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1808 Terpsichore and Sémillante 67

France, and in the month of November arrived with them at Port-Louis.

In the month of February, 1808, the Sémillante quitted port for another cruise in the bay of Bengal. On the 15th of March, in the morning, Captain Motard captured a British merchant vessel, and despatched her to the Isle of France. On the same day, at 3 h. 30 m. p.m., Great Bassas, in the island of Ceylon, bearing north by west distant 64 miles, the British frigate Terpsichore, Captain William Augustus Montagu, having just tacked to the east-south-east, with the wind fresh from the north-east, on her way from Pointe de Galle to Madras, discovered from her mast-head a strange ship, under a press of sail ; about two points on the weather beam. At 5 h. 50 m. p.m. the latter, which was no other than the Sémillante herself, hoisted English colours, and fired a shot at the Terpsichore; from whom she then bore north-east by north, and whose disguised appearance indicated that she was an Indiaman. At 6 h. 45 m. p.m. the Sémillante fired a second shot ; whereupon the Terpsichore, hauled up her mainsail, and hove to on the larboard tack.

Having, in the course of the next ten minutes, ascertained thus the Sémillante was an enemy, and got all clear for action, the Terpsichore, who from age and weakness had been obliged to leave at Madras the whole of her upper-deck guns but two, and consequently mounted, with her 26 twelves, only two 6-pounders, opened a fire upon the Sémillante now with French colours hoisted, and distant about 100 yards upon the Terpsichore's larboard and weather beam. The fire was immediately returned, and a smart engagement ensued. At 7 h. 10 m. p.m., when the two frigates were close on board each other, the Sémillante threw into the Terpsichore some combustible materials, which, falling on the main deck, communicated to the salt-boxes, and occasioned a dreadful explosion, that entirely unmanned the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth guns, and set the ship on fire in several places.

Having, by an expedient which, fair as it may be in a ship of inferior force, can never be pronounced honourable when resorted to by an enemy who possesses ever so slight a superiority, thrown his antagonist into temporary confusion, Captain Motard did not, as might have been expected, attempt to carry the Terpsichore by boarding ; but, as if alarmed by the discovery that she was a British frigate, hastened to get away from her. At 7 h. 20 m. P. M,, having, by great exertions on the part of her officers and crew, extinguished the flames, the Terpsichore made sail as well as she could, and recommenced the action. Determined, now, to avoid again approximating too closely, the Sémillante at 7 h. 30 m. p.m., bore away obliquely across the bows of her antagonist, and, wearing round, came to on the starboard tack. Following the manoeuvre of the Sémillante the Terpsichore also wore round, and steered a course the best

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