Printed for Bentley, Tonsan, Bonwik, T. Goodwin, and S. Manship.
one of the most numerous Nations of the Savages of America.
THIS Word Illinois comes, as it has been already observ'd, from Illini, which in the Language of that Nation signifies A perfect and accomplish 'd Man. The Villages of the Illinois are situated in a Marshy Plain, about the Fortieth Degree of Latitude, on the Right side of the River, which is as broad as the Meuse. Their greatest Village may have in it Four or five hundred Cabins, every Cabin five or six Fires, and each Fire one or two Families, who live together in great Concord. Their Cabins are cover'd with Mats of flat Rushes, so closely sew'd together, that no Wind, Rain, or Snow can go thro' it. The Union that reigns amongst that Barbarous People, ought to cover with Shame the Christians; amongst whom we can see no Trace of that brotherly Love, which united the Primitive Professors of Christianity.
When the Savages have gather'd in their Indian Corn, they dig some Holes in the Ground, where they keep it for Summer-time, because Meat does not keep in hot Weather; whereas they have very little occasion for it in Winter; and 'tis then their Custom to leave their Villages, and with their whole Families to go a hunting wild Bulls, Beavers, etc.
carrying with them but a small quantity of their Corn, which however they value so much, that the most sensible Wrong one can do them, in their Opinion, is to take some of their Corn in their absence. We found no Body in the Village, as we had foreseen; for the Illinois had divided themselves, according to their Custom, and were gone a hunting. Their Absence caus'd a great Perplexity amongst us; for we wanted Provisions, and yet durst not meddle with the Indian Corn the Savages had laid under Ground, for their Subsistence, and to sow their lands with. However, our Necessity being very great, and it being impossible to continue our Voyage without any Provisions, especially Seeing the Bulls and other Beasts had been driven from the Banks of the River, by means of Fire, as I have related in my former Chapter, M. la Salle resolv'd to take about forty Bushels of Corn, in hopes to appease the Savages with some Presents.
We embark'd again with these fresh Provisions, and continu'd to fall down the River, which runs directly to the South. Four Days after, being the First of January, 1680, we said Mass; and having wish'd a happy New-year to M. la Salle, and to all others, I thought fit to make a pathetical Exhortation to our Grumblers, to encourage them to go on cheerfully, and inspire them with Union and Concord. Father Gabriel, Zenobe, and I, embrac'd them afterwards; and they promis'd us to continue firm in their Duty. The same Day we went thro' a Lake form'd by the River, about seven Leagues long, and one broad.
The Savages call that Place
Pimiteoui; that is, in their Tongue, A Place where there is abundance of fat Beasts. When the River of the Illinois freezes, which is but seldom, it freezes only to this Lake, and never from thence to the Meschasipi into which this River falls. M. la Salle observ'd here the Elevation of the Pole, and found that this Lake lies in the Latitude of thirty three Degrees and forty five Minutes.
We had been inform'd that the Illinois were our Enemies; and therefore M. la Salle had resolv'd to use all manner of Precaution when we should meet with them; but we found our selves on a sudden in the middle of their Camp, which took up both sides of the River. M. la Salle order'd immediately his Men to make their Arms ready, and brought his Canou's into a Line, placing himself to the Right, and M. Tonti to the Left; so that we took almost the whole breadth of the River. The Illinois, who had not yet disover'd our Fleet, were very much surpiz'd to see us coming so swiftly upon them; for the Stream was extraordinary rapid in that Place: Some ran to their Arms; but most took their Flight, with horrid Cries and Howlings.
The Current brought us in the mean time to their Camp; and M. la Salle went the very first a-shoar, follow'd by his Men; which increas'd the Consternation of the Savages, whom we might have easily defeated; but as it was not our Deign, we made a Halt to give them time to recover themselves, and
see that we were no Enemies. M. la Salle might have prevented their Confusion, by shewing his Calumet, or Pipe of Peace; but he was afraid the Savages wou'd impute it to our Weakness.
The Illinois being exceedingly terrify'd, tho' they were several thousand Men, tender'd us the Calumet of Peace; and then we offer'd them ours; which being accepted on both sides, an extraordinary joy succeeded the terrible Fears they had been under upon our landing. They Sent immediately to fetch back those who fled away; and Father Zenobe and I went to their Cabins. We took their Children by the Hand, and express'd our Love for them, with all the Signs we cou'd: We did the like to the old Men, having Compassion for those poor Creatures, who are so miserable as to be ignorant of their Creator and Redeemer.
Most of the Savages, who had run away upon our landing, understanding that we were Friends, return'd; but some others had been so terrifi'd, that they did not come back till three or four Days after, that they were told that we had smoak'd in their Calumet of Peace. In the mean time we had discours'd the Chief of the Illinois by our Interpreter, and told them, that we were Inhabitants of Canada, and their Friends; that we were come to teach them the Knowledge of the Captain of Heaven and Earth, and the Use of Firearms, which were unknown to them; with several other things relating to their advantage. We were forc'd to make use of their metaphorical Expressions, to give them some Idea of the Supreme DEITY. They heard our Discourses with great
attention, and afterwards gave a great Shout for joy, repeating these Words: Tepatoui-Nika; That is, Well, my Brother, my Friend; thou hast done very well. These Savages have more Humanity than all the others of the Northern America; and understanding the Subject of our Errand, express'd great Gratitude thereupon. They rubb'd our Legs and Feet near the Fire, with Oil of Bears and Wild Bulls Fat, which, after much Travel, is an incomparable Refreshment; and presented us some Flesh to eat, putting the three first Morsels into our Mouth with great Ceremonies. This is a great piece of Civility amongst them.
M. la Salle presented them with some Tobacco from Martinico, and some Axes; and told them, that he had desir'd them to meet to treat about some weighty Matters; but that there was one in particular, which he would discourse them upon before any other. He added, that he knew how necessary their Corn was to them; but that being reduc'd to an unspeakable Necessity when he came to their Village, and Seeing no probability to subsist, he had been forc'd to take some Corn from their Habitations without their leave: That he would give 'em Axes, and other things, in lieu of it, if they could spare it; that if they could not, they were free to take it again; concluding, That if they were not able to supply us with Provisions, he design'd to continue his Voyage, and go to their Neighbours, who would heartily give him what was necessary for his Subsistence; but however, to shew them his Kindness, he would leave a Smith among them, to mend their Axes and other Tools we should supply them with. The
Savages having consider'd our Proposals, granted all our Demands, and made Alliance with us.
We were oblig'd to use many Precautions to make our Alliance lasting and solid, because our Enemies did their utmost to prevent it. The very same Day we came to the Camp of the Illinois, one of the Chief Captains of the Mascoutens, whose Name was Monso, arriv'd also with a force of Miami's, and other young Men, who brought with them some Axes, Knives, Kettles, and other Goods. Our Enemies had chosen him for that Embassie, knowing that the Illinois would rather believe him than the Miamis, because they had never been in War with the Mascoutens. This Savage arriv'd pretty late, and caball'd all the Night long against us: He told them, That M. la Salle was a great Friend of the Iroquese, who were to follow him speedily, with force of the Europeans from Canada, to invade them, and destroy their Nation; and that he was Sent by force of the Europeans themselves, who could not approve that Treachery of their Countrymen, to give them notice thereof, that they might not be surpriz'd. He enforc'd his Arguments, by presenting them with all the Goods he had brought along with him; and thinking he had gain'd his Point, went back the same Night, fearing, with much Reason, that M. la Salle would resent that Master-piece of Villany, and punish him for it. The Illinois were assembled in Council all the Night, (for they never treat of any secret Affairs during the Day) and did not know what Measures to take; for tho' they did
not believe all the Stories the Mascouten had made unto them, yet the next Day they appear'd very indifferent, and mistrustful of us. As they seem'd to contrive something against us, we began to be uneasie; but M. la Salle, who suspected that their sudden Alteration towards us was the Effect of a false Report, made such Presents to one of their Chiefs, that he told him all the Particulars of the Embassie and Negotiation of Monso; and thereby enabled him to remove the Jealousie of the Illinois, and confound the wicked Designs of our Enemies.
He manag'd that Point with such Dexterity, that he did not only regain the Friendship of that Nation, but likewise undeceiv'd the Mascouten and Miami's; and was Mediator between the latter and the Illinois, who by this means made an Alliance, which lasted all the while we remain'd in those Countries.
SOME Days after, Nikanape, Brother to Chessagouasse, the most considerable Chief of the Illinois, who was then absent, invited us to a great Feast; and before we sate down to eat, made a long Speech, very different from what the other Captains had told us upon our arrival. He said that he had invited us not so much to give us a Treat, as to endeavour to dissuade us from the Resolution we had taken, to go down to the Sea by the great River Meschasipi. He added, That several had perish'd, having ventur'd upon the same Enterprize, the Banks of that River being inhabited by barbarous and bloody Nations, whom we should be unable to resist, notwithstanding our Valour and the Goodness of our Arms; that that River was full of dangerous Monsters, as Crocodiles, Tritons, (meaning a Sea-monster) and Serpents; that supposing the Barque we design'd to build was big enough to protect us against the Dangers he had mention'd, yet it would avail us nothing against another which was inevitable: For, said he, the River Meschasipi is so full of Rocks and Falls towards its Mouth, that the Rapidity of the Current cannot be master'd, which will carry our Barque into a
horrid Whirlpool, that swallows up every thing that comes near it; and even the River it self, which appears no more, losing it self in that hideous and bottomless Gulf.
He added so many other Circumstances, and appear'd so serious, and so much concern'd for us, that two of our Men, who understood their Language, but not their Politicks, were moved at it, and their Fear appear'd in their Faces. We observ'd it, but could not help it; for it would be an unpardonable Affront to interrupt a Savage; and besides, we had perhaps encreas'd the Alarms of our Men. When Nikanape had made an end of his Discourse, we answer'd him in so calm a manner, that he cou'd not fancy we were surpris'd at his Objections against our Voyage.
Our Interpreter told him, by order of M. la Salle, that we were much oblig'd to him for the Advices he gave us; but that the Difficulties and Dangers he had mention'd, would make our Enterprize still more glorious; that we fear'd the Master of the Life of all Men, who rul'd the Sea, and all the World; and therefore wou'd think it a Happiness to lay down our Lives to make his Name known to all his Creatures. We added, that we believ'd that most of the Dangers he had mention'd were not in being; but that the Friendship he had for us, had put him upon that Invention, to oblige us to remain with them. We thought fit, however, to let him know, that we perceiv'd our Enemies had fomented some Jealousies in their Mind, and that they seem'd to mistrust our Designs; but as we were sincere in our Dealings, we desir'd them to let us know freely, and without
any Disguise, the Grounds of their Suspicions, that we might satisfie them, and clear our selves; concluding, that Seeing our Demand was so just and equitable, we expected they would grant it, or else that we should have reason to think that the joy they had express'd upon our Arrival, and the Friendship they had since shew'd to us, was nothing but a Deceit and Dissimulation. Nikanape was not able to answer us, and therefore chang'd his Discourse, desiring us to eat.
The Dinner being over, our Interpreter reassum'd his Discourse, and told the Company, that we were not surpriz'd at the Envy their Neighbours express'd about our Arrival into their Country, because they knew too well the Advantages of Commerce, and therefore would engross it to themselves, and obstruct by all means our good Correspondence; but that we wonder'd that they wou'd give Ear to the Suggestions of our common Enemies, and conceal any thing from us, since we had so sincerely acquainted them with our Designs.
We did not sleep, Brother, said he, directing his Discourse to Nikanape, when Monso was caballing amongst you in the Night to our Prejudice, endeavouring to make you believe that we were Spies of the Iroquese. The Presents be made to enforce his Lies, are still hidden in this Cabin. But why has he run away immediately after, instead of appearing publickly to justifie his Accusation? Thou art a Witness thy self, that upon our landing we might have kill'd all thy Nephews, and done what our Enemies tell you we design to do, after we have made Alliance with thee,
and settled our selves amongst you. But if it were our Design, why should we defer to put it into execution? And who binders our Warriours, who are here with me, to kill all of you, whilst your young Men are a hunting? Thou hast been told, that our Valour is terrible to the Iroquese themselves; and therefore we need not their Assistance to wage War with thee, if it were our Design.
But to remove even the least Pretence of Suspicion and Jealousie, send somebody to bring back that malicious Accuser, and we will stay here to confute him in thy Presence: For how can he know us, seeing he never saw us in his Life? And how can he be acquainted with the secret League we have made with the Iroquese, whom he knows only by Name? Consider our Equipage; we have nothing but Tools and Goods, which can never be made use of, but for the Good, of thy Nation, and not for its Destruction, as our Enemies would make thee believe.
This Discourse mov'd them very much; and they Sent after Monso to bring him back; but the Snow which fell that Night spoil'd the Tract, and so he could not be over-taken. He had remain'd for some Days not far from us, to know what would be the success of his Embassie. However, some of our Men lay under such terrible Apprehensions, that we could never recover their Courage, nor remove their Fears; so that six of them who had the Guard that Night (amongst which were two Sawers, the most necessary of our Workmen for building our Ship) run away, taking with them what they thought necessary; but considering the
Country through which they were to travel, and the Season of the year, we may say, that for avoiding an uncertain Peril, they expos'd themselves to a most certain Danger.
M. la Salle seeing that those six Men were gone, and fearing that this Desertion would make a disadvantageous Impression upon the Savages, he order'd his Men to tell the Illinois, that he had resolv'd to send after them to punish them as they deserv'd; but that the Season being so hard, he was loth to expose his Men; and that those Deserters would be severely punish'd in Canada. In the mean time we exhorted the rest to continue firm in their Duty, assuring them, That if any were afraid of venturing themselves upon the River Meschasipi, because of the Dangers Nikanape had mention'd, M. la Salle would give them leave to return next Spring to Canada, and allow them a Canou to make their Voyage; whereas they could not venture to return home at this time of the Year, without exposing themselves to perish with Hunger, Cold, or the Hands of the Savages.
They promis'd Wonders; but M. la Salle knowing their Inconstancy, and dissembling the Vexation their want of Courage and Resolution caus'd him, resolv'd to prevent any farther Subordination, and to leave the Camp of the Illinois; but lest his Men should not consent to it, he call'd them together and told them we were not safe among the Illinois, and that perhaps the Iroquese would come in a little time to attack them; and that these being not able to resist, they were like to run away, and betake themselves to the Woods, and leave us expos'd to the Mercy of the Iroquese, whose
Cruelty was sufficiently known to us; therefore he knew no other Remedy but to fortifie a Post, where we might defend our selves both against the Illinois and Iroquese, as occasion should require. These Reasons, with some other Arguments which I added to the same purpose, proved powerful enough to engage them to approve M. la Salle's Design; and so it was resolv'd to build a Fort in a very advantageous Place on the River, four Day's journey below the great village of the Illinois.
BEFORE I speak in particular of the Illinois, I think fit to observe here, that there is a Nation of the Miami's, who inhabit the Banks of a fine River, within fifteen Leagues from the Lake, in the Latitude of 41 Degrees. The Maskoutens and Outtouagami's live more Northward on the River Mellioki, which runs into the Lake in the Latitude of 43 Degrees. To the west of it live the Kikapous and Ainoves, who have two Villages; and to the west of these there is the Village of the Illinois Cascaschia, situated towards the Source of the River Checagoumenans. The Authoutantas and Maskoutens-Nadouessians live within one hundred and thirty Leagues of the Illinois, in three great Villages, on the Banks of a fine River which discharges it Self into the great River
Meschasipi. We shall have occasion to talk of these and several other Nations.
Most of these Savages, and especially the Illinois, make their Cabins of flat Rushes, which they sew together, and line them with the same; so that no Rain can go through it. They are tall, strong, and manage their Bows and Arrows with great dexterity; for they did not know the use of Fire Arms before we came into their Country. They are Lazy, Vagabonds, Timorous, Pettish, Thieves, and so fond of their Liberty, that they have no great Respect for their Chiefs.
Their villages are open, and not enclos'd with Palisado's, as in some other Places, because they have not Courage enough to defend them, for they fly away as soon as they hear their Enemies approach. Besides their Arrows, they use two other Weapons, a kind of a Pike, and a Club of Wood. Their Country is so fertile, that it supplies them with all Necessaries for Life, and especially since we taught them the use of Iron Tools to cultivate it.
Hermaphrodites are very common amongst them, which is so much the more surprizing, because I have not observ'd any such thing amongst the other Nations of the Northern America. Poligamy is allow'd amongst them; and they generally marry several Sisters, thinking they agree better than Strangers. They are exceedingly jealous, and cut the Noses of their Wives upon the least suspicion. Notwithstanding they have several Wives, they are so lascivious as to be guilty of Sodomy, and keep Boys whom they cloath with Womens Apparel, because they make of them that abominable Use.
These Boys live in their Families amongst Women, without going either to their Wars or Hunting. As to their Religion I observ'd that they are very superstitious; but I cou'd never discover that they had any Worship, nor any Reason for their Superstition. They are great Gamesters, as well as all the other Savages that I have known in America.
As there are some stony Places in this Country, where there is a great quantity of Serpents, very troublesome to the Illinois, they know several Herbs which are a quicker and surer Remedy against their Venom, than our Treacle or Orvietan. They rub themselves with these Herbs, after which, they play with those dangerous Serpents, without receiving any hurt. They take the young ones and put them sometimes into their Mouth. They go stark naked in Summer-time, wearing only a kind of Shoes made of the Skins of Bulls; but the Winter being pretty severe in their Country, tho' very short, they wear Gowns made of the Skins of Wild Beasts, or of Bulls, which they dress and paint most curiously, as I have already observ'd.
The Illinois, as most of the Savages of America, being brutish, wild, and stupid, and their Manners being so opposite to the Morals of the Gospel, their Conversion is to be despair'd of, till Time and Commerce with the Europeans has remov'd their natural Fierceness and Ignorance, and thereby made 'em more apt to be sensible of the Charms of Chris-
tianity. I have met with force who were more teachable; and Father Zenobe told me, that he Baptiz'd two or three of them at the point of Death, because they desir'd it; and shew'd some good Disposition to induce him to grant that Demand. They will readily suffer us to baptize their Children, and would not refuse it themselves; but they are incapable of any previous Instruction concerning the Truth of the Gospel, and the Efficacy of the Sacraments. Would I follow the Example of some other Missionaries, I could have boasted of many Conversions; for I might have easily baptiz'd all those Nations, and then say, as I am afraid they do without any ground, That I had converted them.
Father Zenobe had met with two Savages, who had promis'd to follow him every where, whom he instructed and baptizd; but tho' they were more tractable than the rest, they would not leave their Country; and he understood afterwards, that one of them, whose Name was Cbassagouache, was dead in the hands of the Junglers, and consequently in the Superstitions of his Country-Men; so that his Baptism serv'd only to make him duplo Filius Gehenne.
An account of the Building of a New Fort on the River of the Illinois, named by the Savages Checagou, and by us Fort Crevecoeur; as also a Barque to go down the River Meschasipi.
I MUST observe here, that the hardest Winter lasts not above two Months in this charming Country; so that on the 15th of January there came a sudden Thaw, which made the Rivers navigable, and the Weather so mild as it is with us in the middle of the Spring. M. la Salle improving this fair Season, desir'd me to go down the River with him to choose a Place fit to build our Fort. After having view'd the Country we pitch'd upon an Eminence on the Bank of the River, defended on that side by the River, and on two others by two Ditches the Rains had made very deep by succession of Time; so that it was accessible only by one way; therefore we cast a Line to joyn those two natural Ditches, and made the Eminence steep on every fide, supporting the Earth with great pieces of Timber. We made a hasty Lodgment thereupon, to be ready to defend us in case the Savages would obstruct the building of our Fort; but no body offering to disturb us, we went on diligently with our work. Fathers Gabriel, Zenobe, and I, made in the mean time a Cabin of Planks, wherein our Workmen came to Prayers
every Morning and Evening; but having no Wine, we could not say Mass. The Fort being half finish'd, M. la Salle lodg'd himself in the middle with M. Tonti; and every body took his Post. We plac'd our Forge along the Courtin on the side of the Wood, and laid in a great quantity of Coals for that use.
In the mean time our thoughts were always bent towards our Discovery, and M. la Salle and I had frequent Conferences about it: But our greatest difficulty was to build a Barque; for our Sawers being gone, we did not know what to do. However, as the Timber was cheap enough, we told our Men, that if any of them would undertake to saw Boards for Building the Said Barque, we might surmount all other Difficulties. Two Men undertook it; and though they had never try'd it before, they succeeded very well, so that we began to build a Barque, the Keel whereof was forty two Foot long. Our Men went on so briskly with the Work, that on the first of March our Barque was half built, and all the Timber ready prepar'd for the finishing of it. Our Fort was also very near finish'd; and we nam'd it the Fort of Crevecoeur, because the desertion of our Men, and the other Difficulties we labour'd under, had almost broke our Hearts.
Though the Winter is not harder nor longer in the Country of the Illinois, than in Provence, the Snow remain'd upon the Earth, in the Year 1680, for twenty days together,
which had not been Seen in the Memory of Man. This made the Savages mightily concern'd, and brought upon us a World of inconveniencies, besides the many others we suffer'd. In the mean time we perfected our Fort; and our Barque was in such a forwardness, that we might have expected to be in a condition to sail in a very short time, had we been provided with all other Necessaries; but hearing nothing of our Ship, and therefore wanting the Rigging and other Tackle for our Barque, we found our selves in great perplexity, and did not know what to do in this sad Juncture, being above five hundred Leagues from Fort Frontenac, whither it was almost impossible to return at that time, because the Snow made the travelling very dangerous by Land, and the Ice made it impracticable to our Canou's.
M. la Salle did not doubt then but his belov'd Griffin was lost; but neither this nor the other Difficulties dejected him; his great Courage buoy'd him up, and he resolv'd to return to Fort Frontenac by Land, notwithstanding the Snow, and the unspeakable Dangers attending so great a voyage. We had a long Conference about it in private, wherein having examin'd all things, it was resolv'd, that he should return to Fort Frontenac with three Men, to bring along with him the necessary things to proceed on our Discovery, while I with two Men should go in a Canou to the River Meschasipi, and endeavour to get the Friendship of those Nations inhabiting the Banks of that River. Our Resolution was certainly very great and bold; but there was this essential
difference, that the Inhabitants of the Countries through which M. la Salle was to travel, knew the Europeans; whereas those Savages, whom I design'd to visit, had never heard of us in their Life; and had been represented by the Illinois, as the most barbarous Nations in the World. However, M. la Salle and I had Courage enough to undertake our difficult Task; but we had much ado to perswade five of our Men to follow us, or to engage to expect our Return at Fort Crevecoeur.
Containing an Account of what was transacted at Fort Crevecoeur before M. la Salle's return to Fort Frontenac; and the Instructions we receiv'd from a Savage concerning the River Meschasipi.
BEFORE M. la Salle and I parted, we found means to undeceive our Men, and remov'd the groundless Fears they had conceiv'd from what the Illinois, through the Suggestions of Monso, had told us concerning the Dangers, or rather the Impossibility of Sailing upon the River Meschasipi. Some Savages inhabiting beyond that River, came to the Camp of the Illinois, and gave us an Account of it, very different from what Nikanape had told us; some other Savages own'd that it was navigable, and not interrupted by Rocks and Falls, as the Illinois would make us believe; and one of the Illinois themselves, being gain'd by some small Presents, told us in great secresie, that the Account their Chief had given us, was a downright Forgery, contriv'd on purpose to oblige us to give over our Enterprize. This reviv'd somewhat our Men; but yet they were still wavering and irresolute; and therefore M. la Salle said, that he would fully convince them, that the Illinois had resolv'd in their
Council to forge that Account, in order to stop our Voyage; and few days after we met with a favourable opportunity for it.
The Illinois had made an Excursion South-ward; as they were returning with some Prisoners, one of their Warriours came before their Comrades, and visited us at our Fort; we entertain'd him as well as we could, and ask'd him several Questions touching the River Meschasipi, from whence he came, and where he had been oftentimes, giving him to understand that some other Savage had given us an Account of it. He took a piece of Charcoal, and drew a Map of the Course of that River, which I found afterwards pretty exact; and told us, that he had been in a Pyrogue; that is, a Canou made of the Trunk of a Tree, from the Mouth of this River, to very near the Place where the Meschasipi falls into the great Lake; for so they call the Sea: That there was neither Falls, nor rapid Currents, as we had been told; that it was very broad towards the great Lake, and interrupted with Banks of Sand; but that there were large Canals betwixt them, deep enough for any Pyrogue. He told us also the Name of several Nations inhabiting the Banks of Meschasipi, and of several Rivers that fall into it. I set down in my Journal all that he told us, of which I shall perhaps give a larger Account in another place. We made him a small Present, to thank him for his Kindness, in discovering a Truth, which the Chief of his Nation had so carefully conceal'd. He desir'd us to hold our tongue, and never to mention him, which we prom-
is'd; and gave him an Axe, wherewith we shut his mouth, according to the Custom of the Savages, when they recommend a Secret.
The next day, after Prayers, we went to the Village of the Illinois; whom we found in the Cabin of one of their Chiefs; who entertain'd them with a Bear, whose Flesh is much valu'd among them. They desir'd us to sit down upon a fine Mat of Rushes: And some time after our Interpreter told them, that we were come to acquaint them, that the Maker of all Things, and the Master of the Lives of Men, took a particular Care of us, and had been pleas'd to let us have a true Account of the River Meschasipi; the Navigation whereof they had represented to us as impracticable. We added all the Particulars we had learn'd, but in such Terms, that it was impossible they should suspect any of their Men.
The Savages were much surpriz'd, and did not doubt but we had that Account by some extraordinary Way; therefore they shut their Mouths with their Hands; which is their usual Custom to express their Admiration by. They told us frankly afterwards, that the great desire they had to stop amongst them our Captain, and the Grey-Coats or Barefoot, as they call the Franciscans, had oblig'd them to forge the Stories they had told us, and to conceal the Truth; but since we had come to the Knowledge of it by another way, they would tell us all that they knew; and confirm'd every Particular their Warriour had told us. This Confession remov'd the Fears of our Men, who were few days after still more fully perswaded that the Illinois had only design'd to frighten us
from our Discovery: For several Savages of the Nations of Osages, Cikaga, and Akansa, came to see us, and brought fine Furrs to barter for our Axes. They told us that the Meschasipi was navigable almost from its Source to the Sea; and gave us great Encouragement to go on with our Design, assuring us, that all the Nations inhabiting along the River, from the Mouth of that of the Illinois, to the Sea, would come to meet us, and dance the Calumet of Peace, as they express it, and make an Alliance with us.
The Miami's arriv'd much about that time, and danc'd the Calumet with the Illinois, making an Alliance with them against the Iroquese, their implacable Enemies. We were Witnesses to their Treaty; and M. la Salle made them some Presents, the better to oblige both Parties to the Observation of their League.
We were three Missionaries for that handful of Europeans at Fort Crevecoeur; and therefore we thought fit to divide our
selves: Father Gabriel being very old, was to continue with our Men; and Father Zenobe among the Illinois, having desir'd it himself, in hopes to convert that numerous Nation: And I, as I have already related, was to go on with our Discovery. Father Zenobe liv'd already among the Illinois, but the rude Manners of that People made him soon weary of it. His Landlord, whose Name was Omabouba, that is to say, Wolf, was the Head of a Tribe, and took a special Care of Father Zenobe, especially after M. la Salle had made him some Presents: He lov'd him as his Child; but however, I perceiv'd in the Visits he made us, (for he liv'd but within half a League of our Fort) that he was not satisfi'd to live amongst that brutish Nation, though he had already learn'd their Tongue. This oblig'd me to offer him to take his place, provided he would supply mine, and go on with our Discovery amongst several Nations, whose Language we did not understand, and who had never heard of us; but Father Zenobe foreseeing the Danger and Fatigue I was like to be expos'd to, chose to remain with the Illinois, whose Temper he knew, and with whom he was able to converse.
M. la Salle left M. Tonti to command in Fort Crevecouer, and order'd our Carpenter to prepare some thick Planks of Oak, to fence the Deck of our Barque in the nature of a Parapet, to cover it against the Arrows of the Savages, in case they design'd to shoot at us from the Shoar. Then calling his Men together, he desir'd them to obey M. Tonti's Orders in his Absence, to live in a Christian Union and Charity; to be courageous and firm in their Design; and
above all, to give no credit to the false Reports that the Savages might make unto them, either of him, or of their Comrades that were going with me. He assur'd them, that he would return with all the speed imaginable, and bring along with him a fresh Supply of Men, Ammunition, and Rigging for our Barque; and that in the mean time he left them Arms, and other things necessary for a vigorous Defence, in case their Enemies should attack them before his Return.
He told me afterwards, that he expected I should depart without any farther Delay; but I told him, that tho' I had promis'd him to do it, yet a Defluxion I had on my Gums a Year since, as he knew very well, oblig'd me to return to Canada, to be cur'd; and that I would then come back with him. He was very much surpriz'd, and told me, he would write to my Superiours, that I had obstructed the good Success of our Mission, and desir'd Father Gabriel to perswade me to the contrary. That good Man had been my Master, during my Novitiate in our Convent of Betbune, in the Province of Artois; and therefore I had so great a Respect for him, that I yielded to his Advice; and consider'd, that since a Man of his Age had ventur'd to come along with me in so dangerous a Mission, it would look as Pusilanimity in me to return and leave him. That Father had left a very good Estate, being Heir of a Noble Family of the Province of Burgundy; and I must own, that his Example reviv'd my Courage upon several Occasions.
M. la Salle was mightily pleas'd when I told him I was
resolv'd to go, notwithstanding my Indisposition: He embrac'd me, and gave me a Calumet of Peace; and two Men to manage our Canou, whose Names were Anthony Auguel, surnam'd the Picard du Gay; and Mitchel Ako, of the Province of Poitlou, to whom he gave some Commodities to the value of about 1000 Livres, to trade with the Savages, or make Presents. He gave to me in particular, and for my own use, ten Knives, twelve Shoe-maker's Awls or Bodkins, a small Roll of Tobacco from Martinico, about two Pounds of Rassade: that is to say, Little Pearls or Rings of colour'd Glass, wherewith the Savages make Bracelets, and other Works, and a small Parcel of Needles to give to the Savages; telling me, that he would have given me a greater quantity, if it had been in his Power.
The Reader may judge by these Particulars, of the rest of my Equipage for so great an Undertaking; however, relying my Self on the Providence of God, I took my leave of M. la Salle, and embrac'd all our Men, receiving the Blessing of Father Gabriel, who told me several things, to inspire me with Courage; concluding his Exhortation by these Words of the Scripture, Viriliter age, & confortetur Cor tuum.
M. la Salle set out a few days after for Canada, with three Men, without any Provisions, but what they kill'd in their journey, during which they suffer'd very much, by reason of the Snow, Hunger and cold weather.
WHOSOEVER will confider the Dangers to which I was going to expose my self, in an unknown Country, where no European had travell'd before, and amongst some Savages, whose Language I did not understand, will not blame the Relutancy I expressed against that voyage: I had such an Idea of it, that neither the fair Words, or Threats of M. la Salle, would have been able to engage me to venture my Life so rashly, had I not felt within my self a secret but strong Assurance, if I may use that Word, that God would help and prosper my Undertaking.
We set out from Fort Crevecoeur on the 29th of February, 1680, and as we fell down the River, we met with several Companies of Savages, who return'd to their Habitations, with their Pirogues or Wooden-Canou's, loaded with the Bulls they had kill' d: they would fain persuade us to return with them, and the two Men who were with me, were very willing to follow their Advice; telling me that M. la Salle had as good to have murder'd us: But I oppos'd their Design, and told them that the rest of our Men wou'd stop them as they shou'd come by the Fort, if they offer'd to return, and so we continu' d our voyage. They confess' d to me the next
Day, that they had resolv'd to leave me with the Savages, and make their Escape with the Canou and Commodities, thinking that there was no Sin in that, since M. la Salle was indebted to them in a great deal more than their Value; and that I had been very safe. This was the first Discouragement I met with, and the Forerunner of a great many others.
The River of the Illinois is very near as deep and broad as the Meuse and Sambre before Namur; but we found some Places where 'tis about a quarter of a League broad. The Banks of the River are not even, but interrupted with Hills, dispos'd almost at an equal distance, and cover'd with fine Trees. The Valley between them is a Marshy Ground, which is overflow'd after great Rains, especially in the Autumn and the Spring. We had the Curiosity to go up one of those Hills, from whence we discover'd vast Meadows, with Forests, such as we had seen before we arriv'd at the Village of the Illinois. The River flows so softly, that the Current is hardly perceptible, except when it swells: But it will carry at all times great Barques for above 100 Leagues; that is, from the Said Village to its Mouth. It runs directly to the South-west. On the 7th of March we met, within two Leagues from the River Meschasipi, a Nation of the Savages call'd Tamaroa or Maroa, consisting of about 200 Families. They design'd to bring us along with them to their Village, which lies to the
West of Meschasipi, about seven Leagues from the Mouth of the River of the Illinois; but my Men follow'd my Advice, and wou'd not stop, in hopes to exchange their Commodities with more Advantage in a more remote Place. Our Resolution was very good; for I don't question but they would have robb'd us; for Seeing we had some Arms, they thought we were going to carry them to their Enemies. They pursu'd us in their Pyrogues or Wooden-Canous; but ours being made of Bark of Birch-Trees, and consequently ten times lighter than theirs, and better fram'd, we laughed at their Endeavours, and got clear of them. They had Sent a Party of their Warriours to lie in Ambuscade on a Neck of Land advancing into the River, where they thought we should pass that Evening or the next Morning; but having discover'd some Smoak on that Point, we spoil'd their Design, and therefore cross'd the River, and landed in a small Island near the other side, where we lay all the Night, leaving our Canou in the water, under the Guard of a little Dog; who doubtless wou'd have awak'd us, if any body had offer'd to come near him; as we expected the Savages might attempt it, swimming over in the Night; but no body came to disturb us. Having thus avoided those Savages, we came to the Mouth of the River of the Illinois, distant from their great Village about 100 Leagues, and So from Fort Crevecoeur. It falls into the Meschasipi between 35 and 36 Degrees of Latitude, and within 120 or 130 Leagues from the Gulph of Mexico, according to our Conjecture, without including the
Turnings and Windings of the Meschasipi, from thence to the Sea.
The Angle between the two Rivers on the South-side, is a steep Rock of forty Foot high, and flat on the Top, and consequently a fit Place to build a Fort; and on the other side of the River, the Ground appears blackish, from whence I judge that it would prove fertile, and afford two Crops every Year, for the subsistence of a Colony. The Soil looks as if it had been already manur'd.
The Ice which came down from the Source of the Meschasipi, stopp'd us in that Place till the 12th of March; for we were afraid for our Canou: But when we saw the Danger over, we continu'd our Course, sounding the River, to know whether it was navigable. There are three small Islands over-against the Mouth of the River of the Illinois, which stop the Trees and Pieces of Timber that come down the River; which by succession of time, has form'd some Banks: But the Canals are deep enough for the greatest Barques; and I judge that in the driest Summer, there is Water enough for flat-bottom-Boats.
The Meschasipi runs to the South-South-West, between two Ridges of Mountains, which follow the great Windings of the River. They are near the Banks, at the Mouth of the River of the Illinois, and are not very high; but in other Places, they are some Leagues distant; and the Meadows between the River and the Foot of those Hills, are cover'd with an infinite number of wild Bulls. The
Country beyond those Hills is so fine and pleasant, that according to the Account I have had, one might justly call it the Delight of America.
The Meschasipi is in some places a League broad, and half a League where it is narrowest. The Rapidity in its Current is somewhat abated, by a great number of Islands, cover'd with fine Trees interlac'd with Vines. It receives but two Rivers from the west Side, one whereof is call'd Otontenta ; and the other discharges it self into it near the Fall of St. Anthony of Padoua, as we shall observe hereafter; But so many others run into the Meschasipi from the North, that it swells very much toward its Mouth.
I am resolv'd to give here an Account of the Course of that River; which I have hither to conceal'd, for the Sake of M. la Salle, who wou'd ascribe to himself alone the Glory, and the most secret Part of this Discovery. He was so fond of it, that he has expos'd to visible danger several Persons, that they might not publish what they had seen, and thereby prejudice his secret Designs.