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

of the old mother country. This 'Greater Britain' is now so vast and well established that we are apt to
forget those other empires beyond the seas which, each in its own day, surpassed the British Empire of

the same period. There was a Greater Portugal, a Greater Spain, a Greater Holland, and a Greater France.

France and Holland still have large oversea possessions; and a whole new-world continent still speaks

the languages of Spain and Portugal. But none of them has kept a growing empire oversea as their British

rival has. What made the difference? The two things that made all the difference in the world were

freedom and sea-power. We cannot stop to discuss freedom, because that is more the affair of statesmen;

but, at the same time, we must not forget that the side on which Wolfe fought was the side of freedom.

The point for us to notice here is that all the freedom and all the statesmen and all the soldiers put

together could never have made a Greater Britain, especially against all those other rivals, unless Wolfe's

side had also been the side of sea-power.

Now, sea-power means more than fighting power at sea; it means trading power as well. But a nation
cannot trade across the sea against its rivals if its own ships are captured and theirs are not. And long

before the Second Hundred Years' War with France the other sea-trading empires had been gradually

giving way, because in time of war their ships were always in greater danger than those of the British

were. After the English Navy had defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588 the Spaniards began, slowly but

surely, to lose their chance of making a permanent Greater Spain. After the great Dutch War, when Blake

defeated Van Tromp in 1653, there was no further chance of a permanent Greater Holland. And, even

before the Dutch War and the Armada, the Portuguese, who had once ruled the Indian Ocean and who

had conquered Brazil, were themselves conquered by Spain and shut out from all chance of establishing

a Greater Portugal.

So the one supreme point to be decided by the Second Hundred Years' War lay between only two rivals,
France and Britain. Was there to be a Greater France or a Greater Britain across the seas? The answer

depended on the rival navies. Of course, it involved many other elements of national and Imperial power

on both sides. But no other elements of power could have possibly prevailed against a hostile and

triumphant navy.

Everything that went to make a Greater France or a Greater Britain had to cross the sea - men, women,
and children, horses and cattle, all the various appliances a civilized people must take with them when

they settle in a new country. Every time there was war there were battles at sea, and these battles were

nearly always won by the British. Every British victory at sea made it harder for French trade, because

every ship between France and Greater France ran more risk o being taken, while every ship between

Britain and Greater Britain stood a better chance of getting safely through. This affected everything on

both competing sides in America. British business went on. French business almost stopped dead. Even

the trade with the Indians living a thousand miles inland was changed in favour of the British and against

the French, as all the guns and knives and beads and everything else that the white man offered to the

Indian in exchange for his furs had to come across the sea, which was just like an enemy's country to

every French ship, but just like her own to every British one. Thus the victors at sea grew continually

stronger in America, while the losers grew correspondingly weaker. When peace came, the French only

had time enough to build new ships and start their trade again before the next war set them back once

more; while the British had nearly all their old ships, all those they had taken from the French, and many

new ones.

But where did Wolfe come in? He came in at the most important time and place of all, and he did the
most important single deed of all. This brings us to the consideration of how the whole of the Second

 

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