|The Struggle for Sea Power|
|by M. B. Synge|
|Book IV of the Story of the Worlds series. Focuses on the age of empire and world colonization. The histories of European colonies in America, Australia, South Africa, and India are related. Also covered are the Revolution in America, the French Revolution, and campaigns of Napoleon. Ages 12-18 |
HOW PITT SAVED ENGLAND
"If England to itself do rest but true."
WHEN war was formally declared between France and England in 1756, it seemed as if the dreams of a French empire in
America might indeed be realised. Louis XV. of France had sent the Marquis de Montcalm to press the boundary
claims of Canada, and soon a long chain of forts threatened to cut off the English coast colonies from any
possibility of extending their lands in any direction. The colonies themselves were hopelessly divided, and, so
far, England had not awakened to a sense of her great responsibilities with regard to her empire beyond the
Besides this, there were constant alarms of a French invasion on her own shores. An English fleet had just
retreated before the French; Minorca,
 the key to the Mediterranean, had fallen into the hands of France; while Dupleix
was apparently founding a French empire in India.
A despair without parallel in history took hold of English statesmen.
"We are no longer a nation," cried one English minister.
He did not know that England was on the eve of her greatest triumphs in America as well as in India. It was
this dark hour that called forth the genius of William Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, one of the greatest
statesmen England ever had. He was the son of a wealthy governor of Madras. He had sat in Parliament for
twenty-two years before his chance came.
"In England's darkest hour, William Pitt saved her."
"I want to call England out of that enervate state in which twenty thousand men from France can shake her," he
said as he took office. He soon "breathed his own lofty spirit into the country he served. He loved England
with an intense and personal love. He believed in her power, her glory, her public virtue, till England learnt
to believe in herself. Her triumphs were his triumphs, her defeats his defeats. Her dangers lifted him high
above all thought of self or party spirit."
"Be one people: forget everything but the public. I set you the example," he cried with a
 glow of patriotism that spread like infection through the country.
"His noble figure, his flashing eye, his majestic voice, the fire and grandeur of his eloquence, gave him a
sway over the House of Commons far greater than any other Minister possessed."
"I know that I can save the country, and I know no other man can," he had said confidently.
This was the man who now turned his eyes westwards and won for his country Canada,
which is hers to-day. He saw that if the English colonies in America were to be saved from the French, the
mother country must save them. He appealed to the very heart of England, and by his earnestness and eloquence
he changed his despairing country into a state of enthusiasm and ardour. He now made plans for the American
campaign of 1758. A blow should be struck at the French in America, at three separate points. The French forts
of Duquesne and Ticonderoga were to be captured, while the great French naval station Louisburg, on Cape Breton
Island, beyond Nova Scotia, was to be taken. It commanded the mouth of the river St Lawrence, and no English
ships could reach the capital, Quebec.
The genius of Pitt showed itself in his choice of the man selected for this difficult piece of work.
James Wolfe, the future hero of Quebec, had fought at the battle of Dettingen when only
six-  teen, and distinguished himself at Culloden Moor. He was now given supreme command of the expedition to the
famous fortress of Louisburg, the key to Canada, which he was to conquer triumphantly.
All England now thrilled with the coming struggle in America. The merchant at his desk, the captain on the deck
of his ship, the colonel at the head of his regiment,—all felt the magic influence of William Pitt. All eyes
were strained towards the backwoods of the wild West, where the drama was to be played out.
Fort Duquesne was taken from the French, and to-day, on the same site, stands the city named after
Pitt,—Pittsburg, one of the largest towns in Pennsylvania.
So Pitt had roused England to a sense of her danger and her responsibility, and helped her to rise to a
greatness far surpassing the dreams of either Elizabeth or Cromwell.
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