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Canadians, who looked on them as inferiors. Their pleasures were those of the humblest and simplest peasants; they were contented with their lot, and asked only to be let alone. Their intercourse was unceremonious to such a point that they never addressed each other, or, it is said, even strangers, as monsieur. They had the social equality which can exist only in the humblest conditions of society, and presented the phenomenon of a primitive little democracy, hatched under the wing of an absolute monarchy. Each was as good as his neighbor; they had no natural leaders, nor any to advise or guide them, except the missionary priest, who in every case was expected by his superiors to influence them in the interest of France, and who, in fact, constantly did so. While one observer represents them as living in a state of primeval innocence, another describes both men and women as extremely foul of speech; from which he draws inferences unfavorable to their domestic morals, which, nevertheless, were commendable. As is usual with a well-fed and unambitious peasantry, they were very prolific, and are said to have doubled their number every sixteen years. In 1748 they counted in the peninsula of Nova Scotia between twelve and thirteen thousand souls.2 The English rule had been of the lightest, - so light that it could scarcely be felt; and this was
1 Journal de Franquet, Part II.
% Description de l'Acadie, avec le Nom des Paroisses et le Nombra des Habitants, 1748.
not surprising, since the only instruments for enforcing it over a population wholly French were some two hundred disorderly soldiers in the crumbling little fort of Annapolis; and the province was left, perforce, to take care of itself.
The appearance of D'Anville's fleet caused great excitement among the Acadians, who thought that they were about to pass again under the Crown of France. Fifty of them went on board the French ships at Chibucto to pilot them to the attack of Annapolis, and to their dismay found that no attack was to be made. When Ramesay, with his Canadians and Indians, took post at Chignecto and built a fort at Baye Verte, on the neck of the peninsula of Nova Scotia, the English power in that part of the colony seemed at an end. The inhabitants cut off all communication with Annapolis, and detained the officers whom Mascarene sent for intelligence.
From the first outbreak of the war it was evident that the French built their hopes of recovering Acadia largely on a rising of the Acadians against the English rule, and that they spared no efforts to excite such a rising. Early in 1745 a violent and cruel precaution against this danger was suggested. William Shirreff, provincial secretary, gave it as his opinion that the Acadians ought to be removed, being a standing menace to the colony.' This is the first proposal of such a nature that I find. Some months later, Shirley writes that, on a false report
1 Shirreff to K. Gould, agent of Philips's Regiment, March, 1745.
of the capture of Annapolis by the French, the Acadians sang Te Deum, and that every sign indicates that there will be an attempt in the spring to capture Annapolis, with their help. Again, Shirley informs Newcastle that the French will get possession of Acadia unless the most dangerous of the inhabitants are removed, and English settlers put in their place. He adds that there are not two hundred and twenty soldiers at Annapolis to defend the province against the whole body of Acadians and Indians, and he tells the minister that unless the expedition against Canada should end in the conquest of that country, the removal of some of the Acadians will be a necessity. He means those of Chignecto, who were kept in a threatening attitude by the presence of Ramesay and his Canadians, and who, as he thinks, had forfeited their lands by treasonable conduct. Shirley believes that families from New England might be induced to take their place, and that these, if settled under suitable regulations, would form a military frontier to the province of Nova Scotia “strong enough to keep the Canadians out,” and hold the Acadians to their allegiance. The Duke of Bedford thinks the plan a good one, but objects to the expense.4 Commodore Knowles, then governor of Louisbourg, who, being threatened with consumption and convinced that the climate was killing him, vented his feelings
1 Shirley to Newcastle, 14 December, 1745.
in strictures against everything and everybody, was of opinion that the Acadians, having broken their neutrality, ought to be expelled at once, and expresses the amiable hope that should his Majesty adopt this plan, he will charge him with executing it.
Shirley's energetic nature inclined him to trenchant measures, and he had nothing of modern humanitarianism; but he was not inhuman, and he shrank from the cruelty of forcing whole communities into exile. While Knowles and others called for wholesale expatriation, he still held that it was possible to turn the greater part of the Acadians into safe subjects of the British Crown;2 and to this end he advised the planting of a fortified town where Halifax now stands, and securing by forts and garrisons the neck of the Acadian peninsula, where the population was most numerous and most disaffected. The garrisons, he thought, would not only impose respect, but would furnish the Acadians with what they wanted most, — ready markets for their produce, - and thus bind them to the British by strong ties of interest. Newcastle thought the plan good, but wrote that its execution must be deferred to a future day. Three years later it was partly carried into effect by the foundation of Halifax; but at that time the disaffection of the Acadians had so increased, and the hope of regaining the province for France had risen so high, that this partial and tardy assertion of British authority only spurred the French agents to redoubled efforts to draw the inhabitants from the allegiance they had sworn to the Crown of England.
1 Knowles to Newcastle, 8 November, 1746.
2 Shirley says that the indiscriminate removal of the Acadians would be "unjust” and “too rigorous.” Knowles had proposed to put Catholic Jacobites from the Scotch Highlands into their place. Shirley thinks this inexpedient, but believes that Protestants from Germany and Ulster might safely be trusted. The best plan of all, in his opinion, is that of "treating the Acadians as subjects, confining their punishment to the most guilty and dangerous among 'em, and keeping the rest in the country and endeavoring to make them useful members of society under his Majesty's Government." Shirley to Newcastle, 21 November, 1746. If the Newcastle Govern. ment had vigorously carried his recommendations into effect, tho removal of the Acadians in 1755 would not have taken place.
VOL II. — 12
Shirley had also other plans in view for turning the Acadians into good British subjects. He proposed, as a measure of prime necessity, to exclude French priests from the province. The free exercise of their religion had been insured to the inhabitants by the Treaty of Utrecht, and on this point the English authorities had given no just cause of complaint. A priest had occasionally been warned, suspended, or removed; but without a single exception, so far as appears, this was in consequence of conduct which tended to excite disaffection, and which would have incurred equal or greater penalties in the case of a layman. The sentence was directed, not against
1 There was afterwards sharp correspondence between Shirley and the governor of Canada touching the Acadian priests. Thus, Shirley writes: "I can't avoid now, Sir, expressing great surprise at the other parts of your letter, whereby you take upon you to call Mr. Mascarene to account for expelling the missionary from Minas for being guilty of such treasonable practices within His