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them between him and the land. The lieutenant says that an action must have happened ; a general anxiety prevails, but less than you could have supposed. Owe friends look a little blue. The times are big with events. I have no doubt of our beating them, unless the same devil who turmoiled the 27th of July, 1778, has still his black.hand at our admiral's helm. The express counted sixty-three sail, 'tis said of the line; I hope sixty-three was the number of the whole. Should any new lights come ere the post sets out, you may be put to the expence of another ninepencc. We may probably demand the swords of the S. Fencibles, in this part of the world.
"Yours, very affectionately,
"James Macpherson. "Tuesday, two o'Clock, Aug. 17, 1779."
"Tuesday, two tf Clock, Aug. 31. "Nothing new of the fleets. By the last official accounts, the C. d'Orvilliers, with fifty of the line, had advanced to where Sir Charles Hardy had been left, on the 19th. Our fleet had been driven further west. 'Twas thought Sir Charles was on another tack, and about twelve leagues off. There are thirty-two French, and eighteen Spaniards of the line, with D'Orvilliers, sixteen of the line with D. Lewis de Cordova, in sight. The fifty under D'Orvilliers are in this order :—Forty-five divided into three squadrons; these subdivided into nine lesser squadrons, each consisting of three French and two Spaniards; five ships of the line, under the Chevalier de la Touche-Trerille, destined to conduct the transports, should our fleet suffer itself to be beat or blocked up in a port. Official information says, that the embarkation at St Male's was to have begun on Friday last, the 27th. Some reports came to-day, that 32,000 were at sea. The wind is truly an invasion wind—two points to the west of south. We think here> that Hardy ought to beat 'em; others say, he will miss them and gain the Channel. I am not under great apprehensions; and John Bull keeps up his spirits wonderfully. All is calm, tranquil, and easy here. The stocks don't fall; and all the animal functions, and even pleasures, go on as usual. We shall hear some news soon. 'Tis a time of anxious suspense to speculative men."
"September 3d, 1779.
"This morning an express from Sir C. Hardy. He was coming up Channel—the combined fleet behind, it is said, under a press of sail, in pursuit. The fogs which prevailed at the mouth of the Channel during the east wind, prevented their meeting. All was involved in night. They mutually heard the signal guns, but could not see each other. We expect a decisive action. I am not of that opinion. John Bull is perfectly indifferent. Stocks rise; yet the fate of the kingdom may depend on the turning up of the dye. One is disgusted with the white lies of the day. I believe the Bourbons are serious. Johnston's fifty gun Romney is thrown out of the line. Hardy is in great spirits—so is the whole fleet. But, if we look back, through time, we never had a sea-advantage over France, but with superiority of numbers. I hope to announce a victory in my next. The times are critical. A defeat would involve us in confusion. I don't think that drilling business ought to be your province in these times. The battle will happen, perhaps, at Spithead. Though I ought to know many things, they communicate nothing. The bell-man is at flie door."
The next class of letters, from Lord Bute, I think may be considered historical, in so far as they seem to me decisively to contradict an idea very generally entertained at the time, and frequently repeated since, that there was a certain secret influence possessed by that nobleman, which regulated the choice of ministers, if not the adoption of measures; and placed between the people and the sovereign, a sort of intermediate and invisible agency, possessed of power without responsibility, which therefore, the constitutional authority of parliament could not directly controul, nor the voice of the public its applause or its censure easily reach. From the letters I am now to read, on the contrary, it appears that Lord Bute, when he did retire from official situation, retired in good earnest, and was happy to be relieved from all concern whatever with public matters. In such retirement, he felt himself, as he conceived, neglected and forgotten, much beyond the degree of neglect and oblivion which commonly follows the relinquishment of power.
The first letter, dated 20th September, 1755, may serve as an answer to the accusation brought against him by Lord Chatham, when boasting of having called forth the valour of Scotsmen and Highlanders in the service of their country. "It was not the country I objected to, but the man of that country; because he wanted wisdom, and held principles incompatible with freedom."
London, September 20, 1755. "Dear Hume,
"I Have been living a most unsettled life ever since I received your first. Real business should plead for my silence, and yet I am loath to make that excuse, because it sounds like an affected one. I know you so well, that I flatter myself you will be satisfied with assurances, that it no way proceeded
from any want of regard or real esteem. I long much to know how Douglas goes on. Garrick and I have never met since I saw you. I don't much like that scheme of shewing your play to Mallet; for I own I have not that great opinion of his taste; but prudential reasons with regard to Garrick may make it necessary. Since Lady Dalkeith's intended marriage has been owned, I, from being an utter stranger to Mr Townshend, have little interest with her; but I have imparted to my brother your request, who will, I am certain, do what he can.
"I once thought of sending a beautiful ode of Voltaire's on the lake of Geneva, but I see they have printed it, so that you will certainly see it; and yet I must give you here a few lines out of it:—
"Ce Loi est le premier; c'est sur ces bords heureux,
"Again, talking of the people's success in defending Geneva against the sovereign, he says,
"Leurs fronts sont Couronnez, de ces fleurs Que la Grece, aux Champs de Marathon, prodiguoit aux vainquers.