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‘ [217] ordered not to attack the enemy, unless he thinks
chap IX.} 1755.
it worth while.’ He was answered, that Hawke was too wise to do any thing at all, which others, when done, were to pronounce he ought to be hanged for. ‘What,’ replied the Duke, ‘if he had orders not to fall upon the French, unless they were more in number together than ten?’ The Brest squadron, it was replied, is but nine. ‘I mean that,’ resumed Newcastle, ‘of the merchantmen only.’ Thus he proceeded with inconceivable absurdity.1 France and England were still at peace; and their commerce was mutually protected by the sanctity of treaties. Of a sudden, hostile orders were issued to all British vessels of war to take all French vessels, private as well as public; and, without warning, ships from the French colonies, the ships bound from Martinico to Marseilles, freighted with the rich products of plantations tilled by the slaves of the Jesuits,2 the fishing-smacks in which the humble Breton mariners ventured to Newfoundland, whale-ships returning from their adventures, the scanty fortunes with which poor men freighted the little barks engaged in the coasting trade, were within one month, by violence and by cowardly artifices, seized by the British marine, and carried into English ports. ‘What has taken place,’ wrote Rouille, under the eye of Louis the Fifteenth, ‘is nothing but a system of piracy on a grand scale, unworthy of a civilized people. In time of full peace, merchant-ships have been seized, to the value of thirty millions of livres.’ As no declaration of war had

1 Dodington's Diary. Walpole's Memoires of George III. and letters. Waldegrave's Memoirs. Flassan: Histoire de la Diplomatie Francoise, VI.

2 De Tocqueville: Histoire Philosophique du regne de Louis XV. II. 287.

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