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1808. lante anchored in Port-Louis; and such vessels of Go her convoy, as did not enter with her, succeeded in

gaining Rivière Noire. Dedai The Dédaigneuse cruised off the Isle of France gneuse until her water and provisions were nearly expended;

which was only a short time longer. The frigate bay.

then steered for St. Mary's, Madagascar, and afterwards proceeded to Bombay. In the mean time some insinuations, thrown out by a portion of his officers, had induced captain Proctor to apply for a

court-martial on his conduct when in the presence of martial the Sémillante. The court sat on board the Culloon capt: den, in Bombay harbour, on the 27th of March, 1807;

and, after the fullest investigation, declared that the conduct of captain Proctor appeared to have been marked by the greatest activity, zeal, and anxiety for the service; that the manoeuvres of the Dédaigneuse, while in the presence of the enemy, were directed

with judgment and skill, very honourable to captain Proctor; and that the escape of the enemy's

frigate resulted entirely from the bad sailing of the most Dédaigneuse. An honourable acquittal of course

followed; and the president of the court returned ableac-captain Proctor his sword with a very handsome quittal. eulogium on his character.

In the month of June captain Motard quitted

Port-Louis upon a cruise in the bay of Bengal; but, again. having in her way thither lost one of her topmasts

and sprung her bowsprit, the Sémillante was obliged to bear away for the isles of Nicobar. From the forests of the principal of these islands, captain Motard procured a bowsprit and topmasts for his frigate ; and, as soon as they were fitted upon her, the Sémillante sailed for her destination. While cruising in the bay of Bengal, captain Motard was so fortunate as to capture three richly-laden country

ships on their way to China. With these valuable with prizes in her company, the Sémillante sailed on her valua- return to the Isle of France, and in the month of prizes.

November arrived with them at Port-Louis.


Sémillante sails



way from

and mis

her for

an in

In the month of February, 1808, the Sémillante 1808. quitted port for another cruise in the bay of Bengal

. March. On the 15th of March, in the morning, captain Motard Sails captured a british merchant vessel, and despatched upon her to the Isle of France. On the same day, at 3 h. other 30 m. P. M., Great Bassas, in the island of Ceylon, crúise. bearing north by west distant 64 miles, the british Falls in frigate Terpsichore, captain William Augustus Mon- with

Terpsitagu, having just tacked to the east-south-east, with chore, the wind fresh from the north-east, on her Pointe de Galle to Madras, discovered from her takes mast-bead a strange ship, under a press of sail, about two points on the weather beam. At 5 h. 50 m. diaman P. M. the latter, which was no other than the Sémillante herself, hoisted english colours, and fired a shot at the Terpsichore; from whom she then bore north-east by north, and whose disguised appearance indicated that she was an indiaman. At 6 h. 45 m. P. M. the Sémillante fired a second shot; whereupon the Terpsichore hauled up her mainsail, and hove to on the larboard tack.

Having, in the course of the next ten minutes, Terpsiascertained that the Sémillante was an enemy, and comgot all clear for action, the Terpsichore, who from mences age and weakness had been obliged to leave at tion. Madras the whole of her upperdeck guns but two, and consequently mounted, along with her 26 twelves, only two 6-pounders, opened a fire upon the Sémillante, now with french colours hoisted, and distant about 100 yards upon the Terpsichore's larboard and weather beam. The fire was immediately returned, and a smart engagement ensued. At 7 h. Is set 10 m. P. M., when the two frigates were close on board by each other, the Sémillante threw into the Terpsichore some combustible materials, which, falling bles. on the main deck, communicated to the salt-boxes, and occasioned a dreadful explosion, that entirely unmanned the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth guns, and set the ship on fire in several places.

Having, by an expedient which, fair as it may be


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the action.

1808. in a ship of inferior force, can never be pronounced

honourable when resorted to by an enemy who possesses ever so slight a superiority, thrown his antagonist into temporary confusion, captain Motard did not, as might have been expected, attempt to carry the Terpsichore by boarding; but, as if alarmed by the

discovery that she was a british frigate, he hastened to Terpsi- get away from her. At 7 h. 20 m. P. M., having by great renews exertions on the part of her officers and crew, extin

guished the flames, the Terpsichore made sail as well as she could, and recommenced the action. Determined, now, to avoid again approximating too closely, the Sémillante, at 7h. 30 m.P. m., bore away obliquely across the bows of her antagonist, and, wearing round, came to on the starboard tack. Following the manæuvre of the Sémillante, the 'Terpsichore also wore round, and steered a course the best adapted for bringing her guns to bear with effect; but the Sémillante constantly evaded every attempt of the latter

to close. At 7 h. 45 m. P. M. the fire of the french lante frigate began to slacken, and at 8 P. M. wholly ceased.

At this moment, taking advantage of the crippled state of her antagonist, the Sémillante bore up and made all sail to the southward and westward.

Being left with scarcely a brace, bowline, tack, or sheet, having her mizen rigging, fore and main stays, back-stays, main topsail, and spanker cut to pieces, and her main topmast and fore and mizen masts much wounded, the Terpsichore, to the mor

tification of her officers and crew, was unable, until Is chas- 8 h. 15 m. P. M., to set any sail in pursuit of the Terpsi- flying enemy; who, by a well-directed fire from

her stern-chasers, did additional damage to the rigging of the Terpsichore, and at 10 P. M. dropped the latter out of gun-shot astern. At midnight the two ships were about one mile and a half apart, the british crew sleeping at their quarters. At 4 a. M. on the 16th the Sémillante, who had changed her course frequently, bore from the Terpsichore west by south distant nearly two miles. During the 16th,


runs away.



ber escape.

17th, and 18th, the french frigate kept gradually 1808. increasing her distance, until sunset on the last-named day, when she was no longer to be seen. On the next morning, however, the two frigates again descried each other, both still running, under a press of sail, to the west-southi-west. They continued ini mutual sight during that day and the succeeding night. On the 20th, at 10 h. 30 m. A. M., favoured by a heavy squall, the Terpsichore, who by this time had repaired the principal damages in her rigging and sails, was coming up fast with the Sémillante : whereupon the latter reopened a fire from her stern-chasers, double-shotted. That not checking the progress of her persevering adversary, the Sémillante was compelled, in order to lighten herself, to cut a way her stern-boat, throw overboard se- Effects veral of her guns, and a considerable quantity of lumber, and start the principal part of her water and provisions. This produced the desired effects and by midnight the Sémillante had run her pursuer effectually out of sight.

Out of her reduced crew of 180 men and boys, the Loss, Terpsichore lost, and that almost wholly by the ex-&c

on plosion, one lieutenant (Charles Tanes) and 20 men sides. killed, and 22 men wounded, two of them mortally. A french account of the affair represents the Sémillante as having suffered so much in her rigging, as to be obliged to discontinue the action, but states nothing further respecting the loss which the french frigate must have sustained, thàn that captain Motard was wounded in the head and shoulder, and compelled, in consequence, to quit his quarters. The captain's wound was, indeed, of a very serious nature if, as is alleged, it prevented the Sémillante from making a prize of the Terpsichore. « Ce combat eût été infailliblement terminé par la reddition de l'ennemi, si son feu, principalement dirigé pour dégréer, n'eût mis la frégate de sa majesté dans l'impossibilité de manoeuvrer au moment décisif, et si le capitaine,

Те As

March. French accounts.

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1808. blessé à la tête et à l'épaule, n'eût été mis hors de


Little do french officers imagine what a permanent injury they do to their reputations by this habit of boasting, or rather, for such it is, of telling downright falsehoods; and all merely to gain a little temporary applause from the credulous and uninquisitive part of the community. For his activity as a cruiser, and his ability as a navigator of the indian seas, captain Motard claims from

us the meed of praise. Had he given any thing like a fair account of the different meetings of the Sémillante with british ships of war, we could have excused him for running away from them all ; because we know that, what, in one navy, is looked upon as disgraceful and brings down the severest punishment, is, in the other navy, not merely overlooked, but almost enjoined. The captain of a french frigate, that runs from a dozen english frigates in succession, and executes his mission, or returns home from his cruise, receives five times as much applause as the captain, who gallantly engages, and after a hard struggle is compelled to yield to, a decidedly superior force.

For a contrast to the conduct of captain Motard,
of capt. we need look no further than to the behaviour of cap-
Monta- tain Montagu in the case we have just done relating.

With a frigate, carrying 28 guns and 180 men, he
was cruising in the hope to fall in with a frigate
mounting 48 guns, of a much heavier caliber than
his own, and carrying a crew of at least 340 men ; and
although, fortunately for him, he did not encounter the
Canonnière, captain Montagu met, fought, and fairly
beat, a french frigate mounting 40 guns, with a
crew of at least 300 men. Could the Terpsichore,
at any one time during the five days' chase that suc-
ceeded the battle, have got fairly alongside the
Sémillante, the officers and crew of the former would,

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* Dict. Historique, tome iv. p. 7.

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