|Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
||Commodore Dance and Admiral Linois
indeed, have long since been exploded. Ten 18-pounder carronades on the quarterdeck made up the 36 guns. Others of the ships, and those among the largest, mounted long 12 and 6 pounders. No one of the crews, we believe, exceeded 140 men, and that number included Chinese, Lascars, &c. Moreover, in fitting the ships, so much more attention had been paid to stowage than to the means of attack and defence, that one and sometimes two butts of water were lashed between the guns, and the decks in general greatly lumbered. Of the force of the French ships it will be sufficient to say that the Marengo, Belle-Poule, and Sémillante were armed as Nos. 4, 5, and 7 in the small table at p. 54 of the first volume. The force of the Berceau has already appeared, * and that of the brig is too insignificant to notice.
The promptitude and firmness of Commodore Dance and his brave associates undoubtedly saved from capture a rich and valuable fleet. The slightest indecision in him or them would have encouraged the French admiral to persevere in his attack ; and, had he done so, no efforts, however gallant and judicious, could have prevented a part of the fleet at least from falling into his hands. It would be uncharitable to call in question the courage of Rear-admiral Linois: one must therefore suppose that it was, as he has stated, the warlike appearance of those 16 ships, the regularity of their manoeuvres, and the boldness of their advance, that led the French admiral to doubt whether a part of them were not national cruisers ; more especially, as it was an uncommon occurrence, during a war, for an East-India fleet to be without the protection of one or more powerful king's ships.
The commanders, officers, and crews of the respective ships, that had thus distinguished themselves, were liberally rewarded by the East-India Company, as well as by the committee for managing the Patriotic Fund. † Commodore Dance, also, as he well merited, received from his late majesty the honour of knighthood. Among the sums of money voted to Sir Nathaniel were 5000l. by the Bombay Insurance Society ; and the answer of thanks returned by the commodore contains the following passage: " Placed, by the adventitious circumstances of
* See p. 54.
† This truly named " Patriotic Fund " originated at a meeting of the subscribers to Lloyds Coffee-house, held on the 20th July, 1803, Brook Watson, esq. The object is explained in the third resolution : " That to animate the efforts of our defenders by sea and land, it is expedient to raise by the patriotism of the community at large, a suitable fund for their comfort and relief - for the purpose of assuaging the anguish of their wounds, or palliating in some degree the more weighty misfortune of the loss of limbs - of alleviating the distresses of the widow and orphan - of smoothing the brow of sorrow for the fall of clearest relatives, the props of unhappy indigence or helpless age - and of granting pecuniary rewards, or honourable badges of distinction, for successful exertions of valour or merit."
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