§ Sir Edward Codrington
said, that he had the best authority for believing, that the course which he proposed to pursue on this occasion was in strict accordance with Parliamentary practice. The Motion which he had to submit was, "That this House resolve itself into a Committee, for the purpose of examining into the propriety of an Address to his Majesty, humbly requesting, that he will be graciously pleased to take into his consideration the claims for pecuniary recompense of the officers, seamen, and royal marines engaged in the Battle of Navarino, on the 20th of October, 1827." He was sorry to be under the necessity of bringing this subject before the House in any shape, or of giving the House any trouble whatever about it. He was sorry that the Government had not felt it necessary to take up the subject, as he should much prefer leaving it in their hands. As they had not taken it up, he felt, that the duty devolved on him, and however disagreeable to his feelings to bring it forward, he would not shrink from it. Soon after the Battle of Navarino, he wrote to the Lord High Admiral, stating the great destruction of the men's clothes which took place in that action. He had never known of any action in which the loss was so great in that respect. He therefore felt it his duty to submit, that the officers and men were entitled to some compensation for their losses in that respect. The answer he received was, that it was difficult to establish such a precedent, as the practice was, of which the House was probably not aware, that all losses of this kind were made good to the army, but not to the navy. He was told, however, that he might memorialize the Lord High Admiral for head-money, as was done by Lord Exmouth, in the case of the attack on Algiers. He sent that memorial to Sir John Gore, who was sent out to the Mediterranean to make inquiries as to the origin of the action. Sir John Gore subsequently sent that memorial to the Admiralty, and he had reason to know, that it came to the hands of Sir George Cockburn, and Mr. Croker. It was some time before he returned to England, and when he applied at the Admiralty, over which Lord Melville then presided, he was surprised to find, that there was no record there of his memorial. He had declined to present a fresh one, and, after some delay, by the kindness of his Royal Highness the Lord High Admiral an official copy of that me- 497 morial which had been reserved for the Lord High Admiral was obtained, and he then presented that duplicate to the Admiralty. It was long before he received any answer to this, which answer stated, that it was not usual to grant head-money before a declaration of war. Surely it was not intended to quibble on the term. It mattered not whether the term used were head-money, compensation, or royal grant; the object being to reward the exertions and compensate the losses of the parties, it was unworthy of Government to defeat it by quibbling about a word. On receiving the answer referred to, he applied to the Lord High Admiral to learn how he should proceed, and having ascertained the feeling of that illustrious individual, he did proceed according to his directions. Shortly afterwards the Lord High Admiral became King, and he obtained an audience of his Majesty, when he received the royal commands to present a memorial to the King. The present Government declared, that they saw no reason to depart from the decision of their predecessors, though in fact they did depart from it, for they professed a readiness to give a compensation for their lost clothing, which their predecessors had refused. Subsequently he asked another audience of his Majesty, and under the royal command presented a memorial to the King in Council. In all these proceedings he had only acted in compliance with his Majesty's commands, which it was impossible for him to disobey. He had made it known to the fleet, that they could not get compensation for clothes, but that it was the wish of the Lord High Admiral, that he should be memorialized to give head-money, and he had pledged that illustrious individual's name to the parties interested, in proof that their claims would be attended to, and he now submitted, that such a pledge ought not to be violated, If any Gentleman opposed the present Motion, let it be understood, that he was not resisting the will of its immediate proposer, but of the illustrious personage under whose commands he (Sir Edw. Codrington) had acted from the beginning to the end of the transaction. If the Motion were negatived, his Majesty's wish would be defeated, and the Royal pledge would be rendered of no effect. It had been said that head-money was only given in time of war, and, therefore, that it could not be claimed on the present occasion. Now, the fact was, head-money was allowed every day in the case of the capture of 498 negro slaves, where there was no declaration of war, and why should not head-money be allowed for Greek slaves? In cases of piracy, head-money was also allowed. A gallant officer opposite had received a considerable sum (800l.) as his share. He (Sir Edw. Codrington) did not see why he who had been engaged with persons acting as pirates or still worse (for the object of the Turkish fleet was to exterminate a whole nation) should not stand in the same situation. He wished to put his own merits and claims quite out of the question; he hoped, however, that the noble Lord opposite would do him justice upon one point; the noble Lord was the person to call for certain information relative to the Battle of Navarino, and the opportunity was taken to make most unjust and shameful misrepresentations on the subject in that House. The hon. and gallant Member referred to the capture of Carabusa the principal hold of the pirates in the Levant, which he complained had not been gazetted, though it was of eminent service to our trade, in which the gallant Commodore (Staines) and officers engaged eminently distinguished themselves. The Cambrian frigate was lost, and the crew were deprived of everything; the people were also in the Battle of Navarino, and yet they had not received one farthing compensation for their losses at either place. He must complain too, that of the booty seized at Carabusa not a farthing went to the captors, the whole being claimed as droits of the Admiralty. He could not understand on what ground justice and adequate remuneration could be refused on this occasion, especially when it was considered, that they were never before refused under similar circumstances. The gallant Admiral referred to several instances in which head-money had been granted. It was allowed in the case of the action under Boscawen, in 1755. Admiral Byng obtained it in 1716. In 1804 it was given to Sir Graham Moore's squadron. In the case of the Russian ships it was allowed, and Lord Gambier received head-money for the capture of Copenhagen, although there was no declaration of war. At the time Murat was about to be deposed, the squadron sent by Lord Exmouth was allowed 100,000l. for taking possession of a fleet which was never actually in our possession, but immediately on its surrender was given to king Ferdinand. In the case of Algiers, Lord Exmouth was sent to negociate on the subject of slavery 499 and other matters, and failing in negotiation he was authorised to use force. This case very closely resembled that of Navarino. He (Sir Edw. Codrington) was also ordered to negotiate, and negotiation failing to use force. What was the distinction between the two cases? The pretence, that because Lord Exmouth recovered a certain sum belonging to Sardinia and Sicily, he was therefore entitled to receive 100,000l., while the parties who fought at Navarino and relieved a whole people from robbery, murder, and slavery, were not to be remunerated. Such a pretence was absurd; there existed no foundation for the distinction sought to be established. It was a gross anomaly and injustice to treat the parties in the one case differently from the individuals who were concerned in the other. He was not actuated by personal or pecuniary motives in bringing this subject under the notice of the House. The pain, anxiety, and worry, that he had endured in prosecuting it hitherto, were such as no individual benefit to himself could compensate, and he would have willingly abandoned the attempt had not a sense of duty compelled him to persevere. When he expressed to his Majesty his desire that he might relinquish his own share of any compensation, the King would not permit such a step, observing, "You may be in a situation to relinquish it, but probably others will be differently circumstanced." In the case of Algiers the allowance to the fleet was not denominated "head-money," but "a royal grant;" and having since his original application asked for "a pecuniary gratuity," he hoped the expression" head-money," which he originally used, would not be relied on as shutting the persons who served at Navarino out from compensation on the ground that "head-money" could only be allowed after a declaration of war. There were other cases besides that of Algiers in which compensation in lieu of head-money had been granted. In the case of Admiral Byng's action the prizes were by royal grant made over to the captors, notwithstanding, that no declaration of war was made till a long time after. See the effect of allowing no gratuity except in time of war. Such a principle went directly to the encouragement of hostilities that might otherwise be avoided. Had he provoked a war after the Battle of Navarino there would have been no objection to allowing head-money. But he did all he could, and effectually, to put a stop to the continuance of hostilities. 500 In that he admitted he was only acting on his instructions, but he conscientiously observed them, and succeeded in preventing a war. Government ought to consider whether it was not due to the King and to the fleet to make some compensation to the parties engaged in the Battle of Navarino for the losses they had sustained. Men now received nothing for wounds, unless they were pronounced to be entirely disabled for life. He knew an instance of a man who lost an eye, which used to count as the loss of a limb, who was not allowed a farthing; formerly the case was different, and compensation was given. A marine who had been disabled received 9l. the first year, 4l. the second, and nothing in the third. Now, a soldier who suffered in the same manner would have 1s. a-day for life. The result of this want of encouragement was extremely prejudicial to the navy. On board the Albion upon two occasions the men declared, that in future it would be necessary for them to make a bargain before a battle, if they were to be refused compensation afterwards. Having disclaimed any intention or desire to excite party or political feelings on the subject, the gallant Admiral said, that he might nevertheless be permitted to remark, that if the Government and policy of the country had not been changed, the question would never have been treated as it was, and not only a proper gratuity, but compensation for wounds would have been allowed. The hon. and gallant Member concluded by moving, in the terms before stated, that the House do resolve itself into a Committee on the subject.
§ Mr. Labouchere
said, that he not only spoke for himself, but on the part of the Government, when he said, that it was impossible that the hon. and gallant Member could have been engaged more gracefully and honourably than in endeavouring to obtain for the gallant officers and seamen, with whom he had served, rights to which they considered themselves entitled. The hon. and gallant Member had brought forward his Motion in a manner to which not the slightest objection could be made, and he assured the gallant Officer that it was with sincere and unaffected regret, that he felt himself compelled, by a sense of duty, to oppose the Motion which he had made. In stating the reasons which actuated him in so doing, he should have occasion to trouble the House with some circumstances relative to the battle of Navarino, to which the gallant Officer had 501 not alluded. He was sorry to be obliged to enter into the details, but considering the great importance of the subject, the honour of the country, and the merits of the gallant Officer, and the men who had fought under his orders, he was unable to avoid it. The hon. and gallant Officer had intimated, that there was a time when the present Government was disposed to admit the claim which he now brought forward; but he (Mr. Labouchere) was not aware that either the present or any former Government had stated their opinion that the circumstances under which the battle of Navarino took place, gave the officers and seamen who were then engaged, a title to head-money. There was a wide difference between head-money and gratuities. Head-money was a certain sum given in proportion to the number of the enemy, who had been engaged; but that money was given under a specific Act of Parliament, and it could not be bestowed unless a declaration of war had been made before the battle. Gratuities, on the other hand, had been given under particular circumstances—they had been given upon occasions where an action had taken place without a declaration of war having been previously made, or having been declared subsequent to the engagement. He would presently advert to those instances, and he thought he should be able to show a very material difference between these cases and the case of the battle of Navarino. As the hon. and gallant Officer had drawn a conclusion favourable to his own case, from a comparison between it and by-gone transactions, it was necessary to consider what were the circumstances under which the battle of Navarino took place. In the first place, he would read an extract from the instructions which had been given by the Government to the Admiral stationed at Greece at that time. The hon. Gentleman read the passage which directed the Admiral to interfere only as a conciliator, to establish an armistice, but to avoid every hostile attack. It was perfectly clear by that, that the English squadron was not to commence hostilities unless they were actually forced to do so by the Turkish fleet, and that the instructions confined the operations of the English squadron to intercepting any succours from Egypt and Africa reaching the fleet of the Sultan. If the succours in question resorted to violence, then the English squadron was to employ force. But he (Mr. Labouchere) did not find that in these instructions, or in any other do- 502 cument proceeding from the Government, there was the slightest direction given to enter the harbour of Navarino, or that the occurrence of hostilities was contemplated. He did not presume to say, that the gallant Admiral had exceeded the spirit of the intentions of the Government; but he thought it right and fitting at this part of the discussion, to call the attention of the House to the undeniable fact, that the collision which afterwards took place, was one that was not wished nor anticipated by the English Government, much less directed by them in the instructions which were given to the gallant Admiral. With regard to the action itself, he had never known any person who had a competent judgment of such affairs, who did not declare, that in the brilliant and unrivalled annals of the naval history of the British nation, there never was a more daring, gallant, and successful exploit—one that reflected more credit upon the bravery and gallant bearing of both officers and men—than the battle of Navarino. The hon. Member said, he must also bestow high praise on the resolute daring of the hon. and gallant Officer, who, in one single line-of-battleship, a frigate, and two corvettes, boldly intercepted the whole Turkish fleet as they were leaving Navarino for Patras, and succeeded in turning them back to their original position. But, however splendid the action was, and however admirable and unexampled the courage of the British sailors on that occasion, still it was impossible to declare that the action had taken place in conformity with the instructions from the Government. It could not be asserted, that that part of the instructions which directed the gallant Admiral to separate the allied fleet into three classes, for the purpose of watching the Morea, was consonant with the measure which the gallant Admiral afterwards determined upon—that of entering the harbour of Navarino, in order to keep the Turkish fleet in check. He did not pretend to insinuate anything unfavourable to the hon. and gallant Officer, or which could, in the slightest degree, detract from his merits, for he was well aware of the difficult circumstances under which he was placed when he came to that resolution, and of the contingencies which he feared; but what he did say was, that that proceeding was not contemplated by the Government in the instructions which they forwarded to him. In entering the harbour of Navarino, which was occupied by a fleet belong- 503 ing, as was then considered, to a power friendly to England, no one could be surprised, that the collision was brought on by a mere accident, that it spread with rapidity, and terminated in a general action. He would read an extract from the despatches of the gallant Admiral, relating to that circumstance. The hon. Member then read the extract, to show that the origin of the engagement was accidental, and that the circumstances were not very clearly known. The hon. Member also referred to a speech made by Mr. Huskisson, then a Minister of the Crown, in a debate caused by a vote of thanks moved by Sir J. Hobhouse, to the gallant Member. Mr. Huskisson then said,—"The affair in which he had so eminently distinguished himself was not a battle between enemies, it was an accident—a misfortune which could not be foreseen, nor, perhaps, under the circumstances, avoided—it was an event which, in private life, would be styled a chance medley. He was convinced it would be so called in the verdict, if a Coroner's Jury could examine into the merits of it. But it did not follow, that because it was a chance-medley, there might not have been exhibited in it as much gallantry and skill as was ever exhibited by the bravest of men, in the noblest exploits of ancient or modern warfare."* The vote of thanks, he must observe, that was moved by Sir John Hobhouse, was not passed. Nothing, he could assure the House, was further from his mind, than to impute any dishonourable motives to the hon. and gallant Member; but he must call on the House to observe the origin of this action, and ask it to reflect on the example which would be afforded if the proceeding, as he had already stated, were to be sanctioned in the manner required by the hon. and gallant Member. What an advantage might be taken of that example, by other commanders, and to what serious consequences might it lead? With regard to the comparison which the hon. and gallant Member instituted between the battle of Algiers, and the battle of Navarino, he thought that there really was a very important difference between the two cases. What were the circumstances under which the battle of Algiers took place? Lord Exmouth was sent out to put an end to the barbarous practice of capturing and enslaving Christians, which had so long disgraced the Mediterranean sea. He was commissioned* Hansard (new series) xviii. p. 395.504 to enter into negotiations upon the subject, and some arrangements were made with the states of Barbary, which he considered perfectly satisfactory, and he, therefore, returned, hoping that the object of his mission had been brought to a favourable issue. These anticipations proved to be premature, and he was then sent out again to Algiers, with directions to make three specific demands, that the engagements which had been entered into, should be ratified, and if an unfavourable answer were returned, then to enter the Bay, and to attack the fleet. Would any man say, that this was a parallel case to the battle of Navarino, and that there was not a very considerable and marked distinction between them? The instructions of Lord Exmouth were, that if his demands were not complied with, then he should resort to immediate hostilities, and attack the enemy's ships in the Mole. In the case of Sir George Byng, which had occurred more than one hundred years ago, he did not think that a parallel could be found. Sir George Byng had received express orders to intercept the Spanish fleet, and to protect Sicily, the safety of which was at that time guaranteed by England. Admiral Byng had express orders to stop the progress of the Spanish fleet. Now, if the hon. and gallant Officer had met the Turkish succours at sea, if he had then stopped them, and if they had persisted in going on to join the Turkish fleet, the case would have been very different, for he would have followed his instructions. The hon. and gallant Officer had mentioned another case, but he did not think that it applied to the question. He (Mr. Labouchere) was not aware that it was necessary for him to trouble the House with any further observations. He had endeavoured to show, that there was a great distinction between the cases of the battle of Navarino, and those in which grants of money had been allowed. The general rule of this country was, not to grant head money, or gratuities to the officers and men engaged in actions, unless they had been preceded by a declaration of war. He was not certainly prepared to say, that that rule had not been extended under especial circumstances to other cases; but he thought, that the case of the hon. and gallant Member, was not one which would authorise the extension of the rule to it. It was with sincere regret, that he felt himself obliged to oppose the motion; yet he did so in the full belief that it was one to which the House could not with propriety agree.
§ Sir Francis Burdett
could assure the House, that he had felt equally pained with his hon. friend; but he felt pain, that such a Motion should be opposed by his Majesty's Ministers, for he must confess that in whatever light he looked at the case, it appeared to him clearly made out, that justice, policy, and the best interests of the country demanded the grant, and, therefore, the Motion was deserving the favourable consideration of Parliament. It was a question which did the hon. and gallant Member great credit in whatever way it was regarded, and the manner in which he had brought it forward was highly honourable to him. If it were true, unbendingly true, that let the most gallant action be performed which it was in the power of man to perform, placed in the most trying and delicate situation, yet he should, on account of some punctilio, be refused that reward to which he was entitled, he begged them to remember the consequences that must flow from such a doctrine. He could not but call to mind the unparalleled situation in which the hon. and gallant Member was placed. If he had acted with a little less spirit, if he had acted with a little less decision, he would have cast the worst of all discredits that it was possible to cast upon any country or any cause upon them; he would have thrown a stain upon the arms of England, and degraded the character of the British officer. Yes, if he had sailed back from Navarino—if he had not had the honour of his country so deeply at heart, he would have been reproached for not having accomplished the views entertained by Government, and on him would have been imposed the full blame of all the disastrous consequences which might have ensued. The gallant Admiral had met with praise from all quarters—from the officers in the same service as himself, from the nation, and from a Member of that Government who refused his claim—the Secretary of the Admiralty, who was not a stranger to the brilliant achievements of his country—he meant Mr. Croker—who was not ill-calculated to form an opinion of such an action, who was Secretary at the most unrivalled, at the most memorable period of our naval history, and who could not but allow the highest praise to the daring achievement of the hon. and gallant Officer. He well recollected the period when Sir John Hobhouse brought his Motion before the House, and he then totally denied that the hon. and gallant Member had committed any fault. It then appeared to 506 him, that the gallant Admiral deserved all the praise which was so liberally bestowed, that his conduct merited the highest commendations, and that his decision in action, his skill, his good taste, his tact,—he knew not how to describe his various qualities—were equal to that of any of his predecessors who lived in the memory of their country. When he remembered how he obtained the command of the fleet, how he put a stop to the jealousies of the commanders of the allied fleets, and how he contrived to combine their strength, to direct their movements, and unite their efforts, he could not but say, that if any action ever redounded to the honour of a commander, this brilliant achievement redounded to the honour of the hon. and gallant Admiral, and covered him with laurels. But suppose that the hon. and gallant Officer had committed a fault. The question did not there terminate. It was of a two-fold nature. The case of the officers, of the seamen, and marines, still remained. They had nothing to do with the instructions sent out to the gallant Admiral. They were not responsible for his disagreement with the Government. They nobly performed their duty, and on the common principles of justice they were entitled to their reward. What would be the consequences if they mixed up the case of these brave men with a quibble as to the circumstances under which they had entered into the engagement. Might they not expect, in some future critical time, the officers and men to say to their commanders, "Pray are we justified in obeying your orders; show us your instructions." What would then become of the service? If, as it was alleged, there was no precedent for rewarding the men under such circumstances of credit to them, then let a precedent be made; it was, indeed, time to make one. He repeated, that it was impossible to have a stronger case, founded on policy, and the best interests of the nation, to be brought forward. They had heard of the necessity of keeping inviolate the Bank Charter, of preserving untouched a questionable contract with some speculating bankers—they had been called upon in honour to maintain a compact which no one could understand how it existed, but still they were called upon, on the grounds of honour and faith, to keep it. He maintained, that the case of the seamen, to whom the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member related, stood on far better grounds. This claim could not be disputed; there was no 507 doubt of it, and there was no doubt of the danger that would occur, if, after performing services that all men praised—if after hazarding their lives and fortunes, they were not only to be denied their reward; but even denied remuneration for the sacrifice of their property, and the injuries they had sustained. Now, when they brought forward their claim, they were met with some distinction about head-money. He could not understand the distinction; all that he could understand was, that those unfortunate men had been suffering since 1827, and that they ought, on this appeal to the House, to be both rewarded for their conduct, and compensated for their losses. There was no doubt about the merit of the men; and he was sure, that the performance of this act of justice to these men would be hailed throughout the country with the greatest satisfaction. He saw no difference between the cases of Algiers and Navarino. The gallant Admiral was sent out upon a most difficult mission, and he used those means which he found himself bound to adopt. They had performed that very action. The hon. and gallant Admiral was in a difficult and singular situation at Navarino; but his position in that House was still more singular. He should give his cordial support to the Motion. It was the first time in the annals of history, that a distinguished officer, after having achieved an action which reflected the highest honour upon his country, was compelled in that House to defend himself; to hear himself censured for having said, he hoped that the House would consent to relieve these ill-treated seamen, and do them that tardy justice which had been so long delayed.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that he conceived himself called upon to make a few observations, in consequence of the reference which had been made by the hon. and gallant Member to what took place about a year after the affair of Patras had taken place, between the then Ministers and himself, in respect to that subject. The question that he had then asked was, why the action was not gazetted; for he had always felt, that it was one of the most brilliant which had occurred in our naval history. The answer which he then received, gave him a certain degree of doubt as to the origin of the action; and it was stated, that no shots were fired from the Turkish fleet; but he had since ascertained that many shots were fired. With regard to the daring nature of that enterprise, if it were not to be called the most brilliant—if 508 it were not to be admitted as inferior to no other—if it were not superior—an action in which one line-of-battle ship, one sloop of war, and one frigate, opposed fifty sail of vessels, some of them of no mean size, and well-armed and manned, and compelled the whole fleet to return to their original position—if that was not a brilliant action, then, indeed, he did not know what other engagement could be dignified by that appellation. He was perfectly ready to give his opinion, and his hon. and gallant friend knew, that he was very accurately aware of what took place on that occasion as to the commencement of the action, and to acquit his hon. and gallant friend of any unfounded censure or misrepresentation to which he might have been subjected on that point. With respect to the question before the House, and with regard to the conduct of the gallant Admiral before the battle of Navarino, he wished not to throw out any insinuations against him, or, in the observations which he should make, to give him any unpleasant feelings. The situation of the hon. and gallant Admiral, under the circumstances and difficulties by which he was encompassed, was a very arduous one, and no man could throw the slightest blame upon him for going into the port of Navarino. The question, when he and his colleagues came into office, stood thus—an application had been made by the hon. and gallant Admiral to the Government which preceded the present Administration, and who were of opinion that the gratuity ought not to be awarded. The application was then made to the present Government, who had not employed his hon. and gallant friend, and who had not even been the next in succession to the Government that employed him. They were then called upon to consider the propriety of reversing the decision which had been given by the former Government upon this question. He appealed to his hon. friend, although, perhaps, it was not right to revert to those decisions, whether those appeals were different from the present statement. The action commenced accidentally, as his hon. friend had already stated, and it was not intended by the Government which employed the hon. and gallant Officer, that he should attack the Turkish fleet. As the action, therefore, was quite accidental, and as the claim was quite unprecedented, the question was, whether they ought to reverse the decision of the Government, under the order of 509 which the action took place.—[Sir E. Codrington: Mr. Canning gave me my orders.]—It was true that Mr. Canning was at the head of the Government at the time the orders were issued, but the Government under which the action occurred, was essentially the same as that which had given the hon. and gallant Member his instructions. At least the Government had not reversed those instructions. His gallant friend acted under those instructions; and, as far as he was aware, there had been no change in the instructions given by Mr. Canning. That Government, therefore, ought to have been the best judge of the propriety of awarding head-money, and he did not see any reason to alter its decision. In his opinion, his hon. and gallant friend, and the brave fleet under his command, merited all the praise they had received, for that brilliant achievement. As to the losses which the men had suffered in their property on the occasion, he would only say, that any such claims always met with prompt attention from the Admiralty, The few claims of the kind, in connexion with this action, that had been laid before the Admiralty, had been immediately satisfied. The question now, however, for the House to consider was, whether in a case where the action had arisen from accident, it would be right to give this gratuity to the fleet that had achieved an action under such circumstances? He trusted he need not say, that it was with great regret he opposed the Motion; but the Government felt, that, under the circumstances, they would not be justified in adopting any other course.
§ Mr. Buckingham
said, it was always an agreeable task to join in praise of the brave defenders of their country, whether officers or men, and he was proud on this occasion to add his humble meed of eulogy to that already bestowed on the gallant Admiral and his heroic band. But in addition to this expression of his feelings, he was anxious to make a very few observations on what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Labouchere), on the subject in debate. He had listened to the objections raised against this Motion with the utmost attention, but had not heard one which was not susceptible of refutation. The hon. Gentleman began by reading the instructions issued to the gallant Admiral, by which he was commanded to take great care to prevent the Turkish fleet getting to the Morea, and to intercept them in their voyage there, if possible; and it was 510 admitted, that if the fleet had been met at sea, and persisted in going to the Morea, it would have been right to give them battle. But surely when they had actually entered a port of the Morea, they were not the less, but rather the more, to be carefully watched, and, if possible, driven from their well-known purpose. The Admiral found them so entered and in possession, and he most wisely entered after them, to keep them in check. In doing so, he was first attacked, and as a British seaman, he instantly replied to that attack, by answering in language not to be misunderstood. It had been said, indeed, that there was no declaration of war; but if the seamen were to be asked their opinion of this matter, they would no doubt say, that the most unequivocal declaration of war was made the moment the first shot was fired. It was not, perhaps, a declaration in the legal and technical sense, but it was more than a declaration, it was an act of war; and as such it had been fairly met and gallantly repelled. The officers and men had then performed their duty. No doubt had been expressed of that; and he would put it to the House, whether the whole country would not say, that, in encountering the same risk of life and limb in this, as in the most formal warfare, they were as fairly entitled to honours and rewards? It had been said, indeed, that this would be an encouragement to others to provoke a battle, for the sake of the gratuities to be obtained. This argument might have some weight if the British had, in the present instance, been the aggressors. But it was notorious that they were merely defending themselves from the aggressions of others, and, therefore, to reward those who acted most prudently and justifiably on the defensive, could never be cited as a precedent for bestowing the same rewards on those who acted imprudently and unjustifiably on the aggressive. There was another point of view in which this subject should be regarded: it was this:—The pay of the seamen in the navy was much lower than that in the merchant service—their service was forced instead of free—their discipline was more severe, and their confinement and privations greater; and all these were palliated by the constant assertion, that these evils (for they were not denied to be such) were counterbalanced by their chance of prize-money, bounties, and gratuities, to which their services in war entitled them. What, then, would the seamen of England say, when they found that, though they 511 fought and did their duty at Navarino, as well as on any occasion in our naval history, they were yet not to be paid that compensation for those risks, because of sonic technicalities of which they could not possibly have any knowledge? The reputation of the House and the country could not fail to suffer by such ingratitude; and he was not sure, but the fidelity of the seamen themselves, as well as their zeal, might be much endangered in the future, by withholding from them this just reward for their bravery and exertions in the past. For these and many other reasons, which he would not now press, as he was sure the feeling of the House would go along with him, and render any lengthened debate quite unnecessary, he should cordially support the gallant Admiral's Motion.
§ Mr. Warburton
would ask, if any one had pointed out what course the gallant Admiral could have pursued other than he had pursued, namely, to enter the bay of Navarino? Why, then, should the seamen employed in that expedition, be treated differently from those engaged in other expeditions of a similar nature? The proper course would be, if an error had been committed, or if the gallant Admiral who commanded exceeded his orders, to call him to a Court-martial. If he had erred, let him be punished; but why refuse to the seamen the reward which they had so well earned.
said, that his principle always was, not to pay those who did not deserve payment, but to pay those well who deserved it. Acting on this principle, he would vote that those seamen who fought so well at Navarino, should be rewarded. The men, in his opinion, ought not to be refused the customary reward on account of any error committed by the commanding officer. In such a case, the proper course would be, to call the gallant Admiral to answer any charge which might be brought against him before a Court-martial. But in this case the Government, by the mere fact of not calling on the gallant Admiral to answer any charge, had tacitly, though not expressly, approved of his conduct. Whatever the opinions of different parties might be, all would acknowledge, that the gallant Admiral had achieved a brilliant victory in the cause of humanity and liberty. The special pleading would be quite unintelligible to the seamen themselves by which they were to be deprived of the customary reward. There was no special pleading when called 512 on to do their duty. No! they did what English sailors would always do—they annihilated the fleet they were ordered to fight, and they could not do more. It was time, that the Government of this country should at last accord to those brave men the praise which was freely admitted to them by the whole world. It was time for the House of Commons to tell the people of England, that those seamen might be recompensed, and he would, therefore, cordially support the Motion.
Mr. John Stanley
hoped, after the expression of opinion by the House in favour of the Motion, that the Government would not persist in its opposition. The gallant Officer had acted strictly according to his instructions, and it was the duty of the House to see justice done to the gallant seamen under his command.
§ Sir John Sebright
said, he recollected his father having mentioned a speech made by a gallant Admiral in that House, on an occasion similar to the present. It was made at a time when speakers were not so numerous as at present, and when none spoke who had not something to say. That such was not now always the case, he was afraid he should be one of the living proofs. A t that time, officers in the navy had not the eloquence of the hon. and gallant Admiral who had brought forward the present Motion; but an old Admiral, who had never been known to address the House before, got up with his mouth full of tobacco, and, much to the surprise of all present, addressed the Speaker as follows:—"Mr. Speaker, I am not an orator, and I don't know how I could be, seeing that I have been forty years at sea; but this I know, that if you don't pay those who serve you well, you'll not be served at all." That story was applicable to the present question, and illustrated the view he took of it.
§ Mr. George Young
considered, that it would be a dangerous precedent if the House negatived this Motion, as it might be an inducement to seamen hereafter, to question the commands of their officers, if they should not be paid the customary gratuity merely on account of an error of judgment on the part of a commanding officer. He did not think, even if the gallant Admiral were found guilty by a Court-martial of exceeding his orders, that that would be a sufficient ground for invalidating the claim of the seamen. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Lord would not continue his opposition to the motion; 513 or, at all events, that he would find himself relieved of any responsibility on this score, by finding himself in a minority.
§ Sir Robert Price
hoped his noble friend would withdraw his opposition to a motion in favour of which there appeared to be an almost unanimous feeling in the House. He would earnestly entreat of the noble Lord not to persist in his opposition.
§ Admiral Adam
supported the Motion, and said, that the gallant Admiral had done himself great honour by his disinterestedness throughout the transaction. It was clear, that his gallant friend had no expectation of fighting when he entered the Bay, and it was equally clear, that by so doing, he fulfilled his instructions in the best manner, and saved the Morea.
§ Mr. Hume
had great doubts as to the propriety of acceding to this Motion. He said this with regret; for no one had a higher sense of the gallantry of the hon. and gallant Admiral than he had, or was more ready to accord him his meed of admiration. He was, however, disposed to go with the noble Lord in the opinion which he expressed, and for the same reasons. The general sentiments of the House, however, showed, that the noble Lord would be left in a minority, and he would, therefore, recommend to him not to press his opposition to a division. He could not but regret the result of the battle, in as far as it destroyed the Turkish fleet, and thereby laid Turkey prostrate at the feet of Russia.
§ Mr. Hodges
supported the Motion. To deny the sailor compensation when he had gained a battle might make him waver when the country was in danger.
§ Lord Althorp
rose and said, that he had formerly stated his reason for opposing this Motion; but no one seemed to concur with him in his opposition but the hon. member for Middlesex. In such circumstances, he could not think of dividing the House on the question, and would, therefore, not persist in his opposition; and he hoped his hon. and gallant friend would allow him to congratulate him on the result of his Motion. He was sure, that his gallant friend well knew, that any opposition which he gave to it was merely from a sense of duty. He would only add, that this result was a reward which the hon. and gallant Admiral well deserved for his distinguished conduct throughout the transaction.
§ The Motion was carried; the House to resolve itself into a Committee on the 25th.