Obrazy na stronie

ledge and ardour for liberty-all these served to convey the idea of primeval felicity to a heart which was fraught with benevolent feelings. In 1772 his country was blessed with peace, and he immediately resigned his commission, and emigrated to these shores. He selected a delightful spot on the banks of the Hudson, in New-York; married a daughter of judge Livingston of that state; and retired from the bustle of a noisy world. In this most eligible of all situations, the life of a country gentleman, deriving its most exquisite relish from reflection upon past dangers and past services, he gave full scope to his philosophical spirit and taste for rural elegance. Satisfied with himself, and raised above all vulgar ambition, he devoted his time to domestic pursuits, the intercourse of a select society, the study of useful books, and the improvement of his villa. But neither wood nor lawn could make him forget the duties which he owed to society. When the hand of unlawful authority was stretched forth, Montgomery was ready to exchange his peaceful groves for the tented field. From that fatal day in which the first American blood was spilt by the hands of British brethren, and the better genius of the empire turned abhorrent from the strife of death among her children, our hero chose his part.

He was appointed a major-general, the second in rank of eight who were chosen by the congress in 1775. His principles of loyalty remained unshaken. Love to our brethren whom we must oppose, the interchange of good offices, which had so intimately knit the bonds of friendship between the two members, the memory of those days in which we fought under the same banners; the vast fabric of mutual happiness raised by our union, and ready to be dissolved by our dissensions; the annihilation of those plans of improvement in which we were engaged for the glory of the empire all these considerations conspired to render this conflict peculiarly abhorrent to him and every virtuous American, and could have been outweighed by nothing earthly but the unquenchable love of liberty, and that sacred duty which we owe to ourselves and our posterity. The necessity of resistance was manifest, and no sophistry could question our right. "In cases of national oppression," says Blackstone, "the nation hath very justifiably risen as one man, to vindicate the original contract sub.

sisting between the king and people."-" If the sovereign power threaten desolation to a state, mankind will not be reasoned out of the feelings of humanity, nor sacrifice liberty to a scrupulous adherence to political maxims."

[ocr errors]

Montgomery did not hesitate to accept the commission, praying at the same time that "Heaven might speedily reunite us in every bond of affection and interest; and that the British empire might again become the envy and admiration of the universe." (Letter to general Schuyler, 8th Nov. 1775.) He was entrusted, jointly with general Schuyler, with the expedition against Canada; but, in consequence of the illness of that gentleman, the whole duty devolved upon him. There was benevolence in the whole plan of this expedition. It was to be executed not so much by force as by persuasion, and it was exactly suited to the genius of Montgomery. He understood the blessings of a free government, and could display them with captivating eloquence. He had a soul, great, disinterested, affectionate, delighting to alleviate distress, and to diffuse happiness. He possessed an industry not to be wearied, a vigilance that could not be eluded, and courage equal to his other abilities. With a few new-raised men, of different colonies and various tempers, ill supplied with arms and ammunition, undisciplined, unaccustomed to danger-under such circumstances, and in the short space of an autumnal and winter campaign, in rigorous northern climes, to achieve a work which cost Great Britain and the colonies the labours of several campaigns, and what was a sacrifice of infinitely more value, the life of Wolfe-this certainly required a degree of magnanimity beyond the ordinary reach, and the exertion of the highest abilities of every kind. The command and conduct of an army were but small parts of this undertaking. The Indians were to be treated with and restrained; the Canadians were to be managed, protected, and supported; and even his own army, in some degree, to be formed, disciplined, and animated; to be accustomed to marches, encampments, dangers, fatigues, and the frequent want of necessaries. When his men laboured under fatigue, wanted food, made their beds on the snow or in deep morasses, they were ashamed to complain, when they found that their general was willing to share in the execution of all that he commanded. Thus

his example did more to inspire patience, obedience, and love of order, than the most rigid exercise of power could have effected. The influence of this example was still stronger, as it did not appear to be the effect of constraint or political necessity, but the amiable expression of a sympathizing soul, leading him to condescend to all capacities; exact in his own duties, and great even in common things. His own superior military knowledge he would sacrifice to the general voice, rather than interrupt that union on which success depended; and when a measure was once resolved upon by the majority, however much contrary to his own advice and judgment, he magnanimously supported it with his utmost vigour, disdaining that work of low ambition which will strive to defeat in the execution what it could not direct in planning.

It is not necessary that we should follow him through the details of the war in Canada. After capturing Fort Chamble, St. John's surrendered to him, and the governor of Montreal abandoned that city to his victorious arms. Being joined by Arnold, with a body of well disciplined New England troops, he laid siege to Quebec on the first of December. He was now on the same plains which had been consecrated by the blood of Wolfe. Here he won his earliest laurels, and he seemed to be animated by a kindred spirit with the departed chief. The situation of his army was pressing. Snows and frost only quickened his motions. He hoped by one successful stroke, before the arrival of succours to the garrison, to complete his plan, and save the effusion of blood. Owing to the small size of his guns, the bombardment produced no effect, and he was compelled to make an attempt to storm the garrison. He passed the first barrier, and was about to attack the second, when a fatal shot released his gallant spirit, and united him with the glorious commander whose fame he emulated!

It has sometimes been stated that the body of the general was privately interred in the evening by a few soldiers; but this is not true, and justice to his generous adversary requires that we should vindicate the reputation of the lieutenant-general of Canada from such a stigma. We have ample testimony in The Campaign against Quebec in the year 1775, by John Joseph Henry, Esq., who was lately a presiding judge in one of the judicial districts of this state. This is a homely tale, but it is exceedingly in

teresting, because the writer saw all that he describes. He was under the command of Montgomery, and being taken by the enemy, had an opportunity of witnessing the honours that were paid to his memory. The following passage is transcribed from Mr. Henry's book:

"It was on this day that my heart was ready to burst with grief at viewing the funeral of our beloved general. Carleton had in our former wars with the French, been the friend and fellow soldier of Montgomery. Though political opinion, perhaps ambition or interest, had thrown these worthies on different sides of the great question, yet the former could not but honour the remains of his quondam friend. About noon the procession passed our quarters. It was most solemn. The coffin, covered with a pall, surmounted by transverse swords, was borne by men. The regular troops, particularly that fine body of men, the seventh regiment, with reversed arms, and scarfs on the left elbow, accompanied the corpse to the grave. The funerals of the other officers, both friends and enemies, were performed this day. From many of us it drew tears of affection for the defunct, and speaking for myself, tears of greeting and thankfulness towards Carleton. The soldiery and inhabitants appeared affected by the loss of this in valuable man, though he was their enemy. If such men as Washington, Carleton, and Montgomery had had the entire direction of the adverse war, the contention in the event might have happily terminated to the advantage of both sections of the nation. M'Pherson, Cheeseman, Hendricks, Humphreys, were all dignified by the manner of burial."

In the History of the American Revolution, Dr. Ramsay pays a well-earned tribute to the memory of this accomplished soldier.

"Few men have ever fallen in battle, so much regretted by both sides, as general Montgomery. His many amiable qualities had procured him an uncommon share of private affection, and his great abilities an equal proportion of public esteem. Being a sincere lover of liberty, he had engaged in the American cause from principle, and quitted the enjoyment of an easy fortune and the highest domestic felicity to take an active share in the fatigues and dangers of a war instituted for the defence of the community of which he was an adopted member. His well known character was almost equally esteemed by the friends and foes of the side which he had espoused. In America he was celebrated as a martyr to the liberties of mankind; in Great Britain as a misguided good man, sacrificing to what he supposed to be the rights of his country. His name was mentioned in parliament with singular respect. Some of the most powerful speakers in that illustrious assembly displayed their eloquence in sounding his praise and lamenting his fate. Those in particular who had been his fellow soldiers in

the late war, expatiated on his many virtues. The minister himself acknowledged his worth, while he reprobated the cause for which he fell. He concluded an involuntary panegyric by saying, 'Curse on his virtues, they have undone his country.'

"To express the high sense entertained by his country of his services, congress directed a monument of white marble, with the following inscription on it, which was executed by Mr. Cassiers at Paris, and placed in front of St. Paul's church, New-York.


Was erected by order of
Congress, 25th January, 1776,
To transmit to posterity
A grateful remembrance of the
Patriotism, conduct, enterprise, and


Who, after a series of success
Amidst the most discouraging
Difficulties, fell in the attack
On Quebec

31st December, 1775,
Aged 39 years."

In the present number of this Journal we have given a view of the monument, and we close this account by adding that the bones of the deceased have been brought recently from Canada, and are now deposited in the city of New-York, near the monument erected by order of congress. We do not deem it necessary to dwell upon the particulars of the ceremony attending this "sad ostent." The following inscription was placed upon the coffin.

In honour of


Who fell gloriously fighting for the INDEPENDENCE
And LIBERTY of the UNITED States,

Before the walls of Quebec,

the 31st Dec. 1775,

Caused these remains of this distinguished hero to be conveyed from Quebec, and deposited, on the 8th day of July [1818] in St. Paul's church, in the city of New-York, near the monument erected to his memory by the United States.-[Smith's Sermon, Am. Biog. &c.]

« PoprzedniaDalej »