Page images

sippi to the mouth of the Illinois, which they ascended, and so passed over to Chicago, then an Indian settlement at the southern extremity of Lake Michigan.

The next account we have of the Mississippi is to be found in Daniel Coxe's Carolana,* already mentioned. He tells us (p. 117) that “in the year 1678, à considerable Number of Persons went from New England upon discovery, and proceeded so far as New-Mexico, 150 leagues beyond the River Mes. chacebe, and at their return rendered an Account to the Government of Boston, as will be attested, among many others by Colonel Dudley, then one of the Magistrates, and at present Deputy Governor of the Isle of Wight, under the Honourable the Lord Cutts. The war soon after breaking out between the English and Indians, many of the Indians, who were in that expedition, retreated to Canada, from whom Monsieur De Salle received most of his information, concerning that country, by him afterwards more fully discovered. And they served him for Guides and Interpreters; as is attested by Monsieur le Tonti, who accompanied Monsieur de Salle : As also by Monsieur Le Clerk, in a book published by order of the French King." What follows is curious, if true. “For which reason and divers other passages favouring inadvertently the English Pretensions, his Journal printed at Paris was called in, and that book of One Livre Price, is not now to be purchased for Thirty Livres." We entreat our antiquarian brethren to the east of us, to examine the archives of the ancient town of Boston, and to ascertain whether there remains any record there of the truth of this account. There certainly appears great reason to doubt it. We have diligently perused the English translations of Tonti's account of De Salle's first voyage, and of Joutel's parrative of his second, and in the preface to neither does the translator allude in the most distant manner to. any


previous discovery. The fact is, that Coxe's father was the nominal proprietor of this Carolana, and the object of the son was to enlist the jealousy and ambition of Britain into an attempt to secure to himself the possession of a part of his questionable patrimony. The principal argument on which Coxe rests his claim under

*“A Description of the English Province of Carolana, by the Spaniards calle Florida, and by the French La Louisiane. As also, of the Great and Famous River Meschacebe or Mississippi, the five vast navigable Lakes of Fresh water, and the Parts adjacent. Together with an Account of the cominodities of the Growth and Production of the said Province. And a Preface, containing some Considerations on the Consequences of the French making Settlements there. By Daniel Coxe, Esq. London, 1727.A very curious and rare little book, presented by Mr. Gulian C. Verplanck to the New York Society Library.

the English title, upon this province, was the transfer, as he calls it, to the province of New York, of all the territory south of the great Lakes, by the Iroquois, who had conquered it. His father too, he asserts, had made extensive discoveries in various parts of this great territory, and shortly after had made “ another discovery more to the North West, beyond the river Meschacebe, of a very great sea or lake of fresh water, several thousand miles in circumference; and of a great river at the S. W. end, issuing out into the South-Sea, about the latitude of 44 degrees; which was then communicated to the Privy-Council, and a draft thereof left in the Plantation office."

In addition to this, Coxe declares, that his father had in his possession, in the year 1704, a Journal in English which * seemed to have been written many years before," and which describes the Mississippi from its mouth to the great Yellow river (the Missouri.) This Journal, he insinuates, was in existence before any of the French Narratives were published. As it is impossible at present to ascertain the truth of these assertions, we pass on to an important era in the history of this discovery. For some time previous to Marquette's expedition, Cavalier de la Salle, a gentleman of Rouen, in Normandy, had entertained the hope of acquiring wealth and honourable distinction in some new expedition into the undiscovered parts of North America. His first project was to search for a North West passage from the Atlantic to China or Japan. For this purpose, he went to Canada, and had an interview with Joliet, who had just returned to Montreal with the news of his discoveries. La Salle put little faith in Joliet's declaration, that the Mississippi could only terminate in the Gulf of Mexico, and flattered himself that, by ascending the river, instead of going to the south, he should certainly succeed in the object of his enterprise. Full of these anticipations, he returned to France, laid his plans before the Cabinet, obtained the assistance of the ministry and the approbation of the king, associated with himself the Chevalier de Tonti, an intelligent Italian, and set sail from Rochelle on the 14th of July, 1678, with a party of 30 men. Arrived at Quebec, they took into the expedition Father Louis Hennepin, a Flemish priest of the order of the RecoHets, by whom they were accompanied in the greater part of their subsequent adventures. After visiting Niagara, the Lakes, Makina and St. Mary's Falls, he passes from Lake Michigan to the river Illinois, on the banks of which he builds Fort Crevecæur, where he remains for the winter, despatching M. Dacan and Father Hennepin down the river, with instructions to ascend the Mississippi, if it be possible, to its very source, and Vol. 1.


intending himself to return to Fort Frontenac, in order to obtain a supply of men and ammunition. Why La Salle should thus give to Hennepin an opportunity to defraud him of the honours of his long meditated expedition, it is difficult to conceive. It is probable, however, that he had by this time become convinced of the impracticability of a North West passage through the upper

branches of the Mississippi, and not anticipating either profit or renown from any discovery in that quarter, had reserved to himself the voyage duwn the Mississippi to the sea. Be this as it may, Hennepin, in his “ New Discovery,"* declares that the honour of tracing this great river to its embouchure belongs to himself alone. He disobeyed, as he acknowledges, the express instructions of La Salle, to ascend the river, and went down, as he alleges, to its mouth, and then returned. This story was generally discredited in Europe, and it is certain that in Hennepin's first account of his travels, entitled, a Description of Louisiana, published in 1682, he does not appear to have been south of the mouth of the Illinois, nor did he describe the lower Mississippi until some years after the publication of Tonti's book. We shall give our readers a brief sketch of what Hennepin, in his New Discovery, professes to have done, leaving it for them to judge, whether there is reason to believe, with Charlevoix and others, that Hennepin's narrative is false. According to his own story, he left Crevecæur on the 29th of February, 1680, and on the 7th of March following, entered the Meschasipi, according to his calculations, in lat. 35° 30°; (three degrees and a half out of the way;) leaving the junction of the two rivers on the eighth, (he forgets that two pages before he had said that the ice had detained him there until the twelfth, he arrives in six hours opposite the mouth of the river of the Messorites (the Missouris.) On the ninth, the party fell in with an Indian village, Tamaroa, (probably near St. Louis ;) on the tenth they made 40 leagues, and reached the river of the Ouadbaches, (the Ohio, or river of the Wabashes); on the 21st, they passed the Akansa, and on the 25th came in sight of the Sea. Hennepin states the length of the Mississippi below the Illinois, to be 340

* A New Discovery of a vast country in America, extending above Four thousand Miles between New France and New Mexico, with a Description of the Great Lakes, Cataracts, Rivers, Plants and Animals. Also, the Manners, Customs and Languages of the several Native Indians, and the Advantage of Commerce with those different Nations. With a Continuation, giving an Account of the Attempts of the Sieur de la Salle upon the mines of St. Barbe, &c. &c. with the advantages of a short cut to China and Japan, &c. &c. by L. Hennepin, now resident in Holland. London, 1699.

leagues, which is a shrewd conjecture; and the whole length from its source, he calculates to be at least 800 leagues. The river, he informs us, divides at its mouth into three principal passes, and empties into the sea, in about lat. 289. All this is sufficiently near the truth, to have proved, if the account had preceded the narrative of Tonti, that Hennepin actually descended to the Gulf. But the particulars of his ascent are too improbable to be true. By his own dates, he was but ten days in going from the mouth of the Mississippi to the mouth of the Illinois, a distance of upwards of 1350 miles against a powerful current, a voyage which our trading row-boats can scarcely accomplish in seven times the same interval of time. His dates, too, are inconsistent. He leaves the mouth of the Mississippi on the first of April, reaches the Akansa villages on the ninth, (p. 128) stays there a day, and leaves there on the twentyfourth, (pp. 129, 137,) and then suddenly re-appears above the falls of Owamena or St. Anthony on the twelfth of the same month. Thus, Father Hennepin would make us believe that he descended from the Illinois to the sea, and returned to the falls of St. Anthony, in 43 days, time barely sufficient to enable him to proceed directly from the first to the last of these places, which, there is not the smallest doubt, is precisely what he did.

From the falls of St. Anthony, Hennepin ascended to the mouth of the St. Francis, where, on the 12th of April, 1680, he was taken prisoner, with the rest of his party, by the Issati or Nadowessi Indians, carried by them some distance to the north and east of the Mississippi, there detained until the beginning of July, and finally brought back, by the way of the St. Francis, to the falls of St. Anthony. Thence he was conducted by the savages to the mouth of the Wisconsin, where he finds the Sieur du Luth, and his party, who had been sent out some time before from Canada. The Indians carry them again to the Nadowessi country, and then permit them to return to Michilimakina, which they do by the way of the Wisconsin, and the Fox rivers. Hennepin's story of his adventures, during his captivity, is neither probable nor entertaining, giving no distinct idea of the topography of the country, and consisting of little else than a tedious alternation of fanciful descriptions, and evangelical apostrophes. Although it is palpable at every page that he well deserved the ungentle epithet of Father Hennepin the great liar,' by which he was generally known as well in Europe as in Canada, yet it cannot be denied that the discovery of the Falls of Owamena or St. Anthony, and the credit of having first explored the Mississippi, from the Wisconsin to the St.

Francis, belongs of right to him.* La Salle's descent to the mouth of the Mississippi, which constitutes the next era in the bistory of these discoveries, excited at the time a great and general interest throughout Canada and France; but the details of this, we must defer to the next number of our Review..

Art. XXXII.-1. Narrative of a Visit to Brazil, Chile, Peru, and

the Sandwich Islands, during the years 1821 and 1822. With Miscellaneous Remarks on the past and present state and political prospects of those Countries. By GILBERT FARQURAR

Mathison.' London, 1825. 2. Narrative of a Journey across the Cordillera of the Andes, and

of a Residence in Lima, and other parts of Peru, in the years

1823 and 1824. By Robert PROCTOR. London, 1825. It was naturally to be expected, that the South American republics should find among the foreigners, whom business or curiosity may have attracted to their shores, the same variety of calumniators and encomiasts, that it has been the good or ill fortune of our own country to have endured, since she assumed the responsibility of acting for herself. Already have Columbia, Buenos Ayres, and Peru, had their Welds, and their Fauxes, their Halls and their Harrises, who have encountered all the perils of the sea, and the divers perils of the land, solely for the philanthropic purpose of deciding the great question, which still so sorely perplexes the wise men of the East, whether the Western hemisphere be a heaven or a hell. It is exceedingly desirable, although scarcely to be hoped for, that among the Mel. chiors and the Caspars, who come to worship us as gods, or the scantier of faith, who doubt even our humanity, there might be found a few to whom the lucky thought might suggest itself, that perhaps after all, our social and political condition may belong to some part of the wide interval, which separates these two extremes. With regard to our southern brethren, we have little hopes of finding out the truth about them in any other way, than by making such large deductions from the accounts of them which reach us, as will bring the pros and cons into some kind of rough congruity. Perhaps among the books which depreciate the South Americans, the two narratives before us are not immeasurably removed from the medium we have spoken of. The

* St. Anthony and St. Francis were names given by Father Hennepin, and are now in common use.

« PreviousContinue »