of Earl Howe, under the command of Lord Bridport, had sailed from Spithead on the same day that the French fleet had quitted Brest, and consisted of the:
Frigates, Révolutionnaire, Thalia, Nymphe, Aquilon, Astrea, and 20-gun ship Babet ; Mægera and Incendiary fireships, Charon hospital-ship, and Argus and Dolly luggers.
The object of the departure of the Channel fleet appears to have been to give protection to an expedition, under the command of Commodore Sir John Borlase Warren, in the 40-gun frigate Pomone, bound to Quiberon bay ; and of which expedition we shall presently say more. Lord Bridport continued in company with Sir John Warren and his charge until the 19th ; when, being near Belle-Isle, and the wind blowing fair for Quiberon, the admiral, with the Channel fleet, stood out from the coast, in order to keep an offing and be ready to receive the Brest fleet, should the latter quit port (its departure being then unknown) and attempt to molest the expedition.
The Arethusa, Sir John's advanced frigate, just as she had made the land of Belle-Isle, descried the fleet of M. Villaret coming from under it, and immediately made the signal for "16 sail of the line and 10 frigates." The squadron and transports thereupon altered their course, so as to avoid the French fleet, and Sir John despatched a fast-sailing vessel with the intelligence to Lord Bridport.
Either the expedition was not seen by the Brest fleet, or was considered to be the Channel fleet and of superior force. At all events, M. Villaret missed a very fine opportunity of benefiting his country ; and early on the next morning, the 20th, Sir John Warren came in sight of Lord Bridport. The latter, meanwhile, had despatched a lugger to Sir John, with directions to send to him his three line-of-battle ships, the Robust and Thunderer 74s,
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