HotFreeBooks.com
Pioneers Of France In The New World
by Francis Parkman, Jr.
1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

PIONEERS OF FRANCE IN THE NEW WORLD

By Francis Parkman



INTRODUCTION.

The springs of American civilization, unlike those of the elder world, lie revealed in the clear light of History. In appearance they are feeble; in reality, copious and full of force. Acting at the sources of life, instruments otherwise weak become mighty for good and evil, and men, lost elsewhere in the crowd, stand forth as agents of Destiny. In their toils, their sufferings, their conflicts, momentous questions were at stake, and issues vital to the future world,—the prevalence of races, the triumph of principles, health or disease, a blessing or a curse. On the obscure strife where men died by tens or by scores hung questions of as deep import for posterity as on those mighty contests of national adolescence where carnage is reckoned by thousands.

The subject to which the proposed series will be devoted is that of "France in the New World,"—the attempt of Feudalism, Monarchy, and Rome to master a continent where, at this hour, half a million of bayonets are vindicating the ascendency of a regulated freedom;—Feudalism still strong in life, though enveloped and overborne by new-born Centralization; Monarchy in the flush of triumphant power; Rome, nerved by disaster, springing with renewed vitality from ashes and corruption, and ranging the earth to reconquer abroad what she had lost at home. These banded powers, pushing into the wilderness their indomitable soldiers and devoted priests, unveiled the secrets of the barbarous continent, pierced the forests, traced and mapped out the streams, planted their emblems, built their forts, and claimed all as their own. New France was all head. Under king, noble, and Jesuit, the lank, lean body would not thrive. Even commerce wore the sword, decked itself with badges of nobility, aspired to forest seigniories and hordes of savage retainers.

Along the borders of the sea an adverse power was strengthening and widening, with slow but steadfast growth, full of blood and muscle,—a body without a head. Each had its strength, each its weakness, each its own modes of vigorous life: but the one was fruitful, the other barren; the one instinct with hope, the other darkening with shadows of despair.

By name, local position, and character, one of these communities of freemen stands forth as the most conspicuous representative of this antagonism,—Liberty and Absolutism, New England and New France. The one was the offspring of a triumphant government; the other, of an oppressed and fugitive people: the one, an unflinching champion of the Roman Catholic reaction; the other, a vanguard of the Reform. Each followed its natural laws of growth, and each came to its natural result. Vitalized by the principles of its foundation, the Puritan commonwealth grew apace. New England was preeminently the land of material progress. Here the prize was within every man's reach: patient industry need never doubt its reward; nay, in defiance of the four Gospels, assiduity in pursuit of gain was promoted to the rank of a duty, and thrift and godliness were linked in equivocal wedlock. Politically she was free; socially she suffered from that subtle and searching oppression which the dominant opinion of a free community may exercise over the members who compose it. As a whole, she grew upon the gaze of the world, a signal example of expansive energy; but she has not been fruitful in those salient and striking forms of character which often give a dramatic life to the annals of nations far less prosperous.

We turn to New France, and all is reversed. Here was a bold attempt to crush under the exactions of a grasping hierarchy, to stifle under the curbs and trappings of a feudal monarchy, a people compassed by influences of the wildest freedom,—whose schools were the forest and the sea, whose trade was an armed barter with savages, and whose daily life a lesson of lawless independence. But this fierce spirit had its vent. The story of New France is from the first a story of war: of war—for so her founders believed—with the adversary of mankind himself; war with savage tribes and potent forest commonwealths; war with the encroaching powers of Heresy and of England. Her brave, unthinking people were stamped with the soldier's virtues and the soldier's faults; and in their leaders were displayed, on a grand and novel stage, the energies, aspirations, and passions which belong to hopes vast and vague, ill-restricted powers, and stations of command.

The growth of New England was a result of the aggregate efforts of a busy multitude, each in his narrow circle toiling for himself, to gather competence or wealth. The expansion of New France was the achievement of a gigantic ambition striving to grasp a continent. It was a vain attempt. Long and valiantly her chiefs upheld their cause, leading to battle a vassal population, warlike as themselves. Borne down by numbers from without, wasted by corruption from within, New France fell at last; and out of her fall grew revolutions whose influence to this hour is felt through every nation of the civilized world.

The French dominion is a memory of the past; and when we evoke its departed shades, they rise upon us from their graves in strange, romantic guise. Again their ghostly camp-fires seem to burn, and the fitful light is cast around on lord and vassal and black-robed priest, mingled with wild forms of savage warriors, knit in close fellowship on the same stern errand. A boundless vision grows upon us; an untamed continent; vast wastes of forest verdure; mountains silent in primeval sleep; river, lake, and glimmering pool; wilderness oceans mingling with the sky. Such was the domain which France conquered for Civilization. Plumed helmets gleamed in the shade of its forests, priestly vestments in its dens and fastnesses of ancient barbarism. Men steeped in antique learning, pale with the close breath of the cloister, here spent the noon and evening of their lives, ruled savage hordes with a mild, parental sway, and stood serene before the direst shapes of death. Men of courtly nurture, heirs to the polish of a far-reaching ancestry, here, with their dauntless hardihood, put to shame the boldest sons of toil.

This memorable but half-forgotten chapter in the book of human life can be rightly read only by lights numerous and widely scattered. The earlier period of New France was prolific in a class of publications which are often of much historic value, but of which many are exceedingly rare. The writer, however, has at length gained access to them all. Of the unpublished records of the colonies, the archives of France are of course the grand deposit; but many documents of important bearing on the subject are to be found scattered in public and private libraries, chiefly in France and Canada. The task of collection has proved abundantly irksome and laborious. It has, however, been greatly lightened by the action of the governments of New York, Massachusetts, and Canada, in collecting from Europe copies of documents having more or less relation to their own history. It has been greatly lightened, too, by a most kind co-operation, for which the writer owes obligations too many for recognition at present, but of which he trusts to make fitting acknowledgment hereafter. Yet he cannot forbear to mention the name of Mr. John Gilmary Shea of New York, to whose labors this department of American history has been so deeply indebted, and that of the Hon. Henry Black of Quebec. Nor can he refrain from expressing his obligation to the skilful and friendly criticism of Mr. Charles Folsom.

In this, and still more must it be the case in succeeding volumes, the amount of reading applied to their composition is far greater than the citations represent, much of it being of a collateral and illustrative nature. This was essential to a plan whose aim it was, while scrupulously and rigorously adhering to the truth of facts, to animate them with the life of the past, and, so far as might be, clothe the skeleton with flesh. If, at times, it may seem that range has been allowed to fancy, it is so in appearance only; since the minutest details of narrative or description rest on authentic documents or on personal observation.

Faithfulness to the truth of history involves far more than a research, however patient and scrupulous, into special facts. Such facts may be detailed with the most minute exactness, and yet the narrative, taken as a whole, may be unmeaning or untrue. The narrator must seek to imbue himself with the life and spirit of the time. He must study events in their bearings near and remote; in the character, habits, and manners of those who took part in them, he must himself be, as it were, a sharer or a spectator of the action he describes.

With respect to that special research which, if inadequate, is still in the most emphatic sense indispensable, it has been the writer's aim to exhaust the existing material of every subject treated. While it would be folly to claim success in such an attempt, he has reason to hope that, so far at least as relates to the present volume, nothing of much importance has escaped him. With respect to the general preparation just alluded to, he has long been too fond of his theme to neglect any means within his reach of making his conception of it distinct and true.

To those who have aided him with information and documents, the extreme slowness in the progress of the work will naturally have caused surprise. This slowness was unavoidable. During the past eighteen years, the state of his health has exacted throughout an extreme caution in regard to mental application, reducing it at best within narrow and precarious limits, and often precluding it. Indeed, for two periods, each of several years, any attempt at bookish occupation would have been merely suicidal. A condition of sight arising from kindred sources has also retarded the work, since it has never permitted reading or writing continuously for much more than five minutes, and often has not permitted them at all. A previous work, "The Conspiracy of Pontiac," was written in similar circumstances.

The writer means, if possible, to carry the present design to its completion. Such a completion, however, will by no means be essential as regards the individual volumes of the series, since each will form a separate and independent work. The present work, it will be seen, contains two distinct and completed narratives. Some progress has been made in others.

Boston. January 1,1865.



Part One

HUGOENOTS IN FLORIDA



PREFATORY NOTE TO THE

HUGUENOTS IN FLORIDA.

The story of New France opens with a tragedy. The political and religious enmities which were soon to bathe Europe in blood broke out with an intense and concentrated fury in the distant wilds of Florida. It was under equivocal auspices that Coligny and his partisans essayed to build up a Calvinist France in America, and the attempt was met by all the forces of national rivalry, personal interest, and religious hate.

This striking passage of our early history is remarkable for the fullness and precision of the authorities that illustrate it. The incidents of the Huguenot occupation of Florida are recorded by eight eye-witnesses. Their evidence is marked by an unusual accord in respect to essential facts, as well as by a minuteness of statement which vividly pictures the events described. The following are the principal authorities consulted for the main body of the narrative.

Ribauld, 'The Whole and True Discovery of Terra Florida,' This is Captain Jean Ribaut's account of his voyage to Florida in 1562. It was "prynted at London," "newly set forthe in Englishe," in 1563, and reprinted by Hakluyt in 1582 in his black-letter tract entitled 'Divers Voyages.' It is not known to exist in the original French.

'L'Histoire Notable de la Floride, mise en lumiere par M. Basanier' (Paris, 1586). The most valuable portion of this work consists of the letters of Rene de Laudonniere, the French commandant in Florida in 1564-65. They are interesting, and, with necessary allowance for the position and prejudices of the writer, trustworthy.

Challeux, Discours de l'Histoire de la Floride (Dieppe, 1566). Challeux was a carpenter, who went to Florida in 1565. He was above sixty years of age, a zealous Huguenot, and a philosopher in his way. His story is affecting from its simplicity. Various editions of it appeared under various titles.

Le Moyne, Brevis Narratio eorum qucs in Florida Americce Provincia Gallis acciderunt. Le Moyne was Laudonniere's artist. His narrative forms the Second Part of the Grands Voyages of De Bry (Frankfort, 1591). It is illustrated by numerous drawings made by the writer from memory, and accompanied with descriptive letter-press.

Coppie d'une Lettre venant de la Floride (Paris, 1565). This is a letter from one of the adventurers under Laudonniere. It is reprinted in the Recueil de Pieces sur la Floride of Ternaux.-Compans. Ternaux also prints in the same volume a narrative called Histoire memorable du dernier Voyage faict par le Capitaine Jean Ribaut. It is of no original value, being compiled from Laudonniere and Challeux.

Une Bequete au Roy, faite en forme de Complainte (1566). This is a petition for redress to Charles the Ninth from the relatives of the French massacred in Florida by the Spaniards. It recounts many incidents of that tragedy.

La Reprinse de la Floride par le Cappitaine Gourgue. This is a manuscript in the Bibliotheque Nationale, printed in the Recueil of Ternaux-Compans. It contains a detailed account of the remarkable expedition of Dominique de Gourgues against the Spaniards in Florida in 1567-68.

Charlevoix, in his Histoire de la Nouvelle France, speaks of another narrative of this expedition in manuscript, preserved in the Gourgues family. A copy of it, made in 1831 by the Vicomte de Gourgues, has been placed at the writer's disposal.

Popeliniere, De Thou, Wytfleit, D'Aubigne De Laet, Brantome, Lescarbot, Champlain, and other writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, have told or touched upon the story of the Huguenots in Florida; but they all draw their information from one or more of the sources named above.

Lettres et Papiers d' Estat du Sieur de Forguevaulx (Bibliotheque Nationale). These include the correspondence of the French and Spanish courts concerning the massacre of the Huguenots. They are printed by Gaffarel in his Histoire de le Floride Francaise.

The Spanish authorities are the following—Barcia (Cardenas y Cano), Ensayo Cronologico para la Historia General de la Florida (Madrid, 1723). This annalist had access to original documents of great interest. Some of them are used as material for his narrative, others are copied entire. Of these, the most remarkable is that of Solis de las Meras, Memorial de todas las Jornadas de la Conquista de la Florida.

Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, Relacion de la Jornada de Pedro Menendez de Aviles en la Florida (Documentos Ineditos del Archivo de Indias, III. 441). A French translation of this journal will be found in the Recueil de Pieces sur let Floride of Ternaux-Compans. Mendoza was chaplain of the expedition commanded by Menendez de Aviles, and, like Solfs, he was an eye-witness of the events which he relates.

Pedro Menendez de Aviles, Siete Cartas escritas al Rey, Anos de 1565 y 1566, MSS. These are the despatches of the Adelantado Menendez to Philip the Second. They were procured for the writer, together with other documents, from the archives of Seville, and their contents are now for the first time made public. They consist of seventy-two closely written foolscap pages, and are of the highest interest and value as regards the present subject, confirming and amplifying the statements of Solis and Mendoza, and giving new and curious information with respect to the designs of Spain upon the continent of North America.

It is unnecessary to specify the authorities for the introductory and subordinate portions of the narrative.

The writer is indebted to Mr. Buckingham Smith, for procuring copies of documents from the archives of Spain; to Mr. Bancroft, the historian of the United States, for the use of the Vicomte de Gourgues's copy of the journal describing the expedition of his ancestor against the Spaniards; and to Mr. Charles Russell Lowell, of the Boston Athenaeum, and Mr. John Langdon Sibley, Librarian of Harvard College, for obliging aid in consulting books and papers.



HUGUENOTS IN FLORIDA.



CHAPTER I.

1512-1561.

EARLY SPANISH ADVENTURE.

Towards the close of the fifteenth century, Spain achieved her final triumph over the infidels of Granada, and made her name glorious through all generations by the discovery of America. The religious zeal and romantic daring which a long course of Moorish wars had called forth were now exalted to redoubled fervor. Every ship from the New World came freighted with marvels which put the fictions of chivalry to shame; and to the Spaniard of that day America was a region of wonder and mystery, of vague and magnificent promise. Thither adventurers hastened, thirsting for glory and for gold, and often mingling the enthusiasm of the crusader and the valor of the knight-errant with the bigotry of inquisitors and the rapacity of pirates. They roamed over land and sea; they climbed unknown mountains, surveyed unknown oceans, pierced the sultry intricacies of tropical forests; while from year to year and from day to day new wonders were unfolded, new islands and archipelagoes, new regions of gold and pearl, and barbaric empires of more than Oriental wealth. The extravagance of hope and the fever of adventure knew no bounds. Nor is it surprising that amid such waking marvels the imagination should run wild in romantic dreams; that between the possible and the impossible the line of distinction should be but faintly drawn, and that men should be found ready to stake life and honor in pursuit of the most insane fantasies.

Such a man was the veteran cavalier Juan Ponce de Leon. Greedy of honors and of riches, he embarked at Porto Rico with three brigantines, bent on schemes of discovery. But that which gave the chief stimulus to his enterprise was a story, current among the Indians of Cuba and Hispaniola, that on the island of Bimini, said to be one of the Bahamas, there was a fountain of such virtue, that, bathing in its waters, old men resumed their youth. [1] It was said, moreover, that on a neighboring shore might be found a river gifted with the same beneficent property, and believed by some to be no other than the Jordan. [2] Ponce de Leon found the island of Bimini, but not the fountain. Farther westward, in the latitude of thirty degrees and eight minutes, he approached an unknown land, which he named Florida, and, steering southward, explored its coast as far as the extreme point of the peninsula, when, after some farther explorations, he retraced his course to Porto Rico.

Ponce de Leon had not regained his youth, but his active spirit was unsubdued.

Nine years later he attempted to plant a colony in Florida; the Indians attacked him fiercely; he was mortally wounded, and died soon afterwards in Cuba. [3]

The voyages of Garay and Vasquez de Ayllon threw new light on the discoveries of Ponce, and the general outline of the coasts of Florida became known to the Spaniards. [4] Meanwhile, Cortes had conquered Mexico, and the fame of that iniquitous but magnificent exploit rang through all Spain. Many an impatient cavalier burned to achieve a kindred fortune. To the excited fancy of the Spaniards the unknown land of Florida seemed the seat of surpassing wealth, and Pamphilo de Narvaez essayed to possess himself of its fancied treasures. Landing on its shores, and proclaiming destruction to the Indians unless they acknowledged the sovereignty of the Pope and the Emperor, he advanced into the forests with three hundred men. Nothing could exceed their sufferings. Nowhere could they find the gold they came to seek. The village of Appalache, where they hoped to gain a rich booty, offered nothing but a few mean wigwams. The horses gave out, and the famished soldiers fed upon their flesh. The men sickened, and the Indians unceasingly harassed their march. At length, after two hundred and eighty leagues [5] of wandering, they found themselves on the northern shore of the Gulf of Mexico, and desperately put to sea in such crazy boats as their skill and means could construct. Cold, disease, famine, thirst, and the fury of the waves, melted them away. Narvaez himself perished, and of his wretched followers no more than four escaped, reaching by land, after years of vicissitude, the Christian settlements of New Spain. [6]

The interior of the vast country then comprehended under the name of Florida still remained unexplored. The Spanish voyager, as his caravel ploughed the adjacent seas, might give full scope to his imagination, and dream that beyond the long, low margin of forest which bounded his horizon lay hid a rich harvest for some future conqueror; perhaps a second Mexico with its royal palace and sacred pyramids, or another Cuzco with its temple of the Sun, encircled with a frieze of gold. Haunted by such visions, the ocean chivalry of Spain could not long stand idle.

Hernando de Soto was the companion of Pizarro in the conquest of Peru. He had come to America a needy adventurer, with no other fortune than his sword and target. But his exploits had given him fame and fortune, and he appeared at court with the retinue of a nobleman. [7] Still, his active energies could not endure repose, and his avarice and ambition goaded him to fresh enterprises. He asked and obtained permission to conquer Florida. While this design was in agitation, Cabeca de Vaca, one of those who had survived the expedition of Narvaez, appeared in Spain, and for purposes of his own spread abroad the mischievous falsehood, that Florida was the richest country yet discovered. De Soto's plans were embraced with enthusiasm. Nobles and gentlemen contended for the privilege of joining his standard; and, setting sail with an ample armament, he landed at the bay of Espiritu Santo, now Tampa Bay, in Florida, with six hundred and twenty chosen men, a band as gallant and well appointed, as eager in purpose and audacious in hope, as ever trod the shores of the New World. The clangor of trumpets, the neighing of horses, the fluttering of pennons, the glittering of helmet and lance, startled the ancient forest with unwonted greeting. Amid this pomp of chivalry, religion was not forgotten. The sacred vessels and vestments with bread and wine for the Eucharist were carefully provided; and De Soto himself declared that the enterprise was undertaken for God alone, and seemed to be the object of His especial care. These devout marauders could not neglect the spiritual welfare of the Indians whom they had come to plunder; and besides fetters to bind, and bloodhounds to hunt them, they brought priests and monks for the saving of their souls.

The adventurers began their march. Their story has been often told. For month after month and year after year, the procession of priests and cavaliers, crossbowmen, arquebusiers, and Indian captives laden with the baggage, still wandered on through wild and boundless wastes, lured hither and thither by the ignis fatuus of their hopes. They traversed great portions of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, everywhere inflicting and enduring misery, but never approaching their phantom El Dorado. At length, in the third year of their journeying, they reached the banks of the Mississippi, a hundred and thirty-two years before its second discovery by Marquette. One of their number describes the great river as almost half a league wide, deep, rapid, and constantly rolling down trees and drift-wood on its turbid current.

The Spaniards crossed over at a point above the mouth of the Arkansas. They advanced westward, but found no treasures,—nothing indeed but hardships, and an Indian enemy, furious, writes one of their officers, "as mad dogs." They heard of a country towards the north where maize could not be cultivated because the vast herds of wild cattle devoured it. They penetrated so far that they entered the range of the roving prairie tribes; for, one day, as they pushed their way with difficulty across great plains covered with tall, rank grass, they met a band of savages who dwelt in lodges of skins sewed together, subsisting on game alone, and wandering perpetually from place to place. Finding neither gold nor the South Sea, for both of which they had hoped, they returned to the banks of the Mississippi.

De Soto, says one of those who accompanied him, was a "stern man, and of few words." Even in the midst of reverses, his will had been law to his followers, and he had sustained himself through the depths of disappointment with the energy of a stubborn pride. But his hour was come. He fell into deep dejection, followed by an attack of fever, and soon after died miserably. To preserve his body from the Indians, his followers sank it at midnight in the river, and the sullen waters of the Mississippi buried his ambition and his hopes.

The adventurers were now, with few exceptions, disgusted with the enterprise, and longed only to escape from the scene of their miseries. After a vain attempt to reach Mexico by land, they again turned back to the Mississippi, and labored, with all the resources which their desperate necessity could suggest, to construct vessels in which they might make their way to some Christian settlement. Their condition was most forlorn. Few of their horses remained alive; their baggage had been destroyed at the burning of the Indian town of Mavila, and many of the soldiers were without armor and without weapons. In place of the gallant array which, more than three years before, had left the harbor of Espiritu Santo, a company of sickly and starving men were laboring among the swampy forests of the Mississippi, some clad in skins, and some in mats woven from a kind of wild vine.

Seven brigantines were finished and launched; and, trusting their lives on board these frail vessels, they descended the Mississippi, running the gantlet between hostile tribes, who fiercely attacked them. Reaching the Gulf, though not without the loss of eleven of their number, they made sail for the Spanish settlement on the river Panuco, where they arrived safely, and where the inhabitants met them with a cordial welcome. Three hundred and eleven men thus escaped with life, leaving behind them the bones of their comrades strewn broadcast through the wilderness. [7]

De Soto's fate proved an insufficient warning, for those were still found who begged a fresh commission for the conquest of Florida; but the Emperor would not hear them. A more pacific enterprise was undertaken by Cancello, a Dominican monk, who with several brother ecclesiastics undertook to convert the natives to the true faith, but was murdered in the attempt. Nine years later, a plan was formed for the colonization of Florida, and Guido de las Bazares sailed to explore the coasts, and find a spot suitable for the establishment. [8] After his return, a squadron, commanded by Angel de Villafane, and freighted with supplies and men, put to sea from San Juan d'Ulloa; but the elements were adverse, and the result was a total failure. Not a Spaniard had yet gained foothold in Florida.

That name, as the Spaniards of that day understood it, comprehended the whole country extending from the Atlantic on the east to the longitude of New Mexico on the west, and from the Gulf of Mexico and the River of Palms indefinitely northward towards the polar sea. This vast territory was claimed by Spain in right of the discoveries of Columbus, the grant of the Pope, and the various expeditions mentioned above. England claimed it in right of the discoveries of Cabot; while France could advance no better title than might be derived from the voyage of Verazzano and vague traditions of earlier visits of Breton adventurers.

With restless jealousy Spain watched the domain which she could not occupy, and on France especially she kept an eye of deep distrust. When, in 1541, Cartier and Roberval essayed to plant a colony in the part of ancient Spanish Florida now called Canada, she sent spies and fitted out caravels to watch that abortive enterprise. Her fears proved just. Canada, indeed, was long to remain a solitude; but, despite the Papal bounty gifting Spain with exclusive ownership of a hemisphere, France and Heresy at length took root in the sultry forests of modern Florida.



CHAPTER II

1550-1558.

VILLEGAGNON.

In the middle of the sixteenth century, Spain was the incubus of Europe. Gloomy and portentous, she chilled the world with her baneful shadow. Her old feudal liberties were gone, absorbed in the despotism of Madrid. A tyranny of monks and inquisitors, with their swarms of spies and informers, their racks, their dungeons, and their fagots, crushed all freedom of thought or speech; and, while the Dominican held his reign of terror and force, the deeper Jesuit guided the mind from infancy into those narrow depths of bigotry from which it was never to escape. Commercial despotism was joined to political and religious despotism. The hands of the government were on every branch of industry. Perverse regulations, uncertain and ruinous taxes, monopolies, encouragements, prohibitions, restrictions, cramped the national energy. Mistress of the Indies, Spain swarmed with beggars. Yet, verging to decay, she had an ominous and appalling strength. Her condition was that of an athletic man penetrated with disease, which had not yet unstrung the thews and sinews formed in his days of vigor. Philip the Second could command the service of warriors and statesmen developed in the years that were past. The gathered energies of ruined feudalism were wielded by a single hand. The mysterious King, in his den in the Escorial, dreary and silent, and bent like a scribe over his papers, was the type and the champion of arbitrary power. More than the Pope himself, he was the head of Catholicity. In doctrine and in deed, the inexorable bigotry of Madrid was ever in advance of Rome.

Not so with France. She was full of life,—a discordant and struggling vitality. Her monks and priests, unlike those of Spain, were rarely either fanatics or bigots; yet not the less did they ply the rack and the fagot, and howl for heretic blood. Their all was at stake: their vast power, their bloated wealth, were wrapped up in the ancient faith. Men were burned, and women buried alive. All was in vain. To the utmost bounds of France, the leaven of the Reform was working. The Huguenots, fugitives from torture and death, found an asylum at Geneva, their city of refuge, gathering around Calvin, their great high-priest. Thence intrepid colporteurs, their lives in their hands, bore the Bible and the psalm-book to city, hamlet, and castle, to feed the rising flame. The scattered churches, pressed by a common danger, began to organize. An ecclesiastical republic spread its ramifications through France, and grew underground to a vigorous life,—pacific at the outset, for the great body of its members were the quiet bourgeoisie, by habit, as by faith, averse to violence. Yet a potent fraction of the warlike noblesse were also of the new faith; and above them all, preeminent in character as in station, stood Gaspar de Coligny, Admiral of France.

The old palace of the Louvre, reared by the "Roi Chevalier" on the site of those dreary feudal towers which of old had guarded the banks of the Seine, held within its sculptured masonry the worthless brood of Valois. Corruption and intrigue ran riot at the court. Factious nobles, bishops, and cardinals, with no God but pleasure and ambition, contended around the throne or the sick-bed of the futile King. Catherine de Medicis, with her stately form, her mean spirit, her bad heart, and her fathomless depths of duplicity, strove by every subtle art to hold the balance of power among them. The bold, pitiless, insatiable Guise, and his brother the Cardinal of Lorraine, the incarnation of falsehood, rested their ambition on the Catholic party. Their army was a legion of priests, and the black swarms of countless monasteries, who by the distribution of alms held in pay the rabble of cities and starving peasants on the lands of impoverished nobles. Montmorency, Conde, and Navarre leaned towards the Reform,—doubtful and inconstant chiefs, whose faith weighed light against their interests. Yet, amid vacillation, selfishness, weakness, treachery, one great man was like a tower of trust, and this was Gaspar de Coligny.

Firm in his convictions, steeled by perils and endurance, calm, sagacious, resolute, grave even to severity, a valiant and redoubted soldier, Coligny looked abroad on the gathering storm and read its danger in advance. He saw a strange depravity of manners; bribery and violence overriding justice; discontented nobles, and peasants ground down with taxes. In the midst of this rottenness, the Calvinistic churches, patient and stern, were fast gathering to themselves the better life of the nation. Among and around them tossed the surges of clerical hate. Luxurious priests and libertine monks saw their disorders rebuked by the grave virtues of the Protestant zealots. Their broad lands, their rich endowments, their vessels of silver and of gold, their dominion over souls,—in itself a revenue,—were all imperiled by the growing heresy. Nor was the Reform less exacting, less intolerant, or, when its hour came, less aggressive than the ancient faith. The storm was thickening, and it must burst soon.

When the Emperor Charles the Fifth beleaguered Algiers, his camps were deluged by a blinding tempest, and at its height the infidels made a furious sally. A hundred Knights of Malta, on foot, wearing over their armor surcoats of crimson blazoned with the white cross, bore the brunt of the assault. Conspicuous among them was Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon. A Moorish cavalier, rushing upon him, pierced his arm with a lance, and wheeled to repeat the blow; but the knight leaped on the infidel, stabbed him with his dagger, flung him from his horse, and mounted in his place. Again, a Moslem host landed in Malta and beset the Cite Notable. The garrison was weak, disheartened, and without a leader. Villegagnon with six followers, all friends of his own, passed under cover of night through the infidel leaguer, climbed the walls by ropes lowered from above, took command, repaired the shattered towers, aiding with his own hands in the work, and animated the garrison to a resistance so stubborn that the besiegers lost heart and betook themselves to their galleys. No less was he an able and accomplished mariner, prominent among that chivalry of the sea who held the perilous verge of Christendom against the Mussuhuan. He claimed other laurels than those of the sword. He was a scholar, a linguist, a controversialist, potent with the tongue and with the pen, commanding in presence, eloquent and persuasive in discourse. Yet this Crichton of France had proved himself an associate nowise desirable. His sleepless intellect was matched with a spirit as restless, vain, unstable, and ambitious, as it was enterprising and bold. Addicted to dissent, and enamoured of polemics, he entered those forbidden fields of inquiry and controversy to which the Reform invited him. Undaunted by his monastic vows, he battled for heresy with tongue and pen, and in the ear of Protestants professed himself a Protestant. As a Commander of his Order, he quarreled with the Grand Master, a domineering Spaniard; and, as Vice-Admiral of Brittany, he was deep in a feud with the Governor of Brest. Disgusted at home, his fancy crossed the seas. He aspired to build for France and himself an empire amid the tropical splendors of Brazil. Few could match him in the gift of persuasion; and the intrepid seamen whose skill and valor had run the gantlet of the English fleet, and borne Mary Stuart of Scotland in safety to her espousals with the Dauphin, might well be intrusted with a charge of moment so far inferior. Henry the Second was still on the throne. The lance of Montgomery had not yet rid France of that infliction. To win a share in the rich domain of the New World, of which Portuguese and Spanish arrogance claimed the monopoly, was the end held by Villegagnon before the eyes of the King. Of the Huguenots, he said not a word. For Coligny he had another language. He spoke of an asylum for persecuted religion, a Geneva in the wilderness, far from priests and monks and Francis of Guise. The Admiral gave him a ready ear; if, indeed, he himself had not first conceived the plan. Yet to the King, an active burner of Huguenots, Coligny too urged it as an enterprise, not for the Faith, but for France. In secret, Geneva was made privy to it, and Calvin himself embraced it with zeal. The enterprise, in fact, had a double character, political as well as religious. It was the reply of France, the most emphatic she had yet made, to the Papal bull which gave all the western hemisphere to Portugal and Spain; and, as if to point her answer, she sent, not Frenchmen only, but Protestant Frenchmen, to plant the fleur-de-lis on the shores of the New World.

Two vessels were made ready, in the name of the King. The body of the emigration was Huguenot, mingled with young nobles, restless, idle, and poor, with reckless artisans, and piratical sailors from the Norman and Breton seaports. They put to sea from Havre on the twelfth of July, 1555, and early in November saw the shores of Brazil. Entering the harbor of Rio Janeiro, then called Ganabara, Villegagnon landed men and stores on an island, built huts, and threw up earthworks. In anticipation of future triumphs, the whole continent, by a strange perversion of language, was called Antarctic France, while the fort received the name of Coligny.

Villegagnon signalized his new-born Protestantism by an intolerable solicitude for the manners and morals of his followers. The whip and the pillory requited the least offence. The wild and discordant crew, starved and flogged for a season into submission, conspired at length to rid themselves of him; but while they debated whether to poison him, blow him up, or murder him and his officers in their sleep, three Scotch soldiers, probably Calvinists, revealed the plot, and the vigorous hand of the commandant crushed it in the bud.

But how was the colony to subsist? Their island was too small for culture, while the mainland was infested with hostile tribes, and threatened by the Portuguese, who regarded the French occupancy as a violation of their domain.

Meanwhile, in France, Huguenot influence, aided by ardent letters sent home by Villegagnon in the returning ships, was urging on the work. Nor were the Catholic chiefs averse to an enterprise which, by colonizing heresy, might tend to relieve France of its presence. Another embarkation was prepared, in the name of Henry the Second, under Bois-Lecomte, a nephew of Villegagnon. Most of the emigrants were Huguenots. Geneva sent a large deputation, and among them several ministers, full of zeal for their land of promise and their new church in the wilderness. There were five young women, also, with a matron to watch over them. Soldiers, emigrants, and sailors, two hundred and ninety in all, were embarked in three vessels; and, to the sound of cannon, drums, fifes, and trumpets, they unfurled their sails at Honfleur. They were no sooner on the high seas than the piratical character of the Norman sailors, in no way exceptional at that day, began to declare itself. They hailed every vessel weaker than themselves, pretended to be short of provisions, and demanded leave to buy them; then, boarding the stranger, plundered her from stem to stern. After a passage of four months, on the ninth of March, 1557, they entered the port of Ganabara, and saw the fleur-de-lis floating above the walls of Fort Coligny. Amid salutes of cannon, the boats, crowded with sea-worn emigrants, moved towards the landing. It was an edifying scene when Villegagnon, in the picturesque attire which marked the warlike nobles of the period, came down to the shore to greet the sombre ministers of Calvin. With hands uplifted and eyes raised to heaven, he bade them welcome to the new asylum of the faithful; then launched into a long harangue full of zeal and unction. His discourse finished, he led the way to the dining-hall. If the redundancy of spiritual aliment had surpassed their expectations, the ministers were little prepared for the meagre provision which awaited their temporal cravings; for, with appetites whetted by the sea, they found themselves seated at a board whereof, as one of them complains the choicest dish was a dried fish, and the only beverage rain-water. They found their consolation in the inward graces of the commandant, whom they likened to the Apostle Paul.

For a time all was ardor and hope. Men of birth and station, and the ministers themselves, labored with pick and shovel to finish the fort. Every day exhortations, sermons, prayers, followed in close succession, and Villegagnon was always present, kneeling on a velvet cushion brought after him by a page. Soon, however, he fell into sharp controversy with the ministers upon points of faith. Among the emigrants was a student of the Sorbonne, one Cointac, between whom and the ministers arose a fierce and unintermitted war of words. Is it lawful to mix water with the wine of the Eucharist? May the sacramental bread be made of meal of Indian corn? These and similar points of dispute filled the fort with wranglings, begetting cliques, factions, and feuds without number. Villegagnon took part with the student, and between them they devised a new doctrine, abhorrent alike to Geneva and to Rome. The advent of this nondescript heresy was the signal of redoubled strife. The dogmatic stiffness of the Geneva ministers chafed Villegagnon to fury. He felt himself, too, in a false position. On one side he depended on the Protestant, Coligny; on the other, he feared the Court. There were Catholics in the colony who might report him as an open heretic. On this point his doubts were set at rest; for a ship from France brought him a letter from the Cardinal of Lorraine, couched, it is said, in terms which restored him forthwith to the bosom of the Church. Villegagnon now affirmed that he had been deceived in Calvin, and pronounced him a "frightful heretic." He became despotic beyond measure, and would bear no opposition. The ministers, reduced nearly to starvation, found themselves under a tyranny worse than that from which they had fled.

At length he drove them from the fort, and forced them to bivouac on the mainland, at the risk of being butchered by Indians, until a vessel loading with Brazil-wood in the harbor should be ready to carry them back to France. Having rid himself of the ministers, he caused three of the more zealous Calvinists to be seized, dragged to the edge of a rock, and thrown into the sea. A fourth, equally obnoxious, but who, being a tailor, could ill be spared, was permitted to live on condition of recantation. Then, mustering the colonists, he warned them to shun the heresies of Luther and Calvin; threatened that all who openly professed those detestable doctrines should share the fate of their three comrades; and, his harangue over, feasted the whole assembly, in token, says the narrator, of joy and triumph.

Meanwhile, in their crazy vessel, the banished ministers drifted slowly on their way. Storms fell upon them, their provisions failed, their water-casks were empty, and, tossing in the wilderness of waves, or rocking on the long swells of subsiding gales, they sank almost to despair. In their famine they chewed the Brazil-wood with which the vessel was laden, devoured every scrap of leather, singed and ate the horn of lanterns, hunted rats through the hold, and sold them to each other at enormous prices. At length, stretched on the deck, sick, listless, attenuated, and scarcely able to move a limb, they descried across the waste of sea the faint, cloud-like line that marked the coast of Brittany. Their perils were not past; for, if we may believe one of them, Jean de Lery, they bore a sealed letter from Villegagnon to the magistrates of the first French port at which they might arrive. It denounced them as heretics, worthy to be burned. Happily, the magistrates leaned to the Reform, and the malice of the commandant failed of its victims.

Villegagnon himself soon sailed for France, leaving the wretched colony to its fate. He presently entered the lists against Calvin, and engaged him in a hot controversial war, in which, according to some of his contemporaries, the knight often worsted the theologian at his own weapons. Before the year 1558 was closed, Ganabara fell a prey to the Portuguese. They set upon it in force, battered down the fort, and slew the feeble garrison, or drove them to a miserable refuge among the Indians. Spain and Portugal made good their claim to the vast domain, the mighty vegetation, and undeveloped riches of "Antarctic France."



CHAPTER III.

1562, 1563.

JEAN RIBAUT.

In the year 1562 a cloud of black and deadly portent was thickening over France. Surely and swiftly she glided towards the abyss of the religious wars. None could pierce the future, perhaps none dared to contemplate it: the wild rage of fanaticism and hate, friend grappling with friend, brother with brother, father with son; altars profaned, hearth-stones made desolate, the robes of Justice herself bedrenched with murder. In the gloom without lay Spain, imminent and terrible. As on the hill by the field of Dreux, her veteran bands of pikemen, dark masses of organized ferocity, stood biding their time while the battle surged below, and then swept downward to the slaughter,—so did Spain watch and wait to trample and crush the hope of humanity.

In these days of fear, a second Huguenot colony sailed for the New World. The calm, stern man who represented and led the Protestantism of France felt to his inmost heart the peril of the time. He would fain build up a city of refuge for the persecuted sect. Yet Gaspar de Coligny, too high in power and rank to be openly assailed, was forced to act with caution. He must act, too, in the name of the Crown, and in virtue of his office of Admiral of France. A nobleman and a soldier,—for the Admiral of France was no seaman,—he shared the ideas and habits of his class; nor is there reason to believe him to have been in advance of his time in a knowledge of the principles of successful colonization. His scheme promised a military colony, not a free commonwealth. The Huguenot party was already a political as well as a religious party. At its foundation lay the religious element, represented by Geneva, the martyrs, and the devoted fugitives who sang the psalms of Marot among rocks and caverns. Joined to these were numbers on whom the faith sat lightly, whose hope was in commotion and change. Of the latter, in great part, was the Huguenot noblesse, from Conde, who aspired to the crown,

"Ce petit homme tant joli, Qui toujours chante, toujours rit,"

to the younger son of the impoverished seigneur whose patrimony was his sword. More than this, the restless, the factious, and the discontented, began to link their fortunes to a party whose triumph would involve confiscation of the wealth of the only rich class in France. An element of the great revolution was already mingling in the strife of religions.

America was still a land of wonder. The ancient spell still hung unbroken over the wild, vast world of mystery beyond the sea,—a land of romance, adventure, and gold.

Fifty-eight years later the Puritans landed on the sands of Massachusetts Bay. The illusion was gone,—the ignis fatuus of adventure, the dream of wealth. The rugged wilderness offered only a stern and hard won independence. In their own hearts, and not in the promptings of a great leader or the patronage of an equivocal government, their enterprise found its birth and its achievement. They were of the boldest and most earnest of their sect. There were such among the French disciples of Calvin; but no Mayflower ever sailed from a port of France. Coligny's colonists were of a different stamp, and widely different was their fate.

An excellent seaman and stanch Protestant, Jean Ribaut of Dieppe, commanded the expedition. Under him, besides sailors, were a band of veteran soldiers, and a few young nobles. Embarked in two of those antiquated craft whose high poops and tub-like porportions are preserved in the old engravings of De Bry, they sailed from Havre on the eighteenth of February, 1562. They crossed the Atlantic, and on the thirtieth of April, in the latitude of twenty-nine and a half degrees, saw the long, low line where the wilderness of waves met the wilderness of woods. It was the coast of Florida. They soon descried a jutting point, which they called French Cape, perhaps one of the headlands of Matanzas Inlet. They turned their prows northward, coasting the fringes of that waste of verdure which rolled in shadowy undulation far to the unknown West.

On the next morning, the first of May, they found themselves off the mouth of a great river. Riding at anchor on a sunny sea, they lowered their boats, crossed the bar that obstructed the entrance, and floated on a basin of deep and sheltered water, "boyling and roaring," says Ribaut, "through the multitude of all kind of fish." Indians were running along the beach, and out upon the sand-bars, beckoning them to land. They pushed their boats ashore and disembarked,—sailors, soldiers, and eager young nobles. Corselet and morion, arquebuse and halberd, flashed in the sun that flickered through innumerable leaves, as, kneeling on the ground, they gave thanks to God, who had guided their voyage to an issue full of promise. The Indians, seated gravely under the neighboring trees, looked on in silent respect, thinking that they worshipped the sun. "They be all naked and of a goodly stature, mightie, and as well shapen and proportioned of body as any people in ye world; and the fore part of their body and armes be painted with pretie deuised workes, of Azure, red, and blacke, so well and so properly as the best Painter of Europe could not amende it." With their squaws and children, they presently drew near, and, strewing the earth with laurel boughs, sat down among the Frenchmen. Their visitors were much pleased with them, and Ribaut gave the chief, whom he calls the king, a robe of blue cloth, worked in yellow with the regal fleur-de-lis.

But Ribaut and his followers, just escaped from the dull prison of their ships, were intent on admiring the wild scenes around them. Never had they known a fairer May-day. The quaint old narrative is exuberant with delight. The tranquil air, the warm sun, woods fresh with young verdure, meadows bright with flowers; the palm, the cypress, the pine, the magnolia; the grazing deer; herons, curlews, bitterns, woodcock, and unknown water-fowl that waded in the ripple of the beach; cedars bearded from crown to root with long, gray moss; huge oaks smothering in the folds of enormous grapevines;—such were the objects that greeted them in their roamings, till their new-discovered land seemed "the fairest, fruitfullest, and pleasantest of al the world."

They found a tree covered with caterpillars, and hereupon the ancient black-letter says: "Also there be Silke wormes in meruielous number, a great deale fairer and better then be our silk wormes. To bee short, it is a thing vnspeakable to consider the thinges that bee seene there, and shalbe founde more and more in this incomperable lande." [9]

Above all, it was plain to their excited fancy that the country was rich in gold and silver, turquoises and pearls. One of these last, "as great as an Acorne at ye least," hung from the neck of an Indian who stood near their boats as they re-embarked. They gathered, too, from the signs of their savage visitors, that the wonderful land of Cibola, with its seven cities and its untold riches, was distant but twenty days' journey by water. In truth, it was two thousand miles westward, and its wealth a fable.

They named the river the River of May. It is now the St. John's. "And on the next morning," says Ribault, "we returned to land againe, accompanied with the Captaines, Gentlemen, and Souldiers, and others of our small troope, carrying with us a Pillour or columne of harde stone, our king's armes graved therein, to plant and set the same in the enterie of the Porte; and being come thither we espied on the south syde of the River a place very fitte for that purpose upon a little hill compassed with Cypres, Bayes, Paulmes, and other trees, with sweete smelling and pleasant shrubbes." Here they set the column, and then, again embarking, held their course northward, happy in that benign decree which locks from mortal eyes the secrets of the future.

Next they anchored near Fernandina, and to a neighboring river, probably the St. Mary's, gave the name of the Seine. Here, as morning broke on the fresh, moist meadows hung with mists, and on broad reaches of inland waters which seemed like lakes, they were tempted to land again, and soon "espied an innumerable number of footesteps of great Hartes and Hindes of a wonderfull greatnesse, the steppes being all fresh and new, and it seemeth that the people doe nourish them like tame Cattell." By two or three weeks of exploration they seem to have gained a clear idea of this rich semi-aquatic region. Ribaut describes it as "a countrie full of hauens, riuers, and Ilands, of such fruitfulnes as cannot with tongue be expressed." Slowly moving northward, they named each river, or inlet supposed to be a river, after some stream of France,—the Loire, the Charente, the Garonne, the Gironde. At length, opening betwixt flat and sandy shores, they saw a commodious haven, and named it Port Royal.

On the twenty-seventh of May they crossed the bar where the war-ships of Dupont crossed three hundred years later, passed Hilton Head, and held their course along the peaceful bosom of Broad River. [10] On the left they saw a stream which they named Libourne, probably Skull Creek; on the right, a wide river, probably the Beaufort. When they landed, all was solitude. The frightened Indians had fled, but they lured them back with knives, beads, and looking-glasses, and enticed two of them on board their ships. Here, by feeding, clothing, and caressing them, they tried to wean them from their fears, thinking to carry them to France, in obedience to a command of Catherine de Medicis; but the captive warriors moaned and lamented day and night, and at length made their escape.

Ranging the woods, they found them full of game, wild turkeys and partridges, bears and lynxes. Two deer, of unusual size, leaped from the underbrush. Cross-bow and arquebuse were brought to the level; but the Huguenot captain, "moved with the singular fairness and bigness of them," forbade his men to shoot.

Preliminary exploration, not immediate settlement, had been the object of the voyage; but all was still rose-color in the eyes of the voyagers, and many of their number would gladly linger in the New Canaan. Ribaut was more than willing to humor them. He mustered his company on deck, and made them a harangue. He appealed to their courage and their patriotism, told them how, from a mean origin, men rise by enterprise and daring to fame and fortune, and demanded who among them would stay behind and hold Port Royal for the King. The greater part came forward, and "with such a good will and joly corage," writes the commander, "as we had much to do to stay their importunitie." Thirty were chosen, and Albert de Pierria was named to command them.

A fort was begun on a small stream called the Chenonceau, probably Archer's Creek, about six miles from the site of Beaufort. [11] They named it Charlesfort, in honor of the unhappy son of Catherine de Medicis, Charles the Ninth, the future hero of St. Bartholomew. Ammunition and stores were sent on shore, and on the eleventh of June, with his diminished company, Ribaut again embarked and spread his sails for France.

From the beach at Hilton Head, Albert and his companions might watch the receding ships, growing less and less on the vast expanse of blue, dwindling to faint specks, then vanishing on the pale verge of the waters. They were alone in those fearful solitudes. From the north pole to Mexico there was no Christian denizen but they.

The pressing question was how they were to subsist. Their thought was not of subsistence, but of gold. Of the thirty, the greater number were soldiers and sailors, with a few gentlemen; that is to say, men of the sword, born within the pale of nobility, who at home could neither labor nor trade without derogation from their rank. For a time they busied themselves with finishing their fort, and, this done, set forth in quest of adventures.

The Indians had lost fear of them. Ribaut had enjoined upon them to use all kindness and gentleness in their dealing with the men of the woods; and they more than obeyed him. They were soon hand and glove with chiefs, warriors, and squaws; and as with Indians the adage that familiarity breeds contempt holds with peculiar force, they quickly divested themselves of the prestige which had attached at the outset to their supposed character of children of the Sun. Good-will, however, remained, and this the colonists abused to the utmost.

Roaming by river, swamp, and forest, they visited in turn the villages of five petty chiefs, whom they called kings, feasting everywhere on hominy, beans, and game, and loaded with gifts. One of these chiefs, named Audusta, invited them to the grand religious festival of his tribe. When they arrived, they found the village alive with preparation, and troops of women busied in sweeping the great circular area where the ceremonies were to take place. But as the noisy and impertinent guests showed a disposition to undue merriment, the chief shut them all in his wigwam, lest their Gentile eyes should profane the mysteries. Here, immured in darkness, they listened to the howls, yelpings, and lugubrious songs that resounded from without. One of them, however, by some artifice, contrived to escape, hid behind a bush, and saw the whole solemnity,—the procession of the medicinemen and the bedaubed and befeathered warriors; the drumming, dancing, and stamping; the wild lamentation of the women as they gashed the arms of the young girls with sharp mussel-shells, and flung the blood into the air with dismal outcries. A scene of ravenous feasting followed, in which the French, released from durance, were summoned to share.

After the carousal they returned to Charlesfort, where they were soon pinched with hunger. The Indians, never niggardly of food, brought them supplies as long as their own lasted; but the harvest was not yet ripe, and their means did not match their good-will. They told the French of two other kings, Ouade and Couexis, who dwelt towards the south, and were rich beyond belief in maize, beans, and squashes. The mendicant colonists embarked without delay, and, with an Indian guide, steered for the wigwams of these potentates, not by the open sea, but by a perplexing inland navigation, including, as it seems, Calibogue Sound and neighboring waters. Reaching the friendly villages, on or near the Savannah, they were feasted to repletion, and their boat was laden with vegetables and corn. They returned rejoicing; but their joy was short. Their store-house at Charlesfort, taking fire in the night, burned to the ground, and with it their newly acquired stock.

Once more they set out for the realms of King Ouade, and once more returned laden with supplies. Nay, the generous savage assured them that, so long as his cornfields yielded their harvests, his friends should not want.

How long this friendship would have lasted may well be doubted. With the perception that the dependants on their bounty were no demigods, but a crew of idle and helpless beggars, respect would soon have changed to contempt, and contempt to ill-will. But it was not to Indian war-clubs that the infant colony was to owe its ruin. It carried within itself its own destruction. The ill-assorted band of lands-men and sailors, surrounded by that influence of the wilderness which wakens the dormant savage in the breasts of men, soon fell into quarrels. Albert, a rude soldier, with a thousand leagues of ocean betwixt him and responsibility, grew harsh, domineering, and violent beyond endurance. None could question or oppose him without peril of death. He hanged with his own hands a drummer who had fallen under his displeasure, and banished a soldier, named La Chore, to a solitary island, three leagues from the fort, where he left him to starve. For a time his comrades chafed in smothered fury. The crisis came at length. A few of the fiercer spirits leagued together, assailed their tyrant, murdered him, delivered the famished soldier, and called to the command one Nicolas Barre, a man of merit. Barre took the command, and thenceforth there was peace.

Peace, such as it was, with famine, homesickness, and disgust. The rough ramparts and rude buildings of Charlesfort, hatefully familiar to their weary eyes, the sweltering forest, the glassy river, the eternal silence of the lifeless wilds around them, oppressed the senses and the spirits. They dreamed of ease, of home, of pleasures across the sea, of the evening cup on the bench before the cabaret, and dances with kind wenches of Dieppe. But how to escape? A continent was their solitary prison, and the pitiless Atlantic shut them in. Not one of them knew how to build a ship; but Ribaut had left them a forge, with tools and iron, and strong desire supplied the place of skill. Trees were hewn down and the work begun. Had they put forth to maintain themselves at Port Royal the energy and resource which they exerted to escape from it, they might have laid the cornerstone of a solid colony.

All, gentle and simple, labored with equal zeal. They calked the seams with the long moss which hung in profusion from the neighboring trees; the pines supplied them with pitch; the Indians made for them a kind of cordage; and for sails they sewed together their shirts and bedding. At length a brigantine worthy of Robinson Crusoe floated on the waters of the Chenonceau. They laid in what provision they could, gave all that remained of their goods to the Indians, embarked, descended the river, and put to sea. A fair wind filled their patchwork sails and bore them from the hated coast. Day after day they held their course, till at length the breeze died away and a breathless calm fell on the waters. Florida was far behind; France farther yet before.

Floating idly on the glassy waste, the craft lay motionless. Their supplies gave out. Twelve kernels of maize a day were each man's portion; then the maize failed, and they ate their shoes and leather jerkins. The water-barrels were drained, and they tried to slake their thirst with brine. Several died, and the rest, giddy with exhaustion and crazed with thirst, were forced to ceaseless labor, bailing out the water that gushed through every seam. Head-winds set in, increasing to a gale, and the wretched brigantine, with sails close-reefed, tossed among the savage billows at the mercy of the storm. A heavy sea rolled down upon her, and burst the bulwarks on the windward side. The surges broke over her, and, clinging with desperate grip to spars and cordage, the drenched voyagers gave up all for lost. At length she righted. The gale subsided, the wind changed, and the crazy, water-logged vessel again bore slowly towards France.

Gnawed with famine, they counted the leagues of barren ocean that still stretched before, and gazed on each other with haggard wolfish eyes, till a whisper passed from man to man that one, by his death, might ransom all the rest. The lot was cast, and it fell on La Chore, the same wretched man whom Albert had doomed to starvation on a lonely island. They killed him, and with ravenous avidity portioned out his flesh. The hideous repast sustained them till the land rose in sight, when, it is said, in a delirium of joy, they could no longer steer their vessel, but let her drift at the will of the tide. A small English bark bore down upon them, took them all on board, and, after landing the feeblest, carried the rest prisoners to Queen Elizabeth. [12]

Thus closed another of those scenes of woe whose lurid clouds are thickly piled around the stormy dawn of American history. It was the opening act of a wild and tragic drama.



CHAPTER IV.

1564.

LAUDONNIERE.



ON the twenty-fifth of June, 1564, a French squadron anchored a second time off the mouth of the River of May. There were three vessels, the smallest of sixty tons, the largest of one hundred and twenty, all crowded with men. Rene de Laudonniere held command. He was of a noble race of Poiton, attached to the house of Chatillon, of which Coligny was the head; pious, we are told, and an excellent marine officer. An engraving, purporting to be his likeness, shows us a slender figure, leaning against the mast, booted to the thigh, with slouched hat and plume, slashed doublet, and short cloak. His thin oval face, with curled moustache and close-trimmed beard, wears a somewhat pensive look, as if already shadowed by the destiny that awaited him.

The intervening year since Ribaut's voyage had been a dark year for France. From the peaceful solitude of the River of May, that voyager returned to a land reeking with slaughter. But the carnival of bigotry and hate had found a pause. The Peace of Amboise had been signed. The fierce monk choked down his venom; the soldier sheathed his sword, the assassin his dagger; rival chiefs grasped hands, and masked their rancor under hollow smiles. The king and the queen-mother, helpless amid the storm of factions which threatened their destruction, smiled now on Conde, now on Guise,—gave ear to the Cardinal of Lorraine, or listened in secret to the emissaries of Theodore Beza. Coligny was again strong at Court. He used his opportunity, and solicited with success the means of renewing his enterprise of colonization.

Men were mustered for the work. In name, at least, they were all Huguenots yet now, as before, the staple of the projected colony was unsound,—soldiers, paid out of the royal treasury, hired artisans and tradesmen, with a swarm of volunteers from the young Huguenot nobles, whose restless swords had rusted in their scabbards since the peace. The foundation-stone was forgotten. There were no tillers of the soil. Such, indeed, were rare among the Huegonots; for the dull peasants who guided the plough clung with blind tenacity to the ancient faith. Adventurous gentlemen, reckless soldiers, discontented tradesmen, all keen for novelty and heated with dreams of wealth,—these were they who would build for their country and their religion an empire beyond the sea.

On Thursday, the twenty-second of June, Laudonniere saw the low coast-line of Florida, and entered the harbor of St. Augustine, which he named the River of Dolphins, "because that at mine arrival I saw there a great number of Dolphins which were playing in the mouth thereof." Then he bore northward, following the coast till, on the twenty-fifth, he reached the mouth of the St. John's or River of May. The vessels anchored, the boats were lowered, and he landed with his principal followers on the south shore, near the present village of Mayport. It was the very spot where he had landed with Ribaut two years before. They were scarcely on shore when they saw an Indian chief, "which having espied us cryed very far off, Antipola! Antipola! and being so joyful that he could not containe himselfe, he came to meet us accompanied with two of his sonnes, as faire and mightie persons as might be found in al the world. There was in their trayne a great number of men and women which stil made very much of us, and by signes made us understand how glad they were of our arrival. This good entertainment past, the Paracoussy [chief] prayed me to goe see the pillar which we had erected in the voyage of John Ribault." The Indians, regarding it with mysterious awe, had crowned it with evergreens, and placed baskets full of maize before it as an offering.

The chief then took Laudonniere by the hand, telling him that he was named Satouriona, and pointed out the extent of his dominions, far up the river and along the adjacent coasts. One of his sons, a man "perfect in beautie, wisedome, and honest sobrietie," then gave the French commander a wedge of silver, and received some trifles in return, after which the voyagers went back to their ships. "I prayse God continually," says Laudonniere, "for the great love I have found in these savages."

In the morning the French landed again, and found their new friends on the same spot, to the number of eighty or more, seated under a shelter of boughs, in festal attire of smoke-tanned deer-skins, painted in many colors. The party then rowed up the river, the Indians following them along the shore. As they advanced, coasting the borders of a great marsh that lay upon their left, the St. John's spread before them in vast sheets of glistening water, almost level with its flat, sedgy shores, the haunt of alligators, and the resort of innumerable birds. Beyond the marsh, some five miles from the mouth of the river, they saw a ridge of high ground abutting on the water, which, flowing beneath in a deep, strong current, had undermined it, and left a steep front of yellowish sand. This was the hill now called St. John's Bluff. Here they landed and entered the woods, where Laudonniere stopped to rest while his lieutenant, Ottigny, with a sergeant and a few soldiers, went to explore the country.

They pushed their way through the thickets till they were stopped by a marsh choked with reeds, at the edge of which, under a great laurel-tree, they had seated themselves to rest, overcome with the summer heat, when five Indians suddenly appeared, peering timidly at them from among the bushes. Some of the men went towards them with signs of friendship, on which, taking heart, they drew near, and one of them, who was evidently a chief, made a long speech, inviting the strangers to their dwellings. The way was across the marsh, through which they carried the lieutenant and two or three of the soldiers on their backs, while the rest circled by a narrow path through the woods. When they reached the lodges, a crowd of Indians came out "to receive our men gallantly, and feast them after their manner." One of them brought a large earthen vessel full of spring water, which was served out to each in turn in a wooden cup. But what most astonished the French was a venerable chief, who assured them that he was the father of five successive generations, and that he had lived two hundred and fifty years. Opposite sat a still more ancient veteran, the father of the first, shrunken to a mere anatomy, and "seeming to be rather a dead carkeis than a living body." "Also," pursues the history, "his age was so great that the good man had lost his sight, and could not speak one onely word but with exceeding great paine." In spite of his dismal condition, the visitors were told that he might expect to live, in the course of nature, thirty or forty years more. As the two patriarchs sat face to face, half hidden with their streaming white hair, Ottigny and his credulous soldiers looked from one to the other, lost in speechless admiration.

One of these veterans made a parting present to his guests of two young eagles, and Ottigny and his followers returned to report what they had seen. Laudonniere was waiting for them on the side of the hill; and now, he says, "I went right to the toppe thereof, where we found nothing else but Cedars, Palme, and Baytrees of so sovereigne odour that Baulme smelleth nothing like in comparison." From this high standpoint they surveyed their Canaan. The unruffled river lay before them, with its marshy islands overgrown with sedge and bulrushes; while on the farther side the flat, green meadows spread mile on mile, veined with countless creeks and belts of torpid water, and bounded leagues away by the verge of the dim pine forest. On the right, the sea glistened along the horizon; and on the left, the St. John's stretched westward between verdant shores, a highway to their fancied Eldorado. "Briefly," writes Laudonniere, "the place is so pleasant that those which are melancholicke would be inforced to change their humour."

On their way back to the ships they stopped for another parley with the chief Satouriona, and Laudonniere eagerly asked where he had got the wedge of silver that he gave him in the morning. The chief told him by signs, that he had taken it in war from a people called Thimagoas, who lived higher up the River, and who were his mortal enemies; on which the French captain had the folly to promise that he would join in an expedition against them. Satouriona was delighted, and declared that, if he kept his word, he should have gold and silver to his heart's content.

Man and nature alike seemed to mark the borders of the River of May as the site of the new colony; for here, around the Indian towns, the harvests of maize, beans, and pumpkins promised abundant food, while the river opened a ready way to the mines of gold and silver and the stores of barbaric wealth which glittered before the dreaming vision of the colonists. Yet, the better to satisfy himself and his men, Laudonniere weighed anchor, and sailed for a time along the neighboring coasts. Returning, confirmed in his first impression, he set out with a party of officers and soldiers to explore the borders of the chosen stream. The day was hot. The sun beat fiercely on the woollen caps and heavy doublets of the men, till at length they gained the shade of one of those deep forests of pine where the dead, hot air is thick with resinous odors, and the earth, carpeted with fallen leaves, gives no sound beneath the foot. Yet, in the stillness, deer leaped up on all sides as they moved along. Then they emerged into sunlight. A meadow was before them, a running brook, and a wall of encircling forests. The men called it the Vale of Laudonniere. The afternoon was spent, and the sun was near its setting, when they reached the bank of the river. They strewed the ground with boughs and leaves, and, stretched on that sylvan couch, slept the sleep of travel-worn and weary men.

They were roused at daybreak by sound of trumpet, and after singing a psalm they set themselves to their task. It was the building of a fort, and the spot they chose was a furlong or more above St. John's Bluff, where close to the water was a wide, flat knoll, raised a few feet above the marsh and the river. [13] Boats came up the stream with laborers, tents, provisions, cannon, and tools. The engineers marked out the work in the form of a triangle; and, from the noble volunteer to the meanest artisan, all lent a hand to complete it. On the river side the defences were a palisade of timber. On the two other sides were a ditch, and a rampart of fascines, earth, and sods. At each angle was a bastion, in one of which was the magazine. Within was a spacious parade, around it were various buildings for lodging and storage, and a large house with covered galleries was built on the side towards the river for Laudonniere and his officers. In honor of Charles the Ninth the fort was named Fort Caroline.

Meanwhile Satouriona, "lord of all that country," as the narratives style him, was seized with misgivings on learning these proceedings. The work was scarcely begun, and all was din and confusion around the incipient fort, when the startled Frenchmen saw the neighboring height of St. John's swarming with naked warriors. Laudonniere set his men in array, and for a season, pick and spade were dropped for arquebuse and pike. The savage chief descended to the camp. The artist Le Moyne, who saw him, drew his likeness from memory, a tall, athletic figure, tattooed in token of his rank, plumed, bedecked with strings of beads, and girdled with tinkling pieces of metal which hung from the belt which formed his only garment. He came in regal state, a crowd of warriors around him, and, in advance, a troop of young Indians armed with spears. Twenty musicians followed, blowing hideous discord through pipes of reeds, while he seated himself on the ground "like a monkey," as Le Moyne has it in the grave Latin of his Brevis Narratio. A council followed, in which broken words were aided by signs and pantomime; and a treaty of alliance was made, Laudonniere renewing his rash promise to aid the chief against his enemies. Satouriona, well pleased, ordered his Indians to help the French in their work. They obeyed with alacrity, and in two days the buildings of the fort were all thatched, after the native fashion, with leaves of the palmetto.

These savages belonged to one of the confederacies into which the native tribes of Florida were divided, and with three of which the French came into contact. The first was that of Satouriona; and the second was that of the people called Thimagoas, who, under a chief named Outina, dwelt in forty villages high up the St. John's. The third was that of the chief, cacique, or paracoussy whom the French called King Potanou, and whose dominions lay among the pine barrens, cypress swamps, and fertile hummocks westward and northwestward of this remarkable river. These three confederacies hated each other, and were constantly at war. Their social state was more advanced than that of the wandering hunter tribes. They were an agricultural people, and around all their villages were fields of maize, beans, and pumpkins. The harvest was gathered into a public granary, and they lived on it during three fourths of the year, dispersing in winter to hunt among the forests.

They were exceedingly well formed; the men, or the principal among them, were tattooed on the limbs and body, and in summer were nearly naked. Some wore their straight black hair flowing loose to the waist; others gathered it in a knot at the crown of the head. They danced and sang about the scalps of their enemies, like the tribes of the North; and like them they had their "medicine-men," who combined the functions of physicians, sorcerers, and priests. The most prominent feature of their religion was sun-worship.

Their villages were clusters of large dome-shaped huts, framed with poles and thatched with palmetto leaves. In the midst was the dwelling of the chief, much larger than the rest, and sometimes raised on an artificial mound. They were enclosed with palisades, and, strange to say, some of them were approached by wide avenues, artificially graded, and several hundred yards in length. Traces of these may still be seen, as may also the mounds in which the Floridians, like the Hurons and various other tribes, collected at stated intervals the bones of their dead.

Social distinctions were sharply defined among them. Their chiefs, whose office was hereditary, sometimes exercised a power almost absolute. Each village had its chief, subordinate to the grand chief of the confederacy. In the language of the French narratives, they were all kings or lords, vassals of the great monarch Satouriona, Outina, or Potanou. All these tribes are now extinct, and it is difficult to ascertain with precision their tribal affinities. There can be no doubt that they were the authors of the aboriginal remains at present found in various parts of Florida.

Having nearly finished the fort, Laudonniere declares that he "would not lose the minute of an houre without employing of the same in some vertuous exercise;" and he therefore sent his lieutenant, Ottigny, to spy out the secrets of the interior, and to learn, above all, "what this Thimagoa might be, whereof the Paracoussy Satouriona had spoken to us so often." As Laudonniere stood pledged to attack the Thimagoas, the chief gave Ottigny two Indian guides, who, says the record, were so eager for the fray that they seemed as if bound to a wedding feast.

The lazy waters of the St. John's, tinged to coffee color by the exudations of the swamps, curled before the prow of Ottigny's sail-boat as he advanced into the prolific wilderness which no European eye had ever yet beheld. By his own reckoning, he sailed thirty leagues up the river, which would have brought him to a point not far below Palatka. Here, more than two centuries later, the Bartrams, father and son, guided their skiff and kindled their nightly bivouac-fire; and here, too, roamed Audubon, with his sketch-book and his gun. It was a paradise for the hunter and the naturalist. Earth, air, and water teemed with life, in endless varieties of beauty and ugliness. A half-tropical forest shadowed the low shores, where the palmetto and the cabbage palm mingled with the oak, the maple, the cypress, the liquid-ambar, the laurel, the myrtle, and the broad glistening leaves of the evergreen magnolia. Here was the haunt of bears, wild-cats, lynxes, cougars, and the numberless deer of which they made their prey. In the sedges and the mud the alligator stretched his brutish length; turtles with outstretched necks basked on half-sunken logs; the rattlesnake sunned himself on the sandy bank, and the yet more dangerous moccason lurked under the water-lilies in inlets and sheltered coves. The air and the water were populous as the earth. The river swarmed with fish, from the fierce and restless gar, cased in his horny armor, to the lazy cat-fish in the muddy depths. There were the golden eagle and the white-headed eagle, the gray pelican and the white pelican, the blue heron and the white heron, the egret, the ibis, ducks of various sorts, the whooping crane, the black vulture, and the cormorant; and when at sunset the voyagers drew their boat upon the strand and built their camp-fire under the arches of the woods, the owls whooped around them all night long, and when morning came the sultry mists that wrapped the river were vocal with the clamor of wild turkeys.

When Ottigny was about twenty leagues from Fort Caroline, his two Indian guides, who were always on the watch, descried three canoes, and in great excitement cried, "Thimagoa! Thimagoa!" As they drew near, one of them snatched up a halberd and the other a sword, and in their fury they seemed ready to jump into the water to get at the enemy. To their great disgust, Ottigny permitted the Thimagoas to run their canoes ashore and escape to the woods. Far from keeping Laudonniere's senseless promise to light them, he wished to make them friends; to which end he now landed with some of his men, placed a few trinkets in their canoes, and withdrew to a distance to watch the result. The fugitives presently returned, step by step, and allowed the French to approach them; on which Ottigny asked, by signs, if they had gold or silver. They replied that they had none, but that if he would give them one of his men they would show him where it was to be found. One of the soldiers boldly offered himself for the venture, and embarked with them. As, however, he failed to return according to agreement, Ottigny, on the next day, followed ten leagues farther up the stream, and at length had the good luck to see him approaching in a canoe. He brought little or no gold, but reported that he had heard of a certain chief, named Mayrra, marvellously rich, who lived three days' journey up the river; and with these welcome tidings Ottigny went back to Fort Caroline.

A fortnight later, an officer named Vasseur went up the river to pursue the adventure. The fever for gold had seized upon the French. As the villages of the Thimagoas lay between them and the imagined treasures, they shrank from a quarrel, and Laudonniere repented already of his promised alliance with Satouriona.

Vasseur was two days' sail from the fort when two Indians hailed him from the shore, inviting him to their dwellings. He accepted their guidance, and presently saw before him the cornfields and palisades of an Indian town. He and his followers were led through the wondering crowd to the lodge of Mollua, the chief, seated in the place of honor, and plentifully regaled with fish and bread. The repast over, Mollua made a speech. He told them that he was one of the forty vassal chiefs of the great Outina, lord of all the Thimagoas, whose warriors wore armor of gold and silver plate. He told them, too, of Potanou, his enemy, "a man cruell in warre;" and of the two kings of the distant Appalachian Mountains,—Onatheaqua and Houstaqua, "great lords and abounding in riches." While thus, with earnest pantomime and broken words, the chief discoursed with his guests, Vasseur, intent and eager, strove to follow his meaning; and no sooner did he hear of these Appalachian treasures than he promised to join Outina in war against the two potentates of the mountains. Mollua, well pleased, promised that each of Outina's vassal chiefs should requite their French allies with a heap of gold and silver two feet high. Thus, while Laudonniere stood pledged to Satouriona, Vasseur made alliance with his mortal enemy.

On his return, he passed a night in the lodge of one of Satouriona's chiefs, who questioned him touching his dealings with the Thimagoas. Vasseur replied that he had set upon them and put them to utter rout. But as the chief, seeming as yet unsatisfied, continued his inquiries, the sergeant Francois de la Caille drew his sword, and, like Falstaff, reenacted his deeds of valor, pursuing and thrusting at the imaginary Thimagoas, as they fled before his fury. The chief, at length convinced, led the party to his lodge, and entertained them with a decoction of the herb called Cassina.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse