cowered before their masters, hoping forbear-
ance; willing to take an oath of fealty to England
; in their single-mindedness and sincerity, refusing to pledge themselves to bear arms against France
were masters of the sea, were undisputed lords of the country, and could exercise clemency without apprehension.
Not a whisper gave a warning of their purpose, till it was ripe for execution.
But it had been ‘determined upon’ after the ancient device of Oriental
despotism, that the French
inhabitants of Acadia
should be carried away into captivity to other parts of the British
‘They have laid aside all thought of taking the oaths of allegiance voluntarily;’ thus in August, 1754, Lawrence
, the Lieutenant-Governor
of Nova Scotia
, had written of them to Lord Halifax. ‘They possess the best and largest tract of land in this province; if they refuse the oaths, it would be much better that they were away.’1
The Lords of Trade in reply veiled their wishes under the decorous form of suggestions.
‘By the treaty of Utrecht
,’ said they of the French Acadians
, ‘their becoming subjects of Great Britain
is made an express condition of their continuance after the expiration of a year; they cannot become subjects but by taking the oaths required of subjects; and therefore it may be a question, whether their refusal to take such oaths will not operate to invalidate their titles to their lands.
Consult the Chief Justice
of Nova Scotia
upon that point; his opinion may serve as a foundation for future measures.’2
remembered the descendants of her sons