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wards more fully delivering my fentiments to the Houfe. The object of the first of the motions which it is my intention to fubmit is, that an addrefs may be prefented to his Majesty, praying that his Majefty will be pleafed to give orders for laying before the Houfe an account of all the hips of the line, filty gun fhips, frigates, floops, gun brigs, and other veffels actually in commiffion in the years ending the 31st of December, 1793, 1801, and 1803. By the production of this account, the Houfe will be enabled to fee what was the actual amount of the naval defence of the country at the end of the first year of the war in which the country is now engaged, and the war which had been commenced in 1793, under far different circumftances. I do not wish at prefent to enter into any detail of the actual ftate of our naval preparations at the prefent moment, but it is not furely afking too much to call for documents to fhew that our preparations now are adequate to the crifis in which the empire is placed. The question now is, not what was the force at the prefent moment, and the force at the origin of the last war. The point for the Houfe to confider is, what was the relative danger of the fituation of the country under different circumftances; what were the exifting means of repelling the dangers which threatened; what was the comparative nfe made of thefe means by the fervants of the Crown? When the dangers of the country increafe, it is not, Sir, furely, requiring any thing unneceffary to fee that the fpecies of defence adopted by Government was that which was moft applicable to the nature of thofe dangers. There is, Sir, one defcription of force which strikes almost every man as that to which it was most expedient that a confiderable addition fhould be formed. If I have been rightly informed, it was not before the beginning of the prefent year that any attempt was made to augment the fpecies of naval defence now referred to. When the nature of the enemy's preparations was confidered, it might have been fuppofed that the great object of the exertions of the Admiralty would have been to augment that defcription of force which was moft particularly applicable to the peculiar circumstances of the empire. But how, Sir, does the matter appear now to be placed? It is not before the beginning of January that any contract is entered into for building any portion of this defcription of force, and then only 23 gun veffels are contracted for by the Admiralty. Of thefe veffels only five are to be completed at the end of three months, and the remainder


not before the expiration of nine months from the time the contract was formed. Now, Sir, if the Board of Admiralty was convinced of the neceflity of building fuch an additional number of veffels, how are we to account for the mode in which the contract is to be carried into effect? Is there any thing in the ftate of our information as to the preparations of the enemy, to juftify that Board in thinking that this fpecies of force will not be wanted at as early a period as poffible, with the view of repelling invafion? Will it be denied that as far as relates to defeating any attempt at invafion, this very defcription of naval force is far fuperior to any other which can be employed? We have long fince learnt that it is the object of the enemy to attempt invafion with light veffels, and a flotilla which can only be fuccefsfully refifted by velfels of a fimilar defcription. On what principle then is it that no part of thefe 23 gun brigs are to be completed in lefs than three months; and that with the exception of five, no less than nine months are to elapfe before a description of force fo effential is brought into activity? If the papers relative to this fubject are laid on the table of the House, it will then be for Members to fee on what grounds it was that fuch a plan was not fooner adopted; and if it was confidered neceffary, upon what grounds it was that it was not to be carried into effect with the leaft poffible delay. Even in the month of Auguft laft, when measures of vigorous preparation began to be adopted in this country; when Ministers, in common with the public at large, faw that an invasion by means of a flotilla was threatened; when they heard of the different parts of this fleet collected without moleftation, in defiance of our blockading Squadrons; when from two or three hundred veffels, the force of the enemy in the port of Boulogne alone, was increafed, fince the month of November, to upwards of a thousand veffels; when it was known that this immenfe collection of veffels was independent of the force alfembled in Flushing, in the Texel, in Helvoetfluys, in Breft, or other ports on the coaft of France; when, in the courfe of the time which had fince elapfed, Government had induftrioudy circulated an opinion in every part of the country, that an attempt of the enemy might be expected from day to day; when it was allowed that the delay in the execu tion of the long threatened attempt arofe merely from the immenfe fcale of the enemy's preparations, a fcale of preparations indeed not even apprehended in imagination at the origin of the war: when all thefe circumftauces were deliberately compared, is it not extraordinary that the Board of


Admiralty did not fooner think of fome means of meeting the force of the enemy with fuitable means of protection against attack? But it is not only on the general augmentation of the enemy's force in Boulogne that I would on the prefent occafion reft my argument. The fact is, I believe, Sir, that there is every reafon to think, that in addition to the immenfe collection of light vellels in the harbour of Boulogne, the enemy have at this moment in the fame port one hundred and fifty ftout gun veffels, to be employed in the protection of the lefs formidable flotilla. If there is one fubject worthy of the grave and deliberate confideration of Parliament, it is certainly the fubject to which I am now calling the attention of the Houfe. If Minifters have repeatedly declared to Parliament and the public, that the period was daily anticipated, when the exertions of all orders of the ftate would be neceffary to repel a defperate attempt of the enemy; if it was declared, in the moft explicit terms, that a conflict of the fevereft nature was to be expected even on our own foil; was it not, Sir, natural to expect that the description of force most adapted to meet the threatened attempt would be completed with the greatest expedition? Are the House to acquiefce in the propriety of fuch extraordinary delay independent of all information? Are they at once to fuppofe that the additional number of 23 veffels was neceffary, and that nine months are to elapfe before they are to be ready to be brought into the fervice, at a moment when no fpecies of naval defence was fo effential to the fafety of the empire? An additional reafon for my wifhing to prefs an inquiry into this part of the fubject is, the recollection of what was done on occafions of a nature in fome degree fimilar to the present during the late war, though certainly in no point of view equal in magnitude of intereft or national danger. I can ftate then from positive recollection and knowledge, that the exertions made in three different years of the laft war, when it was judged neceffary to prepare a force of this description, were in amount much greater, and much more expedition was used in completing it than at the prefent unexampled crifis. The years to which I refer, are 1794, 1797, and 1801, previous to the acceffion of the prefent Board of Admiralty to power. In each of thofe years it was judged proper to have a number of gun veffels prepared, and a contract was accordingly made for their completion within a given period. As far as my recollection goes, the contract at that time was fo formed, that a certain number of the veffels were to be completed in about eight or ten weeks.


There was another description of them which was to be completed in fourteen weeks, and this was the longest interval fuffered after the contract was accepted by the Lords of the Admiralty. The fyftem of the Admiralty now, however, proceeds on very different principles. It is admitted that the Situation of the country at prefent is much more dangerous than in any of the years to which I have just alluded; but with the admiffion of this danger, and of the propriety of an additional number of gun veffels, fix months are to be fuffered to pass over before even the number of 23 can be finished. Senfible that expedition is on this fubject infinitely defirable, and that not a day ought to be loft in accelerating the actual service of every defcription of light force, it is my object that an account of the orders iffued by the Admiralty for building thefe gun veffels fhould be laid before the Houfe, fpecifying the terms of the contract, and the time agreed on for its completion. If this paper is produced, I thall feel it my duty on a future day to move that an addrefs be presented to his Majefty, that he will be graciously pleased to give orders for ufing greater expedition in augmenting that species of naval force, beft calculated for meeting and refifting any attack of the enemy, for guarding the narrow feas, and for protecting the coafts of the country. With this view I fhall fubmit a motion to the Houle for a copy of all orders iffued by the Board of Admiralty for entering into any contract for building gun veffels in the years 1794, 1797, 1801, 1802, if any fuch orders were iffued that year, and in 803, the force of the velfels fo contracted for, and the time in which they were to be ready for fervice. By the production of this paper the House will be enabled to form an opinion how far the conduct of the Board of Admiralty has correfponded with the magnitude of the danger to which the empire is expofed, and to judge whether the fpecies of force applicable to this immediate danger is adequate to its propofed object. It will not be denied that this view of the fubject is highly interest-ing, and certainly takes precedence of every other confideBut, Sir, there is another view of the fubject of which no one will attempt to deny the importance. When we reflect what is the nature of the war in which the country is now engaged, we are doubtless, in the first instance, to look forward to immediate means of protection. But we fhould be but injudiciously discharging our duty if we did not look forward to the actual state of our naval establish ment on a great scale. The prefervation of the country is VOL. II. 1803-4. N


our primary object, but we have before us other mighty objects which, though remote, are not for that reafon to be difregarded. The prefent is a war in which we contend for all that is dear to man in fociety, and I would have it clearly understood that it is a war of which I cannot allow myfelf to lofe fight of the idea, that it may be a contest of confiderable duration. In this view we have to confider by what means our naval establishment is to be rendered adequate not only to the great ftruggle which may enfue, but to give us the means of fupporting our naval fuperiority after the great crifis has paffed away. It is not for ourfelves alone that we are now called on to contend. Our fleet muft, even after all profpect of immediate danger is removed, be kept on that footing which may enable us to take the lead in any great effort for the glory not of this country alone, but in defence of the liberties and the independence of Europe and of the world. I fhall not now enlarge on this point, but I must be permitted to fay, that the exifting ftate of our naval eftablifhment is a subject the interefting nature of which the House cannot for a moment hesitate to admit. When a new war was entered into, and when there was reason to believe that the war would be one of fome duration, it certainly was the duty of the Board of Admiralty carefully to confider what were the probable aids which the exigencies of the fervice might require. At prefent I am alluding chiefly to the condition of the fhips now actually in commiffion. After a war which continued without intermiffion for ten years, and in the course of which, the fervices of the navy had been equally distinguished by labour and gallantry, it was naturally to be expected that a number of fhips were in a fituation which did not render them capable of being employed without confiderable repairs. In the coufe of the laft war the number of fhips of the line was as high as a hundred and twenty, by a feries of the utmoft zeal, activity and fpirit on the part of the Board of Admiralty. It is not now my object to call for any explicit account of the number of fhips at prefent in commiffion, but when I have ftated what was the number of fhips of the line in commiffion during the laft war, it is not going too far to afk, whether, after that war had continued ten years, Minifters, on the conclufion of peace, took any meafure to keep up this formidable naval establishment? I certainly do think that on the conclufion of peace, the permanent eftablishment of the navy ought to have been an object of the deepest interest, and that the propriety of fupplying fucceffive augmentations


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