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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Which belonged to Beaumarchais


Count

d'Estaing had at last arrived at the mouth of the Delaware on the 9th of July, 1778; Admiral Howe had not awaited him, he had sailed for the anchorage of Sandy Hook. The heavy French ships could not cross the bar; Philadelphia had been evacuated by the English as soon as the approach of Count d'Estaing was signalled. "It is not General Howe who has taken Philadelphia," said Franklin; "it is Philadelphia that has taken General Howe." The English commander had foreseen the danger; on falling back upon New York he had been hotly pursued by Washington, who had, at Monmouth, gained a serious advantage over him. The victory of the Americans would have been complete but for the jealous disobedience of General Lee. Washington pitched his camp thirty miles from New York. "After two years' marching and counter-marching," he wrote, "after vicissitudes so strange that never perhaps did any other war exhibit the like since the beginning of the world, what a subject of satisfaction and astonishment for us to see the two armies back again at the point from which they started, and the assailants reduced in self-defence to have recourse to the shovel and the axe!"

The combined expedition of D'Estaing and General Sullivan against the little English corps which occupied Rhode Island had just failed; the fleet of Admiral Howe had suddenly appeared at the entrance of the roads, the French squadron had gone out to meet it, an unexpected tempest separated the

combatants; Count d'Estaing, more concerned for the fate of his vessels than with the clamors of the Americans, set sail for Boston to repair damages. The campaign was lost; cries of treason were already heard. A riot was the welcome which awaited the French admiral at Boston. All Washington's personal efforts, seconded by the Marquis of La Fayette, were scarcely sufficient to restore harmony. The English had just made a descent upon the coasts of Georgia, and taken possession of Savannah. They threatened Carolina, and even Virginia.

Scarcely were the French ships in trim to put to sea when Count d'Estaing made sail for the Antilles. Zealous and brave, but headstrong and passionate, like M. de Lally-Tollendal, under whom he had served in India, the admiral could ill brook reverses, and ardently sought for an occasion to repair them. The English had taken St. Pierre and Miquelon. M. de Bouille, governor of Iles-du-Vent, had almost at the same time made himself master of La Dominique. Four thousand English had just landed at St. Lucie; M. d'Estaing, recently arrived at Martinique, headed thither immediately with his squadron, without success, however: it was during the absence of the English admiral, Byron, that the French seamen succeeded in taking possession first of St. Vincent, and soon afterwards of Grenada. The fort of this latter island was carried after a brilliant assault. The admiral had divided his men into three bodies; he commanded the first, the second marched under the orders of Viscount de Noailles, and Arthur Dillon, at the head of the Irish in the service of France, led the third. The cannon on the ramparts were soon directed against the English, who thought to arrive in time to relieve Grenada.

Count d'Estaing went out of port to meet the English admiral; as he was sailing towards the enemy, the admiral made out, under French colors, a splendid ship of war, _Le Fier-Rodrigue,_ which belonged to Beaumarchais, and was convoying ten merchant-men. "Seeing the wide berth kept by this fine ship, which was going proudly before the wind," says the sprightly and sagacious biographer of Beaumarchais, M. de Lomdnie, "Admiral d'Estaing signalled to her to bear down; learning that she belonged


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