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the Red, while further honours were conferred on Sir George Byng and other officers of naval worth.

The command of the fleet for the Baltic was given to Sir Charles Wager, who had under him Sir George Walton. On the 6th of May they anchored near Stockholm. On the 14th

of the same month, a fleet of Danish ships sailed from Copenhagen to join the British squadron. News reached Sir Charles that a Russian fleet was in the Cronslot roads, and others were in readiness to join them. The admiral speedily sent a royal notice to acquaint them that his Britannic majesty was perfectly alive to the position they maintained upon the northern seas, and warned them to show respect to those to whom respect was due.

In 1733, Admiral Wager took his proper place at the Board of Admiralty, which high office he continued to hold with much reputation and unbending integrity till the 19th of March, 1741, when he was made treasurer for the royal navy. In the month of May, 1743, Sir Charles departed this life in the 79th year of his age. On the monument in Westminster Abbey, (erected to his memory by a private friend,) we find the following tribute to his public and private character:

"To the Memory of


First Commissioner of the Admiralty, and Privy Councillor : A man of great natural talents, improved by industry and experience; who bore the highest commands,

and passed through the greatest employments with credit to
himself and honour to his country.
He was, in his private life,

in public station,


easy of access to all; steady and resolute in his conduct; so remarkably happy in his presence of mind, that no danger ever discomposed him:

Esteemed and favoured by his king, beloved and honoured by his


he died the 24th of May,


aged seventy-nine."

That Admiral Wager was a firm defender of British ocean sway, the empress Catherine of Russia was compelled to acknowledge. After the death of Peter, she collected armies

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and fleets, and for what no one knew; but Wager made the Czarina dismantle all her war-ships in the Baltic, and pay proper homage to the British flag in all her maritime affairs."

That successful and eminent naval commander, introduced to the reader on the opening of George the First's new naval administration as Sir George Byng, was a sharer in many of the exploits and arduous national undertakings of Sir Charles Wager.

Mr. John Byng, of Wrotham, in Kent, was looked upon as a respectable yeoman of fortune. Our hero, Sir George, was his eldest son, and was born on the 27th of January, 1663. He went to sea at the age of fifteen. In 1681, he quitted the sea service, and joined the army as a cadet in the Grenadiers belonging to the garrison of Tangier. He was promoted shortly to the rank of lieutenant; but his prevailing turn of mind led him back

"To the billowy main,"

and in 1684 we find him recorded as a lieutenant in the royal navy, under Captain Tyrrel. His undaunted valour during a voyage to the East Indies, and in other naval enterprises, gained him quick promotion; and in 1690, he commanded the Hope of 70 guns, in the battle off Beachy Head, and at once established his fame as a commander. As the expeditions wherein the naval tactics of Sir George Byng was used to advantage both for his own fame, and for the benefit of his country, we must now take a brief sketch of naval affairs, dating from the fifth year of the reign of George the Third.

The king of Spain having sent out an army with the avowed intention of besieging Sicily, the British government resolved to give protection to the house of Austria, and to defend the principles of neutrality with regard to Italy; and therefore, Admiral Byng was requested to fit out a sail of twenty ships of the line. On the 3rd of June, 1718, he sailed with his force of war-vessels from Spithead, and made the bay of Cadiz on the 24th, and directly sent a message and a letter from the English government to the king of Spain, informing him that he (the admiral) should act up to the spirit of his instructions, and that his guns would without any further warning open fire upon any fleet sailing under Spanish colours, for the purpose of destroying the peace of the Italian states.

To this notice of opposition, the Spanish king replied, "Let the English war-dog bark according to his orders: I shall not be ruled by him!" On this head, Byng sailed for Naples to watch proceedings.

The English fleet had not been long in the neighbouring seas before they discovered two vessels bearing the Spanish

flag; they pursued, and very shortly observed the fleet of the Spaniards off Messina, formed in a line of battle. Don Antonio Castanela had the command; and, upon seeing the British fleet, he made sail with the wind abaft the beam, but in the proper order of battle. The Argyle, commanded by Captain Norbury, a 50-gun ship, received a broadside from the enemy, and Byng instantly acted on the defensive. The destructive fire of the British squadron scattered them like chaff; several of their vessels were utterly destroyed, and among the number was an admiral's ship of great build and strength. For these daring feats, Admiral Byng received the thanks of the king and the government.

On the 17th of December, war was formally declared against Spain, and in the following year Admiral Byng and his fleet besieged and possessed themselves of Messina; and when once landed, with the aid of the Austrian troops, chased the Spaniards from the island, and pursuing them by sea, on their homebound track, not a Spanish flag could be seen on the main for some time after. This decided expulsion of the Spaniards, added to former victorious conduct, obtained for Byng the confidence and respect of government, and he was in 1719, created Viscount Torrington.


If we now take a retrospective glance at Mr. Byng, the young junior lieutenant of 1681, what a picture we have of the fruits of perseverance and steady valour! Even in the youth of fifteen, when he left his father's house at Wrotham, and exchanged the comforts of a good home, and the endearing smile of affectionate parents, for a ship upon the waters, and the company of daring mariners, we see the spark of the future blaze. The resolute will is there, the young unchained eagle is putting forth his wing for flight-determination, in his eye, is not a mockery of his inner courage-ships of mighty burthen were that boy's thoughtful playground-cannons were his toys his dreams in the midshipman's hammock were of besieged towns and yielding citadels and the roaring of the ocean was to him the sweetest music. And let us not forget that in all this there was a nobleness of purpose. Albion was his native land-it was the home for the defence of which he had resolved to devote his life. Give the downy bed to those who have no higher aim: the soul of young Byng impelled him onward; the ray of glory that looked into his youthful fancy from out of the future was, England had need of warriors-he felt the call to that high post of honour-labour on the ocean presented no obstacle-he might have been an idler -danger could not daunt him-he was born for it-his crown of triumph was to be nothing less, and nothing more, than that of a true British sailor.

On the 9th of September, 1721, Admiral Byng was created a peer of the realm, by the titles of Baron Southhill and Viscount Torrington. In 1725, when the ancient order of the Bath was revived, he was installed as a knight companion; he was subsequently appointed First Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty, and that high office he held at the time of his death, which took place on the 17th of January, 1732, in his 70th year. He left behind him, at home and abroad, the character of a great warrior, a kind friend, and an honest


"Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime;
And, departing, leave behind us,
Footsteps on the sands of Time.
Footprints that, perchance, another,
Sailing o'er life's troubled main,'
A forlorn and shipwreck'd brother
Seeing, shall take heart again."

In order that the reader may not lose sight of the principal features of our endeavour in this condensed work, and that more particularly the young reader may here have a complete digest of the moving panorama of British naval history, we must not overlook the intimate connection existing between the royal declarations of war, the motions of naval committees in the houses of Parliament, and the sayings and doings of the Lords of the Admiralty.

On the 20th of January, 1726, His Majesty opened the Parliament in person, and in his speech from the throne took a general notice of the critical state of Europe, and of the measures he had taken, as well as those he intended to put in practice, for the stability of the throne, and the strength of the empire. In accordance with the king's views, the House of Commons resolved that ten thousand men be employed for the sea service for the year 1726, at four pounds a man per month. On the 23rd of February they resolved that £212,381 5s. be granted for the ordinary service of the navy for the same year. The king, however, considered this provision inadequate to meet the maritime affairs of the nation, as matters then stood in Europe, and he addressed (on the 24th of March) a letter to Parliament, asking for a greater naval force, with adequate means. This, to some extent, was granted.

On the 17th of January, in the year following, Parliament again assembled for business; and on the 23rd came to a resolution that twenty thousand men should be allowed for the sea service, at the rate of four pounds per month each man; and a few days after this, they granted £19,971 for the ordinary use of the royal navy.

In May a British fleet was sent to Russia, demanding explanations on certain matters; and in June, 1727, George the First departed this life, in the thirteenth year of his reign, which opens to us fresh pages in England's eventful naval history. The king died at Osnaburgh, aged sixty-seven.

George the Second ascended the throne of Great Britain in the year 1727, in the forty-fourth year of his age. Every power in Europe was at peace; still, there was not wanting embers sufficient among some of them to give an idea of coming events."


At this period the English navy was very complete—in fact, formidable. Nothing, however, occurred of importance until about the year 1735, and at that time the navy consisted of ninety-two men-of-war, sixty of which were of the line. In the year following, a misunderstanding took place between the courts of Spain and Portugal; and the latter applied to Great Britain for protection: and not turning a deaf ear to people in distress, we sent over Sir John Norris with a powerful fleet; and on the 9th of June he was hailed as their deliverer, and Lisbon rung the bells of her old cathedrals and churches for very joy! The effect of Sir John's presence was all that could have been desired. The detail of minor matters we must leave, and pass on to the year 1739, when Admiral Vernon sailed for the West Indies with nine men-of-war. But here we must consider the various traits that are left us, biographically, of Edward Vernon.

Admiral Vernon was descended from a very ancient and respectable family, early settlers in England after the Norman Conquest. Some of his ancestors figure in the peerage of early times. He was born at Westminster on the 12th of November, 1684. His father was for some time Secretary of State, under William and Mary. This being said, the reader will not need further proof of the highly respectable station in life of his family connexions and friends from youth upward. His first sea journey was made under Vice-admiral Hopson, when the French fleet and Spanish galleons were destroyed in the harbour of Vigo. In 1702, he served in the expedition to the West Indies, and in 1704 in the fleet which conveyed the king of Spain to Lisbon, when that monarch presented him with a valuable ring, and one hundred guineas; and on the 13th of August, in the same year, he was present in the battle off Malaga.

On the 22nd of January, 1706, Vernon was promoted to the rank of post-captain, and appointed to the command of the Dolphin. In May, 1711, during a cruise that he made to the windward of Jamaica, he took captive a French war vessel and one hundred and twenty men.

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