« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
all this was done with so much care as to remove merely these particular objects of their enmity, without in the least damaging the adjacent parts. In defacing armorial bearings and things of this sort, the reformers have been at the trouble of cutting them away, so as to leave the shield quite plain, although they were carved in stone. I should have supposed that mischief done in the moment of frenzy would not have been so methodical.
Upon all the public buildings, the public offices, and many others, is written in large characters—Unité indivisibilité de la république, liberté, égalité, fraternité, ou la mort; but in general the last word is rubbed out. The nation took it into their heads not to like death upon the downfall of Robespierre. Upon many of the churches is this inscription- Le peuple français reconnait l'être suprême et l'immortalité de l'âme. This was a decree of the Convention for the people at large, and your Lordship will allow that this must have a ridiculous effect upon the walls of a church entirely in ruins, as is often the case. Another modern inscription is—Citoyens, respectez le bien d'autrui, c'est le fruit de son travail et de son industrie ; and perhaps close by it you may read propriété nationale à vendre, in direct violation of the other, offering to sell property of which some unfortunate person has been robbed by the very preachers of this doctrine.
I am obliged to break off suddenly, for reasons which will be very soon known to your Lordship.
I have the honour to be your Lordship’s most obedient, faithful, humble servant,
The last line of this letter is written in an agitated hand, which the circumstance that compelled Mr. Talbot to break off so abruptly sufficiently accounts for. At that moment
a note had arrived at the embassy from M. de la Croix, giving Lord Malmesbury notice to depart from Paris in eight-and-forty hours, adding that if the British Cabinet were desirous of peace, the Executive Directory were ready to carry on the negotiations, on the basis they had already laid down, by the reciprocal channel of couriers.
DISCONTENTS IN ENGLAND-THE BREST SQUADRON-MOTION
STATE OF IRELAND-AFFAIRS OF THE CONTINENT-LORD
The result of Lord Malmesbury's mission was communicated to Parliament as soon as it became known in London, by a message from the King, and addresses were moved approving of the conduct of Ministers. Amendments, condemning their policy, and demanding an investigation, were proposed in both Houses, and rejected by large majorities. In the House of Commons, notwithstanding an appeal of extraordinary eloquence and power from Mr. Fox, the address was carried by a majority of 212 to 37. Mr. Pitt's position, perhaps, was never stronger than at this moment, although the affairs of the Bank of England, in consequence of repeated loans to Government, were reduced to the most desperate condition, and the lower classes of the population, feeling heavily the burthens of the war, began to clamour against its prosecution. But the national spirit sustained the Government. Possessing the implicit confidence of the King, the two Houses of Parliament, the heads of the Church, the landed interest, and the monied and commercial classes, Mr. Pitt persevered. The greatest efforts were made out of doors to induce His Majesty to remove his Ministers. Public meetings were held in several places to get up petitions on the subject ; and the energies of the Opposition were incessantly employed in spreading alarm and discontent through the country. Several unfortunate circumstances concurred to give effect to these movements. The war had reached its most disastrous point. England was left alone in the field to contend against the power of France, now grown haughty and formidable by a long course of successes. The credit of the country, under this pressure of events, was seriously affected. The Bank had stopped payment. Two mutinies had broken out in the fleet, one at Spithead, and another at the Nore. An organization of malcontents had been formed in Ireland under the name of “the United Irishmen,” and had carried their insurrectionary views so far as to send deputies to treat with the French for assistance to enable them to throw off the English yoke. The year opened with the most gloomy prospects on all sides; but the firmness of Ministers triumphed over all difficulties, and conducted them to its close with the happiest results.
The first incident of the year to which allusion is made in these letters, is the appearance in British waters of a French squadron. It consisted of two frigates and two sloops, and its insignificance, compared with the demonstration that was anticipated from the loud threats of invasion by which it was heralded, excited ridicule rather than alarm.
LORD GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.
Wednesday, Jan. 4th, 1797. MY DEAREST BROTHER,
A little after eleven this morning came an account of Elphinston's being arrived with the “Monarch' (I believe at Spithead). He had letters from General Dalrymple of the 31st, by which it seems probable that the French fleet is, if not entirely, certainly in great part, broken to pieces. Two French seventy-fours and a frigate had put into Bantry Bay, one without a bowsprit, and all of them damaged, and were lying within mortar reach of Bantry when Dalrymple wrote: other vessels were seen also trying to get into Bantry Bay. The
Impatiente,' a very fine frigate of forty-four guns, just reached Cuxhaven, and foundered there, the whole crew going down with her except a pilot and four men, who were saved. By their report twelve thousand men only were on board, and provisions so scarce from the first, that they were put upon short allowance the day that they left Brest. Another French frigate was seen driving up St. George's Channel, and is said to have gone to pieces upon the Welsh coast. A Barbadoes ship saw a large ship, supposed to be one of the flutes, struggle some time, and then founder ; another of the flutes was seen to founder off the Lizard; and great traces of wreck are thrown upon the Irish coast.
Lord Bridport sailed very early yesterday morning, and met Elphinston, who gave him all this intelligence. I presume that he will probably detach part of his squadron towards Ireland, and part towards Brest; besides which, I believe he has power to take with him whatever he meets.
Kingsnill was indefatigable in collecting his frigates, which, with his two sixty-fours, will count heavily upon this shattered and disabled force of the enemy. Meantime, the greatest part of the Oporto fleet is come in, and very good accounts are