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• On the lower-deck it was one scene of licence. Lavishly illuminated throughout with the candles taken from the purser's storeroom, the glare displayed groups of seamen reeling about intoxicated; others, not so far advanced, were sitting over large casks of rum, hoisted up from the spirit-room, and broached with the most wanton profusion, until the consumers being in many instances too far gone to notice anything, the barrels had slipped from their stations, and rolled about the deck, now literally flooded with raw spirits unable to find a vent.
Some, dressed in their best clothes, sang songs of glee, and appeared as merry as if this awful moment had been the most auspicious of their lives. Many again were lying past all reason on the deck, the exterior of their persons as thoroughly drenched in the spirit that plashed around them, as the coats of their bodies within, while guns dismounted, and even the corses of some who had crawled below and expired on their road to the surgeon, added to the horrors of the place.' -pp. 254, 255. : The heavens were now glowing with one sheet of flame, the tornado raged violently, the lightning struck the mast, which went overboard-a blue flame of ignited spirits rose through the hatchways, followed by the red gleams of burning pitch-the hull of the ship was now on fire :
• Short was the time it had to blaze ; deprived of its masts, the remaining one having quickly followed its predecessor, the old hulk no longer possessing head-way, it broached-to, and fell broadside to the wind into the trough of the sea. The water inside now mounting rapidly up to her orlop-deck, she became too heavy to mount the waves any longer, when a tremendous billow breaking with all its fury on her deck, the hull fell over upon its side. A hiss—a shriek of human agony was heard along the deep, and the dark mass disappeared from the surface of the waters, to plumb its way through the unfathomed tides below! The flame thus driven from its prey, shot upwards, borne along on the wings of the tempest for a short distance-its purple light soon diminished--quivered—then expired. And all around was night!'--pp. 258, 259.
Thus ends this narrative, introduced for no other purpose that we can see than that of creating a disgust against the naval service generally, and to wound the feelings of the surviving friends of a brave and meritorious officer, who untimely perished in the execution of his duty. The son, however, survives, a distinguished officer in the same profession; and as, when a youth, that son, like another Telemachus, went in search of his lost father, there can be no doubt he will search out the libeller, and take such steps to vindicate his father's memory, as the rank and character of the writer may justify him in doing. It has been stated in the club-houses, that he is a commander in the navy: we hope not;
we cannot believe there is one on that list who would thus disgrace himself! Whoever he may be, we have little doubt the name of the offender, when detected, will furnish an adequate refutation of his calumnies.
And now having dispatched this scurrilous publication, we may be permitted to return to the distinguished author of its motto, and briefly inquire whether it be true, that a pressed man is a slave to the will of a despot ?' Admitting the affirmative, it would follow that every seaman in the king's service is 'a slave,' because there is no distinction whatever in the treatment, the pay, or privileges, of an impressed man and a volunteer; all are alike subject to the articles of war, enjoy the same advantages, and are amenable to the same regulations with regard to discipline, on board a king's ship, in whatever manner they may have become part of the crew. The chief, it is true, may chance to be of an arbitrary character, and it would indeed be surprising if, now and then, one of this description should not be found among the sixteen hundred captains and commanders whose names stand on the navy list; but even in this case, though the men may be subject to the tyrannical and capricious orders of a despot,' they are still
far removed from the condition of slaves ; for if their despot should dare to exceed the limits of his authority, which are accurately defined and well understood, the object of his tyranny is not left without remedy; a well-founded complaint of an undue exercise of his power will subject him to the peril of losing his commission, as well as to heavy damages in a court of law.
The advantages enjoyed by these pressed slaves,' on board a king's ship, over those in merchant vessels, are manifest and important, and the seamen know them well. In the first place, if they are active, steady, and good seamen, and conduct themselves well, they are sure to be immediately promoted to petty and eventually to warrant officers; nor are instances rare where they have attained the rank even of commissioned officers. At this moment, there are on the list captains, commanders, and lieutenants, who were impressed into the service. The gunners, boatswains, and carpenters, are mostly men that came into the service by impressment. When his present Majesty, as Lord High Admiral, mustered these warrant officers at the ports, he inquired of every one of them whether they had been impressed, and more than twothirds replied in the affirmative. And what are the further advantages enjoyed by these ' slaves to the will of despots ?' Their pay is from 60l. to 1001. a-year, according to the rate of the ship, besides their provisions, and these emoluments and allowances are constant, whether at sea or in ordinary; and when worn out, they
have pensions according to their length of service from 351. to 851, a-year, Nor is this all; their widows at their death have pensions of 251. a-year, about fourteen hundred of whom are now in the receipt of them. Then, with regard to the petty officers and seamen, their provisions are of the very best quality, and the rations precisely the same as to the captain. Every biscuit they eat is made from flour of wheat purchased by government in the market, ground in the government mills, and baked in the government ovens. They have the luxuries of tea, cocoa, and
sugar allowed, and are supplied with any articles of clothing they may stand in need of, at rates far below the prices of private dealers, and of superior qualities. They are well attended to in the event of hurts or sickness. The mortality, indeed, on board a ship of war is incredibly small. The scurvy, that once committed such dreadful ravages in ships of war, has wholly disappeared; and the sailors owe this blessing, in great measure, to the introduction of lemon juice, and many judicious regulations established by that venerable and intelligent medical officer, Sir Gilbert Blane. The effects of these, as particularly ascertained in the height of the war, were most remarkable. In the years 1811-12-13, the
average number of seamen afloat was about 138,000; and the average deaths, by disease, accident, and battle, amounted in round numbers to 4,600, giving thus little more for the annual mortality than one man in thirty
They enjoy other advantages of no little importance. They are allowed to allot half their wages to their families; they are granted pensions for life after twenty-one years' service, varying from tenpence to fourteenpence a-day; and petty officers, serjeants and corporals of marines, according to their length of service, receive from 25l. to 401. a-year and upwards. Of these misnamed slaves,' upwards of 20,000 are at this moment dividing among them the enormous sum of 260,0001. a-year as pensioners, besides nearly 3000 who are well fed, clothed, and lodged, in the magnificent establishment at Greenwich,* and by far the greater number of whom were impressed men. We say nothing of the chances of prize money, which, however, with the spirit of adventure and enterprise that actuates the minds of seamen, induce them to get into king's ships for any service that is likely to bring them before the face of an enemy. What, indeed, but the inherent love of fighting and making prizes could induce so many English seamen to prefer entering, in these piping times of peace, the service of Dom Pedro, at the risk of life or limb, and with such uncertainty of getting either pay or provisions, to the comfortable enjoyment of both in a British man-of-war ?-nothing but the activity of the one service, and the present torpid state of the other.
* Let us take this casual opportunity of correcting an erroneous statement in a late Number of this Journal. We mentioned King William IV. as the munificent donor of the greater part of the naval pictures in the Hall at Greenwich. His present Majesty's personal and professional feelings had, no doubt, been consulted--but the act we alluded to was, we find, that of his ever princely predecessor, King George IV.
With the predilections of seamen generally for entering on board his Majesty's ships, not only on account of the splendid advantages held out to them, but also for the pride of serving under a pendant, and the good treatment they are sure to experience, it will naturally be asked, where is the necessity then of forcing men into the service? We think we can explain how far it may still be necessary to keep up the practice of resorting to the impress, though we consider it capable of modification. It was proved, in the course of the late prolonged war, that the number of our native seamen was inadequate to the manning of both the military and mercantile navies; and that, in consequence, more than a third part of the crews of the former, or about 40,000 men, were obliged to be made up of landsmen and foreigners. At this period the whole trade of the world nearly was in the hands of the British merchants; to secure seamen for their ships the wages they gave were enormous; but still, by the activity of the commanders of our cruising ships in procuring men, the merchant vessels were also compelled to take landsmen and foreigners. Owing to this great demand of the two services, the number of sea-faring men became greatly augmented, and the crews of both were in a progressive state of improvement. Peace at length came—the fleet was paid off-foreign nations participated in the commerce of the world—the best of the old navy seamen are now worn down with age—the consequence is, that at the present time the number of real available seamen is much reduced; they are just enough, and not more than enough, for the merchant ships employed in the foreign commerce of the country, and for the reduced squadron of men-of-war on the peace establishment.
It is clear, then, that on the sudden breaking out of a war, if we wish to place the country in a state of safety, our coasts and our colonies (if any be left to us) to be defended against insult and plunder, and our trade effectually protected, we must depend solely on the exertions and activity of our navy. Ships we have in abundance, and many of them of a very superior kind, but of what use would they be without a sufficient supply of seamen; and where are these seamen to be had but by intercepting the homeward-bound merchant ships in the Channel, and taking out of them such mnen as can be pared ? There is no denying that this measure is a severe hardship, as it prevents seamen from seeing their friends after a long voyage, and imposes a restraint upon them which nothing but state necessity could justify. Impressing from outward-bound ships, however, would very little, if at all, abate the hardship to the men, while it would be infinitely more distressing to the trade of the country, the protection of which is the immediate duty of the government; and this great object can only be efficiently obtained by having as speedily as possible a well-manned Asci + sea on the first appearance of hostile movements. Severe, moreover, as the practice of impressing men anyhow may appear, we should remember that it is an evil contingent to the condition of persons betaking themselves to a seafaring life. Their liability to serve in time of war is implied by various acts of parliament, some directing protection to be granted to landsmen against impressment till they have used the sea two years; others to apprentices until they attain the age of eighteen; others to mates of merchant ships, harpooners, &c. of Greenland vessels; and also to a great number of other descriptions of persons, all which exceptions prove the rule of general liability. No one, indeed, will be bold enough to assert that it is not both constitutional and legal to compel seamen to serve in the navy. The practice has prevailed and does prevail in all the maritime nations of Europe ; with lis it is the common law of the land, it has been acted upon prior to the time of Edward III., and has frequently been extended to the impressment of ships as well as men, Mr. Sergeant Foster, in his able and unanswerable report on the subject, says, the right of impressing mariners for the public service is a prerogative inherent in the crown, grounded upon common law and recognised by many acts of parliament.' In short, we can see little difference in the coercion which calls on person to serve in the militia or to find a substitute, and in the coercion which compels a seaman to serve in the navy, who is also, in ordinary cases, allowed to serve by substitute.
Whatever feeling may exist in the public mind against impressment, the sailor, knowing he is liable to serve, and knowing he will be well treated in a man of war, thinks much less of it than those do whom he leaves behind; he generally quits without regret a merchant ship, where he is neither so well fed nor treated, and much more severely worked. The real and distressing hardship is when Jack is seized by a press-gang in the bosom of his family; it is in cases of this kind that the odium against impressment is most excited; the act of dragging men away, amidst the cries of women and children, creates dissatisfaction and disgust in all who witness the transaction. This worst part of the practice may, however, and it is to be hoped will, be discontinued in the event of another war. It certainly is neither expedient nor necessary