotism, a fiery valor, and skilful leadership are worthy of
honor, then is such a tribute due to Dominique de Gourgues,
slave-catcher and half-pirate as he was, like other naval heroes of that
wild age.

Romantic as was his exploit, it lacked the fullness of poetic justice,
since the chief offender escaped him. While Gourgues was sailing towards
Florida, Menendez was in Spain, high in favor at court, where he told to
approving ears how he had butchered the heretics. Borgia, the sainted
General of the Jesuits, was his fast friend; and two years later, when
he returned to America, the Pope, Paul the Fifth, regarding him as an
instrument for the conversion of the Indians, wrote him a letter with
his benediction. He re-established his power in Florida, rebuilt Fort
San Mateo, and taught the Indians that death or flight was the only
refuge from Spanish tyranny. They murdered his missionaries and spurned
their doctrine. "The Devil is the best thing in the world," they cried;
"we adore him; he makes men brave." Even the Jesuits despaired, and
abandoned Florida in disgust.

Menendez was summoned home, where fresh honors awaited him from the
Crown, though, according to the somewhat doubtful assertion of the
heretical Grotius, his deeds had left a stain upon his name among the
people. He was given command of the armada of three hundred sail and
twenty thousand men, which, in 1574, was gathered at Santander against
England and Flanders. But now, at the height of his fortunes, his career
was abruptly closed. He died suddenly, at the age of fifty-five. Grotius
affirms that he killed himself; but, in his eagerness to point the moral
of his story, he seems to have overstepped the bounds of historic truth.
The Spanish bigot was rarely a suicide; for the rites of Christian
burial and repose in consecrated ground were denied to the remains of
the self-murderer. There is positive evidence, too, in a codicil to the
will of Menendez, dated at Santander on the fifteenth of September,
1574, that he was on that day seriously ill, though, as the instrument
declares, "of sound mind." There is reason, then, to believe that this
pious cut-throat died a natural death, crowned with honors, and soothed
by the consolations of his religion.

It was he who crushed French Protestantism in America. To plant
religious freedom on this western soil was not the mission of France. It
was for her to rear in northern forests the banner of absolutism and of
Rome; while among the rocks of Massachusetts England and Calvin fronted
her in dogged opposition, long before the ice-crusted pines of Plymouth
had listened to the rugged psalmody of the Puritan, the solitudes of
Western New York and the stern wilderness of Lake Huron were trodden by
the iron heel of the soldier and the sandalled foot of the Franciscan
friar. France was the true pioneer of the Great West. They who bore the
fleur-de-lis were always in the van, patient, daring, indomitable. And
foremost on this bright roll of forest chivalry stands the
half-forgotten name of Samuel de Champlain.

Part 2







When America was first made known to Europe, the part assumed by France
on the borders of that new world was peculiar, and is little recognized.
While the Spaniard roamed sea and land, burning for achievement, red-hot
with bigotry and avarice, and while England, with soberer steps and a
less dazzling result, followed in the path of discovery and
gold-hunting, it was from France that those barbarous shores first
learned to serve the ends of peaceful commercial industry.

A French writer, however, advances a more ambitious claim. In the year
1488, four years before the first voyage of Columbus, America, he
maintains, was found by Frenchmen. Cousin, a navigator of Dieppe, being
at sea off the African coast, was forced westward, it is said, by winds
and currents to within sight of an unknown shore, where he presently
descried the mouth of a great river. On board his ship was one Pinzon,
whose conduct became so mutinous that, on his return to Dieppe, Cousin
made complaint to the magistracy, who thereupon dismissed the offender
from the maritime service of the town. Pinzon went to Spain, became
known to Columbus, told him the discovery, and joined him on his voyage
of 1492.

To leave this cloudland of tradition, and approach the confines of
recorded history. The Normans, offspring of an ancestry of conquerors,--
the Bretons, that stubborn, hardy, unchanging race, who, among Druid
monuments changeless as themselves, still cling with Celtic obstinacy to
the thoughts and habits of the past,--the Basques, that primeval
people, older than history,--all frequented from a very early date the
cod-banks of Newfoundland. There is some reason to believe that this
fishery existed before the voyage of Cabot, in 1497; there is strong
evidence that it began as early as the year 1504; and it is well
established that, in 1517, fifty Castilian, French, and Portuguese
vessels were engaged in it at once; while in 1527, on the third of
August, eleven sail of Norman, one of Breton, and two of Portuguese
fishermen were to be found in the Bay of St. John.

From this time forth, the Newfoundland fishery was never abandoned.
French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese made resort to the Banks,
always jealous, often quarrelling, but still drawing up treasure from
those exhaustless mines, and bearing home bountiful provision against
the season of Lent.

On this dim verge of the known world there were other perils than those
of the waves. The rocks and shores of those sequestered seas had, so
thought the voyagers, other tenants than the seal, the walrus, and the
screaming sea-fowl, the bears which stole away their fish before their
eyes, and the wild natives dressed in seal-skins. Griffius--so ran the
story--infested the mountains of Labrador. Two islands, north of
Newfoundland, were given over to the fiends from whom they derived their
name, the Isles of Demons. An old map pictures their occupants at
length,--devils rampant, with wings, horns, and tail. The passing
voyager heard the din of their infernal orgies, and woe to the sailor or
the fisherman who ventured alone into the haunted woods. "True it is,"
writes the old cosmographer Thevet, "and I myself have heard it, not
from one, but from a great number of the sailors and pilots with whom I
have made many voyages, that, when they passed this way, they heard in
the air, on the tops and about the masts, a great clamor of men's
voices, confused and inarticulate, such as you may hear from the crowd
at a fair or market-place whereupon they well knew that the Isle of
Demons was not far off." And he adds, that he himself, when among the
Indians, had seen them so tormented by these infernal persecutors, that
they would fall into his arms for relief; on which, repeating a passage
of the Gospel of St. John, he had driven the imps of darkness to a
speedy exodus. They are comely to look upon, he further tells us; yet,
by reason of their malice, that island is of late abandoned, and all who
dwelt there have fled for refuge to the main.

While French fishermen plied their trade along these gloomy coasts, the
French government spent it's energies on a different field. The vitality
of the kingdom was wasted in Italian wars. Milan and Naples offered a
more tempting prize than the wilds of Baccalaos. Eager for glory and for
plunder, a swarm of restless nobles followed their knight-errant King,
the would-be paladin, who, misshapen in body and fantastic in mind, had
yet the power to raise a storm which the lapse of generations could not
quell. Under Charles the Eighth and his successor, war and intrigue
ruled the day; and in the whirl of Italian politics there was no leisure
to think of a new world.

Yet private enterprise was not quite benumbed. In 1506, one Denis of
Honfleur explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence; 2 two years later, Aubert of
Dieppe followed on his track; and in 1518, the Baron de Lery made an
abortive attempt at settlement on Sable Island, where the cattle left by
him remained and multiplied.

The crown passed at length to Francis of Angouleme. There were in his
nature seeds of nobleness,--seeds destined to bear little fruit.
Chivalry and honor were always on his lips; but Francis the First, a
forsworn gentleman, a despotic king, vainglorious, selfish, sunk in
debaucheries, was but the type of an era which retained the forms of the
Middle Age without its soul, and added to a still prevailing barbarism
the pestilential vices which hung fog-like around the dawn of
civilization. Yet he esteemed arts and letters, and, still more, coveted
the eclat which they could give. The light which was beginning to pierce
the feudal darkness gathered its rays around his throne. Italy was
rewarding the robbers who preyed on her with the treasures of her
knowledge and her culture; and Italian genius, of whatever stamp, found
ready patronage at the hands of Francis. Among artists, philosophers,
and men of letters enrolled in his service stands the humbler name of a
Florentine navigator, John Verrazzano.

He was born of an ancient family, which could boast names eminent in
Florentine history, and of which the last survivor died in 1819. He has
been called a pirate, and he was such in the same sense in which Drake,
Hawkins, and other valiant sea-rovers of his own and later times,
merited the name; that is to say, he would plunder and kill a Spaniard
on the high seas without waiting for a declaration of war.

The wealth of the Indies was pouring into the coffers of Charles the
Fifth, and the exploits of Cortes had given new lustre to his crown.
Francis the First begrudged his hated rival the glories and profits of
the New World. He would fain have his share of the prize; and
Verrazzano, with four ships, was despatched to seek out a passage
westward to the rich kingdom of Cathay.

Some doubt has of late been cast on the reality of this voyage of
Verrazzano, and evidence, mainly negative in kind, has been adduced to
prove the story of it a fabrication; but the difficulties of incredulity
appear greater than those of belief, and no ordinary degree of
scepticism is required to reject the evidence that the narrative is
essentially true.

Towards the end of the year 1523, his four ships sailed from Dieppe; but
a storm fell upon him, and, with two of the vessels, he ran back in
distress to a port of Brittany. What became of the other two does not
appear. Neither is it clear why, after a preliminary cruise against the
Spaniards, he pursued his voyage with one vessel alone, a caravel called
the "Dauphine." With her he made for Madeira, and, on the seventeenth of
January, 1524, set sail from a barren islet in its neighborhood, and
bore away for the unknown world. In forty-nine days they neared a low
shore, not far from the site of Wilmington in North Carolina, "a newe
land," exclaims the voyager, "never before seen of any man, either
auncient or moderne." Verrazzano steered southward in search of a
harbor, and, finding none, turned northward again. Presently he sent a
boat ashore. The inhabitants, who had fled at first, soon came down to
the strand in wonder and admiration, pointing out a landing-place, and
making gestures of friendship. "These people," says Verrazzano, "goe
altogether naked, except only certain skinnes of beastes like unto
marterns [martens], which they fasten onto a narrowe girdle made of
grasse. They are of colour russet, and not much unlike the Saracens,
their hayre blacke, thicke, and not very long, which they tye togeather
in a knot behinde, and weare it like a taile."

He describes the shore as consisting of small low hillocks of fine sand,
intersected by creeks and inlets, and beyond these a country "full of
Palme [pine?] trees, Bay trees, and high Cypresse trees, and many other
sortes of trees, vnknowne in Europe, which yeeld most sweete sanours,
farre from the shore." Still advancing northward, Verrazzano sent a boat
for a supply of water. The surf ran high, and the crew could not land;
but an adventurous young sailor jumped overboard and swam shoreward with
a gift of beads and trinkets for the Indians, who stood watching him.
His heart failed as he drew near; he flung his gift among them, turned,
and struck out for the boat. The surf dashed him back, flinging him with
violence on the beach among the recipients of his bounty, who seized him
by the arms and legs, and, while he called lustily for aid, answered him
with outcries designed to allay his terrors. Next they kindled a great
fire,--doubtless to roast and devour him before the eyes of his
comrades, gazing in horror from their boat. On the contrary, they
carefully warmed him, and were trying to dry his clothes, when,
recovering from his bewilderment, he betrayed a strong desire to escape
to his friends; whereupon, "with great love, clapping him fast about,
with many embracings," they led him to the shore, and stood watching
till he had reached the boat.

It only remained to requite this kindness, and an opportunity soon
occurred; for, coasting the shores of Virginia or Maryland, a party went
on shore and found an old woman, a young girl, and several children,
hiding with great terror in the grass. Having, by various blandishments,
gained their confidence, they carried off one of the children as a
curiosity, and, since the girl was comely, would fain have taken her
also, but desisted by reason of her continual screaming.

Verrazzano's next resting-place was the Bay of New York. Rowing up in
his boat through the Narrows, under the steep heights of Staten Island,
he saw the harbor within dotted with canoes of the feathered natives,
coming from the shore to welcome him. But what most engaged the eyes of
the white men were the fancied signs of mineral wealth in the
neighboring hills.

Following the shores of Long Island, they came to an island, which may
have been Block Island, and thence to a harbor, which was probably that
of Newport. here they stayed fifteen days, most courteously received by
the inhabitants. Among others appeared two chiefs, gorgeously arrayed in
painted deer-skins,--kings, as Verrazzano calls them, with attendant
gentlemen; while a party of squaws in a canoe, kept by their jealous
lords at a safe distance from the caravel, figure in the narrative as
the queen and her maids. The Indian wardrobe had been taxed to its
utmost to do the strangers honor,--copper bracelets, lynx-skins,
raccoon-skins, and faces bedaubed with gaudy colors.

Again they spread their sails, and on the fifth of May bade farewell to
the primitive hospitalities of Newport, steered along the rugged coasts
of New England, and surveyed, ill pleased, the surf-beaten rocks, the
pine-tree and the fir, the shadows and the gloom of mighty forests. Here
man and nature alike were savage and repellent. Perhaps some plundering
straggler from the fishing-banks, some manstealer like the Portuguese
Cortereal, or some kidnapper of children and ravisher of squaws like
themselves, had warned the denizens of the woods to beware of the
worshippers of Christ. Their only intercourse was in the way of trade.
From the brink of the rocks which overhung the sea the Indians would let
down a cord to the boat below, demand fish-hooks, knives, and steel, in
barter for their furs, and, their bargain made, salute the voyagers with
unseemly gestures of derision and scorn. The French once ventured
ashore; but a war-whoop and a shower of arrows sent them back to their

Verrazzano coasted the seaboard of Maine, and sailed northward as far as
Newfoundland, whence, provisions failing, he steered for France. He had
not found a passage to Cathay, but he had explored the American coast
from the thirty-fourth degree to the fiftieth, and at various points had
penetrated several leagues into the country. On the eighth of July, he
wrote from Dieppe to the King the earliest description known to exist of
the shores of the United States.

Great was the joy that hailed his arrival, and great were the hopes of
emolument and wealth from the new-found shores. The merchants of Lyons
were in a flush of expectation. For himself, he was earnest to return,
plant a colony, and bring the heathen tribes within the pale of the
Church. But the time was inauspicious. The year of his voyage was to
France a year of disasters,--defeat in Italy, the loss of Milan, the
death of the heroic Bayard; and, while Verrazzano was writing his
narrative at Dieppe, the traitor Bourbon was invading Provence.
Preparation, too, was soon on foot for the expedition which, a few
months later, ended in the captivity of Francis on the field of Pavia.
Without a king, without an army, without money, convulsed within, and
threatened from without, France after that humiliation was in no
condition to renew her Transatlantic enterprise.

Henceforth few traces remain of the fortunes of Verrazzano. Ramusio
affirms, that, on another voyage, he was killed and eaten by savages, in
sight of his followers; and a late writer hazards the conjecture that
this voyage, if made at all, was made in the service of Henry the Eighth
of England. But a Spanish writer affirms that, in 1527, he was hanged at
Puerto del Pico as a pirate, and this assertion is fully confirmed by
authentic documents recently brought to light.

The fickle-minded King, always ardent at the outset of an enterprise and
always flagging before its close, divided, moreover, between the smiles
of his mistresses and the assaults of his enemies, might probably have
dismissed the New World from his thoughts. But among the favorites of
his youth was a high-spirited young noble, Philippe de BrionChabot, the
partner of his joustings and tennis-playing, his gaming and gallantries.
He still stood high in the royal favor, and, after the treacherous
escape of Francis from captivity, held the office of Admiral of France.
When the kingdom had rallied in some measure from its calamnities, he
conceived the purpose of following up the path which Verrazzano had

The ancient town of St. Malo--thrust out like a buttress into the sea,
strange and grim of aspect, breathing war front its walls and
battlements of ragged stone, a stronghold of privateers, the home of a
race whose intractable and defiant independence neither time nor change
has subdued--has been for centuries a nursery of hardy mariners. Among
the earliest and most eminent on its list stands the name of Jacques
Cartier. His portrait hangs in the town-hall of St. Malo,--bold, keen
features bespeaking a spirit not apt to quail before the wrath of man or
of the elements. In him Chabot found a fit agent of his design, if,
indeed, its suggestion is not due to the Breton navigator.

Sailing from St. Malo on the twentieth of April, 1534, Cartier steered
for Newfoundland, passed through the Straits of Belle Isle, entered the
Gulf of Chaleurs, planted a cross at Gaspe, and, never doubting that he
was on the high road to Cathay, advanced up the St. Lawrence till he saw
the shores of Anticosti. But autumnal storms were gathering. The
voyagers took counsel together, turned their prows eastward, and bore
away for France, carrying thither, as a sample of the natural products
of the New World, two young Indians, lured into their clutches by an act
of villanous treachery. The voyage was a mere reconnoissance.

The spirit of discovery was awakened. A passage to India could be found,
and a new France built up beyond the Atlantic. Mingled with such views
of interest and ambition was another motive scarcely less potent. The
heresy of Luther was convulsing Germany, and the deeper heresy of Calvin
infecting France. Devout Catholics, kindling with redoubled zeal, would
fain requite the Church for her losses in the Old World by winning to
her fold the infidels of the New. But, in pursuing an end at once so
pious and so politic, Francis the First was setting at naught the
supreme Pontiff himself, since, by the preposterous bull of Alexander
the Sixth, all America had been given to the Spaniards.

In October, 1534, Cartier received from Chabot another commission, and,
in spite of secret but bitter opposition from jealous traders of St.
Malo, he prepared for a second voyage. Three vessels, the largest not
above a hundred and twenty tons, were placed at his disposal, and Claude
de Pontbriand, Charles de la Pommeraye, and other gentlemen of birth,
enrolled themselves for the adventure. On the sixteenth of May, 1535,
officers and sailors assembled in the cathedral of St. Malo, where,
after confession and mass, they received the parting blessing of the
bishop. Three days later they set sail. The dingy walls of the rude old
seaport, and the white rocks that line the neighboring shores of
Brittany, faded from their sight, and soon they were tossing in a
furious tempest. The scattered ships escaped the danger, and, reuniting
at the Straits of Belle Isle, steered westward along the coast of
Labrador, till they reached a small bay opposite the island of
Anticosti. Cartier called it the Bay of St. Lawrence,--a name
afterwards extended to the entire gulf, and to the great river above.

To ascend this great river, and tempt the hazards of its intricate
navigation with no better pilots than the two young Indians kidnapped
the year before, was a venture of no light risk. But skill or fortune
prevailed; and, on the first of September, the voyagers reached in
safety the gorge of the gloomy Saguenay, with its towering cliffs and
sullen depth of waters. Passing the Isle aux Coudres, and the lofty
promontory of Cape Tourmente, they came to anchor in a quiet channel
between the northern shore and the margin of a richly wooded island,
where the trees were so thickly hung with grapes that Cartier named it
the Island of Bacchus.

Indians came swarming from the shores, paddled their canoes about the
ships, and clambered to the decks to gaze in bewilderment at the novel
scene, and listen to the story of their travelled countrymen, marvellous
in their ears as a visit to another planet. Cartier received them
kindly, listened to the long harangue of the great chief Donnacona,
regaled him with bread and wine; and, when relieved at length of his
guests, set forth in a boat to explore the river above.

As he drew near the opening of the channel, the Hochelaga again spread
before him the broad expanse of its waters. A mighty promontory, rugged
and bare, thrust its scarped front into the surging current. Here,
clothed in the majesty of solitude, breathing the stern poetry of the
wilderness, rose the cliffs now rich with heroic memories, where the
fiery Count Frontenac cast defiance at his foes, where Wolfe, Montcalm,
and Montgomery fell. As yet, all was a nameless barbarism, and a cluster
of wigwams held the site of the rock-built city of Quebec. Its name was
Stadacone, and it owned the sway of the royal Donnacona.

Cartier set out to visit this greasy potentate; ascended the river St.
Charles, by him called the St. Croix, landed, crossed the meadows,
climbed the rocks, threaded the forest, and emerged upon a squalid
hamlet of bark cabins. When, having satisfied their curiosity, he and
his party were rowing for the ships, a friendly interruption met them at
the mouth of the St. Charles. An old chief harangued them from the bank,
men, boys, and children screeched welcome from the meadow, and a troop
of hilarious squaws danced knee-deep in the water. The gift of a few
strings of beads completed their delight and redoubled their agility;
and, from the distance of a mile, their shrill songs of jubilation still
reached the ears of the receding Frenchmen.

The hamlet of Stadacone, with its king, Donnacona, and its naked lords
and princes, was not the metropolis of this forest state, since a town
far greater--so the Indians averred--stood by the brink of the river,
many days' journey above. It was called Hochelaga, and the great river
itself, with a wide reach of adjacent country, had borrowed its name.
Thither, with his two young Indians as guides, Cartier resolved to go;
but misgivings seized the guides as the time drew near, while Donnacona
and his tribesmen, jealous of the plan, set themselves to thwart it. The
Breton captain turned a deaf ear to their dissuasions; on which, failing
to touch his reason, they appealed to his fears.

One morning, as the ships still lay at anchor, the French beheld three
Indian devils descending in a canoe towards them, dressed in black and
white dog-skins, with faces black as ink, and horns long as a man's arm.
Thus arrayed, they drifted by, while the principal fiend, with fixed
eyes, as of one piercing the secrets of futurity, uttered in a loud
voice a long harangue. Then they paddled for the shore; and no sooner
did they reach it than each fell flat like a dead man in the bottom of
the canoe. Aid, however, was at hand; for Donnacona and his tribesmen,
rushing pell-mell from the adjacent woods, raised the swooning
masqueraders, and, with shrill clamors, bore them in their arms within
the sheltering thickets. Here, for a full half-hour, the French could
hear them haranguing in solemn conclave. Then the two young Indians whom
Cartier had brought back from France came out of the bushes, enacting a
pantomime of amazement and terror, clasping their hands, and calling on
Christ and the Virgin; whereupon Cartier, shouting from the vessel,
asked what was the matter. They replied, that the god Coudonagny had
sent to warn the French against all attempts to ascend the great river,
since, should they persist, snows, tempests, and drifting ice would
requite their rashness with inevitable ruin. The French replied that
Coudonagny was a fool; that he could not hurt those who believed in
Christ; and that they might tell this to his three messengers. The
assembled Indians, with little reverence for their deity, pretended
great contentment at this assurance, and danced for joy along the beach.

Cartier now made ready to depart. And, first, he caused the two larger
vessels to be towed for safe harborage within the mouth of the St.
Charles. With the smallest, a galleon of forty tons, and two open boats,
carrying in all fifty sailors, besides Pontbriand, La Pommeraye, and
other gentlemen, he set out for Hochelaga.

Slowly gliding on their way by walls of verdure brightened in the
autumnal sun, they saw forests festooned with grape-vines, and waters
alive with wild-fowl; they heard the song of the blackbird, the thrush,
and, as they fondly thought, the nightingale. The galleon grounded; they
left her, and, advancing with the boats alone, on the second of October
neared the goal of their hopes, the mysterious Hochelaga.

Just below where now are seen the quays and storehouses of Montreal, a
thousand Indians thronged the shore, wild with delight, dancing,
singing, crowding about the strangers, and showering into the boats
their gifts of fish and maize; and, as it grew dark, fires lighted up
the night, while, far and near, the French could see the excited savages
leaping and rejoicing by the blaze.

At dawn of day, marshalled and accoutred, they marched for Hochelaga. An
Indian path led them through the forest which covered the site of
Montreal. The morning air was chill and sharp, the leaves were changing
hue, and beneath the oaks the ground was thickly strewn with acorns.
They soon met an Indian chief with a party of tribesmen, or, as the old
narrative has it, "one of the principal lords of the said city,"
attended with a numerous retinue. Greeting them after the concise
courtesy of the forest, he led them to a fire kindled by the side of the
path for their comfort and refreshment, seated them on the ground, and
made them a long harangue, receiving in requital of his eloquence two
hatchets, two knives, and a crucifix, the last of which he was invited
to kiss. This done, they resumed their march, and presently came upon
open fields, covered far and near with the ripened maize, its leaves
rustling, and its yellow grains gleaming between the parting husks.
Before them, wrapped in forests painted by the early frosts, rose the
ridgy back of the Mountain of Montreal, and below, encompassed with its
corn-fields, lay the Indian town. Nothing was visible but its encircling
palisades. They were of trunks of trees, set in a triple row. The outer
and inner ranges inclined till they met and crossed near the summit,
while the upright row between them, aided by transverse braces, gave to
the whole an abundant strength. Within were galleries for the defenders,
rude ladders to mount them, and magazines of stones to throw down on the
heads of assailants. It was a mode of fortification practised by all the
tribes speaking dialects of the Iroquois.

The voyagers entered the narrow portal. Within, they saw some fifty of
those large oblong dwellings so familiar in after years to the eyes of
the Jesuit apostles in Iroquois and Huron forests. They were about fifty
yards in length, and twelve or fifteen wide, framed of sapling poles
closely covered with sheets of bark, and each containing several fires
and several families. In the midst of the town was an open area, or
public square, a stone's throw in width. Here Cartier and his followers
stopped, while the surrounding houses of bark disgorged their inmates,--
swarms of children, and young women and old, their infants in their
arms. They crowded about the visitors, crying for delight, touching
their beards, feeling their faces, and holding up the screeching infants
to be touched in turn. The marvellous visitors, strange in hue, strange
in attire, with moustached lip and bearded chin, with arquebuse,
halberd, helmet, and cuirass, seemed rather demigods than men.

Due time having been allowed for this exuberance of feminine rapture,
the warriors interposed, banished the women and children to a distance,
and squatted on the ground around the French, row within row of swarthy
forms and eager faces, "as if," says Cartier, "we were going to act a
play." Then appeared a troop of women, each bringing a mat, with which
they carpeted the bare earth for the behoof of their guests. The latter
being seated, the chief of the nation was borne before them on a
deerskin by a number of his tribesmen, a bedridden old savage, paralyzed
and helpless, squalid as the rest in his attire, and distinguished only
by a red fillet, inwrought with the dyed quills of the Canada porcupine,
encircling his lank black hair. They placed him on the ground at
Cartier's feet and made signs of welcome for him, while he pointed
feebly to his powerless limbs, and implored the healing touch from the
hand of the French chief. Cartier complied, and received in
acknowledgment the red fillet of his grateful patient. Then from
surrounding dwellings appeared a woeful throng, the sick, the lame, the
blind, the maimed, the decrepit, brought or led forth and placed on the
earth before the perplexed commander, "as if," he says, "a god had come
down to cure them." His skill in medicine being far behind the
emergency, he pronounced over his petitioners a portion of the Gospel of
St. John, made the sign of the cross, and uttered a prayer, not for
their bodies only, but for their miserable souls. Next he read the
passion of the Saviour, to which, though comprehending not a word, his
audience listened with grave attention. Then came a distribution of
presents. The squaws and children were recalled, and, with the warriors,
placed in separate groups. Knives and hatchets were given to the men,
and beads to the women, while pewter rings and images of the Agnus Dei
were flung among the troop of children, whence ensued a vigorous
scramble in the square of Hochelaga. Now the French trumpeters pressed
their trumpets to their lips, and blew a blast that filled the air with
warlike din and the hearts of the hearers with amazement and delight.
Bidding their hosts farewells the visitors formed their ranks and
defiled through the gate once more, despite the efforts of a crowd of
women, who, with clamorous hospitality, beset them with gifts of fish,
beans, corn, and other viands of uninviting aspect, which the Frenchmen
courteously declined.

A troop of Indians followed, and guided them to the top of the
neighboring mountain. Cartier called it Mont Royal, Montreal; and hence
the name of the busy city which now holds the site of the vanished
Iloclielaga. Stadacone and Hochelaga, Quebec and Montreal, in the
sixteenth century as in the nineteenth, were the centres of Canadian

From the summit, that noble prospect met his eye which at this day is
the delight of tourists, but strangely changed, since, first of white
men, the Breton voyager gazed upon it. Tower and dome and spire,
congregated roofs, white sail, and gliding steamer, animate its vast
expanse with varied life. Cartier saw a different scene. East, west, and
south, the mantling forest was over all, and the broad blue ribbon of
the great river glistened amid a realm of verdure. Beyond, to the bounds
of Mexico, stretched a leafy desert, and the vast hive of industry, the
mighty battle-ground of later centuries, lay sunk in savage torpor,
wrapped in illimitable woods.

The French re-embarked, bade farewell to Hochelaga, retraced their
lonely course down the St. Lawrence, and reached Stadacone in safety. On
the bank of the St. Charles, their companions had built in their absence
a fort of palisades, and the ships, hauled up the little stream, lay
moored before it. Here the self-exiled company were soon besieged by the
rigors of the Canadian winter. The rocks, the shores, the pine-trees,
the solid floor of the frozen river, all alike were blanketed in snow
beneath the keen cold rays of the dazzling sun. The drifts rose above
the sides of their ships; masts, spars, and cordage were thick with
glittering incrustations and sparkling rows of icicles; a frosty armor,
four inches thick, encased the bulwarks. Yet, in the bitterest weather,
the neighboring Indians, "hardy," says the journal, "as so many beasts,"
came daily to the fort, wading, half naked, waist-deep through the snow.
At length, their friendship began to abate; their visits grew less
frequent, and during December had wholly ceased, when a calamity fell
upon the French.

A malignant scurvy broke out among them. Man after man went down before
the hideous disease, till twenty-five were dead, and only three or four
were left in health. The sound were too few to attend the sick, and the
wretched sufferers lay in helpless despair, dreaming of the sun and the
vines of France. The ground, hard as flint, defied their feeble efforts,
and, unable to bury their dead, they hid them in snow-drifts. Cartier
appealed to the saints; but they turned a deaf ear. Then he nailed
against a tree an image of the Virgin, and on a Sunday summoned forth
his woe-begone followers, who, haggard, reeling, bloated with their
maladies, moved in procession to the spot, and, kneeling in the snow,
sang litanies and psalms of David. That day died Philippe Rougemont, of
Amboise, aged twenty-two years. The Holy Virgin deigned no other

There was fear that the Indians, learning their misery, might finish the
work that scurvy had begun. None of them, therefore, were allowed to
approach the fort; and when a party of savages lingered within hearing,
Cartier forced his invalid garrison to beat with sticks and stones
against the walls, that their dangerous neighbors, deluded by the
clatter, might think them engaged in hard labor. These objects of their
fear proved, however, the instruments of their salvation. Cartier,
walking one day near the river, met an Indian, who not long before had
been prostrate, like many of his fellows, with the scurvy, but who was
now, to all appearance, in high health and spirits. What agency had
wrought this marvellous recovery? According to the Indian, it was a
certain evergreen, called by him ameda, a decoction of the leaves of
which was sovereign against the disease. The experiment was tried. The
sick men drank copiously of the healing draught,--so copiously indeed
that in six days they drank a tree as large as a French oak. Thus
vigorously assailed, the distemper relaxed its hold, and health and hope
began to revisit the hapless company.

When this winter of misery had worn away, and the ships were thawed from
their icy fetters, Cartier prepared to return. He had made notable
discoveries; but these were as nothing to the tales of wonder that had
reached his ear,--of a land of gold and rubies, of a nation white like
the French, of men who lived without food, and of others to whom Nature
had granted but one leg. Should he stake his credit on these marvels? It
were better that they who had recounted them to him should, with their
own lips, recount them also to the King, and to this end he resolved
that Donnacona and his chiefs should go with him to court. He lured them
therefore to the fort, and led them into an ambuscade of sailors, who,
seizing the astonished guests, hurried them on board the ships. Having
accomplished this treachery, the voyagers proceeded to plant the emblem
of Christianity. The cross was raised, the fleur-de-lis planted near it,
and, spreading their sails, they steered for home. It was the sixteenth
of July, 1536, when Cartier again cast anchor under the walls of St.

A rigorous climate, a savage people, a fatal disease, and a soil barren
of gold were the allurements of New France. Nor were the times
auspicious for a renewal of the enterprise. Charles the Fifth, flushed
with his African triumphs, challenged the Most Christian King to single
combat. The war flamed forth with renewed fury, and ten years elapsed
before a hollow truce varnished the hate of the royal rivals with a thin
pretence of courtesy. Peace returned; but Francis the First was sinking
to his ignominious grave, under the scourge of his favorite goddess, and
Chabot, patron of the former voyages, was in disgrace.

Meanwhile the ominous adventure of New France had found a champion in
the person of Jean Francois de la Roque, Sieur de Roberval, a nobleman
of Picardy. Though a man of high account in his own province, his past
honors paled before the splendor of the titles said to have been now
conferred on him, Lord of Norembega, Viceroy and Lieutenant-General in
Canada, Hochelaga, Saguenay, Newfoundland, Belle Isle, Carpunt,
Labrador, the Great Bay, and Baccalaos. To this windy gift of ink and
parchment was added a solid grant from the royal treasury, with which
five vessels were procured and equipped; and to Cartier was given the
post of Captain-General. "We have resolved," says Francis, "to send him
again to the lands of Canada and Hochelaga, which form the extremity of
Asia towards the west." His commission declares the objects of the
enterprise to be discovery, settlement, and the conversion of the
Indians, who are described as "men without knowledge of God or use of
reason,"--a pious design, held doubtless in full sincerity by the royal
profligate, now, in his decline, a fervent champion of the Faith and a
strenuous tormentor of heretics. The machinery of conversion was of a
character somewhat questionable, since Cartier and Roberval were
empowered to ransack the prisons for thieves, robbers, and other
malefactors, to complete their crews and strengthen the colony.
"Whereas," says the King, "we have undertaken this voyage for the honor
of God our Creator, desiring with all our heart to do that which shall
be agreeable to Him, it is our will to perform a compassionate and
meritorious work towards criminals and malefactors, to the end that they
may acknowledge the Creator, return thanks to Him, and mend their lives.
Therefore we have resolved to cause to be delivered to our aforesaid
lieutenant (Roberval), such and so many of the aforesaid criminals and
malefactors detained in our prisons as may seem to him useful and
necessary to be carried to the aforesaid countries." Of the expected
profits of the voyage the adventurers were to have one third and the
King another, while the remainder was to be reserved towards defraying

With respect to Donnacona and his tribesmen, basely kidnapped at
Stadacone, their souls had been better cared for than their bodies; for,
having been duly baptized, they all died within a year or two, to the
great detriment, as it proved, of the expedition.

Meanwhile, from beyond the Pyrenees, the Most Catholic King, with
alarmed and jealous eye, watched the preparations of his Most Christian
enemy. America, in his eyes, was one vast province of Spain, to be
vigilantly guarded against the intruding foreigner. To what end were men
mustered, and ships fitted out in the Breton seaports? Was it for
colonization, and if so, where? Was it in Southern Florida, or on the
frozen shores of Baccalaos, of which Breton cod-fishers claimed the
discovery? Or would the French build forts on the Bahamas, whence they
could waylay the gold ships in the Bahama Channel? Or was the expedition
destined against the Spanish settlements of the islands or the Main?
Reinforcements were despatched in haste, and a spy was sent to France,
who, passing from port to port, Quimper, St. Malo, Brest, Morlaix, came
back freighted with exaggerated tales of preparation. The Council of the
Indies was called. "The French are bound for Baccalaos,"--such was the
substance of their report; "your Majesty will do well to send two
caravels to watch their movements, and a force to take possession of the
said country. And since there is no other money to pay for it, the gold
from Peru, now at Panama, might be used to that end." The Cardinal of
Seville thought lightly of the danger, and prophesied that the French
would reap nothing from their enterprise but disappointment and loss.
The King of Portugal, sole acknowledged partner with Spain in the
ownership of the New World, was invited by the Spanish ambassador to
take part in an expedition against the encroaching French. "They can do
no harm at Baccalaos," was the cold reply; "and so," adds the indignant
ambassador, "this King would say if they should come and take him here
at Lisbon; such is the softness they show here on the one hand, while,
on the other, they wish to give law to the whole world."

The five ships, occasions of this turmoil and alarm, had lain at St.
Malo waiting for cannon and munitions from Normandy and Champagne. They
waited in vain, and as the King's orders were stringent against delay,
it was resolved that Cartier should sail at once, leaving Roberval to
follow with additional ships when the expected supplies arrived.

On the twenty-third of May, 1541, the Breton captain again spread his
canvas for New France, and, passing in safety the tempestuous Atlantic,
the fog-banks of Newfoundland, the island rocks clouded with screaming
sea-fowl, and the forests breathing piny odors from the shore, cast
anchor again beneath the cliffs of Quebec. Canoes came out from shore
filled with feathered savages inquiring for their kidnapped chiefs.
"Donnacona," replied Cartier, "is dead;" but he added the politic
falsehood, that the others had married in France, and lived in state,
like great lords. The Indians pretended to be satisfied; but it was soon
apparent that they looked askance on the perfidious strangers.

Cartier pursued his course, sailed three leagues and a half up the St.
Lawrence, and anchored off the mouth of the River of Cap Rouge. It was
late in August, and the leafy landscape sweltered in the sun. The
Frenchmen landed, picked up quartz crystals on the shore and thought
them diamonds, climbed the steep promontory, drank at the spring near
the top, looked abroad on the wooded slopes beyond the little river,
waded through the tall grass of the meadow, found a quarry of slate, and
gathered scales of a yellow mineral which glistened like gold, then
returned to their boats, crossed to the south shore of the St. Lawrence,
and, languid with the heat, rested in the shade of forests laced with an
entanglement of grape-vines.

Now their task began, and while some cleared off the woods and sowed
turnip-seed, others cut a zigzag road up the height, and others built
two forts, one at the summit, and one on the shore below. The forts
finished, the Vicomte de Beaupre took command, while Cartier went with
two boats to explore the rapids above Hochelaga. When at length he
returned, the autumn was far advanced; and with the gloom of a Canadian
November came distrust, foreboding, and homesickness. Roberval had not
appeared; the Indians kept jealously aloof; the motley colony was sullen
as the dull, raw air around it. There was disgust and ire at
Charlesbourg-Royal, for so the place was called.

Meanwhile, unexpected delays had detained the impatient Roberval; nor
was it until the sixteenth of April, 1542, that, with three ships and
two hundred colonists, he set sail from Rochelle. When, on the eighth of
June, he entered the harbor of St. John, he found seventeen
fishing-vessels lying there at anchor. Soon after, he descried three
other sail rounding the entrance of the haven, and, with anger and
amazement, recognized the ships of Jacques Cartier. That voyager had
broken up his colony and abandoned New France. What motives had prompted
a desertion little consonant with the resolute spirit of the man it is
impossible to say,--whether sickness within, or Indian enemies without,
disgust with an enterprise whose unripened fruits had proved so hard and
bitter, or discontent at finding himself reduced to a post of
subordination in a country which he had discovered and where he had
commanded. The Viceroy ordered him to return; but Cartier escaped with
his vessels under cover of night, and made sail for France, carrying
with him as trophies a few quartz diamonds from Cap Rouge, and grains of
sham gold from the neighboring slate ledges. Thus closed the third
Canadian voyage of this notable explorer. His discoveries had gained for
him a patent of nobility, and he owned the seigniorial mansion of
Limoilou, a rude structure of stone still standing. Here, and in the
neighboring town of St. Malo, where also he had a house, he seems to
have lived for many years.

Roberval once more set sail, steering northward to the Straits of Belle
Isle and the dreaded Isles of Demons. And here an incident befell which
the all-believing Thevet records in manifest good faith, and which,
stripped of the adornments of superstition and a love of the marvellous,
has without doubt a nucleus of truth. I give the tale as I find it.

The Viceroy's company was of a mixed complexion. There were nobles,
officers, soldiers, sailors, adventurers, with women too, and children.
Of the women, some were of birth and station, and among them a damsel
called Marguerite, a niece of Roberval himself. In the ship was a young
gentleman who had embarked for love of her. His love was too well
requited; and the stern Viceroy, scandalized and enraged at a passion
which scorned concealment and set shame at defiance, cast anchor by the
haunted island, landed his indiscreet relative, gave her four arquebuses
for defence, and, with an old Norman nurse named Bastienne, who had
pandered to the lovers, left her to her fate. Her gallant threw himself
into the surf, and by desperate effort gained the shore, with two more
guns and a supply of ammunition.

The ship weighed anchor, receded, vanished, and they were left alone.
Yet not so, for the demon lords of the island beset them day and night,
raging around their hut with a confused and hungry clamoring, striving
to force the frail barrier. The lovers had repented of their sin, though
not abandoned it, and Heaven was on their side. The saints vouchsafed
their aid, and the offended Virgin, relenting, held before them her
protecting shield. In the form of beasts or other shapes abominably and
unutterably hideous, the brood of hell, howling in baffled fury, tore at
the branches of the sylvan dwelling; but a celestial hand was ever
interposed, and there was a viewless barrier which they might not pass.
Marguerite became pregnant. Here was a double prize, two souls in one,
mother and child. The fiends grew frantic, but all in vain. She stood
undaunted amid these horrors; but her lover, dismayed and heartbroken,
sickened and died. Her child soon followed; then the old Norman nurse
found her unhallowed rest in that accursed soil, and Marguerite was left
alone. Neither her reason nor her courage failed. When the demons
assailed her, she shot at them with her gun, but they answered with
hellish merriment, and thenceforth she placed her trust in Heaven alone.
There were foes around her of the upper, no less than of the nether
world. Of these, the bears were the most redoubtable; yet, being
vulnerable to mortal weapons, she killed three of them, all, says the
story, "as white as an egg."

It was two years and five months from her landing on the island, when,
far out at sea, the crew of a small fishing-craft saw a column of smoke
curling upward from the haunted shore. Was it a device of the fiends to
lure them to their ruin? They thought so, and kept aloof. But misgiving
seized them. They warily drew near, and descried a female figure in wild
attire waving signals from the strand. Thus at length was Marguerite
rescued and restored to her native France, where, a few years later, the
cosmographer Thevet met her at Natron in Perigord, and heard the tale of
wonder from her own lips.

Having left his offending niece to the devils and bears of the Isles of
Demons, Roberval held his course up the St. Lawrence, and dropped anchor
before the heights of Cap Rouge. His company landed; there were bivouacs
along the strand, a hubbub of pick and spade, axe, saw, and hammer; and
soon in the wilderness uprose a goodly structure, half barrack, half
castle, with two towers, two spacious halls, a kitchen, chambers,
storerooms, workshops, cellars, garrets, a well, an oven, and two
watermills. Roberval named it France-Roy, and it stood on that bold
acclivity where Cartier had before intrenched himself, the St. Lawrence
in front, and on the right the River of Cap Rouge. Here all the colony
housed under the same roof, like one of the experimental communities of
recent days,--officers, soldiers, nobles, artisans, laborers, and
convicts, with the women and children in whom lay the future hope of New

Experience and forecast had both been wanting. There were storehouses,
but no stores; mills, but no grist; an ample oven, and a dearth of
bread. It was only when two of the ships had sailed for France that they
took account of their provision and discovered its lamentable
shortcoming. Winter and famine followed. They bought fish from the
Indians, and dug roots and boiled them in whale-oil. Disease broke out,
and, before spring, killed one third of the colony. The rest would have
quarrelled, mutinied, and otherwise aggravated their inevitable woes,
but disorder was dangerous under the iron rule of the inexorable
Roberval. Michel Gaillon was detected in a petty theft, and hanged. Jean
de Nantes, for a more venial offence, was kept in irons. The quarrels of
men and the scolding of women were alike requited at the whipping-post,
"by which means," quaintly says the narrative, "they lived in peace."

Thevet, while calling himself the intimate friend of the Viceroy, gives
a darker coloring to his story. He says that, forced to unceasing labor,
and chafed by arbitrary rules, some of the soldiers fell under
Roberval's displeasure, and six of them, formerly his favorites, were
hanged in one day. Others were banished to an island, and there kept in
fetters; while, for various light offences, several, both men and women,
were shot. Even the Indians were moved to pity, and wept at the sight of
their woes.

And here, midway, our guide deserts us; the ancient narrative is broken,
and the latter part is lost, leaving us to divine as we may the future
of the ill-starred colony. That it did not long survive is certain. The
King, in great need of Roberval, sent Cartier to bring him home, and
this voyage seems to have taken place in the summer of 1543. It is said
that, in after years, the Viceroy essayed to repossess himself of his
Transatlantic domain, and lost his life in the attempt. Thevet, on the
other hand, with ample means of learning the truth, affirms that
Roberval was slain at night, near the Church of the Innocents, in the
heart of Paris.

With him closes the prelude of the French-American drama. Tempestuous
years and a reign of blood and fire were in store for France. The
religious wars begot the hapless colony of Florida, but for more than
half a century they left New France a desert. Order rose at length out
of the sanguinary chaos; the zeal of discovery and the spirit of
commercial enterprise once more awoke, while, closely following, more
potent than they, moved the black-robed forces of the Roman Catholic




Years rolled on. France, long tossed among the surges of civil
commotion, plunged at last into a gulf of fratricidal war. Blazing
hamlets, sacked cities, fields steaming with slaughter, profaned altars,
and ravished maidens, marked the track of the tornado. There was little
room for schemes of foreign enterprise. Yet, far aloof from siege and
battle, the fishermen of the western ports still plied their craft on
the Banks of Newfoundland. Humanity, morality, decency, might be
forgotten, but codfish must still be had for the use of the faithful in
Lent and on fast days. Still the wandering Esquimaux saw the Norman and
Breton sails hovering around some lonely headland, or anchored in fleets
in the harbor of St. John; and still, through salt spray and driving
mist, the fishermen dragged up the riches of the sea.

In January and February, 1545, about two vessels a day sailed from
French ports for Newfoundland. In 1565, Pedro Menendez complains that
the French "rule despotically" in those parts. In 1578, there were a
hundred and fifty French fishing-vessels there, besides two hundred of
other nations, Spanish, Portuguese, and English. Added to these were
twenty or thirty Biscayan whalers. In 1607, there was an old French
fisherman at Canseau who had voyaged to these seas for forty-two
successive years.

But if the wilderness of ocean had its treasures, so too had the
wilderness of woods. It needed but a few knives, beads, and trinkets,
and the Indians would throng to the shore burdened with the spoils of
their winter hunting. Fishermen threw up their old vocation for the more
lucrative trade in bear-skins and beaver-skins. They built rude huts
along the shores of Anticosti, where, at that day, the bison, it is
said, could be seen wallowing in the sands. They outraged the Indians;
they quarrelled with each other; and this infancy of the Canadian
fur-trade showed rich promise of the disorders which marked its riper
growth. Others, meanwhile, were ranging the gulf in search of walrus
tusks; and, the year after the battle of Ivry, St. Malo sent out a fleet
of small craft in quest of this new prize.

In all the western seaports, merchants and adventurers turned their eyes
towards America; not, like the Spaniards, seeking treasures of silver
and gold, but the more modest gains of codfish and train-oil,
beaver-skins and marine ivory. St. Malo was conspicuous above them all.
The rugged Bretons loved the perils of the sea, and saw with a jealous
eye every attempt to shackle their activity on this its favorite field.
When in 1588 Jacques Noel and Estienue Chaton--the former a nephew of
Cartier and the latter pretending to be so--gained a monopoly of the
American fur-trade for twelve year's, such a clamor arose within the
walls of St. Malo that the obnoxious grant was promptly revoked.

But soon a power was in the field against which all St. Malo might
clamor in vain. A Catholic nobleman of Brittany, the Marquis de la
Roche, bargained with the King to colonize New France. On his part, he
was to receive a monopoly of the trade, and a profusion of worthless
titles and empty privileges. He was declared Lieutenant-General of
Canada, Hochelaga, Newfoundland, Labrador, and the countries adjacent,
with sovereign power within his vast and ill-defined domain. he could
levy troops, declare war and peace, make laws, punish or pardon at will,
build cities, forts, and castles, and grant out lands in fiefs,
seigniories, counties, viscounties, and baronies. Thus was effete and
cumbrous feudalism to make a lodgment in the New World. It was a scheme
of high-sounding promise, but in performance less than contemptible. La
Roche ransacked the prisons, and, gathering thence a gang of thieves and
desperadoes, embarked them in a small vessel, and set sail to plant
Christianity and civilization in the West. Suns rose and set, and the
wretched bark, deep freighted with brutality and vice, held on her
course. She was so small that the convicts, leaning over her side, could
wash their hands in the water. At length, on the gray horizon they
descried a long, gray line of ridgy sand. It was Sable Island, off the
coast of Nova Scotia. A wreck lay stranded on the beach, and the surf
broke ominously over the long, submerged arms of sand, stretched far out
into the sea on the right hand and on the left.

Here La Roche landed the convicts, forty in number, while, with his more
trusty followers, he sailed to explore the neighboring coasts, and
choose a site for the capital of his new dominion, to which, in due
time, he proposed to remove the prisoners. But suddenly a tempest from
the west assailed him. The frail vessel was forced to run before the
gale, which, howling on her track, drove her off the coast, and chased
her back towards France.

Meanwhile the convicts watched in suspense for the returning sail. Days
passed, weeks passed, and still they strained their eyes in vain across
the waste of ocean. La Roche had left them to their fate. Rueful and
desperate, they wandered among the sand-hills, through the stunted
whortleberry bushes, the rank sand-grass, and the tangled cranberry
vines which filled the hollows. Not a tree was to be seen; but they
built huts of the fragments of the wreck. For food they caught fish in
the surrounding sea, and hunted the cattle which ran wild about the
island, sprung, perhaps, from those left here eighty years before by the
Baron de Lery. They killed seals, trapped black foxes, and clothed
themselves in their skins. Their native instincts clung to them in their
exile. As if not content with inevitable miseries, they quarrelled and
murdered one another. Season after season dragged on. Five years
elapsed, and, of the forty, only twelve were left alive. Sand, sea, and
sky,--there was little else around them; though, to break the dead
monotony, the walrus would sometimes rear his half-human face and
glistening sides on the reefs and sand-bars. At length, on the far verge
of the watery desert, they descried a sail. She stood on towards the
island; a boat's crew landed on the beach, and the exiles were once more
among their countrymen.

When La Roche returned to France, the fate of his followers sat heavy on
his mind. But the day of his prosperity was gone. A host of enemies rose
against him and his privileges, and it is said that the Due de Mercaeur
seized him and threw him into prison. In time, however, he gained a
hearing of the King; and the Norman pilot, Chefdhotel, was despatched to
bring the outcasts home.

He reached Sable Island in September, 1603, and brought back to France
eleven survivors, whose names are still preserved. When they arrived,
Henry the Fourth summoned them into his presence. They stood before him,
says an old writer, like river-gods of yore; for from head to foot they
were clothed in shaggy skins, and beards of prodigious length hung from
their swarthy faces. They had accumulated, on their island, a quantity
of valuable furs. Of these Chefdhotel had robbed them; but the pilot was
forced to disgorge his prey, and, with the aid of a bounty from the
King, they were enabled to embark on their own account in the Canadian
trade. To their leader, fortune was less kind. Broken by disaster and
imprisonment, La Roche died miserably.

In the mean time, on the ruin of his enterprise, a new one had been
begun. Pontgrave, a merchant of St. Malo, leagued himself with Chauvin,
a captain of the navy, who had influence at court. A patent was granted
to them, with the condition that they should colonize the country. But
their only thought was to enrich themselves.

At Tadoussac, at the mouth of the Saguenay, under the shadow of savage
and inaccessible rocks, feathered with pines, firs, and birch-trees,
they built a cluster of wooden huts and store-houses. Here they left
sixteen men to gather the expected harvest of furs. Before the winter
was over, several of them were dead, and the rest scattered through the
woods, living on the charity of the Indians.

But a new era had dawned on France. Exhausted with thirty years of
conflict, she had sunk at last to a repose, uneasy and disturbed, yet
the harbinger of recovery. The rugged soldier whom, for the weal of
France and of mankind, Providence had cast to the troubled surface of
affairs, was throned in the Louvre, composing the strife of factions and
the quarrels of his mistresses. The bear-hunting prince of the Pyrenees
wore the crown of France; and to this day, as one gazes on the time-worn
front of the Tuileries, above all other memories rises the small, strong
finger, the brow wrinkled with cares of love and war, the bristling
moustache, the grizzled beard, the bold, vigorous, and withal somewhat
odd features of the mountaineer of Warn. To few has human liberty owed
so deep a gratitude or so deep a grudge. He cared little for creeds or
dogmas. Impressible, quick in sympathy, his grim lip lighted often with
a smile, and his war-worn cheek was no stranger to a tear. He forgave
his enemies and forgot his friends. Many loved him; none but fools
trusted him. Mingled of mortal good and ill, frailty and force, of all
the kings who for two centuries and more sat on the throne of France
Henry the Fourth alone was a man.

Art, industry, and commerce, so long crushed and overborne, were
stirring into renewed life, and a crowd of adventurous men, nurtured in
war and incapable of repose, must seek employment for their restless
energies in fields of peaceful enterprise.

Two small, quaint vessels, not larger than the fishing-craft of
Gloucester and Marblehead,--one was of twelve, the other of fifteen
tons,--held their way across the Atlantic, passed the tempestuous
headlands of Newfoundland and the St. Lawrence, and, with adventurous
knight-errantry, glided deep into the heart of the Canadian wilderness.
On board of one of them was the Breton merchant, Pontgrave, and with him
a man of spirit widely different, a Catholic of good family,--Samuel de
Champlain, born in 1567 at the small seaport of Bronage on the Bay of
Biscay. His father was a captain in the royal navy, where he himself
seems also to have served, though during the war he had fought for the
King in Brittany, under the banners of D'Aumont, St. Luc, and Brissac.
His purse was small, his merit great; and Henry the Fourth out of his
own slender revenues had given him a pension to maintain him near his
person. But rest was penance to him. The war in Brittany was over. The
rebellious Duc de Mercaeur was reduced to obedience, and the royal army
disbanded. Champlain, his occupation gone, conceived a design consonant
with his adventurous nature. He would visit the West Indies, and bring
back to the King a report of those regions of mystery whence Spanish
jealousy excluded foreigners, and where every intruding Frenchman was
threatened with death. Here much knowledge was to be won and much peril
to be met. The joint attraction was resistless.

The Spaniards, allies of the vanquished Leaguers, were about to evacuate
Blavet, their last stronghold in Brittany. Thither Champlain repaired;
and here he found an uncle, who had charge of the French fleet destined
to take on board the Spanish garrison. Champlain embarked with them,
and, reaching Cadiz, succeeded, with the aid of his relative, who had
just accepted the post of Pilot-General of the Spanish marine, in
gaining command of one of the ships about to sail for the West Indies
under Don Francisco Colombo.

At Dieppe there is a curious old manuscript, in clear, decisive, and
somewhat formal handwriting of the sixteenth century, garnished with
sixty-one colored pictures, in a style of art which a child of ten might
emulate. Here one may see ports, harbors, islands, and rivers, adorned
with portraitures of birds, beasts, and fishes thereto pertaining. Here
are Indian feasts and dances; Indians flogged by priests for not going
to mass; Indians burned alive for heresy, six in one fire; Indians
working the silver mines. Here, too, are descriptions of natural
objects, each with its illustrative sketch, some drawn from life and
some from memory,--as, for example, a chameleon with two legs; others
from hearsay, among which is the portrait of the griffin said to haunt
certain districts of Mexico,--a monster with the wings of a bat, the
head of an eagle, and the tail of an alligator.

This is Champlain's journal, written and illustrated by his own hand, in
that defiance of perspective and absolute independence of the canons of
art which mark the earliest efforts of the pencil.

A true hero, after the chivalrous mediaeval type, his character was
dashed largely with the spirit of romance. Though earnest, sagacious,
and penetrating, he leaned to the marvellous; and the faith which was
the life of his hard career was somewhat prone to overstep the bounds of
reason and invade the domain of fancy. hence the erratic character of
some of his exploits, and hence his simple faith in the Mexican griffin.

His West-Indian adventure occupied him more than two years. He visited
the principal ports of the islands, made plans and sketches of them all,
after his fashion, and then, landing at Vera Cruz, journeyed inland to
the city of Mexico. On his return he made his way to Panama. Here, more
than two centuries and a half ago, his bold and active mind conceived
the plan of a ship-canal across the isthmus, "by which," lie says, "the
voyage to the South Sea would be shortened by more than fifteen hundred

On reaching France he repaired to court, and it may have been at this
time that a royal patent raised him to the rank of the untitled
nobility. He soon wearied of the antechambers of the Louvre. It was
here, however, that his destiny awaited him, and the work of his life
was unfolded. Aymar de Chastes, Commander of the Order of St. John and
Governor of Dieppe, a gray-haired veteran of the civil wars, wished to
mark his closing days with some notable achievement for France and the
Church. To no man was the King more deeply indebted. In his darkest
hour, when the hosts of the League were gathering round him, when
friends were falling off, and the Parisians, exulting in his certain
ruin, were hiring the windows of the Rue St. Antoine to see him led to
the Bastille, De Chastes, without condition or reserve, gave up to him
the town and castle of Dieppe. Thus he was enabled to fight beneath its
walls the battle of Arques, the first in the series of successes which
secured his triumph; and he had been heard to say that to this friend in
his adversity he owed his own salvation and that of France.

De Chastes was one of those men who, amid the strife of factions and
rage of rival fanaticisms, make reason and patriotism their watchwords,
and stand on the firm ground of a strong and resolute moderation. He had
resisted the madness of Leaguer and Huguenot alike; yet, though a foe of
the League, the old soldier was a devout Catholic, and it seemed in his
eyes a noble consummation of his life to plant the cross and the
fleur-de-lis in the wilderness of New France. Chauvin had just died,
after wasting the lives of a score or more of men in a second and a
third attempt to establish the fur-trade at Tadoussac. De Chastes came
to court to beg a patent of henry the Fourth; "and," says his friend
Champlain, "though his head was crowned with gray hairs as with years,
he resolved to proceed to New France in person, and dedicate the rest of
his days to the service of God and his King."

The patent, costing nothing, was readily granted; and De Chastes, to
meet the expenses of the enterprise, and forestall the jealousies which
his monopoly would awaken among the keen merchants of the western ports,
formed a company with the more prominent of them. Pontgrave, who had
some knowledge of the country, was chosen to make a preliminary

This was the time when Champlain, fresh from the West Indies, appeared
at court. De Chastes knew him well. Young, ardent, yet ripe in
experience, a skilful seaman and a practised soldier, he above all
others was a man for the enterprise. He had many conferences with the
veteran, under whom he had served in the royal fleet off the coast of
Brittany. De Chastes urged him to accept a post in his new company; and
Champlain, nothing loath, consented, provided always that permission
should be had from the King, "to whom," he says, "I was bound no less by
birth than by the pension with which his Majesty honored me." To the
King, therefore, De Chastes repaired. The needful consent was gained,
and, armed with a letter to Pontgrave, Champlain set out for Honfleur.
Here he found his destined companion, and embarking with him, as we have
seen, they spread their sails for the west.

Like specks on the broad bosom of the waters, the two pygmy vessels held
their course up the lonely St. Lawrence. They passed abandoned
Tadoussac, the channel of Orleans, and the gleaming cataract of
Montmorenci; the tenantless rock of Quebec, the wide Lake of St. Peter
and its crowded archipelago, till now the mountain reared before them
its rounded shoulder above the forest-plain of Montreal. All was
solitude. Hochelaga had vanished; and of the savage population that
Cartier had found here, sixty-eight years before, no trace remained. In
its place were a few wandering Algonquins, of different tongue and
lineage. In a skiff, with a few Indians, Champlain essayed to pass the
rapids of St. Louis. Oars, paddles, and poles alike proved vain against
the foaming surges, and he was forced to return. On the deck of his
vessel, the Indians drew rude plans of the river above, with its chain
of rapids, its lakes and cataracts; and the baffled explorer turned his
prow homeward, the objects of his mission accomplished, but his own
adventurous curiosity unsated. When the voyagers reached Havre de Grace,
a grievous blow awaited them. The Commander de Chastes was dead.

His mantle fell upon Pierre du Guast, Sieur de Monts, gentleman in
ordinary of the King's chamber, and Governor of Polls. Undaunted by the
fate of La Roche, this nobleman petitioned the king for leave to
colonize La Cadie, or Acadie, a region defined as extending from the
fortieth to the forty-Sixth degree of north latitude, or from
Philadelphia to beyond Montreal. The King's minister, Sully, as he
himself tells us, opposed the plan, on the ground that the colonization
of this northern wilderness would never repay the outlay; but De Monts
gained his point. He was made Lieutenant-General in Acadia, with
viceregal powers; and withered Feudalism, with her antique forms and
tinselled follies, was again to seek a new home among the rocks and
pine-trees of Nova Scotia. The foundation of the enterprise was a
monopoly of the fur-trade, and in its favor all past grants were
unceremoniously annulled. St. Malo, Rouen, Dieppe, and Rochelle greeted
the announcement with unavailing outcries. Patents granted and revoked,
monopolies decreed and extinguished, had involved the unhappy traders in
ceaseless embarrassment. De Monts, however, preserved De Chastes's old
company, and enlarged it, thus making the chief malcontents sharers in
his exclusive rights, and converting them from enemies into partners.

A clause in his commission empowered him to impress idlers and vagabonds
as material for his colony,--an ominous provision of which he largely
availed himself. His company was strangely incongruous. The best and the
meanest of France were crowded together in his two ships. Here were
thieves and ruffians dragged on board by force; and here were many
volunteers of condition and character, with Baron de Poutrincourt and
the indefatigable Champlain. Here, too, were Catholic priests and
Huguenot ministers; for, though De Monts was a Calvinist, the Church, as
usual, displayed her banner in the van of the enterprise, and he was
forced to promise that he would cause the Indians to be instructed in
the dogmas of Rome.


1604, 1605.


De Monts, with one of his vessels, sailed from Havre de Grace on the
seventh of April, 1604. Pontgrave, with stores for the colony, was to
follow in a few days.

Scarcely were they at sea, when ministers and priests fell first to
discussion, then to quarrelling, then to blows. "I have seen our cure
and the minister," says Champlain, "fall to with their fists on
questions of faith. I cannot say which had the more pluck, or which hit
the harder; but I know that the minister sometimes complained to the
Sieur de Monts that he had been beaten. This was their way of settling
points of controversy. I leave you to judge if it was a pleasant thing
to see."

Sagard, the Franciscan friar, relates with horror, that, after their
destination was reached, a priest and a minister happening to die at the
same time, the crew buried them both in one grave, to see if they would
lie peaceably together.

De Monts, who had been to the St. Lawrence with Chauvin, and learned to
dread its rigorous winters, steered for a more southern, and, as he
flattered himself, a milder region. The first land seen was Cap la Heve,
on the southern coast of Nova Scotia. Four days later, they entered a
small bay, where, to their surprise, they saw a vessel lying at anchor.
here was a piece of good luck. The stranger was a fur-trader, pursuing
her traffic in defiance, or more probably in ignorance, of De Monts's
monopoly. The latter, as empowered by his patent, made prize of ship and
cargo, consoling the commander, one Rossignol, by giving his name to the
scene of his misfortune. It is now called Liverpool Harbor.

In an adjacent harbor, called by them Port Mouton, because a sheep here
leaped overboard, they waited nearly a month for Pontgrave's store-ship.
At length, to their great relief, she appeared, laden with the spoils of
four Basque fur-traders, captured at Cansean. The supplies delivered,
Pontgrave sailed for Tadoussac to trade with the Indians, while De
Monts, followed by his prize, proceeded on his voyage.

He doubled Cape Sable, and entered St. Mary's Bay, where he lay two
weeks, sending boats' crews to explore the adjacent coasts. A party one
day went on shore to stroll through the forest, and among them was
Nicolas Aubry, a priest from Paris, who, tiring of the scholastic haunts
of the Rue de la Sorbonne and the Rue d'Enfer, had persisted, despite
the remonstrance of his friends, in joining the expedition. Thirsty with
a long walk, under the sun of June, through the tangled and
rock-encumbered woods, he stopped to drink at a brook, laying his sword
beside him on the grass. On rejoining his companions, he found that he
had forgotten it; and turning back in search of it, more skilled in the
devious windings of the Quartier Latin than in the intricacies of the
Acadian forest, he soon lost his way. His comrades, alarmed, waited for
a time, and then ranged the woods, shouting his name to the echoing
solitudes. Trumpets were sounded, and cannon fired from the ships, but
the priest did not appear. All now looked askance on a certain Huguenot,
with whom Aubry had often quarrelled on questions of faith, and who was
now accused of having killed him. In vain he denied the charge. Aubry
was given up for dead, and the ship sailed from St. Mary's Bay; while
the wretched priest roamed to and fro, famished and despairing, or,
couched on the rocky soil, in the troubled sleep of exhaustion, dreamed,
perhaps, as the wind swept moaning through the pines, that he heard once
more the organ roll through the columned arches of Sainte Genevieve.

The voyagers proceeded to explore the Bay of Fundy, which De Monts
called La Baye Francoise. Their first notable discovery was that of
Annapolis Harbor. A small inlet invited them. They entered, when
suddenly the narrow strait dilated into a broad and tranquil basin,
compassed by sunny hills, wrapped in woodland verdure, and alive with
waterfalls. Poutrincourt was delighted with the scene. The fancy seized
him of removing thither from France with his family and, to this end, he
asked a grant of the place from De Monts, who by his patent had nearly
half the continent in his gift. The grant was made, and Poutrincourt
called his new domain Port Royal.

Thence they sailed round the head of the Bay of Fundy, coasted its
northern shore, visited and named the river St. John, and anchored at
last in Passamaquoddy Bay.

The untiring Champlain, exploring, surveying, sounding, had made charts
of all the principal roads and harbors; and now, pursuing his research,
he entered a river which he calls La Riviere des Etechemins, from the
name of the tribe of whom the present Passamaquoddy Indians are
descendants. Near its mouth he found an islet, fenced round with rocks
and shoals, and called it St. Croix, a name now borne by the river
itself. With singular infelicity this spot was chosen as the site of the
new colony. It commanded the river, and was well fitted for defence:
these were its only merits; yet cannon were landed on it, a battery was
planted on a detached rock at one end, and a fort begun on a rising
ground at the other.

At St. Mary's Bay the voyagers thought they had found traces of iron and
silver; and Champdore, the pilot, was now sent back to pursue the
search. As he and his men lay at anchor, fishing, not far from land, one
of them heard a strange sound, like a weak human voice; and, looking
towards the shore, they saw a small black object in motion, apparently a
hat waved on the end of a stick. Rowing in haste to the spot, they found
the priest Aubry. For sixteen days he had wandered in the woods,
sustaining life on berries and wild fruits; and when, haggard and
emaciated, a shadow of his former self, Champdore carried him back to
St. Croix, he was greeted as a man risen from the grave.

In 1783 the river St. Croix, by treaty, was made the boundary between
Maine and New Brunswick. But which was the true St. Croix? In 1798, the
point was settled. De Monts's island was found; and, painfully searching
among the sand, the sedge, and the matted whortleberry bushes, the
commissioners could trace the foundations of buildings long crumbled
into dust; for the wilderness had resumed its sway, and silence and
solitude brooded once more over this ancient resting-place of

But while the commissioner bends over a moss-grown stone, it is for us
to trace back the dim vista of the centuries to the life, the zeal, the
energy, of which this stone is the poor memorial. The rock-fenced islet
was covered with cedars, and when the tide was out the shoals around
were dark with the swash of sea-weed, where, in their leisure moments,
the Frenchmen, we are told, amused themselves with detaching the limpets
from the stones, as a savory addition to their fare. But there was
little leisure at St. Croix. Soldiers, sailors, and artisans betook
themselves to their task. Before the winter closed in, the northern end
of the island was covered with buildings, surrounding a square, where a
solitary tree had been left standing. On the right was a spacious house,
well built, and surmounted by one of those enormous roofs characteristic
of the time. This was the lodging of De Monts. Behind it, and near the
water, was a long, covered gallery, for labor or amusement in foul
weather. Champlain and the Sieur d'Orville, aided by the servants of the
latter, built a house for themselves nearly opposite that of De Monts;
and the remainder of the square was occupied by storehouses, a magazine,
workshops, lodgings for gentlemen and artisans, and a barrack for the
Swiss soldiers, the whole enclosed with a palisade. Adjacent there was
an attempt at a garden, under the auspices of Champlain; but nothing
would grow in the sandy soil. There was a cemetery, too, and a small
rustic chapel on a projecting point of rock. Such was the "Habitation de
l'Isle Saincte-Croix," as set forth by Champlain in quaint plans and
drawings, in that musty little quarto of 1613, sold by Jean Berjon, at
the sign of the Flying Horse, Rue St. Jean de Beauvais.

Their labors over, Poutrincourt set sail for France, proposing to return
and take possession of his domain of Port Royal. Seventy-nine men
remained at St. Croix. here was De Monts, feudal lord of half a
continent in virtue of two potent syllables, "Henri," scrawled on
parchment by the rugged hand of the Bearnais. Here were gentlemen of
birth and breeding, Champlain, D'Orville, Beaumont, Sourin, La Motte,
Boulay, and Fougeray; here also were the pugnacious cure and his fellow
priests, with the Hugnenot ministers, objects of their unceasing ire.
The rest were laborers, artisans, and soldiers, all in the pay of the
company, and some of them forced into its service.

Poutrincourt's receding sails vanished between the water and the sky.
The exiles were left to their solitude. From the Spanish settlements
northward to the pole, there was no domestic hearth, no lodgement of
civilized men, save one weak band of Frenchmen, clinging, as it were for
life, to the fringe of the vast and savage continent. The gray and
sullen autumn sank upon the waste, and the bleak wind howled down the
St. Croix, and swept the forest bare. Then the whirling snow powdered
the vast sweep of desolate woodland, and shrouded in white the gloomy
green of pine-clad mountains. Ice in sheets, or broken masses, swept by
their island with the ebbing and flowing tide, often debarring all
access to the main, and cutting off their supplies of wood and water. A
belt of cedars, indeed, hedged the island; but De Monts had ordered them
to be spared, that the north wind might spend something of its force
with whistling through their shaggy boughs. Cider and wine froze in the
casks, and were served out by the pound. As they crowded round their
half-fed fires, shivering in the icy currents that pierced their rude
tenements, many sank into a desperate apathy.

Soon the scurvy broke out, and raged with a fearful malignity. Of the
seventy-nine, thirty-five died before spring, and many more were brought
to the verge of death. In vain they sought that marvellous tree which
had relieved the followers of Cartier. Their little cemetery was peopled
with nearly half their number, and the rest, bloated and disfigured with
the relentless malady, thought more of escaping from their woes than of
building up a Transatlantic empire. Yet among them there was one, at
least, who, amid languor and defection, held to his purpose with
indomitable tenacity; and where Champlain was present, there was no room
for despair.

Spring came at last, and, with the breaking up of the ice, the melting
of the snow, and the clamors of the returning wild-fowl, the spirits and
the health of the woe-begone company began to revive. But to misery
succeeded anxiety and suspense. Where was the succor from France? Were
they abandoned to their fate like the wretched exiles of La Roche? In a
happy hour, they saw an approaching sail. Pontgrave, with forty men,
cast anchor before their island on the sixteenth of June; and they
hailed him as the condemned hails the messenger of his pardon.

Weary of St. Croix, De Monts resolved to seek out a more auspicious
site, on which to rear the capital of his wilderness dominion. During
the preceding September, Champlain had ranged the westward coast in a
pinnace, visited and named the island of Mount Desert, and entered the
mouth of the river Penobscot, called by him the Pemetigoet, or
Pentegoet, and previously known to fur-traders and fishermen as the
Norembega, a name which it shared with all the adjacent region.[FN#27]
Now, embarking a second time, in a bark of fifteen tons, with De Monts,
several gentlemen, twenty sailors, and an Indian with his squaw, he set
forth on the eighteenth of June on a second voyage of discovery. They
coasted the strangely indented shores of Maine, with its reefs and
surf-washed islands, rocky headlands, and deep embosomed bays, passed
Mount Desert and the Penobscot, explored the mouths of the Kennebec,
crossed Casco Bay, and descried the distant peaks of the White
Mountains. The ninth of July brought them to Saco Bay. They were now
within the limits of a group of tribes who were called by the French the
Armouchiquois, and who included those whom the English afterwards called
the Massachusetts. They differed in habits as well as in language from
the Etechemins and Miemacs of Acadia, for they were tillers of the soil,
and around their wigwams were fields of maize, beans, pumpkins,
squashes, tobacco, and the so-called Jerusalem artichoke. Near Pront's
Neck, more than eighty of them ran down to the shore to meet the
strangers, dancing and yelping to show their joy. They had a fort of
palisades on a rising ground by the Saco, for they were at deadly war
with their neighbors towards the east.

On the twelfth, the French resumed their voyage, and, like some
adventurous party of pleasure, held their course by the beaches of York
and Wells, Portsmouth Harbor, the Isles of Shoals, Rye Beach, and
Hampton Beach, till, on the fifteenth, they descried the dim outline of
Cape Ann. Champlain called it Cap aux Isles, from the three adjacent
islands, and in a subsequent voyage he gave the name of Beauport to the
neighboring harbor of Gloucester. Thence steering southward and
westward, they entered Massachusetts Bay, gave the name of Riviere du
Guast to a river flowing into it, probably the Charles; passed the
islands of Boston Harbor, which Champlain describes as covered with
trees, and were met on the way by great numbers of canoes filled with
astonished Indians. On Sunday, the seventeenth, they passed Point
Allerton and Nantasket Beach, coasted the shores of Cohasset, Scituate,
and Marshfield, and anchored for the night near Brant Point. On the
morning of the eighteenth, a head wind forced them to take shelter in
Port St. Louis, for so they called the harbor of Plymouth, where the
Pilgrims made their memorable landing fifteen years later. Indian
wigwams and garden patches lined the shore. A troop of the inhabitants
came down to the beach and danced; while others, who had been fishing,
approached in their canoes, came on board the vessel, and showed
Champlain their fish-hooks, consisting of a barbed bone lashed at an
acute angle to a slip of wood.

From Plymouth the party circled round the bay, doubled Cape Cod, called
by Champlain Cap Blanc, from its glistening white sands, and steered
southward to Nausett Harbor, which, by reason of its shoals and
sand-bars, they named Port Mallebarre. Here their prosperity deserted
them. A party of sailors went behind the sand-banks to find fresh water
at a spring, when an Indian snatched a kettle from one of them, and its
owner, pursuing, fell, pierced with arrows by the robber's comrades. The
French in the vessel opened fire. Champlain's arquebuse burst, and was
near killing him, while the Indians, swift as deer, quickly gained the
woods. Several of the tribe chanced to be on board the vessel, but flung
themselves with such alacrity into the water that only one was caught.
They bound him hand and foot, but soon after humanely set him at

Champlain, who we are told "delighted marvellously in these
enterprises," had busied himself throughout the voyage with taking
observations, making charts, and studying the wonders of land and sea.
The "horse-foot crab" seems to have awakened his special curiosity, and
he describes it with amusing exactness. Of the human tenants of the New
England coast he has also left the first precise and trustworthy
account. They were clearly more numerous than when the Puritans landed
at Plymouth, since in the interval a pestilence made great havoc among
them. But Champlain's most conspicuous merit lies in the light that he
threw into the dark places of American geography, and the order that he
brought out of the chaos of American cartography; for it was a result of
this and the rest of his voyages that precision and clearness began at
last to supplant the vagueness, confusion, and contradiction of the
earlier map-makers.

At Nausett Harbor provisions began to fail, and steering for St. Croix
the voyagers reached that ill-starred island on the third of August. De
Monts had found no spot to his liking. He now bethought him of that
inland harbor of Port Royal which he had granted to Poutrincourt, and
thither he resolved to remove. Stores, utensils, even portions of the
buildings, were placed on board the vessels, carried across the Bay of
Fundy, and landed at the chosen spot. It was on the north side of the
basin opposite Goat Island, and a little below the mouth of the river
Annapolis, called by the French the Equille, and, afterwards, the
Dauphin. The axe-men began their task; the dense forest was cleared
away, and the buildings of the infant colony soon rose in its place.

But while De Monts and his company were struggling against despair at
St. Croix, the enemies of his monopoly were busy at Paris; and, by a
ship from France, he was warned that prompt measures were needed to
thwart their machinations. Therefore he set sail, leaving Pontgrave to
command at Port Royal: while Champlain, Champdore, and others, undaunted
by the past, volunteered for a second winter in the wilderness.




Evil reports of a churlish wilderness, a pitiless climate, disease,
misery, and death, had heralded the arrival of De Monts. The outlay had
been great, the returns small; and when he reached Paris, he found his
friends cold, his enemies active and keen. Poutrincourt, however, was
still full of zeal; and, though his private affairs urgently called for
his presence in France, he resolved, at no small sacrifice, to go in
person to Acadia. He had, moreover, a friend who proved an invaluable
ally. This was Marc Lescarbot, "avocat en Parlement," who had been
roughly handled by fortune, and was in the mood for such a venture,
being desirous, as he tells us, "to fly from a corrupt world," in which
he had just lost a lawsuit. Unlike De Monts, Poutrincourt, and others of
his associates, he was not within the pale of the noblesse, belonging to
the class of "gens de robe," which stood at the head of the bourgeoisie,
and which, in its higher grades, formed within itself a virtual
nobility. Lescarbot was no common man,--not that his abundant gift of
verse-making was likely to avail much in the woods of New France, nor
yet his classic lore, dashed with a little harmless pedantry, born not
of the man, but of the times; but his zeal, his good sense, the vigor of
his understanding, and the breadth of his views, were as conspicuous as
his quick wit and his lively fancy. One of the best, as well as
earliest, records of the early settlement of North America is due to his
pen; and it has been said, with a certain degree of truth, that he was
no less able to build up a colony than to write its history. He
professed himself a Catholic, but his Catholicity sat lightly on him;
and he might have passed for one of those amphibious religionists who in
the civil wars were called "Les Politiques."

De Monts and Poutrincourt bestirred themselves to find a priest, since
the foes of the enterprise had been loud in lamentation that the
spiritual welfare of the Indians had been slighted. But it was Holy
Week. All the priests were, or professed to be, busy with exercises and
confessions, and not one could be found to undertake the mission of
Acadia. They were more successful in engaging mechanics and laborers for
the voyage. These were paid a portion of their wages in advance, and
were sent in a body to Rochelle, consigned to two merchants of that
port, members of the company. De Monts and Poutrincourt went thither by
post. Lescarbot soon followed, and no sooner reached Rochelle than he
penned and printed his Adieu a la France, a poem which gained for him
some credit.

More serious matters awaited him, however, than this dalliance with the
Muse. Rochelle was the centre and citadel of Calvinism,--a town of
austere and grim aspect, divided, like Cisatlantic communities of later
growth, betwixt trade and religion, and, in the interest of both,
exacting a deportment of discreet and well-ordered sobriety. "One must
walk a strait path here," says Lescarbot, "unless he would hear from the
mayor or the ministers." But the mechanics sent from Paris, flush of
money, and lodged together in the quarter of St. Nicolas, made day and
night hideous with riot, and their employers found not a few of them in
the hands of the police. Their ship, bearing the inauspicious name of
the "Jonas," lay anchored in the stream, her cargo on board, when a
sudden gale blew her adrift. She struck on a pier, then grounded on the
flats, bilged, careened, and settled in the mud. Her captain, who was
ashore, with Poutrincourt, Lescarbot, and others, hastened aboard, and
the pumps were set in motion; while all Rochelle, we are told, came to
gaze from the ramparts, with faces of condolence, but at heart well
pleased with the disaster. The ship and her cargo were saved, but she
must be emptied, repaired, and reladen. Thus a month was lost; at
length, on the thirteenth of May, 1606, the disorderly crew were all
brought on board, and the "Jonas" put to sea. Poutrincourt and Lescarbot
had charge of the expedition, De Monts remaining in France.

Lescarbot describes his emotions at finding himself on an element so
deficient in solidity, with only a two-inch plank between him and death.
Off the Azores, they spoke a supposed pirate. For the rest, they
beguiled the voyage by harpooning porpoises, dancing on deck in calm
weather, and fishing for cod on the Grand Bank. They were two months on
their way; and when, fevered with eagerness to reach land, they listened
hourly for the welcome cry, they were involved in impenetrable fogs.
Suddenly the mists parted, the sun shone forth, and streamed fair and
bright over the fresh hills and forests of the New World, in near view
before them. But the black rocks lay between, lashed by the snow-white
breakers. "Thus," writes Lescarbot, "doth a man sometimes seek the land
as one doth his beloved, who sometimes repulseth her sweetheart very
rudely. Finally, upon Saturday, the fifteenth of July, about two o'clock
in the afternoon, the sky began to salute us as it were with
cannon-shots, shedding tears, as being sorry to have kept us so long in
pain; . . . but, whilst we followed on our course, there came from the
land odors incomparable for sweetness, brought with a warm wind so
abundantly that all the Orient parts could not produce greater
abundance. We did stretch out our hands as it were to take them, so
palpable were they, which I have admired a thousand times since."

It was noon on the twenty-seventh when the "Jonas" passed the rocky
gateway of Port Royal Basin, and Lescarbot gazed with delight and wonder
on the calm expanse of sunny waters, with its amphitheatre of woody
hills, wherein he saw the future asylum of distressed merit and
impoverished industry. Slowly, before a favoring breeze, they held their
course towards the head of the harbor, which narrowed as they advanced;
but all was solitude,--no moving sail, no sign of human presence. At
length, on their left, nestling in deep forests, they saw the wooden
walls and roofs of the infant colony. Then appeared a birch canoe,
cautiously coming towards them, guided by an old Indian. Then a
Frenchman, arquebuse in hand, came down to the shore; and then, from the
wooden bastion, sprang the smoke of a saluting shot. The ship replied;
the trumpets lent their voices to the din, and the forests and the hills
gave back unwonted echoes. The voyagers landed, and found the colony of
Port Royal dwindled to two solitary Frenchmen.

These soon told their story. The preceding winter had been one of much
suffering, though by no means the counterpart of the woful experience of
St. Croix. But when the spring had passed, the summer far advanced, and
still no tidings of De Monts had come, Pontgrave grew deeply anxious. To
maintain themselves without supplies and succor was impossible. He
caused two small vessels to be built, and set out in search of some of
the French vessels on the fishing stations. This was but twelve days
before the arrival of the ship "Jonas." Two men had bravely offered
themselves to stay behind and guard the buildings, guns, and munitions;
and an old Indian chief, named Memberton, a fast friend of the French,
and still a redoubted warrior, we are told, though reputed to number
more than a hundred years, proved a stanch ally. When the ship
approached, the two guardians were at dinner in their room at the fort.
Memberton, always on the watch, saw the advancing sail, and, shouting
from the gate, roused them from their repast. In doubt who the
new-comers might be, one ran to the shore with his gun, while the other
repaired to the platform where four cannon were mounted, in the valorous
resolve to show fight should the strangers prove to be enemies. Happily
this redundancy of mettle proved needless. He saw the white flag
fluttering at the masthead, and joyfully fired his pieces as a salute.

The voyagers landed, and eagerly surveyed their new home. Some wandered
through the buildings; some visited the cluster of Indian wigwams hard
by; some roamed in the forest and over the meadows that bordered the
neighboring river. The deserted fort now swarmed with life; and, the
better to celebrate their prosperous arrival, Poutrincourt placed a
hogs-head of wine in the courtyard at the discretion of his followers,
whose hilarity, in consequence, became exuberant. Nor was it diminished
when Pontgrave's vessels were seen entering the harbor. A boat sent by
Pountrincourt, more than a week before, to explore the coasts, had met
them near Cape Sable, and they joyfully returned to Port Royal.

Pontgrave, however, soon sailed for France in the "Jonas," hoping on his
way to seize certain contraband fur-traders, reported to be at Canseau
and Cape Breton. Poutrincourt and Champlain, bent on finding a better
site for their settlement in a more southern latitude, set out on a
voyage of discovery, in an ill-built vessel of eighteen tons, while
Lescarbot remained in charge of Port Royal. They had little for their
pains but danger, hardship, and mishap. The autumn gales cut short their
exploration; and, after visiting Gloucester Harbor, doubling Monoinoy
Point, and advancing as far as the neighborhood of Hyannis, on the
southeast coast of Massachusetts, they turned back, somewhat disgusted
with their errand. Along the eastern verge of Cape Cod they found the
shore thickly studded with the wigwams of a race who were less hunters
than tillers of the soil. At Chatham Harbor--called by them Port
Fortune--five of the company, who, contrary to orders, had remained on
shore all night, were assailed, as they slept around their fire, by a
shower of arrows from four hundred Indians. Two were killed outright,
while the survivors fled for their boat, bristling like porcupines with
the feathered missiles,--a scene oddly portrayed by the untutored
pencil of Champlain. He and Poutrincourt, with eight men, hearing the
war-whoops and the cries for aid, sprang up from sleep, snatched their
weapons, pulled ashore in their shirts, and charged the yelling
multitude, who fled before their spectral assailants, and vanished in
the woods. "Thus," observes Lescarbot, "did thirty-five thousand
Midianites fly before Gideon and his three hundred." The French buried
their dead comrades; but, as they chanted their funeral hymn, the
Indians, at a safe distance on a neighboring hill, were dancing in glee
and triumph, and mocking them with unseemly gestures; and no sooner had
the party re-embarked, than they dug up the dead bodies, burnt them, and
arrayed themselves in their shirts. Little pleased with the country or
its inhabitants, the voyagers turned their prow towards Port Royal,
though not until, by a treacherous device, they had lured some of their
late assailants within their reach, killed them, and cut off their heads
as trophies. Near Mount Desert, on a stormy night, their rudder broke,
and they had a hair-breadth escape from destruction. The chief object of
their voyage, that of discovering a site for their colony under a more
southern sky, had failed. Pontgrave's son had his hand blown off by the
bursting of his gun; several of their number had been killed; others
were sick or wounded; and thus, on the fourteenth of November, with
somewhat downcast visages, they guided their helpless vessel with a pair
of oars to the landing at Port Royal.

"I will not," says Lescarbot, "compare their perils to those of Ulysses,
nor yet of Aeneas, lest thereby I should sully our holy enterprise with
things impure."

He and his followers had been expecting them with great anxiety. His
alert and buoyant spirit had conceived a plan for enlivening the courage
of the company, a little dashed of late by misgivings and forebodings.
Accordingly, as Poutrincourt, Champlain, and their weather-beaten crew
approached the wooden gateway of Port Royal, Neptune issued forth,
followed by his tritons, who greeted the voyagers in good French verse,
written in all haste for the occasion by Lescarbot. And, as they
entered, they beheld, blazoned over the arch, the arms of Prance,
circled with laurels, and flanked by the scuteheons of De Monts and

The ingenious author of these devices had busied himself, during the
absence of his associates, in more serious labors for the welfare of the
colony. He explored the low borders of the river Equille, or Annapolis.
Here, in the solitude, he saw great meadows, where the moose, with their
young, were grazing, and where at times the rank grass was beaten to a
pulp by the trampling of their hoofs. He burned the grass, and sowed
crops of wheat, rye, and barley in its stead. His appearance gave so
little promise of personal vigor, that some of the party assured him
that he would never see France again, and warned him to husband his
strength; but he knew himself better, and set at naught these comforting
monitions. He was the most diligent of workers. He made gardens near the
fort, where, in his zeal, he plied the hoe with his own hands late into
the moonlight evenings. The priests, of whom at the outset there had
been no lack, had all succumbed to the scurvy at St. Croix; and
Lescarbot, so far as a layman might, essayed to supply their place,
reading on Sundays from the Scriptures, and adding expositions of his
own after a fashion not remarkable for rigorous Catholicity. Of an
evening, when not engrossed with his garden, he was reading or writing
in his room, perhaps preparing the material of that History of New
France in which, despite the versatility of his busy brain, his good
sense and capacity are clearly made manifest.

Now, however, when the whole company were reassembled, Lescarbot found
associates more congenial than the rude soldiers, mechanics, and
laborers who gathered at night around the blazing logs in their rude
hall. Port Royal was a quadrangle of wooden buildings, enclosing a
spacious court. At the southeast corner was the arched gateway, whence a
path, a few paces in length, led to the water. It was flanked by a sort
of bastion of palisades, while at the southwest corner was another
bastion, on which four cannon were mounted. On the east side of the
quadrangle was a range of magazines and storehouses; on the west were
quarters for the men; on the north, a dining-hall and lodgings for the
principal persons of the company; while on the south, or water side,
were the kitchen, the forge, and the oven. Except the Garden-patches and
the cemetery, the adjacent ground was thickly studded with the Stumps of
the newly felled trees.

Most bountiful provision had been made for the temporal wants of the
colonists, and Lescarbot is profuse in praise of the liberality of Du
Monte and two merchants of Rochelle, who had freighted the ship "Jonas."
Of wine, in particular, the supply was so generous, that every man in
Port Royal was served with three pints daily.

The principal persons of the colony sat, fifteen in number, at
Poutrincourt's table, which, by an ingenious device of Champlain, was
always well furnished. He formed the fifteen into a new order,
christened "L'Ordre de Bon-Temps." Each was Grand Master in turn,
holding office for one day. It was his function to cater for the
company; and, as it became a point of honor to fill the post with
credit, the prospective Grand Master was usually busy, for several days
before coming to his dignity, in hunting, fishing, or bartering
provisions with the Indians. Thus did Poutrincourt's table groan beneath
all the luxuries of the winter forest,--flesh of moose, caribou, and
deer, beaver, otter, and hare, bears and wild-cats; with ducks, geese,
grouse, and plover; sturgeon, too, and trout, and fish innumerable,
speared through the ice of the Equille, or drawn from the depths of the
neighboring bay. "And," says Lescarbot, in closing his bill of fare,
"whatever our gourmands at home may think, we found as good cheer at
Port Royal as they at their Rue aux Ours in Paris, and that, too, at a
cheaper rate." For the preparation of this manifold provision, the Grand
Master was also answerable; since, during his day of office, he was
autocrat of the kitchen.

Nor did this bounteous repast lack a solemn and befitting ceremonial.
When the hour had struck, after the manner of our fathers they dined at
noon, the Grand Master entered the hall, a napkin on his shoulder, his
staff of office in his hand, and the collar of the Order--valued by
Lescarbot at four crowns--about his neck. The brotherhood followed,
each bearing a dish. The invited guests were Indian chiefs, of whom old
Memberton was daily present, seated at table with the French, who took
pleasure in this red-skin companionship. Those of humbler degree,
warriors, squaws, and children, sat on the floor, or crouched together
in the corners of the hall, eagerly waiting their portion of biscuit or
of bread, a novel and much coveted luxury. Being always treated with
kindness, they became fond of the French, who often followed them on
their moose-hunts, and shared their winter bivouac.

At the evening meal there was less of form and circumstance; and when
the winter night closed in, when the flame crackled and the sparks
streamed up the wide-throated chimney, and the founders of New France
with their tawny allies were gathered around the blaze, then did the
Grand Master resign the collar and the staff to the successor of his
honors, and, with jovial courtesy, pledge him in a cup of wine. Thus
these ingenious Frenchmen beguiled the winter of their exile.

It was an unusually mild winter. Until January, they wore no warmer
garment than their doublets. They made hunting and fishing parties, in
which the Indians, whose lodges were always to be seen under the
friendly shelter of the buildings, failed not to bear part. "I
remember," says Lescarbot, "that on the fourteenth of January, of a
Sunday afternoon, we amused ourselves with singing and music on the
river Equille; and that in the same month we went to see the
wheat-fields two leagues from the fort, and dined merrily in the

Good spirits and good cheer saved them in great measure from the scurvy;
and though towards the end of winter severe cold set in, yet only four
men died. The snow thawed at last, and as patches of the black and oozy
soil began to appear, they saw the grain of their last autumn's sowing
already piercing the mould. The forced inaction of the winter was over.
The carpenters built a water-mill on the stream now called Allen's
River; others enclosed fields and laid out gardens; others, again, with
scoop-nets and baskets, caught the herrings and alewives as they ran up
the innumerable rivulets. The leaders of the colony set a contagious
example of activity. Poutrincourt forgot the prejudices of his noble
birth, and went himself into the woods to gather turpentine from the
pines, which he converted into tar by a process of his own invention;
while Lescarbot, eager to test the qualities of the soil, was again, hoe
in hand, at work all day in his garden.

All seemed full of promise; but alas for the bright hope that kindled
the manly heart of Champlain and the earnest spirit of the vivacions
advocate! A sudden blight fell on them, and their rising prosperity
withered to the ground. On a morning, late in spring, as the French were
at breakfast, the ever watchful Membertou came in with news of an
approaching sail. They hastened to the shore; but the vision of the
centenarian sagamore put them all to shame. They could see nothing. At
length their doubts were resolved. A small vessel stood on towards them,
and anchored before the fort. She was commanded by one Chevalier, a
young man from St. Malo, and was freighted with disastrous tidings. Dc
Monts's monopoly was rescinded. The life of the enterprise was stopped,
and the establishment at Port Royal could no longer be supported; for
its expense was great, the body of the colony being laborers in the pay
of the company. Nor was the annulling of the patent the full extent of
the disaster; for, during the last summer, the Dutch had found their way
to the St. Lawrence, and carried away a rich harvest of furs, while
other interloping traders had plied a busy traffic along the coasts,
and, in the excess of their avidity, dug up the bodies of buried Indians
to rob them of their funeral robes.

It was to the merchants and fishermen of the Norman, Breton, and
Biscayan ports, exasperated at their exclusion from a lucrative trade,
and at the confiscations which had sometimes followed their attempts to
engage in it, that this sudden blow was due. Money had been used freely
at court, and the monopoly, unjustly granted, had been more unjustly
withdrawn. De Monts and his company, who had spent a hundred thousand
livres, were allowed six thousand in requital, to be collected, if
possible, from the fur-traders in the form of a tax.

Chevalier, captain of the ill-omened bark, was entertained with a
hospitality little deserved, since, having been intrusted with sundry
hams, fruits, spices, sweetmeats, jellies, and other dainties, sent by
the generous De Monts to his friends of New France, he with his crew had
devoured them on the voyage, alleging that, in their belief, the inmates
of Port Royal would all be dead before their arrival.

Choice there was none, and Port Royal must be abandoned. Built on a
false basis, sustained only by the fleeting favor of a government, the
generous enterprise had come to naught. Yet Poutrincourt, who in virtue
of his grant from De Monts owned the place, bravely resolved that, come
what might, he would see the adventure to an end, even should it involve
emigration with his family to the wilderness. Meanwhile, he began the
dreary task of abandonment, sending boat-loads of men and stores to
Canseau, where lay the ship "Jonas," eking out her diminished profits by
fishing for cod.

Membertou was full of grief at the departure of his friends. He had
built a palisaded village not far from Port Royal, and here were
mustered some four hundred of his warriors for a foray into the country
of the Armouchiquois, dwellers along the coasts of Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, and Western Maine. One of his tribesmen had been killed by a
chief from the Saco, and he was bent on revenge. He proved himself a
sturdy beggar, pursuing Pontrincourt with daily petitions,--now for a
bushel of beans, now for a basket of bread, and now for a barrel of wine
to regale his greasy crew. Memberton's long life had not been one of
repose. In deeds of blood and treachery he had no rival in the Acadian
forest; and, as his old age was beset with enemies, his alliance with
the French had a foundation of policy no less than of affection. In
right of his rank of Sagamore, he claimed perfect equality both with
Poutrincourt and with the King, laying his shrivelled forefingers
together in token of friendship between peers. Calumny did not spare
him; and a rival chief intimated to the French, that, under cover of a
war with the Armouchiquois, the crafty veteran meant to seize and
plunder Port Royal. Precautions, therefore, were taken; but they were
seemingly needless; for, their feasts and dances over, the warriors
launched their birchen flotilla and set out. After an absence of six
weeks they reappeared with howls of victory, and their exploits were
commemorated in French verse by the muse of the indefatigable Lescarbot.

With a heavy heart the advocate bade farewell to the dwellings, the
cornfields, the gardens, and all the dawning prosperity of Port Royal,
and sailed for Canseau in a small vessel on the thirtieth of July.
Pontrincourt and Champlain remained behind, for the former was resolved
to learn before his departure the results of his agricultural labors.
Reaching a harbor on the southern coast of Nova Scotia, six leagues west
of Cansean, Lescarbot found a fishing-vessel commanded and owned by an
old Basque, named Savalet, who for forty-two successive years had
carried to France his annual cargo of codfish. He was in great glee at
the success of his present venture, reckoning his profits at ten
thousand francs. The Indians, however, annoyed him beyond measure,
boarding him from their canoes as his fishing-boats came alongside, and
helping themselves at will to his halibut and cod. At Cansean--a harbor
near the strait now bearing the name--the ship Jonas still lay, her
hold well stored with fish; and here, on the twenty-seventh of August,
Lescarbot was rejoined by Poutrincourt and Champlain, who had come from
Port Royal in an open boat. For a few days, they amused themselves with
gathering raspberries on the islands; then they spread their sails for
France, and early in October, 1607, anchored in the harbor of St. Malo.

First of Europeans, they had essayed to found an agricultural colony in
the New World. The leaders of the enterprise had acted less as merchants
than as citizens; and the fur-trading monopoly, odious in itself, had
been used as the instrument of a large and generous design. There was a
radical defect, however, in their scheme of settlement. Excepting a few
of the leaders, those engaged in it had not chosen a home in the
wilderness of New France, but were mere hirelings, without wives or
families, and careless of the welfare of the colony. The life which
should have pervaded all the members was confined to the heads alone. In
one respect, however, the enterprise of De Monts was truer in principle
than the Roman Catholic colonization of Canada, on the one hand, or the
Puritan colonization of Massachusetts, on the other, for it did not
attempt to enforce religions exclusion.

Towards the fickle and bloodthirsty race who claimed the lordship of the
forests, these colonists, excepting only in the treacherous slaughter at
Port Fortune, bore themselves in a spirit of kindness contrasting
brightly with the rapacious cruelty of the Spaniards and the harshness
of the English settlers. When the last boat-load left Port Royal, the
shore resounded with lamentation; and nothing could console the
afflicted savages but reiterated promises of a speedy return.

Part Four

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