Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/74

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Eole at 8.45, and battered her severely. The British vessel was subjected in turn, however, not only to the fire of her chosen victim, but also to that of the Trajan. At ten minutes to eleven o'clock a shot from the Eole took off Pasley's leg, and he was carried down to the cockpit, whereupon the command devolved upon Captain William Hope. It must have been a distressing moment for Flinders, despite the intense excitement of action, when his friend and commander fell; it was indeed, as will be seen, a crucial moment in his career. A doggerel bard of the time enshrined the event in a verse as badly in need of surgical aid as were the heroes whom it celebrates:

          "Bravo, Bowyer, Pasley, Captain Hutt, Each lost a leg, being sorely hurt; Their lives they valued but as dirt, When that their country called them!"[1]

The fight was continued with unflagging vigour, in the absence of the gallant rear-admiral, who, as another lyrist of the event informs us, smiled and said—

          "Fight on my lads and try To make these rebel Frenchmen know That British courage still will flow To make them strike or die."

At a quarter before noon the Eole had received such a hammering that she endeavoured to wear round under shelter of her leader; but in doing so she lost mainmast and foretopmast. The Bellerophon, too, had by this time been sufficiently hard hit to cause Hope to signal to the Latona for assistance. Her foretopmast and maintopmast had gone, and her mainmast was so badly damaged as to be dangerous. Her rigging was cut to pieces, all her boats were smashed, and she was practically as crippled as was her brave commander,

  1. Naval Songs and Ballads—Publications of the Navy Record Society, Vol. XXXIII., 270.