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(Louis de Launay, 1753-1812, Comte d', French publicist and political adventurer)]
Group of 16 Autograph Letter Signed, in French with checklist and translations,
addressed to d'Antraigues, by
James Tyrrell ROSS
(Private secretary, 1807-1809, to
, the Foreign Secretary, later Prime Minister), written in increasingly familiar terms, but in very guarded language, Ross is acting as d'Antraigues' main contact with Canning and with 'Il', 'l'Ami' or 'votre Ami', whom he meets at Gloucester Lodge (Old Brompton, bought by Canning in 1809), thanking him for information, arranging for copies of leaflets to be distributed on the coast of France, referring to 'le Général' (probably Puisaye, see below), setting up meetings at dinner, and asking him to use an ordinary seal ('cachet') rather than his personal one, together 30 sides mostly 8vo, written from Spring Garden, St. James' Street, Gloucester Lodge, or the Foreign Office, 6th February - 18th December 1809 and no place, no date, but London c.
The Count, a Gascon of the Cevennes, had been a Republican in 1788, a member of the Assembly of 1789, a Monarchist in 1790 and had then emigrated to Venice, Vienna, Dresden and finally London (1806), his love of intrigue being stronger than his ambition. He was the confidant and correspondent of the Comte de Provence (Louis XVIII), Maria Carolina of Naples, the Tsar, and, once in England, of Canning. His credibility, it was rumoured, was increased by revealing secret terms of the treaties of Tilsit, June 1807, between Napoleon and the Tsar, which Canning forestalled by ordering the attack on the Danish fleet in Copenhagen. At the end of his career he lost credibility and he and his wife, the singer Saint-Huberty, were assassinated in mysterious circumstances, by a servant dismissed the previous day, outside their cottage in Barnes Terrace. See, for example, 'The D'Antraigues phenomenon: the making and breaking of a revolutionary royalist espionage agent', 1985, by Colin Duckworth, also d'Antraigues' unpublished 'Mes Soliloques' (Bibliothèque Nationale, Achat no. 23055).
After Tilsit, Louis XVIII deemed it prudent to leave Mittau in the Tsar's dominions and planned to settle in England. Canning was unhappy and insisted that he live at least 50 miles from London. By this time d'Antraigues had no great love for Louis XVIII, who preferred the counsels of the Comte d'Avaray. d'Antraigues joined General Puisaye, then one of the chief émigrés in London, in attacking d'Avaray in Vol. VI of Puisaye's memoirs (January 1809), in all probability the 'matter of the General' referred to in the present letter of 11th February. d'Avaray and his friends tried to provoke Puisaye to a duel, and Puisaye retired to Devon. The present letters show Canning's continued support for d'Antraigues. A main source for d'Antraigues' correspondence from 1807 to early 1809 is his many letters to Puisaye (see the BL MSS ) and the present letters take up where the latter cease.
1. St. James Street. Wednesday [perhaps early in 1809]. About the number of copies of a document, and a letter for Canning.
2. Foreign Office, 6th February 1809. About d'Antraigues' hurt arm: could he not dictate a letter ?
3. 11th Feb. 1809. Ross has reported their conversation of this morning to 'Him', who advises silence, the matter of 'the General' will be probably be settled as d'A has advised. Ross offers to interpret at the physicians'.
4. Foreign Office, 22nd Feb. 1809. The Abbé Penceaux [sic, probably for Pericaud] must supply an account of the £100 spent leafleting the coasts of France.
5. Tuesday 11th April [probably 1809]. Assuring d'A that the recipient of his letter knows it was hand-delivered by d'A.
6. Foreign Office. 24th May 1809. Arranging luncheon.
7. Spring Garden. 25th July [probably 1809]. About collecting copies.
8. Saturday 1st October [? for Saturday 30th September 1809]. About sending 100 copies to Mr Treves, and mentioning Canning.
9. [Foreign] Office. Friday. [?c. October 1809]. About sending 50 copies to Russia.
10. Gloucester Lodge, Tuesday 17th October 1809. 'Your Friend' asks if d'A can dine at Gloucester Lodge on Thursday instead of calling on Thursday morning, and d'A can then meet 'another of your friends (Mr Butler)'.
11. St. James Street, 18th December 1809. Forwarding two letters [not present] from 'your Friend'.
12. St. James' Street. Sunday. Ross will forward letter to Canning, who is briefly in the country.
13. St. James Street, Wednesday. 'Your Friend' asks you to use an ordinary seal, not your personal one.
14. Ross has to leave early for Gloucester Lodge, to meet 'the Friend'.
15. St. James Street. Friday evening. Apologies - Ross has to go to the City, then Gloucester Lodge, but can meet any day next week except one.
16. Monday. Ross has to go early to the City, for 'the Friend'. He has a small caution for d'A, nothing to do with 'the Friend'.
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