« ForrigeFortsett »
of their popular and gallant Prince, Francis I. ;-the memory of this supposed disgrace still rankled in the population-nor was it ever wholly eradicated, until adequate reparation was made to the national honor, by the accession of a French Prince to the throne of Spain, many years afterwards. Notwithstanding a short cessation of the warfare between these two great powers, the passions we have attempted to describe remained in full force.
LAUDONNIERE passed the winter of 1564 in the fort which he had built near the mouth of St. Mary's River, and which he called La Caroline. In August 1565, having experienced the mutinous disposition of part of his force, superadded to the horrors of famine, he was preparing to abandon the enterprise, and to return to France, when he was joined by Ribaut with seasonable supplies. On the 4th September, they were surprised by the appearance in the road of six large vessels, which proved to be a Spanish fleet, under the command of Don Pedro Menendez, Hostilities were immediately commenced; and the French, having an inferior force of four vessels, were obliged to put to sea, chased by the Spaniards. The former, however, being the better sailors, after distancing their opponents, returned to the coast, and re-landed their troops about eight leagues from the fort of La Caroline. Three of the Spanish vessels kept the open sea, while the others lay in the road watching an opportunity to attack the French fort. Ribaut, who was a brave but obstinate man, persisted in his resolution to put out to sea again for the purpose of meeting and fighting with the Spanish vessels. The season was extremely tempestuous, and Laudonnière, having first vainly endeavored to dissuade his colleague from the rash attempt, fortified himself;
and made every preparation to resist the attack which he anticipated. At length, notwithstanding the very heavy and long continued rains, the Spaniards were descried by the French sentinels advancing to the assault on the 20th September. The ramparts, maintained with spirit by a small force, were soon surmounted and carried-the gallant defenders slain in the breaches. Laudonnière, fighting his way bravely, was the last to leave the fort, and succeeded in escaping to the woods; where he rallied a few of his straggling countrymen, and whence he ultimately returned to France. The remainder, with the fort, fell into the hands of the Spaniards. Nor did the disasters of the French end here. The vessels commanded by Ribaut were driven on shore by the storms then prevalent-many of the people lost-the survivors and their commander became prisoners to the Spaniards. The French were cruelly, and with bitter taunts, put to death. Several were hung from the neighbouring trees with this insulting legend
"Ceux-ci n'ont pas été traité de la sorte en qualité de François, mais comme hérétiques et ennemis de Dieu.”
Ample chastisement was, however, about to be inflicted-Champlain, who writes of this transaction with the blunt and honest indignation of a soldier, in his own familiar and quaint style observes,-" Ceuxci furent payés de la même monnoye, qu'ils avoient payés les François"-" they were repaid in the same coin with which they had paid the French." So SHAKSPEARE truly says,
In these cases,
We still have judgement here: that we but teach
This outrage excited the deepest indignation in France; but the avowed hatred of the Court towards Coligny and the Huguenots prevented public satisfaction being demanded from Philip II. The instrument of a just retribution was not wanting to the emergency; but it was reserved for a private individual to redeem the honor of the French name. "En l'an 1567," says Champlain, "se presenta le brave Chevalier de Gourgues, qui plein de valeur et de courage, pour venger cet affront fait à la nation Françoise, et recognoissant qu'aucun d'entre la noblesse, dont la France foisonne, ne s'offroit pour tirer raison d'une telle injure, entreprint de le faire :""In the year 1567, there presented himself the brave Chevalier de Gourgues, who full of valor and courage to avenge the insult on the French nation, and observing that none among the nobility, with whom France abounded, offered to obtain satisfaction for such an injury, undertook himself to do so." He was a gentleman of Gascony, and there were at that period few inferior officers in France, or perhaps in all Europe, who had acquired a more brilliant reputation in war, or had undergone greater vicissitudes. When very young he had served in Italy with honor; and on one occasion, having the command of a small band of thirty men, near Sienna in Tuscany, he was able for a considerable time to withstand and repulse the assault of a part of the Spanish army until, all his men being slain, he yielded himself prisoner. Contrary to the usage of war among generous foes, he was sent to the gallies in chains, as a robber-slave. The galley, to which the indignant De Gourgues was condemned, was afterwards captured by the Turks on the Sicilian coast, and sent into Rhodes. Again putting to sea with a Turkish crew, it was encoun
: tered and taken by the gallies of the Knights of Malta; and De Gourgues recovered his liberty and his sword. He afterwards made several passages to Brazil, and the coast of Africa, still treasuring up vengeance on the Spaniards; and he had just returned to France from one of his voyages, with the reputation of the bravest and most able among her navigators, when he heard of the disastrous tale of La Caroline, and the disgraceful manner in which his countrymen had been put to death by the Spaniards. Like a patriot, he felt keenly for the honor of his country; and as a man, he burned for an opportunity of satiating his long dormant revenge on the perfidious Spaniards, for their unworthy treatment of himself. At this time too there was circulated in France a narrative intituled, the "Supplication of the widows and children of those who had been massacred in Florida," calculated to rouse the national feeling to the highest pitch. These united motives urged De Gourgues to a chivalrous undertaking-no less than to chase the murderous invaders from the coasts of Florida at the sword's point, or to die in the attempt. He accordingly proceeded to make his preparations, which, however, were concealed with great skill and address. He raised a considerable sum by selling his property, and by loans obtained from his friends; and disguising his real purpose, gave out that he was bound as before to the African coast. The squadron consisted of three vessels, with crews amounting to two hundred and fifty souls, amply provided for twelve months. Thus equipped he sailed, on the 23d August, 1567, from Bordeaux ; and after some time, began to unfold his real design, expatiating in glowing language on the glory attempt, and the righteousness of the quarrel.
SPEECH OF DE GOURGUES, FROM CHAMPLAIN.
"Mes compagnons et fidèles amis de ma fortune, vous n'estes pas ignorans combien je cheris les braves courages comme vous, et l'avez assez tesmoigné par la belle resolution que vous avez prise de me suivre et assister en tous les perils et hazards honorables que nous aurons a souffrir et essuyer, lorsqu'ils se presenteront devant nos yeux, et l'estat que je fais de la conservation de vos vies; ne desirant point vous embarquer au risque d'un enterprise que je sçaurois réussir à une ruine sans honneur: ce seroit à moy une trop grande et blasmable temerité, de hazarder vos personnes à un dessein d'un accez si difficile ; ce que je ne croy pas estre, bien que j'aye employé une bonne partie de mon bien et de mes amis, pour equiper ces vaisseaux et les mettre en mer, estant le seul entrepreneur de tout le voyage. Mais tout cela ne me donne pas tant de sujet de m'affliger, comme j'en ay de me resjouir, de vous voir tous resolus à une autre entreprise, qui retournera à votre gloire, sçavoir d'aller venger l'injure que nostre nation a receie des Espagnols, qui ont fait une telle playe à la France, qu'elle saignera à jamais, par les supplices et traictemens infames qu'ils ont fait souffrir à nos François, et exercé des cruantez barbares et inouïes en leur endroit. Les ressentimens que j'en ay quelquefois, m'en font jetter des larmes de compassion, et me relevent le courage de telle sort, que je suis resolu avec l'assistance de Dieu, et la vostre, de prendre une juste vengeance d'une telle felonnie et cruanté Espagnolle, de ces cœurs lasches et poltrons, qui ont surpris mal-heureusement nos compatriotes, qu'ils n'eussent osé regarder sur la défense de leurs armes.