[289] Before the close of 1792 the French resolved to send an ambassador to the United States to demand a return of the aid given to the Americans in their revolution, by declaration of war against Great Britain. M. Genet was dispatched for this purpose at the beginning of 1793.[415] Still neutrality was maintained, though our ambassador was withdrawn from Paris, and M. Chauvelin was no longer recognised in an official capacity by the British Court. This gentleman, however, continued in London, ignoring the loss of his official character, and officiously pressing himself on the attention of Ministers as still French plenipotentiary. Lord Grenville was repeatedly obliged to remind him that he had no power to correspond with him officially. He, however, informed him privately that, if the French Government wished to be duly recognised in Great Britain, they must give up their assumed right of aggression on neighbouring countries and of interference with established Governments. The French Girondist Ministers took advantage of this letter which Chauvelin transmitted to them to send a reply, in which, however, having now invaded Holland, they gave no intimation of any intention of retiring. They even declared that it was their intention to go to war with Britain; and if the British Government did not comply with their desires, and enter into regular communication with them, they would prepare for war. Lord Grenville returned this letter, informing Chauvelin again that he could receive no official correspondence from him in a private capacity. This was on the 7th of January, 1793; Chauvelin continued to press his communications on Lord Grenville, complaining of the Alien Bill, and on the 18th presented letters of credence. Lord Grenville informed him, in reply, that his Majesty in the present circumstances could not receive them. These circumstances were the trial and conviction of Louis XVI. On the 24th arrived the news of Louis's execution, and Chauvelin immediately received passports for himself and suite, and an order to quit the kingdom within eight days. This order created the utmost exultation in the French Convention, for the Jacobins were rabid for war with all the world, and on the 1st of February the Convention declared war against Britain, and the news reached London on the 4th. Such was the Ministerial explanation.

As it was necessary that some doctors of note and experience should be sent over to examine the nature of the illness and the condition of the men, the Surgeon-General was ordered to proceed to the spot and make the necessary inquiries; but he replied that it was not in his department, but in that of the Physician-General, Sir Lucas Pepys. Sir Lucas excused himself on account of his age, and recommended some other physicians to be sent out. Both gentlemen were content to receive the country's money easily at home, but although a whole army was perishing, they would not risk their own precious lives. They were dismissed, and their conduct showed the necessity of a thorough reform of the medical establishment of the army. Sir Richard Strachan, though he saw the continuous destruction of the soldiers, strongly recommended Government to retain possession of Walcheren, as a very important naval station, and the Ministry were besotted enough to contemplate fortifying it on an extensive scale, and more men and materials were sent over for that purpose. But, fortunately for the remains of our army there, the Emperor of Austria had now made peace with Buonaparte, and our diversion in his favour here was useless, so, on the 13th of November, orders were sent to Lieutenant-General Don, who had succeeded Sir Eyre Coote, to destroy the docks and fortifications of Flushing,[583] and come away. Thus ended this most fatal expedition, which cost Great Britain twenty millions of money, and many thousands of lives. Of those who survived, thousands had their constitutions broken for ever; and even such as appeared to get over the lingering and insidious Walcheren fever, on being sent to the war in the Peninsula, proved so liable to its return on exposure to wet or cold, that often one-third of these troops were not fit for service. So far from wishing to remove us from Walcheren, Buonaparte wrote to the Minister of War, saying: "We are rejoiced to see that the English have packed themselves in the morasses of Zealand. Let them be only kept in check, and the bad air and fevers peculiar to the country will soon destroy their army." The fatal results of this expedition introduced dissensions into the Cabinet, and soon after occasioned the resignation of Canning. LORD CLIVE. (After the Portrait by Gainsborough.)

But, scarcely had Howe posted himself at Wilmington, when Washington re-crossed the Schuylkill and marched on the British left, hoping to imitate the movement of Cornwallis at the Brandywine which had been so effectual. Howe, aware of the strategy, however, reversed[239] his front, and the Americans were taken by surprise. In this case, Howe himself ought to have fallen on the Americans, but a storm is said to have prevented it, and Washington immediately fell back to Warwick Furnace, on the south bank of French creek. From that point he dispatched General Wayne to cross a rough country and occupy a wood on the British left. Here, having fifteen hundred men himself, he was to form a junction with two thousand Maryland militia, and with this force harass the British rear. But information of this movement was given to Howe, who, on the 20th of September, sent Major-General Greig to expel Wayne from his concealment. Greig gave orders that not a gun should be fired, but that the bayonet alone should be used, and then, stealing unperceived on Wayne, his men made a terrible rush with fixed bayonets, threw the whole body into consternation, and made a dreadful slaughter. Three hundred Americans were killed and wounded, about a hundred were taken prisoners, and the rest fled, leaving their baggage behind them. The British only lost seven men.

At the point at which our former detail of[316] Indian affairs ceased, Lord Clive had gone to England to recruit his health. He had found us possessing a footing in India, and had left us the masters of a great empire. He had conquered Arcot and other regions of the Carnatic; driven the French from Pondicherry, Chandernagore, and Chinsura; and though we had left titular princes in the Deccan and Bengal, we were, in truth, masters there; for Meer Jaffier, though seated on the throne of Bengal, was our mere instrument.