|Naval history of Great Britain - Vol. IV
||Sir John Duckworth at the Dardanells
properly styles himself, fires his first epistolary broadside at the Turkish fleet. He informs the Sublime Porte that, " having it in his power to destroy the capital and all the Turkish vessels, the plan of operations which his duty prescribes to him is, in consequence, very clearly marked out. " Was ever any thing so happily expressed ? The vice-admiral then demands, as the only alternative, to be put in possession of the Turkish ships and of stores sufficient for their equipment, and gives the Turkish government half an hour after the translation of his note to the reis effendi, to determine upon the proposal.
As a proof of the conciliatory spirit of the Turks, and of how much was to be expected from them by negotiation, they refused to permit the flag of truce to land. On the same evening Mr. Arbuthnot addressed a note to the reis effendi, and declared, that " the answer to the admiral's note must be delivered in half an hour. " Whether or not the officer who carried this note was permitted to land is uncertain. Midnight of the 21st produced another threatening note from the admiral, beginning thus: " As it has been discovered by our glasses, that the time granted the Sublime Porte to take its decision is employed in warping the ships of war into places more susceptible of defence, and in constructing batteries along the coast, it is the duty of the vice-admiral to lose no time. " *
Daybreak on the 22d arrived, and with it appeared at the admiral's mast-head the gladdening signal of " Prepare to weigh. " The breeze, which continued to blow from the south-east, freshened in the forenoon ; but the preparative flag still stuck fast to No. 66. Towards 4 P.M. the wind began to slacken, and at 5 P.M. subsided to nearly a calm. The ships remained at their anchors ; and the opportunity of showing that the threats, of which the admiral and the ambassador had been so lavish, were not empty boastings, was lost. The effect of mortified pride was very serious upon the ambassador ; for he was taken sick that very afternoon, and became so very ill on the day following, that the admiral, whose frame was formed of tougher materials, had the whole burden of diplomacy upon himself.
Sir John's first letter in the character of ambassador bears date on the 23d, and is written in a very lofty and choleric tone. The vice-admiral begins by practising what, in moderate language, may be called a ruse. He says: " When the Active joins me, or even when my squadron shall be joined by all our naval force, even that shall not occasion any alteration in the terms I have proposed. I must tell you frankly, I will not consent to lose any more time. I owe it to my sovereign and to my own honour not
* These extracts are from the copies of the correspondence in the London journals, as translated from the Moniteur. This, which may account for the occasional obscurity of the language, is the only way in which they have been made public.
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