« ZurückWeiter »
yet he confessed that he was too much most proper and best qualified officer to alarmed at the danger of the precedent to command a fleet. It was painful for him, suffer it to pass without animadversion ; undoubtedly, in the exercise of his discrefor did it not put the patronage of the tion, to set officers aside; nor could he in whole nary into the hands of a minister? a public assembly state the particular reaa patronage which a bad minister might sons which operated on his judgment i convert to the purposes of parliamentary the late promotion of captains to the rank corruption and the most undue influence of admirals. It would be invidious in him He did not doubt but that the officers to explain them, as it would be cruel in the who had the good fortune, on a late occa- | House to desire him to make such an exsion, to become the objects of favour, i planation. He had acted to the best of were amply deserving of their honours; his judgment, and with the strictest imparbut they were not more so than those who tiality. With regard to the reasons which had been superseded. Were such the might direct the judgment of a first lord rewards which this nation set forth to the of the Admiralty to pass over any number veterans who had bled in its defence, and of captains in a promotion to flags, the by whose exertions every noble peer slept House would recollect that there might secure in his possessions? Under such be several. Those who were likely to be encircumstances, their country had no claim trusted with the care of our fleets, ought to their future services; for, what had to be men not only of firm minds, but they to expect? Perhaps to have a boy, | possessed of bodily strength, to enable who had never seen a shot fired, put over them to endure the fatigues of the hard their heads, as the caprice of a minister service they might have to sustain. Offimight dictate. But, the Board of Admi- cers who had served ably and meritori. ralty seemed to be conscious that they ously all their lives might not appear to the had done an injury to those men who had judgment of a first lord of the Admiralty been superseded, and, as some compensa- to be fit to be entrusted with the care of a tion, bad offered every one of them the fleet, when the period of promotion to half-pay of a rear admiral. It could not flags arrived. Their bodily strength might therefore be on the score of economy not be equal to the necessary severity of that they had been overlooked. The duty. That officer who had displayed noble lord moved, “ That, an humble great bravery in the command of a ship, Address be presented to his Majesty, might not be qualified to command a praying that he would be graciously pleased fleet. The noble Jord knew that in the to take into his royal consideration the ser-army the same observation applied. A vices of such captains of his Majesty's serjeant of grenadiers, though an able and Davy, as were passed over in the last pro- excellent soldier, might not be qualified to motion of admirals.”
command a body of troops on a forlorn Viscount Howe entered into a statement hope. These and other considerations, of the different rules of proceeding which had necessarily operated on his judgment had governed the Board of Admiralty in in the late promotion. If the House promotions to the flag, for many years thought proper to take upon themselves past, marking the periods when any new the promotion of military officers, he rule obtained, and producing the orders of should feel himself eased of the greatest council and various documents of autho. anxiety in his situation, and of course rity, by which each particular alteration escape from the painful responsibility of had been warranted. He contended that office. But he could not so far forget bis the first lord of the Admiralty was respon- duty to his country, as to desire their sible for the good conduct and well-being lordships to ease him of a responsibility, of the service; and with the responsibility which could not, by any means, so well be must necessarily be entitled to exercise rest as where it did. He assured their his own discretion in every branch of the lordships, that patronage was not so desiexecutive duty of the Admiralty Board; rable as it might be imagined. Whenever and, therefore it was incumbent on every a vacancy in the appointments in his noman standing in a situation similar to his mination happened, there were always own, to be careful in the promotion of twenty candidates for it, at the least. He officers, and more especially in the pro- was sure therefore to disappoint nineteen, motion of captains to flags. He was bound and was not always certain of plcasing the to consult the good of the service only, twentieth.-Had the officers who were and to ask his judgment which was the passed over enjoyed their rank, and not been called into service, they must have tion, he was persuaded were not aware gone through the superior degrees of pro- of the infinite mischiefs which might ensue. motion, that of vice admiral and of admiral, The parliament of Great Britain stood before the officers from whose service the ligh in the opinion of all Europe; it had country were to derive advantage; and acquired abundant credit from the prothus the officers who did not serve, would priety of its proceedings, from confining have stood in the way of those who did itself to its proper province, and from not serve. Would such a circumstance have assuming offices and functions which did been fair or warrantable? He stated to not belong to it, but leaving them where the House the existence of an establish the constitution had wisely placed them, ment planned by a wise Board of Admi- in the hands of the several departments ralty in 1747, for the maintenance and of the executive government, Let their support of such officers as were passed by lordships for a moment consider the emin a promotion of captains to flags, and, barrassments which must be felt, if promothis was the first (as it was commonly tions of admirals were to be made by the called) of Yellow admirals. In order to House of Lords. The idea was revolting make a suitable provision for captains not and monstrous in the extreme. A want promoted to flags, and to enable them to of knowledge of the qualifications of the spend the latter years of their existence different candidates, would present itself in ease and retirement, that list was estab. in the first instance, and ultimately lead to lished, and all upon it received 3001. a the destruction of the service. The inyear. If the superannuation pay appeared fluence used to obtain promotion would too small, let it be increased. That House be at once most absurd and ridiculous. would then consider, that the patronage If the House of Lords took upon them, of the first lord of the Admiralty would selves a promotion of admirals, one lord be increased in the same proportion, and would rise in this place and say, “ Pray he had more to give away than he could don't pass over my brother, make him an well dispose of already. If in the late pro- admiral!" another would start up in that motion of captains to flags, he had been place and intercede for his relation, Nor guilty of error, let the error be shown, would applications be confined within and he should not feel ashamed to 'ac- those walls ; each noble lord would be knowledge it. That the half-pay of a pestered at home to intercede for different rear-admiral had been offered to those offi- captains; nay, even the ladies and the cers who were superseded, was certainly House well knew the irresistible fascination true ; but it was upon no other ground of female influence would catch hold of a than as a compensation for past services; peer's hand, clasp it with ardour, and say, nor did such a measure need the counter - My dear lord, pray get my son made an nance of a precedent. One, indeed, of this admiral!" If parliament must go out of nature took place when a late gallant its way, and take military promotion into lord (Hawke) sat at the head of the Admi. their hands, he really thought it would be ralty department.
better for the House of Commons to have Lord Hawke rose to vindicate the con the promotion of admirals in their hands, duct of his father, and denied that it was a than the House of Lords. The Comprecedent in point, because that promo mons would, no doubt, receive numberless tion had taken place with the approbation petitions from the different boroughs reof parliament. He reprobated that system presented, and their constituents would of naval distinction which overlooked the send them up instructions who was fit to veteran officers, in order to get at the man be voted for. But, ridicule apart, he felt who had the chance of being the longest it his duty to conjure the House to let liver. It was a system which every man military promotions remain, where only who had at heart the honour of the ser- they could rest with propriety, in the vice, must view with indignation. He hands of the executive government. Let would therefore, give the motion his cor- parliament place a due confidence in the dial support.
first lord of the admiralty, and suffer him The Earl of Sandwich thought it ex to exercise the discretion that belonged to tremely improper for that House to inter his situation, unmolested by their interfefere with the executive government. They rence. The responsibility lay with that had much better leave it to itself, and officer and the board ; and there the disthose noble lords who would advise the cretion ought to rest likewise. Whenever House to accede to the present proposi. a complaint was formally made of breach
of trust, or improper conduct in any res- annuated List had been originally received ponsible member of administration, the with universal applause, and generally conHouse had a right to institute an inquiry, sidered as a humane and benevolent instiand upon sufficient proof of the facts al tution. Those captains who were put upon leged, to address his Majesty to remove it were not stigmatized, as the noble mover the minister so misconducting himself. had contended, nor in any degree disThat was the constitutional power of par- graced ; but it was an honourable retreat liament, and one of its most important from service. The noble lord had also and salutary privileges; but it was widely stated, that the late promotion had been distinct from that or the other House ta- altogether without a precedent. No such king upon themselves to exercise the thing. There were a great number of functions of the executive government. precedents for it. In short, there was For his own part, he would not enter into scarcely a precedent to the contrary.any discussion of the late promotion of Besides, what did the present motion captains to flags, because he did not mean? It desired his Majesty to take think that House the proper place the case of the officers in whose behalf the for such a discussion ; but, having himself motion was made, into his consideration. had a share in forming the establish That had been done already, since, he had ment which, in vulgar, words, was termed no doubt, the noble viscount at the head the list of Yellow Admirals, but the of the Admiralty knew his duty too well, true name of which was the Superan- not to have consulted his Majesty, and ngated List, he would state to the House stated his reasons before the promotions the origin of the establishment. It had were decided. Was it his Majesty's better been found at different periods, extremely consideration of the case of the officers inconvenient and detrimental to the service that was desired by the motion? If so that promotions to flags should be go- let their lordships consider, for a moment, verned by seniority. In 1747, a promotion the gross impropriety of their interfering to flags was necessary, and those then at with the prerogative in a case of that the Board well knew that there were on nature. If they did it in one instance, the list of captains several officers in a they would be called on to do it in superior degree qualified to command another and what infinitely mischievfleets: but the difficulty was how to come ous consequences might not such an. at them, without loading the public with unwise confusion of the distinct funcan intolerable expense. In concert, there- tions of the distinct branches of the legis. fore, with two noble lords, for whose lature lead to! With regard to the noble memory the country ought to entertain viscount's reasons for having passed over the most grateful respect, the Superan- some captains, undoubtedly it must have nuated List had been formed. The noble been painful for him, as a professional persons to whom he alluded, were, the one man, to have considered it his duty so to á land, the other a naval character, both regulate the promotion. No first lord of men of acknowledged judgment, ability, the Admiralty, who had any feeling, had and zeal for their country. He meant the made a select promotion of officers to flags, late duke of Bedford, and the late lord without being impressed with sensations Anson. With them he had taken his extremely painful, but, whatever had been share in planning the Superannuated List, the reasons by which either the noble and he had been the person in whose hands viscount, or any former lord of the Admiit had principally been brought to bear. ralty had been governed, it would prove in The object of it was, to provide an income the highest degree improper publicly to for such captains, as, in a promotion to state them. It was not in human nature flags, the Board of Admiralty did not for any man to think himself insufficient: appoint admirals, not meaning to call them and, undoubtedly, one officer believed out into farther service. At the time of himself to be as fit for an admiral as aninstituting the establishment, the object other. Would it, therefore, be humane, was to make eight admirals only, and in or even justifiable, for a first lord of the order to that, nineteen captains were passed | Admiralty to single out and characterize over; and yet, there was no complaint what he held to be such disqualifications then, no motion before that House to as rendered it incompatible with the good address his Majesty on the subject, nor of the service for such and such captains any idea of injustice or partiality enter to be promoted to flags? He was aware tained. The establishment of the Super. that it might be deemed improper in him. [VOL. XXVII.]
to have taken any part in the debate: but withdraw, and it was on all hands adwhen he considered the respectable mitted, that such officers as had withdrawn quarter from which the motion came, and themselves from the service, had no claim found that the noble lord had not exa. to farther promotion. But, was that the mined it with his usual powers of investi- case with the officers in whose behalf he gation, he could not help troubling the had made the motion then upon the table ? House with the reasons which would impel Directly the reverse.' They were all him to give the motion his decided ne- officers lately in service, and ready and gative.
willing to be employed again. They were Lord Rawdon lamented that by some not men liable to be set aside upon so singular fatality the noble earl had totally harsh an imputation as incapacity. The mistaken him throughout his speech, since noble viscount had asked if a scieant of most of the sentiments expressed by the grenadiers, though a brave soldier was fit. noble earl were such as he was so far from to command on a dangerous enterprise ? objecting to, that he most fully concurred Were the cases in the smallest degree in them. The noble earl and he differed analogous ? Surely not. The officers for in one little particular; and this was, the whom he then contended had acrually been application of the motion, which, he must in command often. They were looked up contend, was not, in any degree, that to by their whole profession as officers of which the noble earl had argued it to be. the first ability, and as fit for command as The motion did not desire the House to any naval characters whatsoever. In the interfere with the prerogative, and assume higher ranks of the army, officers always and exercise the function of inilitary pro- rose by seniority, colonels became generals, motion. Had it been of that tendency, it and so on; and, unless there was some would have proved, he was ready to admit, stain in an officer's character, which renhighly indecent and improper. It only dered him unworthy of promotion and desired his Majesty to take the case of unfit for rank, he saw not the inconveseveral meritorious and able officers into nience that could arise from the same his royal consideration, upon the presump-practice obtaining in the Navy. Certain tion, that, in the late promotion to flags, he was, that the establishing a precedent their merits had been overlooked. To of a garbled list of promotion to flags, let havc rested it on any other ground would, it happen when it might, ought to be conin his opinion, havc been disrespectful to sidered as a most mischievous precedent. the Sovereign, and have carried with it an It was rank, and not emolument, for which imputation of partiality in the noble officers of true military feeling were anxious, viscount, which he was very far from To know that their country admitted that thinking that he deserved. He then they deserved to be thought well of, was stated a case of promotion to flags. in the their ambition; and the noble viscount as reign of queen Anne, when the captain of well as he, had witnessed the advantages admiral sir George Rooke's ship, who was of encouraging that glorious emulation in then at Portsmouth, just preparing to sail | both services during the late war in Ame. on an important expedition, was passed rica. The noble earl's argument went so by; sir George Rooke, thereupon, wrote far as to shut the door completely against to Prince George of Denmark, remon- inquiries into the conduct of a first lord of strating, against so gross an act of in- the Admiralty, on any occasion; a principle justice to his captain, and declared that which he hoped he should never see the he considered it as a personal affront to House adopt, since it was possible for a himself. Lord Rawdon produced one of marine minister to act as detrimentally sir George's letters to the prince, and read against the interest of his country, by a passage from it. Sir George wrote abusing his authority, and pursuing immany more letters to the prince on the proper measures, as the minister of any occasion; nor would he sail before justice other department in the state. was done to his captain, and he was re- ! The motion was negatived without a .stored to his rank. With regard to the division. nineteen captains that the noble earl had said were superannuated, to make eight | Debate in the Commons on the Omission admirals, the noble earl had not stated, of Captains Balfour and Thompson in the whether they had withdrawn themselves late Promotion of Flag-Officers.] Feb. 21. from the service or not. He had, there. Mr. Bastard began by remarking, that he fore, a right to canclude that they did felt differently respecting the motion he
was about to make, than he should have and the Senate became negligent of the done, had he been able to have brought it honour of their officers, the Roman arms forward on a preceding day. He had were no longer successful, and those who often observed, he said, that the success bore them, were reduced to the necessity of any proposition made in that House, of begging in the streets, like Belisarius. was a good deal governed by the supposed Having thus generally endeavoured to interest the mover had in it, or the con impress the House with a sense of their nexion in which he was believed to stand situation, as guardians and protectors of with those most immediately concerned. the honour of British officers, he came He thought it right, therefore, to declare, immediately to the point, and censured that he had no other interest in the ques- the late promotion to the flag, as a protion which he should have the honour to motion founded in inequality, and disreoffer, than every gentleman present must gardful of distinguished desert. Among have in the quiet, happiness, and well. other officers of undoubted merit, captains being of that service, which the House Balfour, Thompson, Laforey and sir Digby had ever regarded with partiality, and Dent, had been passed by totally unnowhich he should consider as pre-eminently ticed. He reasoned upon the evil conseentitled to his estimation. It was to the quence of such neglect, and called upon navy of England that the country was to the House to correct it, by an address to look up for its protection. Neither had his Majesty. So far from its being true, he any connexion with the officers prior that the House by acceding to such a to the late promotion to the flag, nor other proposition would be chargeable with an knowledge of them, than as men whose | improper interference with the prerogareputation stood high in their profession, tive, le contended, that the House would as men the companions of victory, the | do its duty in an eminent degree, and actors in those scenes which had reflected render essential service to the country, honour and glory on the British name and by showing that it was ready to stand character. That the House of Commons forward the advocate of neglected merit. was in a peculiar degree to be considered He produced the order of council of as the guardians of the interest and honour | 1747, establishing the list of Yellow Adof naval officers, was an opinion generally mirals, and maintained, that it was an entertained by professional men, and, he institution provided only for such officers believed, he could produce an authority as were unfit to serve either from want of in support of that assertion, which even capacity or from infirmity. He declared, the Admiralty-board itself would admit to that neither the one nor the other of be unquestionable-he meant the autho- | these was the case with the officers for rity of lord Howe. Mr. Bastard here read whom he was contending. He particuan extract from a speech made by lord larly urged the claims of captains Balfour Howe in the House of Commons, when and Thompson to the interference of that the thanks of the House were voted to House, as they both stood in a predicalord Rodney and the other officers, con- ment peculiar and distinct from the other cerned in obtaining the victory on the officers, who had been passed by in the 12th of April 1782, in which his lordship late promotion to flags, having received stated, that the protection of that House the thanks of the House for their conduct was what officers looked up to, and what on the 12th of April, 1782. He should, contributed essentially to keep emulation therefore, make them the subjects of a alive. Mr. Bastard pursuing this subject, distinct motion, and if the House thought remarked, that the public opinion was proper to agree to that, he meant to bring the principal aim and object of every forward the other officers, who had been officer; and when that was lost, the passed by, in a subsequent motion. He ardour of the service sunk, the spirits argued against the impolicy of suffering of those employed became dejected, and naval promotions to depend merely on disgrace to the country followed. This the caprice of a first lord of the Admihad been the case in the state of Rome. ralty, and put it to the House to consider While the people took an interest in the the probable consequence of their refusing character and welfare of their officers, to do captains Balfour and Thompson the their arms were victorious in all quarters justice that was their due. What a lesson of the globe, and the Roman name was would it hold out to the service, and what heard every where with reverence ; but would gentlemen whose sons were herewhen dissipation had distanced virtue, after to enter into the naval profession,