the enterprise of Columbus
, the most memorable
maritime enterprise in the history of the world, formed between Europe
the communication which will never cease.
The national pride of an Icelandic historian has indeed claimed for his ancestors the glory of having discovered the western hemisphere.
said, that they passed from their own island to Green
land, and were driven by adverse winds from Greenland
to the shores of Labrador
; that the voyage was often repeated; that the coasts of America
were extensively explored, and colonies established on the shores of Nova Scotia
It is even suggested, that these early adventurers anchored near the harbor of Boston
, or in the bays of New Jersey
; and Danish
antiquaries believe that Northmen entered the waters of Rhode Island
, inscribed their adventures on the rocks of Taunton River
, gave the name of Vinland
to the south-east coasts of New England
, and explored the inlets of our country as far as Carolina
But the story of the colonization of America
by North-men, rests on narratives, mythological in form, and obscure in meaning; ancient, yet not contemporary.
chief document is an interpolation in the history of
Sturleson, whose zealous curiosity could hardly have neglected the discovery of a continent.
The geographical details are too vague to sustain a conjecture; the accounts of the mild winter and fertile soil are, on any modern hypothesis, fictitious or exaggerated; the description of the natives applies only to the Esquimaux, inhabitants of hyperborean regions, the remark which should define the length of the shortest winter's day, has received interpretations adapted to every latitude from New York to Cape Farewell
; and Vinland
has been sought in all directions, from Greenland
and the St. Lawrence
The intrepid mariners who colonized Greenland
could easily have extended their voyages to Labrador
; no clear historic evidence establishes the natural probability that they accomplished the passage.
Imagination had conceived that vast inhabited regions lay hidden in the dark recesses of the west.
Nearly three centuries before the Christian era, Aristotle, following the lessons of the Pythagoreans, had taught that the earth is a sphere, and that the water which bounds Europe
on the west washes the eastern shores of Asia
A ship, with a fair wind, said the Spaniard Seneca
, could sail from Spain
to the Indies in the space of a very few days.
The students of their writings had kept this opinion alive through all the middle ages; science and observation had assisted to confirm it; and poets of early and more recent times had foretold that empires beyond the ocean would one day be revealed to the daring navigator.
The genial country of Dante
and Buonarotti gave birth to Christopher Columbus
, to whom belongs the undivided glory of having fulfilled the prophecy.
Accounts of the navigation from the eastern coast
had reached the western kingdoms of Europe
; and adventurous Venetians, returning from travels beyond the Ganges
, had filled the world with dazzling descriptions of the wealth of China
as well as marvellous reports of the outlying island empire of Japan
It began to be believed that the continent of Asia
stretched over far more than a hemisphere, and that the remaining distance round the globe was comparatively inconsiderable.
Yet from the early part of the fifteenth century the navigators of Portugal
had confined their explorations to the coast of Africa
; and when they had ascertained that the torrid zone is habitable even under the equator, the discovery of the islands of Madeira
and the Azores
could not divert them from the purpose of turning the southern capes of that continent, and steering past them to the land of spices, which promised untold wealth to the merchants of Europe
, new dominions to its princes, and heathen nations to the religion of the cross.
As early perhaps as the year 1470, or probably before 1474, Columbus
was attracted to Lisbon
, as the great centre of maritime adventure.
He came to insist with immovable resoluteness that the shortest route to the Indies lay across the Atlantic
By letters from the venerable Toscanelli
, the illustrious astronomer of Florence
, who had drawn a map of the world with eastern Asia
rising over against Europe
, he was riveted in his faith, and longed for the opportunity of proving its reality.
After more than ten years of vain solicitations in Portugal
, he left the banks of the Tagus
, to seek the aid of Ferdinand and Isabella, rich in nautical experience,
having watched the stars at sea from the
latitude of Iceland
to near the equator at Elmina.
Though yet longer baffled by the scepticism which knew not how to share his aspirations, he lost nothing of the grandeur of his conceptions, or the proud magnanimity of his character, or devotion to the sublime enterprise to which he held himself elected from his infancy by the promises of God; and when half resolved to withdraw from Spain
, travelling on foot, he knocked at the gate of the monastery of La Rabida
, at Palos
, to crave the needed charity of food and shelter for himself and his little son whom he led by the hand, the destitute and forsaken seaman, in his naked poverty, was still the promiser of kingdoms; holding firmly in his grasp ‘the keys of the ocean sea,’ claiming as it were from Heaven the Indies as his own, and ‘dividing them as he pleased.’
The increase of years did not impair his holy confidence; and in 1492, when he seemed to have outlived the
possibility of success, he gave a New World to Castile
, ‘the like of which was never done by any man in ancient or in later times.’
The self-love of Ferdinand of Spain
was offended at owing to a foreigner benefits too vast for requital; and the contemporaries of the great mariner persecuted the merit which they could not adequately reward.
Nor had posterity been mindful to gather into a finished picture the memorials of his career, till the genius of Irving
, with candor, liberality, and original research, made a record of his life, and in mild but enduring colors sketched his sublime inflexibility of purpose, the solemn trances of his mystic devotion, and the unfailing greatness of his soul.
Successive popes of Rome
had already conceded
to the Portuguese the undiscovered world, from Cape
Bojador in Africa
, easterly to the Indies.
To prevent collision between Christian princes, on the fourth of May, 1493, Alexander the Sixth published a bull, in which he drew a line from the north pole to the south a hundred leagues west of the Azores
, assigning to Spain
all that lies to the west of that boundary, while all to the east of it was confirmed to Portugal
The commerce of the middle ages, concentrated upon the Mediterranean Sea
, had enriched the Italian
republics, and had been chiefly engrossed by their citizens.
Maritime enterprise now transferred its seat to the borders of the Atlantic
, and became boundless in its range.
It set before itself as its great problem the discovery of a pathway by sea to the Indies; and England
, which like Spain
looked out upon the ocean, became a competitor for the unknown world.
The wars of the houses of York
had terminated with the intermarriage of the heirs of the two families; the spirit of commercial activity began to be successfully fostered; and the marts of England
were frequented by Lombard
The fisheries of the north had long tempted the merchants of Bristol
to an intercourse with Iceland
; and had matured the nautical skill that could buffet the worst storms of the Atlantic
Nor is it impossible, that some uncertain traditions respecting the remote discoveries which Icelanders had made in Greenland
towards the north-west, ‘where the lands nearest meet,’ should have excited ‘firm and pregnant conjectures.’
The achievement of Columbus
, revealing the wonderful truth, of which the germ may have existed in the imagination of every thoughtful mariner,
won the admiration which was due to greatness
that seemed more divine than human; and ‘there was great talk of it in all the court of Henry the Seventh.’
A feeling of disappointment remained, that a series of disasters had defeated the wish of the illustrious Genoese
to make his first great voyage under the flag of England
It was, therefore, not difficult for John Cabot
, a Venetian, then residing at Bristol
, to interest that politic king in plans for discovery.
On the fifth of March, 1496, he obtained under the great seal a commission, empowering himself and his three sons, or either of them, their heirs, or their deputies, to sail into the eastern, western, or northern sea, with a, fleet of five ships, at their own expense, in search of islands, provinces, or regions, hitherto unseen by Christian people; to affix the banners of England
on city, island, or continent; and as vassals of the English
crown, to possess and occupy the territories that might be found.
It was further stipulated in this ‘most ancient American state paper of England
,’ that the patentees should be strictly bound, on every return, to land at the port of Bristol
, and to pay to the king one-fifth part of their gains; while the exclusive right of frequenting all the countries that might be found, was reserved to them and to their assigns, unconditionally and without limit of time.
Under this patent, which, at the first direction of
English enterprise towards America
, embodied the worst features of monopoly and commercial restriction, John Cabot
, taking with him his son Sebastian
, embarked in quest of new islands and a passage to Asia
by the north-west.
After sailing prosperously, as he thought, for seven hundred leagues, on the twenty-fourth day of June, 1497, early in the morning, almost fourteen months before Columbus
third voyage came in sight of the main, and more than
two years before Amerigo Vespucci sailed west of the Canaries, he discovered the western continent, probably in the latitude of about fifty-six degrees, among the dismal cliffs of Labrador
He ran along the coast for many leagues, it is said even for three hundred, and landed on what he considered to be the territory of the Grand Cham
But he saw no human being whatsoever, although there were marks that the region was inhabited.
He planted on the land a large cross with the flag of England
, and from affection for the Republic
, he added also the banner of St. Mark
, which had never before been borne so far. On his homeward voyage he saw on his right hand two islands, which for want of provisions he could not stop to explore.
After an absence of three months, the great discoverer re-entered Bristol harbor
, where due honors awaited him. The king gave him money, and encouraged him to continue his career.
The people called him the great admiral; he dressed in silk; and the English
, and even Venetians who chanced to be at Bristol
, ran after him with such zeal that he could enlist for a new voyage as many as he pleased.
A second time Columbus
had brought back tidings from the land and isles which were still described as the outposts of India
It appeared to be demonstrated that ships might pass by the west into those rich eastern realms where, according to the popular belief, the earth teemed with spices, and imperial palaces glittered with pearls and rubies, with diamonds and gold.
On the third day of the month
of February next after his return, ‘John Kaboto
, Venician,’ accordingly obtained a power to take up ships for another voyage, at the rates fixed for those employed in the service of the king, and once more to
set sail with as many companions as would go with
him of their own will.
With this license every trace of John Cabot
He may have died before the summer; but no one knows certainly the time or the place of his end, and it has not even been ascertained in what country this finder of a continent first saw the light.
His wife was a Venetian woman, but at Venice
he had himself gained the rights of citizenship in 1476, only after the residence of fifteen years, which was required of aliens before denization.
His second son, Sebastian Cabot
, probably a Venetian by birth, a cosmographer by profession, succeeded to the designs of his father.
He reasoned justly, that as the degrees of longitude decrease towards the north, the shortest route to China
lies in the highest practicable latitude; and with all the impetuosity of youthful fervor he gave himself up to the experiment.
In May, 1498, Columbus
, radiant with a glory that shed a lustre over his misfortunes and griefs, calling on the Holy Trinity
with vows, and seeing paradise in his dreams, embarked on his third voyage to discover the main land within the tropics, and to be sent back in chains.
In the early part of the same month, Sebastian Cabot
, then not much more than twenty-one years of age, chiefly at his own cost, led forth two ships and a large company of English volunteers, to find the north-west passage to Cathay
A few days after the English
navigator had left the port of Bristol
, Vasco de Gama
, of Portugal
, as daring and almost as young, having turned the Cape of Good Hope
, cleared the Straits of Mozambique
, and sailed beyond Arabia Felix
, came in sight of the mountains of Hindostan; and his happy crew, decking out his little fleet with flags,
sounding trumpets, praising God, and full of festivity
and gladness, steered into the harbor of Calicut
proceeded towards the north, till icebergs compelled him to change his course.
The coast to which he was now borne was unobstructed by frost.
He saw there stags larger than those of England
, and bears that plunged into the water to take fish with their claws.
The fish swarmed innumerably in such shoals, they seemed even to affect the speed of his vessels, so that he gave to the country the name of Bacallaos, which still lingers on the eastern side of Newfoundland
, and has passed into the language of the Germans and the Italians as well as the Portuguese and Spanish, to designate the cod. Continuing his voyage, according to the line of the shore, he found the natives of those regions clad in skins of beasts, but they were not without the faculty of reason, and in many places were acquainted with the use of copper.
In the early part of his voyage, he had been so far to the north, that in the month of July the light of day was almost continuous; before he turned homewards, in the late autumn, he believed he had attained the latitude of the Straits of Gibraltar
and the longitude of Cuba
As he sailed along the extensive coast, a gentle westerly current appeared to prevail in the northern sea.
Such is the meagre account given by Sebastian Cabot
, through his friend Peter Martyr, the historian of the ocean, of that great voyage which was undertaken by the authority of ‘the most wise’ prince Henry the Seventh, and made known to England
a country ‘much larger than Christendom.’
Thus the year 1498 stands singularly famous in the annals of the sea. In May, Vasco de Gama
Hindostan by way of the Cape of Good Hope
discovered the firm land of South 1498.
America, and the river Oronoco
, which seemed to him to flow from some large empire, or perhaps even from the terrestrial paradise itself; and in the summer, Cabot
, the youngest of them all, made known to the world the coast line of the present United States
, as far as the entrance to the Chesapeake
The fame of Columbus
was soon embalmed in the poetry of Tasso
; De Gama
is the hero of the national epic of Portugal
; but the elder Cabot
was so little celebrated, that even the reality of his voyage has been denied; and Sebastian
derived neither benefit nor immediate renown from his expedition.
His main object had been the discovery of a north-western passage to Asia
, and in this respect his voyage was a failure; while Gama
was cried up by all the world for having found the way by the south-east.
For the next half century it was hardly borne in mind that the Venetian and his son had, in two successive years, reached the continent of North America
, before Columbus
came upon the low coast of Guiana
acquired through their energy such a right to North America
, as this indisputable priority could confer.
The successors of Henry VII.
recognised the claims of Spain
, only so far as they actually occupied the territories to which they laid pretension; and, at a later day, the English parliament and the English
courts derided a title, founded, not upon occupancy, but upon the award of a Roman pontiff.
The next years of the illustrious mariner, from whom England
derived a claim to our shores, are involved in obscurity; but he soon conciliated regard by
the placid mildness of his character, and those who
approached him spread the fame of his courtesy.
Without the stern enthusiasm of Columbus
, he was distinguished by the gentleness of his nature and by serene contentment.
For nearly sixty years, during a period when marine adventure engaged the most intense public curiosity, he was reverenced for his achievements, his knowledge of cosmography, and his skill in navigation.
On the death of Henry the Seventh he was called out of England
by the command of Ferdinand, the Catholic
king of Castile
, and was appointed one of the Council for the New Indies, ever cherishing the hope to discover ‘that hidden secret of nature,’ the direct passage to Asia
In 1518 he was named Pilot Major
, and no
one could guide a ship to the Indies whom he had not first examined and approved.
He attended the congress which in April 1524 assembled at Badajoz
to decide on the respective pretensions of Portugal
to the islands of the Moluccas.
He subsequently sailed to South America
, under the auspices of Charles V., though not with entire success.
On his return to his native land, he advanced its commerce by opposing a mercantile monopoly, and was pensioned and rewarded for his merits as the Great Seaman.
was he who framed the instructions for the expedition which discovered the passage to Archangel.
lived to an extreme old age, and so loved his profession to the last, that in the hour of death his wandering thoughts were upon the ocean.
The discoverer of the territory of our country was one of the most extraordinary men of his day: there is deep reason for regret that time has spared so few memorials of his career.
Himself incapable of jealousy, he did
not escape detraction.1
He gave England
and no one knows his burial-place.
It was after long solicitations, that Columbus
had obtained the opportunity of discovery.
Upon the certainty of success, a throng of adventurers eagerly engaged in voyages, to explore the New World, or to plunder its inhabitants.
The king of Portugal
, grieved at having neglected Columbus
, readily favored an expedition for northern discovery.
appointed commander of the enterprise.
He reached the shores of North America
, ranged the coast for a
distance of six or seven hundred miles, and carefully observed the country and its inhabitants.
The most northern point3
which he attained, was probably about the fiftieth degree.
Of the country along which he sailed, he had occasion to admire the brilliant freshness of the verdure, and the density of the stately forests The pines, well adapted for masts and yards, promised to become an object of gainful commerce.
But men were already with the Portuguese an established article of traffic; the inhabitants of the American
coast seemed well fitted for labor; and Cortereal
freighted his ships with more than fifty Indians
, whom, on his return, he sold as slaves.
It was soon resolved to renew the ex-
pedition; but the adventurer never returned.
His death was ascribed to a combat with the natives, whom he desired to kidnap; the name of Labrador
to a more northern coast, is, probably, a memorial of his
and is, perhaps, the only permanent trace of Portuguese adventure within the limits of North America
entered without delay into the competition for the commerce and the soil of America
Within seven years of the discovery of the continent,
the fisheries of Newfoundland
were known to the hardy mariners of Brittany
The island of Cape Breton acquired its name from their remembrance of home, and in France
it was usual to esteem them the discoverers of the country.6
A map of the Gulf
of Saint Lawrence
was drawn by Denys,7
a citizen of Honfleur; and the fishermen of the north-west of France
derived wealth from the regions, which, it was reluctantly confessed, had been first visited by the Cabots.
The fisheries had for some years been successfully pursued; savages from the north-eastern coast had been
brought to France
plans of colonization in North
America had been suggested by De Lery and Saint Just
when at length Francis I.,
a monarch who had invited Da Vinci and Cellini to transplant the fine arts into his kingdom, employed John Verrazzani
, another Florentine, to explore the new regions, which had alike excited curi-
osity and hope.
It was by way of the isle of Madeira
, that the Italian
, parting from a fleet which had cruised successfully along the shores of Spain
, sailed for Amer
with a single caravel, resolute to make discovery
of new countries.
, though it had ‘the
good hap of a fortunate name,’ was overtaken by as terrible a tempest, as mariners ever encountered; and fifty days elapsed before the continent appeared in view.
At length, in the latitude of Wilmington11
Verrazzani could congratulate himself on beholding land
which had never been seen by any European
But no convenient harbor was found, though the search extended fifty leagues to the south.
Returning towards the north, he cast anchor on the coast; all the shore was shoal, but free from rocks, and covered with fine sand; the country was flat.
It was the coast of North Carolina
Mutual was the wonder of the inquisitive foreigners, and the mild and feeble natives.
The russet color of the Indians seemed like the complexion of the Saracens; their dress was of skins; their ornaments, garlands of feathers.
They welcomed with hospitality the strangers, whom they had not yet learned to fear.
As the Dolphin
ploughed its way to the north, the country seemed more inviting; it was thought that imagination could not conceive of more delightful fields and forests; the groves, redolent with fragrance, spread their perfumes far from the shore, and gave promise of the spices of the East
The mania of the times raged among the crew; in their eyes the color of the earth argued an abundance of gold.
The savages were more humane than their guests.
A young sailor, who had nearly been drowned, was revived by the courtesy of the natives; the voyagers robbed a mother of her child, and attempted to kidnap a young woman.
Such crimes can be prompted even by the feeble passion of curiosity, and the desire to gratify a vulgar wonder.
The harbor of New York
especially attracted notice,
for its great convenience and pleasantness; the eyes of the covetous could discern mineral wealth in the hills of New Jersey
In the spacious haven of Newport
, Verrazzani remained for fifteen days. The natives were ‘the goodliest people’ that he had found in the whole voyage.
They were liberal and friendly; yet so ignorant, that, though instruments of steel and iron were often exhibited, they did not form a conception of their use, nor learn to covet their possession.13
Leaving the waters of Rhode Island
, the persevering
mariner sailed along the whole coast of New England
to Nova Scotia
, till he approached the latitude of fifty degrees.
The natives of the more northern region were hostile and jealous; it was impossible to conciliate their confidence; they were willing to traffic, for they had learned the use of iron; but in their exchanges they demanded knives and weapons of steel.
Perhaps this coast had been visited for slaves; its inhabitants had become wise enough to dread the vices of Europeans.
In July, Verrazzani was once more in France
His own narrative of the voyage is the earliest original account, now extant, of the coast of the United States
He advanced the knowledge of the country; and he gave to France
some claim to an extensive territory, on the pretext of discovery.14
The historians of maritime adventure agree, that
Verrazzani again embarked upon an expedition, from
which, it is usually added, he never returned.
sail once more under the auspices of France
When the monarch had just lost every thing but honor in the disastrous battle of Pavia
, is it probable, that the impoverished government could have sent forth another expedition?
Did he relinquish the service of France
for that of England
It is hardly a safe conjecture,
that he was murdered in an encounter with savages, while on a voyage of discovery, which Henry VIII.
had favored.16 Hakluyt
asserts, that Verrazzani was thrice on the coast of America
, and that he gave a map of it to the English
It is the common tradition, that he perished at sea, having been engaged in an expedition of which no tidings were ever heard.
Such a report might easily be spread respecting a great navigator who had disappeared from the public view; and the rumor might be adopted by an incautious historian.
It is probable, that Verrazzani had only retired from the fatigues of the life of a mariner; and, while others believed him buried in the ocean, he may have long enjoyed at Rome
the friendship of men of letters, with
the delights of tranquil employment.18
Yet such is the obscurity of the accounts respecting his life, that certainty cannot be established.19
But the misfortunes of the French
monarchy did not
affect the industry of its fishermen; who, amidst the miseries of France
, still resorted to Newfoundland
There exists a letter20
to Henry VIII., from the haven
of St. John
, in Newfoundland
, written by an English
captain, in which he declares, he found in that one harbor
eleven sail of Normans and one Breton
, engaged in the fishery.
king, engrossed by the passionate and unsuccessful rivalry with Charles V., could hardly respect so humble an interest.
, admiral of France
a man of bravery and influence, acquainted by his office with the fishermen, on whose vessels he levied some small exactions for his private emolument, interested Francis in the design of exploring and colo-
nizing the New World.
, a mariner of St. Malo, was selected to lead the expedition.22
His several voyages are of great moment; for they had a permanent effect in guiding the attention of France
to the region of the St. Lawrence
It was in April, that
the mariner, with two ships, left the harbor of St. Malo
and prosperous weather brought him in twenty days upon the coasts of Newfoundland
Having almost circumnavigated the island, he turned to the south, and, crossing the gulf, entered the bay, which he called Des Chaleurs, from the intense heats of midsummer.
Finding-no passage to the west, he sailed along the
coast, as far as the smaller inlet of Gaspe
There, upon a point of land, at the entrance of the haven, a lofty cross was raised, bearing a shield, with the lilies of France
and an appropriate inscription.
Henceforth the soil was to be esteemed a part of the dominions of the French
Leaving the Bay of Gaspe
covered the great river of Canada
, and sailed up its channel, till he could discern land on either side.
As he was unprepared to remain during the winter, it then
became necessary to return; the fleet weighed anchor
, and, in less than thirty days,23
harbor of St. Malo
His native city and France
were filled with the tidings of his discoveries.
The voyage had been easy and successful.
Even at this day, the passage to and fro is not often made more rapidly or more safely.
Could a gallant nation, which was then ready to contend for power and honor with the united force of Austria
, hesitate to pursue the career of discovery, so prosperously opened?
The court listened
to the urgency of the friends of Cartier
a new commission was issued; three well-furnished ships were provided by the king; and some of the young nobility of France
volunteered to join the new expedition.
Solemn preparations were made for departure; religion prepared a splendid pageant, previous to the embarkation; the whole company, repairing to the cathedral, received absolution and the bishop's blessing.
adventurers were eager to cross the Atlantic
; and the squadron sailed25
for the New World, full of hopes of discoveries and plans of colonization in the territory which now began to be known as New France.26
It was after a stormy voyage, that they arrived within sight of Newfoundland
Passing to the west of that island on the day of St. Lawrence, they gave the
name of that martyr to a portion of the noble gulf which opened before them; a name which has gradualy
extended to the whole gulf, and to the river.
ing to the north of Anticosti, they ascended the stream in September, as far as a pleasant harbor in the isle, since called Orleans
The natives, Indians of Algonquin descent, received them with unsuspecting hospitality.
Leaving his ships safely moored, Cartier
, in a boat, sailed up the majestic stream to the chief Indian settlement on the island of Hochelaga
The language of its inhabitants proves them to have been of the Huron
family of tribes.27
The town lay at the foot of a hill, which he climbed.
As he reached the summit, he was moved to admiration by the prospect before him of woods, and waters, and mountains.
Imagination presented it as the future emporium of inland commerce, and the metropolis of a prosperous province; filled with bright anticipations, he called the hill Mont-Real,28
and time, that has transferred the name to the island, is realizing his visions.
also gathered of the Indians some indistinct account of the countries now contained in the north of Vermont
and New York.
Re joining his ships, the winter, rendered frightful by the ravages of the scurvy, was passed where they were anchored.
At the approach of spring, a cross was solemnly erected upon land, and on it a shield was suspended, which bore the arms of France
, and an inscription, declaring Francis to be the rightful king of these new-found regions.
Having thus claimed pos-
session of the territory, the Breton mariner once more regained St. Malo.
The description which Cartier
gave of the country
bordering on the St. Lawrence
, furnished arguments29
against attempting a colony.
The intense severity of
the climate terrified even the inhabitants of the north
; and no mines of silver
, no veins abounding in diamonds and precious stones, had been promised by the faithful narrative of the voyage.
Three or four years, therefore, elapsed, before plans of colonization were renewed.
Yet imagination did not fail to anticipate the establishment of a state upon the fertile banks of a river, which surpassed all the streams of Europe
in grandeur, and flowed through a country situated between nearly the same parallels as France
Soon after a short peace had terminated the third desperate struggle between Francis I.
and Charles V., attention to America
was again awakened; there were not wanting men at court, who deemed it unworthy a gallant nation to abandon the enterprise; and a noble man of Picardy
, Francis de la Roque
, lord of Roberval
, a man of considerable provincial distinction, sought and obtained30
It was easy to confer prov-
inces and plant colonies upon parchment; Roberval
could congratulate himself on being the acknowledged lord of the unknown Norimbega
, and viceroy, with full regal authority, over the immense territories and islands which lie near the gulf or along the river St. Lawrence
But the ambitious nobleman could not dispense with the services of the former naval commander, who possessed the confidence of the king; and Cartier
also received a commission.
Its terms merit consideration.
He was appointed captain-general and chief pilot of
the expedition; he was directed to take with him persons of every trade and art; to repair to the newlydiscovered territory; and to dwell there with the natives.
But where were the honest tradesmen and in-
dustrious mechanics to be found, who would repair to this New World?
The commission gave Cartier
full authority to ransack the prisons; to rescue the unfortunate and the criminal; and to make up the complement of his men from their number.
Thieves or homicides, the spendthrift or the fraudulent bankrupt, the debtors to justice or its victims, prisoners rightfully or wrongfully detained, excepting only those arrested for treason or counterfeiting money,—these were the people by whom the colony was, in part, to be established.31
The division of authority between Cartier
berval of itself defeated the enterprise.32 Roberval
was ambitious of power; and Cartier
desired the exclusive honor of discovery. .They neither embarked in company, nor acted in concert.
Malo the next spring after the date of his commission; he arrived at the scene of his former adventures, ascended the St. Lawrence
, and, near the site of Quebec
, built a fort for the security of his party;34
but no considerable advances in geographical knowledge appear to have been made.
The winter passed in sullenness and gloom.
In June of the following year, he and his
ships stole away and returned to France
, just as Roberval
arrived with a considerable reinforcement.
Unsustained by Cartier
accomplished no more than a verification of previous discoveries.
a year in America
, he abandoned his immense viceroy-
Estates in Picardy
were better than titles in Norimbega.
His subjects must have been a sad company; during the winter, one was hanged for theft; several were put in irons; and ‘divers persons, as well women as men,’ were whipped.
By these means quiet was preserved.
Perhaps the expedition on its return entered the Bay
; the French
diplomatists always remembered, that Boston
was built within the original limits of New France.
The commission of Roberval
was followed by no per-
It is confidently said, that, at a later date, he again embarked for his viceroyalty, accompanied by a numerous train of adventurers; and, as he was never more heard of, he may have perished at sea.
Can it be a matter of surprise, that, for the next fifty
years, no further discoveries were attempted by the government of a nation, which had become involved in the final struggle of feudalism against the central power of the monarch, of Calvinism against the ancient religion of France
The colony of Huguenots at the
South sprung from private enterprise; a government which could devise the massacre of St. Bartholomew,
was neither worthy nor able to found new states.
At length, under the mild and tolerant reign of Henry IV., the star of France
emerged from the clouds of blood, treachery, and civil war, which had so long eclipsed her glory.
The number and importance of the fishing stages had increased; in 1578 there were one
hundred and fifty French vessels at Newfoundland
, and regular voyages, for traffic with the natives, began to be successfully made.
One French mariner, before 1609, had made more than forty voyages to the American
The purpose of founding a French empire in America
was renewed, and an ample commission
was issued to the Marquis
'de la Roche
, a nobleman of Brittany
Yet his enterprise entirely failed.
Sweeping the prisons of France
, he established their tenants on the desolate Isle of Sable; and the wretched exiles sighed for their dungeons.
After some years, the few survivers received a pardon.
The temporary residence in America
was deemed a sufficient commutation for a long imprisonment.
The prospect of gain prompted the next enterprise.
A monopoly of the fur-trade, with an ample patent, was obtained by Chauvin; and Pontgrave, a merchant of
St. Malo, shared the traffic.
The voyage was repeated,
for it was lucrative.
The death of Chauvin prevented his settling a colony.
A firmer hope of success was entertained, when a
company of merchants of Rouen
was formed by the governor of Dieppe
; and Samuel Champlain
, of Brouage
, an able marine officer and a man of science, was appointed to direct the expedition.
By his natural disposition, ‘delighting marvellously in these enterprises,’ Champlain
became the father of the French
settlements in Canada
He possessed a clear and penetrating understanding, with a spirit of cautious inquiry; untiring perseverance, with great mobility; indefatigable activity, with fearless courage.
The account of his first expedition gives proof of sound judgment, accurate observation, and historical fidelity.
It is full of exact details on the manners of the savage tribes, not less than the geography of the country; and Quebec
was already selected as the appropriate site for a fort.
returned to France
just before an exclusive
patent had been issued to a Calvinist, the able, patriotic, and honest De Monts
The sovereignty of Acadia
and its confines, from the fortieth to the forty-sixth
degree of latitude, that is, from Philadelphia
to beyond Montreal
; a still wider monopoly of the fur-trade; the exclusive control of the soil, government, and trade; freedom of religion for Huguenot
emigrants,—these were the privileges which the charter conceded.
Idlers, and men without a profession, and all banished men, were doomed to lend him aid. A lucrative monopoly was added to the honors of territorial jurisdiction.
Wealth and glory were alike expected.
An expedition was prepared without delay, and left
the shores of France
, not to return till a permanent French settlement should be made in America
All New France was now contained in two ships, which followed the well-known path to Nova Scotia
The summer glided away, while the emigrants trafficked with the natives and explored the coasts.
The harbor called Annapolis
after the conquest of Acadia
by Queen Anne, an excellent harbor, though difficult of access possessing a small but navigable river, which abounded in fish, and is bordered by beautiful meadows, so pleased the imagination of Poutrincourt
, a leader in the enterprise, that he sued for a grant of it from De Monts
, and, naming it Port Royal
, determined to reside there with his family.
The company of De Monts
made their first attempt at a settlement on the island of St. Croix
, at the mouth of the river of the same name The remains of their fortifications were still visible,
when our eastern boundary was ascertained.
Yet the island was so ill suited to their purposes, that, in the following spring, they removed to Port Royal
For an agricultural colony, a milder climate was more desirable; in view of a settlement at the south, De Monts
explored and claimed for France
the rivers, the
coasts and the bays of New England
, as far, at least, as Cape Cod
The numbers and hostility of the savages
led him to delay a removal, since his colonists
were so few. Yet the purpose remained.
Thrice, in the spring of the following year, did Dupont
, his lieutenant, attempt to complete the discovery.
Twice he was driven back by adverse winds; and at the third
attempt, his vessel was wrecked.
, who had visited France
, and was now returned with supplies, himself renewed the design; but, meeting with
disasters among the shoals of Cape Cod
, he, too, returned to Port Royal
There the first French settle-
ment on the American
continent had been made; two years before James River
was discovered, and three years before a cabin had been raised in Canada
The possessions of Poutrincourt
were confirmed by Henry
IV.; the apostolic benediction of the Roman
pontiff was solicited on families which exiled them-
selves to evangelize infidels; Mary of Medici
herself contributed money to support the missions, which the Marchioness de Guercheville
protected; and by a com-
pact with De Biencourt, the proprietary's son, the order of the Jesuits was enriched by an imposition on the fisheries and fur-trade.
The arrival of Jesuit priests was signalized by con-
versions among the natives.
In the following year, De Biencourt and Father Biart
explored the coast as far
as the Kennebec
, and ascended that river.
, Algonquins of the Abenaki nations, touched by the confiding humanity of the French
, listened reverently to the message of redemption; and, already hostile towards the English
who had visited their coast, the tribes between the Penobscot
and the Kennebec
became the allies of France
, and were cherished as a barrier against danger from English encroachments.
A French colony within the United States
under the auspices of De Guercheville
and Mary of
; the rude intrenchments of St. Sauveur were
raised by De Saussaye on the eastern shore of Mount 1613. Desert Isle.
The conversion of the heathen was the motive to the settlement; the natives venerated Biart
as a messenger from heaven; and under the summer sky, round a cross in the centre of the hamlet, matins and vespers were regularly chanted.
and the Roman
religion had appropriated the soil of Maine
Meantime the remonstrances of French merchants had effected the revocation of the monopoly of De Monts
, and a company of merchants of Dieppe
and St. 1608.
Malo had founded Quebec
The design was executed
, who aimed not at the profits of trade, but at the glory of founding a state.
The city of Quebec
was begun; that is to say, rude cottages were framed, a few fields were cleared, and one or two gardens planted.
The next year, that singularly bold
adventurer, attended but by two Europeans, joined a mixed party of Hurons from Montreal
, and Algonquins from Quebec
, in an expedition against the Iroquois
, or Five Nations, in the north of New York.
He ascended the Sorel
, and explored the lake which bears his name, and perpetuates his memory.
had been active in plans of coloniza-
tion. The death of Henry IV.
deprived them of their powerful protector.
Yet the zeal of De Monts
survived, and he quickened the courage of Champlain
After the short supremacy of Charles de Bourbon
, the Prince
, an avowed protector of the Calvinists, became viceroy of New France; through his intercession, mer-
chants of St. Malo, Rouen
, and La Rochelle
, obtained a colonial patent from the king; and Champlain
, now sure of success, embarked once more for the New World, accompanied by monks of the order of St. Francis
Again he invades the territory of the Iroquois
in New York.
Wounded, and repulsed, and destitute of guides, he
spends the first winter after his return to America
in the country of the Hurons; and a knight errant among the forests carries his language, religion, and influence, even to the hamlets of Algonquins, near Lake Nipissing
Religious disputes combined with commercial jeal-
ousies to check the progress of the colony; yet in the summer, when the Pilgrims were leaving Leyden
, in obedience to the wishes of the unhappy Montmorenci
, the new viceroy, Champlain
, began a fort.
The merchants grudged the expense.
‘It is not best to yield to the passions of men,’ was his reply; ‘they sway but for a season; it is a duty to respect the future;’ and in a few years the castle St. Louis
, so long the place
of council against the Iroquois
and against New England
, was durably founded on ‘a commanding cliff.’
In the same year, the viceroyalty was transferred to
the religious enthusiast, Henry de Levi
; and through his influence, in 1625, just a year after Jesuits had
reached the sources of the Ganges
, the banks of the St. Lawrence
received priests of the order, which was destined to carry the cross to Lake Superior
and the West
The presence of Jesuits and Calvinists led to dissensions.
The savages caused disquiet.
But the persevering founder of Quebec
appealed to the Royal Council and to Richelieu
; and though disasters inter-
successfully established the authority of the French
on the banks of the St. Lawrence
, in the territory which became his country.
‘The father of New France’ lies buried in the land which he colonized.
Thus the humble industry of the fishermen of Normandy
promised their country the acquisition of an empire.