Page images

'-p. 46.

account; and it will, therefore, give me a good opinion of your disposition, if, when he is brought out, you ask for his pardon.” When this recommendation, acting as it did like an order, was complied with, and the lad interceded for the prisoner, Captain Collingwood would make great apparent difficulty in yielding ; but at length would say, " This young gentleman has pleaded so humanely for you, that in the hope that you will feel a due gratitude to him for his benevolence, I will for this time overlook your offence.”

Lord Collingwood always kept the men strictly to their duty, and when they were sick, he visited them daily, even when an admiral, and supplied them from his own table ; but by his attention to discipline, cleanliness, and, above all, keeping the decks and their clothes dry, and the ship well ventilated, he had rarely more than five or six men on the sick-list, in a crew of eight hundred.

• The attention' (says his biographer) · which Lord Collingwood paid to the health of his men has been already mentioned; but it may be added here, that in the latter years of his life he had carried his system of arrangement and care to such a degree of perfection, that perhaps no society in the world, of equal extent, was so healthy as the crew of his flag-ship. She had usually eight hundred men; was, on one occasion, more than one year and a half without going into port, and during the whole of that time never had more than six, and generally only four on her sick list. This result was occasioned by his attention to dryness, (for he rarely permitted washing between decks,) to the frequent ventilation of the hammocks and clothes on the booms, to the creating as much circulation of air below as possible, to the diet and amusement of the men, but, above all, by the contented spirits of the sailors, who loved their commander as their protector and friend, well assured that at his hands they would ever receive justice and kindness, and that of their comforts he was more jealous than of his own.'— pp. 310, 311.

The result of this conduct was, that though no man less courted, or, to speak correctly, more thoroughly despised, what is called popularity, the sailors considered him, and called him their father, and frequently, when he changed his ship, many of the men were seen in tears at his departure.' He would not permit his officers to make use of coarse or violent language to the men :

• If you do not know a man's name,' he would say, • call him sailor, and not you-sir, and such other appellations: they are offensive and improper.' If he had to reprove an officer, it was always done in few words, and in the language of a gentleman; and, though strict in exacting from them the due performance of every part of their duty, he never teazed or worried them with unnecessary trifles. From his superiors, on the other hand, he always expected that respect, to which, by his character and station, he was entitled.

« On

· On one occasion, the Excellent was directed to weigh when off Cadiz, and to close with the Admiral's ship, and in running down the signal was made five or six times for altering the course, first on one side and then on the other, and at length for a lieutenant. Captain Collingwood, who had been observing this in silence, ordered his boat to be manned, as he would go too. On his arrival on board, he desired the lieutenant, when the order was copied, to bring it to him; and he read it while he was walking the quarter-deck with Lord St. Vincent and Sir Robert Calder. It was merely an order for the Excellent to receive on board two bags of onions for the use of the sick; and on seeing it, he exclaimed, “Bless me! is this the service, my lord—is this the service, Sir Robert ? Has the Excellent's signal been made five or six times for two bags of onions? Man my boat, sir, and let us go on board again!" And though repeatedly pressed by Lord St. Vincent to stay dinner, he refused, and retired.'—

pp. 48, 49.

Nothing annoyed him more than to have ships sent out to be placed under his orders that were commanded by inexperienced boys. Every three brigs,' says he,' that come here, commanded by three boys, required a dock-yard—better to give them pensions, and let them stay on shore.' In another place he says, speaking of a certain person, 'I suppose, when he has dawdled in a ship six years, he will think himself very ill used if he be not made a lieutenant. Offices in the navy are now made the provision for all sorts of idle people.' In a letter to Lady Collingwood, he says,

writes to me that her son's want of spirits is owing to the loss of his time when he was in England, which is a subject that need give her no concern, for if he takes no more pains in his profession than he has done, he will not be qualified for a lieutenant in sixteen years, and I should be very sorry to put the safety of a ship and the lives of the men into such hands. He is of no more use here as an officer than Bounce is, and not near so entertaining. She writes as if she expected that he is to be a lieutenant as soon as he has served six

years, but that is a mistaken fancy; and the loss of his time is while he is at sea, not while he is on shore. He is living on the navy, and not serving in it. -, too, is applying to go home. If he goes he may stay: for I have no notion of people making the service a mere convenience for themselves, as if it were a public establishment for loungers.'-pp. 361, 362.

The young midshipmen placed under his care were treated by him with parental regard; he attended to their morals and their studies; examining them in the proficiency they had made regularly once a week. There is a letter (at page 12) addressed to a young gentleman of the name of Lane, containing such admirable advice for his conduct, that it ought to be read and gol by


heart by every midshipman in his majesty's navy.

.* Indeed the whole book may be considered as the sailor's manual, from which officers of all ranks may derive profit, and on this account we could have wished that Mr. Collingwood had printed it in a more convenient and cheap form than that of a thick quarto, of five hundred pages. But this may, and, we cannot doubt, will, be done hereafter; for the book is sure to be reprinted many times.

We cannot conclude without adverting to a subject introduced by the editor, on which, we conceive, he has mistaken and mistated Lord Collingwood's sentiments :-- it is that of impressment; the exercise of which, we confidently believe, is considered by every officer of experience as essentially necessary for the manning of the fleet, and of vital importance to the British navy. Lord Collingwood,' says the editor, ' had ever been adverse to impressment, and early after the mutiny at the Nore, had been studious to discover' some means of avoiding the too frequent recourse to that system.' Here we are persuaded Mr. Collingwood has ascribed to his noble relative a sentiment and a motive which do not belong to him, and which are not borne out by any part of his lordship’s correspondence. As we feel very desirous that Lord Collingwood's sentiments should not be misrepresented on a subject of

* The following is an extract from that inimitable letter to Mr. Lane. We recommend it to the most serious consideration of young men in every profession :

"You may depend on it, that it is more in your own power than in any one's else to promote both your comfort and advancement. A strict and unwearied attention to your duty, and a complaisant and respectful behaviour, not only to your superiors, but to every body, will ensure you their regard, and the reward will surely come, and I hope soon, in the shape of preferment : but if it should not, I am sure you have too much good sense to let disappointment sour you. Guard carefully against letting discontent uppear in you ; it is sorrow to your friends, a triumph to your competitors, and cannot be productive of any good. Conduct yourself so as to deserve the best that can come to you; and the consciousness of your own proper behaviour will keep you in spirits, if it should not come. Let it be your ambition to be foremost on all duty. Do not be a nice observer of turns, but for ever present yourself ready for everything, and if your officers are not very inattentive men, they will not allow the others to impose more duty on you than they should : but I never knew'one who was exact not to do more than his share of duty, who would not neglect that, when he could do so without fear of punishment. I need not say more to you on the subject of sobriety, than to recommend to you the continuance of it as exactly as when you were with me. Every day affords you instances of the evils arising from drunkenness. Were a man as wise as Solomon, and as brave as Achilles, he would still be unworthy of trust if he addicted himself tó grog. He may make a drudge, but a respectable officer he can nerer be; for the doubt must always remain, that the capacity which God has given hina will be abused by intemperance. Young men are generally introduced to this vice by the company they keep : but do you carefully guard against ever submitting yourself to be the companion of low, vulgar, and dissipated men; and hold it as a maxim, that you had better be alone than in mean company. Let your companions be such as yourself, or superior; for the worth of a man will be always rated by that of his company. You do not find pigeons associate with hawks, or lambs with bears; and it is as unnatural for a good man to be the companion of blackguards. Read-let me charge you to read. Study books that treat of your profession, and of history. Thus employed, you will always be in good company.' VOL. XXXVII. NO, LXXIV.

2 D


poor man.'

so much importance, we shall endeavour to point out what we suppose to have been the origin of the editor's mistake; and first, with regard to his lordship’s . aversion,' which, we apprehend, is inferred merely from the following paragraph in one of his letters :

I have got,' says Lord Collingwood, a nurseryman here, from Brighton. It is a great pity that they should press such a man, because, when he was young, he went to sea for a short time. They have broken up his good business at home, distressed his family, and sent him here, where he is of little or no service. I grieve for him,

It is quite clear that, in this paragraph, not a syllable is expressed, nor anything whatever implied, against impressment, his lordship only lamenting that they should have impressed such a man : he regrets the indiscreet exercise of a power, but never thinks of questioning the propriety of the power itself. The law says that, landsmen, having used the sea two years, are liable to the impress; meaning, no doubt, such as continue to use the sea, not such as had long disused it, as appears to have been the case of the poor nurseryman, whom no considerate officer would have molested.

But the editor says— early after the mutiny at the Nore, Lord Collingwood had been studious to discover some means of avoiding the too frequent recourse to that system' (of impressment). It might be supposed from this that the mutiny at the Nore was caused by impressment: the very reverse, however, is the case : it was caused, as is well known, by a set of rascals of the very worst description,-attorneys' clerks and such like,-sent into the fleet under the name of quota men, who, by their writings and speeches, succeeded in sowing discontent in the minds of the seamen; and it is this sort of wretches which some of our softhearted senators would again introduce by way of substitutes for impressed seamen. These, however, were not Lord Collingwood's substitutes.

• He had found,' says his editor, • that Irish boys, from twelve to sixteen years of age, when mingled with English sailors, acquired rapidly the order, activity, and seaman-like spirit of their comrades ; and that, in the climate of the Mediterranean, they often, in less than two years, became expert topmen; while adults, who had been little habituated to the sea, but torn by impressment from other occupations, were generally ineffective and discontented.'

Mr. Collingwood, though a landsman, will readily understand that the 5000 Irish boys recommended by Lord Collingwood, would go but a short way to keep up the number of about 120,000 seamen, employed during the late war, though they might be brought in aid of the usual means of raising men for the fleet.


That the rigour of impressment may be modified, most naval officers appear to be agreed; but none, we believe, have had the hardihood to affirm that it might be dispensed with altogether. If, on the breaking out of a war, the English fleet should not be the first to get possession and command of the Channel, which, without the aid of impressment, it could not possibly do, we should hear such a clamour from the merchants of London, Liverpool, Bristol, and other ports of the united empire, as nothing but the utmost severity of an impress, to enable our fleet to meet that of the enemy, could satisfy or allay. Then, indeed, men“ but little habituated to the sea,' (that is, provided they had used it two years,) would be torn by impressment from other occupations ;' a measure which would not be necessary so long as the impressment of seamen continues to be the legal and constitutional prerogative of the king. We have, just now, some twenty thousand choice seamen in employ, but where are they ?--scattered over twenty different and distant parts of the world; there are, we believe, about 25,000 out-pensioners of Greenwich Hospital, 10,000 of whom might probably be available to assist in fitting out and completing the guard-ships at home: the rest must be made up by impressment or by volunteers ; but the latter are raised by a very slow process; and though an increase of bounties, the panacea of some, might facilitate, it would go but a little way to expedite, the raising of men. The fleet, on a moderate scale, once manned, some relaxation of impressment may take place: such men, for instance, as had served a certain number of years, might be paid off;—they would, almost to a man, return to the king's service. The good treatment which seamen now receive, the almost total discontinuance of flogging, which has been, year by year, getting more and more into discredit and disuse—the sufficiency and excellent quality of their provisions ; their improved clothing; the distinctions which petty officers have conferred on them; the numerous comforts that of late have been introduced into ships of war; and the very handsome pensions which long service, wounds, or disabilities entitle them to receive, to say nothing of that pride of conscious superiority which a manof-war's man feels over the drudge in a merchant-ship, will always ensure a preference to the navy, and we have little doubt would, after the first manning of the fleet, cause the evils of impressment hardly to be felt; but modification is one thing, abolition another; and we most sincerely trust that the latter measure will never be applied to this ancient and undoubted prerogative of the crown.

With this short explanation, which we deemed due to Lord Collingwood, we once more thank the editor for his highly im2 D2


« PreviousContinue »