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831
CHAMPMESLÉ—CHAMPOLLION

increases to 400 ft.; but farther south it is much less; throughout the greater part of the lake there is a depth of water of more than 100 ft. Since the lake is caused by the ponding of water in a broad irregular valley, the shore line is nearly everywhere much broken, and in the northern portion are several islands, both large and small, most of which belong to Vermont. These islands divide the lake’s northern end into two large arms which extend into Canada. From the western arm the Richelieu river flows out, carrying the water of Champlain to the St Lawrence. The waters abound in salmon, salmon-trout, sturgeon and other fish, and are navigated from end to end by large steamboats and vessels of considerable tonnage. The lake was formerly the seat of extensive traffic, especially in lumber, but navigation has greatly decreased; the tonnage entering and clearing at the lake was twice as great in the early '70’s as it was thirty years later. The principal ports are Burlington, Vt., and Plattsburg, N.Y. Lake Champlain lies in a valley from 1 to 30 m. wide, between the Green Mountains on the east and the Adirondack Mountains on the west, and the scenery is most picturesque. On the east side is a rather gradual ascent for 20 m. or more from shore to summit, while on the west side the ascent is by a succession of hills, in some places from the water’s edge. North of Crown Point low mountains rise 1000 to 1600 ft. above the lake, and behind these are the higher peaks of the Adirondacks, reaching an elevation of more than 5000 ft. Lake George is a tributary on the south, several small streams flow in from each side; the Champlain Canal, 63 m. in length, connects the lake with the Hudson river; and through the Richelieu it has a natural outlet to the north into the St Lawrence.

Lake Champlain was named from Samuel de Champlain, who discovered it in July 1609. The valley is a natural pathway between the United States and Canada, and during the various wars which the English have waged in America it had great strategic importance. In 1731 the French built a fort at Crown Point; in 1756, another at Ticonderoga; and both were important strategic points in the French and Indian War as well as in the American War of Independence. On the 11th of October 1776, the first battle between an American and a British fleet, the battle of Valcour Island, was fought on the lake. Benedict Arnold, the American commander, with a decidedly inferior force, withstood the British under Thomas Pringle for about seven hours, and then during the night escaped through the enemy’s line. Although overtaken the next day he again, after a fight of a few hours, made a successful retreat.

At the beginning of the War of 1812 the American naval force on the lake, though very small, was superior to that of the British, but on the 3rd of June 1813 the British captured two American sloops in the narrow channel at the northern end and gained supremacy. Both sides now began to build and equip vessels for a decisive contest; by May 1814 the Americans had regained supremacy, and four months later a British land force of 11,000 men under Sir George Prevost (1767–1816) and a naval force of 16 vessels of about 2402 tons with 937 men and 92 guns under Captain George Downie (d. 1814) confronted an American land force of 1500 men under Brigadier-General Alexander Macomb (1782–1841), strongly entrenched at Plattsburg, and an American naval force (anchored in Plattsburg Bay) of 14 vessels of about 2244 tons with 882 men and 86 guns under Commodore Thomas Macdonough (1783–1825). In the open lake the British naval force should have been the superior, but at anchor in the bay the Americans had a decided advantage. Expecting the British land force to drive the American fleet from its anchorage, Captain Downie, on the 11th of September 1814, began the battle of Lake Champlain. It had continued only fifteen minutes when he was killed; the land force failed to co-operate, and after a severe fight at close range for 2½ hours, during which the British lost about 300 men, the Americans 200 and the vessels of both sides were greatly shattered, the British retreated both by land and by water, abandoning their plan of invading New York.

See C. E. Peet, “Glacial and Post-Glacial History of the Hudson and Champlain Valleys,” in vol. xii. of the Journal of Geology (Chicago, 1904); P. S. Palmer, History of Lake Champlain (Albany. 1866); and Capt. A. T. Mahan, Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812 (2 vols., Boston, 1905).


CHAMPMESLÉ, MARIE (1642–1698), French actress, was born in Rouen of a good family. Her father’s name was Desmares. She made her first appearance on the stage at Rouen with Charles Chevillet (1645–1701), who called himself sieur de Champmeslé, and they were married in 1666. By 1669 they were playing in Paris at the Théatre du Marais, her first appearance there being as Venus in Boyer’s Fête de Venus. The next year, as Hermione in Racine’s Andromaque, she had a great success at the Hôtel de Bourgogne. Her intimacy with Racine dates from then. Some of his finest tragedies were written for her, but her repertoire was not confined to them, and many an indifferent play—like Thomas Corneille’s Ariane and Comte d’Essex—owed its success to “her natural manner of acting, and her pathetic rendering of the hapless heroine.” Phèdre was the climax of her triumphs, and when she and her husband deserted the Hôtel de Bourgogne (see Béjart ad fin.), it was selected to open the Comédie Française on the 26th of August 1680. Here, with Mme Guérin as the leading comedy actress, she played the great tragic love parts for more than thirty years, dying on the 15th of May 1698. La Fontaine dedicated to her his novel Belphégor, and Boileau immortalized her in verse. Her husband distinguished himself both as actor and playwright, and his Parisien (1682) gave Mme Guérin one of her greatest successes.

Her brother, the actor Nicolas Desmares (c. 1650–1714), began as a member of a subsidized company at Copenhagen, but by her influence he came to Paris and was received in 1685 sans début—the first time such an honour had been accorded—at the Comédie Française, where he became famous for peasant parts. His daughter, to whom Christian V. and his queen stood sponsors, Christine Antoinette Charlotte Desmares (1682–1753), was a fine actress in both tragedy and soubrette parts. She made her début at the Comédie Française in 1699, in La Grange Chancel’s Oreste et Pylade, and was at once received as sociétaire. She retired in 1721.


CHAMPOLLION, JEAN FRANÇOIS (1790–1832), French Egyptologist, called le Jeune to distinguish him from Champollion-Figeac (q.v.), his elder brother, was born at Figeac, in the department of Lot, on the 23rd of December 1790. He was educated by his brother, and was then appointed government pupil at the Lyceum, which had recently been founded. His first work (1804) was an attempt to show by means of their names that the giants of the Bible and of Greek mythology were personifications of natural phenomena. At the age of sixteen (1807) he read before the academy of Grenoble a paper in which he maintained that the Coptic was the ancient language of Egypt. He soon after removed to Paris, where he enjoyed the friendship of Langlès, De Sacy and Millin. In 1809 he was made professor of history in the Lyceum of Grenoble, and there published his earlier works. Champollion’s first decipherment of hieroglyphics dates from 1821. In 1824 he was sent by Charles X. to visit the collections of Egyptian antiquities in the museums of Turin, Leghorn, Rome and Naples; and on his return he was appointed director of the Egyptian museum at the Louvre. In 1828 he was commissioned to undertake the conduct of a scientific expedition to Egypt in company with Rosellini, who had received a similar appointment from Leopold II., grand duke of Tuscany. He remained there about a year. In March 1831 he received the chair of Egyptian antiquities, which had been created specially for him, in the Collège de France. He was engaged with Rosellini in publishing the results of Egyptian researches at the expense of the Tuscan and French governments, when he was seized with a paralytic disorder, and died at Paris in 1832. Champollion, whose claims were hotly disputed for many years after his death, is now universally acknowledged to have been the founder of Egyptology.

He wrote L’Égypte sous les Pharaons (2 vols. 8vo, 1814); Sur l’écriture hiératique (1821); Sur l’écriture démotique; Précis du système hiéroglyphique, &c. (1824); Panthéon égyptien, ou collection des personnages mythologiques de l’ancienne Egypte (incomplete);