|Naval history of Great Britain
||Sir Robert Calder's Action
Moniteur published two letters, as from Admiral Villeneuve, giving an account of the action; one dated July 27, in the paper of August 11 ; the other dated July 29, in the paper of August 11. Both letters, of course, make a good story ; and both commend (the last, in set terms) the noble behaviour of Admiral Gravina and the Spanish ships. And yet a letter from Napoléon to his minister of marine, dated on the 13th of August, contains these sentences: "De quoi done se plaint Villeneuve de la part des Espagnols ? Ils se sont battus comme des lions. " * Hence, the commendations in the published letters were not the sent, sentiments of the nominal writer ; nor, by a fair inference, could any of the mistatements in those letters be laid to the charge of M. Villeneuve. But the Moniteur of August 13 contained, with a translation of Sir Robert Calder's letter, very copious remarks upon every part of it. And Napoléon, in his letter to M. Decrès of August 11, after observing upon the statements in the British official account, proceeds thus: "L'arrivée de Villeneuve à 1a Corogne fera tomber ces gasconnades, et, aux yeux de l'Europe, nous donnera l'air de la victoire : cela est beaucoup. Faites sur-le-champ une relation, et envoyez-la à M. Maret : voici comme je la conçois. " † All that follows M. le Comte Dumas has left blank. Enough, however, remains to show who penned the remarks in the Moniteur ; and yet these very remarks, without, apparently, their real origin being suspected, were translated into most of the London journals.
On the 31st of July, after having been escorted by the fleet beyond the probable reach of the Rochefort squadron, the two prizes anchored in Plymouth Sound. The San-Rafaël was built at Havana in the year 1771, measured 2130 tons English, and mounted on her first and second decks the same nominal force as the French 80, No. 3, in the small table at p. 54 of the first volume, upon her quarterdeck and forecastle 10 long 8-pounders (two of them brass) and 10 carronades, 36-pounders, and upon her poop six 24-pounder carronades, total 88 guns ; with a complement, on the morning of the action, of 800 men and boys, and 104 soldier-passengers. The Firme was built at Cadiz in the year 1754, and measured 1805 tons. Neither the San-Rafaël nor the Firme, as a proof how little their destruction would have been felt, was ever employed in the British service except as a prison-ship.
When, at 8 P.M. on the 26th, he had seen his prizes to the prescribed latitude, Sir Robert Calder, with his 14 sail of the line, wore and stood back to the rendezvous off Cape Finisterre, in the expectation of there being joined by the fleet under Lord Nelson. On the 27th, at a little before noon, the wind changed to the north-west, and the vice-admiral shortly afterwards reached the rendezvous. Not finding Lord Nelson there, Sir Robert, with the wind at west, steered for Ferrol ; and, arriving off that
* Precis des Evènemens, tome xii., p. 251.
† Ibid., p 248
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