The Evolution of French Canada

By Jean Charlemagne Bracq | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XXIV
BRITISH JUSTICE TO FRENCH CANADIANS

THE people of French Canada have advanced more rapidly and moved farther than they themselves realise. Much has been written about their survivances and traditions,1 but these are so permeated with a new spirit that not one of them is held by French Canadians now, as in early colonial times. The historical investigator is forced, by evidence, to insist upon their transformation, their growing modernity, and their evolution. Their forefathers would be horrified to hear their descendants speak, many of them using the tongue of the conquerors, of constitutional rights, of democratic principles so opposed to the teachings of Bossuet, in La Politique tirée de l'Ecriture sainte. They would shudder at the assertion that everything does not belong to the King and that he cannot dispose of all according to his pleasure. There has also been a radical change in their feelings. Though British subjects, and fervent royalists, they no longer hold that a "divinity doth hedge a King," and have ceased to feel the royal "awe and majesty," "the dread and fear of Kings."

The way travelled by the Canadian French, from the absolute autocracy of Louis XIV to to-day, amounts to a revolution, certainly a complete transformation. Mentally, they have become unyielding democrats, jealous of their

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1
Jean Lionnet, Chez les Français du Canada; Prince de Beauveau-Craon, La Survivance française au Canada; Edouard Montpetit, Au Service de la tradition française; Les Survivances françaises au Canada.

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