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William Wood - The Winning of Canada: A Chronicle of Wolfe

a prime favourite among them. He was certainly quite as popular with the men. Indeed, he soon became
known by a name which speaks for itself - 'the soldier's' friend.'

By and by Wolfe's regiment marched into the Highlands, where he had fought against Prince Charlie in
the '45. But he kept in touch with what was going on in the world outside. He wrote to Rickson at

Halifax, to find out for him all he could about the French and British colonies in America. In the same

letter, written in 1751, he said he should like to see some Highland soldiers raised for the king's army and

sent out there to fight. Eight years later he was to have a Highland regiment among his own army at

Quebec. Other themes filled the letters to his mother. Perhaps he was thinking of Miss Lawson when he

wrote: 'I have a certain turn of mind that favours matrimony prodigiously. I love children. Two or three

manly sons are a present to the world, and the father that offers them sees with satisfaction that he is to

live in his successors.' He was thinking more gravely of a still higher thing when he wrote on his

twenty-fifth birthday, January 2, 1752, to reassure his mother about the strength of his religion.

Later on in the year, having secured leave of absence, he wrote to his mother in the best of spirits. He
asked her to look after all the little things he wished to have done. 'Mr Pattison sends a pointer to

Blackheath; if you will order him to be tied up in your stable, it will oblige me much. If you hear of a

servant who can dress a wig it will be a favour done me to engage him. I have another favour to beg of

you and you'll think it an odd one: 'tis to order some currant jelly to be made in a crock for my use. It is

the custom in Scotland to eat it in the morning with bread.' Then he proposed to have a shooting-lodge in

the Highlands, long before any other Englishman seems to have thought of what is now so common.

'You know what a whimsical sort of person I am. Nothing pleases me now but hunting, shooting, and

fishing. I have distant notions of taking a very little house, remote upon the edge of the forest, merely for

sport.'

In July he left the Highlands, which were then, in some ways, as wild as Labrador is now. About this
time there was a map made by a Frenchman in Paris which gave all the chief places in the Lowlands

quite rightly, but left the north of Scotland blank, with the words 'Unknown land here, inhabited by the

"Iglandaires"!' When his leave began Wolfe went first to Dublin - 'dear, dirty Dublin,' as it used to be

called - where his uncle, Major Walter Wolfe, was living. He wrote to his father: 'The streets are crowded

with people of a large size and well limbed, and the women very handsome. They have clearer skins, and

fairer complexions than the women in England or Scotland, and are exceeding straight and well made';

which shows that he had the proper soldier's eye for every pretty girl. Then he went to London and

visited his parents in their new house at the corner of Greenwich Park, which stands to-day very much

the same as it was then. But, wishing to travel, he succeeded, after a great deal of trouble, in getting leave

to go to Paris. Lord Bury was a friend of his, and Lord Bury's father, the Earl of Albemarle, was the

British ambassador there. So he had a good chance of seeing the best of everything. Perhaps it would be

almost as true to say that he had as good a chance of seeing the worst of everything. For there were a

great many corrupt and corrupting men and women at the French court. There was also much misery in

France, and both the corruption and the misery were soon to trouble New France, as Canada was then

called, even more than they troubled Old France at home.

Wolfe wished to travel about freely, to see the French armies at work, and then to go on to Prussia to see
how Frederick the Great managed his perfectly disciplined army. This would have been an excellent

thing to do. But it was then a very new thing for an officer to ask leave to study foreign armies.

Moreover, the chief men in the British Army did not like the idea of letting such a good colonel go away

from his regiment for a year, even though he was going with the object of making himself a still better

 

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