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Although then, the naval instructors were, as a body, able and zealous, and always anxious to impart to the young officers under their instruction such knowledge as lay in their power, yet in cases such as these it was not in human nature that they could avoid falling into despondency at the difficulties which beset them in the first place, and into utter indifference thereafter. Moreover, it was only in the larger ships that naval instructors were borne. In the very numerous classes of vessels commanded by commanders and lieutenants there is no accommodation for a naval instructor, and it was left entirely to the option of the master or second-master to undertake the teaching of the young officers in the intervals of his regular duties; the only encouragement afforded him for so doing being the magnificent sum of five pounds per annum for each pupils And the complement of officers in these vessels being small, the services of the midshipmen for the duties of the ship could not be often dispensed with; therefore in many instances the knowledge acquired by them in any branch of their profession, beyond that of seamanship, was of the smallest armount. The consequence of all this was, that many fine young men—whose ill-fortune had placed them during the greater part of their midshipman's time in small vessels, or whose studies had, from the causes we have pointed out, been neglected—found themselves, when the period arrived for their examination, utterly unfit for the trial; and preferred leaving the service of their own accord to the discredit of being rejected again and again. The subjects in which the candidates were examined to qualify for the rank of lieutenant were threeseamanship, gunnery, and navigation. The examination in the first of these was of a very unsatisfactory nature. It could take place
either at home or abroad, wherever three captains or commanders could be assembled together; but the very nature of the subject prevented any set form of questions being put, or any scale of . numbers attained, and necessitated the vivá-voce form. Therefore the degree of strictness of the examination depended entirely upon the disposition of the examining officers, and varied through every stage between excessive harshness and extreme laxity. Thus it often h \ppened that officers notoriously incompetent, were returned as qualified, while others—young men of good ability and much promise— were turned back for months. The gunnery examination on board the Excellent was a very strict one; it was conducted by regular examiners, and lasted three days; it required a complete knowledge of the subject to receive a certificate of qualification, and on this head there was nothing to be desired. The examination for navigation at the College was carried out, as far as it went, with the greatest strictness and impartiality; but it consisted of only the mere practice of navigation, required no mathematical knowledge whatever,” and obtaining even the highest honours implied no more than a superficial knowledge of the subject. Yet it was quite suitable to the amount of instruction which the midshipmen had, as a general rule, been able to receive.
Passed through this ordeal, and arrived at the position of a commissioned officer of the fleet, a young man found himself, except in rare instances, entirely devoid of any save professional knowledge, and that even of a very limited nature. Foreign languages, history, mathematics, the natural sciences, and even the fundamental laws by means of which he carried out the practice of navigating his ship—all were known to him by name only; and every year of service, every step he gained, brought his deficiencies more forcibly home to him. Thus at the age when education is usually completed, and young men are settled down to the duties of their professions, those naval officers whose minds recoiled from the thought of passing their lives in such a state of general ignorance, were compelled to begin at the very rudiments of learning, and in many cases to sit down to decimal fractions, the elements of algebra, and the first book of Euclid. That this is not only not an overdrawn picture, but a case of constant occurrence, every naval man will readily allow. To their credit be it said, a large number of officers, dissatisfied with their very limited knowledge, applied themselves with diligence in their intervals of employment to this—in many instances distasteful—task; and numerous are the names famous in the service by scientific attainments, whose information was only acquired by indomitable resolution and unremitting perseverance at a comparatively late period of their lives. Fully sensible of the deficiencies of the midshipman's education, though taking no steps to improve it, the Admiralty did certainly offer some slight encouragement to these officers, as will be seen hereafter. Those officers who had joined the service through the College were of course not to such an extent deficient in educational acquirements; but as they went to sea at the age of fifteen at latest, their proficiency at an after period depended to a great extent upon how they kept up the knowledge they had gained while at the College. Still, if any proof were required of the valuable results to be derived from a course of training, such as that in practice at the Naval College, it may be found in the fact, that many of our most distinguished officers passed through that establishment at the outset of their career. This most unsatisfactory state of matters continued until 1857, when -acting upon the report of a com
* We are now speaking of previously to 1857.
mittee appointed in the previous year—the Admiralty adopted the plan of a training-ship for naval cadets, through which all those joining the service for the future were to pass. The age of entry into the training-ship was to be from thirteen to fifteen, and a candidate was required to pass an examination in the following subjects: Latin or French, geography, Scripture his-, tory; arithmetic, including proportion and fractions; algebra as far as fractions, and Euclid as far as the thirty-second proposition of the first book. Candidates over fourteen years of age were also required to have a knowledge of the use of the globes, with definitions, algebra to simple equations, the whole of the first book of Euclid, and the elements of plane trigonometry. Six months was the minimum and twelve months the maximum time allowed in the training-ship, according to age, those joining under fourteen being allowed the whole year's instruction. At the termination of the regulated period, the cadet had to undergo a second examination, including all the subjects of the previous one, except Latin; and in addition to these, involution and evolution, simple equations, the elements of geometry, and of plane and spherical trigonometry, the simple rules of navigation, the use of nautical instruments, French, and a slight knowledge of surveying and constructing charts. If the cadet passthis examination satisfactorily, he was forthwith appointed to a sea-going ship, and at the expiration of fifteen months' service he was eligible for the rating of midshipman upon passing a further examination. If he failed in the examination on leaving the trainingship, he was to be rejected from the service entirely. The plan of instruction in the training-ship likewise comprised an elaborate course of seamanship, as follows:– “First Instruction.—A general knowledge of the different parts of the hull of
a ship, and how they are connected; the chemistry, astronomy, mechanics, nan.es of the masts, yards, and sails, and and bydrostatics—not to mention how lower masts and yards are built; the athletic exercises of the cutlassto make all the bends and hitches, and drill, swimming, and gymnastics to know the purposes for which they are and 'that the time allowed for the used ; to know all the signal flags and
raw schoolboy to get through this pendants, and to paint them in a book. .“ Second Instruction.-Boat exercise,
programme was from six to twelve rowing, and sailing; to be able to pull
months; it may well be imagined an oar, to steer, and to understand the wbat a process of “cram" it must principles of managing a boat under have been, even to gain a superficial different circumstances; to know the knowledge of such a variety of particular use of each signal flag and sobjects, all previously unknown, pendant, and be able readily to look out and many perhaps even unheard of, a signal in the signal-books; to be able by him; and how extremely imto beave the log, and to calculate the probable it was that learning thus length of the line for each knot. preterpaturally acquired could be
* Third Instruction.-Knotting and afterwards retained. In fact, the splicing; cutting out, fitting, placing, Admiralty had overshot the mark, and setting up rigging; questions in
and had gone to the opposite exthe standing rigging; names and use of all the blocks in a ship.
trerne. In their landable anxiety * Fourth Instruction.-General prin.
to steer the educational bark clear ciples of stowing holds and provisions;
a of the rocky Scylla of neglect, they position and arrangement of all the
had wellnigh swamped it in the stores; the general internal arrange Oharybdis of excess. Not that the ment of a man-of-war; general princi.
course of instruction was ill-calculples of berthing, messing, watching. ated to the wants of the Navy-tar and stationing men ; general duties of from it; a better-digested scheme, officers and petty officers with regard to one more suitable, could not have the different parts of the ship., been planned; but the time al
“ Fifth Instruction.—Methods of set- lowed to get through it was far too ting, reefing, furling, shifting, and taking limited. Two years at the very in sails, and making them up; shifting a least should have been passed in topsail and a topgallant-yard, and a top- the training-ship, and even this gallant-mast; principles of securing the yards for hoisting in boats; to learn how
g the would not have been sufficient to all the ropes are led, and their use.
gain a satisfactory knowledge of “Sixth Instruction.—Knowledge of
all the subjects embraced in the the compass, hand and deep-sea leads,
above scheme of instruction. This use of the helm, and the general princi: is strikingly evidenced by an a recples of manœuvring a ship; to know the dote related in a very intere ting names of the different parts of an anchor. pamphlet, written by Captain Harand the gear used for stowirg anchors: ris, R.N., late in command of the to understand the use of chain and hemp Britannia, from which we have obcables; the method of letting go and tained the above sketch of the past weighing an anchor, and passing mes. history of Daval education. Capsenger, nippers, and stoppers, and bend- tain Harris relates that he “was ing and bitting a cable, and the use of
much struck with a remark made compressors; method of mooring and un
by an Austrian professor, who had mooring, keeping a ship clear of her anchor, also the method of clearing
been sent by his Government to hawse; the effect of wind on the sails in
visit and report upon the system of turning the ship; the direction of preg.
training British cadets. After caregure on the masts; the effect of altering
fully investigating every part of the the trim of the ship on the helm, and establishment, he asked, “How many how she is balanced by the sails." years were allowed for this course
of study ?' And the same question When it is considered that, in was asked by an intelligent Swedish addition to all this, the cadets captain, who had been at the head were likewise to learn drawing, and of their Naval College.". to attend lectures upon steam, At the same time that the above
system was instituted, the final examination of a midshipman for the rank of lieutenant was extended so as to be in accordance with the new course of instruction. The Illustrious, an old two-decker, Was the first training-ship established; but she was soon found to be too small for the purpose, and the Britannia was fitted to take her place.
In 1860 and 1861 the system was modified to that now in force. The age of entry into the Britannia is now from twelve to fourteen; the examination on entry is the same as that above mentioned for boys under fourteen years of age, except that any foreign living language may be substituted for Latin or French, the Euclid is reduced to the definitions only of the first book, and no algebra is required. The course of instruction is now uniform —twelve months; general quarterly examinations are held, and those cadets who do not exhibit satisfactory progress, or whose bad conduct shows them to be unsuited to the service, are reported to the Admiralty with a view to being dismissed. At the completion of the year's instruction, the cadet undergoes an examination, as before, on leaving the training-ship. The full number of marks obtainable at this examination is 3000; and if he gains 2100, he gets a first-class certificate, which entitles him at once to the rating of midshipman, and gives him a year's sea-time. 1500 numbers give a second-class certificate, with six months' sea-time: in this case the cadet must serve six months as such before he can be rated midshipman, for which he must pass a further examination. A third-class certificate requires 1200 numbers: this gives no sea-time, and the cadet must serve twelve months before he is eligible to pass his examination for a midshipmans rating. If he obtains less than 1200 marks, he is discharged as unqualified for the service. Prizes and distinctive badges are also awarded for good conduct and proficiency in studies.
The arrangements of the Britannia were excellent as far as they went. There was abundant work to be done, and there was not much fear that the boys would fall into mischief through lack of employment, at all events. But the period of training was still far too short, and the principle upon which the system was based is an erroneous one, as we will endeavour to show presently. Moreover, the situation of the Britannia was open to grave objections, moored as she was in Portsmouth harbour, within a stone's throw of the dangers and temptations of a seaport garrison-town. Every precaution was taken by the gallant officer in command to keep the lads clear of the snares which surrounded them, and he was zealously seconded by the staff of officers and instructors under his orders: in fact, it may without fear of contradiction be said, that in no public school in the country are the boys more carefully looked after than on board the Britannia. But it was felt, nevertheless, that Portsmouth harbour was not a desirable situation (morally speaking) for a ship full of young lads; and the Admiralty, taking advantage of some cases of fever which had occurred, and which had caused a good deal of unfounded alarm in the mind of the public, sent the Britannia to Portland Roads as her future station, and since then she has been again moved to Dartmouth. And although the close vicinity of a first-class dockyard is a thing very desirable, for the purpose of practical instruction in many subjects which cannot be so well studied elsewhere, yet we think, under the circumstances, the removal of the Britannia from Portsmouth Harbour was a very judicious and proper measure. e have seen that in 1837 the Royal Naval College was closed as such for the education of volunteers —as naval cadets were then called. It was reopened two years afterwards upon a totally different footing, and for a different purpose;
bat previously to this another in- went far to make up for the neglect stitation had been established, of his earlier education. Too much which has proved of inestimable praise cannot be awarded to Sir Thobenefit to the Navy, and has fully mas Hastings and those who framed borne out the wise provision of its the course of instruction on board originators. It was determined in the Excellent. They felt the re1832 to provide for a want which proach upon their profession arishad been very much felt through- ing from the want of a proper edaout the service during the great cational system, and the serious Far-viz., & uniform and compre- inconveniences resulting therefrom ; bensive system of gannery. For and if they could not reform the systhis purpose the Excellent was tem at the root, where it was most commissioned by Captain (after- required, they could now do somewhat wards Sir Thomas) Hastings, as a to indemnify the service, and to make training-ship for officers and sea- amends for the deficiencies of the Admen in a regular course of guonery miralty. instruction. The peculiar confor The stimulus thus administered mation of Portsmoath harbour ren- was not without its result in andered it a most advantageous situa- other manner. In 1839 the College tion for the gunnery - ship; and, was reopened for the purpose of moored head and stern in a creek affording instruction to commisst the north end of the dockyard, sioned officers in scientific subjects ; completely ont of the way of the and as this establishment has been traffic in the barbour, with a prac- carried on to the present day upon tice-range of three miles dry at the same footing, it requires specia low water, the Excellent has for consideration. The building is the thirty-two years admirably fulfilled same as that before used for the her destined porposes; and, onder volunteers, the cabins formerly oothe command of Sir Thomas Hast. cupied by them being now allotted ings, and his able successors, has to the officers studying. The estrained annually a large body of tablishment was placed under the officers and men, who are, when general superintendence of the capproperly qualified, sent into the tain of the Excellent, but the imJifferent ships of the fleet to ins mediate charge of the studies was struct the ships' companies in the assigned to a Professor. To this various drills, and so disseminate important office the Rev. Thomas one general system. Among the Main was appointed, a gentleman many defects which the want of not only himself highly distinproper organisation has created in guished for his mathematical atoor naval service, it is a great satis- tainments having been senior faction to be able to turn to an esta- wrangler of his year-but who beblishment wbich is deserving only of longed to à very talented family, praise.
his brother, the Rev. Robert Main, When the Excellent was insti- for many years first assistant at tnted, it was determined to instruct Greenwich Observatory, being now the officers in the theory as well as Radeliffe Observer at Oxford. Το the practice of gunnery: The utter assist the Professor were Mr. Jeans, want of mathematical knowledge mathematical master, who had long possessed by all save the few who been associated with the College in had been collegians, made it neces- its former existence as assistant to sary to include a course of mathe. Dr. Inman, and who is well known mnaties in the scheme of instrac- as the author of a series of excellent tion; and as nearly every subject works on navigation and nautical bearing upon the science of gun- astronomy; and Mr. Brown, chief nery was likewise included, the engineer, who was appointed as " long course," as it was called, instructor in steam-machinery, and which an officer had to go through, has for many years most admir