« PreviousContinue »
ty in an inferior officer. I could almoft partiality. Whether I have conceived will, in pity to my accuser, that appear- objets in exact correspondence with the ances were not so strong against him. truth ; whether I have viewed them unBefore the trial commenced, I actually skilfully, (or, as iny accuser has been thought that my accuser might have some pleased to term it, un-officer like), these tolerable reasons for his conduct : but are matters which remain to be determifrom the evidence, even as adduced to ned. I can only say, that what Sir Hugh a count for the behaviour of the Hon. Palliser has imputed to me as negligence, Gentleman in the afternoon of the 27th was the effect of deliberation and choice. of July ; from that evidence, I say, Sir, I will add, that I was not confined in my I and that I was mistaken. The trial has powers when I failed; I had ample dilleft my accuser without excuse ; and he cretion to act as I thought proper for the 10:r cuts that fort of figure which, I trust defence of the kingdom.. I maneuvred; in G ! all accusers of innocence wille I fought; I returned; I did my best. ter exhibit.
If my abilities were not equal to the talk, T have observed, Sir, that the opinions I have the consolation to think, that I of officers of different ranks have been tadid not folicit, nor did I bargain for the ken: I trust that the court will indulge command. More than two years ago, me with the same liberty, in the evidence in the month of November 1776, I receifor my defence. Some bave refused to ved a letter from the First Lord of the are their opinions. I thought it strange; Marine department, wherein he obser
plain speaking, and a full declara. ved, “ That, owing to motions of foreign tro, are the best of evidences in a good courts, it might be necessary to prepare à cule.
fleet of observation.” My reply to this I would wish, Sir, the court to confi- letter was, “ That I was ready to receive dr, that in all great naval, as well as any conimand from his Majesty, and I beg: military operations, unless the design be ged to have the honour of an audience." fuily known, the several maneuvres may This request was complied with. I was have a strange appearance. Masters have clofeted; and I told the King, that “I been called to give their opinions on the was willing to serve him as long my health Ligher departments of command. High.. would permit.” I heard no more until
authorities thould have been taken. the month of March 1778, at which time Such authorities are not scarce ; for ( I had two or three audiences, and I told an happy to say, there never was a coun. his Majesty, that “I had no acquainttry served by naval officers of more brave. ance with his minifters, but I trusted to riikill, and gallantry, than England his protection and zeal for the public ciboast at present. As to this court, I good.” Here was no sinifter views, no intreat you, Gentlemen, who compose paltry gratifications; I had nothing, I 1, to recollect, that you here fit as a felt nothing, but an earnest desire to serve court of honour as well as a court of my country. I even accepted the comjustice; and I now stand before you, not mand in chief with reluctance. I was merely to save my life, but for a purpose apprehensive of not being supported at of infinitely greater moment,- to clear home. I forelaw, that the higher the my fame.
cominand, the more liable was I to be My accuser, Sir, has been not a little ruined in my reputation. Even my miliftaken in his notions of the duty of a fortunes, if I had any, might be concommander in chief, or he would never ftrued into crimes. During forty years have accused me in the manner he has service, I have not received any particudone. During action subordinate officers lar mark of favour from the crown. I either are (or they ought to be) too at- have only been honoured with the confi. tentive to their own duty to observe the dence of my sovereign in times of public Mancuvres of others. In general en- danger. Neither my deficiencies nor my gagements it is scarcely poffible for the misconduct were ever before brought lame objects to appear in the same point forward to the public. And it is now of view to the commanders of two dif- somewhat strange, that, so well acquaint. ferent thips. The point of light may be ed as my accuser must have been with different. Clouds of smoke may obftruct my deficient abilities, it is strange, I say, the view. Hence will arise the difference Sir, that he should be the very person in the opinions of officers as to this or who brought me the message to take the thai manauvre, without any intentional command upon me! Nay, further, Sir,
prudent. It might be dangerous. But, was, to get ready for fea with all possible Sir, I am by nature open and unguard. hafte. I was surprised on my return to ed; and litile did I expect, that traps be threatened with the fate of Adm would artfully be laid to endeavour to Byng (19.202.], and I was still mot catch me on the authority of my own surprised to be charged with cowardice words.
With thirty Thips of the line I faile It was in the month of March 1778, early in July.' The French Admiral fail that I was told a fleet lay ready for me ed from Brest with thirty-two ships. to command. When I reached Portf. believe, that when the fleets came i mouth, I saw but fix ships ready; and fight of each other, the French were no on viewing even those with a seaman's a little surprised to fee me fo ftrong. 1, cye, I was not by any means pleased with defire not to throw the lighteft imputa their condition. Before I quitted Portr. tion on the courage of the French Ad mouth, four or five more were ready; miral. I believe him to be a brave map and I will do the perfona in office the ju. and one who had some particular reason stice to say, that from that time they us for the line of conduct he pursued. I fed the urmoft diligence in geiting the was determined if poffible to bring thi fleet ready for service. On the oth of French to battle, as I had every reason June I failed with twenty fhips of the to think, that their having avoided a line ; and very fortunately I fell in with engagement when it was for four days i the Belle Poule and other French fri. their power to attai k me, was owing gates; and the letters and papers found their expecting some capital reinforce on board them were of material service ments. I therefore thought that th to the ftate. Capt. Marshall distinguish- foonor I could engage them the better ed himself with the greatest honour. I especially as I knew, that the principa copless, that when I fell in with those fiects of our trade were daily expected i frigates I was at a loss how to act. On the channel; and if the French Heets hat the one hand, I conceived the incident beca permitted to disperse without a to be favourable to my country ; and, action, our East and West India fiect: on the other, I was fearful that a war might have been intercepted, the con with France and all its consequences voys might have been cut off, and the might be laid to my charge. For any stake of England might have been lok. thing I can tell, this may yet be the case. I beg leave to mention, that in the reign It may be treasured up to furnith another of K. William the gallant Adm. Roffel matter for future accusation. To this was two months in light of a French hour I have neither received official ap- fleet, and he could not poflibiy bring them probation or censure for my conduct. to action: my being in fight of the French With twenty ships of ihe line I failed. fleet four days before the engagement. Thirty-two ships of the line lay in Brest will not therefore appear quite so extraorwater, befides an incredible number of dinary as it has been represented. Had frigates. Was I to seek an engagement it not been for the favourable change of with a superior force? I never did, nor wind on the morning of the 27th of July, fhall I ever, fear to engage a force lupe I could not have brought the French to rior to the one I then commanded, or action when I did. that I may bereafter command: but I