From Chevalier de Colbert1
Hamburg, February 6–8, 1800. States that it is a sign of progress that France has exchanged five tyrants for one.2 Discusses strained relations between Russia and Austria3 and the orders to Suvarov to return to Russia.4 Reiterates his love for Catherine Church5 and his regret that she will not be permitted to marry him. Expresses his sorrow over the death of George Washington and his continuing admiration for Hamilton.
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. This letter is written in French.
Colbert served with the French navy during the American Revolution. Soon after the outbreak of the French Revolution, which he opposed, he went to England. He participated in the landing at Quiberon in June, 1795, and in the insurrection of Vendémiaire in October of the same year. He then returned to England and in the winter of 1796–1797 immigrated to the United States, where he remained until the end of the century. In 1802 he returned to France.
2. Napoleon had overthrown the Directory on November 9, 1799 (coup d’état of 18 Brumaire) and following the popular vote approving the Constitution of the Year VIII became the first consul and the effective dictator of France.
3. On October 22, 1799, the Russians had withdrawn from the Second Coalition in large part because of their disgust with the policy of Austria.
4. Aleksandr Vasilyevich Suvarov was a Russian general who in 1799 was made generalissimo of the Russian army. In the war of the Second Coalition (1798–1799) the forces under his command drove the French out of northern Italy. He then crossed from Italy into Switzerland, where he suffered a series of reverses, and retreated in October, 1799, to Lindau, where he went into winter quarters. Tsar Paul I recalled Suvarov and his troops to Russia on January 8, 1800.