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"I assure you, earl, that I have not taken one penny of the public money."
With a knowing smile and a wink, the earl answered:
“Such a thing is incredible, doctor.”
In writing to a friend about Loudon, Franklin said:
“I wonder how such a man came to be intrusted with so important a business as the conduct of a great doing; but, having since seen more of the great world, and the means of obtaining and motives for giving places and employments, my wonder is diminished. He is always ready to do and never does. He is like St. George on a sign post, -always on horseback and never going forward.”
During the year 1756, events equally disgraceful in England and America occurred. Quarrels, scandals, intrigues, corruptions, and imbecility marked the court and administration of the British monarch. The king's mistress governed the realm, and patriots trembled for the fate of their country. Caricature and satire assailed the governing ministers of England, and Hogarth the artist arose in reputation. The only redeeming feature of the administration was late in the year, when William Pitt, the great commoner, was raised to the dignity of Secretary of State. While the English aristocracy were against the untitled minister, the great mass of English people, those who were the bone and sinew of the nation, were with him; but the aristocrats in power stood in the way of every wise and generous plan of Pitt. When he proposed to pursue a just and liberal course toward the American colonies, he was met by churlish cavils from the Lords of Trade and demands for the taxation of the Americans. The foolish royalists, or nobles, demanded a stamp tax on the American colonies, at which Pitt indignantly replied:
"With the enemy at their back and British bayonets at their breasts, in the day of their distress, perhaps the Americans may submit to the imposition.” Pitt knew the Americans better and had a clearer conception of justice and its wise policy than any public man in England. Neither his country's persuasion nor the threats of the aristocracy could move him; he would not resign the office which he knew the great common people of England wished him to fill, and, in the spring of 1757, he was dismissed by the king with other good members of the cabinet. For several weeks the home government of England was in a state of anarchy, while Loudon was making infinite mischief in America.
At a council held in Boston, in 1757, Loudon determined, in spite of all counsel to the contrary,
to direct all operations against the capture of Louisburg, an object of far less importance than the seizing of Quebec, Montreal or Du Quesne. New England was alarmed, New York amazed, Pennsylvania and Virginia in distress, because of the exposed condition of their frontier settlers to the sanguinary visits of the savages and their allies. Nevertheless, the colonists responded generously to his calls for supplies, and, by June 1, 1757, Loudon had an army of provincial troops alone sufficient, under proper management, to drive the French out of America.
The Earl of Loudon resolved to lead the expedition against Louisburg himself. Before his departure, he made precautionary provisions. He ordered Colonel Bouquet to watch the Carolinia frontier with a few troops. General Stanwix was ordered to guard the western frontier with two thousand men, and General Webb was sent with six thousand troops to defend Forts Edward and William Henry, while Washington, with a few Virginia troops, spent the summer in skirmishing with Indians, and building a fort at Winchester, his headquarters.
When, on the 9th of July, with a force of ten thousand soldiers and sixteen ships of the line and several transports, Loudon rendezvoused at Halifax, it was supposed by all that he would make an immediate assault on Louisburg; but the hope was delusive. The troops were landed, the uneven ground was levelled for a parade; and for almost a month they were employed in the cultivation of a vegetable garden and the exercise of sham fights and sieges. The patience of the officers was exhausted, and Major-General Lord Charles Hay could no longer repress expressions of his indignation. One day, while he was sitting under a tree near the sea-shore, discussing army matters with some fellow-officers, he sprang to his feet, and, blazing with indignation, as he pointed toward a noble ship lying near, and to the idle camp not far off, he said:
“See how the power of England is held in chains by imbecility! Her substance is wasted by indecision! With such ships and such men as we have here, led by an energetic and competent commander, Cape Breton and its fortress, and all the eastern region, might have been a part of the British empire a month ago!"
This little flurry caused the arrest of Lord Hay. He was sent to England, tried by a court-martial and acquitted.
After the arrest of Lord Hay, Loudon hustled about and made preparations for embarking his troops for Louisburg. Among the provincials, as a volunteer, was Noah Stevens, who, leaving his wife in New York, accepted the position of captain
of a New York company. His company was posted on the outskirts of the army on picket service.
One night he was with his lieutenants in his tent, when they were startled by the distant report of a musket.
“Egad! if old Loudon hears that, it will frighten him into leaving for England,” said a young officer.
“Don't speak so disrespectfully of your commander, Edward. Remember General Hay's fate. He'll eat you as he did him.”
“Yes, he was hay for a donkey to chew,” Edward answered contemptuously.
Two more shots were heard, and Noah sprang to his feet and, buckling on his sword, said:
“There must be trouble!”
“No; an enemy cannot be within a hundred miles of us."
As the captain went to the door of his tent, he was met by two of the guard coming in.
“We have captured a stranger, who was prowling about the camp,” one said.
“Who fired those shots?”
“ We did,” one answered. “The corporal and three men are coming in with him.”
“Is he wounded ?” "No."
A few moments later, as Noah stood with a blazing pine knot in his hand in front of his tent,