Friday, December 7, 2007

Comptroller of Finances Confirms the Economic Disaster in Egypt

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. 3, pp. 84-85.




Cairo, October 10, 1799.

E. POUSSIELGUE, Comptroller of the Expenses of the Army, and Administrator-general of the Finances of Egypt, to the Commissioners of the National Treasury.

Citizen Commissioners,

I SHALL have no account to lay before you till my return to France, or till the freedom and safety of our communications shall be re-established. The present account will be concise: it will be found more detailed in that of your Paymaster-general.

I confine myself to assuring you, that it is not possible to exhibit better order in this department, more integrity and accuracy in the payments, or stricter observance of the rules prescribed by the laws, than your paymaster-general has already shown.

In spite of the most severe economy, the army is extremely in arrear: it already amounts to more than ten millions; and, as our resources are daily diminishing, this arrear must necessarily increase. You will be successively presented with the drafts which we have been obliged to give to different people whom we could by no means pay in specie; I entreat you earnestly to honour them duly, as well for preserving to the army the only means of obtaining credit that are left, as for doing justice to a set of men(1), who are here sacrificing their health, and supporting every kind of privation imaginable.

Health and respect.


[British Translators' Notes]

(1)Poussielgue alludes to those speculators, brokers, &c. who always attend the plundering expeditions of the French, and of whom so striking a description is given by Descorches. See the second part of the Intercepted Correspondence, p. 184.

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