Their size makes them ideal as a “skirmisher” against sloops and brigs, as they have the speed to keep up and the cannon range to do damage. They will not last long, however, against a larger vessel such as a ship-of-the-line: one broadside at close range from a rated ship would likely dash any corvette to pieces.
Corvettes were a two-masted, French design for a ship very similar to a sloop-of-war; slightly smaller than a frigate with only a single gun deck. Like many French vessels, they were well thought out and beautifully constructed, with good sea-handling characteristics. Corvettes were ideal for the inshore waters along the English Channel where good sailing qualities were required. Other nations counted themselves fortunate if they took a French-built corvette as a prize. The term “corvette” was revived by many navies a century later for smaller warships. Indeed, a large number of modern navies use "corvette captain" (Korvettenkapitän, for example, in the Deutsche Marine) as a rank title, one step-up from lieutenant, indicating an officer suitable for an independent command.