|From Sail to Steam
Naval Recollections, 1878-1905
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THE passage to the Fiji Islands was made, as usual, almost entirely under sail. We took a fortnight to get there, and then anchored in a beautiful land-locked, or rather coral-reef-locked, harbour at the little island of Ovalua, which in 1881 was the seat of Government, since moved to the big island of Viti Lavu, an island about the size of Jamaica. Ovalua was, no doubt, first chosen on account of its good harbour; but it had no other advantages, and was small and infertile - for a tropical island.
The following extract from a letter which I wrote home from Ovalua will give the reader some idea of our visit to the Fiji Islands:
" We had a big dinner at Government House, which is a large shed-like, comfortable, one-storied house. In the afternoon there was a grand ceremony on the lawn. A large space was covered with mats, upon which we squatted in a group, with the Princes, the Governor, and the Admiral, in the centre. And then there were all sorts of curious native ceremonies: Making and drinking of the kava (nasty stuff like soapsuds). Presentation of turtles, yams, coconuts, etc., to the Princes. Then the presentation of a whale's tooth, as an emblem of friendship, by the old ex-King Thakambau, personally, to the Princes; and a long speech by the same old gentleman, in Fijian, which sounded very well translated. Then all the principal
chiefs were presented to the Princes, and walked up one by one and shook hands with them, behaving, themselves in the most perfectly courteous and dignified manner, as if they had been accustomed to it all their lives - in marked contrast to the behaviour of English snobs under similar circumstances. Then after dinner there were native dances by moonlight, and the Inconstant turned her electric searchlight on to the scene, which produced screams of delight and astonishment. It is difficult to realize that these mild-eyed, amiable-looking Fijians were, thirty years ago, about the most bloodthirsty cannibals in the Pacific Islands. The missionaries have certainly done wonders here. Nearly all the Fijians are Wesleyans, and, we were told, very good ones. They have given up all their bad habits, notwithstanding that they are governed almost entirely by their native chiefs - subject, of course, to the English Governor, who has very arbitrary powers, one of which is that he can banish any objectionable white man from the islands without trial or bother of any sort."
Obviously, all that the Fiji Islands wanted was a dozen or two chattering lawyers, to take the part of the objectionable white man, with his trade whisky and other luxuries, to defend the poor fellow against the arbitrary acts of the Governor, and thus produce an ideal state of harmony, peace, progress, and perfection. Though, on the other hand, some old-fashioned people may still hold the opinion that there are sharks enough amongst the Pacific Islands already.
After a short but pleasant stay at Ovalua, the squadron sailed for Japan, and in a few days ran into the belt of calms on the Equator, where the weather was very hot, as it generally is in latitude 0°.
Then one evening after dinner, while we were still becalmed, the Admiral had a sudden relapse, much like his former illness. The doctors said it was due to the
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heat. They thought his condition very serious, and said that the only chance of saving his life was to get into cooler latitudes as soon as possible. So I suggested to the Admiral, who was very low and weak, but quite conscious, that I should make the signal to get up steam and steam to northward.
The answer I got was: " No. The squadron was not sent on this cruise to steam, but to sail, and exercise the men in seamanship." To which I replied that we couldn't sail without wind, and there could be very little exercise in seamanship in a calm, with the sails flapping against the masts. But it was no good. He would not let me get up steam.
The weather got hotter and hotter, and the doctors again warned me that they would not be responsible for the Admiral's life if we remained many more days in that great heat. " But," they added, " he is in a very nervous and irritable condition, and it would be equally dangerous to go against his wishes or to disobey his orders."
Here was a pretty fix! If I didn't get up steam it would kill the Admiral, and if I did get up steam it would kill him. So I went to him again and told him exactly what the doctors said, without mincing my words.
The answer I got was: " My life has nothing to do with it. If I die, Lord Charles Scott (Captain of the Bacchante) will take command of the squadron. But not while I live. The routine of the squadron must not be put out on my account, or because my life is in danger."
It looked like checkmate; but I thought of a plan, and carried it out. I could not get up steam in the Inconstant without the Admiral knowing it, as he would
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hear the buzz of the boilers and the lowering of the screw. So I made a signal to the squadron to get up steam, and then to the Bacchante to take the Inconstant in tow; and off we went gaily to the northward at eight knots an hour.
This went on for twenty-four hours before my dear old chief found out the trick I had played him. He was very weak, but managed to raise himself in his cot, looked out of the port, and saw that the ship was gliding along in an oily calm without any screw working. So he rang his bell and sent for me. He was very angry, and we had an unpleasant five minutes; but, as he gave no direct order to stop steaming, I let everything alone, and next day we got into a nice cool breeze and made sail.
The Admiral got rapidly better, and when it was all over he made such a full and kindly apology to me, for what he called his cross and unreasonable remarks, that he brought a lump into my throat. He thanked me warmly, and said I had acted in every way for the best in a difficult and trying position - thus giving me one more proof, had I wanted one, of his chivalrous and generous character.
The squadron arrived at Yokohama on October 21st (Trafalgar Day), 1881. This was my second visit to Japan, as I had been there in the old Retribution, attached to Lord Elgin's mission, in 1858, as recorded in my former volume. The change which had taken place in twenty-three years was marvellous. Foreigners were welcomed, instead of being rigidly excluded; a great European and American settlement had sprung up at Yokohama (formerly Kanagawa); and Japan - having passed through her great revolution, abolished her Shogun united her great feudal, semi-independant
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clans, and released her Emperor from his virtual imprisonment at Kioto - was taking her first strides in that truly wonderful transformation which brought her, in another twenty-five years, into the ranks of the Great Powers of the world, both naval and military, and made her virtually mistress of the Far East.
Can China do anything like it, and then, with her teeming millions, rob Japan of her hegemony of the Yellow Sea ?
I think not, but I decline to prophesy. At any rate, Japan's position, with a sufficient navy, is impregnable.
On our arrival at Yokohama, we found the Commander-in-Chief of the British China Squadron lying there in his flagship. He had heard of our Admiral's illness, and had very kindly and with great consideration hired and prepared a comfortable little house as a sanatorium for our Admiral, whom he strongly recommended to go on shore and recruit his health, and take further medical advice - meaning, of course, the advice of the Fleet-Surgeon of his flagship. Our Admiral turned the matter over in his mind, and finally came to the conclusion that, if he left his own flagship and took up his quarters on shore, his senior officer might order a medical board to sit on him, and invalid him home to England against his will. As long as he remained on board the Inconstant he was safe, and nobody could touch him, as there were strict orders from the Admiralty that he was not to be interfered within his command of the Detached Squadron - by any senior officer whom he might meet during our cruise. So he firmly declined to go to the sanatorium which had been prepared for him with so much care and forethought. And I have no doubt he was right.
The two young Princes, with their tutor and all the
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Captains of the squadron, except myself, went up to Tokio (Yeddo), and were presented to the Mikado. I had to stay at Yokohama to look after the squadron. This was the second time I had been quite close to Tokio; yet I had to wait for another seventeen years before I saw that picturesque city. Though by that time (1898) it had become far less picturesque, but more business-like, than it had been.
Then the Mikado came down to Yokohama and went on board the Bacchante, and returned the Princes' visit; but, as our Admiral had not been able to go to Tokio to pay his respects to him, he did not come on board the Inconstant ; of which I was secretly very glad, as I was able to take a day off and sail one of the Inconstant's cutters in an international boat-race, which I won.
After the Mikado had honoured the squadron with his visit, we went on to Kobe, and then through the Inland Sea to Shimonoseki.
At Kobe I made the acquaintance of the English chemist, Mr. Sim, who, I found, was one of the leading men of the foreign colony. He was president of the yacht club, stroke oar of the champion four-oared boat, a good shot, and a worthy representative of England in the Far East. He had a couple of good dogs, and he invited me to go out woodcock-shooting with him, which, of course, I did. But, unfortunately, there had been no snow in the hills, and the woodcock were not at home. Our bag was two woodcock, three and a half couple of snipe (the beautiful painted snipe), two pheasants, and two foxes (!) shot by my friend. I had been strictly enjoined to shoot foxes; but somehow or other, whenever I got a chance of doing so, my gun always missed fire.
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Our passage through the famous Inland Sea was somewhat marred by rain and mist, though at intervals we got fine views of its placid and unique scenery, so often described by the artistic globe-trotter - though, as I think, seldom or never exaggerated.
After passing through the narrows at Shimonoseki, the squadron went on to Shanghai; or, rather, as near to Shanghai as they could get, which, for the Inconstant and Bacchante, meant Woosung, twelve miles from Shanghai. They were too deep for the bar of the Woosung River; but the three small ships went right up, and anchored off the town.
I had a very pleasant little holiday at Shanghai. A shooting trip for the two young Princes and some of their shipmates was arranged, to go fifty or sixty miles up the Woosung River to shoot pheasants.
Lord Charles Scott was to have gone in charge of the party; but a prospective court-martial, over which he had to preside, prevented him from going, and I - nothing loath - took his place.
We were a party of eight, and we lived most luxuriously in four river houseboats, two in a boat. Dalton was one of the party, but he did not shoot. We travelled at night, towed by a powerful steam-launch, secured to the bank of the river in the morning, landed and shot all day, dined all together in one boat, and then retired to our comfortable beds in our own boats, and either moved on again at night or stayed where we were, if we found we were on good ground.
One of our party was Mr. Carles, the British ViceConsul. He was interpreter and general guide and manager of the expedition; he also took his own Chinese cook and personal servant as waiter, and we lived like fighting cocks. In some of the places we stopped at
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the pheasants were fairly plentiful, and in others they were scarce and hard to get up. They ran like hares through the cotton-fields, and we had no dogs. There were also a few quail and some of the little hog-deer, not quite as big as hares.
Neither of the young Princes was a good shot at this time, though Prince George was much the better; and, though quite a boy, he made second-best score of the whole party of seven. His present Majesty shot his first deer on this occasion, and, although it was no bigger than a hare, I believe he was as proud of that deer as he has been of any antlered monarch of the glen that has since fallen to his rifle.
I have been told that His Majesty is now a first-class shot. He had it in him as a boy.
Altogether we had a most enjoyable trip. The weather was cold and bracing, we got plenty of exercise, the life was a complete change from ship-life, and we slept warm and comfortable on board our house-boats. And, although we made a very poor bag, we let off plenty of cartridges.
From Shanghai the squadron went on to the Chusan Islands, where there is a good harbour for big ships, the nearest (twenty-five miles) to the great city of Ningpo, which, it had been decided, the Princes were to visit. They went up there in the paddle-yacht Vigilant with the Admiral and some of the Captains. I stayed at Chusan to look after the squadron.
Late one evening the Gunnery Lieutenant (the present Admiral Sir Percy Scott) came to my cabin and informed me, in a stage whisper, " I know where there are wild geese." " All right," I said; " when shall we start?" "Two hours before daylight to-morrow morning, as I think some of the other ships know about it,
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too." I ought here to explain that when ships are cruising in company, and anchor at a likely place, if anyone discovers sport of any kind, it is a point of honour that he confines the knowledge to his own ship. The other ships of course do the same; and although it is perfectly legitimate to " cut out " another ship, you must never cut out your own shipmates. This is thoroughly well understood, and the cutting out is done in a friendly spirit of rivalry, and often gives rise to amusing incidents, especially when some particularly enterprising sportsman exercises his strategy by laying a false scent.
Accordingly, next morning, two hours before daylight, I started in my gig, with Scott and Bishop, our young Marine Artillery officer. We had a long row in the dark, no lights to guide us, and Scott lost his bearings. So we decided to land on one of the small, steep, rocky islets, amongst which we were navigating, and climb to the top of it to see if we could make out where we were. We had just reached the summit, very much out of breath, as day was breaking, and at the same moment we became aware of the cackle of geese quite close to us. Three wild geese flew over our heads, low down and well within shot. " Oh, I'm not loaded!" says Scott. " Oh, I'm not loaded!" says Bishop. I fired both barrels, and Bishop managed to cram in a cartridge and fired one. Scott did not fire. One goose fell and we got him. We didn't get another shot, though we chased wild geese until it was noon and time to go back to the ship for the men's dinner.
" He that will not when he may,
When he will, he shall have nay."
The squadron went on to Hongkong, and there it finally broke up. The Bacchante and Cleopatra sailed
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for the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal; and Lord Clanwilliam - who was still far from well and not getting any better - at last allowed the doctors to invalid him, and sailed for Europe in a French mail-steamer. Twenty-four officers of the Inconstant rowed him to the mail-steamer in a twelve-oared cutter, double-banked. He wanted to make a little speech to the ship's company, to say good-bye to them; but he was very weak, his nerves were completely shaken, and when it came to the point he quite broke down. It was a sad parting, and I never expected to see him alive again. But he recovered almost completely when he got home. I sailed with him once more as his Flag-Captain, and he finished his naval career as Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth - the top rung of the ladder - and then became an Admiral of the Fleet.
After the break-up of the squadron, the departure of our Admiral, and the uncertainty of our future movements, we felt like the Queen of Sheba - there was no more spirit left in us. Or like Colonel Starbottle (what a jump !) - but was it Colonel Starbottle ? - who met with an accident, and "the subsequent proceedings interested him no more."
The orders for the remnant of the squadron - Inconstant, Carysfort, and Tourmaline - were to remain at Hongkong until the arrival of Admiral Sullivan from England, who was to hoist his flag in the Inconstant and take the three ships home round the Cape. This was rather hard on the two small ships, which could have easily got through the Suez Canal, though the Inconstant was doubtful; and it did seem rather absurd to treat three ships of totally different classes as a squadron, requiring an Admiral to take care of them.
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The rudder of the Inconstant had for some time been making very curious noises when we were at sea and there was much motion; so we sent the diver down to see if he could make out what was the matter, and he reported that there was more than half an inch play in the lower journal. The rudder was what is known as a balanced rudder; it was a gunmetal casting, weighing seventeen tons, and had only two bearings, one at the top and one at the bottom. It was obvious, therefore, that, the bottom one being loose and rattling about, the rudder-head would break sooner or later, and the rudder go to the bottom of the sea. I was ordered by the Commander-in-Chief (Sir G. O. Willes) to unship the rudder and land it at Hongkong dockyard. The dockyard authorities reported that there was nothing the matter with the rudder (which was technically true, so far as the rudder itself was concerned), and I was ordered to ship it again; which I did. But I was still convinced that, if the lower bearing was not rebushed, the ship would lose her rudder the first gale of wind she got into. So - to make a long story short - after much argument, it was decided that the Inconstant must be docked and the lower journal rebushed; but, as there was no dock either at Hongkong or Kowloon deep enough to take her, we had to go back to Japan and dock at Nagasaki ! And this was in 1882, before Japan had a navy.
Our own Chief Engineer, Mr. John Ferguson, took the matter in hand, made a perfect job of it, and we had no further trouble with the rudder. It was not his duty to have anything to say about a rudder. The rudder is in the carpenter's charge, as every schoolboy knows; but Mr. Ferguson was one of that class of engineers of the old school who never say " Not my
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duty." They don't know the meaning of the words. Nothing connected with the welfare of the ship in which they sail is not their duty. I have been shipmates with several of these men. They are generally Scotch men. Clever, resourceful, unassuming, dogged, determined men, not to be beaten by any job, no matter how difficult it may look. Many a time have I known the Chief Engineer sent for (and done it myself) about matters entirely unconnected with his own department - anchors and cables, guns, even work aloft connected with the rigging and sails; and never have I known him demur, or even hint that it was the duty of the gunner or the boatswain, and not his.
It will be interesting to see if the new much-educated engineer, with his vast theoretical knowledge, will be equally resourceful, and equally willing and able to tackle any and every job that may come in his way.
All ships have their own special peculiarities, and one of the Inconstant's peculiarities was that, when weights were taken out of her, she drew more water than she did before they were taken out. For instance, before going north to Nagasaki to dock, we landed all our guns and ammunition at Hongkong, and the ship then drew several inches more water than she did before. She simply " sat down " aft, and her bow cocked up in the air. Though, of course, we had the power of trimming her by moving weight forward, or filling the foremost compartment with water, which we did before docking.
We got back to Hongkong before Admiral Sullivan had arrived from England, so that I had time to get in coal, guns, stores, etc., and get the ship more or less ready for him. The passage from Nagasaki was made
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under sail, very rapidly, before a strong N.E. breeze, and, as I did not care to attempt the Lye Moon passage under sail, I went round to the western entrance, and determined to beat into the anchorage, just to show the China squadron (of course I mean the British China squadron) and a French frigate, that was lying in harbour, what fine sailors we were. But, alas ! pride had a fall. The ship was flying light and out of trim, and I did not make sufficient allowance for these things. When in trim, the Inconstant was as handy as a jolly-boat, and one could do anything with her; but on this occasion she got very nasty about it, and was uncommonly slow about coming up to the wind when the helm was put down, notwithstanding a commanding breeze and smooth water. We made eight tacks, and then fouled a merchant-ship and carried away her mainyard. After which I anchored, got up steam, and steamed ignominiously into the anchorage.
I expected to get some cold tongue from Admiral Willes when I went on board his flagship to report myself, as I had often heard that he was a remarkably good hand at serving out cold tongue; so I was very agreeably surprised to find him in the best of humours, greeting me with - " It did my heart good to see you beating that great ship in through the crowded anchorage. I was watching you all the time, and I could see how greatly out of trim the ship was, and how sluggish she was in coming up to the wind. Of course it was risky under the circumstances; but we all run risks sometimes, and that's better than undue caution. I wish the Captains of my squadron would handle their ships a little more under sail. They are all too cautious. Never mind about the merchant-ship's mainyard; we'll make her a new one in the dockyard."
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So I got off far better than I expected, or perhaps deserved.
As soon as Admiral Sullivan arrived and hoisted his flag in the Inconstant, the residuum of the Detached Squadron sailed for England via the Cape of Good Hope.
Nothing of interest happened during our voyage to the Cape; though I remember we passed close to the steep, rocky little island of Krakatoa, in the Straits of Sunda - an island that, a few years afterwards, was blown to smithereens by an earthquake and terrific volcanic eruption. Concerning which some sensational descriptions of the cataclysm appeared in the newspapers, from ships in the vicinity at the time. I remember how a captain of a sailing-ship described that he was becalmed about twenty miles to the eastward of Krakatoa, when suddenly he heard loud explosions; then it became almost quite dark, at two o'clock in the afternoon, and finally a rain of boiling mud fell upon his deck, so that they had to take shelter below.
No wonder the unfortunate man thought the end of the world had come.
Once more the Inconstant found herself lying in Simon's Bay; and this time she very nearly left her bones there.
I was dining on board the Carysfort one evening with Captain Stephenson, when a signal was made by the Inconstant, " Ship on fire!" Of course I hurried on board at once, and found that the ship was badly on fire in the officers' storeroom flat, and there was such a dense smoke that nobody could get near the fire. The only thing to do was to turn on all the steam and hand pumps and flood the compartment. But what was my horror when it was reported to me that the manhole doors of the screw alley were off ! (this is rather technical,
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but it meant that there was free connection with two other compartments), so that, in order to drown out the fire, we should have to flood three compartments instead of only one; and it became a question of whether the ship would float with three compartments filled. Burn or sink - which was it to be ?
But, besides this choice of evils, there was another and more immediate danger. The iron bulkhead of the next forward compartment, in which was situated the after-magazine, had become so hot that I could not bear my hand upon it. It was decided to flood the after-magazine and shell-room, and thus destroy half the ammunition in the ship; but this was better than all going up together, ship and all. Though, as there were two Rear-Admirals and three Post-Captains on board, we should have made some welcome vacancies.
By two o'clock in the morning the stern ports of the Inconstant were only about a foot above water, but the fire was out; so we set to work to pump the compartments out again, and had quite a night of it.
Next morning there was a pretty kettle of fish. Everything perishable, including all the biscuit, had been destroyed by salt water, and there was an indescribable mess. Not only the officers, but large numbers of the ship's company, had spent their spare money in Japan upon objects of art and utility, for which that country is famous; and nearly all these cherished presents for mothers, sweethearts, and wives, were destroyed, the crockery alone escaping. It was a sad sight to see poor Jack opening his parcel and finding his treasures scarcely recognizable.
This unfortunate fire - the origin of which remained a mystery - delayed us at the Cape for nearly three weeks, and thus eventually caused us to be late for the
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bombardment of the Alexandrian forts; though, of course, nothing of that sort was suspected at the time.
After leaving the Cape, on our supposed homeward voyage, our first call was at St. Helena; where we stayed for a few days, and, of course, rode up to Longwood.
From reading accounts, from various sources, of Napoleon's imprisonment at St. Helena, I had long held the opinion that the English Government treated their fallen foe with an utter want of magnanimity, consideration, and respect, which they might very well have shown him, without the slightest danger that it would add to his chance of escaping; but when I saw the wretched dog-hole of a shed which was provided for the accommodation of himself, his faithful followers, and his servants, and in which they had to live for nearly six years, I realized fully the extent of the meanness, the harshness, not to say cruelty, with which the great man - for he was a great man, though an enemy - had been treated by England.
The selection of Sir Hudson Lowe as gaoler to Napoleon was, to say the least of it, unfortunate.
He seems to have been a man of mean and vindictive character, without a spark of chivalry or nobility in his composition, ready to carry out his orders from the Home Government in the most oppressive, disrespectful, and inconsiderate manner that his pedantic and ungentlemanlike nature could translate them, those orders being in themselves mean and financially stingy and shabby to a degree quite unworthy of a great nation on the morrow of victory. Even if we allow something for exaggeration in O'Meara's narrative of the captivity of the greatest soldier and one of the ablest law-givers that ever lived, it is impossible to look back upon Napoleon's treatment at St. Helena without feel
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ing that the word " ungenerous " is far too mild an expression.
The subsequent surrender of his dead body to the French nation was scarcely a sufficient apology for the vindictive treatment he suffered during his captivity; though it was the only one available.
From St. Helena the squadron made the best of its way to St. Vincent, in the Cape de Verd Islands. And it was during this passage that a very remarkable zoological event occurred, the like of which I had never seen, nor even heard of, before. We were sitting at dinner in the Admiral's cabin, when there came through the ports a shoal of flying squid. One nearly hit the Admiral in the eye, striking his cheek with great force and leaving a mark there, and about a dozen of them were lying on the deck of the cabin. The creatures were between four and five inches long. They had no wings; but there was a thin membrane which projected on both sides, and extended from near the head to the tail. The ports through which they came were twelve feet above the water. We preserved some of them in spirits, and the scientists declared them to belong to a somewhat rare order of Cephalopoda. They must have been either attracted by the lights in the cabin or pursued by an enemy - perhaps both.
At St. Vincent we first heard that there was trouble in Egypt; so we filled up with coal and went as fast as we could to Gibraltar. But we had a foul wind nearly all the way, and as the Tourmaline, with her worn-out boilers, could not keep up, we had to tow her most of the way, which delayed us considerably.
At Gibraltar we met the Duke of Edinburgh, in command of the reserve squadron of eight ironclads. The Duke of Connaught was cruising with him, but hurried
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home overland to join his Guards brigade and come out to Egypt with Sir Garnet Wolseley's army to finish up the job at Tel-el-Kebir.
We filled our bunkers at Gibraltar, and went full speed to Malta, where we learnt that we were late for the bombardment, and that Sir Beauchamp Seymour's ships were short of ammunition. So we took in a heavy load of this and went full speed to Limasol in Cyprus, and then to Alexandria, where we found the fleet and delivered the goods.
It is not my intention to give any detailed account of the operations in Egypt, which left us no choice but to become solely responsible for the government of that country, and finally that of the Soudan also, after Gordon had been betrayed by Mr. Gladstone, in much the same shuffling, pusillanimous spirit as that in which he had betrayed Lord Roberts and British interests in South Africa after Colley's defeat at Majuba. In both cases his " statesmanship " was followed by its Nemesis, involving much bloodshed and vast expense.
The Egyptian campaign of 1882 is now ancient history. The Inconstant took very little part in it, except to keep a few of Arabi's troops tied to Kafre Dowr, and to act as a blind while the rush was made on the Canal. Though it was at Alexandria, on this occasion, that our Gunnery Lieutenant, Percy Scott (he of the wild-goose chase at Chusan), first showed his ingenuity in mounting heavy ship's guns on extempore field carriages, a service which he repeated with such excellent results some years later in South Africa, when he commanded the Terrible.
Admiral Sullivan went round to the Canal, and we saw him no more. And as soon as the Egyptian business was finished, I was ordered to take the Inconstant
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home to England and pay her off at Portsmouth; which I did in October. It was absolutely necessary to pay her off, as she had become what is now known as " insanitary."
When the three after-compartments were flooded to extinguish the fire - as recorded above - quantities of bread dust and other foreign matter got washed down into the bilges, and lodged in all sorts of places where it was impossible to get at it, without removing the lining and all the fittings - in fact, without completely gutting the after-part of the ship; and as this would be a long job, and could not be done while the ship was in commission, there was nothing for it but to pay her off.
The following extracts are taken from a leaflet, " Notes on the Detached Squadron," which I circulated privately amongst my brother-officers
" The Detached Squadron has not been a success, unless it be considered simply as an escort to the Princes during their visit to Australia and Japan; but as a training school for officers and men it has not been successful - that is to say, it has not trained them nor exercised them in subjects which would be useful to the country in time of war.
" Sending steamers which sail badly to make long sea-passages under sail is inconsistent with the spirit of the age and with the rapid mode of progression which is now universal; it is a waste of time, and both officers and men know this and it disgusts them. The men read much more now than they used to do, and they know quite well that a high state of efficiency in shifting topsails will be of no use to them in war-time, nor enable them to fight their ship any better than if they had never seen a topsail yard in their lives.
" The junior officers of the late Detached Squadron spent far too much of their time with the naval
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instructor, studying abstruse theoretical problems, and preparing themselves for examinations in subjects which will be of very little use to them as naval officers.
" Time and study would be better employed in learning steam, practical engineering, ship-building, metallurgy, electricity, torpedo work, and subjects of this description, which would be equally good as a mental gymnasium and would be eminently useful to them in their future careers."
There is a good deal more in my notes to the same effect; but I will not inflict any more of it on the reader, as it is all rather technical.
Shortly after the Inconstant was paid off, I got married, and solved once and for all the great problem which has puzzled the princes, the governors, the captains, king's councillors, magicians, astrologers, philosophers, and soothsayers, of all the ages-the great problem of How to be happy though married.
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