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The Comte de St. Germain, by Isabel Cooper-Oakley, [1912], at

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Hble. Maj. Gen. Yorke.


Whitehall, March 21st, 1760.


His Majesty commands me to acquaint you, that you are at liberty to read my secret letter of this date to Count de St. Germain as often as he desires it, and even to let him take such precautions as he may think necessary to assist his Memory, in order to avoid all mistakes, in conveying His Majesty's sentiments to the Court of France. HOLDERNESSE.


Right Honourable Earl of Holdernesse.


The Hague, March 25th, 1760.

My Lord,

I received this afternoon by Blackmore, the messenger, the honour of your Lordship's secret letter of the 21st instant; it is unnecessary perhaps for me to say that His Majesty's gracious approbation of my conduct, in my conversation with Count St. Germain, was a great consolation to me, and I return your Lordship my humble

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thanks for the early information you have been so good as to give me of it, for you will easily imagine some anxiety must attend the touching upon such delicate points.

As I have now His Majesty's clear and ample instructions, I shall lose no time in carrying them into execution, and have taken measures this evening to let M. St. Germain know at Amsterdam, that I had some particulars to acquaint him with in consequence of our former interview. I shall not fail to explain very clearly what your Lordship prescribes, and endeavor to bring him still closer to the point than I thought it decent to insist upon before I knew His Majesty's sentiments; of all that passes your Lordship shall be immediately informed, and in the meanwhile I have the honour to remain with the greatest respect. . . . JOSEPH YORKE.


Hon. Gen. Yorke.


Whitehall, March 28th, 1760.


His Majesty is of opinion, as well from the tenor of your several letters, as by other advices that have been received, that the Duc de Choiseul is the least inclined to pacific measures of any of those who are in credit at the Court of Versailles; and this in consequence of his predilection for the alliance of the House of Austria; but that finding the pacific party too prevalent to be openly withstood, he has acquiesced in authorising Mr. d’Affry to talk in the manner he has done, in order, at least, to have a share in the negociation for peace, if that measure shall ultimately be determined, or to delay or disappoint the measure itself, which he has endeavoured to do, by naming a person whom he imagined could not be accepted here, and by even delaying the departure of

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that person, till the arrival of Mr. de Fuentes, which cannot be in less than two months. But notwithstanding the notion which is entertained of Mons. de Choiseul’s intentions, the King thinks it proper that the overture made by Mr. d’Affry should not be discouraged, but that pretty much the same answer should be returned to him as has already been given to Mr. St. Germain, as you will observe by my other letter of this date, there being no other difference but what relates to the new hint thrown out by Mr. d’Affry, of sending a person to London. You will observe, the King has no objection to it, if a proper person is chosen, but His Majesty is determined not to receive one of his own subjects in quality of negotiator from France, and of all others, Mr. Dunn would be the most unfit for such a commission, and most obnoxious here. The precedent of Mr. Wall is not analogous to the present case; but were it so, His Majesty would still be at liberty to make this exception. It still appears to His Majesty probable enough that Count St. Germain was authorised to talk to you in the manner he has done, and that his commission is unknown to the Duc de Choiseul: but as that minister will, in all likelihood, communicate the answer returned to Mr. d’Affry to a formal proposal, made, by order of his Court, to those persons who have employed St. Germain, His Majesty thought proper that there should be an exact uniformity in the answers given to both; as it is not the King's intention to neglect either of these channels, you will therefore seek the earliest opportunity of having an interview with Mr. d’Affry; and as my other letter is wrote in an ostensible manner, you may read it all to him, and even suffer him to take a note of what is underlined in it.


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To the Earl of Holdernesse.


The Hague, March 28th, 1760.

My Lord,

Count St. Germain came to me yesterday morning in consequence of my having acquainted him of my being desirous to speak to him; I was very free in explaining to him the impossibility there was of entering any farther into conversation with him, without he could produce an authentic authority from, or in the name of, His Most Christian Majesty, for negotiating upon the affair, which had made the subject of our last conversation. I told him that I was avowed and he was not, and therefore all he said might be disavowed at once; whilst what came from me would bear the respectable mark of the character the King honoured me with. I was as strong as possible upon this point, by way of introduction to the communication I had leave to make to him, by the orders contained in your Lordship's secret letter of the 21st inst.; and added that, though it was evident there was more than one opinion at the Court of France, yet, we could not treat with different persons, some of whom were authorized and some not: that, as he knew the public step the King had made, in opening a congress to His enemies, and since that, the unprecedented mark of generosity His Majesty had showed in permitting me to enter into pourparlers with M. d’Affry, it was needless to expatiate upon the inutility and impropriety of farther measures on our part, if he did not meet with a proper return.

Having premised this, I told him that out of regard to the person whose letters he had communicated to me formerly. and from conviction that he was sincere in desiring to advance so salutary a work, I had the King's

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permission to communicate to him His Majesty's further sentiments about a reconciliation with the Court of France: which ought to convince every well-meaning person how sincere and how pure His Majesty's sentiments are.

I accordingly communicated to him your Lordship's despatch, and at his desire permitted him to minute down the latter part of it: It is therefore His Majesty's pleasure, to the end.

Thus as we went in consequence of my orders; but as an incident had happened since my last letter in relation to Count St. Germain, which M. d’Affry (who knows nothing as yet of his conversation with me) had talked of very freely, I was desirous to know how he told the story, which is as follows: On Sunday, M. d’Affry received a courier from the Duc de Choiseul, with orders to say that M. St. Germain was charged with nothing from the Court of France, that he (d’Affry) should let him know, that he should not frequent his house and even forbid him to come there.

This M. d’Affry acquainted St. Germain with, on Wednesday, upon his waiting upon him in the name of the French King; but upon the latter's desiring to see the order, because he could not imagine it came from His Most Christian Majesty, M. d’Affry retracted that part and said it was not absolutely from the King, but from the Duc de Choiseul, as Secretary for Foreign Affairs. This was accompanied with great protestations of regard, and at the same time, a desire to have some further conversation with him the next day, which St. Germain declined, as unwilling to expose the Ambassador to any second breach of orders, which he had already broke thro’, by letting him in. M. d’Affry let drop, that this order was occasioned by a letter St. Germain had wrote

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to Mme de Pompadour, which as he phrased it, lui avait fait une diable d’affaire à Versailles, tho’ he denied knowing anything of the contents of the letter. St. Germain appealed to the proofs he had given him upon his arrival, of his not being unavowed, declared his being perfectly easy about the effect of any letter he had wrote, and in a manner set the Ambassador at defiance, and took leave of him abruptly; notwithstanding which M. d’Affry sent after him again yesterday, and exprest his uneasiness at not having seen him, fearing he might be indisposed; whether he has been there since, I don't know. This new episode in the romance of Count St. Germain did not much surprise me, nor should I wonder, tho’ he pretends to fear nothing, if some time or other a powerful French Minister puts a stop to his travelling. I was, however, curious to know what he proposed to do, in consequence of it, and in what manner to proceed, in the business he had undertaken. Here I think, for the first time, I caught him wavering a little: whether that proceeded from any apprehension of the Duc de Choiseul’s resentment, or from what he pretends,. the indifference for business on the part of the French King, and the indecision of the Lady, I won't pretend to say: but I found him in some doubt, whether he should not work, to bring the Duc de Choiseul himself, with the system he supposed to be revelled in the breasts of those in whose names he speaks.

It was not my business to lead him in such an affair, and therefore I only threw out that that seemed to me a delicate affair at a distance, and might embarrass those who protected him. I pushed him after that to inform me in what manner he intended to make use of what I had leave to show him, and whether he intended to go himself to Versailles. This he declined for the present,

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as he said, he might be sent back again immediately, and should only give more umbrage; but he would send a servant of his with three letters, one to marshal Belleisle, one to Mme de Pompadour, and a third to the Comte de Clermont, Prince of the Blood, whom he mentioned for the first time, as his intimate friend, and as one, who had the French King's confidence, independently of his ministers, and who was a fast friend to the coming to an immediate accommodation with England. To remove all suspicion of his deceiving me, he did, in reality, produce a letter from that Prince to him, of the 14th inst., wrote in the most friendly and cordial terms, lamenting his absence, and wishing strongly for his speedy return. From the two last mentioned persons he made no doubt of receiving answers; from Mme de Pompadour, he did not, he said, expect it, because it was a maxim with her, not to write upon state affairs, tho’ it was absolutely necessary to inform her, that he was strengthened, and able to work on her side.

All this is very plausible, but the effect is still to be proved. In the meantime, it is plain, that these French ministers counteract each other, and consequently are in different systems; which is to prevail, don't depend upon us, but it can't be deterimental to His Majesty's service, that his sentiments should be known to the Court of France, by any channel they think fit to receive them thro’.

M. d’Affry's compliments, after his acquainting St. Germain with the Duc de Choiseul’s orders, are as extraordinary as the rest, especially as he knows very well his connexion with marshal Belleisle, and had seen the French King's passport to him. All this mystery will be unveiled by degrees, and I shan't fail to inform your Lordship of the further lights I can collect; I let Mr.

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St. Germain know that he or any other person, duly authorised, was equal in England, the chief objection we had at present, and what stopt the whole, was the want of a proper and sufficient credential. . . .



To the Earl of Holdernesse.


The Hague, April 8th, 1760.

My Lord,

It is rather to show my attention to all the material letters your Lordship honoured me with, on the 28th past, than from anything very particular I have to trouble you with, that I take the liberty to acknowledge by themselves the honour of your Lordship's secret letters of that date, and of the 1st instant.

I must acquaint you, however, that I spoke very plainly to Mr. d’Affry upon the subject of Mr. Dunn . . . and explained to him in the strongest and fullest manner why it would be impossible to receive him as a negotiator from the Court of France.

I must do the French Ambassador the justice to say, that he entered into the reasons alleged, but endeavoured to persuade me that the Duc de Choiseul could not mean to propose a man, whom he had not conceived a good opinion of; but that he hoped upon the representations he should now make to him, in form, that that would be waived.

Mr. St. Germain is still at the Hague, but has not as yet produced anything new from France, and it is highly probable that after the noise his first letters made, nobody will care to risk a direct correspondence with him, which may cross the Duc de Choiseul’s measures; Mr. d’Affry pretends that that French Minister is

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desirous of Peace, because His Most Christian Majesty is, and that it is serving his Master according to his wishes. Indeed, the reserve the French Ambassador observes towards the Ministers of their Allies here, the awkward uneasiness he shewed lest they should know we had met, and several expressions he let drop about them and their Courts, would incline me to think, that Peace is the object of France, and that the pacific party is the most prevalent: but for the proof of that we must wait for the answer to the Communication I have just made, which is so fair and so confidential, that if they don't come into it, there cannot remain the least doubt hereafter of their determination to try the fate of the Campaign.

I am infinitely obliged to your Lordship for encouraging me with the assurance of His Majesty's approbation of my conduct, and I humbly recommend myself to the indulgence of His Majesty and of His Servants, in the course of this delicate affair. . . .



From Mr. Mitchell to Lord Holdernesse.

Head Quarters at Freyburg,
Thursday, March 27th, 1760.

My Lord,

Twice I had the honour of your Lordship's Courier of the 4th by Badmore, and of the 14th by a Prussian Courier; I have communicated the same to His Prussian Majesty's friendship, and unreserved confidence. He said he would follow the King's example. . . .

The King of Prussia thinks, that nothing certain can be concluded from all that has passed between Gen. Yorke and the French Ambassador, to the 4th inst., but he added he was in daily expectation of hearing something

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from France, that might be depended upon; that he already had had accounts, that the person sent from the Court of Gotha had been well received: that the Bailli de Froulay, immediately upon reading his letter, went to Versailles; and that he had promised to the emissary, to procure him a permission for sending of expresses and couriers and passports for himself to return, when it should be thought proper: he concluded with saying that so soon as he had any certain notice of what was passing at Paris, he would send a courier directly to England.

The King of Prussia was pleased then to give me some account of a most extraordinary conversation, which Count St. Germain had had with General Yorke, on the 15th, at the Hague, the particulars of which need not be mentioned, as your Lordship will have them more authentically: he observed that though the manners were of the most uncommon kind, yet Gen. Yorke had done . . . to give your Lordship an immediate account of what had passed, that it was very probable the Count may have been employed in this secret commission by the marshal Belleisle, without the knowledge of the other French Ministers as the Cabinet is extremely divided. He asked me if I was acquainted with this St. Germain, who, as he was informed, had been some time in England. I answered I had seen him there, but did not imagine he would ever become a negotiator. His Prussian Majesty answered that he heard the Count had found a way to insinuate himself into the good graces of the French King, whom he had amused with some experiments in Chemistry, and that the French King had made him a present of the Château de Chambord1


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Letter from Mr. Mitchell to Lord Holdernesse.

Freyburg, April 9th, 1760.

My Lord,

His Prussian Majesty mentioned me a letter from Monsieur de Bouillé, lately intercepted, in which that minister says that the French Court are inclined to peace; that the disputes in Canada will be settled to the liking of the English; to whom, likewise, Minorca will be restored, and Cape Breton to the French, but he hesitates much about the cession of Guadeloupe. He also said that Count d’Affry had, by order of the Duc de Choiseul, disavowed to the allied ministers, everything that Count St. Germain had said to General Yorke; and that the Court of Vienna, at the solicitation of the French Ambassador, had at last consented to send Ministers to the congress; but Kaunitz hinted they should be empowered to do nothing.



228:1 Compare with Appendix I.

Next: Appendix VII. Miscellaneous Papers From English Record Office