Captain Bowen succeeded in carrying his prize to Lisbon. But the fine contour of the Mahonesa, boasted of as it was by the Spaniards, had been so disfigured by the Terpsichore's shot, that the ship, although, setting aside what she had suffered in the action, a remarkably fine frigate of 921 tons (239 more than the Terpsichore), was considered not worth the cost of a thorough repair ; hence, the Mahonesa had little more than a nominal existence among the 36-gun frigates of the British navy.
The following is the account given of this action by a contemporary: " The first Spanish ship captured after the declaration of war was the Mahonesa of 36 guns, by Captain Richard Bowen, of the Terpsichore. The action took place off Malaga. The Mahonesa had between 50 and 60 of her people killed and wounded ; the Terpsichore had no one hurt on board. There is little credit to be gained in conquering such antagonists." Passing over the slight mistake, that " the Terpsichore had no one hurt on board," we shall extract another passage from the same work, if only to show how differently the writer could reason in (as he has made it appear) a similar case. "This instance," that of the Crescent and Réunion, " may be fairly adduced in support of the proposition, that a long list of killed and wounded is not always a certain criterion of the merit of an action." †
On the 24th of October the British 12-pounder 36-gun frigate Santa-Margarita, Captain Thomas Byam Martin, cruising at the entrance of the channel, captured the ship-privateer Buonaparte of 16 guns and 137 men ; and on the next morning discovered two ships approaching her, which came nearly within hail before they discovered the Santa-Margarita to be a frigate. They now made all sail from her, and, to secure the retreat of one or the other, stood on different tacks.
The Santa-Margarita followed the larger ship, with little prospect of taking the other ; but Lieutenant William Birchall, first of the frigate, gallantly volunteered to attack the latter in a boat. At this time the shot from the frigate had so disabled this ship, as to enable the boat to get alongside, and Lieutenant Birchall took possession, without resistance, of the merchant ship Potomak, from Poole bound to Newfoundland, with a cargo, a prize to the Vengeur, of 16 guns and 120 men, from Brest, the ship of which the Santa-Margarita was in pursuit ; and which, on receiving a few shot from the latter, hauled down her colours. Having now nearly as many prisoners on board as equalled his crew in number, Captain Martin was obliged to return into port to get rid of them.
An express from the island of Anguilla having reached St.-Kitt's on the 25th of November, bringing an account that two French ships of war, with smaller vessels and a body of troops,
* Brenton, vol. ii., p. 142.
† Ibid. vol. i., p. 248.
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