The gallantry and seamanship displayed by Captain Otway Bland, when in command of the Espoir, 14-gun brig, in his attack and subsequent capture of a Genoese pirate, well deserve a place in these pages.
On the 7th of August, 1798, the Espoir was sailing near Gibraltar in charge of part of a convoy, when a large vessel, which appeared to be a man-of-war, was seen steering apparently with the intention of cutting off some of the convoy. Captain Bland, notwithstanding the superiority of the force with which he had to contend, determined upon attacking the stranger, which proved to be the Liguria, mounted with 26 guns of various calibres.
On approaching within hail, an officer on board the Liguria ordered the commander of the Espoir to surrender, or he would sink his ship, enforcing the demand by one shot, and afterwards by a whole broadside. The fire was returned in a spirited manner by the Espoir, and was kept up on both sides by the great guns and musketry for upwards of three hours, when the captain of the Liguria hailed the Espoir, begging her captain not to fire any more, as he was a Genoese. Upon this, Captain Bland desired him to lower his sails, and come on board. As no attention was paid to this demand, and the Genoese appeared to be attempting some manoeuvre, the Espoir poured in another broadside, which the Liguria returned; but on the Espoir tacking to fire her opposite broadside, her opponent surrendered.
The crew of the Liguria consisted, of one hundred and twenty men of all nations, whilst that of the Espoir was but eighty men, of which the master was killed, and six men wounded.
Captain Bland died in 1810.
On the evening of the 14th of February, 1807, H.M. ship Ajax, 74 guns, commanded by Captain the Hon. Sir Henry Blackwood, lay at anchor off the mouth of the Dardanelles, in company with the squadron of Vice-Admiral Sir John Duckworth. The wind, which during the day had been boisterous, was partially lulled, and in the clear moonlight every object was visible with a distinctness almost equal to that of day.
The scene from the deck of the Ajax was one of surpassing beauty and interest. The bright moonbeams rested on the waters, and left a silvery track upon the waves. Ahead and astern, the lofty masts of the squadron tapered darkly towards the sky, whilst the outline of every rope and spar was sharply defined against the clear blue vault of heaven. Every man in the ship, from the commander to the youngest boy, could feel and understand this natural beauty; but there were many on board the squadron who had still higher enjoyment, as they gazed on those isles and shores which recalled the classic verse of Homer and of Virgil. For them every island, cape, river, and mountain was fraught with interest. There lay Tenedos, renowned of old; there the mountain isle of Imbros stood out in bold relief from the snow-clad