|Naval history of Great Britain - Vol. IV
||British and Turkish Fleets
anchor just below Point Pesquies, which is nearly half-way up the channel to the Marmora.
Every moment's delay augmenting the danger, Sir John, on the 11th, at 11 A.M., weighed with the squadron, and stood towards the mouth of the Dardanells, but at 1 P.M., the wind, which was from the south-east, not being fair for passing up the channel, the ships came to an anchor off Cape Janizary. Whether Vice-admiral Duckworth had received any other information than that afforded him by Sir Thomas Louis, or that a few days' reflection had enabled him to discover, in the latter's communication, some cause of alarm which he had at first over-looked, certain it is, that, on or about the 14th of February, Sir John began stuffing a cushion for his fall. In a letter to Lord Collingwood of that date, he says : " Having explained our intentions thus far, I think it a duty I owe to his majesty, and my own honour, to observe to your lordship, that our minister having left Constantinople 16 days since, and the Turks employed French engineers to erect batteries to flank every turn in our passage through the Dardanells, I conceive the service pointed out in my instructions as completely altered ; and, viewed in whatever light it may be, has become the most arduous and doubtful that ever has been undertaken, for, as I am instructed by your lordship to communicate and consult with his majesty's ambassador, and to be guided in my proceedings by such communication, it is on that principle that the resolution has been adopted, for the honour and character of the nation appear pledged, and in our hands they never can be tarnished. Of the hazard which attends such an enterprise I am fully aware. We are to enter a sea environed with enemies, without a possible resource but in our ourselves ; and when we are to return there cannot remain a doubt but that the passage will be rendered as formidable as the efforts of the Turkish empire, directed and assisted by their allies the French, can make it. I entreat your lordship, however, to believe, that, as I am aware of the difficulties we have to encounter, so I am resolved that nothing on my part (shall) be left undone that can ensure the means of surmounting them. " *
On the evening of the same day on which this preparative letter bears date, a melancholy accident befel the Ajax, one of the ships of Sir John Duckworth's squadron. At 9 P.M., just as Captain Blackwood had retired to rest, the officer of the watch ran into the cabin and acquainted him that there was a great alarm of fire in the after part of the ship. Signals of distress were immediately made and enforced by guns. The fire had broken out in the after cockpit, and in the course of 10 minutes, notwithstanding every attempt to stifle it, the smoke became so dense, that, although the moon shone bright, the officers and
* Parliamentary papers ordered March 23 1808.
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