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was composed of twelve sail of the line, and four large frigates, and commanded by the count d' Estaing, a man of great valor, and of an active genius. It took out a considerable corps of troops to serve on shore. Silas Deane, one of the American commissioners, who was recalled, and M. Gerard, whom the king had appointed his minister to the United States, was on board. Fortune showed herself favorable to these first essays. The wind seconded the voyage of the fleet; and, though the British ministry had been promptly advised of its departure, their ignorance of the route taken by the count d'Estaing, and the strong west winds which prevailed for some days, so retarded the decisions of the admiralty, that it was not till the first of June they ordered admiral Byron to make sail with twelve ships for America; he was to replace lord Howe, who had requested leave to return to England. As for the fleet of Brest, more considerable, and commanded by the count d' Ovilliers, who was impatient to realise the hopes which had been placed in his talents, it was destined to scour the seas of Europe, in order to keep alive upon the coasts of Great Britain the fear of an invasion. He relied especially upon his frigates, which were very numerous, to intercept the merchant fleets laden with rich cargoes, which the English then expected from the two Indies. Thus things were rapidly verging to an open rupture between the two states, and immediate hostilities were expected, though war was not yet declared on either part, according to the established usages of Europe. Universal attention was roused by the contest going to commence between France and England; events of moment were expected from the collision of two such powerful nations. Nor was fortune slow to light the first fires of this conflagration, which soon involved the four quarters of the world in its flames. Scarcely had admiral Keppel got out to sea, the thirteenth of June, from St. Helens, and shaped his course for the Bay of Biscay, when he discovered at no great distance, two ships of considerable size, with two other smaller vessels, which appeared to be watching the motions of his fleet. These were the two French frigates called the Licorne and the Belle Poule. The admiral found himself in a very delicate situation. On the one hand, he desired much to make himself master of the ships, in order to procure information respecting the state and position of the Brest fleet; on the other, war was not yet declared between the two nations, and the causing it to break out might be imputed to his temerity. Nor did he find any thing in the instructions of the ministers which could remove his perplexity; as they were exceedingly loose, and left every thing almost entirely to his discretion. It should be added, that Keppel being of a party in opposition to that of the ministers, his conduct, in case he commenced hostilities, was liable to be interpreted unfavorably, since his adversaries might attribute to political motives what appeared to be the inevitable result of circumstances. In this painful embarrassment, Keppel, like the good citizen he was, chose rather to serve his country at his own peril, than to hazard its interest by his indecision. Accordingly, the seventeenth of June, he ordered his ships to give chase to the French. Between five and six in the afternoon, the English frigate Milford came up with the Licorne, and her captain, in very civil terms, summoned the French cominander to repair under the stern of admiral Keppel. The Frenchman at first refused; but seeing the Hector ship of the line come up, which saluted with ball, he submitted to his destiny, and following that vessel, took station in the British fleet. During this time, captain Marshall, with his frigate Arethusa, of twenty-eight six pounders, in company with the Alert cutter, was in pursuit of the Belle Poule, which carried twenty-six twelve pounders and was accompanied by a corvette of ten guns. The Arethusa being the better sailer, arrived about six in the evening within musket shot of the Belle Poule. Marshall informed the French captain, M. de la Clocheterie, of his orders to bring him under the stern of the admiral. To this, de la Clocheterie returned a spirited refusal. The Arethusa then fired a shot across the Belle Poule, which she returned with a discharge of her broadside. A fierce engagement between the two frigates ensued, animated by an equal emulation, and bent on carrying the victory in this first action, the most extraordinary efforts of resolution were displayed on both sides. The conflict continued for more than two hours, with severe damage to both parties, as the sea was calm, and the vessels extremely near. The French were superior in the weight of metal, the number of their crew, and the proximity of their coasts; while the English were benefited by the number of guns, and especially, by the presence of two ships of the line, the Valiant and the Monarch; which, though prevented by the calm from coming up to take part in the action, nevertheless greatly disquieted the French captain, and exceedingly circumscribed his movements. Finally, after an obstinate contest, the English frigate finding herself too close upon the coasts of France, despairing of being able to overpower her adversary, and having sustained much injury in her masts, spars and rigging, profited of a light breeze, which sprung up at that moment, to withdraw. She was afterwards towed off to the fleet by the Valiant and Monarch. During her retreat, the French saluted her with fifty balls; but she returned them not one. The Belle Poule would even have pursued her, but for the damage she had received herself, besides, the proximity of the two men of war, and even of the whole English armament. La Clocheterie thinking it more prudent to consult his safety, went to cast anchor for the night in the midst of the shoals, near Plouascat. The next morning, the two English ships came to reconnoitre his position, and ascertain whether it was possible to approach the frigate near enough to take her. But finding the obstacles of the rocks insuperable, they abandoned the enterprise and returned to join the fleet. For the same causes, and at the same time, the English cutter and the French corvette joined battle with equal fury, but with different success. After an hour of the most vigorous resistance, the corvette surrendered. The Arethusa, in this action, had eight men killed and thirty-six wounded. The loss of the Belle Poule was forty killed, and fifty-seven wounded. Among the first was M. de St. Marsault, lieutenant of the frigate; among the second M. de la Roche de Kerandraon, ensign; Bouvet, an auxiliary officer, and M. de la Clocheterie himself, who received two contusions. In the morning of the eighteenth, the frigate Licorne, which had been stationed in the middle of the English fleet, having made a movement which gave the English some suspicion, they fired a shot across her way, as a signal to keep in company with the other ships. Immediately, to the great astonishment of the admiral, and of the whole English fleet, she discharged a broadside and a volley of musketry into the America, of sixty-four guns, commanded by lord Longford, which lay the nearest to her. This done, she struck her colors, as if, tired of this middle state between peace and war in which she was kept, she had preferred, though a prisoner, to constitute herself in open war. Keppel sent her to Plymouth. In the meantime, another French frigate, named the Pallas, fell in with the English fleet; the admiral detained her, changing her officers and crew. Such was his conduct with regard to French vessels of war. As to merchant ships, though a great number of them fell within his reach, he permitted them to continue their voyage without interruption, not thinking himself authorised to stop them. The action of the Belle Poule excited no little enthusiasm in France, where the remembrance of so many defeats was still recent; and it is unquestionable that the officers and all the crew of that frigate had signalised as much valor as nautical ability. Their conduct occasioned a sincere joy, and it was diligently extolled, in order to animate the public mind by these brilliant beginnings. The king showed himself lavish of favors towards those who had sought; he appointed M. de la Clocheterie captain of ship; Bouvet, lieutenant of frigate ; and gave the cross of Saint Lewis to Roche Kerandraon. Pensions were granted to the sister of Saint Marsault, to the widows, and to the children of those who had fallen in the action. The English were not so generous towards captains Marshall, and Fairfax, commander of the cutter; but they received the encomiums of the admiralty and of their fellow-citizens. But the king of France, considering the affair of the Belle Poule, and the seizure of other frigates, as a sufficient motive for executing his projects, ordered reprisals against the vessels of Great Britain. He immediately caused to be published his decree concerning prizes,

as if the sending of the count d’Estaing to America, with such orders as he was the bearer of, was not yet to be reputed a commencement of war. The English went through the same formalities, thus authorising by words what they had already done, at least with regard to ships of war. Until this time, the two parties had endeavored to harm each other by all possible means, without resulting to the accustomed declarations. The papers found aboard the French frigates, and the questions put to the prisoners, furnished admiral Keppel with important intelligence. He learned that in the port of Brest were thirty-two ships of the line, with ten or twelve frigates, all in complete readiness to put to sea; whereas all his own force consisted in twenty sail of the line and three frigates. He found himself already in sight of the Isle of Ouessant, and consequently near the coasts of France. His position was truly embarrassing. The proximity and superiority of the enemy rendered his present station imminently perilous. To encounter the hazards of a battle which might expose the safety of the kingdom, was rather an act of temerity, than a courageous resolution. On the other hand, to retire from the coasts of an enemy he had braved a moment since, appeared to him a step too unworthy of his own reputation, and of the English name. But, finally, consulting utility more than appearances, and his duty rather than the point of honor, he tacked about for England, and entered Portsmouth the twenty-seventh of June. Immediately, some from the spirit of party, and in order to exculpate the ministers, others to appease the national pride, pulled him to pieces without mercy. It might have seemed that his retreat had sullied the glory of England; and some were so transported by their fury as to compare Keppel to Byng. The admiral supported with admirable constancy the outrages of the multitude, and the invectives of the party who excited them. He busied himself only with the means of reenforcing his fleet, and of putting it in condition to scour the seas anew ; the admiralty powerfully seconded his zeal, and the success corresponded to his exertions. The first divisions of the East and West India fleets arrived about that time, and furnished a great number of excellent seamen to the naval armament. Thus reenforced, it weighed anchor and put to sea the ninth of July. It was composed of twenty-four ships of the line, which were afterwards joined by six more of the same class. It comprehended a ship of one hundred guns, named the Victory, which bore the admiral's flag, six of ninety, one of eighty, and fifteen of seventy-four; the rest were of sixty-four. o They were all well manned and equipped, and commanded by excellent officers. The frigates were insufficient in number; there were only five or six, with two fire-ships. The fleet was divided into three squadrons; the van was commanded by sir Robert Harland, vice-admiral of the Red ; the centre by admiral Keppel, assisted by admiral Campbell, a consummate seaman, who, on the score of ancient friendship, had chosen to accompany him as the first captain of the Victory. The rear was conducted by sir Hugh Palliser, viceadmiral of the Blue, and one of the members of the board of admiralty. Finding themselves so strong, and no longer doubting of victory, the English made their appearance upon the coasts of France. They sought the French fleet with all diligence, impatient to give it battle, in order to preserve their commerce, to efface the dishonor of having a few days before yielded the sea to the enemy; finally, to sustain their ancient renown, and to cause fortune to incline in their favor from the very commencement of hostilities. Meanwhile, the French fleet had also come out of port the eighth of July. It was in like manner formed in three divisions; the first commanded by the count Duchaffault, the centre by the count d’Orvilliers, captain-general, and the third by the duke de Chartres, prince of the blood, who was seconded and guided by admiral de la Motte Piquet. These three divisions comprised thirty-two sail of the line, among which were the admiral's ship, la Bretagne, of one hundred and ten guns, la Ville de Paris, of ninety, which carried the count de Guichen; two of eighty, twelve of seventy-four, one of seventy, two of sixty-four, one of sixty, and two of fifty, besides a great number of frigates. It was the intention of the count d’Orvilliers not to come to an engagement except with great probabilities of success; and this by no means for want of an intrepid valor, and of a perfect knowledge of naval tactics; but he chose first to exercise his crews thoroughly. He hoped, also, without exposing himself to the hazards of an action, to give England some severe blows, by employing his light vessels to capture the convoys which she daily expected from the two Indies. He shaped his course for the Isle of Ouessant, in the full persuasion that the British fleet, which he supposed to consist but of twenty sail of the line, would not presume to venture out of port, or if it showed-itsels, that he should certainly defeat or disperse it, and that, in all events, he should acquire the dominion of the sea. Fortune appeared to favor these first efforts; scarcely had he quitted the road of Brest, when he discovered the English frigate, the Lively, which admiral Keppel had detached upon discovery ; he ordered her to be chased, and she was soon taken. The entire world was attentive to what might ensue, on seeing the two most potent nations of Europe marshalled the one against the other, on the ocean. To this object, and not in vain, had the government of France aimed all its calculations for several years back. Its ships were completely equipped, its seamen well trained, its captains excellent. It remained only that fortune should smile upon such magnanimous designs. The two fleets came in sight of each other

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