Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the toils he had endured, was allowed to stay, at his own request, with Couture and Delaunay. The company was thus reduced to five persons. After making presents to the chiefs, procuring Indian guides, and bartering some of their horses for a canoe, they took leave of their hospitable friends, and began the wearisome labor of ascending the Mississippi. Their progress was slow, but at the end of two months they entered the Illinois River, and, on the 14th of September, landed at the foot of the high rock on which stood the Fort of St. Louis. *

* In this part of the narrative, Father Anastase makes a passing remark upon the voyage of Marquette and Joliet. He endeavors to throw a shade of discredit upon Marquette's relation, and says it did not see the light till after La Salle's discovery. This is a mistake, for it was published in 1681, the year before La Salle descended the Mississippi. He affirms, moreover, that these voyagers did not go more than thirty or forty leagues below the mouth of the Illinois. He gives no reason for this assertion, and it may safely be said that there is no composition of the narrative kind, which bears stronger internal marks of truth, than that of Marquette. His map, also, which was published at the same time, is strikingly correct in the position of the great rivers, and in the latitudes as far south as the Arkansas, which was the limit of his voyage. Anastase was a Recollect, and Marquette a Jesuit; and as we have seen, in the case of Charlevoix, that the Jesuits sometimes looked through dark glasses upon the labors and writings of their Franciscan brethren, so in this in nce, perhaps, it is but fair to suppose that the compliment was returned.

The Chevalier de Tonty, governor of the fort and of the Illinois country, was absent in a war against the Iroquois; but they were greeted with cordiality and joy by the Sieur de Bellefontaine, who commanded in his absence. Boisrondet, whom the reader will recollect as having been several times mentioned before, was likewise in the fort, and devotedly attached to the interests of the Sieur de la Salle. It was the intention of Cavelier, Joutel, and Anastase, to proceed immediately to Quebec, and thence to France. They prepared for their journey in a few days. Boisrondet likewise proposed to go with them, and offered them a passage in his canoe. They went to Chicago, and set off upon the lake, but were soon discouraged by the tempestuous weather and lateness of the season, and returned to Fort St. Louis, where they spent the winter.

They had not been long there, when the Chevalier de Tonty, having closed the Iroquois campaign, came to them at the fort. It may easily be imagined with what delight and eager anticipations he now met those, who could give him intelligence of his long-lost friend. But, for some strange reason not well explained, Cavelier and his companions had agreed to conceal his brother's death till they should arrive in France. They had told it to Couture, but charged him to keep it a profound secret. They were

obliged to dissemble, therefore, with Tonty, and with everybody else, who besieged them with anxious inquiries upon this subject. They related the particulars of the voyage, and of the disasters and adventures at the Bay of St. Bernard, leaving the impression, at the same time, that La Salle was still there and alive. The only apology hinted at by Anastase and Joutel for this extraordinary conduct, is, that they regarded it a duty first to communicate the news to the court of France. This is so clearly a subterfuge, that it is not worthy of a moment's consideration. Charlevoix probably suggests the true reason, which was, that they wished to make use of the credit of La Salle to procure the means for enabling them to pursue their journey. But this will not account for their silence at Quebec, when their journey was at an end. Cavelier presented a sealed letter to Tonty, purporting to be written by the Sieur de la Salle, and signed by him, in which he requested Tonty to furnish his brother with money or goods. Unsuspicious, and as ready to comply with the wishes as to obey the commands of his friend, he generously supplied the bearer, as Joutel relates, with the value of four thousand livres in furs, a canoe, and other effects, for which Cavelier went through the ceremony of giving him à receipt. The letter may have been written before La

Salle's death; but was it just or honorable now to pass it off for such a purpose? These transactions, apparently so indefensible, cannot be explained, and must be left to the reader's reflection.

Cavelier and his companions left Fort St. Louis early in the spring of 1688; but they lingered on the way, and did not reach Quebec till after the middle of August, when they sailed for France, and landed at Rochelle on the 9th of October, bearing with them the first intelligence to the French court and nation of the death of the Sieur de la Salle, more than a year and a half after this tragical event had occurred.

In conformity to his orders from La Salle and the court of France, Tonty had descended the Mississippi, with forty men, to its mouth, where he expected to meet his commander. Disappointed in his expectation, he sent out canoes along the coast, both to the east and west of the Mississippi, in search of the vessels. These not being found, he returned up the river to the Illinois, stopping at the Arkansas, and establishing there the post before mentioned.*

After this period, little is known of the Cheva

* When Iberville sailed into the Mississippi, fourteen years afterwards, a letter, was put into his hands, which had been written by the Chevalier de Tonty, and which was then

lier de Tonty. He was informed of La Salle's death by Couture, who came up to Fort St. Louis some time after the departure of Cavelier. His surprise and chagrin need not be described. The next year, 1689, he put himself at the head of an expedition to go and rescue the unfortunate people left at the Bay of St. Bernard. He advanced to the country of the Cenis Indians, and, as he says, approached within seven days' march

[ocr errors]

procured from an Indian chief. It was directed to M. de la Salle, Governor of Louisiana, and its contents were as follows.

“ At the village of the Quinipissas, 20th of April, 1685. Sir; Having found the column, on which you had placed the arms of France, overthrown by the driftwood floated thither by the tide, I caused a new one to be erected, about seven leagues from the sea, where I left a letter suspended from a tree. — All the nations have sung the calumet. These people fear us extremely, since your attack upon their village. I close by saying, that it gives me great uneasiness to be obliged to return under the misfortune of not having found you. Two canoes have examined the coast thirty leagues towards Mexico, and twenty-five to wards Florida."

This letter is published by Charlevoix. He adds that the Indians, whom Tonty calls Quinipissas, were the same as the Bayagoulas and Mongoulachas. Histoire, Liv. XVIII. — The above date, as given by Charlevoix, is erroneous in regard to the year, for Tonty says in his Petition, that he went down the Mississippi in 1686; and he must of course have been there about the time that La Salle was beginning his first journey to the Illinois.

« AnteriorContinuar »