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Title: Père Marquette. Priest, Pioneer and Adventurer.
Author: Repplier, Agnes (1855-1950)
Date of first publication: 1929
Edition used as base for this ebook: Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran, 1929 [first edition]
Date first posted: 15 March 2014
Date last updated: October 17, 2014
Faded Page ebook#201410F6

This ebook was produced by Al Haines

[Transcriber's note: Because of copyright considerations, the decorations by Harry Cimino (1898-1969) have been omitted from this etext.]


Priest, Pioneer
and Adventurer



Decorations by
Harry Cimino

Doubleday, Doran,
and Company, Inc.
Garden City, N.Y.







Chapter I


When those mystery-laden words, Terra Incognita and Terra Inhabitabile disappeared from the maps of the world, geography lost its charm and traveling its most audacious inspiration. There are ancient globes in the library of the Vatican which show us in every dim line what chances of discovery lay in wait for the hardy voyager of the Middle Ages. Fleets of tiny ships sail over uncharted seas. Boreas blows gales from his swollen cheeks. Lions and elephants stroll through vast tracts of land, indicating by their presence the absence of more civilized inhabitants. A sense of spaciousness and wonder pervades these representations of what is to-day a familiar and congested earth. Small wonder that the adventurous boy who {2} gazed at them six hundred years ago was consumed by the same spirit which now sends scientists to the jungle and aviators to the Pole. And the maps, the wonderful, entrancing maps, free of crisscross railways, and huddled towns, and everything that blinds and confuses the unhappy school child of to-day. The Hereford map, sacredly guarded in Hereford Cathedral, dates from 1280. It was deemed of surpassing value, and was faithfully copied for two hundred years. It puts Jerusalem in the centre of the world, the place of honor; with the Terrestrial Paradise, beautifully battlemented, on a circular island near India, and the Tower of Babel midway between the two. Paris appears as bold as brass and just where it belongs; but there is no London in the smashed little England which does not afford room for a town. A vast Ethiopia gives breathing space and a chance for surmise; and a representation of the Last Judgment surmounts the whole. All the old maps show the Terrestrial Paradise; but its whereabouts was left to the fancy of the scholar artist. A crude map of the Ninth Century (one of the treasures of the Strassburg {3} library) places it east of India, and an early Icelandic map fits it snugly into Ceylon.

Nearly two hundred years before the Hereford map was outlined, Roger of Sicily, the redoubtable "Great Count"—warrior, ruler, and something of a scholar as well—caused a map of the world to be engraved on a disk of silver which weighed four hundred pounds. Here were plainly marked the countries, inhabited or uninhabited, of the known earth; coast lines and table lands, seas, gulfs, and rivers. The Roman roads, or what was left of them, were measured by miles; and the distance by water from port to port was adroitly guessed at. It is to be forever regretted that this triumph of Eleventh Century scholarship should have been made of silver. A baser metal might have survived to this day; but Sicily was fought over for a thousand years, and the great disk was stolen by invaders, or melted down to pay for arms and soldiers.

When the Old World had ceased to be a mystery, the New World was discovered. When the old waterways had grown familiar, Columbus crossed the Atlantic, Vasco da Gama {4} doubled the Cape of Good Hope, and Balboa discovered the Pacific. Here, indeed, were fresh fields of adventure. Here were seas for hardy navigators, lands of promise for intrepid exiles, freedom and space for the rover, wealth for the covetous, and souls to be saved for the missionary. How can we conceive the wonder which thrilled Europe when all these possibilities dawned upon its vision? How can we conceive the experience of sighting a new continent or a new ocean—the suffocating rapture of that moment, the trembling awe? Keats, being a poet, was able to feel in fancy these strange emotions, and to convey them, in some sort, to our souls:

... like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
    He stared at the Pacific, and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise,
    Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Henry James confessed that, as a little boy, he was both mystified and thrilled by the phrase "east" or "west" of Greenwich. Why was Greenwich of such supreme importance that the rest of the world lay east or west of it? he asked himself again and again, having the distaste of an intelligent child for seeking information from {5} adults. "The vague wonder that the childish mind felt on this point gave the place a mysterious importance, and seemed to put it into relation with the difficult and fascinating parts of geography,—the countries of unintentional outline, and the lonely-looking places on the atlas."

The fact that Charles the Second built the Greenwich Observatory, at the instigation of Sir Jonas Moore and Sir Christopher Wren, gives the lie to Rochester's oft-repeated witticism, and proves that his "sovereign lord" could and did do the wisest of wise things when he was so minded.

The early American maps have few "lonely looking places," because the untrammeled fancy of the cartographer filled them with pleasing and appropriate devices. In the Narrative and Critical History of America, edited by Mr. Justin Winsor, librarian of Harvard University, there are maps which would have stirred the heart of little Henry James, or of any other imaginative child. Wherever there is space to spare, we find Indians firing arrows, or bears strolling ominously. Fishes of terrifying aspect {6} swim the seas. They are huge enough to swallow at a gulp the little ships with curly sails like the ships in illuminated manuscripts. On every side is a suggestion of the peril that was the daily portion of the exile. If there were freedom for all, it was paid for with audacity and endurance. Everybody had a chance to live dangerously and to die valorously. A great many people availed themselves of both privileges.

The vast scale on which nature had built this strange New World was overwhelming and terrifying to the pioneers. They came from the neighborly towns of Europe to boundless stretches of wilderness and black savage mountains. They exchanged the lovely little rivers which carried no hint of danger for fierce wide waters running they knew not whither, impeding progress, and threatening destruction. The French settlers in Canada learned the meaning of a word they had used lightly all their lives—cold. They found out how easily they could die of it in the frozen woods, and how short a time it took the ever-falling snow to bury them out of sight. And ever and always there was the menace of hostile Indians; tribe after tribe engaged in {7} ceaseless warfare with one another, but predisposed to turn their arms against the invader. The red men taught the white men the full significance of another word, till then but dimly apprehended—cruelty. It was not a gentle age in which these wanderers lived. Terrible things were done in Europe under sanction of the law. But the Hurons and the Iroquois showed the reckless strangers precisely how much pain a human body could be made to bear before death signed its release. They illustrated this favorite theme with the help of Indian captives, compelling the attention of the French. They were prepared to extend the practice when time and opportunity served.

To all such dangers and privations the adventurers opposed a dauntless courage and a steady purpose. The great fur-trading corporation known as the Company of the Hundred Associates established itself firmly in Quebec, and controlled all New France—or as much of it, at least, as was controllable. Land was granted on terms so easy that the poorest farmer could buy. The woods were full of animals, and the trappers earned much money by their hard and {8} perilous work. It has always been the boast of Canada that a man who could not make a living for himself and his family in that country was not worth keeping alive. This was as true in the Seventeenth Century as it is true in the Twentieth. But then, as now, men were needed for the purpose. It was no place for weaklings. And because the settlers were men, hardy, vigorous, fearless, abstemious, and ambitious men, they found interests that far exceeded profitable farming and trapping. French engineers, searching for copper, penetrated deeper and deeper into the wilderness. French priests, eager for converts, followed them step by step. And French explorers, fired by rumors of undiscovered lakes and rivers, of lands more fertile than the frost-bitten fields of Canada, of tribes richer and more civilized than the cruel savages who surrounded them, made journeys of astonishing length with pitifully meager outfits. The white man, like the red man, was expected to fend for himself in the wilds. He set forth, untroubled because undismayed; confident in his own prowess and in fate. The lure of the unknown drew him on.


Chapter II


To the Spaniard belongs the honor of discovering the Mississippi. Spain was aware of the existence of the great river in 1519. From a host of early and brave explorers, from Pineda, from Narvaez, from Cabeza de Vaca, and from the Peruvian, La Vega, came word of its certain magnitude, and of its possible course. The Rio del Espíritu Santo it was called, a name given it by Francisco de Garay, Governor of Jamaica. Parkman says that on early Spanish maps it is often indistinguishable from other affluents of the Gulf of Mexico. Nevertheless, it was a magic word on Spanish lips and in Spanish hearts. Its breadth, like the height of Niagara Falls, was madly exaggerated, and wild stories were told of its slow, resistless current which no river bed could hold. The Reverend Francis Borgia Steck, who has written a lengthy {10} treatise on the discovery and rediscovery of the Mississippi, is of the opinion that Spanish cartographers marked the river plainly on their maps, but gave it little prominence because, fearing always the encroachments of France, they had no mind to call her attention to this waterway.

In 1537 Hernando de Soto was empowered by Charles the Fifth to conquer and colonize Florida. He had been a brave and able captain under Pizarro in Peru. He had enriched himself with the treasure wrung from the Inca, Atahualpa. It is said that he was on friendly terms with that hapless ruler, and that he was absent from Caxamalca when Pizarro, having gained possession of wealth so fabulous that it was like a golden dream, ridded himself of his royal prisoner by having him strangled in the great square of the city. De Soto quarreled bitterly with his commander when he heard of this savage crime, and soon afterward returned to Spain. He took with him, however, his share of plunder, squandered it lavishly in Seville, married a lady of noble birth, and became a man of consequence. Then there came to him reports of {11} gold in the lovely peninsula coveted by the Spaniards. Cupidity once more wrung his heart. Memories of the Inca's treasure chamber haunted him night and day. He sold his property, and went back to the New World with the Emperor's authority to seize and to hold, and with six hundred fighting men packed into nine small ships. Eight secular priests and four friars accompanied the expedition.

On Pentecost Sunday the sailors sighted the shores of Tampa Bay which the commander christened commemoratively La Bahia del Espíritu Santo. Landing, he took formal possession of Florida in the name of Spain, and sent out two exploring parties to ascertain the wealth and the temper of the inhabitants. The wealth they found to be mythical, the temper exceedingly uncertain. Here were no rich towns, no peaceful Peruvians waiting to be despoiled; but a wild country, tangled woods, feverish swamps, and brave Indians, friendly or hostile as the case might be, but always ready to repel attack. Difficulties and dangers multiplied. De Soto's dwindling army lost hope and spirit. For three years he shared the hardships of his soldiers, {12} leading them hither and thither, now searching for gold (dim rumors of which reached him from time to time), now seeking the best sites for the never forgotten project of colonization. Finally the river of his dreams became for him the river of fate. It was on its shores that he died, a defeated and disheartened man. It was in its muddy waters that his corpse was sunk, fastened and weighted in a hollow tree. It was down its current that the three hundred survivors of the expedition fled terror-stricken from the wreckage of their hopes.

Two things of great interest are left to us from this unsuccessful expedition: a passage describing De Soto by one of his followers, the anonymous "Gentleman of Elvas," and a passage describing the Mississippi in flood by Garcilaso de la Vega. The description of De Soto corresponds exactly with the description of another and greater adventurer, La Salle, whose tragic fate was also bound up with the mysterious and baffling river. "De Soto," says the Gentleman of Elvas, "was dry of speech and inflexible of purpose. He wished to know what others thought, and he listened to what others said. {13} But he did not like to be opposed; he invariably acted as he thought best; and he bent all his comrades to his will."

The description of the flooded Mississippi was not written until forty years after the event; but the impression it left upon La Vega's mind was vivid and permanent. "The great river," he wrote, "began early in March to widen rapidly. It overflowed the level land, and rose to such a height that only the tops of the tallest trees were visible. It was a beautiful thing to see the vast stretch of water covering the fields for twenty leagues and more. Indians went to and fro in their canoes. They protect their homes by building them on heavy piles, or sometimes—as in the case of chiefs—on artificial mounds. The flood reached its highest point on the twentieth day of April. Before the end of May it had subsided, and the river was running within its natural boundaries."

The control of the Gulf of Mexico and the lower Mississippi was as vital to Spain as was the control of the St. Lawrence to France. In the spring of 1540, while De Soto was still pursuing his visionary schemes, Francisco Vasa de {14} Coronado was dispatched from Mexico by the Viceroy, Mendoza, with instructions to visit the Indian towns, which were reported to be fabulously rich (the finding of gold was an obsession with the Spaniards), to study the conditions of the country with a view to colonization, and to report upon the great river, the Rio del Espíritu Santo. He was accompanied by a picked body of horsemen, two hundred and sixty in number, sixty foot soldiers, and no less than a thousand Mexican Indians, who looked after the supplies, guarded the sheep and cattle, scouted, cooked, and made things easy for their masters. Coronado had no better fortune than De Soto. He found no wealthy towns and few friendly Indians. He knew nothing about colonization, and he cared less. As for the river, though accounts of it reached him from time to time, he never gained its banks. De Soto at least beheld it before he died, and found a grave beneath its waters. Coronado seems to have done nothing but eat up his provisions and return home, a broken and discredited man. For a stream of its magnitude, the Mississippi was singularly elusive.


Meanwhile, in the Far North, wandering Indian tribes carried from trading station to trading station stories of the vast river which few of them had seen, but of which all had heard. France and England, having plenty to occupy them at home, were tardily colonizing their territorial claims in the New World. The first adventurers, it must be remembered, did not want to go up and down North America; they wanted to go across and reach China, that land of desire. The English wasted a vast deal of time and labor in trying to find the mythical Strait of Anian, which they thought connected the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It found a place on the early Dutch and Flemish maps, having been put there, not because it existed, but because it was desired. Even Champlain hoped and believed that Canada (New France) would offer "a favorable passage to China." He traced somewhat waveringly on his map a river flowing to the south, which he took on credit from the Indians, and he came near to its final discovery when he sent Jean Nicollet on a mission of peace to the Winnebagoes who had quarreled with the friendly Hurons.


Nicollet was the interpreter at Three Rivers on the St. Lawrence; a man of great courage, great natural ability, and comprehensive ignorance of all save Indian languages and Indian ways, which was what he needed to know. He was received with such warmth of hospitality that one hundred and twenty beavers were devoured at a single feast. Having accomplished his purpose, he made his fearless way to the Wisconsin River, which he descended so far that he was—according to savage guides—but three days' journey from the "Great Water." By this they meant the Mississippi River. He thought they meant the sea.

Other adventurers came as near, or nearer, to the goal. Colonel Wood of Virginia and Captain Bolton believed mistakenly that they had reached it. Pierre Esprit Radisson, a native of St. Malo, and his brother-in-law, Médard Chouart des Grosseilliers, wandered from the shores of Lake Superior into an unknown land peopled by unknown tribes, and brought back the strange tale of a "forked river," one branch flowing westward, and one southward toward Mexico. The French priests, Père Jogues, {17} Père Raymbault, Père Ménard (who was lost in the wilderness), and Père Allouez all pushed their missions closer to the mysterious river, the discovery of which became a matter of pride and purpose with the Jesuit order. To its zeal for souls it was beginning to add a zeal for knowledge of the barbarous land it was striving assiduously to civilize.

The first half of the Seventeenth Century had witnessed the missionaries' staunchest labors and their heaviest trials. Outposts had been established and destroyed. Jesuit priests had suffered great hardships, and had been butchered with hideous cruelty. From 1660 the aspect of things changed. "The epoch of the saints and martyrs was passing away," writes Francis Parkman; "and henceforth we find the Canadian Jesuit less and less an apostle, and more and more an explorer, a man of science, and a politician." The map of Lake Superior, published in 1671, he pronounces "a monument of Jesuit hardihood and enterprise." Their yearly reports sent to France contained observations on the winds, currents, and "tides" of the Great Lakes; speculations on subterranean {18} outlets; accounts of copper mines; and here and there descriptions from hearsay of the mighty river, "wide, deep, beautiful, and worthy of comparison to our great St. Lawrence," which flowed southward, "perhaps to the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps to the Vermilion Sea," and which, "with the help of God and of the Blessed Virgin," should soon be made known to the world.


Chapter III


On the 10th of June, 1637, there was born of a proud and ancient line in a proud and ancient little city of France Jacques Marquette, destined to make famous a name which had been honorable and distinguished for five centuries. Laon, his birthplace, was one of those fortified French towns which has had an unbroken record of combat from the time the Romans built their first watchtower on its rocky eminence to the ghastly and glorious years of the World War. It forced back the Vandals; it held its steep and strongly fortified ridge against the invading Huns. There are some old Latin hexameters—probably the work of a belligerent monk—which tell how the savage hordes, failing of easy victory, passed by the stern little citadel to seek for richer and more defenceless spoil.

If Laon cannot claim to be "virgin of {20} English," like St. Malo and other guarded strongholds, it never failed to drive out the invader. If it fell twice before German onslaughts, it rose twice triumphant from defeat. During the Hundred Years War it was snatched from France by the Burgundians, recaptured by the French, lost to the English, and recovered finally after the consecration of Charles the Seventh. Henry the Fourth besieged it successfully in 1594. Beneath its walls Napoleon met defeat.

No city of the Middle Ages fought harder than did Laon for the communal charter, so dear to the burgher's heart, so necessary to his manhood and to his well-being. The immemorial quarrel between feudal lord (in this case a lord bishop) and rebellious commoner assumed its gravest aspect in this warlike town; and the final victory of the burgher brought him long years of prosperity. Far back, in 515, St. Rémy, the "Apostle of the Franks," built a church which took rank as a cathedral, and the hamlet was raised to the dignity of a bishopric. To its famous school, which became a center of learning in the Twelfth Century, there thronged {21} students from every part of France. Their numbers, it was said, far exceeded the numbers of the townspeople. Here came the rhetorician, William de Champeaux, and here came the renowned Abelard to study theology under Anselm. Three popes Laon sent to Rome, among them Urban IV, who, as a boy, had been a chorister in the cathedral, who had accompanied St. Louis to the Holy Land, had shared his captivity in Damascus, and had been proclaimed Patriarch of Jerusalem.

The first Marquette mentioned in the annals of Laon is one Vermand, a follower of that singularly ineffective prince, Louis the Seventh. The second is Jacques Marquette, a faithful and devoted servitor of John Le Bon. When the French king was taken prisoner at the battle of Poictiers, and was treated by the victorious Black Prince with a ceremonious and beautiful chivalry which thrilled Froissart's courtly heart with joy, Marquette followed his sovereign's fallen fortunes in England, and afterward labored valiantly to raise the money for his ransom. In return he was made a high official of Laon, and we find his descendants wearing {22} three martlets, the city's ancient insignia, upon their coat of arms. In 1590 Nicholas Marquette, an influential and far-seeing magistrate, espoused the cause of Henry of Navarre with so much ardor that he was banished from Laon, only to return with added wealth and honors when the great king was crowned. A Marquette was a member of the States General when that assembly met in Paris before the French Revolution, and three fighting members of the family served under La Fayette in America. Altogether a long record and a brave one.

For many years Laon remained a scholastic as well as a valorous little city, and the Marquettes were by way of being scholars as well as soldiers. Jacques Marquette, the discoverer of the Mississippi, was the son of the astute Nicholas who had been raised to civic eminence by Henry the Fourth. He was the youngest of six children. Through his mother, Rose de la Salle, he was related to the justly famous Jean Baptiste de la Salle, founder of the order of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, a society of laymen who nobly devoted themselves to {23} teaching the poor boys of France. Jacques received all there was of education in those days. He studied in the Jesuit schools at Nancy and at Pont-à-Mousson, evinced a strong leaning toward a religious life, and entered the Jesuit novitiate at seventeen. There followed twelve years of incessant work at Rheims, Charleville, and Langres. As novice and as priest, as student and as teacher, Père Marquette showed a singular aptitude for languages, an open, friendly, and conciliating disposition, and an ardent desire to carry the torch of faith into the dark places of the world. New France was naturally the goal of his ambition. Since 1611 the Jesuits had labored in that arduous field, and since 1632 they had established a chain of missions stretching from Quebec to the Great Lakes.

Every year there was published in Paris a volume of Jesuit Relations—letters and diaries sent by missionaries to their superiors. They contained information concerning the warring Indian tribes, accounts of life in the wilderness, reports of climate, soil, products, and the fur trade, rude maps of the country so far as it was {24} known, appeals for teachers and funds, and—most illuminating of all—plain, pitiless narratives of the deaths suffered by French priests at the hands of hostile savages. These Relations, which are now the source of much valuable knowledge, and which are freely quoted by Parkman and other historians, were issued in duodecimo volumes by Sebastian Cramoisy, and are known to collectors to-day as "Cramoisys." They were widely read, especially in court circles, and were productive of great results. The rich sent money for the missions. Convents despatched vestments, church linen, rosaries, prayer books, and pious pictures. Teaching and nursing orders offered their services to the colonists at Quebec and Three Rivers. Young Jesuit priests dreamed ardently of the day when their lives should be dedicated as a sacrificial flame on the altar of Christian faith.

Among them Père Marquette waited, and hoped, and prayed, and resigned himself anew each year to the will of his superiors. It was this implicit obedience, this absolute self-annihilation that made the order as serviceable as an army. Each unit did its part, but did it as a {25} soldier does, with reference to all the other units under one command. Parkman, who has left no phase of Canada's early history unexplored or unrecorded, explains very clearly and accurately the driving power of the first French missionaries. "The lives of these Canadian Jesuits," he says, "attest the earnestness of their faith, and the intensity of their zeal. It was a zeal bridled, curbed, and ruled by a guiding hand. Their marvelous training kindled enthusiasm and controlled it, roused into action a mighty power, and made it as adaptable as those great natural forces which modern science has learned to awaken and to govern."

It is hard to think of Père Marquette, so sensitive, so keen, so alive to pleasure and to pain, as resembling a natural force; but he had been molded into the desired shape, and the process had given him added strength and increased tenacity of purpose. He was twenty-nine when the summons came, and he was ordered to report in Quebec for missionary duty. Joyfully he sailed from France; and on the 20th of September, 1666, it was tersely recorded in the books of the Canadian Jesuits: "Père Jacques {26} Marquette arrived in good health, on the seventh ship." His chance had come; and he had need of all the good health and all the good spirits he could muster, to say nothing of all the good fortune that lay in wait, to speed him on his way.


Chapter IV


It cannot be said that the French missionaries went in ignorance to meet their fate. The Jesuit Relations are as outspoken as any narratives ever given to the world. From their pages, reinforced by the reports of traders, Parkman drew material for a volume which only the stout of heart and strong of stomach can bear to read in its entirety. He says repeatedly that details are omitted because they will not bear telling; but no man's fancy can conjure up tales more hideous than those which have been set down for our enlightenment. The Indian tribes warred perpetually and senselessly upon one another; and the first great bitterness tasted by the priests was their inability to save Indian captives from being burned at the stake, or painstakingly tortured to death. Père Paul Le Jeune, who lived for months with the Algonquins and went with them into the woods for their hard winter {28} hunting, failed to bring them so near to Christianity that they would abate one jot of this ritual of torture. "There is no cruelty comparable to that which they practise upon their enemies," he wrote dejectedly, after long months of experience.

The danger to the missionaries lay in their being surprised by a hostile tribe when they were laboring to convert a friendly one. If they founded a mission, sowed a field or two with corn and beans, established some faint semblance of order, and gathered the children (their only hope) into a school, then there swooped down upon them a stronger body of savages, who burned the village, and destroyed in a few hours the work of patient years. Père Jean de Brébeuf, who came of a noble Norman family, and Père Gabriel Lalemant met their terrible deaths (the most appalling on record) when St. Ignace, a Huron settlement, was raided by the Iroquois. Père Isaac Jogues, a scholar and a man of parts, was captured by the Iroquois when accompanying a party of Huron traders to Quebec. He survived tortures which should have killed a dozen men, escaped, and fled to {29} France, only to return when his wounds were healed to the field of his labors, and to be eventually butchered by the Mohawks.

The word Iroquois has been for so long associated in our minds with all that is terrible in savagery that we are apt to lose sight of the fact that other tribes were little less cruel and a great deal less able and sagacious. "The Iroquois," says Francis Parkman, "were the Indians of Indians." They came of mixed stock, the welding together of five nations, which were in turn divided into eight powerful clans. Could they have understood that the white man was the red man's great antagonist, they might have delayed the encroachment of civilization and the decay of their own people; but they lent their aid alternately to France and English colonists, and waged relentless war against savages who might have been their friends. When the Iroquois exterminated the Hurons, and with them the most fruitful field of the Jesuit missionary's labor, they lost their own foothold in the land of their inheritance. As raiders they continued to molest; but, weakened in numbers and in purpose, the day of their dominance was over.


It is from the Relations that we learn of their ferocity, and it is from the Relations that we learn of their courage and endurance. They were cruel after fashions of their own. The torture of prisoners was an Indian institution, a ceremony which gave hard-won pleasure to the victor, and to the captive a chance to show what mettle he was made of. But when Iroquois warriors took Algonquin babies, spitted, roasted, and ate them before their mothers' eyes, they used their imaginations. This was not the old simple process of inflicting pain upon the body of a man fastened to a stake for that purpose. This was a device to create suffering through love, through an emotion as strong in the Indian mother's heart as in the white woman's. It had the depraved malevolence of a corrupt civilization rather than the robust barbarity of the savage.

On the other hand, the Jesuits express with one accord their admiration for Iroquois intelligence and stoicism. "They steal through the woods like foxes," wrote Père Jerôme Lalement, "they fight like lions, and they disappear like a flight of birds." When on the warpath they {31} managed to subsist on a little parched corn and maple sugar, lighting no fires, and bearing the extremes of hunger, exposure, and fatigue with mute impassivity. Absolutely courageous themselves, they respected courage in their enemies. Guillaume Couture, one of the devoted laymen called donnés who gave their services without pay to the missionaries, was captured by the Iroquois when in attendance on Père Jogues. He so delighted the savages by the seeming unconcern with which he bore hours of torture that they adopted him into the tribe, undeterred by the fact that he had promptly shot the first warrior who laid hands on him. For three years he lived as an Indian, uncomfortable but deeply respected; and helped to negotiate the peace treaty of Three Rivers before returning to civilization.

On one point the priests expressed themselves with an emphasis which seems to carry a reproach—the decorous fashion in which Iroquois women, and Indian women generally, dressed. Whether in the coarse and dirty clothing of every day, or gaily attired for feasts, they were covered up with a completeness which gave the {32} good fathers much satisfaction. "Modesty," wrote Père Claude Chauchetière, "is natural to them." The band of dyed eelskin which fastened their heavily greased hair was often their only bit of color. That was bright red, as soft and flexible as ribbon. He doubts—and with reason—whether the most pious of French ladies were as irreproachably decent in their attire.

Full justice is done in the Relations to Indian hospitality, which was like the far-famed hospitality of the Arabs. If they had food, they shared it freely and as a matter of course with their neighbors. The smoky wigwams were open to all comers. The scanty larders were at the disposal of all. To the stranger in their midst were assigned the choicest portions of a meal. No one was refused a share. Improvidently gluttonous when food was plenty, the savages could fast indefinitely when food was scarce. Père Le Jeune says that the Indians who paddled his canoe ate at sunrise and at nightfall a bowl of pounded maize mixed with water. This was all. When the meal gave out, they went on paddling for several days without breakfast or supper, making no complaint and showing no signs of {33} exhaustion. The thrice-hammered hardihood of their sinewy frames was proof against famine and fatigue.

The Frenchmen were no match for the savages in this regard. They learned to live on very little food, but their strength failed. They learned to eat nauseous substitutes for food, but these their stomachs promptly rejected. In summer time and in the villages the Indians enjoyed a good and varied diet. Game and fish were plentiful. So were wild rice and maize. Wild cherries, very small, wild plums, very sour, and wild grapes, very good, were delicacies to be enjoyed. The squaws planted peas, beans, and pumpkins. There was never any lack of nuts, and the Indians had learned the art of tapping the maple trees for sugar. The porridge called sagamité, corn meal pounded and boiled, was eaten twelve months in the year. Flavored with meat, fish, or oil, it was palatable. Without these condiments it was coarse and insipid. The Mohawks gave Père Hennepin, a priest of the Récollet order, a bowl of sagamité mixed with little frogs, which they held in high esteem, but which he had infinite difficulty in swallowing. {34} He fared better when dining with a Sioux chief on a mess of wild rice boiled with whortleberries. This he found delicious. Père François Le Mercier tells us that when he gave the newly arrived Jesuit, Père Chastellain, some ears of freshly roasted corn, his guest, to whom our great American dish was a novelty, vowed that he had never dined better in his life.

These were the high lights of the Indian cuisine. It was a different tale in the long winter months, when the streams were frozen hard and the forests buried in snow, and when a little parched corn, hidden away in pits, was all that was left of the harvests. The braves who went far into the woods for game lived on the borderland of starvation. The less enterprising who stayed in the villages sometimes starved outright. "Harden thy heart against hunger," said an Algonquin chief to Père Le Jeune. "Thou wilt be two, three, and four days without food. Take courage always!" This was no fancy picture, as the Frenchman found to his cost. The time came when, if he had the skin of an eel for his day's supply, he considered that he had {35} breakfasted, dined, and supped luxuriously. Nor was his experience without its droll side. He had saved some bits of eelskin, which was flexible, intending to use them in patching up his torn cassock; but, when hunger pressed, he ate his patches; and he confesses that if the whole garment had been as edible, there would not have been much of it left.

One must be trained from childhood to endurance, or, with the best will in the world, one does not long endure. A diet of eelskin, varied, when luck was good, by dried moose meat, "hard as wood and dirty as the street," brought Père Le Jeune to the doors of death. Père Louis André, who spent a winter on the shores of Lake Huron, escaped starvation by eating acorns and tripe de roche, a species of lichen which when boiled dissolved itself into a black glue, nauseous, but not devoid of nourishment. He returned to Three Rivers in the spring, his ardor unabated, but his digestion permanently impaired.

Harder to bear than hunger and cold were the filth of the Indian lodges, filled with smoke {36} that had no egress, the noise and confusion of the Indian village, the painful lack of privacy and decorum. In council the braves behaved with savage dignity. "They do not all talk at once, but one after another, listening patiently." But their home life was a perfected miracle of dirt, disorder, and discomfort. The children were quieter than French children; but they were numerous, and the lodges were small. The hungry flea-bitten dogs intruded their unwelcome presence. The medicine men naturally hated the missionaries who threatened to undermine their influence, and strove unceasingly to stir up a spirit of antagonism. If the summer months were sickly, or the winter was unusually hard, if game was scarce, or an early frost destroyed the harvest, the medicine men pointed out that these misfortunes were due to the malignant presence of the "black robes"; and the Indians, who had been wont to charge such calamities to their heathen priests and to their heathen gods, now hastened to lay the blame upon the Christian priests who had come unbidden to preach to them of an unknown God.

Fear, the blind unreasoning fear of superstition, {37} rules the savage heart. It ruled the heart of the stoutest brave as well as of the feeblest child. Whatever was unknown was deemed to be malevolent. An Indian woman would watch a priest like a hawk, lest he should baptize her dying infant. Those drops of water, she believed, would hasten death. The sign of the cross was dreaded as invoking peril. The grave abstracted manner in which the missionaries read their breviaries awakened lively apprehension. Why should the strangers fix their profound attention upon those little black books unless they were pronouncing incantations? Finally, to quiet this recurrent suspicion, the priests chanted the Latin lines aloud. This was fatiguing, but it rendered their devotions safe. The Indians, to whom had been denied the gift of song, were correspondingly eager to sing. They sang loudly and lugubriously upon all occasions. They sang when they were hungry to distract their minds from this disagreeable circumstance. They sang triumphantly when they returned from the warpath, and their prisoners sang defiantly to show that they did not fear death. The Huron chiefs sang for hours to {38} convince Père Chaumont and Père Dablon of their good-will. Therefore, when the daily portion of the breviary was intoned, it became friendly instead of formidable. Music did have charms to soothe the savage breast and banish its alarms.

One fact was clear to the missionaries' minds: the Indians were hard to convert. Every spare moment was spent in studying the language of the tribe to which they had been sent. The quickest way was to winter in an Indian village, where their very lives depended upon their being able to make themselves understood. This sharpened their intelligence. The donnés sometimes acted as interpreters; but we find Père Le Jeune beseeching his Provincial in Paris to send him assistants who had a turn for study. To understand what the savage was saying, to answer him promptly, to speak his bewildering jargon so that it sounded both suave and authoritative—this, said the wise priest, was to win his confidence, to subdue his arrogance, and perhaps to enlighten his soul.

One French word remained untranslatable. The Iroquois, Hurons, and Algonquins had no term for God. Manitou and Oki meant anything {39} endowed with supernatural powers. It might be a snakeskin, or a rock daubed with a hideous painting. The priests were compelled to use some roundabout phrase, such as "He who lives in the sky," or "the Ruler of all men"; and the constant reiteration of such phrases impressed upon the savage mind the conception of a Supreme Being. "The Great Spirit," says Parkman, "became a distinct existence, a pervading power in the universe." Tribes of Indians who were never Christianized fitted into their welter of superstitions the idea of a vast controlling force, all-powerful and unseen. Some of them went so far as to endow this force with moral attributes. To them, at least, the Great Spirit was a dispenser of justice; wise, watchful, and beneficent.

The Jesuits found that belief in a future life was universal among the Indians; but they had great difficulty in picturing to them a Paradise so alluring as the happy hunting-ground which the souls of brave men reached after overcoming dangers and difficulties. They were equally unpersuasive when they threatened future punishment, for the very good reason that no Indian {40} could be brought to believe that he deserved it. He was, in his own eyes, a blameless being. True he stole. True he lied. True he treated his wives as beasts of burden, and occasionally punished their unfaithfulness by cutting off their ears and noses. Père Marquette reported that he had seen several women who bore the marks of their misconduct. True he was undeviatingly cruel to his prisoners of war. These things, however, represented the customs of the tribe. His father and his grandfather before him had lied, and stolen, and mutilated their wives, and tortured their enemies. Why should a white man come from a far land to preach a code of ethics which offended his self-esteem? Why should he be troubled by such unfriendly words?

On the other hand, the savages showed a lively interest in all the appurtenances of civilization; in the little hand-mills which the Jesuits had brought with them into the wilderness, and which ground the parched corn into fine meal; in the mysterious clocks, the magnets, the prisms, and the magnifying glasses. Père Brébeuf writes that the Hurons called his clock the "Chieftain {41} of the Day." They would squat before it for an hour, and sometimes for several hours, that they might enjoy the supreme delight of hearing it strike. They asked him what it said, and he told them that at noon it said "Time for dinner," and at four o'clock, "Go away." This they remembered; and if, after the Indian custom, they helped to eat his scanty meal, they obediently arose and departed at the stroke of four, leaving him in peace.

A flea, magnified to the dimensions of a beetle, entranced the Indians of New France as it entranced the Thibetans of Lhasa. Readers of Père Huc's delightful volumes, Souvenirs d'un Voyage dans la Tartarie, le Thibet, et la Chine, will remember that the author asked a lama for the loan of a flea to be shown under the microscope. The lama consented to furnish one if the priest would promise it should come to no harm. This pledge given, he proceeded gently to extract the desired insect from the innermost folds of his capacious robes. It was a robust specimen, strong and active; but unfortunately it failed to survive the exhibition; a circumstance which {42} so distressed its original proprietor and the surrounding crowd that they would not permit another live insect to be put under the lens. No such tenderness animated the Indian's breast. Père Le Jeune tells us that the Iroquois ate the fleas and lice with which they were infested; not that they liked to eat them, but in order to get even with the pests. It was their rudimentary notion of poetic justice.

There was one circumstance which added unfairly to the manifold troubles of the missionary. With the coming of French traders came French brandy, which the Indians at first rejected with horror, but learned too soon to love. They were singularly sensitive to its influence because, unlike most savages, they made no intoxicating drink of their own, and because their quality of imagination rendered them susceptible to any control which raised their spirits and lent them a transient gayety. That, drinking at all, they should drink to excess was inevitable. Moderation is the virtue of the civilized. What should these poor children of nature know of its supreme value? They could starve with composure; but they never ate moderately when they {43} had a chance to be gluttonous. Their simple idea of enjoying anything was to take too much of it. This being fully understood, the Jesuits opposed with all the forces at their command the sale of brandy to the Indians. For years it was rigidly forbidden; and, although the law was sometimes evaded, it was never openly defied. In 1665 Daniel de Rémy, Sieur de Courcelles, was appointed governor of New France, and M. Jean Talon received at the same time the post of intendant. Both were men of distinction and ability; both had much at heart the advancement and prosperity of the colonists. Talon did his utmost to encourage agriculture and promote the fisheries; but when it came to the more profitable field of trading he was soon at odds with the missionaries on the all-important subject of prohibition. The intendant was far from desiring drunken Indians; but he ascertained that when the French traders refused brandy to the savages they took their furs to the Dutch traders, who, having no scruples and no intrusive legislation, supplied them with all they wanted.

Here was a grievous state of affairs. Talon {44} represented to the Jesuits in Quebec that not only was the fur trade suffering, but that Dutch ministers seized the opportunity to instruct the Indians in the Protestant faith. Surely it was the duty of the order to save its converts, or its possible converts, from heresy. Even this argument failed to move the astute priests from their position. They probably felt themselves to be more than a match for Dutch parsons, but no match at all for French cognac. They continued to resist its sale to the savages with so much vigor, and they were so ably seconded by the Vicar Apostolic, Monseigneur de Laval, that it was a matter of three years before the intendant carried his point, and had the inhibition repealed. Along with the repeal went a law setting a penalty for drunkenness, which was a little like throwing children in the sea and forbidding them to drown. Talon also established a brewery in Quebec, with a view to diminishing the sale of spirits; but beer, though a safeguard for the colonists (who had the constitutional temperance of the French), was no possible protection for the Indians. In the first place, it could not reach them; and in the {45} second place, it could not give them the sensations they desired. They were not seeking for sobriety.

Such were the snowy wastes for which Père Marquette had yearned as for the promised land, and such were the savages whom he ardently hoped to convert to Christianity. He had qualities which promised a fair measure of success—courage, intelligence, sympathy, and a talent for friendliness. The Indians had qualities which responded to adroit and generous treatment. "The populous and stationary tribes," says Parkman, "had their code of courtesy, whose requirements were rigid and exact; nor might any infringe it without the ban of public censure. Indian nature, inflexible and unmalleable, was peculiarly under the control of custom. Established usage took the place of law; was, in fact, a sort of common law, with no tribunal to expound or enforce it. In these wild democracies—democracies in spirit though not in form—a respect for native superiority, and a willingness to yield to it, were always conspicuous."

Meeting courage with courage and courtesy {46} with courtesy, establishing and maintaining friendly relations with Hurons, Ottawas, and Algonquins, young, ardent, and adventurous, Père Marquette went into the wilderness to accomplish greater things than he had dreamed of in his long years of study and desire.


Chapter V


In 1666 Quebec was a small, strongly fortified town, where peace reigned, and life, though hard, was not devoid of pleasure and excitement. A church, a hospital, a convent of Ursulines (always the most adventurous of nuns), the well-built houses of the governor and of the intendant, the big bare dwelling of the Jesuits, the soldiers' barracks, and the great warehouse for furs, were its salient features. The garrison lent to the little gray streets an air of gay virility. The amenities of civilization, so dear to the French heart, were tenderly preserved. On New Year's Day, letters of compliment were exchanged, with such gifts as could be brought from France or manufactured at home. The nuns sent to the priests candies, rosaries, and pies, all of their own making. The priests sent to the nuns devotional books and little statues of saints. The governor sent {48} presents of a practical order—capons, pigeons, wild turkeys, and prunes—to priests and nuns. The priests and nuns gave to their protégés and working people books, souliers sauvages (moccasins), handkerchiefs, sweetmeats, and an occasional bottle of brandy. Formal visits were exchanged, and the Indians were feasted as well as the resources of the white men would permit. The good-will of a pioneer community, which was also a polite community, found its natural expression in giving. The pages of the Relations are filled with kindly deeds. One day Mme de la Péléterie sent the Jesuits two dozen napkins and two sheets. A week later another benefactress sent them four brasses (a brasse was nearly two metres) of red cloth, a brasse and a half of blue cloth, and several thousand porcelain beads, all of which were destined as presents for the Indians. When the Ursulines received boxes from France they shared the contents generously with their neighbors, sending on one occasion a whole keg of prunes to the priests, who did not often enjoy such an abundance of this esteemed delicacy. Wax candles were in great demand. Four of them in iron candlesticks burned on the {49} altar at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve in the Jesuit chapel. The bitter chill was moderated by two great iron kettles full of fire. The music was good: a violin, a flute—somewhat out of tune—and the best male voices the little town could yield.

There was even a pathetic attempt to reproduce the gaieties of home. A maypole was planted on May Day in front of the church (shade of Governor Endicott!), and hung with such odds and ends of ribbon and silk as could be spared for its adornment. The birth of a royal child in France was celebrated in far-away Canada with a procession or a play. The warehouse served as a theater, and here an ambitious troupe gave Corneille's splendid tragedy, The Cid. Most of the Jesuits attended this performance, "out of deference to Monsieur the Governor who took pleasure therein" (poor exile from Paris!), "as did also the savages." Later in the winter a ballet was produced. No priest or nun was present at this entertainment; but it has the kindly mention it deserves. To stage a ballet in midwinter in a Quebec warehouse needed courage, as well as enterprise and art.


If amusements were few among these pleasure-loving people, and luxuries unknown—unless prunes can be accounted a luxury—there was plenty of wood for burning, and plenty of game and grain for food. The fisheries were marvelous. Forty thousand eels were brought into Quebec in a single season. They were sold at half an ecu a hundred, so that nobody who liked eels needed to go hungry. It is piteous to think of Père Le Jeune in the woods with an eelskin for his day's rations, and forty thousand of these succulent fishes in the markets of Quebec. To the Ursulines were assigned the cargoes of reputable girls and young women who came to New France to be married and rear much needed families. The year before Père Marquette's arrival, one ship brought over eighty-two of these candidates for matrimony, most of whom—so say the Relations—had been taught housewifery by the capable nuns of France.

If Quebec seemed rude and wild to the town-trained eyes of Père Marquette, he was soon to know what rudeness and wildness really meant. Three weeks were allowed him for rest after a voyage rich in discomfort. Then, as the long {51} Canadian winter was beginning to draw in, and traveling, always difficult, would soon become dangerous, he was sent seventy-seven miles southwest to the trading station of Three Rivers, admirably situated at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and the St. Maurice, and one of the earliest settlements of New France. Tadoussac, on the mouth of the Saguenay, was probably the only other outpost which did as big a business with French and Indian trappers. On October 10th Père François Le Mercier, superior at Quebec, wrote with customary conciseness in the Relations: "Père Jacques Marquette goes to Three Rivers to be a pupil of Père Druillettes in the Montagnais language." This sounds simple when we read it; but it meant that the young priest's troubles had begun. The great and often insuperable barrier to the missionary's work was his difficulty in mastering the Indian dialects. They had to be studied without grammar or dictionary. They had to be understood with ease, and spoken with fluency. Learned French Jesuits discovered to their sorrow that they could never hope to make themselves intelligible to the savages. They were {52} compelled to return to France, or to confine their ministrations to the French settlers in America. We find Père Le Jeune confessing ruefully that Père Brébeuf has far outstripped him in study. The language of the Montagnais he considered especially exasperating, because it had so many different ways of saying the same thing. Where one word or expression sufficed for the French, the opulent Indians had a dozen. "When you know the parts of French or Spanish speech and how to combine them," he wrote, "you know the languages. Not so with us. Stock your memory with all the words which stand for objects, learn the knot or syntax that joins them, and you are still an ignoramus. For besides the names of individual things, there are an infinite number of words that signify several things together. And these compound terms have no relation, or alliance, or affinity in sound with the simple terms which signify the things apart. It is a tiresome abundance."

Père Marquette's aptitude for mastering tongues was now to stand him in good stead. This had been his great distinction throughout long years of study; and if he was never again {53} to speak the polite languages of Europe which he had acquired with so much zeal, the talent remained and could be turned to fresh account. Within a few years he learned six Indian dialects. In all of them he could make himself understood. In some of them he could be persuasive.

And persuasiveness was a winning card with savages whose pride was quickly wounded and whose suspicions were easily aroused. Tact was required to keep them in good humor, and dignity to win and hold their regard. The rules and regulations laid down by the first missionaries for the guidance of their successors are minute, punctilious, amusing, and infinitely wise. If a priest is traveling with Indians, he must be careful never to make them wait for him when embarking in their canoes. If his broad-brimmed hat annoys them, he must take it off and wear a nightcap. He must eat at break of day and at sunset, and he must eat the sagamité as it is prepared, however tasteless and dirty. It would be well for him to take the portion of food that is offered. He may not desire it all at first; but, as he grows accustomed to its {54} nastiness, it will not seem too much. He must not offer to paddle unless he is prepared to paddle all day; and he must not lend an Indian any portion of his clothing unless he has made up his mind to do without it for the rest of the journey. He must not give any outward indication of his fatigue or discomfort. Finally, he must not ask his fellow travelers too many questions, nor make too many observations, nor seek too indefatigably to learn Indian phrases. This annoys the taciturn savages. "Silence is a good equipment for a journey."

When living in a native village, the priest is warned that he must be gay and affable without undue familiarity. He must never complain of the food. He must not be too long in saying his prayers. He must visit the Indians in their lodges lest they feel themselves slighted. He must accept at once such attentions as may be shown him. If he is offered the best place by the fire, or the choicest morsel of food, he must take it without ceremony. He must show no annoyance when the dogs bark or the babies scream. "Nothing is lost by caressing the children, by {55} praising the young men and the hunters, by respecting the old, and by honoring the dead."

Admirable counsel, all of it! If now and then the missionary must have felt like a candidate for office at election time, the greatness of the end he had in view ennobled his tireless efforts to conciliate.

One equipment for a forest life was lacking in Père Marquette. He was not physically strong. Père Brébeuf and Père Jogues were men of iron constitution as well as iron will. They bore cold and hunger with a stoicism that matched the Indians'. They bore torture and death with a scornful dignity that surpassed the Indians' utmost efforts. But Père Marquette, when sent at the age of thirty-one to his first mission at Sault de Ste. Marie, the land of the Ottawas, and one of the farthest outposts of New France, was a short, slightly built man, hardened, indeed, to exposure and inured to fatigue, but with no great reserve of strength. His singleness of purpose carried him far. His natural gaiety of disposition, his love of adventure, his universal friendliness, his quiet and {56} sincere piety smoothed the roughness of his way. But he was singularly ill-fitted to live on acorns, or eelskins, or tripe de roche, or any such appalling substitutes for the simple and nourishing food of France.

Happily the latest treaty of peace with the Iroquois, a treaty concluded in the year of Père Marquette's arrival in Quebec, insured a fair measure of safety for the missionaries, provided they did not venture into the dangerous territory on Lake Erie, or push their canoes into that still more dangerous lake. The hostile savages had promised to keep off the warpath, and they held to their promise; but they did not propose to have their country invaded by French traders whom they cordially hated, or by Indian traders under French protection. This inhospitable attitude was singularly inconvenient for Père Marquette and his little party of two donnés and a strong young Canadian boy. It compelled them to travel slowly and painfully by river routes instead of on the Great Lakes. It necessitated long carries and endless delays. They waited until they could join other voyagers bound for the same destination; then in birch-bark {57} canoes, kneeling on rush mats, they braved the heady currents of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, making little progress, beaten back by adverse winds, and stopping every few days for parleys, or for barter with the savages who thronged the water's edge.

Mr. Reuben Thwaites has traced with care every mile of Père Marquette's ten weeks' journey, so rich in discomfort and adventure. The portage trail to Lake Nipissing, the passage through French River to Lake Huron, the beautiful, dangerous trip amid the islands of Georgian Bay and along the shores of the lake beyond. "Upon their right, pine forests mantled the bluffs, and swept down grandly to the water. Upon their left, the green waves stretched to the horizon." The canoes, those gallant little boats that seemed so frail yet weathered so many gales, that were so light and buoyant on the water and so uncommonly heavy to carry on land, that could be so easily overloaded yet must hold all that the wilderness could not supply, were at last nearing their journey's end. They entered the crooked little "River of St. Mary," and wound their way to their final {58} destination, the cataract known as the Sault de Ste. Marie, and the large village of Ojibwas, which was the heart and center of the Ottawa mission.

Twenty-seven years before Père Marquette's arrival, two French Jesuits, Père Jogues and Père Raymbault, had founded this mission and had reported that the savages were friendly and well disposed. Nineteen years later, Père Ménard on his way to Lake Superior and his death, had visited the Sault. In 1664 Père Louis Nicolas was sent as a missionary to the Ottawas, and Père Marquette was his successor in the field. It was an important post and one of the great centers of the fur trade. Indeed, for nearly two hundred years Indian and white trappers brought their pelts to be sold in its warehouses to French, English, and Americans.

It was also a spot of wild and savage beauty. Not much space in the Relations is devoted to the charms of nature. The missionaries had other and more important things to write about. But if Père Marquette is obstinately silent on this point, we find a really enthusiastic paragraph from the pen of his associate, Père Dablon, who is smitten to the heart by the glory of falling {59} waters, of rapids, and of steep pine-clad hills.

"What is commonly called the Sault," he writes, "is not a high cataract, but a rushing current of water from Lake Superior. Checked by the rocks which dispute its passage, it plunges headlong over them in a dangerous cascade like a set of giant steps half a league in width. The speed is fearful until the rocks are passed, when the water broadens out into a beautiful and gently flowing river, full of islands which divide it and increase its width, so that in some places the eye cannot see across."

It was at the foot of these rapids that the Indians fished for the famous atticameg, called by the appreciative Frenchmen "whitefish." The sport was difficult and dangerous. The fishermen, standing upright in their canoes, which were swept hither and thither by the whirling waters, plunged into their depths a net shaped like a pocket, and fastened to a stout rod. Watching keenly for their prey, they scooped it up with a sudden strong jerk of the wrist and landed it in the canoe, provided they were not overturned themselves, which very often happened. The fish were so plentiful that, during the {60} spring months, nomadic Indians came from far and wide to feast upon this delicate and abundant fare.

In all that related to sport; in the fisheries, in the wild life of the woods, in the brilliant birds and aggressive insects, the missionaries took a keen and intelligent interest; and of these things they made full reports in the Relations. We know how ingeniously the Indians constructed their weirs for catching eels, and how skilfully they harpooned the fish at night, floating silently in their canoes, with flaming torches fastened to the prows. An expert harpooner could spear three hundred eels in a night. Cut into strips, and carefully smoked by the squaws, these delicacies supplied food in the frozen winter months, when the moose were few and shy. That amazing little animal, the beavers, was to the Frenchmen a source of wonder and delight. A "master builder" they called it, whose two-story home far excelled the miserable dwelling places of the Indians. "The materials of which it is composed are wood and mud so well joined and bound together that we {61} have seen the savages sweat in midwinter when trying to break it open with their hatchets."

Of all the narratives that fill the many volumes of the Relations, those of Père Le Jeune make the best reading. The Jesuits wrote with unvarying clearness, though not with unvarying conciseness. Their reports have a convincing sincerity. There was plenty to be told, and the telling of it was done at leisure. When Père Marquette's turn came, he described his great adventure with careful accuracy, heightened at moments into eloquence. But Père Le Jeune was that rara avis, a real writer. He came to Quebec as superior of the Canadian missions; but being consumed by a desire for first-hand knowledge, he spent many months in Indian villages and at Three Rivers. He was earnest, ardent, and extraordinarily observant. It was said of him that he carried "a will of steel in a heart of fire." He was not a sentimentalist, and he cherished few illusions concerning fundamental savagery. But neither was he a defeatist. Happily, the word had not been invented in his day. From him we get the most graphic accounts of Indian {62} life, and from him we get the best descriptions of the North American fauna, so strange, so repellent, and so fascinating to the Frenchmen's eyes. He tells his provincial in Paris about the bears, the porcupines, the flying squirrels, and the raccoons—for the last of which he has only the Indian name. He then proceeds to describe two familiar objects so admirably and with so deft a touch that the brief paragraphs should be quoted in full:

"There is also a low animal, about the size of a little dog or cat. I mention it here, not on account of its excellence, but to make of it a symbol of sin. I have seen three or four of them. It has black fur, very beautiful and shining, and upon its back are two white stripes which join at the neck and at the tail, making an oval. The tail is bushy and handsome, like that of a fox, and is curled proudly back. It is more white than black, and at the first glance you would say, especially when it walks, that it ought to be called Jupiter's little beast. But it is so stinking, and casts so vile an odor, that it is unworthy of being called the beast of Pluto. No sewer ever smelled so bad. I would not have believed it if {63} I had not smelled it myself. Your heart fails you when you catch sight of the creature. Two have been killed in our court, and for several days afterwards there was such a dreadful stench throughout the hut that we could not endure it. I believe the sin smelled by Saint Catherine of Siena must have been exactly like it."

And to counterbalance this justly dreaded animal comes something beautiful and beloved:

"The most engaging little object I have seen is called by the French either the fly-bird, because it is scarcely larger than a bee, or the flower-bird because it lives upon the honey in flowers. It is one of the rarities of this land, and a little prodigy of nature. God seems to me to have wrought more wonderfully in this tiny bird than in the most powerful beast. When it flies, it hums like a bee. It can hold itself in the air, and stick its bill into a flower. The bill is long, and the plumage of a mottled green. Those who call it the flower-bird would, I think, come nearer to the truth if they called it the flower of birds."

Were ever wild things more faithfully, more charmingly, or more alarmingly described!


From Père Marquette we hear little of animal life, and still less of the beauty of his new abode. His concern was for the savages he had been sent to serve. He found the Ojibwas friendly, and—for Indians—gentle; but the Ottawa mission embraced a dozen surrounding tribes who came to the Sault to fish and to trade. His first reports have the optimism of inexperience, modified by a certain canniness which went hand in hand with his lifelong and inextinguishable enthusiasm. He is amazed at the readiness of his flock to listen to his words, he is delighted at their seeming acquiescence; but he doubts if ancient superstitions are easily overcome, and he is not without a suspicion that what they really desire is to please him in a matter of small moment. The stubborn scorn of the Hurons about Three Rivers sometimes yielded to argument or entreaty; and such converts remained firm in their faith. But here there was no hatred to overcome. The sanguine young priest confesses that the children are his hope and the dying are his certainty. Like many a missionary before him, he realizes that deathbed baptisms yield a "sure harvest."


In the meager comforts possible to such a life, the Sault ranked high. What with the abundance of fish, the patches of land cultivated by the Ojibwa squaws, and the continual presence of traders, there was variety of food as well as of company. Nevertheless, midwinter found the Indians here, as elsewhere, insufficiently fed. If Père Marquette is silent on this interesting point, Père Le Mercier, who visited the mission, is outspoken and explicit. He confesses that he envies the savages their capacity to eat three days' food when game is plenty, and to fast three days when game is scarce. He is firmly of the opinion that pounded fish bones are a poor substitute for pounded corn, and he makes certain dark allusions to a "moss that grows on the rocks," which can mean nothing else but the terrible "tripe de roche," which was like black glue, and which played havoc with the sensitive stomachs of the French.

The chapel in which Père Marquette said his daily mass was a strongly built hut adorned with forest greenery, and with such pictures and altar linen as could be carried so many miles from Quebec. In the eyes of the Indians it had the {66} splendor of a cathedral. Here he preached, here he taught the children, and here he baptized eighty infants, some of whom "went to Paradise." The percentage of deaths among Indian children was always high. This weakened the tribes numerically, but strengthened them physically. The boys and girls who fought through the first years of cold, exposure, hunger, neglect, and the perilous ministrations of the medicine men, must have been hard to kill. The girls grew into women, strong enough to bear the burdens laid upon them. The boys were well fitted for the

... life of shocks,
Dangers and deeds,

in which they took delight.


Chapter VI


In the summer of 1669 Réné Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, a French gentleman of good lineage to whom had been granted a tract of land at La Chine, nine miles from Montreal, abandoned security and wealth to go adventuring over the wild Canadian wastes. His seigniory was a valuable one. He was a man of mark and authority. But, being the stuff of which explorers are made, he could not content himself with even a semi-civilized life. Indian traders, en route to Montreal, told him tales of a mighty river emptying into the sea. This he conceived to be the "Vermilion Sea" (the Gulf of California), and the old, old vision of a route to the East fired his vivid fancy. An accomplished woodsman, fearless, indefatigable and adroit, a man of acute understanding who spoke several Indian languages with ease, he seemed eminently {68} fitted to carry the Lilies of France into the fertile lands that border the Great Lakes. It was said of him that his words were few and precise, that he was able to distinguish between the things he knew absolutely and the things he knew in part, and that he never pretended to know the things of which he was ignorant. To him belongs the honor of discovering the Ohio River, and to him Parkman ascribes the discovery of the Illinois. He hoped to go farther than these waterways could take him.

Frontenac, the martial and heroic governor of New France, was La Salle's friend and backer. So too was the Seminary of St. Sulpice, a community of ecclesiastics, "models," says Parkman, "of a discreet and sober conservatism," who held in Montreal the influential position that the Jesuits held in Quebec. The Seminary helped to supply La Salle with funds for his expedition; and, when he started, he took with him two Sulpician missionaries, Père Dollier de Casson (generally called Père Dollier) and Père Galinée. The latter, as it chanced, was a lively writer as well as a born adventurer, and his letters are gayer than most ecclesiastical {69} correspondence. From him we learn that La Salle, who presumably feared nothing, made an honorable exception in the case of rattlesnakes. These reptiles inspired in him a sick and shuddering abhorrence, and the sight of three of them crawling up a rock threw him into a fever.

The speed and lightness of the birch canoes, their perfect adaptation of means to an end, so delighted Père Galinée that he made up his mind to take one of them back to France if ever he were happy enough to return. Paddling all day on river or on lake, and sleeping all night on the bare bosom of mother earth, filled this rather exceptional priest with a deep sense of exhilaration. "As for food," he writes blithely, "it is enough to make one want to burn all the cookery books that ever were written; for in the woods of Canada one is able to live well without bread, wine, salt, pepper, or spice."

"Living well" meant living on sagamité, seasoned with meat or fish "when we can get them"; and, notwithstanding La Salle's superb health and Père Galinée's light-heartedness, all the members of the party were suffering from some form of malady when they reached Irondequoit {70} Bay, and a village of friendly Senecas who feasted them plentifully, and sent them gifts of pumpkins and wild berries. Here the sight of a prisoner tortured for six dreadful hours effectually sobered Père Galinée, who strove vainly to beg or buy the victim from his captors, and who was as keen to leave as he had been keen to arrive at a spot made hateful to him. In the next Indian settlement on Lake Ontario they encountered Louis Joliet, one of the most daring and adventurous of fur traders, who was destined to share with Père Marquette the glory of discovering the Mississippi. It was Joliet's account of Christian Indians living on the Upper Lakes which induced the two Sulpicians to turn their steps toward the forbidden Lake Erie. La Salle's goal was the Ohio. They parted reluctantly. The leader went on his perilous way. The priests and the traders wintered unobserved on the shores of the lake, in a log cabin which they built for themselves. Here, buried in the snows, they lived securely if monotonously on a diet of nuts which they had gathered, plums which they had dried, and game which they killed in abundance. When the spring came, they made their way, {71} after manifold adventures and mishaps, to the Sault de Ste. Marie, and to Père Marquette's mission in the wilderness.

It was a curious meeting. The Sulpicians, after four months of savage life, a hard journey, and a shipwreck which had swept away most of their possessions, considered that the Jesuits were enjoying the sweets of civilization. They had a square log fort for a habitation. Part of it was their home, and part of it was a real chapel, where the children came every day to learn their prayers, and where the ragged visitors were invited to hear vespers sung. A tract of land had been cleared and planted with corn, beans, and pumpkins. Fish was to be had for the asking. It was May, and the wooded slopes were beautifully green. The dancing waters sparkled in the sun. It must have seemed like Paradise to the way-worn travelers who would gladly have prolonged their stay, but who were bound for missions of their own. Change, indeed, lay in wait for all. Père Galinée and Père Dollier returned to Montreal for fresh orders from their Superior. There Père Galinée, aided by Joliet, who furnished him with some rough drawings, {72} made the earliest known map of the Upper Lakes. Père Marquette, a pawn in the great game of civilization, was sent a few months later far away from the beauty and safety of the Sault to the lonely, landlocked harbor of Chequamegon Bay, and the jutting breakwater christened in 1665 La Pointe du Saint Esprit.

This was the spot first visited by the fur traders, Radisson and Groseilliers, who came so near to robbing Père Marquette of the glory of his great discovery. They swung their canoes into its quiet waters in the autumn of 1659, built themselves a strong little log hut, which enjoyed the proud distinction of being the earliest dwelling place erected by white men on Lake Superior; and, undeterred by cold, danger, and privation, traded long and loyally with the Indians. Six years later, Père Allouez was sent from Quebec to start the first mission on this desolate coast. He gave La Pointe its French name, and ministered, as best he could, to the spiritual needs of half-a-dozen Indian villages, widely scattered, and populated by Ojibwas, Pottawattomies, and Kickapoos, to say nothing of fugitive Hurons and Ottawas, who, like {73} Orestes, were forever flying from the malignant fury of the Iroquois, and who had sought this refuge because the adjacent swamp lands offered a retreat from their hereditary foe.

As Père Allouez had grown old, feeble, and a trifle discouraged in the exercise of his calling, Père Marquette, who was young, healthy, and brimming over with zeal, was chosen to succeed him in this farthest outpost of French trade. He went with joyful alacrity, relishing the loneliness and danger as welcome factors in a great game, and precisely the things he had come to the New World to meet. Even the snow and ice of an early and exceptionally severe winter failed to chill his enthusiasm. From La Pointe he wrote a long and minute letter to his Superior, Père Le Mercier, who forwarded it to France, where it was embodied in the Relations, and added one more page to the slowly and patiently gathered materials of Canadian history.

It is a sober narrative, but not without high lights and exultant passages. Already the youthful missionary had seen enough of the Indians to mistrust their facile acceptance of his teaching, and already he had learned that, once really {74} Christianized, they led lives of amazing simplicity and goodness. The women especially heard in his words some promise of help in their drudgery and degradation. When he succeeded in persuading a brave to take back his wife whom he had cast off because he had wearied of her, other wives lifted up their heads, and looked a trifle more confidently into the future.

As usual his great trouble lay with that virulent plague of all savage life, the medicine men. They were an established institution. Their "cures" though inefficacious, were familiar and more or less diverting. If a woman's fever failed to moderate after a dance of questionable decency had been performed in her wigwam, the dancers at least had enjoyed themselves, the spectators had been entertained, and, as one old brave sagely remarked, it made no difference anyhow whether the woman lived or died. If an ill man grew worse after his body had been greased and he had been held over a blazing fire, the spectacle had been an exciting one, and it was to the medicine men's credit that their patient was not dead. The Hurons were too far advanced for such nastiness and folly; but the {75} Ottawas were still addicted, according to Père Marquette, "to foulness, incantations, and sacrifices to evil spirits."

A month's journey from La Pointe lay two great villages of Illinois Indians. They numbered eight or nine thousand, and were too strong to fear attack. Their fertile lands yielded abundant crops. The forest supplied them with game. The braves were mighty warriors who trafficked in slaves captured from weaker tribes. Worshippers of the sun and of the powers of the air, they were less grossly superstitious than their neighbors. Neither were they fierce or cruel, although they punished unfaithful wives with severity. Their language was not unlike that of other Algonquin tribes, and Père Marquette devoted his spare hours (few and far between) to perfecting himself in its intricacies. Wandering Illinois hunters bade him visit their land and teach their people. With their old enemies, the Sioux (called in the Relations Nadouessi), they were now on good terms; and the Sioux promised to permit the missionary to pass safely through their territory, and to give him the calumet, or peace pipe, as a token of good-will. {76} Indeed, these far-off friendly tribes, who had no intercourse with English or Americans, were eager to conciliate the unknown and mysterious power of France. "If the savages could learn to love God," wrote Père Marquette, "as easily as they learn to fear the French, Christianity would conquer the land."

From the Illinois, from the Sioux, from those strange nomads, the Kilistinaux, who built no villages, planted no land, set no traps, but lived by the chase and by bartering pelts, Père Marquette heard more and more of the great river, "a league wide," and flowing southward through lands where the winters were not of an icy coldness like those of New France, but mild and pleasant, and where the fertile soil bore two crops of maize a year. The savages dwelling on its banks traded with white men who prayed, as did the French priests, with rosaries, and who were summoned to prayer by the ringing of bells in their churches. The Indian name of the river was becoming familiar to the missionaries, though it suffered many vicissitudes at their hands. Messipi was the most frequent form of spelling, Missip was a popular abbreviation, {77} Mitchisisipi appears on early maps, and Misisipi was a thrifty saving of consonants. Père Dablon wrote it painstakingly Messi-Sipi; and only in 1671 do we see it beautifully correct, with all its flowing syllables in order.

The Jesuits were well aware of France's eagerness to spread her colonies westward and southward, and of the supreme importance of a waterway. Père Marquette was only one of many who dreamed of discovering this way and so simplifying all future explorations. Two things were imperatively needed: light and strong canoes and the backing of temporal and spiritual authorities. For the first he was already making tentative bargains with the Indians, and wondering more than once if they could be trusted to keep their word. For the second he relied upon the fact that Père Dablon had in 1670 been appointed Superior General of all the Jesuit missions in New France, and there was no cleric or layman in the country more keen than he to learn the course and outlet of the unknown river.

It was a period tense with expectation. Père Marquette was divided naturally enough between the heady ambition of the explorer and {78} the sober zeal of the missionary. In one and the same paragraph he wrote to Quebec that he hoped to carry the light of faith to savage tribes "that have long waited for this happiness"; and that the finding of the "Mesippi" will afford "a certain knowledge of the Southern or of the Western Sea into which it empties." He was not much given to analyzing his own mind or motives. Generations of fighting ancestors had bequeathed to him simple ways of thought. Perhaps, too, a hardy life in the woods, filled with work and sprinkled with dangers, is not conducive to self-dissection. Père Marquette's letters are apt to close with some such line as "wherever God does us the grace to lead us," the finality of which is the summing up of earthly hopes and fears.


Chapter VII


It was a warlike outbreak on the part of the Sioux ("the Iroquois of the North") that drove the Hurons and Ottawas from La Pointe, and that drove Père Marquette along with them, because of the many Huron converts whom he could not bear to leave. The Ottawas had been mad enough to provoke hostilities, and the Sioux were not foes to be lightly disregarded. They were strong, brave, generous in their fashion, and supremely competent. Their use of sweating baths in illness proves them to have been possessed of common sense. These baths are minutely described by Père Hennepin, who was long held a captive, and who attributes to them his recovery from a prostrating fever and lameness. Heated stones were piled in small huts closely covered with buffalo skins. In these huts the patients were laid, while water poured over {80} the stones produced a dense vapor. This treatment, repeated two or three times a week, wrought many cures. Savages who discovered for themselves that steam baths are more medicinal than indecent dances must have been fairly intelligent.

When these lordly Indians promised to Père Marquette a safe conduct through their territory, he had returned the compliment by sending them some religious pictures, the best and brightest his scanty stock afforded. Before taking the warpath, the Sioux restored these pictures to their owner, intimating at the same time that, while they would no longer permit the Hurons or the Ottawas to remain at La Pointe, they would give them time to depart in safety—and in haste. A formal ceremony like this was beyond measure dear to the Sioux heart, and to the hearts of all Indians. It is a thousand pities that heraldry was unknown to them. Of all the institutions of civilization it would have given them the purest delight. It would have expressed to perfection their love of display, their sense of dignity and importance.

Not for a moment did the offending tribes {81} mistake the purpose of their ceremonious enemy, or underrate their own peril. From the surrounding villages stores of meal and dried fish were collected. Canoes were built in frantic haste. Skins, rush mats, arms, food, clothing, the simple furnishings of savage homes, the still simpler tools of savage agriculture, were packed in bales and consigned to the frail crafts which were the fugitives' only hope. The Ottawas resolved to go to Manitoulin Island in the northern waters of Lake Huron, a spot with which they were tolerably familiar. The more numerous Hurons decided, after many councils, to risk a return to their old home on Michillimackinac Island, admirably situated at the junction of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, and so famous for its fishing that it was called in Indian parlance, "the birthplace of all fishes." From this abode of plenty they had once been rudely driven by the Iroquois. They greatly feared their ancient and cruel enemy; but, for the moment, they feared the Sioux more. Scylla was a threat, but Charybdis was a deadly certainty.

Michillimackinac (no people in the world {82} were so profuse with their syllables as were the Indians) had witnessed many vicissitudes. It was, in the words of Père Dablon, who had established there the mission of St. Ignace, "an island of note." The wind-swept waters of the lakes were of an icy coldness. The winter climate was as genial as Greenland. But the light sandy soil grew maize and pumpkins, and the high rocks made observation points from which approaching enemies could be seen twenty miles away. As for the fishing, Père Dablon assures us that wherever else fish might be found, the island was their only real abode. They were casual inmates of other waters. Herring, carp, pike, whitefish, "golden fish," and sturgeon could be caught without effort. Trout—or something which he calls trout—were terrifyingly abundant, and most terrifyingly overgrown—three feet and more in length. They were so fat that the Indians, who loved grease, had difficulty in eating them, and so plentiful under the ice that a skilful harpooner could pierce half a hundred in three hours.

The vantage point of the island was its accessibility to traders who passed through the {83} narrow strait on their way to and from the Georgian Bay. "It is the key for the people of the South," says Père Dablon, "as the Sault is the key to the people of the North. For in these regions there are only two passages by water for the many tribes who must seek one or the other if they want to reach the French settlements."

On the island itself, or on the adjacent mainland (the matter is still in dispute) Père Marquette, invincibly determined and invincibly patient, built a third log chapel, resembling as closely as possible the chapels at the Sault and at La Pointe. The Hurons, ever mindful of their precarious position, built a fort and a palisade to defend as best they could their utterly defenseless homes. A Huron village in 1672 was not wholly unlike a Bornean village to-day, except that in Borneo a whole community is sheltered under the same roof, in a sort of one-story apartment house, fairly well built and moderately comfortable; whereas a Huron lodge held, at the most, half-a-dozen families. Each family had its own fireside, with the result that all the inmates were dried like herring in the smoke. {84} Each family had what privacy a partition of bark or skins could give it. Each family had its own bunks, and its own private supply of food, which was freely shared, its own dogs, its own children, its own dirt, and fleas, and lice, and mosquitoes. These last were common property.

Fleas and lice were not unknown to the missionaries in their own land; but mosquitoes were a novelty and the plague of their lives. Père Le Jeune describes them as "little flies, troublesome in the extreme," by which he feared he should be devoured alive. The tender French skin offered no resistance to their virulence, and even the tough and seasoned Indians regarded them with strong disfavor. According to the theology of the Natchez, one of the punishments that lay in wait for the ill-doer was to be exposed after death to their bites. Instead of a happy hunting-ground with plenty of game on which to gorge himself, he would wander naked in swamp lands, with plenty of mosquitoes to feed on him.

Père Marquette, like all the missionaries, lived in a lodge of his own; but his parochial visits enabled him to enjoy to the utmost the {85} Huron housekeeping. It was said of Père Hennepin that he had an especial art in soothing the shrieking Indian children. Père Marquette claimed no such distinction. He taught the poor little things, and heard them say their prayers, and administered what simple remedies he had for their disorders. He tried to keep himself clean without offending too deeply the Indian preference for dirt; and he made headway, slow but sure, against the wall of ignorance and stolid indifference which centuries of savagery had induced. In 1672 he wrote a long letter to Père Dablon, describing his labors, his encouragements, and his disappointments. It is noticeable that he calls the Hurons Tionnontateronnons, and the Ottawas Outaouasinagaux. We have reason to be grateful that these interminable words, dear to the Indian's heart, and tripping lightly, if gutturally, from his tongue, have been merged into a few general and abbreviated terms. The mere pronouncing of so many syllables, to say nothing of writing them, must have taxed a Frenchman's memory and patience.

"One needs the grace of perseverance," wrote Père Marquette, "in dealing with savage minds {86} that are without knowledge and without steadfastness. God alone can give them light and firmness while we stammer in their ears the words of Christian faith. It is all too easy for them to slip back into the grossness and superstition in which they and their fathers before them have been reared. Nevertheless, when I was away for a fortnight last summer, my little flock came daily to the chapel to pray. The children sang their hymns, and asked over and over again when I was coming back. On my return, men and women gathered to meet me, and accompanied me joyfully to the chapel. I trust that what they do now from respect and custom, they will one day do with keener faith and love.

"I gladly attended their great pumpkin feast [it sounds like Thanksgiving Day], and bade them be grateful to God for their plentiful harvests. In the autumn I paid many visits to the fields; and, as we have no church bell, I make a daily round and summon my parishioners to prayer. The hunting this year has been unusually good. The woods have been full of bears, stags, beavers, and wildcats. Nowhere has there been a lack of food."


Then follows a recital of the missionary's efforts to rid the Indian mind of its most tenacious superstition, a profound and apprehenhensive belief in dreams. Freud would have welcomed the Hurons to his heart, would have told them shocking things, and have intensified their dismal sense of uneasiness. Sir Arthur Mitchell would have found in them an illustration of his theory that we are all decadent in our dreams. Marcel Foucault would have traced the connection between such dreams and the appointed destruction of the tribe. But the French Jesuits, assured that the chaotic anarchy of dreamland, in which the sanest of us is mad, has no bearing upon the ordered realities of life, contented themselves with telling the savages repeatedly, and not very successfully, that dreams meant nothing at all. Père Le Jeune says that the implicit reliance of the Hurons and the Algonquins upon their dreams made them as undependable as the weather. Père Charlevoix, who published in 1744 an account of his wanderings in Canada, tells us of an Indian who, having dreamed that he had lost a finger, promptly cut it off the next day, thus meeting {88} fate a little more than halfway. Père Marquette, by dint of argument and ridicule, succeeded at last in convincing the hunters that if one of them chanced to dream about a bear, it was no good reason for refusing to kill a bear the next day. Perhaps the instinct of the chase lent weight to the missionary's words. They bore fruit in a decrease of superstitious fear and an increase of coveted game.

Other interests the Frenchmen had in the wild life they lived. These were scientific rather than spiritual. The winds and the tides were objects of keen curiosity and careful comment. "This island," wrote Père Marquette, "is surrounded by three great Lakes which seem to be incessantly playing at ball with one another. The winds from the Lake of the Illinois no sooner subside than they are hurled back by the Lake of the Hurons, and those from Lake Superior are the highest and fiercest of all. In the autumn and winter months there is a succession of storms; and with these mighty waters all about us, we seem to be living in the heart of a hurricane." The tides, or what appear to be tides, he ascribes to the action of the winds, "which drive {89} the waves before them in a recurrent flow and ebb." He also thinks it possible that Lake Superior has a subterranean outlet. "We have discovered a great discharge of water gushing up from the bottom of the Lake, and making whirlpools in the strait that lies between the Lake of the Hurons and that of the Illinois."

It was, however, the all-important subject of copper mines that deeply interested priests, donnés, and traders. The French coveted this precious metal, and the Indians guarded it with profound and jealous care. They had uses of their own for it, and they held it to be a sacred, or semi-sacred substance, dear to the heart of a somewhat vague but powerful and malignant deity. The pits on the Isle Royale and on the southern shore of Lake Superior yielded to their primitive mining lumps of copper from which they fashioned spearheads, arrowheads, knives, and occasional ornaments. Père Lallemont, writing in 1640, waxed eloquent over the amethyst-studded rocks that bordered the mighty lake, and over the pieces of copper, as big as a man's fist, which he had seen again and again. Père Le Jeune wrote to his Superior that {90} copper was in use by the savages; but that they did not know, or would not tell, the whereabouts of the mines.

It is from Père Allouez and Père Dablon that we get the most vivid accounts of the sacredness in which this beautiful metal was held. Père Allouez wrote in 1667 that he had seen large lumps of copper lying on the bed of Lake Superior, and plainly visible through the clear water. The Algonquins called these lumps the "riches of the gods," and believed they brought good fortune if undisturbed. Some of the braves possessed lumps of their own, which they cherished carefully, and which they bequeathed with solemnity to their sons. Père Dablon told at length the weird story of the floating island which moved hither and thither with the variable winds, and which was the abode of a god. Four Indians, landing on this island, and unaware of its sacred and unstable character, built a fire on the smooth stones which covered its shore, and proceeded to cook their fish. When they had eaten and the fire had cooled, they discovered that what they had taken for stones were pieces of pure copper; and, {91} hastily reëmbarking, they carried the precious metal away with them. Scarcely, however, had they left the land when a voice like angry thunder sounded in their ears: "Who are these robbers," it said, "who steal the toys of my children?" Terrified beyond measure, they turned back and replaced the copper on the beach; but it was too late. They had laid profane hands on a sacred thing, and the injured god was not to be so easily appeased. Three of the savages sickened and died on their way home; and the fourth had barely time and strength to reach his village and relate his adventure before he, too, paid the price of sacrilege. For imagination and a sense of fear—that motive power of heathen creeds—this tale rivals Lord Dunsany's "Gods of the Mountain," and "A Night in an Inn." But Lord Dunsany's vagabonds are stout-hearted liars and dare-devils. The poor Indians sinned in ignorance and failed to escape their doom.

It was the search for copper which prompted Talon to send Daumont de Saint-Lusson in 1670 to trade with the Indians on the shore of Lake Superior, and to take formal possession of the {92} country in the name of Louis the Fourteenth. Saint-Lusson was accompanied by one of the ablest and most daring of French voyayeurs, Nicolas Perrot, who at an age when the modern youth is being slowly and amply educated, had traveled far into the wilderness, had established friendly relations with Indian tribes whose languages he spoke fluently, and had written a lively account of his adventures. It is thanks to him, and to that indefatigable chronicler, Père Dablon, that we know the details of the impressive ceremonies with which the fleurs-de-lis were raised on one of the green and lovely hillsides of the Sault de Ste. Marie.

Fifteen Frenchmen composed Saint-Lusson's meager following. Fourteen Indian tribes had been summoned to the great pow-wow, and the braves came in goodly numbers, fired with curiosity and misgiving. It was June. The Sault was at its fairest. The French soldiers were fully armed. Three Jesuits gave the ceremony a semi-sacerdotal character. A great cross of wood was raised and solemnly blessed, while the Frenchmen, uncovered, sang the Vexilla Regis. Then a post of fine cedar bearing the royal arms {93} engraved on a copper plate was erected, and the Frenchmen sang the Exaudiat. Then Père Allouez made a lengthy address to the assembled Indians. He spoke of the Christian creed and what the cross stood for. He spoke of the power of France, of the magnificence of the French monarch, of his unquestioned authority, his beautiful cities, his wealth, his armies, his victories. "Being well versed in the language of the savages," wrote Père Dablon in the Relations, "he was able to adapt himself to their understanding, and the account he gave of the king's incomparable greatness so overwhelmed them with astonishment that they were smitten to silence, not having words in which to express their wonder."

This effect being produced, Saint-Lusson arose, sword in hand, and declared the country with its lakes and rivers to be the property of His Most Christian Majesty, and the natives to be his subjects and vassals, "bound to obey his laws and follow his customs." In return they were to receive "succor and protection from the incursions and invasions of their enemies." The nations of Europe were notified in formal {94} phraseology that they might not settle upon any part of the land without the concurrence of France. Saint-Lusson's words were faithfully translated by Perrot, who acted as interpreter. At their close the soldiers fired a volley of musketry and shouted Vive le Roi! The savages yelped with sudden terror at the noise of the guns, and then subsided into dignified apathy. A feast closed the day, a great bonfire was lighted, and the Te Deum solemnly sung, "to thank God on behalf of the poor Indians who were now subjects of so great and powerful a monarch." The next morning the French retired in good order, and the braves returned to their tribes, having first carefully removed the royal arms which they feared might be in the nature of a charm. The beau geste had been made with punctilious propriety, and everything remained as it had been before.

Yet not quite the same, for among the little group of Frenchmen was Louis Joliet, who accompanied Saint-Lusson on his further expedition along the shore of Lake Superior, and learned more and more about the river that only Indian eyes had seen. All that was told him he {95} reported faithfully to Talon. The intendant was ill at ease at hearing nothing from La Salle, whom he had sent—with the help of the Sulpicians—on an expedition to the southwest, hoping that he would "some day find the passage to Mexico." La Salle had, after his fashion, disappeared in the wilderness. None knew whether he were living or dead. It was necessary to find another pioneer to take up his task, and that was an easy matter in New France where the love of adventure ran high, where nobody calculated on living long, and where everybody was keen to do something with life while he had it. The colonists were imperfect men; but very few of them reached perdition by way of safety.


Chapter VIII


In 1672 the Seigneur de Courcelles, Governor General of New France, was succeeded in office by a man whose name is stamped indelibly upon the troubled history of his time. Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac, was a soldier of distinction and a devoted servant of France. He was also a far-seeing man of affairs, who succeeded in diverting a great deal of Indian trade from the rapacious English and Dutch settlers to the equally rapacious French. The fort which he built on Lake Ontario, and which bore his name, gave protection to his countrymen by holding the restive Iroquois in check. Parkman admits that as a negotiator with these proud, sensitive, and warlike Indians, Frontenac was without a peer. He knew how to enforce respect and win regard. "He seems to have had an instinctive perception of the treatment they {97} required. His martial nature, his clear, decisive speech, his frank and downright manner, backed as they were by a display of force which in their eyes was formidable, struck them with admiration, and gave tenfold effect to his words of kindness. His predecessors had never ventured to address the Iroquois as 'Children,' but had always called them 'Brothers.' Yet an assumption of paternal authority on the part of Frontenac was not only taken in good part, but was received with apparent gratitude. They thanked him for that which from another they would not have endured."

With wise counsel, briefly imparted, with generous promises and lavish gifts, with veiled threats underlying his most suave and gracious words, Frontenac prevailed upon the Iroquois to permit the erection of his fort and storehouses at Cataraqui. They agreed to leave his soldiers unmolested and to send their pelts to his traders. As a striking proof of their confidence, they dispatched two young boys and two girls, children of chiefs, to be educated in Quebec, the boys in the Governor's own household, the girls in the convent of the Ursulines. {98} Well might this astute negotiator have written to France: "I may boast of having impressed the five nations with respect, fear, and good-will."

The order of succession is noticeable. Frontenac had his way because back of his friendly advances, back of his costly gifts, back of his real desire to conciliate and be at peace, was the invincible determination to win by war what he could not gain by diplomacy. As long as the Iroquois refrained from violence they had no surer friend than the governor. It is probable that he had a better feeling for them than for his French associates—his quarrels being many and vigorous. But he managed to make them understand what they had never understood before—that neither the white man, nor the white man's Indian allies, could be molested with impunity. The result of this original point of view, coupled with a rigorous respect for their own rights and some delicate concessions to their pride, was a long respite from war, and a splendid chance to increase the activities of trade. Frontenac enriched himself, but he also helped to enrich France.


The tale of his last years is briefly told. While he ruled, all went well; but he had at least as many enemies as friends, and they never rested until he was recalled to France in 1682. His successor, La Barre, was most unfortunately chosen. Possessing neither courage nor prudence, he managed to lose in ten months the fruits of ten years' diplomacy; and by the time he was superseded by the Marquis de Dénonville the once peaceful country was aflame with war. Dénonville had courage to spare, but no adroitness and no perception of Indian character. He angered the Iroquois without intimidating them, which was a grievous thing to do. They became more and more restive, more and more threatening. There were raids on Huron and Algonquin villages, ambushed attacks which cost the lives of French traders, a steady loss of commerce, a deepening sense of danger everywhere. All this was little to the fancy of the French king; and, after seven years of disorder and bloodshed, Frontenac was conjured to return to his post and, by force of counsel or by force of arms, bring the Five Nations once more under subjection.


It needed force of arms. Frontenac tried patiently and vainly to patch up a peace, hold back the encroachments of the British, and reëstablish his old firm and friendly relations with the Indians. The Iroquois were ready to promise amity to the French, but not to the hated Algonquins. Frontenac liked the Iroquois, and had no especial fancy for the Algonquins; but honor and wisdom alike forbade him to sacrifice friend to foe. At the age of seventy-six, this redoubtable old warrior took the field against an enemy whose strength he knew, whose qualities he respected, and whom he had warned twenty-four years before to refrain from provoking the hostility of France. The campaign was brief and decisive. The red men far outnumbered the white, and were fearless fighters; but the French were better armed and better led, and the discipline of frontier life enabled them to bear exposure, hunger, and fatigue with an almost savage unconcern. They carried the war swiftly and terribly into the enemy's country, attacking and burning the palisaded villages as though they had been stacks of straw. The inmates fled to the forests; but the forests afforded no safety {101} to beaten Indians who had other Indians for foes. The Iroquois saw their homes destroyed, their braves slain, their children captives, their places of retreat beset by hostile tribes. They were compelled to sue for peace, accepting terms instead of dictating them, and realizing in bitterness of spirit that the white chief who had given them their choice of friendship or of war had kept both his promises and his threats. Frontenac received the cross of Saint Louis from France, and the heartfelt gratitude of his countrymen in Canada. Two years later he died.

This was the man who coöperated cordially with the plans of the intendant, Talon, for the development of Canadian trade and the enlargement of the Canadian domain. This was the man who listened with keen interest to the intendant's tale of the mysterious Mississippi, and of his cherished plans for its discovery. They were to be his, alas! no longer, for he was on the eve of returning to France. His useful and interesting life in the New World was over. He could but leave to his successors the duty of carrying on the work which {102} he had begun, and the joy of fulfilling hopes which he had only dreamed. Frontenac, who never made the mistake of despising experience, listened attentively to his words and implicitly followed his counsel. When Talon proposed Joliet as the best leader for the Mississippi venture, the governor acquiesced in his choice, and wrote to Colbert that he was fortunate to find at hand a young man discreet and experienced. "The sieur Joliet is very skilful in these kinds of discoveries, and has already been near the great river of which he promises to ascertain the course. We shall have certain news of it this summer, and perhaps of copper mines as well."

Louis Joliet was the son of a wagon maker in the service of the Company of the Hundred Associates. A hardy, bright-eyed boy, he had attracted the attention of the Quebec Jesuits, who took him into their school and educated him—they hoped—for the priesthood. But the lad, though satisfactorily decent and devout, had in him the instincts of the rover. He could never have waited, as Père Marquette had {103} waited, twelve years in servitude. He wandered from the start—over to France, which he found tame, back to Canada, and far into the perilous woods. As trader, explorer, guide, and interpreter, he had learned all that the wilderness could teach. The never-ending search for copper mines kept him well employed, and his admirable knowledge of the Indian languages helped him in the buying of furs. Parkman says that he had no commanding qualities, which is probably true; but as friend and comrade he was unequalled. Twelve years younger than Père Marquette, the two men had been friends whenever they had a chance, which was not often. Both were fearless, sanguine, resolute, and conciliating. In both hearts there burned the inextinguishable zest for adventure.

This zest, as I have already said, was part of the missionary's outfit. Without it, the corresponding zest for saving souls would have been painfully thwarted. It is one thing to obey an order and faithfully perform a task. It is another to leap to the task with a happy sense of destiny fulfilled. The heads of the great religious houses {104} knew very well the kind of priests to send abroad and the kind to keep at home. Sometimes, indeed, they failed to curb the resistless wanderlust. A case in point was the famous Franciscan friar, Père Hennepin, who seems to have been a free lance, as unfettered and as uncertain as the winds or weather. It was he who discovered and named the Falls of St. Anthony, then a sheer descent of sixty feet, beneath which, veiled in mist and foam, dwelt Oanktayhee, the much feared God of the Sioux. It was he who wrote with characteristic exaggeration the first account of Niagara Falls, which had been marked on Champlain's map nearly fifty years earlier, but of which only confused and absurd reports had reached Europe.

Père Hennepin, it is said, derived his passion for roving from the French and foreign sailors who frequented the ports of Calais and Dunkirk. Perhaps he also learned from them the art of embroidering a narrative. Certain it is that he never wearied of their company; and if they showed signs of wearying of his, he sought to obtain by stealth the pleasure which he dared not openly claim. "Often," he confesses, "I hid {105} myself behind tavern doors while they were talking about their voyages. The tobacco smoke made me dizzy and ill; but I did not care. I could have listened whole days and nights, without eating or sleeping, to their stories of the sea and of far-away countries."

With something of this ardor, Père Marquette, teaching his Indian children and attending his pumpkin feasts at St. Ignace, listened to all that wandering savages had to tell about the Mississippi. A year before, Père Dablon had written from hearsay an account of the river, "deeming it proper to set down all that we have learned, even at second-hand." He described it as circling the Great Lakes and flowing southward to the "Vermilion Sea." "Some Indians assure us that three leagues from its mouth it is broader than is the St. Lawrence at Quebec. They say, moreover, that in this vast extent of country there are boundless prairies without trees or bushes, so that the inhabitants are obliged to use turf or sun-dried dung for fuel. Twenty miles from the sea the forests grow thickly. Some warriors from the South, the Maskoutens, describe the shores of this river, {106} and the country inland, as populated by many tribes who differ in language and customs, and who are ceaselessly at war with one another. The Nadouessi [Sioux] are the most numerous, powerful, and widely scattered. Their villages may be found for more than a hundred leagues."

Just why and when Père Marquette was chosen to be Joliet's associate in the voyage of discovery we do not know. It was customary for a priest to accompany every expedition, partly because it emphasized the possible conversion of the Indians, and partly because discipline and experience had made the missionaries adepts in dealing with temperamental savages. Père Marquette's name may have been suggested by Joliet himself, or by the fathers of the mission in Quebec with whom he was in close conference before his departure. A single line in the Relations tells us that Frontenac and Talon were "well pleased" that the young Jesuit should be one of the party. Five lines in Père Marquette's journal tell us almost as briefly that on the 8th of December, 1672. "Monsieur Jollyet arrived with orders from Monsieur the Count de Frontenac, governor of New France, {107} and Monsieur Talon, our intendant, bidding him accomplish this discovery with me."

This is the extent of our information, and it is enough. There were missionaries in plenty with a wider experience, a better knowledge of woodcraft, a keener eye, and a readier pen. But Père Marquette possessed four great qualifications for the job. He was young—only thirty-three. He spoke half-a-dozen Indian languages. He was cautious as well as fearless. Above all, he had evinced in the three missions to which he had been sent a talent for friendliness. His eager, open, simple manner disarmed suspicion. His candor and kindness produced good-will. If his parishioners at St. Ignace came to church because they liked him, might not the unknown tribes, through whose territory he was compelled to pass, like him well enough to refrain from murdering his party? It was a reasonable conjecture.

Therefore was Joliet commissioned to carry to St. Ignace the appointment from Frontenac, and a letter from the Jesuit superior bidding the quiet little priest fare forth on his extraordinary quest. It may be noted that the Jesuits {108} placed as much confidence in Joliet as they did in their own son. In the Relations of 1673 there is a report sent from Quebec to France commending him highly as one possessed of every qualification for the task, and as the best man whom Frontenac could have found. "He has both tact and prudence, which are the chief characteristics required for the success of a voyage as dangerous as it is difficult. He has the courage to dread nothing where everything is to be feared."

It was on the feast of the Immaculate Conception that Joliet reached Machillimackinac with the gleeful tidings. The auspiciousness of the date thrilled Père Marquette's soul with the happiest anticipations. His fervent devotion to the Mother of God, his daily prayers for her intercession and her aid, had brought him this signal favor. Of all the Indians whom he had so far encountered none had seemed to him so intelligent or so promising as the Illinois. His heart had gone out to them from the first, and it was to reach them that he had begged a safe conduct through the country of the Sioux, and had sent as propitiatory gifts the bright little {109} pictures that had been so ceremoniously returned. Now his way must take him into their villages, scattered, he knew, on or near the beckoning river. If he made the journey in safety he would say to them: "Twice have you sent for me, and I have come." If he perished en route—well, that was an everyday occurrence in the wilderness. "I found myself under the blessed necessity of exposing my life for this long cherished cause," he wrote with simple sincerity and very evident delight.

But although the conversion of heathen tribes is understood to be the aim and end of a missionary's existence, it is impossible to read Père Marquette's narrative (Joliet's was unhappily lost in the swollen waters of the St. Lawrence) without a pleasant realization that the sentiment uppermost in the hearts of these two young men was a keen anticipation of the remarkably venturesome voyage, its risks and its rewards. They were about to penetrate into the unknown. They were bound on a magnificent errand. They had been selected from dozens of other young men to perform a signal service for France. They were abandoning comparative comfort (food {110} and shelter) for real hardships, and comparative safety for certain danger. What wonder that Père Marquette closes an account of their meager equipment with these exhilarating words: "We were ready to do and suffer everything for so glorious an undertaking."


Chapter IX


The amazing thing about the little party that left St. Ignace on the 17th of May, 1673, was the simplicity of its preparations. In these days when few explorers sally forth without motion-picture cameras to show them climbing mountains, crossing deserts, shooting lions, or driving dog teams, it is amusing to note the rigid economy with which the two young Frenchmen and their five assistants cut down their outfit to sheer necessities. Two canoes had to carry the adventurers, their arms and ammunition, their food, their extra clothing, their carefully protected materials for reports and map making, and what gifts they could add for friendly Indians by the way. The canoes were made after the Canadian fashion, of birch bark, cedar splints, and ribs of spruce roots covered with yellow pine pitch. They were light and strong. {112} Four men could carry them across portages, and in smooth water they could be paddled at the rate of four miles an hour.

Indian corn and smoked meat constituted the provisions—the corn being an essential, the smoked meat a luxury. Great care had been taken, however, to ascertain routes, and ensure as much protection as the nature of the voyage permitted. "Because we were going to seek strange countries," wrote Père Marquette in his journal, "we took every precaution in our power, so that if our undertaking were hazardous, it should not be foolhardy. We obtained what information we could from savages who had frequented those regions, and we traced out from their reports a map of the unknown lands. On it we indicated the rivers we were to navigate, and the tribes we were to visit. Also the course of the Great River, and the direction we were to follow when we reached it. Above all, I placed our expedition under the care of the Holy and Immaculate Virgin."

Thus equipped, and with light hearts beating bravely, the travelers started on a fair May morning, while the faithful Indians of St. Ignace {113} lined the shores to bid them farewell. The canoes went skimming through the straits of Michillimackinac, and skirted the northern shores of Lake Michigan. So delightful was it to be at last adventuring that the men paddled all day long without fatigue and with no cessation of pleasure. When night fell they landed on the edge of a forest, drew up their canoes, built a fire, and discussed over their evening meal their plans for the next day, and the fashion in which they had best approach the first Indians whose villages lay along their route.

These savages bore a good name for friendliness, and for the simple decencies of life. They were known as the Malhoumines, or Maloumineks, or Oumaloumineks; but as all three words were equally distressful to French ears, the traders had christened them la Nation de Folle-Avoine, because of the so-called wild oats—which Parkman identifies as wild rice—which grew abundantly in their land, and formed their staple diet.

It must be confessed that the rice interested Père Marquette more keenly than did the Indians. The monotonous insipidity of {114} sagamité made a new dish almost as exciting as a new river. He describes at length in his journal the laborious method of preparing the grain, and its excellence as food. It grew in swamps and in shallow, muddy streams, emerging from the water in June, and rising several feet above the surface. Early in September the savages pushed their canoes through the ricefields and shook down the long slender grains, which made up in size what they lacked in plumpness. These were dried for days upon a wooden grating under which smouldered a slow fire, then packed in skin bags and trodden long and vigorously under foot. When winnowed and fairly clean, the rice was either boiled in water and seasoned with fat, or pounded into flour and eaten as porridge. It will be remembered that a Sioux chief gave Père Hennepin a mess of wild rice boiled with whortleberries, and that the famished priest thought he had never eaten anything so good. Père Marquette was equally pleased with this simple and nourishing fare. He held, with reason, that savages who would take pains to procure and prepare their food had in them an essential element of civilization.


Except the rice, however, the Folle-Avoine had no help or encouragement to give their visitors; only words of terrified warning. The unknown, which is ever a lure and a stimulus to civilized man, holds for the savage nothing but superstitious fear. The Indians implored the Frenchmen to go no farther on their perilous quest. They said that the surrounding tribes were unfriendly and warlike; that each and all of them were on bad terms with their neighbors; and that the braves who roamed the forests would kill any white man they met. Also that the heat on the banks of the great river was heavy and pestilential, dealing death to strangers. Also that the river itself—did they ever reach it—was full of strange monsters, huge enough to overturn their canoes, and voracious enough to devour the canoeists. And, as if this were not enough, its shores were defended by a demon whose dreadful voice could be heard for miles, and who slew both men and beasts that ventured in his path.

These terrible tales were received by Père Marquette with soothing words, and by Joliet with unrestrained laughter. The young men {116} promised, however, to be always on their guard. They bargained for as much rice as they could carry (the new crop being on its way), bade farewell to the Folles Avoines and turned their canoes into the mouth of Green Bay, then known as la Baye Salée, and also as la Baye des Puants, because of rank odors usually associated with salt marshes. Père Marquette concluded that the vapors arising from mud banks must be held accountable for this pungent smell. Still another and a more somber name had been given to the stormy estuary by the French who called it la Porte de la Mort, because of the high winds and roughened waters which had overturned many canoes and drowned many traders. It was with infinite precaution that the adventurers skirted the shores, noticing the rhythmic rise and fall of a tide which they could ascribe to no cause, and about which Père Marquette writes rather charmingly in his journal:

"The mouth of the Bay is thirty leagues in depth and eight in width. It narrows gradually to a point, and we could easily observe the movements of a tide that ebbs and flows like that of the sea. Whether or not there are winds, the {117} precursors of the Moon and attached to her suite, which agitate the waters and set them in motion, I do not know. All I can say is that when the Bay is smooth, and the Moon mounts above the horizon, the little waves rise and fall in obedience to her laws."

There was ample time in which to make these observations, for the voyagers tarried a while in the vicinity of Green Bay, finding there both friends and matters of interest. The Fox River emptied into the Bay, and nothing could be more beautiful than the broad, slow stream, spreading into vast marshes where fields of wild rice swayed and glistened in the sun. Flocks of birds—ducks, teal, and brant that were busy stealing the harvests, rose in clouds and whirled around the canoes which had disturbed their feast. Some miles beyond, where the river narrowed and ran swiftly over jagged rocks, and between high wooded banks, was the Mission of St. François Xavier, founded by Père Allouez in 1669. It was not easy to reach, because in shallow places the rocks cut the canoes, and wounded the feet of the men, who were constantly compelled to lift their little boats into {118} deeper water. Very different work this from the smooth paddling through rice swamps; but bit by bit the rapids were passed, the banks sloped gently to the river's edge, a tall cross caught Joliet's eager eye, and the third section of Père Marquette's journal begins triumphantly: "Here we are at the village of the Maskoutens."

The "Fire Nation" (so the word Maskouten is usually translated) was one of three tribes inhabiting this pleasant spot. The Miamis were a trifle more intelligent, the Kickapoos a trifle less. None of the three were warlike, although the Miamis bore the reputation of being good fighters. They were also good-looking for savages, tall, strong, and shapely. The long lovelocks they wore falling over their foreheads gave them, in Père Marquette's opinion, a pleasing appearance. They had a charming habit of listening attentively and with seeming intelligence to all the missionaries told them. Sometimes, indeed, they were so interested in the instructions of Père Allouez, who had the gift of eloquence, that they would not let him go to bed at night, but sat in solemn circles waiting to hear more; and the sleepy priest could not in conscience {119} resist this gratifying thirst for enlightenment.

The heathen gods worshipped by these Indians were numerous and diversified. The Sun and the Thunder, gods of the first water, were aloof, mysterious, and all-powerful, benignant or death-dealing according to their will. But there were also hosts of lesser deities, friendly for the most part, and not unlike the multitudinous little gods of Rome. They looked after the beasts, birds, and fishes, thus providing food for men. The Indians, like the Europeans, naturally considered their own wants to be of more importance, and better worth the consideration of heaven, than the welfare of the brute creation.

As hunters and fishers the tribes that dwelt near Green Bay were exceptionally fortunate. The winters were, indeed, very severe; but bears and wildcats (the latter big, fierce, famished, and defiant) inhabited the woods, which were free from underbrush and easily traversed. Deer though few and shy, were occasionally found stealing by night to the water's edge. With summer came berries in abundance. With autumn, {120} wild plums and wild grapes, which, to the distress of the missionaries, were often gathered and eaten before they were ripe; the Indians being too impatient or too hungry to wait on the leisurely processes of nature. The thought of the excellent wine which might have been made out of these highly flavored grapes caused Père Marquette a pang of regret. He had the Frenchman's natural taste for horticulture.

Flocks of wild fowl, as hungry and as greedy as the savages, dived into the river to snatch the unripe rice before it showed its head above the water, and were caught by cunningly spread nets. It was no infrequent matter to see birds and fish ensnared in the same toils. "This kind of fishing is both pleasant and profitable," wrote Père Dablon with the heartless enthusiasm of the sportsman. "It is wonderful to see a duck and a pickerel, a bass and a teal, entangled in the same meshes. The Indians live royally on this manna for nearly three months of the year."

The weirs built across the Fox River were also enthusiastically praised by Père Dablon, who held with reason that nature and necessity can make the rudest savages experts in the art of {121} keeping alive. These weirs, as he describes them, seem to have been not unlike those so ingeniously contrived by the fisherman prince in The Misfortunes of Elphin. A palisade of stakes was erected across the stream, leaving room for little fishes to pass freely, but imprisoning the bigger ones between rude hurdles. Alongside of these hurdles a light scaffolding was raised—like Prince Elphin's little bridge—and, clinging to it, the Indians scooped up the fish with the usual pocket-shaped nets. "They coax the fish into the mouths of their nets," is the priest's way of intimating that they were uncommonly adroit at the business.

What with the hunting, the fishing, and the ricefields, the mission of St. François Xavier was as well placed as that of the Sault de Ste. Marie. In the autumn, neighboring tribes of Indians came to share in the abundance, and to all who could understand them the missionaries preached with fervor. Perhaps the beauty of the wooded slopes pleased the savages as well as they did the Frenchmen, for there were legends to the effect that the first Indians of North America, the single tribe from which had sprung {122} such infinite diversity, lived on these green and fertile banks, secure and happy as were Adam and Eve in Paradise. "It is delightful to see the village and its surroundings," wrote Père Marquette in his journal. "On every side are fields of maize, stretches of prairie, and groves of noble trees. The huts are made of rushes, pleasant enough at this season, but woefully inadequate when winter brings heavy rain and snow. The best that can be said of such building material is that it is very light. Huge bundles of rushes are carried by the hunters into the woods, and woven into some sort of shelter. In the center of the village stands the cross, a beautiful and consoling sight. At its feet the savages have heaped bows and arrows, pelts and dyed snakeskins, as offerings to the Christian God."

Two more treasures the Maskoutens possessed: a mineral spring, the waters of which Père Marquette drank freely, though without any especial knowledge of their qualities; and a plant which was held to be a sovereign remedy for snake bite. This plant had been shown to Père Allouez as a mark of confidence. It bore several {123} stalks, about a foot high, with long leaves, and a white blossom which Père Marquette likened to a wallflower. "The root," he wrote, "is very pungent, and tastes like powder when crushed by the teeth. It must be masticated, and laid upon the bitten part. Snakes have so great a horror of this flowering weed that they writhe away from any Indian who has so much as handled it."

The historian, Shea, in a note to his translation of Père Marquette's journal, identified this weed as a plant called by the French Serpent à Sonnettes. He was of the opinion that it really served as an antidote to snake bite, whether applied as a poultice or taken internally; and he added that a drop or two placed in a snake's mouth killed the creature instantly. Editors of the Relations, however, admit that such remedies were common among the Indians, that it is not possible to distinguish one from another, and that the virtues of all have been greatly exaggerated. Long familiarity with the methods of medicine men had probably accustomed the patient savages to inefficacious treatment. {124} Moreover, the North American continent, while sufficiently endowed with venomous serpents, has had very few deadly varieties. Consequently a fair proportion of bitten Indians recovered, and attributed their cure to incantations or to poultices, according to the custom of the tribe.

The first necessary proceeding on the part of the two adventurers was to summon the headsmen of the Maskouten village to a pow-wow. They knew well that nothing could be done to advance their expedition without grave argument and dignified persuasion. Next to talking themselves, the Indians adored listening to talk. When hunting or on the warpath, when pursuing or pursued, when journeying amid perils and privations, they were sullen, taciturn, and preoccupied. But on all state occasions they were as long-winded as are modern committees and subcommittees, conclaves and conferences. The Maskoutens accepted Père Marquette's invitation with alacrity. They gathered in attentive groups to hear what the Frenchmen had to say, and—incidentally—to receive what gifts they had to offer.


Joliet was the spokesman of the occasion. He was as familiar with the Algonquin language as was his companion, and very eager and animated. He told his audience that he had been sent on a quest by the powerful Governor of Quebec, who represented the all-powerful King of France; that Père Marquette, like Père Allouez, was preaching the word of God; and that it behooved them to give him what help they could in his mission. He asked for guides who would conduct the party to the Meskousing (Wisconsin) River, which flowed into the Mississippi. He assured them that this assistance would promote friendly relations with the French, and he ceremoniously presented them with gifts, the nature of which is not mentioned in the journal. Like all journals that ever were written, it is disposed to be mute whenever our curiosity is aroused.

The Indians made a lengthy and appropriate reply to Joliet's speech. They expressed their good-will, and also their astonishment that the white men should have sent so small an expedition on so big an errand. They promised the asked-for guides, and—not to be outdone in {126} generosity—they gave to the two young leaders a mat of finely woven rushes, which served them as a bed for the remainder of the voyage.

On the 10th of June the little party left the pleasant village which had harbored them so kindly. A third canoe accompanied them, bearing two Miami Indians who knew the narrow channels through reed beds and rice swamps, and who gave much needed help in the difficult portage that lay between the Fox River, which had shrunk to a sluggish creek, and the Wisconsin, which was to carry them to their destination. This done, the savages returned home, and the Frenchmen, well supplied with food, turned their canoes into the unknown stream. "We left behind us the waters that flowed toward Quebec," wrote Père Marquette, "and entered those that flowed toward the Mississippi. Before we embarked we began all together a fresh novena to the blessed and Immaculate Virgin, promising to say it daily, and placing ourselves and our voyage under her loving care. Then, with a few words of encouragement to our men, we set gaily forth."

The goal was nearly won.


Chapter X


Had Père Marquette possessed a facile pen, his early letters might have been more lively, more engaging, and, possibly, more prolix. He had the habit of observation common to his order; he looked attentively at everything he saw, and he noted down whatever he deemed of interest or importance; his comments were rational, his temper was flawless; but he lacked the delight of the born naturalist, and the half-conscious humor of the born chronicler. The rapture with which Père Le Jeune gazed at the humming bird, the amusement with which Père Du Perron watched the savages trying on his hat and his shoes, were alike unfamiliar to Père Marquette, whose heart was gay as a child's, but whose words were the words of soberness.

We cannot lay too much stress upon the {128} intimate knowledge afforded us by the Relations. From them we learn how the strange new world affected highly educated Frenchmen who exchanged civilization for savagery, who maintained their orderly habits while lacking the decencies of life, and who were upheld by the joyous conviction that they were doing the work of God. Some of them took delight in the wild beauty of the country; some of them had a sympathetic understanding of its inhabitants; all of them expressed a naïve surprise at the bigness of everything except the fruits of the earth, which were disappointingly small. The fish that bumped against Père Marquette's canoe in the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers seemed to him terrifying monsters. The first sight of a young elk filled Père Le Jeune with glowing admiration for its great height and stately bearing, the pride of its uplifted head, the delicate grace of its budding antlers. The size and ferocity of the wildcat—which yet resembled the cherished pets of France—horrified and alarmed him. On the other hand, the wild cherries were no larger that the pit of a French cherry, the wild grapes were as tiny as they were delicious, {129} and the little round wild apples were about the size of a cultivated plum. Père Marquette mistook one of them for an olive. What wonder that Père Du Perron wrote to his superior that America had nothing in common with France but the four elements, "out of which are all things made."

This was doubtless Joliet's way of thinking; but, unlike the missionaries, he preferred his elements to be on a large American scale. Plenty of water to swamp his frail little boat, plenty of sky to look down on him, plenty of earth stretching on either side, unknown, impenetrable, and full of the zest of danger. It is a thousand pities his papers were lost, for they would have bravely supplemented Père Marquette's diary. Every word we hear of him bears witness to his courage and quick intelligence, to the strength of his vigorous young body, to the resoluteness of his finely tempered soul. The long days of paddling were to him a sport, the strangeness of his surroundings increased his pleasure, the greenness of the scattered islands tempted him daily to land and explore their recesses. Père Marquette placed absolute reliance on his sense and {130} experience. He was, as a rule, the spokesman in their conferences with the Indians, and he took the lead in guiding the canoes through the heady waters and dangerous shoals of the Wisconsin.

For seven days the adventurers pursued their way, keeping as close to the shore as the shoals permitted, camping at night around a woodman's fire, catching no fish and sighting no small game. The savages whom they encountered from time to time evinced a friendly disposition, and sold them dried deer's meat to eke out their corn and rice. They could see the deer wandering over the shallow hills, and marveled at their numbers. Walnut, oak, and basswood trees grew close to the edge of the stream. Day by day navigation became more difficult. The river broadened, the current grew stronger, the canoes spun along with ominous rapidity. On the 17th of June they entered a wilderness of waters, and knew that their race was won. Only the Mississippi could present this vast expanse of wind-blown waves. Only the Mississippi could have its shores a mile apart. They were traveling at last upon the great river, which was to be the river of mystery no longer.


It was with "inexpressible joy," wrote Père Marquette, that he realized his good fortune in bringing the expedition to this successful conclusion. Not that it was concluded. It was in reality just beginning. But the discovery had been made, and made for all time, unless death blotted out the seven discoverers and their records with them. They could not waste much leisure on mutual congratulations, because everybody's attention was devoted to keeping the canoes afloat. Their first rude welcome was given them by a huge fish which struck one of the little boats with such force that its inmates feared they had wrecked it on a submerged tree. This experience was repeated again and again, and once a swimming animal—evidently a mountain lion—terrified them by its nearness and by its angry aspect.

From the time the Mississippi was sighted Père Marquette's diary, which had been brief and episodic, expanded into voluminous details. He seemed to feel the importance of reporting every item concerning the river, its banks, the wild life he encountered, and above all the Indians who lived upon its shores. Even the {132} strange variety of fishes was a source of amazement to one who had had small experience as a fisherman. The catfish that he saw hurtling through the waters did not in the least resemble the ugly, greedy, little objects for which small boys angle on the Schuylkill's banks. They were big, strong, fleet, and much given to flapping with all their might against the intrusive canoes. Now and then the men let down nets and caught grotesque creatures which they did not venture to eat because of their unnatural appearance. "One of them," wrote the diarist, "is very extraordinary indeed. It resembles an overgrown trout with a much bigger mouth. Near its nose which is small, as are also its eyes, is a bone shaped like a woman's busk, three fingers broad and as long as my arm, at the end of which is a disk a hand's breadth in width. The weight of the disk frequently causes the fish to tumble backward when it leaps out of the water."

Parkman identifies this curious catch as a spade fish, or spoonbill, and he admits that its aspect is "eccentric."

For eight days the canoeists paddled warily {133} southward, mindful always of the ill accounts they had heard of the surrounding savages. They took every precaution against attack, landing in sheltered spots, extinguishing their fires as soon as their evening meal was cooked, sleeping in the canoes, and keeping a sentinel always on guard. The banks of the river became bare, the islands were thickly grown. Gray geese sailed across the sky, and herds of buffalo came to the water's edge to drink. These "pisikious," or wild cattle, were familiar to Joliet; but Père Marquette had never seen them before, and he was astounded by their size and numbers. One of the Canadians shot a young bull, but it was so "corpulent" (corpulentz) that the seven men had great difficulty in moving the body and butchering it for food. Determined that the people at home should know exactly what a buffalo was like, Père Marquette described it in his diary with an accuracy which would have enabled an artist reader to make a creditable sketch.

"The animal's head is huge; the horns a foot and a half apart, black in color, and much longer than those of French cattle. Under the {134} neck there is a heavy dewlap, and on the back a moderately high hump. The head, neck, and part of the shoulders are half hidden by a thick and hideous mane which falls over the eyes, and must interfere with sight. The remainder of the body is covered with a coat of curly hair, stronger and thicker than a sheep's wool. The pisikiou sheds his hair in summer time. The hide then becomes as soft as velvet, and the savages make robes and rugs of it, dyeing them with bright colors. The flesh and the fat are excellent eating, and constitute the most highly prized dish at feasts. The creatures are fierce and dangerous. If an Indian fires at one with either bow or gun, he instantly flings himself face downward in the thick grass. Otherwise the wounded animal would charge at him furiously. Its legs are short and thick; and, except when rage lends it speed, it does not run swiftly. These wild cattle are scattered about the prairies in herds. I have seen as many as four hundred in a herd."

On the 25th of June the explorers saw for the first time human footprints on the soft earth, and a narrow trail leading through a tangle of low bushes to the open land beyond. They took {135} counsel with one another, and decided that this trail should be followed. It was not only the river they had come to seek, not only its direction and outlet which concerned them, but also the unconverted savages who dwelt upon its banks, and who might subsequently be brought to the faith. The two young leaders deemed it expedient that they should go alone upon this somewhat perilous errand. A couple of men would at least create no alarm. Their very helplessness would be a guarantee of good faith. They felt tolerably confident that they could make themselves understood in whatever language the Indians spoke. If harm came to them, the five experienced woodsmen left in the canoes must make their way home as quickly as possible, and take to Quebec the precious records of their discovery.

There is something very simple and gallant in this straightforward following of duty. It is plain that both Père Marquette and Joliet were disturbed as to the consequences of their act. They were in utter ignorance of their surroundings. Yet, as it chanced, that unknown trail led them, not only to a pleasant experience, but to {136} an understanding which brought safety in far more dangerous encounters. It was the beginning of a friendship which lasted until the death of the missionary. Truly Cardinal Newman spoke the words of wisdom when he said, "The best prudence is to have no fear."


Chapter XI


The Indians who lived in the two villages, one close to the river and one perched on an adjoining hill, were Illinois, that friendly and intelligent tribe who, from the first, had aroused Père Marquette's interest and won his affection, whom he had promised to visit and hoped to convert. Ignorant of this happy circumstance, he and Joliet made their cautious way along the path until they sighted the settlement, and could hear the noisy hubbub common to all savage communities. They then thought it well to announce their presence, which they did by shouting with all their might. The startled Indians poured out of the lodges and stared in amazement at the strangers, who stood quite still, smiling as though unafraid and sure of a welcome.

There was a long pause, a hushed silence, a {138} careful scrutiny. Then, relieved in their turn of apprehension, the kindly disposed savages bethought themselves of the proper ceremonies with which visitors should be received; and, to gain time, they sent four old men, who walked very slowly toward the intruders. Two of them carried handsomely decorated tobacco pipes, the calumets which stood for friendship and good-will. They waved these pipes solemnly in the air, and made a dumb show of smoking them as they advanced at a snail's pace and in silence. When they were quite near, Père Marquette asked to what tribe they belonged, and heard the answer with joy. The four deputies then gravely invited the Frenchmen to enter the village, and preceded them with formal and courteous gestures. At the entrance of the first lodge stood a warrior, naked and upright, his arms extended, his hands spread, as though to shield himself from the piercing rays of the sun. He was highly dramatic, and he was also highly complimentary, for he said that the great brilliancy of the skies was due to the white men's coming. "How beautiful is the sun when you visit our abode, O strangers from beyond the sea! The village {139} awaits you, and beneath our roofs you shall rest in safety and in peace."

The gratified travelers then entered the lodge, which was crowded with braves and squaws who stared at them intently and in silence. Only now and then was heard the low polite murmur: "How good it is our brothers that you should come to us!" Pipes were brought and smoked, the Frenchmen leading, and all the braves taking their turn. This consumed an hour, after which an invitation arrived from the second village on the hill. The chief who dwelt there desired the presence of the newcomers, and would hold a council with them.

Up the hill they went, Père Marquette and Joliet, accompanied by a concourse of savages, few of whom had ever seen a white man before. All were eager to get a good look at these mysterious, pallid, self-possessed beings, who spoke their tongue and maintained a gravity equal to their own. Indians lined the road. Indians led the way, turning and retracing their steps every few moments, to gaze again and again upon the strangers. They made no noise whatever—an emphatic token of respect. The {140} dogs were banished. The children who accompanied their mothers watched round-eyed and silent. At the door of the biggest lodge of the village stood the chief himself with two of his councillors, all three erect and naked, all three holding calumets in their outstretched hands. Really, considering that they had been taken by surprise, the Illinois were doing the thing in style.

Once inside this second lodge, which was immediately filled with spectators, Père Marquette decided that the time had come for him to open the council with a speech. Accordingly he produced four gifts (again he omits to tell us what they were), and with each gift he made a formal and appropriate oration—the kind that Indians loved. With the first he told his hearers that he and the Sieur Joliet and five companions were journeying peacefully to visit the nations that dwelt by the great river which he hoped to follow to the sea. With the second he spoke of the God of the Christians, who had made white men and red, who willed that white men and red should know and worship Him, who was all-wise, all-powerful, all-just, and all-merciful, {141} and to whose word they must listen attentively. With the third he gave what information he could about Frontenac, the great warrior sent from France, who had enforced peace throughout his demesne, and compelled even the Iroquois to keep away from the warpath. With the fourth he begged his hosts to tell him all they knew of the Mississippi, of the lands that lay between him and the sea, of the distances he must traverse, of the tribes he must encounter.

When he had finished the chief arose, drew forward a little slave whom he intended to present to the strangers, and, resting his hand upon the child's head, expressed his sense of the honor which had been done him. The gravity of his manner and accent contrasted oddly with the extravagance of his words. He began by thanking the Frenchmen for their visit, and for the blessings which had manifestly accompanied it. "Never before," he said, "has the earth been so beautiful or the skies so bright as to-day. Never has our river been so calm, or so clear of rocks, which your canoes have removed in passing." (This was a happy touch.) "Never has our tobacco tasted so sweet, or our corn {142} flourished so greenly as now. Here is my son whom I give you as proof of my affection. I beg you to show kindness to me and to my people. You know the Great Spirit who has made us all. Come and dwell with us that we may know Him too, and that He may give us life and vigor."

This preamble being over, a calumet was produced, a particularly sacred calumet made of red sandstone and hung with feathers. It was presented to Père Marquette with the assurance that it would be recognized as a token of friendship, not only by the Illinois, but by any other tribes that might be encountered. Nevertheless, the chief—dropping suddenly into plain speech—counseled his visitors to turn back. Behind them lay home and safety. Before them lay manifold dangers to which they were exposing themselves without cause.

Having proffered this sound advice, and being quite sure it would not be followed, the hospitable savage closed the council with a feast, which was served with much ceremony on the floor of the lodge. The first course was a huge wooden platter of sagamité richly flavored with fat. Spoonfuls of this porridge were carefully fed {143} to the guests, as if they had been small children and incapable of helping themselves. A platter of broiled fish followed and was handled in the same fashion. Attentive Indians picked up pieces of the fish, blew on them until they were cool enough to eat, and placed the morsels in the mouths of the patient priest and of Joliet, who grimaced but submitted. A large dog was served next. It was deemed a delicacy, and had been freshly slain for this great occasion; but, seeing that his visitors seemed strangely reluctant to partake of it, the courteous chief ordered it to be removed, and replaced by a dish of buffalo meat. The choicest—that is the fattest—pieces of this meat were put in the white men's mouths; and when they could eat no more the feast was mercifully concluded.

This feeding of guests was a matter of strict etiquette among all the Illinois. They never permitted strangers to raise their hands to their mouths, but considered that they showed them the utmost respect by saving them this labor. They fed La Salle at Peoria with spoonfuls of sagamité and lumps of dried elk's meat, which he received unwillingly from their filthy fingers. {144} Perhaps it was only the recollection of the universal dirt which made part and parcel of savage life which enabled him to overcome his squeamishness. After all, in a land where nobody and nothing was washed, and where the cleanest of the bark dishes were those licked dry by the dogs, why should a little extra grime tempt him to a rude rejection of the rites of hospitality?

The preference of the savages for fat and grease was also singularly trying to their white guests. In some tribes a male infant was forced to swallow a pellet of fat as soon as it was born, and before it took the breast. Père Le Jeune admitted that the sight of an Indian biting greedily into a lump of cold hard grease, "as though it had been an apple," turned his stomach. He remembered, however, the words of a French peasant, who said that if he were a king he would live on fat; and he realized the craving of the underfed for this form of nourishment. Indians who survived a winter diet of flavorless corn meal, coarse dried fish, and dried elk's meat, as hard and as unpalatable as wood fibre, naturally welcomed the soft succulence of fat. Indians who starved through a winter on eelskins {145} and tripe de roche found exquisite pleasure in scraping the cold grease from a platter, and devouring the last unsavory scrap.

"Various are the tastes of men," as Akenside sagely remarked, under the impression that he had discovered this great truth. Père Huc, when hospitably entertained by the Thibetans, felt the utmost reluctance in eating the pieces of quivering white fat—choice morsels from the tails of sheep—which were heaped upon his plate, and which he could not in courtesy refuse. Dr. William H. Furness describes a rude game played by the Head-Hunters of Borneo at which he unwillingly assisted. The young men sat in a ring on the ground, and the girls carried around dishes heaped with lumps of cold, coarse animal fat. The men were compelled to devour as many lumps as the girls thought fit to feed them. The first few went well enough. Then, as lump followed lump, came distaste, repugnance, nausea, to the amusement of the unrelenting tormentors, who took a pitiless delight in the misery they were inflicting. The Borneans are bon-vivants as compared with Seventeenth Century American Indians. They have no winters of cold and {146} semi-starvation to fit them for such dreadful pleasantries.

It was to be expected that Père Marquette should have nothing but praise for the Illinois, from whom he received nothing but kindness. He placed them unhesitatingly at the head of all the tribes that he had known. They had, he thought, an air of humanity, of embryonic civilization, which made other Indians seem doubly savage by their side. They were gentle, tractable, receptive, and intelligent. They were liberal in disposition, and reasonable in character. In a word—and he said it with enthusiasm—they were men.

Other reports are less favorable. The Illinois were part of the great Algonquin nation, and, like all Algonquins, were loyal to France, well disposed toward Christianity, and very much afraid of the Iroquois. La Salle, who had dealings with them, found them to be as fickle as they were friendly, as undependable as they were intelligent; useful allies, but "capricious and uncertain." They were good hunters and fair fighters, making long journeys in search of {147} slaves, whom they obtained by force or by barter and sold to other tribes. The little boy, mellifluously called "my son" by the chief who presented him to Père Marquette and Joliet, was doubtless the spoil of some such raid.

In the matter of sexual morality the Illinois were rather below than above the average. Their principal contribution toward right living was the inexorable severity with which they cut off the ears or noses of their errant wives. This duty performed, they felt they had done their part in maintaining a high social standard. The squaws were modestly dressed and very industrious, planting good crops of Indian corn, beans, and squashes. The lodges, though filthy, were large and rainproof, with rush mats for chairs and beds. The cooking utensils were made of wood, the spoons and ladles of bone. The proudest possessions of the braves were guns, which they bought with their best pelts, and which they used in the light-hearted fashion of Mr. Winkle, unconcerned about marksmanship, and rightly considering that the smoke and noise would make them sufficiently alarming to their enemies. {148} For serious hunting, for the pursuit of deer and buffalo, they depended upon bows and arrows, with which they were exceedingly expert.

The medicine men of the Illinois appear to have been the stupidest of impostors, whose pretensions were so absurd, and whose frauds were so barefaced, that only custom and tradition could have imposed them upon fairly intelligent savages. Nevertheless, they were treated with respect and liberality. "The Indians," observed Père Marquette, "think that the effect of the remedies administered to them is in proportion to the richness of their gifts." It was always well for the savage brave to keep on the right side of these sorcerers, who—if they could effect no cures except in so far as they were able to persuade patients that they were cured—might still do many a good or ill turn, according to their bent.

It is interesting to note that among certain tribes, noticeably the Hurons, the medicine men believed, or professed to believe, in suppressed desires as firmly as if they had been Freudians of to-day. Père Du Perron says that a soothsayer, summoned to heal a sick Huron, would gaze into a tortoise-shell, or perhaps into a fire, for a {149} long time, striving by concentration of mind to learn what it was that his patient unconsciously wanted. Having found his clue, he would triumphantly announce that a fire feast, a dance, a string of beads, or a bit of eelskin was the thing imperatively required, and every effort would be made to provide it. An Indian journeyed for miles to beg Père Du Perron for a piece of red cloth which the medicine man demanded for a sick child. The missionary had no red cloth, and the boy died.

Père Jouvencey found traces of this belief among the Algonquins. He was immensely interested in its pseudo-scientific character, and described it with careful accuracy. "They [the Indians] believe that there are two main sources of disease. One of these is in the mind of the patient himself, which unwittingly craves something, and will vex the body of the sick man until he possesses it. For they hold that there are in every man certain inborn desires, often unknown to himself, upon which his happiness depends. For the purpose of ascertaining such innate and ungratified appetites, they summon soothsayers, who, as they think, have a {150} supernaturally imparted power to look into the inmost recesses of the mind."

If this be not modern, where shall we turn for modernity? The only archaic touch about it is the sex of the invalid. For whereas, in the world of to-day, women are the profitable patients of all kinds of healers, spiritual, mental, and professional, it was the Indian warrior, or perhaps the Indian boy, whose suppressed desires awakened so much concern. The squaws were pretty well accustomed to suppressing all desires, conscious or otherwise, and too hard at work to think a great deal about them. If they fell sick, there was always the solacing thought, so naïvely expressed by the old Ottawa chief to Père Marquette, that it made no especial difference whether they lived or died.

Nothing about the Illinois interested the missionary so deeply as the ritual which had been woven around the calumet, the sacred pipe which figured in all treaties and rejoicings, in all preparations for war, and in all covenants to promote peace. Our debt to the Indians for the discovery and use of tobacco, of that {151} inestimable solace in a hard—and sedative in a noisy—world, is so great that no heart is wide enough to hold it, and no words are warm enough to give it proper expression. Therefore it is a pleasure to know that to many of these Indians the pipe was an august and holy thing, the emblem of all they held hallowed and dear. Père Marquette, who was later to owe his life to the protection of the calumet, regarded it with unqualified admiration. He devoted pages of his journal to describing the rites and ceremonies in which it played a part.

"There is a calumet for peace," he wrote, "and a calumet for war. They are distinguished by the colors of the feathers with which they are adorned—scarlet standing for war. Both are fashioned from red stone, polished like marble and carefully drilled so that one end serves as a receptacle for the tobacco, while the other fits into a hollow wooden stem, two feet long and as thick as an ordinary walking stick. This stem is hung with the heads of birds of gay plumage, and with bright-hued feathers. Less honor is shown to the crowns and scepters of kings than {152} is paid by the savages to this sacred emblem. Carrying one, a warrior may walk in safety though surrounded by his foes."

As a proof of the holiness of the calumet, it was held aloft during the ceremonial dances of the early summer, and offered with all due reverence to the sun, in case that luminary should have a mind to smoke. And until these dances had been performed, and the sun so honored, the Indians scrupled to eat fresh fruits, or to bathe—after eight unwashed months—in the cooling streams. There was a rhythm, a dignity, a savage pride about these dances which made them very impressive to such Frenchmen as had not set their hearts upon a ballet. The surroundings and accessories were singularly picturesque. The green of the mighty forests, the blue of the wind-swept skies, the great open space around which old men, squaws, and children clustered thickly, the presiding manitou in a place of honor with trophies of war heaped high about it—everything that could suggest to the spectator the serious beauty of a rite which was both tribal and religious.

The mock combats with which the dance {153} ended were the red men's nearest approach to drama. Warriors armed with bows and arrows attacked other warriors whose sole defence was the calumet, which they embraced ardently when they fled to covert, and waved triumphantly when they turned to pursue the pursuers. All this was done in ordered fashion, and to the accompaniment of drums and rhythmic chanting. It may be observed that Père Marquette was the only missionary who ever had a good word to say for Indian music. He stoutly maintained that it had a charm which could not be reproduced; and that the alternate drone and howl which drove more sensitive listeners to frenzy pleased the ear when heard in the open air. There was, as he doubtless observed, plenty of space between singer and audience, and there were the free winds of heaven to dissipate the sound.

The entertainment invariably ended with an oration, "a lofty discourse" delivered by a warrior who held the calumet, and who recounted the tale of his battles and victories. Sometimes he was succeeded by other warriors who had the same story to tell, and who told it with the same solemn fervor. After all, there are certain points {154} of resemblance between these dead-and-gone savages and the civilized men who have succeeded them. Our perpetual speech-making is in line with theirs. Our oratory is on the same general order. Our complacency is no less apparent for being thinly veiled. Even the giving of rewards strikes a familiar note. Prizes are the order of our day, as they were of that day long past, when the French priests saw beaver skins and beaded belts presented with ceremony to the Indians who had borne a part in the dance. There are new things under the sun; we could show them to Solomon if he visited us; but speech-making and prize-giving are not among the novelties.


Chapter XII


There is little doubt that fear of the Iroquois, who had been restlessly encroaching on their neighbors' hunting grounds, made the Illinois particularly eager for such protection as the power of France could give them. Although the Iroquois had so concentrated their rage upon the Hurons that only scattered remnants of that once numerous tribe survived, yet the original quarrel—which had started as was usual in a hunting feud—had included the Algonquins, who, having been the thrice foolish aggressors, had suffered bitterly for their folly. So, at least, says Père Charlevoix, that courtly Jesuit who was sent by the Duc d'Orléans to write a report of New France, and to gather what information he could concerning the manners and customs of its inhabitants.

Père Charlevoix collected his material—as did Froissart—from observation and from {156} hearsay; and his lively, if not always trustworthy, narrative has been a source of supply to all the historians who have succeeded him. One volume is dedicated to His Most Serene Highness, Monseigneur le Duc de Penthièvre; and another to Madame la Duchesse de Lesdiguières, that charming and distinguished Frenchwoman who wrote delicate verse and loved cats. The beautifully drawn, if somewhat incomprehensible, maps are occasionally inscribed with the names of great French noblemen, and the books are models of extravagant typography. They show even more plainly than do the Relations the keen interest which France took in her Canadian colonies and the surrounding savages, in the trade established, and in the explorations that opened up new and great possibilities for the future.

Père Charlevoix could find no words too strong to express his admiration for the courage, intelligence, and simplicity with which Père Marquette and Joliet had conducted their expedition. Especially he marveled at the skill which kept their canoes afloat on the roughened waters of the Mississippi, a feat beyond his {157} power or that of his Indian guides. They were compelled to take to a raft, and had plenty of trouble with that. The great river fascinated his imagination. He wrote about it again and again, as though striving to expand his readers' minds to fit this mighty theme. Two things were clear to his understanding: the impetus to French trade afforded by an accurate knowledge of its course, and the impracticability of living within reach of its waters at flood time. The farther south he went, the greater this danger appeared to him. He could conceive of no barrier strong enough to hold back the swollen current, fed by so many tributaries; and he warned colonists to keep at a safe and respectful distance from a stream which would outrun them in the race for life.

No consideration of the glories or of the perils to come vexed the soul of Père Marquette when he and Joliet bade farewell to the friendly Illinois villages on a quiet summer afternoon. Their job was a simple thing—to find the river, which they had done; and to keep on it as long as they could, which they were doing. It must be granted that they had enjoyed marvelous {158} good fortune. No serious obstacle had presented itself, no danger that was not easily overcome. Day after day the travelers placed themselves anew under the protection of the Blessed Virgin, and day after day she shielded them from harm. They landed often and explored the lonely, beautiful shores. A tranquil pleasure, akin to that of a botanist (although he knew no botany), filled Père Marquette's heart. He examined and described every fruit and flower he saw, and they were many. Mulberries, indeed, he greeted as old friends, and pronounced to be as fine as they were in France, although no silkworms profited by the heavy foliage. Chincapins—not yet ripe—interested him greatly. But for persimmons he had no praise, which is hardly surprising if he ventured to eat them in July. The names of these things were of course unknown to him; but they are generally recognizable from his descriptions. There was one plant, however—a species of cactus—which puzzled him as much as it puzzles us to-day. "Its root resembles a bunch of small turnips held together by delicate fibers. It has the flavor of a carrot." (Never was there so bold a taster of unfamiliar {159} products!) "From this root springs a leaf as wide as my hand, half a finger thick, and deeply spotted. From this leaf spring other leaves like the sockets of chandeliers in French salons. The flowers grow in clusters. They are bell-shaped and bright yellow."

Before reaching the mouth of the Missouri the canoes passed the famous painted rocks, so familiar in later reports. They seem to have thrilled Père Marquette with a horror amounting to fear. The great height and strange outlines of the rocks and the crude vigor of the paintings had in his eyes something monstrous and unnatural. He could not believe that Indians had climbed that perpendicular wall, and he could not believe that Indians had designed those huge and fearsome beasts. "They are as big as calves," he wrote, "and have antlers like deer. Their faces are rather like the faces of men, with tigrish mouths and red eyes, hideous to behold. Their bodies are covered with scales, and their tails are so long that they pass over their heads and down between their legs, terminating like the tails of fishes. The colors used are red, green, and black."


It is to be regretted that the sketch made by Père Marquette of these monsters has disappeared. He was a fair draftsman, and he claimed to have caught a good likeness. A partial copy of his drawing ornaments a map made some years later by order of the intendant, Duchesneau. Other missionaries described the paintings in much the same terms, though Père Charlevoix considered that they owed their origin to a caprice of nature which so often molds rocky heights into rude effigies of men and beasts. The savages recognized this resemblance, and went to great pains to improve on it, utilizing the mass of stone as a particularly precious and august manitou, to which they made offerings of arrows, spears, and pelts. Père Jean François de St. Cosmé, a Jesuit priest who was subsequently killed by Indians, wrote in 1699 that incessant rains had dimmed and blurred the colors, although the monsters were still objects of veneration. Traces of them remained for another half century, when they gradually disappeared. Parkman was infinitely amused by the proposal of some enthusiasts in his day to repaint the figures as described by Père Marquette. The difficulty of {161} the task, rather than its utter and complete inexpedience, induced them to abandon the design; and when the historian passed that way in 1867, the rock once deified by Indians bore a huge and harmless advertisement of "Plantation Bitters." Even this he felt was better—because genuine—than a fake manitou, which had no longer a raison d'être, and the original of which had been regarded by the pious missionary as a symbol of deadly sin.

Nothing can be more vivid than the brief paragraph in which Père Marquette describes the Missouri River; the speed and fury with which it emptied itself into the Mississippi, the tangled masses of trees and bushes which it tossed to and fro on its current, the rapids which came near to swamping his canoe, the agitation of the greater stream under the impetuous onslaught of the lesser. Pekitanou'i, which signifies "muddy water," was the appropriate name given to the Missouri, and by this name it went until 1712; although in the letters of the Récollet missionaries it is generally spoken of as the "River of the Osages," and on early French maps it appears indiscriminately as the "Rivière des {162} Osages," the "Rivière des Emissourites," and the "Rivière des Oumessourites"—a wide and perplexing choice. The Ohio enjoys the same variety of titles. On Père Marquette's map it is the "Ouabouskiaou" (he had a passion for vowels), and on others the Ouabache. But the intelligent Iroquois called it Ohio, or "Beautiful River," and so we know it to-day.

Joliet was keen to explore the Missouri, for he had learned from the Indians that great prairies lay along its banks, prairies stretching unbrokenly for ten and fifteen leagues. There were villages, too, in plenty, and Père Marquette sighed that he could not visit them. Ever and always his mind was full of the possible converts who dwelt in the darkness of idolatry, and ever and always he comforted himself with the thought, "I will return and teach them." Had he lived to be a hundred instead of dying at thirty-eight, he could never have reached in the flesh the savages he embraced in the spirit. The knowledge that thirty-seven villages of the Chaouanons, or Shawanoes, lay on the east bank the Mississippi, and that he was compelled to pass them by, distressed him sorely; the more {163} so because the Chaouanons were a comparatively gentle and harmless people, indifferent fighters, and living in perpetual fear of the Iroquois. Père Marquette likens them to a flock of sheep, innocent of wrong-doing, but incapable of protecting themselves. Therefore the Iroquois periodically burned their villages, and took as many prisoners as they pleased. The only safety of the assaulted ones lay in flight; and they must have become adepts in the art of running away, of vanishing, Indian fashion, into the depth of familiar and friendly forests which hid them from pursuit.

Three days after escaping the perils of the Missouri, the adventurers encountered the demon against which they had been warned at every stage of their journey. Its home was a deep and narrow chasm close to the shore and walled in by perpendicular rocks twenty feet high. Through this chasm the water forced its way, to be repeatedly checked and hurled back with great force and a furious din. The savages believed that the spirit which dwelt under these churning waves was a thing of evil. It resented the presence of men and threatened their destruction. The noise {164} and commotion, the leaping waters which in storm or flood time must have been terrible to behold, were to them the menace of an angry god whom no offerings could propitiate and no ingenuity could outwit.

The presence of iron ore on the river's banks attracted Joliet's attention, and the Canadians sought carefully for every indication of mines. They also noted the beds of sticky and brightly tinted clay, purple, violet, and red, which furnished the dyes used by Indians to color their dress, their decorations, their weapons, and themselves. Squaws were permitted to wear dyed ornaments, like the scarlet eelskin ribbons which Père Chauchetière found so pretty and becoming; but the privilege of using cosmetics, like the privilege of having suppressed desires, was re served exclusively for the braves, who availed themselves of it as freely as do civilized women to-day. Père Le Jeune admitted that when he first saw the painted warriors at Tadoussac, he could think of nothing but French harlequins at carnival time. The natural color of the Indians, the uniform reddish tint, "not unlike that of beggars in the south of France who are {165} half-roasted by the sun," he thought extremely handsome; and he marveled the more that they should disfigure themselves with patches and stripes of red and blue, "as though they were masquerading." "The colors used are bright and strong like those of our masks," he wrote to his Provincial. "The least conspicuous braves had one black bar like a wide ribbon reaching from ear to ear, and three little black stripes on each cheek."

Red was the color of battle, and the savages would no more have thought of taking the war path without daubing themselves with red paint than civilized soldiers would think of fighting in mufti. Père Le Moyne says that the Hurons and Algonquins admitted other tints, each warrior having his own set of colors and his own set of patches and stripes, which he retained for life. Père Mathurin Le Petit describes the Natchez as being so liberally supplied with this precious red clay that they painted, not only themselves, but their arrows, their tomahawks, and even the poles ornamented with red plumes which they carried like pennons into the fray. The dye was equally vivid and permanent, as {166} Père Marquette discovered when he tried a little of it on his paddle, and it lasted for fifteen days. The mildness of the summer weather—too hot, indeed, at noontide—the comparative gentleness of the current, and the beauty of the low-lying lands on either side of the river would have made this part of the voyage an unbroken delight to the explorers had it not been for the mosquitoes. These terrible little pests grew more numerous and more alert day by day and night by night. "We have entered their territory," wrote Père Marquette; "we are intruders in their abode." At night the Canadians protected themselves Indian fashion by building fires and smoking the insects away; but in the daytime—being compelled to hug the shore—they had no chance of escape. The most they could do was to paddle steadily on, suffering in silence, and keeping a sharp lookout for danger.

Mosquitoes occupy a prominent place in the Relations. They were considered to be the worst feature of the swarming insect life in the American woods. The large flies stung furiously, and the pain of the sting lasted for days. The gnats were too small to be seen, but managed to make {167} themselves felt. But the mosquitoes were so persevering and so poisonous that hardened woodsmen were made ill by their bites. The only harmless things were the butterflies and fireflies, the latter more beautiful and brilliant than the glowworms of France. Père Brébeuf, bravest of men and most stoical of martyrs, was of the opinion that mosquitoes ranked with hunger, fatigue, and "the stench of tired-out savages"—four things difficult to endure. Père Le Moyne, who was of a humorous turn, wrote that it was "a pleasure sweet and innocent beyond conception" to sleep on the bare ground, under such shelter as the trees afforded, while drenching rain washed the mosquitoes from his suffering body.

Eight days after Père Marquette and Joliet had left the hospitable Illinois they sighted their next Indians, a score or so of braves armed with guns and lining the river bank. The Canadians dropped their paddles and picked up their muskets, ready to meet the attack; but the priest, holding aloft the calumet, called out in the Huron tongue some words of peaceful greeting. The response was unintelligible; but the savages, who {168} seemed more disconcerted than angry, made signs to the canoes to draw in to the shore. This was done, and, after some hesitation on both sides, five of the seven white men landed warily, leaving two of the party to guard their precious possessions. Back of the bushes that fringed the bank lay a row of wigwams, and into one of these they were invited to enter. Confiding in the sacred rites of hospitality, they obeyed, and were at once offered such food as the savages had on hand—dried buffalo meat softened with bear's grease, and some wild white plums which Père Marquette thought delicious. A handful of fruit, a dish of tender young squash, a freshly roasted ear of corn, these were the rarest of delicacies, and were always mentioned in the missionaries' letters with an enthusiasm which speaks volumes for their ordinary fare.

Joliet, who had a wide acquaintance with wandering Indian tribes, failed to recognize his hosts, who vouchsafed no information about themselves, and are given no name in the report. They spoke—imperfectly—the Huron tongue, and the squaws dressed with the comparative neatness of Huron women; but the braves wore {169} their hair long, and tattooed their bodies after the fashion of the Iroquois. They traded with both French and Spaniards, which accounted for their possession of guns, and also for their knives, porcelain beads, and the heavy glass flasks in which they carried powder. They told Joliet that he was within ten days' journey of the sea; and, although this experienced traveler had learned to place little reliance upon distances as measured by Indians, it was heartening to hear something definite, even if that something were not true. He and Père Marquette gave what gifts they could afford to their entertainers, and started with fresh courage. A spirit of hopefulness diffused itself over the party. Their hearts were light, their canoes spun rapidly down the river. Perhaps, after all, the final goal was near.

Lofty and beautiful forests had succeeded the prairies; but the incessant bellowing of buffaloes showed that beyond the woods lay open spaces, and the hunting that Indians loved. Small game was plentiful. The Canadians shot quail, and a brilliant little paroquet, red, green, and yellow. Everything was going well, and that sense of security which is apt to be the forerunner {170} of danger filled all hearts. Suddenly from the wooded shore came piercing and discordant yells. Wigwams could be dimly discerned under the heavy trees, and savages armed with bows and tomahawks (happily no guns) swarmed to the water's edge. To turn back was impossible; so, commending themselves anew to the care of the Mother of God, the adventurers stopped paddling and snatched their arms, while Père Marquette waved the precious calumet, and tried vainly to make himself heard above the din. Some of the Indians leaped into canoes and sought to surround the intruders; others with drawn bows lined the shore; and a few young athletes essayed to swim out to the white men, but were beaten back by the heady current. A club whizzed past Père Marquette's head and fell harmless into the water. It was a disturbing moment.

Joliet signed to his men to hold their fire. His keen and practised eye had observed one thing clearly. The savages were apprehensive. The very noise and uproar showed that what they wanted to do was to frighten the supposed intruders, and save their village from assault. He {171} knew that the first shot would be the signal for battle, and that while six good marksmen could make fearful havoc, the final victory would not be theirs. The massed attack of the heavy wooden canoes would overturn their lighter barks, and fling their occupants into the river. He saw that although the bows were bent, and the strings taut, the arrows were not launched. Then he looked at his friend. The little priest stood upright and very still. The hand that held the calumet did not tremble. His face wore a smile as friendly and assured as though he were being welcomed by his converts of St. Ignace. Joliet had no confidence in Indians, but he had perfect confidence in Père Marquette. If the missionary felt that all was right, all would be right without doubt. One does not have a genius for making friends in order to die at the hands of an enemy.

Meanwhile, a small group of braves, older men who had been steadily regarding the calumet, moved to the river's edge and entered a canoe, laying down their arms as a token of amity. They paddled a few rods and made signs to the strangers to approach. This Joliet did, not because he wanted to, but because it seemed {172} doubly dangerous to refuse. Slowly and apprehensively the seven voyagers landed and looked about them. The silent savages returned their scrutiny, holding their bows in readiness. Père Marquette composedly addressed himself to the seemingly friendly braves. He and Joliet tried one tongue after another, but none were intelligible to these Mitchigameans, a small and war-like tribe who lived in a few scattered villages on or near the St. Francis River, and who were subsequently, according to Père Charlevoix, adopted by the stronger and better equipped Illinois. In fact, an old warrior who understood, though he could hardly be said to speak, that language, was unearthed to confer with the white men. Through him the priest offered the customary gifts, and informed the chiefs that he and his friend were following the Mississippi to the sea. A truce being thus established, the Indians offered their visitors a supper of fresh fish and sagamité, and invited them to spend the night in one of the lodges, promising to escort them the next day to a more populous village eight leagues down the river. Joliet would have dispensed with both the hospitality and the {173} escort had he been given the choice, and even Père Marquette admitted that he passed "an anxious night."

The morning, however, brought renewed hope and confidence. The travelers embarked early, and ten savages in a strong, clumsy canoe accompanied them. Word must have been sent during the night to the neighboring Indians, who were not Mitchigameans, but belonged to the Akansas or Arkansas tribe. Before the village was reached, two canoes were sent out to meet and greet the strangers. In one of them stood a formidable warrior holding the calumet. He gravely presented to Père Marquette and to Joliet a cake of Indian corn baked in the ashes, and sang "very agreeably" while they ate it. On landing they perceived that preparations had been made for a ceremonious reception. Clean rush mats had been spread on the floor of the chief's lodge. Around in a solemn circle sat the older braves; back of them the young men; and back of them as many boys, squaws, and children as could force an entrance. Through an interpreter who was fairly familiar with the Illinois tongue, Père Marquette made an address, punctuated as usual {174} by gifts. He told his audience of the Christian creed which it behooved them to embrace, and of the great French king who had sent him, and others like him, to teach them this holy faith. He asked how far away was the sea, how navigable was the river, and how well disposed were the tribes that dwelt upon its banks.

With commendable politeness the chief replied that the priest's words were grateful to his spirit, and begged him to remain in the village and tell his people of the great unknown God. He then said that the sea was not more than ten days' journey, and that the Canadians in their light canoes could cover the distance in half that time. But he warned them that every step would be increasingly dangerous, that the Indians were hostile and well armed, that the white men were not of their country nor of their speech, and that it was highly improbable that they would be allowed to proceed on their way. In proof of his words he admitted that his village was surrounded by unfriendly tribes, that his people were debarred from trading with white men, and that they were compelled to part with their hides to other Indians in exchange for knives, hatchets, {175} and beads. They dared not venture up or down the river, nor far into the interior to hunt the wild cattle, because their enemies were strong and well armed. They feared to provoke hostility against which they had no adequate defense.

The poverty of these savages was apparent to the experienced eyes of their guests. True the day was spent in feasting—that was imperative—but the food, except for some ears of ripe corn, was unpalatable and served without ceremony. Platters of sagamité and dog's flesh succeeded each other for hours, and all present scrambled, though not rudely, for a portion. The braves, handsome and well formed, wore only loincloths. Their hair was short, their ears and noses pierced and hung with beads. The women made a valiant attempt to cover themselves with pieces of mangy skin. They dressed their hair in long braids, but had no ornaments. Beads were too precious to be wasted on them. The wigwams were made of bark, and raised several feet above the soft and spongy earth. The only signs of abundance were the fields of maize, which grew thick, green, and beautiful. The only art was {176} pottery, great earthen jars, well made and well shaped, in which the corn was cooked. This pottery was superior to that of any Northern tribe. Specimens of it are to be found to-day in American museums.

The Arkansas Indians had not always been the feeble remnant described by Père Marquette. They are said to have been descendants of the Aztecs; and their ancestors are supposed to have come from Mexico, via the Rio Colorado, and the headwaters of the Platte or the Arkansas River. They had been formidable warriors in their day; but too few in numbers to cope with hostile tribes. Later explorers have much to say in their praise. Père Charlevoix christened them "les beaux hommes," and pronounced them to be the tallest and best-made natives of America. Père Zénobe Membré, a Récollet missionary who accompanied La Salle on many expeditions, visited one of their villages in 1682, and wrote enthusiastically to his superior of their many good qualities. The squaws, indeed, were timid, and took to the woods if a white man showed his face; but the braves were "gay, civil, and freehearted.... The young men, though the most {177} alert and spirited we had seen, were nevertheless so modest that not one of them would take the liberty of entering our cabin; but all stood quietly at the door. They are graceful and erect. We could not but admire their beauty. Nor did we lose the value of a pin while we were among them."

This reads like a fancy sketch. Père Marquette's experience was less happy, and more in accord with Indian life and character. During the night some of the braves proposed that the seven white men should be slain, and their possessions—of no great value save for the coveted guns and canoes—be divided among the murderers. To this the chief would by no means consent. The strangers were his guests; he had fed them, he had smoked with them the pipe of peace, he had made himself responsible for their safety. Early in the morning he came with the interpreter to the wigwam in which they slept, and warned them of their danger, promising that he would protect them as long as they remained in the village. He emphasized his words by gravely dancing the calumet dance in their presence; and to make {178} assurance doubly sure he presented to them the sacred pipe which was the counterpart of the one they already possessed.

The Frenchmen and Canadians held a council of war. The time had come for them to decide whether they should risk all by a further advance, or return with the certain knowledge they had gained. It was a difficult decision to reach. Joliet and Père Marquette had set their hearts upon following the Mississippi to the sea. This had been their cherished hope from the beginning. This would be the one perfect conclusion of their adventure. But they were not adventurers only. They were trusted agents sent by their civil and religious authorities to ascertain the course of the great river which had hitherto been a matter of hearsay to the colonists of New France. This they had accomplished. Their maps and carefully kept records would clear the way for all subsequent navigators. They knew now that the Mississippi did not flow into the Vermilion Sea but into the Gulf of Mexico. They knew what opportunities for trade it offered, and what dangers lined its way.

Not for a minute did Joliet believe the Indians {179} who kept repeating that they were within ten days' journey of the sea. He was right in his mistrust. Seven hundred miles lay between them and this hoped-for goal. The season was far advanced. It was still mild and warm in the latitude they had reached; but the autumnal storms of the South were as much to be feared as the frost and snow which awaited them in the North. It was evident that none of the languages they spoke would be of any service to them among the strange tribes they might encounter. And far more dangerous than the probable hostility of the savages was the assured hostility of the Spaniards, who, if less murderous, were more intelligent, who would in all likelihood detain them as prisoners, and who would certainly destroy any papers which facilitated the encroachments of the French.

It will be observed that the spirit of the missionary and the spirit of the explorer—even when united in one man—were wholly and very properly dissimilar. In those devout days the simple and primitive conception of a missionary was a man who went at his own risk to convert the heathen to Christianity. He did not expect to {180} be comfortable, and he did not expect to be safe. Neither his country nor his church expected him to be comfortable or safe. They offered him no protection; and, if they regretted his barbarous death, it was no part of their program to punish his murderers. He was supposed to seek, rather than avoid, the crown of martyrdom. Sometimes he did seek, or at least welcome, it valiantly. When Père Brébeuf wrote to his superior: "The will of God be done in all things. If He appoints us now to die, ah, what a good hour for us!" he did no more than express the supreme emotion of his soul. He kissed the stake to which he was to be bound, an action akin to that of Father Campion saluting the dark hill of Tyburn where he knew that he would one day suffer a death of agony. Père Lalemant, who was given a chance of escape, refused to leave Père Brébeuf, and died in torments by his side.

These men had a single duty to perform. Their business was to stick to their posts and take what was coming to them. They were gallant and passionate lovers of souls, and so, in truth, was Père Marquette. He was not without a shadowy dream of martyrdom, though the day for such {181} dark glories had passed. But it was not as a possible martyr, nor, primarily, as a priest, that he had been sent on his present errand. The task that had been assigned to him and to Joliet was one of practical utility. They knew that they had no right to imperil its success for the sake of adventure. They were not free men like La Salle and Tonty, who could go wherever danger led them. They were servants of the Church and of the State, acting under orders, responsible for the lives of their men and for the safe delivery of their papers. Reluctantly they turned their backs upon the resplendent vision of the sea, and prepared to return to Quebec.


Chapter XIII


Paddling against the current of the Mississippi was a very different thing from floating down the stream. Retracing the course was at once more difficult and less interesting than the southward journey, when every day brought fresh sights and fresh adventures. The canoeists threaded their way among small islands, seeking smooth and navigable water. Now and then they entered bayous which took them inland, growing narrower and more sluggish until they were choked by fallen trees, or ended in a swamp. Then the canoes were turned back, and an anxious search made for the lost channel. The nights were chill, the shores malarial. Sometimes the travelers feared to land and build a fire. They mixed their meal with a little cold water, and slept as best they could in the canoes, wrapped in mist and a prey to poisonous insects.


Joliet's hardihood was proof against fatigue and fever. His spare young frame had grown as lean as a hitching post. His skin was bronzed, his watchful blue eyes looked weary and burned out. But his health and his vitality were unimpaired. He was inured to endurance. The five Canadian boatmen, about whom little has been said, appear to have been as brave as they were faithful. Their confidence in their leaders was never shaken, their courage never failed. Their namelessness, like the namelessness of the "unknown" soldiers who sleep in state, is an added call for our regard. All that we know about them is that they did their work like men. Père Marquette also did his work like a man. Day by day he paddled conscientiously; but day by day his stroke grew feebler. Night by night he lay quietly by his comrade's side, and arose wan and unrefreshed. Joliet, who observed him keenly, thanked Heaven they were homeward bound. He measured the priest's strength with the miles that lay before them, and, as they won their slow way northward, he sometimes feared it was a race with death.

Happily the Illinois River offered a {184} comparatively quick and safe route to Lake Michigan. Once they had entered its mouth, the worst of their dangers and difficulties were over. The air grew keener and more invigorating. The grand army of mosquitoes remained encamped on the banks of the Mississippi. Noble forests and rich grassy plains lined the shores between which they passed. Game was abundant, and Joliet no longer feared to land and build his camp fire by the water's edge. Père Marquette's journal reflected once again his old delight in the wild life about him. "We have seen nothing to compare to this river," he wrote joyously. "For over sixty-five leagues it runs wide, deep, and still, fringed with woods and prairies. Everywhere we see cattle, elk, deer, wildcats, bustards, swans, ducks, and small birds. Now and then we glimpse a beaver. There are many little lakes and streams."

Seven miles below the present town of Ottawa lay a village of Illinois Indians, and here the travelers stayed three days to rest and replenish their stores. It was a fair-sized settlement of seventy-four lodges, each containing several families who lived in their own compartments and cooked by their own fires. All were well {185} disposed toward the French, and all—after the urbane fashion of friendly savages—begged the priest to come back and live with them. They also proffered an escort to the shores of Lake Michigan, an attention very gratefully received, as insuring swifter progress and much needed help over the portages. A young chief and half-a-dozen braves composed this escort, and with their aid the white men reached the lake in safety. Mr. Thwaites says that historians are divided in their opinions as to which portages were used, there being a choice between the watersheds of the Chicago and the Calumet rivers; but to the ordinary reader this point is of little moment. The lake was gained, the Indians returned to their village, and the two battered canoes bravely confronted the high winds and rough waters which impeded their progress for a hundred and fifty miles.

Nothing could be more beautiful than the scenery which the travelers passed. Nothing could be more temperamental than the weather they encountered. Sometimes they paddled merrily in sheltered coves; sometimes they skirted high bluffs stretching far into the lake; {186} sometimes they were driven by storms to land and cover themselves as best they could with the travel-worn reed mat. There was a well-known Indian portage, now a canal, between Lake Michigan and Sturgeon Bay. It was two miles long, and led through forests of mighty pines. With a supreme and final effort the seven exhausted men shouldered the canoes, paddles, mat, provisions, and all their precious belongings, and crawled at a snail's pace over those unending miles. When they emerged from the woods and saw the waters of Sturgeon Bay lapping the shore, they gave a great cry of joy and thanksgiving. Past were their dangers, anxieties, and fatigues. The way lay straight to the St. François Xavier mission, that abode of peace and plenty, with its rapid river, its fisheries and fields, its towering cross, and the friends that awaited their coming. Before the first frosts of winter had blighted the corn, the adventurers, gaunt, spent, and triumphant, knelt at the foot of the cross, giving thanks to God and to the watchful Virgin who had thrown her mantle of protection around them, and brought them safe to harbor.


Here they stayed. Père Marquette had been transferred to this mission, and found himself treated with tender care and indulgence. The season was too far advanced for Joliet to hope to reach Quebec, and both men needed time to make out their separate reports: Père Marquette's for his superior general, Joliet's for Frontenac. Their maps were drawn with as much care as an imperfect knowledge permitted. Their facts tallied, their observations were no doubt very different. Much space was given by the missionary to the possible conversion of the Indians, the Illinois Indians especially. His report closes with a simple account of a dying child brought to him at the water's edge, and baptized before its soul took flight. Upon this incident he lingers lovingly. Glancing back over the arduous and exciting months, over the two thousand five hundred miles—an incredible distance—which he and his friend had covered in their bark canoes, over perils, privations, and the glorious hour of discovery, the thing which emerged with happy distinctness in his memory was the face of that dying baby. He had been long a pioneer. Now he was again a priest.


It was natural that Joliet should have been keen to present himself as soon as he could before the Governor of New France. He felt sure of his welcome, sure of the worth of his intelligence, sure of his reward. He was compelled to wait until the Mackinac Straits were clear of ice, and the waterways as safe as they were ever likely to be. His impatience deepened with every week of delay, and when he could bear it no longer, he embarked with his faithful crew of boatmen and the Indian boy who had been given to him and to Père Marquette by the chief of the Illinois, and who was probably being taken to school in Quebec. Despite his eagerness, he did not go straight to his destination, but explored the shores of Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, stopping at Fort Frontenac where (according to Shea) he met La Salle, and told him the story of his great discovery. It was the middle of July when he left the fort and started for Montreal. The St. Lawrence ran high, and the winds were mercilessly strong. Nevertheless, the canoe, which had done such good service, rode gallantly day after day until the La Chine rapids were {189} reached. They were impassable. Eight miles from the city, at the very doors of safety, a violent gust overturned the little boat, whirling it round and round like a leaf in the gale. Two of the three boatmen and the young Indian were drowned. Joliet, hard to kill, kept himself afloat until the waves dashed him on a rock, from which he was rescued by some fishermen and carried to shore, a saved but ruined man.

There is something heroic and heartrending in a letter written to Frontenac by this unconquered adventurer who all his life was fortune's toy but never fortune's slave. His carefully prepared report, his map, his personal observations, the hardly acquired fruit of so much toil and peril, were lost. He had nothing to show for his labors but himself. "I had escaped every danger," he wrote. "I had suffered no harm from Indians. I had passed many rapids. I was nearing home, full of joy at the success of a long and difficult voyage. There seemed nothing more to fear when a sudden gale capsized my canoe. I lost two men and my box of papers when I was within sight of Montreal which I had left two years before. {190} Nothing remains to me but my life, and the ardent desire to employ it in any service you may please to direct."

It is worthy of note that Joliet, in the full tide of his troubles, deeply lamented the drowning of the little Indian who had been entrusted to his care. He did not mention him in his letter to the governor; but he wrote to Monseigneur de Laval of his grief at the death of this child, who had very promising qualities. "He was ten years old, quick-witted, diligent, obedient, and endowed with an excellent disposition. He had learned to speak French, and was beginning to read and write that language."

The loss of Joliet's papers was a terrible calamity to him, and a very real misfortune for the French colonial government. His was the official report, and doubtless more detailed than Père Marquette's. Lacking it, the missionary's journal became of supreme importance; though Joliet, on reaching Quebec, wrote at Frontenac's request a second report, and drew a second map, for both of which he relied upon his memory. On the map he traced the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, and named it "Rivière Buade" in {191} honor of the governor. The region lying between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi he named "La Frontenacie," and the Arkansas River was christened "Rivière Bazire," after M. Charles Bazire, receiver general of the king's revenues in Quebec. Altogether a courtly piece of work, which was destined to be replaced by one still courtlier; for on a later map which was sent to France the Mississippi was renamed, by Frontenac's orders, "Rivière Colbert," after the great French minister, and "La Frontenacie" became "La Colbertie." It may be observed that Père Marquette had originally christened the Mississippi "Rivière de la Conception," in honor of the Immaculate Virgin; but renaming places has always been a French passion. The streets of Paris bear witness to it, just as the streets of London bear witness to England's picturesque conservatism.

Père Dablon, aghast at the misfortune which had befallen Joliet, did not wait until the report commanded by Frontenac had been written; but lost no time in taking down all the details of the expedition which the shipwrecked explorer could remember and dictate to him. In both {192} narratives Joliet stressed the undeviating course of the Mississippi, its general navigability, the presence of iron ore, and the richness of the southern soil. Being himself an incorrigible wanderer who would have hated to cultivate any soil, he employed every artifice to persuade settlers that cultivating the prairies would be little short of Paradise. "A farmer," he said, "need not there spend years cutting and burning timber as in New France. The very day he arrived he could start ploughing his ground; and if he had no cattle, those of the country would serve his turn. He could moreover use their skins, and make cloth of their hair, finer than the red and blue blankets of the Iroquois. He could raise good grapes and graft trees. Hemp grows in abundance without planting. In a word, he would find in this country all that is necessary for life and comfort, except salt, which is easy of transportation."

To this roseate picture were added details still more alluring. The bison, which Père Marquette had regarded with unqualified alarm, were described as "easy to kill" and very good to eat. Quail, partridges, snipe, and turkeys awaited {193} the hunter's gun. Apples, plums, mulberries, and chestnuts were abundant. The savages were "modest, affable, and obliging." The squaws were "very reserved and industrious. They have their noses cut off if they do wrong. They raise watermelons, pumpkins, and squashes of all kinds. Also three crops of corn in a year. One crop is gathered while another is springing from the ground."

It was doubtless a matter of regret to Joliet that he was compelled to admit that the Mississippi emptied into the Gulf of Mexico, and not into the more desirable Gulf of California. But he had hopes to offer even in that direction. "It would have been very fortunate," wrote Père Dablon at his dictation, "if the limit of our discovery had been the Vermilion Sea which gives entrance to the sea of China and Japan. One need not, however, despair of reaching this water with the help of the Mississippi. The land is covered with lakes and broken by rivers which communicate with one another, and afford marvelous means of transportation."

Joliet's narrative awakened profound interest in France. Colbert was as alive as Frontenac had {194} been to the value of the great discovery, and to the importance of planting French trading stations along the river's bank. If the discoverer received no immediate reward, he was not forgotten. If the governor's attitude toward him remained somewhat chilly, this may have been, as Parkman thinks, the result of hostility to the Jesuits, preference for the Sulpicians, and friendship for La Salle; or it may have been a natural impatience on Frontenac's part with men who met with disasters. He himself had been buffeted by fate, but he had always come out triumphant from the fray. It was what he expected of his followers.

It is to M. Pierre Margry, director of the Archives of the Marine and Colonies in Paris, and an indefatigable student of historic byways, that we owe what knowledge we possess of Joliet's subsequent career. In 1675 he married Claire Bissot, a cousin of the receiver general after whom he had so astutely named the Arkansas River, and the daughter of a wealthy trader who dealt with the Indians of the far north. In the interests of his father-in-law he traveled to Hudson Bay—distances being {195} nothing to him—in the summer of 1679. Here he found three English forts, manned by sixty soldiers, an armed English vessel carrying twelve guns, and a number of small trading boats. The commander of the force, aware that men of experience, sagacity, and courage are hard to come by, offered him liberal inducements to remain and throw in his lot with theirs; but Joliet was nothing if not French. He returned to Quebec, and reported the presence of these formidable rivals. Unless they were dispossessed, the trade of New France was bound to suffer grievously.

The result of this unwelcome information was the forming of a new company, designed and equipped for the Hudson Bay trade. Joliet's loyalty was rewarded with a grant of the islands of Mignan, which was supplemented the following year by a grant of the large and valuable island of Anticosti in the estuary of the St. Lawrence. Here he established fisheries on a vast and lucrative scale, here he made a useful chart of the St. Lawrence, and here he built himself a home. For eight years that jade Fortune smiled blandly on him. He grew rich. He maintained a large establishment. The wagoner's son became a {196} person of importance. Then the blow fell as suddenly and blightingly as it had fallen on the triumphant young discoverer of the Mississippi. There was open warfare between the English and French colonists. Sir William Phipps, afterward Governor of Massachusetts, had taken Port Royal by surprise in 1690, and was sent with an augmented force against Montreal and Quebec. Joliet was away, no one knows where. His island, his fisheries, his home, lay defenceless in the invader's path. Phipps landed, burned all the buildings—easy work—and carried away as prisoners the Canadian's wife and mother-in-law. He was subsequently defeated by Frontenac, and forced to an ignominious retreat; but this repulse came too late to help Joliet, who for a second time saw his hopes defeated, his work ruined, and himself a harassed and beggared man.

After 1690 there is a hiatus in his history, and little more remains to be told. We know at least that his energy was unimpaired, for four years later, in 1694, he was again in Labrador, in the service of the whale fisheries and the seal trade. From this perilous voyage he returned safely, {197} and Frontenac made him royal pilot of the St. Lawrence. He also received the appointment of hydrographer at Quebec, together with a small seigniory which is said to be still in the hands of his descendants. He died in 1700, being then only fifty-five years old. A hard, merry, tragic, and always hazardous existence. Apparently he was not much richer at the time of his death than he had been in his resourceful and venturesome youth. He was buried on one of the islands of Mignan, and the world he had helped on its way was content for the time—but for the time only—to forget him.

Nothing can be less worth while than to dispute the respective claims of Père Marquette and Joliet as leaders of their expedition, unless it be to dispute their claims as discoverers of a river that had been already discovered. Yet, strange to say, these are the two points which have engrossed historians, to the exclusion of more interesting matter. The Reverend Francis Borgia Steck, whose treatise is by far the most exhaustive study of the subject which has yet been published, devotes thirty-five closely printed pages to proving that Joliet was the {198} official head of the party, and thirty-three pages to proving that the finding of the Mississippi was a rediscovery only. He supports these two points, which appear to him all-important, with every possible argument and every available authority. When we have read both chapters with close attention, we find ourselves—as often happens after prolonged disputation—precisely where we were in the beginning.

The expedition which met with such signal success was very quietly conducted. We know all about it, principally because there is so little to be known. Frontenac, at Talon's suggestion, sent Joliet, as he had sent La Salle, to discover the Mississippi. How and why Père Marquette was selected as his associate in the enterprise is not clear, and becomes no clearer on investigation. It is amazing to learn that for the last half century an argumentative generation has tossed the question of leadership to and fro, hotly contesting the claims of the young priest and of the young trader, neither of whom seems to have made any claim of his own. The Jesuits have naturally supported their son. Lay writers have supported the layman. The dispute is of {199} necessity limited to official supremacy. It is impossible to say that either of the men assumed control of the party. Such a statement would be a pure surmise. One thing, however, is sure. If they had fought for the command as vigorously as their supporters have fought for them, the Mississippi would have waited for subsequent discoverers.

It is to Charlevoix's narrative that we can trace the first definite assertion of Père Marquette's leadership. It has no backing beyond a sentiment on the writer's part that, if he were not the head of the expedition, he should have been. This point of view has been repeated more than once. The Jesuit was better born and better educated than Joliet. He was older, which was no advantage. He was a "black-robe," which was a very great advantage indeed. A half-century of hard and heroic work had won for the French missionaries a fair degree of respect from savages who had begun by hating and mistrusting them. In a knowledge of Indian languages and of Indian ways both men were unusually well equipped. Both had friendly and reasonable dispositions. Neither was in any sense {200} of the word a great pioneer. By the side of heroic figures like Champlain and La Salle they appear (though they did find the river of mystery) as players of lesser parts in the combat that civilization was waging against the forces of nature and savagery.

That they played their parts harmoniously was a supreme asset. It was not in the spirit of rivalry but in the spirit of friendship that Père Marquette and Joliet went on their quest. Little they dreamed of the battles that would be waged in their names. They seem to have been what Santayana says Englishmen are: "artists in rudimentary behavior, ideal comrades in a tight place." If they had no great breadth of view or boldness of design, they were rational, good-tempered, brave, loyal and advisable. The parting at St. François Xavier's was final; but each must have carried through life a warm regard for the other. They had faced side by side difficulties and dangers; they had enjoyed side by side the fulfilment of their hopes. Common friendships have little to compare with such a bond between high-hearted and generous men.

The destruction of Joliet's papers, which left {201} Père Marquette's journal the only record of the voyage, must be held responsible for the supremacy which was for years accorded to the priest. Not that he was at the time the recipient of much attention, or that the journal attracted widespread notice. It did not reach Quebec until the autumn of 1674. Perhaps some returning missionary or trader took it in charge. Perhaps it was entrusted to Ottawa Indians who made many visits to the French settlements. People in those days did not clamor impatiently for news. They were accustomed to wait, and they had acquired the art of waiting with composure. Père Dablon had learned from Joliet that the expedition had been successful, that Père Marquette's health had broken under the strain, that he was resting and recuperating at Green Bay. Four months later he received the report which he forwarded to France after making a careful copy. The accompanying map he appears to have kept, as it is still preserved in the archives of St. Mary's College, Montreal. In the course of time—that is, some years after Père Marquette's death—the report was published in Paris; but the original manuscript was lost or destroyed like thousands {202} of other original manuscripts in that easy-going age. Père Dablon's copy fared better, and reposes securely in the college archives.

As for the second burning question, the discovery or rediscovery of the Mississippi, it offers no field for dispute. De Soto discovered the great river. It might have proved his fortune if it had not proved his grave. He had known of its existence from De Vaca's report, just as Père Marquette and Joliet had known of its existence from the repeated reports of savages. He saw it with his own eyes, just as Père Marquette and Joliet saw it with theirs. Parkman says that the knowledge De Soto gained at the price of his life "was never utilized, and was well-nigh forgotten." The statement is only partially correct. Spain, though strongly urged to colonize Florida, never made any determined effort to do so. Her first expeditions had been singularly unsuccessful, and later on her home troubles were of a nature to hamper colonial activities. Under that most unlucky monarch, Philip the Second, she became incapable of any strong constructive work in the New World. Nevertheless, she did not forget the Mississippi (which for her was the Rio del {203} Espíritu Santo), nor did it ever cease to be an object of speculation and ambition to her adventurous sons.

When Louis de Moscoso, who succeeded De Soto in command, returned to the City of Mexico, and told the viceroy, Mendoza, of his leader's death and of the loss of one half of the expeditionary force, these melancholy tidings were in some measure offset by his account of the river down which he and his men had sailed in boats of their own building to the northern shore of the gulf. From that day forth the Mississippi, under its Spanish name, reappears continually in Spanish documents. In 1557 Pietro de Santander advised the speedy colonization of Florida (the gulf coast being then largely and loosely known by that name), giving as an inducement the existence of its great waterway. "There is in this region a river called Espíritu Santo which has eight leagues of mouth, and flows five hundred leagues from its source." In 1565 a Spaniard named Castañeda, who twenty years before had accompanied Coronado on his bootless expedition, wrote an account of it, and of the river which he had never seen, but of {204} which he had heard a vast deal. He described it as flowing from the far north and fed by many tributaries, so that, when it entered the Gulf of Mexico, its current was so vast and strong that De Soto's men lost sight of the land before the water ceased to be fresh.

It was one thing, however, to know that the river was there and another thing to find it. If the Mississippi had been a mountain stream, or the elusive Fountain of Youth, it could not have hidden itself more successfully from white men's eyes. La Salle, who a century later followed its lower waters to the sea, failed to rediscover it when he returned from France in 1684, and perished in the search. The Spaniards had De Vaca's account of the Narvaez expedition, and the vivid stories told by La Vega and the "Gentleman of Elvas." They had maps galore. If, as Parkman says, the river was indistinctly marked on Spanish maps, and if, as Father Steck says, this was done purposely from a desire to lie low, its existence was nevertheless recognized by all the great cartographers of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries. Early maps were indeed better calculated to please than to instruct, to awaken interest {205} than to impart accurate information. It may be that Spain's principle of lying low resulted in a particular vagueness concerning some of her possessions in the New World.

Nevertheless, Gerard Mercator, Abraham Ortelius, and Cornelius Wytfliet all marked the great river on their maps, and all showed it flowing southward. Its Spanish name was familiar to Frenchmen, and Père Dablon wrote to Paris: "It is very probable that the river which geographers call St. Esprit is the Mississippi which has been navigated by Sieur Joliet." On later and less scholarly maps it was sometimes traced without being named, and sometimes named without being traced, which was a trifle confusing. Nowhere was it so completely ignored as to prove that its existence had faded from men's minds. Nowhere do we find any indication that the Spaniards were following up their great discovery by explorations, by colonization, or even by the establishment of trading stations. If the river had not been lost, it seems tolerably certain that no one knew where to find it.

This was the state of affairs when Père Marquette and Joliet set out on their quest. There was {206} no doubt in their minds, or in the minds of Frontenac and Talon, that the Mississippi existed, that it flowed southward, and that the Indians who had named it were familiar with its banks. Its identity with the Rio del Espíritu Santo was not at the time taken into consideration. The business of the explorers was to ascertain its whereabouts, to trace its course, to discover into what body of water it emptied. If into the Gulf of Mexico, well and good. If into the Gulf of California, so much the better. The South Sea was ever and always the hoped-for goal. But under any circumstances the standard of France must be planted over the fertile lands of the southwest, the outposts of French trade must be extended. The discovery, if discovery it were, was meant to bear practical fruit.

Was it a discovery? Father Steck points out that the French give a wider meaning to the verb découvrir than standard usage permits to its English equivalent. Frontenac wrote to Colbert that Joliet, whom he had selected for the Mississippi venture, was "a man very skilful in these kinds of discoveries." Joliet had then discovered nothing. What Frontenac meant was that he had {207} made careful and successful explorations. In the last century the Reverend Jules Tailhan, S.J., discussing the rival claims of pioneers in the Western world, said that "La Salle completed the discovery of the Mississippi begun by Joliet and Marquette." This would have made it possible for the river to have been discovered three times. Benjamin Sulte in his Mélanges Historiques, published in 1919, expands that possibility. He states that the Mississippi "has been discovered [a été découvert] at least six times in sections." Only a river of its length could have furnished such a succession of thrills.

To the English, however, a place once discovered remains discovered unless it be again lost to the knowledge of civilized men. The Mississippi was never so lost; yet Père Marquette and Joliet were practical discoverers when on that afternoon in June their canoes entered the vast slow current, and they beheld with awe and transport its unlovely, terrifying expanse. They brought the great waterway into the undisputed possession of white men. They turned it from a thing of mystery into a thing of reality, from a straggling line and some letters on a map into {208} an adjunct of civilization and a magnificent artery of trade. Rumor and savage tales crystallized into a splendid certainty. The French were not disposed to conceal the river, or to underrate its significance. If settlements were slow, if perils were many, if difficulties were disheartening, the chance had come, the discovery had been made for all time, the birch-bark canoes had led the way for mighty traffic to follow, and two young men had left their names to a country which has never ceased to hold them in honor.


Chapter XIV


While Joliet was struggling with fate, and Frontenac was preparing to add a finer luster to his governorship, Père Marquette was resting quietly at St. François Xavier's and slowly regaining his strength. He was as unteased by ambition as by anxiety. The impersonal attitude of the Jesuit priest was never better illustrated than in the case of this French missionary. In obedience to his superior's orders he had gone upon a quest. He had been glad to go because he was young and ardent. He had striven with all his might to reach his goal. He had returned successful, had sent in his papers, and was now waiting with a serene mind the next move in the game. The consequences of his discovery (beyond the possible Christianizing of savages) did not deeply concern him. No recognition of his services came from France. Enlightened and {210} amiable societies which distribute medals were probably rare in those days. If praise reached him from the civil or ecclesiastical authorities of Quebec—to that much at least he was entitled—we know nothing about it. Had anyone told him that his name would be a familiar one for centuries to come, he would have felt such a statement to be pure absurdity.

Nevertheless, in the sedate and serious soul of this unsolicitous priest there lingered one desire with which his associates were perfectly well acquainted, and which was about to be gratified. In the autumn of 1674 he received orders to found a new mission among the Illinois, those friendly and intelligent Indians who had been from the first the cherished children of his heart. He had shown himself to be remarkably adroit in his dealings with all savages, and this had been attributed by his superiors to the wide friendliness of his outlook, which had enabled him to see their not very conspicuous virtues, and to his conciliating manner, which tempered the dignity of the priest with the cordiality of the comrade. The most favorable pictures we have of the Indians are drawn by missionaries. It {211} was but natural that traders should have regarded them with suspicion. The great principle of giving little and getting much, which is the foundation of all trade, is ill calculated to produce good-will. To the pioneer farmer the natives were dangerous neighbors, cordially feared and hated. The priests who had nothing to lose but their lives, and nothing to gain but salvation, were able to take a more comprehensive and less prejudiced view. If they emphasized the unpleasantness of personal contact with unwashed, lice-covered, rude, and licentious savages, they did justice to certain qualities, noble in themselves, and which dimly outlined a sense of social responsibility.

So it was that when the Arkansas Indians proposed to kill Père Marquette and Joliet, their chief refused to permit his hospitality to be violated. So it was that the Illinois sought by courtesy and hospitality to secure the protection of France. Père du Perron, who lived on terms of uncomfortable intimacy with the Hurons, admitted that they were "importunate, childish, lying, proud, and lazy"; but hastened to add that they were also "patient, loyal, generous, and {212} hospitable." Their improvement under salutary influences is vouched for by a dozen missionaries; and Père Charlevoix adds the weight of his testimony a full half century after Père du Perron's death. He can find no praise strong enough for the Christian Hurons, for the ordered simplicity of their lives, and for a goodness "which seems to be natural to them." They had even learned—the squaws especially—to sing hymns softly; and this Père Charlevoix considered a sign and symbol of civilization. He had lived too long in courtly and fastidious French society to acquire the superb indifference of the missionaries to the desecration of music and of art. Indian singing appeared to him just what it was—"tiresome, fatiguing, monotonous, disagreeable, and ferocious." The devotional daubs which passed for pictures in the Récollet church of Quebec, and which, like devotional daubs all the world over, gave pious pleasure to those who looked upon them, offended his cultivated taste. In vain he was reminded that the savages were not critical, and that the paintings, though ill done, awakened correct emotions in the minds of the congregation. He merely replied that when {213} pictures were as bad as that, they ought to be removed from the sight of men.

In regard to the almost universal trait of thievishness, Père Charlevoix admits that even in his day the Indians, especially the unconverted Indians, would steal; but he adds that if the squaws ventured to do so—and were found out—they were punished. It was also his experience that whenever he complained to a chief that he had been robbed, the indignant sachem saw to it that his property was promptly restored. The only drawback to this method of obtaining restitution lay in the fact that he was expected to make a handsome present to the chief, and a lesser one to the thief who had been deprived of his spoils, so that he was not much better off than if he had submitted to the original loss. It was a little like the modern system under which stolen property is regained, and detective and burglar share in the reward.

Parkman's insistence upon the Indians' aptitude for such elementary politics as suited their mode of life is the result of his familiarity with the missionaries' reports. The observance of certain conciliating rites and ceremonies, the swift {214} and sure recognition of leadership, the code of public courtesy which contrasted oddly with private and personal rudeness, the obedience to unwritten laws which differed in different tribes—these things are all matters of comment in the Relations. Père du Perron was of the opinion that the savages showed more intelligence, and exhibited more tricks and subtleties in trade and formal intercourse with white men, than did the shrewdest merchants and citizens of France. Père Brébeuf balanced their petty thefts with their generous hospitality, their swinish gluttony with the "perfect quiet and dignity" with which they bore hunger that bordered on starvation. Above all, he observed in them a desire to strengthen the union among friendly tribes by feasts, by exchanging visits and gifts, and by councils without end. They would have been at home and at ease in Geneva.

These efforts at unity among friends were nullified by the hostility of enemies. Tribe warred against tribe, and inherited quarrels were cherished as sacredly as inherited truces. The savages, thinly scattered over an immense area, speaking strange tongues, differing widely in customs and {215} intelligence, and depending for their lives upon their accustomed hunting grounds, were not sufficiently far-seeing to spare themselves the perpetual waste of war. Their only method of replenishing their exhausted strength was by the adoption of conquered enemies into a conquering tribe. This meant that the conquerors were obliged to forego, in the interests of public welfare, the anticipated pleasure of torturing their captives to death. The adopted Indians remained faithful to their new comrades. An ancient code bound them to loyalty for life.

In this connection, Parkman tells a strange and tragic tale. The Eries, living on the south shore of Lake Erie, had captured an Onondaga chief of great repute. He offered himself for adoption as the alternative of being burned at the stake. The matter was discussed in council, and, in view of the courage and sagacity of the captive, his offer was accepted. There was a young Erie squaw then absent from the village. Her brother had been recently killed by the Senecas, who, like the Onondagas, belonged to the Iroquois nation. It was decided that the captured warrior should be given to her as a brother in the place of the one {216} she had lost. Accordingly, he was released and handsomely decorated with feathers and beads. The pipe of peace was smoked, and when the girl returned she was told that a new relative awaited her. Furiously she refused to accept him, and demanded as her right that he should be put to death. In vain the headsmen of the village argued with her. In vain she was shown the handsome young Onondagan. Nothing could move her from her purpose, and the custom on which she based her claim was an ancient one. Even a squaw had certain privileges which might not be denied. The captive was stripped of his finery, bound to the stake, and burned before her eyes. Verily "the hearts of women are as the hearts of wolves." It may be added that the Iroquois took a bloody revenge for the death of the warrior; but of the girl's fate we know nothing.

Such were the characteristic inconsistencies of the savages with whom Père Marquette had invariably succeeded in establishing cordial relations. He had lived among them for only nine years, and those nine years had been divided among different tribes; but he had made many friends and some converts wherever he had {217} been sent, and the Illinois mission promised him a fruitful field of labor. His health was thought to be reëstablished; and in October, 1674, he started with two French boatmen, one of whom had accompanied him to the Mississippi, for a village on the upper waters of the Illinois. The season was late for such a journey. Storms and adverse winds delayed them from the start. Once past the heavy portage that lay between Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan they embarked on the lake in company with a little fleet of canoes, five carrying Pottawattamy Indians and four carrying Illinois. All were bound for the same destination, and the Illinois evinced their good-will by advising Père Marquette to keep his boat close to theirs. They knew the lake and he did not.

The diary written at this period is fragmentary. Conditions were not favorable to composition, and the brief notes were to be expanded later on into one of those voluminous reports which enabled Quebec and France intelligently to control their missions. The events of the journey were of a simple order: game killed, meals eaten, and the best of many bad sites chosen for the night's camp. Once, when they had built their fire, there came {218} looming through the dusk the tall figure of an Indian carrying the carcass of a deer slung over his shoulders. It proved to be an Illinois warrior, whose name, as spelled phonetically by Père Marquette, was Chachagwessiou, and who generously shared his spoil with the wayfarers. Once the priest wandered too far inland, and found himself unable to retrace his steps or cross a deep and rapid stream. His boatmen had much difficulty in rescuing him; and rising winds held them stormbound on the banks of this stream for four and twenty hours. Once they were delayed five days by the turbulence of the lake waters, and by the first snowstorm of the season. A boatman named Pierre busied himself in mending an Indian's gun; and the priest took the opportunity to instruct the savages—who had elevated a wolfskin to the dignity of a manitou—in some of the simpler truths of Christianity.

By the 22d of November the cold had grown intense, and the snow lay a foot deep on the ground. Game was scarce, but Pierre, who was as skilful a hunter as a boatman, managed to shoot three bustards and three wild turkeys, the latter a much esteemed delicacy. Hard though {219} conditions were, the travelers met a party of Mascouten Indians encamped for the winter in nine small wigwams, and keeping themselves alive and vigorous where white men would have died. They feasted or starved according to their luck in the chase, and they regarded the inclemency of the long winter with stoical unconcern. Comparing his feeble strength with theirs, Père Marquette was lost in wonder at the hardihood which forced nature's hand, and bid defiance to her rulings.

For more and more clearly it was borne in upon the priest's mind that the task which had been set him, and which he had accepted with so much gladness, was beyond his power of fulfilment. The first day of December found him weak but able to paddle, and pleased with the smoothness of the water. "Navigation on the lake is now fairly good from one portage to another," he wrote cheerfully. "There is no crossing to be made, and we can land anywhere, keeping out of the reach of the wind. The prairies are very fine and there is no lack of deer." On the fourth they entered the Chicago River, and ascended it two leagues when ice blocked their way. On {220} the eighth, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Père Marquette was too ill to say mass. A halt was called, and a council held. To stay in this bleak spot meant countless hardships, but to press on meant death. It was decided to remain. The boatmen cut down trees, and built a log hut like the one in which Joliet and the two Récollet priests, Père Dollier and Père Galinée, had passed the winter on the shore of Lake Erie. Compared to the hunting wigwams of the Indians, it was a real shelter; and, if one did not mind being choked and blinded by smoke, it could be kept warm. As for game, the hard frost made the deer easy to track (four were killed in four days), and brought the starving birds close to their doors. "We contented ourselves with killing three or four turkeys out of the many that came about our cabin because they were dying of hunger. Jacques [the second boatman] shot a partridge, which was exactly like those of France, except that it had two ruffs of three or four long feathers which covered its neck."

The little party were not wholly isolated from their fellow men. The Illinois Indians with the hunter, Chachagwessiou, who had traveled in {221} their company, were indeed compelled to press on to their village. They had been trading with the French, and were carrying back the much needed goods for which they had sold their pelts. But other savages passed the hut, and with these Père Marquette eagerly conversed, sharing his game with them, refusing them powder which he could not spare, and trading tobacco for three fine oxskins, under which he and his companions lay snug and warm in the long winter nights.

Nothing could exceed the passionate desire of the Indians for French tobacco. They had always held this precious plant in high esteem. The Hurons and the Tionontates, a tribe allied to the Algonquins, grew it most successfully. Indeed the Tionontates were usually called the Petuns or Tobacco nation because it was their only harvest, and made them, according to savage standards, affluent. We have seen that in the calumet dance the Illinois offered a puff at the sacred pipe to the sun, conceiving that no greater honor could be shown even to a god. Père Allouez says that the Outaouacs, before starting to hunt, to fish, or to fight, held a ceremonious feast in honor of the sun. A long harangue was made to the luminary, {222} and as a crowning rite the chief broke a cake of tobacco into two pieces and cast them in the fire. While they burned and the smoke curled upward, the braves cried aloud, calling attention to the magnitude of their sacrifice.

It is greatly to the credit of these untutored savages that they should have discerned the superiority of French tobacco, prepared with the careful art of civilization, and that they should have preferred a delicate and ephemeral pleasure to the satisfaction of sharper needs or grosser appetites. Wandering Illinois cast their beaver skins, the most valuable of their pelts, at Père Marquette's feet, asking in return a handful of this precious commodity. In the account books of the Jesuits, tobacco figures prominently; the invoice of the Illinois mission in 1702 showing among other items thirty pounds of this valuable merchandise. The entries in the Journaux des Jesuites, which were never published with other Relations, tell how many pounds of tobacco were given away in Quebec to visiting Indians, who always expected douceurs. Whether the governor desired to conciliate or to reward, he made the same welcome presentation. A sum of money was {223} set aside every year for "gifts"; and in 1702 the biggest expenditure charged to this account was for tobacco—the reason given being that the savages were "passionately fond of it."

The hunters were not Père Marquette's only visitors, for word of his whereabouts had been carried over the frozen wilds, and from the Illinois village many leagues away came solicitous Indians, bringing him a generous share of their scanty winter stores, meal, pumpkins, and dried meat. Also twelve beaverskins as a token of esteem, and a rush mat. They encouraged the sick man to remain in their country "until he died," and probably thought that day was not far distant. In return for their kindness Père Marquette presented them with appropriate gifts, and this time we are told what they were: one hatchet, two large knives, three clasp knives, a quantity of glass beads, and two double mirrors.

On the 16th of January a French surgeon, or at least a Frenchman who claimed to be a surgeon, made his unexpected appearance at the cabin door. He and a trader named Pierre Moreau, usually known as La Taupine, were wintering eighteen leagues away; and he had bravely {224} journeyed that distance, accompanied by an Indian guide, to give what help he could. He brought with him some meal and some dried blueberries, the nearest approach to a delicacy which a winter in the woods afforded. A little fruit was at all times a rare boon, and a bunch of French raisins represented the highest peak of luxury. Even in the missions they were usually reserved for the sick. The visitor stayed several days, and returned to his post, having duly confessed his sins and communicated. He carried messages to the waiting Illinois. In the spring the priest would be with them.

In the spring he was with them, but many hard weeks had still to be weathered. Père Marquette and his companions began a novena to the Blessed Virgin, begging urgently that she would help him keep his word. He had set his earnest soul upon starting this new mission before he died. By the middle of February the surrounding savages were making ready for their long journey to the trading stations. As soon as the lake became navigable they would start. There was no real lack of food. Partridges were shy but could not escape good marksmen, and deer, wasted by {225} hunger, were all too easily killed. Sometimes the poor creatures were so lean that their carcasses were left lying in the snow. With the first thaw of March, flocks of pigeons made their appearance. Everything pointed to a breaking up of the ice; but the three householders had no conception of the speed and violence with which ice broke. On the night of the 28th they heard the loud cracking, and listened undisturbed. On the 29th the water, released from its winter bondage, rose so high that the hut was flooded. There was barely time to drag out their few possessions and reach a hillock, where they slept on the ground under cover of the friendly oxskins.

This was the signal for departure. Père Marquette's health had greatly improved. The dysentery which had so long wasted his strength was gone. He gave thanks to his dear Protectress, and made ready to leave the lonely spot where he had passed nearly four months. So much has been written about the hardships of those four months, so desolate is the picture in our minds of the rude hut open to winds and weather, of the heavy rains, the bitter cold, the sick man lying on a mat and sustaining life upon the kind of food his {226} faithful boatmen were able to provide, that it is salutary and heartening to read the brief paragraph in which the priest himself sums up his experience:

"The Blessed and Immaculate Virgin has taken such care of us during our wintering that we have not lacked provisions, and still have left a large sack of corn and some fat. We also lived very pleasantly, and my illness did not prevent my saying mass every day. We were unable to keep Lent, except on Fridays and Saturdays."

That brief line, "We also lived very pleasantly," is unsurpassed in letters. It sums up the life story of the man who wrote it. In all ages men have been found who met "their duty and their death" with heroism, who did all that men could do, and bore all that men must bear. But, for the most part, they have been aware of their deeds and of their sufferings. Père Marquette failed to see himself in a heroic light. His voyage of discovery had been blessed by success, for which he took little credit. His winter in the woods was an ordinary happening, and regrettable only because it delayed the work he was so keen to begin.

At any rate, it was over, the water-logged hut {227} being no longer habitable. Therefore on the 31st of March the three travelers took up their interrupted journey. They carried the canoe over the muddy portage which led to the Des Plaines River, only to find the low-lying land flooded to the depth of twelve feet. All they could do was to seek a spot high enough for safety, and wait there ten days until the water fell. They were joined by the French surgeon who had essayed, with the help of an Indian boatman, to carry his beaver skins to Quebec, but had found the river unnavigable. The little party lived on the precious corn saved by Père Marquette from his winter's store, and on the wild ducks which they shot daily. The surgeon decided to make a cache of his pelts—that is bury them in a spot carefully marked—and to accompany the priest to his destination. His companionship was of great service. By the second week of April the floods had subsided, the portages were fairly firm and dry, and the journey, now a short one, was light-heartedly resumed. Floating down the Des Plaines until its junction with the Illinois was reached, the two canoes cautiously descended this stream still swollen by heavy rains. On its {228} shore lay the village that Père Marquette had come so far and striven so hard to reach; and here, according to an old letter of Père Dablon's, the tired little missionary was received "as an angel from heaven."


Chapter XV


Prior to 1650 no French missionary had been received by any Indian tribe as an angel from heaven. The priests who were sent to the New World were compelled to encounter and, if possible, to overcome the natural hostility with which all men, savage and civilized, regard the interloper. To none of us is it given to welcome strange neighbors, strange tongues, strange customs, strange and intrusive points of view. The Indians proved no exception to this rule. They were fairly well satisfied with themselves, tolerant of their own shortcomings, and rigidly faithful to traditions. Their attitude toward the priests varied from superstitious fear and senseless hatred to sullen hostility and contemptuous indifference. At worst this meant for the early Jesuits a cruel death; at best hard labor and sorrowfully scant returns.


Time, however, works wonders, and patience rules the world. Little by little the savages grew accustomed to the presence of the black-robes from whom they had nothing to fear, whose ways were the ways of order and seemliness, and whose unknown God might perhaps do as well by them as the manitous in which they had placed a somewhat fluctuating confidence. The religious beliefs of the American Indians were not deep-rooted, their religious fervor went no farther than a pathetic demand for the immediate necessities of life. Parkman says that they swore no oaths, "probably because their mythology held no being sufficiently distinct to swear by." Nevertheless, we glimpse occasionally in their legends a significance which is purely spiritual. An Algonquin warrior told the Récollet priest, Père Chrétien Le Clerc, the story of a great chief who, after strange and terrible adventures, won back from the spirit world the soul of his dead son. It was given to him enclosed in a small globular wallet, and was to be inserted into the breast of the lad. On regaining his village the chief entrusted this precious treasure into the keeping of a squaw, who, Pandora-like, opened the wallet; {231} whereupon the soul, scorning the joys of living, fled back to the happier realms of Death.

The tale bears a singular resemblance to the far famed miracle of St. Philip Neri, who in 1584 brought back to life the young son of Prince Fabrizio Massimo. The boy was but fourteen years old. He came of an ancient race that traced its line back to the days of pagan Rome. St. Philip looked at him lying childlike on his pillows, his eyes, open, the red color creeping back into his waxen face, and asked him pityingly, "Will you stay here, or will you return whence you came?" The boy answered, "I will return whence I came." And when the saint had blessed him, his soul, like the soul of the young Algonquin savage, took flight a second time for eternity.

If the Indians were slow to understand and accept the preaching of the missionaries, they were quick to observe their superior husbandry, and the increased comfort that came of decent living. It had never been their custom to fertilize the ground on which the squaws raised a scanty harvest of corn, beans, and squash. When the exhausted soil could bear no longer, the village moved on and cleared a fresh space. Now they {232} saw with amazement the fertile fields which surrounded every mission. Père Le Jeune raised rye and barley with great success, and even succeeded in growing a little wheat. Two rows of apple and pear trees he planted, and most of them lived to bear fruit. Père Marquette's watchful concern for his harvests is evidenced in all his letters, in the delight with which he attended the pumpkin feasts of St. Ignace, in his prayers of thanksgiving for the abundant crops.

As for such ingenious contrivances as clocks, hand mills for grinding corn, sharp knives which opened and shut, needles and thread for the repair of garments, these things seemed to the savages perfected miracles of craft. Even habits of cleanliness and decency had in their eyes something unnatural, something which appertained to beings of another order. When a feasting Indian found his fingers to be uncomfortably coated with grease, he wiped them on the hair of the nearest dog, or on his own hair if there were no dog at hand. That the priest should cleanse his soiled hands, or wipe them dry with a piece of stuff, was absurd but noteworthy, a great deal of trouble, {233} but not without pleasing results. The Seventeenth Century was not, like the Twentieth, an age of ritualistic ablutions. In fact, from the time that the Roman baths fell into disrepair until the English rediscovered and vaunted to the skies the physical benefit and moral significance of tubbing, nobody in Europe washed much. It will be remembered that in 1712, thirty-seven years after Père Marquette's death in the wilderness, Addison's "Citizen of London" notes on alternate days in his diary: "Tuesday. Washed hands and face." "Wednesday. Washed hands, but not face." Thus carefully avoiding extremes.

There is all the difference in the world, however, between washing now and then and not washing at all. The Indians, save for a few sick Sioux who had their ailments sweated out of them, considered bathing as a summer experience. In hot weather they plunged into the streams and pools. In cold weather they just as naturally kept out of them. It was part of the Jesuit discipline to take no notice of this or of other savage idiosyncrasies; and the studied politeness of the missionary's bearing found favor in the eyes of a {234} proud and sensitive race which was never without an understanding and appreciation of dignity.

The dominant motive underlying all these minor considerations was, of course, fear of the Iroquois. Only France was able to cope with this terrible foe who conquered, not by means of superior numbers, but by sheer force of will and ferocity. So overwhelming was the terror they inspired that when the trembling Hurons asked Père Le Jeune if the Iroquois could ever be admitted into the Christian Paradise, and he said yes, they refused to be baptized. The happy hunting ground of the savage was purely parochial. No outsiders were admitted. The Hurons would not risk Heaven in company with their ancient enemy.

Fear was forgotten and hope was paramount when Père Marquette entered Kaskaskia, his last mission, and one that rivaled in beauty St. François Xavier and the Sault de Ste. Marie. Here were no glittering cascades like the Sault, no steep rocks and wooded banks like those of St. François; but a quiet river and broad prairies, broken here and there with groves of oak and chestnut. The village lay back from the shore, {235} sheltered and half hidden by trees, well built, and very populous even for an Indian settlement. It comprised—counting as Indians count—six hundred fires, that is six hundred families, all well stocked with children. The braves numbered fifteen hundred. The fishing was fair, the hunting good. Pelts were bartered for guns, tobacco, hardware, and coveted finery.

Happy to have reached his destination, and conscious that the sands of his life ran fast, Père Marquette lost no time in getting to work. He went from wigwam to wigwam, ascertaining the temper of the savages, their intelligence, and their good-will. He conversed with the elders smoking in small and solemn circles, with the squaws diligently weaving rush mats like the one which had been sent him in the woods, with the young men enacting, in Indian fashion, the roles of idle and industrious apprentices. The industriously disposed fashioned arrowheads (guns were costly and rare), bound them to their shafts with buffalo sinews, and polished their well-oiled bows. The idle gambled like Hogarth's youths, using pebbles or cherry stones instead of coins, and staking all they possessed—including {236} occasionally their docile wives. It was a noteworthy circumstance of village life that the savages seldom quarreled among themselves. Their quarters were close, and they must have been continually in one another's way. We cannot imagine councils without dissension, hunting and courtship without rivalry, games of chance without occasional discord. But these untutored redskins could have given to any nation of Europe a lesson in harmonious relations. Being always threatened with danger from without, they knew the need of unity within.

Having acquainted himself in some measure with his flock, Père Marquette proceeded to give a series of conférences, simple instructions to small groups of braves, usually men of mature years and seeming importance. Finding them well disposed, he took heart and arranged for a great council to be held with all the pomp and ceremony that Indians prize. His preparations were the more lavish because this meeting was meant as a prelude to the work his successor must carry on. He was breaking the ground and sowing the seed. The harvest, he was aware, would be gathered by other hands than his.


A wide, unsheltered prairie was chosen as the site for the council. It was held at Easter time, under clear skies, and with the promise of summer in the mild air. All the rush mats and deerskins the village afforded were spread upon the ground. Pieces of Chinese taffeta, to which were attached four large pictures of the Blessed Virgin, were raised on high, and gazed at with fond delight by their possessor who had brought them from St. François Xavier's, had protected them from the rains and snows of winter, and had saved them from the floods of spring. Now Our Lady smiled down upon a curious and impressive scene. Five hundred sachems sat in a circle around the priest. A thousand young braves stood in a larger circle beyond. The squaws and children pressed as close as they could. The dogs, to their own wonderment, found themselves excluded. Père Marquette spoke to this concourse of the Faith, of its beauty and holiness, of France as the upholder of the Faith, of his own affection for the Illinois which had brought him so far to serve them. He was the simplest of men, but he must have had the art to make his meaning clear and his words persuasive. The Indians {238} listened attentively. Ten gifts he made them, parting with the last of his stores to lend emphasis to this great occasion. Several of the chiefs replied with assurances of welcome and regard. They expressed their desire for the protection of France, their readiness to listen to the preacher, their hope that he would remain and befriend them.

On Easter Sunday Père Marquette said Mass in the open air with the savages gathered about him. He may have been heavy-hearted to think that this field of work so long desired and so full of promise was to be snatched from his failing hands. Doubtless he recalled the two villages of Illinois that he had striven to reach from La Pointe, before the anger of the Sioux had driven him and his flock into exile; and the great village on the banks of the Mississippi, where he and Joliet had met so warm a welcome. This was his third experience with the Indians whom he had proudly called les hommes, and it was destined to be as fleeting as its predecessors. He knew himself to be a dying man. The last remnant of his strength had been expended upon the council. He would {239} never preach again. He greatly desired to confess and receive extreme unction before the end came. He greatly desired to see the face of a fellow priest by his bedside. And with all his heart he longed to plead the cause of the Illinois and of the new mission, which he had christened the Immaculate Conception, before his superiors. It was, he felt sure, worthy of their utmost endeavors.

The chiefs were reluctant to see him go. Again and again he told them of the good-will of France. Again and again he adjured them to remember his words, and to receive with kindness the successor whom he promised to send them. They listened silently to all he said. They appointed a bodyguard to accompany him as far as possible on his way. They gave him as much food as his canoe could carry. They bade him farewell with serious and respectful solicitude.

Père Dablon's account of the homeward journey, taken of course from the reports of the two boatmen, is detailed without being explicit. We know that Michillimackinac was their destination, and that the eastern shore of Lake Michigan {240} was unfamiliar to any of the party. Parkman says it was a savage and desolate land. Père Dablon says nothing whatever about it. The sick priest could give no help in paddling. He lay prostrate in the canoe, saying now and then a few words of encouragement, and rallying his spiritual forces for the end. Every day he murmured the rosary, and every night one of the men read to him the exercise of his order. The care with which they tended him proved his hold upon their hearts. They ardently desired to escape from the solitude that hemmed them in; but, strive as they might, their progress was slow, and death was bound to outstrip them in the race.

On the 18th of May the canoe passed the mouth of a small and rapid stream with sloping banks. On the left shore was a gentle eminence crowned by oaks. Père Marquette asked his companions to land. His hour had come, and the little hill would make a fitting site for his grave. Quickly they beached the canoe, and with the practised dexterity of woodsmen built a shed of saplings, branches, and bark. To this poor shelter they carried the dying man, and laid him on a mat by the side of a freshly lighted fire. When he had {241} rallied a little he gave them a few simple directions for his burial, thanked them for the care and devotion they had shown him ("the charities which they had exercised in his behalf"), and confessed them both—his last priestly function. Then he bade them sleep, saying he would call them, or ring his little mass bell, when he grew worse. Three hours later they heard the summons and hastened to his side. He whispered to one of them to take the crucifix from his neck, and hold it before his eyes. Faintly he breathed familiar words of prayer: "Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus." "Mater Dei, memento mei." When he ceased, and the watchers thought the spirit had fled, one of them cried in a loud voice, "Jesus, Mary." At the sound of those beloved names Père Marquette's eyes opened wide. Distinctly he repeated them: "Jesus, Mary," and died.

It was a fitting end to a life of unostentatious sacrifice. And it was an end crowned, as life had been, by all that makes the value of existence. Père Marquette was a humble toiler in the field, but that which had been given him to do he had accomplished. He had surrendered in {242} youth those natural ties that bind men happily to earth, but he had won affection wherever he went. He died on the bare ground in a savage solitude; but grief watched by his bed, and tears of sorrow fell upon his grave.


Chapter XVI


To the mission of St. Ignace at Michillimackinac the two boatmen, whom we know as Pierre and Jacques, carried the tidings of Père Marquette's death. They brought with them his last fragmentary diary and his few poor possessions, save only his crucifix and his rosary, which were buried with him. They told of the winter in the woods, of the brief sojourn at Kaskaskia, of the great council and the friendliness of the Indians, of the journey homeward, the death in the wilderness, the grave marked by a wooden cross on the shores of Lake Michigan. One of them recounted with tears how the day after the burial he had been smitten with a violent illness which unfitted him for traveling, and how he had knelt by the new-made grave praying for recovery, and reverently pressing a piece of the sod to his {244} laboring breast. Immediately the sickness abated and the pain ceased. Moreover, the natural sorrow which had filled his heart was changed into a joy which did not forsake him during the remainder of his journey. After giving their testimony and saying farewell to St. Ignace, the men disappear forever from the Relations. Their task was done, their tale was told, and nothing remains to us but an ineffaceable record of fidelity.

For two years the body of Père Marquette lay by the lonely lake. The site of the grave was well known to wandering Indians, and little by little legends clustered about it. These were told by savage to savage, and finally by savage to white man. Père Charlevoix repeats them seriously. Parkman says that in 1847 an old Algonquin squaw remembered to have heard in her childhood how the waters of the little river rose and encircled the mound, making it an islet; and how the boatmen were fed miraculously in the wilderness, having been promised by the priest that they should never want.

In 1677 a party of Kiskakon Indians, a feeble tribe allied to the Ottawas, was hunting on the shores of Lake Michigan. Some of them had been {245} instructed by Père Marquette when he was toiling in the melancholy mission of St. Esprit; and he had left, according to his wont, an ineffaceable impression upon their minds. They saw the wooden cross which marked their friend's grave, and they resolved to carry his bones away from this desolate spot, and restore them to his countrymen at St. Ignace. When the spring came this resolution was fulfilled. The Indians disinterred the body, cleansed the bones according to their custom, dried them carefully in the sun, packed them in a rude box of birch bark, and started on their journey to Michillimackinac. Other canoes joined the little fleet. A common purpose drew the savages together. Even a few Iroquois added their numbers; and on the 8th of June the missionaries of St. Ignace saw a procession of thirty canoes moving slowly and in orderly fashion toward their "island of note" at the junction of the two lakes.

Père Henri Nouvelle and Père Philippe Pierçon, who were in charge of the mission, embarked in a canoe and went out to meet their visitors. Word had reached them of the Indians' purpose, and they carefully questioned the Kiskakons {246} to make sure that they really had the remains of Père Marquette in their keeping. Convinced on this point, they intoned the De Profundis, and led the procession to the shore, which was lined with waiting savages. The birch-bark casket was carried into the log chapel, and lay there, covered with a pall, for twenty-four hours. Then, after a requiem mass had been sung, it was buried beneath the chapel floor. Indians came in numbers to pray by the grave, sure that the kind priest would never forget them and never refuse his aid.

Two years after the interment, La Salle's schooner, the Griffin, sailed into the quiet port of St. Ignace, and her commander—a splendid figure in his scarlet cloak—knelt devoutly by the missionary's tomb. A very different visitor this from anyone the mission had ever received before. His ship, strongly if clumsily built, carried five small cannon which roared a most disconcerting and terrifying salute. The carved monster at her prow had the air of an angry manitou. To Indian eyes this "floating fort" was a marvel of marvels. They swarmed about her in their canoes, wondering, admiring, fearing, and {247} devoutly wishing her elsewhere. Little they dreamed that she was destined to be shorter lived than the frailest of the frail barks that danced on the quiet waters, and that her disappearance would always remain a mystery. Laden with furs she was sent by La Salle to Niagara, and was never heard of again. Her loss was one of the heaviest blows of his brave and calamitous life. He believed that she was treacherously sunk by her own crew, who stole her cargo; and this belief was strengthened by a story that reached him of white men carrying valuable furs who had been plundered and killed by nomadic savages in the country of the Sioux. The evidence was inconclusive, but the tragedy was one of everyday occurrence. It was at no time an easy matter to convey stolen goods over the Canadian wilds.

In 1700 the St. Ignace chapel was burned down. Frontenac the great had died two years before, and the Iroquois, who had respected and feared him, permitted themselves to grow arrogant when the weight of his authority and the certainty of his reprisals no longer dominated their councils. Père Engelran, then head of the Michillimackinac mission, was an adroit {248} peace-maker who had been employed several times on difficult and dangerous errands. Now the new governor, Callières, sent him to persuade the scattered tribes of the North to come to the council at Montreal, and to consent to an exchange of captives. In this he was eminently successful (save that the Iroquois failed to keep any of the promises they made), and the council was attended by more than thirteen hundred savages, representing thirty-one tribes. Callières addressed them in French, and the Jesuit interpreters repeated his words in as many languages as they knew. The presentation of thirty-one belts of wampum was followed by many peaceful speeches and by much secret disagreement; by elaborate ceremonies, by smoking, feasting, and a smothered sense of discontent. "Thus," says the French chronicler, La Pothérie, "were the labors of Count Frontenac brought to a happy consummation." He thought so, doubtless; but the authority of Frontenac was missing. No one else could compel the Iroquois to play a fair game.

When Père Engelran returned to Michillimackinac, he found his chapel in ruins, and set himself to build a new and larger one on a {249} different site. Père Marquette's bones were left undisturbed; and as the years went by, and the mission grew into a great trading station, their whereabouts was forgotten. Men had as little thought of the priest as of the trader who had opened for them the waters of the Mississippi. It took a more leisurely generation to call to mind the importance of the service they had rendered. As the West expanded, and cities sprang up in the wilderness they had traversed, the names of Marquette and Joliet became familiar words to thousands of Americans. Finally, in 1877 it occurred to the rector of St. Ignace to search under the site of the old log chapel for the missionary's remains. He found some small fragments of bone which had been interred there two hundred years before. Part of these relics are now preserved in the church of St. Ignace, and part in the Marquette Jesuit College of Milwaukee.

The character of Père Marquette is so distinctly outlined in his diary, in the records of his fellow missionaries, and in the few salient events of his life, that we see him as clearly as if we knew a great deal instead of very little about him. {250} Simple, sincere, ardent, and sanguine, he reached by virtue of sympathy the understanding that older and more astute men gain by experience. He was able to throw himself into the lives of others, see with their eyes, hear with their ears, feel with their hearts. "He was a Frenchman with the French," wrote Père Dablon, "a Huron with the Hurons, an Algonquin with the Algonquins. He disclosed his mind with childlike candor to his superiors, and he was open and ingenuous in his dealings with all men." His singular tranquillity was the fruit of his confidence in God. "I have no fear and no anxiety," he wrote from La Pointe. "One of two things must happen. Either God will adjudge me a coward, or He will give me a share in His cross, which I have not yet carried since I came to this land. I hold myself surrendered to His will."

The line, "His cross, which I have not yet carried," written in the beginning of the missionary's career, is a little like the line, "We also lived very pleasantly," written at its close. It took a good deal to make Père Marquette feel that he was having a bad time. Yet the outward circumstances of his brave and toilsome existence {251} were for the most part frankly unendurable. Twenty-three years ago a cheerful American author published in Harper's Magazine a paper entitled "The Pleasant Life of Père Marquette." I read that paper to learn what the word "pleasant" implied, and found that the writer was not referring to inward grace or to outward accomplishment. He seemed to think that two hundred and fifty years ago a missionary's days and nights might be agreeably spent among the savages of North America, and that the Canadian woods were a little like the forest of Arden:

Under the greenwood tree
Who loves to lie with me,
And tune his merry note
Unto the sweet bird's throat?

That Père Marquette died at thirty-eight from exposure and bad food, and that he suffered greatly for two years before he died, are facts worthy of consideration. It is the noble privilege of the pioneer to make light of hardships (otherwise there would have been no pioneers); but we who love comfort and worship luxury are not warranted in sharing this point of view.

The Harper article was illustrated with {252} drawings of early maps which needed only a little elucidation to make them deeply interesting. All the reproductions of Père Marquette's map of the Mississippi differ from one another. Sometimes the river staggers along, a faint and wavering, line. Sometimes, as in Thévenot's amended map, it runs straight as a poker. Sometimes a couple of lakes are dimly outlined on a scale that suggests immensity. A charming map of Michillimackinac, the work of an unknown hand, has rows of wigwams, and a neat little fishing fleet of canoes inscribed "La Pêche du Poisson Blanc." This follows the old ingenious and instructive method of map making. It needs only the words "brumeuse," "ténèbres," "froidure," to complete the information which adventurous voyagers required.

The good-will which Père Marquette encountered wherever he went, the faithful service given him, the friendships that cheered him on his way, and the ineffable serenity that brooded over his last hours—these things were not in accord with the usual fate of explorers. For the most part they did not deserve them, but when they did, fortune too often ruled adversely. The {253} great and cruel Spaniards reaped the harvest of hate that they sowed; but the Frenchman, La Salle, was defeated by circumstance. Like Champlain he dreamed of a passage through the "Vermilion Sea" to the coveted coast of China. Like Champlain he was a superb adventurer, meeting the unknown with joyful defiance, and the known with tried and true courage. Like Champlain he was a ready fighter and an indifferent trader. Both men added to the power and prestige of France; but from the point of view of the French Treasury both men were unsatisfactory.

By the side of these makers of history Père Marquette's place in American annals is small and well defined. His name is indelibly associated with La Salle's because the Mississippi was for both the river of fate. If to the priest and to Joliet belong the glory of discovering its northern waters, La Salle took up the perilous voyage at the point where they turned back, and followed it to the sea. The Arkansas and the Natchez Indians befriended him, a circumstance which Père Membré, who was his companion for many months, attributed to his tactful and engaging {254} manner with savages. This Récollet missionary was a firm friend, an apt writer, and an all too venturesome hunter. His naïve amazement that such fearsome creatures as alligators should be hatched from eggs like ducklings was equalled by his unwise contempt for wounded buffaloes. He gave one of them a careless poke with the butt of his gun, and the justly incensed animal delayed dying long enough to knock him down and trample upon him so vigorously that he was three months recovering from his injuries.

The story of La Salle's colony at Starved Rock, of La Barre's stupid and jealous hostility, of the visit to France and the generous help accorded by Louis XIV (who knew a man when he saw one), of the unhappy quarrel with Beaujeu, the commander of the little fleet, of the storms that swept the Gulf of Mexico, and the failure to find the mouth of the Mississippi—these things are matters of history. From the day that La Salle landed at Matagorda Bay until the shameful moment when he was ambushed and shot by two of his own sailors, disaster followed disaster with cruel monotony. What his proud and sensitive spirit must have endured in those months no one {255} knows; but we have the word of Joutel, the engineer and an honest man, that his heart was high and his outward calm unbroken. His death was unavenged, no steps being taken to punish his assassins beyond an order for their arrest should they return to Canada to be arrested, which they were not in the least likely to do. Indeed, two of the six were promptly murdered by their accomplices. It is as bloody and brutal a tale as any that pioneer annals have to tell.

Père Charlevoix, who can find no praise keen enough for La Salle's heroic qualities, his resolution, resourcefulness, and endurance, laments that he should have lacked one virtue essential to the adventurer, the art of inspiring confidence in his associates. No man is so wise that he can afford always to reject advice, and no man is so self-sufficing that he can afford always to dispense with affection. La Salle was "juste mais pas bon." If, as Père Membré asserts, he showed tact in dealing with savages, he consistently refused in his intercourse with white men to soften the harsh contacts of life. Haughty and autocratic, he brooked no criticism of his plans and no opposition to his will. He was but forty-four when he {256} died, and he had crowded into a few years the work of a dozen lifetimes. "To estimate aright the marvels of his patient fortitude," says Parkman, "one must follow his track through the vast scene of his interminable journeyings—thousands of weary miles of forest, marsh, and river, where again and again, in the bitterness of baffled striving, the untiring pilgrim pushed onward toward the goal which he was never to attain. America owes him an enduring memory; for in this masculine figure she sees the pioneer who guided her to the possession of her richest inheritance."

America has cherished the memories and perpetuated the names of all her pioneers. To these men of incarnate energy and will she owes the fullness and keenness, no less than the subjugating luxuries, of modern life. They awaken our amazed regard, they shame our puny energies:

A short life in the saddle, Lord,
            Not long life by the fire.

was their inspiring choice. The magic quality of physical danger which "doubles the strength of the strong, the craft of the cunning, the nobility {257} of the noble," made them the wonder-workers of the wilderness. Layman as well as priest mocked at hardships. Priest as well as layman courted wild hazards. Père Brébeuf and Père Jogues were warned to fly before the hostile Iroquois; but they found that path impossible. They were drawn to peril as we are drawn to safety, for it was in the teeth of peril that souls were to be saved. Père Marquette, who had always before his eyes the life and death of St. François Xavier, conceived that, by comparison with his great exemplar, his own days were ignominiously safe, and at least comparatively comfortable. Yet to him also privation was a privilege and danger a lodestar. His life cannot be reasonably called a pleasant one; but perhaps it came as near to being happy as it is in the nature of human life to be.


Chapter XVII


Exception has been taken to the use of the word "journal" as applied to Père Marquette's account of the Mississippi expedition. It has been pointed out that the narrative is not, meticulously speaking, a diary; the entries are not dated properly and consecutively; we are left, not merely in doubt, but in ignorance, as to the exact days on which many of the events occurred. The most that can be claimed for it is that it presents a continuous report, expanded from such rough notes as could be jotted down day by day on the difficult and hazardous voyage which presented few opportunities for tranquil composition. It is on this understanding that what is really a chronicle—though written sometimes in the present tense—has been alluded to by historians as a journal; and it is on this understanding that the word journal is used by Edna Kenton in editing {259} The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, published in 1925. The admirable arrangement of this volume, the clearness of the type and the thoroughness of the indexing, make it as agreeable as it is serviceable to the student. Miss Kenton points out in her introduction that most of the documents she presents were written under circumstances which precluded finish or dignity of style. She marvels that such direct, vivid, and illuminating pages should have been penned "amid a chaos of distractions."

More revolutionary, however, than all the protests urged against the use of the word "journal," the use of the word "discovery," and the use of the word "leader," is the theory advanced by the Reverend Francis Steck that Père Marquette never wrote the narrative published under his name. The only evidence that can be adduced in support of this theory is the undoubted fact that no manuscript of the so-called journal in the priest's handwriting is known to exist. But if all authorship were denied on such ground, what masses of prose and verse, ascribed confidently to writers dead and gone this many a year, would stand orphaned before the world. Father Steck's {260} other arguments are unconvincing. He points out that the title of the report sent to France by Père Dablon, and published by Thévenot in 1681, reads: Narrative of the Voyages and Discoveries of Father James Marquette of the Society of Jesus, in the year 1673, and the following, and not "Narrative written by Father James Marquette," which would have been conclusive. But as the priest speaks of himself throughout its pages in the first person—"Monsieur Joliet and I held another council to deliberate upon what we should do." "I told the people of the Folle-Avoine of my design to go and discover those remote nations that I might teach them the Mysteries of our holy Religion"—there can have been no doubt in the minds of Thévenot or of his public as to the authorship of the journal.

The internal evidence cited by Father Steck is even less conclusive. He does not, for example, think that Père Marquette would have likened the bone of a fish to a woman's busk. The comparison appears to him an unseemly one. Nor does he think that the priest would have written of the calumet dance: "The slow and measured steps, the rhythmic sound of the voices and {261} drums, might pass for a fine opening of a ballet in France." What should a pious missionary know of French ballets? Very little, evidently, if he thought the solemn Indian rite resembled one. But is the allusion to a ballet or a busk (neither of them things intrinsically evil) so disconcerting as to cast doubt upon the authenticity of a manuscript? Heaven forbid that I should accuse Père Marquette—of all men who ever walked the earth—of indecorum! But it does seem to me that, after seven years' face to face acquaintance with the crude lusts of savagery, a priest might cease to be mincing in his speech, might even come to think of busks and ballets as harmless appurtenances of civilization.

Father Steck's hypothesis would be incomplete if he did not find an author for the journal which he denies to Père Marquette. "The function of historical criticism," he admits, "is not only to tear down, but also to build up." And, having torn down the missionary, he proceeds to build up in his place the ever serviceable Joliet. His supposition briefly stated is this. Père Marquette never kept a diary or wrote a report of the expedition. Although a faithful {262} correspondent when there was nothing in particular to relate, he elected to be silent when he knew that he would be called on to recount the one important adventure of his life. Joliet, on the other hand, wrote two reports, one of which he carried with him on his disastrous journey to Montreal, and the other he left in Père Marquette's keeping at Green Bay. After the shipwreck in the La Chine rapids, Père Dablon wrote to Green Bay asking for the missionary's journal to supply the needed information. Père Marquette was "disconcerted," as well he might be, because he had kept no journal; but he sent in its place the copy of Joliet's report with a few added notes of his own. Père Dablon, conceiving the interests of his order to be of greater worth than his honesty as a priest or his honor as a man, rewrote the narrative under Père Marquette's name, and sent it under Père Marquette's name to Paris. As a consequence it was published in 1681 as Père Marquette's journal, and has been accepted as Père Marquette's journal ever since.

It is an ingenious theory, but it leaves a good deal unexplained. Why did Joliet write to Frontenac that, having lost two men and his box {263} of papers, nothing remained to him but his life and an ardent desire to employ it in any service the governor might direct, when what did remain was a perfectly good copy of the lost documents? Why did he not tell Frontenac that there was this safe and sound copy which—the waterways being open—could have been easily procured from Green Bay? Why did he say nothing about it when he wrote, at Frontenac's request, his imperfect recollections of the expedition? Why did he say nothing about it when he wrote on the 10th of October, 1674, to Monseigneur de Laval: "Only for the shipwreck, Your Grace should have a curious relation. Nothing, however, was left but life." Finally, why did Père Marquette begin the unfinished journal of his last voyage with a memorandum stating that he had received orders to proceed to the mission of La Conception among the Illinois, and that, in compliance with his superior's request, he had sent him "copies of my journal concerning the Mississippi river." And why, when the journal was published by Thévenot, did not Joliet expose the fraud, and claim the manuscript as his own?

Mr. Andrew Lang, in one of his critical {264} papers, alludes to the plays "fondly attributed to Shakespeare by his contemporaries." It does present a certain basis for belief. The journal fondly attributed to Père Marquette by his contemporaries, and by successive generations of readers, remains his journal unless some conclusive evidence of another hand be presented to the world. The question of leadership is of no importance. The question of discovery or rediscovery is of no importance. The question of authorship is of supreme importance, involving, as it does, the truthfulness of Père Marquette, the honesty of Père Dablon, and the common sense of Joliet. It is an easy matter to accuse a man who has been dead for several centuries of fraud, but it is a sorry thing to do on the strength of a conjecture. It is an easy thing to say that a man did not write a work attributed to him, but it is doubtful wisdom to say it unless there be proof to offer. The noble tradition of profound research, lucid thinking, and balanced accuracy which is the scholar's heritage gives to speculation its place in the free world of thought, but accepts no conclusions which are not based upon evidence.


Chapter XVIII


The earliest mention of the Illinois in Père Marquette's letters occurs when he was stationed at the mission of La Pointe, on Chequamegon Bay. They had not then captured his heart and fancy; but he had encountered some hunters of the tribe who seemed to be "of a tolerably good disposition," and he had begun to study their language. The one thing definite and unusual that he had to say about them was that they "kept their word inviolate."

I have already pointed out that missionaries and traders were, as a rule, less biased in favor of these intelligent Indians than was Père Marquette. La Salle placed little confidence in their friendship; but it was La Salle's unhappy fate to be forever disappointed in his friends. Père Charlevoix wrote about them with ill-concealed {266} irritation. What annoyed him was that they could not be brought to see their own shortcomings, in which respect they were remarkably like all civilized nations to-day. He enumerated their many bad qualities—fickleness, treachery, deceit, thievishness, brutality, and gluttony. He was convinced that other tribes disliked and despised them. But were they humbled or cast down on that account? Not a whit! They were "as haughty and self-complacent" as if they had been the model Indians of North America. But—and it is the biggest "but" on record in these pages—once converted to Christianity, they mended their ways and never relapsed into heathenism; and once allies of France, they never went over to her foes.

So was Père Marquette justified in his trust. Père Charlevoix admitted that the Illinois were "the only savages that never sought peace with their enemies to our prejudice." This loyalty was all the more praiseworthy because it was unusual. The Indians pursued as a rule a wavering and childish policy in their relations with the warring white men. They were capricious foes and uneasy friends, as troublesome often in one role {267} as in the other. But the Illinois stood firm in their allegiance, realizing intelligently that France was their only bulwark against the Iroquois. In return the French did all in their power to protect them. The indomitable Henri de Tonty, bravest and wiliest of fighters, received a grievous wound at the hands of an Iroquois warrior while pleading their cause in the enemy's camp. Parkman gives a ghastly account of La Salle nearing the Mississippi in 1680, and finding in a trampled meadow the half-consumed bodies of Illinois squaws bound to stakes, and all the other hideous tokens of a prolonged orgy of torture. Scattered members of the tribe joined his colony at Starved Rock in 1682, placing themselves gladly under his protection. It is said that this ill-omened spot owed its name to a band of Illinois braves who took refuge on its summit from the encircling Pottawattamies, and who perished there of starvation rather than yield to their foes.

One cause of good-will between the French and these faithful allies was the fact that a number of Canadian settlers married women of the tribe, finding them "intelligent and tractable," {268} the latter quality induced no doubt by the discipline to which they had been subjected. When in 1725 it was thought advisable to send a small party of friendly warriors to France, the Illinois chief, Chikagou, was one of the number chosen. These splendid "savages of the Mississippi" were much admired and fêted in Paris, and went back laden with gifts. The Duchess d'Orléans presented Chikagou with a handsome snuffbox, which unserviceable cadeau was cherished by the urbane chief as his most precious possession. He refused to part with it to would-be buyers, even for tobacco. "An unusual circumstance among Indians," comments one of the missionaries. "For the most part, they quickly tire of what they have, and passionately desire what they see but do not possess." One more proof—if proof were needed—of the universal sameness of mankind.

In still another regard the Illinois chief resembled the travelled gentleman of to-day. He wanted naturally to tell his people of the wonders he had seen; of the height of the French houses, five cabins piled one on top of another until they reached the summit of the tallest tree; of the {269} multitude of people in the streets, as numerous as blades of grass on the prairies or mosquitoes in the woods; of the strange huts made of leather and drawn by horses in which men and women went on journeys; of the French king's palace at Versailles. What, one wonders, could a North American Indian have thought, or said, of Versailles! It would have been an unalloyed pleasure for poor Chikagou to talk of these things if only his hearers could have been brought to credit them; but this they refused to do. They said simply that they did not believe in such marvels, and went their scornful way.

It was after the Louisiana massacre in 1730 (two hundred French settlers killed by the Natchez Indians, aided and abetted by the supposedly friendly Yazous) that the fidelity of the Illinois was tested and stood the test. The Tchikachas, always restless and hostile, thought this a good time to seduce them from their fealty; but the Illinois, wise as well as staunch, refused all proposals, and sent a delegation to New Orleans to express their grief at the massacre, and their unbroken loyalty to France. Chikagou accompanied this delegation. He brought with {270} him two calumets, differently decorated, which he laid on a mat of deerskin edged with porcupine quills. "Here," he said, "are two messages, one of religion, and one of peace or war as you shall determine.... We have come a great distance to weep with you for the death of the French, and to offer our warriors to strike those hostile nations whom you may wish to designate. You have but to speak. We are of the prayer. Grant then your protection to us and to our black-robes."

It was a triumphant hour for the spirit of the little dead missionary lying in his forgotten grave at St. Ignace.

If there still survive Americans who remember reading "Hiawatha" when they were young, they may have recognized in the flowery speech of the Illinois chief to Père Marquette and Joliet the words of welcome which Longfellow put into the mouth of his hero when the first priest, "With the cross upon his bosom," came drifting to the shore. Shea's Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi Valley, which was published three years before "Hiawatha," contains the full text of Père Marquette's journal in French and {271} in English. With this text Longfellow was evidently familiar. The superb extravagance of the chief's remarks seemed to him natural and reasonable in the mouth of a friendly savage, and he turned them into the balanced singsong of his verse:

Then the joyous Hiawatha
Cried aloud and spoke in this wise:
    "Never bloomed the earth so gayly,
Never shone the sun so brightly
As to-day they shine and blossom,
When you come so far to see us.
Never was our lake so tranquil,
Nor so free from rocks and sand-bars;
For your birch canoe in passing
Has removed both rock and sand-bar.
    Never before had our tobacco
Such a sweet and pleasant flavor,
Never the broad leaves of our corn-fields
Were so beautiful to look on,
As they seem to us this morning,
When you come so far to see us."

It may be cynically observed that the warmth of Hiawatha's greeting is robbed of its personal flavor by the fact that he himself was departing at once from the land to which he so cordially {272} welcomed the stranger. He bequeathed the black-robe as a blessing to his people; but he took himself as fast and as far as he could from the encroachments of civilization. Nevertheless, it is pleasant to record that the name of Père Marquette, who is briefly mentioned in a note to "Hiawatha," is indelibly associated with a poem which has been read for many years, translated into many tongues, and accepted by many Americans as an epic of Indian life and of the noblest Indian traditions.

The survival of such traditions was attested over and over again by missionaries who could not have cherished many illusions about the savages they knew so well; but who were, nevertheless, as I have pointed out, their most generous critics. When the romance with which poets and novelists had encircled the red man faded in the cold north light of history, it became the fashion, and has remained the fashion, to strip him bare of every vestige of goodness. The list of his misdeeds is naturally a long one. I find an English biographer, Mr. F. J. Huddleston, author of Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne, quoting with approval the sweeping charges of Mr. J. W. Steele, {273} and declaring them applicable to every generation of North American Indians:

"Brave only in superior numbers or in ambush, honest only in being a consummate hypocrite, merry only at the sight of suffering inflicted by his own hand, friendly only through cunning, and hospitable never; above all sublimely mendacious and a liar always, the Indian, as he really is to those who, unfortunately, know him, seems poor material out of which to manufacture a hero, or frame a romance. The one redeeming fact upon his record is that he has never been tamed and never been a servant. Neither has the hyena."

It is always easier to be calumniatory than discriminating; but even allowing for the deterioration caused by intercourse with white men, this picture seems a trifle overdrawn. The Indians were certainly cruel, as are all savage people. They were liars, as are most people, savage and civilized. They were friendly to their friends, as are all the people of the world. But to deny them hospitality and courage is to run counter to evidence. Of course they fought from ambush when they could do so. Fighting was not for them {274} anything resembling cricket. It was not the thin red line of courage. It was a grim, unpitying affair, carrying infinite possibilities of disaster. They loved it because they had the instinct of untutored men; but they would not have loved it if they had not possessed some quality of courage. The circumstances under which they fought made them in their simple fashion strategists; and Mr. Huddleston himself admits that strategy, when practised by savages, is commonly spoken of as treacherous.

Unhappily for the Indian's reputation, the one offense of which he was guiltless was authorship. The white man did all the telling. We know about his side of the question; but for the red man's side we depend upon an occasional speech (probably misquoted) in council. If the native American could have penned year by year the annals of his people since the first coming of the European, what reading it would have made even for Mr. Steele! The history of the Cherokee Indians in Georgia (one instance out of many) is tragic with injustice. The partition of their land—granted them by the federal government—was like the partition of Poland on a pitifully {275} small scale. Yet John Marshall was their only friend, and he was powerless to help them.

Mr. Huddleston says that Mr. Steele is "a great authority on Indians," but so were the Jesuits who lived and died among them, and whose records are as free from sentiment as from hostility. It would not have been easy to wax sentimental over savages whose personal habits were so remarkably offensive to the eyes, ears, and noses of the civilized. Yet the missionaries, after years of dreadfully close contact, admitted over and over again the existence of qualities which compelled their admiration. Père Marquette, indeed, had always a friendly word to say for his charges; but Père Marquette was fairly fortunate in his experiences, and very fortunate in his temper and disposition. Père Brébeuf not only lived among Indians, but met his death at their hands. His voice deserves a hearing.

"The savages," he writes in the Relations, "are liars, thieves, pertinacious beggars, and inordinately lazy. Yet they understand how to cement union among themselves. On their return from fishing, hunting, and trading, they exchange gifts. If one has had better luck than his {276} neighbors, he spreads a generous feast. Their hospitality is without bounds. They never close their doors upon a stranger, and, having once received him into their cabins, they share with him whatever they chance to have. Their patience in poverty, famine, and sickness is beyond understanding. I have seen this year whole villages reduced to a small daily portion of sagamité; yet never an irritable action, and never a word of complaint."

This is enough. If there is one thing more than another which our superb civilization understands it is the art of complaining. The crumpled rose leaf has become more than the hardiest body can endure. Early in the present century, Henry Adams, who could complain with the best of us, wrote in bitterness of spirit: "Prosperity never before imagined, power never yet wielded by man, speed never reached by anything but a meteor, had made the world irritable, nervous, querulous, unreasonable, and afraid."

This was in 1905. In less than a quarter of a century we have grown infinitely more prosperous and infinitely more powerful. We have learned what speed really is. Mr. Adams did not {277} know the meaning of the word. Are we now even-tempered, self-controlled, tolerant, reasonable, and fearless? Has the eternal push, the coercive drive which spins us on our way made us so nobly receptive to those qualities which the best minds have bequeathed to the highest civilizations that—seen from our lofty eminence—the savage and the hyena are one? To the modern man who is intelligent enough to be modest it would seem that the Indian who accepted without useless complaint what Santayana calls "the brutal, innocent injustice of nature," had learned at least part of the law of life, and was qualified to teach at least one lesson to the nations which held him in scorn.


Chapter XIX


When Bancroft said of Père Marquette: "The people of the West will build his monument," he could have had no conception of the scale on which his prophecy was to be fulfilled. Literally and figuratively the people of the West have built that monument over and over again, and they are building it still. In 1887 the state of Wisconsin was authorized to place a statue of the explorer in the Hall of Fame in Washington. The work was done and well done by an Italian sculptor, Signor Trentanove. A bronze replica was erected in the town of Marquette, Michigan. A few years ago Chicago honored Père Marquette with an imposing monument, the work of Mr. Hermon A. MacNeil. It represents the missionary with upraised cross and outstretched arms, as though in the act of preaching. On one side of him stands the rugged figure of Joliet; on the {279} other a North American Indian carrying heavy burdens. The bronze reliefs which embellish the Marquette Building in Chicago, and which tell the tale of the discovery of the upper waters of the Mississippi, are also the work of Mr. MacNeil. They have a highly decorative quality, and serve to keep the memory of the expedition and of its glorious results before the minds of men.

If all these representations appear a little dramatic, a little florid and robust, it is because no one could hope to reproduce in bronze or marble, or in the pages of any narrative, the simplicity which characterized the Mississippi voyage, the meagerness of its accessories, the directness of its procedure, the unassuming behavior of its leaders. Seven men in two birch-bark canoes traveled twenty-five hundred miles in unknown waters and amid unknown lands, with no accurate knowledge of their course, and no outfit that would be considered an outfit in these days. Of all the tributes that have been paid to Père Marquette, the most striking to my mind is the giving of his name to a railway system in Michigan. The mere sight of this road's time tables, ornamented with a picture of a {280} particularly snorty and smoke-blowing engine, makes one think anew of the two little boats threading their slow and difficult way through the dangerous currents of the Mississippi. Had the priest been granted a prophetic vision of this iron monster, it could not have amazed him more than the hearing of his own name on travelers' lips. Yet one of the clearest images which Mr. Guedalla carried away with him from the West, and inserted into that kaleidoscope medley of impressions and reflections which he calls Conquistador, is the picture of a "big friendly Père Marquette train filling the entire perspective, as its tall polished sides took the level light of a winter afternoon." How little perspective a small battered canoe would have filled! The "Père Marquette Railway Company"! What strange combinations and contrasts our speeding world presents!

Two counties, five towns and villages, and one river bear the missionary's name. They are scattered through five states. The river is a little one, as American rivers go, and the villages have space and time for spreading. But the city of Marquette in Michigan combines the allurements {281} of a summer resort with big docks on the south shore of Lake Superior, and a spirited export of iron ore. In Milwaukee the Marquette University plays an important role, not only in the education of youth, but in social service, and the "welfare" projects that keep a busy city humming. It gives every year a Certificate of Distinctive Civic Service to the man or woman who has most benefited the community; and this honor, though carrying with it no medal, no money, and no notoriety, is highly prized by its recipient.

Finally, there seems to be an increasing desire to erect mementoes on the sites sacred to Père Marquette's last journey and last hours. After the handful of bones had been disinterred from their grave at St. Ignace, a marble monument—pronounced tasteless by most visitors—was reared over the spot where they had lain. This, however, is far from satisfactory to Marquette University, which has resolved to build a more imposing memorial on the shore of Lake Michigan. The exact locality of Père Marquette's grave was long a matter of dispute, being the kind of thing which people dispute about; but it {282} now seems tolerably certain that the priest died and was buried near the present city of Ludington on the eastern shore of the lake. Here will be erected a granite shaft overhanging the expanse of water upon which his tired eyes rested day after day as the little boat bore him to his appointed grave.

If Joliet has fewer monuments and no railway system to his credit, his name is just as familiar to our generation. It is borne by half-a-dozen towns and villages in the United States and in Canada, and by at least one city progressive enough to provide reading matter for earnest Americans. The capital of Will County, Illinois, and only thirty-seven miles from Chicago, Joliet manufactures everything from tin plates to steel. Its limestone is among the best of limestones, its prison is one of the handsomest in the state, and more barbed wire (horrid stuff!) is made there than anywhere else in the country. It has articles written about it in serious periodicals: "Joliet Recognizes its Boy Problem"; "History and Social Science Curriculum in the Joliet Township High School"; "Practical Religion in Joliet: Church Sponsors Athletic Association." {283} It has enlightened newspapers that lay the blame for all youthful misconduct upon the city's shoulders. It has a "Greater Joliet Recreational Bureau," which sees to it that boys and girls are taught "life recreational activities," with efficiency scores and efficiency prizes. It is so modern and up-to-date that even to read about its educational system makes one's own serenely neglected childhood appear as remote as the childhood of little Louis Joliet playing robustly in the snowdrifts of Quebec.

It is typical of the hold that Père Marquette has taken upon the popular mind that when in June, 1926, the sumptuous "Red Special" carried the bishops and cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church to the great congress in Chicago, more than one newspaper and periodical seized the occasion to harken back to the first white man's dwelling raised on the city's site—the forlorn cabin which sheltered the missionary and his two boatmen in the winter of 1675. The contrast between the bare-legged and bedraggled fisherman who let down his nets in the Lake of Gennesaret, and the Roman basilica which bears that fisherman's name, is no sharper than the {284} contrast between the shabby priest in his patched and stained cassock saying mass in a windowless, chimneyless hut, and the pomp and splendor which characterized the Chicago ceremonies. A cross marks the spot where those early masses were said, and where the long grim winter passed "very pleasantly" for the sick man to whom spring was bringing a last release.

Just as indicative of the tenacity with which we bear in mind our early adventurers was the sending of American and French boys (winners of oratorical contests on "The French Pioneers of America") into the far Northwest to follow the trail of those brave and hardy men. Jean Nicollet, interpreter and peacemaker, who lived eight years among the Algonquins; Radisson and Groseilliers, who may have looked unwittingly upon the Mississippi; Père Allouez, who explored the shores of Lake Superior; La Salle the great; Tonty of the iron hand; Père Marquette and Joliet, discoverers of the unknown river; the names of these men, and of many more, were beacon lights to the boys who read with delight of their adventures, and who were made to understand the nature of the debt we owe them.


M. André Maurois, who has told us—and shown us—how to write biographies, says that in every life there is a hidden rhythm. The biographer's business is to discover this mysterious music, and to note its correspondence with outward circumstances, its response to any influence, seen or felt, which strikes an impelling note:

Surely whoever speaks to me in the right voice, him or her
        I shall follow,
As the water follows the moon, silently, with fluid footsteps,
        anywhere around the globe.

M. Maurois's conception of this command and submission goes deeper than do Walt Whitman's beautiful lines. He sees natural, spiritual, and social forces play their part in coercing the human soul. Throughout Shelley's life, for example, there is the silver sheen, the permeating power of water, which allures, threatens, provokes, and finally prevails, freeing Ariel from bondage.

In the annals of Père Marquette, short and simple as those of the poor, the rhythm of life beats evenly and with uniform steadiness. It is true that only a few years of this life are exposed to our gaze. Of his childhood and youth we know {286} nothing. Of his early manhood in the Jesuits' schools of France we know nothing. Of his first missionary labors in Canada we have the imperfect record of a few letters which grow longer and more detailed as the work expands. Of the two years into which were crowded his one great adventure, his one supreme triumph, his one defeated desire, and his final surrender, we know enough to satisfy us. The letters, the narrative of the Mississippi voyage, and the last journal are very much alike. None of them reveal the grace of authorship. None of them show the faintest trace of humor. The North American woods were better set for tragic than for comic happenings; but here as elsewhere there were contrasts and absurdities at which other missionaries were only too glad to laugh. In fact, the need of laughter, and consequently the habit of laughter, deepens with deepening discomfort and danger. The humor of the trenches, when the world was at war, amazed those only who were unacquainted with this salutary truth.

The letters, the narrative, and the journal of Père Marquette are the work of an eager, yet sedate and scholarly man, patiently and minutely {287} observant, gentle with the gentleness of understanding, wise with the wisdom of sobriety. Above and beyond all, they are balanced and composed. They show a soul at peace with itself because of its unquestioning acceptance of God's will. This docility corresponded with the docility of nature, so that his life's rhythm was one with the rhythm of the forests that engulfed him and the vast river that bore him to his fate. It also lifted him to the heights of pagan, as well as of Christian, philosophy. Père Marquette may never have read Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius; yet both these masters would have recognized their pupil. The sweet surrender of the soul which made Epictetus say, "My impulses are one with God's; my will is one with his," was the keynote of the Christian priest's serenity. And day by day he followed unconsciously the counsel in which Marcus Aurelius sums up the whole worth and contentment of living: "Take pleasure in one thing and rest in it, in passing from one act to another, thinking of God."



Abelard, Pierre, 21.

Adams, Henry, 276.

Addison, Joseph, 233.

Akenside, Mark, 145.

Algonquins, Indian tribe, 27, 30, 38, 46, 75, 90, 100, 146; belief in suppressed desires, 149; 155, 165, 221, 230, 231, 244, 250, 284.

Allouez, Claude Jean, Jesuit missionary, 17, 72, 73, 90, 117, 118, 122, 125, 221, 284.

André, Louis, Jesuit missionary, 35.

Anian, mythical strait of, 15.

Anselm, Saint, 21.

Arden, forest of, 251.

Ariel, 285.

Arkansas, Indian tribe, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 253.

Arkansas, river, 176, 191, 194, 211.

Atahualpa, Inca of Peru, 10.

Aztecs, 176.

Balboa, Vasco Nuñez de, discoverer of Pacific Ocean, 4.

Bancroft, George, historian, 278.

Bazire, Charles, receiver general of revenues, Quebec, 191.

Beaujeu, commander of French ship, 254.

Beavers, master builders, 60.

Bissot, Claire, married to Joliet, 194.

Black Prince, 21.

Bolton, Captain, adventurer, 16.

Borneo, Head-hunters of, 145.

Buffaloes, description of, 133, 134.

Brébeuf, Jean de, Jesuit missionary, 28, 40, 52, 55, 167, 180, 214, 257, 275.

Calais, 104.

California, Gulf of, 193, 206.

Callières-Bonnevue, Louis Hector de, Governor of New France, 248.

Calumet, significance of, 75, 138, 140; given by Illinois chief to Père Marquette, 142; 150; description of, 151; Calumet dance, 152, 153; 170, 171, 173, 177, 221, 260, 270.

Campion, Edmund, S. J., 180.

Canada, New France, 8, 15, 87, 103, 255, 282, 286.

Canoes, 68, 111.

Castañeda, Spanish adventurer, 203.

Cataraqui, fort and trading station, 97.

Catherine, of Siena, Saint, 63.

Caxamalca, city of Peru, 10.

Champeaux, William de, 21.

Champlain, Samuel, 15, 104, 210, 253.

Chaouanons, Indian tribe, 162, 163.

Charles, Fifth, Emperor, 10.

Charles, Second, England, 5.

Charles, Seventh, France, 20.

Charleville, French town, 23.

Charlevoix, Pierre François Xavier, S. J., traveler and chronicler, 87, 155, 160, 172, 176, 199, 212, 213, 244, 255, 265, 266.

Chastellain, Pierre, Jesuit missionary, 34.

Chauchetière, Claude, Jesuit missionary, 32, 164.

Chaumont, Pierre Joseph Marie, Jesuit missionary, 38.

Chequamegon Bay, 72, 265.

Cherokee, Indian tribe, 274.

Chicago, 278, 279, 282, 283, 284.

Chicago river, 185, 219.

Chikagou, Illinois chief, 268, 269, 270.

China, 15, 193, 253.

Colbert, Jean Baptiste, statesman, 102, 191, 193, 206.

Colorado, river, 176.

Columbus, Christopher, 3.

Copper, Indians' use of, 89; sacred ore, 90, 91.

Corneille, Pierre, 49.

Coronado, Francisco Vasa de, Spanish adventurer, 13, 203.

Cortez, Hernando, 4.

Courcelles, Daniel de, sieur de Courcelles, Governor of New France, 43, 96.

Couture, Guillaume, French donné, 31.

Cramoisy, Sebastian, French publisher, 24.

Dablon, Claude, Jesuit missionary, and Superior General of the Canadian missions, 38, 58, 77, 82, 83, 85, 90, 92, 93, 105, 120, 191, 193, 201, 202, 205, 239, 240, 250, 262, 264.

Damascus, 21.

Dancing, Indian, 152, 153.

Dénonville, Marquis de, Governor of New France, 99.

De Soto, Hernando, 10-14, 16, 202-204.

Des Plaines, River, 227.

Dollier, Dollier de Casson, commonly called Dollier, Récollet missionary, 68, 71, 220.

Dreams, Indian superstitions concerning, 87.

Druillettes, Gabriel, Jesuit missionary, 51.

Duchesneau, intendant of New France, 160.

Dunkirk, 104.

Dunsany, Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron, 91.

Du Perron, François, Jesuit missionary, 127, 129, 149, 211, 214.

Dyes, Indian, 164, 165.

Elvas, "gentleman of," 12, 204.

Engelran, Jesuit missionary, 247, 248.

Epictetus, 287.

Erie, Indian tribe, 215.

Erie, Lake, 56, 70, 188, 215, 220.

Espíritu Santo, Bahia del, 11.

Espíritu Santo, rio del, Spanish name for the Mississippi, 9, 14, 203, 205, 216.

Fat, love of savages for, 144.

Fishing, Indian experts, 59, 82, 120, 121.

Florida, 10, 11, 202, 203.

Foucault, Marcel, 87.

Fox, river, 117, 120, 126.

France, 217, 234, 237, 239.

French, river, 57.

Freud, Sigmund, 87.

Froissart, Jean, chronicler, 21, 155.

Frontenac, Louis de Buade comte de, Governor of New France, 68, 96; successful treatment of Iroquois, 97-99; war with Iroquois, 100-101; death, 101; 102, 106, 107, 108, 141, 187, 189, 190, 191, 193, 194, 196, 197, 198, 206, 247, 249, 262, 263.

Furness, William H., 2nd, 145.

Galinée, Récollet missionary, 68, 69, 70, 71, 220.

Gama, Vasco da, Portuguese navigator, 3.

Garay, Francisco de, Governor of Jamaica, 9.

Geneva, 214.

Gennesaret, Lake of, 283.

Georgia, 274.

Georgian Bay, 57, 83.

Good Hope, Cape of, 4.

Green Bay, 116-118, 201, 262, 263.

Greenwich, Observatory, 5.

Grosseilliers, Médard Chouart des, 16, 72, 284.

Guedalla, Philip, 280.

Harper's Magazine, 251.

Head-Hunters of Borneo, 145.

Hennepin, Louis, Franciscan missionary and adventurer, 33, 79, 85, 104, 114.

Henry, Fourth, of France, 20, 22.

Hiawatha, 270-272.

Hogarth, William, 235.

Huc, Abbé Evariste Regis, French missionary, traveler in the Far East and author, 41, 145.

Huddleston, F. J., 272, 274, 275.

Hudson Bay, 194.

Humming bird, description of, 63.

Hundred Associates, Company of, 7, 102.

Hundred Years War, 20.

Hurons, Indian tribe, 7, 15, 28, 29, 39, 40, 46, 64, 74, 79, 83, 87; belief in suppressed desires, 148-149; 155, 165, 211, 221, 234, 258.

Huron, Lake, 35, 57, 81, 188.

Huron, villages, 83-84.

Illinois, Indian tribe, 75, 76, 108, 137; friendly reception of Père Marquette and Joliet 139-142; method of feeding guests, 143; characteristics, 146-148; 150, 155, 167, 172, 184, 187, 210, 211, 217, 220, 221, 222, 224; welcome Père Marquette to Kaskaskia 135-138; 239, 263, 265; loyalty to France, 266-270

Illinois, river, 183, 217, 227.

Illinois, state of, 282.

Immaculate Conception, feast of, 108, 220.

Irondequoit Bay, 69.

Iroquois, Indian tribe, comprising five allied nations, 7, 28, 29; cruelty and intelligence, 30, 31; 38, 42, 56, 81, 96, 99, 141, 146, 155, 163, 169, 192, 215, 216, 234, 245, 247, 248, 257, 267.

Jamaica, 9.

James, Henry, 4, 5.

Japan, 193.

Jerusalem, 21.

Jesuits, religious order of, 17, 25, 43, 51, 87, 229.

Jogues, Isaac, French missionary, 16, 28, 31, 55, 58, 257.

Joutel, French engineer, accompanying La Salle, 255.

Jouvency, Joseph, S. J., scholar and historian, 149.

Joliet, Louis, discoverer with Père Marquette of the upper waters of the Mississippi, 70, 71, 94; appointed by Frontenac to search for the great river, 102; 106, 107, 108, 109; starts on the voyage of discovery, 111; 115, 118; spokesman in council with Maskoutens, 125; 129; Enters the Mississippi, 130; 135; visits friendly Illinois, 137-143; 147, 156, 157, 162, 164, 167-173, 178, 181, 183, 184; returns to St. François Xavier's, 186; 187; starts for Quebec, 188; wrecked in St. Lawrence, 189; 190-193; married Claire Bissot, 194; grant of Anticosti island, 195; home and fisheries burned by English, 196; Death, 197; question of leadership, 198-199; 200-202, 205-207, 209, 211, 220, 238, 249, 253, 261-264, 270, 278, 282-284.

Joliet, town of, 282-283.

Kaskaskia, Illinois Indian village, 234, 243.

Keats, John, 4.

Kenton, Edna, English editor of Jesuit "Relations," 258, 259.

Kickapoos, Indian tribe, 72, 118.

Kilistinaux, nomad Indian tribe, 76.

Kiskakon, Indian tribe, 244, 245.

La Barre, Le Fèvre de, Governor of New France, 99, 254.

Labrador, 196.

La Chine, 67.

La Chine rapids, 188, 262.

La Fayette, Marie Jean Paul Roch Yves Gilbert Motier, 22.

Lalemant, Gabriel, Jesuit missionary, 28, 89, 180.

Lalemant, Jerôme, Jesuit missionary, 30.

Lang, Andrew, 263.

Langres, 23.

Laon, birthplace of Père Marquette, 19-22.

La Pothérie, French chronicler, 248.

La Salle, Jean Baptiste de, 22.

La Salle, Réné Robert Cavelier, sieur de, 57, 68, 69, 70, 95, 143, 146, 176, 181, 188, 194, 198, 200, 204, 207, 246, 247, 253-255, 265, 267, 284.

La Salle, Rose de, 22.

Laval de Montmorency, François de, Vicar Apostolic and first Bishop of New France, 44, 190, 263.

Le Clerc, Chrétien, Récollet missionary, 230.

Le Jeune, Paul, Jesuit missionary, 27, 32, 34, 35, 38, 42, 50, 52, 61, 84, 87, 89, 127, 128, 144, 164, 232, 234.

Le Mercier, François Joseph, Jesuit missionary, 34, 51, 65, 73.

Le Moyne, Simon, Jesuit missionary, 165, 167.

Le Petit, Mathurin, Jesuit missionary, 165.

Lesdiguières, la Duchesse de, 156.

Lhasa, 41.

London, 191.

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 270, 271.

Louis, Fourteenth, of France, 92, 254.

Louis, Ninth, of France, Saint, 21.

Louis, Seventh, of France, 21.

Louisiana, 269.

Ludington, 282.

Mackinac, Straits of, 188.

MacNeil, Hermon, A., 278, 279.

Manitoulin, Island of, 81.

Marcus Aurelius, 287.

Margry, Pierre, 194.

Marquette Building, Chicago, 279.

Marquette, Jacques, Jesuit missionary and discoverer of the upper waters of the Mississippi; birth, 19; 22-24; sent to Quebec, 25; 40, 45, 46, 50; sent to Three Rivers, 51; 52; sent to Sault de Ste. Marie, 55; 56-58, 61, 64, 65, 70, 71; sent to La Pointe du Saint Esprit, 72; 73-78; driven from Saint Esprit by the Sioux, 79; 80; Mission of St. Ignace on Michillimackinac Island, 83; 84, 85, 102, 103, 105-110; starts on voyage of discovery, 111; 112-116; reaches Mission of St. François Xavier, 118; 119, 120, 122-129; enters the waters of the Mississippi, 130; 131; description of buffalo, 133-134; 135; visits Illinois village, 137; 138-140, 146-148, 150, 151, 153, 156-163, 166-169; encounters hostile Mitchigameans, 170; 171-173, 176-178, 180; turns back, 181; 183, 184; again at the Mission of St. François Xavier, 186; 187, 188, 190-192, 197-202, 205, 207, 209, 211, 216; sent on last mission to Illinois Indians, 217; 218, 219; winter in the woods, 220-226; 227; arrives at Kaskaskia, 228; 232-238, 240; death 241; 242-245; interment at St. Ignace, 246; 249-253, 257, 258; authenticity of journal, 259-264; 265, 266, 270, 272, 275, 278, 279-281, 283-287.

Marquette, Nicholas, 22.

Marquette, "Père Marquette Railway Company," 280, 281.

Marquette, town of, 278, 280.

Marquette University, Milwaukee, 249, 281.

Marquette, Vermand, 21.

Marshall, John, Chief Justice Supreme Court, 275.

Maskoutens (Fire Nation), Indian tribe, 105, 118, 122, 124, 219.

Massachusetts, 196.

Massimo, Prince Fabrizio, 231.

Matagorda Bay, 254.

Maurois, André, 285.

Medicine men, Indian, 36, 74, 148, 262.

Membré, Zénobe, Récollet missionary, 176, 253, 255.

Ménard, Réné, Jesuit missionary, 17, 58.

Mendoza, Pedro de, Viceroy of Mexico, 14, 203.

Mercator, Gerard, Flemish geographer, 205.

Mexico, 176.

Mexico, City of, 203.

Mexico, Gulf of, 9, 13, 14, 16, 178, 190, 193, 204, 206, 254.

Miamis, Indian tribe, 118, 126.

Michigan, Lake, 81, 184-186, 191, 217, 239, 243, 244, 281.

Michigan, State of, 278-280.

Michillimackinac, Island of, 81, 108, 239, 243, 245, 247, 248, 252.

Michillimackinac, Straits of, 113.

Mignan, Islands of, 195, 197.

Mississippi, river, discovered by Spain, 9; 10, 12; in flood, 13; 14, 16, 22, 70, 76, 78, 105, 128, 129; Père Marquette and Joliet enter its waters, 130; 131, 132, 141, 156, 161, 162, 172, 178, 182, 184, 190-193, 196, 198, 199, 202-207, 217, 238, 249, 252-254, 258, 263, 267, 279, 284, 286.

Missouri, river, 159, 161, 162, 163.

Mitchell, Sir Arthur, 87.

Mitchigameans, Indian tribe, 172, 173.

Mohawks, Indian tribe, 29, 33.

Montagnais, Algonquin tribe, 51, 52.

Montreal, 67, 68, 188, 189, 196, 201, 248.

Moore, Sir Jonas, mathematician, 5.

Moreau, Pierre, French trader, 123.

Moscoso, Louis de, Spanish adventurer, 203.

Mosquitoes, 84, 166, 167.

Nadouessi, Sioux Indians, 75.

Nancy, 23.

Napoleon Bonaparte, 20.

Narvaez, Panfilo de, Spanish commander, 9, 204.

Natchez, Indian tribe, 165, 253, 269.

Nation de Folle-Avoine, 113, 115, 116.

Neri, Philip, Saint, miracle of, 231.

New France (Canada), 7, 24, 51, 55, 76, 178, 188, 192, 195.

Newman, John Henry, Cardinal, 136.

New Orleans, 269.

Niagara, 247.

Niagara Falls, 9, 104.

Nicolas, Louis, Jesuit missionary, 58, 68.

Nicollet, Jean, French interpreter and explorer, 15, 284.

Nipissing, Lake, 57.

Nouvelle, Henri, Jesuit missionary, 245.

Oanktayhee, god of the Sioux, 104.

Ohio, river, 68, 70, 162.

Ojibwas, Indian tribe, 58, 64, 65, 72.

Onondagas, Iroquois tribe, 215, 216.

Ontario, Lake, 70, 96, 188.

Orestes, 73.

Orléans, Duc d', 155.

Ortelius, Abraham, Flemish geographer, 205.

Ottawa, river, 68, 70, 162.

Ottawa, town of, 184.

Ottawas, Algonquin tribe, 46, 55, 58, 72, 74, 79, 81, 150, 201, 244.

Outaouacs, Ottawas, 221.

Outaouasinagaux, Ottawas, 85.

Painted rocks, 159-161.

Paris, 191, 205.

Parkman, Francis, 9, 17, 24, 25, 27, 29, 39, 45, 68, 103, 132, 160, 194, 202, 204, 213, 215, 230, 240, 244, 256, 267.

Penthièvre, Duc de, 156.

Peoria, 143.

Perrot, Nicolas, French adventurer, 92.

Peru, 10.

Philip, Second of Spain, 202.

Phipps, Sir William, 196.

Pierçon, Philippe, Jesuit missionary, 245.

Pineda, Spanish adventurer, 9.

Platte, river, 176.

Poictiers, 21.

Poland, 274.

Pont-à-Mousson, 23.

Port Royal, 196, 201.

Pottawattomies, Algonquin tribe, 72, 217, 267.

Pumpkin feast, St. Ignace, 86.

Quebec, 7, 23-25, 28, 44, 49-51, 56, 61, 68, 72, 78, 97, 102, 105, 106, 108, 126, 135, 181, 187, 188, 190, 191, 195-197, 201, 210, 212, 217, 222, 227, 283.

Radisson, Pierre Esprit, French explorer, 16, 72, 284.

Raymbault, Charles, Jesuit missionary, 17, 58.

Récollet, church, Quebec, 212.

"Relations," Jesuit letters and reports published in Paris, 24, 27, 30, 32, 51, 58, 60, 61, 73, 106, 108, 123, 128, 156, 166, 214, 222, 244, 259, 275.

Rémy, Daniel de, Sieur de Courcelles, Governor of New France, 43.

Rémy, Saint, "Apostle of the Franks," 20.

Rheims, 23.

Rice, wild, 113, 114.

Rochester, John Wilmot, Earl of, 5.

Roger of Sicily, the "Great Count," 3.

Saguenay, river, 51.

St. Anthony, Falls of, 164.

St. Cosmé, Jean François de, Jesuit missionary, 160.

Saint Esprit, La Pointe de, Jesuit mission, 72-74, 80, 83, 238, 245, 250, 265.

St. Ignace, Jesuit mission, 28, 82, 105, 107, 112, 171, 232, 243, 244-246, 249, 270, 281.

St. Lawrence, river, 13, 18, 51, 57, 105, 109, 188, 195.

Saint-Lusson, Simon François Daumont, sieur de, French officer, 91; takes formal possession of shores of Lake Superior in the name of France, 92-94.

St. Malo, 16, 20.

St. Mary's College, Montreal, 201.

St. Sulpice, Seminary of, Montreal, 68.

Santander, Pietro de, 203.

Santayana, George, 200, 277.

Sault de Ste. Marie, 55, 58, 59, 65, 71, 72, 83, 92, 121, 234.

Schuylkill, river, 132.

Senecas, Indian tribe allied to Iroquois, 70, 215.

Seville, 10.

Shakespeare, William, 264.

Shea, John D. Gilmary, historian, 123, 270.

Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 285.

Singing, Indian, 153, 212.

Sioux, Indian tribe, 34, 75, 79-81, 108, 114, 233, 238, 247.

Skunk, description of, 62, 63.

Snake bite, Indian remedies for, 122.

Spain, 10, 11, 202, 205.

Speech-making, Indian love of, 154.

Starved Rock, 267.

Steck, Francis Borgia, 9, 197, 204, 206, 259-261.

Steele, J. W., 272, 274, 275.

Sturgeon Bay, 186, 217.

Sulpicians, religious order, 194.

Sulte, Benjamin, French historian, 207.

Superior, Lake, 16, 58, 59, 72, 88-91, 94, 281, 284.

Superior, early Jesuit map of Lake, 17.

Sweating baths, Sioux Indians', 79.

Tadoussac, trading station, 51, 164.

Tailhan, Jules, S. J., 207.

Talon, Jean Baptiste, intendant of New France, 43, 44, 91, 95, 101, 106, 198, 206.

Tampa Bay, 11.

Tchikachas, Indian tribe, 269.

Thévenot, Melchisedech, French compiler and publisher, 252, 263.

Thibetans, 145.

Three Rivers, trading station, 16, 24, 31, 36, 51, 61, 64.

Thwaites, Reuben Gold, 57, 185.

Tionnontateronnons, Hurons, 85.

Tionontates, Petuns or Tobacco nation, 221.

Tobacco, our debt to Indians, 150, 151; Indians' love of French tobacco, 221, 222.

Tonty, Henri de, adventurer, 181, 267, 284.

Trentanove, Gaetano, sculptor, 278.

Urban, fourth, Pope, 21.

Ursuline nuns, 47, 48, 97.

Vaca, Cabeza de, Spanish adventurer, 9, 202, 204.

Vega, Garcilaso de la, Peruvian historian, 9, 12, 13, 204.

Vermilion Sea (Gulf of California), 18, 67, 105, 178, 193, 253.

Washington, D. C., Hall of Fame, 278.

Whitman, Walt, 285.

Winnebagoes, Indian tribe, 15.

Winsor, Justin, librarian Harvard University, 5.

Wisconsin, river, 16, 125, 126, 128.

Wisconsin, state of, 278.

Wood, Colonel, adventurer, 16.

Wren, Sir Christopher, 5.

Wytfliet, Cornelius, Dutch geographer, 205.

Xavier, mission of St. François Xavier, 117, 121, 186, 200, 209, 234, 237.

Xavier, Saint François, 257.

Yazoos, Indian tribe, 269.




[End of Père Marquette, by Agnes Repplier]