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purchasing these articles at an enormous price and discount, besides the mortification of seeing our naval arsenals supplied by the American traders.
The second report related to the chest of Chatham, one of our oldest institutions for the relief of distressed and disabled seamen. The original written constitution of the chest is supposed-to have been lost during the usurpation of Cromwell; but its foundation is satisfactorily traced as far back as the year 1590, when Queen Elizabeth, truly sensible of the value of her seamen, induced the masters, mariners, shipwrights, and seafaring men employed in her service, to contribute an*nually a small portion of their wages towards making a fund, which has been increased from time to time by various bequests and royal donations; from this the shipwrights, some time after, withdrew. The money raised was ordered to be kept in a chest or strong box, having five locks, the keys of which were kept separately by a principal officer of the navy, a master attendant, a master shipwright, a purser, and a boatswain, for one whole year; at the end of which, they were to deliver their keys, each to his successor in office. It is singular, that such continued to be the laws of the chest till 1803, when it was found, that the seamen were put to great inconvenience and expense, in travelling from London to Chatham, to procure their pensions or "smart money;" in addition to which, Greenwich Hospital and Chatham, by fraudulent practices of the seamen, often relieved the same object. Under these considerations, and from some evidence of the funds not having been duly administered, the chest of Chatham was transferred to Greenwich Hospital; and that noble establishment, improved and augmented, continues to afford the most cheering prospects to the young mariner. As he enters his adventurous career of life, he may hope after all his dangers are past, to spend the remainder of his days in peace and quietness, under the ample roofs, and at the hospitable board, provided by the munificence of a grateful king and country.
By the third report, the supply of blocks to the navy was proved to be too expensive, and the famous block machine was established at Portsmouth, for the manufactory of these articles, under the superintendence of that ingenious mechanic Mr. Mark Isembard Brunei, the inventor.
The fourth report related to prize causes, and the commissioners proved, that during the war, from 1793 to 1802, one house at Jamaica had received into its hands the sum of 2,143,000/. sterling, and owed to Greenwich Hospital 290,000/.! The wages of run-men and their prize-money, also all unclaimed shares, are by law transferred to the chest of Greenwich. Some very wholesome checks were given to the foreign agents, who were compelled to pay in their unclaimed balances, within three months after distribution.
The fifth report relates entirely to the collection of the sixpenny contribution from the wages of all seamen employed in the merchant service; to which was added, one moiety of the wages of men deserting from ships in the African trade; and also the receipt of wages of seamen dying in the West India trade. From these returns, it appears, that in the years 1790 and 1802, the sums paid and the numbers employed were,
1790 . 13,338/. 9*. 6d. by 54,808 seamen.
1802 . 20,225/. 7*. Id. — 77,918
In the year 1790, being that of the Spanish armament, the amount of run-men's wages was
These forfeitures, though great, are not equal to what might have been expected in such a navy as ours; taking the greatest year, 1801, and admitting that every man left six months' pay, it would give little more than three hundred men.
The sixth report increases in interest, far above those which have preceded it, and explains in some measure the assertion of Mr. Colquhoun, of the enormous frauds practised in the naval arsenals of the united kingdom.
It begins with the dock-yard of Plymouth, which we learn was first established in the year 1691, previous to which time, the master shipwright and the artificers were borne on board one of his Majesty's ships fitted for that purpose.
The first appointment of a commissioner to superintend this establishment, was in 1720:* but according to the report, his power was so limited, and his patronage so small, that he had very little influence over those he was supposed to command. He is by patent, like those of Portsmouth and Chatham, a principal officer and commissioner of the navy: and detached by the board of admiralty, to any particular place, where his services may be required; during the war, commissioners were stationed at Minorca, Corsica, Bermuda, Antigua, Ceylon, Madras, and Bombay; but they were not like those of the Cape, Halifax, and Gibraltar, included in the patent.
In May, 1801, some regulations were established by an order in council, for the better government of the dock-yards, grounded on the report made in 1788, by the commissioners appointed by the 25th of the late King to inquire into the fees and emoluments of the public offices.
The new orders regulated the management and conversion of timber, abolished fees and perquisites, and the long established privilege of carrying chips out of the yard. By this latter means, much valuable property had been made away
* Burchet says, there were commissioners to the three great dock-yards in 1720; but commissioners of the navy were appointed by the Duke of York (afterward James II.) in 1660.
VOL. III. X
with, independently of the time consumed by the workmen in forming their bundles out of good and serviceable materials, in which copper bolts were frequently concealed. In lieu of these perquisites, a proper allowance was made to each class, and with which, after much resistance and discontent, they remained satisfied.
In the examination of Woolwich dock-yard> one fact alone was exposed, the detection of which should be considered as fully equivalent to all the expenses incurred by the appointment of the board of inquiry, and subsequently of a commissioner of the navy, to attend at that arsenal.
The Amaranthe, a frigate of twenty-four guns, taken from the Dutch, 1799, by Vice-admiral Mitchell, having been surveyed by the officers of Chatham yard, and reported fit for his Majesty's service, was purchased for the sum of 2,241/. for her hull only, her stores and furniture were paid for separately, and she was ordered to Woolwich to be fitted for sea service; here, after an expense^of 8,273/. more in repairing her, she was commissioned by Captain Boys, and proceeded to the Downs, where she was discovered to be so defective in her bottom, as not to be deemed fit to ride at an anchor in that roadstead; and there can be no doubt that, had she met with any bad weather, she must have foundered at her anchors, the copper being the only security to prevent the entrance of "the water. She was sent immediately to Sheerness, when the officers reported that she