An incident of the last war.
--At the entertainment given at Philadelphia
to the Western Boards
of Trade, Commodore Stuart
(Old Ironsides) was induced to narrate the following reminiscence:
Said the Commodore
Since you have forced me to relinquish my natural modesty, I will do this much — I will narrate the anecdote correctly, as just told you by my friend.
The two ships were the Cyane
sent to take the Constitution
They were both commanded by captains who had won distinction at Trafalgar
and the Nile
, Captains Falcon
After the Constitution
had taken both ships, and their captains were on board the Constitution
, a coolness existed between them, in consequence of the capture.
Each accused the other of bearing out of the action and leaving the brunt to his associate.
This question they agreed to leave to me, and I settled it in a moment. "It was you, Captain Douglass
," said I, to the senior officer
, "who first bore out of action." They were satisfied, and shook hands together.
While they were further discussing the matter, and deploring their defeat, said I, "gentlemen, did you expect to take the Constitution
with those two ships?
Why, you went on board of them this morning, and said they were in as good order as before the action.
Now, if you like, I will send you back to them, give you your men and officers, and take you both over again.
Take the Constitution
with two ships?
Why you couldn't do it with a dozen.
This is the Constitution of the United States
You may sink it, and sink us with it, but you couldn't take
it with all your King
's fleet." So afraid were the British Admiralty
of the Constitution
, that they dare not trust a single frigate alone, but compelled the Levant
to wait until the Cyane
was ready to sail in company.