|Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
||Blockade of Malta
quarter of the Guillaume-Tell, and gave her the starboard broadside, receiving in return only the 80-gun ship's sternchasers.
Aware that, if he brought to, the ship; then visible on the verge of the horizon would soon take part in the fight, Rear-admiral Decrès continued his course to the northward and eastward. The Penelope, whose rate of sailing, exceeded that of her adversary, and whose manoeuvres were directed by a practised seaman, continued pouring in her raking broadsides, with such effect that, just before the dawn of day on the 31st, the Guillaume-Tell's main and mizen topmasts and main yard came down. The ship was thereby reduced, with the exception of her mizen, to her head-sails, and these were greatly damaged by the Penelope's shot. From such a succession of raking fire: the Guillaume-Tell had also, no doubt, sustained a considerable loss of men; whereas the Penelope, whose object was to avoid exposing herself to a single broadside from so powerful an antagonist, had the good fortune to escape with only a slight damage to her rigging and sails. The frigate's loss, although not numerically great, included among the killed her master, Henry Damerell ; and her wounded amounted to one midshipman (Mr. Sibthorpe), one seaman, and one marine.
At 5 a.m., or a little after, the Lion, who at 1 a.m., after having despatched the Minorca to the Foudroyant and Alexander to leeward, had slipped her cable and chased in the direction of the firing, arrived up with the chase, showing a rocket and a blue light every half hour as a signal to the ships astern. Steering between the Penelope and the crippled Guillaume-Tell, and so near to the latter, that the yard-arms of the two ships barely passed clear, the Lion ranged up on the larboard side of her opponent, and poured in a destructive broadside of three round shot in each gun. The Lion then luffed up across the bows of the Guillaume-Tell, the latter's jib-boom passing between the former's main and mizen shrouds. In a few minutes, to the advantage of the Lion, whose object, with so comparatively small a complement, was neither to board nor be boarded, the French 80's jib-boom was carried away; and the 64 gained a capital position athwart the Guillaume-Tell's bows. Here, aided occasionally by the Penelope, the Lion kept up a steady cannonade, until about 5 h. 30 m. a.m., by which time the Guillaume-Tell's heavy shot had so damaged the Lion, that the latter became unmanageable and dropped astern, still firing, however, as did also the frigate, whenever an opportunity offered.
At 6 a.m., the Foudroyant, who since midnight had slipped and made sail from her anchorage about three miles north-east of Valetta lighthouse, arrived up with a crowd of sail, and, passing in that state close to the French ship's starboard side, so close that the Foudroyant's spare anchor just passed clear of
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