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ably filled this office. A captain of the Royal Marine Artillery was likewise attached to the College as instructor in fortification and mechanical drawing for the young Marine officers who came there to go through a course of study to qualify for the Marine Artillery. A lecturer on chemistry completed the staff of inStructors, Accommodation was provided for twenty-five half-pay officers—captains, commanders, and lieutenants —who were, of course, admitted free of all expense for instruction, and had also sundry allowances for messing, so that a small monthly subscription in addition was all that was required. A certain number of mates on full pay were likewise admitted, for whom a special course of study was instituted, and a lieutenant's commission was awarded to him who, at the sixmonthly examinations, showed the highest degree of proficiency. But a curious regulation was made: that every mate wishing to join the College for study should first go through the course on board the Excellent; therefore every one desiring to compete for the lieutenant's commission was compelled, whether he wished it or no, to become a gunnery officer. No doubt the course of study required in the Excellent was a valuable groundwork for the more abstruse and laborious subjects that lay before them at the College, and in most cases the mates were only too glad to take advantage of such a preparatory school; but there were occasional instances when an officer of true mathematical genius had attained a degree of proficiency which would have enabled him to enter the lists at once had he been permitted ; and in such cases—rare, certainly, but the more important on that very account—it was unnecessary and impolitic to compel him to go through the drudgery of the various drills, because he wished to follow up his scientific inclinations. It would have been better, because it would have manifested a
more liberal tendency, had it been left to the option of the officers themselves as to whether they chose to go through the Excellent or not ; and an examination on joining the College would have prevented any from entering, who were not possessed of sufficient attainments, and who, , therefore, might be supposed to join only for the sake of convenience. This is perhaps hypercriticism, however; for certainly, notwithstanding the above obligation, no measure was ever adopted calculated to do more good to the personnel of the service than this competition for the lieutenant's commission. In the earlier years of this arrangement, when the lieutenant's step was most difficult of attainment, and officers were frequently ten, twelve, and fourteen years a mate, the prize was of very great value, and the numbers competing were generally full. But when, in later years, matters, became altered, and officers obtained their lieutenancy, in the regular course of things, after only a year or two in the mate's rank, there was no longer any inducement for them to go through the severe course of study at the College; it was only those for whom scientific pursuits had a special charm who then cared to join the establishment; and for the last few years there have been no mates—or sub-lieutenants, as they are now called—going through this course of study. Although it is greatly for the benefit of the service that the promotion to the rank of lieutenant is made more rapid than it was formerly, yet it is to be regretted that some other arrangements
were not made, and inducements
offered, by which, either as sub
lieutenant or lieutenant, officers
should still find encouragement to
go through this course ; for the
system of study for the half-pay
officers is of quite a different na
ture, as we shall presently see.
The papers set at the mates' ex
aminations were very difficult, con
sidering the time allowed to go
through the course. They required a considerable knowledge of the higher branches of pure and mixed mathematics; and the problems in the Calculus, in astronomy, and in mechanics, &c., were such as might be met with in the Cambridge examination papers. In fact, the successful competitor for the lieutenant's commission and his closest rivals had to go through a twelvemonth's hard work, such as is known only to Cambridge wranglers; and instances occasionally occurred of the health of a candidate breaking down under the strain. It may well be supposed that the gainer of the commission held a proud position among his compeers; and it may with equal justice be presumed that the greater part of these successful officers, and of those also who strove—and in many cases ran a close race—with them for the prize, are now among the most distinguished ornaments of their profession. For the half-pay officers there was no particular course of study specified, but each individual was at liberty to follow up any subject for which he had an inclination. The time allowed at the College was a clear year's study—exclusive of vacations—and officers were permitted to join once in each rank. There are many officers in the service who have taken advantage of this permission; and there are some who have studied at the College as mate, lieutenant, commander, and captain successively. When , steam-vessels came into general use in the Navy, it was considered very desirable that the officers who might be appointed to command them should qualify themselves for this special service —as it then was—by acquiring a practical knowledge of the working of the steam-engine. Accordingly, they were encouraged to go to Woolwich Dockyard, which was at that time our only naval steam-factory, where an instructor was appointed and facilities were afforded for that purpose. Others studied the subject at various private fac
tories, the owners of which, in the most public-spirited manner, gave them every assistance in carrying out their object; one of these establishments, to which many officers repaired, being that of the Messrs Napier of Glasgow. Some officers, anxious to gain a thorough knowledge of the subject, did not disdain to wear the mechanic's apron and work at the lathe, or to take their turn in the stoke-hole and engineroom on board some steamer. In those days the command of a steamvessel was only given to those who had gone through a course of instruction in steam-machinery; and many officers who had failed to obtain employment in the ordinary course of matters, succeeded in doing so by this means. When the College was established upon its present footing, the instruction of officers in steam was naturally in
cluded in the arrangements; and
a small steamer, the Bee, of ten horse-power, was built for that purand attached to the College, ob. being appointed engineer of her. By degrees, as steam-vessels gradually became the rule of the service and sailing-ships the exception, so the number of officers desiring to qualify themselves in steam increased; and now the greater part of the captains and commanders on the active lists have obtained certificates of having passed through the steam, course. After the factory was established in Portsmouth Dockyard, and it shared with Woolwich the work of the steam navy, the many advantages which the College possessed caused officers wishing to study steam to go there in preference, and in time the Woolwich course practically ceased. Having now brought the subject of naval education down to that of the present day, it remains to be considered as to how it answers the requirements of the service. According to the present arrangement, a young lad goes to sea from the training-ship from thirteen to fifteen years of age, having learnt the rudiments only of the education which is requisite to make a useful officer, and having acquired a smattering of seamanship—that is to say, a fair knowledge of rigging, and some acquaintance with boatmanagement—but with a complete ignorance of everything concerning the actual working of a ship at sea. And it is not improbable that he has never in his life been on board a vessel under way. Entered, then, as an officer of the Navy, and embarked on board a sea-going ship, he has first the various stages of sea-sickness to undergo, and then the mysterious process of “getting his sea-legs” to go through, during which time, it may easily be imagained, he is not only utterly useless on board, but not a little in the way. When he has passed through his novitiate, and has begun to feel at home on the deck of a ship at sea, he finds himself in the somewhat anomalous position of an officer and a schoolboy combined. His education has still to be carried on—as best it may under the difficulties we have before described—for he sees a series of examinations looming in the future; and at the same time he finds himself placed in responsible positions to govern and direct grown-up men in matters of which he is, in comparison with them, wholly ignorant. The consequence is, that the actual authority re-ts with the petty officer; the quasisuperior being only too glad to avail himself of his subordinate's better experience, and thus he contents himsell with echoing his directions. On the other hand, if he be a vain and headstrong lad, or is impressed with high notions of his dignity as an officer, he attempts to carry out his own view of matters, and either mischievous consequences ensue from his ignorance, or else his orders are disregarded, and a breach of discipline is the result. For, jutting aside the youngster's utter inexperience in professional matters, his extreme youth renders him quite unfit for command; and it requires an amount of self-control and rigid habit of discipline,
such as is only to be met wit amongst the very best men of ship's company, to insure his bein treated with the respect due to hi position as an officer. It often hap pens that a youngster is afraid t report the men in cases of miscor duct, and thus many offences occul and are passed over unnoticed which are extremely prejudicial t the discipline of the ship. Thi produces its effects in fosterin habits of insubordination amon the ill-disposed of the crew, an the result is that the punishment returns are thereby increased, t the bitter mortification of the cap tain and first-lieutenant. For it i well known that a great part of th offences against discipline, both in the army and navy, arise from th ignorance, want of judgment, o the faults of those in authority This, then, is a strong argumen against the system of schoolboy officers. No doubt the evils wo have pointed out are less serious than they were before the training ship was established, but they stil exist, and can only be eradicated by a further change of system. After the first year or two of ser. vice the midshipman begins to be of some account in the ship. He has now become quite habituated to a sea life, and has gained sufficient knowledge and experience to enable him to be of some use: moreover, he has acquired a certain amount of self-confidence, which, with his advance in age, causes him to feel and act more as an officer. He thus gradually becomes valuable to his profession; but it is very clear that while in the chrysalis state he had better have occupied some other position than that of an officer—as well for his own advantage as for the benefit of the service. In no other nation in the world does this system of schoolboy officers exist. In France the cadets are received on board a harbour training-ship as with us, but the age of entry is later, being from thirteen to sixteen, and the course extends over a period of two years, The staff of officers and professors in the establishment is much larger than ours, and the scheme of instruction is more comprehensive. There is a steam and a sailing corvette attached to the training-ship, in which the cadets take cruises during the summer months; and after leaving the training-ship they must eomplete their education by a probationary cruise of one year in a regular man-of-war, before they receive their commission as an officer. In every other maritime country on both sides of the Atlantic the cadets are educated in a naval college for periods varying from two to three years, and spend the summer months at sea in small vessels attached to the College for that special purpose. They are thus instructed in the various branches of learning which the peculiar nature of their future profession requires, and they gain a thorough practical knowledge of the rudiments of that profession, so that on joining the service they at once take their position as trained officers. It will be seen that the French system is the most nearly akin to ours; nevertheless, the general opinion amongst English naval offieers seems to be in favour of a college, with training-vessels for summer cruising. A plan which has been likewise suggested, and which has, as will be seen, great advantages, is as follows:—The educational course to take place entirely on board seagoing training-ships, and to extend over a period of three years, the age of entry being, as at present, from twelve to fourteen, with the same examination. One trainingship to leave England each year with the whole number of cadets entered for that year, and the vessel to sail for a voyage round the world. The vessels to be built for the purpose; to be roomy frigates, as lightly rigged as possible, with auxiliary steam-power, and only a few guns for exercising purposes. The captains would, of course, be chosen for special qualifications for this responsible position, and the
officers and crew, who should be sufficient only to handle the ship properly, would be likewise carefully selected; some encouragement
such as additional pay, being offered so as to induce good officers to volunteer for this service. A competent and sufficient staff of professors and masters—for which many of the present naval instructors would be qualified—to be embarked on board each vessel : the plan of instruction being of course the same in each ship. During their three years' cruise the training-ships would visit every part of the world, avoiding unhealthy places and extremes of climate, timing their visit to each country as far as possible so as to take advantage of the most favourable season of the year. French, Italian, and Spanish masters might be embarked while the ship was in those statio s where the respective languages prevailed; and when practicable, the cadets might be giv n opportunities for becoming acquained with foreign countries by ex, editions in to the interior. On the return of the training-ship at the en of her three years' voyage, an examination of the cadets would take place, and those found qualified would be rated midshipmen; and, after a certain amount of leave to visit their friends, would be appointed to different ships. But in order to encourage the cadets in their studies, and as a reward for diligence and ablity, it should be open to those who showed special proficiency to wome forward for their examination at any time during the last year in the traini g – ship, provided they were not under fifteen years of age; and if they succeede, in passing the examination, they shou d be at once rated midshipmen, and appointed to ships on th station ; only in this case, since the lad would have been already two years at least away from England, he should not be kept out for a longer additional period than could be avoided. And since a badly-disposed boy, or one of vicious habits, can do an immense mount of harm
to his companions under any cir- lestial phenomena of every r gion. cumstances--but to a much greater He learns practically the art of maextent in a confined space like a rine sui veying, so extremely valuship——the captain of the training- able to a naval officer; and indeed, ships should be instructed to bring in this respect, the training-ships before the Commander-in-Chief any might be turned to good account case where a boy, by gross miscon- by surv yi g harbours which are duct, or by idle worthless habits, imperfectly known, He also achad shown himself unfit for the quires a thorough knowledge of the Navy, in order that he inight be at physical geography of the sea-of once removed and sent ho'ne by that w nderful system of the cirthe first o portunity.
culation of winds and currents, of By this system there would thus atmospheric and climatic changes, be one training-ship returning to which are so closely and beautiful y England every y ar with her com- interwoven one with another, and plement of lads ready to join the which, though of paramount imservice as well-trained and educated portance to the mariner, as well as and most valuable officers. Tiey to science in general, had been but would then be from fifteen to seven- little noticed until Fitzroy and te.n years of age, and might be at Maury, with methodical research once made commissioned officers. and inductive reasoning, had shown At all events, three years' service at once the comprehensiveness of only as midshipmen should be re- the system, and the great value of quired before the final examina- properly understanding it. He will tion for lieutenant, with the mini- have made acquaintance likewise mum age of nineteen as at present. with every quarter of the globe, This further examination, however, with foreign nations and languages, would scarcely be necessary fter which, if c rcumstances shouli such & training as we have de- eventually prevent bis following soribed.
up his profession, will prove of the There can be little doubt that greatest advantage in after-life. this mode of training naval cadets, Indeed, it is difficult to say in what if it could be carried out, is the one situation of life such a training calculated to produce the best offi- would not be valuable. Working cers, and therefore to bestow the aloft, rowing, swimming, fencing, greatest benefit on the service. It the gun and small-arm drills, and combines the advantages of tue gymnas ics, will affrd him healthy Naval College with those derived exercise; he will find opportunities from going to sea at an early age; it at the various places be visits for habituat.s the cadet at once to the riding, shooting, and fishing, as ways of a sea life, and enables bim well as cricket, foot-ball, and other to learn every branch of his profes- sports : and a well-sup: lied library, sion in actual practice, as he will with chess, draughts, &c., drawing experience it afterwards. Not a and painting, will give him plenty day passes at sea without something of employment in his leisure hours occurring which is worthy of note on board. and full of instruction to the young We believe that such a system is sailor ; he has constant working the very best that could be devised; experience in seamanship under - but at the same time e must conevery varying condition; he learns fess there is a serious difficulty in at once the theory and the prac ice the way of carrying it out. For of navigation, taking observations unless it were held to be a principle both at sea and on shore, the rating of international law, that trainingof chronometers, and keeping a ships are exempt from the usages of ship's reckoning. He has opportuni. war, the declaration of hosti ities ties for gaining a knowledge of and with any powerful maritime nation a taste for astronomy, for familiar. would at once seul them up in ising himself with the various ce- port, and thus throw the whole