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« missioners of the admiralty, to send you herewith an « extract of Monsieur Galisonniere's letter to his court, “ giving an account of the action, and to acquaint you, “ that his majesty is so much disfatisfied with your con“ duct, that he has ordered their lordships to recal your“ self and Mr. West, and to send out Sir Edward Hawki, “ and rear-admiral Saunders, to command the squadron.
“ I am extremely sorry to be obliged to inform you “ of such a disagreeable event, being with great regard,
“ Your most obedient humble servant,
Admiralty-Office, June 8, 1756.
To this he returned a letter which neither betrayed consciousness of guilt, dread of resentment, nor confusion of mind.
Gibraliar-Bay, July 4, 1756. « S I R,
By Sir Edward Hawke I have received their lordships orders, and your letter of the 8th of June, which “ I have immediately complied with, and have only
to express my surprize at being so ignominiouny dif“ missed from my employment, in the sight of the fleet « 1- had commanded, in sight of the garrison, and in
sight of Spain, at such a time, in such a manner, «« and after such conduct, as I hope shall shortly appear << to the whole world. It is not now for me to ex«
poftulate; I Aatter myself that Mr. Weft and I shall “ make evident the injury done to our characters, which « I know of nothing in the power of any being what
“ ever that can atone for ; so high an opinion I have of “ that, which was ever unsullied before, and which I “ hope to make appear has been most injuriously and
wrongfully attacked now, on the grounds of a false “ gasconade of an open enemy to our king and country, “ and which would have evidently appeared, had the
possible time been allowed for my own express's
arrival, in which there was nothing false, nothing “ vaunting, nothing shameful, nor any thing which could “ have prevented our receiving his Majesty's royal ap
probation, for having, with a much inferior force,
souglit, met, attacked, and beat the enemy: of this, “ it is needless for me to say more at present, than that “ I am sorry to find Mr. West, with the captains, « lieutenants, and officers of the ships we had our flags
on board of, are to be sufferers for what I alone, as “ commander in chief, am answerable: but it is so “ much of a piece with the whole unheard of treatment “ I have met with, that neither they, the fleet, or my
self, can be more astonished at that particular than ac u the whole.
I am, Sir,
“ Your very humble Servant,
“ J. B.”
To the Hon. Jn C-d, Esq;
Let us now review this whole transaction.
“ First, then, how came the French to form the idea " of taking St. Philip's, when the feet of England, known “ to be so superior, might have prevented the embarka, Gg
« tion; if not that, their descent on Minorca; if that « could not have been done, reinforced St. Philip's, « beat the French fleet, and taken the whole embarkation
prisoners. Is the duke of Richlieu so mad, that he u would have undertaken to command in an expedition " which had been preparing for five months, known to « all Europe, and open to be disconcerted in all the « above different manners? Would the directors of our « marine preparations, had they been in earnest to pre" serve St. Philip's, have sent out an inferior squadron? " delayed it at Spithead during so many months ? and
given the admiral absolute orders to expedite other « fervices
services, by not taking men from any ship fit for “ fervice, to man his own squadron, but to wait the
coming of tenders with pressed men from Liverpool ? # And before the arrival of more than two, he was
obliged to fail.
“ Had the planners of the expedition been truly 5« animated with the interest of their country, why, " when all England and all Europe was exclaiming against « their delay, did they continually give out, that there
was no Reet preparing at Toulon ? that the French had “ no failors nor military stores ? Was it not to give the « air of relieving St. Philip's only that the English fleet * set fail a few days before the French ?
« When the popular clamour now began to be very " loud, were not ten thousand stories invented to draw s'off the public attention from the planners of the expe“ dition, and to throw it on him who commanded, and « who they concluded would miscarry? Was it not -« owing to a design of ill success in them, that the fleet
* was sent out so small, and that he was assured the “ French armament could not possibly exceed seven « ships, and probably would not be more than five ? “ Was it not constantly asserted, that no feet was ever “ so well manned, equipped, and powerful, for the num“ ber, as this English fleet ? And that the French con“ sisted of old ships not fit for service, ill-manned, and “ worse provided; whereas one moment's thought would “ have told them, that a feet, however ill-furnished “ with men, when it left Toulon, must be abundantly
provided with hands from two hundred transports, « which, after landing the troops, spare two thirds of “ their crews : as to their ships being feeble or ill-fitted
out, the fallhood of that assertion is now known. To “ those spurious accounts of the different strength of the “ cwo fleets, was it not constantly added, that Mr. Byng « could blow the French out of the water? With what “ intent but to aggravate the miscarriage of the admi“ ral, by creating an opinion of his superior force, the “ more effectually to inflame resentment against him, “ when the ill news of his not prevailing should arrive?
“ The citadel of Mabon being attacked, it now be“ came the common conversation amongst the planners “ of the voyage, that the fortification could not hola « out a week, with a design to lessen the surprize of “ its being taken; or if it was defended any considerable « time, to give an idea of its being well provided ; « does it not therefore seem evident, from the fleet of « England being appointed so inferior, so long delayed “ after it was ready, sent fo late, without a soldier but " those who acted as marines, without an hospital-ship,
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fire-fhip, transports, or tenders ; that no battle was “ intended to be fought, nor St. Philip's relieved ? but
by this delay, to give time to Marshal Richlieu to take “ the fortification, return with his feet, and leave Mr. “ Byng to cruise ineffectually round Minorca. Indeed “ the brave Irishman disappointed the expectations of " those who had thus designed the whole transaction,
by defending the place becoming the duty of British “ subjects, and not according to finister intention.
By this contemptible cunning, a quality often con“ nected with ignorance in little minds, it seems con« trived, that if General Blakeney gave up the citadel « before Mr. Byng's arrival, then he was to be ex« claimed against, and charged with cowardice; and if “ He held out, as the ADMIRAL was insufficient, then " that imputation was to fall on the latter.
“ Was it not therefore owing to the daily disappoint« ment of hearing that the citadel had surrendered, that
no fleet was sent to reinforce Mr. Byng ; apprehend
ing that with a reinforcement he would raise the siege, " which seems so contrary to the intent of sending him? “ Was it not on this account that they did not stop him “ by express at Gibraltar, to wait for more ships of war? “ And at last, was not the reinforcement fent when it “ could not possibly arrive till after the admiral had « fucceeded or miscarried ?
“ At length comes a letter from Monsieur La Galij. fonniere, of the English feet having retired; when im“ mediately a report prevailed, that from a letter fent
by Admiral Byng from Gibraltar, it was foreseen that he would not fight: after some time a letter from