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HistRevolV2_501-550.indd 26 3/16/12 12:01 PM CHAPTER X X I V Naval Transactions • Rupture between England and France opened in the Bay of Biscay • Admiral Keppel • Serapis and Countess of Scarborough captured by Paul Jones-The Protection given him by the StatesGeneral resented by the British Court • Transactions in the West Indies • Sir George Bridges Rodney returns to England after the Capture of St. Eustatia-Sent out again the succeeding Year-Engages and defeats the French Squadron under the Command of the Count de GrasseCapture of the Ville de Paris-The Count de Grasse sent to England • Admiral Rodney created a Peer of the Realm on his Return to England cHAP. XXIV [104] To prevent breaking in upon and interrupting the thread of 1 7 s 1 narration, through a detail of the important and interesting scenes acting on the American theatre, many great naval operations have been passed over in silence, and others but slightly noticed. A particular description of nautical war was never designed by the writer of these pages; yet a retrospect may here be proper, and a cursory survey necessary, of some of the most capital transactions on the ocean, which were closely connected with American affairs, and the interests of her allies. The beginning ofnaval hostilities between Great Britain and France, took place in the [lOS] Bay of Biscay in june, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight. A fleet commanded by admiral Keppel, a gentleman in whom the nation had the highest confidence, from his bravery, his prudence, and long experience in naval transactions, was at this critical period directed to sail with discretionary orders. A member of parliament of eminence observed, "that all descriptions of men seemed pleased with the choice, and to feel their own security included in the appointment" of such an able commander, at so anxious a moment. He met a squadron of thirty-two ships of the line, 526 HistRevolV2_501-550.indd 27 3/16/12 12:01 PM \ ' 0 L U ~I E T H R E E 527 and a large number of frigates, commanded by the count D'Orvilliers, CHAP. xx1v before he was in reality prepared for an interview with such a formidable 1 1 s 1 force on the part of France: this was indeed before any formal declaration of war had taken place between the rival nations. Two frigates from the squadron of D'Orvilliers were very soon discovered near enough to prove evidently, that they were on a survey of the British fleet. They were pursued, and a civil message delivered to the captain of the Licorne, from the English admiral; but it was not so civilly returned; some shot were exchanged, and in a short time the frigate surrendered. [106] The other French frigate, called the Belle-Poule, was of heavier metal, and appearing disposed for a rencounter, captain Marshal, who commanded the Arethusa, pursued her till out of sight of the fleet. When near enough to announce his orders, he informed the captain of the Belle-Poule, that he was directed to conduct him to the British admiral. A peremptory refusal of compliance on the part of the French captain, induced captain Marshal to fire a shot across the Belle-Poule: this was returned by the discharge of a whole broadside from the Belle-Poule into the Arethusa. A severe action ensued, which continued near two hours. Both frigates suffered much: the Arethusa was so far disabled, that she was conducted off the French coast by two British ships that accompanied the chase, and arrived in time to tow her back to the fleet: the BellePoule escaped only by running into a small bay on the coast of France. The resolute deportment of the French captain, in this beginning of naval hostilities between the two nations, was much applauded by his countrymen, and munificently rewarded by the king of France. For some time after this action, a mutual display of the strength of the two fleets was kept up: chasing, re-chasing, manoeuvring, and gasconade, continued for several days, with little effective action, and no decision. During [107] the cruise, admiral Keppel, discovered by the officer of a frigate taken after the action of the Belle-Poule and the Arethusa, that D'Orvilliers was in daily expectation of reinforcements of strength, while there was yet no formal declaration of war, while the French admiral played off, as unwilling to begin hostilities, and while, from many circumstances...


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