CHAPTER VIII. SEVEN YEARS' WAR, 1756-1763 - ENGLAND's OVERWHELMING POWER AND CONQUESTS ON THE SEAS, IN NORTH AMERICA, EUROPE, AND EAST AND WEST INDIES. SEA BATTLES: BYNG OFF MINORCA; HAWKE AND CONFLANS; POCOCK AND D'ACHE' IN EAST INDIES.

Montcalm, therefore, in view of the certain attack upon Quebec by the river, was compelled to weaken his resistance on the Champlain route; nevertheless, the English did not get farther than the foot of the lake that year, and their operations, though creditable, had no effect upon the result at Quebec.

In 1760, the English, holding the course of the St. Lawrence, with Louisburg at one end and Quebec at the other, seemed firmly seated. Nevertheless, the French governor, De Vaudreuil, still held out at Montreal, and the colonists still hoped for help from France. The English garrison at Quebec, though inferior in numbers to the forces of the Canadians, was imprudent enough to leave the city and meet them in the open field. Defeated there, and pursued by the enemy, the latter nearly entered Quebec pell-mell with the English troops, and trenches were opened against the city. A few days later an English squadron came in sight, and the place was relieved. "Thus," says the old English chronicler of the navy, "the enemy saw what it was to be inferior at sea; for, had a French squadron got the start of the English in sailing up the river, Quebec must have fallen." Wholly cut off now, the little body of Frenchmen that remained in Montreal was surrounded by three English armies, which had come, one by way of Lake Champlain, the others from Oswego and from Quebec. The surrender of the city on the 8th of September, 1760, put an end forever to the French possession of Canada.

In all other quarters of the world, after the accession of Pitt to power, the same good fortune followed the English arms, checkered only at the first by some slight reverses. It was not so on the continent, where the heroism and skill of Frederick the Great maintained with difficulty his brilliant struggle against France, Austria, and Russia. The study of the difficulties of his position, of the military and political combinations attending it, do not belong to our subject. Sea power does not appear directly in its effects upon the struggle, but indirectly it was felt in two ways, - first, by the subsidies which the abundant wealth and credit of England enabled her to give Frederick, in whose thrifty and able hands they went far; and second, in the embarrassment caused to France by the attacks of England upon her colonies and her own sea-coast, in the destruction of her commerce, and in the money - all too little, it is true, and grudgingly given - which France was forced to bestow on her navy. Stung by the constant lashing of the Power of the sea, France, despite the blindness and unwillingness of the rulers, was driven to undertake something against it. With a navy much inferior, unable to cope in all quarters of the world, it was rightly decided to concentrate upon one object; and the object chosen was Great Britain itself, whose shores were to be invaded. This decision, soon apprehended by the fears of the English nation, caused the great naval operations to centre for some years around the coast of France and in the Channel. Before describing them, it will be well to sum up the general plan by which England was guided in the use of her overwhelming sea power.

Besides the operations on the North American continent already described, this plan was fourfold: -

1. The French Atlantic ports were watched in force, especially Brest, so as to keep the great fleets or small squadrons from getting out without fighting.

2. Attacks were made upon the Atlantic and Channel coasts with flying squadrons, followed at times by the descent of small bodies of troops. These attacks, the direction of which could not be foreseen by the enemy, were chiefly intended to compel him to keep on hand forces at many points, and so to diminish the army acting against the King of Prussia. While the tendency would certainly be that way, it may be doubted whether the actual diversion in favor of Frederick was of much consequence. No particular mention will be made of these operations, which had but little visible effect upon the general course of the war.

3. A fleet was kept in the Mediterranean and near Gibraltar to prevent the French Toulon fleet from getting round to the Atlantic. It does not appear that any attempt was seriously made to stop communications between France and Minorca. The action of the Mediterranean fleet, though an independent command, was subsidiary to that in the Atlantic.

4. Distant foreign expeditions were sent against the French colonies in the West India Islands and on the coast of Africa, and a squadron was maintained in the East Indies to secure the control of those seas, thereby supporting the English in the Peninsula, and cutting off the communications of the French. These operations in distant waters, never intermitted, assumed greater activity and larger proportions after the destruction of the French navy had relieved England from the fear of invasion, and when the ill-advised entrance of Spain into the war, in 1762, offered yet richer prizes to her enterprise.