the purchase in India, among other ships, of the Bombay, a frigate-built Indiaman of 672 tons. The ship was immediately put upon the establishment of a first-class 32-gun frigate, and armed with 24 long 18-pounders on the main deck, and two long nines and 14 carronades, 24 pounders, on the quarterdeck and forecastle, total 40 guns. In consequence of a 74 of the name of Bombay, being laid down at Deptford, the name of the newly purchased frigate was changed to Ceylon. Her established complement appears to have been 235 men and boys. Of this number, the Ceylon, on quitting Madras, was 47 men short ; but she there took on board 100 soldiers of the 69th and 86th regiments, a portion of whom were to serve as marines. So that, with Major-general Abercromby and six or seven other passengers, the Ceylon had on board a total of about 295 men and boys.
The Vénus was armed precisely as the Minerve* and other frigates of that class, and had a regular crew of 380 men and boys. The Victor was the same Jéna of which we have before spoken ; † a mere shell of a vessel, not to be compared, in point of size or efficiency, with the 18-gun brig class, although carrying the same armament. At all events it is certain that, although, when fitted out in the British service, she was established with the old Victor's sixteen 32-pounder carronades and two sixes, yet Captain Morice, when he again commissioned her as a French corvette, landed two of her guns ; thus leaving her with only 16, which were full as many as the ship could carry, with ease to herself, and security to her people.
At 2 P.M. the Ceylon descried the Vénus and Victor in chase of her, and continued steering west by south, under all sail, with a fresh breeze at east-south-east. At dusk, observing that the headmost ship was considerably ahead of her consort, the Ceylon shortened sail, to allow the former to close ; but at 10 p.m., discovering in the moonlight that the Vénus had reduced her sail, as if to await the coming up of her consort, the British frigate again made all sail to keep the two ships apart. The Vénus, as may be supposed, sailed much faster than the ci-devant Indiaman ; and at 15 minutes past midnight, upon the near approach of the former, Captain Gordon, having previously made all clear, shortened sail to begin the action. In five minutes more the Vénus passed under the stern of the British frigate ; and, after hailing and discharging two muskets, and receiving the fire of her stern-chasers, the former ranged up on the Ceylon's starboard quarter.
The mutual discovery now made, of the immense disparity in size and apparent force between the two ships, although it may not have disheartened the one, must have greatly animated the other. However, a severe conflict ensued, and continued until
* See vol. iv, p.232. † See p. 73.
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