Зображення сторінки

• Deyship a he-goat.' From the character of Keppel we think the anecdote probable enough, and that Northcote may have received it from Sir Joshua Reynolds.

The negotiation for restitution of property ended by a decla. ration from the Dey, that the distribution of it having been made, he had not the power of restoring it; and that it was as much • as bis head was worth to restore the effects of the Prince Fre• derick. It would seem he was not unaware of the position he stood in, with regard to his subjects; for two years after this he was murdered in his own palace. Before this event, the commodore had succeeded in concluding a treaty, in which the Dey agrees to treat packets as ships of war; that merchant ships shall not be subject to ill treatment by the Algerine cruisers, on pain of the severest punishment, &c. After this, Keppel succeeded in effecting treaties with Tripoli and Tunis, and obtaining the release of captives; and, on his return to England, the Admiralty expressed satisfaction with his proceedings in these as well as on every other occasion, during his command in the Mediterranean. We here add a curious anecdote which is contained in the commodore's own journal :

Was informed by Mr Owen that yesterday, John Dyer (who entered at Mahon) deserted from the long boat, and fled for sanctuary to a Marabut, and turned Moor. By further information, found that he had five years ago turned Moor, and had a wife and family here. On which I sent to the Dey to demand he might be sent on board the Centurion, to receive the punishment he had incurred as a deserter, which was death. In answer to which, the Dey said, “It was contrary to his laws to give up people who turned Moors ; but as he bad turned backwards and forwards so often, he was neither fish nor flesh, and fit for neither of us ; therefore, as the punishment on our side was death, and that of a renegado flying from his country was death likewise, he, to split the difference, would take off his head, if I had no objection;" to which I assented.

In 1754, hostilities having broken out between the English and French authorities in North America, Keppel was ordered to hoist a broad pendant in the Centurion, and to proceed with the Norwich to take the command of all the ships on the North American station, and to co-operate with General Braddock. He left England on the 23d December; and Mr Keppel notices the circumstance of the unexpected death of his father, the Earl of Albemarle, at Paris, on the day of his sailing, having been suddenly seized with palsy and apoplexy, which carried him off in the course of a few hours. Our author here introduces Walpole's story of Lady Albemarle's dream, who being in London, and utterly unconscious of what had happened, said to Lord Bury, - Your father is dead. I dreamed last night that


• he was dead, and came to take leave of me,'-and she immediately swooned,

The elevation of Lord Bury to the peerage left the borough of Chichester vacant, to which the commander was shortly afterwards returned without opposition. We need not here dwell on the calamitous history of the European warfare among the conficting colonies of North America, in which the only concern that Keppel had, was the very useful and active assistance he afforded to General Braddock, in supplying both men and stores, during the short time he remained on that station_little more than six months; for in July 1755 he received a letter from the Admiralty, apprizing him, that in consequence of the French having fitted out a powerful fleet at Brest, Admiral Boscawen had been dispatched with eleven sail of the line to take the chief command on the American coast; that in consequence his wearing a broad pendant, with a captain under him, could no longer be continued, since several ships of the new squadron were commanded by captains senior to himself.

As soon, therefore, as Keppel had given the necessary orders for his little squadron to join Admiral Boscawen, he shifted his broad pendant on board the Seahorse, commanded by Captain Palliser. It was on board this ship,' observes his biographer, • that that friendship commenced between Keppel and the cap• tain of the Seahorse, which was destined to be marred in so • extraordinary a manner in after years. The commodore arrived in England on the 22d of August, and four days afterwards was directed to proceed to Chatham to commission the Swiftsure, of seventy guns. In January following he was removed to the Torbay, of seventy-four guns. . In this ship,' says our author,

of which he had the command for upwards of five years, he was • destined to have an extraordinary degree of good fortune.'

This share of 'good fortune' did not, however, immediately follow. The French publicly announced their intention not only to invade the Electorate of Hanover, but also Great Britain itself: the very act of making such a declaration was intended, obviously enough, to divert our government from their real design, which was Minorca, and it succeeded; for so great was the alarm of invasion at home, that, by proclamation, all horses and other beasts of burden were ordered to be driven at least twenty miles from the place where such attempt should be made. In the mean time, the ministers had received intelligence that a large armament was fitting out at Toulon, and that its destination was Minorca. After a lapse of several weeks, a fleet was ordered to be fitted out at Portsmouth, the command of which was given to the ill-fated Admiral Byng. Ten ships only were assigned to him, and these required upwards of seven hundred men to be complete. He was directed on no account to meddle with the Torbay, Essex, or Nassan, which he was told were required for most pressing service. A few days after, he was ordered to dispatch Captain Keppel to sea with the Torbay, Essex, Iris, Antelope, and Gibraltar, and to complete them out of the Nassau. This most pressing service,' which occupied eight days in the execution, and might have been equally well performed by four frigates, was nothing more than to watch the motions of four French frigates, which had been chased into Cherbourg on the 9th April : Keppel returned to Spithead three days after Byng had sailed.

He was again dispatched on the 16th with a small squadron, under Admiral Holborne, to cruize off Brest, which was afterwards increased to eighteen sail of the line, and the command given to Sir Edward Hawke. Keppel, however, had not the good fortune of being permanently attached to it; the Torbay, having sustained some damage, was obliged to return to port for repairs. When ready for sea he rejoined the fleet; but an epidemic breaking out in his ship, obliged him again to return to Portsmouth. On the 18th September he was ordered to take the Rochester and Harwicb under his command, and to cruize in the latitude of Cape Finisterre. After a month's unsuccessful cruize, he ordered one of his ships to Lisbon, the other to Cadiz. Two days after this he captured the Diligent, a French snow; and shortly after, fell in with and captured a large French storeship from Quebec with English prisoners. Scarcely had he taken possession of this prize when he recaptured an English snow that had fallen into the hands of a French privateer. Just then he discovered a French frigate, to which he gave chase, and kept up a brisk cannonade during the night. At daylight he came up with her, and, pouring in a whole broadside, compelled her to strike. She proved to be the Chariot Royale, of thirty-six guns. Several of her men were killed and wounded. On the 9th December the commodore returned with his prizes to England. ' A duty,' says his biographer, 'now devolved upon Keppel,

the painful nature of which was fully shown by his subsequent • conduct. Admiral Byng had failed in his attempt to relieve • Minorca, and had been superseded in his command. He was

now brought a prisoner to Portsmouth to take his trial; Keppel 6 was the junior member of that tribunal by whose unanimous verdict he was doomed to die.'-(Vol. i. pp. 200-30.)

The trial of Byng has been so much canvassed, not only at the time, but in subsequent publications, that nothing new is likely at this day to be elicited; but Mr Keppel could not with

propriety have omitted its introduction into his pages ; seeing the very prominent and painful part, and we may add, the laudable and generous part, which his namesake, the young captain, took to save the life of the unfortunate admiral.' Mr Keppel, however, says

• After a lapse of eighty-five years, public opinion bas hardly yet decided upon the case of Byng. Sir John Barrow, a writer who, from his office, is necessarily conversant with such subjects, speaks somewhat slightingly of the conduct of that Admiral; and Mr Croker, another high authority in naval matters, goes so far as to say that Byng deserved his fate. The writer of this memoir has arrived at a different conclusion. He thinks that, in Clerk's “ Naval Tactics," the failure of the action with Galiseonière is satisfactorily shown to be attributable to the “ Fighting Instructions" then in force, and in no degree to the commander in that disastrous engagement.'

In adverting to the · Life of Anson,' it appears to us that there is a mistake in this passage. We find nothing in Sir John Barrow's work that can be construed as speaking slightingly of Byng. On the contrary, he says, It showed no want of nerve in Byng . by detaching one of his ships from the line, because he had one

more in number than the enemy; for though the old Fighting Instructions very cavalierly enjoin this, yet it was always on the * understanding that the combatants should be pretty nearly ship * for ship, or on an equality of strength, which was not the case * here; and be continues, it is clear that Byng, amidst that "disaster which paralyzed his own ship and the efforts of three

others for a time, had no other means of making his communi"estions than by calling in and dispatching a frigate with ver• bral orders, which, with the impediment of the flag-ship con

tinuing to go down, caused the delay, and thereby prevented him from doing his utmost.'* If Mr Croker has said, that Byng • deserved his fate,' Sir John gives a very different opinion. Thus,' he says, died a martyr to public clamour, ex. cited by a timid ministry, and to one false step taken by the party who professed to be, and actually meant to be, friendly to

him whose death can be considered in no other light than as a “ judicial murder. It certainly was not, as some have called it, a political murder. His death was in no wise owing to party feeling in either House of Parliament, or in the Judges, or in the King. It rested solely on the Board of Admiralty, who, unfortunately, instead of carrying up the recommendation of the courtmartial for mercy to the King, as is the usual course, and always

* Barrow's Life of Anson.

succeeds, they requested his Majesty would take the opinion of the twelve Judges as to the legality of the sentence, which was never called in question. Their answer was in the affirmative; and this prevented any further appeal to the Throne from the Admiralty, and poor Byng's fate was from that moment sealed.

But we must briefly advert to the generous and humane part which Keppel took in the course of this unfortunate business. Ever since the signing of the sentence he felt uneasy in his conscience, and with two or three others expressed themselves exceedingly desirous to be absolved from their oaths. This was mentioned in the House of Commons, and long debates ensued as to the necessity of a dispensing bill. Some were of opinion that the members could speak out without a bill. Keppel professed his doubts whether he could do so without a dispensing act. Pitt said he honoured Mr Keppel for his doubt. À council was held on Mr Keppel's demand, and the sentence was respited for a fortnight by his Majesty, who had been informed that a member had declared in his place he had something of weight to say. Fox, though friendly to Keppel, affected surprise that the King should have been informed of what had passed in parliament, and asked for precedents. Pitt replied with great indignation,

that the time had been too pressing to consult precedents; he had not thought that the life of a man was to be trifled with while clerks were searching records.'

Fox then asked Keppel, which of his associates had empowered him to make the demand? He named Holmes, Norris, Geary, and Moore. The first and third disavowed having sanctioned the use of their names; Norris and Moore avowed their feelings to be in unison with those of Keppel, and that he was authorized to make use of their names ; and it seemed to be the general opinion that the other two had done the same. Walpole says Sir R. Lyttelton told him, that he had represented to Geary the injustice and dishonourableness of retracting what he had authorized Keppel to say, when his reply was—. It will hurt my pre. ferment to tell. Keppel said, he understood, and did believe, all four had commissioned him to move the House in their joint names. Fox assured Keppel that his character was not affected by what Holmes and Geary had said, An angry debate followed, in which many absurd and indecent reflections were made on the authors of the proposed dispensing bill; in the course of it Pitt said emphatically – May I fall when I refuse pity • to such a suit as Mr Keppel's, justifying a man who lies in

captivity and the shadow of death. I thank God I feel something more than popularity-I feel justice! The bill passed the Commons by 153 to 22. It went to the Lords, who rejected it

make use of other two had

had represented to had autho

« НазадПродовжити »