|Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
||British and French Fleets - Channel
brave and enterprising officer ought reasonably to run in performing the king's service ; I confess that I should more readily have anticipated a charge of temerity than a censure of pusillanimity. If, with, I may fairly assert, as ill manned a ship as ever sailed from England, a station was maintained singly, with very little interval, for three months, without a pilot, within the enemy's islands, in the mouth of their rivers, in the presence of an extremely superior force continually in motion ; if his convoys, attended by this force, were as often chased, forced out of their course, and obliged to take shelter in ports they were not destined for ; if that very weak and inefficient ship's company was, in that time, by unremitting attention and exertion, brought to such a state of discipline as gave me sufficient confidence to wait for, and chase into her own ports, an enemy's ship, in all respects greatly superior to the brig I commanded ; if lying to a whole day in the enemy's road at the mouth of a river, bidding defiance to two brigs, each of nearly equal force with the Vincejo, a schooner, and 50 sail of armed gun-boats, brigs and luggers, all under way, and occasionally laying their heads off the land, but keeping close to their batteries ; if, after having got ashore in the mouth of a river, within grape-range of the batteries, I had, I may well be permitted to say, the audacity to unrig the Vincejo, get her guns out, and haul her high and dry into an enemy's port in a small island, between Belle-Isle and the Main, within four miles of the continent, to examine her keel and repair her damage, making preparations in the mean time to fight a land battle, in case of a very probable attack, protected only by the presence of a frigate for a day or two ; if taking and running on shore several of the enemy's vessels under the batteries, in sight of the above force ; if unreeving and reeving double all my running rigging that was susceptible of it, and almost entirely rigging my ship anew, as much to increase my mechanical purchases, to supply the deficiency of hands in working her, as promptly to make sailors of my landmen and boys, with whatever circumstances may be added to this catalogue, from my public account of the action, and the testimony of my immediate captors, be proofs of want of energy, bravery, intelligence, and seamanship, it must be acknowledged that I ought to take my place among arrant cowards and incorrigible lubbers. " *
Owing to the great preparations making in Flushing, Helvoet, and Ostende, these ports were narrowly watched by a British force placed under the orders of Commodore Sir William Sidney Smith, the 50-gun ship Antelope ; whose accustomed anchorage was near the north-east extremity of the Schonevelde channel, about six leagues west-north-west, or thereabouts, of Flushing, and rather more than the same distance, in nearly a south-south-west direction, from Ostende. The following was the plan adopted for a quick
* Naval Chronicle, vol. xxxv. p. 445.
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