Read CHAPTER II of The Conquest of Canada (Vol. 1 of 2) , free online book, by George Warburton, on ReadCentral.com.

In the year 1534, Philip Chabot, admiral of France, urged the king to establish a colony in the New World, by representing to him in glowing colors the great riches and power derived by the Spaniards from their transatlantic possessions. Francis I., alive to the importance of the design, soon agreed to carry it out. JACQUES CARTIER, an experienced navigator of St. Malo, was recommended by the admiral to be intrusted with the expedition, and was approved of by the king. On the 20th of April, 1534, Cartier sailed from St. Malo with two ships of only sixty tons burden each, and one hundred and twenty men for their crews: he directed his course westward, inclining rather to the north; the winds proved so favorable, that on the twentieth day of the voyage he made Cape Bonavista, in Newfoundland. But the harbors of that dreary country were still locked up in the winter’s ice, forbidding the approach of shipping: he then bent to the southeast, and at length found anchorage at St. Catharine, six degrees lower in latitude. Having remained here ten days, he again turned to the north, and on the 21st of May reached Bird Island, fourteen leagues from the coast.

Jacques Cartier examined all the northern shores of Newfoundland, without having ascertained that it was an island, and then passed southward through the Straits of Belleisle. The country appeared every where the same bleak and inhospitable wilderness; but the harbors were numerous, convenient, and abounding in fish. He describes the natives as well-proportioned men, wearing their hair tied up over their heads like bundles of hay, quaintly interlaced with birds’ feathers. Changing his course still more to the south, he then traversed the Gulf of St. Lawrence, approached the main-land, and on the 9th of July entered a deep bay; from the intense heat experienced there, he named it the “Baye de Chaleurs.” The beauty of the country, and the kindness and hospitality of his reception, alike charmed him; he carried on a little trade with the friendly savages, exchanging European goods for their furs and provisions.

Leaving this bay, Jacques Cartier visited a considerable extent of the gulf coast; on the 24th of July he erected a cross thirty feet high, with a shield bearing the fleurs-de-lys of France, on the shore of Gaspe Bay. Having thus taken possession of the country for his king in the usual manner of those days, he sailed, the 25th of July, on his homeward voyage: at this place two of the natives were seized by stratagem, carried on board the ships, and borne away to France. Cartier coasted along the northern shores of the Gulf till the 15th of August, and even entered the mouth of the River St. Lawrence, but the weather becoming stormy, he determined to delay his departure no longer: he passed again through the Straits of Belleisle, and arrived at St. Malo on the 5th of September, 1534, contented with his success, and full of hope for the future.

Jacques Cartier was received with the consideration due to the importance of his report. The court at once perceived the advantage of an establishment in this part of America, and resolved to take steps for its foundation. Charles de Moncy, Sieur de la Mailleraye, vice-admiral of France, was the most active patron of the undertaking; through his influence Cartier obtained a more effective force, and a new commission, with ampler powers than before. When the preparations for the voyage were completed, the adventurers all assembled in the Cathedral of St. Malo, on Whitsunday, 1535, by the command of their pious leader; the bishop then gave them a solemn benediction, with all the imposing cérémonials of the Romish Church.

On the 19th of May Jacques Cartier embarked, and started on his voyage with fair wind and weather. The fleet consisted of three small ships, the largest being only one hundred and twenty tons burden. Many adventurers and young men of good family accompanied the expedition as volunteers. On the morrow the wind became adverse, and rose to a storm; the heavens lowered over the tempestuous sea; for more than a month the utmost skill of the mariners could only enable them to keep their ships afloat, while tossed about at the mercy of the waves. The little fleet was dispersed on the 25th of June: each vessel then made for the coast of Newfoundland as it best might. The general’s vessel, as that of Cartier was called, was the first to gain the land, on the 7th of July, and there awaited her consorts; but they did not arrive till the 26th of the month. Having taken in supplies of fuel and water, they sailed in company to explore the Gulf of St. Lawrence. A violent storm arose on the 1st of August, forcing them to seek shelter. They happily found a port on the north shore, at the entrance of the Great River, where, though difficult of access, there was a safe anchorage. Jacques Cartier called it St. Nicolas, and it is now almost the only place still bearing the name he gave. They left their harbor on the 7th, coasting westward along the north shore, and on the 10th came to a gulf filled with numerous and beautiful islands. Cartier gave this gulf the name of St. Lawrence, having discovered it on that saint’s festival day.

On the 15th of August they reached a long, rocky island toward the south, which Cartier named L’Isle de l’Assumption, now called Anticosti. Thence they continued their course, examining carefully both shores of the Great River, and occasionally holding communication with the inhabitants, till, on the 1st of September, they entered the mouth of the deep and gloomy Saguenay. The entrance of this great tributary was all they had leisure to survey; but the huge rocks, dense forests, and vast body of water, forming a scene of somber magnificence such as had never before met their view, inspired them with an exalted idea of the country they had discovered. Still passing to the southwest up the St. Lawrence, on the 6th they reached an island abounding in delicious filberts, and on that account named by the voyagers Isle aux Coudres. Cartier, being now so far advanced into an unknown country, looked out anxiously for a port where his vessels might winter in safety. He pursued his voyage till he came upon another island, of great extent, fertility, and beauty, covered with woods and thick, clustering vines. This he named Isle de Bacchus: it is now called Orleans. On the 7th of September, Donnacona, the chief of the country, came with twelve canoes filled by his train, to hold converse with the strangers, whose ships lay at anchor between the island and the north shore of the Great River. The Indian chief approached the smallest of the ships with only two canoes, fearful of causing alarm, and began an oration, accompanied with strange and uncouth gestures. After a time he conversed with the Indians who had been seized on the former voyage, and now acted as interpreters. He heard from them of their wonderful visit to the great nation over the salt lake, of the wisdom and power of the white men, and of the kind treatment they had received among the strangers. Donnacona appeared moved with deep respect and admiration; he took Jacques Cartier’s arm and placed it gently over his own bended neck, in token of confidence and regard. The admiral cordially returned these friendly demonstrations. He entered the Indian’s canoe, and presented bread and wine, which they ate and drank together. They then parted in all amity.

After this happy interview, Jacques Cartier, with his boats, pushed up the north shore against the stream, till he reached a spot where a little river flowed into a “goodly and pleasant sound,” forming a convenient haven. He moored his vessels here for the winter on the 16th of September, and gave the name of St. Croix to the stream, in honor of the day on which he first entered its waters; Donnacona, accompanied by a train of five hundred Indians, came to welcome his arrival with generous friendship. In the angle formed by the tributary stream and the Great River, stood the town of Stadacona, the dwelling-place of the chief; thence an irregular slope ascended to a lofty height of table-land: from this eminence a bold headland frowned over the St. Lawrence, forming a rocky wall three hundred feet in height. The waters of the Great River here narrowed to less than a mile in breath rolled deeply and rapidly past into the broad basin beyond. When the white men first stood on the summit of this bold headland, above their port of shelter, most of the country was fresh from the hand of the Creator; save the three small barks lying at the mouth of the stream, and the Indian village, no sign of human habitation met their view. Far as the eye could reach, the dark forest spread; over hill and valley, mountain and plain; up to the craggy peaks, down to the blue water’s edge; along the gentle slopes of the rich Isle of Bacchus, and even from projecting rocks, and in fissures of the lofty precipice, the deep green mantle of the summer foliage hung its graceful folds. In the dim distance, north, south, east, and west, where mountain rose above mountain in tumultuous variety of outline, it was still the same; one vast leafy vail concealed the virgin face of Nature from the stranger’s sight. On the eminence commanding this scene of wild but magnificent beauty, a prosperous city now stands; the patient industry of man has felled that dense forest, tree by tree, for miles and miles around, and where it stood, rich fields rejoice the eye; the once silent waters of the Great River below now surge against hundreds of stately ships; commerce has enriched this spot, art adorned it; a memory of glory endears it to every British heart. But the name QUEBEC still remains unchanged; as the savage first pronounced it to the white stranger, it stands to-day among the proudest records of our country’s story.

The chief Donnacona and the French continued in friendly intercourse, day by day exchanging good offices and tokens of regard. But Jacques Cartier was eager for further discoveries; the two Indian interpreters told him that a city of much larger size than Stadacona lay further up the river, the capital of a great country; it was called in the native tongue Hochelaga; thither he resolved to find his way. The Indians endeavored vainly to dissuade their dangerous guests from this expedition; they represented the distance, the lateness of the season, the danger of the great lakes and rapid currents; at length they had recourse to a kind of masquerade or pantomime, to represent the perils of the voyage, and the ferocity of the tribes inhabiting that distant land. The interpreters earnestly strove to dissuade Jacques Cartier from proceeding on his enterprise, and one of them refused to accompany him. The brave Frenchman would not hearken to such dissuasions, and treated with equal contempt the verbal and pantomimic warnings of the alleged difficulties. As a precautionary measure to impress the savages with an exalted idea of his power as a friend or foe, he caused twelve cannon loaded with bullets to be fired in their presence against a wood; amazed and terrified at the noise, and the effects of this discharge, they fled, howling and shrieking, away.

Jacques Cartier sailed for Hochelaga on the 19th of September; he took with him the Hermerillon, one of his smallest ships, the pinnace, and two long-boats, bearing thirty-five armed men, with their provisions and ammunition. The two larger vessels and their crews were left in the harbor of St. Croix, protected by poles and stakes driven into the water so as to form a barricade. The voyage presented few of the threatened difficulties; the country on both sides of the Great River was rich and varied, covered with stately timber, and abounding in vines. The natives were every where friendly and hospitable; all that they possessed was freely offered to the strangers. At a place called Hochelai, the chief of the district visited the French, and showed much friendship and confidence, presenting Jacques Cartier with a girl seven years of age, one of his own children.

On the 29th, the expedition was stopped in Lake St. Pierre by the shallows, not having hit upon the right channel. Jacques Cartier took the resolution of leaving his larger vessels behind and proceeding with his two boats; he met with no further interruption, and at length reached Hochelaga on the 2d of October, accompanied by De Pontbriand, De la Pommeraye, and De Gozelle, three of his volunteers. The natives welcomed him with every demonstration of joy and hospitality; above a thousand people, of all ages and sexes, come forth to meet the strangers, greeting them with affectionate kindness. Jacques Cartier, in return for their generous reception, bestowed presents of tin, beads, and other bawbles upon all the women, and gave some knives to the men. He returned to pass the night in the boats, while the savages made great fires on the shore, and danced merrily all night long. The place where the French first landed was probably about eleven miles from the city of Hochelaga, below the rapid of St. Mary.

On the day after his arrival Jacques Cartier proceeded to the town; his volunteers and some others of his followers accompanied him, arrayed in full dress; three of the natives undertook to guide them on their way. The road was well beaten, and bore evidence of having been much frequented: the country through which it passed was exceedingly rich and fertile. Hochelaga stood in the midst of great fields of Indian corn; it was of a circular form, containing about fifty large huts, each fifty paces long and from fourteen to fifteen wide, all built in the shape of tunnels, formed of wood, and covered with birch bark; the dwellings were divided into several rooms, surrounding an open court in the center, where the fires burned. Three rows of palisades encircled the town, with only one entrance; above the gate, and over the whole length of the outer ring of defense, there was a gallery, approached by flights of steps, and plentifully provided with stones and other missiles to resist attack. This was a place of considerable importance, even in those remote days, as the capital of a great extent of country, and as having eight or ten villages subject to its sway.

The inhabitants spoke the language of the great Huron nation, and were more advanced in civilization than any of their neighbors: unlike other tribes, they cultivated the ground and remained stationary. The French were well received by the people of Hochelaga; they made presents, the Indians gave fêtes; their fire-arms, trumpets, and other warlike equipments filled the minds of their simple hosts with wonder and admiration, and their beards and clothing excited a curiosity which the difficulties of an unknown language prevented from being satisfied. So great was the veneration for the white men, that the chief of the town, and many of the maimed, sick, and infirm, came to Jacques Cartier, entreating him, by expressive signs, to cure their ills. The pious Frenchman disclaimed any supernatural power, but he read aloud part of the Gospel of St. John, made the sign of the cross over the sufferers, and presented them with chaplets and other holy symbols; he then prayed earnestly that the poor savages might be freed from the night of ignorance and infidelity. The Indians regarded these acts and words with deep gratitude and respectful admiration.

Three miles from Hochelaga, there was a lofty hill, well tilled and very fertile; thither Jacques Cartier bent his way, after having examined the town. From the summit he saw the river and the country for thirty leagues around, a scene of singular beauty. To this hill he gave the name of Mont Royal; since extended to the large and fertile island on which it stands, and to the city below. Time has now swept away every trace of Hochelaga; on its site the modern capital of Canada has arisen; fifty thousand people of European race, and stately buildings of carved stone, replace the simple Indians and the huts of the ancient town.

Jacques Cartier, having made his observations, returned to the boats, attended by a great concourse; when any of his men appeared fatigued with their journey, the kind Indians carried them on their shoulders. This short stay of the French seemed to sadden and displease these hospitable people, and on the departure of the boats they followed their course for some distance along the banks of the river. On the 4th of October Jacques Cartier reached the shallows, where the pinnace had been left; he resumed his course the following day, and arrived at St. Croix on the 11th of the same month.

The men who had remained at St. Croix had busied themselves during their leader’s absence in strengthening their position, so as to secure it against surprise, a wise precaution under any circumstances among a savage people, but especially in the neighborhood of a populous town, the residence of a chief whose friendship they could not but distrust, in spite of his apparent hospitality.

The day after Jacques Cartier’s arrival, Donnacona came to bid him welcome, and entreated him to visit Stadacona. He accepted the invitation, and proceeded with his volunteers and fifty sailors to the village, about three miles from where the ships lay. As they journeyed on, they observed that the houses were well provided and stored for the coming winter, and the country tilled in a manner showing that the inhabitants were not ignorant of agriculture; thus they formed, on the whole, a favorable impression of the docility and intelligence of the Indians during this expedition.

When the awful and unexpected severity of the winter set in, the French were unprovided with necessary clothing and proper provisions; the scurvy attacked them, and by the month of March twenty-five were dead, and nearly all were infected; the remainder would probably have also perished; but when Jacques Cartier was himself attacked with the dreadful disease, the Indians revealed to him the secret of its cure: this was the decoction of the leaf and bark of a certain tree, which proved so excellent a remedy that in a few days all were restored to health.

Jacques Cartier, on the 21st of April, was first led to suspect the friendship of the natives from seeing a number of strong and active young men make their appearance in the neighboring town; these were probably the warriors of the tribe, who had just then returned from the hunting grounds, where they had passed the winter, but there is now no reason to suppose that their presence indicated any hostility. However, Jacques Cartier, fearing treachery, determined to anticipate it. He had already arranged to depart for France. On the 3d of May he seized the chief, the interpreters, and two other Indians, to present them to Francis I.: as some amends for this cruel and flagrant violation of hospitality, he treated his prisoners with great kindness; they soon became satisfied with their fate. On the 6th of May he made sail for Europe, and, after having encountered some difficulties and delays, arrived safely at St. Malo the 8th of July, 1536.

The result of Jacques Cartier’s expedition was not encouraging to the spirit of enterprise in France; no mines had been discovered, no rare and valuable productions found. The miserable state to which the adventurers had been reduced by the rigorous climate and loathsome diseases, the privations they had endured, the poverty of their condition, were sufficient to cool the ardor of those who might otherwise have wished to follow up their discoveries. But, happily for the cause of civilization, some of those powerful in France judged more favorably of Jacques Cartier’s reports, and were not to be disheartened by the unsuccessful issue of one undertaking; the dominion over such a vast extent of country, with fertile soil and healthy climate, inhabited by a docile and hospitable people, was too great an object to be lightly abandoned. The presence of Donnacona, the Indian chief, tended to keep alive an interest in the land whence he had come; as soon as he could render himself intelligible in the French language, he confirmed all that had been said of the salubrity, beauty, and richness of his native country. The pious Jacques Cartier most of all strove to impress upon the king the glory and merit of extending the blessed knowledge of a Savior to the dark and hopeless heathens of the West; a deed well worthy of the prince who bore the title of Most Christian King and Eldest Son of the Church.

Jean Francois de la Roque, lord of Roberval, a gentleman of Picardy, was the most earnest and energetic of those who desired to colonize the lands discovered by Jacques Cartier; he bore a high reputation in his own province, and was favored by the friendship of the king. With these advantages he found little difficulty in obtaining a commission to command an expedition to North America; the title and authority of lieutenant general and viceroy was conferred upon him; his rule to extend over Canada, Hochelaga, Saguenay, Newfoundland, Belle Isle, Carpon, Labrador, La Grand Baye, and Baccalaos, with the delegated rights and powers of the crown. This patent was dated the 15th of January, 1540. Jacques Cartier was named second in command. The orders to the leaders of the expedition enjoined them to discover more than had been hitherto accomplished, and, if possible, to reach the country of Saguenay, where, from some reports of the Indians, they still hoped to find mines of gold and silver. The port of St. Malo was again chosen for the fitting out of the expedition: the king furnished a sum of money to defray the expenses.

Jacques Cartier exerted himself vigorously in preparing the little fleet for the voyage, and awaited the arrival of his chief with the necessary arms, stores, and ammunition; Roberval was meanwhile engaged at Honfleur in fitting out two other vessels at his own cost, and being urged to hasten by the king, he gave his lieutenant orders to start at once, with full authority to act as if he himself were present. He also promised to follow from Honfleur with all the required supplies. Jacques Cartier sailed on the 23d of May, 1541, having provisioned his fleet for two years. Storms and adverse winds dispersed the ships for some time, but in about a month they all met again on the coast of Newfoundland, where they hoped Roberval would join them. They awaited his coming for some weeks, but at length proceeded without him to the St. Lawrence; on the 23d of August they reached their old station near the magnificent headland of Quebec.

Donnacona’s successor as chief of the Indians at Stadacona came in state to welcome the French on their return, and to inquire after his absent countrymen. They told him of the chief’s death, but concealed the fate of the other Indians, stating that they were enjoying great honor and happiness in France, and would not return to their own country. The savages displayed no symptoms of anger, surprise, or distrust at this news; their countenances exhibited the same impassive calm, their manners the same quiet dignity as ever; but from that hour their hearts were changed; hatred and hostility took the place of admiration and respect, and a sad foreboding of their approaching destruction darkened their simple minds. Henceforth the French were hindered and molested by the inhabitants of Stadacona to such an extent that it was deemed advisable to seek another settlement for the winter. Jacques Cartier chose his new position at the mouth of a small river three leagues higher on the St. Lawrence; here he laid up some of his vessels under the protection of two forts, one on a level with the water, the other on the summit of an overhanging cliff; these strongholds communicated with each other by steps cut in the solid rock; he gave the name of Charlesbourg Royal to this new station. The two remaining vessels of the fleet he sent back to France with letters to the king, stating that Roberval had not yet arrived.

Under the impression that the country of the Saguenay, the land of fabled wealth, could be reached by pursuing the line of the St. Lawrence, Jacques Cartier set forth to explore the rapids above Hochelaga on the 7th of September, 1541. The season being so far advanced, he only undertook this expedition with a view to being better acquainted with the route, and to being provided with all necessary preparations for a more extensive exploration in the spring. In passing up the Great River he renewed acquaintance with the friendly and hospitable chief of Hochelai, and there left two boys under charge of the Indians to learn the language. On the 11th he reached the sault or rapids above Hochelaga, where the progress of the boats was arrested by the force of the stream; he then landed and made his way to the second rapid. The natives gave him to understand that above the next sault there lay a great lake; Cartier, having obtained this information, returned to where he had left the boats; about four hundred Indians had assembled and met him with demonstrations of friendship; he received their good offices and made them presents in return, but still regarded them with distrust on account of their unusual numbers. Having gained as much information as he could, he set out on his return to Charlesbourg Royal, his winter-quarters. The chief was absent when Jacques Cartier stopped at Hochelai on descending the river; he had gone to Stadacona to hold counsel with the natives of that district for the destruction of the white men. On arriving at Charlesbourg Royal, Jacques Cartier found confirmation of his suspicions against the Indians; they now avoided the French, and never approached the ships with their usual offerings of fish and other provisions; a great number of men had also assembled at Stadacona. He accordingly made every possible preparation for defense in the forts, and took due precautions against a surprise. There are no records extant of the events of this winter in Canada, but it is probable that no serious encounter took place with the natives; the French, however, must have suffered severely from the confinement rendered necessary by their perilous position, as well as from want of the provisions and supplies which the bitter climate made requisite.

Roberval, though high-minded and enterprising, failed in his engagements with Jacques Cartier: he did not follow his adventurous lieutenant with the necessary and promised supplies till the spring of the succeeding year. On the 16th of April, 1542, he at length sailed from Rochelle with three large vessels, equipped principally at the royal cost. Two hundred persons accompanied him, some of them being gentlemen of condition, others men and women purposing to become settlers in the New World. Jean Alphonse, an experienced navigator of Saintonge, by birth a Portuguese, was pilot of the expedition. After a very tedious voyage, they entered the Road of St. John’s, Newfoundland, on the 8th of June, where they found no fewer than seventeen vessels engaged in the inexhaustible fisheries of those waters.

While Roberval indulged in a brief repose at this place, the unwelcome appearance of Jacques Cartier filled him with disappointment and surprise. The lieutenant gave the hostility of the savages and the weakness of his force as reasons for having abandoned the settlement where he had passed the winter. He still, however, spoke favorably of the richness and fertility of the country, and gladdened the eyes of the adventurers by the sight of a substance that resembled gold ore, and crystals that they fancied were diamonds, found on the bold headland of Quebec. But, despite these flattering reports and promising specimens, Jacques Cartier and his followers could not be induced, by entreaties or persuasions, to return. The hardships and dangers of the last terrible winter were too fresh in memory, and too keenly felt, to be again braved. They deemed their portion of the contract already complete, and the love of their native land overcame the spirit of adventure, which had been weakened, if not quenched, by recent disappointment and suffering. To avoid the chance of an open rupture with Roberval, the lieutenant silently weighed anchor during the night, and made all sail for France. This inglorious withdrawal from the enterprise paralyzed Roberval’s power, and deferred the permanent settlement of Canada for generations then unborn. Jacques Cartier died soon after his return to Europe. Having sacrificed his fortune in the pursuit of discovery, his heirs were granted an exclusive privilege of trade to Canada for twelve years, in consideration of his sacrifices for the public good; but this gift was revoked four months after it was bestowed.

Roberval determined to proceed on his expedition, although deprived of the powerful assistance and valuable experience of his lieutenant. He sailed from Newfoundland for Canada, and reached Cap Rouge, the place where Jacques Cartier had wintered, before the end of June, 1542. He immediately fortified himself there, as the situation best adapted for defense against hostility, and for commanding the navigation of the Great River. Very little is known of Roberval’s proceedings during the remainder of that year and the following winter. The natives do not appear to have molested the new settlers; but no progress whatever was made toward a permanent establishment. During the intense cold, the scurvy caused fearful mischief among the French; no fewer than fifty perished from that dreadful malady during the winter. Demoralized by misery and idleness, the little colony became turbulent and lawless, and Roberval was obliged to resort to extreme severity of punishment before quiet and discipline were re-established.

Toward the close of April the ice broke up, and released the French from their weary and painful captivity. On the 5th of June, 1543, Roberval set forth from Cap Rouge to explore the province of Saguenay, leaving thirty men and an officer to protect their winter-quarters: this expedition produced no results, and was attended with the loss of one of the boats and eight men. In the mean time the pilot, Jean Alphonse, was dispatched to examine the coasts north of Newfoundland, in hopes of discovering a passage to the East Indies; he reached the fifty-second degree of latitude, and then abandoned the enterprise; on returning to Europe, he published a narrative of Roberval’s expedition and his own voyage, with a tolerably accurate description of the River St. Lawrence, and its navigation upward from the Gulf. Roberval reached France in 1543; the war between Francis I. and the Emperor Charles V. for some years occupied his ardent spirit, and supplied him with new occasions for distinction, till the death of the king, his patron and friend, in 1547. In the year 1549 he collected some adventurous men, and, accompanied by his brave brother, Achille, sailed once again for Canada; but none of this gallant band were ever heard of more. Thus, for many a year, were swallowed up in the stormy Atlantic all the bright hopes of founding a new nation in America: since these daring men had failed, none others might expect to be successful.

In the reign of Henry II., attention was directed toward Brazil; splendid accounts of its wealth and fertility were brought home by some French navigators who had visited that distant land. The Admiral Gaspard de Coligni was the first to press upon the king the importance of obtaining a footing in South America, and dividing the magnificent prize with the Portuguese monarch. This celebrated man was convinced that an extensive system of colonization was necessary for the glory and tranquillity of France. He purposed that the settlement in the New World should be founded exclusively by persons holding that Reformed faith to which he was so deeply attached, and thus would be provided a refuge for those driven from France by religious proscription and persecution. It is believed that Coligni’s magnificent scheme comprehended the possession of the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi, gradually colonizing the banks of these great rivers into the depths of the Continent, till the whole of North America, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, should be hemmed in by this gigantic line of French outposts. However, the first proposition was to establish a colony on the coast of Brazil; the king approved the project, and Durand de Villegagnon, vice-admiral of Brittany, was selected to command in 1555; the expedition, however, entirely failed, owing to religious differences.

Under the reigns of Francis II. and Charles IX., while France was convulsed with civil war, America seemed altogether forgotten. But Coligni availed himself of a brief interval of calm to turn attention once more to the Western World. He this time bethought himself of that country to which Ponce de Leon had given the name of Florida, from the exuberant productions of the soil and the beauty of the scenery and climate. The River Mississippi had been discovered by Ferdinand de Soto, about the time of Jacques Cartier’s last voyage, 1543; consequently, the Spaniards had this additional claim upon the territory, which, they affirmed, they had visited in 1512, twelve years before the date of Verazzano’s voyage in 1524. However, the claims and rights of the different European nations upon the American Continent were not then of sufficient strength to prevent each state from pursuing its own views of occupation. Coligni obtained permission from Charles IX. to attempt the establishment of a colony in Florida, about the year 1562. The king was the more readily induced to approve of this enterprise, as he hoped that it would occupy the turbulent spirits of the Huguenots, many of them his bitter enemies, and elements of discord in his dominions. On the 18th of February, 1562, Jean de Ribaut, a zealous Protestant, sailed from Dieppe with two vessels and a picked crew; many volunteers, including some gentlemen of condition, followed his fortunes. He landed on the coast of Florida, near St. Mary’s River, where he established a settlement and built a fort. Two years afterward Coligni sent out a re-enforcement, under the command of René de Laudonniere; this was the only portion of the admiral’s great scheme ever carried into effect: when he fell, in the awful massacre of Saint Bartholomew, his magnificent project was abandoned. (1568.) After six years of fierce struggle with the Spaniards, the survivors of this little colony returned to France.