Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Confidential Letter Tells of Arrival in Cairo

From: Copies of original letters from the army of General Bonaparte in Egypt, intercepted by the fleet under the command of Admiral Lord Nelson. With an English translation (London, J. Wright, 1798-1800, 3 vols.), vol. 1, pp. 55-56.


Grand Cairo, July 26th.

To General BOURNONVILLE(1), No. 6t, Rue de Fauxbourg-Honore, at Paris.

WE have been at Cairo four days, my dear General; our march was of the most distressing kind, under a burning sky, over sands, and arid deserts, without water, and without bread! Alexandria was taken by storm, and Cairo fell into our hands after a brisk but short engagement.

I am as well as it is possible to be, in a climate so different from our own as this, and which by no means agrees with me, we shall probably recruit ourselves a little here; we shall then be enabled to ascertain what effects fatigue, and the influence of the climate will have on our constitutions, and thus to decide if we can live here for any length of time.

I have not written to you, my dear General, so much at large as I could have wished; but if we desire to have our letters reach their place of destination, we must make them short: mine is, perhaps, already too long. May I venture to request you to let my family know that you have heard from me.

Believe, my dear General, in my entire attachment; no distance, however great, can weaken it.



[British Translators' Notes]

(1)This is a confidential letter, and seems to shew that Bournonville was a little in the secret of the expedition, hence the bin about the period that a Frenchman might live in Egypt, &c. The remark on the danger of writing long letters we are not quite certain we understand. It is probable (but this is a mere guess) that it was feared they might excite the suspicions of the Commander in Chief, or of the Directory. We have proofs before us, however, that all which were destined to be put into the post officer in France, are single letters, while most of those which were trusted to private conveyance (by far the most numerous are doubled, treble, and sometimes more).

(2) This is the only letter which appears with a single signature. The author had undoubtedly his reasons for it.

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