Europe 1796-1802 – part 3

Sat 29th Oct 1796

On the approach of Bonaparte’s Army of Italy, the Republic of Venice expelled Louis XVIII from Verona without notice and he spent 7 days travelling through frozen terrain over the St Gotthard Pass to the Prince of Condé’s émigré army at Riegel. He was accompanied by the Duc de Fleury, Comte d’Avary and Viscount d’Agoulte. On his arrival on 29th April, the Prince of Condé notified Wickham and Crawfurd, the two British envoys to the émigré army, who were surprised.

The King embraced his nephew the Duc de Berry. He presented the sword of Henri IV to the Prince of Condé. He published a note in General Orders extolling Condé and recognising the generous support of the Austrian and British Kings. The King then chatted with all the émigré officers who were delighted by his arrival.

Sat 12th Nov 1796

Citizen Derche of the Foreign Ministry has published a justification for France keeping her eastern frontier on the Rhine. He shows the need for a strong barrier against Austria (‘one of the despoilers of Poland,’ he says) and that France can claim the lands west of the Rhine as indemnity for the war we have been forced to wage against the autocrats. The people in the newly occupied lands are to be fellow citizens, not 2nd class subjects. Their rich lands have been a constant source of strength to those who attack us. This danger must be addressed.

We should all be constantly aware of what the autocrats have done to Poland. We must take care that peace negotiations with monarchies like Austria are not merely to let them refresh themselves. The French Republic should enforce a higher standard of international morality. We offer the people of Europe a real guarantee that our borders on the Rhine, Alps and Pyrenees are permanent and will never be extended.

If we return to our former limits, the benefits of the Netherlands alliance will be lost; that country will be exposed to subjection again; gold will again flow into France to finance anarchy.

Derche considers that without strong frontiers, France will be forever open to English conspiracies to foment civil war. The war itself is the work of émigrés and their guilty flight was no loss but the salvation of our body politic.

Sat 26th Nov 1796

Queen Donna Maria of Portugal, on the advice of her Board of Commerce, Agriculture, Industry and Navigation, has on 13th May offered to open Junqueira near Lisbon as a free port (except sugar and tobacco) effective 1st January 1797 for the trade of Eastern goods into her country or for export.

The sole duty on re-exports is 1%; on imports the usual rates. Meats, grain and other foods continue to be imported duty-free and may be re-exported duty-free as well. These regulations will apply even if Portugal is at war.

Sat 26th Nov 1796

On 7th July eight Chouan officers of the army of General de Sombrieul arrived at Dover. Without British support they cannot win the civil war in France. The Republican general who defeated them offered to reinstate them in their estates but these eight preferred to withdraw. The Chouan officers have exhorted their men to cease fighting and their army has dispersed. Peace is restored on both banks of the Loire and in Anjou.

Wed 30th Nov 1796 Extraordinary

A Dutch fleet arrived at the Cape in early August and surrendered to the British. It was supposed to meet-up with a French fleet and re-occupy Capetown but they did not meet and the British fleet opposed them at sea whilst a British army denied them to land. They anchored in Saldanha Bay and Elphinstone’s fleet approached which, it is said, they mistook for the French.

Rear Admiral Lucas manned the yards and saluted whereupon Elphinstone unfurled British colours. Lucas surrendered on 17th August without firing a shot. Admiral Lucas commanded the Dutch with 3 capital ships, 5 frigates, a sloop and a large storeship loaded with supplies and a battering train for the reduction of the Capetown fort. A large number of his sailors, who include many Swedes and Danes, then agreed to enter British service.

The strange thing is that Lucas supposedly expected to connect with the French Admiral Richery but that officer sailed from Cadiz and went cruising in the Mediterranean a few days before the Dutch were captured at the Cape. It seems he was unaware of the plan – Anglophile Hollanders in the Dutch navy?

This failed invasion appears to have been intended to be a major FrancoDutch attempt to recover the Cape and re-open the route to eastern seas for their navy and commerce. Now, they will have to find another way to the East.

Wed 30th Nov 1796 Extraordinary

News from Europe:

  • The initial AustroGerman successes on the Rhine have been reversed. The French right under General Moreau has reached Augsburg; the French left under General Jourdain has taken Frankfurt and arrived at Nuremberg.
  • The Duke of Wurtemburg has made peace with France. He has surrendered all his lands west of the Rhine and guaranteed not to assist the coalition of Kings. French troops will occupy all his military posts and may traverse his country on application.[115] The Swabians have withdrawn from the German Confederation and also made peace. They negotiated the terms at the Congress of Augsburg in early August.
  • Lord Bute, our ambassador to Madrid, has been recalled and it appears Spain will very soon declare war on England. The Spanish King has itemised 63 separate complaints against England. A combined fleet of French and Spanish warships has departed Cadiz.
  • In Italy, General Bonaparte has headquartered himself at Belzano in the Tyrol and General Wurmser has retreated out of the country with the Austrian army.
  • Louis XVIII was looking out of the window of an inn at Dellingen in the lands of the Elector of Treves at about 10pm on 19th July when a fellow in the opposite house shot at him with a carbine. The bullet hit the King on the head and fortunately caused no serious injury.
  • The India fleet from Bombay has arrived safely in London. Bombay merchants had 1½ million Rupees invested in it of which a million was insured with the Bombay Insurance Office.

Wed 30th Nov 1796 Extraordinary

The Spanish ambassador to St James, Marquis de las Casas, has presented Lord Grenville with the list of 63 Spanish complaints against Britain which have arisen since she made peace with France. The principal ones are:

  • The Santa Jago was illegally taken as prize;
  • At Toulon the Spanish commanders gave guarantees to the Toulonese on evacuating the town which British commanders declined to honour, specifically we took all the French prizes without sharing them;
  • A huge quantity of timber bought in the Baltic by British merchants on Spanish account was not delivered to buyers but kept in England and allowed to rot;[116]
  • When the French gained possession of the major Spanish foundries, Spain, with British agreement, brought its replacement arms and ammunition in England. Having paid for the order, the British government embargoed the export and repurchased the goods at its own cheap valuation;
  • The insulting behaviour of Grenville to the Marquis de las Casas on his first interview;
  • Spanish merchants bought silk at Cadiz from the prizes of French Admiral Richery and sent their purchases to England, as the British requested, where they were confiscated; and
  • The vexatious daily stopping and searching of Spanish merchant ships by British squadrons in the Mediterranean.

de las Casas has retired to Bath to await Grenville’s response. If unsuitable, he will leave for Spain from Bristol. The important officers of his suite have already obtained passports for their departure.

Wed 30th Nov 1796 Extraordinary

HMS Gratton (Trollope) encountered and engaged a fleet of six Dutch warships off Goeree. Eventually the Dutch veered off for Flushing. HMS Gratton was too heavily damaged to pursue.

In mid-August Trollope was fêted at Lloyd’s Coffee House in the City (the coffee house monopolised by marine insurance underwriters; other coffee houses are favoured by other commercial sectors, e.g. The India Company uses the Jerusalem Coffee House).

They gave him a present and three cheers and Trollope was quite overcome. He adjourned to another room and wrote out his acknowledgements as he doubted his ability to speak them.

Sat 3rd Dec 1796

The Portuguese Queen has been given a difficult choice – either leave the coalition of Kings or be invaded by 60,000 French troops.

Sat 3rd Dec 1796

The British election results are reproduced in full in this edition. Paul Benfield and W Boyd, the bankers of Paris and London trading as Boyd Benfield and Co, are MPs for Shaftesbury; Wm Pitt is again elected for Cambridge University; Lord Mornington (Wellesley) for Old Sarum; Palmerston for Winchester; Charles Grey gets in for Northumberland as usual, etc.

Sat 10th Dec 1796

French policy in Europe is becoming clear. They lost the war at sea but are winning on the land. The large number of troops they are able to call upon are supported by the resources of the countries they conquer. They are successively closing the ports of Europe against British trade. The Netherlands and Italy are already closed to us. Spain appears likely to be next and that will pressure Portugal to close as well. Then they will presumably focus on our access to the Baltic.

Portugal believes it will be attacked. The value of British property in Oporto equates with the amount France seized from us in Leghorn – we have a prodigious investment in port wine and cork. British wine importers have actually increased their stocks at Porto in view of the recent increase in British import duty on wines landed in England. They now bring in only as much as they can instantly sell. There is no bonding available for foreign wines landed at London. The involved wine merchants have interviewed Pitt and say he is considering permitting a bond.

Sat 27th Jan 1798

Éclair Gazette, 11th June – The foundation of the Federation of the Cisalpine Republic was celebrated at Milan on 9th June. The new Republic incorporates the western Po Valley and the Alpine foothills to the north. It is the buffer state created by General Bonaparte to protect the French S E frontier from Austrian possessions in North Italy. Deputies from all the departments of the new Republic attended and officials from Bologna, Ancona, Venice and most other Italian states observed the proceedings.

Bonaparte had first placed 6,000 French and 4,000 Lombard troops in the town to ensure good order. The new Republic is divided administratively into eleven departments. Mantua and Brescia are not included. The new legislative body is called the Consultenti. It has four committees – Constitution, Military, Finance and Justice. The organisation appears to have been Bonaparte’s own initiative.[117]

Sat 27th Jan 1798

The same edition of Éclair also reports a request from the Diet at Ratisbon to the Austrian Emperor which was forwarded to Paris. The German states demand the French Directory remove their troops from Imperial soil including Liege. The Directory replied that the integrity of the Empire was stipulated in the peace preliminaries but it could not include Liege which had been reunited with France unless the treaty now being negotiated with England should require it.

The Emperor contrarily says Liege is his and he will not make peace without it. Barthelemy is persuading his fellow Directors that the construction of the peace preliminaries permits an understanding that Liege is part of Austria. The Directors disagreed but on 27th June they voted 3/2 in the Emperor’s favour. Liege and Stavelto are accordingly to retain their ancient Constitutions.

Sat 17th Dec 1796

Bonaparte’s report to the Directory from Bologna, dated 23rd June:

I have taken the castle of Urbino at Modena (within the Papal States). It contained 50 good cannon and provisions for 600 men for two months. There was 25,000lbs of powder and 15,000 shot. The garrison comprised 300 men under one of the Knights Templar of Malta. As the Templars serve the Pope, they surrendered voluntarily.

We have also occupied Ferrera where another Templar commanded the garrison and had 114 cannon. This extra artillery will be useful for the siege of Mantua.[118]

A contribution will be levied on Bologna once we have estimated its worth. Twenty paintings, part of the indemnity from the Pope, have been sent from Parma to Paris including the celebrated picture of St Jerome although the locals offered us a million if we would allow them to keep it. Barthelemy is at Modena selecting paintings there. He intends to take 50, amongst which is Michael Angelo’s St Cecilia. Our botanists are at Pavia taking specimens of the exotic plants there for our National Botanical Garden. We found a huge collection of snakes there which is being sent to you too.

At Milan I interviewed the famous Oriani.[119] It was the first time he had been in the Archduke’s palace and he was overwhelmed by its opulence. As he appeared independent of the previous government I undertook to pay his salary and gave him every verbal encouragement. I will send you copies of my letters.

Sat 31st Dec 1796

By late June it was apparent that Bonaparte would enter Leghorn. He moves his army so quickly he repeatedly surprises us. William F Windham, the British Plenipotentiary now at Leghorn, has been obliged to remove on board HMS Inconstant in the harbour. The British Consul John Udny has advised British merchants to leave. There are 23 British merchant ships in harbour. Most moveable British property has been loaded on board the shipping, including 240 oxen, and will be taken to Corsica. A handful of Britons plan to remain.

Sat 19th Nov 1796

The Company’s cruiser Antelope arrived from Basra via Bushire yesterday with European news to 19th July:

War in Italy – Milan surrendered to the French on 20th June. In another action, Bonaparte took Leghorn at the same time. The Governor of Leghorn is sent a prisoner to the Grand Duke of Tuscany at Florence. He is accused by Bonaparte of violating the strict neutrality he had promised by allowing the English to carry off two French ships from Leghorn as prizes.

Spain has pleaded for the Pope. Bonaparte and his Civil Commissioners have conceded an armistice to him, which he desperately needed. The Pope has sent a Plenipotentiary to Paris for negotiations. The French are angry with the Vatican because of the murder of their national representative Basseville in the Papal States. They also object to the Pope’s routine imprisonment of democrats.

The terms France wants are:

  • to have Papal ports opened to French shipping and closed to the English;
  • to retain Bologna and Ferrera and occupy Faenza too;
  • the delivery of Ancona and all its defences.
  • 100 works of art (pictures, vases and statues) and 5 manuscripts from the Papal Collection as indemnity for their trouble. They will send a man to Rome to select them. The bronze bust of Junius Brutus and the marble bust of Marcus Brutus are on the list.
  • The Pope will also pay an indemnity of 21 millions livres – 15½ millions will be in specie and spices, the rest in horses and other goods – in addition to the contributions levied on Bologna, Ferrera and Faenza. All the horses and goods are to be delivered at Genoa or Leghorn within 3 months.
  • French armies will have right of passage through Papal lands.

The Pope has no conceivable alternative and is expected to concede all of this.

As of 2nd July Bonaparte’s HQ was at Bologna.

Bonaparte has ordered cannon and a battering train from Toulon for the siege of Mantua. Nelson on Agamemnon is trying to prevent its shipment. On 31st May the British Admiral saw six French ships and attacked them. He captured the two convoying warships and all five transports with cannon and provisions.

War on the Rhine – the French tactic has been to split their forces and penetrate along two lines to Strasbourg and Dusseldorf, then join-up and cut off the Emperor’s strong forts at Mannheim and Mentz. In this way they occupy a large part of Swabia.

War in Spain? – Britain is suspicious of Spanish tolerance of France. The Spanish navy is being strengthened and St Roc is being reinforced. Britain is reinforcing Gibraltar and may declare war on Spain if she suspects Spain is not strictly neutral.

The 3% consols dropped under 60 on 19th July. All bonds are down or untraded.

Sat 10th Dec 1796

Present State of the War by M Peltier addresses the European situation in early July 1796:

In ten weeks since the opening of this year’s campaign we have seen twelve great battles. The Austrians started with an advance on the Moselle and Saar intending to get General Jourdain to abandon Dusseldorf and withdraw to protect Alsace Lorraine. The French permitted this as the country they abandoned was destitute of resources. As the Austrians penetrated in the centre, the French armies moved north and south and encircled them. General Moreau was ordered over the Rhine at Strasburg to create a diversion. Astonishingly the Rhine had been left unguarded at that point. By the time the Austrians assembled in force the French had over 40,000 men across the river and were invincible.

Five countries have requested for peace with France. The Margrave of Baden, the Duke of Wurtemburg and the Prince of Furstemburg are amongst them. The Prince of Condé had to withdraw with his Royalist army as fast as he could. There are now 100,000 French Republican troops over the Rhine and the only opposition is 35,000 Austrians who will likely have to withdraw over the Neckar and Danube. All this destruction has been voluntarily sustained by the autocrats to re-establish monarchy in France.

In Italy, Milan capitulated on 29th June. Mantua must do so soon. Leghorn was entered on 27th June after the British fleet withdrew. The cabinet of Naples (the Two Sicilies) has made peace. The Pope has been obliged to accept hard terms and the principal works of art in Rome and Bologna are going to Paris.

Sat 17th Dec 1796

British news, 7th July:

16 new Scottish peers have been elevated at Holyrood. They are the Marquisate of Tweeddale, and the Earldoms of Aboyne, Breadalbane, Cassilis, Cathcart, Dalhousie, Dumfries, Elgin, Errol, Glasgow, Napier, North Esk, Somerville, Stair, Strathmore and Torphichen. This latest increase of the King’s influence in the Lords makes him overwhelming in that House.

Lord Lauderdale in the House of Lords has protested against the elevation of Earl of Errol. In 1666 the Earldom was given to Gilbert and his male heirs. In 1674 it was granted to John of Killour but the authorising Charter that was done at Edinburgh was not done by the King and thus does not comply with legal requirements. Nevertheless, Lauderdale supports the principle that all the Scottish peers should be permitted to vote at Westminster. He voted in favour of the other 15 new peers.

Sempill objected to the ‘unjust and ruinous’ war and thought the internal government of Britain was subversive of Liberty. If the centralisation of Power on George III continues, the Constitution will become worthless, he said. Sempill would not vote for a peer who supported the war. Accordingly he would support only one applicant – Lauderdale. He formally protested that he was one of the peers who was qualified to vote in the next session but had been excluded because he held liberal views.

Sat 17th Dec 1796

London Gazette, 20th August:

A force from the new British colony of Corsica has taken possession of Porte Ferraio, the port of Elba on 10th July, in accordance with instructions of Minto, Viceroy of Corsica.

Elba belongs to the Duke of Piombino while the town of Porto Ferraio belongs to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. With Bonaparte in possession of most of northern Italy, Minto felt this toehold of Italian soil on Elba had to be removed from his potential possession. Elba had earlier been intended by the French as the base for their invasion of Leghorn. Porto Ferraio is an excellent safe harbour protected by three forts – Cosmopoli, Stella and Falcone.

The failure of strict neutrality by the Grand Duke’s Governor at Porto Ferraio was Minto’s reason for his order. Porto Ferraio (named for some old iron mines nearby) is on an islet connected to Elba by a bridge and canal. The port is protected by 100 cannon and a garrison of 400 excluding the local militia. The Governor required a little time to consult with the leading citizens (Tuscans control the island’s economy). Nelson brought his warships into harbour to encourage the Governor to surrender peacefully. This was a good (but rare) example of combined operations working well.

Sat 17th Dec 1796

Le Courier du Bas Rhin has reviewed the qualities of the various army commanders fighting the war for and against the Kings. The Austrian armies against France are led by French émigrés:

  • General Wurmser comes from Alsace. He entered Austrian service after the Seven Year’s War and is now 80 years old. There is an Austrian regiment of hussars that bears his name.
  • General Bellegarde commands the Army of the Lower Rhine under the Archduke Charles. He is about 40 years old and has French parents. He has fought well and skilfully for the coalition. He was seriously wounded at Dunkirk in the last campaign.

The French commanders opposed to them are:

  • Moreau, who studied law at Rennes before the war. He is about 28 years old.
  • Jourdain who was a private in the French Guards before the Revolution. He is now about 36 years old and skilled in the new military tactics that the French have evolved.
  • Bonaparte comes from Corsica. He was educated in France and rose to Captain in the artillery. His recreation was always the study of politics and history. He is an ambitious and ‘giddy young man.’ He directed the siege of Toulon and over-ruled the arrangements made by the generals. They thought him presumptuous but his plan contributed greatly to the reduction of the town and forced the precipitant flight of the English. As a result they made him general of artillery in the Army of Italy. There, he found he was supporting an operational plan of which he could not approve. He produced his own proposal for the campaign and it was adopted. He is both successful and economic. The CPS transferred him to the infantry but he resented the appointment and visited Paris to ask to be instead sent to Constantinople apparently to serve against Austria from there. At that time Barras was CiC and he took Bonaparte as his aide from whence he rose to command the Army of the Interior. At that time he met and married a rich young widow. He then left Paris for the conquest of Italy. He is 27 years old, short and thin. He never despairs of success and is always cool and collected. He has few social graces but speaks precisely and gracefully. Usually he has little to say. He is above the intriguing factions and has the interests of his country at heart.

Sat 17th Dec 1796

The Price of Disinformation – An action has commenced in the Court of King’s Bench in which the London newspaper the Telegraph is suing the government-supported Morning Post newspaper:

On 10th Feb 1795 the French paper L’éclair published the articles of a peace treaty between the German Emperor and France. Unknown to any of the Editors it was actually British propaganda (evident from the English type faces) and part of our national campaign to misinform the people.

Edger, the Telegraph agent, employed Peters who brought the French newspaper from Boulogne. Peters told Edger he could find only one copy and it had cost him 5/- which Edger was unwilling to pay.

M/s Fuller and Stewart, proprietors of the Morning Post, learned of Edger’s interest and, knowing the article was misinformation, bought the copy from Peters and sent it gratis to the Telegraph which published its details as genuine.

The Court gave judgement to the Plaintiffs in £100 (c. 25 ounces of gold equivalent).

Sat 31st Dec 1796

The Archduke Charles was forced out of the lower Rhine on 19th July when the French occupied Frankfurt. The Archduke will try to connect with the other Austrian army under Wurmser.

The Frankfurters are surprised by the French. They had been schooled to expect barbarous violence but the occupiers are behaving better than the Austrian troops.

The French have permitted the Austrian garrison to leave with its artillery, arms & ammunition and baggage. The French have decreed they will not force Mandats on suppliers – all purchasing will be by agreement.

The only requisitions on Frankfurt will be by the Commissariat.


NB – all 1797 editions are missing from the British Library copy. Contemporary accounts of the British naval mutinies, the attempted coup d’Etat in France under cover of peace negotiations with Britain and the early parts of the insurrection in Ireland are all unavailable. However, since 2014, English-speakers are fortunate to have Andrew Roberts’ biography of “Napoleon the Great” and will find extensive detail of the take-over of the French government in the chapter titled ‘Brumaire.’

Tues 2nd Jan 1798

The Company’s ship Viper has arrived from Basra with European news to 15th September 1797. On this occasion no continental newspapers are available. The only news we have is from London:

The peace negotiations at Lille have stalled. The London editors are not explicit as to the reason but it seems to relate to the alleged involvement of our government in funding and organising a conspiracy lately discovered in Paris to overthrow the French government and restore monarchy.

The conspiracy involves several leading French politicians, most of whom are Jacobins – the people Pitt has repeatedly said he will not negotiate with.[120]

Tues 2nd Jan 1798

Vienna 6th August – One of the last acts of Director Barthelemy before the discovery of his involvement in the émigré conspiracy to recover the government of France, was to make application to the Austrian Imperial government on behalf of the French Republic to permit Lafayette to leave Europe for America.

The American consul to Lower Saxony (the area incorporating George III’s lands, called Hanover, across the river from Hamburg) will organise the details.

Tues 2nd Jan 1798

  • A peace treaty between France and Portugal is announced. The London papers ignore the terms but we suppose they duplicate the preliminary agreement which preceded the peace treaty. That document required Portugal to pay 10 millions, provide commercial advantages and close her ports to British prizes. There may be a cession of some Brazilian lands as well.
  • Apart from an incident on HMS St George (Peard), part of Admiral St Vincent’s squadron, there have been no further mutinies in the navy. Peard executed the four ringleaders on 9th July and that was sufficient to secure his crews’ submission.
  • In July the Earl of Mornington was said to have been appointed Governor of Madras to replace Lord Hobart who has turned-out to be unsuitable.[121]
  • England is tranquil; the Scots are irritated by the Militia Act;
  • 3% consols on 14th Sept were 52½ and continuing their descent trajectory.

Wed 31st Jan 1798 Extraordinary

Portugal has negotiated peace with France at Udina through its diplomat Chevalier d’Aranjo. Few details are available. The agreement required ratification within 60 days but no answer has yet been received from Lisbon. It is supposed the Portuguese Government has submitted the agreed terms to England for approval and this is the cause of the delay.

England has put 5,000 – 6,000 soldiers into Portugal supposedly for its defence against the French although some Portuguese sources say the soldiers are being used to restrain the government at Lisbon and delay ratification of the peace terms with France.

England cannot tolerate any restriction on the numbers of her ships permitted to enter Portuguese ports. Such restriction is one of the agreed terms in d’Aranjo’s treaty.

Sat 10th Feb 1798

Royal Naval mutiny – further information:

The three men sentenced to be hanged for mutiny were sent aboard HMS St George (Peard) for execution. Peard’s crew petitioned for mercy and he forwarded their petition to Admiral St Vincent for consideration. He rejected it.

Peard told his men who then resolved to seize the ship, depose the officers and liberate the condemned men. This further mutiny was set for the day prior to the proposed executions. Peard was informed of the plot and told the men he would punish the ringleaders if they persisted in it. The crew did not disperse and Peard ran in amongst them and seized the two ringleaders. He put them in irons whilst the rest of the crew looked on. The crew then submitted to discipline.

Next day the three ring-leaders in the original mutiny were hanged at the yardarm. The two new arrests were sent to their Courts Martial.

Sat 20th Jan 1798

Letters from a British merchant at Cadiz dated 4th – 8th July say Earl St Vincent (actually Nelson’s squadron in the Earl’s fleet) is blockading the port. Nelson has demanded a ransom equivalent to £1.2 millions ($5 millions) and is lobbing mortar bombs into Cadiz to encourage payment. Some civilians, including women and children, have been killed.

The cause of the dispute is commercial. Nelson’s squadron had earlier taken two Spanish frigates Helena and Nympha but after they struck their colours, they were run ashore and coastal residents removed all the valuables. The British officers were deprived of their anticipated profits and consider it both theft and a breach of honour.

It is also the case that Spain has threatened violence against Portugal, purportedly at the behest of France, whilst Britain has been spending money preparing Portugal’s defences and is her ally.

One London writer speculates that the ransom of Cadiz is a means of recovering the cost of war preparations we have incurred in Portugal.

The Spanish contrarily fought back and so damaged one of our bomb vessels that the English scuttled her for fear the enemy would capture her. The English then captured two Spanish gunboats and killed the commanders. They are now preparing a greater number of bomb vessels for tonight and we residents are making vigorous preparations to defend ourselves.

Sat 27th Jan 1798

The Queen has arrived at Madras from London and the Cape. She reports the seamen of the fleet at Capetown (Admiral Pringle’s fleet) mutinied for the same terms obtained by the mutineers in the home fleet. Many officers were confined by their crews and others were sent ashore.

The Admiral has told the mutineers that the terms of employment they desire have been made available to all British sailors (as a result of the mutinies in England). It was the first they knew of it.

Whilst the seamen considered the matter, a Danish ship arrived at the Cape having left London on 8th July and brought news of the end of the mutiny at the Nore and the execution of Parker and the other ring-leaders. This spread through the fleet instantly and the rebellious seamen returned to discipline. Admiral Pringle says there is no need to punish anyone.

Sat 27th Jan 1798

The Batavian (Netherlands) Constitution – Talleyrand Perigord, one of the new Directors of France, has written to Noel, the French ambassador at Amsterdam, on 2nd August:

The plan of the new Constitution will secure the prosperity of Holland. It should be approved as the basic law of the country and I approve your letter to the Councillors commending it.[122]

Talleyrand wrote that France encouraged the triumph of liberty in Netherlands and only our enemies will fault this law.

“Use every opportunity to let the Dutch know the lively interest we members of the Directory take in their acceptance of this Constitution. It is our wish that the Batavian Republic obtain that form of government that may enable her to resume her rightful place amongst the nations of Europe and blend liberty with a flourishing commerce.”

The Batavian National Assembly replied that they were equally convinced of the necessity for the Constitution and the Directory might rest assured that the subject will be decided by the will of the Dutch people.

However on 12th August, with the votes of the Primary Assemblies only half-counted, it appeared the Constitution would be rejected. Dordrecht, Shiedam, most of Friesland and the City of Groeningen supported it. Everywhere else the property owners repudiated it. The count of votes is about 65% against (in Amsterdam it is 85% against).

The most persuasive popular complaint is that the Constitution is a step from old to new systems, incorporating features of both, which causes it to have no decided character – it satisfied no-one. The Dutch administrators suppose that such Constitutions will always be rejected if the vote is free.

This induced the French Assembly to ‘suppose’ the acceptance of the old Constitution of 1791 which had formed the basis for General Bonaparte’s arrangements in Italy.

There were a few supporting reasons for rejection of the new Law:

  • The concentration of executive power in five people was generally disapproved.
  • The Orange party, who were expected to give support, withheld their votes.
  • The clergy of all denominations, who are excluded from public service by one of the Articles, mobilised their congregations to reject it.
  • The Roman Catholics were additionally displeased that the Protestant clergy