the preconcerted signal for the Nymphe's artillery to open. A furious action now commenced, the two frigates still running before the wind, within rather less than hailing distance of each other. At about 6h. 30m. the Cléopâtre suddenly hauled up eight points from the wind ; and, before 7 a.m., her mizenmast (about 12 feet above the deck) and her wheel were shotaway.
In consequence of this double disaster, the French frigate, at about 7 a.m., paid round off, and shortly afterwards fell on board of her antagonist, her jib-boom passing between the Nymphe's fore and main masts, and pressing so hard against the head of the already wounded mainmast, that it was expected every instant to fall ; especially, as the main and spring stays had both been shot away. Fortunately, however, for the Nymphe, the jib-boom of her adversary was carried away, and her own mainmast preserved.
After this, the two frigates fell alongside, head and stern, but were still held fast, the Cléopâtre's larboard maintopmast-studdingsail boom-iron having hooked the larboard leech-rope of the Nymphe's main topsail. Here again was danger to the mainmast. In an instant a maintopman, named Burgess, sprang aloft, and cut away the leech-rope from the end of the main yard ; and, as an additional means of getting the ships apart, Lieutenant Pellowe, by Captain Pellew's orders, cut away the best bower anchor.
During these important operations, no relaxation had occurred, on the part of the British at least, in the main purpose for which the two ships had met. Soon after they had come in contact in the manner we have related, the Cléopâtre was gallantly boarded by a portion of the Nymphe's crew; one man of whom, at 7 h. 10 m. a.m., hauled down the republican colours, after the action had continued 50 minutes.* The firing now ceased ; and it was just as the last of 150 prisoners had been removed into the Nymphe, that the two ships separated. †
* Captain Pellew, in a letter to his brother, says, " We dished her up in 50 minutes."
† Mr. James has not given the account of this action with his accustomed accuracy, and leaves the reader to imagine that it was not till long after the Cléopâtre had run stern on to the Nymphe that she was boarded and carried by the English. Mr. Osler, whose work is compiled from Lord Exmouth's own notes, gives the following account : " The Cléopâtre (from the loss of her mizenmast and wheel) being thus rendered unmanageable, came round with her bow to the Nymphe's broadside, her jib-boom pressing hard against the mainmast. Captain Pellew, supposing that the enemy were going to board, ordered the boarders to be called to repel them ; but the disabled state of the Cléopâtre was soon evident, and he at once gave orders to board her. Immediately the boarders rushed on the forecastle, a division of them, headed by Mr. Ball, boarding through the maindeck ports, fought their way along the gangways to the quarterdeck. The republicans, though much superior in numbers, could not resist the impetuosity of the attack. At 10 minutes past 7 they had all fled below or submitted, and the pendant of the Cléopâtre was hauled down:' - Osler's Life of Exmouth, p. 85.
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