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Title: The Land of Evangeline

Date of first publication: 1921

Author: John F. Herbin (1860-1923)

Date first posted: June 22, 2013

Date last updated: June 22, 2013

Faded Page ebook #20130640

This ebook was produced by: David T. Jones, Pat McCoy, Mardi Desjardins & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net

Land of Evangeline

The authentic story of
her country and
her people


John F. Herbin

Illustrated in color
and black and white.




H. W. Longfellow


Copyright, Canada, 1921

Third Edition
10th Thousand


evangeline's well

Evangeline’s Well

Evangeline’s Land is romantic and beautiful at any time, but in apple-blossom time it is adorable; a riot of blossom everywhere, of purest white, cream and shell pink, and, in the midst of it all in a little hollow or dip in the road one comes upon the tiny village of Grand Pré—straggling down a gentle slope to the basin of Minas. In the Spring the village is almost buried in blossom, and so peaceful now, tho’ the scene of so much sorrow and tragedy in the past, of which one is reminded by Evangeline’s Well, and an old stone cross, which marks the site where the village once stood. A picturesque row of ancient willows, planted by the Acadians, helps to bring back the pathos and tragedy of that time even now.


Evangeline’s WellFrontispiece
Map of The Evangeline Countryviii
Facing Page
At Annapolis Royal
(Old Port Royal)
Bear River16
The Blue Boat24
Blomidon, Low Tide40
Gaspereau River and Blomidon
(Scene of the Deportation)
The Stone Cross
(Acadian Burying Ground)
(From the Painting)
Scotch Covenanter Church
Village Smithy
The Evangeline Statue72
Original Acadian Willow-Trees72

tourist guide

To The

[Pg 1]

The Land of Evangeline

“Sat by some nameless grave, and thought that perhaps in its bosom He was already at rest; and she longed to slumber beside him.”

Grand-Pré, the home of Evangeline, seldom fails to impress the stranger, who sees it for the first time, with a sense of its rich loveliness. It would be difficult to find a more delightful setting for the story of the Acadian maiden, separated from her betrothed lover, Gabriel, and sent into exile with her people.

The country fronting the present Grand-Pré is broadly open to the Basin of Minas. The dyked marshes extend for miles in blocks of pasture, grain, and haylands. Great creeks which once the mighty tides of the Bay of Fundy filled till the meadows were submerged with the turbid waters; red channels of the winding rivers beyond; and the great stretch of the Basin of Minas, purple-fringed by the distant hills, all combine to make this an idyllic setting.

At the time of the Deportation of the Acadians, in 1755, most of the farm land, flanked by the dyked meadows, from the Gaspereau River to Kentville, held the villages and small hamlets of the people. Upon the descending slopes on both sides of the Gaspereau Val[Pg 2]ley that lies south of Grand-Pré, other populous villages, pastures and farms, clustered as far as the present village of the name, Gaspereau.

North and west, as far as Pereau, under the North Mountain, the rich Acadian country of Canard lay upon the banks of the four rivers, fronting always the meadows of marsh that spread away from the swift tidal streams.

This was the Minas country of the Acadian period, divided into two parishes, Grand-Pré and Canard, separated by the present Cornwallis River. In 1750, five years before the removal of the inhabitants, Minas had a population of four thousand. There were thirty-five villages, named after the original founders who came from Port Royal—Gaspereau and Grand-Pré were the only exceptions.

Upon the Grand-Pré meadows may be seen the thirteen sections of dykes raised from time to time, till the whole extent of marsh became enclosed. It was a laborious work for the people, who numbered only four hundred in 1700. Most of the marshes were enclosed during the following forty years as the families grew to manhood, and new settlers came. Upon these lands they had their pastures, hay and grain areas fenced in. Upon the undyked marshes they cut the coarse salt grass.

As the forest lands were cleared of wood, they were used as pastures. Beyond these, stretched the primeval forests on all sides. Orchards of apple and pear, and garden plots lay near the homes. Fish were abundant in the sea beyond. By boat the settlers were[Pg 3] able to pass from place to place, for the rivers made convenient ways for travel.

Grand Pré

While the name Grand-Pré was given in general to the Minas country south and alongside the Cornwallis River, the village of the name was adjoining the Memorial Park land. It had twenty-three inhabitants living upon three farms. The cellars of the three homes may be seen to-day. The largest was on the west side of the Park. The other two, upon the gentle slope south. They were the properties of Pierre Landry, Jean le Sour, and Jacques Terriot—all prominent and prosperous men in the little community.

The knoll of land, consisting of fourteen acres, now called the Grand-Pré Memorial or Historical Park, lies adjoining the dyked lands. It is enclosed by a rustic fence, and is separated by the Dominion Atlantic Railway from the farms on the slope rising to the south. The ground was used for church purposes, and the chapel stood upon the highest part of the knoll. Where the stone cross stands was the burying ground of the Grand-Pré Acadians of the parish of St. Charles. The church land had been given for the purpose by the original Landry, and formed part of his farm. About the year 1687, the first church was built, and enlarged or rebuilt as the population increased. Few dykes had been erected at this time, and the tides of the Basin of Minas came within a few hundred feet of the church land. In the burying ground were laid the first to die in Minas. Melansons, Terriots, Le Blancs, Landrys, and other families mingle their dust there. The cross[Pg 4] without names, built of stone from some of their home foundations, marks where they lie forgotten.

The Presbytery stood on the foundation west of the church site. This was occupied by Colonel Winslow when his troops were encamped about the churchyard, on the eve of the Deportation. The row of willows on the north side of the Park grounds was set out to shield the church from the north winds that swept across the open dyked lands.

The bronze figure of Evangeline (facing p. 72), represented as looking back upon the country of her people as she set out to depart with them from Grand-Pré, will always typify the Deportation of the Acadians, the commencement of the period of exile and wandering. The statue stands upon the old road by which the people reached the church, and is but the commencement of restoration work projected for the Historical Park at Grand-Pré. (At the summit of the slope south this road joined the main highway running from the Gaspereau River to the farther villages of the Acadians.) The statue was modelled by Philippe Hebert, himself a descendant of the Acadian family of the name. Etienne Hebert was one of the first colonists to come to the Minas country from the home colony of Port Royal, now Annapolis Royal. This family increased in numbers in Minas, and two villages bore the name, one in Minas and the other in Canard. There were fifty Heberts at the time of the dispersion.

We may now review the growth of the Acadian Minas from the coming of the first settlers in 1681 to the year 1755, when Colonel John Winslow, with the[Pg 5] New England volunteers, encamped upon the church ground of St. Charles at Grand-Pré. In December of that year the houses and barns, churches and mills of the Acadians were destroyed, and for five years the country was without an inhabitant. We have the names of the older parents, of their children, their possessions. We also have record of the younger married couples who came to make homes in the new country of Minas. The villages grew chiefly in clusters about the establishments of the elders. Dykes were built. Land was cleared of wood for their gardens and orchards. Roads were made connecting all the centres of farm life. Winter roads for their timber, fencing, and firewood were made. Finally, they cut a way through the forests from Halifax to Annapolis Royal. They were increasing in population, and in worldly goods.

The Three First Families

Perhaps before entering directly upon the historical aspects of the Evangeline country, it would be interesting to know something of its outstanding families, members of which figured prominently in the later history of the place.

The three most picturesque and important persons in the history of the Minas country are Pierre Melanson, Pierre Terriot, and René LeBlanc.

The Melansons (Gaspereau)

In a census of the Port Royal people, made in 1671, the name Pierre Melanson appears, but with no account of his family or possessions. He refused to give the[Pg 6] facts asked for. There has been some doubt as to his antecedents, although he was a man of importance, and his name appears in several historical documents. Some think he was the son of the Scotchman, Pierre Melanson, who remained in Acadia after the colony under Sir William Alexander was broken up in 1632.

It has been ascertained, however, that Pierre Melanson was a tailor and farmer of considerable wealth, when he sold his Port Royal property in 1669. He was also Captain of militia, and a man of mark among the oldest inhabitants of that place. His courage and enterprise are shown by his removal to the unsettled country of Minas in 1681. His selection of the Gaspereau Valley for his new home, points to a knowledge of the country, for he settled in the most beautiful and favorable situation in the region. It was at the head of the tide, sheltered, with extensive marshes, and rich uplands suitable for farming. The forests lay upon the hills, the stream teemed with gasperot, salmon, and trout. The Basin of Minas could be easily reached at high tide by boat. Conditions were most favorable for the development of the little colony, and those which soon sprang up in that neighbourhood (Gaspereau) and at Grand-Pré.

The Gaspereau villages grew in importance, and were among the richest and most populous in 1755. The Melansons numbered about eighty souls, and were connected by kinship and marriage with all the Acadian families of Minas.

It was one of the daughters of this Pierre Melanson who married the “Notary Public” of Longfellow’s Evangeline.

[Pg 7]

“Bent like a laboring oar, that toils in the surf of the ocean, Bent, but not broken, by age was the form of the notary public; Shocks of yellow hair, like the silken floss of the maise, hung Over his shoulders; his forehead was high; glasses with horn bows Sat astride his nose, with a look of wisdom supernal. Father of twenty children was he, and more than a hundred Children’s children rode on his knee, and heard his great watch tick.”

Another daughter, Anne, married Thomas Jacasse, and it was their son who later refused to sign the deliberations for the surrender of Quebec.

The Terriots (The Cornwallis)

The next colonist who came to establish himself in Minas was Pierre Terriot from Port Royal. He is an important and interesting figure in the history of the country. His coming dates but a short time after Pierre Melanson’s arrival. Terriot selected the fine situation near Kentville, upon the present Cornwallis River, with natural conditions similar to the Gaspereau Valley. Good upland for farms, and extensive areas of marsh near the head of the tidal stream, afforded favorable means for the development of his farming operations. His home on the south side of the river was ten miles from Melanson’s, and the expansion of growth was each toward the other. The farm areas soon extended alongside the marshes into what became the Grand-Pré district.

Pierre Terriot, like Melanson, came out from Port Royal, where his father had settled before him. Port Royal was the parent colony (1632, under Commander[Pg 8] Razilly) from which all the Acadian districts received their first colonists.

Pierre Terriot was a colonizer, and an interesting figure in the early days of Minas. Although he had no children by his wife Cécile Landry, he encouraged migration from Port Royal to the wilderness, the rich country of Minas that surrounded him. Young couples soon came, relatives of the Terriots and Landrys, and others, who for a time enlarged their holdings more rapidly than those who came to Grand-Pré and Gaspereau. The founder, Terriot, who was in good circumstances, aided the newcomers with grain and stock, and as has always been the custom of the Acadians, the settled people cut the timber, built the foundations and homes, and helped the young couples to start in life.

Pierre Terriot’s home was, moreover, the asylum for orphans and widows, till the children grew up and were able to set up for themselves. The settlers married young, and were encouraged to do so, for they were a home-loving people, and industrious.

“Their dwellings were open as day, and the hearts of the owners; Where the richest was poor, and the poorest lived in abundance.”

The Terriots numbered about fifty, and were also settled in other parts of Nova Scotia. This region seemed to attract the younger people from the older and more thickly settled country of Port Royal. It was favorably situated, more remote from the New England colonies, and so conditioned that all who came could acquire land and make homes.

annapolis royal

At Annapolis Royal
The Old Port Royal

At Annapolis Royal—once the busy capital—one is struck by the peace and content which seems to reign everywhere, and perhaps the most peaceful spot is amongst the grass-grown ramparts of the old Fort—softened and rounded by time, and in summer carpeted with wild flowers. A magnificent sweep of the wide river mouth lies in front, and the Fort, built on a high bluff, looks over the valleys of the Lequille and Annapolis Rivers on either hand. The buildings still standing are the officers’ quarters, which are interesting, and no doubt were considered luxurious in those days, and the old powder magazine, built nearly three centuries ago, and still in excellent repair. A horrible dark dungeon, chill and damp, is built under the ramparts at one angle, and the picturesque sally port is still much as it was in olden days.

[Pg 9] Next to the Grand-Pré Park land, the New Minas relics of the Terriot settlements and the work of their descendants are the most numerous and interesting. Many cellar foundations remain as they were left in 1755 after the houses and barns were burned. The English colonists of 1760 raised their houses farther away from the marshes, so that the Terriot landmarks for the greater part still remain undisturbed. Some of their houses were forty-five feet square, with huge chimneys built outside ten feet square at the ground, traces of which still remain.

The Le Blancs (Grand-Pré)

Among the later arrivals were the Le Blancs, whose children added considerably to the growth of population, and whose importance and prosperity make them outstanding persons in the country.

The first Le Blanc was Daniel, born in France in 1626. Thousands of his descendants are to be found in America to-day. He arrived in Acadia in 1650, with his wife, Françoise Gaudet. He settled in Port Royal about nine miles above the fort. When that place fell to the English under Phipps, in 1690, Le Blanc was among those appointed to administer the affairs of the Province until the arrival of a Governor. His name is found on the census of 1671, 1686, and 1693. He had probably died before the next census in 1698, as his name does not appear then or afterwards. He lived to be about seventy years old, in spite of the trying and laborious period through which the people of Acadia lived.

[Pg 10] The four sons of the first Port Royal Le Blanc settled upon the present Grand-Pré lands very soon after Melanson had become established on the Gaspereau and Terriot on the Cornwallis.

The village, Jean Le Blanc, in 1775, had eight families. Village Pierre Le Blanc had fourteen, and Grand Le Blanc had thirteen. The Le Blancs appeared also in other villages.

This family was related to all the older stock of Acadian families, to be found in 1755 throughout the whole of settled Nova Scotia.

The history of Grand-Pré, by which is meant, the annals of the country contiguous to the Memorial Park, the Grand-Pré of the present day, in a sense, is the family history of the Le Blancs. One member of the family, René, was an historical character.

Other Names

In the census made of Minas in 1618, about five years after Pierre Melanson’s advent to the Gaspereau, the families of

Pierre Melanson
Martin Ancoin,
Phillippe Pinet,
Etienne Hebert(Forebear of the sculptor mentioned previously author of the Evangeline statue),
Noel de la Bove,
Francois la Pierre(or la Roche),
Etienne Rivet,
Pierre Terriot,

[Pg 11] are mentioned with particulars of their worldly condition and size of family.

Three of the Minas inhabitants mentioned on the 1686 list, de la Bove, la Pierre, and Rivet, were newcomers to Acadia, and for some reason failed to make headway in the country. Their descendants were few, and the names disappear from the annals.

The Canard District

The Melansons’, Terriots’, and Le Blancs’ holdings all extended east or west, south of the Cornwallis River. North of this stream, another section was expanding, but more slowly, although conditions were favorable there for colonization.

As the Canard region become populated, crossings were made to reach the villages at low tide over the Cornwallis River. A road was made connecting the up-river settlements with Grand-Pré to the Gaspereau, where the principal centre of Minas developed, with its church, its protected landing-place and port for vessels, its store-house, and the office of the Deputy, where deeds and important documents were kept.

Thus Canard grew, and finally a beautiful church was built there. The Cornwallis River divided the parishes of Canard and Grand-Pré, but the whole region was rapidly growing in population and wealth, till it was entering upon the period preceding the Deportation. A thousand Acadians departed from Minas about 1750, so that in 1755 there were about three thousand remaining in the two parishes.

[Pg 12]

Leading Up to the Expulsion

The French colonists of Nova Scotia were constantly subjected to attacks by British colonial forces. In 1613, Port Royal, again in 1654, La Have, and in 1700, Minas were razed and completely destroyed by these armies. The older Acadians and their sons, accustomed to the conditions of the country, quickly recovered from these attacks. The later comers, however, were not so well fitted to cope with the difficulties of the new life, and the new names died out or did not increase so quickly as the original stock, the hardy, thrifty peasantry from the west coast of France.

These repeated expeditions against the French colonies were the outcome of strong inimical feeling both at home and abroad. The British colonies of America greatly outnumbered the French of Canada and the Province, and the desire to remove the Acadians from the peninsula, and thus break the backbone of the French colonial enterprise, had been growing for several years.

This sorry task finally fell to the lot of Lieutenant-Colonel Winslow, under the specific orders of Governor Lawrence of Halifax. In August, 1755, he came with three hundred men, and in conjunction with Captain Murray, then in command of Fort Edward, arranged the details for the capture and removal of the people.

At the time of Winslow’s arrival with his troops in ships, the priests of Grand-Pré and Canard had been removed to Halifax as prisoners. All the guns owned by the Acadians had been seized, yet the coming of the troops and their use of the church and burying-grounds[Pg 13] as an encampment did not arouse suspicion as to the purpose of the visit. The people had frequently seen both French and English soldiers quartered in their country.

The Acadians were gathering their harvests when Winslow arrived from Cumberland and marched from Gaspereau Landing to the church at Grand-Pré. As we read his own account of that stay, we realize his repugnance at the harsh duty before him—the task of using military force to expel a quiet, happy people from its home-place—particularly in the face of the total inadequacy of ships provided for the purpose.

As the winter set in, the miseries of the people bore heavily upon him, and his feeling in the matter is thinly concealed in the account of the affair as set down in his Journal.

From this same Journal we learn that he used the Presbytery as his headquarters, and that in the churchyard the tents of the soldiers were pitched; that the camp was protected by a pallisade, and that full military discipline was enforced.

The Deportation

The poem, Evangeline, tells the story of the 5th of September, 1755, and what followed.

As the crops were to be gathered early in that dry year, this date was fixed upon for summoning the men and boys of the district to the church to receive their brutal orders—to hear the proclamation declaring them prisoners of the Crown; their homes, their lands, their holdings, confiscate. It was a bitter time for both[Pg 14] those who spoke and heard. It is not difficult to imagine the emotion of Lieutenant-Colonel Winslow, as he delivered his blighting message of exile to these strong sunburnt fathers and sons of Minas, anxiously waiting his words.

When Winslow departed from Grand-Pré in November, all the outlying villages had been destroyed. Canard’s church, the mills, houses, and barns were in ashes. Except for the shelterless animals that wandered about close upon starvation, nothing remained. The inhabitants, carrying with them as many of their household effects as the weather and the cramped accommodations of the ships would permit, had gone. A pitiful season followed. The pathetic scenes of the deportation are almost indescribable. Through military necessity, perhaps fear of insubordination, parent was separated from child, lover from lover, brother from brother. As many as possible were loaded immediately upon the waiting vessels. Six hundred and fifty were quartered about the villages of the Le Blancs, three hundred of whom were embarked in December. A week later, the remainder were sent off, and the houses they had occupied destroyed. The church which the soldiers had used as quarters was probably the last building to stand.

Two Interesting Incidents

Two rather interesting incidents in connection with the Deportation which have come to notice, follow.

Although all records of births, deaths, etc., were destroyed or in part lost, one of the Piziquid exiles carried the deed of his grandfather’s property with him[Pg 15] to Philadelphia. The writer saw this document in 1920, still held by a descendant as a precious relic.

René Le Blanc, mentioned above as figuring in history, came to notice at this time in the following manner. Winslow, evidently touched by the man’s age and gentleness of character, made a special request to headquarters that Le Blanc be permitted to return to his home in Marshfield, but the old man was sent to New York with his wife and two children, out of the twenty of his family. His grandchildren numbered over a hundred. Later he found three more of his children in Philadelphia, where René died.

The Acadians were scattered throughout the British colonies. A few who escaped, wandered over the country to be later apprehended and deported. A number more found their way unharmed into the wilderness of New Brunswick, but by 1763 there were less than 1,500 who had escaped the removal.

There is a tradition based upon traces of dwellings found in the woods south of New Minas, that a few escaped Acadians lived there through the following winter. These few either were captured or later joined those retreating into New Brunswick.

After the expulsion of the French settlers, Great Britain, to induce settlers to come to the country of Horton and Cornwallis from the older English colonies, sent out an invitation with a description of the country:—

“One hundred thousand acres, of which the country has produced wheat, rye, barley, oats, hemp, flax, etc., without failure for the last century; and another[Pg 16] hundred thousand acres are cleared and stocked with English grass, planted orchards and embellished with gardens, the whole so intermixed that every individual farmer might have a proportionate quantity of plowed land, grassland, and woodland.”

This appeared in 1759. In June, the next year, after the country was viewed by agents from New England, the people came to occupy the vacated lands. With the assistance of the Acadian prisoners remaining at Fort Edward, the dykes were repaired, and the country began to thrive with new life upon the grave of the old.

The last written trace of the Acadians in a body, appears in an order issued from Halifax in 1762, causing one hundred and thirty of them to be sent from Hants and King’s counties, where they were working for English inhabitants.

For the English settlers, the farm lands were divided into hundred-acre lots. New roads were laid out, and the old Acadian landmarks are now gradually disappearing. A single farm to-day perhaps occupies the site of a whole village of Acadian times. Willows still mark roads or the buried foundations of their homes. Their apple trees yet bear fruit, sometimes found among the wild, recent growth, or in pastures. Roads and dykes may be traced, and numerous cellars in out-of-the-way places where they have not been disturbed.

In the history of the English colonies during the next twenty years following upon the re-settlement of the Acadian country of Grand-Pré, affairs went topsy-turvy. French Canada was lost to France through the operations and strength of the colonies under English rule. New England strengthened Nova Scotia for England by removing the Acadians, and then bringing her people to the deserted farmlands.

bear river

Bear River

Bear River nestles deep down in a little valley about five miles from the sea on a river from which it takes its name. At low tide there is very little river to be seen—it is reduced to a tiny stream that seems to trickle with difficulty through vast stretches of mud. But when the tide does come up it alters the whole appearance, and the place seems to come to life again as the strong current pushes its way up—running far up the little streams, and beneath the houses, which are built out over the river bed, at the bridge, on high wooden gates—giving a wonderfully picturesque effect, and reflecting all shades of color. The town scrambles up the steep hills, which rise sharply on either side, and beautiful views of the winding river may be seen from almost any point, and quantities of cherry trees everywhere add to the picturesqueness—whether in blossom or laden with the ripe fruit.

[Pg 17]

Conclusion—Acadia Then and Now

The memory of the courageous heart-high peasantry that first peopled and made home of a wilderness, remains fresh in the present-day Acadia.

The garden-plots cleared upon the uplands near their homes, their orchards laid out in rugged rows, still bloom for us who know that country. We still find the roads leading to the dykes by the rivers, even traces of the trails originally reaching back to the wild pastures; the dykes upon which so much time and labor were expended season after season—an arduous work when Acadia’s population was yet so small. The wild luxurious beauty of the place to-day, its blossoms, its fruit, its vivid dunes, its picturesque water-ways, the daily romance of the rushing tide for which the little boats thirst on the sand hour by hour—bring back afresh the quaint pictures of its early days. The quiet grazing cattle might still be the hardy kine that lived through those early winters on the abundant after-feed of the settler’s dyked lands. Every aspect of the place, the almost hidden ruins here and there, Evangeline’s well, the rough stone cross that marks the grave of a village, the virility of the bronze Evangeline, make real the pathos of this people now scattered broadcast through America, in whose souls the love of their country, Acadia, is as potent now as then. Neither time nor the Deportation have caused them to lose[Pg 18] their identity as a distinct people, for a quarter of a million in America are the same Acadians who went into exile from Nova Scotia from 1755 to 1763.

The Origin of “Evangeline”

There is a close connection between the story which supplied the basis of the poem, Evangeline, and the Acadian people. In 1838, Hawthorne entered in his Note-Books the following:

“H. L. C.—Heard from a French-Canadian a story of a young couple in Acadie. On their marriage day all the men of the Province were summoned to assemble in the church to hear a proclamation. When assembled, they were seized and shipped off to be distributed through New England, among them the new bridegroom. His bride set off in search of him, wandered about New England all her lifetime, and at last found her bridegroom on his deathbed. The shock was so great it killed her likewise.”

Longfellow’s final decision to adopt the name Evangeline for his poem, rather than Gabrielle (which was the name of the heroine of Mrs. Williams’ story of “The Acadian Exile”) has given existence to a character that will live for all time.

Origin of Names in “Evangeline”

Another name to be perpetuated by history is Acadie, or Acadia as it is known at the present time. Whether we accept the statement or not that the Italian navigator, Verrazano, who explored the American coast as far as New York, called the country “Arcadie”, because of the magnificence of the trees, there will be[Pg 19] preference for the Micmac Indian origin of the name, “Acadie.” The country was visited by Breton and Basque fishermen a hundred years before the settlement of Port Royal in 1605. From that time the Maritime countries of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and part of the State of Maine, were named Acadie. Many places to-day retain their original Micmac names. We have Benacadie, Katakaddy, Shubenacadie, Shunacadie, with the meaning, “abundance of,” or “the place of” certain things. As we know, Nova Scotia is in truth Acadie.

The Bay of Fundy comes from “au fond du Baie,” as the Port Royal people designated the head of that great tidal stream. The discovery of native copper and coal led to the naming of the headland at the upper end of the Bay of Fundy, “Les Mines.” This name was extended to designate the country about the Basin of Minas connected by Minas Channel with the great Bay.

Grand-Pré and Canard, the original names of the Acadian period, are still used to distinguish the townships of Horton and Cornwallis. The Gaspereau River and Valley, New Minas, Habitant and Pereau, remain the memories of the Acadian period.

[Pg 20]
[Pg 21]


Thousands of throbbing hearts, where theirs are at rest and forever, Thousands of aching brains, where theirs no longer are busy, Thousands of toiling hands, where theirs have ceased from their labours, Thousands of weary feet, where theirs have completed their journey!

[Pg 22]
[Pg 23]



This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, Stand like Druids of old, with voices sad and prophetic, Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms. Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighbouring ocean5 Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman? Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers,— Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the wood-lands,10 Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven? Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers for ever departed! Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o’er the ocean. Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pré.15
[Pg 24]Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient, Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman’s devotion, List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest; List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.
blue boat

The Blue Boat

The two or three rivers which flow into the Basin of Minas at Five Islands are all picturesque with their old fishing boats stranded high and dry or afloat. It is fascinating to watch the great schooners make their way up on the tide to some lumber mill or wharf a mile or so inland, where at low tide even the smallest boat can scarcely pass. There is a fascination, too, in the tides, as they race over the great flat stretches—a steady onward flow, swift and relentless, till the water once more washes round the crumbling sandstone cliffs, floating the laden schooners and the tiny fishing boats which hurry away on the tide, and somehow leave one feeling forlorn, till they come back once more on the next tide.

Part the First.


In the Acadian land, on the shores of the Basin of Minas,20 Distant, secluded, still, the little village of Grand-Pré Lay in the fruitful valley. Vast meadows stretched to the eastward, Giving the village its name, and pasture to flocks without number. Dikes, that the hands of the farmers had raised with labour incessant, Shut out the turbulent tides; but at stated seasons the flood-gates25 Opened and welcomed the sea to wander at will o’er the meadows. West and south there were fields of flax, and orchards and cornfields Spreading afar and unfenced o’er the plain; and away to the northward Blomidon rose, and the forests old, and aloft on the mountains Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the mighty Atlantic30 Looked on the happy valley, but ne’er from their station descended. There, in the midst of its farms, reposed the Acadian village. Strongly built were the houses, with frames of oak and of hemlock, Such as the peasants of Normandy built in the reign of the Henries. [Pg 25] Thatched were the roofs, with dormer-windows; and gables projecting35 Over the basement below protected and shaded the doorway. There in the tranquil evenings of summer, when brightly the sunset Lighted the village street, and gilded the vanes on the chimneys, Matrons and maidens sat in snow-white caps and in kirtles Scarlet and blue and green, with distaffs spinning the golden40 Flax for the gossiping looms, whose noisy shuttles within doors Mingled their sound with the whir of the wheels and the songs of the maidens. Solemnly down the street came the parish priest, and the children Paused in their play to kiss the hand he extended to bless them. Reverend walked he among them; and up rose matrons and maidens.45 Hailing his slow approach with words of affectionate welcome. Then came the labourers home from the field, and serenely the sun sank Down to his rest, and twilight prevailed. Anon from the belfry Softly the Angelus sounded, and over the roofs of the village Columns of pale blue smoke, like clouds of incense ascending,50 Rose from a hundred hearths, the homes of peace and contentment. Thus dwelt together in love these 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;55 But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts of the owners; There the richest was poor, and the poorest lived in abundance.
[Pg 26] Somewhat apart from the village, and nearer the Basin of Minas, Benedict Bellefontaine, the wealthiest farmer of Grand Pré, Dwelt on his goodly acres; and with him, directing his household,60 Gentle Evangeline lived, his child, and the pride of the village. Stalworth and stately in form was the man of seventy winters; Hearty and hale was he, an oak that is covered with snow-flakes; White as the snow were his locks, and his cheeks as brown as the oak-leaves. Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers;65 Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the wayside, Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses! Sweet was her breath as the breath of kine that feed in the meadows. When in the harvest heat she bore to the reapers at noon-tide Flagons of home-brewed ale, ah! fair in sooth was the maiden.70 Fairer was she when, on Sunday morn, while the bell from its turret Sprinkled with holy sounds the air, as the priest with his hyssop Sprinkles the congregation, and scatters blessings upon them, Down the long street she passed, with her chaplet of beads and her missal, Wearing her Norman cap and her kirtle of blue, and the ear-rings75 Brought in the olden times from France, and since, as an heirloom, Handed down from mother to child, through long generations. But a celestial brightness—a more ethereal beauty— Shone on her face and encircled her form, when, after confession, [Pg 27] Homeward serenely she walked with God’s benediction upon her.80 When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.
Firmly builded with rafters of oak, the house of the farmer Stood on the side of a hill commanding the sea; and a shady Sycamore grew by the door, with a woodbine wreathing around it. Rudely carved was the porch, with seats beneath; and a footpath85 Led through an orchard wide, and disappeared in the meadow. Under the sycamore-tree were hives overhung by a penthouse, Such as the traveller sees in regions remote by the roadside, Built o’er a box for the poor, or the blessed image of Mary. Farther down, on the slope of the hill, was the well with its moss-grown90 Bucket, fastened with iron, and near it a trough for the horses. Shielding the house from storms, on the north, were the barns and the farm-yard; There stood the broad-wheeled wains and the antique ploughs and the harrows; There were the folds for the sheep; and there, in his feathered seraglio, Strutted the lordly turkey, and crowed the cock, with the selfsame95 Voice that in ages of old had startled the penitent Peter. Bursting with hay were the barns, themselves a village. In each one Far o’er the gable projected a roof of thatch; and a staircase, Under the sheltering eaves, led up to the odorous corn-loft. There too the dove-cot stood, with its meek and innocent inmates100 [Pg 28] Murmuring ever of love; while above in the variant breezes Numberless noisy weathercocks rattled and sang of mutation.
Thus, at peace with God and the world, the farmer of Grand-Pré Lived on his sunny farm, and Evangeline governed his household. Many a youth, as he knelt in the church and opened his missal,105 Fixed his eyes upon her as the saint of his deepest devotion; Happy was he who might touch her hand or the hem of her garment! Many a suitor came to her door, by the darkness befriended, And as he knocked and waited to hear the sound of her footsteps, Knew not which beat the louder, his heart or the knocker of iron;110 Or, at the joyous feast of the Patron Saint of the village, Bolder grew, and pressed her hand in the dance as he whispered Hurried words of love, that seemed a part of the music. But among all who came young Gabriel only was welcome; Gabriel Lajeunesse, the son of Basil the blacksmith,115 Who was a mighty man in the village, and honoured 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. Basil was Benedict’s friend. Their children from earliest childhood Grew up together as brother and sister; and Father Felician,120 Priest and pedagogue both in the village, had taught them their letters Out of the selfsame book, with the hymns of the church and the plain-song. But when the hymn was sung, and the daily lesson completed, [Pg 29] Swiftly they hurried away to the forge of Basil the blacksmith. There at the door they stood, with wondering eyes to behold him125 Take in his leathern lap the hoof of the horse as a plaything, Nailing the shoe in its place; while near him the tire of the cart-wheel Lay like a fiery snake, coiled round in a circle of cinders. Oft on autumnal eves, when without in the gathering darkness Bursting with light seemed the smithy, through every cranny and crevice,130 Warm by the forge within they watched the labouring bellows, And as its panting ceased, and the sparks expired in the ashes, Merrily laughed, and said they were nuns going into the chapel. Oft on sledges in winter, as swift as the swoop of the eagle, Down the hillside bounding, they glided away o’er the meadow.135 Oft in the barns they climbed to the populous nests on the rafters, Seeking with eager eyes that wondrous stone, which the swallow Brings from the shore of the sea to restore the sight of its fledglings; Lucky was he who found that stone in the nest of the swallow! Thus passed a few swift years, and they no longer were children.140 He was a valiant youth, and his face, like the face of the morning, Gladdened the earth with its light, and ripened thought into action. She was a woman now, with the heart and hopes of a woman. “Sunshine of Saint Eulalie” was she called; for that was the sunshine Which, as the farmers believed, would load their orchards with apples;145 [Pg 30] She too would bring to her husband’s house delight and abundance, Filling it full of love and the ruddy faces of children.


Now had the season returned, when the nights grow colder and longer, And the retreating sun the sign of the Scorpion enters. Birds of passage sailed through the leaden air, from the ice-bound,150 Desolate northern bays to the shores of tropical islands. Harvests were gathered in; and wild with the winds of September Wrestled the trees of the forest, as Jacob of old with the angel. All the signs foretold a winter long and inclement. Bees, with prophetic instinct of want, had hoarded their honey155 Till the hives overflowed; and the Indian hunters asserted Cold would the winter be, for thick was the fur of the foxes. Such was the advent of autumn. Then followed that beautiful season, Called by the pious Acadian peasants the Summer of All-Saints! Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape160 Lay as if new-created in all the freshness of childhood. Peace seemed to reign upon earth, and the restless heart of the ocean Was for a moment consoled. All sounds were in harmony blended. Voices of children at play, the crowing of cocks in the farm-yards, Whir of wings in the drowsy air, and the cooing of pigeons,165 All were subdued and low as the murmurs of love, and the great sun Looked with the eye of love through the golden vapours around him; [Pg 31] While arrayed in its robes of russet and scarlet and yellow, Bright with the sheen of the dew, each glittering tree of the forest Flashed like the plane-tree the Persian adorned with mantles and jewels.170
Now recommenced the reign of rest and affection and stillness. Day with its burden and heat had departed, and twilight descending Brought back the evening star to the sky, and the herds to the homestead. Pawing the ground they came, and resting their necks on each other, And with their nostrils distended inhaling the freshness of evening.175 Foremost, bearing the bell, Evangeline’s beautiful heifer, Proud of her snow-white hide, and the ribbon that waved from her collar, Quietly paced and slow, as if conscious of human affection. Then came the shepherd back with his bleating flocks from the seaside, Where was their favourite pasture. Behind them followed the watch-dog,180 Patient, full of importance, and grand in the pride of his instinct, Walking from side to side with a lordly air, and superbly Waving his bushy tail, and urging forward the stragglers; Regent of flocks was he when the shepherd slept; their protector, When from the forest at night, through the starry silence, the wolves howled.185 Late, with the rising moon, returned the wains from the marshes, Laden with briny hay, that filled the air with its odour. Cheerily neighed the steeds with dew on their manes and their fetlocks, While aloft on their shoulders the wooden and ponderous saddles, Painted with brilliant dyes, and adorned with tassels of crimson,190 [Pg 32] Nodded in bright array, like hollyhocks heavy with blossoms. Patiently stood the cows meanwhile, and yielded their udders Unto the milkmaid’s hand; whilst loud and in regular cadence Into the sounding pails the foaming streamlets descended. Lowing of cattle and peals of laughter were heard in the farm-yard,195 Echoed back by the barns. Anon they sank into stillness; Heavily closed, with a jarring sound, the valves of the barn-doors, Rattled the wooden bars, and all for a season was silent.
In-doors, warm by the wide-mouthed fireplace, idly the farmer Sat in his elbow-chair, and watched how the flames and the smoke-wreaths200 Struggled together like foes in a burning city. Behind him, Nodding and mocking along the wall with gestures fantastic, Darted his own huge shadow, and vanished away into darkness. Faces, clumsily carved in oak, on the back of his arm-chair Laughed in the flickering light, and the pewter plates on the dresser205 Caught and reflected the flame, as shields of armies the sunshine. Fragments of song the old man sang, and carols of Christmas, Such as at home, in the olden time, his fathers before him Sang in their Norman orchards and bright Burgundian vineyards. Close at her father’s side was the gentle Evangeline seated,210 Spinning flax for the loom that stood in the corner behind her. Silent awhile were its treadles, at rest was its diligent shuttle, While the monotonous drone of the wheel, like the drone of a bagpipe, [Pg 33] Followed the old man’s song, and united the fragments together. As in a church, when the chant of the choir at intervals ceases,215 Footfalls are heard in the aisles, or words of the priest at the altar, So, in each pause of the song, with measured motion the clock clicked.
Thus as they sat, there were footsteps heard, and, suddenly lifted, Sounded the wooden latch, and the door swung back on its hinges. Benedict knew by the hob-nailed shoes it was Basil the blacksmith,220 And by her beating heart Evangeline knew who was with him. “Welcome!” the farmer exclaimed, as their footsteps paused on the threshold, “Welcome, Basil, my friend! Come, take thy place on the settle Close by the chimney-side, which is always empty without thee; Take from the shelf overhead thy pipe and the box of tobacco;225 Never so much thyself art thou as when, through the curling Smoke of the pipe or the forge, thy friendly and jovial face gleams Round and red as the harvest moon through the mist of the marshes.” Then, with a smile of content, thus answered Basil the blacksmith, Taking with easy air the accustomed seat by the fireside:—230 “Benedict Bellefontaine, thou hast ever thy jest and thy ballad! Ever in cheerfullest mood art thou, when others are filled with Gloomy forebodings of ill, and see only ruin before them. Happy art thou, as if every day thou hadst picked up a horseshoe.” [Pg 34] Pausing a moment, to take the pipe that Evangeline brought him,235 And with a coal from the embers had lighted, he slowly continued:— “Four days now are passed since the English ships at their anchors Bide in the Gaspereau’s mouth, with their cannon pointed against us. What their design may be is unknown; but all are commanded On the morrow to meet in the church, where his Majesty’s mandate240 Will be proclaimed as law in the land. Alas! in the meantime Many surmises of evil alarm the hearts of the people.” Then made answer the farmer:—“Perhaps some friendlier purpose Brings these ships to our shores. Perhaps the harvests in England By untimely rains or untimelier heat have been blighted,245 And from our bursting barns they would feed their cattle and children.” “Not so thinketh the folk in the village,” said warmly the blacksmith, Shaking his head as in doubt; then, heaving a sigh, he continued:— “Louisburg is not forgotten, nor Beau Séjour, nor Port Royal. Many already have fled to the forest, and lurk on its outskirts,250 Waiting with anxious hearts the dubious fate of to-morrow. Arms have been taken from us, and warlike weapons of all kinds; Nothing is left but the blacksmith’s sledge and the scythe of the mower.” Then with a pleasant smile made answer the jovial farmer:— “Safer are we unarmed, in the midst of our flocks and our cornfields,255 Safer within these peaceful dikes besieged by the ocean, [Pg 35] Than our fathers in forts, besieged by the enemy’s cannon. Fear no evil, my friend, and to-night may no shadow of sorrow Fall on this house and hearth; for this is the night of the contract. Built are the house and the barn. The merry lads of the village260 Strongly have built them and well; and, breaking the glebe round about them, Filled the barn with hay, and the house with food for a twelvemonth. René Leblanc will be here anon, with his papers and ink-horn. Shall we not then be glad, and rejoice in the joy of our children?” As apart by the window she stood, with her hand in her lover’s,265 Blushing Evangeline heard the words that her father had spoken, And as they died on his lips, the worthy notary entered.


Bent like a labouring oar, that toils in the surf of the ocean, Bent, but not broken, by age was the form of the notary public; Shocks of yellow hair, like the silken floss of the maize, hung 270 Over his shoulders; his forehead was high; and glasses with horn bows Sat astride on his nose, with a look of wisdom supernal. Father of twenty children was he, and more than a hundred Children’s children rode on his knee, and heard his great watch tick. Four long years in the times of the war had he languished a captive,275 Suffering much in an old French fort as the friend of the English. Now, though warier grown, without all guile or suspicion, [Pg 36] Ripe in wisdom was he, but patient, and simple, and child-like. He was beloved by all, and most of all by the children; For he told them tales of the Loup-garou in the forest,280 And of the goblin that came in the night to water the horses, And of the white Létiche, the ghost of a child who unchristened Died, and was doomed to haunt unseen the chambers of children; And how on Christmas eve the oxen talked in the stable, And how the fever was cured by a spider shut up in a nutshell,285 And of the marvellous powers of four-leaved clover and horseshoes, With whatsoever else was writ in the lore of the village. Then up rose from his seat by the fireside Basil the blacksmith, Knocked from his pipe the ashes, and slowly extending his right hand, “Father Leblanc,” he exclaimed, “thou hast heard the talk in the village,290 And, perchance, canst tell us some news of these ships and their errand.” Then with modest demeanour made answer the notary public,— “Gossip enough have I heard, in sooth, yet am never the wiser; And what their errand may be I know no better than others. Yet am I not of those who imagine some evil intention295 Brings them here, for we are at peace; and why then molest us?” “God’s name!” shouted the hasty and somewhat irascible blacksmith; “Must we in all things look for the how, and the why, and the wherefore? Daily injustice is done, and might is the right of the strongest!” But, without heeding his warmth, continued the notary public,—300 “Man is unjust, but God is just; and finally justice [Pg 37] Triumphs; and well I remember a story, that often consoled me, When as a captive I lay in the old French fort at Port Royal.” This was the old man’s favourite tale, and he loved to repeat it When his neighbours complained that any injustice was done them.305 “Once in an ancient city, whose name I no longer remember, Raised aloft on a column a brazen statue of Justice Stood in the public square, upholding the scales in its left hand, And in its right a sword, as an emblem that justice presided Over the laws of the land, and the hearts and homes of the people.310 Even the birds had built their nests in the scales of the balance, Having no fear of the sword that flashed in the sunshine above them. But in the course of time the laws of the land were corrupted; Might took the place of right, and the weak were oppressed, and the mighty Ruled with an iron rod. Then it chanced in a nobleman’s palace315 That a necklace of pearls was lost, and ere long a suspicion Fell on an orphan girl who lived as maid in the household. She, after form of trial condemned to die on the scaffold, Patiently met her doom at the foot of the statue of Justice. As to her Father in heaven her innocent spirit ascended,320 Lo! o’er the city a tempest rose; and the bolts of the thunder Smote the statue of bronze, and hurled in wrath from its left hand Down on the pavement below the clattering scales of the balance, And in the hollow thereof was found the nest of a magpie, Into whose clay-built walls the necklace of pearls was in-woven.”325 [Pg 38] Silenced, but not convinced, when the story was ended, the blacksmith Stood like a man who fain would speak, but findeth no language; All his thoughts were congealed into lines on his face, as the vapours Freeze in fantastic shapes on the window-panes in the winter.
Then Evangeline lighted the brazen lamp on the table,330 Filled, till it overflowed, the pewter tankard with home-brewed Nut-brown ale, that was famed for its strength in the village of Grand-Pré; While from his pocket the notary drew his papers and ink-horn, Wrote with a steady hand the date and the age of the parties, Naming the dower of the bride in flocks of sheep and in cattle.335 Orderly all things proceeded, and duly and well were completed, And the great seal of the law was set like a sun on the margin. Then from his leathern pouch the farmer threw on the table Three times the old man’s fee in solid pieces of silver; And the notary rising, and blessing the bride and bridegroom,340 Lifted aloft the tankard of ale and drank to their welfare. Wiping the foam from his lip, he solemnly bowed and departed, While in silence the others sat and mused by the fireside, Till Evangeline brought the draught-board out of its corner. Soon was the game begun. In friendly contention the old men345 Laughed at each lucky hit, or unsuccessful manœuvre, Laughed when a man was crowned, or a breach was made in the king-row. Meanwhile apart, in the twilight gloom of a window’s embrasure, Sat the lovers and whispered together, beholding the moon rise [Pg 39] Over the pallid sea and the silvery mist of the meadows.350 Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
Thus was the evening passed. Anon the bell from the belfry Rang out the hour of nine, the village curfew, and straightway Rose the guests and departed; and silence reigned in the household.355 Many a farewell word and sweet good-night on the door-step Lingered long in Evangeline’s heart, and filled it with gladness. Carefully then were covered the embers that glowed on the hearth-stone, And on the oaken stairs resounded the tread of the farmer. Soon with a soundless step the foot of Evangeline followed.360 Up the staircase moved a luminous space in the darkness, Lighted less by the lamp than the shining face of the maiden. Silent she passed through the hall, and entered the door of her chamber. Simple that chamber was, with its curtains of white, and its clothes-press Ample and high, on whose spacious shelves were carefully folded365 Linen and woollen stuffs, by the hand of Evangeline woven. This was the precious dower she would bring to her husband in marriage, Better than flocks and herds, being proofs of her skill as a housewife. Soon she extinguished her lamp, for the mellow and radiant moonlight Streamed through the windows, and lighted the room, till the heart of the maiden370 Swelled and obeyed its power, like the tremulous tides of the ocean. [Pg 40] Ah! she was fair, exceeding fair to behold, as she stood with Naked snow-white feet on the gleaming floor of her chamber! Little she dreamed that below, among the trees of the orchard, Waited her lover and watched for the gleam of her lamp and her shadow.375 Yet were her thoughts of him, and at times a feeling of sadness Passed o’er her soul, as the sailing shade of clouds in the moonlight Flitted across the floor and darkened the room for a moment. And, as she gazed from the window, she saw serenely the moon pass Forth from the folds of a cloud, and one star follow her footsteps,380 As out of Abraham’s tent young Ishmael wandered with Hagar.


Showing the path of the retreating water from the land. At high tide the water reaches up the cliffs, covering marsh and filling stream . . . .

gaspereau river


Scene of the Deportation.

[Pg 42]

stone cross



Pleasantly rose next morn the sun on the village of Grand-Pré. Pleasantly gleamed in the soft, sweet air the Basin of Minas, Where the ships, with their wavering shadows, were riding at anchor. Life had long been astir in the village, and clamorous labour385 Knocked with its hundred hands at the golden gates of the morning. Now from the country around, from the farms and neighbouring hamlets, Came in their holiday dresses the blithe Acadian peasants. Many a glad good-morrow and jocund laugh from the young folk Made the bright air brighter, as up from the numerous meadows,390 [Pg 41]
[Pg 43]
Where no path could be seen but the track of wheels in the greensward,
Group after group appeared, and joined, or passed on the highway. Long ere noon, in the village all sounds of labour were silenced. Thronged were the streets with people; and noisy groups at the house-doors Sat in the cheerful sun, and rejoiced and gossiped together.395 Every house was an inn, where all were welcomed and feasted; For with this simple people, who lived like brothers together, All things were held in common, and what one had was another’s. Yet under Benedict’s roof hospitality seemed more abundant: For Evangeline stood among the guests of her father;400 Bright was her face with smiles, and words of welcome and gladness Fell from her beautiful lips, and blessed the cup as she gave it.
Under the open sky, in the odorous air of the orchard, Stript of its golden fruit, was spread the feast of betrothal. There in the shade of the porch were the priest and the notary seated;405 There good Benedict sat, and sturdy Basil the blacksmith. Not far withdrawn from these, by the cider-press and the beehives, Michael the fiddler was placed, with the gayest of hearts and of waistcoats. Shadow and light from the leaves alternately played on his snow-white Hair, as it waved in the wind; and the jolly face of the fiddler410 Glowed like a living coal when the ashes are blown from the embers. Gaily the old man sang to the vibrant sound of his fiddle, Tous les Bourgeois de Chartres, and Le Carillon de Dunkerque, [Pg 44] And anon with his wooden shoes beat time to the music. Merrily, merrily whirled the wheels of the dizzying dances415 Under the orchard-trees and down the path to the meadows; Old folk and young together, and children mingled among them. Fairest of all the maids was Evangeline, Benedict’s daughter! Noblest of all the youths was Gabriel, son of the blacksmith!
So passed the morning away. And lo! with a summons sonorous420 Sounded the bell from its tower, and over the meadows a drum beat. Thronged ere long was the church with men. Without, in the churchyard, Waited the women. They stood by the graves, and hung on the headstones Garlands of autumn-leaves and evergreens fresh from the forest. Then came the guard from the ships, and marching proudly among them 425 Entered the sacred portal. With loud and dissonant clangor Echoed the sound of their brazen drums from ceiling and casement,— Echoed a moment only, and slowly the ponderous portal Closed, and in silence the crowd awaited the will of the soldiers. Then uprose their commander, and spake from the steps of the altar,430 Holding aloft in his hands, with its seals, the royal commission. “You are convened this day,” he said, “by his Majesty’s orders. Clement and kind has he been; but how you have answered his kindness Let your own hearts reply! To my natural make and my temper Painful the task is I do, which to you I know must be grievous.435 Yet must I bow and obey, and deliver the will of our monarch: [Pg 45] Namely, that all your lands, and dwellings, and cattle of all kinds Forfeited be to the crown; and that you yourselves from this province Be transported to other lands. God grant you may dwell there Ever as faithful subjects, a happy and peaceable people!440 Prisoners now I declare you, for such is his Majesty’s pleasure!” As, when the air is serene in the sultry solstice of summer, Suddenly gathers a storm, and the deadly sling of the hailstones Beats down the farmer’s corn in the field, and shatters his windows, Hiding the sun, and strewing the ground with thatch from the house-roofs,445 Bellowing fly the herds, and seek to break their enclosures; So on the hearts of the people descended the words of the speaker. Silent a moment they stood in speechless wonder, and then rose Louder and ever louder a wail of sorrow and anger, And, by one impulse moved, they madly rushed to the door-way.450 Vain was the hope of escape; and cries and fierce imprecations Rang through the house of prayer; and high o’er the heads of the others Rose with his arms uplifted, the figure of Basil the blacksmith, As, on a stormy sea, a spar is tossed by the billows. Flushed was his face and distorted with passion; and wildly he shouted,—455 “Down with the tyrants of England! we never have sworn them allegiance! Death to these foreign soldiers, who seize on our homes and our harvests!” More he fain would have said, but the merciless hand of a soldier Smote him upon the mouth, and dragged him down to the pavement.
[Pg 46] In the midst of the strife and tumult of angry contention,460 Lo! the door of the chancel opened, and Father Felician Entered, with serious mien, and ascended the steps of the altar. Raising his reverend hand, with a gesture he awed into silence All that clamorous throng; and thus he spake to his people; Deep were his tones and solemn; in accents measured and mournful 465 Spake he, as, after the tocsin’s alarum, distinctly the clock strikes. “What is this that ye do, my children? what madness has seized you? Forty years of my life have I laboured among you, and taught you, Not in word alone, but in deed, to love one another! Is this the fruit of my toils, of my vigils and prayers and privations?470 Have you so soon forgotten all lessons of love and forgiveness? This is the house of the Prince of Peace, and would you profane it Thus with violent deeds and hearts overflowing with hatred? Lo! where the crucified Christ from His cross is gazing upon you! See! in those sorrowful eyes what meekness and holy compassion!475 Hark! how those lips still repeat the prayer, ‘O Father, forgive them!’ Let us repeat that prayer in the hour when the wicked assail us, Let us repeat it now, and say, ‘O Father, forgive them!’” Few were his words of rebuke, but deep in the hearts of his people Sank they, and sobs of contrition succeeded the passionate outbreak,480 While they repeated his prayer, and said, “O Father, forgive them!”
Then came the evening service. The tapers gleamed from the altar; Fervent and deep was the voice of the priest, and the people responded. Not with their lips alone, but their hearts; and the Ave Maria Sang they, and fell on their knees, and their souls, with devotion translated,485 Rose on the ardour of prayer, like Elijah ascending to heaven.
Meanwhile had spread in the village the tidings of ill, and on all sides Wandered, wailing, from house to house the women and children. Long at her father’s door Evangeline stood, with her right hand Shielding her eyes from the level rays of the sun, that, descending,490 Lighted the village street with mysterious splendour, and roofed each Peasant’s cottage with golden thatch, and emblazoned its windows. Long within had been spread the snow-white cloth on the table; There stood the wheaten loaf, and the honey fragrant with wild flowers; There stood the tankard of ale, and the cheese fresh brought from the dairy;495 And at the head of the board the great arm-chair of the farmer. Thus did Evangeline wait at her father’s door, as the sunset Threw the long shadows of trees o’er the broad ambrosial meadows. Ah! on her spirit within a deeper shadow had fallen. And from the fields of her soul a fragrance celestial ascended,—500 Charity, meekness, love, and hope, and forgiveness and patience! Then all forgetful of self she wandered into the village, Cheering with looks and words the mournful hearts of the women, As o’er the darkening fields with lingering steps they departed. Urged by their household cares, and the weary feet of their children.505 Down sank the great red sun, and in golden, glimmering vapours Veiled the light of his face, like the Prophet descending from Sinai. Sweetly over the village the bell of the Angelus sounded.
Meanwhile, amid the gloom, by the church Evangeline lingered. All was silent within; and in vain at the door and the windows510 Stood she, and listened and looked, until overcome by emotion, “Gabriel!” cried she aloud with tremulous voice; but no answer Came from the graves of the dead, nor the gloomier grave of the living. Slowly at length she returned to the tenantless house of her father. Smouldered the fire on the hearth, on the board was the supper untasted. 515 Empty and drear was each room, and haunted with phantoms of terror. Sadly echoed her step on the stair and the floor of her chamber. In the dead of the night she heard the disconsolate rain fall Loud on the withered leaves of the sycamore-tree by the window. Keenly the lightning flashed; and the voice of the echoing thunder520 Told her that God was in heaven, and governed the world He created! Then she remembered the tale she had heard of the justice of Heaven; Soothed was her troubled soul, and she peacefully slumbered till morning.

[Pg 47]


Four times the sun had risen and set, and now on the fifth day Cheerily called the cock to the sleeping maids of the farmhouse.525 Soon o’er the yellow fields, in silent mournful procession, Came from the neighbouring hamlets and farms the Acadian women, Driving in ponderous wains their household goods to the sea-shore, Pausing and looking back to gaze once more on their dwellings, Ere they were shut from sight by the winding road and the woodland.530 Close at their sides their children ran, and urged on the oxen, While in their little hands they clasped some fragments of playthings.
Thus to the Gaspereau’s mouth they hurried; and there on the sea-beach Piled in confusion lay the household goods of the peasants. All day long between the shore and the ships did the boats ply;535 All day long the wains came labouring down from the village. Late in the afternoon, when the sun was near to his setting, Echoed far o’er the fields came the roll of drums from the churchyard. Thither the women and children thronged. On a sudden the church-doors Opened, and forth came the guard, and marching in gloomy procession540 Followed the long-imprisoned, but patient, Acadian farmers. Even as pilgrims, who journey afar from their homes and their country, Sing as they go, and in singing forget they are weary and wayworn, So with songs on their lips the Acadian peasants descended [Pg 48] Down from the church to the shore, amid their wives and their daughters.545 Foremost the young men came; and, raising together their voices, Sang with tremulous lips a chant of the Catholic Missions:— “Sacred heart of the Saviour! O inexhaustible fountain! Fill our hearts this day with strength and submission and patience!” Then the old men, as they marched, and the women that stood by the wayside550 Joined in the sacred psalm, and the birds in the sunshine above them Mingled their notes therewith, like voices of spirits departed.
Half-way down to the shore Evangeline waited in silence, Not overcome with grief, but strong in the hour of affliction,— Calmly and sadly she waited, until the procession approached her,555 And she beheld the face of Gabriel pale with emotion. Tears then filled her eyes, and eagerly running to meet him, Clasped she his hands, and laid her head on his shoulder, and whispered,— “Gabriel! be of good cheer! for if we love one another Nothing, in truth, can harm us, whatever mischances may happen!”560 Smiling she spake these words; then suddenly paused, for her father Saw she, slowly advancing. Alas! how changed was his aspect! Gone was the glow from his cheek, and the fire from his eye, and his footstep Heavier seemed with the weight of the heavy heart in his bosom. But with a smile and a sigh, she clasped his neck and embraced him,565 Speaking words of endearment where words of comfort availed not. Thus to the Gaspereau’s mouth moved on that mournful procession.
[Pg 49] There disorder prevailed, and the tumult and stir of embarking. Busily plied the freighted boats; and in the confusion Wives were torn from their husbands, and mothers, too late, saw their children570 Left on the land, extending their arms, with wildest entreaties. So unto separate ships were Basil and Gabriel carried, While in despair on the shore Evangeline stood with her father. Half the task was not done when the sun went down, and the twilight Deepened and darkened around; and in haste the refluent ocean575 Fled away from the shore, and left the line of the sand-beach Covered with waifs of the tide, with kelp and the slippery sea-weed. Further back in the midst of the household goods and the wagons, Like to a gypsy camp, or a leaguer after a battle, All escape cut off by the sea, and the sentinels near them,580 Lay encamped for the night the houseless Acadian farmers. Back to its nethermost caves retreated the bellowing ocean, Dragging adown the beach the rattling pebbles, and leaving Inland and far up the shore the stranded boats of the sailors. Then, as the night descended, the herds returned from their pastures;585 Sweet was the moist still air with the odour of milk from their udders: Lowing they waited, and long, at the well-known bars of the farm-yard,— Waited and looked in vain for the voice and the hand of the milkmaid. Silence reigned in the streets; from the church no Angelus sounded, Rose no smoke from the roofs, and gleamed no lights from the windows.590
[Pg 50] But on the shores meanwhile the evening fires had been kindled, Built of the drift-wood thrown on the sands from wrecks in the tempest. Round them shapes of gloom and sorrowful faces were gathered, Voices of women were heard, and of men, and the crying of children. Onward from fire to fire, as from hearth to hearth in his parish,595 Wandered the faithful priest, consoling and blessing and cheering, Like unto shipwrecked Paul on Melita’s desolate sea-shore. Thus he approached the place where Evangeline sat with her father, And in the flickering light beheld the face of the old man, Haggard and hollow and wan, and without either thought or emotion,600 E’en as the face of a clock from which the hands have been taken. Vainly Evangeline strove with words and caresses to cheer him, Vainly offered him food; yet he moved not, he looked not, he spake not, But, with a vacant stare, ever gazed at the flickering fire-light. Benedicite!” murmured the priest, in tones of compassion.605 More he fain would have said, but his heart was full, and his accents Faltered and paused on his lips, as the feet of a child on a threshold, Hushed by the scene he beholds, and the awful presence of sorrow. Silently, therefore, he laid his hand on the head of the maiden, Raising his tearful eyes to the silent stars that above them610 Moved on their way, unperturbed by the wrongs and sorrows of mortals. Then sat he down at her side, and they wept together in silence.
[Pg 51] Suddenly rose from the south a light, as in autumn the blood-red Moon climbs the crystal walls of heaven, and o’er the horizon Titan-like stretches its hundred hands upon mountain and meadow,615 Seizing the rocks and the rivers, and piling huge shadows together. Broader and ever broader it gleamed on the roofs of the village, Gleamed on the sky and the sea, and the ships that lay in the roadstead. Columns of shining smoke uprose, and flashes of flame were Thrust through their folds and withdrawn, like the quivering hands of a martyr.620 Then as the wind seized the gleeds and the burning thatch, and, uplifting, Whirled them aloft through the air, at once from a hundred house-tops Started the sheeted smoke with flashes of flame intermingled.
These things beheld in dismay the crowd on the shore and on shipboard. Speechless at first they stood, then cried aloud in their anguish,625 “We shall behold no more our homes in the village of Grand-Pré!” Loud on a sudden the cocks began to crow in the farm-yards, Thinking the day had dawned; and anon the lowing of cattle Came on the evening breeze, by the barking of dogs interrupted. Then rose a sound of dread, such as startles the sleeping encampments630 Far in the western prairies of forests that skirt the Nebraska, When the wild horses affrighted sweep by with the speed of the whirlwind, Or the loud bellowing herds of buffaloes rush to the river. [Pg 52] Such was the sound that arose on the night, as the herds and the horses Broke through their folds and fences, and madly rushed o’er the meadows.635
Overwhelmed with the sight, yet speechless, the priest and the maiden Gazed on the scene of terror that reddened and widened before them; And as they turned at length to speak to their silent companion, Lo! from his seat he had fallen, and stretched abroad on the sea-shore Motionless lay his form, from which the soul had departed.640 Slowly the priest uplifted the lifeless head, and the maiden Knelt at her father’s side, and wailed aloud in her terror. Then in a swoon she sank, and lay with her head on his bosom. Through the long night she lay in deep, oblivious slumber; And when she woke from the trance, she beheld a multitude near her.645 Faces of friends she beheld, that were mournfully gazing upon her, Pallid, with tearful eyes, and looks of saddest compassion. Still the blaze of the burning village illumined the landscape, Reddened the sky overhead, and gleamed on the faces around her, And like the day of doom it seemed to her wavering senses.650 Then a familiar voice she heard, as it said to the people,— “Let us bury him here by the sea. When a happier season Brings us again to our homes from the unknown land of our exile, Then shall his sacred dust be piously laid in the churchyard.” Such were the words of the priest. And there in haste by the sea-side,655 Having the glare of the burning village for funeral torches, But without bell or book, they buried the farmer of Grand-Pré. [Pg 53] And as the voice of the priest repeated the service of sorrow, Lo! with a mournful sound like the voice of a vast congregation, Solemnly answered the sea, and mingled its roar with the dirges.660 ’Twas the returning tide, that afar from the waste of the ocean, With the first dawn of the day, came heaving and hurrying landward. Then recommenced once more the stir and noise of embarking; And with the ebb of the tide the ships sailed out of the harbour, Leaving behind them the dead on the shore, and the village in ruins.665

Part the Second.


Many a weary year had passed since the burning of Grand-Pré, When on the falling tide the freighted vessels departed, Bearing a nation, with all its household goods, into exile, Exile without an end, and without an example in story. Far asunder, on separate coasts, the Acadians landed;670 Scattered were they, like flakes of snow, when the wind from the northeast Strikes aslant through the fogs that darken the Banks of Newfoundland. Friendless, homeless, hopeless, they wandered from city to city, From the cold lakes of the North to sultry Southern savannas,— From the bleak shores of the sea to the lands where the Father of Waters675 Seizes the hills in his hands, and drags them down to the ocean, Deep in their sands to bury the scattered bones of the mammoth. [Pg 54] Friends they sought and homes; and many, despairing, heart-broken, Asked of the earth but a grave, and no longer a friend nor a fireside. Written their history stands on tablets of stone in the churchyards.680 Long among them was seen a maiden who waited and wandered, Lowly and meek in spirit and patiently suffering all things. Fair was she and young; but, alas! before her extended, Dreary and vast and silent, the desert of life, with its pathway Marked by the graves of those who had sorrowed and suffered before her,685 Passions long extinguished, and hopes long dead and abandoned, As the emigrant’s way o’er the Western desert is marked by Camp-fires long consumed, and bones that bleach in the sunshine. Something there was in her life incomplete, imperfect, unfinished; As if a morning of June, with all its music and sunshine,690 Suddenly paused in the sky, and, fading, slowly descended Into the east again, from whence it late had arisen. Sometimes she lingered in towns, till, urged by the fever within her, Urged by a restless longing, the hunger and thirst of the spirit, She would commence again her endless search and endeavour;695 Sometimes in churchyards strayed, and gazed on the crosses and tombstones, Sat by some nameless grave, and thought that perhaps in its bosom He was already at rest, and she longed to slumber beside him. Sometimes a rumour, a hearsay, an inarticulate whisper, Came with its airy hand to point and beckon her forward.700 Sometimes she spake with those who had seen her beloved and known him, [Pg 55] But it was long ago, in some far-off place or forgotten. “Gabriel Lajeunesse!” they said; “Oh, yes! we have seen him. He was with Basil the blacksmith, and both have gone to the prairies; Coureurs-des-bois are they, and famous hunters and trappers.”705 “Gabriel Lajeunesse!” said others; “Oh, yes! we have seen him. He is a voyageur in the lowlands of Louisiana.” Then would they say, “Dear child! why dream and wait for him longer? Are there not other youths as fair as Gabriel? others Who have hearts as tender and true, and spirits as loyal?710 Here is Baptiste Leblanc, the notary’s son, who has loved thee Many a tedious year; come, give him thy hand and be happy! Thou art too fair to be left to braid St. Catherine’s tresses.” Then would Evangeline answer, serenely but sadly, “I cannot! Whither my heart has gone, there follows my hand, and not elsewhere.715 For when the heart goes before, like a lamp, and illumines the pathway, Many things are made clear, that else lie hidden in darkness.” Thereupon the priest, her friend and father confessor, Said, with a smile, “O daughter! thy God thus speaketh within thee! Talk not of wasted affection, affection never was wasted;720 If it enrich not the heart of another, its waters, returning Back to their springs, like the rain, shall fill them full of refreshment; That which the fountain sends forth returns again to the fountain. Patience; accomplish thy labour; accomplish thy work of affection! Sorrow and silence are strong and patient endurance is godlike.725 [Pg 56] Therefore accomplish thy labour of love, till the heart is made godlike, Purified, strengthened, perfected, and rendered more worthy of heaven!” Cheered by the good man’s words, Evangeline laboured and waited. Still in her heart she heard the funeral dirge of the ocean, But with its sound there was mingled a voice that whispered, “Despair not!”730 Thus did that poor soul wander in want and cheerless discomfort, Bleeding, barefooted, over the shards and thorns of existence. Let me essay, O Muse! to follow the wanderer’s footsteps;— Not through each devious path, each changeful year of existence; But as a traveller follows a streamlet’s course through the valley:735 Far from its margin at times, and seeing the gleam of its water Here and there, in some open space, and at intervals only; Then drawing nearer its banks, through sylvan glooms that conceal it, Though he behold it not, he can hear its continuous murmur; Happy, at length, if he find a spot where it reaches an outlet.740

From the painting.

covenanter church

Built at Grand-Pré—1805.

village smithy



It was the month of May. Far down the Beautiful River, Past the Ohio shore and past the mouth of the Wabash, Into the golden stream of the broad and swift Mississippi, Floated a cumbrous boat, that was rowed by Acadian boatmen, It was a band of exiles; a raft, as it were, from the shipwrecked745 Nation, scattered along the coast, now floating together, Bound by the bonds of a common belief and a common misfortune; [Pg 57] Men and women and children, who, guided by hope or by hearsay, Sought for their kith and their kin among the few-acred farmers On the Acadian coast, and the prairies of fair Opelousas.750 With them Evangeline went, and her guide, the Father Felician. Onward o’er sunken sands, through a wilderness sombre with forests, Day after day they glided adown the turbulent river; Night after night, by their blazing fires, encamped on its borders. Now through rushing chutes, among green islands, where plumelike755 Cotton-trees nodded their shadowy crests, they swept with the current, Then emerged into broad lagoons, where silvery sand-bars Lay in the stream, and along the wimpling waves of their margin, Shining with snow-white plumes, large flocks of pelicans waded. Level the landscape grew, and along the shores of the river,760 Shaded by china-trees in the midst of luxuriant gardens, Stood the houses of planters, with negro cabins and dove-cots. They were approaching the region where reigns perpetual summer, Where through the Golden Coast, and groves of orange and citron, Sweeps with majestic curve the river away to the eastward.765 They, too, swerved from their course; and, entering the Bayou of Plaquemine, Soon were lost in a maze of sluggish and devious waters, Which, like a network of steel, extended in every direction. Over their heads the towering and tenebrous boughs of the cypress Met in a dusky arch, and trailing mosses in mid-air770 Waved like banners that hang on the walls of ancient cathedrals. [Pg 58] Deathlike the silence seemed, and unbroken, save by the herons Home to their roosts in the cedar-trees returning at sunset, Or by the owl, as he greeted the moon with demoniac laughter. Lovely the moonlight was as it glanced and gleamed on the water,775 Gleamed on the columns of cypress and cedar sustaining the arches, Down through whose broken vaults it fell as through chinks in a ruin. Dreamlike, and indistinct, and strange were all things around them; And o’er their spirits there came a feeling of wonder and sadness,— Strange forebodings of ill, unseen and that cannot be compassed.780 As, at the tramp of a horse’s hoof on the turf of the prairies, Far in advance are closed the leaves of the shrinking mimosa, So, at the hoof-beats of fate, with sad forebodings of evil, Shrinks and closes the heart, ere the stroke of doom has attained it. But Evangeline’s heart was sustained by a vision, that faintly785 Floated before her eyes, and beckoned her on through the moonlight. It was the thought of her brain that assumed the shape of a phantom. Through those shadowy aisles had Gabriel wandered before her, And every stroke of the oar now brought him nearer and nearer.
Then in his place, at the prow of the boat, rose one of the oarsmen,790 And, as a signal sound, if others like them peradventure Sailed on those gloomy and midnight streams, blew a blast on his bugle. Wild through the dark colonnades and corridors leafy the blast rang, [Pg 59] Breaking the seal of silence and giving tongues to the forest. Soundless above them the banners of moss just stirred to the music.795 Multitudinous echoes awoke and died in the distance, Over the watery floor, and beneath the reverberant branches; But not a voice replied; no answer came from the darkness; And when the echoes had ceased, like a sense of pain was the silence. Then Evangeline slept; but the boatmen rowed through the midnight,800 Silent at times, then singing familiar Canadian boat-songs, Such as they sang of old on their own Acadian rivers, While through the night were heard the mysterious sounds of the desert, Far off,—indistinct,—as of wave or wind in the forest, Mixed with the whoop of the crane and the roar of the grim alligator.805
Thus ere another noon they emerged from the shades; and before them Lay, in the golden sun, the lakes of the Atchafalaya. Water-lilies in myriads rocked on the slight undulations Made by the passing oars, and, resplendent in beauty, the lotus Lifted her golden crown above the heads of the boatmen.810 Faint was the air with the odorous breath of magnolia blossoms, And with the heat of noon; and numberless sylvan islands, Fragrant and thickly embowered with blossoming hedges of roses, Near to whose shores they glided along, invited to slumber. Soon by the fairest of these their weary oars were suspended.815 Under the boughs of Wachita willows, that grew by the margin, Safely their boat was moored; and scattered about on the greensward, Tired with their midnight toil, the weary travellers slumbered. [Pg 60] Over them vast and high extended the cope of a cedar. Swinging from its great arms, the trumpet-flower and the grapevine820 Hung their ladder of ropes aloft like the ladder of Jacob, On whose pendulous stairs the angels ascending, descending, Were the swift humming-birds, that flitted from blossom to blossom. Such was the vision Evangeline saw as she slumbered beneath it. Filled was her heart with love, and the dawn of an opening heaven825 Lighted her soul in sleep with the glory of regions celestial.
Nearer, ever nearer, among the numberless islands Darted a light, swift boat, that sped away o’er the water Urged on its course by the sinewy arms of hunters and trappers. Northward its prow was turned to the land of the bison and beaver.830 At the helm sat a youth, with countenance thoughtful and careworn. Dark and neglected locks overshadowed his brow, and a sadness Somewhat beyond his years on his face was legibly written. Gabriel was it, who, weary with waiting, unhappy and restless, Sought in the Western wilds oblivion of self and of sorrow.835 Swiftly they glided along, close under the lee of the island, But by the opposite bank, and behind a screen of palmettos; So that they saw not the boat, where it lay concealed in the willows; All undisturbed by the dash of their oars, and unseen were the sleepers; Angel of God was there none to awaken the slumbering maiden.840 Swiftly they glided away, like the shade of a cloud on the prairie. After the sound of their oars on the tholes had died in the distance. As from a magic trance the sleepers awoke, and the maiden [Pg 61] Said with a sigh to the friendly priest, “O Father Felician! Something says in my heart that near me Gabriel wanders.845 Is it a foolish dream, an idle and vague superstition? Or has an angel passed, and revealed the truth to my spirit?” Then, with a blush, she added, “Alas for my credulous fancy! Unto ears like thine such words as these have no meaning.” But made answer the reverend man, and he smiled as he answered,—850 “Daughter, thy words are not idle; nor are they to me without meaning, Feeling is deep and still; and the word that floats on the surface Is as the tossing buoy, that betrays where the anchor is hidden. Therefore trust to thy heart, and to what the world calls illusions. Gabriel truly is near thee; for not far away to the south-ward,855 On the banks of the Têche, are the towns of St. Maur and St. Martin. There the long-wandering bride shall be given again to her bridegroom, There the long-absent pastor regain his flock and his sheep-fold. Beautiful is the land, with its prairies and forests of fruit-trees; Under the feet a garden of flowers and the bluest of heavens860 Bending above, and resting its dome on the walls of the forest. They who dwell there have named it the Eden of Louisiana.”
With these words of cheer they arose and continued their journey. Softly the evening came. The sun from the western horizon Like a magician extended his golden wand o’er the landscape;865 [Pg 62] Twinkling vapors arose; and sky and water and forest Seemed all on fire at the touch, and melted and mingled together. Hanging between two skies, a cloud with edges of silver, Floated the boat, with its dripping oars, on the motionless water. Filled was Evangeline’s heart with inexpressible sweetness.870 Touched by the magic spell, the sacred fountains of feeling Glowed with the light of love, as the skies and waters around her. Then from a neighbouring thicket the mocking-bird, wildest of singers, Swinging aloft on a willow spray that hung o’er the water, Shook from his little throat such floods of delirious music,875 That the whole air and the woods and the waves seemed silent to listen. Plaintive at first were the tones and sad; then soaring to madness Seemed they to follow or guide the revel of frenzied Bacchantes. Single notes were then heard, in sorrowful, low lamentation; Till, having gathered them all, he flung them abroad in derision,880 As when, after a storm, a gust of wind through the tree-tops Shakes down the rattling rain in a crystal shower on the branches. With such a prelude as this, and hearts that throbbed with emotion, Slowly they entered the Têche, where it flows through the green Opelousas, And, through the amber air, above the crest of the woodland,885 Saw the column of smoke that arose from a neighbouring dwelling;— Sounds of a horn they heard, and the distant lowing of cattle.

[Pg 63]


Near to the bank of the river, o’ershadowed by oaks from whose branches Garlands of Spanish moss and of mystic mistletoe flaunted, Such as the Druids cut down with golden hatchets at Yule-tide,890 Stood, secluded and still, the house of the herdsman. A garden Girded it round about with a belt of luxuriant blossoms, Filling the air with fragrance. The house itself was of timbers Hewn from the cypress-tree, and carefully fitted together. Large and low was the roof; and on slender columns supported,895 Rose-wreathed, vine-encircled, a broad and spacious veranda, Haunt of the humming-bird and the bee, extended around it. At each end of the house, amid the flowers of the garden, Stationed the dove-cots were, as love’s perpetual symbol, Scenes of endless wooing, and endless contentions of rivals.900 Silence reigned o’er the place. The line of shadow and sunshine Ran near the tops of the trees; but the house itself was in shadow, And from its chimney-top, ascending and slowly expanding Into the evening air, a thin blue column of smoke rose. In the rear of the house, from the garden gate, ran a pathway905 Through the great groves of oak to the skirts of the limitless prairie, Into whose sea of flowers the sun was slowly descending. Full in his track of light, like ships with shadowy canvas Hanging loose from their spars in a motionless calm in the tropics, Stood a cluster of trees, with tangled cordage of grape-vines.910
Just where the woodlands met the flowery surf of the prairie, [Pg 64] Mounted upon his horse, with Spanish saddle and stirrups Sat a herdsman, arrayed in gaiters and doublet of deerskin. Broad and brown was the face that from under the Spanish sombrero Gazed on the peaceful scene, with the lordly look of its master.915 Round about him were numberless herds of kine that were grazing Quietly in the meadows, and breathing the vapoury freshness That uprose from the river, and spread itself over the landscape. Slowly lifting the horn that hung at his side, and expanding Fully his broad, deep chest, he blew a blast, that resounded920 Wildly and sweet and far, through the still damp air of the evening. Suddenly out of the grass the long white horns of the cattle Rose like flakes of foam on the adverse currents of ocean. Silent a moment they gazed, then bellowing rushed o’er the prairie, And the whole mass became a cloud, a shade in the distance.925 Then, as the herdsman turned to the house, through the gate of the garden Saw he the forms of the priest and the maiden advancing to meet him. Suddenly down from his horse he sprang in amazement, and forward Pushed with extended arms and exclamations of wonder; When they beheld his face, they recognized Basil the blacksmith.930 Hearty his welcome was, as he led his guests to the garden. There in an arbour of roses with endless question and answer Gave they vent to their hearts, and renewed their friendly embraces, Laughing and weeping by turns, or sitting silent and thoughtful. Thoughtful, for Gabriel came not; and now dark doubts and misgivings935 Stole o’er the maiden’s heart; and Basil, somewhat embarrassed, [Pg 65] Broke the silence and said, “If you came by the Atchafalaya, How have you nowhere encountered my Gabriel’s boat on the bayous?” Over Evangeline’s face at the words of Basil a shade passed. Tears came into her eyes, and she said, with a tremulous accent, 940 “Gone? is Gabriel gone?” and, concealing her face on his shoulder, All her o’erburdened heart gave way, and she wept and lamented. Then the good Basil said,—and his voice grew blithe as he said it,— “Be of good cheer, my child; it is only to-day he departed. Foolish boy! he has left me alone with my herds and my horses.945 Moody and restless grown, and tried and troubled, his spirit Could no longer endure the calm of this quiet existence. Thinking ever of thee, uncertain and sorrowful ever, Ever silent, or speaking only of thee and his troubles, He at length had become so tedious to men and to maidens,950 Tedious even to me, that at length I bethought me, and sent him Unto the town of Adayes to trade for mules with the Spaniards. Thence he will follow the Indian trails to the Ozark Mountains, Hunting for furs in the forests, on rivers trapping the beaver. Therefore be of good cheer; we will follow the fugitive lover;955 He is not far on his way, and the Fates and the streams are against him. Up and away to-morrow, and through the red dew of the morning, We will follow him fast, and bring him back to his prison.”
Then glad voices were heard, and up from the banks of the river, Borne aloft on his comrades’ arms, came Michael the fiddler.960 [Pg 66] Long under Basil’s roof had he lived, like a god on Olympus, Having no other care than dispensing music to mortals. Far renowned was he for his silver locks and his fiddle. “Long live Michael,” they cried, “our brave Acadian minstrel!” As they bore him aloft in triumphal procession; and straightway965 Father Felician advanced with Evangeline, greeting the old man Kindly and oft, and recalling the past, while Basil, enraptured, Hailed with hilarious joy his old companions and gossips. Laughing loud and long, and embracing mothers and daughters. Much they marvelled to see the wealth of the ci-devant blacksmith,970 All his domains and his herds, and his patriarchial demeanour; Much they marvelled to hear his tales of the soil and the climate, And of the prairies, whose numberless herds were his who would take them; Each one thought in his heart, that he, too, would go and do likewise. Thus they ascended the steps, and crossing the breezy veranda,975 Entered the hall of the house, where already the supper of Basil Waited his late return; and they rested and feasted together.
Over the joyous feast the sudden darkness descended. All was silent without, and illuming the landscape with silver, Fair rose the dewy moon and the myriad stars; but within doors,980 Brighter than these, shone the faces of friend in the glimmering lamplight. Then from his station aloft, at the head of the table, the herdsman Poured forth his heart and his wine together in endless profusion. [Pg 67] Lighting his pipe, that was filled with sweet Natchitoches tobacco, Thus he spake to his guests, who listened, and smiled as they listened:—985 “Welcome once more, my friends, who long have been friendless and homeless, Welcome once more to a home, that is better perchance than the old one! Here no hungry winter congeals our blood like the rivers; Here no stony ground provokes the wrath of the farmer; Smoothly the ploughshare runs through the soil, as a keel through the water.990 All the year round the orange-groves are in blossom; and grass grows More in a single night than a whole Canadian summer. Here, too, numberless herds run wild and unclaimed in the prairies; Here, too, lands may be had for the asking, and forests of timber With a few blows of the axe are hewn and framed into houses.995 After your houses are built and your fields are yellow with harvests, No King George of England shall drive you away from your homesteads, Burning your dwellings and barns, and stealing your farms and your cattle.” Speaking these words, he blew a wrathful cloud from his nostrils, While his huge, brown hand came thundering down on the table,1000 So that the guests all started; and Father Felician, astounded, Suddenly paused, with a pinch of snuff half-way to his nostrils. But the brave Basil resumed, and his words were milder and gayer:— “Only beware of the fever, my friends, beware of the fever! For it is not like that of our cold Acadian climate,1005 Cured by wearing a spider hung round one’s neck in a nutshell!” [Pg 68] Then there were voices heard at the door, and footsteps approaching Sounded upon the stairs and the floor of the breezy veranda. It was the neighbouring Creoles and small Acadian planters, Who had been summoned all to the house of Basil the herdsman.1010 Merry the meeting was of ancient comrades and neighbours: Friend clasped friend in his arms; and they who before were as strangers, Meeting in exile, became straightway as friends to each other, Drawn by the gentle bond of a common country together. But in the neighbouring hall a strain of music, proceeding1015 From the accordant strings of Michael’s melodious fiddle, Broke up all further speech. Away, like children delighted, All things forgotten beside, they gave themselves to the maddening Whirl of the dizzy dance, as it swept and swayed to the music, Dreamlike, with beaming eyes and the rush of fluttering garments.1020
Meanwhile, apart, at the head of the hall, the priest and the herdsman Sat, conversing together of past and present and future; While Evangeline stood like one entranced, for within her Olden memories rose, and loud in the midst of the music Heard she the sound of the sea, and an irrepressible sadness1025 Came o’er her heart, and unseen she stole forth into the garden. Beautiful was the night. Behind the black wall of the forest, Tipping its summit with silver, arose the moon. On the river Fell here and there through the branches a tremulous gleam of the moonlight, Like the sweet thoughts of love on a darkened and devious spirit.1030 Nearer and round about her, the manifold flowers of the garden [Pg 69] Poured out their souls in odours, that were their prayers and confessions Unto the night, as it went its way, like a silent Carthusian. Fuller of fragrance than they, and as heavy with shadows and night-dews, Hung the heart of the maiden. The calm and the magical1035 Seemed to inundate her soul with indefinable longings, As, through the garden gate, and beneath the shade of the oak-trees, Passed she along the path to the edge of the measureless prairie. Silent it lay, with a silvery haze upon it, and fire-flies Gleaming and floating away in mingled and infinite numbers.1040 Over her head the stars, the thoughts of God in the heavens, Shone on the eyes of man, who had ceased to marvel and worship, Save when a blazing comet was seen on the walls of that temple, As if a hand had appeared and written upon them, “Upharsin.” And the soul of the maiden, between the stars and the fire-flies,1045 Wandered alone, and she cried, “O Gabriel! O my beloved! Art thou so near unto me, and yet I cannot behold thee? Art thou so near unto me, and yet thy voice does not reach me? Ah! how often thy feet have trod this path to the prairie! Ah! how often thine eyes have looked on the woodlands around me!1050 Ah! how often beneath this oak, returning from labour, Thou hast lain down to rest, and to dream of me in thy slumbers! When shall these eyes behold, these arms be folded about thee?” Loud and sudden and near the note of a whippoorwill sounded Like a flute in the woods; and anon, through the neighbouring thickets,1055 [Pg 70] Farther and farther away it floated and dropped into silence. “Patience!” whispered the oaks from oracular caverns of darkness; And, from the moonlit meadow, a sigh responded, “To-morrow!”
Bright rose the sun next day; and all the flowers of the garden Bathed his shining feet with their tears, and anointed his tresses1060 With the delicious balm that they bore in their vases of crystal. “Farewell!” said the priest, as he stood at the shadowy threshold; “See that you bring us the Prodigal Son from his fasting and famine, And, too, the Foolish Virgin, who slept when the bridegroom was coming.” “Farewell!” answered the maiden, and, smiling, with Basil descended1065 Down to the river’s brink, where the boatmen already were waiting. Thus beginning their journey with morning, and sunshine, and gladness, Swiftly they followed the flight of him who was speeding before them, Blown by the blast of fate like a dead leaf over the desert. Not that day, nor the next, nor yet the day that succeeded,1070 Found they trace of his course, in lake or forest or river, Nor, after many days, had they found him; but vague and uncertain Rumours alone were their guides through a wild and desolate country; Till, at the little inn of the Spanish town of Adayes, Weary and worn, they alighted, and learned from the garrulous landlord1075 That on the day before, with horses and guides and companions, Gabriel left the village, and took the road of the prairies.

[Pg 71]


Far in the West there lies a desert land, where the mountains Lift, through perpetual snows, their lofty and luminous summits. Down from their jagged, deep ravines, where the gorge, like a gateway,1080 Opens a passage rude to the wheels of the emigrant’s wagon, Westward the Oregon flows and the Walleway and Owyhee. Eastward, with devious course, among the Wind-river Mountains, Through the Sweet-water Valley precipitate leaps the Nebraska; And to the south, from Fontaine-qui-bout and the Spanish sierras,1085 Fretted with sands and rocks, and swept by the wind of the desert, Numberless torrents, with ceaseless sound, descend to the ocean, Like the great chords of a harp, in loud and solemn vibrations. Spreading between these streams are the wondrous, beautiful prairies, Billowy bays of grass ever rolling in shadow and sunshine,1090 Bright with luxuriant clusters of roses and purple amorphas. Over them wandered the buffalo herds, and the elk and the roebuck; Over them wandered the wolves, and herds of riderless horses; Fires that blast and blight, and winds that are weary with travel; Over them wander the scattered tribes of Ishmael’s children,1095 Staining the desert with blood; and above their terrible war-trails Circles and sails aloft, on pinions majestic, the vulture, Like the implacable soul of a chieftain slaughtered in battle, [Pg 72] By invisible stairs ascending and scaling the heavens. Here and there rise smokes from the camps of these savage marauders;1100 Here and there rise groves from the margins of swift-running rivers; And the grim, taciturn bear, the anchorite monk of the desert, Climbs down their dark ravines to dig for roots by the brook-side. And over all is the sky, the clear and crystalline heaven, Like the protecting hand of God inverted above them.1105
Into this wonderful land, at the base of the Ozark Mountains, Gabriel far had entered, with hunters and trappers behind him. Day after day, with their Indian guides, the maiden and Basil Followed his flying steps, and thought each day to o’ertake him. Sometimes they saw, or thought they saw, the smoke of his camp-fire1110 Rise in the morning air from the distant plain; but at nightfall, When they had reached the place, they found only embers and ashes. And, though their hearts were sad at times and their bodies were weary, Hope still guided them on, as the magic Fata Morgana Showed them her lakes of light, that retreated and vanished before them.1115
evangeline statue


The statue stands upon the old road by which the people reached the church. It is the work of Philippe Hebert, himself a descendant of the Acadian family of the name . . . .

acadian willow-trees


Once, as they sat by their evening fire, there silently entered Into the little camp an Indian woman, whose features Wore deep traces of sorrow, and patience as great as her sorrow. She was a Shawnee woman returning home to her people, From the far-off hunting-grounds of the cruel Camanches,1120 Where her Canadian husband, a coureur-des-bois, had been murdered. [Pg 73]
[Pg 74]
Touched were their hearts at her story, and warmest and friendliest welcome
Gave they, with words of cheer, and she sat and feasted among them On the buffalo-meat and the venison cooked on the embers. But when their meal was done, and Basil and all his companions,1125 Worn with the long day’s march and the chase of the deer and the bison, Stretched themselves on the ground, and slept where the quivering fire-light Flashed on their swarthy cheeks, and their forms wrapped up in the blankets, Then at the door of Evangeline’s tent she sat and repeated Slowly, with soft, low voice, and the charm of her Indian accent,1130 All the tale of her love, with its pleasures, and pains, and reverses. Much Evangeline wept at the tale, and to know that another Hapless heart like her own had loved and had been disappointed. Moved to the depths of her soul by pity and woman’s compassion, Yet in her sorrow pleased that one who had suffered was near her,1135 She in turn related her love and all its disasters. Mute with wonder the Shawnee sat, and when she had ended Still was mute; but at length, as if a mysterious horror Passed through her brain, she spake, and repeated the tale of the Mowis; Mowis, the bridegroom of snow, who won and wedded a maiden,1140 But, when the morning came, arose and passed from the wigwam, Fading and melting away and dissolving into the sunshine, Till she beheld him no more, though she followed far into the forest. Then, in those sweet, low tones, that seemed like a weird incantation, Told she the tale of the fair Lilinau, who was wooed by a phantom,1145 [Pg 75] That through the pines o’er her father’s lodge in the hush of the twilight, Breathed like the evening wind, and whispered love to the maiden, Till she followed his green and waving plume through the forest, And nevermore returned, nor was seen again by her people. Silent with wonder and strange surprise, Evangeline listened1150 To the soft flow of her magical words, till the region around her Seemed like enchanted ground, and her swarthy guest the enchantress. Slowly over the tops of the Ozark Mountains the moon rose, Lighting the little tent, and with a mysterious splendour Touching the sombre leaves, and embracing and filling the woodland.1155 With a delicious sound the brook rushed by, and the branches Swayed and sighed overhead in scarcely audible whispers. Filled with the thoughts of love was Evangeline’s heart, but a secret, Subtile sense crept in of pain and indefinite terror, As the cold, poisonous snake creeps into the nest of the swallow.1160 It was no earthly fear. A breath from the region of spirits Seemed to float in the air of night; and she felt for a moment That, like the Indian maid, she, too, was pursuing a phantom. With this thought she slept, and the fear and the phantom had vanished.
Early upon the morrow the march was resumed, and the Shawnee1165 Said, as they journeyed along,—“On the western slope of these mountains Dwells in his little village the Black Robe chief of the Mission. Much he teaches the people, and tells them of Mary and Jesus; [Pg 76] Loud laugh their hearts with joy, and weep with pain, as they hear him.” Then, with a sudden and secret emotion, Evangeline answered,1170 “Let us go to the Mission, for there good tidings await us!” Thither they turned their steeds; and behind a spur of the mountains, Just as the sun went down, they heard a murmur of voices, And in a meadow green and broad, by the bank of a river, Saw the tents of the Christians, the tents of the Jesuit Mission.1175 Under a towering oak, that stood in the midst of the village, Knelt the Black Robe chief with his children. A crucifix fastened High on the trunk of the tree, and overshadowed by grape-vines, Looked with its agonized face on the multitude kneeling beneath it. This was their rural chapel. Aloft, through the intricate arches1180 Of its aerial roof, arose the chant of their vespers, Mingling its notes with the soft susurrus and sighs of the branches. Silent, with heads uncovered, the travellers, nearer approaching, Knelt on the swarded floor, and joined in the evening devotions. But when the service was done, and the benediction had fallen 1185 Forth from the hands of the priest, like seed from the hands of the sower, Slowly the reverend man advanced to the strangers, and bade them Welcome; and when they replied, he smiled with benignant expression, Hearing the homelike sounds of his mother-tongue in the forest, And, with words of kindness, conducted them into his wigwam.1190 [Pg 77] Feasted, and slaked their thirst from the water-gourd of the teacher. Soon was their story told; and the priest with solemnity answered:— “Not six suns have risen and set since Gabriel, seated On this mat by my side, where now the maiden reposes,1195 Told me the same sad tale; then arose and continued his journey!” Soft was the voice of the priest, and he spake with an accent of kindness; But on Evangeline’s heart fell his words as in winter the snow-flakes Fall into some lone nest from which the birds have departed. “Far to the north he has gone,” continued the priest; “but in autumn,1200 When the chase is done, will return again to the Mission.” Then Evangeline said, and her voice was meek and submissive, “Let me remain with thee, for my soul is sad and afflicted.” So seemed it wise and well unto all; and betimes on the morrow, Mounting his Mexican steed, with his Indian guides and companions,1205 Homeward Basil returned, and Evangeline stayed at the Mission.
Slowly, slowly, slowly the days succeeded each other,— Days and weeks and months; and the fields of maize that were springing Green from the ground when a stranger she came, now waving about her, Lifted their slender shafts, with leaves interlacing, and forming1210 Cloisters for mendicant crows and granaries pillaged by squirrels. Then in the golden weather the maize was husked, and the maidens Blushed at each blood-red ear, for that betokened a lover, But at the crooked laughed, and called it a thief in the corn-field. [Pg 78] Even the blood-red ear to Evangeline brought not her lover.1215 “Patience!” the priest would say; “have faith, and thy prayer will be answered! Look at this vigorous plant that lifts its head from the meadow, See how its leaves are turned to the north, as true as the magnet; This is the compass-flower, that the finger of God has planted Here in the houseless wild, to direct the traveller’s journey1220 Over the sea-like, pathless, limitless waste of the desert. Such in the soul of man is faith. The blossoms of passion, Gay and luxuriant flowers, are brighter and fuller fragrance, But they beguile us, and lead us astray, and their odour is deadly. Only this humble plant can guide us here, and hereafter1225 Crown us with asphodel flowers, that are wet with the dews of nepenthe.”
So came the autumn, and passed, and the winter—yet Gabriel came not; Blossomed the opening spring, and the notes of the robin and bluebird Sounded sweet upon wold and in wood, yet Gabriel came not. But on the breath of the summer winds a rumour was wafted1230 Sweeter than song of bird, or hue or odour of blossom. Far to the north and east, it said, in the Michigan forests, Gabriel had his lodge by the banks of the Saginaw River. And, with returning guides, that sought the lakes of St. Lawrence, Saying a sad farewell, Evangeline went from the Mission.1235 When over weary ways, by long and perilous marches, She had attained at length the depths of the Michigan forests, Found she the hunter’s lodge deserted and fallen to ruin!
Thus did the long sad years glide on, and in seasons and places Divers and distant far was seen the wandering maiden;—1240 Now in the Tents of Grace of the meek Moravian Missions, Now in the noisy camps and the battle-fields of the army, Now in secluded hamlets, in towns and populous cities. Like a phantom she came, and passed away unremembered. Fair was she and young, when in hope began the long journey;1245 Faded was she and old, when in disappointment it ended. Each succeeding year stole something away from her beauty, Leaving behind it, broader and deeper, the gloom and the shadow. Then there appeared and spread faint streaks of gray o’er her forehead. Dawn of another life, that broke o’er her earthly horizon,1250 As in the eastern sky the first faint streaks of the morning.


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,1255 And the streets still reëcho 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. There old René Leblanc had died; and when he departed,1260 Saw at his side only one of all his hundred descendants. Something at least there was in the friendly streets of the city, [Pg 79] Something that spake to her heart, and made her no longer a stranger; And her ear was pleased with the Thee and Thou of the Quakers, For it recalled the past, the old Acadian country,1265 Where all men were equal, and all were brothers and sisters. So, when the fruitless search, the disappointed endeavour, Ended, to recommence no more upon earth, uncomplaining, Thither, as leaves to the light, were turned her thoughts and her footsteps. As from a mountain’s top the rainy mists of the morning1270 Roll away and afar we behold the landscape below us, Sun-illumined, with shining rivers and cities and hamlets, So fell the mists from her mind, and she saw the world far below her, Dark no longer, but all illumined with love; and the pathway Which she had climbed so far, lying smooth and fair in the distance.1275 Gabriel was not forgotten. Within her heart was his image, Clothed in the beauty of love and youth, as last she beheld him, Only more beautiful made by his deathlike silence and absence. Into her thoughts of him time entered not, for it was not. Over him years had no power; he was not changed, but transfigured;1280 He had become to her heart as one who is dead, and not absent; Patience and abnegation of self, and devotion to others, This was the lesson a life of trial and sorrow had taught her. So was her love diffused, but, like to some odorous spices, Suffered no waste nor loss, though filling the air with aroma.1285 Other hope had she none, nor wish in life, but to follow, Meekly with reverent steps, the sacred feet of her Saviour. Thus many years she lived as a Sister of Mercy; frequenting Lonely and wretched roofs in the crowded lanes of the city, [Pg 80] Where distress and want concealed themselves from the sunlight,1290 Where disease and sorrow in garrets languished neglected. Night after night when the world was asleep, as the watch-man repeated Loud, through the gusty streets, that all was well in the city, High at some lonely window he saw the light of her taper. Day after day, in the gray of the dawn, as slow through the suburbs 1295 Plodded the German farmer, with flowers and fruits for the market, Met he that meek, pale face, returning home from its watchings.
Then it came to pass that a pestilence fell on the city, Presaged by wondrous signs, and mostly by flocks of wild pigeons, Darkening the sun in their flight, with naught in their craws but an acorn.1300 And, as the tides of the sea arise in the month of September, Flooding some silver stream, till it spreads to a lake in the meadow, So death flooded life, and, o’erflowing its natural margin, Spread to a brackish lake the silver stream of existence. Wealth had no power to bribe, nor beauty to charm, the oppressor;1305 But all perished alike beneath the scourge of his anger;— Only, alas! the poor, who had neither friends nor attendants, Crept away to die in the almshouse, home of the homeless. Then in the suburbs it stood, in the midst of meadows and woodlands;— Now the city surrounds it; but still, with its gateway and wicket1310 Meek, in the midst of splendour, its humble walls seem to echo Softly the words of the Lord:— “The poor ye always have with you.” Thither, by night and by day, came the Sister of Mercy. The dying [Pg 81] Looked up into her face, and thought, indeed, to behold there Gleams of celestial light encircle her forehead with splendour,1315 Such as the artist paints o’er the brows of saints and apostles, Or such as hangs by night o’er a city seen at a distance. Unto their eyes it seemed the lamps of the city celestial, Into whose shining gates erelong their spirits would enter.
Thus, on a Sabbath morn, through the streets, deserted and silent,1320 Wending her quiet way, she entered the door of the almshouse. Sweet on the summer air was the odour of flowers in the garden, And as she paused on her way to gather the fairest among them. That the dying once more might rejoice in their fragrance and beauty. Then, as she mounted the stairs to the corridor, cooled by the east-wind,1325 Distant and soft on her ear fell the chimes from the belfry of Christ Church, While, intermingled with these, across the meadows were wafted Sounds of psalms, that were sung by the Swedes in their church at Wicaco. Soft as descending wings fell the calm of the hour on her spirit; Something within her said, “At length thy trials are ended;”1330 And, with light in her looks, she entered the chambers of sickness. Noiselessly moved about the assiduous, careful attendants, Moistening the feverish lip, and the aching brow, and in silence Closing the sightless eyes of the dead, and concealing their faces, Where on their pallets they lay, like drifts of snow by the roadside.1335 Many a languid head, upraised as Evangeline entered, [Pg 82] Turned on its pillow of pain to gaze while she passed, for her presence Fell on their hearts like a ray of the sun on the walls of a prison. And, as she looked around, she saw how Death, the consoler, Laying his hand upon many a heart, had healed it for ever.1340 Many familiar forms had disappeared in the night time; Vacant their places were, or filled already by strangers.
Suddenly, as if arrested by fear or a feeling of wonder, Still she stood, with her colourless lips apart, while a shudder Ran through her frame, and, forgotten, the flowerets dropped from her fingers,1345 And from her eyes and cheeks the light and bloom of the morning. Then there escaped from her lips a cry of such terrible anguish, That the dying heard it, and started up from their pillows. On the pallet before her was stretched the form of an old man. Long, and thin, and gray were the locks that shaded his temples;1350 But, as he lay in the morning light, his face for a moment Seemed to assume once more the forms of its earlier manhood; So are wont to be changed the faces of those who are dying. Hot and red on his lips still burned the flush of the fever, As if life, like the Hebrew, with blood had besprinkled its portals.1355 That the Angel of Death might see the sign, and pass over. Motionless, senseless, dying, he lay, and his spirit exhausted Seemed to be sinking down through infinite depths in the darkness, Darkness of slumber and death, for ever sinking and sinking. Then through those realms of shade, in multiplied reverberations,1360 Heard he that cry of pain, and through the hush that succeeded [Pg 83] Whispered a gentle voice, in accents tender and saintlike, “Gabriel! O my beloved!” and died away into silence. Then he beheld, in a dream, once more the home of his childhood; Green Acadian meadows, with sylvan rivers among them,1365 Village and mountain, and woodlands; and, walking under their shadow, As in the days of her youth, Evangeline rose in his vision. Tears came into his eyes; and as slowly he lifted his eye-lids, Vanished the vision away, but Evangeline knelt by his bedside. Vainly he strove to whisper her name, for the accents unuttered1370 Died on his lips, and their motion revealed what his tongue would have spoken. Vainly he strove to rise; and Evangeline, kneeling beside him, Kissed his dying lips, and laid his head on her bosom. Sweet was the light of his eyes; but it suddenly sank into darkness, As when a lamp is blown out by a gust of wind at a casement.1375
All was ended now, 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! And as she pressed once more the lifeless head to her bosom, Meekly she bowed her own, and murmured, “Father, I thank thee!”1380

Still stands the forest primeval; but far away from its shadow, Side by side, in their nameless graves, the lovers are sleeping. Under the humble walls of the little Catholic churchyard, In the heart of the city, they lie, unknown and unnoticed. Daily the tides of life go ebbing and flowing beside them.1385 [Pg 84] Thousands of throbbing hearts, where theirs are at rest and for ever, Thousands of aching brains, where theirs no longer are busy, Thousands of toiling hands, where theirs have ceased from their labours, Thousands of weary feet, where theirs have completed their journey!
Still stands the forest primeval; but under the shade of its branches1390 Dwells another race, with other customs and language. Only along the shore of the mournful and misty Atlantic Linger a few Acadian peasants, whose fathers from exile Wandered back to their native land to die in its bosom. In the fisherman’s cot the wheel and the loom are still busy;1395 Maidens still wear their Norman caps and their kirtles of homespun, And by the evening fire repeat Evangeline’s story, While from its rocky caverns the deep-voiced, neighbouring ocean Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.



Missing punctuation has been added and obvious punctuation errors have been corrected.

Archaic words and misspellings have been retained with the exception of those listed below.

Inconsistent hyphenation has been retained.

Page 9: le => Le (Among the later arrivals were the Le Blancs).

Page 10: menitoned => mentioned (Forebear of the sculptor mentioned previously).

Page 49: pevailed => prevailed (There disorder prevailed).

Page 53: gods => goods (Bearing a nation, with all its household goods).

Page 84: throbing => throbbing (Thousands of throbbing hearts).

[The end of The Land of Evangeline by John F. Herbin]