in its report to the National Convention, insisted that the only object (it being the policy of the French government to conceal the intended attack upon Corsica) of the fleet's sailing was, "to seek the enemy, fight the English wherever they could be found, drive them out of the Mediterranean, and restore for that sea a free navigation."
On the 11th, in the afternoon, the French fleet, counted at 15 sail of the line, six frigates, and two brigs, was descried in the south or windward quarter by the Princess-Royal and several ships then near her, and which ships were distant between five and six miles from their main body. On the 12th, at daylight, the French fleet again made its appearance, and presently bore up as if to reconnoitre. On arriving within about three miles of the Princess-Royal, the French van-ship hauled to the wind on the larboard tack, and was followed, in succession, by her companions astern. At this time, owing to the lightness of the wind and a heavy swell from the westward, none of the ships could make much progress. Towards evening, however, a fresh breeze sprung up from the south-west, and the British ships took advantage of it to close each other and form in order of battle, with their heads to the westward. At sunset the extremes of the French fleet bore from the British van west and south-west by south.
During the night, which was very squally, the French 74 Mercure carried away her main topmast, and was permitted to part company, attended by a frigate. Subsequently the two ships reached in safety the anchorage in Gourjean bay, and found lying there the prize-ship Berwick, attended also by a frigate, and then on her way to Toulon to get refitted.
On the 13th, at daylight, or soon after, the French admiral evincing no intention of bearing down to engage, Vice-admiral Hotham threw out the signal for a general chase, which was promptly complied with, the wind at this time blowing very fresh, attended with frequent squalls. At 8 a.m. the French 80-gun ship Ca-Ira, the third ship from the rear, accidentally ran foul of her second ahead, the Victoire, also of 80 guns, and, besides doing some damage to the latter, carried away her own fore and main topmasts.
So fine an opportunity was not lost upon Captain Thomas Francis Freemantle, then, with the 36-gun frigate Inconstant, far advanced in the chase. At about 9 a.m. this frigate, ranging up within musket-shot on the larboard quarter of the French 80, gave her a broadside and stood on. The French frigate Vestale presently bore down, and, after firing several distant broadsides at the Inconstant as she ran by her, took the Ca-Ira in tow. Having tacked, the Inconstant again passed under the lee of the two-decker, and fired into her. The latter, however, having by this time cleared the wreck of her topmasts from her larboard side, opened a heavy fire from her lowerdeck guns; which killed
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