Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/24

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14
Ch. 1.
HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

to be mustered by any other but their own officers. It is my disposition to preserve harmony, and I hope this answer to your despatch will prove satisfactory."

Such an answer to such a demand was little suited to check the energy of a British officer in carrying out his positive orders. If Barron had wished to invite an attack, he could have done nothing more to the purpose than by receiving Berkeley's orders without a movement of self-defence.

Meanwhile, at a quarter-past four the officer of the deck sent down word that the British frigate had a signal flying. The lieutenant understood it for a signal of recall, as he had been half an hour away, and as soon as the letter could be written he hurried with it to his boat. No sooner had he left the cabin than Barron sent for Gordon and showed him the letters which had passed. Although the commodore hoped that the matter was disposed of, and assumed that Captain Humphreys would give some notice in case of further action, he could not but feel a show of energy to be proper, and he directed Gordon to order the gun-deck to be cleared. Instantly the officers began to prepare the ship for action.

Had the British admiral sent the "Bellona" or some other seventy-four on this ugly errand, Barron's error would have been less serious; for the captain of a seventy-four would have felt himself strong enough to allow delay. Sending the "Leopard" was arrogance of a kind that the British navy at that time frequently displayed. In 1804, when the Spanish