« VorigeDoorgaan »
The French commander-in-chief, however, declared that, although, during the action, the English had the advantage, yet, that, after the firing ceased, he had decidedly out-manoeuvred his opponent.
Soon after the engagement, Keppel returned to port, for the purpose of refitting; but put to sea again, on the 23rd of August, and continued afloat until the 28th of October. In the interim, various anonymous paragraphs, reflecting upon the admiral's conduct, in the action of the 27th of July, had appeared in the public prints; and, at length, Sir Hugh Palliser, the second in command, having published some obnoxious remarks, relative to the conduct of Keppel, the latter thought proper to declare, in parliament, that as he was called upon to speak out, he would openly declare, that the signal for coming into the Victory's wake, had been flying from three o'clock in the afternoon until eight in the morning, unobeyed, although he did not intend to accuse Sir Hugh Palliser of disobedience, or want of courage. The latter retorted, by charging Keppel with having neglected to arrange his ships in order of battle, so that a general engagement could not have been brought on; with having neglected to tack and double upon the French, with the van and centre divisions of the English fleet, after these had passed the enemy's rear; thus leaving the vice-admiral of the blue exposed to be cut off,-with having given an opportunity to the enemy to rally unmolested, and stand after the British fleet; thus giving the French admiral a pretence to claim the victory; and, lastly, with having, on the morning of the 28th of July, instead of pursuing the enemy, led the British fleet in an opposite direction.
The charge brought against Keppel appears to have been very unpopular; and a memorial was presented to the king, signed by Lord Hawke, and eleven other officers of distinction in the naval service, praying his majesty not to countenance it. Orders, were, however, issued for the investigation of Keppel's conduct by a court-martial, which assembled in the Britannia, on
the 7th of January, 1799, and continued until the 11th of the following month, when the charge was solemnly declared to be ill-founded, and the behaviour of Keppel to have been such as became a judicious, brave, and experienced officer. His acquittal was followed by the most enthusiastic rejoicings, on the part of the public; and both houses of parliament, as well as the city of London, and the West India merchants, honoured him with a vote of thanks for his gallantry and skill.
In March, 1782, on the formation of a new administration, he was appointed first lord of the admiralty, and sworn a privy-counsellor. In the following month, he was made admiral of the white, and created Viscount Keppel, of Elvedon, in the county of Suffolk. He quitted the admiralty board, on the 28th of January, 1783, on account of a coalition between his party, and some of the members of the former government: on the 8th of April he returned to his post, but resigned it again, on the 30th of December in the same year. His death took place on the 2nd of October, 1786. For many years prior to his being made a peer, he had been a member of the house of commons; first for Colchester, secondly for Windsor, and finally for Surrey.
Notwithstanding his general success, Admiral Keppel appears to have possessed no more talent, as a commander, than some of his less fortunate cotemporaries. He was, however, for a long period, the idol of the people; and, it is said, no officer in the service ever possessed, to a greater extent, the affection of the navy. The celebrated Admiral Sir Charles Saunders left him an annuity of £1,200, besides a considerable sum in ready money; and the great Hawke, with many other distinguished officers, as we have already stated, interfered, but unsuccessfully, to prevent his being brought to a court-martial. After he had become a member of the administration, he lost much of his popularity, on account of his incapacity to fulfil the multitude of promises, into which his good-nature had unfortunately betrayed him.
RICHARD, EARL HOWE.
RICHARD, third son of the second Viscount Howe, was born on the 19th of March, 1722; and received his education at Westminster School, and Eton. At the age of fourteen, he became a midshipman, on board the Severn, one of the squadron commanded by Lord Anson. He was soon after made a lieutenant; and, at the age of eighteen, cut out of the harbour of St. Eustatia, an English merchantman, which had been captured by a French privateer. In 1743, he served on board the Burford, in the unsuccessful attack made by Commodore Knowles, on the town of La Guira. He was next employed, under Admiral Vernon, in the Downs; and towards the conclusion of 1745, became commander of the Baltimore, sloop-ofwar; in which, shortly after, he fell in with two French ships, off the coast of Scotland, and, after a spirited engagement, compelled them to sheer off. During the action, he received a wound in the head from a musketball, and was carried from the deck apparently lifeless, but soon recovered sufficiently to resume his post. For his gallantry on this occasion, he was made a post-captain, and obtained the command of the Triton frigate, in which he sailed to Lisbon; where he exchanged with Captain Holbourne, into the Rippon. He subsequently served on the coast of Guinea and on the Jamaica station, where he was appointed captain of the Cornwall, Admiral Knowles's flag-ship; in which, on the termination of hostilities, in 1748, he returned to England; and, during the three following years, assiduously devoted himself to the study of mathematics, and naval tactics.
In 1751, he was appointed, successively, to the Glory, of forty-four guns, and the Mary yacht; from which he was removed, in the following year, to the Dolphin frigate, and employed on rather difficult service, partly of a diplomatic nature, which he executed with great judgment, on the Gibraltar station; where, as it is stated, he was one
night hastily awakened, by the lieutenant of the watch, who informed him, with great agitation, that the ship had taken fire, near the magazine. "If that be the case," replied Howe, rising leisurely to put on his clothes, "we shall soon know it." The lieutenant hurried back to the scene of danger; but speedily returned, exclaiming, "You need not be afraid, sir; the fire is extinguished!" "Afraid!" exclaimed Howe; "what do you mean by that?—I never was afraid in my life! Pray, sir, how does a man feel when he is afraid?I need not ask you how he looks."
In 1754, he returned to England; and, in the following year, was appointed to the Dunkirk, one of the ships put in commission, and sent out to America, under Admiral Boscawen, in consequence of an expected rupture with France. While proceeding to its destination, the British squadron fell in with a few ships that had been separated from the French fleet, commanded by Bois de la Mothe. Being ordered to give chase, Howe, in the Dunkirk, soon overtook the Alcide, and "civilly requested that her commander would bring her down to the admiral;" which, however, the French captain declined to do; and asked Howe, if it were peace or war. As no positive answer could be given to this question, he repeated his refusal to comply with the request of Howe; who, consequently, after recommending several military officers and their wives, who were standing on the deck of the Alcide, to go below, prepared for an engagement. The French, as it appears, commenced the action; which, however, some others of the British squadron having come up, terminated in their surrender.
In 1757, he was elected member of parliament for Dartmouth. In 1758, he served, in the Magninime, under Lord Hawke, and highly distinguished himself in the attacks made on the Isle of Aix, St. Malo, and Cherbourg. During the last-mentioned year, he succeeded to the family titles and estates, on the
death of his brother, Viscount Howe, in America. He subsequently displayed extraordinary courage and coolness, at the unfortunate affair of St. Cas; where, principally through his exertions, made at the imminent peril of his life, great numbers of the wounded were preserved from falling into the enemy's hands. In the memorable action between the British squadron and that commanded by De Conflans, his ship engaged, and conquered, the Hero, of seventy-four guns; which, however, on account of the boisterous state of the weather, went ashore after she had struck, and was lost. About this period, Howe, as it is related, on being told, one night, during a heavy gale, that the anchors by which his ship had been riding, had come home, coolly replied, "They are very much in the right of it; for I don't know who would stay out, such a night as this."
In 1760, he was appointed colonel of the Chatham division of marines; and, with his own, and two other ships, took a small fort, on the French coast. 1761, he commanded, alternately with Sir Thomas Stanhope, the squadron stationed in the Basque Roads; in 1762, he removed to the Princess Amelia, of eighty guns; and on the 23rd of April, 1763, obtained a seat at the board of admiralty; which he resigned in 1765, when he became treasurer of the navy. On the 18th of October, 1770, he was made rear-admiral of the blue, and appointed to the chief command in the Mediterranean. In 1776, he proceeded, in the Eagle, of sixtyfour guns, at the head of a squadron, to the coast of America; where, however, through the insufficiency of his force, and the nature of the service, he performed no very brilliant exploit. On his return to England, in 1782, up to which period he appears to have continued to be the representative of Dartmouth, he was promoted to the rank of admiral of the blue, and created a viscount of Great Britain. On the 11th of September, in the same year, he was despatched, with thirty-four ships, for the relief of Gibraltar; which he effected, notwithstanding the superiority of the enemy's force. On his return to England, he received the thanks of both houses of parliament for his services; and, early in 1783, obtained
the first commissionership of the admiralty; which, however, he held only until the 8th of April; but resumed it on the 30th of December, in the same year. On the 24th of September, 1787, he was made admiral of the white; on the 16th of July, 1788, he resigned the first commissionership of the admiralty; and, on the 19th of the following month, he was raised to an earldom.
In 1790, he hoisted his flag on board the Queen Charlotte, and took the command of a powerful force intended to act against the Spaniards; but the differences, which it was expected would have led to a war, being speedily adjusted, his fleet was dismantled. On the commencement of hostilities with France, in 1793, he assumed the chief command in the channel; and, towards the close of the year, had a skirmish of little importance with the enemy. On the 2nd of May, 1794, he sailed from St. Helens, and discovered the French, far to windward, on the morning of the 28th. During that and the following day, partial actions took place; and, on the 1st of June, having obtained the weather-gauge, Lord Howe brought the enemy to a general engagement. In less than an hour, according to his lordship's despatches, "the French admiral, engaged by the Queen Charlotte, crowded off, and was followed by most of the ships of his van in condition to carry sail after him, leaving ten or twelve of his crippled or totally dismasted ships, exclusive of one sunk in the engagement. The Queen Charlotte had then lost her fore-top-mast, and the maintop-mast fell over the side very soon after. The greater number of the other ships of the British fleet were, at this time, so much disabled, or widely separated, and under such circumstances with respect to those ships of the enemy in a state for action, and with which the firing was still continued, that two or three of their dismantled ships, attempting to get away, under a sprit-sail singly, or smaller sail raised on the stump of the fore-mast, could not be detained. Seven remained in our possession; one of which, however, sunk before adequate assistance could be given to her crew; but many were saved." On the 13th of June, Lord Howe returned to Portsmouth; and,
on the 26th, the king and queen dined on board his flag-ship; on which occasion, his majesty presented him with a valuable sword, and a gold chain, to which a medal, struck for the purpose, was appended. In the following year, he was made a knight of the Garter, a general of marines, and admiral of the fleet; the command of which he resigned in the month of April, 1797. Shortly afterwards, although suffering from the effects of a recent attack of gout, he accepted plenary powers to treat with the mutineers in the fleet, at Spithead; whom he speedily prevailed on to return to their duty. This was the last public act of his life, which terminated on the 5th of August, 1799; and a monument was, some time after, erected to his memory, in St. Paul's Cathedral, at the national expense. He had married, in March, 1758, the daughter of Chiverton Hartopp, Esq., by whom he left one child.
In his naval capacity, Lord Howe excelled in prudence many of those to whom he was equal in courage as well as skill. Brenton has said of him, in remarking upon the battle of the 1st of June, 1794, that, "if all had been properly managed, he might have completed the greatest naval campaign recorded in history:" but his determination, after having achieved so splendid a victory, "to let well alone," will, doubtless, be considered, by many, as having been the best to which he could have come. It is clear, that he was by no means deficient in love of enterprise, and promptitude of decision. Hawke said of him-" He never asked me how he was to execute any service, but went and performed it;" and his energy and self-exposure, in bringing off the wounded from St. Cas, was a splendid evidence, as much of a daring disposition, under circumstances which called for its display, as of admirable humanity.
"Though most deservedly popular with the seamen," says Mason," he had no spice of the tar in his personal behaviour. His domestic habits were unassuming, candid, and friendly; they evinced, too, that he was habitually attached to piety and temperance." Of his generosity and patriotism he gave a remarkable proof, early in 1798, when a voluntary subscription was foot for defraying the expenses of the war; on which occasion, although by no means wealthy, he contributed the whole of his year's pay to the fund.
As a senator, this distinguished man was never brilliant, and often obscure; but, whatever he said was spoken upon conviction; and the navy had, in him, its most zealous, although, perhaps, one of its least eloquent, parliamentary advocates. He was so far above the weakness of professional jealousy, that no member of the legislature expressed greater satisfaction at the successful exploits of his naval cotemporaries than himself. During the debate on Rodney's victory, he not only eulogized that eminent commander's conduct, "but took considerable pains to make his naval excellence intelligible to landsmen." His conduct while in office, is stated by Mason, apparently with correctness, to have met with general approval: "I only say general," continues he; "it is not in the nature of things for a rectifier of abuses to give universal satisfaction."
For a long period, Lord Howe was known in the navy by the soubriquet of Black Dick, which he had acquired by hanging a mezzotint portrait of himself in his cabin. The original, it appears, had been taken by a foreign artist, without his knowledge; and his amazement, on being presented with the print, which he thought was a remarkable likeness, is described as having bordered on the ludicrous.
THOMAS, LORD GRAVES.
THOMAS, second son of Admiral Thomas Graves, was born about the year 1725; and, after having successively served, on various important occasions, under Hawke, Anson, and other distin
guished admirals, obtained, in 1759, the command of the Unicorn frigate; from which, in 1761, he was removed to the Antelope, on the North American station, and appointed governor of New
foundland; in which capacity, he acted with such promptitude, prudence, and energy, on the capture of St. John's, by a French squadron, in 1762, that the place was speedily retaken. On returning to England, he proposed new regulations for the government and security of the island, which were adopted by ministers. In 1764, he was sent, with a squadron, to inquire into the conduct of the governors of certain forts on the coast of Africa, some of whom were removed, owing to the abuses which, while on this service, he discovered. In 1769, he commanded the Temeraire, a guard-ship, at Plymouth; in 1775, he became a colonel of marines; in 1776, he was appointed to the Nonsuch, guard-ship; and, about the same time, obtained his return to parliament, for a borough in Cornwall. In 1779, he became rear-admiral of the blue, and went out in the Conqueror, of seventy-four guns, with Admiral Byron's squadron, but soon returned in charge of a convoy.
with General Campbell, in concerting measures for the defence of the island, against an expected attack.
In 1782, he took the command of a squadron, having under its protection several prizes which had been captured from De Grasse, and a number of homeward-bound merchant vessels. On its passage, the fleet was almost entirely dispersed, by a storm, in which several of the ships were lost, and the Ramilies, in which Graves had hoisted his flag, suffered so much injury, that it became necessary to abandon her. The admiral arrived, safely, at Cork, but several of the fleet were taken by French privateers, which had set out in pursuit of it immediately on receiving the news of its dispersion.
On the 24th of September, 1787, he was promoted to the rank of vice-admiral of the blue; and in 1788, having been made commander-in-chief at Plymouth, he took his station on board the Impregnable, of ninety guns; from which, on the anticipation of a war with Spain, he removed to the Cambridge. On the 21st of September, 1790, he became vice-admiral of the white; and when hostilities with France were re
In 1780, he sailed to America, with a reinforcement of six ships of the line, for Admiral Arbuthnot; and, in his way out, captured a valuable French East Indiaman. On the 26th of Sep-newed, he obtained a command in the tember, in the same year, he was made rear-admiral of the red; and, in July, 1781, Admiral Arbuthnot having returned to England, he took the chief command on the American station. Being soon afterwards joined by fourteen sail of the line, under Sir Samuel Hood, he went in search of the Count De Grasse, with whom, on the 5th of September, 1781, he came to a partial engagement, which was not immediately renewed, owing to the disabled state of many of the English ships. Having obtained reinforcements at New York, which, however, still left the British force much inferior, in point of number, to that of the enemy, he placed himself, for two days, in such a situation as he thought would bring the French to battle; but, as De Grasse seemed disinclined to risk an action, Graves resigned the command to Rearadmiral Digby, and sailed, on the 10th of November, for Jamaica, where he had been ordered to join Admiral Parker. During his passage, he captured the Imperieux, of thirty-eight guns; and, on his arrival, was employed
channel fleet, under Lord Howe. On the 1st of February, 1793, he was made vice-admiral of the red; and on the 12th of April, 1794, admiral of the blue. On the 1st of the following June, he served as second in command, under Lord Howe, in the celebrated engagement with the French fleet, on which occasion, his vessel, the Royal Sovereign, after having attacked and nearly captured the Terrible, which bore the flag of the French second in command, succeeded in taking L'Amerique, of seventy-four guns.
As a reward for his conduct, in the battle, during which he received a wound, he was raised to the Irish peerage, and obtained a pension of £1,000 per annum. On the 1st of June, 1795, he became admiral of the white; and died, on the 31st of January, 1802. By his wife, a daughter of William Peer Williams, of Cadhay, Esq., he left two sons and two daughters. Although his career was not remarkably brilliant, his conduct, as a commander, appears to have been decidedly worthy of approbation.