Tuesday, April 26, 2011

They had to earn their keep somehow...

The British response to French émigrés fleeing to their shores was mixed at best. Burke was very much sympathetic to the émigré population, in particular to the segment of the population set on armed overthrow of the French Revolutionary government. Pitt was officially neutral, as he was up until the point where the French government declared war on Great Britain, but his later refusal to support émigré armies and his cabinet's Alien Laws preventing any French republicans from coming to England, and the banning of speakers, visitors and speakers suggest that Pitt was not altogether keen on increasing the French percentage of the population.

By far the oddest reaction to the French émigrés was that of the Duke of Bridgewater, he of the famous canals, who, Madame de Stael reports, rescued what seems to be an abbey's worth of monks for the purpose of having them wander through his gardens. It certainly beats having a Weeping Angel entertaining your neighbors at a garden party.

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