George the Second.

Soon after the accession of George the Second in 1727, a peace was concluded with Spain, which lasted twelve years.

Parliament voted a sum of 780,000 pounds to pay the wages of 15,000 seamen.

On the 16th of April, by an order in council, twenty of the oldest surgeons in the Royal Navy were to be allowed two shillings and sixpence per day, half-pay, and the twenty next in seniority two shillings per day.

Notwithstanding the treaty with Spain, the Spaniards continued to annoy the British trade, and to treat British subjects with the greatest insolence and inhumanity. As an instance, Robert Jenkins, master of the Rebecca brig, of Glasgow, was boarded by a Guarda Costa. The Spaniards treated the crew with the greatest barbarity, and cut off one of the master’s ears, which the captain of the Guarda Costa, giving to Jenkins, insolently told him to carry that present home to the king his master, whom, if he were present, he would serve in the same manner. Some years afterwards, when Jenkins was examined at the bar of the House of Commons, being asked what he thought when he found himself in the hands of such barbarians, he replied with great coolness, “I recommended my soul to God, and my cause to my country.”

Four 20-gun ships and two sloops of war were sent out, therefore, to the West Indies to cruise for the protection of British trade.

In 1731 an account of the reflecting or Hadley’s quadrant appeared in a paper given by a member of the Royal Society. After Dr Hadley’s death, however, among his papers a description was found of an instrument not much dissimilar to Hadley’s, written by Sir Isaac Newton, who may, therefore, be considered the first inventor of the reflecting quadrant.

In 1732 the king granted a commission to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to erect a corporation to relieve the poor widows of sea-officers. The terms of admission to the institution were that each member, who must be an officer in the navy, was to allow threepence in the pound per annum out of his pay. Soon after the establishment of this fund, Lieutenant George Crow generously resigned his half-pay for the use of this charity, stating that he had a competency to live on. The king gave 10,000 pounds for the support of the charity.

The Sallee rovers still continued very daring and troublesome to our trade, and in 1734 a small squadron was sent out, under Captain James Cornwall in the Greyhound, to block up the ports of Morocco, and capture the vessels of the barbarians. Two large corsairs were taken and destroyed, and 140 British subjects released by the Emperor of Morocco, who concluded a treaty with Great Britain.

That year his majesty issued his royal proclamation recalling all British seamen from the service of foreign powers, and offering a bounty of twenty shillings to every able-bodied seaman, and fifteen shillings to every able-bodied landsman who should enter the navy.

In the following year 30,000 men were voted for the sea-service.

An Act of Parliament was passed this year appropriating the rents of the estates of the Earl of Derwentwater and Charles Ratcliff to the completion of the royal hospital at Greenwich. By this Act all seamen in the merchant-service who may happen to be maimed, not only in fighting against pirates, but also in fighting against any enemy whatever, should be admitted into, and provided for, in that hospital.

In 1739, Spain still obstinately refusing to make any compensation for the injuries inflicted on English merchant-vessels by guarda costas, Great Britain prepared for war. Numerous ships were put in commission, and letters of marque and reprisal were issued by the Admiralty against Spain. For some time previously the opponents of the English ministry were continually taunting them with their want of courage. Among others, Admiral Vernon, who was then in Parliament, boasted that with six ships he would undertake to capture the Spanish settlement of Porto Bello. The whole nation fully believing him, a squadron was at once placed under his command, when, after remaining for a few days at Port Royal, Jamaica, he sailed on the 5th of November, with six ships of war. Light winds prevented him reaching Porto Bello till the 20th, when, on the following day, Commodore Brown, who led in the Hampton Court, got close to the Iron Castle, where, being becalmed by the high land to windward, she was exposed for some time to a smart fire from the enemy, without being able to return it. As soon, however, as she could do so, she began firing her broadside with such rapidity that she is said, in twenty-five minutes, to have expended four hundred shot. She was soon supported by theBurford, Norwich, and Warwick; these ships opened a tremendous fire, and did great execution, the small-arms from their tops compelling the Spaniards to desert their guns. As the boats with seamen and marines passed the admiral, he ordered them to land immediately under the walls, though there was no breach made, nor had the scaling-ladders arrived. As a substitute for them, however, one man placed himself close to the wall under an embrasure, while another climbed upon his shoulders. Thus the sailors became masters of the fort, and drew up the soldiers. The Spaniards, panic-stricken, tied, and the seamen, no longer obedient to the commands of their officers, plundered the town, and committed great outrages on the inhabitants. The governor soon after this hoisted the white flag and surrendered at discretion. Two ships of 20 guns each and other vessels were taken in the harbour, as also ten thousand dollars intended for the payment of the garrison, which the admiral ordered to be distributed among the British forces for their encouragement.

The squadron’s loss amounted to scarcely twenty men, while a large number of great guns, powder, and shot were captured. To prevent the place from being longer an asylum for the enemy’s guarda costas, Admiral Vernon directed the whole of the fortifications to be dismantled and blown up. The news of this success caused unbounded satisfaction at home.

In 1740 two Acts were passed, one for the better supply of seamen to serve in the Royal Navy, one allowing English merchant-vessels to be navigated by foreign sailors, not exceeding three-fourths of the crew, such foreign seamen serving for two years to be considered natural-born subjects. Another was to prevent impressment of seamen of the age of fifty or upwards, and all such as have not attained the full age of eighteen; also all foreigners serving in merchant-vessels, sea-apprentices for the first three years, and persons of any age for the first two years of their being at sea. A new board was also appointed to superintend the business of the Sick and Hurt Office. The charge of the prisoners of war was also intrusted to this board.

Anson, one of the most celebrated of British admirals, entered the navy in 1712, as a volunteer on board the Ruby, Captain Chamberlain, with whom he continued for several years, till, in 1718, he was appointed second lieutenant of the Montague. After commanding the Weasel sloop, he was promoted to the rank of post-captain in 1724. After commanding numerous ships, and conducting himself with much ability and discretion, he was selected to command that expedition to the South Seas which made his name famous. In 1740 he sailed from Spithead on the 18th of September, with a squadron of five ships, the Centurion, of 60 guns; the Gloucester, of 50, Captain Norris; the Sovereign, of 50, Captain Legge; the Pearl, of 40 guns, Captain Mitchell; the Wager, 28, Captain Kidd; the Tryal, 8 guns, Captain Murray; and two victuallers, the Anna andIndustry pinks. On board the Wager sailed the Honourable John Byron, then a midshipman. The Wager must serve as an example for the rest of the ships. She was an old Indiaman, bought into the service, and now fitted out as a man-of-war, but also deeply laden with stores and merchandise of all sorts. Her crew consisted of men pressed from long voyages, while her land forces were a wretched detachment of infirm and decrepit invalids from Chelsea Hospital, desponding under the prospect of a long voyage. Her commander, Captain Kidd, before his death, predicted that misfortunes would overtake her. The Centurion, however, under the judicious management of Commodore Anson, performed a successful voyage, and had the good fortune to capture a rich Spanish galleon.

In consequence of the way ships had suffered from the attacks of worms on former occasions, those now destined for the West Indies were sheathed by a new process.

On the 25th of February Admiral Vernon again sailed on an expedition against Carthagena, but finding his force inadequate to reduce it, after refitting at Porto Bello, he proceeded to the river Chagres, an accurate chart of which he had obtained from the pirate Lowther, who, by doing this piece of service, had his majesty’s pardon granted him. The castle of San Lorenzo was quickly captured, and a large amount of merchandise and plate found in the place. After blowing up the fortifications, and destroying two guarda costas, he returned to Jamaica. He next, being joined by Sir Challoner Ogle with a large body of troops, attacked Carthagena; forcing a beam which had been laid across the harbour, the fleet entered and blew up a considerable number of forts, great gallantry being shown by the commanders of the ships of war and their crews. The British troops, however, were repulsed with great slaughter in their attempts to storm Fort Saint Lazare. In consequence of sickness, it became at length necessary to raise the siege, and the admiral returned to Jamaica. The establishment of a settlement on the island of Rattan and an attack on Cuba were designed by Admiral Vernon, but this and other plans were thwarted by the commander of the land forces, General Wentworth—showing the inconvenience which, in nearly all instances, arises from a division of command. Probably, had the whole power been vested with Admiral Vernon, his plans would have succeeded. Soon after his arrival in England, in consequence of a disagreement with the Admiralty, he was deprived of his command in 1746, after which he did not again go to sea. Probably in consequence of observing the ill effects of undiluted spirits among his crews in the West Indies, he was the first to order a sailor’s allowance of rum to be mixed with water, to which the name of grog has since been given.

During this war the English merchants lost a number of their vessels in the British Channel and the German Ocean, the prizes being carried into Vigo, Bilboa, and San Sebastian, where the poor sailors suffered inexpressible hardships, being driven barefooted a hundred or two hundred miles up the country, lodged in damp dungeons, and fed only on bread and water. On hearing of this treatment, the British Government allowed to every prisoner sixpence a-day, which was regularly paid to them. On the other hand, the English ships of war and privateers took several valuable prizes from the Spaniards, and destroyed many of their privateers; while the masters of the merchant-ships bravely defended themselves, and were never taken but by a superior force. One of these actions is worthy of being recorded. On the 27th of December, the Pulteney privateer, a large brigantine, mounting 16 carriage-guns and 26 swivels, with 42 men, commanded by Captain James Purcell, was standing into the Bay of Gibraltar after a cruise, when she was seen from Old Gibraltar, from whence 2 large Spanish xebeques, each carrying 120 men, 12 carriage-guns, and a great number of patereroes and musquetoons, were sent out to take her. They soon came up with her, a little to the eastward of Europa Point, and almost within reach of the guns of Gibraltar. In the bay lay an 80-gun ship, but without her topmasts, so that the only way of assisting the privateer was to send a reinforcement of men, which might easily have reached her before the xebeques, but the commander of the ship of war, alleging that so small a vessel could not escape, declined to do so. The gallant Captain Purcell, however, was of a different opinion, and resolved to defend his vessel to the last, being supported by his officers and men. After the Spaniards had fired a few single guns, they came near and hailed the vessel by her name, the captain entreating the English to strike and preserve their lives. These threats were returned by thePulteney’s guns. The Spaniards then attempted to board, but were resolutely beaten off. They twice more renewed the attempt; Captain Purcell having prudently reserved half his broadside, they had not the courage to board him. For an hour and three-quarters the engagement continued, till the Spaniards, unable to stand the pounding they were receiving, made off with their oars towards Malaga, having lost above a hundred of their men—the Pulteney having had but one man killed and five more badly wounded, though it is remarkable that every man on board was shot through the clothes, the sails and rigging were cut to pieces, and some 9-pounders went through the hull and masts of the privateer. The governor, officers, and principal inhabitants of Gibraltar, who were witnesses of the action, to show Captain Purcell the high estimation in which they held his character, presented him with a piece of plate with a suitable inscription, and gave a handsome reward to the sailors for their bravery.

In 1742 the Tiger, of 50 guns, Captain Herbert, was lost on a cayo near the island of Tortuga, when the crew got on shore and saved most of their stores. They then mounted twenty of the ship’s guns for their protection, thus saving themselves from being made prisoners by the Spaniards, who had sent a ship, El Fuerte, of 60 guns, for that purpose. In the attempt, however, she also got on shore and was lost. On this cayo Captain Herbert remained nearly two months. At length, a sloop and schooner appeared off the spot; Captain Herbert, pulling off in his boats, boarded and took them, and returned in them with his ship’s company safe to Jamaica.

In 1744, the French fleet having united with that of Spain, war was declared against France. Admiral Matthews was at this time commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean. In an action which ensued soon afterwards, Admiral Matthews accused his second in command, Admiral Lestock, of not doing his duty, and sent him to England, but was himself recalled to undergo a court-martial, the issue of which was that he was dismissed and rendered for ever incapable of serving his majesty. Several other officers were also tried on various charges, some of whom were cashiered. The sentence of several of them was considered extremely hard, and many circumstances appearing in their favour, his majesty was pleased to restore them to their former rank. Courts-martial, indeed, appear to have taken place very frequently. Discipline was often lax, and that high tone which afterwards prevailed in the navy was apparently greatly wanting.

An action, which, had the English been successful, would have saved the lives and fortunes of many of the leading Jacobites, took place in 1745. On the 9th July of that year the Lion, a 60-gun ship of 400 men, commanded by Captain Piercy Brett, being on a cruise, fell in with the Elizabeth, a French ship of war, of 64 guns and 600 men, and a small frigate, the latter having on board Prince Charles, son of the old Pretender, and several officers of distinction who were accompanying him in order to support his cause in Scotland. At five o’clock in the evening the Lion got within pistol-shot of the Elizabeth, when a most obstinate battle began, and continued with great fury till ten, at which time the Lion had lost her mizen-mast, all her other masts and yards being so much wounded, and rigging and sails cut to pieces, that she became unmanageable. TheElizabeth not being so much crippled in her rigging, her commander availed himself of the opportunity, to set what sail he could, and got off. TheLion had 45 men killed and 107 wounded. Among the latter were Captain Brett, with all his lieutenants and the master. The Elizabeth had her captain and 64 men killed, and 144 wounded. She was so much damaged that it was with difficulty she reached Brest. The frigate pursuing her course landed Prince Charles at Lochaber on the 27th day of July.

In order to prevent succours being sent to the rebels from France, Admiral Vernon proceeded with a strong squadron to the Downs, and Rear-Admiral Byng was sent with some ships to the coast of Scotland.

English ship-owners and merchants had sent many large privateers of considerable force to sea, and they were especially fortunate this year. ThePrince Frederick, of 28 guns and 250 men, commanded by Captain James Talbot, fell in off the western islands with two large French ships with valuable cargoes, which had just returned from the South Seas. After an obstinate engagement they captured the Marquis D’Autin, of 400 tons, 24 guns, and 68 men; and the Lewis Erasmus, of 500 tons, 28 guns, and 66 men. The privateers and their prizes having been convoyed to Bristol by three men-of-war, the treasure and plate taken out of them were put into forty-five waggons and carried to London, when, upon a division of the prize-money, each sailor’s share amounted to 850 pounds. The captains and crews of the privateers behaved with great generosity to their prisoners, allowing them to keep their valuable effects, and when the common men were landed, they distributed to each twenty guineas. The proprietors, whose share amounted to 700,000 pounds, made a voluntary tender of it to the Government to assist in putting down the Jacobite rebellion.

Another privateer took a Spanish ship worth 400,000 pounds; and another, one of 50,000 pounds; but a fourth, the Surprise, commanded by Captain Redmond, was less fortunate, for having taken a French East India ship, after an action of six hours, with a cargo valued at 150,000 pounds, the prize, from the number of shot in her hull, sank the next day with all her wealth on board.

There are many instances of captains of privateers being at once given commands in the Royal Navy. Captain Rous in the Shirley galley, and ten more stout privateers, having escorted a body of troops from Boston to assist in the reduction of Louisbourg, as a reward, his majesty directed that the privateer, which carried 24 guns, should be purchased into the navy as a post-ship, and Captain Rous appointed to command her.

Fortunes were very frequently rapidly made, not only by commanders of privateers, but by captains of men-of-war. Among these fortunate men was Captain Frankland, afterwards Admiral Thomas Frankland. When in command of the Rose, of 20 guns and 125 men, being on a cruise off the coast of South Carolina, he fell in with La Concepcion, of 20 guns and 326 men, from Carthagena bound to Havannah; and after a severe and obstinate battle captured her, she having 116 killed and 40 wounded, while he had only 5 men killed and 13 wounded. Her cargo consisted of 800 serons of cocoa, 68 chests of silver, gold and silver coin to a large amount, plate, a curious two-wheeled chase, the wheels, axles, etcetera, all of silver, diamonds, pearls, precious stones, and gold. So great was the quantity of money that the shares were delivered by weight, to save the trouble of counting it; and when the cargo was taken out of the ship, and she was put up for sale, the French captain, upon the promise of reward from Captain Frankland, discovered to him 30,000 pistoles which were concealed in a place that no one would ever have thought of looking for them. Captain Frankland presented the French captain with a thousand pistoles, with which he was far from contented.

The captain also made another fortunate discovery by means of a young French boy whom he had taken into his service. The boy complained to him that one of the sailors had taken from him a stick which was in appearance of no value. Captain Frankland recovered it for the boy, and on returning it gave him a tap on the shoulder, when, hearing something rattle, he took off the head, and found jewels (according to the Frenchman’s account) worth 20,000 pistoles. When the captain surrendered, he had given this stick to the boy in the hopes of saving it, not imagining such a trifle would be ever noticed.

That year 531 prizes were taken from the Spaniards and French, but the English lost very nearly as many, though their vessels were smaller and of much less value.

Mr William Brown, master of the Shoreham, having been placed by Captain Osborne in command of a small privateer of 2 guns and 12 swivels, captured a Spanish privateer of 10 guns and 18 swivels; and shortly afterwards another of 5 guns and 32 men; and was for his gallantry promoted by the Lords of the Admiralty to the command of a sloop of war.

Among the gallant deeds performed at this time, an action fought by the Fame, a privateer belonging to Liverpool, and commanded by Captain Fortunatus Wright, deserves to be recorded. While on a cruise in the Levant, she encountered sixteen French ships, one of them mounting 20 guns, with 150 men, fitted out expressly for the purpose of taking her. They engaged her furiously for three hours off the island of Cyprus, when the large ship was run ashore and her crew fled up the country. The Fame’s crew then boarded and brought her off.

By an Act of Parliament passed this year, every ship in Great Britain or his majesty’s plantations in North America was compelled on first going to sea to be furnished with a complete suit of sails, made of sail-cloth manufactured in Great Britain, under a penalty of fifty pounds. It was also enacted that every sail-maker in Britain or the plantations shall on every new sail affix in letters and words at length his name and place of abode, under a penalty of ten pounds.

By an order in council dated the 10th of February, 1747, established rank was first given to the officers in the Royal Navy, and a uniform clothing appointed to be worn by admirals, captains, lieutenants, and midshipmen. Hitherto they had dressed much as suited their fancy. The crew of a man-of-war must have looked more like a band of pirates than a well-ordered ship’s company of the present day. Even in later days midshipmen sometimes appeared on the deck of a man-of-war in rather extraordinary costume, as the following account, taken from the journal of an old admiral, will show.

“As we midshipmen met on board the cutter which was to carry us to Plymouth, we were not, I will allow, altogether satisfied with our personal appearance, and still less so when we stepped on the quarter-deck of the seventy-four, commanded by one of the proudest and most punctilious men in the service, surrounded by a body of well-dressed, dashing-looking officers. Tom Peard first advanced as chief and oldest of our gang, with a bob-wig on his head, surmounted by a high hat bound by narrow gold lace, white lapels to his coat, a white waistcoat, and light blue inexpressibles with midshipman’s buttons. By his side hung a large brass-mounted hanger, while his legs were encased in a huge pair of waterproof boots. I followed next, habited in a coat ‘all sides radius,’ as old Allen, my schoolmaster, would have said, the skirt actually sweeping the deck, and so wide that it would button down to the very bottom—my white cuffs reaching half-way up the arm to the elbow. My waistcoat, which was of the same snowy hue, reached to my knees, but was fortunately concealed from sight by the ample folds of my coat, as were also my small clothes. I had on white-thread stockings, high shoes and buckles, and a plain cocked hat, a prodigiously long silver-handled sword completing my costume. Dick Martingall’s and Tom Painter’s dresses were not much less out of order, giving them more the appearance of gentlemen of the highway than of naval officers of respectability. One had a large brass sword, once belonging to his great-grandfather, a trooper in the army of the Prince of Orange, the other a green-handled hanger, which had done service with Sir Cloudsley Shovel.” The writer and his friends had to beat a precipitate retreat from the Torbay, as, with a stamp of his foot, their future captain ordered them to begone, and instantly get cut-down and reduced into ordinary proportions by the Plymouth tailors. This description refers to some thirty years later than the time we are speaking of. The tailor had taken his models, the writer observes, from the days of Benbow; or rather, perhaps, from the costumes of those groups who go about at Christmas time enacting plays in the halls of the gentry and nobility, and are called by the west-country folks “geese-dancers.”

Vice-Admiral Anson, who had returned from his voyage to the Pacific, was now placed in command of a powerful fleet, and sent to cruise on the coast of France. He and Rear-Admiral Warren sailed from Plymouth on the 9th of April to intercept the French fleet, with which it fell in on the 3rd of May off Cape Finisterre, convoying a large number of merchantmen. Admiral Anson had made the signal to form line of battle, when Rear-Admiral Warren, suspecting the enemy to be merely manoeuvring to favour the escape of the convoy, bore down and communicated his opinion to the admiral, who thereon threw out a signal for a general chase. The Centurion, under a press of sail, was the first to come up with the rearmost French ship, which she attacked in so gallant a manner that two others dropped astern to her support. Three more English ships coming up, the action became general. The French, though much inferior in numbers, fought with great spirit till seven in the evening, when all their ships were taken, as well as nine sail of East India ships. The enemy lost 700 men, killed and wounded, and the British 250. Among the latter was Captain Grenville of the Defiance, to whom a monument was erected by his uncle, Lord Cobham, in his gardens at Stowe. Upwards of 300,000 pounds were found on board the ships of war, which were conveyed in twenty waggons by a military escort to London.

So pleased was the king with this action that, after complimenting Admiral Anson, he was created a peer of Great Britain, and Rear-Admiral Warren was honoured with the order of the Bath.

A sad accident occurred shortly afterwards in an action off the Azores, when the Dartmouth, Captain Hamilton, of 50 guns, while engaging for some hours the Glorioso, a Spanish ship of 74 guns and 750 men, caught fire and blew up, every soul with her brave commander perishing, except Lieutenant O’Bryan and eleven seamen, who were saved by the boats of a privateer in company. The Dartmouth’s consort, the Russell, pursuing the Spaniard, captured her after a warm engagement.

As an encouragement and relief to disabled and wounded seamen in the merchant-service, an Act of Parliament was passed in this year authorising the masters of merchant-vessels to detain sixpence per month from the wages of seamen. It was extended also to the widows and children of such seamen as should be killed or drowned. A corporation was established for the management of this fund.

Admiral Hawke in command of another squadron, was equally successful, having captured in one action no less than six large French ships.

The war terminated at the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. The total number of ships taken from the French and Spaniards amounted in all to 3434, while the entire loss of English merchant-vessels amounted to 3238.

In 1744 Admiral Sir John Balchen, whose flag was flying on board the Victory, was returning from Gibraltar, when, having reached the channel on the 3rd of October, the fleet was overtaken by a violent storm. The Exeter, one of the squadron, lost her main and mizen-mast, and it became necessary to throw twelve of her guns overboard to prevent her from sinking, while other ships suffered much. On the 4th the Victory separated from the fleet, and was never more heard of. She had on board nearly a thousand men, besides fifty volunteers, sons of the first nobility and gentry in the kingdom. It is supposed that she struck upon a ridge of rocks off the Caskets, as from the testimony of the men who attended the light, and the inhabitants of the island of Alderney, minute-guns were heard on the nights of the 4th and 5th, but the weather was too tempestuous to allow boats to go out to her assistance. The king settled a pension of 500 pounds per annum on Sir John Balchen’s widow.

As an example of the danger those on board fire-ships ran, a fearful accident which happened to one of them must be mentioned. While the fleet of Admiral Matthews was engaged with the Spaniards in the Mediterranean, he ordered the Anne galley fire-ship, commanded by Captain Mackay, to go down and burn the Real. In obedience to his orders, that brave officer approached the Spanish admiral. Notwithstanding the heavy fire opened on his vessel, he ordered all his people off the deck, and boldly steered the fire-ship, with a match in his hand. As he approached, he found that the enemy’s shot had such an effect that his ship was fast sinking; at the same time, observing a large Spanish launch rowing towards him, he opened fire on her with his guns, when, on a sudden, the fire-ship appeared in a blaze, and almost immediately blew up, but at a distance too great either to grapple or damage the Real. The gallant commander, with his lieutenant, gunner, mate, and two quartermasters, perished.

The Admiralty at this time appear to have considered that the best way of inducing naval officers to perform their duty was to shoot or otherwise severely punish them if they did not. On the 22nd of April, 1745, the Anglesea, of 40 guns and 250 men, commanded by Captain Jacob Elton, fell in with a French privateer of 50 guns and 500 men. After a severe action, in which the commander and his first lieutenant were killed, the ship being much disabled, and above sixty of her crew killed or wounded, Mr Barker Phillips, her second lieutenant, who succeeded to the command, surrendered her to the enemy. On his return to England, he was tried by a court-martial, and sentenced to be shot, which sentence was carried into execution on board the Princess Royal at Spithead.

The war again broke out in 1755, when information being received that the French were preparing a fleet of men-of-war to sail from different ports, the ministry immediately equipped a squadron, the command of which was given to Admiral Boscawen, who was ordered to proceed to North America. The first ships taken during the war were by the Dunkirk, Captain Howe, who after an engagement of five hours captured the Alcideand Lys, part of the squadron of M. de la Motte.

A fleet of ten ships, under the command of Admiral Byng, was sent out to the Mediterranean. With his squadron but imperfectly manned, he sailed from Spithead on the 7th of April. When off Minorca, then held by the English, and besieged by the Spaniards, a French fleet appeared in sight. The next day, the weather being hazy, the French fleet was not seen till noon, when Admiral Byng threw out an order to Rear-Admiral West to engage them, but he being at a distance did not understand these orders. He, however, with his whole division bearing away seven points, came up with the enemy, and attacked them with such impetuosity that several of their ships were soon obliged to quit the line. Byng’s division not advancing, Admiral West was prevented from pursuing his advantage for fear of being separated from the rest of the fleet, which, from unskilful manoeuvring, gave the enemy time to escape. On his arrival at Gibraltar the unfortunate Admiral Byng found that commissioners had arrived to arrest him and Admiral West, who were accordingly sent prisoners to England. Sir Edward Hawke, who had brought out reinforcements, immediately sailed up the Mediterranean, but on arriving off Minorca, to his mortification, saw the French flag flying from the Castle of San Felipe. The French fleet took shelter in Toulon, while Sir Edward Hawke had the command of the Mediterranean. The fall of Minorca caused the greatest dissatisfaction in England, and though undoubtedly the ministry were to blame for not having sent more troops to Minorca, and given Byng a larger fleet, he committed an error in not taking greater pains to engage the French fleet. A court-martial pronounced him guilty of a breach of the twelfth article of war, and condemned him to death. He was accordingly, on the 14th of March, shot on board the Monarch, in Portsmouth harbour—a sacrifice to popular clamour. The court which condemned him, however, declared that his misconduct did not proceed from want of courage or disaffection, and added to their report of their proceedings a petition to the Lords of the Admiralty requesting their lordships most earnestly to recommend him to his majesty’s clemency. The Government, however, having resolved on his death, allowed the law to take its course. The president of the court-martial was Vice-Admiral Thomas Smith, generally known in the service by the name of Tom of Ten Thousand. When he was lieutenant on board the Gosport in Plymouth Sound, and her captain on shore, Mr Smith directed a shot to be fired at a French frigate which, on passing, had neglected to pay the usual compliment to the flag. The Frenchman considering this as an insult offered to his flag, lodged a complaint against Mr Smith, who was tried by a court-martial and dismissed the service. His spirited conduct was, however, so much approved of by the nation, that he was promoted at once to the rank of post-captain.

In 1749 an Act of Parliament was passed authorising the Admiralty to grant commissions to flag-officers or any other officer commanding his majesty’s fleet or squadron of ships of war, to call and assemble courts-martial in foreign parts.

The sudden possession of wealth by the capture of prizes had undoubtedly a deteriorating effect on the minds of many officers of the navy. We may understand the disappointment which was felt by those serving under Admiral Knowles, who was cruising off the Havannah to intercept the expected Plate fleet, when a Spanish advice-boat brought into the squadron informed the admiral that the preliminary articles for a general peace were signed. The unpleasant news caused a general dejection throughout the whole squadron. Dissensions among the officers had for some time before prevailed, and these at length terminated in various courts-martial. It was probably this lust of wealth which induced the officers of theChesterfield, of 40 guns, commanded by Captain O’Brien Dudley, when off Cape Coast Castle, to mutiny. Samuel Couchman, the first lieutenant, John Morgan, the lieutenant of marines, Thomas Knight, the carpenter, were the ringleaders. They managed to seize the ship and carry her to sea while the captain and some others were on shore. By the spirited conduct of Mr Gastrien, the boatswain, and Messrs Gillan and Fraser, she was retaken from the mutineers thirty hours afterwards, and ultimately brought safe to Portsmouth, where the mutineers being tried, two of the principal officers were shot on board their ship. The four others and one seaman were hanged.

The animosity which had existed among the captains of the West India squadron was carried to serious lengths, and resulted in several duels, one of which was fought between Captains Clarke and Innes, in Hyde Park, when the latter was killed. Captain Clarke was tried, and received sentence of death, but his majesty granted him a free pardon. Another duel was fought between Admiral Knowles and Captain Holmes. After they had discharged two or three shots at each other, the seconds interfered, and they were reconciled. The king being informed that four more challenges had been sent to the admiral, ordered three of the officers to be taken into custody, which put an end to all further dissensions.

In 1753 an Act was passed to render more effectual the Act of the 12th of Queen Anne, for providing a public reward for such person or persons as should discover the longitude at sea.

In 1756 the Marine Society was instituted, owing to the patriotic zeal of the merchants of London, who entered into a liberal subscription to clothe and educate orphans or deserted and friendless boys to serve in the Royal Navy. It has proved of great advantage to the navy. In June, 1772, it was incorporated, and is governed by a president and six vice-presidents.

Among the most desperate engagements fought at this period the exploit of the Terrible privateer, commanded by Captain Death, deserves to be recorded. She carried 26 guns and 200 men. When on a cruise, she fell in with the Grand Alexander, from Saint Domingo, of 22 guns and 100 men, when, after an action of two hours, she captured her. Both vessels were considerably damaged; the Terrible had a lieutenant and sixteen men killed. While conducting her prize to England, and ill-prepared for a second engagement, she fell in with the Vengeance privateer, belonging to Saint Malo, of 36 guns and 360 men. The enemy having retaken the prize, manned her, and together bore down on the Terrible. Captain Death defended his ship with the greatest bravery against so unequal a force, but at length, he and half his crew being killed and most of the survivors badly wounded, the masts being shot away, she was compelled to strike. The enemy’s ship was also a complete wreck; her first and second captains were killed, with two-thirds of her crew. The merchants of London, as a testimony of their high sense of the gallant behaviour of Captain Death and his brave crew, opened a subscription at Lloyd’s coffee-house for the benefit of his widow; for the widows of the brave fellows who lost their lives with him, and for that part of the crew who survived the engagement.

Captain Fortunatus Wright, who had before been so successful in the Mediterranean, was now in command of the Saint George privateer cruising in the same sea. He had first a desperate battle with a French privateer twice his size, which he beat off, and then proceeded to Leghorn, where he was thrown into prison by the Austrian government. Admiral Hawke, on hearing of it, sent two ships to demand his immediate release. This request was complied with. Shortly afterwards the Saint George was overtaken by a furious storm, in which she foundered, her brave commander and crew perishing.

At this time, while Lord Clive was, by a series of victories, laying the foundation of the British Empire in the east, Admiral Watson commanded in the Indian seas. To assist the army the squadron entered the Hooghly, when a body of seamen was landed to attack the fort of Boujee. By a singular event it was carried without bloodshed. A seaman by the name of Strachan, belonging to the Kent, having drunk too much grog, strayed under the walls of the fort in the dead of night, and observing a breach, entered at it, giving loud huzzas. This alarmed some more of his comrades, who had also strayed the same way. They instantly mounted the breach, and drove the Indian garrison from the works. By this time the whole camp and squadron were alarmed, and the troops, flying to the fort, entered and gained possession of it without the loss of a man. After everything was quiet, Admiral Watson sent for Strachan to admonish him for his temerity, and addressing him, observed, “Strachan, what is this you have been doing?” The untutored hero, after having made his bow, scratching his head with one hand and twirling his hat with the other, replied, “Why, to be sure, sir, it was I who took the fort, but I hope there was no harm in it.” The admiral then pointed out to him the dreadful consequences that might have resulted from so rash an act, and insinuated as he left the cabin that he should be punished. Strachan, highly disappointed at this rebuke from the admiral when he thought himself entitled to applause, muttered as he was leaving the cabin, “If I’m flogged for this here action, I’ll never take another fort as long as I live.”

A gallant action fought in the West Indies, in the year 1757, is worthy of note. Admiral Cotes, commander-in-chief on the station, despatched Captain Arthur Forrest, of the 60-gun ship Augusta, with the Edinburgh, Captain Langdon, of 60 guns, and the Dreadnought, Captain Maurice Suckling, of 60 guns, to cruise off Cape François, where the French were assembling a fleet of merchant-vessels for Europe. The French squadron consisted of two seventy-fours, one sixty-four, one fifty, one forty-four, and two of thirty-two guns. On the 21st of October, early in the morning, the Dreadnought made the signal for the enemy. On this, Captain Forrest summoned his captains, and on their arrival on the Augusta’s quarter-deck, he observed, “Well, gentlemen, you see they are come out to engage us.” On this, Captain Suckling replied, “I think it would be a pity to disappoint them.” Captain Langdon being of the same opinion, the signal was thrown out to make all sail to close the enemy. So admirably were the three ships manoeuvred, and so well were their guns fought, that one of the enemy’s ships was dismasted and the whole fleet much disabled, with the loss of nearly 600 men killed and wounded, when they made sail to leeward. The British ships were so much cut up in their sails and rigging that it was impossible to follow. The Dreadnought had lost 9 killed, 20 dangerously and 10 slightly wounded, while every yard and mast was greatly injured. Shortly afterwards, Captain Forrest captured a French convoy consisting of 9 ships, carrying 112 guns and 415 men.

Among the many dashing officers of those days was Captain Gilchrist. When in command of the Southampton, of 32 guns and 220 men, he was on his way from Portsmouth to Plymouth, with money to pay the dockyard artificers. Being attacked at eleven at night, off Saint Alban’s Head, by five French privateers, two of them of equal force, he compelled them, after an action of two hours, to sheer off; his vessel being a perfect wreck, with several shot between wind and water, and ten men killed, and fourteen mortally wounded. The following September, when looking into Brest, a French ship came out, for which he waited. He reserved his fire till he got within twenty yards of her, when a most furious engagement began; the ships falling on board of each other. The enemy made an attempt to board the Southampton, but being vigorously repulsed, in a quarter of an hour after struck, and proved to be the Emeraude, a French frigate of 28 guns and 245 men, 60 of whom were either killed or wounded. The action was fought at such close quarters that the men used their handspikes, and two of the officers were killed by a discharge from Captain Gilchrist’s own blunderbuss. The Southampton had her second lieutenant and 19 men killed, and every officer except the captain, and 28 wounded. While conducting her prize into port, the Southampton captured an 18-gun privateer belonging to Dunkirk.

Among the worst ships in the service at that time were the two-deck 40 and 50 gun ships, for when any heavy sea was running, they were unable to open their lower-deck ports, and were thus of even less force than vessels carrying only 20 guns. Numerous instances of this occurred, and among others the Antelope, of 50 guns, Captain Thomas Saumarez, fell in with a French privateer of 22 guns. The Antelope being unable at the time to open her lower-deck ports in consequence of the heavy sea, it took her two hours to capture the privateer, which even then would probably have got off, had not her mizen-mast been shot away.

An action, celebrated in naval song, was that between the Monmouth, of 64 guns, commanded by Captain Gardiner, and the Foudroyant, of 84 guns. Captain Gardiner had been flag-captain to Admiral Byng in the action off Minorca, in which the Foudroyant bore the French admiral’s flag, and he had declared that if he should ever fall in with the Foudroyant he would attack her at all hazards, though he should perish in the encounter. In company with the Monmouth were the Swiftsure, 74, and the Hampton Court, 64; but the Monmouth soon ran her consorts out of sight, and at 8 p.m., getting up with the chase, commenced the action. Among the first wounded was the captain, but it being in the arm, he refused to go below. He soon knocked away some of the Foudroyant’s spars, and then carried his ship close under her starboard-quarter, where for four hours the Monmouth maintained the unequal contest. At 9 p.m. the gallant Gardiner was mortally wounded in the forehead by a musket-ball, when Lieutenant Robert Carket took command. Shortly afterwards the Monmouth’s mizen-mast was shot away, on which the French crew cheered; but the Foudroyant’s mizen-mast sharing the same fate, the British seamen returned the compliment, and in a little time down came the French ship’s main-mast. Still, she continued working her guns till some time after the arrival of the Swiftsure, when she surrendered. Her captain presented his sword to Lieutenant Carket, thus acknowledging that he was captured by the Monmouth. To understand the disparity between the two ships, their comparative broadside weight of metal should be known. That of the Monmouth was 540 pounds, that of the Foudroyant was 1136 pounds. The Foudroyant, which was taken into the service, was looked upon for many years as the finest ship in the British Navy. She exceeded by twelve feet in length the Chester British first-rate, and measured 1977 tons. All her guns abaft the main-mast were of brass. Lieutenant Carket was deservedly promoted to command her.

We must pass over one of the most memorable events of this reign, the capture of Quebec by General Wolfe, in which Captain Cook, then a master in the navy, first exhibited his talents and courage, and briefly describe an important naval action, that of Sir Edward Hawke in Quiberon Bay. The admiral sailed from Spithead early in June, 1759, with a powerful fleet to cruise off Brest and in soundings. Hence he despatched three small squadrons to scour the enemy’s coast. In November a heavy gale compelled Sir Edward Hawke to take shelter in Torbay. During his absence M. de Conflans got safe into Brest with his squadron from the West Indies. Believing that the coast was clear, he again put to sea on the 14th of November, and on the same day the British fleet sailed from Torbay. The next day Captain McCleverty, in the Gibraltar, joined Sir Edward, with the information that he had seen the French fleet about twenty-four leagues to the north-west of Belleisle, steering to the south-east. Sir Edward immediately shaped a course for Quiberon Bay. A strong wind forced the fleet to leeward; it shifted, however, on the 19th to the westward. TheMaidstone and Coventry frigates were ordered to look out ahead. The French admiral seeing them, sent some of his ships in chase, but soon after perceiving the British fleet, he recalled them, and formed in order of battle. On the approach of the British ships he crowded sail and pushed in for the land, not more than four or five leagues distant, in the hopes of entangling them among the rocks and shoals. In this he was disappointed, as the van ships of the English fleet were close up to his rear at half-past two o’clock, and in a few minutes the engagement became general. TheFormidable, carrying the flag of the French rear-admiral, was closely engaged by the Resolution, and having to sustain the fire of every ship that passed, was obliged to strike, he and 200 of his men being killed. Lord Howe, in the Magnanime attacked the Thésée, but the Montague running foul of the former so much disabled her, that she fell astern. Captain Keppel, in the Torbay, then attacked the Thésée, when a sudden squall coming on, the lower-deck ports of the latter ship not being closed, she filled and instantly sank. The Superbe shared a similar fate alongside of the Royal George. Lord Howe having got clear, bore down and attacked the Hero so furiously that he soon compelled her to strike. During the night, which proved very boisterous, she drove on shore and was lost. The enemy then endeavoured to make their escape; some succeeded, but several got ashore, as did the Essex and Resolution, but their crews were saved. The French admiral’s ship, the Soleil Royal, had in the dark anchored in the midst of the British fleet, on discovering which he cut his cable, when he drove ashore. On the weather moderating the boats of the squadron were sent in to destroy the French ships. The Soleil Royal was set on fire by her own crew, and the Hero by the British boats. La Juste, of 70 guns, was also wrecked, but seven of the French ships, by throwing overboard their guns and stores, escaped into the river Yillaine.

The remnant of this fleet, under M. de Thurot, a celebrated privateer commander, escaped out of Dunkirk for the purpose of making a descent on the northern coast of England or Ireland. After taking shelter during the winter on the coast of Norway, he appeared with three frigates before the town of Carrickfergus, which he attacked and laid under contribution. Having supplied his ships with such necessaries as they were in need of, he re-embarked his men and took his departure. At that time Captain John Elliot, who was lying at Kinsale in the Aeolus, with the Pallas and Brilliantunder his command, on hearing that M. de Thurot was on the coast, put to sea, and fortunately came up with him off the Isle of Man. A close action was maintained for an hour and a-half, when the gallant Thurot and a large number of his men being killed, the three frigates struck their colours. His own ship, the Maréchal Belleisle, was so shattered that it was with difficulty she could be kept afloat. La Blonde and Terpsichorewere added to the British Navy.

The French at this time built a number of vessels on a new construction, to which they gave the name of prames. They were about a hundred feet long, quite flat-bottomed, and capable of carrying four or five hundred men. They were to be employed in transporting troops over for the invasion of England. Admiral Rodney fell in with and destroyed a number of them off Havre-de-Grâce.

During this year the French took 330 ships from the English, whereas the English took only 110 from the French. In reality, however, the gain was on the side of Great Britain, the French ships captured being chiefly large privateers and rich armed merchantmen, while those England lost were mostly coasters and colliers. The trade of France, also, was almost annihilated, and she in consequence employed the greater part of her seamen in small privateers, which swarmed in the channel, the vessels they captured being of like value.

George the Second had the satisfaction of seeing the arms of England everywhere prospering, when on the 27th of October, 1760, he breathed his last, in the thirty-third year of his reign and the seventy-seventh of his age.

Gallant as were the officers and brave as were the men of the navy, they were generally rough in their manners, and ignorant of all matters not connected with their profession. So they continued for many years, till the naval college was established, and schoolmasters were placed on board ships to afford the midshipmen instruction. It could scarcely have been otherwise, considering the early age at which young gentlemen were sent to sea, when they had had barely time to learn more than reading, writing, and arithmetic, while comparatively few had afterwards time or opportunity to improve themselves. Practices were allowed on board ship which would not have been tolerated in Elizabeth’s days.