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This Report has been prepared and edited, on behalf of the Historical Manuscripts Commissioners, by Mr. Walter Fitzpatrick. The Index has been compiled by Miss M. H. Roberts.
The letters and reports contained in Volume VI. of the Dropmore Papers embrace a period of one year and five months—from November 1, 1799, to March 31, 1801. They conclude the histories, so far as these are related in Lord Grenville's confidential correspondence, of the second coalition against France, and the passing of the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland, begun in Volume IV. and continued in Volume V. Volume IV. records the formation of the coalition and the abortive attempt to carry an Act of Union through the Irish Parliament early in 1799. Volume V. relates mainly to the Continental campaigns of 1799. Volume VI. deals with the secession of Russia from the coalition; the new alliance of Great Britain and Austria ; the abolition of the Irish Legislature in 1800; the negotiations and military operations of Bonaparte and of the allies during the same year; the peace of Luneville and the resignation of Pitt's first ministry, in February, 1801.
The radical weakness of the coalition, its want of cohesion and concord, has been explained in the Introductions of the two preceding volumes ; how the British and Austrian Governments, while both leaning on the support of the Tzar, formed their plans not only without mutual communication, but in a spirit of antagonism to each other. Owing in large measure to Russian aid, Austrian plans were crowned with success beyond all expectation ; British plans, notwithstanding Russian aid, ended in complete failure. We shall now see how that success and that failure contributed about equally to the disruption of the coalition as originally formed; and how by their mutual antagonism the British and Austrian Governments not only flung away a fair opportunity of accomplishing all their aims in conflict with the French Revolution, but gave the Revolution, in its completed form of military despotism, an opportunity of establishing its supremacy in Europe for fifteen years.
The discord of England and Austria which had such disastrous results was not an effect of any irreconcilable divergence of principles or interests. It was the outcome of forty years of political estrangement, followed by four years of distrustful and unprosperous alliance, during which all the dislikes, suspicions, and prejudices of unfriendly tradition became incarnate in two able and strongwilled ministers who directed the foreign relations of the two monarchies. The transference of the Spanish Netherlands to the Emperor by the treaty of Utrecht, and the Dutch Barrier Treaty four years later, were arrangements made in the interests of England and the Dutch Republic to secure the Belgic provinces against annexation by France. But Austrian statesmen from the first