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and he only took it up as a matter of state; / considerable augmentation of force, as the nor had he any objection whatever to the removal of 10 or 12,000 stand of arms hon. gentleman in office proceeding as he from the Tower to Whitehall, if his Mathought proper ; but, by what had fallen jesty had no prospect of being able to from the gentleman who pressed the de- raise the men who were to use them. Till tail, he understood that the distribution within these sixty or seventy years last only was what he sought.
past, it was the uniform business of parliaMr. Burke remarked, with great seve ment to specify the rates of the ships of rity, upon the attempts now made to hold war to be employed, and the pumber of back every thing which had the least ap vessels of each distinct rate. Now, indeed, pearance of information.
that part of the naval arrangement was enLord Mulgrave supported the objection trusted wholly to the executive power of of his learned friend. He treated the con- the state: yet, to commission men of war duct of king William as a conduct not at for a costly, useless parade, when they all applying to the present subject matter could not possibly be sent to sea, was of debate. He said the magnanimity and highly reprehensible in the ministers for candour attributed to that monarch was our marine department. By his calcula. the effect of policy, not of magnanimity; tion, the seamen and marines employed at it was done, most probably, to mislead his this time in the naval service, scarcely enemies, not to put them on their guard, exceed the 45,000 provided by parliament and into a state of preparation. He said, for the service of the current year; and to be sure it was a matter of no conse- he was sure it would be demonstrated, by quence. The French are well acquainted the returns lately moved for, that at Midwith our force, and its particular distribu. summer-day last they were fewer by many tion : he was glad they knew it: he be- thousands than the number for which the lieved it was the best security for a conti- nation had been charged. The fleet in nuance of their pacific dispositions.
America might possibly muster about Mr. Temple Luttrell began by observing 14,000 men, and he would allow between that his Majesty, in the Speech from the 5 and 6,000 more for the East and West throne, the first day of the session, had in- Indies, Mediterranean station, discoveries formed parliament, " that he had thought in the South seas, &c. Are there consiit advisable to make a considerable aug- derable more than 26,000 men now emmentation to the naval force;" and the ployed at home for the defence of this Commons, in their Address thereupon, country? If not, explain to parliament “ acknowledge, with equal gratitude, his what is meant by the naval augmentation Majesty's attention to the security of his so much applauded by the House of Comkingdoms, and the protection of the exten- mons. sive commerce of his subjects, in his hav- ! He had found, upon a thorough and ing made a considerable augmentation to candid investigation of the subject, that his naval force, on which the reputation our present ministers for the important and importance of this realm must ever department of the navy, who commenced principally depend." He did not find this their boasted administration in error, preaugmentation of the naval force particu- judices and shameful prostitutions, conti. Jarly noticed in the Address of the other nued it to this very hour on principles of House; he hoped and expected some one obstinacy, extravagance and deceit. He man belonging to the group of ministers would not trouble the House with a te. facing him would rise up and shew to the dious detail of trifling complaints, but enHouse what considerable augmentation deavour to make some material observahad actually been made in the royal fleet; tions upon the constructing, arming, mancarrying, at the same time, in his recol- ning and stationing the ships and vessels lection, that 45,000 men, including ma- of the royal navy now in commission. The rines, had been voted above a twelvemonth first article, which took in the materials ago, and paid for by the nation, at ihe rate for ship-building, he should say very little of 46. per month each man, ever since the to at present; it would require a day of 1st of January, 1777. He presumed, that consideration entirely to itself; and unless to convey the empty hulls of ships, with some better method for seasoning and preout any essential article of military equip- serving ship-timber was speedily found out, ment, a few miles down a river, or into a notwithstanding the illiberal reflections dock, or along-side any of the royal yards, that had been repeatedly cast on the poble could with as little propriety be deemed a earl's predecessor in office for not having
been more successful in his attention to this object, he would venture to predict that the men of war built within these last seven years would scarce be longer lived than those built by lord Hawke, although the very advanced expence which had been allowed to the present board for timber went far beyond all former precedents. The Staten oak, for which the Admiralty seems to have a very strong partiality, and which, by very intelligent persons, has been often proved not to answer the purposes to which they have applied it, is yet in use: ships of the larger class have been repaired with that oak, and it has failed. I am credibly informed that the Mars, of 74 guns, found this timber so spungy and unserviceable that, while riding at anchor in the Downs, she was under the necessity of quoining, or wedging her guns, to prevent the bolts from drawing out ; and where the Staten wood has been introduced to plank the decks of ships of war, the rain has, in bad weather, penetrated through its pores and crevices, and sometimes only on washing the decks, the water has dript in, even to the hammocks in which the seamen sleep. With respect to arming your fleet, when the House shall examine into the government contracts for armed vessels, this subject may, with propriety, be more dwelt upon. I shall just now express my satisfaction, however, that the contract for Scotch cannon is at an end; and those cannon are at length ordered to be converted into shot. Perhaps, in the country where they are made, people know a secret for firing them without bursting: with us, they have only served to kill our own sailors, whose ill fate it has been to be quartered at them. The manning of the royal navy is the grand point now immediately under your consideration. After every exertion for two years, by bounties and lure of American captures, to find seamen enough for the establishments voted by parliament, an impress was held necessary. When a very illustrious sea-commander presided at the Admiralty, in 1770, between the September in that year, and the beginning of February following, there were completely equipped and manned for war 35 ships of the line. In 1755, when lord Anson presided at the board, our impress was rather more expeditious in its ef. fects, or America had been long ago an appendage to France. Your bounties procure few good sea[VOL. XIX.]
men; your press-warrants, though enormously expensive, fewer still; while great numbers are daily deserting from your ships and hospitals, to commit robberies and murders in the interior counties; and this must ever be the case, where men are kidnapped into a way of life they are perhaps totally unfit for, or with which they become disgusted. Neither humanity in the commanders of your men of war, nor a withholding of any arrear of pay, can tie them down to a continuance aboard beyond the first fair opportunity of escaping. I am assured that 50 have lately deserted from the Monarch while in dock, 40 from the Hector, and 25 from the Worcester; six of these are confined at Winchester for felonies, and there are two committed to Exeter gaol on a charge of murder. We have been confidently assured by the noble lord at the head of the Admiralty, that there are 35 ships of the line, with their full war complements, ready to put to sea. Notwithstanding the stamp of such high credit and dignity, I will defy the gentlemen of the Admiralty who hear me, to produce a list of 20 ships of the line out of the 35, fit to put to sea, with their war establishment aboard. You have 42 of the line, we are told, in commission; that seven of these being lately taken in hand, have but very few seamen; that the aforesaid 35, have 18,173. Now, Sir, your six men of war out of the 35 carrying 90 guns, two men of war of 80, and twenty of 74 guns each, dispose entirely of the aforesaid number, allowing but their very lowest war-complement. That the Ardent, Bedford and other ships are wellmanned, I readily admit; but what is the strength, or rather weakness, of the Resolution, Terrible, and half a score of the rest ? Let us consider the state of the Worcester, a ship which has been many years in commission, and I suppose was as well equipped for service as .. others, or she would scarcely have been chosen to go abroad last summer with the governor of Gibraltar. Being a 64 gun ship, she ought to have had 500 men, yet she sailed with but 387, and she could never have been manoeuvred, had she not quartered and guarded her American prisoners ; only eight men properly qualified to do duty on the forecastle could be found, out of
about 100 were fitter for Greenwich hos- | the protection of these realms, 26,000 men pital than for duty. This Worcester man actually employed, deduct the commission of war employed the Sweepstakes tender, and warrant officers, marines, servants, at a charge of between 6 and 7001. per carpenters and gunners crews, widowsann. to impress hands, and after two cruizes men, &c. how many will remain ? Perhaps in the channel got one man only.
about 4,500 able and 4,500 ordinary seaWe are, however, comforted with an men. That part of your crews properly assurance from government, that the Bri- | called landsmen may be 6,000 in addition, tish fleet is far more powerful in its pre- and the major part under the last denomisent condition than the combined naval nation are but poor wretches indeed! A force of the House of Bourbon. I think word to the lenity of the impress : was it the salvation of this empire depends upon not exerted with such rigour on the river our soon finding the means to render it so; | Thames, and its neighbourhood, that your but I am confident it cannot be done by outward bound autumnal fleets have been the present commissioners of the Admi- in general cruelly distressed for want of ralty with their press-warrants, and never- hands? In some of the distant and inending servitude. Is it to be supposed that land parts even landsmen have not been the ministers of Paris, or the American spared; eight were pressed out of an harplenipotentiaries at the French court, are vest field in the west of England, not one ignorant of the real state of your navy ? , of which had ever used the sea. Will any Ör that these official impositions fabri. prerogative lawyer in the House maintain cated near Whitehall, have any better ope- the legality of such an act as this? Is ration than the deluding and lulling into a there a scalping, tomahawking advocate of fatal security the infatuated part of our the present bloody-minded men in office own fellow subjects? Believe me, Sir, it facing me, that will declare such execucan never be. The Spaniards at the port tions of the impress-warrants to be justiof Carthagena are able to send out, within fied on any principle of our law and conthree weeks, 12 or 13 sail of the line of stitution, or even by that old supplemental battle, at Cadiz 14 or 15 sail, and at least plea of a pretended state-necessity ? We 8 or 9 at Ferrol. The French at Toulon have seen third-rate men of war cruizing might furnish 14 or 15, and at Brest and in the chops of the channel and Irish seas, Rochfort 17 or 18 ships of the line. . Now, while convoys of 100 sail and upwards should the courts of Madrid and Versailles have been protected only by small sloops chuse to detach combined squadrons to the and armed merchantmen. East and West Indies from their Mediter. After what I have said, I would not be ranean departments, and keep their men of supposed to give my negative to an aug. war in the ports of the Bay of Biscay, ready mentation of the naval force; we must prepared for home and channel service, and have a much stronger fleet, or the nation just in the neighbourhood of these islands, will tremble for its existence. But, Sir, dare you with that formidable land-army, there will, in the course of the winter and which the French have on the coasts of spring months, be a very large deficiency Normandy, Picardy, and French Flan. to supply, occasioned by deaths, deser. ders, while Great Britain and Ireland are tions, and natural infirmities. Begin by utterly defenceless as to land-troops. completing your numbers, if practicable, Dare you, I say, attempt to send out a to 55,000; let the nation pay for no more naval armament sufficient to protect your till these are bona fide in your employ; it islands and settlements abroad, to secure will be then time enough, if the councils your trade, to save lord Howe's feet of 1 of state, from the complexion of foreign frigates and small craft, to cover Gibraltar politics, shall find it requisite, to add 6,000 and Mahon, and at the same time to cruize / more, and complete the establishment against the commerce of the enemy? You to 60,000. But, Sir, I should think it know it is impossible. Great Britain, atrociously improvident in us now to vote united with America, is, I admit, more supplies for paying 60,000 men at 4l. per than 'a match at sea for the French and month ; the said allowance to government Spaniards joined together; but, with your | fully to commence from the 1st Jan. 1778. American colonies allied to those powers, I am at present for a supply equal to we must, with all the heroism of our offi- 50,000 men only, at the utmost. cers and seamen, inevitably be crushed in Mr. Buller understood that the gentlethe conflict.
men on the other side seemed contented Suppose you have, at this moment, for with the distribution only, and the gross
numbers of men. He said, there were one fourth rate, two fifth rates, four sixth rates, six sloops, and two schooners, at Jamaica; and one fourth rate, and four sloops, on their way thither, in all 23 vessels, manned by 3,100 seamenand marines. That at the Leeward islands, there were eight vessels, and 1,200 men; that on discoveries, there were two vessels, and 480 men ; that in America under lord Howe, there were 93 ships, six of the line, and 87 frigates, &c. and 17,685 men: at Newfoundland 10 vessels and 1,345 seamen, and that there were at home, 42 ships of the line, 35 of which were completely manned, and 32,397 seamen ; and that our whole naval force consisted of 54 ships of the line, all manned but seven, and 205 frigates, &c. and 53,872 men, marines included. Mr. Bayly was surprised to hear the hon. gentleman assert, that there were 18 men of war on the Jamaica station, and five others on their passage thither, containing 3,100 seamen ; when by the latest advices from thence, he was informed that the inhabitants had applied to the admiral for a convoy, who replied he could not then grant one, on account of the weak situation of his squadron; nor could he fix any time for doing it, until he was reinforced with more ships from England; and as to the five which were said to be on their o to Jamaica, not one of them had yet left Portsmouth. The fact was, that there were only five or six vessels of war on the Jamaica station, and which were all sloops of very small force, except the Antelope and one frigate; so that to judge of the state of the navy from the hon. gentleman’s exaggerated account of the Jamaica station, must give the House a melancholy idea of it. He called on the hon. gentleman to mention the names of those 23 men of war, and said, that he would, on any day, prove there were not half the number; and so sure he was of it, from the many accounts he had received, that he was ready to lay Mr. Buller 23 guineas, or 2,300, that he could not prove half the number of vessels of war to be on that station; or that those that were there contained half the 3,100 men; and his reason, he said, for proposing such a wager was, that he thought the loss would be a just punishment upon him who was guilty of the wrong assertion. Mr. Buller entered more fully into detail, relative to the home defence. As to the deficiencies, he presumed there were
none; but if there were, the present mode of informing the House differed in nothing from what was usual. Instead of a deficiency, there were now on the books 9,000 men more than the vote of the last session provided for; and 10,000 at the beginning of the year; and in September last 54,000 instead of 45,000: and so far from the nine months press being ineffectual, and not producing more than 3 or 4,000, it actually produced upwards of 15,000 men. Sir Hugh Palliser affirmed, as an officer and an official man, that we had 35 ships of the line; and were an overmatch both for the present, and in point of preparation, for the united power of the House of Bourbon. He attacked Mr. Luttrell on his account of the Spanish navy, charging him with ignorance of the subject, and said, if the hon. gentleman’s assertions were founded in truth, that we had no more than 20 men of war of the line actu-s ally ready to face an enemy, he need not have employed so much time to prove, that France and Spain meant to attack us; for the fact would be, that they would have already done it. Lord Mulgrave, as a proof of the injudicious conduct of the French and Spaniards, and how much our mode of pressing was superior to their registers, said, that no merchantmen from any port of France or Spain could be fitted out or procure hands, but by the permission of government. The captains or masters were obliged to apply to the Bureau, an office or board somewhat answering to the description of our Custom-house; there they received not such hands as they chose, or knew were able seamen, but such as the , Bureau pleased; the seamen being all retained by the king, who generally took care to keep the most skilful. He informed the House of a particular fact, which came within his own knowledge, when out on his last cruize. He met with a French trading vessel in imminent distress; he gave her all the assistance in his power, without which she must have perished. After she had been set to rights, the master came aboard him, and he asked him how it happened, when he had 32 men aboard, that he came through mere want of skill and ability to be driven to such straights? “Because” replied the Frenchman, “I have had my hands from the Bureau, who gave me the very refuse, and kept all the good seamen for the use of the royal navy.” Indeed, the truth is,
that every man there, if the expression may be allowed, is pressed in his mother's womb ; maritime districts within a certain distance of the coast, are subject to the regulations of the register; and the inhabitants are enrolled, and liable to be called upon, when fit for service, to go aboard the king's ships. His lordship besides contended, that the 35 of the line were much superior to the whole naval force the House of Bourbon were able to send forth, at any short notice ; that though they had many able sea-officers, who in the beginning exerted themselves, at length it always was, and always would be the case, that they must give way to our superior skill and naval power. They had frequently the advantage in the beginning, but in the progress of their naval operations, proved always unequal. He complained of the infidelity of the hon. gentleman who spoke so fully on the subject; and said, it put him in mind of the Sceptic philosopher, who denied the existence of motion, at the moment he got up and walked across the room. He censured Mr. Luttrell’s not mentioning the officer of the press-gang who took the landsmen. With regard to the rottenmess of the ships, the fact had now no existence; indeed, when it was found necessary to arm about six or seven years ago, several ships, which had been built at the close of the last war on a violent emergency, were found decaying ; but this had long ago been rectified; and he averred, that the hon, member might go through Europe, and not see 35 ships of the line in all their ports by any means equal to those now mentioned. As to the French, he had no doubt individually they would do every thing men ought to do; but France, as a maritime country, was in every respect despicable with respect to this; that, to be sure, its early efforts were seasonable and spirited, but afterwards it gradually fell off, till its maritime force dwindled into nothing; whereas this country grew progressively stronger, and he trusted, would ever bid defiance to any naval power that should oppose it. The hon. member had first decried the severity of naval commanders, as the cause of frequent desertion; and, in the same breath, complained of a great desertion, caused by the indulgence of a commander, in giving his men liberty to go on shore; though no name had been mentioned, his lordship said, the person alluded to (for he hated charges without
names) was captain Rowley, of the Monarch, a humane, good officer, who did not choose to make his crew slaves; and that the desertion complained of produced a good effect: the health of the rest was preserved by it, as the service was freed from a number of men not to be depended on. As to impressing the harvest-men, they were perhaps seamen; if they were not, there was a remedy for them at law. He hated to make a charge, and conceal the name of the offender. It was transferring the imputation from particulars to generals, by a new mode of logic—a sea officer had committed an offence—a sea officer is any sea officer—any sea officer is every sea officer, ergo, the whole nav is guilty of the charge imputed to an individual amongst them. This single argument will serve as an instance of the hon. gentleman’s mode of reasoning. Mr. Temple Luttrell answered the last noble lord with great asperity; spoke much of insolence and indecency; and said, he could always find his way to and from the House direct; and if any thing improper, or which required explanation, had fallen from him, or should hereafter escape him, he was always to be found, and ready to be responsible for it. He was liable to error as well as other men; but never asserted any thing which he did not believe to be true. He observed, that the noble lord was as fat and merry as he was zealous. He could easily account for his zeal, from his connections with the first lord of the Admiralty; but after every thing the noble lord asserted to the contrary, he defied any official man to rise and say, that the whole of our seamen appointed to the manning of the line of battle ships, would furnish, for actual service, twenty men of war of the line with the proper war complement. He charged the noble lord with great disingenuity, in misrepresenting what he said, relative to the desertion of the men from aboard the Momarch, the Hector, and the Worcester. As to the Monarch, the righthon. member had endeavoured to stretch a relation of a mere matter of fact, to an imputed censure of the commander, captain Rowley. He never meant any such thing; he was as ready to give that worthy officer credit for his humanity as the noble lord; but he mentioned it only to shew the dislike to the service which prevailed, and the great want of men in consequence of that dislike. Mr. James Luttrell rose, to defend his brother on a point of seamanship, which