To gain conservative Catholic support at home, the French president, Napoleon III, in 1850 put pressure on the Sublime Porte - the government of the Ottoman empire, Turkey - to increase the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in the management of Christian Holy Places in Palestine, then part of that empire. This was opposed by the Russian Czar, Nicholas, who supported the Orthodox Christians there. Nicholas decided to use this crisis to increase his influence in the Ottoman empire, and in May 1853 he sent Prince Menschikoff to Constantinople to demand "substantial and permanent guarantees on behalf of the Orthodox Church", an impossible demand which would have meant an end to Ottoman independence. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were broken off and Russian troops occupied the Ottoman provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia (the "Danubian principalities") at the end of July. War between Turkey and Russia was now inevitable. After Russia destroyed the Turkish fleet at Sinope on 30 November, Britain and France became increasingly alarmed by the threat of Russian annexation of the Ottoman empire. When Russia ignored an Anglo-French ultimatum to withdraw from the Danubian principalities, Britain and France declared war in March 1854.
On 11 August 1853, shortly after the occupation of the Danubian Principalities, Queen Victoria conducted a review of a Royal Navy fleet at Portsmouth, at which Czar Nicholas's two eldest daughters, Maria Nikolayevna and Olga Nikolayevna - who happened to be in England to the time - were honoured guests.
|Extracts from the Times newspaper|
|Sa 6 August 1853|
PORTSMOUTH, AUG. 5.
The Fleet at Spithead.
Her Majesty will review the fleet on Thursday next, the 11th inst., and, according to present intentions, will be afloat by half-past 8 o'clock in the morning - a fact which railway directors and intending excursionists by train should bear in mind, if they wish to see the beginning of the interesting spectacle. It is, indeed, very early, but fleets are not moved about with quite so much facility as battalions of infantry. Visitors should be in Portsmouth on Wednesday night to insure witnessing the spectacle. The officially promulgated order of the day is, for the sailing line-of-battle ships, Queen, 116; London, 90; and Prince Regent, 90, to be towed out to beyond the Nab on Wednesday. On Thursday morning all the rest of the fleet will receive the Queen at Spithead at half-past 8, and then form two divisions, and join the larger craft outside the Nab, where manoeuvres, which will terminate in a sham fight, will be performed under the direction of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane, who will hoist his flag in the screw three-decker Duke of Wellington. Rear-Admiral Corry will shift his flag into the Agamemnon. The Lords of the Admiralty will arrive on Wednesday. One of the Board (Rear-Admiral Berkeley) arrived here yesterday, and to-day has been arranging preliminaries for the review. The sailing ships and screw steamers now form the van and centre lines of the fleet, and the paddle steamers form the lee line between. On Monday, however, the whole fleet will change their berths.
|Ma 8 August 1853|
PORTSMOUTH, AUG. 7.
The Spithead fleet.
The Blenheim, 60, Captain Henderson, C.B., returned from Ireland yesterday morning, and rejoined the fleet. The Queen, 116, Captain Michell, arrived to-day. The fleet now numbers the following ships and vessels:-
The whole will change berths to-morrow. The programme of the review, on Thursday, is officially what we gave on Saturday. It is feared the St. Jean d'Acre, 101, cannot be got up in time from Plymouth. The Lords of the Admiralty have engaged apartments at the George Hotel for seven members of the Board (the full number all but one), and will arrive in Portsmouth on Wednesday, on which day a part of the fleet will get under weigh (the sailing line-of-battle ships), or be taken in tow, and drop outside the Knab. On the following morning the remainder of the fleet (at Spithead) will "dress ship" early, and prepare to man yards, salute &c, on the arrival of the Queen in the Royal yacht. After the ceremony of receiving the Queen by a general Royal salute. &c., the steamers will weigh and follow the Royal yacht in two divisions outside the Knab, where they will join the other six sail, when various evolutions will be performed, terminating in a sham action, under the directions of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane, K.C.B., the Admiral of the Fleet for the day, whose temporary flagship (the Duke of Wellington) it is expected that Her Majesty will board, also that of Rear-Admiral Corry (Agamemnon), and probably others. After the review the whole will return to Spithead. Portsmouth and the surrounding neighbourhood are filling very fast with visitors, anxious to see this important marine spectacle; already the hotels are nearly all occupied, and private lodgings are at a premium. Boat accommodation, especially steamers, is daily bespoken, and any Thames' steamers of good tonnage might make a good speculation of the trip round to embark the thousands of holyday strangers who otherwise, we fear, will have but little chance of getting a glimpse of the doings outside Spithead. At present the fleet is moored thus:-
|Tu 9 August 1853|
THE REVIEW OF THE FLEET.
PORTSMOUTH, AUG. 8.
Rear-Admiral Corry struck his flag on board the Prince Regent, 90, at a quarter past 8 o'clock this morning, and hoisted it on board the Agamemnon, screw, 91. The steamers of the fleet had steam up by 8 o'clock, and by half-past the Prince Regent was taken in tow by the Valorous to the Knab Light, where she anchored, and was shortly followed by the London, in tow of the Vulture. Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane hoisted his flag on board the Duke of Wellington at 10.40, and shortly afterwards the fleet weighed and steamed out to the south-east, where they ranged in line, broadside on, apparently as if trying the intended proceedings for the review. At the moment of despatching this they appear through the haze (which is very thick) to be returning to Spithead. The Queen, 116, Prince Regent, 90, London, 90, Magicienne, 16, Valorous, 16, Tribune, 30, and Vulture 6, appear to have taken up their anchorage off the Knab Light. The Terrible, 21, paddle frigate, arrived this afternoon to join the others, and saluted the Port Admiral.
Rear-Admiral Berkeley returned from Chichester last evening, and took up his quarters with Captain Chads at the Royal Naval College, and continued the arrangements for the review to-day with the senior officer. It is considered somewhat remiss, that, considering the Admiral of the Fleet of Great Britain (Admiral Sir Thomas Byam Martin, G.C.B., Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom) is sojourning at this port, the compliment of commissioning him to hoist his flag (union at the main) and take the command-in-chief on Thursday next, has not been paid him. The gallant officer's energies are quite equal to the task, and, being at the head of the entire navy, his selection for such an office for the day would have been most àpropos, and highly appreciated by the service. The Bulldog and Gorgon steamsloops will be commissioned by Captain Chads of the Excellent and Captain Shepherd of the Victory, to carry some hundreds of the members of the Legislature and the Government friends on the occasion of the review; and the Stromboli will also be commissioned by Commander Sir William Wiseman, Bart., for similar service. A steamvessel is also placed at the disposal of the Imperial Royal Family of Russia, now sojourning in this country. One part of the grand spectacle of Thursday will be, we believe, an attack on one or more of the great line-of-battle ships by the gunboats of the fleet. The First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir James Graham, M.P., arrived on Saturday evening at Southampton, and embarked in the Fire Queen for Cowes, whence he proceeded yesterday to Portsmouth, and consulted the Port-Admiral. He returned to Cowes, and left Southampton by the first express train for London this morning, accompanied by Lady Graham and a small party of friends.
The Admiralty have issued tickets of invitation to 2,000 of their friends, and first class accommodation having been required for them, and the South-Western Railway Company not being willing to provide it at the expense of the public convenience, the company has had to provide first-class carriages to meet the engagement by borrowing from another company. The South-Western Railway Company also will start steamboats from Southampton for the accommodation of the public. The Peninsular and Oriental Company will also appear afloat in one or more of their noble steamers, accompanied by a brilliant party. The Tagus has been selected to accommodate the general officers and others from the Camp at Chobham to the number of one or two hundreds, who may be off duty on that day, with two military bands.
General Viscount Hardinge, G.C.B., Commander-in-Chief of the Army, will be the guest of Major-General Simpson, the Governor of Portsmouth, on the occasion, and will have suitable accommodation afloat provided for him-self, staff, and party, as also will Baron Raglan, Master-General of the Ordnance.
The Admiralty barge will be in charge of Lieutenant Mason, of the Victory, the senior lieutenant of the fleet.
REHEARSAL OF THE REVIEW.
Since the despatch, of our parcel per railway, the fleet has returned, and we have gleaned the following particulars of its proceedings:-
This morning the captains of the fleet were signalled to repair on board the Duke of Wellington, to meet the Commander-in-Chief, Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane, and receive instruction for the day's movements. Sir Thomas was attended by Rear-Admiral Berkeley, Rear-Admiral Corry, Captain Sir Baldwin Walker. Lord Leven (Lieutenant R.N.) was present as a visitor. Having received the order of the day, the captains returned to their ships, which had steam up, and then got under weigh in the following order, forming columns thus :-
The sailing ships Prince Regent and London were towed out by the Valorous and Vulture, and were met when half way out by the Queen, in tow of the Magicienne. These latter then all went round to St. Helen's and anchored. The Amphion was so slow that she could not keep her station, and was ordered to shift to the stern of the weather line in consequence. She afterwards returned to St. Helen's. The Terrible then arrived from Falmouth and joined company, but was signalled to return into port. The whole fleet then changed their position from two columns and formed line of battle, with their heads to the eastward. This having been done, signal was made to "alter course and general chase to southward," in which the Agamemnon took a decided lead even of all the full powered steamers; she was going at the rate of 10 knots, while the full powered paddle frigates were only going nine and six.
After evolution the whole fleet was ordered to chase north by east, when the Agamemnon showed a decided superiority. The fleet was then recalled from chase to form the order of sailing, prescribed, in two columns. Signal was then hoisted "Form line of battle, heads north and east." This having been accomplished to the satisfaction of the distinguished officers on board the chief flag ship, the order was again issued to form two columns, when the ships changed places, when the right hand column in the above detail became the left, and the left the right; in which order they ran up to Spithead, and anchored in succession as they were placed yesterday, with the exception of the Blenheim and the Amphion; the former of which ships broke down in her machinery, and the latter from the cause above assigned, and were ordered out of the line.
All the movements of the day, which were totally out of sight of the shore, were performed without accident of moment; indeed, the only casualty in getting away was a slight one that happened to the Ajax and Hogue by touching in the outward course from Spithead, which caused a small spar to be carried away. These will be found to be the principal movements performed by the fleet on review by Her Majesty on Thursday. The Port-Admiral has issued the following order for the guidance of parties on Thursday:-
"NAVAL REVIEW NOTICE.
"Sailing vessels and boats are requested not to attempt to cross the line of the ships of war about to be reviewed on the 11th inst., or on any account to pass between the columns.
"The steamers should keep to leeward of the columns or ships in order of sailing, as the smoke might prevent signals being quickly noticed, thereby causing accident. Masters of vessels must be aware that the evolutions of so large a number of ships of war require a considerable apace; they are, therefore, requested to steer accordingly, and not close in to interrupt the evolutions that may be ordered, as they themselves will alone be answerable should any accident occur.
"THOMAS COCHRANE. Vice-Admiral,
"Victory, in Portsmouth Harbour, August 8."
|We 10 August 1853|
THE REVIEW OF THE FLEET.
PORTSMOUTH, AUGUST 9.
The promised spectacle of Thursday is exciting a degree of interest quite unparalleled in this usually monotonous town. It is already filled with visitors, accommodation for whom is of course at an enormous premium. The fact that we have had no great naval review since that which took place on the 23d of June, 1814, in the presence of the allied Sovereigns, may account in some degree for the public excitement. Displays which occur at such distant intervals always have a strong attraction. The British navy is not now called, as on that occasion, to exhibit the strength which it had exerted in the course of a tremendous war. It is, on the contrary, the main object and highest aim of the forthcoming spectacle to illustrate what a protracted peace has done in increasing the efficiency of our wooden walls. Since the close of that frightful struggle which the last review of the fleet commemorated changes have taken place in every department of the navy so great and decisive that Nelson would hardly recognise it as the same service in which he conquered and died. In 1814 there was no such thing as a war steamer. Now, we not only have fleets of them, but it is quite evident that they have an acknowledged superiority to the old sail of the line, which must make us rely upon them mainly for maintaining our maritime supremacy. This, with all its consequences, and a thousand less important novelties, are the contributions of an uninterrupted peace to our best and surest arm of national defence. We cannot give a better illustration to the mechanical minds of our countrymen of the additional strength thus gained than by mentioning one or two little facts with reference to yesterday's rehersal. What was done on that occasion by the fleet would not have been practicable In 1814, when, as will be seen by a reference to contemporary authorities, the ships remained moored during the inspection of the Allied Sovereigns, and no evolutions were attempted. Now, yesterday they all went out to sea, manoeuvred, with as much precision as the troops at Chobham, came back again to Spithead with the utmost facility, and this they were enabled to do quite irrespective of sails, wind, or weather. On the other hand, the new power which the Admiralty has tasked to do its bidding consumed for yesterday's work from 300 to 400 tons of coal at least, and perhaps more. Thus the long peace, while it has vastly strengthened our naval resources, has rendered them proportionally dependent upon branches of industry which can only be prosperously carried on in times when public tranquillity is preserved.
The spectacle of Thursday will in reality from its character be quite unprecedented. It will recall nothing that much resembles any great seafight that has ever taken place. It will have rather a prospective interest by indicating what naval warfare, should it again occur, may be expected to be. After the many disasters that for a series of years have bean connected in the public mind with the management of the service, the forward aspect which it assumes, the immense progress which appears to have been actually made, and the splendour and novelty of the display which is promised as the practical illustration of what has been done, all tend to fix, upon this review a degree of interest throughout the country which is not surprising. There is nothing which we more earnestly desire as a people than the efficiency of the navy. We believe - not without pride - amidst all our grumblings, that our navy is the largest and finest in the world. On Thursday every one who can will come here to have his convictions on this point strengthened. The Queen will be there, with all her Court, both Houses of Parliament, the Admiralty of course, the Government, the diplomatic corps, and all that is great and distinguished in the State. The members of the Imperial family of Russia at present in this country will also be present. To the fleet, which consists of 25 ships, will be added, not only the steamers required for this concourse of dignitaries, but also those for the general public. The Peninsular and Oriental Company will have there one of their best packets, and altogether the display of steam power will be quite unprecedented. It might have been large, as it will be considerably augmented, had the Admiralty chosen to bring from Sheerness and Plymouth, as they easily might, the St. Jean d'Acre, the Neptune, the Waterloo, and the St. George, all first-rates. Probably they did not wish to give the Review a character that might have been, in the existing state of European politics, considered menacing by showing all their strength. The news which has just been received from St. Petersburg has diminished the sterner qualities of the interest with which the promised display had previously been regarded, but Thursday will nevertheless, if the weather continue propitious, witness a remarkable exhibition, not only of the efficiency of the navy, but of the favour with which it is regarded by the people whose shores are intrusted to its keeping.
Rear-Admiral Corry's division (port) of the fleet, consisting of the Agamemnon, 91 (flag), Hogue, 60, Ajax, 58; Arrogant, 46, Tribune, 30, Sidon, 22, Encounter, 14, Desperate, 8, Barracouta, 6, and Vesuvius, 6, weighed at 8 a.m. to-day, and proceeded out to the south-eaat, all under steam, and, after exercising all the forenoon, returned to Spithead, and moored by 2 o'clock to receive the Queen on passing through Spithead on her way to Osborne. The Queen, 116, London, 90, Prince Regent, 90, and Amphion, 34, attended by their wet-nurses of the paddle, remained at St. Helen's, in the position indicated in our yesterday's report.
Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Albert, and the Royal family, arrived in the Royal Clarence-yard at 4.20 p.m., and were received as usual by Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane, K.C.B, Rear-Admiral Fanshawe, C.B., Major-General Simpson, Commodore Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, Captain. Superintendent Courtenay, and the staff of the establishment. The guard of honour was furnished by the Rifle Brigade. The visual salute from the flagships Victory and Neptune denoted the Royal arrival. The Court immediately embarked in the Fairy and steamed out of harbour, the Platform guns saluting as the Royal vessel emerged from its mouth. Passing through the fleet from the east end, the crews on the yards of each ship cheered loudly, and the Royal salutes fired by the whole line in rapid succession had an exceedingly grand and imposing effect. Her Majesty arrived at Osborne about half-past 5 o'clock.
SOUTHAMPTON, AUGUST 9.
Very great excitement prevails here in reference to the approaching naval review. Nothing but the absolute impossibility of providing accommodation by steamers seems to stand in the way of an almost total depopulation of the port on Thursday next. Most of the Channel steamers have already been engaged; the South-Western Company's steamships Courier, South-Western, and Wonder, calculated to convey in all from 900 to 1,000 persons, having been chartered especially for London visitors expected to arrive by special trains, under arrangements already advertised. The smaller steamers, engaged in plying to the Isle of Wight, have been mostly hired by private parties, so that there is in fact little or no accommodation at the disposal of the townspeople wishing to view this magnificent naval spectacle. A French steamer, the Colibri, having arrived here from Havre, has been chartered by a private speculator, and visitors will be taken at 10s. 6d. each, but the number, owing to the smallness of the vessel, is limited to 170. The screw packet brig Brilliant is also to go out to the fleet, and will perhaps take 200 or 300 people, the price named being 21s. per head. All the small yachts are preparing for a cruise, and every boat in the river that can hoist a sail has been engaged for the day. Steamers are, however, decidedly scarce, and, judging from present appearances, thousands of persons must be disappointed from the entire deficiency of means to embark them. All the great steam companies are to be represented at the review, but in a very imperfect manner. The directors of the Royal Mail Steam Company have ordered the Thames, of 1,800 tons, to be ready to take them and their friends, while the Peninsular and Oriental Company have similarly prepared the screw steamer Cadiz, of about 960 tons, which vessel will have on board a party of the directors sand others connected with the company. The directors of the General Screw Steam Company are to go afloat in a little vessel called the Alar, of less than 100 tons, recently purchased as a tender. In a great national event of this sort, it is almost a pity that our gigantic steam packet marine should not take some more conspicuous part in assisting at the operations of the day. The West India mail steamer La Plata is lying in the docks, the finest paddle-wheel steamer in the world, if we except the Arabia, her consort at Liverpool. Then, the Peninsular and Oriental Company have the Bengal (the fastest screw steamer afloat), and the General Screw Company have the Queen of the South, a splendid specimen of a screw steam ship, all of which might easily be sent to unfurl with credit their several flags. The reason why these Seamers are kept back is, perhaps, a laudable one - viz, economy, and a fear of spending the shareholders' money. The cost, however, could not be much, and if a réunion of shareholders and directors - frequently two very jarring elements in the composition of public associations - were to take place, no harm would perhaps arise from the recreation afforded, or from the increase of good feeling which might spring up. Were each steam company to invite its respective proprietors possibly the next half-yearly meetings would go off more smoothly. It is stated that some parties in London offered 1,000 guineas for the hire of La Plata, belonging to the West India Mail Company, but the offer was refused. It is rumoured that the Cunard Company's steam ship, Arabia, is to leave the Mersey for Spithead with the directors of the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Company and a large party from Liverpool on board. If this be the fact, Liverpool will be represented by the fleetest Transatlantic steamer afloat. Some idea of the great demand for steamboats in this place may be formed, when we mention that a little tug steamer employed in the docks, named the Aid, has been put up to take passengers to the fleet on Thursday; and that telegraphic communications are being hourly received from the metropolis to engage tickets in any steamer at any price.
|Th 11 August 1853||The naval display which, gathers this morning to the magnificent harbour of Portsmouth and the waters of the Solent no inconsiderable portion of the population of this metropolis, and of the southern counties of England, is such a spectacle as hardly any man living has witnessed, and no one living could witness elsewhere. Larger armaments have doubtless been assembled on our coasts during the war, and on the eve of the great naval expeditions which have given to the British flag its imperishable renown; larger fleets have ploughed their way homeward, shattered with sea-fights and encumbered with prizes, from the memorable conflicts which left the British navy sole mistress of the seas. But, even in those days of effort and of glory, the navy never presented a force comprising, in a comparatively small number of ships, such a union of strength and skill as may be seen in the squadron now assembled at Spithead. The structure of our vessels is largely expanded and improved; and, although many successive naval administrations have borne the not undeserved reproach of wasted expenditure and abortive experiments, we have now reached a point of excellence from which we look down on all that had been done before. The Duke of Wellington and the Agamemnon, which, will respectively lead the port and starboard divisions of the squadron into this day's mimic battle, are by general consent the finest ships of their class which have been launched from our yards; and, as a sailing three-decker, the Queen will support comparison, without disadvantage, against any rivals. The main deck of these colossal vessels is the most striking picture which the eye can behold of the stern preparations and order of war. Armed with guns far exceeding in weight of metal the greatest power of our ships of the line in the early part of this century,- with guns directed with a nicety and. precision which enable a three-decker to point her broadside as easily as a sportsman aims his fowling-piece,- such ships would bring into battle a force which no enemy has ever yet encountered, and which probably no vessel afloat could sustain for half an hour without entire destruction. But, in addition to these improvements and augmentations of marine artillery, a new power has been harnessed to these huge batteries of the ocean, and the fanlike motion of a brazen fin, revolving by the force of an engine placed below the water-line, enables the helmsman to guide and place his ship, against all the accidents of wind and tide, with as much ease and accuracy as a battery of field guns. Naval tactics are the art of placing a vessel or a column of vessels in the manner best calculated to insure the destruction of the enemy, without enabling him to bring his full strength to bear on the ships opposed to him; and the perfection of seamanship is to accomplish these manoeuvres, in spite of the two most variable elements in nature - the wind and the ocean. The steam propeller has conquered these obstacles. Henceforward the movements of a squadron may be regulated with all but entire certainty; and the spectacle which many thousands of our countrymen will this day witness would hardly be possible without the powerful means of propulsion recently applied to the largest vessels in the navy. Some years ago, when HER MAJESTY reviewed a fleet of nine sail-of-the-line at Spithead, under Admiral Hyde PARKER, it was thought imprudent to attempt naval manoeuvres in so contracted a space, and the ships, though under all their canvas, remained at anchor. The movements of the present review will be of a far more real and decided character, and will give a most lively picture of the grand and terrible spectacle of a naval action.|
It is not, however, as a demonstration of the progress made by our naval architects, our gunners, and our machinists in the art of war that this scene is most attractive to us. To Englishmen the Navy is the symbol of Empire. That long and glorious tradition of heroic daring which runs through our naval annals is identified with all that has made this country what it is. We owe to it that power of discovery which has explored distant coasts and planted our flag on conquered isles; we owe to it that means of action which renders the people of this small kingdom denizens of the globe; we owe to it the extension of trade, the acquisition of wealth, the amazing spread of our language over lands upon which the light of civilization has scarcely risen, and the diffusion of the great ideas of Christianity and freedom. It is because, wherever the wind blows and the sea flows, a British ship-of-war may come to protect these principles, and to pursue these objects, that our national power is known and respected throughout the world. So widely extended is this influence and so great is the terror of this English name, that the spectacle of to-day is not a mere summer's pastime among the yachts of Cowes, but a political occurrence the significance of which will be understood in every Cabinet of Europe; and among the spectators of this scene there are some, at least, who may learn, that if foreign Governments imagined the martial spirit of this country to have declined, they were egregiously mistaken. We have no doubt that the language of the Peace Societies and their very shortsighted leaders has in this manner led us to the verge of the very danger against which they professed to guard us. They have not succeeded in relaxing the vigilance or the energy of their countrymen, but they have spread abroad a false and mischievous opinion that the English people are so absorbed in free trade and material prosperity that no cause, however momentous, would rouse them to war. That is a delusion which, as far as the preparations of the navy are concerned, it is well to remove. This squadron consists of vessels several of which were on the stocks twelve months ago; the crews have been raised by volunteering, under highly unfavourable circumstances, within eight months; and, while our flag is well represented at the Dardanelles by one fleet, the QUEEN OF ENGLAND, surrounded by all that is most illustrious in this nation, is reviewing another fleet in the Channel. No doubt the existence of this mighty force imposes on the rulers of such a kingdom, increased responsibility that it be used within the strictest limits of moderation and legal right. But it is the existence of such a power which enables them to speak with authority when the occasion requires it. Is it supposed that, because Admiral [James Whitley Deans] DUNDAS [Commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean] has not passed the Dardanelles, nor Admiral CORRY [Commander-in-chief of the Channel squadron] the Sound, the Russian Government is the less conscious of their influence? Is it imagined that the force of these squadrons has not been felt where it was most needed,- in the Cabinet of St. Petersburg and in. the Conference of Vienna? The answer is obvious: these preparations for war, and the alacrity of the people of England to obey the old call of resistance to injustice and violence, have taken by surprise those foreign statesmen who measured us by the standard of Mr. [Richard] COBDEN's [a radical reformer] patriotism; and the maintenance of peace, to which we now look forward, is mainly due to the existence of a naval force, not used for any purpose of provocation, but ready and efficient for every necessary emergency. In the present state of Europe, we are satisfied that the maintenance of a considerable force afloat is one of the chief guarantees of our security, and of the tranquillity of the world. In other countries you may see an array of troops, horse and foot, far outnumbering the gallant battalions at Chobham - in other countries you may witness the attack and defence of fortresses far stronger and more scientific than Chatham; but the evolutions of a steam fleet of line-of-battle ships, manned and manoeuvred by British seamen, can happily be seen in England alone.It is the result of what ages of courage and skill have given us for our defence, and for the defence of those great principles to which in evil days this island still affords a refuge. God grant it be a perpetual refuge! and that, while we retain our supremacy in naval war, that power may never cease to be exercised for the defence of justice and the maintenance of peace!
|Th 11 August 1853|
THE REVIEW OF THE FLEET
PORTSMOUTH, Aug. 10.
The excitement and rush of people to witness the great naval display announced for to-morrow are hourly on the increase. The novelty of the spectacle to be presented - the popularity of the service the efficiency of which it is intended to illustrate - the presence of nearly every great department in the State, of our own Royal Family, and of members of two other Sovereign European Houses - all these influences combined are telling with the weight which might be expected on the curiosity and interest of the public. To-day there is little to relate beyond this, - that while visitors are working themselves up to a pitch of excitement that almost boils over, the ships of the fleet are quietly at anchor under the cool shade of the Isle of Wight, taking it so calmly that one cannot help wondering why so many telescopes should be so eagerly levelled at them, and so many anxious, searching glances, cast in that direction. The list of ships to be reviewed, with their guns, men, horse power, and tonnage, the list of signals to be used, the salutes to be fired, and the appropriation of steamers to invited sightseers, are subjoined, so far as they have at present been promulgated, and these, to a certain extent, indicate what the order of proceedings is to be; but even now nearly everything awaits a final settlement, and the programme, when complete, may be cut short, or even altered, by Her Majesty. It is confidently believed, however, that the steamers anchored at Spithead will weigh anchor shortly before mid-day, and sail out to the Nab in the order in which they are at present drawn up; that the look-out vessels will then make the signal of 'An enemy on the south-west;' that this enemy will consist of the Prince Regent, London, Queen, Amphion, Barracouta, and Driver; that a general chase will then take place, after which the ships will form in order of battle, each beating to quarters, clearing for action, and engaging at cable's length; that, when, the fight is over, an attack will be made with the gunboats of the whole fleet upon three steam-frigates drawn up under Fort Monckton, and which will be captured by them. These arrangements are of course dependent upon time, and, as already stated, the Queen's pleasure; but the gunboat fight, which is brought near shore for the gratification of the general public, is expected to be the finest sight of all.
While the public on shore are exhausting all their energies in the scramble for tickets and lodgings, the ships - the 'Great Duke' alone excepted - are as quiet as if nothing unusual was going to happen. Sir T. Cochrane is giving his gigantic flagship a fresh coat of paint and an extra scrubbing, in contemplation of Her Majesty's visit, and for the last two days no visitors have been received on board. But with such a fleet no one need feel at a loss for specimens of the way in which our wooden walls are built, fitted, and manned. A visit to the Impérieuse, for instance, may be taken as a proof of this. Commanded by Captain Watson, she is expected to turn out one of the smartest steam frigates in the service. She has hardly yet had time to establish a reputation independently of the name she bears, but in her build and equipment the most recent improvements have been adopted, and she is thoroughly well-officered, as may be seen by the expenditure in paint-scrubbing-brushes, the polish of the guns, and a variety of details, the expense of which the Admiralty leaves captains and first-lieutenants who take a pride in the state of their ships to defray out of their own pockets. Even to the gallery for the shaft of her screw, a scrupulous cleanliness pervades the remotest corners of this fine frigate. Her armament displays to great advantage the accession of weight to the guns now used as compared with those in the last war, some reminiscences of which the awakens by a small brass cannon on her quarter-deck called 'the Nelson Avenger'. This is so mounted as to be capable of being brought to bear with destructive effect upon marksmen in the rigging of an enemy. The Impérieuse is remarkable for the spacious uninterrupted sweep both of her upper and lower decks. Her men were to-day following, without a sign of modification, the ordinary course of a man-of-war life - some tailoring, others at carpenter's work, others ropemaking, a few taking lessons in instrumental music, numbers stretched upon the deck fast asleep, and more attending to duty. What a miniature world it is that we find realized in these leviathans afloat!
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Prussia arrived at 4, per special train, from London, and was received at the Victoria-pier by Captain Crispin, of Her Majesty's yacht Victoria and Albert, and a guard of honour. The Prince embarked in the barge of the Fairy, and was saluted by 21 guns from the Platform battery on the Royal Prussian standard being hoisted in the Fairy, which conveyed his Highness to Osborne as one of the guests of Her Majesty.
The Fairy whisked away merrily towards the east, and after she had run out a mile or so from the shore the Prussian frigate and her consort roused out their men and sent them into the tops, and on the nearer approach of the little yacht manned the yards in very good style, as well as we could see from the shore. As the Fairy approached the quarter of the frigate a little jet of flame sprung from her dark side, followed by a curling belt of smoke, and ere the report reached the shore the whole of the squadron took up the firing, which soon swelled into a heavy cannonade and shook the windows of Portsmouth, rolling through the woodlands on both shores like a distant thunderstorm. The black hulls, which lay dotting the waters from Spithead all along the anchorage as far as Ryde, were soon enveloped in a bright 'fog-bank,' as dense and heavy as one of those heavy snow-white clouds one sometimes sees floating about towards sunset in a clear sky; and for upwards of three miles nothing could be seen but this 'war cloud,' constantly regenerated from, the sides of the fleet, spreading over and shrouding them in its fold, and then smoothed away beneath a gentle breeze from the south-east, which covered the Solent waters like a winding sheet. Above it, indeed, were visible the masts of the men-of-war, but all below was without form and void, and the sight filled one with melancholy reflections as to the possible extent of vision which will be enjoyed by these persons in the steamers to leeward to-morrow unless there is a very smart breeze indeed - a contingency which does not now seem very probable, and which, if it should arrive, might possibly be attended by still more disagreeable consequences to many of the visitors who are afloat.
The Fairy, having sailed round the Prussian frigate, ran down towards Osborne, though she did not man yards, and His Royal Highness landed soon after 5 o'clock, and proceeded to the residence of Her Majesty. The roadstead presents an appearance of great animation. A number of small yachts are cruizing about, and the water is dotted with men-of-war boats pulling in all directions.
The wind is freshening a little, and it is to be hoped that it will not alter, but that we may get a good topsail breeze, as the spectacle of to-morrow will then be much more effective.
The following are the signals issued to-day for the guidance of the Fleet to-morrow :-
When the Queen approaches Spithead a general Royal salute will be fired by all the ships of the fleet. This will be repeated when the Royal Standard is hoisted on board the Duke of Wellington, that ship not joining in the salute in consequence of Her Majesty's presence on board. On Her Majesty's leaving The Duke and re-embarking in the Victoria and Albert, previous to the commencement of the review, another general Royal salute will be fired, The Duke joining therein, and the Captains of all the ships are cautioned not to fire when the Royal Yacht is close at hand. A final salute will take place at the close of the review, when the Queen leaves the fleet.
The following list of the ships, their guns, proper complement of men - which, however, is in many instances incomplete - steampower, and tonnage, will be read with interest on the eve of the review :-
The following official programme has been issued:-
The whole of the steamships to be unmoored and hove short by 8 a.m. of the morning of the 11th instant, and steam up by half-past 8 o'clock.
On the Royal Yacht approaching the fleet a Royal salute will be fired.
As soon as Her Majesty has signified her intentions, the signal will be made for the steam fleet to weigh, and to form the order of sailing in two columns, according to the following order:-
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The leading ships will go easily ahead, to allow the other ships to take their stations; as soon as that is done, at the distance of one cable's length, the columns will steam out to the Nab, the leading ships preserving their line abreast.
After passing the Nab, the columns will steer a compass course, as designated, and as soon as there is sufficient space the signal 919 will be made, to form the line abreast, when from the order of sailing in two columns the fleet will assume the form No. 2 viz., line abreast.
Note. - The leading ship must go very slow, those astern of her to increase their speed as they become more distant, so as to take a relative distance from each other, when abreast their respective Admirals, of one cable's length.
When in line abreast, the signal shall be made to alter course together, as indicated; when executed, the ships will assume the form No. 3.
At this time a squadron of strange vessels will be seen in a S.W. direction, opening fire upon the line.
The ships, having been previously ordered by signal to beat to quarters, will, when so ordered, commence firing upon the supposed enemy; when firing ceases, the signal will be made for the Fleet to chase.
After the chase has continued for a certain time the recall will be made, and the signal will be hoisted to form line of battle, with their heads to the northward and eastward.
Note. - When the signal is made, the Duke of Wellington will lead, instead of being in the centre, and the other ships of the starboard division will take their relative places astern of her as before.
When the signal to wear in succession is made, the flag will bear up and pass to leeward of the Royal Yacht, each ship following her next ahead, at the appointed distance, and will probably come round with the head towards the Nab Light.
The ships will then be ordered to form two columns (No. 5), and to proceed to Spithead, or execute such manoeuvres as may be ordered, the leading ships being two cables apart.
Should signal No. 931, 'The port column to become the starboard column', be made, then the port column will keep steerage way only, until the leading ship can pass close astern of the rear of the starboard division, when they will put on all steam to gain their stations, the starboard column checking speed until they have done so.
It is to be clearly understood that no evolution it to be commenced until the flagship shall haul down the signal for it.
The dinner signal will probably be made on running to the Nab Light.
We understand that the following appropriation of steamers has been made by the authorities of the Admiralty for the visitors invited by them to witness the review: - The Grand Dutchess Olga and her consort, the Crown Prince of Wurtemberg, will have the Fairy placed at their disposal; the Corps Diplomatique, the Vivid; the House of Lords, the Stromboli; the House of Commons, the Bulldog; and the Ministry, the Black Eagle. The Hecla is intended for the conveyance of guests not belonging to any special body in the State. The Admiralty have several other steamers in commission on the occasion, but the only one that as yet has had its specific duties for the day fixed is the Lizard, which has been, with commendable regard for the means of gratifying public curiosity, placed at the disposal of the representatives of the press.
|Fr 12 August 1853|
THE REVIEW OF THE FLEET.
Some faint idea may be formed of yesterday's review from the aggregate of guns, horse-power, and tonnage in the fleet, and from the number of men required for the full complement of each ship, There were employed 1,076 guns, the power of 9,680 horses (nominally, but in reality nearly double that amount), 40,207 tons of shipping, and ships' companies that should altogether have amounted to 10,423 hands, although the actual numbers probably fell short of that by 1,000. The fleet thus comprised about the same number of men as are encamped at Chobham, only that, instead of being distributed in tents stretching over two miles of heath, they are cooped up in 23 ships-of-war, 13 of which are screw steamers, nine paddlewheel, and three sailing ships-of-the-line. The total steam-power employed, being stated at about half its actual value, probably represents a larger horse-power than all the cavalry regiments in the service put together, and when the nature of this modern agent is considered, and its adaptability for the purposes of naval warfare, the contrast which it illustrates becomes still more formidable. For giving certainty and rapidity to the movements of a fleet, and for all the attendant advantages which are thus secured, the steam-engine far exceeds the standard by which its capabilities are measured, and in this respect those who did not witness the spectacle of yesterday can hardly realize the effect which it was calculated to produce on all thinking minds. It is not that those influences have been almost entirely disarmed which invest the seaman's life with such perils, but we have in addition the sublime idea fully realized of man controlling the sea and subjecting the winds by a mechanical power developed by the patient observation of natural forces and the happy application of them to our wants. If, however, the fleet in its crews and steam-power had such a grand significance, when the number and calibre of its guns are taken into the reckoning the result is truly astounding. There were no less than 1,076 guns, the smallest 32-pounders, and as large as the largest used in the great sea-fights by which our ancestors won the sovereignty of the seas. The largest throw 84 lb. shells, which would be 104-pouuders if solid shot were used, and the frightful destructiveness of these missiles may be imagined, exploding on concussion, according to Captain Moorsom's recent invention. The great feature, however, of the armament of the present fleet is its 68-pounders, which produced, when fired, a prodigious effect both upon the imagination and the tympanum of all who witnessed the review. Thus, by its floating batteries of the heaviest description, and by the power of steam to move them rapidly into any position that may be required, the British navy has now become the grandest concentration of force for destructive purposes that can well be conceived. A tonnage of 40,207 tons in one fleet dedicated to such an object reminds one not only of the resources of a country providing such tremendous means of defence, but suggests also how vast must be the interests that require to be so guarded.
And now, having said thus much to prepare the reader for the details of the review, we might proceed at once with our narrative; but before doing so it is necessary to observe that no facts setting forth the character of the fleet, its armament, and capabilities can give any adequate conception of what took place yesterday, unless it be also borne in mind that this great spectacle, so peculiarly national, had every influence that could increase its splendour. The Queen, the Royal family, their illustrious guests, both Houses of the Legislature, the Ministers of the Crown, the Diplomatic Corps, a host of official personages; many of the most distinguished men, not only in the navy, but in the army also; crowds of eminent civilians, vessels of all the yachting clubs in this country, and some from abroad; a long train of attendant steamers, packed with excursionists;- such are among the concomitants of the review which must be borne in mind by those who wish to form a true conception of it. Above all, however, the spectacle was favoured with magnificent weather, and it was with bright sunshine overhead and a fine summer breeze crisping the waters that the Royal yacht was seen, at half-past 10 o'clock, rapidly approaching the fleet. The Board of Admiralty had arrived au hour previously in the Black Eagle, and swarms of steamers and yachts surrounded or shot through the lines of the fleet. The ships were unmoored and hove short before 8 o'clock in the morning, and soon after got up their steam, in which state they awaited the approach of Her Majesty. Then the proceedings of the review commenced with a Royal salute fired by the whole fleet, and the grandeur of which, great as it might appear from the shore, could only be fully appreciated on board. There no distance softened the effect, the fierceness, the impetuosity, and the suddenness of which were irresistibly striking, and the volumes of smoke which at one moment enveloped the ship being the next lifted up like a curtain, behind or through the rents of which the rest of the squadron could be seen hurling forth its quickly repeated fire. The Royal yacht passed gaily through the fleet to the flagship of Admiral Cochrane, and received in her progress a separate salute from the guns of the Prussian frigate, which at least served as a good contrast to the chorus of great guns that preceded it. The Gefion also manned yards - a mark of respect which the exigencies of the programme prevented the fleet from showing. When the Royal standard was transferred to the Duke of Wellington another general Royal salute was fired, and then an interval elapsed, during which Her Majesty inspected the great flagship. As a specimen of naval architecture, the Duke of Wellington well deserves the compliment of such a visit. Her towering bulk, conspicuous from afar, diminishes by contrast the largest steamers in the squadron. Her colossal proportions do not interfere with her speed, and she glides through the water as smoothly almost as the most finely made cutter. It was intended that a third salute should be fired when the Queen re-embarked on board her yacht, but it was signalled that this part of the programme was to be dispensed with, and about 11 o'clock the order was given to weigh. This was soon performed, and then, gradually assuming the following order, and escorted by a surprising number of yachts and steamers, the fleet, in two columns, put majestically to sea:-
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It is impossible to convey any suitable idea of the effect which this stately procession presented. A procession it was as ceremonious and precise as any could desire to see, the number of huge ships at stated intervals, and the broad avenue of clear water between the two divisions, still pressing on the mind the marvels of that mechanical agency by which such order and power are combined in one display on 'the inconstant deep'. The ships kept in splendid line on their way out to sea, showing proudly their long rows of portholes, and by their stern, uncanvassed rig, to which the smoke of their chimneys added an additional feature of sullen pomp, holding every intruding craft at a respectful distance. To soften the grandeur of the spectacle by a feature which might appeal to the gentler sympathies of all, the Queen, in her Royal yacht, led the squadron to sea, occupying a central position between 'the Duke' on the starboard, and the Agamemnon on the port side, but slightly in advance of both, Her Majesty and the Royal family, with their illustrious visitors, had an uninterrupted and perfect view of the marine pageant. They saw not only an unrivalled fleet, the fully developed expression of our maritime power, but an amazing number of attendant yachts and steamers, with which the sea swarmed as far as the eye could reach. In no other country of the world, and at no previous period even in this, could such a spectacle have been got together. Thousands upon thousands of spectators from Culver Cliff, and the other high grounds of the Isle of Wight in that direction, watched the great pageant as it moved out into the Channel. They had, apparently, calculated upon witnessing the sham fight from that elevated position, but must have been sadly disappointed, for when the action commenced the island was no longer visible, and, had it been so, the wind, which was blowing in an easterly direction all day, must have interposed all the smoke of the steamers and the guns between them and the fleet. Not so those who accompanied it, or were on board men-of-war. They saw everything with a distinctness that left nothing further to be desired.
A few miles below the Nab the signal was given to form line abreast, which the ships did at cable length from each other, and with magnificent effect. Some idea of their appearance in this position may be formed from the fact that the line extended about three miles from end to end. Fancy, therefore, looking along or fronting it. To the advance of the steam-fleet in this order the looming forms of three line-of-battle ships that gradually grew more distinct and formidable in the offing added a fine effect. They had been very conspicuous for some time before the Royal yacht appeared to have found them out, but at length she signalled three strange sail in sight south-east, and thereupon the Admiral makes signal, 'All take course together to the south-west.' The strange sail wore grandly while this order was obeyed, the drums beat to quarters, the hammocks were taken down from their position on the bulwarks, port-holes were thrown open, and the ships, now turning their broadsides to the enemy, formed in line of battle, and signalled the demand. No reply was made, though one could by a telescope very easily distinguish Admiral Fanshawe's flag flying at the mizen of the Prince Regent, which led the way under a cloud of canvass. She was followed by the Queen and London, also under a press of sail; while the Barracouta, Amphion, Vulture, and Driver steamers attended them as they bore down. The Prince Regent fired twice in approaching, as if to try the range, but beyond this there was nothing to distract attention from, the contrast which the sailing-vessels presented to their steam rivals. The deeper we get committed to the mechanical influences gathering around us, the more do we seem to regret those splendours of the past which we can no longer retain. This was a universal feeling yesterday, as Admiral Fanshawe's squadron neared the fleet. When they got within range, the latter opened their broadsides upon them, and the cannonade, taken up from ship to ship, spread along the line with an energy and rapidity quite astounding while it lasted, and, a fine fresh sea-breeze rolling away the immense volumes of smoke to leeward, enabled the spectators almost uninterruptedly to mark the splendour of the spectacle. The deep bass of the 68 and 84-pounders, chiming in at intervals with the sharper roar of the lighter guns, could be readily distinguished, and the observer could even note how these tremendous engines of destruction hurled forth a more projected and larger mass of flame and smoke into the wind's eye. Along the whole line of battle, nearly three miles long, the cannonading was kept up for many minutes with a fury which it is quite impossible to convey any idea of in words. The expedition and facility with which the crews worked their guns in the midst of all this terrible hubbab was a subject of nearer and hardly less interesting observation than the general effect of the battle. On board the Odin, commanded by Captain Scott, and the heavy armament of which is peculiarly unwieldy, this was very conspicuous.
The enemy had replied vigorously at the outset to the fire of the fleet, and this was sustained for some time; but at last the Prince Regent, the Queen, and London began to slacken their fire. When the firing had ceased and the great 'war cloud' formed by it had swept completely away, the signal was given to 'chase to the south,' and in this direction the whole fleet proceeded at full steaming speed. The movement was only continued long enough to make a fair display of the superiority of the Impérieuse, the Agamemnon, and the Duke of Wellington, screws. These would have beaten all the rest of the fleet, and seem to establish the inferiority of the paddlewheel construction to their own, not only for fighting, but even for speed. The Royal Yacht, which had retired to a safe distance during the action, joined with its attendant flotilla of steamers in the chase; aud both Houses of Parliament, in the Stromboli and Bulldog, also joined eagerly in the pursuit. They were bolder still; for, just before the engagement commenced, they passed through the line of the fleet into the central space between it and the enemy. They were thus exposed to the entire fury of the cannonade, and it is expected that, in consequence, for some time to come there will be a marked diminution in the number of interjectional 'Hear, hears' observable in our Parliamentary reports.
To yachtmen a leading attraction in this part of the review was furnished by the performances of two beautiful foreign vessels sent over to the Hyde Regatta, - one an American, the other a Swede, and both remarkably swift. These kept up with the squadron the whole day, and accompanied it on its return to Spithead. This return was made in the order which each ship could maintain by her sailing powers, the Duke of Wellington and the Agamemnon, however, easily leading. It was a fine irregular race back to the starting point of the morning, the stalwart and martial-looking war vessels shouldering their way by screw power through clouds of yachts and steamers. Far behind, under a press of canvas, came the gigantic sail-of-the-line - distance and the declining sunlight giving somewhat of a spectral character to their movements. The fleet reached Spithead about 6 o'clock, and on its arrival the signal was given for the gunboats of all the ships to assemble, manned and armed, round the Royal Yacht. The execution of this order involved a greater amount of exertion on the part of the crews than any other of the day's proceedings. Having seen proved the difficulties attendant on launching heavy boats with all the discipline and resources of a man-of-war at command, we can now understand how the terrors of shipwreck become so aggravated. Yesterday the gunboats of the fleet were all round the Royal Yacht in a space of little more than half-an-hour from the time when the signal was given. They then commenced, for the amusement of the multitudes of spectators on shore, a grand attack with great guns and small arms on the Magicienne and Conflict steam-frigates.
Thus terminated a spectacle unprecedented in this country, and that could be produced nowhere else; a spectacle which well accords with our national sympathies, and which is doubly gratifying from the light in which, it places the efficiency of our navy. If it restores our confidence in that surest and greatest arm of defence for this island kingdom of ours, it will not have been held in vain.
|Fr 12 August 1853|
(FROM ANOTHER OBSERVER.)
On July 16, 1845, now just eight years ago, Her Majesty Queen Victoria inspected the Experimental Squadron of that day, under the command of Admiral Hyde Parker. The sight attracted an immense crowd of persons from the metropolis and the surrounding country, and well were they repaid by one of the most splendid spectacles ever beheld. But at one time there were great fears entertained on shore that the sightseers would be disappointed. The success of the whole ceremonial depended on 'the wind,' which was then the deity beloved or the demon abhorred by poor Jack, according as it was fair or foul, for he was the exception to the 'nobody' to whom an ill wind is inferred to be of some advantage. Many an old sailor turned aside to pucker up his lips into a sly whistle, thinking, after all, there could be no harm in the moribund superstition and that it might do good to indulge in it, and it was felt that if these little supplicatory expostulations with Providence did not succeed and the wind remained in abeyance, the exhibition might do very well for Vandevelde to paint 'a dead calm' from, but would be very uninteresting to the Queen and her subjects. No doubt, too, there were thousands of good honest blue jackets who did not like seeing Her Majesty in a 'smoker' at all, and would much sooner have beheld the Royal standard floating from one of those gaily ornamented barges, which were fondly believed to be Royal yachts half a century ago by a generation not yet recovered from their reverence for the 'Shrewsbury Wonder,' and the 'Brighton Tally-ho.' But a mightier power than the wind was springing fast into maturity. The youthful giant was in baby clothes. Most people said he would never be fit for fighting, and recommended him to be kept to work on railways or to serve in the mercantile marine; but now he has grown up, and he has changed the whole tactics of war. Knock away the paddles or the shaft of a steamer of the old school, and you had a very dangerous log on the water, which might scald you to death, and which was deprived of half her broadside by the space taken up by her paddleboxes. Fire a shot into her, and the chances were she became a vast mortar filled with steam and blew the crew out of her. But now we have a perfect man-of-war, with a propelling force working down deep in the water, and secured against most contingencies except that of breakage, with her engines below water-line, and, despite the prejudices of our old 'salts,' there is reason to think that from and after this present time very few ships will be built indeed which are not provided with that potent auxiliary 'the screw.' In these eight years a complete revolution has been effected in our navy and our system of tactics, and the most striking evidence of the superior merit of the new order of things was to be found in the proceedings of yesterday, and, above all, in the rapidity with which it has been produced.
On the occasion of the Queen's visit to Spithead in 1845 the squadron consisted of the St. Vincent, Trafalgar, Queen, Rodney, Albion, Canopus, Vanguard, Superb, and Rattler. Of these, one - just one - (the Rattler) was a screw steamer! A vessel of 880 tons and 200 horse power, and by no means deserving of her name so far as speed was concerned, though built by Sir W. Symonds, represented our steam navy, all the rest of the squadron being sailing vessels.
Yesterday we saw in a fleet of 20 men-of-war 13 screw steamers, and these by far the most efficient ships in the whole squadron; and as if to admit the fact of their superiority in a tacit sort of way, the vessels of the squadron which was intended to be beaten were composed altogether of sailing vessels and paddlewheel steamers.
It was, in every sense of the word, a national exhibition yesterday, and, as far as might be, in spite of the localized nature of the display, a national holyday. Such a day was never seen in Portsmouth, even when our navy was wont to tow in whole fleets to testify to its prowess. Many a strange tale has been told ere this of the dreadful shifts to which visitors were put on Wednesday in order to find a resting place - the hotels were filled with people, who roamed all night in hopes of some one being driven out of his room by an electric telegraph, a fire, or insanity, and who, failing in their expectations, lay down in holes and corners wonderful to think of, and it is to be feared that many a respectable man with a well filled purse had no better resting place than his house-dog was enjoying in the back yard at home. The trains swallowed up thousands, only to leave more thousands behind, and then delivered them over to hungry watermen with the keenest thirst of gold ever known, or to innkeepers, seized with equally acute manifestations of a similar appetite.
The note of preparation sounded all through the night, and soon after daybreak the whole world of Portsmouth, Gosport, and Southsea rushed down to the beach to find the fleet quietly at its moorings with scarcely a sign of life on beard except the steam blowing off from the boilers. Thousands repaired to the dockyard in order to get on board the men-of-war for which they had orders; and so great was the anxiety to be in time that the yachts from Cowes and about the island ran over and anchored during the night in the shingle off Southsea beach, in order to get a good start of wind for the Nab in the morning, and stood off at an eatly hour for the point of action indicated in the programme which was published in yesterday's paper. The sky gave promise of a fine day - regular 'Queen's weather' - and the day fulfilled the pledge. The wind was east-northeast, and, though there was not enough of it for the sailing-vessels to work with, and to puff the smoke away, it would have been uncharitable and ungallant to have asked for more, when so many ladies were preparing to brave some amount of suffering in trusting themselves even to the tame and gentle Neptune of the Solent. Soft white clouds floated placidly through the blue sky, and the sun shone out brightly, the only consequence of his appearance being the adoption and use of an extensive crop of 'uglies', and the production of a good deal of refraction along the water, which interfered with the full scope of the telesope. As the morning wore on the crowds of course increased along the shore. Every landing-place was a centre of attraction, and men-of-war and shore boats laden with parties of ladies and gentlemen, and portly hampers of provender, crossed to and fro, coming and going in all directions, the sun's rays flashing brightly back all the while from the blaze of gold in the officers' uniforms as they sat in state and dignity in their trim gigs. Hour after hour passed cheerfully away, for there was plenty to see and remark upon in the ever changing panorama which lay before one from Southsea beach to the opposite shore, where the Isle of Wight, rich in all its natural beauties, formed a graceful background to the scene. Soon after 10 o'clock, some longsighted people declared the 'flag was down at Osborne,' and, indeed, it soon turned out they had reason to be proud of their eyesight or of their imagination, for the Royal standard not long after was transferred to the main of the Victoria and Albert, which lay off shore in the Cowes roads. The yacht in a few minutes afterwards left her moorings and steamed towards Spithead, threading her way with care and difficulty amid the innumerable craft that crowded the course. As she passed along the dense masses of people who darkened every eminence on the beach, and swarmed on the platform and ramparts, cheered again and again, until the sound, echoed from point to point along the Solent, rose like distant thunder.
Precisely at 10.45 the Victoria and Albert was seen advancing from Cowes road between the leeward ships of the fleet, passing first between the Vesuvius and Terrible, and then proceeding straight down the line towards the Duke of Wellington at the weather extremity. Suddenly three little balls are run up to the Admiral's fore, where they burst out into tiny flags, flutter for an instant, and are hauled down again. Away go as many balls to the fore of every vessel in the fleet and repeat the same process; and then those ponderous dark hulls, so silent, so deserted-looking, so gloomy, spurt out lightning, smoke, and thunder from their grim ports; The Royal salute, as rendered yesterday by 20 powerful men-of-war, was startlingly grand. In its terrific force and vehemence it appealed to nearly every sense, and woke that dread instinct of war which must be inherent in man. The roar so like to the mighty voice of the heavens in their anger, the quick arrows of fire running along the batteries and piercing through the sheet of smoke, and the graceful whirls of the wreath of aerified gunpowder exercise a powerful influence over the fancy, and reason, in spite of itself, submits to the power which it cannot analyse.
As the Royal yacht passed up the line, she was followed by the Vivid and Elfin, by the Fairy with the members of the Russian Royal family on board; by the Banshee (Lieutenant Hoskins), with General Simpson, Governor of Portsmonth, and several other distinguished officers; by the Black Eagle, Bulldog, and Hecla, laden with 'the Lords' and friends of the Admiralty; by the Stromboli and Gorgon, bearing on their decks both Houses of Parliament; by the Lizard, Fly, and several other vessels, carrying pendants and freighted with persons who had been provided with tickets for the day.
Nearly every yacht club was present in every form, from the clipper schooner of 200 tons down to the Thames cutter of 10, clothed in their snow-white canvas, big jibs and gaff-topsails set, and, flitting over the water in every direction, they formed the most beautiful coup d'oeil that could be conceived, stretching away for miles, tacking to and fro, running out of every creek along the isle, and firing their tiny armament with wonderful zeal and tolerable regularity. The dusky forms of numerous steamers, struggling under the enormous loads of living creatures who swarmed from stem to stern, on paddlebox, deck, rigging, yards, contrasted with the livelier hues of the sailing vessels and relieved their monotony. It is to be regretted, however, that in some cases the captains were more anxious to give their passengers an opportunity of demonstrating their loyalty than of consulting the convenience of those whom they intended to compliment - occasionally running their vessels so near as to interfere somewhat with the motions of the Royal Yacht, or, when to windward, favouring those on board with a full taste of their quality in the production of smoke. As the Royal Yacht advanced, head turned, the smoke was soon blown away, and her stately march between the ranks of the squadron was plainly visible to the many thousands afloat and ashore. At 11 o'clock the Royal Yacht was astern of the Duke, and her speed was slackened. She then slowly went on ahead till she took a position on the starboard bow of the Duke. Her Majesty, Prince Albert, and the Royal children, attended by a numerous suite, were seen on the deck admiring the giant man-of-war. The Prussian frigate (Gefion) and sloop manned yards in excellent style as Her Majesty passed, but the squadron did not follow their example, for it has been almost decided not to continue the practice in steamers, on account of the injury done to the men's clothes by the soot, on the yards and rigging. The Fairy now ranged up with the Russian Archduchesses and several officers in uniform on board. The Stromboli, rolling about beneath the weight of the House of Peers, lay still farther astern of the Royal Yacht, and Lord Palmerston might be seen chatting with one of the sailors just as he would speak to a diplomate or an Islington deputationist. The Black Eagle, with, the 'foul anchor' of the Admiralty flying at the main, was close at hand, and a crowd of yachts and steamers were at greater distances to leeward. At 11.30 the Prince of Prussia, the Crown Princess of Wurtemberg, and the Duchess of Leuehtenberg proceeded in a barge from the Fairy to the Royal yacht, where they were received by Her Majesty. The boats of the Victoria and Albert were then lowered, and Her Majesty, the Prince, and the foreign visitors proceeded on board the Duke of Wellington, followed by a brilliant staff. At 11.55 the Queen appeared at the stern gallery with her guests the Duke of Cambridge and Sir T. Cochrane, the Admiral of the port and of the day, and remained for nearly 10 minutes gazing with the greatest interest on the wonderful scene which lay before her. Her Majesty was greeted in the most enthusiastic manner by the passengers in the commercial steamers which happened to be near enough to see her.
At 12.5 the Queen returned to her yacht, Admiral Sir Hyde Parker and Sir Baldwin Walker came on board the Banshee at the same time, and it was soon evident that the proceedings of the day were about to begin. In a few minutes more the signal was given to weigh, and as the vessels had been 'hove short' since 8 o'clock, and had only one anchor down, they were all off in a few minutes, proceeding in the order of the published programme. The spectacle presented by the two columns of steamers following each other with much regularity, considering the difference in their relative speed, was splendid. At 1.30 o'clock 'the enemy' were seen in the distance, beating out towards the eastward, six or seven miles beyond the Nab light, and at 1.45 the signal was given to form line of battle, while the drums beat to quarters on board the squadron, and the ports were triced up and guns ran out. 'The enemy', consisting of the Prince Regent, 92; Queen, 113; London, 90; Amphion, 34; Barracouta, and Driver, were on the port tack - the sailing vessels with all the canvas they could set, the steamers standing away to windward of them. It was soon very evident that with all the advantages of their position wind must yield to steam, and that they could not escape the 'screw'. At 2.5 the enemy tacked and stretched away towards the English coast, while the squadron formed the line of battle, the ships moving in succession from their positions astern of each other, till they were in a line abreast - the two Admirals in the centre - the paddlewheel steamers on each flank, and the screws in the centre. This manoeuvre was executed in about 20 minutes, but the Duke and the Agamemnon had to wait some time for the blockships to come into line, and when there the latter could not keep their position, though, they did much better than they had done when in column. The approach of the two fleets was one of the most beautiful sights of the day, and the manoeuvres of the squadron of Admiral Fanshawe, being for the most part executed under canvas, formed the most attractive portion of it, the London being conspicuous for the ease with which she was handled, her superior sailing qualities (she spared the others royals), and the facility of her steering.
At 2.40 signal was given 'to chase.' At the same moment the Prince Regent tacked, and was, followed by the rest of Admiral Fanshawe's squadron, and at 2.45 the enemy formed line of battle, beat to quarters, and prepared for action, as it was quite evident nothing else could be done.
The Admiral fired a gun now and then as a signal to his beleaguered force. Nearer and nearer the hostile forces came, and every motion was watched with the greatest excitement by every one, from those on board the Royal yacht down to the sailors in the fleet. At 3.30 the squadrons were within less than a quarter of a mile of each other, and suddenly the action commenced! The broadside of the Prince Regent was tremendous - for regularity and rapidity she could not be excelled. She was followed by her consorts with an effective fire, but all the roar of their guns was drowned in the crashing cannonade of the Duke, the Agamemnon, and the screw fleet, which vomited forth the fire of their batteries with uninterrupted energy for nearly a quarter of an hour, when the firing ceased, and the enemy, maimed and wounded and crippled, was understood to be defeated. The Amphion and the Admiral imitated the effects of an action most admirably by letting sheets and tacks fly, hauling their yards out of trim, and letting down the yards on the caps, the former particularly contributing to this picturesque effect with remarkable skill. The whole fleet then steered south-east till 4.25, when a 'race' homewards took place, in which the Duke of Wellington and Agamemnon greatly distinguished themselves, and gave the Royal Yacht as much as she could do to diminish, her distance from them. The quiet smoothness and celerity with which the Duke moved through the water astonished every beholder, but in the end she was passed by the Agamemnon. At 4.45 Bembridge Light was passed, and the fleet proceeded in order to their former moorings, after which the review was terminated by the boat attack. At half-past 6 o'clock the Admiral made signal for the boats of the squadron to attack an enemy to leeward. The hostile force was represented by the Magicienne and the Vulture steamers, which took up a position within a mile of the Southsea beach. They lay 'broadside on' to the shore, and as soon as the boats were hoisted over the side they prepared their batteries to give them a warm reception.
The utmost activity prevailed among the vessels of the attacking squadrons, which were now anchored at the moorings they had left in the morning, in a line from Spithead all along the coast of the Isle of Wight. The rapidity with which the huge launches were cleared away, raised over the side, and lowered into the water, must have surprised those who had not before witnessed the admirable perfection to which the boat service of our navy has been brought. In a few minutes each vessel had its launch floating by its side, a carronade (a short, serviceable gun, of heavy metal) on its slide in the bow, and then poured into her its stream of seamen, marines, and marine artillery. With 24 oars, double-banked, the marines seated aft, the officer in command standing bolt-up in the stern sheets with the yoke lines in his hand, and the jack floating from the tall flagstaff in the stern, each boat was a beautiful object in itself, and formed an engine of war, so to speak, by no means despicable, having all the appliances of attack, defence, and retreat concentrated in a very short compass. A few minutes more, and the words 'Give way' sent from the sides of the squadron a flotilla of enormous force and power. The boats might be seen advancing with great velocity from the line of ships, swept along by the long powerful pull of the stalwart oarsmen, and converging as they advanced in two divisions - one for each of the devoted enemy. The Royal Yacht moved slowly up towards the steamers, and all the immense multitude of yachts and tenders, wherries, steam-vessels, great and small, swarmed astern of her, or dodged about here and there to find an opening in the thronged masses of hull and spar and rigging through which this exciting portion of the spectacle could be witnessed. Meanwhile the launches drew rapidly a-head, and as soon as the leading boat had cleared the vessels of the spectators a flash from the bows of the Vulture, followed by a gash of white smoke, showed that the fight had commenced. In an instant more the line of boats vomited forth a flood of fire and smoke. The carronades of the launches, served with great quickness, sounded a rolling bass of thunder to the smart sharp rattle of the musketry; and the irregular nature of the firing, at one time bursting into a simultaneous roar as the metal of boats and ships spoke in awful unison together, and now subsiding into the discharge of a single gun, diversified the tumult of the uproar. And now one could understand the formidable character of a boat-attack for, as the flotilla drew near the broadsides of the men-of-war and got into range, they divided and steered away, so that one division made for the bows and the other for the sterns of the ships at bay, thus escaping to a great extent the fire of the strongest portion of their batteries, and assailing them in their weakest points. The smoke blew away to leaward in advance of the boats, but as they drew nearer to the steamers it became so dense that they became altogether enveloped in it, and nothing could be seen but the wreaths of the snowy vapour rising in pile on pile, and hiding from view the animated work which it seemed as if anxious to conceal. The heavier metal of the frigates was heard at frequent intervals through the din of the carronades and firelocks, and at length the rapid rattling volleys of the marines on board, delivering their fire as the launches drew up alongside to board, were distinctly audible. Still more launches kept coming from the fleet, and opened fire as they formed their divisions, the marines all loading and firing as if for life and the sailors pulling with the regularity of machinery, 'till a loud ringing cheer - such a joyous burst of exultation that one might imagine the gallant fellows had won a new Trafalgar - proclaimed their victory over the enemy, and the firing was over. As the wind slowly rolled the clouds to leeward of the flotilla, bringing into view boat after boat and the hulls of the steamers, the coup d'oeil was one which no language can convey, for it was instinct with motion, teeming with energetic life. The boats were returning to their respective ships, from which the signal of recall had been hoisted, or with oars aloft were lying-to off the late 'enemy'; on the white beach at Southsea as far as the eye could reach, thousands of people were gathered in full enjoyment of the spectacle; every mound - very hillock - the ramparts of the fortifications, the tops of houses - any and every place, in fact, from which a view of Spithead could be had, were black with a swarm of human beings. On the other side, with the aid of a glass, it could be perceived that the whole population had poured down to the shores of the Isle of Wight, and the pier at Hyde and the hills towards the seaside were covered with men, women, and children. Everything that could float and move by sailor oar - and wonderful it was to see occasionally what feats, contrary to all appearances, were performed in this way - collected from all parts of the neighbouring shores, was on the water flitting about, so as to shut out the face of the waves, beneath a shifting veil of rope and wood and canvas. The Royal Yacht, beset with them like a queen bee by its loving subjects, floated tranquilly, the centre of, innumerable lorgnettes and prying eyes. At intervals some very dirty and very loyal steamer came waddling along close to the Victoria and Albert, and discharged a volley of hearty cheers from its living cargo as the well-known form of their Sovereign was seen on the deck of her floating palace; and gentlemanly yachts vailed their topsails as they came near, and ungentlemanly ones stool too close in and became objects of universal abhorrence, for the time being, to many thousands of people. Far away to the east a thick black background of coal smoke, left behind by the steamers, rested on the horizon, and brought out in fine relief the snowy canvas of the hundreds of yachts which were stealing up to their moorings. The slower steamers and men-of-war, with company on board, came hustling through them, each with a long dark trail in the air behind it, and, in the centre of the picture, Admiral Fanshawe's squadron, with every stitch of canvas that could be set, except studdingsails, bore down, majestically in line between the port and starboard divisions of its late assailants, towering above the pigmy craft as the pillars of some ruined Eastern temple over the Arab tents at their base, No other country ever exhibited a spectacle so grand and so impressive. It was a great Peace Congress, headed by the Queen.
(BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.)
SOUTHAMPTON, THURSDAY NIGHT, 10 o'Clock.
No public event which has happened of late years has excited such a strong interest in Southampton as the grand naval review which has so successfully terminated this evening.
During Wednesday afternoon and throughout the night a constant succession of trains brought an immense concourse of visitors to the town. All the hotels and lodginghouses were crammed, and enormous prices paid for accommodation. The price of the tickets issued by the various excursion steamers rose to a great sum, and transactions of this nature were even effected at an advance of 300 per cent. on the original cost, the tickets to a great extent having been bought up by speculators, one, two, and three guineas being freely paid for permission to go in the vessels.
The movement towards Spithead commenced this morning shortly before daybreak and steamers were rapidly despatched, filled with people, to the scene of action. At half-past 6 o'clock the Royal West Indian mail steamer Thames got under way, with the directors of the company, their friends, and distinguished party on board, to the number of nearly 400 persons, for whom a magnificent hospitality was prepared.
The Thames manoeuvred throughout the day in the rear of the fleet, and afforded the persons on board an excellent opportunity of witnessing this grand spectacle. At 9 o'clock the beautiful screw steamship Cadiz, under charge of Captain Cooper, and belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Company, started from the Docks, having on board a number of the directors of the company, with a large party, including the mayor and corporation of Southampton, the Governor of the Bank of England, several Directors of the East India Company, and many gentlemen eminent in the monetary and commercial circles of the metropolis. The Cadiz was early dressed with colours, and had the fine brass band of the steamer Bengal on board, which played during the day. On board this ship, also, an excellent entertainment was provided for the invited guests.
The Peninsular and Oriental Company having placed at the disposal of the officers of the camp at Chobham their steamship Tagus, a party consisting of nearly 200 from that encampment, and accompanied by the band of the 8th Hussars, embarked in that vessel, under command of Captain Killock, and have returned to Southampton highly delighted with their trip, and with the bountiful preparations and refreshments provided for them, by the liberality of the company.
Besides these excursions of a special nature, the several steamers of the South-Western Company, the Isle of Wight Company, and many vessels from London and various places which came to this port to provide conveyances for the masses anxious to go afloat, went off during the morning crowded with passengers, and have returned with their living freights, no damage or accident having, so far as we know, happened to mar the general enjoyment. The town is full of company, and in the course of the morning and evening the Docks have been visited by thousands of persons to witness the embarkation and return of the visitors from the review.
|Sa 13 August 1853|
THE REVIEW OF THE FLEET.
While the impression produced by this remarkable spectacle is still fresh upon the public mind, it may be well to direct attention to some facts connected with it which seem worthy of being recorded. That such an. event should hive taken place with so complete an immunity from accidents under circumstances so entirely favourable, and with such liberal and excellent arrangements for the gratification of all who witnessed it, may be regarded as scarcely less interesting and important than the brilliant success of the display itself. In former times sightseeing was encompassed by many risks, and its pleasures were not unfrequently damped by serious and distressing casualties. But now, with a vast extension of public curiosity, and a great increase of the occasions calculated to excite it, we enjoy a comparative safety and comfort quite unprecedented. A naval review is, of all spectacles, probably that which involves those who assemble to witness it in the greatest risk. Taking place on so grand a scale as that of Thursday, the fact of no serious accident having occurred is highly gratifying. It is computed that the event added about 100,000 strangers to the ordinary population of the vicinity in which it occurred, and that during its progress upwards of 1,000 steamers, yachts, and craft of all kinds were afloat, in attendance on the evolutions of the fleet. The public have therefore a debt of gratitude to acknowledge for the arrangements by which they were enabled to witness so magnificent a spectacle with so few drawbacks to the pleasure which it was calculated to inspire. Its thanks are in the first place, and most prominently, due to the Admiralty, for the liberal spirit in which they have acted, for the opportunity which they have afforded the country of appreciating the efficiency of its navy, and for the accommodation which they provided for all who had a claim to be present. The representatives of the press are under special obligations to them - to Admiral Sir T. Cochrane, to Mr. Triphook, his secretary, and, indeed, to all the heads of departments - for the facilities afforded them in the discharge of their arduous duties. The officers and men of the different ships composing the fleet, or attending it, are next entitled to thanks for the hospitality and good feeling displayed by them towards their numerous guests on the occasion. Preoccupied as they were by the business of the review, they had still time to spare for acts of courtesy and kindness. Most of the men-of-war had parties of civilians on board, all of whom received the greatest attention. It is expected that a brevet promotion will gracefully mark the Queen's approbation of what she witnessed.
Next to the authorities of the Admiralty and the officers and men of the fleet, the exertions of the different steam packet companies must be acknowledged. The facilities which they afforded were undeniably great, and tended very much, not only to the convenience of the public, but to the effect of the review. They had it in their power to cause vast confusion and inconvenience; but, with a very few exceptions, they adhered very laudably to the prescribed order of sailing; and probably the most flagrant breach o f rule throughout the day was committed by the members of the Legislature, who broke through the line of the fleet and took up a midway position at the moment when the action was about to commence. The railway company also exerted themselves creditably in providing for the accommodation of the public, but with a considerable difference as to the result. From the want of a proper staff great delay and confusion took place on the South-Western line. The subordinates did their utmost, and 13,000-passengers were conveyed to Portsmouth from the Waterloo station, but the directors seem unable to understand that upon an emergency they ought to meet the increased demands of their traffic. The Brighton and South Coast line has the advantage of a far more effective management, and in consequence by that a roundabout route passengers were able to reach the metropolis with much less delay. The whole question, however, of railway accommodation on occasions of this sort ought to be revised. Having seen a good deal of the inconvenience which the public suffers when events of interest concentrate them upon a particular point, we feel satisfied that there ought to be some understanding among companies to meet the difficulty. The pressure which has this year been cast upon the ordinary resources of the South-Western Company may next be the fate of any other line, for in this country we are every day becoming more gregarious, and already the resources of the locomotive and the rail are taxed to the uttermost to meet the usual exigencies of their passenger traffic.
A good deal has been said about the exactions practised upon strangers on occasions of this sort, but Portsmouth is like the rest of the world, and yields implicitly to the ordinary market law of supply and demand. Flooded with visitors, the charges for accommodation of every kind rose accordingly, but the George, the Portland, and other leading hotels maintained, under the circumstances, a moderate scale of charges, and, if all the world wants to go to a certain point at a particular time, it must make up its mind to pay smartly for what it gets. It is confidently asserted, that the town never witnessed such an influx of visitors, and great difficulty was experienced in supplying for them a suitable commissariat.
Altogether the review will insure for the Royal Navy a large measure of those benefits which in this free country invariably flow from publicity. The attention which it fixes upon particular ships tends to strengthen the recent regulations, by which the mischievous system of paying off crews when they had been brought into a state of complete efficiency is put a stop to. The Duke of Wellington, the Agamemnon, the Imperieuse, and other war steamers in the fleet will not now be lost sight of. A spirit akin to that which actuates our finest regiments, and which spreads through every branch of national industry, will be diffused among the ships' companies of our navy, and the great principle for which Sir Baldwin Walker contended throughout the recent dockyard inquiry will gradually be extended over the whole service.
|Sa 13 August 1853||In no one respect did the magnificent display of the Fleet on Thursday last fall short of the high anticipations we ventured to express on that morning, or disappoint the enthusiastic admiration of the largest number of spectators that ever floated at one moment on our island waters. From Spithead to the scene of the final evolutions of the squadron in the open sea, when the cliffs of the Isle of Wight had almost faded from the sight, the horizon and the ocean were literally crowded with vessels. The huge ships of war advancing in their array would have been lost in the incredible multitude of sails and funnels if they had not still towered above the lesser craft; for, on a rude guess, we believe that upwards of 100 steamers stood out to sea in the wake of the Royal Yacht, and these were surrounded by sailing vessels of every class, beyond the power of the observer to count or of the eye to distinguish. We leave it to others to convey, as best they may, in words, the beauty of that amazing scene, which will be remembered by those who witnessed it to the latest hour of their lives. But, in this place, we must be permitted to record one or two of the practical observations which it suggested as abundantly as the pleasing emotions of the sublime and the picturesque. To a naval observer the day was one of the most instructive that could be spent, and the lessons of naval science and experience belong to the most essential considerations of political life.|
A great deal has been written on the comparative naval forces of this country and of other nations, and elaborate attempts have not been wanting to prove what was termed the defenceless condition of our coasts. One year the Russian Baltic fleet was to bear down upon Sheerness; in another, the French Channel Squadron was narrowly to be watched from Selsea Bill to the Land's End. We so far concur in the opinion, expressed by nigh naval authorities and generally entertained by the country, that we hold it to be unworthy of England that any apparent possibility of foreign aggression should exist, and, consequently, that a considerable force ought to be maintained in our home ports, though there is no station in the world where it is so difficult to keep ships in good order and sailors in good humour. But we never doubted that this possibility of aggression was only apparent, and that whenever the naval strength of the country was put forth it would immeasurably exceed all that has been said of it} whether by its partisans or by alarmists. To a certain extent this has been done, and on Thursday we witnessed, the result. At the same time, it must be borne in mind that the navy still remains on its peace establishment, and that the fleet which Sir JAMES GRAHAM has been enabled to place in this highly efficient state comprises none of our extraordinary resources of war, except the addition of 5,000 men, which was very wisely and opportunely proposed at the close of last year by the preceding Administration. In the construction of ships the utmost wants of the service have been anticipated and exceeded; for, if we feel any regret at the present state of the navy, it is that such immense preparations, have been expended on a class of vessels which, perfect as they are in. their kind, are irrevocably superseded. The steady advance of the mighty line of the steam fleet upon Admiral FANSHAWE'S division of sailing ships impressed the spectator more than ever with the conviction, not unmixed with pain and melancholy, that the day of those ancient Lords of the Ocean is already past. With all their graceful postures, their skilful manoeuvres, their snow-white canvas, thrown into admired disorder by the preparation for battle, it was obvious that the fate of such a squadron would be inevitable in presence of a far inferior force, advancing against wind and tide, perfectly under command, and equally formidable in the attack and the pursuit. When the signal was given for the chase, the fastest vessels - which are, at the same time, the most powerful of their respective classes - broke away from the check the slower evolutions of the steam blockships had put upon their movements in the advance of the whole line. The Duke of Wellington, the Agamemnon, and the Impérieuse went ahead at a pace which nothing but the swiftest steam yachts could equal; and if, as may be conceived, we had a whole fleet propelled with similar velocity, the mere rush and impulse of such vessels would sweep down everything before them. Nor are their size and weight less remarkable than their velocity under steam. At the battle of the Nile NELSON'S fleet of 74-gun ships averaged about 1,650 tons, whereas, at the present day, the Impérieuse, a 50-gun frigate, is rated at 2,347 tons, and the Tribune, of 30 guns, at 1,570. The proportions in the fleet on Thursday were about 10 men, 10-horse power, and 40 tons to a gun, the weight of the guns and shot being increased in proportion to the diminution of their numbers and the concentration of their force.But we are told, and with greater truth, that though our progress in the mechanical departments of the navy is prodigious and undeniable, we find greater difficulties than before in manning the fleet. Under existing circumstances, and especially to man a Channel fleet, the fact is not denied. But to any one who sailed past the Nab Light on Thursday afternoon we answer the objection by the single word, "Look round." Conceive that immense seafaring population now employed in propelling these innumerable steamers for the purposes of mere locomotion and trade, and the excellent class of yachtsmen trained in those manly toys of the ocean, to be animated by a patriotic resolution to contend on their own element for the independence and greatness of their country! To our eyes, the exhibition of our maritime strength was even greater in that multitudinous and animated swarm of every floating thing than even in the compact array of the fleet, for there was the making of another such fleet in the ruck that clustered about its progress; and, even if any other State could put such an armament to sea, it would not have a score of vessels left to view its evolutions twelve miles from shore. Here, on the contrary, we not only had a fleet of 21 sail under the Admiral's orders, accompanied by about 30 more Government steamers, devoted on this occasion, with rare courtesy, to the accommodation of the public, but the nation seemed to have come out to witness the spectacle, and the scene might have been mistaken for the migration of a people. With these elements of naval power, and with the natural energy of Englishmen upon the sea, we cannot for a moment doubt that, whatever be the progress of other States in their marine, we shall remain ahead of them, as we are already and as we have been of old. There is, indeed, one flag which was honourably displayed among the yachts off the Nab on Thursday, and which will doubtless maintain its descent from the great maritime people; for among the rivals of England on the sea she will first recognize her own American offspring. But, until the United States resolve to devote to their navy sums far beyond their present estimates, and until they augment their steamships of war and their national seafaring population in a proportion now scarcely thought of, their navy cannot approach the navies of the great European Powers in collective strength, however readily we acknowledge the excellence of their several vessels. Upon the whole, then, this experimental demonstration must leave on the minds of all those who witnessed it and on the country at large a conviction that whoever has underrated our naval power has underrated the true strength of this country; and that, under the immediate encouragement and presence of a SOVEREIGN who has identified herself and her illustrious family with all that is dear and glorious to Britain, the Admiralty never sent forth a nobler squadron, and England had never greater reason to be proud of that service which still guards her independence and has won her most memorable triumphs.
|Ma 15 August 1853|
THE REVIEW of the FLEET at PORTSMOUTH.
Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane, K.C.B., Commander-in-Chief of Portsmouth, received Her Majesty's invitation to dine with the Royal party on Friday evening at Osborne. On his return through Spithead on Saturday, in Her Majesty's steam tender Sprightly, he summoned to him by signal all the captains of the fleet engaged in the late review, and communicated to them personally that Her Majesty had been graciously pleated to express to him her most full and extreme satisfaction and gratification at all that had taken place during the review of Thursday; and the gallant Admiral added some very complimentary and flattering expressions of his own, evincing his sense and estimation of the services rendered by all under his command on that memorable day.
In the evening of Saturday an express from the Admiralty brought their Lordships' official circular, expressing Her Majesty's pleasure at the manner in which the review had been conducted, and a lieutenant from each ship of the fleet was signalled to repair on board the flagship Victory, to copy the following special memorandum:-
"Victory, in Portsmouth Harbour,
"The Commander-in-Chief has peculiar satisfaction in communicating to the flag-officers, captains, commanders, officers, and ships' companies of the ships under his command, the accompanying despatch from the Secretary to the Admiralty:-
"'Admiralty, Aug. 12, 1853.
"'Sir,- The Board of Admiralty has received the command of Her Majesty to notify to you, and the admirals, captains, officers, and men under your orders at the naval review on Thursday last, Her Majesty's approbation of their exemplary conduct on the occasion. Each in his respective station was anxious to do his duty well, and success was the certain consequence.
"'Her Majesty observed with great satisfaction these effects of order and discipline, which never fail to sustain the honour of the British flag, and afford pledges of the undiminished power of the British navy."The Queen received also with peculiar pleasure the hearty proof of goodwill shown to her person, to his Royal Highness Prince Albert, and family, which mingled grateful feelings with proud recollections; and they added happiness to conscious strength in witnessing the evolutions of such a fleet - ready to defend the authority of the Crown and the independence of the nation.
"'The Admiralty directs you to make known this order to all officers and men on board the fleet now assembled at Spithead.
"'B. R. OSBORNE,