Grand Duke of Tuscany, should have a stronger navy than that belonging to the King of Naples."
We leave this extraordinary letter without comment or remark, except just to point out the singular circumstance that the navy of Spain, the ally of France, and which more than trebled that of Holland, should not have been called in aid of Buonaparte's grand scheme.
While the Brest fleet is remaining quiet in port, awaiting the issue of the Egyptian campaign, we will recount some adventures between the British cruisers stationed off the French coast and the gun-boats that were to be instrumental in effecting the overthrow of England. It will be necessary first to give a brief account of the origin and composition of a description of force, which we may name, in reference to its avowed, if not its real object, the Invasion Flotilla.
Soon after his triumphant return from Italy, Buonaparte was appointed by the directory the commander-in-chief of an army called, in rather a more public manner than would, we should suppose, have been the case, had there been any thing but a diversion intended, "armée d'Angleterre." On the subsequent departure of the conqueror of Italy for Toulon, to superintend what, at his suggestion probably, was the main plan in agitation, General Kilmaine succeeded him in the command of an army, whose very name, coupled with the extravagant tales of its amount, was calculated, if not to create alarm, to cause many expensive preparations in the defensive way on the opposite side of the Channel.
The flat-bottomed boats which, during the latter months of the year 1797, were building in most of the French ports along the Channel frontier, were, it appears, constructed from a plan of the celebrated Swedish architect, Chapman, brought to France by an inhabitant of Antwerp, or Anvers, named Muskein ; and whom the directory, besides appointing him to superintend the construction of these boats (usually called by the French sailors "bateaux â la Muskein "), made a capitaine de vaisseau. The business of providing the means of transport, including the flat and all other descriptions of vessels, was entrusted to a commission of three persons : General Andréossi, with the title of director-general ; the engineer Forfait, with the title of director (ordonnateur); and Rear-admiral la Crosse, with that of inspector-general of the coasts between Cherbourg and Antwerp. A sum of eight millions of francs, drawn from the funds in the hands of the minister of marine, was placed at the disposal of the above named commissioners, to be accounted for to Buonaparte, or to whomever else was the commanding officer of the expedition. To Rear-admiral la Crosse, owing to the
* As this letter of General Buonaparte's is a very important one, we have given a transcript, of the original ; for which see Appendix, No. 13.
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