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Quarterly Review” thus makes the “ amende” for what we think something too severe in its remarks upon the bearing of our officer.
“ With all Sir Sidney's faults, however, the memorable defence of Acre, with small means, against the overwhelming force of Bonaparte, entitles him to the gratitude of the British nation, and will, if our annals speak true, immortalise
“Of this we are assured, whether the annals of our country be true or false, (for not on their veracity but on their duration the matter depends,) his fame will be equally lasting with that of the proudest of our heroes. So intimately is Sir Sidney Smith's name associated with the glory of the country, that, arnong naval men, whenever the names of Howe, Duncan, or Nelson, have been mentioned with enthusiasm, the peroration has always been the praise of our officer. We may safely say that in the cockpit he is idolised, an especial favourite in the gunroom, and in the cabin deeply respected. The very chivalry of his character, which makes him, in the eyes of the young and ardent, the object of their deep admiration, will always be a matter of suspicion to the old, the wily, and the shrewd politician.
“For ourselves, highly as he stands in our estimation, we do not think that it ever was advisable to have entrusted him with the sole command of armaments so extensive, that a failure would turn the tide of success of a whole war against us, or place the nation in peril. His character was formed for the detached and the brilliant. It appears that success or failure was always, to him, an object secondary to that of exciting astonishment, or gaining glory.”
Sir Sidney was already most favourably known to the Turks; for, when he was with them before, he had brought out with him a clever architect, a Mr. Spurnham, and fifteen able shipwrights. These superintended and assisted at the building of several fine Turkish vessels; and in one year, that of 1798, they were thus enabled, with many smaller vessels, to construct a three-decker and another line-of-battle ship of eighty-four guns, which, in Sir Sidney Smith's official mission, by the assistance of the crew of the Tigre, they were enabled to launch and fully equip for service. These vessels afterwards formed a part of Sir Sidney's squadron.
During the whole time that the Turkish ships were serving with the English, there were placed on board the former, petty officers and some experienced seamen to instruct the Osmanlie crew how to work them; and thus assisted, they did no discredit to their generous allies in their various maritime inanæuvres.
Now, during the interval of Nelson's glorious victory of the Nile, and the arrival of Sir Sidney Smith on the Syrian coast, Bonaparte had almost entirely subjugated Egypt, and had already commenced a well-conceived plan of colonisation and organisation of his own important conquest. His promptitude and talent for the administration of the internal affairs of a kingdom, so extraordinary as that of Egypt, cannot be too highly eulogised. Already had he established so much order and regularity among these new subjects to the French, and established in these dominions so many military resources, that he conceived himself enabled to lead on his army, and to endeavour to subdue the contiguous provinces to the East. His troops were fully prepared for the expedition. By this demonstration he threatened the subjugation of the remaining Turkish provinces in that quarter, and was even enabled to give us some alarm, though completely unfounded, for our invaluable British establishments in India. Though much of the apprehensions excited by the brilliant success and rapid movements of the French leader were totally baseless, yet the policy would have been a very weak one, had the con
powers not sought means to check his progress, and to destroy the moral effect produced upon the inhabitants of the East by his victorious career.
Very great exertions were accordingly made on the part of the Sublime Porte, and their new allies, the English, to arrest the course and counteract the designs of the future Emperor of the French.
Deeply impressed with this community of interests, preparations were made throughout Syria for military resistance to the march of the French by the Ghezzar Pasha, who was to be still further supported by an army which was to form a junction with him, by traversing Asia Minor. It was supposed that this force would be sufficiently strong to warrant the experiment of an attack on the frontier of Egypt, without waiting for the advance of the French. This demonstration was to have been supported by a powerful diversion towards the mouths of the Nile, and made still more effective by the operations of a strong corps under Murad Bey.
Preparations for the defence of Acre—Mention of Captain
Wright-Anecdote of the King of Sweden's diamond ring—The French move towards Acre—Lose their battering-train.
This plan of operations was well arranged, but the Turks had not sufficiently advanced in military science to act upon extensive combinations. All these preparations, for a time, proved futile when opposed to the well-considered tactics of Bonaparte. That consummate general, having obtained intelligence that the arrival at the Otto
court of Commodore Sir William Sidney Smith would be the signal for the commencement of these too widely diffused operations, determined not to wait for the combined movement, but to act, at once, against a part of the force to be employed against him. He therefore determined to commence offensive operations against