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entirely eclipsed, and never recovers its true splendour. The naval reader will comprehend the extent of this remark, by comparing the actions of the Carysfort and Castor, and the Phoenix and Didon, with those of the Nymphe and Cleopatra, the Crescent and the Union. While we gladly pay the well-earned encomium to the conduct of Captain (now Rear-admiral) Baker, let us not be unjust to that of Lord William Fitz-Roy, who, as Captain of the iEolus, of thirty-two guns, has been accused of declining an action with the Didon. It is sometimes the duty of an officer not to fight; and the sacrifice of reputation, though painful, is indispensable. As the question is highly important to the service, and mixed up with the naval events of 1805, we may be excused for dwelling on the subject. Lord William had been, on the morning of the 29th of July, charged with despatches by Admiral Cornwallis for Sir Robert Calder, and before he parted company received another order, of which the following is a copy:—
Vilk de Paris, off Ushant, July 29, 1805.
In addition to the orders given yon this morning, I now send you (having this moment received it by the Nile) Vice-admiral Sir Robert Calder's rendezvous, No. 52. (Cape Finisterre S. E. twenty-eight leagues.) on which he intends to cruise for a few days, and afterward to leave the Dragon there for a week.
Your Lordship will therefore proceed, taking care of the enclosed despatch for the Vice-admiral; but on your not falling in with him, or getting any information of him or intelligence of
VOL. III. 2 C
the enemy, you are, at the expiration of seven days, to rejoin me, after looking out for him.
I have the honour to be, my Lord,
Your most obedient bumble servant,
W. CORNWALLIS. To the Right Hon. Lord William Fitz-Roy, Captain of H. M.S. the vEolus.
Let us next see what steps were taken by Lord William in execution of these orders, for which purpose we turn to his log-book; where every transaction, in which his ship was concerned, is minutely related; and above all, that transaction which it is asserted should have covered him with disgrace, so clearly exposed and so openly stated, as to leave us nothing to desire. His Lordship explicitly declares, that the strange ship was a frigate; and he inserts in the public record of his ship every step which was taken while she was present.
On his way to join the Vice-admiral, he fell in with the Rochefort squadron, with whose movements it became a serious part of his duty to make himself acquainted; seeing them burn a merchantvessel in the morning of the 0th, he watched them narrowly during the whole of that day, and having lost sight of them in the evening, Lord William proceeded in search of the Vice-admiral.
On the 7 th, at noon, the /Eolus boarded an American from Bourdeaux to Charlestown, which had been boarded the day before by an English ship of the line, off Cape Prior, eight others in "company. On the same day, at four o'clock, stood for a suspicious ship, in the S. S. E. which at sir bore up and made all sail—the Yeoius did the same—at halfpast seven, the stranger, still running away, shortened sail and hauled to the wind; the ship a frigate with yellow sides and royal yards; rigged aloft. This then was the Didon, from which, by the testimony of the French Captain, Lord William Fitz-Roy had run away! The very reverse is the fact. The French Captain thought proper to run, and on the 10th fell in with the Phoenix. That Lord William Fitz-Roy did not pursue her, was an exemplary act of obedience to his orders. A night's chase would have led him entirely off the station on which he was so ^urgently directed by his Admiral to seek for Sir Robert Calder, and on which he had, within twenty-four hours, seen an enemy's squadron, and gained intelligence of a British squadron being very near him. This was confirmed on the following day by a Prussian brig, which also informed him that the Rochefort squadron had sailed. On the 10th, he spoke the Dragon, of seventy-four guns, and from Captain Griffiths obtained information of the position of Sir Robert Calder; that he, Captain Griffiths, had been reconnoitring the enemy, and had found in the ports of Ferrol and Corunna, thirty-two sail of the line, besides frigates. On the following morning, at daylight, he fell in with Sir Robert Calder, delivered his despatches, and gave him all the important intelligence of which,, by his Lordship's log, he appears to have been in possession. The first lesson to be inculcated in a military profession is comprised in two syllables—
"Obey." Mr. James admits that the Didon might, from the nature of her captain's orders, have avoided an action; yet, without knowing the orders of Lord William Fitz-Roy, denies him the same privilege. Vol. iii. p. 444, he says, " But as it is not customary for a British cruiser, even if the bearer of despatches, to be shackled with such orders, a serious charge attaches to the iEolus."
This is an assertion which cannot be supported for a moment, nor could any proposition be more fatal to the navy and the country, should it ever become the orthodox rule of service. What certainty can the admiralty or an admiral have, of their orders being speedily and faithfully conveyed, if the officers intrusted with the sacred charge are to follow their own views of personal honour or advantage 1 . . .
Upon this view of the question, we think, the character of Lord William Fitz-Roy remains as pure and unblemished as that of any of his most distinguished brother officers. Far from any wish to conceal the transaction, he gives it the clearest insertion in his log; which, when presented to Sir Robert Calder, that gallant Admiral made the following remarkable observation: "I am extremely sorry, my Lord, that the orders under which you were acting would not admit of your following the enemy, as you would otherwise have done."
In the month of June, Captain F. L. Maitland, in La Loire frigate, sent his boats under the command of Lieutenant J. L. Yeo of that ship into the bay of Camarinas, near Cape Finisterre, where they attacked and carried two Spanish privateers, although moored under a battery of ten guns. Lieutenant Yeo ordered Mr. Clinch to board the smallest vessel, while himself with the two cutters took the largest, mounting three eighteen pounders, four four pounders, and fifty men. It being perfectly calm, Mr. Yeo was unable to bring off both vessels, he therefore burnt the smaller one and came out with the larger, having only three of his men slightly wounded; many of the Spaniards were killed or drowned. The English had but thirty-five opposed to eighty Spaniards, who also fought under the protection of their fort. Having destroyed three small merchant-vessels lying in the port, Captain Maitland directed his course to the town and fort of Muros, and having prepared Mr. Yeo, with fifty officers and men, including the Lieutenants Mallocks and Douglas of the Royal Marines, he ran his ship in and came to an anchor. A small fort opened its fire upon him, but Lieutenant Yeo, with his party, instantly landed and spiked the guns, the Spaniards flying before him. A quarter of a mile farther on, another fort still stronger gave great annoyance to the ship. The Lieutenant with his party pushed forward, and the Spaniards not having secured the gate, the English entered, and the Governor fell dead under the sabreof Lieutenant Yeo. TheSpanish officersshared the same fate at the hands of the British, and the men fled, leaving them in possession of the fort, on which they displayed the union. It was the 4th