Untitled by Le Sievr de la Franchise


Portrait of Samuel de Champlain

Mvses, si vous chantez, vrayment ie vous conseille
Que vous louëz Champlain, pour estre courageux:
Sans crainte des hasards, il a veu tant de lieux,
Que ses relations nous contentment l’oreille.
Il a veu le Perou, Mexique et la Merueille
Du Vulcan infernal qui vomit tant de feux,
Et les saults Mocosans, qui offensent les yeux
De ceux qui osent voir leur cheute nonpareille.
Il nous promet encor de passer plus auant,
Reduire les Gentils, et trouuer le Leuant.
Par le Nort, ou le Su, pour aller à la Chine.
C’est charitablement tour pour l’amour de Dieu.
Fy des lasches poltrons qui ne bougent d’vn lieu!
Leur vie, sans mentir, me paroist trop mesquine.

Click here to see the January 2021 English language translation by Jonathan Kaplansky

Source: Dow, Charles Mason. Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls ,  Albany: State of New York, 1921

Originally published: Champlain, Samuel de.  Des sauvages ou Voyage de Samuel Champlain De Brouage, fait en la France Nouvelle l’an mil six cens trois, 1604

From Dow: “It is an interesting fact that the first book printed in Europe which contains a reference to Niagara Falls, should also contain this sonnet in which allusion is made to the Falls. The sonnet follows the dedication. The old spelling of the original is followed in the quotation. Research has not revealed any information regarding the author.”  vol, 2, p693

From the 1899 book Old Trails on the Niagara Frontier by Frank Hayward Severance (p. 276-277): “The poetry of Niagara Falls is contemporary with the first knowledge of the cataract among civilized men. One may make this statement with positiveness, inasmuch as the first book printed in Europe which mentions Niagara Falls contains a poem in which allusion is made to that wonder … It seems proper, in quoting this first of all Niagara poems, to follow as closely as may be in modern type the archaic spelling of the original … I regret that some further research has failed to discover any further information regarding the poet De La Franchise. Obviously, he took rather more than the permissible measure of poet’s licence in saying that Champlain had seen Peru, a country far beyond the known range of Champlain’s travels. But in the phrase “les saults Mocosans,” the falls of Mocosa, we have the ancient name of the undefined territory afterwards labeled “Virginia.” The intent of the allusion is made plainer by Marc Lescarbot, who in 1610 wrote a poem in which he speaks of “great falls which the Indians say they encounter in ascending the St. Lawrence as far as the neighbourhood of Virginia.” The allusion can only be to Niagara.”

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