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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Commanded by the Marquis of La Jonquiere


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shackled by monopolies. The

English were rich, free, and bold; for them the transmission and the exchange of commodities were easy. The commercial rivalry which set in between the two nations was fatal to the French; when the hour of the final struggle came, the Canadians, though brave, resolute, passionately attached to France, and ready for any sacrifice, were few in number compared with their enemies. Scattered over a vast territory, they possessed but poor pecuniary resources, and could expect from the mother country only irregular assistance, subject to variations of gov ernment and fortune as well as to the chances of maritime warfare and engagements at sea, always perilous for the French ships, which were inferior in build and in number, whatever might be the courage and skill of their commanders. The capture of Louisbourg and of the Island of Cape Breton by the English colonists, in 1745, profoundly disquieted the Canadians. They pressed the government to make an attempt upon Acadia. "The population has remained French," they said; "we are ready to fight for our relatives and friends who have passed under the yoke of the foreigner." The ministry sent the Duke of Anville with a considerable fleet; storms and disease destroyed vessels and crews before it had been possible to attack. A fresh squadron, commanded by the Marquis of La Jonquiere, encountered the English off Cape Finisterre in Spain. Admiral Anson had seventeen ships, M. de La Jonquiere had but six; he, however, fought desperately.
"I never saw anybody behave better than the French commander," wrote the captain of the English ship Windsor; "and, to tell the truth, all the officers of that nation showed great courage; not one of them struck until it was absolutely impossible to manoeuvre." The remnants of the French navy, neglected as it had been through the unreflecting economy of Cardinal Fleury, were almost completely destroyed, and England reckoned more than two hundred and fifty ships of war. Neither the successes in the Low Countries and in Germany nor the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle put a serious end to the maritime war; England used her strength to despoil the French forever of the colonies which she envied them. The frontiers of Canada and Acadia had not been clearly defined by the treaties of peace. Distrust and disquiet reigned amongst the French colonists; the ardor of conquest fired the English, who had for a long while coveted the valley of the Ohio and its fertile territories. The covert hostility which often betrayed itself by acts of aggression was destined ere long to lead to open war. An important emigration began amongst the Acadians; they had hitherto claimed the title of neutrals, in spite of the annexation of their territory by England, in order to escape the test oath and to remain faithful to the Catholic faith; the priests and the French agents urged them to do more; more than three thousand Acadians left their fields and their cottages to settle on the French coasts, along the Bay of Fundy. Every effort of the French governors who succeeded one another only too rapidly in Canada was directed towards maintaining the natural or factitious barriers between the two territories. The savages, excited and flattered by both sides, loudly proclaimed their independence and their primitive rights over the country which the Europeans were disputing between themselves. "We have not ceded our lands to anybody," they said; "and we have no mind to obey any king." "Do you know what is the difference between the King of France and the Englishman?" the Iroquois was asked by Marquis Duquesne, the then governor of Canada. "Go and look at the forts which the king had set up, and you will see that the land beneath his walls is still a hunting-ground, he having chosen the spots frequented by you simply to serve your need. The Englishman, on the other hand, is no sooner in possession of land than the game is forced to quit, the woods are felled, the soil is uncovered, and you can scarcely find the wherewithal to shelter yourselves at night."


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