Classic History Books


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

glorious, we must first look at the whole course of British history to see how it was that France and
England ever became such deadly rivals. It is quite wrong to suppose that the French and British were

always enemies, though they have often been called 'historic' and 'hereditary' foes, as if they never could

make friends at all. As a matter of fact, they have had many more centuries of peace than of war; and

ever since the battle of Waterloo, in 1815, they have been growing friendlier year by year. But this happy

state of affairs is chiefly because, as we now say, their 'vital interests no longer clash'; that is, they do not

both desire the same thing so keenly that they have to fight for it.

Their vital interests do not clash now. But they did clash twice in the course of their history. The first
time was when both governments wished to rule the same parts of the land of France. The second time

was when they both wished to rule the same parts of the oversea world. Each time there was a long series

of wars, which went on inevitably until one side had completely driven its rival from the field.

The first long series of wars took place chiefly in the fourteenth century and is known to history as the
Hundred Years' War. England held, and was determined to hold, certain parts of France. France was

determined never to rest till she had won them for herself. Whatever other things the two nations were

supposed to be fighting about, this was always the one cause of strife that never changed and never could

change till one side or other had definitely triumphed. France won. There were glorious English victories

at Cressy and Agincourt. Edward III and Henry V were two of the greatest soldiers of any age. But,

though the English often won the battles, the French won the war. The French had many more men, they

fought near their own homes, and, most important of all, the war was waged chiefly on land. The English

had fewer men, they fought far away from their homes, and their ships could not help them much in the

middle of the land, except by bringing over soldiers and food to the nearest coast. The end of it all was

that the English armies were worn out; and the French armies, always able to raise more and more fresh

men, drove them, step by step, out of the land completely.

The second long series of wars took place chiefly in the eighteenth century. These wars have never been
given one general name; but they should be called the Second Hundred Years' War, because that is what

they really were. They were very different from the wars that made up the first Hundred Years' War,

because this time the fight was for oversea dominions, not for land in Europe. Of course navies had a

good deal to do with the first Hundred Years' War and armies with the second. But the navies were even

more important in the second than the armies in the first. The Second Hundred Years' War, the one in

which Wolfe did such a mighty deed, began with the fall of the Stuart kings of England in 1688 and went

on till the battle of Waterloo in 1815. But the beginning and end that meant most to the Empire were the

naval battles of La Hogue in 1692 and Trafalgar in 1805. Since Trafalgar the Empire has been able to

keep what it had won before, and to go on growing as well, because all its different parts are joined

together by the sea, and because the British Navy has been, from that day to this, stronger than any other

navy in the world.

How the French and British armies and navies fought on opposite sides, either alone or with allies, all
over the world, from time to time, for these hundred and twenty-seven years; how all the eight wars with

different names formed one long Second Hundred Years' War; and how the British Navy was the

principal force that won the whole of this war, made the Empire, and gave Canada safety then, as it gives

her safety now - all this is much too long a story to tell here. But the gist of it may be told in a very few

words, at least in so far as it concerns the winning of Canada and the deeds of Wolfe.

The name 'Greater Britain' is often used to describe all the parts of the British Empire which lie outside

 

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