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personal chattels, without those forms, solemnities, and expenses, which the law requires in other cases. Our law does not indeed extend this privilege so far as the civil law, which carried it to an extreme bordering upon the ridiculous; for if a soldier in the article of death, wrote anything in bloody letters on his shield, or scratched with his sword, in the dust or sand, it was held valid as a good military testament.
The maritime state is nearly allied to the former, though much more agreeable to the principles of our free constitution. The royal navy of England has ever been its best defence and ornament; its ancient and natural strength; the floating bulwark of the island; an army, from which, however strong and powerful, no danger to liberty can be apprehended, and accordingly it has ever been assiduously cultivated, even from the
earliest ages. 66 According to the Welsh Triads," says Southey," the
earliest name by which Britain was known was Clas Merddiu, the seadefended spot: such an appellation may seem to have been prophetic. But the sea defends no people who cannot defend themselves and it was with this feeling, that Wordsworth, the great poet of his age, poured forth a lofty strain, when looking from a valley near Dover, towards the coast of France, and the span of waters which separated us from our then most formidable neighbour, Napoleon Buonaparte: he said,
'Even so does God protect us, if we be
Virtuous and wise! Winds blow, and waters roll,
With all the ports of the continent in his possession, and all its navies at his command, that narrow channel, that' span of waters,' was found impassable by the most ambitious, the most powerful, the most enterprising, and the most inveterate enemy with whom this nation was ever engaged in war." Great Britain had manfully won and victoriously maintained the dominion of the sea, and to so much perfection was our naval reputation arrived in the twelfth century, that the code of maritime laws, called the laws of Oleron, as compiled by Richard I. at that island on his way to Palestine, have been received by all the nations of Europe as the ground of all their marine constitutions.
Many laws have been made for the supply of the royal navy with seamen, for their regulation when on board, and to confer privileges and rewards on them during and after their service;* some of which are as follow :—
1. Officers are to cause public worship, according to the liturgy of the church of England, to be solemnly performed in their ships, and to take care that prayers and preaching, by the chaplains, be performed diligently, and that the Lord's day be observed. 2. Persons guilty
* 13 Car. II., c. 9. 22 Geo. II., c. 22. 19 Geo, III., c. 17.
of profane oaths, cursing, drunkenness, uncleanness, &c., to be punished as a court martial thinks fit. 3. If any person shall give or hold intelligence to or with the enemy without leave, he shall suffer death. 4. If any letter or message from an enemy be conveyed to any in the fleet, and he shall not in twelve hours acquaint his superior officer with it, or if the superior officer, being acquainted therewith, shall not reveal it to the commander-in-chief, the offender shall suffer death, or such punishment as a court martial shall impose. 5. Spies and persons endeavouring to corrupt any one in the fleet, shall suffer death, or such punishment as a court-martial shall impose. 6. No person shall relieve an enemy with money, victuals, er ammunition, on like penalty. 7. All papers taken on board a prize shall be sent to the court of admiralty, &c., on penalty of forfeiting the share of the prize, and such punishment as a court martial shall impose. 8. No person shall take out of any prize any money or goods, unless for better securing the same, or for the necessary use of any of his majesty's ships, before the prize shall be condemned, upon penalty of forfeiting his share, and such punishment as shall be imposed by a court martial. 9. No person on board a prize shall be stripped of his clothes, pillaged, beaten, or ill-treated, on pain of such punishment as a court martial shall impose. 10. Every commander, who, upon signal or order for fight, or sight of any ship which it may be his duty to engage, or who, upon likelihood of engagement, shall not make necessary preparations for fight, and encourage the inferior officers and men to fight, shall suffer death, or such punishment as a court martial shall deem him to deserve. And if any person shall treacherously or cowardly yield or cry for quarter, he shall suffer death, 11. Every person who shall not obey the orders of his superior officer in time of action, tu the best of his power, shall suffer death, or such punishment as a court martial shall deem him to deserve. 12. Every person who, in time of action, shall withdraw or keep back, or not come into the fight, or do his utmost to take or destroy any ship which it shall be his duty to engage, and to assist every ship of his majesty or his allies, which it shall be his duty to assist, shall suffer death. 13. Every person who through cowardice, &c., shall forbear to pursue the chase of an enemy, or shall not assist or relieve a known friend in view to the utmost of his power, shall suffer death. 14. If any person shall delay or discourage any action or service commanded, upon pretence of arrears of wages, or otherwise, he shall suffer death, or such punishment as a court martial shall deem him to deserve. 15. Every person who shall desert to the enemy, or run away with any ship, ordnance, &c., to the weakening of the service, or yield up the same cowardly or treacherously to the enemy, shall suffer death. 16. Every person who shall desert, or entice others to do so, shall suffer death, or such punishment as a court martial shall think fit. If any commanding officer shall receive a deserter, after discovering him to be such, and shall not with speed give notice to the captain of the ship to which he belongs; or if the ship is at a considerable distance, to the secretary of the admiralty or commander-in-chief, he shall be cashiered. 17. Officers or seamen of ships appointed for convoy of merchant ships, or of any other, shall diligently attend upon that charge according to their instructions; and whosoever shall not faithfully perform their duty, and defend the ships in their convoy, or refuse to fight in their defence, or run away cowardly, and submit the ships in their convoy to hazard, or exact any reward for convoying any ship, or misuse the master or mariners, shall make reparation of damages as the court of admiralty shall adjudge, and be punished criminally by death, or other punishment, as shall be adjudged by a court martial. 18. If any officer shall receive or permit to be received on board, any goods or merchandise, other than for the sole use of the ship, except gold, silver, or jewels, and except goods belonging to any ship which may be shipwrecked, or in danger thereof, in order to the preserving them for the owners, and except goods ordered to be received by the lord high admiral, &c., he shall be cashiered and rendered incapable of farther service. 19. Any person making, or endeavouring to make any mutinous assembly, shall suffer death. Any person uttering words of sedition or mutiny, shall suffer death, or such punishment as a court martial shall deem him to deserve. If any officer, mariner, or soldier, in or belonging to the fleet, shall behave himself with contempt to his superior officer, being in the execution of his office, he shall be punished according to the nature of his offence by the judgment of a court martial. 20. Any person concealing any traitorous or mutinous practice or design, shall suffer death, or such punishment as a court
martial shall think fit. Any person concealing any traitorous or mutinous words, or any words, practice, or design, tending to the hinderance of the service, and not forthwith revealing the same to the commanding officer, or being present at any mutiny or sedition, shall not use his utmost endeavours to suppress the same, shall be punished as a court martial thinks he deserves. 21. Any person finding cause of complaint of the unwholesomeness of victuals, or upon other just ground, shall quietly make the same known to his superior, who us far as he is able, shall cause the same to be presently remedied; and no person upon any such or other pretence shall attempt to stir up any disturbance, upon pain of such punishment as a court martial shall think fit to inflict. 22. Any person striking any his superior officer, or drawing or offering to draw or lift up any weapon against him, being in the execution of his fice, shall suffer death. And any person presuming to quarrel with any his superior officer, being in the execution of his office, or disobeying any lawful command of any his superior officer, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as shall be inflicted upon him by a court martial. 23. Any person quarrelling or fighting with any other person in the fleet, or using reproachful or provoking speeches or gestures, shall suffer such punishment as a court martial shall impose. 24. There shall be no wasteful expense, or embezzlement of any powder, shot, &c., upon penalty of such punishment as by a court martial shall be found just. 25. Every person burning or setting fire to any magazine or store of powder, ship, &c., or furniture thereunto belonging, not then appertaining to an enemy, shall suffer death. 26. Care is to be taken, that through wilfulness or negligence no ship be stranded, run upon rocks or sands, or split or hazarded, upon pain of death, or such punishment as a court martial shall deem the offence to deserve. 27. No person shall sleep upon his watch, or negligently perform his duty, or forsake his station, upon pain of death, or such punishment, &c. 28. Murder; 29. Buggery or sodomy; 30. And robbery, shall be punished with death, or otherwise, &c. 31. Every person knowingly making or signing, or commanding, counselling, or procuring the making or signing any false muster, shall be cashiered, and rendered incapable of farther employment. 32. Provost marshal refusing to apprehend or receive any criminal, or suffering him to escape, shall suffer such punishment as a court martial shall deem him to deserve. And all others shall do their endeavours to detect and apprehend all offenders, upon pain of being punished by a court martial. 33. If any flag officer, captain, commander, or lieutenant, shall behave in a scandalous, infamous, cruel, oppressive, or fraudulent manner, unbecoming his character, he shall be dismissed. 34. Every person in actual service and full pay, guilty of mutiny, desertion, or disobedience, in any part of his majesty's service on shore when on actual service, relative to the fleet, shall be liable to be tried by a court martial, and suffer the like punishment as if the offence had been committed at sea. 35. Every person in active service and full pay, committing upon shore, in any place out of his majesty's dominions, any crime punishable by these articles, shall be liable to be tried and punished, as if the crime had been committed at sea. 36. All other crimes not capital, not mentioned in this act, shall be punished according to the laws and customs used at sea. No person to be imprisoned longer than two years. Court martial not to try any offence (except the 5th, 34th, and 35th articles) not committed upon the main sea, or in any great rivers beneath the bridges, or in any haven, &c., within the jurisdiction of the admiralty, or by persons in actual service and full pay, except such persons and offences, as in the 5th article, nor to try a land officer or soldier on board a transport ship. The lord high admiral, &c. may grant commissions to any officer commanding in chief in any fleet, &c., to call courts martial, consisting of commanders and captains. And if the commander-in-chief shall die or be removed, the officer next in command may call courts martial. No commander-in-chief of a fleet, &c., of more than five ships, shall preside at any court martial in foreign parts, but the officer next in command shall preside. If a commander-in-chief shall detach any part of his fleet, &c., he may empower the chief commander of the detachment to hold courts martial during the separate service. If five or more ships shall meet in foreign parts, the senior officer may hold courts martial and preside thereat. When it is improper for the officer next to the commander-in-chief to hold or preside at a court martial, the third officer in command may be empowered to preside, &c. No court martial shall consist of more than thirteen, or less than five persons. When there shall not be less than three, and yet not so many as five, of
the degree of a post captain or superior rank, the officer who is to preside may call to his assistance as many commanders under the degree of a post captain, as, together with the post captains shall make up the number five, to hold the court martial After trial begun, no member of a court martial shall go on shore, until sentence, except in case of sickness. upon pain of being cashiered. Proceedings shall not be delayed, if a sufficient number remain to compose the court, which shall sit from day to day (except Sundays) till sentence be given. The judge, advocate, and all officers constituting a court martial, shall be rapam oath. Persons refusing to give evidence shall be imprisoned. Sentence of death within th narrow seas (except in case of mutiny) shall not be put in execution till a report be made t. the lord high admiral, &c. Sentence of death beyond the narrow seas shall not be put in execution but by order of the commander-in-chief of the fleet, &c. Sentence of death in any squadron detached from the fleet, shall not be put in execution (except in case of mutim but by order of the commander of the fleet, or lord high admiral, &c. And sentence of death passed in a court martial held by the senior officers of five or more ships met in foreign parts (except in case of mutiny) shall not be put in execution but by order of the lord high admiral, &c.
The royal navy of Great Britain is now in a very flourishing condition, having been diligently maintained in preceding reigns as the natural strength of the kingdom. Anciently there were three or four admirals appointed for the British seas, all of whom held their office during the king's pleasure, and each of them having particular limits under his government; as the admirals of the fleet commanded all the ships from the mouth of the Thames northward, southward, and westward. Besides these, there were admirals of the Cinque Ports: sometimes one admiral has commanded to the north, south, and west, at once; but the title of admiral of England was not customary till the reign of Henry IV., when the king's brother had that title bestowed on him. In former times, before the word admiral was introduced, the supreme naval officer was called custos maris, or the king's lieutenant-general of the sea.
Of the rank of admiral there are three degrees: viz. admiral, viceadmiral, and rear- admiral. Each of these degrees, consists of three divisions, each having a different coloured flag; hence all admirals assume the common title of flag officer, and take rank and command in the following order: admirals of the red, of the white, and of the blue squadrons, and each bears their respective flags at the main top gallant mast head; vice-admirals of each of the flags, bearing their respective flags at the fore top gallant mast head; and the rear-admirals, bearing their respective flags at the mizen top gallant mast head.
The admiral of the fleet is a mere honorary distinction, which gives no command. It is sometimes conferred, but not always, on the senior admiral on the list of naval officers. If he should happen to serve afloat, he is entitled to bear the union flag at the main top gallant mast head, which the present king, who was at that time duke of Clarence and admiral of the fleet, did, when he escorted Louis XVIII. across the channel in 1814, to take possession of the throne of France.
The lord high admiral of England is an ancient officer of high rank in the state, in whom not only the government of the navy is vested, but who, long before any regular navy existed in England, presided over a sovereign court, with authority to hear and determine all causes relating to the sea, and to take cognizance of all offences committed thereon. The origin of this dignitary is uncertain: it is generally supposed that the title and office were first instituted by Edward I., about the year 1286, but it would seem that it was merely honorary. From the 34th year of Edward II., however, there is a regular succession of admirals held by many illustrious names in English chivalry. In 1632, the office of high admiral was for the first time put in commission, all the great officers of state being the commissioners. During the usurpation of Cromwell, a committee of parliament acted as commissioners. At the Restoration, in 1660, his royal highness James duke of York, was appointed lord high admiral of England. In 1684, however, Charles II. deprived the duke of York of this command, and managed the affairs of the admiralty by his great officers of state until his death. King James II. upon his accession declared himself lord high admiral and lord general; and he conducted the affairs of the admiralty during his whole reign with the assistance of Mr Secretary Pepys. At the Revolution, William and Mary put the admiralty again in commission. In 1707, queen Anne appointed her own husband, prince George of Denmark, high admiral of Great Britain, in consequence of the union of the two crowns, with a council to assist him; and at his death the queen took the office into her own hands, Mr Burchett doing the duties as her deputy. Since that time, the office of lord admiral has been executed by lords commissioners of the admiralty, till May, 1827, when George IV. appointed his then royal highness the duke of Clarence lord high admiral, with a council of four officers to assist him. In which office he acted to the great satisfaction of the navy at large, until he solicited his late majesty to be permitted to resign his high office in 1828, when it was again put in commission.
The droits of admiralty consist of flotsome, jetsome, lagon, treasure, deodands, derelicts, found within the jurisdiction of the high admiral; all goods picked up at sea; all fines, forfeitures, ransoms, recognizances, and pecuniary punishments; all sturgeons, whales, porpusses, dolphins, rigs, and grampusses, and all such large fishes; all ships and goods of the enemy coming into creek, road, or port, by stress of weather, mistake, or ignorance of the war; all ships seized at sea, salvage, &c.; together with his shares of prizes, which shares were afterwards called tenths. All prizes are now wholly given up by the crown to the captors, and such share of the droits as from circumstances may be thought proper. The lord high admiral also claimed, and enjoyed as his due, the cast ships;