Jean-Bon Saint-André's eyes, "30 British sail of the line" instead of 26. It is true that there was, in Lord Howe's fleet, one two-decker more than we have named : the Charon, late a 44, now a hospital-ship. From being stationed in the rear of her own, and therefore at a proportionably greater distance from the French fleet, her two rows of ports must have been more evident than her size, and may have given rise to the supposition, that she was a ship of the line in reserve.
We say not much to deter M. Villaret, because, under all the circumstances, no imputation of cowardice can attach, simply because a French fleet forbears to attack an English one numerically equal. Moreover, the French could plainly discern among the English ships seven three-deckers; while they themselves possessed but four. It was not probably known to them, that four of those seven three-deckers were of inferior force to four of their own two-deckers, and that the smallest of their four three-deckers was of superior force to the heaviest ship in the British fleet. For instance, a British 98-gun ship throws, in broadside weight of metal, 958 Ibs. ; a French second-class 80 gun ship, (the 80 in the table at p. 54 throws 39 lbs. more,) 1079 lbs.; a French 110-gun ship, 1278 lbs. ; while the Queen-Charlotte (reckoning, as in all other cases, the long guns only) threw no more than 1158 lbs. One circumstance, if true, brings the two fleets a trifle nearer to an equality. It is stated in the French accounts, that the Patriote had on board 550 sick, being upwards of three-fourths in number of her proper crew.
The separation, on the evening of the 28th, of the Audacious and Révolutionnaire left the numbers still equal, but reduced the strength of M. Villaret's fleet, in the ratio of the difference in force between a British 74, and a French 110 gun ship. With respect to the battle of the following day, the 29th, Jean-Bon Saint-André attributed his failure, partly to the disobedience of his van-ship, the Montagnard, in not having tacked when ordered, whereby the weathergage was lost ; but principally, to the (most people will think extraordinary) circumstance, that the British for all they had " 30 sail of the line," set sail and ran away. *
Having established, or, which was the same thing, asserted, these facts, the Conventional deputy assured the French people, that the battle of the 29th, although "not decisive," had been "eminently glorious." This rodomontade apart, Admiral Villaret, in recovering the Indomptable and Tyrannicide, at a time when they were all but captured, gave an undoubted proof of his skill and gallantry. On the other hand, some of the British ships, besides the Cæsar, were badly manoeuvred. It was this apparent hesitation to follow their own admiral, that encouraged the French admiral, when in the very act of abandoning his
* Moniteur, of July 5.
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