Page images
PDF
EPUB

instances are left us upon record of princes who have been exiled from their thrones and kingdoms, who have enjoyed either of them upon their restoration. The houses of Stuart, Bourbon and Braganza furnish the commentary. The expiring hopes of Caramalli, were brightened up by the ardent and romantic Eaton, as a sudden gust elicits a spark from the faint glimmering light in the socket. He cast a longing eye toward the dangerous throne of Tripoli, more than half a thousand miles distant, between which and himself stretched an immense desert, second only in barrenness and desolation to that of Zahara. But nothing could repress the ardour of Eaton. The idea of an American, taking from the land where Pharaoh once held the children of Israel in captivity, an exiled prince, and placing him upon the throne of a distant kingdom, had something in it so outrageously captivating, that the enthusiastic mind of the chivalrous Eaton was lost to every other consideration. The grateful Caramalli, if an Ishmaelite can be grateful, took leave of his Egyptian friends, and placed himself under the banner of Eaton. He entered into a convention with the General, by which he promised immense favours to the Americans, and to make the engagements reciprocal, the General promised to restore him to his throne. This diplomatic arrangement was doubtless mutually satisfactory to the parties, although the American and Tripolitan governments had no hand in this negotiation. Caramalli, his General, and a great assemblage of incongruous materials, called an army, moved across the deserts; and endured every thing which they might have anticipated from the nature of the country. After passing about six hundred miles, they reached the city of Derne, which they triumphantly entered, and at least found some repose and a supply for their immediate wants. The reigning Bashaw, in the mean time, had augmented his garrisons to three thousand Turkish troops, and an army of more than twenty thousand Arabs were encamped in the neighbourhood of the strong city of Tripoli. However contemptuously he might smile at the force which surrounded his approaching brother, by land, and however little he cared for the loss of the little city of Derne, a “fearful looking for of judgment” harrowed his guilty soul, when he beheld the whole of Com. Preble’s ssuadron, upon the first week of August, approaching the harbour of Tripoli. He had seen the gallant Capt. Decatur, in his bay, capture one of his corsairs.-He had seen the same warrior, with the same corsair, destroy his heaviest ship of war, under the very guns of his batteries and castle, surrounded also by his marine force. The name of DECATUR sounded in his ear, like the knell of his parting glory; and when he saw the broad pendant of PREBLE, waving upon that wonder-working ship the Constitution, and surrounded by Brigs, Bombards and Gun-boats, he almost despaired. He had the crew of the Philadelphia, and many other Americans, in wretched bondage. Determining to extort an enormous ransom for the ment and commander, he sought only to show the world, by his future conduct, that he deserved them. There being but one frigate in the squadron, and that eommanded by Commodore Preble, there was yet no national ship in the Mediterranean, of a rate that corresponded with Capt. Decatur’s grade. But Hittle did he care in what sort of vessel he served his country, so be it he could efficiently aid in compelling the imperious Jussuff to bow to American prowess; and, after being humiliated, to release from bondage the noble and gallant Bainbridge— his gallant officers and seamen—and all the Americans holden in Mahometan slavery. Commodore Preble had made the best possible preparations he could, with his limited means, to efsect his ultimate object. The two preceding squadrons sent from America to the Mediterranean, under Commodores Dale and Morris, had gone but little beyond mere blockading ships—for this was all they could do. The American government, in the season of 1804, used every exertion to prepare a respectable augmentation to Commodore Preble’s squadron, and in the mean time, he was preparing to make “demonstrations” upon Tripoli rather more impressive than those made by ten times his force upon fort Mc’Henry, fort Bowyer, and fort St. Phillip, by immense British squadrons, in the war of 1812, in America. After having been baffled for a long time by adverse winds, he reached the harbour of Tripoli, in the last week of July. ' The Bashaw affected to dis

g

[ocr errors]

prisoners, from the American government, to enable him to support the vain and gorgeous pageantry of royalty, he demanded the sum of six hundred thousand dollars for their emancipation, and an annual tribute, as the price of peace. This, Mr. Lear indignantly rejected. He left it with such negotiators as Preble, Decatur, &c. to make the interchange of powers, and to agree upon the preliminaries of a treaty. After having stated that the whole of Com. Preble's squadron lay before Tripoli, the reader may have been led to suppose that it was a very formidable force. But to prepare the mind to follow him and his comrades into the harbour, and to pursue him to the very mouths of the Bashaw's cannon upon his batteries, in his castle, and on board his corsairs, gun-boats, and other marine force, mounting little less than three hundred cannon—Let it be remembered that his whole squadron, including the Neapolitan bombards and gun-boats, mounted less guns than one cempletely armed Seventy-Four, and one Frigate. His squadron consisted of one frigate, three brigs, (one of which had been captured from the enemy,) three schooners, two bombards, and six gun-boats. His men amounted to a very little over one thousand, a considerable number of whom were Neapolitans, upon whom he could place but little reliance in a close engagement with Turks. But he felt like a warrior—and knew that Americans were such.

“—From hearts so firm,
Whom dangers fortify, and toils inspire,
What has a leader not to hope *

CHAPTER IX.

Lieutenant Decatur promoted to the rank of CAPTAIN–Preparations for a general attack upon Tripoli–Capt. Decatur takes command of a division of Gun-boats—Disparity of force between his and the enemy's—He grapples and captures a Tripolitan boat—Is bearing for the squadron with his prize—Hears of the treacherous murder of his brother, Lieut. James Decatur—Returns to the engagement, and followed by Midshipman Macdonough and nine seamen, boards the enemy's boat—Slays the Turk who slew his brother, and bears his second prize to the squadron—Other achievements of the Squadron, Bombards, and Gun-boats—Effects of the attack upon the Bashaw and Tripolitans.

CAPT. Decatur, at this time, (August 1804,) was placed in the first grade of officers in the American Navy; and, to remind him of the gallant achievement for which he was there placed, bis commission bore date the memorable 16th day of February, 1804. He also received a vote of thanks, expressed in the most applauding terms, and also an elegant sword, for the destruction of the Philadelphia frigate. These high honours were amongst the first of this nature bestowed upon the officers of the Navy. They were more gratifying to such a mind as Decatur’s, than it would have been to have captured a fleet of merchantmen, and to have shared largely in the prizes. Far from being elated with these unequivocal tokens of the approbation of his govern

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »