The Correspondence of William Augustus Miles on the French Revolution.

By William Augustus Miles.

Printed: 1890

Publisher: Longmans Green & Co. London

Dimensions 16 × 23 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 16 x 23 x 4

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Maroon cloth binding with gilt title on the spine.

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A very interesting read. Lack of the second volume does not denigrate the thrust of these letters.

Cloth. Condition: Very Good Indeed. None (illustrator). First edition, scarce. A first edition set of letters of correspondence that were written and exchanged with William August Miles, who was a British agent during the French Revolution. This is volume one of a two volume set containing letters of political correspondence between William Augustus Miles and other figures in and around the French Revolution. These letters were written between 1789 to 1817, while Miles was a British agent. Letters include correspondence to the Duke of Leeds, Lord Buckingham, M. Talleyrand, and William Pitt. Miles was William Pitt the younger’s secret agent from 1784 to 1794. William Augustus Miles (c.1753-1817) was an English political writer. Edited by Miles’ son, Rev. Charles Popham Miles, with letters selected by William August Miles’ wife. Some of the letters were written in French initially, which Miles translated as well.

William Augustus Miles (c. 1753–1817) was an English political writer. He was also a British agent in the years around the French Revolution. Born 1 July 1753 or 1754, he was the son of Jefferson Miles, who was employed as proof-master general (died 1763), a supervisory artillery position. As a boy, he ran away from a school near Portsmouth, to support John Wilkes.

After travelling in America, Miles returned to England and was appointed in 1770 to the Ordnance Office. He lost the post shortly, by quarrelling with his superiors. Through David Garrick he obtained a civil appointment in the Royal Navy. He served under George Rodney in the West Indies during the American Revolutionary War, was in Newfoundland in 1779, and two years later was a French prisoner of war in St. Lucia. Soon after his release he left the service.

In August 1782 Miles was in Dublin, and was corresponding with Lord Temple, just appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; despite the backing of Lord Shelburne, he failed to obtain political employment. In early 1783 he went on the continent of Europe, to Seraing, near Liège, in order to economise and educate his daughter. He became intimate with two successive prince-bishops of Liège. Miles made himself useful to William Pitt the younger, the Prime Minister. He was Pitt’s first secret agent, from 1784. In the wartime conditions of 1794, Pitt broke off the relationship. Miles’s position in the Low Countries placed him as a crossroads for intelligence, and also enabled contacts with French officials.

The events leading to the creation of the Republic of Liège saw Miles move to Brussels: he made a vain attempt in 1789 to persuade Pitt to interfere in those affairs. On 5 March 1790 he had an interview with Pitt, and in July was sent to Paris with a view to inducing the National Constituent Assembly to annul the third Pacte de Famille with Spain. In April 1791 he left Paris for London. Pitt offered him a pension for his past services, and he acted as intermediary between the agents of the French republic in London and the ministry, seeking to prevent war. Unable to obtain further employment from Pitt, he retired to Froyle in Hampshire.

In Paris Miles came to know Mirabeau, Henri Lebrun, Lafayette (whom he had met in America), and other leading politicians. To Lebrun and Jean Henri Latude he gave financial support. Among his numerous friends were Horne Tooke, Sir Alexander Ball, Sir John Warren, Andrew Saunders, and Lord Rodney; and he corresponded at different times with Oliver Goldsmith, John Somers Cocks, and Henry James Pye. The Letters of “Neptune” gave William Makepeace Thackeray some hints for his Four Georges.

John Wilkes FRS (17 October 1725 – 26 December 1797) was an English radical journalist and politician, as well as a magistrate, essayist and soldier. He was first elected a Member of Parliament in 1757. In the Middlesex election dispute, he fought for the right of his voters—rather than the House of Commons—to determine their representatives. In 1768, angry protests of his supporters were suppressed in the Massacre of St George’s Fields. In 1771, he was instrumental in obliging the government to concede the right of printers to publish verbatim accounts of parliamentary debates. In 1776, he introduced the first bill for parliamentary reform in the British Parliament.

During the American War of Independence, he was a supporter of the American rebels, adding further to his popularity with American Whigs. In 1780, however, he commanded militia forces which helped put down the Gordon Riots, damaging his popularity with many radicals. This marked a turning point, leading him to embrace increasingly conservative policies which caused dissatisfaction among the radical low-to-middle income landowners. This was instrumental in the loss of his Middlesex parliamentary seat in the 1790 general election. At the age of 65, Wilkes retired from politics and took no part in the social reforms following the French Revolution, such as Catholic Emancipation in the 1790s. During his life, he earned a reputation as a libertine.

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