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prize-money; and one very desirable change produced by this means in the situation of our seamen, with regard to their discipline and morals at least, is not generally considered, viz. that they are thus rescued from that state. of uncertainty respecting their future resources, which used to be a sort of warrant for every excess. They have no longer the bank of what was often a delusive hope, to draw on:-they have lost their ticket in the great lot tery of plunder, which spread widely its demoralizing effects among them. But this loss is considered only as temporary in the navy, and perhaps elsewhere; another war, it is presu med, will restore it. We are not of that opinion; we think, the days of prize-money, at least of its most lucrative branch, mercantile spoliation, now nearly for ever gone; and there are several reasons which concur in making us think this. We burnt our own fingers last war by the excess to which we carried the system; and there can be little doubt that many of our distresses since its close were legitimately attributable, and are at present very currently attributed, first, to the unnatural activity which we thus gave to our own capital, and next to the ruin which we thereby brought on our foreign customers. But, besides all this, the world will not now tolerate our continued exercise of a right found ed on the same barbarous prescription which once sanctioned, in like manner, the ransom of prisoners of war, and sack of enemy's towns, but which has been unable to protect these outrages, and will be unable to cover this;-the truth is, we will not tolerate it much longer ourselves. It is owing, probably, to the long-continued success of French aggression and usurpation during the late war, that the tide of public opinion runs now so strong in favour of justice and equity; the nations of Europe so long groaned, with reason on their side, so long sought consolation in the midst of their
calamities, from the consideration that* they were unjustly inflicted, that now the maxims of morality have acquired a weight with them, for which it would be difficult to account on other grounds." We are under the same influence, the great majority of us at least, such as were cordially opposed to the adverse side; and, in truth, certain classes of oppositionists in this country seem in nothing more unfortunate, than that from the turn which their politics took during the late war, they missed this schooling; and now, accordingly, cannot even believe the great powers of Europe in earnest in their professions on this score. These professions, however, with the maxims on which they are founded, are to a point opposed to that system of mercantile spoliation to which we allude; they are, in particular, opposed to that exercise of it without warning, which, in the shape of embargo, or otherwise, has hitherto characterized every commencement of hostilities with us. This, accordingly, we yenture confidently to predict, will not even be attempted by us next war, whatever time it commences; in like manner, we shall then be far more ceremonious with neutral commerce than hitherto; and ultimately the whole system will be abandoned.* And the change which we have noti ced, therefore, in the situation of our seamen on this point, may thus, we think, be considered a permanent one; and we shall allude to it in this light, accordingly, in the remainder of our speculations.
The last ground of despondence, however, above quoted, is the most serious; notwithstanding which we admit also its general truth. The old system of British naval discipline is, indeed, rapidly subverting, or rather, we may say, it is almost already gone; and scarcely the ground-plan of that which seems destined to supply its place is yet laid. Still, however, there are aspects in which we can view even this fact with satisfaction; and al
* The truth is, that if we once come to be ceremonious with respect to neutral bottoms, we shall be driven the whole length here contemplated, in mere self-defence. The carrying nations are far more deservedly the objects of our jealousy than any belligerent need ever be; and we should indeed begin to fear for Old England, were another Holland to grow up across the Atlantic. But where force cannot be used, and reason will not apply, we must employ the weapons of a deeper policy and instead of allowing neutral colours to protect mercantile property, allow mercantile property to protect even belligerent flags. We should have no carriers then, and no rivals,
The entire change, however, thu
though we own that the mist still hangs low over the future edifice of naval rule, to our eyes it already looms large in the midst, and shews not unworthy to succeed the Gothic fortalice in which we have hitherto confided. The old system of discipline in the navy was one of pure coercion. It was a rod of iron, roughly, although not on the whole harshly, wielded; and did its work excellently well in the state of civilization to which seamen, and without offence we may add, their officers also, had attained when it was in full force. Within the last twenty-five years, however, its maxims have been progressively, nay, even rapidly, modifying; and now many of them scarcely live but in the recollection of individuals. This took its de finite rise from the great mutinies of 1797, when the grievances of the navy, as many things were called which were then quite necessary, were for the first time freely canvassed by sailors them selves. It was subsequently promoted by the long period of comparative idle ness which in the navy succeeded the battle of Trafalgar. And it has never wanted the assistance of the selfish and intriguing on shore; particularly at the very beginning, and of late years again, when it has come to constitute the politics of some even of the highest ranks of British society, to identify themselves with the mob, and scruple at no topics of declamation calculated to excite their sympathy or applause.
Even previous to 1797, the old pu nishment of "keel-hauling," for slight offences, had entirely gone out; but so fresh was it at that time in the recollection of the seamen, that a modification of it, in the shape of a very rough and unceremonious ducking, was among the punishments currently inflicted by the delegates, on such as gave them any offence, during the period of their usurped command. On the other hand, " running the gauntlet," a much more severe infliction,* was currently resorted to as late as 1803; and we ourselves saw it ordered, for the last time probably, in 1804, by one of the most humane and popular officers in the service. Down to 1806-7, nothing was more common than to hear midshipmen, particularly the day-mates, commanding the people, as they saw occasion, to be started with a cane, or rope's end,t when their offence was not considered of sufficient importance to bring them to the gang.
When a man was to be keel-hauled, a very strong, but limber (flexible) rope was rove through blocks on the fore or main-yard arms, the bight, or middle part, passing under the ship's bottom. The culprit was strongly secured to this on one side, and such additional weight was added, as carried him, when dropt over, quite clear of the vessel, and almost immediately brought him to hang perpendicularly from the other side. He was then run up out of the water by the whole strength of the ship's company, and had thus merely a ducking and a fright; the last, we should have thought, fully shared in by the officer commanding the infliction, fest any thing should have gone wrong. When a man was sentenced to run the gauntlet, the ship's company was drawn up in two lines round the deck, every man provided with a twisted yarn, called a nettle, about equal to one tail of the common ship's cat. The criminal was then stript to the waist, and secured so as to stand on a grating, which was drawn leisurely round between the files, and every man inflicted a lash, with what will he might. The chief severity of this punishment consisted in the awkwardness with which the strokes were drawn, by which they cut in unusual places about the sides, and under the arms. It was not otherwise so severe as an ordinary punishment; and so much was this understood, that sometimes, although rarely, it was prefaced by one or two dozen at the gangway.
A man thus served, was facetiously said "to buy goose without gravy," possibly because there was no effusion of blood under this, as under the more formal punishment at the gangway; and the expression has since come to denote any unceremonious punishment, or even reprimand. We notice this, however, to shew how freely it was ori ginally acquiesced in by the men, and even made the subject of their mirth; which, indeed, was still further testified by its being continued during the mutiny by the delegates.
way; and the boatswain's mates, by whom these orders were executed, almost to the present day, carry, in consequence, rattan-canes or rope's-ends in their hands, as badges of their office. About the same period also, these men, whose duty on board in some degree corresponds to that of sergeants in the army ashore, familiarly struck the people when remiss in executing their orders; and long after this privilege was withdrawn from them, and every one knew that it was so withdrawn, the threat to assume it, on particular occasions, on their own responsibility, was just their common phraseology, which hurt no one's feelings, and wounded no one's cars. The great dog was chained, and could no longer bite, but to bark was still expected of him. Yet, only in 1809, we have a feeling recollection of a midshipman, then on promotion in a flag-ship abroad, who very nearly lost all his prospects in life, because his memory was better than his judge ment on this score; having been formally complained of to the commander-in-chief, for thus only once presuming, as it was by this time called, to "take the law into his own hands." ." The privilege of doing so, however, still remained with the lieutenants; until about 1813, when it came to be confined, although still with grumbling, to first lieutenants only; in which state it continued till the end of the war. But this year, the captain of a ship has, with his first lieutenant, been brought to a court-martial, on the complaint of his ship's company, on a very similar subject to this, and both have been dismissed the service by its sentence; a very hard sentence certainly, and which we hope may yet be remitted, were it but in compliment to the standard so lately hoisted in the fleet; but its full severity will be better understood when the following circumstances are further taken into consideration.
ment, and oppose the clamours excited about it by interested individuals without. They very early, accordingly, issued instructions on the subject of lenity; to enforce which, periodical returns of the punishments inflicted were soon required; and, as the human mind always warms in the pursuit of its object, dissatisfaction has now long been freely expressed, where these have been numerous. We rather think, indeed, that we have heard of instances, although we cannot now charge our memory with them, of ships being paid off out of rotation, and recommissioned under other officers, when hints on this subject have appeared to be disregarded. The seamen, on the other hand, already prepared for change by the success of their demands in 1797, (which did not very materially point at innovation in discipline, the old system of which they did not then feel a severe yoke,) were not slow, at the same time, to open their eyes more and more, daily, to its real nature, when they found it clamoured about on one hand, and admitted to be harsh, on the other, on shore; and, as we have just seen, the oldest customs of the service came thus, in succession, to be considered intolerable severities. Placed between the two, commanding officers of the navy had first to subdue their own prejudices, which, in the beginning, as was natural, ran all in favour of the old methods, the traditions of which the traditions of the old Western Squadron, the school in which many of them have been educated, are still favourites in their mouths. They had next, when once got under way by the spirit of the times, to resist the bias which must have inclined many of them to go to excess in acting on the new maxims ;-Sailors seldom do things by halves in any case; and it takes a good deal of ballast to be able to resist the temptation to go all lengths on novel principles, which are at once favoured by inferiors and superiors, and are in themselves plau sible, and even unanswerable in the abstract. Between the two extremes they had then to shape a course, each for himself; for there is not even yet a general principle of relaxation laid down; and in the beginning, the differences of system were accordingly numerous as the ships in commission, and appeared to a practised eye in
It so happened, of necessity perhaps, that when this change was first set a-going, the candle, if we may use so vulgar an image, was almost at once lit at both ends. The Board of Admiralty in commission in 1797, was, of course, very much alarmed at the lengths to which the seamen then went; and the Commissioners of every successive Board since, have had at once to meet the abstract question in Parlia
cessary to calculate that difference so curiously as we then condescended to do; and it is remarkable, that even our naval engagements with the French were about the same period more equally contested than they used to be. But still, these very defeats, by irrita ting at once the seamen and their of ficers, suspended the operation of other agents in the cause; and, had that war continued, we are well persuaded that the tarnish which it seemed to leave on our former laurels would have been well rubbed off. With its termination, however, the assistance derived from it terminated also. Six years have since elapsed; and if the consequences are not now so evident, as formerly, it is either that, in a time of profound peace, the efficiency of our ships does not require to be so minutely looked into; or that, possibly, commanding and inspecting officers are deceived, in some measure, by the reduced allowance of seamen in each ship on the present establishment, and impute those difficulties to want of men, which we are certain proceed from far deeper and more enduring causes; or, finally, and much the most probably, that the worst period of a difficult crisis is already over-a new and vigorous system is replacing an old and worn-out one-its parts are falling imperceptibly into their places, by their own gravity, and already beginning to perform the func tions for which they have been severally provided.
every thing even in dress and rig-
All this, then, we not only admitwe assert it; and we very readily appeal to every competent witness, in
* One captain obliged his officers to wear the old-fashioned cocked hat--another tolerated an opera one—a third, a round—a fourth, a straw—a fifth, a foraging-cap, &c. Coats were cut differently-surtouts were of every pattern-side-arms became so and malous, they were at last made subjects of official regulation. One man was content with royals, as his ship had been fitted from the dock-yard-another had sky-scrapers, moon-rakers, jolly-jumpers, royal and sky-studding-sails besides. One ship had a jiggermast fitted to her spanker another the like, together with a gaff, to her mizen staysail -a third, the same to her main-topmast staysail-a fourth, was gaffs to the mast-head, and perhaps the only course she was in the habit of setting in a convoy was a crossjack or a spritsail. These were not whims in those days; they were really traits of character, marking both individuals and the times. A good observer could then predicate of his friend's disposition literally" from the cut of his jib ;" and Peter Pattieson himself, or other such like chronicler, (O si sic ullus!) need ask no more complicated account of the spirit of the age, than just the fact.
+ In point of fact, one of the articles of charge against the officers to whose case we adverted in our last paragraph, was that they had inflicted unusual and unprecedented punishments on their people; and they were condemned specially on this count, the articles of war only authorizing officers to punish undefined offences" as in such cases is usual at sea."So dangerous is it, even in an innovating age, to innovate against its spirit.
support of our allegations. The bright side of the picture, however, is much more deserving of minute examination than this, its shadow; it is more gratifying at once, and more comprehensive. A few difficulties and embarrassments in the path of a limited number of men, many of whom, we can well believe, have been insensible of their accumulation; and a little temporary inefficiency, of which we cannot even say that fortunately it occurred in a period of comparative tranquillity; for in truth, such a season was necessary to bring it to maturity, and another active war would either again suspend, or hasten it to its final termination-these are cheap equivalents for the prospects to the whole profession with which they seem connected, and of which they are, in our eyes, the harbingers and heralds.
We have already said that the old system did its work excellently well in the time when it was in vigour; and notwithstanding the present unpopularity of such an opinion, we are inuch disposed to generalize the proposition, and maintain that as long as the human mind, either from infancy or want of cultivation, is, as it were, dead within, and can neither guide its actions by a long induction of reasoning, nor trace its transgressions through a series of indirect steps to their ultimate consequences, so long is it for the benefit of all parties that a despotic authority should be lodged in the hands of the chief of the community, and the connexion between crime and punishment kept direct and palpable, by means of summary corporal inflictions. It seems to us quite plain, that there is a period both of human life and human society, when the mind is accessible only to present impressions, communicated chiefly, almost exclusively, through the medium of the animal sensations; when, accordingly, the relative place of individuals is de termined among themselves by their physical powers; and monarchs, masters, and among others sea-captains, must travel to influence over the minds of those intrusted to their care by the same brief road with their companions, if they would not lose their labour. On the other hand, however, it is indisputable that there is a period both of life and civilization when this system will not answer the purpose; when the youth shooting into manhood, the inanı becoming acquainted with his own rea
soning powers, must be led, not driven: and the only difficulty then, is to make the transition. In a community, this should be begun as soon as a sense of shame and indignity is observed to mingle, in the individuals composing it, with a sense of mere pain under the inflictions of the original system, unjustly aggravating their severity; the mind thus called out on one point will presently expand; other and more generous sentiments will develope; and perhaps, an entire change may be effected in all cases, with time and care, and a complete system of moral influence be substituted for every vestige of physical coercion. This at least is certain, that a very considerable approximation to such a revolution may be made in every instance; and assuredly with advantage when it is accomplished, for that authority which merely crushes the wills and tempers of its subjects under its wheels, can never be so effective as that which harnesses them to its car. But then the period when this even commences cannot be the same in all individuals; and still less is it possible that all those vested with authority over others during its progress should have the tact requisite to meet its variations uniformly without mistake. Besides this, the springs of moral influencé, however powerful, are unseen; whereas those of physical coercion are palpable to the grossest observation. The consequence is, that even when most skilfully conducted, this transition must always appear marked with encroachment on one hand, concession on the other; while the smallest precipitation, or want of tact, in either party, will elicit symptoms of discontent and insubordination, uncertainty and vacillation, isolated experiment, and want of concert on the receding side. Although still these accidents, (for they are no more,) unless very much aggravated, in which case it is certain that the transition is prematurely developing, are viewed, not in themselves with favour, but without much regret, by a liberal-minded observer. They always mark an advance made, and yet making, in the scale of civilization: they are bubbles on the surface which only boil over when an undue degree of heat is externally applied: laissez faire les evenemens is the wise maxim concerning them, and the result, in such case, is always gratifying and satisfactory.