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the harbour, the arsenal and the batteries erected for their protection. On the way, they met some people who spoke to them with civility ; but before they had been half an hour on the hill, Sir John saw a boat full of soldiers rowing towards the spot where their boats lay. He suspected that they were discovered, and a man was instantly despatched to order the sailors to row round to a sandy bay behind the hill on which they stood, and to which they hastened. It was about three miles to this bay, which they reached before the boats, and tried in vain by a large bribe, to prevail on some fishermen to take them off. At length the boats arrived, the sailors pulling the oars with all their might.
All jumped in and got away in safety. The sailors were equally glad, who told them, that the soldiers, who came in the boat, had only ordered them to leave the shore; but before the boat's crew had collected, a second party of near forty soldiers suddenly appeared marching towards them. On which they
pushed off, and left a midshipman and two men, who were made prisoners.
The soldiers ran along on the shore in the direction they steered: but the sailors rowed faster than the soldiers could run ; yet these were within a quarter of an hour's walk from the sandy bay, when all embarked.
This project of the Admiral, on whom Sir John confided, might have had a very serious conclusion, if they had been captured. For as none of the officers wore uniforms, their dresses might have been construed to be disguises, and themselves to be spies.
The view from the hill had been too distant to be of much use, yet no better could be obtained. But the Admiral had got information that the Spaniards had become vigilant ; that troops marched daily into Ferrol; and they were mounting their different batteries with cannon. He himself had never seen the defences near, but the description he had got was, that the batteries which defended the entrance of the harbour, could either prevent any shipping from passing, or destroy them when they got in. That the bastions of the place were solidly constructed, between fifteen and twenty feet high, and mounted with heavy cannon; and Fort St. Felipe was a work of considerable strength. Also that the fortifications of the town, if tolerably garrisoned, were too strong to be assaulted, and could only be taken by a battering train and a regular siege.
This was the amount of the Admiral's information, and as nothing more precise could be procured, Sir John resolved to return to England ; but so violent a gale of wind sprung up, that the ship dragged its anchor, and was driven towards the rocks. To escape being wrecked, the cable was cut in the middle of the night, and the ship fortunately hove her head round the right way, and got to sea. It continued to blow tremendously for three days, yet the men-of-war all escaped ; but had there been a fleet of transports filled with troops in that bay, many must have been lost.
When Moore arrived at London, he made an exact report to Mr. Pitt, which, together with Admiral Cochrane’s despatches, put an end to the projected attack on Ferrol, and probably averted a great calamity.
This evinces what extraordinary circumspection is requisite in a minister. For that expedition had been most strenuously recommended by three admirals of distinguished merit in their profession. Yet, when Moore sifted the business, it was detected, that their opinions and counsel were neither founded on observation, nor on proofs; but merely on their own vague conjectures, and those of others.
When Mr. Pitt resumed the administration of the British empire his physical powers, but not his mental, were in the wane. He quickly commenced a negotiation with Austria and Russia, to form a coalition to put a stop to the usurpations of France, and to restore order to Europe. Prussia did not join in this design. While it was proceeding Bonaparte persevered in his threats to conquer England, and in his progress to subdue Italy. Being above disguising these determinations, he caused himself to be proclaimed King of Italy, was crowned at Milan, and treacherously seized on Liguria and Lucca, deriding good faith and the law of nations. With him power was right, and arms his great charter.