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These intrigues of Goltz, Thulemeyer and others delayed the entente between Great Britain and Prussia; and it was not until definite assurances of support were sent from London to Berlin on August 24 that the diplomatic horizon began to clear. The more decided attitude then taken by the British government resulted from the accentuation of the crisis in Holland. Despite the pacific assurances showered by Montmorin upon Eden, which that envoy received in a very trustful spirit, it was obvious that French agents in Holland were doing their utmost to encourage the Patriots. Montmorin probably acted with sincerity, at least it is difficult to reconcile his resolve (formed about August 20) to recall the mischief-maker, Vérac, with the duplicity of which Carmarthen more than once accused him in his despatches to Eden. Still, there can be no doubt that French volunteers strengthened the Free Corps, and that the confident expectation of French help rendered the States of Holland obdurate.29 The despatches which Carmarthen forwarded to Harris, Ewart and Eden on August 24 show that the British government had then come to consider war as probable. Its alarm was probably caused by Harris's despatch of August 20 describing the march of a body of Free Corps towards the Hague, and his precautions in sending away the archives of the legation and in preparing to retreat with the Stadholder's friends to Brill, where they might be defended by British ships. The capture of the arsenal at Delft by the Free Corps also seemed imminent; and that event would deprive the Orange party of the munitions of war. On August 21 Harris described the capture of Delft; but probably the latter despatch was not received before Carmarthen wrote the decisive missives of August 24. That which he sent to Ewart had the effect of fixing the wavering purposes of the Prussian monarch (so our envoy stated in his despatch of September 4) and inducing him to forward the ultimatum to the States of Holland and to order the Duke of Brunswick to prepare for the advance. The arrival on September 7 of news concerning the rupture between Turkey and Russia helped to clinch the resolve of Frederick William; and even Finckenstein now favored armed intervention in Holland.30 It is curious, as showing the close connection of all parts of the European system, that the resolve of the Sultan to break away from Russian tutelage should have sealed the doom of the democrats in Holland. But so it was. Russia and Austria were thenceforth too occupied to combine against Prussia; and the court of Berlin had no fear of France alone, provided that help from England was assured.

29 There seem grounds for thinking that Ségur, who held the Ministry for War up to August, 1787, was responsible for this help to the Patriots.

** F. O., Prussia, Ewart to Carmarthen, September 8, 1787.

Carmarthen's note of August 24 left no doubt on that point. While stating that Eden had been charged to induce the court of Versailles to acquiesce in Prussia's action, he added that steps were being taken to engage a body of Hessians for the British service. In a secret despatch of the same date he declared that, though naval preparations had been discontinued, Great Britain could send out at short notice a naval force fully equal to that of the French; she would support the King of Prussia, and would act quickly if the need arose.

In the despatch to Harris at the Hague (August 24, 1787) Carmarthen declared that, as France was arming, England would adopt precautionary measures; Lieutenant-General Fawcett had gone to Cassel for the purpose above named, and he would, if necessary, engage 5000 Hessians for the service of the provinces loyal to the Stadholder. A ship would be stationed at Harwich, charged with warlike stores, which Harris might summon if he thought fit.31

Equally significant is Carmarthen's despatch of August 24 to Eden at Versailles. In it he traversed the contention of the French government that their proposed camp at Givet was a natural and proper retort to the assembly of Prussian troops at Wesel. He declared that Great Britain, while entirely approving of the action of His Prussian Majesty in demanding satisfaction from the States of Holland, hoped that it might be obtained without having recourse to extremities; and His Majesty would gladly contribute by all the means in his power to its being amicably arranged; but while the party in Holland persists in refusing this just demand, it appears to His Majesty perfectly just and natural that the King of Prussia should take the necessary steps for enabling him to support it with effect.

He then stated that France could have no interest in opposing this demand which was one of personal honor. If France disliked the King of Prussia's action she should prevail on her party in Holland to offer satisfaction to him. The next thing would be to arrange a suspension of hostilities in the United Provinces, which could be done only by breaking up the cordon of troops, limiting the forces in the provinces to the ordinary quota, and disarming the Free Corps. He then suggested that this might be so done as to give advantage to neither side, the Free Corps giving up their arms on the appointed day to commissioners named by the three mediating powers, who should prevent their recovery by either party unless the negotiations failed. In that case the arms would be returned to their former owners. The conduct of the province of Holland, however, rendered this plan precarious. Another suspicious circumstance was the number of French soldiers in the Free Corps. As for the Prussian proposals for a settlement, they had had the approval of His Majesty. 32

31 F. O., Holland, no. 17.

The opinion of the British government, then, was that the action of the King of Prussia toward the province of Holland was an indispensable preliminary to the joint mediation of the three powers. Naturally enough, France demurred to this view, seeing that she was allied to the United Provinces by the treaty of 1785. The weak side of her case was that she did not persuade the States of Holland to make due reparation. Some of her historians, notably Count Barral de Montferrat, have treated the insult as a very trifling affair, which was adequately explained by the States of Holland. 33 But it is certain that the Prussian monarch did not, and could not, take that view. His hesitation to take decided action is to be regarded, not as a sign that he thought little of the affair, but rather as a proof of his mental instability and of the concern felt at Berlin for the isolation of Prussia and the hostility of Austria. Finally, on September 3, he took the step noticed before; but Ewart declared that he grounded his resolve partly on the reasoning of the Duke of Brunswick, that the seeking of reparation for the insult was distinct from the question of mediation. Grenville had gone to Nimeguen to confer with the Duke of Brunswick ;34 and it is probable that the advice which the duke forwarded to the King of Prussia came originally from Whitehall.

That the States of the province of Holland reckoned on armed help from France is clear from the fact that they rejected the Prussian ultimatum above referred to, and on September 9, 1787, sent a pressing request for help to the court of Versailles. Two of the burgomasters of Patriot towns, Utrecht and Gorcum, also proceeded to Paris a little later and expressed themselves to W. A. Miles as certain of securing it.3 A favorable view of French policy may be seen in the Auckland Papers; but it is necessary to supplement them by documents drawn from the British Foreign Office. On September 4 the British envoy, William Eden, received a confidential note from Montmorin, which traversed the contentions of the British and Prussian governments described above. Montmorin defended the


32 F. O., France, no. 25. 13 Barral de Montferrat, Dix Ans de Pair Armée (1893), chs. xu., xiv. 34 Dropmore Papers, III, 413. 35 Ibid., III. 435

violent actions of the Free Corps in the United Provinces and even stated that the towns where they had forcibly changed the magistrates “ont déjà consommé la réforme: . . . c'est une affaire terminée”. As for the Prince of Orange, he must abdicate in favor of his son. In view of the very critical state of French politics it is difficult to see why Montmorin (despite his personal leaning towards peace) should have adopted this provocative tone. Perhaps it was an attempt to browbeat Great Britain and Prussia. If such was his aim, he failed. On September 8, Carmarthen instructed Eden to protest against the excesses of the Free Corps, which were often officered by Frenchmen. He further stated that an unpleasant impression had been created at Whitehall by the delay of France to accede definitely to the proposals for a joint mediation and pacification of the United Provinces; that no mediation would be possible until the Free Corps were disarmed and disbanded; and that the conduct of England had in no wise changed.

The resulting interview of Eden with Montmorin on September II was "unpleasant”. Montmorin upbraided Eden with the ceaseless suspicions of France harbored by the British government. He even charged it with seeking to amuse France with negotiations, while concocting hostile plans with Prussia. As for disarming the Free Corps, it was as impossible as to control the waves of the sea. France, he asserted, could only very slightly influence the Patriots. No settlement whatever could be arrived at if the Prussians advanced ; and in that case hostilities must be the result. He then referred to the rupture between Russia and Turkey as an unfortunate event, and added that France would seek to prevent the destruction of the Ottoman Empire.36 On September 13 he showed to Eden the appeal for help that had come from the States of Holland, which, he declared, France could not refuse. He accused England of inciting Prussia to this action, though, as he averred, perfectly satisfactory explanations had been given of the slight offered to the Princess of Orange.37 The answer of the British government, on September 19, to these threatening declarations is too long to be quoted in full, but it may be thus summarized:

His Majesty feels deep regret at the resolve of the French court to take steps which so directly lead to a rupture. His Majesty still hopes to see the Dutch troubles peacefully settled; but he cannot be a quiet spectator of armed interference on the part of France.

36 F. O., France, no. 26, Eden to Carmarthen, September 11, 1787. This last statement refutes that of Count Barral de Montferrat, op. cit., p. 217, that Montmorin looked on the Eastern war as opening up more promising vistas for Prussia than Holland offered; e. g., a raid into Bohemia or Finland !

** Auckland Journals, I. 522-530.


The British government has not departed from its avowed intentions. 11. Montmorin himself formerly expressed a desire for satisfaction to the King of Prussia, but no result accrued from it. The notes of the States of Holland resemble a justification more than an apology. The States General have often disavowed the acts of the States of Holland; and France, if she interferes, will be supporting a party who act in direct opposition to the sentiments of that ally" (the United Provinces). His Majesty must therefore give orders for naval preparations; but he will strive to avert the evils of war, and will carry on the negotiations. No answer has been received to the British proposals in the despatch of August 24 for the basis of joint mediation. The violence of the Free Corps and the avowed inability of France to restrain them make it necessary that disarmament shall be the first of such proposals; but if this be impossible at the outset, it must take place in the sequel as a prelude to any settlement. The pay of the troops disbanded by the province of Holland must also be paid. For the rest, the Prussian proposals may well be taken as a basis, as Montmorin has not formally objected to them. The Stadholder must also be restored to his duties as captaingeneral, and to his powers as specified in 1766. If this is agreed to, very much may be hoped from the joint mediation of the three courts. No notice will be taken of the charges of insincerity against England.

Another despatch to Eden of the same date informed him that Grenville would at once proceed to Paris on a special mission. The instructions drawn up for his guidance, dated September 21, require him firstly to discover whether peace may be preserved. The chief points to be aimed at are the right of the King of Prussia to gain reparation for the insult to his family. The settlement of Dutch affairs must also be such as to preserve the constitution in its essential points, and authority must not be allowed to pass into the hands of those opposed to Great Britain. This must be distinctly stated to the French court, and any opposition to this must be regarded as a sign of hostility. Any changes in the Réglements of some of the provinces must be referred to the free deliberations of their States. Any attempt of the French court to protract the discussions must be discouraged as far as possible.

Other despatches of the same date to Harris and Ewart make it clear that the British government still looked forward to a joint mediation of the three powers. The obvious inability of France to draw the sword did not lead the British cabinet to decide to oust her from the proposed mediation. On the contrary, if she had recognized the facts of the situation, or showed a desire to co-operate on

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