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The letters of Dudley, the proposals of Vetch, the representations of Nicholson, the promptings of Jeremiah Dummer, agent of Massachusetts in England, and the speech made to the Queen by the four Indians who had been the London sensation of the last year, had all helped to draw the attention of the[Pg 163] ministry to the New World, and the expediency of driving the French out of it. Other influences conspired to the same end, or in all likelihood little or nothing would have been done. England was tiring of the Continental war, the costs of which threatened ruin. Marlborough was rancorously attacked, and his most stanch supporters the Whigs had given place to the Tories, led by the Lord Treasurer Harley, and the Secretary of State St. John, soon afterwards Lord Bolingbroke. Never was party spirit more bitter; and the new ministry found a congenial ally in the coarse and savage but powerful genius of Swift, who, incensed by real or imagined slights from the late minister, Godolphin, gave all his strength to the winning side.
His part in the taking of Louisbourg greatly increased his reputation. After his return he went to Bath to recruit his health; and it seems to have been here that he wooed and won Miss Katherine Lowther, daughter of an ex-Governor of Barbadoes, and sister of the future Lord Lonsdale. A betrothal took place, and Wolfe wore her portrait till the night before his death. It was a little before this engagement that he wrote to his friend Lieutenant-Colonel Rickson: "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 undertaking within the compass of my skill and cunning. I am in a very bad condition both with the gravel and rheumatism; 191
V2 One of his captains was shot through the lungs; and on recovering consciousness he saw the General standing at his side. Wolfe pressed his hand, told him not to despair, praised his services, promised him early promotion, and sent an aide-de-camp to Monckton to beg that officer to keep the promise if he himself should fall. Seventy-eighth 662
V2 opposed him; the King hated him; and in April, 1757, he was dismissed. Then ensued eleven weeks of bickering and dispute, during which, in the midst of a great war, England was left without a government. It became clear that none was possible without Pitt; and none with him could be permanent and strong unless joined with those influences which had thus far controlled the majorities of Parliament. Therefore an extraordinary union was brought about; Lord Chesterfield acting as go-between to reconcile the ill-assorted pair. One of them brought to the alliance the confidence and support of the people; the other, Court management, borough interest, and parliamentary connections. Newcastle was made First Lord of the Treasury, and Pitt, the old enemy who had repeatedly browbeat and ridiculed him, became Secretary of State, with the lead of the House of Commons and full control of the war and foreign affairs. It was a partnership of magpie and eagle. The dirty work of government, intrigue, bribery, and all the patronage that did not affect the war, fell to the share of the old politician. If Pitt could appoint generals, admirals, and ambassadors, Newcastle was welcome to the rest. "I will borrow the Duke's majorities to carry on the government," said the new secretary; and with the audacious self-confidence that was one of his traits, he told the Duke of Devonshire, "I am sure that I can save this country, and that nobody else can." England hailed with one acclaim the undaunted leader who asked for no 42
V1 men going to the Ohio, "to cause all the English to quit those parts."