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the territory in question, and all the subordinate privileges included in that right. He expressed his astonishment at the unfeeling confidence of ministers, who could thus wantonly renounce every claim to humanity, as well as every attention to the honour of their country, by treating with so much levity and inattention the sufferings of their fellow-subjects, the tortures of British seamen, freed daily, perhaps, by death, from the intolerable miseries of a Spanish dungeon. He could not help expressing his astonishment on the noble lord, who spoke first, offering to explain what he was totally ignorant of, or what being well informed of, he chose to disguise and misrepresent: he was confident, that there was scarcely a single person, but his lordship, that was ignorant that a civil government, dependent immediately on this country, was established near the Black River, on the Musquito shore. It was notorious, that lord Dartmouth while in office, made it an object of his attention; nay, he remembered himself, an old acquaintance, a captain in the guards, since dead, who was appointed here, to that government; he having several conversations with him, after his return, on the subject of that colony, the degree of improvement it was capable of admitting, and its peculiar importance to the West India iii. and to the general trade carried on in that part of the world. Mr. C. Herbert observed, that after all that had been offered, two points were incontrovertible, which went equally against the grounds of the petition, allowing that every single fact contained in it was correctly stated; one was, that administration hitherto had acquitted themselves of. in every thing that depended on them; and that the matter was in a state of negociation; so that supposing the petition intended as a complaint, or as seeking redress from that House, there was not the least foundation for either the complaint, or the redress sought by the petitioner. The question was put, whether the petition should be brought up It passed in the negative.

Debate in the Commons on Mr. Temple Luttrell's Bill for the more easy and effectual Manning of the Navy.] March 11. Mr. Temple Luttrell rose pursuant to notice, and said: It is a fundamental maxim with the excellent writer on the Spirit of Laws, that when any law is proposed which indicates more good than evil to a

[VOL. XIX.]

state, such law ought to be received. The unconstitutional effects, the oppression, and inefficacy of the present mode of levying men for the navy by an impress, are but too sensibly felt by the whole nation. A valuable sea-officer (governor Johnstone), who is a distinguished ornament to this House, and whose private and public character do real honour to human nature, having formerly treated of the practice of impressing, says, “It disgraces government, shocks the spirit of our constitution, and violates the laws of humanity; therefore every plan to obviate the evil, has a claim to a patient hearing and candid discussion.” That worthy member's remarks must, I am sure, strike every body, who duly considers them, as just and forcible. Is it not an abominable sight, in a free country like ours, to have a number of sailors, with fire-arms and cutlasses, frequently, in the dead of night, sometimes intoxicated with liquor, making their way into the dwellings of peaceable inhabitants, o a sober unoffending subject from his home and settled means of livelihood, to convey him on board an impress tender, from thence to a guard-ship, imprisoned amidst the moral and physical contagion of a miscellaneous, kidnapped crew, to be driven across the seas, no mortal can tell him where, nor for how long a time; and what is still worse, seized by surprize, not suffered to bid a kind farewell to his wife and family, nor have a thought of their future subsistence, when deprived of his care; to adopt a new way of life, perhaps that for which his limbs and faculties are the worst calculated and fashioned by his Creator 2 And, Sir, is it not a serious matter of reproach to this wise, this liberal nation, never yet to have provided a remedy for such dreadful and extensive sufferings What tumults, fear, and confusion arise in every city, town, and village, within ten or twelve miles of a press-gang! and what numberless inconveniences to all conditions of persons throughout Great Britain In 1770, the lord mayor of London represented to the board of Admiralty, that the city of London was so infested with press-gangs, that tradesmen and servants were prevented from following their lawful business. A gentleman in Yorkshire, of rank and veracity, (who was formerly a member of this House) sends me word, that such is at this time the general apprehension in that part of England from a press-gang at Tadcaster,

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that the labourers on his estate are dis- milies distressed at home, obtained a dis. persed abroad like a covey of partridges ; charge, as of no use to the service. neither could half of them be brought back Having already cursorily touched on to their work, till the steward had given some of the calamities and unconstituthem assurance of his master's protection ; tional outrages affecting those manufacstill it seems they are afraid to return to turers, mechanics, and husbandmen, who their own homes at night, and therefore never exercised, nor had in contemplation, constantly beg leave to sleep upon straw the trade of a seaman, I must next take a in the stables and out-houses of their land- / short view of your cruelty towards ma. lord. In the west of England, the public riners by profession. They are not only are now so prejudiced by press-gangs, that liable to the same inhuman violence and I have read a letter from Exeter, dated surprize with landsmen, but when seized February 24, which observes, that there on board trading vessels for the purpose had been no fish in their town for upwards of serving his Majesty, are often imposed of a fortnight-a circumstance scarce upon by fraudulent or imperfect bills, on known within the memory of man; and account of wages due to them for past another correspondent of mine paints the hire in the trader's employ. The lives of miseries of the neighbouring coasts, in as many brave officers and their followers strong colours as if there were famine, have been sacrificed, or they have come pestilence, or some other awful visitation off cruelly maimed by this invidious part of Providence-markets deserted, the price of their duty. A multitude of seamen of the most urgent necessaries of life there have been drowned by attempting to swim by greatly enhanced, and numbers of fa- ashore from their ships, or have been shot milics among the inferior classes of man- by the centinels while they endeavoured kind, from the insecurity of the masters of to escape under cover of 'midnight dark. those families, by whose toil and industry ness; being driven to pbrenzy and despair they had long been maintained in comfort, for want even of a shadow of hope, that reduced at once to the verge of poverty they might one day or other be entitled to and wretchedness! How shamefully has a legal discharge. I remember, Sir, one this unconstitutional licence of the impress Robert Fosper, a gunner's mate, belong. been abused at the town of Leicester, ing to the Resolution man of war, who, where men, the most unfit in every re- having been forcibly detained in the King's spect for the sea service, were kidnapped, service, without remission, upwards of 17 collared with iron, and manacled with years, twice endeavoured to hang himself, cords or fetters, sent up lo London, in was cut down, and cruelly restored to the the basket of the stage-coach, (as I under. same endless bondage. Many tragical stand) under command of a serjeant of events, still more decisive than this, occur militia, in violation of the most sacred laws in the private memoirs of your seamen. of your constitution, with a heavy local Some die through a gradual vexation and expence, and to no better end than to despondency; while others, ere they can have them at length put at large, as totally be seized on shore, torture and mutilate incapable of the errand they set out upon their limbs to incapacitate themselves for The animosities within this very metro- the yoke. What havoc is made during polis, on the subject of impressing men for an impress, by fevers and various infecthe navy, and the law-suits depending tious illness! the captive seamen being thereupon in the courts of Westminster- crammed unwholesomely together, or too hall, must occasion much embarrassment | long confined on board an impress-tender. and apprehension. In several of the ports In 1771, during the heat of an impress, along the north-east coast of England, you the number of sick, in Haslar hospital have actually subsisting, a dangerous com- near Gosport, amounted at one time to motion among large bodies of sea.faring | 1418. It has been observed by well-in. · persons, occasioned by many lawless pro- formed authors on maritime customs and

ceedings of the press-gang, and every day's policy, that the ill consequences of a propost brings some new detail of innocent tracted impress have destroyed more Brilives lost, or limbs broken in that quarter. tish seamen than the first two or three Sir, there have been lately no less than years hostilities of a foreign war; and a 120 men pressed, without distinction, in very intelligent writer, (I think it is Dr. or about Bethnal-green and Spital-fields, Lynd) calls the guard-ship stationed at of which between 70 and 80, after suffer- the Nore, for the reception of impressed ing every hardship, and leaving their fa- men, a seminary of contagion to the whole

fleet, by persons from infectious prisons, and covered with cutaneous or putrid eruptions. In 1770, and the beginning of 1771, the officer to whom I am indebted for the better part of the proposed plan, beheld ships from 2 to 300 tons burthen deserted at sea, left only to a master, and perhaps three or four boys; cargoes exposed to perish; the lives on board sported with, and property of owners and insurers in a most perilous state. Near 400 vessels were at that period of time, during a warm impress, in this condition on the open ocean: neither yards lowered, nor topmasts struck; most of them deeply laden, and without strength sufficient to purchase or weigh an anchor, owing to a general apprehension among the sailors of being compelled to go immediately on a foreign voyage, without reasonable expectation of ever being released, and feeling for that pain and anxiety which they were sensible their wives and families must labour under, on their account. There has frequently been given by the owners of ships thus abandoned on the waves, so large a sum as from 25 to 30 guineas, to superannuated sea-faring men, to bring the vessel into a place of safety, while the project of its voyage has been altogether demolished. A very serious danger likewise arises to the public, when seamen, belonging to ships coming home from the Levant, and places accustomed to the plague, break quarantine, and run the risk of a civil law sentence, rather than be pressed to serve an unlimited time, to be sent abroad again without seeing their home or visiting their relations, and allowed no prospect of some final period to their servitude; never, Sir, to rest unmolested on their native soil. A heavy tax usually falls on commerce in general, while an impress rages; partly from the exorbitant pay extorted by sailors, and partly by the detention of ships, for want of men. Consider, too, the numerous poor belonging to sea-faring persons, with which the parishes throughout this kingdom are burthened, during press warrants, or in consequence of an unlimited term of service. Certain I am, that no compulsory propositions, no encouragement nor lure whatever to seamen, no increase of bounty-money will avail so as to supply the numbers necessary for war, without a limitation of the servitude required. Unpopular methods are ever abundantly more tedious and expensive, than those where the people concur with

government; and as with men serving voluntarily, contentment is a natural consequence, so from that contentment must arise a zeal and alacrity, which will render 50 men capable of performing more real service than 70 could accomplish, whose actuating principles are directly repugnant to such spirit and energy. While an impress is in force, besides the high amount of bounties, you are at the charge of employing from 4 to 5,000 seamen on that duty, which, together with the guardships for receiving pressed men, the tenders, and various out-goings, amounts to such a charge, that at a very moderate computation, every impressed man actually retained for service, costs the nation 30l. sterling, besides near as many seamen as are employed in the impress, rendered of little use on the seas, from the necessity there is of putting several of those who can be trusted, into guardships, for security, and sending others on board merchant-vessels in lieu of impressed men. The impress, we know, fails us much in point of number as well as of expedition. The French, by means of a marine register, fit out their ships of war to a certain degree of strength, perhaps near 40 sail of the line, far more expeditiously than we can: this has been proved at the com

mencement of former wars; and hence

you must have been totally destroyed in the East Indies, early in the war which began in 1755, were it not for the extraordinary skill and exertion of your British seamen, and the prowess of sir George Pocock, who repeatedly engaged the enemy, with a force much inferior to theirs. When an alarm of war was sounded throughout Great Britain and Ireland in 1770, press-warrants were issued and continued in execution five months: you then swept the refuse of gaols, and the outcasts of almost every town and hamlet, yet you scarce increased your mariners (officers and servants exclusive, and with

out reckoning marines) to the additional

amount of 8,000. For the naval service of the current year 1777, we have voted 45,000, including 10,000 marines; and the best parliamentary authority that can be so since the weekly accounts have been unwarrantably and unprecedently denied to this House, gave us to hope, nay, to rest assured, that the whole number voted, would be raised by virtue of these so. ; adding, that 40 sail of the ine were to be ready for sea, and com

pletely manned, before the end of Feb

ruary. Sir, those 40 sail of the line must detain, till she was safely moored; the rest require above 24,000 men. We are now of your new fleet repaired to Spithead, in in the month of March-press-warrants in much the same, or worse condition : I beforce between four and five months—we lieve the St. Alban's, of 64 guns, was the have about 14,000 men in Great Britain last of them; she sailed from Portsmouth and upon home service-possibly as many harbour, Feb. 28, and mustered about 177, in North America, and 4,700 employed in including officers, servants, boys, and ragthe Mediterranean and East or West In-gamuffins : for, out of that number, she dies; in all, from 32 to 33,000 men, of had only 24 or 25 able seamen : yet, Sir, which near 10,000 are marines, and more if this want of men were to be supplied by than 7,000 officers or servants :-of the the assiduity or private munificence of the remaining 16,000, we may allow one-third captain who commands her, sure I am, or upwards; say 5,340, to be complete from the general character he bears, there able seamen, and scarce 2,400 of those could be no grounds for so disadvantaare in Great Britain ; the remainder of the geous an allegation as I am now stating, ships' complements are ordinary seamen Numbers alone, whatsoever the levies may or landmen: that is, in Great Britain at prove, seem the primary object with the this day, between 7 and 8,000 sailors of Admiralty, and regulating-captains; that the royal navy; officers of all ranks, ser- an ostentatious account may appear upon vants, &c. and marine-soldiers exclusive. paper, and a plausible one be held forth Such is the fact as to the present state of to parliament and to the nation; yet when your fleet; and it would better become these kidnapped and bludgeoned recruits the wisdom of parliament to remedy the are received on board his Majesty's ships, deficiency, than vainly to endeavour to and found not to answer any good purpose, conceal it from the penetrating observance they are quickly dispatched, as sick, to the of the Bourbon courts, and from their hospital, where they are, from time to agents or emissaries. I do admit that you time, examined by certain commanders of have a goodly show of pendants and the royal navy, who are directed by the streamers waving at Spithead; but, so far admiral at the department, to discharge are they from being formidable, as their all such men as may be found unserviceappearance bespeaks, that your ships able. A friend of mind was lately witness hardly ride secure against the equinoctial to seventy of these poor wretches being gales of the present season; much less are turned adrift in one morning. But, Sir, they in any condition to put to sea, and the custom of manning your navy, by imbid defiance to an enemy: they may serve pressing, can assume no better argument for a May-day pageant, or a pantomime, in its justification than state necessity; a regatta-like parade, during the serene of tyrant plea, which has done such immeathe approaching summer. I expect to be surable mischiefs in the best constituted told, with an air of triumph, that your governments upon earth. Even that plea, guardships have many supernumeraries; weak as it is, with so arbitrary, so savage but this is a mere subterfuge. We an application, could only assume the cohear of supernumeraries, when the men of lour of reason, till some more effectual exwar which bear them by order, actually pedient were discovered. want some hundreds of that complement I presume, Sir, I shall not hear reof seamen, which would be necessary for peated, within these walls, a false and inaction. Of the long list of ships of the jurious idea, sometimes ignorantly advancline commissioned in addition to your for- ed without doors, that compulsion alone mer peace establishment, is there one can insure the public duties of a seaman. manned ? Even the Monarch, that crack. The Bill I am to move leave to bring in, ship of the whole armament, which was so will afford a competent remedy ; it is boasted of, as being the most forward of founded on principles strictly just and your supposed fleet of observation, how constitutional; replete with honour and was she fitted at Portsmouth ? Chiefly by economy to the public, and according to those riggers, whom the zeal and activity the present establishment of your feet, of the commander induced him to employ, will save the nation a very considerable out of dock hours, at his own private sum annually. The Bill is advantageous charge, to equip her for a Spithead to the masters and owners of merchant voyage. And how was she got thither, ships, as well as to all persons whatever when ready? By the seamen from other concerned in commerce; it is highly beships; which seamen she was obliged to neficial to the sailor, by augmenting his

wages, limiting his time of service, and providing for him under the infirmities of age. Your seamen will henceforward be plenty in number, more healthful and vigorous, better qualified in their profession, rendered comfortable and content; and that valuable body of subjects, to whose unparalleled address and exploits on the guardian element of your empire, the whole British community owe freedom, opulence, and martial renown, be no longer the only slaves under the sanction or connivance of law, at least on this side of the Atlantic. The principles and provisions on which the Bill is founded, have been thoroughly canvassed and approved of, by the most respectable professional gentlemen—many merchants, proprietors of trading and ceasting vessels, and private mariners; which will be made evident by the original letters and testimonials I have in my hand; and some of which I shall, ere I sit down, take the liberty of reading to the House. With respect to the inventing and arranging this plan, it is chiefly the production of a most ingenious sea officer, who has had the experience of near 28 years, either in the royal navy or merchant's employ; a love of his profession, of his country, and some heart-felt sensibility, for the sufferings of his fellow-subjects, were the motives which first induced him (near seven years ago) to the pursuit of so great and desirable an object. The considerable space of time during which he was heretofore employed to raise men for the navy, made him an eye-witness to those scenes of general calamity, and of private wrong and hardship, which shocked his nature; he therefore has sedulously devoted his talents, ever since 1770, to prepare and accomplish this public-spirited task; his constitution and his circumstances have been much impaired by the journies he has made to several ports in this kingdom, with a view to ascertain the interests and opinions of navy people universally; besides the cost of a voluminous correspondence by letter, on the subject: and, Sir, whatever may be the fate of this Bill, suf. ficient praise can scarce be given to his zeal, and useful tables of calculation, or to the diffidence, patience, and persevering temper of mind, with which he has (under much discouragement) submitted to vavious strictures and additions to his work, and by which he has profited, so as to bring it to a perfection beyond his most sanguine hopes; yet, however confident

he or I may feel ourselves, from the encomiums that have been bestowed upon it, by the most intelligent authorities, we are still aware, that some particular articles contained in this Bill may be found to want amendment, when it comes before a committee of the House: presuming only on the propriety and urgent expediency of its principles and general designs, we shall cheerfully submit its minuter form and correction to the judgment of the legislature; but however, Sir, when we are to debate it clause after clause, I have the vanity to flatter myself, I shall be able to obviate many an apparent obstacle, which naturally may arise to very discerning understandings, at first sight. Reason, justice, the good of the nation, the voice and wishes of all descriptions of persons, plead loudly in favour of such a Bill ; and, I hope no partial enmity or jealousy, no party spleen, no official recision or diminution of perquisites at any board, will raise up enemies for its destruction. I believe there is not an independent gentleman here, but feels a strong repugnance to the iniquitous, unconstitutional mode of pressing, now in use, and perceives the immediate jeopardy in which your inferior manufacturers, artisans, and husbandmen, stand in every part of the realm. These considerations, I trust, Sir, will tend to accelerate a remedy. At present there will be no occasion for me to enter further on the principles of the Bill at large, nor its constituent sections, than to produce proofs of the very favourable opinions by which it is upheld without these doors, by the most eminent commercial and professional characters, and to evince the sense which the common sailors have of its utility and salutary operations, if carried into a law. When I consider, Sir, the great loss we have of late unhappily sustained of our most flourishing marine murseries—of that continual influx of seamen, from the population and extensive commerce of the North American colonies; when I consider too, this same important addition to our former power, thrown henceforward into the adverse scale of whatever potentate shall, justly or unjustly, first wage war against us, I cannot but be convinced that our salvation, as a people, depends upon some effectual method of expediting our naval equipments, and rendering them truly formidable, by giving due encouragement to able marines, and inducing the lower orders to train up their children in a profession which constitutes

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