But the injustice manifested towards the late Earl of Dundonald did not end here. Driven from the service of his own country, and without fortune, he was compelled by his necessities to embark in the service of foreign states. With his own hand, directed by his own genius, which had to supply the place of adequate naval force, he liberated Chili, Peru, and Brazil from thraldom, consolidating the rebellious provinces of the latter empire on so permanent a basis, that its internal peace has never again been disturbed. Yet not one of these states has to this day satisfied the stipulated and indisputable arrangements by which he was induced to espouse their cause; the reason of their breach of contract being distinctly traceable to the course pursued towards Lord Dundonald in England. Seeing that the British Government paid no attention to the yet more important claims he had upon its gratitude, the South American States believed that they might with impunity disregard their own stipulations, and the dictates of national honour; the chief of one of them having had the audacity to tell Lord Cochrane that he would find no sympathy in the British Government.
Three of the most distinguished officers in the British service, Sir Thomas Hastings, Sir John Burgoyne, and Colonel Colquhoun, have felt it their duty, when officially reporting on the efficacy of Lord Dundonald's war plans, to give him the highest credit for having kept his secret "under peculiarly trying circumstances," and from pure love of his native country. The "trying circumstances" were these,—that he had been driven from the service of that country by the machinations of a political faction, which, in the conscientious performance of his parliamentary duties, he had offended. Even this injury, which blasted his whole life and prospects, did not detract one iota from the love of country, which to the day of his death was with him a passion; his acute mind well knowing how to draw the distinction between his country and those who were sacrificing its best interests to their love of power, if not to less worthy purposes. Never was praise more honourably given, than in the Ordnance Report of the above-named distinguished officers, and never was it more nobly deserved.
Another "peculiarly trying circumstance" alluded to by those officers, was that, when compelled by actual pecuniary necessity, in consequence of the deprivation of his rank and pay, and the demands of increasing family, to accept service under a foreign state as his only means of subsistence, he lay before the castles of Callao, into which had been removed for security the whole wealth of the rich capital of Peru, including bullion and plate, estimated at upwards of a million sterling, he preserved his war secret, though strongly urged to put it in execution. Had he listened to the temptation, in six hours the whole of that wealth must have been in his possession. For not listening to it, he incurred the enmity of his employers, who urged that they were entitled to all his professional skill and knowledge, as a part of his bargain with them; and his non-compliance with their wishes is doubtless amongst the chief reasons why they have not, to this day, satisfied their own offered stipulations for his services. Yet, at the very moment when he was displaying this self-sacrificing patriotism, lest his country might suffer from his secret being divulged, the Government of Great Britain had, at the suggestion of the Spanish Government, passed a "Foreign Enlistment Act," with the express intention of enveloping him in its meshes.[A]
[Footnote A: On Lord Cochrane's return from Brazil, having occasion to go before the Attorney-General, on the subject of a patent, that learned functionary rudely asked him, "Whether he was not afraid to appear in his presence?" Lord Cochrane's reply was, "No, nor in the presence of any man living." Evidence exists that the Attorney-General asked the Ministry if he should prosecute Lord Cochrane under the Foreign Enlistment Act, the reply being in the negative.]
As a striking instance of Lord Cochrane's method of exposing naval abuses, part of a speech delivered by him in the House of Commons, on the 11th of May, 1809, is here copied from his "Autobiography," vol. ii. pp. 142-144.
An admiral, worn out in the service, is superannuated at 410l.. a year, a captain at 210l.., a clerk of the ticket office retires on 700l.. a year! The widow of Admiral Sir Andrew Mitchell has one third of the allowance given to the widow of a Commissioner of the Navy.
I will give the House another instance. Four daughters of the gallant Captain Courtenay have 12l. 10s. each, the daughter of Admiral Sir Andrew Mitchell has 25l., two daughters of Admiral Epworth have 25l. each, the daughter of Admiral Keppel 24l., the daughter of Captain Mann, who was killed in action, 25l., four children of Admiral Moriarty 25l. each. That is—thirteen daughters of admirals and captains, several of whose fathers fell in the service of their country, receive from the gratitude of the nation a sum less than Dame Mary Saxton, the widow of a commissioner.
The pension list is not formed on any comparative rank or merit, length of service, or other rational principle, but appears to me to be dependent on parliamentary influence alone. Lieutenant Ellison, who lost his arm, is allowed 91l. 5s., Captain Johnstone, who lost his arm, has only 45l. 12s. 6d., Lieutenant Arden, who lost his arm, has 9l. 5s., Lieutenant Campbell, who lost his leg, 40l.., and poor Lieutenant Chambers, who lost both his legs, has only 80l.., whilst Sir A.S. Hamond retires on 1500l.. per annum. The brave Sir Samuel Hood, who lost his arm, has only 500l.., whilst the late Secretary of the Admiralty retires, in full health, on a pension of 1500l.. per annum.
To speak less in detail, 32 flag officers, 22 captains, 50 lieutenants, 180 masters, 36 surgeons, 23 pursers, 91 boatswains, 97 gunners, 202 carpenters, and 41 cooks, in all 774 persons, cost the country 4028l. less than the nett proceeds of the sinecures of Lords Arden (20,358l.), Camden (20,536l.), and Buckingham (20,693l.).
All the superannuated admirals, captains, and lieutenants put together, have but 1012l. more than Earl Camden's sinecure alone! All that is paid to the wounded officers of the whole British navy, and to the wives and children of those dead or killed in action, do not amount by 214l. to as much as Lord Arden's sinecure alone, viz. 20,358l.. What is paid to the mutilated officers themselves is but half as much.
Is this justice? Is this the treatment which the officers of the navy deserve at the hands of those who call themselves his Majesty's Government? Does the country know of this injustice? Will this too be defended? If I express myself with warmth I trust in the indulgence of the House. I cannot suppress my feelings. Should 31 commissioners, commissioners' wives, and clerks have 3899l. more amongst them than all the wounded officers of the navy of England?
I find upon examination that the Wellesleys receive from the public 34,729l., a sum equal to 426 pairs of lieutenants' legs, calculated at the rate of allowance of Lieutenant Chambers's legs. Calculating for the pension of Captain Johnstone's arm, viz. 45l., Lord Arden's sinecure is equal to the value of 1022 captains' arms. The Marquis of Buckingham's sinecure alone will maintain the whole ordinary establishment of the victualling department at Chatham, Dover, Gibraltar, Sheerness, Downs, Heligoland, Cork, Malta, Mediterranean, Cape of Good Hope, Rio de Janeiro, and leave 5460l. in the Treasury. Two of these comfortable sinecures would victual the officers and men serving in all the ships in ordinary in Great Britain, viz. 117 sail of the line, 105 frigates, 27 sloops, and 50 hulks. Three of them would maintain the dockyard establishments at Portsmouth and Plymouth. The addition of a few more would amount to as much as the whole ordinary establishments of the royal dockyards at Chatham, Woolwich, Deptford, and Sheerness; whilst the sinecures and offices executed wholly by deputy would more than maintain the ordinary establishment of all the royal dockyards in the kingdom.
Even Mr. Ponsonby, who lately made so pathetic an appeal to the good sense of the people of England against those whom he was pleased to term demagogues, actually receives, for having been thirteen months in office, a sum equal to nine admirals who have spent their lives in the service of their country; three times as much as all the pensions given to all the daughters and children of all the admirals, captains, lieutenants, and other officers who have died in indigent circumstances, or who have been killed in the service.
The following letter, too long to be quoted in the body of the work, but too important to be omitted, was addressed by Lord Cochrane to the Brazilian Secretary of State. It gives memorable evidence of the treatment to which he was subjected by the Portuguese faction in Brazil.
Rio de Janeiro, May 3rd, 1824.
MOST EXCELLENT SIR,
I have received the honour of your excellency's reply to my letter of the 30th of March, and as I am thereby taught that the subjects on which I wrote are not now considered so intimately connected with your excellency's department as they were by your immediate predecessor, nor even so far relevant as to justify a direct communication to your excellency, I should feel it my duty to avoid troubling you farther on those subjects, were it not that you at the same time have freely expressed such opinions with respect to my conduct and motives as justice to myself requires me to controvert and refute.
With regard to your excellency's assurance that it has ever been the intention of his Imperial Majesty and Council to act favourably towards me, I can in return assure your excellency that I have never doubted the just and benign intention of his Imperial Majesty himself, neither have I doubted that a part of his Privy Council has thought well of my services; and if I have imagined that a majority has been prejudiced against me, I have formed that conclusion merely from the effects which I have seen and experienced, and not from any undue prepossession against particular individuals, whether Brazilian or Portuguese. But when your excellency adds that those transactions between the late minister and myself, which, owing to their having been conducted verbally, have been ill-understood, have invariably been decided in a manner favourable to me, I confess myself at a loss to understand your excellency's meaning, not having any recollection of such favourable decisions, and therefore not feeling myself competent either to admit or deny unless in the first place your excellency shall be pleased to descend to particulars. I do indeed recollect that the late ministers, professing to have the authority of his Imperial Majesty, and which, from the personal countenance I have experienced from that august personage, I am sure they did not clandestinely assume, proffered to me the command of the imperial squadron, with every privilege, emolument, and advantage which I possessed in the command of the navy of Chili; and this, your excellency is desired to observe, was not a verbal transaction, but a written one, and therefore not liable to any of those misunderstandings to which verbal transactions, as your excellency observes, are naturally subject. Now, in Chili my commission was that of commander-in-chief of the squadron, without limitation as to time or any other restriction. My command, of course, was only to cease by my own voluntary resignation, or by sentence of court-martial, or by death, or other uncontrollable event. And accordingly the appointment which I accepted in the service of his Imperial Majesty, and in virtue of which I sailed in command of the expedition to Bahia, was that of commander-in-chief of the whole squadron, without limitation as to time or otherwise; and this, too, your excellency will be pleased to observe, was not a verbal transaction, but a solemn engagement in writing, bearing date the 26th day of March, 1823, and now in my possession. I had also the assurance in writing of the Minister of Marine, that the formalities of engrossment and registration of such appointment were only deferred from want of time, and should be executed immediately after my return.
And now I most respectfully put it home to your excellency whether these engagements have or have not been fully confirmed and complied with under the present administration. I ask your excellency whether the patent which I received, bearing date the 25th November, 1823, did not contain a clause of limitation by which I might at any time be dismissed from the service under any pretence or without any pretence whatever—without even the form of a hearing in my own defence. Then again I ask your excellency whether my office as commander-in-chief of the squadron was not reduced for a period of three months—as appears by every official communication of the Minister of Marine to me during that period—to the command only of the vessels of war anchored in this port?[A] and further on this subject I ask your excellency whether after my repeated remonstrances against this injurious limitation of my stipulated authority, it was not pretended by the decree published in the Gazette of the 28th February, that I was then for the first time, as a mark of special favour, elevated to the rank of commander-in-chief of the squadron, and that too during the period only of the existing war: although nothing less than the chief command had been offered to me at the first, without any restriction as to time, and although it was only in that capacity I had consented to enter into the service, and under a written appointment as such I had then been in the service nearly twelve months. And then I ask your excellency whether the limitation introduced into the patent of the 25th of November last, in violation of the original agreement, and confirmed and defined by the decree published on the 28th of February following; to which may be added the communication which I received from your excellency, excluding me from taking the oath, and becoming a party to the constitution, the 149th article of which provides for the protection of officers until lawfully deprived by sentence of court-martial; I say that I respectfully ask your excellency whether these proceedings were not well adapted for the purpose of casting me off with the utmost facility at the earliest moment that convenience might dictate; either with or without the admission of those claims for the future to which past services are usually considered entitled, as might best suit the inclination of those with whom my dismissal might originate. And is it not most probable that their inclination would run counter to those claims, especially when it is considered that my letter of the 6th of March to the Minister of Marine, in which I made the inquiry whether my right to half-pay would be recognized on the termination of the war, has never been answered, although my application for a reply has been repeated?[B] If then the explicit engagements in writing between the late minister of his Imperial Majesty and myself have, as I have shown, been set aside by the present ministry and council, and other arrangements far less favourable to me, and destructive of the lawful security of my present and future rights, have without my consent been substituted in their stead, where, I entreat your excellency, am I to look for those favourable constructions of "ill-understood verbal transactions," which your excellency requires me to accept as a proof that the intentions of the present ministry and council, in respect to me, have ever been of the most favourable and obliging nature?
[Footnote A: This was resorted to, in order to prevent Lord Cochrane from stationing the cruisers to annoy the enemy, to deprive him of any interest in future captures, and prevent his opposition to the unlawful restoration of enemy's property.]
[Footnote B: An answer was at last given, a few days before Lord Cochrane's assistance was called for to put down the revolution at Pernambuco; and half of the originally-granted half-pay was decreed when he should return, after the termination of hostilities, to his native country.]
I would beg permission, too, to inquire how it happened that portarias[A] from the Minister of Marine, charging me unjustly from time to time with neglecting to obey the command of his Imperial Majesty, were constantly made public, while my answers in refutation were always suppressed. And why, when I remonstrated against this injustice, was I answered that the same course should be persisted in, and that I had no alternative but to acquiesce, or to descend to a newspaper controversy by publishing my exculpations myself? Is it possible not to perceive that the ex parte publication of these accusatory portarias was intended to lower me in the public estimation, and to prepare the way for the exercise of that power of summary dismissal which was so unfairly acquired by the means above described?
[Footnote A: Official communications.]
On the subject of the prizes your excellency is pleased to state: "Les difficultes survenues dans le jugement des prizes ont eu des motifs si connus et positifs qu'il est assez doloureux de les voir attribuir a la mauvaise volonte du Conseil de S.M.I." To this I reply that I know of no just cause for the delay which has arisen in the decision of the prizes, and consequently I have a right to impute blame for that delay to those who have the power to cause it or remove it. If the majority of the voices in council had been for a prompt condemnation to the captors of the prizes taken from the Portuguese nation, is it possible that individuals of that nation would be suffered to continue to be the judges of those prizes after an experience of many months has demonstrated either their determination to do nothing, or nothing favourable to the captors? The repugnance of Portuguese judges to condemn property captured from their fellow-countrymen, as a reward to those who have engaged in hostilities against Portugal, is natural enough, and is the only well-known and positive cause of the delay with which I am acquainted; but it is not such a cause for delay as ought to have been permitted to operate by the ministers and council of his Imperial Majesty, who are bound in honour and duty to act with fidelity towards those who have been engaged as auxiliaries in the attainment and maintenance of the independence of the empire. I did, however, inform your excellency that I had heard it stated that another difficulty had arisen in the apprehension that this Government might be under the necessity of eventually restoring the prizes to the original Portuguese owners as a condition of peace. But this, your excellency assures me, proves nothing but that I am a listener to "rapporteurs," whom I ought to drive from my presence. Unfortunately, however, for this bold explanation of your excellency, the individual whom I heard make the observation was no other than his excellency the present Minister of Marine, Francisco Villala Barboza. If your excellency considers that gentleman in the light of a "rapporteur," or talebearer, it is not for me to object; but the imputation of being a listener to or encourager of talebearers, so rashly advanced by your excellency against me, is without foundation in truth. It may be necessary for ministers of state to have their eavesdroppers and informers, but mine is a straightforward course, which needs no such precautions. And if there be any who volunteer information or advice, I can appreciate the value of it, and the motives of those who offer it. Those who know me much better than your excellency does, will admit that I am in the habit of thinking for myself, and not apt to act on the suggestions of others, especially if officiously tendered.
As to the successive appointment and removal of incompetent auditors of marine, for which your excellency gives credit to the council, I can only say that the benefit of such repeated changes is by no means apparent. And to revert again to the difficulty of decision, for which your excellency intimates there is sufficient cause, I beg leave to ask your excellency what just reason can exist for not condemning these prizes to the captors. Can it be denied that the orders under which I sailed for the blockade of Bahia authorized me to act hostilely against the ships and property of the crown and subjects of Portugal? Can it be denied that war was regularly declared between the two nations? Was it not even promulgated under the sanction of his Imperial Majesty in a document giving to privateers certain privileges which it is admitted were possessed by the ships of war in the making and sale of captures? And yet did not the Prize Tribunal (consisting chiefly, as I before observed, of Portuguese), on the return of the squadron, eight months afterwards, pretend to be ignorant whether his Imperial Majesty was at war or at peace with the kingdom of Portugal? And did they not under that pretence avoid proceeding to adjudication? Was not this pretence a false one, or is it one of those well-founded causes of difficulty to which your excellency alludes? Can it be denied that the squadron sailed and acted in the full expectation, grounded on the assurance and engagements of the Government, that all captures made under the flag of the enemy, whether ships of war or merchant vessels, were to be prize to the captors? and yet when the prize judges were at length under the necessity of commencing proceedings, did they not endeavour to set aside the claims of the captors by the monstrous pretence that they had no interest in their captures when made within the distance of two leagues from the shore? Will your excellency contend that this was a good and sufficient reason? Was it founded in common sense, or on any rational precedent, or indeed any precedent whatever? Was it either honest to the squadron or faithful to the country? Was it not calculated to prevent the squadron from ever again assailing an invading enemy, or again expelling him from the shores of the empire? Then, in the next place, did not these most extraordinary judges pretend that at least all vessels taken in ports and harbours should be condemned as droits to the crown, and not as prize to the captors? Was not this another most pernicious attempt to deprive the imperial squadron not only of its reward for the past but of any adequate motive for the risk of future enterprise? And in effect, were not these successive pretences calculated to operate as invitations to invasions? Did they not tend to encourage the enemy to resume his occupation of the port of Bahia, and generally to renew his aggressions against the independence of the empire on her shores and in her ports without the probability of resistance by the squadrons of his Imperial Majesty? And have not these same judges actually condemned almost every prize as a droit to the crown, thereby doing as much as in them lay to defraud the squadron and to damp its zeal and destroy its energies? Nay, have not the auditors of marine actually issued decrees pronouncing the captures made at Maranhao to have been illegal, alleging that they were seized under the Brazilian flag, although in truth the flag of the enemy was flying at the time both in the forts and ships; declaring me a violator of the law of nations and law of the land; accusing me of having been guilty of an insult to the Emperor and the empire, and decreeing costs and damages against me under these infamous pretences? Can your excellency perceive either justice or decency in these decrees? Do they in any degree breathe the spirit of gratitude for the union of so important a province to the empire, or are they at all in accordance with the distinguished approbation which his Imperial Majesty himself has evinced of my services at Maranhao?
Can it be unknown to your excellency that the late ministers, acting doubtless under the sanction of his Imperial Majesty, and assuredly under the guidance of common sense, held out that the value of ships of war taken from the enemy was to be the reward of the enterprise of the captors? And yet are we not now told that a law exists decreeing all captured men-of-war to the crown, and so rendering the engagements of the late ministers illegal and nugatory? Can anything be more contrary to justice, to good faith, to common sense, or to sound policy? Was it ever expected by any government employing foreign seamen in a war in which they can have no personal rights at stake, that those seamen will incur the risk of attacking a superior, or even an equal, force, without prospect of other reward than their ordinary pay? Is it not notorious that even in England it is found essential, or at least highly advantageous, to reward the officers and seamen, though fighting their own battles, not only with the full value of captured vessels of war, but even with additional premiums; and was it ever doubted that such liberal policy has mainly contributed to the surpassing magnitude of the naval power of that little island, and her consequent greatness as a nation?
Can your excellency deny that the delay, the neglect, and the conduct generally of the prize judges, have been the cause of an immense diminution in the value of the captures? Have not the consequences been a wanton and shameful waste of property by decay and plunder? Can your excellency really believe in the existence of a good and sufficient motive for consigning such property to destruction, rather than at once awarding it to the captors in recompense for their services to the empire? Is it not true that all control over the sales and cargoes of the vessels, most of which are without invoices, have been taken from the captors and their agents and placed in the hands of individuals over whom they have no authority or influence, and from whom they can have no security of receiving a just account? And can it be doubted that the gracious intentions of his Imperial Majesty, as announced by himself, of rewarding the captors with the value of the prizes, are in the utmost danger of being defeated by such proceedings?
Since the 12th day of February, when his Imperial Majesty was graciously pleased to signify his pleasure in his own handwriting that the prizes, though condemned to the crown, should be paid for to the captors, and that valuators should be appointed to estimate the amount, is it not true that nothing whatever, up to the date of my former letter to your excellency, had been done by his ministers and council in furtherance of such his gracious intentions? On the contrary, is it not notorious that, since the announcement of the imperial intention, numerous vessels and cargoes have been arbitrarily disposed of by authority of the auditors of marine, by being delivered to pretended owners and others without legal adjudication, and even without the decency of acquainting the captors or their agents that the property had been so transferred? And has not the whole cost of litigation, watching and guarding the vessels and cargoes, been entirely at the expense of the captors, notwithstanding the disposal of the property and the receipt of the proceeds by the agents of Government and others?
So little hope of justice has been presented by the proceedings of the Prize Tribunal, that it has appeared quite useless to label the stores found in the naval and military arsenals of Maranhao, or the 66,000 dollars in the chests of the Treasury and Custom House, with double that sum in bills, all of which was left for the use of the province, or permitted to be disbursed to satisfy the clamorous troops of Ceara and Pianhy. Has any remuneration been offered to the navy for these sacrifices, of which ministers were duly informed by my official despatches? or has any recompense been awarded for the Portuguese brig and schooner of war, both completely stored and equipped, which were surrendered at Maranhao, and which have ever since been employed in the naval service? To a proportion of all this I should have been entitled in Chili, as well as in the English service; and why, I ask, must I here be contented to be deprived of every hope of these the fruits of my labours? In addition to the prize vessels delivered to claimants without trial, have not the ministers appropriated others to the uses of the state without valuation or recompense?[A]
[Footnote A: This conduct was afterwards more flagrantly exemplified on the arrival of the new and noble prize frigate Imperatrice, the equipment whereof had cost the captors 12,000 milreas, which sum has never been returned.]
In short, is it not true that though more than a year has elapsed since the sailing of the imperial squadron under my command, and nearly half a year since its return, after succeeding in expelling the naval and military forces of the enemy from Bahia, and liberating the northern provinces, and uniting them to the empire; I say is it not true that not one shilling of prize money has yet been distributed to the squadron, and that no prospect is even now apparent of any distribution being speedily made? Is it not true that the only substantial reward of the officers and seamen of the squadron for the important services they have rendered has hitherto been nothing more than their mere pittance of ordinary pay; and even that in many instances vexatiously delayed and miserably curtailed? And with respect to myself individually, is it not notorious that I necessarily consume my whole pay in my current expenses; that my official rank cannot be upheld with less, and that it is wholly inadequate to the due support of the dignity of those high honours which his Imperial Majesty has been graciously pleased to confer?
Under all these circumstances, it is in vain that I endeavour to make that discovery which your excellency assures me requires only a moment's reflection: "Au reste" (your excellency says), "que V'e. Ex'ce. reflechisse un moment, celle trouvera que le Gouvernement de S.M.I. simplement et uniquement pour faire plaisir a V'e. Ex'ce. a s'est attire une enorme responsabilite dans les engagemens pris avec V'e. Ex'ce." It is not one moment only nor one hour that I have reflected on these words, but without making the promised discovery, or any probable guess at your excellency's meaning. I would therefore entreat your excellency to tell me what it is that the Government has engaged to do. All that I know is they have engaged to pay me a certain sum per annum as commander-in-chief of the squadron; and this engagement, I admit, they have so far fulfilled. But the amount is little more than is received by the commander-in-chief of an English squadron; and is it not found in that service, and in every regular or established naval service, that for one officer qualified for any considerable command there are probably ten that are not qualified; though all have necessarily been reared and paid at the national expense? Whereas, in this case, so far from your having been at the expense of money in order to procure a few that are effective, you obtained at once, without any previous cost whatever, the services of myself and the officers that accompanied me, all of whom were experienced and efficient. Now, the united amount of the salaries you are engaged to pay to myself and the officers whom I brought with me does not exceed 25,000 dollars a year. To speak of this as an "enormous responsibility" as an empire, requires more than a "moment's reflection" to be clearly understood. The Government did, however, engage to pay to myself and my brother officers and seamen the value of our captures from the enemy, pursuant to the practice of all maritime belligerents, but this engagement has not hitherto been fulfilled. If, however, your excellency admits the responsibility of the Government to fulfil this engagement also, I am still equally at a loss to conceive in what sense that responsibility can be considered enormous, inasmuch as these prizes were not the property of the state, nor of individuals belonging to this nation, but were the property of Portugal, with whom this nation was and is engaged in lawful war. The payment, therefore, of the value of these prizes to the captors, supposing even the full value to be paid, does not in effect take one penny out of the national treasury, or out of the pocket of any Brazilian. If it be false—and your excellency appears to scout the idea—that any danger exists of having to pay twice for these prizes; if there really is no danger of being compelled to purchase peace with a defeated enemy by restoring them their forfeited property—it follows that the responsibility of the Government in fulfilling its engagement with the captors is so far from being enormous, that it is literally nothing. How the fulfilment of a lawful engagement by the simple act of paying over to the squadron the value of its prizes taken in time of war from the foreign enemies of the state (such payment occasioning no expense, and no loss to the state itself) can be attended with an enormous responsibility, I am utterly unable to comprehend. So far as the engagements of the Government with me, or with the captors in general of the Portuguese prizes, are of a pecuniary nature, they appear to me to lay no great weight of responsibility on the herculean shoulders of this vast empire. And it is only in a pecuniary sense that I can conceive it to be possible for your excellency to have thought of complaining of the responsibility attending the fulfilment of the engagements of the Government with me.
It is no less difficult to comprehend how this supposed enormous responsibility has been incurred, "simplement et uniquement pour faire plaisir" to me; and it is still more difficult to comprehend how it happens that your excellency, "after all that you have heard and seen" (apres ce que j'ai entendu et vu), should be at a loss to know in what manner I am to be contented (je ne saurais pas dequelle maniere on puisse vous contenter). If, indeed, your excellency imagines that I ought to be contented with honorary distinctions alone, however highly I may prize them as the free gift of his Imperial Majesty; if your excellency is of opinion that I ought with "remercimens et satisfaction" to put up with those honours in lieu of those stipulated substantial rewards, which even those very honours render more necessary; if your excellency thinks that I ought, like the dog in the fable, to resign the substance for a grasp at the shadow; if this is all that your excellency knows on the subject of giving me content, it is then very true that your excellency does not know in what manner it is to be done. But if, "after all that your excellency has heard and seen," you would be pleased to render yourself conversant with those written engagements under which I was induced to enter into the service, all that your excellency and the rest of the ministers and council of his Imperial Majesty would then have to do in order to content me to the full, would be to desist from evading the performance of those engagements, and to cause them at once to be fully and honourably fulfilled. And I do believe that my "Correspondance Officielle une fais rendue publique, en faira foi;" for I am not conscious that I have ever called on the Government to incur one farthing of expense on my account beyond the fulfilment of their written engagements, which were the same as those which I had with Chili, which were formed precisely on the practice of England. There was, indeed, a verbal and conditional engagement with the late ministers that certain losses which I might incur in consequence of leaving the service of Chili should be made good;[A] and the question as to the obligation of fulfilling that engagement I submitted (in my letter of the 6th of March to the Minister of Marine) to the consideration of their successors. It will be fortunate for me if this should prove to be one of those "ill-understood verbal transactions" which your excellency assures me the present ministers and council always decide in my favour. I shall not in that case be backward to receive the benefit of the decision with "thanks and satisfaction;" but I am willing to resign it rather than it should add an overwhelming weight to that "enormous responsibility" which your excellency complains has already been incurred with a view to my contentment. I repeat that I have never asked for more than I possessed in Chili, or than any officer of the same rank is entitled to in England; though British officers have heretofore received in the service of Portugal double the amount of their English pay; and though the burning climate of Brazil is injurious to health, while those of Chili and Portugal are salubrious. Your excellency, therefore, is perfectly welcome to publish the whole of my official correspondence, because instead of proving, as your excellency asserts, the great difficulty of contenting me, it would go far to prove the much greater difficulty of inducing those with whom I have to do to take any one step for that purpose.
[Footnote A: As the Brazilian Government had obtained possession of a new corvette, named the Maria de Gloria, which cost the Government of Chili 90,000 dollars, without reimbursing to that State one single farthing; and by the said act had deprived Lord Cochrane of the benefit he would have derived, as commander-in-chief, from the services of that ship in the Pacific, the non-fulfilment of this engagement seems the more unjust.]
I confess, however, that in order to content me effectually it is necessary to fulfil not only all written engagements with myself individually, but generally with all the officers and seamen with whom, while I hold the command, I consider myself identified; and the more particularly because, in my own firm reliance on the good faith of the Government, I did in some sort become responsible for that good faith to my brother officers and seamen. But with whom, I put it to your excellency, has good faith been kept? Is it not notorious that previous to the departure of the expedition to Bahia, declarations were made to the seamen in writing by the late Minister of Marine, through my medium, and in printed proclamations, that their dues should be paid with all possible regularity, and all their arrears discharged immediately on their return? And is not your excellency aware that specific contracts were entered into by the accredited agent of his Imperial Majesty in England, with a number of officers and seamen, who, in consequence, were induced to quit their native country and enter into the employ of his Imperial Majesty? Can it be denied that these declarations and contracts, written and printed, were known to, and are actually in the possession of the ministers, or in the hands of the officers of the pay department, and yet is it not true that they were neglected to be fulfilled for a period of upwards of three months after the return of the Pedro Primiero; and was not the tardy fulfilment which at length took place procured by my incessant representations and remonstrances?
Permit me also to ask whether the good effects of prompt payment were not illustrated on the arrival of the frigates Nitherohy and Caroline, which happened just at the period I had succeeded in procuring payment to be made. Was it not in consequence of immediate payment that the greater part of the English crew of the Nitherohy remained quietly on board, and are now actually engaged on an important service to his Imperial Majesty? And, on the other hand, is it not equally true that the English seamen of the Pedro Primiero were so disheartened and disgusted with the long delay which in their case had occurred, and the manifest bad faith which had been evinced, that by far the greater part of them actually abandoned the ship? And generally, is it not true that the violations of promise, the obstructions of justice, and the arbitrary acts of severity, have produced dissatisfaction and irritation in the minds of the officers and seamen, and done infinite prejudice to the service of his Imperial Majesty and to the interests and prospects of the empire?
Can it be denied that the treatment to which the officers are exposed is in the highest degree cruel and unjust? Have they not in many instances been confined in a fortress or prison-ship without being told who is their accuser or what is the accusation? And are they not kept for many months at a time in that cruel state of suspense and restraint without the means or opportunity of justification or defence? Have not some of them while incarcerated in the fortress of the Island of Cobras been deprived of their pay for a great length of time, and even denied the provisions necessary for their subsistence? And if, after all, they are brought to trial, are not their judges composed of the natives of a nation with whom they are at war? Is it possible that English, or other foreign officers in the service, can be satisfied with such a system? Can your excellency entertain a doubt, that open accusation, prompt trial, unsuspected justice, and speedy punishment, if merited, are essential to the good government of a naval service? Nay, is it possible that your excellency should not know that the system of government in the naval service of Portugal is the most wretched in the world, and consequently the last that ought to have been adopted for the naval service of Brazil?
And here I would respectfully ask your excellency whether you know of any one thing recommended by me for the benefit of the naval service being complied with? Have the laws been revised to adapt them to the better government of the service? Has a corps of marine artillery been formed and taught their duty? Have young gentlemen intended for officers been sent on board to learn their profession? Have young men been enlisted and sent on board to be bred up as seamen? Or has any encouragement been given to the employment of Brazilians in the commerce of the coast?[A]
[Footnote A: It was the policy of Portugal to navigate the coasting-trade of Brazil by slaves; and that of Spain to allow none but Indians to exercise the trade of fishermen on the shores of their South American colonies.]
With regard to those difficulties, delays, and other impediments of which I have complained as existing in the arsenal and other offices, and which your excellency supposes me to have represented as being caused, or at least tolerated, by the minister, and which you are pleased to characterise as "tout a fait imaginaires, et n'ayant d'outre source que l'ambition sordide de quelque intrigant," I shall not now enter into them again at any length, as much that I have already written tends to refute your excellency's notions on the subject. That such abuses do really exist I have proved beyond the power of contradiction; and that they are at least tolerated by those—whoever they may be—who possess without exercising the means of preventing, does not require the ingenuity of an "intrigant" to discover, as the fact is self-evident. I cannot, therefore, admit that either my complaints or suspicions are "tout a fait imaginaires," or that they are "des petitesses," as your excellency is pleased contemptuously to term them; but whatever they are, they originate in my own observation, without any assistance from the spectacles of an "intrigant," with which I am so gratuitously accommodated by your excellency.
In still further proof, however, of the real existence of the evils in question, I may just observe that since the return of the Pedro Primiero, that ship has been kept in constant disorder by the delay in commencing and the idle and negligent mode of executing even the trifling alterations in the channels, which were necessary to enable the rigging to be set up, and which, after the lapse of upwards of five months, is now scarcely finished, though it might have been accomplished in forty-eight hours. Even the time of caulking was spun out to a period nearly as long as was occupied last year in the accomplishment of that thorough repair which the ship then underwent; and the painting is far from being completed after sixteen or eighteen days' labour, though a British ship of war is usually painted in a day. Even my own cabin is in such a state that when I am on board I have no place to sit down in. All these things may appear to your excellency as "des petitesses," or even "tout a fait imaginaires," but to me they appear matters of a serious nature, injurious and disgraceful to the service.
I may not, perhaps, succeed in convincing your excellency, but I have the satisfaction of being inwardly conscious that, independent of my natural desire to obtain justice for myself and for all the officers and men of the squadron, no small part of my anxiety for the fulfilment of the engagements of the Government proceeds from a desire to see the navy of his Imperial Majesty rendered efficient; which it can never be unless the same good faith is observed with the officers and men as is kept between the Government and navy of England, and unless indeed many other important considerations are attended to, which appear to have hitherto escaped the regard of the Imperial Government. Why, for instance, is there that indifference in regard to the clothing of the men? What but discontent, debasement, and enervation, can be the effects of that ragged and almost naked condition in which they have so long been suffered to remain, notwithstanding the numerous applications that have been made for the necessary clothing? I would also inquire the reason that officers and men, strangers to each other, and destitute of attachment and mutual confidence, are hastily shipped together in vessels of war going on active service, when better arrangements might easily be made. What can be expected from the vessels of war just gone out, in case they should meet with any serious opposition, but disgrace to those by whom they were so imperfectly and improperly equipped?
If this communication were not already too long, or if, after the letter I have received from your excellency, it were possible for me to continue my representations in the hope of redress, I could add to the list of those causes of complaint which I have already pointed out many particulars which none but those who are blindly attached to that wretched system which has been so injurious to the marine and kingdom of Portugal could consider either trifling or imaginary. But as my present object has been chiefly to repel those imputations in which your excellency has so freely indulged, and believing that I have fully succeeded in that object, and have shown clearly that your excellency has unjustly and untruly accused me of encouraging talebearers, making unfounded complaints, and of being of a nature so avaricious as never to be satisfied—which latter, by-the-by, is an extraordinary accusation to prefer against me—a man whom your excellency must know has not hitherto been benefited, after being more than a year in the service, to the amount of one shilling for the important services he has rendered, but who, on the contrary, as he can show by his accounts, has necessarily expended more in his official situation than he has received in the service; so that the "remercimens" and the "satisfaction," which your excellency accuses him of being deficient in, can scarcely yet be due, unless it is proper to be satisfied and grateful too for less than nothing—having, I say, fully repelled and refuted these unjust accusations, I shall avoid troubling your excellency with any further detail. But I repeat that your excellency has my free consent to cause the whole of my official correspondence to be published; for in all that I have advanced with respect to the violations of contracts, and on the subject of the unsatisfied claims of the squadron, and relative to the ill-usage of officers under arrest, and to the misconduct of the judges of prizes, and of those who have the management of the civil department of the marine,[A] and in all matters whatever in question between the Government of Brazil and myself, I am confident I may safely rely on the decision of the public. And if, at the same time, your excellency can give a satisfactory explanation of the motives of that line of conduct on the part of the ministers and council, which, without such explanation, would have the appearance of originating in bad faith, the publication would be doubly beneficial by placing the conduct and character of all parties in a proper point of view.
[Footnote A: Also Portuguese.]
I have the honour to be, Most excellent sir, Your respectful and most obedient Servant, COCHRANE AND MARANHAM.
His Excellency, Joao Sereriano Maciele da Costa, Secretary of State for the Home Department, &c., &c., &c.
END OF VOL. I.
LONDON: PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.