As the plunder of prize property was becoming notorious, the tribunal directed it to be unloaded, in order to prevent the cargoes from being damaged! but, on the execution of the order it was found that all the valuable portion had already disappeared! How, of course could not be ascertained; but no one doubted. The ships themselves were neglected till they became useless to the original owners, the Government, or the captors.
Thus, of this vast amount of property taken in the campaign, not a milrea was suffered to find its way into the pockets of the officers and men, and the squadron would have been wholly defrauded of its reward, had I not refused to give up to the prize tribunal the comparatively trifling sums received in redemption of the seizures at Maranham; these being retained on board the flagship in consequence of the unjustifiable course which the tribunal was pursuing. A plot was, however, formed to seize it by force, but this was met by such measures as were calculated to prevent a renewal of the attempt.
The prize tribunal being thus determined to deprive the squadron of the whole of its emoluments, proceeded to condemn the ships of war taken as being droits to the crown, without compensation of any kind, notwithstanding that the before-mentioned Imperial decree of the 11th of December, 1822, awarded all prizes wholly to the captors. The tribunal then issued a decree, that vessels taken within a certain distance from the shore—where alone a blockade could be effective—were not lawful seizures; the effect being that, as the squadron was about to blockade Pernambuco it could have no opportunity of falling in with enemy’s vessels at sea, and therefore could not make captures at all! Thus enemy’s ships would be permitted to carry on their revolutionary occupations unmolested; which was, no doubt, the intention of those who framed the resolution, as wishing to defeat the blockade for their own purposes.
REMONSTRANCE AGAINST DECREE OF PRIZE TRIBUNAL—SETTLEMENT OF PRIZE QUESTION BY THE EMPEROR—HIS MINISTERS REFUSE TO CONFORM TO IT—OBSTACLES THROWN IN THE WAY OF EQUIPMENT—MY SERVICES LIMITED TO THE DURATION OF WAR—MY REMONSTRANCE ON THIS BREACH OF FAITH—MINISTERS REFUSE TO PAY THE SQUADRON ANYTHING—A FRESH INSULT OFFERED TO ME—OFFER TO RESIGN THE COMMAND—MY RESIGNATION EVADED—LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER—LETTER TO THE MINISTER OF MARINE.
On the 1st of January, 1824, I communicated to the Minister of Marine the contents of a despatch received from Captain Haydon at Pernambuco, in which he apprised me of a plot on the part of the revolutionary Government to seize his person and take possession of the Imperial brig of war which he commanded; the latter intention having been openly advocated in the Assembly.
On the 6th, I addressed to the Minister of Marine the following remonstrance against the before-mentioned regulation of the Admiralty Court, that vessels captured within a certain distance of the shore should not be prize to the captor; this regulation being evidently intended as retrospective, with a view of nullifying the captures which had already been made:—