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As for me and my people, we prefer death to the loss of liberty, and the subjugation of our country!” The governor, filled with admiration at the spirit of this savage chieftain, was more pressing than ever to gain his friendship; but to all his overtures the cacique's answer was, that he had already made the only reply he had to offer. The army remained in this province twenty days, recruiting from the fatigues and privations of their past journey. During this time, the governor sent persons in every direction to explore the country, and they returned with favorable reports. During this time the Indians were not idle. To justify the bravadoes of their cacique, they lurked in ambush about the camp, so that à Spaniard could not stray a hundred steps from it without being shot and instantly beheaded; if his companions hastened to his rescue, they found nothing but a headless trunk. The Christians buried the bodies of their unfortunate comrades wherever they found them ; but the savages invariably returned the following night, disinterred them, cut them up, and hanged them upon trees. The heads they carried as trophies to their cacique, according to his orders. Thus fourteen Spaniards perished, and a great number were wounded. In these skirmishes the Indians ran comparatively little risk, as the Spanish encampment was skirted by a thicket, whither, after making an assault, the assailants could easily escape. In this manner the Spaniards saw effectually verified the threats of their ferocious foes, who had hung upon their rear during the march. “ Keep on, robbers and traitors !" they cried, “ in Aucera and Apalachee we will treat you as you deserve. We will quarter and 'hang up every captive on the highest trees along the road." Notwithstanding their great vigilance, the Spaniards did not kill more than fifty Indians, for the latter were extremely wary in their ambuscades.
The foregoing will enable our readers to judge of the difficulties encountered by De Soto. He however continued his route through the province of Osachile, and the army passed the winter of 1539 in the province of Apalachee. In the spring of 1540, De Soto continued his route ; and in the province of Cosachriqui, which is thought to be near the seacoast of Georgia and South Carolina, he obained, it is said, fourteen bushels of pearls. Atlength he came to the dominions of the cacique Tuscaloosa, which must have comprised a great part of Alabama and Mississippi. Here a disastrous battle ensued on the site as it is thought of Mobile ; a battle in which forty-two Spaniards were killed, and many thousand Indians perished. After this battle the situation of the Spaniards was most deplorable. The army had been much reduced by the march into the interior ; most of the soldiers were severely wounded, all were exhausted by fatigue and hunger. The village around them was reduced to ashes, and all the baggage with the supplies of food and medicine had been consumed in the house. At this time, too, the spirit and ardor of De Soto were damped by the dissatisfaction among his troops : on the sixteenth of November, he therefore broke up his encampment and turned his face to the northward; after a march of five days he entered the province of Chicazo, where he remained through the winter. Early in 1541, the army of De Soto was attacked in the encampment, and although the Indians were driven off and defeated, yet it was with the loss of forty Spaniards with their horses. Three days after this battle the army moved to a more advantageous position, about a league distant, called Chicacilla ; here they spent the rest of the winter, in great suffering from the cold, having lost all their clothing in the late battle. They now erected a forge, and busied themselves in rewly tempering their swords, and in making saddles, shields, and lances, to replace those which they had lost. On the first of April, the army again moved forward till they came in sight of the Mississippi, which they crossed (probably at the lowest Chickasaw bluff), and came to the village called Casquin or Casqui, (Kaskaskias), situated in the province of the same name. The same fortune still awaited the Spaniards : the Indians were constantly attacking them; and although always subdued and cut off in great numbers, yet their enmity against the conquerors remained firm and implacable. De Soto, however, continued his march through the province of Palisema, passed through a village called Tanied (Tunicas), and came among the tribe of Tula Indians, and wintered in the village of Uttanque. Here their interpreter died, and his death was a severe loss to the service, as throughout the expedition he had served as the main organ of communication between the Spaniards and the natives. In the spring of 1542, the views of De Soto were changed ; his hopes of finding gold regions were disappointed; he had lost nearly half his troops by fighting and hardships of various kinds; the greater part of his horses too had perished, and all had been without shoes for more than a year for the want of iron. He now resolved to return to the Mississippi ; select a suitable village on its banks for a fortified post, establish himself there and build two vessels, in which some of his most confidential followers might descend the river, carry tidings of his safety to his wife and friends in Cuba, procure reinforcements of men and horses, together with flocks, herds, seeds, and everything else necessary to colonize and secure the possession of the vast and fertile country he had overrun. As soon as the spring was sufficiently advanced, therefore, De Soto broke up his winter cantonment and set out in the direction of the Mississippi ; after a time he came to the village of Guachoya, which contained three hundred houses, and was situated about a bowshot from the Mississippi in two contiguous hills with a small intervening plain that served as a public square, the whole way fortified with palissades. The inhabitants had fled across the river in their canoes, but abundance of provisions was found in the adjacent country. Here the melancholy which had long preyed upon the spirits of De Soto, the incessant anxiety of mind and fatigue of body, added perhaps to the influence of climate, brought on a slow fever, which continued until the seventh day, when he felt convinced that his last hour was at hand. He now made his will, and appointed his successor. When this was done, the dying chief called to him by two and two, and three and three, the most noble of his army, and after them he ordered that the soldiery should enter, twenty and twenty, thirty and thirty, and of all of them he took his last farewell. He charged them to convert the natives to the Catholic faith, and to augment the power of the crown of Spain. He thanked them for their affection and fidelity to him, and regretted that he could not show his gratitude by rewards such as they merited. He begged forgiveness of all whom he had offended, and finally entreated them, in the most affectionate manner, to be peaceful and loving to one another. Having confessed his sins with much humility, he died like a catholic Christian, imploring mercy of the most Holy Trinity. His body was placed in the trunk of an evergreen oak and sunk in the Mississippi.
VI. Francis I., a powerful monarch, ambitious of every kind of glory, was animated also with eager rivalry of Charles V., who derived much lustre from his possessions in the new world. He therefore ardently desired to follow successfully in the same career; and with this view he supplied to Giovanni Verazzano, à noble Florentine, four vessels destined to America. This chief, after being driven back by a storm, was refitted, and engaged in some successful naval operations on the Spanish coast; and it was then determined, that in the Dolphin, with fifty men, provisioned for eight months, he should prosecute his original design of discovery. After a severe tempest, he came, in the middle of March, upon a coast which, with great probability, is supposed to be that of North Carolina ; and having sailed fifty leagues southward in search of a port without success, he turned again toward the north with the same object. He was onco more disappointed as to a harbor ; but seeing a fine populous country, he landed
FIG. 17.—Portrait of Verazzano. in boats, and held some friendly intercourse with the natives. He next pro. ceeded in an eastern direction along a low coast, where even a boat could not touch; but a sailor swam ashore, and though alarmed by some strange gestures, found the natives kind. A change of course to the northward marks the rounding of Cape Hatteras ; and a run of fifty leagues brought him to a fertile region, covered with rich verdure and luxuriant forests. This was Virginia, near the mouth of the Chesapeake, though no mention is made of that great inlet. A sail of one hundred leagues in the same direction led to a spacious bay receiving a noble river, evidently the Hudson. They ascended it a short way in boats, and were delighted with its banks. The coast then tended eastward ; and after following it fifty leagues, they reached an island of pleasing aspect, which, being of a triangular form, and about the size of Rhodes, clearly appears to be that named Martha's Vineyard. The weather prevented his landing; and, fifteen leagues farther, he found a very convenient port, where he had again much satisfaction in communicating with the people. Though the latitude of forty-one degrees forty minutes be about half a degree too low, it seems impossible not to recognise Boston. He then made a course of 150 leagues along a country of similar character, but somewhat more elevated, without landing at any point. Another stretch of fifty leagues, first west and then north, brought him to a bolder territory (Nova Scotia), covered with dense forests of fir, pine, and other trees of a northern climate. The inhabitants were fiercer, and carried on trade only under jealous precautions. In a subsequent run of the same extent, he discovered thirty small islands, with narrow channels running between them, being such as are known to stud the northern coast of that country and the adjacent one of Cape Breton. Lastly, by sailing 150 leagues farther, he reached in fifty degrees the land discovered by the Britons (Newfoundland or Labrador). His stock of victuals being spent, he here took in water, and returned to France.
Verazzano, on the eighth of July, 1584, wrote to the king from Dieppe a narrative of this voyage. Ramusio heard from different quarters that he had submitted to that monarch the plan of a colony; and the general belief is, that he was again employed by him. Mr. Biddle, indeed, urges the improbability that, amid the disasters caused by the battle of Pavia in February, 1525, Francis
could engage in any such undertaking. Down, however, to that fatal day, his career was triumphant; and there was ample time to have authorized another expedition, though there is a total absence of any positive notice on the subject. Ramusio, without mentioning either place or date, states that in his last voyage, having landed with some companions, he was killed by the savages in presence of his crew still on shipboard. In a modern narrative, which, from its full genealogical details, appears to have been furnished by his relatives, Coronelli, an eminent Venetian hydrographer, is quoted, expressing his belief that the catastrophe took place off Cape Breton, in 1525. In the portrait from which our sketch is taken, the inscription positively bears - Dead in 1525." It was engraved in 1767 after a picture by Zocchi, in the possession of the family, whose opinion is thus decidedly expressed. Yet Tiraboschi has drawn attention to a letter of Annibal Caro, apparently directed to him when living at Florence in 1537. There seems a mystery round his fate, which can not be unravelled.
Claims so extensive and so feebly supported as those of Spain to North America, were not likely to remain long undisputed. Other European nations were then rapidly advancing in maritime skill and enterprise, among whom for some time France took the lead. The defeat and captivity of the king, followed by an humiliating peace, naturally diverted his mind from distant enterprises, especially such as would have been considered hostile by his rival, Charles. The troubles which agitated the country after his death were also unfavorable to such undertakings; nevertheless, the spirit of adventure was cherished among the people, especially the Huguenots, an industrious class, who almost alone raised her commerce and manufactures to a flourishing condition. Admiral Coligni, one of the leaders in that eventful time, formed the scheme of a transatlantic settlement, which might at once extend the resources of his country, and afford an asylum to his Protestant brethren. While the civil war was yet only impending, he enjoyed intervals of favor at court, which enabled him to obtain permission, first to establish one in Brazil; and when that proved unfortunate, to plant another in Florida. He fitted out two vessels in 1562, and placed them under John Ribault of Dieppe, a seaman of experience. The object was to reach the mouth of the river called by Ayllon the Jordan, now Combahee, in South Carolina ; but, steering in too low a latitude, the discoverers reached the St. John, near St. Augustine. On reaching Port Royal, they were so pleased with its noble harbor, the magnificent trees, and beautiful shrubs, that they determined to choose it for the site of their colony. Having seen a fort erected, and the settlement in a promising state, Ribault left twenty-six men, and returned to France for reinforcements and supplies. This seems an imprudent step. The establishment, in its unsettled state, stood in peculiar need of being well governed ; whereas it fell into the hands of Albert, a rash and tyrannical officer, who, finding it difficult to maintain authority, where all thought themselves nearly equal, enforced it in the most violent manner. He addressed them in opprobrious language ; hanged one of them with his own hands, and threatened others with the same fate. At length they rose in mutiny, put him to death, and appointed a new commander, Nicholas Barre, who restored tranquillity.
Ribault, meantime, in consequence of the breaking out of the great civil war, was unable to make good his expectations and promises. After long waiting for him, the colonists were seized with an extreme desire to return to their native country; and, having no ship, they resolved to build one, and constructed a brigantine fit for the passage ; but they laid in a slender stock of provisions, which, during the delay of a tedious calm, was entirely consumed. The last extremities of famine were suffered ; and one had been actually sacrificed to preserve the rest, when an English vessel appeared, and received them on board.
This project was still cherished by Coligni; and in 1564, he fitted out