IT is a happy accident of fate that the ancient City of Bath, by whose waters and in whose shades the great soldiers of the Roman legions rested between the storms of battle and the Caesar’s enterprises of colonization, should be associated with one whose deeds gave England a Western Empire founded upon a French base, which was to remain a new field for the energies and courage and ambitions of our race, when her revolting colonies to the south should set up and maintain the angry claim of independence. Here, at Bath, James Wolfe was resting when the summons came from England’s greatest Prime Minister to one of her greatest heroes to lay aside his pain and suffering, surmount the ravages which war and hard campaigns had mafic on a delicate constitution, and proceed upon his country’s business across the seas where the fleur-de-lis waved over the batteries of the noblest citadel of all the picturesque world. And
in this pleasant place of Bath, when his day s work was done and his wages were taken from an Immortal Treasury, his mother came and made her home. She had loved the place before, and had been so frequent a visitor that in one of Wolfe’s letters from Bath to his father, Lieut.General Edward Wolfe, he says: “There are a number of people that inquire after you and my mother; and some that wish you well wherever you are.” If it is not true that in the house in Trim Street,
Here first was Wolfe with martial ardor fired,
Here first with Glory’s highest flame inspired,
still it is right to put the mark of a city’s and a nation’s pride and love upon the house where he sojourned, and in doing so, we can justly add the last two lines of the verse which commemorates the spot at
Squerries Court where, at sixteen years of age, he received his first King’s commission of ensign :
This spot so sacred will for ever claim A proud alliance with its hero’s name.
There is a noble monument to Wolfe in Westminster Abbey; there is a lofty column at Stowe ; there is a tablet in the church at Westerham ; and now there is at Bath a tablet which tells that those walls sheltered that bright genius, whose merits and matchless skill made him an adjutant
at sixteen, a captain and brigade-major at seventeen, to serve gallantly at Culloden and Falkirk, which brought him public official thanks after the Battle of Lawfeldt at twenty, made him a lieutenant-colonel at twenty-three, a brigadier-general at thirty-
one, and a major-general and the captor of half a continent at thirty-two years of age. Why before most men have begun to launch upon their life-schemes and activities he was grown old with wars, and the miseries, duties and achievements of the stricken field had so out-worn that ungainly
frame which shrined an exquisite yet indomitable spirit that, only just before the capture of Quebec, he said to his surgeon: “I know perfectly well you cannot cure me,
but pray make me up so that I may be without pain for a few days, and able to do my duty ; that is all I want.”
It is only within the last two generations
that Wolfe’s fame has reddened the whole sky of British history. The significance of the work he did, the true fulness of his conquest, has only been brought home to the
people of our wide Empire by the rise of the great Dominion, and the mighty activities of the two peoples—that yet are one people—who are building up a stalwart na-
tion between the oceans, in a fertile territory larger than Europe, over which flies the flag that has braved a thousand years the battle and the breeze. Yonder, where three hundred feet above the River St. Lawrence, Louis’ Citadel batteries poured their shot and shell upon Saunders’ and Holmes’ fleet, and pounded Monckton’s defences at Point Levi; where the battalions of Bearn, Languedoc and Guienne under Montcalm and Bougainville challenged our little army to attempt the impregnable fortress; there, the other day, under the eyes of the Heir-Apparent of the British Crown, passed an army of thirty thousand men who represented the loyalty and contentment and steadfast alliance of two great races who proceed together upon the path of a great and manifest destiny.
There were under seventy thousand inhabitants of Canada in 1759; there are six millions now, and the onward tramp of a score of millions falls upon the ear of hope and faith and energy. When Wolfe received Pitt’s letter, did he have any gleam of the far-reaching nature of his task? One might ask the same question concerning Columbus, or Cartier, or Champlain. It is to be believed that the eye of genius sees
the wide prospect and the splendid issues of their great strokes, however faintly outlined; that they have premonition of the profound consequences of their deeds to coming generations. But even if they had no such prevision, their own souls must have resounded with the happy cry of conscience at the sight of supreme duty done ; so that, as in the case of Wolfe, with task fulfilled, the fainting lips could say, “Now, God be praised; I die in peace.”
Something of human personality clings to the places where men have lived; something of them remains in the dwellings where they once have moved and breathed —a tender, persistent influence and sensation; and in the house where Wolfe lived, something of him clings and stays. The City of Bath has materialized the gracious, palpable memory of one of the finest and most powerful personalities of our long history, one of the greatest of our heroes, by this tablet set high for all to see.
“Sacred the ring, the faded glove Once worn by one we used to love, Dead warriors in their armor live,
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