But, in the mean time, Wolfe
applied himself in-
tently to reconnoitring the north shore above Quebec
Nature had given him good eyes, as well as a warmth of temper to follow first impressions.1
He himself discovered the cove which now bears his name, where the bending promontories almost form a basin with a very narrow margin, over which the hill rises precipitously.
He saw the path that wound up the steep, though so narrow that two men could hardly march in it abreast;2
and he knew, by the number of tents which he counted on the summit, that the Canadian post which guarded it could not exceed a hundred.
Here he resolved to land his army by surprise.
To mislead the enemy, his troops were kept far above the town, while Saunders
, as if an attack was intended at Beauport
, set Cook
, the great mariner, with others, to sound the water and plant buoys along that shore.
The day and night of the twelfth were employed in preparations.
The autumn evening was bright; and the General
, under the clear starlight, visited his stations, to make his final inspection, and utter his last words of encouragement.
As he passed from ship to ship, he spoke to those in the boat with him of the poet Gray
, and the Elegy in a Country Churchyard.
‘I,’ said he, ‘would prefer being the author of that poem to the glory of beating the French
and while the oars struck the river as it rippled in