Billeder på siden


ning a-ground. Great preparations, tion, were violently reprobated by also, were made, at Sheerness, a- the feamer belonging to the two digainst an attack from the mutinous vilions of the fleet lying at Portf tips, which had manifested some mouth and at Plymouth. Each of strong indications of an intention them addreffed an admonition to to bombard that place: and fur- their fellow-feanen at the Nore, naces and hot balls were kept warmly condemuing their proceed! ready.

ings, as a scandal to the name of BriEmboldened by the strength of tith feamen, and exhorting them to men and shipping in their hands, and be content with the indulgence alresolved to persevere in their de- ready granted by government, and mands till they had extorted a com- to return to their duty withont inpliance, the mutineers proceeded to sifting on more conceitions than had Tecure a sufficiency of provisions for been demanded by the rest of the that purpose, by seizing two vessels navy. laden with stores, and sent notice But these warnings proved inalhore that they intended to block effectual. The reinforcement of up the Thames; and cut off all the four ships lately arrived, and communication between London the expectation of being joined by and the sea, in order to force govern- others, induced them to perlist in ment to a speedy acceflion to their their demands. The committee terms. They began the execution of delegates, on board the Sandof this menace by inooring four of wich, came to a determation to their vessels across the mouth of the commission lord Northerk, whom river, and ftopping feveral fhips they had kept in confinement in that were coming from the metro- the Montague, of which he was polis.

the commander, to repair to the They now altered the system of king in the name of the fleet, and their delegation, and to prevent too to acquaint him with the condimuch power from being lodged in the tions on which they were willing hands of any man, the office of pre- to deliver up the ships. The petifident was entrusted to no one longer tion, which he was charged to lay than a day, This they did to fecure before the king, was highly refpccithemselves from the attempts to be- ful and loyal to him, but very levere tray them, which might result from on his ministers, and they required the offers held out to those in whom an entire compliance with every one they were obliged to place confi

. of their demands, threatening, on dence and authority, were those to the refusal of any, to put immeposless such a truft for any time. diately to fea. Lord Northesk reaThey also compelled those nips, the dily undertook to be the bearer crews of which they fufpected of of their petition, but told them, wavering in the cause, to take their that, from the unreasonableness of station in the midst of the others. their demands, he could not flatter But, notwithstanding these precau- them with the hope of fuccels, tions, two vessels eluded their vigi- Confiding in him, they said, as the lance, and made their escape. feamen's friend, they had entrusted

These transactions, while they ex. him with this million, on pledging cited the greatest alarm in the na: his honour to return, with a clear



and positive answer, within fifty- riod, confined on-board a prisonfour hours.

fhip in the river Thames. Lord Northesk departed accord- In the mean time, this dangerous ingly for London, and was intro- mutiny had been a serious obje&t of daced, by lord Spencer, to the king. attention in parliament. On the But no anfwer being returned to first of June,'a meilage was deliverthe meffage, and information being ed from the king to both houses, to brought to the fleet, that the na- give them formal notice, of the tion at large highly disapproved event, and to request they would of their proceedings, great divifionis adopt the necessary measures for took place among the delegates, the public security, and, particularly, and feveral of the ships delerted to make more effectual provision the others, not, however, without for the prevention and punishment much content and bloodshed. The of attempts

The of attempts to excite mutiny and mutineers, despairing, now, of ac- fedition in the navy, or lo fecomplishing their defigns, ftruck the duce individuals in the fea or land red flag,' which they had hoisted service from their duty and alleas the fignals of mutiny, and re- giance. stored a free pallage to the trade A bill was accordingly proposed of the metropolis. Every ship was by Mr. Pilt, the purport of which now lest at its own command, and was, that persons who should cothey all gradually returned to obe- deavour to reduce cither foldiers or dience, tho!gh, on board of fome, Tailors from their daty, or instigate violent firuggles happened between them to rutinous practices, or comthe mutineers and the loyal parties. mit any act of mutiny, or form any

The principal conductor of the mutinous allonblies, should, on conmutiny, Richard Parker, was seized viction, be deemed guilty of felony, and imprisoned, and, after a solemn and fuffer death: the duration of trial, that lasted three days, on board the act was limited to one month of the Neptune, lie was sentenced after the commencement of the next to death. He fuffered with great session. The propriety of such a coolnefs and intrepidity, acknow- law, in the prefent conjun&ure, apledging the justice of his sentence, peared fo evident, that it passed by and espreiling his hope, that mercy an unanimous vote on the third of might be extended to his associates. June. But it was judged necessary to make Another motion was public examples of the principal and by Mr. Pitt, to prevent all commumost guilty, who were accordingly nication with the hips that faculd tried, and, after fall proof of their be in a state of mutiny, and to criminality, condemned and exe- enact, that if, after the king's cuted. Others were ordered to be *clamation, any one fiould volunwhipped; but a confiderable num- tarily continue in such fhips, they ber remained under fentence of should be declared mutinous and death till after the great victory ob- rebellious, their pay should ceale, tained, over the Dutch fleet, by ad- and they should forfeit that which miral Duncan: when his majesty was due to them. fent a general pardon to those un- The severity of that part of the happy men; who were, at that pe bill, which reftrained all intercourse


then made,

prowith the mutinous. seamen, was

valued the intercourse and commu; animadverted on by fir John Sin- nication with a parent, a wife, and clair, who recommended the union other relatives and friends, they of conciliation with terror, and sug- ought, before they were permitted gested the appointment of commil- to enjoy the sweets of those ensioners, to grant pardons under par- dearing connections, to reconcile, ticular circumstances,

themselves to their offended coun, The penal clause proposed for try, by returning to the allegiance wilful and advised communication they owe it. If we could, Mr. Pitt was death. This was opposed by added, obtain new avenues to the Mr. Nichol, on the ground, that hearts of those brave but deluded the intercourse with a person guilty men; if we could rouze their gene. of high treason, was not, by law, rous feelings, and, by awakening even a misdemeanour, provided it the tender affections of nature, rewere not accompanied by open call them to a sense of their duty, acts of aiding and abetting; the when they reflected on the happiguilt incurred by such communi-, ness they were deprived of by decation ought not, therefore, to ex- parting from it, we should have tend, at most

, beyond a misdemea- made an effectual progress in bringnour, and the penalty not farthering them to repentance and subthan in cases of this kind, and never million. These arguments prevailbeyond transportation at the very ed, and the provisions in the bill farthest.

were admitted as the minister had To this modification of the fe- originally proposed, with the addiverity proposed by the minister, tion of the penalties annexed to Mr. Adair replied, that the punish- piracy, which were moved by the ment was only to attach to those solicitor-general. Several other who should hold communication, clauses were added, for the purposes and intercourse, with persons de- of punishment, or of pardon, as circlared in a state of mutiny, after the cumstances might require; and the prohibition to communicate with duration of this act was, like the them had been published; but Mr. preceding one, against the seduction Nichol observed, that the commu- of people in the

army nary

from nications, liable to the penalty in- their duty, limited to one month after tended, ought to be more expli- the commencement of the next parcitly (pecilied. To this observa- liamentary seffion. tion the minister made answer, that Two members opposed the paffcommunications by letters, or other- ing of this hill, fir Francis Burdet wise, which previously to a prohi- and Mr. Sturt. The former objectbition might have been innocent, ed to it, as tending to irritate the came, nevertheless, under the im- seamen, and drive them to acts of putation of guilt, after they had desperation and revenge, that might been prohibited. His opinion was, be attended with the most fatal conthat men guilty of such atrocious sequences, and preclude all reconacts of rebellion as the mutineers, ciliation: the latter insisted, that ought to be completely separated conciliatory measures would alone from that country of which they be effectual, in producing that cordial had abandoned the cause. If they and speedy lubmiffion which the 6.



present circumstances demanded. requisitions, the propriety and seaHe considered, also, the existing · fonableness of which were queflaws as fully fufficient for the catë tioned by their warmest advoin agitation, without encumbring cates. the penal code with odious addi- The suppression of the mutiny at tions, It was already, he observed, the Nore was truly a critical ocamply severe. Of thirty-lix articles curence. The number of ships of of war, near the half, feventeen, the line, and of r.solute and expecontained penalties and punishments rienced seamen that manned them, of various kinds.

and in whose' poflethon they were, Whatever propriety there might presented the most formilable obbe in the observations of these two ject of alarm. The combination of gentlemen, the alarm and refent- the ships companies' at Portsmouth ment of the majority, at the manner and Plymouth, offered nothing danin which the Teamen of the fieet gerous in comparison of that which at the Nore had enforced their de-, took place at the Nore: the demands, led them to adopt the co- mands of the former were firicily ercive measures recommended by justifiable, and no inconvenience minifters. Fortunately for thele, could arise from complying with the divisions they had found means them; but those of the latter aimed to create among the mutineers at innovations equally dangerous operated more powerfully towards and mortifying to persons in authotheir reduction than any other cause. rity, and would have occafioned Had they remained firmly united, esential alterations in the discipline government must have finally com- and nianagement of the nary. plied with most of their requisitions, A variety of opinions went forth especially with that which related of the real caufes of both these muto a more equal distribution of prize. tinies; but, the first may be, withmoney. This demand appeared, out hesitation, ascribed to the poto the generality of men, founded pular masims, prevailing every upon the strictest equity. Had they where, of the right, inherent in all confined their petition to this par- men, to require an eqnitable treal, ticular, it was thought, at the time, ment, and, if denied them, to chthat they would have been feconded tain it by force, if other means apby the seamen of the whole navy. peared infufficient. The inequin By demanding too much, they de- table treatment of the common prived themselves of that inanimous failors in the navy was undeniable: conrurrence which they had ex- it was a subject of ordinary life pected. They not only incurred course, and the withes of the in

. the disapprobation of their tellow- partial public were daily exprefled feamen, but forleited the counte- for a redress of their grievarces. nance of their other fellow-subjects, Nor did the framen, in the petitions who, though convinced that they they presented, and by their conduct were entitled to better treatment and demeanour towards their 01in the article of prizes than they had ficers, in the course of the whole hitherto experienced, were not in- transactions, commit any act of inclined to abet them in this particu- folence and disrespect. The utmost Jar, while they acconkanied it with freedom they took was, to ditest of their authority those whom they con- ticated, in the imagination of the fidered as inimicalto the interests and French, all kinds of disasters to this claims of the common men, or such country, Deprived of this indil. as had exceeded the bounds of due pensible support, at a period when moderation in the exercise of their it was more than ever needed, Great command, and rendered themselves Britain would lose, at once, its inobnoxious, by the unnecessary seve- fluence in the affairs of Europe, and rity and the harshness of their be- fink into a state of absolute inlignihaviour. The readiness with which ficancc. That awe, in which it the whole multitude of the malcon- had kept surrounding nations, would tents returned to their wonted sub- vanili; none of them would any miffion, the moment they became longer either dread its power or fatisfied that their petitions would court its alliance: its

very political be granted, evinced the fincerity existence, as an independent counof their professions of loyalty, and try, would become precarious, and that they harboured no other views nothing, in short, of its former than of securing better ufage than ftrength and importance would rethey had met with heretofore. main.

But the insurrection at the Nore Such were the subjects of exultawas attended with far more mena- tion, throughout France, on this cing circumstances. The demands of critical occafion. They did not subthe mutineers seemed, in fome in- fide on the pacification effected by ftances, to be framed with an ex- the prudent concessions of governpectation to be refused, and the be- ment. It was still hoped, in France, haviour of their agents appeared that causes of a similar nature to calculated to excite the resentment those that liad produced the first of their fuperiors, and to let them mutiny, might give birth to a second. at defiance.

They proceeded to As, unfortunately for this country, acts of violence totally unnecessary they were not disappointed in their and unjustifiable, and which amount- expectations, which had been loud, ed, in fact, to the commission of hof and expressed with much conhlilities against their fellow-subjects. dence, numbers were led to believe,

Taking these various particulars that they had not been inađive in into consideration, fome persons creating them. strongly suspected, that there were, The advantages that must obyiamong the mutineers, individuals ously have resulted to the French who acted the part of emissaries republic, by fomenting discords of from the enemy, and Itrove to push fo fatal a tendency to this country, them on to extremities. Certain it were undeniable. This induced , is, that, when the intelligence of the people to think, that, conformably niutiny at Portsmouth arrived at to the system which they had purParis, it excited great satisfaction in sued to fuccessfully in other coun. the republican -party. Sanguine tries, they would have exerted their hopes were immediately conceived, noted talents for intrigue in enthat it might prove the prelude of couraging and extending the vamore serious insurrections: at all riances that had arisen here. But, events, the desertion of the British however inviting the opportunity navy was an incident that prognos. that seemed to offer, it has not been

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »