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have pensions according to their length of service from 35l. to 851, a-year. Nor is this all; their widows at their death have pensions of 25l. a-year, about fourteen hundred of whom are now in the receipt of them. Then, with regard to the petty officers and seamen, their provisions are of the very best quality, and the rations precisely the same as to the captain. Every biscuit they eat is made from flour of wheat purchased by government in the market, ground in the government mills, and baked in the government ovens. They have the luxuries of tea, cocoa, and sugar allowed, and are supplied with any articles of clothing they may stand in need of, at rates far below the prices of private dealers, and of superior qualities. They are well attended to in the event of hurts or sickness. The mortality, indeed, on board a ship of war is incredibly small. The scurvy, that once committed such dreadful ravages in ships of war, has wholly disappeared; and the sailors owe this blessing, in great measure, to the introduction of lemon juice, and many judicious regulations established by that venerable and intelligent medical officer, Sir Gilbert Blane. The effects of these, as particularly ascertained in the height of the war, were most remarkable. In the years 1811-12-13, the
average number of seamen afloat was about 138,000; and the average deaths, by disease, accident, and battle, amounted in round numbers to 4,600, giving thus little more for the annual mortality than one man in thirty.
They enjoy other advantages of no little importance. They are allowed to allot half their wages to their families; they are granted pensions for life after twenty-one years' service, varying from tenpence to fourteenpence a-day; and petty officers, serjeants and corporals of marines, according to their length of service, receive from 251. to 401. a-year and upwards. Of these misnamed slaves,' upwards of 20,000 are at this moment dividing among them the enormous sum of 260,0001. a-year as pensioners, besides nearly 3000 who are well fed, clothed, and lodged, in the magnificent establishment at Greenwich,* and by far the greater number of whom were impressed men, We say nothing of the chances of prize money, which, however, with the spirit of adventure and enterprise that actuates the minds of seamen, induce them to get into king's ships for any service that is likely to bring them before the face of an enemy. What, indeed, but the inherent love of fighting and making prizes could induce so many English
* Let us take this casual opportunity of correcting an erroneous statement in a late Number of this Journal. We mentioned King William IV. as the munificent donor of the greater part of the naval pictures in the Hall at Greenwich. His present Majesty's personal and professional feelings had, no doubt, been consulted—but the act we alluded to was, we find that of his ever princely predecessor, King George IV.
seamen to prefer entering, in these piping times of peace, the service of Dom Pedro, at the risk of life or limb, and with such uncertainty of getting either pay or provisions, to the comfortable enjoyment of both in a British man-of-war ?-nothing but the activity of the one service, and the present torpid state of the other.
With the predilections of seamen generally for entering on board his Majesty's ships, not only on account of the splendid advantages held out to them, but also for the pride of serving under a pendant, and the good treatment they are sure to experience, it will naturally be asked, where is the necessity then of forcing men into the service? We think we can explain how far it may still be necessary to keep up the practice of resorting to the impress, though we consider it capable of modification. It was proved, in the course of the late prolonged war, that the number of our native seamen was inadequate to the manning of both the military and mercantile navies; and that, in consequence, more than a third part of the crews of the former, or about 40,000 men, were obliged to be made up of landsmen and foreigners. At this period the whole trade of the world nearly was in the hands of the British merchants ; to secure seamen for their ships the wages they gave were enormous; but still, by the activity of the commanders of our cruising ships in procuring men, the merchant vessels were also compelled to take landsmen and foreigners. Owing to this great demand of the two services, the number of sea-faring men became greatly augmented, and the crews of both were in a progressive state of improvement. Peace at length came—the fleet was paid off-foreign nations participated in the commerce of the world—the best of the old navy seamen are now worn down with age—the consequence is, that at the present time the number of real available seainen is much reduced ; they are just enough, and not more than enough, for the merchant ships employed in the foreign commerce of the country, and for the reduced squadron of men-of-war on the peace establishment.
It is clear, then, that on the sudden breaking out of a war, if we wish to place the country in a state of safety, our coasts and our colonies (if any be left to us) to be defended against insult and plunder, and our trade effectually protected, we must depend solely on the exertions and activity of our navy. Ships we have in abundance, and many of them of a very superior kind, but of what use would they be without a sufficient supply of seamen; and where are these seamen to be had but by intercepting the homeward-bound merchant ships in the Channel, and taking out of them such men as can be spared ? There is no denying that this measure is a severe hardship, as it prevents seamen from seeing their friends after a long voyage, and imposes a restraint upon them which nothing but state necessity could justify. Impressing from outward-bound ships, however, would very little, if at all, abate the hardship to the men, while it would be infinitely more distressing to the trade of the country, the protection of which is the immediate duty of the government; and this great object can only be efficiently obtained by having as speedily as possible a well-manned fleet at sea on the first appearance of hostile movements. Severe, moreover, as the practice of impressing men anyhow may appear, we should remember that it is an evil contingent to the condition of persons betaking themselves to a seafaring life. Their liability to serve in time of war is implied by various acts of parliament, some directing protection to be granted to landsmen against impressment till they have used the sea two years; others to apprentices until they attain the age of eighteen; others to mates of merchant ships, harpooners, &c. of Greenland vessels; and also to a great number of other descriptions of persons, all which exceptions prove the rule of general liability. No one, indeed, will be bold enough to assert that it is not both constitutional and legal to compel seamen to serve in the navy. The practice has prevailed and does prevail in all the maritime nations of Europe; with us it is the common law of the land, it has been acted upon prior to the time of Edward III., and has frequently been extended to the impressment of ships as well as Mr. Sergeant Foster, in his able and unanswerable report on the subject, says, 'the right of impressing mariners for the public service is a prerogative inherent in the crown, grounded upon common law and recognised by many acts of parliament.' In short, we can see little difference in the coercion which calls on a person to serve in the militia or to find a substitute, and in the coercion which compels a seaman to serve in the navy, who is also, in ordinary cases, allowed to serve by substitute.
Whatever feeling may exist in the public mind against impressment, the sailor, knowing he is liable to serve, and knowing he will be well treated in a man of war, thinks much less of it than those do whom he leaves behind; he generally quits without regret a merchant ship, where he is neither so well fed nor treated, and much more severely worked. The real and distressing hardship is when Jack is seized by a press-gang in the bosom of his family; it is in cases of this kind that the odium against impressment is most excited; the act of dragging men away, amidst the cries of women and children, creates dissatisfaction and disgust in all who witness the transaction. This worst part of the practice may, however, and it is to be hoped will, be discontinued in the event of another war. It certainly is neither expedient por necessary
that it should be kept up: and we should strongly recommend that no such place as what is called a rendezvous may be allowed to exist; very few good men are raised at the best of them, and one half that are raised are discharged on being regulated, as unfit or illegally taken. The real tar will not long continue to shut himself up on shore, and it is little enough to permit him, while there, to remain undisturbed, and to consider him only as fair game when afloat. Indeed, so much improved in every respect has been the treatment of the seamen in his majesty's feet that, in all the foreign stations where a king's ship may be lying, the masters of merchant vessels have the greatest difficulty to prevent their men from deserting to join the former. It is therefore, perhaps, not too much to hope that, in a future war, after the first bustle to get out a fleet to sea is over, and this must be done instantaneously at all hazards,) the navy will be able to keep up the complement of seamen by volunteers.
This affair is, after all, an evil more in the abstract than in reality--a subject for poets and painters to exercise their pens and pencils upon in vivid description and glowing colours, -a theme for declamation by noisy politicians~'a sop o'th' moonshine' thrown by some pledged delegate to sooth his constituents. Persons of this description affect to be sensibly hurt at the practice of flogging in the army and the navy,—denounce it as cruel, inhuman, and unnecessary : with their accustomed liberality they seem to think that they, who are placed under the painful necessity of ordering such punishment, must have less feeling than themselves who declaim against it-nay, even derive a pleasure from inflicting it. We hear, however, of many better-disposed persons than these, talking of substitutes for this punishment; in the army, this might, perhaps, in most instances, be resorted to, but not so in the navy. The scheme has, in fact, been tried in fifty ways, and in all totally failed. The prevailing vice of sailors is drunkenness, and this it is utterly impossible to put an end to under any of the plans suggested. man declares his allowance intoxicates him (and it is certainly much more than it ought to be) the captain may abridge it, and credit his account with the value of the remainder ; but where every man and boy has his whole allowance, the drunkard will have no difficulty in finding the means of frequently indulging his unfortunate propensity. Some captains have tried to shame the delinquents by making them objects of ridicule,-clapping a fool's cap on their heads, — labelling their jackets,-putting a collar round their necks; but such expedients have been found wholly inefficient. One officer titted up a large puncheon as a tread-mill; but this disgusted the whole ship's company, who, one and all, called
out for the old-established punishment. Solitary confinement on board ship is scarcely practicable, and if it were, is by no means advisable,
Solitary confinement,' says Captain Hall, “ I take to be one of the most cruel, and, generally speaking, one of the most unjust of all punishments; for it is incapable of being correctly measured, and it almost always renders the offender worse. It is apt also to protract his sufferings far beyond all required bounds; while it not only prompts him and gives him time to brood over his most revengeful purposes, but irritates him against his officers and his duty, degrades him in his own eyes, and, if long continued, almost inevitably leads to insanity and suicide.' *
We entirely concur in the opinion of this distinguished officer, that the transient nature of the punishment at the gangway, as compared with the prolonged misery of solitary confinement, leaves no time for discontent to rankle, nor any permanent ill-will on the mind of a sailor, either towards his captain or towards the service. In point of fact, however, since that most beneficent and humane regulation of the Admiralty, which requires a written warrant to be issued by the captain for the punishment of a seaman, setting forth the offence, and also a quarterly return to be made of all such warrants and punishments, the lash has rarely been resorted to—more rarely in proportion to the sound discipline of the ship. But though the frequency of punishment be abated, the power of punishing must remain, otherwise there will soon be an end to that good discipline in the navy on which alone its efficiency can be maintained.
Asserting then, as we fearlessly do, the absolute necessity of continuing the power of impressment and the power of punishment, if we are to maintain in its vigour that arm of our strength and security—the navy~we at the same time as fearlessly deny that'a pressed man is a slave to the will of a despot.' Such a doctrine, we believe, has never been broached since the days of the mutiny in the fleet, which, in the opinion of those best acquainted with the service, would never have happened had the just rights and reasonable claims of the seamen been then attended to. At that time there were, no doubt, commanders in the fleet, who carried
* The Third, and we are sorry to hear it called last, series of Captain Hall's Fragments of Voyages and Travels, from which we quote, does not present any features of novelty sufficient to demand another separate article ; but we take this opportunity of expressing the pleasure with which we have perused its many vivid descriptions and sagacious remarks. We sincerely hope the author will continue his lucubrations in some other form. It is a strong measure to advise any man now-a-days to try a novel - but there is such a power of life in Captain Hall's nautical portraitures, and such a gentlemanlike vein of fun withal, that we cannot but say we wish he would make the attempt to be the Smollett of our Vernons.