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wards Duchesse de Talleyrand and de Sagan, 1831-1835. 
Edited with Note and a Biographical Index by Princesse 
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*THK Hudson's bay company,* *the romance of Canada,* etc. 

" Being of the profession of arms, I would seek all occasions to serve " 




Copyright^ Londotty 1909, hy ff^illiam Heinemann 


Lieut .-Colonel 
C. A. M. WARDE, D.L., J. P. 






The singular privilege has fallen to my lot of being so familiar, 
through birth and residence, with localities, objects and writings 
associated with the subject of this memoir that I can scarcely 
recall a time when the man has not been an intimate — when I did 
not feel I knew this tall, battle-worn young soldier far better than 
many whose forms moved about me and with whom I spoke in the 

I have sought as far as possible to let the letters tell the story 
of his life, though I am fully conscious of the responsibility I incur 
in giving Wolfe's letters to the world thus unabridged ; for, in 
truth, they offer a much more intimate glimpse into this world- 
hero''s character (and into the domestic and official life of his day) 
than any yet offered, and in so far may expose him to the 
misapprehensions and the censure of minds little accustomed to 
appraise genius. Litter a script a manet. How many shadowy 
saints have emerged from the ordeal of publicity as certain 
sinners ? No man is at his best in dressing-gown and slippers, 
and martial heroes are seldom heroic and often not very martial 
in the intimacy of the family relation. Scores of these letters of 
Wolfe's are effusions prompted by the filial duty of a self-educating 
youth dealing with family and personal topics, and are by no means 
to be taken as reflecting or illustrating his rarer and public 

But there are others even amongst his letters to his parents of 
a different character, letters evincing sound sense, the process of 
his severe self-discipline, a clear insight into human nature. In 
the epistles to his friend Rickson and notably in the one to Thomas 
Townshend, there is further testimony to the truth of Napier's 
dictum that no example can be shown in our military history of a 
great general who was not also a well-read man. 


Taking the letters as they stand, making all allowances for 
the careless phrasing of some and the obsolete interest of others, 
with what feelings do we arise from their perusal ? We are con- 
vinced, if ever we needed conviction, that the hand that penned 
them was of astonishing precocity and power — that this singular 
youth was to war what the younger Pitt was to politics or John 
Keats to letters ; we are convinced that through all his vagaries, and 
there were many, through all his foibles, his passionate dissatis- 
faction, his impatience of fools, there shines inextinguishably the 
lamp of genius. Scan the muster of the martial heroes of England, 
and where will you match such ardour of soul, such purity of 
patriotism, such zeal for arms, such contempt for danger, such 
devotion to duty ? Perhaps in Nelson, in Gordon, in John 
Nicholson ; and it is amongst such names as these at the head of 
the scroll that the name of Wolfe must be for ever inscribed. 

This book I may call the natural fruit of a long sentimental 
relationship. When as a child, born in the province which his 
victory assured to us of British blood, I strayed about the spot 
where Wolfe'^s valiant spirit escaped from his frail body, I little 
dreamt that my destiny would lead me to make a home in my 
hero's native village on the other side of the rolling seas — nay, in 
the very house which of old resounded to his boyish laughter. 

It was pleasant to me to reflect as I transcribed many of these 
letters at Squerryes Court that I had stood on the rolling meadow 
where once stood Louisbourg (where, in a flock of peacefully reposing 
sheep, I could almost have fancied I beheld the army of my keen- 
eyed brigadier asleep) ; that the paths he trod in the course of his 
regimental service in this kingdom from Banff* to Exeter, from 
Bristol to Dover, I also have trod ; that I sought out his quarters 
in Paris and Ghent and Ostend because they were his. 

Brief as it is, Mr. Bradley's monograph upon Wolfe deserves 
always to be read for the fluent charm of his narrative. To 
Wolfe's first biographer, Robert Wright, I pay a deserved tribute, 
and by reason of his labours owe to him many notes of interest. 
Within the past half-century a great fund of Wolfiana has come 
to light, and about the final catastrophe on the Plains of Abraham 
a whole literature clusters. I have availed myself of all the more 


recent works in my endeavour to clarify the account of the 
Quebec campaign, especially those of Mr. Doughty (the Dominion 
Archivist), Mr. Julian Corbett, General C. V. F. Townshend, and 
Colonel William Wood. 

But it is on the unpublished letters of Wolfe himself that I 
chiefly rely in making my appeal to the public with the present 
volume, although I am aware that, to many, the portraits and 
numerous illustrations I have collected and now offer for the first 
time may vie with the text in interest and value. 

Quebec House, Westerham, 

June 15, 1909. 





INDEX .... 







2, 1727 J 















married) I 293 

COLONEL Wolfe's quarters at devizes .... J 



[ 407 





GENERAL AT Quebec) 430 






1759 457 

brigadier-general hon. james murray 463 

quebec house, westerham ^ 

hall of quebec house, westerham ... / 

the heights of abraham . 476 

Wolfe's will 483 

wolfe at quebec 488 

the death of wolfe 494 

the death of general wolfe, by benjamin west . . . 498 








\ 502 










In the unusually warm summer of 1726, rumour, after in- 
dustriously speeding through the Kentish lanes and by-ways, 
brought the news by post to Mrs. Appleby of Streatham Hill 
that a certain Colonel Wolfe of York was coming to take up his 
residence in Westerham — "a middle-aged Collonel,"" adds the 
writer, "late married to a young and pretty Yorkshirewoman, 
Miss Thompson.""^ 

One can readily picture the pleasing inrush of interest and 
speculation on the part of the gentlefolk in the secluded little 
Kentish town concerning the advent from the North of the 
"middle-aged CoUonel"" and his bride. Westerham in the last 
year of the reign of his Majesty George I was in a state of 
transition. Old families had died out ; some few new ones had 
come in. For centuries society in the place had revolved, as, 
indeed, it does to-day, about Squerryes Court, and Squerryes had 
been recently inherited by a petulant young Earl of Jersey who 
got on ill with his neighbours and dependents, making, meanwhile, 
little secret of his desire to sell the place to the highest bidder and 
be quit of Squerryes and Westerham altogether. 

Ere that same summer waned, Westerham, destined to be the 
birthplace of the hero of these pages, saw the arrival of Lieutenant- 
Colonel Edward Wolfe and his lady, and by autumn the pair were 
settled in a picturesque, square-built, gabled house at the foot 
of the hill, called " Spiers," standing in two acres of meadow long 
known as the " Parish Meade." 

Gallant soldier and new-made Benedick, the new tenant of 
" Spiers " seemed destined (road-building and occasional visits to 
his regiment apart) to a long period of unmilitary repose. The 
pacific policy of the King's minister. Sir Robert Walpole, dis- 
couraged all hopes of active military employment, and doubtless 
this reflection had decided him to embark at last upon matrimony. 
Although more than ten years had elapsed since Lieutenant- 

^ Letter from Mrs. Mary Lewis to her sister, Mrs. Appleby, July 3, 1726. 


Colonel Wolfe's last active engagement with General Wade, 
chastising the refractory Highlanders in the rising of 1715, as his 
son was destined to do in that of 1745, he could yet look back on 
a busy and notable career. 

Born in 1685, at York, this Edward Wolfe was the son of 
Captain Edward Wolfe ^ and the grandson of Captain George 
Woulfe. The family of the Wolfes, or Woulfes, emigrated from 
Glamorganshire to Ireland in the fifteenth century in company 
with many impoverished and adventurous English gentry, amongst 
whom their kinsmen, the Seymours and the Goldsmiths, are 

It seems clear that the Wolfes, before they emigrated to 
Ireland, were of respectable stock. By the middle of the sixteenth 
century they had acquired estates in Ireland and a settled position 
in the western counties of Limerick and Clare, doubtless coming 
to be, as has been truly observed of the English settlers beyond 
" the pale," " more Irish than the Irish."*' It does not appear, 
however, that at this period they had ever intermarried with any 
of the native Celtic families, and it is doubtful if their illustrious 
descendant had any Celtic blood in his veins. 

In 1605 we find a James Woulfe one of the bailiffs of 
Limerick, and eight years later the sheriff, George Woulfe, direct 
ancestor of Edward Wolfe, was along with his fellow-sheriff and 
the Mayor of Limerick summarily dismissed for refusing to take 
the oath of supremacy to the "heretic"" James I of England.^ 

1 The mystery concerning General Wolfe's grandfather has been effect- 
ually cleared up by Mr. Charles Dalton, editor of the British Army Lists. He 
shows Edward Wolfe the elder to have been " turned out of the Irish army 
by Tyrconnel for being a Protestant," In 1689, William III appointed 
Edward Wolfe captain in Sir George St. George's Regiment of Foot. He 
served thirteen years in St. George's regiment and was wounded at Terra 
Nova in 1695. His commission was renewed by Queen Anne in 1702, the 
same year his son Edward's first commission was signed. 

2 Sir Henry Seymour, of Wolfe Hall, who was knighted at the coronation 
of his nephew. King Edward VI, married Barbara, daughter of Morgan Wolfe, 

^ I have adopted the genealogy given by Ferrar in his History of Limerick, 
1787 ; but there are several omissions and discrepancies in his account. 
Cromwell, writing from Ireland to the Speaker, December 19, 1749, reports 
that " Lieutenant-Colonel Wolfe (a person eminently faithful, godly and true 
to you) is dead at Youghal." The tradition is that this was Edward, the elder 
brother of George and Francis, who was early engaged in trade between 
Limerick and Bristol and afterwards joined the Parliamentary Army. There 
is a letter extant from Captain Edward Wolfe to Sir Thomas Barrington, 
chief man in Essex on the Parliamentary side, in which this passage occurs : 
*' He did upbraid me, being a tradesman, concerning my profession. I told 



A grandson of this contumacious sheriff, Francis Woulfe, joined 
the priesthood and became head of the Irish order of Franciscan 
friars, and, with his brother George, was destined to play a turbu- 
lent and fatal part in the wars of the Commonwealth. When 
the Duke of Ormond, eager on behalf of his royal master to 
defend the city of Limerick against the onset of CromwelFs army, 
arrived in February 1650, he issued a proclamation to the inhabi- 
tants calling upon them to co-operate with his troops and permit 
the introduction of a military garrison. Within the gates was a 
priestly faction inimical to the Duke, led by Friar Francis, who 
contemptuously rejected all the ducal overtures. As the danger grew 
imminent, Ormond's friends amongst bishops, nobility and gentry 
induced the people to consent to the quartering of a garrison just 
outside the walls of Limerick, but the Duke's hope of actually 
entering the city was frustrated by the friar, his brother George, 
and their faction, the keys being forcibly taken from the sheriff. 
Within the gates the well-meaning and zealous Ormond was 
openly defied as an enemy to his country. Wiser counsels ulti- 
mately prevailed, but the Duke, sick of the business, cut the nego- 
tiations short by saying he had no mind to venture within a place 
" where the will of a Franciscan monk was set above ecclesiastical 
and civil authority." Limerick might go its ways to its doom. 
Ormond departed to France. 

Duly the redoubtable Ireton laid successful siege to the city. 
In vain Friar Francis and his brother. Captain George Woulfe, 
urged the populace to protracted resistance : the accepted terms of 
capitulation secured the lives and goods of all but the fire-brands, 
the disaffected ones " who had opposed and restrained the deluded 
people from accepting the conditions so often offered to them."" 
Amongst the twenty proscribed traitors were Friar Francis Woulfe 
and his brother the Captain, great-grandfather of Wolfe of Quebec. 
Another, it is not without interest to know, was the great-grand- 
father of Edmund Burke. So the miserable, plague-stricken 
gaiTison laid down their arms and evacuated the city, the citizens 
standing by helplessly while the Roundhead troopers seized the 
delinquents and executed summary punishment upon them. 
Father Francis met his death doggedly, but the Captain, his 
brother, somehow escaped, slipping through Ireton 's fingers and 

him, though a tradesman, I could show my coat." Again, Octoher 21, 1648, 
a draft order was issued for the payment of £100 to Captain Edward Wolfe, 
(House of Lords Calendar), Hist. MS. Comm. : Barrington Papers. 
B 2 


sailing across the Channel to England. Nor did fortune there 
desert him ; he settled in Yorkshire, married, and adopted the 
Reformed faith. Thereafter the superfluous "u" is erased from 
his name, as it was from the Gouldsmiths. Of Captain George's 
son, Edward, we know little. It is believed that he obtained a 
lucrative appointment in King William's service in Ireland, married, 
and had several children, of whom Edward Wolfe, father of the 
future hero, was the eldest. 

In the first year of the reign of Queen Anne, when he was only 
sixteen, Edward was appointed second lieutenant of Marines, then 
commanded by Viscount Shannon. In 1705 his commission (still 
carefully preserved at Squerryes Court), shows him to have been 
made captain in Sir Richard Temple's regiment of foot. Three 
years later, when but twenty-three, we find him serving as 
Brigade-major with Marlborough in Flanders. A quiet, capable 
man, rather than a dashing, valiant one, in whom everybody, 
from commander to subaltern, seems to have had complete confi- 
dence. He continued to serve abroad with Marlborough until the 
peace of Utrecht, and, as already noted, accompanied Wade through 
Scotland during the Highland rising of 1715. Here his tact and 
military knowledge, rather than any influence he could command, 
bore fruit in a lieutenant-colonelcy a couple of years later, and 
with this rise, rapid in those days, when lieutenants of fifty and 
even sixty were common enough, Edward Wolfe had to be content 
for the next twenty years. One of his brothers, Walter, having 
also joined the army, was serving in Ireland as a lieutenant, and 
there, a bachelor, he ultimately settled.^ The Wolfes were a very 
clannish race, as we shall see, and very tenacious of their Irish 
connection both by blood and friendship. 

The prospect of further military advancement seeming hopeless, 
Edward visited his native Yorkshire, resolved to marry and found 
a family. He was lucky in his matrimonial choice, which fell upon 
Henrietta, daughter of Edward Thompson, Esquire, of Marsden 
in Yorkshire, and, on the maternal side, of the ancient family of 
Tindal of Brotherton, in the same county. Miss Thompson was, 
at the time of her marriage to Lieutenant-Colonel Wolfe, in her 
twenty-fourth year, some eighteen years her husband's junior. A 
tall brunette, with a complexion of great brilliancy, " you have, 
through your whole time," her son wrote to her a quarter of a 
century later, " been a match for all the beauties, your contem- 

1 He entered the army in 1704 as ensign in tlie Earl of Orrery's 
Regiment of Foot. 


poraries.'"' Making all allowance for filial partiality, Mrs. Wolfe 
may be conceded to have been a handsome woman. One physiog- 
nomical peculiarity she had — obscured, perhaps, by the fine colour- 
ing and the bold chiselling of her other features — namely, a marked 
recession of chin, which peculiarity she bequeathed to her eldest- 
bom as an inheritance which he then, and we now, seem destined 
never to hear enough of. 

Some weeks were spent at the Thompson town-house in York, 
placed at the disposal of the newly-married couple. We do not 
know all the reasons why they elected to reside in the south of the 
kingdom. It is probable that a quiet country town was desired, 
at a distance convenient both to London and Portsmouth, where 
there was a likelihood of select, congenial society, and where it 
would be possible to live inexpensively. Westerham, two-and- 
twenty miles from the metropolis, fulfilled these conditions, and 
became for many years the home of the Wolfes. 

Two centuries have passed : Westerham has little changed. 
Its main features are untouched by time; even its population 
remains stationary. A single long street astride a narrow ridge 
at the bottom of a valley, a street lined with quaint taverns and 
many ancient houses, interrupted mid-way by a spacious green, 
and flanked by a fourteenth-century church capped by a square 
tower — these to-day strike the eye of the casual visitor. Pasture 
and blossoming orchard gird it round about, and on the chain of 
high hills, both north and south, flourishes much woodland wilder- 
ness, thick growths of oak, beech and pine. At the extreme 
western end of the town there lies, on the skirt of its wide 
estate, the red-brick mansion of Squerreyes Court, bosomed in 
stately trees, admired of the diarist, Evelyn. At the far other 
end, but on no flattering eminence, is Quebec House, then called 
Spiers, last house of all on the Maidstone road. It is a gabled 
Tudor dwelling, dating in its oldest part from 1507, with panelled 
hall, winding oak staircase and wide stone fire-places, over one of 
which is carved the arms of that royal Henry, in whose reign 
Columbus and the Cabots discovered America. In this house the 
errant veteran, whose life had been spent in camps and barracks, 
began to taste again the charms of home. His wife proved herself 
a skilful housekeeper, and not slow to make friends amongst her 
neighbours, the Lewises, the Prices, Mannings, and AUinghams. 

The months wore on, but the walls of the ancient, gabled house 
at the foot of the slope were not destined to echo to the first 
imperious cry of its fair mistress's first-bom, who was afterwards 


to command armies. That signal glory was reserved for another 
dwelling, a stone's throw distant. 

Away with his regiment was the Colonel, road-building may- 
hap, in Surrey, having promised to rejoin his lady on Christmas 
Eve, 1726. But the days were dark and lonely, and the Vicar's 
wife, Mrs. Lewis, persuaded her neighbour to pass much of her 
time with her, the Vicarage being hard by. Thus an engrossing 
event, daily expected, happened, as such things sometimes happen 
in defiance of the best-laid plans. On the evening of what in our 
reformed calendar we call January 2, 1727, but which was then 
the eve of Christmas, was James Wolfe born into the world.^ 

" Claim to have seen Wolfe's birth," says Mr. Gibson Thomp- 
son, in his Wolfe-Land^ " may well be relinquished by the gabled 
mansion, for, apart from that, has not Thackeray immortalized it in 
The Virginians ? He has drawn for us Colonel Lambert and Harry 
Warrington, riding into Westerham in Wolfe's manhood days, 
their arrival at Quebec House, their welcome by their hosts — " a 
stately matron, an old soldier, whose recollections and services were 
of five-and-forty years back, and the son of this gentleman and 
lady, the Lieutenant-Colonel of Kingsley's regiment, that was then 
stationed at Maidstone, whence the Colonel had come on a brief 
visit to his parents." ^ 

By reason of the reformed calendar we can now twist history into 
humouring our conceit : for was not January, in the old Saxon 
calendar, named the Wolf-month ? " In this moneth a mighty 
Wulf was Y-comen," saith the Aylesbury chronicler. 

Beneath the Vicarage roof at Westerham the future warrior 
remained for the space of three weeks, when he was baptized 
(January 11, O.S.) in the parish church of St. Mary, and brought 
by Mrs. Wolfe herself to Spiers. Exactly a year later came 
another son, baptized by the name of Edward, a family name on 
both sides of the house of Wolfe. 

How much later detail, copious and irrelevant, one would give 
for knowledge of the first twelve years of James Wolfe's life ! We 

* General George Warde (the Younger), writing to the Rev. T. Streatfeild, 
in 1822, declared ^^ he slept constantly on the hed in which Wolfe was born." 
'^This," says Dr. Pollen, in his interesting little brochure on Wolfe, '^ could 
only have descended to him as representative of Mrs. Wolfe's executor, i. e. 
his uncle, the great General George. As the Vicarage was the home of 
the Rev. George Lewis and his large family, it is not likely Mrs. Wolfe 
furnished it ; so the bed alluded to must have formed part of the furniture 
of Quebec House (Spiers), which we know was occupied by the Wolfes." — Vide 
will of Frances Ellison, once of Spiers. 

2 Wolfe-Land, p. 33. 





know that both he and his brother were delicate, sensitive lads, 
needing and receiving the watchful care of their tall, dark-haired 
mother, left much alone now, as is the common lot of a soldier''s 
wife. To-day as one roams the ancient house,^ peering into attics 
and secret closets, hidden doorways in the wainscotting which once 
led to mysterious compartments and convenient egresses, it is not 
hard to conjure up the kind of life the boys must have led at home. 

A housekeeper of the old-fashioned sort was Mrs. Wolfe. She 
had brought her husband but a slender jointure, and he had 
only his scant savings and regimental pay to live upon. So the 
strictest economy, consistent with gentility, was demanded. A 
comprehensive cookery book, written in her own hand, and not 
always careful as to spelling, for orthography was by no means a 
needful feminine accomplishment in those days, is still to be read. 
It is filled, too, with many elaborate potions for the sick and 
ailing, according to contemporary medical science. One — "A 
good water for consumption "" — deserves to be given here : 

" Take a peck of green garden snails,"" so runs the prescription, 
" wash them in Bear (beer) put them in an oven and let them stay 
till they've done crpng; then with a knife and fork prick the 
green from them, and beat the snail shells and all in a stone 
mortar. Then take a quart of green earth-worms, slice them 
through the middle and strow them with salt : then wash them 
and beat them, the pot being first put into the still with two 
handfulls of angelico, a quart of rosemary flowers, then the snails 
and worms, the egrimony, bears feet, red dock roots, barbery 
brake, bilbony, wormwood, of each two handfuls : one handful of 
rue tumerick and one ounce of saffron, well dried and beaten. 
Then power (pour) in three gallons of milk. Wait till morning, 
then put in three ounces of cloves (well beaten), hartshorn, grated. 
Keep the still covered all night. This done, stir it not. Distil 
with a moderate fire. The patient must take two spoonfuls at a 

Was the boy Wolfe the unhappy recipient of many doses of 
this awe-inspiring mixture ? If so, one can readily understand his 
diffidence in acknowledging any symptoms, pulmonary or other, 
which would send Dame Wolfe flying to his attic chamber armed 
with the terrible, malodorous phial and tablespoon ! 

1 '' Quebec House/' wrote Mr. A. G. Bradley in 1895, " suggests infinite 
possibilities for the hand of some reverent restorer." Since this was written 
the restoration has been admirably carried out at the instance of its owner, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Warde, of Squerryes Court. 


The nurse of both boys in their infancy was a devoted young 
woman, Betty Hooper, whom James never forgot to the close of 
his life. Betty married and duly brought two sons into the world. 
A time was to come when these sons were taken into Wolfe*'s 
regiment, and as their Lieutenant-Colonel he ^vrote his mother, 
" My nurse's sons are two of the finest soldiers in the camp.*" 

One seems to see the slender, alert, eager-faced children (one, 
the elder, with the light-blue eyes and red hair of his father, the 
other more resembling his mother), scampering through the house, 
frolicking in the garden with the dogs, playing hide-and-seek in 
the coach-house and stables (then new-built, it is said, by the 
Colonel himself), fishing for minnows in the adjoining brook or 
sailing a miniature fleet of ships upon its waters. Again, seated 
in the hall, they are receiving such instruction at their mother*'s 
knee as she could bestow ; or, else, foregathered in the evening 
about the great fire-place listening, open-eyed and open-mouthed, 
to the stout, grim Colonel, their sire, while he tells them stories 
of his campaigns with Marlborough and Prince Eugene. It may 
be that the martial ardour of both these lads was fired and 
that they drank in battle-lore with their alphabet. Yet, truth to 
tell, in their childish years the career of a soldier was far from 
gay and full of laborious routine from which appeared no hope 
of escape for years to come. A momentary hope of fighting 
gleamed above the horizon when George I died — in the very year 
of James's birth — but this had flickered out and Walpole was 
still at the helm, as strong or stronger under George II than 
under his royal predecessor. There came a new military road to 
be built from their house southward to Edenbridge, and the Wolfe 
family had their father at home steadily for a couple of years, for 
this was the kind of work his regiment was thought fit to do, itself 
hardly a phase of military life likely to appeal to a couple of 
high-spirited boys. 

To a school in Westerham, kept by a pedagogue named 
Lawrence, the Wolfe boys, in common with other gentlemen's 
sons, were duly sent. The school-house did not long survive, 
but the bell with which old Lawrence used to announce the 
approach of lesson hours is still intact and sonorous. Of traditions 
of James Wolfe's school-days none endure. We know, however, 
that here at Westerham he formed one boyish friendship which 
was to last through his life, weaving the bonds of that hereditary 
connection with his fame which still subsists and of which the 
local Lords of the Manor are with reason proud. 


Some five years had the Wolfes been at Spiers when another 
newcomer purchased Squerryes Court from the third Earl of 
Jersey. This was John Warde, a widower, eldest son of Sir John 
Warde, who had been Lord Mayor of London in Queen Anne's 
time, and nephew of another Lord Mayor, Sir Patience Warde, of 
Puritan times. John Warde had married a sister of the beautiful 
Countess of Buckinghamshire and of the equally fair Countess of 
Effingham, and on her death he wished to retire to the country to 
bring up his several children. The eldest and heir had seen ten 
summers when the Wardes came to Westerham, but the second 
son, George Warde, was just a year older than James Wolfe. A 
friendship ripened between the Wolfe and Warde families, the 
widower being no doubt very glad of the advice of such a pleasant, 
sensible woman as the Colonel's lady, in the upbringing of his little 
flock. Famous became the intimacy of the two lads, George 
Warde and James Wolfe. At an early age each disclosed his 
secret military ambitions, despite parental washes otherwise. 
Together they roamed the Kentish countryside on horseback 
or with their dogs; fought mimic battles, solved problems in 
strategy and participated in deadly ambushes. The tastes of 
Edward, the scholar of the family, were supposed to run more 
upon books than upon battles. A sweet-tempered lad, ever 
looking up to his elder brother, and miserable when they were 
separated. Nature had not given him James's ardent disposition, 
but when the time came he was resolute, in spite of his mother's 
tears, to follow where he led. He made a sterling young soldier 
and died, as we shall see, a miserable death in a foreign land. 
Of his friend George, writing years afterwards, when both were 
grown men, James tells his mother : 

" George Warde paid me a visit of four days. I could not 
help being astonished at the strength of his understanding, which 
I never discovered so fully before. To that he has added a just 
and upright way of thinking, very uncommon, and the strictest 
morals of any young man amongst my acquaintance. This last 
won't surprise you, for he was never reckoned vicious. He is 
extremely indifferent to preferment and high employment in the 
army — partly from his defect of speech, but principally from an 
easiness, or rather indolence of temper, that makes him unfit to 
bear a heavy part in life." 

James may have correctly gauged his friend's character at that 
time, or he may have underestimated his fellow soldier's qualities. 
Anyhow, we shall see this same indolent George becoming, afte 


Wolfe''s death, fired with a new spirit and rising to be a lieutenant- 
general, commander of the forces in Ireland, and the best cavalry 
officer of his day. 

Walpole and the era of peace under George II were now to be 
rudely shaken. With the death of Queen Caroline, which occurred 
in 1737, the powerful influence which had supported the pacific 
minister in his restraint upon the monarch, suddenly ceased. 
Affairs were approaching a parlous state on the Continent, and 
the Elector of Hanover (who happened to be King of England) 
wanted to lend a hand. A more vigorous foreign policy was 
inevitable, and in military circles the chances for and against war 
were discussed with ardour. Our Lieutenant-Colonel began to 
look forward to employment and promotion ; it was decided to 
move nearer London and the Court, for the stout old soldier was 
a favourite with the King and the King's Policy, and cordially 
detested Walpole. Migration was otherwise advisable in that 
James and Edward might avail themselves of somewhat better 
schooling. So it was, in the latter part of the year 1738, when 
James was approaching his twelfth birthday, Westerham was 
reluctantly given up for Greenwich. The Rev. Samuel F. Swinden, 
a very estimable scholar and amiable man had lately set up a 
school at Greenwich, to which a number of naval and military 
officers had sent or had promised to send their sons, and to 
Swinden''s care in 1739 James and Edward Wolfe were entrusted. 
It probably required no great degree of acumen on the part of the 
new tutor to perceive that one, at least, of his new pupils was no 
ordinary boy. He bestowed upon James infinite attention, taking 
pains to win his personal regard. The friendship for master towards 
pupil was reciprocated — it ripened into an intimacy which lasted 
both their lives. Swinden's prophecies of his pupiFs future great- 
ness were not forgotten when all Britain rang with his fame, and 
his sympathy and understanding made him then the chief confidant 
and counsellor of a lonely mother, who hugged her sorrow un- 
ceasingly at Bath and Blackheath. 

Wolfe was indeed no ordinary boy, but even then one of the 
most precocious geniuses that ever lived. From his tenderest years 
he had resolved to be a soldier, just as the boy Pitt, a generation 
or two later, resolved to be a statesman, or Chatterton to be a poet. 
Everything which could conduce to that end was to be cultivated, 
everything which might hinder it — even games and pleasures — was 
to be swept ruthlessly aside. It is almost amusing, if it were not 
so pathetic, to note how habitually he stifles his feelings ; how 


through his boyhood and youth he is determined to play the grown 
man and the stoic, in spite of a feeble frame and delicate con- 
stitution, pushing aside obstacles and making light of difficulties, 
dreaming of glory from the very first, yet resolved that such glory 
should be no haphazard thing but paid for by hard work. Pro- 
fessional efficiency was, as we shall see, his goal, and this ideal of 
professional efficiency he partially derived from his father. Let us 
do the plodding old soldier justice ; he was a thorough master of 
the details of his profession, and those in power knew it. 

When Wolfe left his native town, child as he was in years, 
his character was in all essential respects formed. Decided 
certainly was his choice of a future career. He was to return to 
Westerham again and again as boy and man, for besides his bosom 
friend, George Warde, there were other friends, and was there not 
at Squerryes an attractive sister of George's whom he admired ? 
We may leave him, therefore, installed at his desk in Mr. Swinden's 
school at Greenwich, poring over Latin grammar and Euclid, at 
which performance his brother Edward, in spite of his year'^s 
juniority, made far better progress (James''s mental culture was to 
come later on), to glance at affairs in the world outside which were 
to have a very decisive bearing on his career. 

The overbearing dealings of Spain towards British commerce 
overseas were inflaming the nation. It was alleged that British 
merchandise was being virtually shut out of the Spanish colonies. 
A secret compact was generally suspected between Spain and 
France, in virtue of which the latter was supporting Spain in her 
anti-English policy. Walpole was at last powerless to resist 
the clamour. On October 30, 1739, England flung down the 
gauntlet, and amidst the pealing of bells and blazing of bonfires, 
war was decreed against the detested Spaniards. In vain did the 
old Whigs raise their voices warning their countrymen that this 
fateful decree bade fair to light a general conflagration throughout 
Europe which years might not extinguish. Turbulent, sick of 
peace, distressed by bad harvests, the nation was in no mood to 
listen to such croakings. Four months later came tidings of 
Admiral Vemon''s victory at Porto Bello, and England indulged in 
all the absurdities of joy. Ballads were bawled in the streets, 
banners were waved, illuminations and vinous carousings were the 
order of the day and night. Flushed with this triumph, the nation 
demanded the total destruction of Spanish power in the Western 
hemisphere. An expedition under Commodore Anson was got 
under way to ravage the coasts, while a great fleet foregathered at 


Spithead, wherewith to reinforce the hero , Vernon in the West 
Indies and the Spanish Main. Nor was this all. Ten thousand 
troops assembled in the Isle of Wight, under Lord Cathcart, with 
orders to encompass as soon as possible the destruction of distant 
Cartagena. Colonel Wolfe's employment came at last. A com- 
petent Adjutant-General was wanted, and in July 1740 the 
Colonel was instructed to proceed in this capacity to the Isle 
of Wight camp. 

Of what worth were the Reverend Mr. Swinden's grammars, 
atlases, manuals, and copy-books, at this juncture .^^ For weeks 
James had been in a fever of excitement. He had heard the 
sonance of drums and the fanfarade of trumpets in his ears, music 
sweet enough to drown the sound of class recitations, and in mid- 
Thames he had seen sights to blur the characters of arithmetic and 
algebra from his eager eyes. His father's appointment as Adjutant- 
General decided him ; the soul of the lean and lanky lad longed 
to be in the thick of the fray. He stated the case earnestly : as 
he meant to be a soldier, why not begin now ? In short, would his 
father take him with him ? He would go as a volunteer — as a 
member of the Adjutant-GeneraPs household. His naive repre- 
sentations did not fall on deaf ears, for, indeed, the veteran knew 
the stuif the boy was made of, and secretly indulged his military 
precocity. Far otherwise was it with Mrs. Wolfe. What she had 
long dreaded was come to pass. She knew she could not prevent 
her eldest-born from finally embracing the profession of arms, but 
was it not madness that a child of his years and constitution should 
be exposed to the dangers and hardships of foreign service ? 

He was only thirteen-and-a-half, at an age when most boys are 
making their first acquaintance with the forms, dormitories, and 
playgrounds of a public school. But maternal tears and entreaties 
were in vain, the good-humoured Colonel would not recede from 
his promise. And so, on a hot July day, father and son took 
their places in the Portsmouth coach, the boy's heart beating high 
with the prospect of glory and adventure. 



For a week after his arrival in the Isle of Wight, our young 
volunteer had his fill of martial sights and sounds. In the first 
flush of military activity domestic thoughts and the softer emotions 
were banished. Poor anxious Mrs. Wolfe had written ere the sun 
went do\vn on their parting, and he had carried her letter in his 
pocket some days ere he sat down to indite the following 
boyish composition, perhaps the first he had ever addressed his 
mother — 

To HIS Mother. 

Newport,, Isle of Wight, 

August 6th, 1740. 

I received my dearest Mamma''s letter on Monday last, but 
could not answer it then, by reason I was at camp to see the 
regiments off to go on board, and was too late for the post ; but 
am very sorry, dear Mamma, that you doubt my love, which Fm 
sure is as sincere as ever any son's was to his mother. 

Papa and I are just going on board, but I believe shall not 
sail this fortnight ; in which time, if I can get ashore at Ports- 
mouth or any other town, I will certainly write to you, and 
when we are gone by every ship I meet, because I know it is my 
duty. Besides, if it is not I would do it out of love, with 

I am sorry to hear that your head is so bad, which I fear, is 
caused by your being so melancholy ; but pray, dear Mamma, if 
you love me, don't give yourself up to fears for us. I hope, if 
it please God, we shall soon see one another, which will be the 
happiest day that ever I shall see. I will, as sure as I live, if it 
is possible for me, let you know everything that has happened, 
by every ship ; therefore pray, dearest Mamma, don't doubt 
about it. I am in a very good state of health, and am likely to 
continue so. Pray my love to my brother. Pray my service to 
Mr. Streton and his family, to Mr. and Mrs. Weston, and to 



George Warde when you see him ; and pray believe me to be, 
my dearest Mamma, 

Your most dutiful, loving, and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

p.S. — Harry ^ gives his love to Margaret, and is very careful 
of me. Pray my service to Will and the rest. Papa bids me 
tell you that Mr. Paterson will give Mr. Masterton two hundred 
pounds more. 
To Mrs. Wolfe, at her House in Greenwich, Kent. 

The boy- volunteer's confidence in his health was ill justified. 
The rough-and-ready life on board ship soon brought out his weak 
points. Colonel Wolfe must have noted the growing pallor of his 
son's cheek as the weeks wore on, delay succeeding delay in the 
Solent and far Carthagena as far off* as ever. It was November 
before the fleet carrying Lord Cathcart's troops sailed. By that 
time James was so pitifully ill that the father had no alternative 
but to put the precocious volunteer on shore at Portsmouth, 
with instructions for him to be carried home forthwith. Lucky 
it was that James did not accompany the Carthagena expe- 
dition. He could hardly have survived. Thousands, including 
Lord Cathcart himself, perished of fever. A more disastrous 
expedition probably never sailed from English shores. But it is 
not necessary to advert here to the gross mismanagement, the 
bickerings between the naval and military heads, the sufferings of 
soldiers and sailors, which have all been set forth by Smollett in 
the pages of Roderick Random. We need not dwell on the terrible 
business except to say that for two years it deprived the Wolfe 
family of its head, and that the experiences the old soldier then 
underwent in the tropics were never effaced from his memory, and 
left their mark even on his rugged constitution. To him the 
moral was, as he told his son years later, never to have anything 
to do with joint expeditions. But even he would have been open 
to conviction that it was all a question of personal character and 
administration. And James Wolfe was destined to show the world 
what joint expeditions might become, and himself go down to 
future generations as " the greatest master of amphibious warfare 
the world has ever seen since Drake took the art from its swaddling 
clothes.'' 2 

1 Streton. The Stretons were long neighbours and intimate friends of 
the Wolfes at Greenwich. 

2 Corbett : England in the Seven Years' War. 


Humiliating enough must have been the boy's return into 
Greenwich. After all his hopes of immediate military service 
(and his school-fellows would not have been human if they had not 
rallied him on his foiled ambition), to go back to the daily hum- 
drum contemplation of desks, books, slates and ferulas ! But he 
made the best of it, probably aware that he would be none the 
worse for a little more book-learning. He resolved, moreover, to 
train his weak body in all manner of useful exercises. With his 
neighbours and school-fellows, whose names figure so frequently in 
his after-correspondence, he was popular enough. Such a dashing, 
ardent spirit could hardly fail to be popular. One notes amongst 
them the names of the Stretons, the Pooles, Bretts, Masons, Cades, 
Hookers and Aliens. Later on, the treasurer of Greenwich Hospital 
sent his little son, Jack Jervis, to the same school. The Jervises 
were close friends with the Wolfes. Long ere his day of renown as 
Admiral, Earl St. Vincent was proud to be the custodian of a sacred 
trust reposed in him by one of his earliest Greenwich friends, as we 
shall see in the conclusion of this history. 

Although he went back doggedly to his lessons, James warned 
his mother that he had not relinquished his design of entering the 
army as soon as any opportunity came. He had written his father, 
importuning him to exert his influence. The squire of Squerryes 
also bestirred himself, his own son's military ambitions being now 
disclosed. There were frequent visits to Westerham, where James 
Wolfe was always welcome. The fateful moment in the boy's 
life came at last. To the south of Squerryes Court, not far from 
the mansion, is a large, circular brick pigeon-house. It was the 
custom of the two friends to frequent this spot for fencing, 
pistol-shooting, and other pastimes. A few days before James's 
fifteenth birthday, the school at Greenwich having broken up for 
the Christmas holidays, James had ridden over to Westerham for 
a few days under his friend's roof. One morning the sound of the 
post-horn was heard at the gates, and a few moments later the 
squire himself was seen approaching along the gravelled path, in 
his hand a large official packet " On His Majesty's service." The 
lads ran to meet him. The packet was addressed to " James Wolfe, 
Esq." Quickly the boy tore open seal and envelope, disclosing a 
commission signed by King George II, and countersigned by Lord 
Harrington, appointing him second lieutenant in his father's 
regiment of marines. It was dated, " St. James's, November 3rd, 
1741." There had been a delay in forwarding it, probably inten- 
tional. One can see the two — Damon and Pythias — locked in an 


embrace, and the honest squire shaking his guest's hand, roundly- 
congratulating him on the commencement of a career. Beneath 
the tall trees on the spot where this pleasing incident, so fraught 
with possibilities, occurred, the heir of the estate raised long 
afterwards a pedestal, crowned by an ornamental urn. The visitor 
to-day may read thereon the following lines — 

''Here first was Wolfe with martial ardour fired. 
Here first with glory's brightest flame inspired ; 
This spot so sacred will for ever claim 
A proud alliance with its hero's name." 

One might observe that the phrase, "Here first was Wolfe with 
martial ardour fired,"" has no exact reference to the incident just 
described ; for, as George Warde well knew, martial ardour had 
for many years been a characteristic of his friend. 

The joy of the youthful officer was tempered by some dis- 
appointment. The Marines, a corps which three-quarters of a 
century before had grown out of " The Maritime Regiment of the 
Lord High Admiral of England,'*'' was hardly a body for which 
such a bad sailor as James Wolfe was fitted. But a beginning 
had to be made somewhere ; it was his father''s old corps, and 
probably where his influence lay strongest. Mrs. Wolfe was ready 
to move heaven and earth to rescue her son from the terrors 
of such a service ; and James himself soon recognized that as 
his father's regiment was 5000 miles away there was no immediate 
chance of military activity. Fighting was what he wanted — fighting 
at sea if it could not be on shore. All around him the air was 
charged with war. Armaments for Continental service were in 
preparation. The neighbourhood of Greenwich was already astir 
with horses, artillery and red-coats. Eagerly, therefore, he embraced 
the first opportunity that came to exchange into the line ; on 
March 25, 1742, the King signed a commission creating his 
impetuous young subject ensign in the Twelfth, then known as 
Colonel Duroure''s regiment of Foot. The business of signing 
military commissions had become somewhat perfunctory of late, 
but did not His Majesty make some remark upon this "hiipfend 
fiillen'' of the adjutant-generaFs who only four months before he 
had sent to join the Marines ? " Much too young," was doubtless 
his comment then, as it was fifteen years later when he was asked 
to sign Wolfe"'s commission as a colonel. Yet the " colt " had 
qualities rare enough amongst young officers in those days ; with 
a lust for fighting, he combined extraordinary aptitude and a desire 
to excel. Although a child, he realized that war was a science and 


to be taken seriously. And with such seriousness did he set about 
his duties as to attract the attention of his superiors almost from 
the moment of his entrance into the army. 

A Continental war in which England should participate had 
been for some time brewing. In October 1740, when Wolfe was 
being sent home sick from the Solent, news had reached England 
of the death of the Emperor Charles VI. Thereupon his daughter 
Maria Theresa''s title to his estates was disputed by the Elector of 
Bavaria, the Pragmatic Sanction flouted by the chief powers of 
Europe, and her dominions insolently invaded by an able and 
ambitious prince who had lately succeeded to the Prussian throne. 
The first result of Frederick's victories in Silesia was to betray 
the weakness of the Austrian monarchy and to encourage other 
nations to share in the spoils. But there were those who regarded 
with a chivalrous interest the young Queen of Hungary and were 
ready to support her claims, and amongst such Great Britain 
soon took a first place. Albeit, in vain Walpole tried to act 
as intermediary between Maria Theresa and Frederick, in vain 
the aged Cardinal Fleury strove to prevent France from support- 
ing the Elector's claims with arms. By the summer of 1741 
the unhappy Queen had been compelled to flee from Vienna, then 
besieged by the Elector's forces, and to take refuge in Hungary. 
There, amongst the faithful Hungarians, who hailed her not as 
Queen, but as King, she learnt that her rival had been chosen 
and crowned Emperor under the title of Charles VII. About 
the same time a large French army was in the field a Spanish 
armament was sailing from Barcelona to attack the Austrian- 
Italian domains. 

Such was the situation. Throughout Great Britain all this, 
taken together with the Cartagena and Cuba failures and the 
King's private negotiation of a treaty of neutrality as regarded 
Hanover, occasioned a ferment of excitement. The odium, the 
guilt of all was hui'led at the unpopular minister, and " Down with 
Walpole " became a cry too powerful to be resisted. In February 
1742, Walpole resigned. A new Parliament and administration, 
headed by Cartaret, resolved on vigorous measures to support the 
Queen of Hungary, and the Pragmatic Sanction which justified her 
title became a popular toast throughout the comitry in circles 
which would have been puzzled indeed to render a definition of 
that famous pact. The Commons voted Maria Theresa a ^^500,000 
subsidy ; and more than five millions were granted to prosecute 
the war. In the very week of Wolfe's commission as ensign it was 


decided to send a British army of 17,000 men to Flanders as 
auxiliaries to the Austrian forces. The command of this force 
was given to Lord Stair, who, after twenty years of unemployment, 
was made a field-marshal.^ It was ordered to be assembled on 
Blackheath, and on April 27 the King, accompanied by his 
sons, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cumberland, came to 
review the troops. Many years had passed since such a martial 
array had been seen in England. Monster crowds poured from 
the capital to witness the spectacle. Of cavalry there were three 
troops of horse - guards, the " Blues,"*"* and five regiments of 
dragoons. There were thirteen regiments of infantry, who to the 
music of fife and drum, marched and counter-marched before the 
royal eye that day. Were there any in the vast throng of 
spectators, apart from relations, friends and school-fellows, who 
cast eye twice upon the slim, erect, bright-faced stripling who bore 
aloft gaily the colours of the Twelfth Regiment of Foot .? Probably 
none, for what oracle was there to say what this boy would 
become .? Fifteen years and four months had passed over his head, 
that head whose red hair was already concealed by a powdered 
wig ; yet his stature was already that of a tall man.^ 

The sun shone and fife and drum wrought bravely as James 
Wolfe marched along with his regiment to Deptford, where trans- 
ports were lying in mid-stream ready to bear him away to Flanders, 
that ancient cockpit of Europe. No wonder, after so long a peace, 
there was a spirit of fervour amongst the troops and much eager 
speculation as to the adventures which awaited them in foreign 

I parts. From the old veteran, his father, the young ensign had 
long since learnt much of Flanders and the campaigns of Queen 
, Anne"'s day, and knew something of the character of the country. 
It was great news to him that his bosom friend, George Warde, 
was also going out as cornet of dragoons. It was good to have an 
old friend in foreign parts. Night drew in and the whole fleet was 
in the Channel, the cliffs of the North Foreland receding before the 
gaze of the young watcher in the stern. But the wind dropped 
just off the Nore, and, much to the young ensign's disappointment, 
there was a delay of some days before they could cross the Channel 
to Ostend.^ A very different place was Ostend in 1742 to the 

1 Stair had with him Generals Honeywood, Cope, Li^onier, Hawley and 
the Earl of Albemarle ; Brigadier-Generals Cornwallis, Bragg, Pulteney, 
Huske, Ponsonby, Frampton, Lord Effingham and Lord Rothes. 

2 Wolfe eventually attained the height of six feet three inches. 

3 Brigadier Frampton's Order-book contains the following. May 20, 1742 — 
^^A return of each battalion be given in immediately in the following 


pleasant Belgian watering-place of to-day. It had not yet yielded 
its commercial pretensions founded on its selection by Charles VI 
as the emporium of the East India Company. That choice had 
been revoked a dozen years previously, but much trade had been 
brought to the port in consequence, and traders and mariners of all 
nations were to be seen on the streets and quays, while on the 
beach not a solitary mortal, Fleming or other, so eccentric as to 
plunge into the high-rising surf for mere pleasure. 

After a day's halt at Ostend the troops marched to Bruges 
between two serried lines of peasants who had turned out to see 
the unaccustomed spectacle of British red-coats. The ancestors of 
the modern Belgians were not a martial people ; what patriotic 
zeal they had once possessed had been largely crushed out by a 
long period of foreign rule and by conditions discouraging any 
deep sense of nationality. They were content to be the subjects of 
Austria if that would ensure their peace and immunity from 
military sacrifices. But the cause of the Queen of Hungary was 
not calculated to awaken their enthusiasm, and the prospect of 
having Maria Therasa's British auxiliaries quartered upon them 
was generally repugnant. In fact, the brief march to Ghent by 
way of Bruges was sufficient to reveal to officers and men the 
temper of the ignorant, priest-ridden inhabitants. 

" They hate the English and we hate them," wrote a captain 
home, " and the Queen of Hungary holds them like a wolf by the 

When Ensign Wolfe marched in at the close of a sultry June 
day into the ancient town of Ghent, he. had no idea of the plans 
of his commander-in-chief or how long his sojoiu'n there would be.^ 

form : — captains' names^ number of officers, sergeants, corporals, drums and 
private men. No more than five women per company be permitted to 
continue on board the transports. A commissioned officer on board each 
transport to see the provisions delivered to the men and that there is no 
waste made. The commanding officer of each transport is to take care that 
neither officer nor soldier lie on shore. 

"A sergeant, a corporal and twelve men of each transport to be as a 
guard to keep things quiet and to place centrys on the officers' baggage, and 
to suffer no man to smoke between decks. To take care of the lights, and to 
commit any man prisoner that is guilty of any disturbance, and that man 
will be severely punished. 

" The tattoo and Revallee not to be beat on board any of the transports 
unless a gun is fired by a man-of-war, or till further orders. 

"The parole is King George." — Townshend's Life of Marquess Townshend, 
p. 5. 

1 Gentleman's Magazine, 1742, p. 628. 

2 " The city of Ghent," wrote one of the officers, '^ is very large ; I believe 
nearly as large as the city of London (within the walls) but iiie inhabitants not 

G 2 


He could hardly have supposed that Lord Stair intended to remain 
there for more than a few weeks, or that his battalion would not 
shortly get a sight of the enemy. The first thing to be done was 
to find quarters for the troops, which was not effected without 
difficulty. Encamping the first two nights in the market-place 
and open spaces of the town, by degrees they became quartered 
upon the unwilling populace. Affrays were of frequent occurrence. 
A fortnight after their arrival young Wolfe could write home of a 
bloody collision between citizens and soldiery which had most of the 
ugly features of a pitched battle. Thus it happened : the com- 
missariat not being of the best, the soldiers complained of a want 
of meat. The Ghent butchers'' prices were inordinately high, and 
the prime cuts displayed were doubtless a sore temptation. One 
day a soldier took up a piece of meat in the market-place " to 
smell if it was sweet,"" he said, before buying it. The butcher, 
suspecting him of thievery, slashed him across the face with his 
knife. This was going very far, and one of the soldier''s companions 
retorted by promptly running the butcher through the body. 

Armed with knives and cleavers, the butchering fraternity flew 
to avenge the impaled victim ; nor these alone, for many of the 
trading burghers joined in the fray. As fast as the red-coats came 
up they were surrounded and cut down, until many bodies lay 
weltering in the market-place. A small detachment of cavalry was 
ordered out, and by this time the numerous mob was put to flight. 
It was two hours before the tumult was quelled ; several burghers 
had been slain. The soldiers were locked up in their barracks for 
the remainder of the day, while the burgomaster summoned a 
town meeting and at the behest of Lord Stair issued an edict that 
" whoever should offer the least affront to the subjects of the King 
of Great Britain should be whipped, burnt in the back and turned 
out of the town,"" a sufficient accumulation of penalties to make the 
burghers more careful in the future about outward exhibitions of 
temper whatever animosity they might cherish in their hearts. 

Wolfe got fairly comfortable lodgings at the beginning, and 
found much in his new life and surroundings to entertain him. As 
long as summer lasted the fortifications, the ancient buildings and 

the twentieth part. The streets are very regular and well paved, having no 
carts employed in trade and but few coaches to tear up the pavement. The 
houses are very irregular and antique, bedizened with paint and whiting on 
the outside, which makes the insides appear more shocking and dismal ; being 
very large old-fashioned rooms, bare walls, and scarcely any furniture. The 
churches are many and large, and very antique ; richly adorned, and con- 
tain the chief wealth of the city." — Gentleman's Magazine, 1742, p. 528. 


canals, the quaint, irregular streets were a fund of interest.^ The 
people, in their " greasy, ragged cloaks," which were suspected of 
serving for coat, waistcoat and breeches, and their wooden shoes, 
offered as strong a contrast to the townsfolk of Westerham and 
Greenwich as could well be imagined. He found amongst the 
better claiss, however, some agreeable fellows with whom he could 
air his as yet small stock of French. As the weeks of detention 
in Ghent stretched into months, he began to grow a little lonely, 
especially as George Warde, whom he had hoped to meet almost 
immediately after his arrival, was for some time delayed with the 
Horse-Guards. His Colonel showed him every kindness, but there 
was no one congenial of his age at mess with whom he could form 
a real intimacy. As a means of diversion in the intervals of read- 
ing, strolling and guard duties, he bought a flute and took lessons 
upon it from a Belgian master. The theatre would shortly re-open, 
and thus, if the regiment did not march, there was still a prospect 
of relieving the tedium of inactivity. When George Warde 
arrived and the two friends embraced, it seemed likely that a 
speedy farewell to Ghent was imminent. To a letter from his 
mother telling him that his father had returned from Cuba and 
was appointed Inspector of Marines he replies — 

To HIS Mother. 

Ghent, Augrist 27th, 1742. 

Dear Madam, — I just got your kind letter by Captain 
Merrydan ; I'm very much obliged to you for it, and heartily 
glad to hear you are all well. 

I pity my uncle Tin ^ much. I think, by what I have heard 
you say of him, he does not deserve such ill luck. I saw my 
friend George Warde for the first time, though the Horse have 
been here these two days, for I happened to be on guard when 
they came ; nor have I as yet seen Captain Merrydan, for my 
Captain brought me the letters from him. I intend waiting on 
him this afternoon. 

I am vastly obliged to you for your good advice, and will 
follow it as much as lies in my power, I assure you. I got a 

^ "The fortifications are very strong/' we are told ; "as is the citadel, 
particularly the gate called St. Peter's, which opposed the Duke of 
Marlborough's army eight days, but was then forced to surrender. The 
works of the siege [in which Wolfe's father had taken part] are yet remain- 
ing. . . Our army here makes a gallant figure consisting of the flower of 
England, brave fellows, fine horses, &c., and all ready for the field at the 
first notice." — Gentleman s Magazine , 1742, p. 528. 

2 Edward Tindal Thompson. 


letter from my father two days ago, by Captain Stanhope, which 
I intend thanking him for next post ; and then, perhaps, I shall 
write to him from camp, for our colonel has desired us to have 
everything ready against Monday next. I have just now done 
packing up, and can be ready to march in two hours. 

I wish my uncle Brad ^ may be coming home as you heard, for 
I know it would give you great pleasure to see him. I am very 
sorry my brother Ned complains of my not answering his letters ; 

1 think I have never missed any nor ever will. Pray be so good 
to give my kind love to him. My shirts are in very good order, 
and, I hope, will last me a great while ; but I fancy (by what 
people say) not so long as we are in Flanders. 

Pray my duty to my father, and love to cousin Goldsmith ; 
and with best compliments to my good friends at Greenwich, 
and hearty wishes for your healths, I must beg to remain 
Your dutiful and affectionate Son, 

James Wolfe. 

PS. — Cope''s Dragoons are expected here to-night. I often 
play my flute, and am going to it now. 

The "Cousin Goldsmith" mentioned in the foregoing was 
Wolfe's father's sister's son, Edward Goldsmith of Limerick, whose 
own father was first cousin to the Reverend Charles Goldsmith, 
the original of the Vicar of Wakefield and the progenitor of 
the celebrated author, Oliver Goldsmith. At this time Oliver, 
who used afterwards to say proudly, " I claim kinship with General 
Wolfe, the conqueror of Quebec," was an Irish school-boy of 

With George Warde at Ghent we may be sure that the time 
did not pass unprofitably between the two friends. But Warde as 
a cavalryman did not have the same incentives to strategical pro- 
ficiency as the ensign who was already making a study of military 
fortification as well as trying hard to master an adjutant's duties. 
He did not propose to remain an ensign longer than uncon- 
trollable circumstances ordered him to be. Both lads took pleasure 
in the play, seeing all the new French productions as well as the 
classical ones well acted by French companies. An excellent opera 

^ Lieutenant-Colonel Bradwardine Thompson. 

2 A reference to Reynolds's famous profile portrait of Oliver Goldsmith at 
the National Portrait Gallery reveals a curious resemblance in facial peculiari- 
ties to those of James Wolfe, suggesting that the Wolfe chin was a paternal 
as well as a maternal inheritance. 


house had been erected at Ghent only a few years before. His 
mother having written that one of her letters had miscarried and 
that she would only write in future when she could entrust her 
epistle to safe hands, James, in his next rallies her, as if her 
resolution had been inspired by economy — 

To HIS Mother. 

Ghent, September 12th, 1742. 

Dear Madam, — I got yours two days ago by Captain Guy. 
I'm heartily sorry to hear that the pleasure of hearing from you 
is now at an end. I fancy the expense is not so great as you 
imagine ! I'm told by several gentlemen that 'tis no more than 
sixpence, and that, once a month, wouldn't hurt your pocket. I 
answered the packet you was so good to send me by Captain 
Merrydan ; I dined with him yesterday, and think he seems to 
be a very good sort of man. 

Fm glad you've got a house.^ Long may you live to enjoy 
the blessings of a good and warm one ! — a thing not easily found 
in this town, but that we young ones don't mind. 

You desire to know how I live. I assure you, as to eating, 
rather to well, considering what we may come to. For drink I 
don't care much ; but there is very good rum and brandy in 
this place, and cheap, if we have a mind to take a little sneaker 
now and then at night just to warm us. The weather begins 
now to grow coldish : we have had rain for the last two weeks, 
and the people say 'tis likely to continue till the frost comes 
in. I have not begun with fire yet, neither do I intend till 
I know where we shall encamp. 

This place is full of officers, and we never want company. I 
go to the play once or twice a week, and talk a little with the 
ladies, who are very civil, and speak French. 

I'm glad to hear with all my heart that my brother is better. 
He says he goes to the cold bath and that does him good. Pray 
my love to him. I hope my father is well, and keeps his health ; 
be so good as to give my duty to him, and to my Aunt Allanson 
if she is with you, and believe me, 

Your dutiful and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

I see my friend George often ; he has just left me, and 
desires his compliments. 

1 The Wolfes ahout this time took a town house in Burlington Gardens, 
the Cartagena affair having proved profitable to the Adjutant-General. 


Winter drew in ; fainter grew the hope of marching from Ghent. 
The time-honoured institution of " winter quarters " was too 
generally respected in those days (the boy must have conned well 
that line in Livy about winter being a season "quae omnium 
bellorum terra marique sit quies") for Lord Stair to dream of 
impugning it. As he lay still, after a good deal of fighting in 
Bohemia, Marshal Belleisle retreated from Prague, and the other 
French generals, Maillebois and de Broglie, took up winter quarters 
in Bavaria. If Hanover were to be attacked by the French (and 
it was for this purpose the British army, reinforced by 16,000 
Hanoverians in British pay, was in Flanders), it would not be 
before spring. Meantime, there was a prospect that the Wolfes 
would furnish still another soldier to the army. Edward, now 
fifteen, was eager to join his brother. 

To HIS Mother. 

Ghent, December I7th, 1742. 

Dear Madam, — I should have answered your letter when I 
wrote last to my father, had not the business I was forced to 
write about prevented me. I was heartily sorry you got your 
new house with a cold. I hope it has left you, and you enjoy 
perfect health, without which there can be no happiness to you, 
nor consequently to me. My brother is much to be commended 
for the pains he takes to improve himself I hope to see him 
soon in Flanders, when, in all probability, before next year is 
over, we may know something of our trade. Some people 
imagine we shall return to England in the Spring, but I think 
that's not much to be relied on ; however, Fm no judge of these 

There is a talk that some of the regiments of Foot will 
march to garrison two or three towns (the Austrians have 
quitted to go and join the army in Bohemia) ; they are about 
four-score or a hundred miles from hence. Their names are 
Mons, Charleroy, and another I don't know; but it is not 

We have had extreme hard frost for about a fortnight, 
so that all the rivers and canals, whereof there are great 
plenty about the town, are frozen, so that no boats can go, 
nor any commerce be carried on by water. There was a little 
thaw last night, so that we are in some hopes of its going 

I shall not miss writing to you every fortnight as you desire. 


Be so good to give my duty to my father, uncles and aunts, and 
love to my brother. 

Your dutiful and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

Mr. Warde desires his compliments ; mine to the family, if 
you please. I hope Miss is well.^ 

By the time the British army under Lord Stair quitted Ghent 
early in February 1743, James was joined by his brother, who had 
succeeded in gaining an ensigncy in the same regiment. They 
had a terrible march before them, these two delicate lads, before 
Duroure's and the division of which it formed a part could reach 
the Rhine — bad roads, bad weather, bad food and bad water — and 
Edward was of even more tender make than his elder brother. At 
St. Trond they halted long enough for him to pen the following 
to his mother : 

To HIS Mother. 

St. Troiij in the Bishopric of Liege, 

February 12th, 1743. 

Dear Madam, — I got your letter of the 23rd of last 
month, at Ghent, and should have answered it, as I told my 
father I intended, at Brussels, but was very much fatigued and 
out of order, so deferred it till now. 

This is our fifth day's march ; we have had very bad weather 
all the way. I have found out by experience that my strength 
is not so great as I imagined ; but, however, I have held out 
pretty well as yet. To-morrow is a very bad road to Tongres, 
so if I can I will hire a horse at this place, and march afoot one 
day and ride the other, all the rest of the journey. 

I never come into quarters without aching hips and knees ; 
and I assure you the wisest part of the officers got horses at 
Ghent, though some would have done it if their circumstances 
would have allowed it. 

We have lived pretty well all the way, but I have already 
been glad to take a little water out of a soldier's flask, and eat 
some ammunition bread. I am now quartered at the head man 
of the Town's house, one of the civilest men I ever met with in 
my life. The people where I was billeted refused to let me in, 

* Miss Warde, sister to George, afterwards Mrs. Clayton. Their town 
house also was in Burlington Gardens. 


SO I went to the townhouse and complained, and this gentleman 
took me and another officer that was with me to his house. 

I shall write to my father when we get to the end of our 
march ; Fm glad to hear, with all my heart, that he is well. 
I'm in the greatest spirits in the world ; I have my health pretty 
well, and I believe I shall be very well able to hold it out with 
a little help of a horse. Pray be so good as to give my duty to 
my father. This is the best paper St. Tron affords ; I have got 
a sergeant's pen and ink, which are commonly very bad ; so I 
hope you'll excuse everything that is bad in this letter. 
Your dutiful and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

But " the end of our march '" was still far off, for nearly two 
months later the younger of the two brothers, who had been 
sharing a horse between them, was detached on a foraging errand 
to Bonn, and in the following letter gives us a glimpse of what was 
passing at that time. 

Edward Wolfe to his Father. 

Bonn, April 7th, 1743. 

Dearest Sir, — I am sent here with another gentleman to 
buy provisions, for we can get none upon our march but eggs 
and bacon and sour bread ; but I have lived upon a soldier's 
ammunition bread, which is far preferable to what we find upon 
the road. We are within two leagues of the Rhine, which it is 
most people's opinion we shall pass the 14th and then encamp. 
I have no bedding nor can get it anywhere ; not so much at this 
place, where the Elector's court is, which I think a little extra- 
ordinary. We had a sad march last Monday in the morning. 
I was obliged to walk up to my knees in snow, though my 
brother and I have a horse between us and at the same time 
I had it with me. I seldom see him, and had I had the least 
thoughts of coming to this place, I am sure he would have wrote 
to you. This is the first opportunity I have had since I wrote 
to you from Aix-la-Chapelle, which letter I hope you have 

I do not expect a letter from you, if it does not come by 
my captain, this great while. I have often lain upon straw, and 
should oftener had not I known some French, which I find very 
useful ; though I was the other day obliged to speak Latin for a 
good dinner, which if I had not done, I should have gone with- 


out it. Most people talk that language here. We send for 
eveiything we want to the priest, and if he does not send what 
he has, we frighten him pretty much. The people are very 
malicious here and very poor except the priest and burgomaster, 
who live upon the republic ; but I have had the good luck to be 
billeted at their houses, where there is everything good but their 

We were here at the worst time, for they kill no meat be- 
cause it is Lent. They say there are many wolves and wild 
boars in the woods ; but I never saw any yet, neither do I desire. 
I think I may end troubling you with my nonsense ; but I flatter 
myself that you have a pleasure in hearing from 
Dear Sir, 

Your dutiful and affectionate Son, 

Edward Wolfe. 

Pray my duty to my mother, and I may venture very safely 
the same from my brother to you both. 

Hard canteen biscuit, hard floors and hard weather : — it was 
a severe trial for the two delicately-nurtured lads. 

The idea now was to effect a junction with the Austrian and 
Hanoverian troops at Hochst, near Frankfort-on-the-Main, which, 
on account of the winding of the river, was supposed to offer a 
capital strategic position. From Frankfort a letter from Edward 
seems to hold out a prospect of a good deal more marching. 

Edward Wolfe to his Mother. 

Frankfort, May 4th, N.S., 1743. 

Dearest Madam, — I don"'t doubt but you will think me very 
neglectful in not writing to you, but I assure 'tis no fault of 
mine, for whenever I had an opportunity of sending a letter to 
you I did it with a great deal of pleasure. I don't expect to 
hear from you till we have beaten the French, and return to 
Flanders, which time is very uncertain. We are now within a 
day's march of the French army, which it is reported we shall 
soon engage, but there is no credit to be given to half is said 
here. It is likewise said in case the French should go into 
Bavaria we shall follow them, which is about two month's march ; 
so I reckon this summer will be spent in that agreeable manner, 
though I feel no more of it than anybody else, so I am as well 
contented as if we were marching in England. 


I have at least bought my bedding at Frankfort, which place 
I think has a little the resemblance of London, though not half 
so large. I reckon you think I have forgot Mrs. Cade, but I 
assure you I have not, though I must confess there's not a woman 
in Frankfort, nor indeed in all Germany, that has half beauty 
enough to put me in mind of her. Pray be so good to remember 
me to all our neighbours at Greenwich, and if Mr. Swinden or 
any one else should ask after me, you will be pleased to mention 
that was I in a settled place they should have no room to com- 
plain of my not writing to them, but now as I am always hurried 
about in mounting pickets, etc., I am not able to write to any 
one but where my duty forces me. 

I keep my health very well; live merrily, and if it please 
God that you and my dearest father do yours, nothing else will 
make me do otherwise. I hope and pray when you write to 
uncle Brad you will be so good as to make my compliments to 
them both ; and my duty to my father concludes me, dearest 

Your dutiful and affectionate Son, 

Edward Wolfe. 

Since the death of Cardinal Fleury the affairs of France were 
directed by D''Argenson and his priestly coadjutor Cardinal Tencin, 
the latter famous for his devotion to the House of Stuart. After 
Belleisle's retreat from Prague the French army had wintered in 
northern Bavaria, thereby enabling the new Emperor to pass a 
brief period in security in his capital. But the Austrians were 
closing around him, a battle took place, and he was again driven 
forth, M. de Broglie not caring to risk a battle in his behalf. 

The French Ministry felt that some decisive blow must now 
be struck. The Due de Noailles was sent with 12,000 troops to 
Broglie's assistance, and a check offered to the Austrian advance, 
under their leader Prince Charles of Lorraine, husband of Maria 
Theresa. The unhappy Emperor took refuge in Frankfort, the 
neutrality of which as a free city continued to be respected, at the 
very time the British army was on the march from Flanders. En 
route Stair was reinforced by some Austrian regiments under 
Aremberg, and the 16,000 Hanoverians who had been wintering in 
the neighbourhood of Liege. It was to prevent the junction of 
this army with that of Prince Charles that the French bent all 
their energies. Marshal Noailles with 60,000 men was to engage 
Lord Stair's forces, while, at the same time, 50,000 under 


Broglie were to guard Alsace and prevent the Austrian s from 
crossing the Rhine. On May 14, Noailles crossed the Rhine six 
miles below Worms, and marched his army towards the Main, 
with the intention of seizing an elevated position near Hochst, 
which would give him a commanding advantage. 

This move induced Lord Stair to leave Hochst for AschafFenburg, 
twenty miles east of Frankfort, where he established his head- 
quarters and wrote to Aremberg to join him. But Noailles was at 
his heels, out-generalling him at every point ; and as for the Austrian 
general, he wrote back to say that as Lord Stair had "• got himself 
into a scrape it was his business to get himself out of it as well as 
he could."" 

The truth is. Stair was old and incompetent, and Aremberg, 
besides a natural jealousy, had but a poor opinion of his general- 
ship. In a day or two, deprived of the Austrian help, Stair found 
himself cut off from his magazines at Hanau and his expected 
supplies from Franconia, the enemy occupying all the principal 
fords and passes on the river. 

At this moment, with the two hostile armies only a few 
hundred yards from one another (although Stair's intelligence 
department was so bad that he actually did not know of the close 
proximity of the enemy until he nearly stumbled on them in a 
wood when he went to reconnoitre in person),^ France and Great 
Britain were nominally at peace, enacting merely the part of 
auxiliaries, and with the ministers of the respective countries still 
resident at London and Paris. 

No wonder if our young warriors, like many older and wiser 
heads, made little attempt to unravel the mazes of international 
politics, but were content to accept war as a natui*al dispensation 
for the exercise of mental talents, of courage and mere physical 

1 The intelligence department in Lord Stair's army would appear to have 
been very inefficient^ and when that officer became acquainted with this move 
of the French he determined to advance. Accordingly the allied army 
marched to Hellinback^ between the edge of the forest of Darmstadt and the 
river Main, where Lord Stair formed, in the opinion of all the generals, an 
impregnable camp. Want of supplies, however, and the need of securing 
the communications of the Upper Main, forced him to move on again to 
AschaflFenburg. — Townshend, p. 11. 



Very black it looked for the British under Lord Stair on 
June 19, 1743, when King George II, accompanied by the youthful 
Duke of Cumberland and Lord Cartaret, arrived from Hanover to 
join the army, now reduced to 37,000 men, on half-rations, and 
the horses of the cavalry dying for want of forage. They were 
cooped up in a narrow valley bordering the river Main, between 
Aschaffenburg and a village called Dettingen. Two days later 
Wolfe writes his father — 

To HIS Father. 

Camp near Aschaffenburg, 

June 2lst, 1743, N.S. 

Dear Sir, — Captain Rainsford joined the regiment yester- 
day ; he brought us your letter, and made us both very happy 
with the good news of yours and my mother's health. We also 
got a letter from you by the post. Your kindness is better than 
our best behaviour can deserve, and we are infinitely happy in 
having so good parents. 

My brother is at present very much fatigued with the hard 
duty he has had for some days past. He was on a party last 
night, and saw shot fired in earnest, but was in no great danger, 
because separated from the enemy by the river Mayne. The 
French are on the other side that river, about a mile from us. 
We have now and then small skirmishes with those people. 
They attacked the other night a party of our men, but were 
repulsed with the loss of an officer and four or five men killed, 
and some made prisoners. They desert prodigiously ; there 
were yesterday no less than forty deserters in the camp, that 
came over in the middle of the day, and brought with them 
great numbers of horses, for the river is fordable. 'Tis said there 
are 2000 Austrian Hussars come to us ; I fancy they will harass 
them a little. The Hessians, Pulteney's and Bligh's regiments 
have not yet joined us, as likewise some Hanoverian horse. I 
believe we only wait for them to attack our enemy. We shall 



soon know what we are to do now that our King is come. His 
Majesty came two days ago. The Duke of Cumberland is 
declared Major-General. 

The Earl of Stair had like to have been hurt by an escort of 
two squadrons of English and Hanoverian cavalry (when he was 
reconnoitring the enemy), who retreated with a little too much 
haste before some squadrons of French hussars, who, upon their 
retreat fired upon them, and killed a trooper and dragoon of 
ours. The reason of the retreat, as I heard, was this, — the word 
being given to a sergeant and twelve men, who were an advanced 
guard, to go to the right about, the whole did it, thinking they 
were ordered, and, I fancy, at the odd and unexpected appear- 
ance of the hussars out of a wood. However, they were rallied 
by General Cope, and would have charged the hussars had they 
been permitted. 

Colonel Duroure, who acts as Adjutant-General, was thrown 
from his horse yesterday by a Hanoverian discharging his pistol 
just by him, and was much bruised. We are all sorry for it. 
He has been very good to his ensigns this march ; we have had 
the use of his canteens whenever he thought we had occasion for 
them. We are now near forty miles from Frankfort, which we 
marched in two days and two nights, with about nine or ten 
hours' halt, in order to gain a pass that is here, and now in our 
possession. The men were almost starved in that march. They 
nor the officers had little more than bread and water to live on, 
and that very scarce, because they had not the ammunition 
bread the day it was due. But I believe it could not be helped. 

We have left a very fine country to come to the worst I ever 
saw. I believe it is in the Prince of Hesse''s dominions. The 
King is in a little palace in such a town as I believe he never 
lived in before. It was ruined by the Hanoverians, and every- 
thing almost that was in it carried off by them, some time 
before we came. They and our men now live by marauding. I 
hope we shall not stay here long, if we do I don't know how it 
will be possible to get provisions. The French are burning all 
the villages on the other side of the Mayne, and we ravaging the 
country on this side. 

I am now doing, and have done ever since we encamped, the 
duty of an adjutant. I was afraid when I first undertook it 
that the fatigue would be too much for me, but now I am use 
to it, I think it will agree very well with me, at least I hope so. 
Brigadier Huske inquires often if I have heard from you lately. 


and desires his compliments to you. He is extremely civil to 
me, and I am much obliged to him. He has desired his Brigade- 
Major, Mr. Blakeney,^ who is a very good man, to instruct me 
all he can. My brother intends writing very soon. We both 
join in love and duty to you and my mother, and I am, dear Sir, 
Your dutiful and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

They were always ready enough — then, and since, in the army 
— to put extra work upon any one, however young, who showed 
any alacrity for work. 

It was clear even to the eyes of the new acting adjutant that 
something must be done to rescue the British army from the pre- 
dicament into which the incapacity of its commander had thrust 
it. It was decided, although by no means a simple move, in view 
of the superiority both in numbers and position of the enemy, to 
retreat upon Hanau, where were the magazines and reinforcements 
of Hessians. But Noailles was on the alert; he at once became 
apprised of the plan, and under cover of diversions by his hussars, 
threw a couple more bridges across the Main, making ready to 
pounce upon the foe, whom he had, as he believed, caught in a 
trap. On June 26 (N.S.), Lord Stair, at AschafFenburg, issued the 
following orders — 

After Tattoo this night the tents of the whole army to be 
struck without any noise and all the baggage and artillery to 
hold themselves in readiness to march ; the army to remain under 
arms in front of their encampments. 

To-morrow at break of day every regiment to march into 
their new ground ; and as soon as the army are arrived in their 
new camp, they are to remain under arms in front of the new 
ground in the same manner as they did the night preceding till 
further orders, keeping a profound silence, no fires being suffered 
in the camp. 

Stair supposed the French would attack from the AschafFenburg 
side. All his injunctions of secrecy were useless, for Noailles knew, 
quite as soon as Stair's own generals, that the British intended 
marching on the night of June 26. And knowing this, he ordered 
his nephew, the Due de Grammont, to cross the Main at Seilenstadt 
with 30,000 troops and entrench himself at Dettingen, thus blocking 
the British retreat. Moreover, the moment the British abandoned 

^ A nephew of General Blakeney. 



Aschaffenburg, Noailles poured 12,000 men into it, Stair having 
courteously refrained from blowing up the bridge in his rear. At 
four o'clock in the morning of June 27, Duroiu-e's and the other 

regiments began their march to Dettingen. At seven a French 
battery posted at a small chapel near Stockstadt opened fire on 
the British cavalry, putting the baggage-train into a panic, the 



drivers escaping from their wagons into the woods. A general 
loot ensued. At the beginning of the bombardment King George 
was at the rear. As it grew hotter he rode up to the head in full 
view of his troops, who cheered him enthusiastically. The French 
were now visible, drawn up in battle array between Dettingen 
and Welsheim, all in white uniforms and bearing white standards. 

It was a fine day ; a few fleecy clouds flitted across the sky. 
Picturesque was the scene, illumined by the June sun, the red coats 
of the British, the black cuirasses and helmets of the German 
cavalry, the blue jackets and red breeches of the Uhlans, and the 
green and red of the Hungarian hussars. James Wolfe was about 
to suffer his baptism of fire. By a singular coincidence Jeffrey 
Amherst, his destined commander-in-chief in America, Robert 
Monckton and George Townshend, his second and third in 
command at Quebec, were also present. 

It was twelve o'clock. The French artillery had been firing all 
the morning and doing disastrous execution. All was now in 
readiness for King George and the Allies to advance. The Due de 
Grammont with 30,000 men held the defile, an impregnable position 
and fatal to the British as long as he remained on the defensive. 
His chief Noailles on the other side of the river could hardly 
believe his eyes when he saw Grammonfs troops moving towards 
the British. The impetuous youth could not wait : the sight of 
the enemy had proved too much for his discretion. Noailles was 
in despair. " Grammont," he cried, " has ruined all my plans ! " 
He spoke truly, for Grammont had voluntarily quitted his 
advantageous position to meet the Allies in the plain. The latter, 
cheering and full of zeal, made ready for the impact. Royal 
George galloped down the line, flourishing his sword, and addressing 
the British . infantry, called out, " Now, boys, now for the honour 
of England. Advance boldly and the French will soon run ! "*' 
The King had chosen his charger with less felicity than his words : 
the animal began rearing and plunging desperately. Fearing the 
fate which overtook many officers that day, George dismounted 
and remained on foot, sword in hand, throughout the battle.^ As 
the Allies advanced the French fell back ; their cavalry came on 
impetuously, and General Clayton ordered Bland's Dragoons to 
charge. Bland's Dragoons (now the 13th Hussars) obeyed, but so 

^ We need not believe the malicious story circulated by Voltaire that the 
King- went through all the sword drill he had been taught by his fencing- 
master, lunging in excitement at imaginary opponents, alternately advancing 
and recoiling, and perspiring with his harmless exertions. 


fierce was the onset of the French Gens d'Armes that if a battalion 
of British infantry had not intervened the dragoons would have 
been cut to pieces. Cavalry charge succeeded cavalry charge before 
the chance of the infantry came. Wolfe busily doing an adjutant's 
duties on the field, was in the very thick of the fight, as was his 
brothei. The latter wrote three days afterwards to his mother 
the following account — 

Edward Wolfe to his Mother. 

June SOth, 1743. 

Dearest Madam, — I take the very first opportunity I can 
to acquaint you that my brother and self escaped in the engage- 
ment we had with the French, the 16th of June last [O.S.], and 
thank God, are as well as ever we were in our lives, after not 
only being cannonaded two hours and three-quarters, and fighting 
with small arms two hours and one-quarter, but lay the two 
following nights upon our arms, whilst it rained for about twenty 
hours in the same time ; yet are ready and as capable to do the 
same again. We lost one captain and a lieutenant. Captain 
Rainsford is very well and not wounded ; he desires you will 
send his wife word of this as soon as you hear it. Our Colonel 
had a horse shot under him, but escaped himself. The King 
was present in the field. The Duke of Cumberland behaved 
charmingly. . . . Duke d''Aremberg is dangerously wounded. 
We took two or three general officers and two princes of the 
blood and wounded Marshal Noailles. 

Our regiment has got a great deal of honour, for we were in 
the middle of the first line, and in the greatest danger. . . . My 
brother has wrote to my father and I believe has given him a 
small account of the battle, so I hope you will excuse it me. 
The Emperor is come to Frankfort and we are encamped about 
two leagues from it ; and it is said that the King is to meet him 
there and that there's a peace to be made between the Queen of 
Hungary and the Emperor. 

I hope I shall see you some time or another and then tell 
you more ; but think now that I have given you joy and concern 
enough. Pray, my duty to my dearest father, who I hope is well. 
I am, dearest Madam, 

Your dutiful and AiFectionate Son, 

E. Wolfe. 

Pray be so good as to excuse my writing for this time, I am 
in such a hurry to send you this news. 

D 2 


Not until a full week after the battle was James able to send 
the following report of his first engagement to his father — 

To HIS Father. 

Hochst, July ^th, N.S., 1743. 

Dear Sir, — This is the first time that I have been able or 
have had the least time to write, otherwise I should have done 
it when my brother did. The fatigue I had the day we fought 
and the day after made me very much out of order, and I was 
obliged to keep my tent for two days. Bleeding was of great 
service to me, and I am now as well as ever. 

The army was drawn out this day se'nnight between a wood 
and a river Maine, near a little village, called Dettingen, in five 
lines — two of foot and three of horse. The cannon on both 
sides began to play about nine o'clock in the morning, and we 
were exposed to the fire of theirs (said to be about fifty pieces) 
for near three hours, a great part of which flanked us terribly 
from the other side of the water. The French were all the while 
drawn up in sight of us on this side. About twelve o'clock we 
marched towards them ; they advanced likewise, and, as near as 
I can guess, the fight began about one. The Gens d'Armes, or 
Mousquetaires Gris, attacked the first line, composed of nine 
regiments of English foot, and four or five of Austrians, and 
some Hanoverians. They broke through the Scotch Fusileers, 
who they began to attack upon; but before they got to the 
second line, out of two hundred there were not forty living, so 
they wheeled, and came between the first and second line (except 
an officer with a standard, and four or five men, who broke 
through the second line and were taken by some of Hawley's 
regiment of Dragoons), and about twenty of them escaped to 
their army, riding through an interval that was made for our 
Horse to advance. These unhappy men were of the first families 
in France. Nothing, I believe, could be more rash than their 

The second attack was made on the left by their Horse 
against ours, which advanced for the first time. Neither side 
did much, for they both retreated ; and our Horse had like 
to have broke our first line in the confusion. The Horse fired 
their pistols, which, if they had let alone, and attacked the 
French with their swords, being so much stronger and heavier, 
they would certainly have beat them. Their excuse for re- 
treating — they could not make their horses stand the fire ! 


The third and last attack was made by the foot on both sides. 
We advanced towards one another; our men in high spirits, 
and very impatient for fighting, being elated with beating the 
French Horse, part of which advanced towards us ; while the 
rest attacked our Horse, but were soon driven back by the great 
fire we gave them. The Major and I (for we had neither Colonel 
nor Lieutenant-Colonel), before they came near, were employed in 
begging and ordering the men not to fire at too great a distance, 
but to keep it till the enemy should come near us ; but to little 
purpose. The whole fired when they thought they could reach 
them, which had like to have ruined us. We did very little 
execution with it. As soon as the French saw we presented 
they all fell down, and when we had fired they all got up, and 
marched close to us in tolerable good order, and gave us a 
brisk fire, which put us into some disorder and made us give 
way a little, particularly ours and two or three more regiments, 
who were in the hottest of it. However, we soon rallied again, 
and attacked them with great fury, which gained us a complete 
victory, and forced the enemy to retire in great haste. 'Twas 
luck that we did give way a little, for our men were loading all 
the while, and it gave room for an Austrian regiment to move 
into an interval, rather too little before, who charged the enemy 
with great bravery and resolution. So soon as the French re- 
treated, the line halted, and we got the sad news of the death 
of as good and brave a man as any amongst us. General Clayton, 
who was killed by a musquet ball in the last attack. His death 
gave us all sorrow, so great was the opinion we had of him, and 
was the hindrance of anything further being done that day. He 
had, 'tis said, orders for pursuing the enemy, and if we had 
followed them, as was expected, it is the opinion of most people, 
that of the 27,000 men they brought over the Maine, they would 
not have repassed with half that number. When they retreated, 
several pieces of our artillery played upon them, and made ter- 
rible havoc ; at last we followed them, but too late ; they had 
almost all passed the river. One of the bridges broke, and in 
the hurry abundance were drowned. A great number of their 
officers and men were taken prisoners. Their loss is computed 
to be between six and seven thousand men, and ours three 

His Majesty was in the midst of the fight ; and the Duke 
behaved as bravely as a man could do. He had a musquet-shot 
through the calf of his leg. I had several times the honour of 


speaking with him just as the battle began, and was often afraid 
of his being dash'd to pieces by the cannon-balls. He gave his 
orders with a great deal of calmness, and seemed quite uncon- 
cerned. The soldiers were in high delight to have him so near 
them. Captain Rainsford behaved with the greatest conduct 
and bravery in the world. I sometimes thought I had lost poor 
Ned, when I saw arms, legs, and heads beat off close by him. 
He is called " The Old Soldier,"" and very deservedly. A horse 
I rid of the Colonel's at the first attack was shot in one of his 
hinder legs, and threw me ; so I was obliged to do the duty 
of an adjutant all that and the next day on foot, in a pair of 
heavy boots. 

I lost with the horse, furniture and pistols which cost me 
ten ducats ; but three days after the battle got the horse again, 
with the ball in him, — and he is now almost well again, — but 
without furniture and pistols. 

A brigade of English and another of Hanoverians are in 
garrison in this town, which we are fortifying daily. We are 
detached from the grand army, which is encamped between 
Frankfort and Hanau, about twelve miles off. 

They talk of a second battle soon. Count Khevenhuller and 
Marshal Broglie are expected to join the two armies in a few 
days. We are very well situated at present, and in a plentiful 
country. Had we stayed a few days longer at Aschaffenburg 
we had been all starved, for the French would have cut off our 
communication with Frankfort. Poor Captain Merry dan is 
killed. Pray mine and my brother's duty to my mother. We 
hope you are both perfectly well. 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your dutiful and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

Such was the famous battle of Dettingen. A hollow triumph 
had been obtained, when so little lacked to make it an effective 
victory. The French had been repulsed across the river with 4000 
killed and wounded, the losses of the Allies being, perhaps, half 
that number. Duroure's had twenty-nine officers and soldiers 
killed and sixty-eight wounded, more than any other regiment. 
" The French, to the surprise of every one," wrote one participant, 
"were suffered to escape unmolested. The King halted and the scene 
of action and military ardour was suddenly turned into a Court circle 
— His Majesty was congratulated by every military courtesan on 


horseback, on the glorious Event — the Hanoverian Generals gal- 
loped up with their reports — questions innumerable were asked and 
reports made ; the British Generals returning lamented the loss of 
so interesting a crisis and some of them ineffectually represented 
upon it, yet the Enemy was suffered to quietly repass their bridge 
over the Mayne ! although 6000 Hessians were at Hanau in perfect 
order for Action — the greatest part of the British army with great 
solemnity then passed the rivulet and encamped on the ground to 
the west of it where the Field Marshal de Noailles had left his first 

After the battle, the Allies spent the night in the open where 
they had fought. The rain came down in torrents, increasing the 
sufferings of the wounded. At daybreak the march — or more 
truly the flight — to Hanau was begun, leaving the maimed and 
dying to the tender mercies of the French, who behaved with great 
consideration. By this time Stair was for renewing the attack, but 
the King and his friends were in no mind to risk another battle. 
In the afternoon they reached Hanau, where an entry in Lord 
Stair's order-book explains Acting- Adjutant Wolfe's delay in 
writing home after the battle — 

June IQth, 1743 J Hannau Camp. 
The commanding officers of troops to examine into the state 
of their troops and to make a return of what men and horses are 
now fit for service, what condition their arms are in, what camp 
necessaries they have lost the day of the action and are wanting 
in each troop. This examination to be made this day and the 
return to be given in by eight o'clock to-morrow morning to the 

Wolfe's ability, despite his years, and it must be remembered 
that he was but sixteen and a half, was shown so conspicuously at 
Dettingen that a fortnight later (July 13, N.S.) the King was 
pleased to appoint him adjutant of his regiment. Before the 
month was out at Hanau he had got his commission as lieutenant. 
Amongst those who had noted specially the conduct of Wolfe on 
the field was the young Duke of Cumberland, who at the age of 
twenty-two already exhibited a rare talent for command. It is the 
custom to give royal princes honorary military titles, but of the 
many such who have received their major-generalships with their 
majority, few had seemed more likely to become worthy of such 
high military rank than Prince William Henry. 
^ Townshend's Journal. 


Dettingen revealed the weaknesses of the British Army, a thing 
not to be wondered at after thirty years of peace. But the moral 
and political effect of the battle upon the situation was marked. 
While Noailles was recovering at Offenbach, Prince Charles with 
64,000 Austrians advanced upon him, compelling his rapid retreat 
across the Rhine into Alsace, blowing up his magazines as he went. 
The Allies made no attempt in pursuit, although again Lord Stair 
urged it upon the King and the military cabal with which he was 
surrounded. They moved on quietly and safely to Worms, where 
a new camp was formed. From hence Lieutenant Wolfe writes to 
his father — 

To HIS Father. 

Camp near Worms, Sept. 1, N.S., 1743. 

Dear Sir, — By a letter I received from you some days ago, 
I have the happiness and satisfaction to hear that you and my 
mother are well ; but it being my brother's turn to write (which 
we intend to do in turns every Saturday), I put off answering 
until to-day. 

The army passed the Rhine the 23rd [N.S.], a little below 
Mentz, and came to this ground yesterday. It was possessed by 
the French before the action of Dettingen. The fortifications 
of the Swiss camp (who would not pass the Rhine) are just by, 
and those where the bridge was that the French went upon is 
close to it. The boats that made our bridge below Mentz are 
expected here to-morrow for the Dutch troops to come over, 
who, we hear, will be with us in six or seven days. There are 
numbers of reports relating to Prince Charles's army, so that I 
won't pretend to send you any account of it, only that most 
people think he has not passed the Rhine. The French are now 
encamped between Landau and Wissemberg. Captain Rainsford 
says if they have any spirit they will attack us here before we 
are joined by the Dutch, and so I believe our Commanders think, 
for they have just given orders to have all encumbrances removed 
from before the front of each regiment, in order to turn out at 
a minute's warning, and a chain of sentries are to be immediately 
placed in front of the camp. Our camp is tolerably strong ; we 
are open in the front, with hills, from which cannon cannot do 
us much harm. At the bottom of these hills is a little rivulet ; 
in our rear is the Rhine. The left is secured by the town of 
Worms, and the right is open ; but neither the front nor right 
have greater openings than we have troops to fill them up ; so I 


believe we are pretty safe. I am just now told that a party of 
our hussars have taken a French grand guard ; they have killed 
the captain and thirteen men, and have brought sixty-four to 
Worms. Fm convinced of the truth, because some gentlemen 
of our regiment saw them go along the line, and are going to 
buy some of the horses. I cannot tell if the Duke of Cumber- 
land knows what you mentioned in your letter ; I have never had 
any opportunity of inquiring. It is but a few days that he is 
come abroad : he has marched since we crossed the Rhine, at the 
head of his second line of English, which is his post. He is 
very brisk, and quite cured of his wound. His presence en- 
courages the troops, and makes them ready to undertake any- 
thing, having so brave a man at the head of them. I hope some 
day or other to have the honour of knowing him better than I 
do now ; 'tis what I wish as much as anything in the world 
(except the pleasure which I hope to enjoy when it shall please 
God), that of seeing my dear friends at Greenwich. Poor 
Colonel Duroure is, I am afraid, in great danger ; we left him on 
the other side of the Rhine very ill with a bloody flux. Our 
major is at the same place likewise, very much out of order. 
Our colonel was never more wanted to command us than now. 

I shall say nothing now of the behaviour of the Blue Guards ; 
I wish they may do better next time, and I don"'t doubt but they 
will. It would give me a great deal of sorrow if they did 

We have a great deal of sickness amongst us, so I believe 
the sooner we engage (if it is to be) the better. I hope you, 
Sir, and my mother are perfectly well. I heartily wish it, and 
that you may continue so. My brother joins with me in duty 
and love to both. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Your dutiful and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

Three days later Stair, whose position had been one of great 
difficulty ever since the King's arrival on the scene, resigned his 
command. Yet he had his adherents still. One officer writing 
home said, " If the general's advice had been followed we should 
have been half way to Paris by now." His resignation put an 
end to all notion of further engagements with the enemy, and soon 
afterwards the King and his suite returned to London to revel in 
the applause of the multitude, who magnified the business into 


a glorious victory. While odes and Te Deums were thus the 
order of the day at home, the camp at Worms was broken up, 
Field Marshal Wade being appointed Stair's successor as com- 
mander-in-chief of the British forces in Flanders. The fifth 
division (which included Duroure's), under Lord Rothes, marched 
to Brussels, which they reached November 22, and from thence to 
Ostend for the winter, much to our lieutenant's disgust. Edward, 
whose health had considerably suffered by the campaign, got leave 
to go home during the dull season, but his brother's services as 
adjutant were too indispensable for him to be spared for any length 
of time. There was a great shortage of officers, and being in- 
tensely ambitious he dared not plead any excuse for a remission of 
his duties. That his promotion had come full early he well knew : 
it had doubtless occasioned comment : his great object was to 
deserve it. So he passed the whole winter in Ostend uncomplain- 
ingly, making himself meanwhile a thorough master of his work 
and winning the affection of both his fellow-officers and the men. 
Christmas and his birthday found him at Ostend. In February he 
heard with joy that his father had been promoted to the rank of 
brigadier-general. Thinking that all the Wolfes ought to have a 
share in titular advancement, he pleasantly promoted his brother, 
still under the paternal roof in London, to a captaincy in an 
amusing letter he wrote in the spring — 

James to Edward Wolfe. 

Ostend, March 21, O.S., 1743. 

Dear Ned, — I got yours yesterday from Dover by a gentle- 
man who was so good to take it up and bring it me from thence. 
I expected to have had my box at the same time, for I thought 
our going to England (or rather the appearance of it) was 
entirely laid aside. I shall be obliged to you if you will take 
the first opportunity of sending it. I want it very much. I have 
not a pair of boots I can wear. The regiment will very soon be 
out to exercise. You and I are to be tented together next cam- 
paign. The marquee is making and will cost us about £^. I 
shall send to Ghent very soon to bespeak a cart, which with 
harness for two horses I am told will come to ten pounds or 
thereabouts. I shall get everything I find necessary for us ; so 
you need not be in any pain about your equipage. I think 
Rainsford is not brutal enough to send you from England, who 
have done all his duty this three or four months ; sure he knows 
better. I have a better opinion of his understanding. 


I hear of no promotion in the regiment, except that " Thick- 
head " 1 has got his father's company. Stephens is certainly going 
out, he is to be surgeon to the two troop of Horse Grenadiers and 
sell his employments with us ; so you will get a step by that. 
Ryder I believe will buy the Surgeonship. I am glad you find 
the mantua-maker pretty. I thought so, I assure you ; I give 
up all pretensions. Pray use her kindly. Doubtless you love 
the company of the fair sex. If you should happen to go where 
Mrs. Seabourg is, pray don't fall in love with her, I can't give 
her up tamely, remember I am your rival. I am also in some 
pain about Miss Warde. Admire anywhere else and welcome, 
— except the widow Bright. Miss Paterson is yours, if you like 
her, and so is the little staring girl in the chapel ^ with twenty 
thousand pounds. Pray give my duty to my mother. I hope 
her cold is well. The plum cake she gave me was very good and 
of singular service to me. I do not believe the box would hold 
any, but — they say 'tis particularly wholesome at Ostend ! 

I am, dear Ned, sincerely yours, 

J. Wolfe. 

N'oublie point mes compliments a les adorables femmes que 
je viens de nommer. 

To Capt. Wolfe at Brig. Wolfe s 

in old Burlington Street, 

Burlington Gardens, 


" Pray give my duty to my mother," may seem a somewhat 
cold and formal phrase from a youth of seventeen, even though he 
be a seasoned soldier and an adjutant, but we must bear in mind 
the epistolary spirit and filial ceremony of the age, which tempers 
much that to us seems callous and anti-fervid. There still remains a 
residue, however, in Wolfe's letters to his mother which discloses 
something of the peculiar character of their relations. We seem 
to see a good deal of the antique Roman spirit about them both : 
each sincerely loved the other, both were chary of expressions of 
relaxing endearment. Wolfe himself usually takes a stern, self- 
contained tone towards his mother, easily to be mistaken now-a-days 
for priggishness. But James Wolfe was no prig : moreover, his 

1 *^^ Thickhead," Lieutenant Romer, whom Edward Wolfe succeeded. 

■^ Tlie chapel of Greenwich Hospital, where the Wolfe family at one period 
attended service. 


effusion of natural spirits is sometimes notable, as in the last 
quoted letter. 

Shortly after this Wolfe got his commission as captain, and 
was transferred to BarrelPs Regiment (the 4th Foot), and his 
brother rejoined Duroure's as lieutenant. Both regiments marched 
away to join the army now assembled on the banks of the 
Scheldt under Marshal Wade, consisting of 22,000 British, 16,000 
Hanoverians, 18,000 Austrians, and 20,000 Dutch— in all, 76,000 
troops. Afterwards they were reinforced by 18,000 Dutch. 
While this large army remained inactive on the Scheldt, the 
French under Marshal Saxe, after being concentrated at Lille, 
proceeded to overrun the Netherlands. 

Wade was, as we see now, a pitiful sort of general, more at 
home in road-building than in planning and fighting battles. He 
considered himself too weak to offer any effectual barrier to the 
French, who took Courtrai, Menin and Ypres successively before 
their English opponent was spurred forward to action by in- 
dignant orders from home. The surrender of Ypres was especially 
disgraceful, and Wade became so frightened that he sent away his 
plate for safe-keeping at Antwerp, a fact well known to British 
officers and men. A letter written by Edward Wolfe, the last of 
the brief series written by that hapless young officer, throws some 
light on the situation — 

Edward Wolfe to his Father, 

Camp near Berlingham, June 17th, 1744. 

Dear Sir, — I am sorry to inform you of so disagreeable 
piece of news as Ypres being surrendered after a siege of eight 
days. No doubt but it gives great spirits to our enemy, who, 
'tis said, have lost very few men ; but I have not yet heard their 

We have some expectations of their visiting us next. 
They have a party of men very near our advanced guard, on the 
other side of the Scheldt. However, we are prepared for them ; 
so they won't find it very easy to pass that river. We suspect 
the designs of Duke d'Harcourt, with his army between thirty 
and forty thousand men, who, 'tis said, are encamped between 
Mons and Mauberge. Our last motion, I am told, retarded the 
siege of Ypres two days. They, expecting we were coming 
towards them, were under arms a quarter of an hour after we 
left our ground. 

I have a list of our army, which I would willingly send you, 


but Major Rainsford gave it me, and desired I would be cautious 
of showing it, and advised me not to venture sending it over. 
We are in hopes of the six English regiments coming to join us 
with 6000 Dutch. The wind has been fair for bringing them to 
Ostend ; but we don't hear they are landed. 

Duke de Chartres was killed at the siege of Ypres. He was 
one of their chiefs, and a very experienced officer. The French 
had a hundred pieces of cannon and five or six batteries of small 
mortars. The taking of the town is really no great feat, if we 
consider the strength of the garrison, which was said to be but 
four weak battalions. 

I wrote to my dear mother by Sergeant Somerset, who I sup- 
pose will be with you before you receive this. I don't doubt but 
she is in some apprehension, of our being in danger ; but I hope 
she'll not fright herself while we continue in health, as we are 
both now. We have had no fatigue yet in comparison of that 
we had in Germany ; but nobody knows what we may have. 
We have here a defensive army, and fewer in numbers than we 
were last campaign ; still we never despair of coming off with 
laurels whenever we meet our enemy. Our men keep up their 
spirits. The taking of these two towns and the number of men 
they imagine the French have does not in the least deject them, 
but makes them only wish for a meeting. My brother desires 
his duty to you and my dearest mother. 
I am, dearest Sir, 

Your dutiful and affectionate son, 

Edw. Wolfe. 

I return you many thanks for my lieutenancy. 

This postscript reminds us that the Wolfes were actively engaged 
in pushing the fortunes of both their sons in that age of patronage 
and promotion by purchase. 

A month after the foregoing letter was written Wade held a 
council of war, but although the French raids became daily more 
daring (on one occasion they nearly carried off the aged marshal 
himself) little came of it. Inaction ate the heart out of the 
troops. Some of the generals almost went down on their knees 
urging Wade to attack, especially when the enemy was obliged to 
withdraw half his strength to meet the Austrian forces. Nothing 
was done ; rivalries and petty jealousies abounded. Discipline 
was relaxed. The two Wolfe brothers being now in different 


regiments, only saw each other occasionally. Already Edward"*s 
constitution was undermined by hardships. In September he was 
ailing and with the advent of the first chilly winds he became 
seriously ill. Then he went to pieces, and a galloping consump- 
tion soon claimed " the Old Soldier,"" whose sweetness of disposition 
and military enthusiasm had endeared him to all. In a few 
weeks the brave boy was dead. He was not yet seventeen. On 
this melancholy occurrence, James, whom circumstances had pre- 
vented from witnessing it, wrote off at once briefly to his parents. 
The poor mother was overwhelmed, and desperately anxious to 
snatch her surviving son from a like fate. She desired him to come 
home on furlough as soon as leave could be granted. In the fol- 
lowing letter, awkward enough yet characteristic of the writer at 
that time, James supplies some particulars of Edward's demise. 

To HIS Mother. 

Ghent, 29^A October, 1744, O.S. 

I received your letter this morning with a great deal of 
pleasure, and have with this wrote to my father about coming 
to England. I hope he will be able to get the better of some 
obstacles, and I shall be sincerely happy. 

Poor Ned wanted nothing but the satisfaction of seeing his 
dearest friends to leave the world with the greatest tranquility. 
He often called on us. It gives me many uneasy hours when I 
reflect on the possibility there was of my being with him some 
time before he died. God knows it was being to exact, and not 
apprehending the danger the poor fellow was in ; and even that 
would not have hindered it had I received the physician's first 
letter. I know you won't be able to read this paragraph without 
shedding tears, as I do writing it ; but there is a satisfaction 
even in giving way to grief now and then. 'Tis what we owe 
the memory of a dear friend. 

Though it is the custom of the army to sell the deceased's 
efi'ects, I could not suffer it. We none of us want, and I thought 
the best way would be to bestow them on the deserving whom 
he had an esteem for in his lifetime. To his servant — the most 
honest and faithful man I ever knew — I gave all his clothes. . . . 
I gave his horse to his friend Parry,^ with the furniture. I know 
he loved Parry, and I know for that reason the horse will be 
taken care of. His other horse I keep myself. I have his watch, 

^ Brotlier of Rev. Joshua Parry, who afterwards wrote an ode to General 


sash, gorget, books, and maps, which I shall preserve to his 
memory. Everything else that I have not mentioned shall be 
taken care of, and given to proper persons. 

He was an honest and a good lad, had lived very well, and 
always discharged his duty with the cheerfulness becoming a 
good officer. He lived and died as a son of you two should, 
which, I think, is saying all I can. I have the melancholy 
satisfaction to find him regretted by his friends and acquaintances. 
His Colonel is particularly concerned for him, and desired I 
would assure of it. There was in him the prospect (when 
ripened with experience) of good understanding and judgment, 
and an excellent soldier. Youll excuse my dwelling so long on 
this cruel subject, but in relating this to you, vanity and partiality 
are banished. A strong desire to do justice to his memory 
occasions it. 

There was no part of his life that makes him dearer to me 
than that where you have often mentioned — he pined after me. 
It often makes me angry that any hour of my life should pass 
without thinking of him ; and when I do think of him, that 
though all the reasons I have to lament his loss are now as 
forcible as at the moment of his departure, I don't find my heart 
swell with the same sorrow as it did at that time. Nature is 
ever too good in blotting out the violence of affliction. For all 
tempers (as mine is) too much given to mirth, it is often necessary 
to revive grief in one's memory. I must once more beg you will 
excuse my tiresome length and manner of writing, but I know 
your indulgence. Fm just now going to write to my Uncle 

Your dutiful and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

By the middle of September the Austrian and Dutch com- 
manders had proposed to Wade to evacuate that part of Flanders 
and establish themselves in Ghent, where forage was to be had 
easily. Upon Wade's declining the proposition the Allies left him, 
and he was quickly under the humiliating necessity of being obliged 
to follow. So Wolfe was at Ghent once more. The prospect of 
spending the winter there was so little cheering that it is small 
wonder he looked forward eagerly to the chances of furlough. But 
furlough was not to be. This time his father's influence was not 
sufficient, or he was considered too valuable an officer to be dis- 
1 Major Walter Wolfe^ then at Dublin. 


pensed with. Nor is it wholly improbable that his own ambition 
had again something to do with his remaining with his regiment 
all that winter at Ghent. 

Ghent well deserved to be for ever associated with James Wolfe, 
for here no inconsiderable part of his military education was formed. 
It was in the old Flemish town that he had, as an ensign, studied 
the duties of an adjutant ; it was now, as a captain, he prepared 
himself for the onerous post of brigade-major. We can believe 
that other young captains and lieutenants easily obtained their 

While Wolfe sedulously strove to perfect himself at Ghent that 
winter of 1744-45, a new administration had come into power in 
England. Carteret had been expelled, and Wade the inglorious 
was recalled. Amongst the new men of the Opposition from 
whom much was already expected was William Pitt. This rising 
statesman, then entering his thirty-seventh year, whose eloquence 
and high patriotic professions marked him out for office, had had 
the ill-fortune to provoke the personal dislike of George II. But 
there were compensations. The aged and eccentric Duchess of 
Marlborough, had just died, leaving him in her will the hand- 
some sum of .£10,000 in consideration of " the noble defence he 
has made for the support of the laws of England and to prevent 
the ruin of his country." 

Pitt and the Opposition leaders had gained a great deal of 
credit by their fierce antagonism to the Hanoverian policy pursued 
by Granville. This antagonism, joined to his resolution to accept 
no place save that of Secretary of War, kept Pitt out of office. 
But it was soon seen that the Pelhams had no real intention of 
subverting the Hanoverian policy which the King had so much at 
heart. A new subsidy to Saxony of d£^l 50,000 was even decreed, 
and in January 1745, a Quadruple Alliance was concluded between 
Great Britain, Holland, Austria and Saxony. Nor was this all ; 
besides other and minor subsidies half-a-million sterling was voted 
to the Queen of Hungary. This advance of <£200,000 on her 
previous subsidy was designed to enable her to pay the Hanoverian 
and Hessian mercenaries, who hitherto had been paid direct out of 
the British Exchequer! Thus the popular clamour was quieted 
for a twelvemonth, when, stirring events having intervened at home, 
18,000 Hanoverians were again taken into British pay. This time 
Pitt the patriot, but also Pitt the politician, did not antagonize 
the measure so adroitly concerted between his friends and their 


A posthumous ■portrait by Gainsborough, from sketches made at Bath, 1758. In the possession of the 
Corporation oj Mancliester 



In April 1745, Captain Wolfe was still at Ghent and fighting 
in Flanders was resumed. On the 10th of that month the new 
commander of the British and Allied forces an'ived in Brussels. 
William, Duke of Cumberland, was then only just entering the 
twenty-fourth year of his age. The mere circumstance of its 
being possible for a youth of his years, even with all the prestige 
which attaches to a prince of the blood, to be entrusted with 
the supreme command of 50,000 troops forcibly illustrates the 
character of contemporary warfare and constitutional ideas. True, 
there was a check on Cumberland's motions in the person of the 
Austrian general. Marshal Konigsegg, who had the veto power. 
On the other hand he possessed, as has already been hinted, very 
considerable military qualifications. He was of an imperious dis- 
position, full of courage, and inspired confidence. Nor was he 
ignorant of the technical part of war. 

At the time of Cumberland's arrival the French marshal Saxe 
was busily besieging Tournay, one of the principal fortresses of 
Flanders. To attempt to raise this siege the commander ordered 
forward a number of regiments from Brussels. Unluckily, Barreirs 
not being one of these, Wolfe had to stay behind to garrison 
Ghent. When Saxe learnt of the British advance he massed four- 
fifths of his army at the village of Fontenoy, and gave battle to 
Cumberland and the Allies on April 30. A few days Wolfe sent 
home the following account of what happened — 

To HIS Father. 

Ghent, Uh May, O.S., 1745. 

Dear Sir, — Fm concerned I must send you so melancholy an 
account of a great but unsuccessful attempt to raise the siege of 
Tournay. I shall just tell what a letter before me from Captain 
Field, who commanded Colonel Duroure's Regiment, says of it : — 

" We attacked a numerous army, entrenched with a multi- 
plicity of batteries, well placed both in front and flank. The 
action began the 30th April, O.S., about five o'clock in the 
morning, and lasted till two in the afternoon. There has been 

E 49 


a great deal of slaughter, particularly amongst the infantry, 
officers more in proportion than soldiers. The enemy'^s army 
were supposed to be 70,000, and ours about 50,000. The 
soldiery behaved with the utmost bravery and courage during 
the whole affair, but rather rash and impetus. Notwithstanding 
the bravest attempts were made to conquer, it was not possible 
for us to surmount the difficulties we met with." 

Thus the gentleman speaks of the affair. The army made 
a fine retreat, in such order that the French did not think proper 
to pursue them. The Duke, I hear, has shown in this action 
most unparalleled bravery, but was very sensibly touched when 
he found himself obliged to give over the attack. The Hanover- 
ians have shown themselves good troops, and the Blues have 
regained their reputation, having been several times broken by 
two battalions, as often rallied, and returned with fresh vigour 
to the charge. The French go on with the siege of Tournay, 
and will have it very soon. We expect every hour to be ordered 
into the field, and replaced by a weak battalion. Our army is 
encamped at Ath, and I'm afraid will make but an indifferent 
defensive figure the rest of the campaign. I shall write to-day 
to Major Rainsford for an exact return of the loss our troops 
sustained. In the meantime, I will give you an account of some 
unfortunate men that have fallen, and some others that are 
wounded, down to the majors, though we are not yet exactly 
sure. I will be particular in your regiment (of which I wish 
you much joy), because I imagine you will be glad to know how 
it goes with them, as I had it this morning from the Paymaster. 
No officers killed, but several wounded, and them you'll find 
hereafter to be very good ones : — Colonel Keightley ; Major 
Grey; Captains Dallow, Loftus, Hill, Elkins. Subs, Rickson, 
etc. ... I don't hear that any of their wounds are mortal. 

The old regiment [Duroure's] has suffered very much; 18 
officers and 300 men, killed and wounded ; amongst the latter is 
Major Rainsford. 

I believe this account will shock you not a little; but 'tis 
surprising the number of officers of lower rank that are gone. 
Pray my duty to my mother. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Your dutiful and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

As it has turned out we may thank providence we were not there. 


So heavily had Diiroure's suffered in this disastrous engagement 
(in which the total British loss was 4074 killed and wounded, 620 
horses and 21 guns) that Edward Wolfe by his death in hospital 
at Berlingham narrowly missed in all probability a death on the 
field of Fontenoy. Owing to the bravery with which the troops 
fought, Fontenoy has been called a " glorious defeat."" After the 
battle the Allies entrenched themselves at Lessines, and there the 
Duke of Cumberland sent for reinforcements from Ghent and 
elsewhere. Amongst the regiments dispatched was BarrelPs, and 
thus Wolfe found himself on May 21 at Lessines. On the same 
day Tournay surrendered to Saxe. Ghent was threatened, and 
four British battalions were ordered thither to defend it. Wolfe 
had a cordial welcome from the Duke, who, not always constant 
in his friendships, ever afterwards seems to have manifested a 
cordiality towards the young officer. On June 12 he signed Captain 
Wolfe's commission as brigade-major.^ 

By his departure Wolfe had just escaped sharing the fate of 
Ghent, which was surprised on the last day of June. As the 
garrison slept, 4000 of the enemy got over the ditch with fascines 
and let down the drawbridge. The resistance offered was feeble : 
one may be sure our hero would never have consented to the 
disgraceful display of a white flag at the citadel before any effort 
had been made. Moltke, the Commander of the Allies in that 
quarter, was so frightened that he fled pell-mell to Sluys, twenty- 
one miles away, where the governor very properly refused to admit 
him. After this the fall of Ostend was a foregone conclusion. 

Such was the posture of affairs with the British Army on the 
Continent in the summer of 1745. Not without reason to Prince 
Charles Edward and his adherents did it seem to offer a heaven- 
sent opportunity for raising the standard of the banished Stewarts, 
for making a fresh attempt upon the crown of the United 
Kingdom. None could say the time was not auspicious. King 
George was in Hanover, the bulk of the standing army was in 
Flanders ; British generalship was in nubibus. 

Wherefore on July 25, 1745, the Young Pretender, who seemed 
destined by Fortune to win hearts by the beauty of his person 
and the grace of his manner, landed in Scotland. It was three 
weeks before the news of this audacious attempt reached Sir John 
Cope, who commanded the forces in the north. Cope set out from 
Edinburgh with 1500 men for Fort Augustus, thinking to nip 

1 "Captain Wolfe is appointed Brigade-major to Pulteney's Brigade."— 
Duke of Cumberland's Note-book, Towusliend, p. 83. 

E 2 


the rebellion easily in the bud. He was provided with a Royal 
Proclamation offering a reward of c£30,000 to any person who 
should seize and secure the pretended Prince of Wales, and he 
carried a thousand stand of arms to distribute to native volunteers. 
He might have spared himself the trouble. On arriving at Dal- 
whinnie he found an important pass in possession of the rebels, 
and to avoid a battle changed his course and marched straight on 
to Inverness. It is unfair, perhaps, to accuse Cope of cowardice ; 
he calculated the chances of success against the forces he found 
were too slender, and decided to beat a retreat. It may have been 
a foolish calculation, but such as it was his officers agreed with it. 
The retreat certainly gave colour to the report which flew about 
the Highlands that the soldiers of the Elector (as the rebels called 
George II) had fled before the gallant adherents of Prince Charles. 
The latter descended upon the Lowlands, entered Perth, was in 
Stirling on 14th September, and on the 17th reached Edinburgh. 
Here he took up quarters in his ancestral palace of Holyrood. 

No wonder the Government was thoroughly alarmed. Their 
alarm was still greater when they learnt that the Pretender, so far 
from being content with his exploits already achieved, had left the 
capital, off*ered battle to Sir John Cope and utterly routed that 
officer at Preston Pans. 

Reinforcements must come home in haste from the Netherlands, 
and Wolfe was not left long in doubt that BarrelFs was amongst 
the seven battalions ordered to cross the Channel to Scotland. 

Late in September the passage was made and a march begun 
northward to Newcastle. There old Marshal Wade had collected 
10,000 troops to face the Pretender, daily growing bolder. Wolfe 
was busy enough at Newcastle, where besides his proper duties as 
major he would seem to have performed those of Deputy Quarter- 
master General, if we may judge by an order still extant signed by 
Marshal Wade directing " Major James Wolfe to be paid <^930 for 
allowance for 93 baggage horses to the seven battalions lately 
come from Flanders." The pleasure must have been great of 
meeting his father, who, now at the age of sixty and rather gouty, 
was seeing active service as general of division. It must have 
furnished an entertaining picture to see the old general leaving 
Newcastle with General Bland with a detachment ordered up the 
East Coast, unable to sit his horse, hurrying along in his post-chaise, 
hearing at every stopping place all the idle rumours about Prince 
Charles's movements, his victories, sieges and flights, and the 
probability of the " confounded Highlanders " making a prolonged 


resistance. That post-chaise, had a younger man been inside, 
would have served as a fitting symbol of the old school. But the 
rugged veteran within clung to service to the last. 

Already it was known that 14,000 muskets and at least 80,000 
had come to the rebels from France. In November the Pretender 
invaded England and laid siege to Carhsle. About this time we 
get the following letter from Wolfe to his mother. 

Newcastle^ November lUh, 1745. 

I received yours the day the last post went out, but as my 
father was then writing to you I thought it needless. I was 
under some apprehension for him on the road to Berwick, and 
was even told he was made prisoner, but not with foundation to 
give much credit to, as it had fallen out. I really believe you 
need not concern yourself about my father's safety, for "'tis the 
opinion of most men that these rebels won't stand the King's 
troops ; and as to marching north and south with the army in 
his post-chaise, it does him so much service that I never saw him 
look better. 

It is said the Pretender's people made an attack on Carlisle, 
but have been repulsed with loss ; this, however is not to be 
depended upon. 

You cannot doubt the sincerity of my intentions, but to 
convince you I must beg you will no more think of what you 
have mentioned in your letter. I wrote to you in a style of 
complaint, just £Ls the accident happened, but I have now got 
the better of that, and am in a condition to repair the loss. I 
know very well the many good uses you have of putting your 
money to ; pray don't let me be the instrument of preventing it. 
Besides, you give it to a person that ought to give you, by the 
difference of income. I desire you won't imagine I am so un- 
reasonable a dog as to think of it. 

There is one thing that I must beg leave to assure you, that 
though I don't take it I am not the less obliged to you, and 
shall always own a proper acknowledgment for this and the 
innumerable kindnesses I have always received from you. I 
heartily wish you your health, and am. 

Your dutiful and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

Two days after this letter was written Wade, greatly hesitating, 
set his troops in movement towards Carlisle. The weather was 


V — . 

unusually severe and the roads well-nigh impassable through snow. 
It took fifteen hours for the men to cover ten miles. Another 
day's such march and tidings came to Wade that Carlisle had 
surrendered. This was enough for him : he turned round in his 
tracks back to Newcastle, leaving the insurgents to do as they 
please. How sick the Brigade-major of nineteen must have been 
of Marshal Wade's method of making war ! — a capital illustration 
of how not to do it. The Government was getting to be, though 
slowly, of the same opinion. 

Meanwhile the Duke of Cumberland had arrived in England 
with the rest of the British army and was quickly encamped with 
8000 men at Lichfield. Another army began to be formed at 
Finchley (the " March to Finchley " of Hogarth is recalled), which 
the King declared he was ready to command in person. All these 
forces were likely to be needed, for Prince Charles, finding that 
Wade did not intend to attack him, came boldly onwards to Preston 
in Lancashire, where he was received with three hearty cheers, " the 
first he had heard in England.*" At Manchester there was a ringing 
of bells and more cheering, and there several hundred volunteers 
were enrolled. In the midst of this encouraging progress came 
news that Wade had at last made up his mind to do something. 
He was advancing against the invaders through Yorkshire. 

This brought Charles Edward to a halt. With Cumberland 
on one side and Wade on the other the situation needed consider- 
ing. At first the Prince rejected proposals for a return to 
Scotland. But he yielded to the counsel of his officers at Derby 
and sullenly consented to a retreat on the 6th December. It 
was a momentous decision. It is more than one historian's 
belief that had Charles marched onward from Derby he would 
have gained the British throne. Henry Fielding, writing in the 
True Patriot^ declared that "when the Highlanders, by a most 
incredible march, got between the Duke's army and the metropolis, 
they struck a terror into it scarce to be credited." King George 
himself prepared for flight and the Duke of Newcastle was 
paralyzed. So great was the run on the Bank of England that, 
but for the stratagem of paying out in sixpences, it would have 
been brought to bankruptcy. 

On the heels of the retreating Pretender Cumberland with his 
cavalry set off" straightway in pursuit. At Macclesfield he found 
the enemy two days in advance. Joined by a body of horse sent 
across country by Wade the Duke pressed close at their heels, 
reaching Carlisle the day after the Highlanders had left. 


Wolfe had already received orders to march with his regiment 
on to Scotland to intercept the rebels on their route to the Scottish 
capital. On the 5th of January 1746, Charles summoned Stirling 
to surrender. The Castle was in charge of an able soldier, General 
Blakeney, who, undismayed by the array of battering guns and 
French engineers at the disposal of the insurgents, bade them 
defiance. In three days the town surrendered, but Blakeney had 
hopes of immediate succour from the troops of Wade. The latter 
advanced rapidly from Edinburgh, Wolfe amongst them, but they 
were no longer led by the veteran of '15. Wade had been recalled 
and his successor was General Henry Hawley, nominated by his 
royal patron, the Duke of Cumberland, who after the reduction of 
Carlisle, marched southward. History has bestowed upon the new 
commander the title of " Hangman Hawley," and in this instance 
Clio, whose pronouncements so often reverse prejudice and occasion- 
ally, alas, confirm it, cannot be charged with infelicity or injustice. 
To mediocre military ability Hawley united a ferocious temper 
and a genuine love of cruelty. He indulged himself in the pleasure 
of carrying a couple of gibbets with him as camp furniture. His 
men hated him. Hawley commanded about the same numerical 
strength as Charles Edward, namely, about nine thousand men. 

On Hawley's approach Charles Edward assembled his troops 
near Stirling and awaited an attack. To his surprise, Hawley 
halted at Falkirk, firm in the belief that the " Highland rabble," 
as he contemptuously termed the Pretender's troops, would disperse 
in a panic on hearing of his approach. In fact, he had boasted at 
White's Club not many weeks before that with two regiments of 
dragoons he would drive the rebels from one end of the kingdom 
to the other. So little did he anticipate an attack that he rode 
off some miles to dine with the Countess of Kilmarnock, and his 
own troops were actually feeding when some rustics flew into camp 
and gave the alarm. Two officers sprang up a tree and distinctly 
saw the approaching Highlanders through a telescope. General 
Huske, left in command, instantly gave orders to beat to arms, 
and the troops, dropping their rations, were formed in line for 
action. But owing to the Prince's stratagem of sending round a 
detachment as a feint in his rear, Huske became confused, not 
daring to act without Hawley's sanction. The troops began 
murmuring, " Where is the General ? What shall be done ? We 
have no orders." Perchance there was one brigade where the men's 
confidence in their major quieted their speculations. Suddenly 
the General, hatless and perspiring, came galloping up. At the 


same time a winter storm broke and the icy rain beat full in the 
faces of the troops. Hawley, pulling himself together and recog- 
nizing the inconvenience of his position, desired that the battle, if 
battle there was, should be fought on the summit of Falkirk moor. 
But he was too late — the Pretender was before him, and Hawley 
was compelled to face the foe in a very inferior position. His 
artillery stuck fast in a morass and could not be extricated, and it 
was the greatest luck the Pretender had not brought his with him. 
Hawley then ordered Ligonier to charge. The cavalry was 
received by the Highlanders with great composure, and men and 
horses reeled from the impact. Three of Hawley's regiments 
had no better success. Drunk with their achievement, the clansmen, 
dropping their muskets, seized their swords and fell on before and 
behind. It was hardly in human nature for even seasoned troops 
to stand firm before such an onslaught of both Scotsmen and Scots 
weather. In vain their officers strove to urge them forward : their 
centre broke and gradually all fell back. 

The three English regiments on the right did their utmost to 
stand firm, but at length they too were compelled to yield. It 
must have gone greatly against Wolfe's grain when the orders 
came for retreat ; but at least he had the satisfaction of bringing 
off his men steadily to the beat of drums and with flying colours — 
a great feat. We are told that many of themselves as well as 
some of the enemy, supposed the retreat was a piece of military 
tactics rather than an affair of compulsion. Otherwise, it is prob- 
able an attempt at pursuit might have been made, and under the 
circumstances the King's troops must have been completely routed. 
Through the rain and darkness they marched to Linlithgow, on the 
way to Edinburgh, leaving Prince Charles and his Highlanders 
rubbing their eyes and undecided whether they had scored a victory 
or a defeat. Finding Hawley had left his cannon behind him, they 
concluded they were the victors. Wolfe himself writes thus to his 
uncle Sotheron — 

To William Sotheron. 

Edinburgh, January 20th, 1746. 

Dear Sir, — If you have not seen the Gazette, you will have 
heard of our late encounter (for 'twas not a battle, as neither side 
would fight) : and possibly it will be told you in a much worse 
light than it really is. Though we can't have been said to have 
totally routed the enemy, we yet remained a long time masters 
of the field of battle, and of our cannon, not one of which 


would have been lost if the drivers had not left their carriages 
and run oiF with the horses. We left Falkirk and part of our 
camp because the ammunition of the army — on which we can 
only depend — was all wet and spoiled ; but our retreat was in 
no ways molested by the enemy, as affecting our superiority. 
The loss of either side is inconsiderable, and we are now making 
all necessary preparations to try once more to put an end to this 
rebellion, which the weather has hitherto prevented, and in my 
opinion can at any time be the only objection. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Notwithstanding the young officer'^s way of treating it, the 
battle of Falkirk was a decidedly unpleasant episode, and the loss 
in killed, wounded and prisoners on the Royal side far from incon- 
siderable, as Wolfe discovered when the muster rolls of regulars 
and volunteers came to be issued. Instead of resting themselves, 
the Highlanders, who took possession of Falkirk, passed the entire 
night, we are told, stripping the dead bodies left on the field, so 
that in the morning a spectator likened these last to a large flock 
of white sheep lying upon the slopes of the distant hill. Having 
loaded themselves with plunder, many of the clansmen retired, as 
was their wont, to the mountains, thereby weakening the forces at 
the disposal of the Prince, who now continued his fruitless siege 
of Stirling castle. 

In London the news of Falkirk caused great uneasiness, as 
well as surprise. Cumberland made no secret of his opinion that 
the whole business was due to lack of discipline. " Had I 
been there," he said to a friend, " I would have attacked 
the rebels with the men Hawley had left."" This dictum was 
repeated in the Royal hearing; whereupon the King requested 
Cumberland to take charge of the situation in Scotland. The 
Duke agreeing, he set out with alacrity, arriving on January 30 
(a day fatal erstwhile to the Stewarts) in Edinburgh. There he had 
conferences with Hawley, and inspected the troops, who received 
him with rapture. Cumberland certainly appeared to know his 
own mind, and the very next day ordered a march back towards 
Falkirk and Stirling. With him went, as Lieutenant- Generals, 
Hawley and the Earl of Albermarle, father of Wolfe's future 
colonel. Lord Bury. The force numbered about 7,800 men, all 
now full of zeal, and anxious to erase the blots their reputations 
had suffered at Preston Pans and Falkirk. 


Scarce were they well on the march than grievous dissensions 
in the insurgent army caused Charles Edward to abandon the 
siege of Stirling and retreat across the Forth in haste, leaving 
his wounded and prisoners. He reached Inverness, where he 
instantly dispossessed Lord Loudoun, reduced the citadel, and took 
and destroyed Fort Augustus. At his heels soon followed Cum- 
berland, who, having first left Hessian garrisons at Stirling and 
Perth, on February 28 entered Aberdeen. Here numbers of the 
nobility and gentry — prudent in their generation — came to offer 
their services to King George, and the next few weeks saw detach- 
ments sent to scour the surrounding country, offering protection 
to the loyal,'and compelling flight on the part of the disaffected. 
Some of these detachments were overtaken by the rebels and cut 
to pieces. But it was generally easy work. Major Lafausille, for 
example (he was afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel of Wolfe's), at the 
head of three hundred men, spread havoc about the district of Glen 
Esk, long remembered. Two Aberdeen non-juring churches were 
burnt by the soldiers, but generally speaking there were no breaches 
of discipline. The Duke was strictness itself, and had his men well 
in hand. They had little leisure, as despite the severity of the 
weather, Cumberland insisted upon so many hours' drill daily. 

As for Wolfe, he was, at the Commander-in-Chiefs request, 
appointed aide-de-camp to Hawley. In this capacity there now 
occurred an interesting episode in the life of our hero which demon- 
strates his own complete subjection to discipline and his strict obedi- 
ence to orders, however distasteful. On the arrival of the army in 
Aberdeen the Duke took up his quarters at the house of an advo- 
cate, Alexander Thomson, who, although a Whig and a firm 
supporter of King George, received no compensation for being 
thus deprived of his house and furniture. He afterwards com- 
plained bitterly that his bed and bed-linen had been abused and 
spoiled, and that he had been robbed of a stock of sugar which 
he locked up. Thomson's next neighbour was a Mrs. Gordon, of 
well-known Jacobite proclivities. The house of this lady Hawley 
was told to take possession of for his own quarters. The story of 
what happened is somewhat difficult to unravel, because only Mrs. 
Gordon's own account, as recited in various Jacobite memoirs, 
exists ; but inferences are obvious. Says the lady, describing the 
" disgraceful episode " with great circumstantiality — 

" The Duke came to my house, attended by General Hawley 
and several others. The General lay in my bed, and very early on 
Friday morning sent a messenger to the house where I was, demand- 



ing all my keys. . . . That evening, one Major Wolfe, came to me, 
and after asking me if I was Mrs. Gordon, and desiring a gentle- 
man who was with me to go out of the room, he said that he was 
come to tell me, that by the Duke of Cumberland's and General 
Hawley's orders, I was deprived of everything I had, except the 
clothes on my back. After delivering this message, he said that 
General Hawley, having enquired into my character of several 
persons who had all spoke very well of me, and had told him that 
I had no hand in the Rebellion, and that I was a stranger there, 
without any relatives in that country, he, the General, therefore, 
would make interest with the Duke that I might have any particu- 
lar thing that I had a mind to, and could say was my own. I 
then desired to have my tea, but the Major told me it was very 
good, and that tea was scarce in the army ; so he did not believe 
I could have it. The same answer was made when I asked for my 
chocolate. I mentioned several other things, particularly my 
china. That he told me was, a great deal of it, very pretty, and 
that they were very fond of china themselves ; but as they had no 
ladies travelled with them, I might perhaps have some of it, I 
then desired to have my pictures. He said he supposed I could 
not wish to have them all. I replied that I did not pretend to name 
any except my son's. He asked me if I had a son, where was he ? 
I said I had sent him into the country to make room for them. 
To what place ? said he. I answered, to Sir Arthur Forbes's. He 
asked how old my son was. I said about fourteen. Said he, then 
he is not a child, and you will have to produce him ; and thus we 
parted. This Major Wolfe was aide-de-camp to General Hawley. 
The next day, after petitioning the Duke," she continues, " Major 
Wolfe came to me again and told me, that the Duke had sent him 
to let me know that my petition had been read to him, and that 
he would take care that everything should be restored to me. 
Notwithstanding this, when I sent to the house to ask for any- 
thing, as, in particular, I did for a pair of breeches for my son, a 
little tea for myself, for a bottle of ale, for some flour to make 
bread, because there was none to be bought in the town, all was 
refused me." She goes on to say, " I should have mentioned above 
that Major Wolfe did one day bring me my son's picture, but 
without the frame ; and he then told me that General Hawley did 
with his own hands take it out of the frame, which was a gilt one 
and very handsome. The frame the General left behind him, and 
I afterwards found it in the house." ^ 

1 Bishop P'orbe's Jacobite Memoirs j edited by R. Chambers, 1834. 


Now, in perusing the foregoing, one has only to bear in mind 
that Mrs. Gordon was a Jacobite lady of substance, against whom 
the Duke of Cumberland had decreed no mercy, that she drew up 
an inventory of the goods in her possession, amongst which were 
large supplies of salt beef, pickled pork, brandy, rum, tea, chocolate, 
which naturally excited the suspicion of the Duke. This suspicion 
was confirmed by a further entry of " One set of blue and white, 
ten dishes, forty plates and three dozen plates. Note. These were 
not my own, but were sent to my house to see if I would buy them."^ 
Under the circumstances Cumberland, Hawley and Wolfe believed 
that the lady was artfully endeavouring, as has been observed by 
Wright,^ to conceal the property of her proscribed friends. It was 
not a pleasant task, thus to be obliged closely to interrogate a lady, 
and Wolfe was no doubt heartily glad to be quit of the affair. 
Doubtless, too, his concession of the portrait brought down on him 
a reprimand from " Hangman " Hawley, who was little likely to be 
influenced by any tender feelings. 

On March 12 BarrelFs regiment was dispatched to Straths- 
bogie to make a demonstration against a body of rebels 
there. Wolfe did not accompany them, but was kept busy for the 
next few weeks at head- quarters. On April 6 Cumberland was 
ready to march, but news coming that a French sloop bearing 
men, money and arms to the rebels had been driven ashore, a 
detachment was instantly sent to that quarter. A number of 
French and Spaniards who had thus been forced to land with their 
belongings were captured, and some ^^1 2,000 was brought into 
Aberdeen. The camp broke up on the 8th, the ships sailing along 
the coast in full view of the troops. The Spey was duly forded 
in fine weather. The water came up to the men's waists and the 
current was strong, but it was part and parcel of a soldier''s lot to 
Wolfe, who felt they were well out of the business with the drown- 
ing of only a single one of his dragoons. All along the march the 
enemy hung about, falling back at Elgin and Forres. On the 15th, 
being Cumberland's birthday, permission was given for a halt at 
Nairn. Such rejoicings apparently were anticipated by the rebels, 
who planned a surprise at Nairn. Unluckily they miscalculated 
the time required, and dawn overtaking them, they allowed the 
Royal troops to enjoy in peace their extra royal ration of brandy, 
biscuit and cheese (paid for out of the Duke's pocket), and fell 
back again crestfallen to Culloden Moor. 

A battle was inevitable. Charles Edward had taken up his 
1 Life of Major-General James Wolfe , 1864, p. 81. 


quarters four miles east of Inverness, at the residence of the Lord 
President Forbes, known as Culloden House. His troops were 
spread out on the surrounding moor, five thousand in number, ill- 
fed, weary and anxious. At dawn on the 16th they descried 
Cumberland's force advancing against them on its march to 
Inverness. Charles Edward at once gave orders for his men to 
be drawn up in two lines to receive the enemy. Ill-luck, from the 
first, hung over his banners. He had neglected to place the clan 
Macdonald on the right of his army, a place they had enjoyed, 
they said, in all Scotland's struggles since Bannockburn. As a 
consequence of this slight, the men of that clan were sullen to the 
point of insubordination. 

On his side, Cumberland took every precaution. To diminish 
the terrors of the Highland claymore he had even invented a new 
bayonet exercise. Each soldier, he directed, should thrust not at 
the man immediately opposite him, but at his right-hand neighbour. 
This ingenious drill, whatever its real value, filled the troops with 
still greater confidence in the military capacity of the Duke. Their 
officers must have admired the masterly way in which he formed 
his force into three lines, having cavalry on each wing and two 
pieces of cannon between every two line regiments. He then 
addressed them in a speech to this effect : " If there is any man 
who, from disinclination to the cause or from having relations in 
the rebel army would now prefer to retire I beg him in God's 
name to do so, as I would rather face the Highlanders with 1000 
determined men at my back than have 10,000 with a tithe of 
them lukewarm.*" Small wonder his speech was greeted by the 
men with huzzas and cries of " Flanders ! Flanders ! " When it 
was proposed, it being one o'clock and the enemy making no 
movement, that the troops should dine before the battle, "No, 
no," cried Cumberland, " they will fight all the better on empty 
bellies. Remember what a dessert they got to their dinner at 
Falkirk ! " 

Barrell's regiment was in the first line when the mutual 
cannonade announced the beginning of a memorable action. The | 
rebel marksmanship was very bad ; but the English discharge of 
grape went home with terrible effect, causing the Highlanders to 
fall back in disorder. When they advanced again, flinging away 
their muskets, they were received by Barrell's and Monro's at the 
point of the bayonet. We are told that " the rebels so obstinately 
rushed on death that there was scarce an officer or soldier in 
Barrell's regiment or in that part of Monro's which was engaged 


who did not kill one or two men each with their bayonets or 
spontoons."" ^ But for an account of the battle of Culloden we 
may turn to a letter of Wolfe's to a friend of the Wolfes at 
York, Major Henry Delabene, who had promised to convey the 
news at once to London. 

To Henry Delabene. 

Inverness, April Vjth, 1746. 

Dear Sir, — I have the pleasure to tell you that yesterday 
about one in the afternoon we engaged the Rebel army, and in 
about an hour drove them from the field of battle; they left 
near 1500 dead, the rest (except prisoners) escaped into the 
neighbouring mountains ; the action was three miles short of 
this place on Lord President Forbes' land, and from thence the 
name of the battle of Culloden. I have never seen an action 
so general, nor any victory so complete. The Rebels had posted 
themselves, so they imagined we could neither use cannon nor 
cavalry, but both did essential service. They waited till we 
came near enough to fire cannon on them, and were greatly 
surprised and disordered at it, and finding their mistake, they 
charged upon our front line in thick solid bodies, throwing down 
their arms without exploding them, and advancing furiously 
with their drawn swords. You must understand before the 
cannonading they were (I mean the clans) in a very extended 
thick line, with their right to some houses and a wall on their 
left, and centre were supported in their rear by the Lowlanders 
and some few horse. Four pieces of cannon were in their front, 
! which they often fired, but with little effect. The Duke's army 
had at the beginning six battalions in the first line, commanded 
by General Albemarle, and Lord Semple ; as many in the second 
under General Husk, and three regiments formed a third line of 
reserve, commanded by Brigadier Mordaunt ; Cobham's Dragoons 
and two squadrons of Mark Ker's were on the left of the front 
line, where the ground was firmest ; the other squadron and one 
of Kingston's Horse were on the right, and two pieces of can- 
Inon in equal intervals between the battalions of the first line. 
And a little after the Rebels begun their attack, the Duke 
observed they intended to extend their line beyond his right by 
breaking to the left from their centre, and instantly ordered 
Pulteney's from the reserve and form on the right of his first 
line, and brought the rest of that Corps towards the right of his 
^ Bigg's Military History. 


second line to strengthen that wing ; these movements obliged 
them to attack his front. The front line of the Rebel's near 
approach begun a most violent fire, which continued 8 or 9 
minutes, and kilPd so many of their best men that they could 
only penetrate into our Battalion ; that on the left of the line 
was BarrelPs regiment ; they were attacked by the Camerons (the 
bravest clan amongst them), and 'twas for some time a dispute 
between the swords and bayonets ; but the latter was found by 
far the most destructable weapon. The Regiment behaved with 
uncommon resolution, killing some say almost their own number, 
whereas 40 of them were only wounded, and those not mortally, 
and not above ten kilPd ; they were, however, surrounded by 
superiority, and would have been all destroyed had not Col. 
Martin with his Regiment (the left of the 2nd line of Foot) 
mov'd forward to their assistance, prevented mischief, and by a 
well-timed fire destroyed a great number of them and obliged 
them to run off. 

General Hawley, who commanded the five squadrons of 
Dragoons on the left, had, by the assistance of 150 Argyleshire, 
thrown down two stone walls, and was (when the fire of the 
Foot began) posted with his Dragoons opposite to the extremity 
of the enemy's right wing, and as soon as the Rebels began to 
give way and the fire of the Foot slacken'd, he ordered Genl 
Bland to charge the rest of them with three squadrons, and 
Cobham to support him with the two. It was done with won- 
derful spirit and completed the victory with great slaughter. 
We have taken 22 pieces of brass cannon or near it, a number 
of colours, and near 700 prisoners, amongst which are all the 
Irish picquets, most of the remainder of Fitz James's Horse, 
and a part of Drummond's Regiment, great quantity of powder, 
muskets, bayonets, broadswords, and plads innumerable. All the 
troops acquitted themselves as troops worthy the command of a 
great and gallant General, and no individual corps has been 
wanting in their duty. 

The Rebels, besides their natural inclinations, had orders not 
to give quarter to our men. We had an opportunity of aveng- 
ing ourselves for that and many other things, and indeed we did 
not neglect it, as few Highlanders were made prisoners as possible. 
Lord Kilmarnock is one, and Brigr Stapleton, with some others 
you have a list of. The enemy, by their own order of battle, 
had 8300 men in the field, and our utmost was 7200. Our 
loss is inconsiderable. Poor Col. Rich had his left hand quite 


cut off, and a very bad cut in his right elbow, and six in his 
head, one or two very bad ones. Lord Robert Ker was kilPd 
fighting against numbers. Rimon, Edmunds, Hillary, Campbell 
and Brown are wounded ; the last of them obstinately defending 
one of the colours that was knocked to the ground, but not 
carried off. Twenty-one old soldiers kilPd and wounded by 
your former company. The Rebels are much dispersed, and it is 
supposed will never be able to collect a body again. The Pre- 
tender was in their rear, but soon quitted the field. You must 
observe it blew and rain'd very hard almost all the time we 
marched from our camp at Nairn, till just as the battle began. 
It then became fair, and continued so all the remainder of the 
day. You must also take notice that the Rebels were, the night 
before the action, within four miles of our camp, intending 
to have surpris'^d and attacked us in the dark ; but an unforseen 
accident and a good deal of circumspection prevented them. 
This and other lucky circumstances must make every discerning 
man observe whence "'tis that success can only be expected. We 
wanted to have fought the 15th, his Royal Highnesses birthday, 
but his charity for the men after many marches prevented it. 


J. Wolfe. 

PS. — I forgot to tell you that the whole loss of the King's 
troops together was about 20 officers and 300 men kilPd and 
wounded ; so you may see what a share your old Regiment had 
in it. I likewise forgot to mention the cavalry of the right, 
who were, I should have said, employed in pursuing and destroying 
the broken Rebels.^ 

" Culloden," says Mr. Bradley, " changed the fate of Britain in 

a few moments, just as Quebec changed the fate of the British 

Empire." Yet, although the victory was decisive enough, a 

fj different result might have been looked for had the Prince Charles 

;| Edward chosen his ground elsewhere. Nor did the victors by any 

f; means acquit themselves without blunders which against another 

foe might have cost them the battle. Indeed, Wolfe himself hints 

darkly at all this in a letter written years afterwards, when, on 

service in Scotland, he revisited CuUoden battlefield, a letter which 

will be given in its proper sequence, p . *5 <. - 7 

^ The original of this letter belonged to the Rev. C. B. Norcliffe, of Langton 
Hall, Maltou. 


On the same day Wolfe wrote the following and dispatched it 
to his uncle Sotheron. 

To William Sotheeon. 

Inverness^ April 17^ 1746. 

Dear Sir, — I have the pleasure to tell you that yesterday, 
about one in the afternoon, the Duke engaged with the rebel 
army, and in about an hour drove them from the field of battle, 
where they left nearly 1500 dead ; the rest, except prisoners, 
escaped by the neighbourhood of the hills. The action was 
three miles short of this place, on Lord President Forbes' ^ land, 
from whence it takes its name, the battle of Culloden. 

The rebels had posted themselves on a high boggy moor, 
where they imagined our cannon and cavalry would be useless ; 
but both did useful service. The cannon in particular made 
them very uneasy, and after firing a quarter of an hour obliged 
them to change their situation and move forward some hundred 
yards to attack our front line of Foot, which they did with more 
fury than prudence, throwing down their firearms, and advancing 
with their drawn swords. They were however repulsed and 
ran off with the greatest precipitation, and the dragoons falling 
in amongst them completed the victory with much slaughter. 
We have taken about twenty pieces of cannon in the field, and 
near it a number of colours, and I believe seven hundred 
prisoners, amongst which were all the Irish piquets, most of the 
remainder of Fitz-James's horse, and some of Drummond's 
regiment ; great quantity of powder, ball, muskets, bayonets, 
broadswords, etc; plaids innumerable. 

The troops behaved themselves as they ought to do, and no 
regiment was wanting in their duty. The enemy by their own 
order of battle had 8300 men in the field, and the utmost of 
our number was 7200, of which we had about twenty officers 
and three hundred men killed and wounded. Barrell's regiment 
suffered particularly, having out of three hundred and fifty 
had one hundred and twenty officers and men killed and 
wounded, fighting in a most obstinate manner against 
the Camerons, the best clan in the Highlands. Orders were 
publicly given in the rebel army, the day before the action, that 
no quarter should be given to our troops. We had an 
opportunity of avenging ourselves, and I assure you as few 
prisoners were taken of the Highlanders as possible. 

1 Duncan Forbes, whose son was in the Army in Flanders. 


You must observe that it blew and rained very hard almost 
from the time we marched from our camp at Nairn, till just the 
battle began, when it became fair and continued so the remainder 
of the day. Another thing you must take notice of, that the 
rebels were the night before the action within three miles of our 
camp, intending to surprise and attack us in the dark ; but some 
unforseen accident, together with a great deal of superstition, 
turned them back. These circumstances with many others I 
could name, will make every discerning man observe from whence 
only our success can proceed. I heartily wish you joy of the 
happy end of so horrid an undertaking. And may they every 
be punished in the same manner who attempt the like ! I am, 
dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

An anecdote is narrated (on the authority of Sir Henry Stuart 

AUanton) that riding over the battlefield, the Duke of Cumberland 

observed a wounded rebel smiling defiance at him. Turning to 

Major Wolfe at his side he said: " Wolfe, shoot me that Highland 

scoundrel who dares look on us with such contempt and insolence ! "" 

Whereupon the young aide-de-camp replied : " My commission is at 

your Royal Highnesses disposal, but I never can consent to become 

an executioner."*' ^ 

1^ f 1^ 'S \ The bloodthirsty injunction is much more in keeping with the 

/ character of Hawley than of Cumberland, but the retort, what- 

»t fciJ»uc^C. / ever its verity, by no means clashes with our notions of the young 

officer'^s independence. 

^ Anti-Jacobin Review, vol. xiii. p. 126. 


CuLLODEN proved effectually the death-blow to Jacobite 
aspirations. On the one hand we see a hunted fugitive, Charles 
Edward, with a price set on his head ; on the other his victorious 
cousin, the Duke of Cumberland, taking up his quarters after the 
battle at Culloden House whence he dispatched his aide-de-camp. 
Lord Bury, to London post-haste with news of the triumph. ^ 

Slower than the wings of rumour (for he had taken nine days). 
Bury found the people of the capital already in an ecstasy of 
rejoicing. The Duke was hailed as the deliverer of the nation, 
and Parliament voted him .^'SSjOOO a year for life. Cumberland 
himself remained with the army in the neighbourhood of Fort 
Augustus until July 18, engaged in those severely repressive 
measures which have earned him the eternal opprobrium of 
Jacobite writers. He certainly carried fire and sword ruthlessly 
through the disaffected districts, resolved that as far as he could help 
there should be no repetition of the affairs '15, '45. But it was not 
all bloodthirstiness in the camp about ruined Fort Augustus. Horses 
and ponies were taken from the rebels, and so plentiful that every 
private could own his steed, besides oxen, sheep and goats. The 
Duke condescended to patronize horse races, in one of which 
" Hangman " Hawley was declared " a winner by about four 

Brevet-Major Wolfe was kept very busy while at Inverness. 

At Forfar was stationed Cobham's Dragoons in charge of 
Captain Charles Hamilton, with whom Wolfe had consider- 
able official correspondence, which illustrates the unpleasant 
character of the work in hand. 

* " My friend Lord Bury arrived this morning from the Duke, though the 
news was got here before him, for mth all our victory it was not thought safe 
to send him through the heart of Scotland ; so he was shipped at Inverness 
within an hour after the Duke entered the town. Kept beating about at sea 
five days and then put on shore at North Berwick from whence he came post 
in less than three days to London, but with a fever upon him. The King has 
immediately ordered him £1000 and I hear will make him his own aide-de- 
camp." — Walpole to Mann, April 25, 1746. 
P 2 67 


To Captain Hamilton. 

Inverness, May l^th, 1746. 

Sir, — I am ordered by General Hawley to acquaint you that 
he has shown your letter to his Royal Highness, who approves 
of everything you have done, and desires you will continue that 
assiduity in apprehending such as have been in open rebellion 
or are known abettors, and that you will be carefuU to collect all 
proffs and accusations against them, and deliver them to Major 
Chaban, and let the Major know from General Hawley that he 
is to receive and keep together all such accusations as shall be 
sent him from you, or any other officer under his command, that 
they may be more conveniently had when called for. You know 
the manner of treating the houses and possessions of rebels in 
this part of the country. The same freedom is to be used where 
you are as has been hitherto practised, that is seeking for them 
and their arms, cattle, and other things that are usually found. 
These that have submitted to his Royal Highness' Proclamation 
are to be treated as you have mentioned. The list is to be kept 
and their arms are to be taken from them. 

I am, Sir, your most obedient Servant, 

J. Wolfe, Aide-de-Camp to General Hawley. 

PS. — You will be so good to show Major Chaban what 
concerns him in this letter, and also what relates to the posses- 
sions of the rebels, that he and the officers under his command 
may make a proper use of it.^ 

To Captain Hamilton. 

Sir, — The General has shown your letter to his Royal 
Highness, and both approve your conduct. You are permitted 
to graze your troop in that neighbourhood, for the reasons you 
assign as the most effectual means of doing your duty. Major 
Chaban must be acquainted with the General's intentions in that 
respect ; and you are likewise to let him know that he and the 
rest of the regiment have no right to claim any share of seizures 
made by your troop when in separate quarters. 

The General is satisfied with what you have done in regard to 
the meeting house, and the money may be applied as you think 
proper. Young Fletcher's effects are to be secured, but not dis- 
posed of till further orders. If you think the attestation of 

1 I owe a knowledge of these letters to Mr. Charles Dalton, editor of the 
English Army Lists, 


Mr. Watson's ^ wan-ant a sufficient proof of his having acted in 
treasonable manner, you are to make yourself master of his 
person, and confine him at Montrose with the rest. 
I am. Sir, your most obedient humble Servant, 

James Wolfe, Aid-de-Camp to General Hawley. 

Fort-Augustus, June \lth, 1746. 

To Captain Hamilton. 

Sir, — General Hawley acquainted the Duke with the purport 
of your letter, who w^as very well satisfied with your conduct, and 
you have leave to dispose of the effects of Brown and Watson, 
but nothing further is to be done in Fletcher's affairs. 

The General bid me tell you that when any seizures were 
made of cattle or otherwise in this part of the world, the com- 
manding-officer and every person concerned have shares in 
proportion to your pay. You mention Mr. Doway to me as a 
person to be recommended, but at the same time say you have 
very little knowledge of him ; as I have much less, and no more 
interest here than you have, I think if you have found him 
serviceable to you, w ill not neglect an occasion of rewarding him, 
as it is not known when the troops will move from hence, or 
what road General Hawley will go. I'm sorry to let you know 
it's impossible for me to appoint any place for your seeing him. 
I am, Sir, your most obedient humble Servant, 

J. Wolfe, Aid-de-Camp to General Hawley. 

(On the letter is written : " This letter was brought me from 
Fort- Augustus by Baillie Doway on Tuesday 22nd July, 1746.) 

With Cumberland's departure the Royal army began to melt 
away. Wolfe's, Pulteney's and other regiments accompanied him 
to Flanders, where a new campaign was beginning. Others were 
dispatched to Stirling and other Scottish localities. Major Wolfe 
remained behind, being sent w4th a company to reconstruct the 
little fort of Inversnaid, situate between Lochs Lomond and Katrine, 
which had been wrecked by the insurgents. Here he remained 
until late in November 1746, when he received orders to rejoin his 
regiment on the Continent in six weeks' time, with a prospect of 
further fighting. The interval would enable the brevet-major, 
who was just completing his twentieth year, to pass the Christmas 
holidays with his parents in London. 

^ David Watson^ afterwards Quartermaster-General in Scotland. 


We still may see, on the east side of Old Burlington Street, 
scarce a stone's throw from the rear of Burlington House, 
Piccadilly, the town house of the Wolfes. It is one of several 
plain-fronted, substantial brick mansions built about the very time 
that James Wolfe was born.^ Here the old General, now some- 
what recovered from the effects of his active service in the North, 
and his lady, greeted their son on his return to London in the last 
month of the year 1746. 

After the first warmth of the greeting had passed away, and 
James began to lay before his sire his plans for a Continental out- 
fit, he found the General in a fit of economy and by no means the 
best of tempers. The Government, he complained, had plenty of 
money for the Queen of Hungary, and the Duke of Cumberland, and 
for every petty German Prince who chose to ask it, but not enough 
to pay its own soldiers. His own salary as Inspector of Marines 
was three years in arrears. He told James he had memorialized 
the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, under whose direction 
he had held office. Their lordships had referred him to Pelham, 
First Lord of the Treasury, who referred him to the Secretary at 
War, who referred him back to the First Lord of the Treasury. 
The General had a horror, he said, of being regarded as a dun, but 
he seems on the whole to have been a very good business man, or 
Mrs. Wolfe was a very good business woman, and he ultimately 
received whatever was owing him. We will have occasion in the 
sequel of this narrative to see Mrs. Wolfe petitioning with great 
persistency the ruling powers in order to obtain her celebrated son'*s 
back pay and the result of such petitioning. James's income at 

1 Mr. H. B. Wheatley, the topographer, writes me : '^ When Burlington 
House was first built the gardens extended to the end of what afterwards 
became Savile Row, as may be seen from Kip's view of the house and gardens, 
but when the third Earl rebuilt the house he cut off the gardens where the 
thoroughfare called Burlington Gardens now exists, and by virtue of an Act 
of Parliament (1717-18) laid out the ground known as Ten Acres Field in 
building plots. 

*' Queensberry House, on the site of Uxbridge House (now the Bank of 
England), was one of the first buildings (1721). It is probable that the 
gardens were cut off before this, because Vigo Street ran on to Bond Street 
and was known as Vigo Lane. As the Battle of Vigo was fought in 1702, the 
name must have been given when the victory was fresh in public memory. 

" Old Burlington Street was called No well Street in 1729, but in 1733 had 
become Great Burlington Street — New Burlington Street was originally Little 
Burlington Street. Burlington House always fronted Piccadilly (with a 
large forecourt and wall). I remember the old gardens at the back which 
extended to Burlington Gardens." The Wolfe mansion might well be indi- 
cated by a Tablet, as a place of historic interest. 

From the portrait hy Thornhill, in the possession of Beetles Willson, Esq., Westerham 


present was hardly equal to fitting him out for the Netherlands, 
and his usually liberal father told him flatly, what he wrote to 
the Duke of Bedford, that in consequence of his Inspector- 
Generalship of Marines he " was in a worse position than any man 
who had the honour of having a regiment in His Majesty's service."" ^ 
But this was probably in a manner of speaking. Wolfe got all he 
needed, and after some weeks in to^vn sailed with his regiment for 
Holland early in January 1747. 

To HIS Father. 

Camp near Breda, Feb. 15, 1747. 
Dear Sir, — There is such a dearth at present of everything 
new and entertaining, it seems no easy task to fill a letter ; at 
least to give it such a turn as may please. We military men, 
don't accustom ourselves to moral topics, or seldom entertain one 
another with subjects which are out of the common role, from the 
frequent occasion we have to mention our own affairs, which, in 
time of war, are of no small extent and concern. Possibly our 
manner of writing may proceed in some measure from diffidence 
and modesty, as not caring to attempt things, that we are 
sensible have been better touched upon, and rather choose to be 
confined to that particular branch of knowledge with which we 
are supposed to be well acquainted. Nine-tenths of the letters 
from hence, I am persuaded, are filled with observations from 
what occurs in the army in general, or in the particular battalion 
to which the writer belongs. I know or at least guess by 
myself, how much every man's attention is taken up with the 
things about him ; and the use of thinking constantly on the 
same matter weighs greatly with the mind, and in time becomes 
its first principle, so that setting aside a man's modesty and his 
diffidence, he has little else to talk of. I am led into this 
observation by a discourse at Gen. Howard's an hour ago, of 
the difficulty some people there said they were under for want of 
sufficient variety of occurrences to fill up their paper ; and so 
put off testifying their love to their friends till next post. Now, 
I was secure, certain, that you could expect nothing very extra- 
ordinary or amusing in the way we are in, and that your good 
nature and friendship would have been satisfied, to have known 
your son in health, and to have had a mark of his respect and 

* Bedford Correspondence, vol. i. p. 123 ; Wright, p. 96. 


affection for his parents expressed in ever so few lines. I heartily 
wish you health, and am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 
My love to my mother. 

The British section of the Allies assembled near Maestricht 
numbered all told 8000 English, 18,000 Hanoverians, and 6000 
Hessians. These were under the Duke of Cumberland, who was 
also given supreme command of the entire forces, including 
Austrians, Dutch and Bavarians numbering 126,000 men. 

Our hero occupied the leisure which the commander's tardiness 
afforded him to carry on a lively correspondence with a young lady 
then resident in Brussels. 

To Miss Lacey, 

Camp of Bonvel, May 21, 1747. 

Dear Miss Lacey, — If it is necessary to be convinced of 
your good sense, I would desire you to write and nobody would 
doubt it. But as I have been long assured of it, I should be 
greatly deficient if I did not admire its effects, so I think you 
may observe it which ever way you converse with me you have 
the means of pleasing. 

I was doing the greatest injustice to the dear girls, your 
friends to admit the least doubt of their constancy, I mean to 
your person ; perhaps with respect to ourselves there may be 
cause of complaint. Carleton I'm afraid is a recent example of 
it. Madam Sawyer has seen variety, is generally admired, and 
consequently unique. The other young one might admit of an 
impression at first, but a few more years maternal instruction 
will divest her of any inclination to unnecessary attachment. 

Yoiu* time must pass agreeably ; nothing from us has yet 
given occasion to prevent it nor do I see any immediate proba- 
bility of a change in our situation. We are here the guardians 
of the Republic, and since their reformation, I begin to think 
them worth our care. 

I hope you have found a sufficient number of men to be of 
your parties. That "M. Gravesend""^ supports his credit I cannot 
doubt, or as I may now properly say, has resumed his tyranny. 
Your spirit, I think, will never submit to such a sway, how great 

^ A jocose nickname for one of the English officers. 


soever may be the scarcity ; if you are moved the object will 
have merit. This letter you will be so good to direct, and let it be 
sent to the embroiderer ; If you think my manner of correcting 
too harsh, it is left for you to soften ; sure they must be dense 
if my French is useless, unless it could be in the least thought 
otherwise by you. Thafs an acquisition you have at heart, 
and as you are now placed to advantage in that particular, 
you certainly won't neglect. I'm your old friend's faithful 
adherent still, and could hear her talk with pleasiu-e ; tho' the 
tale is long, 'tis harmonious from her tongue. 

Mrs. Lee I fancy contributes to soften the Dutch dialect and 
make rugged seem smooth, at least if I don't mistake her 
character. The Captain is perhaps one amongst us the most to 
be envied, within reach of his wishes, and not subject to accidents 
that might be the consequence of a bold excursion to the Basch 
from one of us. 'Tis dangerous riding backwards and forwards 
if a man is not master of his time. 

My neighbour Bernard has great pleasure in knowing you 
are well ; he speaks of you with esteem and affection, and bids me 
be careful to make you his compliments. I heartily make mine 
to your friends, and am, dear Miss, most sincerely your friend 
and admirer 

J. Wolfe. 

His fair correspondent was of Irish birth, the daughter of 
General Lacey in the Austrian service, himself related to the 
Russian Field Marshal Count Lacey. A little harmless flirtation 
of this kind doubtless helped to make the time pass agreeably: 
and we may acquit Wolfe of having any serious designs on the 
lady's heart. 

To Miss Lacey. 

Camp of Westerloo, June l\th, N.S., 1747. 
Dear Miss Lacey, — As I have showed great impatience to 
procure my coat, I conceive how great yours must be to hear I 
have got it. With that consideration and the great pleasure of 
seizing the first opportunity to speak my gratitude and return a 
thousand thanks, I put this into your father's hands for a 
quicker and surer conveyance, and am, I assure you, infinitely 
obliged to you. Though it comes late 'tis not less necessary ; 
one strong reason is to convince any amongst us that no views 


of preferment shall ever alter my observance of superior duty 
nor the expense (however unreasonable) shall ever prevent my 
conforming. I take the liberty to enclose another letter to 
M. Lebrun in which he may easily observe my sentiments ; you 
will judge of them equity, by the past of his conduct which 
relates to you.^ 

Your affection for your father (one amongst the many 
estimable points of your character) makes you see dangers at too 
great a distance, and you too readily admit fears which to 
me appear groundless. I may be wrong in my conjectures, but, 
unless the French attempt Maestricht or pretend to act offen- 
sively, I think this campaign will not be less inactive than the 
preceeding ones. The implacable enemy may however depend 
on their former success and use it as a motive to new enterprises ; 
in that case, be assured, that nothing a fine army can undertake 
in their defence will be wanting for their preservation. 

You have left me in a doubt that is hurtful to my repose. 
Sure it must never happen that a soldier can be unhappy in his 
love ; if so, what reward for great and glorious undertakings, or 
what relief from despair ? Can we be forgot in the midst of 
danger and fatigue ? But worse than this, shall I live to see 
an inhabitant of the bush succeed to my place and triumph in 
the frailty of my country-woman ? Explain that part as you 
think me safe, or deny a thought on*'t. 

I have been a fortnight detached from the army. Our 
situation has been agreeable and might have been honourable, 
would the enemy have waited our attempts ; but their idleness 
has denied us the pleasure of conquest. I speak rather positively 
on this subject, but when I speak of war, I'm sensible, tho' a 
soldier, that there is One who directs. 

I write this in a moment of reflection ; you'll pardon the 
style, 'tis unusual and has not in it that turn of gaiety that 
would perhaps be more pleasing to you ; but 'tis nevertheless of 
the sort you must sometimes expect in your conversation with 
men, particularly those whose situation should make them often 
subject to serious hours. I'm glad to catch myself in such a dis- 
position and think it the beginning of reform. My wishes are 
never wanting for your health and happiness of you and your 

^ This is all pure raillery. Lebrun was the embroiderer in whose hands 
was the splendid scarlet officer's coat whose elaboration Miss Lac y had 
volunteered to superintend. 


pretty friends. I'll say it to my praise that no man has a 
greater consideration for the sex than, 

Your obedient humble servant, 

J. W. 

I have directed the fellow to embroider but one waistcoat. 

It will be recalled that at the close of the last campaign the 
French had overrun the Netherlands, largely owing to their greater 
and earlier activity. Cumberland was in consequence seized with 
a fit of imprudent enterprise. It is ever unwise for a general 
to start operations before he is ready. After marching towards 
Antwerp, Cumberland was obliged to lie many weeks in idle- 
ness because he was without siege guns and forage wagons. The 
weather bitterly assailed the unfortunate troops who hung about 
a spot ten miles from Breda waiting for the completion of simple 
arrangements which should have been settled before they had 
marched a step. Yet exposure and privation could have been 
borne with greater fortitude than the derision of the French, who 
had a larger army, well fed, well housed, and well placed. 

Cumberland, eventually in a fit state to march, seeing Saxe 
in movement and believing he intended to besiege Maestricht, 
set forward to intercept him. On June 19 the British reached 
Laffeldt, a hamlet three miles west of Maestricht and the key of the 
enemy''s position. Here they encountered the French infantry on 
the morning of the 21st, the Irish brigade leading. Then ensued 
a desperate struggle. Again and yet again was the hamlet taken 
and retaken. As fast as Pulteney's and Crawford'*s and the other 
British regiments hurled back the foe, other brigades came 
pouring in. The slaughter was dreadful. Our brigade-major, ^vjir^t 
wounded, continued to fight gallantly. At last, after the fifth /,. ;^" 
attempt, overwhelming numbers pushed aside the exhausted 
British and occupied Laffeldt, an empty advantage. 

Meanwhile, Cumberland ordered an advance of the Dutch and 
Austrians, as a measure of relief to the overworked infantrymen. 
In their centre was a body of Dutch cavalry, to whom was given 
at a critical moment the order to charge. But instead of facing 
the exulting enemy, the cavalry was seized with panic, and, 
turning, fled. 

In vain Cumberland tried to rally the retreating Dutch — the 
entire centre began to give way, and the Allied army was cut 
in two. A precipitate retreat upon Maestricht followed, which 


might have developed into a panic-stricken flight, but for the 
prompt and gallant action of Sir John Ligonier. This officer, 
with some British and Austrian cavalry, charged boldly on the 

French, well knowing they would be cut to pieces, but checking 
in the meantime the onset of the foe. Hundreds of splendid 
fellows and their horses, especially of the Scots Greys, were anni- 


hilated, but time thereby was gained for the infantry. Ligonier 
himself, horseless, was captured by a lucky French carabineer. The 
cost to the Allies of this day's fighting was 5680 in killed and 
wounded. Amongst the latter was Wolfe, who had received a ball 
in the body in the height of the action. Never had he fought with 
greater zeal and courage : not losing control of his brigade for a 
single moment. He was several times in great danger through the 
fight, so much so that his faithful servant, Roland, became alarmed 
for his safety. "He came to me," wrote Wolfe, long afterwards, "at 
the hazard of his life in the last action with ofl^ers of his service, 
took off my cloak and brought a fresh horse; and would have 
continued close by me had I not ordered him to retire. I believe 
he was slightly wounded just at that time, and the horse he held 
was shot likewise. . . . Many a time has he pitched my tent and 
made the bed ready to receive me, half-dead with fatigue ; and 
this I owe to his diligence."" ^ For his behaviour on the field that ' 
day Wolfe received the formal thanks of the Commander-in-Chief. 
Henceforward, he was truly a marked man. ' 

The battle of LafFeldt was without any useful result, except 
to confirm the Allies in the possession of Maestricht. Having 
reinforced the garrison of the town so coveted by the French, 
Cumberland crossed the Meuse into the duchy of Limburg, and 
there encamped. As for his opponent, despairing of taking 
Maestricht that season, Saxe burned his magazines about the 
close of August and decamped. Both armies retired into winter 
quarters in November, twenty transports landing five regiments 
of foot at Gravesend on the 16th of that month. 

After being nursed in field hospital a few days for his wound 
Wolfe reached home about the same time as the Duke of Cumber- 
land and Sir John Ligonier, the latter having gained his freedom 
by exchange. Our hero celebrated his coming of age at the house 
in Old Burlington Street. 

Here he saw much of good society. Not only did his parents 
have the entree into many influential circles, but being himself, 
yoimg, ardent, of a convivial temper, fond of ladies'* society, it is 
not wonderful that he should have been regarded as a hero in many 
eyes. Thus far, however, he had not expressed more than a passing 
preference for any of the fair enchantresses he had met. 

Besides Miss Warde, Miss Lacey and others to whom he 
pays tribute in his letters, there came upon the scene this winter, 
Miss Elizabeth Lawson, eldest daughter of Sir Wilfrid Lawson, of 
1 See Letter postj p. 154. 


Isel. This young lady was one of the maids of honour to the 
Princess of Wales. Her mother was Elizabeth Lucy Mordaunt, 
niece of Charles, third Earl of Peterborough, a lady whom the 
malicious gossips of the town credited with what we, in modern 
times, have come to denominate tout courts a past. Whatever 
may have been the truth of such slanders (and very few of the 
court ladies were exempt from such in George II's day), they did 
not prevent the lady's daughter from being a favourite of her 
royal mistress. Wolfe was attracted to Miss Lawson from the 
first, and the more he saw of her the more her charms grew upon 
him. Her uncle. General Sir John Mordaunt, was an old friend 
of his father's, and himself took a deep interest in the young 

At this time it was not certain whether the Continent was to 
offer a further field for active service or not. Both sides were 
weary of a conflict which had already lasted six years. In the spring 
of 1748, international plenipotentiaries met at Aix-la-Chapelle. 
Notwithstanding these negotiations for peace the military com- 
manders on both sides resolved to keep things moving with vigour. 
The Congress opened on March 11, and a week or so later 
Wolfe was ordered to join a detachment of German troops in the 
vicinity of Breda. He, therefore, took leave of his parents and 
London friends, and set sail from Harwich, crossed over to Flushing, 
and made his way to Osterhout. Here he found that the Duke 
of Cumberland's illness, and Marshal Saxe's superior strategy, were 
having their effect upon the army of the Allies. He writes thus in a 
letter to his father — 

To HIS Fathee. 

Osterhout, April 12, N.S., 1748. 

Dear Sir, — General Fowke is left here with four regiments 
of Foot, and eight pieces of cannon, to assist in defending this 
part of Holland. The troops are cantoned in the village, two 
leagues from Breda and one from Gertruidenberg, and wait the 
orders of him who is appointed to lead the army here ; 'tis at 
present the Prince of Wolfenbuttel, but we are apprehensive of 
losing him. 

As a Major of Brigade, and the first of that rank, I am 
here, though I took some pains to avoid it. The corps that 
I hear is intended to assemble in this quarter will be of thirty- 
five or forty battalions and some squadrons, unless the enemy's 


present undertaking should require them upon the Maese. I 
hear Maestricht is invested. Marshal Lowendahl passed the 
Maese with some troops at Namur, was joined by those that 
wintered in Louvain, marched through a country that is almost 
impassible in the finest seasons, seized Limbourg, and is, we are 
told, on the other side of the river, where our army lay the 
greatest part of last campaign ; while M. de Saxe moves with 
the larger part of the French army, and invests Maestricht on 
this side. If so, the body of Austrians there will be inferior 
to either of these corps, and will certainly retire, or rather has 
retired, and leave the unhappy fortress to its garrison and a 
Dutch commander. I am much at a loss to know whether 
that place is thought of such worth as to risk a battle with 
disadvantage, especially in numbers ; though the situation is 
such that a fortunate stroke might be the total ruin of the 
besieging army, from the extreme breadth of the Maese, and 
difficulty of retiring with a beaten army over a bridge or two. 
But if in two or three days these regiments should move, I shall 
think the attempt a thing determined, and be out of doubt as to 
our destination. 

The Prince of Orange is expected here soon. Marshal 
Bathiany is laid up with the gout (and in an evil hour) at 
Bois-le-Duc. H.R.H. has been ill again at Venlo, but is some- 
thing better, and perhaps gone to Roremonde ; the greatest 
part of the army is in full march to that place. Neither the 
English regiments to the north, nor that expected from the 
river, are yet arrived, though never so much wanted as at this 
unlucky time. 

I am preparing to tell you the purport of a conversation 
with Colonel Yorke, the then Adjutant-General, to whom I 
addressed myself on being ordered to remain here. He said 
some civil things in relation to having a person with these 
people that was acquainted with this country, and the customs 
of the army ; and proceeded to tell me that the Duke, in dis- 
course with him, had expressed great concern at not having it in 
his power to serve me, but that his intention was just, and he 
would take an opportunity soon of making it appear. And 
Yorke, as a secret, told me H.R.H. intended that Field should 
succeed Cossley, and that he would give me the Major's com- 
mission of Bragg's regiment for nothing, and (as he was pleased 
to say) in order to my being Lieutenant-Colonel to it, for 
Jocelyn is dying. Cossley, you know, is to go out with a 


government, and the sale of his company only. If this be 
true, you will make the proper reflections on it, and think me 
not much hurt. I'm sure the thing is yet far off*, possibly may 
fail as heretofore ; but with sincerity I assure you, I am out of 
the reach of disappointment. I heartily wish you both well. 
I writ to my uncle Wat from Harwich, and foretold the siege 
of Maestricht. He will be astonished at their early proceeding, 
and equally displeased with us. My duty to my mother. 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

I have bought Jemmy Streton a horse and he has writ to the 
Captain to pay £1 to my banker or agent. 

Wolfe's references in the foregoing to the Duke of Cumberland 
show that he still retained the good graces of the Commander-in- 
Chief. Indeed, it is much to Cumberland's credit that he, from 
the first, detected the merits of the young officer. Wolfe's duties 
with the foreign corps were very arduous. Existing documents 
show that he was given control of the commissariat of that detach- 
ment, corresponded with bread and beef contractors, and issued 
orders for forage. In whatever capacity he was employed he 
evinced his thoroughness. He could be relied upon, and that was 
probably more than could be said of nine-tenths of the young 
officers of that day. 

Daily some issue was expected from the Congress at Aix-la- 
Chapelle, to which Lord Sandwich had been dispatched as plenipo- 
tentiary. The Duke of Newcastle, the leader of the war party at 
home, had himself nominated Sandwich for this post, and the two 
shortly afterwards met in Flanders. 

Wolfe writes about the middle of April — 

To HIS Father. 

Vjth April, 1748. 

Dear Sir, — The Duke of Newcastle and Lord Sandwich are 
expected at the army in a few days ; they will see the sight, and 
go off. . . . The Imperialists march to-morrow towards Rure- 
monde. The neighbourhood of Bois-le-Duc cannot furnish to an 
army without money. These troops must receive great assistance 
from the country about them. The conferences at Aix are rather 
languid ; the warlike spirit conceives favourably, from the interest 
or intrigue perhaps of some mischievous particular, who may 


retard the general good, and keep the world in arms. Sincerely 
I believe you'll think I'm crazy in the brain. In one letter I tell 
you all is at an end, and in the next that things have a fairer 
face. I'm sorry to say that my writings are greatly influenced 
by the state of my body or mind at the time of writing ; and Fm 
either happy or ruined by my last night's rest, or from sunshine, 
or light and sickly air : such infirmity is the mortal frame sub- 
ject to. I thank you for the part you are so ready to act in my 
behalf. Your officers are all well, and free from complaint, as 
from any cause. 

Marshal Saxe having invested Maestricht, drove the Austrians 
back to Ruremond, with the loss of their stores and powder. But 
the combined Dutch and English, lacking the reinforcements of 
the Russians, who had not yet arrived, were too weak to do very 
much to prevent the fall of the fortress. When it fell, Holland 
would be invaded. In these circumstances, the British Government 
were only too ready to accept the terms of peace which France 
offered at the Congress. So, while the ministers of the other 
Powers declined to join, late at night on the 30th of April, N.S.,; 
the English, Dutch and French plenipotentiaries set their names to f 
the Treaty of Peace. 

But while the negotiations were going on, the enemy had 
approached close to the beleaguered city, which they attacked and 
carried the covered way, with the loss of 900 grenadiers. Their 
triumph was brief, however, for Baron D'Aylva, the Governor of 
Maestricht, sallied forth and put them to flight with heavy loss. 
All doubt about the result was cut short by the news of the sign- 
ing of the Treaty of Peace, and orders for hostilities to cease. 
Cumberland, whose military reputation had hardly been increased 
by this campaign, dispatched an officer to Baron D'Aylva, in- 
structing him to turn over the fortress to Marshal Saxe until the 
ratification of the Treaty. In consequence of this, the garrison 
marched out with all the honours of war on the 3rd of May. 

Thus terminated, as far as Britain was concerned, the War 
of the Austrian Succession. It was an extraordinary contest : 
England and France had begun as mere allies of the two powers, 
Austria and Prussia, and ended by being the principals. But 
what had been gained ? All conquests were to be restored, even 
that of Louisburg. There was no stipulation regarding the first 
cause of the war, the commercial claims of England upon Spain, 
and there was a general consciousness that France had the best 


of it, and was only restrained by the present state of her navy 
and her exchequer. This consciousness was quickened when it 
became known that two noble hostages were to be sent to France 
to guarantee the restitution of Louisburg. It gave British 
pride a sad shock. By no one was it more deplored than by our 
hero, who little expected when he cried out against giving back 
Cape Breton and Louisburg, that fate had reserved to him a 
chief share in the task of reclaiming the one for the Empire and 
blotting the other, one day, from the face of the earth. 

"Never, perhaps,"" remarks Stanhope, "did any conflict, after so 
many great events and so large a loss of blood and treasure, end in 
replacing the nations engaged in it so nearly in the same situation 
as they were at first." ^ 

All through that summer of 1748 both armies rested in their 
respective camps. It was then, being assured that no active service 
was imminent for some time to come, that Wolfe desired ardently 
to get prolonged leave from his regiment for the purposes of travel. 
Although more than six years in the army, he had seen little of 
the world. He had always been too hard- worked to have had 
many opportunities for enlarging his mind or of acquiring the 
accomplishments of a gentleman. His great fear was of becoming 
narrow and uncouth if this course of life went on, and he believed 
that travel and mixing in cultivated society would make him the 
more efficient officer. In this opinion he was supported by his 
uncle, Major Walter Wolfe, with whom he continued to keep up a 
spirited correspondence. The old Major was a keen soldier, and, 
having been disappointed, purely through the nature of the times, 
in his own advancement, took a deep interest in that of his 

Wolfe writes to his mother — 

To HIS Mother. 

August 1748. 

When you have anything to grant, or a good-natured thing 
to say, you don't lose time. I got your letter much sooner 
than I expected, but upon opening it easily perceived the 

There will be difficulties in everything that contradicts a 
principle or settled opinion, entertained amongst us, that an 
officer neither can, nor ought ever to be otherwise employed 
than his particular military functions. If they could beat men'*s 

^ History of England, chap. xxx. 


capacities down, or confine their genius to that rule (to be ob- 
served with the expected nicety, so as to exclude all other 
attachments), no man would ever be fitted for a higher employ- 
ment than he is in. Tis unaccountable that who wishes to 
see a good army can oppose men''s enlarging their notions, or 
acquiring that knowledge with a little absence which they can''t 
possible meet with at home, especially when they are supposed 
masters of their present employment and really acquainted with 
it. In all other stations in life, that method is usually pursued , 
which best conduces to the knowledge every one naturally wishes 
to have of his own profession. 

Whether my request will be consented to or not I shan^'t 
pretend to say ; it depends on them whether even I shall ask it. 
Pray tell my father that I thank him much for his approbation, 
but I can't help differing both from him and you in your objec- 
tion, that I must lay aside all thoughts of preferment ; because, 
if we may judge of what has happened, attendance, or the fre- 
quent offer of one''s person to their observation, has had hitherto 
little effect, and I know myself secure of your voices and en- 
deavours whether absent or not ; and more particularly that, if 
I rise at all, it will most probably be by the means of my father"*s 
pocket. But, not to be tiresome upon this subject, Fm told that 
my intended journey will really be put off*. I spoke to my 
uncle Wat in my last letter to him to this purpose. Perhaps he 
may mention it to you with his sense of such undertaking. 

The sum in question puts me into the very state you wish 
me, and I as truly wish myself, I mean that of independency ; 
and though I dare not pray for money, .^10,000 is worth asking 
for fair purposes, and might be prettily disposed of. None but 
earthly gods and goddesses are moved far without the precious 

Sure Palliser can'^t in honesty be partial to that red head of 
hers,2 and think there is beauty in the motly of white and yellow ; 
he has certainly meant his speech in compliment to some female 
of the fairer kind, within the hearing of so much gallantry. He 
can never be so blind as to imagine any perfection, but in the 

1 This is a reference to one of Mrs. Wolfe's match-making schemes. 

2 Mrs. Wolfe had written to say that one of his old Greenwich comrades 
had fallen in love with a rather plain damsel^ whose beauty, however, he had 
insisted upon. 

G 2 


just medium between the dismal black and palid white. He has 
sacrificed his own opinion and Mrs. Higsham's affections in 
pure civility to the neighbourhood of that same lady, who 
was, as I said before, undoubtedly the object and first in his 

I desire you will speak without any reserve, if there is here 
or within my reach whatever you wish for imagine yourself 
mistress of it, and tell me how I may endeavour to be of the 
least use. Though I don't think the troops will any of them 
embark till the end of October I would not have you lose time 
in fixing upon what you would have brought over, and if you 
know anything that would be agreeable to my father pray 
mention it. 

The Duke went suddenly over to Hanover a day sooner than 
even he spoke of, and express from thence determined his quick 
remove; H.R.H. is expected back in a week, but one aid-de- 
Camp, or more properly his travelling secretary (Col. Yorke) is 
gone with him of all his retinue. 

As to the bulk of our correspondence, I know nothing 
that can justly excuse my putting you to an extraordinary 
expense. Any inclination to much talk can never be a good 
reason. A man should shorten his discourse, or learn to 
write close. Everything that seems to prevent any scheme of 
economy I am a bitter enemy to. In the notions I entertain at 
present, spare diet and small beer have a strong place. Nothing 
but an unlucky knowledge of the immediate necessity of living 
well and drinking claret could, sure, persuade me to such a 
practice in opposition to good, close, parsimonious maxims. 
But what is there one may not be forced to do, where the 
health is concerned, however averse to inclination ? To repel 
the vapours (as my friend justly terms them), Jemmy Donnellan 
and I are obliged to have recourse to a couple or three good 
things every day, and some Bordeaux ; the management of 
all which he has solely undertaken, and calls for my meekly 

If Mr. Fox knew how well we feed, and that sometimes the 
table for four is crowded, he would be jealous of our emoluments 
and censure our extravagance, refuse perhaps our arrears, and 
cut off the non-effectives. My duty to my father. I always 
wish you both well, and am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 


The paragraph in the foregoing which relates to the principles 
of economy is a good example of the writer's playful mood. As a 
matter of fact his mother had been fearful that his camp diet was 
too rigorous for his feeble constitution, and in sending him the 
sum of £50 had urged him to nourish himself as generously as 
possible. Wolfe was no gourmet, generally taking the mess pro- 
visions as he found them, and in this campaign they were very bad. 
His supposition that the corrupt old placeman Fox, the Secretary 
of War, would feel scandalized at the Lucullan extravagance of the 
commissariat, was amusingly fantastic. 

By November the definitive treaty had been signed a month, 
yet Wolfe was still in Flanders with the foreign battalions, nor 
had the hoped-for leave of absence been granted. When, however, 
he next wrote his mother, a return to England was only a few weeks 

To HIS Mother. 

Camp, Nesselroy, 10th November, 1748. 

You have given me the greatest pleasure imaginable in your 
account of my father''s situation. He not only can walk well, 
but I hope does, or at least takes such exercise as fits his inclina- 
tion and contributes to his health. I would recommend the like 
to you, if I did not know how sensible you are of the necessity 
of it, and how ready to give a good example. I have been 
prodigiously careful of my own thin person, and I think have 
used all the remedies, plasters, unguents, etc., that were not only 
useful, but even thought so, in complaisance to your opinion ; 
and I am thoroughly reinstated. Your green oil in particular 
was of singular service to me, for a hurt I received by the falling 
of my horse (not from my horse), and that's well likewise. 

Captain Thornton is the only one of our countrymen that 
thinks our army worth looking at ; he was present at a review 
of six Wolfenbuttel battalions, and expressed both satisfaction 
and astonishment. He is gone away very well pleased with his 
reception and entertainment. It is really surprising that in the 
multitude of the idle and curious, it does not enter into any of 
their heads to be for once spectators at a military show, and 
amuse themselves some little time with a view of the variety of 
troops that compose the three separate bodies in the country. 
The English should accustom themselves to such sights, that 
they may be less at a loss, and act like men when anything new 
or extravagant presents itself, and that a plaid, whiskers, or a 


ruff cap may not be esteemed by them altogether terrible and 

I received a letter yesterday from my father, and one from 
Rickson. The little man seems to entertain but a very in- 
different opinion of widows, and threatens to be much better 
acquainted before he engages a second time ; he even carries it 
so far as to suspect some of them of coquetry and deceit, and 
with great earnestness advises his friends to avoid that species.^ 

My father's good designs are seen by me in the very light he 
means them ; but 'tis too late. Other views and interests succeed 
at the end of a war, and favours are thrown into quite a different 
channel. For my particular, I wish nothing so much as the 
means of escaping from the noise and idleness. I never till now 
knew our army otherwise than I could have desired it (I don't 
mean as to the successful part), but then I never knew what it 
was to wait, in smoke and subjection, the signing articles of 
peace, and till now have always had, or imagined I had, a 
prospect of better times. Fm even flattered with the distant 
view of a happy arrival at Gibraltar or Minorca, — a very 
desirable retreat, and well adapted to my years and inclination ! 

I have sold my poor little grey mare ; I lamed her by 
accident, and thought it better to dismiss her the service im- 
mediately, than wait a long while for her recovery, as has been 
sometimes the custom. I grieved at parting with so faithful a 
servant, and have the comfort to know she is in good hands, will 
be very well fed and taken care of in her latter days. Such 
another good animal I shall hardly meet with. I shall be very 
much obliged to you if you will let me know whether a part of 
a former letter from you relating to my cousin Burcher be true. 
I hope it is otherwise. Mrs. In wood may give herself what airs 
she pleases, and boast all her ability ; but I shall return, perhaps, 
more than her match. I have taken care by practice, and a 
well-regulated attention to the game, to prepare myself for the 
greatest trials ; and so I think she should be informed, to put 
her the more upon her guard, and make my attacks (as they are 
called at chess) less formidable. I heartily wish you both your 
health, and am. 

Most dutifully and affectionately your Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

I believe we shall remain at least six weeks in this camp. 

^ Rickson did not marry until 1767, when he espoused Miss Euphemia 
Bremner of Edinburgh. 


By Christmas Wolfe was home again, and after the festive birth- 
day and Christmas rejoicings were over, lost little time in renewing 
his addresses to General Mordaunfs niece. But what courtship 
there was, was destined again to be brief, for on the 15th of June 
1749, he at last read his name in the Gazette as a Major of the 
20th Regiment.^ This regiment, then known as " Lord George 
Sackville's," was then quartered in Stirling. For the next few 
years, therefore, destiny called him to Scotland.^ 

Scotland, and particularly the Highlands, was at that time the 
place in the British Empire which if it did not occasion uneasiness, 
called for the most alert and prudent statesmanship. Since the 
effectual repression of the Rebellion, three years before, a system 
of " reconstruction " was demanded, something similar in character 
to that undergone by the Southern States of the American Union 
after 1865. A large part of Scotland was in the hands of feudal 
chiefs ruling idle, reckless, ill-fed clansmen. In the report made by 
General Wade after the rising of 1715, he observes of the High- 
landers that " their notions of virtue and vice are very different 
from the more civilized part of mankind. They think it the most 
sublime virtue to pay servile and abject obedience to the commands 
of their chieftains, although in opposition to their Sovereign and 
the laws of the kingdom ; and to encourage this their fidelity, they 
are treated by their chiefs with great familiarity ; they partake 
with them in their diversions, and shake them by the hand 
wherever they meet them." 

Statutes were accordingly passed to put down this undue power 
and consequent lawlessness. Military tenures were abolished, 
hereditary jurisdictions were replaced by Crown Courts, the 
Jacobite clergy were required to take the oath of allegiance, and 
to pray publicly for his Majesty King George. The clans were to 
be disarmed and (still more important in Highland eyes at least) 
the tartan was placed under the ban. The term for the total 
abolition of the national garb was the 1st of August, 1747, but 
" Such parts thereof as are called the plaid, philabeg or little kilt," 
were forbidden after the 25th of December, 1748. 

As long as the war was going on in Flanders and the troops 
were needed on the Continent, not many battalions could be spared 

^ Now the Lancashire Fusiliers. 

2 There is a letter from John Warde, Esq., of Squenyes, to his brother 
George, then in Scotland, which shows that Wolfe did not join the corps for 
some weeks at least. It is dated Conduit Street, 24th Jan. 1749 : " I saw 
Major Wolfe the other day who was going northward, and tells me he will 
see you." 


to see that the Rebellion Statutes were strictly carried into 
execution. But now that the war was over, the Government 
began to follow up its initial measures in Scotland. Several 
battalions were ordered north to garrison the Highland Forts, and 
to hunt out philabegs, non-juring priests and claymores.^ 

This was the state of affairs and these the duties of the 
soldiery when Major Wolfe returned to Scotland. He found the 
20th threatened with the loss of its Lieutenant-Colonel, the Hon. 
Edward Cornwallis, who had been selected to go out to Nova 
Scotia as Captain-General and Governor of that new colony. Thus 
he was at so early an age called upon to act as commanding officer 
of a regiment. In itself such a position was a trying one, but the 
circumstance of the troops being in the midst of those speaking 
their own tongue and resenting their presence, demanded the 
highest degree of tact and self-control. Stirling must then have 
been far from an agreeable place in the eyes of an Englishman. It 
was dirty and the inhabitants much addicted to inebriety. The 
burghers were narrow and clannish to a degree. We were told 
that none but a freeman of some of their guilds could embark in 
any business. No one durst so much as sew a button on his breeks 
or put a patch upon his brogues unless he were free of a craft of 
tailors or shoe-makers, and had the barbers been a corporation no 
one durst shave himself or employ a servant to do it for him, with- 
out being entered a freeman of that trade. Even the well-to-do 
inhabitants were frugal to the point of parsimony.^ 

Wolfe's first care was for the men under his charge. His regi- 
mental minutes are still extant. Nothing we have exhibited so far 
in these pages so attests the complete soldier. Soon after his 
arrival at Stirling, under date of February 12, 1749, he wrote 
that: "The Major desires to be acquainted in writing with 
the men and the companies they belong to, and as soon as 
possible with their characters, that he may know the proper objects 
to encourage and those over whom it will be necessary to keep a 
strict hand. The officers are enjoined to visit the soldiers' 
quarters frequently ; now and then to go round between nine and 
eleven o'clock at night, and not trust to sergeants' reports. They 
are also requested to watch the looks of the privates and observe 

^ If arms were found in a Highlander's possession, or if he wore a 
philabeg ; if a priest officiated contrary to the Act, or if either refused to take 
the oaths prescribed, he was liable to six months' imprisonment for the first 
offence, and transportation to the American Plantations for the second. 

2 History of Stirling (1794), p. 161. 


whether any of them were paler than usual, and that the reason 
might be inquired into and proper means used to restore them to 
their former vigoiu*. And subalterns are told that 'a young 
officer should not think he does too much.'' '' ^ 

At this time he did not know how long he would be stationed 
at Stirling. It was therefore with infinite relief that in a few 
weeks he received orders to march to Glasgow. One reason in 
particular made him welcome the change. It was the young? 
officer's abiding ambition to atone for the deficiencies in his! 
education. Brother officers at mess might have derided this as an 
unnecessary aspiration after an undue piety, even the common 
soldiers might wonder to see their acting Lieutenant-Colonel taking 
to his school books again, but the opportunity was one not to be 
lost. There was a celebrated college at Glasgow (since grown 
into a University) and capable teachers, so Wolfe put himself in 
their hands. He writes to his mother — 

Glasgow, March 2hth, 1749. 

Dear Madam, — Neither my inclination or interest lead me 
to do anything that may disoblige either my father or you, 
much less against both, can I be persuaded, to oppose your wills ; 
it would humble me indeed if you were once to suppose that I 
could be biassed in my opinion by either of the gentlemen you 
mention, though they should receive advice and assistance, from 
the artificial and fraudulent female ; or that she (prepared as I 
am against all her attempts) should be able to work upon me 
with lies and falsehood, her constant weapons ; I had not 
five minutes' discourse with her, but in company with the others 
where her intimacy is not yet strong enough to allow the 
freedom of utterance upon all subjects ; so that, what she might 
be wanting in truth, must have been chiefly upon indifferent 
topics, more proper to move one's contempt, than displeasure. 
One melancholy proof of her pernicious example, I foresee will 
appear in that child Miss Sotheron ; if Jezebel be suffered to 
meddle in her education, the girl is undone ; I pressed the father 
to send her to New York ; his fondness, and Fanny's wickedness, 
will be her distraction, if she is not quickly removed. It is a pity 
the poor thing should be neglected, for she appears ready 
enough on her part to do what is right. 

You have mistaken that part of my letter where Masterman 

1 Major Wolfe's Order-book is preserved at the United Service Institution. 


is named. Billy Sotheron ^ does not speak of him as any hindrance 
to his showing the respect due to his aunt, but as one cunning, 
and insinuating, execrably bent to find his advantages in the 
ruins of your family : that is the light he sees him in, and I dare- 
say a just one. This Mr. Sotheron's behaviour may easily be 
accounted for when I tell you that he is the most consummate 
rake of all my acquaintances, indolent, negligent, and vicious, 
with a great share of good nature, and quick sense enough, but 
withal so idle and a victim to debauchery, that I believe you 
had almost as great a share of his company as any of his 
relations in London, at least he assures me so. 

Col. Cornwallis does certainly go to Nova Scotia for New 
Scotland : he is to be absent two years : all his share of duty will 
then fall upon me : six or seven campaigns, and an age in Scot- 
land. I shall be sick of my office : the very bloom of life nipped 
in this northern climate. I am determined to make the same 
use of my stay here, at least ; two hours every day are given up 
to application : in the morning I have a time to instruct me in 
I mathematics : and in the afternoon another comes to assist me to 
regain my almost lost Latin. The College furnishes abundantly 
all the arts of learning to the inquisitive. My horses will be 
here in a day or two : they have cost me forty-five guineas. I 
am half undone with these expenses. 

Be so good to pay Mr. Fourmantel for the wig : ^ it will be 
about thirty shillings. A Sergeant of this regiment is gone to 
London : I bid him call upon you : he may bring it. The 
man is very honest and an excellent sergeant : Edwards is his 

I must make use of your interest with the General, my 
father, to bring about my purpose. Will you desire him to let 
Mr. Fisher give me credit for any sum not exceeding four- 
score pounds, the money due to me, for my old post ? Not that 
I want it all at present, or would draw for the whole treasure at 
a time ; but a part is absolutely necessary. It would be very 
easy to make that appear, if I were to enumerate the different 
articles of expense that necessarily attend a supreme command in 
such a place as Glasgow ; and I don''t apprehend you would wish 
Major Wolfe should distinguish himself the worst way. I give 
you my word that the common demand for my horse, servants, 

1 William Sotheron^ his cousin. 

2 The absurd legend that Wolfe never wore wigs is sufficiently refuted 


washing, lodging, and diet, is no less than three pounds ten 
shillings a week. Judge then what there is over, for many other 
things not less requisite, at fifteen pounds a month ! I reckon 
myself to have a shilling a day for what they call pocket money. 
God forbid every part of Scotland should be of the same ex- 
hausting nature with this. If my father consents, as I have no 
reason in the world to doubt it from his constant friendship and 
goodness, will you be so kind to inform me, and let me know 
Fisher's christian name and place of abode.^ My duty to my 

I am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

PS. — My horses are this moment arrived and both lame, etc., 
with travelling only. 

There were then no barracks in Glasgow, and the house occupied 
by Wolfe in Camlachie, a suburb of the city, was still standing a 
few years ago. It had been built in 1720 by Walkinshaw, the 
father of Prince Charlie's mistress, and was owned in Wolfe's day 
by a Mr. Orr of Burrowfield. 

1 Thomas Fisher, an Army agent, lived in Axe Yard, Westminster. 



Amongst Wolfe's most intimate friends whose name has already 
occurred in these letters was William Rickson, who had been a 
lieutenant in General Wolfe's regiment, and was now a captain in 
the 47th Foot (Lascelle's regiment, stationed in Dublin). Rickson 
was an earnest, ardent young man, considerably Wolfe's elder,^ and 
an unbounded admirer of his friend's talents. Many of Wolfe's 
best letters are addressed to Rickson. Thus he writes from his 
Camlachie lodgings — 

To Captain Rickson. 

Glasgow, April 2, 1749. 
Dear Rickson, — When I saw your writing upon the Back 
of a letter, I concluded it was in consequence of the mandate 

1 sent you by Lt. Herries, of this Regiment (that letter he 
carried upon your account and mine, not his own, as you will 
easily discover); but I find myself more in your debt than I 
expected. 'Twas your desire to please, and to express the part 
you take in your friends' good fortune. These were the motives 
that persuaded you to do what you knew would be agreeable. 
You'll believe me, when I tell you that, in my esteem, few of 
what we call advantages in life would be worth acceptance if 
none were to partake them with us. What a wretch is he who 
lives for himself alone ! his only aim. It is the first degree of 
happiness here below, that the honest, the brave, and estimable 
part of mankind, or, at least, some amongst them, share our 
success. There were several reasons concurring to have sent me 
into Italy, if this had not happened [his promotion] to prevent 
my intention. One was to avoid the mortifying circumstance of 
going, a Captain, to Inverness.^ Disappointed of my sanguine 
hopes, humbled to an excess, I could not remain in the Army 
and refuse to do the duty of my office while I staid in Britain. 
Many things, I thought, were and still are wanting to my 

^ He was born in 1719. 

2 His commission as Brigade-major ended with the war : and he had 
previously only held brevet-rank of Major. 



education. Certain never to reap any advantages that way with 
the regiment : on the contrary, your barren battaUon con- 
versation rather blunts the faculties than improves my youth 
and vigour bestowed idly in Scotland; my temper daily 
changed with discontent ; and from a man become martinet or 
a monster. 

You shall hear in justice (and in return for your confidence) 
that I am not less smitten than yourself. The winter we were 
in London together I sometimes saw Miss Lawson, the maid of 
honour, G. Mordaunt's niece. She pleased me then ; but the 
campaign in view, battledore and dangerous, left little thought 
for love. The last time I was in town, only three weeks, I was 
several times with her, — sometimes in public, sometimes at her 
uncle's, and two or three times at her own house. She made a 
surprising progress in that short time, and won all my affections. 
Some people reckon her handsome ; but I, that am her lover, 
don't think her a beauty.^ She has much sweetness of temper, 
sense enough, and is very civil and engaging in her behaviour. 
She refused a clergyman with .£^1300 a year, and is at present 
addressed by a very rich knight; but to your antagonist's 
advantage, he has that of being mad added, so that I hold him 
cheap. In point of fortune, she has no more than I have a right 
to expect, viz. <£*! 2,000. The maid is tall and thin, about my 
o^vn age, and that's the only objection ! I endeavoured, with 
the assistance of all the art I was master of, to find out how 
any serious proposal would be received by Mordaunt and her 
mother. It did not appear that they would be very averse to 
such a scheme ; but as I am but twenty-two and three months 
it is rather early for that sort of project ; and if I don't attempt 
her, somebody else will. The General and Mrs. Wolfe are 
rather against it, from other more interested views, as they 
imagine. They have their eye upon one of c£30,000.2 If ^ 
company in the Guards is bought for me, or I should be happy 
enough to purchase any lieutenant-colonel's commission within 
this twelvemonth, I shall certainly ask the question ; but if I'm 
kept long here, the fire will be extinguished. Young flames 
must be constantly fed, or they'll evaporate. I have done with 
this subject, and do you be silent upon it. 

* This is a lover's whim. Miss Lawson, as her portrait reveals, was a 

2 Miss Hoskins, of Croydon. 


Cornwallis is preparing all things for Nova Scotia; his 
absence will over-bother me ; my stay must be everlasting ; and 
thou know'st, Hal, how I hate compulsion. I'd rather be Major 
upon half pay, by my soul ! These are all new men to me, and 
many of them but of low mettle. Besides, I am by no means 
ambitious of command when that command obliges me to reside 
far from my own, surrounded either with flatterers or spies and 
in a country not at all to my taste. Would to God you had a 
company in this Regiment, that I might at last find some com- 
fort in your conversation. Cornwallis asks to have Loftus with 
him. The Duke laughed at the request and refused him. 

You know I am but a very indifferent scholar. When a 
man leaves his studies at fifteen, he will never be justly called a 
man of letters. I am endeavouring to repair the damages of my 
education, and have a person to teach me Latin and the mathe- 
matics ; two hours in a day, for four or five months, this may 
help me a little. 

If I were to judge of a country by those just come out of 
it, Ireland will never be agreeable to me. You are in the midst 
and see the brightest and most shining in other than in a 
soldiers character. I wish it were more pleasing to you than 
you mention, because probably you will stay there some time. 

The men here are civil, designing and treacherous with 
their immediate interests always in view ; they pursue trade 
with warmth and necessary merchantile spirit, arising from the 
baseness of their other qualifications. The women, coarse, cold 
and cunning, for ever enquiring after men's circumstances. 
They make that the standard of their good breeding. You may 
imagine it would not be difficult for me to be pretty well 
received here, if I took the pains, having some of the advantages 
necessary to recommend me to their favour : but .... 

My dear Rickson, 

Your affectionate friend, 

J. Wolfe. 
To Captain Rickson^ of Col. Lascelle's Regiment. 

To be left at Lucas's Coffee House, Dublin, Ireland. 

We need have less surprise at Wolfe's impressions of Glasgow if 
we compare them with those of other visitors, his contemporaries, 
or even with the animated picture which Sir Walter Scott has 
painted for us in Rob Roy. But Glasgow then and probably 
now improves upon acquaintance. In 1749, the inhabitants 


numbered scarce above 20,000. Here we see, in spite of whatever 
uncongenial surroundings, the Major attacking his mathematics and 
Latin with a will. When his father wrote him a letter of fatherly- 
counsel apropos of a military career as the veteran had found it, 
we find Wolfe responding in a somewhat formal and "literary" 
vein. He moralizes on warfare, and the " highest joy " he describes 
he himself was to taste for one fleeting moment. 

To HIS Father. 

Glasgow, April 1th, 1749. 
Dear Sir, — That variety incident to a military life gives our 
profession some advantages over those of a more even and 
consistent nature. We have all our passions and affections 
roused and exercised, many of which must have wanted their 
proper employment, had not suitable occasions obliged us to 
exert them. Few men are acquainted with the degrees of 
their own courage till danger prove them and are seldom justly 
informed how far the love of honour or dread of shame are 
superior to the love of life. This is a knowledge to be best 
acquired in an army ; our actions are there in presence of the 
world, to be freely censured or approved. Constancy of temper, 
patience and all the virtues necessary to make us suflPer with a 
good grace are likewise parts of our character, and, as you know, 
frequently called in to carry us through unusual difficulties. 
What moderation and humility must he be possessed of that 
bears the good fortune of a successful war with tolerable modesty 
and humility, and he js very excellent in his nature who triumphs 
without insolence. \a battle gained is, I believe, the highest joy 
mankind is capable dT receiving, to him who commands ; and his 
merit must be equal to his success if it works no change to his 
disadvantage. Lastly, a defeat is a trial of human resolution, 
and to labour under the mortification of being surpassed, and 
live to see the fatal consequences that may follow to one's 
country, is a situation next too damnable. But I make my \ 
introduction a little too long ; however, as you started the 
subject, and gave me the first hints, you won't be displeased. 

Your letter and several others mention Cornwallis's new 
officers. He will certainly get the regiment in America, and I 
shall as certainly have a Lieutenant-Colonel put in. In this 
great demand for employment, Lord George's interest, or even 
the Duke's own, will hardly be sufficient to keep out a new man. 
The Ministry must manage their people, and secure them by 


obligations. Let it be as it will, the sooner 'tis determined the 
greater share I shall have of freedom, and be more at liberty to 
visit you in the south. 

I have this morning received a letter from my mother, by 
which it appears how great your consideration is for your poor 
Major, and how much I'm obliged to you for your ready assist- 
ance. I promise you these sums are not employed but in a 
manner that you yourself might approve ; and I should be 
ashamed ever to ask, but to such purposes as becomes your son ; 
and that I should be somewhat cramped in a sort of generous 
notions that are part of my inheritance, you should not hear 
from me on this subject ; for, though I had rather be indebted 
to you for any kind of aid than to any man alive, yet the name 
of a debt is more than enough to make it disagreeable in the 
affair of money only. My duty to my mother, etc. 

J. Wolfe. 

The old General had enclosed a draft for a substantial sum, 
which came in very handy to pay for the Major's tuition and 
other fees. He was living in the quietest manner possible in his 
lodgings in Camlachie. From thence he writes to his mother. 

To HIS Mother. 

Glasgow, lUh April, 1749. 

Dear Madam, — It was very kind in you, as soon as you 
knew my distress ; your second letter does not in the least 
diminish the merit of your first and I'm as much obliged to my 
father and you as if I had more immediately received your 

At the same time I can't help saying that the fruits of my 
own labour are perhaps the most proper supplies, and if I should 
go any length beyond the usual bonds, 'tis just I should pay for 
it. If ever my opinion differs from my father's, 'tis certain to 
be in my own favour. I don't believe he ever thought better of 
me that I do of myself. The same reasoning may serve for the 
greater part of mankind, so that it does not say that I am right 
when opposed to his sentiments. 

The General says that a lump of wealth will be of more service 
to me altogether when he is gone (sure he does not mean soon !) 
than part would be now. For undoubtedly he must observe that, 
I am as likely to make a good use of it now as I can possibly be 
at any other time, and much more certain, for who can tell 


which of the two shall survive ? But suppose I should stay a 
few years behind would it not be highly pleasing to him that 
the person he intends for his successor should in his presence 
and under his eye, flourish while he lives and give him some 
convincing reason to hope that what he has been at pains to 
collect would not be idly or basely employed ? Would he not 
receive some additional satisfaction when the very principles he 
has taken care to instil are generously exercised for his credit 
more than mine ? 

I can produce a ready excuse for not attending to the miseries 
of those that might look up to me for relief when I declare an 
inability to help them, and that the common expenses of my 
office at least require the revenue. But this is enough, and 
more than I intended, since for twenty-two, a Major's pay is 
pretty well ; however, without any extravagance, I could easily 
find use for more. 

My father excepted no one alive wishes you so truly well as I 
do, however vainly they may endeavour to profess it. Mrs. 
In wood's care of you during your illness was very obliging ; she 
deserves everything of me for her love to the house. I wish the 
boxes ten times more beautiful on her account. She shall beat 
me at chess, scream in a coach unreproved, or do anything she 
pleases when I am with her. Don't send any money by the 
sergeant ; you'll find employment for it. 

They prosecute the wearers of cambric with great severity in 
this place, so that I stand in need of some change of stocks (not 
Bank Stocks nor South Sea). If you can get me a dozen made 
of whatever sort you please, I shaU thank you. This place is 
very far from being so disagreeable as it appeared at first. The 
ladies are very civil and in great numbers, and they are not so 
desperately afraid of a soldier as formerly. The inhabitants still 
retain all the religion they ever had, I dare say, with rather less 
outward ostentation and mockery of devotion, for which they are 
justly remarkable. 

My uncle Wat has sent a drummer to the regiment ; he is not 
a beauty. I wish Lord George don't dismiss him. The Major 
writ to me about him ; I consented, provided his figure was 

I do several things in my character of commanding officer 
which I should never think of in any other ; for instance, I'm 
every Sunday at the Kirk, an example justly to be admired. I 
would not lose two hours of a day if it did not answer some end. 


When I say " lose two hours,"" I must explain to you that the 
generality of Scotch preachers are excessive blockheads, so truly 
and obstinately dull, that they seem to shut out knowledge at 
every entrance. They are not like our good folks. Ours are 
priests, and though friends to venaison, they are friends to 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

With regard to attendance at divine service, there is a regi- 
mental minute, July 1, 1749 : " Lord George Sackville hopes 
that decency and a proper sense of duty will for the future pre- 
vail upon the officers to attend upon Divine Service, and that the 
commanding officer of the regiment may not be obliged to order 
them to church with their respective companies." By that time 
Lord George Sackville was in Glasgow on a visit to his regiment, 
although the spirit of the order doubtless emanated from his 
friend the acting Lieutenant-Colonel. Of this remarkable man, 
Lord George Sackville, whose character appears such an enigma to 
the eighteenth-century historians, something will be said later. 
Meanwhile, on April 28, Wolfe writes to his father. It may be 
mentioned that the journey he speaks of was made in the new 
stage coach between Glasgow and Edinburgh, the starting of 
which enterprise was regarded as an important event. 

To HIS Father. 

Glasgow, 2Sth April , O.S., 1749. 

Dear Sir, — I am within this hour returned from Edinburgh, 
where I was a necessary person in a most disagreable office. I 
went there to bury a captain of the Regiment. He died of a 
spotted fever at his return from Shetland, that same Milbourne, 
whose fortitude and good understanding, preserved our four 
Companies, lived to see them safe and then left them for ever. 
The Regiment has lost an excellent officer and can as little spare 
a Captain of his abilities at a time like this, as may be imagined. 
He was our paymaster. His long absence from the corps has 
thrown the accounts into confusion and there are few men like 
him capable of setting 'em to rights. 

I saw several letters from London which spoke of our affairs. 
My old master ^ has had ill-natured things said of him. He is 

1 General Huske. 


strong to bear up against those sort of attacks, and if they 
put him upon the staff, will laugh at their sage counsel. 

The embarkations are in great forwardness, I hear, it is to 
be feared that the Mediterranean corps will suffer by desertion. 
The soldiers have a strange abhorrence of such strict confinement, 
and the unusual heats they expect to find in that climate. I 
hope your men will behave steadily upon this as upon many other 
occasions, and confirm everything by their submission that can 
be expected from such resolutions. 

About 1500 men will be ordered this summer to the roads ; 
our battalion furnishes their proportion. Would you think that 
they intend to strike off a little extraordinary pay, hitherto 
allowed to the subaltern officers upon that duty. Such 
scandalous ill-judged parsimony was never practised in any army 
before and never can be without creating uneasiness and dislike. 
These poor gentlemen are slaves to the service, and hardly get 
bread from it and should they be cut off* from this little reason- 
able advantage ? My duty to my mother. 
I am, dear Sir. 

Your most dutiful and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

It was about this time that 300 men of the regiment officered 
by two captains and six subalterns were told off" for road-building 
from the Pass of Leny to the head of Loch Em. From Wolfe's 
regimental orders we learn that " the Privates were to be provided 
with coarse shirts for working in, but check ones were on no account 
to be bought."" Checks were too suggestive of plaid. He had 
not been long in Glasgow before a terrible conflagration occurred 
on the south side of the Clyde, and of regular town police and fire- 
men there being none, the duties of such fell upon the King's 
troops. " Major Wolfe and the other officers of Lord George 
Sackville's regiment," we read in The Courant, " were present all the 
time, and were of singular service by placing guards upon the 
bridge and at all the avenues to keep off" the crowd and prevent 
their stealing the effects belonging to the poor sufferers. Many of 
the soldiers exerted themselves in preventing the flames and in 
saving people's lives."" One hundred and fifty families were rendered 
homeless by this fire at the Gorbals. A little later, on the 21st of 
May, Glasgow was flung into great excitement by a riot resulting 
from the exploit of a party of body-snatchers. It seems that 
about the time that Wolfe arrived in Glasgow a party of body- 

H 2 


snatchers carried a corpse to the college. Whereupon a mob was 
incited to attack the building, smash the windows and commit other 
outrages. The ringleaders of the riot were apprehended, tried, and 
two only found guilty. These were sentenced to be whipped 
through the town and banished for life. The populace were out- 
raged at the severity of this sentence, and another riot was 
threatened. When Wolfe wrote he was far from well. 

To HIS Mother. 

Glasgow, 21 May, 1749. 

Dear Madam, — ^This is the most lazy and indolent disorder 
I have ever been oppressed with ; ' tis pain to undertake the 
slightest business ; and what used to give me pleasure in the 
work, is now tedious and disagreeable. I should hardly imagine 
it, if I did not really feel it myself, yet the very writing a few 
words, though to the person I always loved to write to, is now a 
trouble to me. I must drive off this heaviness by some means or 
other, and not be thus uneasy to myself, when everything about 
me looks gay and pleasant. 

The sergeant brought me the little bundles, just as you had 
given them into his hands ; they came very seasonably and I 
thank you much for the relief. 

Mr. Gedde too, has furnished me with what his shop affords ; 
I can't say they come at so easy a rate, as some other things, but 
whoever deals with him, I find must pay well to be well served. 
We expected a great tumult, and some mischief in a day or two, 
at the punishment of two men concerned in the mob ; but they 
have prevented all that by escaping out of prison. It has saved 
me a great deal of trouble, though it would have been for the 
future peace of the place, if these offenders had received what the 
law intended them. I'm afraid the magistrates will suffer in the 
opinion of their superiors ; though I can't say it appears that 
they connived at the prisoners' flight : yet their fears of their 
being rescued and their timorous behaviour throughout the 
whole of this affair, will not fail to create suspicions to their pre- 
• judice. Present my duty to my father. 
I am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 
To Mrs. Wolfe, 
Greenwich, England. 

In his next letter he adverts to the impending regimental changes. 


To HIS Father. 

Glasgow, July 10, 1749. 

Dear Sir, — I have but one way of making you any acknow- 
ledgements, and that if by endeavouring to deserve your esteem. 
A number of words and sentences ever so well put together 
cannot equal a good action, those are only to be paid in their 
kind ; and though I should take the greatest pains to tell you 
how much I think myself obliged to you, you would be better 
pleased to hear that I did my share of duty as it should be done ; 
and that every kindness I received from you was felt by the 
honest and the good ; that every addition of circumstance was 
employed as you yourself would wish, and that the same principles 
and integrity that have hitherto guided your actions are through 
you, the rule of mine. All this would be pleasing to hear, and 
you have taken one more step to bring it about ; ' tis now in my 
power to be both generous and just, and I have an opportunity 
of owning with great pleasure that both the inclination and 
ability are from you. Lord George Sackville and Cornwallis are 
two people whom no sordid or vicious man can succeed without 
appearing in dismal colours, and a regiment accustomed to 
genteel commanders, are so many censors to disapprove and 
condemn a different behaviour ; not but certain allowances are 
to be made between men of high rank and fortune, and those of 
inferior degree. 

I laugh to think of Mrs. Fanny's ^ globes and spheres rolling 
upon the ground, her drawing pens and brushes dispersed, her 
shells in disorder, and a goblet broken in the fray. I hope it was 
her effects and not her person that these rash robbers aimed at ; 
sure they have not run away with her ? sweet soul ! What a 
panic she is always in at the sight of a rude man ! 

General Churchill is so much out of order that the Dragoon 
reviews are put off for a week in hopes of his recovery. My 
duty to my mother. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 
To Lieut. Genl. Wolfe, 

at Greenwich in Kent, Sovth Britain. 

His arduous regimental duties, added to his closet studies, were 
probably a little wearing to his health. Yet he was not wholly 

^ Miss Frances Thompson. 


unsociable, as local tradition shows him to have been a frequent 
visitor at "Shawfield," the residence of Colonel Macdowall, Mr. 
Barclay's of Capelrig, and others of the neighbourhood. 


July 19, 1749. 

Dear Madam, — I have your two letters before me and by 
them I perceive myself much in your debt. 'Tis only an addition 
to the large account that stands against me, and I'm afraid will 
for ever stand, for there always has been and is likely to be, a 
vast advantage on your side. There's one article favours me, 
which is, that the pleasure you feel when you do good offices 
almost pays the doing, and if I am not quite as grateful as I 
should be, it will never be in my power to prevent your inclina- 
tion. The worst on my side will only vary the object, the act is 
still the same, and the better for being well appointed. 

I have already explained the reason of my former wishes about 
going to England, so, for this summer, my hopes are vanished. 
In the winter Lord G. Sackville offers to get me leave for three 
months and was so kind to propose it himself. I have not con- 
sented even to his asking ; it shall be as my father pleases and 
as he thinks it more or less for my advantage. Lord George 
talks of the necessity of keeping up my present acquaintance 
amongst the heads of our trade and procuring new ones that 
may be of use. I have no turn that way. If Fm really wanted 
'tis well to be prepared. I have not a mean opinion of my 
friends. My expectations from them are not great enough to 
be troublesome, and I don't think they'll forget in one year those 
that have been honoured with their friendship for five or six. 
My father will see what is to be done. I have a real dependence 
on him and can confide in his advice ; when he thinks fit to call 
me to him, I'm ready to come. 

It is not easy to describe myself in my present state. If I 
say I'm thinner, you'll imagine me a shadow, or a skeleton in 
motion. In short I'm everything but what the surgeons call a 
subject for anatomy; as far as muscles, bones, and the larger 
vessels can serve their purpose, they have a clear view of them in 
me, distinct from fat or fleshy impediment. 

It is great grief to me that your god-child ^ is not in the right 
way. She should see more of the world, and then common 
objects would not strike so forcibly. I wish her well for the 

1 Miss Streton. 


friendship that has for so long subsisted between the two families 
and because her well-being will be a great satisfaction to her 
good parents. 

My Maid of Honour (for I think she should somehow or 
other be distinguished) you say was not of the party you met, 
nor do I believe, had she been there, that you wou'd have thought 
ill of her companions. Such superiority has virtue and good 
sense over their opposites. It is the greatest mistake to place a 
young woman of any condition in that office; "'tis but the 
genteeler way to wickedness, and in truth, with submission to 
General Mordaunfs notions, his niece need not be for ever in 
public to be taken notice of, admired and married. 

If Mr. Swinden desires it, I will write to him, but he often 
hears by you, and cannot doubt of my esteem for him. Writing 
to men of business about trifles is stealing so much necessary 
time from them. 

I reckon myself the General's pensioner from the 1st July 
1749. Your letter is of the 30th June. Every three months is 
most convenient for me. Do you know if he pays as he receives 
in advance, or do we buy in in October ? 

Fm surprised to hear you complain of heat. We suffer no 
inconvenience from it in this country. On the contrary, it has 
been so excessive cold both yesterday and to-day, that I am now 
before a large fire, and cannot well stay in my room without it. 

I am just now going to write to the famous Barbour for a 

gun ; the game here is a temptation to shoot and this sort of 

exercise, moderately used, is wholesome enough. Mr. Fisher^ 

pays the armourer as he has already done the sadler. My duty 

to my Father. 

I am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 
Glasgow, July 19th, 1749. 

I blush to think what difficulties you'll have to read my 

The arrival of the Colonel of the Regiment relieved Wolfe of 
his duties as commander. Lord George Sackville, take him all 
in all, is one of the greatest enigmas of eighteenth-century history. 
" He had," says Wraxall, " a frame of body naturally robust, and 
a vigorous constitution secured him almost uninterrupted health. 

^ The army agent. 


In his person, which rose to near six feet, he was muscular and 
capable of enduring much bodily as well as mental fatigue. 
Though his features were strongly pronounced and saturnine, yet 
considered together as a whole their effect by no means displeased. 
An air of high birth and dignity, illuminated by strong sense, 
pervaded every lineament of his face."" He was while on first 
acquaintance proudly reserved, yet "no man in private society 
unbent himself more or manifested less self-importance."" The 
Duchess of Dorset, his mother, had been Maid of Honour to 
Queen Anne, and his father, the Duke, remembered William III. 
On the whole. Lord George, as his panegyrist avers, owed more to 
nature than cultivation, although given a good education in the 
college at Dublin. How he arose from the terrible infamy of 
Minden to place and power a second time, surviving serenely a 
second disgrace, is an unparalleled story belonging to the next 

To Wolfe Sackville was kindness itself. He saw that the 
major's health had suffered by the northern climate, as well as by 
his occupations. The weather that summer had been unusually 
cold and wet, so that there were few days, even in July, when he 
could dispense with a fire in his bedroom. Lord George proposed, 
however, that Wolfe should remain in Glasgow until winter, and 
then have three months'* leave, which he could not better employ, 
in the Colonel's opinion, than in keeping up acquaintance with 
" the heads of our trade." Wire-pulling and personal importunities 
were very important factors in an officer's advancement in those 

To HIS Father. 

Glasgow, 2'nd Atigtcst, 1749. 

Dear Sir, — You do for me every day much more than I can 
justly think myself entitled to, though by your care and anxiety 
I ought to entertain favourable notions of myself and increase 
in proportion to your boimty and liberality, the natural opinion 
each man has of some merit in him ; whenever I find you engag'd 
for me either in the business of advance or otherwise, I cannot 
but applaud myself for being the object of so many good 
intentions as I have always observed you very fastidious in the 
distribution of your favours. I had writ to my mother to tell 
her that she is too kind to be easily forgot and that it is not in 
my power (if I was wholly made up of ingratitude) to remove 
from my mind the reflection, at least of the many instances she 

From the portrait by Sir Joshua Rfynolds 



has given of her affection. I can't promise to repay her in any 
shape, for I can't foresee the possibility ; but the recollection 
must remain with me as long as I have the faculty of thinking. 
If Ld. G. Sackville's father is again Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 
youll see our colonel a very considerable man in that country ; 
we are to lose him without the hopes of finding his equal. 

It is almost sure that we will have Hamilton's Dragoons, 
and unless Col. Conway ^ falls to our share among the many that 
solicit, none will be found that can in any manner make amends 
for the loss of him. I have seen a letter this day which very 
nearly confirms his success to him and our unhappiness in that 
success, not but in justice we should rejoice at any good that 
befalls him, but that excellency is not found in our natures, and 
as sufferers, we complain. For my particular, I may expect his 
assistance whether he is with the Regiment or not ; he has given 
me such strong marks of esteem, that there can be little doubt. 
He goes to Ireland in 14 days without any thought of returning 
into this country, for some years. 

My shirts are come and fit me every way except that the 
ruffles make me a greater beau than I desire to be in this part 
of the world. I'm almost out of conceit with Scotland ; the 
season has been so unusually bad that it has been a summer lost 
to us. Such rains and winds as you might expect where you 
are in the month of November. I had very near relapsed for 
want of sun, and it is more or less cloudy every day. I am 
neither better nor worse in health. 

I heartily wish you both well and am, dear Sir, Your Most 
obedient and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

My duty to my Mother. 

Eleven days later he wrote to his mother. The summer of 
1749 would appear to have been a disastrous one in the north. 

To HIS Mother. 

Glasgow, 13 August J 1749. 

Dear Madam, — Any disorder that we have been accustomed 
to for any length of time, tho' not to be perfectly cured, often 
admits of some alleviation from our acquaintance with it and 

1 Conway, the friend of Walpole and afterwards Field Marshal, had just 
been made Colonel of the 29th Foot. 


the remedies presented ; but the uncommon manner in which 
yours has seized you makes me very apprehensive that the 
complaint is quite new and deserves your utmost attention.^ 

The elements seemed to have conspired against the face of 
the earth, first by the destruction of every kind of fruit, and 
now by endangering the harvest. There is not in the country 
a field of any sort of corn cut down. If the hand of the Lord 
be not upon them, they are in a terrible latitude. 

This is Sunday, and we are just come from Church. I have 
observed your instructions so religiously, that rather than avoid 
the word, I got the reputation of a very good Presbyterian, by 
frequenting the Kirk of Scotland till our chaplain appeared. 
I'm now come back to the old faith, and stick close to our 
communion. The example is so necessary, that I think it a 
duty to comply were that the only reason, as, in truth, it 
is not. 

To-morrow Lord George Sackville goes away, and I take 
upon me the difficult and troublesome employment of a com- 
mander. You can't conceive how difficult a thing it is to keep 
the passions within bounds, when authority and immaturity go 
together ; to endeavour at a character that has every opposition 
from within, and that the very condition of the blood is a 
sufficient obstacle to. Fancy you see me, that must do justice 
to good and bad ; reward and punish with an equal unbiassed 
hand ; one that is to reconcile the severity of discipline with the 
dictates of humanity; one that must study the tempers and 
dispositions of many men, in order to make their situation easy 
and agreeable to them, and should endeavour to oblige all 
without partiality, a mark set up for everybody to observe and 
judge of; and last of all, suppose me employed in discouraging 
vice and recommending the reverse at the turbulent age of 
twenty-three, when it is possible I may have as great a propensity 
that way as any of the men that I converse with ! 

My duty to my father. 

I am, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

At last the weather improved : and so had Wolfe's learning, 
so that he promises himself some recreation. 

1 What an age of ailmeuts, ignorance, quacks, and nostrums it was ! Mrs. 
Wolfe had sciatica, which as time went on hecame acute. In the mean time 
she was treated for several diseases. 


To HIS Mother. 

Glasgow, 8^A September^ 1749. 

Dear Madam, — I don't know how the mathematics may 
assist the judgment, but they have a great tendency to make 
men dull. I, who am far from being sprightly even in my 
gaiety, am the very reverse of it at this time. Fm heavier in 
discourse, longer at a letter, less quick at apprehension, and 
carry all the appearances of stupidity to so great a height, that 
in a little time they won't be known from the reality ; and all 
this to find out the use and property of a crooked line, which, 
when discovered serves me no more than a straight one, does 
not make me a joy more useful or more entertaining, but, on 
the contrary, adds to the weight that nature has laid upon the 
brain, and blunts the organs. 

I have been writing congratulatory letters to General Mor- 
daunt and Colonel Rich ; they are both quick-sighted men ; I 
wish they don't pass censure upon my labours, and criticize my 
style of writ (as 'tis termed here) ; but I could not deny myself 
the pleasure of assuring the General how glad I was of his 
success, and the Colonel that he had the fairest title to the gift, 
large as it is.^ 

I have got a gun from Mr. Barbour ; now I propose to amuse 
myself a little in that way, and in a few weeks I shall hunt. 
The regiment keeps hounds, and my horses are pretty good. 

I forgot in my last to speak of Captain Flight ; I know him 
quite well, and can assure those that inquire after him that 
there is nowhere a man of a better disposition. He is greatly 
esteemed among us, and by all his acquaintance ; 'twas the 
highest injustice of me not to mention him before, as I could 
not in truth say anything that was not to his advantage. My 
duty to my father. I am, 

My dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

A Lieutenant-Colonelcy was now in sight. Comwallis not 
returning to the regiment, Wolfe writes to his father — 

IQth September, 1749. 
Dear Sir, — Lord Tyrawley said humorously, being asked if 
the King spoke to him, and how he received his lordship, that 

^ Mordaunt had been appointed to the 10th Dragoons, and Rich succeeded 
Barrell as Colonel of the Fourth. 


" few words are best among friends."" The Duke has not kept 
you in suspense, from whence we may conclude — according to 
Lord Tyrawley — that our affairs are well there. I hope his 
Royal Highness will make such a choice as must oblige us to 
own his justice. If he is an older officer, it is to be supposed he 
is a better, and then there can be no complaints on our side. 
I have attained to such a height of indifference and diffidence 
together, that a denial sits very easy upon me. Frecjuent 
refusals might in time alienate my affections from the service, 
especially if many years are wasted in exile, with no very 
entertaining objects to employ the thoughts upon. 

The harvest throughout all the west of Scotland is utterly 
destroyed by the great rains that have fallen. They have a sad 
prospect for the winter, neither meal nor seed ; this destruction 
must bring a great dearth and the want will occasion vast riot 
and confusion particularly in this city. 

Arthur's ^ greatest suffering at Gibraltar seems to be the want 
of claret. I hope I have hit upon a method to send them some 

I cannot make an end of my letter without assuring you that 
the want of success in anything you undertake for me will never 
lessen the obligation and that one great reason why I w^ould 
wish better fortune is that I am persuaded you take so large a 
part in what concerns me that my prosperity would give you 
pleasure and anything that can increase your satisfaction here 
will add greatly to mine. My love to my mother. I am, dear 
Sir, etc. 

J. Wolfe. 

We can see in his letters at this time the ardent, aspiring 
young Major eating his heart out in Scotland. 


Glasgow, ^nd October j 1749. 
Dear Madam, — It will not be possible in my circumstances 
to get leave of absence for four months ; we can expect no such 
indulgence. A less time is not worth asking for, and therefore 
I'll pass the winter at Perth. I must hunt and shoot for exer- 
cise, and read for entertainment. After Christmas, when the 
company comes into Edinburgh, and the place is in all its 

^ Loftus. 


perfection of dirt and gaiety, 111 repair thither, and stay a 
fortnight or three weeks. It will help to dispel melancholy, 
and I have been told that a certain smell is a remedy for the 
vapours ; there I can't fail to meet the cure. 

This day fortnight we leave this town, and till we return to 
it cannot hope to find so good quarters. According to the rota- 
tion of the troops in Scotland, the sixth year brings us back : 
but 'tis a dreadful interval, a little life to a military man ; and 
for my particular, so far from being in love with the country, 
that I'd go to the Rhine, or Italy, nay, serve a campaign against 
the Turks, rather than continue in it the time I have mentioned, 
and that, too, in the very blooming season of our days. It is 
my misfortune to miss the improving hour, and to degenerate 
instead of brightening. 

Few of my companions surpass me in common knowledge, 
but most of them in vice. This is a truth that I should blush 
to relate to one that had not aU my confidence, lest it be 
thought to proceed either from insolence or vanity : but I think 
you don't understand it so. I dread their habits and behaviour, 
and forced to an eternal watch upon myself, that I may avoid 
the very manner which I most condemn in them. Young men 
should have some object constantly in their aim, some shining 
character to direct them. 'Tis a disadvantage to be first at 
an imperfect age ; either we become enamoured with ourselves, 
seeing nothing superior, or fall into the degree of our associates.^ 

I'll stop here that you might not think me very uneasy. As 
I now am, it is possible that I may be better pleased, but my 
duty and a natural indolence of temper make it less irksome ; 
and then a pretty constant employment helps to get me through, 
and secures me from excess of debauch. That, too, is enough 
prevented by the office of a commander. My duty to my father. 
I am, 

Your obedient and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

Mrs. Hooker's ^ is a terrible disorder. I know nothing that 
can alleviate her affliction but kindness and assiduity from her 
friends. I'm sure she may expect everything of that kind 
from you. 

^ " Our acting commander here is a Paragon. He neither drinks, curses, 
gamhles, nor runs after women. So we make him our pattern." Letter 
from Captain Macrae, Glasgow, November 16, 1749. 

2 His mother's neighbour at Greenwich. 


Wolfe had enjoyed no holiday all that year. He left Glasgow 
with regret, and on October 16 began the march to Perth. On 
the arrival of the 20th Regiment at Perth they learnt that his 
friend, Lord Bury, the same who had carried the tidings of 
Culloden to London, had been appointed colonel. He soon had 
letters from Lord Bury regarding the regiment which demanded 
careful attention. But his replies have apparently not been 

To HIS Mother. 

Perth, 16 December, 1749. 

Dear Madam, — You give the best reason in the world for 
continuing in the country so late as you did. Wherever my 
father and you have your health best, there I would wish you 
most, and as Greenwich seems to agree with both, the best thing 
you can do is to make it more agreeable by changing from a bad 
house, to a good one, from a low situation to a high one, and as 
near the park as possible. Do not be in any pain about me. 
When I am well all places will produce something to entertain, 
and when otherwise, it matters little where one is, the less 
trouble to our friends the better. You need not hurry your- 
selves about military promotions, for I take them to be at an 
entire stand for some time. When these things were to be had, 
I got my share, and (my necessary confinements excepted) have 
reason to be well enough satisfied with what has happened. 

1 am mighty glad Mrs. Hoskins' disorder does not turn out 
so dangerous as was apprehended. Her sweetness of temper and 
social disposition makes her too valuable not to fear her loss. 
The Duke of Montagu'*s death will be of advantage to the 
young lady,2 since his conversation (in your opinion) was not 
fitted for her tender ear. There is one kind of converse and dis- 
course with the men that is of great service to the other sex, 
and another as injurious, but it would take too much time to 
distinguish the two. However, it obliges me to observe to you 
that the women in this country partake very much of society 
with men, and by that means, gain a certain freedom of behaviour, 
uncommon in England, but which is nevertheless of great use to 
preserve them from the bad consequences of sudden surprise or 
novelty, and is a real protection to their virtue, though at times 
one would imagine that their easiness in some particulars lead 

^ I have made inquiries of the Keppel family, but without result. 

2 Miss Lawson. 


directly to the contrary.^ 'Tis a usual thing for the matrons to 
sit at table with the men till very late and concur in everything 
but the actual debauchery, and as the men warm at wine, they 
speak openly enough to give offence with us. 

This fresh disappointment in love has changed my natural 
disposition to such a degree, that I believe it is now possible 
I might prevail upon myself not to refuse twenty or thirty 
thousand pounds, if properly offered 1 Rage and despair do 
not commonly produce such reasonable effects ; nor are they 
the instruments to make a man's fortune by but in particular 

We have had the finest autumn season imaginable ; it has 
made us some amends for the bad summer. The month of 
November, so fatal to our countrymen, far surpassed anything 
that could be expected. 

You won't want diversion in London, if you will only think 
that it is of use to partake of them. The great secret of 
happiness in life is to employ every moment of our time, which 
can only be done with the help of great variety. My duty to 
the General. 

I am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

James Wolfe. 

Very different was Wolfe's Christmas at Perth to that of the 
previous year in Old Burlington Street. The new year was already 
imder way when he next writes to his mother. In this letter the 
reference to the young lady of Croydon deserves a word of ex- 
planation. It has already been seen that her son's attachment to 
Miss Lawson was by no means approved of by Mrs. Wolfe, and 
her obj ection she prudently based on the grounds of inadequate 
fortune. She and the General had other views for their son. They 
had " an eye upon a fortune of d£*30,000." The accompaniment of 
this very useful dowry was Miss Hoskins of Croydon. 

To HIS Mother. 

Perth, January \Qth, 1749. 
Dear Madam, — Since Lord George Sackville left the 
regiment I have changed my way of life. When we were at 
Glasgow together, I had taken that opportunity to acquire a few 

^ This observation has since frequently been made by observers of American 
life and manners. 


things that I was before ignorant of, and in which I might 
expect assistance from some of the people in the College. I was 
even so far engaged that I did not give up such a share of time 
and attention as was due to his Lordship : now all that is 
vanished, and I am entirely at leisure to prosecute such enter- 
tainments as I find of use to my health, and agreeable to my 
taste ; and, as the latter is generally subservient to the first, I 
have improved and strengthened my constitution beyond what 
I have hitherto known. 

Your letter confirmed some unsteady thought I had had of 
providing a little coarse linen ; and I made the purchase the day 
after I received it. Seven shirts at three shilling a yard will be 
durable wear. Yes, I shall be very rich whenever we meet : I 
have the talent for heaping up wealth ; and the temptation must 
be very great when I am persuaded to part with it. My 
Lieutenant Partridge came by here a few days since, and 
delivered Miss Hoskins's compliments. He is her neighbour at 
Croydon : he tells me he thinks her a complete woman, and 
advises me (as a friend) to make up to her. This is his counsel, 
and the manner in which he offered it. But he did not know 
Miss Lawson, he confessed that. I thank you for remembering 
my birthday. I had almost forgot it myself, and was in dispute 
about my own age, whether twenty-three or twenty-four. I 
believe the former. My duty to my Father. I am, dear Madam, 
Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 
To Mrs. Wolfe, 

in Old Burlington Street, London. 

One more than ever regrets the loss of the Wolfe-Bury corre- 
spondence after reading the first paragraph of the next letter because 
of the light it would shed on Highland affairs in the middle of the 

To HIS Father. 

Perth, January 31, 1760. 

Dear Sir, — My Colonel [Lord Bury] and I have a very exact 
correspondence. He is extremely bent upon procuring all the 
knowledge of regimental affairs that the distance between us will 
allow of; in order, I suppose, to make such alterations and 
amendments as seem requisite, and to be the better prepared 
against he comes amongst us. I answer his letters very 


punctually, and endeavour all in my power to satisfy him in such 
particulars as are properly within my sphere ; confining, however, 
my judgement of men and things to what is purely military, and 
belonging to my office. He can give you weekly intelligence as 
far as the assurance of a letter can go, whenever you are so good 
as to make enquiry after me. 

I have heard very lately from Gibraltar : both my friends, 
Loftus and Donnellan, seem to detest their situation, and are a 
little displeased with their Governor. They complain (particularly 
Donnellan) of being too strictly confined and of too much duty. 
These are real grievances at the end of seven campaigns, when 
men very naturally desire some respite from the fatigue of a 
soldier's life ; especially as they see almost all their brethren in 
ease and quiet. I am afraid General Bland is not quite so well- 
bred and so polite as might be wished ; he has a roughness about 
him that breaks out sometimes into ill-manners, when he is in 
any authority; though Sir J. Whiteford's personal merit or 
ability is not of the most eminent kind, and although there is 
another objection in some opinions to his success ; I can't help 
being pleased that the King has taken the first opportunity to 
give the officers of that regiment a mark of his favour ; as the 
corps in general do deserve well of their country, having given 
notable proofs of courage and fidelity throughout the war. 

I am glad that my cousin Goldsmith has at last got a 
company, I suppose it is so, and I daresay he is obliged to you 
for some assistance or if you have not done him service, I am 
sure there was no want of inclination in you to do it. All your 
relations will, I am persuaded agree, that, if they have deserved 
well of you, they have not found you backward. I wish you 
both much health and am, dear sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 
To Lieut. Gen. Wolfe, 
Old Burlington St. 

From the foregoing letter it will be inferred that old General 
Wolfe had some influence at head-quarters and was very benevolent 
towards his Irish relations. Captain Edward Goldsmith, of the 
31st (Otway's Regiment), was about Wolfe's age, a first cousin 
of Oliver Goldsmith the poet, and a godson of old General Wolfe. 

It was not to be supposed that with his disposition Wolfe would 
yield up his fair charmer without a struggle. Filial piety was one 


thing, and some youths now-a-days might think Wolfe carried it to 
an extravagant extent, but constancy to his mistress was another. 
Mrs. Wolfe having forbidden her son even to think of an alliance 
with Miss Lawson, seems to have regarded the affair as settled. 
She even ventured to say that she had seen the lady, who she 
averred was certainly about to be married to somebody else. 

To HIS Mother. 

Qth February, 1750. 

Dear Madam, — If I have at any time omitted writing it has 
never been either to avert it as a trouble or an intentional neglect 
of the two people in the world that I have the greatest love and 
regard for, and the highest confidence in, but, I believe, the 
want of something new may have stretched the interval a little 
longer than it ought to be. We are here so totally barren of 
everything that is amusing to ourselves or capable of diverting 
others, that we are actually almost at a loss for ideas. However, 
if you can be satisfied with a line or two I have no sort of excuse 

I believe you'll do me the justice to own that a gentle 
admonition from you has all the effect of the severest rebuke. 
I have as great a desire to make a return for your tenderness and 
friendship as I have to pay reverence to your parental authority. 
In short, I have a lasting remembrance of what I owe you both 
in duty and gratitude and am always concerned when you have 
any reason to think me forgetful. 

Your opinion of Miss Lawson has inflamed me anew, and 
you have exactly hit upon that part of her perfection (her 
behaviour) that worked the strongest upon me ; for I have seen 
a hundred handsome women before, and never was in love with 
one. How could you tell me that you liked her, and at the 
same time say her illness prevents her wedding ? I don't think 
you believe she ever touched me at all, or you could never speak 
with so much indifference of her ill-health and marriage, — the 
only things in relation to that lady that could give me the least 
uneasiness, except that I thought you were adverse to her ; and 
even that you have taken care to clear up by your approbation 
of her manners and person, and by that means have left me 
absolutely destitute of relief. 

I think I told you in one of my letters that Roland ^ was ill. 
1 His old servant. 


He has been in so terrible a condition for four months that I 
have hardly had any service from him. At length we thought 
it would be better to get him into Chelsea, which I have 
endeavoured to do to the utmost of my power. I did not 
mention it to my father, as I knew he does not love to be 
troubled with these sort of things ; nor did I tell Roland to 
wait upon you, concluding he would do that of course. But I 
perceive the poor fellow's modesty is greater than . . . Captain 
Wilson has undertaken to do his business, and he will tell you 
where the honest old servant is to be found. 'Twas death to me 
to part with him. It has made me vastly inconvenienced though 
accidentally I hired a tolerable English groom who does pretty 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

The good lady, Wolfe*'s mother, finding that her own authority 
was not sufficient to dismiss all thoughts of Miss Lawson from his 
mind, brought the GeneraPs weight to bear on the business. The 
old veteran though at heart a doting father wielded a blunt and 
heavy pen. He was no such suave and persuasive letter-writer as 
his next-door neighbour at Blackheath, the Earl of Chesterfield. 
" Enough of this philandering," " this obstinacy and perseverence 
in error,"'"' were phrases which he probably calculated would make 
the parental meaning clear. 

To HIS Father. 

Perth, Feb. l^th, 1750. 

Dear Sir, — Though I have frequently given you occasion to 
blame either my neglects or levity, I am not however conscious 
of ever having intended to give you any uneasiness by obstinacy, 
or perseverance in an error ; the high opinion I have all along 
entertained of your just sense of things, has always forced me to 
a proper submission to your will, and obliges me to acknowledge 
those actions to be actually wrong, when you think them so. 
Besides, I am so convinced of your sincerity and secure of your 
friendship that your advice cannot fail of its due weight, nor 
could I without the highest presumption differ from your 
sentiments in any of the concerns of life. As what I have said is 
the exact truth, I mention it by way of making a distinction 
between that part of my behaviour that is guided by reflection, 
and such steps as are the consequence of youth and inexperience, 

I 2 


or, that have no rule to go by and are the pure effects of chance ; 
but the main reason is to induce you not to look upon any slight 
omission, or inadvertancy as done with design to offend or 
displease ; so far am I from any such intention, that my greatest 
satisfaction is the means of contributing in some measure to 
your happiness. 

Lord Bury promises to be with us in a month, by that time 
the hunting or shooting season will be over, and we shall have 
little else to do than to march and wheel. My duty to my 

I am, dear sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

To Lieut. Gen. Wolfe^ 

Old Burlington Street. 

He still attempts to propitiate both parents for his presump- 
tion in continuing in love. 

To HIS Mother. 

Perth, March 9, 1750. 

Dear Madam, — I hope your long silence does not proceed 
from the continuance of your indisposition, I had rather it 
should have any other cause, though ever so unpleasant to 
myself; I desire you to think that I have undergone sufficient 
punishment, and judge, by the pleasure it gives me to hear 
from you. I'm sure you would not wish that the penalty should 
exceed the crime. 

Because it is probable that old Roland has before now thought 
of his duty and has been to pay his humble respects to you, 
perhaps some of your servants may know where the enclosed 
letter can reach him. I have therefore taken the freedom to 
put it within this frank, as the readiest and least expensive 
conveyance. He writes me for two suits of clothing, which he 
cannot but know are with the company ; my old Lieutenant 
promised to deliver them whenever they are called for, or send 
them by some favourable opportunity to London. People of 
Roland's stamp have their views so extremely narrow and are 
withal so very diffident, that they can hardly bring themselves 
to think there is common honesty in man. 'Tis, I suppose, 
because they meet with so much roguery amongst one another. 


There are in the neighbourhood of this place, some fine anti- 
scorbutic waters ; I will try whether they won''t be of use to 
remove a complaint in me; you may remember I have an 
irruption upon both hands in the summer, which I take to be 
the scurvy. 

If as we are told the two battalions are preparing to relieve 
part of the Mediterranean, my friends ^ in the King's Regiment 
will be very fortunate and very happy ; their having been at 
Gibraltar must recommend these more moderate climates ; and 
make them truly sensible of sweet variety and liberty. My duty 
to my father. 

I am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

Naturally he was most anxious about his long-awaited 

To HIS Father. 

Perth, 23 JlfarcA/ 1760. 

Dear Sir, — The words of Lord Bury''s two last letters seem 
calculated to make me imagine his lordship wishes me success, at 
the same time that they express his difference of it. I am not able 
to extract enough of his real opinion, to determine whether I am, 
or am not, to be his Lieutenant-Colonel. He says indeed, that the 
Duke is our friend, but does not affirm that he won't be prevailed 
upon, to give up this point. Lord George Sackville sent me the 
first information of the vacancy with the strongest assurances 
of his aid and service. As I know he is very sincere, I rely 
chiefly upon him. Whichever way the business turns, I shall 
be glad to know from you who the persons are that seem the 
most to concern themselves in it ; that I may thank them for 
their endeavours whether they succeed or not. 

I attribute my not having heard from you these three last 
posts to your earnest desire of sending such an account as I may 
depend upon, knowing what an enemy you are to the uneasy 
state of uncertainty and how backward to increase our doubts. I 
beg my duty to my mother and am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

^ Loftus and Donnellan. 


PS. — There has been nothing uncommon felt in the North, 
nor more shocking than usual. 
This postscript refers to the London earthquakes of 1750. 
Even as he penned the next letter the news of his appointment 

To HIS Mother. 

Perth, March 29th, 1750. 

Dear Madam, — 'Tis a vast accession to my successes in life 
that it never fails to give my father and you as much satisfaction 
as I myself am capable of receiving. That I have the happiness 
to be so far in your esteem and opinion as firmly to unite our 
interests I cannot doubt, especially as every day I see both in 
greater anxiety for what regards me alone, than for the highest 
of your own concerns. This is what increases and improves my 
good fortune, by making you partakers of it. The post to- 
morrow will bring me some positive account. As yet. Lord 
Bury has only said that the King has consented to the Duke''s 
recommendation. Former examples have taught me not to think 
the business done till Fm sure of it. The Duke himself has 
been sometimes disappointed when he has thought every obstacle 

If the cause of the earthquakes are natural (which I suppose 
they are), and to be accounted for, they are in the right who 
remove at a distance from the danger. There may be more 
moisture in some parts of the island than in others, and con- 
sequently less to be feared in those parts. Though these shocks 
are very unusual in England, and of course very terrible, I 
don't hear of much mischief following. It is to be hoped it will 
have a good effect. Most people imagine these tremblings super- 
natural, and such consciences as are under the heaviest loads of 
iniquity will tremble in proportion to that weight, and to the 
convulsions of the earth. 

I left my letter open till the post came in. Everything is 
confirmed without possibility of repeal. Fm very sensible of 
the greatness of the favour done me, and receive it with tolerable 
humility. This you would have a further proof of had you been 
by when the first advice came. I try to prevent its working too 
strongly upon me, that I may not disappoint the givers and 
those that rejoice. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 
J. Wolfe. 


At twenty-three, therefore, our hero found himself a Lieutenant- 
Colonel, a rank his father held at twice his age, and to which 
neither his grandfather nor his great-grandfather, though sterling 
soldiers, had attained in the army. Yet none who knew him 
grudged him this success, to celebrate which the officers of the 
20th gave a dinner, for which their " paragon " modestly returned 
his thanks and was a greater favourite with the regiment than ever. 



There is little doubt Wolfe owed his Lieutenant-Colonelcy 
directly to the recommendation of Lord George Sackville, who 
was then on intimate terms with the Duke of Cumberland, 
Commander-in-Chief. But when so many persons of influence 
had perceived his merit and urged his claims, promotion could 
not have been long delayed. 

To HIS Fathee. 

Perth, Qth April, 1750. 

Dear Sir, — The Duke's behaviour to you in the business of 
my promotion was right noble. As he made you very happy 
in the main point, your concession to my mother, by satisfying 
the desire she had of sending me the earliest intelligence, was in 
imitation of the example given us by that Prince, — that we are 
not only to enjoy the good that has fallen to us, but make other 
people partakers of it. 

The Duke has employed his power and influence upon this 
occasion where, at least, it is sure to be remembered. There are 
not many opportunities in life, and the prospect, as things stand 
at present, very distant ; but if ever he commands the army of 
this nation in its defence, I shall wish to be with him, and glad 
to contribute something to his success. This is the only return 
that can justly be made from me to him, and all, I believe, he 
would expect. I think myself much obliged to Lord George 
Sackville, and have writ him the strongest assurances of it. 
What he said some time ago to his Royal Highness left, no 
doubt, a favourable impression, and forwarded this succession. 
I did not forget to tell Colonel Napier ^ that some thanks are 
certainly due to him. The last three years of the war I was 
immediately about his person, and without his friendship and 
approbation things could not have gone on so smoothly. 

From a great deal of little trifling business I have fallen into 
a state of inactivity. If it were possible, while I am capable of 
improvement, and young enough to apply, I could wish to be 

1 William, Sixth Lord Napier. 


allowed an interval to be bestowed upon myself ; a year and a 
half or two years, would wear off the rough, unpolished coat, 
and give a gloss to all my future actions. It may be reasonably 
said that I have not for seven years past been at liberty to 
acquire the common accomplishments, much less to embellish or 
refine. Fm persuaded you would have thought it necessary, had 
not the war prevented your intentions, to have sent me from 
England to some place proper for the purpose. I hope you 
still think it not too late, and this the fairest opportunity. 
Turin seems the best calculated to answer my ends. I shall be 
glad to have your opinion, and to know whether you approve 
my choice and inclination, and what steps should be taken for 
effecting it. 

I have the pleasure of being known to Captain Wilkinson. 
He is a man of uncommon good character. I shall take 
particular care to show him all the civility in my power. It is 
always a very unfeigned grief to me when you labour under any 
affliction, but I am pleased to see that you expect some relief 
from the purer air. Let me only desire you use all the advan- 
tages of your situation to procure health. My duty to my 

I am, dear Sir, etc. 

This was followed the same month by a further letter, in which 
we find a reference to Jeffrey Amherst, his future chief in America. 

To HIS Father. 

Perth, 21th April, 1760. 

Dear Sir, — Tho' I did not answer your letter immedi- 
ately, 'twas not because I had not complied with your request, 
for by the return of that same post I writ a letter to Amherst 
and said everything that I thought could engage him to use his 
influence with Sir John Ligonier, and from my knowledge of 
him do not in the least doubt but he"*ll do his part to help 
forward Mrs. Scott's in so interesting a point as that of a provision 
for her son. I took great care to distinguish that the application 
was from me to him, and not from you to the General, because 
I perceive you don't desire to stand obliged to him, as if you 
did, you are undoubtedly the properest person to address one of 
Sir John's character and dignity. If I myself had any right to 
ask a favour of General Ligonier, I should have done it some 
time ago (in a like case) for a young gentleman of a good race. 


near Glasgow, who has in all shapes far superior pretensions to 
Mr. Scott, at least 1 imagine so. My Colonel L. Bury I find 
does not at all care that I should be absent for any considerable 
time, and so far from consenting to my going abroad he thinks 
it quite right that I should continue in Scotland till the begin- 
ning of November; tho"' this is by no means correspondent 
with my way of thinking. I am forced to submit, having really 
no choice. I can ask nothing of the Duke but by his will he 
ask a favour of another, that himself would refuse, so that I 
must lay aside the thought of any improvement of this kind, 
which, to speak the truth, I am already almost too old for. I 
am, nevertheless, still determined to employ some few years of 
my life in the real business of an officer, and not sacrifice all my 
time to idling, as our trifling soldierships. Some of the nations 
of Europe will soon give me an opportunity to put this resolution 
in practice. 

Admiral Boscawen''s return brings back my friend Brett. I 
will write him my sentiments upon his arrival in a few days and 
recommend them to my mother's care. I wish you both much 
health and peace, and am, 
Dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate Son, 

James Wolfe. 

I have this day answered a letter from my uncle Wolfe. 
He says he has writ to you about my journey to Turin. He 
certainly means well ; but I know it to be unnecessary and 
superfluous. What is to be done for my advantage you were 
never backward to comply with, nor need you any second 
application when the first appears reasonable, of which nobody 
will dispute your right of judging. 

Whether or no Wolfe was to go abroad he would certainly not 
go for the present. 

To HIS Mother. 

Perth, ^rd May, 1760. 

Dear Madam, — As I told my father in my last letter to 
him that my stay here for some months longer is determined, I 
have only to add that I regret the impossibility of any improve- 
ment in the way I proposed which you both so readily and 
cheerfully consented to, and am not a little concerned that it is 


not in my power to pass some part of the next summer at Green- 
wich, where I might expect as much happiness as the conversation 
of my best friends and so dehghtful a spot could procure me. 
Instead of this pleasing prospect my confinement is increased to 
six months more. By that time I shall be so heartily tired 
and in such a hurry to get to you that if I stop anywhere it 
will be at my Uncle Tin''s, and entirely in obedience to your 

The goat whey is said to have all the virtues mentioned in 
your letter for correcting the bad juices. I shall make trial 
of its efficacy in the beginning of June, and may reasonably 
expect some relief, but nothing would do me so much good 
or agree so well with my constitution as the air of Kent. It 
blows nowhere clearer or purer than upon Shuter"'s Hill or in 
the Park. 

My father''s ill-health cannot but be a great concern to you, 
and is no less so to me. The obstinacy of the disorder seems to 
baffle advice or care. Nothing is so likely to assist him and 
alleviate the pains as your tenderness for him. I have only one 
thing to say, which is, that as my father has already made as 
competent a provision for us both as is necessary for our well- 
being, no future views for you or me can any longer be looked 
upon as sufficient reasons to debar him any enjoyment which it 
is possible to procure him in this life ; so don't wait for me to 
take such resolutions as you think most agreeable to this 

It gives me vast pleasure that Mr. Swinden is in so fair a 
way of obtaining the character of a father; his understanding 
and good temper fit him for the education of children, and Mrs. 
Swinden is herself so fine a woman that my friend has a right 
to expect proper objects for his care. I can't imagine anything 
imperfect can be produced from so complete a woman. 

Miss Frances Thompson's marriage ^ is as pleasant a thing as 
I have heard of a good while past. I suppose the man's a philo- 
sopher and has taken her to try how much he can bear and 
what mankind with the assistance of reason and learning is 

1 Mrs. Wolfe's sister, Frances, married Stephen Abthorpe, D.D., Fellow 
of Eton, step-brother of William Cole. The latter speaks of his nieces 
Frances and Anne Abthorpe as first cousins to Wolfe. Mrs. Abthorpe died in 
1755. — Wright. Mrs. Abthorpe was very eccentric and soon developed a 
fatal religious mania from hearing Whitefield preach. 


capable of suffering. I hope, as a grammarian, he does not 
depend upon his rhetoric to keep her in good humour. 

In duty to my father, etc. 

The Captain Trapaud mentioned in the letter ensuing was 
afterwards to become the Governor of Fort Augustus and the 
host of Dr. Samuel Johnson. 

To HIS Father. 

Perth, 29 May, 1750. 

Dear Sir, — Though I can say little more to you than that 
I have no complaint, yet as you are so good to say it is agree- 
able to you to hear even that, I have no right to dispense with 
that prerogative, nor inclination to omit what you desire should 
be done. I am going into the country for a fortnight or three 
weeks, there I shall drink goat whey, rather to purify the blood 
from unclean food and irregular living, than as a remedy to any 
certain known distemper. 

A month's easterly wind that has blasted almost every plant 
and tree, has not been able to make me shake, so I have reason 
to think there is no remains of an ague in me. 

Lord Bury sets out tomorrow for Fort William. He goes 
through great part of the Highlands, visits and examines most 
of the fortresses, and new-made roads, (I suppose by order) stays 
away eighteen or twenty days, and three weeks after his return, 
flies to England. This regiment has undergone a surprising 
change in a few months. Trapaud, who waited upon you in 
September or October last, then the youngest captain, is now the 
second, or will be so in a very short time. The present vacancy 
by the death of a captain, we are told, is to go in the regiment, 
to the great satisfaction of the poor subalterns, who have been 
often overlooked. Colonel Rich is with his battalion at Fort 
William in health and great spirits ; he does not leave Scotland 
till they change quarters, and are settled for the winter at 

My duty, if you please, to my mother, I wish you all 
imaginable happiness and am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

His application on behalf of his mother's friend, Mrs. Scott, 
was not successful at that time. 


To HIS Mother. 

Perth, 31*^ May, 1750. 

Dear Madam, — I send you Colonel Amherst's answer to me, 
that Mrs. Scott may see what is to be expected, and take her 
resolutions accordingly. Fm very well persuaded that Amherst 
has done his part, and I hope you will be convinced that I have 
not been wanting on mine. It was easy to foresee the answer ; 
because nobody I believe, doubts but that H.R.H. disposes of all 
the employments in the Corps of Artillery, as much as if he was 
Grand Master, and as he has their well-being vastly at heart, he 
will take pains to place proper people to the vacancies that men 
of abilities may appear amongst them. This resolution of his, 
should not, I daresay, exclude the young gentleman in question, 
because, as Mrs. Scott is a lady of good sense, she will have 
prepared her son for the world, by the best education in her 
power to procure him ; but the great difficulty is to convince 
the Duke of that and get his name enrolled in the book of pre- 
ferment, though it should be even at the end of the list. As 
you were very desirous to bring about this affair to Mrs. Scott's 
satisfaction it gave me great concern to observe that all the 
sincerity and good inclinations of my friend Amherst could not 
effect it, and that I got no other return to my request then 
his wishes to serve us, expressed with much civility and good 
nature. Accidents have hindered us hitherto from going into 
the country, there seems no obstacle left now, and I intend to 
leave this place in two days, and on the third begin drink the 
goat whey. My duty to the General. 
I am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

The old General had had information from one Captain 
Hindes, whom he met in London, that the 20th was to depart 
immediately. Wolfe explains that this was an error. 

To his Father. 

Perth, June 22, 1750. 

Dear Sir, — When Lord Bury went into the Highlands, I 
left Perth in order to drink the goat whey. His return has 
brought me back to the regiment much sooner than I should 
have come, had I considered my health only, but something is 
due to him in this country where the want of proper company 


makes his stay here very unpleasant. The officers of the regi- 
ment are vastly dispersed ; and he is sometimes at a loss for 
people to converse with. He expects leave to retire very soon, 
and certainly won't stay long after obtaining it. 

I drank the whey and went into a cold bath fourteen days, 
in that time I found such an alteration for the better, that, if I 
had been at liberty to continue that way of life a month longer, 
I make no doubt but it would have been of considerable advan- 
tage. The march of two companies into Angus has perhaps 
made Mr. Hindes imagine that the whole battalion was to 
change their quarters, especially as Pulteney''s moved early in 
the summer to Aberdeenshire, but it is not probable that we 
shall leave Perth before the middle of October. It will take 
the remainder of that month to clothe the men, and settle them 
in their new quarters, and that is what Lord Bury expects I 
should see done. 

Hindes is lately made a Captain Lieutenant in the Artillery ; 
he has risen from a low degree, by constant application and good 
behaviour. He has uncommon civility in his way, and I believe, 
many valuable qualities. His successor in the company died a 
few days after his arrival. I had information from a very safe 
hand, that it was your intention to make no distinction between 
the Major and Lt. Colonel in one particular. I proceeded upon 
those grounds, and have as appears by your letter conformed to 
your inclination, which in this and everything else I always find 
to be greatly in my favour. My duty to my mother. 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

It will be remembered that Colonel Lafausille, now actual 
commander of Wolfe's regiment, was the officer who ravaged the 
country of the rebels after Culloden. 

To HIS Father. 

Perth, nth July, 1750. 

Dear Sir, — You'll be perhaps surprised that Lord Bury 
should be refused leave to go to England ; the King's absence 
is given as a reason for keeping as many officers as possible to 
their duty : and though he had got to Edinburgh in his 
way to Raby Castle a letter met him there that changed his 


Everything in Scotland is in the most perfect calm and 
quiet. But late discoveries have made it very apparent that 
the tranquillity of this country is nohow so well secured as 
by a considerable armed body ; and such a body is now so 
disposed throughout the whole Highlands that any attempt 
must be crushed in the beginning. The Highlanders are so 
narrowly watched that they are even forced to abandon their 
favourite practice of stealing cattle, and are either reduced to 
live honestly and industriously, or starve through excess of 

Since I writ my last letter to you, I have been in a country 
where Colonel Lafausille's name is still dreadful in their ears, 
and where we have a detachment chiefly intended to prevent the 
officers of the Scotch regiments in the French service from 
recruiting. I went three days successively a-shooting in the hills 
from five in the morning till night. I never knew such fatigue. 
Some amends were made us by the quantity of game and ele- 
gance of the sport ; but I, who am a very bad shot, had an equal 
share of the labour and less of the entertainment. 

Some officers of other regiments are come to Scotland from 
Gibraltar. Most of them are very well pleased with the place 
and don't express any dislike to return there. Indeed they are 
Scotch, a set of men particularly in the esteem of the present 
governor (who was thought to be a good deal under that influ- 
ence here). But it is not much to be wondered at that they are 
contented in any part of the world ; for I'm sure their native 
lot is fallen in a barren ground. 

I have not received a letter from my mother, I think, these 
six weeks. Your reasons for her not writing are very unpleasing 
ones, as they convince me that she is rather worse even than you 
describe. 'Tis an unhappy distemper and the pain intolerable. 
She has my sincere and constant wishes for her welfare. I beg 
my duty to her and am, dear Sir, 

J. Wolfe. 

PS. — I have some thoughts of going this winter into Lor- 
raine, to Metz, or Thionville, if you approve the notion. If I 
am to be absent from the regiment, I suppose it is the same 
thing to the Duke where I am, but to myself of vast importance. 
I want to be perfect in the French language. There is a fine 
academy of artillery and the business of an engineer at Metz. 
I shall be glad of your opinion, by which I shall always be 


regulated. A winter idly spent in London (and 'tis difficult not 
to spend it idly) would, at this time, be of sensible prejudice ; 
perhaps infuse such notions and inclinations as are not to be got 
the better of. 

Wolfe's scorbutic trouble grew more pronounced and he made 
valiant efforts to counteract it. 

To HIS Mother. 

Perth, Uth July, 1750. 
Dear Madam, — I persuaded myself that this post would 
have brought me some news of your health, and such as I should 
have reason to be pleased with ; I want to see it under your own 
hand, 'tis to me the most agreeable proof of your recovery, 
though one that I could wish never to stand in the need of. I 
don't think since my first leaving you there ever has been so long 
an interval of silence on your part, which I am afraid does but 
too manifestly imply your want of health, you are otherwise too 
good to refuse me a satisfaction that I have always justly 
reckoned amongst the greatest of my life. My former com- 
i plaint, which is now pronounced and declared to be the scurYy, 
[has broken out again with more violence than ever; so that 
necessarily some more violent remedy must be applied. I am a 
little surprised at this second appearance, as my way of living 
has been of late an example of regularity ; I have never drank, 
and do upon all occasions abstain from strong food ; and in 
general eat very moderately, so that there must have been in my 
constitution a strong propensity to that disorder ; all mankind 
more or less have the seeds of it in their blood, and it discovers 
itself, I suppose, in proportion to the encouragement it meets 
with ; though this seems to be contradicted in me ; to remove 
all apprehensions on your side, I must acquaint you, that it never 
has or does, break out, anywhere but upon my hands, a part the 
least affected by most other distempers. I heartily wish you 
well and hope to hear soon that you are so. 
I am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son 

J. Wolfe. 

Although a great deal of correspondence had passed between 
Lord Bury and his Lieutenant-Colonel in the Highlands, yet the 
former had not yet visited the regiment. Wolfe was snatching a 


brief holiday in the country when he had word that the new 
colonel was coming to Perth. He, therefore, returned to that 
city towards the end of June, and got the regiment into condition 
for inspection. Bury w£is a man of fashion, and by no means 
inclined to waste much time in such a God-forsaken spot as the 
Highlands. Three weeks sufficed for him to leave London, review 
his regiment, look in at Stirling, Perth and Fort Augustus, and 
return. He found, as he expected, that he had a good man to take 
the work off his hands, and was by no means inclined to listen 
sympathetically to Wolfe's cherished plan of a long furlough or 
one which could take place immediately. There was a great deal 
of regimental labour in getting the men properly equipped, and 
August and September and October wore away and found him still v 
at Perth and its neighbourhood, dreaming of perfecting his mili- 1 
tary education at Metz or Thionville. As the summer wore on, 
however, Wolfe's health and spirits improved. 

To HIS Mother. 

Perth, 13^A August, 1750. 

Dear Madam, — Though your letter has in it some unpleasant 
particulars, the weak condition of your health is by far the more 
so. It is easy for us all to bear up against attacks of a lesser 
kind, but to be disabled and cut off by distemper from the enjoy- 
ment of life and common tranquillity is the heaviest of all calami- 
ties. For some years past we have begun a course of good for- 
tune, preserved and protected where was most need, and, my 
brother's death excepted, free from affliction. We may make 
some allowance now, and, for my part, who am likely to be the 
greatest sufferer by any diminution of the stock, I can easily 
console myself for losses that way. All I desire is, that you two 
may meet with no disturbance to your own persons, but pass 
your days in health and peace. I heartily wish that these lighter 
accidents may not interrupt your felicity, which I would have 
fixed upon the firmest foundation. 

It is extremely good in you to endeavour to set the business 
of the mortgage in a clear light, as the motive to that under- 
taking is of a generous nature. I am persuaded the sums will 
answer your expectation. If not we are only where we were ; 
for it has long been thought desperate. It will be some satisfac- 
tion that we have not been wanting on our side to recover what 
the neglect of our pretended friends had thrown away. 

I have but just returned from Lord Glenorchy's, where I 


stayed a week. Lady Glenorchy is your acquaintance, and 
expresses a great regard for you. She says you have surprising 
luck at quadrille, and bid me tell you she wishes it may continue. 
The poor woman is in a state of banishment; she hates the 
country and dislikes the inhabitants. Her love to her husband, 
and immoderate fondness of her young son, are just enough to 
make her stay tolerable. They invited and entertained me with 
all imaginable civility.^ 

George Warde made me a visit of four days. I could not 
help being astonished at the strength of his understanding which 
I never discovered so fully before. To that he has added a just 
and upright way of thinking very uncommon, and the strictest 
morals of any young man amongst my acquaintance ; this last 
won't surprise you, because he was never reckoned vicious. He 
is extremely indifferent to preferment and high employment in 
the army, partly from his defect of speech, but principally from 
an easiness, or rather indolence, of temper that make him unfit 
to bear a heavy part in life. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

His next epistle is full of his French project. ^ 

To HIS Father. 

Perth, \st September, 1750. 
Dear Sir, — I am glad to have your approbation in whatever 
I undertake, especially in those things that are most worth your 
consideration, and are of importance to myself. The assurances 
you give me of your assistance are kind and friendly. If the 
request be properly examined, there can be no objection to it ; 
for I ask no more than an opportunity to be better acquainted 
with the duty of an officer, and to have it in my power to speak 
the French language correctly, — a language that is now in such 
general use. For idleness or amusement I need not go out of 
London, or at least not further than Paris ; but as the business 
I am going upon will require all my labour and attention, I 
chuse to be at a distance from any temptation. If the Duke 
consents, it will be with regret ; for the perfection of military 
knowledge, in his Royal Highness''s eye, is the command of a 
regiment to men of our rank, and his notion of care and diligence 

^ Viscount Glenorchy, son of the third Earl of Breadalbane, resided at 
Balloch Castle, near Perth. His wife was Willielma, daughter of William 
Maxwell of Perth. 


centres entirely in sticking eternally at the same point, viz. the 
battalion ; though I could undertake to make it appear that 
nothing is more necessary towards doing one"'s part well than a 
little respite at convenient seasons. 

Lord Bury, too, will with difficulty be brought to hearken to 
such a proposal. I intend to try him in a post or two, and ask 
ten months' leave at once. Though I have all the reasons in the 
world to be satisfied with his behaviour to me, yet there are 
many circumstances that foretell his opposition ; but the manner 
in which he will express himself will leave me no room to be dis- 
pleased even with a denial on his part, or rather he''ll endeavour 
to satisfy me of his good intentions, and fix the refusal some- 
where else. 

I shall be cruelly disappointed if this fails, for my time of 
application will soon be over, and the sooner by the discourage- 
ment and mortification that follow the disappointment. If 
General Mordaunt is in town, I can write to him. He may say 
something upon the occasion that might be serviceable. 

Donnellan complains bitterly of Gibraltar ; he desires me to 
speak to you in favour of him, but as it is a regimental business, 
I shall be tender, though I heartily wish he could be indulged. 

The letter you enclosed is quite unintelligible. Either the 
writer meant to be perfectly facetious, or the letter is not come 
to the proper person, for it is in a character that I am 
unacquainted with.^ 

I beg my duty to my mother. 

And am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

The Wolfes at Greenwich were now seeking for another house. 

To HIS Mother. 

Perth, 23rd September , 1750. 

Dear Madam, — I am a little later in answering your letter 
than I ought to be. The truth is, I have been at a gentleman's 
house in the country, where they would not allow me leisure 
even to do the most pleasing parts of my duty, and hindered me 
from writing to you. I'm sorry to hear that knavery has crept 
into your town, and to your very doors. These are interrup- 
tions and inconveniences in life that we are in England very 
much troubled with, and yet much more to be desired than the 

^ A missive from a lady, complaining of Colonel Wolfe's neglect of the sex, 

K 2 


murdering bloody genius of the other nations. The mildness of 
our laws does not enough discourage the practice of robbing, but 
• in a great measure prevents the terrible effects of despair. 

I hope Lady Vanbrugh will accept your offer, or if she does 
not, I hope youll come up to her price. A good and healthy 
situation can't be purchased at too high a rate, and the Castle 
you speak of, if I remember right, is so situated. ^ I want to 
have you well fixed in a comfortable house in a wholesome air, 
and when you procure that for yourselves, you'll help me to a 
great share of tranquillity that I am unacquainted with, while 
there remains anything to be done that can furnish you with 
the means of happiness. I give you my word that though I 
have in myself a wandering and unsettled turn of mind, regard- 
less of any fixed condition, and indifferent as to many of the 
great concerns of life, yet I am perfectly steady when I consider 
of your well-being, and earnestly bent upon seeing you in quiet 
possession of the few things that are necessary to satisfy your 
moderate desires. I am delighted to hear you say my father has 
been so well this summer. Am I never to eat figs with him in 
his own garden ? How readily could I resign my military 
authority, and lay down my command, for the pleasure of 
walking with him upon the dry ground and gathering his 
fruit ! 

There's no fish in this part of the world but salmon ; in the 
Orkneys and Shetlands there are various kinds, and well cured. 
I don't believe it will be difficult to get what you want, though I 
have not the best talents for those sort of things. In this I 
resemble a friend of yours most exactly. I wish there was as 
strong a resemblance in many other respects. I never give any- 
thing away that I intend for you, but I think the hood is hardly 
worth your acceptance. I believe my father did not get the 
skins I brought from Holland. I have sent to Norway for most 
elegant furs ; enough for linings of all sorts. 

My journey to London will be very short, if the Duke gives 
me leave to go abroad ; if not, I move but slowly, and visit my 
uncle Tin and the rest. It matters little what season of the 
year I travel in, for I am absolutely as hard as flint, and can 

^ Vanbrugh Castle, Blackheath, built by the famous architect and 
dramatist. It was occupied by his widow, who survived him fifty years. 
She sold it eventually to Lord Tyrawley, who, in turn, disposed of the 
property to Charles Brett, the Wolfes' friend at Greenwich. 


bear all the extremes of heat and cold that are known in these 
climates with great ease. 

My duty, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 
I regret Mrs. Cade's misfortune.^ 

At the beginning of October the regiment assembled at 
Dundee for the purposes of being equipped with clothing, etc., and 
for the next four or five weeks Wolfe had his hands full. Yet he 
found time for a long letter to Rickson. 

To Captain Rickson. 

Dundee, October y 1750. 
Dear Rickson, — You were embarked long before I thought 
you ready for your expedition (to Nova Scotia) and sailed before 
I could imagine you on board. I intended to have bid you fare- 
well, and sent my good wishes to attend you. Indeed, I was not 
without hopes of hearing from my friend before he went off; for 
upon such changes he seldom forgot to make me acquainted with 
his destination. I am not entirely indifferent as to what befalls 
you, and should have been glad to know how such an under- 
taking as this is, agreed with your way of thinking ; and 
whether, after a good deal of service you would not rather have 
sat down in peace and rest ; or if your active spirit prompts you 
to enterprise, and pushes you to pursuits new and uncommon ; 
whether this, (the expedition) certainly great in its nature, suits 
your inclination. Since I cannot be clearly informed of these 
matters till I hear from you I shall content myself with enter- 
taining some conjectures that are favourable to your interests. 
You are happy in a governor ; and he'll be happy to have one 
near him that can be so serviceable to him as you have it in your 
power to be. I dare say you are on good terms together, and 
mutual aid will confirm your former friendship. He will require 
from you industry and assiduity ; and in return you may expect 
his confidence and trust. I look upon his situation as requiring 
one of his very way of thinking, before all things else : for to 
settle a new colony, justice, humanity and disinterestedness are 
the high requisites ; the rest follows from the excellent nature 
of our Government, which extends itself in full force to its 
remotest dependency. 

^ She had been robbed, while under the Wolfes' roof, by a Scotch footman 
(" James ") who decamped. 


In what a state of felicity are our American colonies com- 
pared to those of other nations ; and how blessed are the 
Americans that are in our neighbourhood above those that 
border upon the French and Spaniards. A free people cannot 
oppress ; but despotism and bigotry find enemies among the 
most innocent. It is to the eternal honour of the English nation 
that we have helped to heal the wound given by the Spaniards 
to mankind by their cruelty, pride and covetousness. Within 
the influence of our happy Government, all nations are in 
security. The barrier you are to form, will, if it takes place, 
strengthen ourselves, protect and support all our adherents ; and 
as I pretend to have some concern for the general good, and a vast 
desire to see the propagation of freedom and truth, I am very 
anxious about the success of this undertaking, and do most 
sincerely wish that it may have a prosperous issue. I think it is 
vastly worth your while to apply yourself to business, you that 
are so well acquainted with it : and without any compliment, I 
may venture to assert that Cornwallis has few more capable to do 
him, and the public, considerable service than yourself. 

I beg you will tell me at large the condition of your affairs 
and what kind of order there is in your community ; the notions 
that prevail ; the method of administering justice ; the distribu- 
tion of lands, and their cultivation ; the nations that composed 
the colony and who are the most numerous ; if under military 
government, how long that is to continue ; and what sect in 
religious aflairs is the most prevailing. If ever you advise upon 
this last subject, remember to be moderate. I suppose the 
Governor has some sort of council, and should be glad to know 
what it is composed of. The southern colonies will be concerned 
in this settlement, and have probably sent some able men to 
assist you with their advice, and with a proper plan of adminis- 
tration. Tell me likewise what climate you live in, and what 
soil you have to do with ; whether the country is mountainous 
and woody, or plain ; if well watered. 

I see by a map (now before me) that you are between 
44 and 45 degrees of latitude ; in most parts of Europe the 
air is warmer by several degrees, because we are sheltered by the 
prodigious forests of Norway and Lapland from the north winds. 
I am afraid you are more exposed ; your great cold continent to 
the north may exert some severe effects upon you. Direct to me 
at your agent's ... If you think I can serve you or be of any 
use, I ... I will send you anything you have a mind for, when 


. . . directions to have it sent for I expect ... to go abroad 
for eight or ten months ; do not let the circumstance prevent you 
from writing. I set out for London next week if it is allowed, 
shall be in less than forty days settled at Metz, in Lorraine, 
where I propose to pass the winter ; you will easily guess my aim 
in that. I intend to ramble in the summer along the Rhine 
into Switzerland, and back through France and the Netherlands 
and perhaps more. I hope you have a good provision of books. 
Rutherford has published his ; and there is a Frenchman has told 
me many excellent truths, in two volumes, entitled, " L'Esprit 
des Lois."" ^ It is a piece of writing that would be of great use 
where you are. Will you have him .? 

Tell Cornwallis that I thank him for making me a Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel 2 (which, by-the-bye, you did not take the least 
notice of) ; if I was to rise by his merit, as upon this occasion, I 
should soon be at the top of the list. He promised to write to 
some of us, but has not : they are not the less ardent for his 
prosperity ; and the whole corps unites in one common wish for 
his welfare and success. Pray tell him so, as you may do it safely. 

Your old corps comes back from Gibralter next summer. 
Do you know that Conway has got a company over Thompson 
by Elkins's death ? I will correspond constantly with you in 
whatever part of the world we happen to be thrown, provided 
you do not force me, by neglect, to leave off writing. We have 
but this one way left to preserve the remembrance of each other 
as lively as I could wish, and as I hope you do. The old General 
(his father) your friend, preserves his health, and is ... he has 
often wished to have you again in his regiment. Farewell ! I 
am most affectionately, my dear Rickson, 

Your faithful friend, 

J. Wolfe. 

After all the young officer'*s hopes and aspirations, it was cer- 
tainly a little staggering, when his leave of absence came at last to 
have it accompanied by Lord Bury'*s intimation that the Com- 
mander-in-Chief objected to his going abroad. Farewell then to 
his dreams of Metz or Thionville. It was a cruel blow, and illus- 
trates either Cumberland's narrowness or else his fear that Wolfe, 
disgusted with the prospects his profession held out to him in 
Britain, would be tempted to enter the Prussian service. 

1 Montesquieu's. First published at Geneva in 1748. 
^ See ante, p. 119. 


To HIS Father. 

Dundee, ^th October, 1750. 
Dear Sir, — Though I ought never to make you any excuse, 
because it ought never to be necessary, I can safely say that I 
have had something to do for this week past. When a regiment 
moves from one set of quarters to another, you know the 
commanding officer may find full employment. The last division 
came to the Town on October 1st, and we have ever since been 
intent upon getting the companies that axe to move in condition 
to march. It will be the 20th before my part is done and about 
the 24th, if no accident prevents it, and my leave is granted in 
form, I shall set out for England. In my Lord Bury's last 
letter I am told not to think of going abroad, for that H. Pitt 
is against it. I acquiesce for this single reason : that there is a 
necessity to submit, though my inclinations lead me a different 
way. How much does the Duke mistake my sentiments, or how 
greatly does he oppose the only method that can be fallen upon 
to preserve any knowledge of military affairs in the army. I 
shan't say to introduce it, for infinite pains have been taken to 
make us acquainted with some particular branches, which yet, do 
not amount to all that may be required from an officer. I 
believe you would be very glad to see your son from amongst the 
ignorant, and wish to have a representative something worthy of 
yourself; from which I conclude, that your concern at this dis- 
appointment will not be less than mine. 

Spending a couple of days in Edinburgh, on November 4 
Wolfe took the stage coach to York, making the journey in 
about thirty-six hours. 

To HIS Mother. 

York, Qth November, 1750. 

Dear Madam, — As I am excessively fatigued you'll excuse 
my giving you a very short account of myself. I set out from 
Edinburgh on Sunday the 4th inst, and came that day to Belford 
with the most favourable weather imaginable. Yesterday I 
travelled from Belford to Durham in a storm of wind and rain, 
and this day reached this city by 7 at night, though opposed 
by many difficulties, of which the overflowing of some rivers were 
not the least. I beg my duty to my Father, and am 

Dear Madam, etc. 

J. Wolfe. 


From thence he did not fail to call upon his maternal relations 
the Thompsons and Sotherons ^ at Sotterington, Pomfret and Terry- 
bridge. On the 14th he arrived in the capital, thinking to go on 
to Greenwich to join his parents, but they had already changed 
quarters for town. 

No more serious wound could have been given to Wolfe than 
the thwarting of his dearest wishes which the Commander-in-Chief, 
abetted and instigated by Lord Bury, had inflicted. It was a 
serious crisis in our young hero''s life thus to be condemned to pass 
a whole winter amidst the follies and the vices and the idleness of 
London when the capital was already odious to him by reason of 
his disappointment in love. Wolfe was a youth of singularly strong 
character. He had always despised the follies and the excesses of 
many of his brother officers. Everything in the tone of the age 
favoured a weakening of the moral fibre ; it was the age par excel- 
lence of the rake, the gambler, and the wine-bibber. Profligacy and 
idleness, however, offered few attractions to the youthful lieutenant- 
colonel. Vice was not in his composition. But he was supremely 
miserable. For a fortnight he sought to drown his sorrow in a 
flood of Westminster eloquence. He attended the debates in 
Parliament, and took the measure of the orators and politicians of 
the day. One debate particularly interested him — that relating to ^ 
Nova Scotia and the American Colonies, yet, perhaps, with no pre- 
sentiment of what awaited himself across the Atlantic. He could *j 
no longer contain himself. Some hasty words of his provoking a 
scene with his parents he abruptly quitted their roof, and plunged for 
the first and only time in his life in the dissipations of London. The 
cause of the quarrel was, of course, Miss Lawson. He bridled when 
his mother repeatedly termed it as a senseless passion, but the flood- 
gates of his anger were opened wide indeed when Mrs. Wolfe hinted 
at the gallantries of his inamorata's mother. He hotly repelled the 
insinuation, and demanded who dared to say such a thing, and was 
told that his old friend, Charles Brett, knew all about it. His in- 
dignation was scarcely lessened when his mother urged him to pay 
his suit to Miss Hoskins, the Croydon heiress, and perhaps he felt 
some malicious pleasure a few weeks later when he heard that John 
Warde of Squerryes had already proposed for that young lady's 
hand and been accepted. They were married in February 1751. 

^ ''The Sotherons," says Burke, ''have been most respectably settled on 
their own estates at Holm, Spaldingmore, in the East Riding, and Hook in the 
West Riding, for more than two centuries." William Sotheron, Esq., of 
Pontefract, had married Mrs. Wolfe's sister Lucy, co-heiress of her brother, 
Tindal Thompson. The family is now represented by Lord Estcourt. 


Meanwhile Wolfe fell ill and lay for some weeks in a state of great 
weakness and misery. When he had patched himself together, he 
took a formal leave of his parents and rejoined his regiment in 

Before his departure he addressed a short letter to his friend 

To Captain Rickson. 

Old Burlington Street, March lUh, 1751. 

Dear Rickson, — I writ to you six months ago ; but as you 
took no notice of my letter, I conclude you did not receive it ; 
nay I am almost sure you did not receive it, because I ask'd a 
favour of you which I think you would not have refused me. I 
desired you to inform me of the condition of your new colony 
(Nova Scotia, which I have much at heart), and was not a little 
curious to know your particular employment and manner of 
living. Though I have a deal to say to you, I can't speak it 
just now, for I am confined in point of time ; but as I have the 
same regard and friendship for you that I always had, I have the 
same desire to cultivate our good understanding. Write to me 
then, and forget nothing that you imagine can give me light into 
your affairs. I am going to Scotland in ten days ; your agent 
will forward a letter to me there. 

The young gentleman who delivers my letters has served in 
the regiment with me. Want of precaution and not want of 
honesty, obliges him to leave it. Youll learn his story from 
Cornwallis. I desire you to countenance and assist him a little 
and I hope you may not think any services that you may do him 
thrown away. May you be healthy and happy. I shall always 
wish it with great truth. 

I am, dear Rickson, 

Your affectionate friend, 

J. Wolfe. 

(This letter is marked "Answered July 22, 1751.^') 
In April 1751 the head-quarters of the regiment were at 
far-distant Banff. 

Banff* at this time was dreary, cold and remote, and the 
first few weeks of his sojourn there must have required all the 
philosophy of the young lieutenant-colonel.^ Solitude brought 

1 '^ Few places/' observes Wright, '' were worse calculated to ' pluck from 
the memory a rooted sorrow.' Exposed to the storms of the North Sea, it 


its reaction. Wolfe's eye was turned inward upon himself. He 
longed for the society of his own friends, and having abundant 
leisure, if any man with his duties to perform could be said to have 
abundant leisure, indulged in long letters to them. One addressed 
to Captain Rickson well deserves to be given in full — 

To Captain Rickson. 

Banff, QthJuney 1751. 

My dear Friend, — I am prepared to assist you in your 
apology whenever you think it requisite ; But I desire you will 
never assign that as a reason for not writing, which, in my 
opinion, should prompt you for it. Attachments between us of 
certain characters do generally arise from something alike in their 
natures, and should never fall from a certain degree of firmness, 
that makes them the same all the world over, and incapable of 
any diminution. I have, as you justly acknowledge, a persever- 
ance in friendship, that time, nor distance, nor circumstances, 
can defeat — nay, even neglect can hardly conquer it ; and you are 
just as warm and as near me, in North America, as you would 
be upon the spot. 

I writ to you from London, and sent my letter by one that I 
recommend for your countenance. I hope what has befallen 
him will be a shield against accidents of that sort for the future. 
When I writ that letter, your poor friend was in the most dis- 
tress, otherwise you should have had more of me. It is not an 
hour since I received your letter. I shall answer all the parts of 
it as they stand in their order ; and you see I lose no time, 
because in a remote and solitary part of the globe. 

I often experience the infinite satisfaction there is in the only 
one way that is open to communicate our thoughts, and express 
that truly unalterable serenity of affection that is found among 
friends, and nowhere else. I conceive it no less comfortable to 
you. I believe that no man can have a sincerer regard for you 
than myself, nor can any man wish to serve and assist you with 
more ardour. The disappointment you speak of affects me 
greatly, and the more, as I have been told that you lived with 
Cornwallis, and, consequently, had some employment near him 
that must be creditable and profitable, which I imagined you 
filled with all the integrity, diligence, and skill that I know you 

was one of the coldest and dreariest spots in Great Britain, without society 
or commerce, and approachable only by a ford across the wide river." 
Contemporary accounts, however, make Banif far less disagreeable. 


possessed of. I cannot otherwise than account for the prefer- 
ence given to Mr. Cotterell, that there has been an early 
promise, or some prevailing recommendations from England that 
Cornwallis could not resist. However, if I was Governor, me- 
thinks I would choose about my person some experience and 
military ability, as requisite in the affairs of a new colony, 
situated as yours is, as any branch of knowledge whatever. 

This disappointment is followed by a resolution in you that- 
I approve of greatly, because it will release you from a life that 
cannot but be disagreeable, and place you where you will be 
well received. But I take it to be a thing much easier conceived 

than effected ; for though I grant that is a beast, and fit 

only to hunt the wildest of all wild Indians, yet his consent to 
the change, I doubt, would be very difficult to obtain, though 
everything else went smoothly on, and you know without it the 
matter rests. You have done well to write to my father. He 
is extremely disposed to do you any good office, and 1 shall take 
care to put him in mind, and excite him by all the motives that 
will touch him nearest, to assist you. 

I thank you for partaking with me in the satisfaction of a 
promotion. You found your expectations, from my future 
fortune, upon the best grounds — my love and thorough sense for 
your worth ; but I would not wish you should wait for my 
power. I should blush to see myself in the capacity. Take my 
inclinations and good wishes in the meantime, and believe that 
whatever falls to my share you will have a demand upon. If 
you look round and see my powerful rivals and competitors, 
examine who and what they are ; we must both think that a 
little moderation in our views is very becoming, and very con- 
sistent with my situation. I believe you are of opinion with 
me, that a great deal of good fortune has fallen to my share 

You have given me a very satisfactory account of the settle- 
ment, as far as you have observed or have had an opportunity 
to inquire. Till your letter came I understood that we were 
lords and proprietors of the north coast of Fundy Bay, for 
there's a vast tract of country between that and the river St. Law- 
rence. It appears to me that Acadia is near an island, and the 
spot where you are, a very narrow space between the Gulf and 
Bay. If so, I conclude your post will be greatly improved ; and 
instead of the shallow works that you describe, something sub- 
stantial will be erected, capable of containing a large garrison. 


with inhabitants trained to arms, in expectation of future wars 
with France, when I foresee great attempts to be made in your 
neighbourhood. When I say thus, I mean in North America. 
I hope it is true what is mentioned in the newspapers, that a 
strong naval armament is preparing for your assistance. I wish 
they would increase your regiment with drafts from the troops 
here. I could send you some very good little soldiers. If our 
proposal is a good one, I will shorten the work and lessen the 
expense. The present schemes of economy are destructive to great 
undertakings, narrow in the views and ruinous in the consequence. 

I was in the House of Commons this winter, when great 
sums of money were proposed for you, and granted readily 
enough. But nothing said of any increase of troops. Mr. 
Pelham spoke very faintly upon the subject ; wished gentlemen 
would well weigh the importance of these undertakings before 
they offered them for public approbation, and seemed to inti- 
mate that it might probably produce a quarrel with our ever- 
lasting and irreconcilable adversary. This I took to be a bad 
prognostic ; a minister cool in so great an affair, it is enough to 
freeze up the whole ! but perhaps there might be a concealed 
manoeuvre under these appearances, as in case of accidents, " I 
am not to blame,"" " I was forced to carry it on," and so forth ; 
in the meantime I hope they are vigorous in supporting our 
claims. The country is in all shapes better than we imagined 
it, and the climate less severe ; the extent of our territory, 
perhaps, won't take a vast deal of time to clear ; the woods you 
speak of are, I suppose, to the west of Sheganecto and within 
the limits that the French ascribe for themselves and usurp. 

Yours is now the dirtiest as well as the most insignificant 
and unpleasant branch of military operations ; no room for 
courage and skill to exert itself, no hope of ending it by a 
decisive blow, and a perpetual danger of assassination ; these 
circumstances discourage the firmest minds. Brave men, when 
they see the least room for conquest, think it easy, and generally 
make it so ; but they grow impatient with perpetual disad- 
vantages. I should imagine that two or three independent 
Highland companies might be of use ; they are hardy, intrepid, 
accustomed to a rough country, and no great mischief if they fall. 
How can you better employ a secret enemy than by making his 
end conducive to the common good .? If this sentiment should 
take wind, what an execrable and bloody being should I be 
considered here in the midst of Popery and Jacobitism ! 


I don't understand what is meant by the wooden forts at 
HaHfax. I have a poor conceit of wooden fortifications, and 
would wish to have them changed for ramparts of earth, the 
rest in time ; it is probable that the great attention that must 
be given at first to building the habitations and clearing the 
ground about the town, left no interval for other work ; but I 
hope to hear in your next letter, that our principal city (Hali- 
fax) is considerably improved in strength. You gentlemen, too, 
with your parapet three or four feet thick, that a heavy shower 
would dissolve, you ought to increase it, and put yourselves into 
a state of security. You appear to be the barrier and bulwark 
of our settlements on the land, and should be lodged in a 
sufficient fortress, and with an eye to enterprise. I understand 
by your account that the post you occupy^ is a very small 
distance from the end of the bay ; and should be glad to know 
how far that is from the nearest part of the Gulf of St. 
Lawrence, or from what in the map appears to be a lake, or 
harbour communicating with that gulf. 

I rejoice much that you commanded that detachment with 
which your Lieutenant-Colonel marched ; the Indians might 
have had courage, in that case you would have overcome them in 
battle under the eye of your chief ; as it was, he saw you well 
disposed to fight. Perhaps I am talking at random, but it is 
conformable to the idea I have of this Colonel Lawrence,^ whose 
name we often see in the papers. I suppose him to be amongst 
the first officers of the expedition, high-minded himself, and a 
judge of it in others ; his ready march to the enemy marks the 
first, and his being the head of your undertaking gives one an 
opinion of his judgment. If 'tis to his advantage, I desire you 
to let me have his character at full length ; perhaps there's a 
strong mixture, as it generally happens in ardent men : in that 
case let's have the best fully, and the other slightly touched. I 
am sorry that you are not so linked in with some of your 
brethren as to form an intimacy and confidence ; without it the 
world is a soliture, and what must your part of it be ? I pity 
you very heartily, for I am sure you are very ready to mingle 
with a good disposition. 'Tis doubly a misfortune to be banished 
without the relief of books, or possibility of reading ; the only 
amends that can be made to us that are sequestered in the lonely 

* Lunenburg. 

2 Governor of Nova Scotia, who was afterwards forced to undertake the 
expulsion of the Acadians. 


and melancholy spots, is that we can fill up our time with study. 
When I am in Scotland I look upon myself as an exile ; with 
respect to the inhabitants I am so, for I dislike 'em much ; 'tis 
then I pick up my best store, and try to help an indifferent 
education, and slow faculties ; and I can say that I have really 
acquired more knowledge that way, than in all my former life. 

I would by all means have you get home before the next 
winter, but I don't approve in the least of the resolution you 
seem to have taken rather than continue in that service. Do 
everything in your power to change, but don't leave the army, 
as you must when you go upon half-pay. If there is any female 
in the case, any reasonable scheme for mamage, I have nothing 
to say ; that knocks down all arguments ; they have other sorts 
of passions to support them. In reality, the most I can offer 
(were you unbiassed) would not amount to weighty matter, for 
I see no early appearance whereon to mould a bait for your 
ambition ; yet I cannot consent to your leaving us entirely, in 
the hopes of fairer days. If I did not love you personally, and 
wish your happiness very heartily, I should advise you to stay 
where you are, and would say that you ought to be kept there ; 
and give, as a reason for saying so, that I do think the infancy 
of a colony has need of able hands, civil and military, to sustain 
it, and I should be for sacrificing you and all the men of worth 
to the general good. You speak of Mr. Browse, the engineer ; 
pray say a word or two of his capacity, and tell me if there are 
among you any connoiseurs in that business. 

Is the island of St. John in the possession of the French, or 
do we occupy it ? It would be unpardonable in me if I omitted 
to send you intelligence of what is stirring amongst us ; I mean, 
if I kept from you anything that comes to my knowledge ; but 
in truth we are here almost as much in the dark as to public 
transactions as can be conceived ; however, I picked up some 
account of the Act for settling the Regency,^ and as perhaps 
you have not seen it, it will be worth your perusal ; it is a 
subject of no small importance. 

[An analysis of the statute follows.] 

Three large ships of war (guard ships) are sailed with the 
Scotch Fusiliers and Conway's regiments to relieve the King's 
and Skelton's, and they, as we hear, are to march directly into 
Scotland, which, by the bye, is a little out of the way, to carry 
them from the hottest to the coldest part of the King's 
* Frederick^ Prince of Wales^ had died on the 20th of March, preceding. 


dominions ; if they come, our regiment goes to Inverness, where 
I shall remain all the winter ; if one only comes, or neither, I go 
to Aberdeen. Loftus and Donnellan are both in England. The 
former had been dangerously ill, is a little recovered. Donnellan 
too, has been out of order, and is gone to Bristol for health. 

I am not sure whether I mentioned it or not in my last 
letter, but as it is a great grief to me, I will hazard the repetition 
to tell it you. I got powerful people to ask the Duke no less 
than three times, for leave to go abroad, and he absolutely 
refused me that necessary indulgence : this I consider a very 
unlucky incident, and very discouraging ; moreover, he accom- 
panied his denial with a speech that leaves no hope — that a 
Lieutenant-Colonel was an officer of too high a rank to be 
allowed to leave his regiment for any considerable time. This 
is a dreadful mistake, and if obstinately pursued, will disgust a 
number of good intentions, and preserve that prevailing igno- 
rance of military affairs that has been so fatal to us in all our 
undertakings, and will be for ever so, unless other measures are 
pursued. We fall every day lower and lower from our real 
characters, and are so totally engaged in everything that is 
minute and trifling, that one would almost imagine the idea of 
war was extinguished amongst us ; they will hardly allow us to 
recollect the little service we have seen : that is to say, the 
merit of things seem to return into their old channel, and he is 
the brightest in his profession that is the most impertinent, 
talks loudest, and knows least. 

I repeat it again to you that poor Porter left his regiment 
with the approbation of all his brethren, and with the reputa- 
tion of honesty and upright behaviour. It will be a charatable 
thing to do him any good office. 

I went to London in November, and came back in the middle 
of April. In that short time I committed more imprudent acts 
than in all my life before. I lived in the idlest, dissolute, 
abandoned manner that could be conceived, and that not out of 
vice, which is the most extraordinary part of it. I have escaped 
at length, and am once again master of my reason, and hereafter 
it shall rule my conduct, at least I hope so. My father has 
offisred money for the prettiest-situated house in England, and I 
believe he will have it for about <£^3000. It is a great sum to be 
so employed ; but as it procures him the pleasure he likes, and 
a fine air, it is well laid out. It looks as if he intended to sell 
his house in Greenwich since the other is upon Black Heath ; 


the new bridge^ will enable him ... his way easily to St. 

I will write to Loftus to send you some porter and the books. 
I cannot bear to hear you making excuses for imaginary trouble. 
I will . . . hogshead of claret from Ireland to Gibraltar. You 
cannot do me a greater pleasure than by pointing out to me a 
way to relieve you, though ever so inconsiderable. Write to me 
by the first opportunity, and believe me, dear Rickson, 

Ever your affectionate friend, 

J. W. 

It will be seen that Wolfe believed in the value of two or three 
independent Highland Companies on active service in North 
America. At this time this was a highly original notion. But 
the more Wolfe considered it the more he was convinced of its 
worth. We shall see how the idea grew until it came to be 
adopted by the Commander-in-Chief on a scale sufficient to raise 
the fighting standard of the armies overseas and even to effect the 
destinies of the Empire. For no doubt should exist as to which 
officer is due in the first instance credit of sending armed High- 
landers to fight the battles of their common country. 

This was the day of letters a yard long, and Wolfe was not 
one to stint himself. Besides, he had his peace to make with his 
parents, and it was in a spirit of sincere contrition that he penned 
what follows. 

To HIS Father. 

Banff, June 12, 1751. 

Dear Sir, — I am very glad from the knowledge of your 
sentiments (which in a case that concerns myself ought justly to 
be preferred to my own, and indeed in almost all other cases) to 
be able to make you some sort of apology for every particular 
instance of vice or folly that has very luckily fallen under your 
notice while I had the honour to be near you. I say very luckily, 
for if you or some other perfect friend had not discovered them, 
so as to make them known to me, I might have continued in 
the conceit of there being no such thing in my composition, 
and consequently they must in time have taken deep root, and 
increased beyond the power of any remedy. Yours is a very 
lively picture of the impertinence and idleness that is often in 
people of my years, so that it is not quite new and unexpected ; 

1 Westminster Bridge. 



and if I do not mistake this is not the first time that you have 
observed the seeds of imperfections in me, that perhaps only 
wanted nourishment and proper occasion to break forth. I am 
quite persuaded (though you express some indifference in the 
latter part of your letter) that you mean to recover me from the 
ill habit of mind you have seen me in, and with that view and 
that only it is that the just remarks you have made upon my 
conduct are put in their proper light. I am sure at the same 
time that your course of goodness and indulgence to me is not 
entirely altered and that you are ready to make such allowances 
as may be expected from one who has so extensive a knowledge 
of mankind as you have. 

The respect 1 have for you and strong desire to be better in 
your opinion than I have been of late, will put me upon 
pursuing the best means that you can devise, or that I can 
imagine for such an alteration of behaviour as may conduce to 
that end. I believe the first step to amendment is to acknowledge 
our faults, a proof that we think them faults. This I do very 
heartily and truly, though I must assert that most of them have 
arisen from inadvertency and not from any ill intention. I am 
very sensible that many things have appeared with an exceeding 
bad grace, but am nevertheless quite clear and conscious that 
no offence ever was, or could be, meant. My mother told me 
you intended to write. I was desirous to know your thoughts 
(which I am sorry to say I have been but too often unacquainted 
with) and that is one reason why I left such an interval between 
asking you pardon in the short though sincere manner in which 
I did it, when I came away, and making all the submission that 
can be made to one that I am very unwilling to disoblige. I 
hope the former part of my life will in some measure make this 
appear; and I believe I may venture to say that my future 
conduct will help to convince you. 

I ask only one favour and I think it reasonable, which is, 
that when things are anyhow wrong you will have so much 
consideration for my good and your own peace, as to make 
known your opinion as early as possible ; that I may check the 
mischief in its infancy, and correct one after another those 
failings that few of us are free from, but that all may remove. 
You very justly ridicule the situation I was in : it was truly 
ridiculous, I am as sensible of it as any man can be; but, 
however, it must be allowed that it is not the first of that kind, 
and the effects are often very extraordinary. I am concerned 


that you had any share of the uneasiness. I wish it had all 
been mine own since I brought it upon myself. Most of my 
thoughts and inconsistency of action, receive their bias from 
hence. I do not say all ; for I never heard it accused of 
producing either pride or vanity. Impatience of temper, 
restlessness of disposition and an indifference about all, even the 
most important affairs of life, are the constant attendants of 
that pernicious distemper. Should I at any other time have 
neglected the affairs of the regiment, regardless of my duty as 
an officer in every respect .? Or should I have quitted the only 
pursuit that engages my attention with any ardour and banish 
all my application without a cause ? I don't remember a time 
of my life that I forsook either the one or the other before, nor 
can I tax myself with having been wanting in more material 
matters (my duty to you) till now.^ 

I could readily and cheerfully have refused myself the 
pleasure of conversing with my friends in your house (for few 
came there upon any other footing) in consideration of your 
health. I am not indeed excusable for not having done it ; 
since there was room to imagine it might be troublesome ; but 
I should have thought it no hardship, had it been spoke of as a 
necessary conformity to your inclinations. I am no doubt, much 
to blame with regard to Donnellan ; but there are some 
circumstances that may perhaps take off a part. I neither saw 
nor conversed with him half so often as I used to do before he 
had (as an officer of your regiment) brought your displeasure 
upon him. We have been long intimate : I knew him to have 
a good deal of worth and honour, and think he has a better 
understanding than is commonly met with. He has often done 
me friendly and kind offices, which I do not immediately over- 
look or forget. I condemned his behaviour to you, though I 
could never look upon it as a mark of contempt but rather an 
error in the way of his profession. I did think him greatly to 
blame, and told him so, and moreover advised him to conduct 
himself in such a manner towards you, as might re-establish him 
in your favour. 

The warm expression that fell from me upon the Duke's 
refusing to let me go abroad, savoured much of ingratitude ; the 

1 The story is that Wolfe had made an impassioned public declaration 
of his love for Miss Lawson at a ball, threatening a rival with immediate 
chastisement. It is doubtful, however, if his passion really wrought such a 
change in his character and habits as he here depicts. 
L 2 


words, it must be confessed, were arrogant and vain. I thought 
them so at the time of speaking. Passion and disappointment 
produced them. Certainly his Royal Highness could not have 
so truly convinced me of his kindness as by consenting to a 
reasonable and salutary request. For if eternal imprisonment 
and exile is to follow preferment, few will be thankful for the 

I am sorry you can think it troublesome to me to read any 
letter from you, though it should be the mirror of my follies. 
You say it shall be the last upon this subject ; and I am sure 
you will do me the justice to recollect that it is likewise the 
first. It shall be my care not to give such large room for reproof 
hereafter ; and from no motive so powerful as a thorough 
regard for your person, and a sense of what is due to you as a 
parent. My mother might safely have ventured to send me her 
blessing, though she should build it only upon the strength of a 
return from me. I do sometimes leave out in my letter what I 
least intend, and when I omit expressing my affections for either 
of you, there remains little else that is valuable. I beg my duty 
to her and am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

PS. — I think I never could advance that there were no 
" natural '"' affections. I believe I said, and still am of opinion, 
that affections of all kinds spring from mutual good offices 
done to one another ; and that is natural. I likewise said that 
opposite interests frequently extinguish those affections, which I 
imagine will be allowed. 

His mother required, it seems, considerable placation. 

To HIS Mother. 

Peterhead, 19 July, 1751. 
Dear Madam, — I began to give up all hopes of hearing from 
you, and to think myself exiled to all intents and purposes 
without the consolation of being so much as thought of in this 
state of bondage and confinement. I am not addicted by con- 
stitution either to the vapours or to despair, and have determined 
always to leave the cure of present evils to a distant day ; 
imagining that they must be great indeed that have no remedy 
in the bosom of time ; and such I hope never to know. When 


I say I put off the cure, I suppose no present application 
sufficient, and therefore prefer a remote one, rather than give it 
up, or submit to disasters, and designs, though they should be 
ever so powerful. Your letter short as it is, unusually so, has 
nevertheless been of great aid and relief, because it convinces 
me, that, though deservedly neglected, I am not entirely forgot, 
alienated or divided from you, as of no further concern. It 
is fit that some share of evil should fall upon us in this 
life, to teach us and enjoy the best that we are formed to 

I think you are vastly well employed, though laboriously. 
This I consider as your last labour, and therefore reconcile 
myself in some measure to the excess of your fatigue ; by looking 
upon it as the end of pain and beginning of uninterrupted quiet. 
I hope you will fit up your new house with all the elegance and 
convenience that so lovely a situation, your future residence 
deserves. How you dispose of yoiu- other house, furniture, etc., 
regards me not, provided you make yourself easy in this you do 
all that can be wished or expected. When you are quite at 
rest, I shall be glad to hear you describe the work of your own 
hands ; though, as I never saw the inside of your habitation, it 
will be difficult to make me understand your operations. I hope 
you have a little garden. 

You refer me to Charles Brett for intelligence and say you 
will always do so. This I cannot contradict or oppose, but I 
must say (though he is a valuable correspondent) that many 
things come much more pleasingly from you than from him. I 
have but few franks left, so, to save you a little trouble and 
some expense I put your letter under his cover. 

I wish you both much health and beg my duty to my father, 
and am dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

Jam. Wolfe. 

The old General was now entering his sixty-seventh year, and 
was looking forward to repose, after fifty years of service. 

To HIS Father. > 

Peterhead, July 29, 1761. 
Dear Sir, — Honest Charles writes me word (with a good 
deal of concern) that he thinks you are not quite so cheerful as 
he could wish ; this affects me very particularly : first, because 


I hate to hear that any of your hours pass unpleasantly, or that 
anything breaks in upon the usual quiet of your mind, and then 
starts the disagreeable reflection, that possibly I may contribute 
to it. I don't think my friend meant to reproach me, but I 
could not read his letter without feeling remorse and repentance, 
for any ill acts, or without being shocked at the consequence as 
far as it regards your person. If it be true that I still create 
uneasiness, I would endeavour to persuade you, as well as words 
from me can do it ; so far to forget, and overlook me and my 
irregularities, as not to entertain a thought of pain for what has 
already appeared or form from thence a judgment of what may 
be expected hereafter ; I had much rather be quite out of your 
thoughts than take a place in them to torment you. I know it 
is not easy, entirely to shut out certain objects from the mind, 
but it is not difficult to accustom oneself to represent them 
under a pleasing figure : when your son comes into your con- 
sideration, I could wish you would imagine him a little recovered 
from his indiscretion, and determined to contribute all in his 
power to make his father (for whom he has the greatest respect 
and tenderness) pass the rest of his days in uninterrupted 

The mineral water here is famous for the cure of gravel, I 
can attest its virtue, as I have found great relief from it ; I can't 
say it agrees with me in other respects so well. I leave this 
place in a few days and return to Banff; from thence I propose 
to visit our posts in the Highlands, and amuse myself upon the 
moors for ten days, or a fortnight. I find the regiment quarters 
this winter at Inverness, as the two batallions from the Straits 
either land in Scotland or march directly north. The weather 
is sometimes as cold as it is in England in the month of 
November : I could not have imagined that the climate in any 
part of this island could be so severe : this is the most eastern 
point of Scotland. 

I wish you both much health. I beg my duty to my mother 
and am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

For Wolfe's bladder ailment soap was prescribed — soap taken 
internally, a frequently-mentioned (and absurd and barbarous) 
remedy of those days. 



To HIS Mother. 

Banff, 12;A^M5r., 1761. 

Dear Madam, — I came back from Peterhead much better 
satisfied with the entertainment I found there, than with the 
famous mineral water. I drank it for near three weeks with 
some success as to the principal complaint, but soon found it 
affected me very violently in the lungs and stomach, and left me 
a fixed pain in my breast that alarmed me a little, but it begins 
now to weaken and wear away. I consulted a physician of 
reputed knowledge, who advises soap, a certain sort of diet and 
moderate exercise ; to all which I can easily conform, and much 
more than this, if required, rather than endure pain ; my temper 
of mind is not fashioned for much suffering ; patience is not the 
leading virtue there. I should tell you how well I have been 
diverted and how much I have been obliged to your sex for 
many cheerful hours ; in general, there were women of good 
understanding, others of great vivacity and others very hand- 
some; so that a man could not fail to be pleased with such 
variety to choose out of; and for my part, I always think a 
pretty maid either has all the other beauties or does not want 
them. I know you would be glad to contribute something 
towards the cure of a bad disease, and perhaps I may put it in 
yoiu: power. Honey is recommended to me — if you get any 
from Minorca, and can send such a jar as I devoured in London, 
it will be doing a humane and benevolent act. Fisher or Charles 
Brett know how to direct it to me, or may enquire of Adair. I 
must put up a petition to the General for his assistance. That 
I may not fall away with spare diet, and diminish to a very 
skeleton, I propose to nourish myself with chocolate and milk, 
and therefore desire 6 or 8 pounds may be sent from London for 
that purpose. 

Our winter is begun already, I am writing now before a great 
fire. Dreadful season that lasts from the beginning of August 
till the middle of May ! I understand that your work is done 
and your trouble at an end, I rejoice with you, and hope you 
find it well bestowed, since it probably has helped to make your 
house agreeable and comfortable to both. 

If anything can add to the care that people generally take 
of themselves under any complaint it should be the advice of 
their friends, and consideration for those they love ; for I do 
assure you both, that it is almost as much pain to me to know 
that you are afflicted on my account, as to feel the effects of 


the distemper. I beg my duty to my father, and am, dear 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

Jam. Wolfe. 

PS. — I have but very few franks, and therefore am (in 
commission for our late Chaplain) obliged to desire you to order 
his letter to be put in the penny post. 


By this time the repentant Lieutenant-Coloners filial advances 
had met with their due reward, and for the time being all was 
peace in the Wolfe household. He heard with deep interest the 
accounts of the house purchased by the old General at Blackheath, 
within the wall of Greenwich Park, and next to Lord Chesterfield's 
summer residence " Babiole,"'' now the Ranger's Lodge. This house 
was to be much occupied by Wolfe, and we will speak of it hereafter. 

To HIS Mother. 

Banff, VJth Sept., 1751. 

Dear Madam, — ^The many obliging things in your letter 
deserve all the acknowledgments I am able to make. They 
claim a return of gratitude from me, and equal concern for your 
happiness and welfare. I hope very few words will serve to 
convince you that every kindness from you or expression of 
kindness leaves impressions not easily erased. 

Whenever you are found to speak to me in a different strain 
I am persuaded it is much against your inclinations, impelled by 
a desire to correct and amend. 

It would be a kind of miracle for one of my age and com- 
plexion to get through life without stumbling. Friendly aid 
and counsel are great and timely supports, and reproof is most 
effectual when it carries with it a concern for the person to 
whom it is addressed. This is the way I understand it both 
from my father and you, because I am sure nothing but a base 
and villainous action could entirely remove your affections ; and 
that I don't find myself capable of. 

I am sometimes in the character of a military parent, and am 
obliged to lay great restraint upon myself that others may profit 
by it, and I never find my advice so well attended to, as when 
there goes along with it a mixture of care for the good and 
reputation of the youth that errs. You'll be apt to think that 
a man so subject to weakness as I may be supposed to be, can 
work very little upon the minds of others, or give them a 
strength and firmness that I do not possess. But a man might 



for a time conceal, though not conquer his infirmities, and may- 
direct where he can't execute. The sense of duty, too, in the 
way of one's profession, may operate strongly in some things, 
though quite useless and impotent in others. 

By the description you give me of your new house, most 
people will be as well pleased with it as you seem to be. It is 
the work of your own hands, and youll be much to blame if 
anything is wanting to make it every way convenient and to 
your taste. It has a thousand natural advantages that you may 
improve till it becomes delightful. All I ask is that in the 
little detached department, where Charles Brett may laugh at 
leisure, there may be a very hard bed, upon which I hope to 
extend my long limbs in twelve or fourteen months, and take a 
little rest from care. 

Old Roland lived five or six years with me, and laid the 
obligations of faithful service upon me. He bore pretty well 
the warmth and uncertainty of my temper, though at length, 
tired of that and eternal wandering, he begged to be released. 
I can safely say that I have known him very honest, and think 
he must still be so. He has a wonderful calmness and quietness 
of disposition, that I sometimes thought degenerated into 
stupidity. I hardly ever knew him to give offence to any but 
myself, and then perhaps I was as much to blame as he.^ 

Thus much for his valour and honesty ; I think myself in his 
debt. I never intended to abandon him. I propose to take his 
son when old enough to serve me. . . . 

I hope to hear from you now and then ; you shall always be 
as short or as long as you please. Only remember that one side 
is very agreeable, but four sides, four times as agreeable, and so 
on in proportion. I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Wolfe was very glad to exchange Banff for Inverness, with 
which, although then the capital of Jacobitism, Wolfe was familiar 
and already numbered there several friends. Of Wolfe's strictures 
here and elsewhere upon Scotland, we may say with a Scotch critic 
of Dr. Johnson's journey, " What he says of the country is true, 
and his observations on the people are what must naturally occur 
to a sensible, observing and reflecting inhabitant of a convenient 

1 See ante, p. 77. 


metropolis, where a man on thirty pounds a year may be better 
accommodated with all the wants of life than Col or Sir Allison."*' ^ 
It must be remembered that Wolfe had been sent into Scotland 
upon a mission which rendered him and his men highly dis- 
agreeable to the majority of the inhabitants. 

To HIS Father. 

Inverness, October Srd, 1751. 

Dear Sir, — The preparations and march of the regiment 
have taken up the time that would have been employed in 
writing to you and to others that have a title to expect it from 
me. The post goes hence but once a week, which makes my 
letter something later than I could wish, as I have been several 
days in town. A little while serves to discover the villainous 
nature of the inhabitants, and brutality of the people in its 
neighbourhood. Those too who pretend the greatest attach- 
ment to the government, and who every day feed upon the 
public purse, seem to distinguish themselves for greater rudeness 
and incivility than the open and professed Jacobites. With 
these disadvantages there are many others that concern us as 
officers, not worth relating to you ; and yet, I believe we shall 
find means to get through the long winter tolerably well. 

A gentleman came from Perth the other day and told me he 
saw Mrs. Wilkinson very disconsolate and unhappy at the bad 
accommodation she meets with there. I can''t wonder at it, as 
little, dirty, stinking lodgings must be quite new to one that 
comes directly from London, and was never out of it till now. 
But I would advise her to prepare for worse places than Perth. 
By degrees I hope shell be inured to it, and then become 
familiar. Mrs. Lafausille, who has served several campaigns, is 
an older and better soldier than the other, will put up with any 
inconveniences for the sake of doing her duty with applause, 
and to the satisfaction of her Lieutenant-Colonel and command- 
ing officer, to whose pleasure she always wishes to contribute ; 
and I dare say never refuses her assistance to make him perfectly 
happy. I had a long letter from Rickson some days ago. He 
gives me no great opinion of the settlement, from the want of a 
more considerable armed force, the present being insufficient for 
its defence. He seems to apprehend some attempts from the 
French, who injure and insult us. He laments his own 
melancholy condition, and wishes it were possible to come again 

* Dempster, quoted by Boswell, 1775. 


amongst his old friends and companions. I imagine your 
regiment must be in Scotland by this time. In the spring they 
are to take those parts in the Highlands that we have occupied 
this summer. 

I turned aside to look at the new Fort of Ardersier, or Fort 
George, and find a vast quantity of earth thrown up for ramparts, 
and the counterscarp and glacis finished. But I believe there's 
still work for six or seven years to do. When it is finished one 
may venture to say (without saying much) that it will be the 
most considerable fortress, and the best situated in Great Britain. 
I fancy your neighbour, Mr. Skinner, the architect, thinks it a 
very good fortification.^ I dare say he finds it so. I beg my 
duty, etc. 

James Wolfe. 

It was now more than five years since Culloden and Wolfe 
made a survey of the battlefield in a somewhat critical frame 
of mind. 

To HIS Father. 

October, 1751. 

Dear Sir, — If I was writing to any other than yourself 
with such slight furniture, two lines would finish my letter.^ 

I have surveyed the field of battle of Culloden with great 
exactness, and find room for a military criticism as well as 
a place for a little ridicule upon some famous transactions of 
that memorable day. The actors shine in the world too high 
and bright to be eclipsed ; but it is plain they don't borrow 
much of their glory from their performance upon that occasion, 
however they may have distinguished themselves in later events. 
The defects were not so visible there as in the lower agents. I 
dare say you don't think I strike at the Head. One may safely 
pronounce that he had a very good title to the command ; there 
was no rival in rank nor in abilities. If you were upon the spot, 
perhaps you might be tempted to say that this risk should not 
have been adventured, nor this advantage neglected. You 

1 It was built from the plans of Robert Skinner of Greenwich and cost 

2 Wright, quoting this letter, prefaces it by a reference to Wolfe's paucity 
of " furniture," as if domestic and substantial instead of merely epistolary 
material were meant. 


would not have left those ruffians the only possible means of 
conquest, nor suffer multitudes to go off unhurt with the power 
to destroy. One must examine the field of battle to judge of 
the merit of Colonel Rich's great resistance, or, which is the 
same thing, the behaviour of the battalion under his command. 
But why this censure when the affair is so happily decided ? To 
exercise one's ill-nature ? No ; to exercise the faculty of j udging, 
— since I mention this to you, but not to the world. The more 
a soldier thinks of the false steps of those that are gone before, 
the more likely he is to avoid them. On the other hand, 
the examples worthiest of imitation should never be lost 
sight of, as they will be the best and truest guides in every 

Besides the multitude of evils that this town contains we 
have the additional mortification that the country about us 
affords very little relief ; no hunting or shooting, — both healthy 
and manly diversions that I take great delight in. Instead of 
these, I ride about for the fresh air and motion, but when the 
snow falls, we shall have little else to do but to eat and sleep. 
I wonder how long a man moderately inclined that way would 
require, in a place like this, to wear out his love for arms, and 
soften his martial spirit. I believe the passion would be some- 
thing diminished in less than ten years, and the gentleman be 
contented to be a little lower than Caesar in the list, to get clear 
of the incumbrances of greatness. 

Loftus wrote to me, giving intimation of his arrival in 
Scotland, and desiring that I would go directly to Perth to see 
him ; it is about a hundred miles through the Highlands. One 
would think my friend Arthur did not know the carte du pays 
by his invitation. Wilkinson writes me word that your clothing 
is come ; that is, he tells me that the present you were so kind 
to send is safe, and in the same ship. 

Ours is as yet at sea, to my sorrow, for we want a great 
many men, and I can't send off the recruiting-parties till they 
are clothed. I shall be broke for not completing the regiment ; 
they sent me a reprimand for not doing it last year, though I 
was all the winter in London. The reprimand was due to my 
neglect in general, but not at all as it was applied ; unless it 
could be supposed that I had any extraordinary influence over 
Lord Bury and acted for him, whereas it is notorious that he 
always acts for himself. 

J. Wolfe. 


If there was nothing else to do in his leisure at Inverness, there 
was at least the furnishing forth of a letter home. Few reveal 
more of Wolfe's character than the following discursive com- 
position. He was a genius, but at the same time very human. 

To HIS Mother. 

Inverness, Qth November, 1761. 

Dear Madam, — You must not be surprised if this letter does 
not reach you till a long time after the date of it, for "'tis very 
possible that the snows will retard the march of our Highland 
post-boy, who, in the finest seasons, cannot pride himself on 
much expedition. The winds sometimes drive the snows with 
such violence that the roads are utterly impassable ; and again, 
when it thaws, the rivers swell so prodigiously that there is no 
less danger and difficulty on that side. I have not been, from 
the severity of the weather, able to get on horseback for many 
days, and can have no manner of diversion out of my own room, 
unless to shoot woodcocks at the risk of rheumatism. It would 
be unmanly and very unbecoming a soldier to complain of little 
evils, such as bad food, bad lodging, bad fire. Whoever finds 
these inconveniences too hard to put up with will never be a 
match for a multitude of others that he is likely to meet with in 
his travel through life, especially if he has taken the trade of 
war. With these sort of reflections I reconcile myself to Inver- 
ness, and to other melancholy spots that we are thrown upon, 
and find (all things considered and thoroughly examined) there 
is in reality, to a contented mind, very little difference between 
one place and another, and that if a man possesses a certain 
degree of firmness and serenity, he is equal to almost every 
calamity. Besides, in aid of this disposition, I like a military 
life, and endeavour to make my actions correspond in some 
measure with that liking. Not that you are to understand your 
son captivated with the glare and blaze of our employment. No, 
there is an object much beyond it that attracts my eye ; and it 
is with some concern that I see those that direct us often miss 
the proper mark, and set us, their servants, upon wrong pursuits. 
This is not, I believe, from ill intention, but from other causes. 
I expect you'll think this sort of discourse a little unnatural, and 
perhaps may think it discourse only ; but you may judge by my 
former letters and my general manner of acting that I oftenest 
speak as I am, and that it would not be in this style if I did not 
sleep sound. 


You are thrifty of your paper, pens and ink ; it is an 
economy out of tune : there's room for a quarrel with you on this 
neglect and if Charles was not alive I should be left to con- 
jectures and somewhat uncertain conjectures. 

I have been persuaded to take a lottery ticket ; but, alas, I 
am very unfortunate at all games, and expect no better luck 
here. 'Tis five or six pounds very ill bestowed. I venture to 
say that whatever money comes to me it shall be made use of, 
and if I don't succeed now or another time the disappointment 
won't set heavily. 

The death of the Stadtholder,^ and the Princess of Orange's 
ill state of health, I suppose alarm people a little. Two minori- 
ties, perhaps, together may give the common enemy some 
advantage over us. I hope the Duke will do his part steadily 
and with honour. He has a great task, and I dare say will 
perform it as becomes a prince. 

If I were to advise, as you now live together in the country, 
you should call some that you like to dine and sup with you 
often ; and above all things, claret for the General. He is 
never better than when he uses it freely, but without excess. It 
is vast pleasure to me that your new mansion is now put into 
good condition, and the garden planted. I know nothing more 
agreeable than to see our own little improvements flourish in 
our view, and increase every year in strength and beauty.^ 

For my part, while I am young and in health all the world is 
my garden and my dwelling ; and when I begin to decline, I 
hope my services by that time may fairly ask some little retreat, 
and a provision so moderate that I may possess it unenvied. 
I demand no more ; but while I have vigour, if the country 
wants a man of good intentions, they'll always find me ready — 
devoted, I may say — to their service. If my old Lady Lawson 
(as Charles has been told) had stumbled at her time and in 
her situation I should doubt my discernment ever after ; she 
appears to have so much good sense and affection for her 
daughters, that to be deceived in opinion of her I should join 
with FalstafF and declare that there is virtue extant. Common 
decency requires that the young ladies should marry first. 

1 The Prince of Orange, George II's son-in-law, died in October, " killed 
by the waters of Aix-la-Chapelle," said Walpole. 

2 This passage indicates that the garden of the Wolfe mansion at Black- 
heath was planted by the elder Wolfe. 


The pretty widow Kendal will have more lovers now than 
she had. With the merit of this vast succession, money is in 
such repute that though she had a thousand good qualities and 
a thousand graces, it was wanted, as the great material to 
recommend her. Lord Bacon (but he's a severe writer) says 
that if a woman has a bad husband of her own choosing she is 
sure to make good her folly, and commonly pretends more 
happiness than she really feels. Is this Miss Wardens case ? Or 
is she pleased with the coxcomb, her companion ? I pity her 
heartily and pronounce from his manner of conducting himself 
that she'll repent her bargain. You'll see my other reasons for 
thinking so when I treat of Miss Hooker's match. Though not 
of the most melting compassion, I am sometimes touched with 
other people's distresses and participate their grief. Men whose 
tenderness is not often called upon, obtain by degrees, — as you 
may particularly observe in old bachelors, — a ferocity of nature, 
or insensibility about the misfortunes that befall others. There's 
no more tender-hearted person than a father or mother that has, 
or has had, many children. 

I don't know Dr. Squire at all, and very little of Miss 
Hooker,^ but must say that matches purely of interest (as I 
suppose it is on her side), and made up in a hurry, though with 
everybody's consent, are purchases too high and hazardous to 
have my approbation. And then again, at sober times, I have 
no very high opinion of love affairs except they are built upon 
judgment. So you'll say, " Where then would you choose ? " 
Why nowhere, to men of whimsical disposition ; but otherwise 
the choice reason directs is the best ; moderate fortunes and 
sense enough on both sides to give aid in ticklish times. If the 
maid only seeks preferment in the Church or an3rwhere else, she 
cuts out her own misery, unless indeed all her passions and 
affections give way to ambition, and then, no doubt, a doctor, a 
dean, or a bishop have power to please. 

I have a certain turn of mind that favours matrimony pro- 
digiously, though every way else extremely averse to it at 
present, and you shall know it. I love children, and think them 
necessary to us in our latter days ; they are fit objects for the 
mind to rest upon, and give it great entertainment when amuse- 
ments of other kinds have lost their value. Sure, next to being 

^ She subsequently married Wolfe's friend Charles Brett, R.N. Dr. 
Squire was Vicar of Greenwich and afterwards Bishop of St. David's. 

From the posthumous portrait by Schaak in the National Portrait Gallery 


an honest man and good citizen, it is meritorious to produce 
such characters amongst men. Our endeavours here seldom fail 
of success ; for young people are as capable of receiving good 
impressions and good sentiments as bad ones, and if their nature 
inclines to evil, custom and education correct them. Two or 
three manly, courageous, upright sons are a present to the world 
of the highest estimation, and the father that offers them sees 
with satisfaction that he is to live in his successors, and that his 
good qualities will contribute to adorn and illustrate manhood 
when he is no longer amongst them. Is not this a pleasing sort 
of reflection ? If I don't speak much of the females, 'tis not that 
they are of less concern to us, or ought to be less prized ; but 
as the management of them belongs chiefly to you ladies, me- 
thinks I would not seem to infringe upon your prerogatives. 

Lord Bury professes fairly, and means nothing ; in that he 
resembles his father, and a million of other showy men that are 
seen in palaces and in the courts of kings. He desires never to 
see his regiment, and wishes that no officer would ever leave it. 
This is selfish and unjust. They have a way of trifling with us 
poor soldiery that gives many very honest brave men high dis- 
gust. I am sensible it is my duty to be here, and that silences 
me ; otherwise, the care of a regiment of Foot is very heavy, 
exceeding troublesome, and not at all the thing I delight in, 
though, as I told you before, the occupation in general is a good 
one, and hits my genius. My duty to my father. I wish you 
both much health, and am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate Son, 

James Wolfe. 

Some of the foregoing will strike a critical reader as penned in 
a curiously stilted style : and in truth it is not to be denied that 
Wolfe's solitude and his reading of such literature as came his way 
occasionally gave his expressions an affected, artificial air, somewhat 
at variance with the character of a stern and sterling soldier. 
But this tends to disappear, and some of his later compositions are 
full of directness and point. 

To HIS Mother. 

Inverness, Dec. 6th , 1751. 
Dear Madam, — If a man is not allowed to utter his com- 
plaints (and I deny myself this indulgence) what else can he 
say, or how can he find subject of discourse, when his thoughts 


are necessarily taken up with a multitude of sensations ? Not- 
withstanding all this, whether from pride, obstinacy, a vanity to 
appear firm on one side, or moderation and indifference of the 
other, I am determined to guard against the inclination that 
most people feel to communicate their distresses : and that 
resolution arises from one or other of the above motives, or a 
mixture of them all. I learn that my good friend Charles is 
near his departure ; his friends and neighbours will feel the want 
of him, for there is no more valuable person amongst men, than 
one of his character, active to serve and assist, honest and fair 
in his dealings, and incomparably merry and sweet tempered, 
equally disposed for business or society.^ I reckon his sister will 
be in great grief, for she loves him very sincerely. If he has 
gone before this letter gets to you, I must beg you to let his 
letter follow him, with a frank if you have one to spare, because 
it is double. I shall lose a good correspondent as to public 
affairs, and an agent and advocate to be depended upon in 
private concerns. I owe him one pound three, for the eleventh 
portion of a lottery ticket,^ with the young ladies, Mr. Swinden 
and others, which, if you will be so kind to pay, (to him or his 
brother) shall be returned to you, whenever I have the good 
fortune to find myself in a condition to pay my debts ; and that 
may soon be, since they are not very considerable. The Duke's 
fall was considered by people here in very different lights, by 
one party as a lucky event, by the other as a most unfortunate 
one ; but we who feared the consequence were far the fewest. 
I hope he will live long in health and vigour and continue as he 
is at present, a terror to traitors and the enemies of their country. 
The villains here seem to look upon him as the great opposer of 
their purposes, and truly I believe they do him justice. I beg my 
duty to my father. I wish you much health and am, dear Madam, 
Your most obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam. Wolfe. 

1 Charles Brett became one of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty 
when Lord Howe was at the head of the Boards and represented Sandwich in 
two parliaments. He married the granddaughter of Sir William Hooker^ of 
Groom's Hill, and died, far advanced in years, at his house in Spring Gardens, 
February 10th, 1799. His brother. Captain John Brett, who was one of 
Anson's lieutenants in his voyage round the world, lost much tranquillity, as 
well as money, by being involved in a lawsuit with an itinerant quack, whom 
he, as a magistrate, endeavoured to prevent from deluding the unwary. 
The mountebank, however, having a diploma of some sort, obtained damages 
against the benevolent Captain. Another brother, Timothy, is mentioned by 
Wolfe on a future occasion. — Wright, p. 186. 

^ The State Lottery, drawn November 11th, 1761. 


We now hear the first of Wolfe's projected Irish journey. 

To HIS Father. 

Inverness, December \2th, 1751. 

Dear Sir, — I dropped a hint to Charles Brett some time 
since as if I had thoughts of going into Ireland. You may be 
sure if the thing had been serious I should have mentioned it to 
you, with my reasons for so doing, and should have asked your 
opinion and taken it as a guide. I did not imagine that it 
would have been looked upon by Charles as a matter of easy 
execution, but only an object of the fancy to play with till some 
new shadowy project as light as that takes place. I shall not 
be very frequent in my petitions. Besides, the Highland service 
next summer will be an excuse for Lord Bury to refuse me leave 
of absence and if that was wanting he would easily frame 
another as plausible. I have no other motive to carry me into 
that country but pure curiosity. I have no expectations from 
my friend Lord George. He has already done me more service 
than I had reason to hope and he did it unasked. He could 
offer me nothing but the same rank in the Horse or Dragoons, 
which is too idle a life to tempt me. 

I did not tell you that we have an assembly of female rebels 
every fortnight, entirely composed of Macdonalds, Frazers, and 
M'Intoshes. I had the honour to dance with the daughter of a 
chieftain who was killed at CuUoden, the Laird of Kippoch. 
They are perfectly wild as the hills that breed them ; but they 
lay aside their principles for the sake of sound and movement. 
They make no converts, which I chiefly attribute to a strong 
dialect of the Erse that destroys the natural softness of their 

I am, etc., 

Jam. Wolfe. 

To a man of Wolfe''s temperament, thrust into solitude and 
addicted from boyhood to inward communings, the advent of a 
birthday would easily set in movement a train of serious reflec- 
tions. Already his mind had been tinged with sadness. He had 
gone further than most men of his age, but such progress had by 
no means kept pace with his insatiable ambition, and now the 
prospect was not alluring: he must, as he told his father, "be 
content to be a little lower than Caesar in the list." The vanity of 

M 2 


human wishes oppressed him. Thus on his twenty-fifth birthday, 
alone in his lodgings at Inverness, Wolfe wrote down his inmost 
thoughts for his mother's eyes.^ 

Mrs. Wolfe was a deeply pious woman, and in a previous letter 
had urged him seek strength and consolation on his knees before 
his Maker, through faith in God. 

To HIS Mother. 

Inverness, 22nd-26th December (O.S.), 1751. 
\2nd-5th January (N.S.), 1752.] 

Dear Madam, — The winter wears away, so do our years, and 
so does life itself ; and it matters little where a man passes his 
days and what station he fills, or whether he be great or con- 
siderable but it imports him something to look to his manner of 
life. This day I am five-and-twenty years of age, and all that 
time is as nothing. When I am fifty (if it so happens) and look 
back, it will be the same ; and so on to the last hour. But it is 
worth a moment's consideration that one may be called away on 
a sudden, unguarded and unprepared ; and the oftener these 
thoughts are entertained, the less will be the dread or fear of 
death. You will judge by this sort of discourse that it is the 
dead of night, when all is quiet and at rest, and one of those 
intervals wherein men think of what they really are, and what 
they really should be ; how much is expected, and how little 
performed. Our short duration here, and the doubts of here- 
after, should awe and deter the most flagitious, if they reflected 
on them. The little time taken in for meditation is the best 
employed in all their lives ; for if the uncertainty of our state 
and being is then brought before us, and that compared with 
our course of conduct, who is there that won't immediately 
discover the inconsistency of all his behaviour and the vanity of 
all his pursuits .? And yet, we are so mixed and compounded 
that though I think seriously this minute, and lie down with 
good intentions, it is likely I may rise with my old nature, or 
perhaps with the addition of some new impertinence, and be the 
same wandering lump of idle errors that I have ever been. 

You certainly advise me well. You have pointed out the 
only one way where there can be no disappointment, and 
comfort that will never fail us, — carrying men steadily and 
cheerfully in their journey, and a place of rest at the end. 

^ '* It is already past twelve o'clock, and I am tired and sleepy. . . . 
This is my birthday. I am now seven and twenty years of age. What 
an unprofitable lout I am." — Froude's Life ofCarlyle, p. 171. 


Nobody can be more persuaded of it than I am ; but situation, 
example, the current of things, and our natural weakness draw 
me away with the herd, and only leave me just strength enough 
to resist the worst degree of our iniquities. There are times 
when men fret at trifles, and quarrel with their toothpicks. In 
one of these ill habits I exclaim against the present condition, 
and think it is the worst of all ; but coolly and temperately it is 
plainly the best. Where there is most employment and least 
vice, there one should wish to be. There is a meanness and a 
baseness not to endure with patience the little inconveniences we 
are subject to; and to know no happiness but in one spot, and 
that in ease, in luxury, in idleness, seems to deserve our 
contempt. There are young amongst us that have great 
revenues and high military stations, that repine at three months' 
service with their regiments if they go fifty miles from home. 
Soup and venaison and turtle are their supreme delight and joy, 
— an effeminate race of coxcombs, the future leaders of our 
armies, defenders and protectors of our great and free nation ! 

You bid me avoid Fort William, because you believe it still 
worse than this place. That will not be my reason for wishing 
to avoid it ; but the change of conversation, the fear of becoming 
a mere ruffian, and of imbibing the tyrannical principles of an 
absolute commander, or giving way insensible to the temptations 
of power, till I become proud, insolent, and intolerable : — these 
considerations will make me wish to leave the regiment before 
the next winter, and always (if it could be so) after eight 
months' duty ; that by frequenting men above myself I may 
know my true condition, and by discom-sing with the other sex 
may learn some civility and mildness of carriage, but never pay 
the price of the last improvement with the loss of reason. 
Better be a savage of some use than a gentle, amorous puppy, 
obnoxious to all the world. One of the wildest of wild clans is 
a worthier being than a perfect Philander. 

[He had sat up composing this letter far into the night. 
Upon reading it in the morning a profound disgust seized upon 
him and he continued in a wholly different strain.] 

I have had a mind to bum this letter. You'll think it too 
grave, unreasonably so ; or you may suspect I play the hypocrite, 
with design to lead you into an opinion of our reformation. 
Charles has bought me a French translation of Thucydides, and 
has not been paid. I wish you would desire my father to lay 


down the money for me till we meet. It is a most incomparable 
book. I wish I may get £^0, to pay these little incumbrances ; 
anything more would be unreasonable to expect. 

It is said that Lafausille is preparing to publish a new 
treatise of Discipline and Reflections upon the Government of 
Armies. I hope Loftus will add his Notes and Remarks, for the 
amusement of the public and great diversion of all his acquaint- 
ance. There is already so much nonsense upon this subject, and 
it is in itself so barren and dry (in the manner it is commonly 
treated), that I wonder at any attempt of the kind. Lord 
Molesworth and General Kane — two very accurate writers — have 
expressed their thoughts in a very pretty, concise discourse, to 
the great advantage and improvement of those persons for whom 
they were intended. These are the patterns for my brother 
lieutenant-colonel to imitate. Perhaps you'll imagine that this 
is all ill-nature in me, and that I envy him the reputation which 
must follow his labours. Upon my word, I do not ; but I could 
wish that he could be contented with his share of fame. To 
speak fairly, I don't believe what I have heard, from my opinion 
of my friend's moderation. 

Mrs. In wood's great vivacity and great good-nature make 
her an excellent winter companion. She is very well in all 
seasons, but particularly in cold weather; her lively discourse 
in December makes some amends for her inactivity in May. 
One thing grieves me, that you must necessarily keep house 
while she stays ; for I think I have heard you say that her wind 
won't last her a hundred yards, and that her action soon fails. 
If you will do me the favour to present my compliments to her, 
and assure her that I do not rozvll about the room now, nor am 
I in that desperate condition that she has seen and known, and 
laughed at ! I was shamefully beat at chess by a Scotch laird 
about five months ago ; this has put me out of conceit of my 
own play. I must again become a scholar under Mrs. In wood, 
to make me attentive to the game and teach me to think. I 
beg my duty to my father, and am. 

Dear Madam, etc., 

James Wolfe. 

Wolfe by no means discontinued his studies at Inverness. 
Realizing the importance of mathematics he engaged a Mr. Barbour, 
who, like Dr. Samuel Johnson, "kept a schule and ca'd it an 
Acaademy," and who enjoyed much local repute as a mathematician. 


to continue him in principles of Algebra and Geometry. The 
Lieutenant-Colonel thus humorously describes the effect of his 
renewed studies. 

To HIS Father. 

Inverness, 12th January, 1752. 
Dear Sir, — I have read the mathematics till I am grown 
perfectly stupid, and have algebraically worked away the little 
portion of understanding that was allowed to me. They have 
not even left me the qualities of a coxcomb ; for I can neither 
laugh nor sing, nor talk an hour upon nothing. The latter of 
these is a sensible loss, for it excludes a gentleman from all good 
company, and makes him entirely unfit for the conversation of 
the polite world. However, a man may make a neighbourlike 
appearance in this cold region with a moderate competency of 
knowledge, and with a degree of gravity that may supply the 
deficiency. And whoever goes to kirk (as I do) once a week, 
and there comports himself with more reverence to the priest 
than consideration for the nature of the business — herein I 
sometimes fail — will most assuredly and deservedly obtain the 
reputation of great wisdom and discretion. We are allowed to 
be the most religious foot officers that have been seen in the 
North for many a day, and some words are thrown away every 
Sunday in prayers for our amendment and exemplary life and 
conversation. See the variety and constant change of things : 
in most of our quarters we have been looked upon no better 
than as the sons of darkness, and given up unto Satan ; here we 
are white as the snow that cover all the hills about, — not from 
want of temptation to sin, you may believe, but from sudden 
conversion and power to resist. 

My uncle Wat has given over corresponding with me, — at 
least I imagine so. I believe we don'*t agree in our system of 
military affairs, and therefore he drops me, as an innovator in 
discipline. I hear he is very well. Mr. Fisher is empowered to 
do prodigious things with my prize in the lottery ; amongst the 
rest he will pay for my French Thucydides — our historian — I 
speak as a soldier. I am thinking what a noble balance there 
will be on my side when our accounts are settled ! I beg my 
duty to my mother, and am, 

Dear Sir, etc., 

Jam. Wolfe. 


There are worse — and less appropriate — ways of disbursing a 
prize won in a lottery than by purchasing the volumes of Voltaire. 

To HIS Mother. 

Inverness, Jan. 24tth (O.S.), 1752. 

Dear Madam, — I don't always understand myself and can't 
therefore wonder that I am sometimes unintelligible to others. 
However, I don't mean to be obscure in my discourse to you, and 
so my words generally bear the sense that they are most usually 
taken in ; their common acceptation — when this is not the case, 
and the meaning not plain, pray be so good to burn the letter. 
I think your hardest task will be to make out the words. If I 
did not know the best part of what I had writ it would be some- 
times difficult to read my own writing. I am quite sensible that 
you are nohow concerned in military affairs, and have given me 
no positive orders to reside here, or there ; nor are you the cause 
of any evil that falls upon me ; so I repent me much, if words 
have dropped from me that are unpleasant and unsuitable — or 
seem to proceed from a restless and fretful temper inconsistent 
with the regard due to your peace which I should be sorry to 
disturb for myself. I do not know what demon possessed me at 
that unlucky hour ; but I have never known my thoughts less 
confused than of late, and easy stupidity and insensibility seems 
to have crept into me ; and does the part of reason in keeping 
the vessel steady, with prodigious success. It is so pleasing a 
state that I prefer it to any conceit that the fancy can produce, 
any whirlwind of the brain, or violent chase after nothing — the 
one goes slowly, sedately, and heavily, the other distractedly to 
the same end. That I am still here, is a proof that you have no 
power to remove me — but you may be assured by way of 
comfort, that I can sleep through any mischance and dose away 
all my complaints. 

So may fine people concurring in the same views and dis- 
appointed at last; a union so well suited, that they justly 
obtain the name of agreeable, and get their ticket a blank — is a 
flagrant proof that these matters are wholly governed by chance 
and accident, and no sort of regard is had to the just pretensions 
of the select few : Are all your's blank ? There are thousands 
in the same case, that can less afford the loss — I think it is very 
good in you to contribute so much to the public expenses. I 
hope when your houses are sold, you will be enabled to do more, 
and help to maintain the army and the fleet. 


Charles says, there's thirty sail, in the harbour at Plymouth. 
I got a letter from little Rickson the other day, who never 
forgets to make grateful mention of the civility he received from 
my father and you, and to offer his respects ; he languishes and 
sighs for his native country ; though the affairs of that province 
are in a better way than formerly. Parry assures me that he \vill 
send some shells to Mr. Fisher by the first ship that goes from 
Edinburgh and he makes me believe that Major Innes will send 
sixty or seventy pounds of Minorcan honey from port Mahon 
as quick as possible. I am sure the jar you were so kind as to 
give me, has, and continues to be of great service, I can't be too 
thankful for such a favour. 

What hinders you from meeting as usual ? I hope your 
parties are not so scattered but you may collect again. The 
dull winter hours require some dissipation, people want to be 
enhvened in such a dead season. 

Mrs. Wilmot is the oldest of all my old friends and acquaint- 
ance, and I never see her but with great pleasure, and love to 
hear her name mentioned — is she as merry as heretofore ? does 
she laugh away all her life ? I hope her good humour will never 
forsake her. I have recovered my hearing, within these three 
weeks — a month ago I could not hear my watch strike with the 
right ear, and it has been so ever since I left London ; exercise 
and temperance have brought this about, and will do the rest in 
time. I am pleased to know that you are both in health — I beg 
my duty to my father and am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam. Wolfe. 
To Mrs. Wolfe, 

Greenwich, Kent, Sth. Britain. 

His absence in the Highlands had not caused his influential 
friends to forget him. His inamorata's uncle. Sir John Mordaunt, 
tried to get him an appointment as aide-de-camp, fearing that a too 
long expatriation might put the young officer out of the lists of 
preferment, but the Duke of Cumberland had other views and the 
application was refused. Wolfe was not sorry, as the following 
letter shows. 

To HIS Father. 

February 1st, 1752. 

Dear Sir, — I told you my reasons why I thought there was 
nothing to be expected in Ireland before I knew your sentiments 


on that subject. I may add that as Lord George did not seem 
to hearken to what was dropped [relative to the aide-de-camp's 
employ] last winter in London, it is not very probable he has 
changed his opinion. 

It is, no doubt, a ready road to recommendation and prefer- 
ment, if a man acquits himself as he ought ; but to speak truly I 
am by no means calculated for an office of that kind, upon 
several accounts, and therefore don't grieve much at the 
refusal, though not the less obliged to Sir John for proposing 
it. While I do serve I do not wish to be out of my 
character, nor receive my pay in idleness. 

The snow begins to melt, so that the roads and rivers 
will be for a while impassable. There are some rapid rivers 
in this country that have neither bridge or boat, upon the 
highway from Inverness to Edinburgh, so that when a quantity 
of water falls from the mountains, the post and passengers 
are retarded till it runs off. We had no other way of 
distinguishing Christmas than that we found it, as it 
commonly is, the coldest time of the year, and made a larger 
fire than usual, and ate exceeding bad mince-pies that our 
sutler's wife, who is a very religious woman, begged we might 
taste. . . . The spring that gives a new face to the whole 
creation, will enliven us all. 

I am, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 
To HIS Mother. 

Inverness, Feb. lUh, 1752. 

Dear Madam, — It is very pleasing to me, to know that our 
sentiments agree, let the subject be what it will ; but I should 
be much better satisfied, if all the actions of my life were such as 
you would approve of; for, it is evident, that our words are no 
proof of good conduct : they don't always express our thoughts ; 
but, what a man does may be depended upon, and is the true 
measure of his worth. The lady you mentioned is very fair of 
speech, and yet you see how little to be trusted to in other 
respects, and how subtle. I have formerly observed her dis- 
position, (but not so accurately as I might have done) and did 
not always like the appearences as they struck me ; but, I saw 
how deeply Charles was involved, and therefore forebore to 
speak too freely, that I might not torment him ; the way she 
treated him, would have opened the eyes of a less amorous 


gallant, and turned his love and admiration into perfect con- 
tempt. I hope however that you have not divulged what she 
was pleased to say of me, in obedience to her mother ; for these 
reasons, that it will do her an irreparable injury ; and if it 
should reach Charles's ear, will give him pain ; I dare say these 
considerations have had their just weight with you. As you 
foretold, Mr. Swinden has written to remind me of my promise, 
I only stand engaged in case a boy comes forth, and I recom- 
mend my little godson to your kindness, if it so happens ; and 
my expense shall be repaid you, when the arrears come in.^ I 
did not know the price of the books, but Miss Brett will be 
soon informed of that. We are not enough acquainted with our- 
selves to determine our future conduct, nor can any man foresee 
what shall happen — but as far as one may hazard a conjecture — 
there is a great probability that I shall never marry. I shall 
hardly engage in an affair of that nature purely for money : 
nor do I believe that my infatuation will ever be strong 
enough to persuade me, that people can live without it : 
besides, unless there be violence done to my inclinations, by the 
power of some gentle nymph, I had much rather listen to the 
drum and trumpet than any softer sound whatever. Fisher gave 
me early notice of my prize — but alas, that does not make me 
amends for a horse that I lost in the beginning of the winter by 
the neglect of the keeper — a beast that cost me five and twenty 
pounds, though he was not worth half the money. 

Loftus has always been an old fashioned coxcomb — a tawdry 
kind of beau. I suppose he would dress the regiment in his own 
taste ; he's one of those people who think there can't be too 
much finery, no matter where 'tis stuck. 

Miss Brett's kindness for her brother cannot be enough 
admired ; he is going to a strange place, and she is resolved 
he shall want for nothing. Charles is in reputation for 
chastity, so she may be sure the girls (though they are 
handsome) will be quite safe with him. I have just now received 
a letter from my uncle Walter — he enquires after my father 
and you, and seems concerned that he has not heard from 
either for a long while. I hope you will succeed in the 

^ This godson did not survive. Mrs. Wolfe bequeathed £500 to Susannah, 
daughter of the Rev. S. F. Swinden ; but no son of his is mentioned in her 
will. Wolfe was godfather to many other boys, amongst whom was the late 
Lord Cringletie, son of Lieut. -Colonel Murray, and father of James Wolfe 
Murray, Esq., who has three sons, all of whom bear the name of " Wolfe." 
Wright, 1864. — One of these sons is Sir James Wolfe Murray. 


management of all your London affairs, that you may have 
an end to such unpleasant business. My washer-woman says 
she thinks I shall hold out till next autumn with her 
assistance : she has promised to keep everything very tight, 
and if she's as good as her word, it will save you the trouble 
of sending any new linen. My compliments to Mrs. Inwood 
and to Miss Brett. I beg my duty to my father, and am, dear 

Your most obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam : Wolfe. 
To Mrs. Wolfe, 

To HIS Mother. 

Inverness, 6^^ March^ 1752. 

Dear Madam, — ^The greatest pleasure your letters can 
give me is to know that you are both in good health, and, 
consequently, in the enjoyment of every good that follows it. 
If I could be always well assured of that, I should not insist 
any further, but leave it to any moment of your leisure to 
treat of light matters. An empty house is a very burdensome 
possession, and you are happy that you have got rid of yours,^ 
if there was no other reason than that it eases your mind of 
an encumbrance otherwise not easily shaken off; for as we 
accustom ourselves from infancy to measure our real good by 
the condition of our little affairs, and do often place our 
happiness or misery in 6pinion, and the comparing our situation 
with that of other people, we are apt to torment ourselves with 
crosses and accidents much more than their nature deserves. 
This leads one to a conclusion that perhaps there is a possibility 
of going through the business of the world without any strong 
connection or attachment or anything that is in it, and with a 
kind of indifference as to what happens. The danger of this 
indifference is, that in time it may turn to dislike, and, unless 
reasonably curbed, may influence our conduct, and make us fall 
out with ourselves, which of all quarrels is the most dangerous, 
and the most difficult to reconcile. But, sure, every man of 
common sense will discover beauty and virtue enough to keep 
him in good temper ; and if not, he will try to possess himself of 
magnanimity to resist evil, and a certain portion of benevolence 
that shall incline him to think charitably of what is due to the 

1 The Greenwich house was sold. 


I have lately fallen into the acquaintance (by mere chance) 
of two young Scotch ladies, with whose conversation I am infinitely 
delighted. They are birds of a fine feather, and very rare in this 
country. One of them is a wife, the other a maid. The former 
has the strongest understanding, the other has the prettiest face ; 
but as I am not disposed to become the slave of either, the 
matron stands first. I mention this circumstance to clear up all 
doubt that might arise from the subject, and I speak of these 
ladies to show that we should not despair, and that some satis- 
faction may be found even where it is least expected. 

Lord George is the man of all my acquaintance that I most 
wish to see married : he has the necessary qualifications of riches 
(for we must put that first), honour, prudence and good temper, 
and is come to years of discretion, as it is called. 

Lord Bury comes down in April ; hell stay six weeks, and 
then swear there's no enduring it any longer, and beg leave 
to return. " Wolfe, you'll stay in the Highlands ; you can't 
with any face, ask to quit the regiment so dispersed ; and when 
you have clothed and sent them to their different quarters, to- 
wards the end of November you shall come to London, my dear 
friend, for three months." This will be his discourse, and I must 
say, " My Lord, you are very kind ! " Here are people that 
remember to have seen my father at Fort William. I never 
heard him mention that. Perhaps he has been silent because 
there is a circumstance attending it that does him honour. Of 
all men upon earth, I believe he speaks the least in his own 
praise, and that's the reason why I never expect to see his name 
in the Gazette, I am, etc., etc., 

Jam. Wolfe. 

^' There is good reason to conclude," observes Wright,^ " that 
the ' matron ' alluded to above was Mrs. Forbes, wife of John, only 
son of the famous Lord President. It will be seen that Wolfe 
entertained a high regard for that lady, concerning whose health 
he frequently inquires after he left Scotland. It is much more 
pleasing to look upon the old historic house as the scene of Mrs. 
Forbes's genial hospitality towards the as yet comparatively 
undistinguished officer, than as the temporary abode of the young 
Chevalier and of his successful rival before and after the bloody 
battle that terminated the rebellion." 

1 Ufe, p. 198. 


To HIS Father. 

Inverness, 2{)th March, 1752, 

Dear Sir, — The meeting of the whole regiment and Lord 
Bury's presence will put me to the necessity of changing my 
manner of living, and if I don't acquire more knowledge I shall 
certainly get more health by the change. I have already 
mentioned what kind of weather and how severe a winter we 
have had, and when I add the impossibility of stirring out of the 
town and the difficulty of finding a conversible fit companion in 
it, you may believe that my long confinement has perhaps been 
more from necessity than choice. I can't drink nor play without 
the fear of destroying the officers, and some of them are already 
but too much inclined to that ruinous and disastrous vice. 

It will be in the middle of May before we are reviewed, and 
near the latter end when we send out our Highland detachment. 
June is everywhere a pleasant month, and in July we may begin 
to shoot. Lord Bury likes his diversion, and so do I. Hell 
keep me to carry his powder horn and flints ; we shall ramble 
from post to post till he's tired and goes off*, and then I shall 
retreat into Fort William and remain there until further orders. 
Years roll on in this way, and are (unluckily for us) never to be 
recalled. Our friends forget us ; we grow rustic, hard-tempered 
and severe, and insensibly fall into a course of thought and 
action that is more readily observed than corrected. We use a 
very dangerous freedom and looseness of speech amongst our- 
selves ; this by degrees makes wickedness and debauchery less 
odious than it should be, if not familiar, and sets truth, religion 
and virtue at a great distance. I hear things every day said 
that would shock your ears, and often say things myself that are 
not fit to be repeated, perhaps without any ill intention, but 
merely by the force of custom. The best that can be offered in 
our defence is, that some of us see the evil and wish to avoid it. 

I have shut my books and am every fair day on horse- 
back. I am sorry you have entirely given up that sort of 
exercise, because it is, beyond all dispute, the best. I hope you 
are persuaded that motion of some kind or other is necessary to 
your health. I take the freedom to put you in mind of it, be- 
cause you seem sometimes less solicitous about it than it really 
deserves. My mother suffers when you do, so that I am doubly 
interested in your welfare. I beg my duty to my mother, and 
am, etc., 

Jam. Wolfe. 


To HIS Mother. 

Inverness, April 10th, 1752. 
Dear Madam, — However I may be disposed of, you may 
be secure and satisfied that I shall in all things consider my 
condition ; shall bear any ill-treatment with patience and 
fortitude, and must always think that he who has lost his 
liberty, or was never free, has nothing worth contending for. If 
it was left to my choice, I should run away to the Austrian camp 
at Luxembourg, or to the French army in Lorraine; for I 
don't think myself quite secure in England, and my course of 
thought leads me to shun danger and seek improvement. 

The Lieutenant-Colonel you speak of (I suppose you mean 
Aldercron) is near the top of our list ; he has been strongly 
recommended from Ireland, with the title of long service to 
support the recommendation.^ My success in that way depends 
upon events not to be wished or hoped for. I can only rise 
in war, by my willingness to engage in it. In these cooler 
times the parliamentary interest and weight of particular 
families annihilates all other pretentions ; when I am amongst 
the youngest of my own rank, and have had as great favoui* 
shown me as I could modestly expect. Don''t believe that I 
am insensible of your aflPectionate concern and my father''s in the 
matter ; I know well from whence it flows, and that know- 
ledge will help me to bear little afflictions without wavering 
or repining ; for I know no better reason to be contented than 
that you wish it, and when I'm not truly satisfied I'll endeavour 
to appear so. I must send off my books and recommend them 
to your care; the weight grows too considerable for long 
journeys, and a few well chosen is a great library for a soldier. 

I am, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Lord Bury appears to have been a somewhat difficult personage. 
It was in the highest degree improbable that two natures so 
diametrically opposed could work together without discomfort to 
at least one of them. Bury was but little Wolfe's senior, but he 
was the son of a lord and heir to an earldom. He was arbitrary 

1 Lieut. -Colonel John Aldercron, of the 7th Foot, succeeded to the 
colonelcy of Richheir s—^Q\h (East Middlesex) in March 1752. Early in 
1754 he embarked for Madras with his regiment, — " Primus in Indis" — and 
was nominated Commander-in-Chief in India. He became a Lieut. -General 
in 1760, and died in July 1766.— Wright. 


and capricious. Wolfe was conscious that Lord Bury, who had the 
ear of the Commander-in-Chief, perpetually stood in his way, and 
there were times when he felt an inclination to cut and run from it 
all. He was not a peace soldier. If he was to rise very high it 
must be through active service, and active service was not to be 
had in the Highlands of Scotland. 

An illustration of his Colonel's temper was furnished when Bury 
finally joined his regiment. To find an instance of such a want of 
tact would be to ransack history indeed. Wolfe's manners and 
the behaviour that he had inculcated upon his men had almost 
entirely removed the aversion which the town of Inverness and the 
surrounding inhabitants had first felt for the soldiery. The latter 
had even grown popular. On the arrival of Bary on April 13 
the Provost and Councillors requested his presence at a celebration 
of the Duke of Cumberland's birthday. Bury observed that he was 
delighted to find the inhabitants of Inverness so loyal. But he 
believed that there was another occasion at hand whose cele- 
bration would give his Royal Highness even greater pleasure. This 
was the anniversary of the Battle of Culloden. Consternation 
appeared upon the faces of the deputation ; they retired saying 
that they would consult their colleagues. From men with a 
particle of manhood, a tame acquiescence in such a suggestion could 
hardly be expected. They declined to celebrate the fall of their 
sons, brothers and kinsmen, and a further deputation waited upon 
Bury with an answer to this effect. Bury's retort was to threaten 
them with a military outbreak as a result of the disappointment 
his soldiers would feel. This frightened the poor Provost and 
deputation into compliance ; but what the Lieutenant-Colonel 
must have thought of the tactlessness of such a proceeding can 
best be conjectured. It is safe to say he took no part in this 
impolitic celebration of the Battle of Culloden. 

To HIS Father. 

Inverness^ April 2Srd, 1752. 

Dear Sir, — I am awakened from a state of indolence and 
inactivity by the recollection of what is due to you. 

This is the first letter that I have penned since Lord Bury 
came here. His Lordship pays my attendance upon him with 
fair words and promises ; and he thinks it highly reasonable that 
my long confinement should have an end, though he is far from 
being sure of the Duke's consent. I tell him the matter of fact, 
that when I feel any extraordinary restraint, and am kept longer 


with the regiment than is equitable, I hate the sight of a soldier ; 
have, nevertheless, too much niceness to neglect the service, and 
too much indifference, as to reputation and applause, to exert 
myself to any high degree. Some of these young men have 
borrowed their notions of arms, and the people that compose 
them, from neighboiu*ing nations, and seem of opinion that a 
stupid kind of obedience and conformity to their will supplies 
the want of military virtue and ability. 

Fifteen companies of Foot are to work this summer at the 
new fort. 

I am, etc., 
J. Wolfe. 

The longest winter wears away at last, and Wolfe's departure 
from Inverness drew near. He had now the prospect of leave of 
absence at a favoui'able season of the year, and he determined to 
take advantage of it. If he could not leave the kingdom he could 
at least go to Ireland, and for Ireland Wolfe always cherished 
a warm affection. Early in May, he bade a final farewell to his 
friends in Inverness. He had still a term to fulfil at Fort 
Augustus, before he could set out on his travels. 

Fort Augustus has been made familiar to us through the 
Highland journey of Dr. Johnson. 


Inverness, IQth May, 1752. 

Dear Madam, — ^The best return I can make for your kind 
inquiry and care about my health is to inform you, as quickly 
as possible, that I am extremely well, much better than I have 
been since I came last to Scotland. I wish you would 
always entertain yourself with cheerful thoughts, believe your 
friends as you desire they should be, and put off your concern 
till you are convinced of the contrary. Though I would not 
willingly be forgot, nor even remembered with indifference, yet, 
rather than disturb your peace and felicity, I should be content 
to be not much thought of. Half of our misery arises from 
self-tormenting imaginations. The apprehension and dread of 
evil is the greatest of our misfortunes in this life. Take away 
the mischiefs that the fancy suggests, and it will considerably 
lighten our burden. 

Lord Bury first advised me not to ask leave of absence, but 
afterwards he changed his opinion. I have reason to think that 


it will not be refused. My curiosity and the necessity of riding 
about will put me upon undertaking a very long journey. I 
find that a sedentary life is a very dangerous one, and therefore 
propose this new plan by way of trial, and to refresh and amuse 
myself. At the end of this tour I shall have the pleasure of 
seeing my father and you, and if I find you in health I shall 
find what I most wish for. 

Teeth are valuable from their great use ; the other day I 
broke a fine large one all to pieces. At Paris they put in 
artificial teeth that are every way as serviceable as the natural 
ones, and perhaps they may do the same in London. I see no 
harm in repairing any loss of this kind, as we really can"'t eat or 
speak properly without them. Don''t let accidents of this kind 
disturb you a moment ; there are looks for all seasons of our 
life. You may stand by any lady of your age in Christendom, 
and have through your whole time been a match for all the 
beauties your contemporaries. We have this comfort, that a leg, 
an eye, or a tooth lost, does not necessarily carry away with it 
any one good quality. We can be as charitable, as liberal, and 
as honest, wanting any of these members as with them. There 
is an old general mentioned in history that had but one left of 
what everybody else has commonly two ; and yet with one leg, 
one arm, one eye and one ear, he was, for a drunken man, the 
best officer of his day.^ 

You cannot but pass your time agreeably. What addition 
of happiness could you desire ? A pleasant house and garden, 
fine air, beautiful walks, plenty of good food, books, a sweet- 
tempered young lady to read to you and help to divert you. 
You have a great deal of company, you owe nobody a sixpence, 
and your friends and acquaintances love and esteem you. For 
my part, I think this a situation to be envied, and that all these 
fair appearances would be nothing without a conscience free from 
pangs and an universal benevolence to mankind. With these 
supports we enjoy the present hours, but are not therefore 
unmindful of our natural end. You say your trees are in 
bloom, and you wish not to kill them with too much fruit. 

The remedy is very easy ; pluck off the superfluity, and only 
leave as much as they can afford to nourish, and that will be but 
very little. Let other gardens find you fruit this year and the 
next, and then your own will supply you. 

1 JosiaSj Comte de Rantzau of Holstein, died 1650. 


Mr. Skinner has brought my shirts, and they please me much. 
Are not the ruffles a small matter too long .? I have wore my 
old linen to shivers, and do really thank you for this seasonable 
relief. I sent a trunk to London with books and two pieces of 
Irish cloth, under the care of an old sergeant of the regiment. 
You may open it if you please. I beg my compliments to Miss 
Brydges.^ My duty to my father, etc. 

Jam. Wolfe. 

While on the march, Wolfe and the few companies he took with 
him, heard much of the murder of Colin Campbell of " Glenure.*" 
This singularly dramatic crime has since engaged the pens of many 
historians and novelists from Sir Walter Scott to R. L. Stevenson 
and Mr. Andrew Lang. The supposed assassin was one Alan 
Breck, a cadet of the House of Stuart. 

To HIS Father. 

Fort Augustus, May 28^A, 1752. 

Dear Sir, — We have been here about ten days, and the 
garrison at present consists of two field-officers, five or six other 
officers, and fourscore recruits. Lord Bury was soon tired and 
went off to Fort William ; from thence he goes to Lord Breadal- 
baine'*s, and in a little while after to England. I can''t find work 
enough to employ me here, and as the weather is tolerably fair, 
will visit some of our posts, and perhaps accept of an invitation 
from the Laird of Macleod, who offers to show me a very 
extraordinary old castle in the Isle of Skye.^ Mr. CoUingwood, 
our Lieutenant-Governor, is an old acquaintance of yours ; he 
expresses great esteem for you, and desires me to tell you so. 
He is very agreeable to us all in his character of Governor, and 
if he can't make the place quite pleasant, he endeavours to make 
it easy. 

You have heard of the strange murder that was committed 
about a fortnight since by two Highlanders, at the instigation, 
it is believed, of a lady, the wife of a banished rebel. The 
gentleman was an Argylshire man, and factor upon some of the 
forfeited estates. Several men are apprehended upon suspicion, 

1 Catherine, fourth daughter of the Hon. and Rev. Henry Brydges, and 
sister to Mrs. Inwood. She afterwards married Lindley Simpson, Esq., of 
Bab worth, Notts. Mrs. Wolfe bequeathed her the sum of £200, " together 
with my picture of her sister, and my painted dressing-glass and boxes, in my 
house at Bath." — Wright. 

* Dunvegan Castle. 
N 2 


but I'm sure it will be very difficult to discover the actors of this 
bloody deed. The factor intended to remove the old tenants and 
to plant others in their room, and this is supposed to be their 
reason for killing him. 

One of our officers has sent me a roebuck. It is a curious 
kind of deer, less than our fallow-deer, but seldom fit to eat. I 
intend to have it tamed and carried to England, as a present to 
my mother. It will be three weeks or a month before we shall 
be told whether we may go or must stay. They are more exact 
and ready in warning us of the expiration of our leave than in 
granting it. I wish you much health, beg my duty to my mother, 
and am, 

Dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Not all of Wolfe''s officers were so little enamoured of the High- 
lands as he himself was. One of his captains, Alexander Trapaud, 
known familiarly to him as " Trap,"" really expressed a preference 
for Fort Augustus over any other station. They doubtless indulged 
in much raillery on the subject, but a few months after Wolfe left 
" Trap " had an opportunity of testifying to his preference in a 
practical fashion. He applied for and obtained the post of lieutenant- 
governor of the fort, and there for three and forty years he 
remained. At Fort Augustus this friend of Wolfe married, reared 
a family and duly paid the debt of nature at the advanced age of 
eighty-four, happy in being the principal character in the locality 
and entertaining all strangers who visited that remote region with 
the utmost civility. Here in 1773 came Dr. Johnson and Boswell 
on their route to the Hebrides, and here they passed one August 
night. " It was comfortable,"" wrote Boswell, " to find ourselves in 
a well-built little square and so neatly-furnished house, in good 
company and with a good supper before us ; in short, with all the 
conveniences of civilized life, in the midst of rude mountains Mrs. 
Trapaud and the Governor's daughter and her husband. Captain 
Newmarsh, were all most obliging and polite."" 

As for Dr. Johnson, he says in his own narrative : " Mr. Trapaud, 
the Governor, treated us with that courtesy which is so closely 
connected with the military character. He came out to meet us 
beyond the gates and apologized that at so late an hour the rules of 
a garrison suffered him to give us entrance only at the postern."" 



Wolfe reached Perth on June 20, and here renewed his 
acquaintance with some of his old friends, officers in his father's 
regiment stationed in the royal city. While at Perth he wrote 
Mrs. Wolfe, but did not complete the letter until he arrived in 
Glasgow, en route for Ireland. 

To HIS Mother. 

Perth, June 26, 1762. 

Dear Madam, — I stopped three or four days in this place 
to divert myself with Loftus, who is, I think, rather more 
humorous and pleasant than he used to be, at least he appears 
so to me, who am almost grave. He goes with me to Glasgow, 
where I leave him, and proceed on my journey to Port Patrick. 
Loftus tells me that the physicians have all along mistaken his 
case ; that so far from having his blood tainted (as they have 
been pleased to insinuate), it is to his fine habit of body, and 
strength of constitution that he is indebted for his recovery. 

Mr. Pattison sends a pointer to Blackheath; if you wiU 
order him to be tied up in your stable, or in Mr. Woodcock's 
it will oblige me much. The dog is very ugly but very good. 

I have not yet determined when I shall go, nor how I shall 
travel, only in general that I intend to see the North of Ireland 
and the cities of Cork and Dublin. 

If you hear of a good servant that can, or will learn to dress 
a wig and save me that prodigious expense in London, it will 
be a favour done me to engage him, at least so far that I may 
take him or not when I see him ; sometime towards the latter 
end of August or beginning of September. John is dirty and 
grows impertinent, the other I have turned away for killing one 
horse and for spoiling the rest. 

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 ; I find it not only a very pleasant custom but a very 

wholesome one. 



You know what a whimsical sort of person I am and how 
variable and unsteady ; nothing pleases me now but the rougher 
kind of entertainments, such as hunting, shooting and fishing ; 
there's none of that kind near London, and I have distant 
notions of taking a little, very little house, remote upon the 
edge of the forest, or waste, merely for sport, and keep it till we 
go to Minorca. 

Perth, 24:th June, 1762. 

I writ the above portion of my letter at Perth, and I close it 
at Glasgow. Loftus is by and makes such a noise that I must 
finish as quick as possible. I should be glad to have the shirts 
made like the last as to the collars and sleeves, but a little 
longer and quite plain, for I must be at some expense for fine 
ruffles. I am vastly glad to hear that you are both so well — 
may you long continue so. My duty to my father. 
I am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 
Glasgow, June 26. 

The idea of a sporting lodge in the Highlands, so strikingly 
novel in 1752, has since become a familiar one to the natives of 
these islands. 

Without lingering at Glasgow many days, the Lieutenant- 
Colonel set off at the end of June from Port Patrick on his Irish 
holiday. We must rely upon tradition for Wolfe's itinerary after 
his landing in the north of Ireland. It appears he visited Belfast 
and Londonderry, and no doubt spent some days near the scene of 
his ancestors' feats of arms at Limerick. When our hero arrived 
in Dublin he saw the Irish capital at the height of its outward 
splendour and political importance, the seat of an Irish Parliament, 
and of the Viceregal Court. On the day following his arrival in 
Dublin he thus writes to his father — 

To HIS Father. 

Dublin, 18th July, 1762. 

Dear Sir, — This is the first day of rest since I left Glasgow. 
I came here last night not a little fatigued, you may believe, 
with such continued hard exercise, but otherwise in better 
condition than I have known for fourteen months past, leaner 
than can be described, and burnt to a chip. I have seen your 


letter to my uncle, and am greatly concerned that your health 
is not so perfect as I always wish it to be. If the season has 
been of the same sort that they have had in this country, — very 
wet and cold, — it may be accounted for, and a drier air, and 
more sun will, I hope, relieve you. My uncle has complaints in 
his back and limbs, and is obliged to put on flannels ; whether 
it be the rheumatism or gout flying about him, his physicians 
cannot determine. He is otherwise cheerful and well. I stay 
here four or five days, and then set out for Cork, where I shall 
embark in one of the Bristol ships ; and if I find myself strong 
in health and in circumstances shall continue my journey from 
Bristol through the West, and so home. 

I came yesterday from Drogheda, but not till I had seen 
that ground and the river so remarkable in our history. The 
protestants have erected a monument in memorial of their 
deliverance, very near the ford where the King crossed the 
Boyne. The inscriptions take notice of the happy consequences 
of the battle, and on one side of the pillar they do honour to 
the memory of Duke Schomberg. I had more satisfaction in 
looking at this spot than in all the variety that I have met 
with ; and perhaps there is not another piece of ground in the 
world that I could take so much pleasure to observe. 

The north of Ireland and the neighbourhood of this city are 
very little inferior for beauty and fertility to any parts of 
England that I have seen, and others they exceed in both. 
And there is yet great room for different improvements, par- 
ticularly in planting and draining the boggy grounds. They 
have fine clear streams as can be seen, and very large timber where 
it is encouraged ; but I am told that the best estates are involved 
deeply in debt, the tenants racked and plundered, and consequently 
industry and good husbandry disappointed or destroyed. 

This appears to be a prodigious city, and they continue to 
build ; 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 exceedingly straight and well made. You'll 
be surprised that I should know this so soon, but I have seen 
a multitude already, for they take some pains to show themselves. 
My uncle seems to have preserved his cheerfulness and vivacity. 
He joins with me in wishing you both all manner of good. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

Jam. Wolfe, 


It must have been a source of the most lively satisfaction to 
Major Wolfe to have his brilliant nephew with him. There is 
some reason for believing that he was Wolfe's godfather; at all 
events, the Major stood in a fervently avuncular relation to 
him. Major Wolfe was an old bachelor. He had often visited his 
brother's family when James was a child and detected unusual 
qualities in the boy. He was always urging him forward, and 
begging him to remember that his purse was ever open to his 
I necessities. "Uncle Wat,'' as his nephew always affectionately 
.y styles him, was a character not unlike "my Uncle Toby." His 
I talk was all of column, square and echelon, convex and concave 
I fronts, and the formal tactics and complicated drill of Marl- 
borough's day. Wolfe, like most young men, and especially those 
who had seen so much of the actual practice of warfare, was inclined 
to hold views which the elder man warmly denounced as heterodox. 
The Major probably resided at Lucas's Coffee House, on Cork 
Hill, near the Castle. At all events, this was his favourite place 
of resort, as it was of all officers in Dublin, being indeed a sort of 
military rendezvous and officers' club. The ground immediately 
in the rear of Lucas's enjoyed a somewhat sinister reputation in 
those days, inasmuch as this was the scene of numberless duels. 
Such affairs of honour commonly drew a crowd of gallant spectators 
to the windows of the establishment, some of whom were prepared 
to back their favourite combatant with their money. 

It is much to be regretted that we possess no further account 
of Wolfe's journeyings in the south of Ireland. About the middle 
of August he crossed the Channel to Bristol and made his way 
thence to Blackheath. The house which Wolfe now visited for 
the first time, and by which its owner and builder set great store, 
still survives with its sombre front facing Blackheath Common in 
nearly the same state as it was a century and a half ago. The 
land upon which the house stands and the not very extensive 
garden behind it are carved out of Greenwich Park, so that in 
those days, when the Park was not so much frequented by the 
populace, as it became at a later period, the General may be con- 
sidered as claiming its beauty and expanse as his own. It is in an 
elevated situation at the top of Croom's Hill, and before it rose 
eventually a shaded avenue, now called Chesterfield Walk, out of 
compliment to the noble lord who established his suburban residence 
in the fine Queen Anne mansion a stone's throw from that of the 
Wolfes. Chesterfield was, at the moment of Wolfe's arrival in 
Blackheath, enjoying an unusual amount of celebrity as the pro- 


meter of the famous change in the calendar, by which the 3rd of 
September, 1752, became the 14th, and the new year was decreed 
to begin on the 1st of January instead of the 25th March.^ 

At Blackheath Wolfe waited somewhat impatiently for a 
favourable response to his further application for leave to go 
abroad. Why this should have been withheld was something of 
a mystery unless it was that the General or Mrs. Wolfe secretly 
opposed the idea, as fearing that their son might contract an 
undesirable alliance either marital or military. We have already 
seen his half-threats to embrace the Prussian service, and it is 
believed Count Lacey offered him an appointment on his staff. 
Again, the Duke of Cumberland probably condemned as arrant 
nonsense the idea of any officer improving his ideas by foreign 
travel. His Colonel, Lord Bury, discouraged the notion out of 
purely selfish reasons, until he began to see his Lieutenant-ColonePs 
temper rising, and fearing to lose him altogether interceded with 
the Commander-in-Chief. Very luckily for Wolfe, Bury's father, 
the Earl of Albemarle, was British Ambassador to the Court of 
Versailles, and this promised to render Wolfe*'s path a pleasant 
one. On October 2, therefore, armed with several letters to 
persons of influence, he set out for Paris. The young officer could 
hardly have visited the French capital at a more propitious 
moment. There was an interval — brief enough as it turned out — of 
peace between the two countries. Louis XV was in the height of 
his career of luxury, vice and splendour. But it was neither Louis 
nor his ministers, but the Marquise de Pompadour who governed 
the kingdom. 

This daughter of a humble army commissary, Francois Poisson, 
had been some time installed at Versailles, first as mistress and 
afterwards as ami necessaire. It is amazing to read of the incessant 
artifices this woman resorted to in order to keep her power — " the 
everlasting huntings, concerts, private theatricals, late suppers and 
what not — anything to distract the royal mind and to make it 
think only of the clever purveyor of gaieties." Being a woman of 
real ability she gradually became premier of France, and the 
ministerial council condescended to a^emble in her boudoir. 

^ This reform of the Calendar has been fruitful of much confusion as 
regards the dating of letters : particularly those written by Wolfe. But 
before 17o3 it had been the practice to indicate both years in letters penned 
between January 1 and Lady Day — thus : 1751-2, or 17|i, sometimes 
increasing instead of lessening the confusion. Or the writer forgot the 
precise year, leaving to posterity to ascertain it, if, in the case of his letters, 
it were worth ascertaining. 


To HIS Father. 

Paris, ^th October, 1752. 

Deae Sir, — As I am vastly sensible of the many favours 
and marks of kindness that you have heaped upon me, so I 
shall endeavour to make you as sensible of my gratitude. 
Your generous proceeding in enabling me to undertake 
this business shall never be forgot. I hope and I dare say 
you have overlooked and forgiven that part of my former 
conduct you had just reason to be displeased with in the belief 
that it arose more from my distemper than from my natural 

I think it was the 2nd of October that I left Blackheath. 
I lay that night at Canterbury; an old friend, a captain of 
Dragoons, supped with me, and helped to deliver me from my 
own thoughts. The 3rd I went to Dover, and as my old Lady 
Grey^s house was in the way I called on her, and was very 
graciously received.^ She pressed me to dine, but that could 
not be, as the time of the packet's sailing was uncertain. At 
her house I met a Miss Scott, whom my mother has heard of. 
The good old lady diverted herself with us two, told each that 
the other was not married, offered her mediation, and thought 
it a very lucky encounter, for the young lady and I got to the 
house exactly at the same time. However, I escaped untouched, 
and left my old friend to make up matters as she pleased. The 
packet did not sail that night, but we embarked at half-an-hour 
after six on Wednesday morning, and got into Calais at ten. I 
never suffered so much in so short a time at sea. There were 
two English gentlemen of condition in the ship travelling my 
way ; we agreed to come together, and on Saturday, the 7th, in 
the morning, arrived at Paris without any sort of difficulty or 

The people seem (as their character is) to be very sprightly, 
and to deal largely in the exterior ; for a man can hardly commit 
a greater crime than to be mal mise, ou mal coiffe. 

The buildings are very magnificent, far surpassing any we 
have in London ; I mean the houses of the higher nobility and 
peers of France. The Gardens des Tuileries, that you have 
heard so much of, is as disagreeable a sandy walk as one would 
wish. They are indeed near the Seine and the Louvre, but have 
little else to recommend them. The Mall, or your park at 
Greenwich, are infinitely superior. There are no fortified towns 
1 Lady Grey of Howick, see post, p. 293. 


between Calais and Paris ; the country is very beautiful in most 
places, entirely in corn, and quite open where the woods allow it 
to be so ; that is, there are few or no enclosures. 

Mr. Selwin ^ has recommended a French master to me, and in 
a few days I begin to ride in the Academy, but must dance and 
fence in my own lodgings, for fear of a discovery. A letter 
would miscarry that had any strokes of politics in it, so I shall 
never touch that matter; besides, it is neither your taste nor 
mine. The Dauphin is perfectly recovered,^ and I believe the 
people are very hearty and sincere in the satisfaction and pleasure 
they profess upon that occasion. The Duke of Orleans, to 
signify his particular joy, has given an entertainment at St. 
Cloud, in the highest taste and magnificence, and at prodigious 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

The Mr. Haren of the following was an old friend of the 
Wolfes in Burlington Gardens. 

To HIS Mother. 

Paris, 2Qth October, 1752. 

Dear Madam, — Having discovered that I understand but 
little of the French language, and that I speak it very incorrectly 
(Notwithstanding Mr. Haren's honourable approbation), I am 
disposed to fall upon some method that may lead me to a better 
knowledge of that useful tongue. The first necessary step is to 
leave ofl' speaking English, and to write it as little as possible. 
This resolution of mine shall not, however, extend so far as to 
cut off all communication between us, for I had rather lose this 
or a much greater advantage than be denied the satisfaction of 
expressing my regard for you in the plainest and dearest manner ; 
and I will borrow neither the language nor meaning of these airy 
people when I speak of that. 

Lord Albemarle is come from Fontainebleau to his country 
house within two miles of Paris, and will soon be fixed for the 
cold season. I went to Fontainebleau to pay my respects to 
him, and have very good reason to be pleased with the reception 
I met with. The best amusement for strangers in Paris is the 
Opera, and the next to that is the playhouse. There are some 
fine voices in the first, and several good actors in the last. The 
1 An English banker in Paris. ^ Of the small-pox. 


theatre is a school to acquire the French language, for which 
reason I frequent it more than the other. Besides it is a cheaper 
diversion. Youll be glad to hear that your nephew Whetham ^ 
is in very good hands ; his governor, or companion, is a gentleman 
of Switzerland, who was formerly in the army, and is very well 
spoken of. My cousin is expected here in three weeks or a 
month, and he stays all the winter in Paris. Madame Pompadour 
is a very agreeable woman. I had the good fortune to be placed 
near her for a considerable time. I beg my duty to my father, 
and wish you both health and all the good you deserve. 

I am, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Madame de Pompadour observed of the British Ambassador to 
France, " Milord Albemarle passes his time agreeably here. The 
King of England who loves him, though I know not why, sends 
him his lesson all ready, and he comes to repeat it like a school- 
boy to the minister of foreign affairs."" A previous English visitor 
to Paris, Horace Walpole, wrote, "Lord Albemarle keeps an 
immense table there with sixteen people in the kitchen : his aides- 
de-camp invite everybody, but he seldom graces the banquet 
himself, living retired out of the town with his old Columbine 
[Mademoiselle Gaucher]. What an extraordinary man ! With 
no fortune at all and with slight parts, he has seventeen thoUvSand 
a year from the Government which he squanders away, though he 
has great debts." 

One of the first of Wolfe's new English acquaintance in Paris 
was none other than Philip Stanhope, natural son of General 
Wolfe's Blackheath neighbour, the Earl of Chesterfield. This 
young man, who had not yet attained his majority, destined 
to attain celebrity as the recipient of some of the most extra- 
ordinary letters in the language, had arrived in Paris with his 
tutor, the Reverend Walter Harte, afterwards a canon of Windsor. 

To HIS Father. 

Paris, 2nd November , 1752. 
Dear Sir, — It is very obliging in you to make the continu- 
ance of your favour depend upon myself. There is nothing 

1 John Whetham, Esq., of Kirklington Hall, Nottinghamshire, was the 
only son of Lieut. -General Thomas Whetham and Mary, daughter of Edward 
Thompson, Esq., of Marston, Yorkshire (Mrs. Wolfe's sister). He was born 
in 1731 ; married Elizabeth, daughter of Evelyn Chadwick, Esq., of West 
Leak ; was sheriff of the county of York ; and died without surviving issue in 
1781. — Burke's Landed Gentry. 


upon earth that I value so much as your affection and esteem 
and I hope nothing will ever happen that will force you to 
withdraw either the one or the other. Your neighbours are 
kind in their enquiries after me. I believe they think they 
oblige you in so doing. I would rather owe their civility to a 
favourable disposition towards you than to any opinion they 
might entertain of me. 

Lord Albemarle has behaved to me in a manner that I could 
not presume to expect from him. Whenever he comes to Paris 
he immediately sends for me to his house, and puts me upon so 
easy and genteel a footing there that I have not language enough 
to return him proper thanks. If you should see Lord Bury, I 
beg youll be so good to take notice of it. I have writ to his 
Lordship to acknowledge the effect of his letter, and to signify 
my grateful sense of his and his father's excessive politeness. 
There's but little company in town at present. In ten days, 
however, it will be crowded. Mr. Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield's 
son, is here ; he came to visit me the other day, after his arrival, 
but we have made no acquaintance yet, so that I cannot give 
you any judgment upon the offspring of so great a man ; but I 
fancy, not without some grounds, he is infinitely inferior to his 
father. Lord Brudenell is at one of the academies, and is the 
direct reverse of the Earl. One could hardly believe that a 
creature of his stamp could have any relation or connection with 
a man of Lord Cardigan's sweetness of temper. We have had 
the finest autumn that has been known for many years. The 
dry air and constant exercise have restored me to a condition to 
be envied. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

So Wolfe was not long to be without relations in Paris. 
Whetham was three or four years Wolfe's junior, and, as we shall 
see, his cousin James forms an excellent opinion of him. 

To HIS Mother. 

Paris, 14tth November, 1752. 

Dear Madam, — One would imagine that a great city would 

provide a great deal of furniture for a letter and that with such 

variety to work upon, a man of an indifferent genius would find 

his hands full. So much of my time is taken up in different 


sort of exercises as to leave very little for anything else. For 
instance, I am up every morning at, or before seven o'clock, and 
fully employed till twelve ; then I dress and visit, and dine at 
two. At five, most people (I mean strangers) go to the public 
entertainments, which keep you till nine, and at eleven I am 
always in bed. This way of living is directly opposite to the 
practice of the place ; but I find it impossible to pursue the 
business I came upon and to comply with the customs and 
manners of the inhabitants at the same time. No constitution, 
however robust, could go through all. My cousin Whetham is 
near me, and lives much in the same way that I do. We are 
a good deal together, and as far as I can perceive he has an 
exceeding sweet temper. He has been strangely managed in 
his education, not in point of learning, but in other respects. 
However, his principles are right, and I hope unalterable. 

J. Wolfe. 
To HIS Mother. 

Paris^ November 25, 1752. 

Dear Madam, — Some days ago I sent for a dentist to 
examine my teeth, he examined them ; told me they were much 
better teeth and in better order than was common to our 
countrymen. However he found out that two of them stood in 
need of his art and he immediately applied himself to redress the 
evil and stuffed lead where it was necessary. When the opera- 
tion was over I told him that a lady of my acquaintance whose 
welfare I had very much at heart, complained of her teeth ; he 
asked me several questions concerning the condition of your 
gums and teeth, what you had been accustomed to feed most 
upon, what you had used to clean your mouth with, and what 
remedies you had hitherto used to preserve your teeth. As I 
could not satisfy him clearly, he told me that if you would get 
any surgeon to state the present case of your teeth and gums 
and omit nothing that could contribute to give him a thorough 
knowledge of your disorder, he would advise you how to proceed, 
but he seemed to think by the description I gave him, that there 
is a humour in your blood that discovers itself in the parts 
above mentioned. He talk'd of incisions in the gums and other 
operations that I did not understand. If you think it worth 
your while to consult with a man at this distance you will do 
as he desires and leave the rest to me. 

I hope the meeting of the Generals will end in the punish- 
ment of those that deserve it and that have hitherto escaped 


the hand of justice. My father's share in that business must 
necessarily stir him about, and I hope as he goes often to 
London, he will take some opportunity of doing what he never 
did in his life, I mean of speaking a good word for himself. 
It is extraordinary that a man so just to every body else, should 
all along forget what is due to his o^vn person. 

My way of life that you enquire after is very singular for 
a young man that appears to be in the world and in 
pleasure. Four or five days in the week I am up an hour be- 
fore day (that is six hours sooner than any other fine gentleman 
in Paris), I ride, and as I told you in a former letter I fence and 
dance and have a master to teach me French. These occupa- 
tions take up all the morning. I dine twice or three times a 
week at home, sometimes at Lord Albemarle's, and some time 
with my English acquaintances. After dinner, I either go to 
the public entertainments or to visit, at nine I come home, and 
am in bed generally before eleven. I can't say I have any idle 
time ; nor do I live in the most agreeable manner, but I get 
what I came here for, I take great care of my health. I succeed 
much better in fencing and riding than I do in the art of danc- 
ing, for they suit my genius better ; and I improve a little in the 
French language. Lord Albemarle has done me the favour to 
invite me to his house when he has had the foreign ambassadors 
and some considerable men of this country to dinner, but I have 
no great acquaintance with the French women, nor am likely to 
have — it is almost impossible to introduce oneself amongst them- 
selves without losing a great deal of money, which you know I 
can't afford ; besides these entertainments begin at the time I go 
to bed, and I have not health enough to sit up all night and 
work all day. If I had three or four female acquaintances that 
would be contented with an hour or two of conversation, it is all 
that I desire. You may perhaps think that my way of going on 
infers little or no expense, but I must assure you on the contrary, 
and that without the least extravagance on my side, unless 
wearing laced ruffles may be reckon'd so, which I am forced to 
do in conformity to the general practice, and that I may be the 
better received. I told you in my last letter what kind of a 
youth my cousin appears to be ; we are likely to live well to- 
gether, he is very peacable and good-humoured, and I have no 
mind to quarrel with anybody, especially with friends or rela- 
tions. I thank you for the precaution about my clothes, but I 
shall be in no great danger. I have been at Lady Browne's, and 


have found her to be a very sensible entertaining woman. She 
sees but Httle company, takes great care of a little daughter that 
she has, who appears to be very well-bred and very clever. I 
have been introduced to Lady Archibald Hamilton too. She is 
so well known that I need say no more.^ 

Ill stand to any bargain that you may make with Mrs. 
Morris, providing you are to reap any benefit by my sufferings. 
Ill kiss her till she cries out, if it can be of any service to you, 
though I think I should have enough to do to make her squeak. 

The poor people of this land are going into confusion upon 
religious matters, and at a critical time, when they might free 
themselves from an intolerable burden. I hate to see misery or 
the prospect of misery, even amongst those likely to become our 
enemies. This is all that can be said upon the subject. 

All my letters are come safe. Rickson is lucky in the change 
and happy. I dare say he thinks himself to have escaped. We 
shall meet at Edinburgh in the spring ; in the meantime I beg 
you to assure him of my constant friendship. I wish I could 
send you the finest grapes that can be seen. They are gathered 
every day fresh for me in the gardens of a convent, and are the 
same that the King eats. It would be a far greater pleasure to 
offer them to you, than to use them myself. Fresh grapes in 
the latter part of November are a curiosity. 

I wish you both much health and much diversion. My duty 
to my father. 

I am, dear madam. 

Your obedient and affectionate son, 

J. W. 

An old lady of fashion, a relation of Col. Lafausille, has 
been extremely civil to me. If my father ever writes to the 
Colonel I should be glad, he would take notice of that. 

To HIS Father. 

Paris, Uh December, 1752. 

Dear Sir, — The post comes in almost as regularly as if there 

was no water-carriage, so that when you do me the honour to 

^ Lady Jane, daughter of James, sixth Earl of Abercorn, was the second 
wife of Lord Archibald, youngest son of William, third Duke of Hamilton. 
Lord Archibald Hamilton, who was Governor of Jamaica and of Greenwich 
Hospital, died about a year after his wife, aged eighty-two. They had three 
sons, of whom the youngest was William, who became one of the King's 
equerries, and M.P. for Midhurst. It almost startles us to reflect that this 
Ensign Hamilton, Wolfe's " friend and companion," became Nelson's friend. 
Sir William Hamilton and the husband of the famous Lady Hamilton. 


write I get your letter very soon. That of the 27th November 
came to me on the 2nd instant. 

It is, as you say, Sir, some sort of advantage to me to have 
admittance to the Ambassador, and an honour to be under his 
protection ; but it does not include all the advantages that one 
would be apt to imagine. His Lordship does not see so much 
company as Ambassadors commonly do ; and though he is vastly 
liked and generally esteemed in France, his way of living and 
that of the people of the country is somewhat different. 

The Duke of Richmond is in Paris. I have met him some- 
times at Lord Albemarle's, and by that means have the honour 
to know him. As far as my discernment goes, he promises 
to make a considerable figure in our way, to which his genius 
seems to lead him, and what is uncommon at eighteen he is not 
entirely taken up with the outward appearances and gildings of 
soldiership, but aims at the higher and more solid branches of 
military knowledge.^ 

Mr. Haren's nephew is lately returned from his country 
house. He and a very civil old lady, his mother, have 
endeavoured to convince me that a recommendation from Mr. 
Haren has all imaginable regard paid to it. They have received 
me in a very polite manner, and sufficiently proved their affection 
for their relation and difference for strangers by that reception. 
Lady Archibald Hamilton died last night of a fever, after an 
illness of a few days. She had left her little family in the 
utmost grief and distress. Lord Archibald is extremely old 
and infirm ; his son and daughter are both very young, and 
nobody to direct or assist them — I mean no relation, for I believe 
Lord Albemarle will do everything that is right and proper. 
The son is an ensign in the Third Regiment, and my friend and 
companion. You may believe that if I can be of the least use 
to him I sha''n't neglect the opportunity. 

I have inquired after the Pretender, and can't hear where he 
hides himself There are people that believe him to be secreted 
in Poland with some of his mother's relations. My friend 

Colonel D has got a regiment of Dragoons. There is a 

sort of interest that man has crept into, better and of more 
efficiency than service, worth, or honour. It would almost make 
one forswear open, fair behaviour as lumber, and the impediment 

1 He succeeded to the Dukedom in 1750. His future was distinguished, 
and he died a Field-Marshal. Entering political life he became in 1765 
Principal Secretary of State in the Rockingham administration, 


to success and a marischars staff; but, on the other hand, a man 
sleeps well that uses moderate exercise, and never dabbles in a 
dirty pool. There are multitudes of extravagant customs that 
divert, but there is one that makes me laugh every day. The 
coachmen here drive with enormous black bear-skin mufPs, tied 
round their waists, and that, when their horses go on are turned 
behind. The people here use umbrellas in hot weather to defend 
them from the sun, and something of the same kind to secure 
them from the snow and rain. 

I wonder a practice so useful is not introduced into England, 
where there are such frequent showers, and especially in the 
country, where they can be expanded without any inconveniency.^ 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

As my mother has signified her desire to have me dance and 
as I am very willing to oblige her in every thing I have asked my 
master, whether he thinks it possible ever to bring that matter 
about; his answer is that he is not positively sure he shall 
succeed ; but if four months close application does not effect it, 
he shall give me up. I intend to be beforehand with him and 
dismiss him by that time, or whenever I find myself incurable. 

Close application won the day, and Wolfe became an excellent 

To HIS Mother. 

Paris, \2th December, 1762. 

Dear Madam, — I sit down to write a letter to you which, if 

it does not entertain you, will convince you, at least, that I think 

of you, and remember your kindness. If I should imitate the 

practice of this country, I should study how to talk, how to 

persuade you that I am the thing I am not ; but my experience 

tells me that I shall succeed better by doing what is right than 

by a handsome speech of empty consequence. There are men 

that only desire to shine, and that had rather say a smart thing 

than do a great one; there are others — rare birds — that had 

rather be than seem to be. Of the first kind this country is a 

well-stored magazine; of the second, our own has some few 

examples. A Frenchman that makes his mistress laugh has no 

favour to ask of her; he is at the top of his ambition. Our 

^ It was not until some years later that Jonas Hanway, defying the jeers 
of the populace_, strolled through London carrying an umbrella, derided, it is 
true, but dry. 


countrymen are too grave, too sanguine, too intent, to be satisfied 
with such success. 

I hear a piece of news from England that gives me, and all 
of us, great concern. We are told that Lord Harcourt and the 
Bishop of Norwich have resigned. Could Mr. Stone overthrow 
two such men ? Could he, or anybody else, behave to them so 
as to oblige them to give up the most important charge in the 
kingdom ? ^ Somebody more subservient, perhaps, is to be 
placed ; somebody who will lead the pupils to proper purposes, 
and bring them to think that only one set of men are fit to 
govern the kingdom. J^enrage, as the French say when they 
are provoked, that my trusty Lord Harcourt is deposed. He 
had the general voice of the people for him, and nobody was 
thought so proper for that high office. 

I told my uncle Wat that I had four masters every day, 
which he does not think sufficient ! His concern for me goes so 
far as to make him wish that I had no time to eat or sleep. I 
have been forced to pacify his rage for improvement with 
assuring him that I can't bear above so much at a time. I'll 
charge you with an office of great trust. FU give you power to 
speak to Mr. Fisher, or anybody else you can think of, to renew 
my credit, as far as it will go, about the middle of next month. 
It would be almost as ungracious to want credit in an enemy's 
country as it would be disagreeable to want money in a friend's. 
I never think upon this subject without recollecting my good 
friend Fitz.,^ and the cries of poor Arthur Loftus, who is afraid 
he shall starve in my country-house if I stay long at Paris. 
Your nephew Whetham is the best tempered youth that I know. 
He offers his respects to you. 

I am, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 
To HIS Father. 

Paris, 22nd December, 1752. 

Dear Sir, — I wish I could send a piece of tapestry from the 
.Gobelins, or a picture from the Palais Royal, instead of a letter, 
either would be a present worthy your reception, as either 
would be matchless in their kind. I had the good fortune to 

1 The Rev. Mr. Stone was the deputy-governor under Lord Harcourt 
for the young Prince of Wales (afterwards George HI), and his brother Prince 
Edward. Dr. Hayter^ Bishop of Norwich_, was tutor and Scott his deputy. A 
curious dispute arose as to the Prince's education, detailed in the present 
author's George III, 1907. 

2 Lord Fitzmaurice. 
o 2 


see the manufacture of tapestry at a time when they showed it 
to an ambassador. Then it is that they produce all that 
invention and industry can contrive and execute. I was a good 
deal surprised to find that the principal director of that 
ingenious workmanship is a Scotchman. 

My friend Carleton sends me conjectures about a successor to 
Lord Harcourt.^ I am sorry any such person is necessary, 
because I think that high office was in fit hands before. It is 
melancholy that in an affair of such trust and importance there 
should be men so placed and so confided in, that the leaders are 
in a manner subordinate to their inferiors. The French have 
their domestic troubles too, as well as ourselves ; but theirs are 
still of a more serious kind. The clergy and people are in 
opposite sentiments for the present, and it will require the 
exertion of very great authority to reconcile them to each other. 
The ecclesiastics have unluckily been the authors of almost all 
the mischief that has been done in Europe and in America since 
the first introduction of Christianity, and they do in some places 
continue their evil practices. It is surprising that there are so 
few potentates in Europe that are able to keep them in any 
order, and the more surprising that the example of these few 
has no effect upon the rest, notwithstanding the visible difference 
between a well-governed body of clergy and the reverse. 

Paris is full of people ; that is, all the company is come in 
from the country, and an abundance of genteel persons of both 
sexes are every day exposed to public view. The natives in 
general are not handsome either in face or figure; but then, 
they improve what they have. They adorn themselves to more 
advantage, and appear with more outside lustre, than any other 
people, at least that I have seen or heard of. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

How strange to reflect that a few years before the fall of the 
French dominion in America, the same small apartment should 
have contained the real ruler of France, and the man who was to 
wrest from France its finest jewel. The picture is striking. La 
Pompadour seated before her mirror, while her coiffeur arranges 
her massy chevelure, occasionally vouchsafing a word or smile 

1 Lord Harcourt, thus commended by Wolfe, was afterwards chosen by 
young George III to demand the hand of Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg 
Strelitz in marriage. He became Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and was drowned 
accidentally in a well at Nuneham in 1777. 


to her entourage. Her eye rests upon the tall, youthful figure of 
the young English officer. One can fancy her asking, " Who 
is that young man ? "*' " That, madame, is Monsieur Wolfe, 
Lieutenant-Colonel of English Infantry."" "Wolfe — ah — that is 
the same as le Loup ; a terrible name for those mild blue eyes and 
kindly mouth ! En verite^ voiis mefaites peur, M. Wolfe ! " 

The offer which came to Wolfe of a travelling military 
tutorship to the young Duke of Richmond was, although a 
lucrative berth, not regarded by him as " in his line.'"* If he would 
not take it himself, however, he took pains to recommend an 
intimate friend, a young officer who afterwards rose to great 
distinction, and whose name and fame is hardly less than Wolfe's 
own, bound up in the history of Canada and the Empire. This 
was Captain Guy Carleton, who took part in the conquest of 
Quebec, as Governor of Canada, and died Lord Dorchester. 

To HIS Mother. 

Paris, January 2nd, 1763. 

Dear Madam, — I was yesterday at Versailles, a cold spectator 
of what we commonly call splendour and magnificence. A 
multitude of men and women were assembled to bow and pay 
their compliments in the most submissive manner to a creature 
of their own species. I went through the different apartments 
with our Ambassador, who did me the honour to allow me to 
wait upon him, and saw him do his part very gracefully, well 
received by the Queen, the Dauphin, the Dauphiness, the 
Infanta, the Mesdames, the Secretary of State, and lastly by 
the Marquise de Pompadour, who seemed to distinguish him 
from the rest by her civilities and courtesy. All the courtiers, 
as in England, go to court upon the New Year's Day, and as 
they are more numerous here than there it makes a very fine 
show. The Duke of Richmond offered me a place in his coach, 
an honour that I could not refuse, especially as Lord Albemarle 
was so kind as to give me a room at his house, with invitation 
to sup with him. Lord Albemarle has proposed to present my 
cousin Whetham and me to the King, which I have no objection 
to but the fear of the expense of a new coat. However, as it 
comes from his Lordship in so handsome a manner, I don't think 
it is to be rejected. This is the first time that I have been at 
Versailles, and luckily there was an installation of a Knight of 
the Order of the Holy Ghost, and we were placed in such a 
manner in the King's Chapel by the master of the Ceremonies 


that no part of the ceremony escaped us. The weather was so 
severe that it was impossible to see the gardens, or to examine 
the buildings. 

Sir John Mordaunt did me the honour to write to me from 
Bath, where he is, or has been for his old rheumatic complaint. 
He touches lightly upon a certain subject in his comic style, and, 
with a jest upon the sex, wonders at my perseverance. I have 
answered his letter, and have given him to understand that as 
I did not mean to conceal anything from him, I had mentioned 
the affair to him, but that I was extremely well pleased with my 
situation, and did not intend to be troublesome. The Duke of 
Richmond is to have a company in Lord Bury's regiment ; he 
wants some skilful man to travel with him through the fortified 
towns of the Low Countries and into Lorraine. I have proposed 
my friend Carleton, whom Lord Albemarle approves of ; but as 
things may take another turn, it must not be mentioned. It is 
reported at Paris that the Pretender has changed his religion. 
We are too well governed in England to apprehend that or any 
other change. I believe he might as well keep his confessor. 
An acquaintance of mine goes to England in a few days, and 
takes with him two black laced hoods for you, and a vestale for 
the neck, such as the Queen of France wears. 

I am, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Wolfe^s '' perseverance " deserved a better fate, but it was hard 
to erase Miss Lawson'^s image from his heart. 

His friend Carleton got the lucrative post for which Wolfe had 
recommended him. 

To HIS Father. 

Paris^ \0 January, 1753. 

Dear Sir, — There is so much reason to be satisfied and to 
thank you for what you have already done for me, that it would 
ill become me to require any further supply, especially as you 
tell me that the granting of it would be inconvenient. I have 
no particular attachment to Paris, the reason that brought me 
here is a sufficient one for my stay, and I am only sorry that my 
time and circumstances are so limited. Anybody that knows 
the <life I live may give testimony that I am not idle, but if 
I should break off after three months' close application, my time 



From a contemparari/ portrait 


will have been entirely thrown away, and your money very ill 
employed. You know, Sir, what difficulties I have had to get 
leave to come abroad. I never expect a second indulgence, and 
therefore must not lose this opportunity though it should cost 
me many hours of retreat hereafter. 

The Duke has consented to Carleton''s coming abroad to 
attend the Duke of Richmond as a military preceptor in his 
tour through the fortified towns of the Low Countries. It will 
be of singular use to the young man, and I hope of great 
service to my friend. Lord Falkland, Mr. Dawnay, Whetham, 
and myself, were introduced yesterday to the King and the 
Royal Family, and lastly to Madame Pompadour and Monsieur 
de St. Contest, the minister. They were all very gracious as far 
as courtesies, bows, and smiles go, for the Bourbons seldom 
speak to anybody. Madame la Marquise entertained us at her 
toilette. We found her curling her hair. She is extremely 
handsome, and, by her conversation with the Ambassador and 
others that were present, I judge she must have a great deal of 
wit and understanding. 

Exclusive of Lord Albemarle's being the English Ambassador, 
I observe that at Versailles they pay a particular respect and 
deference to his person, which is a proof that he is extremely in 
the King's good graces ; and I should wonder if it was not so, 
considering how accomplished a man he is for courts, and how 
particularly calculated he seems to be for the French nation. 
I wish you both health, and a happy New Year. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Mrs. Wolfe does not seem to have understood her son's motives 
in not offering himself as the ducal tutor. He enlightens her. 

To HIS Mother. 

Paris^ January IQth, 1753. 

Dear Madam, — You have known me long enough to 
discover that I don't always prefer my own interest to that of 
my friends. I was asked if I knew a military man fit to 
accompany the young Duke, and immediately named Carleton, 
who is appointed to attend him. It would have been as easy 
for me to hesitate about the question and afterwards to have 
offered my services ; but, exclusive of my liking for Carleton, 
I don't think myself quite equal to the task, and as for the 


pension that might follow, it is very certain that it would not 
become me to accept it. I can't take money from any one but 
the King, my master, or from some of his blood. The Duke 
of Richmond's friendship will be an honour to me, provided he 
turns out well, and serves his country with reputation, which 
I think is very likely to happen. If he miscarries from bad 
principles, I shall be the first to fly from his intimacy. 

Though I suppose myself recovered in a great measure from 
my disorder that my extravagant love for Miss Lawson threw 
me into, yet I never hear her name mentioned without a twitch, 
or hardly ever think of her with indifference. Every good 
account of her helps to justify me, and the better you know her, 
the easier you'll find excuses for me. Pray tell Miss Haren that 
I'm obliged to her for helping to convince you that at least my 
choice was a good one. A man may be greatly prepossessed in 
favour of a lady without bringing many people to be of his 
opinion. My amour has not been without its use. It has 
defended me against other women, introduced a great deal of 
philosophy and tranquillity as to all objects of our strongest 
affections, and something softened the disposition to severity 
and rigour that I had contracted in the camp, trained up as 
I was from my infancy to the conclusion of the Peace, in war 
and tumult. 

I am often surprised at the little sensibility that I feel in 
myself at the sight of the finest and fairest females ; though I 
have seldom supped out, yet whenever I have it has happened that 
some of the prettiest women in Paris, and particularly one, was 
at table. An eye to subdue the hardest heart had much the 
same effect upon me, as if the likeness had been drawn upon 
canvas, and set up to look at ; but don't let this discourage you, 
or make you believe that I have abandoned the whole sex for 
one disappointment. There are times that a good constitution 
overcomes all difficulties. 

My exercises go on extremely well. Monsieur Fesian, the 
dancing-master, assures me that I make a surprising progress, 
but that my time will be too short to possess (as he calls it) the 
minuet to any great perfection ; however, he pretends to think 
that I shall dance not to be laughed at. I am on horseback 
every morning at break of day, and do presume that, with the 
advantage of long legs and thighs, I shall be able to sit a horse 
at a hand-gallop. Lastly, the fencing-master declares me to 
have a very quick wrist, and no inconsiderable lunge, from the 


reasons aforesaid. The General will explain the word longe^ 
or lunge. 

I pronounce the French tongue, and consequently read it, 
better than when I came ; but in the capital of this great 
Kingdom, I speak more English than French, and therefore 
don''t do so well as I ought. Thus I have made my report to 
you concerning the reasons of my coming here, and shall conclude 
my letter with very hearty wishes for both your welfares. 

I am, etc., 
J. Wolfe. 

It would seem that the old General considered his son 
extravagant, and from this charge James defends himself in his 
next letter. 

To HIS Father. 

Paris, January 29, 1763. 

Dear Sir, — I am more concerned to be obliged to ask 
money of you, than you are to give it, and I should leave Paris 
six weeks sooner than I intended, rather than distress you in 
the smallest degree, if such a step would not destroy almost 
everything that I have been doing hitherto. I told you in my 
last letter how expensive a place this is, and to prove it, I can 
assure you upon my honour that the articles of play and 
women (the most extravagant in Paris) have not amounted to 
20 Louis-d'ors, that my tailor''s bill for two suits of Clothes, 
a frock and liveries, does not exceed seventy pounds ; the 
ruffles that I have been forced to wear, is indeed a considerable 
expense — the rest has been paid for my coat and lodgings, 
food, servants, and for the best masters, in this kind, that this 
city possesses. I believe there are few men that live in the 
manner I do, and though the object of my attentions are not in 
themselves the most essential, they are still such as have their 
uses in life and may help to advance me in the army. 

The fortime of a military man seems to depend almost as 
much on his exteriors as upon things that are in reality more 
estimable and praiseworthy. You may be assured I have no 
more demands to make upon you, already too well convinced of 
your kindness and generosity to abuse either. 

The good Bishop ^ is at last released from the misery and 
pain that he so long laboured under, oppressed by a disease at 
his time of life incurable. His death is not to be lamented 
^ The famous Dr. Berkeley, Bishop of Clojme. 


otherwise than as concerns his family. If there's any place for 
good men hereafter, I believe he is at rest, and entirely free from 
all complaints. By what you have said about matrimony, 
I judge you are averse to it. However, there's a fit time, and 
'tis commonly later with us soldiers than with other men, for 
two reasons; the first is that in our younger days, we are 
generally moving from place to place, and have hardly leisure to 
fix; the other has prudence and necessity to support it. We 
are not able to feed our wives and children till we begin to 
decline. It must be a solitary kind of latter life to have no 
relations nor objects to take up our thoughts and affections, — to 
be, as it were, alone in the world, without any connection with 
mankind but the tie of common friendships, which are at best, 
as you have experienced, but loose and precarious. Our tastes 
for pleasures and debauchery have an end, or should have, when 
the excuse or pretext of youth and warm blood is no longer 
allowed us; and one terrible, frequent, and almost natural 
consequence of not marrying is an attachment to some woman 
or other that leads to a thousand inconveniences. Marshal Saxe 

died in the arms of a little w that plays upon the Italian 

stage, — an ignominious end for a conqueror. Though I think 
much better of this condition than most young people, and 
sometimes imagine (perhaps vainly and foolishly) that it would 
suit my disposition and turn of mind, yet I may safely say 
that it won't produce any immediate consequence. My little 
experience has made me cautious and my circumstances and 
situation in life direct me to step slowly and circumspectly, and 
to sum up all, it would be sufficient that you opposed it to 
make me desist as long as I have the possession of my reason. 

I hope the severity of the weather is confined to the 
continent. It has not been known to freeze so hard since the 
Great Frost. The poor people suffer excessively, not only from 
the want of fire, but, as the navigation of the river has been 
stopped, provisions of all kinds are dearer upon that account. 
I am a sufferer in particular, for as I commonly go out at break 
of day, till lately that it has been impossible, the cold seizes my 
nose and fingers, and distresses me considerably. I desire you 
to accept of my thanks and acknowledgements for the last mark 
of your favour, and I wish to convince you that my greatest 
ambition is to deserve your esteem. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 


To HIS Mother. 

Paris, \Zth February, 1763. 

Dear Madam, — I shall make but one step from this place 
to the foot of the mountains, and I shall hardly give you time 
to observe how many fine airs and accomplishments I have 
picked up at Paris. The north-east wind that blows in that 
country will disperse all my foppery, and ribbons and feathers, 
and snuff and essence in the air, and disorder my whole person, 
so that when I return you will hardly discover me to be a 
coxcomb ; at least, if it is so, I shall try to conceal it from you. 

I had a letter from my friend Gage ^ last post, in answer to 
one that I writ him by Lord Albemarle's directions. He says 
the little Maid of Honour is as amiable, and alas ! (as he 
expresses it, poor gentleman) as cold as ever. What can that 
lady mean by such obstinate self-denial ? or is she as much 
mistress of her own as of the hearts of all her acquaintances ? 
Is she the extraordinary woman that has no weakness ? or happily 
constructed without passions ? or lastly, and most likely, does 
she bid her reason choose ? She may push that matter too far, 
for common sense demonstrates that one should not be a maid 
— of honour too long. I writ a long letter to her imcle this 
post, and send him some books that he desired. I touched upon 
the tender string some time ago, as I told you ; his answer was, 
that he was sorry to find me so serious upon the old story ; and 
there the matter rests for ever. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

We may assume that something of the foregoing was prompted 
by a lover's pique. Yet Miss Lawson's conduct was strange, 
especially in view of the tradition that secretly she had given her 
heart to Wolfe, but that there were impediments in the way she 
could not and dared not disclose. 

If Wolfe had declined to accompany the Duke of Richmond in 
a tour of foreign camps, it was not because his desire to acquaint 
himself with the methods and discipline of foreign armies was not 
as keen as ever. When he saw a chance of achieving this wish, he 
jumped at it instantly, dreading at the same time that the stiff- 
necked Commander-in-Chief, Cumberland, would again stand in his 

^ The Hon. Thomas Gage_, afterwards Viscount Gage, Commander-in-Chief 
in North America at the beginning of the colonial revolt. 


To HIS Father. 

Paris, 22nd! FeJmrary, 1763. 

Dear Sir, — Lord Albemarle was saying a few days ago that 

the French King proposes to encamp a great part of his army 

early in the summer. His lordship judged that it would be 

agreeable to the Duke to have an officer of our troops sent to 

see what they were doing in their camps, and he did me the 

honour to say that he thought it would be right in me to 

propose myself, not asking it as a favour, but ready to obey the 

Duke's command. The proposal agreed too well with my 

disposition to be neglected, and I writ immediately to Lord 

Bury to offer myself for the service, and told Lord Albemarle 

that the least hint from him would have more weight than all 

that I should be able to say. Whether the project takes place 

or not, it may not be amiss to be mentioned upon such an 

occasion by the Ambassador of Paris. The French are to have 

three or four different camps ; the Austrians and Prussians will 

probably assemble some corps, so that I may, before the end of 

the summer, have seen half the armies in Europe at least, and 

that, I believe, at a very little expense. Lord Ablemarle must 

give me letters to the Commanders if the Duke accepts my offer, 

but, to tell the truth, I suspect his Royal Highness will not. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Our hero's fears were not groundless, as we shall presently see. 
Meanwhile he had been in Paris nearly five months and was already 
beginning to weary of his surroundings. He had attained, to a 
satisfactory degree, that which had brought him to the French 
capital; a facility in speaking the language and some skill in 
fencing and dancing, and felt that he had added a polish to his 
general deportment. He therefore looked forward all the more 
eagerly to further travel on the continent which would add to his 
professional experience. Towards the close of his stay his mother 
wrote him that his aunt, Mrs. Abthorpe, whose marriage we have 
before noted, had become a rabid convert to Wesleyism, her 
conduct being no doubt on a par with many of those who about this 
time fell under the spell of the great Revivalists. 

To HIS Mother. 

Paris, \st March, 1763. 

Dear Madam, — If the air of Blackheath has been as sharp as 

that of Paris, I don't wonder at your complaints, nor that you 


give it as a reason for not writing. We ^had a little interval of 
mild weather, and now the cold is returned more dangerously, 
though less severe. They have little spring in this country; 
from cold and very wet it suddenly changes to excessive heat. 
What a melancholy account you give of Mrs. Abthorpe, her 
imhappy fanaticism preying upon weak nerves. A conscience 
at rest and free from guilt, with a tolerable portion of health, 
and moderate circumstances, are the utmost bounds of our 
felicity. If we would be happy here below, these are the 
objects, and no further ; refinements in religion, or any pursuit 
of exquisite pleasures, throw us quite out of the road of peace. 

Whetham has gone to Flanders ; from thence he goes into 
Holland, back to Calais, and so home. What he will do with 
himself till he is thirty years of age, or till he marries, I am at 
a loss to guess. It is a misfortune not to have an employment 
or profession of some kind or other to fill up the intervals of our 
time. To live merely for the sake of eating, drinking, etc., 
without the prospect of any business, or of being useful, is, in 
my mind, a heavy condition. I was invited to a ball last night, 
where I saw some of the best company in Paris, and some of the 
handsomest women. At this season of the year the people of 
the first condition give balls by turns, and do it in a very 
genteel manner. Instead of tea and coffee they give ice, orgeat, 
lemonade, oranges, and sweetmeats, and in the morning 
(commonly by daylight) they have all sorts of cold meats. 
I never stay to see them eat, though, I believe, it would not be 
the least diverting part of the entertainment, for the ladies are 
well bred, delicate, and genteel. They are, nevertheless, a little 
inclined to gluttony, and are troubled with frequent indigestions. 
The women at these balls wear a sort of domino, or rather gown 
made of that kind of light silk, slightly trimmed, with sleeves of 
a very particular make, falling near a yard behind them from 
the elbows. Their hair is either combed behind, with little 
curls before, or their heads are all over curls, and an abundance 
of diamonds about their heads and necks. They dance genteelly, 
and I think their country dances preferable to ours ; first 
because there is a greater variety of figure and step, more easy 
dancing, and they are not so tedious. They dance four couples 
at a time and succeed each other, then partners change every 
dance. Some of the men are prettily-turned, and move easily 
and gracefully. They have in general good faces and fine hair, 
but they have generally bad limbs, and are ill-shaped. I speak 


of the nobility and those that are born or commonly live in 
Paris, for in the provinces remote from the capital, men are of 
a better figure. 

The Lent that succeeds the Carnival puts an end to all these 
pleasures, the delight and occupation of the younger people of 
Paris. Their thoughts are entirely employed upon the figure 
they are to make in public, their equipages and dress ; and their 
entertainments within consists of luxurious suppers and deep 
play. Some of them are elegant enough to be pleased with 
music, and they all sing well. A few there are — a very small 
number — that read and think. I begin to be tired of Paris. 
The English are not favourites here ; they can't help looking 
upon us as enemies, and I believe they are right. The best and 
ablest men amongst them respect the nation, admire the Govern- 
ment, and think we are the only men in Europe that act like 
men. This party must be very inconsiderable, and very secret. 
I forgot to tell you formerly that the laced handkerchief that 
I bought did not go with the hoods, but you'll have it. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

It would have been impossible for an observer like Wolfe not 
to have been struck by the entire artificiality of the French 
social fabric as it then existed in France. Compare his impres- 
sions of the dissatisfaction of the community, the admiration of 
the thinking minority for English institutions with those of later 
travellers much nearer the brink of the Revolution precipice. 

Wolfe was not left long in suspense about the permission to 
visit the continental armies. It appears in the first place that his 
parents looked coldly upon the project, for the same reasons that 
have previously been mentioned, and also because they may have 
thought that their son's holiday had lasted long enough, and was 
sufficiently expensive. But it was Lord Bury who conveyed the 
unwelcome refusal. He too probably thought his Lieutenant- 
Colonel had had sufficient holiday. 

To HIS Father. 

Paris, Qth March, 1763. 

Dear Sir, — Lord Bury surprised me a few days ago 
with H.R.H. the Duke's orders to return to England even 
before my leave of absence expires. I think I told you that I 
asked and begged to continue till the 20th of April : this is 
refused, and I am to hasten home. I dare not disobey openly, 


but I will venture as far as a slight reprimand. There's an 
inconceivable obstinacy in this way of proceeding, a minute 
exactness that is quite unnecessary and excessively disagreeable. 
Everybody knows how difficult it is to get out of England, and 
yet they won't allow us to make use of the opportunity that 
offers, and that perhaps can never occur again. Twenty days or 
a month to me at this time is inestimable, the season and situa- 
tion of my affairs considered. A Major and an Adjutant (if the 
Colonel is to be indulged himself) are not to be considered as 
equal to the great task of exercising, in our frivolous way, a 
battallion or two of soldiers ! — men whose duty and business it 
is, and who must know that. " His Royal Highness expects and 
orders me to tell you to be with the regiment by the time they 
assemble." These are the terms of his lordship's letter, and he 
goes on to inform us that he believes the companies will be 
collected towards the latter end of this month. Notwithstand- 
ing these hints, I shaVt be in England before the 7th or 8th of 
April, and the only one thing that gives me any satisfaction or 
reconciles it to me is, that I shall have the pleasure of paying 
my duty to you and to my mother ; and though the time that I 
shall be with you will be very short, those few days will make 
me some amends for the many disagreeable ones that are to 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

There came a further letter from Lord Bury, which makes his 
return imperative. 

To HIS Mother. 

Paris, l^th March, 1753. 

Dear Madam, — A second letter that I have received from 
Lord Bury (in answer to the offer that I made to go to the 
French and German armies), has cleared up everything and 
made it very plain, that I must hasten to the Regiment. He 
tells me that he himself don't go do^\Ti to Scotland this year, 
and he mentions a fit of an apoplexy that seized the Major some 
time ago and has impaired his health considerably. Could I have 
supposed so much indulgence and so much partiality, or had I 
known that the Major had been out of order, I should not have 
begged the small addition of twenty days to my leave of absence, 
nor proposed what I did. As I shall set out in the beginning of 


April and as that time draws near, I must desire you'll be so 
good to keep any letters that may be directed to me till I come. 
I hope John has found some opportunity of sending my dog to 
the Regiment and that he has executed all the other com- 
missions you have charged him with. If you have any commands 
for me on this side, I beg to know them immediately that they 
may be obeyed to your wish. I make my letter short because 
there is several to write. I hope to find you both in perfect 
health ; my duty to my Father. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 
J. W. 

On the eve of departure he received a letter from his mother 
expressing the General's apprehensions about the now abandoned 
tour. He was afraid his son might have been tempted by an offer 
in the service of the great Frederick. 

To HIS Mother. 

Paris, March 22nd, 1763. 

Dear Madam, — I beg you to remember how the undertaking 
I spoke of was proposed, and by whom, whether it was in my 
power to refuse it as it was offered, supposing that I had not 
liked the project. I mentioned to you that the ambassador was 
to have given me letters for the commanders to our ministers in 
Germany, and my business was to see only if there were anything 
new amongst them, and therefore there was no risk. You may 
believe I should never undertake anything of this kind if there 
was reason to apprehend what my father seems to think, nor 
would I throw away my time if it could be no manner of use. 
As to the article of expense I proposed to do it upon my pay, 
because I could not in reason require more than has been already 
done for me. 

I should have been oftener at Madame Haren's if her grand- 
daughter's illness had not shut her door. She is the most 
agreeable lady of fourscore that I have ever met. It is very 
polite of her to speak handsomely of me, because it is almost 
impossible to be less known to her than I am. But you know 
how little it costs the French to be civil. My letters from 
Scotland came to me. The extraordinary direction covered a 
petition from a very good woman, who desires me to write to a 
friend in her favour. The women of the regiment take it into 
their heads to write me sometimes, and their letters are really 


curious. I have a collection of them somewhere that would 
make you laugh.^ 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

1 One of these has been preserved : a curious proof of the quasi-paternal 
relation in which Lieut. -Colonel Wolfe stood toward his men. 

CoLLONEL, — Being a True Noble-heart' d Pittyful gentleman and Officer 
your Worship will excuse these few Lines concerning the husband of ye 
undersigned^ Sergt. White, who not from his own fault is not behaving as 
Hee should towards me and his family, although good and faithfull until the 
middle of November last. . . . Petition of Anne White. 



What change of environment in Europe then so striking as 
that from Paris to Glasgow ! Wolfe left the French capital 
before March had drawn to a close, and after a brief sojourn 
at Blackheath with his parents, set out by post-chaise again 
for Scotland. The situation there greeting him let himself 
relate — 

To HIS Father. 

Glasgow, 22nd April, 1753. 

Dear Sir, — It is almost impossible to suffer more than I 
have done upon the road, and quite impossible to find a regiment 
in more melancholy circumstances than we are. Officers ruined, 
impoverished, desperate, and without hopes of preferment ; the 
widow of our late Major and her daughter in tears ; his situation 
before his death and the effects it had upon the corps, with the 
tragical end of the unhappy man in everybody''s mouth ; an 
ensign struck speechless with the palsy, and another that falls 
down in the most violent convulsions. He was seized with one 
the first night I came to the regiment (after supper) that so 
astonished and affected all that were present, that it is not to 
be described. I should have fallen upon the floor and fainted, 
had not one of the officers supported me, and called for im- 
mediate relief ; and this, as well as I can remember, for the first 
time in my life. Some of our people spit blood, and others are 
begging to sell before they are quite undone ; and my friend 
Ben will probably be in jail in a fortnight. In this situation 
we are, with a martinet and parade major to teach us the manual 
exercise with the time of the First Regiment. 

To leave this unpleasant subject for one that concerns me 
much less. I must tell you that I was beat to pieces in the new 
close post-chaises ; machines that are purposely constructed to 
torture the unhappy carcases that are placed in them. I was at 
length forced to have recourse to post-horses ; as they had been 
accustomed to wear harness, and to be supported by stronger 
powers than my arms, I was every minute in danger, and fell 



twice, at the hazard of my neck. Add to this that the move- 
ments of these brutes were so rude, that I bled to the saddle. 
Ill short, it is not possible to travel more disagreeably, nor enter 
into a more unpleasing task than the present ; and this, as you 
may believe, not at all at my ease, without horses, or other 
means to dissipate or divert. 

I saw my uncle Brad, in Yorkshire ; he tells me he writ to 
my mother, but never received an answer from her. He was far 
from being well when I saw him. I forgot to ask for franks of 
the senators of my acquaintance, so that you must pay more for 
my letters, by far, than they are worth. We march out of this 
dark and dismal country early in August. By that time I 
imagine that ambition, and the desire to please, will be utterly 
extinguished and lost from amongst us. I did not hear, till I 
came here, that his Majesty sent his thanks in particular to 
Lord Bury's regiment for their behaviour in the Highlands ; 
and immediately, I mean a month or two, or three perhaps, 
afterwards, Major Wilkinson steps in. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. " 

He lets us see that he is as great a dog lover as ever — Juvenis 
gaiideat canihus — and probably one of the first Englishmen to go 
in for Highland sport, with rod and gun, before such diversion 
became a regular feature of the annual round. Although he is 
far from well and scarce more enamoured of Scotland, he certainly 
seems in better spirits. 

To HIS Mother. 

Glasgow, 13M May, 1763. 
Dear Madam, — We are all sick, officers and soldiers. I am 
amongst the best, and not quite well. In two days we lost the 
skin off our faces, and the third were shivering in great coats. 
Such are the bounties that Heaven has bestowed upon this 
people, and such the blessings of a northern latitude. My 
cousin Goldsmith has sent me the finest young pointer that 
ever was seen ; he eclipses Workie, and outdoes all. He sent 
me a fishing-rod and wheel at the same time, of his own work- 
manship that are inestimable. This, with a salmon rod from 
my uncle Wat, your flies, and my own guns, puts me in a 
condition to undertake the Highland sport in June, and to 
adventure myself amongst mountains, lakes, and wildest wastes. 

P 2 


It would take time to relate the variety of our amusements 
here ; but my share of the entertainments might be shortly told. 
We have plays ; we have concerts ; we have balls, public and 
private ; with dinners and suppers of the most execrable food 
upon earth, and wine that approaches to poison. The men 
drink till they are excessively drunk. The ladies are cold to 
everything but a bagpipe ; — I wrong them, there is not one that 
does not melt away at the sound of an estate ; there's the weak 
side of this soft sex. I have bought a horse for £1^ a horse 
that was never meant to move under the dignity of a commander 
of an old legion ; but there are times when our greatness lets 
itself down a little, — it was very near walking afoot, and can yet 
hardly be said to rise above the ground. 

I see by the papers that General Guise has got the govern- 
ment of Berwick. My father had better pretensions than that 
extraordinary person. I wish he would try; there might be 
some advantage even from being refused.^ I told Lord Bury 
that my observation pointed out to me that to do one's duty 
well, and not to talk of it, was the roundabout way to prefer- 
ment, and that I did not believe that a man could serve into 
favour ; to which one might have added, that 'tis better to tell 
a story than fight ; better bow than be honest ! This is as it 
always has been in courts, and ever will be. The men that are 
forward to ask are supposed to have titles, and military men, of 
all others, should be the oftenest in the path of promotion. I 
wish you both health and riches ; but one may almost as well be 
sick as poor. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

The horse humorously alluded to in the foregoing may have 
been the same as that remembered by a venerable Glasgow lady 
who survived the young Lieutenant-Colonel nearly seventy years. 
She recollected quite well having seen Wolfe on one occasion at 
Capelrig (Mr. Barclay's, ten miles from Glasgow), where she was 
staying when a girl. " He rode up the avenue to pay a visit, on 

* Although hardly fit for field service, old General Wolfe was a candidate 
for any lucrative military post that the Government might have at its 
disposal. General Guise was commonly regarded in the army as an intrepid 
madman^ addicted to uttering the most absurd nonsense. At a London 
dinner-party, he solemnly maintained that the Newcastle colliers fed their 
children with fire-shovels in lieu of spoons. — Walpole to Mann, October 6, 


a very spirited grey charger which plunged violently, and the 
inmates were afraid he would be thrown. He was an excellent 
horseman, however, and maintained himself well in the saddle ; 
then dismounting gracefully, he entered the mansion, and con- 
versed for some time mth great politeness. He remounted his 
charger and rode off to Glasgow. These circumstances and 
Wolfe's subsequent fame, fixed his appearance firmly in the lady's 
memory, and my informant often heard her relate these particulars," ^ 

To HIS Father. 

2Uh May, 1763. 

Dear Sir, — I begin to have an inconceivable aversion to 
writing, and to all business that I am not absolutely forced 
upon, and yet now and then a spark breaks out through the 
surrounding obstacles, but is almost smothered in the birth. I 
have hardly passion enough of any kind to find present pleasure 
or feed future hope, and scarce activity to preserve my health. 
The love of a quiet life, I believe, is an inheritance which is 
likely to strengthen with my years ; that, and the prospect your 
example gives me, — that a man may serve long and well to very 
little purpose, and make a sacrifice of all his days to a shadow, — 
seems to help my indifference, and to incline me to get off quietly 
and betimes to the edge of the forest. If a man tries on to forty 
and something more, I think he does very handsomely ; and 
then, not finding it to answer, he may make his bow and retire. 
Our sickly infirm General could not proceed to review the corps 
in the north. He came back to Edinburgh from Perth, and he 
has since been in extreme danger. People that see him think 
that he is always a-dying, and yet the good-natured old man 
struggles with all and still holds out ; but this mortal combat 
can't be for long. Your regiment, is, I hear, upon its march to 
Fort George. That duty has some inconvenience, particularly 
to the officers, but it is of great use to the men, and keeps them 

I dined a few days ago with the famous Duchess of Hamilton.^ 
They live about ten miles from Glasgow, and the Duke is civil 
to us. The lady has lost nothing of her bloom and beauty, is 
very well behaved, supports her dignity with tolerable ease to 
herself, and seems to be justly sensible of her good fortune. 

1 Buchanan's Glasgaw, Past and Present, vol. iii. p. 759. 

2 Elizabeth Gunning had married the Duke in the previous year, when 
she was but twenty. 


After our detachments are sent out, I propose to go for a 
month to the Highlands. Our people work upon the side of 
Loch Lomond, in Argyleshire, where the country is beautifully 
rough and wild. There's plenty of game, and the rivers are 
full of fish. I intend to establish myself at the upper end of 
the lake, and live upon milk and butter, as the inhabitants do. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Here we have some springtime reflections. 

To HIS Mother. 

Glasgow, June 1st, 1753. 

Dear Madam, — Your house and your garden and your park 
(I call it yours, as you have the possession of it) must be vastly 
pleasant at this time of the year. Nature puts on her best 
appearance at this season, and every production of the earth is 
now in the highest beauty. The beasts have their new coats, 
and the birds their fine feathers ; and even our species, for 
whose pleasure all these seem to have been intended, are properly 
disposed for the enjoyment of them. Without doubt you walk 
a good deal in the fresh air, and taste the blessings that a 
bounteous Maker has bestowed. Happy those that have justice 
and piety enough to acknowledge and to thank the liberal hand 
that gives them ! I have had frequent occasions to mention to 
you the many changes of weather we are subject to in this 
country, because I have frequently suffered from them. At 
present I don't complain ; I amassed such a store of health in 
France that I hope it will last during our stay here, though I 
am persuaded the consumption will be very considerable. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

On the Western side of Loch Lomond, in a picturesque 
situation, with the slopes of Ben Lomond rising in the distance 
beyond the lake, is Inverdouglas, or, as now written, Inveruglas. 
Here in the month of June Wolfe and five companies halted. 

To HIS Mother. 

Camp of Inverdouglas, June 26th, 1753. 

Dear Madam, — We are encamped with five companies of the 
regiment that are working on the roads. It will be late in August 
before we return to Glasgow, and consequently we can't begin our 


march until September. Though we are not much above twenty 
miles from the Low Countries, yet I think this part of the High- 
lands is as wild as any that I have seen. We are upon the side 
of a great lake, bordered round with exceeding high mountains 
whose tops are, for the most part, barren — either bog or rock ; 
but at the first of these hills there is a good deal of wood, some 
grass, and very little corn. A man in health might find a good 
deal of entertainment in fair weather, provided he has strength 
to climb up the mountains, and has keenness to pursue the game 
they produce. 

I am, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Wade, whatever we may think of his generalship, was the 
pioneer road-builder in Scotland, and deserves due credit for the 
work he did between 1715 and 1730. He succeeded in convincing 
his superiors of the importance of the principle which helped, 
as much as their legions, to make the Romans masters of the world. 
Soon after the second rebellion had been crushed the authorities 
resolved to go on with the work on a large scale. Lieutenant- 
General Watson was placed in charge and a beginning made at 
Fort Augustus in 1747. Associated with this officer was General 
Roy, who was ordered to make a preliminary ordnance survey. 
Parties of soldiers were drafted from the several corps to assist in 
the work, which lasted in different parts of the Highlands for 
many years, each season's camp terminating in rude military 
festivities, eating, drinking and sports. Before these military 
road-makers moved on they were wont to erect a wayside tablet, 
commemorating the date and the name of the regiment. One or 
two of these tablets, put up by Wolfe's men, have since been 
recovered. One was found many years ago serving as a hearth- 
stone in a farm-house at Ardvoirlich. Others no doubt exist in a 
similar state or have been used as building materials. One 
wonders if any of Wolfe's bore inscriptions such as that " Rest and 
be thankful," and " A good work finished." 

This was, on the whole, a happy summer for Wolfe. 

To HIS Mother. 

Glasgow^ 29^A Jurw, 1753. 

Dear Madam, — I think I am not positively blind to my own 
infirmities, but that I oftener perceive my defects than I have 
power to correct or even disguise them ; and there are times and 
particular situations in which people are apter to lose that power 


than at others. I believe we are so compounded of good and 
bad that accidents easily incline the balance on either side, and 
I am sure that none of us, even the most virtuous, are entirely 
free from faults, though some have the art to hide them. The 
warmth of temper, which you so justly censure when it breaks 
out improperly, is what I depend upon to support me against 
the little attacks of my brethren and contemporaries, and that 
will find the way to a glorious, or at least a firm and manly end 
when I am of no further use to my friends and country, or when 
I can be serviceable by offering my life for either. 

Nobody has perhaps more reason to be satisfied with his 
station and success in the world than myself, nobody can have 
better parents, and I have hitherto never wanted friends ; but 
happiness or ease, which is all we can pretend to, lies in the 
mind of nowhere. A man must think himself so or imagine it, 
or it cannot be ; it is not circumstances, advancement, fortune, 
or good relations or faithful friends that create it, 'tis the 
temper, or truly the force of overcoming one or more of the 
leading passions that otherwise must disturb us. These passions 
seem to be in our first composition or in nature, and the remedy, 
as you observe, in reason. But this often fails, at least in our 
younger days. Those tempers are very ticklish that may under- 
go a considerable change by any alteration of air, diet, or 
exercise, and this I often experience. It is most true that no 
one has a better claim to my care and esteem than yourself, and 
no person is more truly the object of it ; but as you have been 
indulgent and kind hitherto in everything that you believed for 
my advantage, so now your indulgence must extend to overlook, 
or forgive at least, those defects that are visibly in the blood, 
and hard at this time of life to overcome. And if you think I 
have any good qualities they may be set in opposition to the 
bad ones and that is what our feeble condition here seems in 
justice to require. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Then comes a letter to the General in which he discloses his 

To HIS Father. 

Glasgow^ ^th July, 1763. 

Dear Sir, — I do not know which is the greatest distress of 
the two, to want money or to be forced to borrow it ; this I am 


sure that it is awkward and disagreeable to ask a favour of this 
kind even of you, and much more so of anybody else. 

I have been obliged to give up my allowance for a time to 
clear my French accounts and conscience. When I came from 
London I received a muster's pay from 24th April, a great part 
of which was spent upon my journey here. Since my coming I 
have lived at a less expense than is almost consistent with my 
rank, to avoid the mischief above mentioned, and yet I am not 
in condition to buy horses for the march without your assistance. 
I must therefore beg the favour of you to allow me to draw upon 
your account for ^40, which I believe and hope I shall be able 
to repay you in January, or perhaps sooner. I hate the thought 
of being in arrear with a paymaster, as it subjects one in some 
measure to him, and hurts the affairs of a regiment, and yet 
this must have been my resource upon such an occasion, if I 
had not a better to apply to. I am ashamed to address myself 
to you upon the article of money, as you have so recently given 
me, in the most generous manner more than I could expect or 
had any title to ask, but, as I mean honestly to return this sum 
and clear myself entirely by the next spring, I do it with more 
confidence, and I have to plead that I always pay my debts when 
I am able. 

I go to-morrow into the Highlands for three weeks or a 
month, for fresh air and exercise. The odours of this place give 
me continual headaches. My retreat is about thirty miles from 
hence, near where the five companies of our regiment are at 
work. I wish you both much health. I beg my duty to my 
mother, and am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate Son, 

J. Wolfe. 

After his brief holiday he thus wrote from the new camp — 

To HIS Father. 

North-west Side of Loch Lomond, *!th August, 1753. 

Dear Sir, — Though there have been great pains taken to 
put the regiment into order, yet for two reasons we shall make 
but a very indifferent appearance when His Royal Highness 
reviews us. The first is, that our clothes are vastly damaged by 
the work here and by long wear ; and the other, that Lord 
Bury would have changed our exercise from very quick to very 
slow, so that at present, in attempting to conform to his Lord- 


ship's directions, we are between the two, and can neither do 
one nor the other as they ought to be done. All the soldiers 
know that it is not very material, but some of those that will be 
present at our review may have other notions. These are 
matters that give me as little concern as anybody. If a man 
does his duty to the best of his judgment and ability, the 
thoughts and reflections that arise from so doing are, in my 
opinion, sufficient satisfaction. I have been confined ever since 
my coming to this place to within the last few days, and now 
that I am able to go about the bad weather keeps me close. It 
is strange that neither temperance or exercise can preserve me 
in any tolerable health in this unfriendly climate. The moisture 
of this air overmatches all the precautions that I can take to 
resist its bad effects, and yet we have had a finer season in 
Scotland than has been known for many years. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

It seems strange to think that the metropolis at this time was 
without a police force, and wholly at the mercy of such rogues and 
robbers as chose to ply their vocation. This was more than ever 
true of the suburbs, and in this letter we find Wolfe anticipating 
that horse police and foot patrol which followed upon the Bow 
Street force established by Sir John Fielding. 

To HIS Mother. 

Glasgow, 2Qth August, 1753. 

Dear Madam, — I deferred answering your letter till my 
return from the Highlands — that is till I got out of a dirty 
smoky hut, and free from the noise of a camp. My stay upon 
the side of Loch Lomond would have been extremely agreeable 
and pleasant but for two or three interfering accidents. This 
mixture of good and evil waits upon us from our introduction 
into life to the latest hour ; the easiest are those who have no 
violent pursuits, for they are seldom disappointed. The loss of 
my poor facetious friend Loftus grieves me ; he was preparing 
to make me a visit just before he went offl^ Since I came here 
I learned the death of our good General.^ Lord Cathcart has 
made a judicious choice, and Miss Hamilton has a fair prospect 
of happiness with a man of his worth and honour. There are 

1 Major Arthur Loftus died of fever July 31st at Fort Augustus. 

2 Lieutenant-General George Churchill. 



very few young ladies that I have met with who, in my opinion, 
deserve better than she does. If I had not seen Miss Lawson, 
I should probably have been in love with Miss Hamilton. I 
can't say the lady would have had a great conquest to boast of, 
but speak of it as a proof of my good taste. 

'Tis an unpleasant thing to be surrounded, as you are, by such 
numbers of villains ; whatever they do without doors, it is to be 
hoped they respect the inside of houses. There must be some 
strange neglect in the magistrates and officers of justice in the 
county, or these robbers would not range through it in this 
manner with impunity. I am surprised that in the counties 
near London they don't establish a company of light horse to 
guard the public roads or pursue these vermin. They need not 
be military, but people hired for that purpose, with good pay, 
and entirely under the sherifTs directions. There are abundance 
of officers that would be glad of such employment, and proper 
men, if they pay them well, might easily be found. They have 
what they call marechausse in France to protect travellers, and 
people travel there in great security. 

Elections are the great business all over the island, and the 
competitors are struggling, not, I am afraid, for the public good, 
but for their private interest and advantage. The Parliament 
House is now the seat of profit, and people generally seek a place 
there as they would an income. We have everything to fear 
from these general self-interested views, but one must hope that 
these very men who are so sanguine for themselves will pay some 
regard to their posterity, and leave things at least in as good a 
condition as they find them. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

His Scottish sojourn was now drawing to a close. 

To HIS Father. 

Glasgow, September 8th, 1753. 
Dear Sir, — The first division of our regiment marched out 
of town this morning, and I stay behind it one day to finish my 
business and to i^Tite letters. I have got myself tolerably well 
mounted upon a horse of poor Loftus's. Donnellan ^ had bought 
him at the auction, but resigned him to me, knowing my necessity. 
I am glad to find that the promotion is gone in your regiment, 

^ Captain Nehemiah Donnellan succeeded Loftus as Major in Wolfe's 


and that Mr. Secretary-of-War has consented to be civil to you 
on this occasion. Your demands upon them are so just and 
moderate, that you may very well expect good manners ; at least, 
a person that does not ask favour has a right to fair speech. 

I am sorry that Lord Cathcart's affairs require so much 
attention that he must necessarily quit ; he is an officer of such 
reputation that the army loses considerably by his resignation. 
I hope, however, that he will preserve his rank amongst us, and 
that I shall, some day or other, have the honour to serve under 
him. We are so long absent, and removed to so great a distance, 
that I am almost surprised to hear that anybody is at the least 
trouble to inquire about me, especially a Paris acquaintance. I 
am particularly obliged to Stanhope, because his acquaintance 
is so extensive that I might expect to be lost in the crowd. He 
is a lively, civil little man, and has a great store of learning and 
knowledge. I beg my compliments to him. From time to time 
you shall hear of our progress. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 
' J. Wolfe. 

Wolfe''s term in the Highlands was finally over. He could 
look back upon five years of yeoman service amidst difficult 
surroundings, where the greatest tact was required. 

So with drums beating and colours flying the Twentieth took 
up its southward march under the September sun. He had six 
years of life left — six short years in which to carve an imperishable 
fame. It was the second phase of the young soldier's career. On 
September 20 he turned his head as he rode along southward with 
his tanned and dusty troopers and beheld the village of Gretna 
Green in his rear. Over the Scottish border he never returned. 

To HIS Mother. 

Carlisle, VHth September, 1753. 
Dear Madam, — The last division of our regiment passes the 
Esk to-morrow, and salutes the land of England once more. 
We begin our march from Carlisle on the 20th, and shall be at 
Reading the 16th of October, which is a day sooner than my 
former calculation. The weather has been fair and favourable 
as possible hitherto, and so warm, that we have more the look 
of troops that came from Spain or Africa than from the north. 
We are really a good deal browner and more tanned than the 
battalion from Minorca that relieve us. We are come thus far 


in our military rotation, and a good way in the revolution of 
our lives. The regiment has undergone as great change as was 
perhaps ever known in time of peace and in so short a while. 
There are some fifteen new officers to the corps, besides myself, 
since the beginning of the year 1749, and there are several 
alterations to make that may soon take place. 

A mile on this side of the river that divides England from 
Scotland one begins to perceive the difference that labour and 
industry can make upon the face of a country. The soil is 
much the same for some space either north or south, but the 
fences, enclosures, and agriculture are not at all alike. The 
English are clean and laborious, and the Scotch excessively lazy 
and dirty, though far short, indeed, of what we found at a 
greater distance from the borders. Colonel Stanwix is Governor 
of this place, and I believe you are acquainted ; at least, he 
inquired much after my father's health and yours. He has been 
extremely civil to our people. The castle of Carlisle is a fortress 
that ought by no means to have been given up to the rebels in 
the manner it was. The present Governor would not, nor, I 
dare say, ever will surrender it into such hands. Our second is 
just now marching in, and that obliges me to stop here. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

It was a slow march, as the Lieutenant-Colonel reports — 

To HIS Father. 

Warrington, 30^A September, 1763. 

Dear Sir, — The greatest good-fortune that can happen to 
people that travel slow is to have fair weather, and we have been 
particularly lucky hitherto. There has been but one rainy day 
since we set out. As the season advances we must expect a 
change ; and indeed it has begun this day, with appearances 
that are much against us. Men harden in the air with marching, 
as they harden in iniquity with practice. We are to halt at 
Warwick where Lord Bury meets and reviews the regiment. 
The men are healthy, and so active, that they have worn their 
clothes threadbare. We are no politicians, or we should have 
done as our predecessors the Fusiliers did, that is, clothe four 
months later than usual, to appear clean. I do believe we shall 
be the most dirty, ragged regiment that the Duke has seen for 
some years. 

In Cumberland, Westmoreland, and the north of Lancashire 


part of the country is almost as rough and barren as the High- 
lands of Scotland; but there is a variety of well cultivated, 
beautiful spots intermixed. Every day as we move more south 
the country appears richer and more delightful ; and the women 
hereabouts, and in this place in particular, are surprisingly 
handsome. They astonish us that have been accustomed to 
look at the hard-favoured Scotch lasses. They have very pretty 
faces (I mean the Lancashire women), but they are not, in the 
towns, of such stature as I expected. The peasants are straight, 
well made, tall, good-looking men. There's great quantity of 
cattle bred in Lancashire, and some horses. The gentlemen 
seem fond of hunting (by the quantity of hounds I judge), 
though the country is not best for that sort of sport, as the 
enclosures and fences are vastly strong, and the corn-ground 
very deep. Our march is something more than half over, and I 
heartily wish it was at an end, because these slow movements are 
not agreeable to my disposition of mind. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 
To HIS Mother. 

Warwick, IQth Oct, '53. 
Dear Madam, — I had the pleasure of receiving a letter 
from my father upon my arrival here with such accounts of your 
healths as I might expect, but not exactly such as I could wish. 
The approaching winter does not give the barest prospect of 
amendment, but we shall hope for the best. If Lord Bury had 
not thought proper to make the Regiment halt at Warwick the 
first Division would have been to-morrow or the next day at 
Reading, as it is we shan't all be there till this day sevenight 
and consequently shall dip further into foul weather, and be 
later in our quarters. His Lordship is a little obscure as to his 
intentions concerning me. I don't yet know whether I winter in 
the Castle of Dover or not, but shall probably be some time 
there. Warwick is one of the prettiest little towns in England, 
and Lord Brook's castle for the situation and antiquity of it is 
as great a rarity as any in the Kingdom. The country about here 
is extremely beautiful. We hunted yesterday upon a delightful 
plain and had exceeding fine sport. If there are any letters be 
so good to put 'em under a trunk and direct 'em to Reading. 
I wish you both all manner of good. My duty to my Father. 

I am, dear Madam, etc. 

J. Wolfe. 


Leaving "Lord Brook's Castle" behind them the Twentieth 
continued on to Reading. 

To HIS Father. 

Reading, 22nd October, 1753. 

Dear Sir, — I have received a very kind letter from my 
mother, inviting me to her house, and to a warm room that she 
promises to provide for me ; but I am not able to say when I 
can have the pleasure of paying my duty to you both. If our 
route leads through Deptford and Greenwich, I shall wait upon 
you ; if not my visit will be deferred till my return from Dover. 
The Major seems disposed to leave the regiment, in which case 
I shall be confined to it, because I can't, in conscience, assert 
that I have any weighty business to call me away. And yet, 
the prospect of passing a winter in the castle of Dover ought to 
quicken a man's invention to get free for means. The Duke 
reviews the regiment on Saturday, in their old clothes ; 
so that if his Royal Highness piques himself upon finery of 
that kind, we shall inevitably be disgraced. It is true that we 
have numbers, for there's but five men wanting to complete; 
but I can't say much for their beauty or fine performance ; for 
many of them have been separated from the regiment, and 
others ought to be severed from it for ever. If we had any 
religion or piety or were at all sensible of favour from above, 
we should be thankful for the finest season that ever was. And 
though we are not, I am sure, the objects of peculiar care of 
Heaven, yet, as we have profited by the good things bestowed 
upon mankind in general, we should join with them in acknow- 
ledgements. If I stay much longer with the regiment, I shall 
be perfectly cmTupt, the officers are loose and profligate, and the 
soldiers are very devils. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

At Reading there was a halt of a fortnight, waiting for the 
Duke to review the regiment. At last the Lieutenant- Colonel, 
who was nervous about the ceremony, writes his mother. 

To HIS Mother. 

Reading, Friday, Ath Nov., 1753. 
Dear Madam, — The Duke's illness has put off* our Review 
and of course detained us here. I wish his Royal Highness's 


martial spirit would submit itself to his state of health, in which 
case he would not persevere in his resolution of seeing us. It is 
not a farthing matter, whether we are, or are not reviewed, but 
it is of consequence whether the Duke is well or ill. His inten- 
tion is to see the Regiment to-morrow, and I am sorry for it 
upon many accounts. We are four or five hours at exercise 
every day ; the men of these times have not iron enough in their 
constitutions for this work ; our ancestors would have perhaps 
done twice as much in colder weather, without coughing ; but 
our debaucheries enervate and unman us. 

You are ever very obliging and kind in whatever I ask of you, 
your visit to Mrs. Brett is a strong proof of it, and they are not 
more indebted to you for the civility than I am.. I have had a 
letter from Charles expressing the satisfaction that your recon- 
ciliation to his family gave him. 

The first division of our regiment marches on Monday, so 
towards the latter end of the week I may hope to have the 
pleasure of seeing you. I can't stay more than two days, because 
Lord Bury stops at Windsor, and the Major goes to London — 
Six Companies of the regiment are to quarter in the Castle of 
Dover, where I shall pass the winter, the rest are to be at Maidstone. 

I beg my duty to my Father, and am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam. Wolfe. 
To Mrs. Wolfe. 

Wolfe's professional ideals were very high ; else we might 
marvel a little sometimes at the disesteem in which he appears to 
hold his own men. From other sources we learn that " Lord 
Bury's Regiment is the best in the Army, so far as drill and 
discipline go."^ 

With many great commanders we find a tendency to de- 
preciate the rank and file under them, notably in the case of the 
Duke of Wellington, who spoke of them as " dirty rascals "'' 
and " the scum of the earth," yet at the same time prepared to 
defend them warmly as "the finest fighting material on earth." 
A man may even speak of his own children as "brats" and 
" rogues," but we must not accept him too literally. Nor must we 
reprehend our hero for not considering every man in his regiment 
equal to himself in spirit, intelligence and conduct. 

* Lansdowne MS. 


Failing the expected review, across the south of England 
marched Wolfe and his men. We have a picture of Wolfe as he 
departed through the streets of Reading. " A tall thin officer 
astride a bay horse, his face lit up by a smile and conversing 
pleasantly with the officers who rode by his side." ^ On through 
Guildford and Oxted they held their way to Maidstone, where a 
portion of the regiment was left ; but the greater number kept on 
to Dover where they took up their station in the Ceistle, on that 
giddy height which Shakespeare has celebrated and the lovers and 
enemies of Albion have from time immemorial contemplated with 

But a portion of the march was made without the Lieutenant- 
Colonel, " such slow movements not being agreeable to his disposi- 
tion of mind." He turned at an early stage off for Blackheath and 
was able to spend a couple of days there at the family mansion 
from whence, owing to the fine weather, his parents had not yet 
flitted, before rejoining his men. 

To HIS Mother. 

Dover Castle, 19^ A November, 1751}. 

Dear Madam, — As soon as ever I could get my green cloth 
spread upon the barrack table, and pen, ink, and paper out of 
my baggage, I sit down to write to you to inform you that the 
remainder of our march was as fortunate in point of weather as the 
former part had been ; and here our labour ends, I can't say com- 
fortably or warmly, but in a soldier-like starving condition. The 
winds rattle pretty loud, and the air is sharp, but I suppose 
healthy for it causes great keenness of appetite. I lodge at 
the foot of a tower supposed to be built by the Romans, and 
cannot help wishing sometimes that they had chosen a snugger 
situation to erect their fortress upon ; or that the modems, who 
demolished a good part of the works of antiquity, had been so 
kind to us, their military posterity, as not to leave one stone 
upon another. 

The strength of our fortification is removed by discord and 
by time ; but caissons are raised upon the ruins as prisons, and 
a proper mode of punishment for those wild imaginations that 
prefer the empty sound of drum and trumpet to sober knock of 
hammer in shop mechanic. Here's a ready deliverance down the 
perpendicular to such as are tired of their existence. They need 
not run very far to get out of this world ; one bold step frees 

^ Old Berkshire Memories^ 1827. 


them from thought. I'm afraid I shall lose my interest at Court 
by this distant recluse life, and shall never be notticed (as the 
Scotch say) but to be reprimanded for some dispute with a 
cobbler who has a vote in such a dirty borough as Dover. 
Sincerely, I beg you'll make my best compliments to the General 
and desire him to convince the King and Duke that he is not 
displeased with them, for otherwise I shall be involved within 
the resentment that must follow this seeming contempt of majesty 
and dignity. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Dover Castle was not then the charming place it is now esteemed 
by tourists. It was shamefully dilapidated, and as to the chapel of 
St. Mary's, until its restoration nearly a century later at the hands 
of Sir Gilbert Scott, " roofless, shattered and exposed to the 
damaging effects of rain, frost and mischief, it was used as a coal 
cellar ; while the Roman pharos at the west end, one of the most 
interesting landmarks of history in the kingdom, was applied to a 
purpose that was even more degrading and disreputable." ^ 

To anticipate a passage in one of Wolfe's letters, " I am sure 
there is not in the King's dominions a more melancholy dreadful 
winter station." 

To HIS Father. 

Dover, December 6th, 1763. 
Dear Sir, — The best and most agreeable service that you can 
do me (since you are so good to offer your service) is to amuse 
and divert yourself with such change and variety as the neigh- 
bourhood of London, or inconsiderable distance from Bath, or 
other places of public resort, put within your reach. I know by 
myself how necessary it is to refresh the mind with new objects 
to prevent its sinking, and how very useful a fresh collection of 
thoughts are in supporting the spirits. Let me alone six or 
seven days in my room, and I lose all sort of sensation, either of 
pain or pleasure, and am in species little better than an oyster. 

Indeed, soldiering, as Wolfe was forced to pursue the art, was a 
trying business. All his fire and force and talents were being 
crushed out. 

1 The Builder, September 7, 1862, 


To HIS Mother. 

Dover, IQth December, 1753. 

Dear Madam, — I find our afternoons hang so heavily that 
expedients are wanted to divert the time. Our conversation 
from dinner till five o'*clock is kept up with some difficulty, as 
none of us have any correspondence with the capital, nor com- 
munication with coffee-houses or public papers, so that we are 
entirely in the dark as to exterior things. From five till eight 
is a tedious interval hardly to be worked through. I have 
inquired for good green tea in Dover, as an aid, and can find 
none ; it will be some relief and an act of charity if you will 
send me a pound of the best. I put off* my demand imtil I knew 
your rents were due, although I should rather wish you could 
persuade the General to pay for it, as I take his purse to be in 
better order than either yours or mine.^ 

The castle is haunted with the spirits of some of our restless 
forefathers, the old Saxons, and some of their wives, for here are 
ghosts of both sexes. Whether these shadowy beings are rest- 
less, or our consciences weak and our imaginations strong, you 
may easily conjecture. But here are people that believe there are 
spirits to be seen, and others that are ready to swear to the sight ; 
or, in other words, there are minds unable to bear the darkness of 
the night without trembling. We know that Christmas is at 
hand, by the sutler's mince-pies. I hope you have all the gaiety 
and good-fellowship that these times generally produce, to 
enliven the otherwise cold and dreary season. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

After the Christmas " festivities '' Wolfe wrote another letter 

To HIS Mother. 

Dover Castle, 28 Dec., 1753. 

Dear Madam, — Although I knew you were convinced that 
I had written to you from Reading, I was not sorry to hear you 
had received my letter. I was indebted to you for a favour, 
and meant to send you thanks. Maidstone would have been, as 
you say, a more comfortable quarter than this ; for it is not 
possible to be in one that is less so, but this place has its ad- 
vantages that are of some estimation ; we have no magistrates or 

1 The price of green tea was then about 30*. a pound. 


inhabitants to quarrel with : the soldiers are under our immediate 
inspection ; and we can prevent them in any evil designs. It 
would be a prison to man of pleasure ; but an officer may put 
up with it. People that choose to read have a great deal of time ; 
the rest play at picquet. In wet weather we are confined to the 
castle, but when it is fine we get out upon the Downs between 
this and Deal, which is a very pleasant ride. I have been once 
shooting in hopes of killing some cocks to present you with ; but 
there are few or no springs in the woods of this country, so that 
those birds do not stay long after they land. Capt. Howe who 
went to London yesterday offered to carry one and leave it at 
Blackheath. But I declined his civil offer, as I thought it not 
worth your acceptance. I should be sorry to lose Lieut. Bury at 
this particular juncture : not at all upon my own account, but 
because I know he can serve the officers, is inclined to do so, and 
has just now a very favourable opportunity as there are no less 
than six, that desire or should be desired to leave the regiment. 

I hear that Mr. Conolly ^ has relapsed and is in more danger 
than ever, probably gone by this time. Carlton and his brother 
will feel that loss very sensibly ; he is not only their patron and 
protector, but has a fatherly affection and kindness for them. 

I am interrupted, and so must send you my best wishes for 
both your happiness, and finish with assuring you that I always 
am, dear Madam, your most obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam : Wolfe. 

1 The Right Hon. William Conolly, M.P., of Stratton Hall, Staffs., was 
nephew and heir of his namesake, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. 
He died at Castletown, Celbridge, January 3, 1754. His only son, Thomas, 
married a daughter of the second Duke of Richmond (Lady Louisa Conolly), 
aunt of the ill-starred Lord Edward Fitzgerald and also of Generals Sir 
Charles and William Napier. 



Although his letters are filled with a humorous sort ot com- 
plaints, Dover really agreed with Wolfe or else his constitution was 
greatly improved since his return from Scotland. His only real 
grievance seems to be the perennial one of not " being any use in 
the world,'' in other words, not seeing active service. But a soldier's 
life is not entirely made up of battles, and Wolfe was apt to 
appraise at much less than its real value the efforts he made to 
improve his regiment, and the influence his example furnished to 
all other officers. Having more leisure and more congenial sur- 
roundings, he took again to his books in downright earnest. He 
was not able to inoculate all his officers with his own zeal in this 
respect — that it would, perhaps, be unreasonable to look for — but 
they did spare a little time from piquet for the purpose, wondering 
at their commander's strange infatuation. Sometimes Wolfe took 
a gallop over the Downs, or enjoyed an afternoon's shooting in 
neighbouring coverts. But his whole heart was in his work — and 
the subalterns had daily testimony of the almost paternal relation 
in which this Lieutenant-Colonel of seven-and-twenty stood 
towards them. 

It seems that the officers of the new garrison at the Castle were 
not considered as sociable as their predecessors, and Miss Brett, 
who was staying with her father. Sir Piercy Brett, at Dover, had a 
doleful tale to tell of the ungallant manner in which the Dover 
ladies felt they were being treated by the " bookish Colonel " and 
his friends. To his mother's rally ings Wolfe replied on New 
Year's Eve — 

To HIS Mother. 

Dover Castle, Dec. 31, 1753. 

Dear Madam, — It will be neither expensive nor troublesome 
to send what you desire, but, on the contrary, cheap and pleasant. 
My judgement in these matters is very fallible ; but I'll employ 
an abler hand to chase that samphire. If you like what I send, 
let me know, and you shall have more. 

If Nanny Brett's ladies lived as loftily and as much in the 



clouds as we do, their appetites for dancing or anything else would 
not be quite so keen. If we dress the wind disorders our curls ; if 
we walk we are in danger of our legs ; if we ride, of our necks ; and 
how can the tender hearted sex expect we should go down unto 'em 
at such risk and disadvantage ? But there's a truth which my 
flame must not know, some of our finest performers are at present 
disabled, and the rest disheartened from attempting it by the 
terrible example of the suiFerers. There are but two of us that can 
be reckoned to be whole and entire ; both very tall and thin, and 
we cannot undertake to please all these ladies alone, the task is 
more difficult than Mistress Anne seems to be aware of. If it was 
not for fear of offending you, I should almost confess that I think 
we are grown old, whether constitutionally so, or philosophically 
resigned, or sequestered from the world, by being almost always 
deprived and cut off from the common enjoyments of it. Habit 
by degrees, creating tastes agreeable to our condition and 
different from those that are most in vogue ; part or all of these 
joined perhaps together, and years really creeping on ; with 
notions conformable, cooling the blood and spring of action, till 
dancing and all its light train of amusement appears vain and 
contemptible. Notwithstanding this I always encourage our 
young people to frequent balls and assemblies. It softens their 
manners, and makes 'em civil, and commonly I go along with 
'em to see how they conduct themselves. I am only afraid 
they should fall in love and marry. Whenever I perceive the 
symptoms, or anyone else makes the discovery, we fall upon the 
delinquent without mercy, till he grows out of conceit with his 
new passion. By this method we have broke through many an 
amorous alliance and dissolved many ties of eternal love and 
affection. My experience in these matters, helps me to find 
out my neighbour's weakness and furnishes me with arms to 
oppose his folly. I am not however always so successful as 
could be wished ; two or three of the most simple and insensible 
in other respects have triumphed over my endeavours, but are 
seated upon the stool of repentance for the remainder of their 

Our garrison (to confirm Nanny's intelligence) is not composed 
of the liveliest body of the Regiment ; the three remarkable men 
Bourchier, Billings, (with the Belly) and Clements, commonly 
called Ben, whom I formerly described to you, are apart, and 
they don't do us any honour with the ladies ; we have three or 
four under the surgeon's hands for misfortunes, and the rest 


walk down the hill about once a month ; but if Miss Gunman 
w£is here, we that are able, might go oftener. 

I believe my cousin Goldsmith is already persuaded that we are 
a set of the worst correspondents in England. I have been six 
months in his debt, without rhyme or reason ; I owe him a thousand 
thanks for a pointer, that is my happiness and my very existence 
here, and I'll acquit myself towards him this very night, and 
mention your commands. He is the most reasonable man alive, 
his requests seldom go beyond the desire that he has to know that 
we are well, he never asks any other favour than to be satisfied 
in this particular. I am a pair or two of spectacles behind hand 
with him, and I long to send him that little promised token of 
my esteem. I find Mr. ConoUy is in a lingering way, his liver 
is affected, and 'tis impossible he can recover, this is a deadly 
blow to my poor friend and will touch him deeply : but I hope 
the Duke of Richmond's protection, which I am sure he will 
deserve, may make him some amends. 

Your present is arrived and is extremely valuable, both on 
account of the person presenting it, and its goodness, and you 
have my best thanks. We are not lucky in lotteries, but we 
have other pieces of good fortune that makes us ample amends. 
A clear and fair conscience and a reputation instained by vice or 
dishonour is fallen to both your lots, and that you may put in 
the balance against any other chance, and it will far outweigh 
them. I beg my compliments to Mrs. Egerton. Tomorrow the 
new year begins, I salute you upon it and wish you both all 
pleasure and peace and am, dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son, 

Jam : Wolfe. 

To HIS Fathee. 

Dover Castle^ Qth January, 1754. 

Dear Sir, — I am very glad to find you in a resolution con- 
formable to the rest of your character. If you have ever omitted 
the performance of that duty which is due from an officer of 
your rank, and from a man of your attachment and way of 
thinking to the King, it has proceeded from reasons rather 
commendable and praiseworthy than blameable. You knew he 
was environed with a himgry, greedy set. As you had no favour 
to ask or expect beyond a good reputation, you would not seem 
(however free from the thought) to augment the number of 
petitioners that surround the throne. But his Majesty will now 


be convinced that no motive of interest direct you to him ; he may 
easily distinguish you from the rest, because I am fully persuaded 
that you are the only one, however fair soever your title and 
pretensions may be, that has not asked something. Such persons 
are so rare in courts that kings may look upon them as miracles ; 
and our good old monarch would find out and reward the 
modesty of some of his subjects if the impudence of others did 
not prevent it. I am highly pleased that your going to St. 
James's was graciously received, and that you yourself were 

I have sent you some birds of my own killing ; few indeed 
they are in number and small in kind, but quails are a rarity at 
this season. I had a pheasant and some partridges, but these I 
durst not send, as we are not authorised by law to kill them ; 
and as they examine strictly upon the great roads I should be 
unwilling to be reputed a smuggler. It is a misfortune for a 
man that likes this sort of sport preferable to any other to be 
liable to law and fine, or to be obstructed in the pursuit of a 
very innocent and wholesome diversion. Over the water "'tis 
death to shoot without license ; here 'tis prosecution, damages, 
and costs. I suppose you have heard that the French have been 
working at Dunkirk a kind of reservoir which, with a communica- 
tion with the neighbouring canals, will be a backwater sufficient 
to cleanse their harbour. Sir Piercy Brett and an engineer have 
been there to examine these late dangerous operations. Their 
report is not yet made public, or, at least, it has not reached the 
top of our hill. But I think our neighbour's meaning is pretty 
plain, and I hope we shaVt misunderstand him. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Admiral Sir Piercy Brett was one of Anson's officers in his 
celebrated voyage round the world. He was knighted in 1753 and 
was afterwards one of the Lords of the Admiralty. 

To HIS Mother. 

Dover Castle, 2 Feb., 1754. 

Dear Madam, — ^This providential hard frost interposes 
between us and an ugly malignant disorder that has broken out 
in our neighbourhood. An infection in the air is best overcome 
by cold ; and indeed there is no other remedy. We did believe 
for a time that our companies would be cantonned along the 


coast of Kent, to keep suspected vessels from approaching the 
shore. Such a disposition of the troops would be reasonable and 
safe in any other country but this : here it must be ineffectual : 
the villainy of the smugglers would overcome all precautions. 
We have (besides the apprehension of the plague) sometimes 
thought ourselves in the way of this East India expedition ; and 
if they had sent a regiment from England, it could have been 
none other, but Lord Bury's rank and employment exempts him 
from these undertakings, and I do suppose he would not think 
it consistent to let his regiment embark without him ; so we are 
reserved for more brilliant service. 

By a letter that I have received lately from London I am 
informed that we are to move from this place sooner than was 
expected ; and that we shall begin to change our quarters early 
in the month of March. Five companies are to go to Bristol 
and five to Exeter. If we are reviewed, as I hope we shall be, 
before we get into the west, I may be able to be sooner with you 
than I could propose ; and consequently shall enjoy that satis- 
faction, beyond my expectations and in the finest season. I hear 
that my cousin, Whetham, ha^ met with a very ugly accident and 
is in danger of losing an eye. The rage of fox-hunting that 
seems to possess all the descendants of the old master, has been 
fatal to that poor lad ; though I hope it is not so bad as has 
been represented. 

I beg my duty to my father. I wish you both much health, 
and am, dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam. Wolfe. 

There was great indecision at head-quarters regarding the further 
disposition of Wolfe's regiment in the new year. As every motion 
made by France was looked upon with suspicion, there was at first 
a scheme for cantoning the men along the coasts of Kent to prevent 
suspicious vessels from approaching land, and he received orders 
from the Horse Guards to this effect. Wolfe thought little of this 
arrangement, which he declared would prove ineffectual, "as the 
villainy of the smugglers would overcome all precautions," and was 
neither surprised nor sorry when the order was countermanded, 
owing to " the hard frost." During February there was a case of a 
deserter, and for the first time Wolfe had to preside at a court- 
martial. It appears that recruits for the French service were 
shipped at Dover, and which also gave an opportunity to deserters. 


In a regimental order Wolfe desires certain men who had been, or 
wish to be, in the French service, to know that he sets no value 
upon them. He had " much rather they were in the Irish brigade 
than in the Army of Great Britain ; but if any of them, hereafter, 
should threaten to desert, he shall be immediately whipped out of 
the regiment as a fit recruit for the rebel battalions hired by the 
French to serve against their country."" 

To HIS Father. 

Dover Castle, 13 Feb., 1764. 

Dear Sir, — It has been so intolerably cold for these last 
three weeks that I have been hardly able to hold a pen or to do 
any kind of business ; and I am afraid you have not been less 
sensible of its severity. This welcome thaw will restore people 
to the use of their limbs, and introduce another and more grateful 
season. One of the captains of our regiment, whose whole 
happiness is made up of hunting, came from his quarters at 
Maidstone with his pack of fleet harriers, to hunt in this 
neighbourhood ; because the country here is better than about 
Maidstone. He arrived a day or two before the frost and must 
depart forthwith ; so that the unfortunate man, and the whole 
garrison indeed, have been disappointed of their favourite and 
much desired diversion. Thus by the breath of a north east 
wind are the finest prospects of sport and pleasure made to 
vanish like smoke and pass away like a dream. Pleasures that 
are enjoyed, leave but a slight impression : they furnish matter 
for idle talk. But the cooler reflection upon them serves but to 
convince a thinking person, that we are occupied about small 
matters and earnest upon trifles. This consideration ought to 
make this sort of disappointments sit easy ; since all that we can 
have of what is past, is but a faint idea. 

I have been appointed to preside at a general court martial, 
composed of officers of our regiment for the trial of a deserter. 
This is the first time that I have acted in that grave office, and 
a very grave one it is, when the matter under consideration is of 
any importance. These courts of justice should not be assembled 
too frequently ; lest the troops should forget or lose the respect 
and veneration that they ought to have for such courts. I hope 
the weather will invite you soon to take the air. The more 
you breathe the freshness of the morning air in the spring, the 
better for your health ; and the more you stir about and vary 
your conversation, the more cheerful you must necessarily be. 


I hope to hear that some business calls you often to London ; 
or that your affection for the King''s person draws you sometimes 
into his presence. I am sure you ought to be, and consequently 
will be a more acceptable courtier than many that go there, 
merely to ask favours. 

I wish you and my mother much health. I beg my duty to 
her, and am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam. Wolfe. 

To HIS Mother. 

Dover Castle, 6 March, 1764. 
Dear Madam, — The spring that brings new life and spirits 
to all things else, will, I hope, have some good effects upon 
you ; but you must not expect its assistance, unless you strive 
to procure it. You have your garden and your park to walk 
in, and your heath for riding ; these are not to be neglected : 
and if my father or you should be advised, (as formerly you 
were by very wholesome counsel) to change your situation or 
your air for a time, such advice is not to be slighted whatever 
seeming inconveniences may oppose it. 

The leave of absence that I have asked (and as it seems not 
very unreasonable, perhaps it may be granted) is from review 
till August. I go to the regiment and stay during the months 
of September, October, November and longer, if ifs insisted upon. 
Then I come up for two months before embarkation, to appoint 
factors, agents, etc. upon all my estates and settle other weighty 
concerns; that my affairs may not run into confusion in my 
absence. This I hope you will think is a necessary precaution for 
all that are possessed of any considerable property of lands, houses, 
manors etc ! ! Jack Streton's marriage will be no great obstruc- 
tion to his fortune, nor so inconvenient as to your moving foot 
officer. In the train, they have good fixed establishments, and 
their prospect of preferment is entirely within their own corps. 
In other respects I hope neither Mrs. Streton nor any good 
mother who values the health and advantage of her children, 
would oppose the salutary state of marriage, nor encourage their 
offspring to tread in the paths of sin and wickedness. A great 
deal more might be said upon this subject to prove the necessity 
of matrimony ; but, as the men are getting under arms I must 
put off* the rest till another time. 


My duty to my father, I wish you both all happiness, and 
am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam: Wolfe. 
To Mrs. Wolfe, 
JBlackheath, Kent. 

At last Whitehall made up its official mind as to the corps, 
and in March the regiment, or the six companies of it which had 
spent the winter at Dover Castle, descended the slopes and took 
the road for Sittingbourne, from which pleasant old-fashioned town 
Wolfe writes to his mother. 

To HIS Mother. 

Sittingbourne, 2Uh March, 1754. 

Dear Madam, — Although this is not the most agreeable 
weather to march in, yet we are glad to get out of our old 
castle upon any terms. It was to no purpose to complain of 
our condition or quarters, nor becoming the character of a 
soldier to do it ; but since the bad part is over, and we have 
borne it with patience, a man may be allowed to rejoice at 
the escape. I am sure there is not in the King's dominions 
a more melancholy dreadful winter station than that we have 
just left ; and the neglect of the Board of Ordnance adds con- 
siderably to the natural horror that the situation and buildings 
raise in men's minds, and even makes it dangerous to reside in it 
in cold weather. So much for the vile dungeon ! 

Our orders of march have been changed two or three several 
times, but at last it is resolved that we shall bend directly 
towards Guildford, where five of our companies are to assemble 
to be reviewed by Lord Bury ; the rest are to proceed to Bristol 
with expedition, being strongly solicited thereto by the magis- 
trates of that place, who, I suppose, are in some dread of the 
colliers and other riotous persons in their neighbourhood. I 
told my father the reason why I could not hope to have the 
pleasure of seeing you before I am dismissed by authority ; but 
it may happen that the cross road from Dartford to Croydon 
is so bad that we shall be obliged to march over the Heath and 
by Lewisham, in which case 111 do myself the honour (in the 
polite phrase) of waiting upon you for an hour, and I wish I may 
find you triumphing over the inclemency of the season. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe, 


As -Wolfe anticipated, the road from Dartford by which the 
authorities usually led the troops in order to circumvent the 
metropolis was quite impassable by the spring floods — in fact, 
before Macadam's time, the roads in this part of England were 
especially infamous — and so Wolfe did himself the honour " in 
the polite phrase" of waiting upon his parents in Montagu 
Walk, Blackheath. One may be sure, that brief as his visit was, 
he did not neglect to visit the kennels and find out the exact state 
of health and spirits of each of his six dogs, whose joy at welcoming 
their master must have been testified to all the surrounding 
neighbourhood. But a more satisfactory sojourn at home was 
close at hand. Lord Bury duly came down and reviewed his 
regiment at Guildford, and the ceremony over Wolfe got a fairly 
long leave of absence. He returned straightway to Blackheath, 
where he passed two or three months at the very finest season 
of the year, when garden and the adjoining park were at their 
best, and the Lieutenant-Colonel could scamper over the turf 
with all his dogs to his heart's content or mount his favourite 
horse, gallop over to visit his friends at Squerryes Court, fifteen 
miles away, over steep Westerham Hill. 

Early in July he received an invitation to visit Freefolk, near 
Whitchurch in Hampshire, from his old friend. Sir John Mordaunt, 
uncle of his inamorata. Miss Lawson. There is something in this 
young lady's rejection of the Lieutenant- Colonel's suit that leads 
one to believe it was inspired from outside, probably by Wolfe's 
own parents. It is not as if she had bestowed her heart elsewhere. 
Although boasting many suitors the late Maid of Honour to the 
mother of George III remained unmarried, for the rest of her short 
life. Her death happened only six months before Wolfe's own. 
News of the young General Wolfe's engagement to Miss Lowther 
leaked out in Bath before he sailed on his last expedition in 
February 1759. In the month following, while he was still at 
sea, she to whom he had so long and with s uch ardour paid court 
breathed her last.^ 

To HIS Mother. 

Freefolk, July Uth, 1764. 

Dear Madam, — Sir J. Mordaunt's civility, good-breeding, 
and good-humour make his house easy and pleasant to his 
guests, and the country round about has a variety of charms, 
especially to those that love sport. As far as my disposition 

^ Gentleman's Magazine, Obituary. 


will permit, I live everywhere as they live with whom I am, and 
put off the fixing upon a way of life, or preferring one method 
to another till I can do it at home, — in all simplicity following 
nature without control. My mistress"'s picture hangs up in the 
room where we dine. It took away my stomach for two or three 
days, and made me grave ; but time, the never failing aid to 
distressed lovers, has made the semblance of her a pleasing, but 
not a dangerous object. However, I find it best not to trust 
myself to the lady's eyes, or put confidence in any resolutions of 
my own. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 
Our hero was but an indifferent patron of the turf. 

To HIS Father. 

Freefolk, July 2\8t, 1754. 

Dear Sir, — I have rambled over several places in this neigh- 
bourhood. The Duke of Bolton's park and gardens at Hackwood 
are well worth a journey to see them. I was there and at 
Basingstoke races the same day. If I had understood matters 
of that sort, or had been a more refined politician and better 
corn-tier than I really am, I should have carried my pockets off 
full of money, for there were great odds offered against the 
Duke's horse, and some of the country gentlemen seemed to 
propose wagers with more passion than judgment. The Duke 
was not present. Boscawen managed his interest upon the 
course, and except him there was not a soul that I had the least 
acquaintance with. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

The Boscawen mentioned in the foregoing was the Hon. John 
Boscawen, fifth son of the Earl of Falmouth and brother of the 
Admiral, who was destined to command the naval expedition to 
Louisburg in 1758. 

A week later Wolfe returned to Blackheath, between which place 
and Westerham he divided his time until the latter end of September. 
His leave then coming to an end he travelled across England to 
Bath and from thence to Bristol, where his regiment was. Mrs. 
Wolfe was preparing for her own journey to Bath, at which 
resort she and the General spent several weeks every year. The 
Mrs. Thornhill of the following letter was the wife of Wolfe's 


neighbour at Blackheath, nephew of the eminent painter, Sir James 
Thornhill. One gets an idea of the multifarious duties of an 
army agent in those days when one of them is required to engage 
lodgings for the wife or mother of a client in her travels. 

To HIS Mother. 

Bristol, Sunday, 29 Sept., 1754. 

Dear Madam, — My journey agreed so well with me the first 
day that I found myself in condition to put an end to it sooner 
than I could expect ; and I came here early the second day. 
John and my equipage arrived the third, not quite so happily 
as one could wish ; for one of the horses (my own incomparable 
steed) fell and has cut his knees severely, and the other has 
a swelled leg. This and the excellent quality of the waters 
here for washing away all dregs and obstructions, will keep 
me till this day or to-morrow se''nnight. I found my new 
adjutant waiting to go with me but his cloak is at sea, will 
leave directions concerning it, and it may probably meet you 
at Bath. 

The company has nearly all left the Wells. The few that are 
still there are kept by the fine weather. Sir Charles Howard 
is of the number ; he has found more benefit this year than 
formerly, even to be able to get on horseback, and walk upon 
the Downs. 

I am going to see Mrs. Thornhill, who is very well, and 
would probably fill my letter with compliments if she knew I 
was writing. 

I beg my duty to my father, and am, dear Madam, 
Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

Mrs. Fisher has promised to provide good lodgings for you 
at Reading. 

Early in October Wolfe arrived in Exeter, where he took up 
his winter-quarters in a building within the walls of Rougemont 
Castle. Exeter was then a stronghold of Jacobitism, as staunch as 
when, a century before, Fairfax and his Roundheads had demolished 
the old Castle, after a stout resistance by the Cavaliers. 

One of the first incidents following the arrival of the 20th 
Regiment at Exeter was the drafting of a hundred men to another 
regiment, Dunbar's, ordered to sail for America to take part in 
the ill-fated General Braddock"*s expedition. 


To HIS Father. 

Exeter, 26th October, 1754. 

Dear Sir, — I have just received a letter from Lord Bury, 
concluding with this short paragraph : " I am just returned 
from the review of your father"'s regiment ; they did well, and the 
Duke was very well pleased with him." Lord Bury never carries 
his complaisance to his inferiors further than the truth. I wish 
people would stick to that above as well as below, — to be honest, 
if possible, at both ends ; but that's foreign to the present 
purpose. I am extremely pleased that this business has passed 
over so much to the Duke's satisfaction and to yours. It is a 
pity you were not better acquainted ; for His Royal Highness 
only begins to know you, — he has but just found out that 
nobody means better than General Wolfe. 

I begin to flatter myself that we shall soften the rigorous 
proceedings of our adversaries here, and live with them on better 
terms than hitherto. It is not our interest to quarrel with 
any but the French ; and they must be devilish minds that take 
a pleasure in disputing. I hope my good mother will tell me 
whafs doing at Bath, and I hope I shall hear from her that she 
is sensible of the good effect of its waters and of its cheerful 
variety and company. Tim. Brett passed through here some 
days ago, in his way home ; he had company with him, and 
could not even dine with me. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Exeter was not an easy place for a " Hanoverian " officer and a 
veteran of CuUoden to live in just then — hardly much more con- 
genial than some parts of Scotland had been during Wolfe's northern 
sojourn. But fortunately the Lieutenant-Colonel was the right man 
for a difficult post. At that time the Mayor of Exeter was a pro- 
nounced Tory named Arthur. A sense of his position made him 
reasonable, and very soon under the Colonel's suasion he began to 
relax sufficiently in his ultra- Jacobitism as to yield a hearty outward 
loyalty to the reigning powers and to set an example to his friends 
and colleagues. Wolfe also struck up a friendship with Bishop 
Lavington, who found the young officer " singularly engaging." 

To HIS Mother. 

Exeter, 31*^ October, 1754. 

Dear Madam, — I do not like the account of your health, but 


am not much surprised that you should catch cold upon the road. 
A person that has lain long in the same room, and in the same 
bed, must be subject to this inconvenience by change. By this 
time I hope that you have got over it, and are able to drink as 
much of the water and enjoy as much of the company as you find 
is for your advantage and entertainment. These public places 
are disagreeable at first till one falls in with a party to one''s 
taste, but they generally furnish so much variety that we are not 
long at a loss to find fit companions. 

My father said very little upon the subject of his review, just 
as much as helped me to conjecture that he was not ill pleased, 
but he did not mention a syllable of the Duke's civility to him 
which I was very glad to learn from you, and I was much 
rejoiced to perceive that you had been present at the military 
show, and had been diverted with it. If I did not profess the 
business myself, I should follow all the reviewing generals for the 
sake of seeing the troops. I know nothing more entertaining 
than a collection of well-looking men, uniformly clad and 
performing their exercise with grace and order. I should go 
further, my curiosity would carry me to all parts of the world, to 
be a spectator at these martial sights, and to see the various 
produce of diff*erent climates, and the regulations of different 
armies. Fleets and fortifications too are objects that would 
attract me as strongly as architecture, painting and the gentler arts. 

You did not tell me if Mrs. Lafausille was with you at Reading. 
By the company you had at cards, I conclude that Donnellan's 
offences are forgiven. I dropt my correspondence with him 
upon that score, and shall probably never revive it ; although I 
know him to be a whimsical little man of sense and generosity 
and honour. Have you seen any of our people at Bath ? They 
go over now and then from Bristol for a day to dance, and then 
return ; the poor devils can't stay long, they can't bear the expense. 
We have one very extraordinary person gone lately from hence, 
a lieutenant that you have heard me speak of, his name is Hennis, 
we call him Bardolph. If his figure does not frighten you, it will 
certainly make you laugh ; he will be at some gaming table. 

That poor infatuated old fool. Will, deserves compassion. 
He may now be considered as the most helpless, abandoned 
wretch upon the earth; blind folly to prefer the momentary 
satisfaction that ale can give to the solid certainty of care and 
usage in your easy service ; these creatures are insensible of 
present advantages or prospect of future misery. 


Will you believe that no Devonshire squire dances more than 
I do ? What no consideration of pleasure or complaisance for 
the sex could effect, the love of peace and harmony has brought 
about. I have danced the officers into the good graces of the 
Jacobite women here abouts, who were prejudiced against them. 
It falls hard upon me, because of my indolence and indifference 
about it. We were upon such terms with the people in general 
that I have been forced to put on all my address, and employ my 
best skill to conciliate matters. It begins to work a little 
favourably but not certainly, because the perverseness of these 
folks, built upon their disaffection, makes the task very difficult. 

We had a little ball last night to celebrate his Majesty's 
birthday, purely military, that is, the men were all officers, 
except one. The female branches of the Tory families came 
readily enough, but not one man would accept the invitation ; 
because it was the King's birthday. If it had not fallen in my 
way to see such an instance of folly, I should not readily be 
brought to conceive it. 

" I remember,'"" wrote a lady a generation later, " the great 
General Wolfe to have been much admired for his talent in this 
science likewise ; but he was generally ambitious to gain a tall, 
graceful woman to be his partner, as well as a good dancer ; and 
when he was honoured with the hand of such a lady, the fierceness of 
the soldier was absorbed in the politeness of the gentleman. When 
thus innocently animated, the General seemed emulous to display 
every kind of virtue and gallantry that would render him amiable 
in a private character. Such a serene joy was diffused over his 
whole manners, mien, and deportment, that it gave the most 
agreeable turn to the features of that hero, who died for his 
country." ^ 

To HIS Father. 

Exeter, 6 Nov., 1754. 

Dear Sir, — Sir John Mordaunt hit upon a point in his 
journey to Plymouth that seems to carry reason and prudence 
with it. It occurred to him, that, as Lord Bury would probably 
get the first regiment of Dragoons that fell, and as another 
colonel of rank or quality or Parliamentary merit would probably 
succeed him. Sir John thought, that it would be best to wait 
that event, to propose the other change. He thinks it so difficult 

^ Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, by Mrs. M. Deverell, Gloucester, 1781, 
vol. i. p. 74. 


to accomplish that he is willing to have some circumstance of 
that sort in aid of the request ; for although I cannot expect or 
hope to succeed Lord Bury, yet it is a kind of grievance to put 
men over the heads of those who have been perhaps more accus- 
tomed to command, and have had all the business to do for 
several years. This is a plea, that would be of very little service 
in any other case, but may do good in this. Most of my brother 
Lieut. -Colonels are people who have arrived at the height of 
their expectations, or, at least will be contented to wait till their 
turn comes, without murmuring. Sir John offered to begin 
immediately ; but he advised this delay as the most convenient ; 
and you may be sure I did not oppose it. 

I shall answer my mother''s letter in a few days. I am glad 
to hear that you are both able to go abroad, and to taste the 
amusements of the place ; and wish your health may still enable 
you to do so. I cannot say I like my quarters : the inhabitants 
are of all ill species. I beg my duty to my mother and am, dear 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

Jam : Wolfe. 

To Lieut.-Gen. Wolfe, 
at Bath, Somerset. 

He has another amusing reference to old Lady Grey, whose 
son was joining the army. 

To HIS Mother. 

Exeter, 16^^ November, 1764. 

Dear Madam, — Lady Grey knows so well how to value a 
constant temper, that she must necessarily encourage such a 
lover, and keeps his hopes alive. For my part, I don't feel the 
least disposition to change ; but if ever I do, it shall be upon the 
plan prescribed by her. I will look where she points, but I 
must warn her that there are little wandering stars of very bright 
aspect at first, whose beauty and light are soon obscured, and 
will hardly bear a close inspection ; there are others of a nobler 
nature — fixed and permanent — upon whose friendly aid and 
guidance a traveller may depend. Now, to distinguish between 
these heavenly bodies requires a pretty good telescope and strong 
sight. But, to descend a little from things celestial to things 
that are material, I must acknowledge her ladyship's great 
goodness in offering such security to the General as she is 
possessed of. 
R 2 


The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Exeter and myself are 
hand and glove. We drink Church and King together upon 
extraordinary occasions at the Guildhall ; but when he does me 
the honour to dine, we leave out the divine part of the toast, 
which makes him suspect my religion, and he cannot help think- 
ing that the officers of the army are no better than they should 
be. The people seem to be tolerably well disposed towards us 
at present. How long they will continue in such good humour 
it is quite uncertain. I hope it will last our time, for as the 
town has nothing in it either inviting or entertaining, the 
circumstances of a civil war would make it intolerable. I am in 
a perfect solitude with a crowd of people around, for all our 
conversable officers are sent off upon different duties, and the 
inhabitants are of a species not to be frequented. There are 
some sensible, well-bred men amongst the clergy that are seldom 
seen. The Bishop was very civil, but he is gone to Parliament.^ 

The night of dreadful thunder which affected you did not in 
the least disturb my rest. Nothing wakes me, which I reckon a 
misfortune, and I draw an inference from it to the disadvantage 
of my future affairs. Sound sleep is the mark of an inactive 
mind, and such are never great or useful ; but, to balance it, 
quiet rest and a clear conscience are constant companions. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

To HIS Mother. 

Exeter, Dec. 6th, 1764. 

Dear Madam, — ^The good account you give of yourself 
rejoices me most sincerely. I am almost tempted to go to Bath 
for the pleasure of seeing you free from pain, and if you stay till 
next month, I hope it will be in my power to call upon you for 
a day or two on my way to Bristol, and through the recruiting 
quarters ; the state of our regimental affairs will keep me longer 
at quarters than I expected, and so long, that I shall not be 
absent above a month or 5 weeks in the spring ; a little before 
we embark, you can't fill up too much of your time with amuse- 
ments, it is cheerfulness and ease that will prolong your life and 
that is not to be had, but in some well suited society. We that are 
young and in the world have a thousand different ways of employing 
ourselves and of getting through our time, it is not so with people 
more advanced in years, and though I am not particularly fond of 
cards myself, yet I think they are reasonable and very innocent 
^ Dr. George Lavington, Bishop of Exeter. 


instruments of diversion ; and I am always sorry when I suffer 
myself to censure an entertainment that is quite harmless, purely 
because it is not to my taste ; my meaning when I speak upon 
that point is, that young folks should be careful of engaging in 
any pursuit that may sacrifice the hours of their improvement, 
and that they who have the warmest of tempers are most likely 
to push into excess that way, as in all things else, which they are 
bent upon. It is time my Lady Grey should discard me and 
take a younger lover. I am really not worth a farthing ; but, 
however, she may be assured that I am now as much in love with 
her, as with any woman in England, a fact that she seemed to 
doubt the last time I saw her. 

The company at Bath (by your account) may admit of 
some increase without being sensibly felt ; I suppose they hold 
out pretty well, till after Christmas, when the shows in the capital 
begin to be most in vogue, and it is fashionable to be there. 

There is a widow at Bristol who has, or seems to have, a 
kindness for the Major, I wish she may prevail with him to rest 
in her arms from his military labours. Although we should lose 
a good officer by the retreat of our Major, yet in favour of one 
who has as fair pretensions, I hope she will take him to herself. 
But it is a doubt with me whether if he should marry the widow, 
he could be brought to quit the service. 

Maxwell ^ dances remarkably well for a man of his uncommon 
size. I suppose he is much liked at Bath, for I daresay he is 
much known — he is the best humoured man alive. Poor Hennis 
(alias Bardolph) had such a cold while he was at Bath, that he 
could not go out of his lodgings, and so escaped being seen. I 
have so many letters to send to poor subalterns and recruiting 
officers, that I can''t spare a frank ; and I have so much to do 
before the post goes out that I must make an end with wishing 
you and my father the best health. My duty to him. 
I am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam : Wolfe. 
A short note to an old friend was penned a few days later. 

To Captain Rickson. 

Exeter, 9<A December, 1754. 

Dear Rickson, — I was obliged to Governor Trapaud for 
intelligence of my little friend; and though I cannot rejoice 
1 Afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton Maxwell. 


much in your present situation, yet I think you will make your- 
self and your acquaintance easy and happy wherever you are. 
The Governor said you intended to write ; let me desire you to 
put so good a resolve into quick execution, and tell me how it 
fares with you in that remote quarter. I admire the goodness of 
Providence in this one thing (amongst thousands that are worthy 
of admiration), that, in whatever situation a man happens to be 
placed, the mind is so framed, that it works itself out some 
occupation and finds something or other to make a pleasure of; 
supposing that no distant object has taken violently hold of one's 
affections, or that we are unreasonably bent upon some absent 
imagined satisfaction. Trapaud thinks he is very happy in 
having you with him, and I think so too. Pray how do you 
think upon the matter ? and what sort of life do you lead ? 

I shall be here a month or six weeks longer, within which 
time I hope to learn good tidings of you from yourself. I 
heartily wish you well. 

I am, my dear friend. 

Your affectionate and faithful servant, 

James Wolfe. 

When the Christmas holidays came Wolfe rode over to Bath, 
where both his parents then were, and spent ten days with them. 
Thither came tidings of the death of the Earl of Albemarle, 
and the consequent succession of his Colonel, Lord Bury, to the 
peerage. As Lord Albemarle he would probably have sufficient 
influence to obtain a post of some lucrative nature, and might 
therefore be expected to relinquish the colonelcy of the 20th. On 
the 3rd of January Wolfe was back again at Rougemont Castle, 
where he found a letter from head-quarters awaiting him, ordering 
him to hold himself in readiness to preside at a court-martial on 
board the fleet at Bristol. 

During the time that Wolfe was at Bristol attending the court- 
martial which sentenced several men to capital punishment, the 
weather was especially severe, and the trying nature of his duties 
had its natural effect upon his spirits as the east winds had over his 

To HIS Mother. 

Bristol, 19th January, 1753. 

Dear Madam, — Folks are surprised to see the meagre, con- 
sumptive, decaying figure of the son, when the father and 


mother preserve such good looks ; and people are not easily 
persuaded that I am one of the family. The campaigns of 
1743, "'4!, '5, '6, and 'T, stripped me of my bloom, and the winters 
in Scotland and at Dover have brought me also to old age and 
infirmity, and this without any remarkable intemperance. A 
few years, more or less, are of very little consequence to the 
common run of men, and therefore I need not lament that I am 
perhaps somewhat nearer my end than others of my time. I 
think and write upon these points without being at all moved. 
It is not the vapours, but a desire I have to be familiar with 
those ideas which frighten and terrify the half of mankind that 
makes me speak upon the subject of my dissolution. 

While realizing that the nature of his constitution was such as 
made long life extremely improbable, at the same time he desired 
that those years that remained to him should be of use to himself 
and the country. He therefore by no means was content to remain 
stationary, and die at home a Lieutenant-Colonel on the retired 
list. So far all his plans for further advancement had been baulked ; 
but there was still another way and this occurred to his friend 
General Mordaunt. He suggested that the old General should 
resign the colonelcy of Wolfe's regiment in favour of his son who 
would settle an annuity upon his sire. But James did not enter- 
tain the proposal favourably. 

To HIS Father. 

Exeter, *Jth February^ 1755. 

Dear Sir, — I have writ to Sir John Mordaunt by this post 
to decline his obliging offers of service with thankfulness and 
gratitude. A soldier's life in war is too great an uncertainty 
for you to hazard a necessary part of your income upon. I 
should be afraid to die, more than is natural, if it left my parents 
unprovided of a subsistence depending upon my life. Besides, 
how far an expensive war may affect the funds I know not. Your 
better judgment upon this point may furnish you with reasons 
for or against any alteration of your affairs. Some security 
there should be for my mother if she should outlive you, and 
me, and the public credit, — a thing, in my mind, not altogether 

As I said in my last letter, we expect to go on board the 
fleet, and 'tis a service that we all like, from the importance of 
a success at sea, to which we should be happy to contribute ever 


SO little. I know, if your health and time of day would allow, 
you would offer your services to the good old King. He will, 
however, be pleased to see what remains of his faithful old 
soldiers, and I hope you now and then appear with the rest, 
and give those proofs of your attachment. Excuse the freedom 
I take to say that you can't better exert your strength in the 
spring than by going a few days to your regiment, to look at 
them with a cheerful, friendly face, and to see if there be any- 
thing wanting which is in your power to supply. Such an at- 
tention pleases the troops, and must be acceptable to his Royal 
Highness the Duke. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

For some weeks he had been warned to prepare to go on board the 
fleet for service at sea. But although he held his men in readiness 
nothing definite arrived. In this state of suspense there seems to 
have been a suspicion that the Twentieth might be sent to America. 
The new Earl of Albemarle (Lord Bury) had obtained the com- 
mand of a troop of cavalry, and the Twentieth was now without a 
Colonel. Who would be appointed ? At this juncture his mother 
wrote him that his uncle. Major Walter Wolfe, had a plan to secure 
an East India Company appointment whereby he would be enabled 
to do his nephew a good turn. What if Wolfe had been induced 
to serve under Clive's banners in India ! 

To HIS Mother. 

Exeter, 11^^ February, 1755. 

Dear Madam, — We are in expectation of sudden orders for 
some service ; what it is we know not. If we are ordered on board 
the fleet either to cruise, or to Virginia, it will be absolutely 
necessary that I get myself furnished with a quantity of coarse 
shirts ; and how to do it I really am at a loss to know, and if we 
were to take the field I should be wholly ruined. This is the state 
of my affairs, — I am eight and twenty years of age, a Lieutenant- 
colonel of Foot, and I cannot say that I am master of fifty 
pounds. My preparations for Minorca have run me a ground 
and, in short, I am so distressed that I feel myself a little uneasy, 
and am surrounded with miserable devils in the same circum- 
stances, to whom a battle would be a happy event. Don't trouble 
yourself about my room or my bedclothes ; too much care and 
delicacy at this time would enervate me, and complete the de- 
struction of a tottering constitution. Such as it is, it must serve 


me now, and I'll make the best of it, and the fittest use while it 

My uncle Wafs scheme is either very extravagant or a very 
prudent one. If my uncle means to mend his health by a soft 
climate, he can't take a better method than what you say he 
proposes. If his intentions are to be useful to me, I can't but 
think myself highly obliged to him ; although I could well wish 
that he would not put himself out of his way upon my account 
as it will not answer the end that I know he proposes. The case, 
as it appears to me, is this, — that the uncle has much more am- 
bition than the nephew, and that he has a better opinion of me 
than I have of myself, and far better than I deserve. He wants 
that I should make a considerable figure in our profession ; and 
as he is a skilful man himself he would willingly contribute to it. 
His letters are all calculated to answer that end, but he never 
mentioned a syllable to me of his late project. If he had I 
should certainly have opposed it. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Of course, Wolfe had merely to hint to his parents that he had 
pressing need for money in case the expected orders came, to receive 
instantly a promise of funds. For the old General, having got all 
his arrears and turned a pretty penny in the usual way with 
regimental commanders, was now fairly well-to-do. 

To HIS Father. 

Exeter, l^th February y 1755. 

Dear Sir, — By my mother's letter, which came to me this 
morning, I find that your bounty and liberality keep pace (as 
they usually do) with my necessities. I shall not abuse your 
kindness, nor receive it unthankfully, and what use I make of it 
shall be for your honour and the King's service, an employment 
worthy the hand that gives it. I cannot bear the thoughts of 
asking these sort of supplies from any foreign purse, and therefore 
should have been more distressed without your assistance than 
can well be described. I would not wish that anything should 
take off* my attention from the most important parts of my 
duty ; nor feel myself cramped and tied down by the narrow- 
ness of my circumstances at the time when the thoughts should 
be free and at large. If a man be ill served, or ill armed in the 
field, he is deprived of the necessary aids to his well-doing ; and 


that spirit will guide others but indifferently which bends under 
its own wants. I shall husband your gifts with discretion, and 
be gratefully mindful of your goodness. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Mrs. Wolfe had conveyed from the old General a good deal 
of counsel founded upon his own long experience in the service. 
He could never forget the disastrous business of Carthagena fifteen 
years before, and how ill the country was served by its naval com- 
manders, how miserably the fleet was victualled, and the other 
horrid details of death and disease which sprang from incompetence 
and mismanagement. Consequently he was greatly loath to let 
his son go upon such a service if any other were honourably to 
be had. After all, the veteran was not to be blamed. He was a 
soldier of the old school. He saw little as yet to justify confidence 
in the new. Moreover, he liked his ease and did not believe in 
courting difficulties. His son was of another stamp : he was 
unhappy when at his ease ; he rejoiced in difficulties and hardships 
if they led to what his soul craved. 

To HIS Mother. 

Exeter, l^th February , 1756. 

Dear Madam, — May I be permitted to say that my father's 
apprehension, and consequently yours, are not well grounded ? 
He was on board the fleet in the beginning of the war, preceded 
by a peace of thirty years, in which the sea officers as well as 
ours had almost forgot their trade. Matters are not now so 
circumstanced, and there are many commanders in the fleet who 
are men of high courage and spirit. Let me add that things 
were inconveniences, and disagreeable ones at his time of life 
which are not so at mine. I please myself that we are likely to 
do our country good service by going on board the fleet. The 
sickness that we feel at first will soon be over, and I flatter 
myself, if occasion be, that we shall spur them on to their duty. 
The success of our fleet in the beginning of the war is of the 
utmost importance, and we shall have great merit in contribut- 
ing ever so little towards it. It is no time to think of what is 
convenient or agreeable ; that service is certainly the best in 
which we are most useful. For my part, I determined never to 
give myself a moment's concern about the nature of the duty 


which his Majesty is pleased to order us upon ; and whether it 
be by sea or by land that we are to act in obedience to his com- 
mands, I hope that we shall conduct ourselves so as to command 
— his approbation. It will be sufficient comfort to you two, as 
far as my person is concerned, at least it will be a reasonable con- 
solation, to reflect that the Power which has hitherto preserved 
me may, if it be His pleasure, continue to do so ; if not, that is 
but a few days or a few years more or less, and that those who 
perish in their duty, and in the service of their country, die 
honourably. I hope I shall have resolution and firmness enough 
to meet every appearance of danger without great concern, and 
not be over-solicitous about the event. 

The dogs are to be disposed of as follows — you are to have 
Flurry instead of Romp, and Romp is to be given to Sergeant 
Goodman whenever he calls for her. The two puppies I must 
desire you to keep a little longer, till I can dispose of them so as 
not to be troublesome to you. I can't part with either of them, 
but must find good and secure quarters for them as well as my 
friend Caesar, who had great merit and much good humour. I 
have given Sancho to Lord Howe, so that I am now reduced to 
two spaniels and one pointer, all of excellent kinds. Beckwith is 
just come into the room. He always puts a stop to my writing ; 
I must therefore present my duty to my Father. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

PS. — I put both your letters under one cover ; the thanks 
that are due to one are due to the other, for your intentions and 
kindness to your son are alike. I am now able to come to you, 
and may have leave for eight or ten days perhaps. Before I 
could not undertake the journey without dreading the expense. 

Jemmy's conduct astonishes me. He should blush to be any- 
where but at his colours at this time. A young lieutenant 
loitering up and down Greenwich Park ! If he belonged to us I 
would soon bring him to quarters, and find him full employment. 
What is my old friend about ? If this comes to be known, 
Jemmy's reputation must suffer ; the monthly returns of his 
regiment will publish his idleness. Jack is of other mettle, and 
has good need of it. It has fallen hard upon that poor lad ; I 
wish the other had his share. Where does Jack go next ? He 
will have visited all the remote corners of the earth. I beg you'll 


tell him that I wish him well, that I regret his hard lot, and 
that I should have been much pleased to have seen my old friend 
and schoolfellow. 

The " Jack " of the foregoing was indeed of good mettle, for he 
lived to be General John Streton, and survived until 1803. 

While Wolfe was still at Exeter expecting orders to embark, 
he had news that his old friend Rickson had returned from Nova 
Scotia and had been sent with his regiment to Fort Augustus. 
Probably no letter that Wolfe ever penned exhibits the fervour 
of his friendship or his professional zeal in so strong a light as 
that which he wrote to Rickson in answer to one from the " little 

To Captain Rickson. 

Exeter, "Jth March, 1755. 

My dear Friend, — Just as I received your letter the drum 
beat to arms, and we have been in a bustle ever since. Now 
that it has become a little calm again, I will gather my wits 
together, and collect my friendly sentiments (a little dispersed 
with the sound of war,) to answer it. Be so good for the time 
to come to presume with yourself that you have a right to 
correspond with me whenever you please and as often ; and be 
persuaded that you cannot do me a greater pleasure than by 
writing to me. I want to persuade you that neither time, nor 
distance, nor different fortunes, either has or ever will, make the 
least alteration in my affection towards your little person ; and 
that in all probability I shall die as much your friend as I have 
lived, whether at the end of one or twenty years, of which 
disposition in me, if I had opportunity to convince you, you 
would have sufficient proof. Though I know how reasonable 
and philosophic a man you are, yet I shall not allow you quite 
as much merit as I would to another in your situation. The 
remembrance of Nova Scotia makes Fort Augustus a paradise ; 
your sufferings there will be no small aid to your contentment, 
for nothing can well happen of greater trial than what you 
have already overcome. 

Since I began my letter to you yesterday, there'^s a fresh and 
a loud report of war. More ships are ordered to be fitted out ; 
and we must expect further preparations suited to the greatness 
of the occasion. You in the north will be now and then 
alarmed. Such a succession of errors, and such a strain of ill- 


behaviour as the last Scotch war (the rebeUion of 1745) did 
produce, can hardly, I believe, be matched in history. Our 
future annals will, I hope, be filled with more stirring events. 

What if the garrisons of the forts had been under the orders 
of a prudent, resolute man (yourself for instance) would not they 
have found means to stifle the rebellion in its birth ? and might 
not they have acted more like soldiers and good subjects than it 
appears they did? What would have been the effects of a 
sudden march into the middle of that clan who were the first to 
move ? What might have been done by means of hostages of 
wives and children, or the chiefs themselves ? How easy a small 
body, united, prevents the junction of distant corps ; and how 
favourable the country where you are for such a manoeuvre, if, 
notwithstanding all precautions they get together, a body of 
troops may make a diversion, by laying waste a country that the 
male inhabitants have left, to prosecute rebellious schemes. 
How soon must they return to the defence of their property — 
such as it is — their wives, their children, their houses and their 
cattle ? 

But above all, the secret sudden night-march into the midst 
of them ; great patrols of 50, 60, or 100 men each, to terrify 
them ; letters to the chiefs, threatening fire and sword, and 
certain destruction if they dare to stir ; movements that seem 
mysterious to keep the enemy'*s attention upon you, and their 
fears awake ; these and the like, which your experience, reading 
and good sense would point out, are means to prevent mischief. 

If one was to ask what preparations were made for the 
defence of the forts, I believe they would be found very in- 
sufficient. There are some things that are absolutely necessaiy 
for an obstinate resistance — and such there always should be 
against rebels — as tools, fascines, turf or sods, arms for the 
breach (long spontoons or halberds), palisades innumerable; 
whole trees converted into that use, stuck in the ditch to hinder 
an assault. No one of these articles was thought of, either at 
Fort Augustus or Fort George ; and in short, nothing was 
thought of but how to escape from an enemy most worthy of 
contempt. One vigorous sortie would have raised the siege of 
Fort Augustus ; 100 men would have nailed up the battery, or 
carried the artillery into the castle. 

I wish you may be besieged in the same manner ; you will 
put a speedy end to the rebellion, and foil their arms in the 
first attempt ; les Messieurs de Guise se sont tres mal comporte ! 


If there'*s war, I hope the General in the North will not disperse 
the troops by small parties, as has been practised hitherto ; but 
rather make choice of certain good stations for bodies that can 
defend themselves, or force their way home (to the forts) if 
occasion require it. At Laggan Achadrom, for example, they 
should build a strong redoubt, surrounded with rows of palisades, 
and trees, capable to contain 200 men at least. This is a post 
of great importance, and should be maintained in a most 
determined manner, and the MacDonalds might knock their 
heads against it to very little purpose. 

Old doting Humphrey ^ who is newly married, I find will be a 
good deal occupied at home, and fondly no doubt ; so you must 
not expect much aid from that quarter ; there''s our weak side. 

My McPherson should have a couple of hundred men in his 
neighbourhood, with orders to massacre the whole clan if they 
show the least symptom of rebellion. They are a war-like tribe 
and he is a cunning, resolute fellow himself. They should be 
narrowly watched ; and the party there should be well 

Trapaud will have told you that I tried to take hold of that 
famous man with a very small detachment. I gave the sergeant 
orders in case he should succeed, and was attacked by the clan 
with a view to rescue their chief to Tcill him instantly^ which I 
concluded would draw on the destruction of the detachment and 
furnish me with a sufficient pretext (without waiting for any 
instructions) to march into their country oil faurais fait main 
basse, sans misericorde. Would you believe that I am so bloody ? 
It was my real intention, and I hope such execution will be done 
upon the first that revolt, to teach them their duty and keep 
the Highlands in awe. They are a people better governed by 
fear than favour. 

My little governor talked to me, some time ago, of a parcel 
of musket-balls that belonged to us which he offered to send us. 
We fire bullets continually, and have great need of them ; but 
as I foresee much difficulty and expense in the removal, I wish 
he would bestow them, or a part, upon you ; and let me recom- 
mend the practice, you'll soon find the advantage of it. Marksmen 
are nowhere so necessary as in a mountainous country ; besides, 
firing balls at objects teaches the soldiers to level incomparably, 

^ Sir Humphrey Bland, Commander-in-Chief in Scotland^ married to Miss 
Betty Dalrymple. 

2 Evan MTherson, of Cluuy, was Lord Lovat's son-in-law. He became 
an outlaw for years after CuUoden. 


makes the recruits steady, and removes the foolish apprehension 
that seizes young soldiers when they first load their arms with 
bullets. We fire, first singly, then by files, 1, 2, 3, or more, 
then by ranks, and lastly by platoons ; and the soldiers see the 
effects of their shot especially at a mark, or upon water. We 
shoot obliquely, and in different situations of ground from 
heights downwards and contrary wise. I use the freedom to 
mention this to you, not as one prescribing to another, but to a 
friend who may accept or reject; and because, possibly it may 
not have been thought of by your commander, and I have 
experience of its great utility. 

I have not been in London all this winter. If the state of 
our affairs had permitted it, I should certainly have waited upon 
your sister. You could not propose a thing more agreeable- to 
me ; for I think I must necessarily love all your kindred, at 
least all that love you. I hope she has recovered the hurt 
occasioned by that unlucky accident. 

Pray ask Trap if he knows anything of Lady Culloden,^ how 
she is as to health ? for I have a particular esteem for her, am 
obliged to her for civilities shown me, and interest myself in her 
welfare. She seemed, poor lady, to be in a very ill state of health 
when I was in that country. 

I could pass my time very pleasantly at Fort Augustus upon 
your plan and with your assistance. There is no solitude with 
a friend. 

I hope to hear from you now and then, as your inclination 
prompts or your leisure allows ; the oftener the better. I wish 
you all manner of good, and am truly, my dear friend, 

Your faithful and affectionate Servant, 

J. W. 

My compliments to Mrs. Trapaud and the Governor. 
I was interrupted in the beginning of the letter, and the post 
came in from London before I began afresh. 

The second paragraph of the following is significant of the 
relations with regard to pecuniary matters subsisting between 
father and son. 

To HIS Father. 

Exeter, 12 March, 1755. 

Dear Sir, — I do hope that a proper confidence will always 
subsist between us. I have no interest distinct from yours, nor 

^ Mrs. Forbes. 


many passions to gratify, or if I have any, they shall always be 
subservient to your pleasure, for now I think I have them under 
pretty good command. 

Whenever I may have occasion to desire the aid of your purse, 
it will generally be with a view to do you honour, and to enable 
me to serve his Majesty, as you yourself would serve him. If 
there is a war, I must either rise or fall, and in either case am 
provided for; but as I would willingly enjoy the society of my 
friends without being troublesome to them, I should rather prefer 
the former, as the means of doing it, and having as yet some 
little relish of life. 

Three Companies of Waldgrave's late regiment are landed at 
Bideford, a ship with the remaining seven Companies lost her 
passage by running on shore in the harbour of Corke, but by the 
latter end of August I hope they will be over. 

It seems H.R.H. the Duke looks upon Carlisle and Berwick 
as places of great importance. Charles Desclouseaux is made 
Lt. Governor of one, and Billy Billings of our regiment 
is fort Major of the other. Officers of equal skill and 
capacity, and entirely calculated for an obstinate and vigorous 

The promotions in your regiment and the removal of Wright 
are marks of the Duke's goodness, and great proofs of his ex- 
cellent sense. It is a sound piece of politics to put the troops 
in good humour before a war, and to keep them afterwards so 
by repeated acts of justice and kindness. The affections of 
military men are easily won, and as easily kept ; they only ask 
regular preferment and to be treated with common humanity. 

I have had a letter from Sir John Mordaunt very lately in 
which he mentions his having seen you at Court, and I hope he 
will see you there again before long. 

Admiral Mostyn told me that Bockland's Regiment and ours 
were intended for the fleet. I had like intelligence from London ; 
and till very lately was fully persuaded of the truth of it. 
Musketry they must have, and till marines are raised or the Irish 
Regiment augmented I shall think it very possible that they 
may make use of us. 

The two letters that I enclose under your cover are for two 
friends as you see by the directions. I do not know where 
Allen now is, nor how to direct to him, therefore beg the favour 
of you to send it to his mother and desire her to take the trouble 
to forward it. 


I beg my duty to my mother and with wishes for your welfare, 
cease to write. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

Jam: Wolfe. 

We have excessive cold weather here, I am afraid it is stiU 
more severe to the eastward. 

*'Till Marines are raised"" reminds us that the old corps of 
Marines had been largely disbanded at the Peace of 1748. 



The orders impatiently expected by the Twentieth and its 
Lieutenant-Colonel never came. For them there was to be no fight- 
ing just yet, but instead they were notified that they must shift 
quarters from Exeter to Winchester. Thither on March 25 arrived 
Wolfe and his men, the regiment still without a colonel, the 
appointment not yet having been gazetted. Such of his friends 
as had access to the King and Commander-in-Chief urged the justice 
of appointing Lieutenant-Colonel Wolfe to the vacant post, but 
the King seems to have thought him, as ever, "too young." If 
only war were declared Wolfe felt confident he could make his 

To HIS Mother. 

Winchester^ 26 March y 1755. 

Dear Madam, — LTpon my arrival here yesterday I found your 
letter and I found a very unsatisfactory account of your health 
in it. The weather has been so uncommonly sharp, that I 
feared it would affect you, and you have the misfortune to feel 
all the changes and rudeness of climate that this country is 
subject to. I can recommend nothing to you, but the same 
course that you have hitherto pursued ; to be good and religious 
is the only means of quieting the mind under great afflictions, 
we have no other comfort here below, nor anything else worth 
our regard. A little more stirring in fair weather, and in a 
light machine, if you had one, might help you ; but the house 
and a great chair, is death or a life of misery. 

We are impatient to know whether peace or war is resolved 
on. If the latter, as we suppose, the troops will probably 
encamp very soon, to be ready for all purposes. In either case 
I must go to London for a few days to settle my affairs, and 
then I shall have the pleasure of being with you. 

The Marines you speak of, if they do raise any, will be put 
into Companies of 100 men each, and not into regiments as the 
newspapers have proclaimed, and these Companies are to have a 



field officer to inspect them, and a Lieut. Col. or Major to every ten 
or twelve Companies. The whole body of Marines will be under 
the Lords of the Admiralty and entirely out of our way. But 
do you imagine, if regiments were raised that I should have any, 
the least chance to succeed ? All my hope of success must be 
grounded upon right and just pretensions. I must serve and 
serve well or I cannot get forward ; for who mil be at the 
trouble to solicit for me out of pure friendship ? No man will 
ask such a favour, but where he promises himself, and expects 
something in return. 

I thank you for all your kindnesses, and for the pains you 
bestow upon me. I should be sorry if it brought the least 
distress upon you, or even cramped your compassionate and 
generous disposition. I have but a little while longer to be 
troublesome to you, a war of two or three years will, I hope, 
(though I do not wish it for my own sake, at the public hazard 
and expense) improve my circumstances. 

The sergeant I brought from London does not please me ; 
if you hear by chance of a good honest groom or a servant that 
can dress a wig, I pray you let me know. I thought I had left 
a stock with you — 'tis what I have most occasion for at present, 
as mine are actually worn to threads. I am a good deal out of 

I am, dear ^Madam, etc.. 

Jam : Wolfe. 

At last the blow fell : Lord Albemarle had hinted that the regi- 
ment was to go to General Fowke, at least an officer of rank. He now 
learnt to his discomfiture that Lieutenant -Colonel Philip Honey- 
wood, a man of wealth and boasting a good deal of political influence, 
had carried off the prize, being gazetted April 8, 1755.^ Wolfe took 
this not a little to heart, and for a moment entertained a plan for 
resigning his commission if he could not procure the boon of foreign 
service. " It was at Basingstoke that Lord Albemarle told me. . . . 
I thought it was a little offensive. ... It has indeed saved me 
some pains and some expense, and I may jog on in one of the 
easiest posts in the army and sleep and grow fat.*" 

War with France was looming upon the horizon : no man could 
tell whether the cloud would be dispersed or not. Nominally the 

* " Honeywood was removed in May the year following to the 9tli Dragoons. 
He rose to the rank of general^ and was many years Governor of Hull, M.P. 
for Appleby, and died in 1785." — Wright. 

S 2 


two nations had been at peace since 1748, but in the far-flung 
empires of both their subjects and armies had too many causes of 
dispute to remain tranquil. In India and North America they were, 
and had been, constantly flying at each other^s throats, and Wolfe 
watched these encounters in the remote parts of the earth with a 
feeling that there, if all other chances failed, lay his destiny. Those 
bloody rivalries would never permanently be allayed but by some 
crushing victory and defeat. For the moment in India there was 
a truce. The policy of France, so far as Canada was concerned, was 
to connect the two great territories of Canada and Louisiana, now 
separated by a thousand leagues of plain and forest, by a chain of 
forts, winning the intervening territory from the British colonists 
in Pennsylvania and Virginia. 

In 1752 the Marquis Duquesne appeared on the scene. His 
orders were to arrest the pretensions of the English to the Ohio 
and Western region and debar them from trade there. The new 
governor began by dispatching a force of Canadian Militia to build 
a French fort on Lake Erie and other posts elsewhere. When this 
aggressive policy was observed by the Indians, who admire vigour 
and courage, they were led naturally to range themselves on the 
side of the French. During the next few years battles and skir- 
mishes for the supremacy of the Ohio region were frequent, and it 
is during this period that we first hear of a youthful Virginian 
whose name, like Wolfe"'s, was destined to be world-famous. This 
was George Washington, who, five years Wolfe''s junior, had, at the 
age of nineteen, at the beginning of the Seven Years' War, been 
appointed adjutant of the Provincial troops, and in 1754 com- 
manded a regiment against the French at Fort Duquesne. In the 
Braddock disaster in the following year he was the only aide not 
killed or wounded, although two horses were shot under him. 
Braddock's defeat made conflict on a large scale in North America 

To HIS Father. 

Winchester, 12th Aprils 1755. 

Dear Sir, — Now that we have a Colonel who will perhaps 
think it his duty to be sometimes with his Regiment, my prison 
will be a little enlarged. Col. Honeywood's being put to this 
Regiment is no compliment to me, as I shall explain to you 
hereafter. If the like civilities are done in time to come, they 
will likewise be obliged to find out a new Lieut. Colonel ; for as 


I have told my Lord Albemarle, I am resolved, I shan't serve one 
moment longer than I can do it with honour, if I should starve. 
You are not to understand by this that I expected to succeed 
Lord Albemarle. I knew that was impossible, and I had no 
right to ask it ; but, however I am not at all pleased with what 
has happened ; and yet, I have no objection to Col. Honey wood ; 
which will make it perhaps more mysterious. 

I am going to Portsmouth, to see the fleet, and to see how 
their anchors hold in a haven ; for the wind rages most 
violently. I think they should put us on board, instead of the 
300 recruits that are ordered under the name of a Regiment of 
Foot. You need not take notice to anybody of what is said on 
the other side. I wish you health and all manner of good. 

I am Dear Sir, etc.. 

Jam. Wolfe. 

To HIS Mother. 

Winchester, Apr. 15th, 1755. 

Dear Madam, . . . Little Romp is come up, and pretty 
creature she is. If you would have me keep her in preference 
to FluiTy, I can do it, and you may have her again when you 
get rid of the rest, which shall be soon. Capt. Boisragon was so 
good to take a stock for a pattern ; it is hardly broad enough — 
but as the buckle is narrow I must be satisfied, till I can get a 
new one. . . . 

We are soon to be reviewed, and afterwards I may have a 
foi-tnight's leave to wait upon you, provided we don't encamp 
immediately. It is difficult to say, whether there will or will 
not be a war ; the French will determine that, as they please, as 
it suits their interest or convenience. 

If you arm yourself with philosophy, you are mistress of all 
events ; I have a natural indolence of temper, that helps me in 
some cases ; but I have too much impatience for much sharp pain. 
Will you excuse the shortness of my letter, I am interrupted 
by the coming in of Officers. My duty to my Father. I wish 
you both well and am, dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son, 

J: Wolfe. 

PS. — I have been at Portsmouth, or should have answered 
your letter sooner. 


Wolfe was still a passionate dog-lover, and his letters are full 
of reference to his canine friends. 

To HIS Mother. 

Winchester, Saturday, April 19M, 1755. 

Dear Madam, — Lord Albermarle has desired to have one of 
Flurry's puppies ; I have told him to take his choice, and that, 
which he pitches upon will be delivered upon demand ; I am 
many dogs in his debt, and owe him this return ; will you be 
pleased to give orders that the puppy his Lordship demands 
may be delivered to his servant 't There is a musket belonging 
to the regiment that Goodman should have called for. When- 
ever he or any person belonging to the regiment or in the 
regiment's name asks for that firelock, I desire it may be 
delivered to the person. 

I am afraid the cook gives the dogs too much meat ; flesh is 
a very dangerous food for dogs, and spoils their noses. While 
Ball eats his dinner, the coachman, or one of the servants might 
lock up the spaniels, and give them a little pot liquor and bread, 
or milk, or oatmeal and water : servants think that a dog is 
never well fed, unless he gets scraps of salt beef, pork, etc. — 
whereas these strong victuals are certain destruction, and they 
should never want water. I know you like these poor creatures, 
otherwise I would not venture to trouble you with so much upon 
the subject. Sir John Mordaunt reviews our regiment next 
Wednesday — and awhile hence, we are to have that honour done 
us by H.R.H. the Duke, an honour that every regiment in 
England will partake of. 

I hope to be able to pay you a short visit in the beginning 
of May, and I hope to find you both in such a state of health as 
will allow you to enjoy that fine season. I always wish you well, 
and am, dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam : Wolfe. 

In view of the existence of war, even though he may not 
participate, Wolfe is very restless. 

To HIS Mother. 

Freefolk, Ist May, 1755. 

Dear Madam, — You will be a little surprised to find my 
letter dated from hence, and you will be apt to wonder what I 


am doing so far from my duty and from my quarters ; but our 
review is over, and my friend Sir John did me the honour to 
invite me here for a day. He sets out for the west country to- 
morrow; and I return to my colours. We are but fourteen 
miles from Winchester. Mr. Honey wood has consented to me 
being ten days or a fortnight at liberty ; which, if you'll give 
leave, shall be chiefly passed with you ; and, as I have some 
business to settle in London, the conveniency of water-carriage, 
or my own horse, will facilitate my movements from Blackheath 
to that great capital. 

I intend to set out from Winchester on Sunday or Monday 
next, and to be with you the second day. I have been obliged 
to turn away one of my servants, and have taken necessary 
measures to be supplied with another. If a groom or other 
domestic should enquire for me at Blackheath, pray let him 
know when he may expect to see me. We have been very gay 
at Winchester till more serious matters call for our closer attend- 
ance, though the place is in itself dull and melancholy enough, 
yet five or six and twenty young military men are calculated to 
enliven it. Mr. Guiguer lives within six miles of the city, in 
a well furnished snug little house, and in a pretty country. I 
have made him two visits, and have found him a most hospitable 
and cheerful landlord, and his lady a very agreeable person. 
The people in general, both of Winchester and the country 
round about, are extremely civil and obliging ; and but for the 
burthen of so many soldiers upon particular houses, we should 
be quite happy in our present cantonments. The change to 
Blackheath will be to me (notwithstanding these advantages) a 
very desirable one; and what I most hope for is to find you 
both in perfect health and felicity. I beg my duty to my father, 
and am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

To HIS Father. 

Freefolkj Thursday, 5 June, 1755. 
Dear Sir, — If I had not rambled from place to place, you 
should have heard from me sooner. I owe you a particular 
letter of thanks for relieving me out of trouble and distress, 
and for putting me in a state of more comfort and ease 
for the time to come. I shall not take up much of your 
attention by long and tedious acknowledgements, but I am 


glad to feel myself happy by your means, and I have a pleasure 
in owning it. 

Some of us have been at Stewart's review, and were well 
enough entertained. I return to-morrow to Winchester ; there 
I shall wait Mr. Honeywood's coming, and then retire to South- 
ampton, and try to wash away the scurvy with salt water. 

The affairs of my family are a little disordered by John's 
misfortunes ; he is so confoundedly ill that I was forced to put 
him in our regimental hospital, that he might not drop to 
pieces — by good luck I found a fellow of character to serve me 
during his illness. 

The Duke reviews the Inniskilling Dragoons to-morrow ; and 
next week Stewart's and, they say, Skelton's ; yours and ours are 
not yet talked of 

Sir J. Mordaunt desires his compliments to you, and to my 
mother. I wish you both all satisfaction, and am, dear Sir, 
Your most obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam : Wolfe. 

To HIS Mother. 

Winchester, June 12th, 1755. 

Dear Madam, — I have heard of a pacing horse, that a lady 
sold to a farmer, because it paced — the creature is said to be 
quiet, and sound and good humoured. Have you any objection 
to a pacing horse ? because I am to see him next week, and if he 
is well and I like him — I shall buy him for you and send him up. 
If this does not do, further enquiry shall be made, and I won't 
rest till you are properly mounted. 

The shortness of my letter is a proof that I am in the middle 
of business. I wish you both well, and with my duty to my 
father, am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

To HIS Mother. 

Winchester, June 1766. 

Dear Madam, — My first business here, was to enquire about 
your horse, which unluckily turns out to be a mare, and broken 
winded : if, with these disadvantages, you would choose to have 
her, she shall be sent immediately to London by the carrier : but, 
as I suppose she will not be fit for your purpose, I shall use my 
best endeavours to get one that will. Guiguer, and other 


acquaintances may help me out. I intend to write to my father 
in a very short time ; and am now going to Southampton to 
regulate the affairs of my Company and of the Detachment. I 
return from thence to Winchester again on my way to Reading, 
where Stewart's Regt. is to be reviewed by Sir J. Mordaunt 
on Tuesday next : I met him by accident at Staines, and he 
summoned me to attend him at this famous review. 

I am to be two days at Freefolk, and come back with Sir 
John, who is going to his new house near Southampton. Col. 
Honeyvvood's brother is very near his end, the Col., I suppose, 
will try to see him before he dies, he is now at Bath. 

We shall execute a deserter next week, which though a neces- 
sary sight is yet a very dismal one. I beg my duty to my father 
and am, dear IVIadam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

The evils which Englishmen then apprehended fi'om war is 
well brought home to us in the following. 

To HIS Mother. 

Winchester, 20th June, 1755. 

Dear Madam, — I do not know what news may be stimng in 
the great world, but we have none that is bad. Our fleet is now 
more formidable than the fleet of England ever was, and as the 
regiments are growing every day more and more complete, I 
don't apprehend that there is the least shadow of danger to the 
island this campaign. 

What I most apprehend, and what " is very well worth our 
thoughts, is the excessive expense that a war creates to the 
English nation. This expense has already involved us so deep 
in debt that we have not much more credit, and consequently 
must give up the funds. Bank, etc., whenever the means of 
raising fresh supplies fail. This consideration should determine 
every thinking man (when war is declared) to divide at least his 
substance and take the first favourable opportunity to secure 
something upon land, for his family in case the other portion 
should be lost in the public ruin. It is no doubt a little 
troublesome to begin late in life to manage estates, especially 
great ones, but a small matter by way of security of two or three 
hundred pounds a year, is not, nor can be, very inconvenient, 
and I think I could, with the help of friends, find out a purchase 


of that sort, that would be no burthen. I do heartily advise 
this measure for your particular safety. My father^s regiment is 
certainty for him, and my trade will always subsist me in exigen- 
cies, and (sad it is to confess it) rather mends by the distress of 
others, than falls oiF. A war is of most uncertain conclusion, 
and the demands of money prodigious while it lasts. All private 
accounts should be cleared, and we should not become responsible 
for other men's affairs, when our own are so precarious. 

I have been here since Monday at the races, where there never 
was less sport in the horse way, but that defect is a good deal 
made amends for by the vivacity of the other entertainments, 
which the people here, and I suppose everywhere give into, as 
if no danger hung over us, nor no war was to be feared. 

I have danced incessantly, and mend upon it, which will en- 
courage me to be more the servant of the sex upon these occasions 
than I have hitherto been. 

I would have ycu persevere in riding, as the most salutary of 
all exercises, and the very best of all remedies for ill health. 
Have you two horses ? How are you provided ? for there is a 
growth of little cattle here that might produce something to fit 
you. I have countermanded the pacing horse. 

I am going once more to Portsmouth to enjoy the dreadful 
though pleasing sight of our mighty navy. The Marines are in 
full exercise to be ready to go on board, and relieve the regiments 
of Foot now at Spithead. 

My duty to my father ; you have both my best wishes and 
I am, dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

On the whole he was having a pleasant and entertaining 

To HIS Father. 

Winchester, 2Qth June, 1755. 

Dear Sir, — I can't get my Colonel back to his Quarters, and 
therefore can't reside, as I should wish to do (for rooting out the 
scurvy), at Southampton. I have tried the Water and the Bath 
by way of experiment, and find that they entirely answer my 
expectations, but I am not able to persevere regularly in the use 
of 'em. 

I have been at Portsmouth lately, and shall go there again 
to-morrow. The Duke is expected : and the show will be most 


magnificent ; it is one of those military scenes that should not be 
neglected. I hope H.R.H. will not be displeased with two or 
three of us for leaving our quarters upon such an extraordinary 

Guiguer invited me to dinner last Thursday ; and I engaged to 
go, if it was in my power ; but business carried me far away — I 
hear he waited dinner for me, which I am grieved at ; may I 
desire the favour of you to make an apology for me, if you see him, 
as probably you will. I would not offend him for any considera- 
tion, as he has treated me with the utmost civility and kindness. 

I have some letters from Braddock^s army, giving a very 
favourable account of the GeneraFs proceedings, and of his 
good behavioui* to the People under his command ; this gives me 
high hopes of his success, if Baron Dieskau does not arrive in 
time, with his succours, to stop the progress of our Arms. 

Our affairs in the East Indies are upon the decline. At the 
expiration of the truce for three months, it is supposed that 
hostilities will be renewed with as much violence as ever. Our 
military concerns are under the guidance of a very poor insigni- 
ficant officer, and the death of Scott (confirmed in these last 
accounts) is an irreparable damage to the Indian Army. 

Bockland's regiment is to disembark soon. Eight hundred 
Marines are ordered to relieve them, 500 from Portsmouth and 
300 from Chatham. 

There are seven or eight and twenty great ships at Spithead, 
fully mann''d with very able seamen. I suppose they wait for news 
from America, before they fall on, and destroy the French fleets. 
In the meanwhile they eat and drink very comfortably, and 
entertain their Friends in a very splendid and sumptuous manner. 
I wish you both all good things, etc.. 

Jam. Wolfe. 

To HIS Father. 

Winchester, 5 July, 1765. 
Dear Sir, — Happily I had not heard a word of my mother^s 
illness till she was much recovered. There is nothing more really 
afflicting to me than any bad account of her health or your's. I 
wish she would, when she is able, persevere in riding, because I 
am persuaded that exercise must relieve her. Sir John Mordaunt 
commends the waters at Buxton as sovereign for rheumatic 
pains. Why should she not try everything that can give her any 
hope, for what is there valuable in life without health ? 


I was at Portsmouth when your letter came to Quarters, or 
should sooner have expressed to you the thanks that are due for 
so many marks of your kindness. I told you some time ago, and 
I repeat it now, that I would accept of no preferment or advance- 
ment in the military way, that should be attended with the least 
risk to you, or my mother. 

There is a description in the newspaper of the magnificent 
military scene that was exhibited at Portsmouth to do honour to 
the Duke, who had great reason to be pleased with his reception, 
and was I believe, highly entertained, if one may judge by the 
looks and expressions of princes. I took the precaution to write 
to Lord Albemarle to know whether it would be agreeable to 
H.R.H. that any of us should be there, and his Lordship's 
answer was quite favourable. And indeed the Duke's civilities to 
me were sufficient proofs, that he did not dislike our coming. 
After the Duke left Portsmouth, Lord Anson gave a great dinner 
to all the sea officers to which he did me the honour to invite 
me and showed me all sort of politeness on board the " Prince." 
Governor Hanley was at his post to receive the Duke, and seems 
to have as much vivacity and spirit as at any time of his life that 
I have any recollection of. As the regt. is to be reviewed by the 
Duke towards the latter end of August, Mr. Honeywood has 
thought it consistent with his duty to be a little with his regt. 
before the review. We expect him in about a week to reside, 
and therefore I go to-morrow back to Southampton, to fix my 
quarters there. 

I am in the neighbourhood of my aunt, Mrs. Burcher and 
would wait upon her, if I knew where she lived. The next letter 
that I receive from Blackheath, will, I hope, direct me in this 
particular, and give me the satisfaction to know at the same time 
that all is well there. 

I beg my duty to my mother and am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam: Wolfe. 

Mrs. Wolfe, who had long been ailing, now wrote him of 
her recovery. 

To HIS Mother. 

Soutliampton, Sunday Ibth July, 1756. 

Dear Madam, — I must write you a short letter (but a very 
sincere one) of congratulation upon the return of your health, or 


rather I fear, upon the present removal of your pains. Would 
to God that what you have felt was to be the last of your suffer- 
ings, and that a future life of peace and ease was to make you 
some amends for the many unpleasant hours that are gone by. 
My wishes for you are truly those of a son for a mother whom 
he has always found kind and indulgent ; for I conclude such 
mothers cannot have sons that wish them otherwise than well. 
My duty to my father, 

I am, dear Madam, 

Your affectionate and obedient son, 

J. Wolfe. 

To HIS Mother. 

Lymington, l^th July, 1755. 
Dear Madam, — I wish I could say anything that could 
comfort you or advise anything that would do you good. By 
gentle exercise and care of yourself I hope your strength will 
return, and with that your spirits. I have gratitude and tender- 
ness enough to be greatly affected at your distress, and though 
grief is not to be sought after, yet I would not for the world but 
partake of all your misfortunes. Would to God that the little 
moment that is allowed us in this life had some ease and peace 
in it, or that we had firmness enough to overcome our ills. I 
know you would be content with a little share of health, and for 
my part, I have nothing to ask but just as much resolution as 
fits a soldier. For riches, honours, possessions, and the dazzling 
advantages of this world, I disregard them ; my utmost desire 
and ambition is to look steadily upon danger, and the greatest 
happiness that I wish for here is to see you happy. Resignation 
to the will and disposition of Heaven is so consistent with piety, 
charity, and a good mind, that I doubt not your thorough 
resignation. Don't let a thought about me disturb you. You 
have done more than I am afraid I deserve. I lament that ever 
I gave you a moment of uneasiness, though, I think, I did not 
mean it, and of that I hope you will be convinced. I wish you 
better health with great sincerity, and beg my duty to my father. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

To Captain Rickson. 

LymingtODj l^th July, 1755. 
My dear Friend, — If I had not been well convinced by 
your letter that you needed not my counsel to guide you, and 


that the steps you were taking were prudent and sensible beyond 
what I could advise, you should have heard from me something 
sooner ; for the public service, and your honour and well-doing, 
are matters of high concern to me. I am sorry that I cannot 
take to myself the merit of having served you upon this occasion. 

1 would have done it if it had been in my power ; but I knew 
nothing of your new employment till Calcraft mentioned it to 
me.^ You are, I believe, so well in the Duke's opinion, that Mr. 
Fox had no difficulty to place you where you are, and where, I 
am fully persuaded^ you will acquit yourself handsomely. To 
study the character of your General, to conform to it, and by 
that means to gain his esteem and confidence, are such judicious 
measures that they cannot fail of good effects. If I am not 
mistaken Lord George ^ is a very even-tempered man, and one 
that will hearken to a reasonable proposal. 

If the French resent the affi:ont put upon them by Mr. 
Boscawen,^ the war will come on hot and sudden ; and they will 
certainly have an eye to the Highlands. Their friends and allies 
in that country were of great use to them in the last war. That 
famous diversion cost us great sums of money and many lives, 
and left the Pays Bas to Saxe's mercy. I am much of your 
opinion, that, without a considerable aid of foreign troops, the 
Highlanders will never stir. I believe their resentments are 
strong, and the spirits of revenge prevalent amongst them ; but 
the risk is too great without help ; however, we ought to be cautious 
and vigilant. We ought to have good store of meal in the forts to 
feed the troops in the winter, in case they be wanted ; plenty of 
intrenching tools and hatchets, for making redoubts and cutting 
palisades, etc. ; and we should be cautious not to expose the 
troops in small parties, dispersed through the Highlands, 
where there is least apprehension of a commotion. A few well- 
chosen posts in the middle of those clans that are the likeliest 

^ John Calcraft^ originally a War Office clerk, was taken up by Henry 
Fox and became immensely rich as an army agent. Afterwards he went over to 
Pitt, in whose confidence he continued for years. Calcraft, although attacked 
by ^'^ Junius " for corrupt practices, is yet believed to have known the identity of 
that writer. When he died, in 1772, worth more than a quarter of a million, 
he left £1000 to Sir Philip Francis and an annuity of £200 to Lady Francis : a 
significant circumstance. 

2 Major-General Lord George Beauclerk, sixth son of the first Duke of 
St. Albans, and Colonel of the 19th Regiment. He died in 1768. 

3 This "affront" was the capture of two French ships, the Alcide and 
the LySj off Cape Breton, carrying the Governor of Louisbourg, and four other 
officers. All were made prisoners and treasure to the value of £30,000 sterling 


to rebel, with a force sufficient to entrench and defend themselves, 
and with positive orders never to surrender to the Highlands 
(though never so numerous), but either to resist in their posts 
till relieved, or force their way through to the forts, would, I 
think, have lively effects. A hundred soldiers, in my mind, are 
an overmatch for five hundred of your Highland militia ; and 
when they are told so in a proper way, they believe it them- 
selves. It will be your business to know the exact strength of 
the rebel clans, and to inquire into the abilities of their leaders, 
especially of those that are abroad. There are people that can 
inform you. There ought to be an engineer at the forts to 
inform the General of what will be wanted for their defence, 
and to give directions for the construction of small redoubts, 
where the General pleases to order them. 

Nobody can say what is to become of us yet. If troops are 
sent to Holland, we expect to be amongst the first. We are 
quartered at Winchester and Southampton, but turned out for 
the assizes. The fleet at Spithead expects orders to sail every 
hour. They are commanded by Sir E. Hawke, who has the 
Admirals Byng and West to assist him. There are about thirty 
great ships, and some frigates ; the finest fleet, I believe, that this 
nation ever put to sea, and excellently well manned. The 
marines embarked yesterday, to the number, I suppose, of about 
1000 men; others will be taken up at Plymouth, if they are 

I lodged with a Mrs. Grant,^ whom perhaps you know. She 
was very careful of me, and very obliging. If you see her, it 
will be doing me a pleasure if you will say that I remember it. 
Do you know Mrs. Forbes, of Culloden ? I have a particular 
respect and esteem for that lady. She showed me a good deal 
of civility while I lay in the North. If you are acquainted, 
pray make my best compliments to her, and let me know how 
she is as to her health. Au reste, you must be so kind to write 
now and then, and I will be punctual to answer, and give 
any intelligence of what is doing where I happen to be. A 
letter, directed to me at General Wolfe's, at Blackheath, Kent, 
will be forwarded to the remotest regions. I am, my dear 

Your affectionate and faithful servant, 

James Wolfe. 

* At Inverness in 1751. 


To HIS Mother. 

Southampton, Aug. 7, 1755. 

Dear Madam, — If Mr. Warde has any secret that can 
relieve you I shall revere his art, and esteem his person,^ but if 
his remedies should not be so successful as I wish I would have 
you persuade the General to go with you to Buxton next year — 
in the meanwhile, as the Bath water is a present relief, why 
should you not have recourse to it for two months in the winter ? 
Horses for ladies are extremely difficult to find. The little 
forest horses are wild and shy, and I am unwilling to purchase 
and recommend a creature of this sort either for Mrs. Cade or 
you : if I hear of any that may be trusted, that are well known, 

1 shall try to get possession of **em, and will send 'em up. 

I want to change your little favourite for Flurry — because I 
think you will be better pleased with this, and the other will be 
more useful to me. 

I am obliged to finish my letter now — being interrupted, I 
heartily wish you better health and am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 
PS. — My duty to my father. 

To Mrs. Wolpk, 

At Lyndhurst in the New Forest, near Southampton, in a 
somewhat secluded abode, dwelt his father''s sister Anne, who had 
married James Burcher,^ formerly possessed of a good fortune, 
but in his declining years become somewhat impoverished. The 
nephew thus describes his visit. 

To HIS Father. 

Southampton, lUh August, 1755. 

Dear Sir, — I paid my respects to Mrs. Burcher a few days 

since, and found a very surprising old gentlewoman. I was 

struck with the resemblance between my uncle Wat and her. 

She has not only all his features, but his manner and way of 

^ Major Warde had offered to give Mrs. Wolfe an infallible remedy for 

2 William Burcher, the son, survived until 1792, and is buried in Lymiug- 
ton churchyard, leaving a son, Edward Wolfe Burcher. His daughter married 
John Ayl ward, Esq., from whom is descended Mr. Alexander Wolfe- Ayl ward, 
well known for his interest in all that pertains to General Wolfe and the 
owner of several relics of interest bequeathed to his ancestor by Mrs. Wolfe. 

From a miniature in the possession of her descendant, A. Wolfe- Ayhcard, Esq. 


talking, and his gestures. She has a healthy florid look, though 
a little paralytic, and is full of grievous complaints. Mr. 
Burcher has the appearance of civility and good-breeding. They 
live in a lonely miserable mansion in the forest, and all about 
has the look of indigence and decay. The poor gentlewoman 
expressed herself in very grateful manner for the kindness and 
support that she has received from you, and seemed a good deal 
affected at the sight of me. You may believe I did not stay 
long there ; but I have promised to see her again before we 
leave this place, if our march is not too sudden. 

I find that some of the troops in our neighbourhood are in 
motion towards the capital; whether we shall follow or march 
elsewhere is to us unknown, but my private sentiments are that 
we shaVt long lie idle. You are nearer to the fountain of 
intelligence than we are, but I believe you take as little pains to 
be informed as your son. I don't think there are two men in the 
kingdom who are at less trouble on that score. I hope my 
mother continues to mend. Mrs. Burcher sent you a buck last 
week, which she hopes you received in good order. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

To HIS Mother. 

Southampton^ 27 Aug., 1755. 

Dear Madam, — Though I hear some unpleasant tidings what 
grieves me most, that you recover but very slowly; that you 
recover at all is some comfort ; if your strength and health 
return as I wish it, you would soon be well. I am afraid it is 
worse with you than I am told, because of late you have not 
been able to write to me. I am sure you would now and then 
give me that satisfaction, if it was in your power. In other 
circumstances and at another time, I would be with you — 
but we may move suddenly as others have done : and it may 
perhaps be our lot to come nearer to you in the course of 

I have heard of a gentlewoman's horse to be sold. He is 
broken-winded, but that is of little consequence to one who 
rides but moderately. Shall I buy him and send him up for 
you or Mrs. Cade ? I beg my duty to my father ; I pray that 
all sort of good may attend you both and am, dear Madam, 
Your obedient and affectionate son, 

Jam: Wolfe. 



To HIS Father. 

Soutliampton, Uh September, 1755. 

Dear Sir, — The accounts of Mr. Braddock's defeat ^ are not 
yet clear enough to form a right judgment of the cause of it ; 
but I do myself believe that the cowardice and ill-behaviour of 
the men far exceeded the ignorance of the chief, who though not 
a master of the difficult art of war, was yet a man of sense and 
courage. I have but a very mean opinion of the Infantry in 
courage. I know their discipline to be bad, and their valour 
precarious. They are easily put into disorder, and hard to 
recover out of it. They frequently kill their officers through fear, 
and murder one another in their confusion. Their shameful 
behaviour in Scotland, at Port L'Orient, at Melle, and upon many 
less important occasions, clearly denoted the extreme ignorance 
of the officers, and the disobedient and dastardly spirit of the men. 

Was there ever such a slaughter of officers as upon this 

expedition ? and did ever the Geneva and p of this country 

operate more shamefully and violently upon the dirty inhabitants 
of it under the denomination of soldiers ? I am sorry to say 
that our method of training and instructing the troops is 
extremely defective, and tends to no good end. We are lazy 
in time of peace, and of course want vigilance and activity 
in war. Our military education is by far the worst in Europe, 
and all our concerns are treated with contempt or totally 
neglected. It will cost us very dear some time hence. I hope 
the day is at a distance, but I am afraid it will come.^ 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

To HIS Father. 

Southampton, 21 Sept., 1755. 

Dear Sir, — Mrs. Abthorp''s death may be reckoned rather 
fortunate than otherwise, since it was hardly probable that she 

1 Braddock was a blustering, peppery officer of the Hawley type, who was 
sent out to drive the French back across the Canadian border. He was 
totally ignorant of American warfare and frontier conditions. He took 
1000 British troops and 1200 Virginian militia into the heart of the wilderness, 
fell into an Indian ambush, and was overtaken by crushing disaster and killed 
together with no fewer than sixty other officers. The infantry, in a panic, 
abandoned arms, baggage and artillery. 

2 Dr- Johnson observed as late as 1773 that '' it is wonderful how very 
ignorant many officers of the army are considering how much leisure they 
have for study and the acquisition of knowledge." He maintained that many 
of them were ignorant of things belonging immediately to their own profession. 
" For instance, many cannot tell how far a musket will carry a bullet." 


would ever recover from the melancholy state she was in, or that 
her natural disposition would correct with her returning judge- 
ment if she did recover.^ 

Two or three of us went to shoot in the neighbourhood 
of Winchester, and killed some game, part of which Capt. 
Maxwell has undertaken to send to Blackheath ; there are 
two cock pheasants, that I think will please you, if they get 
safe and sound — but it must not be told where they came 

Sir John Mordaunt went to London on Thursday to pay 
his duty and make his reports to his Majesty, and that day I 
left Freefolk. 

A French ship from Rochelle came into the harbour at 
Portsmouth, without knowing that there were any hostilities 
between the two nations ; she will furnish matter for a dispute 
between the Governor of Portsmouth and the Naval Commander 
in the harbour. I am exceedingly pleased to hear the further 
success of Mr. Wardens medicine and hope it will have all 
possible good effects. My duty to my mother and constant 
wishes for the welfare and happiness of you both, I am, dear 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

Jam. Wolfe. 

From his next letter we may fix the date of Wolfe's temporary 
abandonment of his white military wig in favour of the hirsute 
adornment with which nature had furnished him. He had 
inherited his red hair from his father, both of whom were probably 
unaware of the association of hair of that colour with genius with 
which the researches of anthropologists have made us in later days 
so familiar. The practice of wearing wigs, not perhaps so universal 
as is supposed (there are notable exceptions) made natural hair, 
especially when short, almost as much of a novelty in a man of 
fashion as a beard. But some even then advocated the abolition 
of wigs on hygienic grounds. Their disuse was certainly a con- 
venience in the country. The letter also once more evinces the son's 
earnest solicitude for his mother's health. 

1 Mrs. Abthorp (Frances Thompson) became a fanatical Methodist, as a 
result of Whitefield's preaching, adopting the most extreme doctrines of 
that sect. Her reason afterwards grew affected, and she had to be placed 
under restraint. 
T 2 


To HIS Mother. 

Southampton, 28 September, VJ56. 

Dear Madam, — I am delighted to hear that your sufferings 
are in some degree lessened ; the presence of your friends will 
become every day more and more agreeable as you acquire 
strength and spirits for society. How happy I feel myself in 
your recovery, and with how much more satisfaction shall I see 
you than formerly, when I almost always found you overloaded 
with misery ! I dare say you were always convinced of my 
affection for you, and of my gratitude. It was not this 
melancholy occasion that gave birth to it, though perhaps it 
brought it more to light. I am fortunate in this respect, and 
my nature requires some extraordinary events to produce itself. 
I want that attention and those assiduous cares that commonly 
go along with good-nature and humanity. In the common 
occurrences of life, I own that I am not seen to advantage. 

You must take care of cold this winter, as the medicine you 
have used is of very powerful operation, and leaves a weakness 
behind it that requires the utmost precautions. When you are 
below in the parlour, the hall-door should always be kept close 
shut, and you must sit upon carpets. There are many fair days 
in October that will invite you out, and you should neglect none 
of them. Prefer that to all other affairs and concerns whatever. 
You must be extremely careful of what rooms you go to play at 
cards in, and where you sit ; and beware of the Assembly. 
Have as many parties at your own house as possible, and go little 

In the middle of winter, if you stay much at home, I will 
come and shut myself up with you for three weeks or a month, 
and play at piquet from morning till night, and you shall 
laugh at my short red hair as much as you please. Fm sure you 
would smile now if you saw me as I am with the covering that 
nature has given me. I intend to devote myself this winter to 
my profession, and shall read without ceasing. If you would 
have me with you for a short while, it must be upon the condition 
that I never stir out of the house after dinner. With that 
indulgence, I shall engage to be at home whenever you are in 
the evening. My mornings are always, as you know, divided 
between exercise and study. I have been very idle all this 
summer, — if a man may venture to say so who has given up much 
of his time to the ladies. If there is to be war, we should be 
prepared for it ; if not, I am entirely at your service. I go back 


tomorrow to Sir J. Mordaunfs for a week, after that I shall 
take up my residence at Winchester. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

To HIS Mother. 

Wincliester_, Sunday, 5 Oct., 1755. 
Dear Madam, — Here is a pad to be sold, that is nimble, 
sure-footed, and very gentle ; if you, or Mrs. Cade would choose 
to have the horse, I shall secui-e him for yom- use, and send him 
to you by the first favourable occasion ; I must desire to have 
your answer soon, because the owner intends to part with his 
horse. I can keep him here till the spring if it be inconvenient 
to have him home in the winter. I would fain have you ride if 
possible. In case we move in the cold season, my cloak will be 
a necessary covering, and thick boots a proper defence — Rymer 
has directions to send a strong pair of boots, and half a dozen 
pair of very strong shoes to Blackheath — the cloak, boots and 
three or four pair of shoes, may be wanted, but I wouldn't have 
them sent till further notice. I left Freefolk the day before 
yesterday to meet the regiment here — we are assembled, to be 
reviewed next week by Sir John Mordaunt, and afterwards, I 
suppose by his Royal Highness the Duke ; our whole military 
business seems to be confined to reviews. I hope you find 
yom-self mending and growing stronger every day ; great enquiry 
was made after you, and great satisfaction expressed for the 
relief that you have found. I wish you both all happiness ; I beg 
my duty to my father and am, dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

To HIS Father. 

Winchester, 19th Oct., 1755. 
Dear Sir, — When two nations have arm'd themselves to the 
highest pitch of their strength, I suppose they will try which is 
strongest. The French are getting their fleet into order and 
threaten an invasion; we equip all our ships and increase our 
Army to oppose ""em. We have begun hostilities both in Europe 
and America : in these circumstances is it to be supposed that a 
war with such a nation as France can be avoided ? I think it 
cannot. In this situation of things, give me leave to recommend 
some precautions to you : — to put no more money into the funds ; 


to keep as much as possible by you, in case of exigencies ; and 
above all things to secure at least <£^100 a year in land, that, 
should the war turn out to our disadvantage, and the publick 
credit sink, my mother may not be in danger of starving. 

Whenever you can sell 3 or 4 thousand pounds of stock upon 
tolerable terms, it would be an act of prudence to do it ; and 
tho' you shou'd not see a farthing of rent from a small landed 
estate, during the war, and shou'd lose the interest of the money 
it cost you, by taking it out of the funds — yet it is a wise 
measure for your family and can have no ill-consequence with 
regard to yourself. Excuse the liberty I have taken ; I do not 
consider myself as anyhow concern''d in it ; but I cannot but be 
apprehensive that the distractions of the publick credit may be 
the consequence of an unlucky war, that of course all those 
persons whose property lies in the funds, must be ruined; 
amongst the rest my mother. Your rank in the army preserves 
you from any danger of want, and my employment is always 
bread ; but neither may outlive the struggle, and then who will 
help the poor lady ? It will be no difficult matter, nor a very 
troublesome undertaking to find a purchase of this small value, 
and it is indifferent when you find it, provided only the right 
be clear. I think it my duty to recommend this step in the 
strongest manner, and not as my own opinion only, but as the 
sentiments of much more knowing persons, and particularly of 
your acquaintance. Sir J. Mordaunt, who advised me to mention 
it to you. 

I wish you both health, etc., 

Jam. Wolfe. 

The whole country rang with cries of invasion, much as it was 
to ring nearly half a century later when the dreaded " Boney " was 
meditating a descent upon English coasts. ^ Men in towns and 
villages, especially in the south of England, were almost in a panic. 
The most extravagant calls were made upon the public spirit of 
the nation, and one patriot announced that he would thence- 
forward abstain from sugar in his tea in order to devote the 
cost to the purchase of bullets for expulsion into French carcases. 
Some of this surely is reflected in Wolfe's next letter to his 

^ It was about this time that Wolfe issued his "Instructions for the 
Twentieth Regiment in case the French should land^" which were afterwards 
widely circulated. 


To HIS Mother. 

Winchester, Friday, 2Ath Oct., 1755. 

Dear Madam, — Before you receive this you will hear that 
some of the troops are in motion towards the coast : if they 
have not better quarters, they will be nearer to business, and in 
readiness to defend the country. I am something at a loss to 
conjecture whether this is a real or a political invasion ; however 
I hope it will end well. My time does not allow me to enquire 
after what I would fain have you secure off, nor does it lye much 
in my way. The lawyers are best informed of these points. 
I should think that Mr. Fisher might hear of such a thing 
amongst his law acquaintance. Perhaps Tim Brett might help 
you, if you were to employ him in such business. Sir J. Mordaunt 
mentioned a very complete little manor of about c£200 a year, 
which must soon be sold, but some of the neighbours have an 
eye to that. I will do my utmost endeavour to find out some- 
thing or other : but we must wait till this cloud is dispersed 
before we think of selling out of the stocks, which at a time like 
this is inconsistent with my father's honour. 

In case of an invasion, I imagine my father will think it his 
duty to be at the head of his regiment, at least as much as his 
strength will allow. Should matters be carried far, and money 
be wanted, he should be the first to offer his plate for the public 
service. He might buy a post-chaise, and hire horses to be in 
readiness ; and if ever he is distressed for quarters, he may be 
sure of mine, or my field-bed in camp. The General should 
show himself at St. James's with a cheerful, willing countenance, 
that the King may see how good a servant he has, and how well 
his inclinations lead him to serve the good old monarch. If ever 
you happen to be distressed, you will find a certain support in 
your son. Be assured that you will know me best when you 
have most occasion for my assistance : but I desire no such proof 
of my disposition. May you both live long in ease and peace ; 
but I fear there are ugly times at hand. Perhaps we may not 
see them. 

To HIS Mother. 

Canterbury, Nov. 5, 1755. 

Dear Madam, — ^The enclosed letter is from Major Donnellan 

to the General ; I have luckily got an old frank that can cover 

it. You sent my things very exactly and at a good time — the 

streets of this town are the dirtiest of all streets — no leather can 


resist the damps, unless doubly fortified sole upon sole. It was 
most obliging in you to give yourself so much trouble ; the letter 
you sent by Maxwell should have come by the post ; don't regard 
the expense, it is sometimes of consequence not to lose a day, 
and if you have not franks scratch out, and write Canterbury, 
because we men of business need dispatch. We have two 
regiments of Foot, and a regiment of dragoons, a crowd of 
officers and soldiers. General Hawley is expected in a few days 
to keep us all in order ; if there is an invasion, they could not 
make use of a more unfit person. The troops dread his severity, 
hate the man, and hold his military knowledge in contempt. 
I wish you both much health. My duty to my father. 
I am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

Jam : Wolfe. 

Wolfe has been often spoken of as a man only too conscious of 
his merit. In truth few men were more modest, as the following 

To HIS Mother. 

Canterbury, Qth November, 1755. 

Dear Madam, — ^The officers of the army in general are 
persons of so little application to business and have been so ill 
educated, that it must not surprise you to hear that a man of 
common industry is in reputation amongst them. I reckon it 
a very great misfortune to this country that I, your son, who 
have, I know, but a very modest capacity, and some degree of 
diligence a little above the ordinary run, should be thought, as 
I generally am, one of the best officers of my rank in the service. 
I am not at all vain of the distinction. The comparison would 
do a man of genius very little honour, and does not illustrate 
me, by any means ; and the consequence will be very fatal to 
me in the end, for as I rise in rank people will expect some 
considerable performances, and I shall be induced, in support of 
an ill-got reputation, to be lavish of my life, and shall probably 
meet that fate which is the ordinary effect of such conduct. 

You have made yourself believe (perhaps it is to excuse your 
indolence) that you don*'t write well. But you sha'n't make me 
believe any such thing ; or, if it was so, which is not really the 
case, you should remember that you are writing to your son, 
who is your friend, knows the many good qualities of your mind. 


and loves you. The Duke of Marlborough has been very civil 
to us all, and very particularly so to me ; he goes to town 
to-morrow for a short stay.^ I hope the French have not some 
mischief in their heads ; but it can't reach you. If the General 
means to show himself, he should remember my former scheme 
for him. I have made some inquiry for a little purchase for 
you, but can't hear of anything fit for our purpose ; and they 
are particularly high in their demands in this country, because 
of the exclusive privileges of a man of Kent who is a freeholder.^ 
I wish it had been thought of two years ago. You may remember 
that I hinted it, and foretold that a war was not far oiF. 

The letter you sent, came, as you guessed, from Goldsmith. 
I writ to him by the Duke's directions to enquire after an 
officer's widow in Ireland, who, he was told, had a son fit to 
serve, and his Royal Highness, who is for ever doing noble and 
generous actions, wanted to provide for that child. The father 
was killed at Fontenoy. If I don't keep a good watch on myself 
I must be a little vain, for the Duke has of late given me such 
particular marks of his esteem and confidence that I am ashamed 
not to deserve it better. We expect the Duke of Richmond 
next week, and Lord Albemarle. The Earl comes to introduce 
his cousin to the regiment,^ the Duke to do duty at quarters. 
That young man will make a considerable figure in our way, 
because he loves it, and has a strong understanding. 

His father's Lieutenant-Colonel absented himself from the 
regiment, and we find Wolfe interceding for him. 

To HIS Father. 

Canterbury, l^th Nov.^ 1755. 

Dear Sir, — I find that poor Lafausille has been extremely 

out of order. Nothing but the worst health in the world would, 

I am persuaded, have taken him away at this time. I mention 

this, because I remember that a sharp expression or two fell 

1 Charles Spencer, fifth Earl of Sunderland and second Duke of Marl- 
boroughj grandson of the first Duke. He died of a fever^ a Lieutenant-General, 
at Munster in 1758. 

2 The cause of the peculiar privileges of a man of Kent is explained in 
that ''the said country was not conquered with the rest of the kingdom, 
but surrendered itself up to the Conqueror by a peace made with him, saving 
to itself all liberties and free customs before that time had and used." — See 
Hasted's Kent. 

3 The Duke of Richmond obtained a captaincy in the regiment under Wolfe, 
and his Grace's example was followed by the Marquis of Blandford.—- Wright. 


from me upon the score of my old acquaintance ; and when one 
has done a man injustice, but in thought, the quickest and best 
reparation should be made. 

I hear that the French are hard at work in cleaning the 
harbour of Dunkirk, and that they have got a good number of 
ships in that port. The English will never bear to have that 
harbour in its former condition ; that alone is matter enough 
for a quarrel between the nations, already far advanced towards 
war. We send a detachment to-morrow to escort our battalion 
guns (two for each regiment) from Rochester. Our camps 
necessaries will be with us in a few days. We are commanded 
to exercise as often as is convenient, that is, as often as the 
weather will permit. I am vastly distressed for a groom, or, 
rather, for a servant, who can take care of two horses for £1 or 
£S a year, and seven shillings a week board wages. If my 
mother hears of any such person I beg to have notice, and I beg 
she will employ somebody to enquire. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

One may incidentally observe that grooms"' wages have risen 
to a somewhat higher figure in the past century and half ! 

To HTs Mother. 

Canterbury^ Sunday, 16 Nov.^ 1755. 
Dear Madam, — Lord Albemarle, who knew my distress, has, 
in his great goodness, sent me a groom, who was well recom- 
mended to him ; the early knowledge of this may save you some 
trouble, and therefore I mention it. 

Just so much of your letter was written when the drum 
major brought me yours. If I was not already provided I should 
readily accept the services of your footman John, especially as I 
have no maids to make work for and want no other qualities 
than sobriety and care of my horses — this includes a little 
honesty which one can't well do without. 

I am highly obliged to you for the steps you have taken in 
this affair, they are of a piece with your constant practice in 
regard to me and I am sometimes glad that I have need of your 
assistance for the pleasure of receiving it. My duty to my 
father. I wish you both very well, and am, dear Madam, 
Your obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam. Wolfe. 


To HIS Mother. 

Canterbury, 2nd December, 1755. 

Dear Madam, — I hear of you almost every day, which 
makes me some amends for the profound silence that reigns 
throughout the whole house. Donnellan tells you all the news 
of this place, and yet I believe his letters are short ; however, 
better so than lists of killed and wounded, or the progress of 
the French arms in Kent. They are extremely concerned that 
Admiral Smith is so posted as to make their attempts to land a 
little dangerous. They do not, I am sorry to say, discover the 
same degree of respect for us ; on the contrary, they wish for 
nothing so much as to be quietly on shore, and then to make 
a trial of our force. We have the name of the Duke of Marl- 
borough to oppose to them, and some incomparable battalions, 
the like of which cannot. 111 venture to say, be found in any 
army. We are about as merry, as easy, and as indifferent as 
you may be supposed to be who sleep in security under our 
watch. Nobody seems to think that the French have either 
will, power, or inclination to resent the affronts put upon them ; 
and some, I believe, doubt whether they are really out of 
humour with us or not. This melancholy distruction of the city 
of Lisbon ^ is a great blow, though at a distance. Long may 
such disasters be far off from us. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

But the Duke of Cumberland's popularity had not long to 
survive, nor his period of usefulness. A time was close at hand 
when his military proficiency would be put to a severe test, 
when he would be forced to return home a beaten man, to 
resign the command of the army he had assumed at a period 
of life — too early for him to have mastered by beneficial degrees 
the difficult art of war. His acumen in discovering and his 
generosity in rewarding the talents of Wolfe deserve our gratitude. 
In his renewed intimacy with Cumberland, Wolfe seems to have 
reverted to the project which General Mordaunt had formerly 
mooted : of his father's surrendering the Colonelcy of Wolfe's in 
his favour on condition of securing him an annuity. But he 
wanted the Duke's promise that if he fell leading Wolfe's into 
action the command should revert to his father. 

1 The great earthquake, November 1, 1755. 


To HIS Mother. 

Canterbury, 27 Dec, 1755. 
Dear Madam, — ^The great personages that honour us with 
their presence are so well entitled to a considerable part of our 
time that a man has but a minute for his own little concerns. 
Mine shall be employed to thank you for a very kind letter, 
which I received yesterday and to assure you that all possible 
regard shall be had to your admonitions. I would not have 
you write with pain to yourself, but I am always extremely 
pleased to hear from you, when it is easy to you to write. We 
have had strange, tempestuous, unwholesome weather, and we 
are so crowded together that I have been apprehensive of ill 
consequences from the moisture of the air and open weather ; 
but hitherto we are pretty healthy. Do you know of any young 
gentleman that you would wish to see an ensign ? any relation 
or friend's relation ? I believe I could get such a matter done 
for you at this time. The letter you sent me came from the 
widow of a poor officer who was killed at Fontenoy ; she has 
a son fit to serve ; and Lord Albemarle has undertaken to get 
him a pair of Colours. I met with her by accident on my 
journey through Ireland, so you see I did not go there for 
nothing ! 

The Duke''s particular civilities to me gave birth, I imagine, 
to the report Blaquiere spoke of to my father ; but you see 
it was without foundation. I knew very well that I should not 
get a regiment, but I did not know that anybody had thought 
of me in that light till I received your letter. I have no 
prospect of preferment ; nor no right to expect it in the common 
course ; but if I knew how to secure =£^500 a year to my father 
in case he should give me his regiment and I miscarry, I 
believe I could manage to get it done. If the Duke would say 
that he should have his Regiment again, in case I fell at the 
head of it, or .£^500 a year from my successor, — would the 
General in that case consent to part with it, taking the sale of 
the Lieutenant-Coloners commission for his use ? You must 
take the trouble to ask that question, and let me know my 
father's answer. I wish you both much health, 

and am. Dear Madam, etc.. 

Jam. Wolfe. 

His offer to procure an ensigncy was instantly seized upon by 
Mrs. Wolfe in favour of young James Adeane, Mrs. Inwood's nephew. 


To HIS Mother. 

Canterbury, Jan. 5, 1756. 

Dear Madam, — The very moment I received your letter I 
wrote to my friend Lord Albemarle to recommend little Adeane. 
The only obstacle that stands in his way is his youth, a difficulty 
that I hope his Lordship will be able to overcome. However we 
are not to be quite sure of success, and the disappointment if we 
should miscarry, will be so much the less ; I wish the recom- 
mendation may take place because I know it gives you a 
particular pleasure to serve your friends. 

God send you better health. My duty to my father. 
I am dear madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

Jam. Wolfe. 

To HIS Mother. 

Canterbury, 19 Jan., 1756. 
Dear Madam, — My Lord Albemarle wrote me word in 
answer to my letter about little Adeane, that he was afraid the 
commissions were all filled up ; I shall send you his letter upon 
that subject. I wrote to him a second time but have as yet 
received no answer. I want to know exactly how old he is, and 
how tall, and whether the mother would choose to purchase a 
Cornetcy of light Dragoons or heavy Dragoons ; in case the 
other fails, or whether she cares to purchase at all for her son. 
Pray tell the General that I shall take no steps in the affair I 
proposed to him, because I think the risk grows every day 
greater, at least I would do nothing but with certainty and 
security to him. 

I beg my duty and am, dear Madam, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son, 

Jam. Wolfe. 

To HIS Mother. 

Canterbury, Feb. 7, 1756. 
Dear Madam, — I must explain to you that my kinsman (as 
Lord Albemarle calls him) is no other than Mr. Brad 
Thompson's nephew, who should have come into Colonel 
Honeywood's regiment, and would now have been the third 
lieutenant, whereas he is at present the youngest in the Fusiliers. 
I likewise must explain to you that Lord Albemarle supposes 
Mrs. Adeane's compliance with her son's military rage, to be 


forced ; and that she solicits an enquiry because she can't help 
herself. My Lord, you see, promises in the handsomest manner, 
and he will surely keep his word. In the meanwhile, Mrs. 
Adeane should keep her son to his study, and if possible give 
him a little mathematical learning ; upon which foundation 
he may best hope and expect to rise. You may keep Lord 
Albemarle''s letter till I have the pleasure of seeing you, which I 
believe will be some time next week. Maxwell and I shall beg a 
dinner on our way to London, where my private affairs oblige 
me to go ; and I hope to pass the next day, or the day follow- 
ing at Blackheath on my way back to quarters ; and I don't 
mean to have it known in London that I am there. My duty to 
my father — I wish you both all happiness, and am, dear Madam, 
Your most affectionate and obedient son, 

Jam. Wolfe. 

PS. — Now our Colonel's seat in Parliament is secure we may 
hope to get franks. 

Wolfe had been fond of his uncle, Bradwardine Thompson, who 
had long been suffering from a mortal illness, one moreover which 
injured his intellect. He had never neglected to write or pay him 
a visit when he was in the neighbourhood of York. But the news 
of his death affected the nephew with a sense of relief. He had 
none of that aversion to mortality that many of us have. He 
always spoke of it dispassionately, as if a long contemplation both 
in connection with his calling and in his own weakly person had 
robbed death of its terrors. 

To HIS Mother. 

Canterbury, Feh. 20, 175G. 

Dear Madam, — I can't say I am sorry for my poor uncle's 

death, otherwise than as it is a matter of concern to you, which 

I hope will not be more lasting than the cause seems to demand. 

The Duke's coming here will determine my going to town. 

I shall want nothing but a suit of black clothes and fringed 

ruffles, those I have already (I mean the muslin ones) should be 

lessened in their depth — and two or three more pairs bespoke of 

a proper size. Will you take the trouble to do this business for 

me, and I shall thank you .? My duty to my father. I am always, 

My dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam : Wolfe. 


To HIS Father. 

Canterbury, Sunday, March 21, 1756. 

Dear Sir, — I am sorry to hear that my servant's mistake 
was the occasion of some trouble to you ; half the inconveniences 
of life arise from their absurdities. I know he has too much 
respect for you to intend the least disorder in your house ; but 
his conduct like the most of them, is a succession of errors. My 
mother mentioned your having settled with Capt. Scott, which, 
at this time, was undoubtedly a prudent step ; there are other 
precautions to be taken, which the state of public affairs, and 
your judgement upon these matters will naturally point out. 

I hear with pleasure today, that my friend Amherst^ has 
got a regiment ; nobody deserves the King's favour better than 
that man. 

There are 15 or 16 Swiss officers with 30 sergeants quartered 
at Dover ready to embark for America. They have people 
employed in Switzerland and Germany to recruit, and I believe 
they have been pretty successful. These recruiting officers and 
their men are to be sent over in a second embarkation. The 
Guards got into Dover Castle about 5 yesterday in the after- 
noon, after a long fatiguing march. They comfort themselves 
with the hopes of being soon recalled. I wish you all manner of 

My duty to my mother. 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam: Wolfe. 

To HIS Mother. 

Canterbury, April 4, 1756. 
Dear Madam, — Though I have nothing to communicate, 
nor anything to offer you but my good wishes, still as you 
desire I write. The fine season will call us all to business and 
leave no excuse or pretence for the lazy and indolent to indulge 
their dispositions. Would you believe that there are many who 
call themselves soldiers, who, to excuse their shameful idleness, 

1 Jeffrey Amherst, born at Riverhead, Kent, in 1717, was early taken into 
the service of the Duke of Dorset at Knole as page. He showed ability, was 
educated at the Duke's expense and a commission obtained for him in the 
army. Riverhead is only about four miles from Westerham, but as Amherst 
was ten years Wolfe's junior they doubtless never met until Wolfe was in the 


cry out that they believe there will be no war — no Invasion — 
and so act, as if they were persuaded of the truth of it. Our 
Major will call upon you to ask how you are and to take a 
sword out of a little deal box, which you will be pleased to 
order to be shut up again, when he has provided himself with a 

Mrs. Beckwith has got another child, so that he is now the 
father of four sons and I have not one ! 

My duty to the General, 

I am dear Madam, etc. etc. 

J. Wolfe. 

To HIS Father. 

Canterbury^ 17 April, 1756. 

Dear Sir, — I do not know how to press for favours that 
have been promised ; it is with difficulty that I can bring myself 
to ask, and still more difficult to repeat the request. Mrs. 
Adeane must remember that when I mentioned this affair first, 
the vacancies were not filled up, and then it was easy for Lord 
Albemarle to oblige me ; you have seen his Lordship''s letter, 
his reasons for not doing it, as well as his assurance that it shall 
be done. The boy is very young, a year more of the school will 
be time well spent. As the delay is a disappointment to Mrs. 
Adeane I am sorry for it, but if she is not satisfied with our 
disinterested good endeavours to serve her, I think she may be 
called unreasonable.^ 

These two unfortunate Ensigns will be proceeded against 
in common course of Law ; one or both of them will be 
condemned and unless their youth and condition when they 
committed this ill action, pleads in their favour, they must 
pay the forfeit of their lives ; but till the law has taken place, 
and his Majesty's pleasure is known, I believe they will still be 

When I see Lord Albemarle I will take the freedom to 
remind him of his intended kindness, and I hope some time or 
other to succeed. I rejoice mightily at my mother's better state 

1 James Whorwood, son of Simon Adeane, Esq., of Chalgrove, Oxford- 
shire, and Mary, third daughter of the Hon. and Rev. Henry Brydges (sister 
to Mrs. In wood and Miss Brydges). In 17B8 he was appointed to the 
Colonelcy of the 45th Regiment, and became a Lieutenant-General. He was 
a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to George III, M.P. for the county of 
Cambridge, and died in 1802. — Wright. 


of health, and wish her and you all happiness. My duty 
to her. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Yoiu: most obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam: Wolfe. 

PS. — I have got a famous receipt for the gout and another 
for the rheumatism which I will send you. 

The story alluded to by Wolfe caused a great sensation at the 
time. Two reckless young subalterns of Lord Charles Hay's 
regiment, stationed at Dartford, were travelling to the capital 
in a post-chaise. They had been drinking deeply, professed to 
be in a tremendous hurry and kept the horses at such a pace 
that the post-boy was at his wifs end. Both used the most 
profane language towards the poor lad. At Shooter's Hill, pro- 
testing the animals were fatigued, he allowed the pace to slacken, 
whereupon Ensign Brown jumped out of the chaise and knocked 
him down. This was followed up by Ensign Lauder's drawing his 
sword and running it through the post-boy's recumbent body. 
After this gallant achievement both were apprehended and tried 
for their lives at Rochester. Lauder was found guilty and three 
days later was hanged on Penenden Heath. Outrages of this 
kind naturally tended greatly to lower the military character in 
the eyes of the multitude. tJnluckily they were of no infrequent 
occurrence, several cases of assault and seduction by officers hap- 
pening within a comparatively short space of time. 



All winter had Wolfe been stationed at Canterbury. An 
old resident remembered him as a regular attendant at the Cathedral 
services, and his straight martial figure, " lean as a greyhound,*" 
came to be familiar to all the inhabitants of the ancient Cathedral 
city. It was May-time in Kent, and the orchards were loaded with 
blossom, when orders at last arrived for the regiment to march 
away from Wolfe'*s native county into Wiltshire. 

To HIS Mother. 

Canterbury, May 12th, 1756. 

Dear Madam, — John tells me that you mentioned my not 
having writ to you. As I sent him to London he could give 
you intelligence, and as he had directions to enquire concerning 
your health, I concluded it was unnecessary to trouble you with 
letters. He says you were both pretty well when he left you, 
which I rejoice at most sincerely. 

The regt. that has lain awhile at Dover marched veiy 
suddenly towards Portsmouth along the coast. I conclude they 
are to embark on board the fleet. We suppose that one of the 
other regiments here will be sent to Dover. In the mean- 
while Donnellan has marched with 200 men to guard the 
castle, and carry on the works there. All notions of peace are 
now at an end. The most discerning people of the country have 
long been of opinion that a war would be the certain consequence 
of the steps that have been taken by us, in return for the attempts 
made by the French. 

The embargo laid upon the shipping, the violent press for 
seamen, and the putting soldiers on board of our fleet, makes me 
conclude that the maritime strength of our enemy is by no means 
contemptible ; and as we are open to assaults in almost every part 
of the King's dominions, both here and in America, I am much 
of opinion that the enemy's first attack will be vigorous and 
successful. We must, however, hope that fortune will favour us, 
since we do our best to deserve her smiles. 



You have always my good wishes. I beg my duty to my 
father and am, dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

War had not been declared, but England was momentarily 
expecting France to strike fii-st by a landing on her shores, when 
news flew from lip to lip that Minorca had fallen. It appeared 
that a French fleet had appeared off* the island which, owing to 
lack of all precaution to save it as well as the arrant incapacity, to 
say the least, of Admiral Byng, fell an easy prey. The cup w^as 
now full : no longer could the absui'd pretence of peace be main- 
tained, and on the 18th of May, 1756, the famous Seven Years' 
War began. 

Never did a more incapable administration hold the reins of 
power in England. Nothing was ready, nothing was known of how 
to get things ready. There was no general, neither was there any 
admiral in whom the country reposed the slightest confidence. 

Both officers and men had hoped that when they moved 
from Canterbury it would be to embark for foreign parts. For 
war was declared — two days before the regiment marched. 

To HIS Mother. 

Canterbury, May 2Qth, 1756. 

Dear Madam, — We go nearer to Blackheath than Wester- 
ham so that I can''t take my square trunk and hatbox with me ; 
but you will be so good to order them to be delivered to one 
Grassy, who is hired to serve me instead of an unhealthy groom, 
that I am forced to dismiss ; he will convey them from Greenwich 
to London by water, and from thence to Newbury, or to the 
Devizes (where our route ends) in the waggon or stage coach. I 
am Sony to be so troublesome to you, and still more concerned 
that I am not likely to have the satisfaction of seeing you again 
for some time. The first division of our Regiment marched 
yesterday, and the second and last moves tomorrow under the 
Lieut. -ColoneFs command. You can't imagine how many heavy 
hearts there are, mine (although not altogether insensible) is the 
least oppressed of a score. I wish you both all happiness, and am 
with my duty to my Father, dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son, 

James Wolfe. 
To Mrs. WolfEj 

U 2 


He had hoped to call upon his parents, but though baulked 
of this, managed to spend a few hours at Squerryes Court, where 
he was always a welcome visitor. 

To HIS Mother. 

Basingstoke^ June Istj 1756. 

Dear Madam, — In our march we have met with nothing 
extraordinary except the Hessian Grenadiers, whom we saw at 
exercise yesterday near Farnham. We have ruined half the 
public houses upon the march, because they have quartered us 
in villages too poor to feed us without destruction to themselves. 
I saw Mr. and Mrs. Warde at Westerham ; they asked much 
after you and the General, and presented their compliments. 
The Lisbon mail is arrived, so you may expect some account of 
the seige of Fort St. Philips, and of Admiral Byng*'s feats in the 
Mediterranean. If things take a bad turn, and by our manage- 
ment I don't know what other to expect this war may rout the 
funds and destroy our public credit root and branch. 

For a full fortnight the troops marched. A halt at Basingstoke 
was made on the 1st of June, whence Wolfe dispatched a letter 
to his mother, which evinces the keen interest he was taking in 
the development of the war. 

To HIS Father. 

Bristol, 1th June, 1766. 

Dear Sir, — As I believe that all the infantry of this nation 
is not sufficient to retake the Island of Minorca (by this time in the 
hands of the French), and as six or seven battalions may be 
thought enough for the defence of Gibraltar, — the Spaniards not 
interfering, — I conclude we shall lie quiet in our west-country camp 
or quarters till the enemy thinks to alarm us a second time with 
design to strike some fatal distant blow, either upon our islands or 
upon the Continent of North America, or perhaps to complete the 
ruin of the East Indies. Are the measures taken for the relief 
of Minorca, or the proceedings of our Admiral, to be most 
admired ? I shall be of your opinion hereafter, that we must 
have the odds of five to four to secure our success at sea. I 
flatter myself that the poor little abandoned garrison of St. 
Philips will do courageously at least, — wisely and skilfully I do 
not expect ; and that the troops in the course of the war will do 
nothing dishonourable, not betray their country. 

I am, dear Sir, etc. 


COLONEL Wolfe's quarters at devizes (on lkft) 


To HIS Father. 

Devizes, 21th June, 1756. 

Dear Sir, — I wish you joy of Admiral B3mg''s escape, and of 
the safe arrival of our fleet at Gibraltar. General Blakeney has 
no great obligations to the Navy upon this occasion. They have 
left him in an ugly scrape, out of which, I am persuaded, he will 
only be delivered by a cannon-shot. The project of succouring 
Minorca, and the execution of the great design, went hand-in-hand 
successfully, and may probably end in a disgraceful peace. You 
are happy in your infirmity, for 'tis a disgrace to act in these 
dishonourable times. Our new Colonel is expected to-day ; his 
presence makes me a very idle man. 

I am, etc. 

The new Colonel was William Kingsley, who long gave his 
name to the Twentieth, and commanded at Minden. He died in 
1 769, a Lieutenant-General. 

At Devizes Wolfe secured lodgings at a quiet inn to which he 
had been recommended, preferring it to possible harassments such 
as had attended his quarters at Canterbury, and especially as he 
hoped and believed his stay in Devizes would be brief. The inn — 
now no longer an inn — is still pointed out after the lapse of a 
century and a half, at the back of the town hall.^ The regiment 
and its colonel, probably in view of the national posture of affairs, 
probably made a deeper impression on the townsfolk than they 
would ordinarily have done. For a royal proclamation was posted 
up calling for recruits to serve their country against England's 
hereditary enemy, against whom war had been declared. For a 
time the Lieutenant-Colonel did a good business in recruiting. 
His health was anything but good at Devizes, but he kept up 
his spirits in his home letters. He speaks playfully of his old 
friend. Lady Grey, the widow of Sir Henry Grey of Howick, 
whose youngest son was in Wolfe's regiment, and who took the 
deepest interest in the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel. It deserves 
to be mentioned that Charles Grey, Wolfe's young fellow-officer, 
who afterwards expressed what he owed to his superior officer, rose 
to be a General, and died Earl Grey of Howick, father of the 
celebrated statesman who carried the Reform Bill in 1832. 

^ The present Mayor of Devizes (1909) writes me that the house has a 
double interest, in that here, Gibbon, the historian, lodged, when manoeuvring 
with his regiment of Militia in 1761-2. 


To HIS Mother. 

Devizes, 10^^ July, 1756. 

Dear Madam, — The demand you make for my receipts looks 
as if you wanted them for your own use ; I rather hope they are 
for your friends, knowing that you take as much care of them as 
of yourself. I have distinguished the receipts to do justice to 
both my old ladies. I have heard of my Lady Grey very lately ; 
she sent me her compliments, and, what was more (as she ex- 
pressed it), her love. You see, I have the art of preserving the 
affections of my mistresses, and I may be vain of these conquests 
without offence, or danger to my reputation. 

The King of Prussia (God bless him !) is our only ally, and 
we are solely obliged to the Duchy of Silesia for his friendship. 
I am sorry that they don't all unite against us, that our strength 
might be fully exerted and our force known. I myself believe 
that we are a match for the combined fleets of Europe, especi- 
ally if our admirals and generals were all of the same spirit. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

To HIS Father. 

Devizes, Vjth July, 1756. 

Dear Sir, — I am informed by a politician of this country 
that the loss of the Island of Minorca will not influence the 
Spanish court, nor engage them in a war against us. I wish my 
acquaintance may have good intelligence, and that the Spaniards 
may not be tempted by the cession of that island to become our 
enemies. But my own opinion is that they will, and the seige 
of Gibraltar by sea and land, with the combined fleets, will be 
the first consequence of that formidable union ; in which, how- 
ever, I am fully persuaded they will miscarry ; provided always 
that the Lord Baron of Tyrawley, your neighbour,^ takes care to 
have three months'* provisions for eight or ten battalions, and 
100 pieces of cannon towards the sea, and thirty or forty mortars 
with very large mouths, by way of sinking the " Foudroyant "" 
and the " Real '"* if they venture too near. 

Mr. Bjrng has been a tedious time beating up to Minorca. 
These delays either by wind or inclination, are fatal to us, 
because Sir Edward Hawke can hardly arrive in time to prevent 
the French admiral from taking away a part of the Duke of 

^ Tyrawley was Fowke's successor as Governor of Gibraltar. He lived at 
Blackheath, and was something of a wit. 


Richelieu"'s army, and escorting them safe to Toulon. So, upon 
summing up the whole of our conduct in this affair, both as to 
the project and execution, it does appear to me that we are the 
most egregious blunderers in war that ever took the hatchet in 
hand. But what makes me laugh is our extravagant fears of 
an invasion at a time when it is absolutely absurd and almost 
impossible, unless we are to suppose that the Danish fleet is 
coming out of the Baltic on purpose to escort ten or twelve 
French battalions to England. 

I am, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

No more signal proof of Wolfe's fame at this period, even 
though he was but thirty, and a simple Lieutenant-Colonel in rank, 
can be afforded than by the manner in which his counsel was con- 
stantly being sought by young members of the military profession, 
animated by the new zeal for efficiency that Wolfe, more than any 
other man save Chatham in his epoch, was to render fashionable. 
One of the letters he addressed to such has been preserved. The 
applicant was no obscure person, but the future Lord Sydney, 
whose father, Thomas Townshend, held an important post in the 
Government. Townshend's young brother, Henry Townshend,'* 
was desirous of entering the army. It will be noted that Wolfe 
refers to a previous letter having been addressed to a young officer 
named Cornwallis. This subaltern of a year's standing was 
destined to become the famous Marquis Cornwallis, a far abler 
man than his ill-fortunes in America a quarter of a century later 
would seem to show. Cornwallis was another soldier who never 
forgot the early influence of the Conqueror of Quebec. 

To Thomas Townshend. 

Devizes, Sunday, \^th July, 1756. 
Dear Sir, — You cannot find me a more agreeable employ- 
ment than to serve and oblige you, and I wish with all my heart 
that my inclinations and abilities were of equal force. I do not 
recollect what it was that I recommended to Mr. Comwallis's . 
nephew : it might be the Comte de Turpin's book,^ which is I 
certainly worth looking into, as it contains a good deal of ' 
plain practice. Your brother, no doubt, is master of the Latin 
and French languages, and has some knowledge of the mathe- 

1 Essai sur VArt de la Guerre^ Paris, 1754. 


matics ; without the last he can never become acquainted with 
one considerable branch of our business, the construction of 
fortification and the attack and defence of places ; and I would 
advise him by all means to give up a year or two of his time 
now while he is young, if he has not already done it, to the 
study of the mathematics, because it will greatly facilitate his 
progress in military matters. 

As to the books that are fittest for this purpose, he may 
begin with the "King of Prussia's Regulations for his Horse 
and Foot," where the economy and good order of an army in the 
lower branches are extremely well established. Then there are 
the " Memoirs '"* of the Marquis de Santa Cruz, Feuquieres, and 
Montecucculi ; Folard's " Commentaries upon Polybius " ; the 
" Projet de Tactique " ; " L'Attaque et la Defense des Places,'''* 
par le Marechal de Vauban ; " Les Memoires de Goulon " ; 
" Klngenieur de Campagne.**' Le Sieur Renie for all that 
concerns artillery. Of the ancients, Vegetius, Caesar, Thucy- 
dides, Xenophon's " Life of Cyrus,'*' and " Retreat of the Ten 
Thousand Greeks.'''' I do not mention Polybius, because the 
Commentaries and the History naturally go together. Of later 
days, Davila, Guicciardini, Strada, and the "Memoirs of the 
Due de Sully.'*'' There is an abundance of military knowledge to 
be picked out of the lives of Gustavus Adolphus and Charles XH, 
King of Sweden, and of Zisca the Bohemian ; and if a tolerable 
account could be got of the exploits of Scanderbeg, it would be 
inestimable ; for he excels all the officers, ancient and modern, 
in the conduct of a small defensive army. I met with him in 
the Turkish History, but nowhere else.^ The "Life of Sueto- 
nius,'" too, contains many fine things in this way. There is a 
book lately published that I have heard commended, " L''Art de 
la Guerre Pratique '" — I suppose it is collected from all the best 
authors that treat of war ; and there is a little volume, entitled 
" Traite de la Petite Guerre,''' that your brother should take in 

^ Jolin de Trocznow, whose military abilites are acknowledged by all 
historians of his times, rendered himself famous in the religious wars of 
Germany, in the fifteenth century. He received the sobriquet of Zisca, or 
" one-eyed," from having in his youth lost an eye in battle. He died of the 

Elague in 1424. Zisca has been ranked amongst the Reformers, and a life of 
im, as such, by W. Gilpin, was published in 1765. 
George Castriot, son of an Albanian prince, was born in 1404, and sent as 
a hostage to the court of Sultan Amurath II, where he was educated in the 
Mahometan faith. Owing to his strength and courage, he was given the name 
of Alexander (in Turkish, Scander), which was accompanied with the title of 
Bey, or Beg. 


his pocket when he goes upon out-duty and detachments. The 
Mareshal de Puysegur's book, too, is in esteem. 

I believe Mr. Townshend will think this catalogue long 
enough ; and if he has patience to read, and desire to apply (as 
I am persuaded he has), the knowledge contained in them, there 
is also wherewithal to make him a considerable person in his 
profession, and of course very useful and serviceable to his 
country. In general, the lives of all great commanders, and all 
good histories of warlike nations, will be instructive, and lead 
him naturally to endeavour to imitate what he must necessarily 
approve of. In these days of scarcity, and in these unlucky 
times, it is much to be wished that all our young soldiers of 
birth and education would follow your brother s steps, and, as 
they will have their turn to command, that they would try to 
make themselves fit for the important trust ; without it we must 
sink under the superior abilities and indefatigable industry of 
our restless neighbours. You have drawn a longer letter upon 
yourself than perhaps you expected ; but I could hardly make it 
shorter, without doing wrong to a good author. In what a 
strange manner have we conducted our affairs in the Mediter- 
ranean ! Quelle belle occasion Trmnqxde. 
I am, with perfect esteem, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and most humble servant. 

Jam. Wolfe. 

It only remains to be added that Townshend attained the rank 
of Colonel, and was killed in battle, June 1762. " The favourite 
of the whole army,"" wrote Collins, and even Walpole gives him high 

There is extant still another letter from Wolfe at this time, 
conveying friendly coimsel to a subaltern. It was addressed to 
Hugh Lord, a nephew of Rickson'*s.^ 

To Hugh Lord. 

Dear Huty, — By a letter from my mother, I find you are 
now an officer in Lord Chas. Hay'*s Regiment, which I heartily 
give you joy of, and, as I sincerely wish you success in life, you 
will give me leave to give you a few hints which may be of use 
to you in it. The field you are going into is quite new to you, 

1 This letter is now in the possession of Mr. Charles Dalton. It has the 
water-mark which all Wolfe's letters to his friend, Major Rickson, bear. An 
account of this water-mark is given by Mr. Dalton in the Journal of the Royal 
United Service Institution for December, 1902. 


but may be trod very safely, and soon made known to you, if 
you only get into it by the proper entrance. 

I make no doubt but you have entirely laid aside the boy 
and all boyish amusements, and have considered yourself as a 
young man going into a manly profession, where you must be 
answerable for your own conduct ; your character in life must be 
that of a soldier and a gentleman ; the first is to be acquired by 
application and attendance on your duty ; the second by adhering 
most strictly to the dictates of honour, and the rules of good 
breeding ; and be most particular in each of these points when 
you join your Regiment ; if there are any officers'' guard mounted, 
be sure constantly to attend the parade, observe carefully the 
manner of the officers taking their posts, the exercise of their 
espontoon, etc. ; when the guard is marched off from the parade, 
attend it to the place of relief, and observe the manner and form 
of relieving, and when you return to your chamber (which should 

(be as soon as you could, lest what you saw slip out of your 
memory), consult Bland's Military Discipline'^ on that head; 
this will be the readiest method of learning this part of your 
duty, which is what you will be the soonest called on to perform. 
When off duty get a serjt or corporal, whom the adjutant will 
recommend to you, to teach you the exercise of the firelock, 
which I beg of you to make yourself as much master of as if you 
were a simple soldier, the exact and nice knowledge of this will 
readily bring you to understand all other parts of your duty, 
make you a proper judge of the performance of the men, and 
qualify you for the post of an adjutant, and in time many other 
employments of credit. 

When you are posted to your company, take care that the 
Serjeants or corporals constantly bring you the orders; treat 
those officers with kindness, but keep them at a distance, so will 
you be beloved and respected by them. Read your orders with 
attention, and if anything in particular concerns yourself, put it 

I down in your memorandum book, which I would have you [keep] 
constantly in your pocket ready for any remarks. Be sure to 
attend constantly morning and evening the roll calling of the 
company; watch carefully the absentees, and enquire into 
reasons for their being so ; and particularly be watchful they do 
not endeavour to impose on you sham excuses, which they are 

* A Treatise on Military Discipline, hy Humphrey Bland, Esq., Brigadier- 
General of His Majesty's Forces, London, 1743. 


apt to do with young officers, but will be deterred from it by a 
proper severity in detecting them. 

{Here unfortunately the rest of the excellent letter has been 
torn off.) 

Like other men Wolfe had his private and his professional 
manner. His extraordinary enthusiasm for all that pertained to 
the making of a good soldier and a good Englishman did not 
prevent his being intensely human at times. The Wolfe temper 
could flare up in astonishing fashion, and one cannot help express- 
ing wonder as to exactly what would have happened if he and the 
" rascal Mr. Philpot " of Canterbury had met each other face to face. 

To HIS Mother. 

Devizes, Monday, ^.Qth July, 1756. 

Dear Madam, — Looking over my papers, I found that rascal 
Mr. Philpot's two last receipts and the lawyer's receipt for what 
was due after the fugitive had evacuated those quarters. They 
will convince you of two points, that my landlord is a very 
great rogue, and that I am pretty exact. If ever I catch him, 
I will break his bones. To-morrow we march towards our camp, 
and on Thursday morning we pitch our tents upon the Downs, 
wathin a mile and a half of Blandford. If there is an ounce of 
resolution left, we sha'n't lie long idle ; but I am afraid we have 
not spirit enough for an undertaking of any great moment. The 
Duke of Belleisle's name makes our pusillanimous tremble, and 
God knows there was never less cause. 

I have been but once on horseback this month ; however, I 
find myself well enough to march with the regiment, and shall 
probably recover apace. Our new Colonel is a sensible man, 
and very sociable and polite. Little Rickson is appointed to 
act as Deputy Quartermaster- General in Scotland, a place of 
great trust, honour, and profit. The Duke recommended him to 
be Deputy Governor of Pensylvania, which would have been 
worth £\500 a year to his Excellency, besides the glory of 
waging continual war with the wild men of America, but a more 
fortunate man stepped in with better support, and disappointed 
our friend. 

Wish a great deal of joy to Mr. Aylmer^ in my name, and 
tell him if he will breed any soldiers I shall engage them as fast 

1 Brother of Lord Aylmer, of Balrath. Mrs. Wolfe bequeathed £100 to 
Wolfe's godson, second son of the Hon. Mr. Aylmer. 


as they are able to serve. I hear that Lafausille ^ has been pre- 
paring for action, though I did not know with what design until 
you cleared it up. I'm tired of proposing anything to the 
officers that command our regiments ; they are in general so 
lazy and so bigoted to old habits ; though I must do him the 
justice to say that he differs from them in that respect, and is 
industrious beyond measure. 

If that Byng had been in haste to retrieve his own honour 
and the reputation of the British flag, he has had time and 
strength to do it. But I fear he is a dog, and therefore I hope 
the fleet did not sail from Gibraltar till after Sir Edward Hawke 
got there. It would have been of infinite concern to this nation 
that the castle of St. Philip should hold out till the second or 
third of this month. If they had been all demolished by their 
obstinacy they could not die better. You see what haste the 
Duke of Richelieu made to get for the fort ; he foresaw the 
danger of our fleet's returning with the Admirals that now 
command it, and therefore, under pretence of doing honour to 
the garrison for their brave defence, and to Blakeney in particular, 
he rejected no proposals that were made. His sole aim was to 
garrison the fort and get back to Toulon with the rest of his 
army before our squadron could return from Gibraltar, and I am 
afraid he has succeeded in his wish. If Byng has lost one day 
at Gibraltar, he is the most damnable of traitors. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

After a month at Devizes the regiment marched away to 
Shroton, near Blandford, where the troops went under canvas. 
Here for ten weeks in good weather they lay encamped. 

To HIS Father. 

Blandford Camp, August Uhy 1756. 
Dear Sir, — Our little army collected amounts to 6 
Battalions, 6 squadrons and 2 troops of light horse ; and we 
have 12 small pieces of artillery. We are encamped upon a 
very wholesome and very pleasant dry spot, but as the country 
round about is extremely open, and our situation high, the 
winds rather incommode us. To make amends they scour the 
camp and bring us a constant current of fresh air. The General 

^ "John Lafausille, Lieut. -Col. of the 8th (General Wolfe's) regiment of foot, 
was promoted to the colonelcy of the 66th in 1768. He was created a Major- 
General in 1761, and died on his voyage home from Havana in 1763." — Wright. 


has seen the Dragoons, and the battalions are preparing to be 
received one after another. When this is over I imagine he will 
proceed to another business more to the purpose, after requiring 
such alterations and improvements in the private discipline of 
corps, as he shall think needful. There is a great scarcity of 
gun powder in the camp, so that 'tis like we shall be obliged to 
do business without noise. The Lt. -General lives about 3 miles 
off, and the Major-General about 5 ; but the Duke of Bedford 
has got a house at Blandford, which brings him within a mile 
and a half of the army. 

There is good care taken of the men in the necessary articles 
of wood and straw, bread and meat, and the regiment will all be 
new clothed very soon. We have hospitals for the sick in the 
neighboiu-hood of the camp, a physician general and a siu'geon 
to inspect, and bedding delivered to us for 50 men per battalion. 
The private concerns of our regiment are in good hands, for the 
Colonel looks into matters and orders every thing for the best. 
I dare believe there is the same good management under your 
Lt. -Colonel who is an example of care and diligence, and indeed 
all the commanders of corps seem to attend in their respective 
promises to the maintenance of order and discipline. So much for 
the army ; and as for myself this sort of life generally agrees 
very well with me, and I am much better in health, since I came 
into the open air. I wish you and my mother all happiness, I 
beg my duty to her, and am, dear Sir, etc., 

Jam. Wolfe. 
To HIS Mother. 

Blandford Camp, 7 Aug., 1756. 

Dear Madam, — The addition of a battalion to every Regiment 
of Foot ^ makes room for little Adeane and I have written to 
remind Lord Albemarle of his promise, who was indeed so 
obhging as to offer his services for any relation or friend that I 
was desirous of providing for in this way. I have confined my 
request, singly to this point, which I hope will ensure his success. 
You must send (or take care that it be sent) his Christian name 
to Lord Albemarle's in Bolton Street without loss of time ; 
because the officers will be named immediately. I have received 
a letter from my father this day with a bad account of your health. 

^ By a War Office minute 25tli August, 1756, second battalions of 780 men 
each were to be added to fifteen infantry regiments. These battalions after- 
wards became regiments, of one of which, as we shall see, Wolfe got the 


As the gout and rheumatism are disorders of the same nature ; 
I should think that the sage wine might assist you. I wish with 
all my heart that anything could be thought of for your benefit 
and relief. Pray tell the General that I recommend one of his 
Lieutenants to him upon this occasion. Hamilton deserves 
some promotion. 

There is a scheme on foot to provide blankets for oiu* men 
(since the Government will not be at that expense) the officers 
contribute according to their abilities — now that he has a 
battalion added to his Regiment he may aiford to send them 
twenty guineas for that purpose — other Colonels have done it, 
and I have answered for him. My duty to the General. 
I am, dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son, 

J. W. 

PS.-^Little Brown ^ has been playing the very devil, I must 
write to Tim about him. 

To Mrs. Wolfe, 

That summer England had a distinguished visitor in the person 
of the Prince of Nassau, who went about examining all the sights 
with considerable enthusiasm. He figured as the guest of the 
Duke of Richmond (whose military tutor had been Guy Carleton) 
who placed his town house in Whitehall at the Prince's disposal 
and carrying him off to Newmarket, Epsom and Goodwood. A 
few weeks after the Prince''s arrival his host brought him down to 
the regiment and introduced him to Wolfe, for whom he enter- 
tained a high opinion. About the same time there arrived at 
Southampton eight regiments of Hessian troops, under Count 
d''Isembourg. We are told that they made "a fine appearance, 
being generally straight, tall and slender. Their uniform is blue, 
turned up with red and laced with white ; and their hair plaited 
behind hangs down to the waist." ^ But it was their splendid 
discipline which attracted Wolfe's regard. 

To HIS Father. 

Winchester, 1*^ September, 1766. 

Dear Sir, — I am afraid you will think me a little idle, and 
be still more convinced of it when you see my letter dated from 

1 Timothy Brett's brother-in-law, an ensign. 

2 Scots Magazine, May 1766. 


Winchester. A lieutenant-colonel forty miles from his camp! 
What caiTies him so far from his duty ? The case is this : — 
The Prince of Nassau is going away, and the Duke of Richmond 
means to entertain him a day or two at Goodwood before his 
departure, and we see the Hessians exercise as we go along. The 
Duke proposed this party to me, and undertook to get the 
GeneraPs leave. There was too much pleasure and too much 
honour in his Grace's oiFer to be refused. To-morrow morning I ^''^^''^^ 
four of the Hessian battalions and some artillery exhibite the 1^ y 
Prussian discipline, after which we are to breakfast with Count ' 
d'Isembourg, their General, and dine at the Duke of Richmond's, 
which is five-and-twenty miles from hence. 

We had a general review and exercise of our forces yesterday 
upon Blandford Downs, to the great entertainment of the 
ignorant spectators ; though, according to my judgment, we do 
not deserve even their approbation. There are officers who had 
the presumption and vanity to applaud our operations, bad as 
they were ; but I hope the General saw our defects, and will 
apply a speedy remedy, without which I think we are in 
imminent danger of being cut to pieces in our first encounter. 

We have some suspicion of an enterprise in embryo, and we 
conclude that it will be in a warm climate. If the least notice 
is given me, I shall send for all my thin clothes and linen. The 
Duke of Richmond talks of visiting the two camps in Kent, and 
he will, if I am with him, do us the honour to drink a dish of 
tea at your house. He has expressed a desire to see you ; whence 
that curiosity arises I can't imagine, but so it is. I send you 
both my best wishes. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Our hero got a brief leave of absence and saw his parents at 
Blackheath during September. 

In the following month came news of an outbreak of rioting on 
the part of the Gloucestershire weavers which alarmed the Govern- 
ment. Wolfe received orders on October 19 to march straightway 
with six companies — three of his own regiment and three of the 
Buffs — to help the magistrates suppress the disturbances. 

To HIS Father. 

Camp near Blandford^ 19 Oct., 1756. 

Dear Sir, — The regiments who have the longest march are 
by our management the longest in camp. Here are two military 


battalions of us, up to our knees in dirt, while our comrades are 
very snug in their quarters. It seems the Adjutant-general 
sent orders that the BufFs and our regiment should remain till 
an answer came from Lord Howe in relation to the barracks at 
Plymouth, and they omitted to give Sir John Mordaunt a proper 
latitude in case the weather was such as made it necessary to 
canton the men in this neighbourhood, so that by his exact and 
literal obedience of orders, we risk the greatest damages, and are 
already beginning to fall sick. 

Lafausille told me that you had mentioned my mother's care 
of my little affair in a letter to him, for which I am extremely 
obliged to her, and hope that a fair wind will convey them soon 
to Plymouth, where I shall pick and choose which I think may 
be most useful, and leave the rest for my heirs and executors.^ 
My duty to my mother. I wish you both the best of health and 
am, dear Sir, 

Your obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

PS. — Since I writ my letter, orders are come to decamp, and 
I have received command to march with six companies into 
Gloucestershire, to assist the civil power in suppressing riots, etc. 
I have three companies of the Buff's and three of our own ; and 
I march to-morrow morning. 

It was never a pleasant task to a soldier, and one in which no 
honour is to be acquired, unless he is so fortunate as to attain his 
ends without spilling blood. Otherwise, in a country like England, 
the " whiff of grapeshot " is apt to put a stigma upon an officer's 
character not easily effaced. 

To HIS Mother. 

Sodbury, Sunday, 2Uh October, 1766. 

Dear Madam, — I write you this short letter to inform you 
that the Gloucestershire weavers and I are not yet come to blows 
nor do I believe we shall. The expedition carries me a little out 
of my road and a little in the dirt, but I believe there never was 
a more harmless piece of business, for I have men enough to beat 
the mob of all England collected. I hope it will turn out a 
good recruiting party, for the people are so oppressed, so poor 
and so wretched, that they will perhaps hazard a knock on the 

* An assortment of knives and silver forks and spoons. 


pate for bread and clothes, and turn soldiers through sheer 
necessity. To-morrow I enter the enemy's coimtry, and dispose 
my troops in their winter quarters ; myself to a straggling dirty 
village, over the ankles in mud. Bad accommodation and bad 
company are so familiar to me, that I am almost in danger of 
losing the taste of anything better. You'll be pleased to send 
my baggage to Plymouth as before desired, for I hope to get 
there time enough to look over it before we set sail to retake St. 
Philip's or to seize the isle of Corsica for our use. 

My nurse's sons ^ were two of the finest soldiers in the camp 
at Shroton. Richard has behaved so well that he has hopes of 
preferment ; the other is an exceedingly able fellow, and strong 
as ten common men. I furnished them for their march to 
Plymouth, and gave them hopes of many good things in the 
profession. You must direct for me at Stroud in Gloucestershire 
and you must tell me how you are, and what is doing in your 
neighbourhood. London, I reckon, will soon be in an uproar. 
You are happy that you are out of the noise of the populace, 
and out of the smoke of the city. When is the imhappy 
Admiral ^ to be judged ? When does he offer an apology for the 
loss of St. Philip's, excuse himself, or pay the forfeit of his life 
for that inestimable fortress ? I, who never read the news, never 
know what is doing, and my correspondents seem to have 
intelligence proportioned to my curiosity. Pray tell the General i 
that I triumph in the King of Prussia's success.^ This was to ' 
have been a short letter, and if you knew what noise and what 
companions fill the room, you would wonder that it was other- 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 
To HIS Mother. 

Stroud, November J 1756. 
Dear Madam, — Very little society, and no amusement but 
walking or riding, forces me to be troublesome to you. The 
shortest of the two gun-cases contains a little gun for the woods : 
may I ask the favour of you to send the gun-case to the " George " 
upon Snow Hill directed to me at Stroud, in Gloucestershire ; 
the other I desire might go to Plymouth with my baggage 

1 Richard and William Hooper of Westerham (see p. 8). 

2 Byng. 

2 The victory over the Austrians under Marshal Brown at Lowositz, in 
Bohemia, 1st October, 1756. 



The obstinacy of the poor, half-starved weavers of broad-cloth 
that inhabit this extraordinary country is surprising. They beg 
about the country for food, because, they say, the masters have 
beat down their wages too low to live upon, and I believe it is a 
just complaint. Those who are most oppressed have seized the 
tools, and broke the looms of others that would work if they could. 
I am afraid they will proceed to some extravagancies, and force 
the magistrates to use our weapons against them, which would 
give me a great deal of concern. The face of this country is 
different from anything that I have seen in England. Number- 
less little hills, little rivulets running in all the bottoms ; the 
lower parts of the hills are generally grass, the middle corn, and 
the upper part wood, and innumerable little white houses in all 
the vales, so that there is a vast variety ; and every mile changes 
the scene, and gives you a new and pleasant prospect. The poor 
people in this neighbourhood are vastly well affected, further off" 
they are as ill ; but their chief, the Duke of Beaufort, is, I hear, 
upon the point of death, which will probably disconcert the 

The public papers seem to have taken a turn in favour of our 
Admiral ; but I, who am an eye-witness of the consequences of 
his fatal conduct, shall never be brought to soften towards him. 
If he did not personally engage through fear, or declined it 
through treachery ; or if he went out with instructions not to be 
too forward in relieving Minorca, he deserves ten thousand deaths. 
An English Admiral who accepts of such instructions should 
lose his head ; but, alas ! our affairs are falling down apace. 
This country is going fast upon its ruin, by the paltry projects 
and more ridiculous execution of those who are entrusted. 
Remember how often I have pressed upon for your security, how 
I have warned my father of the hazards and precarious state of 
our public funds. I have done my duty to you in that respect, 
and will do it in every other if it should hereafter become 
necessary, and I live and have it in my power. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

There was a member of Mrs. Wolfe's household who had 
mortally offended Wolfe by his insinuations long before against his 
inamorata, Miss Lawson, and other incidents had lately occurred to 

1 He died October 28, 1756. The faction was the Jacobites, of which 
the Duke was the head. 


stir up his resentment. He therefore wrote this person whom he 
had denominated " Jezebel," a sharp letter for which he now 
expresses condign repentance. 

To HIS Mother. 

Stroud, 13 Nw.y 1756. 
Dear Madam, — I should account myself little less than a 
barbarian, if I wilfully, designedly, added anything to the 
great misery that you are forced almost every day to undergo. 
My duty forbids me to increase your misfortunes, and I am not 
in my nature disposed to plague and torment people, and more 
especially those I love. My temper is much too warm, and 
sudden resentment forces out expressions and even actions that 
are neither justifiable nor excusable, and perhaps I do not correct 
that natural heat so much as I ought to do ; but you must have 
observed that people are apt to resent what they, at first view, 
(and often inadvisedly) take for injuries, with more than comon 
quickness, when they come from an unexpected quarter. With 
regard to myself you must leave to time and exerted reason for 
the correction of those errors and vices, which may at present 
prevail most against sense and judgement — pointing them out 
in the gentlest and friendliest manner, and by that means help 
to weaken and to destroy them. I have that cursed disposition 
of mind, (the worst quality that can seize the heart of man, and 
the devil's great assistant) that, when I once know that people 
have entertained a very ill opinion I imagine they never change ; 
from whence one passes easily to an indifference about them, and 
then to dislike ; and though I flatter myself that I have a 
sense of justice strong enough to keep me from doing >vrong, 
even to an enemy, yet there lurks a hidden poison in the heart 
that is difficult to root out. However in this respect Satan is 
disappointed for I have been so long used to love and esteem you 
in gratitude for your good offices, and still more in consideration 
of the many excellent qualities that you are possessed of, that it 
must be a very great change indeed on your side, that could 
weaken my affection for you. Now and then I think myself for- 
got — but still attribute it to some unhappy cause of health, and 
wish it better. Compassion alone for your sufferings (if all other 
motives were dead) ought to make me calm under your reproofs, 
if they were ever so severe ; and may be, if I only pitied yom- 
condition, without any mixture of affection, I should be more 
so. It is my misfortune to catch fire on a sudden, to answer 

X 2 


letters the moment I receive them, when they touch me sensibly ; 
and to suffer passion to dictate my expression more than reason. 
The next day perhaps would have changed more still, and carried 
more moderation with it ; every ill turn through my whole life 
has had this haste, and first impulse of resentment for its true 
cause, and it proceeds from pride — I am too much affected with 
your letter to leave you a moment in doubt about my inclina- 
tions, which you may be assured are always tending affection- 
ately towards you and which do in reality make your ease and 
quiet and welfare of consideration greater than any concern of 
my own, and I can safely say, that I have always had your well 
being much more sincerely at heart, than my own interest, and 
am pleased to find in myself so much merit in my love and 
regard for you, so well deserving it at my hands. I beg my 
duty to my father, and am 
Dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son, 

J. Wolfe. 

PS. — I have reason to believe that oiu' Regiment will march 
very soon from Plymouth into this country ; therefore, if the 
baggage is not gone, I beg you will keep it, till we know more. 

To Mrs. Wolfe, 

We have already seen the strength of Wolfe's friendship for the 
Hon. Edward Cornwallis, who had been his predecessor in the 
Lieutenant-Colonelcy. Just at present that officer was enjoying 
much public disfavour for having, while serving at Gibraltar, 
joined in the resolution of the Council of War presided over by the 
governor, Lieutenant-General Fowke, not to send a battalion to help 
the ill-fated Admiral Byng. Horace Walpole wrote : " By all one 
learns Byng, Fowke and all the officers at Gibraltar were infatuated. 
They figured Port Mahon lost and Gibraltar a-going ! a-going ! 
Lord Effingham, Cornwallis, Lord Robert Bertie all — all signed the 
council of war and are in as bad odour as possible. The King says 
it will be his death and neither eats nor sleeps, — all our trust is in 
the Hanoverians." 

Of the court-martial which tried Fowke, the old General, 
Wolfe's father, was a member. The governor was suspended for a 
year and then dismissed from the King's service — a severe punish- 
ment, but mild as compared with that meted out to Byng. But 


Wolfe firmly stood by his friend Cornwallis in his disgrace, writing 
thus to his father at a time when an investigation into Fowke's 
associates was pending — 

To HIS Father. 
Dear Sir, — 

Stroud, 2*Jth November , 1766. 

I don't suppose there is a man living more to be pitied 
than poor Cornwallis. As he has more zeal, more merit, 
and more integrity than one commonly meets with among 
men, he will be proportionally mortified to find himself in dis- 
grace, with the best intention to deserve favour. I am heartily 
sorry to find him involved with the rest, of whose abilities or 
inclinations nobody has any very high notions ; but Cornwallis is 
a man of approved courage and fidelity. He has, unhappily, been 
misled upon this ocasion by people of not half his value. 

I am, dear sir, 

J. Wolfe. 

Wolfe's view of Comwallis's behaviour was that eventually 
taken by the authorities, and his friend came out of the ordeal not 
merely unscathed but so far improved in position that he was 
advanced a grade in the service and in February was gazetted a 

Wolfe's own promotion occasionally occupied his thoughts, and 
his temper just now does not appear to have been improved by the 
mission he had concluded in the West. He wanted to serve 
against England's enemies abroad and was only considered good 
enough to put down a weaver's brawl in Gloucestershire. In the 
next letter the clannishness which distinguished the Wolfes and 
himself in particular is brought out by his references to his cousin 
Goldsmith's impending bereavement. Captain Goldsmith and he 
corresponded regularly. 

To HIS Mother. 

Stroud, Qth December y 1766. 

Dear Madam, — I attribute it in some measure to the nature 
of my employment as well as to the condition of my blood, 
being everlasting chagrined with the ill actions of the people 
about me, and in the constant exercise of power to pimish and 
rebuke. I pass so much of my time at quarters, and am so 
Jct^nt upon having everything done in its proper way, that 


those aids which are equality of society, the conversation of 
women, and the wholesome advice of friends are known to give 
to minds of my cast, are totally cut off from me and denied ; 
and if I was to serve two or three years in America, I make no 
doubt that I should be distinguished by a peculiar fierceness of 
temper suited to the nature of that war. I don't know whether 
a man had better fall early into the hands of those savages, than 
be converted by degrees into their nature and forget humanity. 

It may happen that a second battalion of those regiments 
may have colonels appointed to them without including your 
son in the number. A man who never asks a favour will hardly 
ever obtain it. I persuade myself they will put no inferior 
officers (unless a peer) over my head, in which case I can't com- 
plain, not being able to say that I have ever done more than my 
duty, and happy if I came up to that. If any soldier is preferred 
when my turn comes, I shall acquaint the Secretary of War that 
I am sensible of the injury that is done me, and will take the 
earliest opportunity to put it out of his or any man's power to 
repeat it. Not while the war lasts ; for if 500 young officers one 
after another were to rise before me I should continue to serve 
with the utmost diligence, to acquit myself to the country, and to 
show the Ministers that they had acted unjustly. But I flatter 
myself that I shall never be forced to these disagreeable measures. 

I don't believe that Mrs. Goldsmith is dead, but dying. 
They are still at Kinsale, because she is not able to move ; for 
her desire was to be carried to die amongst her own relations. 
My cousin, whose good nature and gratitude are such that he can 
refuse nothing to a wife that he thinks deserves everything at 
his hands, had agreed to carry her to Limerick ; but she had not 
strength for the journey, and I expect to hear every day that 
she is at rest. I am afraid poor Goldsmith has been obliged to 
call in some expensive assistance, and therefore conclude that a 
present from the General would be acceptable. He has distin- 
guished himself by a most considerable regard for the poorer 
branches of his family, for which, I make no doubt, but that he 
himself will be considered. All mankind are indeed our relations 
and have nearly an equal claim to pity and assistance ; but 
those of our own blood call most immediately upon us. One of 
the principal reasons that induces me to wish myself at the head 
of a regiment is, that I may execute my father's plan while there 
remains one indigent person of his race. 

Kingsley's and its Lieutenant-Colonel was soon off to Ciren- 


cester, where it became quartered for some months. While here he 
learnt that his firm friend, Sir John Mordaunt, when summoned to 
the Royal closet, took an opportunity to represent to his Majesty 
Wolfe's claims to a vacant colonelcy or at least to employment in 
a post of honour. This was probably not the only quarter in 
which old King George heard the young officer's praises sung. 
Wolfe's reputation was growing fast. There was now hardly a 
quarter of the kingdom where he had not made himself known in 
the course of his profession and generally loved. 

To HIS Mother. 

Cirencesterj 26th December y 1756. 
Dear Madam, — 

The letter you enclosed was from my cousin. His wife 
declines apace ; her illness gives him great concern and I believe 
may have distressed him in his narrow circumstances. If my 
father would send him some assistance it might be a timely 
relief. I don't know what the poor man will do ; when his wife 
dies, he loses £¥) a year of his income. I have no house to 
offer him for shelter or I should be entirely at his service, 
because I think him to be an even-tempered honest man. 

Sir John Mordaunt, who has been in with the King, took that 
opportunity to recommend me in the strongest terms to his 
Majesty. I did not ask this of Sir John and therefore am the 
more obliged to him ; but I don't expect it will produce much, 
because by the King's rule my turn has not yet come. . . . The 
disagreement between Blakeney ^ and Jeffreys is unfortunate for 
both ; it is an old quarrel revived and will produce no good. We 
military men are not so much in love with the defence of St. 
Philips as the mob of London. We think there appeared no 
great degree of skill, nor the most shining courage. I wish you 
better health and a more comfortable time than the past. 
My duty to my Father, 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

Jam. Wolfe. 

Cirencester, Dec. 30, 1756. 
Dear Madam, — By the arrival of my baggage I am enabled 
to send you a very good receipt for the gravel. If the oil does 
not offend the stomach — it can have no ill effects. 

1 '' The King of his own motion has given a red riband and an Irish barony 
to old Blakeney — who . . . has not only lost his government, but was bed- 
rid while it was losing." — Walpole's Letters, November 29, 1756. 


An ounce of oil of sweet almonds, 
An ounce of Syrup of Marsh Mallows in a 
large glass of Rhenish wine. 

Short ^ in Jermyn Street has genuine Rhenish. 
I wish it may succeed with you. I found great relief at 
Southampton by the use of it. I beg my duty to my father and 
am, dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam. Wolfe. 

1 Short, the wine-merchant, was a character in his day. He is said to 
have once sent a dozen of Rhenish to Oliver Goldsmith on account of his 
having written The Vicar of Wakefield. 



For six months the war had dragged along, and for that period 
of time had been disastrous to England. 

Not imtil the accession of Pitt to power did the government 
begin to be informed by any real knowledge or be animated by a 
single purpose. But the amount of opposition Pitt had to 
encounter from the King and the Newcastle cabal was too much 
even for his patriotism — far too much for his pride. He came in 
in December : he went out in April following. But in those few 
months he demonstrated clearly to the reasoning and loyal part of 
the nation that he was as he described himself, the one man upon 
whom in its extremity they could rely. England, he had said, was 
no place for foreign mercenaries ; so, while in office, he had sent the 
Hessians from English soil. Englishmen must learn to rely on 
themselves ; a defensive militia was organized and fostered. If 
foreigners were to be hired at all, they should serve far afield 
against the enemy in America. Recruiting had been prosecuted 
with energy. 

There was another neglected source of military strength which 
Pitt resolved should be drawn upon. The keen eye of the Lieutenant- 
Colonel of the Twentieth had noted long since the advantage of 
using the fine fighting qualities of the Highlanders and had pressed 
the suggestion at head-quarters. The Highland clans were now 
organized into line regiments who could satisfy their martial 
instincts to their heart's content by fighting for instead of against 
their sovereign. 

The year before (in May 1756) a plan for conducting the war 
was submitted to the Duke of Cumberland, who when Pitt came into 
office sent it to that statesman. The author of the scheme sug- 
gested that two battalions of 1000 men each might readily be 
raised in the Highlands for service in America, if offers of land 
grants at the close of the war were made. Pitt adopted the idea 
instantly and its success more than justified his promptitude. 

Now, who was the author of this scheme ? Wright was the 
first to point out the probability of its being Wolfe. All we know 
is that the paper was delivered to Pitt by the Earl of Albemarle. 



The Earl was none other than the Lord Bury, Colonel of Wolfe's 
regiment while in Scotland. Bury''s knowledge of the Highlands 
and the disposition of the Highlanders was of the scantiest, 
other than that which he received from his Lieutenant-Colonel ; 
for during the whole time the Twentieth was quartered in the 
north he paid it but a couple of hasty visits. But we do know 
that Wolfe wrote him copious letters, and we know also that 
Wolfe's alert mind would certainly have transmitted his views on 
this matter to his superior.^ 

Amongst Wolfe's friends was the Duke of Bedford, who was now 
Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. Bedford had long been on intimate 
terms with Lieutenant-General Wolfe, who for some reason or 
other was always anxious to get his son on the Irish establishment. 
The posts of Barrackmaster-General and Quartermaster- General 
of Ireland which had been held by Lord Forbes became vacant on 
that officer's death. It was customary to look somewhat higher 
than Wolfe's rank when bestowing a post of such importance as 
either. But Bedford wished to show in the strongest manner his 
appreciation of Wolfe's qualities. He therefore offered, through 
his secretary, Rigby, both these appointments to the young officer, 
stating his belief that the King would grant their recipient the 
customary rank of Colonel. Wolfe got the letter on February 6, 
and his letter to his father the same day shows the touchy state of 
his mind with regard to the obstructions placed in his path in high 

To HIS Father. 

Cirencester, Qth February, 1767. 

Dear Sir, — I have writ to thank the Duke for the favour 
with which he is pleased to honour me ; I have told him that 
although it is an office, quite out of the course of my practice, 
nevertheless I shall endeavour to execute it properly by a strict 
and exact obedience to his directions and commands. But I shall 
give it up immediately and come back to the battalion, if the 

(rank of Colonel is omitted ; and I had rather see the King of 
Prussia's operations the next campaign than accept of this 

1 ''It is at least a curious coincidence," observes Wright/' that Wolfe's words 
are equivalent to the final sentence of that portion of the above-mentioned 
scheme which relates to the matter in hand : — ' No men in this island are 
better qualified for the American war than the Scots Highlanders.' The issue 
proved the truth of the assertion. If Wolfe did not incite this military- 
measure, it is remarkable that he should have foreshadowed it, as well as the 
establishment of county constabulary upon a constitutional basis." 


employment with all its advantages. As the matter is not yet 
completed, I believe 'tis better not to speak of it, lest his Majesty 
should think proper to refuse. 

I am, dear Sir, etc. 

He soon was given to understand that the Duke had been pre- 
vailed upon to give the separated office of Barrackmaster-General 
to some one else. This did not disturb him ; provided he could 
procure the coveted colonelcy, he was inclined to fall in with his 
parents'* wishes and accept the post. But he did not disguise from 
them that the prospect by no means satisfied his soul. He was 
" too much of a soldier to desire anything but military employ- 
ment," even putting down weavers' riots or building Highland 

To HIS Father. 

Cirencester, February IQthy 1757. 

Dear Sir, — As I have no franks I am obliged to put you 
to the expense of a double letter, to enclose one that I received 
this morning from the Duke of Bedford, in so obliging and 
flattering a style that I should not be ready to show it to 
anybody else. But as the matter concerns what I formally 
mentioned to you, it will be the best means of letting you see 
what steps have been taken, as well as what success has attended 
them. You'll observe that the Duke makes no mention of the 
employment of Barrackmaster-General, which I am not sorry for, 
wishing rather that they might be separated from each other 
upon this occasion. I won't trouble you with all that I have said 
to the Duke of Bedford and Lord Albemarle, but only in general 
that I have conformed to their sentiments in accepting the offer. 
I am far from being pleased with it otherwise than as a mark of 
the Duke's friendship and good opinion, being too much of a 
soldier to desire any but military employment, which this can 
hardly be reckoned. 

I am, etc., 

Jam. Wolfe. 

On the same day he wrote the following to the Lord-Lieutenant — 

To THE Duke of Bedford. 

Cirencester, February 19th, 1757- 
My Lord, — ^The honour your Grace has done me, and the 
particvdar obligations you have conferred upon me, leave me 


no choice how to act. That which is most agreeable to your 
Grace must determine me, and I should be extremely pleased to 
have it in my power to convince your Grace, by an exact obedi- 
ence to your commands, that I wish to make myself more worthy 
of your protection. I am very sensible that there are many 
gentlemen upon the list whose pretensions are a check on mine, 
and some of such distinguished merit that I neither desire, nor 
could hope, to be preferred before them. The only circumstance 
that could at all lessen my satisfaction on this occasion is, to be 
in some measure distinguished from the officers who have held 
this employment before by a rank inferior to theirs, and which 
seemed to be annexed to the office. Such services as your Grace 
may expect from the best inclinations, I venture to assure you 
of; and, as I am ready to receive and follow your Grace's 
directions, they will be the best and surest rules for my conduct. 
The moment the officers of this country and of the regiments 
will permit, which I hope will be early in the next month, 
I shall pay my respects to your Grace in town. With all 
possible acknowledgments for these marks of your favourable 

I have the honour to be, etc., 

James Wolfe. ^ 

Wolfe"'s patriotism was certainly of an unusual sort, as the 
following letter testifies. 

To HIS Mother. 

23rrf February y 1757. 

Dear Madam, — I write you upon a very particular subject. 
There is reason to think that the Spaniards will make war upon 
us, and of course that the public expenses will greatly increase 
as well as the danger. My desire therefore is, that you will 
interest yourself in behalf of the public as becomes a virtuous, 
good, disinterested lady, and that you will endeavour to persuade 
the General to contribute all he can possibly affi3rd towards the 
defence of the island, — retrenching, if need be, his expenses, 
moderate as they are. I would have him engage in lotteries 
and all schemes for raising money, because I believe they are 
honestly intended; and though he should be considerably a 
loser, the motive of his actions will overbalance his losses. Let 
the General keep a little ready money by him for his own use 

^ Bedford Correspondence j vol. ii. p. 239. 


and yours and with the rest, if he has it, assist the State ; nay, 
I should go so far as to advise him to lend three or four thousand 
pounds to the Government without any interest at all, or give 
it, since it is the savings of his salaries and the reward of his 
services. Excuse this freedom.^ I beg my duty to the General. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

To HIS Father. 

London, Vlth March, 1757- 

Dear Sir, — There are rumours of a change of Ministry. In 
this fluctuating state of affairs military operations must be 
neglected in the contention of parties. I believe it is pretty 
certain (though not yet declared) that H.R.H. the Duke will 
command the army in Westphalia, and, as there is a greater 
probability of service there than here, I have desired my Lord 
Albemarle to get me leave to attend his Royal Highness, and I 
have some prospect of succeeding. This I am persuaded you 
will approve of, from the advantages to be reaped from an active 
campaign. There appears to be so general an opposition to 
sending any of our troops abroad, that I imagine they will have 
no share of the great war which is now carrying on upon the 
Continent. If my mother will let me know the hour she will 
take me up in her chariot at the bridge on Wednesday next, I 
shall be ready to wait upon her to Blackheath ; and if she does 
not care to come herself, only signify your pleasure as to sending 
the chariot and I shall be at my post. 

Crabbed in temper as she was, Mrs. Wolfe was dotingly fond 
of her brilliant son and resolved to meet him at the bridge. The 
appointed day arrives ; it is bitterly cold and a blizzard is blowing. 
Nothing loath the good lady bundles out of bed, mounts her coach, 
and drives ten miles to Westminster bridge. Her son is not there. 
She waits there three hours, until she nearly perishes with the cold, 
and then with thin lips and blazing eyes orders the coachman to 
drive back to Blackheath. It appears James had written to 
countermand the carriage, but his letter had arrived too late. 

1 "Far from being absorbed in his own worldly welfare^ our hero was deeply 
interested in everything that concerned the State. Instead of heaping up 
riches, as he now had the opportunity of doing, it seems to have been his 
highest ambition to spend and be spent in the service of his country." — 


Sunday Eve, 27 March, 1757. 
Dear Madam, — I did hope that my letter would get to 
Blackheath time enough to prevent the chariot's coming for me, 
and I couldn't conceive that you yourself would venture out such 
a day — but Mr. Fisher told me you waited God knows how long 
in the cold, which I was exceedingly sorry to hear. I won't 
trouble you any more about the chariot, for fear of such another 
accident, and as the ceremony of kissing hands takes up a deal 
of time, I hope before it is over, the weather will soften, so as to 
admit of some navigation upon the Thames. 

I hear no kind of news, because I never ask for any, nor ever 
know what is doing. My duty to my father, I am, dear Madam, 
Your obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam. Wolfe. 
To Mrs. Wolfe, 

To HIS Father. 

Monday, 28 March, 1757. 

Dear Sir, — I am heartily sorry that I am not at liberty to 
wait upon you next Wednesday, and that I did not know of your 
being in town till 'twas too late to see you. 

The Duke's leg is inflamed,^ and he is for the present confined. 
I shall kiss the King's hand tomorrow for my new office. 
My duty to my mother, 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam. Wolfe. 
To Lieut.-Gen. Wolfe, 
Blackheath, Kent. 

On Tuesday, March 29, amongst the throng at the royal levee 
at St. James's was the figure of the Lieutenant-Colonel of the 
Twentieth Regiment. At the same ceremony, separated by two 
or three notabilities, one of whom was the Duke of Bedford, there 
stood the minister who ere many months had passed was to take 
the destinies of his country into his hands. Out of this roomful 
of peers, statesmen and soldiers, there were two men who loved 
England superlatively and longed to serve her, filled with fervour, 
with ambition. In this Lieutenant-Colonel twenty years his junior, 
Pitt the statesman was to find a soldier who would be a worthy 

^ The Duke of Cumberland became corpulent to an unwieldy degree at an 
early age and also suffered from varicose veins. 


instrument to his ends. Old George II, when he gave Wolfe his 
hand to kiss, may have looked twice at this man (" too young to 
be a colonel ") whom so many of his lieges were praising and resolved 
to advance in spite of his royal will. 

While the nation and the empire resounded with war''s alarums, 
Wolfe was as busy as ever he had been in his life. Most of the 
home regiments had recruited second battalions, and first amongst 
them the Twentieth. He never delegated the task of formation 
and discipline to others. " His regiment was the best drilled and 
disciplined in the kingdom,"'"' afterwards said the third Duke of 
Marlborough, who at this time as Lord Blandford was one of his 
captains, and there is ample testimony to the fact. After leaving 
London, where he had kissed hands on his Irish appointment, our 
Lieutenant-Colonel travelled to Gloucester, to inspect his second 

To HIS Father. 

Gloucester, \^th May, 1757. 

Dear Sir, — I have travelled hither with Lord Blandford, 
who goes very quick. We got to Cirencester (by Oxford) the 
first night, stayed a day there : and got here to-day and 
to-morrow set out for Shrewsbury. 

Our second battalion is in very good condition, healthy and 
forward in their exercises, and the soberest collection of young 
Englishmen that I ever saw. The Major Beckwith has been 
extremely lucky in recruiting. The loss of the Austrians is not i 
so considerable as was expected, but it is for the reputation of \ 
the King of Prussia's arms to drive them before him. I suppose 
we may soon expect to hear of a decisive action. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

For three months England was without a ministry. At last, 
during June, Wolfe learnt that Pitt was again in power. He 
became principal Secretary of State, while the Duke of New- 
castle took the Treasury. 

A few weeks later a general encampment was formed on 
Bradford Heath, near Dorchester, and thither Wolfe went with 
both his battalions. While he was there training his troops with an 
eye to service in any part of the world, Pitt, with his hand on the 
helm, had decided on a daring move against the enemy at home. 
This move accorded well with his own genius, but it originated 


~;with Frederick of Prussia. England had been in a shrinking 
attitude too long and the nation was sick of perpetually acting on 
the defensive.^ 

Pitt's plan was to strike a blow, sudden and unexpected, at the 
French coasts. Three years before, one Captain Clarke,^ travelling 
through the west of France, had been struck by a spot on the coast 
vulnerable to a marked degree. Rochefort in Aunis, a few miles 
from where the embouchure of the Charente pours into the Bay of 
Biscay, was kept up as an arsenal for naval stores, but maintained 
so badly that this English observer believed it could be destroyed, 
together with such shipping and stores as it was supposed 
to guard. The paper was dispatched to Sir John Ligonier, who 
now transmitted it to Pitt, whose keen eye fastened upon the 
salient point at once. Rochefort would serve his ends. 

If such an expedition was to succeed, it must be carried out at 
once. Every day the crisis grew more acute. Ten thousand 
troops were to take part in the attack, and to transport such a 
number at such short notice Lord Anson (then at the Admiralty) 
declared was impossible. Pitt informed him that if the transports 
were not ready to the day he would lay Anson"'s dereliction 
before the King and impeach him in the House of Commons. 
Anson took the hint and Pitt had no reason to complain of 
Admiralty co-operation. If there was delay it was not owing to 
want of zeal on the part of the officials. 

Pitt and his Secret Committee hit upon the Rochefort objective 
about the middle of July. Every department laboured its utmost, 
but still it was inevitable that precious weeks should slip away 
before the expedition could sail. The secret of the destination 
was well kept: but the magnitude of the preparations kept the 
whole of Europe on the qui vive. " Every one of the generals," 
says a recent French historian,^ " who held commands along the 
coasts of the Channel or the North Sea felt himself threatened." 
Marshal Richelieu thought the expedition was intended to 

* The King of Prussia told Mitchell the British Ambassador ^' that 
England's seeming to act upon the offensive will have a greater effect upon 
the councils of France as well as give a spirit to the English nation who have 
hitherto been frightened with vain terrors of invasion, and that the only way to 
prevent like panic is to show by some vigorous act that you do not fear them." 
— Mitchell to Holderness^ July 5, 1757. 

^ The son of an Edinburgh physician. Walpole speaks of him as "& young 
Scot by name Clarke ; ill-favoured in his person, with a cast in his eye, of 
intellect not very sound; but quick, bold and adventurous." Entinck describes 
him as a ^*^ worthy, intelligent, skilful officer." 

2 Waddington, La Guerre de Sept Ans. 


relieve Cumberland, whose position was by this time grown very 

But while in England ships were being overhauled, provisions 
for six months laid in, seamen being impressed by thousands, 
scaling ladders constructed of such size that thirty men might 
mount abreast, boats built, and a thousand incidental details com- 
pleted, Pitt was busy choosing the personnel of the expedition. 
From a letter written to Rickson, then acting as Deputy Quarter- 
master-General for Scotland, we learn that Wolfe had been called 
to London and informed that he was to serve in the expedition. 

To Major Rickson. 

London, July 21st, 1757. 
My Dear Rickson, — ^Though I have matter enough, and 
pleasure in writing a long letter, yet I must now be short. Your 
joy upon the occasion of my new employment, I am sure, is very 
sincere, as is that which I feel when any good thing falls to your 
share ; but this new office does neither please nor flatter me, 
as you may believe when I tell you that it was offered with the 
rank of Colonel, which the King, guided by the Duke, afterwards 
refused. His Royal Highness"'s reasons were plausible ; he told 
the Duke of Bedford (who applied with warmth) that I was so 
young a lieutenant-colonel that it could not be done immediately. 
But I should have known it in time, that I might have excused 
myself from a very troublesome business, which is quite out of 
my way. . . . 

We are about to undertake something or other at a distance, 
and I am one of the party. I can't flatter you with a lively 
picture of my hopes as to the success of it ; the reasons are so 
strong against us (the English) in whatever we take in hand, that 
I never expect any great matter ; the chiefs, the engineers, and 
our wretched disciphne, are the great and insurmountable 
obstructions. I doubt yet if there be any fixed plan ; we wait 
for American intelligence, from whence the best is not expected, 
and shall probably be put into motion by that intelhgence. I 
myself take the chance of a profession little understood and less 
liked in this country. I may come off as we have done before ; 
but I never expect to see either the poor woman my mother, or 
the General again, — she is at present dangerously ill, he is infirm 
with age. Whether my going may hurry their departure, you 
are as good a judge as I am. Besides their loss, I have not a 
soul to take chai'ge of my little affairs, and expect to find every- 


thing in the utmost confusion, robbed and plundered by all that 
can catch hold of them. 

I heartily wish you were fixed in the employment you now 
exercise; but if David Watson^ is not misrepresented to me, 
you have everything to fear from his artifices and double-dealing. 
I wish I was strong enough to carry you through, I'd take you 
upon my back ; but my people are away. Calcraft could serve 
you — no man better. He is the second or third potentate in 
this realm. I may have an opportunity of speaking to Napier, 
but there Watson governs almost alone ; and we are not sharp 
enough to dive into the hearts of men. The nephew goes with 
us. I must have succumbed imder the weight of some characters 
of this sort if I had not stood out in open defiance of their 
wicked powers. A man will not be ill-used that will not bear it. 
Farewell, my honest little friend. I am ever your 

Faithful and affectionate servant, 

James Wolfe. 

To Hawke was given command of the fleet, sixteen sail of the 
line, in addition to frigates, fireships, bomb ketches, etc. With 
Hawke went Vice- Admiral Knowles and Rear- Admiral Brodrick. 
Lord George Sackville was offered the command of the troops, but 
it appears he distrusted the expedition and declined. Conway, 
Pitt's choice, was ready to take the leadership, but he was either 
not persona grata to the King or was thought " too young "" (youth 
was to show what it could do later, when the reign was in its last 
gasps), and the honour and responsibility then fell upon Wolfe's 
friend and patron. Sir John Mordaunt. Mordaunt had been a 
good man in his day and he, at least, was not " too young." He 
never forgot that he was nephew of that Earl of Peterborough who 
had performed such brilliant feats (" soldier and sailor too ") in 
Queen Anne's day. At sixty his spirit and constitution were gone 
and he had lost his nerve. Once, Walpole says, he boasted " a sort 
of alacrity in daring, but from ill-health was grown indifferent to 
it." Conway, a man of cold, indecisive temper, little liked in the 
army, and one, moreover, with little faith in the success of the 
venture upon which he was now engaged, was second in command. 
His antipodes, Comwallis, also accompanied the troops. 

But it is upon the Quartermaster-General and chief of the staff 
that not only our own interest, but the ultimate interest of the expedi- 

* Quartennaster-General in Scotland. 


tion, rests. James Wolfe, in Walpole"*s words, was " a young officer 
who had contracted reputation from his intelligence of discipline 
and from the perfection to which he brought his own regiment. 
The world could not expect more from him than he thought him- 
self capable of performing. He looked upon danger as the 
favourable moment that would call forth his talents."''' 

So that it was as Quartermaster-General on Continental service 
and not as Quartermaster- General in Ireland that destiny called 
upon Wolfe to serve. The troops were ah'eady assembling in the 
Isle of Wight when Wolfe sat down to write the Lord-Lieutenant 
the following letter necessitated by the circumstances — 

To THE Duke of Bedford. 

August 1757. 
My Lord, — The honour of holding an employment under 
your Grace, and my particular obligations to you upon that 
account, make it a point of duty, as well as of respect, to mention 
that a battalion of Colonel Kingsley's regiment is ordered to be 
ready to embark ; and as Lieutenant-Colonel of that battalion, 
I embark with it, upon what service none of us pretend to guess ; 
nor ought we to be very solicitous about it, rather desiring to 
serve well than to know where. If this business did not stand in 
the way, it would give me the highest satisfaction to endeavour 
to acquit myself so as to meet your Grace's approbation, being 
quite assured that you would take it in good part whatever was 
well intended, and accept of industry to supply the want of skill. 
I beg to be allowed to wish your Grace most perfect health, and 
to add that I have the honour to be, etc., 

James Wolfe. 

How different were Quartermaster-General Wolfe"'s feelings on 
his return to the Isle of Wight after an absence of seventeen years ! 
He was then a pale child of thirteen, racked with anguish because 
too ill to accompany his father to the Spanish Main and weeping 
for the lost glories of war. He had since revelled in these 
" glories *" to the full, and had endured many campaigns. He was 
still little more than a boy, yet he had gone far and his name was 
known throughout the army as that of a perfect soldier. All this 
was as nothing. As he entered the farmhouse on the outskirts of 
Newport, which he well remembered, he probably felt that now as 
then his career was all before him. He had " done nothing."" In 
this very expedition he was to turn a fresh page: nay, he had 
Y 2 


begun a new volume of his life. From Rochefort dates Wolfe'^s 
fame in history. 

The army was ready to embark on August 10, so much dispatch 
had been made on the military side. But the transports were 
not due for another three weeks. 

To HIS Mother. 

Newport, 10 Aug. VJ5*J. 

Dear Madam, — Our little army is collected and ready to 
embark, but the ships are not yet come round, and I think it 
uncertain when they may. I hope you continue to mend, and 
that you will soon be strong enough to begin your journey to 
Bath, where, from experience you may expect relief. 

The enclosed letter is an account which belongs to the other 
letter left with my father ; and my little affairs are brought into 
some order ; and under some decent regulation. 

I wish you better health, and every good thing of this life ; 
I beg my duty to my father, and am, dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son. 

Jam. Wolfe. 

To HIS Mother. 

Newport, Isle of Wight, August 22nd, VJB'J. 

Dear Madam, — I don't expect a letter from you, — I mean 
that you will not write till you have been a month at the Bath. 
Then, if ships come our way, whichever route we take, I shall 
be glad to have news from you. The winds do sharply oppose 
our enterprise, and so violently at this time, that we are well 
ashore, in my mind. We have much company, much exercise, a 
theatre, and all the camp amusements, besides balls and concerts. 
The General seemed to foresee my habitation. I am possessed 
of the farmhouse formerly General Wentworth's, which I find to 
be a dreary lodging ; however, it affects me as little as anybody, 
whose great concern in this life is neither food nor raiment, nor 
house to sleep in. 

I am, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

The weeks dragged on, and still the fleet had not sailed. His 
mother had written him to say she had heard of his fascinating 
behaviour at a ball at Newport. 


To HIS Mother. 

Newport, Isle of Wight, September Srd, 1757. 
Dear Madam, — You know my history better than I could 
imagine. The ladies call that handsome (when they are well 
bred) which in reality is very moderate. My temper naturally 
leads me to that which my circumstances seldom admit of. 
Money would discover my turn to be rather liberal and social 
than otherwise. I was this day on board the " Royal George," 
when I inquired for Kit Mason,^ and saw him in perfect health. 
After the voyage he hopes to see his mother, and was mightily 
pleased to hear about her from me. He resembles Mrs. Mason ; 
has beautiful eyes of her make, is grown tall, and in my opinion 
is a very fine boy. He was clean and looked healthy. If we 
sail in the same fleet, I shall ask after him every now and then. 
The wind is fair and we expect the transports tomorrow. 

I am, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

" Nothing was wanting," as one historian observes, " to ensure 
success but a General" when on September 7 the ten regiments 
weighed anchor. Not imtil they had been a week at sea did the 
officers learn their destination and object. 

Meanwhile many things had happened abroad which made 
Pitt's project of even greater importance than when it was first 
conceived. On July 24 the battle between Cumberland and 
D'*Estrees had been fought at Hastenbeck, and the British had 
sustained a severe defeat. All the chief fortresses on the Weser 
fell into French hands. Hanover had surrendered and the 
Hanoverian government had fled. Frederick, forced to withdraw 
from Bohemia, and with hostile Swedes and Russians in movement, 
was in despair. " The crisis is so terrible," he wrote at the end 
of August, " that it can't last much longer. The month of 
September will decide my fate for the autumn and winter." 

The truth is the King believed that the hope of saving the 
situation lay in getting reinforcements to Cumberland, then 
stationed at Stade, and up to the very eve of the fleet's sailing did 
his utmost to get the destination diverted to Stade. Hardwicke 
thought that when the French had done their worst in Germany 
they would turn their attention to England. 

1 Afterwards Sir Christopher Mason, who died a Vice-Admiral in 1802. 
There is a monument to his memory in front of Greenwich Church. Many 
references to the Masons will be found in Wolfe's letters. 


" For God's sake,'' he urged Newcastle, " insist that the troops 
should be back by the middle or before the end of September." 
And Newcastle prevailed upon his strenuous colleague, Pitt, to 
agree to this condition, which was included in Hawke's and 
Mordaunt's instructions, although it was afterwards relaxed. But 
the relaxation came too late for it to be of any use. The leaders 
of the Rochefort expedition, heedless of Byng's fate, had already 
made up their minds to do nothing. 

The fleet sailed with Wolfe on board the Ramillies, a ship 
named after a battle in which his own father had fought. On 
that very day poor William Henry, Duke of Cumberland, the 
British commander on the continent, had signed the convention of 
Klosterzeven, and the death-warrant of his military reputation. 

Even before he stepped on board the Ramillies Wolfe saw 
enough to convince him that the expedition stood in great danger 
from the want of co-operation between the military and naval 
commanders. But between the two it needed little acumen to 
perceive which was the inferior. As Wright observes, he could not 
" recognize amongst them a particle of that self-denying patriotism 
which prompted his own zeal for the service." 

I Wolfe was, as usual, extremely sick at sea, and it was ten days 
[before he wrote his first letter home. 

To HIS Mother. 

" Ramillies," Vjth September, 1767- 
Dear Madam, — A man should always have a letter writ at 
sea, because the opportunities of despatching them are seldom 
and sudden, and a sick, qualmish stomach is to consult the 
weather. He must write when he can ; he may not be able to 
do it when he would. The progress of our arms has been 
greatly retarded by calms and fogs, and the formidable Gulf 
of Biscay; in which we are navigating, is just now as smooth 
as the river Thames in winter. Perhaps in twenty-four hours 
the waves may touch the clouds, and then the great machine 
will roll about like a tub, and we, the inhabitants of it, shall 
partake severely of the perturbation. The troops are imder 
good regulations and good care, and consequently are all well 
and healthy. They feed well and lie well, and being in their 
nature regardless of future events, their minds are in their usual 
state, roused a little, perhaps, by curiosity and the desire of 
something new. 

For a man that does not feel the ship's motion, and whose 



nose is not too nice for the smells, this life for a little while is 
tolerable ; it is then an easy, commodious conveyance for a 
distant place, and upon the quarter-deck of a ninety-gun ship a 


iV. Chtc]i)llon 

Statute Miles 

i. I I I 

■0 1 2 3 4 5 







man may stretch and exercise his limbs. I have not myself been 
one hour well since we embarked, and have the mortification to 
find that I am the worst mariner in the whole ship. General, 


secretary, and aides-de-camp are all stouter, all better seamen 
than myself. If I make the same figui*e ashore, I shall acquire 
no great reputation by the voyage. The " Royal George " is 
one of the Sir Edward Hawke's seconds, is constantly on his 
larboard quarter, and very near, so that I have frequent oppor- 
tunities of asking for little Mason, and always hear that he is 
well, which will be the most pleasing intelligence to his mother. 
Little Gusty is in the " Burford,"" and a hardy seaman. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

To HIS Father. 

OiF the Isles of Rh6 and Oleron, 2l6'^ September, 1767. 

Dear Sir, — Yesterday morning the fleet made the land of 
the Isle of Rhe, and in the afternoon Vice- Admiral Knowles was 
detached with his division to go within the Pertuis d'Antioche,^ 
and see what anchoring there was for the fleet ; and I suppose 
he had orders to attack any fortifications or batteries of the 
enemy that might incommode us at an anchor, or prevent 
landing. While the Vice- Admiral was getting on to put these 
orders into execution, a large French man-of-war bore down into 
the middle of the fleet, — a ship supposed to be homeward bound 
from the East or West Indies, — upon which three ships of his 
division were directed to chase. They did so, and drove the 
French ship in with the shore above the river of Bordeaux, and 
there our great ships were obliged to leave her. This chase put 
an end to the operations of yesterday. As soon as the chasing 
ships returned this morning, it was resolved that the whole fleet 
should go down and anchor in the Basque Road, from whence 
we may attack either of these two islands [Rhe or Oleron], 
Rochelle or Rochefort. A disposition was made, and the Vice- 
AdmiraPs division led in. Just as the whole fleet was getting 
within the Pertuis the wind took them short, and they were 
obliged to stand out again ; and here we are now, beating on 
and off*, waiting for a better day and a more favourable gale. 

Since I writ my mother's letter we have had variety of 
winds, but in general moderate weather, and nothing remarkable 
but the circumstance of that ship's running in amongst us, and 
escaping by half an hour. It is believed that she would have 
been a very rich prize. The inhabitants are alarmed ; they 

^ The channel between the islands Rhe and Oleron. See map, overleaf. 


fired guns all along the coast last night, and we now see the 
smoke rising upon the sea-shore, as a signal, no doubt, of our 
appearance. These delays on our side, after notice given to the 
enemy, may have ill consequences ; but they are such as, I 
suppose, were not easily to be avoided. We are come to an 
anchor in the Bay of Biscay (a thing uncommon), off the Isle of 
Rhe, in readiness to push in early in the morning. Sir Edward 
[Hawke] seems determined to do everything that can be done 
upon this occasion consistent with his orders and instructions, 
and the safety of the fleet. 

22nd, — We are now at an anchor within the Pertuis 
d''Antioche, between the isles of Rhe and Oleron, waiting for a 
breeze of wind to go down upon the Isle d'Aix, which is in sight; 
but it is a perfect calm, and our whole force immovable. 

23rd, in the morning, — All still at an anchor, the inhabitants 
of Rhe working hard at their entrenchments along the shore, to 
prevent our landing. The " Medway,"*' " Achilles," and a fire- 
ship ordered to burn a French Ship-of-war behind the Isle d'Aix 
as soon as Admiral Knowles"* division begins the attack. 

Howe greatly added to his reputation by his conduct in this 
business. In spite of their youth, had these two men the conduct 
of the Rochefort affair it would have had a very different ending. Of 
Howe, Walpole says he was as " undaunted as a rock and as silent ; 
the characteristics of his whole race. He and Wolfe soon contracted 
a friendship, like the union of a cannon and gunpowder.'' 

Wolfe's prognostications were to be fulfilled to the letter. 
Mordaunt knew from a report in his possession that the enemy 
had only 10,000 men on the entire coast, yet he and Conway per- 
sisted in thinking a landing desperate, although the chances were 
that they would be opposed by only a handful of men. Enormous 
importance was attached to surprising the enemy, as if surprise 
were an essential part of the plan. Ligonier, his chief at the 
Horse Guards, had reminded Mordaunt that it was not an essential 
point. But what was vital was to land and strike at the enemy, 
whether he knew the British were coming or not. As a matter 
of fact, we know now the defenders of Rochefort were in a panic : 
and had Mordaunt struck, it would, as they said themselves, have 
been " all over with the port of Rochefort." Hawke hung about 
for two precious days. 

" It is difficult," says Mr. Corbett, " conceding all that can be 
urged in Hawke's favour, to avoid the impression that in the 


handling of the fleet at this time there was to some degree a lack 
of that hardness of grip, that directness of aim, that colour of 
audacity which are the soul of such operations/' ^ 
In his letter to his father Wolfe continues — 

Isle d'Aix, 2Brd, in the evening, — The fort of the Isle d'Aix 
taken by Captain Howe, in the " Magnanime,"" with a few distant 
shot from the "Barfleur." There were five great ships upon 
this business ; but as Captain Howe led, he saved the rest the 
trouble of battering, and confounded the defendants to that 
degree with the vivacity of his fire that they deserted thirty 
pieces of cannon and eight mortars, and struck after thirty-five 
minutes of resistance. There were 500 men in the fort of which 
very few were killed ; and the " Magnanime " lost but three 
killed, and eight or ten wounded. Mr. Howe''s manner of going 
down upon the enemy, and his whole proceeding, have raised the 
opinion people had of his courage and abilities to a very high 
pitch. The ship which Sir Edward ordered to be burned was 
further off than he imagined, and even now we perceive her to 
be within the mouth of the Charente. 

We are preparing to land somewhere between Rochelle and 
Rochefort, for the sake of mischief more than any success we can 
propose to ourselves after such long preparations and notice to 
the enemy. I believe the expedition will end in our landing and 
fighting, and then returning to our ships ; and we may bombard 
Rochelle, put the isles of Rhe and Oleron under contribution, 
blow up the fortress of the Isle d'Aix, and spread terror all along 
the coast. If we had set out upon this business in time, I 
believe we should have been thought very troublesome. This is 
a most pleasing climate, and the grapes upon the Isle d'Aix are 
exceedingly delicious, especially to a sick stomach. I have been 
told that General Conway, with three battalions, went down 
with Mr. Knowles' division to assist in the attack ; but they were 
not wanted, only to take possession and guard the prisoners, 
who were used with all possible humanity by Captain Howe. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Wolfe resolved to do something. It was intolerable that 
nothing should be done. His friendship with Sir John Mordaunt 
enabled him boldly to prefer a request which in ordinary circum- 

1 England in the Seven Years' War, p. 212. 


stances would not have been granted. It might have been considered 
presumptuous to a degree. He asked to be allowed to go ashore 
and reconnoitre the country the moment the fortress of Aix fell. 
Mordaunt, fearing to deny any request to such an ardent soldier, 
granted his wish. Wolfe therefore got into a boat and hung about 
until the white flag flew and then landed. He went straight to 
that part of the fortifications facing the mainland, climbed alone 
up to a battered bastion and pointed his telescope carefully for 
an hour. In the near distance he examined the sandy promontory 
of Fouras, guarded by a small fort. It was useless to attempt 
to capture Rochefort while this fort was in the way. More- 
over, northward lay another low promontory midway between 
Rochelle and Rochefort which his trained eye saw at once would 
furnish an excellent landing for the force. This was marked 
" Chattelaiellon ''' on his chart. Hastily jotting down the result of 
his observations he got back into the boat and rowed back to the 
Ramillies, where he made his report to the leaders of the expedition, 
Hawke and Mordaunt. 

Briefly, his opinion was that Fouras, whose situation and 
strength he detailed, must be battered to pieces. This could be 
compassed by a single man-of-war ; the attempt would cause a 
sufficient diversion, imder cover of which the troops could land at 
Chattelaiellon. The Admiral was instantly struck by the plan ; 
the General also gave his adhesion, expressing a hope that the 
Huguenot pilot Thierry knew just what was the depth of water off* 
Fouras, to enable the Magnanime to approach close to the fort. 
Wolfe now broke in with a fui-ther suggestion, to the effect that a 
diversion by means of bomb ketches on the Rochelle side would 
still further divide the enemy's attention. On Hawke's assenting to 
this, Wolfe observed, " Then, sir, not a moment is to be lost." 
Sending for Thierry, the pilot, while the bomb ketches were being 
got ready, the Admiral questioned him closely. The pilot grasped 
Wolfe's idea at once ; it would be quite possible to take the ship 
close up to Fouras and under cover of it land troops on both sides 
of the fort. But Hawke was not wholly convinced, probably hating 
to be " rushed " by a mere land officer. That was where Hawke 
made his mistake. Wolfe was not merely a land soldier. He was 
a warrior with a genius for amphibious warfare, destined shortly 
to leave " the reputation of being the greatest master of combined 
strategy the world had seen since Drake took the art from its 
swaddling clothes." ^ 

1 Corbett, p. 221. 


Wolfe was a believer in the moral impetus, and it fretted his 
soul to see the chances of success slipping away. Hawke finally 
agreed to the proposal as regards Fouras but not to the Rochelle 
diversion. He sent up Brodrick to find a landing-place for the 
troops, this being in Mordaunfs opinion purely " sailor*'s business."" 
Brodrick came back on the day following (the 24th), to say he had 
found a place where Mordaunt could land his troops without so 
much as wetting their shoes. Hawke expected Mordaunt would 
avail himself of the opportunity. But what Mordaunt actually 
did was to call a council of war for the following morning. Here 
they discussed the chances for and against escalading the ditch at 
Rochefort, and finally decided the chances would be against them. 
Hawke, it was thought, would be unable to get the troops back safe 
again on board in case of a failure. Their decision was confirmed 
by Hawke's detachment to take Foiu-as getting aground. 

Not alone in his exasperation was Wolfe. The common 
soldiers and sailors were infuriated at being brought up to the very 
nose of their prey and having to sail back to England without even 
an attempt to thrust at him. True, Hawke for his part wished 
the troops to land, but instead of exerting a cordial co-operation 
and so making a unit of the expedition, he held aloof on the ground 
that he "was no judge of land operations" and the military arm 
must get out of the business as best it might. This was the old 
attitude of Cathcart and Vernon and the Cartagena expedition ; in 
fact it was the attitude of most military and naval commanders 
serving in joint expeditions. What a different spectacle was Wolfe 
to bequeath to history ! 

So intense was the feeling now manifested in both Army and 
Navy that the generals resolved at last to make the attempt that 
very night. Mordaunt, to prove that he was not animated by 
cowardice, announced his intention to lead the first division in 
person. Brodrick was told off to superintend the landing of the 
men. At midnight on the 28th the boats were filled. There was 
a high wind and surf, but the troops were eager to land and could 
not understand why they should remain tossed about in the billows 
for three mortal hours for the word to be given. When it came 
they could hardly believe it. The astonished Colonel in command 
insisted on examining the GeneraFs signature by lantern light. It 
was " Return to the transports." It is useless to pierce the motives 
for such vacillation and pusillanimity. 

Conway and Wolfe were ordered to make still another 
reconnoitre at daybreak. Such foolery as this was too much for 


Hawke. If, said he, the militaiy part of the expedition had no 
further use for his services he would sail back to England. In vain 
Mordaunt besought a joint council to consider the matter. As if 
the matter had not been enough considered ! As if every seaman 
and soldier was not sick unto death of such insane procrastination ! 
Hawke refused, and at another council Mordaunt, Conway and 
Comwallis decided finally to give up the attempt. 

To HIS Father. 

Rade des Basques, 30iA September, 1757. 

Dear Sir, — By the " Viper "" sloop I have the displeasure to 
inform you that our operations here are at an end. We lost the 
lucky moment in war, and are not able to recover it. The whole 
of this expedition has not cost the nation ten men, nor has any 
man been able to distinguish himself in the service of his 
country, except Mr. Howe, who was a great example to us all. 
We shall follow close if the weather favours, and return to 
England with reproach and dishonour ; though, in my mind, 
there never was in any troops, sea and land, a better disposition 
to serve. 

So all sailed home, and the miserable Rochefort expedition came 
to a miserable end. It was not all in vain. England cried out at 
the folly and expense of it all, for it had cost a million of money. 
Pitt was in an agony, the King was furious, Frederick was disgusted. 
But the lesson of it had sunk deep into one man''s heart and brain — 
so deep that it took root and blossomed forth with results full of 
use and glory to the Empire, and this man was James Wolfe. 



The failure of the Rochefort expedition upon the success of 
which he had set so much store bade fair to unseat Pitt just as he had 
got well into the saddle. But his sincerity and enthusiasm pre- 
vailed. When Parliament met he proved to the satisfaction of the 
country, if not to that of the Old Gang, that the Rochefort design was 
in Rodney's phrase), " wise, prudent and well-timed," ^ and ought to 
have succeeded but for the " determined resolution of both naval 
and military commanders against any vigorous exertion of the 
national power." He declared that he could scarce find one man to 
whom he could confidently entrust any design which carried the 
least appearance of danger. With a force much greater than the 
nation had ever maintained and a government ardently desirous 
of redeeming her glory and promoting her welfare, a shameful dis- 
like to the service everywhere prevailed. 

Out of the disaster, upon which an inquiry was ordered to be 
held, Pitt wrested signal advantage in putting the services more 
thereafter on their mettle and in instituting an instant reform of 
current abuses. It was not his fault, but the fault of the instru- 
ments at his hand, bequeathed him by his predecessors. Such he 
was resolved not to employ again. He had told Parliament he 
could scarce find one reliable man. He soon found one. His 
glance had fallen upon his Quartermaster-General at Rochefort, 
and he knew now where to find a capable officer when he wanted 

On landing Wolfe went straight to Blackheath only to find 
his parents at Bath. Already become a notable man, he found 
people eager to learn his version of the fiasco. Concerning his next 
step, he was uncertain. He believed the Colonelcy he regarded as 
inseparable from his Irish appointment was yet remote, because 
another Lieutenant-Colonel, his junior in service, if not in years, 
had been preferred instead. He thereupon instantly wrote to 
Barrington, the Secretary at War, resigning his post of Quarter- 
master-General of Ireland. He also wrote to his mother — 

1 Almon, vol. i. p. 332. 


To HIS Mother. 

Blacklieatli, Hth October, 1757. 

Dear Madam, — To save myself the trouble of answering 
questions, and for the sake of fresh air and exercise, I have taken 
up my quarters at your house, and, with Miss Eleanor's ^ assist- 
ance, am like to do well. By the bye, her husband was very 
useful to me on board the " Ramillies.'*'' I was glad you were 
gone to the Bath, though I lost the pleasure of seeing you for a 
time. It is a little melancholy to be left alone, especially to 
one who w^as a witness of our late miscarriage. By this trial I 
find that the cheerfullest temper requires the aid and prop 
of society. When Fran9oise comes to know what I would have 
for dinner, he distresses me with the question. Whenever I 
keep house, somebody must direct, for I cannot. 

As to the expedition, it has been conducted so ill that I am 
ashamed to have been of the party. The public could not do 
better than dismiss six or eight of us from the service. No zeal, 
no ardour, no care or concern for the good and honour of the 
country. I have began to dismiss myself by surrendering up 
my office of Quartermaster-General for Ireland. They thought 
proper to put a younger lieutenant-colonel over me, and I 
thought it proper to resign. My Lord Barrington says he has 
nothing to do with Irish affairs, so refers me to Mr. Secretary 
Rigby ; ^ but his Lordship desires me to suspend my operations 
for a few days, which accordingly I do. I will certainly not go 
to Ireland without the rank of Colonel, and am indifferent 
whether I get it or not. I can't part with my other employ- 
ment, because I have nothing else to trust to ; nor do I think it 
consistent with honour to sneak off in the middle of a war. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Naturally, " Uncle Wat *" was anxious to hear all about Roche- 
fort from his nephew, and was not disappointed. 

To Major Walter Wolfe. 

Blacklieatli, 18^A October, 1757. 

Dear Sir, — "Nous avons manque un beau coup," as the 
French prisoners told us, after we had loitered away three or four 

1 Eleanor Wliite_, a domestic to whom Mrs. Wolfe bequeathed, in 1764, 
an annuity of £20. 

^ Richard Rigby, the son of a linendraper who had enriched himself 
as a South Sea Company factor, was now Secretary to the Duke of Bedford 
in Ireland. 


days in consultations, deliberations, and councils of war. The 
season of the year and nature of the enterprise called for the 
quickest and most vigorous execution, whereas our proceedings 
were quite otherwise. We were in sight of the Isle of Rhe, the 
20th September, consequently were seen by the enemy (as their 
signals left us no room to doubt), and it was the 23rd before we 
fired a gun. That afternoon and night slipped through our 
hands, — the lucky moment of confusion and consternation among 
our enemies. The 24th, — Admirals and Generals consult to- 
gether, and resolve upon nothing between them but to hold a 
council of war. The 25th, — this famous coimcil sat from morn- 
ing till late at night, and the result of the debates was unani- 
mously not to attack the place they were ordered to attack, and 
for reasons that no soldier will allow to be sufficient. The 26th, 
— the Admiral sends a message to the General, intimating that 
if they did not determine to do something there, he would go to 
another place. The 27th, — the Generals and Admirals view the 
land with glasses, and agree upon a second council of war, having 
by this time discovered their mistake. The 28th, — they deliber- 
ate, and resolve to land that night. Orders are issued out 
accordingly, but the wind springing up after the troops had been 
two or three hours in the boats, the officers of the navy declare 
it difficult and dangerous to attempt the landing. The troops 
are commanded back to their transports, and so ended the ex- 
pedition ! The true state of the case is, that our sea-officers do 
not care to be engaged in any business of this sort, where little 
is to be had but blows and reputation ; and the officers of the 
infantry are so profoundly ignorant, that an enterprise of any 
vigour astonishes them to that degree that they have not strength 
of mind nor confidence to carry it through. 

I look upon this as the greatest design that the nation has 
engaged in for many years, and it must have done honour to us 
all, if the executions had answered the intentions of the pro- 
j ector. The Court of Versailles, and the whole French nation, were 
alarmed beyond measure. "Les Anglois ont attrape notre 
foible,'"* disent-ils. Alas! we have only discovered our own. 
I see no remedy, for we have no officers from the Commander-in- 
Chief down to Mr. Webb and Lord Howe ; and the navy list 
is not much better. If they would even blunder on and fight 
a little, making some amends to the public by their courage for 
their want of skill; but this excessive degree of caution, or 
whatever name it deserves, leaves exceeding bad impressions 


among the troops, who, to do them justice, upon this occasion 
showed all the signs of spirit and goodwill. My health is a 
little injured by this summer's inactivity, as I have not been able 
to get ten times on horseback ; and I am here alone, partly to 
save myself the trouble of answering questions, and partly for 
air and exercise. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Your obedient Nephew, 

James Wolfe. 

A few days later he learnt that his grounds of complaint against 
the higher powers were unfounded. It was far from the Kiiig''s 
intention, after Wolfe"'s conduct at Rochefort, to refuse him the 
long-wished-for Colonelcy. A new regiment should be called into 
existence, the 67th (Hampshire), and Wolfe should command it. 

To HIS Fathee. 

Blackheath, 21st October, 1757. 

Dear Sir, — Mr. Fisher writes me word that the King has 
been pleased to give me the rank of Colonel, which at this time 
is more to be prized than any other, because it carries with it 
a favourable appearance as to my conduct upon this late expedi- 
tion, and an acceptance of my good intentions. I am something 
indebted to Sir Edward Hawke for having spoken to Lord 
Anson, who took the trouble to repeat it to the King. I shall 
ask Sir John Ligonier''s commands to-morrow whether I go to 
the regiment or to Ireland.^ There is a storm gathering over 
the head of my imfortunate friend [Cornwallis], such a one as 
must necessarily crush him ; though, in my mind, he acted in 
this affair but a second part. That, as far as I am able, I shall 
always be ready to assert, and will give him the best hints in my 
power for his defence. This must remain a secret between us, 
because I know he is ill-used and artfully ruined, after suffering 
himself to be misled by an over-fair opinion of his guide.^ 

Amongst the regiments taking part in the late expedition was 
the 8th, Lieutenant-General Wolfe's regiment, actually com- 

^ Ligonier had been appointed Commander-in-Chief in succession to the 
Duke of Cumberland. Not long afterwards he was created an Irish peer^ 
Viscount Ligonier of Enniskillen. 

2 The Hon. Cornwallis escaped, together with Conway, any further 
penalty. He rose to be Lieutenant-General and died Governor of Gibraltar, 


manded by Lieutenant-Colonel Lafausille. The latter officer had 
spent most of the time between the 20th and 29th September in 
his cabin suffering from lumbago. Disgusted with the whole affair, 
the old General wrote to his lieutenant-colonel for a report. 
Lafausille, perhaps equally disgusted, referred the General to his 
son. Lafausille and Wolfe had long been friends, but this was a 
little more than the new Colonel could brook. 

To HIS Father. 

Blackheath, 2Uh October, 1757. 

Dear Sir, — 'Tis an admirable circumstance for Lafausille to 
ask me about an expedition that he himself was engaged in. 
His lumbago left him very a propos for just as he got to the 
Basque Road he revived. One's native air has surprising effects ! 
All that I can tell about it is, that we blundered most egre- 
giously on all sides — sea and land ; that we lost three days with- 
out and three within, and consequently couldn't propose to march 
to Paris this season. I believe the country is not able to bear 
many jokes of this sort ; nor have the fleets and arms of this 
nation reputation enough to excuse now and then a faux pas. 
However, let justice be done to the executive part ; the sea- 
men and soldiers in general were most desirous and most earnest 
for employment. These disappointments, I hope, won't affect 
their courage ; nothing, I think, can hurt their discipline — it is 
at its worst. They shall drink and swear, plunder and massacre 
with any troops in Europe, the Cossacks and Calmucks them- 
selves not excepted ; with this difference, that they have not 
quite so violent an appetite for blood and bonfires. 

Sir John Ligonier's commission, appointing him Commander- 
in-Chief of the armies of Britain, is come out, or to come out 
suddenly under the broad seal of England. I shall pay my duty 
to our new General, and inform myself whether I may set out for 
Ireland or not, taking the Bath in my way. I dine with Sir 
Gregory ^ to-morrow ; he and my Lady Page are veiy solicitous 
for your welfare. 

But it is in the letter to Rickson that Wolfe opens up his heart 
about the Rochefort expedition — 

^ Sir Gregory Page, Bart., a wealthy Indian merchant, whose splendid 
seat, Wricklesmarsh, was near Blackheath. On Sir Gregory's death in 1775, 
his nephew and heir sold the estate, the mansion was pulled down and the 
pictures and sculpture dispersed. 


To Major Rickson. 

Blackheath, 6th November ^ VJ5>I. 

Dear Rickson, — I thank you very heartily for your welcome 
back. I am not sorry that I went, notwithstanding what has 
happened ; one may always pick up something useful from 
amongst the most fatal errors. I have found out that an 
Admiral should endeavour to run into an enemy''s port immedi- 
ately after he appears before it ; that he should anchor the trans- 
port ships and frigates as close as he can to the land ; that he 
should reconnoitre and observe it as quick as possible, and lose 
no time in getting the troops on shore ; that previous directions 
should be given in respect to landing the troops, and a proper 
disposition made for the boats of all sorts, appointing leaders and 
fit persons for conducting the different divisions. On the other 
hand, experience shows me that, in an affair depending upon 
vigour and dispatch, the Generals should settle their plan of 
operations, so that no time may be lost in idle debate and con- 
sultations when the sword should be drawn ; that pushing on 
smartly is the road to success, and more particularly so in an 
affair of this nature ; that nothing is to be reckoned an obstacle 
to your undertaking which is not found really so upon trial ; 
that in war something must be allowed to chance and fortune, 
seeing it is in its nature hazardous, and an option of difficulties ; 
that the greatness of an object should come under consideration, 
opposed to the impediments that lie in the way ; that the honour 
on one"'s country is to have some weight ; and that, in particular 
circumstances and times, the loss of a thousand men is rather 
an advantage to a nation than otherwise, seeing that gallant 
attempts raise its reputation and make it respectable ; whereas 
the contrary appearances sink the credit of a country, ruin 
the troops, and create infinite uneasiness and discontent at 

I know not what to say, my dear Rickson, or how to account 
for our proceedings, imless I own to you that there never was 
people collected together so unfit for the business they were sent 
upon — dilatory, ignorant, irresolute, and some grains of a very 
unmanly quality, and very unsoldier-like or unsailor-like. I have 
already been too imprudent ; I have said too much, and people 
make me say ten times more than I ever uttered ; therefore, 
repeat nothing out of my letter, nor name my name as author of 
any one thing. The whole affair turned upon the impracticability 
of escalading Rochefort ; and the two evidences brought to prove 

Z 2 


that the ditch was wet (in opposition to the assertions of the 
chief engineer, who had been in the place) are persons to whom, 
in my mind, very little credit should be given ; without these 
evidences we should have landed, and must have marched to 
Rochefort, and it is my opinion that the place would have 
surrendered, or have been taken, in forty-eight hours. It is cer- 
tain that there was nothing in all that country to oppose 9000 
good Foot — a million of Protestants, upon whom it is necessary 
to keep a strict eye, so that the garrison could not venture to 
assemble against us, and no troops, except the militia, within any 
moderate distance of these parts. 

Little practice in war, ease and convenience at home, great 
incomes, and no wants, with no ambition to stir to action are not 
the instruments to work a successful war withal ; I see no prospect 
of better deeds. I know not where to look for them, or from 
whom we may expect them. Many handsome things would have 
been done by the troops had they been permitted to act. As it 
is, Captain Howe carried off all the honour of his enterprise . . . 
notwithstanding that scribbling . . . been pleased to lie about 
that fort and the attack of it. 

This disaster in North America,^ unless the French have driven 
from their anchors in the harbour of Louisbourg, is of the most 
fatal kind ; whatever diminishes our naval force tends to our 
ruin and destruction. God forbid that any accident should 
befall our fleet in the bay ! The Duke's resignation may be 
reckoned an addition to our misfortunes ; he acted a right part, 
but the country will suffer by it. 

Yours, my dear Rickson, 

Very Affectionately, 

J. W. 

Of this letter a modern critic of strategy, especially of naval 
warfare, remarks — 

" It would be impossible to measure with more masterly suc- 
cinctness the sacred principles, both practical and moral, which 
should govern such an expedition. The whole is a priceless docu- 
ment, coming as it does from the hand of one who was to carry 
those principles to such glorious fruition.'" He adds with reference 
to warfare to-day, that " every commander to whom such operations 
are committed, might do worse than lay it under his pillow.*" ^ 

1 The capture by the French under Montcalm of Fort William Henry 
and the subsequent massacre. See post, p. 443. 

2 Corbett, England in the Seven Years' War. 


Two or three days after Wolfe wrote Rickson a Board of 
Inquiry into the Rochefort Expedition met. To Wolfe, who was 
summoned to give evidence, nothing could have been more dis- 

To HIS Mother. 

Blackheath, 8 November , 1757. 

Deae Madam, — My not hearing from Bath does not alarm me 
so much as it does some of the neighbourhood, for they do not 
know that your fingers won't always obey your inclinations, and 
that the General desires to be excused from the trouble. I have 
been told that you were both in the rooms lately, which makes 
me easy about your health ; it proves the efficacy and goodness 
of your medicine, and I hope you will persevere in the use of it, 
as long as it can be of the least service to you. 

I have a summons to attend the Board of General Officers, who 
are appointed to enquire into the causes of the failure of the 
late expedition ; they begin their examination to-morrow, and I 
suppose will not end it soon. Better and more honourable for 
the country if the one half of us had gone the great road of 
mortality together, than to be plagued with inquiries and 
censures and the cry of the world. 

I wish you both well — beg my duty to the General and am, 
dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate son, 

Jam : Wolfe. 
To Mrs. Wolfe, 
Bath, Somerset. 

The board consisted of Lieutenant-General the Duke of Marl- 
borough, Major-General Lord George Sackville, and Major-General 
Waldegrave, and before them when they assembled at the house of 
the Judge Advocate- General appeared the delinquents Mordaunt, 
Conway, and Cornwallis. Not until the 14th was Wolfe examined. 

Colonel Wolfe was then called in at the General's request and 
examined as to his opinion about landing and the attack of Fort 
Fouras, which was intended as a place of retreat if the troops should 
not succeed in the attack of Rochefort. On this examination the 
Colonel said the men might have landed near Chatelaiellon notwith- 
standing the battery of six guns at Fouras Point ; but that their 
landing might have been prevented by so small a force as one 
thousand foot and three or four hundred horse, because there were 
many sandhills, which the forces at landing would be obliged to 


climb. As to Fort Fouras, he said it was his opinion that it 
might have been carried by storm, as to the best of his knowledge 
it was a weak one, there being only a platform of twenty-four 
embrasures toward the water side, and as it was on a peninsula it 
might be attacked on all sides, while the ships lay before it ; 
that Howe had offered to take it with his ship, and that he 
proposed a feint towards Rochelle and the isle of Rhe during the 
landing and attack. The Colonel was then ordered to withdraw, 
and the board proceeded to the examination of Admiral Knowles, 
who affirmed that Fouras could not be annoyed or battered by the 
ships, for that a bomb could not be thrown more than two miles 
and three-quarters.^ 

On the 21st the board rendered its report to the King. The 
expedition against Rochefort had been frustrated, chiefly, they said, 
because the plan of attacking Fort Fouras by sea and land simul- 
taneously had not been followed. This plan of Colonel Wolfe''s 
" certainly must have been of the greatest utility towards carrying 
your Majesty's instructions into execution.'' ^ 

Another cause of the failxu'e was that " instead of attempting to 
land when the report was received on the 24th of September from 
Rear- Admiral Brodrick and the captains who had been sent out to 
sound and reconnoitre, a council of war was summoned and held on 
the 25th in which it was unanimously resolved not to land," although 
there were neither troops nor batteries on shore to prevent such a 
landing. As to the council of war on the 28th, the board foimd 
that " no reason could have existed sufficient to prevent the attempt 
of landing the troops previous to that day, as the council then 
unanimously resolved to land with all possible dispatch." There 
were other contributory causes, but in the board's opinion the 
expedition had failed from the time the great object of it was laid 
aside in the council of war on the 25th.^ 

To HIS Mother. 

Blackheath;, 1st December, Vl6*J. 
Dear Madam, — I could not tell what was to become of me 
when I left Portsmouth, because I did not know ; but finding 

1 Gentleman^ s Magazine, 1757, p. 491. 
a Ihid., p. 628. 

2 It is interesting to read that " the inquiry being ended. Lord George 
Sackville made a short speech signifying that the most disagreeable thing, 
neoct to being tried himself, was that of being appointed to sit on an inquiry into 
the conduct of gentlemen whose courage and fidelity had been so often tried." 
In less than three years Sackville was himself court-martialled and expelled 
from the army. 


myself confined to the neighbourhood of London, and not being 
able to live there altogether, partly for health, and partly 
to save trouble, I came here. Mrs. Scott ^ assisted me with 
the few things that were wanting. My demands were very 
moderate, and the way of life here is exemplary, and without 
vanity I may say there is as good order almost, preserved in 
your family, in every respect, as if you yourself presided. I lie 
in your chamber, dress myself in the GeneraPs little parlour, and 
dine where you did. The most perceptible difference and change 
of affairs (exclusive of the bad table I keep) is the number of 
dogs in the yard ; but by coaxing Ball, and by rubbing his back 
with my stick, I have reconciled myself with the new ones, and 
put 'em in some measure under his protection. For this fort- 
night past I have lodgings in town, and live for the most part 
there ; and am glad when a fine day invites me to get on 
horseback and come here. My servants, clothes, etc., are 
all in London. When I mean to dine here, Ambrose, who 
is my running footman, comes before upon his legs (for 
we have Crichton's borrowed horse between us), and gets me 
something to eat. The next day he runs back with the same 
alacrity, and by that means preserves his own health and my 

This Court of Inquiry has kept us close, and now they talk 
of a general court-martial to try Sir John Mordaunt, who is in 
such a miserable state of health that I don't believe he will go 
through with it. Till that is over I'm still a prisoner, expecting, 
as before, to be called upon in evidence. When my family was 
here, Nelly made soup and Monsieur Fran9ois made houilli ; so, 
between your maids and my men, I lived very elegantly and very 
cheap. To-morrow I dine tete-a-tete in London, with my old 
friend Rich, who wants to know the short history of the expe- 
dition. At night I am to meet his guest, who is sent by the 
King of Prussia : Mr. Keith,^ our late envoy at Vienna ; a son of 
Field-Marshall Count Lacy's ; and Colonel Clarke, the engineer. 

^ To Mrs. Elizabeth Scott, mother of Major Scott, Mrs. Wolfe on her 
death bequeathed an annuity of £30. 

1 The Prussian envoy was Major Grant, aide-de-camp to Marshal Keith, 
who arrived with dispatches announcing the victory of Rosbach on the 
5th of November. Robert Keith was made Ambassador to Russia in 1758. 
and died in 1774. Count Lacey, whose son is here mentioned, was of 
Irish extraction, and a General in the Austrian service. He was brother of 
the Miss Lacey to whom Wolfe wrote just a decade before. Colonel Clarke 
was the author of the original report which led to the Rochefort expedition 
(see ante, p. 320). 


These, with myself, make five very odd characters, and for the 
oddity of the mixture I mention it to you. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

The court-martial of Mordaunt duly took place, but the imhappy 
General's state of health and the uncertainty whether Hawke was 
not equally deserving of censure, perhaps also Pitt's desire not to 
press matters further now that the lesson had been laid to heart by 
the joint services, resulted in his acquittal. For a week the King 
hesitated over approving the verdict, but eventually acquiesced. 

Before the Christmas holidays, according to his practice when- 
ever possible, Wolfe rejoined his parents, who were then at Bath. 
The General was seriously considering taking a house at that 
fashionable resort. His fighting days were over, and gout crept 
upon him apace. While at Bath, Wolfe is deeply interested in 
the progress of his new regiment, and delighted to get letters from 
one of the trustiest of his captains, Henry Parr, then recruiting at 
Wigan, Lancashire. Parr writes to tell him he is meeting with 
extra success owing to the reputation Wolfe has, by his late 
conduct, gained for himself. 

To Captain Parr. 

Bath, 2Qth December, 1757. 
"•^ Dear Parr, — I must proceed in a regular way to answer 
your letters, but concisely, because, like other great men, I have 
many to answer, and much business upon my hands. I have 
always time enough to read a friend's letter, therefore pray no 
attempt hereafter to excuse yourself from writing upon the 
supposition that I have not leisure to read. I look upon the 
proceedings of the Bay of Biscay as flowing from natural causes, 
and could have told you in the Isle of Wight (what I actually 
did to some who were in the secret), either that we should 
attempt nothing, or execute ill what we did attempt. I will be 
open enough and vain enough to tell you that there might be 
a lucky moment to be seized for the public service, which I 
watched for ; but it came too late, and there ended the reputation 
of three bad Generals. You must burn this insolent letter. 

Your success gives me double satisfaction, for the regiment 
and for yourself, and I know full well that you will omit nothing 
that may tend to improve or to continue it. I thank God our 
officers, and those who have left us, profess a sense of duty and 


spirit that needs no quickening, nor urging. I explained the 
nature of our discipline some days ago, to the Prince of Wales, 
who is extremely desirous of being informed of these sort of 
things. I told him that there was in the corps a necessary 
degree of obedience, joined with high spirit of service and love 
of duty, which he appeared to be greatly pleased, knowing well 
that from good indications, joined with order and discipline, 
great military performances usually spring. 

As I profess to introduce as many yomig gentlemen as I 
possibly can into the service, and to exclude canaille as much as 
in me lies, I am ready to give all possible assistance to the young 
man you speak of. I shall be glad to see him in London, and 
will put him in a way of succeeding as he desires ; but his 
relations should beware of sending him too soon into the world, 
and more especially as he has not some steady friend in London, 
by whose advice he may be guided, and by whose authority he 
may be led. A good education is the first thing to be thought 
of; after that, a profession suited to the inclinations or abilities 
of the young man. In the army, as well as in other professions, 
learning is absolutely necessary, and a year or two of improve- 
ment is better than one with the insignificant duty of the capital. 
You did not name the tutor in your letter. As to the Roman 
Catholic, if he is young and expresses a great desire to serve, I 
would overlook his mistake in point of faith. Maybe, by our 
good doctrine, life, and example, we may work his conversion ! 
One thing is certain, that we shall shake his present belief, 
whether we give him better and sounder notions or not. 

Yours affectionately, 

J. Wolfe. 

The interest of the foregoing letter is in the allusion to Wolfe's 
meeting with the patriotic and noble-hearted prince who afterwards 
became George III. Always taking a deep interest in the progress 
of the nation's arms, the Prince had sent for the Colonel to come 
to Leicester Fields and give him a full account of Rochefort. In 
fact, Wolfe was getting to be a little sick of Rochefort, so many 
people there were wanting to know the exact story of that ^vretched 
business. But he could not but be sensible to the honour done 
him by the heir-apparent, who afterwards testified to his regret 
that fate had claimed him before he could shed lustre on his own 
reign. We to-day may ask ourselves what would have happened 
had Wolfe survived to be the protagonist of Washington in 


America ! How differently would the scroll of history be written ! 
The blunders of Gage and Howe and Clinton and Cornwallis would 
at least never have been perpetrated by Wolfe, to whom war was 
always war conducted with zeal, elan^ and knowledge, no matter 
/who the adversary. 

Wolfe's eye was always upon America. His letters show that 
he recognized to the full as much as Pitt that yonder was the 
important theatre of operations — that there and not elsewhere the 
destinies of Europe must be fought out. And in America, where 
the French and English had been pitted against each other for 
months, the failure of the King's army was hardly less conspicuous 
than it had been in Europe. The results, indeed, were far worse. 

At present the Earl of Loudoun was Commander-in-Chief in 
America, whither he had been sent the previous year. But Loudoun, 
on his arrival late in the summer, quickly showed that he was no 
dashing soldier. While he did nothing but garrison a few forts 
the French showed more initiative, and with their redskin allies 
kept up a fierce guerilla warfare all winter. Settlements were 
raided and burnt, English settlers were scalped or carried off. 
Moreover, the French in Canada were now under the direction of 
an able, experienced and sympathetic soldier, later ordained by 
destiny to be the great protagonist of the hero of these pages, 
Louis Joseph de St. Veran, Marquis de Montcalm. 

In the summer of 1757 Montcalm marched his troops towards 
Fort William Henry, which was the outpost of the Colonies 
towards Canada, and driving the British army under Webb before 
him, attacked and captured the stronghold. 

This success naturally put the French in high feather and 
correspondingly depressed the British in America. The latter 
everywhere began to feel that a victory was necessary to restore 
their prestige. 

The French power in America was intolerable, and must be 
annihilated. " In America," wrote Pitt to his colleague, Newcastle, 
" England and Europe were to be fought for." To attempt this 
operation on a more extensive scale than it had ever been attempted 
was reserved for Chatham. He resolved to leave no stone im- 
turned that would achieve his end. Loudoun's incapacity being 
manifest, that General was therefore recalled, and an entirely new 
scheme of campaign devised, as well as instruments to carry it out. 
In this scheme three objects were comprehended, the separate 
reduction of Fort du Quesne, Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and 
Louisbourg. The first two tasks were entrusted respectively to 


Brigadier Forbes, Loudoun''s successor, and to General Abercrombie. 
As to the third object, the nature of the undertaking made the 
choice of leaders far more difficult and important. Louisbourg 
must be regained. Upon this fortress, built 1720-30, it was the 
boast of the French that a million and a quarter sterling had been 
expended. It was regarded from its position on the island of Cape 
Breton as the key to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the bulwark of 
Canada. Although supposed to be impregnable, yet it had been 
captured by a New England force in 1745, owing to the feebleness 
of the garrison ; but three years later it had been restored to 
France, a proceeding much against the grain of popular opinion.^ 

The military force of 11,000 destined for Louisbourg was less 
than Abercrombie''s, but it was to be a naval as well as a military 
expedition. It must not prove another Rochefort. Moreover, if 
Louisbourg were taken with dispatch, the combined naval and 
military force was designed to move at once on Quebec. 

To Admiral Edward Boscawen the minister entrusted the naval 
part of the business with some confidence ; but he was resolved to 
have nothing to do with the titled incapables pressed upon him by 
the War Office authorities. In Colonel Jeffrey Amherst, late com- 
missary to the Hessian contingent in British pay, he believed he 
had an officer who would do his work. Under Amherst, forthwith 
created a Major-General, three brigadiers were appointed, Whit- 
more (Governor of Nova Scotia), Lawrence (commander of the New 
York contingent), and James Wolfe (at present a Brevet-Colonel). 

From Exeter the new Brigadier wrote. 

To HIS Mother. 

Exeter, 7 Jan., 1757. 
Dear Madam, — Part in chaise and part on horseback I got 
myself conveyed to this place yesterday by 2 o'clock ; and this 
morning received a letter from London, that hurries me back to 
town. I set out to-morrow at 6 o'clock and shall hardly stop 
till I arrive at the great capital. Necessity obliged me to ride 
the same post horses for three and thirty miles, till we were all 
heartily tired ; and till my skin was thoroughly laid bare — 
however with the help of cooling diachylum, I shall proceed with 
all dispatch, and give you the earliest notice of my journeys end. 
The taking of Breslau completes the ruin of the Austrian arms,^ 

1 Louisbourg, we have been reminded, was to French Canada what Port 
Arthur was lately to Russia in Eastern Asia. 

2 Breslau had surrendered to Frederick on December 19, following upon 
the battle of Leuthen. 


and before the month of June, I conclude that the French will 
be driven over the Rhine. 

My duty to my father. I hope I did not disturb your pretty 
neighbours — you will be so good to make my excuses for any 
little annoyance of that sort unavoidable, though I gave strict 
orders not to interrupt their sleep. 

Your affect, son, 

J. Wolfe. 
To Mrs. Wolfe, 

This reference to Mrs. Wolfe's pretty neighbours is interesting 
in that one of them was none other than the beautiful and accom- 
plished Miss Katherine Lowther, sister of Sir James Lowther, 
afterwards first Earl of Lonsdale, a lady whose name will ever 
be linked with Wolfe's own. 

Wolfe's journey from Exeter to London was an almost record- 
breaking performance. The reason of his haste and an account of 
his journey he gives in his next letter. 

To HIS Father, 

London, Qth January, 1768. 

Dear Sir, — You won't expect to hear from me so soon, 
though you will not be much surprised at the celerity of my 
movements. Yesterday at five o'clock, I left Exeter, and was in 
town this day by one, — the distance 170 miles. I have seen 
nobody about business except Carleton, who informs me that 
things are going on. I met Amherst's regiment upon the march 
towards Portsmouth ; the first division at Bagshot. It was 
pretty dark last night, and I was obliged to have lights all over 
Salisbury Plain. About midway our candle went out, and we 
seemed at a stand, when the provident Fran9ois provided a 
tinder-box, struck a light, and we proceeded happily to our 
journey's end. He oflers his services to go along with me, 
which I am glad to accept of, and so my equippage stands 
complete. I was hurried from Exeter by a letter, intimating 
the sudden departure of our forces for North America. To- 
morrow will fix my affairs, and in a few days my baggage will 
begin to move. Prince Ferdinand retires before the French, who 
have passed the AUer in force. 

His friend Rickson had been for some time performing the 
duties of Deputy Quartermaster-General in Scotland and was very 


anxious to procure the regular appointment. The second paragraph 
of Wolfe's letter to him is in his most reckless vein. 

To Major Rickson. 

Blackheath, 12th January, 1768. 
Dear Rickson, — 

My services in this matter, and my credit with the reigning 
powers, are not worth your acceptance ; but such as they allow 
it to be, you are as welcome to as any living man. I can assure 
you that Davy [Watson] is double, and would shove you aside to 
make way for a tenth cousin : it becomes my Lord G. Beauclerk 
to confirm you in your office by asking and procuring a com- 
mission. If he is satisfied with your management, it is his duty 
to do it ; these mealy chiefs give up their just rights, and with 
them their necessary authority. The Commander in Scotland 
is the fittest person to recommend, and the best judge of the 
merits of those that serve under him. 

Though to all appearance I am in the very centre of business, 
yet nobody (from the indolent inattention of my temper) knows 
less of what is going on where I myself am not concerned. The 
proceedings in Parliament, intrigues of the parties, and the 
management of public affairs, are as much unknown to me as the 
business of a divan or seraglio. I live amongst men without 
desiring to be acquainted with their concerns ; things have their 
ordinary course, and I pass on with the current unheeding. 
Being of the profession of arms, I would seek all occasions to 
serve, and therefore have thrown myself in the way of the 
American war ; though I know that the very passage threatens 
my life, and that my constitution must be utterly ruined and 
undone, and this from no motive either of avarice or ambition. 

I am, dear Rickson, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 
To HIS Mother. 

Blackheath, Vjth January^ 1758. 

Dear Madam, — I seldom have business enough to excuse my 
not writing to you, and now have as little as most men. The 
public affairs are pretty much fixed, and my private matters are 
so far advanced that I reckon to be ready at least as soon as the 
squadron, which will hardly be in a condition to be put to sea 
till the latter end of next week, or the beginning of the follow- 
ing one. The GeneraFs letter of credit has enabled me to pro- 
ceed vigorously, and the more so as my coiTespondent in Ireland 


aff'ects some delay, which, without the timely interposition of 
Mr. Fisher might prejudice or check my proceedings.^ The two 
gentlemen with whom I transact business in that Kingdom, do 
not, I think, use me quite kindly, as one who has not neglected 
their interests might well expect ; but the members of a corrupt 
office are seldom free from the infection, and we are to look for 
such fruit as the soil and cultivation naturally produce. 

I don''t deserve so much consideration or concern as my 
father and you are so good as to express for me. He wishes 
rank for me ; and you, my preservation. All I wish for myself 
is, that I may at all times be ready and firm to meet that fate 
we cannot shun, and to die gracefully and properly when the 
hour comes, now or hereafter. A small portion of the good 
things of this world will fully satisfy my utmost desire. I would 
not be tempted to set an unjust value upon life ; nor would I 
wish to be thrown in the way of those trials which nature 
has not provided for. I mean that it would give me some 
concern to rise into a station that I knew myself unequal to. 
Upon recollection, it costs me dear to serve. d^200 the last 
affair ; d^500 or £600 now ; and an employment that I am 
about to resign, so that if we should miscarry, my condition 
will be desperate, and my finances exhausted. The ladies, too, 
will despise a beaten lover, so that every way I must be im- 
done. And yet I am run readily, heartily, and cheerfully into 
the road of ruin. If my thoughts could be greatly diverted 
from their present object, the youngest of your neighbours 
might rival my Lady Bath. My duty to the General. I 
wish you both all happiness. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

It is evident that his thoughts are even now beginning to turn 
towards Miss Lowther, but Cupid with him always gives way to 
the behests of Mars. 

To Major Walter Wolfe. 

Blackheath^ 2lst January, 1758. 

Dear Sir, — ^Though I have no reason to love the seas, or to 
wish to be employed upon expeditions of any kind, since I do 
not enjoy one hour's health from the moment I go on board till 
my return, and am not only disabled from all kinds of busi- 
ness, but suffer pain that cannot be expressed ; yet I readily 
1 His pay as Quartermaster-General. 


engage in anything that is going on, for the sake of employ- 
ment, flattering myself that in time I shall be able to over- 
come it, though hitherto I have found no relief. Another 
motive, too, pushes me on, which is, the desire of seeing some 
favourable change in our affairs, and the ambition of contri- 
buting something towards it. This far outweighs all consider- 
ations of advantage to myself, and gives me patience to bear my 
sufferings at sea. The King has honoured me with the rank of 
Brigadier in America, which I cannot but consider as a peculiar 
mark of his Majesty's favour and confidence, and I intend to do 
my best to deserve it. The squadron is almost ready to sail ; 
by the end of this month I reckon we shall get to sea. The 
reinforcements from England and Ireland consist of about 
five-or-six-and-twenty hundred men, two very good battalions 
we have, and the rest is la canaille from the second battalions 
upon this establishment. The regular forces in America 
amount already to upwards of 20,000 men, an army far over- 
matching the force of New France, and which undoubtedly 
should conquer Canada in two campaigns, if it was possible to 
subsist so great a corps together. 

You know in what a handsome manner the Duke of Bed- 
ford had offered me the employment of Quartermaster-General 
of Ireland. The handsomest thing I can do in return is to resign 
it, not being able to give that attention to it which the Duke 
had reason to expect, and had a right to expect from me. 
Accordingly I shall resign that appointment into the hands 
from whence I had it, and trust to Fortune for future provision. 
She is no great friend to the family, but has distinguished me at 
times by her smiles and favours ; so encouraged, I put myself 
entirely in her power. I am totally ignorant of the state of om* 
private concerns here, and have taken no precautions in case any 
accident should happen in my absence. I trust you will give the 
best advice to my mother, and such assistance, if it should be 
wanted, as the distance between you will permit. I mention this 
as the General seems to decline apace, and narrowly escaped 
being carried off in the spring ; and that proceeding from a 
cause which still subsists and will in time work its natural 
effects, — I mean his excessive indolence and inactivity. On my 
mother's side there is no friendship or connection, nor do I 
know anybody to whom she can apply but yourself. She, 
poor woman, is in a poor state of health, and needs the care of 


some friendly hand to prop up the tottering fabric. She has 
long and painful fits of illness, which, by succession and 
inheritance, are likely to devolve on me, since I feel the early 
symptoms of them. I wish you health and peace. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Five days after the date of this letter Wolfe resigned his Irish 
appointment. He could not, he said, in his letter to Bedford, give 
sufficient attention to the duties now that the King had been 
pleased to allow him to serve in America.^ 

To THE Duke of Bedford. 

London, January 26th, 1758. 

My Lord, — The manner in which your Grace honoured me 
with the employment of Quartermaster-General of Ireland, would 
have engaged me to make the best of my power, in that my duty 
and inclinations went heartily together, and should have been 
happy in every opportunity of paying the readiest obedience to 
your Grace's commands ; but, as his Majesty has been pleased 
to allow me to serve him in America, I think it right to resign 
my employment in Ireland into your Grace's hands, from whom 
I received it ; and to whom I shall upon that, and upon many 
other accounts, always look upon myself to be highly indebted 
and obliged. It is a mortification to have been so long in that 
office, and so useless, and the more especially as under your 
Grace's government such reformations are more likely to be 
brought about, which are most necessary. Every occasion of 
paying my respects to your Grace and of acknowledging with 
gratitude the favour and honour you have done me, will be most 
readily embraced by me. 

I beg to be permitted to offer your Grace my sincerest wishes 
for your health, and to assure your Grace that I have the honour 
to be, etc., etc., 

James Wolfe.^ 

Although one of Mrs. Wolfe's nephews, a son of Tindal 
Thompson, had not reflected much credit upon the family, his aunt 
was nevertheless anxious to have him enter the army through her 
husband's or her son's influence. But Wolfe could never overlook 

^ Wolfe's commission as Brigadier-General is dated " St. James's, 23rd 
January, 1768/' and is countersigned "W. Pitt." 
^ Bedford Correspondence, vol. ii. p. 319. 


Fi-om the portrait painted ly Gainsboi-ough for Miss Lowther, and noio in the possession oj 
Mrs. Horace Pym, Brasted. Kent 


weakness or meanness of character even in his relations. In a letter 
to his mother he uses some pretty plain speaking, for which he was 
certain of shai-p rebuke. 

To HIS Mother. 

January 25th, 1758. 

Dear Madam, — You cannot doubt my readiness to oblige 
you in anything that is of immediate concern to yourself; but 
you must not put me upon actions that I should blush to engage in, 
and that my uncle should blush to ask. I never can recommend 
any but a gentleman to serve with gentlemen. There is little 
prospect of a low dog's doing any shining act. When such a 
thing does happen a regard is due to merit ; so unexpected 
courage alone is no sort of recommendation to put a private 
soldier upon the footing of an officer. I don't apprehend that Mr. 
Thompson addresses himself to me, or that he has any just right to 
expect that I should interest myself in behalf of an idle vagabond ; 
for such he must be, by the expression of his letter. I will write 
a civil letter to my uncle, which may serve as an apology for the 
General and myself. 

I shall pay every shilling that I owe upon the whole earth, 
and shall leave all the receipts with Miss Brett, directed for you ; 
so that the only running open account is Mr. Fisher's, and that, 
I believe, if my Irish remittances come in time, will not go very 
deep. Of late, no thought of matrimony ; I have no objection 
to it, but differ much from the general opinion about it. The 
greatest consideration with me is the woman, her education and 
temper. Rank and fortune never come into any competitino 
with the person. Any bargain on that affair is base and mean. 
I could not with any satisfaction consider my children as the 
produce of such an unnatural union. I shall set out for Ports- 
mouth in four or five days. The King has refused Carleton leave 
to go, to my very great grief and disappointment, and with 
circumstances extremely unpleasant to him. Lord Fitzmaurice 
asked to serve the campaign in North America. His Majesty 
did not absolutely refuse it, but spoke handsomely, and put it 
upon the footing of service nearer home. 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Wolfe had been very keen on having his friend Carleton 
accompany him. The other friend he mentions, .Lord Fitzmam-ice, 
then a lieutenant of twenty-one, became, three years later, Earl of 

A A 


Shelburne, and was afterwards Prime Minister and the first 
Marquess of Lansdowne. 

A few days further elapsed and the new Brigadier had got his 
outfit together in London and set out for Portsmouth. There he 
found a letter awaiting him from his mother, upbraiding him in 
measured terms for his harsh expressions concerning young 

To HIS Mother. 

Portsmouth, 1^^ February, 1758. 
Dear Madam, — I take nothing ill from you, nor from any- 
body, that is not meant as ill. What I said upon my uncle 
Tin"*s letter arises from the frankness of my temper. When I 
have good reasons I don't conceal them. It is a public loss 
Carleton's not going. Prejudices against particular people often 
hurt the common cause. Misrepresentations, falsities, injustice, 
are too frequent to create any degree of surprise. Princes, of all 
people, see the least into the true characters of men. I came 
here this morning, two or three days sooner than was necessary ; 
but a man in London, upon the point of his departure, leads a 
weary life, so I was glad to get out of town. The transports, 
with Amherst**s regiment and those for Ireland, are supposed to 
have got out of the channel, and 'tis well, for the wind, as it 
blows here, would otherwise force them back again. 

Our hero could hardly leave England without anxiety for his 
parents. His father was now approaching his seventy-fourth year 
and rapidly failing, and his mother's health was much affected. 
With these feelings of solicitude again he writes to his earliest and 
still his warmest friend, George Warde, now major of a troop of 
cavalry stationed at Winton.^ 

To Major George Warde. 

London, 1 Feb., 1758. 

My dear Major, — As the time of my sojourning in North 
America is uncertain, accidents may happen in the family that 
may throw my little affairs into disorder, unless some kind friend 
will take the trouble to inspect into them. Carleton is so good 
as to say he will give what help is in his power. May I ask the 
same favour of you, my oldest friend, in whose worth and integ- 

^ It is much to he regretted that the correspondence between General 
Warde and Wolfe was never preserved, save in a few cases, as it must have 
been voluminous. 


rity I put entire confidence. I believe there should have been 
some powers drawn out and some formality in this business all 
which I am a stranger to, but I am no stranger to the good will 
and honour of the two persons to whom I recommend my con- 
cerns. I wish you much health and prosperity and am, my dear 

Your faithful and affectionate servant, 

Jam : Wolfe. 

At this time Lord George Sackville was Master-General of the 
Ordnance. The friendly relations of Wolfe with his old Colonel in 
the Twentieth continued, gathering even strength with years. 
Wolfe was not to live to hear of how by inexplicable conduct on 
the field of Minden he inflicted upon his reputation a terrible dis- 
grace, which in his friend''s eyes would have been unpardonable, but 
which he himself lived to retrieve. 

Wolfe and Lord George corresponded freely, and having time 
on his hands at Portsmouth the Brigadier indited a long letter, in 
which breathes absolute confidence in the success of the project 
upon which he is about to embark. From the first passage in the 
letter it would seem that Sackville had hinted that Wolfe had a 
chance of so distinguishing himself as to earn the chief command in 
an expedition against the capital of New France. 

Portsmouth^ *Jth February, 1758. 
My Lord, — If I had any constitution to spare, I should 
certainly desire to succeed Monsieur de Vandreuil in the Govern- 
ment of Canada ; but I can't trust to it. Your lordship must 
let me put you in mind that one campaign in North America is 
as much as I can afford, though I hope to have mettle enough 
left for the siege of St. Philip's, or for a stroke in the bottom of 
the Bay of Biscay ! ^ Any long absence at this time would reduce 
me and my affairs to the lowest ebb. I can't help wishing that 
Louisbourg should be totally demolished, and all the inhabitants 
of those islands sent to Europe. It is said that the French were 
thirty years in putting that fortress into any tolerable condition 
of defence ; we shall reduce them by other attacks to make peace 
with us, and to restore the Island of Minorca. I should think it 
possible to shelter the island at the entrance of the harbour in 
such a manner with mines, as to make it very difficult to raise 
any batteries there for the time to come. If indeed we think 

^ A reference to Minorca and Rochefort. 

A A 2 


Louisbourg worth Minorca, and resolve to keep it, — that's another 
affair ! 

It is of consequence, my Lord, not to confine the Admirals 
and Generals too much as to the number of men to land with ; 
five or six thousand men are sufficient for the preparations ; it is 
of vast importance to get on shore before the fogs come on, and 
still more not to lose time. Amherst should inform himself of 
the rates established for works done at a seige. He will tell your 
Lordship his opinion of Carleton, by which you will probably be 
better convinced of our loss. I shall begin to write to your 
Lordship the day we sail, and continue writing until the end of 
the campaign. Whatever occurs worth your notice shall be 
transmitted to you ; and when you have a leisure half-hour in the 
country, I shall beg the honour of a letter from your Lordship. 
If you seriously intend to attack the French in Europe, remem- 
ber that boats should be procured to land at least 4000 men at 
a time, and sloops and cutters that may carry as many more 
close in shore, or upon occasion run aground to land them. 
Some small flat or round-bottomed vessels, carrying four to six 
heavy cannon, and boats fitted up with swivel guns or light 
field-pieces, will be found most useful in landing and bringing 
off the troops, and in all attacks upon small forts situated near 
the water. It is believed that the transports for Anstruther's 
regiment have got round to Cork. 

There has been a most unaccountable delay in regard to the 
East India ships ; they are like to be six months longer in India, 
or more, from those delays. Our squadron is all at Spithead, 
except the " Lancaster," and that ship is ready to go out of 
the harbour. The naval preparations at this port are pretty 
expeditious ; but those great ships take more time to fit out than 
is commonly believed. The East India people here assm'e me 
that the loss of Chandernagore is a mortal blow to the French 
commerce, and that they will hardly be able to subsist at Pondi- 
cherry, because their provisions come chiefly from the Ganges. 
I hope Mons. Lally will not get in time to repair the damages 
done by our fleet before our own reinforcements arrive. Here is 
an officer of Amherst's with some sergeants and recruits, to the 
number of forty-three persons ; three more officers are expected 
to-night. I shall apply to Mr. Boscawen for their passage. I am 
told that not one soldier of Amherst's regiment deserted upon this 
occasion ; they want 160 men to complete. Mr. Boscawen gave 
directions to embark them in the most commodious manner. 



The condition of the troops that compose this garrison (or 
rather vagabonds that stroll about in dirty red clothes from one 
gin-shop to another) exceeds all belief. There is not the least 
shaddow of discipline, care, or attention. Disorderly soldiers of 
different regiments are collected here; some from the ships, 
others from the hospital, some waiting to embark — dirty, 
di-unken, insolent rascals, improved by the hellish nature of the 
place, where every kind of corruption, immorality, and looseness 
is carried to excess ; it is a sink of the lowest and most abomin- 
able of vices. Your Lordship could not do better than to get 
the company of Artilleiy moved out of this infernal den, where 
troops ought never to be quartered. 

Give me leave to observe two or three things to your Lord- 
ship in relation to our last new exercise. The side-step has 
been introduced by mistake, I imagine, instead of the oblique 
step ; one is as absui'd as the other is useful. Wheeling by 
divisions to the right or left may be called a principle of motion ; 
this excellent evolution is abolished, and the ridiculous wheel 
upon the centre introduced in its place. The ranks are opened 
to a very inconvenient distance for no reason that I can conceive, 
unless to double the ranks by the side-step with more ease. 
Here one absurdity has produced another. Practising the 
platoon firing with the ranks open, as front ranks, as centre 
ranks, etc., is all nonsense ; every soldier should be trained to 
fire in each rank, and obliquely. A company or battalion should 
as readily fire to the rear as to the front, and this they acquire 
in learning the platoon exercise, — that is, they should be so 
taught. When soldiers are the masters of the use of their fire- 
arms and of their bayonets, the next great object is their 
marching in battalion, as your Lordship knows full well. For 
this, no good instructions have ever been given in my time, nor 
any principles laid down by which we might be guided. Hence 
the variety of steps in our infantry, and the feebleness and 
disorderly floating of our lines. General Drury, I think, has the 
merit of the late inventions; 'tis unlucky, however, that our , 
great master in the art of war, Frederick of Prussia, was not 1 
preferred upon this occasion. He has made the exercise simple | 
and useful ; we cannot choose so good a model. 

I am credibly informed that at a council of war held at 
Calcutta, after the recovery of that settlement. Captain Speke was 
single for the attack of Chandernagore, declaring that nothing 
was done, nor could there be any security till that settlement 


was destroyed ; and by persevering in his opinion, the rest were 
brought at length to agree to the enterprise. This I believe is 
a fact that may be depended upon. 

Your Lordship has taken Beckwith, Maxwell, and the 20th 
regiment — ^your old battalion — under your immediate protection, 
and they cannot be better; but I have another friend to 
recommend to you as a very deserving and a very active officer, 
— Captain Rickson, — who is doing duty as Deputy Quarter- 
master-General of Scotland. He wishes to be confirmed in his 
office by commission, as usual, and as it ought to have been long 
ago, if (as I believe) some bye-views and artifices had not pre- 
vented it. That employment has usually the rank of Lieutenant- 
Colonel annexed to it, which Rickson may pretend to in point ot 
merit with almost any man in the service. Your Lordship, I 
think, is persuaded that I never did, nor ever will, undertake to 
establish any man in your good opinion but from a thorough 
conviction that he deserves your esteem. 

We expect Mr. Boscawen every hour, and people think that 
he will not wait for a fair wind, but endeavour to beat down the 
Channel if the weather is moderate, so that we are likely to be 
soon under way. I wish your Lordship much health, and have 
the honour to be, with great respect, my Lord, 

Your Lordship's most obedient and most humble servant, 

J. Wolfe. 

PS. — ^Tuesday afternoon. — Our Admiral is arrived, and is in 
haste to sail. I wish the voyage was over and that we struck 
soundings upon the Banks. Take care to reinforce the fleet if 
it be necessary; don't let us be beat. Barre, who knows 
Whitmore better than anybody, assures me that he has no health 
nor constitution for such business as we are going upon ; he 
never was a soldier, but otherwise, a very worthy gentleman. I 
pray you beware how you employ him near the top ; this pre- 
vented, we may jog on tollerably. Here is a lieutenant of Foot 
going with Draper^ to the East Indies, who would be a most 
valuable man to Amherst. He seems to understand the war in 
America well, and speaks of it clearly and judiciously. Alas ! 
there are but few such men, and those too often neglected. He 
has been at Montreal and Quebec, and has navigated down the 
river St. Lawrence. If I commanded in America, I would give 

1 Lieutenant-Colonel (afterwards Sir) William Draper, K.B., who captured 
Manila and defied "Junius." 


him a company and =£^500 to go with me, — a modest, sensible, 
manly young officer. His name is Cheshire. I hope your 
Lordship will be the patron and protector of every deserving 
man of our profession. 

The Barre of the foregoing was destined to earn great dis- 
tinction as a political character, although perhaps not altogether 
in the manner Wolfe, as a patriotic Englishman, would approve. 
As Colonel Isaac Barre, M.P., he came to be the opponent of the 
King and Lord North and the upholder of the American Revo- 
lution. Albeit, Barre never forgot that his first real patron was not 
Shelburne or Burke, but that " noble-hearted soldier, James Wolfe." 

To Major George Warde. 

Portsmouth, February Wth, 1758. 
Dear Major, — Though I thank you for the assurances con- 
tained in your letter, yet I needed not that proof to be secure 
of your kind offices to an absent friend. I don't even make you 
an apology for the trouble it may give you, because, from a 
consciousness of a readiness on my side to engage warmly in your 
interest, there is not a doubt of your inclinations to forward 
mine. If my father should die in my absence, I desire that you 
and Carleton will let my mother know that, jointly with her, 
you are empowered to transact my business, as the enclosed 
letter of attorney sets forth ; and if you will assist her with your 
good counsel, I shall think of it with satisfaction, and acknow- 
ledge it with more gratitude than anything done to myself, 
though of every mark and testimony of your kindness not at all 
insensible. I knew you were in to^vn, and that you had called, 
but not remembering where you lodged, I was obliged to come 
away without seeing you. We may live to meet ; and to find you 
well and happy will be one very sincere pleasure at my return. 
I shall collect all the particulars of o\m campaign for your amuse- 
ment. I wish you all manner of good, and am, my dear Major, 
Your faithful and affectionate servant. 

Jam. Wolfe. 
To Major Wards, at the White Hart, Winton. 

On the same day he wrote to Lord George Sackville the follow- 
ing further interesting letter. The Carden he mentions was eighteen 
years later sent by Carleton, then Governor of Canada, to dislodge 
the American rebel, Ethan Allen, from Long Point, near Montreal. 
He succeeded, but at the cost of his life, September 24, 1 775,^ 
^ Bradley : Lord Dorchester , p 88. 


To Lord George Sackville. 

Portsmouth, February Wth, 1768. 

My Lord, — Garden the American has a great deal of merit, 
but wants bread to eat. He is an excellent fellow for the 
woods ; I am sure of my intelligence and therefore wish the field 
mareschal wou'd give him leave to serve the campaign with us, 
as he himself desired — 5 or 6 shillings a day for the campaign 
(till other provision can be made) wou'd satisfy him fully. If 
this is thought too high a price for his services I am ready to 
find him in food and shelter at my own expense. Hotham 
has a letter from Murray recommending him in the strongest 
manner upon former acquaintance in war. My information 
regards some later acts of his upon which I venture to present 
him to your lordship and to the public as a good servant and a 
brave soldier, and beg he may be sent to us or after us. He 
is bold, circumspect, and more artful than his appearance 
bespeaks — has experience in the method of the American war 
beyond anybody that I can hear off; I hope we shan't lose such 
a subject so particularly adapted to this kind of work. I am at 
more trouble to find out proper people to forward the service 
than almost anybody, and succeed so ill when I have found 'em 
that I am discouraged from proceeding in my discoveries. Garden 
was Lieut, of Shirley's or Pepperells, I know not which, and 
has but one threadbare uniform to cover an indefatigable body 
spurred on to action by a daring mind. 

Death, wounds, sickness, and a necessaiy garrison, will 
diminish our numbers. I give 3,000 men for these different 
articles. Would it not be a wise measure to send a reinforce- 
ment of a good old battalion of 900 men to join us about the 
middle of June ? With such an increase of strength, we might 
undertake the great object, at least I see no reason at this 
distance to hinder it. Of the 800 men drawn from the second 
battalion under major Hardy's command I can venture to say 
that we shan't land 400, but the mischief they will do in the 
fleet by introducing diseases amongst them is still more to be 
apprehended. No nation in the world but this sends soldiers to 
war without discipline or instructions. 

I am, my Lord, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

PS. — The wind labours hard against us. Adam Livingstone 
of the Scottish Fusiliers, and Delaune of Kingsley's, are formed 
by nature for the American war. 


He also penned an epistle to Bath — 

To HIS Mother. 

Portsmouth, February llthy 1758. 

Dear Madam, — When any matter of importance to a country 
is resolved on, the sooner it is carried into execution the better. 
Delays are not only productive of bad consequences, but are 
very tiresome and very inconvenient, as every unhappy person, 
whose lot it is to be confined for any length of time to this 
place, can certify. The want of company and of amusement can 
be supplied with book and exercise, but the necessity of living 
in the midst of the diabolical citizens of Portsmouth is a real 
and unavoidable calamity. It is a doubt to me if there is such 
another collection of demons upon the whole earth. Vice, how- 
ever, wears so ugly a garb, that it disgusts rather than tempts. 
The weather begins to be more moderate than it has been for 
some days past, and I fancy we shall go on board this afternoon, 
to be ready to get imder sail with the first favourable turn of 
the wind. I should be glad if we were at sea, though I have no 
very agreeable prospect before me ; however, I hope to overcome 
it, and if not, have a mind strong enough to endure that, and 
still severer trials, if there are any more severe. I heartily wish 
you all the benefit that you youi'self can hope for from the 
Bath. The General will be kind enough to put up with some 
inconvenience for your sake. I beg my duty to him, and am, 
dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate Son, 

Jam. Wolfe. 

PS. — You shall hear from me by all the opportunities that 

On the day following Wolfe embarked. As usual there was a 
hanging about the Channel for a week. 

To HIS Father. 

"Princess Amelia," St. Helens, \%th Feb., 1758. 

Dear Sir, — Our Captain sends me word that a boat is just 
going ashore, and that I have time to write three or four lines. 
Mr. Boscawen, impatient to get out to sea, left Spithead the 
15th, and brought his squadron here to be ready for the first 
favourable change of wind, which has blown for some days 
directly against us, and with great violence. The weather is 
now mild, and the moon old enough to light us in the night, 
but our mariners see no immediate prospect of sailing. We are 


extremely well in this ship, have great room, and much kindness 
and civility from the commanders, and hitherto the motion has 
not had any very great effect upon me. 

I am, dear Sir, 

J. Wolfe. 
To HIS Father. 

Plymouth Sound, 22nd February. 

Dear Sir, — Some very bad weather, and the appearance of 
still worse, forced Mr. Boscawen to anchor in this place, — a 
berth that the mariners are not very fond of. The wind blew 
violently yesterday in the afternoon and good part of the night, 
so as to try our anchors and cables a little ; but "'tis now calm, 
and promises to be fair. You may believe that I have passed 
my time disagreeably enough in this rough weather; at best, 
the life, you know, is not pleasant. We left the " Invincible *''' 
upon a sand, and believe she is lost : the finest ship of that rate 
(74 guns) in the Navy, well manned and well commanded,^ By 
what fatal accident this happened we cannot guess. The boat 
waits for my letter, so I will only add my best wishes for yom- 
health and my mother*'s. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Boscawen's delay, however, was nothing to Amherst's, who was 
not ready to embark until the middle of March, when he set out 
from Spithead in Captain Rodney's Dublin. We shall see that he 
did not arrive at Halifax until Boscawen, having been there ten 
days, was actually leaving that port. 

^ This fine ship was wrecked at St. Helens on the 18th. No lives were 


On May 9, 1758, Boscawen's flagship entered Halifax harbour 
with two and a half battalions of the Philadelphia contingent, 
which he picked up at sea. He found that Lawrence had three 
other English battalions, but Whitmore and the Irish regiment 
were not yet arrived. Boscawen instantly wrote to Chatham that 
though he was disappointed as to numbers, he had enough to 
establish a preliminary footing on Cape Breton, in accordance with 
the minister's instructions. 

After a couple of days ashore, at what is to-day the capital of 
the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, Wolfe, in conformity with 
his promise to keep his friend Sackville completely au courant with 
affairs as he found them, wrote ^ — 

To Lord George Sackville. 

Halifax, May I2th, 1768. 

My Lord, — From Christopher Columbus'* time to our days 
there perhaps has never been a more extraordinary voyage. The 
continual opposition of contrary winds, calms, or currents, baffled 
all our skill and w^ore out all our patience. A fleet of men of war 
well manned, unincumbered with transports, commanded by an 
officer of the first reputation, has been eleven weeks in its passage. 
We made the Madeira Islands, the Canaries, Bermudas, and 
lastly to crown all the Isle of Sable. Two or three of the ships 
are sickly, the rest are in very good condition. The Admiral, 
who has omitted no care of precaution to advance the service, is 
labouring to fit the fleet for the sea with all possible despatch. 

We found Amherst's Regiment in the harbour in fine order 
and healthy. Eraser's and Brigadier Lawrence's Battalions were 
here, and both in good condition. The Highlanders are very 
useful serviceable soldiers, and commanded by the most manly 
corps of officers I ever saw. Webb's, Otway's, and part of 
Monckton's battalions from Philadelphia came in with us. The 
detachments from this garrison are not joined, so that these 

1 Wright says " he was not able to resume his pen for some days," indeed, 
until the 19th. The existence of this letter was then unknown. 



battalions are very weak, scarce exceeding 300 men a regiment. 
About 500 Rangers are come, which to appearance are little 
better than canaille. 

Brigadier Whitmore is expected every day with the artillery 
and troops from New York and Boston, Bragg's from the bay of 
Fundy, and Anstruther's from Ireland. 

A great quantity of facines and gabions are made and other 
preparations of that sort, and a kind of small wooden fort (that 
takes to pieces), to secure our communications, instead of redoubts, 
which it seems the ground does not admit of. I have recom- 
mended a provision of palisades that the troops may lie quiet in 
their camps and to fortify our different magazines. We are to 
expect opposition at our landing. It is supposed they have 
about 1,500 irregulars, and that their garrison is augmented 
because seven ships (three of which are said to be men of war of 
two decks) have got into the harbour. The battalions are in 
general healthy, and I dare say will do their duty well. They 
are irritated against the enemy and have a quarrel of their own 
to decide besides the public cause. As I foresaw long ago we 
shall find work to do. We are preparing a body of Light Foot 
to join to the Rangers, and I believe the whole will be put under 
the command of Captain Scott (Major of Brigade), who is an 
active officer and used to that kind of war. Captain Raess came 
in yesterday from Sir C. Hardy's squadron off Louisbourg. They 
have had the severest weather imaginable, and the snow is still 
upon the ground of Cape Breton, though here the weather is 
fair and dry and warm. We don''t entertain a right notion of 
L'Isle Royale in England ; it is not possible to encamp there 
early in the year and to preserve the army. I wouldn't be under- 
stood by that to mean that we are prevented by the season at 
this time. We only await the arrival of Brigadier Whitmore 
and the equipment of the squadron to set sail, and certainly we 
shall struggle against all difficulties and push the affair with 
vigour. As I told your lordship we will put your cannon in 

PS. — General Hopson delivers over the command of the 
troops this day to Brigadier Lawrence. 

On May 19 there is a letter addressed to his Uncle Walter, 
but the substance of it is identical with the one written on the 
following day to his father. 


To HIS Father. 

Halifax, 2.0th May, 1758. 

Dear Sir, — General Hopson does me the favour to cany 
this letter. The King has thought proper to recall him, on 
account, I suppose, of his age, with which, and the assurance 
given him of a good reception at home, he is well pleased.^ Our 
fleet and army have gathered together from many different 
places without any material accident. Sir Charles Hardy has 
been cruising off Louisbourg ever since the 2nd or 3rd of April, 
or thereabouts ; but, notwithstanding Sir Charles's vigilance and 
activity, the French have contrived to get in three or four men 
of war, and as many small ships. Others intended for the port, 
laden with stores and provisions, have been taken by our 
squadron. We shall be ready to sail in four or five days. Mr. 
Boscawen has been indefatigable on his side, and we have not 
been idle. Our army consists of fourteen regiments, and our 
fleet of about twenty sail of the line, and I believe, as many 
frigates. Our General is not yet arrived, but we shall proceed 
without him. When the army is landed, the business is half 
done ; and I hope it will be all done before you receive this 
letter. The troops are very healthy, and so are most of the 
ships ; four or five are otherwise, and so will the French fleet be 
if they come upon this coast. 

You will hear it said in England that Mr. Abercrombie has 
an army of 7000 regulars and 20,000 provincials. Of this last 
account you may deduct one-half, and depend upon it that the 
remaining 10,000 are not good for much. Lord Howe is in high 
esteem with the troops in Albany. You may expect to hear of 
some handsome performances of his. The nature of the wai* 
there requires all his abilities, spirit, and address. The harbour 
of Halifax is a most excellent port, and of infinite consequence 
to us, both from its situation and goodness. If you saw in what 
manner it is fortified, you would hardly think that we judge it 
worth our care. There are guns indeed in different spots, but 
so exposed from behind, that the batteries would soon be 
abandoned. I wish you and my mother a great deal of health, 
and am, dear Sir, 

Your most affectionate Son, 

Jam. Wolfe. 

In the letter to Major Walter Wolfe there occurs, however, a most 
1 Hopson died the follo\ving year. 


characteristic passage. After saying that the French have managed 
to get a small number of ships into Louisbourg, he added : " If 
they had thrown in twice as much we should not hesitate to attack 
them ; and for my part, I have no doubt of our success. If the 
French fleet comes upon this coast, the campaign will I hope be 

Time still dragged, and the indefatigable letter-writer again 
puts pen to paper. 

To Lord George Sackville. 

Halifax, May lUh, 1758. 

My Lord, — The latter end of May and the fleet not sailed ! 
What are they about ? Why are they not landed at Louisbourg ? 
The troops have been all embarked these three or four days (except 
Bragg's and two hundred men from Lunenburg, who we sup- 
pose to be at hand), but the war ships are not quite ready, and, 
if they were, the wind, rain, and fog of this last week would 
have kept us here. The Admiral means to sail with the first air 
breeze and leave some of the ships of war to follow. He has 
reinforced Sir Charles Hardy with the Royal William and Prince 
Frederick and is impatient to be gone. The enemy we are told 
has entrenched the shoar of the bay of Gabarus and has planted 
his artillery upon the beach thereof. If we find him strong in 
that part, we must try him at a greater distance, and where 
perhaps he is less prepared. Our present notions are to land 
3000 men at Mire and march towards Gabarus, attack at the 
same time the further L'Orembeck and La Balleine, get footing 
in one or other of those little harbours, land a considerable body 
and march to the nether L'Orembeck which is not above a mile 
from the end of the North East Harbour. A small body of men 
(by way of diversion) are likewise to be detached to the bottom 
of Gabarus Bay, there land and entrench themselves. While 
these operations are carrying on the Admiral threatens them at 
the harbour's mouth and the gros of his squadron and makes all 
possible show of attack with the rest of that part of the Bay 
of Gabarus where the Americans landed. If neither of these 
succeed we must fall upon some other method for we must get 
on shoar or perish altogether in the attempt. It will be my part 
to command the body that goes round to Mire (3 battalions of 
the Light Foot). Monckton has L'Orembeck with two battalions, 
and Lawrence manages the rest. Nothing, however, is yet 


fixed upon or can be fixed till we see the object, and perhaps 
General Amherst may arrive in the meanwhile time enough to 
improve the present plan. When the troops, &c. are landed we 
shall possess the Light House Point, cannonade and bombard the 
Island Battery and destroy the shipping ; then we proceed to 
open the trenches, and I should imagine the attack will be 
directed against the Bastion Dauphin for reasons that the 
Engineers will give your lordship hereafter. General Aber- 
crombie has withheld the haut-vitzers that were at New York 
amongst the stores intended for the siege of Louisbourg last 
year, and comprehended in the preparations of this year by 
which we shall be great sufferers. I hope Mr. Abercrombie has 
sufficient reasons to give for depriving us of so essential an 
article. We ought to have had a dozen of the largest sort 
for this business. I am told, too, that his Excellency had a 
great mind to keep the tools, in which case there was an end of 
the siege of Louisbourg altogether, and I believe it will now be 
found that we have not one pick axe too many. 

As here are no spare arms, nor no rifled barrel guns, the 
firelocks of these regiments will be so injured in the course 
of the siege that I doubt if they will be in any condition of 
service after it is over. Some of them are already very bad. 

Upon enquiry into the affairs of this country it appears 
evidently that the two principal posts and frontiers indeed of 
America are Halifax and Oswego, one of which we have already 
lost, and the other we must lose in 12 hours whenever it is 
attacked. This is a most excellent harboui', is situated happily for 
the protection of our fishery and the interruption of the enemy's 
and for the annoyance of their navigation up the river St. Lawrence. 

The position of Oswego manifests its great utility. You 
secure an interest with the Indians and awe them ; share the 
furr trade with the French ; make war upon their colony from 
thence with great ease, cut off the communication with the Ohio 
by a squadron of armed vessels upon the lake, and, by obliging 
them to defend themselves at home, prevent the bloody ravages 
made upon the frontiers of our colonies. Hitherto there has 
been the most profound ignorance of the nature of the war upon 
this continent and several abuses in regard to the troops. Lord 
Howe will remedy the first if he outlives this campaign, and it 
belongs to your lordship to do the rest. The army is undone 
and ruined by the constant use of salt meat and rum. They 
might often be provided with fresh meat as cheap as the other. 


and by stopping 2d or 3d a day for their provisions they would 
have no more left than was of use to them, and the extravagance 
hitherto unknown of furnishing an army with provisions without 
making them contribute a part of their pay towards it, would 
be at an end. The women, too, can very well afford by their 
industry to pay 2d a day for their provisions ; the idle ones that 
cannot are better away. The men's necessaries indeed are at a 
higher price in America than in Europe, but still in time of war 
they can afford 2d a day for provisions, and in time of peace 3d. ; 
the same at sea and at Gibraltar, which would be a considerable 
saving and a very considerable one to the public. 

Work done by the soldiers for his Majesty's service is paid at 
a most exorbitant rate. We are indebted to Mr. Knowles for 
this piece of economy. Besides their provisions and their pay, 
the soldiers had a shilling a day for working at the fortifications 
of Louisbourg while he was governor of the town, and which has 
been continued in this province ever since. 

Some of the regiments of this army have 3 or 400 men 
eaten up with scurvy. All of them that are wounded or hurt 
by any accident run great risk of their lives from the corrupted 
state of the blood, so your lordship may rest assured that the 
enterprise of Louisbourg will cost a multitude of men, as 
contemptuously as the Marshal^ treated that subject. There is 
not an ounce of fresh beef or mutton contracted for even for the 
sick and wounded, which besides the inhumanity is both impolitic 
and absurd. Mr. Boscawen, indeed, has taken the best precau- 
tions in his power by ordering 600 head of live cattle for the 
fleet and army the moment he arrived. The curious part of this 
barbarity is that the scoundrels of contractors can afford the 
fresh meat in many places and circumstances as cheap as the salt. 
I think our stock for the siege full little, and none of the medi- 
cines for the hospitals are arrived. No horses or oxen for the 
artillery, &c. 

Too much money and too much rum necessarily affect the 
discipline of an army. We have glaring evidence of their ill 
consequences every moment. Sergeants drunk upon duty, two 
sentries upon their posts and the rest wallowing in the dirt. I 
believe no nation ever paid so many bad soldiers at so high a 
rate. My Lord Loudoun, whose management in the conduct of 
affairs is by no means admired, did adhere so literally and strictly 

' Lord Ligonier. 


to the one — two and the firings by the impracticable chequer, &c., 
that these regiments must necessarily be cut off one after another 
unless they fall into some method more suited to the counti-y 
and to the kind of enemy they have to deal with. 

I expect to be attacked upon the march by the Mickmacs, 
Abenaquis and Canadians. I have made the best preparations 
in my power (and that the time permits), to beat 'em off; but I 
can't be sure that we shan't presently run into confusion and be 
very ill-treated, altho' I have with me some of the best of our 

Our clothes, oui' arms, our accoutrements, nay even our shoes 
and stockings are all improper for this country. Lord Howe is 
so well convinced of it that he has taken away all the men's 

There are in America three or four excellent men in their 
way. Bradstreet for the battues and for expeditions is an 
extraordinary man ; Rogers is an excellent partisan for 2 or 300 
men, and young Clarke under my Lord Howe, whom nature has 
formed for the war of this country, and will make a good figure 
as an engineer for the field^^ 

One of the engineers, GR-een, is sick upon the continent and 
instead of Matt. Clarke and Gordon, who I suppose were far off, 
we have got two boys, Montresor and Williamson, and to make 
up the 300 artillery we must cany off all that are here. Among 
the officers of the infantry we have picked six or seven assistant 
engineers, enough to make out three brigades, six in each, besides 
the active Bastide and Major Mackellar. Delaune and Carden 
would be more useful here than can be conceived. We want just 
two such men to throw into the light infantry, and we want grave 
Carleton for every purpose of the war. Anstruther's regiment 
is sickly, and two or three of the ships are in so terrible a 
condition that they are hardly fit for sea. 

I am told that a certain Lieutenant-Colonel of this army 
drew up a kind of representation and gave it to Colonel Monro 
(signed by others I suppose as well as himself) setting forth the 
condition of Fort William Henry; how incapable it was of 
further resistance, and giving it as their opinion that Colonel 
Munro had made a very good defence and might with honoxn- 
capitulate, &c., &c. But Cunninghame can tell you more of the 

I am, my Lord, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

B B 


While the great fleet rested in Halifax harbour waiting for 
General Amhersfs arrival, Boscawen held supreme command of the 
combined force, which was soon reinforced by Whitmore's arrival 
and the Irish regiment. Lawrence, Wolfe and Boscawen met in 
council and decided to proceed to Cape Breton without waiting 
longer for the tardy Amherst. They got to sea on May 28, and 
met Rodney"'s ship, with Amherst on board, coming in, much to the 
general satisfaction. 

The force of which General Amherst now assumed command 
numbered fourteen battalions of infantry, 500 Rangers, and a de- 
tachment of Royal artillery, altogether an army of nearly 12,000 
men. There was probably a similar number of marines and 
seamen in the fleet of more than 150 ships. Such was the pre- 
ponderating strength of armament descending to crush Louisbourg, 
blotting the fortress from the face of the earth, f* 

Louisbourg, situated on a rugged promontory south-west of the 
harbour, was some two miles in circumference. The houses were 
built of stone, the streets broad and regular, with a spacious parade 
adjoining the citadel. Facing the parade was the church and 
Governor's house ; opposite were the barracks, where, being sup- 
posed bomb-proof, the women and children took refuge, until the 
shells began to make havoc of the building. At one end of the 
harbour was an excellent wharf, and on the opposite side were fish- 
drying stages sufficient to accommodate the product of 2000 fishing- 
boats. In the minds of most of the officers and men little doubt 
was expressed as to the ability of the combined force to succeed in 
their object, in spite of the reinforcements which, eluding Hardy's 
squadron, had got into Louisbourg harbour. The question was, 
would Louisbourg be taken in time to push on to Quebec ? That 
would remain to be seen. 

The fleet came in view of the town on June 2nd. Notwith- 
standing his sea-sickness, for there was a high sea running, Wolfe 
accompanied Amherst and Lawrence in a boat, to reconnoitre the 

In council, before Amherst had arrived, Wolfe had already pro- 
duced his plan for the impending operations. He was to land 
with three battalions of light infantry in Mire Bay, ten miles 
northward from Louisbourg, and march towards Gabarus Bay to 
capture the French landing-place there. In this exploit he was to 
be seconded by Monckton, who, landing on the opposite side of the 
peninsula, would march overland to his support. Meanwhile, two 
separate diversions were to be made by Boscawen and Lawrence, so 



that the enemy ^^ould be utterly confused as to the precise point 
of the chief attack, and thereby divide fatally their defence. 

Amherst now produced a plan to supersede Wolfe''s. His idea 
was the straightforward, familiar frontal attack, with two side diver- 

B B 2 


sions. By June 8, and not sooner, owing to tempestuous weather, 
was the chief business of the expedition begun. And whosesoever 
plan was adopted it appeared that the chief fighting business was 
to be entrusted to Brigadier Wolfe. 

To him were allotted twelve companies of Grenadiers, Eraser's 
Highlanders, Major Scott's Light Infantry Corps of marksmen, and 
a company of provincial Rangers, mostly men from Massachusetts, 
of whom we have already had Wolfe's opinion. -At midnight on 
June 7 the embarkation into the boats was begun. At dawn, after 
a preliminary bombardment by the fleet as a diversion, the seamen 
conveying the three divisions began to ply their oars with spirit 
for the shore. Whitmore's division on the right rowed eastward, 
as though to land at White Point : in the centre Lawrence's six 
battalions headed straight for Freshwater Cove, to make the enemy 
suppose a landing was to be attempted there, while Wolfe's brigade 
on the left made vigorously for the spot of the real descent — 
Kennington Cove or La Coromandiere.-^ 

Men who served under Wolfe that day have recorded the extra- 
ordinary confidence which was felt by men of all ranks in their 
young leader. All the troops were full of enthusiasm and eager 
for the fray. Not without danger and discomfort was the passage 
made. As they approached not only the batteries belched forth 
their shot and shell against them, but the very waves conspired to 
repel. The angiy surf beat upon the boats, upsetting some and 
shattering to pieces others, many men being drowned before they 
could secure a dry footing. Wolfe's flagstaff was actually shot 
away, and it seemed utter madness to face such fire. But a boatful 
of Light Infantry, commanded by two young lieutenants, Brown 
and Hopkins, sighting a half-protected landing-place on the rocks, 
managed to run their boat straight on shore in advance of the 
rest. Wolfe, standing erect in the bows, cried out encouragement 
to the others to follow their example. In another moment he had 
leapt into the surf, now only knee-deep, and scrambled, unarmed, 
with only a cane in his hand, over the intervening rocks.^ He 
reached the men already landed, and asked who were the first 
ashore. Two Highland soldiers were pointed out to him. " Good 
fellows 1 " he cried, and going up to the men presented them with 
a guinea apiece. Then, to the sound of their cheering, he set 
about the formation of the troops as fast as they arrived on the 
lower beach. From a masked battery on the slopes twenty feet 

' The spot of Wolfe's landing is pointed out to-day as " Wolfe's Rock." 
— O. Macdonald, Last Siege of Louisbourg^ p. 149 


above them a raking fire was dealt out. Many fell while forming 
ranks, but so far from daunting, only made the rest fiercer for 
their prey. At a signal Wolfe himself led the advance up the 
steep rocks. The first batteiy was carried by storm, and still 
Wolfe pushed on to other entrenchments of the enemy. Behind 
him in support came Lawrence and his division. The French, who 
opposed this unceremonious landing, now feared their retreat would 
be cut off*, and forsaking their cannon and stores broke pell-mell 
for Louisbourg four miles away, followed hotly over swamps and 
hillocks by Wolfe and Amherst. The fugitives reached the forti- 
fications from whence now a terrific cannonade was opened. This, 
whatever its lethal effect, at least served to show the British pre- 
cisely the area of safety in beginning a siege. Unluckily, the siege 
train was not landed, and the difficulties of the process considering 
the weather were very great. Meanwhile the troops took possession 
of ground before the town and formed a camp, although three days 
passed before they got artillery, tents, provisions or ammunition. 
Valuable time was thus lost. " It was soon evident," says Corbett, 
" that there was one operation which alone could reduce the place 
within the appointed time, and that was that the fleet should enter 
the harbour. Yet in spite of Pitfs hint, Boscawen seems never to 
have entertained the idea." Far too cautious was the Admiral, 
in Wolfe's opinion, as we shall see. 

By the 12th it was known to Amherst that the French had 
called in their outposts and were concentrating all their strength 
upon the fortress itself. The harbour containing the enemy's fleet 
had been protected by two batteries, one, the Batterie Royale, far 
within the inlet, and another on Goat Island at its entrance.^ 
When Brigadier Wolfe heard that the French had dismantled 
Batterie Royale he thought he perceived a chance not to be lost. 
If the ships and Goat Island battery could be attacked from the 
land shore of the harl)oui* Boscawen would be enabled to enter the 
port with his fleet.^He laid his scheme immediately before Am- 
herst, who ordered him to advance with his brigade upon Light- 
house Point, commanding the sea-wall of the to^vn, and capture it. 
The artillery and stores for this movement were at the same time 
dispatched by sea to meet Wolfe at L'Orembeck. On an'ival at 
the Lighthouse Wolfe sent the following to Amherst ^ — 

1 There has been much historical confusion between Goat Island and 
^'Battery Island." The island battery was already dismantled. 

2 It is endorsed by Amherst, " Brigadier AVolfe's Intentions at the Light- 
house Point." 


" Brigadier Wolfe proposes to establish a post of 200 regulars 
and a company of Rangers at L'Orembeck ; he intends likewise to 
establish another post of 200 regulars and a company of Rangers 
at the end of the North-east Harbour. The regular troops are to 
fortify their camp, and the irregulars are to keep a constant patrol, 
to endeavour to intercept any of the inhabitants of the island, 
Canadians or others ; at least, to give notice of their march to the 
officer commanding the regular troops, who will inform the 
Brigadier of it, and give the earliest notice he can to Brigadier 
Lawrence upon the left of the army, who will report it to the 

"Another post of fifty regulars and ten Rangers will be established 
at the nearest L'Orembeck ; the two L'Orembeck parties will be 
supplied with provisions from the sea, and the party at the end of 
the harbour will be supplied from the camp or from the Light- 
house. . . . The remaining body of Light Infantry and the 
irregulars, must take post upon the Mire Road, about half way 
between the camp and the North-east Harbour, and communicate 
with both the one and the other by posts and patrols."" 

Wolfe kept steadily at it in spite of severe weather, but all was 
not in readiness until the 18th. On that day he wrote the 
following orders to the brigade — 

" Two batteries are to be constructed this night, for one iron 
24-pounder each, with a firm, well-rammed parapet, and the 
platform laid with the utmost care. These must be finished before 
daybreak, and whatever remains to be done at the Great Mortar 
Battery must be completed this night ; every engineer and every 
officer of artillery exerting himself in his proper department. To- 
morrow at sunset, it is proposed to begin to bombard and cannonade 
the French fleet ; the Captain of Artillery to dispose his party so 
that all the ordnance may be equally well served, according to the 
following distribution : 

" The battery at the end of the North-east Harbour, one 24- 
and one 12-pounder. 

" Hautbitser (sic) Battery, under the hill near the careening 
wharf to fire a ricochet. 

" Great Bomb Battery, in the bottom before Goreham's camp, of 
four mortars and six royals. 

" Two 24-pounders, to fire a ricochet at the masts and rigging 
from the bottom before Goreham's camp and the Lighthouse 


" One 24-pounder and two 12 ditto, from the right of the 
Lighthouse Hill, to fire likewise a ricochet at the masts and 

" Two 24-poiinders to be placed in battery, to fire at the ships'* 
hulls or lower masts. 

" The Captain of Artillery may demand as many men as he thinks 
necessary to assist in serving the artillery, and as many pioneers as 
are requisite, and they shall be furnished from the army. The 
troops are all to be under arms time enough to march to their 
respective posts before the firing begins. Colonel Morris is to 
take post, with the detachments of the right brigade, upon the 
hills above the careening wharf, where the Highlanders now are. 
Lieut. -Colonel Hales (with three companies of Grenadiers) is to 
post himself behind the little hills and rising grounds where 
Captain Goreham's company is encamped, in readiness to support 
the Great Bomb Battery, if the enemy should think fit to attack 
it. The remaining company of Grenadiers is to be placed in small 
parties, nearer to the Bomb Battery, in the safest situation that 
can be found. Goreham's company (if it returns in time) is to be 
concealed in proper places to the right of this company of 
Grenadiers, as near the sea as they can lie in safety. As the three 
companies of Grenadiers are placed near the magazine of the Grand 
Battery, Lieut.-Colonel Hales must take care that no fire be 
permitted. Colonel Rollo, with the detachments of the left and 
centre, is to take post upon the Lighthouse Hill in readiness to 
march down to the enemy in case they are disposed to land. 

" All the detachments are to be placed with the greatest po.ssible 
regard to their security ; because the French ships in their confusion 
and disorder may probably fire their guns at random, and if the 
men are properly concealed we shall suffer very little loss. The 
two youngest companies are to be left for the guard of the camp 
and the rest to guard the magazine. The officers commanding 
these companies are to make proper detachments and place a 
necessary number of sentries for the preservation of the tents, huts, 
magazines, stores, etc., and they are not to allow their men to 
get in numbers upon the tops of hills, that no accident may 

" The firing of the mortars, hautbitsers, and ricochet shot is to 
cease a little before daybreak, that all the troops, except a company 
at each station, may return to their camp to take their rest and 
refreshment ; and the officers will conduct them back with the 
utmost caution. The battery at the end of the North-east 


Harbour, and the two iron 24-pounders that are placed in battery 
upon the upper part of the Lighthouse Hill, are to continue firing 
all day at the masts and rigging of the ships, that the enemy may 
have no rest, nor time to repair their damages. Although it seems 
improbable that the French should presume to land and attack 
any of our batteries, yet it is right to be prepared to receive them, 
or to drive them back to their boats ; therefore, when two sky- 
rockets are fired immediately after each other from the Brigadier's 
station, all the troops are to move down the hills, and forward 
with quick pace, and charge the enemy with their bayonets, 
endeavouring to gain their flanks by detachments made on purpose ; 
Colonel Morris to their left, supposing them to land anywhere near 
the Bomb Battery, and Colonel RoUo to their right, while the 
Grenadiers attack them in front without firing a shot. 

" The Brigadier-General will be all night upon the hill where 
Colonel Morris's detachment is to be posted, unless some particular 
business should require him in another part ; in which case, he will 
leave word where he is to be found. One hundred Highlanders will 
be posted along the shore of the North-east Harbour, from Colonel 
Morris's post to Major Ross's. Part of the left wing and Light 
Infantry of the Army will be in motion during this attack, ready 
to sustain the detached posts, to alarm the enemy on every side, 
and to increase their confusion. A sky-rocket will be fired from 
Colonel Morris's post, which will be answered by Sir Charles 
Hardy's squadron and the grand army ; and when a second sky- 
rocket is fired from the same hill, the batteries begin, with short 
intervals at first, as will make their fire regular and constant. 
The officers of artillery, the engineers, and Major Ross's detach- 
ment, are to have copies of these orders." 

Wolfe's first objective was the French fleet and he pinned his 
faith to the British gunners. A few hours before the bombardment 
he wrote Amherst — 

^ To Major-General Amherst. 

. End of North-east Harbour, 19^^ Jurw, 1758. 

Dear SiR,-^My posts are now so fortified that I can afford 
you the two companies of Yankees, and the more as they are 
better for ranging and scouting than either work or vigilance. 
My whole affair now is the spade and pickaxe, and one hundred 
more pioneers would be of great assistance. I shall recall my 
out parties, and collect within my entrenchments, in order to 
carry on the work with greater vigour. I mean to take post on 


your side the harbour, and erect a battery, provided you will 
give me any countenance by seizing and entrenching the rising 
ground above the Grand Battery. I'm very sure that the 
artillery with me can be carried with greater ease to the Queue 
de Franchee than yours from Gabarus Bay. You call Green 
Hill, Green Island, but I understand your meaning. The excess 
of rum is bad, but the liquor delivered out in small quantities — 
half a gill a man, and mixed with water — is a most salutary 
drink, and the cheapest pay for work that can be given. 
Mr. Boscawen is a very judicious man, but in this particular 
he is much in the wrong ; and he proceeds from his confounding 
the abuse with the use, and sailors with soldiers. 

There is a fine brew-house, between us and the Grand 
Battery, for spruce beer; copper all in good order and very 
valuable. I see the smoke of L'Orembeck, and therefore con- 
clude that the straggling inhabitants have rashly attacked our 
people, and are punished for their insolence. I have ordered 
Sunderland to bring off any good shallops he can find for the 
use of the army, when you would have fish. 

About ten this night you will see my signals. Are you not 
surprised to find that I have a battery here ? The ground upon 
which I propose to erect a formidable battery against the Island 
Battery is so much exposed, that I must wait for a dark night 
or a fog to get it up. In the meanwhile the same bomb-battery 
that annoys the shipping can be turned upon the island, and 
shall be when I see what effects we work upon their men-of- 
war, who, I believe, are in a confounded scrape ; that is 
if our bombardiers are worth a farthing. I have the honour 
to be, 

Dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and most humble servant, 

Jam : Wolfe. 
To His Excellency Major-General Amherst^ 

Although the Brigadier was disappointed somewhat in the 
skill of his bombardiers, yet it was enough to frighten the French 
Admiral, Des Gouttes, nearly out of his wits. He wanted to 
escape out of the harbour while there was still a chance of success, 
but Drucourt, the Governor, backed by a council of war, refused 


To Major-General Amherst. 

June 20th, 1758. 

Dear Sir, — The hautbitser carriage broke after firing about 
ten rounds, so that we were soon hors de combat in our strongest 
quarter. Two pieces of 24 stuck so fast, as they were 
carrying down to our battery, that human strength could not 
move them time enough for service ; then my two batteries near 
the Lighthouse Point were not quite in condition of service ; to 
which an extraordinary circumstance may be added, that one of 
my 24-pounders — iron — was so stuffed in the touch-hole that 
it could not be employed all night, besides the distance was 
rather too great from the end of the North-east Harbour. 
I enclose you Captain Strachey''s^ letter, and beg you will be 
pleased to provide us with what is necessary to repair these 
hautbitsers, which we are all convinced are a most tremendous 
ordnance. The injury they received, proceeded, I believe, from 
the want of a platform of wood, and we are in great want of 
plank, because a good deal has been used to get the cannon 
through the bogs. We reckon that the ships were struck with 
about three shells, and one of them appears to be somewhat 
damaged ; and now that we have got their distance better, I 
hope the firing will be more effectual. I intend to errect a 
battery of one 24- and two 12-pounders on the other side of the 
water, to fire red-hot shot ; but I can't hope to get it done, nor 
to support it, unless you will be pleased to take post nearer to 
the Grand Battery. 

I send you an account of the behaviour of my party at 
L'Orembeck, — I mean the subalterns, which, I believe, will 
surprise you. They were, as far as I can find, all drunk and 
asleep, — sentries, guards, and all. The rum was sold to them 
by the masters of the ships they went in, whose names you shall 
have, and who should be made an example of. Our earth and 
sod are so very bad that I am obliged to have recourse to sand- 
bags, and our wood for pickets is extremely unfavourable ; not- 
withstanding which difficulties I shall persevere till we demolish 
these gentlemen, and then fall to work upon the island. They 
have thrown away a vast quantity of shot without hurting a 
man ; and indeed, unless by an extraordinary accident, we are 
not likely to lose many. Mr. Strachey complains also of his 
fusees, and he complains that he has no relief for his men, and 

' Afterwards Sir Henry Strachey, Bart. In 1764 he went out to India 
as Private Secretary to Lord Clive. 


that as the batteries are augmented and extended, he will hardly 
be able to serve them. We give them all possible assistance. 
Their confusion last night when we began was inexpressible, and 
their ships were lumbered ; prepared, I suppose, to sail. They 
cleared and made ready, and are now altering their position, in 
order to bring all their broadsides to bear against the hills. I 
shall work night and day to forward this business. Fascines, 
sods, etc., must be heaped up in immense quantities. As our 
fire increases, theirs will perhaps weaken. I found there was no 
manner of necessity for keeping the men out, so contented myself 
with small guards to give the men rest. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 1^ 

The bombardment was rigorously maintained against Goat 
Island until the 25th, when the battery there was silenced. Wolfe 
then rejoined Amherst, leaving a detachment of artillery behind to 
defend it against its former possessors. Yet even now Boscawen 
did not make the incui'sion Wolfe expected, and very soon the 
enemy sank four of their five remaining frigates ^ at the mouth of 
the harbour in order to obstruct the British entrance, bringing the 
crews ashore to reinforce the garrison. ^ The main besieging army 
were now about to push approaches against the west gate of the 
great fortress, and commence a real attack. On the morning of 
July 1 a skilful sortie was made from the town, but Wolfe was 
alert and ready for the foe, who were driven back with loss. 
Later in the day Wolfe set up a powerful battery on the hills 
overlooking Louisbourg to the north and began a new bombard- 
ment. In reporting the governor's complaints that civilians and 
women were being killed by shells, Wolfe wrote — 

To Major-General Amherst. 

Dear Sir, — When the French are in a scrape, they are 
ready to cry out in behalf of the human species ; when fortune 
favours them, none more bloody, more inhuman. Montcalm 
has changed the very nature of war, and has forced us, in some 
measure, to a deterring and dreadful vengeance. I shall set 

^ Out of six frigates one_, the Echo, had been captured while essaying to 
escape to Quebec. There were now in Louisbourg harbour five French ships 
of the Hne and one frigate. 

'^ Thirty men had been detached under Lieutenant Crosbie to L'Orembeck 
to protect the ships carrying fish for the army. New England rum bought 
from a Boston man named Stone was their undoing. 


about getting things in readiness for this battery, and must be 
excused for three or four days from other duty. \ 

It was hard work for the next fortnight — the hardest most of 
the officers present had ever known. An approach was being 
formed, involving the construction of roads across bogs, and the 
making of fascines in the midst of thick fogs or heavy downpours 
of rain. As if the work were not enough, the terrible small-pox 
raging in the garrison communicated itself to the besiegers. At 
one time a hundred carpenters under Colonel Messervey were hors 
de combat, that officer and his son both succumbing. Luckily, the 
utmost unity prevailed between the navy and army, and Boscawen 
constantly sent men to do soldiers' work in the batteries. 

Sorties took place frequently from the fort. His favourite 
Light Infantry had been highly trained by Wolfe. Their fiercest 
onsets were followed by instant retreat behind the dunes for shelter, 
so that such skirmishes invariably told against the enemy. This 
style of guerilla warfare, which then seemed novel and won much 
admiration, was the result of Wolfe's reading in history] At mess 
one day one of the captains remarked that these tactfcs reminded 
him of Xenophon's description of the Kaphovy^oi, who in his retreat 
over the mountains harassed his rear. Wolfe smiled. " I had it 
from Xenophon," he said simply, "but our friends here are 
astonished at what I have done because they have read nothing." 

On the night of the 9th the French enjoyed a stroke of good 
fortune. A company of Grenadiers commanded by Captain Lord 
Dundonald, and occupying a small redan on shore, were surprised 
by them. Dundonald and some of the others were killed, and but 
for the hasty intervention of a company of Highlanders who drove 
the assailants back, the rest would have been made prisoners. Four 
days later the Brigadier reported to Amherst that he was not 
satisfied with the work of the Engineers. " The parapets in general 
are too thin and the banquettes everywhere too narrow. The trench 
of the parallel should be wide, and the parapets more sloping. . . ." 
There were no accidents in the trenches to report, " very few shots 
in the night ; but this morning they threw several shells very near 
the lodgments." 

The siege continued to be pushed forward vigorously, in spite 
of heavy rains. On the 16th Wolfe led a body of Highlanders 
and Grenadiers to the heights in front of the fort, captured them 
and got a footing in the glacis, from which he poured down 
musketry on the parapet and embrasures. Things were going 


forward with certainty when on the 21st a lucky bombardier sent 
a bomb straight on the poop of the CeUhx, her magazine exploded 
and set fire to two other ships. The unhappy crews could not 
escape to the town, owing to the brisk play of the British batteries. 
Soon Des Gouttes had only two ships left. On the following day 
shells set the citadel in a blaze, but Amherst gave orders that the 
town w^as not to be destroyed. The French barracks caught next, 
and it was seen both within and without that Louisbourg was 
doomed. Nor had Brigadier Wolfe paused in his besieging work. 
He writes Amherst — 

To Major-General Amherst. 

Trenches at daybreak, 26th July. 

Dear Sir, — The five-gun battery is finished, and the cannon 
in readiness to mount. We want platforms, artillery officers to 
take the direction, and ammunition. If these are sent early, we 
may batter in breach this afternoon. Holland has opened a 
new boyau, has carried on about 140 or 150 yards, and is now 
within fifty or sixty yards of the glacis. The enemy were 
apprehensive of a storm, and fired smartly for about half an hour, 
which drove the workmen in ; but when the fire ceased they 
returned to their business, and did a great deal. You will be 
pleased to indulge me with six hours'' rest, that I may serve in 
the trenches at night. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Lest one wonder why Drucour held out so long in the face of 
such a forlorn hope it must be understood that it was in the highest 
degree important to French interests on the continent to gain 
time. In this particular his doggedness eventually succeeded. As 
long as he could make a resistance to the main British army the 
chances of Quebec's safety for that season would be increased, and 
Amherst could not reinforce Abercrombie. Moreover, succour 
might at the last moment reach him either from France or Canada. 
Wherefore the Governor turned a deaf ear to the representations 
and entreaties of the townsfolk, and steeled his heart against the 
sufferings of his garrison. For more than a week the soldiers had 
not slept ; when wounded they had no secure spot to lie where the 
shells of the besiegers would not reach them. Ammunition was 
growing scarce. Knowing something of this Boscawen resolved on 
a bold step, the first of that character he had ventured upon since 


the beginning of the siege. On the night of the 25th a flotilla 
under Captains Laforey and Balfour, consisting of 600 seamen, 
crept into the harbour and surprised both the remaining French 
vessels, the Bienfaisant and the Prudent yielding almost without 
a blow. The Prudent they were forced to burn when she ran 
aground, but Des Gouttes"* flagship they towed off" under Wolfe"'s 
batteries. A crowning misfortune for the French in Louisbourg 
this, for it left the harbour front of the fortress completely exposed. 
On the following day a message came from Drucour offering to 
capitulate. The joint commanders returned a reply that they did 
not wish any further bloodshed, but that a capitulation was not 
enough; they required a surrender at discretion. Otherwise the 
French would pay the penalty of further resistance. Drucour 
declared that rather than accept such terms he would suffer the 
consequences. But seeing the hopelessness of the situation, the 
garrison and inhabitants prevailed upon the Governor to alter his 
mind. The French officer once more sought the British camp. 
Trusting to the honour of a generous foe, ran Drucour's latest 
message, he would submit to the law of force.^ 

So fell Louisbourg, the most costly and most elaborately 
constructed fortress in the New World. With it all Cape Breton 
and Isle St. Jean (Prince Edward's Island) passed into British 
hands. On the morning of the 27th July Porte Dauphine and 
the west gate were opened, and at noon three thousand gallant 
French soldiers, drawn up before Whitmore, laid down their arms 
on the esplanade, besides nearly three thousand sailors made 

Wolfe writes to his mother, to whom he had not penned any 
letter since leaving Halifax, two months before — 

To HIS Mother. 

Camp before Louisbourg^ July 27th, 1768. 
Dear Madam, — I went into Louisbourg this morning to pay 
my devoirs to the ladies, but found them all so pale and thin 
with long confinement in a casemate, that I made my visit very 
short. The poor women have been heartily frightened, as well 
they might ; but no real harm, either during the siege or after 
it, has befallen any. A day or two more, and they would have 

^ " Letter of Chevalier de Drucour. Andover. Oct. 1." — Annual Register 

^ Of fifty-two cannon used against the besiegers forty were dismounted, 
broken, or spiked. 


been entirely at our disposal. I was determined to save as 
many lives, and prevent as much violence as I could, because I 
am sure such a step would be very acceptable to you, and very 
becoming. We have gone on slow and sure, and at length have 
brought things to a very good conclusion with little loss. If the 
rest of the campaign corresponds with the beginning, the people 
of England will have no reason to be dissatisfied. Kit Mason 
paid me a visit yesterday, in perfect health ; Gusty is very well ; 
little Herbert has never had an opportunity of coming near me. 
His ship goes home with the French prisoners, which Mrs. 
Herbert will be pleased to know. I hope to be with you by 
Christmas, though I protest to you that I had much rather 
besiege a place than pass four weeks at sea. If you are acquainted 
with Mrs. Bell of the hospital, I beg you will signify to her that 
her son has been of great use to me during the siege, has carried 
on business with great spirit and dispatch, and is an excellent 
officer.^ He got a slight scratch upon his right arm, but is quite 
recovered, though I have forbid his writing for fear of any 
inflammation. If he does write, Mrs. Bell must not take it 
amiss that it be an unusual scrawl. His next letter will be writ 
with a fine hand. I wish you all manner of happiness, and am, 
dear Madam, 

Your very affectionate Son, 

Jam: Wolfe. 

That day in Louisbourg must have been very favourable for 
letter-writing, for two other epistles came from the Brigadier'^s pen, 
the first to his father, and the other to his uncle. 

To HIS Father. 

Louisbourg, 27 July, 1758. 

Dear Sir, — I wrote you two or three letters from Halifax in 
relation to our voyage and preparations for the siege of Louis- 
burg. We got out as soon as possible, and came without any 
accident into the Bay of Gabarus, made a disposition for 
landing, and had very near been foiled in the attempt. By 
great good fortune, however, we got ashore, proceeded to attack 
the town and the shipping, and at length have succeeded in both. 
We burned four ships of the line and took one : the enemy sunk 
two frigates, and our squadron has caught a third, so that we 
have hurt their marine a little and possessed ourselves of Louis- 

* He afterwards made Captain Bell one of his aides-de-camp. 


burg. Our loss in all this affair — notwithstanding the most 
violent fire from the shipping, does not amount to much above 
400 men killed and wounded : that of the enemy at least three 
times as much. The garrison to the number of about two 
thousand men, are prisoners of war ; they laid down their arms 
this morning ; and we took possession of the town. Two of our 
captains of grenadiers are killed and 6 or 8 subaltern officers, 
and about as many wounded. The Indians and Canadians gave 
us very little trouble. I believe their chief was killed the day 
we landed, and the rest who are veritable canaille were a good 
deal intimidated. 

We have a report this day from the continent that an attack 
has been made upon some advanced post of the enemy with 
success, but that my Lord Howe ^ was killed in the beginning by 
a cannon shot ; his loss is irreparable, because there is not such 
another soldier in his Majesty's service, and I do not at all 
doubt but that, in two campaigns, he would have driven the 
French out of North America. We have been rather slow in 
our proceedings but still I hope there is fine weather enough left 
for another blow, and as our troops are improved by this seige, 
the sooner we strike the better. Two of the French men of war 
were boarded in the night by the boats of our fleet, and both 
taken. This coup was quite unexpected and astonishing, and 
indeed, if we had not been very well informed of their negligence 
and security, woiild appear to be a rash attempt. I see my 
name among the new Colonels ; ^ I hope Fisher will take care of 
my affairs, as he is intended for my agent. The climate is very 
healthy, though the air is foggy and disagreeable. I have been 
always very well since we landed, and have got through this 
business unhurt. My love to my mother. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

To Major Walter Wolfe. 

Camp before Louisbourg, 2*Jth July, 1768. 

Dear Sir, — It is impossible to go into any detail of our 

operations : they would neither amuse nor instruct, and we are 

all hurried about our letters. In general, it may be said that we 

made a rash and ill-advised attempt to land, and by the greatest 

^ Brigadier-General Viscount Howe, elder brother of Captain Howe, of 
the Magtianine, ^^ a character of ancient times/' declared Pitt, " a complete 
model of military virtue." 

2 Gazette, April 21, 1768. 



of good fortune imaginable we succeeded. If we had known the 
country, and had acted with more vigour, half the garrison at 
least (for they were all out) must have fallen into our hands 
immediately we landed. Our next operations were exceed- 
ingly slow and injudicious, owing partly to the difficulty of 
landing our stores and artillery, and partly to the ignorance and 
inexperience of the engineers. 

The Indians of the island gave us very little trouble. They 
attacked one of my posts (for I commanded a detatched corps) 
and were repulsed, and since that time they have been very quiet. 
I take them to be the most contemptible canaille upon earth. 
Those to the southward are much braver and better men ; these 
are a dastardly set of bloody rascals. We cut them to pieces 
whenever we found them, in return for a thousand acts of cruelty 
and barbarity. I do not penetrate our General's intentions. If 
he means to attack Quebec, he must not lose a moment. If we 
have good pilots to take us up the River St. Lawrence and can 
land at any tolerable distance from the place, I have no doubt of 
the event. 

There is a report that Abercrombie''s army has attacked the 
enemy's detached posts, and forced them, — that my Lord Howe 
is killed. If this last circumstance be true, there is an end of the 
expedition, for he was the spirit of that army, and the very best 
officer in the King's service, I lament the loss as one of the 
greatest that could befall the nation ; but perhaps it is not so, 
though I fear it much from the forward, determined nature of 
the man. Louisbourg is a little place and has but one casemate 
in it, hardly big enough to hold the women. Our artillery 
made havoc amongst them (the garrison), and soon opened the 
ramparts. In two days more we should have assaulted the place 
by land and by sea, and should certainly have carried it. If 
this force had been properly managed, there was an end of the 
French colony in North America in one campaign ; for we have, 
exclusive of seamen and marines, near to 40,000 men in arms. 
I wish you a great deal of health and peace, and am, dear Sir, 

Your obedient Nephew, 

J. Wolfe. 

It was provided in the capitulation that the garrison was to 
yield as prisoners of war, but that the inhabitants of Cape Breton 
and its appurtenances, including Louisbourg, were to be conveyed 
c c 


to France. On August 15, no fewer than 5637 French soldiers 
and seamen were carried prisoners to England. During the 
siege the enemy had lost more than 1000 men. The British 
loss was twenty-one officers and 150 privates killed, and thirty 
officers and 320 men wounded. Amongst the spoil were 240 
pieces of ordnance and 15,000 stand of arms. 

" Short by comparison as is the story of the New World,"" remarks 
Mr. Bradley, " he would be a dull soul who could stand unmoved 
by that deserted, unvisited, surf-beaten shore, where you may still 
trace upon the turf the dim lines of once busy streets, and mark 
the green mounds which hide the remains of the great bastions of 
Louisbourg. It has not been given in modern times to many 
centres of note and power to enjoy within the short space of a 
century and a half, at once such world-wide fame and such profound 
oblivion."" ^ 

Two days afterwards Wolfe wrote to the Commander-in-Chiefs 
brother 2 concerning the construction of roads for the removal of 
the artillery and the embarkation of the troops and stores. In 
this letter he alludes to Lord Ligonier's promise that he could 
return at the end of the campaign. 

To Captain William Amherst. 

Louisburg, 2^th July, 1758. 
Dear Amherst, — 

We have been guilty of a blunder in transporting the French 
arms to the camp ; they should have been deposited, under a 
guard, in the town, and kept there in readiness to embark. We 
have given ourselves a great deal of unnecessary trouble, and 
might have employed the waggons much more to the purpose. 
Put the General in mind oi pilots ; I daresay there are plenty in 
Louisbourg; their names should be known, in order to their 
being carried on board the men-of-war a day or two before we 
sail. Troops that have lost their arms, or have bad arms, may 
be supplied from these in the garrison. Please to hint to the 
General that the French flints are very good, and may be useful 
in his army. I write this by way of memorandum, knowing how 
many matters the general must have upon his hands in this hour 
of business. When does our express go off? 

^ Bradley, Fight with France for North America, p. 230. 

2 " Captain William Amherst^ whose son became Earl Amherst, was subse- 
quently a Lieutenant-General, Adjutant-General of the Forces and Governor 
of Newfoundland. He died in 1781."— Wright. 


As I am pretty much resolved not to stay in America more 
than this campaign, I hope the General will not put me to the 
necessity of insisting upon the Field Marshall's promise that I 
should return at the end of it. The corps of Light Infantry 
requires some regulation ; they should have a captain to every 
100 or 120, and exact equal numbers from every regiment, thirty 
per battalion. The volunteers should be again joined to that 
corps, with command of their respective regiments ; by this 
method they will be formidable. Their powder-horns are good 

I am, dear Amherst, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Wolfe's belief, expressed in the course of a long letter to 
Sackville, that Quebec might that summer have fallen was justified. 
For Montcalm would then have had no time or warning to make 
the dispositions he subsequently meide. 

To Lord George Sackville. 

Louisbourg, 30<A July, 1758. 

My Lord, — Amherst will tell your Lordship the history of 
the siege of Louisbourg. It turned out much as I expected in 
every particular. We treated the town with shot and shells, 
made a breach in the Bastion Dauphin, got the scaling ladders 
and everything ready for a general assault, and should have cut 
'em to pieces in 24 hours if they had not suiTendered. Three 
of their men of war were burnt by an accidental shot that is sup- 
posed to have struck upon iron and fired some powder between 
decks. The other two were boarded by the boats of the fleet with 
incredible audacity and conduct, and taken under the guns and 
within reach of the musquetry and ramparts. All the ^ve were 
disabled before these accidents happened. They had a numerous 
garrison, but ill-regulated and ill-conducted. There appeared 
very little judgment and still less spirit in their defence. Our 
landing was next to miraculous. In all encounters since the 
day we came ashore the enemy has been worsted, or as they call 
it — Us se sont hattu en retraite. Our trenches were carried 
within 40 or 50 yards of the glacis without mantelets, blinds 
or sap. 

If the whole fleet of France had been in the harbour (with 
a superiority without, Uen entendu) they would have been all 
destroyed, contrary to the opinion of most people here, sea 
and land, who had a terrible notion of their broadsides. By 

CO 2 


augmenting the artillery upon the shore in proportion to their 
numbers we could not fail of success. 

The French had 12 great mortars in readiness to bombard 
our fleet if they had come into the harbour, notwithstanding 
which the place in its best condition is not tenable against a 
squadron of men of war, and on the land side 'tis an affair of 
10 days to people that knew the country. 

The French have lost a considerable number of men and we 
on the contrary have suffered very little, so little that if we are 
carried directly to Quebec, notwithstanding the time of year, I 
am persuaded we shall take it. 

Mun-ay, my old antagonist,\has acted with infinite spirit. The 
public is indebted to him for great services in advancing by every 
method in his power the affairs of this siege. Amherst no doubt 
will do him all manner of justice, and your lordship will get him 
a regiment or the rank of colonel. Little Smith,^ your acquaint- 
ance, has been with me the whole siege (for I have had the honour 
to command a detached corps posted from the Light House to 
the Baruchois). He is a most indefatigable, active, and spirited 
man and has a just claim to your favour and friendship. He is 
slightly woimded with a musket ball, but will soon be well. 

The Highlanders have behaved with distinction, their com- 
pany of Grenadiers has suffered, 3 of the officers killed and the 
fourth dangerously wounded. Amherst's regiment lost twenty 
or two and twenty Grenadiers the day we landed, most of them 
were drowned. I wouldn't recommend the Bay of Gabarus for 
a descent, especially as we managed it. 

Your lordship will have heard the story of my Lord 
Dundonald's surprise, defeat, and death. Whitmore's Grenadiers 
took satisfaction for the affront that was put upon us by the 
neglect of this young officer, and beat the French back into 
the town with loss. Our troops scalped an Indian Sachem the 
day we landed, and have killed some of the black tribe since. 
They are intimidated and scarce dare appear before the most 
inconsiderable of our parties. 

The Admiral and the General have carried on public service 
with great harmony, industry, and union. Mr. Boscawen has 
given all and even more than we could ask of him. He has 
furnished arms and ammunition, pioneers, sappers, miners, 

Lieut.-Col. the Hon. James Murray and Wolfe had had a dispute during 

[ighlands' campaign, 1746. 

Hervey Smith, his aide-de-camp at Quebec. 


gunners, carpenters, boats, and is I must confess no bad fantassin 
himself, and an excellent back-hand at a siege. Sir Charles 
Hardy, too, in particular, and all the officers of the navy in 
general, have given us their utmost assistance and with the 
greatest cheerfulness imaginable. I have been often in pain for 
Sir Charles''s squadron at an anchor off the harbour's mouth. 
They rid out some very hard gales of wind rather than leave an 
opening for the French to escape, but notwithstanding the 
utmost diligence on his side, a frigate found means to get out 
and is gone to Europe charge de fanfaronades. I had the satis- 
faction of putting two or three haut-vitzer shells into his stem, 
and to shatter him a little with some of your lordship's 24 
pound shot before he retreated, and I much question whether he 
will hold out the voyage. 

The French troops and Marine se sentent un peu rnortlfie de 
leur disgrace^ and think the terms hard that are imposed upon 
them. This blow well followed will give a blow to the American 
War, and tho' I am neither inhuman nor rapacious yet I own 
it would give me pleasure to see the Canadian vermin sacked and 
pillaged and justly repaid their unheard-of cruelty. If my Lady 
George knew my sentiments ''Homme brutal et sanguinaire I '''' 
she would cry. If his Majesty had thought proper to let 
Carleton come with us as engineer and Delaune and 2 or 3 more 
for the light Foot, it would have cut the matter much shorter, 
and we might now be ruining the walls of Quebec and completing 
the conquest of New France. So much depends upon the 
abilities of individuals in war, that there cannot be too great 
care taken in the choice of men for the different offices of trust 
and importance. 

Before I finish my letter it may not be amiss to observe that 
to defend the Isle Royale ^ it is necessary to have a body of 4 
or 5 thousand men in readiness to march against whatever force 
of the enemy attempts to land. In short, there must be an 
army to defend the island ; the re-inforcement (to form a corps 
for this purpose jointly with the Garrison) should be sent in 
May and carried off in October. We must not trust to the 
place, or to any of those batteries now constructed for the 
defence of the harbour. When the ground is surveyed I shall 
do myself the honour to point out to your lordship some proper 
spots for the construction of new batteries which may be done 
in ten days with facines, and be much stronger than any of 
1 Prince Edward's Island. 


those constructed with masonry. We have a report among us 
that my Lord Howe is killed. I will not believe such bad 
tidings. That brave officer will live, I hope, to contribute his 
share of courage and abilities to support our reputation and 
carry on our affairs with success. 

Whitmore is a poor, old, sleepy man. Blakeney lost St. 
Philips by ignorance and dotage : take more care of Louisbourg 
if you mean to keep it. 

The fascines and gabions made at Halifax were articles of 
the last degree of extravagance and bad economy, in the style 
of that Colony ; but in other respects this must have been the 
cheapest siege that ever was carried on. The soldiers worked 
with the utmost cheerfulness, and upon one occasion several 
women turned out volunteers to drag artillery to the batteries. 
If the enemy had waited for the assault they would have paid 
very dear for their presumption. The men were animated with 
perfect rage against them, and asked impatiently when we were 
to storm the town. 

I believe we might have cut off at least one half of the 
garrison the day we landed, if the country had been as well 
known to us as it is now ; but our measures have been cautious 
and slow from the beginning to the end, except in landing 
where there was an appearance of temerity. 

You know I hold Mr. Knowles in the utmost contempt as an 
officer, an engineer, and a citizen. He built a useless cavalier 
upon the Bastion Dauphin which fell to my share to demolish, 
and we did it effectually in a few hours. The famous marine 
cavalier was so constructed that the artillery of the bastion 
upon which it stood had hardly room to work, and the people 
were so sheltered that we drove 'em from their guns with our 

I have just learnt that the ''Shannon"" is under sail, and I 
have learnt a great deal of bad news — that my Lord Howe is 
certainly killed, and Clarke killed, and Abercombie's army 
repulsed with considerable loss. We are told too that the fleet 
wants provisions, that the anchors and cables of the transports 
have been so damaged in Gabarus Bay that an expedition up 
the River St. Lawrence is now impracticable. 

*Jth Augiist. 
As the sea officers seem to think that no attack can be made 
from Quebec nor no diversion up the River St. Lawrence, why 


we don"'t send immediate reinforcements to Abercrombie I 
cannot divine. I have told Mr. Amherst that if Lawrence has 
any objection to going, I am ready to embark with a brigade 
or whatever he pleases to send up to Boston or New York, and 
if he does not find me some emplo3niient at Gaspe or some- 
where else (supposing Lawrence goes to the Continent) I shall 
desire my demission to join my regiment upon the expedition, 
although I can hardly hope to get home in time unless you are all 
gone to St. Philips. The ministry of England do not see that 
to possess the Isle of Aix with 5 or 6 battalions and a fleet, is 
one or other of the most brilliant and most useful strokes that 
this nation can possibly strike. It stops up at once the 
harbours of Rochefort and Rochelle, obstructs and ruins the 
whole trade of the Bay of Biscay, inevitably brings on a sea- 
fight which we ought by all means to aim at, and is the finest 
diversion that can possibly be made with a small force. St. 
Martin's, against which (by the preparations) your force is 
probably bent, is difficult to take, and of little use when you 
get it, whereas the other has every advantage that I have 
mentioned and is besides of easy defence. If you will honour 
me with the command of 4,000 upon that island and give me 
a good quantity of artillery, fascines, and sand-bags, I will 
establish myself in such a manner as to make it no easy matter 
to drive me out, and I am very sure the French would exchange 
Minorca or anything else to get it back again. 

We hear that Mr. Provost has got a Commission as Brigadier. 
He is most universally detested by all ranks of people, and the 
ministers cannot do worse than let him serve in the army. He 
is fit for no sort of command, and does not know how to obey. 

The arms, stores, etc. for Forbes"* corps were so long in 
getting to him that the Cherokee Indians went off just as he 
was prepared to march. They were tired on waiting for such 
tardy warriors. 

Notwithstanding the unlucky accident that has betaken the 
troops under Mr. Abercromby I am fully persuaded if we act 
vigorously here for one summer more and can get people who 
will venture up to Quebec — and if you will afterwards (in the 
autumn) exert your utmost force in the West Indies by joining 
the superfluity of this army to troops from Europe — such 
advantage might be made of our present superiority as the 
enemy would not easily recover, and a peace may be procured 
upon your own terms; and better push on a year longer, or 


even two, if it be possible, than have the business to begin again 
— six or eight years hence. 

I am afraid that this time Mr. Abercromby is left to defend 
himself with the remains of his regular troops. The Americans 
are in general the dirtiest most contemptible cowardly dogs that 
you can conceive. There is no depending on them in action. 
They fall down dead in their own dirt and desert by battalions, 
officers and all. Such rascals as those are rather an encumbrance 
than any real strength to an army.^ 

I find that a lieutenant of the first Regiment is put over 
Carleton's head. Can Sir John Ligonier allow his Majesty to 
remain unacquainted with the merit of that officer, and can he 
see such a mark of displeasure without endeavouring to soften or 
clear the matter up a little ? A man of honour has a right to 
expect the protection of his Colonel and of the Commander of 
the troops, and he can't serve without it. If I was in Carleton's 
place I wouldn't stay an hour in the army after being aimed at 
and distinguished in so remarkable a manner. 

If you have been upon any business,^ as I believe you have, I 
heartily hope that you have been successful, and sorry since we 
have so little to do here that I couldn't assist at the head of my 
young battalion. 

I am, my Lord, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

There was a fortnight of repose for Wolfe and the army after 
the heroic exertions of the siege. 

To HIS Father. 

Camp near Louisbourg, *Jth August, 1758. 

Dear Sir, — We are gathering strawberries and other wild 
fruits of the country, with a seeming indifference about what is 
doing in other parts of the world. Our army, however, on the 
continent wants our help, as they have been repulsed with loss. 
My Lord Howe, the noblest Englishman that has appeared in 
my time, and the best soldier in the army, fell by the hands of 
a couple of miscreants that did not dare to stay long enough to 
see him fall. Poor Mrs. Page^ will die of grief; and I reckon 

1 This is not the only testimony we have to the undisciplined character of 
the Colonists, even then ripe for rebellion. See Sparks' Washington. 

2 Sackville had been appointed to high command in Germany. 

3 Judith, daughter of the first Viscount Howe and wife of Thomas, son of 
Sir Gregory Page, Bart. The third Lord Howe was her nephew. 


my good friend Sir Gregory will be greatly concerned. Heavens, 
what a loss to the country ! the bravest, worthiest, and most 
intelligent man among us ! I thought his brother would have 
been starved. For several days he refused to eat, and could not 
bear to have anybody near him, even of his most intimate 
friends. The excess of grief is at length worn off, and I hope 
he will do well again. 

I am in a kind of doubt whether I go to the continent or 
not. Abercromby is a heavy man, and Brigadier Provost the 
most detestable dog upon earth, by everybody's account. These 
two officers hate one another. Now, to serve in an army so 
circumstanced is not a very pleasing business. If my Lord 
Howe had lived, I should have been very happy to have received 
his orders ; or if I thought that I could be useful or serviceable, 
the ugly face of affairs there wouldn't discourage me from 
attempting it. If the King had not been pleased to give me 
a regiment, I should have ruined myself and you ; for we are at 
a vast expense, and you know I never plunder, — except some 
dried cod which Captain Rodney ^ is so good to take for you and 
your friends. I much doubt if it will be worth your acceptance ; 
the Madeira, if it gets home, will be a better present. Amongst 
other good things that are derived from my new honours, that 
of paying back to Fisher the kindness he has done me is not the 
least ; of course he is my agent. I send the letter of attorney 
by this conveyance. The account you give of my mother's 
improved state of health, and the good condition of your own, 
is the most pleasing part of your letter. If you will send the 
like intelligence to the continent I shall help to make war very 
cheerfully, though my carcase is not of the toughest. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Wolfe was by no means, as we see, satisfied with the simple 
capture of Louisbourg, and lu'ged vehemently upon his friend 
Amherst that, late as the season was, an attempt on Quebec should 
be made. Amherst replied on the 6th : " La belle saison will get 
away indeed; what I most wish is to go to Quebec. I have 
proposed it to the Admiral, who is the best judge whether or no 
we can get up there, and yesterday he seemed to think it 

^ Afterwards Lord Rodney. 


Wolfe's reply to this is strong enough, and left no doubt as to 
his own views. 

To Major-General Amherst. 

Tuesday morning, August Qth, 1768. 

Dear Sir, — All accounts agree that General Abercroniby''s 
army is cut deep, and all the last advices from those parts trace 
the bloody steps of those scoundrels the Indians. As an 
Englishman, I cannot see these things without the utmost 
horror and concern. We all know how little the Americans 
are to be trusted ; by this time, perhaps, our troops are left to 
defend themselves, after losing the best of our officers.^ If the 
Admiral will not carry us to Quebec, reinforcements should 
certainly be sent to the continent without losing a moment's 
time. The companies of Rangers, and the Light Infantry, 
would be extremely useful at this juncture ; whereas here they 
are perfectly idle, and, like the rest, of no manner of service to 
the public. If Lawrence has any objection to going I am ready 
to embark with four or five battalions, and will hasten to the 
assistance of our countrymen. I wish we were allowed to address 
the Admiral, or I wish you yourself, Sir, would do it in form. 

This d d French garrison take up our time and attention, 

which might be better bestowed upon the interesting affairs of 
the continent. The transports are ready, and a small envoy 
would carry a brigade to Boston or New York. With the rest 
of the troops we might make an offensive and a destructive war 
in the Bay of Fundy and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. I beg 
pardon for this freedom, but I cannot look coolly upon the 
bloody inroads of those hell-hounds the Canadians; and if 
nothing further is to be done, I must desire leave to quit 
the army. 

I am, dear Sir, your most obedient servant, etc., etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Adopting Wolfe''s suggestion Amherst had a meeting with 
Boscawen, who agreed to support the plan and send a detach- 
ment to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Quebec being impracticable. 
For Ticonderoga had fallen, and Abercrombie's retreat made it 
incumbent on Amherst to send him reinforcements via Boston. 
The commanders believed they would be able to send three 
battalions to the St. Lawrence and two to the Bay of Fundy. 

^ This deserves to be quoted as an example of Wolfe's penetration, together 
with his famous prophecy of empire for America, in his next letter. 


To HIS Mother. 

Louisbourg, Wth Aug.y 1768. 

Dear Madam, — To show you that Mr. Herbert and I are 
acquainted (though not so well nor so long as I would wish) he 
can-ies home this letter, in return for that I brought him. The 
poor child has had a severe campaign and would (if Mr. Collins 
his Captain had not taken great care of him) be perished with the 
scurvy long since, but he has fallen into good hands and seems to 
be pretty healthy. 

The early season in this country, — I mean the months of 
April and^May, — are intolerably cold and disagreeable ; June and 
July are foggy ; August rainy ; September has always a tempest ; 
October is generally a dry, fair month ; and the winter sets in 
early in November. Further to the south, and along the con- 
tinent of America which we possess, there is a variety of climate, 
and, for the most part, healthy and pleasant, so that a man may, 
— if he gives himself the trouble, and his circumstances permit — 
live in perpetual spring or summer by changing his abode with 
the several changes of the seasons. Such is our extent of territory 
upon this fine continent, that an inhabitant may enjoy the kind 
influence of moderate warmth all the year round. These colonies 
are deeply tinged with the vices and bad qualities of the mother 
country ; and, indeed, many parts of it are peopled with those 
that the law or necessity has forced upon it. Notwithstanding 
these disadvantages, and notwithstanding the treachery of their 
neighbours the French, and the cruelty of their neighbours the 
Indians, worked up to the highest pitch by the former, this will, 
some time hence, be a vast empire, the seat of power and learn- 

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. If we had been 
as lucky this campaign as we had reason to expect, and had not 
lost the great man, whom I shall ever lament, the comer-stone 
would probably have been laid of this great fabric. It is my 
humble opinion that the French name would soon have been 
unknown in North America, and still may be rooted out, if 
our Government will follow the blows they have given, and 
prosecute the war with the vigour it requires. We have 
been extremely fortimate in this business. If Abercromby had 
acted with half as much caution and prudence as General 


Amherst did, this must have been a dear campaign to the 

I am, dear Madam, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 
To HIS Father. 

Louisbourg, 21st August, 1768. 

Dear Sir, — I write by all the ships that go. Sir Charles 
Hardy and I are preparing to rob the fishermen of their nets, 
and to bum their huts. When the great exploit is at an 
end (which we reckon will be a month's or five weeks' work), 
I return to Louisbourg, and from thence to England, if no 
orders arrive in the meanwhile that oblige me to stay. The 
fleet do not go up the river St. Lawrence, nor southward to 
the West Indies, so that of necessity they must get away from 
hence before the bad weather sets in, leaving, I suppose, a few 
ships in the Harbour of Halifax, where they may winter very 
commodiously. The army is about to disperse. General Am- 
herst carries six battalions to the continent ; Monckton takes two 
up the Bay of Fundy ; and I have the honour to command three 
in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, to distress the enemy's fishery, and 
to alarm them. We are very earnest to hear what has been 
doing in Europe, or whether anything has been done at all 
by us. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

So Sir Charles Hardy, seven ships of the line and three frigates, 
carrying Wolfe and three regiments — Amherst's, Bragg's and 
Anstruther's — parted on their mission of spreading the terror of the 
British arms through the French gulf settlements. It was hoped 
that Montcalm at Quebec would be sufficiently alarmed not to 
detach any of his force for the assistance of Abercrombie's opponent. 
This measure, distasteful as it was, Wolfe carried out with great 
thoroughness. Quebec was spared for the present to the French. 

Amherst left with his division for New York, whither Wolfe 
sent the following on his own return to Louisbourg. This letter 
exhibits the very intimate relations between the two men, as 
Wolfe herein undertakes to advise his chief. 

To Major-General Amherst. 

Louisbourg, 30^A September, 1768. 

Dear Sir, — Your orders were carried into execution as far as 
troops who were limited in their operations by other powers, 


could carry them. I have made my report to General 
Abercromby, to which (as it is pretty long) I beg to refer. ^ Our 
equipment was very improper for the business, and the numbers, 
unless the squadron had gone up the river, quite unnecessary. 
We have done a great deal of mischief, — spread the terror of 
His Majesty's arms through the whole gulf; but have added 
nothing to the reputation of them. The Bay of Gaspe and the 
harbour are both excellent, and now well known to our fleet. 
By the beginning of the month of July, I hope the river of 
Quebec will be as well known ; although the aversion to that 
navigation, and the apprehensions about it, are inconceivably 
great. If you do business up the river, you must have small craft 
and a number of whale-boats, two at least to each transport. 
Pilots are easily had for sloops and schooners ; every fisherman 
in the river can conduct them up. If you had sent two large 
empty cats,'^ I could have loaded them with 30,000 pounds' worth 
of the finest dried cod you ever saw ; but you won't make money 
when it is in your power, though there are such examples before 
your eyes. The two regiments are gone to Halifax, except fifty 
or sixty recovering men, who followed the squadron. 

Frontenac is a great stroke. An offensive, daring kind of 
war will awe the Indians and ruin the French. Block-houses, 
and a trembling defensive, encourage the meanest scoundrels to 
attack us. The navy showed their happy disposition for plun- 
dering upon this, as upon all former occasions, and I indulged 
them to the utmost. I wish you success. Cannonade furiously 
before you attack, and don't let them go on in lines, but rather 
in columns : — i i i » i » CZZD Cela ne vaut rien pour les 
retranchements, Voild Vaffaire : ^^ ==^ =^ ^= ==- Mr. 
Boscawen is in haste to get back. No return to the express of 
the surrender of Louisbourg. If you will attempt to cut up 
New France by the roots, I will come back with pleasure to 
assist. I wish you health, and am, dear Sir, with great regard, 
Your most obedient and most humble servant. 

Jam. Wolfe. 

For the present Wolfe's work was done. Boscawen being about 
to sail for home in the Namur, Wolfe, not receiving any orders 
to the contrary, offered to accompany him, leaving his officers and 

1 I also omit as repetition his lengthy report to Barrington. 

2 Catamarans, flat-bottomed boats. 


men with Whitmore, the new Governor of Louisbourg, M. Drucour's 
successor in the governorship. 

Not then did Wolfe know that Chatham's intention was that 
he should remain in North America, that he was already in the 
great minister's eye as the man who was to carry out the next and 
final coup for the mastery of the continent. They had a long 
passage, but it was enlivened towards the close by the Namur and 
her consort's meeting off Land's End with a French fleet of seven 
men-of-war lately in the St. Lawrence, homeward boxmd like 
themselves. Wolfe hoped for an action which would make the 
enemy a prize, but after a few shots had been exchanged the French 
got away at night. On the 1st of November the British squadron 
anchored at St. Helens, and Wolfe rowed across to Portsmouth, 
where he landed on the Hard that evening. 

To HIS Mother. 

Wednesday night. 
Dear Madam, — A messenger is dispatched to the Admiralty 
with an account of Mr. Boscawen's arrival, and that opportunity 
serves me of letting you know that I am safe ashore, notwith- 
standing rocks currents and other mischiefs and perils of the 
sea. Kit Mason is perfectly well and like to become an able 
mariner of which I beg you to acquaint his mother. I am 
extremely sorry to hear that my father is not so well as I wish 
him. My duty to him. 

I am, dear Madam, 

Your affectionate son. 

Jam : Wolfe. 
To Mrs. Wolfe, 




On Wolfe's arrival in his native land after the brilliant exploit 
of Louisboiirg (of which he was generally regarded as the hero) he 
at once wrote to the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Ligonier, requesting 
furlough. He was anxious to see his regiment and his regimental 
friends, so, instead of going straight up to London, posted off to 
Salisbury. Since his promotion to the Colonelcy of the 67th 
regiment, the Lieutenant-Colonelcy of his old regiment, the 
Twentieth, passed to Major Beckwith, whose rank was given to 
Captain Maxwell. The Twentieth was now in Germany, fighting 
under Prince Ferdinand, and shortly to win distinction at Minden. 
A few days later he writes to Blackheath. 

To HIS Father. 

Salisbury, Qth November, 1768. 

Dear Sir, — Somebody told me that you were seen in 

London within these few days, which I was particularly pleased 

to hear, because at Portsmouth there was a report of your being 

out of order. You might well expect that I should have been 

to pay my duty to you before this time ; but it seemed right to 

wait for the Marshal's leave to go to town, and nowhere so 

properly as at the regiment. His Excellency hath not done me 

the honour to answer my letter yet, and I cannot stir till he 

does ; so I must content myself with wishing you and my mother 

all imaginable good. 

I am, dear Sir, etc. 

Jam: Wolfe. 

The expected leave came a few days later ; he was once more at 
Blackheath, revelling for a brief interval in the open air of the 
park and in his dogs. His aged father had now only a few months 
to live. 

To Major Walter Wolfe. 

Blackheath, VJth November , 1758. 
Dear Sir, — I wish I could say that my health was such 
as a soldier should have. Long passages and foggy weather have 



left their natural effects upon me. The people here say I look 
well. No care shall be wanting to get ready for the next 
campaign. They can propose no service to me that I shall 
refuse to undertake, unless where capacity is short of the task. 
We met a squadron of homeward-bound French men-of-war, and 
did our utmost to engage them, though with inferior force. 
Their destruction would almost have annihilated the French 
navy. My father looks well, and is well for the time of life ; and 
my mother does not complain. I hope you continue to enjoy a 
share of health. My father tells me that he has added some- 
thing to my cousin Goldsmith's little income : his liberality 
towards such of our relations as need it is most commendable. If 
fortune smile upon us, I shall endeavour to follow his example. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

But London claimed him. Although his name was not 
mentioned in the Parliamentary vote of thanks tendered to Boscawen 
and Amherst, he being a subordinate officer, yet in military and 
political circles he was credited with the lion's share of the achieve- 
ment. He soon learnt, however, that Pitt was rather disconcerted 
at his sudden return with Boscawen. On receiving the report of 
the fall of Louisbourg, orders had been sent to the young Brigadier 
to remain on the other side of the Atlantic, with a view to his 
assumption of chief command of Pitt's next venture. These orders 
had not arrived when Wolfe left. When the Minister's expectations 
had been explained to him after a dinner with some military 
friends, including Sackville, at White's Club, he wrote at once. 

To THE Right Honorable William Pitt. 

St. James St., Nov. 22, 1758. 

Sir, — Since my arrival in town, I have been told that your 
intentions were to have continued me upon the service in America. 
The condition of my health, and other circumstances, made me 
desire to return at the end of the campaign ; and by what my 
Lord Ligonier did me the honour to say, I imderstood it was to 
be so. General Amherst saw it in the same light. 

I take the freedom to acquaint you that I have no objection 
to serving in America, and particularly in the river St. Lawrence, 
if any operations are to be carried on there. The favour I ask 
is only to be allowed a sufficient time to repair the injury done 


to my constitution by the long confinement at sea, that I may 
be the better able to go through the business of the next 

I have the honour to be, with the utmost respect, 

Sir, you most obedient and most humble servant, 

Jam. Wolfe. 

This letter cleared the air, and it also confirmed the great 
minister in his original intentions to " defy the claims of seniority " 
in the impending campaign. " Had he consulted those claims 
only," says Stanhope, " — had he, like many Ministers before and 
after him, thought the Army List an unerring guide, — he might 
probably have sent to Canada a veteran experienced and brave, but 
no longer quick and active, and might perhaps have received in 
return a most eloquent and conclusive apology for being beaten ; 
or for standing still ! "" When he wrote the letter Wolfe might 
easily have supposed he would serve with Amherst, then in 
America; when he received it Pitfs mind was made up to give 
the leadership of the new project to Wolfe. 

Pitt was confirmed in his choice by the opinion which the 
officers who had just served with Wolfe in America entertained of 
him. Not long since a document came to light amongst the 
Colonial Archives in which three of the most able of the colonels 
serving there applied to Pitt to retain Brigadier Wolfe as com- 
mander in the St. Lawrence. A plan of attack by that river was 
outlined, together with the forces necessary. Amherst being now 
Commander-in-Chief on the continent, the signatories to the letter 
strongly recommended Wolfe for the command.^ 

That same evening, in St. James's street, Wolfe began an epistle 
to Rickson, which, however, he did not finish then, but carried it 
with him on the morrow, when he set out to rejoin his regiment at 

What he had accomplished with the 20th, Wolfe had already 
begun to do with the new regiment (the 67th) he had raised, and 
of which he was the first Colonel. Sir James Campbell, who ten 
years later was in command of the corps, marched them before 
Count Butterlin, the Russian General at Minorca, who expressed 
himself astonished at their appearance and discipline, as well as 
"the precision and rapidity with which they performed their 
evolutions." " The regiment," Campbell observes, " was un- 
doubtedly in a high state of discipline ; but the only merit which 

1 S. P., Colonial (America and West Indies) 76, Dec. 29, 1758. 

D D 


on that account was due to me was the attention and strictness 
with which I followed the system which had been introduced by its 
former colonel, the hero of Quebec." ^ 

To Colonel Rickson.^ 

Salisbury, 1*^ December, 1758. 

My dear Friend, — Your letter, dated in September, as well 
as the last you did me the favour to write, are both received, and 
with the greatest satisfaction. I do not reckon that we have 
been fortunate this year in America. Our force was so superior 
to the enemy's that we might hope for greater success ; but it 
pleased the Disposer of all things to check our presumption, 
by permitting Mr. Abercromby to hurry on the precipitate 
attack of Ticonderoga, in which he failed with loss. By the 
situation of that fort, by the superiority of our naval force 
there, and by the strength of our army, which could bear to be 
weakened by detachments, it seems to me to have been no very 
difficult matter to have obliged the Marquis de Montcalm to 
have laid down his arms, and, consequently, to have given up all 
Canada. In another circumstance, too, we may be reckoned 
unlucky. The squadron of men-of-war, under De Chaffrueil, 
failed in their attempt to get into the harbour of Louisbourg, 
where inevitably they would have shared the fate of those that 
did, which must have given an irretrievable blow to the marine 
of France, and deliver Quebec into our hands, if we chose to go 
up and demand it. 

Amongst ourselves be it said, that our attempt to land 
where we did was rash and injudicious, our success unexpected 

1 Memoirs of Sir James Campbell of Ardkinglass. 

2 Rickson afterwards settled in Scotland, where he was highly esteemed. 
In 1763 he was appointed hy Government to superintend the formation of 
roads through the shires of Dumfries^ Galloway, and Wigton, a duty which 
he performed with remarkable industry and talent. In 1767 he married 
Euphemia, daughter of Dr. Bremner of Edinburgh, and was promoted to the 
office of Quartermaster-General of North Britain, though only with the rank 
of Lieutenant-Colonel. The Duke of Queensberry was endeavouring to 
obtain a Colonel's commission for him, and the matter was nearly settled, 
when this active and amiable officer was attacked with paralysis, and died 
without issue at Broughton, near Edinburgh, on the 19th July, 1770. His 
remains were interred in the churchyard at Restalrig, where a handsome 
tomb was erected by his widow, who survived him many years. The letters 
addressed to him by Wolfe were discovered in the year 1849 in an old military 
chest supposed to contain only army reports and useless documents. The 
letters were presented by their then owner, a distant connection of Ricksou's, 
to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, in whose museum at Edinburgh 
they now are. See Buchanan's Glasgow, Past and Present. 


(by me) and undeserved. There was no prodigious exertion of 
courage in the affair ; an officer and thirty men would have 
made it impossible to get ashore where we did. Our proceedings 
in other respects are as slow and tedious^ as this undertaking 
was ill-advised and desperate ; but this for your private informa- 
tion only. We lost time at the siege, still more after the 
siege, and blundered from the beginning to the end of the 
campaign. My Lord Howe's death (who was truly a great man) 
left the army upon the Continent without life or vigour. This 
defeat at Ticonderoga seemed to stupify us that were at 
Louisbourg ; if we had taken the first hint of that repulse, and 
sent early and powerful succours, things would have taken, 
perhaps, a different turn in those parts before the end of 
October. I expect every day to hear that some fresh attempts 
have been made at Ticonderoga, and I can't flatter myself that 
they have succeeded, not from any high idea of the Marquis de 
Montcalm's abilities, but from the very poor opinion of our own. 
You have obliged me much with this little sketch of that 
important spot ; till now I have been ill-acquainted with it. 
Bradstreet's coup was masterly. He is a very extraordinary 
man ; and if such an excellent officer as the late Lord Howe had 
the use of Bradstreet's battue knowledge, it would turn to a good 
public account. 

When I went from hence. Lord Ligonier told me that I was 
to return at the end of the campaign ; but I have learned since 
I came home that an order is gone to keep me there; and I 
have this day signified to Mr. Pitt that he may dispose of my 
slight carcass as he pleases, and that I am ready for any under- 
taking within the reach and compass of my skill and cunning. 
I am in a very bad condition both with the gravel and rheumatism, 
but I had much rather die than decline any kind of service that 
offers. If I followed my own taste, it would lead me into 
Germany; and if my poor talent was consulted, they would 
place me in the cavalry, because nature has given me good eyes, 
and a warmth of temper to follow the first impressions. How- 
ever, it is not our part to choose, but to obey. My opinion is, 
that I shall join the army in America, where, if fortune favours 
our force and best endeavours, we may hope to triumph. 

^ *' The engineer who directed the approaches [at Louisbourg] was a very 
formal man^ of whose slowness Wolfe did not scruple greatly to complain. 
'My maxim/ said the engineer^ 'is slow and sure.' 'And mine,' instantly 
replied Wolfe, ' is quick and sure — dk much better maxim ! ' " — Quarterly Review, 
vol. 185, p. 104. 

D D 2 


I have said more than enough of myself. It is time to turn 
a little to your affairs. Nothing more unjust than the great 
rank lately thrown away upon little men, and the good servants 
of the state neglected. Not content with frequent solicitations 
in your behalf, I writ a letter just before I embarked, putting 
my Lord George Sackville in mind of you, and requesting his 
protection ; his great business, or greater partialities, has made 
him overlook your just pretensions. If you come to town in 
January, I shall be there, and will do you all the service I am 
able, but Lord Ligonier seems particularly determined not to 
lay the weight of any one obligation on me ; so you may hold 
my good inclination in higher value than my power to assist. 
You have my best wishes, and I am, truly, 
My dear friend. 

Your faithful and obedient servant, 

James Wolfe. 

To a letter of congratulation from one of the captains of the 
20th, then on the Continent, he wrote — 

To Captain Parr. 

Salisbury, Qth December , 1768. 
Dear Parr, — Your remembrance and congratulations upon 
my return to Europe are most acceptable, and I shall always set 
a value upon your friendship and good opinion. It gives me the 
utmost satisfaction to hear of the good behaviour of your 
regiment, and I don't at all doubt but they will be still more 
distinguished when they are more tried. They are led by the 
same captains who have assisted in establishing the sound 
discipline that prevails amongst you ; and there is no reason to 
suppose other than the natural effects whenever it comes to the 
proof. My people, I find, are much out of humour with your 
chief. ^ I hope you have no such temper amongst you. It is my 
fortune to be cursed with American service, yours to serve in an 
army commanded by a great and able Prince, where I would have 
been if my choice and inclinations had been consulted. Our old 
comrade, Howe,^ is at the best trained battalion in all America ; 
and his conduct in the course of the last campaign corresponded 
entirely with the opinion we had all entertained of him. His 

^ Lord George Sackville, the Duke of Marlborough's successor as Com- 
mander-in-Chief in Germany. 

2 Sir Willkim, afterwards Lord Howe, afterwards to surrender at Yorktown. 


Majesty has not a better soldier in those parts, — modest, diligent, 
and valiant. His brother was a great man ; this country has 
produced nothing like him in my time; his death cannot be 
enough lamented. You must continue to be upon good terms 
with the Hanoverian Guards ; they deserve your esteem. Your 
quarters are not, I believe, amongst the best, nor, I fear, amongst 
the cheapest. 

The first news that I heard at Portsmouth was the death of 
M''Dowall ; ^ what a loss was there ! I have hardly ever known 
a better Foot officer, or a better man, — clear, firm, resolute, and 
cool. My health is mightily impaired by the long confinement 
at sea. I am going directly to the Bath, to refit for another 
campaign. We shall look, I imagine, at the famous post at 
Ticonderoga, where Mr. Abercromby, by a little soldiership and 
a little patience, might, I think, have put an end to the war in 
America. General Amherst thought the entrenchments so im- 
proved as to require more ceremony in the second attack than 
the season would allow of. You will always have my best wishes. 
I asked immediately, — Did Kingsley's come into action ? How 
did they behave ? The answer was, — There is no doubt that 
they would have done well, but there was no enemy to try them. 
My compliments to the corps. I hope Grey has his health, and 
Carleton.^ Fare ye well. 

I am, dear Parr, 
Your faithful and obedient servant, 

J. W. 
To Captain Pabr, 

Of the 20th Regiment, at MunsteVj Westphalia, 

On the day after writing this letter the men were ordered out 
and their commander inspected them for the last time. He then 
bade them farewell, hoping they would conduct themselves in his 
absence so as reflect honour upon their officers and credit upon 
themselves. It was seen then that he was far from well ; his pallor 
was particularly noted, and a lack of the usual briskness in his gait. 
That afternoon he engaged a post-chaise to Bath.^ From lodgings 

1 Alexander McDowell, Captain of the Grenadier Company of the 20th. 

2 Thomas, younger brother of Lieut. -Colonel Guy Carleton. 

3 It may be as well to correct the impression which prevails in some 
quarters concerning Wolfe's residence at Bath. The house in Trim Street, 
where his parents had stayed at their last visit, was only taken for a season, 
and not yet purchased. 


in Queen Square, then on the very outskirts of the town, he wrote 
two days later — 

To HIS Father. 

Bath J Qth December ^ 1758. 
Dear Sir, — If I had not been scrambling over the country, 
you should, by this time, have known my state and condition. 
A man can't write well till he gets into his lodgings ; nor is one 
much inclined to write with self only for a subject. I find a few 
acquaintances, but no friends since George Warde went away. 
This is my third day at Bath. My continuance here will be no 
longer than is pleasant, and as long as it is either useful or con- 
venient. I have got in the square, to be more at leisure, more 
in the air, and nearer the country. The women are not remark- 
able, nor the men neither ; however, a man must be very hard to 
please if he does not find some that will suit him. Cheerfulness 
and good humour recommend as strongly to some tempers as 
qualities of a stronger cast. There are a number of people that 
inquire after you and my mother, and some that wish you well 
wherever you are. I hope health and tranquility will be with you. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Perhaps it was just after penning the foregoing that Wolfe''s 
interest in his neighbours at Bath was quickened by meeting again 
with the young lady who had so captured his fancy a year before. 
He was now a hero by general consent, and especially so in 
the eyes of the fair sex. Miss Lowther was at Bath with her 
mother, the widow of Robert Lowther, Esq., formerly Governor of 
Barbados, and perhaps accompanied by her brother. Sir James. 
Our hero must have thrown himself into the courting of this lady 
with his usual ardour, but the siege was suddenly interrupted by a 
message from the Secretary of State summoning the young soldier 
to Hayes. He went, and there he received from Pitt the command 
of the expedition to Quebec, and a full statement of the minister^'s 
intentions. From Hayes he rode over to Blackheath, whence he 
wrote his friend, Warde, now Lieutenant-Colonel, in very guarded 
terms — 

To Colonel George Warde. 

Blackheath, 20th December, 1758. 
My dear Colonel, — I need not ask you if you desire to 
serve I know your inclinations in that respect ; but let me 


From a miniature in the possession of Mrs. Robertson 
of Rosebank, Partick 



know if I may mention you for distant, difficult, and disagreeable 
service, such as requires all your spirit and abilities. Tis not 
the Indies, which is as much as I can say directly ; but if the 
employment of Adjutant-General, or perhaps of Quartermaster- 
General to a very hazardous enterprise be to your taste, there 
are people who would be extremely glad of your assistance. 
There is no immediate advantage arising from it. That of 
being useful to the public at the expense of your health and 
constitution, is an argument that cannot be strongly urged. 
Write to me by return of post, and send your letter to the Bath, 
where it will find me. 

I am ever your 

Faithful friend, 

J. Wolfe. 

On the 21st he was back again at Bath to renew his courtship, 
and to set forth his views for the minister'*s benefit, which he did 
three days later — 

To THE Right Hon. William Pitt. 

Bath, December 24, 1758. 
Sir, — In a packet of letters from North America, there are 
two which contain some interesting circumstances, as they throw 
a light upon the state of men's minds in those parts. They are 
a confirmation to me of the thorough aversion conceived by the 
marine of this country against navigating in the river St. 
Lawrence. The letters are from two gentlemen recommended 
to act as Assistant Quartermasters-General,^ and do in some 
measure point out the hardy, active disposition of the men. 
I will add, from my own knowledge, that the second naval 
officer 2 in command there is vastly unequal to the weight of 
business ; and it is of the first importance to the country that it 
doth not fall into such hands. Mr. Caldwell in autumn proposed 
to attempt bringing off the pilots from the Isle aux Coudres, after 
the French fleet came down, or was supposed to be come down 
the river. The seeming danger of the enterprise, and other 
causes, put a stop to so great an undertaking. 

1 Lieutenants Caldwell and Leslie, then at Louisbourg. — Chatham Corre- 
spondence, vol. i. pp. 381-4. A letter from Leslie concerning the battle of 
Quebec has recently come to light. See Appendix. 

? Rear- Admiral Durell, who afterwards justified Wolfe's poor opinion 
of him. 


What Caldwell observes in regards to the fleet's anchoring at 
the Isle Bic is certainly very proper. A squadron of eight or 
ten sail stationed there, in the earliest opening of the river would 
effectually prevent all relief ; and it would be a very easy thing 
for the remainder of that squadron to push a frigate or two, and 
as many sloops, up the river, even as high as the Isle of Orleans, 
with proper people on board to acquire a fertain knowledge of 
the navigation, in readiness to pilot such men-of-war and trans- 
ports as the commanders should think fit to send up, after the 
junction of the whole fleet at Isle Bic. Nor does there appear 
any great risk in detatching the North American squadron to 
that station, as it is hardly probable that a force equal to that 
squadron could be sent from Europe to force their way up to 
Quebec, because it is a hundred to one if such a fleet keeps 
together in that early season ; and if they were together, it is 
next to a certainty that they would be in a very poor condition 
for action. Besides, it would effectually answer our purpose to 
engage a French squadron in that river, even with the superiority 
of a ship or two on their side, seeing that they must be shattered 
in the engagement, and in the end destroyed. 

If the enemy cannot pass the squadron stationed in the river, 
and push up to Quebec, a few ships of war and frigates would do 
to convoy the transports from the Isle Bic to Quebec, and to 
assist in the operations of the campaign ; and, in this case, the 
gross of the fleet remaining at the Isle Bic is at hand to prevent 
any attempt upon Louisbourg or Halifax ; whereas, if the whole 
went up to Quebec, intelligence would be long in getting to 
them, and their return in proportion. You must excuse the 
freedom I have taken, both in writing and sending the enclosed 
papers. If you see one useful hint in either, my intent is fully 
answered ; if not, I beg you will burn them without any further 

I beg to be, Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

There is an interesting letter extant from Lord Heathfleld 
(then Colonel Elliott), who was at this time at Bath, and who was a 
mutual friend of both Wolfe and George Warde, but especially of 
the latter. To Elliott Warde wrote telling him that he had 
received an intimation from Wolfe of the expedition and an offer 
to accompany him in it, and that he had decided to accept, but 


feared official permission would be withheld. In his reply Elliott, 
whose attitude towards the brilliant officer, his junior in years, was 
probably shared by most of the aristocratic guards and cavalrymen 
of the day (Townshend was an example) replies — 

The subject is not unexpected by me, as I knew Wolfe's 
opinion, though he has not opened his lips to me about any 
particular service. He will certainly command, and by his own 
account I should imagine him well prepared ; which will, of 
course, make the campaign agreeable to his friends, and no 
doubt very instructive. At all events, 'tis better than Scotch 
quarters or an ill-digested project on the coast of France. 

To Warde thus writes Wolfe the day after Christmas — 

To Colonel George Warde. 

Bath, December 26th, 1758. 
My dear Friend, — I have told the leading men that if they 
charge a young soldier with weighty matters they must give him 
the best assistance. I know none better than those I took the 
freedom to mention, and if there be any obstacles on the side of 
Government I shall desire to be excused from taking the first 
part. Another circumstance might oblige me to decline these 
dangerous honours, viz. any situation of affairs that might make 
it disagreeable for you and another friend to engage in this 
business with me. The readiness you express encourages me to 
hope that our united efforts may at least be useful. Nothing 
shall be pressed upon you, although I know of nothing that you 
need decline. We shall meet in London towards the middle of 
next week, and talk the matter over ; till then I bid you 

I am, as ever, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

Lieut. -Colonel Warde did not accompany the expedition to 
Quebec. Sent instead to Germany, he distinguished himself in 
various engagements during the remainder of the war. He was 
an excellent regimental officer, and brought the 4th Dragoons to so 
high a state of discipline that George III, whenever he reviewed 
the corps, invariably complimented their Lieut. -Colonel. In 1773 
he was promoted to the colonelcy of the 14th Dragoons, subse- 
quently was colonel of the 4th Dragoon Guards, and passed through 


the several grades to the ranks of General. In 1792 he was 
appointed Commander of the Forces in Ireland, where he devoted 
much of his attention to bringing the cavalry into a perfect condi- 
tion for active service. General Warde was considered the first 
cavalry officer of his time, and introduced what is known as the 
Wardonian system of discipline. He disliked slow movements, and 
when seventy years of age, frequently led his men across the 
country, over hedges and ditches, to the great marvel of spectators. 
After losing her husband and her son, Mrs. Wolfe found in 
General Warde a faithful friend and sound adviser; and appointed 
him her principal executor. He died, unmarried, on the 11th 
of March, 1803, and was interred at St. Mary's Abchurch, 

Besides Warde, the newly-appointed commander also wrote to 
several other of his friends, as he particularly desired, he said, to 
have the power of choosing his own staff. We have seen how he 
wished Carleton to accompany him to Louisbourg, and how the 
King had drawn his pen through that officer's name. He now 
proposed that Carleton accompany him as Quartermaster- General. 
But the King had not so ill a memory as to forget Carleton's indis- 
creet allusion to his beloved Hanoverians. On the 12th of January 
Wolfe's commission as Major-General was signed.^ Soon afterwards 
he drew up the names of his chosen officers and submitted them to 
Pitt and Lord Ligonier. The list included Colonel Carleton. Once 
again, the inveterate old monarch promptly drew his pen through 
the name, and refused to sign his commission. In the royal closet 
Ligonier twice represented that it was the Minister's express wish. 
But to no purpose, until Pitt, insisting on a third attempt, added, 

1 '' ^ In his seventy-eighth year, in the literal as well as the titular sense 
of the words, the Right Honourable General Warde, of inviolable, disinterested 
integrity, public and private. Colonel of the 4th Dragoon Guards, whose 
benefactions were scarcely less secret than extensive.' {Gentleman's Magazine, 
vol. Ixxiii. p. 292.)"— Wright, p. 476. 

2 '^The original of Wolfe's commission as Major-General, etc., dated 
'January 12, 1759,' is not in Lieutenant-Colonel Warde's possession. 
Wright thinks it was sent to the War Office by Mrs. Wolfe, and never re- 
turned to her. It appears that in making out the warrant for the payment of 
the staff employed in the expedition to Quebec, which, by the way, was not 
till February 1761, no record of Wolfe's appointments could be traced in 
either the Secretary of State's or the War Office. The informality is stated 
to have arisen from Mr. Pitt's having delivered the commission to Wolfe 
before registering it in his own department, and to Wolfe's having omitted to 
enter it at the War Office. (Letter to Mrs. Wolfe from her agent, Mr. 
Thomas Fisher, dated ^Axe Yard, Westminster, 19th February, 1761.' 
Extant at Squerryes Court.) "—Wright. 

From the portrait hy Opie at Squerin/es Court 


" And tell his Majesty likewise, that in order to render any General 
completely responsible for his conduct, he should be made, as far as 
possible, inexcusable, if he should fail ; and that, consequently, 
whatever an officer entrusted with a service of confidence re- 
quests should be complied with." The King signed Carleton's 

There was still an awkward predicament awaiting the new 
Commander-in-Chief of the expedition against Quebec. The accept- 
ance of such rank and duties involved expenses which he was ill 
able to afford. The honours awarded him were brevet honours. 
In England he was still only Colonel Wolfe, which did not carry 
much monetary reward. In an age when every backstairs courtier 
could amass huge wealth, £^ a day was considered adequate pay 
for a major-general of the army. The pay of a Commander-in-Chief 
(such as Amherst) was d^lO a day, yet although now Amherst was 
in practice to play second fiddle to Wolfe in North America, yet 
Wolfe was regarded as nominally serving imder that general. 
There existed, however, a precedent for granting a special sum for 
contingencies when any officer was appointed to lead an expedition. 
Aware of this, Wolfe sought Lord Barrington, the Secretary at 
War, and explained that what he demanded was for a public, not 
a private, purpose. " He asked nothing for himself,**' he said, 
according to Barrington, " that he had no money himself, but he 
could borrow some of his father so that he should not be distressed ; 
that perhaps I should not think it unreasonable, however, to allow 
him some public money to defray a necessary public expense. His 
modesty touched me ; I acknowledged the equity of what he said, 
and procured a warrant signed by the late King for £500. With 
this sum Mr. Wolfe declared himself perfectly satisfied. How- 
ever, I told him that if he should be obliged to expend a still 
larger sum, over and above his pay, I would move the King to 
allow it.'' 

In this instance Wolfe's arguments overleapt the vexatious 
official barrier. But he was not so successful in other requests. 
Political patronage, as represented by Pitt's colleague, the Duke of 
Newcastle, was aghast at the idea of turning all these captains, 
colonels and majors into colonels, generals, and major-generals 
without patronage being consulted, and merely on account of 
merit. So in this point the Minister yielded, and all these officers 
had merely local rank. 

1 This rests on the authority of Wood, the Under-Secretary of State. 


To Major Alexander Murray.^ 

London^ January 28, 1759. 

Dear Murray, — I wish it was as much in my power to assist 
you as I am inchned to do, and as I know you deserve. In 
speaking of the transactions of our short campaign, it has 
fallen in my way sometimes to do you justice ; the consequence 
of which is, that you are to command a little battalion of 
Grenadiers, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in America. 
This is an honour and a distinction leading to more solid 
advantages, for which the best foundation is laid ; and if for- 
tune favour our good inclinations and our united efforts, it 
shall be confirmed to you as you would wish. Boscawen has 
been pushing for Mr. Hussey, and has such immoderate weight 
that I consider he will succeed. I have spoke to the Marshal 
upon it, and begged he would reflect and consider how mortify- 
ing a circumstance this must be to a man of honour and service, 
older in rank and experience than the gentleman in question. 
Such a torrent of family interest, and the merits of Mr. Bos- 
cawen's services, bears down justice itself before it. My poor 
endeavours to serve you may be useful in some respects, though 
I am afraid they will be very ineffectual in this. 

We shall have, if we can get together, a powerful fleet, and 
an active, vigorous army, formidable from their spirit and 
experience more than from their numbers. With this force we 
shall assist General Amherst's operations in the river St. Law- 
rence. The French are arming in all their ports with a view to 
the preservation of their colonies, and will endeavour to throw 
in succours and provisions early in the year. I hope to be with 
you in May, and find you in health, with resolutions equal to 
the task that has fallen to our share. 

I am, dear Murray, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

He was ever ready to give his voice for merit, as the following, 
amongst other letters, shows. 

To Captain Martin.^ 

[Blackheath, December 1758. (?)] 
Dear Sir, — I have written by this post to Lord George 
Sackville to let him know that you have served with me at the 

1 " Major Murray had not only greatly distinguished himself at Louisbourg, 
but had been actively engaged for three or four years previously in America, 
where he still remained." — Wright. 

2 Of the Royal Artillery. 


seige of Louisbourg, and that I had the greatest reason to be 
satisfied with every part of your conduct. If this testimony be 
of any use to you, I am glad you put it in my power to give it. 

Nothing pleases me so much as to do justice to the gentlemen 
who have distinguished themselves under my command ; and if 
it were as easy to reward as to praise, they should have no 
reason to complain. 

I am, dear Sir, &c., 

James Wolfe. 

Wolfe, having carte blanche from Pitt, chose two men to 
form his staff that he knew he could rely upon. At the head of 
the first brigade he resolved to put the Hon. Robert Monckton, 
second son of the first Viscount Galway, a young and capable 
colonel who had previously earned distinction in America and 
conducted the difficult and painful expulsion of the Acadians with 
much tact. The third brigade was given to the Hon. James 
Murray, son of the fourth Lord Elibank, of whose conduct at 
Louisbourg Wolfe had, as we have seen, entertained a high 
opinion. These were Wolfe''s own special men ; but Pitt had 
intimated that there was a promising colonel, heir to a famous 
political house, who would gladly serve under him. He recom- 
mended the appointment of Colonel the Hon. George Townshend. 
The character of this aristocratic soldier had been presented in 
varying lights. For some years he had been out of the army, 
owing to a quarrel with the Duke of Cumberland, whose aide-de- 
camp he then was ; but he had served in most of the campaigns in 
which Wolfe had figured of the Seven Years"* War. A sarcastic 
manner, an egregious self-sufficiency and a showy person obscured 
such valuable qualities as he possessed. Latterly he had taken to 
politics, supporting Pitt with the Militia Bill, which Townshend 
introduced in the House of Commons. On the fall of Cumberland 
and his succession by Ligonier, Townshend returned to the army, 
was given the rank of colonel and made aide-de-camp to the King. 

He seems to have been anxious for an opportunity to dis- 
tinguish himself in war, and Wolfe could hardly fail to be 
impressed by the compliment of such a man''s desiring to serve 
under him. We find many of Townshend's friends regarding his 
action as a condescension. Sir Richard Lyttelton, the Adjutant- 
General at the War Office, writes in this vein : " I congratulate you 
most sincerely upon the honour this spirited and magnanimous 
acceptance of yours will do you in the world as soon as it becomes 


known, and upon the glory you will obtain, and I flatter myself 
the short time you will be absent and the small risk you will 
probably run in this enterprise will in some degree reconcile Lady 
Ferrers ^ to it." 

To Townshend the Commander-in-Chief of the Quebec expedi- 
tion wrote a frank and cordial letter. 

Wolfe to Townshend. 

London, 6 Jan., 1769. 

Sir, — I came to town last night and found the letter you 
have done me the honour to write. Your name was mentioned 
to me by the Marshal and my answer was, that such an 
example in a person of your rank and character, could not but 
have the best effects upon the troops in America and, indeed, 
upon the whole military part of the nation ; and I took the 
freedom to add that what might be wanting in experience was 
amply made up, in an extent of capacity and activity of mind, 
that would find nothing difiicult in our business. I am to thank 
you for the good opinion you have entertained of me, and for 
the manner in which you have taken occasion to express your 
favourable sentiments. I persuade myself that we shall concur 
heartily for the public service — the operation in question will 
require our united efforts and the utmost exertion of every man's 
spirit and judgment. 

I conclude we are to sail with Mr. Saunders' squadron. Till 
then you will do what is most agreeable to yourself. If I hear 
anything that concerns you to know — be assured of the earliest 

I have the honour to be. 

With the highest esteem. Sir, 

Your most obedient and faithful Humble servant, 

J. Wolfe. 

So far, therefore, in the relations between Wolfe and Townshend 
all was well. Unhappily, this cordiality was not destined to 

So high stands Wolfe's name that, as Wright points out, no 
incident in his life which does not accord with popular estimation 
of his character, is ever related without a doubt and an apology. 
But if we have been able in these pages to reveal anything of 
Wolfe, and he has been able in his letters to reveal anything of 

* Lady Ferrers was Townshend's wife. 

From the portrait by Thomas Hudson 


himself, it is that he was intensely human, subject to error, not 
without vainglory, quick of temper, sanguine, emotional, vehe- 
ment to a fault. In short, we may with some confidence draw a 
parallel between Wolfe and the only warrior in English history 
whose peculiar glory resembles his. Nelson, to discern the same 
faults and the same virtues in each. Both were impatient; im- 
petuous : neither was averse to indulgence in that frankness of self- 
confidence, mistaken by duller spirits for gasconade. Both were 
fond of ladies' society, both were the idols of their men, both 
were reckless in danger, both utterly fearless of death. Both 
Wolfe and Nelson, too, had that alertness of mind which led them 
frequently to say more than they meant, more at least than a 
phlegmatic man would have regarded as discreet. We may easily 
believe the story of the first and only meeting of the Duke of 
Wellington and Nelson in the Downing Street ante-room, when the 
former formed his famous " double estimate '''' of Nelson — first as a 
"vapouring and vainglorious charlatan," and afterwards as "a 
well-informed officer and statesman " and " really a very superior 
man." ^ 

Why, therefore, should we refuse all credence to the story, as 
" repugnant to the character of the hero," which Lord Temple 
told to Grenville, and which, after the lapse of a generation, 
Grenville told to Stanhope, who printed it with many apologies in 
his history ? It must be confessed the story is come by in rather 
a roundabout fashion and bears marks of heightened colouring, 
but by no means deserves to be rejected in toto. 

" After Wolfe's appointment," we are told, " and on the day 
preceding his embarkation for America, Pitt, desirous of giving 
his last verbal instructions, invited him to dinner. Lord Temple 
being the only other guest. As the evening advanced, Wolfe, 
heated perhaps by his own aspiring thoughts and the imwonted 
society of statesmen, broke forth into a strain of gasconade and 
bravado. He drew his sword, he rapped the table with it, he 
flourished it round the room, he talked of the mighty things which 
that sword was to achieve. The two Ministers sat aghast at an 
exhibition so unusual from any man of real sense and real spirit. 
And when at last Wolfe had taken his leave, and his carriage was 

1 There is, in fact, abundant evidence that Nelson not infrequently 
displayed the unblushing and self-asserting vanity of a child, with all a 
child's love of praise and a woman's love of flattery, and that Lady Hamilton 
used to administer both to him in abundance. That Nelson could, on occasion, 
act as an officer and judge as a statesman, we knew before the Duke's story 
was made public— J K. Laughton, Nelson, p. 207. 


heard to roll from the door, Pitt seemed for the moment shaken in 
his high opinion which his deliberate judgment had formed of 
Wolfe ; he lifted up his eyes and arms, and exclaimed to Lord 
Temple, ' Good God ! that I should have entrusted the fate of the 
country and of the Administration to such hands 1 ' " ^ 

Now Temple was hardly the man to understand Wolfe, who 
was probably very different from the officers of his acquaintance, 
who were not supposed to exhibit zeal at the dinner-table, nor 
any particular enthusiasms unconnected with women, horse-racing 
and cards. He himself was sedateness and apathy personified. 
As Pitt bitterly (but anonymously) wrote years afterwards, when he 
quarrelled with his brother-in-law. Temple " might have crept out 
of life with as little notice as he crept in, and gone off* with no other 
degree of credit than that of adding a single unit to the bills of 
mortality,^"* had he not derived lustre from his association with 
himself. Nor had Temple any very high reputation for veracity, 
if his contemporaries are to be believed, his forte lying in mis- 
representing private conversations. The incident as it actually 
occurred we take to be this : Wolfe, understanding the situation 
in Canada thoroughly, and appreciating the character and im- 
portance of the work he had to do, opened his mind with great 
freedom, expressing the indignation he felt at the bloody deeds of 
the French and Indians and the necessity of putting a stop to 
the crimes committed against the English colonists, a subject 
which might make the blood boil of any man of sensibility.^ As 
he related these things and the curse which the French regime was 
to Canada and the Thirteen Colonies, we can see colour mount 
to his cheek, the flash of his blue eye, the vehement gesture with 
which he fortified his speech. When he adverted to the task 
accorded his own hands it was the talk of a soldier — of a man with 
red blood in his veins. If it was an "ebullition,'"' it was an 
ebullition resulting from the fire of a heroic soul. Temple expressly 
stated to Grenville that Wolfe's fervour could not have arisen 
from any excess, as he " had partaken most sparingly of wine."" 

But it is when we come to Stanhope's comment that we reach 
the real misconception of the man Wolfe. " This story," he says, 
" confirms Wolfe's own avowal that he was not seen to advantage in 
the common occurrences of life, and shows how shyness may at 
intervals rush, as it were, to the opposite extreme." 

It is perhaps unnecessary to state that Wolfe made no avowal 

1 Stanhope, History of England. 

2 See his letter, ante, p. 389. 


in this sense, so remote from the truth. As to his shyness in the 
presence of Chatham, it is hard to believe that a man who dined 
and conversed freely with such men as the Duke of Bedford, the 
Duke of Richmond, Lord Shelburne, Lord George Sackville and 
Lord Blandford, who was regarded with prodigious favour in 
numerous drawing-rooms, and had just courted successfully one of 
the handsomest and most fashionable young women of the day, 
could have been quite overpowered and abashed even by a prime 

Chatham, full of theatricality though he was, did not really 
misinterpret Wolfe. He knew the difference between unselfish zeal 
and madness. But his colleague, Newcastle, who probably got wind 
of the story, could not fathom such patriotic enthusiasm not based 
on the hope of tangible reward. He, too, could be guilty of 
extravagant conduct, as when he flung himself down on his knees 
before royalty and burst into tears, but it was when his own 
power was threatened. He ran to tell the King that Wolfe was 
mad. George was not without sagacity and biting wit at times. 
"Mad, is he.?" he retorted grimly, thinking of the failures of 
Mordaunt, Loudoun, Abercrombie and his own son, Cumberland ; 
" then I hope he ^vill bite some of my other generals ! " Madness 
of that kind is a virtue in war, as his Majesty well knew, and 
though Wolfe never bit the generals, he had already inoculated a 
dozen lesser officers with the virus. It is no extravagance to assert 
that Wolfe"'s influence on the British Army was visible on the 
field of Waterloo. 

Turning to Wolfe's correspondence, nothing could be more 
rational and modest than the hopes and plans expressed in the 
epistle to his uncle less than three weeks before he sailed. 

To Major Walter Wolfe. 

London, January 2Qth, 1759. 
Dear Sir, — You had a right to expect to hear from me 
sooner and I am to blame that you did not. These omissions 
of mine are too frequent even with those I love and honour 
most. Mr. Lynch delivered me your letter and proceeded 
directly to North America, where in the course of the campaign 
I doubt not he will find an opening. Our force is considerable 
upon that continent and except the Garrisons of Louisbourg and 
Halifax will all be employed this year, and as early as possible. 
If the Marquis de Montcalm finds means to baffle our efforts 
another summer, he may be deemed an able officer ; or the colony 

E E 


has resources that we know nothing of; or our Generals are 
worse than usual. We had Canada in our hands last year ; with 
common prudence on one side, and a little spirit of enterprise 
on the other, it appears to me that Abercromby might have cut 
off the enemy's retreat from Ticonderoga, and in the end forced 
them to lay down their arms. If the seige of Louisbourg had 
been pushed with vigour, Quebec would have fallen. The French 
are arming in all their ports ; their object, no doubt, is the 
defence of Canada ; ours to attack it, and the fleet for that 
service is formidable. I am to act a greater part in this business 
than I wished or desired. The backwardness of some of the 
older ofiicers has in some measure forced the Government to 
come down so low. I shall do my best, and leave the rest to 
fortune, as perforce we must when there are not the most com- 
manding abilities. We expect to sail in about three weeks. A 
London life and little exercise disagrees entirely with me, but 
the sea still more. If I have health and constitution enough 
for the campaign, I shall think myself a lucky man ; what 
happens afterwards is of no great consequence. 

I am, dear Sir, etc., 

J. Wolfe. 

It was now time for Wolfe to depart. We shall probably 
never know what parting scene took place between Miss Lowther 
and himself, and so cannot judge whether the description given by 
Charles Johnstone in Chrysal has any merit of fidelity. Johnstone, 
as a Limerick man, is believed to have had a personal acquaintance 
with the Wolfe family. He says — 

" As soon as he had recovered from the softness into which his 
mother's tenderness had melted him, he went directly to his mistress. 
She received him with the freedom proper in their present situation, 
but soon perceived an alteration in his countenance, that showed 
her his heart was not at ease. Tliis alarmed her tender fears. 
' What,"* said she, looking earnestly at him, ' can make a troubled 
gloom overcast that face, where hopes and happiness have, for 
some time, brightened every smile ? Can anything have happened 
to disturb the prospect so pleasing to us .? Can you feel a grief 
that you think me unworthy or unable to share with you.? It 
must be so ; that faint, that laboured smile betrays the sickness of 
your heart.' 

" ' Oh, dearest wish of my heart,' replied he, taking her hand 


Irom a miniature ly Cosway, in the possession of General Wolfe until the eve of his death, 
and now owned hy Lord Barnard, of Raby Castle 


and kissing it in ecstasy, ' how shall I merit such perfection ? It 
is impossible ; I am unworthy ; but let my soul thank Heaven for 
blessing it with this opportunity of rising nearer to a level with 
your virtues — a hope that will soften the severity of absence, and 
make the delay of happiness seem shorter.' 

"'What canst thou mean?' said she, a jealous doubt alarm- 
ing her delicacy. 'Delay! I understand thee not! I urge 

" ' Mistake not, O my love, the inconsistencies which anguish 
extorts from my bleeding heart. How can I say it ? Our happiness 
is delayed — delayed but to be more exalted. Honour, the service 
of my country, call.' 

"'And am I to be left?' 

" ' But for a time, a little time, the pain of which shall be 
overpaid by the joy of meeting, never to part again. Oh, spare 
my heart, restrain those tears ; I am not worthy, I am not proof 
to such a trial. The interest, the glory of my country demand 
my service, and my gracious master has honoured me with a station, 
in which my endeavours may be effectual, to accomplish his com- 
mands — nay, must be effectual — where love urges duty, where you 
are the inestimable reward.' " 

" ' Go ! go ! and Heaven guide and guard your steps ' — waving 
her hand, and turning from him to hide her tears. ' I shall no 
longer struggle with the sacred impulse that leads you on to glory.' 
Then turning to him. ' But remember how you leave me : think 
what I feel till you return. . . .' 

" ' This is too much,' said he, ' this is too much. I never can 
repay this excess of goodness.' Then breaking from her arms in a 
kind of enthusiasm — ' Heaven gives my soul,' continued he, ' this 
foretaste of happiness, as an earnest of success. I go to certain 
victory ; the prayers of angels must prevail ! ' 

" Saying these words he rushed out of the room, leaving her 
half dead with grief. Nor was he in a much happier state ; the 
thought of parting from her damping the ardour that had enabled 
him give that proof of his resolution, and obliging nature to pay 
the tribute of a flood of tears to such a sacrifice." ^ 

One fears that Wolfe, ardent as he was at times, was not always 
to be relied on for a scene of sentiment. If, however, he acted the 
impassioned lover towards Miss Lowther, it is certainly undiluted 

1 I cannot resist the temptation to give at such length this perfect example 
of the eighteenth-century sentimental novel-writing manner. 

EE 2 


fiction that he ever, as Johnstone describes, knelt for his mother's 
blessing, as the following letter demonstrates — 

To HIS Mother. 

Dear Madam, — The formality of taking leave should be as 
much as possible avoided ; therefore I prefer this method of 
offering my good wishes and duty to my father and to you. I 
shall carry this business through with my best abilities. The 
rest, you know, is in the hands of Providence, to whose care I 
hope your good life and conduct will recommend your son. 

Saunders talks of sailing on Thursday, if the wind come fair. 
The " Arc-en-ciel "" is either arrived or expected at Spithead. 
Brett has been directed to negotiate our affair there. I heartily 
wish you health and easy enjoyment of the many good things 
that have fallen to your share. My best duty to the General. 
I am, dear Madam, 

Your obedient and affectionate Son, 

Jam : Wolfe. 
London, Monday morn. 


From a contemporary/ portrait 


Wolfe, when he sailed from Spithead on the 14th of February, 
1759, had been given the command of eight thousand troops to 
achieve a feat which should change the destinies of a hemisphere. 
Such a force, even under such a general, would have been inadequate 
had it not been supported by ships and sailors and a naval commander 
of experience and sagacity. Boscawen was out of the question : as 
an influential member of Parliament he had insisted on promotion 
to the Mediterranean fleet. Hawke was not physically fit and 
aspired to command the Channel fleet. The man chosen was Sir 
Charles Saunders, one of Lord Anson**s favourite officers, who had 
accompanied that famous admiral in his voyage round the world. 
Saunders was a capable officer, very reserved in manner, who had 
lately been engaged in blockading Brest. He was now appointed 
Commander-in-Chief of the naval part of the Quebec expedition, 
while under him were Rear-Admiral Holmes and Rear-Admiral 

Wolfe sailed in Saundei-s"* flagship. He and the Admiral were 
not acquainted personally, and although he doubtless perceived 
that his naval colleague was a man of ability, he yet felt some 
anxiety through the entire voyage as to the exact degree of co- 
operation which would mark their relations on their arrival at the 
seat of war. 

It was no simple dashing for a goal as at Rochefort. Chatham's 
plan of campaign was designed " to improve the great and im- 
portant advantages gained in the last campaign, as well as to 
repair the disappointment at Ticonderoga." The Minister had 
prescribed a most complicated and delicate set of operations which 
many circumstances might conspire to frustrate, which indeed in 
its entirety only by the most fortuitous chance could hope to 
succeed. Quebec, in his scheme, was only the point of junction 
and ultimate object of three separate expeditions. From the west 
a Colonial army under Brigadier Prideaux, together with a few 
regiments of regulars and Sir William Johnson's native warriors, 
were to move on Niagara, capture that stronghold and advance to 
Montreal by Lake Ontario. From the south Amherst's army of 



12,000 men was to demolish Ticonderoga and Crown Point, gain 
the Richelieu river, join forces with Prideaux there, and meet 
Wolfe at Quebec. 

And this great and, it was hoped, final attack on the French 
position at Quebec was to be two-fold, by land and sea. Naval 
men held then and have held since that the naval half was 
equally important : military men scoffed at these pretensions. 
Chatham's instructions to Amherst show that he attached the chief 
value to the army commanded by Wolfe, and that Admiral 
Saunders was merely to co-operate with Wolfe, whenever that 
military commander should stand in need of such services as the 
Navy only could give. Otherwise, he was to "cover" Wolfe''s 
army, and keep control of his communications. It is true that 
Saunders exceeded this and gave a warm and loyal support : but it 
is as well to understand at the outset just what the Admiral's place 
and functions were in the Quebec expedition, because some zealous 
partisans of the modern " blue-water " school have endeavoured to 
prove Saunders equal in genius and power of initiative to Wolfe, 
and therefore deserving to share half the honours of the conquest 
of Quebec. 

We have seen that Wolfe attached great importance to that 
part of the work which lay before them entrusted to Durell. He 
had a poor opinion of Durell, who was to carry out the ideas he 
had imparted to Pitt on Christmas eve, i. e. to block the entrance 
to the river St. Lawrence the moment the ice began to melt and 
before any of the enemy's ships could get in or out. 

The rendezvous of both Army and Navy of the home and 
colonial contingents was Louisbourg. The date fixed was April 
20. They had scarce got under way from Spithead when an 
order came for Saunders from Chatham. He was secretly to 
detach, when off the Spanish coast, a couple of his ships (one was 
the Stirling Castle) to reinforce Bosca wen's fleet. Saunders' decision 
to substitute another vessel, as this " sixty " " was handy for rivers," 
shows that he then expected to sail up the St. Lawrence and 
actually second Wolfe, and not merely cover Wolfe's army and keep 
control of the communications. The Stirling Castle, which he 
thus so nearly lost, came to be his flagship before Quebec. 

Late as was the date for the rendezvous, it was still too early 
for the Neptune to enter the ice-locked Bay of Gabarus. The 
winter had been unusually severe, so Saunders steered for Halifax, 
where, on April 30, the joint commanders found Durell's squadron 
riding at anchor, the commander explaining that he was waiting to 



hear if the ice would permit him to enter the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 
He had been ready to sail some weeks. Wolfe's heart sank at this 
evidence of half-heartedness and incapacity, and Saunders ordered 
the Rear-Admiral to sea at once. Even though Louisbourg 
harbour was inaccessible, it by no means followed that the Gulf 
passage was also. Even now it might be too late, and the French 
ships anxiously expected by the enemy at Quebec might have got 
in. Durell was enjoined to push on at the first chance with his 
ships as far as the Isle of Bic, and from thence to detach some 
small vessels to the Quebec basin. Durell said his crews were 
short, and asked for three hundred troops to complete the number. 
Wolfe gave the three hundred troops, and with them, as com- 
mander, his friend. Colonel Guy Carleton. Adverse winds blew, and 
it was May 5 before Durell was