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ships of the real state of the ships intended their necessary equipments. He said, it for actual service; and the former, in case had been affirmed in that House, and was of a war, would shew our state of prepara- generally received without doors as true, tion. The apology made was, that it that if we were equal in number of ships would disclose our weakness. This, he of the line, and in every thing dependent believed, was too true: but, in his opi- upon that circumstance, victory must denion, that was the very reason why the clare in our favour. He was most willing motion should have been agreed to; be- to hope so ; but when, perhaps, the very cause if the fact was as acknowledged, it existence of this country, as an indepenwould evince the immediate necessity of dent nation, was to depend on the truth or his concluding motion, that of addressing fallacy of such an opinion, he held it as an his Majesty, to put his navy upon a re- indispensible part of his duty to deliver his spectable footing. As to men of war of sentiinents impartially, and without any the line for home defence, they had been degree of national prejudice; if he was, stated at 35 fit for actual service, seven | therefore, freely to declare his mind, he more in commission, and those put into must say, that numbers almost always encommission since the noble lord at the sured victory. He should not speak of head of the Admiralty had informed their the conflicts in the early part of our naval lordships on that head. He had examined history, nor even in the reign of Charles the papers on the table, and found that the 2nd, when the scene of action was the 74's had been set down at 600 men, confined to the narrow seas; when a Van as a full war complement. This, he con- Trump, a De Ruyter, a Blake, a Monk, tended, was fallacious; the complement and a Sandwich, exhibited such amazing of a 74 was 700. If, then, what the noble instances of skill in their profession and earl in office acknowledged, on a former personal resolution. The mode of making occasion, that he was upwards of 2,000 naval war, which prevailed at that period, men short of this complement, having but differed much from every subsequent one: 19,000 instead of 21,000, it would appear, they made use of fire-ships, not so much that even allowing for the supernumera- to accelerate victory, as to destroy the ries, the deficiency would, on the 35 ships, human species. Like the cruel 'mode amount to upwards of 3,000 men; so that, adopted in America, of employing savages instead of having 35 ships fit for actual wantonly to destroy their enemies, when service, we should not have more than 28 the victory no longer depended on the or 29, including the marines on shore, carnage; when a ship was disabled, they part of which would be wanted to be sta- sent a fire-ship to distress a disabled antationed at our three great dock-yards, Ply-gonist, and to blow up the crew in the air. mouth, Portsmouth and Chatham. If this A very different mode of naval warfare bewas the actual force we had to defend our- gan to prevail at the Revolution, and has selves, it would be necessary to know what continued since to be adhered to; by we had to contend with, in case of a rup- which means, hostilities at sea, like those ture with France and Spain. He had good on land, have been conducted more coninformation, that the French had 20 men formably to the dictates of humanity, and of war of the line at Brest, 8 at Roch- the laws of war established and acknowfort, and 15 at Toulon ; and the Spaniards ledged by the civilized nations of Europe. at Ferrol, Cadiz, and Carthagena, 40; the His grace entered into an investigation whole amounting to 83 ships of the line: of the language of the noble lords in admifrom which he drew this inference, that nistration, relative to the presumed invinwe should, in order to secure a complete cibility of the British navy, from whose national defence, in the event of a rupture, assertions and opinions he begged leave have 100 ships of the line; and we ought entirely to dissent; and wished to impress to have, besides that force, a proportionate this very important truth on the House ; number of frigates ; for, since the present that be the courage of the British seamen noble lord came to preside at the head of ever so great, it was numbers and not skill the Admiralty, no less than three millions
or prowess that had made victory decide and a half of money had been granted in our favour, unless in a very few instances for buildings and repairs, which, suppos indeed. Pis grace then entered into a ing our navy had been intirely annihi. long detail of proofs. In 1688, admiral lated, was sufficient to build 100 ships lord Dartmouth, with a superior fleet, perof the line, and as many frigates of thirty- mitted the prince of Orange to pass by the six guns each, and to provide for all Gunfleet, because he wished well to the 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 inuch 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 cominerce be-, come 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 de engagements, 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 in- | when France and Spain had a fleet nearly terrupt the illicit commerce carried on be- in the proportion of two to one. He tween our colonies and France, we were begged, therefore, that the noble lord obliged, at a great expence, and to very would make good his promise to that little purpose, to send our 74's on that House and the public, that our fleet should service, where in the present incle- be always superior to that of France and ment season of the year, their sides were Spain united, which he had uniformly asbeating to pieces, one half of their crews serted was necessary; or fairly confess, distempered, and their stores, rigging, &c. that no such necessity existed, and that going to ruin.
consequently, with an inferior army and On the last head, respecting the frigates, inferior fleet, a ruined trade and dismemhis grace was equally strong and pointed. bered empire, we were nevertheless more A want of frigates, was, in his opinion, than a match for the united power of the much to be lamented. It was the great House of Bourbon. source of the calamities we felt, in relation He concluded with a severe reprehento our commerce, and if a war should break sion of administration, for their conduct out, would be doubly felt. But it was not towards their generals in America. He even the want of them, however great it supposed the British troops were like the might be, but the deception attempted to British seamen, they could not perform be put on the House by the papers on the impossibilities. If they could prevail with table; those stated them at 34 ; whereas equal numbers, it was as much as could be the truth was, that they amounted in reality expected from them. General Howe was to no more than 11, the rest being sloops, blamed for not conquering America; he yachts, &c. He observed, if the deception was recalled, because he did not; they was reprehensible, the purchase of several said, he was a most able general ; with an of them was much more so: they were army of 15,000 men he went to attack as bought from private persons at a most great a general as himself, Mr. Washingexorbitant price, upon what motives he ton; he durst not attempt it, because the would not pretend to determine; one of latter was strongly intrenched and advanthem in particular, now called the Pan- tageously posted. So it may be found in ther, formerly a cat in the northern trade, case of a war; the British admirals and was purchased at the enormous sum of sailors would do every thing that could be 7,0001. when, according to her tonnage, expected from brave and able seamen, but and real value, she was worth no more they could not perform impossibilities; than 3,5001. at the most. So it was in with good clean ships, well manned, and several other instances, which, he said, he equal in numbers, they might come off vic. forbore to mention.
but that was all that could be raHis grace pointed out the absurdity and tionally expected: and if one of the ablest bad policy of using foreign timber in seamen this country, and one for whom buildings and repairs; and if a trial was to the noble earl seemed to entertain the be made, censured the conduct of those at highest opinion (though a little man, yet the head of naval affairs, who, instead of possessing a great soul) were consulted, or making an experiment, ordered no less interrogated at the bar, he would venture than 20 ships of the line at once to be re- to answer that his reply would be (without paired by foreign timber. He said, that making himself responsible for events beprobably there was not one of those ships, yond the power of human policy, and out if employed in actual service, that would of the reach of human prediction) that he not be found rotten and totally unfit for hoped the British feet would always conservice, as was the case with the Mars, quer.
grace then moved the first of which, after being under repair for three the following Resolutions : years, was obliged to be condenined, and 1. “ That it appears to this House, that ordered to be broke up, though she cost 83 of his Majesty's ships and vessels of the nation upwards of 33,0001. He ob- war, exclusive of fire-ships, bomb vessels, served, that the noble lords opposite, when store ships, and small craft, bought up in the weakness of our military defence was America, have been employed there since mentioned, said our navy was invincible. the year 1774; that the complements of His grace contended, that even superiority the above-said ships and vessels, marines would not insure success, because unfore- included, amounted to 22,337 men; out of seen events, or cross accidents, might un- which number have been lost by desertion expectedly turn the scale ; much less so, 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 In-. ships 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
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 individuals. 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 mer. had 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 equip- 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 well 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 rially; the measures were deliberated English timber was bad, or subject to im- upon elsewhere; and if he did his duty, mediate decay. He reported several in- as obeying the orders he received, he was stances of foreign timber proving equal to by no means responsible for the events. the best of British growth; particularly Earl Gower said, the delicate situation the Foudroyant, taken from the French in the noble earl who spoke last stood in, was 1758, and at the end of 20 years had re- a sufficient reason for his not putting a neceived but one repair, and now was as fine gative on the resolution: for his part, he and sound a ship as any in the navy. The thought at so critical a period as the presame was the case with the Alarm, and sent, it would be extremely improper to another frigate, drove into Marseilles in expose the state of our navy to our foreign distress, where they received a repair, and enemies. The proposed resolutions were still continued in the best condition. totally unnecessary; and if agreed to,
His lordship confessed that the trade though productive of no other ill, might had suffered, but that inconvenience could be the occasion of throwing the people not be remedied; it was a consequence of into a consternation, and create ill-founded the mode of carrying on the war in Ame. apprehensions. On this ground he should rica: frigates were necessary for that move, that the chairman do leave the service; and if we could have had more chair. to employ on the several stations alluded The Earl of Bristol. Though I have to by the noble duke, most surely vur for some time been fully prepared for this trade would have been better protected. particular stage of the enquiry; though till He assured the noble duke, that he would within these three or four days, I have not have employed large ships as cruizers waited with great impatience to go into in the Bay, if he could have helped it: every branch of the navy; yet, my lords, but the alternative was not, will you or I shall now forbear. The noble duke who will you not use those vessels ? but, will first agitated this enquiry, has fully conyou use those or none? There was no ar-vinced me of the state of our forces at guing against necessity; and though there home and abroad, and of the enormous was a want of frigates, for the reasons al- expence it has already been to this counready assigned, the deficiency was not so try these three last years to so little pur. great as had been stated by the noble pose. And the noble duke who has opened duke ; for notwithstanding there might this day's business, respecting the navy, be no more frigates on the immediate has done that in so able a manner, and home service, there were no less than 50 so much coinciding with my own observaemployed on other services, besides those tions upon it in general, that he has left stationed in America: but he denied that me nothing to add ; nor will I, my lords, the want of cruizers had been the occasion by any thing I could say on the different of the rapid decline of the African trade. branches which his grace has not men. The fact was, that that branch of com- tioned, let it go abroad, that we are on the merce had been overdone; that the trade eve of a war with France, I have been was on the decrease for several years be- laying open to our enemies what we ought fore the troubles with America broke to conceal : but on the contrary, I will out, and must be nearly in its present rather say, that I hope the navy of Engstate if they never had. As soon, and land may yet be put in such a state, as as far as circumstances would admit, to resist and overcome all our enemies ; cruizers had been stationed in the proper though, my lords, I should never have latitude; admiral Young, at Barbadoes, agreed with the noble duke in the address had detached from his squadron a ship of proposed to result from these resolutions, considerable force for that purpose; ad- without an amendment, which should have miral Dayrell, lately appointed to succeed been to have addressed his Majesty to put him, had instructions of a similar nature; his navy on the most respectable footing: and if our trade had suffered, either in but that as I had long seen the fate of every that, or any other quarter, no blame was resolution in this enquiry, I should expect imputable to him; it proceeded solely all to have a negative equally put on them, from the cause first assigned, that the fri- and therefore should content myself with gates were necessarily destined to another doing what I thought I owed my country service. But taking the facts to be just at this time. as his grace had stated them, he could The Duke of Richmond said, though he not deserve censure; he acted ministe- had concluded his part of the enquiry, as