Cajun History

Acadian Reminiscences – Introduction

 

Acadian Reminiscences
by Felix Voorhies, 1907

 

Introduction by Andrew Thorpe

 

The Acadian Reminiscences, is a word painting of the life of the Acadians in the Teche Country in the long ago.

The plain, simple frugal life of these people, their devotion to principle, their unbounded faith in the goodness of God, their love for each other during all their misfortunes and perilous wanderings, appeal to the heart.

The simple pathos of the grandmother’s story comes to us with such consummate art, that the eye unwittingly grows moist, as the reader follows the journeyings of this little band, self-exiled and noble in their poverty, from desolated homes on the bleak Acadian coast, to their final destination in the hospitable valley of the Teche.

The entire sketch is so life-like, so real, so true to nature, that one can hardly realize that it was written by one who had not experienced the dire misfortunes that overtook these unfortunate people.

With them, we hear in their peaceful Acadian homes the first war-cry that startles the country, and shudder at the near approach of the cruel and merciless foe.  We hope against hope that God or man will interfere in their behalf—till the dreaded day dawns, on which they must decide whether or not they will be true to their God, their King, their country, lose all and become wanderers on the face of the earth; or sacrificing these, supinely yield to Britain, and continue to live at ease and in plenty in the homes of their youth, and till the soil hallowed by the graves of their forefathers.

When these issues were presented to them, much as they loved their homes, and the land that gave them birth, they cried out with one accord:  “No, no a thousand times!  Sacrifice our religion, our King, our country?  No, let ruin, desolation, despair, let death overtake us, we cannot, we will not give up those.”  And so the die was cast.  In the utmost haste valuables were gathered together or thrown into wells, objects of spoil were destroyed, and they themselves applied the torch that soon reduced their beloved village to ashes.  In the darkness of the night, lighted only by the lurid glare of their burning homes, they left their devoted St. Gabriel forever.

Later on we read of the separation of the colony,–fathers and mothers from their children, husbands from wives, maidens from their lovers; their heartless abandonment by the English on the rocky shores of Maryland; of kindness received by them at the hands of Charles Smith and Henry Brent, names thus immortalized in Acadian history; their three years’ stay in Maryland and their final drifting through their desire of meeting their loved and lost ones again on earth, to the beautiful and far-famed valley of the Teche.

The writer has presented a prose pastoral, that in its unique composition, will probably bear favorable comparison with the annals of Joan of Arc, given to the world as the narrative of her secretary (told as the grandmother’s narrative in these Reminiscences) which among critics has been accorded a high place in English Literature.

These Acadian Reminiscences are to be commended, and a more extended history of these ancestors is earnestly wished for from the author’s pen.