Imágenes de páginas

French fhips, homeward or outward bound, and bring them into our ports. To which notable measure, it feems, tho' it expofed us to fo much reproach, and ill-will, abroad, and excited fo much ridicule at home, we owe both our danger and our preservation. The different and neceffary fteps taken on the part of Great Briain, we are told, produced, and could not fail of producing, in the French, an ardent defire of revenge; and tho' we had taken fuch numbers of their feamen from them, they were ftill in a condition to act on the offenfive; to menace us with an invafion; to be ready for any enterprize in America; (fo the cafe is ftated) and to form their project against Minorca ;-while we, who had been fo alert at first, were already fo exhausted, in point of men, at least, that we could act on the defenfive only and hardly that, if it be true, that till nearly the end of March, we were fo anxious for the fecurity of our own coats, nay, our own capital, that we could not provide fooner for the prefervation of Minorca. And there is fomething the more melancholy in this, as we knew the natural effect of pur own measures, was to kindle this ardent defire of revenge in the enemy. Common sense requiring, when we ftruck our blow, that we should have been prepared for all confequences: or, in cafe fuch a preparation was out of our power, forbidding us to ftrike at all: unless, instead of reducing and humbling the enemy, it had been our business to reduce and humble ourselves.

But not to expatiate on points not immediately before us, Admiral Byng's conduct, and the defence of it, by the author of the Appeal to the People, in his favour, are the points laft treated of by this impartial examiner: who does not feem to think our military operations in America, to be any part of his province. And herein his impartiality is fpun fo exceedingly fine, that it requires a very good eye to difcern a thread of it. For tho' he expreffes in very strong terms, his deteftation of the treatment Mr. Byng has met with, from that many headed monster the rabble, and of condemning any fuppofed criminal before trial, yet he certainly takes as ftrong a part against the Admiral ; making him the one man that is fingly chargeable with the whole mifcarriage in the Mediterranean ;-hefitating first, as if loth to give his fault a name, yet, in the fame breath, placing it in the most odious light; and entering, not over candidly, into the parti culars of the action he is to be tried for: which none of Byng's advocates have, as yet, touched upon. But inconfiftency, in this particular cafe, may, perhaps, be meritorious; and it may not become thofe, not initiated into the mysteries of flate, even to hint at an escape in those that are.

Here then let us drop the curtain; without so much as prefuming to afk, how one part of the Administration, and one of the individuals in their confidence, (as in this piece the Author himfelf informs us was the cafe) came to be furnished with a letter of intelligence, dated December 24, importing, that the French were


equipping a fquadron of twelve fhips of the line, (which, it feems, was the truth) when another part of it would never allow of more than eight? or fhould be fo early in the fecret of their deftination to Minorca, when Mr. Byng's firft inftructions, dated March 30, prefume their real deftination to be for North-America; and the Admiralty fend him the extract of a letter, dated fo late as March 6, from the British Minifter at Turin, to the Secratery of State, containing fuch advice, as an article of news; which required him to be fo much the more expeditious in his preparations? This enlightened Author has told us, That circumftanced as we were, every poffible evil could not be guarded against; and that, under fuch alternatives of danger and distress, it would not have been reasonable to leave the vital parts expofed, only to fave a limb. Acquiefcence, not expoftulation, it seems, will become us beft; and whether we have, as yet, escaped the horns of this terrible Dilemma, who fhall declare ?

X. Some further Particulars in relation to the Cafe of Admiral Byng from original papers. By a Gentleman of Oxford. 8vo. ts. Lacy.


By the number of mistakes, and abfurdities, which have ef caped the prefs, in this performance, one would think the author of it had never communicated his thoughts to the Public before: but if he has not been a dealer in paper and print, it may be fafely pronounced, nevertheless, that he is no novice in the art of writing, nor deficient in any point of political knowlege, which might be of fervice to his caufe. He has thought fit to conceal his name, it is true, as all other writers on this nice and delicate cafe, have, in like manner, chofen to do; but then he fairly acknowleges himself to be one of Mr. B's friends, and, by the materials put into his hands, appears to be deep in his confidence. It follows, therefore, that the ufe he makes of them, must partake of a friend's prejudices and we are not to wonder, that, prefuming -the Admiral to be innocent, he not only complains of the ufage he has met with, but, over and above, endeavours to account for it, at the expence of thofe whom he supposes to be his determined enemies, for the fake of their own prefervation. The method this friend takes to defend him, is, indeed, of the most artful kind; and, according to the Author of the Impartial Reflections on his cafe, in his fupplement occafioned by this piece, forms a very ftriking contrait in his favour, to the procedure of his said fuppofed enemies. :


The Admiral, it seems, had been charged in certain minifterial news-papers, with having deferred failing from England, till very preffing letters had been fent him from the Admiralty; but his friend gives fuch a detail of his conduct, from the time of his fetting fail, as, if true, not only evinces the falfhood of that charge, but transfers all that could be urged on the head of delay, to his fuperiors at the Admiralty board: his commiffion not being given him till the 17th of March; his orders, tho' promised on the 23d, not being fent till April ; and his


whole ftay at Portsmouth being but fifteen days: during which time, it is faid, he was obliged to man other ships before his own; and was referred to the hofpitals, and tenders not arrived, and but two of which did arrive while he remained there, from Liverpool and Ireland, to complete the deficiencies in his complement- This neglect of him, and his commiffion, is rendered fo much the more remarkable, by the addition of a lift of twelve fhips of the line (over and above Mr. Byng's fquadron) then lying at Spithead, all full manned, or nearly fo, and four of them over-manned, befides thofe in the harbour. His being obliged to fet afhore all his marines, and to take on board Lord Robert Bertie's regiment of fuzileers, to do duty in their ftead, is alfo thrown in, as another remarkable to which is added, the arrival of the Intrepid, one of his fquadron, from the Nore, (but four days before he fet fail) not only deftitute of ftores, provifions, water, &c. but without notice of being deftined to fuch a voyage; and in so crazy à condition as to be utterly unfit for it, according to the reprefentation of her own commander.

[ocr errors]

The many frange delays imputed to him, in the course of the voyage, are alfo accounted for by a courfe of interruptions, occafioned as well by calms as contrary winds, And whereas the Admiral had been farther charged with lofing SEVEN days at Gibraltar, when the utmoft expedition was neceffary, it is here fhewn, he was there but six: for though he arrived there on the ad of May, he did not land till the 3d, and he fet fail on the eighth in the morning; every one of which days, we are given to underftand, had its proportion of neceffary bufinefs. For, here he bad the first pofitive intelligence, that the French armament from Toulon, confifting of twelve fhips of the line, (inftead of fix or eight, the number at home fuppofed impoflible for their utmost strength to exceed) five frigates, &c. convoying eighteen thousand foldiers, had not only been directed to, but were in actual poffeffion of, the ifland of Minorca, excepting Fort St. Philip, which it was also believed could not fail of falling into their hands. His inftructions had been before reprefented, as founded on fuppofitions only; of which, that ftated as the most probable was, that the French de figned to flip through the Straits of Gibraltar, in their way to North America: fo that this friend and advocate of the Admiral's will needs have it, that the true ftate of things proving fo widely different from the fuppofitions entertained of them at home, he was from thence forward under a neceffity to proceed discretionally, or not to proceed at all.

As to his bufinefs on fhore, we find it was to confult with Mr. Fowke, Governor of Gibraltar.-Special orders from the WarOffice, for the faid Governor, had been brought by the, fleet: and Mr. Byng himself had alfo fupplemental orders from the Admiralty, which, from the nature of the fervice, ought to have tallied exactly with them. Our Author, however, fteps out of way, to point ont a notable difference; as alfo to infinuate,


how great an advantage, both in his conduct at that time, and his trial fince, Mr. Fowke might have derived from it.—But be this as it may, unless that can be fuppofed which ought not to be fuppofed, the right inference was made from a comparison of both; namely, That a battalion out of the garrifon fhould be joined to the regiment of fuzileers on board the fleet, and together thrown into the place, if it fhould be found neceffary-And that this confultation fhould alfo be productive of other difficulties, will not be very astonishing to thofe who confider, that this battalion was to be drawn from a garrifon already thought too weak, and the regiment from a fleet which had received them on board to do duty in place of the marines it had been deprived of,-So that each, by conforming, was to expofe his own province of fervice, to pofitive inconvenience, if not danger, for the fake of procuring an eventual advantage to another province, that neither was immediately concerned in.-The engineers of Gibraltar were also confulted the fame day, concerning the relief of Fort St. Philip, and gave it as their opinion, that, all circumftances confidered, it appeared to them extremely dangerous, if not impracticable, to throw fuccours into it.

This accounts for one day. The next was employed in a council of war; which having the faid opinion of the faid engineers laid before them, as alfo the orders aforefaid, both from the Admiralty and War-Office, thought themselves at liberty to dispense with a rigid obedience, for what they were pleased to think the general good of the fervice.Declining to fend the battalion required, because of the fuppofed impracticability of introducing it, the infufficiency of the number, if introduced, the formidable ftrength of the enemy's fquadron in the way, and the imminent danger the garrifon of Gibraltar, already not more than fufficient for common duty, would be expofed to, in cafe the British fleet, by action, or accident, be weakened, &c.

The relief of Mahon, by this decifion, being out of the queftion, unless it could be compaffed by the fleet only, we learn that the Admiral's next concern was to fend his difpatches to England, and to make the beft provifion he could for manning fuch fhips of Mr. Edgecumb's fquadron, as, having, by a referve of good fortune, efcaped the enemy, had joined him at Gibraltar, deftitute of foldiers and marines, which they had left behind them to ftrengthen the garrifon, together with a confiderable number of feamen; which was effected by a draught of two hundred and fixty-feven men, out of the garrifon of Gibraltar.-But this, we are to understand, took up the remainder of the 4th, 5th, and 6th for it was not till the laft of thofe days, that the Admiral received the lift of them. The 7th, we are left to conclude, was employed in taking them on board, watering, &c. and the 8th, in the morning, he fet fail.-It is thus his ftay at Gibraltar is accounted for and, for the reft, his friend proceeds to fhew, that, inftead of falling in with the enemy by accident only, as is allo REVIEW, Nov.1756.

M m


laid to his charge, he had no other bufinefs in the Mediterranean than to find them. That, accordingly, having, in his way, taken the best method he could, to obtain intelligence concerning them, and alfo to open a channel of communication, at leaft, with General Blakeney, tho' he had not time to effect it, he did, on their appearing in fight, make the neceffary difpofitions to engage them; that he did engage them; and that his behaviour in the action will, in due time, be fully juftified: waving particulars, to avoid throwing away the materials of his defence.

[ocr errors]

His return to Gibraltar comes next under confideration; and as a full acquittal of him on that head, the unanimous refolu tions of the council of war, held on board the Ramillies, on every queftion relating either to the relief of Fort St. Philip, the covering Gibraltar, or a fecond attack of the French fleet, figned by all the officers the council was compofed of, is inferted at large. And to this topic fucceeds, a brief of the measures taken by the Admiral, on his return to Gibraltar, on finding Commodore Broderick, with a reinforcement there, in order to go a fecond time in queft of the enemy, and to carry two battalions along with him, for the fervice unperformed, and unprovided for, before; but which he was prevented from carrying into execution, by the fuperceding orders brought by Sir Edward Hawke. After which, taking it for granted, that he has fully juftified the Admiral's conduct in every thing but the action itself, he undertakes, boldly enough, to lay open the origin of the procedure, both against him and Mr. Fowke, which he derives from the feveral claufes, or paragraphs, in the Admiral's firft difpatch, and in the council of war, held at Gibraltar; which import, that the measures enjoined in their orders came too late to produce any effect and that if the fquadron then fent, had been fent before the French landed, they would not have been able to have landed at all. This, according to him, made thofe in the firft digeftion of bufinefs anfwerable for all events; and therefore they refolved to treat these indirect accufers of theirs, as the national delinquents in their ftead. For proofs, he cites the eagerness they difcovered to fupercede the Admiral, on no better evidence than an extract of the enemy's account, paffed through the hands of one Frenchified foreign minifter abroad, to another Frenchified foreign minifter at home, unauthenticated in any refpect whatfoever, and without waiting to fee in what manner he was able to do himself and his country justice.-The garbling and mutilating his difpatch, when it did come to hand; the adding falfe and illufive lifts of the two fleets, at the end of it; the caufing to be pubTifhed, the fame evening, the invective against his conduct, above alluded to, and exciting the populace against him by every other


Of which opinion, it appears, Sir Benjamin Keene alfo was, if we may judge by his letter to the Admiral, inferted in this friendy performance.

« AnteriorContinuar »