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on board his ship was, 'How much does she heel?' The last reply was, 18°!!! One more remark as to the culpability of Mr. Childers in this sacrifice of life. The 'Captain' was a ship of low freeboard ; but we have had many such ships. Almost all corvettes and brigs are ships of low freeboard. The adage known to all seamen is,-in ships of high freeboard, shorten sail to save the masts; in ships of low freeboard, shorten sail to save the ship. For this reason ships of high freeboard only were made to sail in line of battle. Their duty was to carry sail to keep station in relative distance to the admiral and their consorts. A spar might be lost or a sail blown away in this duty, but the ship herself was not compromised. The frigates and sloops attached to a fleet were detached from the line, and had power to shorten sail to save themselves without reference to the exact bearing of the admiral. But the Captain,' an experimental sloop of low freeboard, an admirable engine of war, but utterly unfitted for line of battle, was sent by the Admiralty without a word of warning, to cruise as a line-of-battle-ship. It is as well that these facts should be considered by the country. One word more on this painful subject. If a railway company had sacrificed, through its negligence, 500 lives, the surviving relatives would have received compensation at the hands of the company, and the shareholders would have had to pay for the maladministration of their directors. But 500 lives are sacrificed by the proceedings of a Minister of the Crown, and neither he nor his colleagues have asked the tax-payers to contribute any recompense for the lives so shamefully cast away. True it is, that the liberality of a small portion of the public have assisted as a charity to relieve the survivors ; but the claim upon the country is strong, and we trust it may yet be satisfied.

Flowing out of this event we now come to the dismissal of Sir Spencer Robinson. Mr. Childers, in his great zeal for economy, had got rid of the Comptroller of the Coast Guard, of the Storekeeper-General, of the Comptroller of Victualling, of the Chief Engineer, of the Chief Constructor, and of one Lord of the Admiralty. He had succeeded in banishing the trustworthy and able Second Secretary, Mr. Romaine, because he would not give his adhesion to the work of destruction. But he seemed to be closely united by strong personal sympathy to his two chief advisers, Sir S. Dacres and Sir S. Robinson.

Sir S. Dacres has, unlike most naval officers, consented to serve in successive Boards of Admiralty of opposite politics. He had been an adviser of Sir J. Pakington-he had been an adviser of Mr. Corry. He was in office with Mr. Childers, and is in

office with Mr. Goschen. He assented to Mr. Childers's reversal of the policy he recommended to Mr. Corry, and he candidly informed the Duke of Somerset's Committee that he disapproved entirely of most of Mr. Childers's changes. No doubt he will be equally compliant to Mr. Goschen. But Sir Spencer Robinson was made of sterner stuff. Many of the changes which he advocated we think unwise ; but he maintained his own opinions manfully, and sought no personal benefit. Sir Spencer Robinson was one of the admirals whom, with Sir F. Grey, Admiral Eden, and others, Mr. Childers had compelled to retire from the active list of the Navy. Like the other officers thus treated, Sir Spencer Robinson felt deeply injured, and sent in his resignation of the office of Controller of the Navy, as well as of his seat at the Board of Admiralty. But the official blandishments of the Prime Minister were brought to bear upon the justlyincensed Admiral. His request to remain on the active list was refused, but he was informed

· When you ultimately retire from the office you now hold, my Lords will urge on the Treasury to give full consideration in settling the amount of your pension, not only to the highly valuable services rendered by you to the Government and the country, but also to the whole circumstances of your appointment and to the consequences of your compulsory retirement from the active list, under the Order in Council of 22nd February, 1870.'

This was in June. In September the 'Captain' was lost, and from that day forward Mr. Childers and Mr. Gladstone sedulously devoted themselves to making Sir Spencer Robinson the scapegoat of this criminal blunder.

Mr. Childers, having ingeniously sapped Sir Spencer Robinson's character, and without informing his colleagues published the Minute already alluded to, disappeared from the scene, and left to Mr. Gladstone the task of dismissing the Controller. We have not space to do more than allude to the extraordinary correspondence which ensued between Mr. Gladstone and Sir Spencer Robinson in the interval from the 30th January to the 12th February ; but we think it is the first, we hope the only occasion on which an English Prime Minister, to cover a colleague, requested a retiring Minister to alter the date of an official Minute. Sir S. Robinson declined, as any gentleman would, to be guilty of such an act. His pension was then under consideration of the Treasury, of which Mr. Gladstone is First Lord. Sir Spencer Robinson had in June been promised full consideration, as quoted above; but having declined to falsify a date while his pension was sub judice,' would' our readers' be surprised to learn that he did not get more than the ordinary pension? When the public come to know these iniquities, is it too much to hope that not only Sir Spencer Robinson, but other gallant officers, of whose services the country is at present deprived, may be compelled to come back to the profession which they loved so well, and in which they served so honourably?

2 G 2

come

In pursuing our chronological record of naval occurrences, we must now note the return of the flying squadron. It will be remembered that when Mr. Gladstone took office, among the various retrenchments which he and his First Lord suggested, one was to withdraw many of the small cruising ships from various stations, and to employ a portion of the officers in a cruise in a frigate squadron, which was to fly all over the world and be found, whenever any international disturbance occurred, exactly where it was wanted. In these days of telegraphs and steam, they said orders could at once be forwarded, and it was absurd to keep vessels cruising on foreign stations where they might never be required. Those who preferred the former system, and ourselves among the number, pointed out that a few small vessels of light draught were comparatively inexpensive—that one or two of them on each station gave the means of protecting our commerce against barbarous enemies or pirates, and afforded our consuls and consular jurisdiction adequate means of support. In addition to this, and it was no mean advantage, it gave young officers a constant training in self-reliance; when far away from any bigher authority, they had opportunities of acting upon their own judgment in affairs requiring energy and promptitude, and frequently of great importance to the country. We pointed out besides that telegraphs might enable the authorities to “call squadrons from the vasty deep,' but would they come? and at least it was certain they could not come by telegraph.

The return of the flying squadron was accompanied by a Parliamentary paper detailing its proceedings. When the FrancoPrussian war broke out in July, it was at the antipodes and out of reach even of telegraphs, and it was not till the 28th of August that it received orders to sail for England from Valparaiso, which were immediately obeyed, the squadron reaching England five months after War had been declared, and when its fortune had been practically decided.

The result of this cruise also, which was performed at high pressure all the way, was doubtless to give some experience to a few officers; but in spite of the good provisions which they were able to obtain, it would appear that the effect of the cruise bas been' (we quote the words of the Report) to stunt the physical development of the boys, and to reduce the stamina of the men.' The Report also points out that the sudden and extreme alterations

of

of temperature were exceedingly trying, and says with reference to the passage across the North Pacific: “As it was blowing best part of a gale of wind' (where bitterly cold weather was experienced), ‘for some considerable part of the time accompanied by a heavy sea, the men were necessarily much exposed ; and in view of the continuous heat they had been subjected to during the last passage, it can readily be believed that their discomfort was intense,' Similar bad weather had been experienced on the passage from the Cape of Good Hope to the Australian colonies, and the principal result of this flying cruise to the country seems to have been the wearing out of two good frigates and the loss by desertion of 300 men.

Scarcely had the flying squadron returned and Parliament assembled, when it was discovered that, another economical crisis having affected the Admiralty, they had determined to use as a transport an old worn-out store ship, which had seen its best days half-a-dozen years before. Questions were asked in Parliament as to whether it was really true that the old worn-out Megæra' was about to be patched up to make a voyage round the world, following in the track of the flying squadron. But before discussing the fitness of the “Megæra' herself for this voyage, it will be as well to examine at some length the policy which dictated the voyage at all. When Mr. Childers made his absurd rule which discharged from the profession Captains who had not served afloat for seven years, it became necessary to shorten very much the periods of command to be held by any particular officer. But it was felt that though the personnel' must be always in a transition state, the ship herself_the_materiel'— might be capable of more exhaustive service. Formerly a ship was commissioned, and, failing death or some other cogent cause of separation, the Captain, the officers, and crew stuck together to the end of a commission, generally lasting from four wo five years. As a rule they became accustomed to each other, proud of their ship, and firmly united in the bonds of discipline. They regarded with pride an association, the recollection of which might possibly include many stirring adventures and much good service rendered, and looked forward with regret to a separation from those on whose good qualities they could mutually rely.

All this is changed. From the time a ship leaves the dockyard a continuous stream of officers and men is passing through her. And to effect this, transports are employed to convey this constant change of men to the ships stationed in various parts of the world. This is done regardless of expense; and it has a double disadvantage. Transports are employed to do that which the men-of-war in commission ought themselves to do;

and

on

and officers and men are kept for months in transports as passengers, doing nothing, instead of being on board their own ships perfecting their drill and discipline.

Two or three instances may suffice to show the enormous disadvantages to the public of the present system. At Bermuda, lately, it was decided to pay off and recommission certain vessels of the West Indian Squadron. Amongst these was H.M.S. Vestal.' A report had been received from her that she could be kept running for a year or too longer, if her boilers were thoroughly repaired. H.M.S. troopship'Himalaya' took out the new

crews for the various ships. The new crew embarked board the "Vestal.' Her old officers and crew returned to England. No sooner had the new crew embarked than it was discovered that the boilers would not stand much more work, and that Bermuda (Has this dockyard, too, been reduced ?) had not the means to repair them. The 'Himalaya’ brought the officers and crew of the former commission to England, and within a few days the Vestal' herself followed, navigated by the new officers and crew, to effect the needful repairs in England. Here we had another example of the arrangements of a Government whose claptrap cry is, forsooth, • Efficiency and Economy. Again, the Ocean,' in China, had her new crew and change of officers completed by transport within the last two years, and now that ship is ordered home as unfit for further service.

Those who know anything of naval discipline will understand thoroughly how very disadvantageous it must be to keep hundreds of men in idleness as passengers; and it must also be apparent, that it must be wiser to send out the ship in a seaworthy condition of thorough repair rather than to put officers and crews into half-worn ships, which will begin to fail them just as they have learned to act together, and know and depend on each other.

In th manner it came about that the ‘Megæra' was commissioned to take out the reliefs for three ships on the Australian station. A bad ship on a bad errand. The “Megæra,' an old iron ship, built about 1849, had been surveyed in 1866, and reported fit to be used as a store-ship for two years. On the strength of this report, she was used during the late administration for short passages, with stores to Rio Janeiro, to Ascension, and to the Mediterranean. After this her history is still in doubt. Temporary repairs were ordered, it seems, and the estimates cut down to save expense.

And then suddenly this old, worn-out ship, steaming badly, and never a good sailer, is sent on a service round the world in the depth of the antarctic

winter.

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