Europe 1795-1796 – part 2

Sat 31st Jan 1795

London news – The King of Prussia says he is in perfect agreement with his cousin (George III) but the unexpected resistance of the democratic Poles in the East disables his continuing the war with France in the West.

He has received £600,000 from us to fight France. He cannot repay it but will prepare an account for us later.

Sat 31st Jan 1795

London, 31st July – 120 debtors in the King’s Bench prison have been released by the Justices at Union Hall in The Borough (now often called Southwark). This liberality is highly spoken of.

Sat 7th Feb 1795

The Prince of Saxe-Cobourg’s address to the Germans, 30th July 1794:

We have fought three campaigns to protect you. A great sacrifice in blood and treasure has been paid but the resources of France seem inexhaustible. We have retired to our own frontiers. We are not dejected or conquered, just very tired. The frontier is the River Meuse. The French are not far away. I am concerned for my men. Send us your food. Empty your churches of gold and send it with your silverware to the Emperor.

We can no longer rely on the resources of Belgium which now go to the French. We rely on you to provision us. We rely on you to protect the frontier and defend our country. I don’t want my men to get hungry, become disorderly and plunder you. We will fight and die for you. Germans shall never bow to the guillotine. We will never voluntarily change our culture for that of the French democrats. Lament for the Belgians and pray their fate does not befall you.

Sat 7th Feb 1795

News from Paris dated 30th July:

The Sergeant-at-Arms of the National Convention was reluctant to arrest Robespierre and had to be repeatedly instructed to do so before he would obey. Robespierre was taken to the Luxembourg but the police there declined to accept him so he was taken to the Hotel de Ville. He wrote to Couthon, St Just, etc., from there to join him, saying the people had rebelled. The members of the council of the Commune of Paris, with Hanriot at their head, went to save him, having declared for Robespierre and Couthon. They called for the destruction of the National Convention.

Bourdon de l’Oise says the Commune of Paris and the Jacobins repudiate the National Convention and declare their own permanent authority. Merlin de Thionville said he met Hanriot at the head of 40 gendarmes in the street. They pointed pistols and swords at him and manhandled him into a guard house. Shortly afterwards the guard released him and he came to the National Convention to report.

Then Amar said Hanriot had been arrested and sent to CPS where 200+ armed men had arrived to rescue him. The national guard had stood firm and Hanriot remained in custody.

Poultier said he had seen a crowd that supported the National Convention and opposed Robespierre. Another member had seen an address of Payan calling for a national uprising. Louvet, the alternate of Dumas in the Revolutionary Tribunal, was denounced for saying ‘there is nothing so vile as a Deputy.’ Hanriot’s armed group are in the street causing mayhem. Sijas has prevailed on a company of artillery to turn their guns on the National Convention. But against all these threats, the National Guard has stood firm.

Barrere read a draft proclamation calling on the Parisians to support the National Convention. Approved.

Robespierre is declared at outlaw. Leonard Bourdon said ‘victory – the conspirators are extinguished’.

The elder Robespierre attacked a gendarme and was wounded in return. Hanriot was arrested. The Commune is surrounded by 3,000 men. A pocket book found on Robespierre and a letter found on Couthon were handed in. Legendre said he had gone to the Jacobins to kill their President Vivier but he had fled. He had then shut and locked the doors of the Jacobin Club and brought back the key.

On 28th July the students of the School of Mars came to offer their support. General Santeer also came to thank the National Convention for his liberty. He offered his services to the country. Tellier says the conspirators have paid the price.

Sat 31st Jan 1795

Paris, 28th July – Yesterday Robespierre was declared a tyrant and arrested with his brother. Couthon, St Just, Henriot (the chief of the armed Parisians), Dumas the president of the Revolutionary Tribunal and many others are also in custody.

The Jacobin Society was reproached by Robespierre’s brother for apathy. They responded on 25th July with a denunciation of ‘the foreign party’ and accused it of attacking the National Convention and CPS. Dubois Crance is rehabilitated. The National Convention sent the denunciation to CPS.

On 26th July a tumultuous sitting occurred. Robespierre made a long speech justifying his acts. He described his understanding of revolutionary government and denied having aspirations to be Dictator. He said it was his disclosure of the existence of a Supreme Being that had infuriated the successors of Danton and Hebert. He denied the rumour that he was contemplating the arrest of 30 National Convention members. He said the CPS is the fount of liberty but its decree on the English had not been executed. He said Dumouriez’s system was operating in Belgium, where they are replanting the tree of liberty and carrying away the gunners of Paris. It is an attempt to change the situation of the Republic. “We must allow the Committees to act, but we must watch them”.

Some members thought the speech factually misleading. They wanted to send it to CPS before printing it but a majority agreed to print and distribute it as delivered. Robespierre’s success was short-lived. The next day St Just attempted to justify Robespierre, claiming his (St Just’s) was an independent voice and misleading views had been propagated. He was shouted down.

Tallien said his also was an independent voice. He said no Frenchman could withhold tears when he saw the calamities facing the country.

Billaut said the Paris garrison is in evil hands. Hanriot has been denounced by the Revolutionary Tribunal as an accomplice of Hebert and only Robespierre supports and protects him. Lavalette, the only nobleman entrusted for military duty and a chief of the garrison, is said to plan the massacre of the National Convention members. He is protected by Robespierre. He said Robespierre had gaoled members of the Revolutionary Tribunal. Robespierre had pardoned a secretary who had stolen 40,000 livres. He is surrounded by secretaries – Daubigny et al – who do his bidding and he accused Robespierre of tyranny. There was much applause.

Tallien was encouraged to say he had a dagger and would kill Robespierre there and then unless the National Convention sent him to justice. He requested the legislators to arrest Hanriot as well. Billaut added Boulanger’s name to the conspiracy as well as Dufresne who had conspired with Dumouriez, Dumas (who yesterday was said to have solicited the Jacobins to murder the whole Assembly) and Lavallette. It was agreed they all be arrested with Daubigny Sijas.

Vadier then detailed the tyranny of Robespierre particularly the spies by whom the National Convention members had all been surrounded so long (great applause). After some more speeches, the National Convention decreed the arrests of the two Robespierres, St Just, Couthon, Lebas and Nicholas. All their papers were to be sealed pending for examination.

On 28th July the principal conspirators were guillotined. No trial was held – they were executed by Decree of the National Convention. They were all in their 20s and 30s. Numerous other minor figures were also executed.

On 29th July the members, judges, juries and other officers of the Revolutionary Tribunal were dismissed from their offices.

Sat 31st Jan 1795

Robespierre’s Defence against the accusation of the moderates:

“Scattering gold and spreading corruption are the tools of tyranny. The Republic upholds truth and publicity – its only resource is honest men. Military success is inadequate to put the Republic on a firm base. We must create happiness within. I denounce the system that screens aristocrats from justice whilst defaming patriots. The enemies of France repeatedly attack the reputations (even the lives) of the patriots. Now they are screaming that we are cruel and unjust. Our harsh treatment is an offence against humanity, they say. If you protect those people you are an enemy of patriotism.

“The downfall of one or other faction will determine the success of our Revolution. This was the crime of the moderates. They could not decide who to support. You are either for us or against us. There is no ‘in between’ for moderates to exist in. Had we recognised this earlier we might have prevented their rise to power. Have you noticed how the patriot who tries to consolidate liberty is always represented in the foreign press as an ambitious dangerous man. They make virtue appear criminal and give vice the glory of virtue.

“The moderates received the leftovers from all the other factions after we had beheaded their leaders. This concentration of disparate views has made them formidable. They have learned from the mistakes of Danton, Hebert, Chabot and Brissot and continually improve their strategy. Most recently they had the temerity to impugn the reputations of individual members of the CPS. They calumniate the Revolutionary Tribunal and call it illegal. To destroy the Tribunal or stuff its membership with their appointees is foolish. How can the conspiracies be ended when conspirators hold the reigns of justice?

“The despots sow discord, distrust and doubt amongst us in the hope we will destroy each other. They try to represent the work of the National Convention as the work of one man. They spread the absurd lie that the Revolutionary Tribunal is intended to order the executions of the entire National Convention and many who should know better have been fooled. We expose these schemes. It is not easy to protect myself from both assassins and calumniators. London sends us assassins and even our Parisian newspapers are paid by England to spread the malicious views of the émigrés.

“In London I am called the Dictator of the French Army. Soon after, I am called the same in Paris. The English say the Revolutionary Tribunal is to execute the National Convention membership. Then we hear the same nonsense recited in Paris too. They are successful in sowing dissension. Even some of the members here have occasionally spread untruth. Truth is my only sanctuary. A revolutionary’s lot is not a happy one. I will defend liberty and equality with ardour. I will never cease the fight against tyrants and conspirators.”

Sat 7th Feb 1795

An overland packet arrived yesterday with news from Europe to 3rd October. The news is not good.

The British cabinet is now 13 men – seven of Pitt’s group and six of the Duke of Portland’s. Portland’s men are himself as Home Secretary, Earl Fitzwilliam as President of the Council, Earl Spenser as Lord Privy Seal, Lord Loughborough as Lord Chancellor, Windham War secretary and Earl Mansfield no portfolio.

The King has given Portland the garter in recognition of the deal with Pitt.

Earl Howe has been made a Marquis for his splendid victory in the Channel.

Sat 7th Feb 1795

Robespierre’s last speech was not printed in accordance with the Decree. The printers of journals likewise declined to record it as they feared they would be held accountable. His speech is considered seditious.

Robespierre said he was accused by the emissaries of Pitt and the Duke of York. He said he had well-marked how English army units were not pressed on the battlefield and that the decree detaining English residents in France remained only partially executed. He accused Barrere.

Vadier defended the CPS and National Convention. He said 700 of the peoples’ commissions had been examined and only one in eighty was manifestly a patriot. After Robespierre’s execution it was revealed that the peoples’ commissions were filled with nominees of Robespierre and Couthon; so were the juries in the Revolutionary Tribunal; it is the reverse with the people executed. Vadier noted we (the National Convention) authorised a great number of patriots to be killed at the instigation of Robespierre. We have hurt the people we most admire.

It has now been suggested that Ladmiral and Mlle Renault, who were executed with all their relations and friends (50+ people), were not planning Robespierre’s murder. Several members publicly expressed their horror at what they had done. We trusted Robespierre and he let us down. The execution of Lavoisier (the aristocratic chemist who co-discovered oxygen and hydrogen and whose work enabled the military use of balloons) was particularly regretted.

We must elevate public instruction, protect the libraries and raise education. These days, anyone with a little education is accused of being an aristocrat. It was Robespierre who distrusted education and defamed all superior men – we have to get beyond that. And he demanded that the concerns of the Committee of Public Instruction be frequently heard.

It was decreed that anyone despoiling the libraries or the other monuments to art and science be imprisoned for 2 years.

Sat 7th Feb 1795

Paris, 4th September – The National Convention has been tranquil these past three days – a state that has not arisen for a long time. It is due to the removal of those men who could not act consensually. Apart from the execution of Robespierre’s group, Billaud, Varennes and Collot de Herbois have resigned and Barrere has been dismissed.

Sat 14th Feb 1795

Mr Mason, the King’s messenger, has returned from Europe on 14th July. He was sent to Nieuport with dispatches but had difficulty getting through. Part of the English garrison at Nieuport has escaped and the rest is stubbornly defending.

Cornwallis, Hertford and Mr Bruce have returned to England since the allied coalition collapsed. It is no longer secret that the Emperor too has given up the struggle. Our three men did their best to persuade him but in vain.

The Austrian Emperor believes our war objects are unobtainable even with all the armies of Europe. Worse, while he was helping-out in Belgium, the Russians and Prussians were partitioning Poland between themselves. He complains he is spending his money and blood in vain and the democratic infection that has taken hold in France has spread to his own men. He says they are supposed to extinguish the flame of liberty, not adopt it. His last message to the Belgians was “If you want the French, you may have them.”

The French have 240,000 men in Flanders to oppose the 100,000 troops we have left. Col Macleod offers to raise a regiment of Royal Highlanders and the 33rd and 63rd regiments, now standing-by in Jersey, have been brought to readiness. The various regiments ordered to service in Flanders from the British and Irish establishments total 16,000 horse and foot.

Sat 14th Feb 1795

General the Comte de Clairfait has assumed command of the Imperial (Austrian) army. General Beaulieu is appointed Quartermaster-General. Prince de Saxe-Cobourg and Prince de Waldeck have relinquished their posts and gone to Vienna. Cobourg took leave of the army with these words “I am not very well. I did not want to leave but the Emperor has appointed Clairfait to replace me. I wish you every success. I will always remember your glorious achievements.”

Sat 14th Feb 1795

News from Paris to 11th September via London:

Tallien’s system of moderation is under threat. The Jacobins have expelled Tallien’s group and have support in the National Convention. It appears the Terror is about to recommence.

On 3rd September the Jacobin Society decreed the expulsion of Tallien, Lecointre and Freron from its membership. Fayau said Tallien had released conspirators from the prisons; Lecointre is described as a calumniator; Freron is identified as the man who demanded the infinite liberty of the press which permitted the aristocrats to publish their demands for a King.

Carrier agreed with Fayau. He connected Tallien with some nobles and priests. Tallien said if he was not wanted in the Society, he would retire to the National Convention. Freron said he had not thought about the nobles when promoting a free press. He recalled that a law had been passed which made proposing for a King an offence.

Tallien was later murdered.

Next day the Jacobin Society criticised Dusourny, Laveaux and Real. Laveaux said he maintained his support for a free press whatever the Society thought. All three were expelled from the Society as well as Gouchon and Varlet. The CPS then ordered the arrest of these five, whom it called ex-Jacobins.

On 10th June the Society considered the draft of an address to the National Convention which they proposed to take there in a body. It appeared that the Jacobins were about to resume the influence they had previously held.

On appearing at the National Convention they were rebuffed by Merlin de Thionville, Bentabolle, Guiomard-Thibault and others and the sense of the National Convention was clearly in support of the five arrested men. It passed a denunciation of Dubaran of the Society who, in the name of CPS, had called for the assassination of Tallien, saying ‘do supporters of Robespierre still exist?’ Yesterday’s sitting of the Jacobin Society named the National Convention members to be assassinated.

The National Convention insisted that the French people should not have two national authorities. The reign of assassins must end. The Jacobin Society had played a useful role in bringing down the King but it continued bringing down everyone else as well. Jacobins seek to bring Terror to the National Convention. The Society must be denounced. The warrants against the five National Convention members were annulled. The Legislative Assembly is paramount and will prevail.

Merlin said Dusourny is an old and virtuous friend of the people and therefore an enemy of the Jacobin Society. The membership had no doubts of his integrity and patriotism.

He noted that Real had just been appointed Public Defender at Nantes (a centre of Royalist support). He would have soon discovered the really guilty and the Jacobin Society imperatively had to prevent that. Merlin revealed that the Revolutionary Committee of Nantes (under the Jacobin Society’s control) had just sent 132 prisoners to Paris for execution without questioning a single one of them. When Real’s appointment became known, the Revolutionary Committee of Nantes sent instructions to the escort to kill all the prisoners (to conceal their innocence) whilst at the same time the Society in Paris had called for the arrest of Real. The letter requesting the murders has been intercepted by aides of the Revolutionary Tribunal and has been published, signed by J J Goulin, M Grand Maison and J R Maingstet. Of these 132 good men only ninety-four survived the journey to Paris. Thirty eight died of hunger and maltreatment on the way. This reveals the injustice of the Revolutionary Committee of Nantes. All those Revolutionary Committees were supposed to have been dissolved after Robespierre’s fall.

All three authors of this atrocity are being questioned by the Revolutionary Tribunal. Goulin has been talking volubly for two days and is yet to say something incriminating against the 132 men.

Sat 21st Feb 1795

29th August – Pitt’s cabinet met, with Cornwallis attending, to consider the state of negotiations with Vienna. Dispatches from Spencer and Grenville, who are persuading the Emperor to fight again, arrived yesterday reporting the latest news. The meeting took 3 hours. The emissaries have given a British undertaking to subsidise Austria to keep her in the war. That was all the Emperor needed to be convinced to continue the struggle. The Austrian army will be commanded by the Archduke Charles.

Sat 21st Feb 1795

Paris – the Revolutionary Tribunal appears to display a greater concern for justice than expected. Of the 42 men taken before it, only one (Lemonnier) has been convicted.

On 15th August, Real addressed the National Convention on the conditions in the Luxembourg. It makes appalling reading. Some Jacobins asked him to stop but Legendre insisted that the horror should be published. Legendre’s disclosures reveal Paris under Robespierre was controlled by the combined use of spies, the guillotine and the Press. A general clamour to restore the freedom of the press arose amongst the members.

22nd August – Paris has become tranquil. Such disturbances as occur have been in the departments. The communes are considered as the agents of Robespierre. He has become an object of national execration. The moderates are in power.

Sat 28th Feb 1795

Letter from the British Consul at Constantinople, 3rd December 1794:

“The moderates are now the leading party in France. The National Convention has decreed that political clubs may not meet. It is part of their attempt to muzzle the Jacobins. Individual dissent remains permitted. Churches have re-opened and religion is again practised.”

In London the hope has been voiced that the moderates will liaise with the Royalists in La Vendée and call-in their Bourbon supporters to effect a counter-revolution in Paris.

Sat 28th Feb 1795

The British parliament continues to be prorogued. The latest extension is to 25th November. 1794.

Sat 28th Feb 1795

The Prussian government is discussing peace with the French Republic in Switzerland. The Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, who is dependent on British subsidies, has called Prussia to attend a Diet of all the German states at Hanau to discuss the defence of the Austrian Empire.

Sat 28th Feb 1795

Paris 12th August – Barrere reported that the Spanish have been driven back in southern France. They now only retain Bellegarde. The great fortress of Fontarabia fell to Republican troops without a shot being fired. We climbed through the mountains and got behind them and they feared for their communications and surrendered.

The agreed capitulation of Collioure, whereby the Spanish undertook to release 7,000 French prisoners, has not been performed and the French General has requested instructions from Paris. The National Convention decrees that if the Spanish do not soon perform their agreement, the army will take no more Spanish prisoners and will also arrest and imprison as hostages all Spanish nobles and priests it discovers.

Sat 28th Feb 1795

A Machiavellian document, said to have been provided to the allies by a deserting French officer and published by them purports to be Robespierre’s written instructions of 21st July 1794 to General Pichegru for the incorporation of the Netherlands within France. Pichegru commands the French armies in Brabant and Flanders. Had Robespierre remained in power, this letter might have worked valuable influence on the Dutch but now it has only historical interest:

Our plan for the invasion of Holland cannot yet be published to the CPS. I must first adopt the changes you require to it. Be ready to act as soon as I give the word. The conquest of all seven provinces will require a great sacrifice of French blood. It may not be straight-forward but it will appal our enemies and probably only a few defeats will be sufficient to collapse Dutch opposition. The neighbours must be convinced that whilst we can be beat we can never be conquered.

St Just and Barrere have advised on your political conduct on entering Holland. It is in that country that we will dissolve the league against us. Then we can consolidate our Republic and recover our colonies. We have many friends in Holland who have acquainted us with the country. The Dutch are foremost in the world for provincial administration and public economics. They have never thought much about liberty. Their institutions are a mixture of monarchical prejudice, fallacious aristocracy and a semblance of democracy which is united in a Constitution under which they also call themselves Republicans.

The magistrates of the electing towns are the principal source of power. The boroughs and villages have no say in government. Eligibility for civil liberty is exclusively held by a few families in the sovereign cities. The odious aspect of Dutch administration is that the magistrates are corrupt and their justice is arbitrary. Hold in mind that the Dutch heart loves faction as much as the Dutch head loves gold. If their fortune is improving, they abandon faction; if it is falling, they embrace it. There is no trace of patriotism in them – they will sell the means of their own conquest to an enemy.[75]

Amsterdam and Rotterdam supported our Revolution in 1790, 1791 and 1792. They have extensive trade in Europe, Africa and Asia and can spread doctrine widely. The Dutch merchants supposed at that time that the ensuing commotion in France would have produced commercial benefits to them.

Our implacable enemy is the House of Orange. The adherents to this House are attached to the Stadtholder as the only bulwark against the venal magistrates. They honour tradition and this keeps Orange in their good books. They form the preponderance of the people.

The second party is the patriots – courtiers, lawyers, bankers, merchants and ordinary citizens. They are relatively few but have disproportionate wealth. They oppose monarchy and want to reduce municipal authority (the magistrates). They insist on equality in towns that have the means to oppress them, and on hegemony where they find equality. They have no political principles – they support whoever can be of help against their enemies for the moment and oppose any who might dominate them. This is the invariable behaviour of merchants and financiers. All their power derives from their ownership of capital and you must remove that from them in early course.

There is a third intermediate party. If either a supporter of the patriots or the Stadtholder becomes a magistrate, he instantly becomes a type of aristocrat. Magistrates detest the Stadtholder because he limits their power and they detest the patriots because they oppose magisterial authority. This is a small but influential party.

This is the political state of the country you are to conquer.

The Dutch patriots have lied to us. They have repeatedly told us they merely awaited our coming to rise and join us. These so-called patriots are just vile tradesmen. The Stadtholder’s supporters are more thoughtful but so much in fear that the 200 Jews in Amsterdam could capture the city. The Stadtholder is popular and powerful. The failed attempts of his enemies to reduce him have all tended to increase his popularity. His manners portray virtue which the patriots tried to suggest was weakness. But the imminent dangers of the Netherlands have shown the Stadtholder is not weak. He alone has the support to resist us.

The Dutch troops, some of whom we long expected to support us, now all support him. His management of the army and the generals he has promoted gives the two young princes a loyal following. The patriots will offer you money and provisions and some plans for treason (all of which will be abortive) and you will ultimately have to rely on the huge armies we send you.

When you enter the country you must expunge the leadership of the Stadtholder’s support. That will terrify his supporters and you will have nothing more to fear. The Dutch will always submit if they see a political advantage in it. They will appear pliant and disposed to help you.

You should treat the magistrates well at first. Defend them from the patriots until you have acquired from them all their available information on the great families. Establish clubs for the patriots in every city, town and village. You will tell them that before they can be raised in political status, they must agree the form of a new Constitution – that will take them a long time. When you are master, you may abandon the magistrates to the patriots. You must completely remove them from power. Even a single survivor could be dangerous.

Meanwhile the patriots will be making draft Constitutions and discussing them and improving them. Some discord will inevitably arise. You will assist the citizens against whoever is devaluing them in respect of the terms of the new Constitution. Your purpose is to increase discord. You may suggest new law if you are sure they will dislike it. Grievances will multiply and we will be forced to incorporate their country in our Republic. You will then publish a Decree putting private fortunes at the disposal of the people. Once the Dutch have neither capital nor trade, they are lost. The CPS supposes we will have to absorb the entire Dutch population within the departments of France. We certainly need more men. Then we can let in the sea and flood those seven provinces perpetually.

Your greatest difficulty may be in bringing the shipping and naval stores to France. It may be necessary to burn them.

Sat 7th March 1795

London news, 3rd Oct:

  • The American emissaries Jay and Pinckney in London have contacted American ambassador Monroe in Paris and Jay has visited him.
  • The British government has sent a great fleet into the Mediterranean and detached eight ships-of-the-line from Lord Howe’s channel fleet for service in West Indies. These squadrons are both sent to confront French fleets at either location. The French tactic at sea is to harass our merchant ships whilst evading our warships.
  • France has taken Antwerp and gaoled 30 principal residents to encourage payment of a ransom of 10 million guilders.

Sat 7th March 1795

House of Commons, 10th July:

An election is to be held at Honiton to replace MP George Yonge, ex-Secretary of War, who has accepted the job of Master of the Mint.

Another is to be held in Malton, Yorks., where Burke was member. He has accepted a Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds.

A third election will be held at Bishop’s Castle to replace Mr Strachey, now Master of the Royal Household.

Sat 7th March 1795

Sheridan has moved a debate on the Prussian subsidy and another postponing the prorogation of parliament in the present crises:

Firstly, he wishes ministers to explain the military disasters in the Low Countries. He remains unsure of our national war aims, except the recent one for changing the French government which has since been revealed to be impracticable.

He wants to know what we are fighting for today.

The ministry had been given extraordinary powers; it had paid enormous subsidies; it had raised foreign corps (of Germans and émigrés), and it had failed. Our situation now is worse than it was at the beginning.

Secondly, Prussia’s conduct needed explanation. We paid for the troops and Prussia contracted on 24th May to provide them – where are they? Our arrangements with Austria, Spain and Holland likewise have not turned-out as expected. It seems the Minister has been cheated and he had been warned it might happen.

Thirdly, he wished to know why a great body of troops should remain in Hampshire with nothing to do when our force on the continent was so short. He suspected we should immediately consider changing our war plans into defensive plans.

Fourthly, he referred to relations with America, which the inept policies of the Minister have jeopardised and wished for a report on the negotiations which have purportedly been going on and on for 11 years.

Pitt replied:

Sheridan is basically asking three questions – the object of war, the circumstances of the Prussian subsidy and the state of negotiations with America (i.e. Pitt will not discuss the troops in Isle of Wight)

He said the Prussian and American questions were not proper subjects for discussion in the legislature. The failure of Prussia to meet its contractual obligations was a matter for the executive government and of no concern to the legislature which would be informed of developments in due course. The American situation was fluid until a treaty had been agreed and he again thought it no business of the legislature until that time. And he added that continuing parliament by delaying its prorogation was, for the same reasons, an unnecessary measure.

He thought the unpopularity of British ministers in America was due to the widespread publicity of Jacobin principles there and the natural sympathy of one Republic for another.

He agreed that the MPs had given the ministry every extra power it had requested but it had not been sufficient. He felt confident of defending his ministry from charges of incompetence. They had done their best and failed and the member (Sheridan) was one who had consistently voted against giving any additional support to the ministry. He had sought to diminish England by his views. This is not some mere ideological dispute – we are defending the lives, liberty and property of all Englishmen and the English system of representative political administration.

He said the object of war was the destruction of democracy in France. It threatened the interests, safety and existence of England and the tranquillity of Europe. The present government of France was bad for the French and bad for France’s neighbours. The recent reversal of our fortunes was a temporary thing and he would continue to prosecute the war vigorously. Until the French government was changed, peace would continue to be threatened. These objects were defined in the King’s Message and were our obligations under treaties. We could not desert our neighbours.

Grey defended Sheridan:

We are losing a destructive land war. The disasters in the Low Countries were not mere temporary misfortunes, as Pitt said, but evidenced the strength of the French – their ability to adapt new technology to war and to mobilise the whole population willingly in the defence of the country. The case against France was that the present government had expunged the former power of the monarchy, aristocrats and church and transferred that power to the people. Our position was therefore to war against the French people and deny them their own form of government. Pitt has confirmed it when he said we aimed to change the French government.

Now that direct military force has failed, we have withdrawn from French territory and are instead fomenting internal divisions to destroy the French regime from the inside. All the evidence so far is that France is getting stronger not weaker. Our wisest course is to make peace. The continuance of the ‘monstrous coalition’ is a continuance of destruction.

And he particularly resented the ‘tired old plea’ of ‘pending negotiations’ to withhold information from parliament. He demanded that parliament should not be prorogued and should remain ready for any emergency.

Sheridan added:

Everything Pitt has said shows he never learns from experience. His rashness had brought-on a series of calamitous events. This debate has shown the public that ministers are determined to continue their wasteful projects on the continent although the feeling of the country is opposed to continental wars and particularly to the conquest of France, which Revolution is now recognised as a progressive popular thing. The ministry had completely failed to remember the mistakes of the American War and is making them again. National prosperity is more endangered by Pitt’s policy than by France.

Sheridan’s motions were then negatived without a division.

Sat 14th Mar 1795

The Jacobin Society of Paris is acting to recover its popularity. The chosen issue is the freedom of the press. On 26th August Boissel proposed the following measures:

“A free press is the natural right of the people. The government must guarantee it. It is the duty of every citizen to oppose censorship or attacks on the distribution of news. All acts of public officers, civil or military, are open to public opinion. Anyone can publish his opinions.

“Editors should not injure public affairs or private interests. Injury to public affairs is done when writings derogate from the Rights of Man or criticise our new Republic or its Constitution. Injury to private interests is caused by derogation of citizens who deserve protection of their persons, their reputation and possessions. A man’s opinions can be formally denounced only by a decision of the appropriate legal tribunal.

“All writings must be signed by the author and show the name of the printer.”

Dufourny supported the proposal. He recalled the National Convention had debated punishments for those who criticise its acts. The freedom of the press was more important than the protection of a few legislators’ reputations.

Dubois Crance said he was unsurprised that the National Convention should wish to restrict the press to philosophical debate and prevent it entering upon political opinions. They might use the sanction of counter-revolution to preserve their reputations. The Declaration of Rights defines liberty as “the power to do whatever one wishes, provided it does not infringe on another’s liberty.” For consistency, the liberty of the press should encompass a freedom to discuss everything that does not injure the social order, he thought. Expressing opinions on public officers does not injure society. On the contrary it prevents abuse of office. The only grey area is in the public promotion of royalty, aristocracy and religion as viable alternatives to democracy. These institutions are incompatible with happiness wherever they are found. With this sole exception, the people should be informed of everything and make their own judgments.

Real said he had been in the National Convention when the penalties for publishing inconvenient opinions were discussed. It indicated that those representatives who promoted the idea of penalties still considered the people unequal to the tasks of existence in society. They talked exclusively of press abuses and not a word about press freedoms. Protection was needed to assure the National Convention did not again fall under the domination of one man or one faction with an agenda distinct from the national interest. Every form of restraint ultimately leads to despotism.

Tallien said it is the government that guarantees the freedom of the press. If the government is not free, it cannot give the guarantee. Thence comes the excesses of the guillotine in 1794 for opinions held in 1789. He thought the only men who fear calumny are those who have something to hide. Everyman should unrestrainedly express himself when he suspects he has uncovered abuse.

Sat 21st March 1795

London news:

  • An ambassador from the Porte is to enter London on 6th November 1794. The last occasion of an Ottoman ambassador’s public entry to London was in 1743.
  • MPs are to lose the convenience of franking their own letters. The concession has been extensively abused to the great loss of the national revenue.

Sat 21st March 1795

The English ministers at Vienna (Lord Spencer and Sir Thomas Grenville ) have sent the Emperor a note confirming the British ministry’s intention to subsidise Austria to continue the war with France:

“It would be inequitable for Austria to bear the war costs alone. England is now free from other obligations and offers subsidies for this and the next campaign seasons for you to finance an army of 100,000 men. We have full powers to negotiate with you. We offer the full costs of 100,000 men. Conquests will be made in concert. We wish the Archduke Charles to command. We pledge to pay the full subsidy although the Dutch have actually agreed to pay 1/3rd. The ministers hope this will cause a closer relationship between Austria and the maritime powers.

“Concerning the Emperor’s fear of a French invasion of Italy, England will pay a subsidy to the King of Piedmont-Sardinia too.”

Sat 21st March 1795

Whilst the moderates are in the ascendancy in Paris, in the south of France the Terror continues. Walter Smith has been guillotined at Nancy for assisting émigrés. He is the brother of Mrs FitzHerbert.[76]

His head was carried through the city on a pole, the bearer calling “quelle belle tete” as he walked along.

Sat 21st March 1795

Long list of French armed ships captured in 1793 and 1794. 1793 includes the 18 burnt at Toulon plus 2 on the stocks, the 13 taken away by Admiral Lord Hood and 16 others (see the Toulon chapter). 1794 lists 31 warships taken in the channel, the Mediterranean and the West Indies.

The list of British ships lost over the same two years is only 13.

Sat 21st March 1795

Lord Moira has explained his apparent breach of orders in marching away from Ostend which he was supposed to garrison and protect. He is slightly suspect in spite of his close relationship with the King and the Masons because he had said before departure that he would resign before serving in Flanders.

He says his force was inadequate to prevent the French taking Ostend and would have merely increased British losses if he had kept them in garrison. He thus marched them off to link-up with General Clairfait’s force, intending to lighten the pressure on the Duke of York.

Clairfait made it a condition that Moira first take Bruges from the French. Whilst on his way to Bruges, Moira received a note from York requesting him to embark his force and meet up at Antwerp but he was so far on his way to answering Clairfait’s condition that he ignored it. On arriving at Bruges he received another note from York asking him to march his men to a meeting if it was quicker than re-embarking. At the same time he got a note from Clairfait saying due to Saxe-Cobourg’s defeat by the French he was about to leave Flanders and could no longer keep his commitment to meet-up.

Moira supposed Clairfait might withdraw leaving York exposed and he decided to march via Ghent to York’s camp of Malles. Moira thus voluntarily separated from his baggage and stores which had been sent to Bruges. He had them redirected to Malles and effected the juncture successfully.

Sat 21st March 1795

The National Convention has reorganised the exercise of power in France into 16 committees:

  • The Committee of Public Safety (CPS) has 12 members. It deals mainly with foreign affairs and defence. It has a power of requisition of imports, exports and domestic goods. It can order the arrest of any person but their prosecution must be co-ordinated with the Committee of General Safety (CGS). It may propose law relative only to military, naval or diplomatic measures.[77]
  • The CGS has 16 members and controls the Parisian gendarmerie. Any 5 members can order the arrest, detention or release of any subject. Any 9 members can order his prosecution before the Revolutionary Tribunal. On the arrest of any civil servant, it must inform the committee of the Department he comes from. It may call out the army and has an account on the National Treasury for 300,000 livres for secret or extraordinary expenses.
  • The Committee of Finance (CF) has 48 members (three times the membership of the next largest Committee). It superintends the national accounts, the national treasury, the lands register and the paper currency.
  • The Committee of Legislation (CL) has 16 members. It supervises the Courts and is responsible to complete the revision and classification of laws.
  • The Committee of Public Instruction (CPI) has 16 members. It handles everything to do with monuments, museums, libraries, valuable collections, schools, teaching methods, scientific enquiry, weights and measures and national festivals.
  • The Committee of Agriculture and Arts (CAA) has 12 members. It drains and clears new land, breeds improved food animals, runs veterinary clinics and is responsible for manufacturing.
  • The Committee of Commerce and Provisions (CCP) has 12 members. It regulates the markets by a commercial police and enforces commercial law.
  • The Committee of Public Works, Mines and Quarries (CPW) has 12 members. It arranges all civil works and defensive works on the frontiers.
  • The Committee of Transport, Posts and Expresses (CTP) has 12 members. It supervises these services and the provision of post horses and arranges military convoys. It is responsible for the horse relays provided at all forts.
  • The Military Committee (MC) has 16 members. It superintends the armed force of Paris. It receives daily orders from the President of National Convention. It deals with all matters concerning the training of troops, provision of military supplies, manning of military hospitals.
  • The Committee of Marine and Colonies (CMC) has 12 members.
  • The Committee of Public Succour (CS) has 12 members. It superintends hospitals, invalids, beggars, orphans, deaf dumb or blind people and the medical services in the prisons.
  • The Committee of Division (CD) has 12 members. It maintains the census, sets departmental boundaries and fixes the places that government offices are located.
  • The Committee of Minutes, Decrees and Archives (CMDA) has 16 members. One section deals with the national archive and holds the national seal. Another draws up minutes, dispatches Decrees, prints documents for publication and transmits official law.
  • The Committee of Petitions, Correspondence and Dispatches (CPCD) has 12 members. One section collects all petitions and prints them in the Bulletin of Correspondence; the other opens mail and directs who should handle it.
  • The Committee of Inspectors of the National Palaces (CNP) has 16 members. It has police powers within the national palaces and gardens. It superintends the national printing office. It approves the expenses of the National Convention, the archives and the committees. It audits the expenses of citizen representatives sent to the army or the Departments. It has a revolving credit of 5 million livres on the National Treasury

All the committees may propose law to the National Convention in their respective jurisdictions. They each have authority over judicial and administrative staff who only enforce their orders. They each can suspend or remove such staff. The executive commission of National Convention is to provide all the historical information on any given subject to the appropriate committee. All measures of administration must be by law except the military, naval or diplomatic functions of CPS. All law must be sanctioned by the National Convention in general meeting. 25% of the committee members retire each month. CPS and CGS members are nominated by National Convention generally. The others are elected by ballot.

Dubois Crance proposed decisions of the CPS should be in writing and signed by at least 7 members. Agreed. It was also agreed that the reasons for a person’s arrest must be told to him or his relatives within two months of his arrest.

No Deputy can be a member of two Committees at the same time.

Sat 21st March 1795

Several inspiring patriotic songs have been sung at the new Drury Lane Theatre. They are the work of the 5th Duke of Leeds, Lord Mulgrave, Mr Richardson and Mrs Robinson.

Leeds’ song recites ‘Britons ever shall be free’ at the end of each verse and is reproduced in the paper (but not here).[78] It commemorates Admiral Howe’s victory in the Channel and is called ‘The Glorious First of June’.

Sat 4th April 1795

The Spanish Governor of Cadiz, Don Joaquim Tons, has proclaimed that young Frenchmen have entered the country wearing funny clothes. Some Spaniards are copying them. Spanish people should not use the clothes and ornaments of foreign people. It looks ridiculous and is liable to be misunderstood as promoting the democratic system and might cause national instability.

He orders that no-one may wear long coats (surtouts), pantaloon breeches or slouch hats, knee or shoe rings, coloured neck handkerchiefs or cravats, lapelled waistcoats (called ‘a la guillotine’) or carry a stick or cane that is too short or too long (about 1 yard long is appropriate for a Spanish gentleman, he says).

In short they should all wear the clothes of the country in accordance with their rank and standing. Those who disobey will be reported to the King.

Sat 4th April 1795

National Convention, 11th September – Eschasseriaux has presented a new law against the émigrés. An émigré is defined as:

  • A man who left France before 1st July 1789 and had not returned by 9th May 1792.
  • Those Frenchmen who emigrated after 9th May 1792 or who cannot justify their absence since that date.
  • All French soldiers who have been convicted of deserting to the enemy.

French people born abroad who have residences in two countries are exempt. Frenchmen who have emigrated for commerce or education or science must return to France for registration within 20 days of this Decree being promulgated. Merchants, factors and workmen who visit foreign places for trade must have a certificate from their commune. Residence in the lands of French allies is not a defence. Children under 14 years are exempt provided they return within three months.

The right of citizenship of émigrés is withdrawn. Their property is confiscated. They are prohibited from entering France.

A provision permitting émigrés to return after the war was voted down and struck out. Goupilleau said there were many Frenchmen in America who all said they would not return because they fear a counter-revolution. Ruhl said we must distinguish between the man who left France at the time of her danger and the man who customarily resides overseas. Granier de Saintes opposed all distinctions. All Frenchmen who did not come back to help are equally guilty and should not participate in the benefits of the Revolution.

Sat 4th April 1795

The King of the Two Sicilies[79] has proclaimed:

All Italy is threatened with invasion. The universities of Naples (they are substantial landowners) will furnish 16,000 men from their Estates aged 20 – 45 years to serve in the war. All the Barons and Bishops will exert themselves and form 60 battalions (300 men each) of auxiliaries to protect the Pontiff’s estates. 20 squadrons of 260 volunteer horsemen each are to be raised in the provinces. The corps enlisted in 1792 are to hold themselves ready to fight.

Sat 11th April 1795

France is settling down. The moderates appear to have prevailed over the Jacobin Society of Paris. French arms in Flanders and elsewhere have been uniformly successful. The Duke of York and his army has been pushed-off to an island on the coast of Zeeland.

All the European powers except Britain are talking peace. She alone is protected by the Channel. Prussia and Spain have settled the terms they will accept.

Sat 11th April 1795

24th October – Fagel, the Grand Pensionary of Holland, has arrived in London. He is reportedly charged by the States General to impress on the British ministry the urgent need for peace with France.

He is to say, if Britain will not make peace, the Netherlands will do so independently.

Sat 11th April 1795

The émigré Count Montgaillard returned to France after the defeat of the allies in the Low Countries and resided in Paris, affecting a frivolity that convinced the rulers that, although a Royalist, he was harmless. He studied the recent course of the Revolution and has now published his findings in London in a pamphlet State of France in May 1794. Here is a brief review:

“The National Convention is not esteemed by the people but its present moderate aspect will win support. If it can continue to successfully repel the allies, it will become entrenched. The old policy of executions and assassinations is increasingly being seen as a matter of necessary rigour at that time. It is proposed to turn the place of public executions into a place of public festivals.

“The thirty committees of the National Convention that administer the country have no real power, which is retained in the CPS. The former six ministries are replaced by twelve commissions whose members are chosen by CPS. Even the Revolutionary Tribunal staff have sworn an oath of obedience to CPS. The use of French language is being promoted along the foot of the Pyrenees and in lower Brittany. Roads are being built and canals dug wherever appropriate. The arts and sciences are mobilised to honour the Revolution. Workshops and military factories have sprung-up everywhere.

“The communes (popular societies) still exercise the powers of vigilance and censure under the Comité de Surete Generale (CPS). The 20,000 Revolutionary Committees exercise the real power of influencing public opinion. They are capable of becoming a law unto themselves and the CPS wishes to rein-in them. It has so far reduced their number to 800 committees which now operate only in the major towns and regions.

“In finances, the National Convention is the richest government in Europe. They have usurped the ownership of 7/9ths of French land and issue the assignats on its security – the supply of paper money is inexhaustible. The national Treasury contains 500 million livres in gold and silver (£20 millions). All the gold and silver of the regional French mints has been sent to the Paris mint which has 70 million livres (£3 millions) and this daily increases from deposits, collections and penalties. The sale of church property (exclusive of land) realised 32 million livres (£1.35 millions) and there is not one sacred chalice left in the country, even in private chapels. All the national assets are accumulated in Paris and once the National Convention has spent it, their only recourse for its replenishment will be to declare war and loot the neighbours.

“The Military Committee is directed by Carnot, Lafitte, d’Anissi and others and has conscripted 850,000 men into the army. The number may be increased after the harvest releases farm-workers for national service. This is the tool they will use to conquer all Europe and establish Democracy everywhere.

“Every Frenchman now pays one part of his property to protect the rest. The National Convention is suspected to intend to continue these requisitions after peace is declared and the published rationale for them has ended. The wealth of the French people has fallen into the hands of the National Convention which, the Royalists allege, will spend it and then transport those people who are newly-made poor to colonise the rest of Europe on its behalf. The economy is dependant on production of military stores. If war ended and the people in the military workshops and foundries became unemployed, the Revolution will start again. 200,000 men are employed night and day in arms production. 1,000 – 1,100 muskets are produced daily in Paris alone. 100 of the four, six and eight pounder cannons are produced each month. The entire population is united in the belief that military power alone guarantees peace. They fear none of their neighbouring countries. They have not needed to strip the public buildings and monuments of their lead, tin and iron. 4,000 church bells have been melted down for cannon. They have discovered immense reserves of saltpetre within France and a million men are exploiting them. They expect to create a permanent place for democracy by intimidating all the neighbours.

“The National Convention gets food supplies from Switzerland and the neutral powers. The productive ability of French farms seems unabated but the vast armies consume far more than they should and everyone else has to economise.

“A large force is employed maintaining the post roads. Communications within France are excellent. Woollen cloth is made in Sedan, Louviers and Olbeuf, not high quality but great quantities, and sheep are legally protected by National Convention Decree. Demand for cloth outstrips supply and manufacturers can sell part of their production at the consequently inflated prices although it is illegal.

“Only the British newspapers talk of famine – the likelihood of its actually occurring is small. Places like Guienne are very poor but the National Convention’s procedure of taking all the harvest back to central points for distribution (supplying the armies before the local people) has diminished the influence of speculators and stabilised prices at a low level. Agriculture is encouraged and there are no food shortages. The Convention’s support has drawn some people out of the towns and back to the country. If food was short the people would tend to join the army for the assurance of regular meals and it would become even bigger than it already is.

“The Royalists in La Vendée are the only thing the National Convention fears. The peasants of Poitou are considered strangers in France. Because they are a minority they have not received the support they deserve. They want the monarchical Constitution whereas it is Constitutional supporters who are targeted by the National Convention. The Convention sent 75,000 men to garrison Nantes, Rochelle and Rennes to oppose the Breton / Norman challenge and has successfully restrained the Royalists in this area and minimised their influence. It is the general opinion in France that a counter-revolution can only commence from La Vendée but the supporters of the old Constitution there have now been reduced to no more than 24,000 men.

“There are many discontented people, particularly amongst the capitalists, but they are unwilling to risk their wealth unless they can see quick and easy prospects of victory. Their best hope for profit is some great defeat of the French armies or a renewal of civil disturbance in Paris but the chance of a counter-revolution actually seems very slight. Life in France is improving and everyone is hopeful.

“Public opinion and spirit: The people wear a new form of dress; they hold new festivals, exercise in gymnasia, attend theatres dedicated to the people and build delightful structures in the style of ancient Greece and Rome. The French are beginning to really believe they have been freed. Even the new spirituality in place of Catholicism has its philosophical admirers. A vast number of public schools are being built.

All this may be thought rather approving and the review ends with:

“The French people are a danger to us all. The principles they support are false but seductive. Their democratic principles will subvert monarchical sovereignty unless they are opposed.”

Sat 18th April 1795

On 11th October the ashes of Rousseau were transferred from Ermenonville to the Pantheon and the urn placed in the garden of the Tuilleries where a temple has been constructed, apparently of granite, with a sarcophagus within. This is covered with a cloth of sky blue embroidered with stars, above which is suspended a laurel crown. The procession included Rousseau’s widow and a group of musicians who played a variety of his most popular airs. The urn was placed within the sarcophagus.

The flags of the French Republic, America and Geneva hung above busts of respectively Voltaire, Franklin and Rousseau, the most celebrated sons of each country. A hymn and ode to Rousseau were performed, lyrics by Chenier and Desforgues and music by Gossec.

Sat 18th April 1795

London, 7th November. At a levee yesterday:

  • The King accepted and will consider the India Company’s offer to raise three regiments for his management during the war.
  • The King formally gave his consent to the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Caroline of Brunswick.
  • The next opening of parliament was fixed for 25th November when the Porte’s ambassador will be attending.

Sat 18th April 1795

Amsterdam, 21st October:

  • The state of Friesland (the agricultural state in the north of Netherlands) resolved at the beginning of this month to recognise the French Republic. They are willing to model their Constitution after the French. They wish to ally with France and end the treaties with England and Prussia. They agree to surrender the private interests of the Stadtholder in their state and to indemnify all those dissenters whom they earlier banished. A copy of these resolutions has been sent to the Hague.
  • 9,000 citizens of Amsterdam have signed a Protest at the presence of allied troops in the town. They also resent the proposed allied inundation of the surrounding lands.[80] A deputation of the merchants (van Staphorst, Goldberg, et al) with the ex-Pensionary de Visscher, presented the Protest to the magistrates in the Town Hall on 14th October. The magistrates said the City Council had not reached a decision on either matter.

Sat 18th April 1795

Letter from Hamburg, 31st October. Peace is breaking-out:

  • Prussia agreed peace terms with France at Neufchatel on 12th October. Citizen Bahre, the secretary of the French embassy to Switzerland at Basel, has announced it to the Swiss senate.
  • A minister from Spain has arrived at Paris and is also desirous of peace now French armies have expelled the Spanish invasion force from France and are entering Catalonia.
  • Baron Diede of Furstenstein, Denmark has gone to Paris to mediate peace between the French and the Austrian Empire.

Sat 18th April 1795

The dispute between the Russian and Ottoman Empires:

The Porte has a Customs tariff on foreign imports. The Russians demand exemption for their goods. It was the Turkish sequestration of Russian goods for which no import tax had been paid that was the cause of the late war. The Russian minister at Constantinople has been instructed to ask:

  • Whether the Porte will intervene in Poland.
  • Would he allow Russian warships through the Black Sea into the Mediterranean.
  • Would he remove all French warships from his seas.
  • His protection and better treatment of those people of Moldavia and Wallachia who worship the Greek (Orthodox) religion.

The Porte’s reply was that Turkey had accommodated Russia in the recent treaty concerning the tariff. On the other points:

  • The Porte’s actions are directed by circumstances and self-interest. He can make no engagements for the future, about Poland or anywhere else.
  • The free passage of the Bosphorus had always been available to merchant ships only.
  • The Turkish policy of strict neutrality prevented his giving the French any orders.
  • Moldavia and Wallachia are Turkish tributaries and foreign powers should refrain from instructing the Porte on his policy towards them.

Sat 18th April 1795

The Revolutionary Tribunal of Geneva has concluded its appointed task and reported to the citizens in August 1794:

Equality, Liberty, Independence. The Tribunal you appointed to judge your enemies has completed its work. At the outset we had no regulations, no law, no organisation to deal with the 400+ prisoners who were passed to us to judge.

We classified the offences into seven types.

    • Permitting foreign troops to enter Geneva
    • Arming against the people
    • Attempting to frustrate Equality and Liberty
    • Attempting to frustrate the independence of Geneva
    • Perverting the free activity of the stock market
    • Soliciting the Swiss to break their alliance
    • Attempting to corrupt public morals

We examined the prisoners’ conduct in respect of these offences in public and private interrogations and recorded the information in statements. The awards we have made are 37 sentences of execution (26 of these convicts are at large), 94 sentences of perpetual banishment (28 of these convicts are at large), 4 sentences of banishment for a fixed period, 3 sentences of life imprisonment, 264 sentences of imprisonment for a fixed period, 7 sentenced to be imprisoned together, 3 sentenced to be deprived of their official posts, 89 sentenced to be dismissed from the public service.

These 508 sentences avenge the people. Their struggle against oppression is ended. Liberty and Equality have triumphed and Swiss Independence has not been outraged. Justice is restored to our Republic.

We do not claim to have dealt with all those who might be deserving of punishment but we strongly believe that the terrible lesson inflicted on the prisoners is just and sufficient. However should the aristocracy again attempt to raise its head, its members will not be able to avail themselves of our willing clemency.

The Resolution creating this Tribunal authorises us at Sec 2 to take such measures as are necessary to protect the Revolution and Public Security, and at Sec 5 to propose to Revolutionary Societies whatever measures appear appropriate. With these powers, those who attempt to impede the Revolution or prevent the establishment of fraternity amongst our people, will regret it.

This Tribunal is established by the people. We have received no protests against our decisions. We believe our acts should merit your approval. We have provided for the means to carry out the sentences by charging the Revolutionary Committee to enforce our awards. We have commended the Revolutionary Committee to empower the ordinary Tribunals with our powers at the time it thinks it proper to dissolve itself.

Now that the crisis has passed and the people have been avenged, it is time we direct our efforts to securing the prosperity of our nation. Each citizen should use his best endeavours to apply the Revolution to the advantage of our society. You have the revolutionary authority to determine the restitution due from the enemies of the people and to set the contributions required of every citizen proprietor in our national venture. These sums are to be applied to public establishments and to agriculture and manufacturing. Those citizens who are expert in any of these fields are requisitioned to the national purpose.

Be confident; Be vigilant; Resume your civic duties; Return to your vocations. Tell each other that next to your love of country comes your love of industry. This is your duty.

Tyrants enslave nations with two tools – idleness and corruption. Debauched and corrupted men have no place in our Republic. We are independent people and our revolutionary virtue is displayed in our public and private morality. We are regenerating ourselves. Your removal of the aristocracy will have been in vain if you do not repress the abuse of wealth, if you neglect justice, probity and virtue. It is insufficient to use merely words. You are known by your deeds. If you do not maintain constant vigilance, corruption will return.

This Tribunal now dissolves itself and its members revert to ordinary citizens. We return to our cottages having evoked the spirit of revolution and the determination to maintain equality, liberty and independence.

Sat 25th April 1795

A series of signal posts in the style of the French telegraph have been erected along the south coast of England. These are visible at sea in clear weather and will be helpful landmarks to our Royal Navy and merchantmen.

Sat 25th April 1795

France – 7th October was the anniversary of the reduction of Lyon. The National Convention has received a report on the present state of Lyon which contains proposals for reanimating its old commerce and industry. The report accuses Robespierre of attempting to exterminate merchants and suppress trade. It asks the National Convention to restore the prosperity of the city. A deputation of Lyonnais persuaded the Deputies of this duty and the National Convention then decreed:

  • The Commune Affranchie (emancipated) is no longer in rebellion and may use its former name of Lyon.
  • The decree confiscating Lyonnais’ property is rescinded for military stores.
  • The machinery of industry and for production of military stores is restored.
  • The owners of Lyon goods may reclaim them from wherever they have been detained.
  • The column erected in the city on which was written ‘Lyon has rebelled; Lyon is no more’ is to be removed.

A similar disabling Decree concerning Lons de Launier was also repealed.

Dubois Crance welcomed Lyon back into the arms of the Republic. He called for a report in 7 days to confirm the conduct of the Lyonnais is acceptable.

Sat 2nd May 1795

Vienna, 13th October – General Bournonville, the former French Minister for War whom the Austrians imprisoned at Olmutz, has escaped. Two horsemen dressed in the English-style arrived and took him away.

Sat 2nd May 1795

National Convention:

  • Five wagons of money have arrived at Paris from Belgium. Cambon proposed to send two representatives to supervise the administration of Brabant and Flanders. Duhem insisted that the fate of the low countries and that part of Germany that was captured in the war be determined. He thought those places should be incorporated within France.
    Tallien reminded the Deputies of the solemn oath they had taken to not aggrandise France and he suggested that the subject be discussed later. Agreed.
  • Freron publishes an anti-Jacobite journal called Order of the People. At the time it was the first but is now just one of many. Tallien is publishing another. In one article of Freron’s paper Laurence de Lecointre is accused of drafting his 26 charges against Barrere in a form that ensured his acquittal.

Sat 2nd May 1795

The following translated extracts are from a pamphlet published by St Just just before his execution. It was suppressed by the National Convention but the few copies that were circulated may have contributed to his early demise. It shows the claimed purity and virtue of the Deputies in a new light:

“I am tired of seeing the ministers opening the public treasury to foreign powers in order to purchase their neutrality or treachery. It would have been cheaper to conquer them than to buy their help. Our diplomats have heaped a ruinous expense on the country. We bribed Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Genoa and Venice. Those venal ministers have gone but the same spirit prevails in the diplomatic service. All these secret payments are by their nature unverifiable. We do not know how much was received by the venal representatives of those nations.

“What has the 40 million livres to Turkey brought for us? Actually it is 70 millions if we add the appraised value of the diamonds we gave the Porte. First the Effendi wants more, then the Pasha is not satisfied. The Porte needed help to exterminate Russia. If he could not do that, his only course was neutrality. He declined our help. Why pay him for that? Henins and Descorches were our ministers at Constantinople. Their property should be appropriated with their heads.

“When the Swedish King died, that country’s poverty dictated their neutrality, yet we are still paying, even in this last two months. We should make it lucidly clear that we buy allies not neutrality.

“Denmark is neutral by choice based on necessity. We not only pay her but submit to the despicable Danish practise of charging several times the free market price for grain. Some of the provisions she sends are never received but we still pay for them. The go-betweens in these transactions are completely unknown people, rogues of every description.

That has been our experience with monarchies. How about the results in republics.

“In Switzerland our minister is considered one of our most skilful negotiators. The expenses of his embassy is the greatest we have with any country and has been like that for two years. 40+ million livres has disappeared in the Alps. This is the country that exposes men for auction in the market place. We have purchased the expulsion of perhaps a score of émigrés from Switzerland. How can the Swiss seek to barter with us for these men?

“At Genoa there are two striking facts – all provisions bought are obtained by Citizen Tilly who buys the grain, brings it to Genoa and ships it to us. Secondly, our policy at Genoa is to form a party to overcome the influence of the coalition ranged against us. Excluding the cost of the grain, these two policies have cost 54 million livres since 1st March 1793.

“Can you believe that even the insignificant Venetians have put us to expense? It may not be much comparatively but their political irrelevance makes it somehow more disgusting.

“It is time we ended this nonsense. The neutral powers will remain neutral whether we pay them or not. If we really have to make these payments, they should be to traitors amongst our enemies; to those countries where we need information; where we need friends to exert influence. We want to buy discontented Generals.”

Sat 9th May 1795

The French National Convention has had medals struck for the Northern and Moselle armies. They depict the genius of France leaning on an urn through which the Rhine passes. They are stamped ‘the Rhine and peace’ and ‘ne plus ultra’ (these are our boundaries).

It appears to be the intention of France to make the Rhine her eastern frontier. It is a large and fast-flowing river and makes an admirable national border.

Sat 9th May 1795

The National Convention has welcomed into its membership the Deputies from Brabant, Flanders and Liege.

Under French rule, Brabant is divided into four regions – Brussels, Louvain, Anders and Nivelle. Tirlemont, formerly part of Louvain, is now a separate district. Maline, formerly part of Brabant, is also made a district.

Flanders is divided into 7 districts – Gand, Bruges (including Ostend), Nieuport, Dixmude, Courtray (including Menin and Oudenaarde), Alost and Tournay. Hainault is divided into 3 districts – Mons, Ath and Binche. Namur is united with Charleroi.

The Belgian magistrates have ordered the towns to comply. They also require that anyone employed by the Austrian Emperor or the Prince Bishop be dismissed from public service.

Sat 16th May 1795

The Cinque Ports Light Dragoons received their colours in a ceremony on 24th October 1794. They marched from near Dover to Walmer Castle and Dundas, deputising for the Lord Warden (Pitt, who resides at Walmer Castle), presented the standards there. The regiment is commanded by Colonel Jenkinson.

Dundas declared to the Colonel:

“These colours represent the solemn engagement you have made with your King to protect our laws, our liberty, our religion and our monarchy. When the King places that sword in your hands, he confides in your loyalty and obedience. In former times we have fought for our Empire, for our commerce and for the protection of our national security but in every case we have known what we were up against. We are now at war with an enemy who subverts our own people against us.”

The regiment was then drilled and the officers entertained at Dundas’ expense before they all marched back to camp at Dover.

Sat 16th May 1795

Proclamation to the Spanish people by Prime Minister Alcudia:

“Hear me. Evil people publish rumours that the French armies are irresistible; that traitors to God and Kings can do anything. They certainly use spies and misrepresent the difficult as easy and the easy as difficult.

“Your King knows you are loyal to him. Our armies are sufficient to annihilate the French. We are concentrating our forces to destroy the invaders. They only have 20,000 men at Navarre and Biscay – they cannot support a larger force in the present condition of their country. French soldiers are not really obedient to the tyrants – they act from fear. They have lost their property rights and their justice and they only hope to preserve their lives. 20,000 men are inadequate to conquer even a small corner of Spain. So far they have advanced through open country but now they have arrived at the mountains they are unable to march further.

“Do not be afraid. Our General will soon destroy them. God and His Holy Law will protect us. It is useless to farm your fields until these thieves have been removed beyond our borders. Our Catholic army will prevail over the violators of God’s Holy name. Give the King your loyalty and he will reciprocate by diminishing the expenses of his household and making your taxes lighter.”

Sat 16th May 1795

Count von Schlick has made a Declaration on behalf of the Austrian Emperor to a Convocation of states of the Upper Rhine. It is dated 12th August 1794:

“If you wish to remain German you will open your treasuries to me. I have long told you I am hard-up and suggested you make your own preparations for war but now the time has come to defend your homelands and you are unprepared. Our enemy is victorious everywhere. I have spent a lot of cash (long list of expensive activities included here).

“Your spiritual and temporal governments are rich and many of your merchants are conspicuously so. You have spent nothing on this war. You have immense credit which can be used to raise huge sums. I only get paid from my own hereditary dominions and I cannot afford to spend any more. Feeding, clothing and equipping armies costs a fortune. So does maintaining and garrisoning forts.

“If you abandon the Imperial Court now you will be crushed. Your provinces will be occupied and your culture changed to conform with French principles. If, through greed or neglect, you fail to act conscientiously the Imperial Court will punish you.”

Sat 16th May 1795

Paris, 13th November 1794 – More details of violence attributed to Robespierre is coming to light. We have described the summary executions of the Committee of Nantes; now we have a pamphlet describing the proceedings of the Committee at St Lazarus:

A 16 years old lad whose named was recorded as Maille was guillotined for complaining in prison that the salted herring he was given to eat was wormy. At the boy’s ‘judicial’ hearing a woman named Maillet was brought before the citizen judges. When she denied being his mother, she likewise was sentenced to the guillotine. The slight difference in name was discovered shortly before her execution but it was thought derogatory of the dignity of the court to reverse the decision.

A group of 28-30 revolutionary agents were employed by the Committee of St Lazarus to mingle with the prisoners in the gaol and collect extra evidence. These men would visit people mentioned by prisoners and solicit bribes to keep their names out of their reports. One chap, who refused them 200 livres, was executed for his refusal.

At one time some 800 citizens were imprisoned. The Police agents took all their valuable property on the pretext of searching for weapons – the common possession of scissors, razors, pen-knives permitted the police to take assignats, etc. The gaol food was invariably salt herring, stock fish and cheese. It all became wormy in the summer months. Unified complaints were treated as conspiracies. On one day 90 prisoners were guillotined for ‘conspiracy’.

Another pamphlet from a journal called Journal General de Politique de Literature et de Commerce, 15th November edition, reports on the Revolution of 9th Thermidor by Vilatte, an actor in that drama:

He says the revolutionary leaders told them the revolution could only be perfectly achieved by the institution of an Agrarian Law. The leaders appeared exulted and completely politicised their operatives.

Vilatte was with Robespierre, St Just and Barrere when news of the Queen’s words at her trial arrived. The messenger was affected by the noble reply she gave when asked if she and her son had committed incest. Robespierre stabbed his fork into his plate so violently it was cracked. “That idiot Hebert” he said (for furnishing her with such a triumph over the public interest). The Jesuits were stupefied. St Just said ‘morality will be elevated by this act of national justice’ and Barrere added that ‘the guillotine has cut through the knot that tied the courts of Europe’.

Sat 23rd May 1795

Paris 27th October – the trial of the members of the Revolutionary Committee of Nantes continues. They admit their activities were despicable but say they were acting under orders of Citizen Carrier, the Deputy responsible for Nantes:

“He forced us to guillotine without trial forty people from La Vendée who were captured in battle. He compelled the Military Commission to kill 3,000 poor people who stole in the streets. Even pregnant women and children were executed by him. When Nantes was threatened by an insurrection at Bussay, Carrier had a hundred ‘dangerous’ prisoners drowned in the river to ensure the safety of the prisons.”

Tallien said that the National Convention alone should decide the fate of Deputies. He recalled Cambaceres had recently proposed to form a Commission of 12 members to report on any accusations against a Deputy and he asked that his proposal be debated. Gopilleau said the CPS has considered the matter of the individual privilege of Deputies. He proposed that the CPS in consultation with the Committees of Legislation and Public Welfare unite to consider the matter.

Sat 30th May 1795

Paris 20th October – the National Convention is enforcing the law:

  • The Jacobins have attempted a comeback. On 15th they addressed the National Convention to purify the Revolutionary Committees. They have celebrated the success of the National Convention in ending the Terror and marginalising the perpetrators of it.

Rewbell, Bentabolle, Thuriot and Bourdon de l’Oise (all non-Jacobins) spoke on the subject. Bourdon said the popular assemblies were peopled by self-elected men who from time to time assert a policy that conflicts with the aims of the National Convention. They are welcome to their opinions but they must be popularly approved to be acceptable. Everyone agreed. The Jacobins were removed from the National Committees by Decree and have since been complaining against the Revolutionary Committees. Most recently they allege that food is not being fairly distributed. They are a spent force.

Here is the Declaration against the Revolutionary Committee of Nantes:

“Under a mask of patriotism, they accomplished a barbarous cruelty on the people. The Nantois were amongst the first to establish liberty. Then they fell under the control of a despicable group who arrested the rich in order to receive bribes for their release. They marked with chalk the houses of people to be looted and it was done before their arrest. They looted not just in the city but all the surrounding countryside too. Goulin admitted it but the worst man was Carrier.”

The Revolutionary Tribunal started the prosecution of 14 members of the Committee of Nantes on 18th October. Eighty Nantois have come to give evidence including the carpenter (murdered en route) who constructed the barque a soupage (‘valve barque’) used in the noyades (drownings). 10,000 people have died of mistreatment in the gaol; 30,000 were shot or drowned; young couples were tied together naked and thrown in the Loire in what was called a ‘Republican marriage’.

    • Barrere, Collet d’Herbois and Billaud Varennes are also accused of ruining Lyon by killing 4,000 – 5,000 fathers, burning 7,000 chateaux, guillotining 40,000 people and imprisoning 400,000 citizens.
    • Twenty of the Royalists who tried to deliver Brittany, Normandy and Poitou to the English have been arrested. They are imprisoned at Rennes.
    • Leonard Bourdon is responsible for selecting the items at the Palace of Versailles that should be preserved. He is supposed to show them to the Committee of Public Instruction for their opinion but is actually keeping the stuff at home. Freron accuses him of trying to steal state property.
    • A survey of Paris prisons reveals the Conciergerie is the most unwholesome. Deaths in custody are numerous. The prison is to be closed and the prisoners removed elsewhere until the defects are remedied.
    • The National Convention has decreed that anyone importing raw materials to France is patriotic and should have his imports admitted duty-free.

Sat 6th June 1795

Leiden Gazette, 7th Nov 1794 – Since the execution of Robespierre and the collapse of the Jacobins, the National Convention has ridden the wave of changed opinion and has indubitably become a popular government.

The horrors of Jacobin policies, and the documents evidencing them, are daily circulated and they are now seen as the enemies of Justice and Humanity. All their attempts to refresh their power are being repudiated.

There was great joy when the principal Jacobins – Laudeux, Mautonet, Vallette, Lafosse. La Combe, Baudouin, Georges and Bary – were imprisoned by the CPS recently. The Jacobin Club of Paris made its usual noisy and violent protests but no-one listened to them.

The National Convention has now driven a nail into the Jacobin coffin – it has revoked their right to petition collectively. The full terms of the decree are:

“All clubs are prohibited. Collective petitions are prohibited. Anyone wishing to petition government should do so individually. The National Convention is barred from making resolutions derived from collective petitions. Presidents and Secretaries of such clubs who sign petitions will be arrested.

“Every club will prepare a register of members to state full name, age, address, place of birth and trade or profession since 14th July 1789 and indicate when he joined. A copy will be provided to the local National Agent and the National Agent of the Commune where the Club meets within 20 days. The lists are to be up-dated quarterly.”

Saturday, 13th June 1795

Leiden Gazette – The Revolutionary Tribunal has investigated the Revolutionary Committee of Nantes and the National Convention has now awarded each aggrieved Nantois with an indemnity proportioned to the injustice received. The record of proceedings at Nantes is shocking. Here are two examples:

  • Goulin, a leading member of the violent faction at Nantes, has confirmed he was popularly known as ‘The Executioner’ and had formerly been employed as an assassin. He operated a “Revolutionary Company of Marat” to which only hardened men were admitted. It asserted a right to imprison whoever it liked and eventually gaoled some 4,000 Nantois. Most of the prisoners’ property was distributed amongst the group. On one occasion a hundred priests, who should have been deported, were loaded onto a barge and drowned in the Loire. Women and children were amongst the victims of this form of drowning.
  • Tranjoli, a member of the Revolutionary Committee of Nantes, received instruction from Carrier to execute without trial 23 prisoners-of-war and on another occasion 27 people. He queried the order and received positive direction by return to execute them by guillotine. These groups included women and children. 144 women prisoners, who made shirts for the soldiers whilst gaoled, came under suspicion and were drowned in the river. The water became so smelly it was long unsafe to drink and the authorities banned fishing.

These crimes are unparalleled in French history. Even Tiberius and Louis XI were not so harsh.

Saturday, 13th June 1795

Paris, 21st October:

  • A festival was held today to celebrate the removal of enemy armies from France. In the circular basin of the National Garden a simple monument with a funeral urn had been built to honour the men who have died for their country. All the soldiers in Paris, including their wounded, assembled at the Champ de la Federation. Cambaceres, President of the Military School, gave a speech and a hymn was chanted. Then they went to the Temple of Immortality where the trophies taken from the enemy armies are displayed. A list of the 14 armies of France and the dates of their various victories has been engraved on the wall. Another hymn was sung. In the evening the National Garden was illuminated and a crown of oak leaves was placed on the funeral urn. Orchestras played and the festivities concluded with dancing.
  • The Committees of Public Instruction and Finance have renamed the Theatre of the Opera as the Theatre des Arts. If the annual income from ticket sales is less than 680,000 livres, the Committees will top-up the difference so the artists are suitably rewarded. If the income exceeds 680,000 livres, the excess will be shared equally between the artists and the government.
  • At the same sitting, Citizen Mazuyere presented 15 quires of working papers from Rousseau’s archive. Mazuyere had received them from a friend to whom Rousseau had confided them. Lakanal said these papers show how Rousseau refined his thoughts for publication.

Saturday, 13th June 1795

National Convention, 20th September – The Committees of Public Welfare and Public Safety have reported on the present state of the nation:

“Monarchical governments usurp the rights of the people and act together to maintain their dominance. It has been found impossible to reform France without causing the neighbours to unite against us to restore oppression. It is not enough for us to choose to be free – we must be sufficiently strong to resist those governments that see our progress as a threat to their control of their own people.

“France put 1,200,000 men under arms to sweep the neighbours beyond our frontiers with Spain, the Palatinate and the Netherlands. Our enemies became terrified by our numbers. Their peoples felt the calamity of war and saw us avenging the Rights of Man. Our egalitarian principles ensured all good ideas were considered and we renewed the arts of war. Our successes appalled them and they became reluctant to confront us. Slowly we will awake the sleeping people of Europe to the possibilities of their existence.

“We are building a formidable navy to obtain the freedom of the seas. All those countries who resist the inducements of London and Vienna are recognising the superiority of our system. To be well defended, to cover the sea with warships, to fight by land or sea and vanquish those who oppose us and to bring into our ports all the produce of the globe – that is the duty of our popular government.

“The peoples of North Africa and America understand. Even the neighbours have an inkling of what we have achieved. Our success is becoming a matter of general knowledge. We achieved this elevated state by embracing liberty and equality. When every Frenchman knew he had a country and it was worth defending, he co-operated in the venture. You are all soldiers of France, brothers-in-arms. You help each other like individuals of the same family. This unity has made France the most powerful of nations.

“The neighbours sought to cripple us economically and commercially. We were left entirely to our own resources. We had to create everything for our own defence. We devised new methods of production, new ways of fighting war, and we prevailed. Never before has so much land been under the plough in France – we have subdued nature. Where the soil or rainfall is inadequate we distribute some of the surplus from more productive regions. We found so many useful professions that had been neglected. There has been a decreased domestic demand for luxuries, but a great increase in the number and variety of useful things.

“It was not easy. France suffered. People sacrificed the value of their labour, their clothes, their food to the national good. But we should know that democracy has to be fought for. Even now factions are still trying to assert themselves. We not only report the national successes but the national dangers, like those first navigators who found the great trade routes and charted them so others might follow.

“On 2nd June we destroyed Brissot’s faction. They were talented and popular men but had thrown themselves into the arms of minister Brissot by opposing the freedom of the press and preferring to deliver the country into the hands of the minister’s foreign protectors. The tendency of their acts would have eventually reintroduced the aristocrats if not the monarchy.

“Against this threat the National Convention gave the people a Constitution and Law. We enlightened the people of previous events and exposed the efforts of foreign powers to destroy us. The mask was torn from the faces of the émigré traitors and order re-established. They had exhibited a facility for agitating the people and stirring up spurious dissent. We responded by our display of trust for all those who proclaimed liberty and equality. The decree of 17th September established Committees of Vigilance staffed by superlative officials who can never be sufficiently thanked. They separated the good from the bad and administered the last blow to the aristocracy. They have ensured public tranquillity. Errors were made, we admit, but they were not mischievous. The plan of vigilance required a very large number of men but it could not have been otherwise. It was necessary. Our enemies were numerous. They had endless ways of influencing the administration, the popular societies, even our family members. We all had to be self-reliant and watchful. We know our enemies and have good reason to fear them. We may have been harsh but we were facing traitors internally and externally, supported by the immense resources of all the despots of Europe.

“On 8th Thermidor a vast conspiracy was discovered in this very Convention. An attempt to divide and terrorise our people was launched. Our military victories were represented as impending defeat. Next day we confronted the Royalists with their lies and extinguished the incendiaries who would have set our country alight.

“14th July and 10th August will forever attest to the courage of France as much as the defence of Lille or the recapture of Toulon or the raising of the sieges of Dunkirk, Mauberge and Landau, the battle of Fleurus, the conquest of Belgium, and the events on the Alps and in the Pyrenees.

“31st May will forever attest to our repudiation of anarchy and our determination to live under the rule of law.

“27th July will remind our posterity that we completed all the stages of our Revolution to the advent of that stage when we could only be beaten by deception and misinformation. Our response was a magnificent statement of probity and virtue upon which rests the liberty that now distinguishes our nation. Our measures brought fear and irresolution to the traitors.

“France understands her rights, her interests, her law of nature and reason, her safety and her happiness. We are promoting peace internally to show the world that our achievement is permanent and progressive. To those countries who still oppose us, we will send terror amongst them. We have created a grand and generous nation that loves order and submits to law. We redress abuses as they come to light. Yet some unquiet spirits still propagate dissent. They say the government has lost power, that aristocrats are resuming their former roles, that patriots are being sacrificed to our many enemies unavenged. Take great care of these creators of dissent. So long as you wholeheartedly support your revolutionary government it will be maintained in full force. It is in the hands of the people.

“France now recalls to their former employments all those great citizens who have temporarily fulfilled the public functions. The power they have held will become an object of political jealousy and will alarm liberty if not forsaken. Do not fear that those who replace you will lack your zeal or be unwilling to make the same sacrifices for the country. Neither should you fear that we will abandon you to the resentment or vengeance that some of your necessary acts may have engendered. You have defended liberty in tempestuous times. You will not be punished or forgotten. Representatives of the People – restore liberty to all who may be useful. Let not age and infirmity call in vain for this blessing. You have lived through uncertainty and danger. At times it has been like a fog obscuring the true path. It is unsurprising that we have sometimes not foreseen events but error will never be confounded with treachery or guilt. Prove by your conduct that you understand that all men are equal. It is the same with those who have been rehabilitated. If they understand the principles of equality they are your brothers and friends. Those old lines of social demarcation that ‘family’ and ‘profession’ entailed have been expunged by the revolution. They do not weigh in the scales of merit – only the demeanour and the actions of people are relevant. It is tyrants who destroy. Our duty is to preserve.

“You have founded this Republic not just for yourselves but for every Frenchman. None may be excluded except the bad. Those who recognise their former errors and open their eyes to the light are rehabilitated automatically and qualified for membership of our society. We all know people who lost faith and wandered from the revolutionary path. They have mostly been recalled by the national representatives. We will not reject these men. Our valiant young soldiers died for the liberty of their parents. We cannot fail them.

“Instruction in the sciences and arts was formerly withheld from you. Now they have contributed to our success. They have given us the means to strike down tyranny. Our balloons decide the outcome of battles. We have learned how to tan and prepare leather in 8 days. Robespierre never understood this. You even now have little idea of the full extent of progress that we can achieve under liberty and equality.

“We will not be truly happy, or enjoy the full prosperity that is our due, until we have restored public confidence; until the philosopher and the artisan can chat as brothers and friends.

“French commerce is in ruins. It was damaged by Robespierre as much as by our enemies. We must avoid the pitfall of buying foreign goods with gold. We must develop our supply of agricultural productions and metals for exchange. It is by industry alone that we achieve a balance of trade with other nations.…..”

Extraordinary edition, Tues 16th June 1795

The Company’s armed cruiser Viper (Lowes) arrived Bombay from Basra yesterday with private letters and newspapers from London:

  • France won the last campaign. They conquered the Netherlands. The French government now appears more moderate and settled. The chance for peace seems real, but the King and Pitt want further hostilities. Before the French arrived at Amsterdam, the merchants had already elected popular representatives. They had dismissed the magistrates and the Stadtholder’s party in preparation for democracy. The Stadtholder fled to Harwich. He was received by the Duke of York and taken to Hampton Court near London where he will reside for the time being. The new Dutch government demands the Stadtholder return to answer for his administration. When he arrived in London, the horses of his carriage were removed and he was pulled around the city by jubilant people. The occupation of the Netherlands had already been discounted by the stock market and shares fell only ½% on the news of the Stadtholder’s expulsion.[81]
  • Parliament sat on 30th December to receive the King’s Speech which was for a vigorous continuance of the war. He says our recent misfortunes result solely from the extraordinary efforts of the French which they cannot long maintain. The Dutch have made peace but we say it is temporary and unlikely to be durable because the pretensions of France will irritate the Dutch. Our ministry continues to decline to talk to French ministers whom we call dishonourable.
  • The Duke of Bedford in the Lords (and Earl Grey in the Commons) have requested the country start peace negotiations with France but Pitt is opposed. He has asked in the Commons for a levy of 120,000 sailors as the French fleet has come out of Brest for West Indies and Admiral Howe, with 35 ships-of-the-line and 20 frigates, has gone in search of it.
  • Government has co-opted 8 Indiamen to act as transports to carry an army to the West Indies. All India Company voyages to the East will be delayed this year. A fleet of 13 ships-of-the-line is coming to India under Admiral Gardner.
  • All the little German states want peace and Prussia agrees with them.
  • Britain seems tranquil. All the treason conspirators have been acquitted.[82]

Extraordinary edition, Tues 16th June 1795

The Abbe Sieyès has presented uniform peace proposals to the National Convention. He suggests they be offered to all Kings:

  • France will conform with diplomatic norms if her enemies permit the French people to chose the form of government they like.
  • All French colonies to be restored; France to restore the conquests made in Spain and Italy and the lands of Savoy, except Avignon and the surrounding area.
  • All the people of the German states between the Rhine and the sea to be permitted to chose the form of government they prefer; the allied powers are to withdraw their armies from this area to permit the free decision of the people which will subsequently be binding on all parties.
  • Navigation of the Rhine, Moselle, Meuse and Scheldt to be free to all.
  • Spain, Sardinia, Naples, England and Holland may continue to give asylum to French émigrés; Those who are willing to renounce their pretensions to national power will be provided with Corsica as their place of retreat. For this purpose Corsica will receive independence (but place itself under the protection of Sardinia) and may chose its own form of government. Its ports will always be open to French navigation.

Extraordinary edition, Tues 16th June 1795

The Dutch Revolution:

The first Dutch Revolutionary Gazette of Amsterdam dated 20th January 1795 contains the resolutions made since the French occupation. The revolution was entirely bloodless. As the French armies approached, several leading citizens thought it prudent to arm the people to deter disorder and looting. They established guards and posts in strategic locations and gave them the authority of the Dutch people. Before Burgomaster Straalman could reach an independent decision, Citizen Kragenhoff and a French army officer arrived and offered to deliver the Dutch people if they wished for it. Goloskin immediately negotiated with the merchants and ordered the garrison to not oppose his measures.

The peace party published a proclamation stripping Goloskin of his job and replacing him temporarily with Citizen Kragenhoff. The proclamation required the respect of persons and property and the preservation of peace and order. This was on 18th January. It was signed by Van der Aa on behalf of the Revolutionary Committee. People wandered the streets and talked but no disorder occurred. Next day the Revolutionary Committee went to City Hall and appropriated the chamber of the Burgomasters. Soon afterwards a deputation visited the Council Chamber and told the councillors their work was at an end. There was no opposition. The bourgeoisie had assembled outside City Hall and the Revolutionary Committee addressed them there:

“Fellow citizens, felicitations on your happy revolution. We wish you prosperity and fraternity. The French have magnanimously bestowed liberty upon us. We have regained our natural rights and are all equal freemen. Those who oppressed us have been dismissed. They should conceal themselves or flee. Public safety requires that peace and tranquillity reign perpetually. To attain this, we will conform with previous Dutch administrative practice until we have selected representatives to form the government of the country.

“We have prepared a long list of names for you to choose from (not printed in Bombay Courier). Do you think these representatives are worthy of you? We rely on your patriotism and co-operation to maintain peace. Our French friends disapprove of disorder. May loyalty and virtue always be ours.”

The named people then entered the Hall and were installed in the name of the people. At that moment the Revolutionary Committee resigned and transferred its functions to the new committee. The following night some senior French officers entered the city. This morning a Tree of Liberty was planted in front of City Hall to the general acclaim of the citizens who were told there is no historical analogy to their good fortune.

Extraordinary edition, Tues 16th June 1795

The Bombay Courier Editor has listed the important news at the end of last year in diary form:

4th Nov Maastricht surrendered
5th Nov Thomas Hardy acquitted[83]
6th Nov HMS Alexander taken by the French
7th Nov Nimeguen surrendered
11th Nov La Fayette escaped from prison
12th Nov Great fire of Plymouth
13th Nov Palace of Lisbon burnt down
14th Nov Warsaw occupied by the Russians.
16th Nov Poles defeated at Sandomir
17th Nov Pamplona captured by France
19th Nov British Parliament prorogued
20th Nov Jacobins unseated in Paris.
23rd Nov National Convention passed an accusation against Carrier
24th Nov Horne Tooke acquitted.
27th Nov Berlin fire, Palace of Werther consumed.
1st Dec M/s Kidd, Bonny, Joyce and Holcroft acquitted of treason
5th Dec All the German states voted for peace with France.
8th Dec News of French successes on Santo Domingo
10th Dec Earl FitzWilliam made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
12th Dec Pitt’s war loan completed.
13th Dec France captures Guadeloupe and more of Santo Domingo.
14th Dec Pitt orders 40,000 men conscripted in Britain and Ireland.
19th Dec Netherlands sent two commissioners to treat for peace in Paris.
22nd Dec The King ordered an inspection of the crown jewels in Edinburgh.

Sat 20th June 1795

France – The moderates are definitely in power. The Jacobins have fallen. The moderates are acting to restore French finances which have become so deranged that Assignats trade at 25% of their face value. The 73 Deputies, including Citizen Thomas Paine, who were suspended for 18 months during the Jacobin rule (i.e. from the end of Brissot’s rule until now), have resumed their seats.

The care of the Royal Children has been debated. Simon the Shoemaker, who was in charge of the Dauphin, has succumbed to the guillotine and is replaced by three well-considered tutors. The Princess is provided with a companion.

Sat 20th June 1795

London newspapers by the latest ship:

Wilberforce has seceded from Pitt’s government. He was formerly a zealous supporter.

Sat 20th June 1795

House of Commons – Canning said the success of France in war should cause all MPs to redouble their efforts to win. The Herculean effort of France was unprecedented. The opposition (Fox, Grey, Sheridan) foresaw this and deserved credit. The ministry says the government of France is unstable yet it continues to govern. The important thing is that the French Moderates now in power are as hostile to England as the Jacobins. The only difference between the parties is that the Moderates have voted themselves less power and permitted debate and compromise.

He noted that the French financier Gambon had calculated the expenses of France since commencement of the war at £303 millions of which £260 millions had been spent since the British declaration. The French had been able to bear this expense because they had seized all ecclesiastical land of the country and used it to secure the assignat system of paper money. It had obliged the people to accept assignats and thus established a value for them. This enabled it to distribute food to the people with little value-at-risk in the circulation.

The Moderates differ from the Jacobins only in not employing murder as a routine tool of government. They are fixing the national finances and reconciling the nation to recent horrors. He noted the Moderates had distinguished two sorts of national enemy:

  • those who instigated war and
  • those who were forced into it.

The Dutch, as former clients of England, were classified in the second category but the regime being established there could hardly be described as moderate. If that is what the Dutch get, what sort of terms would be on offer to England, a country categorised as the No 1 instigator of opposition to French principles?

He reminded MPs that England was awash with aristocratic French refugees who might all be butchered should they return home. If we are to make peace now, we will certainly have to maintain the armed forces in a state of readiness thereafter. The French would ask why and the dissension between the countries would continue. The ministry’s policy had influenced France. There had been many changes for the better. The continuance of war will produce more changes and eventually we will be able to make peace with honour and security.

Wilberforce said the King’s speech was hostile and lacked any hint of accommodation with France. It was plain the King would not make peace until a King sat on the French throne.[84]

Canning said changes were occurring in France. The death of Robespierre had ended the worst excesses of Jacobinism. The new administration considered itself moderate. We need to establish whether it is moderate as a tactic to secure popular support or by the natural inclination of its members.

A second difference was the collapse of the coalition against France. The Dutch, on whose behalf we claimed to have entered the war, were now treating for peace and the Prussians had lost interest.

The creation of the coalition raised the hopes of the French émigrés as much as its dissolution has depressed them. During the strength of the coalition, our émigrés had fomented no less than 43 separate insurrections within France, yet France was still able to best us. Now there are no insurrections and the coalition is dissolved, how are we to win?

He had been astonished that throughout successive changes of regime, the French army had remained staunch to whoever was in power. He thought England should declare herself not averse to peace on the right terms. The French know we have the financial muscle to continue the fight. They would recognise that our proposal was not made from weakness. If they reject it, it will allow the ministry to unite the country behind it.

He thought the prospects of success in war in Europe were small. The prospects of inciting a counter-revolution in France were smaller. French principles had become strong in France by dint of the passage of time. The young generation deplore the ancien regime and the monarchical establishment. The likelihood of a restored monarchy is unrealistic. He hoped that the French would move towards an American type of government. And he moved for the King’s address to be amended to procure peace.

Both Yorkshire MPs seconded Canning’s amendment. Bourdon also agreed.

Windham for the ministry chided Wilberforce and the opposition. When the French were losing they did not give up and surrender but fought back and they had prevailed. We should emulate them. The failure of the land campaign was not disastrous for England. When the French people first revolted we saw their efforts as a genuine attempt to obtain liberty from a corrupt and overbearing monarchy. We shared in their delight and did not seek to influence them while they remained weak. Then Lord Chatham published his book on the Revolution and we became aware of the danger he foresaw, but some Englishmen remained enamoured of the changes and sought to introduce a similar system here.[85] Peace was to be established worldwide. It was an alluring destination for the hoi polloi.

But if we put an end to war, how can we protect ourselves against those who would again take up the sword?

Another doctrine had been asserted in the debate – that no war should be commenced unless there was a clear national advantage to be obtained. This doctrine denied the importance of war to maintain our national honour and independence.

A third doctrine was espoused – that no country should involve itself in the internal affairs of another. There is no support in international law for this doctrine (Windham is a lawyer). The ministry’s procedure has been to examine the principles on which the addictive French system operates. He reminded MPs that in that war in which Louis XIV conquered all Europe, in which the Turks were expected to invade Europe, in which Germany had become a spent force, did we not intervene in the internal affairs of Europe?

Windham concluded that an honourable and secure peace could be achieved only by a vigorous prosecution of war until the French did not want to fight any more. If peace is declared now, the ports will be opened, Frenchmen will come here and Englishmen go there and our efforts will be frustrated from within. Then the distinctive feature of our system – our protection of property rights – would be destroyed and who knows what will replace it. Our forces are equal to France; our financial resources are greater. We must continue.

Chancellor Pitt said he was surprised by the defections from government ranks. He maintained that the French government could not be trusted and any negotiations would be pointless. He would be willing to treat with France if it formed itself into a Republic. Otherwise he thought the best chance for a good peace was to continue the war. He reiterated that the end of monarchy, aristocracy and Catholicism in France was intolerable and must be reversed; that the powers of Brissot and then Robespierre were continued in the present administration but they did not chose to use them for the time being. He believed the concepts of the Rights of Man, of liberty and of equality threatened British property rights.

The French had earlier proposed to spread their system all over the world. They had said so two years ago and, if they can find the means, they would say it again today. If they can succeed, they will bring an end to our form of representative control of the people.

He concluded that the question before the House was whether to submit to France or continue the war for another campaign. If we make peace now we will have to annul the Traitorous Correspondence Act and the Aliens Act, permit the British people to correspond with whoever they like and allow foreigners to come and go. We will expose ourselves to a similar popular revolution. He thought it was impossible for France to disband its armies. Now they have Europe at their feet, can they resist using their ability to influence the political character of every nation?

However, he (Pitt) had detected a great weakness in France in its limited ability to raise funds to prosecute the war. French resources are being exhausted faster than they can be replaced. We must keep up the pressure. If we give France a chance to recuperate, we will have a bigger job to do later.

Pitt referred to British conquests in West Indies (where we have re-populated the old French colonies with émigrés). Are we to abandon those people to a miserable end. What if France again liberates the West Indian slaves – all our investment in sugar and coffee production will be endangered.[86]

The French have fought astonishingly effectively for two years. Pitt thought it possible to calculate when French money would run out. They first subsisted by requisitioning from the people, which required the Terror; now the government proclaimed its mildness, how would requisitions be continued? He had seen from French newspapers that the expenses since the revolution equated with £480 millions and that the costs of the last two years of war alone had been £320 millions. These sums did not arise from tax revenue and loans – they were provided by paper money which they themselves believe cannot much longer be sustained in value.

The real money (gold and silver) circulating in France in 1793 was not more than £90 million. In that year the value of assignats issued was £130 millions. The increased printing of assignats has enhanced the prices of necessaries. The French forced more wealth out of the people and increased the real money circulation to £130 millions but by that time it was still only about half the value of the circulating paper money. At that time the gold Louis (25 Francs) fell to a value of 120 livres in Assignats, about one sixth of their nominal value.

To restore the national finances, the government adopted the Terror. It was a pretext to relieve the wealthy of their money and support the paper currency. A law was passed making assignats legal tender at one sixth of their face value and the people were obliged to receive them at that rate or risk imprisonment for up to 20 years. This brought the wealthiest people of the richest country in the world to penury. The transfer of wealth enabled the government to feed the common people at below cost and avoid the violence that should have resulted from their economic policy. Robespierre said the transfer was made voluntarily by the patriotism of the people but Pitt has no doubt it was achieved by the Revolutionary Tribunals and the guillotine. Robespierre’s policy restored the value of assignats but once his cruelty was ended, the assignats again fell considerably.

The national finances were also reliant on the Revolutionary Committees appointed to every commune of Frenchmen. These men live by plunder and cost government £26 millions a year. Since that time the face value of assignats issued has reached £260 millions. In the two months after Robespierre’s death, the assignats fell to half their revised nominal value. Recently they were valued at a quarter of nominal.

The fall in value is due to the withholding of violence to support assignats, said Pitt. All the National Convention membership agree that they rely on assignats to effect their policies. This is their only resource and it appears to me to be nearly at an end. It was the conscription of the people into the armies that underlay French martial success – another requisition funded by assignats. They had previously attempted to force a loan but failed.

Do we suppose, if they tried again now the Terror is abandoned, that they could succeed? If they are pressed they will issue more assignats; if we make peace they will restore their finances and find fresh means to promote their aims.

And Pitt called on MPs to be steady. Just a little longer and France will become bankrupt and we can dictate to her.

Fox disagreed. Had not Denmark, Sweden, the Swiss cantons and America all preserved peace with France. Were they not all free of the infection of French principles, he asked?

Sat 20th June 1795

An English West India fleet was driven back to the Downs by inclement weather. It is fortunate because the French Brest fleet is in the Channel and, had they met, our ships would have been greatly outnumbered. The French have continued to cruise through the winter in spite of foul weather and considerable damage and loss to their ships.[87]

Sat 20th June 1795

Report from Amsterdam, 6th February 1795:

  • The Dutch representatives have abolished hereditary nobility and the hereditary dignities of the Stadtholder.
  • The representatives have required the Council of State to obtain from the States General a complete list of Dutch shipping, including the warships that escorted the Stadtholder on his flight to England (the ships become droits of George III, valued in excess of one million Pounds). They also require a requisition of all the property of the allied armies still in Netherlands.
  • The French also asked for a list of the Stadtholder’s property. The States say he just had the usufruct of some of the property. Others were his personal property but he has many debts, they say.
  • Horned cattle (a French export) is no longer subject to a Dutch import duty.
  • All Dutch residents are to return to their country within a month or their property may be confiscated.
  • A National Guard is being formed. Everyone between 16 – 60 years may be required to serve. Dr Kragenhoff is the General.

The Provisional representatives of the Free Dutch people under Burgomaster Pierre Paulus, have proclaimed the following decrees:

  • The sovereignty of the Dutch people and the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
  • The abolition of the Stadtholdership and the offices of Admiral General and Captain General of the United Provinces.
  • All Dutch citizens are released from their Oaths to the old Constitution.
  • The rights of fishing and hunting are restored to each upon his own land.
  • The usual fees and taxes will be continued temporarily but it is intended to reduce them soon.

Sat 27th June 1795

Our old coalition allies are making peace with France but England is reinforcing its navy – ‘the wooden walls of England.’ Our army is being withdrawn from Europe.

The gift of regiments offered by the India Company to the King was found to be unconstitutional and has been commuted to a money payment which will be used to pay a bounty to prospective seamen.

Twelve of the Company’s chartered Indiamen have been taken-up by government to form a fleet, reportedly for the protection of India. The Company proposes to charter a comparable amount of tonnage in India to remedy the shortage to its commercial department.

Editor – This will be welcome news to British shipowners in the Indian Presidencies given the present stagnation of trade.[88]

Sat 27th June 1795

The India Company’s London sales commenced in January. The auctions were not proceeding well until Swiss orders on French account pushed-up prices 10%.

The French are obliged to send specie to all the neutral ports to obtain those necessaries that they do not produce at home – sugar, coffee, cotton, tobacco.

Surat cotton started at 11d per pound then, with receipt of the continental orders, improved to 13d. Some fine qualities even sold at 14d.

Sat 27th June 1795

Journal Generale de Frankfurt has compared the naval strengths of France and England:

Between 1st February 93 – 26th December 94, the English seized 373 French ships, including those from Toulon. They have taken 21 from the Spanish and 4 from the Dutch. These c. 400 ships include 69 warships exclusive of many privateers.

On the other hand, the French have taken 820 British ships, 101 Dutch and 36 Spanish. These include 7 warships.

At the close of the period in December 1794 the British navy comprised 124 ships-of-the-line (55 under repair or building), 180 frigates and 50 smaller ships of 12 – 16 guns. The French have 67 ships-of-the-line and 75 frigates.

Sat 27th June 1795

Prince Philip of Hesse-Hombourg and Prince Weld were taken prisoner towards the end of the Dutch campaign. They are detained in the Luxembourg in Paris. They are held as hostages for the release of General Bournonville, the former War Minister, and the four French legislators whom Dumouriez delivered to Austria.

Sat 27th June 1795

The Dutch employ a Swiss regiment at Colombo in Ceylon.[89] These people hold French principles and have subverted the trade of the port. The Dutch governor now sleeps in the fortress with his Dutch soldiers who are not yet influenced.

This Swiss regiment was formerly at the Cape but its behaviour was so wild as to induce the Dutch governor there, van der Graaf, to send it to Colombo. To accomplish this van der Graaf first had to arrest several of the regimental officers. The rank and file are a cosmopolitan group.

Sat 27th June 1795

Letter from Lyon, 12th December – all our émigrés have returned and are re-establishing their factories. Many of them left in 1791. Every one of them says he regrets the past and looks forward to the future.

Sat 27th June 1795

Letter from Grenoble, 14th December – the nobility and others have been released and their property restored to them. de Chaleon, a noble Deputy to the Assembly, was amongst the first to be arrested but is now released. Many émigrés are returning and hope for the same relief. They portray themselves as misled rather than culpable.

The same occurrence has happened in Dauphiny and Provence. Moderation is taking hold in all these places.

Sat 27th June 1795

The 71 Deputies (including Thomas Paine) who have been re-admitted to the National Convention under the new moderate leadership have published their Protest against the events of 31st May 1793:

“We were branded as accomplices of the conspirators and evicted. That faction had an armed force of Parisians under its control. They used violence to seize power and loot the treasury and national resources. They held an overriding control of all the decisions of the National Convention. They superseded the functions of the representatives and intimidated them.

“The National Convention was changed from a representative organ of the people into their own plaything. They gave unlimited powers to the Commissioners whom they sent to the army generals and the departments and provided no subsequent check on their activities. Their project failed on the night of 10th/11th March 1793 but was ultimately successful in May and early June.

“At that time they closed Paris, inspected all letters, put cannon at every junction around the National Convention and deployed 60,000 armed men in the capital, men who were intended for the liberation of La Vendée. Their assassins were lurking in every corner of the National Palace.

“As the National Convention membership approached en masse to its council chamber, that faction demanded the surrender of 32 deputies to the vengeance of the people. This proceeding was purportedly justified by a decree authorised by a mere one sixth of the National Convention members and was enforced by armed might. Those 32 Deputies were exiled or imprisoned without charge or trial.

“The remaining signatories to this Protest then seceded from the government of France.”

Sat 4th July 1795

Dr Bolman, a Hanoverian subject, wished to release la Fayette. At Vienna he received permission to attend la Fayette as a medical specialist to see what effects his long confinement had caused. Bolman prescribed air and exercise.

He arranged for la Fayette to take carriage trips accompanied by his friend de la Tour Malberge and a guard. Later he got the guard to agree that la Fayette might walk a short distance. They sent the carriage away.

Then Dr Bolman and his servant set upon and restrained the guard. They had la Fayette and de la Tour Malberge mount the carriage horses and provided them with money. They indicated where the prisoners would find another carriage to take them further away.

The Doctor left by another route. Eventually the guard released himself and raised the alarm. The mountain passes were closed.

Bolman was caught at the Silesian frontier but la Fayette and de la Tour Malberge escaped.

Sat 4th July 1795

National Convention, 2nd December 1794 – A decree was issued today pardoning the Royalists in La Vendée. All rebels in La Vendée who lay down their arms within the next month will receive amnesty for their revolt. They will deposit their arms at the nearest municipality. Deputies will attend and observe the process:

“For two years there has been civil war. You who preferred masters to brothers, fanaticism to reason, should put an end to calamity. The National Convention, in the name of your generous nation, forgives you. Disarm and sincerely repent. Do not gratify our enemies with this continued schism. The guns they gave you cannot dissolve the chains of blood that link you to us. Ignore the English.”

On receiving this, the head insurgent at Morbihan contacted General Humbert of the revolutionary army to discuss the matter in a forest. They talked two days and then went to Nantes to formalise their agreement. At Fort de la Roche in late January a similar rapprochement occurred. No muskets were fired, no plundering took place and most Royalists were persuaded to abandon their struggle.

Not all agreed. At Chateauneuf on 18th January 1795 a gunfight occurred and the cry ‘vive le Roi’ was heard.

Sat 25th July 1795

London press commentary:

The demise of Jacobin power has not induced a return to monarchy as some predicted. On the contrary the French revere their Republic more than ever. The moderates have been zealous to repair all the Jacobin damage – they have enacted five unifying measures:

  • An amnesty to the Royalists in La Vendée,
  • A qualification of the penal restrictions on émigrés and priests,
  • Performance of public worship is permitted,
  • Trade and industry is encouraged and
  • The freedom of the press is unlimited.

The last winter 1794 / 95 was very severe and the Jacobins sought to use it to criticise the National Convention moderates, noting the expense and scarcity of provisions. The moderates called for a report and Boissy d’Anglas told them shortages were real but would end quickly. It turns out he was right and supplies are now arriving. Paris is relieved.

The stimulation of the press by National Convention policy has caused newspapers to flourish in France. The National Convention member Mercier publishes a paper and prints 15,000 copies each day. He recently commented on a suggestion of La Croix that the French people are disposed to resume the Constitution of 1791 – “The passing of the old government is not regretted. The people have seen atrocious tyranny ordered by their representatives and they desperately regret that, but no-one regrets the end of the ancien regime.”

Priests call those who question them ‘atheists’ and politicians called opponents ‘Royalists’ but these expressions have become mere debating terms.

The people want tranquillity, nothing more. If the Deputies act tyrannically, the people will arm themselves and oppose; Montesquieu said that moderation established on virtue is the soul of a Republican government. Now we have overwhelmed a tyrant we should know better than to imitate him. We have sworn to be free. We know no liberty but that guaranteed by equity and Republican law. The Constitution of 1791 did not address these fundamental principles of the social contract. It is the absurd and fatal production of intrigue. It supposes rights without security, powers without liberty, forces without equilibrium, effort without direction, monarchy without aristocracy, democracy without equality. Unsurprisingly, it lasted for less than a year.

Sat 25th July 1795

The Aldermen of the City of London sent an Address to George III on 28th January:

“Your war aims remain unaccomplished. We hope peace will be re-established soon, consistent with the national honour, dignity and security. We support you.”

Sat 25th July 1795

Recent news from the Netherlands:

  • The Provisional Representatives of the people have published a report on the Bank of Amsterdam to satisfy the commercial interests of the Dutch people. The bank is not in deficit; assets and liabilities balance but in lieu of specie in the Treasury there is an immense volume of Bonds that have been deposited as security, some for over 50 years. These have accumulated to a prodigious extent. A small part (227,264 florins) involves Bonds which have been defaced but repayment of all remaining Bonds is now required as they are guaranteed by the town. No further specie may be drawn from the Bank. This is necessary to maintain its reputation and secure its customers.
  • The popular representatives of the French Army of the North have made a requisition on the Dutch:
    “The army needs food and clothing. We do not chose to employ agents in order to minimise inconvenience. We ask the States General to supply us in a month with 200,000 quintals of wheat, 5 million bushels of corn, 200,000 shirts, 150,000 pantaloons, 40,000 breeches, 50,000 hats, straw, hay, etc., and 20,000 oxen in 2 months. Please do not perplex the inhabitants with your demand. We will pay (in assignats) for what we receive.”
  • All the inhabitants of Amsterdam and Rotterdam have troops quartered on them. Only the Danish and Swedish consuls (neutrals supplying provisions to France) are exempt.

Sat 25th July 1795

Colonel Ramsey has returned to London from the Netherlands on 13th February. He has been checking the condition of the 700 British prisoners whom we left there when our army was ejected. They have been well-treated by the French.

When a Doctor suggested port wine would improve the condition of some men, the French General Bergeron sent to Rotterdam and procured a supply (NB this wine supply was billed to Britain at £36,000 or £50 per man). As the men recover, they are sent to inland Dutch towns to convalesce, not to France as had hitherto been supposed. Our hospital staff live completely unrestricted and may return to England should they desire it.

Ramsey says French influence in the Netherlands is mild. Captain Flynn was allowed to land 7 chests of medicine which Ramsey wanted for the patients. The French are scrupulously protecting Dutch property – a soldier who took the hat of a Dutchman was shot. The Dutch flag still flies over the docks and port and on the ships but the tricolor is hoisted on churches. All the French whom he met expressed a desire for peace with England. Many of the French officers believed a similar social Revolution is developing in England.

Sat 1st August 1795

Paris – Mercier’s newspaper has an interesting article on religion. The National Convention debated the subject in late February. Mercier notes that religion seeks a refuge in the hearts of men. It may not be overtly professed but it is there. Republicanism is a political system. It has no connection with religion. The profession of atheism by Republicans is unnecessary, Mercier says.

The National Convention debate resulted in a Decree permitting worship. The Republic will not pay for it. No churches or priest’s houses will be provided. No religious dress or regalia may be worn in public. No public marks promoting this or that religion are permitted. No land or money may be donated to religious groups. Public ceremonies are forbidden. Congregations will be regulated by the gendarmerie.

Sat 1st August 1795

The National Convention has heard that there are now totally 6,000 million livres in assignats in circulation. Cambon proposed that the legislators start withdrawing them. Vernier wished to restore confidence in financial matters – we should convince Europe that we will honour the assignats. A light land tax will reassure everyone. Calling in the assignats should not provoke apprehension as their mortgage (on all the national property) is 15,000 million livres.

Thibault noted the scurrilous activities of stock-jobbers. These people assemble daily at the Palais d’Égalité and conspire to depreciate government paper. Recently I watched their concerted influence on the market. The gold Louis which was worth 121 livres at the outset, was advanced to 132 livres by their influence. Having drawn-in other speculators with the increasing price, they take profit and disband the conspiracy.

The jobbers are an organised group of speculators representing an army of retired people. They gamble the retirees’ capital in this game. It is not just gold and silver prices that are effected, they also manipulate the provisions market. They buy up anything that has been securitised on which a plausible rumour of impending shortage or surfeit in supply can be published.

The Deputies agreed that the relevant Committees should observe the speculators and investigate whether a public stock exchange like Amsterdam’s might be more transparent.

Sat 1st August 1795

Letter from Brussels, 28th January 1795 – The French conquest of the Pay Bas has been profitable. 150 British merchantmen have been seized in the ports. 400 cannon and materiel for an army of 200,000 has been captured by the French. The dockyards of Rotterdam and Amsterdam are suitable for the construction of warships.

The Dutch warehouses of the British Admiralty and the India Company have not yet been touched.

The Stadtholder’s army has dispersed into the islands of Zeeland. The French are selecting a cadre of suitable young Dutchmen for tuition in the Normal schools around Paris. The Representatives require Brussels to provide 5 million livres before month end.

Sat 15th Aug 1795

Recent London newspapers say Pitt resigned the ministry for 1½ days when the King demanded the Duke of York be again nominated to command the British army.

The King was intransigent as usual and Pitt resigned. When the King failed to find anyone else to be his minister, he relented and Pitt came back. The compromise is for York to become a Field Marshal instead.

Sat 15th Aug 1795

Petition of the West India planters and merchants, 7th October 94, to Henry Dundas:

The British West Indian islands contain about 500,000 blacks and 50,000 whites. We obtain provisions from America – there is no other source. If we are to grow these foods ourselves, we must reduce the acreage given over to sugar and coffee, etc., and replant with grain.

It is not just food – we also get building materials (timber) and horses and cattle from America. British Canada does not offer these productions – it consumes all it produces itself. Not only is America the only place that supplies all these necessaries in fresh and good quality but it also buys our rum and molasses (those cheap goods that are superfluous to Europe’s needs and can hardly bear the freight to Europe).

Since the War of Independence all American trade to West Indies is supposed to be carried in British ships under the terms of our Navigation Acts. The English took over the maritime trade after that war and prices have increased 50 – 100%. There is no change of price in the goods in America themselves; its just the involvement of English intermediaries that has caused the increase.

A fleet of specialist ships was built in America to bring timber, animals and food and take back rum and molasses. The ships from England are not suitable to bring timber, animals and food. The outbreak of war with France has led to the seizure of many of these specialist American ships and they are now either kept in port or used on other trades.

It has been our imperative necessity to open our ports to American ships direct. We are already struggling with the increased freight and insurance rates that war brings. The fact is, if we are hobbled in this way, the Spanish and Dutch West Indian colonies (who have unrestrained trade with America) will progress faster than we.

By interdicting American trade in agricultural products we inevitably force them into manufacturing the items that we colonists are no longer able to re-export to them. This will put them into direct competition with British goods.

British monopoly of the benefits of our West Indian colonies cannot be maintained in wartime. We have just taken a good part of the French islands and our trade needs will necessarily increase. The French colonies you have occupied are temporarily allowed to trade with America. We want the same allowance.

Sat 29th Aug 1795

Mercier’s Parisian press reports that disorder at the National Convention is not entirely ended. A group calling themselves Cretans tried to disrupt the meeting on 3rd February.

Leonard Bourdon seems to be a member – he was one of the minority calling ‘down with the moderates.’ Fayan is another and made some radical statements. Order was quickly restored and Mercier is publishing the spat to alert Parisians to what the Cretans had attempted in the chamber.

Mercier also reports a 21st February sitting at which the Deputies elected representatives to be posted to the colonies in the East (Mauritius and Reunion). Legendre became incensed with a colonial deputy named Garaud and threatened to ‘box his ears.’ All the Jacobin opposition shouted for justice. Legendre defended himself – in attacking their chiefs it is unsurprising I should be attacked by their chiefs’ supporters, and he identified Thuriot as the Deputy who wished to unite the colonial representatives under his own agenda. Thuriot denied the accusation. Legendre reiterated it and added that Thuriot had only combated Robespierre (his claim to protection now) because he wanted the supreme power himself.

Every Deputy was alerted and the subsequent vote approved only non-Jacobin representatives for Mauritius – Barras, Letourneur de la Manche and Harmansi de la Meuse.[90]

Sat 29th Aug 1795

Leiden Gazette, 15th February:

The French representatives to the Netherlands have fixed Holland’s contribution to France for war indemnity at 1 million livres in assignats. The amount will be apportioned amongst all property owners and may be adjusted if there is evidence of their support or opposition to French or Dutch liberty.

Dutch citizens have three months to procure their necessary assignats. The traders are already accepting assignats for merchandise and this compulsion on property owners to hold them as well has increased their value.

It is supposed that the French sooner or later will remove gold from the Netherlands to France and replace it with assignats. If the French do this in all the occupied lands, the bullion traders of Paris will become unemployed.

Sat 29th Aug 1795

Peace with France – Baron de Stael arrived at Paris on 23rd January and Baron Goltz is expected 26th January. Merlin de Thionville left Paris yesterday for an undisclosed destination, widely supposed to be Vienna. There is a great popular wish for peace. France has achieved the frontiers that will assure a reasonable level of future security to her. She now wants to get her men back to stimulate agriculture and industry and enjoy the peace dividend.

But the Deputies know the coalition of Kings is still active. Prussia may be diverted by Poland; Austria wants peace only so she also can involve herself in Poland without a potential enemy at her back. It is just George III who remains implacably opposed to regicides and keeps his ministers focused on monarchical revenge which Pitt makes acceptable by maximising the commercial possibilities of war to beguile and placate the City of London (see the Political Management chapter for Pitt’s “what is to be gained?” proposal to the MPs). The Deputies conclude that any or all of the neighbours could resume the struggle. The debate reveals:

A stranglehold continues around French ports. We thought we were self-sufficient economically but we do need a small supply of colonial produce and luxuries. Our revolution should not be a Spartan affair. The efforts of war have depleted our supplies of iron, copper and timber and initial replacement will have to come from abroad. We also need wool from Spain and silk from Piedmont to rehabilitate our piece-goods industry.

We cannot continue to buy through Switzerland because the supply is sourced from our enemies and the prices are unbelievably high even before local transportation and delivery. Basel collects from us in specie six times the value we ourselves collect from all the occupied electorates along the Rhine. We have to find sources other than Switzerland. This in turn means we have to strengthen our navy and firm-up our relationship with prospective suppliers like the northern powers. This is the way to our full recovery.

Meanwhile our armies survive by requisitioning and everyone wants it to end.

We have an opportunity to procure a great commercial revolution as spectacular as our political one but it requires peace.

Sat 29th Aug 1795

House of Lords, 12th February:

Bedford addressed the Lords on the effect of the King’s speech demanding a continuation of war. He thought it so uncompromising as to discourage the British people from pressing their wish for peace. They were tired of war but the minister implacably demands continuance. He thought ministers had erred in permitting an obstinate Declaration. The French do not expect peace from us.

Bedford reviewed the declarations of the King and of two British commanders (Admiral Lord Hood and General O’Hara at Toulon, who had not been contradicted by any British official). He concluded that these revealed we fought the war to restore monarchy to France. One of the commanders had indicated there was no intermediate stage between anarchy and monarchy. The other had said the way to restore law, religion and morality was to restore monarchy. He challenged the Lords to identify some plausible alternative aim of British war policy.

He observed French conduct towards the neutrals – America, Sweden and Denmark – showed that Paris was quite able to maintain proper relationships with other states. By elimination of all other conceivable causes, one is inexorably led to the conclusion that England is fighting Republicanism, the French form of government.

He observed that the Minister’s argument against peace feelers was that it would raise the French spirit and depress the English. He observed the French considered themselves as fighting in a great cause and their spirits were raised very sufficiently by their military successes. Britain’s purpose was to oppress the French and bring them to forsake the form of government they had chosen. The supporters of this purpose in England were largely French émigrés who wanted revenge. The ministry’s only ground for great expectations was the desperate state of French national finances, and Pitt repeated that hope every day ad nauseam, but France continued to war successfully on several fronts.

Bedford referred to his earlier speech about the spirit of Royalism at Toulon, La Vendée and Alsace. He thought these efforts of the British government to improve the standing of the émigré French aristocrats with their own people were misleading. In fact, a man who has written a pamphlet promoting Royalty has just been sentenced to the guillotine, although his execution will unlikely be approved by the new moderate government. The fact is his one pamphlet promoting Royalty should be seen against the background of myriad other pamphlets all promoting the cause of peace.

The only centre of slight Royalist sympathy in France was amongst army officers but whilst those men are busy fighting for their country they can hardly influence the discussion at home. Peace would allow them to return and affect the political process and system.

So there appears to be an alternative way of achieving British war aims by declaring peace and creating the circumstances whereby French monarchy might have prospects of revival.

The other Lords did not agree. ‘A neighbour might change its government but the new administration should be friendly’ one said. They saw a cause of war in French measures that they characterised as hostile to England.[91]

Sat 5th Sept 1795

Editorial – The Prussians have left the allied coalition and made peace. The Austrians and Spanish are following the same course. All the continental powers are unwilling to confront France after the terrible beating they got in the Low Countries. The ability of France to raise, train and provision the most enormous armies and give them the motivation to fight effectively against our own mercenaries and mediocre Generals has decided the continental powers to eschew direct measures.

The allies now place their faith in the guile and deception of Metternich and his ilk.

England’s position is different. The sea adequately protects us against invasion. Our naval force protects our coasts and distresses the enemy’s. France cannot bring her overwhelming military power to bear on us without first defeating the Royal Navy. Our main exposure to France is in George III’s ownership of Hanover, his special relationship with Prussia and Austria, and, somewhat less importantly, our claret, champagne and brandy traders and those social-minded people who scent a whiff of paradise in French political innovations.

Sat 5th Sept 1795

Paris news – The Prince de Bouillon sought to land his Royalist party on the Brittany coast from Jersey on 14th March.[92] Pitt wished him to rekindle the civil war in La Vendée. Émigrés had been recruited in London and sent to the Channel Islands to support him. An English flotilla of some 15 frigates escorted Bouillon to the Bay of St Brieuc. Their arrival was a noisy affair to alert the people ashore who were expected to display their support.

It seems that Pitt has been completely misled by the Bourbons and the priests. The people of that area have become patriotic. They support the Republican army and the national guard. General Vatteau opposed the émigré landing so quickly that our fleet had to sail off elsewhere. Our warships sailed along the entire Bay from Treveune to Metz de Gaele but could not surprise the French army. They then returned to Jersey.

This event should alert the British ministry that émigrés are no longer welcome in Brittany. The National Convention wants to reinforce the coast from Port Brieuc to Pontrieux. It seeks for a way of impressing on the English that the treaties it has made with the formerly rebellious people (see below for La Vendée) are honoured by both sides.

It believes French security interests imperatively require a treaty with Spain to combine the two national fleets and obtain naval parity with England. France sent 6 ships-of-the-line to Toulon and now has sufficient force in the Mediterranean to confront England but, to do so, it necessarily reduced the effectiveness of the Brest fleet leaving control of the Channel to us.

Sat 5th Sept 1795

The Royalist General Charette has signed a Treaty of Indemnity with the French Republican government on 7th March. He acts on behalf of the dissident inhabitants of La Vendée. Here are the terms:

  • 40 million livres will be paid to the Vendéans immediately.
  • All debts of General Charette of La Vendée will be paid by the country and a 10 million deposit is given.
  • The inhabitants of La Vendée acknowledge the French Republic.
  • General Charette may command a force of 2,000 Vendéans who will be paid by the Republic.
  • The Republican Government will prepare a list of those inhabitants it requires banished and give it to the General to execute.
  • Catholic worship is permitted discreetly. All bells and processions are forbidden.
  • Banished priests may return to La Vendée but only their patrimonial estates will be returned to them.
  • La Vendée will have no district or municipal representatives. It may have a national agent in each French province.
  • No requisition will be made of La Vendée for 5 years.

Sat 5th Sept 1795

Vernier has assessed the costs of the last French campaign in the Pay Bas and on the Rhine at 3 billion livres in assignats.

Sat 5th Sept 1795

Barrere, Billaud and Collot have been banished to Guyana. On their way to the ship Billaud and Collot were intimidated at Orleans. People ignored the strong military escort and threw stones and insults. Barrere continually ridiculed the National Convention but the other two were quiet and sad.

Sat 5th Sept 1795

Paris papers – The peace treaty with Prussia was announced in the National Convention on 10th April. It is dated 5th April at Basel and contains twelve clauses. The Deputies say they have removed the theatre of war from Northern Germany and substituted a commercial treaty. The actions of Prussia are closely followed by most of the German states. She will be a useful French ally.

This agreement is mainly due to the diligent efforts of Francois Barthelemy, the French representative in Switzerland, with the Prussian negotiator Karl August Hardenberg.

Barthelemy is also finalising treaties of peace with other French enemies, in spite of the disruptive tactics of the emissaries of England and Austria.

The main clauses in the Prussian agreement are:

  • Peace is declared between Prussia, Brandenburg, etc., and France.
  • Neither shall furnish men or warlike stores to the enemies of the other.
  • Neither will allow hostile troops through their lands.
  • France will evacuate the east bank of the Rhine (the complete line of the frontier is identified in the treaty). French requisitions in the evacuated area are void and contributions formerly paid to the Republic will be reimbursed.
  • France will continue to occupy the west bank until a final pacification of Europe.
  • A treaty of commerce addressing the former trade links between the countries will be concluded soon.
  • All sequestrations by one or the other party will be restored.
  • All prisoners of war will be exchanged.
  • The Hessians and Saxons taken at Mayence will also be exchanged.

The full text of Articles 1 and 2 of the treaty is in 12th September edition.

Sat 12th Sept 1795

Extract from a letter to the Editor of Bombay Courier:

Sir, The Duke of York has circulated Colonels of H M’s regiments enquiring how many captains they have under 12 years of age and how many Lt Colonels under 18 yrs of age.

It is not a confusion of age with years of service, there really are child officers on the British army establishment.

It reveals the venal effects of patronage on the King’s army. Veteran officers cannot afford to buy rank whilst these sons of nobles can.[93]

Sat 19th Sept 1795

Captain Home Popham, late of the Company’s service in India, has spent the winter on Norderley, a sand bank in the North Sea off the Ems estuary, which the British are holding whilst they evacuate the remnants of their army.

Popham is daily breaking the ice to permit communications with Great Yarmouth by sea. Five ships have been dispatched via this route up to May this year. Sir Robert Laurie, Sir Charles Asgill and many other officers have been saved by Popham’s work. Popham has parlayed their laudatory comments for a frigate command in the Mediterranean.[94]

Sat 19th Sept 1795

London, 15th May – Dundas has spoken in the Commons about the India Company’s shipping. He told MPs that the British-built ships chartered to the Company for India trade had necessarily been surrendered to British government use.

Some alternative transport is necessary for Indian trade. The House resolved itself into a committee and decided to permit non-British-built ships to carry the India and China trade.[95]

Sat 19th Sept 1795

National Convention, 24th March – Bezard, the representative sent to the Loire, has reported on activities in the west of France. The area of land occupied by people supporting the monarchy of Louis XVII, the imprisoned son of the executed King, has shrunk.

Bezard says General Stofflet, the Royalist leader, will soon be defeated. The Deputies note they have counselled the people of La Vendée and a majority has returned to French rule. For General Stofflet, France may have to use bayonets. Bezard continues:

We have settled the disturbances in the area between the Loire and the Layon and agriculture is resumed by the farmers there. On 23rd March we captured Chalonne and crossed the river on a bridge of boats into the enemy’s territory. We now control both ends of the old bridge that the Royalists destroyed and are repairing it. We pursued the enemy force to the hilltops and forced an amnesty upon them. The entire area is devastated. We found a saltpetre manufactory which we destroyed. The Royalists gathered 600 – 700 men and some cavalry and attacked us. We drove them off and continued to Mont Glonne which we attacked. The garrison ran away and, as it is a strategic acquisition (sited on a hilltop overlooking the river), Bezard declared a day of festivities.

Sat 19th Sept 1795

Rovere of CPS told the National Convention that the external and internal enemies of France are connected. One of the principal Royalist conspirators in Brittany whom we amnestied has explained the émigré arrangement with the British. He says the English plan was to invade the coast of Brittany whilst the insurgents in France concurrently attacked the commercial and political leadership. Some Deputies were to be assassinated.

The plot was to be activated by the Commissioners for Food telling the CPS that on 20th April a distribution of 1½ lbs of bread was to be made to every Parisian. In fact the Commissioners did not have this much bread and their failure to meet this published promise was expected to incite violence.

Cretin, one of the chiefs of this 1st April conspiracy, was confined in the prison of Plessis. The warders discovered a message smuggled to Cretin in a pound of Swiss cheese. It said when he received an egg with the shell coloured half white, half red, it was the signal for the prisoners to be freed. Some octangular cards were found with the words ‘vive la montagne’.

Other conspirators were Perrein, an ex-commissioner of Lyon, an engineer named Chevalier and the quarter-master of the gendarmerie. Montaut, Cambon and Thuriot were to attend the prison, dressed as Deputies, and release the conspirators who would then attack the armouries and use those armaments to invest the National Convention. They then intended to declare the Republican Constitution and re-arrest the 73 deputies who were recently restored to their seats. They wished to banish Tallien, Freron, Rouvere, Barras, Dubois Crance, Legendre and others and to restore those deputies who had been gaoled or banished.

The National Convention decreed unanimously that Thuriot, Chambon, Ruamps, Hentz, Maignet, Levasseur de la Sorthe and Moyse Bayle should attend the legislature within 24 hours and explain themselves, failing which they will be banished. It ordered the Revolutionary Tribunal to continue sitting until it had judged the case against Fouquier Tinville, the former prosecutor, and his accomplices (sources of this information). It ordered the arrest of Maribaut.

(The following day CPS said three deputies had reported for questioning but a fourth, Vadier, had absconded.)

Sat 19th Sept 1795

The National Convention received a letter from Nantes reporting the insurgency in the west has ended. La Vendée has returned to the Republic. General Charette and his colleagues have declared they will submit to French law.

General Stofflet, commander of the Royalist army of Anjou, has not yet responded to our pacific decree but eight of his principal chiefs have joined us leaving Stofflet with just a few hundred troops from the German and Rosenthal legions.

We also report that two of the chiefs of the Chouans have submitted and have agreed to lobby the rest to subscribe to the declaration of Charette. The ceasefire is holding.

Sgd P P Delauney, Rommè, Brue, Chaillon, Bollet, Ruelle, Mennou, Gary, Dornter and Mobisson.

Since receiving this letter we have heard that 400 Chouans have laid down their arms at Angers to the national representative Bezard.

Sat 19th Sept 1795

Merlin de Thionville reminded the assembly that four legislators had been arrested by Dumouriez and remained hostages of the coalition of Kings. A fifth was injured and gaoled in Austria.

“I move that the CPS take steps for their recovery.” Merlin de Douai told the National Convention that measures were already under way.

Sat 26th Sept 1795

On 15th March the National Convention heard a report on food supply:

The greatest obstacle to our authority is the scarcity of provisions, or even the fear of scarcity. We know what our resources are and what we want to do with them. France has been obliged to supply herself. Our maritime trade has been cut-off by the English. The liberty of commerce is denied to us and we have suddenly been thrown entirely upon our own resources.

Our repudiation of Terror has necessarily made our administration less powerful than a despotism. Under Terror our commerce was destroyed and speculators were executed. The government operated from day to day. It was perfidious and improvident. The genius of merchants might have supplied our needs but they became fearful and lost confidence.

2.6 million quintals of grain (five week’s national supply) was imported by the old Jacobin government in the 19 months of its existence. It gave commissions in the various supplying countries but their effects were variable. No doubt the very cold winter and reduced farm yields has contributed to our difficulty but this present government is yet to receive anything from those countries. Our own national commerce is beginning to revive. I have letters here that suggest supplies are about to arrive in the south of France. In the north we can requisition the resources of the conquered lands to provision our armies and need no longer send food to them from France.

Mutual aid is the first of republican virtues. Paris must ration itself to minimise the imposition on the provinces. We should restrict ourselves to necessaries until the economy recovers. We renounce superfluous supplies in order that Frenchmen everywhere may have their necessaries.

Paris is consuming 2,000 sacks of flour (8,000 quintals of grain) daily. A few years ago and for all of recent history the grain consumption of Paris was 1,500 sacks. A few days ago we tried to supply only 1,800 sacks but it was not equally distributed and the reduction fell disproportionately on some districts causing complaints. I believe we should determine a precise allowance of bread for each citizen and it should be available to them whether they go to the bakery early or late. This will enable us to ration the supply. We fix the supply at 1,600 sacks. This permits every working Parisian to have 1½ lbs of bread a day and everyone else to have 1 lb a day. Here are letters from Genoa on provisions:

Letter from Genoa, 3rd March:

The violent measures against Genoa are producing results. A shipment of grain has arrived at Toulon from Leghorn for the account of the Genoan merchants who are supplying us. Several of the Marseilles merchants specialise solely on provisions and thirty grain vessels are en route there. The encouragement we have given to commerce is bearing fruit but it is still depressed and needs nurturing. We have issued many passports to traders to visit the Levant and buy provisions for the nation. We expect the supplies to approach normal within a month.

Sgd P J Ritte and J Mazitte, Popular Representatives.

Villers, the French minister at Genoa, has also written:

The Genoan merchants are getting cash for their business with us. Their confidence has returned. In the last ten days we have received 13,100 sacks of wheat and 6,000 of barley for France. It is almost half the total Genoan imports of these grains.

Citizen Gaston said the shortage in Paris is temporary and primarily due to the amnesty to émigrés who returned in droves and inflated the population by 30,000. Some of these people still harbour a wish for Royalty and the resumption of their old comfortable ways.

Mathieu contrarily said there were less than 10,000 émigrés in Paris and, if any of them were counter-revolutionaries, we might rely on the vigilance of the CPS to warn us.

Sat 3rd Oct 1795

London news – William Eden (Baron Auckland, late British ambassador to the Netherlands) has been to Dieppe and conferred with a French Commissioner on a prisoner exchange. The Commissioner invited Eden to accompany him to Paris to report but he preferred for the Frenchman to go alone. A few days later the Commissioner returned to Dieppe.

He said he was instructed to frustrate the rumour that the French government did not negotiate with representatives of a monarchy. He averred that France would talk with any country. He could not consent to an exchange of sailors but he agreed to release British naval officers to Eden on his promise to restore an equivalent number of French officers.

Sat 3rd Oct 1795

Letter from Brest, 14th May – The French fleet at Brest is inactive. Many of the sailors have gone on leave and the dockyard workmen have been discharged. An order has arrived from Paris to disarm six ships-of-the-line and four frigates. It is supposed the cannon will be sent to the army. This was an unexpected order and many people speculate on its intention.

Sat 3rd Oct 1795

National Convention, 27th May:

Representatives Brunel and Niou went ashore at Toulon on 17th May and were caught by some Jacobins. They were forced to write an order which the Jacobins used to obtain access to and possession of Fort Lamalgen. Brunel and Niou were then killed. The Jacobin prisoners in the fort were released and the armoury was ransacked. The Jacobins have since disarmed officials of the Commune of Solies and carried off 11 residents and a priest. They say seven of the men released from the fort were émigrés who are now wearing cockades in their hats inscribed ‘long live Louis XVII’.

A letter from Marseilles dated 19th May:

The Jacobins have placed cannon at all the entrances to the town. The representative Charbonnier, whom the National Convention permitted to visit Toulon for his health, is a leader of the revolution. He has men active in both Marseilles and Toulon. At Toulon they say they will defend the Constitution of 1793 and have sent emissaries to the surrounding communes to encourage them to join-in. It is expected they will endeavour to prevent the French fleet leaving port or deliver it to the English who continue to cruise outside. It appears quite likely that the motivational force for this rebellion comes from London.

Recent advices say the rebels are politicising the Toulon garrison; the fleet is in the inner roads and exposed to land-based attack; our representative and colleague Chiappe is their prisoner. A citizen of Toulon, who escaped last night, says the Jacobins now number 8,000 men and their attempts to subvert the garrison have been repudiated by the soldiers. Latest news is that the fleet has shifted to the outer roads beyond the guns of the port and that Chiappe has escaped. Our armed forces around Marseilles are moving on Toulon and a speedy reduction will ensue.

The National Convention then voted to arrest Charbonnier and 18 other members and have them tried by Courts Martial.

Sat 3rd Oct 1795

The expected food riots in Paris commenced on 21st May 1795. The rioters blame the present government. A group of women came into the National Convention and disrupted the session. Violence appeared likely and General Fox was given command of an armed force to protect the legislators. By evening the National Convention was surrounded by a hostile mob. Then the Gendarmerie Nationale and some veterans burst in, swords drawn, bayonets fixed, and restored order. A few of the popular ringleaders were brought to the centre of the floor.

The crowd outside became aware of the turn of events and thrust itself into the building. Someone fired a gun and anarchy followed. Some legislators were killed and beheaded. The President of the National Convention was presented with a petition “Bread and the Constitution of 1793”. It was read to loud applause. The deputies were then required to order the release of all prisoners confined for their political beliefs together with those deputies confined recently. Searching peoples’ homes for provisions was authorised. The CPS membership was ordered arrested and replaced.

Then the National Convention’s supporters materialised. Another group of armed citizens entered the Chamber crying ‘long live the Convention’. The first group of rioters were thrown out or arrested. Bourdon de l’Oise reminded everyone that a decree obtained by violence was invalid.

On 20th May Ferret presented the popular requests:

It is unjust to starve us and imprison those who protest. We demand bread; the abolition of the revolutionary government; the introduction of the 1793 Constitution; the arrest and replacement of all government officers; the liberation of people whose offence was to demand bread, etc. This is the popular will. You are supposed to be a popular government. Submit to our demands.

The deputies swore to die at their posts before they relinquished power. Clauset said the riot was premeditated and most likely the work of the Royalists, etc. Bourdon de l’Oise thought the riots were timed to coincide with the peace negotiations France is making with Prussia and Austria. The riots are supposed to evidence that the National Convention is unpopular and that France remains in anarchy and cannot negotiate reliably. He requested the patience of the people for a few days or weeks more. The revolution has taken five years and is nearly complete.

Merlin de Douai noted the riot commenced the same day that the national representative was sent off to Basel with authority to make peace. He had completed that duty on 26th April. He recalled that when Prussia made peace, the English gave notice to the Diet of Ratisbon (Regensburg) that the fomentation of the French people was just then approaching a crisis and peace treaties were entirely inappropriate.

Sat 10th Oct 1795

Courier du Bas Rhin newspaper has a detailed report on the insurrection at Paris on 20th May 1795:

At 8 am the citizens in the suburbs were called to arms and the artillerymen to their guns. The conspiracy of the Fauxbourgs against the National Convention was based on shortage of bread. Anguis warned the Deputies it was to occur. Bourdon de l’Oise and Merlin de Douai called the people to remain calm.

Deputy Andre Dumont arrived from Versailles and said that couriers had arrived at the four communes of the Department of Seine and Oise saying the intention was to proclaim Louis XVII.

Laporte proposed that a decree be issued linking those communes with the insurrection; adverting to its rebellious nature and calling on all citizens to attend their Sections.

Mathieu suggested the wording of a Proclamation to the Parisians and nine Deputies were selected to attend the communes and read it.

Then the doors burst open and a group of women entered the chamber. They were offered sympathy but told bread was not obtainable by violence. Louvet made a moving address against Royalty and Terrorism and received a standing ovation. The rabble became more active and the President appointed Citizen Fox as the army commandant of Paris with authority to oppose force with force. Fox collected a strong detachment of Veterans and Gendarmes armed with swords, sabres and bayonets and the crowd was ejected from the Chamber. Six ring-leaders were caught and brought before the Tribune to explain themselves. The pockets of one contained bread.

The ejected agitators spread a rumour that the women who had first broken into the Chamber had been executed. Delmas was appointed to command the armed force of Paris and restore tranquillity. Dussault commended the foreign ministers (American, Genoan, etc) who remained calmly in their box throughout the disturbance. Then the rabble returned and broke in. One wore a hat with a writing on it “bread and the 1793 Constitution”. He was attacked and killed. Eventually the people overran the Deputies and a man in artillery uniform mounted the tribune and delivered a speech:

“We cannot eat promises. We resolve to dissolve the revolutionary government and adopt the 1793 Constitution. The present government is suspended and its members arrested. Citizens arrested for demanding bread must be instantly released. The Primary Assemblies must be convened to elect new legislators. The telegraph must be seized (to prevent the National Convention calling the armies back) but other property is to be secured.”

The rioters looked to the Deputies for instant acceptance. About 100 remained in the Chamber. To press the point, the head of Deputy Feraud was brought in and thrown upon the President’s desk. Romme proposed the requests of the rioters be voted upon which was agreed. These were:

  • suppression of the Revolutionary Government,
  • Arrest of all the members of the Committees of government,
  • Their substitution by Prieur de la Marne, Bouchotte, Fayou and another,
  • Release of prisoners.
  • Release of Duhem specifically (imprisoned at Ham),
  • Recall of Barrere, Collot and Billaud,
  • an end to house searches and the closing of the barriers and
  • the end of the death penalty except for newspaper editors publishing treason.

The National Convention was able to raise an armed force from the citizens of anti-Jacobin Sections – Moulins and Piques – and Legendre marched them into the Chamber. They made three assaults on the mob and once Legendre had fought his way to the centre of the Hall he called in the name of the Law on all citizens to retire.

The debate was then resumed. Romme’s motion was approved. 14 Deputies who appeared to have encouraged the riot, were arrested. It was agreed that the Deputies would wear their robes of office at future sittings and may carry arms.

Next morning the National Convention enacted that all wheat in Paris was to be ground to flour and distributed. Any concealed supplies were to be confiscated and 25% of it to be given to the informer.

It was reported that the Commune of Paris had created a National Assembly from amongst its members and has sent representatives into the Sections to politicise them. This commune seeks to assume the government of France. Doulcet informed the Deputies that a courier had been sent to Basel to confirm to the peace negotiators that the National Convention was still seized of the government.

When, on 26th May, the people of Rouen heard of the attempts of some Parisians to overturn the government, they imprisoned the Jacobins of their town and raised 24,000 men to march to the support of Paris. Caen offered 15,000 men and another Commune 10,000 and it appeared at one point that Paris would be flooded by a Citizen’s Army of at least 300,000 ardent volunteers. They were stopped by a despatch of the National Convention reporting it retained power.

Sat 10th Oct 1795

Citizen Barthelemy, French minister to Switzerland, has received a letter from the CPS dated 21st May advising him that the second attempt to overthrow the government had been made and had also failed. The mob assembled under the cry ‘Bread and the 1793 Constitution’ and displayed Jacobin principles. Citizen Feraud, a national representative who had just returned from the Army of the Rhine, was beheaded. The people we amnestied last time, were again behind the riots.

The mob was ejected from the Chamber and those Deputies who had encouraged insurrection were arrested. The remarkable thing is that no demand to restore monarchy was made. We will soon announce a strong Constitution to dissuade citizens from violence.

Sat 10th Oct 1795

Journal Generale, 2nd June:

Collot, Billaud and Barrere were first banished. Then government recognised their implacability and ordered their execution. Collet and Billaud had already sailed into exile but Barrere was still within reach and is to be executed.

From Marseilles we hear a part of the Toulon fleet has joined the insurgency but is restricted by the Brest fleet which remains loyal. Government forces have reoccupied Fort Lamalgue and the Toulon insurgents have difficulty to escape either by land or sea. In Marseilles many Jacobins have been killed in the streets. It has also occurred at Lyon and elsewhere. The Marseillais have marched for Toulon. Before they left they demanded the execution of all dissidents in the prison but Deputy Chambon succeeded in diverting them.

Sat 10th Oct 1795

The Abbe Sieyès has returned from his mission to Holland:

The brave Dutch people have sworn to unite with us in a treaty of offence and defence against our enemies. Dutch military and naval power will augment our own. The Thames will inevitably lose importance as the Scheldt gains it and London will envy the rising fortunes of Bruges and Ostend. The port of Flushing is open to both our nations. By holding the town of Sluys and the Flanders ports we eclipse English maritime pre-eminence and restore liberty to trade.

Once the Dutch States-General recognised our liberal principles, they agreed the treaty terms quickly and the State Assembly of Holland ratified the agreement within three hours. We can expect the other states to act similarly. Here are the terms agreed at the Hague 16th May:

  • France recognises the Netherlands as an independent power.
  • She guarantees Dutch liberty and independence.
  • The Stadtholderate is abolished.
  • Peace and amity will characterise the relationship.
  • We unite for mutual offence and defence to the end of the war.
  • We agree to oppose England wherever we find her and neither one of us will agree peace with England without the concurrence of the other.
  • France will not make peace with any enemy without including the Dutch.
  • The Dutch contribution to the war with England is 12 capital ships and 18 frigates, primarily for the North and Baltic Seas.
  • The Dutch also provide half their establishment of land forces.
  • The combined armies and navies will be commanded by a Frenchman.
  • To concert operations a member of the Dutch Assembly will have a seat in the Committee of Marine in Paris.
  • France surrenders to the Dutch all the lands taken in United Provinces together with the control of the Dutch marine and military, and the stores thereof.
  • France maintains a claim for indemnity in respect of the ceded towns.
  • A French garrison will at all times occupy Flushing which town will belong to both nations.
  • To deter hostilities from the Rhine or the sea, France will garrison Boise le Duc, Grave and Bergen op Zoom.[96]
  • Once a general peace is obtained, France will surrender lands to create an appropriate frontier between the countries.
  • France will continue to garrison the frontier forts for its own defence.
  • The navigation of the Rhine, Meuse, Scheldt and Hond is free to French and Dutch shipping.
  • The immoveable property of the House of Orange is transferred to the ownership of the Dutch state.
  • The Netherlands will pay France 100 million Florins in specie or good Bills. France will assist the Dutch to recover outstanding debts from those countries it has influence with.
  • The Dutch undertake not to give asylum to émigrés and France undertakes not to give asylum to members of the House of Orange.

Sat 10th Oct 1795

Frankfurt, 26th May – the papers here say Count Carletti, minister of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, is coming to Paris to negotiate peace on behalf of Austria. Vienna denies it and says its minister at the Diet of Ratisbon has already repudiated it – the Emperor is determined to pursue the cause of religion and monarchy, they say.

Sat 10th Oct 1795

Cambaceres has reported to National Convention on 3rd March 1795 on the powers granted to CPS to negotiate with foreign nations:

The time has arrived when we must clarify the duties of our negotiators. The CPS is empowered to direct domestic initiatives. We now need to make similar arrangements for our foreign relations. Our revolution has impelled Europe towards liberty, freedom and the prospects of scientific advancement. It is our internal peace, progress and happiness that will convince the neighbours to emulate us more fully.

It is the capricious use of war to promote private interests that best evidences the tyranny of European monarchies. Kings are perverse and unjust. They expend the blood of their people for their own advantage. Their people would chose to fight only in a just cause. The people despatch their enemies, overthrow their projects and confound their ambitions. It is the people who, having conquered their enemies, give that most flattering glory of peace to the World. The French Republic wishes the World to be at peace. But there are still governments that have not repented; whose defeats and losses have not yet convinced them to compromise. Their pride forces them to ruin. They eschew justice and equity.

England aspires to dominate the seas. Austria and Russia aspire to rule Europe. Those two land powers have been frustrated in the south and now attempt their plots in the north. Their purpose is to bring us down so the pristine alternative of democracy is removed from the view of their peoples and destroyed. They will no doubt seek to steal our wealth and to describe their theft as indemnity.

The other small states of Europe are either seduced by subsidies or terrorised by violence. They sway this way and that in accordance with their imagined self-interest. Neutrality is not enough. In any event the Kings do not permit it. They say ‘you are either with us or against us’.[97] France offers the only alternative – an end to war and a beginning of the fuller exploitation of our human abilities.

We need to take the opportunity given by our military victories to explain our principles to Europe and collect amenable governments to our banner. Our inveterate enemies are depressed but haughty, weakened but enraged. No enduring treaty can yet be made with them. France is one, they are many – we should make it our policy to divide them.

Their individual national policies are all mutually contradictory and no firm peace can be founded on them. The way to bring them to a compromising frame of mind is to mobilise their populations to uphold justice. France does not seek for commercial advantages or new territory. We have asserted the right of the people to control their government. We really have to assert our power to protect the rights we have won. France upholds the right of nations to self-determination, to freedom of navigation and commerce. That is what we offer Europe.

The natural frontiers of France are the Alps and Pyrenees, the seas and our ancient free ally in the northwest. It is in the north that Austria has repeatedly caused trouble in Lorraine, that England has repeatedly sought to control Dunkirk and hinder the navigation of the Scheldt. A great number of French rivers flow to the sea through the Low Countries. These are the natural routes to carry French produce to international markets. The design of nature predicates the frontiers of France. We must make it lucidly clear to the neighbours that the delineation of our frontiers is not part of a land-grab but an attempt to procure future peace. We are not ambitious for territory. Our neighbours, governed by monarchies and aristocratic senates, desire land because more land = more people = more production = more revenue. We, on the other hand, have chosen independence and we must fight to maintain it.

These are the thoughts of the CPS, concerning our international relations, on which we invite your debate.

There is a difference between a negotiation undertaken by a representative deputed by the National Convention and a representation of a cabinet which addresses the Sovereign’s will. France needs Rules of Confidence to delegate to its negotiators so they may treat with other nations on equal powers.

The message was debated and it was ultimately decreed that:

The CPS has the direction of foreign relations. It will make treaties of peace, alliance, neutrality and commerce. They may be signed by members of CPS, if they have negotiated direct with foreign envoys, or by Plenipotentiaries specifically delegated by the National Convention for the purpose. Preliminary treaties (armistices, ceasefires, etc) do not require this ratification but no permanent treaty is valid until ratified by National Convention. In those cases in which foreign powers require some clauses to be kept secret, we will appoint a Committee of Twelve to inspect and verify the appropriateness of their requirement. The Committee will formally declare to the National Convention that the term(s) conforms with our national interest and that it is appropriate to maintain secrecy.

Sat 17th Oct 1795

Constantinople, 30th April – grain shipments are arriving. The Porte is trying to get flour prices reduced.[98]

The Koran interdicts the study of Western civilisation by Muslims. The Porte however wishes to bring his people into a closer connection with Europe. He is opening language schools, military schools and common academic schools. He has ordered the formation of a new militia with new uniforms and the soldiers will not be permitted beards. Bearded soldiers look more warlike to us but the Janissaries are irritated as they can see this initiative presages their political decline.

This is precisely the Porte’s intention. He believes the Turks will be more inclined to follow him and the law, rather than continue the old ways. He presents the changes he is making (in military, marine and scientific areas) as progressive. He says they diminish the danger from neighbours and increase the wealth of the people. The Porte has also subscribed to exchange ambassadors with European powers. His Envoy Extraordinary at London is about to become an Ambassador. He proposes to send others to Vienna, St Petersburg, Berlin and Madrid. He proposes to abolish the ancient practice of ‘daim’ (receipt of gifts from foreign dignitaries) and this will relieve the European Courts of that expense.

Citizen Vernignac, the French ambassador to replace Descorches at Constantinople, is daily expected.

Sat 17th Oct 1795

National Convention, 22nd May:

Dubois Crance says France spends 40 million livres per day of which two thirds is on food. We cannot afford to continue doing that. He proposed a tax on produce.

Trielbard said the National Convention had substituted justice and humanity for the previous Terror and blood and the people had responded with their support.

Today a new treaty with Prussia is reported. The old treaty contained a secret clause at Article 7 whereby the field of war was removed from northern Germany. This secret clause permits the inference that the Austrian Emperor will withdraw his troops from that area.

The Elector of Saxony with the Landgraves of Hesse-Cassel and Hesse-Darmstadt, have already withdrawn their troops

Bombay Courier Editor – these three Austrian states have not withdrawn their troops.

The Hanoverian troops in Bremen and Hamburg have been withdrawn. France is permitted by Prussia to cross the Rhine to attack the Emperor. The purpose of this secret term is to contain Austria. This is our fixed national policy – to unite the sword in one hand with the olive branch in the other. The treaty with Prussia achieves this.

Sat 17th Oct 1795

Amsterdam, 1st June – The popular representatives Ramel and Cochin have stopped the sale of goods from Russian and Portuguese ships in Dutch ports which are henceforth embargoed. The Netherlands has assembled a squadron of 35 warships (of which ten are capital ships).

Tues 27th Oct 1795 – Extraordinary

The young Dauphin died of ‘a scrofulous distemper’ in prison at the Temple on 10th June. He first had a swelling of the right knee and left wrist. It is a form of consumption which retarded his intellectual abilities. He became feverish and eventually died. He was called Louis XVII by the Royalists.

The declining cause of the French Royalists has been invigorated by his death as the brother of Louis XVI is now proclaimed King Louis XVIII of France by the émigrés. The Prince of Condé, the leader of the Royalist forces in all the European countries, has so proclaimed the new King. Poitou and Brittany are again in arms. 8,000 émigrés have descended on Quiberon Bay and their successes have been adequate to convince Pitt to project another invasion of France under Lord Moira.

The National Convention has increased tranquillity but it is not completely established. They are drafting a new Republican Constitution. Thomas Paine is advising. The food shortages have abated but the complaint of stock-jobbing has again arisen. These financial speculators have concerted their purchases and sales to depress the value of assignats.

A letter from Basra to a merchant in Bombay says Spain has made peace with France. It is probable but we have no corroboration. We hear that whilst negotiations were continuing, the French occupied Bilbao.

They have also taken the Fort of Luxembourg on 7th June, according to a report of Cambaceres to the National Convention. The huge number of cannons within Luxembourg now pass to France. The garrison was not permitted to use covered wagons to remove their supplies as the French had intelligence from the Dutch that the abbeys and convents of the Netherlands had long before sent their gold and silver to Luxembourg for safe-keeping – the French intend to confiscate it if they can find it.

In Italy the French army has been defeated by the Austrians.

Tues 27th Oct 1795 – Extraordinary

Letter from George Baldwin, British Consul at Alexandria, to Robert Abbot, Resident at Aleppo, dated 10th August 1795:

  • The captain of a Venetian ship, who has just brought out a cargo from Marseilles (comprising the valuables of the executed Royalists of that place which are being noisily hawked through the streets of Alexandria), tells me a force of 2,000 British troops and 5,000 émigrés has landed in Brittany to effect a junction with the dissidents in La Vendée. The huge numbers of Royalists in the Channel Islands have been alerted and are mobilising opinion. Support for their cause is increasing in Normandy and Brittany, he says.
  • Another earlier letter notes Genoa is invested by 5,000 Austrian troops and a heavy indemnity is demanded. Once the allies have denied France this great source of provisions, the chance of famine and civil war in France should improve.

Tues 27th Oct 1795 – Extraordinary

Admiral Bridport has engaged a French fleet of 12 capital ships and 11 frigates off L’Orient. He took three ships-of-the-line and lost none. George III is delighted. It is the only good news Pitt has to put in the King’s Address to the two Houses.

Tues 27th Oct 1795 – Extraordinary

Paris Editorial, April 1795 – Never since the beginning of the Revolution have we had such a good opportunity to establish liberty upon principles of reason. For the first time in five years a preponderance of the people support government. How does government respond? It says it will draft a new Constitution.

In a nation the government is everything. One can well conceive of an Empire without a Constitution but not without a government. Governments change in form and principle as regularly as circumstances require.

The Constitution of Lycurgus lasted 500 years but the Lacadaemonians changed their government repeatedly throughout that time; the Constitution of Numa was respected at Rome, even by the Emperors, but did not prevent the government from changing. It was the same with the Athenians under the laws of Solon. Even today what resemblance is there between the English Magna Charta and the English government; between the Koran and the Porte, between the Golden Bull and the German states, between Salic law and pre-Revolutionary France? The pristine Americans are not immune – they have already derogated from their Constitution.[99]

History reveals that Constitutions are illusions and it is government alone that protects prosperity. We should attend to the perfection of government. The Jacobins understood this. They never requested for a government that might suppress their violence. They want the 1793 Constitution which they will use, as the Crusaders used the Gospels, to renew all the crime of yesteryear.

We want a part of the assignats withdrawn from circulation. The removal of Cambon from the Committee of Finance should accelerate this process. Necessaries have become too expensive for the bulk of the people – butter is 8 livres a pound, potatoes 20 livres a bushel, beans are 50 sous the peck, a suckling pig costs 50 crowns, coal 50 livres the sack and wood, although it is April, is still 400-500 livres a cord. The pastry cooks of Paris want 6 livres for an indifferent cake. An assignat of 50 livres will buy only moderate fare in a restaurant. Gold and silver goods are similarly advanced. Cloth, linen and leather are all too expensive but the main national problem concerns provisions.

Tues 27th Oct 1795 – Extraordinary

National Convention, 27th May – the Jacobins at Toulon have rebelled. They occupied the port and the arsenal. They killed 600 people associated with the Revolutionary government. The Marseillais formed themselves into an army and marched against Toulon. The Jacobins surrendered the gates of Toulon to the Marseillais and retired within the arsenal where they were subdued and killed. 4,000 of them have since been executed.

Tues 27th Oct 1795 – Extraordinary

Brest, 17th May – 260 ships from Bordeaux, Nantes and Rochefort have delivered provisions here for the Republican armies – 8,000 quintals of grain, 3,000 quintals of flour and 15,000 barrels of wine. There is also 50,000 hogsheads of wine for private consumption and some brandy, etc. Nevertheless, the costs of provisions remains high – a loaf of bread sells at 3 paper livres, wine is 6 livres per bottle and other items in proportion.

Tues 27th Oct 1795 – Extraordinary

The elections of officials in the towns and provinces of the Netherlands is done differently everywhere. In some cases they can hardly be called popular representatives.

Amsterdam has just provided an example of how to do it. They have united the responsibility of the franchise with the need to exclude gangs, conspiracies, corruption and violence from the process.

Popular elections require this responsibility.

In Amsterdam all the citizens chose 60 electors. This selection is reduced by a ‘lucky dip’ to twenty. These twenty agree the nomination of 120 representatives. The citizens then vote again for 60 of these 120 representatives who constitute the Assembly. Everyone seems to be satisfied.

Tues 27th Oct 1795 – Extraordinary

The Hague, 24th May:

  • A secret treaty of alliance between Russia and England has been made. The Dutch envoy at Vienna, van Haasten, discovered it – the extent of treasonable activity in that City defies belief. Everybody’s secrets are on sale.
    Russia promises 12 capital ships and 6 frigates for the Baltic. This explains the Swedish and Danish re-armament of their fleets for the protection of their neutral trade.
    The Russian envoy at the Hague, Nowikoff, has been recalled, presumably concerning the Dutch embargo on Russian trade.
  • An English squadron is off the Dutch coast. It has blockaded the Texel and some other ports

Tues 27th Oct 1795 – Extraordinary

Brussels, 13th May – The French have occupied Ostend and Nieuport. The docks are being enlarged and they are adding considerable fortifications. 10,000 Dutch workers are employed on the improvements.

Tues 27th Oct 1795 – Extraordinary

Constantinople, 9th May:

  • On 4th May the Porte nominated his Ambassadors for Vienna and Berlin. They are Ibrahim Bey and Ali Effendi respectively. They will each be paid 50,000 piastres a year for their maintenance.
  • The French ambassador to Constantinople, Vernignac, has told the Porte of the treaty between France and Prussia because he hopes it will secure his recognition. To date the Porte has said he will recognise the French Republic only after some monarchical European state does. Until then Vernignac remains in the French Hotel. His predecessor Descorches removed most traces of monarchy from the Hotel but left the superb statue of Louis XV in the foyer. Vernignac has removed the Royal ornaments, defaced the inscription and damaged the statue so it no longer resembles anyone.
  • On 6th May the dragoman Gallimachi was made Prince of Moldavia. (NB – dragomans were interpreters acting under the Reis Efendi who himself acted as Foreign Minister to the Vizier)
  • The Janissaries and the Topzies have been reconciled by the Porte at the considerable expense of bribing the former. The emperor has had to promise them he will not reform their Corps. The dispute between these groups has caused many deaths and government was fearful of intervening.
  • The Turks are still suffering shortages. The grain supply from Alexandria is insufficient whilst most of the grain from Syria is intercepted by Maltese pirates and carried to Christian ports where it obtains a higher price.

Sat 31st Oct 1795

London Editorial – there really does seem a chance for peace:

  • Firstly, the Prussian example has influenced the German states in the Austrian Empire. This has caused the Austrian Emperor, after the Diet of Ratisbon, to open negotiations for peace on their behalf whilst, as King of Hungary and Bohemia, he continues to make war as a British ally.
  • Secondly, the devastation of Poland, the Palatinate and elsewhere has reduced Europe’s ability to feed itself.
  • Thirdly, should France adopt the new draft of the Constitution, it will remove the excuse of the war-hawk Kings that they cannot negotiate with an anarchical government.

The émigré French Royalist priests and nobles are opposed to peace at any price but they are the only major obstacle.

The new Constitution was presented to the National Convention on 23rd June. It will take weeks to ratify. It starts with a declaration of the Rights of Man and generally differs little from the 1793 Constitution except that the right to rebel is limited. It requires the legislature be divided into two Chambers. The junior Chamber is for 500 Deputies over 30 years of age and makes law; the senior Chamber is for 250 men over 40 years and ratifies (or not) the enactments of the junior Chamber. Half the membership of both chambers is replaced every year by elections held in the Primary Assemblies.

The legislators elect five Directors of whom one retires annually. They are based in the Tuilleries (the National Palace) protected by their own guard of 300 men and another guard of 1,800 men provided by the Departments. They wear distinctive clothes.

Candidates for the Chambers or Directory must own property. Once they have served two terms they must then stand down for two years. Citizenship is confined to those over 21 years who make some regular financial payment to the State or have served in the army in the present war.

Citizens must know how to read and write and understand mechanics.

Sat 7th Nov 1795

M Bocqueret, the Governor of Belle Ile (dominating Quiberon Bay and therefore an attractive staging post for British naval support to the Royalists in Brittany), is blockaded by an English squadron. Capt Ellison of HMS Standard issued an invitation to the Belle Ile Governor on 26th June:

We defeated the French Brest fleet on 23rd June and have given powerful support to the Royalists in Brittany by landing an army composed entirely of French émigrés. The French fleet is trapped in L’Orient and cannot escape. You have no relief to hope for. Your supplies are cut off by me and your provisions are exhausted. I do not require your submission to England. I am not seeking for sovereignty of Belle Ile.

I only wish to land French troops and you will continue to be largely in control. I wish you to acknowledge Louis XVII as your King whereupon George III will be your ally and feed and protect you. All your expenses will be repaid. Consider the tragedy that is likely to overtake your island people if you refuse.

On my ship are two French commissaries deputed by the Royalist Army to treat with you for the welfare of your people. My Commander-in-Chief will surely ratify any agreement that is made. Your emissaries will be respected.

Bocqueret replied to the English officer who delivered the summons that he is an upholsterer and a Republican. He has 5,000 men in garrison. Perhaps the food will be exhausted (he is thought to have 3 weeks provisions) but he will fight as long as he can. The English messenger was well treated.

Sat 14th Nov 1795

London news:

  • A huge supply of grain arrived at London from Danzig and Konigsberg on 6th July.
  • The émigré army being assembled in England is now 30,000 strong.

Sat 14th Nov 1795

Copenhagen, 6th June – Several fires broke out yesterday. They have been burning for 1½ days. The Grand Magazine is destroyed (but the contents were removed). Old Holm, the Admiralty College and the Old Strand are destroyed. Hundreds of houses along the canal are burnt including those of the rich merchants. Today the Council House is on fire. The orphanage and the synagogue are burned. The House of the Lombards (House of Assistance) is saved. The damage is mostly confined to the old town. The loss runs to millions. The army and navy are mobilised to create fire breaks and restore calm. The hereditary Prince (of Hesse, Augustenberg and Wurtemberg) has gone to Sweden for discussions. Cause of the fire is uncertain but arson is a possibility.

Editor – extinguished 9th June. Loss $12 millions (£2½ millions). An investigation has been commenced.

Sat 14th Nov 1795

National Convention, 23rd June (from Journal de Frankfurt) – M/s Blaaw and Meyer (members of the States General) have been admitted to the National Convention as Ministers Plenipotentiary representing the Netherlands. The new blue/white/red flag of the Batavian Republic was raised. The Plenipotentiaries said:

We Dutch wished to join the destiny of France. The English have retained the valuable Dutch national property taken by the Stadtholder when he fled to that country but our fertile lands will soon replace it. France has now learned the secret of Dutch commercial success. The Dutch respect liberty and will die to protect it.

President Louvet replied for France:

Your ancestors were first to obtain liberty. To some extent we have emulated your former achievement and offer our gratitude for your example. Your rich cargoes have been stolen but that is to be expected of the Stadtholder and the English Minister. Always remember that on the banks of the Thames as well as the Scheldt there are people who applaud justice and humanity. The English people do not approve the Punic faith of their government but it is impossible to forecast what will happen.

The only certainty is that we will be allied for ever. We will together sail to the Thames and establish a new government that delivers the English people from their enslavement. France guarantees the Netherlands full liberty and independence.

Sat 14th Nov 1795

National Convention, 23rd June – Boissy reported on progress with the draft Constitution:

“This gift of the 18th century philosophers is proceeding. We are no longer fettered by the various parties that sought to destroy our Revolution. We are no longer rushed into a Constitution that would not answer our needs. Equality and liberty are the principles we uphold.”

Boissy retraced the events of the Revolution dwelling on 31st May and the Jacobin conspiracies to continue anarchy, their plundering of the nation:

“We have studied the previous Constitution, intending to preserve all that was useful in it, but it is a Constitution for Anarchy. It submitted France’s destiny to a single Legislative Chamber whose acts would be sanctioned by the people. Such an arrangement might readily have been subverted by greedy legislators. Also our 25 million people are all variously employed. Some are farmers, others are artists. The deliberative assembly of the old Constitution would have destroyed our social order.”

He also criticised the Executive Council of 24 Deputies and the provisions permitting insurrection.

A principle of the new Constitution is to divide the power to make law. Equality is established by nurturing respect for the law. Absolute equality is a chimera. The best people to act as legislators are those with the biggest stake in the country – property owners. We propose to make a property qualification for membership of the Legislature. This is to ensure that all legislators acknowledge the work ethic and our country does not revert to a state of nature. Everyone, rich or poor, gets equal treatment.[100] There will be no distinctions of rank. If a Frenchman becomes a hireling and submits to another for his sustenance he is unqualified for citizenship and will be classed with the illiterate and the unskilled. All master / servant distinctions are illegal.

The Legislative body will be divided into two Councils, both elected by the people. They differ from each other only in the numbers and ages of the Councillors. The Council of 500 will propose law; the Council of the Elders will approve and perfect those legislative proposals. One half of the legislature in both Houses will be re-elected every two years. The Legislative Chamber will have public galleries adequate to seat the public to a number of one half the number of Legislators. A guard shall be employed to maintain order. Its officers will be drawn from all the Departments.

Five legislators (from either chamber) will be appointed to form an Executive Council. These men may be criticised by legislators but may not be dismissed. This Executive Council will be called the Directory. One of these five will be replaced annually. Each will preside for three months in turn and be responsible for custody and use of the national sign and seal. National administration will be undertaken by ministers appointed by the Directory. The Executive Councillors will wear a distinctive uniform and be guarded at all times. Their salaries will be adequate for them to maintain our national dignity when meeting foreign ambassadors.

Provisions for the Judiciary – my copy of the article hereafter becomes illegible

Sat 28th Nov 1795

National Convention, 1st June:

Doulcet of CPW announced a defeat due to the efforts of the British Cabinet and the émigrés.

On 11th June the Brest Fleet relieved General Vence in command of the garrison at Belle Ile. Returning to Brest it encountered a storm and was blown out to sea where it met the British fleet and fought and lost a battle.

The British are preparing the Morbihan coast for invasion by the émigré army. Deputy Champaux has checked the coastal defences at Finisterre and is prepared.

Sat 12th Dec 1795

Portrait of Paris, 10th June 1795 by an English visitor:

At 6 am women and children are seen crossing the streets with pieces of bread having queued overnight outside the bakeries. At 9am the stock-jobbers, laden with bags of gold and silver, walk to the Palais Égalité to speculate on the assignats, the sale of national property or any other thing. The National Convention spends its time in accusations between members. The few members concerned to promote the important affairs of the Republic are often silenced by the party which promotes anarchy (the Jacobins).

2 pm is dinner time. All Paris is filled with traffic. Every house is a veritable armoury. The dinners are feasts of seasonal delicacies with the choicest white wines. Politics is never permitted to interfere with eating.

After dinner many Parisians adjourn to one of the 13 theatres in Paris. These are so popular it is invariably necessary to reserve seats. The shows are elegant but there is a shortage of actors.

After the theatre there is gambling. Gold and silver circulates just like under the old system.

Then one goes to a ‘traiteur’ for supper where, for 50 livres of assignats per head, you may enjoy fine bread and wine and never suspect there are shortages.

Fine horse-drawn vehicles are again conspicuous. The Grecian fashion of the ladies with the robe above the knee and opened at the side has been abandoned by the fashionable for a kind of chemise with the sash tied high so the neck is well displayed. Whilst the dress of both men and women is simple, it is augmented by valuable accessories.

Visitors to Paris find the Hotels and Inns are generally full and one might have to visit several before finding rooms. They are filled with speculators from all over Europe. Paris displays both extraordinary opulence and distressing poverty.

Sat 19th Dec 1795

National Convention, 30th June:

Treilbard spoke for the CPS. He said French fortitude and military triumphs have procured peace treaties which reveal the world is beginning to recognise the Republican government.

The time has come when we must reconsider the fate of the Capet family. While our country was threatened we had to detain them. Our strength has since lessened the interference of foreign countries in our domestic affairs.

We must also consider the fate of our Commissioners Quinet, Lamarque, Camus and Bancal who, with Minister Bournonville, were handed over to Austria. Also the fate of our Ambassadors Maret and Semonville who were abducted on neutral territory and taken to Vienna.

The National Convention has always accepted its supreme duty is to protect the safety of the people. Austrian violence is unjustifiable. The arrest of our national representatives is particularly egregious. Their persons should be respected.

However we will not make a separate negotiation for their freedom. Our Generals will include this matter in their negotiations for peace with Austria. When these representatives reach our frontier, we will release the daughter of Capet to whoever Austria sends to receive her. Madame Chantereine is the girl’s appointed governess and whatever she requires for the young girl is provided by CPS. All other Bourbon family members may leave at the same time.

This proposal was unanimously adopted by the National Convention.

Sat 19th Dec 1795

Journal Generale de Frankfurt, 16th July – Location of the Capet family members:

Louis XVI’s daughter Maria Theresa is held in the Temple; his eldest brother is at Verona in Italy; the eldest brother’s wife and her own brother are guests of the King of Sardinia in Turin; Count d’Artois and his eldest son are in the Duchy of Oldenburg; his wife, the Countess, is in Turin; his second son aged 17 years is at Mulheim; The sister of Louis XVI, the Princess Royal of Sardinia, is in Turin; Louis’ two aunts, Maria Adelaide and Victoire Louisa, are at Rome; the Duchess of Orleans is in Paris; her eldest son is in Switzerland; her two youngest sons are in Fort St John in Marseilles; her daughter is in Fribourg in Switzerland; the Prince of Condé with his son and grandson are in Mulheim; his daughter-in-law is in Marseilles and his daughter is in Fribourg.

Sat 26th Dec 1795

One of the extra sugar ships Bombay sent to London sailed from thence on 10th July and has returned with news. The other country ships are expected to return with the Company’s outbound fleet in January.

The price of bread in London in July was 1/- per quartern loaf.

The City merchants have subscribed £1,000 relief to the industrious poor. Other large subscriptions have also been raised. Large supplies of grain are expected from Canada and the Baltic.

Sugar in July was 63/3d per cwt., exclusive of import duty.

Sat 26th Dec 1795

The Times of London 4th July:

4,000 émigrés have embarked at the Elbe for Jersey under de Sombreuil to form the infantry of the émigré army. de Sombreuil’s father was guillotined by Robespierre. The force will serve under Lord Moira. The cavalry for these regiments will also move to Jersey. Other French Royalist regiments are forming in Germany, where they are called ‘white cockade’ (Bourbon) regiments. They will also go to Jersey. Moira is authorised to employ as many émigrés as he can find.
This force will acknowledge Louis XVIII as King of the French. The landing place for the Royalist army is expected to be in the River Auri or River Vannes in Morbihan.

Sat 2nd Jan 1796

Courier du Bas Rhin – Thomas Paine addressed the National Convention on 7th July 1795 concerning the new Constitution:

“I have been persecuted in England for defending the French Revolution and I have been persecuted in France for defending liberty. In neither case was I persecuted by the people of England or France. In both cases I was persecuted by despots. Neither experience has persuaded me to change my principles or conduct.

“If there is a fault in the Republican Constitution it is better to expose it now. A Constitution has two leading points – its principles and its organisation – and they should complement each other.

“This draft Constitution describes what a citizen is but excludes all who pay no tax. It therefore violates the first three articles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man.”

Sat 16th Jan 1796

Letter from Brussels, 20th August – The French representatives deputed to Belgium have gone to Antwerp to proclaim the opening of the Scheldt. The ceremony occurred on 17th August and three merchantmen immediately entered Antwerp harbour.

Sat 16th Jan 1796

Peace has been agreed between France and Spain at Basel. Francois Barthelemy, the French ambassador to Switzerland, reached the agreement with the Spanish King’s representative, Domingo d’Yriaete.

France restores all the conquered Spanish lands. All requisitions on the Spanish people in the occupied lands will cease and their outstanding debts to France will be cancelled. The frontier will follow the peaks of the Pyrenees.

Spain transfers to France her lands in Santa Domingo and the Spanish Antilles together with their forts, cannon and military stores. Any Spanish people in the ceded lands may remove within a year. Those remaining will be required to make oaths of allegiance to the French Republic.

The Treaty of Commerce in force between the countries before the present war commenced is restored. French and Spanish merchants may enter the territories of the other, reside there and open offices for business. Each will submit to the laws and usages of the country he resides in. All prisoners-of-war will be exchanged. This applies also to Portuguese troops serving with the Spanish armies.

The terms of peace are extended to the Netherlands.

France accepts the mediation of the Spanish King Carlos in settling differences with Portugal, Naples, Sardinia, Parma and the other Italian states. She accepts the King’s mediation with any other belligerents who may apply to him.[101]

The treaties become binding on exchange of the ratified copies.

Done at Basel, 22nd July 1795

Sat 23rd Jan 1796

Britain and France have agreed to a regular exchange of prisoners. The French representative organising this is M. Chatres. The ports to be used are Dover, Calais and Dunkirk. The first British cartel ship Two Sisters sailed from Dover on 4th August carrying many French sailors. The exchanges will be man for man and will recognise rank and station.

As France has far more British prisoners than we have French, a good many Englishmen will continue to be detained under this agreement.

Sat 23rd Jan 1796

England prepares to reinvigorate the war:

  • Count Hantefort has arrived in London from Verona with despatches from the émigré Louis XVIII for the Court of St James. Hantefort interviewed the Duc de Harcourt at Egham, then continued to Portsmouth to deliver letters to Comte d’Artois. Hantefort brought confirmation of the death of the child Louis XVII. It is unclear whether the British court will go into mourning.
  • The Duc de Bourbon is at Stade waiting a frigate to bring him to Spithead.
  • A great expedition for the invasion of France is assembling at Portsmouth. The army is in two divisions. Major General Doyle has the van consisting of mainly English troops but including Comte d’Artois and some other French nobles just arrived from Germany. Several of Louis XVIII’s party have arrived. His aide-de-camp Count de Serent is one; M de la Chapelle is another who will be Major General in the Royalist army in Brittany; M de la Rosiere will be quarter-master general.
    The second division will be commanded by the Earl of Moira. The Duc d’Angouleme and Duc de Bourbon will join Moira’s division. It is supposed that all the French field officers will serve in this division as well as the émigré cavalry which numbers 2,000. The objects of the army are supposed to be secret.

Sat 23rd Jan 1796

Reports from St Petersburg say 20-30 ships have been fitted-out to cruise against the French.

Sat 30th Jan 1796

Letter from London, 21st August – The Comte d’Artois has embarked with 4,000 men for La Vendée (south of Moira’s British invasion). A naval force will be sent to Belle Ile at the same time as he lands in France. The Royalists in France are expected to flock to Monsieur’s (Comte d’Artois) standard as soon as he lands – all the émigrés say he is widely popular in France.

Charette, who recently accepted the National Convention’s amnesty, has written to d’Artois assuring him of an unopposed landing as the General is blocking the Republican forces in Nantes. Charette says the Republicans are disorderly. He reports a famine in Normandy whilst his Royalist force is well provisioned.

Sat 23rd Jan 1796

Courier Universal (a Paris paper) reports the National Convention proceedings at which the British invasion of Brittany was debated:

The British defeated our Channel fleet on 23rd June and commenced their invasion. On 26th June they entered Quiberon Bay with many transports from Belle Ile. The coastal defences had been attacked by the Chouans and the following day the British landed their army. Aurai fell into British hands. Vannes was evacuated and the French defenders assembled at Ploermel. A force of about 3,000 was sent to reconnoitre Aurai. It engaged the enemy who fell back into the town. Some of our troops followed-up too close and were killed or captured.

On 29th another 1,500 French troops arrived from L’Orient under General Josuet. The enemy abandoned Aurai and retreated to Carnac near Quiberon Bay and camped. We re-occupied Aurai and found some of the merchants had been carried off.

On 30th June the English brought 3 frigates and another ship-of-war into Quiberon Bay and bombarded Quiberon all day. On 1st July the enemy tried to force our line. We repulsed them and took their cargo of 3,000 military uniforms. The enemy then entrenched themselves outside Quiberon, besieged and occupied it. The garrison of 300 men were to be shot by the Chouans but the English officer countermanded the order. On 4th July the enemy tried to sally-out but was turned back by our encircling forces.

The British made a diversion up the Vannes River with six armed boats. We sunk some cutters to obstruct their progress and they seized 6 barges and retired with the loot. On 7th July the enemy again attempted to sally-out but was repulsed. They then had their women, children and camp followers reboard the transports in the bay. The émigré army numbers about 7,000 men. It is reinforced by some 10,000 resident Chouans.

At the same time as the invasion of Brittany, a French army crossed the Rhine and occupied Dusseldorf. The Austrians were discomforted.

Sat 30th Jan 1796

Ministers of the German Rhine states have assembled at Basel to negotiate peace with France.[102] On 13th July they were joined by a representative of the Austrian Emperor.

M de Spielman, the Austrian ambassador to Switzerland, says the Emperor will exchange the detained French minister, diplomats and legislators for Louis XVI’s daughter.

Sat 30th Jan 1796

The Baron Hardenberg (Prussia) on 21st July asked the French armies that have crossed the Rhine to withdraw. Riveaud and Merlin de Thionville have demurred. They say they are mere Generals not diplomats. They referred the Baron to the National Convention. They say they cannot stop fighting.

Hardenberg has also written to Barthelemy in Basel on 28th July advising that the Prussian King demanded on 3rd July that the Austrian Emperor make peace with France. He said this showed Prussia is performing its agreement. At the convention on 27th May the Prussian King approved the German Rhine states’ policy of neutrality.

The Prussians wish to take advantage of the clause in the Treaty of Basel (between France and Spain) to ‘other belligerents’ to make peace. The King wishes to resume communications across the Rhine and re-establish commerce between the countries so he can disband his army and end the expense of war.

Hardenberg unilaterally offers to secure the following terms – an immediate armistice between the Austrian Empire and the Republic which will continue whilst negotiations are held; all French contributions and requisitions on German towns to cease during the armistice; negotiations to be held at Frankfurt-am-Main from which town all foreign troops are first to be withdrawn. “I invite you to instantly send a Plenipotentiary”, he wrote.

Barthelemy replied that the wish for peace was reciprocated but the proposed armistice did not accord with the interests of France. He was pleased the German states had asked for Prussian intermediary to make peace but insisted that the German states themselves open negotiations under the umbrella of French friendship towards Berlin.

Sat 30th Jan 1796

National Convention, 27th July – a report of the émigré invasion:

An émigré army has returned to Brittany and has proclaimed order and royalty at Vannes. They lost the advantage of surprise and wasted a huge amount of English money. They twice tried to cut their way out. On the 2nd occasion on 16th July they were severely defeated. If we had cavalry available we might have conclusively ended their plans then.

We decided to prevent their re-embarkation in order to make them amenable to French law. This was delayed by a bombardment by the English warships in the Bay but eventually we took the fort of Penthievre. We left two battalions to guard it and pursued the rebels into Quiberon Bay. The émigrés sued for peace but the British warships continued firing and we required they stop first. We fired on and sunk many of the boats they sent in to take-off the émigrés and eventually the rebels surrendered. We captured or killed 10,000 rebels. Several were armed with poison-tipped poignards.

A military commission was immediately established to mete out justice to them. Several of the prisoners complained they had been starved by the English to encourage them to take part. These men deserted the aristocrats as soon as they landed and gave us the plans of the enemy. They told us 9 regiments of émigrés would arrive on 19th July and we took them all the following day.

We have captured 70,000 muskets, 150,000 pairs of shoes, spare uniforms for 40,000 and an immense quantity of provisions and ammunition. We learned from the prisoners that Pitt proposed to make Quiberon Bay the depot for the army he proposed to raise in France.

We are reviewing their correspondence. They had expected help from the Jacobins which was frustrated by the fall of that faction.

Treuilhard for the CPS said ‘we have triumphed over our cruellest enemy. The other nations are befriending us. The Minister of Venice is in Paris and will address the National Convention on 30th July.

It was agreed that the two captured Royalist Generals – Fache and Bouchotte – should be tried by a special jury.

Sat 20th Feb 1796

Brittany – Count de Sombreuil who is 28 years old, together with the Bishop of Dol and fourteen priests who were captured at Quiberon Bay during Moira’s invasion of Brittany, have all been guillotined. The Courier Francais says there are another 400 émigré prisoners at Vannes who will be likewise executed.

de Sombreuil seems to have not been the usual avaricious French aristocrat. He acted bravely under Prussian and English command in the Pay Bas where his abilities were noted and his suitability for the Brittany campaign realised. It was his arrangements which largely secured the escape of the 2,000 émigrés who survived the Quiberon Bay fiasco.

Sat 2nd April 1796

The Comte de Lille (one of the titles of the putative Louis XVIII) has written to the Elector of Triers from Verona on 29th June 1795 subsequent to the report of the death of Louis XVI’s son. After his flight from France, the Comte was long a resident of Coblenz in the electorate:

“Uncle, I have succeeded to the throne of France. Your kindness to me will never be forgotten. As a member of the German Empire you may have difficulty responding to this letter but you can write to me as Count of Lille. I only wish to exchange compliments.”

Sat 13th Feb 1796

Louis XVIII, presently at Verona, wrote to the Pope on 24th June:

Now I am King of France, the first of my cares is to re-establish Roman Catholicism in my country. I implore your benediction.

Sat 20th Feb 1796

The self-proclaimed Louis XVIII has written to the Archbishop of Paris (presently holidaying in Switzerland) from Verona 15th June:

I have received the letter which you and the Bishops of Langres, Nimes and St Malo sent to me. I am glad to know the faithful part of my clergy reside at Constance. I have accepted the duty to be King and hope to restore Christianity to my country. I ask you to pray to God, through whom monarchs reign, to restore my subjects to me.

Sat 20th Feb 1796

Paris, July – Abbe Reynal has been quiet for many months but has just published a political tract against proscriptions and confiscations:

He thinks the proscribed nobles should be allowed back. The more enemies we have the more difficult it is for us to prevail. These enemies can readily be made into friends. The more friends we have the more quickly we can defeat our real enemies.

Wealth is not acquired by confiscations. If we wish to be rich we must encourage labour and industry by protecting investments.

The true foundation of legitimate government is justice, virtue and purity of manners, he says.

Sat 20th Feb 1796

Vienna, 10th July – the Emperor’s brother, the 23 years old Archduke Alexander, was playing with fireworks. He shot a rocket at a window but it struck the frame and rebounded into the room where it set fire to other fireworks. The subsequent explosion blew out his eyes and he died the next morning.

The Archdukes Charles and Joseph are inconsolable. The Empress is deeply saddened and, as she is pregnant, there are fears for her child. Alexander was popular with the Hungarians and was shortly to have married a Russian princess.

Sat 30th Jan 1796

The India fleet, which arrived London at end July, has been ordered to discharge cargoes immediately as 12 of its ships are required by the ministry to sail to West Indies as troop transports. This fleet brought home the Dutch prizes that have been collected at St Helena (the returning fleet of the VOC) – the Frocorder, Surcheance, Dortwich, Meermin, Menton, Hooghley, Amsterdam and Ziely. They collectively contain a valuable cargo of coffee, spices, Japanese copper, tea and chinaware.

Sat 27th Feb 1796

The French decree reorganising the Republican government provides for 5 Directors to run the country. The Gazette Historique has proposed the following five candidates:

Pichegru for his military victories; Barthelemy for his diplomatic skill; Villaret for his command of the navy; Cambaceres for his judicial abilities and Boisse d’Anglas for his courage in the face of traitors and assassins.

Sat 27th Feb 1796

The late treaty of peace between Spain and France appears to breach one of the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713.

By that agreement the then Spanish King Carlos II undertook not to sell or transfer any Spanish possessions in America to any other nation.

The British Queen undertook at that time to assist Spain in restoring her American possessions to the extent they had been pre-war.

Sat 27th Feb 1796

Vienna, 29th July – The Emperor is acting against democratic infection:

Some subjects of the Austrian Emperor have been seduced by democracy.

Baron de Riedel is accused of fomenting French principles in Austria. He loses his title and his lands are confiscated. He is to be exposed in the stocks for 3 days under a sign ‘the traitor of his country and seducer of the public’ and then imprisoned for 60 years in a fort.

Other democrats are being similarly punished.

Count Hohenwarth got 30 years; Franzel the soapmaker got 2 years; Councillor Brandtstetter and Dr Judz are yet to be sentenced.

Sat 12th March 1796

National Convention, 17th September – The Deputies are debating French territorial acquisitions in the war. There are three possibilities – we give them back; we realign our frontier to the Meuse or we realign our frontier to the Rhine:

The 1st option might procure peace by depriving our enemies of grounds to attack us. It might become inconvenient to rule these places.

The 2nd option allows us to exploit the navigation of the Scheldt and Meuse as agreed with the Netherlands. We can justify retaining the extra land as compensation for the costs of defending ourselves.

The 3rd option is popular with those who seek for clearly defined frontiers. It would make Austrian invasions of France difficult. It might also be considered a kind of compensation for the costs we sustained in our defence. The people of the lands between the Rhine and the Meuse have expressed friendship to us. Many have repeatedly asked the National Convention to be incorporated in France. It would open the navigation of the Rhine to French traders, increase our population and domestic market very greatly and simplify our trade with the Baltic and Germany. On the other hand, it will certainly aggravate the Emperor and, by competing with or supplanting English merchants in those markets, it would deeply antagonise them too.

Returning to our ancient limits is only popular amongst those of us who have relations with Austria (who will be the principal loser if France expands). We would then forego the benefits of those great rivers and the peoples who are agreeable to union with us. We would leave Austria with a route into our heartland and a base from which to interdict our trade with central Europe. The income Austria raises from those lands would help her recover more quickly and, as a monarchy, she implacably resents our Republic.

If we fix the frontier along the Meuse we leave Austria with the lands necessary to revenge herself on us. It diminishes the possibility of permanent peace. It is also true that the Meuse is not a sufficiently large river to make a strong frontier. An Austrian army, between the Meuse and the Rhine, will be able to raise vast provisions from the country, iron in great quantities and the cloth of Limburg for uniforms. That area is rich in population, horses, mines and all sorts of things that could be mobilised against us. We were able to capture it only because the Austrian troops were so demoralised. If we were to do it again, attacking them on what they consider to be their own soil, they would have the motivation to fight better. All-in-all the Meuse is an inadequate frontier. It is unlikely to secure our liberty.

If we make the Rhine our frontier we would deeply alienate Austria. The Rhine is deep and fast-flowing. Its navigation is comparatively difficult. It is a better natural frontier that the Meuse. If an Austrian army was on the right bank of the Rhine it would have to be small as the area cannot support a greater population. They would have to bring some of their supplies in from outside at greater expense. We have for years felt the ambitions of Austria and their involvement in this war is convincing proof of it. The Emperor may have cared for Louis but he cares more for additional land – look what he has done in Poland. Such an enemy needs be kept small or he will be troublesome. He will misinterpret our kindness for weakness. We cannot afford to be generous with him. We have to consider the happiness of our own people first.

Quite apart from security concerns, there are material advantages to be had. A positive balance of trade is a source of relative power. Our trade balances have formerly been against us. Two thirds of the produce of the new lands is superfluous to the needs of the residents – it is tradable. There is also the advantage of navigation on the new rivers. We have obtained some of that by our treaty with the Netherlands but why deprive ourselves of its full extent? If we allow the barriers and inspections along the Rhine that are found wherever it enters a new fief, the myriad taxes and Customs delays that diminish its value as a trade route will continue to slow the distribution of goods.

The great advantage of a frontier on the Rhine is its effect on British commerce. By uniting the occupied lands to us we immediately release them from the restrictions Britain puts upon their trade and they may freely export as they wish. These lands produce the same products as the English. The moderate price of their labour, the inexpensive river carriage to the sea and, under our management, the absence of all transit fees along the river, will make their goods very competitive with English goods. If English manufacturers cannot compete on price they cannot compete at all.

These countries will be allured by our arts and culture and will voluntarily chose to trade more with us, indeed they have already evinced a wish to be closer to us.

We have a valid claim for indemnity from Austria for the war. She has been predatory towards us. It would be just to demand a price for her conduct.

Our first object in obtaining peace is to establish our Republic. Our happiness and prosperity depend on it. Now we have become powerful, who is there to fear? Sooner or later our enemies will recover their strength and again indulge in their schemes. With increased territory, augmented force and greater national wealth, our security and revolution is assured.

Sat 9th April 1796

French news at December 1795:

  • The National Convention wound-up itself on 27th October and a new House of Legislature, the Directorate, was inducted the same day. The new Directors are Reubel, Reveillere Lefaux, Carnot, P Barras and Letourneur. Their first acts will address the national financial difficulty – the Louis d’Or, which was formerly equivalent to 24 livres, is now exchanged at over 5,000 livres of assignats.
  • The Princess Royal (Marie Antoinette’s daughter) has been exchanged for the political French prisoners Bournonville etc., held by Austria.

Sat 9th April 1796

After the King’s Speech had been read in parliament, Lord Dalkeith said we are losing the war in Europe. In West Indies we have taken three islands and lost two (St Vincent and St Lucia). We are winning everywhere in Asia. To remedy the West Indian setbacks we were sending a great armament there. He thought it was the worst time to make peace. He said France was in a deplorable financial state and the new government was not fully accepted by the French people. He said the National Convention had used force to get its new arrangements instituted and he categorised it as a military government. The men who had led the government since Robespierre have been replaced and it was impossible to say when things would become tranquil.

Stewart seconded. He said the assignats had fallen to 1½% of face value whilst the government continued to spend 1,400 million livres a month. Unless France found some real finance very soon she would again be anarchic. On the other hand, he said British finances had seldom been so good in war. Commerce and manufacturing are strong, taxes are low and government loans are easily raised. When we can make an honourable peace we will become immensely rich.

Sheridan said the country was facing a famine. The Elector of Hanover[103] has made peace with France while England continued to fight. Why don’t these two rulers change places – George III can go to Hanover and fight as long as he likes and we’ll make peace. The real war aim of George III is to place a King on the French throne, he thought.

Sheridan also said that whilst England was concentrating forces around France, we neglected the West Indies. The few announcements about West Indies from the ministry are shrouded in obscurity.

Jenkinson said the French government was more stable now than in 1793. Their constitutional ideas were altered – the former naked democracy has been amended. The French property requirement on electors in the Primary Assemblies is even higher than England’s. The political clubs are abolished. The new legislature offers better security and, if established, is more acceptable to England.

Jenkinson believed that if France was permitted to retain her present frontiers she would seriously diminish British trade. He also recalled France had naval superiority in the Mediterranean in times of peace. He concluded with ‘why make peace now when, in a few months, we will be able to dictate terms’.

Fox for the liberal opposition said the King was relying on speculative fear of anarchy and terror to maintain support for war. His ministers had added £500,000 to annual taxes to pay the interest on £100 millions of debt (the British debt due to war so far) which had caused the scarcities of the previous year. He deplored ministers overlooking this and saying instead that things are getting better. He noted the fiasco at Quiberon Bay and observed that a British officer was sent to demand the surrender of Noirmontier “in the name of Louis XVIII”. He concluded that Pitt’s assertion, war was not fought to restore the Bourbons, was laughable. He deplored the loss of 100,000 British lives in this dubious cause.

He considered the minister’s view that the French government was unlikely to meet its obligations and could not be negotiated with. He noted Denmark and Sweden had made treaties with France under the Brissotines and never had a single cause of complaint. The truces with Prussia and Spain likewise had given no grounds for complaint. Pitt was lying when he said he could not treat with France. It is England that refuses to talk peace. We appear as the war-mongers of Europe. If we opened negotiations and France was unreasonable, the people would see the point that Pitt continually labours speculatively. Conceivably they might support him. When Valenciennes, Conde and Quesnoy were taken in June it was said France was on her last legs – why was not peace made then? Now she is said to be again in serious jeopardy, why do we still decline to make peace?

Insurance on shipping to the West Indies has doubled in one year. In our own islands a shortage of grain has caused famine. At a time when scarce one family in ten can afford bread, an immense quantity of provisions had been given to the émigré army we sent to the coast of France; food that was desperately needed here. Then the émigré army was defeated and we abandoned them and all their supplies to the French.

Pitt categorised Fox’s speech as deserving of impeachment. Every Frenchman had been reduced to one fifteenth (±7%) of his worth three years ago. Even the French legislature (and the financiers) agreed that the safety of the Revolution depended on the assignats and the only remedy was to discontinue issuing them. Seven months ago when the circulation of assignats had equated with £13 millions (now it is £18 millions), the Marquis de Montesquieu said they could no longer be issued and proposed that 1,500 million Livres be funded as debts due from the purchasers of national estates while another 4-5 millions should have their face values reduced to 80%. What can one think of a country where such a remedy can be proposed, asked Pitt. This had been followed by another plan to withdraw the assignats and replace them with a coinage, doubtless at a value less than real.

These French difficulties reveal that any victories in war will be short-lived. Already we hear than some civil administrators are forced to receive some taxes in produce. The armies have recently received a payment in money equal to one seventh of their salaries. The officers complained that this made their soldiers richer than they were themselves. Pitt is convinced that France needs peace more than England does.

As regards a genuine wish for peace, France had endeavoured to have America declare war on us; they had taken liberties with Sweden and Denmark which those countries had overlooked. They had interfered in the Republic of Geneva. The terms of the Prussian peace treaty had been broken but the Prussians were too exhausted to complain. The decision of the Elector of little Hanover to make peace hardly provided an example to a great Power like Britain. There is no reason to suppose that the policies of the two countries should be the same. If we were obliged to make peace with Hanover, we would also be liable to make war with her. That is not an argument that finds favour in a British administration.

Sat 14th May 1796

The House of Commons, 10th November:

The army estimates for the next year total £5 millions. General McLeod called for supportings to evidence the state of national defence. He deplored the passing-over of experienced officers for younger ones. He called for returns from each branch of the army – artillery, cavalry, infantry, etc., and the militias and yeomanry.

Windham said he had nothing to hide but feared publication in the House would be useful to an enemy. The state of the national army had been dramatically changed in September 1794 by the improvements made to it by the Duke of York. As regards the citizen army there were as yet no regular returns of yeomanry for government to accurately estimate their numbers.

McLeod said he would accept figures from August 1794 prior to the Duke’s re-arrangements and if the government had no figures for enrolment in the militias, etc., at least they knew the demand for arms for each yeoman from which an estimate of numbers could be produced.

General Tarleton was pleased the government was willing to release the information.

General Smith said he saw no disadvantage in publishing the size of our army as it might act to deter enemies from continuing to war with us. He noted, in respect of the militias, that the Ordnance Office supplied most of the yeomen but others found their own arms and some were provided by county subscription.

Eventually, the estimates were moved and accepted.

General McLeod then called for details of all the field officers attached to Moira’s Brittany invasion force, showing their rank and emoluments, and all the officers seconded to serve under the Comte d’Artois and Prince of Condé. Agreed.

Sat 14th May 1796

The Secretary at War said his Estimates included H M regiments serving with the Company’s army in India although they were not paid by the Crown and should not be included. He also knew the numbers of several garrisons in our newly acquired colonies were not included in the figures.The numbers he had were:

for guards and garrisons 49,819 men
in colonies / plantations 77,858 men

The figure for guards and garrisons had reduced by 119,000 due to our withdrawal from the low countries. 40,000 of those men had been redeployed in the colonies. Overall there was a decrease of 28,000 men.

The militia totalled 42,000 men and the fencibles 13,000 men. The cavalry had increased to near 10,000 men. The overall total of all forces available to fight for the country was 207,000 men.

General FitzPatrick asked about the mutinies that had occurred when drafting new regiments. The mutineers said the government had broken faith with them. He mentioned a letter from Colonel Hay of the 109th regiment which expressly said the government had not complied with its own conditions for drafting regiments.

The Secretary at War knew nothing of the case. He said many recruits are the lowest of men and whatever agreements they made were not the responsibility of government. Pitt said the government had wished to draft more regiments but, as soon as it found it could not be done without violating the conditions on which they were raised, it abandoned the wish.

General McLeod mentioned a cavalry regiment which had been formed then dismounted and its horses, which cost £25 each on formation, were sold off for £8.

Jenkinson said it was impossible to answer every case adduced in the House but thought it probable that a large number of horses coming on the market may have depressed prices.

General McLeod mentioned the fencible cavalry which he described as useless and had been raised merely as an exercise of patronage.

The Secretary at War said the fencible cavalry was a temporary force that received no half-pay and was comprised of young men working part-time. They were useful considering how cheap they were.

General Tarleton said he had seen something of the fencible cavalry and they were useless.

General Smith said, as the regular cavalry was now coming home from the low countries, there was no justification for an amateur cavalry.

General McLeod supposed the fencible cavalry were for crowd-control as the ministry was driving the population to desperation and needed some force to oppose them.

Lord John Russell mentioned a troop of 30 fencible cavalry coming to Oldham recently, each armed with 12 ball cartridges. They had drawn-up in front of the Town Hall where the magistrates and all the people were in fear of them. The cavalry officer said they were come at the order of the War Office to quell a riot of which no-one else was aware.

Sat 9th April 1796

Another packet of dispatches and letters has arrived Bombay from Basra:

The Austrians successfully crossed the Rhine and defeated the French General Pichegru before taking winter quarters on the west bank. An armistice of three months has been agreed.

Sat 9th April 1796

Letter from Basel, 29th December 1795:

The exchange of the French Princess Royal for the political prisoners was agreed two months ago but was delayed by France. The Princess eventually left Paris on the evening of 19th December. The escort was instructed to only pass through towns at night. In the evening of 23rd the Princess reached Huninguen and a courier was sent to Fribourg to get the French prisoners. They were sent to Richen and the Council of Basel undertook not to release them until the Princess was safely received. The Princess was delivered to the home of Reber a citizen of Basel where the Prince of Gavres was waiting to receive her.

The 20 French prisoners exchanged were Bournonville the war minister, Menat his adjutant, Vriemeer his secretary, Camas, Bancal, Lamarque and Quinette the National Deputies, Semonville the ambassador to Constantinople, Merget his secretary, Maret the ambassador to Naples, Dronet deputy to the Convention and eight servants.

Sat 23rd April 1796

The French Revolution really is completed. The deputies are discussing a new woollen uniform for themselves so the public can distinguish them and hopefully not murder them by mistake.

The Council of 500 will have a long white robe with blue girdle, a scarlet cloak and a cap of blue velvet.

The Council of Ancients will wear a long violet robe with scarlet girdle, a white cloak and violet cap.

The Executive Directory has two uniforms, one for everyday and the other for special occasions. The everyday wear is a cloak with back and sleeves in bright orange lined with white and gold embroidery front and back; a long white waistcoat embroidered with gold; a white silk scarf edged with gold and black silk breeches. There is a black round hat turned up at one side with tricolor feathers. The sword is worn on an orange shoulder belt pendant to the waist.

The evening dress is a blue cloak with a scarlet cloak over it.

Sat 30th April 1796

Paris, 12th December 1795 – Report of Finance Minister Faipoul to the Directorate:

The War Minister has told you of the desperate need of the army for funds. I proposed to solve the difficulty using those Spanish Bills of Exchange in the National Treasury, a part of which will be sold immediately to provide for the armies of the North, the Meuse, Rhine and Sambre.

Unfortunately the exchange rate for Louis D’Or today is poor. At close of business, with no takers for the Bills, I ordered the ministry staff to contact the capitalists of Paris for a loan of 600,000 livres. We expect they will agree.

We are also examining the advantages of exchanging the Spanish Bills for others which may be more profitable. I have to tell you I cannot create an abundance of funds from our present exhausted resources. If the army, the navy and the Interior Department require millions in specie or greater sums in assignats, I see no way to satisfy them.

Relying on my private connections I have already obtained loans from several foreign towns but these monies will not arrive for a fortnight and in any event they are quite inadequate to our overall needs.

Our difficulty stems from the assignats. The Exchange knows we have built a new paper mill to manufacture more of them. The gain on sale of new assignats is nullified by the decline in overall assignat value whenever we issue more.

At present the debts of the nation total 72 million livres in specie and we have no means in prospect to discharge them. Magen’s Bills on Spain will take time to be negotiated. The daily production of 100 million in assignats has been adequate for about one third of our daily needs. The 1,500 millions of assignats that are to be paid during this next ten days will make little difference.

The Council of Ancients debated Faipoul’s report on 20th December:

Dupont de Nemours[104] said the revenue of our nation arises from tax payments. In 1790 the nett national revenue from all sources was 1,500 million livres. On the expectation of this income the taxes were fixed at 300 millions and the surplus was to come from agriculture, industry and the profits of merchants.

Since 1790 war has diminished the harvest 20%. The costs of agriculture have increased. I wonder how the nation can bear the loan of 600 millions that we now urgently require. We do not have 600 millions in specie in France. The market value of all the assignats does not approach this figure.

Pitt can raise loans of this size with the backing of the London merchants but he raises it in tranches, paying it down year by year. Dupont de Nemours concluded by opining that the maximum France might raise in her current circumstances was not more than 100 million livres.

Verrier disagreed. He noted the loan did not oppress the poor but was to be taxed-off the rich who had most to gain from French success. There was some injustice in forcing the loan on them but they should also make some sacrifice for the country. The injustice was temporary and would cease once the loan was repaid. He noted the Finance Ministry allowed the loan to be paid in specie, silver-plate or grain and it would immediately be released back into the economy in settlement of government debt. He thought a true patriot would willingly give up his plate and eat with wooden spoons.

Coren Fustier wondered who would pay the loan. He thought the rich had been exhausted by taxes and persecution while the ordinary citizens were even poorer. The merchants had no trade, the artisans had no work, the gold and jewels of the country had all been removed or been buried and become undiscoverable.

Thomas Lindet was against the loan. He recalled Pitt had said the country with the deepest pockets would win the war.[105] If we raise a loan in our present state it will likely bring about our national bankruptcy. We have no alternative but to keep issuing assignats.

The Council of 500 then voted and the loan was approved. It was resolved that a fund will be collected from 25% of the taxpaying citizens of every department. The departmental administrators will each identify their biggest tax payers up to 25% of the roll. They are not limited to existing tax payers but may make enquiries about rich people who do not pay tax and apply the loan on them. The lenders will be classified in 16 classes. The first 15 classes will pay 50 – 1,200 livres each depending on which class they are in. The 16th class will be composed of people with capital of 500,000 livres or more, as indicated in the survey of 1790, and they will pay 1,500 – 6,000 livres each. The payments will be received in gold or silver or specie. If these metals are unavailable to the investor, he may pay in grain which will be stored in one or other of the national granaries for the country’s use. Assignats may also be used and will be accounted at 100% of their market value.

It was agreed to order imprisonment for anyone declining to pay.

A member of the 500 criticised the jobbers and moneymen. He thought they particularly deserved to contribute. It was agreed to use pressure on those who were reluctant to support the nation.

Sat 7th May 1796

State of the Royal Navy:

Exclusive of the chartered armed ships protecting British coasting trade, the Navy has in commission 120 ships-of-the-line, 23 x 50-gunners, 159 frigates and 164 sloops for a total of 466 warships. Of this number, 7 capital ships, 1 x 50-gunner, 5 frigates and 6 sloops are serving in Asia, about the same as at Jamaica and rather less than we have in the West Indies or at Halifax.[106] The main concentration of British naval force is in the English and Irish Channels and the North Sea (127 warships). 8 capital ships and 2 sloops are under construction.

Sat 7th May 1796

The Hague, 7th October 1795:

The provisional representatives of the Dutch people have published a copy letter they have received from F Frederici, the Governor of Surinam.

Frederici has received a letter from the Stadtholder dated at Kew, London, 7th February 1795 which orders him to admit British warships and troops at all his ports and rivers. He is instructed to consider them as belonging to a friendly Power who will prevent Surinam falling into French hands.

We representatives have not yet acted on Frederici’s information as we heard the Stadtholder was trying to assemble a force for the invasion of Netherlands and we expected to provide all the details of his offences to you when you requested for information about the invasion. However, his invasion is delayed and we cannot withhold this information any longer.

William V (the Stadtholder) has been a traitor since 1780. He opposed the States General during and after the war with England. Later his conspiracies to deny our liberty were exposed and he had to leave the Hague. He returned with a foreign army which reduced his country and looted and assassinated our people. This act ruined and banished thousands of Dutch families. On 11th September 1787 he published a wicked Manifesto and established a dreadful government calling it a Constitutional measure. It was dominated by his faction and remained in control for 7 years.

He fought the most ruinous war we have ever been involved in which cost millions of public money and rivers of Dutch blood. He brought the country to disaster, especially from the roving bands of British troops, and brought confusion to every branch of the administration. Then when the French entered our country, he shamefully saved himself and his family and wrote that infamous letter “that the good inhabitants of his lands desired peace and he would not obstruct their wishes but go on tour for a while, praying that Heaven would shower its blessings upon his people; that his two sons had relinquished their commands of the Dutch armies and were leaving with him.”

In this way William V has displayed his traitorous submission to England. This latest crime to procure the traitorous act of the Governor of Surinam is High Treason against the Dutch Republic.

Now our abolition of the Stadtholderate is shown to have been a manifestly wise act. We hope all the people will see the light of truth.

After you Deputies of France have seen this please return the letter to Bavius Voorda and Jan Valkenaar, professors of law at Leyden who will draw-up the indictment against the ex-Stadtholder.[107]

Sat 28th May 1796

Europe news:

The Diet at Ratisbon has agreed to empower the Emperor to make peace on behalf of the German states. On 25th July 1795 the Emperor asked the Danish ambassador at Vienna, M St Saphoren, to mediate. The Danish court agreed and Count de Bernstorff, the Danish minister, asked the National Convention on 18th August to respond.

The Emperor proposes Augsburg as the venue and he guaranteed security there. He asks that the inhabitants of the occupied countries be relieved of military requisitions during the negotiations.

The CPS has directed the National Convention on 13th October not to consent to a truce until peace is declared by the Emperor. The National Convention may thereafter appoint members to a Congress.

Sat 28th May 1796

A Defensive Alliance between Russia and Britain has been agreed at Petersburg in February 1795. Sir Charles Whitworth is Plenipotentiary for England. The Empress appointed Sir John, Count Osterman, as her Plenipotentiary:

This treaty excludes Asian wars unless Asian possessions of either party are involved in a European war.

We will be good friends. If either is attacked by land or sea, the other will come to his help.

Russia has a huge army; Britain has a huge navy. If Britain is attacked the Empress will send 10,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry; If Russia is attacked King George will send 12 ships of war (2 ships-of-the-line 74 guns, 6 x 60-guns, 4 x 50-guns) making totally 708 cannon and 4,560 men.

Russian troops will not be required to fight in Spain, Portugal or Italy or outside Europe. Either party may exchange its commitment for cash. Either can discharge its treaty obligations by payment of 500,000 roubles per annum to the other so long as hostilities last. If either helping party is itself attacked, it may avoid its commitment. The extent of help to be provided may be increased by agreement.

The Russian troops shall be fully equipped with artillery and ammunition and be paid and fed by Britain.

The British government will use its best endeavours to get free passage through Europe for the Empress’ troops. If Russian troops have to cross the sea, the British government will provide ships. The force to be provided will come under the command of the recipient’s CiC but its native commander may attend all Councils of War. The commanders will have free correspondence with their home governments. Each contingent will be disciplined under its own national code. The British squadron will be welcomed at any Russian port and may return to home port once a year. It will return to the Baltic in May and remain there until October.

Neither party may make peace or truce without involving the other. Other Powers may join this alliance with the agreement of both principal Powers. Commerce will be stimulated to strengthen friendship. The treaty will remain in force for 8 years and may be renewed.

Sat 4th June 1796

Following the assimilation of the Indian and British armies, a long list of brevet promotions for senior Indian officers is published.

The India Company’s aide-de-camp to King George is shown in this list. He is Lt Colonel Colebrooke Nesbitt of the 52nd foot.

Sat 11th June 1796

Merlin de Douai of the CPS has explained the events of 3rd – 5th October 1795 in Paris to the National Convention. The cause of the riots is not stated in the account but their course and conclusion is elucidated.

Sat 8th Oct 1796

The House of Commons debated the Army estimates on 2nd December 1795:

60 MPs (9% of the membership) turned-up for this debate.

General Smith said a large estimate is produced for this year but the savings from the 1794 and 1795 votes totalled £750,000 which suggests the 1796 estimate is probably too large as well. He had several complaints:

  • He doubted the usefulness of the 10,000-strong fencible cavalry now the regular troops have come home.
  • Unmilitary men have been placed in command of large militia units whilst many trained and experienced officers were passed over.
  • The estimates contain no return for the Irish Brigade – they are on public money and should be included.
  • The émigré battalions should no longer be paid by Britain as there is no continental theatre of war to send them to.

Windham, Secretary at War, said there was a shortage of infantry to which the fencible cavalry could be applied. He said the nature of the fencible and militia armies was such as to not attract regular officers as no bounty was paid, the recruits were not entitled to half-pay and their employment ended with the war. It was preferable to employ rich landowners in their own counties to command the fencibles as they could easily produce the manpower from their estates. The details of the 5 regiments comprising the Irish Brigade were still awaited from Dublin but those troops were to be paid by England.

The foreign mercenaries in British service were raised by the Duke of York in Germany and had served well in the war. They were hurriedly raised to deal with the exigency of the moment and no record of them had been kept. Instead the ministry sent a man to Germany to check everything was in order and he is an honest and diligent chap.

The émigré army was very effective and had been most useful in West Indies. And he assured the House that all the troops being paid for were high quality troops.

General MacLeod noted that bounties of £5 – 10 were indeed paid for fencible troops; that the command of marching regiments had been given to Members of this House who had no prior experience. The force of the country is comprised of a motley collection of fencibles, volunteers, independents, émigrés and others. He particularly referred to Colonel Beaumont’s regiment which horses had been bought at £25 each and sold for as little as £8. Beaumont has received nothing back for his payment. Some volunteer regiments only assembled on certain days of the week. One noble Lord with no military experience has two regiments of fencibles and one marching regiment under his command. It appeared to MacLeod that the entire civil defence was a piece of patronage.

The average cost to the nation of each civil defence man was £66. When drafting the fencible regiments, the government had guaranteed every officer two year’s pay. He would average the half-pay over ten year’s purchase. On this basis, each regiment would cost £33,490 (2 years pay for officers + half-pay). It would be better to grant the old bounties than pay this excessive sum. He detected a massive amount of fraud in military payments. The practice of dragooning (settling soldiers on private families to care for them) followed in this country was oppressive. The country is at risk of famine and the minister’s policies risk civil war.[108]

General Tarleton deplored the small turn-out in the House. He noted that at no former time of rebellion had the nation’s cavalry been so extensive. He thought so many men and horses would eat a large amount of grain and fodder at a time of national famine. He knew the annual cost of the fencible cavalry was £700,000 exclusive of the costs of the innkeepers in boarding and lodging them. He examined the estimates and ‘extraordinaries’ of the last three years and found the fencibles had cost the country £13 millions.

Tarleton then considered that the Ministry had been very successful in raising funds to fight the war but all their chosen projects had failed. The delayed departure of the West Indian fleet had permitted men to die in the transports. Every military man would agree the West Indian force should have been sent in three divisions but the early parts were detained until the later parts were ready and this had caused egregious hardship to the troops.

On the European continent our military exploits gave no cause for rejoice. The only glaring statistic was the exceptional number of dead and injured. The recent success of the Austrians should not be thought indicative of further success. The conquest of Brabant and the Low Countries was not in prospect. The recovery of the Netherlands would more likely be achieved by negotiation than battle. The French army appeared superior to the Austrian and France was defended at that part of her frontier by a triple row of fortresses.

He thought the expedition to Quiberon Bay had been a farce. The minister gave command of the émigré army to Puisaye although men of acknowledged military ability were available. At that time a considerable body of British troops under Moira might have been committed in the same campaign and, if failure still occurred, the increased fleet of transports used would have provided a means of getting the émigrés out when things went wrong. He thought there was no real prospect of a successful allied campaign on French soil. He reviewed the entire calamity that befell the émigrés.

He next considered the expedition to Ile d’Yeu. Those troops might better have been deployed in Santo Domingo. The fleet might have been more usefully deployed if it had been based at Gibraltar to protect the Mediterranean. The nation and commercial insurers have both suffered unnecessary loss.

Colonel Grosvenor commended the émigré forces on the Waal and the Rhine and their skilled leadership by Sombreuil.

Sergeant defended the Master-General of Ordnance (provision of whose supplies had delayed the West Indian expedition) and noted he was the first Master-General to establish a proper depot of stores at Portsmouth.

Tarleton insisted the delay in sending the West Indian expedition could have been avoided and someone was responsible for it.

Lord Belgrave defended the ministry. A storm had delayed departure for many days, he recalled. The Quiberon Bay expedition was a project of the émigrés themselves and their repeated importuning of the ministry was eventually heard. Ministers were equally appalled at the results as at the expense of war. They wished to reduce annual expenditure from £11 millions to £2 millions (the cost of the peacetime establishment).

Dundas defended the ministry – ‘we feel the cries of the widows and orphans,’ he said. The West Indian expedition had not been delayed, it just took time to prepare. It depended on troops returning from the continent who had to be re-equipped and rested first. Finally all was ready on 10th October and the troops were embarked but the weather turned nasty. We had to wait a long time for a favourable wind. Tarleton says the West Indian force should have been divided but all the Generals to whom Dundas spoke said it should not. It was intended to shock and awe the French not just to reinforce the island garrisons. Now the fleet had been re-equipped and refitted and we are ready to try again.

Grey accused Dundas of pomposity. Everyone knew there had been an unnecessary and criminal delay. The fall of Guadaloupe was known in London in June 1794 and the preparations to reinforce our possessions in West Indies should have commenced on that date – why had it taken 18 months? It is common knowledge that the fleet had to depart in September to avoid the heavy winter weather but it had still not been completely ready on 1st November. If Dundas wants to make an Act of God responsible for the failure he had better explain the delay clearly. Grey also disputed the ministry’s position that it was the émigrés who insisted on the Quiberon Bay expedition. He could find no evidence of that.

He had made a quick review of the estimates and the most impressive thing in them was the colossal expense of the staff. In 1762 (during the Seven Years War), Lord Chatham had raised 67,000 Guards and Garrisons and the relevant staff cost was £58,813. In 1781 (American War) 39,066 Guards and Garrisons were raised and attendant staff expenses were £42,000. In 1788 the figures were 49,419 and £43,000. Now in 1795 Guards and Garrisons number 49,219 and staff costs are £103,640. The staff have an equal number of men to discipline as in 1788 but their cost has doubled. Explain that!

Dundas only addressed the subject of delay. If Guadaloupe was the sole island to be lost we would have sent a reinforcement earlier but then St Lucia had also fallen and we only learned of it in July 1795. In the circumstances the ministry had acted quickly.

Fox supposed that Dundas was talking nonsense. The purpose of the expedition was to reduce Santo Domingo. One of the great calamities of this war has been the furtive way that Ministers concealed their purposes. He expected an enquiry into what had gone wrong at Quiberon Bay so the World would know England had not simply sacrificed thousands of émigrés to the Republic. The first expedition to the French coast had been poorly planned. The second expedition revealed the lessons of the first had not been understood and the men responsible were still there and unable to be of any use in the overall struggle.

He noted the popular wish for peace. He considered, had the émigrés been successful at Quiberon Bay and a footing in France obtained, they would have declared Louis XVIII King and the chance of peace would have faded away. Fox thought no peace with France was in prospect whilst we maintained our war aim of restoring monarchy.

Concerning expenses, Fox recalled Windham had repeatedly criticised the ministry of overspending in the American War. Now expenses were out of control. He wondered why the fencible cavalry was so disproportionately large in comparison to the fencible infantry. He asked the MPs to reflect why that should be so.[109] As there is no prospect of imminent invasion, the fencibles must be there to prevent civil disorder – it can only be one or the other. The creation of a standing army to secure the internal peace of the country was something England had repudiated long ago. He concluded that the fencible cavalry was nothing to do with the war and everything to do with control of the populace and it would have to be continued until ministers regained the confidence of the people.

Fox reviewed the supposed reasons for starting and continuing the war. He found them whimsical and fanciful. The opinion throughout Europe is that England is odious for obstinately continuing war. Every merchant who received correspondence from abroad knew the truth of the case. A general peace would have occurred a year ago had England not objected to it. The King’s minister liked to war.

Dundas merely replied that he had not mentioned the force for Santo Domingo.

Pitt said the war was caused by the aggression of France. We were forced to fight to preserve our religion and government and ‘everything that was near and dear to us.’ We fought to secure the fundamental principles of all government and the continuance of the Constitutional monarchy we have. We are fighting a defensive war for our existence. It is the efforts of this little island that will rescue all the nations of Europe by destroying the unnatural system of equality that France professes. Now the French government is stable and it is possible for us to negotiate with it, we encounter French pride. What have our former allies gained by making peace – are they more secure? What of those German states that are now part of France. None of those occupied lands are exempt from paying French contributions. It is tyranny. It is true that France agrees to reimburse them, presumably from other states once France has conquered them. Are we to recognise a French frontier on the Rhine?

Our inveterate enemy has grown larger and richer and we are supposed to make peace? Our system is a costly system. I regret the expense of war but our own security and existence is at stake. We have destroyed the Jacobin system; all Europe remains independent; our prosperity is increasing; the interests of commerce are being served and French ambitions are contained.

As regards Quiberon Bay, government was persuaded that the expedition would receive co-operation in La Vendée, a spirit of latent loyalty would be expressed there and its flame would spread throughout France. Pitt remained satisfied that the expedition had been a reasonable gamble. He welcomed an enquiry but regrettably could not permit one as it was all secret.

As regards the increased staff cost, he thought this was likely attributable to the increased militia, fencible army and yeomanry. These all needed more supervision than regular troops.

General Smith said he had examined the estimates to the best of his ability. He was aware that England was execrated throughout Europe, that we are accused of using the war to monopolise trade and obtain a comparative national advantage.[110] He did not object to the intention to continue war but its performance was likely to make gold too expensive. He agreed that French conquests would have to be returned as the basis to any workable peace.

The estimates were then voted 80/16 and approved.[111]

Sat 22nd Oct 1796

The House of Commons, 8th April:

General Smith resumed his objections to the army estimates and moved an investigation. The cost of maintaining barracks throughout the country is £1.4 millions and another £300,000 is earmarked. There is a General with 19 officers under him and 46 Barrack Masters who administer this fund. Many of the staff were appointed before any new barracks had been built. There is a chap in Lincoln who has been paid as barrack-master for two years and, now it is decided not to build one there, he has claimed distress and been given a job in the Post Office. Ministers have once again spent the money before coming here to ask for it. Their application for construction of inland forts was rejected and now they build first and ask for the money afterwards. The expenses of this war are double those of the American War. Pitt always criticised Lord North for the American expenses, now we find he is even worse.

Pitt has completed barracks for 34,000 troops, 14,000 more than our customary peacetime establishment. Are we to have a standing army in this country again? It seems the real enemy of the ministry is the British people. Pitt is using money voted for one thing and applying it to something else. Where are the old Constitutional controls? Pitt and George III have united and can do anything.

The Secretary at War (Windham) replied that barrack building commenced in 1790 and in 1792 the House had debated it, after a question from M A Taylor, and the building programme was permitted (as it was not disallowed). The old barracks were built for infantry and were in unsuitable locations. The new barracks are to relieve the innkeepers who have the fencibles billeted on them and who are increasingly closing their inns and assuming other occupations.

An important consideration in deciding to build these new barracks was to protect the troops from the conversation they hear in the inns. Guests talk about democracy and incite rebellion and, in any event, it is undesirable that troops should pass their whole days in public houses.

M A Taylor said the objectionable part of the programme was not the barracks per se but the system of building them near every city throughout the country.

Fox deplored the rationale (to withhold popular opinion from the troops). It is as though the minister wishes to make one party deaf because he has so far failed to make the other party dumb. Is the minister’s fear of democratic infection in the ranks due to the country’s employment of foreigners in the army, he wondered? Fox thought Windham’s contempt for the Law of Nations (the interference in France) was being extended to contempt for the Law of England which required that expenditure must be sanctioned by parliament. If the ministry wished to protect the Constitution it should lead by example.

Pitt recalled that the House had disapproved of soldiers being billeted on public houses but now he provided an alternative it was again disapproved. The House divided and Smith’s motion to investigate was defeated 98/24.

Sat 18th June 1796

News from the London papers:

  • French poverty is allowing the Austrians to assert themselves. They have pushed the French army back across the Rhine and have occupied Mainz. There are 40,000 Austrian troops in Westphalia to assist the Stadtholder’s supporters in Netherlands. The Armee de la Vendée is said to be 80,000 strong and controls the country from Brest to Orleans.
  • France has two ships-of-the-line and four frigates at Smyrna.
  • The Pope has been threatened with assassination in St Peter’s – there are thousands of assassinations in the Papal States each year. He has permitted the British to ship three battalions of troops through his straits to Corsica.
  • Hamilton, the British resident at Naples, has sent an account to the Royal Society detailing the eruptions of Vesuvius since olden days.

Sat 9th July 1796

La Journal Generale, 11th January 1796.

The French diplomats and Deputies who were exchanged for Louis XVI’s daughter have arrived at the National Convention. Camus has reported on their treatment while captive. From 30th March – 29th May 1793 they were in Maastricht. In June and July they were repeatedly moved through a confusing number of places until they arrived at Fribourg.

Camus identified the victory at Jemappe as the cause of Dumouriez’s treason. The General ascribed that victory to his own brilliance. It put Belgium at his mercy but the Belgians did not welcome him so he redirected his efforts against the Dutch. He told Camus “I am accused of being Caesar”. Camus said “In that case I will be Brutus“ and aimed a pistol at him. Dumouriez planned to sell Belgium to the Austrians, to abandon the national volunteers in his army and to divide the National Convention by complaints. The Commissioners ordered him to Lille but he refused to go. To deal with this the War Minister Bournonville and four Commissioners went to Lille where Miranda[112] denounced Dumouriez to them. Camus mentions when Dumouriez captured the Austrian Viceroy of Belgium he seized a chest of gold medals as well. They were supposed to go to the National Treasury but now Camus is at liberty he had checked and they were never received.

As Bournonville’s parliamentary delegation set out for Dumouriez’s camp they were surrounded by Berchiny’s hussars whom Dumouriez had sent ‘as an escort.’ On arrival Dumouriez asked if they had come to arrest him. They said they had come to appraise him of the National Convention’s wish he attend at the legislative chamber. He refused to go, declaimed against Marat and the Jacobins, and ignored the minister and deputies. The deputies tutored Dumouriez on his duties and recalled the example of La Fayette. Dumouriez said France faced ruin and only he could save it. Eventually the deputies decided they could make no headway and drafted an order of suspension on Dumouriez which appointed Valence to succeed him. Dumouriez gathered a group of officers around him. He (and they) refused to be suspended. Dumouriez says his presence in Belgium is necessary for the army – he cannot leave. He ordered the deputies arrested.

The deputies supposed the army would desert Dumouriez, as they had La Fayette, as soon as the situation became known. However, the deputies were ordered to leave camp. Dumouriez instructed his hussars (an escort of about 25 men) to use force if we were unco-operative. Our suite did not abandon us and the whole party then set off. Bournonville attacked the escort single-handedly but was stabbed in the thigh and forced to desist. We arrived at Tournay and Berchiny’s hussars handed us over to La Tour’s Austrian dragoons. The treason was accomplished.

We were introduced to Clairfait, then moved to Mons where we were told we were hostages for the safety of the French Queen – if she died, so would we. We were moved to Brussels where the priests and émigrés abused us. We were sent to Maastricht from whence we sent a Protest to the Emperor (unanswered).

Continued in the next edition …

Drouet, the man who stopped Louis XVI at Varennes, was one of the prisoners. He had been appointed national representative to Mauberge. The town was surrounded by the enemy and no cry for help could get out. Drouet took a small number of cavalrymen and tried to pass through to Paris and alert the National Convention. He was captured, chained and put on display before the Austrian army. He was then taken to General Collerado who said that French promises are worthless – Collerado had released the garrison of Mayence on usual terms (stipulating not to serve against the allies again) but soon after those same soldiers were sent to confront the Émigré army in la Vendée. Collerado sent Drouet to General Latour who was angry and sent him to Brussels to be imprisoned. Drouet remained there while the war turned in France’s favour and the allies were pushed back. Only then was he given proper treatment and transferred to Spielberg. The only route of escape from Spielberg Castle was down a precipitous slope to the river. Drouet made a parachute and jumped. He fell onto a terrace and broke his leg. The sentry saw him and took him back into custody. He was walking on crutches for three months.

Sat 23rd July 1796

London paper – We hear 40,000 Prussians have entered Westphalia and are advancing towards the Netherlands in support of the Stadtholder. It is also rumoured that Spain is on the verge of re-entering the war.

Sat 23rd July 1796

The Empress of Russia died in December 1795.

Sat 23rd July 1796

European news:

  • The Company laid down five hulls in its India Docks in the Thames for its use – Lancaster, Weymouth, York, Monmouth and Ardent – but has now given them to the government. Their design has been modified to make them 64-gun warships.
  • The Dutch fleet that escaped with the Stadtholder (11 capital ships and 7 frigates) is now cruising in the North Sea as part of the Royal Navy.
  • The French are building many new warships:
    at Rochefort there are 2 x 120 guns, 7 x 74 guns, 5 x 50 guns and 2 x 44 guns; at Brest there are 1 x 120 gun, 1 x 90 gun, 6 x 74 guns and 8 x 44 guns.

Sat 30th July 1796

Genoa, 22nd January 1796 – the insurrection on Corsica against Minto’s colonial government is becoming serious. A Corsican regiment in English pay has mutinied at Corte, attacked another British regiment and retired to Bastia. At that town six English officers were recently found murdered.

Sat 30th July 1796

London, 5th February – The presence of Comte d’Artois (Monsieur) in London has become embarrassing. The ministry importuned the King of Sardinia to nominate the Comte as his Ambassador to St James in order to give some diplomatic credence to Monsieur’s presence.

The Sardinian King rejected the proposal which has caused Pitt’s group to aver that Sardinia might make peace with Republican France.

Sat 30th July 1796

The Hague, 3rd March – the Batavian Assembly was convened on 1st March. It was created by a Commission from the States General. Peter Paulus was unanimously elected President. A new flag for the country has been introduced.

Sat 30th July 1796

The 1st anniversary of the execution of Louis XVI has been commemorated in Paris with a party. A colossal statue of liberty trampling the insignia of royalty and slavery was the centrepiece.

The National Convention is constitutionally prevented from assisting in the ceremony but held a private celebration in its own chamber. President Treilliard said Louis’ conspiracy against the sovereignty of the people had deserved death. Who would have thought it might be made the pretext for a formidable alliance of our enemies? England undertook to blockade our ports and cut off our supplies. Austria sent a host of soldiers against our infant Republic.

We had inadequate clothing and few arms but we were motivated by the expectation of freedom – (here is a long review of French victories) – but the enemy was not content to fight on our frontiers. They also excited civil discord within. European monarchs armed citizen against citizen and created discord in the National Convention. By stimulating anarchy amongst our people and exciting the murder of our legislators, our neighbours sought to destroy the Republic and reinstate monarchy. We desire peace and we swear hatred of royalty because the monarchical system is maintained by war.

Sat 6th August 1796

Paris, 31st January – The National Convention has issued some new money. Cash notes payable at three months from 50 – 2,000 livres have been printed and gold and silver coins have been struck at the mint. The silver coins are worth 5 livres each.

Extraordinary, Sun 7th Aug 1796

The Laurel has arrived at Bombay from Basra with despatches for government dated up to 19th April. She has continental newspapers to 12th April and London papers to 26th March.[113]

Short review of the European news:

  • The India Company has agreed to supply government with 3,000 seamen at 35 guineas per head.
  • Letters via Aleppo reporting news to mid-May say the French have comprehensively defeated the Sardinian and Austrian forces in Italy and the Sardinian King has sued for an armistice. The French commander demands possession of the forts of Otranto (not the Otranto in the heel of Italy but another near Milan) and Tortona.
  • The Archduke Charles has arrived at Mainz to commence this season’s war on the Rhine.
  • The Marquis del Campo has been received as Spanish ambassador to Paris.
  • A large Dutch fleet has sailed from the Texel on 23rd February. Its destination is unknown but might be either the Cape or India. A smaller fleet has sailed from Rochefort supposedly for Mauritius (one of this fleet, La Bonne Citoyen, was captured by the English and found to contain troops, clothing and paper money).
  • The Russian Empress, at the time of her death, was assembling a huge army and the Swedes were copying her. They are also preparing a vast fleet.
  • Similar to the French example of Danton concerning labour in West Indies, Wilberforce has proposed to the House of Commons that England abolish the trade in slaves.
  • H M’s 12th, 19th and 33rd regiments are being readied for service in India.
  • Lord Cornwallis has been prosecuted by court-martial for undisclosed offences and acquitted. He has resigned as Head of Ordnance and retired to his estate.

Sat 13th Aug 1796

Paris – the assignats have been called in and are replaced at a rate of 30/1 by 2,400 million in mandats. This new paper money is secured on the value of the national estates, some of which are to be sold to raise 600 million livres to provide a bullion backing to the new paper issue. Forests of 300+ acres and buildings are not for sale. Gold and silver may no longer be traded in France.

Sat 27th Aug 1796

The Spanish ambassador to France has been received at Paris and the French ambassador to Constantinople (Brigadier General Aubert Dubayet) took his leave of the Legislators and departed for Turkey the same day.

Sat 27th Aug 1796

Burke has defended his acceptance of a pension to the MPs:

The Duke of Bedford and Earl of Lauderdale have honoured me. To incur the displeasure of a Duke of Orleans or a Duke of Bedford is like falling under the censure of Brissot or his friend Lord Lauderdale.

I work hard for what the King pays me. Before his help, I had quitted public life and retired to isolated contemplation. I had no money to do otherwise. He called me back and gave me his patronage. In the circumstances, I could hardly support the Duke of Bedford or the Corresponding Societies.

Bedford thinks I am overly rewarded. I am as well qualified as he to control vast sums of money. I introduced the Acts to control the expenditure of the Military Pay Office and the Civil List establishment. These reforms were not in the character of those the Duke promotes today. He knows the people are dissatisfied and he seeks to give them what they want. He is a reformer. He is not concerned to preserve the state so much as to reform it. The Duke supposes the people must be gratified.

I found there was too much influence in the House of Commons and reduced it article by article with clear reasons. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I am neither minion nor tool. I have had to daily evidence my fitness for the honour of being useful to my country.

The Duke of Bedford accuses me of instigating the present war. My honour welcomes the high distinction which in justice I cannot claim. That honour belongs to the King, his minister and his parliament, and to the great majority of his people. Had I alone counselled the nation, I should have been the author of the war, but it was not so. I will never make peace with regicides.

Sat 3rd Sept 1796

Paris – four factions appear to have formed in the Legislature and they were readily distinguished during the recent debate on the freedom of the press. The Girondists and Terrorists under Sieyès, Chenier and Louvet opposed press freedom whilst the Thermidorians and the newly elected Third Estate under Boissy d’Anglas, Tallien, Posteret and Lemerer supported it. The latter factions won. This was not what the Directory wanted to hear.

On 17th March Lemerer, a member of the Third Estate, said ‘the press is accused of denigrating government. Government employs many writers whose supportive views are widely circulated. It has 120,000 men under its direct orders – does not a soldier act for the man who pays him? The immense number of military commissions granted should not be forgotten. The sixteen departments should not be forgotten – they have been declared in a state of siege, removed from the protection of the Constitution and instead placed under the will of the Directory. If the Directory had succeeded in fettering the press, we men of the legislature would have to submit to it.

Sat 3rd Sept 1796

Letter from Leghorn, 1st March:

The island of Sardinia has rebelled. The people of Cagliari have massacred their General and the Intendant of Finances and declared a provisional government. They have dismissed all foreigners and permitted only those troops who took the Oath of Allegiance to their newly elected Head of the People, to remain. They have sent deputies to the King to demand their rights and they are dissatisfied with the response. The King’s Viceroy is permitted to remain but not to exercise any Power. The towns of the interior submit to the Popular Council and ignore the Viceroy.

Only the town of Sassari continued to acknowledge the King and that was because the Duke of Asinara bought-off all the important residents twice. The lawyer Mondi is organising the Sardinians against Sassari. He brought 12,000 farmers to the walls of the town and, when the Sassarians would not let him in, he commenced destroying all the crops in the fields to deny them a harvest. The Governor of Sassari argued for admitting the rabble and reasoning with them. The bishop, clergy and minor nobility disagreed but the Governor was insistent.

He let them in and he and all the prominent people were arrested and sent off to Cagliari to explain themselves. About 40 families left Sarrari at that time. After their departure a popular government was proclaimed at Sarrari along the same lines as at Cagliari. The very few nobles and clergymen on the island who remain true to the King have reposed their hopes in the English to provide troops from Leghorn and restore the monarchy.

Two deputies from Sardinia attended the French ambassador at Genoa for numerous conferences during February and have since left for Paris to make their case there.

Sat 3rd Sept 1796

Cadiz, 2nd March – the Spanish Royal Family arrived here today from Seville. The streets are all decorated and bands are playing. There are bull fights each day and illuminations at night. The giant warship Santassima Trinidad (132) is in the bay and the Royals went on board to observe the proceedings. A mock sea battle was held for their amusement.

Sat 3rd Sept 1796

The House of Commons, 4th March:

  • The Lords have agreed to a request of the Commons to vote the King £2.5 millions for this year.
  • Curwen proposed the repeal of the game laws to permit the rural population to better feed themselves (by eating game or bringing it to market). Every legal authority agrees the Game Laws are unjust – they are a remnant of the feudal system.
    Prior to the Norman Conquest every Englishman might legally catch game – now wild birds and animals belong to the landowner and the poor are excluded from their use. These laws are a blot on British liberty, Curwen said. The proposal was voted down 27/50.

Sat 1st Oct 1796

Letter from Hamburg, 8th March:

Grouvelle, the French minister to Copenhagen, was received by the King on 4th March and his credentials were accepted. The diplomatic community at Copenhagen has been informed. It is rumoured that the first Danish minister to Paris will be Dreyer, the Privy Councillor, who has recently been serving as ambassador to Madrid.

The Danish newspapers justify Grouvelle’s acceptance on the grounds “the Danish government is motivated only by reason and truth. While France was under a revolutionary government it could not be Danish policy to make or sustain a diplomatic relationship. Now the French government is regularly organised, all difficulties are removed. This acceptance is a response to circumstances and conforms with our long held policy of strict neutrality.”

The French minister here at Hamburg is Reinhard but the city’s Senate is reluctant to acknowledge him. They say the relationship is commercial and a Consul is sufficient to regulate it. The Hamburg authorities are caught between their fear of Austria and of France. All the burghers were summoned to assemble on 10th March and decide this matter finally but the summons to assemble has just been rescinded.

We merchants need a friendly disposal of this question or our trade will be affected. Several underwriters have declined to insure our ships saying the French might take them as prize. A pamphlet in support of Reinhard, ‘A word to Hamburg’s Burghers’, has just been published but its circulation is being suppressed by the Senate.

Orostro, the ex Charge d’Affaires of Spain at Vienna, has been appointed minister to this city (Hamburg).

The King of Prussia has asked the French, in the event of a new war, that they respect the neutrality of northern Germany.

Sat 3rd Sept 1796

Review of the Paris Press in late March 1796:

  • A letter from Caen of 21st March says the Chouans continue to control the surrounding countryside and kill any peasants they find tilling the soil. There is a lack of Republican troops to confront and oppose them. They sneak around in bands of 40 – 50 men preventing farming, killing the purchasers of national property (the confiscated lands) and any civil servants they find. They intercept most of the communications into and out of the town.
  • General Jourdain has dismissed 1,140 officers from his army for illiteracy.
  • Stock-jobbing has become a whimsical employment. Some speculators retain their assignats hoping they will again become valuable; others seek to sell their gold Louis d’Ors whilst their sale is still permitted.
  • A letter from Landau dated 21st March says the Austrian and French Generals at the front have agreed a separation of 30 leagues between their forces to prevent misunderstandings. As a result the Austrians have retired east and recrossed the Rhine.
  • General Pichegru has attended the National Feast of 30th March in Paris. He has had an interview with the Directorate who welcomed him. He is considered to be the cause of the peace. A treaty with Austria is pending. The Emperor’s negotiator was on the point of concluding a broad agreement for peace when an envoy arrived from Basel saying the English had raised objections.
  • A gentleman was arrested on stepping ashore at Bordeaux from a ship from Bremen. He is said to be the Royalist Duc de Polignac.
  • A current report says Merlin of Douai, the Police Minister, is to be made Ambassador to Venice.

Sat 17th Sept 1796

General Colli, commanding the army of Sardinia, has proposed an armistice to General Bonaparte, commanding the French army in Italy, to permit the King of Sardinia to send a Plenipotentiary to Genoa to negotiate peace.

Bonaparte replied that the Directory alone can make peace. Your King’s Plenipotentiary should either go to Paris or wait at Genoa for French representatives to come to him there. I cannot stay my progress for speculative reasons. I can accept your proposal for an armistice if you first give me possession of two of the three fortresses Coni, Alessandria and Tortona.

General Colli replied that he asked the King and is allowed to offer Coni and Tortona as security however giving Tortona could jeopardise the disposition of the Sardinian army and he prefers to offer Desnout in its place, the status quo being observed in every other respect.

A missing paper is referred to that indicates Bonaparte will accept only the towns and fortresses of Coni and Alessandria and the citadel of Ceva.

On this being accepted, an armistice was signed on 26th April, to permit negotiations

Sat 24th Sept 1796

Letter from Genoa:

  • General Bonaparte’s army arrived outside this city in early April. No foreign soldiers are permitted into this city. All new residents who arrived in 1792 or later must leave. The nobility and gentry are also permitted to leave if they wish. The clergy in the suburbs have been assembled in the city. All public assemblies of more than three people are banned. The residents have been formed into militias and 12,000 farmers have been recruited. 2,000 irregulars have been sent to defend Lanterne and St Benigny. The English frigate Agamemnon has just arrived in port and says a British fleet is on its way. The new French minister Faypoul has just arrived with his lady. A huge number of citizens are wearing the tricolor cockade. The rich merchants have sent their movable property to Tuscany. Forty senators, who protested at providing money to France, left with their cash and jewels for Turin but found that town in insurrection and diverted to Milan where they are being welcomed by the Archduke Ferdinand who is trying to quell the Turin insurrection and has arrested some ringleaders.
  • The late quarrel between Russia and Turkey is likely to force Spain to oppose Russia as well. The Spanish are determined to keep Russia out of the Mediterranean. They believe the Tsarina’s intent by this war with Turkey is to secure a foothold on the coast of the eastern Mediterranean. The Spanish and the Venetians are both likely to send fleets in support of Turkey. Venice is the only valuable property between the Ottoman Empire and Italy and its independence is crucial to the latter’s security.
  • French military dispositions permit Venice to assume an important role in this matter. In the event of hostilities, it is rumoured France will garrison the archipelago. The rich valley of the Po which comprises the hinterland to Venice, is secured at its western end by Milan. The possession of this city is the likely object of the French army of Italy. Milan has a history of 40 sieges, of which 22 were successful. The citadel contains 200 cannon. The merchants are rich and the local lands are productive. Bonaparte recently forced the King of Sardinia to surrender two fortresses, the most important of which is Coni, one of the most impregnable forts of Europe.
  • The Tsarina has declined to receive a Swedish ambassador at St Petersburg. He was sent to notify the impending marriage of the young Swedish King. The Swedish Regent has formed a close liaison with France during the King’s minority which the Russian Empress deeply dislikes.

Sat 15th Oct 1796

Letter from a staff officer of the French Republican Army of the Coast to his father, dated Angers 27th March:

Charette arrived here yesterday. He is tall and stupid-looking and his clothes are filthy. He was found in a forest with 50 followers. Our column under General Valentine engaged him and killed 10-12 of his group (including the German who conducted the massacres). Charette withdrew but fell into the hands of Travot who brought him in. All his party were killed at the scene.

General Hoche was away and Charette was brought to General Hedouville to deal with. Charette says he knows nothing of English plans. That evening he was sent to Nantes for trial and execution. It seemed appropriate that the theatre of his violence should be the scene of his death.

We have recently captured a huge bundle of correspondence near St Malo. It is between the English and the émigrés. The letters are mainly addressed to Charette and to the leaders of the Chouans and Vendean forces. They expose English plans and will hasten our impending victory.

Charette had a pocket book containing some letters. Three were from Louis XVIII at Verona, one of which said the King appointed him Lt General of the Royalist Catholic army. Another letter was from Comte d’Antraigues. The numbers of Republican forces in La Vendée assures that the remaining bands of émigrés and deserters will soon be dispersed. This is the country of Stofflet and Sapineau, two famous bandit chiefs and of those Chouans who have been brought from England by Bourmont.

Sat 22nd Oct 1796

The examination of Lt General Charette has been published in Paris on 30th April. It was conducted by Pierre Perrin at the Boussay Prison in Nantes:

Francois Athanase Charette de la Contrie is 33 years old and a native of Coussay in Lower Loire. He was a lieutenant in the navy before the Revolution. He was appointed a Lt General of the Royalist army by Louis XVIII in Sept 1795. He received the appointment from M Lefevre, an émigré in the service of England. He is not directly in communication with Louis XVIII but received letters via the Council of Comte d’Artois with whom he has corresponded for 8 months.

He says his purpose in accepting the command of the Chouan army was to re-establish monarchy in France. At the general reconciliation held in Nantes he, amongst others, formally accepted the proffered amnesty and submitted to the laws of the Republic but his agreement was conditional on the Republic not undertaking any military activities in La Vendée. The agreement he made with the Republican government made him chief of the territorial guard responsible for maintaining order in the rebellious area. He says he was not in revolt until the Republicans broke their engagement to him.

Sat 24th Sept 1796

France 1st April – General Charette of the Royalist Chouan army has been executed. He was caught in late March and taken to Nantes. He was put on public trial and made some interesting observations in his evidence. He was defended by Villeneuve who said Charette had been a lieutenant in the navy and then been caught-up in political events by his colleagues and eventually became a chief of a party. All those who were senior to him in the party had died and he had risen to the top by this process of attrition. He is not a well educated man.

Villeneuve says Charette repudiated the amnesty granted him by the Republic because he heard the Deputy Gaudin was using the opportunity to send a military force to arrest Charette. He said he had received only 15,000 livres from the English. He corresponded with them whilst they were based on the Ile d’Yeu. They also sent him arms and ammunition. The Comtes d’Artois and d’Antraigues sent him a cipher to permit secure communications. Louis XVIII awarded him the brevet appointment of Lt General.

He complained a Republican general had written to him a couple of days before his arrest, promising sanctuary provided he leave France, and he was caught as a result of this trap. He requested the letter of that General be presented in evidence and indicated where it was but the Judges declined to order its production. He was then sentenced to die and taken to the execution ground where 5,000 troops were arranged on three sides of a square. He was placed on the fourth (open) side and shot.

Sat 10th Sept 1796

News from London:

  • The six gentlemen successfully elected to the Company’s Court of Directors this year include David Scott as the new Chairman and Hugh Inglis as the new Deputy Chairman.
  • The great import of grain into England in the last ten days (i.e. mid-May 1796) has reduced the price of a quartern loaf from 15d to 7½d.

Sat 10th Sept 1796

The King addressed both Houses on 19th May:

“Thank you for repressing sedition and alleviating the shortage of grain. It is a pleasure to see these difficulties have abated. I also thank you for the liberal payments provided for the prosecution of the war. It is a pleasure to observe the increase of resources of England that have permitted the payments. They result from the extension of our navigation and commerce, the improvement you have worked in the public credit and the reduction of the national debt.

“The French have opposed civilisation and the union of Order with Liberty that characterises our country. The French system is incompatible with ours and your conduct has preserved our Constitution. Your resistance to French principles is a just cause. Our national honour is maintained throughout Europe and our superior naval Power has established British hegemony around the globe. I am much obliged. Parliament is now prorogued until 5th July.”

Sat 10th Sept 1796

The British army is presently composed of the following numbers of regiments:

Life Guards


Horse Guards


Dragoon Guards


Heavy Dragoons


Light Dragoons


Foot Guards




Unnumbered infantry corps


These 154 regiments represent 16,500 cavalry, 88,000 infantry and four battalions of artillery, totally c. 110,000 effectives, exclusive of the fencibles (cavalry and infantry) and the militias. There are also 12,000 Hanoverian and 5,000 Hessian mercenaries under our army establishment.

Sat 10th Sept 1796

European news to 27th May:

  • Sardinia has made peace with France. It is the result of two serious defeats on successive days that the King of Sardinia and the Austrian forces sustained in April at the hands of General Bonaparte. The battles were fought east of Turin about midway between Genoa and Milan. Bonaparte says ‘Citizen Murat, my aide-de-camp, was very helpful’.
  • The peace treaty gives France possession of Savoy and the Comtat of Nice. The Duke of Parma and Placentia has allied himself with the French. French armies have since crossed the River Po, the frontier of Austrian Lombardy, and stationed themselves at Placentia.
  • The Directory has informed the French Legislature that it has reason to suspect Drouet, the ex-postmaster of Varennes who arrested the King, of planning to instigate a Jacobin insurrection to remove the Directory and the 500 representatives.
  • The Indefatigable (Sir Edward Pellow) has captured the French frigate La Virginie (44). She was built about 2 years ago in America and rigged in the new way which made her the fastest ship in the French fleet. La Virginie has been cruising off the Canadian coast and captured at least four Newfoundland ships.[114]
  • The hereditary Princess of Orange and her son have arrived at Yarmouth.

Sat 24th Sept 1796

Paris, 17th April – Letournier, President of the Directory, has proclaimed a new danger to the Republic:

“Foreign infiltrators are promoting the old Constitution of 1793 through Jacobin clubs. Their supporters declare their wish to destroy the Republican Constitution and government and reinstate the old contract which requires the distribution of all property amongst the people generally, even down to shops. If they are successful, there will be another round of executions and strife and the country will be so weakened we will be unable to prevail over our enemies and monarchy will be re-introduced by the back door.

“On the one hand the English say they wish for peace whilst on the other they finance the distribution of these insurrectionary pamphlets that endeavour to destroy confidence in our national finances and assert the old Constitution as the best means of preserving the national wealth.

“Misguided people have assisted the old émigrés, the resident Royalists and priests, to attempt these ends but we acknowledge and respect all patriots and we wish to bring these people to an understanding of what is best for France.

“Foreigners have tried to propagate dissension amongst the rebellious groups but La Vendée is disarmed; L’Indre and Le Cher were prevented from rebellion as soon as the instigators were caught attempting it; the Chouans are being beaten everywhere they try to foment trouble. Our armies are again deployed to tackle these internal disorders and severe measures will be taken against the nobles and priests who do not desist from their divisive activities.

“The Directory loves patriots and welcomes them into the bosom of France. We do not want Frenchmen fighting Frenchmen. Forget the promises that the tyrants offer you – to evaluate their promises you should remember the condition of France under their government. It is this Republican government that can alone give you order and tranquillity and protect your property.”

Sat 24th Sept 1796

Le Redacteur, 10th May (the official government paper):

“A faction is trying to prevent peace, overturn the Republican government and restore monarchy. The new divisive ideology does not overtly promote monarchy or religion but, astonishingly, democracy. The rebels say they are more democratic than the Republican government. Your government has banished some of the heads of this faction from Paris and sent away those army units that appeared persuaded to support them, but a numerous band of conspirators in the pay of foreigners continues to promote these fatal ends.

“The Directory has now filled the National Guard with good citizens as a force to awe the rebellious and comfort the obedient. It is the Republican government that is protecting you from these dangers. You citizens of Paris are being saved by us from further massacres and plunderings.

“The Directory has announced the arrests of several conspirators to the National Convention. A revolt was intended to be commenced 11th May and has been prevented by strong executive action. We regret to say Drouet was discovered to be a leader of the rebels and had to be arrested too. Please consider the matter and empower the Directory appropriately to frustrate this rebellion.

“The rebels have united around a gang of ex-Deputies, removed from office for various good reasons, together with the disaffected men of disbanded military units. These people roam Paris pursuing their personal advantage. The Directory believes new law is necessary to control them. Those ex-Deputies and soldiers who have no employment in Paris should be required to leave. Those returned émigrés, those foreigners who are not diplomats and who have come to reside here only recently – they also should all be required to leave in three days. They must withdraw at least 10 leagues from Paris. Please find a means of distinguishing the good from the bad so order may be preserved along with justice.” Sgd Carnot President and Lagarde Secretary General.

Sat 1st Oct 1796

The King of Prussia is a dedicated capitalist. Last year he sold his 4,000 French prisoners to the allies to be incorporated in the émigré regiments. This year, having made peace and reduced his cavalry regiments, he has sold 10,000 horses to a Jewish contractor who will sell them on to the French government. Supplying both sides is a good way to maintain a war.

Sat 8th Oct 1796

Journal de Frankfurt, Paris 11th May – Drouet, who was long detained by the Austrians and only recently exchanged, has almost immediately been implicated in a plot to blow-up the Directory and seize control of the government. Several famous Jacobins are said to be involved – Babeuf, editor of the Tribune of the People, Laignelot and Ricord, members of the old National Convention, Darthes and Germaine, secretaries of Bouchotte, ex-General Rossignol and the secretary of the late Joseph Lebon together with Challes and Antonelle, joint editors of the Journal des Hommes Libres – and have all been arrested. The ex-Constitutionals Vadier and Amar escaped and are being sought.

A bundle of 35,000 pamphlets entitled Death to Tyrants, Happiness to the People was found. A seal engraved ‘Constitution of 1793’ on one side and ‘Committee of Public Welfare’ on the other was also seized. The plot was financed with 12 millions in Mandats and 12,000 livres cash. Enquiries into the source of the funds are continuing. Once the arrests had been made the Directory met and the following proclamation was issued:

“A plot to murder all the Legislators and the senior officers of the government and army has been discovered. The conspirators proposed to achieve this before declaring the Constitution of 1793. In the ensuing chaos they planned to encourage looting and violence and make Paris anarchic. You are commended to attend to your usual concerns and abandon these wretches to the legal process.”

Sat 15th Oct 1796

The House of Commons, 18th April – Sheridan requested Windham to reveal the contents of the letter which the ministry had received from the émigré Comte Charles de Sombreuil (the émigré officer who led the invasion of Brittany. He was captured and executed). The ministers had said it was a private letter but an unauthorised publication in the London papers suggested it contained exclusively public arguments.

Sombreuil’s first letter, dated HMS John, 8th July at Portsmouth Roads, said:

“I don’t know where you are sending me with these troops, or how we are to be fed or conduct ourselves. I have no ammunition and no agreed means of communication with you. I should appreciate the secondment of a bi-lingual officer from the Inspectorate who will assist in translating your documents.”

The second letter to Windham says:

“I have written all the information in my possession to Sir John Warren who will acquaint you with our circumstances. Please pay the bearer 500 livres to be disbursed amongst my servants. I feel I have abandoned them but not they me. You will not lose by payment – I have lost several of your government securities which will never be drawn.”

Windham said ‘I did my best to stop de Sombreuil going but he was implacable. He said he could not ignore a call of honour.’

General Smith said Puisaie, the CiC of the army, was unworthy of command. It was likely that de Sombreuil requested his letters be published to exonerate himself from the failure of the expedition.

Fox deplored the ministry’s attempt to conceal an honourable man’s letter and, by doing so, leave him suspected of dishonour.

Pitt said the Quiberon Bay expedition had been planned before de Sombreuil came to London.

Sat 29th Oct 1796

The Elector Hanover and the Duke of Wurtemberg have recruited a new force of mercenaries from amongst the people of their Electorates and sent them to Gibraltar to reinforce the British garrison there. It is feared that Gibraltar may be besieged by Spain soon.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. A reference to the sale of gunpowder to their besiegers by the Dutch merchants of a town, possibly in 1654.
  2. The Prince of Wales’ Catholic wife, recently repudiated at the King’s command.
  3. The CPS has been repeatedly mentioned above but this is the first occasion that the structure of the revolutionary government has been described in the newspaper. It should be noted that it was the published papers of the CPS that made the war a democratic cause and fed the feelings of proud nationalism in France.
  4. The Duke of Leeds is an important borough-monger and owns a stable of MPs. His assertion of British freedom appears jaundiced.
  5. The island of Sicily and the foot of Italy below the Papal states comprises his kingdom. His capital is Naples, one of the largest cities in Europe.
  6. The opening of the sluices around Ostend made that area agriculturally barren and it remained so for the rest of the long war. The Dutch wished to restrict British employment of such measures.
  7. The Stadtholder’s enjoyment of British protection requires he provide a letter to Dutch colonial governors ordering them to surrender their colonies to the British. A similar measure of British control was assumed over Portuguese colonies when Britain assumed the government of that country in 1808.
  8. See the Dissent chapter for the suppression of free speech during the war.
  9. He was a shoemaker and iron worker and ultimately Secretary of the London Corresponding Society whence his requests for political reform led to his prosecution.
  10. The apparent cause of Wilberforce’s secession from government.
  11. The 1st Earl of Chatham died in 1778. Windham must be referring to the American Revolution. At this time John Pitt, William Pitt’s elder brother, was 2nd Earl. In any event, I have been unable to find a trace of this book. It appears to have been lost.
  12. See the Slavery chapter for French emancipation of her slaves, an initiative that Danton supposed would kill Pitt. It caused instability in British slave-owning economies in West Indies and required force and funds to contain. John Nicholls in his ‘Recollections’ valued the cost to Britain in attempting to unseat the slave government of Santo Domingo at £20 millions and 20,000 soldiers’ lives.
  13. A new regulation denies pay to French seamen whilst they are in port.
  14. See the Asia chapters – the problem is prize-taking by privateers based on Mauritius. The merchant ships of British India are unprotected. The reference to ‘the wooden walls of England’ derives from the Delphic Oracle’s advice to the Athenians at the outset of the Persian War ” … far-seeing Zeus gives you a wall of wood”
  15. This must be a reference to the de Meuron regiment which was incorporated in the Company’s Madras Army after the British occupation of Ceylon. de Meuron is a Royalist but his troops do not adopt the Bourbon view.
  16. The French Decree emancipating the slaves is the difficulty. All the disorder that has been caused in West Indies is now the problem of Britain since she occupied the European colonies there. The main French colony in Asia is Mauritius. If the slaves are emancipated there, it is expected that the same disorder as was experienced in the Antilles will arise, hence the wish to administer the colony with non-Jacobin representatives. See the Asian chapters for better details of the generally convivial relationship that Mauritius achieves with the English East India Company.
  17. The House of Lords is comprised of landed aristocrats, mostly hereditary, and bishops. They owe their titles and positions to the King. Their interests are His interests. The King owned seats in the Commons and His nobles owned many more, some details of which appear in the Political Management chapter of this work. With control of the Lords and a majority in the Commons, the King and his Minister do as they chose. Only a few of the nobility, notably the glorious Houses of Bedford, Norfolk and the Grey family of Northumberland, consider the broader interests of the country.
  18. This is Philippe D’Auvergne who has been appointed Governor of Jersey by Pitt. He collects Bourbon supporters to his island and unsettles the French coastal populace with frequent assaults.
  19. The Editor receives a few uncomplimentary letters, probably from Indian army officers, concerning the dispute with Dundas over Cornwallis’ negotiations for the proposed combined British / Indian army. This is one of them.
  20. Popham becomes a British war hero with involvement in many commercial aspects of war inter alia in smuggling, both attacks on Copenhagen, the invasion of Buenos Aires and the attempted purchase of Cuba. Dundas protects him and gave him ‘carte blanche’ to act internationally as he saw fit. Popham appears frequently and I have made a dedicated chapter of those articles mentioning him.
  21. Taking-on the ‘shipping interest’ is not something the Company would choose to do itself.
  22. This and the previous article suggest a FrancoDutch intent to convert the Scheldt, a popular British smuggling route into N W Europe, as an overt trading river.
  23. The polite version of ‘do as I say or I’ll hit you’ that has characterised foreign relations since 1815. It was most recently published by President G W Bush in collecting support for the Iraq invasion.
  24. Throughout this work the Ottoman ruler is called the Porte
  25. The President is supposed to change every five years but the popular wish is for Washington to continue President for life, something he avoided by retiring from the office in 1797 thus maintaining the Presidency as an elected office.
  26. These Constitutional provisions seem to effectively destroy the ‘French principles’ argument of the British ministry but that argument continues to appear in historical texts. It is the subsequent sentences, particularly the illegality of master / servant relationships, and the opening of all types of business to the people, that Britain resists.
  27. This was the clause used by the Prussians to seek for peace – see below.
  28. Mainly Wais for Hesse Cassel, Kappler for Darmstadt, the Zurich lawyer Meisner for Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel and another hired representative, Deodati, for Mecklenburg.
  29. Owners of German states in the Austrian Empire have a Constitutional right to war or not to war which George III has exercised in respect of Hanover.
  30. The Du Pont family will shortly emigrate to USA and commence business as gunpowder manufacturers using the new technique developed in France. Their second achievement is in obtaining concessionary commercial legislation from the State of Delaware for companies registered there.
  31. Ultimately this was Pitt’s entire strategy. The King’s concern was primarily for the institution of monarchy – he related the loss of the war with the loss of his crown, possibly his life – and he would fight to the bitter end. To address the King’s concerns and satisfy the capitalists on whom he relied for funding, Pitt’s strategy became commercial war. The British diplomat Perceval had said long before ‘all war is a contention of purse’ – Pitt made that lucidly clear. This was the beginning of the rise to national political power than City capitalists and their correspondents have since achieved
  32. It appears the Navy considers the Antilles as West Indies and Jamaica as a separate theatre.
  33. The Stadtholder’s letter was immensely valuable to Britain by easing the assumption of British sovereignty over most Dutch colonies. It was only where Dutch commercial interests were precedent to Dutch government interests, as in the VOC’s domains – particularly Ceylon and Java – that resistance arose.
  34. From the little published information it appears dragooning was generally restricted to public houses. It was ultimately replaced by the construction of barracks near every population centre.
  35. The ownership and maintenance of a horse is expensive. It is attractive to rich young men, very much as fast cars are today. The fencible cavalry is composed of the sons of the owning class.
  36. The accusation of aggrandisement that British ministers routinely made against France.
  37. From the people taking part in the debate it appears that mainly military MPs attended. This may be like the debates on the India Company which are attended by 60 – 100 MPs a majority of whom are Directors / Shareholders / Contractors of the India Company. It appears undeniable that the armed forces and the King’s Chartered Companies all legislated for themselves.
  38. See the South America chapter for many details of Miranda’s life.
  39. The London papers are always received at Bombay later than the continental papers, perhaps indicative of a Company policy in London.
  40. It is the speed of French sailing that tends to mitigate English numerical advantage in sea battles – French frigates are difficult to engage, due to the clever arrangement of their rigging which (I believe) has been copied from the Americans.

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