Already, in the negotiations with England during the summer of 1806, the emperor had shown his sense of the extreme importance of gaining possession of that island, which indeed caused the breakdown of the peace proposals then being considered; and now he ordered French squadrons into the Mediterranean in order to secure Corfu and Sicily.
Before the Japanese war Russia maintained four separate squadrons: the Baltic, the Black Sea, the Pacific and the Caspian.
The question of the suppression of the African slave trade, with which was connected the right of search, was settled by an agreement that each nation should keep in service off the coast of Africa a squadron carrying not fewer than eighty guns, and that the two squadrons should act in concert when necessary.
Though Howe was now nearly seventy, and had been trained in the old school, he displayed an originality not usual with veterans, and not excelled by any of his successors in the war, not even by Nelson, since they had his example to follow and were served by more highly trained squadrons than his.
But the,gallant old marshal still had some fresh squadrons in hand, and he promptly launched them to stem the French advance.