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VOL. XVII., No. 102.-SEPTEMBER, 1873.


WHEN the history of American Catholic literature comes to be written, the name of John Gilmary Shea will hold one of the most honorable places in the record. So much rough work has been needed to prepare the ground for the American church, so much polemical discussion has been called forth by our peculiar position in the midst of a hostile and prejudiced community, so many problems of philosophy and social science have pressed upon us for consideration, and the demand for books of education and devotion has been so urgent, that few of our writers have found occasion to apply themselves to strictly literary and historical studies or to those branches of criticism which are included in the department of polite letters. And yet how richly this neglected field of research would repay the labors of the Catholic investigator! The early history of many parts of the North American continent is only a chapter in the history of the Catholic Church.

The most picturesque characters in the early American annals are the Catholic voyagers of France and Spain, the settlers of Canada, and Florida, and the Pacific coast, and the missionaries who followed them across the ocean, and pushed forward in advance of them into the savage wilderness. How tame and mean appear the quarrels of the Plymouth settlers with hostile Indians, and rival adventurers, and preaching sectaries, and bewitched old women, after one has read of the heroism of a Jogues and a Breboeuf, and the romantic travels of the discoverer of the Mississippi. The settlement of Virginia was a prosaic and commonplace affair beside the settlement of Canada. The monks who accompanied the armies of the Spanish conquerors passed through experiences of the most thrilling kind, whose story has been only imperfectly outlined in the glowing pages of Prescott. Within the limits of the present Union, the missionary has

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by Rev. I. T. HECKER, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.


been the chief actor in many an extraordinary scene of dramatic interest, and the hero of many a daring enterprise. Simple-minded F. Mark traversing the desert in search of the seven mythical cities of New Mexico; the gentle Marquette guiding his canoe down the great river of the West, and breathing his last prayer on the shores of the mighty lake; Hennepin, pattern of grotesque mendacity; La Salle, model of a magnanimous commander and a daring explorer-such are among the infinite variety of figures in the early Catholic history of our country. Its later annals are not inferior in interest to the more remote. Even yet the task of the pioneer is not complete, and startling incidents are still common in the chronicles of missionary adventure.

No man has done more than Mr. Shea to preserve the record of all these events and all these personages. For more than twenty years, he has devoted himself to the study of the old materials for American Catholic history. He gave to the world the first authentic and complete narrative of the discovery and exploration of the Mississippi, and brought to light the manuscript narratives of the actors in that most important and striking achievement. He prepared the only connected account of the various Catholic missions among the Indian tribes, from the discovery of the country to the present day. He was one of the joint authors of the only general history of the American church. To these works, and a large number of books of a miscellaneous character, short histories, religious biographies, statistical publications, etc., he has recently added the result of patient and learned research into the Indian languages; he has recovered the grammars and vocabularies prepar

ed by the old missionaries; he has assisted in the preparation of various works on the Indians printed at the cost of the United States government; he has edited an extraordin ary variety of historical collections and monographs; and, finally, he has prepared for the press a number of hitherto unpublished narratives, memoirs, and relations in connection with the early French and Spanish settlements. The value of these publications can hardly be overstated. The care and judgment of the editor have been universally recog nized by the highest authorities; and though Mr. Shea can hardly expect an adequate pecuniary recompense for his time, his labor, and his outlay, he has been rewarded in a most flattering way by the respect and gratitude of historical students, Catholic and Protestant alike.

His latest work is one of the most laborious of his life, and one of the most splendid in its results. It is a translation, with notes, of the History and General Description of New France, from the French of the Rev. P. F. X. de Charlevoix, S.J. The first of the six sumptuous volumes of this elegant work appeared from the author's own press in this city in 1866, and the last was issued at the close of 1872. As we shall see further on, Mr. Shea has expended upon the "translation and notes an extraordinary amount of pains of which the modest title-page affords no hint; but the book was well worth the trouble. No history of America can be written without a constant reference to the labors of F. Charlevoix. He is our best and sometimes our only authority for the transactions in all the French North American settlements. Of many of the scenes that he describes he was an eye-witness. He was a diligent and conscientious student; he had

access to important and little-known to Louisiana in an open boat, and at the end of June took ship again at Biloxi. After touching at Havana, and narrowly escaping another disaster, he made Cape François, in Santo Domingo, and there found a merchant ship, which took him home.

sources of information; he sympathized with the sentiment of the early French explorers, and caught as by instinct the spirit of those curious expeditions wherein the priest and the peddler marched side by side through the wilderness for the glory of God and of France, and the spread simultaneously of the Gospel and the fur-trade. Born in the north of France in 1682, Charlevoix entered the Society of Jesus, and was sent to the Canada mission when he was about twenty-three years old. He spent four years in America, returning to France in 1709, and teaching philosophy for some time in various colleges of his society. Eleven years later, the king sent him to make a tour among the French settlements of the New World, and a curious account of this adventurous journey is preserved in his Journal of a Voyage to North America, a translation of which was published in London in 1761. He landed at Quebec in October, 1720, visited Montreal and other settlements on the St. Lawrence, and the following spring set out on his remarkable canoe voyage to the Gulf of Mexico. This took him through Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, and Michigan. On the 6th of August, 1721, he entered the St. Joseph River, at the southern end of Lake Michigan. Thence by a tedious portage he reached the headwaters of the Kankakee. Towards the end of September, he found himself on the Illinois, and on the 9th of October his frail bark floated on the waters of the Mississippi. Stopping at various posts along the bank, he was nearly three months in reaching New Orleans, whence he embarked in April, 1722, for Santo Domingo. Wrecked on one of the Florida keys, he made his way back

Before starting on this extensive and arduous tour, he had begun a series of histories of all the countries unknown to Europeans previous to the XIVth century, giving to that tolerably comprehensive portion of the universe the general name of the New World. The first instalment of his task, a History and Description of Japan, was printed at Rouen in three volumes in 1715. He had no expectation of completing the whole series of proposed histories. That was an enterprise beyond the powers of one man; but "the same may be said of this," he remarked, "as of the discovery of America: the worst was done when it was once begun; there is, then, every reason to believe that it will be continued after me, and that, if I have the advantage of suggesting the idea, those who succeed me will have the glory of perfecting it." The second fruit of the scheme was the History of Santo Domingo, which appeared at Paris in two quarto volumes, in 1730. The third was the History of New France, in three quarto volumes, in 1744; and there was a fourth book, a History of Paraguay, in three quarto volumes, in 1756. F. Charlevoix died in 1761, having been for more than twenty years one of the principal workers on the famous Journal de Trévoux.

Of the four works embraced in his

uncompleted series, three are little known on this side of the ocean, except in the libraries of the curious. The History of New France, however, has long enjoyed an American celebrity, through the frequent references


to it in the pages of modern historians; and Mr. Shea is not unreasonably surprised that it should so long have gone untranslated. Fidelity is by no means its only merit. It is well planned, and written with a carefulness, simplicity, and good judgment which give it a very respectable, if not a very high, literary character. Its style is not remarkable for eloquence, but it is chaste and direct. It is never ambitious, but it is always agreeable; rarely picturesque, but never dry. Prefixing to his work a comprehensive chronology of European explorations and settlements in the New World (taking that phrase in his own extended application), and an excellent bibliographical account of the numerous authors whom he has consult ed, he begins his narrative proper with the voyages of Cortereal and Verazzano to Newfoundland, between 1500 and 1525. It is with the expedition of Jacques Cartier, however, in 1534, that the story of the French settlements in North America properly commences. Cartier ascended the St. Lawrence, visited the site of Montreal, and planned a town there, though he did not succeed in making a permanent establishment. There is a curious illustration in this part of the narrative of the simplicity which gives F. Charlevoix's book such a peculiar charm. Misled by an unfaithful abridgment of Cartier's narrative, the good father gently rebukes the traveller for certain marvellous tales which he is unjustly accused of bearing back to France: but there is one strange story to which the reverend historian is evidently more than half disposed to attach credit. An Indian named Donnacona is reported to have told Cartier that in a remote part of the land " were men who had but one leg and thigh,

with a very large foot, two hands on the same arm, the waist extremely square, the breast and head flat, and a very small mouth; that still further on he had seen pigmies, and a sea the water of which was fresh. In fine, that, ascending the Saguenay, you reach a country where there are men dressed like us, who live in cities, and have much gold, rubies, and copper." Now, by ascending the Saguenay, Charlevoix conjectures, and turning west, an Indian might reach Lake Assiniboin, and thence penetrate to New Mexico, where the Spaniards had begun to settle-a conjecture which certainly betrays a rather loose idea of American geography. The pigmies he supposes to be the Esquimaux. But of the men with one leg, he remarks that the story is "very strange." He does not accept, but he certainly does not reject it. Nay, he cites a long account by an Esquimaux girl, who was in Quebec while he was there in 1720, of a kind of men among her country people "who had only one leg, one thigh, and a very large foot, two hands on the same arm, a broad body, flat head, small eyes, scarcely any nose, and a very small mouth"; they were al ways in a bad humor, and could remain under water three-quarters of an hour at a time. "As for the monstrous men," he concludes, " described by the slave of M. de Courtemanche and by Donnacona, and the headless men killed, it is pretended, by an Iroquois hunter a few years since while hunting, it is easy to believe that there is some exaggeration; but it is easier to deny extraordinary facts than to explain them; and, moreover, are we at liberty to reject whatever we cannot explain? Who can pretend to know all the caprices and mysteries of nature?'

From Canada our historian passes suddenly to Florida, which he defines as "all that part of the continent of America lying between the two Mexicos, New France, and North Carolina." To this part of the new world Admiral de Coligni sent out a colony of Huguenots in 1562 under John de Ribaut, who built a fort at Port Royal, near the site of Beaufort, South Carolina. In all the early settlements of America, there is the same story to be told of avarice and childish folly. The colonists were not settlers, but adventurers. They had come in search of a land where they could grow rich without work, and pick up gold and silver with no more trouble than the occasional killing of a few Indians. They depended for suste nance upon what they brought from France and the provisions they might purchase from the savages. But there was little to be obtained from a race of hunters who were half the year themselves on the brink of starvation, and the fresh supplies promised from home were often delayed. It is almost incredible that no attempt should have been made to cultivate the fertile lands upon which they established themselves; but year after year the same blunder was repeated: winter found the adventurers famishing; and promising colonies were broken up by their reckless improvidence. Such was the fate of Ribaut's settlement at Port Royal. The commander had gone home to obtain re-enforcements. When the re-enforcements arrived under Laudonniere in 1564, Port Royal had been abandoned. The colonists had 'built a vessel, caulked the seams with moss, twisted the bark of trees for ropes, used their shirts for sails, and, with a short supply of provisions and composed of soldiers, had

a crew

put to sea. They suffered terribly. The water gave out, and some died of thirst. After they had eaten their last shoe and their last scrap of leather, a soldier named Lachau offered the sacrifice of his own life to save the rest. They ate Lachau, and drank his blood. Soon afterward, they sighted land, and about the same time fell in with an English vessel.

Laudonniere established himself on the St. John's River, in Florida. F. Charlevoix tells an interesting story of his curious dealings with the Indians and the dissensions of his disorderly colonists. He seems to have been upon the whole a fair commander, but the fatal mistake of all these adventurers soon brought him to the brink of ruin. Provisions gave out. The expected relief from France was delayed. Fish and game. grew scarce. In July, 1567, Laudonniere was trying to patch up his one small vessel to return home, when he was unexpectedly relieved by a visit from Sir John Hawkins with four English ships. Hawkins treated the suffering Frenchmen with great generosity. He gave them bread and wine, replenished their stores of clothing and munitions, offered the whole party a passage home to France, and finally persuaded them to purchase one of his vessels which was better fitted for their use than their own. Laudonniere now hastened his preparations for the voyage, and was actually weighing anchor, when Ribaut entered the river with seven vessels, and set about restoring the dismantled Fort Caroline, and planning an expedition after gold to the distant mountains of Apalache. But this whole chapter is a tale of surprises. Six days after the arrival of Ribaut, another squadron appeared at the mouth of the river. It con

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