AN ILL-TIMED DISAGREEMENT.
It was the last of May, New Style, as has been already said, when the Centurion arrived off Cape Espiritu Santo, and consequently the next day began the month in which the galleons were to be expected. The Commodore therefore made all necessary preparations for receiving them. All this time, too, he was very solicitous to keep at such a distance from the cape as not to be discovered; but it has been since learned that notwithstanding his care, he was seen from the land, and advice of him was sent to Manila, where it was at first disbelieved; but on reiterated intelligence (for it seems he was seen more than once) the merchants were alarmed, and the Governor was applied to, who undertook (the commerce supplying the necessary sums) to fit out a force consisting of two ships of 32 guns, one of 20 guns, and two sloops of 10 guns each, to attack the Centurion on her station. And some of these vessels did actually weigh with this view, but the principal ship not being ready, and the monsoon being against them, the commerce and the Government disagreed, and the enterprise was laid aside. This frequent discovery of the Centurion from the shore was somewhat extraordinary, for the pitch of the cape is not high, and she usually kept from ten to fifteen leagues distant, though once, indeed, by an indraught of the tide, as was supposed, they found themselves in the morning within seven leagues of the land.
As the month of June advanced, the expectancy and impatience of the Commodore’s people each day increased, and I think no better idea can be given of their great eagerness on this occasion than by copying a few paragraphs from the journal of an officer who was then on board, as it will, I presume, be a more natural picture of the full attachment of their thoughts to the business of their cruise than can be given by any other means. The paragraphs I have selected, as they occur in order of time are as follows:
May 31. Exercising our men at their quarters, in great expectation of meeting with the galleons very soon, this being the 11th of June, their style.
June 3. Keeping in our stations and looking out for the galleons.
June 5. Begin now to be in great expectations, this being the middle of June, their style.
June 11. Begin to grow impatient at not seeing the galleons.
June 13. The wind having blown fresh easterly for the forty-eight hours past, gives us great expectations of seeing the galleons soon.
June 15. Cruising on and off and looking out strictly.
June 19. This being the last day of June, New Style, the galleons, if they arrive at all, must appear soon.
From these samples it is sufficiently evident how completely the treasure of the galleons had engrossed their imagination, and how anxiously they passed the latter part of their cruise, when the certainty of the arrival of these vessels was dwindled down to probability only, and that probability became each hour more and more doubtful.