Page 18 - A Tourist in Louisbourg, 1858
ISSUE : Issue 36
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/6/1
A Tourist in Louisbourg, 1858 This article is taken from two chapters of Frederic Cozzens's ACADIA; OR, A MONTH WITH THE BLUE NOSES, first published in 1859. The first half is a brisk recounting of the sieges and fall of the Fortress of Louisbourg (1745 and 1758). The second half is an evening of drinlc' ing in a fisherman's shack outside the destroyed fortress walls, 100 years after the fallT Cozzens is one of the most interesting of the tourist-writers who have given Cape Breton the once--over. He's often quite a good writer, not afraid to give opinions, and he gives us a few glimpses of intimate meetings with local people. Cozzens, an American, and his Brit? ish companion. Picton, have come to Louisbourg aboard the schooner, BALAKLAVA. Nearly a century has elapsed since the fall of Louisburgh. The great American for? tress of Louis XV surrendered to Amherst, Wolfe, and Boscawen in 1758. A broken sea? wall of cut stone; a vast amphitheatre, in? closed within a succession of green mounds; a glacis; and some miles of surrounding ditch, yet remain--the relics of a struc? ture for which the treasury of France paid Thirty Millions of Livres! We enter where had been the great gate, and walk up what had been the great avenue. The vision follows undulating billows of green turf that indicate the buried walls of a once powerful military town. Fifteen thousand people were gathered in and about these walls; six thousand troops were locked within this fortress, when the key turned in the stupendous gate. A hundred years since, the very air of the spot where we now stand, vibrated with the chime of the church-bells and the roll of the stately organ, or wafted to devout mul? titudes the savor of holy incense. Here were congregated the soldiers, merchants, artisans of old France; on these high walls paced the solemn sentry; in these streets the nun stole past in her modest hood; or the romantic damsel pressed her cheek to the latticed window, as the young officer rode by, and martial music filled the avenues with its inspiring strains; in yonder bay floated the great war-ships of Louis; and around the shores of this har? bor could be counted battery after battery, with scores of guns bristling from the em? brasures . The building of this stronghold was- a la? bor of twenty-five years.... Neither roof nor spire remain now; nor square nor street; nor convent, church, or barrack. The green turf covers all: even the founda? tions of the houses are buried. It is a city without an inhabitant. Dismantled can? non, with the rust clinging in great flakes; scattered implements of war; bro? ken weapons , bayonets, gun-locks, shot, shell or grenade, unclaimed, untouched, corroded and corroding, in silence and des? olation, with no signs of life visible within these once warlike parapets except the peaceful sheep, grazing upon the very brow of the citadel, are the only relics of once powerful Louisburgh. This cannon-studded harbor was the naval depot of France in America, the nucleus of its military power, the protector of its fisheries, the key of the gulf of St, Law? rence, the Sebastopol of the New World. For a quarter of a century it had been gathering strength by slow degrees: Acadia, poor inoffensive Acadia, from time to time, had been the prey of its rapacious neigh? bors; but Louisburgh had grown amid its protecting batteries, until Massachusetts felt that it was time for the armies of Gad to go forth and purge the threshing- floor with such ecclesiastical iron fans as they were wont to waft peace and good will with, wherever there was a fine open? ing for profit and edification. The first expedition against Louisburgh was only justifiable upon the ground that the wants of New England for additional (18) View of the Louisbourg Ruins by J. E. Woolford, 1818 (Dalhousie University Library)
Cape Breton's Magazine