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Some account of the

and of the rise and progress of the
commercial Navy of Great Britain. 1834

SOURCE: The Saturday Magazine, No. 117. Supplement, April, 1834

In September 1799, a French frigate was captured by the Exeter, East Indiaman, commanded by Captain Meriton, under very remarkable circumstances. That vessel formed part of a fleet under convoy, which had accidentally fallen in with a French squadron, to which they gave chase. In the course of the pursuit, the British ships were widely scattered, and the captain of the Exeter at last found that he was nearing a French frigate, the only other vessel in sight being the Bombay Indiaman, which was then very far astern. The position was critical, but the British officer, with great presence of mind, forged his determination, and running up alongside the enemy with all his ports up, he commanded him to surrender to a superior force. With this order, supposing himself under the guns of a ship of the line, the French captain instantly complied. Meriton gave him no time for deliberation, but sent an officer who brought him on board; and he delivered his sword to the English captain, in due form, on the quarter-deck. The Bombay Castle was still at a great distance, but on that vessel coming up, the prisoners were quickly taken out and divided. By this time the French captain began to recover from his surprise, and, looking very attentively at the little guns on the quarter-deck, asked Captain Meriton what ship it was to which he had surrendered? Meriton drily answered, "To a merchant-ship." The indignant Frenchman begged to be allowed to return with his people to the frigate, and fight the battle again; this humble request was refused. The French frigate mounted 36 guns, 12 pounders, and had 350 men.

In November, 1800, the Company's ship Phoenix captured a French privateer of 16 guns, of heavy metal, and 132 men, which had had the hardihood to chase her.

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