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he said of those very captains in the house of commons afterwards, that they did fight at too great a disance, but that they were young men (tho' by the way the youngest was near 40, and younger captains than most of these both in rank and years have been since made admirals) and that he advised them priva ely to fight closer for the future. And surely it might have been thought time enough to have distinguished them with his favours, when they had had an opportunity of following his adwice, Some fatal maxims were at this time industriously propagated; it was sid, that people in the fleet ought not to see the faults committed by their brethren—that every body was fiable to errors, and that they who had behaved ill, would behave better another time. But as the behaviour of the fleet at that battle, was the occasion of an enquiry in the house of commons, and of some very extraordinary court martials, no less reproachful to the British navy, than the cowardice of the captains in the engagement, these proceedings ought to be set in the strongest light, that the like may be prevented for the future. Some months after the engagement, there happened a dispute between captain Norris and his lieutenants, one of whom, Mr. Jekyll, wrote to the admiral, complaining of his captain's tyrannical behaviour, and in his letter mentioned his cowardice on the 11th of February, alledging as an excuse, that he had not complained against him before, that his captain's behaviour was so notorious that he thought no particular information necessary. The captain, who was very well, and I believe with the admiral, when the letter was brought, was suddenly taken with the out in his head, and wrote for leave to quit, upon a presumption, that a person, not actually in the service, was not liable to be tried by

a court martial for any crime tho’ committed while he was in the ser– vice. This was a great mistake, and had been decided by the twelve judges in Q. Anne's time, who had given it as their opinion under their hands, that a person who had belonged to the service, and during that time committed any crime, might, if he had quitted the service, yet still be tried by a court martial for it. However, this mistake was so general, that the whole court martial fell into it afterwards, and Norris thought himself safe, upon being permitted to quit. It is, indeed, marvellous, that one so highly intrusted by his king and country, as admiral Mathews was, should prefer the safety of an arrant coward, to his own honour, and to the interest of both. It will be but fair, however, to mention what was said by the friends of the admiral, and Mr. Norris, to justify the admiral, in permitting him to quit, and in taking no notice of Mr Jekyll's letter. They thought, that an accusation at such a distance of time appeared to be malicious, and therefore did not merit notice. The reason that Jekyll assigned for this delay, in his letter, was not liked, because it looked like an accusation of the admiral himself. But still the accusation ought not to have been stifled. If in civil affairs, an information be given against any person, where the publick is concerned, the motive, upon which the informer acts, is not then enquired into ; the fact is to be examined into first, and, if that be proved, the information is not stiled malicious, though resentment might appear to be the true reason, why the information was given: it will unquestionably lessen, perhaps quite destroy the weight of the informer's own evidence, but the fact may be proved by other evidence. A malicious accusation is that which proceeds from malice only, and had this been the case here, captain Norris would not have been troubled

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