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cently been brought to the Canadian market. He must have heard of the immense numbers of these animals that wandered over the western prairies, and have formed high expectations of the profits of the trade, and of its advantage to French commerce, for this was one of the arguments which he used to the ministers in soliciting his grant. He took some of the skins with him to France as a sample. The cost of transporting so bulky an article to Canada in canoes rendered it the more important to seek a communication with the sea through the waters of the Mississippi. This consideration was of little moment compared with others, which chiefly weighed upon his mind. He sought wealth apparently as the means of attaining his favorite ends. The love of adventure, the passion for exploring unknown lands, and the ambition of planting colonies and of building up a name which should rival those of the early discoverers and conquerors of the new world, these were the motives which kindled the aspirations and wrought upon the strong heart of La Salle.
Among the men of rank, who promoted his application to the French court, was the Prince de Conti. By the recommendation of this nobleman, La Salle took into his employ the Chevalier de Tonty, an Italian by birth, who had been for several years in the French army, and had lost a hand in the service. This selection proved fortunate. Tonty was a man of capacity, courage, and resolution, and he continued true to the interests of his employer to the last, both as an officer and a friend.* Two months after receiving his patent, the Sieur de la Salle sailed from Rochelle, accompanied by Tonty, the Sieur de la Motte, a pilot, mariners, ship-carpenters, and other workmen, in all about thirty persons. He also freighted the ship with anchors, cordage, and other materials necessary for rigging small vessels, which he designed to construct for the navigation of the lakes. To these was added a quantity of arms and merchandise. With this equipage he arrived at Quebec near the end of September. Remaining there no longer than was necessary to arrange his affairs, he hastened forward, with the whole of his company, to Fort Frontenac, having succeeded, with great labor and difficulty, in conducting his heavy-laden canoes up the dangerous rapids of the St. Lawrence.
* In some authors the name retains its Italian dress, Tonti; but I have seen an autograph written Henry de Tonty. He was a son of the Italian financier, who invented the Tontine, a method of life insurance adopted in France.
Recollect Missionaries in Canada. — La Salle prepares for his Voyage of Discovery. — Builds a Vessel of sixty Tons above the Falls of Niagara.
Sails through the Lakes to Mackinac.
From the date of the original settlement of Canada, the missionaries performed a distinguished part in paving the way to an intercourse with the Indians, and on many occasions in tempering the ferocity of those wild men of the forest. This work of self-sacrifice and pious zeal was at first shared between the Jesuits and Recollects, a branch of the Franciscan stock ; but at an early day the Jesuits had the address to exclude their brethren of a different order, and for nearly forty years the Canadian mission was wholly under their control. This unbrotherly act was deeply bewailed by the Recollects, as appears in the narrative of Father Le Cercq, one of their number, who unveils the secret machinations, political and theological, by which the event was brought about. During this period were published the numerous volumes of Relations, which consist of the annual reports of the Jesuit missionaries in Canada, containing curious incidents of their adventures among the
and often matter of historical value.
But the Recollects were not doomed to perpetual lamentations. These disciples of St. Francis were restored to their privileges in 1670, and Father Gabriel de la Rabourde, with others of his fraternity, came over to Quebec, and established their mission on its former basis. They were favored by the good will, if not by the direct encouragement, of the Count de Frontenac. fore the fort of palisades at Cataraqui was completed, Father Gabriel was allowed to commence his vocation at that place, and the mission continued under his direction or that of his associates. Although La Salle had received his education at the hands of the Jesuits, and had lived with them for many years, yet his predilections seem to have leaned towards the Recollects. From them he chose the spiritual guides, who were to accompany him in his discoveries. When he arrived at Fort Frontenac, he found Fathers Gabriel, Louis Hennepin, and Zenobe Membré, awaiting his orders; and also Luke Buisset and Melithon Watteau, the former destined for the missionary station at the fort, and the latter for that at Niagara. They were all natives of the Spanish Netherlands. The most renowned of these Fathers was Hennepin, who has figured in the literary world, and who will often appear in the course of this narrative. He came to Canada in the same vessel with the Sieur de la Salle, when returning after his first voyage to France; and from that time he had been employed as a missionary at Fort Frontenac, or in rambling among the Iroquois. In some of these excursions he visited Albany, then called New Orange, and other frontier settlements of New York. Being of a restless temper, it was not his humor to remain long in the same place.
The season being now far advanced in this northern climate, La Salle made all haste to begin the preparations for his great enterprise, which he resolved to set on foot as early as possible in the following spring or summer. A vessel was to be built and equipped above the Falls of Niagara, in which he could navigate the upper lakes; and this arduous task was to be accomplished in the heart of winter, by a few men, at a distance of several hundred miles from any civilized settlement, who were to construct and guard their own habitations, surrounded by savages, who looked with no approving eye upon these strange inroads into their ancient domains.
It will be remembered that three small vessels with decks had been built at Fort Frontenac the year before. On the 18th of November, one of these vessels, a brigantine of ten tons, was despatched for Niagara, with workmen on board, and laden with provisions, and the implements and