Reported On These Pages 280 Years Ago (August 11 1739): French warning to Dutch not to join Britain in war against Spain

The Belfast News Letter of July 31 1739 (August 10 in the modern calendar)
The Belfast News Letter of July 31 1739 (August 10 in the modern calendar)
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From July 31 1739 News Letter (which is equivalent to August 11 in the modern calendar):


The marquis de Fenelon being lately with some of the first members of the regency, told them, that his court having learned that the court of Great Britain had sent its ambassador to the Hague, to engage the republick to make a common cause with it against Spain, the most Christian king hoped that the states general would not suffer themselves to be persuaded to enter into a war, at a time when his most Christian majesty was labouring to give peace to all Europe, and in pursuance of that system had offered his mediation to Great Britain and Spain, in order to accommodate their differences, but if it should happen that the states general, in opposition to his most Christian majesty’s scheme, should think fit to concur with the king of Great Britain, and enter into war against Spain, he the marquis de Fenelon had instructions to acquaint them, that they would in a very short time see an army of 80 or 100,000 French troops at the gates of Breda.

A declaration of this sort could not fail of giving great surprize to the regency in general, but particularly to that of the province of Holland, which has for a considerable time past laid great stress upon the good intentions of France.

This declaration of the marquis has been communicated to the British ambassador, who has not yet formally demanded the body of 6000 men, with which the states general are by the tenor of several treaties to furnish Great Britain in case of need: but he has talk’d upon this subject with the lords of the regency, or rather with the two first ministers, and has mentioned to them the closer alliance which the king of Great Britain wishes to enter into with the republick.

That ambassador has also represented in the strongest manner, the necessity that there was of opposing the pretensions of the court of Spain, and the rights that it arrogates to itself in the American seas, and to that effect advises the States to have recourse to arms, if the method of negociation continues unsuccessful.

The Marquis de St. Giles, ambassador from Spain, having, by the means of two or three accidents, been enabled to say, that he had stopt the effect of the instances of the court of Great Britain, again endeavours to acquire the same glory by attempts to dissuade the members of the state from following the instigations of the British ambassador; in this likewise chance may still favour the marquis de St. Giles, the system of the government being to avoid ruptures with every power whatsoever, which system is now more likely to be pursu’d, than before the declaration of the French ambassador, as above.

[The States General were the Dutch Republic provinces, Breda a Dutch fortified city. De Fenelon was the French ambassador to the States General. Britain was very close to going to war against Spain over tensions over shipping in the Caribbean]

LONDON. July 21.

From Cornwall we hear, that several small boats, with about ten hands in each, had been seen hovering about the coast, and were taken for fishermen; but on proper persons being sent out on enquiry, they were found to be only French spies, surveying the coast and sounding the depths near shore, ad usum Gallia.

It was yesterday reported, that an English ship, richly laden, was taken by the Spaniards off Cadiz.

Letter from the Hague, July 22. N.S.

Without recapitulating any thing in my former, I continue to run the parallel in divers particulars betwixt the Dutch and East-India companies, the two greatest trading companies in the world.

The Dutch company, tho’ it has been called a republick, within a republick, is nevertheless more dependant than the English.

For instance, every three years they are obliged to bring their accounts to be approved by the States General. This however is not done on the part of their high mightinesses to pry into the secrets of trade, or in the least to impair it.

Indeed, the concern which the chief persons in the government have in the company by themselves, or their friends, make it sure of all the favour that the government can give it.

The two companies are useful, tho’ not equally useful to the publick, for the large loans of money on little or sometimes no interest, which they furnish their respective governments.

Both contribute to the pressing necessities of the state by free gifts. Anno 1698, the English company advanced two millions for the trade, but the Dutch never made near to great an advance at a time.

The English hath often lent the government a sum of 1,200,000l. without any interest for the same. The Dutch hath never done so much for the publick at a time: tho’ almost in all times have they been better able to do it.

[£1.2 million is almost £300 million in modern money]

DUBLIN, July 28.

Last Thursday the Rt Hon. William Conolly, Esq; and several other Persons of distinction arrived her from England.

LONDON, July 21.

The royal regiment of Scots Fuzileers, commanded by Col. John Campbell, is arrived at Basingstocke in Berkshire from Ireland. And next week they are to be review’d by his majesty on Hounslow Heath.