1810 - Ceylon and Venus


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1810 Ceylon and Venus 307

There are many who will insist, that Captain Corbett's death-wound was inflicted by one of his own people. Had the wound been caused by a musket or pistol ball, a possibility might exist that such had been the case ; but what becomes of the assertion, when the wound, and that the partial excision of a limb, was inflicted by a cannon ball ? Others, and some of them officers of known veracity, have informed us that, unable to brook his defeat, Captain Corbett, during the temporary absence of an attendant, cut the bandages from his amputated limb, and suffered himself to bleed to death. A contemporary, in the statement, " Captain Corbett did not (we fear would not) survive his capture, " * appears to be of the same opinion. Still, looking to the source whence we derived it, we are disposed to consider our first information as the most correct, that the want of proper surgical aid, coupled with the existence of a compound fracture above the amputated limb, was the immediate cause of Captain Corbett's death.

On a subsequent day, April 23, 1811, the surviving officers and crew of the late Africaine were tried by a court-martial for the loss of their ship, and most honourably acquitted ; and Lieutenant Tullidge was declared to have behaved " in the most gallant and determined manner, although he had received four severe wounds during the action. " We are happy to add, that, on the 1st of the succeeding August, this brave and deserving officer was promoted to the rank of commander.

Returning to the proceedings of the year 1810 off the Isle of France, we have to state, that on the 17th of September, in the morning, the British 18-pounder 32-gun frigate Ceylon, Captain Charles Gordon, from Madras on her way to Isle Bourbon, arrived off Port-Louis, in the expectation of falling in with the squadron under Commodore Rowley. After reconnoitring the harbour, and, on account of the many large ships within it, estimating the French force of seven frigates and a large corvette, Captain Gordon bore up and made all sail on his course alongshore towards Isle Bourbon. Since 8 a.m., when off Canonnier point, the Ceylon had been descried from the signal-posts ; and, although at first taken for an enemy's cruiser, was afterwards, chiefly on account of her having a poop, believed to be an Indiaman with troops on board. The French men of war at this time in Port-Louis were the Vénus, Manche, and Victor, and at 1 h. 15 m. p.m. Commodore Hamelin weighed and put to sea with the Vénus and the corvette, in pursuit of the Ceylon, then nearly abreast of Morne-Brabant, at the south-western extremity of the island.

This will be the proper place to show how the parties, now on the eve of coming to blows, stood in point of relative force Some time in the year 1805 the British government authorized

* Brenton, vol. iv., p. 477

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