By Frank McLynn
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Additional resources for 1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World
General James Wolfe (Private Collection/Bridgeman Art Library) 25. Frederick the Great (The Art Archive/Musée des Beaux Arts Nantes/Dagli Orti) 26. The war in Germany (© Photograph RMN – Gérar Blot) 27. Battle of Minden (Mary Evans Picture Library) 28. Plains of Abraham (© Hulton Archive) 29. Capture of Quebec (© Hulton Archive) 30. Death of Montcalm (© Hulton Archive) 31. Death of Wolfe (© Hulton Archive) 32. Robert Rogers of the Rangers (© Bettman/Corbis) 33. Rogers’ Rangers in action (© Corbis) 34.
There were at most seven million people in Britain in 1759, as against more than twenty-five million in France (140 million in Europe as a whole and 800 million in the entire world). In normal circumstances, this kind of disparity in numbers between combatants is crucial and is often cited as the core reason for the victory of the North over the South in the American Civil War. France, then, appeared to hold the best cards in the global struggle, but it was seapower that opened the door to a world of massively increasing wealth; it is well known that in political struggles money can outpoint sheer numbers.
For all his religious fervour and undoubted achievements, John Wesley was not a very pleasant man. Disingenuous, duplicitous and mendacious, he liked to rewrite his own life story in his letters and journals, so that he appeared omniscient, omnipotent and infallible. But occasionally Wesley was faced by phenomena so overpowering that he confronted the truth with a steady eye. He liked to litter his autobiography with ‘turning points’ and lights on the road to Damascus, but one defining moment of truth certainly occurred.