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To this well-weighed, yet lofty praise of the Admiral, the same writer has added words that the British Navy may remember long with pride, as sealing the record of this war, of which the relief of Gibraltar marked the close in European and American waters. After according credit to the Admiralty for the uniform high speed of the British vessels, and to Howe for his comprehension and use of this advantage, Captain Chevalier goes on: —

"Finally, if we may judge by the results, the Commander-inChief of the English fleet could not but think himself most happy in his captains. There were neither separations, nor collisions, nor casualties; and there occurred none of those events, so frequent in the experiences of a squadron, which often oblige admirals to take a course wholly contrary to the end they have in view. In contemplation of this unvexed navigation of Admiral Howe, it is impossible not to recall the unhappy incidents which from the 9th to the 12th of April befell the squadron of the Count de Grasse. . . . If it is just to admit that Lord Howe displayed the highest talent, it should be added that he had in his hands excellent instruments."

To quote another French writer: "Quantity disappeared before quality."

CHAPTER XIV

THE NAVAL OPERATIONS IN THE EAST INDIES, 1778-1783. THE CAREER OF THE BAILLI DE SUFFREN

THE operations in India, both naval and military, stand by themselves, without direct influence upon transactions elsewhere, and unaffected also by these, except in so far as necessary succours were intercepted sometimes in European waters. The cause of this isolation was the distance of India from Europe; from four to six months being required by a fleet for the voyage.

Certain intelligence of the war between Great Britain and France reached Calcutta July 7th, 1778. On the same day the Governor-General ordered immediate preparations to attack Pondicherry, the principal seaport of the French. The army arrived before the place on the 8th of August, and on the same day Commodore Sir Edward Vernon anchored in the roads to blockade by sea. A French squadron, under Captain Tronjoly, soon after appearing in the offing, Vernon gave chase, and on the 10th an action ensued. The forces engaged were about equal, the French, if anything, slightly superior; a 60-gun ship and four smaller vessels being on each side. As the French then went into Pondicherry, the immediate advantage may be conceded to them; but, Vernon returning on the 20th, Tronjoly soon after quitted the roads, and returned to the He de France.1 From

1 Now Mauritius.

[graphic]

I that day the British squadron blockaded closely, and on the 17th of October Pondicherry capitulated.

On the 7th of March, 1779, Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Hughes sailed for the East Indies with a small squadron. The French also sent out occasional ships; but in 1779 and 1780 these went no further than the He de France, their naval station in the Indian Ocean. Hughes's force remained unopposed during those years. The period was critical, for the British were at war with Hyder Ali, Sultan of Mysore, and with the Mahrattas; and all depended upon command of the sea. In January, 1781, when Hughes was wintering at Bombay, the French squadron under Comte d'Orves appeared off the Coromandel coast, but, despite Hyder Ali's entreaties, it refused to cooperate with him. The different spirit of the two commanders may be illustrated from contemporary documents.

"We have advices from Fort St. George of a French squadron which appeared off that place on January 25, 26, and 27, consisting of 1 seventy-four, 4 sixty-fours, and 2 fifties. They proceeded south without making any attempt on five Indiamen then in the roads, with a number of vessels laden with grain and provisions; the destroying of which might have been easily accomplished, and would have been severely felt."

"On December 8th, off Mangalore," 1 writes Hughes, "I saw two ships, a large snow, three ketches, and many smaller vessels at anchor in the road with Hyder's flag flying; and, standing close, found them vessels of force and all armed for war. I anchored as close as possible, sent in all armed boats, under cover of three smaller ships of war, which anchored in four fathoms water, close to the enemy's ships. In two hours took and burned the two ships, one of 28 and one of 26 guns, and took or destroyed all the others, save one which, by throwing everything overboard, escaped over the bar into the port. Lost 1 lieutenant and 10 men killed, 2 lieutenants and 51 wounded."

It is interesting to note these evidences of Hughes's con

1 On the Malabar — western — coast.

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