« AnteriorContinuar »
Our conduct in America, fince that epocha*, has been far ⚫ from blameable. Upon advice being received, in the beginning of the year 1755, that the French were preparing a fleet to be fent to North America, with troops on board, under the ⚫ command of Mr. Dubois de la Mothe, Mr. Bofcowen was fent ⚫ with a numerous fleet in queft of the French, and to attack them, in cafe they endeavoured landing their forces in America. Here the unthinking, uninform'd cenfurer †, takes occafion to let us know, that the French fleet was fuperior to the English that failed from here, and that if Mr. Macnamara's return to Breft had not diminished it, we should certainly have • been vanquished before Mr. Holbourne's arrival in the American feas, to reinforce the fquadron under Admiral Boscawen; and this flep be attributes to the ignorance of the m
• But this he would not have afferted, could he but have reflected, ⚫ that a more certain intelligence than ever he could have come at, might very well have informed the m -r, "That tho' "the French fquadron was fuperior to the English, having no "orders to attack Mr. Bofcawen's fleet, and Mr. Macnamara's "divifion of it being deftined to fail only to a certain latitude, " and then return to Breft, a fuperior English fleet would be un"neceflary in the European feas; and as this fleet, when arrived at America, would be reinforced by several ships there already "ftationed, it would be next to impoffible for the English fleet
to mifs intercepting the French in their paffage to St. Law"rence's river." So that if any comment can be made upon the conduct of the mr, or fuper-intendent of public affairs, in this respect, it must be to applaud the parfimony with which they applied the public money, where the unneceffary expence of equipping a larger fleet at firft, with fuch great diligence, could not have been attended with more fuccefs than the taking the Alcide and Lys, two fine French fhips, now riding in our harbours."
There is alfo a note at the foot of page 34, in which, fpeaking of the Fourth Letter to the People of England, he fays, There are but two facts ftated in it that are probable; and they, upon
+ See the first and fourth Letters to the People of England.
The fleet which was fent under the Command of Admirals Boscawen and Moftyn, was composed of no lefs than twelve men of war of the line, befides frigates: and that truly experienced failor, who fo worthily prefides at the head of our naval affairs, being apprehenfive, that accident of fome fort or other might reduce the force of this formidable fleet, before it arrived in the American feas, judiciously caused a fecond fleet to be equipped, with urprizing diligence, and which failed under the command of Admiral Holbourne. This fecond fleet confifted of fix men of war of the line, befides frigate:.'
enquiry, prove abfolutely without foundation-namely, the diftribution of the ammunition deftined for America; and the purchase of Dutch gun-powder, that evaporated like faw.duft." 31.. And again, in p. 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, we have the revelations following.
But the French, finding we would not give into their lure, played an after-game, unthought of till they found their feint o would not fucceed. As foon as we had certain advices of their adoreal defign, we were not behind-hand in taking fuch measures
as the exigence of the cafe required; and if our fleet did not svati fail till the beginning of April, it was not to be attributed to any backwardness in the orders from the Admiralty -they were repeated and reiterated for the fpeedy equipment of thefe hips; and, indeed, the fleet was ready fome weeks before they failed, but they were not completely manned till the very sds days of their departure from Spithead, and then the only expedient that could be found for manning them, was the turning over all the crews of the other fhips in that port on board them, which is at fufficient answer to all queftions, "Why did we not send at fuperior fleet under Mr. Byng ?" as there were then but three men of war in Plymouth Sound, and two of them Say were returned from Sir Edward Hawke's fleet in the Bay of Bifcay *, on account of the sickness of their crews ;-the other was the guard-fhip at Plymouth.
But I believe no body has doubted, that if Mr. Bg had made all the fail he could to Gibraltar, and tarried there no * longer than was needful; or behaved well in the action of the • 20th of May, that the French would have gained any victory over us in the Mediterranean, either by land or sea.
As to any inviduous infinuations, that Mr. B-g had not orders to fight, or land the troops that were on board his fleet at ⚫ Minorca ; it will be only neceffary to cite, verbatim, Lord Anfon's letter to Mr. Byng, concerning the difpofition of Lord Robert Bertie's regiment, which was produced at General Fowke's trial; viz.
"It being his Majefty's pleasure, that Lord Robert Bertie's re"giment do ferve on board your fleet, to do duty there; and his Majefty having iffued orders by the Secretary at war, to General Fowke, to make a detachment equal to a battalion, from **his garrison, for the relief of Minorca; you are to conform
I fuppofe none of the most inveterate minifterial critics would pretend faying, we should have fent Admiral Hawke's fleet to the Mediterranean, any more than the cruizers in the Channel; fince "the first of these measures muft inevitably have produced the release of the Breft fquadron, and the other given the French all the advantages they could defire for a defcent here.
yourself to the faid orders, and to carry that detachment on "board your fleet, and land them at Minorca. And in cafe, upon conference had with General Blakeney, he fhall think it neceffary, you shall then land Lord Robert Bertie's regiment also "at Mahon, from on board your fleet.
After this, I am pofitive, no man that feels for his native land, and has not fome finifter view in raising commotions in the ftate, can fuppofe, that Lord A-n's orders, or any from the Ad- ty, inftructed Mr. Bg to behave like a coward, or a villain. I wish I were authorized to publifh here this Ad-l's inftructions at large, which I am fure (if you are a lover of your country) would give you all that fatisfaction which must be conceived in being convinced that nobody at home, was privy to any daftardly actions in the Mediterranean; but as I am not, take this letter as a fample, and be not fo ungrateful to a man, who did his country fuch real fervice in the laff war, as not to have as much confidence in him as you would in the most common trader, whofe goods you purchase upon a fpecimen; at least fufpend your judgment till Mr. Byng's trial, which cannot now be far off, when, as your gracious Sovereign has told you," He will not fail to do jultice upon any perfons who fhall have been wanting in their duty to "him and their country."
How well qualified this writer was for the truft reposed in Him of arrangeing thefe documents, and of making the most notable ufe of them, the reader has it in his own power, from thefe ex'cerpts, to determine,
V. An Efay on the Times. 8vo. 1s. Henderfon.
This is a miscellaneous piece, written in a quaint, tumid, and verbose stile; notwithstanding which, it is in many refpects, worthy of more notice than perhaps it has met with: for tho' the author confines his animadverfions to a few known facts, and makes an antiminifterial use of almost all of them, he does not revile one party, for the fake of making his court to the other : on the contrary, he takes occafion to fhew, that opposition may be abused, as well as power; and upon the whole, throws a good fhare of political knowlege into fo equal a mixture of light and fhade, that it is hard to fay, whether his wit or his discretion is predominant.
He begins with a fevere cenfure on that rage of patching up a Peace in a hurry; which, according to him, produced the definitive treaty of Aix; and, what was an unpardonable fault, left our own claims undefined. He then takes fome pains to prove, that the French were notoriously the aggreffors in the present quarrel, and by confequence, that the eventual inftructions given to Braddock, stand in need of no vindication: but having done this piece of juftice to his country, he makes as free an ufe of his
pen, in condemning the next meafure we took, of letting loofe our marine against the innocent traders, fishermen, and feamen of France, instead of declaring war in form, as we had fufficient provocation to do, against the French crown and French nation. Our Ruffian, Heffian, and Pruffian measures to preferve ourselves, and our Hanoverian co-relatives, from the effects of the enemy's refentment, fall'next under his cenfure. And here, by over-refining on a poffibile event, it fo happens, that he ftands confuted by the event itfelf; we mean, the march of the Pruffian troops into Saxony for notwithstanding all our conceffions to Prufha, he fuppofes we may nevertheless be the dupes of Pruffia; who, by a concerted, collufive game with France, or adhering to a cold fyftem of obfervation, might do us more mifchief as a fubtiliz mg, infidious, pretended friend, than an open enemy: which, is now apparently out of his power, if it was ever in his thoughts. He then fums up our cafe, with regard to allies, in the following paragraph,
Thus then deferted' at its greatest need, the nation fees itself precifely in the condition of a filly prodigal, who having mer gaged, and deftroyed his eftate, in undiftinguishing liberalities, and fenfetefs profufions, finds no friend left him in his distress, and wonders, as much at it, as if his conduct had been of a nature to deserve any."
Concerning our land forces, he asks the following queftions.> rft. What qualifications of the head and heart are neceffary in Generals, to beget effectively the foldiers love and confidence in them?
2dly. How far the officers have been taught to confider their military duty as a fcience, and, in truth, a profound one; and ⚫ what care has been taken to inure them to fatigues,, and warlike exploits?
3dly. Engineerfhip having, become the moft capital branch in the modern practice of war, fince the artillery, has taken fo much the place of hand arms even in the field, whether the "indifpenfible ftudy of that, and of military architecture, have been duly, generally, and early enough, to be at this time a match for the French in them, recommended and cultivated?' Of the present state of the navy, fo far as regards the treatment of our feamen, he thus delivers his fentiments.
It were to be wifhed, for many folid reafons, that some method had been, in time, found out to procure for the navy its complement of men, in lieu of that wretched expedient of preffing, which may flave a fleet, but never man it and every fuch fleet muft, proportionably to the number of its forced hands, carry within itself a principle of défeat. If this abuse has been "of antient standing, and hitherto produced no fatal effects, from the innate, courage of our English failors, furmounting every confideration, in the inftant of action, fo much the more maft fo valuable a class of fubjects deferve the redrefs of a grievance,
which is not of a nature for any prefcription of time, to reconcile to it the objects. of its arbitrary oppreffion. What goodwill to the fervice of their country can be expected from the captives of their own country-men? or into what enemies hands could they fall, that would give them worfe than fuch usage?
It is faid too- that the unwillinguefs of the common feamen to enter on board men of war, does not entirely proceed from the wages being lefs than what are given in merchantmen, nor from their confidering them as floating jails, but from the intolerable domineering and infolence, generally fpeaking, exercifed upon them, under the notion, that it is abfolutely neceffary to what they call carrying a command, a term, of which the 'mif-conftruction has probably done more mifchief to the naval fervice, than all the points of abuse befides; as furely it can never be the way to raise the courage of the men by crushing of their fpirit. Thofe poor heads, whom a little power is enough to intoxicate, will have no conception of this. But how much more nobly and wifely did that great admiral Blake think, and addrefs himself to his fhip's company, when he told them, "That the meaneft of them were free-born Englishmen as well as himself, and that officers and fore-maft-men were all fellow"fervants to the government of their country." Words of this import muft found rather more animating to a British ear, than thofe with which the public papers (falfely no doubt) make an • admiral lately conclude his harangue there are only two "choices, fight or be hanged!" an alternative furely to be addreffed with more propriety to a pirate crew, on a man * of war's coming up with them, than to English failors going against the enemies of their country."
The idolatry of pelf; the mercenary habit grafted upon it; the danger to be apprehended from an overgrown national debt, and an unweildy mafs of precarious wealth created by it; a nonattention to the endangered condition of our colonies; ill-timed, ill-proportioned, ill-directed fupplies; the want of a great pervading, all embracing, enterprifing fpirit to unite and confolidate the whole British empire into one fyftem; the characters and qualifications of our minifters at foreign courts; and the manner of filling and fuftaining the great offices at home, are the next topics that he expatiates upon.
After which he proceeds in thefe words :
Even the old manly British eloquence, was not proof against the epidemical enervity, and degenerated into fuftian rants, puerile conceits, and thofe witticifms, which may more properly ⚫ be esteemed florishing the point, than pufhing it, the most celebrated harangues, prefented an image of fquibs, crackers, and artificial fire works, bouncing and burfting into a thousand little fparks, the falfe glare of which rather created a momentary ⚫ dazzle, than threw a fteady light upon the point in debate. The petulance of groundlefs prefumption, an intemperance of acri