A New Story of Evangeline

Article Title
A New Story of Evangeline
Page Number
1, 2
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Article Contents
A NEW STORY OF EVANGELINE. A correspondent of the New York Evening Post, who has been visiting the Acadian settlements in Louisiana, has been shown, at a place called St Martinsville, the grave of Evangeline, and has heard there the story of her life as handed down by tradition, among the descendants of the exiled Acadians. According to this correspondent the story of Emmeline Labiche and her false lover, Louis Arceneax, was kept alive and handed down until Longfellow put it into "living verse." Longfellow makes a mistake in giving to her lover, so the story goes, the name Gabriel. His name was Louis Arceneax, and he and his 16-year-old sweetheart lived in the village of St. Gabriel, in the province of Acadia. This "historical inaccuracy" may be attributed to poetic license. She was the belle of the village and he the handsomest man (in her eyes). The banns of the marriage had been proclaimed at the church. But the usual slip occurred. The British troops drove the Acadians from the country, as rebels. Louis was wounded, put on a vessel, and shipped to the inhospitable shores of Maryland. His fiancé witnessed his struggle. He drifted down to Louisiana, through the aid of the Tennesse and the Mississippi, and thence up the little Bayou Teche to the Poste de Atta- kops, as far from civilization as he could get. The Acadians naturally sought the French settlements in Louisiana, in order to he among their own people. In the next band of exiles was Emmeline Labiche, the orphaned girl, betrothed to Arceneax. She was accompanied by, or under the charge of, Mrs. Bordat, an Acadian exile, who comforted Emmeline in her search for her lost lover, and gave to her the sweeter name of Evangeline—"little angel." Mrs. Bordat handed down the story to her children and grandchildren, to the effect that on the death of Emmeline’s parents she took her to her house "as one of her own children." The aged Acadian lady related in words more poetic than poetry the accidental meeting of Evangeline and Arceneax under the huge live-oak tree and her sorrowful fate. "Mother, mother, it is he; It is Louis!" These were the joyous words of Evangeline as she "pointed to the tall figure of a man reclining beneath a large oak in the church-yard." The man did not notice her, and when she cried, "I am your Emmeline; have you forgotten me?" he hung his head, and merely replied: "I can love you no longer; I have pledged my faith to another. Tear from your heart the remembrance of the past, and forgive me!" So saying, he walked away, leaving Emmeline crying by the side of her foster mother. Emmeline became insane and soon afterwards died. This story is related with such detail as to names and places that it becomes subject to an exact criticism, founded on names and places. Colonel Winslow, the officer who was in command of the forces which deported the Acadians in 1756, in his diary gives a list of the French families who lived on the Basin of Minas about Grand Pre, and of the villages in which they resided. This list deals with 2,743 persons, but there is no person named Labiche in it, neither is there anyone named Arceneaux or anyone named Bordat There is no village named St Gabriel in the list. The name Labiche does not appear to have ever existed in Acadia, but there were persons named Arsenault residing at Port Royal in 1686. The name does not appear in any subsequent census of Acadia. These facts would seem to cast doubt on the truthfulness of the tradition in regard to Evangeline.