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cause which that great man came to defend. men, and their number, &c. from which he The next year the affair off Bantry, on the drew this inference, that when we talked of coast of Ireland, shewed, that where the insuring success, we should procure the French were more numerous they became only certain means of securing it; that of a victorious. The year after again, off Bea- superiority in point of number of ships, chy-head, the same cause produced a like fullness of complement, weight of metal, effect; the English feet was vanquished ; &c. Was that the case at present? they ran for the Thames; and so great was Most certainly not. Our enemies were the panic on that occasion, that they made much more numerous and better manned. to the river, and pulled up all the buoys, His grace then enumerated the various for fear the enemy would have pursued services for which our fleets would be them. At La Hogue again, in 1692, the wanting, in the case of a war. For the action in which the naval power of France Mediterranean and Channel service, to was first broken, there the English had the protect our trade to the westward; for the superiority in point of number, in the pro- protection of the West India islands, East portion of 100 line of battle ships to 70. In Indies, and the coast of Africa. He con1704 again, the numbers were equal; so tended, and called upon the noble lord at was the fate of the day. So it was at Ma- the head of the Admiralty to contradict laga. In later times, in the action off Tou- him, if he would pledge himself to the lon, in 1743, where he was present, the House, that 28 or 31, or even almost double English fleet was superior, and though we the number of ships of the line, considerdid not gain a complete victory, we gained ing the force now in the French and Spathe day. The French convoyed the Spa- nish ports, would be sufficient to answer nish fleet safely into Barcelona, and, not those different services. Supposing, with withstanding our utmost efforts, it was not the noble lord, that instead of the 35 ships in our power to prevent them. And here of the line for home defence, we had the 42 he wished to set the noble earl at the head spoken of, nay more, that every ship in of the Admiralty right, respecting his as- commission, which, as he understood, sertion, that a fifty-gun ship was not deem- amounted to 51, he would desire to know, ed of the line of battle ; for he assured if in the opinion of the noble lord, even that his lordship, that he commanded a ship of force would be sufficient to contend with that rate off Toulon; that he was ordered the united strength of France and Spain ? into the line the day before the engage- He was sure the noble lord would not ment, ordered out of it the next day, and say so. . again ordered into the line on the following As well as condemning the official maday. In the engagement between Anson nagement of the navy, he highly arraigned and Warren, and the French fleet, in which the arrangements of the Admiralty board; we proved victorious, in 1747, we had a particularly in sending out eight ships of superiority of 14 to 8; so we had in the the line under a captain, while there were succeeding engagement, between the pre- no less than 51 admirals on the list. This sent lord Hawke the next year. In 1759, might be productive of some fatal consein the affair with Conflans, the force was quences. "If, as he understood, this fleet pretty nearly equal : but then it did not was sent to interrupt the commerce become to a fair trial of skill, for the French tween France and America ; and if, in admiral ran without waiting the event. consequence of any such interruption, an The only instances within the period de- engagement should ensue, and the eldest scribed, in which the mere skill and prowess captain or commodore fall in the action, of the English navy prevailed, were in two the English fleet would probably be deengagements, between admiral sir George stroyed, for there being no regular com. Pocock and the French, in the East Indies, mand established, the next captain, should when with equal numbers we proved vic- his senior fall or be wounded, would not torious. He begged, however, not to be know how to give the proper signals, and misunderstood; he believed the English of course every thing must fall into the utseamen would do their duty, and, upon any most confusion. He added further, that thing near an equality, would conquer, besides the impropriety of trusting the when the fate of the day depended on those | command of a squadron to a captain, while circumstances : but there were many other there were so many flag officers unemmatters very foreign to those particular ployed, the want of our frigates was most circumstances; the cleanness of the ships, sensibly felt ; for, instead of having frigates their state and condition, the health of the stationed in the Bay, in order to pick up

the small American privateers, and to interrupt the illicit commerce carried on between our colonies and France, we were obliged, at a great expence, and to very little purpose, to send our 74's on that service, where in the present inclement season of the year, their sides were beating to pieces, one half of their crews distempered, and their stores, rigging, &c. going to ruin. On the last head, respecting the frigates, his grace was equally strong and pointed. A want of frigates, was, in his opinion, much to be lamented. It was the great source of the calamities we felt, in relation to our commerce, and if a war should break out, would be doubly felt. But it was not even the want of them, however great it might be, but the deception attempted to be put on the House by the papers on the table; those stated them at 34 ; whereas the truth was, that they amounted in reality to no more than 11, the rest being sloops, yachts, &c.. He observed, if the deception was reprehensible, the purchase of several of them was much more so: they were bought from private persons at a most exorbitant price, upon what motives he would not pretend to determine; one of them in particular, now called the Panther, formerly a cat in the northern trade, was purchased at the enormous sum of 7,000l. when, according to her tonnage, and real value, she was worth no more than 3,500l. at the most. So it was in several other instances, which, he said, he forbore to mention. His grace pointed out the absurdity and bad policy of using foreign timber in buildings and repairs; and if a trial was to be made, censured the conduct of those at the head of naval affairs, who, instead of making an experiment, ordered no less than 20 ships of the line at once to be repaired by foreign timber. He said, that probably there was not one of those ships, if employed in actual service, that would not be found rotten and totally unfit for service, as was the case with the Mars, which, after being under repair for three years, was obliged to be condemned, and ordered to be broke up, though she cost the nation upwards of 33,000l. He observed, that the noble lords opposite, when the weakness of our military defence was mentioned, said our navy was invincible. His grace contended, that even superiority would not insure success, because unforeseen events, or cross accidents, might unexpectedly turn the scale; much less so,

when France and Spain had a fleet nearly in the proportion of two to one. He begged, therefore, that the noble lord would make good his promise to that House and the public, that our fleet should be always superior to that of France and Spain united, which he had uniformly asserted was necessary; or fairly confess, that no such necessity existed, and that consequently, with an inferior army and inferior fleet, a ruined trade and dismembered empire, we were nevertheless more than a match for the united power of the House of Bourbon. He concluded with a severe reprehension of administration, for their conduct towards their generals in America. He supposed the British troops were like the British seamen, they could not perform impossibilities. If they could prevail with equal numbers, it was as much as could be expected from them. General Howe was blamed for not conquering America; he was recalled, because he did not; they said, he was a most able general; with an army of 15,000 men he went to attack as great a general as himself, Mr. Washington; he durst not attempt it, because the latter was strongly intrenched and advantageously posted. So it may be found in case of a war; the British admirals and sailors would do every thing that could be expected from brave and able seamen, but they could not perform impossibilities; with good clean ships, well manned, and equal in numbers, they might come off victorious; but that was all that could be rationally expected: and if one of the ablest seamen in this country, and one for whom the noble earl seemed to entertain the highest opinion (though a little man, yet ossessing a great soul) were consulted, or interrogated at the bar, he would venture to answer that his reply would be (without making himself responsible for events beypnd the power of human policy, and out of the reach of human prediction) that he hoped the British fleet would always conuer. His grace then moved the first of i. following Resolutions: 1. “That it appears to this House, that 83 of his Majesty's ships and vessels of war, exclusive of fire-ships, bomb vessels, store ships, and small craft, bought up in America, have been employed there since the year 1774; that the complements of the above-said ships and vessels, marines included, amounted to 22,337 men; out of which number have been lost by desertion 1,969, by captivity 417, by death and ren

dered unserviceable 1,928; and therefore other was, to purchase foreign timber, and that the whole loss of seamen and marines thereby break the monopoly of the timber belonging to the above-said ships and ves- merchants. Here his lordship deviated sels amounts to 4,314 men. 2. That 42 into a long detail, relative to the East Inships of the line of battle are now in com- dia Company, the iniquity of the ships mission in Great Britain, and on home husbands, &c. When he came to preside service. 3. That a considerable number at the head of the Admiralty, the timber of the said 42 ships of the line of battle merchants had entered into a combination ; are not manned, nor fit for sea. 4. That in consequence of which they not only 11 frigates, 14 sloops, and 11 cutters, are raised the price of timber, but compelled now in commission in Great Britain for the Company to take 17,000 loads of home service, and that they are short of timber yearly more than they had any complement upon the whole number 397 | real demand for. He immediately saw men. 5. That his Majesty's ship Panther the necessity of breaking this combination, of 50 guns, and Andromeda frigate, are between the timber merchants and ships also in commission, but not manned ; and husbands, to enhance the value of timber that there are also in commission four of on one hand, and to rob the East India his Majesty's yachts, mustering 159 men, Company on the other; which was, in seven store ships, six of which appear to fact, to effect the ruin of the nation, and have been lately purchased into the King's employ the Company as the instrument, service, and eight hired armed ships, of merely to enrich a few avaricious, unwhich no returns appear to have been principled indiyiduals. To put a stop to made by the officers who command them.” so iniquitous a procedure, he was the

The Earl of Sandwich directed his reply means of carrying a Bill for restraining the chiefly to two points ; to a detection of tonnage of the East India Company, and some particulars stated by his grace, and reducing it from 60,000 tons and upwards, to an eulogium on his own administration. to 45,000, and ordered at the same time On the first head, his lordship said, that 15,000 loads of foreign timber to be purthe number of ships of war under lord chased: by which the combination was Howe were mis-stated, for that 10 frigates soon dissolved; when the timber merhad been sent to America since the last chants were deprived of their artificial returns were made ; that the line of battle vent in one instance with the Company, ships in commission were not 42, but 51; and discovered that the navy could be one of which being unfit for service, left supplied independently of them in the 50 of the line in commission ; that was, other. By these means he had preserved 35 completely manned, seven formerly in the native timber from the ravages of the commission, to man which, we had already Company, and laid in such a stock of 3,000 seamen and marines, and nine put foreign timber, as had enabled us to proin commission, since the papers were ; cure enough of native growth: so that inmoved for. He contended, that 600 stead of 13,000 load, which was the stock men' were a full war complement for a in bands at all the yards, we had now 74 ; and that of course, if affairs should 64,000 load, or a stock of three years conmake it necessary, we should be able, in a sumption, in the space of a little more few days, to proceed to sea with 42 ships than six months. The advantages of of the line completely manned and equips which were, that we could, if occasion reped. On the second head, he said, when quired, not only build faster, but build of he came to preside at the Admiralty seasoned timber, not subject to the ravages board, our navy was in a most ruinous, of the salt water, worms, change of clicondition : but that was not all; the mates, &c. which green timber was always point of ever being able to build or repair known to be. He said, it was ridiculous was despaired of, was given up. The to affirm, that all foreign timber was bad, ships built of green timber, in the heat of the contrary was notorious. If because it the late war, had all rotted. In such a had failed in the repair of the Mars, that state of national distress, what was to be would be a reason to reprobate the use of done? He turned his thoughts seriously it; as weil might we reprobate that of native to the subject, and devised two expedients. growth, because ships built of native timHe procured a Bill to be passed, to re- ber rotted, which was the case in respect strict the East India Company to build no of the Ardent; yet, that single instance, more than a certain number of tons an- which would be exactly similar to the innually, (from 60,000 to 45,000); the ference made by the noble duke, would be

no good ground to conclude, that all English timber was bad, or subject to immediate decay. He reported several instances of foreign timber proving equal to the best of British growth; particularly the Foudroyant, taken from the French in 1758, and at the end of 20 years had received but one repair, and now was as fine and sound a ship as any in the navy. The same was the case with the Alarm, and another frigate, drove into Marseilles in distress, where they received a repair, and still continued in the best condition. His lordship confessed that the trade had suffered, but that inconvenience could not be remedied; it was a consequence of the mode of carrying on the war in Ame. rica: frigates were necessary for that service; and if we could have had more to employ on the several stations alluded to by the noble duke, most surely our trade would have been better protected. He assured the noble duke, that he would not have employed large ships as cruizers in the Bay, if he could have helped it: but the alternative was not, will you or will you not use those vessels? but, will you use those or none There was no arguing against necessity; and though there was a want of frigates, for the reasons already assigned, the deficiency was not so great as had been stated by the noble duke; for notwithstanding there might be no more frigates on the immediate home service, there were no less than 50 employed on other services, besides those stationed in America: but he denied that the want of cruizers had been the occasion of the rapid decline of the African trade. The fact was, that that branch of commerce had been overdone; that the trade was on the decrease for several years before the troubles with America broke out, and must be nearly in its present state if they never had. As soon, and as far as circumstances would admit, cruizers had been stationed in the proper latitude: admiral Young, at Barbadoes, had detached from his squadron a ship of considerable force for that purpose; admiral Dayrell, lately appointed to succeed him, had instructions of a similar nature; and if our trade had suffered, either in that, or any other quarter, no blame was imputable to him ; it proceeded solely from the cause first assigned, that the frigates were necessarily destined to another service. But taking the facts to be just as his grace had stated them, he could not deserve censure; he acted ministe

rially; the measures were deliberated upon elsewhere; and if he did his duty, as obeying the orders he received, he was by no means responsible for the events. Earl Gower said, the delicate situation the noble earl who spoke last stood in, was a sufficient reason for his not putting a negative on the resolution: for his part, he thought at so critical a period as the present, it would be extremely improper to expose the state of our navy to our foreign enemies. The proposed resolutions were totally unnecessary; and if agreed to, though productive of no other ill, might be the occasion of throwing the people into a consternation, and create ... apprehensions. On this ground he should move, that the chairman do leave the chair. The Earl of Bristol. Though I have for some time been fully prepared for this particular stage of the enquiry; though till within these three or four days, I have waited with great impatience to go into every branch of the navy; yet, my lords, I shall now forbear. The noble duke who first agitated this enquiry, has fully convinced me of the state of our forces at home and abroad, and of the enormous expence it has already been to this country these three last years to so little purpose. And the noble duke who has opened this day’s business, respecting the navy, has done that in so able a manner, and so much coinciding with my own observations upon it in general, that he has left me nothing to add ; nor will I, my lords, by o thing I could say on the different branches which his grace has not mentioned, let it go abroad, that we are on the eve of a war with France, I have been laying open to our enemies what we ought to conceal: but on the contrary, I will rather say, that I hope the navy of England may yet be put in such a state, as to resist and overcome all our enemies; though, my lords, I should never have agreed with the noble duke in the address proposed to result from these resolutions, without an amendment, which should have been to have addressed his Majesty to put his navy on the most respectable footing: but that as I had long seen the fate of every resolution in this enquiry, I should expect all to have a negative equally put on them, and therefore should content myself with doing what I thought I owed my country at this time. The Duke of Richmond said, though he had concluded his part of the enquiry, as to further detail, with the state of the army in America, he could not give a silent vote when he heard the deplorable state of the navy so ably and so fully proved; and what was still more to be wondered at, when the noble lord at the head of the Admiralty substantially acknowledged the facts, though he endeavoured to palliate them, or evade the conclusions, which they evidently admitted. It was the most reprehensible conduct imaginable, that ministers had adopted, in the course of the enquiry. In the former part of it, when the military force of this island was proved to be very short of the lowest peace establishment, the language from the other side, was, “What our internal defence may be, is of very little consequence. It is our navy we are to depend upon in the day of trial; it is our great national bulwark; it is invincible, and superior to any thing our na

tural enemies can bring against us. We

are able to cope with the whole united force of the House of Bourbon. The more France and Spain know of our navy, the better: a thorough knowledge of its state is the best means of securing us against the designs of our enemies.” I recollect when a noble earl (Chatham), seemed to entertain even a doubt of the boastings of the noble earl at the head of the Admiralty, his lordship was almost hooted out of the House. What do we hear this day ? That all those doubts were well founded; that all those boastings proceeded from misreo The noble earl (Gower) has told you so, in so many words. He has put a negative on the resolutions, not because they are not founded on truth, but because they would be an avowal of the naval insufficiency of this country. So, when the nation is proved not to be in a proper state of military defence, you are told, your navy, is your sole dependence. When that is enquired into, you are again told, its weakness must not be exposed He reminded the noble earl (lord Sandwich) when upon a former occasion, the want of frigates, which he now confessed, was objected to, at the opening of the preceding session, as 87 of them was said to be then in America, his lordship replied, “that we could, and would have 87, or 90 more, to replace them.” On this ground, as well as the uniform language of the noble earl, by which he specially pledged himself to that House, his lordship was answerable for the conse

quences; and would probably be made amenable at the bar of the public. He concluded, by observing, that if parliament continued to disgrace itself, by upholding such an administration, it would necessarily fall into contempt; the certain consequence of which would be, national ruin.

The Earl of Sandwich said, the number of frigates, if he said they were 90, which he did not doubt, as the noble duke seemed to recollect his particular expression so well, what he meant was, including every other service but that which lord Howe was concerned in ; and he was clear that he was justified in saying so; for taking the number in the West-Indies and Europe, they amounted to nearly 90. Here his lordship said, he must have recourse to the information, which he so often pressed on their lordships' memory, relative to the state of the British navy, when he was called to preside at the Admiralty-board. He said, the ships in the heat of the war, being built in a hurry, of green timber, suddenly rotted, and were rendered useless; which, with the scarcity of timber, rendered vain almost, all hopes of being able to put our navy once more upon a respectable footing. However, having surmounted that obstacle, he turned his next attention to the guard ships, which instead of being of any use, were become a burden and disgrace to the service: rotten, useless vessels, not half manned, and half the crews unfit for service, in case of an emergency. He saw all this, and determined to turn this source of national weakness and disgrace into a source of national strength. Instead, therefore, of wasting the public treasure, to no purpose, he put the guard-ships upon a respectable footing. É. ordered them to be always in a condition and state of repair, fit for immediate service; he increased their number to 17, and had three quarters, or nearly three quarters, of their complements of able prime sailors, always aboard; and managed matters so, that with the aid of a few days press, he had it always in his power to send 20 ships of the line to sea at a very short notice. His lordship adverted to something, which fell from the noble earl (of Bristol) in a former debate, whose professional abilities he highly extolled ; as importing that he would not trust himself aboard the ship (the Queen) destined for him. He could assure the noble earl, that he need not be afraid to trust himself aboard that ship; for notwithstanding what he might have

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