Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 11.djvu/172

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named El Gamo, of upwards of 600 tons, of thirty-two heavy guns and 319 men, with a loss of four killed and seventeen wounded. The Spaniards had lost fourteen killed and forty-one wounded. To convey the prize to Port Mahon was a work of serious difficulty, for the prisoners were more than eight times as numerous as the prize crew, and were only kept from rescuing them- selves by their own main-deck guns, loaded with canister, being pointed down the hatchway, while men with lighted matches stood ready beside them. It would almost seem that the extreme brilliance of this action prevented its being properly rewarded. The senior officer at Port Mahon did not forward Cochrane's official letter for more than a month, and the impression everywhere gained ground that the Gamo was taken by surprise. After a very unusual delay, Cochrane was advanced to post rank on 8 Aug. 1801; but his request for the promotion of Mr. Parker, the lieutenant of the Speedy, was met with the reply from Lord St. Vincent, then first lord of the admiralty, that 'the small number of men killed on board the Speedy did not warrant the application.' Cochrane had the imprudence to answer that there were more casualties on board the Speedy in this action than there were on board the Victory at St. Vincent, for which his lordship had been made an earl and his first captain a knight. He was afterwards surprised at his want of favour with the admiralty. But meantime the Speedy, having been ordered to convoy a dull sailing packet from Port Mahon to Gibraltar, fell in, on 3 July, among a squadron of three French line-of-battle ships, and, after a very remarkable display of ingenious seamanship, was compelled to haul down her flag to the Dessaix. When Cochrane went on board, the French captain declined his sword with the complimentary remark that 'he would not accept the sword of an officer who had, for so many hours, struggled against impossibility,' and requested him to continue to wear it, though a prisoner. During the thirteen months of his command the Speedy had 'taken or retaken upwards of fifty vessels, 122 guns, and 534 prisoners.' The three French ships proceeded to the Bay of Gibraltar, and anchored off Algeciras, where, on 6 July, they were unsuccessfully attacked by the squadron under Sir James Saumarez, afterwards Lord de Saumarez [q. v.], Cochrane being a witness of the engagement from the Dessaix. The next day he, as well as the officers of the Hannibal, which had been captured, was permitted to go to Gibraltar on parole; and after the more fortunate engagement in the Straits on the night of 12 July, was exchanged for the second captain of the San Antonio.

After the peace he was not immediately appointed to another ship; and towards the end of 1802 he entered himself as a student in the university of Edinburgh. He pursued his studies earnestly, living in secluded lodgings. In 1 803, when the war again broke out, he was ordered to go to Plymouth, and there found himself appointed to command the Arab, an old collier which had been bought into the service and was being fitted as a ship of war. When ready for sea she was sent to the Downs, and ordered to keep watch on the enemy in Boulogne. Cochrane soon found that for such a service the Arab was useless. He represented this to the admiral in command; his letter was forwarded to the admiralty, and he was ordered to cruise to the N.E. of the Orkneys to protect the fisheries. There appeared to be no fisheries to protect, and he believed that the service was invented as a mark of the board's displeasure. It lasted for fifteen months; nor was he permitted to return to England till Lord Melville had succeeded Lord St. Vincent at the admiralty, when he was appointed to the Pallas, a new 32-gun frigate, and, as some compensation for past sufferings, ordered to cruise for a month off the Azores. The cruise, which extended from February to April 1805, proved remarkably fortunate; and having made several rich prizes, and on the homeward voyage escaping from a squadron of French line-of-battle ships by a ruse as clever as it was daring, the Pallas sailed into Plymouth Sound with a large gold candlestick, about five feet high, on each masthead. These, which had been made in Mexico for presentation to some church in Spain, Cochrane was desirous of possessing, and had made an arrangement to that effect with his officers and ship's company. Unfortunately the custom-house authorities would not let them pass without the full duty, which was prohibitive; and, though of exquisite workmanship, they were broken up and passed as old gold.

Just at this time there was a vacancy in the representation of Honiton, and Cochrane offered himself as a candidate. He soon found that it was a mere question of bribery, but refused to sanction any on his account, and was consequently rejected (13 March 1805). On this he sent the bellman round the town to announce that his agent would pay ten guineas to every one who had voted for him. The ten guineas was accordingly paid, with an explanation that it was a reward for having withstood the influence of bribery.

In the end of May the Pallas was sent to