the chase and action ; but, as the Alliance struck to the Stag, have put Mr. Patrick Tonyn, her first lieutenant, to take charge of her, with orders to proceed to the Nore."
In the beginning of the month of September the 12-pounder 32-gun frigate Southampton, Captain James Macnamara, had been left, in company with the 18-gun ship-sloop Moselle, Captain Charles Brisbane, to watch the port of Genoa, in which lay, waiting for an opportunity to return to Toulon, the French 36-gun frigate Vestale, 28-gun frigate or "corvette" Brune, and 14-gun brig-corvettes Alerte and Scout. On the 28th Captain Macnamara detached the Moselle on service to Vado ; and, on the 29th, in the afternoon, while standing in towards Genoa, the Southampton discovered several sail steering to the westward. The British frigate immediately crowded sail after the largest ship, which was no other than the Vestale, who, with her little squadron and several small privateers, had taken advantage of the Moselle's temporary absence to effect her own and their escape.
At 10 p.m. the Southampton arrived within hail of the Vestale, and receiving no satisfactory answer, fired her starboard broadside into the French frigate's larboard quarter. The Vestale returned the fire, but, wishing to avoid an action, at 10 h. 25 m. p.m. tacked, and was promptly followed by the Southampton, who soon brought her larboard guns to bear. The Vestale now crowded all sail to get away ; as did also the Brune, who was at a short distance ahead of her. The Southampton, after having partially repaired her damaged rigging, as she stood on in chase, discovered the Alerte and Scout brigs close to her, endeavouring to effect their escape by steering different courses. At 11 p.m., just as the Southampton was getting within point-blank range of the Vestale, the former's mizenmast, from a severe wound it had received and the press of sail now carried, fell over the side. Although the wreck was cleared, a jury-mast erected, and fresh sails bent and set, with surprising alacrity, the time lost could not be regained; and the Vestale, in chase of whom the Moselle joined about midnight, effected her escape, with the loss, as it afterwards appeared, of eight men killed and nine wounded.
Thus ended an affair, in which a different line of conduct on the part of the French commander might, on a fair calculation of the odds in his favour, have enabled him to capture a British frigate. All that can now be said is, that the gallantry of the Southampton's captain afforded a remarkable contrast to the pusillanimity (for it would be wrong to call it by any other name) of the captain of the Vestale: *
* Mr. Marshall, in his biographical work (vol. i., p. 686), states that the Southampton ran the Vestale on board, and "soon compelled her to surrender," but that, when about to take possession, the former lost her mizen mast, and the Vestale "rehoisted her colours," and went off before the wind. Not a word of this is to be found in the Southampton's log: it is therefore, in all probability, incorrect.
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