Classic History Books


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

whole New World, and before most people on either side of the Atlantic understood what a great oversea
empire meant at all, he said: 'This will sometime hence, be a vast empire, the seat of power and learning.

Nature has refused them nothing, and there will grow a people out of our little spot, England, that will fill

this vast space, and divide this great portion of the globe with the Spaniards, who are possessed of the

other half of it.'

On arriving in England Wolfe had reported his presence to the commander-in-chief, Lord Ligonier,
requesting leave of absence in order that he might visit his relatives. This was granted, and the Wolfe

family met together once more and for the last time.

Though he said little about it, Wolfe must have snatched some time for Katherine Lowther, his second
love, to whom he was now engaged. What had happened between him and his first love, Miss Lawson,

will probably never be known. We know that his parents were opposed to his marrying her. Perhaps, too,

she may not have been as much in love as he was. But, for whatever reason, they parted. Then he fell in

love with beautiful Katherine Lowther, a sister to the Earl of Lonsdale and afterwards Duchess of Bolton.

Meanwhile Pitt was planning for his Empire Year of 1759, the year of Ferdinand at Minden, Wolfe at
Quebec, and Hawke in Quiberon Bay. Before Pitt had taken the war in hand nearly everything had gone

against the British. Though Clive had become the British hero of India in 1757, and Wolfe of Louisbourg

in 1758, there had hitherto been more defeats than victories. Minorca had been lost in 1756; in America

Braddock's army had been destroyed in 1755; and Montcalm had won victories at Oswego in 1756, at

Fort William Henry in 1757, and at Ticonderoga in 1758. More than this, in 1759 the French were

preparing fleets and armies to invade England, Ireland, and Scotland; and the British people were

thinking rather of their own defence at home than of attacking the French abroad.

Pitt, however, rightly thought that vigorous attacks from the sea were the best means of defence at home.
From London he looked out over the whole world: at France and her allies in the centre, at French India

on his far left, and at French Canada on his far right; with the sea dividing his enemies and uniting his

friends, if only he could hold its highways with the British Navy.

To carry out his plans Pitt sent a small army and a great deal of money to Frederick the Great, to help
him in the middle of Europe against the Russians, Austrians, and French. At the same time he let Anson

station fleets round the coast of France, so that no strong French force could get at Britain or Greater

Britain, or go to help Greater France, without a fight at sea. Then, having cut off Canada from France and

taken her outpost at Louisbourg, he aimed a death-blow at her very heart by sending Saunders, with a

quarter of the whole British Navy, against Quebec, the stronghold of New France, where the land attack

was to be made by a little army of 9,000 men under Wolfe. Even this was not the whole of Pitt's plan for

the conquest of Canada. A smaller army was to be sent against the French on the Great Lakes, and a

larger one, under Amherst, along the line of Lake Champlain, towards Montreal.

Pitt did a very bold thing when he took a young colonel and asked the king to make him a general and
allow him to choose his own brigadiers and staff officers. It was a bold thing, because, whenever there is

a position of honour to be given, the older men do not like being passed over and all the politicians who

think of themselves first and their country afterwards wish to put in their own favourites. Wolfe, of

course, had enemies. Dullards often think that men of genius are crazy, and some one had told the king

that Wolfe was mad. 'Mad, is he?' said the king, remembering all the recent British defeats on land 'then I

hope he'll bite some of my other generals!' Wolfe was not able to give any of his seniors his own and

Lord Howe's kind of divine 'madness' during that war. But he did give a touch of it to many of his

 

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