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César-Joseph Bourayne, of whom mention has al.
we have no doubt, have had their wishes realized. 1808. As it was, the Terpsichore returned to Pointe de Galle to refit, and the Sémillante, early in the month Sémilof April, reanchored in Port-Louis for the same purpose. The Sémillante, however, was found to be safe in too much cut up in her hull to serve again as a cruiser; especially as, to escape from the Terpsichore, she had thrown overboard a great part of her arma. ment. Captain Motard, therefore, as soon as his frigate was repaired, loaded her with a cargo of colonial produce, valued at seven million of francs, and set sail for Europe. The same good fortune, which had attended the Sémillante ever since she escaped from the british frigate Venus in May, 1793,* still accompanied her; and, in the month of February, 1809, this richly-laden french frigate succeeded in entering a port of France.
Although, from the damages she had received in French her action with the Terpsichore, the Sémillante, at the after her return to Port-Louis in April, was unable Isle of to put to sea as a cruiser, there still remained
upon the Isle of France station two french national ships. One was the 40-gun frigate Canonnière, captain
ready been made; the other, the ship-corvette Jéna, of 18 long 6-pounders and 150 men, commanded by lieutenant Nicolas Morice.' This vessel had sailed from Europe as a privateer, but had since been purchased by governor Decaen to be employed as a national corvette.
Some time in the month of August, 1808, the Laprel Canonnière joined the Sémillante in the harbour of off Port-Louis ; and on the 5th or 6th of September the british 22-gun ship Laurel, captain John Charles Woollcombe, arrived off the Isle of France from the Cape; whence she had been despatched by viceadmiral Bertie, the new commander in chief on that station, with provisions for two ship-sloops expected
* See vol. i. p.
Sends in a
1808, to be cruising npon the Isle of France station. Not
off Port-Louis, captain Woollcombe conceived it to
In a day or two after her arrival off the island, the flag of Laurel recaptured a portuguese ship, bound last
from the rendezvous of french prizes in St.-Paul's
On the 12th, in the afternoon, the Laurel chased
of Port-Louis harbour, and, discovering the vessel to
This was, as may be conjectured, the Canonnière out to berself. Upon the return to Port-Louis of the flag attack of truce with the ladies on board, the french officer
made such a representation of the Laurel's insigni
Falls in with
ficant force, that governor Decaen resolved to send 1808. out the Canonnière to endeavour to bring her in. In
Sept. order, too, that the contest might be quickly decided, and the least possible damage done to the prize, whose services as a french cruiser were so much in request, a party of at least 70 soldiers from the garrison, with a captain to command them, were added to the 340 or 350 officers and seamen composing the crew of the Canonnière. Armed, as has Force elsewhere appeared, with 48 guns,* manned, as we two have just shown, with full 420 men, and, as a proof ships. that she had no other object in view than the capture of the Laurel, supplied with only a few days' provisions, the Canonnière put to sea from Port-Louis. The force of the Laurel was precisely that of her sister-ship, the Comus ;t 22 long 9-pounders on the main deck, with six carronades, 18-pounders, and two long sixes on the quarterdeck and forecastle. But, of her complement of 175 men and boys, having quitted the Cape short-handed and since manned a prize, the Laurel had only 144 on board, and a few of these were sick. In point of relative size, one ship was 526, the other 1102 tons.
Notwithstanding all this, the Laurel stood on to meet the Canonnière; and, as the two vessels approached Laurel each other on opposite tacks, captain Woollcombe and called out to the master, “ Lay me as close to her nière as you can." It was now about 6 h. 30 m. P. M. ; engage. and, just as the Laurel, edging away on the larboard tack for the Canonnière's starboard bow, was about to discharge her foremost starboard maindeck gun, the Canonnière wore. Either from the lightness of the wind, or, as was considered to be the case on board the Laurel, from the mismanagement of her crew, the french frigate came so slowly round, that the former was enabled to pour into her stern a deliberate, and, as acknowledged, destructive fire. At length the Canonnière came to on the larboard
Her loss, &c.
: the wold
1808, tack, and discharged her broadside. So well, how-
by captain Woollcombe as to running close to his
Canonnière's shot flew over the heads of the british Laurel crew. In this way, the wind gradually sinking by the türed, cannonade to nearly a calm, did the two vessels engage,
until a few minutes before 8 P. M.; when, having had
Out of her 144, or, adding a passenger, lieutenant
The loss on board the Canonnière,as acknowledged
by captain Bourayne, amounted to five men killed nière. and 19 wounded; but it is believed that the french
captain's report referred to his proper crew only,
As soon as captain Woollcombe, lieutenant Lynne,
Loss on board Canon
Woodman, were brought on board the Canonnière, 1808. captain Bourayne, an experienced seaman of the old som
Sept. french school, and a brave officer, returned them their swords, with a suitable compliment to their gallantry. On a subsequent day, when these officers and others of the late Laurel's crew got back to the Cape of Good Hope, the sentence of a court-martial most honourably acquitted them of the loss of their ship; oncapt
. and the president, captain Josias Rowley, passed a very handsome encomium upon captain Woollcombe, for his brave and able defence of the Laurel against an enemy's ship, that was acknowledged to be more than doubly superior to her.
Until the statement of a contemporary met our Capt. eyes, we could almost have sworn, that every officer ton's in the french, as well as in the english, naval service acwould have praised the defence of the Laurel, and have concurred in the opinion, that no efforts of captain Woollcombe, even could they have been more skilfully directed than they were, would have enabled him to succeed against such a ship as the Canonnière. Of all things, too, the individual, who, in dissenting from that opinion, argues against physical impossibility, is the brother of the gallant officer that once commanded the Canonnière; and who, we are sure, would have gladly encountered, in the Minerve, as was then the
frigate's name, two french ships armed and manned like the Laurel. Indeed there was not an 18-gun brig in the british navy that, with her 32-pounder carronades, would not haveconsidered herself a match for her. After narrating, in his usual brief manner, (including an omission of the date, the action between the Laurel and Canonnière, our contemporary proceeds thus: “ The character of captain Woolcomb received no blemish from this misfortune, a court-martial having honourably acquitted him : in his mode of fighting he appears to have adhered to the old'english maxim, of firing at the tier of guns. In a case of this sort, where the opponent was of so