rose to call the attention of the House to certain letters written by the secretary of the Admiralty, in October last, in the name of the board, and intended for the information of the public. These letters, he said, contain statements directly at variance with fact, as can be proved by documents of unquestionable authority, as well as by the evidence of various respectable and uninterested eye-witnesses; and therefore this is a case which calls loudly for investigation. Hitherto, the authenticity of all communications coming from the public departments of government has been so unimpeachable, that when we would describe information as being true beyond all possibility of doubt, we do so in one word, by saying that it is 417 official. Lamentable, indeed, would be the situation of the people, if their credulity were to be practised upon, and their confidence abused, by men in office, whose bounden duty it is to serve them, not only with zeal, but with fidelity. Perhaps these observations apply with more force to communications front the Admiralty, than from any other public department: not only all the great commercial and political interests of the country are affected by them; but contracts for insurance of property, to an immense amount, are made upon the faith of the representations they contain; and great injustice is done between man and man if these representations be inaccurate. It is true, that the Admiralty, in giving accounts to the public, of events that take place on foreign stations, depend upon the information given them by the officers employed in his majesty's service; and that if they make incorrect reports of their proceedings, and describe themselves as performing duties which they have not discharged, they are the responsible parties. All I contend for is, that if I make out my case, and prove that the public have been deceived by false representations, the honour of his majesty's government, and the satisfaction of the public, both require that the subject should be probed to the bottom, and every paper that can throw light upon it, be produced, in order that the authors of this imposition should be known, and dealt with as they deserve. For a considerable number of years past, a correspondence has been carried on between the board of Admiralty and the committee for managing the affairs of Lloyd's, which has certainly been attended with advantage both to the public service, and to the commercial interests of the country. In 1811, agents for Lloyd's were appointed at every port throughout the globe, to which British commerce extends, who transmit to the committee, by every possible opportunity, the arrivals and sailings and losses of vessels, together with every information that can interest the commercial part of the community. By this means, the system of commercial intelligence has been brought to the highest degree of perfection; and all the rays of information scattered throughout the whole world are concentrated into one focus at Lloyd's. Advices are frequently received there, interesting to the naval service, that do not come to the Admiralty by the same conveyance; and the 418 Admiralty, in like manner, frequently receive despatches by men of war, the contents of which are interesting to the subscribers to Lloyd's, and thus the interchange is mutually useful. In the course of this correspondence, on the 7th of October last, a letter was addressed to the Admiralty, by the committee for managing the affairs of Lloyd's, stating the capture of two British vessels, the Industry and the Vittoria, by a piratical schooner, off the island of Cuba. On the 9th of that month, the secretary of the Admiralty acknowledged the receipt of that letter, in one addressed to the secretary of the committee, containing these words:—"I am commanded by their lordships to acquaint you, for the information of the committee for managing the affairs of Lloyd's, that their lordships had already received an account of that transaction from captain Walcot, of his majesty's sloop Carnation, who had been directed by rear-admiral sir Charles Rowley, to take up a station in that neighbourhood for the protection of the trade, and who writes, under date of the 12th of August, that, on that day, seventeen sail of the Jamaica ships had passed safely round Cape Antonio, and that he was waiting in that quarter to see the remaining vessels also safe. His majesty's sloop Dotterel was also in that neighbourhood." In another letter, written the day following, to Mr. Alderman Daniel, of Bristol, in answer to one front that gentleman, inclosing a statement of the ship Edward Protheroe, belonging to that port, having been plundered by pirates off the island of Cuba, the secretary of the Admiralty goes into further details respecting his majesty's sloop Dotterel. His words are—"Their lordships have advices from his majesty's sloop Carnation, which, as well as his majesty's sloop Dotterel, was, on the 12th of August last, in the immediate neighbourhood referred to in the above statement; and my lords hope, that the attention thus drawn by his majesty's naval commanders to this point, together with other measures taken by their lordships, will have the effect of suppressing these piracies." The first averment in these letters is, that the Carnation had been directed, by rear-admiral sir C. Rowley, to take up a station off the island of Cuba for the protection of the trade. It appears, froth the list of vessels that sailed from Jamaica, which are regularly published in the Gazette of that island, that the Carnation 419 sailed from thence on the 23rd of May, for Campeachy and Vera Cruz; and that the next ship that proceeded to Campeachy, was the Tamar, that sailed on the 9th of July; too late, by far, to carry any despatches to the Carnation. If, then, such directions were given by admiral Rowley to captain Walcot, they must have been given before he sailed from Jamaica. Now, can it be believed, that if admiral Rowley thought it necessary that a ship of war should take up a station off Cuba, for the protection of trade, he would not have dispatched one there direct; but that he should assign that important and pressing service to one that was proceeding on so very different and circuitous a destination? What would be thought of a military commanding officer, who, if a riot broke out in Palace-yard, instead of ordering the guards to march from their barracks in Westminster straight to the spot, were to send them round by Fulham, Wimbledon, and Vauxhall-bridge? And this would not have been a more roundabout way of arriving at his object, than a vessel going from Jamaica to the coast of Cuba by way of Cam peachy and Vera Cruz. But farther, it does not appear that admiral Rowley thought any protection to the trade necessary, so far back as the 23rd of May, when captain Walcot sailed from Jamaica; for, from that date to the 1st of August, he suffered all the homeward-hound ships to sail from Jamaica without any protection; which it cannot be thought he would have done, had he considered protection necessary at so much earlier a period? A still more conclusive proof, that captain Walcot was not directed by admiral Rowley to take up a station off Cuba for the protection of the trade is, that had he received such directions, he would have obeyed them; whereas, in point of fact, he never did take up such a station for the protection of the trade, as asserted in the letter from the secretary of the Admiralty; and this is proved by a Cloud of witnesses, to whose testimony I shall now refer. Captain Walcot sailed from the Havannah for Jamaica, with a cargo of specie, early on the morning of the 10th of August. Immediately on leaving the harbour, he fell in with the brig Industry, from Jamaica, bound to St. Thomas's, having on board the master and crew of the Vittoria, from Jamaica to London; both which vessels had been captured, three days before, by a pirate, 420 off Saddle-hill. Captain Cook, of the Industry, acquainted captain Walcot with these circumstances; but, to avoid misrepresentation, I shall give his narrative in his own words, as contained in the statement he delivered to the agent for Lloyd's at St. Thomas's, on his arrival there, which was transmitted by the agent to the committee for managing the affairs of Lloyd's. In this narrative, after relating the capture of both vessels, the providential deliverance of their officers and crews, whom the captain of the pirate had determined to murder, but who was himself murdered in a quarrel that took place among the pirates, and the new captain permitting them to proceed in the Industry, he adds—"Captain Hearn and his crew remained on board the Industry till the 10th of August, when we fell in with his majesty's brig Carnation, captain Walcot, who was good enough to take them on hoard, and give them a passage to Jamaica," (not a cruise off Cuba for the protection of the trade, but a passage to Jamaica). The second witness is captain Hearn, of the Vittoria, who, on his arrival at Liverpool, wrote to his owner at London, and, after detailing the circumstances of his capture, and being put on board the Industry, as related by captain Cook, proceeds as follows:—"On the 10th of August, in the morning, being off the Havannah, perceived a British man of war brig coming out of the harbour: made all sail, and at half-past 6 a. m. got within hail, when it proved to be the Carnation, captain Walcot. He immediately sent his boat for captain Cook and myself: went on board, and related the circumstances. He then offered me and my crew a passage to Jamaica." Captain Hearn then states, he offered his services and those of his crew, to go with captain Walcot in search of the pirate and his brig. He then agreed, and made all sail, keeping well in shore: at night he hove to. On the 12th, made out a number of vessels, two of which he made sail towards, and one of them proved to be the ship Blackett, captain Benson, from Jamaica, bound for Liverpool, who offered him a passage, which he accepted, captain Walcot having told him, as he has since confirmed to the committee at Lloyd's, that he had exceeded his time, and must proceed to Jamaica with his specie; but that he should keep in shore, in the track of the homeward-hound Jamaica ships, in order 421 to apprise them of their danger, till he reached the Isle of Pines. Captain Hearn speaks very highly of the zeal of captain Walcot, but says that one of the expressions he used to him was, that "it was as much as his commission was worth to stay any longer"—a declaration utterly incompatible with the assertion of the secretary of the Admiralty, that he was directed by rear-admiral Rowley to take up a station off the island of Cuba. The third witness is captain Barclay, of the ship Belina, bound from Jamaica to London, who writes from the Downs, dated the 7th October, as follows:—"August the 13th, off the Colorados, was boarded by his majesty's ship Carnation, who gave us information of the ship Vittoria being captured by a piratical schooner off Saddle-hill, along with the brig Industry, on the morning of the 7th. The Carnation had been to Campeachy, called at the Havannah, and was on her way to Jamaica, with specie on board. Both captain Hearn and captain Barclay have confirmed the statements in their letters, in personal communication. Captain Hearn declares, that captain Walcot never gave him the smallest reason to believe, that he was directed to take up a station off the coast of Cuba for the protection of the trade; but, on the contrary, the whole time he was on board, he continued his course for Jamaica, only occasionally going a little out of his way to speak to such vessels as he fell in with, and advised them not to make the land of Cuba till they had passed by Saddle-hill. Captain Hearn further states, that the Carnation might have re-captured the Vittoria (as he was in hopes she would have done), but for the want of her launch, which she had lost at Campeachy. The Vittoria was lying within the Colorados; she drew more water than the Carnation, which might have ran in before the wind, and have taken possession of her, but could not get out again from among those rocks and reefs, without warping; and having no boat large enough to carry out an anchor, was obliged to abandon the enterprise. Here, again, is a circumstantial evidence, that captain Walcot was not directed to cruise off Cuba for the protection of the trade; for, had that been the case, he certainly would have procured a launch at the Havannah, because without one, he could neither venture into shallow water with his ship, upon a lee shore, after the pirates; nor send a sufficient 422 number of men in boats to attack them, with any prospect of success; and he could not very reasonably expect that they would come out to him in deep water, for the very purpose of being captured. Captain Barclay, of the Belina, states, that when the Carnation boarded him, on the 12th August, she was actually on her way to Jamaica, working against the Gulf stream; while he and the other homeward-bound Jamaica ships were running in the opposite direction: that she gave him and them no protection, but merely information of the capture of the Industry and the Vittoria; and advice not to make the island of Cuba till they had passed Saddle-hill. The fourth witness is captain Atkinson, of the Edward Protheroe, bound from Jamaica to Bristol; who, according to the statement he made on his arrival there, which was reported by Mr. Alderman Daniel to the secretary of the Admiralty, had his ship plundered and driven on shore by pirates, off Saddle-hill, on the 19th of August—the very spot on which the Industry and the Vittoria had been captured on the 7th. This circumstance proves to demonstration, the point established by all the former witnesses, that captain Walcot had not taken up a station in that neighbourhood for the protection of the trade; and that he was not waiting in that quarter to see the remaining vessels safe, as asserted by the secretary of the Admiralty, in his letter to the committee for managing the affairs for Lloyd's. In further contradiction of these assertions of the secretary of the Admiralty, I may quote the memorial of captain Popplewell, of the ship John; captain Reddie, of the Thisbe; and captain Canby, of the Feliza; dated the 16th of August, off the Havannah, and addressed to sir Robert Mends, of his majesty's ship Iphigenia:—"We the undersigned masters of the ships John, Thisbe, and Feliza, actually consider it necessary, for the preservation of the property and ships committed to our charge, to put into the Havannah; and to present this petition to the captain of any of his Britannic majesty's ships that may be in the port: praying that he may afford them protection through the Gulf of Florida. The undersigned are not actuated by any groundless apprehensions; attempts having been made on the Thisbe on the morning of the 15th instant, and on the Feliza several times during the same night, by a suspicious schooner- 423 rigged vessel, that refused to give any information as to her name, or nation; and that we only attribute our present safety to keeping close company with each other. We have strong grounds to apprehend a coalition will take place during the night, as three schooners are now in the offing, one of which we discover to be the vessel that already attempted to board us." In consequence of this memorial, captain Mends immediately directed his majesty's ship Tyne to see these vessels safe through the Gulf of Florida. The Belina, captain Barclay, and three other ships who kept company with him for mutual safety, after he had spoke the Carnation, were also dogged for three days by a pirate; and the Retrench, captain Fiott, was boarded on the 18th of August off the coast of Cuba, by two piratical schooners, who plundered her of specie, provisions, sails, boats, the master's and passengers' clothes, and maltreated the crew. All these facts prove, not only that the Carnation, captain Walcot, did not take up a station off the coast of Cuba, for the protection of the trade, or wait in that quarter to see the remaining ships safe, but that no other British man of war was so stationed, or did so wait; and that the trade were left entirely exposed to the depredations of the pirates. If any doubt could possibly remain on this subject, that doubt would be removed, as far as the Carnation is concerned, by the fact of her having arrived from the Havannah at Jamaica, in about the time in which that passage is usually made. She sailed from the Havannah the 10th of August, and, according to the Jamaica Gazette, arrived there on the 4th of September; and it is well known to all nautical men, that it requires double the time to beat up from the Havannah to Jamaica than is necessary to run down from Jamaica to the Havannah; ships having, in the former case, the trade wind and the Gulf stream against them, and in the latter having both in their favour. With respect to the Dotterel, the secretary of the Admiralty asserts, in his letter to Mr. Alderman Daniel, that "she, as well as his majesty's sloop Carnation, was, on the 12th of August last, in the immediate neighbourhood referred to in the above statement" (the statement of the plunder of the Edward Protheroe off Saddle-hill); "and my lords hope, that the attention thud drawn by his majesty's naval commanders 424 to this point, together with other measures taken by their lordships, will have the effect of suppressing these piracies." It appears by the Havannah lists of arrivals and sailings, that the Dotterel arrived there on the 24th of July, and sailed from thence on the 11th of August. The Havannah is about two degrees from Saddle-hill, and when the Dotterel sailed, her course was not towards it, but in a very opposite direction—for New York. Having both the Gulf stream and the trade wind in her favour, she might reasonably be expected to run at the rate of ten knots an hour, or 240 miles in 24 hours after she sailed. Adding this to the two degrees, or 120 miles' distance, between the Havannah and Saddle-hill, she would be, on the morning of the 12th of August, not in the immediate neighbourhood referred to, as the secretary of the Admiralty states in his letter, but 360 miles from it, and increasing that distance with all possible celerity. In fact, in the New York Gazette of the 21st of August, is the following paragraph:—"Arrived his Britannic majesty's sloop Dotterel, captain Hendry, out nine days from the Havannah, with specie on board; spoke nothing." So far from stopping, for the protection of the trade, or the suppression of these piracies, the Dotterel sailed away from them with so much haste, that she actually made the passage from the Havannah to New York in nine days, which the Iphigenia, very shortly after, was 16 days (from the 5th to the 21st of September) in performing. It is rather unfavourable to the hope expressed by the lords of the Admiralty, that the attention thus drawn by his majesty's naval commander to this point (meaning of course the commanders of the Carnation and Dotterel just before mentioned), would have the effect of suppressing these piracies, that neither of them appears to have gone near that point at any future period. The Carnation arrived at Jamaica on the 4th of September; sailed from thence, according to the Gazette of that island, on a cruize on the 8th, and returned again on the 22nd, during which short time it was utterly impossible for her to go to the coast of Cuba, and come back again; and on the 17th of October, she sailed for Santa' Martha and Carthagena. The Dotterel, on the 24th of September, five weeks after her arrival at New York with specie, was lying in Halifax harbour just as 425 quietly as if there were no British trade to be protected, nor piracies to be suppressed. These statements directly contradict those contained in the letters from the Admiralty, dated the 9th and 10th of August, and they are further confirmed by a document of unquestionable authority—a letter or address to captain Warren, of his majesty's ship Seringapatam, signed by the British merchants at the Havannah, and dated the 14th of December last. After this testimony, given by the men who were eye-witnesses of the occurrences they relate, no doubt can possibly remain of the fallacy of the statements made by the secretary to the Admiralty, in his letters of the 9th and 10th of October last. The letters from the secretary of the Admiralty, to which I have referred, state, that the attention of the admiral commanding on the Jamaica station had long since been called to the depredations in that quarter; and that he had despatched cruizers to take up stations for the protection of the trade and the suppression of these piracies; but a subsequent letter of his, dated the 23rd of November, and addressed to the chairman of the West India association at Glasgow, in answer to a memorial from them to the Admiralty, complaining of the piratical depredations committed in the West Indian seas, the secretary of the Admiralty writes thus:—"My lords are glad to observe, that the association has not overlooked the political circumstances which have delayed the exercise of force in the suppression of the outrages committed in that quarter." If the exercise of force was delayed, as is here asserted, it becomes a curious subject of inquiry, by what other means our men of war were to accomplish the suppression of these piracies. Were entreaties and supplications to be used instead of great guns against these enemies of the human race? Were these sinners to be converted from the errors of their ways, and reclaimed from their depredations and barbarities, by preaching and praying? If so, a set of missionaries would have been more likely to succeed in this spiritual warfare, than his majesty's naval commanders. The inventive genius of the secretary of the Admiralty has probably devised some new and extraordinary scheme, for the suppression of piracies, without the exercise of force, which he will now leave the goodness to explain to the Rouse. But I shall abstain from 426 making any general observations on the conduct of the Admiralty, and confine myself strictly to the letters on which I have commented, and the contents of which I have, I trust, proved to the satisfaction of the House, are inconsistent with truth, and calculated to impose upon the public. The committee for managing the affairs of Lloyd's felt it their duty to state to the Admiralty, the very different information which they had received. The Admiralty might have been misled by incorrect representations made to them, of the manner in which his majesty's ships, on the Jamaica station, were actually employed; and if that were the case, the committee, by laying the facts before them, gave them an opportunity of calling the parties who had imposed upon them to account for their conduct. In doing this, however, the committee studiously endeavoured to avoid giving offence; and therefore merely sent extracts of letters, without making any comments upon them. The committee had also another object in making these communications; they did expect, that the lords of the Admiralty could not but observe from them, that his majesty's ships stated to be employed in the protection of trade from the depredations of pirates, were in fact occupied in carrying specie for the emolument of their commanders, and of the admiral on the station; and they trusted their lordships would more particularly remark, that the Dotterel was destined from one foreign port to another, and therefore, in all probability, carrying specie, not British, but foreign property. In the month of April last, the committee had stated to the Admiralty, that protection against pirates had been given to ships of all nations, by the American cruizers in the neighbourhood of Cuba; that one of them had taken under her convoy a number of vessels bound from the Havannah to Europe, and they requested that orders might be sent to his majesty's ships on that station, to grant similar protection; but the answer they received was, "Their lordships cannot order his majesty's ships to grant protection to the ships of other powers." After this flat denial to a request for the protection of foreign ships and cargoes, in which British interests are concerned (for many of them are insured in Great Britain), and to which considerations of humanity alone, independent of gratitude for benefits received, might 427 have inclined an acquiescence, the committee trusted that the inconsistency of giving protection to foreign specie would occur to the minds of their lordships; and that this trade, which, for some time past, has been the great occupation of the British ships of war on the Jamaica station, and diverts their attention from the protection of British commerce, and the suppression of piracy, might be properly regulated and restricted. At the time these letters were written, the Admiralty laboured under great unpopularity. Taunts were thrown in many of the public papers upon their naval administration, which was stated to have reduced the greatest naval power in the world to receive that protection to her commerce from the cruizers of the united states, which her own navy did not give; galling comparisons were made between the activity of the American ships of war, and the apathy of our own; and repeated accounts were given of depredations committed upon British commerce, and atrocious barbarities practised upon British subjects. At such a moment, nothing could be more opportune for redeeming the character of the Admiralty in the estimation of the public than the appearance of these letters in all the daily papers. It operated as a charm in allaying the irritation and disquietude of the public mind, and led to a general belief, that our trade was fully protected, and that the piracies would soon be suppressed: when, however, the Admiralty found that these statements did not pass current with the plain men of business to whom they were addressed, they seem to have felt sore, and they treated the committee of Lloyd's, who for many months past had repeatedly rung their dismal tales in their ears, much in the manner that Richard the third is described by Shakspeare as treating his messengers of evil tidings—Out on ye, owls, nothing but songs of death?There, take thou that, till thou bring better news:and the king, suiting the action to the word, gives the poor fellow a good knockdown blow. In cases where men propagate contradictory reports, the usual course is, to produce their respective authorities, and thus ascertain the truth. The committee for managing the affairs of Lloyd's did this; but the Admiralty, instead of following their example, broke off all intercourse with them in a tone of offended dignity. We have the highest 428 possible authority for tile right rule of conduct on such occasions. When one of the Apostles was incredulous, his divine Lord and Master immediately gave him the satisfaction he required; but had an individual been placed in the same situation, who had not the means of removing his doubts, what would be have done? Just what the Admiralty did: he would have talked of the marked disrespect with which he was treated, of the little confidence that was placed in his communications, and have broken off all further intercourse with the unbelieving disciple. My firm belief is, that the papers I move for, will not justify the assertion contained in the letters of the secretary of the Admiralty. If they do, they will only transfer the blame to those on whose communications the assertions in question were founded. I have shown them to be contrary to fact; and it is just and necessary that the real authors of the mirepresentations which have been made to the public should be known, in order that they may be exposed and punished as they deserve. I shall therefore now move—"That there be laid before this House, Copies of the Letters from J. W. Croker, esq., secretary to the Admiralty, to Mr. John Bennett, jun., Lloyd's, dated the 9th October last; and to Mr. Alderman Daniel, of Bristol, dated the 10th October last; together with Copies of the Minutes or Resolutions of the board of Admiralty, in conformity to which the said letters were written: also, Copy of a Letter from captain Walcot, of his majesty's ship Carnation, to the secretary of the Admiralty, dated the 12th August last: also, Copies of the Log-books of his majesty's ship Carnation, from the 10th August to the 15th September; and of his majesty's ship Dotterel, from the 10th to the 22nd of August last: also, Copy of the Address from the merchants at the Havannah to captain Warren, of his majesty's ship Seringapatam, dated the 14th December last."
§ Sir G. Cockburn
said, he was not without hopes of proving to the satisfaction of the House, that the statement of the hon. gentleman was erroneous, and his comments unfounded; for he (Mr. Marryat) had mixed up with his statements, observations on the board of Admiralty. He (sir G. Cockburn) would therefore first address himself to reply to the insinuations thrown out against the board, and would afterwards reply to the statements 429 respecting a force employed for the protection of the trade. Previously to receiving the letter from the committee at Lloyd's, of the 7th October, the Admiralty had received a letter from captain Walcot, of the Carnation, in which that officer stated, his having sailed from the Havannah, and having learnt from the captain of the Industry, the capture of that vessel and the Vittoria, as he was going to take up his station off Cape Antonio, for the protection of the trade, agreeably to the orders which he had received from rear-admiral Rowley; but, from the information which he received, he had thought proper to bear up, in the expectation of falling in with some of the merchant vessels from Jamaica; and, accordingly, he had fallen in with 17 vessels, which he had seen safely round Cape Antonio, and that the Dotterel would not probably fall in with them afterwards. The Admiralty replied to captain Walcot, approving of the variation which he had made from his orders. The House would perceive from this, that it was quite clear captain Walcot had orders to go to Cape Antonio, for the protection of the trade; and that, in consequence of the information from the captain of the Industry, he had varied his orders, for the purpose of seeing those ships safe which he had fallen in with; and, in point of fact, he did not quit the station, till he had boarded the Clarendon, and was informed by her that she was the sternmost ship of the season. It was the duty of the Admiralty to give the information which the letter of captain Walcot contained; and the spirit and substance of it was truly given; and when captain Walcot had boarded the Clarendon, and learnt she was the last ship of the season, there could be no doubt of his having performed that duty which he went to perform. With respect to the Dotterel, she was reported by captain Walcot's letter to be going through the Gulf, and it was likely, therefore, she would be useful, either by preceding or joining the merchant vessels. The Admiralty contented themselves with saying, that she was in the neighbourhood; not as the hon. gentleman had stated, that she was stationed in the neighbourhood. When they were giving information, they had no idea of their words being twisted from the sense in which they were used; and he was persuaded that no more correct account could have been given of the contents of captain, Walcot's letter. At 430 that time, the Admiralty had no idea of any offence; but, the next day they received a letter from Lloyd's, telling them that their information was incorrect. The Admiralty perceived that they had got the information of the Carnation having sailed for Jamaica, but imagined that they did not know of her having fallen in with the Industry. As to the arrival of the Dotterel at New York, that might still be, and yet she might be in that neighbourhood ten days before. The Admiralty, therefore, wished to see the gentlemen of Lloyd's, and to inform them of the disposition of the naval force in the West Indies (a circumstance not so proper to put into writing); for, out of the nine or ten vessels that were there, there was not a single vessel but was employed for the benefit and protection of the merchants. The Admiralty had no idea that the gentlemen would not come, but they were given to understand that Saturday was a day on which they liked to amuse themselves, and that they would come on Monday. However, when that day arrived, they said, "No, we will not come, as we have been invited by the secretary, and not by the board." The Admiralty replied, "that if the invitation was not correct, they were sorry for it; it was from mistake." Now, he would submit, that, standing as they did in the situation of commissioners for executing the office of lord high admiral of England, it was as much as they could or ought to do, to say, "We did not mean to offend you." After writing them that description of letter, the committee answered in a manner which rendered it impossible to continue the correspondence with them. They stated, that they knew no reason why the Admiralty should wish for verbal communications, and to avoid giving them written documents; and they added, that it would be necessary for them to have documents in writing, in consequence of the information which the Admiralty had given them being incorrect, as compared with that which they had got from other quarters. It then became absolutely necessary not to go on with an angry correspondence: and, to put an end to it, the Admiralty stated to the committee, that although they were ready to give all the information in their power, not only to any body of merchants, but to any individual, yet they could not submit to the marked disrespect with which they had been treated; and, though the Admiralty 431 had thought it necessary to adopt this line of conduct, yet, if the public interest would have suffered the slightest inconvenience from it, they would have paused ere they decided; but whilst there were committees of shipping, and committees of trade, it was not absolutely necessary for the Admiralty to keep up a correspondence with Lloyd's. It was the general principle at Lloyd's to insure the ships of all nations, and therefore it might be more proper to give the information to the shipping interest themselves, rather than to them. He submitted, and he trusted the House would bear him out in the proposition, that the Admiralty were the proper judges whether they were to give the information verbally, or in writing.—To revert to the subject of the disposition of the force: the Carnation was sent, not for money, but to the Gulf of Mexico. She communicated with the merchants there, and at their earnest desire, took specie on board, and afterwards went to the Havannah. The Tamar had similar orders, and she was cruising in the Gulf of Mexico at the time. By the way, the hon. gentleman had all along argued as if Cape Antonio and Saddle-hill were the same thing, whereas Saddle-hill was 120 miles from Cape Antonio. But, to return to the subject of the force. The admiral had two months before that, as early as the 19th of May, sent the Scout on that station to endeavour to cut off the pirates; but the yellow fever had broken out on board her, and she was obliged to give up her station, and the admiral then sent the Tyne to take the same station. The hon. gentleman had complained, that no convoys were appointed; but, from what the admiral stated, it would appear that no merchant had asked for convoy till the 27th of July. Something had been insinuated, as if the Admiralty were mortified at the statements and complaints in the public papers. He should not reply to that, as he hoped there-was more mind at the Admiralty than to care two pence about those statements. Had they wished to make up a case, they might have, stated that the Tyne, Tamar, and Iphigenia were stationed for the protection of the trade, though, in point of fact, they; did not know that the Tyne had arrived. They had, then, the Iphigenia, Tyne, Tamar, and Scout, and the Dotterel going through the Gulf of Mexico; and with that force, was it fair to say, that there were no men of war on the station? But, 432 in fact, no convoys would do. During the last session, he had stated to the House, that such was the nature of the coast of Cuba, that the communication was kept up by passage vessels; and when the marauders saw a merchant vessel, they went with their long knives on board one of those packets, and proceeded in that way to board and carry the merchantmen. Convoys could not afford adequate protection, for ships would straggle: an application was therefore made to the Spanish government, and he had the greatest pleasure in saying, that the Spanish court immediately wrote a satisfactory answer; on which a copy of the letter was sent to the admiral, that he might report what had been done on the coast of Cuba. The admiral immediately despatched a frigate, and learnt that the Spanish authorities were before us, and that the Spanish government had acted with the greatest good faith in losing no time in despatching orders to America. Comparisons had been made between the conduct of this country and America: but, what was the course of proceeding? When the Macedonian went down, she was refused the liberty of landing; but with us, the Spanish government had acted in concert, sending their troops to check the pirates on land, whilst we acted by sea; and the result was, that 19 pirate vessels were captured, 20 of their crews killed, 40 taken by us, and 17 by the Spaniards, making a total of 77; most of whom would doubtless be hanged, and that would prove the greatest check to their manning their vessels in future. The hon. member had insinuated, that the officers had not done their duty, because they were intent on speculating and making money but it happened, as if expressly for the admiral's justification, that he had applied to the merchants to ship their specie in merchant vessels, but they replied, that it would be the ruin of the trade in dry goods; and indeed last year the merchants of Glasgow had applied for stricter orders, and a greater facility being given for the freight of specie in king's ships, and after some time orders were sent to the admiral to that effect. It was, therefore, rather hard now to turn round upon him, and make it matter of accusation against him. For the reasons he had given, he should oppose the production of the papers moved for.
§ Mr. T. Wilson
expressed his regret, that any misunderstanding had taken 433 place between the Admiralty and Lloyd's. He considered the Admiralty justified by the statement of the hon. officer; but he could not say he was satisfied that the trade had received all the protection to which it was entitled.
§ Sir Isaac Coffin
said, the conduct of the gentlemen at Lloyd's reminded him of the fable of the frog and the ox. As an old officer, he was ready to declare, that no board had done so much for the country as the present board of Admiralty. The behaviour of these gentlemen at Lloyd's had been most indecent. The lord mayor, or the directors of the East India company would have considered it no disgrace to wait on the Admiralty. He defended the conduct of admiral Rowley, and said, that a more honourable person was not to be found. The charge against the Admiralty would, he trusted, be treated with contempt.
§ Mr. Bright,
though he concurred in much of what had fallen from the hon. officer, was not satisfied that sufficient protection had been afforded by the Admiralty to the trade on the West India station. The force might have been well employed, such as it was; but it did not appear to him that it was sufficient. The hon. member quoted a resolution of a meeting of the merchants of Kingston, complaining that the seas were infested by pirates, and that the squadron employed was inadequate to the defence of those seas. He also observed, that the island of Nassau had fitted out two vessels at its own expense, for which they ought to have been repaid by the government. This was another proof of the inadequacy of the naval force. He trusted that the Admiralty would omit no means of prosecuting the men who were already taken, and that they would take care to protect the trade in the ensuing season.
§ Sir G. Cockburn
said, that the two vessels provided by the island of Nassau were not fit for the service upon which they were employed, being too large to act with effect against the pirates. The Admiralty had felt it their duty to send vessels which could follow them any where, and also to send an overwhelming force.
§ Mr. Alderman Thompson
regretted that the gentlemen at Lloyd's did not go to the Admiralty, but hoped that a good understanding would for the future exist, and that the hon. gentleman would consent to withdraw his motion.
Mr. Secretary Canning
rose, for the purpose of enforcing the suggestion of the hon. member who had spoken last. He trusted that, as every fair purpose which could have been hoped for had been answered by the discussion, the hon. mover would not think it necessary to persevere in obtaining a vote which would cast blame on the Admiralty, when, in fact, there was no real ground for censure. He should, however, deal unfairly with the House, if he omitted to state, that having been the only member in town at the period of the communications alluded to, he had been of opinion, after the last letter from the committee of Lloyd's, that no option was left to the Admiralty as to any further communication. Before that letter, he had had every wish for the continuance of the intercourse; but, when the committee thought proper to state, that they would receive no other than a written communication from the first public hoard in the kingdom, and when the alternative had been presented, either that the Admiralty should wait on Lloyd's, or that Lloyd's should wait on the Admiralty, it could not be reasonably expected that the latter would submit. But now that it was agreed on all hands, that the intercourse and communication between those boards was for the public benefit, he hoped that they would go on as had hitherto been the custom, and that after that night, none of the disagreements and misunderstandings which had broken out would continue. If any difficulty still existed as to the mode in which the invitation should be couched, that might he obviated by a reference to some established authority, on points of etiquette so momentous. The gentlemen might consult Dr. Trusler's principles of Politeness, or some other book of equal weight, and then they would readily devise some means of giving the invitation, by which the possibility of giving unintentional offence might be avoided. There was another point, however, of a nature a little more serious, and upon this he wished to say a few words. The measures which had been taken, involved not merely a question of department. It was found that no amount of naval force alone could accomplish the object which was so desirable; namely, the extirpation of the pirates, unless their operations were assisted by a land force. This latter force must consist either of the inhabitants of 435 that country of which the pirates also were natives, or they must be lauded there for the purpose from English vessels. It was extremely doubtful whether the Spanish government would co-operate for this purpose; and it was therefore necessary that all the circumstances should be well weighed before any decisive step should be taken. No gentleman who recollected the accounts with which the newspapers were filled in the last autumn, could hesitate to admit the necessity of this delay. The simple fact, that application had been made for permission to land British troops at the Havannah for this purpose, had filled Europe with reports, that that place was about to be occupied by a British force. Whatever blame had been incurred on this occasion, must not fall upon the Admiralty, but upon the government—it was a matter of state, not a matter of department. Orders had at length been given to land English troops in spite of resistance, if resistance should be made. The court of Spain, it must be confessed, had at first evinced some national, and, in this instance, very natural pride, at finding such an order had been made; but they afterwards acquiesced. No man could wonder that a proud government should have seen such an order in a different light from those by whom it was made; and, therefore, every man must agree that delay was necessary before it was decisively adopted. He had thought it necessary to say thus much in justification of the subject. As to what remained, it related rather to the graces, than to the matter of the subject; it was rather a point of politeness than of serious importance. He hoped that the hon. gentleman would give the first example of returning good humour, by withdrawing his motion; and he trusted that the intercourse would in future be carried on with that urbanity and spirit of conciliation which could alone make it useful.
said, that the committee of Lloyd's had been urged to take the steps they had taken, not by a feeling of individual interest, but from an imperious sense of public duty. He concluded by stating, that he would evince his concurrence in that spirit of conciliation which had been recommended by the right honourable gentleman, by withdrawing his motion.
§ The motion was accordingly withdrawn.