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LINES TO LORD MANSFIELD.
turning with a smile of joy to Sir Charles Douglas, he cried out: 'Now, my dear friend, I am at the service of your Greeks and
I Trojans, and the whole of Homer's Iliad, or as much of it as you please, for the enemy is in confusion, and our victory is secure.' This anecdote, correctly as I relate it, I had from the gallant officer, untimely lost to his country, whose candor scorned to rob his admiral of one leaf of his laurels, and who, disclaiming all share in the manoeuvre, nay, confessing he had objected to it, did in the most pointed and decided terms again and again repeat his honorable attestations of the courage and conduct of his commanding officer on that memorable day.
In a short time after, when, upon a change of the administration, this victorious admiral was superseded and called home, he confirmed by his practice that maxim, which he took every opportunity to inculcate (and a very wise one and well worthy of being recorded it is), viz: "That our naval officers have nothing to do with parties and politics, being simply bound to carry their instructions into execution to the best of their abili. ties, without deliberating about men and measures, which forms no part of their duty, and for which they are in no degree responsible.' It was to this transaction I alluded in the fol- . lowing lines, which I wrote and inclosed to Lord Mansfield about this time. I had the honor and happiness of enjoying his society frequently, but the immediate reason for my addressing him in this style has no connection with the subject here referred to :
TO THE EARL OF MANSFIELD.
1 "The party prejudice against him,' says Mahon, ‘may be forgiven in a landsman like Burke; less readily in that experienced Admiral to whom the naval administration was intrusted. Lord Keppel, whom we have seen so keenly sensitive to any supposed slight or disparagement to himself, appears to have acted with the coldest disdain, with the most unjustifiable severity towards an officer, it may be said without offence, greatly his superior in professional renown. Not only did he decide on recalling Rodney from the post he so ably filled, but he did so without an expression of kindness or concern; he did so, not even in his own hand or name, but in a dry official letter from his secretary, Mr. Stephens. That letter of revocation bears date the 1st of May. But even before that date, Rodney, by the blessing of Providence, had secured to all ages his country's glory and his own, and turned the Rockingham minister, however unwillingly, from his contemptuous recall to his promotion and his praise.'-History of England, vol. vii. p. 172,
When France and Spain the subject ocean swept,
Still there is one exception we must own,
LINES TO LORD MANSFIELD.
His is the happy gift, the nameless grace,
Mission to Spain-Occasion and incidents of–Storm at sea-Sea fight-Mr.
Lucas-A prize-Sea song--Arrival at Lisbon-Letters to Hillsborough-Visit to Cintra-Sets out for Spain-Incidents of the journey-Appearance of the country-Arrival at Madrid.
It is in this period of my life's history, that by accepting a commission which took me into Spain, I was subjected to events that have very strongly contrasted and changed the complexion of my latter days from that of the preceding ones.
I will relate no other circumstances of this negotiation than I am in honor and strict conscience warranted to make public. For more than twenty years I have been silent, making no appeals at any time but to my official employers, who were pledged to do me justice. What I gained by those appeals, and how far that justice was administered to me, will appear from the detail, which I am now about to give; and though I hope to render this narrative not unentertaining to my readers, yet I do most faithfully assure them that no tittle of the truth shall be sacrificed to description, being resolved to give no color to facts and events, but such as they can strictly bear, nor ever knowingly permit a word to stand in these pages inconsistent with that veracity, to which I am so solemnly engaged.
In the year 1780, and about the time of Rodney's capture of the Caracca fleet, I had opportunities of discovering through a secret channel of intelligence many things passing, and some concerting between the confidential agents of France and Spain (particularly the latter), resident in this country, and in private correspondence with the enemies of it. Of these communications I made that use which my duty dictated, and to my judg. ment seemed advisable. By these, in the course of their progress, a prospect was opened of a secret negotiation with the Minister Florida Blanca, to which I was personally committed, and of course could not decline the undertaking it. My destination was to repair to the neutral port of Lisbon, there to abide whilst the Abbé Hussey, chaplain to his Catholic Majesty, proceeded to Aranjuez, and by the advice, which he should send me, I was to be governed in the alternative of either going into
MISSION TO SPAIN.
Spain for the purpose of carrying my instructions into execution, or of returning home by the same ship that conveyed me thither, which was ordered to wait my determination for the space of three weeks, unless dismissed or employed by me within that period.
I was to take my wife and two daughters Elizabeth and Sophia with me on the pretence of travelling into Italy upon a passport through the Spanish dominions, and having received my instructions and letters of accreditation from the Earl of Hillsborough, Secretary of State, on the 17th day of April, 1780, I took my departure for Portsmouth, there to embark on board his majesty's frigate Milford, which I had particularly asked for, as knowing her character to be that of a remarkable swift sailer. On my arrival at Portsmouth, I found she had gone out upon a short cruise after a French privateer, but was expected every hour. On the 21st she came in from her cruise, and I delivered to her captain, Sir William Burnaby, two letters from the Admiralty, one directing him to receive me and my family on board, the other to be opened when he came off the Start-point.
This frigate, being from long and constant service in a weak and leaky state, on which account Sir William had lately brought her into port, and undergone a court martial in consequence of it, I found him and his officers under some alarm as to the unknown extent of my destination, suspecting that I might be bound to the West Indies, and justly doubting the seaworthiness of the ship for any distant voyage. On this point I could give them no satisfaction, but on the day following her arrival (viz: April 22d), went on board to assist in adjusting the accommodations for the females of my family.
In consequence of strong and adverse winds we remained at Spithead till the 28th, when at eight o'clock in the morning we weighed anchor with the wind at south, and brought to at Cowes. Here I fixed three double-headed shot to the box that contained my papers and instructions, and the wind still hang. ing in the southwest, foul and unfavorable, it was not till the 2d of May, when, upon its veering to the northeast, we took our departure in the forenoon from Cowes, and upon its dying away, anchored in mid-channel for the night in 20 fathom water, Needle-rocks S. W. by W., Yarmouth S. E. by S.
Being off the Start-point on the 3d instant, Sir William Burnaby opened his orders, and with great satisfaction found his destination to be to Lisbon; we saw a large fleet to westward at the Start-point, which proved to be the Quebec trade outwardbound under convoy. On the 6th, having passed the Land'send, we found the foremast sprung below the trussel-trees, and