The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940 Page: 43
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Liotot and Jalot, Two French Surgeons of Early Texas 43
month after landing and about four months after leaving Santo
Domingo, "the maladies which the soldiers had contracted at St.
Domingo were visibly carrying them off, and a hundred died in a
few days, notwithstanding all the relief afforded by broths, pre-
serves, treacle and wine, which were given them."5
Recalling how prevalent syphilis was in Haiti and how the disease
had been carried back to Europe by Columbus's men, it is not
difficult to speculate that possibly "the diseases contracted at St.
Domingo" were syphilitic in nature. Joutel registers an opinion
of the city which might be similarly interpreted: "The air of
this place is bad; so are the fruits; and there are plenty of women
worse than either."6
La Salle was sick along with his men. Joutel records that at one
time he fell dangerously ill with a "violent Fever, attended with
Lightheadedness which brought him almost to Extremity."7 And
in the summer of 1686, according to Father Douay, he was stricken
with a prolonged fever with frequent relapses, suggestive of typhoid
fever.8 But he had the added handicap of a hernia which would
have discouraged a less determined man. This hernia troubled him
from time to time and on one occasion, from partial strangulation
or some other complication, he was disabled for a period of four
or five weeks. The operation of herniotomy was in vogue at the
time and the wonder is that La Salle, knowing the physical hard-
ships to which he would be subjected, did not submit to the opera-
tion, or at least that he did not consult his truss-maker before
La Salle possessed courage, resourcefulness, perseverance and
other qualities of leadership. One thing, however, he seemed to
lack, at least on the voyage which resulted so disastrously at Ft.
St. Louis in Victoria County in 1687, and that was ability to
choose his personnel. Many of his men were recruited from the
scum of France; vagabonds of the world, pirates of the sea they
were who, as soon as they were out of sight of the shores of France,
became a source of unrest and violence. And when they reached
sLe Clercq. op. cit. p. 193.
6Parkman. op. cit. p. 372.
7Joutel, Henri. Journal of La Salle's Last Voyage, 1684-7, Albany,
1906, p. 60.
8Douay, Father Anastasius. Narrative of La Salle's Attempt to Ascend
the Mississippi in 1687. In French's Historical Collections of Louisiana,
New York, 1852, Part IV, p. 206.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940, periodical, 1940; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101111/m1/51/: accessed February 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.