the Diomede had escaped. The backwardness to close and support her consort, so evident on the part of the latter, has been attributed to private pique and jealousy, and not to any want of courage, on the part of her commander. This feeling, in the breast of an officer towards his superior, is at all times reprehensible, and, in the present instance, appears to have been the principal reason that the Cybèle, at least, was not made a prize of by the British.
Captain Smith was afterwards brought to a court-martial for his conduct in this action, and broke ; but, owing to an informality in the proceedings, or some other cause, was merely placed on the list of retired post-captains. Thus stands the statement in the first edition of this work. We now subjoin another account from the work of a contemporary. "The report made by Captain Osborne of the Centurion, of the action with the French squadron, in the preceding year, not being satisfactory to Captain Smith, he applied to that officer for an explanation. Captain Osborne, after more distinctly expressing his approbation of Captain Smith's conduct than he had done in his public letter, thought fit to demand a court-martial for inquiring into the conduct of the two ships, with a view of justifying his letter on service. The court sentenced Captain Smith to be dismissed the service ; but, on his return to England in 1798, he appealed against their verdict; and his memorial being referred to the crown lawyers and the admiralty counsel, they reported their opinion that the sentence was unwarrantable, and not to be supported. Captain Smith was consequently restored to his rank in the navy, but never afterwards called into service." *
A writer in the " Victoires et Conquêtes," not satisfied with the share of credit gained on his side by this action, on the other, declares that the Centurion and Diomede were "two ships of the line," "deux vaisseaux de ligne," † leaving the French reader to fancy them first, second, or third rates, as the temperature of his patriotism, and the caliber of his credulity, may incline him. This caterer of "victories," regardless, also, of the account in his own newspaper, the Moniteur, substitutes the Courier for the Jean-Bart, and then assures his countrymen that two French frigates and a brig compelled two English "line-of-battle ships" to raise the blockade of a French colonial port ; thereby enabling the French privateers to enter with their prizes, and to sail forth again when ready, in order to commit fresh depredations upon the eastern commerce. The departure of the British commodore to get his ship refitted, renders the latter part of this statement probable enough ; but the French are too politic to charge to the neglect or omission of an enemy that which, by a little skilful penmanship, they can make appear to have arisen from the bravery or good conduct of themselves.
* Marshall, vol. iii., p. 75.
† Victoires et Conquêtes, tome v., p. 276.
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