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gave new hopes to the navy, he was at sea, in command of the Hornct, in company with the President, United States, Congress, and Argus; commodore Rodgers commanding the squadron. The Jamaica fleet was the object. After a day spent in chase of the Belvidere, in vain only from her having the advantage of the wind, the squadron followed the fleet, as diligently as the information they could collect would admit, until the 13th of July, when they arrived at the chops of the English channel. Disappointed in their object, they now ran down near the Azores, thence back, by the banks of Newfoundland, and arrived at Boston the 31st of August. This cruise was not distinguished by any signal success-seven captures, and but one recapture having been made. But if much was not performed, it certainly is not because much had not been attempted. A bolder cruise the most experienced circumnavigator of the globe may be defied to produce. At a time when the British claim the ocean by conquest, and every wave as part of their dominion, that a little fleet of five vessels should traverse, uninolested, this immense domain, from one extremity to the other, and not a British frigate be seen, but to fly, the fleet challenging this proud power, in the seat of its immediate authority, is enough to gratify our national pride, even had nothing been taken.
Just before the arrival of the squadron, captain Hull had arrived at Boston, in the frigate Constitution, with the captain and crew of the vanquished Guerriere. Albion upon the ocean had struck-to America! Great in battle as retreat, the Constitution was scarcely more distinguished for the present glorious conquest of a frigate, than she had of late been for her truly admirable escape from a squadron. The honour of each achievement was liberally shared by her gallant commander with his first lieutenant. Government, giving way perhaps too far to the natural impulses of these brilliant occasions, that followed so hard upon each other, made Morris a captain, over the heads of elder, not better officers. Seniority is, however, the apple of the eye, as well to the mariner as the soldier. Lawrence, who very justly felt himself to be fully the peer to any officer of his own, and especially to any of subordinate rank, as master and commander, determined to remonstrate. He had been first lieutenant of the
same vessel, and had served with equal fidelity. The promotion was two grades. One had sometimes been denied to signal merits. He was thus outranked by his junior, in life as in service. His own standing was but one grade higher than in Tripoli. Others, his equals there, were commodores now. All of similar commission with him were alike dissatisfied: many of a higher were not without their apprehensions, that a promotion, which had not the sanction, might yet leave the authority, of precedent. They saw in it the violation of a principle, on the peculiar sacredness of which a navy must at all times depend for existence. Influenced by these reflections, captain Lawrence addressed a letter to the secretary of the navy department.
"I was much gratified this evening with a report of your return to Washington, and hasten to address you, as the guardian of our rights, on a subject that nearly concerns me, as well as others of my grade in the service. It has, for some time, been currently reported in this city* (and in fact I have seen two letters from Mr. Goldsborough that strengthen the report), that lieutenant Morris was to be promoted to the rank of captain in the navy, in consequence of his conduct on board the Constitution, in the late action with the Guerriere. I have the most exalted opinion of lieutenant Morris—of course can have no wish to detract from his merits; but, after the most mature consideration, I really cannot discover wherein his exertions, as first lieutenant, entitle him to the rank to which I understand he is about to be promoted. The appointment of master and commander would, in my opinion, amply compensate him, and, as far as I can judge, give universal satisfaction. I have consulted with commodore Rolgers, who fully agrees with me in opinion, and has authorized me 10 make use of bis name, in my communication to you on the subject. Commodore Bainbridge's sentiments on the occasion, I presume, you are acquainted with, as he informs me that he has written you. I am fearful you will consider my remonstrance as improper, but trust, on taking my feelings into consideration, you will make every allowance, when I inform you that my friends coiucide with me in thinking, that the promotion of lieutenant Morris to the grade I first mentioned, bears peculiarly hard on me, as I was first lieutenant with the now commodore Decatur, at the time he destroyed the frigate Philadelphia, at that time, if not now, thought as much of as the capture of the Guerriere: for which exploit he was promoted to the rank of post captain, and I rewarded with the offer of two months' pay. After devoting near fifteen years of the prime of
• Boston, where the Hornet then lay.
my life faithfully to the servioe of my country, without a furlough (excepting one for six weeks), you must not think hard of my having remonstrated thus plainly on lieutenant Morris's promotion over me. I assure you I should regret extremely leaving the service, at any period, particularly at this; but, if outranked by an officer, who has not greater elaims than myself to promotion, I have no alternative. Trusting to the impartiality of your decision
“ I have the honour to be, sir,
« JAMES LAWRENCE “ Hon. Paul Hamilton."
In this letter the temperate and the firm are very happily blended. It evinces an obvious struggle between delicacy and spirit, arising from a desire to reconcile an anxious solicitude to save the feelings of a brother, with a fidelity, at all events, determined to vindicate his own. This embarrassment is amiable, as indicating a love of politeness, even in the pursuit of justice. It shows a disposition to yield every thing to manners but rights. He stops, in relation to Morris, at the precise point of propriety; contending, not for a preference, but merely that his friend's “ claims to promotion were not greater" than his own; that the affair of the Philadelphia was thought as much of as the affair of the Gucrriere. In regard to Hamilton, the terms of the letter are not respectful merely; there is a degree of ardency in the expression. He appeals to the secretary as to the “guardian of bis rights;" and a more apologetical remonstrance was never received from a ward. He urges the countenance of Rodgers and of Bainbridge, and hints his resignation, not as a threat to intimidate; this lie knows to be absurd; but as an alternative to interest, suggesting as to a friend, whose reiurn to Washington had gratified him much, that this object of his most extreme regret might not yet be forced upon him as inevitable, by the necessity of his condition.
To an epistle, thus cautiously worded, the secretary replies,
Navy Department, Oct. 17, 1813.
“ Your letter of the 10th instant bas reached me. The suggestion with which that letter concludes prevents an answer in detail, and confines me to the
single observation, that if (without cause) you leave the service of our country, there will still remain heroes and patriots to support the honour of its flag."
“I am, sir, Yours,
PAUL HAMILTON. “ Capt. Lawrence, U. S. ship Hornet.”
It is difficult to realize the feelings of captain Lawrence, on the receipt of this letter. He called on a friend, threw the contemptible scrawl upon the table, and, spite of his manhood, the tear gushed. In the bitterness of his heart, the resolve was expressed never to set foot upon his deck again. But his friends interceded. There is still a last resort: try what a memorial can do: the senate may redress you. Your vessel invites: she is ready for sea and the enemy. Desert her not now, when she most needs you! Address the senate. Leave every thing prepared for the purpose; but go where duty calls! If you survive to return, and find this ultimate application has failed, it will not then be too late to resign; but now, when a single expedient remains unattempted, it at least is too early.”
The intercession prevailed. The memorial was prepared, signed, and delivered. It sets forth succinctly his various services, with that characteristic precision which marked a mind whose pride was deeply wounded, by being compelled to hint, even in self-vindication, that he had “ done the state some service.” This document once completed, was abandoned to its fate. October 27th, 1812, captain Lawrence again took the seas, in the Hornet, under commodore Bainbridge, who commanded, for this cruise, the frigate Constitution
Their place of destination was the East Indies; but in running down the Brazils, in the month of December, they ascertained that the Bonne Citoyenne, laden with specie, was lying in St. Salvador, at anchor.
This vessel, larger than the Hornet, and of greater force, in guns and men, captain Lawrence was so desirous to meet, that the Portuguese were alarmed for their neutrality. Through the con
This letter was a circular in the office. The secretary has only to sign; the clerk could write and superscribe. The letter to Ludlow, of the New York vavy-yard, was in the same words
suls of their respective nations, at the port, this desire of tho American was communicated to the British commander To Mr. Hill, captain Lawrence writes, on the 28th December 1 now request you to state to captain Green, that I will meet him, whenever he may please to come out, and pledge my honour that neither the Constitution, nor any other American vessel, shall interfere.”
“ If captain Green wishes to try equal force," wrote commodore Bainbridge, on the same day, “ I pledge my honour to give him an opportunity, by being out of the way, or not interfering.”
December 30th, captain Green replies, “I am convinced, if such a rencontre was to take place, the result would not long be dubious, and would terminate favourably to the ship I have the honour to command; but I am equally convinced that commodore Bainbridge could not swerve so much from the paramount duty he owes to his country, as to become an inactive spectator, and to see a ship, belonging to the very squadron under his orders, fall into the hands of an enemy."
Upon this the commodore, in a letter published after his return home, remarks—“Captain Green was certainly not warrant. ed in questioning the sacred pledge I made to him, from which I certainly should never have swerved." If this pledge needed confirmation, it was confirmed by the equal explicitness with which the honour of captain Lawrence was pledged, on the same occasion. The forfeiture of two such pledges would have been so strange a novelty in naval history, that the bare possibility of its being incurred could hardly have put captain Green reasonably in fear.
The perfect propriety of challenges between sea-captains, in a public war, it was thought, had been sufficiently settled, by the history and practice of the British. “This whole business of naval warfare, incalculable as it is in its importance to a commercial nation, is yet a strife only for glory. It is not to enrich or augment one fleet, at the expense of another-to support a country by spoils, or extend empire by the conquest of ships: it is a contest for superiority—a mere struggle for distinction, and the opportunity that cannot otherwise be met, may very fairly be