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A HISTORY OF MALTA | Secret Societies

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A HISTORY OF MALTA

on Jan 29, 2012 in Knights Templars

A HISTORY OF MALTA
DUKING THE PERIOD OF THE FRENCH AND BRITISH
OCCUPATIONS, 1798—1815

 

The late Mr. William Hardmaiij of Valetta, with most praiseworthyzeal
and assiduity collected the following series of documents relating
to the fortunes of the island with which he had so long been associated.
He also connected them by an explanatory narrative. Death
supervened before he could entirely prepare them for the Press ; and
his executors applied to the present editor to revise the whole of the
MS., and add to it an Introduction and footnotes.
The editor has felt it to be his duty to keep the narrative and
general arrangement of the work, so far as Avas possible, in the state
in which Mr. Hardman left it. At the same time he was empowered
by the executors, in accordance with instructions left by the deceased,
to curtail or amend the MS. where it was found necessary to do so.
He has felt it necessary to restrict the narrative and documents at
several points, especially where they covered ground that had already
been traversed in other works, such as the ‘Nelson Dispatches,’ M. de la
Jonquiere’s ‘^Expedition d’Egypte,’ the ‘ Paget Papers ‘ (in part), &c.
But even in those cases he has retained enough of the MS. to form
the continuous and ample description which Mr. Hardman desired to
give to the world.
The history of Malta in the eventful 3′ears 1798-1803 is of so
much interest and importance in the career of Napoleon, and in the
development of the British Empire, that it seems in every way desirable
to present a detailed picture of the incidents which
centred in the siege of Valetta, and in the diplomatic campaign of
the years 1802-3, which resulted in the greatest war that Europe
has ever known. Students of naval history will also be grateful to
Mr. Hardman for throwing fuller light on the careers of Nelson and
of his doughty lieutenants, Troubridge and Ball. The figures of Sir
Charles Stuart, General Sir Thomas Graham (Lord Lynedoch), and
others, also come out in sharper outline than before ; and the staunchness
of the French defenders of Valetta, especially of General Vaubois
and Rear-Admiral Villeneuve, has never been so clearly set forth.
Finally, the questions connected with the fall of the Order of St.

John, the designs of the Czar Paul I on Malta, the fluctuating policy of
Great Britain, and the censure which the Maltese have never ceased
to bestow on her for her method of acquisition of the island, lend to
the mass of documents here published an interest which ought to carrymany
readers to the end of what is a complex but interesting story.
At some points these documents do not give the wider light
which is necessary for the full illumination of the Maltese question.
The editor, therefore, seeks in this Introduction to present other
aspects of it which are needful for a complete understanding of
the issues that are involved. The fate of Malta depended, not on
the Maltese, not on the Knights of St. John, but on the mighty
forces that were set in motion by the will of Bonaparte, and were
thwarted ultimately by the mistress of the seas. It will be well,
then, to supplement the information given in the early chapters of
this work by the following sketch of the salient points in the Oriental
policy of Bonaparte.
II
In the course of the Italian campaign of 1797 the young conqueror
struck southwards into the Papal States and occupied Ancona.
There he gazed over the waters of the Adriatic, and pondered on the
possibilities which might accrue from the possession of that excellent
harbour. ‘ Ancona ‘ (so he wrote to the Directory at Paris, on
February 10, 1797) ‘is the only good port on the Adriatic on this
side of Venice. It is, in all points of view, very essential for our
dealings with Constantinople. Macedonia is only twenty-four hours
from here.’^ In these sentences we have a sign of those plans which
ripened into the Egyptian expedition of the following year.
The eastward trend of the young warrior^s thoughts had always
been strong* ever since the days when he conversed with the savant,
Volney, author of ‘ Les Euines ‘ ; and now the fortune of war brought
these glowing visions of Eastern conquest almost within the sphere
of actualit3^ For along with that same letter he was able to forward
to the Directory dispatches which had been taken from a Russian envoy
passing through Ancona, addressed to the Grand Master of the Order
of the Knights of St. John at Malta. He added that, if sent to the
French ambassador at Constantinople, they might prove to be of
great service.- The weakness of the Turkish Empire, and the desire
of the new Czar, Paul I, to cultivate close relations with the Knights
of St. John, were facts already known to the diplomatic world. And
the strange chance which called the attention of Bonaparte to the
importance of Malta, at the very time when he was meditating on

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