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islets tufted with massive thickets, and between the natural parks of Illinois and Iowa.
About sixty leagues below the Wisconsin the western bank of the Mississippi bore on its sands the trail of men ; a little footpath was discovered leading into beautiful fields; and, leaving the canoes, Joliet and Marquette resolved alone to brave a meeting with the savages. After walking six miles, they beheld a village on the banks of a river, and two others on a slope, at a distance of a mile and a half from the first. The river was the Moingona, of which we have corrupted the name into Des Moines.
Marquette and Joliet, the first white men who trod the soil of Iowa, commending themselves to God, uttered a loud cry. Four old men advanced slowly to meet them, bearing the peace pipe brilliant with many-colored plumes. “We are Illinois,” said they, that is, when translated, “ We are men”; and they offered the calumet.
An aged chief received them at his cabin with upraised hands, exclaiming: “How beautiful is the sun, Frenchman, when thou comest to visit us ! Our whole village awaits thee ; thou shalt enter in peace into all our dwellings.” And the pilgrims were followed by the devouring gaze of an astonished crowd.
To the council Marquette published the one true God, their Creator. He spoke also of the great captain of the French, the Governor of Canada, who had chastised the Five Nations and commanded peace; and he questioned them respecting the Mississippi and the tribes that possessed its banks. For the messengers, who announced the subjection of the Iroquois, a magnificent festival was prepared of hominy and fish and the choicest viands from the prairies.
After six days' delay, and invitations to new visits, the chieftain of the tribe, with hundreds of warriors, attended the strangers to their canoes; and, selecting a peace pipe embellished with the head and neck of brilliant birds, and all feathered over with plumage of various hues, they hung round Marquette the sacred calumet— the mysterious arbiter of peace and war, a safeguard among the nations.
The little group proceeded onward. “I did not fear death,” says Marquette, in July; “I should have esteemed it the greatest happiness to have died for the glory of God.” They passed the perpendicular rocks, which wore the appearance of monsters ; they heard at a distance the noise of the waters of the Missouri, known to them by its Algonquin name of Pekitanoni; and, when they came to the grandest confluence of rivers in the world, — where the swifter Missouri rushes like a conqueror into the calmer Mississippi, dragging it, as it were, hastily to the sea, — the good Marquette resolved in his heart one day to ascend the mighty river to its source; to cross the ridge that divides the oceans, and, descending a westerly flowing stream, to publish the gospel to all the people of this New World.
In a little less than forty leagues, the canoes floated past the Ohio, which was then, and long afterward, called the Wabash. Its banks were tenanted by numerous villages of the peaceful Shawnees, who quailed under the incursions of the Iroquois.
The thick canes begin to appear so close and strong that the buffaloes could not break through them; the insects become intolerable; as a shelter against the suns of July, the sails are folded into an awning. The prairies vanish; and forests of whitewood, admirable for their vastness
and height, crowd even to the skirts of the pebbly shore. It is also observed that, in the land of the Chickasas, the Indians have guns.
Near the latitude of thirty-three degrees, on the western bank of the Mississippi, stood the village of Mitchigamea in a region that had not been visited by Europeans since the days of De Soto. “Now,” thought Marquette, " we must, indeed, ask the aid of the Virgin.” Armed with bows and arrows, with clubs, axes, and bucklers, amid continual whoops, the natives embarked in boats made out of the trunks of huge hollow trees; but, at the sight of the mysterious peace pipe held aloft, they threw down their bows and quivers and prepared a hospitable wel
The next day a long wooden canoe, containing ten men, escorted the discoverers, for eight or ten leagues, to the village of Akansea, the limit of their voyage. They had left the region of the Algonquins, and, in the midst of the Dakotas and Chickasas, could speak only by an interpreter. A half league above Akaņsea, they were met by two boats, in one of which stood the commander, holding in his hand the peace pipe, and singing as he drew
After offering the pipe, he gave bread of maize. The wealth of his tribe consisted in buffalo skins; their weapons were axes of steel
a proof of commerce with Europeans.
Having descended below the entrance of the Arkansas, and having become certain that the father of rivers went not to the Gulf of California, but was undoubtedly the river of the Spiritu Santo of the Spaniards, which pours its flood of waters into the Gulf of Mexico, on the seventeenth of July Marquette and Joliet left Akansea and
ascended the Mississippi, having the greatest difficulty in stemming its currents.
At the thirty-eighth degree of latitude they entered the river Illinois, which was broad and deep and peaceful in its flow. Its banks were without a paragon for its prairies and its forests, its buffaloes and deer, its turkeys and geese, and many kinds of game, and even beavers ; and there were many small lakes and rivulets.
“ When I was told of a country without trees,” wrote Joliet, “I imagined a country that had been burned over, or of a soil too poor to produce anything ; but we have remarked just the contrary, and it would be impossible to find a better soil for grain, for vines, or any fruits whatever.” He held the country on the Illinois River to be the most beautiful and the most easy to colonize. " There is no need," he said, " that an emigrant should employ ten years in cutting down the forest and burning it. On the day of his arrival the emigrant could put the plow into the earth.”
The tribe of the Illinois entreated Marquette to come and reside among them. One of their chiefs, with their young men, guided the party to the portage, which, in spring and the early part of summer, was but half a league long, and they easily reached the lake. “The place at which we entered the lake,” to use the words of Joliet, “ is a harbor very convenient to receive ships, and to give them protection against the wind.” Before the end of September the explorers were safe in Green Bay; but Marquette was exhausted by his labors.
In 1675 Marquette, who had been delayed by his failing health for more than a year, rejoined the Illinois on their river. Assembling the tribe, whose chiefs and men
were reckoned at two thousand, he raised before them pictures of the Virgin Mary, spoke to them of one who had died on the cross for all men, and built an altar and said mass in their presence on the prairie. Again celebrating the mystery of the eucharist, on Easter Sunday, he took possession of the land in the name of Jesus Christ, and there founded a mission.
This work being accomplished, his health failed him, and he began a journey by way of Chicago to Mackinaw. On the way, feeling himself arrested by the approach of death, he entered a little river in Michigan, and was set on shore that he might breathe his last in peace. He repeated in solitude all his acts of devotion of the preceding days. When after a little while his companions returned to him, they found him passing gently away. On the highest bank of the stream the canoemen dug his grave. To a city, a county, and a river, Michigan has given his name.
- Adapted. DEFINITIONS. - Căl'u mět, peace pipe of the Indians. Chăs tişed', punished. Ar'bi ter, one who determines a controversy. Māize, Indian corn. Păr'a gon, equal. Eū'eha rist, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
THE CHAMBERED NAUTILUS.
By OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES.
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main
The venturous bark that flings
And coral reefs lie bare,