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History of Toronto and County of York in Ontario
Part I: Chapter IV. Acadia


THE strangely-freighted ship in which De Monts sailed with some three-score soldiers to subdue a continent, supported as he was by a company of thieves and murderers, in order to win the heathen to Christianity, held other strange and incongruous elements of discord. De Monts was a rigid Calvinist, but at the French court, even in the time of Henry the Fourth, nothing could be done without consulting the interest of Mother Church. De Monts had agreed that the converted Indian should belong to the ('atholic fold. But, for the welfare of his own soul and those of his fellow Protestants un board, Calvinist ministers also formed part of the ship's company. During the voyage, priests and ministers engaged in perpetual wrangling on theological points; from arguments they sometimes fell to blows; which, as Chainplain quaintly says, "was their way of settling controversy." Mr. Parkman quotes a story, given in Sagard's Histoire du Canada, to the effect that when they reached land, the dead bodies of a priest and a minister were laid in the same grave by the crew, who wished to see if even there they could lie peaceably together. At length the ship reached the southern coast of Nova Scotia. There they waited in a landlocked bay for the arrival of Pontgravé s store-ship. After a month, she brought their supplies, and De Monts passed on to the Bay of Fundy, and, sailing through its broad southern expanse, entered a small inlet to the north-east, which opened into a wide reach of calm water, surrounded by forest-mantled, undulating hills. This was the harbour of Annapolis. Poutrincourt foresaw the importance of this place as a site for a settlement, and obtained a grant of it from De Monts. He named it Port Royal.

hey then coasted along the tortuous windings of the bay, and, returning, discovered the St. John River and Passamaquoddy Bay. At the mouth of the River St. Croix they formed their first settlement. They built houses, workshops, and a magazine. Champlain tried to lay out a garden, but the soil was too sterile. Poutrincourt then set sail for France, in order to procure supplies for his new domain at Port Royal.

De Monts was left behind on the rocky and barren islet which represented his vice-royalty. The only civilized men in that vast region were the seventy-nine French exiles under his command. The brief summer had gone; soon autumn had passed as surely as summer. The perpetual, eddying snow now covered all things: the impenetrable wall of woodland, the marble-frozen stream, the pine-covered hills. The cold became intense, wine was frozen and served in solid lumps to the men. Scurvy broke out: they tried, but with no effect, to cure it by the decoction of spruce employed by Cartier. Thirty-five died before that dismal winter had ended. Disgusted with St. Croix, De Monts and his followers moved to Annapolis basin. Thither their vessels transferred the stores and furniture. A portion of the forest was soon cleared, and the dwellings of the colonists were built. De Monts had been warned by letters from France that his enemies in that country were busy undermining his good name in the fickle favour of the court, in order to deprive hirn of the valuable fur monopoly. He therefore sailed for France, Pontgrave taking his place at Port Royal. He was coldly looked upon at Paris. Something had been heard of the snow-clad wilderness, the impenetrable fogs, the famine, and the death-list of the previous winter. Not even a priest would undertake the Acadian mission vacant by the deaths of those who had gone there at the outset. But Poutrincourt's zeal secured several followers who were destined to afford him admirable aid. Of these was Lescarbot, a lawyer and a good writer, who has left a history of this ill-fated settlement. In July, 1606, they arrived at the clearing in the forest, and saw the wooden fort and buildings of Port Royal. They found there two Frenchmen only, and an Indian named Membertou. Anxious at the advance of summer, and fearing that De Monts might not return with supplies, the settlers had built two small barques and gone in quest of some friendly ships that might give help. A boat v as sent in quest of Poutrincourt, who joyfully returned. Their friends met them at the vessel with arquebuse discharges, shouts, and trumpetings; Membertou's Indian warriors, whose wigwam was at hand, crowded to the fort, where they were feasted, and Poutrincourt broached a cask of wine in the court-yard. Soon after this supplies were again procured on a more "liberal scale from France. The settlers took heart; Lescarbot made larger clearings in the forest, and sowed grain in the virgin soil. Near the fort gardens were laid out. The settlement seemed to prosper. The bill of fare at the dinner tables of Port Royal included trout, salmon, and sturgeon, speared through the river ice, and sea fish caught in the waters of the bay.

There was abundance of game: the venison of the moose and caribou, the hare, the otter, the bear, furnished a list of good things not known to Parisian epicures. The wintet of 1600 was a wild one. Abundance of food, a generous supply of good wine, of which the allowance to each man was three pints a day, warded off danger of scurvy. The firm rule of the noble Baron de Poutrincourt, and the buoyant energy of the not less noble Chainplain, had turned into Christian order the outcasts whom he had gathered from the French prisons. There being no priest, the good Lescarbot read the Bible to the assembled colonists every Sunday evening. The accounts given by this good man in his History of New France read bke an idyl. "On the fourteenth of January," he tells us, "on a Sunday afternoon, we amused ourselves with singing and music on the River Riqmlle, and in the same month we went to see the wheat-fields, two leagues from the fort, and merrily dined in the sunshine." All seemed bright with hope, but all depended on the favour of a monarch too easily influenced by fair women and courtly priests. As Lescarbot and his associates were at break fast, their faithful Indian chief, Membertou, came with news of a strange sail out of view of any vision but his own, although he had passed his hundredth year. The vessel bore news fatal to the colony. Their monopoly of the fur trade had been withdrawn by the king. De Monts and his associates had spent enormous sums on the colony; the king's breach of faith had ruined them. Lescarbot and Champlain sailed for France, and reached St. Malo in October, 1607.

But De Poutrincourt would not even then despair of his little republic. He obtained from King Henry IV. a new and more definite grant of the ownership of Port Royal; he sold property of his own ; and associated with himself several men of good means and reputation. Abundant supplies were obtained, and a ship's company of intending settlers awaited him at the port of Dieppe.

A Jesuit confessor, a profligate queen, and a virtuous but fanatical lady of rank, combined to induce King Henry IV. to consent to the Jesuits having religious charge of the new colony. Now, Poutrincourt, although a fervent Catholic, disliked the Spanish Order of Ignatius, and objected to priests who intermeddled, as the Jesuits were forever intermeddling, no doubt having religious ends in view, with everything secular. The authorities of the Order named Father Biard, Professor of Theology at Lyons, as Chaplain to Port Royal; but De Poutrincourt eluded the indignant Jesuit by a hasty departure for Acadia. He had with him a priest who was not a Jesuit. They both set hard to work, so as to gain such success in counting the Indians that King Henry might see no necessity for sending Jesuits to undertake the mission. Poutrincourt in this seems to have made a mistake for one that resulted in the ruin of his colony and himself, by forfeiting the magnificent reinforcement which that Republic of the Black Robe might have brought to his aid.

To the student of human nature there is a melancholy satisfaction in considering how this hater of Jesuitism sought to right the Jesuits with their own weapons, by pushing with indecent haste the solemn work of conversion, merely in order to send, for political purposes, a long baptismal list of his converts to the king. The centenarian chief, Membertou, was the first baptised; after renouncing "the Devil" whom he had served, and "all his works" which he had practised with conscientious thoroughness all the days of his life of a hundred years. His example was followed by the Indians of his village of four hundred braves. An epidemic of conversion set in. The water of the fort was supplemented by fire-water and good fare. One aged warrior, newly baptised, when about to die, asked, with anxiety which was evidently sincere, whether in heaven pies could be had as good as those he had eaten at Port Royal.

In a short time, Poutrincourt was able to send a baptismal list of portentous length to France. He despatched it by the hand of his son, a noble and gifted boy of eighteen named Biencourt. But Biencourt,. when he reached Newfoundland, heard news which might have taught him that his mission was useless. The king who had given peace, order and plenty to France, the Victor of Ivry, De Poutrincourt's friend, was dead. On May 14th, 1610, Henry the Fourth w as stabbed to the heart by one of those political pests of whose execrable breed our own age has not as yet rid itself.

Young Biencourt went to the Court and had an audience of the queen, the infamous Marie de Medicis. He found her altogether in the hands of the Jesuits. Two other ladies, then all-powerful in the Court, threw their influence into the same scale. Many other wealthy women were persuaded by their Jesuit confessors to raise an immense fund for the Acadian Mission. With this at their command, the wily Order of Jesus completely out-flanked their enemy, De Poutr;ncourt. He imagined himself secure in the possession of Port Royal, which had been deeded to him by the late king; a donation which, according to French law, could not be reversed. But the Jesuits obtained from the imbecile young king, Louis the Thirteenth, a grant of all Acadia, a term which, be it remembered, then included all Canada. They had, in their own words, hemmed in De Poutrincourt in his own narrow domain of Port Royal, as in a prison. And even in Port Royal they obtained a controlling voice, by purchasing, with money obtained from the ladies to whose profligacy they gave such easy absolution, a preponderating number of shares in the company which managed Port Royal, and of which Poutrincourt was but a single member. And, as if that was not enough, they contrived to involve the foolish noble who had set himself against their powerful Order in a mesh of lawsuits, and even to throw him into prison. He was released, however, and returned to Port Royal.

Young Biencourt could do nothing. He came back with the Jesuit Biard on board his ship. Their arrival was the signal for discord of all kinds, the death-knell of the prosperity which Poutrincourt had so fondly hoped, by his noble self-sacrifice, to retain. The son of Pontgrave' had outraged or seduced an Indian girl, and Poutrincourt was resolved to punish an act so liKely to cause ill-feeling between the Indians and the French. But the Jesuits sought out the youth, heard his confession, and gave their usual easy absolution. They insisted on protecting him. Poutrincourt, indignant at their interference, sailed for France.

Meanwhile, the colonists at Port Royal fell into a state of indigence and misery, aggravated by constant quarrels between young Biencourt, whom his fat-her had left in command, and the Jesuits Biard and Masse. The latter tried to live as a missionary in an Indian town. He failed; the filthy food, the filth, indescribable, of every kind; the incessant jabber of scolding women, the fleas, the smoke, were too much for the good man. He returned to Port Royal almost m a dying condition.

The old chief, Membertou, had now come to the end of his long career. The Jesuits tended him most kindly. Father Biard placed him in his own bed. He made a most edifying end; the only sign of relapse being a wish to be buried with his heathen forefathers, which however he allowed the Jesuits to overrule.

In the hour of utmost need a vessel came from France with supplies. It was sent by the fair penitents of the Jesuits, one of whose order, Father Du Thet, was on board. This chafed Biencourt more and more. Meanwhile, in Paris, De Poutrincourt being utterly powerless, the Jesuits and the frail court beauties—beauties of whose consciences they held the key— resolved to take possession of Acadia, and found a spiritual empire of Indian slaves bound body and soul to their sway, as they had already done with such unexampled success m Paraguay. Canada was to become a second Paraguay. A ship was freighted with all things needful for the establishment of a new settlement in Acadia, which should throw Port Royal into the. shade. All kinds of necessary and comfortable things were put on board: horses, goats, agricultural tools, barrels of wine. She set sail m an atmosphere of religious mense and courtly perfume. Her commander was a brave and pious noble, named Saussaye. Arrived at Port Royal, they found their Jesuit colleagues and the Port Royal followers of Biencourt in the most miserable condition, digging for roots and lifting on what fish might be caught in the river. Without calling for the Port Royal colonists, they took the Jesuits on board, and steered for the Penobscot. Wrapped in the fogs of that" dreary bay, they prayed earnestly for sunshine, and lo! the curtain of mist was swept away suddenly, and they could see the precipitous cliffs of Mount Desert, rising like a castle, defiant of the army of breakers that stormed so fiercely at its fore. With a fair wind they entered Frenchman's Bay, and came to anchor in a haven east of Mount Desert. They landed, and raised a cross, when, amid a throng of friendly Indians, mass was sung, and incense mingled with the odours of the summer woods. The mission was soon settled, with every prospect of thriving, when an English ship from the colony at Virginia, carrying thirteen guns, swooped down on the startled French. The land they had seized was a part of the dominions of Ilis Majesty of Britain. The thirteen guns opened fire on the feebly armed French vessel, winch made a brave resistance, led by the Jesuit Du Thet, who died on her deck, sword in hand. The English destroyed every vestige of a budding in St. Croix and Port Royal. Such was the ruin of Acadia ; the beginning of a struggle which was to end on the heights of Quebec.


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