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“I will write to Loftus to send you some porter and the books. . . . . . . . . . . . hear you making excuses for imaginary trouble. I will . . . . . . . . . . hogshead of claret from Ireland to Gibraltar (though I was mys. . . . . . . . You cannot do me a greater pleasure than by pointing....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. ” (Indorsed—“Answered 6th November, 1751, by the Torrington. ”)
[An interval of three years. His friend was now stationed at Fort Augustus, Inverness-shire.]
“Dear Rickson, I was obliged to Governor Trapaud for intelligence of my little friend; and, though I cannot rejoice much in your present situation, yet I think you will make yourself 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 amu, my dear friend, “Your affectionate and faithful servant,
“JAMES WOLFE.” • ‘Exeter, 9th December, 1754.”
“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 is 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 should 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 should 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 rebellion 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 P 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 P
“But above all, the secret, sudden night-march into the midst of them ; great patrols of 50, 60, or Ioo 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 P I believe they would be found very insufficient. There are some things that are absolutely necessary 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 in numerable; 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 seige of Fort Augustus; Ioo men would have nailed up the battery, or carried the artillery into the castle.
“I wish you may be beseiged in the same manner; you will put a speedy end to the rebellion, and foil their arms in the first attempt; les Alfessieurs de Guise se sont très mal comporté / 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 Achadrem, 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.
“Mr McPherson should have a couple of hundred men in his neighbourhood, with orders to massacre the whole clan if they shew the least symptom of rebellion. They are a warlike tribe and he is a cunning, resolute fellow himself. They should be narrowly watched; and the party there should be well commanded.
“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 kill him instantly which I concluded would draw on the destruction of the detachment (1) and furnish me with a sufficient pretext (without waiting for any instructions) to march into their country oil j'aura is fait main basse, sans miséricorde. 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 recommend 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, 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
(1) The passage in italics was omitted when the letter was first published, about sixty years ago.
in different situations of ground, from heights downwards, and contrarywise. 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 shewn 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,
“Exeter, 7th March, 1755.
“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 ''.