Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

lieving it. Charlevoix, with better taste, repudiates the story as altogether fabulous. His words are ; “ Je ne trouve aucun fondement à ce que quelques

uns ont publié, qu'ayant mis pied à terre dans un " endroit où il voulait bâtir un fort, les sauvages se

jetèrent sur lui, le massacrèrent avec tous ses gens “ et le mangèrent." With respect to the tradition itself, if derived from the Indians, it is not improbable that it had reference to the manner of the death of Gaspar Cortereal, who perished on his second voyage ; and who, from his previous cruelties towards the natives, may be said to have provoked his fate.

LE CANON DE BRONZE.

A few years ago an ancient cannon of peculiar make, and supposed to have been of Spanish construction, was found in the River St. Lawrence, opposite the Parish of Champlain, in the District of Three-Rivers. It is now in the Museum of Mr. Chasseur, and will repay the visit of the curious stranger. The ingenious writer of the Treatise upon this piece of ordnance, published in the second volume of the Transactions of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, has endeavored to show that it belonged to Verazzano-that the latter perished before the second voyage of Jacques Cartier, either by scurvy or by shipwreck, on his way up the river towards Hochelaga. He also endeavors, with great stretch of fancy, to explain and account for the pantomime enacted by the Indians in the presence of Jacques Cartier, in order to dis

suade him from proceeding to Hochelaga so late in | the season, by their recollection of, and allusion to

the death of Verazzano, some nine or ten years be

fore. But if they had really known any thing respecting the fate of this navigator—and it must have been fresh in their memory if we recal to mind how comparatively short a period had elapsed—is it not most likely that they would have found means, through the two native interpreters, to communicate it to Cartier ? Yet it appears that the latter never so much as heard of it, either at Hochelai, now the Richelieu, where he was on friendly terms with the chief of that village-or at Hochelaga, where it must have been known—or when he wintered at St. Croix, in the little River - St. Charles-or yet when he passed a second winter at Carouge ! The best evidence, however, that the Indian pantomime had no reference to Verazzano, and to disprove at once the truth of the tradition respecting his death in part of the St. Lawrence, is to show, which we shall do on good authority, that at the very time when Cartier was passing the winter at St. Croix, Verazzano was actually alive in Italy. From a letter of Annibal Caro, quoted by Tiraboschi, an author of undoubted reputation, in the Storia della Letteratura Italiana, Vol. VII. part 1, pp. 261-262, it is proved that Verazzano was living in 1537, a year after the pantomime at St. Croix !

While on the subject of the Canon de Bronze, it may be noticed that Charlevoix mentions also a tradition, that Jacques Cartier himself was shipwrecked at the mouth of the river called by his name, with the loss of one of his vessels. From this it has been supposed that the Canon de Bronze was lost on that occasion ; and an erroneous inscription to that effect has been engraved upon it. In the first place the cannon was not found at the mouth of the River Jacques Cartier, but opposite the Parish of Cham

plain : in the next, no shipwreck was ever suffered by Jacques Cartier, who wintered in fact at the mouth of the little River St. Charles. The tradition as to his shipwreck, and the loss of one of his vessels, most probably arose from the well known circumstance of his having returned to France with two ships, instead of three, with which he left St. Malo. Having lost so many men by scurvy during his first winter in Canada, he was under the necessity of abandoning one of them, which lay in the harbour of St. Croix. The people of Scitadin having possessed themselves of the old iron to be found in the vessel, it of course soon fell to pieces ; and in process of time arose the tradition that Jacques Cartier had been shipwrecked. The removal of the scene of his supposed disaster, from the St. Charles to the River Jacques Cartier, was an error of Charlevoix.

Before we conclude this notice of Verazzano, it may be mentioned, that in the Strozzi Library at Florence is preserved a manuscript, in which he is said to have given with great minuteness, a description of all the countries which he had visited during his voyage ; and from which, says Tiraboschi, we derive the intelligence, that he had formed the design, in common with the other navigators of that era, of attempting a passage through those seas to the East Indies. It is much to be desired, that some Italian Scholar would favor the world with the pablication of this manuscript of Verazzano.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER THE THIRD.

HISTORICAL SKETCH CONTINUED.-FIRST AND SECOND

VOYAGE OF JACQUES CARTIER.

In the year following the supposed loss of Verazzano, Stephano Gomez, the first Spanish navigator who came upon the American coast for the purpose of discovery, sailed from Spain to Cuba and Florida -thence northward to Cape Razo, or Race, in latitude 46°, in search of a northwest passage to the East Indies. We have not been able to find any particulars of this voyage. It establishes the probability of the coasts of the Gulf having been visited by the Spaniards before the time of Jacques Cartier ; a tradition which is mentioned by Charlevoix, who says that the Baye des Chaleurs, so called by Cartier, had previously borne the name in old maps, of Baye des Espagnols.

The French were partially deterred by the ill-success of their endeavors to profit by the discoveries of Verazzano ; but after the interval of a few years they resolved to make a new attempt. The advantages of the establishment of a colony in the newly discovered country were represented anew to the King by Philippe Chabot, Admiral of France ; and the project was again favorably entertained by Francis I. The Admiral introduced to His Majesty JACQUES QUARTIER, or CARTIER, an experienced navigator of St. Malo, as a person eminently quali

[ocr errors]

fied to conduct the enterprise ; and he was accordingly appointed to the command. He received his instructions from Charles de Mouy, Knight, Lord of Meilleraye, and Vice Admiral of France; and the

captains, masters and mariners having sworn to behave themselves truly and faithfully in the service of the most Christian King of France, under the charge of the said Cartier, upon the 20th day of April, 1534, they departed from the port of St. Malo, with two ships of three score tons a piece burthen, and sixty one well appointed men in each.” See the first relation of Jacques Cartier in Hakluyt, vol. III. p. 201. On the tenth of May, they arrived at Newfoundland; and made Cape Bonavista, which still bears the same name, in latitude 48°, 30" according to the same relation. Finding the coast there completely ice bound, they sought for anchorage; and found it in the harbor of St. Catherine, now Catalina, four or five leagues to the south east. Here they remained ten days, and on the 21st May, sailing towards the north, they came to the Isle of Birds, which must by no means be confounded with Bird Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence ; but is supposed to be Funk Island, about fourteen leagues from Cape Freels, the nearest land. After some curious accounts of the birds which he found there, Cartier indulges us with a story of a bear, which we shall extract for the amusement of our readers. 66 Albeit the said Island is fourteen leagues from the main land, notwithstanding bears come swimming to eat of the said birds ; and our men found one there as great as any cow, and as white as any swan, who in their presence leaped into the sea ; and upon Whitsun Monday, (following our voyage towards the land,) we met er by the way, swimming towards land as swiftly as we

« ForrigeFortsett »