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NEIGHBOURS IN 1745   35

William Vaughan, to whom large seafaring interests had taught experience, had long held the Acadian enemy, set alight the torches of others, notably Governor Shirley of Massachusetts; and a petition was rapidly prepared and presented to the Assembly, asking for men and means with which to attack Louisbourg. The idea was not entirely novel, though it had never been dreamed of otherwise than as a scheme of the greatest importance for the Home Government, with what minor assistance the colonies might be able to offer.

England, however, had grave enough matters on her hands in Europe at the time, and, in any case, seldom considered the anxieties and perils of her colonists in such a serious light as they did themselves. It was urged that to wait for permission or help from that source would be worse than useless, as it would give France ample time to send assistance without limit to her overseas defences. On the contrary, the finances of Massachusetts and the other colonies had been in a bankrupt condition for some time; none had any militia except of the most untrained description, and scarcely an officer who knew what a fort was like, much less the method of attack. All these things


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