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says that when Duquesnel directed their captains to sail for Annapolis and aid in its capture, they refused, saying that they had no orders from the court.1 Duvivier protracted the parley with Mascarene, and waited in vain for the promised succor. At length the truce was broken off, and the garrison, who had profited by it to get rest and sleep, greeted the renewal of hostilities with three cheers.
Now followed three weeks of desultory attacks; but there was no assault, though Duvivier had boasted that he had the means of making a successful one. He waited for the ships which did not come, and kept the Acadians at work in making ladders and fire-arrows. At length, instead of aid from Louisbourg, two small vessels appeared from Boston, bringing Mascarene a reinforcement of fifty Indian rangers. This discouraged the besiegers, and towards the end of September they suddenly decamped and vanished. “The expedition was a failure,” writes the Habitant de Louisbourg, “though one might have bet everything on its success, so small was the force that the enemy had to resist us."
This writer thinks that the seizure of Canseau and the attack of Annapolis were sources of dire calamity to the French. “Perhaps,” he says, "the English would have let us alone if we had not first insulted them. It was the interest of the people of New England to live at peace with us, and they would no doubt have done so, if we had not taken it into our
1 Lettre d'un Habitant de Louisbourg.
heads to waken them from their security. They expected that both parties would merely stand on the defensive, without taking part in this cruel war that has set Europe in a blaze.” Whatever might otherwise have been the disposition of the “Bastonnais,” or New England people, the attacks on Canseau and Annapolis alarmed and exasperated them, and engendered in some heated brains a project of wild audacity. This was no less than the capture of Louisbourg, reputed the strongest fortress, French or British, in North America, with the possible exception of Quebec, which owed its chief strength to nature, and not to art. Louisbourg was a standing menace to all the northern British colonies. It was the only French naval Station on the continent, and was such a haunt of privateers that it was called the American Dunkirk. It commanded the chief entrance of Canada, and threatened to ruin the fisheries, which were nearly as vital to New England as was the fur-trade to New France. The French government had spent twentyfive years in fortifying it, and the cost of its powerful defences—constructed after the system of Vauban — was reckoned at thirty million livres. This was the fortress which William Waughan of Damariscotta advised Governor Shirley to attack with fifteen hundred raw New England militia."
1 Smollett says that the proposal came from Robert Auchmuty, judge of admiralty in Massachusetts. Hutchinson, Douglas, Belknap, and other well-informed writers ascribe the scheme to Vaughan, while Pepperrell says that it originated with Colonel John Brad.
Vaughan was born at Portsmouth in 1703, and graduated at Harvard College nineteen years later. His father, also a graduate of Harvard, was for a time lieutenant-governor of New Hampshire. Soon after leaving college, the younger Vaughan - a youth of restless and impetuous activity — established a fishingstation on the island of Matinicus, off the coast of Maine, and afterwards became the owner of most of the land on both sides of the little river Damariscotta, where he built a garrison-house, or wooden fort, established a considerable settlement, and carried on an extensive trade in fish and timber. He passed for a man of ability and force, but was accused of a headstrong rashness, a self-confidence that hesitated at nothing, and a harebrained contempt of every obstacle in his way. Once, having fitted out a number of small vessels at Portsmouth for his fishing at Matinicus, he named a time for sailing. It was a gusty and boisterous March day, the sea was rough, and old sailors told him that such craft could not carry sail. Vaughan would not listen, but went on board and ordered his men to follow. One vessel was wrecked at the mouth of the river; the rest, after severe buffeting, came safe, with their owner, to Matinicus.
Being interested in the fisheries, Vaughan was doubly hostile to Louisbourg, — their worst enemy. He found a willing listener in the governor, William Shirley. Shirley was an English barrister who had come to Massachusetts in 1731 to practise his profession and seek his fortune. After filling various offices with credit, he was made governor of the province in 1741, and had discharged his duties with both tact and talent. He was able, sanguine, and a sincere well-wisher to the province, though gnawed by an insatiable hunger for distinction. He thought himself a born strategist, and was possessed by a propensity for contriving military operations, which finally cost him dear. Vaughan, who knew something of Louisbourg, told him that in winter the snow-drifts were often banked so high against the rampart that it could be mounted readily, if the assailants could but time their arrival at the right moment. This was not easy, as that rocky and tempestuous coast was often made inaccessible by fogs and surf; Shirley therefore preferred a plan of his own contriving. But nothing could be done without first persuading his Assembly to consent. On the ninth of January the General Court of Massachusetts—a convention of grave city merchants and solemn rustics from the country villages — was astonished by a message from the governor to the effect that he had a communication to make, so critical that he wished the whole body to swear secrecy. The request was novel, but being then on good terms with Shirley, the representatives consented, and took the oath. Then, to their amazement, the governor invited them to undertake forthwith the reduction of Louisbourg. The idea of an attack on that redoubtable fortress was not new. Since the autumn, proposals had been heard to petition the British ministry to make the attempt, under a promise that the colonies would give their best aid. But that Massachusetts should venture it alone, or with such doubtful help as her neighbors might give, at her own charge and risk, though already insolvent, without the approval or consent of the ministry, and without experienced officers or trained soldiers, was a startling suggestion to the sober-minded legislators of the General Court. They listened, however, with respect to the governor's reasons, and appointed a committee of the two houses to consider them. The committee deliberated for several days, and then made a report adverse to the plan, as was also the vote of the Court. Meanwhile, in spite of the oath, the secret had escaped. It is said that a country member, more pious than discreet, prayed so loud and fervently, at his lodgings, for light to guide him on the momentous question, that his words were overheard, and the mystery of the closed doors was revealed. The news flew through the town, and soon spread through all the province. After his defeat in the Assembly, Shirley returned, vexed and disappointed, to his house in Roxbury. A few days later, James Gibson, a Boston merchant,
street. In the Public Record Office there is a letter from Bradstreet, written in 1753, but without address, in which he declares that he not only planned the siege, but "was the Principal Person in conducting it,” — assertions which may pass for what they are worth, Bradstreet being much given to self-assertion.