On 30th May, Captain Knight of the Montague, excellent commander of a leaky ship, trusted by his men, wrote to the Admiralty from the Nore:

Since the date of my last letter the company of this ship have directed her movements, having put her in charge of the Master and Pilots … and have brought her to this anchorage.

Such was the fact, but the laconic statement in no way indicates the ecstatic excitement with which the ships from Yarmouth were welcomed. There was no ’ question of dragging the captains before “infernal tribunals,” as with Watson of the Leith tender, nor of wildly tugging at the men to suborn them, since the ships already flaunted the bloody flag of defiance. But the moment a new recruit sailed towards them through the choppy tideway, she was joyously boarded by the Delegates, who “asked for grievances, ordered yard-ropes to be rove, demanded the keys of the magazine, and took the small arms to the fore-castle.” So at least it was on the Repulse, where, besides, though they behaved “very quiet to all the officers,” they appointed two Delegates, Edward Thompson, captain of the maintop, who did not seem at all eager for the dangerous dignity, but was forced to assume it; and Richard Kent, who for his part was all alacrity, “active and eager like a Wapping attorney,” full of zest in argument, eager to buoy up or inflame, ready, in short, for any mischief.

To round off an action which was in itself violent, and might lead to a much more serious clash, a polite exchange of diplomatic compliments took place between high potentates:

To the Committee of the Repulse.


31 May,

Dear Brothers, I have to inform you that in Council of the Delegates of the whole Fleet, they feel themselves greatly obliged to you for your speedily joining m the good cause we are embarked in. And by their orders I do hereby declare that from the bottom of their hearts they do thank you, and beg with brotherly love you will accept the same.

I remain, dear brothers,

Yours sincerely,

Richard Parker,


The Repulse not to be outdone in either formality or friendliness, acknowledged the communication:

(Rough draft on the back of a punishment list.)

Dr. B.,

I have to inform you that the Commt. of this Ship is impress with the most sensible feeling of Gratitude on being ’formed by two of our Committee of your entire approbation of our conduct, in a cause which will never be erased from the minds of our. Brother Tars. We, the Committee, are determined not to be influenc’d by the artful insmuations of our oppressors, nor be appeased untill our grieveance which has been too long standing is comply’d with.

I remain,

Dr. Brothers,

Your sincer.

If this determination was real, Parker would feel that something might be done, even though his Brother Tars were somewhat vague in stating what precisely it was that they wanted.

Something might be done, yes; but what? There lay the Fleet, cut off from the shore, denied supplies and apparently without hope of getting into touch with the authorities except by the dolorous way of complete submission. It was not within their view to attack Sheerness, or any other part of the land, since they were not waging war against the country: for the same reason they had no wish to sail away to some foreign port, since they were loyal servants of the Crown. They had asked for a discussion, and had been peremptorily refused; and the Admiralty, instead of facing them like men, had resorted to the mean trick of trying to starve them out. Perhaps, however, two could play at that game, for the Fleet in all its might lay at the mouth of the Thames, commanding the gateway of a capital which already at that date depended to a large extent on foreign trade for its subsistence. It seems that a blockade had been suggested a few days before, and the intention had become known, but the scheme had not been adopted. Still, now that the mutineers had been 186 forced into defiance, such a challenge, not now to the Admiralty alone, but to the whole country, was surely justified, and might have a rapid and beneficient effect. But it was meant as a challenge only, to indicate what the seamen could do if they wished, “in order to show the country they had it in their power to stop the trade of the river; but had no intention of injuring their country.”

Accordingly, at nine o’clock in the evening of the 31st, Parker, accompanied by two other Delegates, proceeded on shore under -a flag of truce, and, marching thus protected up to Commissioner Hartwell’s house, delivered him what was proudly called “The Final Determination of the North Sea Fleet.” Though it was a declaration of immediate blockade, in point of fact for two days it remained only a threat—again, perhaps, the sailors were too optimistic— a delay which caused people in general to suppose that the threat would never materialise; they could not believe that the seamen would dare go to such lengths. And at first it looked as though the optimists on this side were right, for nothing happened on the 1st except that Parker made a tour of his now large command, rowing round the Fleet to the accompaniment of music, which was drowned in the cheers vociferated from each ship as he passed. On the 2nd, however, the Swan sloop was sent into the river with orders to direct to Parker at the Nore every ship that came in, except such as bore a pass signed, “R. Parker, President of the Delegates”: but one ship not proving enough to cope with the traffic, she was supported first by the Brilliant, a rather larger vessel, and later by the Standard, a line-of-battle ship, with the Inspector sloop, the two latter representing the Yarmouth contingent. Each of these watch-ships had its orders:

To the Committee,

Hereby you are desired by the Delegates of the Whole Fleet to detain all vessels to and from the Port of London, those excepted whose cargoes are perishable, taking an account of the name of each ship.

Given under our hand this 2nd day of June 1797 on board H.M.S. Sandwich.

It had come to a trial of strength, or rather of doggedness, without violence.

The act, whether or not it was intended to continue it to extremes, was a desperate one, which no amount of glozing over could soften; and Parker at this time seems to have been in an excited, unstable frame of mind. It was not that the cheers, the intoxication of his position, had gone to his head, but that he had been over a fortnight, if not really in command, at least nominally at the head, of a mutiny which threatened the existence of the nation, and during this time nothing had happened to bring the mutineers a single inch nearer their object. Things must be worked up to a crisis and a settlement, if only because, as one of the three Delegates on the evening of the 31st is reported to have said, the Dutch Fleet was rumoured to be coming out, and the British Fleet must be prepared to meet it. That may have been a reason; but it is more likely that to Parker’s mind it was clear that unless something came about, it would be difficult to keep the men steadfast to the cause, tuned up to the height of mutiny. However fervently they might declare their unalterable resolve not to be “appeased” until their grievances were met, fervour does not last unnourished. Added to these reasons, food and water were scarce; thus there was a physical as well as moral reason for the decision; and, indeed, Parker was to declare that the need for food was the only reason for the blockade. That certainly was the argument which appealed to the men. The London magistrate, Graham, whom we saw fruitlessly sniffing out sedition at Portsmouth, was to say:

The want of beer and fresh beef prompted them to revenge, and that and nothing else induced them to interrupt the trade of the river. It was done on the spur of the occasion, and with a view of obtaining a supply of fresh provisions.

That would seem to the men the common sense of it.

But whether Parker liked making this tremendous decision is another matter: it may have been forced on him. At all events the strain was beginning to tell, temperamentally nervous as he was; he felt himself in an increasingly false position, and dared not on the subject of the mutiny allow his spirits to fall below explosive heat. Watson, whose tender was detained until the 2nd, when he obtained a “release” for her, took pains to see as much of him as he could at this time, remembering his strange suicidal passenger of a month before, with the dark, sensitive face set with striking eyes, who had, moreover, given testimony in his favour when his vessel had been so roughly seized on the 29th. “I worked upon him,” Watson was to confess,

by every possible means; but whenever the subject [of the mutiny] was broached his bram took fire; he seemed intoxicated with a sense of his own consequence, and uttered nothing but incoherent nonsense,

which is, perhaps, not surprising. For, apparently, Parker received orders from the Delegates, orders which were hatched at what appears to have been the breeding-centre of the mutiny, the Inflexible, if we are to believe his “Dying Declaration.” Watson, a little unfairly, egged him on to drink, “knowing his propensity that way. … In this state of inebriety, he exposed himself in an attempt before the volunteers, etc., to display his powers of oratory,”which proved ineffectual, since the recruits on the tender, after a little wavering, refused to come in with the mutineers.

But that he went about some of the business in a workmanlike manner is vividly revealed by his handling of the Hound sloop on 2nd June. On that day the Hound acting as a tender, arrived at the Nore with a hundred and eleven men to be transferred to the depot-ship. She was immediately boarded by some of the Delegates, Parker not being among them, and a violent altercation followed between them and the commander. Captain Wood. Parker had met Wood, who had been kind to him, before he was put on the tender at Leith, and when he came on board the Hound, said:

Captain Wood, the differences in the fleet are of a very unpleasant nature. I feel myself, m some degree, under an obligation to you, therefore I would advise you to do nothing at present, but to suffer the Hound to proceed in the same manner as the rest of the ships; for I have no doubt but that, in the course of a day or two, the officers will resume their command.

Wood, who had driven some of the Delegates out of his ship by threatening them with death, saw fit to comply, since Parker told him that he “had the honour to represent the whole fleet,” and interfered no more. But the seamen in the Hound were not at all inclined to join the mutiny, so Parker decided to moor her under the guns of the Sandwich. On the pilot objecting that the tide was not favourable, Parker, pointing significantly to the yard-rope that had been rove by one of the crew of the Pylades since he had come on board, remarked that if he did not choose to weigh at once, he could find means to make him. Upon that the pilot discovered that the tide would after all not be an impediment. But when the order was given to let the anchor go, it was found that the sloop was too near the Sandwich, whereupon Parker turned to the pilot, and told him, “You have committed one mistake, mind you don’t commit another; if you do, I’ll make beefsteak of you at the yard-arm.” He appears momentarily as the commander who knew exactly what he was about, and would stand no nonsense. Once the sloop was moored between the flagship and the Inflexible, he harangued the men, and asked if they had any complaints against their officers, promising to send any obnoxious ones on shore: one man being insolent, he had him put in irons. The captain’s letters were censored, a measure which could not have been of much use, since he was soon after sent ashore, by, he was told, the orders of Parker, whom he saw rowing about the Fleet to the usual musical accompaniment punctuated by cheering.

While the mutineers were taking these measures, the Government in all its majesty and power behaved in a way as excited as Parker’s, though since it did have the power, its actions were more effectual. The King’s proclamation of pardon, dated 27th May, 90 had proved useless, not having been called upon to provide the happy finish to the Board’s visit to Sheerness, for which it had been designed: another of the 31st, posted on the walls of Sheerness, and taken to the Sandwich in the Admiral’s barge, 91 was a mere blustering fanfare calling upon everyone to help in repressing the mutiny. It was discussed by the committee before promulgation—an exercise of authority which furiously annoyed the body of the seamen; but the temper thus aroused perhaps served the purposes of the Delegates by making the men still further resent the Government declaration, which, after all, was mere verbiage. “ Sir,” Parker wrote to Buckner on 3rd June:

I am commanded by the Committe of H.M.S. Sandwich to inform you that they have this day taken the opinion of the Delegates of the whole Fleet, who are universally of opinion, that the conduct of the administration has been highly improper in stopping the provisions by Government allowed to the seamen. And that the foolish proclamations which have been received are only fitted to exasperate the minds of a sett of Honest Men, who would never be more happy than in really serving their country.

I am sir.

Your humble servant,

Richard Parker,


Hostilities between the Kingdom and the Floating Republic were not, however, confined to mutual blockade and an interchange of threatening notes, for besides the ‘two Delegates they held fast, the authorities had seized some other seamen who had boldly ventured on shore. The mutineers did not indeed retaliate by kidnapping people from the shore, but the counter-measure they could and did take was to refuse officers permission to land, a permission which some had not unnaturally asked for. being tired of idly kicking their heels in ships where they were denied any authority or function. When their fellows were captured, the Delegates “finally determined that no officer whatever shall be permitted to go on shore, until the return of the people who are at present detained.” They added, however, in a conciliatory tone of voice, as though to show there was no ill-feeling in the matter: “We are well convinced of the good conduct of our officers who are on board.”

By now Parliament was beginning to take a hand, urged to activity by a message from the King. On 1st June Pitt introduced a Bill “for the better prevention and punishment of attempts to seduce persons serving in the naval or military service from their duty and allegiance, and incite them to mutiny or disobedience.” The penalties were mild, but two days later, when the Bill was being debated in committee, the phrasing was amended to “maliciously and advisedly inciting,” and the punishment stiffened to that of death; for, as Pitt remarked, since the punishment for mutiny was hanging, it was illogical to have a lesser punishment for causing the crime. Pitt seemed to think that the sailors’ lot was a perfectly happy one; they could have no possible ground for complaint. The sailors themselves, again, were fine fellows, chock-full of loyalty and other sterling virtues: it was clear that the root of the trouble was insidious Jacobin propaganda:

The whole affair [he said] was of that colour and description which proved it not to be of native growth, and left no hesitation on the mind of any thinking man to determine whence it was imported.

The House was docile; a few argued that the old provisions were enough to deal with the situation; Sheridan upbraided the administration for having by their ill-treatment brought the mutiny upon themselves, but agreed to the measure; the Bill was passed without a dissentient voice, was sent up to the Lords, and passed through all its stages that evening. The Act, intended to last a month or two, was stout enough to safeguard the loyalty of our forces till the year of grace 1934.

Another Bill, for restraining intercourse with rebellious seamen, was introduced immediately afterwards. This met with some opposition. Sir John Sinclair was of the opinion that in demanding this measure Pitt was not only drawing the sword but also throwing away the scabbard: to pass this Bill would virtually expatriate the British Navy. It was, indeed, a savage Bill, by which the Admiralty might declare any ship to be m a state of rebellion, after which any person remaining on board would be considered a felon and a pirate, while any person who aided, comforted, or encouraged them, was liable to the death penalty. Sir Francis Burdett declared that the Bill would drive the seamen to despair; their discontent was only part of that which pervaded the whole nation, and that the only remedy was for the King to dismiss his Ministers, and put an end to a corrupt system. In this he was supported by Charles Sturt, member for Bridport, who was the only man who had the courage actually to vote against the Bill. Following these two panic measures, another was shortly afterwards passed to prevent the administration of unlawful oaths, such as the seamen had sworn. It could have no immediate effect, but it is of interest since it was under this law that, in 1834, the Tolpuddle martyrs earned their uncomfortable fame.

If the legislative was thus busy, the executive authorities on their part were not idle. Sir Charles Grey was indefatigable, and was joined on 2nd June by Admiral, recently created Lord Keith, who came nominally as second-incommand to Buckner, but actually took over the reins from that somewhat ineffectual old gentleman. It was hoped, perhaps, that Keith’s presence would have much the same healing effect as that of Howe at Spithead, for he had the reputation of being lucky, and was popular with the sailors; but since he had no communication with them till after the mutiny, this qualification was wasted. The business of fortifying strong points went on; a mortar battery was placed on the Isle of Grain, while furnaces glowing in every fort kept up a gratifying supply of redhot balls. A little later the idea was brought forward of placing a boom across the Thames—there was already one across the harbour-mouth at Sheerness—but it was found the old boom once in use had been destroyed, and that it would take a fortnight to make another. A lane of colliers was suggested as an alternative, but the notion was abandoned. Every possible step was taken to prevent the seamen having any communication with the land, especially as Buckner was convinced that men were sneaking across to Leigh and Faversham. Lines of soldiers watched the shore at likely landing-places; other lines were placed behind them in case any intrepid sailors should slip through; pickets of “peace officers were stationed at all points of strategic importance between the east coast and London, while light cavalry exercised itself over the countryside in the eager hope of catching deserters.

Stirring deeds were in prospect, and to help the military in repelling a horrible invasion, in which a handful of seamen without organisation or guns would subdue a whole nation (the seamen themselves had too keen a sense of realities, and perhaps too much sense of humour, quite apart from their loyalty, to dream of such an action), the civilian population roused itself in its lusty strength to do battle for its property. It may be that the blockade had been forced upon the Delegates, but at any rate it was a fatal error, for it antagonised the middle or trading classes of the community, classes which Joyce and his fellows had been careful to reassure. What happened in 1797 was to all intents and purposes precisely what occurred in 1926 during the general strike, when the food of London was threatened. Alarmed by the sailors, the merchants and shipowners met in a fluster at the Stock Exchange, where they expressed a noble anxiety to help the Government in its hunt for the “lurking traitors” who were seducing the seamen; never had their sense of security been so profoundly shocked, even when 194 the Bank went off gold. In their enthusiasm they organised a public subscription to be scattered in gratuities to all seamen who would volunteer to fight their scandalous fellows, and they offered a reward of £100 for the conviction of those who had instigated the revolt, Alas for their hundred pounds: it was never claimed; the dastardly Jacobin who was at the root of all this mischief was never forthcoming. The smug City merchants could not conceive that horrible conditions could have produced the mutiny; they were as innocent of this thought as Pitt himself.

The more active members of the middle-classes were prepared to show their mettle in deeds: as in 1926 they offered themselves to save their country, and volunteered in their numbers, as though to prove that the heart of England beat true. As they flocked to the recruiting offices they were sent aboard the ships at Tilbury, and full of heroic determination were taken down to Long Reach to join Sir Erasmus Gower, who, flying his flag in the Neptune, was organising a naval force to battle against the rascally rebels. The Younger Brothers of Trinity House were told to record where they might be found, and to hold themselves in instant readiness for duty. Private shipowners, stimulated by these doings, patriotically offered the use of their ships; plenty of naval and marine officers volunteered, and many crews tendered their services in a body. The East India Company put its ships and men wholly at the disposal of the Government. It was a glorious rallying to the flag; but to some it seemed a manifestation of “that misguided public spirit which animated the whole nation as one man against the erring but ill-treated sailors, who for endless years had defended their property, their lives, their liberties, all that made them what they were, under wrongs so crying, that one tithe of the seamen’s real grievances would have driven” them to vindictiveness and rebellion.

The desperately wicked men against whom these nobly patriotic measures were being taken, did not, however, present to the unprejudiced observer that depth of evil design which such measures presupposed. It is true that they did impound a store-ship or two and distribute the eatables, and extracted the fish from some passing smacks. They were hungry, and some of them went so far as to raid the Isles of Gram and Sheppey to ravish away sheep and cattle. They also carried out the blockade wuh complete efficiency, and soon over a hundred sail were huddled together at the mouth of the Thames, idle. This flotilla, moreover, was matched by another on the London side of Tilbury, consisting of ships of all sorts forbidden egress by the Admiralty for fear lest they should provide booty for the mutineers.

Jacobins, members of Corresponding Societies, where were they? Every ear was alert to catch the sound of them, and soon the listeners were given whispers to encourage their eagerness. Two sailors were found near Rochester bridge, who declared they were looking for “a gentleman in black” from whom they expected funds: tongues might even go so far as to suggest that this dark figure, never heard of m any other connection, was Whitbread, one of the leading figures of the Opposition, who certainly communicated with the men in the Lancaster, Parker, again, mysteriously disappeared one night three or four miles from Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey, and

this excited so much alarm m the minds of the Delegates that a party was induced to go the next morning in search of him, but not finding him, and hearing that he had returned on board, they waited on shore till the evening and then seized the Nancy tender lying outside the garrison point. She was fired at from the Battery, but a fresh breeze from the land enabled them to get her away without damage, and proceed on board the Sandwich . The cause of this mysterious proceeding of Parker’s was never publicly known.

Was it not clear that he had gone to confer with some monster of sedition? But the suspicion could never be justified.

On their side, the sailors were determined to show how well affected they were, and on Sunday, 4th, Parker sent to 196 Queenborough for Mr. Hatherall, the chaplain of the Sandwich, to ask him to hold a service on board, and to preach. Hatherall accepted: he was a courageous man, and was not going to shirk his duty in any way; he preached a thoroughly uncompromising sermon on Job xxvii, 5, “God forbid that I shall justify you: till I die, I will not remove mine integrity from me/5 an all too topical text which probably caused a certain perturbation among the Delegates, who did not subsequently invite his gentle ministrations. The sermon, however, caused no revulsion of their humane feelings, for on that day the Delegates gave three days’ leave to Captain Knight of the Montague, for the purpose of taking ashore his wife, who had been visiting him at Yarmouth, and had not had time to escape before the ship sailed for the Nore, so sudden had the departure been. The written permission shows how acutely the mutineers felt any suggestion of disloyalty to the Crown.

4th June 1797.

To Captain Knight.


I am commanded to inform you by the Delegates of the Fleet assembled on board H.M.S. Sandwich that they feel for your situation, and on the undermentioned conditions you are permitted to accompany Mrs. Knight on shore. You are to return on board your respective ship in three days after your landing, and that you represent to Admiral Buckner that all the officers are detained as hostages for our absent Delegates, and you are to assure yourself that you are to be considered for three days on parol of honour, and that if which we will not doubt you should not return the breech of confidence would be resented as deemed necessary by the Delegates of the Fleet. You are further desired to inform on shore that every Delegate has sworn himself that he has no communication with any Jacobins or people of that description, which they have amply proved by having in their custody at this moment two vessels bound to our enemy’s ports.

I remain. Sir,

With due respect,

Your humble servant,

Richard Parker,


One would like to think that the contents of this note were communicated to those bold patriots the shipowners, who, not chary of accusing the seamen of comforting the King’s enemies, were themselves trading with them.

It was a point on which the seamen not unnaturally felt justifiably bitter. They drew up a document for their fellow countrymen, which a Delegate named Gregory took to an American ship so that it might be printed and posted on the Royal Exchange. This manifesto, which was never printed, although Gregory had paid out three guineas to the American, concluded:

We do not wish to adopt the plan of a neighbouring nation, however it may have been suggested; but we (will) sell our lives dearly to maintain what we have demanded. Nay, countrymen, more: We have already disco\ered the tricks of Government is supplying our enemies with different commodities, and a few days will probably lead to something more.

The whole appeal is extraordinarily dignified, though perhaps too tub-oratorical:

Countrymen (it begins),

It is to you particularly that we owe an explanation of our conduct. His Majesty’s perverse ministers too well know our intentions, which are founded on the laws of humanity, honour, and national safety—long since trampled underfoot by those who ought to have been friends to us—the sole protectors of your laws and property. The public prints teem with falsehoods and misrepresentations to induce you to credit things as far from our design as the conduct of those at the helm of national affairs is from honesty or common decorum.

It then rises to a considerable height of theatrical eloquence:

Shall we who have endured the toils of a tedious, disgraceful war, be the victims of tyranny and oppression which vile, gilded, pampered knaves, wallowing in the lap of luxury, choose to load us with? Shall we, who amid the rage of the tempest and the war of jarring elements, undaunted climb the unsteady cordage and totter on the topmast’s dreadful height, suffer ourselves to be treated worse than the dregs of London Streets? Shall we, who in the battle’s sanguinary rage, confound, terrify 198 and subdue your proudest foe, guard your coasts from invasion, your children from slaughter, and your lands from pillage —be the footballs and shuttlecocks of a set of tyrants who derive from us alone their honours, their titles and their fortunes? No, the Age of Reason has at length revolved. Long have we been endeavouring to find ourselves men. We now find ourselves so. We will be treated as such. For, very far from us is the idea of subverting the government of our beloved country. We have the highest opimon of our Most Gracious Sovereign, and we hope none of those measures have been taken to deprive us of the common rights of men have been instigated by him.

Then follows a passage to tell the people of England something of the life the seaman led:

You cannot, countrymen, form the most distant idea of the slavery under which we have for many years laboured. Rome had her Neros and Caiigulas, but how many characters of their description might we not mention in the British Fleet—men without the least tincture of humanity, without the faintest spark of virtue, education or abilities, exercising the most wanton acts of cruelty over those whom dire misfortune or patriotic zeal may have placed in their power—basking in the sunshine of prosperity, whilst we (need we repeat who we are?) labour under every distress which the breast of inhumanity can suggest.

Then there comes a somewhat unfortunate trope:

The British Seaman has often with justice been compared to the Lion—gentle, generous and humane—no one would certainly wish to hurt such an animal.

But the writer soon recovers himself:

Hitherto we have laboured for our sovereign and you. We are now obliged to think for ourselves, for there are many (nay, most of us) in the Fleet who have been prisoners since the commencement of the War, without receiving a single farthing. Have we not a right to complain?

After which he expresses the determination of the men to hold out until their grievances are redressed, “but until that is comply’d with we are determined to stop all commerce and intercept all provisions, for our own subsistence.”

It is not necessary to suppose that the ideas of liberty, the reference to the Age of Reason, were due to the French Revolution—the American might have suggested them; and at any rate revolution was the last thing the sailors wanted. They seized the opportunity of the King’s birthday to express their loyalty, a birthday which, though it fell on the 4th, was celebrated on the 5th, since the former day was a Sunday. Many of the ships were dressed with colours, the Sandwich flew the Royal Standard at the fore, and the Fleet fired the resounding salute which did such alarming damage to the old brick merlons of Sheerness fort. There might not have been the same eagerness to honour the Sovereign had the men known that he had written to Spencer a few days before that “the preventing of their getting fresh water will soon oblige them to submit.” At all events they felt it was imperative to make every gesture to show that their quarrel was not against either King or country, but simply against the administration. Perhaps it was for this reason that on that day they relaxed the blockade, merchant ships being allowed to pass, and only victualling ships being detained. Whether the Delegates hoped by this move to soften the indignation of the traders, or whether it was simply that they did not know what to do with the ever-increasing mass of ships that cumbered the mouth of the Thames, it is hard to say. If the first was their intention, it was by now far too late; it is easier to declare a war than to put a stop to it. The probability is that they felt the blockade had served its purpose in showing the country what they could do if they were evilly inclined.

That the authorities were prepared to regard the state of affairs as a war was shown by an unpleasant incident which occurred on the 5th; it does not redound to the credit of the officers at Sheerness, and showed the sailors how little 200 their loyal demonstrations availed them. On that day the Delegates collected some fifty or sixty of their sick—what they were likely to be suffering from we know from Surgeon Snipe’s report—put them on board the Nancy tender, and sent them to be received on the hospital ship. Buckner, after consulting with Mosse and other captains, was inhuman enough to order the master of the Nancy to return the sick men to their respective ships. It was not a pretty action, and was not made better by the authorities giving “a bundle of proclamations to a confidential man of the Sandwich, with the instructions to place them “into the bosoms and pockets of the sick men,’ ” while the master of the Nancy was asked to try to thrust some in at the ports of the ships. The effect of the proclamations, however, was dubious, if we are to gather anything from a paper addressed, “For the Lords Commissioners of the Board of Admiralty,” dated a day or two later:

Dam my eyes if I understand your lingo or long Proclimations but in short give us our Due at Once and no more at it, till we go in search of the Rascals the Eneymes of our Country.

Henry Long.

On Board his Majesty’s ship Champion.

Nore, 1th (?) June 1797.

The general feeling of the mutineers could not be expressed more neatly than that.