Facts of Local History

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Facts of Local History
Prof. Hind
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FACTS OF LOCAL HISTORY. The Abbe Casgrain’s Charges Dissected AND REFUTED BY PROF. HIND. The Abbe Convicted of Gross Ignorance of Dates, Mixing Subjects, Mutilating Sentences and Suppressing Important Facts, "Which Completely Change the Face of Things." The meeting of the Nova Scotia Historical society last night to Upton to Prof. Hind's paper, was attended by Sir Adams Archibald, Bishop Courtney, Bishop Jones (of Newfoundland) Senator Power, Rev. Dr. Burns, Rev. Dr. Mawry. J. A. Bell, T. W. Casey, Rod. Macdonald, Dr. Dodge, W. B. Ross, Thos. Bayne, R. J. Wilson, Prof. C. F. Fraser, Judge Weatherbee, Judge Townshend, J. J. Stewart, Principal Forrest, Principal McKay, Wm. Dennis, Rev. Dr. Partridge, Rev. T. Watson Smith, Dr. Allison, Senator Almon, Hon. W. G. Frye, U. S. consul general; Augustus Allison, Hon. D. C. Fraser, Hon. C. K. Church, W. H. Harrington, T. C. James, N. C. James, Professor Lawson, F. B. Crofton, ex-Mayor Longworth (Truro), Hon. J. W. Longley, and a number of ladies. A. A. McKay, J. A. Chisholm, Professor Seth, Consul General Frye and Joseph Starr were proposed for membership. It is difficult to give an abstract of the paper which was read before the Historical society last night, partly on account of the variety of subjects introduced, but all intimately connected, and partly because the references to authorities embraced works only recently published in the French language in France and Quebec. The paper was divided into three parts; the first part briefly describing the great extent and numerous population of the double parish of Pisiquid, which comprehended the minor “parish of the Assumption,” with a church in Falmouth, and the minor “parish of the Holy Family,” with a church about a mile and a quarter from Windsor, and a chapel in the township of Newport The parish of Pisiquid was about 24 miles in length, and comprehended all the rivers flowing into the Pisiquid or the Avon from the river of the Assumption, or west branch of the Avon in Windsor township, to the Cheverie river in Kempt. There were settlements and villages on all the rivers between those points, but chiefly on the Falmouth side of the Avon, far up the west branch, and far up the Kennetcook in Newport. On the Windsor side of the Avon the villages extended from the St Croix to the Forks, or crossing place on the Avon. THE POPULATION OF THIS EXTENSIVE DOUBLE PARISH was 337 persons in 1714, 900 in 1731, 1628 in 1737, 2400 in 1746, and 2700 in 1749. A large emigration took place in 1746-7, but the deficiency was rapidly made up. An ecclesiastical census in 1748 gave 1800 communicants, and it appears from the numerous remains and records of villages, particularly in Falmouth and Newport, that this was not an overdrawn estimate. It would give a population of at least 2700 in 1749. The Newport record shows that villages were numerous on the Kennetcook and neighboring rivers. Judge Morris made a survey of this part of the coast about the year 1747 for Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts bay, but Morris states to Shirley that he did not know anything personally of the interior, and he has estimated the population of Pisiquid at that time as consisting of only 150 families or about 900 souls. But Morris shows that he spoke without information, for in his report to Shirley he says that the St. Croix rises within two miles of Chebucto basin, or Halifax harbor. The French priests in charge of the double parish of Pisiquid were Pere Isidore in 1714, Noel Alexandre Noiville in 1730, M. Monfies in 1782, M. Chauvreville in 1746, and M. l’Abbe Daudin in 1753. Noiville calls himself “Apostolic missionary and curate of the Assumption and or the Holy Family of Pigiguit.” The celebrated de Loutre states in his recently published letters that there was a road to Chebucto Basin (Halifax) in 1746, by which provision was not only sent to the French fleet, under Duo Dauville, but also “cattle, sheep and poultry” to be transported to Louisburg. But THE MOST STRIKING ILLUSTRATION OF THE PART PLAYED by the whole parish of Pisiquid in Acadian history is derived from the winter journey of Coulon de Villierr in 1747 from Beaubassin to Grand Pre when Noble was killed and so many of the New England troops surprised and slaughtered. This remarkable journey, Mr. Hind shows, was the turning point in the history of the Acadians, and he gave a very interesting sketch of the whole journey from Beaubassin to Grand Pre. The two points brought out in this condensed narrative were the assistance given by the Abbe Maillard at Cobequid (Truro) and the assistance rendered by the Acadian inhabitants of the great parish of Pisiquid. Coulon with 300 French Acadians and Indians, started from Beaubassin on the 19th Jan., 1747, reached Bay Verte on the 21st, then proceeded by the gulf coast to “Rimchuck” (Wallace), which they reached on the 26th, many having had their faces and feet frozen. On the 27th they got to Tatamagouche, on the 30th they met the missionary Maillard by appointment at the first village on the Cobequid (Truro) Portage and took the provisions he had caused to be collected for them. On the 2nd they reached the Shabenacadie, but could not cross on account of the ice and unusual cold. They marched up the northeast bank of the Shubenacadie until they came to a place where they could cross, some short distance below de Loutre’s mission. Mr. Hind here introduces A NEW FACT IN THE LIFE OF LE LOUTRE not previously published in English. LeLoutre, in the spring of the year, was taken prisoner on board the Gloire, by Admiral Anson. LeLoutre prayed Jonquiere to say he was his chaplain; this Jonquiere did,and under the name Rosanvern the audacious missionary LeLoutre was taken to England and imprisoned at Winchester. There, to his horror, when officiating as Rosanvern, he was recognized as LeLoutre by other prisoners and mockingly asked: "How his savages were in Acadia?" LeLoutre officiated no more in Winchester. He narrates this incident in his recently published letters, which ought to be translated for the benefit of English readers. Nova Scotians are particularly interested in the Missionary LeLoutre. Coulon arrived at LeLoutre’s mission on the Shubenacadie on the 5th of February. From this point the French-Canadian invaders took a direct course to the waters on the Kennetcook, and came within two leagues or about five miles from the first Acadian houses on this river on the 7th February, nearly out of provisions. Here were 300 men in the depth of winter on the upper waters of the Kennetoook, nearly out of provisions. But on the 8th they came to the settlement, where they found provisions, and with such little delay, that in spite of intense cold and fine snow they reached on the 9th the river of the Assumption (west branch of the Avon),only about 17 miles or seven French leagues from Grand Pre. At noon on the 10th they started again, and are supposed to have crossed the Falmouth mountain by the old French road, which brought them straight to the Acadian houses on the Gaspereau, about one mile and a half from Grand Pre. They stopped for an hour in the woods until nightfall before entering the houses. Then they made great fires and dried their arms and clothes. At 3 a. m. on the 11th they all assembled in 10 detachments in front of the house where M. Coulon was, and with their Acadian guides received from the chaplain a general absolution. Thence they proceeded swiftly on their way until stopped by the warning cry “WHO GOES THERE !” Here the lecturer paused, to bring before the historical society a matter of the highest importance in connection with the honor and credit of Nova Scotia and the record commission, stating that until this matter was cleared up, it was useless to talk of the history of this country as derived from Nova Scotia records, and until the widespread and damaging charges brought against the record commission, and the Nova Scotia historical society were disposed of. This subject formed the third part of Mr. Hind’s paper, and thoroughly did he show the utter baselessness of the charges brought by Abbe Casgrain. But he did much more than this, he portrayed in a striking manner the methods adopted by the Abbe, and he exhibited the ridiculous historical inaccuracies of this French Canadian historian, and vindicated in a most satisfactory manner the integrity of the record commission, the careful and painstaking character of Dr. Akin’s work, and he showed how the charges against the historical society of Nova Scotia dwindled into an accidental mixing of the pages of two wholly distinct papers written at different periods. This last part of Mr. Hind’s paper possesses an importance far beyond local interest; it is difficult to curtail it, for it embraces numerous quotations in French which are necessary in order to show what Abbe Casgrain thinks constitutes history, and his friend, M. Rameau, who quotes the Abbe largely, is not without great blame in accepting assertions so easily confuted as those of the Abbe Casgrain. If they had been published in English, this would doubtless have been done long since, but being all in French, they have escaped the notice of English readers. Francis Parkman is rather roughly handled by M. Rameau in his new work Une Colonie Feodale, but this gentleman will have cause to regret that he accepted his friend Abbe Casgrain’s denunciations with their ridiculous “proofs.” Both Sir Adams and Parkman will find in Mr. Hind’s paper the best vindication of the views so ably pressed by both of them of THE SAD INFLUENCE OF THE FRENCH MISSIONARIES on the helpless Acadians, and a crushing reply given to the taunt about their “weakness and vanities.” There is one point presented by Mr. Hind which requires to be brought out in strong relief in connexion with the aid offered by the priests and Acadians to the French Canadian invaders in 1747. This is the distressing fact now made known, that if the poor Acadians had been let alone during that dreadful winter of 1747, they would, without a shadow of doubt, have received by royal proclamation all they asked for. Mr. Hind gives an unpublished despatch from the Duke of Newcastle to Gov. Shirley of Massachusetts, dated the 30th May, 1747, just after the surprise and massacre at Grand Pre. This despatch narrates that the King of England was just about to sign a royal proclamation giving the Acadians all they asked for, when news arrived of the French invasion and the detention of the New England troops “advanced to Menis.” The proclamation was therefore deferred, and very much of the unhappy fate of those oppressed people must be laid to the charge of the French missionaries and their invading “brothers of Canada.” Below we give an extended summary of this portion of Mr. Hind's paper. These charges are repeated in a number of publications over the name of the Abbe Casgrain, and are promulgated in the proceedings and transactions of the Royal Society of Canada (1888), of which Dr. Lawson of Halifax was president, and Abbe Casgrain vice president, as well as in the abbe’s third edition of “Un Peierinage an Pays D’Evangeline, published in Paris (1889), a work honored with unusual distinction by the French academy. Thus these serious charges are made under the sanction of the highest literary, historical and scientific societies of Canada and France, The exceptional conditions under which the charges are promulgated give to them unusual import and influence. They concern the record of very important details in the history of Nova Scotia during a critical period, which was big with the fate of half a continent; and so powerful hare been the stated effects of the alleged discoveries of the Abbe Casgrain, from the standpoint he has adopted, and the methods he has introduced in displaying this effect, that to use his own words, "THEY HAVE COMPLETELY CHANGED THE FACE OF THINGS." M. Rameau in the second volume of Une Colonie Feodale, just published, quotes Casgrain's “discoveries” to “show the weakness and vanity of the justifications (for the expulsion of the Acadians) undertaken by Messrs. Archibald and Parkman.” To longer ignore these charges would show tacit acquiesence in their truthfulness. Further silence would imply a spiritless indifference to the heroic struggles of our forefathers, coupled with callous disregard of the well-earned reputation of one of our most patriotic public officers and historians. If these charges are not satisfactorily disposed of, who would place reliance on documents rotting under condemnation so gross and damaging as that officially presented to American and European historians in the formal and pronounced manner adopted by the Abbe Casgrain. Professor Hind proceeded to dissect the abbe’s charges. REGARDING THE CHARGE AGAINST THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Professor Hind showed that by some mischance the last page of the copy of Judge Morris’ paper on the Causes of the war in 1755, and the history of the Acadians, had been mixed with the copy of another paper entitled, Mr. Morris’ remarks concerning the removal of the French inhabitants. This intermingling of the sheets of two different papers treating on two different subjects is clearly the result of accident or inadvertency; and produced such nonsense that any one reading the article in the Historical society’s collection could scarcely fail to detect a mistake or misprint. If the Abbe Casgrain will peruse the rendering he himself has given of Morris’ paper (page 133, vol. I., Le Canada Francais, and on page 66, Transactions Royal Society of Canada) he will find the passage unintelligible at the same place where the introduced page is found in the N. S. society’s selections. The words are as follows: The other passages by water must be into Cobequid basin to the River Cheganois, a plain beaten road to the inhabitants on one of the rivers, of Tatamagouche, etc. This is nonsense, and while it remains for the abbe to explain the text he has presented to the Royal society, no one will think of imputing to him intentional mutilation of the same passage which forms the basis of his charge against the historical society of Nova Scotia. But thanks are due to the abbe for publishing Morris’ paper from the Brown collection. THE IMPORTANT HISTORICAL FACT IS THEREBY MADE KNOWN that in 1746 French officers cuts road, forty miles in length, through the woods in British territory, and thus effected easy means of communication between French Beaubassin and English Tatamagouche. Regarding the charges against Dr. Akins, Professor Hind said Abbe Casgrain flounders midst illusions far more entangling and recoiling than his outburst against the historical society. The professor proceeded to analyze the methods pursued by the abbe in transcribing quotations and drawing conclusions from the written words of others as reproduced by himself, as well as into their historical accuracy. In March, 1774, war was declared between England and France. The announcement was made in Boston on the 2nd June. According to Casgrain: L'Abbe LeLoutre and other missionaries were alarmed at the perils to which the Acadians were subjected on account of the attempts made to pervert them; and in consequence LeLoutre joined with his savages the expedition of DuVillier. That the missionaries had reason to be alarmed we shall now see. The same year (1744) Shirley, governor of Massachusetts, proposed to drive away a number of Acadians from their lands, and to give them to English colonists, in order to mingle Protestants with the population; and further to grant the Judas penny to any Acadian who would renounce the Catholic faith, and rewards to those who would send their children to English schools. THE ABBE CASGRAIN HAS MADE A MOST UNHAPPY MISTAKE IN DATES, which, when pointed out, disposes of his conclusions and shatters his invectives, and must compel an amende honorable from the abbe. Governor Shirley did not make this proposal, or any like it, in 1744, so that it could not have influenced LeLoutre or the other missionaries. Shirley’s letter was written February 18th, 1748, nearly four years after the appearance of LeLoutre’s savages before Annapolis in July, 1744, and fully a year after the missionary Maillard had met De Villiers at Copequit (Truro), January 30th, 1747, and provided him with provisions for his journey with 300 French Canadians and Indians through Pisiquid to Grand Pre, where Col. Noble and seventy others were killed 11th February, 1747. The Abbe Maillard was in charge of Le Loutre’s Mic-Macs in 1747, and Le Loutre himself was at Morlaix, France, in March, and in prison in Winchester, England, in July of the same year under the assumed name of Rosanvern. Professor Hind quoted at length from Shirley’s genuine letter, which he produced and submitted for examination, and said it was distressing to follow Casgrain in the conclusions he drew from this letter of Shirley, supposed by him to have been written before, instead of after, the incessant French attacks in Nova Scotia four successive years.