a British 18-pounder frigate, when commanding a French frigate of the same maindeck force, * Captain Pevrieux would hardly be the assailant now that the ship he commanded carried no heavier metal than twelves.
The same French writer, who blames Lieutenant Lecolier for his early abandonment of the action, would, in all probability, have been less lavish in his encomiums upon Captain Pevrieux for his intrepidity in conducting it, but for two mistakes, so happily coinciding as to double the intended effect. He calls the Confiante "une corvette," with as much reason as he calls the Hydra "un vaisseau rasé, portant du 24 en batterie et des caronades de 64 sur les gaillards." † Where can this French writer produce a corvette with a "capitaine de vaisseau " and a crew of 300 men ? The Vésuve mounted 20 long 8-pounders, and yet was commanded, as the writer acknowledges, by a " lieutenant de vaisseau." Of the fact, that the Confiante was a frigate, similar in size and force to the Néréide and a great many others, we entertain not the slightest doubt ; and, indeed, if our memory is not treacherous, we have seen the Confiante designated as a frigate in the columns of the Moniteur.
Since the failure of their attempt in December, 1796, to make a descent upon Ireland, the French had endeavoured, by means of spies and emissaries, to gain over the catholics to their cause. In this they at length succeeded, and unhappy Ireland became the theatre of open and bloody rebellion. The object of the French directory now was, at every risk, to aid the rebels with a few disciplined troops, and a great quantity of arms, ammunition, and clothing. This, indeed, the directory had pledged themselves to do, but they had let the summer nearly pass away before they made any attempt to fulfil their promise. At length two expeditions were set on foot, and were to have sailed simultaneously, one from Brest, the other from Rochefort.
Owing to some delay in paying the seamen and troops of the Brest expedition, that from Rochefort was the first to sail. It consisted of the following ships:
On board this squadron were 1150 troops, with four field-pieces, under the command of General Humbert, having under him the Adjutant-generals Fontaine and Sarrazin. Each ship carried also a considerable quantity of powder, and the same of arms and accoutrements.
* See vol. i., p. 332.
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