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the priest, but against the political agitator. Shirley's plan of excluding French priests from the province would not have violated the provisions of the treaty, provided that the inhabitants were supplied with other priests, not French subjects, and therefore not politically dangerous; but though such a measure was several times proposed by the provincial authorities, the exasperating apathy of the Newcastle Government gave no hope that it could be accomplished.
The influences most dangerous to British rule did not proceed from love of France or sympathy of race, but from the power of religion over a simple and ignorant people, trained in profound love and awe of their Church and its ministers, who were used by the representatives of Louis XV. as agents to alienate the Acadians from England.
The most strenuous of these clerical agitators was Abbé Le Loutre, missionary to the Micmacs, and after 1753 vicar-general of Acadia. He was a fiery and enterprising zealot, inclined by temperament to methods of violence, detesting the English, and restrained neither by pity nor scruple from using threats of damnation and the Micmac tomahawk to
Majesty's government as merited a much severer Punishment.” Shirley à Galissonière, 9 Mai, 1749.
Shirley writes to Newcastle that the Acadians “are greatly under the influence of their priests, who continually receive their directions from the Bishop of Quebec, and are the instruments by which the governor of Canada makes all his attempts for the reduction of the province to the French Crown.” Shirley to Newcastle, 20 October, 1747. He proceeds to give facts in proof of his assertion Compare “Montcalm and Wolfe,” i. 110, 111, 275, note.
frighten the Acadians into doing his bidding. The worst charge against him, that of exciting the Indians of his mission to murder Captain Howe, an English officer, has not been proved; but it would not have been brought against him by his own countrymen if his character and past conduct had gained him their esteem.
The other Acadian priests were far from sharing Le Loutre's violence; but their influence was always directed to alienating the inhabitants from their allegiance to King George. Hence Shirley regarded the conversion of the Acadians to Protestantism as a political measure of the first importance, and pro.. posed the establishment of schools in the province to that end. Thus far his recommendations are perfectly legitimate; but when he adds that rewards ought to be given to Acadians who renounce their faith, few will venture to defend him.
Newcastle would trouble himself with none of his schemes, and Acadia was left to drift with the tide, as before. “I shall finish my troubleing your Grace upon the affairs of Nova Scotia with this letter," writes the persevering Shirley. And he proceeds to ask, “as a proper Scheme for better securing the Subjection of the French inhabitants and Indians there,” that the governor and Council at Annapolis have special authority and direction from the King to arrest and examine such Acadians as shall be “most obnoxious and dangerous to his Majesty's Government;” and if found guilty of treasonable
correspondence with the enemy, to dispose of them and their estates in such manner as his Majesty shall order, at the same time promising indemnity to the rest for past offences, upon their taking or renewing the oath of allegiance.1
To this it does not appear that Newcastle made any answer except to direct Shirley, eight or nine months later, to tell the Acadians that, so long as they were peaceable subjects, they should be protected in property and religion. Thus left to struggle unaided with a most difficult problem, entirely outside of his functions as governor of Massachusetts, Shirley did what he could. The most pressing danger, as he thought, rose from the presence of Ramesay and his Canadians at Chignecto; for that officer spared no pains to induce the Acadians to join him in another attempt against Annapolis, telling them that if they did not drive out the English, the English would drive them out. He was now at Mines, trying to raise the inhabitants in arms for France. Shirley thought it necessary to counteract him, and force him and his Canadians back to the isthmus whence they had come; but as the ministry would give no soldiers, he was compelled to draw them from New England. The defence of Acadia was the business of the home government, and not of the colonies; but as they were deeply interested in the preservation of the endangered province, Massachusetts gave five hundred men in response to Shirley's call, and Rhode Island and New Hampshire added, between them, as many more. Less than half of these levies reached Acadia. It was the stormy season. The Rhode Island vessels were wrecked near Martha's Vineyard. A New Hampshire transport sloop was intercepted by a French armed vessel, and ran back to Portsmouth. Four hundred and seventy men from Massachusetts, under Colonel Arthur Noble, were all who reached Annapolis, whence they sailed for Mines, accompanied by a few soldiers of the garrison. Storms, drifting ice, and the furious tides of the Bay of Fundy made their progress so difficult and uncertain that Noble resolved to finish the journey by land; and on the fourth of December he disembarked near the place now called French Cross, at the foot of the North Mountain, — a lofty barrier of rock and forest extending along the southern shore of the Bay of Fundy. Without a path and without guides, the party climbed the snow-encumbered heights and toiled towards their destination, each man carrying provisions for fourteen days in his haversack. After sleeping eight nights without shelter among the snowdrifts, they reached the Acadian village of Grand Pré, the chief settlement of the district of Mines. Ramesay and his Canadians were gone. On learning the approach
1 Shirley to Newcastle, 15 August, 1746.
Newcastle to Shirley, 30 May, 1747. Shirley had some time before directed Mascarene to tell the Acadians that while they behave peaceably and do not correspond with the enemy, their property will be safe, but that such as turn traitors will be treated accordingly. Shirley to Mascarene, 16 September, 1746.
of an English force, he had tried to persuade the Acadians that they were to be driven from their homes, and that their only hope was in joining with him to meet force by force; but they trusted Shirley's recent assurance of protection, and replied that they would not break their oath of fidelity to King George. On this, Ramesay retreated to his old station at Chignecto, and Noble and his men occupied Grand Pré without opposition.
The village consisted of small, low wooden houses, scattered at intervals for the distance of a mile and a half, and therefore ill fitted for defence. The English had the frame of a blockhouse, or, as some say, of two blockhouses, ready to be set up on their arrival; but as the ground was bard frozen, it was difficult to make a foundation, and the frames were therefore stored in outbuildings of the village, with the intention of raising them in the spring. The vessels which had brought them, together with stores, ammunition, five small cannon, and a good supply of snow-shoes, had just arrived at the landing-place, - and here, with incredible fatuity, were allowed to remain, with most of their indispensable contents still on board. The men, meanwhile, were quartered in the Acadian houses.
Noble's position was critical, but he was assured that he could not be reached from Chignecto in such a bitter season; and this he was too ready to believe, though he himself had just made a march, which, if not so long, was quite as arduous. Yet he did not