A Fleet in Being: Notes of Two Trips with the Channel Squadron (Google eBook)

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Macmillan and Company, 1914 - History - 42 pages
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Some thirty of her Majesty's men-of-war were involved in this matter; say a dozen battleships of the most recent, and seventeen or eighteen cruisers; but my concern was limited to one of a new type commanded by an old friend. I had some dim knowledge of the interior of a warship, but none of the new world into which I stepped from a Portsmouth wherry one wonderful summer evening in '97. With the exception of the Captain, the Chief Engineer, and maybe a few petty officers, nobody was more than twenty-eight years old. They ranged in the ward-room from this resourceful age to twenty-six or seven clear-cut, clean-shaved young faces with all manner of varied experience behind them. When one comes to think, it is only just that a light 20-knot cruiser should be handled, under guidance of an older head, by affable young gentlemen prepared, even sinfully delighted, to take chances not set down in books.

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Rambling notes from a journey. Not much of a coherent narrative.

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Page 32 - LETTERS Every day brings a ship, Every ship brings a word; Well for those who have no fear. Looking seaward, well assured That the word the vessel brings Is the word they wish to hear.
Page 40 - Fire and collision drill, general quarters and the like take on new meaning when they are translated for you, once by the Head who orders them and again by the tail who carry them out. When you have been shown lovingly over a torpedo by an artificer skilled in the working of its tricky bowels, torpedoes have a meaning and a reality for you to the end of your days.
Page 82 - Khartoum brush o' yours.' After a long pause, stepping back to catch the effect of a peculiarly juicy stroke head a little aside and one eye shut : ' Well, we've waited about long enough, 'aven't we?' Bosun's mate with a fine mixture of official severity and human tolerance: 'What are you cacklin' for over there! Carry on quiet, can't you?
Page 67 - ... vaunted discipline ; and it is no small thing to reduce to silence boys of sixteen to eighteen, all full of natural and acquired deviltry. But it was done according to the custom of the Navy and the etiquette of the Gun-room, whose laws change not. Here the young Nelson learns to obey, in silence and at a run. He has been broken in on the 'Britannia,' but the Gun-room gives him enduring polish. The Admiral knows a Midshipman rather as the Almighty knows a blackbeetle; the Captain knows him as...
Page 34 - ... strength and such power as we and the World dare hardly guess at. And holding this power in the hollow of my hand ; able at the word to exploit the earth to my own advantage; to gather me treasure and honour, as men reckon honour, I (and a few million friends of mine) forbore because we were white men. Any other breed with this engine at their disposal would have used it savagely long ago. In our hands it lay as harmless as the levin-rods of the Vril-Ya.
Page 83 - Do not believe what people tell you of the ugliness of steam, nor join those who lament the old sailing days. There is one beauty of the sun and another of the moon, and we must be thankful for both. A modern man-of-war photographed in severe profile is not engaging ; but you should see her with the life hot in her, head-on across a heavy swell. The ram-bow draws upward and outward in a stately sweep. There is no ruck of figurehead, bow-timbers or bowsprit -fittings to distract the eye from its outline...
Page 83 - ... day a waiting fleet will thus cheer a bruised and battered sister staggering in with a prize at her tail a plugged and splintered wreck of an iron box, her planking brown with what has dried there, and the bright water cascading down her sides. I saw the setting of such a picture one blood -red evening when the hulls of the fleet showed black on olive-green water, and the yellow of the masts turned raw-meat colours in the last light. A couple of racing cutters spun down the fairway, and long...
Page 19 - ... above a dying beast ; flung like a lasso ; gathered anew as a riata is coiled at the saddle-bow ; dealt out card-fashion over fifty miles of green table ; picked up, shuffled, and redealt as the game changed. I had seen cruisers flown like hawks, ridden like horses at a close finish, and manoeuvred like bicycles ; but the wonder of their appearance and disappearance never failed.
Page 24 - In these craft they risk the extreme perils of the sea and make experiments of a kind that would not read well in print. It would take much to astonish them when, at the completion of their command, they are shifted, say, to a racing cruiser. They have been within spitting distance of collision and bumping distance of the bottom ; they have tested their craft in long-drawn Channel gales, not grudgingly or of necessity because they could not find harbour, but because they ' wanted to know, don't you...

About the author (1914)

Kipling, who as a novelist dramatized the ambivalence of the British colonial experience, was born of English parents in Bombay and as a child knew Hindustani better than English. He spent an unhappy period of exile from his parents (and the Indian heat) with a harsh aunt in England, followed by the public schooling that inspired his "Stalky" stories. He returned to India at 18 to work on the staff of the Lahore Civil and Military Gazette and rapidly became a prolific writer. His mildly satirical work won him a reputation in England, and he returned there in 1889. Shortly after, his first novel, The Light That Failed (1890) was published, but it was not altogether successful. In the early 1890s, Kipling met and married Caroline Balestier and moved with her to her family's estate in Brattleboro, Vermont. While there he wrote Many Inventions (1893), The Jungle Book (1894-95), and Captains Courageous (1897). He became dissatisfied with life in America, however, and moved back to England, returning to America only when his daughter died of pneumonia. Kipling never again returned to the United States, despite his great popularity there. Short stories form the greater portion of Kipling's work and are of several distinct types. Some of his best are stories of the supernatural, the eerie and unearthly, such as "The Phantom Rickshaw," "The Brushwood Boy," and "They." His tales of gruesome horror include "The Mark of the Beast" and "The Return of Imray." "William the Conqueror" and "The Head of the District" are among his political tales of English rule in India. The "Soldiers Three" group deals with Kipling's three musketeers: an Irishman, a Cockney, and a Yorkshireman. The Anglo-Indian Tales, of social life in Simla, make up the larger part of his first four books. Kipling wrote equally well for children and adults. His best-known children's books are Just So Stories (1902), The Jungle Books (1894-95), and Kim (1901). His short stories, although their understanding of the Indian is often moving, became minor hymns to the glory of Queen Victoria's empire and the civil servants and soldiers who staffed her outposts. Kim, an Irish boy in India who becomes the companion of a Tibetan lama, at length joins the British Secret Service, without, says Wilson, any sense of the betrayal of his friend this actually meant. Nevertheless, Kipling has left a vivid panorama of the India of his day. In 1907, Kipling became England's first Nobel Prize winner in literature and the only nineteenth-century English poet to win the Prize. He won not only on the basis of his short stories, which more closely mirror the ambiguities of the declining Edwardian world than has commonly been recognized, but also on the basis of his tremendous ability as a popular poet. His reputation was first made with Barrack Room Ballads (1892), and in "Recessional" he captured a side of Queen Victoria's final jubilee that no one else dared to address.

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