Edition of 1632, Compiled by Publisher?

It is supposed by some that the edition of 1632, which contains the map, and is composed of his previous publications, was not the work of Champlain, and never passed under his personal supervision. It is asserted that it was compiled by his publisher, Claude Collet, 1 to whose carelessness the error in the name, as contained on the map, may be attributed. There was no map annexed to the edition of 1619, and the one which accompanied that of 1632 was not constructed until seventeen years after the date of the expedition, as appears from a memorandum on its face. It may not have been compiled from authentic data. One of the discrepancies between it and the text is its location of the ” Antouoronon,” not at the Iroquois fort, but a long distance west of it, thus making a distinction between them and the Iroquois who were living at the fort that is wholly unwarranted by anything contained in the narrative. It is also worthy of note, that the map is not once referred to by Champlain in his text. Not only was it constructed after all his narratives were written, but the index to it was evidently added by some other hand. Another argument urged in favor of the identity of the Entouhonorons with the Seneca has been drawn from the existence of a nation, called by Champlain “Chountouaroüon,” which is undoubtedly a misprint for “Chonontouaronon. 2 They are described as living between the Huron of Canada, and the Carantouanai’s (or Andastes), on the Susquehanna. 3 Champlain says that, “in going from the one to the other, a grand detour is necessary, in order to avoid the Chonontouaronon, which is a very strong nation.” From the name and location, they can be no other than the Seneca.

The Abbé Laverdière assumes that the Chouontouaronon and Entouhonorons are one and the same people. 4 This cannot be true, for Champlain mentions them both in almost the same sentence, and gives to each their respective names, without a hint of their identity. 5 Indeed, Laverdière, in support of his theory, is obliged to interpolate a word in the text of Champlain, which is entirely superfluous. 6 The identity of the Entouhonorons with the Seneca, rather than with the Onondagas, cannot therefore be established by any supposed similarity of name.

2d. The next in order for consideration, is the route pursued by the expedition, and the site of the Iroquois fort, as they are indicated on the map. 7

A slight examination of the annexed facsimile of that portion of the original map, which relates to this expedition, will show it to be wholly unreliable as a guide in any investigation of Champlain’s route. It is incorrect in most of its details. Although the original exhibits the general outlines of Lakes Ontario and Huron, Lake Erie is almost entirely ignored, an irregular strait, bearing little resemblance to it, being substituted. Lake Ontario, as shown by the facsimile, is erroneously represented as containing several islands scattered along its northern and southern shore, and the Niagara river as running due east into its westernmost extremity. The Great Falls are located at the very mouth of the river. Everything is distorted, and in some places it is scarcely recognizable. The supposed route of Champlain is indicated by a dotted line, which, crossing Lake Ontario along a chain of imaginary islands, nearly opposite the mouth of the Oswego river, strikes the southern shore at that point. All evidence that the expedition traversed the ” sandy beach ” which stretches along the Lake shore, south of Stony Point, as referred to in the text, is entirely omitted. From the mouth of the Oswego, the line pursues a southerly direction, and after crossing what appears to be the present Seneca river, and another stream, passes between two lakes directly to the Iroquois fort. This route, as thus shown by the map, is highly improbable, unnecessarily circuitous, and cannot possibly be reconciled with the text of Champlain. 8 If the expedition had gone as far west as Canandaigua lake, Champlain would have passed near to, and have become acquainted with, the existence of no less than eight of those remarkable inland sheets of water which form so conspicuous a feature in the scenery of central New York, not to mention three others a little further west. Only five lakes are indicated on the map, and none are mentioned in the narrative, except Oneida Lake and the one on which the fort was situated. They would certainly have been as worthy of description as the “sandy beach,” “the beautiful wooded country,” “the numerous streams,” the Oneida “lake and river,” and

In the facsimile of Champlain’s map, published by Tross, in Paris, the dotted line, where it should cross Lake Ontario, as shown by the original map, is omitted. The same portion of the line is also wanting in the facsimile published by Dr. O’Callaghan, in Vol. III. of the Documentary History of New York, and by Laverdière, in his recent edition of Champlain’s works. The islands in the eastern end of Lake Ontario, as represented on the original map, are also entirely omitted on Dr. O’Callaghan’s facsimile, “the small lake,” adjacent to the Iroquois fort, which were met with on the route and noticed in the narrative.

3d. It is urged, as an additional argument against the location of the Iroquois fort in the Onondaga country, that the distance of ” twenty-five or thirty leagues,” stated by Champlain to have been traveled by the invaders after they had landed, as well in going to as in returning from the fort, necessarily indicates that they must have gone at least as far west as Canandaigua Lake. It may be said that in stating this distance, Champlain intended to exclude the four leagues ” which they traveled over ” a sandy beach,” immediately after they had concealed their canoes, thus making from twenty-nine to thirty-four leagues in all. But this cannot be a fair construction of his language. He says, ” We made about fourteen leagues in crossing the lake in a southerly direction. The Indians concealed all their canoes in the woods near the shore. We traveled by land some four leagues over a sandy beach.” A little further on he continues: ” All the canoes being concealed, we proceeded by land about twenty-five or thirty leagues during four days.” He thus includes the ” four leagues ” in the four days’ travel of ” twenty-five or thirty leagues.”

The above construction is justified by the further statement, that the same distance of ” twenty-five or thirty leagues was traveled by the expedition on its return from the fort to the canoes, referring to the whole distance. ” The retreat,” he says, ” was very tedious, being from twenty-five to thirty leagues, and greatly fatigued the wounded and those who bore them, although they relieved each other from time to time.” ‘Vet this retreat must have been accomplished in two days, half the time it took to reach the fort from the landing, for he states they were encamped before the fort until the 16th of October, and reached their canoes on the 18th. Charlevoix says they did not stop during their retreat. 9 a physical impossibility, certainly, if they had started from a point as far west as Canandaigua Lake. This assertion of Charlevoix does not appear to be warranted by the narrative of Champlain.

Those writers who, relying on the map, locate the fort on Canandaigua Lake, lose sight of the fact that it discharges its waters into Lake Ontario through the Clyde, Seneca and Oswego rivers, whereas the map places the fort on a stream which empties into Lake Ontario at a point much further west. In considering the question of distance, it must be borne in mind, that the attacking party was on foot, advancing cautiously towards a formidable enemy, in a hostile and unexplored country, destitute of roads and abounding in dense forests, numerous rivers and miry swamps. Under such circumstances, encumbered as they were with their implements of war and other effects, their progress must have been slow. The distances, which are given by Champlain, being measured only by time, are consequently over-estimated. On their retreat, they had become more familiar with the country, and under the stimulus of an enemy in the rear, accomplished their return with much greater rapidity. From Stony Point where they landed, to Onondaga Lake, following in part the beach of Lake Ontario is fifty-three miles, by the shortest possible line, as measured on a reliable map. But it would have been impossible for such an expedition to pursue so direct a course, owing to the necessity of moving circumspectly, and of seeking the most convenient and practicable route through an unknown wilderness. It would not be unreasonable to deduct at least one-fifth from the number of leagues stated by Champlain, in order to arrive at the actual air line distance between the place where he landed and the Iroquois fort.’ If, therefore, we take one-fifth from twenty-seven and a half leagues, which is the mean of the two distances given by Champlain, it will leave twenty-two leagues, or fifty-three and a half miles, as the true distance, measured on an air line. As an example of over-estimates by Champlain himself, reference may be had to the width of Lake Ontario, which he says is ” twenty-five leagues,” an excess of one-fifth. 10 Also to the circumference of Oneida Lake, which he states at twenty-five or thirty leagues,” an excess of one-fourth. Numerous other examples might be cited.

Champlain's Expedition of 1615 Against the Onondaga Magazine Of American History Vol. I January 1877.

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  1. Harrisse. Bibliographie de la N. France, p. 66. See also Laverdière’s Champlain, pp. 637-8.[]
  2. Shea’s Charlevoix, Vol. 2. p. 28, n. The letters ” n ” and ” u ” occur frequently in Indian names, and it is quite difficult to distinguish the one from the other in manuscript. Their being often mistaken for each other occasions numerous typographical errors.[]
  3. Jesuit Relation for 1648. Quebec Reprint, pp. 46-48.[]
  4. Laverdière’s Champlain. p. 522.[]
  5. Laverdière’s Champlain, p. 521, note I.[]
  6. Laverdière’s Champlain, p. 909-910.[]
  7. Laverdière’s Champlain, p. 522, note t.[]
  8. Laverdière’s Champlain, p. 526.[]
  9. Charlevoix’ N. France, Vol. I., p. 24r.[]
  10. Champlain’s distances are stated in ” leagues.” . Several, differing in length, were used by the French, under that name. Among them were the ” lieue de poste” of 2 42/100 English miles-the ” lieue moyenne” of 2 76/100 English miles, and the “lieue géographique” of 3 33/100 English miles. It is important, in discussing this question, to determine the length of the one used by Champlain. Neither his narrative, nor his map of 1632, affords any light on the subject. There is inscribed on a map published in Paris in 1664, entitled: ” Le Canada fait par le Sr. de Champlain * * suivant[]

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