Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/369

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either enterprise.[318] We must suppose that an opinion in which so many distinguished admirals, both English and Dutch, concurred, however strange it may seem to us, was in conformity with what were then the established principles of the art of maritime war. But why all these questions could not have been fully discussed a week earlier, why fourteen thousand troops should have been shipped and sent to sea, before it had been considered what they were to do, or whether it would be possible for them to do any thing, we may reasonably wonder. The armament returned to Saint Helens, to the astonishment and disgust of the whole nation.[319] The ministers blamed the commanders; the commanders blamed the ministers. The recriminations exchanged between Nottingham and Russell were loud and angry. Nottingham, honest, industrious, versed in civil business, and eloquent in parliamentary debate, was deficient in the qualities of a war minister, and was not at all aware of his deficiencies. Between him and the whole body of professional sailors there was a feud of long standing. He had, some time before the Revolution, been a Lord of the Admiralty; and his own opinion was that he had then acquired a profound knowledge of maritime affairs. This opinion however he had very much to himself. Men who had passed half their lives on the waves, and who had been in battles, storms and shipwrecks, were impatient of his somewhat pompous lectures and reprimands, and pronounced him a mere pedant, who, with all his book learning, was ignorant of what every cabin boy knew. Russell had always been froward, arrogant and mutinous; and now prosperity and glory brought out his vices in full strength. With the government which he had saved he took all the liberties of an insolent servant who believes himself to be necessary, treated the orders of his superiors with contemptuous levity, resented reproof, however gentle, as an outrage, furnished no plan of his own, and showed a sullen determination to execute no plan furnished by any body else. To Nottingham he had a