14th June

Born: Thomas Pennant, naturalist, miscellaneous writer, 1723, Bowring, Flintshire.

Died: Father Garasse, French Jesuit controversialist, 1631, Poitiers; Sir Harry Vane, English patriot, beheaded, 1662, Tower of London; Marin Leroi, sieur de Gomberville, author of Polexandre and other romances, 1674; Dr. Ralph Bathurst, 1704, Oxford; Claude Fleury, confessor to Louis XV (ecclesiastical history), 1723; Colin Maclaurin, mathematician, 1746; General J. B. Kleber, assassinated, 1800, Cairo; General Louis Dessaix, killed at Marengo, 1800.

Feast Day: St. Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea, confessor, 379; Saints Rufinus and Valerius, martyrs. St. Docmael, or Toel, confessor, 6th century; St. Nennus, or Nehemias, abbot, 7th century. St. Psalmodius, hermit, 7th century; St. Methodius, confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople, 846.


At a levee held on the 14th of June, 1786, a very valuable diamond, of unusual size and brilliancy, was presented to George III, ostensibly as a gift from the Nizam, or native ruler of the Deccan. At the period when this magnificent peace offering was given to the king, the impeachment of Warren Hastings was advancing in Parliament; and it was very generally said, even publicly in the House of Commons, that this, with several other diamonds, was the purchase-money of Hastings's acquittal.

Caricatures on the subject appeared in the windows of the print shops. One represented Hastings wheeling the king to market in a barrow, and saying, 'What a man buys he may sell again.' In another, the king was exhibited in a kneeling posture, with his mouth open, and Hastings throwing diamonds into it. An Italian juggler, then in London, pretending to eat paving-stones, had placarded the walls with bills describing himself as 'The Great Stone-eater'; the caricaturists, improving upon the hint, represented the king in the character of 'The Greatest Stone-eater'; and the following ballad was sung about the streets, to the infinite amusement of the populace.

I'll sing you a song of a diamond so fine,
That soon in the crown of our monarch will shine,
Of its size and its value the whole country rings,
By Hastings bestowed on the best of all kings.
Derry down, &c.
From India this jewel was lately brought o'er,
Though sunk in the sea, it was found on the shore,
And just in the nick to St. James's it got,
Carried in a bag by the great Major Scott.
Derry down, &c.
Lord Sydney stepp'd forth when the tidings were known,
It's his office to carry such news to the throne,
Though quite out of breath, to the closet he ran,
And stammered with joy, are his tale he began.
Derry down, &c.
Hero's a jewel, my liege, there's none such in the land,
Major Scott, with three bows put it into my hand;
And he swore, when he gave it, the wise ones were bit,
For it never was shown to Dundas or to Pitt.
Derry down, &c.
'For Dundas,' cried our sovereign, 'unpolished and rough,
Give him a Scotch pebble, it's more than enough;
And jewels to Pitt, Hastings justly refuses,
For he has already more gifts than he uses.'
Derry down, &c.
'But run, Jenkyn, run!' adds the king in delight,
'Bring the queen and the princesses here for a sight;
They never would pardon the negligence shown,
If we kept from their knowledge so glorious a stone.'
Derry down, &c.
'But guard the door, Jenkyn, no credit we'll win,
If the prince in a frolic should chance to step in;
The boy to such secrets of state we'll not call,
Let him wait till he gets our crown, income, and all.'
Derry down, &c.
In the princesses run, and surprised. cry '0 la!
'Tis as big as the egg of a pigeon, papa!'
'And a pigeon of plumage worth plucking is he,'
Replies our good monarch, 'who sent it to me.'
Derry down, &c.
Madam Schwellenbergh peeped through the door at a chink,
And tipped on the diamond a sly German wink;
As much as to say, 'Can he ever be cruel
To him who has sent us so glorious a jewel?'
Derry down, &c.
Now God save the queen, while the people I teach
How the king may grow rich while the commons impeach;
Let nabobs go plunder and rob as they will,
And throw in their diamonds as grist to his mill.
Derry down, &c.


Following hard upon the quasi national insolvency of February 1797-the natural consequence of an unsuccessful war-came a series of seamen's mutinies which threatened to paralyse the best arm remaining to England, and lay her open to the invasion of her enemies.

For some years the seamen of the navy had complained of their treatment, and, as was afterwards generally acknowledged, with just cause. Their pay, and their prospective pensions from Greenwich Hospital, had received no augmentation since the time of Charles II; prize money went almost wholly to the officers; and the captains and lieutenants often displayed much cruelty towards the men. In the month of March, petitions from four ships of war were sent to Lord Howe, who commanded the Channel fleet, intreating his lordship, as 'The Seaman's Friend,' to intercede with the Admiralty for the sailors, as a means of obtaining better treatment for them. The petitions were deemed rather mutinous in tone, but no special notice was taken of them. In April the Government were startled to hear that a mutiny had been planned at Spithead; the fleet was ordered hastily out to sea, as the most prudent course; but the seamen took matters at once into their own hands.

The officers were deposed and guarded; delegates from all the ships in the Channel fleet met in the state cabin of the Queen Charlotte; and these delegates drew up an oath of fidelity, which all the men accepted. The proceeding was of course unlawful; but their wrongs were grievous, and their general conduct in other ways was admirable. A humiliating correspondence was opened by the Admiralty; offers, in a petty, narrow spirit were made; and these offers were accepted by the mutineers on the 23rd, although not without some distrust. Mutiny broke out again on the 7th of May, because the men found that the royal pardon was not accompanied by an effectual redress of grievances. Again the mutineers displayed surprising dignity and forbearance, deposing their officers, it is true, but maintaining admirable discipline on board the several ships.

The Government, now thoroughly alarmed, hastily obtained an act of parliament for increased pay and food, prize-money and pension, to the seamen of the Royal Navy. Mr. Pitt displayed extreme mortification when asking the House of Commons to vote £460,000 for this purpose, and urged the members to pass the bill with as few comments as possible. Lord Howe, the best man who could have been selected for the duty, went down to Portsmouth with the act of parliament and the royal pardon in his pocket. On the 15th of May he had the pleasure of seeing the mutineers' return to their duty. All was not over, however.

The Nore fleet mutinied on the 20th, and called themselves a 'floating republic,' under the presidency of Richard Parker, a sailor of some education and much ambition. This was a mutiny that obtained very little of the public sympathy; it was not a demand for redress of real grievances, so much as an attempt to republicanize the fleet. The seamen at the Nore shared all the advantages of the new arrangements, and could only make new demands which the Government was quite justified in resisting. King, government, parliament, and people were against these mutineers at the Nore.

Batteries, served with red-hot shot, were planted along the Kent and Essex shores to shoot them; and the seamen at Spithead made it known that they had no sympathy with Parker's proceedings. Dissensions then broke out in the several ships of the rebel fleet; many of the seamen hoisted the national flag in honour of the king's birthday on the 4th of June, against the wish of Richard Parker; and this audacious man felt his power gradually slipping through his hands. The ships left the rebel fleet one by one, according as their crews felt the consciousness of being in the wrong. At length, on the 14th, the crisis arrived. Parker exercised his presidency on board the Sandwich, 90 guns, from which he had expelled Vice-Admiral Buckner.

The crew of that ship, in spite of his remonstrances, carried it under the guns at Sheerness, and delivered him up to a guard of soldiers. All the ships returned to their duty; very few of the men were punished; and soon afterwards a royal pardon was issued. Some of the more active leaders, however, were tried and executed. Parker's trial, on board the Neptune, lasted three days; he was cool and collected, and acknowledged the justice of the fatal sentence passed on him. His wife, a woman far superior to the general class of sailors' wives, made a strenuous effort to gain admission to Queen Charlotte, to beg her husband's life, offering a large reward to some of the attendants at the palace if they would further her views. All failed, and Parker was executed.

Circumstances which transpired during the trial brought to light the fact that many men had entered the navy whose antecedents were inconsistent with a sailor's life. Disqualified attorneys, cashiered excisemen, and dismissed clerks, wanting the means of daily support, were enticed by high bounty into the service; while two or three delegates or agitators from political societies, influenced by the excitement of the times, became seamen as a means of revolutionizing or republicanizing the royal fleets. Richard Parker in all probability belonged to one of these two classes, perhaps to both.