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Acadians Before Their Dispersion, by H.R. Casgrain

Henri-Raymond Casgrain was a French-Canadian Catholic priest and author. His book Une Seconde Acadie (1894) is about Acadians on Prince Edward Island. This is a speech he wrote on pre-dispersal Acadians.

Presented to the United States Catholic Historical Society, Feb. 21, 1888.

To understand properly the position of the Acadians in Nova Scotia at the time of their expulsion, we must go back to the treaty of Utrecht, in 1713. By this treaty France ceded Acadia to England, and the French settled in that province, which then definitively assumed the name of Nova Scotia, passed under the English rule. By a special clause of the treaty the free exercise of the Catholic religion was guaranteed to the Acadians, and a year's delay was granted to those who preferred to leave the province.{Nova Scotia Archives, p. 12.} A few days after the signature of the treaty (April 11, 1713) Queen Anne removed this restriction and prolonged the period indefinitely. {Ib., p. 15. Even if Queen Anne's letter cannot be interpreted as meaning an indefinite stay, as some maintain, it cannot be gainsaid that this letter grants the Acadians the same privileges as British subjects. The letter says so expressly. Now our adversaries admit that the Acadians on taking the oath became British subjects. As such then they had a right to sell or abandon their property at any time and depart, carrying their personal property with them.}

The oath of allegiance administered to them by one of the first Governors of Annapolis, Gen. Richard Phillips, contained the express condition that they were not to bear arms against the French or Indians. This condition seemed necessary to induce the Acadians to remain attached to the province, of which they were the sole inhabitants. This gave rise to the name of " French Neutrals," by which they were subsequently known.

It was easy to foresee that such a system could not fail to entail disastrous results on the little growing population, thus placed between two rival powers,, always ready to open hostilities, and who would be sure to dispute their neutrality. They were fatally destined to be victims; but their misfortune exceeded nil that could have been anticipated.

Although the yoke of the English governors was not, in general, severe, yet some of them molested the Acadians, and provoked discontent by arbitrary acts, especially by hampering their missionaries in the lawful exercise of their ministry. Thus they endeavored to force them to throw off the authority of the Bishop of Quebec, on whom they depended, and so violate the most fundamental rules of the Catholic hierarchy. They went so iar as to wish to dispose of parishes by removing parish priests and substituting others. Thus Father Felix Pain, parish priest of the Mines, having incurred the displeasure of Governor Armstrong, a kind of maniac who finally committed suicide, that official took on himself to remove the priest from his parish and appoint in his place Father Isidore, a friar then under an interdict, and ho would have maintained him in that post, had not the parishioners at the Mines revolted and expelled the intruder.

The Acadians were prevented from building new churches, or repairing the old. Churches were demolished, among others that at Pré Ronde, near Port Royal. Some governors even attempted to force upon the missionaries laws for the administration of the sacraments of the Church.{Acadian documents, notes, and traditions, collected by the Abbe Sasseville, curé of Sainte Foy.} Thus, for example, Governor Mascarene wrote threatening letters to the Abbe Desenclaves, because he had refused absolution to some penitents who would not make restitution where they were bound to do so.

But what was more alarming than all the rest, and what made the Acadians as well as their priests believe that their faith was in danger, was the attempt made to proselytize among them, the rulers professing to believe that it was the only way to make them good subjects, {The Governors of Nova Scotia pursued this course, not only from their own inclinations, but also to comply with instructions from London. " You will .... endeavor to undeceive them concerning the exercise of their religion." Board of Trade to Governor Phillips, December 28, 1720, " Nova Scotia Archives," p. 58.} These vexatious acts excite;! distrust which French emissaries turned to advantage by inducing some of the Acadians to violate the promised neutrality. This led to interminable complaints about the oath, which increased in bitterness down to the catastrophe in 1755.

These difficulties, however, led to no serious results during the first thirty years of British rule, mainly from the impotence in which the Governors of Nova Scotia were left, having at their command only a handful of soldiers entrenched behind the feeble bulwarks of Port Royal.

This fort was really the only point of vantage held by England in the province. The governors with their petty garrison, completely isolated and confronted by a conquered people, who formed, as we have seen, the sole civilized population of the peninsula, had to resort to much conciliation to obtain obedience. They could not even have made their authority respected, if they had not had an honest, peaceful population to deal with. To this lack of power, and to no other sentiment, must be ascribed the tranquility in which the Acadians were left; for their new masters, alienated from the Acadians by prejudices of race and religion, so violent in that day, felt more repugnance than sympathy for them. Thus left to themselves rather than governed, the Acadians lived under the paternal direction of their missionaries, to whom, as a rule, they appealed to settle any differences among them. When they had recourse to the foreign judges, it was the French law, alone known to the people, which the judges tried to apply as well as they could. {" The judges (are) far away, and though very judicious, little versed in the 'Coutume de РагЫ,' which Is followed here." Abbé Miuiac to Mr. Jacrau, Director of the Seminary of Quebec, April 3o, 1744, in the Archives of the Seminary of Quebec.}

The small number of the Acadians which made them no object of dread, was at tirst a cause of security ; but in a few years they increased with prodigious rapidity, and that by the mere expansion of families, for all immigration ceased after their separation from France. Colonel Vetch, the second English governor at Port Royal, estimated their total number in 1714 at 2,500 souls ; and he added :

" The French are with the Indians the only inhabitants of this country "; "and as they have intermarried with the Indians, by which and their being of one religion, they have a mighty influence upon them." " One hundred of the French who were born upon that continent, and are perfectly known in the woods, can march upon snowshoes ; and understand the use of birch canoes, are of more value and service than five times their number of raw men, newly come from Europe. So their skill in the fishery, as well as the cultivation of tho soil." {" Nova Scotia Archives," p. 6.}

In 1755 the total Acadian population scattered along the shores of the Bay of Fundy аз far as Chipoudy, and at some other points of the peninsula, as on Isle Saint Jean, now Prince Edward's Island, amounted to at least sixteen or seventeen thousand, that is to say, it had doubled in about every sixteen years.{On this point the Abbé de l'Isle Dieu remarked : " Before the English devastated the poste which we had possessed in the interior of the Peninsula or Nova Scotia, we had more than 15,000 inhabitants." Abbé de l'Iele Dieu, " Tableau Sommaire des Missionnaires .... à l'Acadie francaise et anglaise," in the Archives of the Seminary of Quebec. A memoir by the Ablié Le Loutre, preserved in the same archives, and evidently of 1746, gives the population of the Acadians iu the Peninsula at 8,600 communions, equivalent to about 11,500 souls. According to another memoir there were iu 1743, 9,150 communions, say 13,500 to 13,000 souls. { " Description de l'Acadie, 1748," Archives de la Marine, Paris.} This calculation did not include the Chipoudy settlement, then fifty years old, nor those on the coast at Peticoudiac, Memramcook and its vicinity, to Isle St. Jean, which would add 1,000 or 1,500 souls, and make the total about 14,000. If we add the natural increase from 1748 to 1753, we get a population of 16,000 or 17,000. Even this does not reach the estimate given by Moise de Les Derniers, an inhabitant of Nova Scotia, who was employed to carry out some of Governor Lawrence's orders at the time of the deportation of the Acadians. " It was the common opinion of my acquaintances," says he, " that they were in all 18,000 souls."} They were divided into six main parishes, Port Royal, the oldest and one of the most populous ; Grand Pré, and Rivière aux Canards on the Bay of Mines ; Pisiquid, now Windsor; Cobequid, now Truro, and Beaubassin, at the head of C'hignectou Bay; without counting several important missions, such as Chipoudy, Peticoudiac, and Memramcook, on the western shore of the Bay of Fundy, and those on Isle St. Jean.

As to the life of the Acadians, here is a picture drawn by a Protestant, Moise de Les Derniers, who often sat by their firesides :

The Acadians are the most innocent and virtuous people whom I have ever known or heard tell of in any history They live in a state of perfect equality, without distinction of rank in society. The title of "Messieurs" is not known among them. Ignorant of the luxuries and even of the conveniences of life, they are content with a simple mode of life, which they easily derive from the cultivation of their lands. Very little ambition or avarice was seen among them; they helped each other's wants with benevolent liberality; they required no interest for loans of money or other property. They were humane and hospitable to strangers, and very liberal to those who embraced their religion. They were very remarkable for the inviolable purity of their morals. I do not recollect a single case of illegitimate birth among them, even now. Their knowledge of agriculture was very limited, although they cultivated their dyked lands pretty well.

They were completely ignorant of the progress of arts and sciences. I knew but a single person among them who could read or write : {This must be the Notary Le Beau immortalized by Longfellow.} some of them could do so, but very imperfectly, and no one among them had learned any trade. Each farmer was his own architect, and each proprietor was a farmer. They lived almost entirely independent of other nations, except to procure salt and tools, as they employed very little iron for any other farming implements.

They raised and made their own clothing, which was uniform. They were fond of black and red with stripes down the leg, bunches of ribbon and long streamers.

Notwithstanding their negligence, their lack of means and scanty knowledge of agriculture, they laid up abundant stores of provisions and clothing, and had comfortable houses.

They were a strong, healthy people, capable of enduring great hardship, and generally lived to an advanced age, although no one employed a doctor. The men worked hard in planting and harvest time, and the season when the dykes were to be made or repaired, and on any occasion when work was pressing. They thus secured for half the year, at least, leisure which they spent in parties and merrymakings, of which they were very fond. But the women were more assiduous workers than the men, though they took a considerable part in their amusements. Although they were almost all entirely illiterate, it was rare to see any one remain silent long when in company, they never seemed at a loss for a subject of conversation. To conclude, they seemed always cheerful and light-hearted, and on every occasion were unanimous. If any disputes arose in their transactions, etc., they always submitted it to arbitration, and their last appeal was to the priest. Although I have seen cases of mutual recrimination on returning from these decisions, you seldom, if ever, discovered among them any thought of malice or vengeance. In fact they were perfectly accustomed to act candidly in all circumstances; and really, if there be a people who recall the Golden Age as described in history, it was the old-time Acadians.{This account of the life of the Acadian people has not, to my knowledge, been cited by any historian. The Memoir from which I extract it was written by Moise de Les Derniers, at the request of Dr. Andrew Brown, of Halifax. I owe a copy to the courtesy of Mr. F. B. Crofton, librarian of the Nova Scotia Legislature.}

The rupture of the peace between France and England, the influence of which was immediately felt in America, was the signal for woes which necessarily resulted from the false position in which Acadia had been placed, and which led at last to the dispersion of its inhabitants. It was a prey for which the two parties, face to face, were constantly contending.

In 1744, Du Vivier, a French officer who had Acadian blood in his veins, set out from Louisbourg at the head of an expedition, and landed on Nova Scotia, where he hoped to see the people rise and join him. If he had succeeded, Port Royal (Annapolis), with its ramparts destitute of soldiers, and made of sand that was crumbling away on all sides, must have fallen into his hands, and with that fort, all "Nova Scotia. But the Acadians, as a body, refused to take part in the struggle, and thus saved British power in the peninsula. There were some exceptions, but they were rare and due especially to the more fiery than prudent zeal of the Indian missionary then maintained by France in the peninsula. The Abbé La Loutre, who was not then the Vicar-General of Nova Scotia, as English historians pretend,{The Abbé Le Loutre was not appointed Vicar-General till 1754, that is to say, only about a year before hi3 return to France. According to the Abbé de 1'lsle Dieu, he held the title only for French Acadia, that is, the party lying west of the Messagouetche. "Tableau sommaire . . . . de J'Acadie."} had learned either in person or by the reports of other missionaries, the attempts made to pervert the Acndians, and had been greatly alarmed by the danger to which their faith was exposed. He hoped to deliver them from this danger by joining Du Vivier's expedition with his Indians, as it had in his eyes every prospect of success in restoring Acadia to France. He committed the great fault of not succeeding.

That the missionaries had ground for fear, we shall soon see. That very year, 1744, Shirley, Governor of Massachusetts, proposed to expel part of the Acadians from their lands, and gave them to English settlers so as to mingle Protestants in the population ; moreover, he proposed to give the coins of Judas to every Acadian who renounced Catholicity, and rewards to all who sent their children to English schools. {This was Shirley's project, according to Beamish Murdoch. " He proposes to int?rspt'rse Protestant settlements among the French in Nova Scotia, taking part of the marsh lands from them for the new settlers ; .... he recommends .... granting small privileges and immunities for the encouragement of such he should come over to the Protestant communion and send their children to learn English." The Protestant historian who relates this cannot refrain from censuring Shirley's project: "This suggestion," he says, "of offering worldly advantages in exchange of profession, can hardly be commended in our duty." "History of Nova Scotia," ii., pp. 129-131. In all this history, no one i¡i more to blame than unworthy France under Louis XV., which, after exacting everything from the Acadians, did nothing for them. The Satanic scheme proposed by Shirley involves a double iniquity worth noting: 1. Buying consciences for money. 2. The arbitrary seizure of the lands belonging to the Acadians (taking part of the marsh lands from them for the new settlers). It shows how little regard they had for the property rights of the Acadians, at the very moment when their fidelity merited praise from their own governor, and how they came to deprive them of everything and banish them, as soon as they had strength and an opportunity.}

The fidelity of the Acadians was not yet shaken. Mascarène, Governor of Nova Scotia, could not help avowing that the safety of his province was due to their neutrality and the attitude taken by their missionaries; he bore public testimony to it. These are his words : " The missionaries .... made their conduct appear to have been on this occasion far better than could have been expected from them." . ..." To .... the French inhabitants refusing to take up arms against us, we owe our safety." {Letter of Mascareue, Dec., 1744, "Nova Scotia Archives," pp. 147-8.}

In 1740 another French expedition, commanded by de Ramesay, came from Quebec to co-operate with the fleet sent from France tinder the Duke d'Anville. It achieved a glorious victory at Grand Pro, but was not more successful in delivering Acadia than Du Vivier's expedition. {The "New York Post-Boy," February 23,1746-7, attests the affectionate disposition of the Acadians and their clergy to the English, at this juncture. (Editors.)}

The Abbé de Miniac, grand archdeacon and parish priest at Rivière aux Canards, was then Vicar-General of the Bishop of Quebec in Acadia. He was an aged man of tact and experience, whose words and example must have exercised influence over his associates and the people. {Some writers confound Mr. de Miniac with Mr. Manach, an Indian missionary who came later.}

Although he was as much alarmed as his fellow-priests at the position of the Acadians, he did not regard these French expeditions witli the same eye that the Abbé Le Loutre did. On the contrary, he saw that they would lead to inextricable complications.

" I would regard it," he wrote to Quebec, " as the direst misfortune for these people (Acadians), if another expedition comes from Canada ; then there would be no consideration for us. We see already that the government is strongly prejudiced. Our letters are unanswered, and several of the people are in irons. In this embarrassing situation we are racked by the greatest fear We have no longer any mode of communicating, and can obtain intelligence only from the coast. See how we are closed in." {Abbe dc Miniac to M. Valier, Superior of the Seminary of Quebec. Acadia, Sept. 23, 1745. Archives of the Seminary of Quebec.}

The character of Vicar-General Miniac and the course he pursued in Acadia are distinctly indicated in these few lines. He was evidently a moderate man, who endeavored to diffuse his own spirit around him. Would to heaven that he could have infused it into the Abbé Le Loutre!

The Abbé Joseph Louis Després Le Loutre was a Breton, born, probably, at Morlaix in Finistère. This at least may be interred from two of his letters written from Morlaix, where the family property seems to have been. He had studied at the Seminary of the Foreign Missions at Paris, and it was as a priest of that congregation that he was sent to America in 1737. He was in the first instance to proceed to Acadia to replace the Abbé de Saint Poney, missionary at Port Royal, who had been recalled to France ; he was then to apply himself to the study of the Micmac language to be able to aid two of his associates, the Abbé de Saint Vincent and the Abbé Maillard, commissioned like himself to minister to the different tribes of that nation.

Several circumstances prevented his assuming the direction of the parish of Port Boyal ; and after learning the Micmac language under the guidance of the Abbé Maillard, he proceeded to the Indian missions of Acadia.

The following extracts from two letters of the Abbé Maillard to the Director of the Foreign Missions at Paris give some insight into the character of the Abbé Le Loutre and his missions :

I have just come back to Louisbourg in time to meet Mr. Le Loutre, who is setting out for Acadie with the intention of wintering with the Indians of that country, who have long hungered for the spiritual bread of the Word. God does all things well : he has given me a most pleasant winter from the happiness I enjoyed in having Mr. Le Loutre, and has furnished a good opportunity of learning while teaching my associate. All bids fair for the new missionary. He is now prepared to display his evangelical talent wherever he finds Micmacs ; he does not yet speak correctly : bat he has the key to the principal conjugations. Practice will give him assurance as a speaker ; he is a perfect Micmac in church, as he knows, reads, and chants, all our prayers perfectly well, it is only in familiar conversation that he betrays himself ; he is going to visit the parts where I was last summer, where there are many Indians, and more French. But the fixed point of his mission is Mouchkoudoubougouek, and the tide water of Chigabenakady river, where all the Micmacs gathered when I was there, and 2

where they are soon to return on the strength of my promise to winter with them. {Letter of the Abbé Maillard, Louisbourg, September S9, 1738. Archives of the Seminar}- of Quebec, t Letter of same, October 1, 1738.}

I cannot express the diligence with which he studied the language all the time wo were together (at Malégoueche, in Cape Breton); he was so persistent that I could not open any book but my Micuuic manuscripts, to answer as far as my scanty knowledge permitted, the hosts of questions that he put me daily. I never could get from him more than two hours after supper to read alternately the Holy Scripture and Moral Theology. He can now, thank God, get along with the Indians, whom he instructs and confesses very well; he has too the tact of making them fear him, which will certainly help to reform the worst among them. God give him grace to persevere as he has begun, and he will feel rewarded for all the pains he has taken. His present mission is in the districts of Acadia, where there are large numbers of Indians who have long desired a missionary who understands them. His comfort will be, that he will have a flock more docile than mine. We now need a third for the Indians on He St. Jean, who are extremely depraved, because they hardly ever see a missionary. But he must be a person of character to act in concert with the missionaries at Acadia and Ile Royale. By this means, we should soon succeed in overcoming the indocility of the Micmac, and putting an end to his inconstancy.

The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, concluded in 1748 between France and England, has been called a truce to prepare for another war. It may be added, that on tins side of the Atlantic this respite could scarcely be called a truce.

The question as to the frontiers of the rival colonies left unsettled, opened the way to aggressions which were made incessantly by both parties.

English authors not unjustly reproach the French authorities for employing means unworthy of civilized nations, by secretly inducing Indians to continue the war, after peace had been signed. The Marquis de la Jonquière, Governor of Canada from 1749 to 1752, allowed himself to be drawn into acts which are inexcusable.

But let us examine the conduct of his adversaries, and we find that it was no better. " It is notorious,'' Count Raymond, Commandant at Louisbourg, wrote to the Court of France, " that scarcely a month has passed since the last peace, in which the English have not sent armed cruisers along the coast of this colony.

"From the end of 1749, the time when the English in any considerable number repaired to Chebucto (Halifax) to settle there, the French have been unable to sail in safety along the coast, and even near Canseau Island .... on account of the frequent menaces made them. They have continued to overhaul vessels of all kinds, seize all they found on board, and even the crew, as they have done on several occasions." {" Lettres et Memoires sur le Cap Breton," p. 235.}

Count Raymond supported these accusations with an array of facts given in the fullest detail. He states among the rest that the English had captured that very year, 1749, three sloops with their crews in a port on Isle Royale, and did not release them till they had confiscated all their cargo of fish. la August and September of the same year they carried off two priests : the Abbé Girard, from Cobequid, whom they kept as a prisoner for three months at Halifax ; and the Abbé de la Goudalie, parish priest at Grand Pré, whom they compelled to return to France.

They attacked and captured French vessels passing between Isle Royale and Isle Saint Jean, ill-treated the crew, seized the cargoes, often even the vessels, although in every case passports in due form were produced.

A more serious affair was the capture on the 16th of October, 1Y50, of a brigantine belonging to the French navy, the " Saint François," loaded with provisions, uniforms, and arms, for the French posts on St. John's River. Besides these violations of the peace at sea there were others equally grave on land. The pretext for this class, was, as I have just remarked, infringements of the frontier of Xova Scotia, which had been a matter of dispute since the treaty of Utrecht. When that treaty was concluded the unpardonable blunder was committed of not fixing the frontier definitively ; and the door was thus open to ever reviving difficulties.

England and France had indeed, at last, appointed a commission to settle this question ; but while the commission, which met at Paris, was prolonging its meetings without attaining any results, events in America were marching on, and the two parties nice to face had reached a practical result, established by the force of fact. The little river Messa- gouetche, which empties into the Bay of Fundy, about midway on the Isthmus, was regarded de facto, if not de jure, as the frontier between the English and French possessions. In 1750, three years before the commissioners met, Fort Beauséjour had been built by the French on the right bank of the river, and Fort Lawrence on the left by the English, to uphold their respective positions.

We shall see how in these conditions the English respected the-peace established in Europe between the two nations.

On the 15th of September, 1750, an English detachment fired on a party of French sent out to reconnoiter. The next year another detachment fired on French troops, and this time without any provocation.

In June, 1751, a detachment of about 300 English soldiers sallied by night from Fort Lawrence, crossed the Messagouetche, and attacked a French post stationed at Pont-a-Buot. On two other nights similar detachments crossed the same river and destroyed the dykes constructed by the French.

These acts of hostility, committed in violation of the peace, increased steadily in number and violence till the final rupture between France and England, which was not till 1756.

It must not be forgotten that prior to that date, the French envoy Jumonville had been killed on the western frontier by Washington, Fort Necessity had been taken, General Brad- dock had been defeated on the Monongahela ; and in the East, Fort Beausejour had been taken and the Acadians in Nova Scotia deported. If this state of things was peace, what is war ? Finally, that this illusory peace might end as it had begun, the first encounter of the French and English fleets off Newfoundland presents the same disregard of international rights that was shown on the mainland. And it was not France which presents it. Hocquart, the French commander of the " Alcide," coming within hailing distance of one of the English vessels, asked the commander whether he brought peace or war.

" Peace ! Peace ! " he shouted back.

"While his words were still echoing in the ears of the French officers the " Alcide " was riddled by a cannonade of balls and grape-shot.

The Acadians had always lived in the fond hope that their province would be reconquered by France. The missionaries and the representatives of the Court of Versailles had always kept up this hope ; but after the settlement of Halifax, when they saw the English strongly intrenched in the peninsula, they banished all illusion, and great numbers emigrated to the western shore of the Bay of Fundy, to Isle St. Jean, and even to Cape Breton. Unfortunately this emigration was hampered by two obstacles : first, the opposition of the English officers, who, to retain the Acadians, prevented them as far as they could from carrying away their personal property ; in the second place, the indifference of the French government, which, while it encouraged the Acadians, took no proper steps to compensate them for their losses by aiding them to establish new homes. A part of these unfortunate people, after spending the last of their means, lost all courage and sunk into the greatest misery.

The Abbé Le Loutre was at the head of this emigration scheme, although he had been appointed at first to the Micmac missions in Nova Scotia. Regarded with hostility by the English after the part that he had taken in I)u Vivier's expedition, he did not consider himself safe in his mission at Shubenacadie when Halifax was founded within thirty miles of him, and he retired to Beaubassin, and then to Beausejour. He was a man of undoubted activity and perseverance, but destitute of the other qualities needed by the difficult mission assigned to him. His project in itself was excellent, and had he succeeded, he might have withdrawn the Acadians from the calamities that overtook them some years later. Unfortunately, the Abbé Le Loutre, led on by a blind patriotism, became the tool of the unworthy intrigues and schemes of some of the French officers, and thus compromised the Acadians more than he served them. It is true that it is hard to pronounce a fair judgment on this missionary on the testimony of his enemies, and even of the French officers of his time, who for the most part were imbued with \roltairean ideas, and as much prejudiced against the clergy as the Protestants of that time were; but we know enough from official dispatches to say that he disregarded the duties of his profession and committed acts which cannot be justified.

Many of the imputations brought against him are doubtless unfounded, at least are not proved ; but by his whole conduct he has deserved to have his memory assailed.

When the English began to fortify the left bank of the Messagouetche by building Fort Lawrence, the Abbé Le Loutre wished to make all round a desert by inducing or compelling the people at Beaubassin to emigrate. As many of these ill-starred people hesitated or refused to abandon their property, he set his Indians on them, who compelled them to flee by setting fire to their houses. The enemies of the Abbé Le Loutre pretend that he applied the torch to the church himself. The least that can be said, is, that by his violences he suggested what he was capable of.

The first mistake on the part of the Abbé Le Loutre was to place himself at the disposal of the French government, from which he received considerable sums, not only to build barracks in order to settle the Acadian emigrants on the French part of the isthmus ; but also to strengthen the friendship of the Indians, and keep alive their hostility to the English.

One of the gravest accusations brought against him is that, in the name of the French government, he paid the Indians for English scalps.* The intendant at Louisbourg, Mr. Prévost, wrote to the Minister on the 16th of August, 1753 : " The Indians took eighteen English scalps a month ago, and Mr. Le Loutre was obliged to pay them 1,800 livres Acadian money, for which I reimbursed him."

This transaction appears all the more reprehensible, because, although war existed in fact in a more or less active form, it had not been officially declared between the two crowns. English authors, speaking of this occurrence, represent it in a still more odious light by pretending that it was done when perfect peace existed. We all know by what has been said already, what that assertion is worth. These same authors undoubtedly did not reflect on the consequences that would follow. Would they be as ready to admit that the Acadians were carried off in time of peace? Yet, it is certain, that at that date war had not been declared between France and England.

Moreover, they show themselves unjust toward the Abbé Le Loutre in not stating with the culpable acts ascribed to him those worthy of praise, which won the gratitude of his very enemies, when both cases rest on the same authority. Prévost, the intendant, relates in a letter to the Minister, dated October 15, 1750, that thirty-seven English prisoners had been taken by the Acadian Indians, seventeen of them soldiers and six women, and brought to Port Toulouse, in Cape Breton. " It was Mr. Le Loutre," he adds, " who rescued them from the hands of the Indians and promised 8,155 livres 7 sous as security, for which the Indians kept as hostages a lieutenant in the infantry and two subalterns." {Rewards for scalps were the general rule. In 1750 Governor Cornwallis issued a proclamation at Halifax, offering £50 for Indian prisoners or scalps. (" New York Post Boy," July 13, 1750.) His proclamation of June 21, 1750, recites offers of £10 sterling for the head or scalp of an Indian, and offers £50. (Same, July 33, 1750.) In 1745 the General Court of Massachusetts offered £100 for any Indian killed, if scalp hrought in ; £105, if he was taken alive ; females and children, if killed, £50; and £55, if taken alive. Supplement to " New York Post Boy," Sept, 33, 1745. (Editor.)}

The anonymous author of the "Mémoires sur le Canada," who furnishes or sustains several of the charges brought against the Abbé Le Loutre, seems to have been the personal enemy of that missionary. At least one cannot help thinking so, when we see how vindictively he pursues him, interpreting against him not only what he did, but even what he thought ; while he lavishes praises on the most shameless officials, Bigot, the intendant, for example, whom he describes as a man " full of good faith and probity." {" Collection de Documents sur la Nouvelle France," iii., p. 456. t Ib., p. 40.}  Moreover, hatred of the Catholic clergy is everywhere apparent in these Mémoires, which are deeply imbued with the spirit of the eighteenth century. It will be admitted that such a source is, at least, suspicious.

Another anonymous writer says that the Abbé Le Loutre's "conduct would have been deemed imprudent even in a sergeant of grenadiers. lie had incited the Micmacs and Souriquois to take English scalps, and went at their head with a crucifix. Several young Acadians allied to these Indians followed the Abbé Le Loutre, and notwithstanding all the representations of the older men, the whole colony was declared to be in rebellion Their priests, it was said, collected arms, and made arsenals of the churches. If this was true," the same author adds judiciously, " the priests ought to have been punished ; they deserved it, and the Acadians were innocent." {Duc de Nivernois, ou the Dispersion of the Acadians. Dec. 2, 176ÍÍ. "Archives des Affaires Etrangères," Paris.}
 
On liis side Moise de Les Derniers relates that he had heard it said that the Abbé Le Loutre had declared from the pulpit that the English nation was "the enemy of God and the friend of the devil, and that Christ had been crucified in England." The Abbé Le Loutre having thus excited public opinion against him, it is not surprising that such things were ascribed to him. An English officer, well known in the two camps, Captain Howe, having been drawn into an ambuscade and killed by the Indians, it was said to have been done at the instigation of the Abbé Le Loutre.

Edward Cornwallis, Governor of Nova Scotia, offered a hundred pounds for his head ; and he wrote to Mgr. de Pont- briand, Bishop of Quebec, a letter full of threats, in which he asked him, whether it was he who had sent the Abbé Le Loutre as a missionary to the Micmacs, and whether it was for their good that he excited these wretches to wreak their cruelty on those who had shown them every kindness. {If we may credit an eye-witness1, a friend and spy of the English, the famous Pichón, the goodness vaunted by Governor Cornwallis had been displayed too late to gain much credence among the Indians. The settlers of Halifax had from their arrival provoked the Indians. " About the beginning of 1750," says thie author, who cites approvingly Count de Raymond's words, '' the English on reaching Chibucto, spread the report that they were going to exterminate the Indians. Their actions showed the design, for they sent out detachments in all directions to pursue them. The Indians taking alarm, determined to declare war openly on men whom they had never ceased to regard as enemies." .... " Dow many acts of inhumanity," adds Count de Raymond, " would have been committed by that naturally vindictive nation, if the missionaries had not exerted all their power to restrain them ? It is notorious that the Indians believed everything lawful against their enemies. Hence it cost infinite pain and effort to repress the license which they deemed most lawful, as they regarded it as a retaliation ; and how many English Hvea their charitable zeal saved ! These same missionaries can show In writing the lessons of mercy and humanity to be exercised in time of war, which the}' inculcated in their Indians. They even embodied it in a catechism which they taught the children, and which has already produced good effect." These were the labors of missionaries to civilize the Indians, and where are the civilizing efforts of the English ? The authors who make so much of the Abbé Le Loutre's conduct, take good care not to study his patient labors. They are still more careful not to consider the atrocious actions worthy of savages, committed by their people in peace as well аз in war, like those of which the Commandant at Louisbourg reminded the Indians. " Toward the close of July, 1749, at a time when the suspension of hostilities between the two countries was not yet known in New France, the Indians had captured some Englishmen of Newfoundland, but when these prisoners informed them that a suspension of arms had been signed at Aix-la-Chapelle the year before, the Indians believed them on their word, .... treated them as brothers, untied them, and took them to their cabins to entertain them ; hut in return for this good treatment, these treacherous guests during the night butchered twenty-five Indian men and women." " Toward the close of December, 1744, Ganon, commanding an English detachment, found two cabins of Micmac Indians (neorPort Royal), in which there were five women and three children, two of the women with child ; but though they were all objects to awaken humanity, the English not only plundered and burned the two cabins, but massacred the five women and three children. The pregnant women were even found cut open." "Lettres et Memoires sur le Cap Breton," pp. 133, 135.}

The Bishop of Quebec wrote to the Abbé Le Loutre to reproach him for his conduct : " You have at last fallen into the very trouble which I had foreseen and which I predicted long ago. The refugees could not escape falling into misery sooner or later, and accusing you of having caused their misfortunes The Court deemed it necessary to facilitate

their leaving their lands, but that does not fall within the scope of our profession. It was my opinion that we ought to say nothing, either to oppose the carrying out of the project, or to persuade them to it. I reminded you long ago, that a priest ought not to meddle in temporal affairs, and that if lie did, he would always raise up enemies and produce discontent among the people.

'' Have you the right," the bishop continued, " to refuse the sacraments (to those who wished to return to their lands), to threaten them with being deprived of the services of a priest, and that the Indians would treat them as enemies ? I conscientiously wish that they would leave the lands which they possess under the English flag ; but is it clearly proved that they cannot in conscience go back there, when there is no danger of perversion ?" {Mgr. de Pontbriand to the Abbé Le Loutre, "Nova Scotia Archives," p. 340.}

When Beausejour capitulated the Abbé Le Loutre escaped in disguise and made his way to Quebec, where he embarked for Europe on a merchant vessel. The ship was captured at sea, and he was carried to England and then to the Island of Jersey, where he was confined for eight year» as prisoner in Elizabeth's castle.

A memoir written in 1764 informs us that after his return to France he lived on the revenues of his patrimony, which was a large property, and on a pension of 800 livres, assigned to him by the King on the Bishopric of Lavaur.* -According to the same "Mémoire" the Abbé Le Loutre " paid out of his own means and funds entrusted to him', the ransom of English prisoners whom he rescued from tortures prepared by the Indians. After spending twenty years of his life among the savages scattered in the woods, and the Trench families dotted along the coast and in-our forts .... lie saw the King, pleased with his services, reward him by bounties, and what is more flattering, by his confidence ; he saw the English pay on his word the ransoms he had advanced to save their prisoners, and during the eight years' imprisonment they considered a just punishment of his patriotic zeal, lie received many marks of esteem at their hands."

Moreover, we know by a passage in the Lettres Edifiantes that the Abbé Le Loutre took an active part in establishing in France the Acadians who took refuge there.

I have alluded to the partiality of some historians. Another wrong which they commit, is to use the faults of the Abbé Le Loutre, to accuse the other Acadian missionaries and cover them all with the same reprobation. It is certain that these missionaries, who were all French, kept alive in the Acadians love for their mother country and the hope of being one day reconquered. Was this a great crime ?—when it was not distinctly settled whether the Acadians were English subjects or not, as it is now pretended that it was.

The oath of fidelity which they had been allowed to take, which qualified them as French Neutrals, and left them, as it were, midway between the two parties, leaves the matter open to grave doubt. On this point there is a very curious memoir, worth reading, written about 1762, by the Abbé de Г Isle Dieu, Vicar-General of the Bishop of Quebec. It is, moreover, certain, that taking the frontier as claimed by France, embracing more than half the peninsula, the greatest part of the Acadian population was on French soil. {" Mémoire des Missions Etrangères," Archives of the Seminary of Quebec, t Consult on this question of frontier the fine work with maps, recently issued bу Justin Winsor, Librarian of Harvard College, " Narrative and Critical History of America." The pretensions on both sides were exorbitant. While France conceded only a sterile strip along the eastern coast of Nova Scotia, England insisted not only on the whole peninsula, but on all that now forms New Brunswick and the gulf shores as far аs Rimousld. The confusion in men's niinds caused by this disagreement between the two powers can be easily imagined. The Acadians and their missionaries naturally took French ground. This was enough to draw out recrimination and put them in the position of rebels. England felt so uncertain whether the Acadians were British subjects, that all 'who were brought into her ports after the dispersion (and their number amounted to about 1.500 according to de la Roehette) were treated as prisoners of war and received rations, that is to sау, were recognized as French subjects. It was only in the English colonies that the authorities refused to recognize or treat them as such.}

Had England desired to detach the Acadians from France, they ought to have given them missionaries who were not French (either Swiss or Belgian), as they might have done under the treaty of Utrecht. {Government seems to have entertained this idea for a time, but did not follow it up. It was held surer to draw the Acadians gradually to Protestantism.}

As Catholic priests and spiritual guides of the Acadians, the missionaries were obliged to watch that they did not lose their faith. Now they saw the unremitting efforts made to deprive them of it and allure them to Protestantism. They protested as in duty bound; they denounced these attempts, and thereby necessarily excited the distrust of their parishioners against their masters.

But whose fault was it ? They were fatally placed between two evils, to betray their duty, or be regarded as traitors. They preferred to do their duty. This has been alleged as a crime. It is only a greater merit on their part.

I will cite only one example to show how full of prejudice and party spirit are some of the judgments passed on these missionaries. The Abbé Maillard is one of those assailed, and he was particularly exposed, having had charge of the Micmac missions before Le Loutre, whose instructor he was in the Indian language, and then having the care of the Micmacs on Cape Breton, while the Abbé Le Loutre had that of the Nova Scotia Micmacs. If the Abbé Maillard had returned to Europe after the dispersion of the Acadians, we should know no more of him than of his fellow missionaries, of whom we lose trace amid the clergy of France ; but he never left the district around the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and he spent bis last years at Halifax, amid those who had been his bitterest enemies. He won them all by his eminent qualities and his virtues. He made his enemies his admirers and friends. At his death, the highest civil and military officers in Halifax, the Governor and his Council, followed his funeral cortege.

This is the testimony of those who were most hostile to him before they knew him. {" Nova Scotia Archives," p. 184.}

After this dissertation, which may seem useless to some, but which is not devoid of importance to those who follow closely the historic movement in the country, it is necessary to return to events, before summing up the situation in a few words.

Before Halifax was founded the effective power of the Governor of Nova Scotia did not extend further than the cannon of Port Royal could reach. These Governors had Tinder their control really only the inhabitants of that parish. After them the nearest were the people in the Bassin des Mines, but there were twenty leagues of mountain and forest between them.

The other parishes, still more inaccessible, were strung along to the head of the Bay of Fundy. Up to this time not a single English colonist had settled in the province. The Acadians were therefore the real masters of Acadia, and able to impose conditions if they consented to remain.

As the Treaty of Utrecht guaranteed the free exercise of the Catholic religion, there could be no question of imposing on them the Test Oath, which involved an act of apostasy ; a particular formula of oath had to be adopted. The Acadians had insisted and obtained as an express condition that they should not be required to bear arms against the French or Indians. It was only after they had taken the oath with this condition that the governors wished to retract it.

The Acadians, relying on their good faith, insisted with a constancy and obstinacy that does them honor, but which finally entailed the dispersion of the whole colony. One of the reasons of their resistance was the fear that the English would ultimately exact of them an oath contrary to their faith. The attempts made to pervert them prove that their fears were not groundless.

Edward Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax, and his successors in the government of Nova Scotia, employed every means, persuasion and threats, to wring from the Acadians an unreserved oath.

We must recollect what England's penal laws against Catholics were at that date, and under what a yoke the Irish were crushed, to understand the consequences entailed by such an oath. Were not the missionaries to the Acadians, as guardians of their faith, justified in expressing their fears on this point? Could they, in conscience, forbear showing their flocks the danger, when they beheld the incessant attempts made to allure them to Protestantism ? This proselytizing had become so active that it was the topic of a special memorial sent to Frailee. {"Etat présent des missions de l'Acadie. Efforts impuissants des gouverneurs Anglais pour détruire la religion Catholique dans l'Acadie." The test oath was not abolished in Nova Scotia till 1827. It was Haliburton, elected by the Acadians of Clare County (Baie Sainte Marie), who effected its repeal. The fine picture which he drew of the Acadians and .their missionary, the Abbe Sigogne, in the speech he made on the occasion, is well worthy of perusal.}

To put an end to all these vexations and also to yield to the invitations given them to settle in Canada, the Acadians in 1750 sent a petition to Governor Cornwallis, asking his authorization to leave the province.

It was the only reasonable course left them, as on the one hand they did not wish to take any other oath to the English government, and on the other hand, oaths more and more compromising were required of them.

At this point began the critical state of the Acadian question, which closed in the catastrophe so well known to all.

United States Catholic Historical Magazine, V. II, No. V, Jan. 1888, pp. 8-30

 
 
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