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than her design, and that the consequences of this having been pointed out by Mr. Reed, they appeared to Sir S. Robinson so serious as to make him propose that the final payment should be deferred until the ship had been tried at sea.
It must be remembered that, for a length of 320 feet, as already stated, 12 feet freeboard were necessary in a seagoing, sail-carrying ship, and the 'Captain' was ready for sea, having not much much more than half that amount of freeboard. Messrs. Laird, the builders, before the final payment, called attention to this matter, and requested a further scientific investigation as to her stability. This investigation was delayed until August by the Admiralty, but without much effect upon the final result. For the investigation did not show the ship to be more critical than she was already known to be by the Admiralty, owing to the many reports Mr. Childers had received from his scientific advisers.
On the 31st May, 1870, Sir S. Robinson, having been at sea with the Captain' and Monarch,' reported, in the the words of an unprejudiced scientific officer who was sent to assist him, • The “Captain” is not a ship which should be much pressed under sail; a heel of 14° would bring her gunwale to the water, and from that point of course her stability would very rapidly decrease.'
On the 30th June, 1870, Sir Thomas Symonds, the admiral under whose command the ships next were, reported that he deemed no freeboard sufficiently high that obliges the use of a forecastle, and recommended the height of the Sultan' a highfreeboard, broadside ship, as that to be a adopted for turretships.
Now what effect had all these various reports and warnings on the mind of Mr. Childers? It may confidently be said that he totally disregarded them. He thought himself a more competent seaman, a more skilful shipbuilder than those whose advice his predecessors had accepted, and whom the country had appointed to advise him. Indeed before the “Captain' had been tried at sea, he had determined to build more specimens of her class. Mr. Reed before the Court-Martial gave evidence as follows:-I should state to the court, that nearly a year ago I did what I thought was right, in resisting, to the utmost of my power, a desire on the part of the First Lord of the Admiralty to increase the number of “Captains.”' Mr. Reed's resistance at length succeeded in postponing this harebrained proposal, till the loss of the 'Captain' put an end to it for ever. The place of Chief Constructor was, however, made too hot for Mr. Reed, and he was compelled to resign his office with all the accumulated
experience of years. Other countries are benefiting by his skill, whilst our Navy suffers from Mr. Childers' incapacity. To try the Captain' at sea was right-she was built for the purpose ; but to try her without giving full information to the officers entrusted with the hazardous experiment, was rashness bordering on insanity. Sir Alexander Milne, one of the most able and experienced of British admirals, who was commanding the fleet in which she was lost, stated before the Court-Martial, that he received no plans either from the Admiralty or from the builders of the Captain' and that he had only received Sir Thomas Symonds' Official report, from which Sir Thomas Symond's letter above alluded to was excluded.
Now it must be remembered that there was, in the possession of Mr. Childers, Sir S. Robinson's last report (in addition to all his former reports), in which he distinctly pointed out that when the Captain' heeled to 14°, she was in danger of capsizing. Sir Alexander Milne, who had been on board the Captain' all day, remarked on the way in which the ship was heeling over. If he had been informed of the angle at which the ship’s heel became dangerous,-information, with all the other depreciatory reports locked up in Mr. Childers's bureau, he would have shortened sail with his squadron, rather than run any risk to one of the ships under his orders. We say advisedly, he would have made the fleet shorten sail, for if the admiral had ordered the Captain' alone to shorten sail before any catastrophe happened, all the partizans (and they were many) of low-freeboard cruizers would have assailed him with reproach, for damaging her reputation in comparison with the high freeboard ships of the fleet. Any sailor can say how the • Captain' was lost; any sailor can say how she might have been afloat to
Captain Burgoyne, an experienced seaman, tired out with the fatigues of the day, had gone to rest.
The lieutenant of the first-watch had received orders to keep his station in order of sailing. The night was squally, but he carried sail, as in duty bound, to keep his station. During his watch he had experienced a squall, and the ship had come safely through it. At midnight a new lieutenant had taken charge. The ship was in her station: a fresh and heavier squall struck the ship, and she went over.
If Mr. Childers had done his duty, and acquainted Captain Burgoyne that the ship should on no account be allowed to heel over to 14°, as that heel was dangerous, orders to that effect would have been in the night order-book. The lieutenant would have shortened sail in time, and the ship would have been saved. Poor Captain Burgoyne's last inquiry Vol. 131,--No. 262. 2 G
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 2 G 2
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?
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 has 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