HC Deb 06 May 1814 vol 27 cc728-31
Mr. Rose

called the attention of the House to the claims of this officer for his valuable discovery of the means of saving, shipwrecked mariners. In a former committee a variety of strong instances were detailed, in which his intention had proved serviceable; and since that a Report of naval officers had been given, all of whom concurred in expressing their approbation of it. He trusted, therefore, that the House would feel every disposition to concur with him in proposing a further reward to captain Manby. It would be rewarding an invention which not only saved the lives of British seamen, but the lives of seamen all over the world; for it had now become so simple and so easy, that it only required to be known in order to be generally adopted. Captain Manby had invented three mortars of different sizes; the largest would carry a ball, with a rope attached to it, a quarter of a mile; the second would carry it 300 yards; and the smallest, 100 yards. It was true, indeed, that wrecks did not always take place so near the coast as a quarter of a mile; but when it was considered how large a proportion of them happened much within that distance, the practical utility of the scheme would be equally obvious. The largest of the mortars might be carried by two men, in a hand-barrow; the second more easily; and the third might be transported on a man's [...]ack. The facility of conveyance, therefore, rendered it easy to have them applied on whatever part or the coast it might be necessary. Captain Manby, however, did not stop here.—It had been found difficult, sometimes, to fire the mortars, on account of the heavy surf. That he had remedied by a very simple process. He had also invented a ladder, which would so greatly facilitate the saving of persons when the wreck happened near the shore, that he would take upon himself to say, that if those ladders had been known when the Halsewell was lost, instead of the 150 who then perished, not one would have been drowned. Captain Manby had spent a great deal of time and property in bringing these discoveries to perfection, and he thought him a fit object for parliamentary reward. He should therefore move, that the papers laid on the table, relating to captain Manby, be referred to a select committee, to report thereon, with observations.

Sir F. Burdett

did not wish to oppose captain Manby's claims; but, from a sense of justice, felt it necessary to mention another individual, Mr. Mallison, who had devised a plan by which many lives had been saved. He understood that all that gentleman's experiments had answered, but he (Mr. Mallison) had only received 100 guineas for his invention. He should hope, when this subject went to a committee, his case would be taken into consideration.

Mr. P. Moore

had been called out by a gentleman, with whom he had had some conversation, and by whom he had been desired to lay in a claim to this invention in favour of another party. He was informed that a person of the name of Bell was the original inventor of that for which it was proposed to reward captain Manby. This invention he had made known so long ago as the year 1791. The gentleman who had spoken with him authorised him to say that captain Manby's invention was a species of piracy from that of the person he had mentioned. He hoped, that when a petition should be presented from the party setting up this claim, it would be referred to the committee appointed to consider the case of captain Manby.

Mr. Rose

admitted Mr. Bell to have great merit. He had been a serjeant in the artillery, and he believed had been made an officer for his invention. He however begged to read the report of the committee on it. In this it was stated, that the invention of Mr. Bell, though ingenious, had in no instance proved of much advantage, and was found wholly inadequate, when vessels were stranded.

Mr. P. Moore

had only done his duty in making that statement which he had been requested to make. The petition to be presented was not from Reut. Bell who was no more; but would be brought forward in behalf of a family which he had left unprovided for.

Mr. Wynn

wished to know what methods were taking to bring the inventions into general use. He thought it ought to be taken up by government.

Mr. Rose

said, this might be made the subject of future inquiry. The expence that would attend introducing it at the different stations would not exceed 12,000l. It would be a question, whether this should be paid by government, or by the districts or counties? The life-boat, he observed, was found hardly of any use without captain Manby's invention, as it was almost impossible to pull out against the wind.

Mr. Wilberforce

spoke in very high terms of captain Mansby's invention, which had already saved many lives. In such cases there were commonly several persons who claimed to be the inventors of that which met with the approbation of parliament. In Dr. Jenner's case this was seen. Vaccination was asserted to have been known in foreign countries long before; but he thought it become them to reward him who brought the invention into use, whether he was the original inventor or not.

Mr. Whitbread

concurred with the hon. baronet (sir F. Burdett) in thinking the case of Mr. Mallison ought to go before the committee. A committee of that House had decided, that his invention had great merit, and ought to be adopted. Why it had not been adopted, it remained for the Admiralty to say. Mr. Mallison's plan would not supersede captain Manby's. They were distinct from each other; and if both were at once brought into use, so much the better. Captain Manby, by his exertions, had saved the lives of many. He had sacrificed his fortune, and by his assiduity endangered his life; so that if something were not done immediately, they might shortly have (he, however, hoped it would not be so), as in the case of Mr. Bell, a petition not from him, but from his successors. He hoped, however, he would recover from his present indisposition, and live to reap the reward of what he had by long study and repeated trials brought to a state of real utility, whoever might be the first, inventor of it. What the member for Yorkshire had said of the propriety of rewarding him who made an invention of use, exactly, accorded with his ideas. That hon. member had truly observed, there were generally several persons who claimed to be inventors of that which was about to be made the subject of a parliamentary grant. He had received two letters from different persons putting forth claims to the invention of a certain rocket belonging to a member of that House. He wrote to colonel Congreve on the subject; and happening to meet him a few hours afterwards, he asked him if he had received his letter relative to the original inventor of the rocket. The colonel replied, there were two of them; and when they had settled who was the first, he would take up the conqueror. Captain Manby's plan had been of most essential service, and referring his papers to a committee had his entire approbation.

The motion was then agreed to, and a committee appointed to consider the said papers, and to report their opinion to the House with their observations.