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In 1578, Queen Elizabeth granted to Sir Humphrey Gilbert a patent for discovering, occupying, and peopling such portions of it as were not at that time possessed by Christian people. He sailed from England on the eleventh of June, 1583, and arrived at Newfoundland on the eleventh of July. He took formal possession of the whole country as the representative of the English sovereign. Sir Humphrey Gilbert set sail on his return during the month of August of the same year. The vessel in which he embarked foundered at sea, and every soul on board perished. In the year 1607, Sir John Gilbert, although far advanced in years, in prosecution of his brother's enterprise sailed for America. He arrived at the mouth of the Kennebec River; but his fate was equally disastrous with that of Sir Humphrey. Having commenced a settlement upon that river, he fell a victim to the severities of the succeeding winter. This melancholy event broke up the colony, and the people all returned to England entirely disheartened. The discovery by Cabot, the formal possession taken by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and the actual residence of Sir John Gilbert, are the grounds upon which Great Britain places her original right to her North American possessions.
In the mean time the French had undertaken many voyages, for purposes of trade, to different parts of the coast; and in the year 1598, a formal attempt at colonization was made by them under the direction of the Marquis de la Roche. He attempted a settlement upon the Isle of Sable, which is thirty-five leagues from the main land, or from any other island. It is a dreary and solitary spot, far out in the ocean, barren and uninhabitable, covered with briers, sand hills, and small fresh-water ponds. Its length is thirty miles, and its breadth not more than one and a half. It presents the shape of a bow. It seems to answer no other purpose than to afford a sporting ground for seals, and other marine animals. It is covered with a race of exceedingly wild horses, and has heretofore been infested by large numbers of ferocious hogs, which are now, however, exterminated. This desolate reef of sand, has been the grave of innumerable mariners. The government of Nova-Scotia support a family upon it, and provide them with the means of affording the requisite aid and supplies to wrecked vessels and their unfortunate crews. This ocean-desert having been absurdly selected as its site, it followed of course that the colony of the Marquis de la Roche soon came to a miserable end.
In 1603 Monsieur de Monts was appointed by Henry the Fourth, governor general of the country. On the seventeenth of March, 1604, he sailed from Havre de Grace, accompanied by Champlain, afterwards celebrated as the founder of Quebec, be Poutrincourt, and by other gentlemen volunteers and adventurers. After having explored the outer shore of Nova-Scotia, they sailed up the Bay of Fundy; and entering a strait, found themselves enclosed in a spacious and beautiful bay. So delightful was the scene around them, that Poutrincourt determined to establish himself there; and having received a grant of it, he called it Port Royal.
It is not surprising that its first visiters were so much charmed by the aspect of this place. As the voyager is coasting along the bold and elevated shores of the southeastern side of the Bay of Fundy, he is suddenly brought to a narrow passage through which the tides rush with great violence and rapidity; the banks rising on either side, with almost a perpendicular ascent, to a mountainous height. In a few minutes he is swept through into a wide, calm, and sheltered bay, large enough, it would seem, to hold the navies of the world. The circuit of the horizon is traced on every side by ridges of mountains, richly wooded to the very summit; the lowland is spread out in wide prairies; and there is no visible outlet to the sea, the narrow strait being entirely concealed by the projecting hills and lofty forests. At the head of this noble harbor, the Annapolis River, after having flowed through an extended valley of uncommon beauty and amenity of aspect, and watered as rich a soil as any in this part of the continent, alternately pours itself forth in a rapid current with the retiring, or yields to the irresistible pressure of the advancing tide. Here, in 1605, was laid the foundation of the first permanent settlement in all British North America.
Under the name of Port Royal, this ancient town was the scene, for more than a hundred years, of the most interesting and romantic military adventures and vicissitudes. And now under the name of Annapolis Royal, two centuries and a quarter from its foundation, it presents, in its beautiful and expansive scenery; in its apparent seclusion from the world; in its historical recollections; in its ancient fortresses, its deep and verdant moat, and narrow draw-bridge, and mouldering batteries; in its rich and prosperous back country; in its peaceful tranquillity; and above all, in its amiable and intelligent
gent population, one of the most interesting villages in North America. It is probable that no place in the new world has passed through so many and so remarkable changes, as the little town of Annapolis. It was twice deserted by its inhabitants in the earliest years of its history; it has been invested by hostile forces ten times; five times had it surrendered to the prowess of the English, and again been restored to France, when by the treaty of 1713, it was finally ceded to Great Britain. It has repulsed five assaults; the Indians having invested it unsuccessfully three times, and the French twice.
Louisburg, so celebrated in American history, is within the limits of the Province of Nova-Scotia. It is memorable as having been the scene of two remarkable sieges; and its fortifications were so skilfully arranged, and combined great advantages of position with such formidable batteries, that it was for a long time considered as impregnable. It was reserved however for New-England troops, provincial and undisciplined, to remove this impression. It was an army from Massachusetts and the surrounding provinces, that first bid defiance to all its artillery and surmounted all its intrenchments; an army, as Mr Haliburton happily observes, composed of husbandmen and merchants, and pursuing its operations in conformity to a plan which was projected by a lawyer! The first reduction of Louisburg by the New-England yeomanry has justly been regarded as one of the most daring and brilliant military achievements on record. It was besieged again, some years afterwards, by a large army of British regulars and a powerful fleet, and was once more captured. Great skill and courage were displayed on this occasion also.
This place, so famous in the annals of colonial warfare, where the hardy inhabitants of New England prepared themselves, as in a school, for the gallant part which they were afterwards called to bear in the conquest of Quebec, and finally in the war of their own independence, is at present nearly destitute of inhabitants; a few fishermen pursue their humble calling on its banks, but its massive fortifications are all demolished, and its lofty towers are reduced to a level. There is a sublime and affecting contrast between the desolation, which now marks its unpeopled site, and the proud armies that once shone on its ramparts, and busy crowds that once thronged its streets; between the deep silence which broods over its unruffled harbor, and the thunders which were wont to burst along its bosom from embattled navies.
The most remarkable event in the history of Nova-Scotia is the seizure and transportation of the Acadians. The fortune of war had often thrown this province into the hands of the British, previous to its final surrender to them by treaty. Circumstances, however, of various kinds, had prevented its colonization by English people. The French were the first occupants, and had established themselves wherever an opening had been made into the wilderness; and the strong antipathy, incidental to the rivalry between these two nations, rendered the English reluctant to settle with the French, and the French unwilling to receive them. The Indian tribes had been made to sympathize with the French in their peculiar hostility to the English, so that it was extremely dangerous for any of the latter people to reside near them. It was accordingly found, when the country was finally ceded to Great Britain, that the inhabitants were mostly of French descent. As their countrymen gave the name of Acadia to the part of the continent where they resided, they were called Acadians. They spoke the French language, were Roman Catholics, and naturally entertained a strong affection towards the country, which had been the home of their fathers. After the cession of Nova-Scotia to England, they were required to take the oath of allegiance to their new sovereign or to quit the province. They agreed to take the oath, provided it was guarantied to them, that they never should be required to take up arms against their former country, France, or their ancient allies, the Indians. The governor of Nova-Scotia assured them that the condition which they demanded would be assented to; and accordingly they took the oath. The gov
ernment in England, however, refused to sanction the assurance given them by the governor of the province, and peremptorily required that they should unconditionally take the oath. This they unanimously and invariably refused to do; and thus matters stood from year to year, for nearly half a century.
It so happened, that in the of wars the English with the French in Canada, or the Indians, many individuals of the Acadian population were found several times fighting with the latter; and although it is quite evident, that the great body of the Acadians were sincerely peaceable, and had endeavored to keep as much as possible aloof from all contention, yet it was very certain that their sympathies were
prone to direct themselves towards the enemies of the province, and it was well understood that the French missionaries were unwearied in using their influence over them, which was great, in opposition to the English. It is not at all surprising, therefore, that the officers of the British government regarded the presence of the Acadians as highly injurious to the peace, and dangerous to the safety, of the province; and although it was a strong measure, it is perhaps still the opinion of many, that they were authorized to decide, as they did, upon the expulsion of this unfortunate people from Nova-Scotia. But, let that be as it may, it was secretly determined to drive the whole Acadian population from the province; and, as their removal to Canada would only strengthen the power of the great enemy, it was resolved to transport them to different parts of the British American Colonies, and distribute them in such small numbers in the various provinces, that they would not be able to combine together, and would soon become mingled and lost in the great mass of the English population. Before we advert to the execution of this severe decree, let us take a view of the character and condition of the devoted race. In describing them we have no occasion to do more than quote from Mr Haliburton's narrative.
Hunting and fishing, which had formerly been the delight of the colony, and might have still supplied it with subsistence, had no further attraction for a simple and quiet people, and gave way to agriculture, which had been established in the marshes and low lands, by repelling with dikes the sea and rivers which covered these plains. These grounds yielded fifty for one at first, and afterwards fifteen or twenty for one at least; wheat and oats succeeded best in them, but they likewise produced rye, barley, and maize. There were also potatoes in great plenty, the use of which was become common. At the same time these immense meadows were covered with numerous flocks. They computed as many as sixty thousand head of horned cattle; and most families had several horses, though the tillage was carried on by oxen. Their habitations, which were constructed of wood, were extremely convenient, and furnished as neatly as subtantial farmers' houses in Europe. They reared a great deal of poultry of all kinds, which made a variety in their food, at once wholesome and plentiful. Their ordinary drink was beer and cider, to which they sometimes added rum. Their usual clothing was in general the produce of their own flax, or the fleeces of their own sheep; with these they made common linens and coarse cloths. If any of