That the Unicorn should have captured the Tribune must now appear far less extraordinary, than that the latter should have expended her powder and shot so uselessly, as, in a running fight of several hours and a close combat of more than half an hour, not to have shed one drop of blood on board the former. Commodore Moulston, notwithstanding, fought his ship most bravely, and manúuvred her to admiration. The Santa-Margarita, although nominally superior to the Unicorn, would have been a more suitable match for the Tribune, whose broadside weight of metal, be it observed, even without computing the pair of 36-pounder carronades in the bow-ports, is a trifle inferior to that of the Tamise.
Soon after the Unicorn's return into port, Captain Williams received the honour of knighthood ; and the frigates first lieutenant, Thomas Palmer, was promoted to the rank of commander. The Tribune, also, was added to the British navy as a 12-pounder 36, under the name by which she had been captured.
A contemporary says, that Captain Williams obtained his reward because he had captured a ship "of superior force." * This mistake, in all probability, arose from the writer's unacquaintance with the real force of the Unicorn. Nor is the force of the Tribune very explicitly stated in the official letter ; for, notwithstanding she is described as "mounting 44 guns, though pierced for 48," the details of her force make the guns but 42, the number (twenty-six 12s, eight 6s, and eight 32-pounder carronades) afterwards established upon the Tribune in the British service, and quite as many as the ship could mount with effect. Although, perhaps, rather too much stress has been laid upon the superiority of force against the Unicorn and Santa-Margarita, in having opposed to them two French 12-pounder frigates, besides an 18-gun corvette which abandoned her consorts before a shot was fired, the whole affair, in its successful result, reflects great credit upon the officers and crews of the British frigates.
On the 13th of June, at 1 a.m., Cape Clear bearing west by north distant 12 leagues, the British 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Dryad, Captain Lord Amelius Beauclerk, standing close hauled on the starboard tack, with the wind a fresh breeze from northwest by west, discovered a sail in the south-west by west, or right ahead, standing towards her ; but which, on nearing the Dryad, hauled her wind, and then tacked. This was the French frigate Proserpine, in search of her consorts, and who, now that
* Brenton, vol. 4., p. 398.
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