Wednesday, October 31, 2007

French Captain Chronicles Arrival 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. 1, pp. 96-98.


Head Quarters, Cairo, July 27.

Dear Mother,

I TAKE the earliest opportunity of acquainting you with the arrival of the French army, in which I have the honour to serve, at Alexandria in Egypt. On our passage we took possession of the island, port, and city of Malta, which is 1100 leagues from Toulon; and now we are at Grand Cairo, the capital city of Egypt, which is 1000 leagues from France(1).

I suffered a vast deal during two months that our voyage lasted. During the whole time, I was sea-sick, without intermission, and brought up blood all day long. When we set foot upon land, however, under the walls of Alexandria, I was cured of my sea-sickness, but my sufferings were by no means at an end.

We lost 300 men in scaling the ramparts of the city. After a halt of four days, we set out in pursuit of the Arabs, who had retreated and encamped in the Desert: but the first night of our march was a very terrible one for me. I was with the advanced guard: we came suddenly upon a corps of the enemy’s cavalry; and my horse, which you know was always a very hot one, was the unfortunate cause of all my trouble. He sprung forward like a lion, upon the horses and horsemen of the enemy; but unluckily, in rearing, he fell quite backwards, and to avoid being crushed to death, I was obliged to fling myself on one side of him. As it was night, I had not time to seize him again: he got up, and set off like lightning after the enemy’s cavalry, which was quitting the field.

I had put on all my old clothes, for the sake of preserving my new ones, which were packed up in my portmanteau; so that I lost my horse completely bridled and saddled, my pistols, my cloak, my portmanteau, every thing that was in it, my clothes, twenty-four louis d’ors which I received at Marseilles to fit me out; and, what is still worse, my port-folio, which contained all my papers.

Thus I found myself in an instant stript of every thing, and obliged to march barefoot for nineteen days on the burning sand and gravel of the Desert; for the very day after this unhappy affair, I lost the soles of my old boots which I happened to have on my legs: my coat and my old breeches were very soon torn to a thousand tatters:--not having a bit of bread to eat, nor a drop of water to moisten my mouth, all the comfort I had was in cursing and damning the trade of war, more than hundred times a day.

At last, on the 22d of this month, we arrived at the gates of Cairo, where all the enemy’s army was intrenched, and waiting for us with great boldness; but without our usual impetuosity we marched to attack them in their intrenchments; in about three quarters of an hour, they had 3000 killed outright; the rest not being able to save themselves, plunged into the Nile, which is a river as large as the Rhine—consequently they were all drowned, or shot under water. After such a victory, we entered, with drums beating, into the city of Cairo; consequently masters of all Egypt.

I do not know, my dear mother, when I shall have the pleasure of seeing you. I repent much and much of ever coming here; but it is now too late: in a word, I resign myself to the Supreme will. In spite of the seas which separate us, your memory will be always graven on my heart, and the moment circumstances permit, I will break through all obstacles to return to my country.

Adieu—take care of yourself—a thousand things to my relations.

Your son,



[British Translators' Notes]

(1)The French are poor geographers in general, but the ridiculous miscalculations above, is probably a mistake; it is, however, correctly translated. We have several other letters from this unhappy youth, from which it appears that he is a Captain in the 25th half-Brigade. As he afterwards relates that the enemy’s cavalry were all killed or taken, we hope we may congratulate him on the recovery of his charger, and his new clothes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Napoleon's Brother is Told Victory over the Mameloucs was "Complete"

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. 93.


Head Quarters, Gizeh, July 27th.

To Citizen LOUIS BONAPARTE, Aid de Camp to the Commander in Chief, at Alexandria.

THE Commander in Chief charges me, my dear Louis, to announce to thee the victory which he gained on the 24th of this month, over the Mameloucs. It was complete. It took place at Embabet, nearly opposite Boulac. We reckon the loss of the enemy in killed and wounded at about 2000 men; 40 pieces of cannon, and a number of horses. Our loss was moderate. The Beys are fled to Upper Egypt. The General marches this evening to Cairo.

He charges me also to bid thee set out immediately with all his baggage, (his carriages, and his horses from Malta, and his carriage from Civita Vecchia) for Rosetta, where thou wilt find some boats of the country, a battalion of the 89th, and the Adjutant-General Almeyras, with whom thou wilt ascend the Nile, and join us at Cairo. Leave nothing of all thy brother's baggage at Alexandria, but his handsome travelling carriage.

Do not forget, my friend, the baggage which we left at Alexandria: we are all in the greatest want of it imaginable; nor yet the wine, the books, nor the two packages of paper, one marked with the General's name, and the other with Collot's. I embrace thee.


Monday, October 29, 2007

General Claims the French Conquered the "Largest City in the World"

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. 90-91.


Head Quarters, Grand Cairo, July.

RAMPON, General of Brigade, commanding the 18th and 32d Demi-Brigades of Battle.

Dear Brother,

I PROMISED in my last to write you from the largest(1) city in the world; and I hasten to prove to you how desirous I am of keeping my word.

It is impossible for me to enter into any details on our present situation, or on the privations we underwent in our march; the immediate departure of the vessel will not allow it—but the dispatches of the Commander in Chief, which you will be sure to see in the papers, will fully inform you of every thing that has passed. Milhot, and the eldest Rampon distinguished themselves in the battle of the Pyramids. Milhot was made Lieutenant on the field, and Rampon second Lieutenant, of the 7th regiment of hussars. I have now only the youngest on my hands; and in the next action that occurs, I doubt not but that I shall find an opportunity of providing for him—to tell you the truth, I am extremely well pleased with them all.

Adieu, my dear brother; may you as well as my sister, continue to enjoy your health: with respect to my own, it is not yet to be complained of; but I am fatigued to death, and the heats of this country take away all my strength. In a word, we must have patience, and courage; with these, we shall one day or other, perhaps, have the happiness of returning to our dear country.

Adieu, I embrace you with the utmost affection—a thousand and a thousand kind things to my sister, and to all our family; to all our friends, male and female, and to my sister Trappier, to whom I have not time to write.


Souillier, Milhot, and our two nephews, beg me to say every thing kind to you.


[British Translators' Notes]

(1)This is much for a Frenchman to say, but so he was told as Paris, and so he will continue to repeat. Cairo is far enough from being the largest city in the world, or even in Europe: London itself is twice as large.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

French Commissary Demands Provisions of Wine, Brandy, Rum

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. 83-88.


Grand Cairo, July 27.

GENERAL Desaix enjoins me, my dear Douzelot, to request thee not to forget his baggage; and we are persuaded that it is unnecessary to put thee in mind of our own. We look for it as anxiously as for the coming of the Messiah—leave nothing behind, positively nothing.

Belonging to General Desaix.

4 Trunks.
1 Portmanteau.
1 Forme(1) with curtains, and a small box.
1 Writing desk.
2 Mattresses, 1 white coverlet, 1 pair of sheets.
1 Horse cloth, 1 chaise seat, and a chaise on board the transport, No. 54.
16 Deal cases, marked with the General’s name, containing wine.
1 Tun pitched at both ends, and containing wine.
1 Barrel of vinegar.
5 Bottles of wine in a coffer in Citizen Le Roi’s closet.

All which you will find in the bread-room of the ship.

To Clement.

1 Trunk—his direction is on it.
1 Portmanteau, and his hammock.

To Rap.

1 Large leather case, 1 trunk, and his hammock.

To Savary

1 Black square trunk.
1 Ditto, long.
1 Blue portmanteau.
1 Case containing saddles—it is a flat square one, and shuts with a lock.

[Sick or not, I must have my servant]

My hammock if possible, and if not, my mattress, my coverlet, my sheets, and my bolster.

It thou hast an opportunity of purchasing a few bottles of good rum, do it.

We have no cook here; if thou can’st find one, bring him with thee.

Tell thy servant to go on board the transport where the horses are, and fetch Joli-coeur’s baggage; tell him too, to ask Citizen Martin, quarter-master of the 20th dragoons, for the portmanteau of the dragoon.

Alex. Timber, who is with me at present, and looks after my horse.

If thou find’st any difficulty in embarking Desaix’s carriage, the General wishes thee to take it on shore, have it put together, and then lay it up in some safe place in Alexandria.

Thy brother charges me to tell thee to bring every thing that belongs to him, as well as to thyself, and to forget nothing—positively nothing.

Do not forget Bourdon’s things.

If thou can’st not embark thy horse, sell him, or turn him over to the artillery, and take receipt for him. We will find thee one here; thy brother has three.

We wish thee to pay a little attention to what follows: In crossing the Desert one night, we had our quarters beat up, and during the confusion, lost a mare of General Desaix’s, saddled and bridled (of the 7th hussars), thy brother’s two horses, my own, saddled (of the 20th dragoons), a black mare, one of Rap’s (of the 7th hussars), and one of Clement’s, dock-tailed; they all galloped off, and, as we hear, were stopped at Rosetta, and sent to the depot of the artillery. If thou canst discover them in passing that way, take receipts for them, and we shall be paid the money here.

I write what follows, at the request, and, indeed, in the words of thy brother; “We live here more wretchedly than ever we lived in our lives; we have not one drop of wine, nor even brandy.” Thy brother intreats thee to take measures for bringing on shore as much of both as possible (not less than a tun of each) from the transports of Civita Vecchia. Remember to get all though canst from Collasse(2).

Do not forget; wine, brandy, and rum; it is an age since we have been in the utmost need of them all. There is very little here, and that little is extremely bad, above all price, and not to be procured.

Another thing which thou art desired to do, is to embark the packages of shoes and shirts for the division, as well as the baggage of General Desaix. The men are absolutely without either, and we fear they will be given to others.

If thou art in want of money, take some of mine, and set it down.

Adieu; we expect thee; do the best thou canst; above all, do not forget that we shall have no wine nor brandy but what thou bringest with thee; remember too, that of the sixteen deal cases, fourteen belong to General Bonaparte. In the name of God, bring us our baggage and our brandy; the whole army is ill of a diarrhea, with drinking water. In the name of God, WINE, BRANDY, AND RUM(3). Don’t forget the baggage of General Beliard; leave nothing at Alexandria, at least as little as possible: as for Miereur(4), thou knowst that he is killed.



We are going to send you sixty of the country barks; there is possibility of your finding some tartans at Alexandria, in that case I would have you endeavour to come in one of them. Bring my servant with you, sick or well; I will cure him here.


[British Translators' Notes]

(1) Kind of settee, or stuffed cushion, to sleep on.

(2) Commissary at war, and superintendant of the port, & of Alexandria.

(3) Anxiety cannot be expressed in stronger words than these before us; it marks the distresses to which the French were reduced, and the urgent want of those indispensable articles of health and convenience which were left at Alexandria, in the most striking manner.

It is proper in this place, to inform such of our readers as may not be well acquainted with the topical history of Egypt, that Alexandria, where all the baggage and all the stores were left when the army marched to Cairo, is situated in the Desert, properly speaking, and has no communication whatever with Egypt (at least in its present circumstances) but by that branch of the Nile which throws itself into the sea below Rosetta.

It follows, therefore, that while the coast is in our possession (which it now completely is, by the glorious victory of the first of August), nothing of consequence can pass; and the correspondence between the two parts of the French army (that of Alexandria and that of Cairo) is nearly as impracticable (at least as to any purpose of relief) as if the Atlantic rolled between them.

An army, indeed, might cross the Deserts, as Bonaparte’s did, but the French have not now any armies to spare; and if they had, it is not sure that they would attempt it, after the experience they have had of its difficulties and dangers. And even if they should, nothing would be gained by it, for they could carry nothing with them; no, not a day’s provisions, and if they ever reached Cairo, it would be only to perish under the same wants as those who preceded them.

One word more—it appears from some of these letters, that the transports and troops at Alexandria were in the greatest need of water and provisions; the latter, Bonaparte was sending them from Cairo, in sixty schermes, or country boats, which, when the latest of these dispatches were made up, had not reached Rosetta; and most certainly will never get to Alexandria.

What the wants of the grand army at Cairo are, our readers have seen: we will take upon us confidently to predict, that they will never be supplied; for if the little skiff that was creeping along shore to Alexandria with these letters, could not escape the vigilance of our indefatigable tars, how can larger vessels hope to do it? Add to this, that the mouth of the Nile is exceedingly difficult to be passed, on account of the surf that always prevails upon the bar, and asks a thousand precautions which can only be taken in a time of full security.

What the effect of this want of communication may be at Alexandria, we know not; at Cairo it must be dreadful. “In the name of God,” says Savary, “bring us our brandy and our rum, for the whole army is ill of a diarrhea.” Observe, this is the army which Bonaparte and Berthier represent, in their official dispatches, as in perfect health! We want no better test of their veracity!

(4)”Mireur,” says Bonaparte, in his official letter to the Directory, dated July 24th, “and several other aid-du-camps, and officers of the staff, have been killed by these wretches” (the Arabs, who, if killing makes them wretches, are certainly not greater wretches than the French; some people may think not so great); “the Republic has sustained a loss in Mireur; he was “the Bravest General I ever knew;” and then follows some impious rant about destiny, &c. We gather from the correspondence, that the army are all turned decided fatalists. We do not wonder at it, for, if we must speak our minds, we will venture to pronounce, that prudence or forecast had very little to do with the expedition.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Officer Recalls Arrival at 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. 76-79.


Boulac, near Cairo, July 27th.


WE are arrived at length, my friend, at the spot so much and so eagerly desired! How different is it from what the most cool and temperate imagination had figured it to be! This execrable doghole of a city is inhabited by a lazy set of wretches, who squat all day before their filthy huts, smoking, and taking coffee, or eating pumpions, and drinking water.

It is easy enough to lose ones-self for a whole day in the stinking and narrow streets of this illustrious capital. The quarter of the Mameloucs [Mamluks] is the only one which is habitable; the Commander in Chief resides there in a tolerable and handsome house, which belonged to one of the Beys. I have written to the Chief of Brigade, Dupuis(2), at present General and Governor of Cairo, to reserve a house for thee. I have not yet received his answer.

The division is quartered in a kind of town, called Boulac, upon the Nile, about half a league from Cairo. We are all lodged in houses deserted by the owners, and wretched enough in all conscience. Dugua’s is the only one which is tolerable.

General Lannes has just received an order to take the command of Menou’s division, in the room of the Vial, who is going to Damietta with a battalion. He assures me that he will not accept it. The 2d light battalion, and General Verdier, are stationed near the Pyramids, on the left bank of the Nile, till the position which he occupies can be fortified, so as to receive a garrison of a hundred men.

A bridge is intended to be thrown over the river, nearly opposite Gizeh. The spot is at present occupied by the reserve of the artillery and engineers. Regnier’s division is stationed two or three leagues in front of Cairo; Desaix’s is about to occupy Old Cairo; Bon’s is stationed in the citadel, and Menou’s in the city.

Thou hast not an idea of the fatiguing marches we made to get to Cairo; never halting till three or four o’clock in the afternoon, after broiling in the sun all day; the greatest part of the time without food; obliged to glean what the divisions which preceded us had left in those detestable villages, which they had frequently pillaged; and harassed during the whole march by those hordes of robbers called Bedouins, who killed not only our men, but our officers, at five-and-twenty paces from the main body. The Aid-de-camp of General Dugua, called Geroret, was shot in this manner as he was carrying an order to a file of grenadiers, not a musket shot from the camp. It is a more destructive war, on my soul! Than that of La Vendee.

We had an engagement the day we arrived in the neighbourhood of Cairo. The Mameloucs, who had the good sense(3) to place themselves on the left bank of the Nile, offered us battle, and got a good beating. We call it the Battle of the Pyramidsl they lost (to speak without exaggeration) seven or eight hundred men; of these, a great portion perished in attempting to swim across the Nile.

I wish very much to know how thou art, and when thou think’st thou shalt be able to come and take the command of the division, which is in very feeble hands(4).

Every body is desirous of having thee here. There is a general relaxation in the service: I do all I can to preserve unity among the different parties; but all goes very ill. The troops are neither paid nor fed; and thou may’st easily guess what murmurs this occasions:--they are loudest perhaps among the officers. We are cajoled with promises, that in a week’s time the administrations will be sufficiently organizes to enable them to make their distributions regularly—but a week is still too long.

If thou com’st soon, which I most ardently wish, take care to be escorted even on board, by a party of fusiliers, capable of securing thee from the attacks of the Arabs, who will most assuredly make their appearance on the banks of the Nile, and endeavour to destroy thee in thy bark.

The first Commissary, Sucy, had his arm fractured on board the flotilla, in his passage to Cairo. Thou may’st perhaps come to us in the gun-boats, lighters, &c. which have been dispatched to bring round the baggage of the army from Alexandria.—come, come, prithee come!

Thine entirely.


My regards to Augustus and his Colleagues.


[British Translators' Notes]

(1)This well written letter is from one of the best officers in the French service; it is another proof of what we observed in a former page, that Kleber had no attempts made on his credulity; every thing is represented to him in its true light.

(2)See a letter from him, No. XXIII.

(3)L’Esprit in the original; Damas speaks ironically. It is evident that if those brave and unfortunate men had not entered into a pitched battle, but retired before the enemy to the right bank of the Nile, and contended themselves with harassing them, and disputing the passage, the whole army must in this case have been destroyed. Nothing, in short, but a blind reliance on their own courage, and a total ignorance of the European manner of fighting, could have induced between three and four thousand men (for this was their utmost number) to attack 24,000 of the best troops of France, furnished with artillery, and bristled with an impenetrable force of bayonets. That they should be defeated, is not so wonderful as that they should be able to do any injury at all to the French—which we yet find they did.

Bonaparte reckons his loss, in his letter to the Directory, at 150 killed and wounded; in another letter (not to the Directory) he states the number to be 210; most probably it was the greater still. We are glad, however, to find from the authentic statement before us, that the loss of the Mameloucs was not so great. Damas reckons it at 700 or 800 men, and even so, he is apprehensive that he shall be suspected of exaggeration. This is more than was necessary to teach us to read the rhapsodies of the Commander in Chief cum grano.—

(4)These feeble hands are Dugua’s; the division was intrusted to him, in consequence of Kleber’s wound, which detained that General at Alexandria. The remainder of this letter is highly important.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bonaparte Issues Orders for Provincial Government of 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. 1, pp. 69-72.

BONAPARTE, Member of the National Institute, Commander in Chief, to the General of Division, KLEBER.

Annexed to this, Citizen General, you will find a copy of the provisional organization of Egypt(1).

You will name the Divan, the Aga, and the company of sixty men which he is to have with him.

You will cause an inventory to be taken of all the goods, moveables, and immoveables, which belonged to the Mameloucs. The Intendant, and the French Agent are on the point of repairing their posts.

You will order a general levy of horses to be made, to remount the cavalry.

I entreat you to take every precaution to preserve tranquility and good order in the province of Alexandria.



[Bonaparte’s Attached Orders]

Head Quarters, Cairo, July 27.

BONAPARTE, Member of the National Institute, Commander in Chief.


Article I.

There shall be in each province of Egypt, a Divan composed of seven persons, charged to watch over the interests of the province, to inform me of every grievance, to prevent the contests which arise between the different villages, to keep a steady eye over the turbulent and seditious, to punish them by calling in the military force under the French Commander, and to enlighten the people as often as it shall be found requisite.

Article 2.

There shall be in each province an Aga of the Janizaries, who shall constantly reside with the French Commandant. He shall have with him a company of armed men, natives of the country; with whom he shall proceed wherever his services may be necessary to maintain good order, and to keep every one in tranquility and obedience.

Article 3.

There shall be every province an Intendant, charged with the collection of the Miri and the Feddam; and generally of all the revenues which belonged heretofore to the Mameloucs, and which appertain at present to the Republic. He shall have with him the necessary number of agents.

Article 4.

There shall always be with the said Intendant, a French Agent; for the purpose of corresponding with the Administrator of the Finances, for insuring the execution of such orders as he may receive, and for acquiring a perfect knowledge of the system of administration.



A true copy,


[British Translators' Notes]

(1)We scarce know whether this famous code, which we do not yet despair of hearing some enlightened senator call “a masterpiece of human wisdom and integrity,” be most distinguished for its folly or atrocity. The people whom Bonaparte loudly professes he came to relieve, are to have the liberty of paying the taxes which they paid to the Mameloucs, to an Intendant assisted by a company of fusiliers, in the shape of agents, who, if they (the people) do not appear fully sensible of the blessing thus thrust upon them (As, God knows, may very innocently be the case!) are, in the words of this great constitution-monger, “to enlighten them!”

The reader will find more on this head in our Introductions, to which we willingly refer him. To say the truth we are glad to escape from the subject, as we contemplate with no agreeable feelings, the spectacle of a man (though that man be Bonaparte), thus ignorantly and wantonly, and barbarously playing with the happiness of a nation, which never injured, perhaps never heard of him, or his rapacious masters. One consolation yet remains, and we honestly confess that we have not Stoicism enough, to deny ourselves the gratification of enjoying it by anticipation. Egypt is the last country that Bonaparte will ever insult with the mockery of liberty: he has run his career of impiety and deceit, of pillage and desolation:--

“The sun sets on his fortunes red and bloody,
And everlasting night begins to close him.”

Napoleon Orders General to Retake Maltese Riches

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. 63-66.


Head Quarters, Cairo July 27.

BONAPARTE, Member of the National Institute, Commander in Chief, to the General of Division, KLEBER.

Citizen General,

THERE is here a very excellent mint. We shall again have occasion for all the ingots(1) which we left with the merchants of Alexandria, in exchange for the specie of the country; I request you, therefore, to call together all the merchants with whom the said ingots were exchanged, and to re-demand them. I will give them in lieu of the bullion, wheat and rice, of which we have immense quantities.

Our poverty in specie is equal to our riches in commodities: this circumstance absolutely compels me to take as many ingots as possible from the merchants, and to give them corn, &c. in exchange(2).

I have heard nothing from you since I left Alexandria. You have doubtless heard many idle rumours, and alarms. I have sent you several letters by the people of the country, which I fear have been intercepted by the Arabs, as has most probably been the case with those which you have sent me. I am now all impatience to hear from you; as you have undoubtedly by this time received intelligence from France.

We have undergone more hardships than many among us had courage to support: at present, we are recovering ourselves a little at Cairo, which is not deficient in supplies. All our troops have joined.

The Officers of the Staff will have acquainted you with the military transaction which preceded our entry into this place. It was tolerably brilliant. Two thousand of the best mounted Mameloucs were driven into the Nile.

The army is in the greatest want of its baggage. I have dispatched the Adjutant-General Almeyras with a battalion of the 85th, and an immense quantity of provisions for the fleet, to Rosetta. He is commissioned on his return to take on board his flotilla, all the baggage, &c. of the army, and to escort it to the Cairo.

Order the Staff Officers of the different corps, charged with the care of the magazines, to send them all to Rosetta.

Send us our Arabic and French printing-presses. See that they embark all the wine, brandy, tents, shoes(3), &c. Send round all these articles by sea to Rosetta: and as the Nile is now upon its increase, they will find no difficulty in passing up that river to Cairo.

I am anxious to hear of your health. I hope it will be speedily re-established, and that you will be soon in a condition to come and join us.

I have written to Louis(4) to set out for Rosetta immediately, with all my baggage.

Since I wrote this, I have found in a garden belonging to one of the Mameloucs, a letter from Louis—this convinces me that one of your couriers has been intercepted by these people.




[British Translators' Notes]

(1)These ingots were formed from the gold and silver previously stolen by this rapacious freebooter from the church of St. John, where the Maltese kept their public treasury. See the Letter of the Bailly of Teigna, and the Manifestoes of the different commanders.

(2)To force one kind of plunder on the merchants, by way of payment, and then to take it from them again in exchange for some other which can be more conveniently spared, is a proceeding so perfectly consonant to the French ideas of justice, and has been so frequently employed by them, wherever they have had power to put it in practice, as their good friends and allies can testify, that it scarce deserves notice.

But we could fain ask the General how the country can be poor in specie, when it appears from his letter to the Directory, written only three days before the present, that every Mamelouc had three or four hundred pounds in his pocket. “The Mameloucs,” says he, (see all the papers of the 31st of October) “shewed great bravery. They defended their fortunes, for there we not one of them on whom our soldiers did not find three, four, and five hundred louis”!!!

Now it appears from the same account, that the number of Mameloucs engaged was 6000. It is but fair to suppose that those who escaped were as rich as those who fell: 6000, therefore, multiplied by 400, the average of their fortunes, gives a total of 2,400,000 louis—no despicable sum for a country so poor in specie; and probably not a great deal less than what might be found in the pockets, or even in the possession, of the same number of people in any army in France—a country, as we all know, so rich in specie!

Further; the soldiers must have found on the 2000 Mameloucs, who, as the general says in his letter to the Directory, were killed, 800,000 louis, by the fairest calculation: now we think that some method might have been found to persuade them to resign their plunder for a time (especially as they seem to enjoy few opportunities of wasting it); and thus to have spared Bonaparte the mortification, and Kleber the infamy, of compelling the merchants of Alexandria to take what they do not want, in exchange for what they cannot spare!

Shall we now be serious? We do not believe that the Mameloucs had a single louis about them: rich arms and clothing they certainly had; and if the French should ever return home (as, if it please God, they never will), they may probably turn them to some account: at present, all these fine things are mere incumbrances to them.

We do not know the reason of it, but we constantly observe that none of the army attempt to cajole Kleber. He is almost the only one to whom things are represented as they really are—And Bonaparte, whose letter to the Cockneys of Paris, representing Egypt as almost paved with gold, was scarce dry; sits down to tell this, sagacious and penetrating General, that there is none to be found in it; and that he has no resource but the plundered ingots of Malta!

(3)We have already observed that not one of these articles can reach Cairo. The port of Alexandria is hermetically sealed, and however urgent the wants of the army may be, they must learn to bear them.

(4)His brother. He alludes to Boursienne’s letter, see No. XIV.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bonaparte Sends Orders to his Admiral

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. 58-60.


Head Quarters, Cairo, July 27.

BONAPARTE, Member of the National Institute, Commander in Chief, to Admiral BRUEYS.

AFTER a number of very fatiguing marches, and some fighting, we are at length arrived in Cairo. I am extremely well satisfied with the conduct of the Chief of Division, Perree, and I have therefore promoted him to the rank of Rear Admiral.

I hear from Alexandria(1) that a channel, such as we could wish, has been discovered; and by this time, I flatter myself, you are already in the port with all your fleet.

There is no occasion for you to be under any uneasiness with respect to the subsistence of your men. This country is rich in wheat, pulse, rice, and cattle, almost beyond imagination.

I persuade myself, that to-morrow, or the day after at the farthest, I shall hear from you,--which I have not yet done since my departure from Alexandria.

The instant you inform me what you have done, and in what situation you are, you shall receive further orders from me respecting what we have yet to do.

Some of the staff-officers have undoubtedly given you an account of our late victory.

I take it for granted, that you have a frigate cruising off Damietta. As I am sending troops to take possession of that town, I must request you to order the captain of the frigate to keep as near the land as possible, and to open a communication with our forces: who will be in possession of the place by the time this reaches you.

Send off the courier whom I have dispatched to you immediately: put him on shore wherever you think it best.—In this, you will of course be guided by what you hear of the enemy’s fleet, and by the winds which prevail at this season.

I could wish that you would send him in a frigate, which should have positive orders to stay no longer than eight-and-forty hours in any port where she might land him (whether Malta or Ancona)—in this case, you might charge the captain to bring us back all the journals, and all the information which our agents may have collected.

I have dispatched by the Nile, a prodigious quantity of provisions to Alexandria, to pay for the freight of the transports there(2).

Say a thousand kind things to Ganteaume and Casabianca.

I salute you.



[British Translators' Notes]

(1) We shall not remark on the general strain of coldness that runs through this letter; but merely call the reader’s attention for a moment to the passage we have marked: “I hear,” he says, “from Alexandria,” &c. It looks as if the General’s anxiety to detain the fleet he induced him to depart from the line of fair conduct, and tamper, unknown to the Admiral, with some of the officers at Alexandria. Brueys (see his letter to the minister of marine, No. IV.) had already employed two persons very well qualified (as he writes) to examine the ground, and their report had not yet been made; so that there is something extremely suspicious in the premature information thus obtained by Bonaparte.

(2) See the next letter.

(3) This is the letter of which Bonaparte speaks in his dispatches of the 19th of August. If the reader has gone through it attentively, which we hope he has, we will beg leave to ask him two questions;--first, whether he finds any mention of returning to Corfou in it, which the General says there was?—and secondly, whether the whole tenour of it does not militate against his (Bonaparte’s) having the smallest idea of such a thing? When he has answered these two questions, as we think he must, we will not trouble him for his opinion of the General’s veracity.

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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

French Voyage Characterized by Hunger, Despair

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. 52-53.


Terzi, July 25th.


I HASTEN, my dear friend, to give thee some account of myself, and to say a few words to thee on the hardships and dangers we have experienced.

The uncertainty in which I still remain respecting the fate of my baggage, gives me from time to time the greatest uneasiness. I am almost in a state of nakedness, having nothing to cover me but my shirt, and the clothes I had on when I left Alexandria. I beg thee, therefore, to send me my trunks by Douzelot(1), if he will have the goodness to take charge of them; if not, by one of the officers commissioned to bring up the baggage of the demi-brigade. Do, pritheee, contrive to let me know what is become of Daure, of my money, and my jewels: I cannot hear one syllable about them.

So much for my private affairs; I must now tell thee that is hardly possible to form an idea of what we have gone through: sufferings upon sufferings, privations, mortifications, fatigues, we have exhausted them all! Three-fourths of the time we have been dying with hunger! Such is the correct, but rapid sketch of my life, since we parted.

At present, indeed, our means are more ample, but our condition is not therefore more happy. Remote from all our friends, I shall not enter into the details of our military successes, thou wilt hear enough of them from other quarters.

Adieu, my dear friend: think of my request: consider that I am absolutely naked, and that thou wilt render me the most essential service.



P.S. Remember me to Tellier.

To the Commissary at War,

COLLASSE, Superintendent of the town, &c. of Alexandria.

[British Translators' Notes]

(1)Douzelot’s rank is not mentioned. He is the person to whom Savary’s Letter is addressed (see No. XII.), and appears to be in some office of consequence.

Monday, October 22, 2007

General Describes Battle with Mameloucs

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. 48-51.


Gizeh, July 24.

EMMANUEL PERRE’E, General of Division, to Vice Admiral BRUEYS, Commander in Chief of the Naval Force stationed before Alexandria.

Citizen General,

SINCE our separation, I have lost no opportunity of recalling to the mind of the Commander in Chief, the situation in which I left you. He takes a lively interest in it, and has seized the first opportunity which offered, of sending you 58 vessels laden with different articles.

As for us, our position has not been the most agreeable since we parted. On the 13th of July we fell in with the enemy’s army, at break of day. I had then with me 3 gun boats, the galley, and the Cerf. The enemy had 7 gun boats, carrying from 24 to 36 pounders. The action began at nine; two of my gun boats, and the galley were run on shore, and quitted by the crews, on account of the terrible fire which the enemy opened upon us from their boats, and from the banks of the river.

The enemy were already in possession of them, but the brisk fire from the Cerf, and the remaining gun boats obliged them to abandon their prey.

I sunk the vessel which carried their flag; confusion immediately took place, and they had only time to make their escape. Had not three of my best vessels been obliged to give way, I should certainly have destroyed the whole of their flotilla(1).

I had twenty of my men wounded and several killed. A ball struck my sword out of my hand, and carried away a piece of my left arm. I do not think, however, that it will be attended with any bad consequences; indeed, it is already nearly well.

I cannot describe to you what we suffered in this expedition. We were reduced for several days to subsist entirely on water-melons; during which we were constantly exposed to the fire of the Arabs, although, with the exception of a few killed and wounded, we always came off victorious.

The Nile is very far from answering the description I had received of it. It winds incessantly, and is withal so shallow, that I was compelled to leave the chebeck, the galley, and two of my gun boats, thirteen leagues below Cairo, which I reached yesterday evening.

The little time I have to spare prevents me from entering into farther particulars. Our army has had a smart action with the Mamelouks, who lost more than 1200 men. Our loss is very trifling; it amounts, I understand, to about 20 killed, and 150 wounded.

Health and respect.


P.S. Pray send me immediately five or six intelligent officers, and about forty men. You will oblige me very much, as well as the Commander in Chief.


[British Translators' Notes]

(1)This is admirable. Had he not been beaten and lost half his fleet, he would have been victorious! The plan truth, however, appears from several letters, particularly from one of Adjutant General Boyer’s (see No. XXII.), who commanded the land forces on board, is, that he was defeated, and only saved from absolute destruction by the appearance of the van of the army. Notwithstanding this foolish gasconade, General Perree seems to be a man of courage and abilities.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

French Admiral Gives Account of Voyage to 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. 1, pp. 40-45.

Admiral BRUEYS, commanding the Naval Forces of the Republic in the Mediterranean, to the Minister of the Marine, and of the Colonies.

Citizen Minister,

I WROTE to you from Malta on the 14th of June; in that letter I gave you an account of the arrival of the fleet at Malta, and of the capture of that island. The ships of the line, and the transports were all under sail on the 19th, and on the 1st of July we were off the old port of Alexandria.

I had previously dispatched the Juno to bring the Consul on board. Citizen Magallon (the nephew) arrived on the 1st, and informed us that an English squadron had appeared in the line of battle off the port of Alexandria, on the 28th of June, that they had made sail to the north-east. The squadron was supposed to consist of fourteen ships of the line.

The Consul also told us that our arrival had been daily looked for, for some time; that there was a great fermentation in the country, and no inconsiderable degree of uneasiness and apprehension.

The Commander in Chief desired to be put on shore immediately; I therefore came to anchor on the coast, and during the night succeeded in landing 6000 men in a creak to the west of the Old Port, near a castle called Marabou, about two leagues from the city: not the slightest opposition was made to our descent.

The 2d, at noon, our troops were in the city, and in three hours afterwards the fort surrendered. There was some resistance attempted at the wall which surrounds the city, but it was immediately scaled. A few shot were fired into the streets from the windows of the houses; the fort too, fired a few cannon: but every thing was soon in our possession.

I disembarked all the troops, and the baggage belonging to them, and on the 7th, having satisfied myself that our ships of war could not get into the port for want of a sufficient depth of water at the entrance, I ordered the Venetian ships(1), and the transports, to come to anchor here, and stood off with the thirteen sail of the line and three frigates, with an intent of mooring in the Bay of Bequiers.

I arrived there in the afternoon, and formed a line of battle at two-thirds of a cable-length, the headmost vessel being as close as possible(2) to a shoal to the north-west of us, and the rest of the fleet forming a kind of curve along the line of deep water, so as not to be turned, by any means, in the south-west. This position is the strongest we could possibly take in an open road, where we cannot approach sufficiently near the land to be protected by batteries, and where the enemy has it in his power to choose his own distance.

Our troops entered Rosetta yesterday, and the army is not in full march for Cairo.

We have pushed into this branch of the Nile as many of our light vessels as possible; and the Commander in Chief has asked me for the Chief of Division, Perree, to command them. The flotilla sailed this morning to try if it be possible to get over the bar of Rosetta. You see that we are marching to the conquest of Egypt with the steps of a giant.

It is vexatious that there is not a port where a fleet can enter; but the Old Port, of which we have heard so much, is shut up by a reef of rocks, some under, and some above, water, forming a number of narrow channels, where the depth is only from 23 to 25 and 30 feet. The sea, too, is commonly very high: thus you see, that one of our seventy-fours would be in no small danger there, especially as she would inevitably go to pieces in a few minutes after touching the ground.

To gratify the wishes of the Commander in Chief(3), I have offered a reward of ten thousand livres to any pilot of the country who will undertake to carry the squadron in; but none of them will venture to take charge of a single vessel that draws more than twenty feet. I hope, however, that we shall succeed in finding a channel by which our seventy-fours may enter; but this can only be the result of many laborious and painful experiments.

I have already engaged two intelligent officers in this business; Captain Barre, commanding at present the Alceste, and Citizen Vidal, first Lieutenant. If they find a channel, they will buoy it for us; and then we may enter without much danger. The depth within the reefs increases to fifteen fathoms, but the getting out of the harbour will, in all cases, be very difficult, and very tedious; so that a squadron would engage to a vast disadvantage.

I have heard nothing further of the English. They are gone, perhaps, to look for us on the coast of Syria or rather (and this is my private opinion) they have not so many as fourteen sail of the line; and finding themselves not superior in numbers, do not think it quite so prudent to try their strength with us(4).

We look forward with the greatest anxiety to the time when the conquest of Egypt shall furnish us with provisions. We are now obliged to supply the troops continually—every hour new rains are made upon us. We have now only fifteen days biscuit on board; and we are in this anchorage just as if we were on the high seas—consuming every thing, and replacing nothing.

Our crews are weak both in number and quality. Our rigging, in general, out of repair; and I am sure that it requires no little courage to undertake the management of a fleet, furnished with such tools!

I do not think it necessary to enter into any further details on our present situation. You are a seamen, and will therefore conceive it better than I can describe it to you.

Before I conclude, I will transcribe a paragraph from a letter which I have just received from the Commander in Chief.

“I have asked of the Executive Directory, the rank of Rear Admiral for your Chief of the Staff, Ganteaume. I beseech you to appoint him. I have sought by this to give proof of my gratitude and esteem for the essential services, the activity, and the zeal manifested by your staff officers, and, generally speaking, the whole squadron, in executing the orders of the Government.


Health and respect.



[British Translators' Notes]

(1) Le Dubois and Le Causse, of the 64 Guns each, and two or three frigates.

(2) Never was there a more glorious testimony to the intrepidity and skill of the British seamen, than this letter furnishes. The French Admiral, a man of no common abilities in his profession, and anxious, above all things, to secure his fleet from being headed by an enemy, places his van ship as near the shoal as possible, and reposes in the most perfect confidence, that nothing can molest him in that quarter; and yet it was between this very shoal and ship, and through this very passage, which, after an examination of the twenty-four days (from the 7th to the 31st of July), the French Admiral conceived impracticable, that the gallant NELSON led his BRITONS (the men whom the Morning Chronicle pronounced to be “without courage, and ready to resign their swords to every puny whipster”) to victory, and everlasting fame!

(3) Here is positive proof of the falsehood of Bonaparte’s assertions respecting the sailing of the fleet. We beseech the reader to bear this passage in mind, for we shall by and by return to it.

(4) We were sorry to find such a passage as this in Bruey’s letter. He was evidently a man of courage and capacity, and ought to have known his enemy better. Such flights of vanity and imbecility are things of course in the dispatches of the Directory; but this is not an official letter; it is evidently meant for the private information of Bruix, and seems drawn up as a kind of defence against the probable remonstrances of Bonaparte.

It is needless to observe how much the unfortunate Admiral was deceived. His fate will not be altogether useless to his countrymen, if it gives them juster notions of our “prudence,” with equal, or even inferior numbers.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Letter Critical of Bonaparte Written in Secrecy to Minister of the Marine

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. 28-36.


(For your own private reading.)

At anchor off Aboukir, July 9

To General BRUIX, minister of the Marine, &c.

IN my letter of this day’s date, my dear Bruix, you will find my official accompts. In this I shall venture to lay aside my commissarial caution, and speak to you unreservedly on our real situation in this country. There will be no connection in my letter; first, because I have my attention called off every moment by the repeated applications which, as you well know, are never sparingly made by a fleet at anchor; and secondly, because the vessel which carries the dispatches is under weigh.

Generally speaking, the land and sea officers took their leaves of each other in a very cold manner. The way in which they were all crowded together for want of room, and the scanty allowance to which they were confined, account for it naturally enough(1).

All orders of any consequence were at first given out by the Commander in Chief; latterly the Admiral has received them from Berthier, the head of the staff(2). That for our landing at Malta was issued on the very day of our disembarkation. Two days only were allowed at Alexandria. The immense difference between land and sea operations can be no secret to you; but such is the General’s way of doing things! As it is, every thing has completely succeeded.

Malta without a supply of provisions—with very little money—a sale of national property that cannot possibly take place for some time—and an immense population, which was wholly supported by the Order(3). The supplies from France will not, I imagine, be very abundant; those from Egypt are not yet in a state of forwardness:--and yet the possession of the island, in a military point of view, is of the utmost importance.

The plague ceased at Alexandria only five or six days before our arrival. There was, however, in the New Port, a vessel that had it on board: some of the crew had landed and gone into the city; but we heard of no accident that had happened from it; and besides, it is well known, that in the great heats, the plague is no longer infectious. You will laugh outright, perhaps you witlings of Paris, at the Mahometan proclamation(4) to the Commander in Chief. He is proof, however, against all your raillery; and the thing itself will certainly produce a most surprising effect. You recollect that produced by the magic cry of GUERRE AUX CHATEAUX, PAIX AUX CASANES(5).

The Commander in Chief will march to the attack of Cairo with the grand army; the divisions will do the rest. When the army first got sight of Alexandria, and the deserts which surround it, both officers and men were struck with consternation. Bonaparte has revised their spirits. The port of Alexandria is absolutely destitute of means, either for victualling or refitting a single ship. But the conquest will soon enable us to draw immense advantages from it. Alexander did every thing in a year!

The Arabs and the Mameloucs have treated some of our prisoners as Socrates is said to have treated Alcibiades. There was no alternative to death or submission;--one of our grenadiers chose the former. They took some of our women too: but they only beat them!

It is not yet certain whether our seventy-fours can get into the port. The two Venetian sixty-fours can get into the port. The two Venetian sixty-fours are already there. There was talk of getting out our guns to enable us to enter. But in that case, what should we do there, and when and how should we get out again?

We are now moored at Aboukir, about five leagues to the East of Alexandria—the road is well enough in summer; but in winter quite untenable. The English are in our neighbourhood. They have fourteen sail, and we thirteen, of which three are rather out of condition. We are in expectation of them. The general opinion (but this might be influenced in some degree by personal considerations) was, that as soon as the debarkation was effected, we should have sailed for Corfou; where we were to be reinforced by the ships from Malta, Toulon, and Ancona, and thus prepared for all events. THE GENERAL HAS DECIDED IT OTHERWISE(6). The good fortune which attends all his operations, will not fail to follow this:--for the rest—we are under the gale of fatalism, and its breath shakes my principles a little.

How deficient in foresight are we all in the wishes which we form! I had half an inclination to remain Commissary for some time at Malta; but when I saw that, for the first year at least, that port could neither receive from France nor from Egypt such supplies as would render a residence there tolerable, and that a numerous population would suffer, at least, for a time, the agonies of passing from an organization, imperfect without doubt, but long established, to one differing from it in every respect:--When I saw all this, I said to myself, “let somebody else be a witness to these dreadful distresses, and let me try my fortune at Alexandria.” There I had every thing to do, and every thing to suffer, both from the climate and the troops—and I clung more closely than ever to the fleet, determined to follow its destiny. I have often turned my eyes towards France, towards my friends, but have never regretted the sacrifices I made in quitting Malta.

Adieu, my dear Bruix, be happy, and realize your wishes for the re-establishment of the marine. Accept these assurances of my affectionate and unceasing attachment.


Allow me to present my respectful services to Madame Bruix, and Mademoiselle Theresa.

I say nothing to you of the capture of Alexandria. I shall request Forestier to read his letter to you.

As I have been rather too open in this letter, you will oblige me by throwing it into the fire as soon as you have read it.


[British Translators' Notes]

(1)This is letter to which we particularly wished to call the reader’s attention. It owes, as he will see, its superior interest to the great degree of intimacy subsisting between Jaubert and the first minister of the marine, and which allowed him to speak out, without hazarding a voyage to Cayenne.

(2)We have before us an official letter from Jaubert to Bruix, dated on board the l’Orient the 4th of July. The letter in general is not sufficiently interesting to be laid before the public, but the concluding paragraph throws some light on this passage.

“The transports from Toulon, Marseilles, Genoa, Ajaccio, and Civita Vecchia amounted in all to 293 sail; they were manned with about 4,500 men; and had on board, besides the artillery, 22,000 land forces, and 1,200 horses.”

Now it appears from a variety of documents that the number embarked from France and Italy, was about 40,000 (not picked regiments and companies, but) picked men. If we now allow 5000 for the garrison of Malta, and for casualties on the voyage, we shall find the number of troops distributed on board the ships of war, to be something above 11,000-if to these we add the staff of the whole army, we shall be able, as Jaubert says, to account naturally enough, for the coldness between the land and sea officers, who had been thus packed together for near three months.

It appears from Boyer’s list (No. 22.), which we know to be perfectly correct, that the ships of war consisted of 15 sail of the line, 14 frigates, and several Corvettes, and smaller vessels. It may not be improper in this place to mention their fate—Of the 15 sail of the line, 11 were taken and destroyed by Lord Nelson, two made their escape to Corfou and Malta, and two are still in the Old Port of Alexandria.—Of the 14 frigates, two were destroyed in the great engagement, one taken by the Turks, another (the Sensible) by our cruisers, nine are at this moment in the port of Alexandria, and one is unaccounted for,--most probably it is stopped in one of the Turkish ports.—Of the smaller vessels, some have been destroyed, and some taken.

It is a pleasing circumstance, however, to consider, that of all this vast armament, the greatest, as Boyer says, that ever appeared in the Mediterranean (see his Letter, No. 22) not one has yet reached France; and we shall be much mistaken indeed if ONE EVER DOES!!! The French may amuse themselves as much as they please, and the Jacobins of this country may follow them, in speculating to what fortunate empire the fleet will next convey the blessings of liberty.—The blessings we know to be immense; but—the fleet will never leave Alexandria!

(3)This seems to shew a kind of contempt for Brueys. How it originated we know not, but most probably in the ignorance and presumption of Bonaparte, who, accustomed to have his commands carried into instant execution, could not always book the delays occasioned by the nature of the sea service, and which his inexperience in these matters might sometimes lead him to attribute a want of zeal or knowledge in the Admiral.

The influence of Bonaparte in France is strongly marked in this paragraph. Jaubert undoubtedly thinks him wrong, and yet in a confidential letter written to the Minister of Marine, the friend and patron of Brueys, he scarcely dares to breathe a doubt of his infallibility.

(4)Here is a pretty specimen of the favours conferred by these propagandists of liberty, &c. on the poor of Malta—the constant objects, as we all know, and as we have all been told a thousand times, of their peculiar protection and regard! They were wholly supported, as Jaubert truly says, by the Order; yet the French abolish that order, seize all its property to themselves, and leave the poor inhabitants, like the cannons of Boileau, “eperdus et benis,” free, as they are pleased to call it, and starving! It is some consolation, however, to find that the Maltese are not wholly insensible of the kindness.

(5) The witlings of London (The Morning Chronicle, the Courier, and the other Jacobin papers) did better; they denied its authenticity, and substituted in its place a proclamation fabricated for the purpose by the Directory.

(6)”WAR TO PALACES! PEACE TO COTTAGES!”—It is fortunate for mankind that the French in the wantonness of success sometimes put off the mask, and discover the features of the Revolution in all their deformity! This “magic cry” (as it is truly called) has set one part of Europe against the other. It has furnished a topic for declamation to the cold-blooded philosophists of every country; who, from their closets, have propagated the destructive war-hoop from nation to nation, with all the enthusiasim of demons. It was in vain to tell the people that the fall of one involved that of the other. They were long governed more by words than by facts; and it was not till they saw themselves surrounded by the ruins of their smoking “cottages,” while “palaces” frequently remained uninjured, and curse at once the authors of their delusion, and the agents of their destruction.

The poor in every country which the French have reached, have been the chief sufferers; and, in consequence of it, among the foremost to retaliate on their oppressors. Jordan’s grand army was nearly annihilated by them in its flight, and Belguim and Italy, and Switzerland which has no “palaces,” are at this moment filled with an injured peasantry, breathing “curses not loud but deep,” and cutting off in the secrecy and silence, whole armies of their wanton and hypocritical destroyers.

The “magic cry” thank Heaven! Has lost its power to charm, and now remains a mere vox et praterra nihil, serving only to remind its profligate employers of the mischief it once wrought, and, as in the instance before us, to furnish an unfeeling allusion, or a witticism.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"War with the Mameloucs, peace with the Arabs!"

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. 16-24.


L’Orient, off Aboukir, July 8th.

From JAUBERT(1), Commissary, &c.

HERE we are, my dear Jaubert, on the coasts of Egypt. Our brave troops have already got footing in its territories, and every thing announces that ere long the improvident despotism of the Mameloucs, and the apathy of the Egyptians, will be succeeded by a creative government, and by a spirit of emulation hitherto unknown to its inhabitants.

We are masters of Alexandria. On our march we seized on Aboukir and Rosetta, and are consequently in possession of one of the principal mouths of the Nile. Thou mayst trace our route on the chart to Savary’s Voyage(2), which I suppose thou hast before thee.

At six in the morning of the first instant, we were within six leagues of Alexandria. The Juno was dispatched to the port with a letter to the French Consul.—This was the ostensible motive, but her secret orders were, at all events, to bring him and all the French in the city on board the fleet. Every thing there was in confusion. A French invasion had been openly talked of for the last two months, and measures taken (as measures usually are taken by the Turks) to prevent it. The appearance of an English squadron of fourteen sail on the 28th of June, and which the Governor obstinately maintained to be ours, had redoubled the terrors of the city, and rendered the situation of the French residents there, more and more critical. The Consul, however, obtained permission to go on board the Juno, on his promise to return in three hours; and the frigate directly put to sea with him. On his arrival on board the l’Orient, the necessity of the immediate measures became apparent, not only to anticipate the English in getting possession of Alexandria, but to shelter our fleet from an engagement, which must be evidently on unequal terms, in the confusion of a first anchorage on unknown ground.

The English fleet has played with ill luck on its side—first, it missed us on the coast of Sardinia; next, it missed a convoy of fifty-seven sail coming from Civita Vecchia, with seven thousand troops of the army of Italy on board. It did not arrive at Malta till five days after we left it; and it arrived at Alexandria two days before we reached it! It is to be presumed that it is gone to Alexandretta, under an idea that the army is to be disembarked there for the conquest of India. We shall certainly see it at last, but we are now moored in such a manner as to bid defiance to a force more than double our own.

Such, however, was our critical situation on the morning of the 1st, that in spite of the promptitude with which we disembarked, we might have been surprised by the English in the midst of our operations. Apprehensive of this, the Commander in Chief, with his Staff, was in his galley by four in the afternoon, surrounded by the boats and shallops of the different vessels, all full of troops, and ready for the descent.

On the morning of the 2d, a landing was effected at Marabou, two leagues to the west of Alexandria—not the slightest resistance! Not even a piece of cannon at Marabou! The army then advanced in platoons towards the city; the stragglers, and those who marched at any distance from the main body, were attacked by parties of Arabs, and a few scattered Mameloucs, who hovered about us. There were also a few partial engagements, in which we lost men. On our arrival, the entrance of our brave troops was opposed. A few three or four-pounders, (observer, that we had no artillery with us) carabines, stones &c. announced a resolution to defend the city. General Kleber was wounded in the head, and General Menou in divers places; but by eleven o’clock we were in possession of Alexandria. The aukward musquetry which attempted a defence by firing from the windows, all hid themselves, or were killed. The Mameloucs, and a vast number of Arabs, took refuge in the desert. The few inhabitants who remained were exceedingly astonished(3) at finding we did not cut their throats, and read with transports of joy, the proclamation (4) which the Commander in Chief had previously printed in Arabic, and which you must long before this have seen in the public papers.

This proclamation has given birth to two very singular circumstances. The evening before, we had seized a few Turks and Arabs, and carried them on board the fleet. The question was to clam their apprehensions, and make them our apostles. A Maronite priest from Damascus (a Christian like ourselves) was ordered to read it to them, and to comment on it as he proceeded. When you consider the proclamation(5), you will judge how well the part he played became him!

The day we landed, the Turkish Vice Admiral, who was in the port of Alexandria, with the Caraval (a large vessel belonging to the Grand Seignior), destined to collect the tribute of the army, sent his flag officer on board the l’Orient with a present of two sheep, and an order to inquire into the destination of our armament. We gave him the proclamation to read, he excused himself on his ignorance, and it was read to him: every paragraph that touched on the insolence of the Mameloucs made him leap with joy. He asked for some proclamations to disperse, and assured us, that the Vice Admiral, who represented the person of the Grand Seignior, would give a general order for the friendly reception of the French. At length, after drinking a cup of coffee and eating some sweetmeats, he retired extremely well satisfied(6). The Caraval is still in the port with the Admiral’s flag flying.

I landed at Alexandria on the 4th with the Admiral. Those of the inhabitants who had remained, as well as the Arabs of the neighbourhood, appeared to be tolerably well recovered from their fright, and in a way of acquiring a little confidence. There were in the Bazar (market-place) sheep, pigeons, tobacco, and a number of barbers; who place the head of their customers between their knees; and who, at first, seem rather preparing to twist their necks off than to shave them; they have, however, a very light hand, and go through their business skillfully. I saw also some women: they were muffled up in long vestments, which left nothing to be seen but the eyes; a mode of dress which put me in mind of the penitents of our southern provinces.

This city, which is still said to contain 10,000 inhabitants, has nothing of the ancient Alexandria but the name—the Arabs, indeed, call it Scanderia. The ruins of its former circuit announce that it was once a most extensive place, and might well contain the 300,000 people which historians have given it. But the despotism and stupor which followed that period, and the discovery of the route to India by the Cape of Good Hope, have successively reduced it to the miserable state in which it now lies.

It is a mere heap of ruins, where you see a paltry hovel of mud and straw stuck against the magnificent fragments of a granite column! The streets are not paved. This image of desolation is rendered the more striking by being within view of two objects, which have passed uninjured through the lapse of ages that has devoured every thing around them. One is what is called Pompey’s Column, but which was raised by Severus; this I have only seen at a distance: the other, which is called Cleopatra’s Needle, I have examined closely. It is an obelisk formed of a single piece of granite, exceedingly well preserved. As far as I could judge from my eye, it is about 72 of our feet in height, and 7 feet square at the base, and 4 towards the summit; it is covered with hieroglyphics on every side. A few date-trees are scattered here and there about the country. It is a melancholy looking tree, which, at a distance, bears some resemblance to a fir that has been stript of all its branches to the top.

Such is the coast of this country, so fertile in the interior! And which, under an enlightened government, might see once more revived the age of Alexander and the Ptolemites.

Arrived at head quarters, which are fixed near the northern extremity of the city, we found an activity, an appearance of life which we had not been used to for a long time: some of the troops disembarking, others repairing for their march across the desert to Rosetta—Generals, soldiers, Turks, Arabs, camels—all together formed a contrast which presented a very lively picture of the Revolution(7) which was about to change the face of the country.

In the midst of this confusion appeared the Commander in Chief, regulating the march of the army, the police of the city, and the precautions to be taken against the plague;--tracing out new fortifications, combining the operations of the fleet with those of the army, and expediting, in conjunction with the Arabs who had submitted, proclamations to the tribes who had taken the alarm. A most striking example was made at this instant: a soldier was brought in, who had stolen a poignard from a friendly Arab; the face was ascertained, and the culprit was instantly shot on the spot.

In consequence of this, an entire tribe of Arabs, consisting of 3000, sent deputies the next day to the Commander in Chief, to swear a lasting friendship between the two nations, under pain of damnation! They brought with them some prisoners, among whom was one of our women, whom they had beaten. This tribe will furnish us with armed soldiers; others will assuredly imitate their example. War with the Mameloucs, peace with the Arabs! Such is the cry which will swell our armies, and sweep before us the oppressors of this part of the world.

I am obliged to break off—the vessel is going. I have not time to read it over, to see if it be correctly copied; this must be my excuse.




[British Translators' Notes]

(1) It appears from the next letter, which is under the same signature, and which the reader will find well worthy of his serious attention, that Jaubert was first Commissary to the fleet. The cover of this letter is either lost or mislaid, but it was probably addressed to his brother, one of the Generals of the French army in Italy.

(2) In the original it is “Savary’s, or some other,”—what other Jaubert might allude to we know not, nor, perhaps, the writer himself; but certainly Savary’s is good for nothing.

It is this man’s rhapsodical and delusive panegyric on Egypt which appears to have increased, in a considerable degree, the old bias of the French government towards the seizure of that country; it also seems to be the only Vade-Mecum of the Savans, and leaders of the expedition, who appear to have placed an implicit confidence in it. The former, at least as far as we know, have not made any advances towards a recantation of their credulity; for, as the great Pangloss well observed, when he spat out his last tooth in the hospital, “it does not become a philosopher to change his opinions;” but the latter have loudly and frequently declared their sorrow and indignation at having been so miserably misled.

(3)The astonishment of the remaining Alexandrines, at finding the French did not cut their throats, may be tolerably well accounted for (no offence to Mons. Jaubert’s sagacity!) by a slight perusal of Citizen Boyer’s long letter to his father, (see No. XXII.) After an indiscriminate massacre of these unoffending people (unless it be an offence to dispute the possession of their lives and properties, with a rapacious and blood-thirsty horde of strangers) “for a space of four hours;” the trembling survivors might reasonably wonder at their being spared, and read with pleasure (or, if Mons. Jaubert will have it so, “with transports of joy,”) any thing that promised a temporary cessation of the wanton cruelties of their invaders.

(4)See the APPENDIX, No. I.

(5)Jaubert would have made no bad coadjutor to Hebert, the original Pere du Chene. The same impiety, the same disregard of decency, and the same readiness to adopt every prejudice of the people for the sake of turning them to the purposes of pillage and proscription!

Hypocrisy of every kind is bad; but the hypocrisy of Atheism is monstrous! It adds cowardice to guilt.

Now we are on this subject, it may not be amiss to mention that the passage before us puts the authenticity of Bonaparte’s proclamation out of dispute. Our readers cannot have forgotten with what sturdiness the Opposition writers (out of a tender regard, we suppose, for the pious memory of their favourite Chief) first maintained that it was fabricated in this country, and then, when it appeared in France mutilated and disguised—(as, on account of Spain, an open profession of Mahometanism is not yet, perhaps thought prudent)—with what versatility they veered round, and allowed that Bonaparte had, indeed, published a proclamation, but that it was only to be found in its genuine state in the French papers.

We enter into no cavils with these gentlemen. Our translation is made from faithful rendering of the original Arabic, by the Dragoman of our Embassy at the Port, and the reader who turns to it, will perfectly comprehend the sneer of Jaubert at the part played by the Maronite, or Christian priest!

(6)We have given Bonaparte’s address to the vice Admiral in the Appendix; it is in his unusual style of insolence. With respect to the farce played on board the l’Orient, by the Turkish messenger, we do not believe a word of it; this, however, is certain at all events, that if any such mummery took place, it was not the Turk that was duped by it!

(7)This is no bad picture of the restless spirit of these people. Whether abroad or at home, their expectations are the same. In every chance-medley they discover the destruction of empires; and a confusion of any kind (though but of men and camels,) is to them the certain pledge of approaching revolutions!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bonaparte Writes his Brother from Alexandria

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. 5-10.


Alexandria, July 6th, 1798.

To Citizen JOSEPH BONAPARTE, Deputy to the Council of Five Hundred, &c.

We have been in this city, my dear Brother, now four days; it was taken by assault. I will attempt to give you some account of our operations; not as a professional man, but as they appeared to me.

At daybreak, on the 1st of July, we discovered the coast of Africa; which had been seen, and announced to us the evening before by signals. We were presently off the Isles des Arabes, about two leagues from Alexandria, where the Juno frigate, which had been dispatched to bring the French Consul on board, rejoined us.

We learnt from the Consul that an English Squadron of fourteen sail of the line (of which to were three deckers,) had appcared off Alexandria, sent letters on shore to the English Consul, and informed the merchants there of the capture of Malta; that is had then made sail for Alexandretta, concluding, as it was supposed, that we had gone there to disembark our forces, and proceed to India by the way of Bassora.

This squadron had indeed been seen by the Justice, after our departure from Malta; and yet it had the aukwardness, or the stupidity to miss us! The English must be quite furious. It required, I think, no common degree of courage and good fortune, to run through a numerous fleet, with inferior forces, a convoy of four hundred transports; and to capture on our passage, partly by force, and partly by negotiation, such a place as Malta.

Till this day I had always a fancy that fortune might one time or other turn her back upon my brother: now I am persuaded, that she will never desert him, provided the troops retain but a little of that national spirit which has hitherto animated them.

The Mameloucs had been informed three weeks before, by some merchant vessels belonging to Marseilles, of the embarkation of our troops;--when, therefore, they saw the English fleet, they concluded it was ours, so that when we actually appeared, they were prepared for us. The sea ran so high that day that the officers of the marine would not permit the troops to disembark. The vessels therefore came to an anchor about two leagues from the shore: the day was spent in preparations; and at length, about eleven at night, we were put on board the boats of the fleet, with a rough sea, and a very blowing wind.

We marched that night with two thousand (1) infantry, and at break of day invested Alexandria, after driving into the town several small detachments of cavalry. The enemy defended themselves like men; tho artillery which they had planted on the walls was wretchedly served, but their musquetry was excellent. These people have no idea of children’s play: they either kill or are killed. The first inclosure, however, that is to say, that of the city of the Arabs, was carried; and soon after the second, in spite of the fire from the houses. The forts which are on the coast, on the other side of the city, were then invested; and in the evening capitulated.

Since the 2d of July we have been engaged in disembarking the troops, the artillery, and the baggage. General Desaix is at Demanhur, on the Nile; the rest of the army is to follow him.

The place where we disembarked is about two leagues from thence, at the tower of Marabout, or Isles des Arabes. The two first days we had a number of straglers cut off by the Arab and Mamelouc cavalry. I imagine that we have lost about one hundred killed, and as many wounded. The Generals Kleber, Menou, and Lescalle are wounded.

I send you the proclamation (2) to the inhabitants of the country, and three others to the army. The first has produced an effect altogether astonishing. The Bedouins, enemies of the Mameloucs, and who, properly speaking, are neither more nor less intrepid robbers, sent us back, as soon as they had read it, thirty of our people whom they had made prisoners, with an offer of their services against the Mameloucs. We have treated them kindly. They are an invincible people, inhabiting a burning desert, mounted on the fleetest horses in the world, and full of courage. They live with their wives and children in flying camps, which are never pitched two nights together in the same place. They are horrible savages, and yet they have some notion of gold and silver! A small quantity of it serves to excite their admiration. Yes, my dear brother, they live gold; they pass their lives in extorting it from such Europeans as fall into their hands; and for what purpose!—for continuing the course of life which I have described, and for teaching it to their children. O Jean Jacques! Why was it not thy fate to see those men, whom thou call’st “the men of nature?” thou would’st sink with shame, thou would’st startle with horror at the thought of having once admired them!

Adieu, my dear brother, let me hear from you soon. I suffered a great deal on our passage; this climate kills me; we shall be so altered that you will discover the change at a league’s distance.

I am not well at present, and shall be obliged to stay here a few days longer(3): every body else goes to-morrow. Adieu, I embrace you with the sincerest affection. Remember me to Julia, Caroline, &c. and to the legislator(4) Lucien. He might have sailed with us to advantage: we see more in two days than common travelers in two years.

The remarkable objects here are Pompey’s column, the obelisks of Cleopatra, the spot where her baths once stood, and a number of ruins, a subterraneous temple, some catacombs, mosques, and a few churches. But what is still more remarkable, is the character and manners of the inhabitants. They are of a sangfroid absolutely astonishing. Nothing agitates them; and death itself is to them, what a voyage to America is to the English(5).

Their exterior is imposing. The most marked physiognomies amongst us, are mere children’s countenances compared to theirs. The women wrap themselves up in a piece of cloth, which passes over their head, and descends in front to the eyebrows. The poorer sort cover the whole of their face with linen, leaving only two small apertures for the eyes; so that if this strange veil happens to be a little shriveled, or stained, they look like so many hob-goblins.

Their forts and their artillery are the most ridiculous thins in nature: they have not even a lock or a window to their houses; in a word, they are still involved in all the blindness of the earliest ages.

Oh! How many misanthropes would be converted if chance should conduct them into the midst of the deserts of Arabia.

Adieu, my dear brother.

Your’s entirely,

L. Bonaparte.

P.S. I beg, my dear brother, that will let the female citizen Coupry, my good old landlady, Rue St. Honore, No. 27, pres le passage des Feuillans, know how and where I am: tell her that I have not yet had time to write her, and that I desired to be remembered to her.


[British Translators' Notes]

(1) This is inaccurate. It appears from several of the letters, that a great portion of the army was engaged in the attack on Alexandria.

(2) See the APPENDIX

(3) It appears from Boursienne’s letter (see No. 14.) that he was still there on the 27th of July.

(4) This word is marked in the original, and evidently alludes to a piece of private history.

(5) Meaning, probably, a matter of little importance:--but an expression nearly resembling this, is proverbial amongst them.

Monday, October 15, 2007

French Soldier tells Heroic Story of the Battle for Alexandria

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. 2, pp. 15-24.


Alexandria, (19 Messidor)(1),July 7th.

SHECHY [Bernard MacSheehy], Captain Adjutant, &c. &c. to Citizen DOULCET(2), Rue St. Fiacre, at Paris.

I AVAIL myself of the only leisure moment I have had since the capture of this city to acquit myself of the engagement I entered into with you.

Our voyage from Toulon to Malta had scarce any thing in it worth mentioning. You are already acquainted with every particular respecting the capture of that important island. We quitted it on the evening of the 18th of June, and a north-west wind, which constantly prevails in those latitudes during the present season, carried us in twelve days to Alexandria.

On the evening of the 1st instant, after issuing the necessary orders for effecting an immediate landing, the Commander in Chief threw himself into a Maltese galley, to get nearer the shore; and in spite of the prudent(3) advice of the seamen, who insinuated that a debarkation was impracticable, on account of the violence of the wind, and of the reefs which fill the Bay of Marabout, General Bonaparte persisted in his determination to land, and actually did land in this very bay. I was one of the Staff that accompanied him. Marabout is about three leagues from Alexandria.

When we got on shore, we found the Generals Menou, Kleber, Bon, and Regnier; the three former with their divisions, the latter with only a few of his men about him(4); he as therefore left to secure the landingplace, while the others marched in three columns for Alexandria.

The Commander in Chief and his Staff, after sleeping for about two hours on the sand, got up, and put themselves at the head of the divisions. Kleber’s occupied the centre, and marched toward’s Pompey’s Column; Menou’s was drawn up on its left, and coasted along the sea; Bon’s on its right, and directed its march to the gate of Rosetta. I and my party put ourselves at the head of Kleber’s division.

At daybreak we discovered a few horse, who advanced upon us, and, seeing that we had no cavalry, discharged their carabines at us within pistol-shot; but some of our riflemen having rapidly gained the sand hills on our flank, soon forced them to retire. We continued our march till we got within two miles of the city. Here we found a mosque, with a cistern in it. We drank with delight of the water, which the fatigues(5) of the march made us think the sweetest we had ever tasted!

Arrived at Pompey’s Column, we made another short halt. Our riflemen, meanwhile, had advanced close to the walls, and were skirmishing with the Alexandrines, who lined them in every part. The Commander in Chief sent me forward to reconnoitre their situation, strength, &c. I advanced alone, till I came within pistol-shot—but had scarce begun to examine the forts with my glass, ere I heard a sudden scream from the women and children, that appeared in great numbers on the ramparts; at the same moment a brisk discharge of musquetry was made upon me. A volunteer who stood about thirty or forty paces behind me was shot in the left shoulder, and fell.

Having executed the business entrusted to me by the General, I went back to collect some volunteers who were scattered about the plain; and having by their assistance removed the wounded man, I had him conveyed to Pompey’s Column, where all the Staff Officers were assembled.

The General ordered the charge to be beat, and an attack to be made upon all points. Our troops flew to the ramparts, and got over them in an instant(6), in spite of a shower of bullets and stones, which killed and wounded a great number of them; he then dispatched me back to order the generale to be beat, and the troops who were in the city, and engaged with the inhabitants, to evacuate it immediately, and arrange themselves in order of battle under the eminence on which he then stood.

Having re-entered the city, and observed the desperate conduct of the Alexandrines, who continued to assail our troops with stones and musquetry from the roofs and windows of their houses, I found myself reduced to the necessity of lining the streets which I passed with small bodies of men, to prevent those hostile measures. In spite of all my precautions, however, several of my people were wounded by the stones.

I came up to a small fort, which was garrisoned by about thirty Turks; they discharged several muskets at me; but seeing that my numbers were continually increasing, they made signs of capitulating, by grounding their arms, and uttering the most dreadful cries.

As the General had ordered me not to attack any of the forts, but merely to block up such as lay in my way, by the troops of the different divisions, I judged it proper to accept of this capitulation; but at the very instant that I ordered the troops to cease firing on the fort, a musket-ball from an adjoining house killed a grenadier close to my side. He fell across my knees, without uttering a single word, and had nearly thrown me down by his fall. As I could not precisely point out the house from whence the shot was fired, and had before me a fort, of which I was scarcely yet the master, I was obliged to continue my route without taking VENGEANCE(7) for the death of the brave grenadier. Soon after I found myself before the principal fort of the city; it was already blockaded by Menou’s division; and in a few minutes after, the Captain of a Turkish ship of war, dispatched by the Commander in Chief, put it into our hands, as well as all the others which yet remained to be taken.

We had a vast number of men killed and wounded in our attack upon the city, and during our march, by the Bedouins, whom we fell in with soon after our landing; they hung on our rear, and killed and took a great number of stragglers. These Arabs resemble the ancient Scythians: the world is their country, they live on rapine(8), &c.

These Arabs are divided into different tribes, which are frequently at war with each other. They are very formidable, never associate with the rest of the world, nor can ever be persuaded to adopt their customs, or their manner of living. This, perhaps, is the true secret of their power.

The Proclamation of General Bonaparte, (of which you will, undoubtedly, see a copy), having been communicated to them, they instantly demanded permission to become our friends, and even to make war in conjunction with us, against the Mameloucs, the oppressors of the country! They brought the General about thirty of our people whom they had made prisoner. Before they heard of the Proclamation, they had treated these unfortunate men in the harshest mannor; their women especially, made them suffer the most cruel torments; and even the children at the breast amused themselves with tearing their hair, and scratching their face with their nails; all which they were obliged to endure with patience, for fear of worse treatment from the men. As soon, however, as the Proclamation was made known to them, the French were treated with kindness.

I have snatched a few instants from my duty, to give you these details. We are so busy that we have not time to lie down, or to take a morsel of wretched food.

It is impossible for you to conceive the misery of our present situation; which, yet, is infinitely preferable to that which we are about to experience in the course of three or four days, in the midst of the Desert. We shall march the 6th or 7th.

I am indebted to the activity and good sense of my servant, for a camel, which I am already preparing to load with two goat-skin bags; one for water, and the other for vinegar; happy if I find it sufficient for the journey! This camel will also carry a part of my baggage, and that of my comrades, and five days provisions, consisting merely of hard biscuit, which we have been obliged to procure from the ships.

Desaix’s division is already on its march; Regnier’s is to follow it; Kleber’s will proceed on the morning, and Menou’s on the evening of the 6th. We shall speedily see the unraveling of all these projects; at present, Cairo is the mark to which we tend. The Mameloucs once beaten, I know not if we shall carry our views farther.

I am asleep with the pen in my hand. I am absolutely worn out with fatigue. As soon as I can find a few moments of tranquility, I will take the liberty of sending you a more circumstantial and a more satisfactory account of what we have seen and done.

Have the goodness to present my respects to Madame Dumuy, and pray let me hear from you. You cannot form an idea of the fatigues we have undergone. If we ever return from this expedition, we shall richly deserve Paradise. On board the fleet, we regretted France; in Egypt, I fear, we shall have to regret the fleet! In spite, however, of all the obstacles which we experience, success will crown our enterprise—nay, obstacles themselves are, with us, infallible indications of victory(9)!

I am so pressed for the regulations, &c. of the army, that I cannot add another word. The nephew of Lannes, who is at my side, desires to be remembered to you.


[British Translators' Notes]

(1) This and the foregoing letter appear to be post-dated by two or three days: the mistake arose probably from haste, and is, indeed, scarce worth noticing.

(2) We know nothing more of Shechy than what his letters tell us. His correspondent Doulcet de Pontecoulant was formerly an officer in the Gardes-du-corps. He followed the general example, deserted his benevolent master, and actively promoted the Revolution which brought him to the scaffold.

He repented, we suppose, when it was too late; for we find him in the list of the proscribed of the 18th Fructidor: he was, however, so far pardoned, on account of his former services, as to be permitted to withdraw to Switzerland. He is now, we see, returned to France; on what terms we know not—probably he has repented of his repentance, and is ready to begin anew. In the Convention he was looked on as Modere!

(3) Shechy uses this word with a sneer, but without reason. The landing was evidently dangerous; many of the troops were drowned in the attempt, and, according to several of the letters, the General himself was in the most imminent danger of being lost. But the fears of the English fleet prevailed over every other consideration

—“such a sight he dreaded worse than hell;”

and, if he had, with a precipitation and want of forecast, which must for ever destroy his reputation as a General, fled from Malta, without waiting to supply that important post with a sufficient quantity of troops or stores, and without taking in water for his own squadron (notwithstanding the remonstrances of Brueys), from a dread of being overtaken by Nelson; it cannot be supposed that any circumstances could easily occur powerful enough to detain him on board, when his escape now appeared to depend on the exertions of a few hours, and was, moreover, favoured by the night.

We have yet a few words to say on this subject.

The Morning Chronicle, with a disregard to truth and decency, highly worth of the cause which it espouses, after insinuating that this Correspondence is a forgery (not having heard, it should see, that is friends abroad allow it to be genuine), observes, with a rancorous smile—

--toujours Le ris sur son visage est en mauvaise humeur.

--that “it is to be deposited in the British Museum—together with the body of Bonaparte, to enable the English, who did not dare to face him alive, to look at him dead!!!” Where did this degraded and despicable paper learn, that the English feared to Bonaparte alive? Was it in the “AUTHENTIC NARRATIVE” of Captain Berry, which describes, in plain yet forcible language, the gallant Nelson, with an inferior fleet, pursuing this “dreaded hero,” with an eagerness that could only be surpassed by that with which Bonaparte fled from him!

But the unnatural rage of the Morning Chronicle to sacrifice the honour of this country to France, is too notorious to be farther dwelt upon. Callous alike to shame and detection, it blunders on, through universal hatred and contempt, from one ignorant and atrocious falsehood to another. The reader of the former part of this work cannot have forgotten with what consummate baseness it misrepresented the tendency of the publication, and, under the fulsome pretence of reprehending scandal, (which has no where to be found in it), gave a loose to its own darling licentiousness and impurity!

(4) Each of these divisions consisted of from five to seven thousand men; the reader may therefore form a tolerable estimate of the forces that attacked Alexandria. Boyer reckons them at twenty thousand; and this, if we include the unattached volunteers of the army, who were pretty numerous, was, we doubt not, the amount.

(5) This “fatiguing march” was one of little more than a league. The remark is of no farther importance than as it serves towards elucidating the history of this “terrestrial paradise,” where to “travel but four foot by the square a-foot,” as Falstaff says, “is to break one’s wind!”

(6) As, Heaven knows! They might well do; for we can assure our readers, from the testimony of persons well acquainted with those famous “ramparts” that many a park wall in this country presents a more formidable aspect. The only danger to be apprehended in this terrible escalade was, lest the assailants should pull down the old wall upon themselves—and this, we find, they actually did do; for General Menou, and several others, were wounded by the fall of the stones which gave way beneath their grasp!

If the catastrophe had been less tragical, we should have indulged a smile at the parade of arrangements made by Bonaparte for getting possession of this defenceless place. “It would have surrendered,” says Boyer “at the first summons;” and so it undoubtedly would—but then how scurvily would this have sounded in the pages of the Morning Chronicle, and the Redacteur! Hence the reconnoitering “within pistol-shot.” The beating of the generale, the scrambling over the wall, &c. Unparalleled achievements, and, in the judgment of the aforesaid papers, worthy of everlasting renown! Be it so: and yet, we trust, very few of our readers will be so dazzled by their splendour, as not to see that the instantaneous capture of the city renders the subsequent massacre of its inhabitants altogether inexcusable. Something may be allowed to rage, when success is at length obtained after an obstinate and destructive resistance. But Mr. Wakefeld himself must excuse us, if we do not feel inclined to make much allowance for a man, or more properly a monster, who, at one and the same moment, invests and carries in an open place (for such in fact it is), and then deliberately murders men, women, and children, in their very mosques!

(7) This was a great pity—but be of good heart, citizen; Bonaparte will enter the town as soon as it is completely in the power of his troops, then you, and they, and all, will have full leisure to take “VENGEANCE,” not only on the man who killed the grenadier that would have killed him, but on his wife and child, who are calling on heaven and earth for mercy!

(8) Here follows a short account of the Arabs, which, as it is merely a repetition of what is said respecting them in the former letter, we have omitted. Poor Shechy is a miserable historian; instead of comparing these people to the ancient Scythians, of whom he knows nothing, and who had very little in common with the Arabs, he should have looked out for a resemblance nearer home. If the sentence had run thus—“These Arabs resemble the modern French: the world is their country, they live on rapine, &c.” few, we believe, would have thought of disputing its accuracy.

(9) Excellent. To augur success from the very circumstances which oppose it, is, we believe, peculiar to the French.