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imagined. They are the link between the officers and the men, which, if not complete, the chain of discipline would be broken. But we are not now to expatiate upon the value of midshipmen. The case between the midshipmen and the country is simply this. They entered the service at a time when their services were important, with the hopes of promotion and provision for life. The service is one of activity, hardship, and danger, and of such a peculiar nature as to unfit them for any other profession. They have spent the flower of their existence in the service, and now that the country no longer requires them, is it fair or just to throw them on the wide world without indemnification ? Such was the case of the midshipmen, and the country had to choose between an increase of her burthens, or be guilty of injustice. It is now twenty years since the close of the war, and we now inquire, what has been done ? We reply, that much has been done, more than the exigencies of the nation could well afford, much more than it can continue to sustain. At the close of the war, in the year 1815, six hundred and sixty lieutenants received their commissions, and since that year up to the present,
the whole number of lieutenants made amount to upwards of 1800. This cannot be considered as unhandsome on the part of the nation. The fact is, that since the peace, the promotion in all classes has been very considerable, as we shall prove by the navy
1,838 But large as this promotion appears to be, it must be recollected that we have had twenty years of peace, and during that time one half of those on the navy list at the close of the war, now sleep with their fathers. The country, therefore, has not had an increase of burthen, at least we believe not, further than what it suffers from a decrease of means. Let it be remembered, that out of the six or seven thousand midshipmen who were serving at the close of the war, only 1,838, or about one-third, have obtained their rank-indeed, not so large a portion, as a great many on that list of 1,800 did not enter the service until after the peace. What then have become of all the rest ? After serving fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years in a subordinate rank, they have been refused employment, or have retired disgusted and heart-sick from hope deferred. Those who have had friends to assist them, have turned to other sources of livelihood, and we are grieved to add, that too many who, by their valour and their zeal, have contributed to the glory of their country, have lain down and died of a broken heart. Yet to have done justice to all was impossible. How heavy the responsibility then of those in power, who may have turned a deaf ear to merit, and for political and party interests may have bestowed the meed upon the undeserving ! We have entered more fully upon the hard case of the junior officers, as we shall eventually prove that the effective state of the service will wholly depend upon the arrangements which may be made relative to this class. That there is much discontent and grumbling among the higher grades is certain; but the fact is, that every one is apt to value himself too highly. We grant that in some cases it is well founded, but in most without a cause. Length of servitude is a claim invariably brought forward ; but, at the risk of offending many, we are much inclined to dispute this claim. Long service during the peace certainly is no claim to promotion, and long service during war without promotion, (we refer to the higher grades in the service,) although there is occasionally grounds of complaint, in most cases proves either that the party was not deserving, or that there were others who were more deserving than he was. That the patronage of the Admiralty has been, in the hands of our respective governments, a strong engine of political power, and that hundreds have been made from favour and affection, is not to be denied, but we have carefully watched the naval service for many years, and we will say, although many have been made without claims, that seldom to our knowledge has a claim for gallantry and good conduct been brought forward without having been acknowledged. We will conclude these remarks by pointing out that the half-pay of the navy must be considered in the light of a pension to those who are no longer able to serve, and as a retaining fee to those who are. No officer can draw his half-pay without taking an oath that he has no other office under government, and is not in the service of any foreign power; and no officer can leave the country without permission, and renewing that leave as soon as it expires.
We have stated the case fairly between the English navy and the country up to the present time, and we have now to consider what measures can be taken so as to relieve the nation, and at the same time to ensure a sufficient number of officers, should their services be required in a war, and that without injustice to any party. But before we enter into this subject, it is necessary that we should point out
1st. That our navy is not only too extensive and too burthensome, but that it is even larger than we require in case of war.
2nd. That from circumstances, and under the present arrangements, it is ineffective in parts, and that extensive as is the list, we shall not be able, in case of war, to find the officers we require in every department.
Having established these facts, we will then proceed to point out by what means
expense may be reduced, and the service be rendered effective, without injustice to any party.
Let us first examine what is the actual force of our navy which can be brought forward in case of a war. In so doing we shall include all ships building. At a rough estimate, but quite sufficient for our purpose, our naval force consists of one hundred sail of the line, one hundred frigates, and one hundred and thirty-five sloops and brigs. We have taken them according to their ratings and classes, and find that to man them all with the officers allowed, we should require
1,402 Our Navy List holds on it as effective 766
3,084 not including nine retired post captains, and one hundred and eightytwo retired commanders. If it be inquired whether we consider the
and retired do.
and retired do.
naval force in shipping which we have mentioned above as sufficient in time of war, we reply, that it is more than sufficient to meet most exigencies, and at all events quite sufficient to commence a general war. During the latter part of our conflict, in which America was also opposed to us, our force was too much frittered away in smaller craft, and not sufficiently concentrated. We had more vessels, but not so effective a fleet upon the whole.
It may be as well to observe here, that to complete the same force with the mates and midshipmen allowed to be rated on the books of the different vessels, we should require of the junior officers 3,152. This does not include the volunteers of the first class, who would amount to 1,406, making a total of 4,558 junior officers necessary for their equipment. We shall refer to this hereafter.
We have not at present a list of the vessels in the French navy, but, as near as we can recollect, it amounts to more than half of our own in the number of the vessels. We have, however, a list of their officers for 1835, which we will put in juxtaposition with our own.
Adinirals, and retired. Post Captains, Commanders, Lieutenants. English
435 We think that we have fully established that our navy list is much larger than is required even in time of war, or than the country can afford to maintain, and we shall now proceed to our second assertion, that, from circumstances, it is not effective in all its departments.
We feel that we enter upon rather a delicate subject-one which may procure us the ill-will of men whom we admire and we respectmen of whom the nation have justly reason to be proud, and yet, after all, we are only about to tax with a misfortune, and not a fault; and further, we are not going to be so invidious, as to select any one individual, but to make general remarks. What we are about to assert is an unpleasant truth, and we must therefore trust to the better feelings of the parties resuming their ascendancy after a few hours' reflection, and a few twinges of the gout and rheumatism, at the time that they read this portion of our article. They are welcome to throw down the Magazine, and vent their anger in the words of the old commodore
“ What no more to go afloat, blood and fury, they lie,
I'm a sailor, and only --if they were only three score, we should have been premature in our remarks, but the fact is, that many of them are much nearer four score, and therefore we shall assert, by another portion of the song
“ That the bullets and the gout, have so knock'd their hulls about,
That they'll never more be fit for sea.' Of course, we refer to our present list of admirals. We are aware of the exceptions, but they only prove the truth of the general assertion. The fact speaks for itself. During the rapid promotions to the list of admirals, it was seldom that an officer obtained the rank until he was past fifty. If he did, he was considered as a young admiral. Now to fifty add twenty years for the peace, and the sum will be seventy, We believe that we know the age of every admiral in the service, and have the paper in our possession. We will not print it, as some of them flirt a little yet, but we find by this list that the average age of the admirals is seventy-six. We do not mean to say but that many are now just as competent, as full of zeal and energy, as ever they were ; but this we do say, that however fresh they may be in their intellects, their constitutions will not, after a twenty years' residence on shore, bear up against the fatigue and constant excitement of a sea life, and that a couple of winters in command of the channel fleet would lay the majority of the list under hatches; and we assert it too with the conviction that death has more trouble in killing an old admiral than any other class of people. Still they must haut down their flags to him at last.
We have been looking over the list, and decide that Sir Edward Brace is the freshest man among them. Hardy is moored at Greenwich, much too soon for his country's good; and as for Sir George Cockburn, we require him as First Lord of the Admiralty, a situation he should have held some time ago. But we forget that we were not to mention names; we were about to select those who are still serviceable, but by so doing we should imply that those not mentioned were not so, and therefore we must adhere to our general assertion.
We cannot help here remarking, that it is a strange anomaly putting a civilian at the head of the Admiralty ; and it is most indefensible, for the reason, although not avowed, is as discreditable as it is notorious. The asserted reason is the very contrary from the true. They say that an admiral who has been so long in the service, must have a great many followers, and that he will show partiality in promoting them. Now, that an admiral of eminence will have followers is certain, and that he will prefer advancing those with whose merits he is well acquainted, is not surprising ; but surely, if an officer has by his courage and conduct raised himself so conspicuously as to be selected to fill so high a station, it is but fair to infer, that those whom he has taken under, and who have proved themselves deserving of, his protection, must be officers of merit, and are worthy of being selected. But the above reason is not the true one; it is, on the contrary, as follows, and was introduced during the height of old Tory misrule. Government discovered, that with a naval First Lord, the patronage of the Admiralty was not so wholly at their disposal as they could wish. They found that a naval lord not only could fully appreciate, but would consider, the claims of the officers, and preferred rewarding services done at sea, to services done to government; and this did not suit them. As for talking about the First Lord having naval lords as advisers, that is nonsense. Advisers have no power, and, moreover, no responsibility. If the nation is really anxious for economy during peace, and energy during war, and justice being done to merit, let them have a naval First Lord of the Admiralty, and certainly, of all the officers now on our list, there is no man so competent, and in every respect so well qualified, as Sir George Cockburn. At the same time that we give our free opinion on this point, let it not be supposed that we would infer that there have not been lay first
lords who have wished to be impartial, especially latterly; but they have laboured under a great disadvantage in not understanding the routine of the service, or not being able to appreciate the various claims ; they have been obliged to trust to the advice and opinion of others, who are without responsibility, until they have been seated a sufficient time at the board to understand the routine of the service, and to disembarrass themselves from leading-strings.
With every respect for the admirals at present on our list, we must invalid the majority for harbour duty, and assert, that if a war should in a few years hence break out, we should not be able to select a sufficient number, as nearly all, from age and infirmity, would be prevented from accepting a command. Now there is no portion of our navy which it is so imperative should be effective, as the list of admirals. The responsibility of an admiral is immense, for on the fleet which he commands may, as it more than once did, during the last war, depend the safety of the nation. And be it observed, that allowing most of the present admirals on the list to have passed away, and their vacancies to have been filled up by the senior captains, we should not be better off. There is little or no difference between their respective ages, for although we have so many young men on the post list, yet the average age is sixty, owing to the advanced age of those who are on the top of it. Here then the service is, and if some remedy be not applied, will, when required, prove to be, vitally ineffective.
That the lists of post-captains, commanders, and lieutenants, are effective, there can be no doubt. We shall therefore pass them over, and proceed to those who are not on the list—the midshipmen, whose cause we must plead, not only on account of the injustice with which they have been treated, but also because we are convinced that it is one of the utmost importance, if we wish to retain an effective navy. It is universally acknowledged, that there is no service in existence which has done its duty better, or been more valuable to a state, than the navy of Great Britain. Yet, strange to say, it is the only service which we know of, in which young men are induced to enter, without any surety of future benefit or indemnity for their exertions. The case of the thousands of midshipmen who were cast adrift at the close of last war, is a proof of our assertion, and we exclaim against it as an act of cruelty and injustice. That the Admiralty have felt the truth of what we here state, and at the same time have been obliged to extend to them nothing but pity, in consequence of their hands being tied up by the necessities of the state, is most certain ; and although not warranted in redressing former grievances, they have made such regulations as in future to prevent the admission of so many into the service. This has been judicious and considerate, as it will give a better chance of promotion to those who now enter, (what that better chance may be, we will show directly,) but at the same time, in this view of the question, we are on the horns of a dilemma ; either we shall at the commencement of a war not have sufficient junior officers for our fleets, or we must admit more into the service, without, indeed, we again resort, as was the case at the opening of last war, to the plan of putting the men before the mast on the quarter-deck as officers; the very worst plan that can be resorted to, and the bad