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No XL-VOL. VII.]
For MARCH, 1807.
Sir HOME POPHAM, K. M. and Sir Home is a gentleman certainly of
F.R.S. Commodore of his Britannic
Irish extraction, and as to the particular place of his birth, that appears a matter of doubt among biographers; nor, indeed, be the fact what it inay, do we think it of any MONG the tasks imposed on a bio- material consequence to name the precise grapher, there are none more delicate, spot where he was born; suffice it to say, and perhaps few more difficult, than to at- he is the son of a man of family and consitempt the delineation of a character whose deration, who was consul at Tetuan in the conduct has become the object of obloquy, dominions of the Emperor of Morocco. party violence, and, in all probability, un- He received the first rudiments of his educadue representation. Nothing can be more tion at Westminster School, and, as a very grossly unfair, than the attempt that has unusual step for a person, who afterwards frequently been made, to use a quaint and devoted his life to the naval service, went very vulgar term, though we know of to the University of Cambridge; he, howno other so appropriate on the present ever, continued there only twelve months. occasion, of pitting the merits of one man His debut in the naval service, was under the against those of another. It is not a ques- auspices of that very able and intelligent tion proper for a biographer to ask, nor is it officer Admiral Thompson, with whom decent even in a private man to enquire, he proceeded to sea, about the year 1778, whether A has fought as bravely as B; the being then only seventeen years of age. only matter the world has to decide on is, With this gentleman he was present at the whether A has, or has not, done his duty memorable attack and capture of Don LanTo avoid every thing like invidious remarks gara, and the Spanish squadron by the late or comparison, we shall most scrupulously Lord Rodney; but Capt. Thompson being at avoid all mention whatever, by which the that time employed only in a frigate, it was most distant hint can be drawn to what not to be expected Mr. Popham could be competition or comparison we allude; suf- in any more interesting degree connected fice it for us to say, that we most strongly with the encounter, than as a mere spectareprobate every idea of competition or com- tor. The war concluded, leaving Mr. Popparison, and, under that firm impression, ham without further provision or appointregulate our own conduct accordingly. ment than his promotion to the rank of
It is the fortune, or rather the chance, lieutenant, and a life of indolence, ill suitperhaps, of some inen, either to throw ing his inclination, or his pocket, he was themselves, or be thrown by the bias of naturally led to direct his views into some their own inclinations, into situations where quarter where they could be best furthered those very acts, which ought to render them and promoted; on this occasion India prepopular, produce an effect directly operating sented itself to him, and he seized the opto the contrary; nor, if we reflect for a mo- portunity, not only without hesitation, but ment, on the envy naturally predominant in with avidity. His first employinent was the human mind, shall we marvel for a mo- in the line of a naval surveyor, a subject he ment at this fact The gallant person,a sketch had acquired peculiar knewledge of, and in of whose lif we are about to attempt giving, the execution of which service he failed feeling an enthusiasin not exceeding the duty not to afford the highest satisfaction to the of a naval officer, though perhaps extending committee, who, at the special recommenbeyond those limits, within which the rules dation of Earl Cornwallis. at that time Goof British service are confined, has, at dif- vernor-General of India, thought fit to ap. ferent times, with the most laudable zeal, point him to survey an harbour on the river and displaying a truly heroic and Bri- Hoogley. This operation being performed, tish spirit, volunteered on various ser- Mr. Popham took upon him the command of vices, where he has most eminently dis tinguished himself, and in consequence of which, sorry are we to remark, we fear that he has drawn down upon himself, some of those malignant and envious remarks which will ever arise in the breast and in the speech of those who are deprived of the advantage of making the same exertions. UNIVERSAL MAG. VOL. VII.
a country ship, and having been, in the course of his voyage,drivenby tempestuousweather, through the Streights of Malacca, first conceived the idea of proposing a marine establishment at Pulo-Penang, now better known by the name of Prince of Wales's Island. This project, it is well known, has since been matured into perfection, and pro
regards, and recommendation. The power of the French armies being however ultimately successful, the British troops were compelled to retire; and on their re-embarking from the continent, Captain Popham was appointed the agent to superintend that important operation. After this time, Captain Popham appears to have continued out of what is called commission, that is to say, he was not actually captain of any ship of war for some years. The time, during this interval, is reported to have been occupied in aiding and arranging the organization of that corps, better known by the name of sea-fencibles; the peculiar advantages resulting from which are, in case of any actual invasion or neces. sity, almost incalculable. Early in the yea: 1798, intelligence having been received by the British Government, of formidable pre parations, threatening to be extremely inju rious toGreat Britain, making at Flushing, and the collection at different places of a flotilla intended to have been conveyed by inland navi, ation to Dunkirk and Ostend, it was determined that most prompt measures should be used to attempt the destruction, if not of the flotilla itself, at least of the means by which it was intended to be conveyed to the place of its destination. A light British squadron was ordered to be equipped for this purpose, and Captain Popham was selected to take upon him the command; he accordingly hoisted his pendant on board the Expedition of 26 guns, and har. ing taken on board a corps of 2000 men, under the orders Major-General Coote, quitted Margate on the 14th day of May, but was not fortunate enough to close in with the land, until after he had been five days at sea; at which time, as though the very clements contended against the expe dition, the wind not only became contrary, but blew so violently as to render it neces sary that the whole flotilla should put to sea.
mises to be ultimately productive of the most quired the protection of the commandersolid advantages to Great Britain. Consi- in-chief, who bestowed on him his highest dering himself, as he certainly was, perfectly independent of all control on the part of the British East India Company, having acted for some years as what is called a free merchant or trader, he thought it by no means incompatible with his own honour and dignity, to accept of the command of an East India ship under imperial colours, called the Etrusco. On account of that jealousy constantly subsisting in the British Government, particularly in all matters where commerce is concerned, and more peculiarly so, perhaps, in all cases of controversies with so powerful a body as the East India Company, it could not be expected but that every opposition would be afforded that could in any degree counteract the commerce which appeared to be inimical, or at least threatening to be The Etrusco was accordingly captured when on her passage from Bengal to Ostend, under the common pretence that a considerable part of her property being hond fide British, and the usage of foreign coJours; nothing more than one of those practices commonly resorted to on all such occasions. This event, however, which at first glance persons might be induced to be lieve somewhat unfortunate, has been considered as among the most lucky epochs of his early life: driven by the calls and pressures of business, he was naturally under the necessity of proceeding to the continent, where he distinguished himself very materially during the expedition comimanded by his Royal Highness the Duke of York, in Flanders and in Holland; insomuch, that, at the special instance and recommendation of his highness, he was advanced to the rank of post-captain. In the defence of Nieuport against the French, he rendered the most eminent service, and not only conceived the plan of embodying and arming the fishermen of that coast and forming a corps of fencibles for home defence, against any future approach of France, but was himself entrusted with the command-in-chief of such corps-a service he expeditiously and completely performed.
At the time of the memorable invasion made by Pichegru, on the United Provinces, the enemy, it may be well remembered, with an expedition at that time unprecedented and unparalleled, rapidly overran the whole country; and after making themselves master of many of the principal fortresses, laid siege to Nimeguen; this post was of the most material consequence, and was of course maintained with the utmost obstinacy. The exertions of Captain Popham were extremely conspicuous on this occasion, and it is to those exertions that he is said most deservedly to have ac
A short consultation was immediately after held by the commander-in-chief of the land forces, and it was spiritedly deter mined, encouraged perhaps in some de gree by flattering intelligence which they had received, to attempt one of their principal posts by a coup de main. This was carried into immediate effect, and was, in its onset, crowned with the most complete success that every attended any expedition whatever. The sluice-gates were mined and blown up; the canal, on which not only an infinite sum of money had been expended, but had required five years labour to bring to the state of perfection in which it was become, in a great measure, ruined. Still, however, the mischief was not considered so complete as it was hoped
it might have been, but the partial failure, the official account, "and the several offiin this respect, has never been attributed cers of my staff, exerted themselves to the even by those who are always in the habit utmost, and rendered me the most essential of seeing the worst side of public affairs, to service. I feel also much indebied to the any want of conduct, to any mismanagement spirited conduct of a detachment of seamen, or neglect, on the part of Captain Popham. under Sir Home Popham, and Capt. God. The cause of that failure we almost hesitate frey, of the navy, in the conduct of three to relate, feeling ourselves called upon on gun-boats, each carrying one 12 pound such an occasion, by the nature of the ex- carronade, which acted with considerable cuse, to arraign, in some measure, the de- effect on the Alkmaar canal." crees, dictates, and decisions of Provi- The service, indeed, which he had thus dence; such, however, is the plain and rendered, was esteemed by his Majesty simple fact, that the troops, after having and his ministers, as of the highest vaovercome all the apparent and prominent lue; and Sir Home, as a remuneration difficulties of the expedition, had most for those services, had a pension of 8001. successfully commenced and carried on per year, bestowed on him. The views of that devastation against the operations of the Bri ish Government became after this the enemy, till the elements rose, as it time, as it were, naturally directed towards were, in hostility against them, and not Egypt; and the co-operation of a small exonly forbade all further injury, but com- pedition to be sent into the Red Sea, escortpelled the late victors in the very hour of ing a detachment of the Indian army in success, to capitulate for their own safety, support of what it was deemed proper and for their own lives. The result was to send from Europe, were considered nortifying, and the only consolation there among the most wise and salutary meacould be afforded to it was, that under all sures that could be adopted. Sir Home, its circumstances it was irremediable; once on this occasion, was selected to command more suffice it for us to say, our comman- the expedition, and was appointed Capder on this occasion lost neither reputation tain of the Romney, of 50 guns. It were or fame. irrelevant, and certainly very uninteresting, The knowledge acquired by Captain to enter into any minute detail of the parPopham, during his services and employ- ticular circumstances and Occurrences ments in Holland on former occasions, ap- which attended the voyage: suffice it to say, peared to qualify him peculiarly for any the service was executed in a manner that employment or subsequent attack on that completely justified, not only the expec country, where such local knowledge tations, and wishes of his countrymen, but might be deemed requisite. On this account, maintained, on all occasions, the dignity it would rather have excited wonder had he and honour of his country, as well as prehot been among the persons confidentially served, by a variety of useful and whole. employed in this species of service. In the some regulations which he adopted, the year 1799, the invasion of the United Provin health and personal vigour of all persons ces was, as is well known, a measure agreed under his command; point, at first sight, on in the British Cabinet, and decided to be perhaps of immaterial consequence, but carried on in conjunction and co-operation which, on mature inspection, will be found with an embarkation of troops from Russia; much more closely connected with the the superintendance and management of good of the public service than they might which was confided to Captain Popham, on a transient view appear to be. On his who purposely repaired immediately to return to Furope early in the year 1803, Cronstadt, where he was received by the he found himself involved in a violent Emperor, not merely with every attention scene of obloquy and popular abuse. Durdue to his character, but with a considera- ing his absence, a Board of Inquiry had tion,extremely flattering from such a person- been instituted, under the authority of ge, who bestowed on him, not only many the Admiralty, and sanctioned by Parmunificent and valuable imperial presents, liament, erecting a commission, vesting a but raised him to the dignity of Knight of power in certain persons therein-named, Malta, an honour which was afterwards to investigate all matters relative to the confirmed by the acquiescence of his Bri- navy, and report thereon. tannic Majesty.
With all that delicacy and anxiety we In the course of the expedition which must naturally feel in canvassing a subject immediately ensued, Capt. Popham bore a which has become the recent and general very distinguished share, as appears from the theme of popular outcry, debate, and, we very pointed manner in which his conduct had almost been induced to say, persecuis remarked on by his Royal Highness the tion; we shall content ourselves with canDuke of York, in his dispatches dated from didly wishing, and indeed expressing our the head-quarters, Schagen-broog, Sept. belief, that the very enemies to Sir Home 26.Captain Sir Home Popham," says Popham themselves wish they had not pur
sued their investigations with that determined virulence which appears to have superseded all candour in the pursuit of them: such is invariably the case in the majority of all popular disputes or controversies: hurried on by the enthusiastic spirit of party zeal, men rush into opinions hastily which they afterwards feel themselves unable to sustain, and are consequently under the very disagreeable necessity of abandoning, though to the evident injury of their own feelings, and perhaps their own cha acier; certain it were an act of injustice to Sir Home Popham, not to say that many of the charges urged against him continue to this moment unproved, and several others to have originated in fancy only; the whole matter, however, is on record, and stands on one hand as an indisputable document to be referred to at all times in proof of the rectitude of this gentleman's conduct, and of the errors made in the accusations brought against him.
Treading, therefore, as we feel we do,on fairy ground, and candidly confessing ourselves restrained by certain reasons, which it were
needless and impertinent to state, we shall talk only of facts; by so doing, we shall at least avoid disgrace, however we may incur hatred and censure: in respect to these we are perfectly indifferent, and shall therefore content ourselves with merely producing positive evidence in proof of Sir Home Popham's high merits:
Extract of a letter from Lieut -Col. Harness of his Majesty's 87th regt. of foot. "We had now no boat remaining the gale increased-she was reported to have made six feet water, and her officers were not without apprehensions of her going to pieces. At seven o'clock, three ships appeared in sight; but so far to leeward, that, with the sea and wind with which they had to contend, little hope was entertained of their affording any assistance; however we soon discovered one of them to be his Majesty's ship Romney, which, about ten o'clock, anchored at about two miles and a half from Calcutta, when Sir Home directed the Duchess of York to anchor at a middle distance from us, and at twelve the Romney's launch came on board: by nine in the evening every man of the 80th regiment, except the seven drowned in the long boat, was taken on board the Romney
"It is to the skilful position Sir Home Popham took up, so as to enable his boats to sail to and from the wreck, to the excellence of his boats (for a'thongh two transports came up in the course of the day, not a boat could they venture out), and to the dexterity of his well trained boats' crews, we are emkiently indebted for the salvation of so many lives.
"The humane personal attention of Sir
Home Popham to the comfort of the troops, many of whom reached the Romney in a very weakly state, will long be remembered with the warmest gratitude.
"On the morning of the 14th, the Romney having dragged from her anchors, Sir Home cut his cables and ran for this bay, leaving the Duchess of York to take on board any baggage that might by accident be saved from the wreck. The sea had reached her main deck before the last division of the detachment left her.
"At this place we found shelter from the sun and weather in a few buildings inhabited by fishermen; we therefore landed the whole of the detachment on the evening of the 14th, watching the arrival of his Majesty's ship Wilhelmina from Sue', whither Sir Home Popham had dispatched directions for her to hasten to this place, to take the detachment to Madras.
"I have the honour to be, &c.
"W. HARNESS, Lieut.-Col." So much for political controversy, or rather persecution. Notwithstanding, how
nion of the ignorant and prejudiced, might this apparent cloud which, in the opiseem at this moment to hang over Sir Home Popham, his merit was nevertheless considered as outweighing all popular calumny, and ministers esteemed him the most proper person to be entrusted with the execution of a project concerted against the minor In consequence of Ports of the enemy. this determination, Sir Home hoisted his
pendant, in th latter end of the year 1804, on board the Antelope, in an unpropitious moment. It becomes the duty of every bographer to explain in the fullest, even though that manner should rise into prolixity, the conduct of the person whose memoirs he attempts to give it were an act of injustice, therefore, to the character of Sir Home, were we to give any garbied detail of perhaps the only exploit in which he was ever concerned, where success did not crown his sanguine and patriotic endeayours; let, then, his own honest relation speak for itself:
"Antelope, Downs, Dec. 10, 1804. "My Lord,- avail myself of the first moment of my return to the Downs, to acquaint you, that towards noon, on Saturday the 8th, the wind promised to come from the S.E and knowing it to be your Lordship's intention to attack the enemy at every assailable point, I sent the Dart, on the close of the evening, to an assigned station between Sengate and Fort Lapen, accompanied by the Susannah explosionvessel, and two carcasses, with a view of making an assault against Port Rouge.
"Lieut. Steuart, of the Monarch, commauded the explosion-vessel; Mr. Bartho