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1810 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 266


Astell, nailed the pendant to the maintopmast-head, and was killed as he descended the rigging. The lords commissioners of the admiralty, to testify their approbation of the defence of the Astell, granted to the ship's company a protection from impressment for three years. "* But our reliance upon this statement is somewhat shaken by the glaring inaccuracies contained in the following passages: " Du Perrée, in the Bellone, of 44-guns, with the Victor corvette, came up about 4 p.m. The Minerve was still a long way astern. The weight of the battle fell on the Ceylon and Astell. "--" She (the Bellone) bore up, ran to leeward, and in the act of wearing her topmasts fell. " The loss of the Windham is also enumerated at only four men killed and four wounded. The colours of the Astell, it appears, were three times shot away. This may excuse M. Duperré, for stating in his official letter, that the Astell struck ; but does not in the least justify the epithet, "indigne fuyard," which the French captain applies to her gallant, and, long before that time, disabled commander.

Early in the morning of the 4th, the French commodore made sail with the two captured Indiamen, and on the next day anchored in the bay of Johanna, in the island of that name. Here it took M. Duperré, so long to refit his ships, particularly the prizes, the masts of which had all to be fished, that he was not able to sail again until the morning of the 17th. In three days, however, the French squadron and prizes made the high land at the back of Grand-Port, or Port Sud-Est in the Isle of France. At this critical moment we must leave M. Duperré, until we have given some account of the naval occurrences at the isles of France and Bourbon, during his four months' absence from the station.

In the latter end of March or beginning of April, a British naval force arrived off the Isle of France from the Cape, commanded by Captain Henry Lambert, of the 18-pounder 36-gun frigate Iphigenia, having under his orders the 50-gun ship Leopard, Captain James Johnstone, 12-pounder 36-gun frigate Magicienne, Captain Lucius Curtis, and one or two smaller vessels. The French force in Port-Louis harbour consisted, at this time, of the two 40-gun frigates Venus and Manche, and brig-corvette Entreprenant.

On or about the 24th of April the 12-pounder 36-gun frigate Néréide, Captain Nisbet Josiah Willoughby, from the Cape of Good Hope, which she had quitted on the 10th, joined Captain Lambert's squadron, and was immediately detached to cruise off the south-east coast of the island. On arriving abreast of the entrance of Rivière-Noire, a ship was discovered at anchor there, moored in such a manner between the powerful batteries of the place, that her stern was alone visible to the Néréide. She was

* Brenton, vol. iv., p. 463.

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