Journal Historique du Dernier Voyage que feu M. de la Sale fit dans le Golfe de Mexique, pour Trouver l'Embouchure & le Cours de la Riviere de Missicipi, Nommee a Present la Riviere de Saint Louis, qui Traverse la Louisiane
Author: Henri Joutel (c1643-1725)
Publisher: Chez Estienne Robinot
xxxiv+386 pages, lacking the prescribed folding map but anomalously bound with "Carte de la Louisiane" from Antoine Le Page du Pratz Histoire, 1758, bound in at page 138. Duodecimo (6 1/2 " x 4") bound in original publisher's full contemporary speckled calf with five raised spine bands and red label in gilt lettering and decorative inserts. (Church 855. Graff 2251. Harrisse 750. Howes J266. Phillips, Maps of America, p. 367. Wagner, Spanish Southwest, 79) First edition.
Henri Joutel the preeminent eyewitness historian of the La Salle expedition. Henri Joutel was a native of Rouen, France, which also was the hometown of René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. At the time the expedition was being organized, his amanuensis tells us, Joutel had just returned from "sixteen or seventeen years" in the army. Influenced by La Salle's reputation as an explorer and his own acquaintance with other members of the expedition, he decided to join.
The last phase of La Salle’s extraordinary career centered on his proposal to fortify the mouth of the Mississippi and to invade and conquer part of the Spanish province of Mexico. He planned to accomplish all this with some 200 Frenchmen, aided by buccaneers and an army of 15,000 Indians—a venture that caused his detractors to question his sanity. But the king saw a chance to harass the Spaniards, with whom he was at war, and approved the project, giving La Salle men, ships, and money.
The expedition was doomed from the start. It had hardly left France when quarrels arose between La Salle and the naval commander. Vessels were lost by piracy and shipwreck, while sickness took a heavy toll of the colonists. Finally, a gross miscalculation brought the ships to Matagorda Bay in Texas, 500 miles west of their intended landfall. After several fruitless journeys in search of his lost Mississippi, La Salle met his death at the hands of mutineers near the Brazos River. His vision of a French empire died with him.
Two basic versions of Joutel's journal are extant: the 1715 printed version and English translations thereof and the one published in the original French by Pierre Margry. The latter doubtless more accurately reflects what Joutel actually wrote; the former both adds to it and subtracts from it.
Calf worn and partially split; moderate browning, "Feuillans de Paris" stamp and 19th-century ink ownership inscription to title-page, front inner hinge cracked but holding else a fair copy.
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