So-called "civilizations" of Mexico and Peru 33, Loose use of the words "savagery" and "civilization" Value and importance of the term "barbarism" 35, The status of barbarism is most completely exemplified.
Survival of bygone epochs of culture; work of the. Bureau of Ethnology 37, Tribal society and multiplicity of languages in aboriginal. America 38, Tribes in the upper status of savagery; Athabaskans,. Apaches, Shoshones, etc. Tribes in the lower status of barbarism; the Dakota.
The Minnitarees and Mandans The Pawnee and Arickaree group The Maskoki group The Algonquin group The Huron-Iroquois group The Five Nations Distinction between horticulture and field agriculture Perpetual intertribal warfare, with torture and. Myths and folk-lore Ancient law 52, The patriarchal family not primitive Primitive marriage The system of reckoning kinship through females only Original reason for the system The primeval human horde 58, Earliest family-group; the clan Phratry and tribe Effect of pastoral life upon property and upon the.
The exogamous clan in ancient America Intimate connection of aboriginal architecture with. The long houses of the Iroquois 66, Summary divorce Hospitality Structure of the clan 69, Origin and structure of the phratry 70, Structure of the tribe Cross-relationships between clans and tribes; the Iroquois. Confederacy Structure of the confederacy 75, The "Long House" Symmetrical development of institutions in ancient. America 77, Circular houses of the Mandans The Indians of the pueblos, in the middle status of. Horticulture with irrigation, and architecture with.
Possible origin of adobe architecture 84, Typical structure of the pueblo Pueblo society Wonderful ancient pueblos in the Chaco valley The Moqui pueblos The cliff-dwellings Pueblo of Tlascala The ancient city of Mexico was a great composite. The Spanish discoverers could not be expected to understand. Contrast between feudalism and gentilism Change from gentile society to political society in. Greece and Rome 99, First suspicions as to the erroneousness of the Spanish. Detection and explanation of the errors, by Lewis.
Morgan Adolf Bandelier's researches The Aztec Confederacy , Aztec clans Clan officers Rights and duties of the clan Aztec phratries Evolution of kingship in Greece and Rome Montezuma was a "priest-commander" Mode of succession to the office , Manner of collecting tribute Mexican roads Aztec and Iroquois confederacies contrasted Aztec priesthood; human sacrifices , Aztec slaves , The Aztec family , Aztec property Morgan's rules of criticism He sometimes disregarded his own rules Amusing illustrations from his remarks on "Montezuma's.
Dinner" The reaction against uncritical and exaggerated statements. Morgan , Great importance of the middle period of barbarism The Mexicans compared with the Mayas Maya hieroglyphic writing Ruined cities of Central America They are probably not older than the twelfth century Recent discovery of the Chronicle of Chicxulub Maya culture very closely related to Mexican The "Mound-Builders" The notion that they were like the Aztecs These notions are not well sustained The mounds were probably built by different peoples. Shawnees, and other tribes , It is not likely that there was a "race of Mound Builders" Society in America at the time of the Discovery had.
Mediterranean peoples fifty or sixty centuries. Stories of voyages to America before Columbus; the. Chinese The Irish. Blowing and drifting; Cousin, of Dieppe These stories are of small value But the case of the Northmen is quite different The Viking exodus from Norway , Founding of a colony in Iceland, A. Icelandic literature Discovery of Greenland, A. Eric the Red, and his colony in Greenland,. Voyage of Bjarni Herjulfsson Conversion of the Northmen to Christianity Leif Ericsson's voyage, A.
Markland Leif's winter in Vinland , Voyages of Thorvald and Thorstein Thorfinn Karlsefni, and his unsuccessful attempt to. Freydis, and her evil deeds in Vinland, , Voyage into Baffin's Bay, Description of a Viking ship discovered at Sandefiord,. To what extent the climate of Greenland may have. With the Northmen once in Greenland, the discovery. Ear-marks of truth in the Icelandic narratives , Northern limit of the vine Length of the winter day Indian corn , Winter weather in Vinland Vinland was probably situated somewhere between Cape Breton.
Further ear-marks of truth; savages and barbarians of the. The natives of Vinland as described in the Icelandic. Algonquins The "balista" or "demon's head" , The story of the "uniped" Character of the Icelandic records; misleading associations. The comparison between Leif Ericsson and Agamemnon, made by.
The story of the Trojan War, in the shape in which we find. The Saga of Eric the Red is not folk-lore Mythical and historical sagas Presumption against sources not contemporary Hauk Erlendsson and his manuscripts The story is not likely to have been preserved to Hauk's. Allusions to Vinland in other Icelandic documents Eyrbyggja Saga The abbot Nikulas, etc. His significant allusion to Vinland Other references Adam of Bremen Importance of his testimony His misconception of the situation of Vinland Summary of the argument Absurd speculations of zealous antiquarians The Dighton inscription was made by Algonquins, and has.
Governor Arnold's stone windmill There is no reason for supposing that the Northmen founded a. Davis strait If the Northmen had founded a successful colony, they would. And such animals could not have vanished and left no trace. Further fortunes of the Greenland colony Bishop Eric's voyage in search of Vinland, The ship from Markland, The Greenland colony attacked by Eskimos, Queen Margaret's monopoly, and its baneful effects He enters the service of Henry Sinclair, Earl of the Orkneys.
Voyage of Earl Sinclair and Antonio Zeno , Publication of the remains of the documents by the younger. The Zeno map , Queer transformations of names The narrative nowhere makes a claim to the "discovery. The "Zichmni" of the narrative means Henry Sinclair Bardsen's "Description of Greenland" The monastery of St. Olaus and its hot spring Volcanoes of the north Atlantic ridge Volcanic phenomena in Greenland , Estotiland Drogio Inhabitants of Drogio and the countries beyond The Fisherman's return to Frislanda Was the account of Drogio woven into the narrative. Or does it represent actual experiences in North.
The case of David Ingram, The case of Cabeza de Vaca, There may have been unrecorded instances of visits to. North America The pre-Columbian voyages made no real contributions. And were in no true sense a discovery of America Real contact between the eastern and western hemisphere. Why the voyages of the Northmen were not followed up Ignorance of their geographical significance Lack of instruments for ocean navigation Condition of Europe in the year , It was not such as to favour colonial enterprise The outlook of Europe was toward Asia Routes of trade between Europe and Asia Claudius Ptolemy and his knowledge of the earth Early mention of China The monk Cosmas Indicopleustes Shape of the earth, according to Cosmas , His knowledge of Asia The Nestorians Effects of the Saracen conquests Constantinople in the twelfth century The Crusades Barbarizing character of Turkish conquest General effects of the Crusades The Fourth Crusade Rivalry between Venice and Genoa Effects of the Mongol conquests Cathay, origin of the name Carpini and Rubruquis First knowledge of an eastern ocean beyond Cathay The data were thus prepared for Columbus; but as yet nobody.
The Polo brothers Kublai Khan's message to the Pope Marco Polo and his travels in Asia , First recorded voyage of Europeans around the Indo-Chinese. Return of the Polos to Venice Marco Polo's book, written in prison at Genoa, ;. Prester John Griffins and Arimaspians The Catalan map, , Other visits to China Overthrow of the Mongol dynasty, and shutting up of China First rumours of the Molucca islands and Japan The accustomed routes of Oriental trade were cut off in the. Necessity for finding an "outside route to the Indies" Question as to whether Asia could be reached by sailing.
Views of Eratosthenes Opposing theory of Ptolemy Story of the Phoenician voyage in the time of Necho Voyage of Hanno , Voyages of Sataspes and Eudoxus Wild exaggerations Views of Pomponius Mela , Ancient theory of the five zones , The Inhabited World, or Oecumene, and the Antipodes Curious notions about Taprobane Ceylon Question as to the possibility of crossing the torrid zone Notions about sailing "up and down hill" , Superstitious fancies , Clumsiness of ships in the fifteenth century Dangers from famine and scurvy The mariner's compass; an interesting letter from Brunetto.
Latini to Guido Cavalcanti Calculating latitudes and longitudes Prince Henry the Navigator His idea of an ocean route to the Indies, and what it. The Sacred Promontory The Madeira and Canary islands Gil Eannes passes Cape Bojador Beginning of the modern slave-trade, Papal grant of heathen countries to the Portuguese.
Advance to Sierra Leone Advance to the Hottentot coast , Note upon the extent of European acquaintance with. Effect of the Portuguese discoveries upon the theories. News of Prester John; Covilham's journey Bartholomew Dias passes the Cape of Good Hope and enters the. Indian ocean Some effects of this discovery Bartholomew Columbus took part in it Connection between these voyages and the work of Christopher. Columbus Sources of information concerning the life of Columbus;. Las Casas and Ferdinand Columbus The Biblioteca Colombina at Seville , Bernaldez and Peter Martyr Letters of Columbus Defects in Ferdinand's information , Researches of Henry Harrisse Date of the birth of Columbus; archives of Savona Statement of Bernaldez Columbus's letter of September, The balance of probability is in favour of The family of Domenico Colombo, and its changes of.
Columbus tells us that he was born in the city of Genoa His early years Christopher and his brother Bartholomew at Lisbon , Personal appearance of Columbus His marriage, and life upon the island of Porto Santo , The king of Portugal asks advice of the great astronomer. Toscanelli Toscanelli's first letter to Columbus His second letter to Columbus , Who first suggested the feasibleness of a westward route. Was it Columbus? Perhaps it was Toscanelli , Note on the date of Toscanelli's first letter to.
The idea, being naturally suggested by the globular form of. Opinions of ancient writers Opinions of Christian writers The "Imago Mundi" of Petrus Alliacus , Ancient estimates of the size of the globe and the length of. Toscanelli's calculation of the size of the earth, and of. Columbus's opinions of the size of the globe, the length of.
Portugal to Japan There was a fortunate mixture of truth and error in these. The whole point and purport of Columbus's scheme lay in its. Portuguese were seeking by way of Guinea Columbus's speculations on climate; his voyages to Guinea. He may have reached Jan Mayen island, and stopped. The Scandinavian hypothesis that Columbus "must. It has not a particle of evidence in its favour It is not probable that Columbus knew of Adam of. Bremen's allusion to Vinland, or that he would have.
It is doubtful if he would have stumbled upon the. If he had heard it, he would probably have classed it. Brandan's isle He could not possibly have obtained from such a source his. If he had known and understood the Vinland story, he had the. No trace of a thought of Vinland appears in any of his. Why did not Norway or Iceland utter a protest in ? The idea of Vinland was not associated with the idea of. America until the seventeenth century Recapitulation of the genesis of Columbus's scheme Martin Behaim's improved astrolabe , Negotiations of Columbus with John II.
The king is persuaded into a shabby trick Columbus leaves Portugal and enters into the service. The junto at Salamanca, Birth of Ferdinand Columbus, August 15, Bartholomew Columbus returns from the Cape of Good Hope,. December, , Christopher visits Bartholomew at Lisbon, cir. Bartholomew, after mishaps, reaches England cir.
The duke of Medina-Celi proposes to furnish the ships for. Columbus, but the queen withholds her consent , Columbus makes up his mind to get his family together and go. Columbus is summoned back to court The junto before Granada, December, , Surrender of Granada, January 2, Columbus negotiates with the queen, who considers his terms. Interposition of Luis de Santangel Agreement between Columbus and the sovereigns Cost of the voyage Dismay at Palos The three famous caravels Delay at the Canary islands Martin Behaim and his globe , Columbus starts for Japan, September 6, Terrors of the voyage Deflection of the needle The Sargasso sea , The trade wind Impatience of the crews Change of course from W.
W , Discovery of land, October 12, Guanahani: which of the Bahama islands was it? Groping for Cipango and the route to Quinsay , Columbus reaches Cuba, and sends envoys to find a. He turns eastward and Pinzon deserts him Columbus arrives at Hayti and thinks it must be Japan His flag-ship is wrecked, and he decides to go back to. Spain Building of the blockhouse, La Navidad Terrible storm in mid-ocean on the return voyage Cold reception at the Azores Columbus is driven ashore in Portugal, where the king is.
But to offend Spain so grossly would be imprudent Arrival of Columbus and Pinzon at Palos; death of Pinzon Columbus is received by the sovereigns at Barcelona , General excitement at the news that a way to the Indies had. This voyage was an event without any parallel in history The Discovery of America was a gradual process , The letters of Columbus to Santangel and to Sanchez Versification of the story by Giuliano Dati Earliest references to the discovery The earliest reference in English The Portuguese claim to the Indies Bulls of Pope Alexander VI.
The treaty of Tordesillas Juan Rodriguez Fonseca, and his relations with. Friar Boyle Notable persons who embarked on the second voyage Departure from Cadiz Cruise among the Cannibal Caribbee islands Fate of the colony at La Navidad Building the town of Isabella Exploration of Cibao , Westward cruise; Cape Alpha and Omega Discovery of Jamaica Coasting the south side of Cuba The "people of Mangon" Speculations concerning the Golden Chersonese A solemn expression of opinion Vicissitudes of theory , Arrival of Bartholomew Columbus in Hispaniola , Mutiny in Hispaniola; desertion of Boyle and Margarite , The government of Columbus was not tyrannical Troubles with the Indians , Mission of Juan Aguado Discovery of gold mines, and speculations about Ophir Founding of San Domingo, The return voyage to Spain Edicts of and , Vexatious conduct of Fonseca; Columbus loses his temper Departure from San Lucar on the third voyage The belt of calms Trinidad and the Orinoco , Speculations as to the earth's shape; the mountain of.
Paradise Relation of the "Eden continent" to "Cochin China" Discovery of the Pearl Coast Columbus arrives at San Domingo Roldan's rebellion and Fonseca's machinations , Gama's voyage to Hindustan, Fonseca's creature, Bobadilla, sent to investigate the. He imprisons Columbus And sends him in chains to Spain Release of Columbus; his interview with the sovereigns How far were the sovereigns responsible for Bobadilla? Ovando, another creature of Fonseca, appointed governor. Purpose of Columbus's fourth voyage, to find a passage.
The voyage across the Atlantic Columbus not allowed to stop at San Domingo His arrival at Cape Honduras Cape Gracias a Dios, and the coast of Veragua Fruitless search for the strait of Malacca Futile attempt to make a settlement in Veragua Columbus is shipwrecked on the coast of Jamaica; shameful.
Columbus's last return to Spain His death at Valladolid, May 20, When Columbus died, the fact that a New World had been. View and ground-plan of Seneca-Iroquois long house. View, cross-section, and ground-plan of Mandan round. Ground-plan of so-called "House of the Nuns" at Uxmal,. Map of the East Bygd, or eastern settlement of the Northmen. Zeno Map, cir. Map of the World according to Claudius Ptolemy, cir. Map of the World according to Pomponius Mela, cir. Map illustrating Portuguese voyages on the coast of Africa,.
Sketch of Martin Behaim's Globe, , preserved in the city. Sketch of Martin Behaim's Atlantic Ocean, with outline of the. Map of the discoveries made by Columbus in his first and. Map of the discoveries made by Columbus in his third and. When the civilized people of Europe first became acquainted with the.
Between the various tribes of this aboriginal American. The most obvious characteristics possessed in common by the. American aborigines are the copper-coloured or rather the. With regard to stature, length of limbs, massiveness of frame,. With regard to culture the. Soon after America was proved not to be part of Asia, a puzzling. Whence came these "Indians," and in what manner did they. Since the beginning of the. It was formerly argued upon the two. Deluge," which was generally placed somewhere between two and three. Hence inasmuch as European. American languages, myths, and social observances and those of the.
Oriental world. Now the aborigines of this Continent were made out to. Competition has been far more active in the fauna of the. It is altogether probable that the people. But it is by no means probable that their migration occurred. A series of. The most elaborate statement of the. Such a. In this book we are. There, says the veracious chronicler, their. Christ appeared and wrought. But about the close of. Some two. Lake Ontario. There they hid the. There is, of course, no element of tradition in this story. The references are to. The first group of these observations and discoveries relate to.
On the banks of the Damariscotta river in. Maine are some of the most remarkable shell-heaps in the world. With an. They consist almost entirely of huge oyster-shells. The shells belong. In some places "there is an appearance of. Morse "found the remains of an ancient fire-place, where he exhumed. The great size of. Similar conclusions have been drawn from the banks or mounds of shells. John's river in Florida, on the Alabama river, at Grand. Lake on the lower Mississippi, and at San Pablo in the bay of San.
Thus at various points from Maine to California, and in. The second group of discoveries carries us back much farther, even into. At the periods of greatest. North Carolina. These periods of intense cold were alternated with long. Concerning the antiquity of the Pleistocene age, which was. Twenty years ago geologists often argued as if there were an. Thomson and other physicists emphasized the point that in an antiquity. In many instances further study has shown that less.
Here, as in so many other cases, the. If we adopt the.
Croll, which seems to me still to hold its. During this period the eccentricity was seldom. At the present time the. For the. Some objections to Croll's theory may. I have given a brief account of the. Now the traces of the existence of men in North America during the. Glacial epoch have in recent years been discovered in abundance, as for. Paul, which date from toward the close of the Glacial.
Minnesota during an earlier part of that epoch; the noble collection. Abbott in the Trenton gravels in New. Jersey; and the more recent discoveries of Dr. It was an era of ignorance and superstition. Christendom went insane over an idea. When the year ended, and the world rolled on, none the worse for conflagration or deluge, green with the spring leafage and ripe with the works of man, dismay gave way to hope, mirth took the place of prayer, man regained their flown wits, and those who had so recklessly given away their wealth bethought themselves of taking legal measures for its recovery.
Such was one of the events that made that year memorable. There was another of a highly different character. Instead of a world being lost, a world was found. The Old World not only remained unharmed, but a New World was added to it, a world beyond the seas, for this was the year in which the foot of the European was first set upon the shores of the trans-Atlantic continent. It is the story of this first discovery of America that we have now to tell.
In the autumn of the year , in a region far away from fear-haunted Europe, a scene was being enacted of a very different character from that just described. Over the waters of unknown seas a small, strange craft boldly made its way, manned by a crew of the hardiest and most vigorous men, driven by a single square sail, whose coarse woollen texture bellied deeply before the fierce ocean winds, which seemed at times as if they would drive that deckless vessel bodily beneath the waves. This crew was of men to whom fear was almost unknown, the stalwart Vikings of the North, whose oar-and sail-driven barks now set out from the coasts of Norway and Denmark to ravage the shores of southern Europe, now turned their prows boldly to the west in search of unknown lands afar.
Shall we describe this craft? It was a tiny one in which to venture upon an untravelled ocean in search of an unknown continent,—a vessel shaped somewhat like a strung bow, scarcely fifty feet in length, low amidships and curving upwards to high peaks at stem and stern, both of which converged to sharp edges.
Historical Tales, Vol. 1 (of 15), Charles Morris
It resembled an enormous canoe rather than aught else to which we can compare it. On the stem was a carved and gilt dragon, the figurehead of the ship, which glittered in the bright rays of the sun. Along the bulwarks of the ship, fore and aft, hung rows of large painted wooden shields, which gave an Argus-eyed aspect to the craft. Between them was a double row of thole-pins for the great oars, which now lay at rest in the bottom of the boat, but by which, in calm weather, this "walker of the seas" could be forced swiftly through the yielding element.
Near the stern, on an elevated platform, stood the commander, a man of large and powerful frame and imposing aspect, one whose commands not the fiercest of his crew would lightly venture to disobey. A coat of ring-mail encircled his stalwart frame; by his side, in a richly-embossed scabbard, hung a long sword, with hilt of gilded bronze; on his head was a helmet that shone like pure gold, shaped like a wolf's head, with gaping jaws and threatening teeth.
Land was in sight, an unknown coast, peopled perhaps by warlike men. The cautious Viking leader deemed it wise to be prepared for danger, and was armed for possible combat. Below him, on the rowing-benches, sat his hardy crew, their arms—spears, axes, bows, and slings—beside them, ready for any deed of daring they might be called upon to perform. Their dress consisted of trousers of coarse stuff, belted at the waist; thick woollen shirts, blue, red, or brown in color; iron helmets, beneath which their long hair streamed down to their shoulders; and a shoulder belt descending to the waist and supporting their leather-covered sword-scabbards.
Heavy whiskers and moustaches added to the fierceness of their stern faces, and many of them wore as ornament on the forehead a band of gold. They numbered thirty-five in all, this crew who had set out to brave the terrors and solve the mysteries of the great Atlantic. Their leader, Leif by name, was the son of Eirek the Red, the discoverer of Greenland, and a Viking as fierce as ever breathed the air of the north land.
Outlawed in Norway, where in hot blood he had killed more men than the law could condone, Eirek had made his way to Iceland. Here his fierce temper led him again to murder, and flight once more became necessary. Manning a ship, he set sail boldly to the west, and in the year reached a land on which the eye of European had never before gazed.
To this he gave the name of Greenland, with the hope, perhaps, that this inviting name would induce others to follow him. Such proved to be the case. Eirek returned to Iceland, told the story of his discovery, and in set sail again for his new realm with twenty-five ships and many colonists. Others came afterwards, among them one Biarni, a bold and enterprising youth, for whom a great adventure was reserved. Enveloped in fogs, and driven for days from its course by northeasterly winds, his vessel was forced far to the south. When at length the fog cleared away, the distressed mariners saw land before them, a low, level, thickly-wooded region, very different from the ice-covered realm they had been led to expect.
And now the winds blew northward, and for seven days they scudded before a furious gale, passing on their way a mountainous, ice-covered island, and in the end, by great good fortune, Biarni's vessel put into the very port where his father had fixed his abode. Biarni had seen, but had not set foot upon, the shores of the New World. That was left for bolder or more enterprising mariners to perform. About he went to Norway, where the story of his strange voyage caused great excitement among the adventure-loving people.
Above all, it stirred up the soul of Leif, eldest son of Eirek the Red, then in Norway, who in his soul resolved to visit and explore that strange land which Biarni had only seen from afar. Leif returned to Greenland with more than this idea in his mind. When Eirek left Norway he had left a heathen land. When Leif visited it he found it a Christian country. Or at least he found there a Christian king, Olaf Tryggvason by name, who desired his guest to embrace the new faith. Leif consented without hesitation.
Heathenism did not seem very firmly fixed in the minds of those northern barbarians. He and all his sailors were baptized, and betook themselves to Greenland with this new faith as their most precious freight. In this way Christianity first made its way across the seas. And thus it further came about that the ship which we have seen set sail for southern lands.
This ship was that of Biarni. Leif had bought it, it may be with the fancy that it would prove fortunate in retracing its course. Not only Leif, but his father Eirek, now an old man, was fired with the hope of new discoveries. The aged Viking had given Greenland, to the world; it was a natural ambition to desire to add to his fame as a discoverer. But on his way to the vessel his horse stumbled.
Superstitious, as all men were in that day, he looked on this as an evil omen. I shall follow you no farther, but end my life in Greenland. Not so the adventurers. They boldly put out to sea, turned the prow of their craft southward, and battled with the waves day after day, their hearts full of hope, their eyes on the alert for the glint of distant lands.
At length land was discovered,—a dreary country, mountainous, icy; doubtless the inhospitable island which Biarni had described. They landed, but only to find themselves on a shore covered with bare, flat rocks, while before them loomed snow-covered heights. I will give this land a name, and will call it Helluland,"—a name which signifies the "land of broad stones.
Onward they sailed again, their hearts now filled with ardent expectation. At length rose again the stirring cry of "Land! We will not be like him, but will set foot on its promising shores. They landed, but tarried not long. Soon they took ship again, and sailed for two days out of sight of land. Then there came into view an island, with a broad channel between it and the mainland.
Up this channel they laid their course, and soon came to where a river poured its clear waters into the sea. They decided to explore this stream. The boat was lowered and the ship towed up the river, until, at a short distance inland, it broadened into a lake. Here, at Leif's command, the anchor was cast, and their good ship, the pioneer in American discovery, came to rest within the inland waters of the New World. Not many minutes passed before the hardy mariners were on shore, and eagerly observing the conditions of their new-discovered realm.
River and lake alike were full of salmon, the largest they had ever seen, a fact which agreeably settled the question of food. The climate seemed deliciously mild, as compared with the icy shores to which they were used. The grass was but little withered by frost, and promised a winter supply of food for cattle. Altogether they were so pleased with their surroundings that Leif determined to spend the winter at that place, exploring the land so far as he could. For some time they dwelt under booths, passing the nights in their leather sleeping-bags; but wood was abundant, axes and hands skilful to wield them were at hand, and they quickly went to work to build themselves habitations more suitable for the coming season of cold.
No inhabitants of the land were seen. So far as yet appeared, it might be a region on which human foot had never before been set. But Leif was a cautious leader. He bade his men not to separate until the houses were finished. Then he divided them into two parties, left one to guard their homes and their ship, and sent the other inland to explore. We know not what perils surround us. Go not so far inland but that you can get back by evening, and take care not to separate. Day after day these explorations continued, the men plunging into the forest that surrounded them and wandering far into its hidden recesses, each evening bringing back with them some story of the marvels of this new land, or some sample of its productions strange to their eyes.
An evening came in which one of the explorers failed to return. He had either disobeyed the injunctions of Leif and gone too far to get back by evening, or some peril of that unknown land had befallen him. This man was of German birth, Tyrker by name, a southerner who had for years dwelt with Eirek and been made the foster-father of Leif, who had been fond of him since childhood. He was a little, wretched-looking fellow, with protruding forehead, unsteady eyes, and tiny face, yet a man skilled in all manner of handicraft. Leif, on learning of his absence, upbraided the men bitterly for losing him, and called on twelve of them to follow him in search.
Into the forest they went, and before long had the good fortune to behold Tyrker returning. The little fellow, far from showing signs of disaster, was in the highest of spirits, his face radiant with joy. Tyrker was too excited to answer. He rolled his eyes wildly and made wry faces. When words came to him, he spoke in his native German, which none of them understood. Joy seemed to have driven all memory of the language of the north from his mind.
It was plain that no harm had come to him. On the contrary, he seemed to have stumbled upon some landfall of good luck. Yet some time passed before they could bring him out of his ecstasy into reason. I can tell you news. See, I have found vines and grapes," and he showed them his hands filled with the purple fruit. And this land bears them!
Behold what I bring you! The memory of his childhood had driven for the time all memory of the Norse language from his brain. Grapes he had not seen for many years, and the sight of them made him a child again. The others beheld the prize with little less joy. They slept where they were that night, and in the morning followed Tyrker to the scene of his discovery, where he gladly pointed to the arbor-like vines, laden thickly with wild grapes, a fruit delicious to their unaccustomed palates.
There are two kinds of work now to be done. One day you shall gather grapes the next you shall cut timber to freight the ship. We must show our friends north what a country we have found. As for this land, I have a new name for it. Let it be called Vineland, the land of grapes and wine.
After this discovery there is little of interest to record. The winter, which proved to be a very mild one, passed away, and in the spring they set sail again for Greenland, their ship laden deeply with timber, so useful a treasure in their treeless northern home, while the long-boat was filled to the gunwale with the grapes they had gathered and dried. Such is the story of the first discovery of America, as told in the sagas of the North.
Leif the Lucky was the name given the discoverer from that time forward. He made no more visits to Vineland, for during the next winter his father died, and he became the governing head of the Greenland settlements. But the adventurous Northmen were not the men to rest at ease with an untrodden continent so near at hand. Thorvald, Leif's brother, one of the boldest of his race, determined to see for himself the wonders of Vineland. In the spring of he set sail with thirty companions, in the pioneer ship of American discovery, the same vessel which Biarni and Leif had made famous in that service.
Unluckily the records fail to give us the name of this notable ship. Steering southward, they reached in due time the lake on whose shores Leif and his crew had passed the winter. The buildings stood unharmed, and the new crew passed a winter here, most of their time being spent in catching and drying the delicious salmon which thronged river and lake. In the spring they set sail again, and explored the coast for a long distance to the south. How far they went we cannot tell, for all we know of their voyage is that nearly everywhere they found white sandy shores and a background of unbroken forest.
Like Leif, they saw no men. Back they came to Vineland, and there passed the winter again. Another spring came in the tender green of the young leafage, and again they put to sea. So far fortune had steadily befriended them. Now the reign of misfortune began. Not far had they gone before the vessel was driven ashore by a storm, and broke her keel on a protruding shoal. This was not a serious disaster. A new keel was made, and the old one planted upright in the sands of the coast. On they sailed again, and came to a country of such attractive aspect that Thorvald looked upon it with longing eyes.
For now, for the first time in the story of these voyages, are we told of the natives of the land,—the Skroelings, as the Norsemen called them. Passing the cape which Thorvald had chosen for his home, the mariners landed to explore the shore, and on their way back to the ship saw, on the white sands, three significant marks. They were like those made by a boat when driven ashore. Continuing their observation, they quickly perceived, drawn well up on the shore, three skin-canoes turned keel upward.
Dividing into three parties, they righted these boats, and to their surprise saw that under each three men lay concealed. The blood-loving instinct of the Norsemen was never at fault in a case like this. Drawing their swords, they assailed the hidden men, and of the nine only one escaped, the other being stretched in death upon the beach. The mariners had made a fatal mistake.
To kill none, unless they could kill all, should have been their rule, a lesson in practical wisdom which they were soon to learn. But, heedless of danger and with the confidence of strength and courage, they threw themselves upon the sands, and, being weary and drowsy, were quickly lost in slumber. And now came a marvel.
A voice, none knew whence or of whom, called loudly in their slumbering ears,—. Wake all your men, if you would save your life and theirs! Haste to your ship and fly from land with all speed, for vengeance and death confront you. Suddenly aroused, they sprang to their feet, looking at each other with astounded eyes, and asking who had spoken those words. Little time for answer remained. The woods behind them suddenly seemed alive with fierce natives, who had been roused to vengeful fury by the flying fugitive, and now came on with hostile cries. The Norsemen sprang to their boats and rowed in all haste to the ship; but before they could make sail the surface of the bay swarmed with skin-boats, and showers of arrows were poured upon them.
The warlike mariners in turn assailed their foes with arrows, slings, and javelins, slaying so many of them that the remainder were quickly put to flight. But they fled not unrevenged. A keen-pointed arrow, flying between the ship's side and the edge of his shield, struck Thorvald in the armpit, wounding him so deeply that death threatened to follow the withdrawal of the fatal dart.
But as for me, you shall carry me to the place which I said would be so pleasant to dwell in. Doubtless truth came out of my mouth, for it may be that I shall live there for awhile. There you shall bury me and put crosses at my head and feet, and henceforward that place shall be called Krossanes" [Cross Cape]. The sorrowing sailors carried out the wishes of their dying chief, who lived but long enough to fix his eyes once more on the place which he had chosen for his home, and then closed them in the sleep of death.
They buried him here, placing the crosses at his head and feet as he had bidden, and then set sail again for the booths of Leif at Vineland, where part of their company had been left to gather grapes in their absence. To these they told the story of what had happened, and agreed with them that the winter should be spent in that place, and that in the spring they should obey Thorvald's request and set sail for Greenland.
This they did, taking on board their ship vines and an abundance of dried grapes. Ere the year was old their good ship again reached Eireksfjord, where Leif was told of the death of his brother and of all that had happened to the voyagers. The remaining story of the discoveries of the Northmen must be told in a few words. The next to set sail for that far-off land was Thorstein, the third son of Eirek the Red. He failed to get there, however, but made land on the east coast of Greenland, where he died, while his wife Gudrid returned home. Much was this woman noted for her beauty, and as much for her wisdom and prudence, so the sagas tell us.
In came to Greenland a noble Icelander, Thorfinn by name. That winter he married Gudrid, and so allied himself to the family of Eirek the Red. And quickly he took up the business of discovery, which had been pursued so ardently by Eirek and his sons. He sailed in , with three ships, for Vineland, where he remained three years, having many adventures with the natives, now trading with them for furs, now fighting with them for life. In Vineland was born a son to Thorfinn and Gudrid, the first white child born in America.
From him—Snorri Thorfinnson he was named—came a long line of illustrious descendants, many of whom made their mark in the history of Iceland and Denmark, the line ending in modern times in the famous Thorwaldsen, the greatest sculptor of the nineteenth century. The sagas thus picture for us the natives: "Swarthy they were in complexion, short and savage in aspect, with ugly hair, great eyes, and broad cheeks. For Freydis, his daughter, when pursued and likely to be captured by the natives, snatched up a sword which had been dropped by a slain Greenlander, and faced them so valiantly that they took to their heels in affright and fled precipitately to their canoes.
One more story, and we are done. In the spring of Thorfinn sailed north with the two ships which he still had. One of them reached Greenland in safety. The other, commanded by Biarni Grimolfson, was driven from its course, and, being worm-eaten, threatened to sink. There was but one boat, and this capable of holding but half the ship's company. Lots were cast to decide who should go in the boat, and who stay on the sinking ship.
Biarni was of those to whom fortune proved kindly. But he was a man of noble strain, fit for deeds of heroic fortitude and self-sacrifice. There was on board the ship a young Icelander, who had been put under Biarni's protection, and who lamented bitterly his approaching fate. So the devoted chieftain mounted again into the ship, and the youth, selfish with fear, took his place in the boat.
The end was as they had foreseen. The boat reached land, where the men told their story. The worm-eaten ship must have gone down in the waves, for Biarni and his comrades were never heard of again. Thus perished one of the world's heroes. Little remains to be told, for all besides is fragment and conjecture. It is true that in the year Freydis and her husband voyaged again to Vineland, though they made no new discoveries; and it is probable that in the following centuries other journeys were made to the same land.
But as time passed on Greenland grew colder; its icy harvest descended farther and farther upon its shores; in the end its colonies disappeared, and with them ended all intercourse with the grape-laden shores of Vineland. Just where lay this land of the vine no one to-day can tell. Some would place it as far north as Labrador; some seek to bring it even south of New England; the Runic records simply tell us of a land of capes, islands, rivers, and vines.
It is to the latter, and to the story of far-reaching forest-land, and pasturage lasting the winter through, that we owe the general belief that the Vikings reached New England's fertile shores, and that the ship of Biarni and Leif, with its war-loving crews, preceded by six centuries the Mayflower, with its peaceful and pious souls. Hardly had it been learned that Columbus was mistaken in his belief, and that the shores he had discovered were not those of India and Cathay, when vigorous efforts began to find some easy route to the rich lands of the Orient.
Balboa, in , crossed the continent at its narrow neck, and gazed, with astounded eyes, upon the mighty ocean that lay beyond,—the world's greatest sea. Magellan, in , sailed round the continent at its southern extremity, and turned his daring prows into that world of waters of seemingly illimitable width. But the route thus laid out was far too long for the feeble commerce of that early day, and various efforts were made to pass the line of the continent at some northern point.
The great rivers of North America, the James, the Hudson, and others, were explored in the eager hope that they might prove to be liquid canals between the two great seas. But a more promising hope was that which hinted that America might be circumnavigated at the north as well as at the south, and the Pacific be reached by way of the icy channel of the northern seas.
This hope, born so long ago, has but died out in our own days. Much of the most thrilling literature of adventure of the nineteenth century comes from the persistent efforts to traverse these perilous Arctic ocean wastes. Let us go back to the oldest of the daring navigators of this frozen sea, the worthy knight Sir Martin Frobisher, and tell the story of his notable efforts to discover a Northwest Passage, "the only thing left undone," as he quaintly says, "whereby a notable mind might become famous and fortunate. As an interesting preface to our story we may quote from that curious old tome , "Purchas his Pilgrimage," the following quaintly imaginative passage,—.
Thus in long-winded meed of praise writes Master Samuel Purchas. Of those bold mariners of whom he speaks our worthy knight, Sir Martin, is one of the first and far from the least. An effort had been made to discover a northwest passage to the Pacific as early as , and another nine years later; but these were feeble attempts, which ended in failure and disaster, and discovered nothing worthy of record.
It was in that Frobisher, one of the most renowned navigators of his day, put into effect the project he had cherished from his youth upward, and for which he had sought aid during fifteen weary years, that of endeavoring to solve the ice-locked secret of the Arctic seas.
The fleet with which this daring adventure was undertaken was a strangely insignificant one, consisting of three vessels which were even less in size than those with which Columbus had ventured on his great voyage. Two of these were but of twenty tons burden each, and the third only of ten, while the aggregate crews numbered but thirty-five men. With this tiny squadron, less in size than a trio of fishing-smacks, the daring adventurer set out to traverse the northern seas and face the waves of the great Pacific, if fortune should open to him its gates.
On the 11th of July, , the southern extremity of Greenland was sighted. It presented a more icy aspect than that which the Norsemen had seen nearly six centuries before. Sailing thence westward, the land of the continent came into view, and for the first time by modern Europeans was seen that strange race, now so well known under the name of Eskimo. The characteristics of this people, and the conditions of their life, are plainly described.
The captain "went on shore, and was encountered with mightie Deere, which ranne at him, with danger of his life.
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Here he had sight of the Savages, which rowed to his Shippe in Boates of Seales Skinnes, with a Keele of wood within them. They eate raw Flesh and Fish, or rather devoured the same: they had long black hayre, broad faces, flat noses, tawnie of color, or like an Olive. His first voyage went not beyond this point. He returned home, having lost five of his men, who were carried off by the natives. But he brought with him that which was sure to pave the way to future voyages.
This was a piece of glittering stone, which the ignorant goldsmiths of London confidently declared to be ore of gold. Frobisher's first voyage had been delayed by the great difficulty in obtaining aid. For his new project assistance was freely offered, Queen Elizabeth herself, moved by hope of treasure, coming to his help with a hundred and eighty-ton craft, the "Ayde," to which two smaller vessels were added.
These being provisioned and manned, the bold navigator, with "a merrie wind" in his sails, set out again for the desolate north. His first discovery here was of the strait now known by his name, up which he passed in a boat, with the mistaken notion in his mind that the land bounding the strait to the south was America, and that to the north was Asia. The natives proved friendly, but Frobisher soon succeeded in making them hostile.
He seized some of them and attempted to drag them to his boat, "that he might conciliate them by presents. But, to their great joy, the mariners found plenty of the shining yellow stones, and stowed abundance of them on their ships, deeming, like certain Virginian gold-seekers of a later date, that their fortunes were now surely made. They found also "a great dead fish, round like a porepis [porpoise], twelve feet long, having a Horne of two yardes, lacking two ynches, growing out of the Snout, wreathed and straight, like a Waxe-Taper, and might be thought to be a Sea-Unicorne.
It was reserved as a Jewell by the Queens' commandment in her Wardrobe of Robes. A northwest wind having cleared the strait of ice, the navigators sailed gayly forward, full of the belief that the Pacific would soon open to their eyes. It was not long before they were in battle with the Eskimos. They had found European articles in some native kyacks, which they supposed belonged to the men they had lost the year before.
To rescue or revenge these unfortunates, Frobisher attacked the natives, who valiantly resisted, even plucking the arrows from their bodies to use as missiles, and, when mortally hurt, flinging themselves from the rocks into the sea. At length they gave ground, and fled to the loftier cliffs, leaving two of their women as trophies to the assailants. These two, one "being olde," says the record, "the other encombred with a yong childe, we took.
The olde wretch, whom divers of our Saylors supposed to be eyther the Divell, or a witch, had her buskins plucked off, to see if she were cloven-footed; and for her ougly hewe and deformitie, we let her goe; the young woman and the childe we brought away. This was not the last of their encounters with the Eskimos, who, incensed against them, made every effort to entrap them into their power. Their stratagems consisted in placing tempting pieces of meat at points near which they lay in ambush, and in pretending lameness to decoy the Englishmen into pursuit.
These schemes failing, they made a furious assault upon the vessel with arrows and other missiles. Before the strait could be fully traversed, ice had formed so thickly that further progress was stopped, and, leaving the hoped-for Cathay for future voyagers, the mariners turned their prows homeward, their vessels laden with two hundred tons of the glittering stone.
Strangely enough, an examination of this material failed to dispel the delusion. The scientists of that day declared that it was genuine gold-ore, and ex pressed their belief that the road to China lay through Frobisher Strait. Untold wealth, far surpassing that which the Spaniards had obtained in Mexico and Peru, seemed ready to shower into England's coffers. Frobisher was now given the proud honor of kissing the queen's hand, his neck was encircled with a chain of gold of more value than his entire two hundred tons of ore, and, with a fleet of fifteen ships, one of them of four hundred tons, he set sail again for the land of golden promise.
Of the things that happened to him in this voyage, one of the most curious is thus related. The whale thereat made a great and hideous noyse, and casting up his body and tayle, presently sank under water. Within two days they found a whale dead, which they supposed was this which the Salamander had stricken. Other peril came to the fleet from icebergs, through the midst of which they were driven by a tempest, but they finally made their way into what is now known as Hudson Strait, up which, filled with hope that the continental limits would quickly be passed and the route to China open before them, they sailed some sixty miles.
But to their disappointment they found that they were being turned southward, and, instead of crossing the continent, were descending into its heart. Reluctantly Frobisher turned back, and, after many buffetings from the storms, managed to bring part of his fleet into Frobisher Bay. So much time had been lost that it was not safe to proceed.
Winter might surprise them in those icy wilds. Therefore, shipping immense quantities of the "fools' gold" which had led them so sadly astray, they turned their prows once more homeward, reaching England's shores in early October. Meanwhile the "ore" had been found to be absolutely worthless, the golden dreams which had roused England to exultation had faded away, and the new ship-loads they brought were esteemed to be hardly worth their weight as ballast. For this disappointment the unlucky Frobisher, who had been appointed High Admiral of all lands and waters which he might discover, could not be held to blame.
It was not he that had pronounced the worthless pyrites gold, and he had but obeyed orders in bringing new cargoes of this useless rubbish to add to the weight of Albion's rock-bound shores. But he could not obtain aid for a new voyage to the icy north, England for the time had lost all interest in that unpromising region, and Frobisher was forced to employ in other directions his skill in seamanship. With the after-career of this unsuccessful searcher for the Northwest Passage we have no concern.
It will suffice to say that fortune attended his later ventures upon the seas, and that he died in , from a wound which he received in a naval battle off the coast of France. Louis, the Sorel and the St. John—poured the waters of an unknown interior lake into the channel of the broad St. Lawrence, there was presented a striking spectacle. Everywhere on the liquid surface canoes, driven by the steady sweep of paddles wielded by naked and dusky arms, shot to and fro.
Near the shore a small shallop, on whose deck stood a group of armed whites, had just cast anchor, and was furling its sails. Upon the strip of open land bordering the river, and in the woodland beyond, were visible great numbers of savage warriors, their faces hideously bedaubed with war-paint, their hands busy in erecting the frail habitations of a temporary camp. The scene was one of striking beauty, such as only the virgin wilderness can display. The river ran between walls of fresh green leafage, here narrowed, yonder widened into a broad reach which was encircled by far sweeping forests.
The sun shone broadly on the animated scene, while the whites, from the deck of their small craft, gazed with deep interest on the strange picture before them, filled as it was with dusky natives, some erecting their forest shel ters, others fishing in the stream, while still others were seeking the forest depths in pursuit of game. The scene is of interest to us for another reason. It was the prelude to the first scene of Indian warfare which the eyes of Europeans were to behold in the northern region of the American continent. The Spaniards had been long established in the south, but no English settlement had yet been made on the shores of the New World, and the French had but recently built a group of wooden edifices on that precipitous height which is now crowned with the walls and the spires of Quebec.
Not long had the whites been there before the native hunters of the forests came to gaze with wondering eyes on those pale-faced strangers, with their unusual attire and surprising powers of architecture. And quickly they begged their aid in an expedition against their powerful enemies, the confederated nations of the Iroquois, who dwelt in a wonderful lake-region to the south, and by their strength, skill, and valor had made themselves the terror of the tribes.
Samuel de Champlain, an adventurous Frenchman who had already won himself reputation by an exploration of the Spanish domain of the West Indies, was now in authority at Quebec, and did not hesitate to promise his aid in the coming foray, moved, perhaps, by that thirst for discovery and warlike spirit which burned deeply in his breast. The Indians had told him of great lakes and mighty rivers to the south, and doubtless the ardent wish to be the first to traverse these unknown waters was a moving impulse in his ready assent.
With the opening season the warriors gathered, Hurons and Algonquins, a numerous band. They paddled to Quebec; gazed with surprise on the strange buildings, the story of which had already been told in their distant wigwams, and on their no less strange inmates; feasted, smoked, and debated; and shrank in consternation from the piercing report of the arquebuse and the cannon's frightful roar.
Their savage hearts were filled with exultation on learning the powers of their new allies. Surely these wonderful strangers would deal destruction on their terrible foes. Burning with thirst for vengeance, they made their faces frightful with the war-paint, danced with frenzied gestures round the blaze of their camp-fires, filled the air with ear-piercing war-whoops, and at the word of command hastened to their canoes and swept in hasty phalanx up the mighty stream, accompanied by Champlain and eleven other white allies.
Two days the war-party remained encamped at the place where we have seen them, hunting, fishing, fasting, and quarrelling, the latter so effectually that numbers of them took to their canoes and paddled angrily away, scarce a fourth of the original array being left for the march upon the dreaded enemy. It was no easy task which now lay before them. The journey was long, the way difficult. Onward again swept the diminutive squadron, the shallop outsailing the canoes, and making its way up the Richelieu, Champlain being too ardent with the fever of discovery to await the slow work of the paddles.
He had not, however, sailed far up that forest-enclosed stream before unwelcome sounds came to his ears. The roar of rushing and tumbling waters sounded through the still air. And now, through the screen of leaves, came a vision of snowy foam and the flash of leaping waves. The Indians had lied to him. They had promised him an unobstructed route to the great lake ahead, and here already were rapids in his path. How far did the obstruction extend? That must be learned.
Leaving the shallop, he set out with part of his men to explore the wilds. It was no easy journey. Tangled vines, dense thickets, swampy recesses crossed the way. Here lay half-decayed tree-trunks; there heaps of rocks lifted their mossy tops in the path. And ever, as they went, the roar of the rapids followed, while through the foliage could be seen the hurrying waters, pouring over rocks, stealing amid drift-logs, eddying in chasms, and shooting in white lines of foam along every open space.
Was this the open river of which he had been told; this the ready route to the great lake beyond? In anger and dismay, Champlain retraced his steps, to find, when he reached the shallop, that the canoes of the savages had come up, and now filled the stream around it. The disappointed adventurer did not hesitate to tell them that they had lied to him; but he went on to say that though they had broken their word he would keep his.
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In truth, the vision of the mighty lake, with its chain of islands, its fertile shores, and bordering forests, of which they had told him, rose alluringly before his eyes, and with all the ardor of the pioneer he was determined to push onward into that realm of the unknown. But their plans must be changed. Nine of the men were sent back to Quebec with the shallop. Champlain, with two others, determined to proceed in the Indian canoes.
At his command the warriors lifted their light boats from the water, and bore them on their shoulders over the difficult portage past the rapids, to the smooth stream above. Here, launching them again, the paddles once more broke the placid surface of the stream, and onward they went, still through the primeval forest, which stretched away in an unbroken expanse of green. It was a virgin solitude, unmarked by habitation, destitute of human inmate, abundant with game; for it was the debatable land between warring tribes, traversed only by hostile bands, the battle-ground of Iroquois and Algonquin hordes.
None could dwell here in safety; even hunting-parties had to be constantly prepared for war. Through this region of blood and terror the canoes made their way, now reduced to twenty-four in number, manned by sixty warriors and three white allies. The advance was made with great caution, for danger was in the air.
Scouts were sent in advance through the forests; others were thrown out on the flanks and rear, hunting for game as they went; for the store of pounded and parched maize which the warriors had brought with them was to be kept for food when the vicinity of the foe should render hunting impossible. The scene that night, as described by Champlain was one to be remembered. The canoes were drawn up closely, side by side. Active life pervaded the chosen camp. Here some gathered dry wood for their fires; there others stripped off sheets of bark, to cover their forest wigwams; yonder the sound of axes was followed by the roar of falling trees.
The savages had steel axes, obtained from the French, and, with their aid, in two hours a strong defensive work, constructed of the felled trunks, was built, a half-circle in form, with the river at its two ends. This was the extent of their precautions. The returning scouts reported that the forest in advance was empty of foes. The tawny host cast themselves in full security on the grassy soil, setting no guards, and were soon lost in slumber, with that blind trust in fortune which has ever been one of the weak features of Indian warfare.
They had not failed, however, to consult their oracles, those spirits which the medicine-man was looked upon as an adept at invoking, and whose counsel was ever diligently sought by the superstitious natives. The conjurer crept within his skin-covered lodge, where, crouched upon the earth, he filled the air with inarticulate invocations to the surrounding spirits; while outside, squatted on the ground, the dusky auditors looked and listened with awe.
Suddenly the lodge began to rock violently, by the power of the spirits, as the Indians deemed, though Champlain fancied that the arm of the medicine-man was the only spirit at work. The medicine-man by this time had worked himself into convulsions. He called loudly upon the spirit in an unknown language, and was answered in squeaking tones like those of a young puppy. This powerful spirit was deemed to be present in the form of a stone. When the conjurer reappeared his body streamed with perspiration, while the story he had to tell promised an auspicious termination of the enterprise.
This was not the only performance of the warriors. There was another of a more rational character. Bundles of sticks were collected by the leading chief, which he stuck in the earth in a fixed order, calling each by the name of some warrior, the taller ones representing the chiefs. The arrangement of the sticks indicated the plan of battle.
Each warrior was to occupy the position indicated by his special stick. The savages gathered closely round, intently studied the plan, then formed their ranks in accordance therewith, broke them, reformed them, and continued the process with a skill and alacrity that surprised and pleased their civilized observer.
With the early morning light they again advanced, following the ever-widening stream, in whose midst islands leagues in extent now appeared. Beyond came broad channels and extended reaches of widening waters, and soon the delighted explorer found that the river had ended and that the canoes were moving over the broad bosom of that great lake of which the Indians had told him, and which has ever since borne his name.
It was a charming scene which thus first met the eyes of civilized man. Far in front spread the inland sea. On either side distant forests, clad in the fresh leafage of June, marked the borders of the lake. Far away, over their leafy tops, appeared lofty heights; on the left the Green Mountains lifted their forest-clad ridges, with patches of snow still whitening their tops; on the right rose the clustering hills of the Adirondacks, then the hunting-grounds of the Iroquois, and destined to remain the game-preserves of the whites long after the axe and plough had subdued all the remainder of that forest-clad domain.
They had reached a region destined to play a prominent part in the coming history of America. The savages told their interested auditors of another lake, thickly studded with islands, beyond that on which they now were; and still beyond a rocky portage over which they hoped to carry their canoes, and a great river which flowed far down to the mighty waters of the sea. If they met not the foe sooner they would press onward to this stream, and there perhaps surprise some town of the Mohawks, whose settlements approached its banks. This same liquid route in later days was to be traversed by warlike hosts both in the French and Indian and the Revolutionary Wars, and to be signalized by the capture of Burgoyne and his invading host, one of the most vital events in the American struggle for liberty.
The present expedition was not to go so far. Hostile bands were to be met before they left the sheet of water over which their canoes now glided. Onward they went, the route becoming hourly more dangerous. At length they changed their mode of progress, resting in the depths of the forest all day long, taking to the waters at twilight, and paddling cautiously onward till the crimsoning of the eastern sky told them that day was near at hand. Then the canoes were drawn up in sheltered coves, and the warriors, chatting, smoking, and sleeping, spent on the leafy lake borders the slow-moving hours of the day.
The journey was a long one. It was the 29th of July when they reached a point far down the lake, near the present site of Crown Point. They had paddled all night. They hid here all day. Champlain fell asleep on a heap of spruce boughs, and in his slumber dreamed that he had seen the Iroquois drowning in the lake, and that when he tried to rescue them he had been told by his Algonquin friends to leave them alone, as they were not worth the trouble of saving. The Indians believed in the power of dreams. They had beset Champlain daily to learn if he had had any visions.
When now he told them his dream they were filled with joy. Victory had spoken into his slumbering ear. With gladness they re-embarked when night came on, and continued their course down the lake. They had not far to go. At ten o'clock, through the shadows of the night, they beheld a number of dark objects on the lake before them.
It was a fleet of Iroquois canoes, heavier and slower craft than those of the Algonquins, for they were made of oak-or elm-bark, instead of the light paper-birch used by the latter. Each party saw the other, and recognized that they were in the presence of foes. War-cries sounded over the shadowy waters. The Iroquois, who preferred to do their fighting on land and who were nearer shore, hastened to the beach and began at once to build a barricade of logs, filling the air of the night with yells of defiance as they worked away like beavers.
The allies meanwhile remained on the lake, their canoes lashed together with poles, dancing with a vigor that imperilled their frail barks, and answering the taunts and menaces of their foes with equally vociferous abuse. It was agreed that the battle should be deferred till daybreak. As day approached Champlain and his two followers armed themselves, their armor consisting of cuirass, or breast-plate, steel coverings for the thighs, and a plumed helmet for the head.
By the side of the leader hung his sword, and in his hand was his arquebuse, which he had loaded with four balls. The savages of these woods were now first to learn the destructive power of that weapon, for which in the years to come they would themselves discard the antiquated bow. The Iroquois much outnumbered their foes. There were some two hundred of them in all, tall, powerful men, the boldest warriors of America, whose steady march excited Champlain's admiration as he saw them filing from their barricade and advancing through the woods.
As for himself and his two companions, they had remained concealed in the canoes, and not even when a landing was made did the Iroquois behold the strangely-clad allies of their hereditary enemies. Not until they stood face to face, ready for the battle-cry, did the Algonquin ranks open, and the white men advance before the astonished gaze of the Iroquois. Never before had they set eyes on such an apparition, and they stood in mute wonder while Champlain raised his arquebuse, took aim at a chief, and fired.
The chief fell dead. A warrior by his side fell wounded in the bushes. As the report rang through the air a frightful yell came from the allies, and in an instant their arrows were whizzing thickly through the ranks of their foes. For a moment the Iroquois stood their ground and returned arrow for arrow. But when from the two flanks of their adversaries came new reports, and other warriors bit the dust, their courage gave way to panic terror, and they turned and fled in wild haste through the forest, swiftly pursued by the triumphant Algonquins. Several of the Iroquois were killed. A number were captured.
At night the victors camped in triumph on the field of battle, torturing one of their captives till Champlain begged to put him out of pain, and sent a bullet through his heart. Thus ended the first battle between whites and Indians on the soil of the northern United States, in a victory for which the French were to pay dearly in future days, at the hands of their now vanquished foes. With the dawn of the next day the victors began their retreat.
A few days of rapid paddling brought them to the Richelieu. Here they separated, the Hurons and Algonquins returning to their homes by way of the Ottowa, the Montagnais, who dwelt in the vicinity of Quebec, accompanying Champlain to his new-built city. The Iroquois, however, were not the men to be quelled by a single defeat.
In June of the ensuing year a war-party of them advanced to the mouth of the Richelieu, and a second fierce battle took place. As another vivid example of the character of Indian warfare, the story of this conflict, may be added to that already given. On an island in the St. Lawrence near the mouth of the Richelieu was gathered a horde of Montagnais Indians, Champlain and others of the whites being with them.
A war-party of Algonquins was expected, and busy preparations were being made for feast and dance, in order that they might be received with due honor. In the midst of this festal activity an event occurred that suddenly changed thoughts of peace to those of war. At a distance on the stream appeared a single canoe, approaching as rapidly as strong arms could drive it through the water. On coming near, its inmates called out loudly that the Algonquins were in the forest, engaged in battle with a hundred Iroquois, who, outnumbered, were fighting from behind a barricade of trees which they had hastily erected.
In an instant the air was filled with deafening cries. Tidings of battle were to the Indians like a fresh scent to hounds of the chase: The Montagnais flew to their canoes, and paddled with frantic haste to the opposite shore, loudly calling on Champlain and his fellow-whites to follow. They obeyed, crossing the stream in canoes. As the shore was reached the warriors flung down their paddles, snatched up their weapons, and darted into the woods with such speed that the Frenchmen found it impossible to keep them in sight.
It was a hot and oppressive day; the air was filled with mosquitoes,—"so thick," says Champlain, "that we could hardly draw breath, and it was wonderful how cruelly they persecuted us,"—their route lay through swampy soil, where the water at places stood knee-deep; over fallen logs, wet and slimy, and under entangling vines; their heavy armor added to their discomfort; the air was close and heavy; altogether it was a progress fit to make one sicken of warfare in the wilderness. After struggling onward till they were almost in despair, they saw two Indians in the distance, and by vigorous shouts secured their aid as guides to the field of battle.
An instinct seemed to guide the savages through that dense and tangled forest. In a short time they led the laboring whites to a point where the woodland grew thinner, and within hearing of the wild war-whoops of the combatants. Soon they emerged into a partial clearing, which had been made by the axes of the Iroquois in preparing their breastwork of defence. Champlain gazed upon the scene before him with wondering eyes.
In front was a circular barricade, composed of trunks of trees, boughs, and matted twigs, behind which the Iroquois stood like tigers at bay. In the edge of the forest around were clustered their yelling foes, screaming shrill defiance, yet afraid to attack, for they had already been driven back with severe loss. Their hope now lay in their white allies, and when they saw Champlain and his men a yell arose that rent the air, and a cloud of winged arrows was poured into the woodland fort.
The beleaguered Iroquois replied with as fierce a shout, and with a better-aimed shower of arrows. At least Champlain had reason to think so, for one of these stone-headed darts split his ear, and tore a furrow through the muscles of his neck. One of his men received a similar wound. Furious with pain, Champlain, secure in his steel armor, rushed to the woodland fort, followed by his men, and discharged their arquebuses through its crevices upon the dismayed savages within, who, wild with terror at this new and deadly weapon, flung themselves flat upon the earth at each report.
At each moment the scene of war grew more animated. The assailing Indians, yelling in triumph, ran up under cover of their large wooden shields, and began to tug at the trees of the barricade, while other of them gathered thickly in the bushes for the final onset. And now, from the forest depths, came hurrying to the scene a new party of French allies,—a boat's crew of fur-traders, who had heard the firing and flown with warlike eagerness to take part in the fight. The bullets of these new assailants added to the terror of the Iroquois.
They writhed and darted to and fro to escape the leaden missiles that tore through their frail barricade. At a signal from Champlain the allies rushed from their leafy covert, flew to the breastwork, tore down or clambered over the boughs, and precipitated themselves into the fort, while the French ceased their firing and led a party of Indians to the assault on the opposite side. The howls of defiance, screams of pain, deafening war-whoops, and dull sound of deadly blows were now redoubled.
Many of the Iroquois stood their ground, hewing with tomahawks and war-clubs, and dying not unrevenged. Some leaped the barrier and were killed by the crowd outside; others sprang into the river and were drowned; of them all not one escaped, and at the end of the conflict but fifteen remained alive, prisoners in the hands of their deadly foes, destined victims of torture and flame.
On the next day a large party of Hurons arrived, and heard with envy the story of the fight, in which they were too late to take part. The forest and river shore were crowded with Indian huts. Hundreds of warriors assembled, who spent the day in wild war-dances and songs, then loaded their canoes and paddled away in triumph to their homes, without a thought of following up their success and striking yet heavier blows upon their dreaded enemy.
Even Champlain, who was versed in civilized warfare, made no attempt to lead them to an invasion of the Iroquois realm. He did not dream of the deadly reprisal which the now defeated race would exact for this day of disaster. Of the further doings of Champlain we shall relate but one incident,—a thrilling adventure which he tells of his being lost in the interminable woodland depths.
Year after year he continued his explorations; now voyaging far up the Ottawa; now reaching the mighty inland sea of Lake Huron, voyaging upon its waters, and visiting the Indian villages upon its shores; now again battling with the Iroquois, who, this time, drove their assailants in baffled confusion from their fort; now joining an Indian hunting-party, and taking part with them in their annual deer -hunt.
For this they constructed two lines of posts interlaced with boughs, each more than half a mile long, and converging to a point where a strong enclosure was built. The hunters drove the deer before them into this enclosure, where others despatched them with spears and arrows. It was during this expedition that the incident referred to took place. Champlain had gone into the forest with the hunters. Here he saw a bird new to him, and whose brilliant hue and strange shape struck him with surprise and admiration. It was, to judge from his description, a red-headed woodpecker.
Bent on possessing this winged marvel, he pursued it, gun in hand. From bough to bough, from tree to tree, the bird fitted onward, leading the unthinking hunter step by step deeper into the wilderness.
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