begged to ask the hon. Member opposite whether there was any foundation for the report, that the Admiralty had issued orders for the fitting-out of the ten-gun brigs, which were known in the navy tinder the name of " floating coffins," for the purpose of sending them out to Africa, with a commander and a complement of eighty men, in order to cruize along that coast on the slave preventive service?
§ Mr. S. Herbert
said, that the Government had formed an opinion that officers of the rank of lieutenants in the navy were not of a rank sufficiently elevated to qualify them for the duties of a commander on the African station, and therefore it had been determined to send out no vessel under the charge of an officer of lower rank than that of a commander to cruise on the slave coast, for the duties which were to be performed by that officer were of a most delicate and responsible nature, more particularly those which related to the boarding of foreign vessels, and of instituting a search for slaves; and 1096 therefore it was deemed requisite that a small number of ten-gun brigs should be fitted out and despatched to the African station. At the same time he must observe, that the crews were not to consist of the full complement of eighty men, but were modified, in point of numbers, to suit the limited accommodations of the vessels.