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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

My poor friend Montault has died on the bed of honor


to his majesty Caron de Beaumarchais,

he felt that it would be a pity not to take advantage of it, and, seeing the exigency of the case, he appointed her her place of battle without asking her proprietor's permission, leaving to the mercy of the waves and of the English the unhappy merchant-ships which the man-of-war was convoying. _Le Fier-Rodrique_ resigned herself bravely to her fate, took a glorious part in the battle off Grenada, contributed in forcing Admiral Byron to retreat, but had her captain killed, and was riddled with bullets." Admiral d'Estaing wrote the same evening to Beaumarchais; his letter reached the scholar-merchant through the medium of the minister of marine. To the latter Beaumarchais at once replied: "Sir, I have to thank you for having forwarded to me the letter from Count d'Estaing. It is very noble in him at the moment of his triumph to have thought how very agreeable it would be to me to have a word in his handwriting. I take the liberty of sending you a copy of his short letter, by which I feel honored as the good Frenchman I am, and at which I rejoice as a devoted adherent of my country against that proud England. The brave Montault appears to have thought that he could not better prove to me how worthy be was of the post with which he was honored than by getting killed; whatever may be the result as regards my own affairs, my poor friend Montault has died on the bed of honor, and I feel a sort of childish joy in being certain that those English who have cut me up so much in their
papers for the last four years will read therein that one of my ships has helped to take from them the most fertile of their possessions. And as for the enemies of M. d'Estaing and especially of yourself, sir, I see them biting their nails, and my heart leaps for joy!"

The joy of Beaumarchais, as well as that of France, was a little excessive, and smacked of unfamiliarity with the pleasure of victory. M. d'Estaing had just been recalled to France; before he left, he would fain have rendered to the Americans a service pressingly demanded of him. General Lincoln was about to besiege Savannah; the English general, Sir Henry Clinton, a more able man than his predecessor, had managed to profit by the internal disputes of the Union, he had rallied around him the loyalists in Georgia and the Carolinas, civil war prevailed there with all its horrors; D'Estaing bore down with his squadron for Savannah. Lincoln was already on the coast ready to facilitate his landing; the French admiral was under pressure of the orders from Paris, he had no time for a regular siege. The trenches had already been opened twenty days, and the bombardment, terrible as it was for the American town, had not yet damaged the works of the English. On the 9th of October, D'Estaing determined to deliver the assault. Americans and French vied with each other in courage. For a moment the flag of the Union floated upon the ramparts, some grenadiers made their way into the place, the admiral was wounded; meanwhile, the losses were great, and perseverance was evidently useless. The assault was repulsed. Count D'Estaing still remained nine days before the place, in hopes of finding a favorable opportunity; he was obliged to make sail for France, and the fleet withdrew, leaving Savannah in the hands of the English. The only advantage from the admiral's expedition was the deliverance of Rhode Island, abandoned by General Clinton, who, fearing an attack from the French, recalled the garrison to New York. Washington had lately made himself master of the fort at Stony Point, which had up to that time enabled the English to command the navigation of the Hudson.


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