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ready explained. On the other point we are not much disposed to differ from his lordship, considering the enemy's force then afloat, and supposing a suspension of farther preparations on his part. We agree with him that, between the period of the victory of Tra- , falgar and that of his lordship's speech, a considerable reduction might have been made; but we totally dissent from any such reductiou now. Our navy, it is true, rides triumphant on the ocean without a rival, because the oply one with which it has, of late years, bad to contend, does not now venture to leave its ports—at least, with any intention to meet us. But, are we to consider this conduct of the enemy as altogether the effect of fear, or of a premeditated system? Is he inactive in his naval preparations ? Does he shew, either in words or measures, that he has tinally yielded the point of naval superiority? Are the maritime peace, to which he has so often pledged himself, and the maritime rights about which so much clamour has been raised, meant only as 'windy words' to bully us out of those rights obtained by the blood and treasure of our ancestors, and sanctioned by time and treaties ? Or, do not the active preparations in all his ports, rather indicate a deterinined perseverance in some settled plan which, he fondly hopes, will tend to our destruction? and ought they not to convince us that the great battle is yet to be fought which must firmly establish our naval superiority? We have scotched the snake, not killed it.' Before then we talk of reducing our navy, let us examine the present state of that of the enemy. If our researches are at all correct, it will be found pretty nearly as under:Line. Frigates.
Line. Frigates. In the Texel ready 9 4 Fitting and Building 1 4 In the Scheldt 19
9 1 Other Dutch ports 1 6
2 2 Cherburgh .
2 Rochfort 5
1 Naples 2
1 Venice 3
4 In the minor ports 0
0 -14 of France
Co Co O O O OOO
Making a total of 65 51 ready for sea, and 32 36 in such a state of forwardness that, in the course of the next year, we shall have opposed to us, under French colours, ninetyseven sail of the line and eighty-seven frigates. If to these we add D4
twenty-six sail of the line and twelve frigates belonging to Russia, (exclusive of ten sail of the line and as many frigates in the Black Sea,) twelve sail of the line and six frigates to Sweden, and four sail of the line and one frigate to Denmark, most of which are in a state of service, and all of which were, but a very few months ago, in declared hostility to us, we shall have a force to watch at least, if not to contend with, of one hundred and thirty-nine sail of the line and one hundred and six frigates. The number of ships in commission, in the British navy, fluctuates from one hundred to one hundred and five sail of the line, and from one hundred and forty to one hundred and fifty frigates, with a proportion of smaller vessels and stationary ships. If the enemy would leave his ports and contest with us, as formerly, the point of naval superiority, then, indeed, we might spare a few ships of the line, and reckon upon recruiting our own force, as formerly, from his. But the system of naval warfare has undergone a total change since the unparalleled victory of Trafalgar. If the enemy now steals out by chance, or moves his ships froin one port to another, the achievement is hailed as a triumph. The present system of the French government is not to fight, but to keep in port; ours to blockade him there; and, to do this effectually, the blockading squadron must necessarily exceed that of the enemy blockaded. But with this excess, it is not always possible to contine him to his ports. What then, it may be asked, is the advantage of our blockading system? We shall briefly state what, to us at least, appear to be the inconveniences which attend it, and the good effects by which those inconveniences are counterbalanced. It is the more important to settle these points, because on them hinges the answer to the following question-Can we, consistently with national policy and national security, dismantle a part of our present force (not to preserve it, for that we have shewn to be out of the question, but) to effect an annual saving of something short of one million !
In the first place, then, instead of our ships taking a cruize, as in former wars, to look for the eneny at sea, and then return to Spithead to retit and refresh, and to remain in port for the winter months, they now keep the sea in all kinds of weather, and in all seasons of the year, off the enemy's ports. This, it is obvious, cannot be done without an extraordinary wear and tear in the ships, a great expense in sending out provisions and water for their supply, and a great anxiety, on the part of the officer commanding the blockading squadron, lest the enemy should 'effect his escape. It is well known that the constant watching for an opportunity of getting at the enemy, and frustrating bis plans, has so preyed on the spirits and constitution, as to wear out many of our best officers. The patience, perseverance, and good will with which both
officers and men have carried on this most disagreeable and harassing service, are above all praise, and the more so, when it is considered that the success of these extraordinary exertions (exertions, we are persuaded, peculiar to the hardy and intrepid sons of Great Britain) is always uncertain; for it may safely be asserted that, with the exception of five or six of the summer months, there is scarcely another month in the year in which the enemy may not effect his escape unperceived by the blockading squadron. Should his course be tracked, the reduced state of the provisions and water of our squadron may not always allow it to follow him. To obviate this evil effectually, the blockading ships must be frequently relieved ; to do which, allowing for casualties, would require, on the home stations, at least one ship in six, and in the Mediterranean, one in four above the enemy. At this low calculation, we ought not to have less, for watching the ninety-seven sail of the line and eighty-seven frigates, which the enemy will have fit for sea in the course of next year, than one hundred and sixteen sail of the line and one hundred and four frigates; without any provision for the protection of our numerous colonies in the East and West Indies, the coast of Africa and America, the fisheries of Greenland and Newfoundland, and our exclusive commerce to every part of the world; without any security for the Baltic, which alone requires six or eight ships of the line, to protect our 3000 merchant vessels trading there against Denmark and Prussia. It is pretty clear, then, that if the blockading system is to be persevered in, instead of reducing, we shall very shortly be under the necessity of augmenting, our naval force.
As a set-off against the disadvantages of a constant blockade, we may reckon the complete security which the trade of this kingdom has experienced in consequence of it. The insurance is now little more than that of a common sea risk. Single ships run with licences, and fleets of one hundred sail and more, proceed in safety under the convoy of a frigate or a sloop of war. So unusual is it now for an enemy's ship to venture out, that, when it happens, the mercantile world is thrown into as much alarm as the enemy, bimself: notices are posted up at Lloyd's; the Admiralty is beset with clamorous representations; and the daily papers are filled with lamentations and conjectures as absurd, as their expectations are generally unreasonable.
But, great as the benefits are which commerce derives from our naval pre-eminence, they are trifling indeed when compared with the perfect security and tranquillity which every part of the united kingdom has enjoyed, while the nations of the continent have, each. in its turn, been deluged with blood. Insufferably perverse or incurably stupid must that man be, who will not acknowledge, or
who does not feel, that, to our undisputed command of the ocean alone, it is owing that the Peninsula is not now groaning under the iron sway of Buonaparte, and that the ports of Cadiz and Lisbon are not, at this moment, thronged with fleets for carrying the war, with all its train of horrors, into the heart of Ireland. To the free and secure passage over the ocean, must be ascribed the facility and dispatch with which the army of our illustrious commander in Spain has been reinforced, and the opportunities which have been afforded, under his auspices, of establishing our military character on as firm a basis as that of our naval reputation. It was the British navy which wrested from the tyrant's grasp, and conveyed to their injured and insulted country, the gallant Romana and his brave followers; and it was the same navy which snatched from impending destruction, or captivity, worse than destruction, our own gallant army, which had so gloriously retrieved its character under the walls of Corumna, after a most harassing and disastrous retreat.
If any part of the naval force could be spared from its numerous and important services, it could, in our opinion, only be employed to advantage, in the conveyance of troops, in lieu of that vast mass of transport tonnage kept constantly on hire, which, we believe, at this moment is not much short of 150,000 tons, amounting to an annual expense of two millions sterling. Troop ships fitted up from the ordinary of the navy, with reduced masts and yards, are so much superior to transports, in point of accommodation-safety -dispatch-facility of landing and embarking troops and stores so capable of defending theinselves against any thing short of a lineof-battle ship,-as to admit of no comparison. They may perhaps be more expensive in the outfit; but, when it is considered that an equal quantity of tonnage would be spared from the regular navy in frigates and fourth rates now employed as convoys for transports, we are quite sure that the two millions might most advantageously be transferred from the transport service to the regular navy. And if it be true, as Lord Melville stated,* that since the peace of Amiens 120 transports have been captured or lost, that 1700 regular troops have been taken, and 1900 perished in those vessels, the difference of expense is sýrely of little moment.
• I reject,' says his lordship, all such calculations; for I hold the life of a British sailor or soldier to be inestimable. Instead then of discharging 20,000 seamen, a number that could not be raised again with the utmost exertion in less than five or six years, it would be infinitely more advantageous, as well as more economical, to employ them
• Printed speech.
in troop ships, where they would always be at hand, when wanted, to man the effective navy. We rejoice to find that the present Lord Melville is following up his father's ideas on this subject, so important to the interests both of the navy and army.
There is another advantage, of no trilling moment, arising out of the blockading system; it is the complete prevention of the officers and seamen of the evemy from gaining that experience in naval tactics which is indispensable for the management of ships of war in time of action. The seamen of France are in fact no longer in existence, but in our prisons. Their fleets are manned with foreigners of every description-Dutch, Danes, Hamburghers, Genoese and other Italians, mostly forced into the service; but the French part of their crews are a few superannuated seamen em
loyed to teach the younger ones, fishermen reluctantly compelled to serve, and marine couscripts without any knowledge of seamanship. But though ships of war thus manned may not be competent to fight ours, they are quite sufficient to transport armies to own shores, or to those of our colonies.
From the glance which we have taken of the increasing naval force of the enemy, as well as from the various employment of our own, it may not appear quite so evident that we should begin to economize with the naval departinent; that is, with the professional or military part of it, in which, we will venture to assert, fewer abuses, and a better system of economy exist, than in any other great public body whatever. To the numerous and highly meritorious class of officers in his Majesty's naval service, by whose exertions the discipline and economy of the feet have reached the highest point of perfection, every attention and respect are due; and though we are persuaded that they would be the last to complain of any hardship in reducing the fleet; vet we think it would scarcely be fair to say, 'You have braved every danger, you have born with patience, fatigue, anxiety, and privation--you have driven the ships of every enemy from every sea, and now that there is nothing for you to fight, you may retire on your half-pay.' We well remember that the imprudent haste of paying off ships, immediately on their return from sea after the truce of Amiens, to effect a paltry saving of a few days' pay, was considered, both by officers and men, as a most ungracious act of parsimony. This is not the species of economy which will enable us to prolong the contest. Fatal indeed would be the delusion which should tempt our governors to reduce the navy, and transfer our reliance for protection, from its wooden walls, to martello towers, subterranean shafts and military canals.
Impressed as we are with the necessity of economizing our means and husbanding our resources, we are yet convinced, that the re