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lon and Munier, who, having acquired the language of the natives, were prevailed upon to remain there and assist the Spanish missionaries as interpreters. Young Talon informed the Spaniards of the captivity of his brothers and sister among the Clamoets. Two of the brothers, the sister, and Breman, were rescued some time after, and conducted to the city of Mexico, where they were taken into the service of the viceroy.
Larcheveque and Grollet were first sent to Spain, and confined in prison. They were next transported to New Mexico, and, it is supposed, were condemned to work in the mines. The two brothers, Talon, entered the Spanish navy, and, the vessel in which they served having been captured by the French, they were thus restored to their country. The youngest brother, and the sister, who were retained in the service of the viceroy, went with him to Spain. Nothing further is known of Breman, or of those who reinained with the Cenis Indians. It does not appear, that the French government took any measures to reclaim the prisoners, although they had gone upon the enterprise under the authority of the court. Political reasons may have prevented such a step. No plan was put in execution for saving the unfortunate people at the fort; and the news of their disastrous situation, after the death of their commander, came
so late to France, that an attempt for this object would have been unavailing, if it had been made.
In estimating the character, the acts, and personal qualities of La Salle, we should not forget, that our judgment is to be formed wholly from the relations of others, who knew little of his plans or his thoughts, and who were not all of them his friends. Not a single paper from his own hand, not so much as a private letter or a fragment of his official correspondence, has ever been published, or even consulted by the writers on whose authority alone we must rely for the history of the transactions in which he was concerned. All the original sources of information, which now exist, are mere narratives, the compositions of men who related passing events, and saw the outside only, but who had neither the means of knowing nor the intelligence to comprehend the nature and extent of his designs, or the complicated difficulties with which they were executed. The journal of Joutel, which has been regarded as the best of these, was written, as the author himself confesses, mostly from recollection, and was published twenty-six years after the death of La Salle. It would be in vain to search, in materials of this kind, for the secret springs of his bold conceptions, his motives and ultimate aims, which, if
they had been unfolded and explained by himself, would undoubtedly place him in a very different light before the world. Under such circumstances, it would be wrong to judge harshly.
From the preceding narrative it is obvious, that he possessed remarkable qualities, which fitted him for great undertakings; although it must be conceded, that he was deficient in others scarcely less essential to success. He was ignorant of the art of governing men, or rather of bending them to his purpose. He could neither humor their foibles, nor lead them by a silken cord, nor attach them heartily to his interests ; and he seems never to have been aware that enterprises like those in which he was engaged, could not be accomplished without the willing support and coöperating agency of others, who, although they acted in a subordinate capacity, would claim some degree of respect and deference for their opinions. Saturnine in his temperament, reserved in his communications, he asked counsel of no one ; and there was a certain hardness in his manners, a tone of lofty selfreliance, which, although it might command the obedience of his followers, was not likely to gain their hearty good will. These faults were probably inherent in the constitution of his mind; but, whatever may have been their origin, they were fatal in their consequences.
On the other hand, his capacity for large designs, and for devising the methods and procuring the resources to carry them forward, has few parallels among the most eminent discoverers. He has been called the Columbus of his age; and if his success had been equal to his ability and the compass of his plans, this distinction might justly be awarded to him.
As in great battles, so in enterprises of this kind, success crowns the commander with laurels, defeat covers him with disgrace, and perhaps draws upon him the obloquy of the world, although he may have fought as bravely and manœuvred as adroitly in one case as the other. Fortune turns the scale, and baffles the efforts of human skill and prowess. In some of the higher attributes of character, such as personal courage and endurance, undaunted resolution, patience under trials, and perseverance in contending with obstacles and struggling through embarrassments that might appal the stoutest heart, no man surpassed the Sieur de la Salle. Not a hint appears in any writer, that has come under notice, which casts a shade upon his integrity or honor. Cool and intrepid at all times, never yielding for a moment to despair, or even to despondency, he bore the heavy burden of his calamities manfully to the end, and his hopes expired only with his last breath. To him must be mainly ascribed the discovery of the vast regions of the Mississippi Valley, and the subsequent occupation and settlement of them by the French; and his name justly holds a prominent place among those which adorn the history of civilization in the new world.