OVER THE BORDER
THE HOME OF "EVANGELINE"
BY Eliza Chase
"Here lies the East...does not the day break here?"
JULIUS CAESAR, II
THE BAY OF FUNDY
THE BASIN OF MINAS
L'ISLE DES MONTS DESERTS
1604. De Monts' first landing on Eastern coast. (May 16)
1604. De Monts and suite arrive at Port Royal. (about June 1)
1606. De Monts returns from France with supplies for his colony.
1606. Port Royal abandoned.
1610. Return of De Poutrincourt.
1612. Jesuit priests sent oat from France. (Founding of St. Sauveur colony at Mt Desert)
1613. Destruction of Port Royal by Argall. (after breaking up settlement at Mt. Desert)
1628. Scotch colony broken up at Port Royal.
1634. Port Royal held by French under De Razilly.
1647. Feud between La Tour and D'Aulnay.
1654. Port Royal under Le Borgne yields to English.
1684. Incursions of pirates.
1690. Sir Wm. Phipps captures and pillages Port Royal.
1691. Port Royal held by French under De Villebon.
1707. Unsuccessfully besieged.
1710. Bombarded by seven English ships; the fort yields, name changed to Annapolis Royal.
1713. Treaty of Utrecht, ceding Acadia to the English.
1727,1728. Oath of allegiance exempting French Acadians from taking arms against France.
1744. Port Royal bombarded and besieged three months.
1745. De Ramezay's unsuccessful attack.
1755. Forts Beau-Sjour and Gaspereau taken by Moncton.
1755. Dispersion of the "Neutrals".
1763. Return of exiles, and founding of coast settlements. Treaty between France and England
1781. Annapolis Royal surprised and taken by two war ships.
1850. Last occupation (by military force) of old fort at Annapolis.
In the rooms of the Historical Society, in Boston, hangs a portrait of a distinguished looking person in quaint but handsome costume of antique style. The gold embroidered coat, long vest with large and numerous buttons, elegant cocked hat under the arm, voluminous white scarf and powdered peruke, combine to form picturesque attire which is most becoming to the gentleman therein depicted, and attract attention to the genial countenance, causing the visitor to wonder who this can be, so elaborately presented to the gaze.
A physiognomist would not decide upon such representation as a "counterfeit presentment" of the tyrannical leader of the expedition which enforced the cruel edict of exile,—
"In the Acadian land, on the shores of the Basin of Minas; where Distant, secluded, still, the little village of Grand Pr Lay in the fruitful valley."
Yet this is Lieutenant-Colonel John Winslow, great-grandson of one of the founders of the Plymouth Settlement. Could he forget that his ancestors fled from persecution, and came to this country to find peaceful homes?
It was not his place to make reply, or reason why when receiving orders, however; and it seems that the task imposed was a distasteful one; as, at the time of the banishment, he earnestly expressed the desire "to be rid of the worst piece of service" he "ever was in."
He said also of the unhappy people at that time, "It hurts me to hear their weeping and wailing." So we conclude that the pleasant face did not belie the heart which it mirrored.
It is a singular coincidence that, for being hostile to their country at the time of the Revolution, his own family were driven into exile twenty years after the deportation of the unhappy French people.
Have not even the most prosaic among us some love of poesy, though unacknowledged? And who, in romantic youth or sober age, has not been touched by the tragic story of the dispersion of the people who
"dwelt together in love, those simple Acadian farmers,— Dwelt in the love of God and of man. Alike were they free from Fear, that reigns with the tyrant, and envy, the vice of republics. Neither locks had they to their doors, nor bars to their windows, But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts of their owners; There the richest was poor, and the poorest lived in abundance."
Of the name Acadia, Principal Dawson says in "Canadian Antiquities—, that "it signifies primarily a place or region, and, in combination with other words, a place of plenty or abundance; ..." a name most applicable to a region which is richer in the 'chief things of the ancient mountains, the precious things of the lasting hills, and the precious things of the earth and of the deep that coucheth beneath', than any other portion of America of similar dimensions."
We naturally infer that the name is French; but our researches prove that it was originally the Indian Aquoddie, a pollock,—not a poetic or romantic significance. This was corrupted by the French into Accadie, L'Acadie, Cadie.
So little originality in nomenclature is shown in America, that we could desire that Indian names should be retained; that is, when not too long, or harsh in sound; yet in this case we are inclined to rejoice at the change from the aboriginal to the more musical modern title.
Though a vast extent of territory was once embraced under that name, it is now merely a rather fanciful title for a small part of the Province of Nova Scotia.
Acadia! The Bay of Fundy! There's magic even in the names; the very sound of them calling up visions of romance, and causing anticipations of amazing displays of Nature's wonders. Fundy! The marvel of our childhood, filling the mind's eye in those early school days with that astounding picture,—a glittering wall of green crystal, anywhere from ten to one hundred feet in height, advancing on the land like the march of a mighty phalanx, as if to overwhelm and carry all before it! Had it not been our dream for years to go there, and prove to our everlasting satisfaction whether childish credulity had been imposed upon?
Our proposed tourists, eight in number, being a company with a leaning towards music, bound to be harmonious, desiring to study the Diet-tome as illustrated by the effects of country fare and air, consolidate under the title of the Octave. The chaperone, who we all know is a dear, is naturally called "Do"(e); one, being under age, is dubbed the Minor Third; while the exclamatory, irrepressible, and inexhaustible members from the Hub are known as "La" and "Si."
Having decided upon our objective point, the next thing is to find out how to reach it; and here, at the outset, we are surprised at the comparative ignorance shown regarding a region which, though seemingly distant, is in reality so accessible. We are soon inclined to quote from an old song,—
"Thou art so near and yet so far,"
as our blundering investigations seem more likely to prove how not to get anywhere!
But we set to work to accumulate railroad literature in the shape of maps, schedules, excursion books; and these friendly little pamphlets prove delightful pathfinders, convincing us how readily all tastes can be suited; as some wish to go by water, some by land, and some by "a little of both." Thus, those who are on good terms with old Neptune may take a pleasant voyage of twenty-six hours direct from Boston to the distant village of Annapolis, Nova Scotia, which is our prospective abiding place; while those who prefer can have "all rail route," or, if more variety is desired, may go by land to St. John, New Brunswick, and thence by steamboat across the Bay of Fundy. At last the company departs on its several ways, and in sections, that the dwellers in that remote old town of historic interest may not be struck breathless by such an invasion of foreigners.
The prime mover of the expedition, having already traveled as far east as Bangor, commences the journey at night from that city. Strange to say, no jar or unusual sensation is experienced when the iron horse passes the boundary; nor is anything novel seen when the train known as the "Flying Yankee" halts for a brief breathing spell at MacAdam Station. A drowsy voice volunteers the information: "It is a forsaken region here." Another of our travelers replies, "Appearances certainly indicate that the Colossus of Roads is absent, and it is to be hoped that he is mending his ways elsewhere." Then the speakers, tipping their reclining chairs to a more recumbent posture, drift off to the Land of Nod.
With morning comes examination of travelers' possessions at the custom house, with amusing exhibitions of peculiarly packed boxes and bags, recalling funny episodes of foreign tours, while giving to this one a novel character; then the train speeds on for seven hours more.
THE BAY OF FUNDY.
Ere long singular evidence of proximity to the wonderful tides of the Bay of Fundy is seen, as all the streams show sloping banks, stupendously muddy; mud reddish brown in color, smooth and oily looking, gashed with seams, and with a lazily moving rivulet in the bed of the stream from whence the retreating tide has sucked away the volume of water.
"What a Paradise for bare-footed boys, and children with a predilection for mud pies!" exclaims one of the tourists; while the other—the practical, prosaic—remarks, "It looks like the chocolate frosting of your cakes!" for which speech a shriveling look is received.
This great arm of the sea, reaching up so far into the land, and which tried to convert Nova Scotia into an island (as man proposes to make it, by channeling the isthmus), was known to early explorers as La Baie Franoise, its present cognomen being a corruption of the French, Fond-de-la Baie.
Being long, narrow, and running into the land like a tunnel, the tide rises higher and higher as it ascends into the upper and narrowest parts; thus in the eastern arm, the Basin of Minas, the tidal swell rises forty feet, sometimes fifty or more in spring.
In Chignecto Bay, which extends in a more northerly direction from the greater bay, the rise has been known to reach seventy feet in spring, though it is usually between fifty and sixty at other times. Here, in the estuary of the Petitcodiac, where the river meets the wave of the tide, the volumes contending cause the Great Bore, as it is called; and as in this region the swine wade out into the mud in search of shell fish, they are sometimes swept away and drowned. The Amazon River also has its Bore; the Indians, trying to imitate the sound of the roaring water, call it "pororoca."
In the Hoogly it is shown; and in a river of China, the Teintang, it advances up the stream at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour, causing a rise of thirty feet. In some northern countries the Bore is called the Eagre. Octavia says this must be because it screws its way so eagerly into the land, but is immediately suppressed, and informed that the name is a corruption of Oegir, the Scandinavian god of the sea, of whom we learn as follows:—
Odin, the father of the gods, creator of the world, possessing greatest power and wisdom, holds the position in Scandinavian mythology that Zeus does in the Greek. Like the Olympian Jupiter, he held the thunder bolts in his hand; but differed from the more inert divinity of Greece in that, arrayed in robes of cloud, he rode through the universe on his marvelous steed, which had eight feet. This idea was characteristic of a hardy race living a wild outdoor life in a rigorous climate. Oegir, the god of the sea, was a jotun, but friendly to Odin. The jotuns were giants, and generally exerted their powers to the injury of man, but, not being gifted with full intelligence, could be conquered by men. The first jotun, named Ymer, Odin subdued, and of his flesh formed the earth, of his bones the mountains; the ocean was his blood, his brains the clouds, while from his skull the arch of the heavens was made.
We resolved to witness the singular spectacle of the Oegir of Fundy; but, not receiving answer to our application for accommodations at Moncton, proceeded on our way, consoling ourselves with the thought that we could see a bore any day, without taking any special pains or going much out of our way.
The Basin of Minas! What a "flood of thoughts" rise at the name. Fancy paints dreamy and fascinating pictures of the fruitful and verdant meadow land, the hills, the woods, the simple hearted, childlike peasants; upright, faithful, devout, leading blameless lives of placid serenity:
"At peace with God and the world."
It seemed that there must be some means of crossing the beauteous Basin whence the broken hearted exiles sailed away so sadly; and that any tourist with a particle of romance or sentiment in his composition would gladly make even a wide detour to visit it. Therefore we were surprised to learn that railroad schedules said nothing of this route, and that it seemed almost unknown to summer pleasure seekers. Not to be deterred, however, what better can one do than write direct for information to Parrsboro,—a pretty village, which is the nearest point to the Basin. Thus we learn that a short railway, connecting with the Intercolonial, will convey us thither, though not a road intended for passenger service.
"It will only add to the novelty and interest of our tour," we say. We rather hope it will prove a very peculiar road, and are prepared for discomfort which we do not find; although, at Spring Hill, the point of divergence from the main line, such a queer train is waiting, that one exclaims, "Surely we have come into the backwoods at last!"
The car is divided in the middle, the forward part devoted to baggage, while in the rear portion, on extremely low backed and cushion less seats, beside tiny, shade less windows, sit the passengers. And such passengers! We mentally ejaculate something about "Cruikshank's caricatures come to life." With much preliminary clanking of chains, a most dolorous groaning and creaking of the strange vehicle, a shudder and jar, the train is in motion, and slowly proceeding through densely wooded and wild country,—a coal and lumber district, where only an occasional log house relieves the monotony of the scene,—log huts which look as if they have strayed away from the far South and dropped down in this wilderness. At intervals, with a convulsive jerk which brings to their feet some new travelers on this peculiar line, the train halts to take on lumber; and one of our tourists remarks, "This old thing starts like an earthquake, and stops as if colliding with a stone wall;" and continues: "Do you think the poet who longed for 'a lodge in some vast wilderness', would have been satisfied with this?" Without waiting for a reply, the next remark is: "We are looking for summer accommodations; don't you think we could find board cheap here?" The prosaic one, ignoring such an attempt at pleasantry, replies, "Five dollars per thousand feet, I have been told."
When the conductor, in a huge straw hat and rough suit, sans collar or cravat, comes to collect tickets, the satirical one asks, "Will he punch them with his penknife, or clip them with a pair of old scissors?"
"Heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay, That was built in such a logical way It ran a hundred years to a day,"
and conclude that the S. H. & P. R. R. resembles it somewhat; and that, although there is a "general flavor of mild decay" about it in some respects, it will not be in danger of wearing out from high rate of speed; but who cares about time when on a holiday?
At last, in the distance, a range of blue hills becomes visible, with a faint, far gleam of water; and, as the blue line abruptly descends to the glistening streak below, we know in an instant what that promontory must be, and ecstatically quote with one voice,—
"Away to the northward Blomidon rose,"
regardless of geography, as that Cape happens, in this case, to be south of us.
Having received information by mail that "hosses and carages" are to be found at Parrsboro, and that the sailing of the steamer is "rooled by the tide," eager looks are cast about on alighting at that charming village, the natives of which, to our surprise, are not backwoodsmen or rough countrymen. Mine host, genial and gentlemanly, becomes visible; and we are soon bowling merrily along through the neat village, the picturesque country beyond, and are set down at a refreshingly old-timey inn directly on the shore of the Basin of Minas, which bursts suddenly upon the view, amazing one by its extent and beauty. We exclaim in surprise, "Why, it looked no larger than one's thumb nail on the map!"
THE BASIN OF MINAS
A curving beach with rolling surf, a long and very high pier, showing the great rise of the tide,—at this point sixty feet in the spring,— and directly before one the peculiarly striking promontory of Blomidon, with the red sandstone showing through the dark pines clothing his sides, and at his feet a powerful "rip" tossing the water into chopped seas; a current so strong that a six-knot breeze is necessary to carry a vessel through the passage which here opens into the Bay of Fundy.
This is the place where schedules said nothing of a boat to convey the tourist across the inland sea—of thirty miles' width—to the railroad on its south shore,—the line which bears on its rolling stock the ominous initials W. A. R, but passes through the most peaceful country nevertheless. Yet our genial host's assurances that such a vessel will come are not to be doubted; and, after a dainty repast, a group sits on the pier, watching ghostly ships and smaller craft emerge from and vanish into the mist. As the mists disperse and the moon comes out clearly, it reveals the "Hiawatha" approaching,—a graceful propeller of five hundred tons burden, and one hundred and some odd feet in length.
Partridge Island, which is close at hand, commands exceptionally fine views, as Blomidon does also; the famous Capes d'Or and Chignecto, seven hundred and thirty to eight hundred feet high, with Advocate Harbor, are within pleasant driving distance. There are twenty varieties of minerals on Blomidon; as many more, with jaw-testing names, on Partridge Island "and thereabout"; so in this locality a geologist would become quite ecstatic. Some of the finest marine scenery of the Provinces, as well as lovely inland views and the noted and singular Five Islands, can be seen within a radius of twenty miles.
"No country is of much interest until legends and poetry have draped it in hues that mere nature cannot produce," says a pleasant modern writer.
Geologists believe that the range of hills known as the North Mountain was once a long narrow island, and that a shoal gradually formed near Blomidon, in time filling in until that headland became part of the mainland.
This striking cape, five hundred and seventy feet high, one would naturally expect to find associated with strange wild myths of the aborigines; and
"Ye who love a nation's legends, That like voices from afar off Call to us to pause and listen,"
It seems that this was the favorite resort of Glooscap, the Indian giant, who, like "Kwasind the Strong Man," in "Hiawatha," entered into a fierce combat here with the Great Beaver (Ahmeek, King of the Beavers, is spoken of in that same poem), and contended with the gigantic creature in similar manner, throwing huge masses of rock, which, falling in the water, became, in this case, the Five Islands. The Indian legend says that at this point a stupendous dam was built by the Great Beaver; and because this was flooding the Cornwallis valley, Glooscap, whose supernatural power was unlimited, broke and bent it into its present shape, forming Cape Blomidon, afterwards strewing the promontory with gems, some of which he carried away to adorn "his mysterious female companion." Here also he held a wonderful feast with another giant; and, ordinary fish not sufficing to satisfy their enormous appetites, the two embarked in a stone canoe, sailed out into the Great Lake of Uniras, as they called the Basin, and there speared a whale, which they brought to the shore and devoured at short notice. The approach of the white man causing the Indian giant to desert his old haunts, he sailed out on the great water and vanished from sight; but some day, when men and animals live together in peace and friendship, he will return and resume his royal sway on the Basin of Minas. Before his departure he gave a farewell feast to all the animals, who swarmed from all over the country, turned his dogs into stone, and left his kettle overturned in the shape of an island near Cape Spencer, across Minas Channel. Since that time the loons, who were his hunters, wander sadly about the wildest lakes and rivers, searching for their master, uttering their dolorous cries; and the owls keep up their part of the lament, crying "Koo koo skoos," which, being Indian language, they evidently learned from the giant, and, being interpreted, signified "I am sorry."
The crown of France is adorned with a fine amethyst from Blomidon; and those early explorers, De Monts and Co., "found in the neighborhood" (of Parrsboro) "crystals and blue stones of a shining colour, similar in appearance to those known by the name of Turkeese." One of the company, "having found a beautiful specimen of this kind, broke it into two pieces, and gave one to De Monts, and the other to Poutrincourt, who, on their return to Paris, had them handsomely set by a jeweler, and presented them to the King and Queen."
At the base of Cape d'Or there is a very powerful current with great maelstroms; this is known as the Styx, and through these terrible whirlpools two fishermen were carried this season (1883), one losing his life; while the other, an expert swimmer and athlete, was saved by less than a hair's breadth, and afterwards described most thrillingly his sensations on being drawn into and ejected from the frightful vortices.
Just at daybreak, when Blomidon looks out all glowing from the gauzy veil of mist, as the lazy zephyr wafts it aside, and the placid water repeats the glorious tints of radiant clouds, we regretfully take our departure. Cape Sharp and Cape Split, bold promontories which stand like mighty sentinels guarding the entrance to the Bay of Fundy, appear in clearest azure and violet; while the mountains of the north shore are sharply defined in pure indigo against the brilliant sky, as the propeller steams away. The sail across, two hours and a half in length, is a vision of ideal and poetic beauty, all too brief; and as we step ashore we feel tempted to quote, "Take, oh boatman, thrice thy fee!"
At this point (Hantsport) we take the W. and A. R. R, and in a few hours are set down at the place which we have been so long planning to reach; the place of which our host, who is probably not familiar with the history of St. Augustine, Florida, wrote proudly as "the oldest town in North America."
It certainly is one of the oldest settlements in North America, having been founded in 1604, and, until 1750, it was the capital of the whole peninsula of Nova Scotia: Annapolis,—the old Port Royal, the historical town which has been the scene of so many struggles and bitter contentions; but is now the very picture of peace and utterly restful quiet.
Here the Eight settle down for a long sojourn; basking in the delicious atmosphere, devoting themselves to searching out the most picturesque views, in a series of rambles, drives, and excursions, and visiting all points for miles around, to which history and romance have added charms almost as great as those of river and mountain which they always possessed.
Those of our party who hail from the city of Brotherly Love naturally feel a special interest in Acadia and the sad story of Longfellow's heroine; as a patent for the principality of Acadia, which included the whole American coast from Philadelphia to Montreal, was given by the "impulsive and warmhearted monarch," Henry IV. of France, to Pierre du Guast, the Sieur de Monts, constituting him governor of that country, and giving him the trade and revenues of the region.
Consequently some of the ancestors of our Philadelphia friends were Acadians, though not French peasantry. There also:—
"In that delightful land which is washed by the Delaware's waters, Guarding in sylvan shades the name of Penn the apostle, Stands on the banks of its beautiful stream the city he founded. There all the air is balm, and the peach is the emblem of beauty, And the streets still re-echo the names of the trees of the forest, As if they fain would appease the Dryads whose haunts they molested There from the troubled sea had Evangeline landed, an exile, Finding among the children of Penn a home and a country."
In that sedate and sober city was—
"the almshouse, home of the homeless. Then in the suburbs it stood, in the midst of meadows and woodlands, Now the city surrounds it, hut still, with its gateway and wicket Meek in the midst of splendor, its humble walls seem to echo Softly the words of the Lord,—'The poor ye have always with you'"
There the sad exile's weary search was at last rewarded; the long parted lovers were reunited, though but for a moment on the verge of the grave; and thus was ended—
"the hope and the fear and the sorrow, All the aching of heart, the restless, unsatisfied longing, All the dull, deep pain, and constant anguish of patience,"
The city almshouse stood, we are told, at the corner of Twelfth and Spruce Streets; but the belief is quite general (and we incline decidedly to that) that our beloved poet intended by his description to portray the quaint building formerly known as the Friends' Almshouse, which stood in Walnut Place (opening off of Walnut Street below Fourth), and which was torn down in 1872 or 1873 to give place to railroad and lawyers' offices.
The entrance from the street, by "gateway and wicket", as the poem says, led through a narrow passage way; and there faced one a small, low roofed house, built of alternate red and black bricks (the latter glazed), almost entirely covered by an aged ivy which clambered over the roof. The straggling branches even nodded above the wide chimneys; at both sides of the door stood comfortable settles, inviting to rest; and the pretty garden charmed with its bloom and fragrance. The whole formed such a restful retreat, such an oasis of quiet in the very heart of the busy city, that one was tempted often to make excuses for straying into the peaceful enclosure.
In a book printed for private circulation in Philadelphia some years ago, there is an item of interest about the Acadians. The author narrates that she and a young companion, in their strolls to the suburbs, where they went to visit the Pennsylvania Hospital (Eighth and Pine Streets, now in the heart of the city), were timid because obliged to pass the place where the "French Neutrals" were located.
These people, because they were foreigners, and there was some mystery about them which the girls did not then understand, inspired them with fear; though Philadelphia residents of that time testify that the homeless and destitute strangers were in reality a very simple and inoffensive company, when, "friendless, homeless, hopeless, they wandered from city to city." Through the influence of Anthony Benezet, a member of the Society of Friends, they were provided with homes on Pine Street above Sixth, where the two little wooden houses still stand; one, when we last saw it, being painted blue.
What a picturesque company of adventurers were those French noblemen, who, turning their backs upon the luxuries and fascinations of court life, sailed away to this wild and distant land, where, in the pursuit of gain, fame, or merely adventure, they were to suffer absolute privation and hardship; consorting with savages in place of the plumed and pampered denizens of palaces.
After a probably tempestuous voyage across the bleak Atlantic, and a merciless buffeting from Fundy in the spring of 1604, the prospective Governor of the great territory known as Acadia was sailing along this coast, which presents such a forbidding aspect from the Bay, making his first haven May 16. At that time, we can readily imagine, in this northern region the weather would not be very balmy. Even now the wild rocky shore stretches along drearily—though with certain stern picturesqueness—as far as eye can reach, and then must have been even less attractive, as it showed no sign of habitation.
Champlain was somewhat familiar with these shores from former voyages, and so had been chosen as pilot; but De Poutrincourt and Pontgrav, other associates of Pierre du Guast, the Sieur de Monts, doubtless looked askance at each other, or indulged in the expressive French shrug as the cheerless panorama parsed before them. On that 16th of May, at the harbor where the little town of Liverpool is now situated, De Monts found another Frenchman engaged in hunting and fishing, ignoring, or regardless of, the rights of any one else; and without ado this interloper (so considered by De Monts) was nabbed; the only consolation he received being the honor of transmitting his name, Rossignol, to the harbor,—a name since transferred to a lake in the vicinity.
After a sojourn of two weeks at another point (St. Mary's Bay), the explorers proceeded northward; and at last a particularly inviting harbor presented itself, causing the mental vision of the new Governor and his company to assume more hopeful aspect, as they turned their course thither and pronounced it "Port Royal"!
Here they managed to exist through the winter with as much comfort as circumstances would admit of; but with the return of summer were on the wing again, in search of more salubrious climate and more southerly locality for the establishment of a colony, sailing along the coast of Maine and Massachusetts as far as Cape Cod.
Attempts were made to establish settlements, but the natives proved unfriendly; the foreigners had not a sufficient force to subdue them; and, as De Monts was obliged to return to France, De Poutrincourt and his companions established themselves again at Port Royal. Here, to while away the long winter, the gay adventurers established a burlesque court, which they christened "L'Ordre de Bon Temps"; and of the merry realm each of the fifteen principal persons of the colony became supreme ruler in turn. As the Grand Master's sway lasted but a day, each one, as he assumed that august position, prided himself on doing his utmost to eclipse his predecessor in lavish provision for feasting. Forests were scoured for game; fish were brought from the tempest-tossed waters of the Bay, or speared through the ice of L'quille; so the table fairly groaned with the luxuries of these winter revelers in the wilds of Acadia. With ludicrous caricature of court ceremonial, the rulers of the feast marched to the table, where their invited guests, the Indian chiefs, sat with them around the board; the squaws and children squatting on the floor, watching for bits which the lively company now and then tossed to them. "They say" that an aged sachem, when dying, asked if he should have pies in heaven as good as those which he had eaten at Poutrincourt's table!
To the Indians, the greatest delicacy of all on the table was bread. This, to them a dainty viand, they were always ready to consume with gusto; but were invariably averse to grinding the corn, although promised half of the meal as recompense for their labor. The grinding was performed with a hand-mill, and consequently so laborious and tedious that the savages would rather suffer hunger than submit to such drudgery, which they also seemed to think degrading to the free sons of the forest.
Proverbially fickle are princes; and of this De Monts was convinced on his return to France, for during his absence he had lost favor with his sovereign, Henry IV., who revoked his commission; still he succeeded, after many difficulties, in procuring supplies for his colony, and arrived just in time to prevent his people from leaving Port Royal discouraged and disheartened. One member of the little community of Frenchmen was Lescarbot, a lawyer, who was talented, poetical, and did much to enliven the others during the absence of their leader, who, on his return, was received by a procession of masqueraders, headed by Neptune and tritons, reciting verses written by Lescarbot. Over the entrances to the fort and to the Governor's apartments were suspended wreaths of laurel and garlands surrounding Latin mottoes,—all the work of the pastimist (if one may coin such a word). The relief and encouragement brought by De Monts were but temporary, and in the spring (1606) news was received that nothing more could be sent to the colonists, and they must be disbanded.
Imagination portrays the strange picture presented at this time in this remote region, the gay French courtiers vanishing from the sight of their Indian comrades almost as suddenly and mysteriously as they had appeared but three years before, and leaving their dusky boon companions lamenting on the shore. The eyes of the savages—that race who pride themselves on their stoicism—were actually dimmed with tears as they watched the vessel fading away in the distance.
For four years "ye gentle sauvage" pursued the even tenor of his way, and consoled himself as best he could for the absence of the lively revelers who had cheered his solitude; then, presumably to his delight (in 1610), he saw Poutrincourt returning. That nobleman had promised the king to exert himself for the conversion of the Indians. Three years later a company of Jesuits sailed for this port with the same object in view; but, losing their reckoning, they founded settlements at Mt. Desert instead.
Madame de Guercheville, a true woman indeed, who was honored and respected in a dissolute court where honor was almost unknown, had become a zealous advocate of the conversion of Indians in America; and through her means and influence several priests of the Jesuit order were sent out in 1612 to this settlement. The sachems, with members of their tribes living at Port Royal, were baptized, twenty-one at one time, with much show of rejoicing typified by firing of cannon, waving of banners, blaring of trumpets. Some doubt is expressed whether the savages fully understood what it was all about, and what their confession of faith fully signified; as one chief, on being instructed in the Lord's Prayer, objected to asking for bread alone, saying that he wished for moose flesh and fish also; and when one of the priests deliberately set to work, with notebook and quill, to learn the language of the aborigines by asking one man the Indian words for various French ones (to him totally incomprehensible), the savage, with malice aforethought, purposely gave him words of evil signification, which did not assist the Frenchman in enlightening other members of this benighted race. Perceiving the trick which had been played upon him by the savage, who had been so perplexed by his questioning, the priest declared that Indian possessed by the Devil! However, with all its discouragements, this was the opening of the work of the Jesuits in America; in which even those who might have thought their zeal at times mistaken could not but respect them for the noble heroism, displayed during so many years, in their work of civilizing and enlightening the savages. Even in these olden times there were turbulent marauders abroad; and one such, Argall, from Virginia, after destroying the settlement at Somes Sound (Mt. Desert), pounced upon this peaceful station, destroying the fort and scattering the colonists (1613).
The section known as Virginia was granted in 1606 to the London and Plymouth Companies; and as that portion embraced the country between 34 degrees and 43 degrees north latitude, it seems that Argall pretended that the French at Port Royal were interlopers, usurping his rights; but as De Monts had received in 1604 a charter for the country deemed as lying between 40 degrees and 46 degrees north latitude, Argall had no right to dispossess De Monts or his successor.
Notwithstanding that a member of Argall's company speaks of him as "a gentleman of noble courage", that does not prevent us from considering him a rascal; for at this time France and England were at peace, and he was unauthorized in his base and tyrannous invasion of Port Royal. Before his attack on this quiet, peaceful station, he had shown greatest treachery at Somes Sound, Mt. Desert, where he stole Saussaye's commission and cast adrift in an open boat fifteen of the colonists.
Poutrincourt's son, Biencourt, was now Governor of Acadia, and stationed at Port Royal. He endeavored to make terms with Argall, and offered to divide with him the proceeds of the fur trade and the mines; but this was refused, and the settlement broken up, some of the unfortunate Frenchmen joining Champlain at Quebec, some scattering into the woods among the Indians, while others were carried to England and from thence demanded by the French ambassador. Thus, after only a little more than eight years from the time of settlement, the colony was entirely broken up.
En passant: A friend of ours, who with his family passed a summer in New Hampshire, "at the roots of the White Mountains", as someone expressed it, surprised an old farmer by asking the names of hills in sight from that particular locality. The reply was, "I dono, and I dono as I care; but you city folks, when you come here, are allers askin' questions." We conclude that we are liable to be classed in a similar category; and, in fact, the Dabbler when sketching one day is asked, "Ain't some of your party writing a book?" The interrogator's mind is set at rest by being answered that the reason we have become animated notes of interrogation is because we are interested in the history of the old town; but it is fearful to think for what that innocent lad is responsible: putting notions in people's heads, and causing this volume to be inflicted on a suffering world!
To return to our subject. The olive branch was not yet to be the emblem of this spot, now so peaceful, for a colony of Scotch people were next routed (1628), and the place left in ruins, when a season of quiet ensued; but this was virtually the commencement of the French and English wars in North America, continuing, with slight intermissions, until the treaty of 1763, by which France gave up her possessions in America.
In 1634 Port Royal fell into French hands again, when Claude de Razilly was Governor, and here for a short time lived La Tour, one of his lieutenants, who kept up such bitter feuds with D'Aulnay, who held like position to his own, and whose story Whittier relates in his poem, "St. John, 1647".
Madatae de la Tour must have been one of the earliest advocates of women's rights, as she so bravely held the fort of St. John in her husband's absence.
"'But what of my lady?' Cried Charles of Estienne On the shot-crumbled turret Thy lady was seen Half veiled in the smoke cloud Her hand grasped thy pennon, While her dark tresses swayed In the hot breath of cannon, Of its sturdy defenders, Thy lady alone Saw the cross-blazoned banner Float over St John. Alas for thy lady! No service from thee Is needed by her Whom the Lord hath set free: Nine days, in stern silence, Her thralldom she bore, But the tenth morning came And Death opened her door'"
Hannay says she was "the first and greatest of Acadian heroines,—a woman whose name is as proudly enshrined in the history of this land as that of any sceptered queen in European story."
For a long series of years this post of Port Royal was the bone of contention between the French and English; the fort, being held for a time by one power, then by the other, representing the shuttle-cock when these contending nations battled at her doors. In 1654 the place was held by the French under Le Borgne. An attack by the English was successful, though the French were well garrisoned and provisioned.
In De Razilly's time La Tour, who might have been satisfied with his possessions at St. John, assailed it; then English pirates took the fishing fleet (1684); next Sir William Phipps captured and pillaged the fort in 1690. Shortly after this, pirates from the West Indies plundered the place; and in 1691 it again fell into the hands of the French under De Villebon. It was still to undergo two sieges in 1707, when, under Subercase, the besiegers were repulsed; and in 1710 seven ships with English marines bombarded the fort for several days. The garrison at last, being in starving condition, were forced to yield; and the victors christened the place Annapolis Royal, in honor of their sovereign then reigning in Great Britain.
The subjugation of this part of "New France" made Nova Scotia an English province; and for a time this realm might have answered to the description of Rasselas's Happy Valley; the thrifty, honest people relieved from "wars and rumors of wars", and taking up the quiet, contented routine of every-day life.
"Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife They kept the noiseless tenor of their way."
But in 1744 the reign of siege and terror began again, and the town was destroyed by bombardment and incendiary fires, when, for nearly three months, Laloutre and Duvivier besieged the fort. The garrison, augmented by troops from Louisburg, and assisted by provisions and men from Boston, finally repulsed their assailants. The next year there was another assault under De Ramezay, which was unsuccessful; and after the dispersion of the Acadians (1755), the much-fought-over place was allowed to remain in quiet until 1781, when two American ships-of-war sailed up the river at night. Their forces, taking the fort by surprise, robbed the houses, after imprisoning the people in the old block-house. Since that time the English have retained possession of this much disputed territory; the fort has been unarmed and unoccupied (by military force) since 1850, when the Rifle Brigade were stationed here; but the tedium of garrison life proving still more irksome here, and desertions being frequent, the fort was abandoned as a military post.
What a fascination there is about that old fort at Annapolis!—"the hornet's nest", as it was called in the olden time; the stronghold which withstood so many sieges, and was the subject of constant contentions in by-gone years.
The hours slip by unnoted when one sits, on the ramparts dreaming and gazing on the broad sweep of river, the distant islands, the undulating lines of the mountain ranges. The sleepy looking cows wander lazily about, cropping the grass on the embankments, and even clamber over the ancient archway.
One peoples the place with imaginary martial figures, and is almost startled when the stillness is broken by a rustle and approaching footsteps, and turns, as if expecting to see glittering uniforms appearing through the crumbling arch; but it is only old Moolly, who deliberately walks into the inner enclosure, and, if "our special artist on the spot" has left his sketch for a moment, probably puts her foot in it, with the air of one who should say, "Who are you who dare invade my realm?"
The quaint barrack building, with its huge chimneys and gambrel roof, is now occupied by several families; and a whitewashed fence encloses a gay garden. The small magazine, built of creamy sandstone sent from France for the purpose, still remains, and its excessively sharp roof shows above the ramparts; but the massive oaken door stands open wide and is green with age; the roof is decidedly shaky; and the shingles hang loosely, so that one would think that only a moderate gale would send them flying like a pack of cards.
The block-house, built of massive logs and heavy planks of English oak, stood within the past year by the bridge over the moat; but, unfortunately, a person without reverence for antiquities has razed it, thereby obtaining his winter fuel cheaply; and he now turns an honest penny by selling canes, etc., of the wood.
When we indignantly ask some of the town's-people how they could have permitted this, they reply, "Oh, it was getting rotten, and would have tumbled down some day;" but we judge, by pieces which we see of the sound, tough fibred oak, that it might have stood for fifty years more without injury; while a little judicious propping and repairing, perhaps, would have preserved it for a longer period than that. Poor Annapolitans, who had no Centennial Exhibition to teach them the value of historical relics and "old things".
On the Maine Central Railroad, quite near the track at Winslow, we passed, on our way here, an old block-house, which is carefully preserved.
Not long ago, the Canadian Government received orders that all buildings, except the barrack and magazine, must be removed from the fort enclosure; yet a garrulous old Scotchman still resides there in a tiny house, and plies his trade as cobbler.
His delight is to regale strangers with preposterous "yarns", and accounts of his adventures in her Majesty's service; accounts which must be taken with considerably more than the proverbial grain of salt, but to which we listened with delight and amazingly sober countenances. When asked how it happens that he still remains in the fort grounds, he answers, "I writ out home, to Angland, to say that I served in the arrumy fur thurty yeer, and I know the ould gurrul will let me stay." (There's respect for a sovereign!)
He talks wisely of the "bumpruf", a word which we have some difficulty in translating into bomb proof; and we are, apparently, overpowered with wonder as he explains how "with a few berrls av pouther they cud send ivery thing flying, and desthroy the whole place, avery bit av it."
Presumably misled by our simulated credulity, he goes on to describe a well in front of the magazine, and says, "When they wanted to get red av throoblesome preesoners, ploomp they'd go in the watter, and thet was the last av 'em'" Suffice it to say, that the oldest inhabitant has no recollection of the slightest trace of such a well.
The underground passage has fallen in; only the entrance being now visible and accessible Old Gill says, "I as the last man iver in it; and I got caught there with the wall fallin' in, and they were twinty fower hours gettin' me out," (a li[e]kely story!) adding, "Oh, I was a divil in them days!" and "I found in there a bit av a goon wrinch" (gun wrench); and Mr. So and So, from Halifax, "gev me some money fur it, an' he lapped it up in his han'kerchef like as if it had ben goold."
We are told of an ancient house "of the era of the French occupation," and go to see it; but learn, though it looks so aged, that it was built upon the site of the French house, and is not the old original. The owner has reached the ripe age of ninety-four, and is a remarkable man, with the polished manner of a gentleman of the old school In such a climate as this, one would naturally expect to find centenarians. He tells us many interesting things about old times here, and his grandson brings out a barrel of Acadian relics to show us.
We are interested in noting the differences between these ancient implements and those in use at the present time; here is a gridiron, with very long handle and four feet (a clumsy quadruped), and we see in fancy the picture of home comfort, as the busy housewife prepares the noonday meal, where—
"Firmly builded with rafters of oak, the house of the farmer Stood on the side of a lull commanding the sea, and a shady Sycamore grew by the door, with a woodbine wreathing around it"
Here, too, are ox chains, a curiously shaped ploughshare, an odd little spade used in mending the dikes, and digging clay for bricks, and also the long and heavy tongs of the "blacksmith".
"Who was a mighty man in the village and honored of all men For since the birth of time, throughout all ages and nations Has the craft of the smith been held in repute by the people."
These implements were discovered at Frenchman's Brook on this farm, only three years ago, and were then found apparently as bright and strong as if just placed there. They were covered with brush, but a foot or two below the surface; and seem to have been hurriedly hidden by the exiles, who, finding them too weighty for conveyance, secreted them, probably with the hope of returning sometime.
What a study for an artist the group would have made, as they stood examining the misty iron, and talking of the unhappy people so ruthlessly sent into banishment! For background, the quaint, unpainted house, black with age, the roof of the "lean-to" so steeply sloping that the eave-trough was on a line Avith the heads of the group Beyond lay the lovely valley, with the winding quille on its serpentine way to join the greater river; the whole picture framed in the long range of wooded and rugged hills.
Higginson thinks there has been too much sentimentalizing over the fate of the Acadians; and one member of our party so evidently considers that our enthusiasm savors of the gushing school-girl, that we are cautious in our remarks. But the old man's grandson, holding his pretty child on his shoulder, and looking across the valley to his pleasant dwelling, says, "Oh, it was cruel to send them away from their homes!" to which all earnestly assent.
Clambering up the hill back of the old house, we come upon the site of an ancient French church, and commend the taste of those who chose such an admirable location. Here we find, to our delight, that local tradition has buried two fine old bells. Bells! What a charm there is about them! One of the earliest recollections of our childhood is of a bell, which, being harsh and dissonant, so worked upon our youthful sensibilities as to cause paroxysms of tears; and now in these later years we are sure that should some genie set us down blindfolded in any place where we had ever remained for a time the mere tones of the bells would enlighten us as to our whereabouts.
"Those evening bells! Those evening bells! How many a tale their music tells, Of youth and home and that sweet time When last I heard their soothing chime."
After the Port Royal settlement was broken up by Argall in 1613, tradition says this church crumbled away into ruin, and, as the supporting beams decayed, the bells sank to the ground, where, from their own weight and the accumulations of Nature's dbris they became more and more deeply embedded until lost to view. Silver bells, from France, they say. Of course! Who ever heard of any ancient bells which were not largely composed of that metal? It is a pretty myth, however, which we adopt with pleasure; though common sense plainly says that silver would soon wear away in such use; that the noble patrons of a struggling colony in a wild country would not have been so extravagant as that; and that bell metal is a composition of copper and tin which has been in use from the time of Henry III.
The people of Antwerp have special affection for the "Carolus" of their famous cathedral; and that bell is actually composed of copper, silver, and gold; but it is now so much worn that they are not allowed the privilege of hearing it more than once or twice a year "Kings and nobles have stood beside these famous caldrons" (of the bell founders), "and looked with reverence on the making of these old bells; nay, they have brought gold and silver, and pronouncing the holy name of some saint or apostle which the bell was hereafter to bear, they have flung in precious metals, rings, bracelets, and even bullion."
Possibly these old bells of Annapolis, the secret of whose hiding place Nature guards so well, were made by Van den Gheyn or Hemony of Belgium, who from 1620 to 1650 were such famous founders that those of their works still extant are worth their weight in gold, or priceless, and are noted the world over for their wonderful melody. If so, when they
"Sprinkled with sounds the air, as the priest with his hyssop Sprinkles the congregation and scatters blessing among them,"
it was no doubt with silvery tone; and, as it is well known that bells sound best when rung on a slope or in a valley where there is a lake or river, doubtless this wide and lovely stream carried the music of the mellow peal, and returning voyagers heard the welcome notes; as the sailors of the North Sea, on entering the Scheldt, strain their ears to catch the faint, far melody of the chimes of the belfry of Antwerp, visible one hundred and fifty miles away.
Another day we make an expedition to see the Apostle Spoons, and are received, as invariably everywhere, with cordial hospitality. These spoons would, I fear, cause the eye of an antiquary to gleam covetously. They have round, flat bowls about two and a half inches in diameter; narrow, slender, and straight handles, terminating, the one with a small turbaned head, the other with a full length figure about one inch long; the entire length of the handles being about four and a half inches.
In the bowl of one the letters P L I are rudely cut; and on both is stamped something which, they say, under magnifying glass resembles a King's head In the spring of 1874 or 1875 these were turned up by the plough, in a field two miles beyond the town, the discovery being made in the neighborhood of the supposed bite of an old French church. The farmer's thrifty housewife was making soap at the time the spoons were unearthed; and as they were much discolored, "the old lead things" were tossed into the kettle of lye, from whence, to her amazement, they came out gold, or, at least, silver washed with gold. These spoons, they say, were used in the service of the church; but it is more likely that they were the property of some family, and probable that they were dropped by their owners—then living beyond the present site of Annapolis—when, at the time of the banishment of the Acadians, they were hurried away to the ships on the Basin of Minas.
An apostle spoon was often a treasured heirloom in families of the better class, and at the advent of each scion of the family tree was suspended about the neck of the infant at baptism, being supposed to exert some beneficent influence. Especially in the East, about the seventh century, we find that a small vessel, or spoon, sometimes of gold, was used in the churches These were eucharistic utensils, by means of which communicants conveyed the sacred elements to the mouth; but this custom was forbidden and done away with, though probably the tradition of such usage suggested the spoon, which became general in Greek and most Oriental churches many years after. The supposition is, that in those churches, after the wafer had been put into the wine in the chalice, the spoon was used to dip out such portion as was to be reserved for administering the last sacrament to the dying, or to those who were too ill to attend the service in the church. In all churches of the East, except the Armenian, the spoon is used in administering the sacrament.
Curious customs also existed in ancient times in reference to baptism. Honey mixed with milk or with wine was given to the one who had just received this rite, to show that he who received it, being a, newly born child spiritually, must not be fed with strong meat, but with milk. This became a regular part of the ritual, and was closely adhered to. The old customs of festivals of rejoicing, public thanksgivings, wearing of garlands, singing of hymns, and giving presents, are well known and familiarly associated with baptismal festivities. The presentation of apostle spoons at christenings was a very ancient custom in England. A wealthy sponsor or relative who could afford it, gave a complete set of twelve, each with the figure of an apostle carved or chased on the end of the handle; while sometimes a poor person presented only one, but on that was the figure of the saint for whom the child was named. Sometimes this rudely molded little figure represented the patron saint of the sponsor or the donor. In 1666 the custom was on the decline.
An anecdote relating to this usage is told of Shakespeare. The latter "stood godfather" to the child of a friend; and after the ceremonies of the christening, as the poet seemed much absorbed and serious, the father questioned him as to the cause of his melancholy. The sponsor replied, that he was considering what would be the most suitable gift for him to present to his god-child, and that he had finally decided. "I'll give him," said he, "a dozen good latten spoons, and thou shalt translate them." This was a play upon the word Latin. In the Middle Ages a kind of bronze used for church and household utensils was known as "latten"; and the same name was applied in Shakespeare's time to thin iron plate coated with tin, of which domestic utensils and implements were made.
In Johnson's "Bartholomew Fair" one of his characters says, "And all this for the hope of a couple of apostle spoons, and a cup to eat caudle in." In a work of Middleton, entitled "The Chaste Maid of Cheapside", one of the characters inquires, "What has he given her?" to which another replies, "A faire high standing cup, and two great 'postle spoons, one of them gilt."
The hat, or flat covering on the head of the figure,—that which we call a turban in one of these at Annapolis,—was a customary appendage and usual in apostle spoons; the intention being thereby to protect the features of the tiny heads from wear. Whatever the history of these at Annapolis, there can be no doubt of their genuineness, and, in a perfect state, they are extremely rare.
In our antiquarian researches we are naturally drawn to the old cemetery, adjoining the fort grounds; but learn that the oldest graves were marked by oaken slabs, which have all disappeared, as have also many odd stone ones. But among those still standing one records that some one "dyed 1729"; another states that the body below "is deposited here until the last trump"; and one, which must be the veritable original of the "affliction sore" rhyme, ends: "till death did seize and God did please to ease me of my pain." Still another bears this epitaph, verbatim et literatim—
"Stay friend stay nor let thy hart prophane The humble Stone that tells you life is vain. Here lyes a youth in moulding ruin lost A blossom nipt by death's untimely frost O then prepare to meet with him above In realms of everlasting love."
The stone-cutter's hand must have been as weary when he blundered over the word humble as the poet's brain evidently was when he reached the line which limps so lamely to the conclusion. Near this recently stood a stone,
"With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked,"
on which the representation of Father Time was carved in such peculiar manner that from pose and expression the figure might have passed for a lively youth rather than the dread reaper, and was irreverently known to the village youths as "Sarah's young man", a title suggested by a popular song of the day.
In a remote corner we find the tomb of "Gregoria Remonia Antonia", "a native of Spain"; and afterwards learn her story,—an episode in the life of the Iron Duke which does not do him honor. Did la grande dame, the Duchess, ever know of the fair foreigner who supplanted her, the dame o' high degree, in her husband's affection? Did the beautiful Spanish maiden dream, when the brilliant English General wooed her, that he was doing her and another woman the greatest wrong? Little did the fascinating Spaniard think that the so-called "nobleman" would compel her to marry another; and that other a rough, illiterate man, who would bring her to this wild, strange, far-away country, and that here she should be laid to rest "after life's fitful fever." Is it to be wondered at that her fiery Southern spirit rebelled, that her wrongs embittered her, and that her life here was unhappy?
To add to the romance, one who attended her in her last illness tells us that when the garrison gave a ball, the slender little Spanish lady loaned or gave "pretty fixins" to the young girls to wear, and appeared herself in rich silks and plumes; that she gave to her attendant in that illness a wonderful box "all done off with,—well—this here plated stuff, you know"; and that when the end was drawing near, the faint, weak voice, with its broken English (at best so difficult to understand), tried to make "Char-loet-tah" comprehend where she must look for something hidden away which she wished her nurse to have in recognition of her services. But alas! the hoarded treasure was not found until months after the poor soul was gone, and then fell into the very hands which the sad alien had most desired should not touch it.
The old adage about a sailor's right to have "a sweetheart in every port" is still cited in these days of boasted advancement in culture, religion, morals; and it is the same old world to-day as that which lauded and bowed down to him whom it called "his Grace" (despite what we consider his graceless actions); the same world, alas! ignoring the open and evident fact when he steps aside from the narrow path of honor and rectitude; while, should she swerve in the least, pouring out mercilessly its harshest taunts, or overwhelming her with pitiless scorn. This, because woman should hold an exalted position, and "be above suspicion"? Then why do not the so-called "lords of creation", as they might and ought, set an example of noble uprightness to "the weaker vessel", guiding, guarding, upholding her through "the shards and thorns of existence"?
The Spanish girl, left an orphan by the wars in which the dashing and gallant English officer figured so proudly, fell to the care of two aunts, who, belonging to that indolent, pleasure loving race of sunny Spain, perhaps left the poor girl too much to her own devices, and thus she may have been more easily beguiled.
"Look here, upon this picture, and on this": first, the gay little senorita, holding daintily in her tapering fingers a cigarette, which she occasionally raises to her "ripe red lips", afterwards languidly following with her lustrous black eyes the blue wreaths of smoke as they float above her head and vanish in the air; next, the withered crone, with silver hair, wrinkled skin, and no trace of her early beauty, sitting in the chimney corner, and still smoking, though now it is a clay pipe,—to the amazement and disgust of the villagers. Yet we, believing in the only correct interpretation of noblesse oblige, and that he only is truly noble who acts nobly, have only pity for the poor soul who here laid down life's weary burden twenty-two years ago at the age of seventy-two, and scorn for him who rests in an honored grave, and is idealized among the world's heroes.
How amusing it is to hear the people speak of us invariably as "Americans", as if we were from some far-away and foreign country, and to hear them talk of England as "home"!
The hearty cordiality, natural manner, and pleasantly unworldly ways of the people are most refreshing; in "a world of hollow shams", to find persons who are so genuine is delightful; and thus another charm is added to give greater zest to our enjoyment.
One, half in jest, asks a Halifax gentleman how they would like to be annexed to the United States, and is quite surprised at his ready and earnest reply: "Annexed? Oh, yes, we'd be glad to be;... we wouldn't come with empty hands; we have what you want,—fisheries, lumber, minerals; we'd not come as paupers and mendicants.... It will come, though it may not be in our day.... The United States would not wish to purchase,—she has done enough of that: we would have to come of our own free will; and we would, too!"
Then there is the elderly Scotch gentleman, who appropriately hails from the place with the outlandish name of Musquodoboit. He tells us that during the "airly pairt" of his residence in America he visited in the States, and that he has seen "fower Preesidents" inaugurated.
Of his first attendance at such a ceremony he says: "An' whan I see thet mon, in hes plain blek coat, coomin' out amang all o' thim people, an' all the deegnetirries in their blek coats tu, an' not a uniforrum amoong thim, I said, 'This is the coontry fur me,'—it suited my taste. An' how deeferint it wud be in Yerrup, where there wud be tin thausind mooskits aboot, to kep 'im from bein' shot."
On our way here we were told: "Oh, you'll find Annapolis hot!" It might perhaps seem so to a Newfoundlander; but to us the climate is a daily source of remark, of wonder and delight. It is balmy, yet bracing; and though there may be times when at midday it is decidedly warm,—as summer should be,—the nights are always cool, and we live in flannel costumes and luxuriate.
Warner speaks of "these northeastern lands which the Gulf Stream pets and tempers"; yet he passed through this dear old town without stopping, remarking only that he could not be content for a week here, and felt no interest in the place apart from its historic associations. Let him stop next time and investigate. We flatter ourselves that we could enlighten him somewhat.
Our friends at various shore and mountain resorts report constant fogs; yet we can testify that in nearly seven weeks' residence here there were but two mornings which were foggy, and on those days the gray screen was rolled away at noon.
"aloft on the mountains Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the mighty Atlantic Looked on the happy valley, but ne'er from their station descended"
That singular feature spoken of in Longfellow's poem is shown here: the mists rise from the Bay and rest lovingly, caressingly, on the crests of the long range of mountains, giving them the appearance of comfortable warmth under this downy coverlet on cool nights; but this fleece very rarely descends to the valley.
Dr. O. W. Holmes must have had such a place as this in mind when he said:—
"And silence like a poultice came To heal the blows of sound,"
and surely tympanums most bruised by the world's clangor and jar could not fail here be soothed and healed; and the writer of "Oh, where shall rest be found?" would have received answer to his query here also. The quiet is astonishing: there are no farm sounds even; and, though the hours pass so pleasantly that we "take no note of time", we can tell when Saturday comes, for then numbers of log-laden ox-carts plod slowly into the village from the back country.
The bells on the animals' necks tinkle precisely like the sound of ice when carried in a pitcher of water; and consequently do not jar upon one's ear in this quietude as the clanking herd-bells which we hear in some farming regions of the States.
At night the only break in the profound stillness is when the tide is ebbing, and the Equille can be heard rushing under the bridge a quarter of a mile away. We cannot discover the meaning of that word, and so consult a foreign relative, who fells us that at Dinard, in France, they catch the quille,—a small fish, also called a lanon, because it darts in and out of the sand, and in its movements is something like an eel.
That certainly describes this peculiar stream, for surely it would be difficult to find one with a more circuitous course. It forms two horseshoes and an ox-bow connected, as we see it from our windows; and when the tide is out diminishes to a rivulet about two feet in width. At flood it is more than twice the width of the Wissahickon, and when the high tides of August come its magnitude is surprising.
Then we understand why the hay-ricks (which we wickedly tell our friends from the "Hub" resemble gigantic loaves of Boston brown bread) are on stilts, for, regardless of dikes or boundaries, this tortuous creek spreads over its whole valley, as if in emulation of the greater river of which it is a tributary. Haliburton says that for a time this was called Allan's River, and the greater one was named the Dauphin; but we are glad that the old French name was restored to the serpentine creek, as it is so much better suited to its peculiar character.
The great event of the week is the arrival of the Boston steamer, when all the town turns out and wends its way to the wharves.
The peculiar rise of the tide (thirty feet) is here plainly shown, as one week the passengers step off from the very roof of the saloon, and next time she comes in they disembark from the lowest gangway possible and climb the long ascent of slippery planks to the level above.
The river shows curious currents and counter-currents, as bits of dbris are hurrying upward in the middle of the stream, while similar flotsam and jetsam rush away as rapidly down stream along both shores.
The queer old tub of a ferry boat, with its triangular wings spreading at the sides,—used as guards and "gang planks",—is a curiosity, as it zigzags across the powerful current to the village on the opposite shore.
But "the ferryman's slim, the ferryman's young, and he's just a soft twang in the turn of his tongue"; and in our frequent trips across he probably makes a mental note when he hears us lamenting that we cannot get lobsters, for one day he sends to our abiding place four fine large ones, and will not receive a cent in remuneration.
Another time, when waiting for the farmer's you to guide us to the "ice mine",—a ravine in the mountains where ice remains through the summer, —a delicious lunch, consisting of fresh bread, sweet milk, and cake, is unexpectedly set before us, and the generous farmer's wife will not listen to recompense.
A modern writer says: "A great part of the enjoyment of life is in the knowledge that there are people living in a worse place than that you inhabit;" but it does not add to our happiness to think of those who could not come to this lovely spot; and we commiserate the Can't-get- away Club of the cities.
We would not change places with any of the dwellers at the fashionable resorts at springs, sea, or mountains,—no, indeed! though they no doubt would elevate their noses, and set this place down at once as "deadly dull", or "two awfully slow for anything"!
Doubtless those also of our friends to whom we tell the plain, unvarnished truth, if they come here will be disappointed, as they will not see with our eyes. One cannot expect the luxuries of palatial hotels at five dollars per day; such would be out of place here.
At our abiding place, which looks like a gentleman's residence, and is, as one of the Halifax guests says, "not a bit like an 'otel", there is an extensive garden, from which we are regaled with choice fresh vegetables daily; and we have such home-made butter (The bill of fare "to be issued in our next"). A Frenchman might think that "we return to our muttons" frequently; still, as that viand suggests at least the famous English Southdown in excellence, we are resigned.
A noted wit has said: "Doubtless God might have made a better berry than the strawberry, but doubtless God never did;" and if one is so fortunate as to come to this country in proper season he can feast on that delectable fruit in its perfection,—that is, the wild fruit, so much more delicious and delicate in flavor than after its boasted "improvement" by cultivation. If one arrives before the close of the fisheries, salmon, fit for a royal banquet, graces the table; while even in July and August he may enjoy shad; and strange enough it seems to Philadelphians to be eating that fish at such time of year.
There are in the town a number of inns, and summer guests are also made welcome and comfortable in many of the private residences. In one of the latter—a large old-fashioned house, with antique furniture—three sisters reside, who possess the quiet dignity and manner of the old school; and here one would feel as if visiting at one's grandfather's, and be made pleasantly "at home".
We are surprised to find that this old town has generally such modern and New Englandish aspect; and are told that it has twice been nearly destroyed by fire, even in modern times; therefore but few of the quaint buildings remain. Some of these are picturesque and interesting, the one combining jail and court house being a feature of the main street. The window of one of the cells faces the street; and the prisoner's friends sit on the steps without, whiling away the tedium of incarceration with their converse.
The oldest dwelling in the town stands on St. George's Street, nearly opposite the old-fashioned inn known as the Foster House. Its walls were originally made of mud from the flats, held together by the wiry marsh grass, which, being dried, was mixed in the sticky substance as hair is in plaster; but as these walls gave way from the effects of time the seams and cracks were plastered up, and by degrees boarded over, until now the original shows only in one part of the interior.
The houses throughout this region are almost invariably without blinds or outside shutters, and consequently look oddly to us, who are inclined to screen ourselves too much from "the blessed sunshine". Bay windows are popular.
We saw one small house with four double and two single ones, giving it an air of impertinent curiosity, as the dwellers therein could look out from every possible direction. The ancient dormer windows on the roofs have given place to these queer bulging ones, which, in Halifax especially, are set three in a row on the gray shingles, and bear ludicrous resemblance to gigantic bee-hives.
In some of the shops, at the post office and railroad station, our money is taken at a small discount; but in many of the shops they allow us full value for it. In one the proprietor tells us of the sensation caused here once by the failure of a Canadian bank, and the surprise of the town's-people—whose faith seemed shaken in all such institutions— when he continued to take United States bank bills. He says: "I told 'em the United States Government hadn't failed, that I believed in it yet, would take all their money I could get, and be glad to have it, too!"
To continue the impression of being in a foreign land, we must attend service at the five or six different churches, and hear the prayers for the Queen and Royal Family. In the first place of worship, where the Octave augments the congregation, Victoria and many of her family are mentioned by full name and title, in sonorous and measured tones; in the next the pastor speaks of "Our Sovereign, and those under her and over us;" in another "Our Queen" is simply referred to; and some ministers who are suspected of being tinctured with republicanism sometimes forget to make any special allusion to her Majesty.
In our walks up the main street, which is not remarkably bustling or busy, we see long rows of great old hawthorn bushes bordering the road, and giving quite an English touch to the scene; and everywhere gigantic apple trees, which would delight an artist, so deliciously gnarled and crooked are they.
I am not aware that astronomy is a favorite study with the inhabitants, but have no doubt that cidereal observations are popular at certain seasons,—as this country is a famous apple growing district, and that fruit, is sent from here to England and the States in vast quantities. Octavius says, "If you would know what ann-apol-is, you should come here in the fall," but is at once frowned down by the other seven for this atrocity.
The valleys of Annapolis and Cornwallis yield an average crop of two hundred thousand barrels of apples. Dealers in Bangor who paid 87 per barrel in Boston for this fruit, have afterwards been chagrined on discovering that it came from Annapolis originally, and that they could have procured the same from that place direct at $2.25 to $3 per barrel.
Very lovely is the view from a hill outside the village, and there also is the Wishing Rock,—one of the most noted objects of interest, as a guide book would term it. "They say" that if one can run to the top without assistance, or touching the rock with the hands, then whatever one wishes will "come true". This feat it is almost impossible to accomplish, as the stone has been worn smooth by countless feet before ours; still the youthful and frisky members of our party must attempt the ascent, with a run, a rush, and a shout, while the elders look on, smiling benignly.
The dikes of L'quille form a peculiar but pleasant promenade; and along that narrow, circuitous path we frequently wander at sunset. These embankments remain, in great part, as originally built by the Acadians, and are formed of rubbish, brush, and river mud, over which sods are closely packed, and for most of the season they are covered with tall waving grass. This primitive sea wall is six or eight feet in width at the base, and only about one foot wide at the top, so it is necessary for him "who standeth" to "take heed lest he fall"; otherwise his enthusiasm over the beauties of the prospect may receive a damper from a sudden plunge into the water below.
There is a fine new rink in the village; and in the mornings those of us who are novices in the use of rollers have a quiet opportunity to practice and disport ourselves with the grace of a bureau, or other clumsy piece of furniture on wheels!
Then we go to the wharves to witness the lading of lumber vessels. Some of the logs floating in the water are so huge as to attest that there are vast and aged forests somewhere in her Majesty's domains in America; and the lumbermen, attired in rough corduroy, red shirts, and big boots, balance themselves skillfully on some of the slippery trunks, while with pole and boat-hook propelling other great ones to the gaping mouths in the bow of the vessel. Then horse, rope, pulley, and windlass are brought into play to draw the log into the hold and place it properly among other monarchs of the forest, thus ignominiously laid low, and become what "Mantalini" would style "a damp, moist, unpleasant lot." From the wharf above we look down into the hold, and, seeing this black, slimy, muddy cargo, say regretfully, "How are the mighty fallen!" as we think of the grand forests of which these trees were once the pride and glory, but of which ruthless man is so rapidly despoiling poor Mother Earth.
We have brought with us those aids to indolence which a tiny friend of ours calls "hang-ups", expecting to swing them in the woods and inhale the odors of pine; but the woods are too far away; so we are fain to sit under a small group of those trees at the end of the garden and gaze upon the peaceful valley.
"There in the tranquil evenings of summer, when brightly the sunset Lighteth the village street, and gildeth the vanes on the chimneys,"
we sit, when
"Day with its burden and heat has departed, and twilight descending Brings back the evening star to the sky, and the herds to the homestead."
There we sit and talk of the romantic story, comparing notes as to our ideal of the heroine; and such is the influence of the air of sentiment and poetry pervading this region, that we decide that Boughton's representation of her,
"When in the harvest heat she bore to the reapers at noon-tide Flagons of home-brewed ale,... Nut-brown ale, that was famed for its strength in the village of Grand Pr,"
is too sturdy, as with masculine stride she marches a-field; and that Constant Meyer's ideal more nearly approaches ours. The one depicts her in rather Puritanical attire; the other, studying authentic costume, they say, shows her
"Wearing her Norman cap, and her kirtle of blue, and the ear rings, Brought in the olden time from France, and since, as an heirloom Handed down from mother to child, through long generations,"
and seated by the roadside, as,
"with God's benediction upon her, a celestial brightness—a more ethereal beauty— Shone on her face and encircled her form."
All along the roads we notice a delicate white blossom, resembling the English primrose in shape, and one day ask an intelligent looking girl whom we meet what it is called; she does not know the name, but says the seed was accidentally brought from England many years ago, and the plant "has since become quite a pest",—which we can hardly understand as we enjoy its grace and beauty. We notice that our pleasant informant follows a pretty fashion of other belles of the village,—a fashion which suits their clear complexions and bright faces; that is, wearing a gauzy white scarf around the hat, and in the dainty folds a cluster of fresh garden flowers.
The artist Boughton says. "The impressionist is a good antidote against the illusionist, who sees too much, and then adds to it a lot that he does not see." If he had ever visited this place we wonder what his idea would be of this quaint poem, supposed to have been written in 1720, which we have unearthed.
We have acquired quite an affection for this pleasant old town, and shall be loath to leave. If our friends think we are too enthusiastic, we shall refer them to this old writer to prove that we have not said all that we might; as he indulges in such airy flights of fancy and such extravagant praise.
His description would lead one to expect to see a river as great as the Mississippi, and mountains resembling the Alps in height, whereas in reality it is a quiet and not extraordinary though most pleading landscape which here "delights the eye".
The King of Rivers, solemn calm and slow, Flows tow'rd the Sea yet fierce is seen to flow, On each fan Bank, the verdant Lands are seen, In gayest Cloathing of perpetual Green On ev'ry Side, the Prospect brings to Sight The Fields, the Flow'rs, and ev'ry fresh Delight His lovely Banks, most beauteously are grac'd With Nature's sweet variety of Taste Herbs, Fruits and Grass, with intermingled Trees The Prospect lengthen, and the Joys increase The lofty Mountains rise to ev'ry View, Creation's Glory, and its Beauty too. To higher Grounds, the raptur'd View extends, Whilst in the Cloud-top'd Cliffs the Landscape ends Fair Scenes! to which should Angels turn their Sight, Angels might stand astonished with Delight Majestic Grove in ev'ry View arise And greet with Wonder the Beholders' Eyes. In gentle Windings where this River glides, And Herbage thick its Current almost hides, Where sweet Meanders lead his pleasant Course, Where Trees and Plants and Fruits themselves disclose, Where never-fading Groves of fragrant Fir And beauteous Pine perfume the ambient Air, The air, at once, both Health and Fragrance yields, Like sweet Arabian or Elysian Fields Thou Royal Settlement! he washes Thee, Thou Village, blest of Heav'n and dear to me: Nam'd from a pious Sov'reign, now at Rest, The last of Stuart's Line, of Queens the best. Amidst the rural Joys, the Town is seen, Enclos'd with Woods and Hills, forever green The Streets, the Buildings, Gardens, all concert To please the Eye, to gratify the Heart. But none of these so pleasing or so fair, As those bright Maidens, who inhabit there. Your potent Charms fair Nymphs, my verse inspire, Your Charms supply the chaste poetic Fire. Could these my Strains, but live, when I'm no more, On future Fame's bright wings, your names should soar. Where this romantic Village lifts her Head, Betwixt the Royal Port and humble Mead, The decent Mansions, deck'd with mod'rate cost, Of honest Thrift, and gen'rous Owners boast; Their Skill and Industry their Sons employ, In works of Peace, Integrity and Joy. Their Lives, in Social, harmless Bliss, they spend, Then to the Grave, in honor'd Age descend. The hoary Sire and aged Matron see Their prosp'rous Offering to the fourth Degree: With Grief sincere, the blooming offspring close Their Parent's Eyes, and pay their Debt of Woes; Then haste to honest, joyous Marriage Bands, A newborn Race is rear'd by careful Hands: Thro' num'rous Ages thus they'll happy move In active Bus'ness, and in chastest Love. The Nymphs and Swains appear in Streets and Bowers As morning fresh, as lovely as the Flowers. As blight as Phoebus, Ruler of the Day, Prudent as Pallas, and as Flora gay. A Spire majestic roars its solemn Vane, Where Praises, Pray'r and true Devotion reign, Where Truth and Peace and Charity abound, Where God is fought, and heav'nly Blessings found. The gen'rous Flock reward their Pastor's care, His Pray'rs, his Wants, his Happiness they share Retir'd from worldly Care, from Noise and Strife, In sacred Thoughts and Deeds, he spends his Life, To mo'drate Bounds, his Wishes he confines, All views of Grandeur, Pow'r and Wealth resigns, With Pomp and Pride can cheerfully dispense, Dead to the World, and empty Joys of Sense, The Symphony of heav'nly Song he hears, Celestial Concord vibrates on his Ears., Which emulates the Music of the Spheres The Band of active Youths and Virgins fan, Rank'd in due Order, by their Teacher's Care, The Sight of all Beholders gratify, Sweet to the Soul, and pleasing to the Eye But when their Voices found in Songs, of Praise, When they to God's high Throne their Anthems raise, By these harmonious Sounds, such Rapture's giv'n, Their loud Hosannas waft the Soul to Heav'n: The fourfold Parts in one bright Center meet, To form the blessed Harmony complete. Lov'd by the Good, esteemed by the Wise, To gracious Heav'n, a pleasing sacrifice. Each Note, each Part, each Voice, each Word conspire T' inflame all pious Hearts with holy Fire, Each one in Fancy seems among the Throng Of Angels, chanting Heav'n's eternal Song. Hail Music, Foretaste of celestial Joy! That always satiasts, yet canst never cloy: Each pure, refin'd, extatic Pleasure's thine, Thou rapt'rous Science! Harmony divine! May each kind Wish of ev'ry virtuous Heart Be giv'n to all, who teach, or learn thine Art: May all the Wise, and all the Good unite, With all the Habitants of Life and Light, To treat the Sons of Music with Respect, Their Progress to encourage and protect. May each Musician, and Musician's Friend Attain to Hymns divine, which never end.
Being a musical company, the Octave accept this peroration without criticism, and do not seem to consider it an extravagant rhapsody, though they are so daring as to take exception to other parts of the queer old poem.
As we have come here for rest, we are not disturbed at finding that trains, etc., are not always strictly "on time". We are summoned at 7:15 A.M., but breakfast is not served for more than an hour after; we engage a carriage for two o'clock, and perhaps in the neighborhood of three see it driving up in a leisurely manner. The people are wise, and do not wear themselves out with unnecessary rush and hurry, as we do in the States. The train advertised to start for Halifax at 2 P.M. more frequently leaves at 3, or 3.30; but then it has to wait the arrival of the steamboat which, four times per week, comes across from St. John. The express train requires six hours to traverse the miles intervening between this quiet village and that not much livelier town, while for the accommodation train they allow ten hours; but when one comes to see beautiful country one does not wish to have the breath taken away by traveling at break-neck speed.
We know that some of our party are capable of raising a breeze, and we are on a gal(e)a time anyhow; still, this is a remarkably breezy place, the wind rising with the tide, so we understand why there are so few flowers in the gardens,—the poor blossoms would soon be torn to pieces; but the windows of the houses generally are crowded with thriving plants gay with bloom, giving most cheery effect as one strolls about the town.
In our excursion to the Bay Shore we halt to water the horses at a neat little cottage on the summit of the North Mountain, and even here the little garden (protected from the winds by a fence) is all aflame with a wonderful variety of large double and gorgeous poppies. From this point, also, we have our first view of the wide Bay, shimmering in the hazy sunlight far below, and can faintly trace the rugged hills of New Brunswick in the distance.
Rapidly descending, we follow the coast for several miles, finally stopping at a lonely house on the rocky and barren shore,—such a wild spot as a novelist would choose to represent a smuggler's retreat; but the family would not answer his purpose in that respect, for they are homely and hospitable, agreeing at once to provide stabling for our horses and to sell us some milk for our lunch. They drop their net mending, come out en masse, and, on learning that some of us are from Philadelphia, greet us like old friends, because their eldest daughter is living in that distant city. The best pitcher is brought out for our use, the whole establishment placed at our disposal, and, finding that we will be so insane as to prefer to picnic under the few straggling pines by the water instead of using their dining-room, several march ahead to show the way to the rocky point; and we form a long and, of course, imposing procession.
As we gaze along this barren and lonely shore, Octavia exclaims, "Imagine the amazement of De Monts when he sailed along this iron-bound coast and suddenly came upon that wonderful gateway which leads into the beautiful Annapolis Basin and the fertile, lovely region beyond!" and we all agree that it is a shame that the embouchure should now be known by the vulgar title, Digby Gut, instead of its old cognomen, St. George's Channel. "Why couldn't they call it the Gap or the Gate?" one exclaims; "that wouldn't be quite so dreadful."