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                THE GREAT (FORGOTTEN)

IT happened some sixty years ago; it was
a French invasion; and it actually took
place in England. Thousands of people are
alive at the present moment, who must
remember it perfectly well. And yet it has
been forgotten. At this very time, when the
French invasion that may come, is being
discussed everywhere, the French invasion that
did come, is not honoured with so much as a
passing word of notice. The new generation
knows nothing about it. The old generation
has carelessly forgotten it. This is discreditable,
and it must be set right; this is a
dangerous security, and it must be disturbed;
this is a gap in the Modern History of
England, and it must be filled up.

Fathers, read and be reminded; mothers,
read and be alarmed; British youths and
maidens, read and be informed. Here follows
the true history of the great forgotten
Invasion of England, at the end of the
last century; divided into scenes and periods,
and carefully derived from proved and
written facts recorded in Kelly's History of the Wars:


ON the twenty-second day of February, in
the year seventeen hundred and ninety-seven,
the inhabitants of North Devonshire
looked towards the Bristol Channel, and saw
the French invasion coming on, in four ships.

The Directory of the French Republic (One
and Indivisible) had been threatening these
islands some time before; but much talk
and little action having characterised the
proceedings of that governing body in most
other matters, no great apprehension was felt
of their really carrying out their expressed
intention in relation to this country. The
war between the two nations was, at this
time, confined to naval operations, in which
the English invariably got the better of the
French. North Devonshire (as well as the
rest of England) was aware of this, and
trusted implicitly in our well-known supremacy
of the seas. North Devonshire got up
on the morning of the twenty-second of
February, without a thought of the invasion;
North Devonshire looked out towards the
Bristol Channel, and therein spite of our
supremacy of the seasthere the invasion
was, as large as life.

Of the four ships which the Directory had
sent to conquer England, two were frigates
and two were smaller vessels. It sailed
along, this dreadful fleet, in view of a whole
panic-stricken, defenceless coast; and the
place at which it seemd inclined to try the
invading experiment first, was ill-fated
Ilfracombe. The commander of the expedition
brought his ships up before the harbour,
scuttled a few coasting vessels, prepared to
destroy the rest, thought better of it, and
suddenly turned his four warlike sterns on
North Devonshire, in the most unaccountable
manner. History is silent as to the cause of
this abrupt and singular change of purpose.
Did the chief of the invaders act from sheer
indecision? Did he distrust the hotel
accommodation at Ilfracombe? Had he heard of
the clotted cream of Devonshire, and did he
apprehend the bilious disorganisation of the
whole army, if they once got within reach of
that rich delicacy? These are important
questions, but no satisfactory answer can be
found to them. The motives which
animated the commander of the invading
Frenchmen, are buried in oblivion; the fact
alone remains, that he spared Ifracombe.
The last that was seen of him from North
Devonshire, he was sailing over ruthlessly to
the devoted coast of Wales.


IN one respect it may be said that Wales
was favoured by comparison with North
Devonshire. The great and formidable fact
of the French invasion had burst suddenly
on Ilfracombe; but it only dawned in a
gradual manner on the coast of Pembrokeshire.
In the course of his cruise across the
Bristol Channel, it had apparently occurred
to the commander of the expedition, that a
little diplomatic deception, at the outset,
might prove to be of ultimate advantage to
him.  He decided, therefore, on concealing
his true character from the eyes of the
Welshmen: and when his four ships were first
made out, from the heights above Saint