|Naval history of Great Britain
||British and Turkish Fleets
Thomas Duckworth ; but the House of Commons refused to grant the motion, on the principle that the inquiry fell more properly under the cognizance of a court-martial. In four days afterwards the House was called upon to pass a vote of censure upon the planners of the expedition, the members of the late administration. This motion also was lost ; although Mr. Canning, then foreign secretary, declared, " it was obvious that the expedition might have done more than it did, " and Mr, Windham, late secretary at war, insisted, that " the failure of the enterprise could not be attributed to any misconduct on the part of the late government."
This was a broad hint ; but Sir John Thomas Duckworth had already shown (see p. 304), that a side wind could make no impression upon him : he, therefore, did not demand an inquiry into his conduct, nor did any one else. The fact is, the public was so astounded at the idea of marble shot of 800 pounds weight, so convinced of the almost insurmountable difficulties of passing the Dardanells, and so satisfied with the admiral for having destroyed the Turkish " fleet, " as most of the papers described the 64 and the three or four frigates, * that Sir John rather gained than lost credit for the discomfiture he had experienced.
It certainly was, to say the least of it, very injudicious to subject the acts of the admiral to the consent of the ambassador. The cabinet should have decided upon the measure, and the admiral alone have been charged with its execution. Although a tissue of contingencies and nicely-drawn distinctions may be unravelled in an instant by the professed diplomatist, a string of ifs and buts cannot fail to puzzle the understanding, and to mislead the judgment, of the unsophisticated sailor. He never succeeds so well, admitting his heart to be in the right place, as when he can see his way all clear before him to the very muzzles of the enemy's cannon.
The attack by the British on the capital of Turkey was immediately followed by the departure of an expedition against Alexandria in Egypt. On the 6th of March the British 74-gun ship Tigre, Captain Benjamin Hallowell, accompanied by the 38-gun frigate Apollo, Captain Edward Fellowes, 16-gun brig-sloop Wizard, Captain Edmund Palmer, and 33 sail of transports, having on board about 5,000 troops under Major-general Fraser, sailed from Messina in Sicily. On the 7th, in the night, during thick and blowing weather, the Apollo and 19 sail of transports parted company ; and on the 15th the Tigre, with the remaining 14, reached the Arab's tower. On the 16th the Tigre alone stood in towards Alexandria, to ascertain from Major Missit, the British resident, and Mr. Briggs, the vice-consul, who were expected to be on board the Wizard, which had been
* In Ralfe's " Naval Chronology," vol. ii., p. 29, we are favoured with a view of the, " Destruction of the Turkish fleet."
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