In the preparation of our two earlier volumes entitled "France and New England," so many interesting connecting links between France and this part of our country were discovered that the State Street Trust Company has decided to continue this series by issuing two smaller brochures, one this year and another later.
H. P. Biggar, well known as the most recent translator of Champlain's journals of his voyages, states that the early French explorers made France known from Labrador to Brazil. As far back as the year 1506 a captain from Dieppe, with a Rouen pilot, made a fishing voyage to our coasts. These hardy mariners gave glowing accounts of the abundance of fish along the coast of North America. Marc Lescarbot, of whom we have written here at some length, mentions that for several centuries the Dieppois, Malouins, Rochelois and other mariners made voyages to our coast in quest of cod, and in many instances the profits were large. Toward the middle of the sixteenth century the French Newfoundland fleet comprised sixty ships, and according to Mr. Biggar, vessels left almost every day during the spring from Honfleur, Dieppe, Rouen or Havre.
These fishing voyages doubtless induced the early French navigators to explore our shores. Not the earliest of these, but the most important, were Champlain and De Monts, who sailed to New France near the beginning of the seventeenth century. The former visited Boston Harbour, and we therefore believe it will be of interest to our readers to describe his explorations along the coast of New England, with a chapter on the craft in which he and his colonists sailed. There is also an account of his expedition to Lake Champlain, including some of the French history connected with, these waters. Paul F. Cadman, who has helped us on these French brochures, has included an account of his visit to Brouage, the birthplace of Champlain, besides contributing other valuable material. Further chapters relate to some of the early settlements of the French in New England, at St. Croix Island, at Mount Desert, and at Castine, Maine. There is also a short narrative of the naming of America. Few places retain the French names, yet these early explorations and settlements in other ways left their permanent impress upon this part of the country. It should not be forgotten that the name "La Nouvelle France" was given to the northeastern part of this country by Verrazano and that the same name was bestowed upon Canada by Jacques Cartier of St. Malo on his second voyage to that country in 1536, years before Captain John Smith in 1614 gave it its present name.
Francis Parkman in writing about the French in North America says: "The French dominion is a memory of the past; and when we evoke its departed shades, they rise upon us from their graves in strange, romantic guise. Again their ghostly camp-fires seem to burn, and the fitful light is cast around on lord and vassal and black-robed priest, mingled with wild forms of savage warriors, knit in close fellowship on the same stern errand. A boundless vision grows upon us: an untamed continent; vast wastes of forest verdure, mountains silent . . .