The text plate in Admiral Ekins's work, or that meant to represent "the situation of the two fleets about 1 p.m. when the enemy was completely beaten," * is so filled with blunders, as to require nearly as many distinct explanations as there are ships scattered upon it. Let it suffice to state, that all the ships in both fleets have their masts standing, except the Queen and two unnamed ships ; neither of which, however, is meant for the Jemmappes, a ship so named, appearing as fully masted and rigged as any ship upon the plate. "The French fleet," says the English writer, whom we have next to attend to, "was no longer manned and officered as in the splendid times of Louis XVI. The high-spirited men, who were the companions of De Grace (Grasse), Suffrien (Suffren), and D'Orvilliers, had fallen beneath the axe or the guillotine, or fled from their country to avoid it : most of the seamen had been marched to the Rhine and the Moselle, to fill the ranks of the army, and their places were supplied by wretched conscripts and fishermen. The captains of the ships of the line were men totally unqualified from their habits for such a station ; they had been, with few exceptions, masters of merchantmen, and knew nothing of the signal-book or the mode of conducting a ship of war." † --" The British fleet was remarkably well manned, but the officers were generally deficient from want of practice, the natural consequence of ten year's retirement : some of them had little idea of keeping a ship in her station, either in line-of-battle or order of sailing, during the night, and in blowing weather. Habit, however, soon conquered this difficulty ; so that, had the enemy been discovered at daylight in the morning, the commander-in-chief might have formed his line-of-battle with perfect facility from his three lines in the order of sailing. The exercise of great guns was not sufficiently attended to during the cruise." ‡
Now, it is singular that the French, amidst all their excuses, should never have attributed the unfavourable issue of the battle to the inexperience or the cowardice of the crews. "Les marins français, jaloux de la gloire des guerriers de terre, combattaient avec enthousiasme. La victoire ou la mort : telle était la devise inscrite en lettres d'or sur des pavilions bleus arborés à bord de leurs vaisseaux. Toutes leurs actions montraient qu'ils ne voulaient pas être parjures. Ils se battaient avec la plus rare bravoure, et l'intrépidité des nouvelles recrues rivalisait avec celles des vieux marins." § It must be admitted that the French crews, those in the captured ships especially, did behave in a very gallant manner, and certainly betrayed no want of skill in manoeuvring their ships. With respect to the sweeping charge against the French officers, and that charge in particular, which accuses those captains who had been. " masters of merchantmen,"
* Naval Battles, Part ii, plate v. (27.)
† Brenton, vol. i., p. 246,
‡ Ibid, p. 248,
§ Victoires et Conquêtes, tome iii., p. 19,
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