Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/181

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


Johnson does indeed speak of " the heavy hand of a vindictive conqueror." ' It was about this time, or only a little later, that Scott was learning " to detest the name of Cumberland with more than infant hatred." ' That an Englishman could travel in safety, unarmed and unguarded, through a country which only seven and twenty years before had been so mercilessly treated seems not a little surprising. For the next day or two he was to follow a course where fire and sword had swept along. Wolfe, whose "great name," we boast, was "compatriot with our own," who had so little of the savage spirit of war that he would rather have written Gray's Elegy than take Quebec, even he exulted that " as few prisoners were taken of the Highlanders as possible. We had dead." Yet he did not think that enough had been done. The carnage-pile was not lofty enough. Surveying the battle-field five years later, he writes in a letter to his father, a general in the army, " I find room for a military criticism. You would not have left those ruffians the only possible means of conquest, nor suffered multitudes to go off unhurt with the power to destroy." :i Ruffians indeed they had shown themselves in their raid into England, but enough surely had been done in the way of slaughter to satisfy the most exacting military critic. How merciless our soldiers had been is proved by the letters that were written from the camp. A despatch sent off from Inverness on April 25, nine days after the battle, says that " the misery and distress of the fugitive rebels was inexpressible, hundreds being found dead of their wounds and through hunger at the distance of twelve, fourteen, and even twenty miles from the field." 4 On June 5 an officer wrote from Fort Augustus : "His Royal Highness has carried fire and sword through their country, and driven off their cattle, which we bring to our camp in great quantities, sometimes 2,000 in a drove. The people are deservedly in a most deplorable way, and must perish

On July 26 another officer wrote from the same fort to a friend at Newcastle : " We hang or shoot everyone that is known to con- ceal the Pretender, burn their houses and take their cattle, of which we have got some 8,000 head within these few days past, so

1 Johnson's Works, ix. 86. 4 Gentleman's Magazine, 1746, p. 263.

' Lockharl's Life of Scott, \. 24. 3 Ib,, p. 324.

3 Wright's Life of Wolfe, 1864, pp. 84-5, 179.

�� �