Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/35

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1807
25
THE "CHESAPEAKE" AND "LEOPARD."

Meanwhile, Captain Humphreys reported to Captain Douglas on the "Bellona," and Captain Douglas reported the whole affair to Admiral Berkeley at Halifax, who received at the same time accounts from American sources. The admiral immediately wrote to approve the manner in which his orders had been carried out. "As far as I am enabled to judge," he said[1] in a letter to Captain Humphreys, dated July 4, "you have conducted yourself most properly." The inevitable touch of unconscious comedy was not wanting in the British admiral, whose character recalled Smollett's novels and memories of Commodore Hawser Trunnion. "I hope you mind the public accounts which have been published of this affair as little as I do," he continued; "we must make allowances for the heated state of the populace in a country where law and every tie, both civil and religious, is treated so lightly." No broader humor could be found in "Peregrine Pickle" than in one breath to approve an act so lawless that no man of commonsense even in England ventured to defend it as lawful, and in the next to read the Americans a moral lecture on their want of law and religion; yet grotesque as this old-fashioned naval morality might be, no man in England noticed either its humor or its absurdity.

As though to show that he meant no humor by it, the admiral, August 25, called a court-martial, which the next day sentenced Jenkin Ratford to be hanged,

  1. Marshall's Naval Biography, iv. 895.