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look for him forty leagues west of Cape Finisterre.
Nothing could have saved Villeneuve from the disgrace of this check but the sailing of Gantheaume; but Gantheaume, in spite of all his exertions, could not get out of Brest, so closely was he watched by Lord Gardner, with the Channel fleet, in March, and Admiral Cornwallis for the rest of the summer. To every seaman it must appear obvious that there was but one plan, by which Napoleon could ever have expected to succeed in the invasion of England; this was at any risk to have assembled all his ships off Brest, where, if he had ever possessed eighty sail of the line, they must have been a match for our Channel fleet. Letter after letter he writes from the Chateau de Stapinis to Decrees, to urge the departure of Gantheaume—" Send a courier to Gantheaume; God grant he may not find him at Brest." This was on the 23d of April, and on the same day, in another letter, he says, "Recommend to Villeneuve to do all the harm he can (in the West Indies, we conclude), while waiting the arrival of Gantheaume." We cannot persuade ourselves, that Napoleon ever seriously meant to send Gantheaume in search of Villeneuve to the West Indies: it is very certain such a design was never carried into effect. He had ten thousand troops in the Windward Islands— "Let them take St. Vincent,Antigua, Grenada, and why not Barbadoes? I leave it with yourself to send orders to retake Tobago and Trinidad."—It was in this way he was "to keep the English in perpetual alarm, and suddenly strike them terrible - blows." The stale artifice of spreading false news from India was resorted to: "Let it be inserted in the gazettes that great news is arrived from India, —that the despatches have been sent off to the Emperor,—that the contents have not transpired, but that every thing goes on ill with the English." How degrading to the character of human nature, when the rulers of the world have recourse to falsehood and deceit, to support their plans of treachery, pillage, and murder! But Providence is just, the triumph of iniquity is transient, its punishment certain, signal, and tremendous in proportion to its magnitude; affording an awful warning to unjust princes, an encouraging example to the upright, and to a faithful and loyal people. The deep-laid schemes of Napoleon and his counsellors, wanting the sanction from on high, ended in the destruction of his fleets, his armies, and himself.
The combined fleet met with and defeated by Sir Robert Calder —Particulars of the action—His court-martial and reprimand —Observations—His official letters—Consequences of this affair—Action between Phoenix and Didon—Vindication of Lord William Fitz-Roy—His order from Admiral Cornwallis —Falls in with Rochefort squadron—With the Dragon— , With Sir R. Calder—Importance of his mission—Reflections —Capt. Maitland attacks Muros—Conduct of Lieutenant Yeo—Capture of La Libre—of Wolverine.
Not long was the Emperor allowed to indulge in his reveries of conquest, and hopes of plunder and revenge: Villeneuve and Missiessy came back to Europe as fast as their ships could bring them. Missiessy reached Rochefort in safety, but Villeneuve was not so fortunate. On the 19th of July, the Auckland packet brought Sir Robert Calder a letter from Mr. Gambier, the British consul at Lisbon, inclosing the copy of an order from Lord Nelson, dated the 15th of June, at sea, directed to the commanding officer of his Majesty's ships in the Tagus, and acquainting him that the combined squadron had passed Antigua on the 8th, standing to the northward, and recommending the Admiral, off Ferrol, to be on his guard.*
The British fleet at this time in pursuit of him, under the command of Vice-admiral Sir Robert Calder, consisted of fifteen sail of the line, two
* See Sir Robert Calder's Court-Martial, p. 36.
frigates, a cutter, and a lugger. The Vice-admiral fell in with them, on the morning of the 22d of July, in lat. 43° 30' N. and long. 11° 17' W. or about forty leagues from Ferrol. His first object being to bring the enemy to action, he formed his fleet into compact order, and on closing with them, made the signal to attack their centre. The enemy's fleet, it appears, were to windward: ours therefore stood upon the same tack, until, by going about, without signal, the Hon. Captain Gardner, in the Hero, who led the van, fetched close up under the lee of their fleet, so that by the time our headmost ships reached their centre, the enemy's ships were tacking in succession, which obliged theVice-admiral to perform the same evolution. By this means a general action was brought on, which lasted four hours; when the British Admiral found it necessary to bring to, to cover two ships which he had captured. The enemy had the advantage of wind and weather; a very thick fog concealed them a great part of the day, so that the British Admiral was unable to communicate with his ships by signal, and soon after the commencement of the action, the fog was so dense that he could scarcely discern the seconds ahead or astern of him. The ships captured were the San Rafael, eighty-four guns, and the Firme, seventy-four, both Spaniards. The loss sustained by the British fleet on this occasion was forty-one killed and one hundred and fifty-eight wounded; that of the enemy, as usual, was infinitely greater.
LONDON GAZETTE EXTRAORDINARY.
Admiralty Office, JulyS\, 1805.
Copy of a letter from the Honourable Admiral Cornwallis, Commander-in-chief of his Majesty's ships and vessels in the Channel, &c. to William Marsden, Esq. dated Ville de Paris, off Ushant, July 25, 1805, eight, p. M.
I have the pleasure to enclose, for the information of the lords commissioners of the admiralty, a letter from Viceadmiral Sir Robert Calder, giving an account of his success against the combined squadron of France and Spain.
I have the honour to be, &c.
\ • . Prince of Wales, July 23,1805.
• Yesterday at noon, lat. 43 deg. 30 miu. N.; long. 11 deg. 17 min. W., I was favoured with a view of the combined squadron of France and Spain, consisting of twenty sail of the line, fourteen French and six Spanish,* also three large ships, armed en flute, of about fifty guns each, with five frigates, and three brigs; the force under my direction, at this time, consisting of fifteen sail of the line, two frigates, a cutter, and lugger. I immediately stood towards the enemy with the squadron, making the needful signals for battle in the closest order; and, on closing with them, I made the signal for attacking their centre. "When I had reached their rear, I tacked the squadron in succession; this brought us close up under their lee, and when our headmost ships reached their centre, the enemy were tacking in succession; this obliged me to make again the same manoeuvre, by which I brought on an action, which lasted upwards of four hours, when I found it necessary to bring to the squadron to cover the two captured ships, whose names are in the
* In the -enemy's fleet there was no three-decked ship. VOL. III. 2 B