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Inducements to naval enterprise.

The probability of encountering upon the ocean an enemy whose interest it is to avoid a meeting is strikingly illustrated by facts in the naval history of Europe. Not only single vessels, but whole fleets, have often managed to keep out of the way of a hostile squadron. Take the following remarkable instances:

In 1744, apprehending a French invasion, Sir John Norris was sent from England with a large squadron to intercept the French fleet, which consisted of twenty ships and a land force of twenty-two thousand men. The French succeeded in sailing the short distance to the British coast without meeting any opposition, and was only prevented from landing the troops by a storm, which drove them back upon the coast of France for shelter.

In 1755 an English fleet of several ships of the line and some frigates were sent to intercepts a French fleet of twenty-five ships of the line and many smaller vessels, which had sailed from Brest for America. The fleets passed each other in a thick fog. All but two of the French vessels reached Quebec, and nine of them soon afterwards returned to France.

In 1759 a British force, under Commander Boy, blockaded a French fleet in the port of Dunkirk. The French commander, seizing a favorable opportunity, not only escaped from his enemy, but attacked the coast of Scotland, and cruised about till the next year, without meeting a single British vessel, although sixty one British ships of the line were then stationed upon the coasts of England and France.

A still more remarkable case occurred in 1796, when the French attempted to throw the army of Hoche into Ireland. The most extraordinary efforts were made by the British naval authorities to intercept the French fleet in its passage. Three fleets were put on guard: one, the Channel fleet, under Lord Bridport, consisting of thirty sail of the line, was stationed close on the British shores; a second, under Curtis, in the Downs; a third, under Colpays, watched the harbor of Brest. Yet the French fleet of forty-four vessels, carrying a land force of twenty- five thousand men, actually passed unobserved these three lines of coast guard, though it occupied eight days in making the passage and three more in landing the troops. And they not only passed, but returned, only one of their number being intercepted by the vast naval force of England!

In 1791 a French squadron again passed a British fleet with perfect impunity. The same thing occurred twice in 1798, when the immense British fleets failed to prevent the landing of Gen. Humbert's army, and later in the year, when a French squadron of nine vessels and three thousand men escaped Sir J. B. Warren's squadron and safely reached the coast of Ireland.

The escape of the Toulon fleet, in 1798, from that vigilant and energetic commander, Lord Nelson, was still more remarkable. There were in this fleet forty ships of war and an immense fleet of transports, making in all three hundred sail, and carrying forty thousand troops. Its destination was Malta, and it slipped out of port, followed by Nelson, who tried two courses for Alexandria, and missed the French in both. The sea was narrow; the vessels numerous; the fleets actually crossed each other on a certain night; yet Nelson could see nothing of them himself, and heard nothing of them from merchant vessels.

In 1805 another Toulon fleet escaped from Nelson. He sought for it in vain in the Mediterranean; then proceeded to the West Indies; then back to Europe, along the coast of Portugal, in the Bay of Biscay, and off the English Channel. But all in vain. When they did meet at last at Trafalgar it was because both fleets were willing to try the issue of a battle.

If great squadrons can thus elude the vigilance of an enemy, how much more easily single ships, built for speed, and designed to prey upon the commerce of its adversary. We have seen how for years a few Confederate vessels have foiled the whole naval power of the United States. --Whenever they have come in collision with a Yankee man-of-war they have whipped her, but the cases of collision have been only two in three years. Such facts should stimulate our people to put privateers afloat on every sea. There is no branch of warlike enterprise which offers such inducements.--The risks are small; the profits immense.--The ocean is a big pond, and full of big fish. The angling is almost as safe as on a river bank, and the returns vastly more remunerative. Let us hope that the Virginia Volunteer Navy will be soon afloat, and that every State of the Confederacy will follow her example.

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