[Footnote 22: See Appendix G., p. 287. “The Cures of Malbaie".]
[Footnote 23: Bowen’s career was remarkable. He continued on the bench until 1866, having held the office of a Judge in Canada for well nigh sixty years.]
[Footnote 24: He had recently died, and it did not diminish the Nairnes’ interest in him that he left L5,000 to their relative Ker.]
A FRENCH CANADIAN VILLAGE
Life at Murray Bay after Captain Nairne’s death.—Letters from Europe.—Death of Malcolm Fraser.—Death of Colonel Nairne’s widow and children.—His grandson John Nairne, seigneur.—Village life.—The Church’s influence.—The habitant’s tenacity.—His cottage.—His labours.—His amusements.—The Church’s missionary work in the villages.—The powers of the bishop.—His visitations.—The organization of the parish.—The powers of the fabrique.—Lay control of Church finance.—The cure’s tithe.—The best intellects enter the Church.—A native Canadian clergy.—The cure’s social life.—The Church and Temperance Reform.—The diligence of the cures.—The habitant’s taste for the supernatural.—The belief in goblins.—Prayer in the family.—The habitant as voter.—The office of Churchwarden.—The Church’s influence in elections.—The seigneur’s position,—The habitant’s obligations to him.—Rent day and New Year’s Day.—The seigneur’s social rank.—The growth of discontent in the villages.—The evils of Seigniorial Tenure.—Agitation against the system.—Its abolition in 1854.—The last of the Nairnes.—The Nairne tomb in Quebec.
With the death of Thomas Nairne almost end the dramatic events in the history of the family. It remains briefly to bring this to its conclusion, and to add to it some general account of a village of French Canada in the past and in the present. Captain Nairne’s mother was now the owner of the property and it continued in her competent hands until her death in 1828. “Polly’s” marriage had taken that daughter away and, though there was a reconciliation, no longer was the Manor House her home. Mrs. McNicol (with her husband and children) and Christine Nairne still lived there with the widow of Colonel Nairne, and life went on much as before, save that its interests were now narrowed to Murray Bay; no more was there an outside career, such as the young Captain’s, to watch.
When Thomas Nairne was killed the struggle against Napoleon in Europe had reached a supreme crisis. Occasional letters to Murray Bay give glimpses of great events. On March 16th, 1814, an Edinburgh friend writes to Christine: “The Castle was fired to-day in honour of the successes of our allies in France who have again routed Bonaparte, who has retreated to Paris. His enemies are within twenty-five miles of that capital so we must hope that the Tyrant’s fate is at the Crisis and that we shall soon enjoy the blessings of a permanent peace; much has Bony to answer for.” Ker wrote a little later from Edinburgh to say that Bonaparte “is now a prisoner on board of one of our 74 gun ships,” and to express the hope that by his fall Britons will soon get quit of the property tax.