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Recollets, but in other respects different. Hennepin, in early life, read with unwearied delight the adventures of travelers, and felt a burning desire to visit strange lands. Yielding to his ruling passion, he set out on a roving mission through Holland, where he exposed himself in trenches and seiges for the salvation of the soldier. Finding, at length, his old inclination to travel returning, he obtained permission of his superior to visit America, where, in accordance with his wandering proclivity, he became connected with the adventures of LaSalle. In this capacity he won distinction as an explorer, but afterwards tarnished his reputation with false pretensions. Ribourde was a hale and cheerful old man of 64 years, and though possessing fewer salient points of character than Hennepin, he greatly excelled him in purity of life. He renounced station and ease for the privations of a missionary, and at last was stricken down by the parricidal hand of those he fain would have benefited. Membre, like Hennepin, is accused of vanity and falsehood. He must, however, have possessed redeeming traits, for he long remained the faithful companion of LaSalle, and finally perished in his service.
On arriving at the fort, LaSalle sent 15 men with merchandise to Lake Michigan, to trade for furs. After disposing of the goods, they were instructed to proceed with the bartered commodities to Illinois, and there await his arrival. The next step he hoped to make in his westward progress was the erection of a fort at the mouth of the river Niagara. He thought if he could control this key to the chain of lakes above, he could also control the Indian trade of the interior. For this purpose, La Motte and Henepin, with 16 men, on the 18th of November, embarked in one of the small vessels which lay at the fort, and started for the mouth of the river. Retarded by adverse winds, it was not till the 6th of December that they reached their destination and effected a landing. Here they met with a band of Senecas from a neighboring village, who gazed upon them with curious eyes, and listened with great wonderment to a song which they sung in honor of their safe arrival. When, however, the erection of a fort was commenced, their surprise gave way to jealousy, and it became necessary to obtain the consent of the chiefs before the work could be completed. With this object in view, LaMotte and Hennepin, loaded with presents, set out to visit the principal town, situated near the site of Rochester, New York. Arriving thither after a journey of 5 days, they were received by a committee of 32 chiefs, to whom they made known their object. La Motte distributed gifts among the chiefs with a lavish hand, and by means of his interpreter, used all the tact and eloquence of which he was master to gain their consent to the erection of the fort. They readily received the gifts, but answered the interpreter with evasive generalities, and the embassy was compelled to return without a definite reply. In the meantime LaSalle and Tonti, who had been detained in procuring supplies for the new settlement, arrived. They had also encountered unfavorable winds, and LaSalle, anxious to hasten forward, entrusted one of his vessels to the pilot, who, disregarding his instructions, suffered her to become wrecked. The crew escaped, but with the exception of the cables and anchors intended to be used in building a ship above the cataract, the cargo was lost. LaSalle, who was more than an ordinary mas
ter of Indian diplomacy, next visited the Senecas, and partially obtained his request. In lieu of the fort, he was permitted to erect a warehouse. This was completed, and used as a shelter for the men during the ensuing winter, and a depository for merchandise in his subsequent transactions on the lakes.
The Griffin.—A more vital consideration, and that which next engaged the attention of LaSalle, was the building of a vessel on the river. The point selected for this purpose was on the east side of the river, at the mouth of Cayuga creek, 6 miles above the cataract. The men struggled up the steep hights above Lewiston with the necessary equipments, and on the 22d of January, 1679, commenced the laborious task of carrying them to the point selected, some 12 miles distant. Arriving thither, Tonti immediately commenced the task of bnilding the vessel, while La Salle returned to Frontenac, to replace the stores which had been lost in the lake. Notwithstanding the attempt of the Senecas to burn the vessel as she grew on the stocks, in due time she was finished and ready to launch. The firing of cannon announced her completion, and as the men chanted a song in honor of their success, and the Indians stared at the novel sight, she gracefully glided out on the waters of the Niagara. During her construction, they were greatly amazed at the ribs of the huge monster, but now they looked with increased surprise at the grim muzzles of 5 cannon looking through her port holes, and a huge creature, part lion and part eagle, carved on the prow. The figure was a griffin, after which the vessel was named, in honor of the armorial bearings of Frontenac. She was taken further up the river, where the men supplied her with rigging, and Tonti anxiously awaited the arrival of LaSalle. This did not occur till August, he having, in the meantime, been detained by financial difficulties, growing out of the attempt of enemies to injure his credit. He brought with him Ribourde and Membre, to preach the faith among the tribes of the west, which he now proposed to visit.
To defer the enterprise longer, would be to defeat it, and on the 7th of August, 1679, the voyagers embarked. The extended sails of their little craft catching the breeze, bore her safely out on the bosom of Lake Erie. Never before had been pictured in its waters the image of fluttering canvas, and to the Griffin belongs the honor of first coursing the highway which is now whitened with the sails of such an extended commerce. After a prosperous voyage up the lake, they entered the Detroit, and passed on each bank a pleasant succession of prairies and forests, alive with game. The men leaped ashore, and soon the decks of the Griffin were strewn with the dead bodies of deer, turkeys and bears, upon whose flesh the crew feasted with the greatest relish. Ascending Lake St. Clair and the rest of the strait, they entered Lake Huron, which appeared like a vast mirror set in a frame fantastic with rocks and verdure. So pure and transparent were the waters, the fish on the pebbled bottom below seemed the only inhabitants of earth, while their little bark floated like a cloud in mid-air above them. At first the voyage was prosperous, and islet after islet loomed up before them, which the strange mirage of the waters converted into huge Tritons stalking rapidly by, and disappearing in the distance behind. Soon, however, the breeze before which they moved freshened into a gale, and at last became an
angry tempest, causing the greatest alarm. All fell to praying except the pilot, who was incensed at the idea of ignobly perishing in the lake, after having breasted the storms and won the honors of the ocean. LaSalle and the friars evoked the aid of St. Anthony of Padua, whom they declared the patron of the expedition, and promised a chapel if he would deliver them from the devouring waves. The saint, it is said, answered their prayers; the billow-tossed bosom of the lake became still, and the Griffin rode into the straits of Mackinaw uninjured. A salute of cannon announced their arrival at the Jesuit mission, where they effected a landing, and immediately repaired to the chapel to offer thanks for their recent deliverance.
Here, under the shadow of the cross, the votaries of mammon had erected a bazaar for the fur trade, which they carried on with or without a license, as best suited their interests. All of them looked with jealous eyes upon LaSalle, but openly extended a welcome to him, that they might allay suspicions respecting their secret designs against his enterprise. With motives little better, the Indians saluted him with a volley of musketry, and soon swarmed in canoes around the Griffin, which they called a floating fort, and evidently regarded it with greater curiosity than good will. Not only the residents were secretly hostile, but it soon appeared that his own men had proved treacherous. Most of those he had sent up the lakes with merchandise had sold it and kept the proceeds, instead of going with them, as directed, to Illinois. LaSalle arrested four of them at Mackinaw, and sent Tonti to the Straits of St. Mary after two others, whom he also succeeded in capturing.
As soon as Tonti returned, LaSalle weighed anchor and sailed through the Straits into Lake Michigan, and landed at an island near the entrance of Green Bay. Here he was received with great hospitality by a Potawatamie chief, and met with a number of his traders, who, unlike the others, had faithfully disposed of liis goods and collected a large quantity of furs. He at once resolved to send them, with others he had collected on the way to Niagara, for the benefit of his creditors. Such a transaction was not authorized by his license of discovery, yet his will was law, and despite the protest of his followers, the furs were carried aboard the Griffin. The pilot, after disposing of the cargo, was instructed to return with her to the southern shore of the lake. Her cannons thundered forth a parting salute, and soon the little bark melted out of sight in the distance. LaSalle, with the remaining men, now embarked in canoes, laden with a forge, tools and arms, and started for the mouth of the St. Joseph. Unfortunately, they found the lake broken with constant storms, which frequently imperiled their own lives and made them tremble for the fate of the Griffin. After a long voyage, in which they suffered much from hardship and hunger, they arrived at their destination. Here they expected to meet with Tonti and twenty of the men who left Mackinaw simultaneously with the Griffin, expecting to make their way along the eastern shore of the lake. After waiting some time in vain for their arrival, those who had come with LaSalle urged upon him the necessity of pushing forward to obtain corn from the Ilinois before they departed for their winter hunting grounds. He decided it unwise to grant their request, and, to
divert their minds from the subject, commenced the erection of a
Without further delay, on the 3d of December, 1679, the party, numbering 33 persons, commenced ascending the St. Joseph. Already the margins of the stream were glassed with sheets of ice and the adjacent forests were gray and bare. Four days brought them to the site of South Bend, to look for the path leading across the portage to the Kankakee. A Mohegan hunter, who accompanied the expedition, and who was now expected to act as a guide, was absent in quest of game, and LaSalle sallied forth to find the way. In the blinding snow and tangled woods he soon became lost, and the day wore away without his return. Tonti, becoming alarmed for his safety, sent men to scour the forest and fire guns to direct his course to the camp. It was not, however, till the next afternoon that he made his appearance. Two opossums dangled in his girdle, which he had killed with a club, while suspended by their tails from overhanging boughs. After missing his way, he was compelled to make the circuit of a large swamp, and it was late at night before he got back to the river. Here he fired his gun as a signal, and soon after, discovering a light, made up to it, supposing it came from the camp of his men. To his surprise it proved to be the lonely bivouac of some Indian, who had fled at the report of his gun. He called aloud in several Indian tongues, but only the reverberations of his voice in the surrounding soli. tude met his ear. Looking around, he discovered under the trunk of a huge tree a couch made of dried grass, still warm and impressed with the form of its recent occupant. He took possession and slept unmolested till morning, when, without further difficnlty, he found his way to camp. Meanwhile, the Mohegan hunter had arrived, and soon the whole party stood on the banks of the Kankakee, coursing its way in zig-zags among tufts of tall grass and clumps of alder. Into its current, which a tall man might easily
. bestride, they set their canoes, and slowly moved down its sluggish, slimy waters. So full was its channel that the voyagers seemed sailing on the surface of the ground, while their evening shadows, unobstructed by banks, fell far beyond their canoes, and trooped like huge phantoms along by their side. By and by it grew to a considerable stream, from the drainage of miry barrens and reedy marshes skirting its banks. Still farther on succeeded prairies and woodlands, recently scorched by the fires of Indian
hunters, and here and there deeply scarred with the trails of buf
Occasionally, on the distant verge of the prairies, they could see Indians in pursuit of these animals, while at night the horizon blazed with camp fires where they were cooking and feasting upon their sweetly flavored meats. LaSalle's Mohegan hunter had been unsuccessful, and his half-starved men would gladly have shared with the Indians their rich repast. Their wants were however unexpectedly relieved by the happy discovery of a huge bull so deeply mired he was unable to escape. So ponderous was his huge body that when killed it required 12 men, with the aid of cables, to extricate him from the mud. Refreshed with a boun. tiful repast, they again betook themselves to their canoes, and soon entered the Illinois, meandering through plains of richest verdure. They were then the pasture grounds of innumerable deer and buffalo, but now wondrously transformed into scenes of agri. cultural thrift. On the right they passed the high plateau of Buffalo Rock, long the favorite resort of the Indians. Farther down, on the left, appeared a lofty promontory beautifully crested with trees, and soon destined to be crowned with the bulwarks of an impregnable fortress. Below, on the north shore, stood the principal town of the Illinois, in whieh Hennepin counted 461 lodges, each containing from 6 to 8 families. These structures were made of poles in the form of an oblong rectangle. Those composing the sides rose perpendicularly from the ground, and at the top were united in the form of an arch. Others crossing these at right angles completed the framework, which was afterward neatly inclosed in a covering of rushes. Ás had been feared by the voyagers, the Illinois were absent, and their village a voiceless solitude. The presence of savages is often a cause of alarm, but now the case was reversed, for LaSalle desired to obtain from them corn for his famishing companions. Soon some of his men discovered large quantities of it stored away in pits, but at tirst refrained from taking it, lest they might seriously offend its owners. Necessity, however, generally gets the better of prudence, and they took a quantity sufficient to supply their present wants, and departed down the ver.
On the 1st of January, 1680, they again landed to hear mass, and wish each other a happy new year. Father Hennepin closed the exercises by haranguing the men on the importance of patience, faith and constancy. Two days afterward they entered the expansion of the river now called Peoria Lake, after the Indians who dwelt upon its banks. Columns of smoke, rising gracefully from the forest below, now announced the presence of Indians, who, LaSalle had reasons to suspect, were averse to his enterprise. Un dismayed, they moved down the lake, which soon narrowed to the usual width of the river, when, just beyond, they discovered some 80 Illinois wigwams on the opposite banks. Dropping their pad. dles and seizing their weapons, they were rapidly borne toward the astounded savages. LaSalle, aware that the least hesitancy on his part would be construed as fear, leaped ashore with his little band of Frenchmen, each armed and ready for action. Such audacity was too much, even for Indian heroism. Women and children trembled with 'fear; brave warriors fled in the utmost terror, but a few of the more bold rallied and made overtures of peace. Two chiefs advanced and displayed a calumet, which La