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Disappointment to M. d'Arblay-His negociations with the French
Government- His claims disallowed — Letter from Madame d'Arblay to Miss Planta, acquainting her with the particulars Letter of M. d'Arblay, informing his wife of the determination of the French Government-Reply of Madame d’Arblay-Letter of M. d'Arblay, desiring that his wife and child should follow him to Paris–Madame d’Arblay sets out on her Journey-Her companions in the Diligence-Monsieur Anglais-Madame Raymond—Madame Blaizeau-First impressions of France-The Commissaire—God Save the King in Calais—The Market-Place -Costume of the Market-Women-Demands at the Custom House-Country between Calais and Paris - Restoration of the Dimanche-Sunday Night Dance.
[The beginning of this year was attended with much anxiety to Madame d’Arblay. Her husband, disappointed in the hopes suggested by his friends, of his receiving employment as French Commercial Consul in London, directed his efforts to obtaining his halfpay on the retired list of French officers. This was promised, on condition that he should previously serve at St. Domingo, where General Leclerc was then endeavouring to put down Toussaint's insurrection. He accepted the appointment conditionally on his being allowed to retire as soon as that expedition should be ended. This, he was told, was impossible, and he therefore hastened back to his family towards the end of January
In February, a despatch followed him from General Berthier, then Minister at War, announcing that his appointment was made out, and on his own terms. To this M. d'Arblay wrote his acceptance, but repeated a stipulation he had before made, that while he was ready to fight against the enemies of the Republic, yet, should future events disturb the peace lately established between France and England, it was his unalterable determination never to take up arms against the British Government. As this determination had
already been signified by M. d'Arblay, he waited not to hear the result of its repetition, but set off again for Paris to receive orders, and proceed thence to St. Domingo.
After a short time he was informed that his stipulation of never taking up arms against England could not be accepted, and that his military appointment was, in consequence, annulled. Having been required at the Alien Office, on quitting England, to engage that he would not return for the space of one year, he now proposed that Madame d’Arblay, with her little boy, should join him in France:-and among the following letters will be found several in which she describes her first impressions on reaching that country, and the society to which she was introduced.]
Madame d’Arblay to Miss Planta.
Camilla Cottage, West Hamble, February 11, 1802. A most unexpected, and, to me, severe event, draws from me now an account I had hoped to have reserved for a far happier communication, but which I must beg you to endeavour to seek some leisure moment for making known, with the utmost humility, to my royal mistress.
Upon the total failure of every effort M. d'Arblay could make to recover any part of his natural inheritance, he was advised by his friends to apply to the French Government for half pay, upon the claims of his former military services. He drew up a memoir, openly stating his attachment and loyalty to his late King, and appealing for this justice after undeserved
proscription. His right was admitted; but he was informed it could only be made good by his re-entering the army; and a proposal to that effect was sent him by Berthier, the Minister of War.
The disturbance of his mind at an offer which so many existing circumstances forbade his foreseeing was indescribable. He had purposed faithfully retiring to his hermitage, with his fellow-hermit, for the remainder of his life; and nothing upon earth could ever induce him to bear arms against the country which had given him asylum, as well as birth to his wife and child ;—and yet a military spirit of honour, born and bred in him, made it repugnant to all his feelings to demand even retribution from the Government of his own country, yet refuse to serve it. Finally, therefore, he resolved to accept the offer conditionally ;to accompany the expedition to St. Domingo, for the restoration of order in the French colonies, and then, restored thus to his rank in the army, to claim his retraite. This he declared to the Minister of War, annexing a further clause of receiving his instructions immediately from the Government.
The Minister's answer to this was, that these conditions were impossible.
Relieved rather than resigned—though dejected to find himself thus thrown out of every promise of prosperity, M. d'Arblay hastened back to his cottage, to the inexpressible satisfaction of the recluse he had left there. Short, however, has been its duration ! A packet has just followed him, containing a letter from Berthier, to tell him that his appointment was made out according to his own demands! and enclosing another letter to the Commander-in-Chief, Leclerc, with the
orders of Government for employing him, delivered in terms, the most distinguished, of his professional character.
All hesitation, therefore, now necessarily ends, and nothing remains for M. d'Arblay but acquiescence and despatch,—while his best consolation is in the assurance he has universally received, that this expedition has the good wishes and sanction of England. And, to avert any misconception or misrepresentation, he has this day delivered to M. Otto a letter, addressed immediately to the First Consul, acknowledging the flattering manner in which he has been called forth, but decidedly and clearly repeating what he had already declared to the War Minister, that though he would faithfully fulfil the engagement into which he was entering, it was his unalterable resolution never to take up arms against the British Government.
I presume to hope this little detail may, at some convenient moment, meet her Majesty's eyes—with every expression of my profoundest devotion.
I am, &c. My own plans during the absence of M. d'Arblay are yet undetermined. I am, at present, wholly consigned to aiding his preparations—to me, I own, a most melancholy task-but which I have the consolation to find gives pleasure to our mutual friends, glad to have him, for a while, upon such conditions, quit his spade and his cabbages.
Monsieur d'Arblay to Madame d'Arblay.'
Paris, ce 17 Ventose, an 10 (Mars 8, 1802). Je t'écris par triplicata ma position actuelle : c'est