24 CHARLES STEWART PARXELL
could be seen hanging over the side, while every means that ingenuity could suggest were devised for embarrassing, bewildering, and out-manoeuvring the enemy, should he succeed in coming to close quarters. Then the carronades were charged to the muzzle with musket-balls and depressed to the nearest range, in order to sweep the water around the ship. ' As the frigate was light and unusually high out of the water, it w;as. the opinion of the best judges that, defended as she would certainly have been under the officers who were in her, she could not have been carried without a loss of several hundred men to the enemy, if she could have been carried at all/ l
This was clearly the opinion of the English, admiral too. For, after reconnoitring several times with great care, he came to the conclusion that no attempt could safely be made to attack the f Constellation'; the English officers confessing that the vigilance of the ship was too much for them, and insisting that Captain Stewart must be a Scotchman, he was so actively awake.2 So Stewart remained abreast of Craney Island until the fortifications were completed, when he returned to Norfolk Harbour.
Soon afterwards he was given the command of the ' Constitution/ and in the summer of 1813 sailed in her for the West Indies. In this cruise he captured the British war schooner ' Picton,' a letter of marque under her convoy, and several merchant vessels. Returning to America for repairs, he fell in with two British ships, which gave him chase, but, skilfully evading them, he ran his craft under the guns of Fort Marblehead, and a few days afterwards reached Boston Harbour in perfect safety. There, for a moment, he
1 Fenimore Cooper, History of tlie American Navy. ~ Ibid.