1810 - Rainbow and Avon with Néréide


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1810 Bacchante and Griffon 229

but, not having departed until after her return from the chase of the Néréide, did not arrive at Plymouth until the 13th of March.

One effect of the supremacy of the British navy was to compel France to make merchantmen and transports of her men of war hence a frigate, despatched on a voyage to a colonial port, is ordered to chase nothing and speak nothing on her way. This may account for even two French frigates, as we have shown to have been the case, declining to engage one British frigate ; and, had the Néréide, fallen in with the Rainbow and Avon before she reached Guadaloupe, might have explained why this French frigate ran from a British 22-gun ship and brig-sloop. But, having found that island shut against her, the Néréide, would, one might suppose, resume her character of a ship of war, and endeavour to effect something that should do honour to a 40-gun frigate and confer a benefit, however slight in degree, upon the nation to which she belonged. Instead of this, acting as, after having knocked away his opponent's mainmast, he did on a former occasion, Captain Lemaresquier waits merely until he has deprived his two inferior antagonists of the means of pursuit ; then leaves them to repair their damages, and to boast, justly boast, of what their prowess had accomplished.

The conduct of the Rainbow and Avon, throughout this running fight, reflects the highest honour upon their respective officers and crews, as well as upon the flag under which they served ; and the noble conduct of Captain Wooldridge, in his earnest pursuit, single-handed, of an enemy so much superior to the Rainbow, was just what might be expected from an officer who, on a former occasion, when commanding the Mediator fireship, behaved so gallantly. The prompt support which Captain Fraser afforded his friend, while it relieved the Rainbow from a destructive fire, brought upon himself and his little brig the whole weight of then French frigate's broadside; the serious effects of which we have already described. But, because the engagement produced no trophy as its result, the account of it did not appear in the London Gazette; and that having been the case, and no fresh opportunity offering for him to distinguish himself, Captain Fraser continued as a commander during the remainder of his life. He appears to have died in one of the latter months of the year 1816.

On the 10th of January, in the morning, while a small British squadron, under the orders of Captain Sir Joseph Sydney Yorke, of the 80-gun ship Christian VII was lying in Basque roads, a convoy of French coasters were discovered, on their passage from Isle d'Aix to Rochelle. Immediately the boats of the Christian VII and of the 38-gun frigate Armide, Captain Lucius Hardyman, were detached under the orders of

* See p. 78.

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