|Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
||British and French Fleets - Mediterranean
the British commanding officer, released themselves from their fetters. This operation they performed with surprising quickness ; and, now that the galley's lateen sails began to supersede the use of the oars, the poor fellows were jumping about the deck in a delirium of joy; heaping blessings upon those who had restored them to liberty, and evincing so different a feeling towards their former masters in the galley, that the latter for their personal safety, were transferred to the boats towing astern.
The half-frantic wretches little dreamt of the fate for which Lord Keith had reserved them. To that we shall come presently. We must first express our regret that Captain Beaver, who, throughout this dashing enterprise, appears to have conducted himself in the most gallant manner, was not allowed to write the official letter; as, doubtless, he would have named the officers who served under him. Not one officer, besides Captain Beaver, is mentioned in Lord Keith's letter; and it has been with no inconsiderable difficulty that we have been enabled to give the names of two of the number.
Shortly after daylight on the 21st the galley was brought to an anchor under the stern of the Minotaur, and a more beautiful vessel of the kind had never been seen. Her extreme length was 159 feet, and her breadth 23 feet six inches. In her hold were 30 large brass swivels, intended to have been mounted upon her forecastle and poop. Not being a vessel adapted for the British navy, the Prima was sold to the Sardinians, for, we believe, the comparatively small sum of 15,000 dollars.
The garrison of Genoa, as was well known to the British admiral cruising off the port, was in a state bordering on famine. Had there been a doubt on the subject, the lank and miserable appearance of the galley's crew must have instantly removed it. Perhaps it is conformable to the laws of war, however repugnant to those of humanity, to press an evil of this sort upon an enemy. At all events Lord Keith, with that object in view, restored to General Masséna the few French or Ligurian soldiers and seamen which, out of the small number taken, had survived the sudden change from starvation to plenty. His lordship did more: he actually sent back the galley-slaves, or 250 of them at least, about 50, fortunately for them, having been blown off the coast in the Expedition 44. Lord Keith must have been certain that the poor slaves would, at the least, have been rechained to their oars. What some would consider a more merciful fate awaited them. It having been made known to General Masséna that, by their aid principally, the galley was moved from her strong position inside of the mole, he ordered the victims of Lord Keith's breach of faith (for, surely, there was an implied, it not an expressed promise not to betray human beings so peculiarly circumstanced), to be taken to the great square of the town and shot!
Starved at length into compliance, General Masséna, on the
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