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nce. Their favorable chances at the beginning of the war were thrown away; their channel fleet lay idle in the harbor of Brest; British ships, laden with rich cargoes from all parts of the world, returned home unmolested; and the dilatory British an. All this while British armed vessels preyed upon the commerce of France. To ascertain the strength of the fleet at Brest, a British fleet of twenty ships of the line put to sea under Admiral Keppel, so well known to posterity by the pencil of to remain inactive, authorized the capture of British merchantmen; and early in July its great fleet sailed out of July Brest. After returning to Portsmouth, Keppel put to sea once more. On the twenty-seventh, the two 27. admirals, each having t a command. After an insignificant action, in Chap. VI.} 1778. which neither party lost a ship, the French returned to Brest, the British to Portsmouth. The French admiral ascribed his failure to the disobedience of the young Duke de Chartres, w
gland will be compelled to subscribe to the law that we shall dictate. At the same time he declared frankly, that Spain would furnish no troops for the invasion of Great Britain; France must undertake it alone; even the junction of the fleets of Brest and Cadiz to protect the landing must be of short duration. Vergennes might have hesitated to inaugurate the hard conditions required; but reflection was lost in joy at the prospect of the co-operation of Spain, even though that power opposed valley of the Missis- Chap. VIII.} 1779. sippi. Montmorin to Vergennes, 20 Nov., 1778. And yet disinterested zeal for freedom had not died out in the world. Early in February, 1779, Lafayette, after a short winter passage from Boston to Brest, rejoined his family and friends. His departure for America in the preceding year, against the command of his king, was atoned for by a week's exile to Paris, and confinement to the house of his father-in-law. The king then received him at Vers
ard to risk. Vergennes, on the other hand, held the landing of a French army in England to be rash, until a naval Chap. XI.} 1779. victory over the British should have won the dominion of the water. The fitting out of the expedition had been intrusted to Sartine, the marine minister, and to d'orvilliers, its commander. Early in June the French fleet of thirty-one ships of the line yielded to Spanish importunities; and, before they could be ready with men or provisions, put to sea from Brest; and yet they were obliged to wait off the coast of Spain for the Spaniards. After a great loss of time in the best season of the year, a junction was effected with more than twenty ships of war under the separate command of Count Gaston; and the combined fleet sailed for the British channel. Never before had so large a force been seen afloat; and in construction the Spanish ships were equal or superior to the English. Rodney to Lady Rodney, Gibraltar, 7 Feb., 1780. Charles of Spain pic
eaties directly contrary to their plain meaning, and then by saying: We are determined to persist in the line of conduct we have taken, be the consequences what they may. Stormont to Yorke, 11 Jan., 1780. The British ministry sent the case of the Dutch merchant vessels that had been carried into Portsmouth to the court of admiralty; and Sir James Mariott, the judge, thus laid down the law: It imports little whether the blockade be made across the narrows at Dover, or off the harbor at Brest or L'Orient. If you are taken, you are blocked. Great Chap. XX.} 1780. Britain, by her insular position, blocks naturally all the ports of Spain and France. She has a right to avail herself of this position as a gift of Providence. Dip. Cor., IV. 473. Influenced by the preponderating members of the republic, the stadholder addressed a representation to the empress of Russia for concert in the defence of neutral flags. Before it had been received at Petersburg, Prince Galitzin, the R
y. In the evening, Philadelphia was illuminated with greater splendor than at any time before. Congress voted honors to Washington, to Rochambeau, and to de Grasse, with special thanks to the officers and troops. A marble column was to be erected at Yorktown, with emblems of the alliance between the United States and his most Christian Majesty. The Duke de Lauzun, chosen to take the news across the Atlantic, arrived in twenty-two days at Best, and reached Versailles on the nineteenth of Brest, and reached Versailles on the nineteenth of Nov. 19. November. The king, who had just been made Chap. XXV.} 1781. Nov. 19. happy by the birth of a dauphin, received the glad news in the queen's apartment. The very last sands of the life of the Count de Maurepas were running out; but he could still recognise de Lauzun, and the tidings threw a halo round his death-bed. The joy at court penetrated the whole people, and the name of Lafayette was pronounced with veneration. History, said