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crimes with which they are so soon to ruin their declivity of a hill overlooking the romantic stream country! That moment of guilty triumph come, avenging everything, they avenge on the mouldering corpse of their illustrious denouncer even the reminiscences of their fear. One of the last acts of their ferocious despotism was to remove it to some secret spot in an obscure cemetery, that the tomb awarded by the nation might be occupied by the bloodthirsty but now quenched Marat.
Such, then, was the death, and such its accessories, of the last of the Mirabeaus—a man who, by his qualities no less than by the singularity of his fortune, is destined to take his place in history by the side of the Demosthenes, the Gracchi, and the other kindred spirits of an antiquity whose gigantic characteristics he so frequently reproduced. Posterity, which will probably recognize in him one of the greatest geniuses of an age fertile in great men, will only enhance its admiration before the doubts thrown out of the enormous chasms in his greatness. As the hazy masses in the lunar face, those unfathomable phenomena suggest but grotesque images to the ignorant, while increasing admiration in others with their very means of knowledge; so probably will this gigantic character, slighted and unconsidered by meaner intellects, elicit each day more from the comprehensions that can grasp it, a deeper scrutiny and augmenting wonder.
From Tait's Magazine. ORIGINAL CORRESPONDENCE OF GENERAL
In the galaxy of brilliant names which illuminate our military annals, there are probably few which Britons regard with more honest pride, and almost affectionate interest, than that of the young and gallant Wolfe. This arises, not less from his consummate genius in the art of war, than from the nobleness of soul and gentleness of disposition by which he was distinguished; while the sentiment in his favor is deepened, and our feelings stimulated, by reflecting on the splendor of his great and final achievement, when, on the Heights of Abraham, victory snatched him too soon from his country, and claimed him as her own. Anything, therefore, which tends to illustrate the life and cast of thought of this excellent man, and real hero, cannot fail to prove interesting. A small packet of letters, written by Wolfe to a very intimate friend and brother officer, having been lately discovered amongst the papers of a relative of that friend, in Glasgow, access has been kindly allowed to them, and permission given to make extracts.
But, before approaching these letters, now for the first time made public, and roused from the dust of nearly a century, some remarks on the aspect of the times in which Wolfe lived, and a brief sketch of his own history, seem to be necessary, in order to elucidate the contents of the packet, and that the import may be better understood.
James Wolfe was born on the 2d January, 1727, at Westerham, in Kent. This pretty little town is situated near the west border of the county, on the
of the Dart, which rises in the vicinity, and, after pursuing a meandering course through a district of much natural beauty, falls into the Thames, below London. He was the only son of the veteran General Edward Wolfe, who had distinguished himself under Marlborough, and in the suppression of the Scotch Rebellion of 1715. Destined, in like manner, for the profession of arms, young Wolfe was taken from his studies, part of which had been at the College of Glasgow, and entered the regiment which bore his father's name, at the early age of fifteen. This was in 1741, only four years previous to the last Rebellion. The period at which he thus became a soldier was one of uncommon interest in the national history. It was in the interval between two rebellions, when the north part of the island, but more especially that section included in the Highlands, was comparatively little known and little cared for. Indeed, of the Highlands it may safely be said that the greatest ignorance had, till about the year of Wolfe's birth, prevailed. The edge of the ancient animosity between the people of the northern and the southern divisions of this island, now happily broken and removed, was still keen. The Scottish mind was filled with distrust; it rankled with the remembrance of the treachery which forced on Scotland the then hated Union. The Hanoverian succession was by no means popular in the north; and men's minds fluctuated between the old and the new race of kings.
The Rebellion of 1715, and the prominent part taken in it by the mountain clans, had, however, seriously alarmed the government of that day, and prompted a more close inspection of Scotland and her warlike hill-tribes. As already said, little was known of the Highlands, beyond what fatal experience had recently taught, namely, that their dreary recesses were filled with wild and hardy warriors, who held the comparatively peaceful men of the plains in contempt, for cultivating vocations opposed to their own, of clan-strife and war. They were, therefore, ready, on the least signal from their chiefs, to descend with the fury of a mountain tempest on the inhabitants of the Lowlands, and carry devastation around them, with little or no check at the hands of a timid government.
There is a very curious and instructive report to George I., by Wade, the intelligent and able military officer he had sent to reconnoitre the Highlands, and bring back an account of their military strength, resources, and prevalent political sentiment, with such suggestions as seemed to the general best calculated to hold this troublesome frontier in check, and promote the internal improvement of the hill-country. The report bears date 31st January, 1725, shortly before the monarch's death, and ten years after the rebellion of 1715, which, as already said, Wolfe's father had assisted in suppressing. This able report is characterized by the discrimination and calm good sense for which Wade was remarkable. In it he gives an account of the features of the wild region, estimating the fighting men at about 22,000, of whom fully one half were disaffected to
which the bones of the brave mouldered into dust, with its small white headstones partially hid under mossy tufts and tangled weeds; but still telling us, in quaintly-shaped letters, that parties of the Buffs, (which afterwards fought at Culloden,) and other regiments, from time to time lay there.
the king, the kind and quality of their arms, mode | the nettle and foxglove rustle within, as the sumof warfare, and cattle-thieving propensities. It mer wind plays idly through the ruins. The little contains a recommendation to have the clans proper-military graveyard, too, may still be traced, in ly disarmed, their country held with a firm grasp by means of forts, and rendered more accessible to the king's troops by lines of military roads. How curious to read his description of a country and a people, then nearly as dangerous to visit as the American wilds, but which is now the favorite retreat of royalty itself for recreation from the weight of state cares, and the chosen resort of tourists from every clime.
portions on the pale background. Silence, the most profound, reigns, broken only at intervals by the low moan of the night-wind, and the melancholy cry of the owl, as of some sprite wailing over the past.
The scene is even more impressive when viewed by night, with the beams of an autumnal moon streaming and sparkling on the dusky lake, illumiThe report was acted upon. To Wade was as-nating the ruin in some places with a silvery light, signed the duty of carrying out his own recom- and throwing the deep, elongated shadows of other mendations of disarming the clans, and constructing the roads. The former was a delicate task, which he executed with judicious moderation; so much so, that even Rob Roy wrote him a curious letter, still preserved, praising that moderation, and soliciting his clemency. The military roads were carried into the heart of the Scottish wilderness. Two main lines were formed, and attest, at the distance of more than 100 years, the skill of this excellent officer. He took the ancient Roman Iters for his model, and, in fact, started his roads from their venerable lines, at nearly right angles west and north-west, across the dreary country, towards the preexisting forts on the chain of the great Scottish lakes, now connected by the Caledonian Canal. These roads stretched over 250 miles; and 500 soldiers labored upwards of 11 years in their formation. They were finished in 1737, about the time that Wolfe was a student at Glasgow College.
Such was Scotland in his day; and it was in that country that he wrote the first of the letters to be quoted from. As already stated, Wolfe entered the army in 1741. Soon afterwards (the precise date is uncertain, but before the battle of Culloden) this young officer was stationed, as a subaltern, with a body of troops, at the small fort of Inversnaid, built soon after the Rebellion of 1715, at the mouth of the romantic gorge stretching between Loch Lomond and the wild and picturesque region round Loch Ketturin and the Trossachs, to keep the turbulent M'Gregors and Rob Roy in check. This fortified ravine formed the line of demarkation between the countries of the bold M'Gregors, and of the loyal and once numerous clan Buchanan; the upper shores of Loch Lomond skirting the former, and the lower the Buchanan's territory, which last included the lofty, broad-shouldered Ben, and the group of beautiful, green-wooded islets that stud the bosom of the "Queen of Scottish Lakes," affording friendly access to the troops, or "red soldiers," sent up from Dumbarton Castle in boats.
The gray ruins of this antique little Inversnaid Fort still linger in peaceful repose. The armed men who there kept ward, and the fiery tribes they were intended to overawe, have alike long passed away. But there it stands, as their memorial-its old walls, in some places, kindly screened from the wild mountain blast by the mantling ivy, while
We can imagine the talented young soldier, surrounded by the grandeur of nature, which must have made a deep impression on his sensitive mind, studying, in this little Highland fortlet, that art which, at no distant day, was to make his name illustrious. How long Wolfe remained at Inversnaid and Dumbarton is uncertain; but we next find him serving under the Duke of Cumberland, at the battle of Culloden, in 1746. Wolfe must have had rapid promotion, for he was by that time a major, (at the age of 20,) and acted as aide-decamp to the worthless General Hawley on that bloody day.
Never was there a greater contrast than between the brutal Cumberland and the amiable young major. The latter, brave as a lion, yet kindly in his disposition as a young child; the former, the counterpart of a tiger in all its cruelty and bloodthirstiness. Wolfe, a prodigy of military skill; Cumberland, indebted to the accident of being a king's son for a command which tarnished our arms at Fontenoy, outraged humanity in Scotland, and, at a later period, compelled him to retire from the army, a disgrace to his profession, haunted by the ghosts of the murdered old men, the wounded brave, the helpless women and children ruthlessly cut down by this detestable and well-named "human butcher." A single illustration will show the truth of this contrast. field of battle, after the engagement, the duke observed the young colonel of the Frazer Regiment lying wounded. Frazer raised himself on his elbow, and looked at Cumberland, who, offended, turned and said, "Wolfe! shoot me that Highland scoundrel, who thus dares to look upon us with so insolent a stare!" Wolfe, horrified at this inhuman order, coolly replied that his commission was at his royal highness' disposal, but that he never would consent to become an executioner. Other officers also refusing, a private soldier, at the duke's command, shot the gallant, wounded young Frazer before his eyes!
When riding over the
In the following year, (1747,) Wolfe distinguished himself very much by his personal bravery at the battle of Lafeldt, in Austrian Flanders. He
was present at every engagement during that war, and never without distinction. He also applied himself closely, not only to the improvement of his own military talents, but to the introduction and maintenance of the most exact discipline in the corps, then generally too little attended to. This he did without any unnecessary severity. He showed himself, in all his relations, a good, a brave, an intelligent, and high-minded soldier.
the United States, and the French possessed Canada. There was much bickering between the two countries, in regard to the encroachments by France on the British territory, more particularly along the Ohio. This ended in that war, which, a few years after, drew Wolfe to his destiny. This will explain the circumstances under which the second, and some of the other letters, were written by him to his friend.
We find from this curious correspondence that, in 1751, Wolfe had been removed to Banff; and he appears to have finally quitted Scotland in, or prior to, 1754. Some curious matter will be found in letters Nos. 4, 6, 7, expressive of Wolfe's views of the Highlands, and the proper way of keeping them in subjection, consequent on his residence in, and observation of, that section of the kingdom. Without following him in all his
Pitt came into power, in 1757, he resolved, if possible, to remove the stains which various reverses had thrown on our arms, by employing officers of known skill and enterprise, instead of those imbeciles who had been too often in command under former administrations, more particularly that of the Duke of Newcastle. Among the first of Pitt's plans was a descent on the French coast at Rochefort. In this affair Wolfe was employed. But the warlike minister erred, in not sufficiently defining his plan of operation, and in dividing and frittering the command among no less than seven officers. The consequences were what might have been expected. Differences of opinion arose among the commanders, followed by irresolution and fatal delays.
In 1749, the year after the peace, he was stationed in Glasgow, and, during his stay there, was promoted lieutenant-colonel of Kingsley's Regiment. But the Glasgow of that period was a very different town from the city of the present day. Its population did not exceed 20,000; and it did not stretch further along its now great arterial street than the head of Stockwell on the west, and where the old Saracen's Head Inn yet stands, at the ancient Gallowgate port, on the east. Indeed, movements, it may be said that, when the elder it was in that very year that this fine old hotel, the first, and for many a day the most celebrated in the city, and west of Scotland, was erected. There were no barracks in Glasgow then; and Wolfe, desirous of retirement to pursue his studies in Latin and Mathematics, which had been interrupted by his early admission into the army, lodged a short way out of town; in the now droll-looking old village of Camlachie, then quite a rural spot. The house he lived in was pulled down only three or four years ago, and stood at the north-west corner of the road leading down to a villa afterwards built, and named Crownpoint, after one of the celebrated scenes of conflict in North America. This residence of Wolfe was a small, quaint-looking, two-story house; and we can fancy the young Wolfe in vain urged instant and vigorous colonel, in this primitive and peaceful abode, at action. In this he was seconded by the gallant the age of twenty-two, acquiring part of his edu- young Howe, a naval officer with whom he had cation through the instrumentality of a Glasgow contracted a close intimacy as a kindred spirit ; schoolmaster! This we learn from the first letter but to no purpose. They were overruled by the of the series to be afterwards quoted. Let not other five; and, finally, the enterprise completely people think slightingly of Camlachie village, in failed. The troops returned to England, and connection with Wolfe's name. It is the most Wolfe and Howe were not backward in expressing ancient of the suburbs, and is mentioned in the their indignation at the blundering which led to chartulary of Glasgow prior to the year 1300, the this unsuccessful result. Wolfe's sentiments on days of Sir William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. The name is genuine Celtic, and has been imposed at a very remote time. The etymology is "the crooked water," singularly descriptive of the tortuous burn which intersects the village, and there forms the boundary of the royalty.
While thus stationed in Glasgow, Wolfe was called upon to the somewhat inglorious duty of suppressing a riot in the town, caused by a party of resurrectionists raising a dead body! It is uncertain how long Wolfe remained at Glasgow; but it would rather appear, from one of the letters, that he was still there in 1750. By this time the friend to whom they were written had embarked, with a division of the army, under Cornwallis, for the purpose of settling a strong British colony in Nova Scotia, which had been much neglected. The town of Halifax, fortified with a wooden palisade, began to rise in the wilderness. At that time Britain still held the splendid region, now
this expedition are expressed in the letter No. 9, written to his friend after coming home.
Pitt now turned his attention to the French possessions in North America, and determined to strike a blow there. An expedition was accordingly ordered against Louisbourg, the principal town of Cape Breton. Wolfe was again employed. The principal command was committed to General Amherst, a good officer, having under him Wolfe and three other brigadiers, with a force of 13,000 men, and a powerful fleet. The expedition sailed from England early in 1758. The letter No. 11 was written immediately before embarking. In this important affair Wolfe behaved with the greatest skill and intrepidity. Louisbourg had a numerous garrison; and the shore, for more than seven miles, was defended by a chain of posts, with intrenchments and batteries. In order to distract the enemy's attention a false attack was resolved on, to mask the real one which was to
be made by Wolfe. His division consisted of the grenadiers and light infantry of the army, with Frazer's Highlanders. Before break of day of the 8th June, the troops were embarked in the boats; and, while the false attack was going on under Brigadiers Whitmore and Laurence, Wolfe's division, under cover of the fire of several frigates and sloops, dashed boldly towards the shore, through a tremendous surf, which upset several of the boats, and drowned a number of soldiers. The landing place was defended by a large body of French troops, intrenched behind a battery of eight guns. They reserved their fire till the English came close, when they opened with great execution. But nothing could resist Wolfe's impetuous attack. He was the first officer to leap on shore, amidst a shower of bullets, and issued his orders with his usual coolness and precision. Heading, in person, the light infantry and Highlanders, he carried everything before him at the point of the bayonet, pursuing the enemy to the very walls of Louisbourg. The town was invested; and, by a series of skilful manœuvres on the part of Wolfe, he mainly contributed to the final capture of this important place. His conduct throughout this affair was the theme of general admiration, both in the army and at home, and tended still more to raise him in the estimation of Mr. Pitt. That able minister had signified his wish, when conferring on Wolfe the rank of brigadier, preparatory to setting out on the Louisbourg expedition, that, immediately after its termination, he should return to England, instead of remaining with the troops abroad. Wolfe accordingly did so, and the letter No. 12 was written after his return. In it he comments freely on the expedition, and does not appear to have thought at all favorably of the plan of attack; in fact, he says he anticipated a repulse. This letter is the last of the packet, and is the more interesting as being dated only about two months before departing again for America on his final and memorable campaign against Quebec.
The object of Pitt's wish to have Wolfe back to England was now made known. He had determined to give him the principal command in a still more important expedition which he had planned. It was to be on a great scale, and to embrace three distinct objects. The chief part, however, was the capture of Quebec, the key to the French dominions in Canada. The plan, in all its parts, was this:-Wolfe, with a large body of troops, and aided by a powerful fleet, was to sail up the St. Lawrence, and besiege Quebec. Amherst, the commander-in-chief in British America, with 12,000 men, was to attack Ticonderoga and Crownpoint, (from which we had formerly been repulsed,) both situated in a very formidable pass; while General Prideaux was to invest the strong fort near the Falls of Niagara, commanding the approach to the great lakes. These two last officers, after accomplishing the capture of the places assigned to them, were to find their way to Quebec, and assist Wolfe, the strength of whose division was not considered sufficient by itself to effect the LIVING AGE. VOL. XXIV. 11
capture of a fortress considered the strongest in America. In short, all the principal French posts were to be attacked at once.
Accordingly, Wolfe left England on the 17th of February, 1759, after having been promoted to the rank of major-general. Three young brigadiers of talent accompanied him, not a single veteran officer of note being employed. Suffice it to say, that the two portions of the grand plan, under Amherst and Prideaux, were successful, though the latter was killed in the trenches; but difficulties prevented the forces of either from forming a junction with Wolfe. He was, therefore, left alone, with a very inadequate division of troops, not exceeding 8000 men, to undertake the important task assigned to him. Only fancy such an enterprise devolved on a young officer, such as Wolfe was, of 33! But he was not to be daunted, even by the most formidable difficulties.
In order, however, to form a better estimate of Wolfe's arduous task, it seems necessary to describe briefly the position and aspect of the fortress, destined to immortalize England's young general. Quebec stands on the summit of steep cliffs, at the confluence of two rivers-the great St. Lawrence, and the inferior stream of St. Charles. These rivers, associated with gloomy ravines and dismal rocks, rendered the plateau, on which the French capital stood, nearly inaccessible on three sides. The mighty American river flowed solemnly and impressively along the base. The breadth of the stream is narrowed at this point to little more than a mile. A short way further down, and nearly in the centre of the river, stands the large and fertile island of Orleans, the westernmost point of which is considerably elevated, and within cannon-range of Quebec. This almost impregnable French fortress (the Gibraltar of America) bristled with cannon, which commanded and swept the subjacent waters; it was skilfully fortified, and flanked by the most formidable intrenchments, while within its massive ramparts lay upwards of ten thousand of the best troops of France, under a young French marquis, whose military renown eminently fitted him to sustain his country's honor, and measure his sword with victory's brave son. It is both an impressive and affecting incident, inscribed on war's dread page, that two young heroes, each far separated from his fatherland by the broad, stormy billows of the vast Atlantic, and left to his own skill and resources, should have been selected, respectively, by England and France, to lead their veteran troops-a duty heretofore assigned, on the battle-fields of Europe, chiefly to those whose plumes surmounted the furrowed brows and whitened locks of age, and whose energies had been severely tested in many a hard-fought campaign. Montcalm and Wolfe were, indeed, of kindred minds, and each knew the other's value as a skilful soldier, exerting their military talents in the cause of their native land.
Such was Quebec, and such were the leaders who were to play for the prize. Both were conscious of the magnitude of the stake, and both
with combustibles, and explosive missiles, were next sent, but shared the same fate.
were resolved to triumph. The Gallic war-eagle | crowded vessels, and left them idly to consume
Wolfe now resolved to cross, and reconnoitre.
man-of-war; but a party of English grenadiers, who were first across, rushed towards the point of Wolfe disembarked a large portion of his troops attack prematurely, without waiting to be properly on the river-island of Orleans, before noticed; and supported, and were received with such murderous erected batteries to cannonade the town and citadel, volleys that they recoiled, and withdrew with loss, which he did with much effect. Almost the first disconcerting entirely the general's plan. Wolfe, thing, however, that suggested itself to him in laboring under fever, occasioned in some measure commencing hostilities, was characteristic of his by fatigue and prolonged exertion on a frame not generous heart. He wrote a polite note to Mont-naturally robust,* called a council of war. calm, inviting him to abandon the cruelties perpe-another dispatch to Mr. Pitt, he stated clearly, trated by the wild Indians in the French service, and in his usual pithy style, the difficulties of the on those who fell into their power; but this did not enterprise, but added, “I will do my best." meet the favorable response due to humanity. now resolved to attempt a surprise; but the obstacles to this were as a thousand to one, from the natural and artificial strength of the place, and the unremitting vigilance of the enemy. Behind the city, the Plains of Abraham stretch away, and on this inland side the fortifications were ascertained to be less formidable. But there were heights to be surmounted of fully three hundred vertical feet before the plains could be reached. The general. after consulting Admiral Saunders, resolved on a night-escalade of these now celebrated Heights of Abraham, at a point he thought practicable. Could the idea possibly have suggested itself to his mind from recollection of the success of a similar nocturnal ascent, in ancient times, of the steep cliffs Know-on which the Castle of Dumbarton stands-a stronghold which he himself had held and carefully examined, while a subaltern officer?
The marquis, seeing Wolfe's operations on the
ing this, Montcalm, in the midst of the tempest,
In order to mask this strategy, the Admiral sailed up the St. Lawrence a considerable distance,
* Vide his own account of himself in letter No. 12.