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Anecdotes retrospective, in the year 1799—Spanish fleet—Captain Gage, in Terpsichore—Moore, in Transfer—Spanish frigates land treasure, while our fleet blockades Cadiz—Combined fleets pass Gibraltar—take Maitland in a cutter—Noble conduct of that officer—Capture of the Santa Teresa—Good conduct of Captain James Saunders; of the Lieutenants of the Success, Petterel, and Phaeton—Sir J. Duckworth takes two Spanish frigates and convoy—Affairs of Elba—Blockade of Malta—Capture of the Genereux—Brilliant conduct of Captain Peard—Lord Keith succeeds Nelson in the command— The latter retires to England—Queen Charlotte burnt off Leghorn—Exertions and death of Captain Todd—Siege of Genoa—Captains Morris, Halsted, and Downman, distinguish themselves—Bonaparte resolves to save Genoa—Passes the Alps—Battle of Marengo—Captain Beaver takes a galley —Geuoa capitulates—Distress of the garrison—Affecting anecdote of British seamen—French garrison sent to Nice— Captain Austen, in the Petterel—Manley Dixon, in the Lion —Capture of Guillaume Tell—Severe action—Blackwood, in Penelope—Capture of La Diane—Rickets, in El Corso, attacks Cesenatico—Hillyar takes armed ships out of Barcelona —Malta surrenders—Lord Keith joins Sir R. Abercrombie— Preparations for the invasion of Egypt.
In the early part of the year 1799, the Spanish fleet shewed some sparks of naval enterprise; and
taking advantage of the bad weather, which had driven our fleet from the blockade of Cadiz, they put to sea, and ran up the Mediterranean. Caught in a gale of wind, they soon became sensible of their incompetency to contend against the elements alone; many of them were dismasted, or lost their topmasts. A seventy-four put into Oran-bay in the greatest confusion, her mainmast buried in her poop-deck, and unable to furl her foresail; she let go her anchor, and brought up as she was. The Terpsichore, of thirty-two guns, commanded by Captain Wm. Hall Gage, and the Speedy brig, of fourteen guns, were lying there, and, at daylight, the Spaniard cut his cable, and ran, pursued by the Brjtish vessels. It was the determination of Captain Gage to board her, one on each side; but, as the weather cleared up, they discovered the unwelcome presence of the Spanish fleet, which, though disabled, rendered the enterprise impracticable.
In the month of February, Captain Wm. Moore, in the Transfer, a small brig of fourteen guns, running with the mails from Lisbon to Gibraltar, had despatches for the British blockading squadron, off Cadiz; and reaching that rendezvous before daybreak, discovered a squadron which he concluded to be British. Approaching with a confidence, inspired by the stationary position of our fleet for two years before, he was far within gunshot, when he saw by the dawn of day, that he was in the midst of an enemy's fleet,—a Spanish squadron (with some valuable merchant-ships), which had slipped out during the absence of our own. To attempt his escape, by any sudden alteration of his course, he well knew would have ensured his capture; he therefore hoisted American colours, and steering for Cadiz, -was suffered to pass unmolested. Not satisfied with this success, the daring officer boarded the sternmost vessel of the convoy, which proved to be richly laden; and the Spanish commander, concluding from the audacity of the deed, that the British fleet was near, suffered the Transfer to take away her well-earned prize unmolested. From these instances we may infer, that the Spaniards have no great talent for maritime achievement, and that their marine will never again be formidable to England. We must, however, injustice to them, mention a fact, which, though not creditable to our vigilance, proves equal good fortune, if not talent, in two Spanish officers. While our fleet lay before Cadiz (the in-shore squadron almost within gunshot of the Light-house, the main body of the fleet about five miles off, at anchor), two frigates came upon them in the night, and were reported to the captain of the flag-ship, by the officer of the watch. They were supposed to be either friends or neutrals; and the Spanish captains were not sensible of their danger, until, standing nearer to Cadiz, they learned from the fishing-boats, that the British fleet was without them, and the advanced squadron within them. Not a moment was to be lost, and the time was well employed. They were loaded with treasure, which was instantly got. on deck, put into the fishing-boats, and landed safely at Cadiz without suspicion. Daylight discovered the fortunate Spaniards, after all their treasure was in safety: they were chased, and one taken, the other destroyed, in a bay not far from the scene of their achievement.
In July, 1799, the Spanish fleet, at Carthagena, was joined by the French, making the tremendous amount of forty-eight sail of the line. They appeared off Gibraltar, where Lord St. Vincent was then lying in the Argo, of forty-four guns (the only ship in the bay), ready to sail for England. His Lordship instantly despatched a cutter, under the , orders of Lieutenant Frederick Lewis Maitland, his flag-lieutenant (the same officer, who, at a subsequent period, commanded the Bellerophon, on a memorable occasion), to reconnoitre the enemy. The cutter had on board a sum of money, intended for Minorca, which it was not deemed advisable to remove, under the pressing urgency for her immediate departure. Anxious to gain the most accurate information, he approached so near the hostile fleet, that the enemy chased and captured the vessel. When the British sailors found there was no chance of escape, they made an attempt to plunder the treasure, which Maitland most honourably and successfully resisted, alleging, that as public property, it was the lawful prize of the captors. We hold this up as an example of national character, worthy of imitation, and wish we could