All ISN’T Fair in War

Viscount Townshend

Viscount Townshend

Here’s a fascinating piece from the Norfolk Chronicle of 21st October, 1780.

In the course of the present war, humanity hath found a distinguished friend in Lord Viscount TOWNSHEND. His behaviour does honour to the dignity of his rank and nature. For, prompted by system of the Cabinet, many horrid inventions have been laid before the Board of Ordnance, for taking unmanly advantages of an enemy, in the conduct of war. One plan was submitted to their inspection, and experiments were made to prove it, by which the enemy’s ships might be set on fire with certainty, at the distance of five hundred yards. This was to be done by the squirting of burning spirits on the enemy’s ship. Another plan of the same nature was proposed to do it by shooting fiery [sic] arrows, which should rankle in the sails, and communicate the flames. To all these inventions his Lordship with honourable humanity set himself in direct opposition. He declared that he would never give consent to any hellish system of unequal combat. War was already too horrid and destructive; it needed not the aggravation of secret plans to increase the profusion of blood. And he concluded with the honest remark, that while the Navy of Great Britain was directed by naval men, it would never sink so low as to need the assistance of such arts.

So, no scope for advanced technological warfare there!

About William Savage

Author of mystery stories set in Georgian Norfolk.
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