is the first of a continuing series of entries from the Voyages
of Samuel de Champlain, first published in 1613. For Champlain's
account of the discovery of the lake that bears his name, click
translation from the French by Charles Pomeroy Otis, Ph.D.
Republished by the Prince Society, Boston: 1878.
MEMOIR OF SAMUEL DE CHAMPLAIN
THE VOYAGES OF SIEUR DE CHAMPLAIN,
Of Saintonge, Captain in ordinary to the King in the Marine.
A MOST FAITHFUL JOURNAL OF OBSERVATIONS
made in the exploration of New France, describing not only the
countries, coasts, rivers, ports, and harbors, with their latitudes
and the various deflections of the Magnetic Needle, but likewise the
religious belief of the inhabitants, their superstitions, mode of
life and warfare; furnished with numerous illustrations.
Together with two geographical maps: the first for the purposes of
navigation, adapted to the compass as used by mariners, which
deflects to the north-east; the other in its true meridian, with
longitudes and latitudes, to which is added the Voyage to the Strait
north of Labrador, from the 53d to the 63d degree of latitude,
discovered in 1612 by the English when they were searching for a
northerly course to China.
Rue St. Jean de Beauvais, at the Flying Horse, and at his store in
the Palace, at the gallery of the Prisoners.
WITH AUTHORITY OF THE KING.
TO THE KING.
Your Majesty has doubtless full knowledge of the discoveries made in
your service in New France, called Canada, through the descriptions,
given by certain Captains and Pilots, of the voyages and discoveries
made there during the past eighty years. These, however, present
nothing so honorable to your Kingdom, or so profitable to the
service of your Majesty and your subjects, as will, I doubt not, the
maps of the coasts, harbors, rivers, and the situation of the places
described in this little treatise, which I make bold to address to
your Majesty, and which is entitled a Journal of Voyages and
Discoveries, which I have made in connection with Sieur de Monts,
your Lieutenant in New France. This I do, feeling myself urged by a
just sense of the honor I have received during the last ten years in
commissions, not only, Sire, from your Majesty, but also from the
late king, Henry the Great, of happy memory, who commissioned me to
make the most exact researches and explorations in my power. This I
have done, and added, moreover, the maps contained in this little
book, where I have set forth in particular the dangers to which one
would be liable. The subjects of your Majesty, whom you may be
pleased hereafter to employ for the preservation of what has been
discovered, will be able to avoid those dangers through the
knowledge afforded by the maps contained in this treatise, which
will serve as an example in your kingdom for increasing the glory of
your Majesty, the welfare of your subjects, and for the honor of the
very humble service, for which, to the happy prolongation of your
days, is indebted,
Your most humble, most obedient,
and most faithful servant and subject,
TO THE QUEEN REGENT,
MOTHER OF THE KING.
Of all the most useful and excellent arts, that of navigation has
always seemed to me to occupy the first place. For the more
hazardous it is, and the more numerous the perils and losses by
which it is attended, so much the more is it esteemed and exalted
above all others, being wholly unsuited to the timid and irresolute.
By this art we obtain knowledge of different countries, regions, and
realms. By it we attract and bring to our own land all kinds of
riches, by it the idolatry of paganism is overthrown and
Christianity proclaimed throughout all the regions of the earth.
This is the art which from my early age has won my love, and induced
me to expose myself almost all my life to the impetuous waves of the
ocean, and led me to explore the coasts of a part of America,
especially of New France, where I have always desired to see the
Lily flourish, and also the only religion, catholic, apostolic, and
Roman. This I trust now to accomplish with the help of God, assisted
by the favor of your Majesty, whom I most humbly entreat to continue
to sustain us, in order that all may succeed to the honor of God,
the welfare of France, and the splendor of your reign, for the
grandeur and prosperity of which I will pray God to attend you
always with a thousand blessings, and will remain,
Your most humble, most obedient,
and most faithful servant and subject,
EXTRACT FROM THE LICENSE.
By letters patent of the KING, given at Paris the ninth of January,
1613, and in the third year of our reign, by the King in his
Council, PERREAU, and sealed with the simple yellow seal, it is
permitted to JEAN BERJON, printer and bookseller in this city of
Paris, to print, or have printed by whomsoever it may seem good to
him, a book entitled _The Voyages of Samuel de Champlain of
Saintonge, Captain in ordinary for the King in the Marine, &c._, for
the time and limit of six entire consecutive years, from the day
when this book shall have been printed up to the said time of six
years. By the same letters, in like manner all printers, merchant
booksellers, and any others whatever, are forbidden to print or have
printed, to sell or distribute said book during the aforesaid time,
without the special consent of said BERJON, or of him to whom he
shall give permission, on pain of confiscation of so many of said
books as shall be found, and a discretionary fine, as is more fully
set forth in the aforesaid letters.
VOYAGES OF SIEUR DE CHAMPLAIN.
VOYAGE IN THE YEAR 1604.
BENEFITS OF COMMERCE HAVE INDUCED SEVERAL PRINCES TO SEEK AN EASIER
ROUTE FOR TRAFFIC WITH THE PEOPLE OF THE EAST.--SEVERAL UNSUCCESSFUL
VOYAGES.--DETERMINATION OF THE FRENCH FOR THIS PURPOSE.--UNDERTAKING
OF SIEUR DE MONTS: HIS COMMISSION AND ITS REVOCATION.--NEW
COMMISSION TO SIEUR DE MONTS TO ENABLE HIM TO CONTINUE HIS
The inclinations of men differ according to their varied
dispositions; and each one in his calling has his particular end in
view. Some aim at gain, some at glory, some at the public weal. The
greater number are engaged in trade, and especially that which is
transacted on the sea. Hence arise the principal support of the
people, the opulence and honor of states. This is what raised
ancient Rome to the sovereignty and mastery over the entire world,
and the Venetians to a grandeur equal to that of powerful kings. It
has in all times caused maritime towns to abound in riches, among
which Alexandria and Tyre are distinguished, and numerous others,
which fill up the regions of the interior with the objects of beauty
and rarity obtained from foreign nations. For this reason, many
princes have striven to find a northerly route to China, in order to
facilitate commerce with the Orientals, in the belief that this
route would be shorter and less dangerous.
In the year 1496, the king of England commissioned John Cabot and
his son Sebastian to engage in this search.  About the same time,
Don Emanuel, king of Portugal, despatched on the same errand Gaspar
Cortereal, who returned without attaining his object. Resuming his
journeys the year after, he died in the undertaking; as did also his
brother Michel, who was prosecuting it perseveringly.  In the
years 1534 and 1535, Jacques Cartier received a like commission from
King Francis I., but was arrested in his course.  Six years
after, Sieur de Roberval, having renewed it, sent Jean Alfonse of
Saintonge farther northward along the coast of Labrador;  but he
returned as wise as the others. In the years 1576, 1577, and 1578,
Sir Martin Frobisher, an Englishman, made three voyages along the
northern coasts. Seven years later, Humphrey Gilbert, also an
Englishman, set out with five ships, but suffered shipwreck on Sable
Island, where three of his vessels were lost. In the same and two
following years, John Davis, an Englishman, made three voyages for
the same object; penetrating to the 72d degree, as far as a strait
which is called at the present day by his name. After him, Captain
Georges made also a voyage in 1590, but in consequence of the ice
was compelled to return without having made any discovery.  The
Hollanders, on their part, had no more precise knowledge in the
direction of Nova Zembla.
So many voyages and discoveries without result, and attended with so
much hardship and expense, have caused us French in late years to
attempt a permanent settlement in those lands which we call New
France,  in the hope of thus realizing more easily this object;
since the voyage in search of the desired passage commences on the
other side of the ocean, and is made along the coast of this region.
 These considerations had induced the Marquis de la Roche, in
1598, to take a commission from the king for making a settlement in
the above region. With this object, he landed men and supplies on
Sable Island;  but, as the conditions which had been accorded to
him by his Majesty were not fulfilled, he was obliged to abandon his
undertaking, and leave his men there. A year after, Captain Chauvin
accepted another commission to transport Settlers to the same
region;  but, as this was shortly after revoked, he prosecuted
the matter no farther.
After the above,  notwithstanding all these accidents and
disappointments, Sieur de Monts desired to attempt what had been
given up in despair, and requested a commission for this purpose of
his Majesty, being satisfied that the previous enterprises had
failed because the undertakers of them had not received assistance,
who had not succeeded, in one nor even two years' time, in making
the acquaintance of the regions and people there, nor in finding
harbors adapted for a settlement. He proposed to his Majesty a means
for covering these expenses, without drawing any thing from the
royal revenues; viz., by granting to him the monopoly of the
fur-trade in this land. This having been granted to him, he made
great and excessive outlays, and carried out with him a large number
of men of various vocations. Upon his arrival, he caused the
necessary number of habitations for his followers to be constructed.
This expenditure he continued for three consecutive years, after
which, in consequence of the jealousy and annoyance of certain
Basque merchants, together with some from Brittany, the monopoly
which had been granted to him was revoked by the Council to the
great injury and loss of Sieur de Monts, who, in consequence of this
revocation, was compelled to abandon his entire undertaking,
sacrificing his labors and the outfit for his settlement.
But since a report had been made to the king on the fertility of the
soil by him, and by me on the feasibility of discovering the passage
to China,  without the inconveniences of the ice of the north or
the heats of the torrid zone, through which our sailors pass twice
in going and twice in returning, with inconceivable hardships and
risks, his Majesty directed Sieur de Monts to make a new outfit, and
send men to continue what he had commenced. This he did. And, in
view of the uncertainty of his commission,  he chose a new spot
for his settlement, in order to deprive jealous persons of any such
distrust as they had previously conceived. He was also influenced by
the hope of greater advantages in case of settling in the interior,
where the people are civilized, and where it is easier to plant the
Christian faith and establish such order as is necessary for the
protection of a country, than along the sea-shore, where the savages
generally dwell. From this course, he believed the king would derive
an inestimable profit; for it is easy to suppose that Europeans will
seek out this advantage rather than those of a jealous and
intractable disposition to be found on the shores, and the barbarous
1. The first commission was granted by Henry VII. of England to John
Cabot and his three sons, Lewis, Sebastian, and Sancius, March 5,
1496.-- _Rymer's Foedera_, Vol. XII. p. 595. The first voyage,
however, was made in 1497. The second commission was granted to John
Cabot alone, in 1498.--_Vide Hakluyt_, 1600, London, ed. 1810, Vol.
III. pp. 25-31.
2. Cortereal made two voyages under the patronage of Emmanuel, King
of Portugal, the first in 1500, the second in 1501. In the latter
year, he sailed with two ships from Lisbon, and explored six hundred
miles or more on our northern coast. The vessel in which he sailed
was lost; and he perished, together with fifty natives whom he had
captured. The other vessel returned, and reported the incidents of
the expedition. The next year, Michael Cortereal, the brother of
Gaspar, obtained a commission, and went in search of his brother;
but he did not return, and no tidings were ever heard of him.
3. Jacques Cartier made three voyages in 1534, 1535, and 1540,
respectively, in which he effected very important discoveries; and
Charlevoix justly remarks that Cartier's Memoirs long served as a
guide to those who after him navigated the gulf and river of St.
Lawrence. For Cartier's commission, see _Hazard's State Papers_,
Vol. I. p. 19.
4. Roberval's voyage was made in 1542, and is reported by Jean
Alfonse.-- _Vide Hakluyt_, 1600, London, ed. 1810, Vol. III. p. 291.
On an old map, drawn about the middle of the sixteenth century,
Roberval is represented in a full-length portrait, clad in mail,
with sword and spear, at the head of a band of armed soldiers,
penetrating into the wilds of Canada, near the head-waters of the
Saguenay. The name, "Monsr. de Roberual," is inserted near his
feet,--_Vide Monuments de la Géographie_, XIX., par M. Jomard,
5. For the narrative of the voyages of Frobisher, Gilbert, and
Davis, _vide Hakluyt_, Vol. III. Of the fleet of five vessels
commanded by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, in 1583, the Ralegh put back to
England, on account of sickness on board; the Golden Hinde returned
safely to port; the _Swallow_ was left at Newfoundland, to bring
home the sick; the _Delight_ was lost near Sable Island; and the
_Squirrel_ went down on its way to England, some days after leaving
Sable Island. Thus two only were lost, while a third was left.
There must have been some error in regard to the voyage of Captain
Georges. There is no printed account of a voyage at that time by any
one of this name. There are two theories on which this statement may
be explained. There may have been a voyage by a Captain Georges,
which, for some unknown reason, was never reported; or, what is more
likely, Champlain may refer to the voyage of Captain George
Weymouth, undertaken in 1602 for the East Ind. Company, which was
defeated by the icebergs which he encountered, and the mutiny of his
men. It was not uncommon to omit part of a name at that period. Of
Pont Gravé, the last name is frequently omitted by Champlain and by
Lescarbot. The report of Weymouth's voyage was not printed till
after Champlain wrote; and he might easily have mistaken the date.
6. The name of New France, _Novus Francisca_, appears on a map in
Ptolemy published at Basle in 1530.
7. The controlling object of the numerous voyages to the north-east
coast of America had hitherto been to discover a shorter course to
India. In this respect, as Champlain states above, they had all
proved failures. He here intimates that the settlements of the
French on this coast were intended to facilitate this design. It is
obvious that a colonial establishment would offer great advantages
as a base in prosecuting searches for this desired passage to
8. For some account of this disastrous expedition, see _Memoir_,
9. _Vide Memoir_, Vol. I.
10. It will be observed that Champlain does not mention the
expedition sent out by Commander de Chastes, probably because its
object was exploration, and not actual settlement.--_Vide_ an
account of De Chastes in the _Memoir_, Vol. I.
11. In Champlain's report of the voyage of 1603, after obtaining
what information he could from the natives relating to the St.
Lawrence and the chain of lakes, he says they informed him that the
last lake in the chain was salt, and he therefore believed it to be
the South Sea. He doubtless enlarged verbally before the king upon
the feasibility of a passage to China in this way.
12. The commission here referred to was doubtless the one renewed to
him in 1608, after he had made his searches on the shores of New
England and Nova Scotia, and after the commission or charter of 1603
had been revoked.
Champlain is here stating the advantages of a settlement in the
interior, on the shores of the St. Lawrence, rather than on the
this chapter, Champlain speaks of events stretching through several
years; but in the next he confines himself to the occurrences of
1603, when De Monts obtained his charter.
is the conclusion of Chapter 1 of
Click here for Chapter 2
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