Page images
PDF
EPUB

that purpose Mr. Robert Adair was sent by the 1808, british government to Constantinople. The Seahorse herself carried up the ambassador; and her officers peace saw their old opponent, the Alis-Fezan, lying dis-, mantled in the harbour. After some delay, occa- Eng. sioned by one or two of those revolutions so frequent." in Turkey, peace between England and the Sublime Turkey Porte was signed on the 5th of January, 1809. We left the french frigate Sémillante just as her." voyage to Mexico had been rendered impracticable, arrives in consequence of the attack made upon her at St. i. Jacinta by the british frigate Phaëton and brig-sloop France Harrier.” This was the more unfortunate for the Sémillante, as the south-west monsoon then blew with extreme violence. Greatly, however, to his credit, captain Motard persevered against contrary winds and currents, and amidst a very dangerous navigation, until he cleared the sea of Celebes b the narrow and difficult strait of Aloo. The Sémillante then steered direct for the Isle of France, and anchored, on or about the 5th November, in the harbour of Port-Louis. In the midst of her refit, the Sémillante was joined by the french frigate-privateer Bellone, of 34 guns, captain Péroud, whose capture a few months afterwards has already been related;+ and, towards the close of the year, the o: with these two ships within it, became blockaded, by the british 18- Pitt pounder teak-built 36-gun frigate Pitt, (afterwards #. Salsette,) captain Walter Bathurst, and 12-pounder chore 32-gun frigate Terpsichore, captain William Jones.” . Lye. On the 5th of January, 1806, having got on Portshore in watering at Flat island and thrown several" of her guns overboard, and being in a very leaky state, the Terpsichore parted company for Ceylon; remiand the Pitt, whose effective crew were reduced by: sickness to less than one half, cruised alone off the Isle : of France. Here captain Bathurst took several prizes; pany. * See vol. iv. p. 221. f Ibid. p. 355.

1808.

Sémillante and Bellone put to sea and return,

and on the 26th, in chase of a vessel to-windward,
the Pitt got so near to the fort upon Pointe Canon-
nière, situated about eight miles to the northward of
Port-Louis, as to have one seaman killed, and her
starboard night-head shot away. Nor was the
frigate, although she lay for nearly 20 minutes
within gun-shot of the fort, able, owing to the
direction of the wind, to bring a single gun to bear
in return.
No sooner did M. Motard, as he tells us, ascer-
tain that the Pitt was cruising alone off the port; no
sooner did the french captain, as he does not tell us,
learn from a countryman of his, who had recently
been liberated from her, that the Pitt, having .90
men sick, (chiefly with scurvy and contracted limbs,)
and a great many absent in prizes, had scarcely a
sloop of war's complement on board, than he deter-
mined to go out and engage her. For this purpose
captain Motard hastened the repairs of his ship, and
in three days the Sémillante was ready for sea. But,
it appears, so disproportionate in point of force were
the two frigates still considered; not by the french
captain, who, if we are to believe him, was all fire
to engage, but by general Decaen, the governor of
the island, that captain Péroud was persuaded to
add the force of the Bellone to that of the Sémillante.
On the 27th, accordingly, at about 9 P.M., the two
ships put to sea from Port-Louis, and in about one
hour afterwards were descried and chased by the
Pitt, then 12 or 13 leagues south-east by east of the
port. At 11 h. 30 m. the Pitt made out the strangers
to be two frigates, and soon afterwards they were no
longer to be seen. “Elle (the Sémillante) sortit a
la recherche de Pennemi, qui évita constamment le
combat; la nuit ayant favorisé sa fuite, il disparut.”
The english of this is, that captains Motard and Pé-
roud, glad at an escape to sea, left the british frigate
to herself, and proceeded to execute the service,

* Dict. Historique, tome iv. p. 6.

[graphic]

upon which alone they had been ordered out by 808. governor Decaen. The Sémillante and Bellone T steered straight for Isle Bourbon; and, arriving off the bay of St.-Paul, took charge of several prizes and merchant vessels, which had been detained at that anchorage by the knowledge that one or two british frigates were cruising off the Isle of France. With these vessels under convoy, the french frigate and privateer made sail on their return ; and, as the Pitt, having scarcely men enough left to work the ship, had been obliged to return to Pointe de Galle, captain Motard reentered without difficulty the harbour of Port-Louis. On the 7th of April, having completed the repairs sail which she had only partially undergone at her de-..." parture upon the successful mission we have just cruise. related, the Sémillante, accompanied by the Bellone and Henriette privateers, again succeeded in putting to sea. The Bellone and Henriette, after cruising for a month or two, fell into the hands of their enemies; but the Sémillante, in spite of her captain's fighting propensity, managed on every occasion, as the sequel will show, to avoid a similar fate. During her cruise in the Indian Ocean, the Sémillante captured eight merchant vessels, valued at upwards of 32 millions of francs. Early in the month of September, with her eight prizes in company, the Sémillante arrived in the neighbourhood of the Isle of France; but, gaining intelligence that a strong british force was cruising off Port-Louis, captain Motard bent his course towards Isle Bourbon. On the 9th Sémilthe Sémillante, with her valuable convoy, anchored ..." in the road of St.-Paul's bay; where already were chors lying, bound also to the Isle of France, four other; vessels, prizes to some of the french cruisers. bay. The british force, at this time stationed off the Isle of France, consisted of the 74-gun ship Sceptre, captain Joseph Bingham, 24-pounder 40-gun frigate (late teak-built indiaman) Cornwallis, captain Charles James Johnston, and 12-pounder 36-gun frigate Dédaigneuse, captain William Beauchamp Proctor. On

1808, the 16th, in the afternoon, the Cornwallis arrived off TT the entrance of St.-Paul's bay, and discovered the corn. Sémillante and her charge at anchor. On the 17th,

Wallis at 9 A. M., the Cornwallis bore up, and ran as far

disco

... into the bay as the wind would allow. At 10 A.M.,
... when three or four miles only from the Sémillante,
“the british frigate became nearly becalmed; and,
in short, captain Johnston was totally unable to
effect anything against the french frigate at her well-
protected anchorage.
On the 26th the Sceptre appeared off the entrance
of the bay. Well knowing that captain Bingham
would use his utmost endeavours to capture or de-
stroy the french frigate, and the valuable property
of which she had despoiled british commerce, cap-
tain Motard removed his prizes close to the shore,
and moored the Sémillante, with springs on her ca-
bles, outside, to protect them, “pour les protéger.”
But captain Motard has entirely forgotten to state, that
the Sémillante herself was protected by upwards of
Sémil- 100 pieces of cannon, including 37 long 24-pounders,
.* and seven or eight heavy mortars; and which guns

: were mounted upon seven distinct batteries, all by ... their positions admirably calculated to prevent an * enemy from approaching the road. Under these circumstances, no attempt was or could be made, by the british force at present on the station, to molest the Sémillante and her prizes at their fortified anchorage. sceptre On the 11th of November, however, while on his ... way, with the Sceptre and Cornwallis, from off Mont wallis Brabant, the south-west extremity of the Isle of ... France, to Isle St.-Mary on the coast of Madagasstra-, car, to get a supply of water, captain Bingham called ... off St.-Paul's, with the intention of making a demonstration, rather, . we believe, than a serious attack, upon the shipping in the road. At about 2 h. 30 m. P. M., having cleared for action and got springs on their cables, the Sceptre and Cornwallis ran into the bay, and at 4 P.M. opened a fire upon the french frigate and vessels within her. This was immediately

returned by the Sémillante and shore batteries, both

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

with shot and shells. The heavy cannonade soon 1898, hushed the little breeze there had been, and the two british ships could with difficulty manoeuvre. At 4h. 30 m., by signal from the Sceptre, the Cornwallis repeated several signals made by the latter as if to ships in the offing; captain Bingham expecting, probably, that the french captain would run his frigate and prizes on shore. Captain Motard, however, knew better the strength of his position, than to resort to so ruinous a measure; and at 5 h. 20 m. P. M. the Sceptre and Cornwallis ceased firing, and, with-S."

e - Madaout, we believe, any loss or damage, made sail for gascar.

Isle St.-Mary. . In a few days afterwards, finding a clear coast, Sémilcaptain Motard got under way with the Sémillante o: and his fleet of prizes, and stood across to the Isle ceeds of France. On the 21st, at sunset, the Sémillante. was discovered from the mast-head of the Dédai- Isle of gneuse, who immediately crowded all sail upon a “ wind in chase, with light airs. At about midnight the two frigates crossed each other on opposite tacks, and were not more than half a mile apart. As the Sémillante approached on the larboard tack, is met the Dédaigneuse fired two or three bow-chasers ato. her; and, on hearing the french frigate beat to quar-i." ters, the british frigate discharged her broadside as . the guns would bear. Putting her helm a-lee, the " Dédaigneuse then prepared to tack after her oppoment; but, owing to the lightness of the wind, the ship would not come round. A quarter boat was lowered down to tow; and at length, by wearing, the Dédaigneuse got on the same tack as the enemy. In the mean time the Sémillante had greatly increased her distance. All sail was again set in chase ; but, having lost a great deal of copper from her bottom, being very foul, and at best a bad working ship, the Dédaigneuse kept gradually dropping astern. Finding this to be the case, captain Proctor, at about 5 AnP. M., shortened sail and hauled to the wind on the .

starboard tack. Very soon afterwards the Sémil-o.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »