|Naval history of Great Britain
||British and Danish Fleets
Although it is true, that the fleet in Copenhagen road had little else to do than to look on, the squadron under Commodore Keats in the Great Belt had an arduous duty to perform ; and that it was well performed may be inferred from the fact, that the island of Zealand is 230 miles in circuit, the channel between it and Holstein, where the main Danish army was encamped, extremely narrow, and its navigation, especially to line-of-battle ships, some of which touched the ground several times, extremely difficult ; and yet, during the five or six weeks that the squadron lay in the Belt, no reinforcement was enabled to get across. None, at least, of any consequence ; but some of the Danish papers stated, that three regiments, consisting of the 1st and 3d Jutland infantry, and of Horzen's dragoons, had landed in Zealand during the siege.
With respect to the merits of the expedition to Copenhagen, morally and politically considered, the British public was for a long time divided in opinion. At length, as affairs in the northern part of the continent began to develop themselves, the necessity of the measure became generally admitted, and both houses of parliament voted their approbation of the conduct of ministers on the occasion.*
It is not a little singular, too, that the very man, whose designs it was the object of that measure to defeat, has since declared, that the expedition showed great energy on the part of the British government. Napoléon has not, because perhaps the question was not put to him, stated, in a direct manner, that he intended to make use of the Danish fleet ; but he is reported to have said: " The Danes being able to join me with 16 sail of the line was of little consequence, &c."† as if he really had contemplated some assistance of the kind. In fact, Buonaparte's confidential agent of that time, the celebrated Fouché, has since acknowledged, that one of the secret articles of the treaty of Tilsit gave him the use of the Danish fleet. ‡ Not more, however, than three or four of the ships could have been of use to the French emperor, during the little that remained of the season, as effective sail of the line, although the whole fleet might as transports. It is true that (and this was a circumstance which doubtless did not escape the proverbial acuteness of Napoléon) all the ships would have passed for what they nominally were, and would have required a corresponding force to be sent against them ; nor must it be forgotten, that the Danish seamen, whom, the French emperor blames the British for having left behind, § were brave, skilful, and, it is believed, tolerably numerous.
* House of Lords, March 3, Contents 125, Non-contents 57.
House of Commons, March 21, Ayes 216, Noes 61.
† See O'Meara's Napoleon in Exile, vol. i., p. 251.
‡ See Memoirs of Fouché, vol. i., p. 311.
§ See O'Meara's in Napoleon in Exile, vol. ii., p. 20.
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