In this country [England] it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, to encourage the others. The reference is to Admiral John Byng, who was executed in 1757 for failing to prevent the French from taking Minorca.
. . . it would be very singular that all nature, all the planets, should obey eternal laws, and that there should be a little animal five feet high, who, in contempt of these laws, could act as he pleased, solely according to his caprice.