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fluence-Difference of having a member of the royal family to a common subject at head of it-Army and navy-Naval promotions as regards youths of high families and those of inferior degree-Necessity of inforcing a code of naval uniformity, and of appointing inspecting officers as in the army-Inefficiency of fighting equipments, and defective state of naval gunnery during the late American war-Some still subsisting-Decisions of courts-martial on some of the unsuccessful actions-Superiority of effective discipline and warlike equipment over a defective state thereof Advantages of efficient sights on guns, and of pistol, cutlass, musket, and great gun exercise, in in spiring confidence in the crew-Benefits of establishments for affording instructions in the like, and of premium competitions in expeditious and target firing-On modes of punishment now in force-Suggestions relative to altering and amending the same-Inferiority of naval pay in comparison to army pay-Great variety of other advantages possessed by the armyInvidious and unjust nature thereof Benefits of the Melville administration to the navy-Greater likely to result from that of the Lord High Admiral.
The appointment of His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence to the office of Lord High Admiral, which has given such universal satisfaction both to the naval service and the country at large, and which cannot but continue to give the highest satisfaction too from the energy and ability His Royal Highness has so decidedly displayed, the sense of impartiality that has actuated him, and the kind affability with which he has received the humblest as well as the highest in the service when attending his official levees, may be hailed as a new era in the naval history of the country. The army was previous to the appointment of His Royal Highness the Duke of York to the office of Commander-in-Chief, what the navy was previous to the appointment of His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence to the office of Lord High Admiral, being in a great measure a mere nursery for the propagation and strengthening of parliamentary influence: for although, from the number of gallant achievements performed, bravery could not and dared not be otherwise than rewarded with its meed, yet promotions on account of merit were undoubtedly few in comparison to what interest effected. A gentleman of my acquaintance who had three near relations in the navy, applied to a friend possessed of much influence with a leading member in the cabinet during the late war to obtain a captaincy for one of them, but had it notified by the great man that it could not be done: "in truth," said he, "such things can only be done through merit or parliamentary interest, as we must have a quid pro quo, and as your friend has three relatives in the navy, the best thing he can do is to buy a borough; for the Cornish boroughs have made more post-captains during the war than all the victories gained by the British fleet." As another proof of "how the wind blows," a gentleman attached to Somerset House informed me, that the better half of the clerks
there were from Devonshire and Cornwall, two counties as prolific in rotten boroughs as in mushrooms.
While the Duke of York was a man of too high feelings of honor, and of too elevated a mind, to allow himself to be made the passive instrument for dispensing the corrupt favors of the administration, his royal rank deterred them from pressing any proposition on him calculated to degrade both him and the profession over whose interests and honor he watched. While also the office of Commander-in-Chief was filled by a subject not royally connected, the individual felt that all the odium arising from the sanctioning of improper promotions would attach to himself alone, for which however the honors, perquisites, and patronage of office, would afford a sufficient balm: but the Duke of York felt that in admitting the military profession to be degraded through him, he was not only degrading himself thereby, but lowering the character of His Majesty, and that of the whole royal family, in the eyes of the army and the nation, and rendering them unpopular with both, from seeing an immediate member of that family the very instru ment by which such was effected. When the military service was thus freed and defended from the efforts of administrative corruption, the load of which it was thus disburdened necessarily, in a great measure, fell on its step-brother the Naval Service; but the recent happy appointment of His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence will free it from all the pollutions that have so long depressed it, and by linking it more strongly with royal regard and sympathy, make it be no longer regarded as a step child. It is to be hoped, therefore, that neither the military nor the naval service will be again placed under the control of a common subject, as long as there is a single individual of royal connexion of age to be appointed as their heads; for with the assistance of a board of officers similar to the council of the admiralty, any individual of very ordinary acquirements may quite capably fill such a station; for what could the majority of our first lords of the admiralty possibly know about the management of naval matters? They acted of course by the advice of those around them who did know. And what should prevent members of the royal family from doing the same? All our present royal race, from the period of the first George downwards, have shown themselves to be men of strong good sense, firmness of mind, and of considerable business powers; qua- . lities peculiarly requisite in office and as these powers seem rather to increase than degenerate in the royal family, arguing from" similar analogies, we need not fear any speedy extinction of individuals of this class qualified for office, as long as we can secure a continuance of the stock. Not however the least of the benefits accruing to the navy from the appointment of His Royal Highness, Pam. NO. LVI. Z
will be that of exalting the naval profession both in its own estimation and in that of the country; for whatever our race of levellers may predict, men of high birth will always continue to be looked up to with a greater feeling of respect than those of humble origin, and their names will continue to confer an honorable eclat on every profession with which they are associated, in proportion to their exalted degree of birth, as long as in other respects their conduct squares with that of the generality of mankind.
Sir George Cockburn manifested his usual acute powers of observation and clear good sense, besides expressing the true feeling of the naval service, when declaring that men of high birth were particularly useful in the naval profession, from their conferring a greater respectability on it, and connecting it with influential families, who would thus take a greater interest in it; while such appointments were not looked on with jealousy, but rather with pleasure, by the great body of naval officers, from their being fully sensible of the advantages the service derived from them; and that speedy promotion being the only stimulus to induce the youth of high-born and wealthy families to enter the naval profession, it was good policy to do so. Those who are of opinion that motives of pleasure or profit induce our wealthy youths to dedicate their lives to the naval service of their country, need only take a trip to sea, and exist for a three months' cruize on sea pay and sea allowances, to have the chimera dispelled. It is not at the exaltation of the youth of high-born families that the naval officers as a body feel discontented; it is when some such thing takes place (and but too often it does so) as the son of a Westminster shopkeeper seeing the son of some petty shopkeeper in Cornwall exalted over his head, neither whose services or abilities at all equal his own, and who can only boast of the plumpers given by his relations at the last borough election for his singular good luck.
If the modes of granting promotions were bad on His Royal Highness the Duke of York's entrance to office, the heterogeneous modes of manoeuvring and of performing the manual exercise were no better, every colonel following some whim of his own, and no two regiments being in consequence capable of manoeuvring together, from each following its own particular mode. This glaring defect in military organisation was speedily put an end to also by His Royal Highness, by a uniform practice being directed to guide the whole army. A similar field of improvement in the navy lies open also to his distinguished brother, every Captain following his own particular whim in rigging the ship, working of the guns,'
Since writing the above I find a code of regulations for producing a uniformity in naval gunnery was some years ago promulgated by the Ad
arrangement at quarters and divisions, and when mustering in cases of fire, so that every officer and seaman on quitting one ship for another, has a new apprenticeship to begin. It is needless to point out how much a uniformity (as far as circumstances would admit) in every naval operation would tend to the improvement of the service, extending even to the leading of and mode of coiling away the ropes, and securing of the guns, the latter of which are ge nerally secured in whatever manner the captain of the gun deems fit; so that when beating to quarters at night, there is generally much trouble and loss of time experienced in finding how the gun is secured, often ending in cutting right and left with the knife in order to get it cast loose. In fact the Naval Instructions ought to be revised by a board of competent officers, every officer's duty more clearly and fully laid down, and every mode of practicable uniformity introduced for the benefit of the service, obliging each officer to have a copy of this, and having the youthful tyros too at the Naval College and on board ship instructed in it, by making it a book for lessons and for questioning on. This board ought to continue its labors in communication with the Admiralty for years, publishing a new edition annually with the addition of such useful amendments as the experience of others in the service may point out; and officers in employment ought on this account to be directed to forward remarks to the board of officers, because, it is only by trying how a system will work, and remedying by degrees its defects according as experience points out, that we can ever arrive at any thing like a perfection in that system; for although a tolerably correct system in outline may be laid down at the offset, yet it is only experience in the working of it that will make it correct in the detail.
The Honorable Captain Napier was celebrated during the late war as having the most perfect system of naval arrangement in his ship (the Eurydice) of any officer in the service, from which many other captains usefully copied; and his regulations therefore will possibly constitute the best groundwork plan of any that could be thought of, if it be possible to make much improvement therein.
At the commencement of the late American war, our ships were generally, as to their efficiency in naval gunnery, in a most defective state, from having for many years no enemy to contest the sea with them, and therefore no wonder many at the outset fell such an easy prey; but these reverses soon caused a reaction to take place and although at the commencement of the war the Shannon was the only frigate on the American station deemed competent
miralty, but for want of being properly enforced has never yet been fully carried into practice.
to cope with an American frigate of the same force, before many months had elapsed the Nymphe, Tenedos, and several others, had the same confidence reposed in them. The Americans acted a most prudent part in disgracing Commodore Barron for his easy surrender to the Leopard, (a vessel of more guns certainly but inferior in point of men and metal,) causing the greatest attention afterwards to be paid by their other officers to the efficiency of their naval equipments, and to expertness and skill in their gunnery, in order to avoid a similar disgrace. In the British service, however, the encomiums of the members of the courts martial seemed to increase in proportion to the frequency of the disgraceful failures, with a sort of false view, as it would seem, to make it appear in the eyes of the British nation and of the world, that by these failures the honor of our naval service was not compromised.
With a few distinguished exceptions indeed the Americans were greatly our superiors in naval gunnery, both as regarded rapidity and efficiency of firing, from paying much more attention to the equipment and working of the guns, possessing in fact all that superiority over us which the adept in the science of boxing possesses over the individual unskilled therein, although endowed with an equal share of strength, activity, and courage. Confidence is a most essential principle wherewith to inspire the minds of combatants previous to entering into action, that sort of confidence I mean which arises from a consciousness of being superior, or at least equal, in every point that may tend to the achievement of victory over the enemy against which they are contending; and hence when a ship's company are conscious that they are not only commanded by able officers, but that they themselves are so thoroughly versed in the sword, musket, pistol, and cannon exercise, that no other ship's company can possibly surpass them, with what confidence must they enter into action in comparison with those totally deficient therein! and when the former are capable too of firing unerringly thrice for the latter's chance twice, it is obvious to which side the victory will incline. A proper disparting of the cannons (that is, placing sights at the breech and muzzle in a line parallel with the bore) tends also materially to facilitate the firing, and insure a proper direction to the shot; and although this was much attended to in all well-disciplined ships at the termination of the war, yet since then, this, as well as every thing appertaining to naval gunnery, appears to have entirely fallen into disuse.
If a new war should break out to-morrow with the Americans, our ships will be found by them to be quite as easy conquests as at the commencement of the last war; and it will not be till after a few such sound beatings as then, that we will have our eyes. opened to our error. The Americans disparted their guns by