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ADMIRAL LORD ST. VINCENT.
From the Edinburgh Review.
1. Memoirs of Admiral the Right
When we find a boy of thirteen, selftaught, self-dependent, and self-denying, tearing himself away from his family with a scanty pittance, unequal even to the proTHE name of St. Vincent will justly be vision of common necessaries, and of so enrolled in the first rank of the many emi-marked a character and mind as to have nent characters, that have spread a lustre advanced himself to the highest professional over the annals of the British Empire dur- ranks and honors; the narrative of the proing the course of the last three hundred gressive steps of such a life cannot fail to years. As a great Naval Commander, afford a useful, entertaining, and highly viewed under all the aspects of his profes-instructive example, more particularly to est stepareer, even from his first entrance every young midshipman who embarks in til he arrived at the high-the naval service of his country. We shall his whole conduct pecumanyemarkable in therefore endeavor, as far as our space will was this conduct that made him Command-admit, man through the whole period of his er-in-chief of the Mediterranean, and twice admit, to trace the progress of this illustriCommander-in-chief of being ordered, on the second occasioiset: carry the Union flag at the main, having previously held the office of First Lord of the Admiralty, and been advanced to the prominent situation of Admiral of the Fleet; and by this conduct was the successful battle fought with the enemy's fleet, nearly double the force of his own, for which he received from his sovereign the high dignity of an Earldom of the United Kingdom; and, towards the close of his distinguished career, was honored by George IV. with a Field-marshal's baton, in testimony of his eminent services.
Under the guidance, and by the example of such a man, were the most distinguished officers of the time educated and promoted -Collingwood, Saumarez, Troubridge, Hallowell, and Nelson, with many others. 'He was the master and instructor,' says Dr. Parr, of Nelson, whom he formed and made a greater man than himself, and then did not envy him.' The Doctor was not far wrong. Lord St. Vincent knew not what envy was when he found himself so unwell as to be obliged to give up the Mediterranean command, Lord Nelson, on his own behalf and that of his gallant comrades above mentioned, thus writes to him: -'For the sake of the country, do not quit us at this moment. We look up to you, as we have always found you, as to
The two authors named at the head of mater drawn a portion of their Earl's letter-books; anu peny they ransacked their contents--having, between them, extracted and printed not fewer than a thousand letters written by him and his correspondents; of which about six hundred are stuffed into Mr. Tucker's volumes, (three hundred would have been ample for every purpose,) and the other four hundred are huddled pell-mell into Mr. Brenton's, without the least order, and many of them having no relation to the life of Lord St. Vincent.
Mr. Tucker's father was Lord St. Vincent's private and confidential Secretary, afterwards a Commissioner of the Navy, and lastly the second Secretary of the Admiralty, under the naval administrations of Lord Howick (Earl Grey) and Mr. Thomas Grenville. This author had the additional advantage of whatever authentic materials, and we believe they were not few nor unimportant, were left to him by his father, with others from the Earl's family.
Nor was Captain Brenton without pretensions to become the biographer of Lord St. Vincent. His brother, Sir Jaleel Brenton, had served with his lordship, and by his excellent and gallant conduct had gained his friendship; and when the noble Earl, after the death of his lady, made an excur
sion on the continent, he took with him, as his companions, the captain and his sister, Miss Brenton, the latter of whom continued to manage his household affairs.
we thought it best to return home. I went in at night, and made myself known to my sisters, who remonstrated with me rather warmly on the impropriety of my conduct, and assured me that Mr. Swinton would chastise me severely for it; to which I replied that he certainly would not, for that I did not intend to go to school any more, and that I was resolved to be a sailor.
Our notices will be chiefly drawn from the 'Memoirs' of the civilian; out of which we shall gather such materials as will best convey a true portrait of the character, conduct, and feelings of this great the subject; and I still repeated that I would 'The next day my mother spoke to me on man. To depict him in his early youth we be a sailor. This threw her into much permust, however, have recourse to Captain plexity; and, in the absence of her husband, Brenton's work, where we have a curious she made known her grief, in a flood of tears, piece of autobiography, dictated by the no- to Lady Archibald Hamilton, mother of the ble lord himself to the captain. One day, late Sir William Hamilton, and wife of the this author tells us, he took the opportunity governor of Greenwich Hospital. Her ladyof reminding the old Earl of his promise ship said she did not see the matter in the same to relate to him part of his early history. light as my mother did; that she thought the sea a very honorable and a very good profes'His lordship, with his characteristic kindsion, and said she would undertake to procure ness and frankness, immediately replied-me a situation in some ship of war. "Come, then, take your pen and sit down, and I will talk while you write." He then dictated to me what follows:—
'In the mean time my mother sent for her brother, Mr. John Parker, who, on being made acquainted with my determination, expostulated with me, but to no purpose. I was resolved I would not be a lawyer, and that I would be a sailor. Shortly afterwards, Lady A. Hamilton introduced me to Lady Burlington, and she to Commodore Townshend, who was at that time going out in the Gloucester, as Commander-in-chief, to Jamaica. She re
deck, to which the commodore readily consented; and I was forthwith to be prepared
for a sea life.
'I was born at Meaford, in Staffordshire, on the 9th January, 1731, old style. My father was counsellor and solicitor to the Admiralty, and treasurer (Mr. Tucker says auditor) of Greenwich Hospital. At a very early age I was sent to a grammar-school at Burton-uponTrent, where I remained long enough to bequested that he would take me on his quarterconsidered a very capital Latin and Greek scholar for my years; and I was often selected by the master to show what proficiency his. boys had attained. At the same time, I frankly own to you that I know very little about the matter now. At the age of twelve years I was removed to a school at Greenwich, kept by a Mr. Swinton, and where I was to have remained until fitted for college, being destined for the law. This favorite plan of my father's was, however, frustrated by his own coachman, whose name I have now forgotten. I only remember that I gained his confidence, always sitting by his side on the coach-box when we drove out. He often asked what profession I intended to choose. I told him I was to be a lawyer. "Oh, don't be a lawyer, Master Jackey," said the old man; "all lawyers are
About this time Strachan (father of the late Admiral Sir Richard Strachan) came to the same school, and we became great friends. He told me such stories of the happiness of a sea life, into which he had lately been initiated, that he easily persuaded me to quit the school and go with him. We set out accordingly, and concealed ourselves on board of a ship at Woolwich. My father was at that time absent on the Northern Circuit. My mother and sisters were in a state of distraction at learning our absence from school, fearing that some dis
aster had happened to us. But after keeping them three days in the utmost anxiety, and suffering ourselves much privation and misery,
be called grotesque. My coat was made for 'My equipment was rather what would now me to grow up to; it reached down to my had a dirk and a gold-laced hat; and in this heels, and was fully large in the sleeves. I costume my uncle caused me to be introduced to my patroness, Lady Burlington. Here I acquitted myself but badly. I lagged behind my uncle, and held by the skirt of his coat. forward, shook hands with me, and told me I Her ladyship, however, insisted on my coming had chosen a very honorable profession. She Townshend, desiring that we should call on then gave Mr. Parker a note to Commodore and, after waiting some time, the commodore him early the next morning. This we did; made his appearance in his nightcap and slippers, and in a very rough and uncouth voice asked me, how soon I would be ready to join my ship? I replied, "Directly." "Then you may go to-morrow morning," said he, "and I will give you a letter to the first lieutenant."
Captain Brenton here interrupts the narrative by informing us, that the manner and circumstances of young Jervis's introduction to the first lieutenant are too gross to be described; that, in point of immorality and vice, it equalled or outdid any thing described in Roderick Random.
This was in the year 1745. As soon as the ship was ready for sea, we proceeded to Jamaica; and, as I was always fond of active life, I volunteered to go into small vessels, and saw a good deal of what was going on.
'My father had a very large family, with limited means. He gave me twenty pounds at starting, and that was all he ever gave me. After I had been a considerable time at the station, I drew for twenty more, but the bill came back protested. I was mortified at this rebuke, and made a promise, which I have ever kept, that I would never draw another bill without a certainty of its being paid. I immediately changed my mode of living, quitted my mess, lived alone, and took up the ship's allowance, which I found quite sufficient; washed and mended my own clothes; made a pair of trowsers out of the ticking of my bed; and having by these means saved as much money as would redeem my honor, I took up my bill; and from that time to this [and he said this with great energy] I have taken care to keep within my means.'-(Brenton, vol. i. pp. 19, 20.)
Jervis, to sell his own bedding, and to sleep on the bare deck.
At an early period after his joining the Gloucester and arriving on the West Indian station, finding he had no means of partaking in the mess of his colleagues in that ship on account of the expenses, he prevailed on the captain to transfer him into one of the small cruisers, where he could adapt his scanty means to his absolute necessities; and, being utterly unable to indulge in expenses on shore, he was always ready to volunteer for such small craft as were proceeding to sea. The dishonored bill being the greatest weight upon his mind, he resolved to submit to the endurance of pinching privation, in order to relieve himself from the burden. In one of these cruisers it happened that, in the cable tier, was an old quarter-master named Drysdale, who had been mate of a merchant vessel: this old seaman afforded the midshipman the only assistance he ever received, towards the perfect acquirement, which he afterwards attained, of navigation.
Mr. Tucker's statement does not materially differ from this, but it wants the flesh- Thus did this youth contrive to rub on, ness of the original. However limited the for six years, till the autumn of 1754, when means may have been of Mr. Swynfen Jer- he had nearly served his time as midshipvis with his double offices, or whatever his man, and then returned in the Sphinx to intention in subjecting his son to pecuniary England; was transferred to the William distress and mortified feelings, it took with and Mary yacht, and there completed the the latter the right turn;-kindled in his few months required to make him eligible breast a lofty spirit of independence, which for a lieutenant's commission. This he renever afterwards was quenched; it first taught him to rely upon himself, and how securely, though not without a sacrifice, he might do so; it originated in him that confidence in his own resources, which, in the constantly occurring transactions of his eventful life, was one of his chief superiorities over the run of mankind.
ceived in the early part of January 1755, and joined the Prince, of ninety guns, intended for the flag of Lord Anson. She was commanded by Captain Saunders, the pattern of steady bravery combined with the most unaffected modesty.' In February he was transferred, as the junior lieutenant, to the Royal George, and the following month to the Nottingham, one of the fleet under Admiral Boscawen.
It was, however, a dangerous, and to many a youth would have proved a fatal, experiment, though it succeeded with young Jer- When Sir Edward Hawke was sent out to vis. But it succeeded, not so much from the Mediterranean to repair the misfortunes the wisdom of the parent, as from the natu- connected with Admiral Byng's command, ral and determined character of the boy. Captain Saunders was promoted to the flag, It was that innate and inherent character, and appointed second in command; and it more than the difficulties he had to en- speaks volumes in favor of Jervis, that his counter on his first entrance into the ser-short acquaintance had impressed that exvice, that made him what he afterwards be-cellent officer with so good an opinion, came; for we are by no means sure that a that, unsolicited, he was selected as one of young man, entering the service under his followers. He placed him in the Dorwholly different circumstances-to whom chester, whence he was soon afterwards rehis friends allow some £50 or £60 a-year for his mess, in order to enable him to live like a gentleman among his colleagues would not turn out as distinguished an officer as one doomed to share the poverty of
moved to the Prince, in which the Admiral's flag was then flying; and when in 1757 it was shifted to the Culloden, he took Mr. Jervis with him as his second lieutenant.
'In England,' says Lord Orford, 'the peo
The illness of Strachan, who commanded |dition are matters of history, in which the a small sloop, the Experiment, placed Lieu- name of Wolfe is emblazoned in imperishtenant Jervis, for the first time, in the com-able characters. mand of a ship; and being sent out on a cruise, he fell in with and engaged the ple despaired, they triumphed, they wept, for French privateer Xebeque, much superior Wolfe had fallen in the hour of victory; joy, in force and sailing. In a running fight, grief, curiosity, astonishment, were painted in which lasted above two hours, the Experi- every countenance; the more they inquired, ment had a midshipman killed and several the higher their admiration rose; not an inciof the crew wounded; the sloop was much dent but was heroic and affecting.'-'Still, damaged in her hull and rigging, and her however,' says Mr. Tucker, 'does one incimain-mast shot through. The Xebeque made off; but her speed was so superior that the pursuit was soon decided to be hopeless.
dent remain, which, it is believed, is not gene
rally known, and which, as Commander Jervis participated in it, should be related. On the night previous to the battle, after all the orders for the assault were given, Wolfe requested a private interview with his friend; at which, saying he had the strongest presentiment that he should be killed in the fight of to-morrow, but he was sure he should die on the field of glory, Wolfe unbuttoned his waistcoat, and taking from his bosom the miniature of a young lady with whose heart his own "blended," he delivered it to Commander Jervis, entreating that, if the foreboding came to pass, he would himself return it to her on his arrival in England. Wolfe's presages were too completely fulfilled, and Coinmander Jervis had the most painful duty of delivering the pledge to Miss Lowther.'
The expedition against Canada being decided on, and the renowned Wolfe appointed to the command of the military forces, Admiral, now Sir Charles Saunders, who was recalled from the Mediterranean for the express purpose of taking the command of the fleet to be employed on this expedition, again hoisted his flag in the Prince, and selected Mr. Jervis to be his first lieutenant. The military Commander-in-chief, and his aide-de-camp, Captain (afterwards Colonel) Barré, were among Sir Charles Saunders's guests. Wolfe and Jervis had been at school together, when the generous acquaintance of youthful hours' had been formed, now in a maturer age to be renewed; and such was the confidence the soldier here placed in the sailor, that, when on the eve of battle, that gallant young hero sought for a friend to whom he might unbosom the fondest secret of his' We are free!' The Genoese officer, hearheart, Jervis was the chosen depositary.'
By the time the forces had arrived at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, Sir Charles had appointed Jervis to command the Porcupine sloop, with which, by his alertness on all occasions, he was judged to be of material service to the army. The Porcupine was ordered to lead, and the General was embarked in the leading ship. When under the guns of Quebec, it fell a dead calm. The stream of the river set the Porcupine rapidly towards the flats, and within the reach of the guns of Fort Louis, from whence she was cannonaded. But, by the judicious exertions of Jervis and his crew, she was towed off, and the fleet conducted to a landing-place; and here Commander Jervis's participation ceased.
The exploits and the result of this expe
In 1769 he was appointed to the Alarm frigate, and sent to the Mediterranean. When at Genoa, (not at Tunis, as Captain Brenton says,) two African slaves, sauntering in their galley near the mole, jumped into the Alarm's boat, enfolded themselves in the British colors, and shouted out,
ing this, caused them to be taken forcibly from their place of refuge, one of the slaves carrying away with him the piece of the flag torn off. This being reported to Captain Jervis, he at once decided it was an insult to the British flag; and accordingly,' he says, 'I demanded of both the Doge and Senate that both the slaves should be brought on board the Alarm, with the part of the torn color which the slave carried off with him, the officer of the guard punished, and an apology made on the quarterdeck of the Alarm, under the king's colors, for the outrage offered to the British nation;' and he carried every point of his demand. Mr. Tucker, rather unnecessarily, here introduces Jervis's opinions in after life as decidedly averse from the abolition of negro slavery; and we notice this the rather because we think Captain Brenton has been led into a mistake. He says that Sir
* Is not this doubtful? Wolfe was born in 1726, Jervis in 1734, making a difference of eight years George Naylor waited on Lord St. Vincent for some historical anecdotes to grace the
in their ages.
history of his peerage; that his lordship ploy, by great economy my own pocket expressed his dissent, being utterly averse supported myself, and maintained my indefrom such nonsense and vanity; but that, pendence, though it was hard work; but I after a short silence, he said, 'Yes, there could not afford to purchase any thing in is one anecdote which I will give you, and this land of tempting curiosities and arts.' one at which I am more proud than of any The Duke quitted in May, with a heart other event of my life;'-and he tells the overflowing with thankfulness for the unalstory of the two slaves. This is not exact-loyed pleasure he had received from his ly what we should expect from one, who trip with Jervis. was not only indifferent, but invariably hostile, to slave emancipation; and we think, moreover, that some little vanity' was displayed (but could any one blame it?) in the emblazonment of his arms with an historical anecdote that no one can mistake; -his supporters bearing the Thunderer's eagle and the winged horse of Helicon, in direct allusion to the capture of the Pegase by the Foudroyant.
The Alarm, after this, went home, was paid off, and Jervis, with his friend Captain Barrington, the former having first for some time studied the French language, set off on a tour of inspection of the European naval arsenals-chiefly those of France. They then proceeded to St. Petersburg by the Baltic; and Jervis gives a concise and spirited account of the Empress Catharine, and the noted characters After a severe storm, and the shipwreck who were then found in the Russian capiof the Alarm, at Marseilles, it required the tal. Stockholm, Carlscrona, Copenhagen, most extraordinary exertions, together with and the harbors of Norway, were also the valuable assistance of M. Pleville de visited; as were Hamburg, Lubeck, and Peltier, the port officer, to make her again the ports of Holland, together with the seaworthy; after which Jervis, by his rep-northern ports of France; and in the auresentations to the Admiralty, had the tumn of the second year of their travels, gratification of presenting to M. de Peltier they returned to Plymouth.
a valuable piece of plate. A few months Soon after his arrival, Jervis was apafter the accident, he writes to his sister-pointed to the Foudroyant, the finest two'The Alarm is the completest thing I ever saw on the water-having previously described her as 'a miserable sunken wreck.'
deck ship in the British navy. She was annexed to the Channel fleet under Admiral Keppel, and was stationed immediately astern of the Commander-in-chief's ship, He also wrote to his father on this occa- the Victory. In our review of the Life of sion; but nothing appears in reply either Keppel, by the Hon. and Rev. Augustus then or thereafter. I have the happiness Keppel, we adverted to the straightforward to inform my dearest father that my pros- evidence of Captain Jervis on the courtpects brighten, and I hope to be at sea in a martial called for by Palliser against Kepmonth. I have had a severe lesson of sub-pel. Mr. Tucker has reprinted, at full mission to the Divine will, gained some length, the evidence of Jervis, which occuexperience, and, I have the vanity to think, pied two days, and which consists of ninetylost no reputation, although other loss I one questions and cross-questions, with the have sustained enough; but that is not to answers. All of these were clear, concise, be named.' decided, and consistent; and that evidence alone left not a doubt as to the conduct of Keppel.
His Royal Highness Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester, being in a weak state of health, it was the King's pleasure In 1779 the Foudroyant was still attachthat a winter's sojourn in Italy should take ed to the Channel fleet, then under the place, and that a frigate should convey him command of Sir Charles Hardy, who made from port to port-and the Alarm was or- so dignified a retreat before the immensely dered on that service. On this occasion superior Spanish and French fleets, that Jervis proved, in one respect, that as the Lord Howe and his Board of Admiralty boy had been, so was the man. Alive to expressed their high approbation' of the the advantages of visiting the several courts Admiral's wise and prudent conduct. of Italy under such favorable auspices, and It would appear, however, that Jervis in the society in which he was com-considered it in a different light. Writing pelled, as it were, to move, he thus into his sister he says 'I am in the most forms his friends how he supported him-humbled state of mind I ever experienced, self: 'Throughout such an expensive em- from the retreat we have made before the