she had discovered the ship approaching to be an enemy, was endeavouring to effect her escape.
Chase was immediately given by the Dryad, both ships on a wind upon the starboard tack. At 8 p.m. the Proserpine hoisted her colours ; and immediately afterwards the Dryad did the same. The Proserpine then fired her stern-chasers, several of the shot from which went through the Dryad's sails and cut away her rigging. At 9 p.m., having reached her opponent's lee or larboard quarter, the Dryad commenced a close action, and maintained it with so much spirit and effect that, at 9 h. 45 m. p.m., the Proserpine hauled down the French ensign.
The Dryad, whose guns, 44 in number, were the same as those of the Phœnix, with a complement of 251 men and boys, had two seamen killed and seven wounded. The Proserpine was armed the same as the 40-gun frigate in the table at p. 54, except in having two 18-pounders less (although pierced for them) on the main deck, making her total number of guns 42 ; with a complement, as deposed to by her officers, of 348 men and boys of whom she is represented to have lost 30 killed and 45 wounded.
Neither frigate lost a spar. The Dryad's fore topsail was much cut, as well as the greater part of her running, and some of her standing rigging, and her jib and peak halliards were shot away, but her colours, which had fallen with the gaff, were quickly rehoisted at the mizen topgallantmast head. The Proserpine suffered even less in her rigging and sails than the Dryad ; but her hull, on the larboard or engaged side especially, showed clearly where the Dryad's shot had been directed.
Were it not for the slight preponderance occasioned by the Dryad's carronades, the British frigate would have been inferior in guns, as well as in crew and size, to the French frigate. But, as what little the latter wanted in broadside weight of metal was amply made up to her in number of men, the action of the Dryad and Proserpine may be pronounced at least an equal match. Captain Pevrieux appears to have thought otherwise. Hence, the Proserpine fled, and by flying, not only sustained a very serious loss, but was unable to bring guns enough to bear upon her antagonist, to do any more injury to her than a single shot has often inflicted.
Had the French captain, instead of trying to escape, brought his frigate to, he might have manoeuvred her to some advantage, and even, if eventually compelled to yield, would have
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