NOTE: For the material of the foregoing sketch of Wolfe I am indebted to Wright’s excellent Life of him and the numerous letters contained in it. Several autograph letters which have escaped the notice of Mr. Wright are preserved in the Public Record Office. The following is a characteristic passage from one of these, written on board the “Neptune,” at sea, on the sixth of June, the day when the fleet sailed from Louisbourg. It is directed to a nobleman of high rank in the army, whose name does not appear, the address being lost (War Office Records: North America, various, 1756-1763): “I have had the honour to receive two letters from your Lordship, one of an old date, concerning my stay in this country [after the capture of Louisbourg,] in answer to which I shall only say that the Marshal told me I was to return at the end of the campaign; and as General Amherst had no other commands than to send me to winter at Halifax under the orders of an officer [Brigadier Lawrence] who was but a few months before put over my head, I thought it was much better to get into the way of service and out of the way of being insulted; and as the style of your Lordship’s letter is pretty strong, I must take the liberty to inform you that ... rather than receive orders in the Government [of Nova Scotia] from an officer younger than myself (though a very worthy man), I should certainly have desired leave to resign my commission; for as I neither ask nor expect any favour, so I never intend to submit to any ill-usage whatsoever.”
Many other papers in the Public Record Office have been consulted in preparing the above chapter, including the secret instructions of the King to Wolfe and to Saunders, and the letters of Amherst to Wolfe and to Pitt. Other correspondence touching the same subjects is printed in Selections from the Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 441-450. Knox, Mante, and Entick are the best contemporary printed sources.
A story has gained currency respecting the last interview of Wolfe with Pitt, in which he is said to have flourished his sword and boasted of what he would achieve. This anecdote was told by Lord Temple, who was present at the interview, to Mr. Grenville, who, many years after, told it to Earl Stanhope, by whom it was made public. That the incident underwent essential changes in the course of these transmissions,—which extended over more than half a century, for Earl Stanhope was not born till 1805,—can never be doubted by one who considers the known character of Wolfe, who may have uttered some vehement expression, but who can never be suspected of gasconade.
Wolfe at Quebec