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cially to cover the arrival of two rich convoys shortly expected, the one from Jamaica, the other from Canada.
After having wasted much precious time, the allies bad set themselves at length to carry into effect the plans they had meditated. The count de Guichen commanding the French squadron, and don Lewis de Cordova admiral in chief of the combined ficet, set sail from the port of Cadiz in the beginning of June with twenty-five sail of the line, between Spanish and French. They stood to the north, towards the shores of England, animated with a desire and with a hope to wrest from those audacious islanders the empire of the ocean. As they sailed along the coasts of France, they were joined by several ships of war, which lay in the ports of that part, and even by a squadron that came from Brest to meet them. These different reenforcements carried the combined feet lo forty sail of the line. Fortune smiled upon these first operations. The two convoys of Newfoundland and Quebec, escorted by admiral Campbell with one ship of fifty guns and some frigates, fell into the midst of this immense line. A part were taken, the rest dispersed. Eighteen transports came into the power of the victors ; this capture was valued at considerable sums. The ships of war made good their escape, and gained the ports of England in safety. This advantage indemnified the French, in some measure, for the loss of their convoy destined to the East Indies.
After this, if not difficolt, at least oseful success, become entirely masters of the sea, they repaired towards the entrance of the channel. As they had done in their preceding campaigos, they stretched their line across it from the Scilly islands to that of Ushant. While observing the coasts of England, two objects especially occupied their attention ; the protection of their own convoys, and the seizure of those of the enemy. Meanwhile, the British ministers were not reckless of the danger. Admiral Howe put to sea with twenty-two sail of the line. His instructions enjoined him to avoid a general action, and to use every possible endeavor to protect the arrival of the Jamaica convoy, become still more precious since the loss of that of Canada. This able commander displayed the rarest talents in the execution of his orders. He put himself out of the reach of the hostile feet, by steering to the west, upon the route likely to be taken by the convoy. This manœuvre was crowned with full success. Admiral Howe rallied to himself the whole convoy, with its escort, commanded by Peter Parker, and, towards the last of July, entered with them sound and safe into the poris of Ireland. The allies then returned to their own coasts, after demonstrations as vain and fruitless as those of their two preceding campaigns.
But of all the enterprises of the belligerent powers in Europe, none appeared to them more worthy to absorb all their attention than the siege of Gibraltar. The English were all intent upon succouring VOL. II.
that fortress; the French and Spaniards upon preventing it.
Tbese two opposite aims were become the object of their reciprocal emulation. Independent of the glory of their arms, and the honor of crowuis, there was nothing less at stake than the empire of the Mediterranean, which seemed to depend on the possession of this celebrated rock. Never did any military operation attract, to the same degree, the gaze of the entire world; this siege was compared to the most famous recorded in history, whether ancient or modern. To preserve Gibraltar, was in England the first wish of all kinds ; it was known there that a scarcity began to prevail, within that place, of munitions of war, and especially of provisions. It was equally known that the besiegers intended to convert the blockade into an open attack. Already they were preparing machines of a new construction, in order to carry, by dint of force, what they had failed of attaining by famine. Accordingly, since Gibraltar, notwithstanding all that art and nature had done for its defence, was menaced with perils of a new species, the British government assembled at Portsmouth all the naval forces of the kingdom. The squadrons that were cruising upon the coasts of Holland and of the Bay of Biscay, had orders to repair thither. An immense number of transports were there laden with munitions and necessaries of every denomination. At length, all preparations being terminated, towards the beginning of September, admiral Howe, commander-in-chief, accornpanied by the admirals Milbanke, Robert Hughes, and Hotham, set sail from Portsmouth. His force consisted of thirty-four sail of the line, and a proportionate number of frigates and fire-ships. Upon the fortune of this armament hung that of the besieged fortress.
Arms were not, however,' the only means which the British ministers resolved to employ in order to attain the object they had in view; namely, a glorious war and an honorable peace. It was not permitted them to hope to be able to reduce their enemies entirely, so long as they persisted in their strict union; they therefore formed a design to throw division among them, by making to each of them separate proposals of peace. The dissolution of the coalition appeared to them the certain pledge of definitive triumph. They calculated also, that even in case they should not succeed in their attempt, they would nevertheless obtain a real advantage ; that of contenting the minds of the people of Great Britain, and of rendering the war less odious to them, by demonstrating the necessity of continuing it. Another no less powerful consideration had influence upon their determination ; tbey felt, that in order 10 preserve the partisans they had made themselves both in and out of parliament, it was necessary that they should hold out at least an appearance of inclining towards peace. Under these considerations, the British cabinet made application to the empress of Russia. She accepted the character of mediatress with the States-General of Holland; she
offered ther, in the name of king George, a suspension of arms, and conditions of peace upon the footing of the treaty of 1674. The ambassador of France, who was then at the Hague, watched these secret manauvres, and labored with all his power to prevent the effects of them, and to maintain the States-General in their fidelity 10 the alliance. He reminded them that they were pledged not to nake peace with England until that power should bave acknowledged the unrestricted freedom of the seas. While recapitulating the plans of naval operations concerted between the two states against the common enemy, he intimated that Holland could not renounce them all of a sudden, without as much prejudice to her own honor, as to ihe interests of her faithful ally, the king of France. He glanced also at the gratitude by which ihe Dutch were bound to his most cbristian majesty for the preservation of the Cape of Good Hope, and the recovery of St. Eustatius, as well as the colonies of Guiana, owing entirely to bis arms. In support of the representations of the French ambassador, the States-General could not but add a tacit reflection. The colonies above inentioned were still in the hands of the French, as guarantee of treaties; was it not to be feared that they would refuse to restore them, if their allies departed from their engagements? These considerations were backed also by the efforts of the partisans of France. They at length prevailed totally. The StatesGeneral rejected the propositions of the court of London, declaring that they would not disparage the incorruptible faith of which their ancestors had lest them the example. The overtures that were made at the same time to the governments of France and of Spain, were not attended with any better success. The first entertained bopes of expelling the British altogether from the West Indies, and thereby of acquiring more efficacious rights to stipulate for the liberty of the seas. The second, swayed by the same motives, had, besides, the prospect of recovering possession of Jamaica and Gibraltar. Intimately united also by the family compact, the two monarchs would have thought it derogatory to the dignity of their crowns, not to have fullilled the obligations it imposed.
But the British ministers hoped for more fruit from their intrigues with the United States of America. With a view to this object, they had recalled General Clinton, and replaced him by general Carleton, who, by his moderation and humanity during the war of Canada, had conciliated the esteem and confidence of the Americans. invested, as well as admiral Digby, with power to negotiate peace with the United States, upon the basis of independence, and to conclude with them a treaty of amity and commerce.
But the Americans took into consideration, that no act of the parliament had as yet authorised the king to conclude peace or truce with America ; and consequently it was to be apprebended that proposals and promises made at the mere motion of ministers, might
afterwards be disavowed by the two Houses. They were aware also of the extreme repugnance which the king personally had to acknowledge their independence. They began therefore to suspect the existence of a hidden snare. These conjectures acquired new force with them, on hearing that the British cabinet had made separate overtures to each of the belligerent powers. They no longer doubted but that its drift was, by means of these overtures, to sow division among thein, and to amuse them by vain words. The proposition of peace appeared to them a mere stratagem of the English to divert their attention from the preparations requisite to the prosecution of the war, and thereby secure for themselves easy advantages. The French minister at Philadelphia exerted himself to the utmost to interrupt all negotiations. He placed in the strongest light the grounds which the Americans had for apprehending bad faith on the part of England, and for confiding, on the contrary, in the sincerity and generosity of the king of France. The most influential members of the American government were little disposed of themselves to commence their career in the political world by a violation of treaties, and to exchange an approved alliance for a suspicious friendship; their opinion prevailed. The Congress declared formally, that they would enter into no negotiation wherein their ally should not participate.
Moreover, that not the slightest doubt should remain respecting the good faith of the United States, in order to bar all bope to England, and all suspicion to France, the provincial assemblies decreed, that peace should never be concluded with Great Britain without the consent of bis most christian majesty ; declaring enemies to the country all those who should attempt to negotiate without authority from Congress. Thus the first days of the year witnessed the failure of all hope of pacification. The cause for which the bellige rent powers had taken arms, appeared still undecided. In the midst of that reciprocal distrust which imbittered minds, no form of conciliation was admissible, till ushered in by the last necessity. While such was the posture of affairs upon the American continent, they were about to be decided, in the islands, by one of those events which triumph over all the measures of prudence. The war of the West Indies was destined to have an issue siinilar to that which the catastrophe of Cornwallis had operated in Virginia. The allied courts had made formidable preparations for executing at last their long meditated projects against Jamaica. The Spaniards bad in the islands of St. Domingo and Cuba, a numerous fleet, and a considerable body of troops, both perfectly equipped, and in readiness to move wherever the good of the service might require. On the other hand, the count de Grasse was at Fort Royal in Martinico, with thirty-four sail of the line, and a great number of frigates. The French admiral was occupied with the care of refitting his fleet, while awaiting
a second convoy which departed from Brest early in February, and which brought him an immense quantity of arms and military stores, of which he stood in great need. After having terminated his preparations, his intention was, to effect his junction with the Spaniards at St. Domingo, in order to act in concert against Jamaica. Their combined forces were to consist of sixiy sail of the line, and near twenty thousand land troops; a prodigious armament, and such as had never before been seen in those seas. The English were very far from having means of resistance adequate to those of attack. When Rodney, who was then anchored at Barbadoes, had been joined by admiral Hood, and three ships of the line from England, he found himself at the head of no more than thirty-six sail of the line. The garrisons of the British islands were all very weak; and even in Jamaica there were only six battalions of troops, inclusive of inilitia. The terror was so great there, that the governor of the island proclaimed martial law, the effect of which was to suspend all civil authority, and to confer it entire upon the military commanders.
Admiral Rodney was perfectly aware that the success of the West Jndian war, and the fate of all the British possessions in those seas depended on two decisive events. It was necessary to intercept the Brest convoy before it should arrive at Martinico, and to prevent the French fleet from uniting with that of Spain at St. Domingo. In order to accomplish the first of these objects, he had put to sea, and so stationed his fleet to windward of the French islands, that it extended from the island of Desirade to that of St. Vincents; thus occupying the route usually followed by vessels coming from Europe bound to Martinico. He had also taken the precaution to detach bis frigates still more to windward, that they might observe and promptly report to him all the movements of the enemy. French presaged the snare that was laid for them. Instead of taking the ordinary track, they stood with their convoy to the north of Desirade, and then keeping close under the lee of Guadaloupe and Dominica, brought it in safety to the bay of Fort Royal in Martinico, This reenforcement was most opportune for the French. It was, on the contrary, extremely fatal for the English, who had now no other means of averting their total roin in those parts, but by preventiog the junction of the feets of France and Spain at Si. Domingo. With this object in view, Rodney came to anchor in Gros Islet Bay at St. Lucia, in order to be able to watch continually all that passed at Fort Royal. His frigates kept up a very active cruise; and in the meantime he took care to recruit bis water and provisions, in order to be in a situation to keep the sea as long as possible. Meanwhile, the count de Grasse felt himself pressed to act. His instructions required it of him; and their object was of the last importance to the glory and prosperity of the French realm. On the safety of his convoy depended the success of the expedition of Jamaica. He