The West Indian campaign had even graver effects on the course of the war. In January, 1794, Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Grey's 7,000 troops, after a six weeks' voyage, reached Barbados. Despite their small numbers they at once attacked the French islands, and as a result of brilliant co-operation between Grey and Vice-Admiral Sir John Jervis overcame all resistance in Martinique, St. Lucia and Guadeloupe by the end of May. But the real campaign had scarcely begun. Almost at once the victors were simultaneously assailed by reinforcements from France and a negro and mulatto rising. For by denouncing slavery—the gap in Britain's moral front—the French had secured a formidable ally. With the help of the revolted slaves the force from Rochefort, which had evaded the loose British blockade, was able to reconquer Guadeloupe before the end of the year. Yet it was yellow fever more than any other cause which robbed Britain of her West Indian conquests. Within a few months the dreaded “black vomit” had destroyed 12,000 of her finest soldiers and reduced the survivors to trembling skeletons.
That winter the fever of mass murder, atheism and reckless spending in Paris seemed to be approaching its climax. At Christmas the obscene and diseased journalist, Hebert, presided over the Feast of Reason in Notre Dame, where a whore was elevated at the high altar amid Rabelaisian rites. In the prisons thousands of innocent men and women, flung there by some Party sadist's whim, fed out of troughs on offal or were driven in droves chained like cattle through the streets. (1) To decent English minds it seemed unthinkable that men could survive who broke every law of God and man, who robbed and murdered and blasphemed, who denied justice, pity and humanity itself in their ruthless search for power. “From the nature of the mind of man and the necessary progress of human affairs,” Pitt declared in Parliament, “it is impossible that such a system can be of long duration.” “Surely,” cried the high-minded Windham, “Heaven will presently put a whip into every honest hand to lash these villains naked through the world.