|Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
affair is still involved in doubt, it is but justice to state, that Napoléon has strenuously denied having offered any violence to the person of this gallant British officer. * Among the papers discovered at
Lieutenant Captain Wright's death, and restored by the present French government to Sir Sidney Smith, under whose auspices, it will be recollected, Captain Wright, when a lieutenant of the Tigre, had greatly distinguished himself, was a narrative of the circumstances of the Vincejo's capture, drawn up for the needless purpose of justifying her officers and crew from the charge of pusillanimity advanced by the hireling press of France. To show how differently the actual antagonists of the British brig thought of her behaviour in the action, we have only subjoin the speech of Lieutenant Tourneur upon receiving Lieutenant Wright's sword : " Monsieur, vous avez noblement défendu l'honneur de votre nation, et la réputation de votre marine. Nous aimons et estimons les braves, et l'on vous traitera, vous et votre équipage, avec tous les égards possibles."
Having, like a ship-sloop, a detached quarterdeck and forecastle with barricades and portholes, and being on account of the smallness of her ports and the spaces between them, pierced for 10 guns of a side on the main deck, the Vincejo appeared to be a much more formidable vessel than she really was. In point of size, being only 277 tons, she was not much larger than a French gun-brig, and, in point of armament, not nearly so effective. All this was made known to the commanding officer of the French gun-boats, by two deserters from the brig a few days before her capture. The surprise is, that a vessel, so poorly armed and manned as the Vincejo, should have been sent alone to cruise in waters where she was so likely to be assailed by a tenfold superior force. Captain Wright, it appears, made frequent complaints of this nature to Admiral Lord Keith ; but the latter took an effectual way of silencing them: he menaced the enterprising young officer with his displeasure. [shown as * - should probably be †]
The following portion of Captain Wright's narrative will show, as well the effect produced upon his mind by the statements circulated in France to his disadvantage, as the species of daring service in which he had employed the Vincejo for some weeks previous to her capture ; a capture of the importance of which the French government were so fully sensible, that they promoted Lieutenant Tourneur on the spot to a capitaine de frégate.
" Had it ever occurred to me," says Captain Wright, " that blame could in any manner attach to my conduct, under the closest scrutiny of a court composed of my brother officers, famed for the severity of their criticism on all that concerns the honour of the country and the reputation of the navy, and who are at least as good judges as the enemy, of the risks that a
* See O'Meara's Napoléon in Exile, vol. i., pp. 340, 449 ; and vol. ii. pp, 24, 182, 215.
† Naval Chronicle, Vol. xxxv. p 450.
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