George the Third - from War with Republican France, A.D. 1792, to end of A.D. 1802.
We will briefly run over a few events which occurred previous to the breaking out of the first revolutionary war.
On May the 29th, 1782, the Royal George, of 100 guns, being heeled over at Spithead to repair a pipe which led under water, the lower-deck guns having been run out, the water rushed with such rapidity in at the port-holes that she filled and sank—Rear-Admiral Kempenfeldt, with more than half his officers, and four hundred persons, perishing, many of them the wives and children of the seamen and marines on board.
We are apt to consider that the uniform of the navy differed greatly from the army; but in an order dated the 11th of January, 1783, admirals, vice-admirals, and rear-admirals were directed to wear coats very similar to those worn by generals, lieutenant-generals, and major-generals respectively, in the army, with the exception of the crown and anchor buttons.
In the month of June, 1785, his Royal Highness Prince William Henry, who had now served his time as a midshipman, passed his examination, and was appointed third lieutenant of the Hébé frigate, of 40 guns.
In 1785 a debate arose in the House of Commons on the propriety of repairing the old 64-gun ships, and also suffering ships of war to remain in ordinary with the copper on their bottoms. Captain Macbride thought that the 64-gun ships should be either broken up or sold, and recommended in future none less than seventy-fours to be built for the line of battle. He also pointed out the mischievous effects that might ensue in suffering ships to be laid up with their copper on, alleging that the copper would in time corrode the bolts; in consequence of which the ships’ bottoms might drop out. He had examined a coppered ship under repair, and found the bolts corroded and eaten away. Ships had, however, before this time, been fastened with copper bolts, and probably those seen by Captain Macbride were either iron bolts cased only with copper or composition.
The supplies granted by Parliament for the sea-service for the year 1789 amounted to 2,328,570 pounds.
On the 24th of November, 1787, the Bounty, of 215 tons, commanded by Lieutenant William Bligh, sailed from Spithead, for the Pacific Ocean, to obtain a supply of the bread-fruit tree. On the 28th of April, 1789, some of his officers and crew mutinied, and took possession of the ship, casting the commander and those who remained firm to him adrift in an open boat. The hardihood and judgment he displayed in conducting his boat’s crew across the Pacific to Batavia are well known.
Many useful contrivances have been invented by inferior officers of the navy. Among others, Mr Hill, the carpenter of the Active, invented a machine for drawing bolts out of ships’ sides. He also invented a method for stopping shot-holes.
In 1791 some experiments were made on board a ship in Portsmouth Harbour, when he stopped a shot-hole on the outside of the ship, four feet under water, in the space of one minute, without the assistance of any person out of the vessel. He stopped in the same manner a space in the ship’s side, four feet under water, of four feet by four inches, in two minutes and a-half. During the time of effectually curing both leaks, the ship made only ten inches water in the well.
He also invented a wheel to work the chain-pump, which was much safer and less liable to get out of order than that before in use.
The French Revolution broke out in 1792. On the 21st of the following January, the French beheaded their king, Louis the Sixteenth; in consequence of which the French ambassador at the court of London was ordered to quit England. A short time before this the new Republic had exhibited its hostile spirit against England, and on the 2nd of January a shot had been fired from one of the batteries near Brest on the British 16-gun brig-sloop Childers. Though a 48-pounder shot struck her, no one was hurt.
On the 1st of February the National Convention declared war against Great Britain and the United Netherlands.