CHAPTER IV. FROM LAKES GEORGE AND CHAMPLAIN TO THE HUDSON RIVER.
THE DISCOVERY OF LAKE GEORGE BY FATHER JOGUES. - A PEDESTRIAN JOURNEY. - THE HERMIT OF THE NARROWS. - CONVENT OF ST. MARY'S OF THE LAKE. - THE PAULIST FATHERS. - CANAL-ROUTE FROM LAKE CHAMPLAIN TO ALBANY. - BODFISH RETURNS TO NEW JERSEY. - THE LITTLE FLEET IN ITS HAVEN OF REST.
In the last chapter I gave, from seemingly good authority, the appellation of the narrow terminal water of the southern end of Lake Champlain, "the tail of the lake." Another authority, in describing Lake George, says: "The Indians named the lake, on account of the purity of its waters, Horicon, or 'silvery water;' they also called it Canderi-oit, or 'the tail of the lake,' on account of its connecting with Lake Champlain." Cooper, in his "Last of the Mohicans," says: "It occurred to me that the French name of the lake was too complicated, the American too commonplace, and the Indian too unpronounceable for either to be used familiarly in a work of fiction." So he called it Horicon.
History furnishes us with the following facts in regard to the discovery of the lake. While journeying up the St. Lawrence in a fleet of twelve canoes, on a mission to the friendly Huron aborigines, Father Isaac Jogues and his two friends, donnes of the mission, Rene Goupil and Guillaume Couture, with another Frenchman, were captured at the western end of Lake of St. Peter by a band of Iroquois, which was on a marauding expedition from the Mohawk River country, near what is now the city of Troy. In the panic caused by the sudden onslaught of the Iroquois, the unconverted portion of the thirty-six Huron allies of the Frenchmen fled into the woods, while the christianized portion defended the white men for a while. A reinforcement of the enemy soon scattered these also, but not until the Frenchmen and a few of the Hurons were made captive. This was on the 2d of August, 1642.
According to Francis Parkman, the author of "The Jesuits in North America," the savages tortured Jogues and his white companions, striping off their clothing, tearing out their fingernails with their teeth, and gnawing their fingers with the fury of beasts. The seventy Iroquois returned southward, following the River Richelieu, Lake Champlain, and Lake George, en route for the Mohawk towns. Meeting a war party of two hundred of their own nation on one of the islands of Champlain, the Indians formed two parallel lines between which the captives were forced to run for their lives, while the savages struck at them with thorny sticks and clubs. Father Jogues fell exhausted to the ground, bathed in his own blood, when fire was applied to his body. At night the young warriors tormented the poor captives by opening their wounds and tearing out their hair and beards. The day following this night of torture the Indians and their mangled captives reached the promontory of Ticonderoga, along the base of which flowed the limpid waters, the outlet of Lake George. Here the party made a portage through the primeval forests, carrying their canoes and cargoes on their backs, when suddenly there broke upon their view the dark blue waters of a beautiful lake, which Mr. Parkman thus eloquently describes:
"Like a fair naiad of the wilderness it slumbered between the guardian mountains that breathe from crag and forest the stern poetry of war. But all then was solitude; and the clang of trumpets, the roar of cannon, and the deadly crack of the rifle had never as yet awakened their angry echoes. Again the canoes were launched and the wild flotilla glided on its way, now in the shadow of the heights, now on the broad expanse, now among the devious channels of the Narrows, beset with woody islets where the hot air was redolent of the pine, the spruce, and the cedar, - till they neared that tragic shore where, in the following century, New England rustics battled the soldiers of Dieskau, where Montcalm planted his batteries, where the red cross waved so long amid the smoke, and where, at length, the summer night was hideous with carnage, and an honored name was stained with a memory of blood. The Indians landed at or near the future site of Fort William Henry, left their canoes, and with their prisoners began their march for the nearest Mohawk town."