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Chapter Twenty Five.
At the last gasp—Taken on board the Solway Castle Indiaman—Homeward-bound—Hopes of freedom at last—We enter the Thames—Ship brings up at the mouth of the Medway—Visited by a pressgang—Carried on board the Glatton, 56 guns, Captain Henry Trollope—Sail to join the northern fleet under Admiral Duncan—Reach Yarmouth roads—Sent to join a squadron off Helvoetsluis—The Glatton encounters a French squadron of four frigates, two corvettes, a brig, and cutter—We engage them, and our heavy carronades fearfully cut them up—They take to flight and escape—While returning to Yarmouth I fall overboard—Find a boat—Picked up by a cutter bound to Plymouth—Becalmed off the Eddystone—Am again seized by a pressgang and taken on board the Cleopatra—My despair—Sail for the West Indies—A desperate battle—Overpowered by numbers—We strike our flag—Miserable contemplations.

How long I had remained thus I could not tell, when I was aroused by hearing a man’s voice, and looking up, saw a boat close to me, beyond her a ship hove-to. One of the crew sprang on to the raft, and casting off the lashings, he and others leaning over the bow of the boat, dragged me on board. After this I knew nothing until I found myself in a hammock on board a large merchantman. A surgeon soon afterwards came to me.

“You will do well enough now, my man,” he said to me in a kind voice; “but you were almost gone when we picked you up.”

I inquired what ship I was on board.

“The Solway Castle, homeward-bound East Indiaman,” he answered.

This was indeed satisfactory news, as I should now, I trusted, be able to get back to my dear wife without the necessity of asking leave. I might indeed almost consider myself a free man, for I did not feel that it would be my duty to return to the Galatea, considering that the prize I had been put on board had gone down. After the doctor had left me, the sick bay attendant brought me a basin of soup which wonderfully revived me, and in shorter time than the doctor said he expected I could not help acknowledging that I was almost myself again.

I felt very sad as I thought of the loss of young Mr Harvey and my old friend Dick Hagger; still the hopes of so soon being at home again made me think less of them than I might otherwise have done, and contributed greatly to restore my strength. I was treated in the kindest way by the doctor, and many others on board, who, having heard my history, commiserated my hitherto hard fate. A fair breeze carried us up Channel. When I was able to go on deck I kept a look-out, half expecting to see an enemy’s ship bear down on us, although, unless she should be a powerful frigate or line-of-battle ship, she would have had a hard job to capture the Solway Castle, which was well armed, and carried a numerous crew. Still I could not help recollecting the old saying, “There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip.” The truth was, I had not yet recovered my full strength, and the doctor remarked that I required tonics to set me up and drive gloomy thoughts out of my head. We kept well over to the English coast to avoid the risk of falling in with French cruisers. We had got abreast of Portland when a strange sail was made out to the southward, which, as she was seen edging in towards the land, it was supposed without doubt was an enemy. The passengers, of whom there were a good number returning after a long absence from India, began to look very blue.

“Never fear, ladies and gentlemen,” I heard the captain observe, “we’ll show the Frenchman that we’re not afraid of him, and the chances are, make him afraid of us.” Saying this, he ordered the studden sails we had carried to be taken in, and the royals to be set, and then bringing the ship on a wind, boldly stood out towards the stranger. The effect was as desired. The stranger, hauling her wind, stood away to the southward, taking us probably for a line-of-battle ship, which the stout old “tea chest” resembled at a distance. By yawing and towing a sail overboard, we stopped our way, until the captain thought the object had been answered, when once more, squaring away the yards, we continued our course up the Channel.

As we passed the Isle of Wight, I cast many a look at its picturesque shores, hoping that a pilot boat might put off at the Needles, and that I might have the opportunity of returning in her, but none boarded us until we were near the Downs, when, unfortunately, I was below, and before I could get on deck the boat was away. However, I consoled myself with the reflection that in another day or two we should be safe in the Thames, and I resolved not to lose a moment in starting for Portsmouth as soon as I stepped on shore. I thought that I might borrow some money from my friend the doctor, or some of the passengers, who would, I believed, willingly have lent it me, or if not, I made up my mind to walk the whole distance, and beg for a crust of bread and a drink of water should there be no other means of obtaining food. My spirits rose as the lofty cliffs of Dover hove in sight, and rounding the North Foreland, we at length, the wind shifting, stood majestically up the Thames. When off the Medway, the wind fell, and the tide being against us, we had to come to an anchor. We had not been there long when a man-of-war’s boat came alongside. I observed that all her crew were armed, and that she had a lieutenant and midshipman in her, both roughish-looking characters. They at once stepped on board with an independent, swaggering air. The lieutenant desired the captain to muster all hands. My heart sank as I heard the order. I was on the point of stowing myself away, for as I did not belong to the ship, I hoped to escape. Before I had time to do so, however, the midshipman, a big whiskered fellow, more like a boatswain’s mate than an officer, with two men, came below and ordered me up with the rest. The captain was very indignant at the behaviour of the lieutenant and the midshipman, declaring that his crew were protected, and had engaged to sail in another of the Company’s ships after they had had a short leave on shore.

“Well and good for those who are protected, but those who are not must accompany me,” answered the lieutenant. “We want hands to man our men-of-war who protect you merchantmen, and hands we must get by hook or by crook.” Having called over the names, he selected twenty of the best men who had no protection. I was in hopes I should escape, when the midshipman pointed me out.

The lieutenant inquired if I belonged to the ship. I had to acknowledge the truth, when, refusing to hear anything I had to say, though I pleaded hard to be allowed to go free, he ordered me with the rest into the boat alongside. Having got all the men he could obtain, the lieutenant steered for Sheerness, and took us alongside a large ship lying off the dockyard, where she had evidently been fitting out. She looked to me, as we approached her, very much like an Indiaman, and such I found she had been. She was, in truth, the Glatton, of one thousand two hundred and fifty-six tons, which had a short time before been purchased, with several other ships, from the East India Company by the British Government. She was commanded, I found, by Captain Henry Trollope, and carried fifty-six guns, twenty-eight long eighteen-pounders on the upper deck, and twenty-eight carronades, sixty-eight pounders, on the lower deck. Her crew consisted in all of three hundred and twenty men and boys, our arrival almost making up the complement. The ship’s company was superior to that of most ships in those days, although somewhat scanty considering the heavy guns we had to work.

We were welcomed on board, and I heard the lieutenant remark that he had made a good haul of prime hands. It was a wonder, men taken as we had been, could submit to the severe discipline of a man-of-war, but all knew that they had do help for it. They had to run the risk of being flogged or perhaps hung as mutineers if they took any steps to show their discontent, or to grin and bear it.

Most of them, as I did myself, preferred the latter alternative. I had never before seen such enormous guns as were our sixty-eight pounder carronades, larger than any yet used in the service,—indeed, their muzzles were almost of equal diameter with the ports, so that they could only be pointed right abeam. We had neither bow nor stern-chasers, which was also a great drawback. Some of the men, when looking at the guns, declared that they should never be able to fight them; however, in that they were mistaken. Practice makes perfect, and we were kept exercising them for several hours every day.

The ship was nearly ready for sea, and soon after I was taken on board we sailed from Sheerness, for the purpose of reinforcing the North Sea Fleet under Admiral Duncan. In four or five days, during which we were kept continually exercising the guns, we arrived in Yarmouth Roads. Scarcely had we dropped anchor than we were ordered off again to join a squadron of two sail of the line and some frigates, commanded by Captain Savage of the Albion, sixty-four, supposed to be cruising off Helvoetsluis.

Next morning, long before daylight,—it had gone about two bells in the middle watch,—we made the coast of Flanders, and through the gloom discovered four large ships under the land. The wind, which had hitherto been fresh, now fell, and we lay becalmed for some hours in sight of Goree steeple, which bore south by east. We and the strangers all this time did not change our relative positions. That they were enemies we had no doubt, but of what force we could not make out. As the day wore on, a breeze sprang up from the north-west; at the same time we saw two other good-sized ships join the four already in view. We instantly made all sail, and stood towards the strangers, making signals as soon as we got near enough for them to distinguish our bunting. No reply being made, we were satisfied that they were an enemy’s squadron. There were four frigates and two ship corvettes, while a large brig corvette and an armed cutter were seen beating up to join them from leeward.

“We’re in a pretty mess. If all those fellows get round us, they’ll blow us out of the water, and send us to the bottom,” I heard one of the sailors who had been pressed out of the Indiaman observe.

“Our captain doesn’t think so, my boy,” answered an old hand. “Depend upon it, he intends trying what the mounseers will think of our big guns.”

The order was now given to clear for action, and we stood on with a light breeze in our favour towards the enemy. The wind freshening, the four frigates, in close line of battle, stood to the north-east. Shortly afterwards they shortened sail, backing their mizzen-topsails occasionally to keep in their stations. We were nearing them fast. Up went the glorious flag of Old England, the Saint George’s ensign, just as we arrived abreast of the three rearmost ships, the two corvettes and the smallest of the frigates. Our captain ordered us, however, not to fire a shot until we had got up to the largest, which he believed from her size to be the commodore’s, and intended to attack.

“I wonder what we are going to be after?” I heard the man from the Indiaman inquire. “We seem to be mighty good friends; perhaps, after all, those ships are English.”

“Wait a bit, my bo’, you’ll see,” answered the old hand, “our captain knows what he’s about. If we can knock the big one to pieces, the others will very soon give in.”

The ship next ahead of the commodore had now fallen to leeward, so that the latter formed the second in the line. Not a word was spoken. I should have said that as we had not men sufficient for our guns, for both broadsides at the same time, we were divided into gangs, one of which, having loaded and run out the gun, was directed to leave it to be pointed and fired by the others, picked hands, and we were then to run over and do the same to the gun on the other side. We thus hoped to make amends for the smallness of our numbers.

The ship we were about to attack was evidently much larger than the Glatton, upwards of three hundred tons as it was afterwards proved, but that did not daunt our gallant captain. We continued standing on until we ranged close up alongside her, when our captain hailed and desired her commander to surrender to his Britannic Majesty’s ship. No verbal reply was made, but instead, the French colours and a broad pendant were hoisted, showing that the ship we were about to engage was, as we had supposed, that of the commodore. Scarcely had the colours been displayed, than she opened her fire, her example being followed by the other French ships. We waited to reply until we were within twenty yards of her. Then we did reply with a vengeance, pouring in our tremendous broadside. The shrieks and cries which rose showed the fearful execution it had committed.

Still the French commodore continued firing, and we ran on, keeping about the same distance as before, exchanging broadsides. Meantime the van ship of the enemy tacked, evidently expecting to be followed by the rest of the squadron, and thereby drive us upon the Brill shoal, which was close to leeward. The van ship soon after arrived within hail of us on our weather-beam, and received our larboard guns, which well-nigh knocked in her sides, while the groans and shrieks which arose from her showed that she had suffered equally with her commodore. Anxious to escape a second dose of the same quality of pills, she passed on to the southward, while we cheered lustily at seeing her beaten. We had not much time for cheering; we were still engaged with the commodore on our lee bow, while the second largest frigate lay upon our lee quarter, blazing away at us. Just then our pilot shouted out, “If we do not tack, in five minutes we shall be on the shoal!”

“Never mind,” answered the captain; “when the French commodore strikes the ground, put the helm a-lee.”

Just as he spoke, the French ship tacked, evidently to avoid the shoal, and while she was in stays, we poured in another heavy raking fire which well-nigh crippled her. Meantime the other French ships had gone about.

“Helm’s a-lee!” I heard shouted out, but as our sails and rigging were by this time terribly cut about, it seemed as if we should be unable to get the ship round. The wind, however, at last filled our sails, and round she came. We, as well as the Frenchmen, were now all standing on the starboard tack. The three largest frigates had fallen to leeward, and could do us but little damage, but the three smaller ones kept up a harassing long-shot fire, to which we, on account of the distance, could offer but a very slight return. All our topmasts being wounded, and the wind freshening, it became necessary to take a reef in the topsails. In spite of the risk we ran, the moment the order was issued we swarmed aloft, though we well knew that at any moment the masts might fall, while the enemy’s shot came flying among us.

The frigates and the two corvettes to leeward, seeing us cease firing, stood up, hoping to find us disabled; but springing below, we were soon again at our guns, and gave them such a dose, knocking away several of their yards, that they soon stood off again to join the other ships, which had already had enough of it. I forgot to say that latterly we had had the brig and the cutter close under our stern, and as we had no guns with which to reply to the smart fire they opened, we could only fire at them with musketry. After a few volleys, however, they beat a retreat, and as night closed down upon us, all firing ceased on both sides. The Frenchmen had fired high, and our sails and rigging were too much cut up to enable us to follow them. Strange as it may appear, scarcely a dozen shot had struck the hull, and in consequence, notwithstanding the tremendous fire to which we had been exposed, we had not had a single man killed, and two only, the captain and corporal of marines, wounded. The former, however, poor man, died of his wounds shortly afterwards. During the night every effort was made to get the ship into a condition to renew the action. At daybreak we saw the French squadron draw up in a close head and stern line. By eight o’clock, having knotted and spliced our rigging, bent new sails, and otherwise refitted the ship, we stood down to offer battle to the enemy, but they had swallowed enough of our sixty-eight pounders, and about noon they bore away for Flushing. We followed until there was no hope of coming up with them, when our ship’s head was turned northward, and we steered for Yarmouth Roads, to get the severe damages we had received more effectually repaired than we could at sea.

I afterwards heard that the large French frigate we had engaged was the Brutus, which had been a seventy-four cut down, and now mounted from forty-six to fifty guns. We saw men and stages over the sides of the French ships stopping shot-holes, and we heard that one of them had sunk in harbour.

I was in hopes that we should go back to Sheerness to refit, and that I might thus have an opportunity of getting home. I had done my duty during the action, so had every one else. The wind freshening during the night, the hands were ordered up aloft to shorten sail.

“Be smart, my lads,” I heard the officer of the watch sing out, “or we may have the masts over the sides.”

I was on the main-topsail yard-arm to leeward, when, just as I was about to take hold of the ear-ring, the ship gave a lurch, the foot rope, which must have been damaged, gave way, and before I could secure myself, I was jerked off into the sea. It was better than falling on deck, where I should have been killed, to a certainty. I sang out, but no one heard me, and to my horror, I saw the ship surging on through the darkness, and I was soon left far astern. I shouted again and again, but the flapping of the sails, the rattling of the blocks, and the howling of the wind drowned my voice.

At the same time the main-topgallant mast with its sail and yard was carried away. I saw what had happened, and I feared that two poor fellows who had been handing the sail must have been killed. Their fate made me for the moment forget my own perilous condition. When I saw that I had no hope of regaining the ship, I threw myself on my back to recover my breath, and then looked about, as I rose to the top of a sea, to ascertain if there was anything floating near at hand on which I might secure myself. Though I could see nothing, I did not give way to despair, but resolved to struggle to the last for life. Having rested, I swam on until a dark object appeared before me. It was a boat, which, though filled with water, would, I hoped, support me. I clambered into her, and after resting, examined her condition. She was, as far as I could ascertain, uninjured. I had my hat on, secured by a lanyard, and immediately set to work to bale her out with it. I succeeded better than I could have expected, for though the sea occasionally washed into her, I managed by degrees to gain upon the water. At length I found that her gunwale floated three or four inches above the surface. This encouraged me to go on, and before daybreak she was almost clear. When dawn broke I looked out, but no land was in sight, nor was a sail to be seen. I was without food or water, but I hoped to be able to endure hunger and thirst for some hours without suffering materially.

The day went on, the hot summer’s sun beat down upon my head, and dried my clothes. Several sail passed in the distance, but none came near me. There was nothing in the boat with which I could form even a paddle. I looked round again and again, thinking it possible that I might find some spar which might serve cut in two as a mast and yard. I would then, I thought, try to steer this boat to land, with the help of one of the thwarts, which I would wrench out to make a rudder, using my clothes tacked together as a sail.

Such ideas served to amuse my mind, but no spar could I see. Another night came on, and, overcome by hunger, thirst, and weariness, I lay down in the bottom of the boat to sleep. At length I awoke. Some time must have passed since I lay down. I felt so low, that I scarcely expected to live through another day should I not be picked up. I looked about anxiously to ascertain if any sail was near; none was visible, and I once more sank back in a state of stupor. I knew nothing more until I found myself in the fore peak of a small vessel, a man sitting by the side of the bunk in which I lay feeding me with broth. In a few hours I had recovered sufficiently to speak. I asked the seaman who had been attending me, what vessel I was on board.

“The Fidelity, collier, bound round from Newcastle to Plymouth,” he answered. “We picked you up at daybreak. The captain and mate thought you were gone, but I saw there was life in you, and got you placed in my bunk. You’ll do well now, I hope.”

I replied that I already felt much better, thanks to his kind care, and asked his name.

“Ned Bath,” he answered. “I’ve only done to you what I’d have expected another to do for me, so don’t talk about it.”

He then inquired my name. I told him, giving him an outline of my history, how I had been carried off from my wife, and how cruelly I had been disappointed in my efforts to get back to her.

“You shan’t be this time if I can help it, Will,” he said, “and as soon as we get into Plymouth, I’ll help you to start off for Portsmouth. I’ve got some wages due, and you shall have what money you want, and pay me back when you can.”

I thanked him heartily, feeling sure that Uncle Kelson would at once send him the money, and accepted his generous offer. I could not help hoping that we might meet with a foul wind and be compelled to put into some nearer port; but the wind held fair, and we at length sighted the Eddystone, when, however, it fell calm. Not far off lay a frigate which had come out of the Sound. Several other vessels were also becalmed near us. I was looking at the frigate, when a boat put off from her and pulled towards one of the other vessels. She then steered for another and another, remaining a short time only alongside each.

“She’s after no good,” observed Ned; “I shouldn’t be surprised if she was picking up hands. We’ve all protections aboard here. You’d better stow yourself away, Will. Jump into my berth and pretend to be sick, it’s your only safe plan.”

This I did not like to do, and I guessed if Ned was right in his conjectures, that the officer who visited us would soon ascertain there was one more hand on board than the brig’s complement. Unhappily he was right—the boat came alongside. It was the old story over again. Just as I had expected to obtain my freedom, I was seized, having only time to give Ned the address of my wife, to whom he promised to write, and to wish him and my other shipmates good-bye, when I was ordered to get into the boat waiting alongside. She, having picked up three or four more men from the other vessels becalmed, returned to the frigate, which was, I found, the Cleopatra, of thirty-two twelve-pounder guns, commanded by Captain Sir Robert Laurie, Bart., and bound out to the West Indies.

I very nearly gave way altogether. In vain, however, I pleaded to be allowed to go on shore. I acknowledged that I belonged to the Glatton, and promised faithfully to return to her as soon as I had visited my wife. My petition was disregarded, my statement being probably not even believed. A breeze springing up, all sail was made, and the Cleopatra stood down Channel.

I must pass over several weeks. They were the most miserable of my existence. Three times I had been pressed, when on the very point, as I supposed, of getting free. I began at last to fancy that I never should return on shore. Though my spirits were low, I retained my health, but I did my duty in a mechanical fashion. My shipmates declared that for months together they never saw me smile.

At length, after we had visited the West Indies, we were cruising in search of an enemy, when soon after daybreak we sighted a ship standing to the eastward, we having the wind about north-west. Instantly we made all sail in chase. Every one was sure that she was an enemy, and from her appearance we had no doubt that she was a big ship. She, observing that she was pursued, stood away from us before the wind. All day we continued the chase. Everything was done to increase our speed. We began to be afraid that the enemy would escape us. The sun went down, but there was a bright moon, and numbers of sharp eyes were constantly on the watch for her. We marked well the course she was steering. Anxiously the night passed away. When daylight returned, the watch on deck gave way to a shout of satisfaction, as in the cold grey light of dawn she was seen right ahead rising out of the leaden waters. One thing was clear, we were overhauling her surely, though slowly. We went to breakfast, the meal was quickly despatched, and we were all soon on deck again to look out for the stranger. In a short time there was no doubt about her character. The order was given to clear the ship for action. As I heard the words, I felt more cheerful than I had done since I came on board. Strange as it may seem, my spirits rose still higher when the stranger was made out to be a forty gun frigate. By half-past eleven he shortened sail, and hauled his wind to allow us to come up with him, and hoisting his colours at the same time, we now knew him to be a Frenchman. Probably he had run away at first thinking that we were the biggest ship, whereas in reality, as we afterwards discovered, he was vastly our superior, not only in the number of his guns but in weight of metal, for they were eighteen-pounders, and while we had only 200 men fit to work our guns, he had 350. The Cleopatra measured only 690 tons, while the enemy’s ship, which was the Ville de Milan, measured 1100, and carried forty-six guns. We also shortened sail ready for action, and directly afterwards began to fire our bow-chasers, which the enemy returned with his after-guns. Thus a running fight was carried on for some time, we in no way daunted by the vastly superior force with which we were engaged.

At about half-past two we were within a hundred yards of the Ville de Milan, when she luffed across our bows and poured in a crashing broadside, while we, passing under her stern, returned her fire with good interest. We now ranged up within musket-shot, on the starboard side of our big antagonist, and thus we kept running parallel to each other, sometimes on a wind and sometimes nearly before it—we trying to prevent her from luffing again across our bows or under our stern, and she not allowing us to perform the same manoeuvre. Never in a single combat was there a fiercer fight. We worked our guns with desperate energy—not that we ever doubted that we should be the victors, but we knew that we must fight hard to win the victory.

For upwards of a couple of hours we had been hotly engaged, when a loud cheer broke from us. We had shot away the enemy’s main-topsail-yard. We, however, had suffered greatly, not only in spars, but our running rigging had been literally cut to pieces. A number of our men, also, lay killed and wounded about our decks; and though the latter were carried below as fast as possible, their places were rapidly supplied by others doomed to suffer the same fate.

The loss of the enemy’s main-topsail-yard caused us to forge ahead, but unhappily, from the condition of our running rigging, we could neither shorten sail nor back our main-topsail. Our captain therefore resolved to endeavour to cross the bows of the Ville de Milan.

The order was given to put the helm down. At that moment a shot struck the wheel, knocking it to pieces and killing one of the men standing at it. There we lay, with the ship utterly unmanageable and at the mercy of our opponent. It was enough to make us weep with sorrow, but instead of that we set to work to try and get tackles on to the tiller to steer by.

“Look out, my lads! stand by to repel boarders!” sang out our captain.

At that moment the enemy bore up and ran us on board, her bowsprit and figure-head passing over our quarter-deck, abaft the main rigging. I was on the quarter-deck. As I saw the bows of our huge enemy grinding against our sides, our ship rolling terrifically, while the other was pitching right at us as it were, I felt that never were British courage and resolution more required than at that moment. It was put to the test.

“Repel boarders!” was the shout. On came the Frenchmen, streaming in crowds over their forecastle. We met them, cutlass and pistol in hand, and with loud shouts drove them back to their own ship. They must not have been sorry to get there, for every instant it appeared that our gallant frigate would go down under the repeated blows given us by our opponent. I do not believe, though, that such an idea occurred to many of us. We only thought of driving back the enemy, of striving to gain the victory. All this time our great guns were blazing away, and the marines were keeping up a hot fire of musketry, while the enemy were pounding us as sharply in return.

Not a minute of rest did they afford us. Led on by their officers, with shouts and shrieks they rushed over their bows and down by the bowsprit on to our deck. Every inch of plank was fiercely contested, and literally our scuppers ran streams of blood.

Try and picture for a moment the two ships rolling, tumbling, and grinding against each other, the wind whistling in our rigging (for it was blowing heavily), the severed ropes and canvas lashing about in every direction; the smoke and flames from our guns, their muzzles almost touching, the cries, and groans, and shouts; spars and blocks tumbling from aloft; the decks slippery with gore; the roar of big guns, the rattle of musketry, the flash of pistols, the clash of cutlasses as we met together; and some faint idea may be formed of the encounter in which we were engaged.

Once more the enemy were driven back, leaving many dead; but we also suffered fearfully. Still we persevered. For an instant I had time to look round. I saw the shattered condition of our ship, my brave companions dropping rapidly around me, several of our lieutenants severely wounded, and for the first time the dread came over me that we must strike our flag or sink at our quarters, for I felt convinced that the ship could not stand much longer the sort of treatment she had been undergoing.

Again the shout was raised, “Repel boarders!”

“Steady, my brave lads, meet them!” cried our gallant captain. We saw the Frenchmen hurrying along the waist, leaping up on the forecastle, and then in dense masses they rushed down on our decks. We met them as bravely as men can meet their foes, but already we had nearly sixty men (more than a quarter of our crew) either killed or wounded, and, terribly overmatched, we were borne back by mere force of numbers.

The way cleared, the Frenchmen continued pouring in on us till our people were literally forced down the hatchways or against the opposite bulwarks, while our cutlasses were knocked out of our hands, no longer able to grasp them. The bravest on board must have felt there was no help for it, and no one was braver than our captain. The British colours were hauled down.

When I saw what had happened, I felt as if a shot had gone through me—grief and shame made my heart sink within my bosom. The Frenchmen cheered; we threw down our weapons, and went below. We were called up, however, to assist in getting the ships free of each other. This was a work of no little difficulty. Some of our people were removed aboard the Ville de Milan, and she sent about forty men, including officers, to take possession of the Cleopatra.

Some of the Frenchmen told us that their captain had been killed by one of the last shots we fired. We had four lieutenants, the master, and the lieutenant of marines wounded, as well as the boatswain and a midshipman, though not an officer was killed. Of the seamen and marines, we had twenty-two killed and thirty wounded. Another proof that we did not give in while a chance of victory remained was, that scarcely were we free of the Frenchman than our main and fore masts went over our side, and very shortly afterwards the bowsprit followed, and our gallant frigate was left a miserable wreck on the waters.

The French lost a good many men, and their ship was so knocked about, that her main and mizzen-masts both went over the side during the night, and when day broke, to all appearance she was not much better off than the Cleopatra.

We at once were summoned to assist the prize crew in getting up jury-masts, and the weather moderating, we were able to do this without difficulty. Both frigates then shaped a course for France. Even now I scarcely like to speak of what my feelings were when once more all my hopes were cruelly dashed to the ground, and I found myself carried away to become the inmate of a French prison.

I sat most of the day with my head bent down on my knees, brooding over my grief. I certainly felt ripe for any desperate adventure; but nothing else would, I think, have aroused me. The Frenchmen did not like our looks, I conclude, for they kept a strict watch over us lest we should attempt to play them a trick, and would only allow a few of us on deck at a time. This was very wise in them, for had they given up the chance, we should certainly not have let it slip.


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