In this book I have reproduced articles from the Bombay Courier, which commenced publication in 1793 in the early course of the French Revolution and, from 1827 onwards, the China newspapers – Canton Register, the so-called smugglers’ paper edited by John Slade, and the Friend of China which was edited briefly by the Baptist missionary Shuck and then a London editor, an Alderman of the City, named Carr.
I have separated the news into three sections – Europe, Asia and China – with numerous subsidiary chapters on matters of interest that arise during the period. The three main chapters each have some introductory words
It has become my opinion that newspaper editors of this period were better qualified to report on and draw inferences from news than historians today. I say this because the Editor is a contemporary of the scene he reports and a participant in news-making, aware of the current flow of events and the relationships of the various players in any matter as it occurs. He is already immersed in the society he records, something the historian struggles to achieve.
Strangely, newspapers are not much mentioned in history books, at least in English-language books. I can well understand repudiating today’s fare since Editors have become politicised, biased and self-censored but the Editor of yesteryear was not much like that. He was subject to strong laws of sedition and libel and a prosecution-favouring Judiciary which tended to use any uncertainty in the evidence to promote the government case.
It was Canning who noted the basis to the media / ministry relationship in England at that time – ministers make the news and Editors profit from publishing it. During the first twenty years of this period ministers prosecuted Editors, printers and publishers regularly on the basis that unwelcome news was Republican propaganda, caused by France to foment a wish for democracy in England.
Two hundred years ago there was a likely prosecution for libel or sedition for any incautious article. For the next twenty years ministers continued to oppress Editors in their attempt, on behalf of the owning class, to maintain the status quo and avoid parliamentary reform. It was incumbent on the Editor to ensure he could justify whatever he published.
It is this general situation that allows me to have confidence in the qualities and care of the Editors of these old newspapers.
On the other hand there was the wish of ministers to befriend Editors, invest in their papers and control what the people were told, but it was the nature of the political beast to only attempt this from a position of power, not as a result of discussion and agreement. As a result the government had to buy the paper outright, such as is recorded in these pages concerning the London paper named Morning Chronicle. It seems to have also been the case with the Morning Post.
In England there was a swingeing stamp duty on each newspaper sold which helped to restrict circulation. In spite of this cost, the burgeoning industrial and mercantile classes were keen to advertise their wares and prices for even quite small advertisements in the London press were sky-high. Owning a newspaper was also a good investment when times were hard and most of the period under review was a time of hard conditions for all but the very rich.
The overall effect of these influences on newspaper Editors of this period was to take great care that they could justify every word they printed. Consumers of news concurrently learned to ‘read between the lines’ to adduce the full meaning of reports. Some indicative reports of the difficulties Editors faced are in the Dissent chapter.
The result is a peoples’ history of the period. This is not the sort of information you imbibe from the formal custodians of our past. Those opinions seem to form part of the control apparatus of the State whereas the events in these pages are published as they occur and well before anyone has a chance to reflect on their political significance. These thoughts apply to all chapters in this work.
Readers should note that these reports are datelined when they are published in India or China – four to six months after occurrence of events in Europe and even later for America.
The end of the 18th century where this work commences was also the last years of Warren Hastings trial, which took place against the background of the Revolution in neighbouring France and the execution of Louis XVI and later Marie Antoinette. The reports of Hastings trial and its significance are addressed in the opening paragraphs of the 2nd section of the book – see the Asia chapter.
Regicide was the proximate cause of George III’s insistence to war on the democratic tendency of the French Revolutionaries. He seems to have believed in His Divine Right and His role under God. The King’s cause was adopted by young Pitt and he assembled a cabinet who, whilst responding to the King’s concerns, naturally had their own interests, primarily in landed estates and the funds, which the Minister had to satisfy.
It was not initially a matter for British concern that the French nobility and clergy had been deprived of their estates. There was a recognition of the reasonableness of the revolutionary argument. The confiscation of lands of the nobility and church had not been an act of revenge but of right. The revolutionary philosophy denied the justice of hereditary title. A man’s rights are extinguished by death. Whoever achieves greatness in his life must surrender it on death. It followed that the prime lands of France that passed from generation to generation in the apparent ownership of the same families were actually national property since the demise of the initial grantee.
The church had been granted land to raise a revenue for the payment of its priests. It was an alternative to salaries. It was accordingly argued that there had been no real transfer of land ownership to the church. When the Revolutionaries decided to end the use of religion as a means of managing the French people, they simply recovered the lands that the church no longer required. Later, when Napoleon somewhat restored the church, the priests were salaried and no lands were given to them.
Both the British King and His minister were made anxious by an early resolution of the French legislature to export revolution to the neighbours (19th November 1792). When the French soon afterwards revised this Decree in a way that addressed British doubts, George III and the other great monarchs of Europe continued to oppose French political developments and to war for their Divine Right.
In fact published British war aims changed frequently throughout the twenty years of war with France and, judging by results, only two appear valid. The repeated British rejection of French peace offers – Pitt’s ‘what is to be gained from war?’ as he put it to the Commons – that resulted in the establishment of British global hegemony. The second aim was to crush democracy and arose from the King’s concern for his crown and his head.
The wars with France were basically wars between the people of Europe and their managers, between democracy and autocracy, or, as Napoleon put it – between birth without merit and merit without birth. However the democratic structure of France and its allies operated under, and was given direction by, the dictatorship of Napoleon. I think it uncontentious to note that those countries adopting a Constitutional basis to their management prospered in a way that was not conceivable under monarchical or colonial rule.
If Napoleon erred, it was in his apparent belief that democracy could co-exist with monarchy. He made treaties with the neighbouring Kings that were repeatedly and unilaterally broken, but still he continued. I suppose he thought that the spread of democratic principles amongst the European people would influence their rulers and mitigate the Kings’ pretensions to absolutism. He certainly found that effect in King Ferdinand of Spain, in the Kings of Denmark and Saxony and the dispossessed rulers of Poland, but hardly at all with the big Kings where British financial attractions and ideology were focused. This is the same error that the Founding Fathers of the United States made in bestowing a Constitution on the American people without providing a means for them to retain it or an indication that they would need to organize themselves to preserve their rights.
In considering the French Revolution it is unnecessary to compile lists of causes; there was only one proximate cause without which all others fall – the inability of the French people to retain sufficient value from their labour to feed themselves. This bottomless source of wealth to the Noblesse could no longer tolerate its condition.
The more interesting and relevant aspect to today’s world is in the way the spirit of the French people evolved under the Revolutionary and Napoleonic governments. If one examines this aspect, divorced from the constant warring that was forced on the Republic by the neighbouring Kings and the civil wars in France caused by the dispossessed priests and nobles, financed by England, one finds a goldmine of democratic ideas that are as relevant today as yesterday. Robespierre made a wholehearted attempt to entrench the revolution but failed and his demise led incrementally to Napoleon and the advent of dictatorship.
It was Napoleon who described his reign as “a vast democracy under a dictatorship.”  It was Napoleon who dragged the rest of continental Europe, ex Russia, out of feudal slavery into modernity. It was Napoleon’s influence that underlay the continent-wide revolutions in the decades after his removal and he may be arguably be given a founding role in Italian and German unity and the more recent development of the European Union.
It is widely noted that the French Revolution was a bloody affair. What was particularly bloody were the attempts of the clergy and nobility to regain their lost land and wealth through the stimulation of civil war in Brittany and the South. That was the thing that cost a million lives not the Revolution per se. The early Revolutionary governments certainly lacked confidence and experience but they did not kill their opponents in the consistent and extensive way of the monarchists. Nevertheless, two contending parties did arise in Paris to dispute power and it was the acts of these, in killing-off each other, that provided the present bloody opinion of the revolution.
An article datelined 2nd May 1801 in this chapter estimates the blood cost of judicial executions ordered under the Constituent Assembly, Legislative Assembly and National Convention governments in France at 30,000 from a population of 25 millions. There was also a flood of blood-letting in some of the Jacobin-ruled Provinces.
The sources of European wealth at this time were already global. Japan had been divested of a huge amount of gold and silver by the Portuguese and the Dutch in 16th and 17th centuries. South America had been occupied by the Iberian countries at the same time and its phenomenal wealth in gold and silver was no doubt a factor in producing the decline of those countries from power. The Spanish monarchy and nobility ceased work and the country’s imports were paid in silver by the expatriate merchants of Vera Cruz. England benefited from Portugal by constant favourable trade balances that were settled in bullion, but more importantly, she benefited from her acquisitions in India to a greater extent than Spain did from South America or the Dutch did from Java although, in that latter case, their spice monopolies in Celebes, Moluccas and Ceylon were very substantial earners.
All the aristocrats of the maritime European countries shared in the development of plantations in West Indies. Indeed the basic purpose of European trade was not about getting to know the other occupants of the planet but about exploitation, about getting the natives to grow the tropical commodities Europe liked and getting them to accept their daily necessaries as imports from the mother country. The receipt of commodities from overseas inflated the Customs and Excise receipts for the government and the trade and financing receipts of the City merchants, which, if one upholds the ‘trickle-down’ theory of money circulation, improved life back home. Exploration east and west produced a concentration of riches in Europe to rival the fabled wealth of China.
The underlying great concern was captured in the British diplomat Perceval’s phrase ‘all war is a contention of purse.’ In a world of ‘dog eat dog’ such as had been created in Europe, where a hint of weakness invited attack, it was the country with the deepest pockets that won the war. Wealth was security. This insight seems to have been well understood in London although it is also true that England’s insular position allowed her, like Sweden, a freedom of action that was unavailable to any other first-rank European power.
The oil that lubricated the wheels of government was, then as now, patronage. In this period it was in the gift of the King and nobility, today it is the basis to mercantile authority. It has ever been the case that the man with the money calls the shots.
The many articles dealing with the period at the end of the war with Napoleonic France are interesting for the disclosures about the Licensing system. Trading with the enemy continued throughout the wars under licences but was initially restricted to Bills and only in the later years of war, under Perceval’s prime-ministership, did the minister control all aspects of national commerce abroad. These licences were made transferrable to create a market in them. As Baring noted in the Commons, Britain had become like Turkey.
Matters relating to European history in this period are set out below chronologically except where some substantial matter arises – Political Management, British Economy, Dissent, Prize-taking, South American independence, Queen Caroline and the like – at which point I have consolidated reports in dedicated chapters on each subject for ease of review.
In some cases I have duplicated the article in both the chronological chapter (Europe, Asia or China) and the specific chapter. The following three articles also appear in the Economy chapter.
19th/20th January 1793
According to statistical information from Cadiz and Lisbon, the annual import of gold and silver into Spain from South America averages 5 million ounces (140 tons) of which one million is re-exported to England in return for our manufactures (we only buy wine, fruit and salt from Spain so the trade balance is in our favour).
Sat 1st Mar 1794
$572,252 in gold and $18 million in silver was coined in the capital city of Mexico last year (1792). This excludes both the money coined in Peru and the bullion sent to Spain in bars. The coin is remitted to every country of Europe that trades with Spain in settlement of their mercantile accounts.
It is the Spanish merchants of Mexico who conduct this trade and who have never, even in war, reneged on their agreements. It is an unparalleled instance of national honour being maintained by private individuals.
Sat 15th Oct 1796
Paris, La Critique – The ability of England to keep all Europe agitated derives from her possession of India. War is supported by specie. England obtains greater wealth from India than even Spain gets from Peru. A secretary of Mr Hastings told me (La Critique Editor) the British East India Company remits an average £13.75 millions annually from India to London. This enables the British ministry to buy food and subsidise armies. It is inadequate for France to build new fleets to overthrow this Colossus unless we sail to Calcutta. That is the place to strike.
The early course of the French Revolution is shocking for its lawlessness. It has been recorded by many historians as a time of meaningless and sudden death. It was not the establishment of a new form of government that unsettled the French, who were predominantly hopeful and supportive, but the active hostility of the neighbours who thought to partition France whilst its government was new and unsettled; by the resistance of the Bourbons and their aristocratic and clerical supporters through their many retainers remaining in France after the departure of the ruling family and its principal adherents, and by the contention between the two power centres that developed in Paris.
The idea of people governing themselves was horrifying to the Kings. The evicted Bourbons and the priests obtained great support from the other monarchs of Europe, particularly from the British King and minister, but substantially from the Austrian Emperor and Russian Tsar too.
These émigrés settled themselves in Switzerland and along the Rhine and in Jersey (which they governed on behalf of England) where they could readily get men and douceurs into France to destabilise the country. The Pope was an ally of Kings rather than peoples and he also sought to help as best he could. There were areas of France where the ‘ancien regime’ appears to have been well-tolerated – the Rhone valley, Morbihan in south Brittany and La Vendée in Poitou, both of which latter areas were exposed to émigré landings from offshore islands. At Calais / Dunkirk in the north and Bordeaux in the south-west were resident populations of foreign merchants who, along with the many Royalists in the myriad German states along the Rhine and in Switzerland, covertly assisted the process.
A stream of French adventurers and foreign speculators sought to subvert France internally to their personal advantage by encouraging the poor to rebel and maintaining the anarchical conditions in which profits could be quickly made. It was the influence of these people, servants of the neighbouring monarchs, who made the Revolution appear to continue so long. Their usual tool was to manufacture a threat to the food supply by speculation.
There was also the assiduous counterfeiting of French paper money in both London and Amsterdam. That inevitably helped to unsettle the people. Royalists used thugs in many of the Departments to attack buyers at the auctions of their former lands and deter the people from funding the Republican government. It was not until 1809 or 1810 or a little before that émigré attempts via French neighbours to incite counter-revolution in the old monarchical strongholds encountered a lack of interest amongst the populace.
In England the initial political response to revolutionary ideals was a strict neutrality but it soon became apparent that French principles, particularly the principle of liberty, equality (self-employment) and later fraternity, were alluring to the vast majority of Britons – all those who had neither means nor opportunity to share in the wealth flowing into the City of London.
The centralisation of political, administrative and commercial power in England was focused on London where 10% of the national population lived and worked. London was comparable in size to Paris although England had only 35 – 40% of the French population. London’s disproportionate size reflected the influence of the King through his Chartered Companies, particularly the Bank of England and East India Company; the monopoly of the London Stock Exchange on stock transactions; the collection of East and West Indian trade at London’s docks, which was maintained by a lower Customs tariff from that applicable at outports, the need for provincial banks to maintain balances in London, the provision of entertainments through the theatres and operas and the presence of parliament and of government.
A little wealth leaked out to those provincial towns that produced something valuable – Cornish tin and copper, Yorkshire woollens – or to those productions that added value to imports – Lancashire cottons (from USA via Liverpool), Midland manufactures – but, apart from the payroll, this did little to benefit the country at large. Every town had its local bank or banks to facilitate daily exchange but these had to maintain balances with private banks in London commensurate with their likely cash requirements. The best money-spinner in the Provinces was operating a county bank which allowed one to issue bank notes. Thus London had become the repository of most of the national wealth. Farm production was maintained at high prices through legislation to protect land values and rents (the Corn Laws). The popular indeed the sole route to wealth for the common man was self-employment through shop-keeping or small trading.
Against this background of limited commercial opportunity, most Britons were intrigued by the French vision of ‘ how things might be’ and persuaded that only political reform stood in their way. These popular aspirations threatened British landowners as much as British bankers and required legislative intervention and military action to contain.
The principle instruments of legislative suppression were quite few – the Mutiny Act (which overcame the Constitutional proscription of a standing army) kept soldiers and sailors docile towards their officers; the Aliens Act had the same effect on visiting foreigners; the Militia Act; the Assignats Bill prevented French paper-money being exchanged in Britain (and another Bill sought ineffectively to prevent export of British specie). For residents there was the Suspension of Habeas Corpus for political offences and preventive detention of known liberals; the Sedition Act (and Seditious Meetings Act of a few years later) which facilitated the show-trials in Edinburgh and London in the 1790s and set the tone for the other repressions of free speech that were to come; the Traitorous Correspondence Act which made letters actionable as soon as they were posted (as the ministry saw them before delivery and had appointed a second Post Master General to supervise the reading of mail); The Martial Law Bill and Insurrection Bill; the prohibition of public meetings unless approved by a magistrate; the use of cavalry (and artillery in Ireland) on public meetings; the adoption of quaint legal processes like the Attorney General’s predilection of suing for libel ex officio on Information, a proceeding that permitted the detention of defendants for long periods before and after trial far from their homes, denied them a grand jury and exposed them to the decisions of prosecution-selected and paid jurors; the employment of agents provocateur to direct political reform societies into incriminating themselves, and, it has to be said, a confidence amongst the rulers and merchants that they knew what they were doing (and it was profitable) which allured others to join with them.
There was naturally no ruling-class support in Britain for democracy, indeed as we can see from the articles in the chapter on Political Management there was widespread doubt amongst the owning classes as to whether the Glorious Revolutionaries had got it right in empowering the Commons. The idea of popular political power was deemed to be flawed. It was considered as mob rule. The aristocracy was tutored in the Greats, it knew the history and culture of Greece and Rome, it was aware of the historical precedents for this or that political action. Whenever democracy was mentioned, the Athenian example came to their minds, which was precisely mob rule. The interests of the aristocrats were necessarily those of the King through their investments in mines and canals, etc., share of political power through the House of Lords, as Lieutenants of Counties and – through their great estates – the ownership of numerous electoral districts returning representatives to the Commons and providing a source of manpower for the militia. How could Tom Paine and his ilk have a better idea of the best means of governing the country than the owners of it?
The notion that every man was ipso facto qualified by English birth to select MPs was thought absurd and the power centres had the means, through their control of the election process, legislature and their employment of people living in the towns and villages on their estates, of ensuring it did not happen.
At the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, the liberally-minded Charles James Fox was prepared to enfranchise Scot and Lot property owners but no more – to preserve the deliberative content of political argument. He was convinced a universal franchise merely conferred the numbers on the electorate. Whilst a large electorate may preclude bribery, it was unnecessary to enfranchise everyone. A ‘one man, one vote’ system would facilitate the introduction of the ambitious trickster onto the hustings and he in turn would infect the Commons with his amorality. Far better that an elector vote for a man of principle such as the candidates whom the power centres put up, so he said.
The mere fact of French amendment of their form of government was a threat to Kings throughout Europe and to the system of King and Pope uniting their authority in the name of God, sharing the revenue of the continent on the stable platform of Divine Right.
When, in the early course of the Revolution, it was clear that France’s neighbours were determined to restore Bourbon monarchy, the Republican government responded with the 19th November 1792 proclamation of the National Convention offering French help to dissidents in other countries who wished to emulate France and become free. This was no doubt a hostile act and was soon amended but by then the damage was done.
To roll-back those Constitutional protections of the British that necessarily needed to be suspended to facilitate their control, really required the country to be at war. Under that condition, restrictive legislation might be enacted and Britons brought back into submission. At least, that was the course of action that parliament embarked upon. Lord Auckland’s negotiations with Dumouriez in the low countries in which that officer agreed to turn his army on Paris and overthrow the French government was sufficient to induce a Declaration of War from Paris when the legislators discovered it and thus the game was afoot.
If there is any doubt on the subject, the intentions of the continental Kings at this time can be discerned from the terms of the Treaty of Pavia below. This was done when France was distracted by its domestic Revolution and the neighbours were confident of their own success in bringing the French people to submission. It induced the successful French response of national conscription:
Sat 4th Oct 1794
The Treaty of Pavia, July 1791, between Austria, Spain, Prussia and Russia provides that:
- Austria will take all the lands conquered by France in the Austrian Netherlands and give them to the Elector Palatine (the state south of Hesse). The new lands added to the Palatinate will be called Austrasia.
- Austria will take Bavaria in perpetuity. The Archduchess Maria Christina with her nephew the Archduke Charles will receive hereditary possession of Lorraine. Alsace will be restored to Austria. The Bishop of Strasbourg and those of the German cities will recover their ancient privileges.
- Should the Swiss Cantons join the monarchical coalition, they will receive the Bishopric of Porentrui, the defiles of Franche Compte and Tyrol with the neighbouring bailiwicks and the territory of Versoy,
- If the King of Sardinia accedes to the coalition, la Bresse, le Pugey and the Pays de Gex, all usurped by France from Savoy, will be restored to him. If the King can occupy Dauphiny he may keep it as the nearest descendant of the Dauphins.
- The King of Spain shall have Rousillon, Bearn, the island of Corsica and the French part of Santo Domingo.
- Austria will require Turkey to surrender Choczim and the small forts of Serbia and the River Lurna.
- Russia may invade Poland and retain Kaminieck and part of Padolia.
- On the Russian invasion of Poland, the Prussian King may acquire Thorn and Danzig and unite the Palatinate on the east to Silesia. He shall have Lusace and, in exchange, the Elector of Saxony will get the rest of Poland and become its hereditary King.
- The present King of Poland will abdicate in return for an annuity.
- The Elector of Saxony gives his daughter in marriage to the youngest son of the Tsar and their children will be the hereditary Kings of Poland
Sgd Leopold (Austria), Prince Nassau (Russia), Count Florida Blanca (Spain), Bischoffswerder (Prussia).
The British ruling class agreed that ‘men were born equal’ but noted that luck and perseverance quickly led to inequality. Its views accorded with the framers of the American Constitution. British politicians understood equality in the French style as a threat to the individual ownership of wealth, the accumulation of which depended on the master / servant laws – the legally regulated service of hirelings for reward. They imagined French equality was some sort of visionary sharing of all property amongst all people, which would indubitably be uncompetitive and likely to impoverish and fossilise society. Although it should have been quickly apparent that French equality was nothing like that, they remained implacably opposed.
There were in fact a couple of English books written on the subject of the French Revolution, most notably Edmund Burke’s, that were fundamental in forming these doubtful British opinions. Equality remained the most commonly published reason for Britain to war on France, for the threat it was thought to represent to individual wealth – the ‘French principles’ argument. In France, a leader might be queried about his instructions; he might have to justify his proposals, particularly if they appeared contentious. In England, that sort of participation in decision-making was seen as the road to anarchy, an intolerable threat to the hierarchical management of the country and its commerce. It subverted the employment laws that had regulated work since feudal times. The ruling class felt that people had become inured to deferring to wealth and should not be inculcated in some contrary and disruptive philosophy.
The great Kings of Europe and the Pope, were all fighting for the institution of monarchy and the concept of Divine Right. It was a beautiful system as it had God at its head. Who could wish for higher legal authority? The Kings were chosen by God. Their ministers were landowners in their own right and tended to the same persuasions and opinions as their Masters. It was only in the two great commercial centres of London and Amsterdam, and, to a lesser extent, in apolitical Hamburg, that the rights of the individual merchant were a consideration, in contradiction to the basic nature of the mercantilist commercial system.
So, no more words, let us start:
Sat 20th April 1793
M Lebrun, French Foreign Minister, has reported to the Citizen President of the National Assembly on the advices received from French diplomats concerning the present state of Europe. Here is his assessment:
- “That woman of the North (the Tsarina) who for 20 years has threatened us, still does so. She still announces the arrival of her troops in France although she actually retains them at home, fearful of domestic disturbance. We are told 30,000 Russians are coming but all those men still remain within Poland. The ships in the White Sea (Ed- now called the Gulf of Finland) have returned to Kronstadt – they had neither provisions nor ammunition.
- The fleet announced to be coming from the Black Sea is yet to appear. For it to pass the Dardanelles violates the Russian treaty with the Ottoman Porte and he has no reason to grant favours to the Tsarina.
- Poland is consumed with internal matters and can do nothing abroad.
- Denmark’s interests require it to observe a strict neutrality.
- Vienna has prevailed on the Prussians to declare war on France. The war that Berlin and Vienna wage against us will bring retribution on them. Already the domestic scene is fermenting. Frederick demands an extra 30,000 troops but they cannot be provided to him without risking an insurrection.
- The attitude of Russia, Austria and Prussia may be explained by secret diplomacy in London and at the Hague. We must carefully watch England and Holland. These two powers operate the same commercial system. They are considering the proposals of Vienna and Berlin and have recalled their ambassadors from Paris. Both have renewed their pledges of strict neutrality, excepting the safety of the French King. Both say they respect our independence and will not meddle in our internal affairs, but we well know that if the people of another country favour our Revolution, both their governments will oppose it.
- Holland is not arming herself but she gives our enemies loans, shipping and weapons.
- England prepared a small squadron but it has since returned to port. It has not been laid-up and the country can, at short notice, put a considerable war fleet to sea.
- Spain has only 25,000 men ready to march against us. We may expect Spain to actively oppose France for there is a Bourbon on the Spanish throne.
- The petty princes of Italy will always follow the plan of the strongest amongst them.
M Lebrun’s report was greeted with applause.
Sat 13th April 1793
The Duke of Brunswick says he will march the Austrian army to Paris, arrest Lafayette and Alexander Lameth as state prisoners and have them executed for treason. The Feuillants, who are all in London except the four prisoners at Wesel, forced the new Constitution on the King in September 1791.
Their scheme was solely to destroy an abusive autocracy and substitute a well-organised limited monarchy. But they were forced to yield to more violent opinions, and their successors are determined to establish a Republic. This seems to be the hope of all the French people and, as French leaders subscribe to the view that government flows from the people, the Feuillants cannot object.
We have a limited monarchy in England and naturally support the Feuillants. We should concede to others what we expect for ourselves – the right to form a government for their own happiness.
If the Duke of Brunswick, leading the armies of Prussia and Austria, fails to violently overthrow the Revolution in France, the Tsar, who has occupied Poland whilst the neighbours are squabbling, will no doubt suggest they keep what they have conquered whilst he keeps Poland.
Of all the rulers who supported the émigrés, Sardinia and Nice are most threatened. Savoy is already occupied by a French Revolutionary army.
Sat 20th April 1793
A ship arrived at Mauritius on 1st March which had left France in November 1792. It brought news of the political situation:
- The armies of France have pursued the Prussian and Austrian armies and achieved several victories but at great cost. The Germans have lost many officers. The Duc d’Angouleme and Prince of Nassau are dead; Marshall de Broglio is seriously wounded; Marshall de Bouille was captured and his two regiments cut to pieces defending him – he has been sent to Paris for trial. The Prussian baggage train, ammunition and treasure were captured at Coblenz and the army will likely have to retreat into Prussia.
- Flanders and Savoy have yielded to French arms and agreed to pay French tax. Frankfurt, Brussels, Coblenz and Mayence (Mainz) have been captured by France. At Mayence twelve silver statues of the apostles were liberated from the cathedral and sent to the National Assembly in Paris for the mint.
- It is said the Spanish King has agreed to provide France with 90 million livres (9.5 livres = $1 approx) instead of the ships and men required under his treaties with the former regime.
Sat 4th May 1793
A packet of letters arrived at Madras on 9th April. It came via the overland route through Aleppo, Baghdad and Basra. The letters left Europe on 12th December 1792.
According to information in the letters, at the beginning of December all the low countries were in French possession. The ultimate battle was between 80,000 French troops under Dumouriez and 15,000 Austrians under the Bourbon General Clairfait. It cost 10,000 French and 5,000 Austrian lives but was without doubt a French victory.
All the European Kings are being asked to send troops to resist the unexpected success of the French. Austria speaks of fielding 160,000 troops, Prussia 90,000. All the German princes will have to raise their maximum quota for the forthcoming battles.
Sat 11th May 1793
Editorial – Europe is in an extraordinary state. Two great revolutions in Poland and France have occurred. Poland has fallen under the oppressive feudal system of Russia while France has defeated Prussia and Austria but has since slid further into anarchy. Defoliation and rapine characterise France. Its military success is anomalous but is less alarming than the principles espoused. The premise that they seek to establish – ‘the happiness of the people’ – is specious.
They are destroying all authority; nothing remains to unite society or to protect property. They are the enemies of us all. Their armies have spread over vast tracts and conquered new provinces. The French levellers have placed cannon in every street of every town.
Frankfort, to remove the French ‘liberators’, had to open its gates to the traditional enemy, the Prussians. Geneva is in anarchy. Italy expects the army of Provence to desolate its coasts. Holland has been violated in contempt of treaties. Britain has received Jacobin emissaries and is only secured by its Constitution and the Channel.
Many German towns have opposed the French system. A Belgian coalition is developing to oppose those who simultaneously attack the altar and throne. Endless murder has been perpetrated in Nice by the soldiers. We are all beset by a horde of robbers.
Britain must protect its Constitution from clandestine attack by Jacobin emissaries. She is daily attacked in the National Assembly and threatened by French executive power. These seditious appeals to the people are intended to create civil discord.
If the new French Republic becomes consolidated, it will be impossible to preserve the British Constitution (it is expected that the British people will be infatuated with the ideals of fraternity, equality, etc., and rebel). They will not lay down their arms until all other countries are reduced to the same wretched state as themselves – when their commerce is ended and all their money gone.
The allied armies of the North and South must create an impenetrable barrier along French frontiers. We must cover the seas with warships and intercept their convoys.
Sat 18th May 1793
Ships officers just arrived in Bombay from England have updated our European news to 10th January 1793:
In England, the government issued a proclamation on 1st December 1792 to establish militias and is offering a bounty to seamen. Another proclamation at about the same date proscribes the publication of seditious papers.
On 13th December the government ordered all the forts along the British coast to be put in readiness. The fort commanders are to open houses for the reception of volunteers into the Royal Navy. The Tower of London has been put in a state of defence and the number of guards around London has been doubled.
Sat 18th May 1793
The leaders of the City of London mercantile establishment have pledged their support and funds to government.
Sat 18th May 1793
George III has delivered his Address to parliament.
To both Houses:
“I wish the nation enjoyed tranquillity. We must be vigilant to preserve the advantages we have hitherto enjoyed. Sedition has been checked by your proclamation of last session and by the general will of the people, but a spirit of insurrection has required military intervention in support of the civil magistrates. The subversives seem intent on toppling order and government. They are supported by foreign nationals. I have observed strict neutrality in European affairs but France has no regard for the rights of neutrals and seems set on conquest and aggrandisement. The attack on the States General (the Netherlands), a neutral, evidences my fears. I have accordingly ordered preparations for our internal defence.”
To the Commons:
“I have ordered the estimates to be placed before you. I regret we must use our money for defence before we can pay-down the national debt or reduce taxes further. I am confident you will agree.
“I am pleased to congratulate Cornwallis on his brilliant victory in India. The terms of peace with Tippoo are particularly satisfactory to me. They will ensure the tranquillity of our domains there. You will now consider arrangements for the future government of these territories and their prosperity.
“I am also concerned for tranquillity here and for the prevention of all breaches of the peace. Maintain the Constitution.”
Sat 18th May 1793
In France, the trial of King Louis XVI commenced on 10th Dec. On 26th December King Louis made his defence. Representatives of 64 of the 80 French departments then passed a verdict of guilty on him and sentenced him to death.
Sat 18th May 1793
The defence of Louis XVI (Louis Capet on the papers) started 26th December 1792:
I allude to my state before and after I accepted the Constitution. I am charged with offences under the Constitution.
I do not dispute the principle of national sovereignty and observe it was by my counsel that it was inserted in the Constitution. A people cannot exercise sovereignty themselves; they do so by choosing a form of government.
In 1789 that choice was for monarchy. The terms were laid out in the Deed (the Constitution). It required the inviolability of the Chief. It was a contract until revoked. It was also a Trust but subject only to those terms included in the Deed.
The 2nd chapter makes the King inviolable subject to certain occasions. There is no procedure in the Constitution for judging or trying a King. Abdication arises in stated circumstances. One event is if the King refrains from taking the Oath or retracts it, he will abdicate. Another event is if the King leads an army against his own country; or if he does not forcefully protest against such an undertaking, he shall be deemed to have abdicated. This offence is the greatest crime, yet the Constitution merely deems him to have abdicated.
Article 8 says if the King is deemed to have abdicated, he may be tried for his offences prior to the Constitution. It is manifest from this that the King enjoys a form of protection while he is King which he loses if he abdicates. His abdication is required after the blackest crimes.
The Constitution is an agreement between the Legislature and the King. It should be binding on both. The Legislature might also betray the country yet no penalty is contained in the Constitution for legislative non-performance. It is the Legislature that has embarked on a policy of war.
Now the nation has abolished monarchy. How can you apply the penalty? When I accepted the Constitution I was a prisoner of the nation. You had then abolished royalty. Why did you not try me then? It is long since you abolished royalty but now you bring this action to punish me. As there is no applicable law you have willingly created one. You have the power to do so but justice will never support you.
You say I am an enemy of the people but is not he who puts himself at the head of an army and attacks the nation an enemy of the people? If the King is inviolable, you are inviolable. Rousseau says the law neither prosecutes nor condemns. If you strip me of my right to be tried as a King, you at least must allow me to be tried as a citizen. In that case, where are the necessary forms? Where is the jury? Where is the disinterested Judge? All I see are accusers. You have already passed sentence.
The charge goes back to 10th January 1789 when you accuse the King of intending to dissolve the Assembly. Did not the King convene that Assembly? Have not Kings been convening and dismissing Assemblies for the last 150 years?
You have reproached me for assembling troops around Paris. Those troops were solely to protect Paris and prevent insurrection. You acquitted the commander of those troops.
You have broken into my palace and searched my apartments. You found no inventories or seals on papers that might have incriminated me. All you have are letters from dead men saying I paid money to some people. Who is to say for what purpose? Who is to say the King was not deceived by those people? You mention letters to La Fayette and Mirabeau but they are my letters that were never sent. At that time they were the most popular people and loved the Constitution. The letters concern the welfare of the nation.
You also produce my unsent letter to Bouille. You yourselves voted thanks to Bouille. You reproached him for riots on 28th February but that was due to ill-disposed people coming to the palace who were asked to leave their arms outside.
You accuse the King of instigating the massacre at Champs de Mars but at that time I was already suspended from monarchical functions and held your prisoner.
The nation had chosen a Republic but this form of government has not yet been adopted. The Legislature declared itself opposed to Republicanism last July.
I remind you that I have accepted the Constitution. It is the bond between me and my people. The Constitution does not require the King to guarantee the acts of ministers. On the contrary it creates their own responsibility. How can the King be Constitutionally responsible for the acts of his ministers?
You complain I kept the Convention of Pilnitz from you but this was a secret treaty between the Austrian Emperor and the King of Prussia. It could not be disclosed to an Assembly whose proceedings are public.
You say I delayed for a month telling you of the decree of Avignon. This was the accusation against Minister Delessart. How can you, after his death, prefer the same accusation against his King.
A letter from Wittgenstein to the King is imputed as a crime against the latter. I bestowed no post upon him after his recall. Wittgenstein was never invested with the command of Corsica, as you say. I hear he was employed in the Northern army but that was likely an appointment made by La Fayette. I have never seen the letter of appointment.
You accuse the King for the failure of arms at Longwi (where a French army surrendered) but it was Narbonne in charge of the army and the inhabitants of the town were culpable anyway. The King is reproached for the surrender of Verdun but my commander there died in the siege rather than surrender.
The King is reproached for not retaining the Swiss Guard, even though the Constitution required their dismissal. Your decree said the Swiss Guards should be reformed and until that process was complete, the old Guard would continue.
On 3rd July you ordered three battalions of Swiss Guards away. D’Affry remonstrated against this order, knowing the capitulations made with Switzerland, but you still sent two battalions away.
The King is reproached for his letter to the Bishop of Clermont. This was before his acceptance of the Constitution and contained only expressions of religion.
He is reproached with paying his Swiss Guard but the Assembly, in ordering it disbanded, requires it to be again reconstituted. It is mere justice to continue payment until the reorganisation is complete.
The King is accused of succouring émigrés, protecting ambassadors and forming a coalition of foreign powers, and of having influenced the Court of Vienna. I have constantly resisted the émigrés. When your President informed me of the attempt by émigrés to obtain arms at Frankfort and of the refusal of the Magistrate there to permit it, I ordered the President to give public thanks to Frankfort and ask the Magistrate to persevere.
No émigré has received succour from me. I have supported my nephews aged 11 and 14. There was then no legal age limit on emigration although the Convention has since framed such a law. My nephews were without support since 1789. I did my duty as an uncle not a King.
I have supported the Duc de Rochefort but he is not an émigré. He is said to have sent money to Bouille. Bouille refers to receipt from the King’s brother. This matter does not involve the King.
I am accused of suborning the Legislators with 10 million livres. I have no advantage from that. The profit has gone to the Legislators, the shame alone remains with me. It was I who insisted this transaction should be made public in the Legislature, but was denied.
The payment to my body guard at Coblenz in October 1791 was made openly. I told the Treasurer the amounts must continue to be paid until the Guard is disbanded, but I changed the method. Instead of sending the gross sum to the field officers to distribute, I sent it individually to each Guard requiring he provide a receipt and evidence of his French residence. Why is that instruction removed from the bundle dealing with this matter?
I now come to the disastrous day of 10th August. The people were told that force would be met with force. The cannons were discharged in my presence. I then came straight to the National Assembly. It was an hour later that things started to go wrong. I was not there. Your only reproach is that I reviewed my troops. Did you not know that the Mayor of Paris also visited his posts? Is not the King supposed to review troops? Does he not have constituted authority? How can the events of 10th August be imputed as a crime against the King? You accuse me, who at Varennes chose to return a captive rather than permit any violence be done to the people, who on 20th June refused all succour and chose to remain amongst his people?
I have always ruled with justice. I have anticipated the wishes of my people. When they asked for liberty I gave it.
The King then retired but as he went a sudden flush spread over his countenance and a few tears fell.
Manuel then moved a three day adjournment but Duhem requested an immediate judgment of execution. Lanjuinais opposed this but the violent party, known as ‘the mountain’ (amongst whom Monsieur Égalité is seated) wanted instant justice. It was then proposed to refer the decision to the individual Assemblies. This incensed ‘the mountain’ and Jullien asked for the President of the Assembly to be dismissed for ‘no confidence’ as he had conferred with Malesherbes, one of the King’s counsellors. President Fremont replied he conferred with Malesherbes to settle the procedure of the hearing. Quinnette supported delay. Thuriot demanded the Assembly continue in session until a judgment was reached. Couthon agreed. Petion said a continued sitting did not pre-empt the involvement of the individual assemblies in the decision. ‘The mountain’, egged on by spectators in the gallery, tried to stop Petion being heard. Quickly the meeting collapsed into anarchy and fighting ensued. Fremont restored order and Petion was heard. He denounced the attempt to have a decision without discussion. He said we must examine everything if we are to do justice.
Girey said afterwards the defence was conducted with calmness; the anarchists and those in the gallery incited tumult. If the French people had seen it, they would have known which party betrayed their interests. The hopes of the coalition of Kings (the neighbours) are founded on this Assembly. Happily a majority of the Legislators appear disgusted and determined to put an end to it.
Sat 25th May 1793
French National Assembly – Robespierre proposed making the King a hostage against the ambitions of those who might wish to succeed him. “If we put him to death, may it not be said that the people of Paris forced us to do so?”
Maurrison said we should precisely follow the law and require His abdication. That was the utmost that could be done.
Engerran said the choices were only death or banishment. He should be sentenced to death but the people may commute the sentence.
Prost said if the King lived, he would become a centre for counter-rebellion. He saw no comparison between Louis Capet and Charles Stuart. Charles had been condemned by men without authority whereas the National Assembly was commissioned by the people specifically to try Louis. Charles’ death had been useless to the English people because the aristocracy survived him – where one exists the other will always be found. He feared that referring the decision to the Primary Assemblies would risk civil war.
Focquedy said the National Assembly had political not judicial powers. It should not usurp the Courts. It should not exercise both powers at the same time. On 20th October we suppressed the National Courts and on 3rd December we declared Louis was to be judged by us. On 21st Sept we declared the convention of constituted authorities and on 3rd December we usurped the judicial power. We are concerned to secure our liberty. Our armies are dispersed while our enemies are concentrated. We should refer the decision to the Primary Assemblies, he said.
Sat 25th May 1793
House of Commons, December 1792 – the Aliens Bill was read a second time.
Dundas said it was to deal with the great influx of French émigrés that had arrived in this country He said we must take care of people from a country where the government has been overturned and anarchy prevails. Many of these people appear as refugees but may be revolutionaries. They may wish to overturn our Constitution too.
The main terms of the Bill are that any alien over 14 years old must account for himself and for any arms and ammunition in his possession. They are required to register wherever they go. Habeas Corpus is suspended for them. The government is empowered by this Bill to remove aliens on suspicion.
Sir Gilbert Elliot said the Bill had his complete assent. He was gratified that the government had to request the people for these extra powers; that its authority was narrowly limited. He regretted the view of Fox who opposed the best interests of the country in the present danger.
Fox complained that Elliot should have told him his view first. His own acts had been consistently in defence of the House and the Constitution. That was how they had come into power. If they were now to support an administration that they had hitherto opposed, they ended the fundamental principles that had previously guided them. He saw no need for the Bill.
Burke said a Party is convenient for arranging business and getting the predominant views accepted, but representatives are supposed to act individually. Party policies should not be publicly discussed. He fundamentally opposed French principles and supported the government, whoever the ministers may be, provided their principles opposed France. This is the time to support government, he thought. He would not support one day and oppose the next. If he thought the policy was wrong he would oppose the minister responsible for it. He did not believe government was acting to increase the Royal prerogative. The Commons is friendly with the aristocracy and does not intend to overturn the Lords. He believed the present ministry had the confidence of the people. In the present danger we must act in unison.
Fox is for negotiating and accommodating France.
Pitt took the traditional view that France is our most dangerous competitor in Europe. To preserve the status quo it is essential to balance the powers of Europe by forming alliances when necessary. This diverts France and requires her to spend more on her military. It prevents her gaining a naval ascendancy over us. Austria is a natural and occasional ally of England. She makes a barrier to France. If France occupied the Netherlands, we can only influence her though Austria (which owns the Austrian Netherlands – Brabant and Flanders – and leads the myriad German states along the Rhine). Our policy is to maintain Austrian influence in the Netherlands.
When Austria and Prussia co-operate it is a blessing to England; when they are opposed it is a blessing to France.
Fox has rejoiced in the defeat of the Austrians and Prussians. He rejoiced in Jemappe. He says we should have intervened to prevent our erstwhile allies entering France. He says we should ally with France. These territorial developments make France greater and jeopardise Holland. The Phalanx (Fox’s Republican supporters) rejoiced in the defeat of the Confederates as a triumph of freedom over despots.
Pitt rhetorically asked of them:
Did it better France?
Did it better secure property?
Did it increase respect for religion?
Was morality inculcated?
Were the people made happier?
He asserted there were no such benefits. The Liberty that triumphed was a Liberty without law, without government, without security.
French Generals, in every country they enter, declare the sovereignty of the people and suppress the existing administrators, Pitt continued. They convoke Primary Assemblies to elect Judges and Administrators and no-one can be elected unless he first take an Oath to uphold liberty and equality and renounce all privileges he has hitherto enjoyed. Existing judges and administrators cannot be elected at first.
When France occupied Alsace and the Netherlands, the existing judges and administrators were barred from office even when the people wanted them. The Oath to renounce all privileges would not be tolerable to members of this House. Wherever French principles predominate, the elected officials are found unfit for office. Having no privileges themselves, these people might be expected to have no respect for the privileges of others.
One way of becoming a French enemy is for a people to negotiate or accommodate their existing ruler. This French liberty is an enforced liberty.
The last article (of the 19th November Declaration promoting the export of revolution) swears that they will never lay down their arms until every country they have occupied is free. This is the Declaration that England resists. The clause notes that they will keep an expense account of the costs of bestowing liberty on their neighbours and require its repayment. Pitt said this is like the lawyer who ruins those whose cause he espouses, then sends in a Bill of Costs.
The Phalanx (Fox’s group) propose sending an ambassador to discuss the opening of the Scheldt on the basis of the natural rights of nations. That is precisely the position of M Le Brun, the French minister.
Lord Grenville has asserted there are now 19 French assassins in England ready to kill the King.
At this point in the debate, Burke jumped up and threw a dagger on the floor of the House. “There is French fraternity” he said. Everyone was dazzled and the Bill was carried without a division.
Sat 25th May 1793
Fox has moved a proposal to send an ambassador to recognise the French Republic. He says we must try to avert war and that can only be achieved by negotiation. This is not intended to approve the acts of the French Assembly but merely to accept the reality of the situation and try to influence French ministers. He regretted that the British ambassador had been recalled.
Grey seconded the motion.
Lord Sheffield was astonished that MPs might make such motions. Britain did not treat with a nation of cut-throats and assassins. These Frenchmen were opposed to our Constitution. This is the third attempt of Fox’s group to defend the French. His cries had already excited some English people to oppose their King and oppose payment of their tithes to the church and their taxes to the government. Sheffield now publicly withdrew his support for Fox.
M A Taylor spoke in support of Fox. He was as zealous as anyone in his support of the Constitution by King, Lords and Commons but he could not advocate the maintenance of abuses. He demanded reform. War is always a calamity. We have much to lose and little to gain. Why should Fox be abused for averting calamity. He did the same when we were on the verge of war with Russia. He cares for the peace and prosperity of the British Empire. In the Russian case, those opposed to peace had shown themselves destitute of honour, principle and character. The time may come when Fox’s services will be required to treat with France.
Grey said it was the parliamentary proclamations in this country that had stirred-up insurrection in the counties, not the actions of France. Parliament had created the problem it said it was intent on solving. Reason and conviction supported Fox’s arguments; declamation and passionate speculation supported the government. Ministers say we must war in good faith to our treaties. How can our treaties force us into such a position? Do we not attempt to urge and counsel our ally? Before I agree to war, at least this much must be shown to have been done. The article by which we are bound to maintain an exclusive navigation of the Scheldt must be shown to me. It must be shown that remonstrance has not availed us. I will support Fox as best I can. I support the Constitution. Those professing an attachment to it are actually destroying it.
North said he was against treating with France because there was no legitimate authority with which to treat. If we agreed to Fox’s motion, who would be sent to Paris as ambassador? Ambassadors from the private ‘seditious’ groups in England have already gone. Will France welcome an ambassador from our King when they have themselves renounced monarchy?
Fox said he was not proposing an alliance with France but a negotiation.
Colonel Tarleton said every Englishman was loyal but free, he was obedient but independent. It is right to watch ministers. If there is a war, we have much to lose and nothing to gain. Our merchant fleet covers the globe whilst the ships of other nations are infrequently seen. If war is commenced our commerce will be disrupted.
Jenkinson said we need not fear war. Those who opposed it now had approved it in 1787. The circumstances are now quite different. In 1787 the insults offered to England were less than those offered by France now. Our resources were then much less than now and French resources were then far greater than they are now. The French Finance Minister actually says the nation is close to bankruptcy. Cambon says France has spend £19 millions in three months.
In 1787 we had Spain against us, now she would probably be an ally. Some say our internal danger prevents our going to war. A seditious faction does exist in England. Its members correspond with France discussing amendments to the English Constitution, but that is no reason for foregoing war. On the contrary it is an incentive for war. In war the acts of a seditious group become treason. They would have to leave England.
The ambition of French Kings has to be guarded against but the ambition of the French people is different because the King has ministers to advise him whereas the people have no-one. Neither Charles V nor Louis XIV dared to promote such projects as the National Assembly has promoted. The conquest of Savoy was monstrous. The King of Sardinia (sovereign of Savoy) has 7,000 troops and can do nothing to protect his lands. His fault, the pretext for French invasion, was to permit some proscribed émigrés to reside in his country.
The next French aggression was in Geneva. As the French approached, the Genevans called in the Swiss. When the French arrived they ejected the Swiss force and demanded the punishment of the Genevan judges who called them in. This was interference in the domestic affairs of Geneva. By fomenting a revolution in Geneva, France revealed its true intentions – the subversion of all legitimate government.
At Frankfurt, the pretexts for plunder were firstly a newspaper article extolling the benefits of aristocracy and secondly some bankers who funded émigrés. The policy of France is national aggrandisement. The more they take, the more they want.
As soon as they took Brussels they became hostile to our Dutch ally by declaring the Scheldt open to the ships of all nations. Seas are free but rivers are the property of the countries through which they run. The Dutch possess both banks of the Scheldt at its mouth and for a considerable length further up. This establishes that the river is indubitably in Dutch possession and they have every right to control its navigation. It is a right that we are treaty-bound to the Netherlands to guarantee.
His Majesty, in two state papers, has assured the Neapolitan court that if the French King should fall and the murderers seek refuge here, effectual measures will be taken to bring them to justice. Now it appears the French King is to be executed, should we consider sending an ambassador to his murderers? If we did so we would placate one power and offend all the rest. Who could assure the ambassador of his safety? Our policy has long been alliance with the Dutch as an independent nation. If our ambassador was not received, the Dutch would be at the mercy of France, and as we will have offended all other powers there will be no-one to help us assist the Netherlands.
Francis spoke (illegible)
Barrister Erskine defended Fox. The proposition was merely to have a man on the spot. The question is: should we go to war because we are unwilling to take the steps that might prevent it? If war was begun, what would end it? Do we suppose that France needs a Constitution on British lines? War is a curse. We spend endless blood and treasure on it. The effect on our commerce, trade and revenue will be bad.
The Master of the Rolls said seditious people in England were in correspondence with France. The President of the French National Convention has received people from England with marks of esteem, people who denounce our style of government. The French assembly has passed a decree violating the rights of the Dutch. How can we send an ambassador to Paris in these circumstances? Even if recognition of the French Republic appeared superficially advantageous to England, the Master would resist it for it injures every other power and will eventually injure us.
Whitbread supported Fox. It was just a matter of seeing if war could be honourably avoided. The Dutch have protested and wish for negotiations. I censure the government for enlisting the militia and surrounding London with troops. The purported ministerial fear of disloyal mobs is a mere pretext. The danger to social order arises from the minister’s own Proclamations which have of themselves occasioned insurrections.
It was in 1791 that the mob called for ‘no King, no Constitution’; now Manchester and Birmingham are shouting for ‘King and Church’. Houses have been burned and property destroyed in the name of the Constitution not in the pursuit of sedition.
Windham said he was not opposed to negotiations but wished for a postponement until time had healed the wounds.
Charles Grant hoped England would never act in the contemptible way required by Fox’s motion before the House. France is hostile to all monarchies. We are a monarchy, ergo France is hostile to us. If she attacks our shipping would we send an ambassador to negotiate?
Sir William Young and Sir James Murray were against the motion.
Courteney was for the motion as was Sheridan.
The proposal to negotiate with France was then put and negatived without a division.
Sat 1st June 1793
Madrid, 17th December 1792 – the Spanish government has undertaken to observe a strict neutrality in the war in which France is defending herself in the Low Countries from Prussia and Austria. Spain expects the French Foreign Minister to return the same sentiments whereupon the Spanish force presently on the Pyrenean frontier will be withdrawn, retaining sufficient only for usual frontier duties.
Attached with this is an application to the French National Convention:
The declaration of neutrality that you demanded of us is attached. Spain is concerned for the health of the French King and his family. This is not a foreign matter to Spain. The French King is a relation and a friend of the Spanish King. He is being tried by men, several of whom are his enemies. He is accused of crimes which, even if true, do not annul royal inviolability. The King is oppressed by a long and rigorous captivity. He is oppressed by insults of men who seek to aggrandise themselves by trampling on fallen greatness. A revolution does not excuse men from showing respect when due. Although the French people have not been heard, a majority seem to support their King. If the enemies of Louis use violence on him, the promises of the French government will be shown to be unreliable, and the French government will be held accountable. It is the wish of the Spanish people and their King that Louis be treated with magnanimity.
The National Convention at Paris agreed these papers be referred to the diplomatic committee and a report given after the trial of the King.
Sat 1st June 1793
French National Assembly – continued deliberations:
Buzot said that Louis XVI should be executed and the sentence referred to the Primary Assemblies for their sanction. Faure said the Convention had no right to try Louis and he illustrated his view by reviewing European history back to Charlemagne.
Sat 1st June 1793
London – The Attorney General said the circulation in England of assignats and other French paper currency should be stopped. He thought any promissory notes issued by the French government could not be relied upon.
Burke said the circulation of this money in England was treasonable. The French faction in England was acting treasonably. He wanted a Bill of Control.
Sat 1st June 1793
The ministry wishes to augment the numbers of the army.
Fox said if the augmentation is solely to deal with internal disorder, he opposed it. He agreed the Commons was empowered to augment but ministers were proposing to spend the money of the people and had to make a good case.
He had heard that several high officers of merit had been dismissed from the service – Lord Edward FitzGerald and Lord Sempill were examples – for subscribing to a fund to support the French against the combined armies of Austria and Prussia. The subscription is legal and there are precedents:
- When Corsica was about to be consumed by France a couple of decades ago, there was a subscription in England in support of the Corsican people.
- Last summer there was another in support of the Poles against the oppression of Russia. The Polish subscription was commenced by the first municipal officer of England (Pitt) and was an honourable act although not very effectual.
France is currently in a state of neutrality towards us. The King’s recall of Gower (the ambassador) from Paris expressly noted it was not criminal for any individual to assist the French. If it is not criminal for an individual, it should not be criminal for an army officer. Doing their duty as soldiers does not diminish their civil rights. A soldier is not a mere military machine with none but military views. Any soldier who forgets that he is a citizen risks the loss of his honour.
He then referred to the similar case of Captain Gawler who was dismissed from the army for refusing to erase his name from the membership of a reform society. This will create political disputes in the army.
The Secretary at War replied that the right of the King to dismiss officers without reason was well established. The three named officers may be subjected to Courts Martial but they could be dismissed without a trial if His Majesty so wished.
Burke said Fox could not discriminate on the deployment of the army. If England has to war with a foreign power, it needs more troops. If they are used internally, that is a matter for the House to review at that time. He thought the actions of the three named officers had been unconstitutional. They had raised money to be used against Russia, an English ally. He had personally sympathised with the Poles but had not thought it right to subscribe to their relief. Capt Gawler belongs to the Society for Constitutional Information which had initially been a harmless organisation but had latterly opened correspondence with organisations in France with the express intention of altering the Constitution of England. Joel Barlow, John Adams and Citizen Frost had written these letters and they had been obliged to answer for it. He thought the government had acted reasonably.
Fox replied that Burke had subscribed to the fund for the Corsicans and he had not then thought it unconstitutional although now he did. He thought it hard for an officer to be discharged for not knowing the Constitution better than Burke did twenty years ago (the time of the Corsican subscription).
Concerning our alliance with Prussia, it is a defensive alliance. If the Prussian King is attacked we are bound to help him. It does not apply to Prussia’s offensive war with France and indeed Prussia has not asked for our assistance. And he insisted that all three men be given the benefit of courts martial.
The resolution to augment the land forces was then passed and an extra £579,174 was voted for guards and garrisons to control the people.
Sat 8th June 1793
The Aliens Bill is passing through the House of Lords:
Their lordships Guildford and Lansdowne thought that the alarm that had spread through the country was false and there was no risk of insurrection or treason. They thought the works of Tom Paine were not well-known. Guildford added that the passport required by the Bill (they would apply to all visitors including merchants) abrogated a term in our commercial treaty with France.
Lansdowne thought war with France was inevitable and he disagreed with ministers that the country was flourishing and well able to fight. He did not deprecate the efforts of commercial men but described the national wealth to which they alluded as resting on paper currency printed by country bankers which would be worthless the day war was declared.
He recalled that the dissent against the American war had commenced with two Lords but soon carried a majority of the whole House, sufficient to have the minister dismissed and the war ended. He did not despair of common-sense prevailing. The harsh cruelty on foreigners in this Bill is unparalleled. All émigrés had been penalised for the wild conduct of 19 others. For this small group we are passing new law and calling out the militias to preserve the Constitution.
He concluded France would be happy to negotiate with England. He read part of the Gazette Nationale wherein the Minister for Foreign Affairs declared no persons had been commissioned to cause trouble in England.
Lauderdale thought the Aliens Bill was intended to alarm the public and conceal the bad conduct of ministers. Without any proof of insurrection, ministers were pressing an unconstitutional Bill through parliament. If there are traitors amongst us why are they not named, arrested and punished? We need no new law to do so. If émigrés are returned to France they will be executed. This Bill is not about 16-17 supposed assassins, it is the opening shot in a war with France. Ministers are trying to divert attention from their gross mistakes – the armament against Russia and the discontent in Ireland and Scotland. He thought associations formed to oppose and question ministers were highly proper. They are reflections of true patriotism.
Carlisle thought the émigrés would thank politicians. They want the good separated from the bad. He supported the Bill.
Loughborough thought French principles had been printed and circulated free of charge throughout England, abetted by some people of rank (a reference to the Phalanx and the reform societies). These societies threaten order. The National Assembly publicly countenanced the intention of exporting revolution and French emissaries are here to take advantage of any development favourable to their cause.
This is not the first time we have been threatened like this. Philip II of Spain had similar designs on this country when he intended to restore the Catholic faith. Now the French wish to promote atheism.
Our Constitution is based on justice. When the French first altered their system of government and imprisoned their King, there was joy amongst a certain class of people who went to extraordinary lengths to celebrate. This was somewhat checked by the Prussian and Austrian forces on their approach to Paris. That class of people despaired and thought their plundering was at an end. But with French military success, that class assumed an attitude publicly hostile to this country and promised assistance to any insurrection here. Ministers had to intervene and a Proclamation was passed. Then patriotic associations were formed that opposed the revolutionary societies.
It is also argued that the Bill prevents the Duc d’Orleans from continuing in the enjoyment of his present benefits. This is the man who publicly declared that the first principle in the human mind should be insurrection against monarchy.
Lauderdale reminded Loughborough of the speech he had made to the Privy Council against Dr Benjamin Franklin.
Loughborough responded that Lauderdale was ‘Cato in a little senate of his own’ and time would show who was correct.
On the subject of passports Richmond noted that it had been the French who had first broken the commercial treaty by refusing to permit the entry of Englishmen without them.
Sat 15th June 1793
The British ministry says its Alien and Assignat Bills strike at the heart of French subversion, the former by depriving the hired assassin of his dagger, the latter by depriving him of his bribe.
Sat 15th June 1793
Madras – French Commissioners have arrived at Pondicherry from Paris. They bring a note from M Lebrun, the Foreign Minister, dated December 1792:
“The British ministry fears our military victories, it listens to the solicitations of base rebels (the émigré clergy and nobility in London) and hostile governments. It resents the congratulations that were sent to us from people all over England. It determined to assemble parliament and adopt military preparations. The King’s speech says hostile measures are necessary against his own people but these measures are really intended against France.
“The French Government can justify itself to the satisfaction of every man. Our agents in England are circumspect and loyal. They are not stirring up insurrection. Members of the British ministry have visited them and granted them conferences. I have details of all the questions and answers on both sides.
“The British rearmament is limited. The King says there will be no new taxes and instead they will use money formerly earmarked for reduction of the National Debt. This is sufficient to allow Britain to build four new warships. England has 16 ships-of-the-line of which at least ten are required for coastal defence. It follows that there are only three pretexts for British rearmament – opening of the Scheldt, the National Convention’s decree of 19th November (proposing to export revolution) and the apparent British intention of occupying the Netherlands.
“The Scheldt was opened on grounds of justice and liberty. Its use cannot be refused to the Belgians. The treaties closing this river were extorted by greed. When the opening of this river was previously raised by the Emperor Joseph II (of Austria) in 1785, it was greeted by silence in England.
“The 19th November decree is applicable in two cases – those countries with whom we are at war and those which are strictly neutral. In this second case it is not the intention of France to adopt the cause of a few individuals as the cause of our nation. When people living under despotism break their chains and constitute themselves to express the general will and that general will is to request the help of France, it is to such countries that the decree is directed. It was under this decree that we supported Belgium, a nation newly made free. It was support that the Belgians might expect as we ourselves would expect it from a friend. The British oppose us because of their commercial links with Holland, in which Republican government they have interfered and sought to subjugate.
“I have instructed our minister at St James to interview Lord Grenville and tell him of our respect for the independence of foreign powers. If the British are determined to war after we have explained the purity of our views, we must make a further appeal to the British people and have the matter determined by a legal tribunal, to avoid consequences that the British ministry has not foreseen. I await the result of this interview.”
On hearing Lebrun’s address, Kersaint of the Pondicherry assembly immediately moved that equipment for a certain number of ships-of-war be voted for the defence of French colonies. Agreed.
Sat 15th June 1793
The Pope has humbled himself. He has acknowledged the French Republic and agreed to neutrality. Tuscany has done the same and Italy and Naples are expected to follow. Indeed, the French Gazette of 10th January says a French fleet of 10 warships appeared before Naples and obliged the King of the Two Sicilies (a Bourbon) to sign a deed of neutrality. He is also requested to recall his ambassador from Constantinople for attempting to prevent the Porte from receiving the new French ambassador, Citizen Simonwell. The former ambassador, the aristocrat de Choiseul, has fled.
French shipping at Constantinople held a celebration of their victories with fireworks and an English-style entertainment of 180 covers. Equality prevailed – the ladies danced with the common sailors, who were in their usual working clothes.
Sat 15th June 1793
England is enjoying uninterrupted commercial prosperity and Pitt remains hugely popular. He has made a reduction in the National Debt.
The urge for reform has greatly subsided in England. It may be due to the publication of the King’s Proclamation of 21st May 1792 or to a better popular assessment of the benefits we currently enjoy.
A large fleet has been assembled in British seaports manned not by impressment but by the bounty of £7 per man which is attracting many sailors. The army is on a war footing and recruiting parties have been sent throughout the Kingdom.
Sat 15th June 1793
The French national assembly has executed King Louis. Rome and Venice have called them the enemies of the human race. Louis was condemned on 20th January 1793 and publicly executed the following day. The King tried to address the crowd but the Jacobins feared the effect of his words and prevented it.
On 1st February the National Convention declared war on Holland and England. Over two hundred English merchantmen in French harbours were immediately captured. Spain and Portugal declared war on France at the same time. War with France seems very popular in England.
The National Convention sent an ambassador to Rome and he had an audience with the Pope. Then accounts of the execution of the King arrived and the French ambassador and his entire suite were killed. At about the same time many Frenchmen in Venice were also murdered.
Fox has sustained much odium for defending French principles.
Sat 15th June 1793
Jenkinson has spoken in the Commons about war:
The other side of the house (the handful of liberal Whigs under Fox) deplores war – in 1787 they were all for it. At that time our national wealth was small compared with France. Now our resources are great and flourishing whilst those of France have shrunk. France has spent £19 millions in three months. If we had warred in 1787, Spain would have joined France against us; if we war now, Spain will be our ally. This is the appropriate time for a war with France.
There is a disaffected party in England that has connected itself with France. If there is a war those few people would become traitors. While we remain at peace they can carry out their treason in secret and with impunity.
The ambition of France is increasing daily. The King of Sardinia has done nothing against France yet France has annexed Savoy saying the King was intending to do something bad to France. It was a pretext and there was nothing more to it.
In Geneva they proposed that the Swiss troops be removed and the magistrate punished. It has never before occurred that the victor in a war might require the punishment of the defeated. It was an interference in the internal affairs of Geneva that is contrary to the Law of Nations. General Montesquieu agreed a treaty with the Genevans that was disgraceful to the latter yet it was condemned and immediately broken by France.
The French took Frankfurt, ostensibly because the people of Mayence published a newspaper critical of France and because Frankfurt bankers had cashed émigrés’ Bills. This was after three years of incessant libel from France on all the properly constituted governments of her neighbours.
The French decree opening the Scheldt to trade is a direct breach of the rights of neutral nations. That river is the property of the Dutch as much as the Thames is the property of England. The river is not only naturally in the possession of the Dutch but it has been confirmed by treaties. If France forces the river open, we are treaty-bound to fight her.
We recalled Gower from Paris after he made many melancholic observations on the French King and Royal Family.
Lord Grenville wrote to the French National Assembly to say that if the King falls, his murderers will receive no protection in this country. If any come here they will be delivered to justice. Is this the time to recognise the French Republic when its officers’ hands reek of Royal blood? To send any representative to France just now would be disgraceful. They have prevented our negotiating with them by their own monstrous act. Prussia and Austria would be appalled if we opened communications with France.
There is nothing to be gained by war but good conscience requires we fight. In France there are two contending parties and whichever is most powerful for a day constitutes the executive government.
If we say Holland does not provide grounds for a quarrel, the Prussians will neglect their treaty obligations to protect Holland. Without Prussia how can the Dutch defend themselves? Those people in this country who are against war believe we should fight only for some fundamental interest. What about national honour?
Jenkinson called on Windham particularly to use his abilities in support of the Constitution.
Sat 29th June 1793
A letter from Bilbao of 15th Dec 1792 mentions French Jacobins have been arrested trying to import knives into Spain.
A French ship arrived in port and was unloading crates of scythes when one was dropped and broke open disclosing the contents as sword blades. The authorities then opened the remainder finding sabres, poignards and the like. The captain was arrested, followed shortly thereafter by the merchant to whom the cargo was consigned. All the goods were seized.
Some days earlier a French hairdresser was arrested for distributing revolutionary pamphlets. Two other hairdressers have just been taken to Madrid for enquiries into similar offences.
Sat 29th June 1793
The French legislature has amended the objectionable clause in the Declaration of 19th November 1792:
Baraillon noted the decree of 19th November has procured France many enemies. England protested and a minister was sent to London to construe the decree more reasonably.
I move that after the words ‘The National Convention declares, in name of the French nation, that it will grant fraternity and assistance to all people,’ may be added the clause ‘against all tyrants with whom they may be at war.’
The proposal was carried.
Sat 29th June 1793
French news – The legislator Brissot publishes the Patriote Francais newspaper. He proposes an amendment to the Agrarian Law. He says farmers should not be able to bequeath their fields to their descendants. On death, ownership of the land should revert to the state and be given to young men chosen by the representatives of each district.
The proposal is founded on Paine’s assertion that a man’s rights are extinguished by death.
In England we have the liberty of bequeathing our property under laws that apply equally to the peer and the commoner.
Sat 29th June 1793
Three democrats have ascendancy with the Parisian mob:
- One is Petion. When he sought to be elected Mayor of Paris he diligently studied English judicial procedure in London for a whole session. He seems to hold a personal rancour against the French Royal Family particularly the Queen. He was formerly an Attorney General and is familiar with the tricks of the law.
- Another is Marat. He is an unprincipled and desperate revolutionary. Some years ago he lived in Oxford and taught French to a dozen under-graduates. He imbibed all sorts of notions of freedom and independence. His power derives from his newspaper, which is influential with the sans culottes. Almost all the recent enormities in France may be ascribed to him but the Convention fears him because of his popular support.
- The last is Robespierre who was formerly a butcher. This may account for his ease in executing so many people. He has an animated eloquence with furious gesticulations which is popular with the mob. He has been active at all scenes of disorder and has a better command over the rabble than General Dumouriez has over his troops.
Sat 6th July 1793
General Marasse, the French commander at Antwerp, has written to several London commercial houses saying the Scheldt is now open and safe for navigation. He invites them to freight ships there.
Sat 6th July 1793
Letter of the British Consul at Geneva (presently in London) to the Genevan government:
England takes a sincere interest in the happiness of Geneva and all Switzerland. My King wishes to maintain your sovereignty, peace and liberty. It is intimately connected with the tranquillity of Switzerland and particularly the Canton of Berne.
He approves the measures you have taken in concert with your allies in Zurich and Berne. They support Helvetian neutrality. I hope to visit you soon and renew assurances of goodwill and fellowship. Robert FitzGerald.
Sat 6th July 1793
M Lebrun has told the National Assembly that Chauvelin, the French minister at St James, was not recalled when Gower was recalled. That is incorrect. Chauvelin was recalled but was permitted to stay-on at his own request to propagate the new French Gospel.
Sat 13th July 1793
In the vote on sentencing Louis XVI, the Duc d’Orleans (now M Égalité) said “I only consult my duty. The law says that every conspirator should be punished with death. I now vote for death.” The session lasted 36 hours. The vote was 366 for, 361 against.
French law normally requires a majority of two thirds but during the preliminaries to the trial, the Convention agreed that a simple majority of votes would suffice. The King’s three counsel all supported the existing law of two thirds and protested the enactment of new law designed solely to take the King’s life. The King requested a delay of three days to compose himself, the assistance of a named priest and a visit from his family. The last two points were allowed.
The following day the decree of the convention was read to him – ‘condemned to death for having conspired against the nation and having betrayed it’. Then the King rode in a carriage to the scaffold, accompanied by Rev Edgeworth, an English Catholic priest. The procession included an escort of 1,200 men. Cannon preceded and followed the King’s cart and were also placed at every street junction along the route. The King arrived after the two hours journey and went up to the scaffold with steadiness. His hands were tied behind his back, his hair tucked up and his shirt turned over his shoulders exposing his neck. He came to the edge of the scaffold and asked for silence but Sancerre, commanding the guard, said ‘do not let him speak, execute the sentence’.
The drum roll commenced and the King was thrown down on the block. His feet were tied. As his head was put on the block, he cried out ‘I forgive my enemies and die innocent.’ The guillotine worked poorly. It descended slowly and only partially decapitated Louis. The executioner completed the job by hand. The head was then displayed around the scaffold before being thrown to the people. The body was put in a basket and carried in the executioner’s wagon to the Church of St Magdalen where it was dropped in a pit filled with new lime.
Robespierre had earlier proposed to the legislature that the body be cut into 84 pieces so a bit could be sent to each Department but it was vetoed.
Sat 13th July 1793
War was declared on Great Britain and Holland by France on 2nd February 1793.
17th July 1793 Extraordinary
The States General have circulated a letter to Dutch provinces dated February:
Dutch consuls in French and Flemish ports report that France has declared war on England and Netherlands. The French say the Stadtholder is an enemy of France, has liberated the forgers of assignats, has opened a loan, is arming for war and is obstructing trade with France.
They will not attack the Stadtholder’s possessions in Germany but will focus on the Dutch Republic.
Bombay Courier Editor – the Stadtholder is not a sovereign. Sovereignty in Netherlands resides with the individual states whom the Stadtholder represents. French ignorance of Dutch administration is appalling.
The Dutch circular letter refutes all French reasons for war and avers that the United Provinces have behaved correctly whilst France has acted outrageously. It urges the Dutch States to put their faith in God and defend themselves and their civil rights. The letter concludes:
‘ ….. it is not long since the United Provinces bound themselves to support the Stadtholder, the Captain General and Admiral General as an essential part of the Dutch Constitution. The States have guaranteed this support to each other. Now they must perform unreservedly.’
From Amsterdam we hear it has been agreed that all disputes between the Patriotic Party and the Stadtholder are in abeyance until war is concluded.
17th July 1793 Extraordinary
The legislator Chabot, on behalf of the Committee of Public Safety, has told the National Convention that a British naval Lieutenant named Henry Blackwood was arrested on 22nd December 1792 for transmitting money to émigrés resident in Dutch lands. His papers supported the suspicion but, in order to show the World that France is pacific, he is to be released and allowed to travel wherever he likes. Blackwood is deemed to have been misled by enemies of the revolution.
17th July 1793 Extraordinary
On 23rd February a large group of female citizens of Paris petitioned against ‘monopolising merchants’ who engross every commodity and extort from the people. They request an audit of the retail accounts of minister Rolland. They want an investigation into the activities of Brissot and Vergnioud and other Convention members.
All the mercantile Jacobins united to resist receipt of this petition, describing it as a wicked attack on property. Dubois de Crance, President of the Convention, said he was indignant at the petition.
Editor – The friends of equality appear to have become monopolists and the gallery hissed them.
17th July 1793 Extraordinary
On 24th February most Parisian bakers were closed having no bread for sale. This is notwithstanding that the Caisse d’Escompte has just lent Paris 2 million livres as half the supplementary contribution voted. All the public officers in the departments are farmers or corn merchants or landowners. There should be no doubt that monopolists are in control of the French economy.
17th July 1793 Extraordinary
Letter from Louis XVI’s brother to the French émigré community:
The King has been sacrificed by the tyrants. I have named myself Regent of the Kingdom, during the minority of my nephew Louis XVII, and entrusted Comte d’Artois with the army. I share your attachment to the religion of France.
We must avenge the King and place his son on the throne, restore our ancient Constitution and re-establish happiness and glory. The Prince of Condé and Marechal Broglie will attend you as my representatives.
Sat 20th July 1793
Lord St Helens is appointed minister to Madrid and will go there in the frigate HMS Assistance. He is accompanied by General O’Hara who is expected to assume command of Gibraltar. A treaty of commerce and alliance with Spain is nearing completion.
Russia has acceded to all British conditions for a similar treaty.
Sat 20th July 1793
The House of Lords debated war with France. Grenville made the ministerial case:
He said England is not the aggressor in this war. He based himself on his correspondence with M Chauvelin. He said the tenor of the letters and the obvious construction to be placed on them indicated a war was coming. The letter of November last was so insolent it could not have been presented had the French executive not intended to fight, he averred.
A second proof of our pacific intentions was provided by General Dumouriez, when commanding French forces in the Netherlands, to Lord Auckland whilst at the Hague. Concurrent with the National Convention’s stimulation of seditious clubs in England, Dumouriez proposed to Auckland that they promote the happiness of the people of their respective countries.
The third proof was the French executive government’s appeal to the people of England to throw-off their government. The man selected to make this appeal was Brissot, an avowed Republican and President of the Convention that illegally killed the French King, a man who has been convicted in this country of sedition against both government and King. The framers of this appeal sought to sow dissension in England in a forlorn attempt to overcome the spirit and sense of Englishmen. It is more likely to unite our people than divide them.
Some have said that the recall of Gower after 10th August and the 2nd September massacres might be considered provocative of our decision to war but Portugal and Denmark withdrew their ambassadors several years ago and have continued to co-exist with France.
Grenville did not assert a right to interfere in French affairs although France had been flagitious and detestable. He would not fight on that ground alone, but when:
- the tranquillity of neighbouring states was illegally threatened;
- the interests of England and her independent existence threatened (their Lordships had heard of the President of the Convention boasting of the propagation of principles of equality in England);
- of corresponding with obscure and licentious societies here;
- When they hear that some of those English clubs have written to the French Convention accusing His Britannic Majesty’s ministers of audacity, calumniating both HM and the two Houses of Parliament, and hoping for a speedy establishment of a Republic in these islands
– then it is time to fight.
There is also the report of the General Committee of Defence and Safety to the French National Convention. This accuses George III of hostile intentions to France and of adhering to a Coalition of Kings.
The King answers – ‘untrue’. He has observed the strictest neutrality. The King has not recognised the National Convention as legitimate because its authority derives from neither the people nor the King.
The general mourning ordered in England for the late French King was not aggression.
We refused to supply grain to France because she was hostile to us. Their complaints about assignats and the Aliens Bill are equally spurious.
Stanhope, for the liberals, said Grenville had omitted many circumstances that did not support his argument. He then adduced examples tending to show aggression on the part of British ministers. Every friend of England should resist war – it is still possible to negotiate a secure and honourable conclusion.
He said France was far from a bankrupt nation. He thought she was perhaps the richest country in the world. France not only had a large annual revenue but she had taken possession of all church land as public property and had acquired the forfeited lands of 29,000 émigrés. Those lands were worth £170 millions and after paying all expenses of the Revolution so far there was still a residual value of £150 millions.
Finally, the 2nd article of the British 1786 commercial treaty with France reveals that it was British ministers who first acted aggressively towards France (by ordering the French ambassador be expelled). Stanhope concluded with a petition that HM would explain the objects of war.
Portland supported Grenville.
Morton also supported the King’s ministers, arguing that no breach of the commercial treaty was occasioned by ordering Chauvelin out of England, as Stanhope had said, because the ambassador’s functions had ceased with the death of his King.
Lauderdale said the war was the project of ministers alone and was unjust, imprudent and impolitic. A negotiation would have adjusted all differences. They refused to treat with Chauvelin and were aggressive to those to whom we had pledged our strict neutrality.
Stormont contrarily said it was a war of self-defence. He had examined the finances of France and concluded the country was on the brink of famine. He recalled a recent proposal of the National Convention that the French should live for two days each week on a diet of rice and cats / dogs. He hoped the poison of French principles would never infect England.
Hawkesbury sided with Grenville.
Lansdowne saw war as a frolic of Grenville’s and, whatever support he might get in England, the colonies would all be opposed to it.
Kinnoul replied to Lansdowne on behalf of the colonies. He said all Scotland supported England.
Walsingham applauded Kinnoul.
Leeds urged the propriety of war and opined it had been insidiously started by France.
Grenville’s proposal to fight was then carried.
Sat 20th July 1793
Chancellor Pitt made the case for war in the House of Commons debate:
He recognised there were different opinions but thought the great majority of both the House and the people supported war. He thought there were doubts but a division on this subject has not yet been required. We should show unity. War has been declared. Now is the time for loyalty to the King in recognition of the benefits we obtain under the Constitution.
When the King’s message informed the House of the preparations for hostilities being made by France, and the aggressions already perpetrated, the House had thought its strict neutrality deserved a French response of non-interference in our internal affairs and an abandonment of French aggrandisement. France had not responded in that way.
The Decree of Fraternity of 19th November was a Proclamation for insurrection in every European country and its intention was to increase the French Empire by involving all Europe in civil wars, ending good government, and leaving us all ripe for occupation. If we value our commerce and want an increase of national revenue to alleviate public burdens, French principles must be resisted.
He noted HM declined to accredit Chauvelin as French ambassador whilst at the same time permitting discussions between him and ministers in the expectation of receiving explanations for French conduct. No explanation was forthcoming.
Hugues-Bernard Maret, a lawyer, came to Britain as charge d’affaires. He never contacted HM ministers. Then we heard of an embargo on British nationals and shipping, which seemed like a hostile act and is certainly contrary to both treaty obligations and the Law of Nations. On the day that outrage occurred, we received a letter from Auckland at the Hague noting Dumouriez had requested an interview on the Dutch frontier to negotiate in preference to war. We authorised Auckland to negotiate but before our answer could have reached him, Paris declared war.
This war was not provoked by us – we are forced to it for self-preservation.
The French Declaration asserts George III opposes the French nation. It says he is attached to a coalition of monarchs. Not one fact was adduced in support of the assertions except the recall of Gower. The National Convention supposes that a treaty was made between England, Austria and Prussia in January 1793. This is untrue.
The second ground for war is our refusal to accredit a French minister to our Court at St James. After the massacres of August and September, this is hardly surprising. After Gower was withdrawn, the National Convention said nothing until its Declaration of War. Our withdrawal of the ambassador and reluctance to recognise the Republic flowed from the riots and injuries in Paris.
The French also complain of our ignoring Chauvelin. He had no status in this country until December when he offered new credentials but that was concurrent with new aggression and the preparations to execute the French King.
The other French grounds for war are our ban on grain shipments to France, the prohibition on circulation of assignats here and the Aliens Bill. These acts were not provocative of war but in defence of peace. We stopped selling grain to France when we saw her preparing to fight against us. She proposed to use our grain to feed her invasion force. Note the dates – on 19th November the Assembly, in its Decree of Fraternity, declared war on all monarchies; that same month they opened the Scheldt; that same month they annexed Savoy; that same month, on a specious plea of extending liberty, they imposed their yoke on the Netherlands by assembling troops near Holland. In December we stopped selling corn to France.
HM Ministers have acted with prudence. They refused payment in assignats because they are worthless – assignats were simply a gigantic system of French national fraud on her people and neighbours.
France asserts that breach of the commercial treaty with us is a ground for war although that treaty expressly states that a breach will not be deemed a cause for war. They complain our Aliens Bill which requires French nationals landing here to hold passports although French officials required passports of Englishmen in France with greater rigour. The Aliens Bill was a cautionary Act to prevent an influx of foreigners who might have included assassins and Frenchmen who propagated French principles of government and tried to create a schism between our people and my government.
France also complains our rearmament. That was approved after the opening of the Scheldt and the other concurrent causes in November (above).
The war that is now commencing is a war of principle. Britain’s form of government has created an envious prosperity in these islands. For France to win this war, we must lose everything. Unless the British nation is extirpated, we will never permit France to triumph.
Powis seconded the motion. Our peace and prosperity is threatened.
Fox made the case for continued negotiations:
He said if France is a monster against everyone then France must be extirpated but the Chancellor has stated specific aggressions were the cause of war with the object of obtaining the future security of England. When we fight on particular grounds, we can ultimately expect peace, but if France is a monster there can be no peace until she is extirpated.
He hoped we would not emulate our policy in the American War and require unconditional submission because such a war could not be concluded.
If limited monarchy is considered the keystone of our constitution and liberties, so is a strict watch over the conduct of ministers. The present motion contains an approbation of ministers for their conduct. If it did not, those who thought the war had been provoked by ministers might not have united behind the government. I cannot agree that there has been no aggression on our part. All I can do in these circumstances is to propose another motion.
He then reviewed the state of the nation and concluded there were only three reasons for war – to maintain our national honour, to maintain our national faith and to preserve us from danger.
The opening of the Scheldt, the territorial growth of France and the decree of fraternity were, none of them, grounds for war. The refusal to explain themselves or offer satisfaction when demanded were good grounds but as yet no demands have been made of France in a way that might procure satisfactory answers.
Fox continued ‘The French declaration of war on us is absurd. Pitt said so. Declarations of war commonly are – they contain every grievance that the drafters can think of, like the last Spanish declaration against England.’
We might have left our ambassador in Paris without recognising him had we chosen to do so. We tacitly recognised the Republic when we continued to enforce the commercial treaty. But recognition does not imply sanction or approval. Our dismissal of Chauvelin was not grounds for war but it was clear evidence of our ill-will. The prohibition on the circulation of assignats was preposterous grounds for war – England was well within her rights in prohibiting it. But the prohibition on export of corn to France was a hostile act. The question is whether it was justifiable or not. It is in breach of all existing treaties. If the export prohibition was justifiable, the declaration of war must be too. The Aliens Bill infringed the terms of the commercial treaty but the ending of the treaty would not be sufficient grounds for war. England has a right to send ships to the Scheldt to protect our allies. We should not meddle in the acts of France in Belgium as that would be an aggressive act. Our continual mention of the murder of the King in every debate is not an indication that we intend to preserve the peace.
Pitt has told us for the first time today of a meeting between Auckland and Dumouriez. Was it intended to compromise the blood of Louis for an evacuation of the Netherlands? We constantly talk of regicide – what was the intention behind that proposed meeting?
Pitt says he wanted to send another ambassador who might have prevented the regicide but he was overruled in cabinet.
Covert negotiations do not promote peace. Agreeing to Dumouriez’s proposal seems to have been intended to avoid war. If that is correct, Fox thanked ministers but their other measures appeared unlikely to achieve the object. They had stated the national grievances and sent away an unofficial minister thus closing the avenue of communication …. and yet they say they only want peace.
Some are calling this a War of Kings. They say Kings will not war for limited monarchy but for unlimited monarchy, such as is enjoyed by the rulers of Spain, Russia, Prussia and Austria. This cause could not attract the King of England – unlimited monarchy is not something he seeks. Through his long reign he knows the superiority of his strength as a limited monarch. Virtue and justice are the characteristics of George III. When I speak of Kings I speak of autocratic men with evil counsellors. My political position is to support the inculcation of interest in property by everyone, both those who want it and those who have it.
On the present facts I can see no grounds for war. What I see is ministers acting on the same principles that motivated them in the American War – to crush resistance and liberty.
Ministers have listed their grievances. They make no demands or apologies. They commenced Auckland’s secret negotiations, and when France was almost ready to concede everything, they excited a general alarm in the country with the Aliens Bill and a fear of interference by France that was never intended, and, having thus raised the temperature, they declared war.
Now we are at war we still do not know what is required to restore peace. We are fighting for an unidentified object. It seems very likely that our real purpose is to re-install a kingly government in France.
(the article continues in a supplement, of which no copy is available)
Sat 3rd August 1793
General Dumouriez has issued directions for the formation of Primary Assemblies throughout Belgium. One man will represent two hundred houses. Illiterate citizens will declare their choice to one of two secretaries at each Assembly who will be selected by acclamation. There will be three scrutineers selected by ballot. Matters will be decided by simple majority. Each Primary Assembly in Belgium will appoint two representatives to elect members of Provincial Assemblies and the National Assembly.
Sat 3rd August 1793
The French National Assembly has debated reports of recent discussions in the House of Commons, 26th January:
Fox proposed to the Commons that England send an embassy to Paris to influence the government. Many speakers saw it as an affront to their dignity. The ministerial reproaches of Sheffield and Windham should be treated with contempt.
The French legislators concluded that only Reason, Justice and the Welfare of the People were their guides.
Sat 3rd August 1793
Editorial – the cant of fraternity, equality and the rest is as nauseating today as the cant of the Puritans was in the last century.
People declaim against the cost of Royalty but has anyone calculated the costs of the King’s absence in France – free gifts extorted to ten times the former tax, ruin of commerce and credit, annihilation of colonies, exodus of one million citizens (the émigrés and their families and the clergy), total loss of security of the person and property. Only when an assessment has been made can we know the true cost of French Liberty.
Sat 3rd August 1793
In the final years of the Sun King, the wily Dauphiness explained why Queens rule better than Kings – “it is because under Kings, the women govern, whilst under Queens, the men do.”
Sat 10th August 1793
Citizen Dupont spoke to the National Convention on 12th December. We have overthrown the God of Kings. We must erect the Gods of men – nature and reason. Admire nature and cultivate reason to achieve the greatest happiness of the French people. Teach this in the schools instead of fanatical principles.
Paris has repudiated the commerce in luxury that provided the splendour of our Courts and has invited foreigners who are disciples of our new philosophy to come here. These strangers, on their return to their own countries, will spread the new doctrine of the happiness of the people.
Sat 10th August 1793
Editor – there is a ministerial joke circulating in Westminster describing the supposed French political arrangements for the English people once we have been conquered – Sheridan is appointed overseer of morals; Francis supervises our humanity; Fox disposes of our wealth and Grey secures our freedom.
Sat 10th August 1793
The Pope has alluded to the possibility of the French coming to Rome to sack the churches. He says it will be like Attila in the 5th century. The Pope said he is too old to lead the troops and the people must make their own arrangements.
Prince Borghese and members of other prominent Roman families vowed to defend their country. They say a good army in the marshes that border the road from Civita Vecchia to Rome would embarrass an enemy, but it is feared a Papal army will ultimately be ineffective.
Sat 10th August 1793
Marriage (in Tournay, Flanders) – Lord Edward FitzGerald to Pamela, daughter of the Duc d’Orleans.
Sat 10th August 1793
The Genoan ship Il Netuno (Corvetto) sailed from Madras 16th July for Bengal. She arrived in India from Ostend where the French General Dumouriez required the mayor to grant an order requiring Captain Corvetto to pay all arrears due to those crew members who might be persuaded to join the French.
As a result, 10 Bengalis and 6 Chinese from his crew were allured into French service. They were enrolled in the cavalry and given the uniforms and arms of light dragoons. Several later returned on board, deploring the conditions which they said were unparalleled, even in their home countries.
The same source tells us a relief guard sent to Ostend to replace the existing guard had to return to Dumouriez’s camp as the incumbents, claiming liberty and equality, declined to give-up their comfortable duty.
Sat 10th August 1793
The Archduke Francis has been crowned King of Hungary and Bohemia, etc. He is 25 years old. He was educated at Florence in the court of his father Leopold, then Duke of Tuscany. He was then sent to Vienna at the request of his uncle Emperor Joseph II for detailed instruction in the true interests of the Austrian monarchy. He is being groomed as heir to the Empire.
In 1788 he married Princess Elizabeth of Wurtemburg who died two years later whereupon he married Princess Theresa, daughter of the King of the Two Sicilies. Francis is fond of war and intolerant of his father’s prudence. He is wary of minister Kaunitz.
Sat 17th Aug 1793
At a meeting of the Whig Club at the London Tavern a letter was read from numerous well-known members resigning their Club membership:
To Mr Hall, Secretary:
If the resolution of 20th February had merely expressed respect for C J Fox we would concur but it requires assent to his propositions which we deny. The meeting was called to consider a letter from Fox to his constituents. We do not approve Fox’s conduct in the present session of parliament. Our dissent touches the present interests and safety of this country. We think his proposals are detrimental to England. They increase the danger to the independence of Europe. Your proceedings do not allow us to continue in the membership.
Sgd Lords Buckinghamshire, Downe, Inchiquin, Middleton, Sheffield, Watts Hotton & M/s T Shenstone Adey, M F Ainslie, John Anstruther, Wilson Braddyll, Burke, Richard Burke Jr., Felix Calvert, Alex Champion, Robert Clayton, James Dawkins, Gilbert Elliot, William Elliot, William Evelyn, John Frederick, Andrew French, C J Harford, Abraham Hume, Alex Hume, Henry Jodrell, Robert Ladbroke, Charles Joseph Leach, J St Leger, John Fleming Leicester, Edward Lewis, J Lewis, Thomas Littler, Alderman Nathaniel Newnham, George Shee, Thomas Tyrwhitt, Wm Windham, Glynn Wynn Jr. and Thomas Edward Wynn.
The Duke of Norfolk moved that the resolution of 20th February be printed in all the newspapers. Agreed.
Sat 17th Aug 1793
The French Republican armies are retreating on all fronts and the political leadership at Paris has retired into domestic contemplation.
On 4th April an armistice was announced between the commander of the Austrian / Prussian army, Prince of Saxe-Cobourg, and the French commander Dumouriez, the latter having agreed to evacuate from the Austrian Netherlands and Dutch Brabant. He left on 3rd April for Paris.
The King of Prussia has crossed the Rhine at Buchera, defeated a French force, captured General Newinger, 50 officers and 200 soldiers, seized 15 cannon and obtained the military chest. He is now blockading Mayence.
The French have evacuated Worms and Oppenheim and retreated towards Laudan. A letter from Ypres says the 21,000 retreating French were in a pitiable state – few clothes, no food and few officers (they are commanded by a Colonel). As soon as they left the Tree of Liberty was cut down and burnt.
Admiral McBride says General Dumouriez had agreed to march on Paris and restore the Bourbon monarchy but his officers did not support him. For his own safety (he had been shot at three times by his own men) he surrendered to the Austrians with a regiment of cavalry.
A corps of émigrés numbering 800 – 1,200 men is to be raised in England under the command of Duc de Harcourt. It will serve with the British army in the Pay Bas under the ultimate control of the Duke of York.
The Spanish are raising armies totalling 120,000 men. The plan is for the fleets of Spain, Netherlands and England to secure the French coast while the land forces descend on Paris from the North. Once the French garrisons on the old frontier fall, it is expected that Austria will take French Flanders, Alsace and Lorraine and Prussia will take some other part of France in compensation.
Sat 17th Aug 1793
Lord Auckland has reported to the allied Plenipotentiaries, 18th March 1793:
“I mentioned about a fortnight ago to your Registrar Mr Fagel that I expected the danger to which this state (the Netherlands) was exposed would be of short duration and end successfully. The French invasion of the Dutch Republic was cruel and violent and the extent of destruction is appalling. I told you then that England would send land and sea forces and they have already partly arrived.
“The circumstances requiring an armed force have been ended. I feel joy at the heroism manifested at Maastricht, Klundert and Willemstadt; the activity of the Admiralty on the River Maes; the aversion of the people to the principles that the enemy has sought to disseminate; their strong attachment to their Constitution, and the prudent zeal of your commanders in protecting the Netherlands.
“I am concerned for commerce. An embargo was laid on all the shipping in the ports of the Dutch Republic some weeks ago. I was convinced of the expedience of this measure at the time and resisted the importunities of British merchants, however I should be obliged if you would now consider removing it. The merchants have sustained great losses and damage. They have given their sailors for our gunboats in order to quickly restore tranquillity. In this way, they have indicated their preference for the universal good over their private concerns.
“Are there narrow-minded people of corrupt principles, deluded by their passions, who hesitate in fear of danger or personal sacrifice when the main point is the successful prosecution of the war? It was started to gratify the boundless ambition of some individuals to avoid punishment for the crimes they had committed and make their Revolution acceptable to the people of all Europe.”
The allied Plenipotentiaries’ reply:
“God has delivered Maastricht and Venlo by the arms of Prussia and Austria. The bravery of our troops has forced the enemy from Willemstadt after a bombardment of three weeks. Steenbergen and Heusden have valiantly resisted. The union of British troops with those of the state has stopped the enemy.
“We are grateful to the Duke of York and the Prince Hereditary Stadtholder.
“However the enemy is still in possession of two cities and enabled to excite uneasiness in this province. We ask you to maintain your forces here until the enemy has completely withdrawn within its own frontiers. We assure you of our willingness to combat the enemy.
“We regret the necessity of maintaining the embargo and will remove it as soon as circumstances allow which we hope to be very soon.”
Sat 17th Aug 1793
10th March – the National Convention has ordered the arrest of Dumouriez. Minister of War Bournonville and four members of the Convention have set out for the northern army to repair its morale and arrest any other traitors. M/s Caines, Quinette, La Marque and Baniac are the legislators.
Arrest orders have also been issued against the supporters of Dumouriez – Mdm Sillery, Lady FitzGerald, Valence, the sons of Égalité Montgorge and Miss Égalité.
The people of Lille, Valenciennes and Douai have proclaimed the son of Louis XVI as King. Before Dumouriez left that place he put the white cockade (sign of submission to the Bourbons) in his hat and all the army followed his example.
Sat 17th Aug 1793
2nd April – The Austrian General Clairfait at Tournay has written to Count Staremberg at the Hague. Dumouriez has sent him several prisoners, four of whom are the National Convention members sent to arrest Dumouriez and the fifth is General Bournonville, the French Minister for War.
Clairfait has sent them on to Prince Saxe-Cobourg.
Dumouriez told Clairfait he was moving on Paris with the trusted part of his army to restore the Bourbons and secure a permanent peace.
Dumouriez asked his men to declare themselves. The troops of the line supported him but the National Volunteers did not. He then marched to Lille. He has engaged to deliver the principal frontier cities of Lille, Mauberge, Valenciennes, Conde and Givet etc., to the Austrian army thus opening the road to Paris to the allied army.
5th April – the prisoners (the French Minister for War and the four legislators of the National Convention) passed Brussels today under escort and a great crowd assembled to ridicule and insult them. ‘There go the assassins of the King,’ some cried. One of the Commissioners is La Marque who voted for the execution of King Louis. So did one other. The crowd was angry and the escort had difficulty protecting its charges.
Dumouriez wrote two letters from Tournay to the National Convention on 28th March. He says his army is disorderly; there are six days provisions left in the country; He needs soldiers not volunteer rabble. He says the 50 commissioners sent to him all oppose and thwart him and talk nonsense. Unless he has brave troops he cannot prevent the enemy from taking any place they want and ultimately descending on Paris – they only need 20,000 cavalry, he says. He does not have the resources afforded by the plains of Champagne. Patriotism was enough for a while but he needs money. “The enemy is at the gate and I have nothing with which to oppose them but unarmed, unclothed, unfed men.”
He commends the National Convention to agree peace and the restoration of a limited monarchy under a Constitution. He says the enemy have placed the émigrés in the rear of their armies, they treat prisoners and wounded kindly although they know our men have massacred theirs. Our country cannot be directed by faction and violence.
He ends with a remarkable maxim ‘Republics are founded by virtue alone. They are supported only by courage, order and wisdom.”
The letters were read at the Convention on 1st April. Commissioners Proby, Pereire and Dubuisson, who met Dumouriez at Tournay on 26th March, reported he said France could be saved only by re-establishment of monarchy and he would no longer obey the 745 tyrants (the elected representatives).
Sat 17th Aug 1793
The allies held a conference at Anvers on 8th April. Attending were Count Metternich Vinnemberg Austrian Plenipotentiary, Count Staremberg Austrian Plenipotentiary, the Prince of Orange hereditary of Nassau, Duke of York the British CiC, Prince of Saxe-Cobourg, Lord Auckland British Ambassador, Count Keller Prussian Plenipotentiary, the Prussian General Knobelfdorff, Colonel Mack of Austria and Count Fauentzein of Prussia.
No minutes of the meeting were released but it is said an agreement was reached and signed unanimously by all the participants that day.
Sat 17th Aug 1793
The Duc d’Orleans has contrived to transfer sufficient funds to London to assure himself of a quarterly income of £5,000 at the Bank (the approximate interest on about £400,000 capital). He is certainly M Égalité in utrumque paratus.
Sat 24th Aug 1793
Dumouriez’s letter to the President of the National Convention from Louvain, 12th March:
The safety of the people is the supreme law. For this consideration I have sacrificed a certain victory in Holland to aid French troops who have been checked owing to physical and moral causes. Your Commissioners merely flatter you and you complaisantly believe what they say. The armies of Belgium have been disorganised by the Minister and Commissioners sent to them. These officials were changed but remain unpunished. Indeed Pache and Haffenfratz have been promoted to the Mayoralty of Paris and have renewed the former violence with blood-letting in the Rue des Lombards.
In December I told you the grievances that required redressing. I pointed out the sole effective means of doing so, to restore our armies to their proper energetic state. These advices were thrown aside. If you now look at them you will see that all that has befallen us was predicted in them.
The Belgic armies united at Aix la Chapelle and Liege have suffered privation. Disease, skirmishes and desertions have removed over half their strength. It has only been General Bournonville at the ministry who supplied these armies properly. His appointment was so recent that we are still disorganised.
In this situation you chose to declare war on England and Holland on 1st February. I accepted the challenge, anticipated my enemies, motivated the men and attacked Holland. I took Breda, Klundert and Gertruydenberg and commenced a bombardment of Maastricht. The new military administration was not then established and the old criminal one still held influence. Money was authorised to be sent in huge quantities to fund our efforts but was retained in the Treasury. Our armies have retired from Maastricht in confusion. The old armies’ magazines and some new battalions have been taken by the enemy. Our retreat has encouraged the enemy. I wish to inform you of the moral cause of this disaster.
We won whilst our cause was just. When our cause became greedy and unjust we lost. You have been deceived with flattery. We have oppressed the Belgians and violated their historic rights and liberty. We have insulted their religious opinions, stolen the valuables from their churches and profaned their God. The union of Hainault to France was achieved by force of arms not force of argument. In Brussels a few sanguinary individuals intimidated the citizens. History has shown the Belgians to be good, frank, brave people who do not tolerate oppression.
The Duke of Alva, most bloodthirsty of Philip II’s representatives, hanged 18,000 Belgians and the Belgians responded with 30 years of civil wars, yet their attachment to Catholicism might again attach them to Spain.
When we entered Belgium your finances were already exhausted. Your silver had been sold for gold. Cambon (army treasurer) was overwhelmed by the wealth of this fertile country and wanted its riches. You accepted his proposal of 15th December although you have since told me you actually disapproved it, thinking it unjust. Cambon responded by simply attacking me by telling you I opposed your Decrees. You then required, in your decree of 30th December, that Cambon’s recommendations be precisely followed. You sent us 30 Commissioners. We expected a few honest men amongst them but they are entirely brutal, stupid and lazy men. Agents of tyranny have now spread all over Belgium. The Generals are obliged by the Decree to employ the men sent but their exactions were highly resented by the Belgians. Fear and hatred were substituted for the friendship and fraternity that characterised our first appearance in Belgium.
You suppose those parts of Belgium that have been united to France entered the Republic voluntarily. You regarded those Belgians as Frenchmen and no doubt assumed you might accordingly take the valuables from their churches to defray our war expenses. You should have waited until they were voluntarily given to you – forcibly taking them was seen as sacrilegious. The priests and monks have politicised the people and we are regarded as robbers. Everyone is against us.
We represent a government of the people but it is the Belgian people who have armed themselves against us. I invoke your duty and probity as national representatives. Recall the Rights of Man. The future of France is in your hands.
Sat 31st August 1793
News from France, 27th March – Robespierre proposed to the Convention that all the relatives of the late King be banished within the next eight days and that the Queen be tried for her life. Agreed.
Sat 31st August 1793
Mr Talleyrand Perigord, late Bishop of Autun, late Deputy of the National Assembly and late member of the Department of Paris, is now in London. He was prominent in establishing the French monarchy under a Constitution.
He is a friend of the Duc de Rochefoucault, who shares his political principles, but those principles drew down on them the enmity of the present tyrants who maintain their authority by violence. It is fortunate that these two good men have been able to escape.
Sat 31st August 1793
London news, 8th April – advice from Holland confirms Dumouriez marched on Paris on 3rd April with the avowed intention of restoring the monarchy.
General O’Donnell, the Austrian commander at Bruges, has requested Admiral McBride to retain Ostend and take command of the town. He is sending a detachment of troops to take off the money that the French left in the Customs House. McBride has been able to assemble a force of 100 troops and 400 seamen from the cutters. This gives England an opening on the west coast of Europe.
Antwerp has been the venue of a high level meeting of the powers on 7th and 8th April. It appeared that our initial intention was to restore tranquillity to France without any military entry to the country. Now it is expected that the allied armies will enter France.
Here is the Prince of Saxe-Cobourg’s address to the French people, done 5th April at Mons:
“Dumouriez has told me his wishes for France. He is a virtuous patriot. France has been captured by a vile group of assassins. All virtuous people feel repugnance. I command the armies of Prussia and Austria. I support Dumouriez and his brave army.
If Dumouriez wishes it, I will join part of my troops to his to reinstate the French King and the Constitution. My men enter France with honourable intentions. If I have to take possession of any military strongholds it will only be temporarily. My troops are ordered to respect French persons and property. If they fail they will be executed.”
In response to this announcement, Dumouriez declined to formally promulgate the French Constitution so Saxe-Cobourg tried again, done 9th April, still at Mons:
“My previous declaration was intended to restore peace and harmony. It was misunderstood and its effects have been opposite to those intended. The failure of the armistice is caused by France. I regret that the state of war between the allies and France is once again renewed. My previous undertakings are withdrawn except that I maintain the order on my troops to act honourably.”
Sat 31st August 1793
The representatives of the 48 sections of Paris have addressed the National Convention on the threatened famine in the City:
“It is inadequate to declare a Republic. We must have bread. If there is no bread there will be no Republic, no liberty and no law. We are alarmed at the food shortages. You have previously been told that if you obstruct the distribution of food you create shortages. The people are moving around the country searching for places with adequate food.
“The fair distribution of supply is hindered by monopolists. You say that the municipalities are responsible to act against abuse but they are all trading municipalities which are reliant on commerce for income. They co-operate with the monopolists for a share of their income.
“You say that if government forcibly takes possession of grain, it would be a violation of property and detrimental to liberty but if a reasonable price is paid, it cannot be said that the grain has been forcibly possessed. Doing nothing merely enriches speculators, and allows the rich to eat while the poor starve. You decree the free circulation of grain but do nothing to stop abuses that prevent its circulation. You say it is impossible to frame a good law for assurance of subsistence. The people question if you act for their safety or destruction. A good law is practicable and you must enact one.
“The scarcity in Paris is due to an indemnity to the bakers of Paris which the Convention ratified. The bakers are permitted to sell bread at 3 sous per pound and grain and flour in proportion. Bread is now nearly double that price in Paris and very scarce. Parisians despair and calamity is feared.”
Sat 21st Sept 1793
French Royalist supporters of the Bourbons have improved their foothold in Brittany and have disrupted supplies from that area getting to Paris. They took possession of Nantes briefly but had to relinquish it. The price of meat in the capital has risen to 20 sous per pound. The Convention decrees 40,000 men must be found to oppose the Royalists. They assess the immediate danger is within and agree to withdraw forces from the frontiers to meet the Royalist challenge in Brittany.
Spanish forces have entered France from the south and are yet to see a French uniform. General Kellerman (the French commandant of the Army of the Pyrenees) is accordingly to be arrested and General Oraison will replace him.
In Paris all foodstuffs are so expensive and the Parisians so irritated that a National Convention member has proposed removing the seat of government to a provincial town. This illustrated a difficulty. Some legislators wished to remove but even if all are in agreement they are prevented by the mob.
Sat 28th September 1793
Eight regiments of fencibles are being raised in Scotland individually by some local aristocrats and businessmen.
Sat 28th September 1793
Letter of General Dumouriez to the French nation, dated 2nd April 1793:
I am devoted to the liberty and honour of France. In 1792 I was Minister of Foreign Affairs for three months and rendered memorable service to France. I was accused of appropriating 6 million livres of secret service money when I spent only ½ million livres on the secret service in that period. At end June 1792 I left politics and assumed command of a small northern army. I was ordered to quit the area when the Austrians entered but I disobeyed and consequently saved that part of France. The National Convention was infuriated by my disobedience and sent commissioners to take me to Metz where they had already arranged my execution.
At end August I assumed command of an army of 20,000 men in Champagne. It was disorganised and ill-disciplined. With this force I stopped 80,000 Prussians and Hessians, neutralised half the enemy troops and forced their retreat. The National Convention then had to call me the saviour of France but Marat continued to slander me.
On 5th November I entered Belgium with the Champagnois and some others. I defeated the enemy at Jemappe and occupied Liege and Aix la Chapelle. Then the National Convention created the rumour that I aspired to be Duke of Brabant, or Stadtholder, or Dictator of France, whatever. Minister Pache, with the support of the criminal faction to whom all our national ills are due, withheld all the army’s supplies and reinforcements. In the absence of clothes and food, with winter approaching, 25,000 sons of France deserted, 15,000 were hospitalised and 10,000 horses died (eaten). I went to Paris and demanded support. They declined to read the four memorials I presented and throughout my 26 hour stay I heard all sorts of lies and repeated demands for my head.
I resigned my command but the National Convention retained me to negotiate a ceasefire with Holland and England which I had advised them was indispensable. Whilst I negotiated, the National Convention declared war on both countries without a word to me. I read about it in the newspapers. I assembled such men as were available, many of whom had never fought before, and used this force to occupy three strong towns. I was ready to advance into Holland when I heard of the disaster at Aix la Chapelle, the raising of the siege of Maastricht and the retreat of our army, which last urgently summoned me to its help. I abandoned my conquests and marched to their assistance, recognising we could extricate ourselves only by an instant victory. I attacked the enemy on 18th March 1793. The centre and right wing were victorious but the left wing fled and deserted. I retreated and reformed my honourable and brave men and continued to fight the enemy over the next few days.
Then Marat, Robespierre and the other criminal Jacobins conspired to bring me down. Bribed with the gold of our neighbours, they disorganised the armies of France and arrested many of our Generals. Those soldiers of France were imprisoned in Paris and ‘Septemberised’ (recalling the massacres of prisoners in the first 6 days of September). Since then I have been recomposing my army until yesterday (1st April) when four commissioners of the National Convention arrived with a warrant for my arrest. My student Bournonville (Minister for War) accompanied them, expecting to succeed to my command. I learned from the suite of these emissaries that numerous deserters had been employed on the road to Paris to intercept and murder me. I remonstrated with them but nothing could shake their pride so I arrested all of them, arranged a ceasefire with the enemy, and commenced a march on Paris to prevent the commencement of a civil war.
Men of France, I must tell you the complete truth. In 1789 we exerted ourselves to get liberty, equality and the sovereignty of the people. Our principles were consecrated in the declaration of the Rights of Man. From these labours resulted the declaration that France is a monarchy constrained by a Constitution to which we took Oaths of allegiance in 1789, 1790 and 1791.
The Constitution may have been imperfect but it was a genuine effort and could be perfected in time. A balance between the legislative and executive powers would have been found and that equilibrium would prevent either one from achieving a despotism. If the despotism of the One Man is odious, how much more so must be the despotism of 700 men (the National Convention) many of whom are unprincipled, immoral criminals.
These men found the restraint of a Constitution intolerable. The Jacobins of Paris awed the Assembly of Representatives and the intended equilibrium was destroyed by their violence. Paris became the city of denunciations, massacres and pillage. It was similar throughout the country. Life and property were placed at hazard. Only assassins and men of violence had security. Of the 700 supposed legislators, 400-500 simply groaned and decreed, or decreed and groaned, but none confronted the evil Marats and Robespierres. It was thus that Louis died. It was thus that the Decree of 19th November 1792 provoked the entire World by offering French aid to all those foreign individuals who would disorganise their countries. It alienated the Belgians and the Dutch and might have caused the massacre of our entire army had I not steadied the troops with Proclamations.
This is how a handful of Judges in the Tribunals have obtained the power of life and death over all of you, without appeal or review. This is how the most important posts of the State are being filled with greedy criminally incompetent men – by murdering the enlightened and capable. These 700 men revile each other and are continually plotting for advantage. Every Committee draws on the national Treasury and no-one records where the money goes. Fear of punishment for what they have done is overcoming their inability to trust. It is bringing them together. They are consolidating their power to maintain this unjust government.
Having provoked all Europe, the National Convention is disorganising our armies. The ancient battalions of national volunteers, which have always formed a respectable army in the past, have not been equipped, the men are not praised or promoted. It is the same with the cavalry and the artillery, they are both in want of every necessity. Instead the National Convention sacrifices everything to units of rioters and gives command to men without experience, men who will cut off your head if you try to reason with them, men who only respond to flattery.
The National Convention has decreed that this General will take Rome, and that General will occupy Spain. Then despoiling commissioners are sent, like the proconsuls that Cicero declaimed against. In the worst season of the year the Convention has sent our only national fleet into the Mediterranean to attack Sardinia! It sent the Brest fleet off in atrocious weather to contend with the English fleet which wisely remained in port. Civil war is spreading throughout the Departments. Persecution has given rise to fanaticism or tragic remembrance of Louis XVI.
Everyone has resorted to arms for self-protection. Murders are commonplace. Wherever wealth is concentrated it is robbed away with violence. The English foment these troubles. Soon our ships will be removed from the world’s oceans, our southern Departments will cease to receive grain from Italy and Africa in the same way that the grain from America and the Baltic has already been stopped by our enemies. Famine will arise, cannibalism and disease will spread and our calamities will worsen.
Men of France, we must stifle anarchy and submit to the Constitution. We have repeatedly sworn to maintain it. It is a work of free people and its application maintains our freedom and our national glory.
Let us give rise to the virtue of mildness. If the monsters who have disorganised our nation flee, we will let them go. If they remain and continue their crimes, the army will punish them.
The generosity of the enemies we have outraged provides a channel for peace. They treat our wounded prisoners humanely despite the ferocious injustice we extend to theirs. They have suspended their march at the frontier and permitted our own armies to restore tranquillity internally. Let our love of France awaken our virtue. Frenchmen will not fight Frenchmen. The spirit of civil war will be directed against the malevolent men, supported by foreign powers, who have brought us so low. Our anarchy has disturbed all our neighbours. Now our troops-of-the-line and national volunteers have engaged for a year to restore peace and remove anarchy.
I have taken an Oath to restore the constitution where after I will retire from public life and enjoy your happiness in solitude.
Sat 9th Nov 1793
Report to the National Convention from the Deputies of the Loire and Mayence:
Superstitious eternalists have occupied a small part of France. They fight like fanatics and appear undeterred by injury and death. They have taken our artillery and ammunition and many prisoners. We are forced back to the Loire. If they can cross the river they will make substantial inroads.
Notwithstanding this reverse our Generals will not listen to us and they make wrong dispositions of their men. We need more money, arms & ammunition, food, troops and better generals.
The Report is referred to the Committee of Public Safety.
The National Convention is alarmed at the progress of Royalists in Brittany. They might soon be able to cut-off supplies to Paris. The price of meat in the capital has risen from 15 to 20 sous per pound. The Parisian people are concerned. The National Convention has decreed that 40,000 men are to be sent into Brittany to restore order.
The National Convention has identified internal disorder as more dangerous than foreign invasion. It will withdraw troops from the frontier if necessary.
Sat 28th Dec 1793
The émigré leaders of the Royalist Catholic army, that has entered France from la Vendée and progressed almost a hundred miles towards Tours, have proclaimed to the French people:
We know you really want to preserve your religion and Royal Family. You can see we embrace your values. The anarchists do not. They slay the prisoners they take from us while we care for the prisoners we take from them. At Bressuire they killed many defenceless men. They plunder and burn houses while we respect and protect people and property.
It is true some outrages have occurred in towns we have repossessed for the King. We bitterly lament them and have severely punished the wrong doers. Our conduct at Thouars is well known. The town was taken by assault. 2,000 Catholic soldiers entered the breach and forced its capitulation. The subsequent occupation is an example of our mildness. Why do you oppose us?
Do you not see that striking down the religious and political order has injured France. The revolutionaries have replaced religion with atheism; law with anarchy and the King with a gang of tyrants. The patriotism that the revolutionaries assert is a false patriotism. All they have done is to amass vast wealth from you. Wake up. You must take sides. Stand up for honour, not anarchy, and depose these perfidious usurpers who have turned our rich monarchy into a barren republic. Save la France.
Sat 1st Feb 1794
Letter from General Gaston, commanding the Royalist Catholic army at Thouars, dated 30th Apr 1793, excoriating the Parisians for permitting regicide:
“…In order to cover an annual deficit of 66 millions, you have incurred an annual debt of 600 millions; Formerly you were at peace with all the world, now you are war with it; formerly you had rich colonies, now they are gone; formerly you had religion and law, now you have atheism and anarchy. Citizens are arrested, imprisoned and executed at the caprice of a gang of bandits. When will France remember virtue?
“I am now making a war of honour on the infamous. My triumph is certain. Join me. The interests of your wives, children and property demand it. The happiness and safety of France require it. We will overturn the Tree (of Liberty), that symbol of crime, and substitute the Fleur-de-Lys, the symbol of virtue.” Etc.
Sat 16th Nov 1793
Public letter to Charles Grey, the liberal Whig and associate of Charles Fox, in the 16th May edition of a London newspaper:
You are not a bad speaker but your abilities flow from diligence not nature. Fox and Sheridan do not admit you to their councils – they use you.
(next paragraph illegible).
I hope your zeal for political reform stems from a love of your country. You remind me of that chap who created a unique medicine and tried to convince all his neighbours that they were sick so he might have the pleasure of curing them. You say the political constitution of England is corrupt and needs the purge of reform to purify it. Well, the country is doing very well and if it needs help we have established channels for obtaining it.
Who are your supporters? Not the Corporation of London which declared in common council that it rejects reform; those 6,000 merchants, traders and bankers in the City (who are worth £10 millions) don’t want it; the landowners in the country don’t want it (not a single county has publicly supported you); the manufacturers (with the exception of Nottingham) don’t want it. Who are the people who signed the petition for reform that you presented? People sign papers for many reasons, only one of which is agreement.
You are a rich and influential man. Some people would consider that adequate reason to sign. How did you conclude that there is support for reform? At the last reform vote you reformers were in a minority of 41. How can you equate yourselves in talent and integrity with the overwhelming majority who rejected it? The Constitution may have some defects but the broad mass of the people are satisfied. I hope you have been acting from a love of your country.
Sgd A Contented Englishman
Sat 14th Dec 1793
News from the war:
Dumouriez is now a prisoner at Ostend under the protection of Sir William Erskine. He was arrested on the order of the Prince of Saxe-Cobourg for publishing a vindication of the Revolution of 1789 in Brussels. He says the disorderliness of French administration results from the departure of the aristocracy.
He considers Danton to be the leading man of France today and Marat and Robespierre are his tools.
There are interesting similarities between the fortunes of Dumouriez and La Fayette – their treachery is similar and their punishments appear equal. Dumouriez is being sent to a fortress in Germany.
Sat 12th Oct 1793
Declaration of Dumouriez 20th April 1793 at Frankfurt (given to Metternich):
“I do not know Philippe d’Orleans, also called Égalité, I did not know he has a faction and I am not part of it. I despise him for his role in the murder of Louis XVI. I hope he is tried for his crimes.
“His sons are as good as their father is bad. They served under me in the army. The eldest has no wish to become King of France. If he does so I shall hate him like I hate his father.”
Sat 12th Oct 1793
A biography has been published in Europe on the Duc d’Orleans or Monsieur L’Égalité. This and the following biographies are émigré productions:
He is a bad son, man, husband, father, friend and citizen without any redeeming virtues. He flew from his amiable and virtuous wife to embrace infamy and debauchery. He fell out with the King over an attempt to seduce his sister-in-law who was heir to the fortune of Duc de Penthievre, having killed off the other heirs, and this was the proximate cause of his rebellion. He had also offered himself to Marie Antoinette but was rebuffed. She told her husband (the King) who upbraided his cousin (d’Orleans) and earned his resentment.
M. L’Égalité raised a considerable loan in Holland to finance the Revolution of 1789. Had his plans succeeded France would now be ruled by a new monarch but he lacked the courage and honesty to accomplish the coup. When the hired Parisians attacked Versailles on 6th Oct 1789 he disclosed to them the secret passages leading to the Royal Apartments and it was left to the sacrifice of the Swiss Guard to save the Royal Family. His reputation became known and in shame he denied himself the Crown and attributed his acts to a wish for the freedom of the French people. He assumed the name M. L’Égalité when he stood for a seat in the National Assembly that debated the terms of the Constitution.
Sat 12th Oct 1793
Biography of Citizen Petion (sometimes spelled Pethion in the Courier – one of the three popular revolutionary leaders).
He is a lawyer. He came to prominence when Louis XVI responded to popular requests by calling national representatives to meet with him. Petion insinuated himself into the favour of the clergy who procured his return as member for Chartres. He has spent the four years since his election persecuting the clergy. As mayor of Paris he connived at the execution of some thousands of priests. In the first National Assembly, which contained many virtuous and capable members, Petion associated himself with Robespierre and asserted violent measures as a means of attaining prominence.
When the King was caught at Varennes and returned to Paris, Petion proposed to the officials of Paris that, as Mayor of Paris, he could get the King released. He offered to do this to confound the prospects of La Fayette who was also running for the Mayoralty. Before he received any support in his quest for this job, he discovered another route to power which did not require the help of the Court. This was the schism amongst the Jacobins and the secession of Barnave, Lameth and the other leading members. With their removal, all respectability amongst the Jacobins came to an end and the organisation fell into the control of unpropertied unprincipled men. Of the 100,000 Parisians entitled to vote for Mayor, the active Jacobin component numbered less than 2,000. To obtain the job for Petion, his group sent violent gangs to all sections threatening anyone who proposed to vote for La Fayette. As a result less than 10% of the electorate turned out to vote of which 4,000 wanted La Fayette and 5,500 Petion.
Petion lived briefly in England before his election. He made a few friends and attended some Revolution Society meetings.
Once elected Mayor, he cleverly avoided leading the rabble openly, but connived at their excesses by withholding punishment from plunderers and assassins alike. Thus emboldened, the rabble became increasingly outrageous until they reached the necessary confidence for his purposes. On 20th June he allowed the massacres to start. To overthrow the King, he called the Jacobins of Marseilles and Brest to Paris, contrary to the express orders of the National Assembly. On 10th August, with a huge crowd of wild people outside the Tuilleries, the King sent for Petion and called on him to restore order. Petion arrived at the Tuilleries and told the mob he was being taken hostage. While that story was working its way through the crowd, he assured his King that he could answer for the mob and ensure their respect for law. The King had little choice but to take him at his word. Petion left by a back door, unknown to the crowd, and made his way home secretly. He then finalised his plans with Brissot, Chabor and Merlin. The events of the next day are well known. Whilst his story of imprisonment by the King had developed into reports of his assassination by the Swiss Guard, Petion allowed himself to be arrested by another mob. This achieved his second object – his first had been to inflame the crowd and second to disable himself from intervening.
While the mob was led to pillage the warehouse of a sugar merchant in the Fauxbourg St Marceau (a man who had voted for La Fayette), Petion was in the Fauxbourg St Antoine settling a quarrel between two men who were disputing ownership of a horse they had stolen from an aristocrat. He used this pretence of other engagements to justify his failure to act appropriately.
Later he conducted the King and his family to prison where they were exposed to the derision of the rabble and housed amongst their tortured or massacred friends.
Sat 2nd Nov 1793
Biography of Brissot – Before the Revolution he was Brissot de Warville. He was known in England as the friend and confidant of La Motte whom we executed for spying in the last (American) war. Brissot is said to be absent-minded. He often mistook his neighbours’ pockets for his own. This caught the attention of the police and obliged him to leave England for Switzerland. There he published two pamphlets – Theorie du Vol (Robbery) and Apologie du Vol – which irritated the Swiss and M. Brissot came to Paris in 1779.
He offered his services to M le Noir, the Minister of Police, some say as a spy, while he says he was actually employed to prevent his writing against the government. He received 800 livres per year and, with his good command of English he was posted to America. He published a History of North America which, whilst anti-British, is quite good. He also became a Quaker and affects the simplicity of their manners and dress.
Since the end of the American War he visited England twice but his former reputation of spy pursued him and he soon left. Returning to France, his lack of information persuaded his employers to suspect he had been turned and they imprisoned him in the Bastille. In this respect it will be noted that when the Bastille was opened to the Parisians in July 1789, the keys were passed to Brissot to take advantage of his intimate knowledge of the prison layout.
In 1788 the disputes between the Crown and the parliament commenced and there were troubles in the Estates of Brittany and Dauphiny. He was then rehabilitated by M de Brienne, the prime minister, to insinuate himself into the confidence of M/s Meunier, La Fayette and others whom de Brienne suspected of opposing him.
His assumption of the Quaker faith was a masterstroke of dissimulation which won him the protection of La Fayette and permitted him the opportunities to orchestrate that officer’s downfall.
Brissot is the Editor of Patriot Francais, a virulent Jacobin newspaper. His inflammatory writings are the opposite of Quaker meekness and have enriched the French language. We now have Brissoter, to pick pockets; Brissoteur, a pickpocket and Brissot mett ses gands, used when someone puts his hand in the pocket of another. His artistry in hypocrisy, intrigue and treachery rival Pethion and deserve wider recognition.
Sat 9th Nov 1793
Biography of Robespierre – Four years ago, when Robespierre was deputed to the National Assembly, he had to borrow a coat to make himself presentable. He now lives in a splendid hotel in Paris, revels in banquets and possesses endless glittering accoutrements. From whence did this new found wealth come? Are the sources compatible with the rigid virtues of a Republican? Those who aspire to political power should be disgusted by this assassin. Those who aspire to wealth should evaluate the company they wish to join.
Robespierre’s genealogy is mysterious. He was an orphan in Arras and received his education from the Church. He then became a lawyer’s clerk until the first National Assembly when, with the assistance of the Bishop of Arras, he was returned as a Deputy of that city. The church clothed him suitably and gave him the coach fare to Paris. In repayment Robespierre had the bishop assassinated on 2nd September 1792. He distinguished himself in the Assembly by the ferocity of his speeches. After the Assembly was dissolved, he took a leading part in the Jacobin Club where he associated himself with Pethion and his colleagues.
For the last two years Robespierre and Pethion have always acted concertedly to bring down the monarchy. Robespierre was President of the Secret Committee of the Jacobins. It was this committee that conceived the scheme of involving all Europe and the French colonies in its plans. His apostolic zeal in propagating his principles was nicely caught in his response to the tearful supplications of a widow – ‘un peu du sang de plus ne fait pas de mal’. In Paris today all the privileged murderers are called ‘les chasseurs a la Robespierre’.
Robespierre may not equal Pethion in cruelty but he is a superior hypocrite. Whilst Pethion led his men in bloodshed and plunder, Robespierre hid behind a curtain. This cost him the lion’s share of the loot but he was satisfied. But how brittle are human friendships. Brutus and Cassius had their quarrel and these two Republicans also. After 10th August, a dispute arose between them over the division of the spoils and this breach has widened since the opening of the National Convention. Robespierre is suspected of aiming at Dictatorship and Pethion abhors ambition and fears the bandits he has himself empowered. Many of those National Convention members who follow Pethion accuse Robespierre. Danton routinely defends him while Marat ‘lets slip the dogs of war’. It appears Robespierre’s support is dwindling and the dread of punishment must touch him from time to time.
Sat 16th Nov 1793
Purported biography of Marat (commencing with a long paragraph warning Earl Grey that he risks comparison with Marat. Grey’s consistent demand for parliamentary reform has won him the opposition of the King’s friends):
Marat is the most zealous of Pethion’s accomplices and an active instigator of rebellion. Pethion has latterly sought to throw responsibility for the massacres on Robespierre but his earlier account of the murders leaves no ground on which for him to stand.
Marat first came to public attention when accused of the forgery of billets d’escompte issued by Necker. That was when he took the name Marat and fled to England. He taught French in a school in London and later in Oxford. At the beginning of the revolution he returned to Paris and published a democratic paper L’ami du peuple which might better have been called L’ennemi du genre humain. All Danton’s fearful orations were published in that paper. The principles he distilled in his writings so deluded the mob that he was shielded from the just severity of the law. In Feb 1790, when the National Guard surrounded his house to exercise the warrant against him, they were repulsed by Jacobins. When Pethion was elected Mayor of Paris, Marat’s audacity increased under his protection. Although Pethion has recently rejected Marat, he was until then Pethion’s most obsequious instrument.
Sat 23rd Nov 1793
Biography of Danton – The father of the present Lord Chancellor of France was a butcher. His diligence permitted the son to study medicine. The youth acquired the protection of the Princess de Lamballe by marrying the niece of one of the maids to her femmes de chambre and thus obtained an appointment as doctor to Comte d’Artois. He was not a successful doctor and is said to have lost a good many patients.
When the revolution commenced and the Comte could no longer protect him, Danton changed his allegiance to the mob. He is an inhabitant of the rough Section des Cordeliers (now Section de Marseilles) and in August 1789 obtained eminence amongst his neighbours by the fierceness of his speeches. He has a fine voice and clear delivery; so much so that Mirabeau would say, whenever hearing a well delivered speech devoid of eloquence or logic, ‘ecoutez l’eloquence de Danton!’
Danton has been an active instigator of pillage and murder this last four years. The Hotel de Castries in Oct 1789 and Champs de Mars in July 1791 were the theatres of his exertions. He won esteem from the Club des Cordeliers and was often seated in the President’s chair. This club, though inferior to the Jacobin Club in influence, was superior in malice. To illustrate, here is an extract from Danton’s speech at Champ de Mars:
“There are 25 million Frenchmen. We have 50 million arms to carry swords and poignards. We should send 6 million men to Germany, 3 million to Italy and Spain, 3 million to Russia and north Europe. In order to fund these patriots, we should first send 4 million men to England to take possession of the Bank of England. We will have 9 millions remaining here to cultivate the fields. In their spare time they can destroy the monarchy, the National Convention and all aristocratic authority.
“If we do this now, in a year all Europe will acknowledge French sovereignty. We will govern without laws. If occasion should require law, the people will enact it as necessary.”
For this speech in July 1791 Danton had to hide himself until September when the King granted a general amnesty at the time He accepted the Constitution.
Sat 30th Nov 1793
Biography of Condorcet – a few French democrats act from patriotism. The majority act from greed. Condorcet used to be a Marquis and took no part in the Revolution for the first two years. He had been the Secretary to the French Academy of Science before the Revolution and had written a Life of Voltaire. He is celebrated for his retentive memory rather than any particular talents.
In June 1790 he asked to be appointed governor of the Dauphin and showed his book to evidence his scholarship, but was refused. He then applied for membership of the Jacobin Club but his aristocratic background was suspect and he was again refused. He sent his lovely wife to plead for him with the leading Jacobins and they finally opened the doors to him.
He became the Editor of a democratic paper La Cronique. His change of principles has been fluent. He has allowed others that freedom of thought and action that he himself expects.
He was with Brissot and Danton in the Champ de Mars in July 1791. He is a firm friend of equality, at least in so far as it involves the apportionment of his neighbours’ assets, but he has not totally shaken off his old prejudices. Actually, his own capital is earning interest in the Bank of England. The Jacobins appear convinced of his reliability and have awarded him with one of their seats in the National Convention.
Sat 12th Oct 1793
The historian Edward Gibbon continues to live at Lausanne in a fine house bequeathed him by a friend. His daily schedule is invariable. He rises at 5 am to commence study. He breakfasts in the library at 9 am. Then continues work until 1 pm. He then rides until 3 pm, dines at 4 pm and passes the remainder of the day with friends. He retires at 10 pm.
He gives public dinners twice a week but does not permit them to intrude on his schedule. His library is said to be the best private collection in Europe. He is sometimes seen walking the banks of Lake Geneva. His patrimony is very reduced (about £1,200 pa) but at Lausanne that is plenty. He has indicated he will visit London this winter and it is believed he has a new work for printing.
Sat 12th Oct 1793
Whitbread MP has moved that the King’s Proclamation of 20th February be read. It prevents Englishmen on the Express packet from Calais from landing at Dover. Whitbread characterised the Proclamation as unconstitutional and only exceeded in tyranny by the way in which its instruction was executed.
Every true Englishman supported the King and wished to preserve the Royal prerogative but that prerogative extended only to acts that increased the happiness of the people. During the recent debate on one clause in the Traitorous Correspondence Bill (a clause so despicable that ministers became ashamed and abandoned it), the Solicitor General said ‘H M has a right to regulate entry into his Kingdom.” Whitbread had no doubt that HM possessed no such right; that any innocent British subject could land in Britain; that a British King cannot banish subjects without reason.
The Proclamation, which was an Order-in-Council, went far beyond the embargo of ships in wartime which Whitbread thought reasonable. It was unjust to prevent the return of innocent individuals. All good men, on learning of the King’s act, would feel disgust. The Proclamation was solicited on the basis of the testimony of paid informers. It violated the principle that a man is innocent until proven guilty.
It was known several days before the Proclamation was published that the National Convention in Paris had decreed all Englishmen quit France in 8 days. Several of them came to Calais intending to return home. On arrival at Dover on 20th February they were met by officers who requested sight of passports issued by Dundas that give permission to land. They had no passports and were told they must leave and if they tried to come ashore they would be resisted.
Some of them attempted a deception. They appeared to submit and took a boat out but returned further along the coast. An Officer from Bow Street met them, acting under a mandate of Dundas, and carried them on board the packet where they were detained for 5 days before being discharged on Dundas’ order. None of them has been charged with any offence. None was taken before a magistrate.
Whitbread noted that Dundas held an extraordinary number of places. He was Secretary of State, Treasurer of the Navy, President of the Board of Control, Deputy Keeper of the Signet in Scotland, Joint Patentee of the Theatre Royal there and Printer of the Holy Bible. He thought Dundas would find the office of Enforcer of the King’s Proclamations more troublesome and less profitable than all his other offices put together.
Whitbread was disappointed to hear ministers railing against lawlessness in France when they were capable of equally illegal acts in London. He wants an enquiry.
Dundas replied for the ministry. He followed the advice of the law officers. He thought they had given him their best advice. He had not acted in haste. He was confident the proceeding was completely legal. The only grey area was the extent of H M’s power in licensing a packet to voyage between this country and France, with which country we are at war. He thought the advance of civilisation required some form of communication between warring countries. The French had put a stop to all contact on 20th February as was their right (i.e. this was the last packet). If the French can do it, so can we. It was quite reasonable to require passports of people coming from enemy territory. Its just a matter of expediency not impropriety.
Captain Bell of the Express packet wrote to Dundas on arrival Dover. He said forty men forced their way onto the Packet at Calais. They pulled up the anchor and set the sails and he had no choice but to be carried off to Dover by them. The passengers were Dr Maxwell and several of the suite of the Duc d’Orleans together with some rough and shady (English) characters. Dundas said he asked the law officers if Englishmen who seize the King’s packet at Calais and force the captain to come to Dover had committed any offence (NB – he actually asked if they could be prosecuted under the Proclamation). The lawyers said there was no evidence that the passengers were aware of the contents of the King’s Proclamation (published only that day) and it was inadvisable to prosecute. Consequently Dundas discharged them by sending an authorisation to the Post Master at Dover. Dundas felt he had done no wrong and if Dr Maxwell et al wanted to sue him he could not stop them issuing a Writ but would vigorously defend himself. He thought an enquiry would serve no useful purpose, he opposed Whitbread’s motion and, for good order, denied being Printer of the Holy Bible in Scotland.
Whitbread replied that it is common for placemen to send deputies to carry out their functions. The Printing of the Bible was a lucrative sinecure. He hoped that Dundas had not forgotten his possession of it.
Mr Francis thought the ministry had been tyrannical. The forty Englishmen had no recourse but to board the packet. On arrival at Dover some were allowed ashore and others were detained on board. Dundas says this was a private injury and the proper forum for its resolution is the Courts. Francis disagrees. It was oppressive and required an enquiry.
Fox disagreed with every word Dundas had said. Dundas says the Proclamation was a routine precaution that was always used in such circumstances. Fox had never heard of its use before and invited Dundas to provide examples.
He thought the King was ultra vires in limiting the right of Englishmen to land in England, whether they came on an English or French ship. He thought Englishmen were encouraged to trade with France under our commercial treaty and, because they are in France when war is declared, it seems to be Dundas’ position that they risk being forced to stay there.
On the other hand, if the Proclamation, on a proper construction, was legal it certainly was not wise. It would be wise to encourage Englishmen in enemy lands to come home. Dundas still says the passengers were criminal in forcibly taking the King’s packet but the case sent to Counsel merely asked if they could be punished under the Proclamation. Counsel advised against prosecution.
Fox noted that 36 Englishmen had been detained apparently because they were accompanied by 4 servants of the Duc d’Orleans. He thought the government might have been more magnanimous. He reprobated the disclosure of names – Dr Maxwell and Mr Stone – who were named apparently for their association with reform clubs. The entire affair has the imprimatur of junior officers whereas it was done entirely by a principal Secretary of State. An enquiry was appropriate.
Sat 2nd Nov 1793
The Spanish invasion of France via Figueras has been reported to Paris by the Deputies at Perpignan on 18th April:
Spanish troops have united with rebellious citizens of St Laurent de Cerda and are butchering our revolutionaries. All sorts of our provisions and other goods are being sold to the Spanish and exported. On the approach of the Spanish, the municipal officers disappeared and the national guard of St Laurent welcomed the foreign invaders. They fired on our revolutionary volunteers and killed very many of them. Our entire force threw away its arms, abandoned its baggage, and fled for Arles. We are assured that Lt Col Bourdes told his men “sauve qui peut.”
However, the garrison of Arles responded bravely and confronted the Spanish who number about 1,000 with the insurgents. They had the advantage of high ground, sheltered by rocks, from whence they pick-off our chaps at extreme range whilst our own muskets could not reach them. Lt Col Laterrade then ordered our retreat to Arles.
We hear two Spanish battalions now garrison St Laurent. We have formed a committee and made plans. We have united the National Guard with regular troops to form a body of 500 men. We have 2 cannon and suitable ammunition. The citizens of St Laurent should be heavily punished. We expect Arles to be attacked very soon. You have previously promised us succour. A camp of 8,000 – 10,000 men is indispensable. Clothing, arms and ammunition is what we imperatively need. We will neglect nothing to maintain order.
Some French merchants just returned from Spain say 5 battalions of troops have left Figueras for St Laurent. Sgd Lucia.
Sat 2nd Nov 1793
Edict of the Ottoman Porte – My empire is neutral in this war. I renew my regulation of the 1,194th year of the Prophet which was refreshed in 1780 when you Europeans were last at war.
All your ships must refrain from combat in my ports or in the White Sea. My naval commanders have been ordered not to interfere in your battles on the high seas.
Sat 2nd Nov 1793
- The Russian Court awaits advice from London before responding to the plea of the French princess. Her emissary Comte d’Artois is waiting at Petersburg to relay the reply to her.
- The ratified copy of the British Treaty of Commerce with Russia arrived at Petersburg on 1st April. It was signed by the Plenipotentiaries on 25th March. It renews the agreement of 1766.
- The Prussian share of Poland is now about 2.8 million hectares; Russia has about 10 million hectares. The estates of Count Potocki, Marshal of the Polish Federation, are now all in Russian ownership. The residue of the country is some 9 million hectares. 20,900 Polish troops have sworn allegiance to the Tsarina and will form a Ukraine Division in her army.
Sat 15th March 1794
‘A calm observer’ published these thoughts on the war in April 1793:
Four years ago we commiserated with the French on their want of liberty. Then they took the matter in hand. The neighbours, fearing the infection might spread, became anxious but Louis XVI gave us no pretext to intervene until his flight in June 1791, which was facilitated by foreign connections. Then the French became sullenly reserved. Trade was interrupted, military preparations were made and secret societies formed.
Our sole response to the King’s distress and his subsequent acceptance of the new Constitution was limited to sympathy to himself. This dark behaviour was reciprocated by the French government with jealousy of all foreign Kings. This jealousy was inflamed by the French Queen being of the House of Austria, by the retreat of the Royal family and the encouragement given to the émigrés in every neighbouring country. The proletarian French legislature addressed all Kings by their family names which caused the Austrian Emperor (Hapsburg family) to make threats against France. The French government was persuaded to judge their King by the conduct of his friends, both in and out of the country, and it debated and condemned the FrancoAustrian alliance. A peremptory explanation was demanded of the Austrian threat and, all satisfaction being refused, the war was commenced by France.
During the early months, the Revolution produced an alliance between Prussia and Austria. Initially for defensive and domestic purposes, the neighbours soon extended their alliance to foreign offensive projects. Russia eagerly acceded to this compact and the insane activities of the French democrats gave the neighbours protection from complaint at their unprincipled intentions. Thus the alliance became solely focused on foreign affairs. Prussia originally induced Austria to contend with France. Whether she was sincere does not matter as she is clearly sincere in her quest of plunder having, with Russia, taken possession of most of Poland.
Embarrassingly for all involved, France had some success in the last campaign. She has renounced foreign conquest and, finding herself the object of widespread hostility, resolved on the offer of fraternity with all foreign peoples. She had attacked Savoy on the same principle we attacked Holland in the American war and the country was rather seamlessly incorporated in France. The party that governs a new territory is the party that wants to profit from the act. Perversion entered their counsels. Violence was applied to detach the Belgians from their ancient Constitution and incorporate them in France. To conciliate Belgian anger the French held out the free navigation of the Scheldt as quid pro quo. This bribe irritated the English who reciprocated with unsolicited assistance to Holland. In fact the Dutch were completely apathetic to navigation of the Scheldt and the French became seriously alarmed at the course events were taking. They had never sought a war with England.
By this time it was widely known that the French had adopted so many absurd and unjust policies that the threat their Revolution presented to other countries had diminished. There is evidence that the French themselves are convinced of the folly of proselytising their revolution abroad. Instead of restoring the golden age of France it has made them universally odious and suspect. Their reply to the address of felicitation sent by English democrats should be seen in this light. It was an undiplomatic affront. In any event the British government has never punished the authors of the ‘Address to France’ nor warned France not to interfere in our internal affairs. All our representatives have done is to manifest a signal aversion to the new French government.
The French have now abandoned the Low Countries, negating our fears over the Scheldt. The Dutch do not appear unduly aggrieved.
We will pass over the pretence of atheism by the French people. If it is true it cannot be cured by war. As with the charges of cruelty to the King and other internal arrangements, they are things we may express no public opinions on.
The cause of the present war must rest with England. A negotiation was making progress and close to agreement (Maret’s discussions with Pitt) when we withdrew the customary safeguards for French papers, messengers and diplomats and we ordered the French negotiator to leave. Although war was declared by France, that declaration was provoked by us – in the midst of armed negotiations we cut off the means of continuing them and exhibited opprobrious hostility. It was as close as provocation gets to actual aggression.
In the context of our usual wars, this one is peculiarly unnecessary. France has dissolved her family compacts with Bourbons and Hapsburgs and is actually at war with both families as well as other powers. She has no ally. Her Empire is totally distracted. This is a war against the only power likely to oppose the ambitions of autocratic Kings who are careless of the independence of Europe. We apparently take more alarm at a hint of democracy than any conquering despot. In the domestic arrangements in England, this is a war against principles and against popular authors and clubs. We are employing war to attack domestic aspirations – like breaking a butterfly on the wheel.
Finally the war is an interference in French domestic affairs, sometimes portrayed as our benevolence and at other times as our chastisement. Pitt says this is a subordinate motive but as the French see it as important, we should too. If we were really concerned to display our benevolence, what about dismembered Poland?
I do not yet say this is a war fought by us for national aggrandisement but the virtue of ministers is going to be sorely tempted and our present honourable ministers can be readily changed. England is adequately strong to defend itself against France. We are strong enough for every reasonable and just purpose we might have. Surplus power begets presumption – it encourages the corruption of our government and the injury of ourselves and those we war with.
Sat 9th Nov 1793
A letter excoriating the Revolution was sent to an Englishwoman in France and was intercepted. It found its way to the National Convention where it was read publicly on 22nd March 1793. The following letter comments on the response:
The impatience of the members to speak had them bobbing up and down like Jacks-in-the Box. As they all wear red hats, it looked funny. The vivacity of the French gave their impetuosity a ridiculous appearance.
A member moved that letters derogatory of the dignity of the Republic should be declared infamous. It was carried.
Sat 23rd Nov 1793
London newspaper: The present National Assembly in France bears a resemblance to the long parliament in England that followed the unfortunate Charles I. It may be fairly forecast that some daring French democrat will eventually assume the government as Cromwell did.
Sat 7th Dec 1793
- The French General Dumouriez’s application to stay in England has been refused by Lord Grenville. In the four months to the end of 1792 he took Mons, Brussels, Malines, Antwerp and Namur.
- A splendid action between the frigate HMS Nymphe (Pellow) and the French frigate La Cleopatra (Moulon) occurred off Start Point and was visible from the Devon coast – it has been widely reported. On 21st June Pellow brought the French ship into Portsmouth. The King knighted him for the service.
Sat 7th Dec 1793
The King’s speech at the end of the parliamentary session, after passage of the India Bill that renewed the Company’s charter for another 20 years:
“I have much satisfaction in reflecting on the effectual protection which I have been enabled to afford to the trade of my subjects since the breaking-out of the war; I am at the same time persuaded, that if our commercial interests had unavoidably been affected to a more considerable extent, it would not have been forgotten that we are contending for our future security, and for the permanent preservation of advantages, the most striking and the most valuable which any nation has ever, by the Blessing of Providence, been permitted to enjoy.”
Sat 14th Dec 1793
The Whig Club has commenced a subscription for Mr Fox. Subscribers had deposited £30,000 with the trustees within a few days of opening. It is expected that much more will be raised. It will be invested for an annuity for Fox during the residue of his life. The Club’s Address to Fox:
“… to be beloved, esteemed and respected, as he is in every circle that surrounds him, by numerous friends, by his fellow citizens, and by his country, constitutes the best if not the only fame which a wise and honest man ought to aim at. Had Fox directed the wonderful talents of his mind to accumulation he would now be in a situation of opulence and power. That this is not the fact is notorious and it must therefore be the natural wish of every man of liberal feelings that he who has conducted himself in that disinterested manner, should be placed in a situation as independent as his mind.”
A committee of Lord John Russell, Lord George Henry Cavendish, Mr Francis, Mr Crewe, Mr Vyner, Mr Wrightson, Mr Alderman Combe and the Chairman of the Whig Club (the barrister Serjeant Adair) will discuss the best means of expressing their acknowledgement of his services. M/s Coke, Pelham and Byng will act as trustees. One wrote to Fox telling what they had done. He replied:
“Dear Sir, I am at a loss to express my feelings. Your act is unprecedented. My ‘disinterestedness’ has produced such a reward as the ‘most interested’ would think their whole lives well spent in collecting. Yours is the only way in which I can be gratified by receipt of a fortune. I accept your kindness with sincere gratitude. I see it as an obligation on me to continue steady to the principles I have always professed and to preserve the honest and independent line of conduct which alone has induced your kindness.”
Sat 21st December 1793
- The son of Louis XVI has been separated from the other Royal prisoners and moved to the apartment which his father occupied during his last few days. He is allowed no visitors. Barrere, through his Committee of Public Safety, issued the order for this.
- Pitt’s support for war has been roundly condemned in parliament but Fox’s alternative of negotiating with the National Convention is generally thought to be more despicable.
Sat 28th Dec 1793
Letter from Égalité at Marseilles – I am imprisoned in the Fort St John with my son. We are cold and deprived. Our servants have passports from the CPS (Committee of Public Safety) but those papers are not recognised here. The decree ordered we be brought here and detained. It does not require our deprivation. I have sworn to serve the Republic.
Restore my liberty. Allow me to communicate with others. Allow me to take the air and recover my health. Sgd L P Joseph Égalité.
Sat 28th Dec 1793
The Austrian Emperor has published a decree:
“The war we fight against France is a war of all the people of the Austrian Empire. It is Constitutional.
The Elector Palatine may not exclude his country. Private interest cannot precede Imperial interest. The Elector’s conditional offer to provide 3,000 men from Mannheim is inadequate and unsatisfactory.
The Elector has sworn his allegiance and must perform his duty.”
Sgd Hieronymus von Colloredo, Vienna, 30th Apr 1793.
Sat 28th Dec 1793
The Minister of Justice has reported to the National Convention the results of his efforts to arrest numerous Deputies for failure to perform their duties. A list of those arrested (short) and those escaped (longer) is attached.
He reports a deficit in the national account at May 1793 of 315,563,057 livres (the national fund is kept in a strongroom with three locks and three key-holders)
Sat 4th Jan 1794
Sweden has declared a strict neutrality in our (Britain’s) war with France and enacted new commercial regulations, 23rd April 1793:
All participation in the war by Swedes is forbidden. No warships or privateers are to be fitted out. No contraband (arms and ammunition, horses and cavalry equipment or similar) is to be exported under the Swedish flag to any belligerent. All other goods may be shipped.
Anyone coming to a Swedish port for trade must have the necessary letters and passports to prove the ownership of his ship and the nationality of its Captain. No captain may have more than one passport. People on visiting ships who throw documents overboard for concealment commit an offence.
The complement of Swedish ships shall behave civilly and respectfully to the crews of belligerents’ warships and privateers.
Sat 11th Jan 1794
The brother of the late Louis XVI, who is declared Regent of France by some of the émigrés, has sent a declaration to all the Courts of Europe that as soon as the Queen Dowager is liberated, he will confer the Regency on her.
His Regency is not acknowledged by any court and the declaration is informal.
Sat 11th Jan 1794
The House of Commons at the end of last session debated a motion of Fox to investigate the chance for peace:
Chancellor Pitt apologised for speaking on a subject which members well understood. He resented Fox raising this question about making peace with France at the end of the session, which he thought served no purpose other than to record his own opinion. He thought the terms that Fox proposed were preposterous and undignified. This House has already approved supplies for the war. Fox has asserted a doctrine that when a nation is attacked it should cease from defending itself the moment its attacker ceases to attack.
The idea that there is a faint prospect of peace now (the approach by Maret on behalf of the French Foreign Minister) is false. Fox proposes to make peace without security or indemnity.
The Chancellor then reviewed events leading commencement of the war. There were three grounds for complaint – the French broke their treaty with our ally the Dutch; they sought national aggrandisement, and they interfered in our internal affairs and everyone else’s. We demanded reparation or war and they declared against us. Even had France done none of the three things we objected to, she still declared war on us. Pitt said we must have ‘security for the future and reparation for the past’.
Fox believes we should confine ourselves to a defensive posture. Our enemy is aggressive. Should we decline to act with our allies or cooperate with them to obtain satisfaction? Fox says that the French armies have been soundly thrashed; that they are not professionally led. He says the King’s ministers are intent on war. Pitt reiterated that his government is not fighting to establish a particular form of government in France but he thought it entirely right that ministers should use every interference in the affairs of France that might encourage the return of peace (a reference to support given to Dumouriez’s march on Paris and to the émigrés in their armed insurrection in La Vendée and their efforts in Belgium and the South).
He concluded that the spirit of the present French government is hostile to Britain and all the neighbours and it was folly to expect security for the future. Fox said that should we continue the war until a fixed government was established, it might take a long time and therefore no measures for security or indemnity could be foreseen.
Chancellor Pitt said there were three situations that might permit an end to war:
- the present power holders might be removed,
- they might recognise the error of their ways, or
- the effects of war might weaken them to the point of surrender.
Any treaty made today would provide merely a delusive security.
Fox’s argument, rather than opening a way to peace, in fact encouraged the continuance of war. There is a want of responsible government in France for us to treat with. In France, government succeeds government rapidly and each sinks under the next wave of usurpers. Each new government reneges on the agreements of the former. If we treated with Maret today, to whom should we appeal when he joins Égalité in prison? Did France extend a reciprocal regard for us when we declared our intended neutrality? Did they not break faith with us without a pretext?
The shock our commerce received was not from the war but before we became parties to it. It would have been worse had we not declared war. It was caused by the French destroying commerce with worthless paper money, the spread of which would have ruined commerce.
Sat 18th Jan 1794
Unattributed appeal from a National Convention member:
The National Representatives no longer have liberty. We enacted a law for the formation of committees in each Section of Paris to watch over foreigners and other suspicious people. The committees were formed but their purpose was subverted. They have since elected a Central Committee (comprised of one member from each Section) which has suspended the constituted authorities of the capital city, named itself the Revolutionary Council of Paris and usurped dictatorial power.
This Council denounces the acts we take on behalf of the Republic. It plots against the Representatives, arrests people and surrounds itself with armed force.
On 27th May this council ordered the National Convention to suppress our Commission. On 31st May they sounded the conch shell and fired the alarm gun. On these signals the citizens armed themselves and surrounded the National Convention.
They accused 35 representatives of an old charge which had previously been unanimously rejected. The National Convention referred the matter to the CPS. On 1st June the Revolutionary Council marched on the National Hall and again demanded an accusation against the 35 members. The National Convention requested the Council to produce its proofs to the CPS. Since 30th May the roads are barred, administrators suspended, newspapers stopped, mails stopped and searched and resealed with the inscription ‘Revolution of 31st May 1793’ or ‘Committee of Public Safety’ (CPS).
On 2nd June, still with no proofs presented to the CPS, the council returned to demand the accusation of the 35. The National Convention ignored them. The Council then signalled the spectators in the gallery to get their guns to obtain by force what justice could never grant. One hundred cannons were trundled into position around the National Hall and heating equipment for the cannon balls was set up in Champs Elysees. Many deputies were insulted and jostled by Marat’s men. The battalions which were supposed to have gone to La Vendée suddenly arrived in the Hall and assignats and wine were given to them. The National Guard was incapable of confronting the troops and we all risked slaughter.
In these circumstances the Revolutionary Council demanded the report of the CPS. Barrere ascended the podium and proposed, as there was no evidence against the 35 accused members, that they voluntarily suspend themselves pro tem. Some complied. Then a decree was passed requiring the commander of the armed force to reveal who gave him orders. Violence started to break out and the decree was not complied with. The President then called an end to the sitting and walked out. He got as far as the middle of the court when the commander of the armed force ordered him to return. The President declined. Commander Henriot drew his sword and ordered his artillery to aim their cannon. The President then resumed the sitting and some members appeased the invaders by decreeing that Gesonne, Guadet, Brissot, Gorsas, Petion, Vergniaud, Salles, Barbaroux, Chambon, Bezot, Biroteau, Lidon, Rabaut, La Source, Lanjuinais, Grangeneuve, le Hardy, le Sage, Kervelegan, Gardieu, Boileau, Bertrand, Vigee, Mollevant, La Riviere, Gomaire and Bergoin (27 names, apparently of those who had not voluntarily resigned) should submit to house arrest.
On the suggestion of Marat, Couthon demanded that Valaze and Louvet be added to the list, to which some members assented. The deputation then tendered an equal number of citizens as hostages for the arrested members.
Men of France, your National Representation is no more. Rescue your liberty and sacred equality. Do not permit this usurpation of your rights. Reject all propositions tending towards Federalism. Unite and be firm or France is lost.
Remember Paris is not guilty of this crime. Its citizens have been made the blind tools of the plotters. Robbers and criminals have made themselves masters of Paris. They are devouring our capital city and our country.
Sat 22nd Feb 1794
Proclamation of the Lord Mayor of London:
In all former wars we have been concerned to extend our trade or our territory. This war is to preserve our political system, property and religion. Our enemy is determined. He wants to thrust Liberty on us but it is really slavery.
We expect Britain will, as usual, triumph over France, provided we are united. The City merchants, believing that the ‘Friends of the People’ are in fact enemies …. (article continues with parodies of the politicians Fox and Grey and of the lawyer John Frost, a ‘notorious democrat’, it says)
Sat 19th April 1794
Leiden Gazette, 15th Oct (Leiden is sited between Amsterdam and the Hague):
The Jacobins of the National Convention have obtained a decree (sought since June) that all members should keep their stations and no-one may leave the Tribunal. President Cambon ordered that sentinels be posted to enforce the decree.
Citizen Amar, who proposed the foregoing measure, then reported on Brissot’s faction of disaffected Girondois. The following decree was then passed:
The following members have conspired against the Republic and the liberty and safety of the French people: Anfrei, Antiboule, Bonnet (of Haute Loire), Boileau, Boyer, Bresson, Brissot, Brustard, Carra, Carritat, Chambon, de la Correze, de la Corse, Coustard, Delahaye, Doulcet, Ducos (of Gironde), Duchatel Duvais (of la Seine Inferieure), Dufriche, Duperret, Dupont, Vergniaux, l’Esterp Beauvais, Eveque (of Calvados), Fouchet, Fonsrede, Fremont, Gamon, Gardien, Gensonne, Grangeneure, Guadet, Hardy, Isnard, Lacarre (of Gironde), Lasource, Lidon, Mainvieux, Mazuyer, Mollevaux, Noel, Philip Égalité, Rouyer, Savary, Sehardi, Valadi, Valeze, Vallee, de Verite (49 names)
They are to be judged before the Revolutionary Tribunal. The trials will be consolidated with those of Beizot, Louvet and other members previously criticised by the Convention.
Anyone else who signed the Protests of 6th and 19th June is to be arrested, his papers sealed, and the CPS will report in each of those additional cases.
Sat 17th May 1794
French news, via London, 9th Nov 1793:
- The National Convention sat on 29th October. A Jacobin request that trials should conclude once the jury had made up its mind was approved. They feared Brissot et al would introduce all sorts of evidence in his defence to influence the Judge.
- On 31st Oct the National Convention was told 500 men are employed razing the fortifications of Lyon. The same day it was ruled that women be excluded from the political clubs.
Sat 26th April 1794
A letter from Alexander Isabeau Tallien of Gironde Assembly, 8th October:
We have arrested several counter-revolutionaries of Brissot’s clique in Bordeaux. We have proof most of the deputies of Calvados and la Vendée together with their Generals and Estate Majors are also in Bordeaux and we will catch them very soon. A young man named Mahon has been questioned and revealed the entire conspiracy.
The long drought in this area has reduced our provisions and retarded our efforts to purge the country of Federalists but still we labour night and day. The Bordeliers are mostly patriotic sans culottes and help us to unmask the traitors and hypocrites. We know the local scene and cannot be duped by appearances.
Sat 19th April 1794
On 1st November, the trial of the above members was concluded. Twenty two ex-members of the French legislature are convicted of the charges and sentenced to execution. Their property is confiscated to the national exchequer. On hearing the sentence, Valeze stabbed himself and died. The sentence of beheading was nevertheless carried out on his corpse.
Sat 24th May 1794
The denunciation of Brissot, based on his deeds belying his words:
He was made a member of the Committee of Vigilance of the Paris Commune on the recommendation of La Fayette, who was his patron. He was responsible for the ruin of French colonies and the murder of so many patriots, ordered by La Fayette, at the Champs de Mars. He wanted war in order to seize power and destroy the infant liberty of France.
On entering the National Convention he liaised with Condorcet and the Girondists in small matters in order to ride their popularity to power. He elicited the decision to declare war when the French army was in disarray and the frontiers unguarded (or guarded by servants of the ex-King). The Girondists protected Minister Narbonne whose measures would have lost us the war. Brissot defended Dietrich who was an accomplice of La Fayette and who offered to surrender Strasbourg to the enemy. He protected the traitorous generals and allowed patriotic Frenchmen to be sent to them to be killed. He tried to prevent the abdication of Louis XVI when the King was prepared to open France to its enemies.
Brissot’s accomplice Petion, whilst shut in the Tuilleries on the night of 10th August, instructed Mandat, commander of the Guard, to allow the people in, then shoot them. This was when Vergniaud and Gensonne agreed to defend Louis XVI on condition that the ministers Roland, Clavier and Servan were recalled. Petion and Lasource tried to send-off the patriots from Paris whilst Brissot, Kersaint and Rouyer gave bad advice to the King and promised to support him for which they solicited ministerial posts. The entire project to overthrow the revolution was initiated in the National Convention on 20th July by Brissot when he opposed the King’s abdication. He was a contrarian – a Republican under monarchy and a monarchist under the Republic.
When the Law Minister announced to the National Convention that the Parisians demanded the King forfeit his Crown, Vergniaud silenced the applause by saying they were entitled to their opinion but that it was necessary to preserve the King. Kersaint seconded Vergniaud’s motion. Then Guadet proposed to free Mandat, who had fired on the people, or, if Mandat was already dead, to send 12 Girondists to appoint his successor, thus keeping the Swiss Guard under their control.
In the sitting of 10th August, Vergniaud, Gensonne and Guadet in turn assumed the Presidency of the National Convention and, on the pretence of supporting the Constitution, they tried to save the King. When they realised they could not save the King, Vergniaud tried to have the King imprisoned at the Luxembourg, from whence his escape might have been more easily accomplished.
The entire group of Girondists were agents of the English whilst Carra was conspiring with the Court of Berlin. He proposed that the Duke of York marry a Princess of Prussia and become ruler of Belgium in place of the King of the French. In this way an attempt was commenced to place a foreign ruler on the throne of France. Carra and Sillery then approached Dumouriez to accomplish the plan by force. Dumouriez came suddenly to Paris to arrange (with Brissot, Petion, Guadet, Gensonne and Carra) his useless diversion into the Austrian Netherlands at the time when the Prussian army was disabled by disease and unable to protect itself. He thus misapplied French arms to permit the Prussians to recover.
Carra continued to promote the Duke of Brunswick as a friend of the people but could not get legislative approval for the Duke to come to Paris. In September 1792 he realised a new plan was necessary and proposed the National Convention, the Executive Council and the King all remove beyond the River Loire where they would be more accessible to the national enemies. Roland, Claviere and Lebrun all supported Carra in this proposal. They are also creatures of Brissot and his group.
Then the entire group was threatened with denunciation to the people. To protect their scheme, Carra and Sillery went to Dumouriez to require he negotiate with the Prussian King. The terms were the escape of the Prussian army in return for disarming of the Netherlands, thus making that country a place the conspirators could occupy and rule
Continued in the following edition:
Brissot’s group employed a hundred writers to misinform the nation as to the character of its representatives and the operations of the National Convention. They gave immense sums of money to Roland whose official function was to publish articles that formed a good public opinion of the national representatives and the National Convention officials, but who abused his office and employed a band of counter-revolutionary libellers. Roland, with Claviere and Lebrun, disseminated libel all over Europe, intended to vilify the revolution of 10th August. Roland intercepted and suppressed patriotic correspondence at the Post Office and suppressed the speeches of Republican members which had been ordered to be published by the National Convention. He edited and abridged speeches in such a way that their original meaning was obscured. Rabaut St Etienne in the Moniteur and Louvet in the Journal of the Debates also gave this treatment to patriotic speeches. The Tribunal, the President, the bar of the Convention were all calumniated. When new members arrived to take their places in the National Convention, Louvet, Barbaroux, Salles and Buzot immediately prejudiced them against the truest Republican members and slandered the National Convention itself. These wild accusations were prepared in the houses of Petion and Valeze at night and sanctioned in the house of Roland subsequently. They originated the proposal to surround the parliament with a Praetorian Guard. While a majority of members rejected this proposal, a good many were disturbed by their insinuations and provoked into proposing threatening resolutions. It was they who sent the troops against Paris. It was they who paid them.
A battalion of Marseillais forced entry to the chamber, insulted the peoples’ representatives and ran about the streets of Paris crying vive Roland, vive le Roi. Your faithful representatives were identified as anarchists and trouble-makers. They made Paris the enemy of all Departments in furtherance of their Federalist plans. Everything detrimental that has been published about our Revolution abroad has originated with these men.
The evidence against them is conclusive in respect of Louis XVI. They delayed discussion for several months; they vetted every scrap of paper before passing it to the legislature. Roland, without authority or witness or inventory, disposed of the papers found in the iron box at the Tuilleries thus concealing the transactions of the Girondists with the King. Very few papers survived but even these were diverted to a Committee of Inspection headed by Barbaroux, Valeze and Gardien. They leaked all sorts of nonsensical rumours about these papers but continually delayed completion of their inspection, thus delaying the debate on the King’s future until a measure of civil discord had been commenced. It was they who proposed to refer sentencing of the King to the Primary Assemblies, a procedure that would have taken many months. This pretence of submission to the sovereignty of the people was another ploy to delay a decision until the counter-revolution might become general.
Failing in this, they launched a 3-day filibuster in the Convention. Since then they have often had recourse to proposals to have the Primary Assemblies decide matters. This is to allow time for them to activate the malcontents and cause trouble. They had some success in the South of the country, where their faction was strongest, and raised rebellions in Marseilles, Bordeaux and Lyon.
Their constant refrain of threats of assassination and their repeated requests to the Departments for help, were intended to convince the Royalists that the revolution was unpopular and induce their intervention. They called the people to war against Parisians and against the Mountain. Had they succeeded in getting federal troops to the capital the revolution might have been lost. As it was, only Le Pelletier was assassinated for approving the death sentence on the King.
On 14th January Barbaroux ordered a battalion of Marseillais to surround the parliament. On 20th Jan Valadi invoked the service of Royalist battalions against the Mountain. He accompanied this with a poster urging citizens to exterminate Jacobins. At the end of January he wrote to his accomplices “be in arms tomorrow at the Convention; he is a coward who does not go there.” Buzot and Petion have confessed to the CPS that on 16th March they had 300 armed men ready to attack the Mountain. While the decision on Louis XVI was pending they openly forecast civil war if the King was executed. They forecast the condemnation of all Europe. Brissot even suggested the neighbouring powers should be consulted before executing the King. When the opposition in the British parliament was struggling against the influence of Pitt, it was Brissot who proposed to declare war on England, Holland and the other powers. Brissot’s faction invited Thomas Paine to be a representative of the French nation – he who said the death of Louis would be viewed with extreme dissatisfaction in America.
When they ultimately failed to save the King, they became involved in all the conspiracies with perfidious Generals, principally with Dumouriez in the Austrian Netherlands. They ruled in the committees and in the Executive Council. Gensonne kept up a daily correspondence with Dumouriez throughout; Petion was Dumouriez’s friend, the advisor of the Orleans faction and the intimate of Sillery. They celebrated Dumouriez in their Journals and supported his schemes. They justified his revolt on account of the Jacobin denunciations against him. Marat was assassinated by them after Dumouriez had threatened him. They praised the traitor Dumouriez in their paper Le Patriot Francais.
Sat 25th Jan 1794
Editorial – In England, a bold usurper (Cromwell) killed Charles II, paralysed ministers and took control of those who had opposed the King, making them first accomplices in his guilt, then slaves to his ambition. The English people were horrified. They soon perceived they had lost a sovereign and found a tyrant.
The French have now done the same. The Marseillais and other assassins in Paris were instigated and paid by a wastrel Hedonist (Égalité) to further his ambition to replace his near relative on the throne. The mass of the people, not knowing him, were led by a minority of disaffected provincials, who depended on him, to applaud his crime.
England wishes to redeem the French people and fix responsibility where it should lie. Cromwell gratified his ambition but did not disturb all Europe. On the contrary he used the pretext of freedom to increase the security and wealth of England and thus justify his crime. The English people were conditioned to suppose he had ended their serfdom. France should imitate Cromwell. The attempt to internationalise their Revolution will destroy the visionary fabric they have created.
When Cromwell died, we placed the dead King’s heir on the throne and many repented of their rebellion. Perhaps the French will also drive the usurpers out. They have enriched themselves by wreaking every species of suffering and infamy on the French people, formerly so enlightened, whilst earning the execration of the rest of Europe.
Sat 1st Feb 1794
Extract of a report by Chubot (of CPS) to the National Convention on the assassination of Marat:
The assassin is an elegant and beautiful young woman of 25 years with a commanding persona. Her family name is Corde (or Corday) and she lives near Caen. She wrote to Marat “I have come from Caen. Your patriotism suggests you will want to hear the news I bring. Please oblige me with an interview.”
She called yesterday morning and was refused; she came again in the evening and was admitted. Their conversation turned to the rebellion in Calvados and Marat said “It will not continue long, the traitors will soon be brought to the scaffold.” She instantly drew a poignard from her bosom and stabbed him through the heart. She tried to leave but was apprehended. After questioning, we told her she would be executed. She was contemptuous. She said she killed Marat for the good of the country. No-one else is involved.
On 14th July Robespierre proposed that Marat should have a hecatomb sacrificed to his manes. The sculptor Beauvalet was charged to obtain a mould of his face from which a bust or statue might later be made.
Sat 29th March 1794
Charlotte Corde, the lady from Caen who stabbed and killed Marat in his bath, was exultant on her arrest. When the news broke, the Section of Theatre Francois put itself under arms. She was firm and heroic to the end. She denied having accomplices, was proud of herself and insisted her Republican act had rid the country of its most dangerous enemy. Claude Fouchet, the accused member of the congress (he is the Caen representative), was afterwards confronted with her. He seemed bewildered. She was asked if Fouchet had introduced her to Marat. She denied it “I did not esteem him enough for that. I knew him at Caen as one knows any man one passes in the street.”
She was then executed. She refused a priest. An English eye-witness said she lacked the appearance of an assassin. She said she came to Paris to glorify herself by killing Marat. She was shown the dagger and said she bought it in the Palais Royale and plunged it into Marat. The authorities had difficulty bringing her to the scaffold as the market fisherwomen wanted to kill her. A cavalry unit prevented their intervention only by galloping up with raised sabres. She was serene and composed ascending the scaffold. She took off her bonnet and handkerchief but recoiled when the executioner came forward to tie her legs – “are you so bad as to expose me here?” she asked. “No, it is to bind you” he replied to which she assented. She was buried in the cemetery of the Church of St Magdelaine, not far from the grave of the King.
Sat 29th March 1794
Charlotte Corde’s letter to Barbaroux, one of the proscribed deputies of Caen:
“You wished for a narrative of my journey. On arriving in Paris, I lodged in Hotel de Providence in Rue des Vieux Augustines. I waited on your friend Duperret but know not how the CPS learned of my interview with him. He is a firm man and answered truthfully. His deposition confirms mine. They have nothing against Duperret but they will think his firmness a crime. I was nervous and persuaded him to join you but he is so headstrong so I resolved to execute my own project.
“Can you believe that Fouchet is imprisoned as my accomplice, he who never knew that I existed? They cannot tolerate that they have only an insignificant woman to sacrifice to the great Marat’s manes! Marat’s name disgraces all men. Thanks be to God that he was not born a Frenchman. His ferocious heart would have destroyed France in civil war. Now, long live peace.
“Four members of the National Convention interrogated me first. Chabot looked like a madman; Legendre thought he had seen me in his house that morning, as though he was competent to become the tyrant of the country. In any event I did not come to punish everyone. All those who met me for the first time pretended to have known me long ago.
“The last words of Marat have been printed but believe me, he said nothing (when I killed him). The last words he said, after I had given him all of your names and those of the administrators of Calvados at Evreux, were “in a few days I will have them all guillotined in Paris.” This was what impetuously decided me to kill him. The Department should lay his corpse facing St Fargeau with those words engraved in gold.
“What decided me completely was the events of Sunday 7th July when our volunteers decided to come to Paris to kill Marat. I was charmed and decided to make Petion repent his suspicions of my sentiments. He asked me if I would be sorry if they did not do the deed. On the contrary I felt the sacrifice of so many brave men would have resulted in the death of a good many citizens, all for the one man. Marat was not worth that sort of honour. It was appropriate for a woman to kill him alone.
“Of course, I had to deceive him to get admitted. When I left Caen I thought to kill him in the Convention but he no longer attends meetings. The Parisians cannot understand that one useless woman might sacrifice her life to save her country. I expected to die as soon as I had killed him but men of courage rescued me from the fury of his associates, whom I had impoverished.
“She who saves her country does not count the cost. A great villain has been subdued. Peace was impossible while he lived but these past two days I have been at peace. France’s happiness is my own. I expect they will torment my father who will already be afflicted by losing me. I told him recently that I feared a civil war and intended to go to England. That was my destination had I remained undiscovered after killing Marat. I doubted the Parisians could identify me let alone locate me.
“I entreat you and your colleagues to protect my parents. I only hated Marat. My spirit will find repose with Brutus and the other ancients in Elysian fields. Two light horsemen have been guarding me. It is very well in daytime but indecent at night but the CPS disregarded my complaint. It must be Chabot’s idea – none but a Capuchin would have thought of it. Goodbye.” Sgd Charlotte Corde.
Sat 8th Feb 1794
In the British parliament, the Phalanx has acquired the support of the Royal Duke of Clarence for Fox’s opposition to the war. The King’s brother has entered the debate against ministers.
Sat 8th Mar 1794
Lauderdale has presented the Lords with a petition of 40,000 names of Glaswegians praying for the opening of peace negotiations with France. An English county has similarly petitioned with 200,000 names.
Sat 22nd Feb 1794
The Swiss banker Neckar, who was employed by the French King to restore the national finances after the American War, has published his thoughts on war:
There are ambitious Kings and benevolent Kings. The King who devastates flourishing cities and leads many of his soldiers to their deaths is the victim of insatiable ambition. That is why he does it. Then his courtiers adulate him as he considers the casualty lists and the other human costs. Victory must be a melancholy thing to a thoughtful ruler. I wonder if he can sleep at nights. He is supposed to be the benefactor of mankind not the scourge. He vainly tries to excuse himself by attributing success to God. He revels in the splendour of his Court to prevent the feelings of shame from arising.
The benevolent King is concerned with the order of society. He knows good order produces happiness. By putting himself in the shoes of his subjects he understands their hopes and fears. He feels no shame for his whole life.
Sat 1st Mar 1794
Editorial – Men are inferior to women in all social graces. Women are more graceful, dignified, vivacious and varied in their conversation. Men focus on wisdom, learning and philosophy which they consider, like the secrets of Masonry, to be exclusively their own.
Women achieve their graceful distinction without the aid of a learned education. To what heights might they aspire if it was bestowed on them?
Sat 1st Mar 1794
It is a remarkable thing that the English King is possessed of a foreign city (Gibraltar) in the centre of another sovereign’s coast.
While England holds Gibraltar, it provides her merchants with peace and protection from the Barbary states. All other nations must pay an annual tribute for their merchant ships to enter and leave the Mediterranean. England has a fleet of 200 ships engaged in Mediterranean trade and pays nothing.
Sat 8th Mar 1794
Since the surrender of Valenciennes, the National Convention under President Barrere has decreed that the whole nation must unite to drive the enemy from the frontiers:
400,000 men of 16 – 25 years will be conscripted to form armies to effect this purpose. Another 400,000 will be conscripted from men 26 – 35 years old and progressively to the age of 50 years. Each conscription will be raised successively to fight campaign after campaign until the goal is achieved.
Children will be employed to make lint and bandages for the wounded; women will make tents and clothes for our soldiers; old men will march with and motivate the soldiers.
For arms, the nation will erect foundries for production of cannon. Muskets will also be made and fitted with locks precisely manufactured by watchmakers.
Editor – It seems that France will fight total war in the style of the Arabs and Tartars. When the recruitment centres opened they were overwhelmed (by hungry peasants who detected a regular meal in conscription) and had to be closed early.
Sat 8th Mar 1794
The National Convention has seized the Caisse d’Escompte and found 360,000 livres in it together with some London East India Company stock.
The Convention is debating applying the property of malcontented merchants to the war effort.
Sat 8th Mar 1794
War news – The French Republican General Servan has repeatedly defeated the Spanish troops at Perpignan. He has besieged Fontarabia and is expected to enter Spain soon.
A surprise British attack on Dunkirk has been beaten off with heavy allied losses and the Duke of York has retreated to Furnes. HRH Prince Adolphus was captured by the enemy and was a prisoner for some time. The naval force under MacBride arrived too late to help. Apart from the failure of British combined operations, there is dissension between the Duke of York, the Duke of Saxe-Cobourg and the King of Prussia.
When the extent of the Dunkirk defeat became known in London, a force of 3,000 men intended for the West Indies was diverted to the Duke (of York) to reinforce him.
The Russian Tsarina has failed to perform her engagements to provide troops and ships. Her quota of 25,000 – 30,000 men is unseen and her Baltic fleet of 9 ships-of-the-line and many frigates simply cruised from Petersburg to Denmark and then returned to their home port.
Prussia has ceased operations since reducing Mayence and complains of poverty. Prussia will fight only if it is paid to do so. German forces are predating on the countryside.
General Gaston’s army of Royalist counter-revolutionaries on and around the Loire has been dispersed.
Sat 22nd March 1794
We have new information from Europe up to the beginning of October 1793:
Pitt in the Commons has experienced more opposition to the war and any military setback increases popular support for peace negotiations. We have developed a too general practise of attaching culpability to our military defeats but Pitt’s politics are like the manoeuvres of a skilful general and are able to secure retreat when opposed by adversity. The government has control of the majority of the House and Pitt will unlikely be removed.
The protection of our Asian trade has been overlooked by Pitt, at a time when we often hear of the West Indian merchants applying for and getting sufficient force to protect their shipping.
Sat 19th April 1794
London Gazette, 29th October 1793 – the following Declaration to the French people by King George III, issued to the commanders of HM ships and armies and British ministers at foreign capitals, was published at Whitehall on 22nd October:
“The circumstances of our defensive war with France are well known as are our objects – to repel unprovoked aggression, to defend our allies, to obtain a just indemnity and provide for the future security of our people and other Europeans.
“We will employ all the resources of our dominions. We are supported by the zeal and affection of our people and the unquestionable justice of our cause. But it is apparent that the internal state of France obstructs the conclusion of a permanent treaty which alone can satisfy our objects.
“This Declaration is according addressed to the well-disposed part of the French population and lists our principles and objects and the means we will adopt to accomplish them. We are reassured by the confidence reposed in us by one of the most considerable cities of France (Toulon) and by the many Frenchmen who have sought a refuge in our domains. We hope the other powers allied with us in this common cause hold sentiments conformable to our own.
“From the very first, when Louis XVI assembled the representatives to concert measures for their happiness, he showed his sincerity and his deep affliction with the misfortunes that ensued.
“It became increasingly apparent that he could not continue pacific measures and must defend his rights and those of his allies to repel unjust aggression whilst at the same time preserving civil society as enjoyed by the nations of Europe. His intended reform of governmental abuses; of establishing personal liberty and property rights on a solid foundation; of securing the benefits of wise legislation and a mild administration of law – all these salutary intentions vanished before a system destructive of public order, maintained by proscriptions, exiles, confiscations, arbitrary imprisonments, massacres and ultimately the execrable murder of the just Sovereign and the illustrious Princess who shared the misfortunes of her royal consort.
The French people, so long expecting happiness, found themselves plunged into unexampled calamity. The neighbouring nations have been exposed to attacks of ferocious anarchy, the enemy of all public order, to violations of treaties, aggression without pretext and unprovoked Declarations of War. The institutions of society are subverted by corruption, intrigue and violence. This state of French internal affairs affects us all and endangers the fundamental principles of civilised society.
“We do not dispute the French right to reform their laws. Yours is an independent country and whatever form of government you wish to erect is up to you. Our interference relates to the threat France poses to the security and repose of other powers.
“It is for this reason that we demand the end of the anarchical system that has shown itself unable to discharge the primary duty of government to repress disorder and punish crime.
“It arbitrarily disposes of the property and blood of French citizens in order to disturb the tranquillity of the neighbours and renders all Europe the scene of the same crimes and misfortunes that characterise its internal rule.
“We demand a legitimate and stable government be established founded on justice and capable of performing its engagements with neighbouring states. We ardently wish to treat with that government for the re-establishment of peace. We wish to terminate the war which we vainly sought to avoid. The calamities that have befallen France are the result of the ambition, perfidy and violence of those who have brought misery to all our countries and disgraced Europe. We have no wish to war with the French people. We except those well-intentioned people, like the people of Toulon. We promise friendship to all Frenchmen who declare for monarchy and shake off the yoke of anarchy. We solicit your co-operation to put an end to this system and restore tranquillity in France and security in Europe. Join the standard of hereditary monarchy, not to decide in a moment all the modifications that this form of government is susceptible, but to unite yourselves under law, morality and religion and secure genuine liberty, moderate government and uninterrupted tranquillity.”
Sat 8th Mar 1794
Admiral Howe is said to have encountered a huge French fleet of 25 – 27 ships-of-the-line off Ushant and has retired to Torbay, his force being much inferior.
(this is explained in a later edition in a letter from an officer on HMS Edgar:
“When we located the French fleet we had the rocky shore of France (near Belle Isle) on our lee and the enemy to our windward. We tried to reach them but they sailed away. Had all our ships sailed well we might eventually have caught them but we failed. The Queen Charlotte, our fastest ship, made a reconnaissance. She got too far to windward and could not bring her guns to bear. We had the French in sight for over 30 hours but lost sight overnight on 1st August. Theirs was a superior force and might have engaged us but did not. They had the wind on one quarter and their own coast on the other.
“We later caught up with units of the fleet in Quiberon Bay. We drove a frigate on the rocks there. Lord Howe’s direction of our fleet was irreproachable.
“Whilst off Brittany we saw an engagement between Royalists and Republicans on land but could not determine who won.”)
Sat 15th March 1794
A rich Turkish resident of London has offered to build a mosque to collect the scattered Muslim community and reinforce their religion. Another learned Muslim, who came to England to study our arts and sciences, and who was early ruined by a gang of gentleman sharpers, is appointed Imam. The other Muslims in England are all deemed too poor to contribute to this work. The rich merchant will petition government for permission.
Editor – We have Roman Catholic churches, synagogues and the meeting halls of numerous Protestant sects. We hope there will be no ministerial reluctance to grant his petition.
Sat 15th March 1794
According to the Times of London, the Duke of Richmond has resigned from the cabinet and another member is also likely to leave. Addington wants to be a Secretary of State and Sir Gilbert Elliot wants to be Speaker of the House.
The Earl of Carlyle, Lord Malmesbury and some others, formerly of the Portland party, now refer to themselves as the Chancellor’s (Pitt’s) Friends and expect recognition in the new cabinet.
These private deals are ahead of parliament reconvening in mid-November.
Sat 22nd March 1794
France – A large group of working Parisians petitioned their Deputies on 4th September 1793 about the difficulty of getting bread:
“For two months we have patiently suffered, but the problem gets worse not better. A workman who works all day should not have to queue outside the bakery for half the night to get bread. If we cannot rest at night our work suffers” and they chanted ‘bread, bread, bread’ until Chaumette ran to the National Convention and alerted them. The working men were led to the Town Hall to debate the matter. Chaumette returned and reminded the workmen of the National Convention decree promising to fix the maximum prices of all necessaries of life. ‘We don’t want promises, we want bread’ they retorted. Chaumette took the part of the workers and harangued the Municipal officers who resolved to ensure a sufficient quantity of flour for tomorrow’s bread.
It was also agreed to demand the National Convention send the Revolutionary Army to those rural places from whence flour had ceased to be provided to Paris and arrest all capitalists who were preventing the grain being brought to market. This thought pacified the workers but it was also resolved that ex-Minister Garat and the former Administrator of Provisions (both of whom were considered culpable) should be put under house-arrest, guarded by sans culottes at 5 livres per day each. It was finally resolved that Parisians should not queue for bread before 4.30 am and that bakers should open their shops at 5 am. Each loaf sold in Paris is to weigh 5 lbs and to display a particular mark.
Representatives of three Sections then denounced an alleged plot to massacre Mayor Payche and a good many other public figures who are all popularly supposed to be implicated in withholding flour from Paris.
The following day Chaumette denounced a man known as the Tiger as the author of yesterday’s uprising. Several members supported Chaumette and the Tiger was sent to the Police office for examination.
Chaumette then denounced le Boeue for criticising the democratic syllabus devised for the education of Louis XVI’s son. The council resolved that le Boeue’s papers should be sealed and he himself sent to the Police office for questioning. A professor of Mazarin College was arrested for referring to ‘a King and a Queen’ in his lectures. Fremont, Masse and Leger were expelled from the Council as they are moderates and unworthy of a seat amongst sans culottes.
Sat 22nd March 1794
The Swedish ambassador to St Petersburg has delivered a State paper to the Russian Court:
“Commerce is essential to Sweden. That is why our country has adopted a policy of strict neutrality in the present war. The Duke Regent, on behalf of the infant King, does not favour the French but he favours the welfare of his nephew’s subjects. He has advised both you and the Court of St James that he hopes a way will be found for the allies to secure their aims without infringing on existing treaties or infringing on the rights of peaceful subjects.
“The Duke Regent is guided by principles of justice and humanity to his people and is confident the Tsarina shares his views. He hopes the Tsarina will issue orders to her armed ships like those issued by the British (copied to Grand Chancellor Sparre on 25th July). As Russia and England are allied by their interests, we naturally hope they will adopt similar measures.
“He particularly notes the ties of blood and the treaties of alliance connecting the rulers of Sweden and Russia.”
Sgd von Stedinck, Ambassador.
Sat 22nd March 1794
The officials of Basel have addressed the French General Vieusseux on 29th August:
We are less impressed by your threat than by your perseverance in continuing to doubt our word. We have promised neutrality. No belligerent will be permitted to cross our territory to attack another. What is it that you find suspicious about our promise? The force you have been provided with by the Cantons of Switzerland is inadequate to resist an invasion but you cannot expect a neutral state to raise a force capable of resisting all those neighbours who prefer to fight. It has always been the case that, if we raise 10,000 men, our neighbours will raise 15,000.
You complain the Austrians have made a new camp on the left bank of the Rhine. Have you forgotten how many camps you have made on our frontiers and which existence is the most likely reason for Austrian precautions? You say you will send Commissioners to the towns of our Canton to watch your enemies. We cannot permit it. If the Austrian general asks the same, our land will become filled with Commissioners watching each other and Helvetia would bear no resemblance to a neutral country. We commend you to weigh the consequences of hostile measures against us. You may force us to depart from the neutrality we have proclaimed but we will do so unwillingly and you will answer for it. This letter is approved by all the representatives of the Helvetic assembly.
Sat 29th March 1794
London news: 3% consols are at 75 which is considered very good for wartime.
Sat 5th April 1794
News from France – A war council at Valenciennes has heard the Duke of York say the only way to end the war and save the French Queen is to march on Paris. The Duke noted France has few defensive forces in Paris and it is only 40 leagues away. He thought the allies could arrive before the French could assemble a workable defence. He proposed to then dismiss the National Convention. He offered to do the job with 45,000 men. General Otto agreed and volunteered his Hungarian force.
The bold stroke would leave strong fortifications in the rear. Everyone else demurred but were eventually won over. The Duke however only got 30,000 men and must rely on Saxe-Cobourg for support with 40,000 men. It was agreed to use the road through Campiegne in order to take control of the River Oise.
The agreed plan was notified to Brussels where the émigré Count de Mercy instantly disapproved it and required the fortifications taken before all else.
Sat 12th April 1794
The type of government adopted by France has caused some of us to assume it is weak. We should note from history that cabals are inevitable in democratic systems. The people resign their liberty and allow their political opinions to sleep so long as they are paid-off. This is the present situation in France.
Note the parallel of England and France with Rome and Carthage. Montesquieu has finely drawn the picture:
‘The Romans were ambitious from pride, the Carthaginians from avarice; the former would command, the latter acquire; and by this last, incessantly calculating receipts and expenditure, they carried on a war without ever loving it.’
The crucial calculation of the present ministry is ’what is to be gained from war?’ This pragmatic approach has won Pitt a rare level of support. France has no longer any commerce we can plunder and the military attractions of the feudal system have been ended. Raising the sword of Justice costs money and we cannot be certain of recovering the expense. What is to be gained? 
Sat 19th April 1794
War news from London, 22nd October:
Three men – the Duke of Gloucester, Sir George Howard and General Conway – have been appointed Field Marshals of England, a title rarely conferred. Numerous Colonels and Generals have been promoted. Infantrymen are being recruited throughout the country.
Sat 19th April 1794
The National Convention has amended the French dating system. The vulgar dating is abolished. Time in France commenced on 22nd September 1792, the autumn equinox, and dating starts from midnight on that day. There will be twelve months of 30 days each. The five residual days belong to no month. The 30-day month will be divided into three 10-day periods to be called the 1st, 2nd and 3rd decades. The names of the 5 spare days, the 12 months and the 3 decades are scheduled to this decree. The intercalary day every fourth year will be called the Francic and every fourth year will be known as a Franciad. The intercalary day will be placed after the 5 complimentary days and known as ‘la Revolution’. On that day civic games will be held in commemoration of our Revolution.
The period from midnight to midnight is divided into ten parts, each of which is sub-divided, always by ten, to the smallest unit of time. The new calendar will be distributed to the municipalities, administrative bodies, tribunals etc., and all official correspondence shall from henceforth indicate the new date. All school teachers are to instruct their pupils accordingly. The calendar will be forwarded to all French missions overseas.
The Cologne Gazette says the names of the new months reflect aspects of the usual French weather or productions at that time of year. The five complimentary days will be called ‘sans culottides’ and will be national holidays. The people will successively celebrate virtue, genius, labour, opinion and recompense on these days. On the intercalary, as well as holding national games, the French people will renew their pledge to live as freemen or die.
Sat 26th April 1794
The children at the English College of St Omer are safe. Stapleton, the President of the College is not. He has been charged with interfering in political matters, but none of his teachers are implicated or are indeed English nationals.
Three lads who escaped from the English College at Douai say there were 150 English students at the school at the outbreak of war but this had reduced to 50 when the National Convention decreed that all Englishmen in France were to be arrested in response to the execution of the Toulon Deputy. The college buildings and its property were seized and the students transferred to the Scottish College in the town centre. During the removal, these three students made their way to the allied lines.
Sat 2nd Nov 1793
The National Convention is still unable to incriminate the Queen. They have searched her papers without result. She daily leaves her hair undressed and unbrushed to testify to her grief. At a recent dinner her hair fell forward towards the plate and she used her right hand, carrying the knife, to push it back. The guards feared she was about to kill herself and laid hands upon her.
“Gentlemen be calm” she said, “that (throat cutting) is a crime which I reserve for the French patriots to commit.”
Sat 29th March 1794
From Paris we hear a paid crowd assembles outside the National Convention daily and brays for the head of the Queen. On all sides an ominous feeling of impending horror is manifested.
Sat 15th March 1794
A new song has been presented in an Oratorio at Covent Garden theatre. The words are by Rev Jones of Dibden, Hants and the music by Storace. It was sung by Mrs Crouch and captures the tragedy of Marie Antoinette during her confinement in the tower of the Temple:
|”See Austria’s daughter, Gallia’s Queen,
With haggard face and alter’d mien,
A captive wretch, unknown, unseen
Amidst this sad captivity.
These suppliant hands to Heaven I spread
Heaven guard my unprotected head
Amidst this sad captivity.
|“When, as my babes lie hushed in sleep
Their couch in briny tears I steep
Hang o’er their lovely forms and weep
Amidst this sad captivity.
Victim of anguish and despair
How grief has changed my flowing hair
How wan my wasted cheek with care,
Amidst this sad captivity.
|“Now fancy paints my murdered Lord
I see the assassins blood-stained sword,
The lifeless trunk, the bosom gored
Amidst this sad captivity.
To thee O King of Kings I cry
To thee I raise the streaming eye
And heave the penitential sigh
Amidst this sad captivity.”
This song threw the audience into a state of exquisite distress. Several ladies fainted; others became hysterical. Not a dry eye was seen in the house. This is a good record of the sentiment and feeling of the British nation.
Sat 26th April 1794
Trial of Marie Antoinette of Lorraine and Austria, 15th October:
She is charged, jointly with Calonne, with:
- wasting French money by sending several million Livres to the Austrian Emperor who may be using the money to war against us;
- conspiring against the liberty of the French people;
- permitting the starvation of the people in 1789;
- exciting the murders of 5th and 6th October;
- concerting with La Fayette and Bailly to massacre the patriots at Champs de Mars;
- prevailing on the Swiss Guard to fire on the people on 10th August, and
- committing incest with her son.
Laurent Lecointre said the Gard du Corps started the shooting on 5th and 6th October.
Jean-Baptiste Lapierre said he is a major of the National Guard. He was at the Chateau on 20th June 1791 (the flight to Varennes) and heard that the aristocrats proposed to carry off the Royal Family that night. He was vigilant but saw nothing. The Queen said she left the Chateau alone. She saw La Fayette in his carriage at the Square du Carrousel at 11.30 pm. She forgot if she had seen him earlier.
Rousillon, then Judge of the Tribunal, intervened:
“All the facts are notorious and we do not have time to spend on them. This woman is guilty. She has always conspired against the French people. On 10th August I myself was at the Tuilleries and saw many full and empty bottles under her bed. I knew she had given wine to the Swiss Guard so these intoxicated soldiers might assassinate people. I had instantly resolved to kill the Guard major and all the Royal family but Brissot and Gaudet conjured me not to do so.”
The President asked the Queen for her comments on Rousillon’s speech. “I do not know him and do not understand what he means,” she replied.
The witness Hebert said:
I was a Commune member on 10th August, responsible to discharge the prisoners of the Temple. I recognised their spirit of rebellion against national authority. I searched the Queen and found a copy of the Ritual in her pocket. Within this book was an image the counter-revolutionaries use – it was a heart with the inscription Cor Jesu miserere nobis. Mdm Elizabeth had a man’s hat. She said it was the King’s but his was in his chamber. These possessions made me suspicious.
Then the patriotic sans culotte Simson told me he had surprised the King’s child masturbating. He asked the boy who had instructed him in that way. He said it was his mother and aunt. As a result of their initiation, he had ruptured himself. I believe the Queen sought the debauchery of the boy, knowing he would one day be King, so that she might control him.
You should remember that since the death of Louis XVI, the child is regarded by the Queen and his aunt as King. They sat him at the upper position of the table for meals and paid him respect and homage. They always walked behind him.
The Queen responded:
‘the image was a figure of devotion that was given to my daughter. My sister assured me the hat was given to her by her brother. And as a mother I always give preference to my son.’
The prosecutor asked the Queen if citizen Michouis had brought a pink into the prison in which was enclosed a billet. The queen agreed. The prosecutor asked who passed this billet to you, what did it say, did you reply?
The Queen had forgotten his name. The billet said he had been imprisoned and escaped; he offered money and said he would return on Friday. I replied by using a pin to prick letters on the billet, telling him the guards were attentive and I could not communicate with anyone. I was startled by this individual because of the risk he ran.
As another witness was being called, a Juror demanded the Queen answer that accusation, proof of which rested on her son’s evidence. The Queen chose to remain silent, saying all nature views masturbation with abhorrence. She turned to the Assembly and appealed to all mothers ‘is such a crime possible?’
The Tribunal then ordered that Count d’Estaing and Citizen Percival, who were implicated by the evidence of Lecointre, should be brought to the bar.
NB – The trial continued for three days. She was found guilty and executed. After sentence had been read, the two defence counsel (Chaveau and Trousson de Coudrey) were arrested and sent to the Luxembourg for ‘debriefing’ for 24 hours – it was thought they might know something more. Chaveau said his meeting with the Queen lasted ¾ hr and was in the presence of four others in the same room. She spoke to him only of her trial. He recalled one faintly interesting thing she said was ‘I fear no-one but Manuel.’ Trousson de Coudrey said she gave him two pieces of gold and a lock of hair for Piorris who lives at Livry and is her particular friend. It was resolved to release the two counsel.
Sat 3rd May 1794
The Revolutionary General Doppet has written from Lyon to the Minister of War at Paris, dated 9th October 1793:
I have surrounded this rebellious city. The Army of the Alps has been of no assistance, indeed its General does not answer my letters.
First I secured the heights surrounding the city. On 29th September we took four redoubts, nine cannon and many prisoners, amongst whom the Bishop of Lannorette. Yesterday I commenced my assault and in the evening Commissioners of the rebels asked to surrender. We then took possession of the enemy’s remaining positions and, this morning, entered the city.
The counter-revolutionary chiefs and their army of 30,000 men (plus artillery) has fled but it is unlikely they can go far. I have set up my headquarters in the Peoples’ Hotel.
PS – whilst writing this I am informed that most of the rebel Generals have been killed and we have captured the treasure they sought to abscond with.
The National Convention, in debating this news, found it surprising that such a large body of men could escape, undetected by the local Commissioners. No member offered to vouchsafe for General Doppet. The CPS was asked to enquire into the matter.
(In the next edition the editor notes that the CPS ordered the counter-revolutionaries of Lyon to be punished under army law. All the inhabitants will be disarmed. Every house inhabited by a merchant will be destroyed (this rebellion was instigated by capitalists). The name of Lyon will be effaced from the list of cities of France. The place will henceforth be called Ville Affranchie (freed city). A column will be erected on the remains of the merchant quarter to attest to the crimes of the Royalists and will have this inscription:
|Lyon warred against Liberty.
Lyon is no more.
The 18th day of the 1st month,
Second year of the French Republic,
One and indivisible.
The popular representatives will nominate commissioners to make a list of the property of the rich and the counter-revolutionaries of Lyon so the resolutions of the National Convention may be executed.
Sat 3rd May 1794
The Jewish community at Avignon has its own cemetery. This autumn (1793) they have held a disproportionate number of burials. At one recent ceremony, the pall-bearers were overwhelmed by the weight of the coffin, and against vigorous protests of grieving relatives, it was opened by suspicious officials revealing gold and silver. A mass exhumation followed and an immense amount of specie was recovered and sent to the mint.
Sat 10th May 1794
London Editorial – We are unsure who forms the French government. The group that did so a few months ago (Bailly, Brissot, et al), has been decapitated and a new party has arisen. The causes of the change are not apparent. The attitude of the House of Commons to the operation of French principles and the ‘Empire of Reason’ is yet to be ascertained. All English people within France are detained until the end of the war. No relief is expected. A National Convention member who proposed less rigor was criticised by the CPS.
Sat 10th May 1794
- The furniture from the Palace of Rambouillet has been sold for 590,000 livres. 250,000 lbs of iron has been stored for future use. 600 mattresses and blankets are retained for hospitals. Some tapestries and glasses are also retained. 250 lbs of gold and silver items are sequestrated to the state. A flock of Spanish sheep, found in the gardens, has been passed to farmers to improve their stock.
- The Commissioners of Rambouillet, who made this report, also mention an Englishman they caught travelling as a soldier under a forged passport purportedly issued by the French War Ministry.
- The representative of La Manche reports his people have successfully made bread from potato flour and found it very nourishing. He has explained potato farming and commended its cultivation to his people. The National Convention has instructed the committee of agriculture to investigate its application nationwide.
Sat 10th May 1794
French news of October and November 1793:
- Lacombe St Michel, a representative from Corsica reports 2nd November that the English tried to cut his communications with St Florent, which they attacked by land and sea, following a plan of Paoli. Leonetti led the Royalist land forces. They had four cannon and attacked for two days. Eventually we succeeded in driving them back into their ships. They lost 17 men. We lost none but many of our men are sick and only 200 are fit for duty.
- 7th November – Bishop Gobet of Paris and his clergy etc., attended at the bar of the Assembly and announced they had renounced religion. The President congratulated and embraced them. Over the following days numerous other clerics, including the Abbe Sieyès, arrived and made the same announcement. Chaumette, on behalf of the commune of Paris, welcomed the advent of Reason over superstition and proposed that one day in the new Calendar should be known as the Day of Reason.
The following day a letter of 2nd November from the representatives at Rochefort was read. ‘Eight Catholic and one Protestant priest have abjured religion and promised, before their congregations, to preach only sound morality in future. They sealed this oath by burning their letters of priesthood. A copy of the Rights of Man and the Constitutional Act have been placed in the temple. There are no complaints but a Revolutionary Tribunal is established to scare the aristocrats and make tyrants tremble.’
Andre Dumont, Deputy of La Somme, has appeared before the National Convention. He took 500 silver statues of saints worth 61,283 livres from the priests of Picardy and deposited them in the national treasury – “they called me an apostate” he complained. ‘The priests now use wooden candlesticks and the people seem pleased’, he added. The Convention members applauded.
M. David, the famous painter, said ‘it would be glorious to raise a monument on the Pont Neuf to symbolise the triumph of people over Kings and reason over religion.’ He suggested that the fragments from the destruction of the statues of Kings be used for the plinth to the monument, thus tangibly illustrating the supremacy of people over Kings. The symbol of the French people (in this proposed monument) should hold the standard of Liberty and Equality in one hand and the Club (with which to subdue its enemies) in the other. Its forehead should be inscribed Light, its bosom Nature & Truth, its arms Force and Courage. It was so decreed.
- In July 1789, the sans culottes paraded in triumph carrying a bust of the Duc d’Orleans. Now (1793) they have executed him. He was found guilty of conspiracy against the liberty of the French people and beheaded to the cry vive la Republic and Perissent les traitres et les tyrans. Those partisans who were the recipients of his lavish bribery (given at the expense of his creditors) were not in evidence.
- Paris 6th November – The remittance of funds to French enemies is proscribed and no banker dare evade the Decree.
Published news from London 8th November says the French have amassed a great fleet of warships and transports at Brest and an invasion of England may be in prospect. We do not know if the troops sent to Ostend and Nieuport under Sir Charles Grey are recalled home or sent to West Indies.
Sat 10thMay 1794
More news of the war:
- Since our eviction from Toulon, the émigrés have proposed a combined allied expedition against St Malo. Admiral McBride and the Earl of Moira will respectively command the sea and land forces. They will assist the Royalists who have some popular support in the St Malo hinterland.
- Another combined force under Admiral Sir John Jarvis and General Sir Charles Grey has sailed for the West Indies. It seems war will continue for another season.
Sat 17th May 1794
Editorial (based on a review of ‘Remarks on a National Militia’ by Mr Young):
British landowners have been raising militias from amongst their tenants. They appeal to patriotism. The feeling is spreading throughout the Empire. At last, the national spirit is being roused. Those desperate people, who wish to overthrow our Constitution under the pretence of political reform, are retreating. We will not submit to ‘invincible mobs’.
We have been fortunate, in so far as the French infection is concerned, as we had an opportunity to assess it before it could take root here. If we wish to protect property, we will avoid the miseries of France. Do not listen to Jacobins – their reforms produced massacres and disorder. We must not stake everything we have on a desperate revolution. Instead we should support the Constitution, ignore reform and Trees of Liberty which are merely symbolic of Jacobin confusion, and resist. Equality is the ruin of all authority. Reformers are anarchists. Do not trust them. The prosperity of England is incompatible with French principles.
These Jacobins are tricky. They do not declare themselves but act secretly through our opposition MPs and our reformers, whose hopes all reflect Jacobin views. Mere Oaths of Loyalty are insufficient. We must firmly oppose every attempt at reform based on more power to the people. It is not the blood-stained Jacobin rioter that we should fear but the gentlemanly reformer who asks for just a little, knowing how to turn a little into a lot. Resist every attempt to change the Constitution. It protects you and gives you wealth. We should petition parliament to ban all meetings and Clubs. We should suspect every proposition that does not originate in our parliament. Is there a single man of property who is not convinced by our arguments? France has been laid in the dust by her innovations. What England needs is a militia of propertied rank and file.
Popular tyranny will spread unless we act against it. Every civilised country relies on the dregs of its citizens to form its soldiery – people who like fighting and plundering. We cannot allow such people to assume positions of authority. The danger is too formidable to palliate. French principles must fail in the long run. We must defend property.
This novel idea of dividing wealth equally is sweet to the great mass of humanity. There are enthusiasts in every country and nowhere more so than in the ranks of the armies. This is why we must secure property by arming ourselves in militias against the mischievous example of France. We need a law requiring all landowners who support our Constitution to agree to instantly assemble their tenants in regiments ready to oppose anarchy.
The landowners of Kent have proposed the following funding of militias in specified cases:
- That 3 men and 2 women who have lived at least 5 years under the same master and given satisfactory service shall produce 2 guineas each = £10.10.0
- 4 farm labourers who have worked for the same master for at least five years, and given satisfactory service, shall produce 2 guineas each – £8.8.0
- 4 farm labourers, and the widows of two others, with at least six legitimate children of 6+ years brought-up without parish assistance, 2 guineas each = £12.12.0
Sat 17th May 1794
The guillotine, supposedly invented by a French doctor of that name, is known in England as the Maiden. It was used in Halifax, Yorkshire in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, where 25 criminals were beheaded between 1623 – 1650, after which the privilege was withdrawn.
The device in Yorkshire was then dismantled but there is still one in Scotland in the Parliament House at Edinburgh on which the Regent Moreton was decapitated.
Prints of similar devices can be seen in old books going back to 1510 – Holinshed’s Chronicles has an example. The Halifax Maiden is shown on old maps of Yorkshire, e.g. Mole’s map of 1720.
Sat 24th May 1794
France – The Commissioners of L’Alliers have told the National Convention that their region is regenerated. They say religious festivals have been replaced by civil feasts and banquets; the Bishop of Moulins has abandoned his cross and mitre for a pike and a red cap, and the cemetery gates have been inscribed “death is an eternal sleep”.
The people say that the fall of the King was the pre-condition for the Republic; the fall of the priests, the pre-condition for liberty, and that revolutionary armies rob the rich to support the patriotic defenders of the country.
The Commissioners donated to France 46 marks of silver and a golden cross weighing 10 marks set with diamonds.
Sat 24th May 1794
Lord Moira’s letter of 9th December notifying his failed invasion of France from the Channel Islands:
The Royalists are being defeated all along this coast which is now well defended by Republican troops and cannon. The proposed invasion is abandoned. We expect to be reassigned to Toulon or the West Indies. The regiment drawn from Flanders will likely return to Ostend. There are four large French warships cruising off Guernsey which will intercept our transports should we venture out. It is said two émigré regiments will winter on Guernsey and the rest will go to Portsmouth.
Sat 24th May 1794
- The metal shops of Paris had been successfully turned into arms manufacturers and 1,000 muskets are being made every day. The furnaces are casting four cannon per day. Six sample muskets were presented, entirely made in Paris, and found to be effective. The manufactory of Moulins, which was established two years ago, is yet to produce one gun. Its failure is to be widely published.
- The Frerejians Cannon foundry at Lyon had buried 100 cannon rather than let them be taken by the Royalists. Earlier they had been ordered by the rebels to cast heavy cannon but had instead destroyed their furnaces. This was responsible citizenship. Agreed the example should be sent to the Committee of Instruction to publish nationally.
- The commissioners of the Lower Rhine have made workable plans for clothing the troops. Their colleagues are finalising plans for an expedition against England.
- The Minister for Marine said a British frigate had gone aground off Montreuil-sur-Mer. Ten crew drowned and the rest were imprisoned. Another British frigate had been captured by the Brest fleet together with several English merchantmen. The port of Brest was entirely faithful to the principles of the Mountain. The Captain of the English frigate had asked to be sent home. The National Convention considered that, if they were to follow the example of Admiral Hood (commanding at Toulon), they could not release the officer but a free people are not so callous. He may leave.
Sat 24th May 1794
- Lacombe St Michel, the representative sent to Corsica, reported from Calville on 5th October that the English had attacked St Fiorent but been beaten off. 2 ships-of-the-line and a frigate approached and landed some troops who occupied a fort, routing the garrison of 600 men.
“This success encouraged them to believe they might occupy the entire gulf of St Fiorent but we counter-attacked and drove them out. At the same time Paoli attacked the village of Patrimonio but our garrisons at St Fiorent and Barhagio responded and drove him away. In spite of these checks the enemy persevered and their ships attacked Fort Leli. Our barrage set fire to one ship which was hors de combat for two days. They then left the gulf which coastline is now littered with their landing ships and equipment. Paoli is said to be sick.”
Lacombe concludes, the enemy has been beaten at Dunkirk, surrounded at Toulon, and now driven from Corsica.
- Dethays was voted a reward of 6,000 livres for various useful inventions in naval mechanics.
- Levasseur proposed that the new civil code be perfected and it was agreed that CPS should fix six members with the responsibility. Lecointre Puraveaux proposed that the new code should allow married women to co-manage the common property of their marriages. Agreed.
From about this time, a suspicion was growing in London that the émigré nobles and clergy no longer had the domestic support to overthrow the new government. They looked at the results of Dumouriez’s planned replacement of the National Convention, the abortive action at Dunkirk, Hood’s occupation of Toulon and Moira’s invasion of Brittany and concluded that whilst the Bourbons still had access to information, they lacked the internal support to use it. Nevertheless, the French nobility continued to receive strong support from all the European Kings and their increasingly wild plots were supported as adjuncts to renewed coalitions.
Sat 24th May 1794
Summary of the Declaration of the Natural, Civil and Political Rights of Man. These are liberty, equality, security, property, the social guarantee and relief from oppression. These rights form the basis of the social compact and underpin the French Constitution:
- Liberty is the ability to do anything that does not diminish the rights of others. It requires submission to law based on the general will. Whatever is not proscribed is allowed. Everyman can express his own thoughts and opinions. The Liberty of the Press cannot be limited. Every citizen is free in the exercise of his religion.
- Equality is the enjoyment of all these rights by all citizens equally. The law must be equal whether it rewards or punishes, whether it protects of oppresses. All people have the right of access to all public places, employments and functions. Instead of preference there may only be talents and virtues.
- Property rights allow every man to control his capital, revenue and industry. No type of commercial activity may be forbidden to him. Everyman may sell his services but no man may sell himself. No property may be taken from another without his consent. In cases of public necessity, full indemnity must be provided. Tax must be applied to the general utility and to supply public wants and to no other purpose. All citizens have a right to concur personally in the extent of their contributions.
- Security is the protection of every citizen – of his life, property and rights. No-one may be arrested, detained, accused or tried except in conformity with law and in the prescribed forms. All other police action is null. Those promoting null police acts are themselves culpable. Citizens exposed to nugatory police acts may resist and offer force against force. Every citizen restrained by legal process must submit. The enforcement officers may use only such force as is necessary to achieve their ends. Every man is presumed innocent until found guilty. No law may be applied retrospectively. Punishments will be proportioned to the offence. They should benefit society.
- Social Guarantee: Education is a right of all citizens. Public welfare is characteristic of society and the law determines its extent and application. The social guarantee of these rights rest on national sovereignty which is indivisible and inalienable. It resides in the whole population and every citizen has an equal right to concur in the exercise of it. No individual or group of individuals can arrogate sovereignty or authority without being formally delegated such powers. The social guarantee relies on the law precisely limiting the extent of public functions. The law assures the responsibility of all public functionaries. All citizens are bound to concur in this guarantee and to uphold the law whenever called upon to do so.
- Relief from oppression: Men in society ought to have the means to resist oppression. Oppression is when the law violates the natural, civil or political rights listed above. Oppression is when the public functionaries violate law. Oppression is when arbitrary acts violate the rights of citizens. Resistance to oppression is legal and will be regulated by law.
The constitution may be revised by citizens.
One generation may not subject future generations to its laws.
All hereditary offices and functions are categorised as tyrannical.
19th/20th January 1793
The brig Russian Bear (Alarick) sailed from London for St Petersburg taking a cargo of woollens and a marble bust of Charles James Fox for the Tsarina.
It transpired that the cabin boy’s father was a chandler in Wapping who had bought a hundredweight of waste paper, being unsold copies of Paine’s Rights of Man, some part of which the boy brought on board as kindling for the galley fire. He gave the cook several sheets to bake a pie but for want of some ingredients the pie was not made and the paper was thrown away. A literate black sailor picked one piece up and astonished his crew-mates with the revelation that all men were born free, that a cobbler might be King and that all authority was a usurpation of basic human rights. The enlightened crew accordingly declared the ship a commonwealth and proposed to take command.
Alarick remonstrated with them – ‘even a commonwealth must have a head’ he said – and offered to command the vessel.
The men demurred. They preferred Charles James Fox and had the bust brought on deck and attached to the ‘head’ of the ship. A riotous party ensued for several days until mental stupefaction permitted Alarick and the Mate to fetter the Rights of Man by securing the ringleaders and thus exact obedience from the rest.
The ship put in to a Mediterranean port (during the brief flowering of democracy it was decided that the ship might go where the crew pleased), exchanged the crew for Spaniards and resumed its intended voyage. The only casualty was Mr Fox who sustained facial wounds – ‘rights of man forever’ on his forehead; ‘a downfall to all crowned heads’ on one cheek, and ‘may democracy triumph’ on the other.
Alarick surmised the Tsarina would receive the bust as an insult instead of a compliment but felt obliged to deliver the goods according to the Bill of Lading.
Sat 24th May 1794
All the British wine merchants at Bordeaux have been arrested. They are confined in separate rooms at night with access to a large communal garden during days. Their papers have been sealed.
Sat 24th May 1794
- The ambassadors from Prussia and England have again protested to Sweden at the quantity of grain and military stores going to France. A fourth fleet of transports is fitting-out in Swedish ports and a large volume of assignats are circulating at Stockholm. Denmark is also an important supplier of grain to France.
- A Papal envoy named Charles Erskine is coming to London (necessarily in a private capacity) to thank the King and His ministers for their support in the present war.
Sat 24th May 1794
Genoa – Josef Doria is elected Doge of Genoa. He was reluctant to accept the job as Genoa, Tuscany and all the states of Italy, whilst close neighbours of France, are under intense British pressure to declare war on the Revolution.
Genoa’s best course is to be neutral because of its great investment in French funds. It is also in continuous dispute with the King of Sardinia, a French enemy and thus English ally, over the alignment of the Tuscan land frontier with Genoa.
The English minister at Genoa wishes the Doge to settle his dispute with Sardinia. He says now England occupies Toulon she can cut communications between Genoa and France and protect the smaller state. It will be hard for Genoa to resist a great maritime power like England, particularly as a British war fleet has already entered her port.
Sat 7th June 1794
Louis XVI’s brother Stanislaus Xavier has written to General de Broglio requesting him to distribute the following letter to all the European towns where émigrés reside:
I have just learned of the execution of the Queen. My grief can only be alleviated by your conduct as true Frenchmen. Redouble your zeal in the service of our new young King so we may soften the severity of his losses and expunge the stain on France’s name. The sacrifice of our lives in this endeavour is small price to pay.
Sat 21st June 1794
Editorial – There seems little prospect of an early peace. When Stanhope proposed it in the House of Lords he could find no seconder amongst his colleagues.
Its because the war is going well for us just now.
The French have been driven out of the Netherlands back within their own frontiers and we have a few of their strongest frontier towns in our possession. If we make peace now we have to return not only these towns but all the French colonies we have captured in West Indies, all the French ports in India and the French fisheries on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. We will no longer monopolise the productions of these captures.
The disturbed state in Europe has focused attention on France and encouraged the Russians to provoke hostilities with the Turks. Both those countries are reinforcing their frontiers and the Turks are on the brink of declaring war. The Russians are willing to fight and contemplate an incursion into Moldavia to invest Chockzim and Bender before the Turks can reinforce the garrisons.
Sat 21st June 1794
Earl of Moira’s address to the House of Lords explaining the difficulty in invading France via Brittany:
“I was appointed to one job (with the India Company), then the proposed invasion of France came up and I elected to do that first.
“I received H M’s orders on 17th November 1793 and arrived at Portsmouth 1st December. Some émigrés from the Royalist army, who left Brittany 10th November, arrived 25th November with the coded signals that the Royalists would make on our arrival off the coast. These signals would indicate where our landing was to be made. The fleet arrived off Cherbourg on 2nd December and sailed along the coast without receiving any signal.
“We then sailed to Guernsey from whence I sent a series of emissaries by boat to the Royalists in France. I learned that on 14th November the Royalists had attacked Granville, been defeated and retired to the Loire with some large part of the troops diverting to Caen in Normandy. We heard the Guernsey road (to Carteret) had been washed out by storms.
“I sailed from Guernsey intent on joining-up with the Royalists at Caen. For this purpose I appointed numerous émigré officers to commands in the British army for their local knowledge and language skills – these were chiefly 2 aides-de-camp, a French Secretary and a Quarter-Master General. If I am thought to have acted wrongly, I will pay those men from my own pocket. The Royalists told me they had sufficient artillery but no men to operate the cannon. I therefore called for French artillery men from Flanders to join the expedition although I had no authority to do so. I pray their names be concealed as their families still live in France. I excuse ministers from all responsibility for my appointment of French officers to my invasion force.”
Lauderdale said the appointment of French officers in British army units required the consent of parliament. Ministers had given Moira no assistance or directions and still remained silent.
Grenville said the responsibility for Moira’s acts must lie with ministers and he thought they were legal and constitutional acts.
The Earl of Guildford tried to speak but was overruled by the Speaker.
Sat 21st June 1794
George III’s invigorating address to both Houses, 22nd January 1794:
“If we lose this war we will lose our Constitution, our law, our religion and the security of our civil society.
“We are doing well in the North.
“In the South our diversions across the Pyrenees and at Toulon have been successful. We have withdrawn from Toulon after striking a severe blow to the French marine.
“The French have lost their Newfoundland fisheries and many of their colonies in East and West Indies.
“Our maritime supremacy is established and our commerce protected. Our losses are comparatively small compared to France’s.
“I only want peace but it must ensure the independence and tranquillity of Europe. French principles cannot be permitted – they oppose our happiness and destroy tranquillity for everyone else. I have made a Declaration of my views and principles. A copy is given you with the various treaties we have concluded. You will see that most of Europe is united in our common cause. I have been satisfied with the loyalty and devotion that my people show to their Constitution and government in spite of contrary allurements. I am satisfied with the zeal with which militia have been formed for our internal protection and the bravery of my land and sea forces.”
The King’s Declaration:
“The proximate cause of the war is the attack on us and our allies. This attack is founded on principles that will destroy all property and overturn all law and religion. We must protect ourselves against the plunder, anarchy and impiety that characterises France. If we make peace now it will not prove to be lasting. I am confident our resources and courage will prevail. Our cause is just.”
The King’s Address to the Commons:
“I present the account of state expenses. I am persuaded you will approve it although expenditure has increased. I am pleased to say the measures taken last year (government loans for commerce) have re-established mercantile credit.”
Sat 21st June 1794
Lord Stair (Dalrymple family) reviewed the progress of the first year of war in the House of Lords before considering the King’s Address (above):
At the start of the year, France invaded the Austrian low countries; threatened Holland and occupied some of its fortified places; possessed the Palatinate, Savoy and Nice; its navy regulated the traffic of the Mediterranean – it was successful everywhere.
At the end, Holland and the Pay Bas had been evacuated by France; some frontier towns of France had been taken; the French Mediterranean fleet had been destroyed; its possessions in Newfoundland and factories in India are all ours; her West Indian islands have partly surrendered to England and the rest are falling into our hands. Our commerce is flourishing whilst France’s is annihilated.
Auckland supported the continuance of the war. Our dispute is a war between God and Man, he said.
Guildford (son of the late Lord North) opposed. He congratulated H M on the success of His arms but would never vote for a continuation of the war. The object is unobtainable and the war will continue for ever.
Derby refuted Stair’s belief in the flourishing state of British commerce. In his own neighbourhood, 12,000 workmen were out of employment and had become dependant on the war for their income, having had no other means of subsistence but to join the militia. He thought the present war was precisely like the American war (a war against a people, not their government) which type of war can never be won. He opposed its continuance.
Stanhope opposed war, seeing it as unjust and dangerous.
Lauderdale opposed war. He was shocked by the severity of awards in the Scottish Courts.
Grenville, for the ministry, was irritated by Lauderdale. He said he did not mind attacks on H M’s Address but could not abide an attack on the Judiciary. All the World knew that English law was wisely administered, crimes suppressed and criminals convicted.
Acceptance of the King’s Address was then voted – 79 for and 12 against. The dissenters were the Dukes of Bedford and Norfolk, Marquis Lansdowne, Earls Derby, Lauderdale, Cholmondley, Guildford, Albemarle, Stanhope and Egmont and Lords St John and Chedworth.
Sat 21st June 1794
A similar vein of liberal dissent arose in the Commons when that body debated the King’s Address:
Colonel Tarleton said ‘rather than lavishly buying alliances we should better use our money to pay off the national debt and support our commerce.’ Courtney thought the opposition of despots was strengthening Jacobism; making peace will destroy it. Sheridan asked what was the actual purpose of the war. He could not find it in the King’s speech.
Fox picked-up Sheridan’s thread:
If this war is to be won it must be fought to the entire destruction of France. It is a gamble. The wealth, commerce and Constitution of England are hazarded to make France renounce opinions on which she stakes her existence. Is it not apparent to British parliamentarians that the rule of the National Convention is established; that their orders are obeyed throughout France? How can it be said that there is no-one in France to negotiate with?
Everything we did at Toulon was dishonourable. The reverse sustained at Dunkirk deserves the closest scrutiny of members. Both the Duke of York and the Prince of Saxe-Cobourg opposed splitting their forces and their staffs agreed it was an error. Why was it done?
Fox concluded by describing Pitt’s direction of the war as disastrous. We should beseech HM to seize the first chance for peace.
Chancellor Pitt responded:
The majority of the House and the British people saw war as our imperative duty. England required satisfaction for the past and security for the future (Grenville’s earlier phrase to Chauvelin that will subsequently become more closely associated with Pitt). France has enacted laws that proscribe negotiations with enemies until they evacuate French territory. Anyone who negotiates for France risks execution as he may not confer with representatives of any country that has not recognised the independence and unity of the French Republic. Are we to comply with French conditions before we can open peace negotiations? Will we abandon our alliances and withdraw from French towns and colonies in order to commence peace negotiations? Any discussion with the present government of France sanctions the execution of Louis XVI and the annihilation of the Legislature.
Vote 277:59 – the war continues.
Sat 28th June 1794
Pitt told the Commons we are contending with an enemy that neglects its colonies and does not fight us on the seas. Instead of encouraging its commerce, France appears intent on destroying it. Being unable to engage French fleets, the Royal Navy is unable to make any impression on the enemy at sea.
Our only option is to attack France – this might induce peace overtures. It should be noted that conscription enables the French to amass immense armies although their agriculture is diminished by the practise. We are fighting an armed nation.
The opposition says we cannot prevail over the entire French people but I say we must continue the struggle as we fight for our way of life. French conscripts are forced to fight or be executed. The army is oppressed by tyranny and it will lead to its own destruction.
He said our Dunkirk expedition had been defeated by French ability to raise huge armies quickly. Its failure was not attributable to defective planning. He had personally supported the expedition and it had failed.
The capture of Toulon was facilitated by the good condition of the fleet we sent into the Mediterranean. The capture, possession and evacuation of Toulon were all honourable to British arms. It was the speed with which France recovered Lyon and Marseilles from the Royalists that enabled them to release such a large army against Toulon and force an end to our occupation. The blow to French naval power that was inflicted at the time of our evacuation is unparalleled in history. We are now masters of the Mediterranean.
Our successes in the West Indies were expected.
The failure of Moira’s Brittany landings was due to the Royalists being unable to control the shoreline. They instead withdrew inland where we could not join-up with them.
Sat 28th June 1794
On 31st January Fox commented in the Commons on the subsidies paid by England to Sardinia. These were £2 millions in Exchequer Bills (for repayment of services rendered by Britain) and £200,000 cash. He noted that we engaged to pay without formally receiving anything in return. Fox thought the King of Sardinia could provide no advantage to the British war effort since his territory of Savoy, which might have formed a base for an invasion of France (using the ports of Nice and Villefranche), was already in French possession.
Editor – Pitt should have answered that Nice and Villefranche are too shallow to take ships-of-the-line and that we have indeed received something in return – the King of Sardinia’s armies served with the English force at Toulon.
The same day Pitt called attention to a National Convention decree requisitioning to the government the property of every foreigner in France and the property of every émigré Frenchman (Frenchmen who have not returned to France are ipso facto deemed anti-Revolutionaries). Each affected person will receive assignats at par in settlement. The decree says all citizens holding capital in foreign funds or foreign goods must report same in the next ten days. Citizens are responsible to denounce neighbours and friends who have such funds and property but do not report them. Commissioners from Paris will visit all towns to receive the reports. Five commissioners will be bankers and five will be commercial brokers. All sealed papers under the control of government may be opened to search for such property. The capital and goods thus discovered will be received in the national Treasury at par value.
Pitt characterised this Decree as oppressive (the Assignats trade below par value) and said it indicated the depths to which the French government had sunk to finance its war effort. We have an English law that also deprives the subjects of enemy countries of their ability to recover debts from Englishmen but it is little used. The thrust of the French decree, so far as it relates to foreigners, is to seize British capital and goods for use in war against Britain. Pitt said it was a matter of good faith that England should guarantee the property of foreigners in Britain and conceal their names to protect them from oppression. He advised British merchants to be in no hurry to pay.
Sat 28th June 1794
Paris continues in insurrection. The disaffected openly distribute handbills in the streets libelling the Mountain and calling for a Chief to lead them. Violent anonymous letters also circulate requesting the dissolution of the National Convention and the other administrative institutions and the disarming of the citizens. There is a general scarcity of food.
The government has drawn attention to these demands and warned Parisians to be on guard against the schemes of the monopolists who are behind the insurrection.
Sat 28th June 1794
On 21st December the Commissioners attached to General Carteaux’s army arrested him. He had projected an assault on Geneva the following day, but this did not proceed. The General is sent to Paris with an escort of 25 hussars. The Abbe Soulavie is known to have collaborated with Carteaux and is also recalled.
From Lausanne we hear the Swiss Cantons are on their guard and wish to proclaim an armed neutrality to satisfy the French.
Sat 28th June 1794
The Austrian Emperor is to be inaugurated as Duke of Brabant on 24th March.
Sat 5th July 1794
House of Lords, 17th February – The Marquis of Lansdowne regretted his motion for peace had been rejected by ministers. He wished to propose an Address to the King. He had heard all the arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’ and he continued to believe the war was unjust, impolitic and fatal. Our allies have used unprecedented measures and obtained no benefit. Two campaigns are ended and a third is beginning. The achievement of our war aims is as distant as ever. We allied with Austria, Prussia, etc., when the French were occupying Flanders and Brabant and threatening the Netherlands. Our interference has relieved Holland and subdued the French. He thought it was an unpredictable risk of war that countries are occupied or relieved of occupation.
He had heard that the Austrian General Mack has arrived in England to propose a new form of warfare which was thought likely to be successful. The Marquis doubted that any one man could be relied upon in such a complex business, no matter what his qualifications are. The idea of invading France was dangerous and impolitic. It was contrary to reason – we will reap a whirlwind. In the last campaign it had been the allied object to march our army through the rich country of Champagne where provisions were readily available but they had failed. Then they planned to enter France via Lille – that failed too. Then we attempted to seize Dunkirk – another failure, yet still we make our plans.
Long ago, the Duke of Marlborough foretold the futility of attempting to pass the frontiers and place one’s forces within an area occupied by an alienated population. All military authorities agree it would be a costly affair and the French would defend obstinately. We have already spent a huge amount of treasure and blood without any benefit. He asked their Lordships to coolly evaluate the situation. £13 millions were voted for war expenses. We have not examined the papers and treaties on the table or weighed the pro’s and con’s of war – all we have done is to quote some passages from French Decrees and examined the characters of some past and present French politicians.
Brissot’s pamphlet was examined after his party was removed from power but we still considered it good authority for the French position. Positions change daily. Instead of submitting to our proposals as our armies advanced to the French frontiers, the French urged their people to resist. They have sent ever larger armies to defy us. The war will go on and on and the next generation will still be fighting it. We have done enough. We have forcefully expressed our position. Now France is finding unknown people with military accomplishments who are astonishing us all. They triumph over men of high birth and education and experience. We may loathe the National Convention but French generals are efficient and admirable. Our prejudice towards some individuals should not be extended to the entire French nation. He thought that by the institution of conscription the French had tapped into a reservoir of energy that was continually renewed.
The treaties we have made have no beneficial content. With Prussia we have hitherto been concerned solely for the peace and safety of Germany – whenever a part of Germany was attacked, Prussia confronted the invader and preserved the balance of power. The policies of Vienna and Berlin reflect the old wars between the Emperor Joseph II and Frederick the Great. Now they are united to re-establish peace and monarchy in France but their real intentions will likely be an unlimited authority over France.
The Austrian cabinet is the most ambitious of Europe. Emperors, armies and generals change but the political complexion of Vienna is eternally unvaried. The immutable object of Austrian policy is self-aggrandisement, something we have consistently opposed in the past. Now we have allowed Austria to occupy Bavaria under the pretext of sustaining liberty there.
Russia is a colossus. She has partitioned Poland and extended herself into Turkey The cession of Oczaknow was inimical with the safety of Europe. We should guard against the awesome power of Russia. She now has control of all the rivers north of the Danube that flow into the Black Sea. Her increasing power is a danger to every country. She is not helping us, she is helping herself and she is doing so very quickly. Her purchases of British goods are declining.
He recalled when serving in the Treasury that a merchant had told him he might pay an employee a large salary for the performance of his job but he would never relate the salary to the profits because the latter could be immense. If one merchant’s trade is boundless, Lansdowne said, how much more so is the aggregate amount of all of them. This is what we risk by our policy towards Russia.
The treaty with Spain is opposed to every former treaty we have made with that country. The Treaty of Eternal Peace (1686) was the fundamental establishment of Europe at the time. The Treaty of Worms (1743) continued that line of policy. The terms of these agreements are totally different to our present treaty. Lansdowne could not discover the wishes of Spain in the new document. Spanish discontent at Toulon is well-known. They expected to appropriate the French navy to their own use and thus secure control of the Mediterranean to Spain. They were mortified at the reception the Toulonnois gave to the British. I approve the nobility of the Spanish gentlemen but reprobate their government. Its policies are dark and mysterious and conceal ambition.
The treaties with Sardinia, the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the Genoese Republic are imperious and intended to provoke them into renouncing their neutrality. This imperious approach is not in our best interests. To threaten the Grand Duke into obedience will not endear us to him. The papers between Lord Hervey, our Charge d’Affaires at Florence, and M de la Flotte, the Duke’s Secretary, are derogatory of the Duke’s dignity. There is none of our usual magnanimity. When I first read these papers I supposed Hervey had been overzealous but then I saw that the insulting demands he made on the Duke were dictated by the British cabinet. The Duke is the brother of the Austrian Emperor. He might become Emperor himself. What will be the Austrian attitude to England then?
Lansdowne recalled that the late King of Spain never forgave our bombardment of Naples whilst he was King of the Two Sicilies. I fear the Grand Duke may likewise resent the dishonourable station we have reduced him to. Do British ministers suppose that royalty has no feelings; that they lose their memories?
There are many reasons for reprehending the Sardinian treaty but a major one is our precipitant hostile entry into the Mediterranean. Our entering that sea disturbs Spain and might provoke her increased friendship with France. That would be prejudicial to us.
We have used the same dictatorial language to Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden. The correspondence of Lord Fitzgerald with the Canton of Berne was particularly egregious but I find the same high-handedness expressed in the diplomatic exchanges with Denmark. Count von Bernstorff’s reply to Hailes’s demands is a model of wisdom that should be read in every cabinet in Europe.
My next question is “what are our war aims?” Pitt says it is the restitution of monarchy in France. It is absurd but even if we agree that this an appropriate war aim, our allies differ in their views – some want the wretched ancien regime reinstated, others want the Constitution of 1789. These differences are apparent in the public announcements of the allies. Brunswick’s foolhardy manifesto (prefacing the invasion of France) destroyed his former reputation as a sovereign, politician and general. After its publication he was obliged to retreat. The idea of an invasion seems to be a project of Berlin. Since Brunswick’s débâcle and removal, we have had Saxe-Cobourg and Clairfait commanding the allied armies and they have done no better.
Consider the defection of Dumouriez – Saxe-Cobourg first published a manifesto extolling the virtue of Dumouriez then four days later published another completely reversing himself.
Our generals have repeatedly announced no territorial ambitions, no interference in French internal affairs, but the manifesto of General Wurmser after he occupied Alsace, proclaims the capture of Valenciennes in the name of the Austrian Emperor! The attempt on Dunkirk was similarly proclaimed in the name of England! These reveal our territorial ambitions at French expense. We say one thing and do another – who can trust us?
The evacuation of Toulon was predictable for its occupation was an offensive act and the French have always fought better in defence of their own land (at Toulon) and worse when entering a neighbour’s land (in Germany). The German approach to and entry of France is the same. It is the difference between offensive and defensive wars. It is also true that in France, the French army can pay its way with assignats while in foreign countries they are constrained to use real money.
Finally Lansdowne mentioned the wide coverage given in England to the offensive language of the National Convention but a complete absence of comment on our own equally offensive language towards France. When we call their proceedings ‘anarchic’ we should not be surprised to have our proceedings categorised as ‘tyrannical’. If, on the contrary, we extend a friendly hand to France she may very well respond accordingly. The pamphlet of Mallet du Pan (a Royalist, usually resident in London), who is approved by most of our allies, is a good example of what we can expect from reasonableness.
Lansdowne moved that a draft Address be made to the King to establish peace as soon as it could honourably be done. The events of the last campaign reveal that the conquest of France by a confederation of her neighbours is unlikely to be successful. Our allies are unwilling to risk their own money and will only continue to war on our subsidies. The entire expense is falling on Great Britain and Ireland. Even if our reverses can be reversed, we stand to gain territory that we cannot defend and will have to relinquish. The decay of our European trade and the diminution of our capital have already commenced when ministers contrarily are leading us to expect reduced debt and taxes.
The occupation and dismemberment of France will not solicit peace but its opposite. The example of what we manifestly intend for France has agitated all the smaller states and raised the spectre of their own extinctions. These small European states have always been fundamental to the preservation of stability and liberty. The spread of democratic ideals cannot be stopped by force. To placate the democrats we should discontinue the oppression that gave rise to the call for democracy.
The present war has allowed the National Convention to unite the French people and obtain legitimacy as the government of France. Our attempt to interfere has backfired. Those émigrés who put their confidence in us have been ruined. Our opposition to France promotes instability and injustice.’
The Duke of Grafton, Earl of Guildford and Lord Lauderdale supported the motion; Duke of Leeds, Earl of Kinnoul, Earl of Carlisle, Lord Sydney and Lord Grenville opposed. The Lords divided – for Lansdowne’s Address to the King 13; against the Address (with proxies) 103.
Sat 5th July 1794
The National Convention sent Hambert to the 13 Swiss Cantons to receive their recognition of the new Republican government.
The British responded with the dispatch of a Plenipotentiary, Lord Robert Fitzgerald, who was sent to address the Helvetic Corps at Berne on 30th Nov 1793.
Here is his supplication of Swiss hearts and minds:
We join in your indignation at the vile men in Paris. They sought to involve your Swiss Guards in their crimes against the French King and, on being refused, disarmed and massacred the Swiss soldiers. Now Hambert comes and says France is your ally. He claims the benefits of the treaties Louis XVI made with you, treaties of a King whom he and his gang have murdered.
What affinity can there be between Switzerland and France? You are just and religious people; they are violent atheists. They have tried to export revolution to Switzerland and destroy the respect your people have for the law. On the one hand, they attack civilised principles throughout Europe; on the other, they say they will not do so in Switzerland.
They have ravaged the Netherlands, Savoy and Basle, places to which they came claiming to be friends of the people. You can have no expectation of lasting peace with them so why have they come? It is the same song – they come as friends, allure your citizens with democracy, disable your management of the country and take over.
The rule of Kings and the rule of property is at stake. You have expressed a wish for neutrality. If you acknowledge the authority of these bandits, if you treat with them as with a government, you prejudice England’s cause.
The French are our common enemy and we hope you will zealously keep them at a distance. England is your real friend, not France, and we will do our best to maintain your independence.
We esteem your sincerity in addressing us. Our grief at the fate of the Swiss Guard must yield to the principles of our Constitution. For several centuries we have espoused peace and sought to be good neighbours by strictly maintaining neutrality. This principle has helped us avoid foreign wars. It is our inheritance and it is our duty to maintain it. We are accustomed to perform our agreements scrupulously. We will not deviate from strict neutrality. We will repel every attempt to disturb our repose or undermine our policies. For these reasons we guard our frontiers and try to prevent difficulties. Please assure your King of our determination. We confidently expect his goodwill, as exampled by his ancestors who always supported the independence of our Confederation. We hope it will continue.
Sat 12th July 1794
Subsidies that England is paying to keep her allies in the war:
25th April 1793
|£200,000 per annum for the duration of the war.|
|Costs of 6,000 troops plus 4 ships-of-the-line, 4 frigates and 4 lesser warships. Subsistence for the troops and forage for the horses to be supplied by England whilst the men serve overseas. We engage to maintain a respectable Mediterranean fleet for as long as the Two Sicilies is threatened. We undertake that this fleet, when combined with the Sicilian Navy, will have decided superiority in the Mediterranean.|
10th April 1793
|Costs of 8,000 infantry and cavalry available for three years. We pay £20 per horseman and £7.10.0 per infantryman. We also pay the Landgrave £55,000 per annum plus £3 to recruit replacements (per individual death or for every three wounded) and whatever is necessary to replenish military stores. All troops to be paid on the British army scale whilst in our service.|
23rd Aug 1793
|4,000 extra men on the April prices.|
5th Oct 1793
|3,000 troops on same terms as Hesse Castel|
Sat 19th July 1794
A body of Hessian mercenaries was landed on the Isle of Wight unknown to parliament. Its one of George III’s arrangements with his German friends. Both Houses debated the matter in late February. In the House of Lords Albemarle proposed a Bill of Indemnity. This was rejected and a Protest entered by Stanhope instead:
“It is an important Constitutional principle that the King can only raise armies with the consent of parliament. We have never allowed the Crown to assume a prescriptive right to raise troops – the annual Mutiny Bill is a proof of it. We debate those powers annually and revise them when appropriate. Neither does it help the King to prove that the armies are necessary or useful.”
Sat 26th July 1794
The Hussar has arrived at Bombay from Graine Island, Basra with news from Europe to 28th April:
- A conspiracy is reported at Paris involving Danton and Lacroix. They were popular Republicans until very recently. They are accused of conspiring with others to keep the price of provisions in Paris at a high level to inter alia nurture dissatisfaction and mob violence. Robespierre is the accuser and Danton et al counter-charge Robespierre with ambition to rule France. (This dispute is the subject of Andrzej Wajda’s powerful 1983 film “Danton”)
- Robespierre said the enemies of the people were émigrés and others from all walks of life. They conspired with neighbouring governments to defeat the Revolution. They had planned to release and arm the political prisoners and use them to attack the National Convention and murder its members and thus incrementally obtain control of all the power centres and ultimately to restore monarchy. He had the evidence and would soon publish it. He urged the people to have faith in their national representatives and to examine the acts of their neighbours and report any unpatriotic people. Traitors are easy to recognise, he said – they have more money (from neighbouring reactionary countries).
A legislator asked to see the papers that Robespierre possessed evidencing this conspiracy. Couthon replied the CPS was nearly ready to pounce on the accused but more proofs were still being received.
Robespierre and the CPS has accused Hebert, Vincent, Momoro and Roussin of conspiracy and their papers have been unsealed to permit examination. The accusation, prepared by Billaud de Varennes, says they planned to murder the National Convention membership and the Jacobins by offering freedom to all political prisoners in exchange for their continuing rebellion. They are said to have army support. They are also accused of manipulating the price of provisions to their own advantage.
- Forty-two Parisian bankers, merchants and brokers have contracted with CPS to supply all necessary provisions to France for 50 million livres. They propose to buy the goods from all the commercial towns of Europe. The contract is in the archives of CPS dated 16th February.
Editor – We suppose the rulers of neighbouring countries will take the necessary precautions.
Recent victims of the guillotine include the Duc d’Orleans’ chaplain, five personal servants of the late King and Marie Antoinette’s valet de chambre S Dumont.
Sat 26th July 1794
A letter from a French Republican agent in the Swiss Cantons said the émigrés resident there were in expectation of a massacre occurring soon in Paris. Another two intercepted letters, both dated 21st February, said much the same.
- One said there are two power centres in Paris – the CPS under Hebert and Vincent, that is promoting revolution in an orderly way, and the Jacobins under Robespierre. Vincent is working to destroy the popularity of Robespierre. Hebert wishes to maintain some form of religion.
- The second letter, addressed to Basson, says the two power centres, CPS and the Jacobins, will soon fight and opines that the CPS will prevail as all the women support it and they influence their husbands. The writer says an invasion of England is still in prospect once the insurrection in la Vendée is pacified.
In the Convention Barrere said that Mallet du Pan, ‘that despicable hireling of the Bourbons,’ had said the conspirators expected to cause an uprising in Paris by withholding provisions. It can then be spread from Paris to the provinces. It was also reported that the farmers of Gayan, in the Department of Taron, were demanding the release of all prisoners and are completely ready to start insurrection. He said 300 witnesses had been heard and the details of the entire conspiracy were well understood. Every citizen must watch his neighbour and report intrigues. The traitors will soon be revealed.
Sat 26th July 1794
- The Royal Navy has completed the capture of Martinique in the Caribbean and occupied the port and harbour of St Fiorenzi on Corsica.
- John Hamilton, British consul at Norfolk, Virginia, reports 19th February that 2 French ships-of-the-line, 6 frigates and 4 sloops arrived in Hampton Roads. They have captured the packet Scorpion from Madras in January. Some English prisoners are on board – Col Braithwaite’s son, Capt Braithwaite, and three other officers. Hamilton is negotiating for their release.
- The Prussian King in a decree dated 13th March appeared ambivalent in his opposition to France. All Prussian writers are talking peace. The King says his efforts have exceeded his resources. He says his sacrifice in the war is greater than his neighbours and, if he is to enter a third campaign, he wants more money or he will withdraw. He says war with France is not war between armies but against a horde of citizens who obey no rules and are difficult to bring to battle. He has committed 70,000 of his finest troops but without much effect. He wants Austria to provision his forces and he needs subsidies. He has after all been protecting Austrian possessions in Germany at no advantage to himself.
Now the Austrian provinces of Mayence (Mainz) and nearby (the Six Circles) are arming the people to fight against France. The Prussian King assesses it is dangerous to arm our citizens against the French because they are exposed to democracy and may be seduced by it. He commends the Emperor to provision Prussian forces instead and respect the sacrifice of treasure and blood that Prussia has made in the united effort. “If he will not help Prussia, I will withdraw my armies except the 20,000 men I am bound by treaty to maintain”, he says.
To further alarm the allies, General Kalkreuth in Berlin has been very hospitable to the visiting French Commissioners. It is feared Prussia may effect a separate peace.
Vienna is unhappy. The Emperor has responded to the Prussian threat by raising large armies in his German states on the upper Rhine. They will be commanded by the Prince of Saxe-Teschen. All those states of Imperial Austria that formerly subscribed cash to the army (mainly the rich north Italian states in the Po valley) will in future have to provide men and materials. The Emperor has even spoken of conscripting the general population of the Austrian empire in the French style.
Sat 26th July 1794
Letter from Brussels 19th April 1794:
In February 1794 the French occupation of Flanders, Artois and Picardy was completed. Their preparations are formidable. All the factories of the three provinces have become cannon foundries; the warehouses are full of saltpetre. Reinforcements of the Citizens’ Army arrive regularly – recently 15,000 arrived from Moselle, 20,000 from La Vendée and 20,000 conscripts.
Sat 26th July 1794
Letter from Vienna, 2nd February: The Tsarina is said to have definitely agreed to join the allied cause and is sending 20 ships-of-the-line and a fleet of transports carrying 30,000 men to Ostend.
Sat 26th July 1794
Letter from Copenhagen 22nd March – government is embarrassed by the activities of Danish merchants with the visiting agents of the French National Convention. They fear England will think them not sufficiently hostile to France.
Sat 26thJuly 1794
The House of Lords has debated the militias. Grenville proposed an address to all Lords Lieutenants of counties. Lauderdale said he would always support measures to prevent or resist invasion but Grenville had inserted the words ‘just and necessary’ in his proposal whereas the liberal Whigs were convinced that the war was neither one nor the other. No other peer supported Lauderdale and Grenville’s proposal passed.
Lauderdale then decried the proposal as undermining the rights of the people by raising men and money, independently of parliament. Lauderdale said he would make a motion on the matter at next session. He would also brief the Lords on details of the recent Scottish sedition trials.
Sat 2nd Aug 1794
French news from London papers:
- The 36 members of the Cordelier ‘faction’ who have been guillotined include 9 Deputies of the National Convention. If they go on like this they will have no Deputies left!
- Robespierre and his Jacobin group now seems likely to prevail over the CPS. Commissioner Richard for the Army of the North has addressed the National Convention and informed them of the loyalty of his army to the Jacobins. His men are indignant at the rumoured coup, he said. “My army sustains itself on plunder from the enemy. We cost the nation very little and will soon rival the armies of Moselle and Rhine in abilities.”
Sat 2nd Aug 1794
The King of Prussia’s demand for money to continue the fight has been met by England 40%, Austrian Empire 40% and the Netherlands 20%.
Sat 2nd Aug 1794
Constantinople – The luggage of the new Russian ambassador Koutschoubey arrived 14th February and the man himself is expected soon. He replaces General Kutusow. The expectation of a war between Russia and Turkey is widespread and this new appointment seems related.
The Jacobin emissaries to the Porte from the National Convention have found an ally in the Captain Pasha, who is said to have influence with the Porte. They seek an alliance with Turkey or at least a Turkish repudiation of the allies.
Some French frigates are off Smyrna plundering the commercial maritime traffic, which acts appear due to Jacobin influence via the Pasha. This might well provide a pretext to the Russians.
Sat 9th Aug 1794
London 17th March – General FitzPatrick MP addressed the Commons concerning British policy towards La Fayette:
La Fayette and three National Convention members have been imprisoned since their arrival amongst our allies. Justice and humanity required their release. Pitt has acknowledged the fact but washed his hands of responsibility. We have applied to the King of Prussia for their release and receive his minister’s opinion it required the mutual consent of all the allies. Thus we exonerate ourselves from the odium. This House must do more in their support. England must disclaim responsibility and disavow the detention. La Fayette promotes the Constitution of 1789 and the monarchy. He is an honourable supporter of law and order. He is part of that group of French Constitutionalists who should be our natural allies in France.
The events of 5th and 6th October last have been cited against La Fayette. They nevertheless prove his courage and devotion to his King. He rescued 15 of the Gardes de Corps from execution. Marie Antoinette said at the time that she owed her life and the lives of her family to La Fayette. The misfortunes of that journey might reasonably be attributed to La Fayette’s having been on his horse for 50 hours without rest. In one hour the palace was broken into and the outrages committed. In April when the mob prevented the King from going to St Cloud, La Fayette after trying every means to free the King, resigned his command of the National Guard. He only resumed it at the express wish of the King.
He knew all about the King’s flight. When the King was brought back from Varennes he worked hard for him and opposed the war. When it was apparent that things could only get worse, he proposed escape to the King who refused. Then 10th August came. He went to Paris but could effect nothing. He declined to join the émigrés or us because he would not fight against his country. He would not desert to the allies.
He sought escape and was on neutral ground when he received the Austrian offer of free passage. He was perfidiously arrested by those Austrian officers and sent to Namur where he was offered release if he would join the émigrés. He refused. Then the Prussians took Namur and he was made a state prisoner, contrary to the Law of Nations that required he be treated as a prisoner of war.
La Fayette declared for monarchy and the Constitution. He deserves the protection of England. He was offered protection by America but thought England would have more weight in Europe, particularly with Vienna at whose instance we have recently banished a foreigner from our own country.
I move we address HM that the detention of La Fayette is damaging his cause and request his intercession with the King of Prussia.
Col Tarleton seconded the motion.
Pitt replied that the conduct of the Marquis de la Fayette could not be approved. He was arrested in a neutral country which distinguished his case from those covered by H M’s declaration to the people of Toulon.
Fox vindicated La Fayette and argued the impolicy of the King of Prussia.
Burke said La Fayette was not an object of compassion. He was an accessory to the Revolution. He had earlier offended George III by sowing dissension and rebellion in America. He ascribed the sufferings of Foulon and Berthier to the perfidy of La Fayette.
Grey disapproved Burke’s speech and said the general ground for interference is to extricate England from imputations of neglect.
The House divided – 46 for FitzPatrick’s address to the King, 154 against.
Sat 9th Aug 1794
Paris 17th March: Parisians are raising rabbits to meet their food shortages. Henriot, the City’s garrison commander, has proclaimed that anyone cutting young wheat for rabbit-food will be punished.
Sat 10th Aug 1794
Letter from Madrid, 26th March (recited from Leiden Gazette):
- The Infanta Don Philip died 1st March. The Queen gave birth to another son on 10th March. He was baptised with 53 names starting Francis de Paul Antonio Maria …. His Godfather is the Austrian Emperor.
- Spanish Generals in command of the armies at Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre are moving their men to the French frontier. Another Spanish army is supposed to march to Rousillon but the commanders repeatedly die after appointment. Its third commander is Count de la Union and it has not yet set-out.
- The Catalonian army is to act offensively; the other two defensively. The squadron of Don Juan de Langara (9 ships-of-the-line) will sail to Leghorn to bring the Prince of Parma back for his nuptials.
Sat 10th Aug 1794
According to newspaper reports from Paris, Sr d’Aranda has presented a philosophical memorial to the Spanish King identifying what he believes are the true interests and policy of Spain. He was formerly the Spanish ambassador to Paris where he familiarised himself with the new Republican ideology.
He sets out the precautions the country should take. He repudiates the unreasonable prejudices of the allies and pleads for the Spanish people to think carefully before committing themselves to war.
He has thus displeased the King’s minister, Manuel de Godoy, who commended the Council to pay no respect to his memorial.
Whatever his motives may have been, d’Aranda is now disgraced.
Sat 10th Aug 1794
Lyon, 4th March – about 5,000 people, mostly merchants and aristocrats, have been executed since the Republican army resumed control of this city.
A shortage of food continues in all the major towns and cities. Barrere and Legendre have suggested that the people voluntarily desist from meat-eating. They observe that under the Ancien Regime the French people only ate meat for six months of the year but now they seem to expect it every day! The absence of food animals in the markets was threatening the supply of tallow for candles (candle-making is an important domestic industry). The National Convention agreed that Barrere’s suggestion should be considered.
Sat 10th Aug 1794
London, 15th March – Commons debate on the ‘volunteer’ militias:
Sheridan told the Commons that he knew Prussia had withdrawn from the alliance and our national defensive preparations were inadequate. French frigates had sent landing parties ashore in Northumberland and plundered along the coast unopposed. The Mayor of Newcastle was asked to confront them but said he had no troops.
Sheridan noted numerous letters being circulated in the country proposing modes of defence and means of paying for it but the MPs had done nothing. He read one of the letters circulating in Surrey to the membership. He proposed that H M be asked for directions. Martin seconded the motion.
Western complained it was unconstitutional for people to propose means of payment for defensive measures without the approval of the Commons – only parliament can originate levies and taxes or means of defence. Any armed force raised without the permission of parliament threatened liberty.
Pitt said his Bill for augmenting the militias allowed for voluntary contributions. It had often been done before. He was preparing a plan for independent volunteer corps but the man in charge of the arrangements is sick today. He would probably bring it along tomorrow.
Fox thought Western had got it right. Pitt may have personal ideas on the subject but parliament should first endorse them.
Sat 10th Aug 1794
British Chronicle, 5th March – A Note from the Austrian Emperor (signed by Collaredo) to the Germanic states in his Empire is reproduced:
The French have plundered their King, clergy and nobility. We support existing treaties, monarchies and religion. The National Convention is the enemy of us all. Although we were beating them at first, they did not amend their policies and have now conscripted their entire population to oppose us. These reverses would not have happened if you had been more helpful in the beginning. Now we will have to also conscript men to prevail.
Sat 23rd Aug 1794
London news – The committee drafting the Bill to prevent remittances to France has proposed the following penalties:
- any one sending money to France is guilty of High Treason (a capital offence);
- anyone supplying goods to France is guilty of assisting an enemy;
- anyone accepting a French draft or Bill of Exchange will forfeit double the amount of the Bill.
Sat 23rd Aug 1794
The Paris Gazettes to 14th February 1794 contain interesting news:
The National Convention acknowledges that the Royalists are still a threat. The Republicans have been driven back to Nantes.
Perpignan has been taken by the Spanish.
14 men who sought to deliver Lille to the enemy are to be tried. Girault, the ex-Deputy of Eure and Loire is to be guillotined for consorting with Bazot.
On 28th January, 13 rebels were given capital sentences at Marseilles. On hearing the award, one ran at the panel of Judges with a drawn dagger. Each Judge had two loaded pistols in his belt and the President only had to draw one and cock it for the convict to desist. He was then taken out for instant beheading but broke his cords and escaped. He was pursued to the harbour where he jumped into the water but was saved. He was executed last of the thirteen.
The two merchant bankers known as the Tassin Brothers have been imprisoned in the Luxembourg.
Sat 30th August 1794
The Aliens Bill has been amended in two respects. A new clause relieving Portuguese residents of England of compliance is included; another deals with those French émigrés who solicited their own arrest for debt to avoid deportation under the Act.
David Scott MP, a Lloyd’s broker, has provided some indicative premiums to the Commons to assure members that marine insurance has not become expensive. Premiums now are c. 30% of the highest rates prevailing in the American war.
Sat 13th Sept 1794
London news: Pitt has moved a Bill permitting George III to grant commissions to French officers to serve in the British army and for Frenchmen to enlist in regiments for service against France in Europe, the Channel Islands or the French colonies in West Indies. Catholics are welcome.
Should it be necessary to land such troops in England they will not travel beyond the seaport of landing. They are subject to such Articles of War as H M may deem prudent and to the jurisdiction of British Courts Martial. The Act will remain in force for the duration of the war.
Sat 20th Sept 1794
London news – the liberal Whigs have objected to Pitt’s administration soliciting ‘voluntary’ donations from the public for the war effort. They say it is unconstitutional unless the money is controlled by parliament. Pitt told the Commons that government was not compelling people to donate, they individually chose to do so. The opposition holds the view that people may give if they choose but government may not ask.
In the Lords, the liberal Marquis Lansdowne was criticised for inconsistency. He moved the Lords to oppose the creation of civil militias by subscription but in 1782 he had promoted them. Lansdowne demanded the correspondence from the previous occasion be tabled to evidence the different criteria applicable on the first occasion. Grenville agreed to table Lansdowne’s letters but not the answers against which publication he made the same objection as Lansdowne and Fox had made in 1782. Carlisle said the two matters were indistinguishable. Lansdowne disagreed. The Lords divided and the vote was 56 to 48 against Lansdowne whose motion was expunged.
Sat 20th Sept 1794
Colonel McLeod MP told the Commons there are handbills all over London encouraging foreigners to enlist in the British army’s Foreign Legion. He requested an explanation from Pitt for this apparently unconstitutional act. Pitt was silent. McLeod insisted and Pitt said he knew nothing. Grey said the handbills offered a bounty of 4, 6 or 8 guineas per man. Pitt reiterated he knew nothing.
Sat 20th Sept 1794
Sir Charles Banbury moved to exempt the poor from the requirement they provide personal labour on the highways. Mr Gilbert opposed it, saying the poor are in receipt of public money under the Poor Laws. The Bill was ordered.
Sat 20th Sept 1794
Much wagering was done in London on the time Danton would remain in power. Now he is dead, the bets are on Robespierre’s shelf life.
Sat 20th Sept 1794
Pitt has commented generally on the war. The liberal Whigs, referring to Dunkirk and Toulon, say wherever British diplomats or armies go, there is failure. Pitt says there may be one or two failures but the overall conduct of the war is well done. He says all our valuable possessions in the East are secure and tranquil thanks to Cornwallis’s service as Governor-General of India. In the west Newfoundland is taken from France, Tobago is recovered and we are taking the other French West Indian colonies one by one.
Pitt made a long excoriation of the French government. He drew attention to Robespierre’s speech to the National Convention after he had toppled Danton, in which he said “we are concerned that a few individual members are attempting to prevail over the liberty of France. Legendre’s proposition has been approved by several members after a similar proposition of Danton, Chabot and Bazire would have lost us everything we have won. We have sacrificed so much. We cannot risk our government becoming the tool of one man.”
Sat 20th Sept 1794
A Bill to authorise and raise volunteer militias to serve as home guard in Britain, financed by popular subscriptions, has been presented to the Lords.
Sat 27th Sept 1794
- The Austrian Emperor has welcomed French émigrés to settle at the free port of Trieste subject only to his approval of their characters.
- The states of Brabant have donated 100,000 gold sovereigns to the Austrian Emperor and 80,000 ducats to the Archduke Charles.
- The Prussian King has agreed to field 90,000 mercenaries for the next season. 32,000 (paid by England) will serve under the Duke of York in the Netherlands and 20,000 will be paid by the Austrian Emperor and serve in his army on the upper Rhine. The remaining 38,000 mercenaries will join the Prussian army.
- Several émigré regiments are being formed in Brabant and Flanders, where a large number of émigrés are living. Those French peasants who have fled the revolution and any French army deserters are welcome to join the émigrés in these regiments and a force of 20,000 men is expected to be raised.
Sat 27th Sept 1794
London news – The public voluntary subscriptions to the fund for the Defence of the Realm has produced substantial sums – Kent and Somerset £8,000 each, Norfolk £7,000, Hampshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire £5,000 each, Surrey £4,000, Northamptonshire, Rutland, Oxford and Suffolk £3,000 each. Pitt’s name appears on the list of Dover subscribers for £1,000.
Sat 27th Sept 1794
Three regiments, each of 1,800 émigrés, are to be raised in England under the respective commands of the Duc de Richelieu, the Vicomte de Choiseul and the Prince de Montbazon. They will serve in Lord Moira’s Army of Brittany and will be paid by the British government.
Sat 20th Dec 1794
Naples, 12th April – A conspiracy of Jacobins and refugees from Toulon has been discovered here. About 300 people are arrested. The conspirators were living all over town and had organised themselves into small groups of twelve. They reported to a central authority which was well-financed and distributed 90,000 Crowns each month to the groups. It was to bribe officials.
A few months ago a plot was discovered to fire the docks and the arsenal. Two Calabrians were found circulating Paine’s Rights of Man in Italian translation. It is feared that several regiments have gone over to the conspirators. Several Toulonnois were found in the home of a watchmaker who had 80,000 ducats. They are said to have planned to fire the Royal palace and the three main chateaux – Catello del Ovo, Catello Nuovo and Catello di St Elmo – prior to forcing open the banks to permit the people to plunder.
Sat 27th Sept 1794
Stanhope proposed to the House of Lords on 5th April 1794 that Britain end the war with France and allow ‘that newly enlightened nation’ to legislate for itself. He expected the support of the bench of bishops, as one (Norwich) had preached on 28th February in similar terms.
He said it was impolitic to meddle in French internal affairs; that our commercial losses were comparatively greater than France’s, and that hostilities against a virtuous and humane people were unjustified (laughter).
He quoted H M’s and ministers’ speeches and the resultant actions of parliament. He particularly scolded Earl Mansfield for promoting riots within France after the French had themselves decreed they would not interfere with us. He thought it was treasonable to bribe one French citizen to fight another and to set father against son – a repetition of our tactics in the American war.
He quoted from the Bishop of Norwich’s supportive sermon – ‘war is the greatest of social evils, it … is connected with the worst passions of the human mind, it promotes the interests of commerce, the national honour and the balance of power over the immediate interests of the people.’ He particularly reprobated the professed religious cause of war which obscured the underlying political ambition. He noted the French had resolved to end monarchy and that was their affair. We may consider a King a blessing to our people, they do not. He adduced an authority from the bible (Samuel I, Cap 12) for the French position.
Mansfield treated Stanhope’s speech with contempt and asked for someone to censure it. Grenville severely reprobated it and said when the matter was put to a motion and, predictably, obtained only one vote, he would ask the House to expunge all record of it from the Journals. It was then voted down, with one abstention, and expunged.
Sat 25th Oct 1794
On 12th April, the 2nd Marquess (George) Townshend, Charles Townshend and Wm Windham addressed the freeholders of Norwich to persuade them to commence a voluntary subscription for defence of the country. Windham was hissed repeatedly. Coke reprobated Windham for the sudden change in his principles. Coke said all Norfolkmen loved their country and Constitution but the present war with France was a war of choice by ministers who had declined to negotiate with France when they might have done so. The ministers were opposed to peace and intent on war.
They commenced hostilities on a pretext and adopted another to continue it, Coke said. When Brabant had been recovered and the Dutch Netherlands had been secured, they had achieved their declared war aim. Then ministers said there was no representative of France with whom they could treat. Coke asked if the war was fought to produce some Frenchman who was an acceptable national negotiator to ministers. If that is now the aim of war, we will have to subsidise every autocrat in Europe. He thought ministers would ultimately conclude the war without procuring either national security or indemnity, and he moved that firstly Norfolkmen are always ready to support their King and country; and secondly, private subscriptions to finance war must be approved by parliament without which sanction they are unconstitutional.
Windham replied that this is a war against Republicanism and atheism and he would personally contribute to its costs. A local property owner named Mingay said ‘although I may be marked for the freedom of my sentiments, I will publish them regardless of the threat of prosecution for treason or sedition. War by subscription is illegal unless sanctioned by parliament.’ He said Windham had himself declared the same opinion some years earlier.
Windham said the situation in 1778 had been different – now we are supporting the King and the landowners. He said the commercial stagnation at Norwich was not due to the war but to a restrictive Edict of the Russian Tsarina whose merchants formerly bought Norfolk thatch. Mr John Barnard, a local merchant, said the Russian Edict had been issued as a response to the war and would unlikely have been issued if Europe had been peaceful. He recalled that in 1793 Russian imports to England were worth £3 millions while our exports were worth £1¾ millions. He thought it was absurd to say the Tsarina had issued the Edict only because we were occupied with France and were unable to express our resentment. He also noted the diminishing Mediterranean trade of Britain which he likewise attributed to war. He said the subscription would cause more hardship in present depressed circumstances and would only encourage the ministry to maintain its violent policy. The debate continued for nearly 5 hours and it was readily apparent that a majority opposed subscriptions. Nevertheless, on conclusion, the Townshends and Windham withdrew to a nearby room and opened a book for the receipt of voluntary donations.
Sat 18th Oct 1794
The French conscripts fight for their national honour and old Generals on the allied side say they have never experienced such violent and costly battles. The French continue to pour recruits onto the field and overwhelm the allied armies in Austrian Flanders by sheer numbers. They are now performing the same feat in Piedmont and along the Pyrenean foothills. But in the East and West Indies and on the ocean Britain is doing well.
13 warships of Earl Howe’s fleet have entered Portsmouth with six prizes after their splendid victory over the French fleet. 10 ships-of-the-line from this fleet have gone to Plymouth. Admiral Montague’s fleet is also there. All the British ships are heavily damaged in their masts, spars and rigging. The French are said to be in a worse state. The Terrible (120), Pelletier (74), Gasperin (80), Tourville (80), Vengeur and Jacobin were all sunk.
Whilst the battle fleets were engaged, the French commercial fleet of 163 ships slipped passed the British blockade to enter L’Orient without a single loss. 120 of these ships are known to be loaded with provisions and military stores.
Lauderdale said (during a House of Lords debate on 11th June to thank Admiral Howe, etc., for victory over the French fleet on 1st June), that we had failed to subvert the government of France by attacking her on land and had experienced all the checks and mortifications that attended such a wild scheme. This victory had removed the French as a threat on the high seas and given British commerce the advantage at least for a season.
HRH the Duke of Clarence said that in the last two wars and this one, whenever the English and French fleets met on more or less equal terms, the former had invariably been steadier than the latter. He mentioned Hawke’s victory over Conflans in the first war, Rodney’s West Indian victory of 12th April in the second and now Howe’s current victory, to support his opinion.
Sat 18th Oct 1794
Intended assassination of Robespierre, 23rd May 1794:
A 20-years girl went to Citizen Duplai’s house, where Robespierre lives, to interview him. Duplai said he is not here. She said ‘he’s a public functionary, he should be available all the time’. Duplai was concerned and took the girl to the CPS where Robespierre was working. Duplai said on the way that she noted officials of the old government were always available and she wanted the ancien regime restored and a King on the throne. She identified herself as Aimee Cecile Renault, the daughter of a stationer at Rue la Lanterne in La Cité. She had two knives and a change of underwear in her bag. She said the fresh linen was for her execution. She was imprisoned.
Upon hearing the above information, Barrere warned the National Convention against those proposing to surround the Chamber with guards. We do not wish to be guarded from the people we love and serve. Barrere reviewed British actions towards France and concluded that the overall thrust of British activity was to strike down the Revolution. He called on the soldiers of France to spare no British or Hanoverian troops they met in battle.
Sat 18th Oct 1794
Robespierre on 7th May introduced the new French religion to the National Convention. The French people acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being and the Immortality of the Soul. Moral living requires submission to the Almighty.
The duty of a Frenchmen is to detect dishonesty and tyranny, to punish tyrants and traitors, to counsel the unhappy, abstain from injustice, respect the weak, protect the oppressed and do good.
National Festivals will be held annually on 14th July, 10th August and 31st May to celebrate the divinity of existence. Every tenth day throughout the year will commemorate some aspect of spiritual existence and French efforts to promote it (the list includes filial piety and respect for ancestors). The public is asked to contribute appropriate songs for which payment will be made. Aristocratic meetings under the pretext of liberty of worship are banned.
Sat 24th Jan 1795
National Convention deliberations:
- 12th May: Barrere said there is too much unemployment amongst the labouring poor and beggars infest every town. Their poverty is mainly due to the war. “We are rich in liberty, population and land. We should seize the funds of the counter-revolutionaries and distribute them to the poor. It is our job to repair injustice.”
The National Convention agreed to open a Register of National Beneficence in every Department of France. It would initially record the names, ages and infirmities of all mendicant farmers and artisans, the names of all mothers and widows having children in the army and those families that are sick.
- On 13th May a deputation from Geneva addressed the National Convention with a wish to honour Rousseau. The CPS was asked to approve and comment whether it was appropriate to move Rousseau’s ashes to Paris.
Sat 31st Jan 1795
Madrid, 19th May – The French Republican ambassador here, Duc de Vauguion, has been ordered home. So has the Royalist émigré ambassador Duc de Havre. The cause of this repudiation of both the Bourbons and the Republic is the Spanish military defeat at Roussillon. Republican French armies are poised to enter Spain and threaten Catalonia.
Castilian males between 15 – 60 years are conscripted to arms. Those who cannot serve in person must provide substitutes.
Conscription is resented. The Spanish people are not opposed to the developments in France in the same way as their King. There is growing pressure on the Court to accommodate France and a diplomatic negotiation has commenced.
The French terms for peace are acknowledgement of their Republic, reception of a French Minister Plenipotentiary at Madrid, restoration of all places taken in war, and renunciation of the Spanish connection with the House of Bourbon. It is thought the Spanish King will agree.
Sat 10th Jan 1795
National Convention, 28th May:
- The commune of Sens, south-east of Paris, has exhumed the Capets from their leaden coffins in the temple. They have buried the remains in the communal cemetery and sent the lead to be melted-down for ammunition.
- Tallien and Bourdon have argued that taxes are unnecessary. The confiscated possessions of the clergy, the émigrés, the royal family and those condemned by the law are adequate to discharge the national debt. They say recurrent costs can be met out of sale of postage stamps, Customs receipts and Estate duty, which fall mainly on the rich, and can thus be more easily borne.
- A military school is proposed by CPS to educate the children of sans culottes and those of families of small income in the duties of a Republican soldier. Preference will be given to the sons of serving soldiers.
Sat 3rd Jan 1795
House of Commons, 30th May – A debate to thank the King for his Address. In the course of this debate, Fox outlined his understanding of the cause of the war:
Pitt has said the war was due to the aggression of the French. Fox gave thanks for the Constitution which ensured the publicity of government acts by freedom of the press. From its outset, he said the objects of war had not been clearly stated or sanctioned. After Louis XVI was killed, the King’s speech still assured the British people of our strict neutrality. Then our ally the Netherlands was attacked by France during which we held underhand negotiations with France (Auckland’s dealings with Dumouriez). If we had deigned to treat with France in the normal course of diplomacy, the negotiation would very likely have been successful, but because we adopted this underhand form of dealing, it failed and, as a result, we were required to act defensively. No declaration has yet been made in either House explaining our interference in French domestic affairs. Our objects at that time, in the last session, were merely to contain France, to limit the injury we sustained (to our trade), to get reparation for the past and security for the future.
The Austrian Emperor declared at that time that he proposed to support the French Constitution granted by Louis XVI in 1789. Five days later he changed his mind. What had changed? Fox said there was only one explanation for the volte face – the invasion of Poland by Prussia (i.e. the Emperor was now at war for territory).
When Toulon was captured, Admiral Lord Hood proclaimed that the 1789 Constitution would be applied there. Then a proclamation was issued in London saying we would not treat with the men conducting the government of France. Fox wondered what had caused the British government to change its war objects – was it success at Toulon? Was it the early successes of the allied armies in Belgium? Or was it something that had happened in France? It appeared to him that Britain was exposed to the charge that she was at war to destroy the political changes then being made by the French people.
Fox asked MPs to suppose we had won the war – we would tell the French people we have destroyed the tyranny you were under and we leave you without any government at all. Clearly the French would have to form a new government and we would say ‘fine, provided it is not a Jacobin government’. But the French are likely to raise up the same type of government again and we would be likely to go to war again.
He found many of the declarations of Ministers incredible. It was well known during the first campaign that there was a powerful Royalist camp at La Vendée. In that first campaign Valenciennes and Mainz (Mayence) fell into our hands. In the articles of capitulation of both garrisons, they agreed not to bear arms against us for the rest of the war but we did not restrain them from fighting the Royalists in La Vendée. Effectively we required those garrisons not to fight us but we permitted them to fight the Royalists. We appear to have supported the continuance of civil war.
As regards our national involvement in the war, he considered it a pecuniary obligation. He thought we had not specified our war aims because we wished to concert with Austria and Prussia and did not want our aims to be found inimical with theirs. The most the Austrian Emperor could do was make peace and allow himself time to prepare for the defence of the Netherlands by bringing the dykes into good order. On the other hand, perhaps we were concerned about alienating Prussia. Did we foresee that Prussia would declare-off sooner than she did?
We made conventions with Sardinia. We subsidised that King because he might otherwise have become an ally of France or have remained neutral. Were our payments to him to procure a diversion? No, his mainland possessions are too close to France to be safe from occupation and, for this reason, an Austrian force was marching to protect him. The Sardinians all along thought that whatever happened they were safe. Then the French attacked and soon menaced Turin. We had stipulated never to cease fighting until Sardinian lands had been recovered. That was good news to the Prussians and Austrians but made Russia anxious. Did Prussia or Austria agree to guarantee Sardinia? No, the Prussians took advantage of a treaty loophole permitting them to cease fighting if it got too expensive. They stopped fighting in 1793 at which time they had given no guarantee to Sardinia. In July 1794 Prussia said they could not afford to maintain the war. So it was England alone that gave the Sardinian guarantee.
Fox wanted to know why we and the Dutch had subsidised Prussia but not Austria. Austria is a rich Empire but the Emperor did not raise a loan in his own domains or the Austrian Netherlands but had raised one in London. It appeared that the Emperor considered England a last resort to alleviate cash shortage. As the Emperor had been successful this year, he would no doubt raise another loan next year. If he could not raise a loan, he would ask for a subsidy.
He then considered the policy of war – it was either to obtain peace by negotiation, or by conquest or by a mixture of both. It was the popular political view at that time that all government was endangered by the existence of the Jacobins. Well, today the French government is more powerful than at any time since 1792.
He then turned to our acquisitions by conquest. The French West Indian lands were very valuable for negotiating peace but quite useless for getting rid of the present French government. He recalled Windham had made the only rational explanation for not negotiating – that the French government contained no-one with whom we could talk. How did this occur? The French government was in control of its country; its orders were obeyed; it was competent to make peace. The great advantage of our offering to negotiate was that it put the onus on the National Convention to respond.
Prevalent opinion in England is that the American Revolution induced the French Revolution (both by ideology which America imported from France and by impoverishing France in the American War and making the subsequent increased taxation intolerable to the French people)
He concluded that the British object of war must be to annihilate the Jacobin government of France.
He then considered America. He had no doubt that Washington was a peaceful man and his country had hardly any means of offence. But if England goes to war with America, every success we achieve will be a blow to the heart of the City of London because of our close commercial links. He mentioned this as an additional incentive for peace with France.
And he ended with a request for a resolution asking H M for an explicit declaration of the objects of war.
Jenkinson said we fought offensive war in consequence of the violation of treaties and the attack on our ally Holland whom we were bound to assist. He said it was also defensive. He thought the war would continue until there were moderate men in power in Paris or until we had lost. This meant we must destroy the Jacobins in Paris.
Sheridan said the war was only continued to progress the plots hatched in the foul imaginations of ministers and he resented the popular opinion that if Habeas Corpus was suspended he would himself be in prison very soon.
Chancellor Pitt said if a conspiracy did exist in England and was found to have been supported by the Jacobins of France, it provided a good cause for war, better than the alternatives the opposition are bandying around – balance of power, commercial advantage, territorial acquisitions. All Europe is menaced by France. Fox has alluded to 3-4 selected incidents and adduced an argument that questions our war objects. He says we started fighting a defensive war and rapidly changed it into a war for the annihilation of the French government. Is it not permitted to develop one’s war aims as the contest continues? This House agreed to cease communications with the government of France when we were at peace with that country. Now we have declared war, Fox says we should open negotiations. Even at the time we proposed increasing our forces, we had no intention of interfering in French internal affairs. The danger which Europe faces is from the inordinate ambition of France and infection from their anarchical system. Those were our opinions when we went to war.
Another declaration of our interests is contained in Lord Hood’s declaration to the people of Toulon. He did not offer to restore this or that form of government, only to protect those in favour of monarchy. Then in October of that year H M made the same declaration. This all occurred last October. Now it is June, supplies have been granted for our forces, engagements made with our allies and operations of war concerted. This is not the time to abrogate our treaties, resile from our plans and adopt one or other of the courses Fox promotes. The opposition has flip-flopped all along. First they supported war; then they were not sure and ultimately, with the passage of the Emigrant Corps Bill (the legislative Act retrospectively legalising the raising of foreign battalions in Britain) they opposed it.
Fox supposes we intend to conquer France. It is our desire not to conquer but to save France and restore her to her former rank amongst nations. Fox thinks the war strengthens the Jacobin government and our wisest course is to withdraw that strength by terminating hostilities. This government is founded on principles that oppose tyranny. The French government has decreed that it will never make peace with a King.
We have obtained the possession of those French colonies we desire and their production will be a valuable addition to our resources but I should rather surrender them all than permit Jacobin principles to continue.
The House then voted 208/55 for the Address supporting the King.
Sat 25th Oct 1794
London news, 3rd June – The Whig opposition has argued for peace with France in both Houses:
- In the Lords, Bedford noted Pitt’s ministry ceased communicating with the French government after 10th August 1793 and stated their policy was to resist French territorial expansion. By March 1794 the French had been pushed back within their own national frontiers. That appeared to satisfy Pitt’s war aims.
- Thereafter Saxe-Cobourg and Dumouriez reached agreement for the latter to enter France with his army, re-establish monarchy and revive the Constitution that Louis XVI had granted.
- Meanwhile Britain made another treaty with the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel in which Article 15 indicates that the declared British war aims had changed. The King and his minister are now carrying on a war on grounds that have not been approved by parliament. On 23rd August, Lord Hood published a manifesto in Toulon saying British policy was to re-establish the 1789 Constitution. He took possession of Toulon in the name of Louis XVII, the heir of Louis XVI who is unrecognised in France.
- These anomalies were somewhat settled in January when the British minister at The Hague (Auckland) published a Memorial saying inter alia:
‘the unhappy French people presumed to establish a new order of society by destroying the former order. On 29th October 1793 the French King offered them a just Constitution but his neighbours withheld their support. The new French government has now failed in its attempt to seize territory in Flanders, etc., and peace should be arranged on just and equitable principles. The chance for peace makes it incumbent on Britain to agree not to interfere in French internal affairs’.
Bedford thought the present war could not be concluded in any other way. He mentioned the expansionary acts of Russia and Prussia in Poland whilst allied attention was focused on France.
Lord Auckland answered in so far as Bedford had criticised him.
Fitzwilliam answered in more detail but requested an adjournment. Other Tories – Mansfield, Grenville, Hawkesbury and Abington – supported adjournment while the Whig Lords – Grafton, Albemarle, Lauderdale and Lansdowne – warmly seconded Bedford. An adjournment was then voted 113:12.
- In the Commons, Fox made the motion for peace (c.f. his speech above). It was a nicely constructed speech but contained nothing new. Only Jenkinson replied non-committally (ministers were silent) causing Sheridan to complain of ministerial conduct. The Speaker then censured Sheridan. The House divided and the vote was 220:55 to continue the war.
Sat 25th Oct 1794
On 21st June Grenville introduced a proposal in the Lords to commend Lord Hood. He said ‘the triumphs of Lord Hood are so numerous it is unnecessary to enumerate them, we merely need to congratulate him for distinguished services’.
Lauderdale disagreed. He reviewed what Hood had done and considered those acts inferior to Sir Charles Grey in West Indies or Admiral Howe in the Channel. He warned against commending military men frivolously – the national gratitude should be given only to really deserving officers, he said.
Grenville reviewed Hood’s acts as well and found them praiseworthy.
Derby characterised Grenville’s proposal as an attempt by the administration to bask in reflected glory. They had overlooked the demolition of Toulon and the destruction of 14 or 15 ships-of-the-line in its harbour until the end of the session just as they had overlooked the recent French recapture of Bastia in Corsica. He noted in the latter case that there had been no publication of an Extraordinary Gazette which ministers have become want to publish for the most trivial of reasons.
Bedford commenced a minute examination of Hood’s conduct and found in it a series of errors and inconsistencies from start to finish.
Hawkesbury thought Hood’s actions worthy of commendation.
Lauderdale disagreed. He thought the capture of Bastia was not comparable to the capture of Valenciennes in which the King’s son (Duke of York) had fought so well but had received no thanks from parliament. He thought Bastia was useless to England and Hood should have stayed in the Channel and co-operated with Earl Howe.
The Lord Chancellor said Hood had achieved his objects and was entitled to national gratitude. The vote was 5 for commendation, 31 against – a rare ministerial defeat in a poorly attended House.
Sat 25th Oct 1794
Europe news to 27th June – The Duke of Mecklenburg has died and is succeeded by his brother Charles Louis Frederick who is 52 years old and has many children. Two blue ribands fall vacant on the Duke’s death – the Burg Strelitz and the Marquisate of Hartford.
Sat 25th Oct 1794
Letter from Brussels, 4th July – The allies have withdrawn from Ghent, Mons, Tournay, the posts around Jemappe and the fortified camp at Maulde. Some of our other forward places are surrounded and besieged. The allied forces are retiring towards Dutch Flanders via Antwerp and to Maastricht via Louvain.
The victorious French again control navigation on the Scheldt. Residents of the towns we have abandoned are now exposed to the wishes of the French army.
Brussels has become a military camp with allied soldiers of all nations staying briefly then passing through. Fleeing émigrés are particularly numerous.
Sat 25th Oct 1794
Il Nuovo Postiglione, 19th July – reciting a report from Amsterdam of 6th July:
Field Marshall Mollendorff has told his army that 62,400 of his Prussian troops are not employed by England but merely subsidised by that country in the same way they had been subsidised in the Seven Years War. They are entirely under his control. Cornwallis has gone to persuade the Prussians to enter the Low Countries – they have been asked several times but still delay. Fortunately the French are also quiet in Schweingen, Bliekassel and Saarbrucken.
The British government fears for Ostend. Its threatened loss will jeopardise the large stores and magazines we have placed there and cut communications with Germany. We have inundated the surrounding area with sea water in defence of the town. The last time it was so extensively flooded, in 12th century, it took decades to recover (i.e. no local provisions to be had).
(NB – these reports follow the opening of the new fighting season in April for which the Austrian Emperor assembled his Imperial, Prussian, English and Dutch forces between the Sambre and Scheldt Rivers preparatory to marching on and besieging Landrecy. The armies met a stubborn resistance but took 30 cannon and 30-odd war chests along with a few hundred prisoners. The French army under General Pichegru counter-attacked all along the line between Landrecy and the sea and could only be held back by repeated cavalry charges. These battles continued for 10 hours until the French withdrew. The French lost 8,000 killed and 1,500 captured. One of the prisoners is General Chapuy who had the French plan of attack for West Flanders in his pocket. Saxe-Cobourg was enabled to divert 14 battalions to frustrate the French plan. Nevertheless, allied losses were considerable and the English cavalry was particularly distressed. France has improved her position in West Flanders and threatens allied communications by sea.)
Sat 1st Nov 1794
European news from the Italian press:
- Italian newspapers received from Jersey dated 5th June 1794 assert that the Royalist army of la Vendée has 80,000 men. They have recovered from their defeat at Mans and have retaken several towns. They cannot advance on Nantes until they are supplied with ammunition. They have been told an allied army is marching on Paris from the north and they expect reinforcement from it. Another 15,000 Royalists are located near Fougers and some further troops are dispersed at Rennes, Vitre and Pingpont. Many of the parishes around Vannes are supporting the Royalists. They object to the Revolutionary forces who cut off their food supplies and destroy their houses.
- Another Italian paper of 12th June 1794 says that between 24th – 27th May there were 136 guillotinings at Paris. One victim was Osselin, a representative in both assemblies. Another two representatives, Salle and Guadet, were arrested at Bordeaux and brought back for punishment. A fourth, Barbaroux, avoided the guillotine by shooting himself.
- Piedmont is said to have rebelled and the French have withdrawn from Mondovi and secured themselves at Figueras and Pippol. The Revolutionary army was decisively defeated in a battle in one of the valleys of the Lower Navarre and lost 4,000 men.
- Leghorn, 18th June – The English fleet has maintained a blockade from Iles d’Hyeres to Nice. Admiral Hotham has 9 ships-of-the-line and 7 frigates. At end May Hotham had to move offshore due to contrary winds and this allowed the departure of the French fleet from Toulon. It comprised 7 ships-of-the-line and 8 frigates and some transports with 10,000 men. The frigate HMS Juno left here on 30th May with oxen, grain and vegetables for Hotham’s blockade. It was intercepted by two of the French frigates but attacked and confused them, facilitating its escape. It then alerted the blockading ships who are in pursuit.
- Forty English transports have arrived at Corsica with food, ammunition and 4,000 troops. The remainder of the Corsican expedition is expected daily.
Sat 1st Nov 1794
News from Paris, 23rd June:
- The CPS is completely absorbed in a conspiracy discovered by Lacot that is said to involve the Hanoverian Baron Jean de Batz as the agent of a foreign government which lavishly finances him. Batz has agents in all the Parisian districts, in the departmental administrations, in the municipalities and in the prison service. He enjoys the confidence of the brothers of the late King. He has received coded correspondence which is assumed to be from Royalists.
- His initial plan was to rescue the Queen and then to promote a counter-revolution. 36 of his accomplices have been arrested and beheaded (all named in the article). They are nobles, the servants of nobles and some businessmen.
- 73 people have been guillotined this past three days. They include Amiral who tried to assassinate Collot d’Herbois and Mme Renauld, the young girl who intended to kill Robespierre and her entire family who were deemed guilty by association.
- Earlier on 22nd April the virtuous Malesherbes was beheaded.
- The National Convention requires all individuals and municipalities to report the harvest quantities so speculators may have less chance to profit from it.
Sat 1st Nov 1794
Berne, 24th June – many important émigrés are resident in this town including Mounier, the ex-National Convention member, Montesquieu, Petion, Madam Genlis and one of her daughters and some of the sons of the Duc d’Orleans.
Dumouriez is also here but moving from house to house for his security.
Sat 15th Nov 1794
Cologne Gazette on the National Convention proceedings, 5th July:
Barrere of the CPS says recent military successes are numerous. The Department of Jemappe is restored to France, Ostend is ours with all its ships, guns and ammunition. Tournay has just fallen to us, giving us the navigation of the Scheldt. The capture of Mons gives us the navigation of the Ath. The enemy garrisons at Conde, Valenciennes, Landrecy and Quesnoy have been separated from the enemy armies:
London will now start to feel the terror which all its allies have been experiencing for so long.
We will purify French territory in a way that is sacred and terrible – all the garrisons of these four towns are to be executed unless they surrender unconditionally. This is our national will – to impress upon them the lesson of war.
This is not the time for peace. If we negotiate with these people today, they will be back tomorrow. It is the dead alone who will never return. We will immortalise this campaign. Kings will cease conspiring when they no longer exist. Let us make a vigorous war of extermination.
Barrere invited the Convention to agree that the Army of the North had continually served France well.
Sat 15th Nov 1794
A private letter of July from Tournay reveals that the HRH Duke of York was briefly surrounded by Carmagnoles during the battle and fled with an Austrian General and two other horsemen. They galloped into a village but found a column of French troops in possession of it. The French assumed the Duke was leading a charge and fired off a single volley before retiring. The volley killed the Austrian General. Then the French realised their error and pursued the Duke to a nearby stream. The Duke leapt off his horse and waded across to meet some of Captain Murray’s detachment and thus made his way back to Tournay.
Sat 15th Nov 1794
The snow Sullimany has arrived from Muscat with a letter-packet from Europe via Basra. The packet contains private letters, Company letters, London newspapers down to 20th June, Leiden Gazettes to 8th July and Cologne Gazettes to 10th July. None of it is more recent than the papers previously brought by Mr Baldwin from Alexandria.
Ostend is being evacuated by the allies. Our army is first burning its stores, spiking the guns and making the place worthless.
The Dutch have taken Bruges and opened the Scheldt to permit Antwerp to become the point of communication between England and the allied armies.
Sat 15th Nov 1794
Loudon Gazette, 25th May – Mongaillard, a National Convention member, suspected Robespierre of intending his arrest, and fled to the Austrians on 6th May. He says there are 450,000 prisoners in France, 680 million livres (£28 millions) are in the Treasury and he estimates that 7/9ths of all the property in France is at the disposal of the CPS as a result of confiscations from the church, the nobility and the Estates of those executed.
He says Robespierre has dictatorial control of the National Convention. When the Convention sits, he closely observes the members for their responses to news of French military successes. He expects, should the allies obtain a victory, that their hidden supporters in France will attempt insurrection.
Sat 15th Nov 1794
French news to 16th June – On 8th June all Paris celebrated the new Festival to the Eternal at the Tuilleries (now called the National Palace). Robespierre as President of the National Convention, acted as National Minister of the new forms of worship. A paper representation of various religious beliefs, including atheism, was set alight in the garden and as the paper burned away, a statue of Wisdom was revealed underneath. Robespierre then addressed the crowd on the virtues necessary to be good Republicans. This was followed by a prayer to the Supreme Being and the whole party moved off to Champs de Mars where hymns were sung by separate choirs of men, women, youths and children. The format of the ceremonies appeared to be based on the ancients.
The entire proceeding was stage managed. For example, the proclamation that had been circulated long before directed “after the holocaust of atheism, the President will ascend the Tribune and again address the people who will answer with shouts of gladness.”
An account of the feast and Robespierre’s two addresses was afterwards circulated to the Departments.
Sat 22nd Nov 1794
Il Nuovo Postiglione – another 51 people have been beheaded in Paris. The list includes Duc de Noailles, Duc de Broglio who recently joined the Republicans, the two Duchesses of Biron, both widows and the Count de Polastron.
Some of them were convicted of attending a secret Mass.
Sat 22nd Nov 1794
New Constitutional arrangements for France, 16th June:
Two days after the Festival to the Eternal, Couthon of the CPS proposed to the National Convention that the Revolutionary Tribunal, established to hear crimes against the State, be reorganised.
Before reading the proposal Couthon said the institution of appointed official defenders in the Tribunal was absurd and would be abolished by this decree.
The Tribunal would comprise a President, three vice Presidents, a Prosecutor, four assistant Prosecutors, twelve Judges and fifty jurors. Dumas is appointed permanent President and Fouquerier is permanent Prosecutor. The Tribunal will be divided into sections composed of twelve members – three Judges and nine Jurors of whom a majority of seven (judges and jurors) is required for a decision.
The Tribunal will hear all cases against enemies of the people – those who subvert popular liberty by force or guile.
Crimes within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal are:
- attempting to re-establish Royalty;
- vilifying the National Convention or the government it directs;
- treasonous Generals;
- those who correspond with enemies of the people;
- those who prevent provisioning of the army;
- those who prevent provisioning of Paris or cause famine in the Republic;
- those who help aristocrats or counter-revolutionaries to escape;
- those who persecute patriotism by corrupting the Deputies or abusing the principles of the Revolution, its laws or legitimate orders;
- those who deceive the people or the Deputies by promoting measures contrary to the liberty of the people;
- those who discourage the people in favour of autocratic enemies;
- those who spread false reports or otherwise mislead the people tending to deprave the purity of the Revolution by whatever means;
- those who arrest national progress by peculation;
- those in public office who abuse their trust;
In short all counter-revolutionaries whosoever who conspire against the liberty, unity and safety of the Republic. The penalty for all these offences is death.
Proof of guilt may be established documentarily. Jurors are expected to love their country and consult their consciences when evaluating evidence. The object of the Tribunals is to consolidate support for the Republic and ruin its enemies. Every citizen has the power to arrest and bring before a magistrate any person suspected of conspiracy against the revolution. All complaints to the Tribunal must be referred via one of the official bodies – the National Convention, the commissary representatives of the people in the National Convention, the CPS, the Committee of Public Welfare (CPW) or the Tribunal prosecutor – but no prosecution may be commenced without the explicit approval of the CPS and the CPW.
The accused will be questioned in public. Evidence obtained from interviews prior to trial is inadmissible unless deemed essential to establish truth. Evidence must be presented orally by witnesses unless they are incompetent, in which case they must hold express authority from CPS and CPW to give evidence in some other way. Any evidence arising independent of witness statements is admissible only to discover accomplices or for other reasons in the public interest.
Defendants charged with Conspiracy may have no defender. Others may rely on the patriotism of the Jurors for their defence.
On conclusion of the hearing the jurors will announce their verdict and the Judges will make their award.
The Prosecutor is not empowered to discharge any defendant. In all cases where the evidence appears, in his opinion, inadequate to secure a safe conviction, he will make a written submission to the Chamber of the National Convention which will decide the matter.
The Tribunal and the Prosecutor will maintain separate registers of all defendants and record all cases sequentially.
All former laws conflicting with this decree are annulled.
These arrangements do not apply to Tribunals dealing with ordinary crime. They will continue to operate in the usual way. The publication of this decree in the Government Gazette is its promulgation.
Sat 29th Nov 1794
In the last edition we published the proposals of CPS, presented 16th May, for a reformed Revolutionary Tribunal to hear offences against the State. Some of the National Convention membership sought to amend the proposal.
Ruamps and Lecointre de Versailles requested the proposals be printed and distributed and a decision reached subsequently. Robespierre expressed surprise and said such delay would jeopardise national safety. On this assertion, the decree was passed.
Next day Bourdon de l’Oise asked for an explanation of the 10th Article which empowers the CPS and CPW to bring citizens before the Tribunal. He thought National Convention members should be exempted from the Article. Merlin de Douai agreed. He said the existing law was that no Deputy could be called before the Tribunal except by Decree. There was no need for discussion – the CPS proposal must be amended. This was agreed.
The CPS members, who were at that time absent from the Chamber, were displeased when they learned of the amendment. It is precisely the dissident members of the Convention whom they seek to make accountable. The CPS members all attended the next sitting at which Lacroix asked for an explanation of another Article.
Couthon for the CPS said that the measures had been discussed and approved and it was too late to reconsider them. He considered the amendment proposed by Bourdon as offensive. He recalled the National Convention had voted its complete confidence in the CPS and the CPS had done nothing to displace that confidence. “If you do not approve our proposals we will resign,” he said. Bourdon said his anxiety derived from his extreme patriotism and his esteem for the CPS. But he also esteemed the National Convention and the incorruptible Mountain which had proved itself the foundation of French liberty.
Robespierre objected to expressions of esteem for the National Convention, the CPS or the Mountain – ‘they are all one’. Opponents to the Revolution (monarchists) are present in this assembly and we must vigorously oppose them. The only distinction to be made of the members of our institutions is ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Friends of the Mountain must support liberty and not share that honour with rascals who merely purport to do so. Bourdon shouted “I am not a rascal’ and Robespierre said he had not named Bourdon but he knew there were rascals amongst those who claimed to support the Mountain. He recalled that when the law was passed, several members did not conceal their dissent and a scandalous scene occurred outside the Chamber in which two CPS spies were abused and beaten by Members with each party threatening to get its complaint in first and get the other guillotined.
Lacroix and Merlin de Douai supposed themselves to be the object of Robespierre’s complaint. They protested their patriotism and purity. Tallien started to tell the legislators that he had been followed for an hour by five suspicious people but was interrupted by Robespierre who indignantly said it was Tallien who had threatened to guillotine the CPS spies before they could commend his own beheading. Tallien demanded to reply but Baillaud Varennes and Barrere interceded and Barrere moved that the amendment be rescinded which was agreed. French legislators are now amenable to the law of treason as adjudicated by the Revolutionary Tribunal.
Sat 29th Nov 1794
Leiden Gazette of 25th May and the following edition reports Robespierre’s speech to the National Convention:
It is our sublime object to suppress anti-revolutionary conspiracies, to submit to the Great Eternal and to defeat tyrants everywhere. Thus we lay the foundation of the first government to extol liberty, virtue and justice.
It seems necessary to recall to your attention the torrent of crimes that our enemies have launched against us. Have you forgotten the endless plots they have fomented. Do we have to hear all their dark and filthy activities again. The National Convention represents 30 million Frenchmen who unitedly declare the British, Austrians and Prussians are alone responsible for all the miseries we have endured for the last 5 years. You should rejoice and thank God that the CPS has opposed tyranny. Our work is as dangerous as a soldier’s on the battlefield. We pay the same debt to our country that he does. Defending humanity is dangerous and difficult.
A few months ago I addressed you “if the arms of the Republic be victorious, if we tear the veil from the faces of the traitors, if we overwhelm faction, the Combined Powers will fail to secure our assassination.”
I value my life only because it enables me to do good for France and support justice. I am energised against all conspirators who oppose my country, human nature and God. The greater their efforts to kill me, the more I am energised to resist them. Should they succeed, my Will will reveal the momentous secrets that prudence requires me to conceal. Those revelations will make tyrants tremble. It will disclose the object to which our Revolution is directed.
The progress of the revolution continues and the fate of our country is not yet fixed. Vigilance is crucial. Our Republic will not be made by military victories or wealth or enthusiasm – it is dependent on virtue founded upon law. The purity of government requires three things for its maintenance:
- law to regulate conduct,
- government to urge, counsel and direct and
- morality to regenerate.
If any one of these three essential parts fails, we will not succeed. Vice and tyranny are the same thing. They are inseparable. Whoever oppresses another creates inequality. Whoever is not master of himself is a slave to some other. Our danger comes from ambitious men who patronise villains and counter-revolutionaries and project intrigue and conspiracy to corrupt public morals.
Attempts have been made to create dissension and confusion. It is necessary to maintain moral and political harmony. The French people have two guarantees of success – their own innate morality and the genuinely representative nature of this assembly. If we allow corruption into the Legislature, even for a second, liberty is endangered and our revolution may be placed in jeopardy. So far your unanimity and energy have astonished all Europe. If you held the level of confidence in your success that our enemies hold, triumph will be easy and complete.
We have two types of people in France – the great overwhelming mass of pure and virtuous citizens and a tiny minority of intriguing men who involve themselves in everything, looking for self-advantage – cheats, people inculcated in the old ways (the ways of foreigners) and hypocritical counter-revolutionaries who insert themselves between the people and their representatives to create anarchy and dissent.
So long as some people retain this impurity in their hearts our Republic is insecure. It is you members of the National Convention who must protect us by your energy and unanimity. Those who do not co-operate in this national endeavour are enemies. They are the foreign agents – the Dantons, Brissots and Heberts.
In this few years I have seen the people of France raised from degrading slavery to the pinnacle of glory and virtue. It is enough for one life. At the beginning we saw the astonishing perseverance of the King’s corruption, which our own inexperience had not prepared us for. Now I see an assembly empowered by the people, racing towards public happiness delivered under the principles of equality and liberty. Complete this sublime purpose. Use the sword of virtue to slay all the monsters who conspire against you and enjoy the peace that will result.
…. continued in the next edition from Leiden Gazette:
Bourdon de l’Oise and Tallien appear likely to be arrested soon.
On 14th June Lacoste of the CPS addressed the National Convention to report a conspiracy but it involved the foreign-inspired activities of Baron de Batz and his group – Admiral Cecile Regnault, the wives of Laval Montmorency, d’Espremeneuil and St Amaranthe (the last-named is known for the gaming house she operated at the Palais Royale), the son of de Sartine – amongst a great number of others. They are all to be tried by the Revolutionary Tribunal. Many accomplices are said to be already imprisoned for other offences and the Prosecutor is instructed to discover all involved.
On 15th June Le Chartreux and Dom Gerle, an ex-National Convention deputy, and several of his followers who uphold Catholicism, were sent to the Revolutionary Tribunal as well. The leadership of the CPS is being consolidated by military victories on the frontiers and in Flanders. In the south we have long heard nothing from the army of the Pyrenees but on 10th June Barrere reported it had stormed a Spanish camp and taken 450 prisoners.
Barrere expostulated against the rumour mill which had maliciously reported the French driven out of Valenciennes and Quesnoy; expelled from occupation of Turin, the imprisonment of its King (of Piedmont-Sardinia).
He said the enemies of France are still active – at first they predicted misfortunes; now they exaggerate every success. This jobbing with public opinion continues in spite of harsh penalties. The CPS warns all Frenchmen to guard against delusive joy derived from reports of exaggerated success.
The foreign newspapers are endlessly misleading – they either exaggerate or alarm. The former is flattery, the latter is the act of an enemy. We should eschew both as the propagation of these rumours, in either case, is counter-revolutionary and merits death.
Sat 3rd Jan 1795
Naples, 9th June 1794 – An eruption of Vesuvius has killed 14,000 Neapolitans. The lava has created a new peninsula in the sea beyond the Torre del Greco. A second flow of lava approached Refina and destroyed everything in its path. All the trees and houses for miles around are covered in ash.
(In the next edition the Editor adds that towards the end of the eruption a copious shower of hot rain fell)
Sat 10th Jan 1795
Letter from Galatea, 5th July 1794 – Robert Liston, our new ambassador to the Ottoman Porte, appears capable of providing British merchants with the security they have lacked under his predecessors but its an uphill task.
There are three French families here who formally come under British protection but the Porte is persuaded to offer his protection to all Republicans, notwithstanding Liston’s contrary advice, and is determined to maintain a strict neutrality.
HMS Rodney recently took the French frigate Sybele at Mincora. The French have asked the Porte to be neutral. Liston does his best but we fear our merchant shipping will be exposed once the British frigates leave.
Sat 10th Jan 1795
Dumouriez is now living in exile in Switzerland. In April 1794 he wrote he would soon be 55 years old. Here is a brief review of his biography:
He was born in Cambrai of a noble but poor family. On completing his education at 18 years he entered the army. By the time he was 22 years he had 22 wounds and a Cross of St Louis. After the Seven Years War he travelled. In 1768 he was sent to Corsica and in 1769 made Colonel. In 1770 the Duc de Choiseul sent him to Poland as minister to the Confederates. The Polish revolution failed and the country was partitioned. In 1772 the War Minister Marquis de Montignard employed him in his ministry and sent him to Sweden on the occurrence of their revolution. This employment became known to the Duc d’Acquillon, minister for foreign affairs, who intercepted Dumouriez at Hamburg and imprisoned him in the Bastille in 1773. Dumouriez says Louis XV then concealed his order to send Dumouriez to Sweden and left him alone to face the criminal charge of the Duc. He was exiled to Caen for three months. In 1774 Louis XV died, d’Acquillon was disgraced and Dumouriez petitioned Louis XVI for a trial. The ministers de Muy, de Vergennes and de Sartines were his Judges and released him.
As a Colonel he was then sent to Lille to learn the new Prussian manoeuvres. He did some military training on rivers and port works. In 1776 he surveyed La Manche for the construction of a new port. In 1777 he took a sabbatical until the American War commenced whereupon he was given the command of Cherbourg, which he assessed as a better port that the Hague, and remained there until 1789. In that decade Cherbourg grew from 7,000 to 20,000 inhabitants. As a General, Dumouriez now received 20,000 livres (c. £800) per year salary.
When the National Convention sought to degrade the Generals he went to Paris to study the ideology and purpose of the Revolution. The Princes, by running away at that time, destroyed the King’s cause and the King’s use of his veto was pregnant with danger. In 1791 Dumouriez commanded the lines from Nantes to Bordeaux. The civil war in La Vendée was about religion and the Royalists destroyed everything whilst Dumouriez was supposed to prevent them. In February 1792 he went to Paris and became Lt General and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He supported war and the King too. After three months he became depressed by the factional interests at Paris and the failure of the King-in-Council to sanction two of Dumouriez’s decrees. He wanted to resign but was refused and instead given the Ministry of War. This was a job of intrigue for which he found himself unsuited and after three days he resigned. The émigrés say he was dismissed but they lie – ‘the King sought fruitlessly for two days to dissuade me and we parted both in tears’ he says.
The war has been splendidly successful to France. If the administration had wisdom equal to its virtue, peace would have been arranged long ago; Louis would have lived; anarchy would never have arisen, and France would have prospered under her Constitution (of 1789)
Sat 10th Jan 1795
The Royalist Mallet du Pan has published a pro-émigré pamphlet in London – Dangers which threaten Europe. He says odious and criminal machinations are legion. People are adopting any means to achieve success. Even Kings and ministers are involved.
Before this revolution the soldiers of France were honourable. Then the King was killed, the people applauded and the soldiers supported his executioners. Emotion has given fire to violence. Some countries talk of treaties and neutrality as though they can make equitable treaties with tigers. When fire breaks out we are all obliged to extinguish it. We should not concern ourselves with the strength of the revolutionaries but with their principles.
France is vast and rich, well defended with the best artillery in Europe. It is distinguished by the impetuosity of its people. Today this country’s commerce is annihilated. At the first moments of national disorganisation, foreign powers might have confidently relied on the support of the French people, but the moment passed and the people have since been cowed by the frightful violence of the new regime. The collapse of the economy put many of them out of work and the only employer in the market was the French army – starve or fight. Their exposure to the immorality of warfare had hardened them to plunder and violence.
Our sophisticated country has been transformed from a workshop of the arts into a workshop of arms. Armies have arisen where none were before – La Vendée, Lyon, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Toulon, etc., – and a generation of Frenchmen has arisen who require war for their subsistence. For the first half year of the Revolution, the politicians said violence was unthinkable and its results evanescent. Now peace is unthinkable.
The ruffians controlling government have seized two thirds of landed property (the holdings of the nobility, church, convicted traitors) and an astonishing quantity of treasure. They have sacked the great cities of Lyon, Marseilles etc. They have issued an endless torrent of assignats which maintain the army and are used for all internal payments. The army is provisioned by requisition. French enemies have to pay their troops with silver but not France – she opens a printing shop and pays everyone as much as they want. The real money is used to pay government emissaries operating in every country and to buy the grain of neutrals. A further advantage of the democrats is they fight in defence of French soil which excites the allegiance of the citizens. They can replenish their losses by conscription whilst the allies have to hire more mercenaries.
Sat 24th Jan 1795
Unidentified London Editor’s opinion of Fox:
Fox leads the opposition in the Commons. As a young man he commented on the American war. He was bold and violent in his speech. Now he has been honed by experience and his asperity has faded. He now seldom makes personal attacks but he displays the same zeal for liberty, the same sallies of the unexpected and a mastery of reasoning.
He is quite unlike Pitt who is graceful and eloquent in his language, and clear-speaking – Fox in the flood of passion is quick-talking and sometimes difficult to follow. Pitt speaks from his head, Fox from his heart.
Fox is like Pericles “who was said (by Quintilian) to speak in thunder and lightning.” Fox’s most unpopular political decision was the coalition with Lord North. He then quarrelled with North over the American War and the spat seemed to outlive the war. People unfamiliar with the demands of partisan politics, ‘that accursed system,’ find fault in Fox for this.
I think he was most culpable in that Middlesex election when he acted against every principle of liberty but he was still young then.
He is now accused of holding democratic principles. He applauds liberty in France and wishes to repeal the Test Acts. He is surrounded by aristocratic friends who can hardly share his views. He is beholden to the Cavendish and Bentinck families and cannot be too openly democratic. His wish for religious equality is inexpedient but liberal, indeed ‘liberality’ is his defining characteristic. Like most socially-minded liberals he is an extreme lover of pleasure which his enemies try to make much of. He seems to be quite indiscriminate in his opposition to everything the ministry seeks to do – but this appearance proceeds from the partisan nature of the Commons.
Sat 31st Jan 1795
A packet of mails has been received at Bombay from Basra via Muscat containing European news up to 15th August (NB – this comes via the British consul at Aleppo, see below). The major items are:
- Santo Domingo has fallen to us with the reduction of Port au Prince and an immense amount of treasure (reportedly £3 millions) has been found there together with 40 ships in harbour loaded with West Indian productions. France is removed from the West Indies. Our naval strength has given us a monopoly of colonial produce, east and west, with the attendant commercial advantages.
- Pitt remains minister. He has accepted the support of the Portland party. The Duke of Portland is made Home Secretary, his son (Marquis Titchfield) is made a Privy Councillor and Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex; Windham is War Secretary.
- Parliament is prorogued only from 11th July to 19th Aug in view of the war.
- The returning East India fleet of 39 sail (valued at £8 millions, hull and cargo) has reached the Downs safely.
- Maximillian Robespierre is one of 70 people recently guillotined in Paris.
- 3% consols are at 67½.
Sat 31st Jan 1795
George III’s Address on closing parliament, 11th July:
The war is too important and must be prosecuted zealously. Do not be dispirited by the late French successes in the Low Countries. I am greatly satisfied by our conquests in East and West Indies; by our successes in the Mediterranean and by the splendid victory of Admiral Lord Howe.
I thank the Commons for the liberal subsidies they have granted this year and the support they provide. I thank the Lords for their help in discovering the popular conspiracies against the government and Constitution. I shall prudently but vigorously use the additional power you have granted me for the protection of my people. I will suppress every enterprise that threatens tranquillity. These projects are essentially connected with France and that system is irreconcilable with ours. Only victory in war can make us safe.
Sat 31st Jan 1795
After a levee that was held later at St James, the Privy Council met and agreed a dispatch to Lord Spencer, our man on the continent.
After the Council, the Lord Chancellor, Pitt, Dundas, Duke of Portland, Earl of Chatham, Lord Amherst and Windham held a long meeting with the King.
Afterwards Dundas moved into his new office at the Horse Guards (formerly the residence of Sir Charles Morgan) where he can more conveniently do the war business of the Admiralty, assisted by Evan Nepean.
- These two parargraphs are edited from Sir James Mackintosh’s Vindiciae Gallicae, a response to Burke’s earlier monarchical polemic that had shaped British opinion. In Mackintosh’s words “Priests would be, in a nation of sceptics, contemptible – in a nation of fanatics, omnipotent.” Sir James, as a lawyer, also defends revolutionary changes to the French Judiciary however I have omitted these.
The basis to the Catholic Church’s temporal sovereignty is formed by the deal Pope Leo struck with Charlemagne. On the one hand, the church received land in Rome, the Po Valley and along the Adriatic coast from which to raise additional revenue; on the other, the Vicar of Christ bestowed God’s blessing on the Holy Roman Emperor, placed the crown on his head and alluded to the biblical record wherein it is said Augustus Caesar published an Edict that all the world was to be taxed.↵
- In The Manuscript of St Helena which appears very likely his work.↵
- “Trickle-down” appears to be beguiling propaganda. Rich people are rich because they preserve their wealth, commonly in land and buildings. If they spent it as the ‘trickle-down’ exponents suppose, they would soon be poor.↵
- Overcoming Constitutional provisions was and is easy in Britain – see the Political Management chapter.↵
- Throughout this work the Ottoman Sultan is called the Porte↵
- At this time and into the Risorgimento, the strongest Italian state was Piedmont. It was owned predominately by employees of the Catholic church.↵
- The heart of Europe along the Rhine at this time was occupied by some 300 small states all nominally members of the Austrian Empire but belonging to minor royals, ministers and bishops and operated by their owners on a revenue-raising basis. An important source of income for some states was the rental of citizens to fight in the neighbours’ wars but an invariable source of funds was a tax on trade passing along the Rhine. This prevented the river becoming an important trade route.↵
- Add that Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man is banned. He himself was charged in London with Sedition on 8th June 1792 in respect of the contents of the Rights of man book, tried in abstentia on 18th December and sentenced to death. These monarchical or ministerial Proclamations and prosecutions elicit the popular belief that the country is in danger. They appear to be George III’s response to the trial of Louis XVI.↵
- The Convention was done 27th August 1791. It bound Prussia, Austria, some Bourbon princes and others to ‘effectually interfere in France to restore the King’.↵
- Which battle gave the Scheldt to France and is the proximate commercial cause of impending war, excluding the ideological argument.↵
- Burke’s misleading polemic on the French Revolution was responsible for forming British opinion on the subject and may thus be considered as a cause of war. He was clearly deeply opposed to democracy.↵
- Tarleton represents Liverpool and is the main parliamentary supporter of the slave trade. His comment is astonishing.↵
- Before Napoleon, the French legislature displayed corruption or stupidity in its adoption of repeated printings of fiat money. Had Napoleon not assumed the government and ended the money-printing scam the country would have been defeated much earlier.↵
- Another Bourbon rules the Two Sicilies from Naples and a third rules Spain.↵
- Note that the British government is employing an army of counterfeiters to produce assignats for distribution in France. The same is being done in Amsterdam and Switzerland. Thiers “French Revolution” quantifies the fall in value in late 1792 at 30%.↵
- The armed forces are well-represented in the Houses of Parliament. Military MPs trade their martial reputations for seats in geographical constituencies.↵
- Against seditious publications, the seed of democratic infection that is to be suppressed.↵
- Hugues Bernard Maret’s interview with Pitt on 22nd December 1792 which appeared to resolve difficulties until the execution of Louis XVI a month later. Maret’s second mission to London in January was ineffectual.↵
- A buoyant business in the production and sale of forged assignats developed in Amsterdam and Switzerland prior to British forgeries. See Del Mar “Money and Civilisation.”↵
- Auckland and Dumouriez were primarily fixing the terms of the latter’s defection to the monarchical cause. He agreed to march his army on Paris and only Bourbon influence seems to have prevented it, they being intent on leading any victorious army into France themselves. It was knowledge of Dumouriez’s treachery that provoked the French Declaration of War.
It seems to have been a common ploy of the time to provoke one’s enemy into a Declaration as it made one’s own position appear responsive. In fact the amendment of the 19th November decree allows the suggestion France did not seek for war with England.↵
- A reference to the Decree of 19th November 1792 offering French help to all who chose freedom. It was not amended for several weeks after publication. Apparently, Brissot was tried and convicted of sedition in London. I have found no record of the charge or proceedings.↵
- Baraillon’s shrewd amendment to restrict application of the Decree to countries at war with France thus restored its application to Britain once allied negotiations with Dumouriez became known in Paris and war was declared.↵
- Maret joined the French Foreign Ministry after the King’s removal from power in August 1792. He actually visited London twice – in December 1792 when his interview with Pitt appeared to identify a basis to peace and again in January 1793 after Louis XVI’s execution when George III’s horror of regicide prevented any progress.↵
- An apparent reference to Grenville’s 12th January meetings with the Prussian and Austrian ambassadors to London.↵
- Chauvelin was expelled on the execution of Louis XVI.↵
- The Chancellor’s speech is broadly misleading but he may have particularly regretted including this allegation of fraud when, shortly thereafter, he extended British paper money to everyday exchange.
Fraud was involved in Pitt’s production of forged Assignats that were said to be indistinguishable from originals but this was considered a ruse de guerre. It explains his expectation of French financial collapse.↵
- Ominously prescient of the coming twenty years of total war.↵
- George III is already at war with France as Elector Hanover. The interests of monarchy were well-served by the long war as became lucidly apparent in the acts of the Holy Alliance after its conclusion.↵
- FitzGerald is a son of the Duke of Leinster and a cousin of C J Fox.↵
- The deal with Auckland and the Prussians.↵
- York is George III’s second son and Commander-in-Chief of British Forces.↵
- Apparently a suggestion of ministerial theft.↵
- A means whereby the King and Privy Council make new law extending the thrust of an Act of Parliament as part of the Royal Prerogative. Orders-in-Council flourished in this part of British history.↵
- St Petersburg was generally called just Petersburg at the time. This report seems to allow the inference of the central role George III assumed on behalf of the Kings.↵
- It was primarily a restraint in favour of London commerce with N W Germany.↵
- An insightful paragraph. When British treatment of Maret is added to Auckland’s negotiations with Dumouriez, the French declaration becomes an inevitable response.↵
- The Editor adds a comment on Whitbread, the famous brewer and an outstanding member of the reforming Whig minority in the Commons, who protested on 12th June against a libel printed in the morning paper The World. The gist of the libel and the protest are in this week’s Supplement, which is unavailable in my copy of the paper, but likely emulates the public attack on Grey recited earlier.↵
- This appears to derogate from the agreement binding the myriad states of the Austrian Empire along the Rhine between Bavaria and Denmark. Several sources mention a Constitutionally-guaranteed measure of autonomy – each Elector must be persuaded to war or not to war.↵
- A reference to the Commercial Credit Act which provided public money to companies in financial difficulty on their assigning a lien on their stock or Bills to the Treasury. Their losses were due, as usual, to speculation not war – see the Economy chapter.↵
- This initiative was to remove that 10+% of National Convention membership who are not supportive of Jacobin policy↵
- Tallien was a despicable profiteer at a time when France had discovered many exceptionally talented administrators.↵
- Prince William, 3rd son of George III. Later to become William IV.↵
- For news of Toulon which was first reported at this date, please see the Toulon & Corsica chapter.↵
- Vieusseux had written to the officials of Basel that if they did not defend the defiles and gorges in their territory, he would. This letter is their response. Vieusseux knew the Austrians had crossed the river and encamped. He suspects they will pass through Basel to get to upper Alsace. The Austrians have identified a term in the Treaty of Westphalia, 1648, that reserved their right to use this route if Porentruy needed assistance. They have crossed the river under this authority.↵
- The Bourbon family does not simply wish to recover its country; it wishes to do so at the head of a French army to ensure no one else takes over. York’s proposal does not meet this condition.↵
- This expression of Pitt’s should be noted. ‘What is to be gained from war’ is the rationale to all Pitt’s wartime measures. It introduces war on foreign commerce and finance and on the distribution of information – total war. Once Pitt knew the King insisted on war he had no choice but to sell it to the MPs as something they too could profit from. The same concern underwrites the US Congressional attitude to war today (post 9/11) – “what is to be gained?” The Royal Navy was the tool used to defeat all the war-fleets of the world. Naval victories brought those defeated warships to England to be refitted as our own. This brought the High Seas under British dominion. The crews were rewarded with prize-taking and by blockading commercial ports an immense amount of neutral trade was seized and sold for the captors. The replacement of all the colonial governments of the Dutch, French and Spanish with British officials and the repatriation of those countries’ production to London was also a substantial earner. The jobs in every colony, usually performed by a nominee, were largely awarded to MPs. They were valuable and the receipt of that country’s productions made London into the ‘one-stop shop’ for all the world’s international trade. This stimulated banking and marine assurance and created the extension of insurance into life and business risks. Pitt’s “what is to be gained?” became the route to global hegemony. ↵
- See the Toulon / Corsica chapter↵
- Marie Antoinette’s hair is said to have turned grey on the 3rd night of her imprisonment.↵
- At about the same time Marseilles was renamed City Without a Name for the same reason. These are strongholds of the Brissotines which group has been denounced by the Jacobins and is responding violently in the South.↵
- A reference to the Admiral’s activities at Toulon.↵
- The determined British resistance to Equality was founded on the threat it was said to pose to the Master / Servant laws upon which employment was regulated.
From the text of this article however it seems the British objection to French Principles was to the Property provision – “Everyman may sell his services but no man may sell himself.” That insistence on self-employment is the basis to freedom. The French permission to all citizens to pursue every type of commerce was inimicable with British principles too. All strategic industry and trade must be conducted by ‘safe pairs of hands’ in Britain.↵
- The Erskines are proprietors of Stirling Castle. Charles spent 8 years in London organising liaison between the Court and ministry with Rome. He was made a Cardinal for his efforts.↵
- Stanhope is soon warned-off by being identified publicly in the London Press as a leading proponent of the ‘seditious’ movement↵
- Dundas’ prosecution of the democrats for sedition – see the chapter of that name.↵
- Even longer ago, Machiavelli had laid down the rule ‘never rely on internal dissension when invading a country as invasion will unite domestic opinion.’↵
- In the 3rd May 1794 edition – removed to the Prizetaking Chapter. Hailes asserts that international law towards France is inappropriate and that starving one’s enemy is a reasonable means of achieving victory. The Prussian minister sent a similar Note.↵
- The French have also stepped onto the slippery slope of paper currency secured initially on the national lands of the church and later on the lands of Royalists émigrés. They continue to have financial crises until Napoleon’s coup d’Etat when the policy was abandoned.↵
- Where a Company’s Resident is based.↵
- La Fayette believed Republican government was more likely to promote the happiness of the people. He seemed sincerely intent on establishing some sort of limited monarchy but the Queen and the Court broke faith so repeatedly that they entirely lost the confidence of the people. Burke raising this opinion in debate reveals the complete abandonment of his former principles.↵
- Louis Daniel Tassin, a banker and member of the Constituent Assembly, was accused of assisting the French Royalists in attempting to free the King on 10th August 1792.↵
- From the newspapers it seems the House of Lords did a lot of expunging at this time which inter alia prevented dissenting speeches from appearing in its Journal.↵
- This is a new form of employment required of people in receipt of poor rates. Previously they have worked for their local factory.↵
- And soon beheaded along with all her family.↵
- The Spanish position is complicated by national economic reliance on the mineral wealth of South America, shipments of which have fallen under British influence due to that country’s developing control of the high seas. Whoever controls the provision of silver to Spain controls the country and its colonies.↵
- The French attitude to the Estates of the condemned is a contributing cause of British opposition to the Revolution. Britain only takes the Estates of condemned traitors. The French policy is based on Paine’s assertion that a man’s rights are extinguished by death, a concept that appals the British.↵
- The King of Sardinia also reigns over Piedmont from its capital at Turin. It is the most powerful of the Italian states and is largely owned by units of the Catholic Church.↵
- Hood had proclaimed the Republican Constitution to the Toulon people, which British ministers did not support but to criticise Hood would be to criticise Grenville and his colleagues.↵
- Blue riband at this time referred to the sash of the Garter, the oldest British award. The first mentioned – Burg Strelitz – is an abbreviation of Mecklenburg Strelitz.↵
- Batz promoted an eclectic form of freemasonry that was an attempt at uniting humanity in friendship. Followers were called Illuminati. The cult was created in Bavaria and became popular throughout the German states of the Austrian Empire. The Baron is further mentioned in an article dated 29th November 1794 below.↵
- Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes had come out of retirement to defend the King at his trial. That was his offence. His daughter, son-in-law and grand-children were executed in front of him first.↵
- That seems to have been the state of European law generally – being the first to complain was a definite advantage. For a British example, see Admiral Lord Cochrane’s difficulties with the Malta Prize Court in the Prizetaking chapter.↵
- This distinguishes them from Dutch and British legislators who are exempt.↵
- I searched the fine new French National Library on the banks of the Seine in Paris but was unable to discover Robespierre’s Will. It would appear to be of fundamental importance in clarifying the history of this period and particularly the reputation of Robespierre who, so far as English-language histories is concerned is portrayed as a monster. It may have been lost.↵
- See an article of 1st November 1794 for the initial report of Batz’s arrest.↵