|Naval history of Great Britain
||Cleopatra and Ville-de-Milan
occasion, to suppose that the mere circumstance of a ship, of such apparent force as the Milan, flying from the Cleopatra, ended greatly to augment the confidence of the officers and crew of the latter. But it was not only a 32 hours' chase, a more than three hours engagement, close engagement, followed. Nor did the Cleopatra yield until a fourth of her crew lay dead or disabled upon her decks ; until her sails and rigging were destroyed, her masts left tottering, and her riddled hull pressed upon, and nearly borne beneath the waves by, the large and heavy body of her antagonist.
Having disengaged his prize, placed on board of her his first : lieutenant and 49 petty officers and men, shifted the prisoners, and partially refitted the two ships, Capitaine de frégate Piérre Guillet, the late first lieutenant of the Ville-de-Milan, slowly continued his route towards a French port. On the 23d, at noon, the British 50-gun ship Leander, Captain John Talbot, obtained a distant view of the Cleopatra, bearing south, the weather at this time being hazy, with squalls of wind and rain from the northward. The Leander instantly made sail, but, the haze increasing, lost sight of the chase. At 2 h. 30 m. P.M., the weather clearing a little to the southward, the Cleopatra again presented herself to view, and was now made out to be a frigate, under jury-masts, standing to the south-east. At 3 P.M. another and a much larger ship, also under jury-masts and steering the same course, was seen a short distance ahead of the Cleopatra. In about a quarter of an hour the two frigates closed for mutual support. Each then fired a gun to leeward, and hoisted a French ensign at her main stay. At 4 P.M. the Leander arrived within gun-shot. The two frigates immediately separated, the Cleopatra putting before the wind, the Milan steering with it on the larboard quarter. At 4 h. 30 m. P.M., being within half musketshot of the Cleopatra, the Leander gave her one of the maindeck guns ; when, after a slight hesitation, the newly-made French frigate hauled down her colours and hove to.
Those of the Cleopatra's original crew, that had been left on board, now came on deck and took possession of their recovered ship. Observing this, the Leander directed them to follow her, and immediately made sail after the Ville-de-Milan. In another hour the British 50 got alongside of the French frigate ; and the Ville-de-Milan, without waiting for the discharge of a shot on either side, surrendered to the Leander. " It is not possible, " says Captain Talbot in his official letter, "for officers to speak in stronger terms than the French officers do, in praise of Sir Robert Laurie's perseverance in so long a chase, except it is in the, praise they bestow upon him, his officers, seamen, and marines, for their gallant conduct during so long and severe are action. " These sentiments, no less than the candid avowal of them, reflect the highest honour upon those by whom they were uttered. Captors of every nation may here take a lesson, and
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