nobler game, would not permit any more of the vessels to be molested. On the 7th, at noon, the two squadrons that were so desirous to join, gained a mast-head sight of each other, and by sunset were united.
About three weeks after Rear-admiral Nelson had been detached by Earl St.-Vincent, a reinforcement from England, consisting of eight sail of the line, under Rear-admiral Sir Roger Curtis, in the Prince-of-Wales 98, joined the fleet off Cadiz ; and on the same evening (May 24) the in-shore squadron of nine sail of the line, commanded by that active officer, Captain Troubridge, having been relieved by an equal number of ships, sailed, in compliance with orders from home, to strengthen the force under Rear-admiral Nelson. The exchange between the two squadrons had been so admirably conducted, that the Spaniards, the next morning, were not aware that it had taken place ; nor, of course, that the British admiral off the port had either detached, or been joined by any ships.
Since his departure from Earl St.-Vincent's fleet, Captain Troubridge had been joined by the Audacious 74 and Leander 50 ; making the force under Rear-admiral Nelson, now consisting of the:
amount to thirteen 74-gun ships, and one 50, with, instead of four or five frigates, one brig-sloop only ; and yet the service intrusted to the rear-admiral, as we shall presently see, was one, the very success of which might depend on the facility of reconnoitring, and gaining intelligence of the enemy's movements.
Nelson's instructions from his commander-in-chief were dated on the 21st of May. In these he was ordered "to proceed in quest of the armament preparing by the enemy at Toulon and Genoa ; the object whereof appears to be either an attack upon Naples or Sicily, the conveyance of an army to some part of the coast of Spain for the purpose of marching towards Portugal, or to pass through the Straits, with a view of proceeding to Ireland." In some additional instructions of the same date, the
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