Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

have been even greater had the establishment been placed upon a different footing, as we shall see presently. Although it is advisable that the Cadet College should not be situated too near the seaport town, yet in every respect it is to be desired that the senior College should be in the dockyard, and the old building is quite well suited to the purpose. It is not too much to saw that the advantages gained by officers studying there are multiplied tenfold by the circumstance of their residing in the principal dockyard of the kingdom. Not a day passes without there being something novel and instructive to be seen in this immense establishment; every class and description of vessel may there be compared together; the latest improvements in steam machinery, the newest inventions in artillery, the art of shipbuilding, and every method of rigging—all may be seen and studied there during the daily stroll round the yard, which is the constant practice of the student officers. We therefore trust, that wherever it may be determined to fix the situation of the junior College, the senior establishment may remain where it is. We have seen how that the course of study at the College for the lieutenant's commission has of late ears fallen to the ground. This s much to be regretted, for, as we before showed, the system was an excellent one for the service. It is, however, a question whether it is altogether desirable that an officer at the sub-lieutenant's age should remain for such a long period on shore, for it is just at that time of life that the most valuable experience at sea is gained. We would rather suggest a different plan, which we think would benefit the profession still more. It is a very general opinion in the service that officers should remain for three years on the sub-lieutenants' list, and then be promoted as a matter of course, when they would have been, according to the scheme we have proposed, at least six years at sea,

and not less than twenty-two years of age. Now it is in the rank of lieutenant that officers at the present day remain longest, the commander's commission being most difficult of attainment. We would propose, therefore, that after three years' sea-service in the rank of lieutenant, officers should be permitted to join the College for a course of study similar to that which the mates formerly went through; and that a commander's commission should be given halfyearly to the individual passing the highest examination. By this plan all the benefits of the former system would be restored, and, as we think, with increased advantage both to the service and to the officers. The College should likewise be open, as at present, to half-pay officers who may wish to go there to study scientific subjects; and every encouragement ought to be given to induce men of ability so to employ their intervals of forced idleness. According to the present system, there is no regular course of study prescribed, but each officer is, as we have mentioned, allowed to follow the bent of his own inclination, and to take up whatever subject he has a taste, for. So far this is a wise arrangement, for the naval profession embraces such a diversity of matters—standing as it does in close relationship with nearly every department of science—that it would be impossible for any person, except he were endowed with an extraordinary intellect, to gain more than a slight acquaintance with the higher branches of all the subjects bearing upon his calling. He might, indeed, be “Jack-of-alltrades,” but he certainly would be “master of none.” It is therefore more desirable that an officer should confine himself to one or two subjects, and follow them up as far as he is able; and since the various ramifications of science are interwoven with, and to a great extent depend upon, each other, he could not fail, in gaining a thorough know

ledge of one, to acquire a certain ins:ht into others. To this end there should be every facility afforded to enable the offiters to carry out their studies properly ; but, unfortunately, this is not the case at present; and no one is more painfully aware of this than are the excellent Professor and his colleagues, who have striven continually, but without effect, to induce the Admiralty to supply the necessary means for that purpose, such as instruments, apparatus, and other appliances. The only subject which has been brought under a regular system is Steam, for which there is an established course to go through, and an examination at the close of it with classed certificates of proficiency. And, fully alive to the unsatisfactoriness of the state of matters, the Professor, in framing the steam course, did all in his power to remedy it, by including— as well as practical instruction— such theoretical requirements as rendered a certain amount of mathematical knowledge necessary; while the highest class of certificate requires, in addition, a considerable knowledge of mechanics and hydrostatics. But it is not compulsory to go through even the steam course— although practically every one does so-and that finished, which is generally in six months at most, there is no longer any regular system to follow, nor any further certificate of study to be obtained. Therefore those officers who may have studied for three or four years at the College, and acquired a high amount of scientific knowledge, have nothing to distinguish them from such as may have merely passed through the steam course with a third-class certificate. They have neither experienced any encouragement to persevere in their studies, nor have they any other reward to look to for the labour they have bestowed pon them, except that which is con; amed in every well-regulated mind - consciousness of having emplayed one's time in a profitable man

ner.

There is an observatory belonging to the College, which, if it were kept for the use of the students, would be of the greatest value to those who might be disposed to study astronomy; but this observatory is used as a depôt for the Government chronometers and meteorological instruments; and since the rating of these chronometers— upon whose accuracy the safe navigation of our ships depends—is performed solely by means of the transit instrument in this observatory, it would never do to let it be used as a hack instrument for the purpose of instruction. At present,

it is quite impossible for any naval

officer to become an astronomer, unless he has access to some private observatory, or unless he obtained permission to study at Greenwich, which might probably not be considered convenient or advisable to grant. But if the College observatory were set apart exclusively, and properly fitted up, for the use of officers studying astronomy, this very important science would be at once placed within the reach of all. Every astronomer would testify to the great benefit which would accrue to science, were a certain number of intelligent naval officers, scattered over different parts of the world, in a position to take reliable observations of the various celestial phenomena, and to furnish intelligible and trustworthy records of them. Another subject which is of the greatest value to a naval officer, and for acquiring a knowledge of which there are at present no facilities, is marine surveying. There is not one officer in fifty, we will venture ,to say, who has any practical acquaintance with this duty—except those who have served in surveying-ships—although there is not a station in the world where such a knowledge would not be useful; for we are constantly opening up fresh regions to commerce, and our surveying expeditions cannot keep pace with the demands upon their services. It will be in

the minds of most naval readers of these pages, how many localities they have visited which have never been more than roughly surveyed, how many inaccuracies are found in charts, and how often it would have been in their power to furnish correct plans of different harbours they have visited, or to fill in an imperfectly known coast-line, had they only known how to set about it. The very limited knowledge of our naval officers of the two subjects we have just mentioned, is a standing reproach to the service; yet the blame does not rest with them, as we have endeavoured to show. The system of study, therefore, for the senior officers, requires a careful revision. There should be different courses of study established, besides that of steam, for other branches of science—viz., the higher mathematics, mechanics, and hydrostatics, nautical astronomy, marine surveying, naval architecture, practical astronomy, field fortification, and optics. An elementary knowledge of mathematics would of course be necessary before any of these could be entered upon; but according to even the present system of educating cadets, they acquire this ; and were such a plan adopted as those we have sketched out, officers, when they came to study at the senior College, would have previously been thoroughly well grounded in many of these subjects also during their three years' instruction as cadets. The officers joining the senior College, according to this arrangement, should be at liberty to select any of the above subjects, for each of which, there should be an examination to go through at the termination of the course, and certificates of proficiency given, a certain time being allowed for each subject. Some distinguishing mark might be put against an officer's

name in the Navy List who had obtained first-class certificates in any of these branches of science: and if the Admiralty wished to put their hand upon an officer for any special service, they would at once be able to select one who, by the nature of his studies, had qualified himself for that particular duty. We have thus endeavoured to show what are the requirements of the naval service with respect to the education and training of its officers, and how these requirements may be provided for. We have entered fully into the subject, for two reasons; first, because it is one of the very greatest national importance, and also because—since it has been resolved to abolish the present system, and to establish a College for the naval cadets— this is the especial time to take these matters into careful consideration. . We earnestly hope that the Admiralty will look upon this question in a broad and liberal light, and permit no paltry motives of economy, or no narrow-minded prejudices, to stand in the way of the development of some scheme which may be worthy of this great country, and the first §. of the world. And we trust that naval officers themselves, fully sensible of the neglect under which their education has suffered, will one and all, whenever opportunity shall offer, raise their voices in favour of some such system for the future as shall in every respect atone for the shortcomings of the past. To them we would recall the words of the late Sir James Graham:* “I cannot express in adequate terms my admiration of the naval character; I think it decidedly the very flower of British society. I think that a naval officer, trained from his youth in his profession, and master of his profession, is one of the noblest and finest characters that the history of this country can produce."

* Evidence before Select Committee of the House of Commons on Admiralty

Administration, 1861.

LETTERS FROM THE PRINCIPALITIES.

NO 11.-SOCIETY AND POLITICS IN MOLDAVIA.

THE British public bave very lit Hitherto I had only visited the tle notion of the complicated qnes- monasteries and convents belonging tions which are preparing for them to the Cenobitic class-Nyamptz, in the East, and more especially in Seku, Agapia, and Veratica. "Everythose Principalities of the Danube, where I found the same sentiment which may be considered the centre prevailing. There was a great deal of the Gordian kaot. Carefully of dissatisfaction expressed as to eschewing the study of any qnes- the mode in which the measure tion which is in the least difficult bad been carried out, but the printo master, they never hesitate to ciple of the thing was not objected pronounce a very decided opinion to, and beneficial results were anupon its merits when the moment ticipated by those who were most for doing so arrives. Popular con- directly affected. It remained yet victions are done the less strongly to see a good specimen of a Dediheld because based upon absolute cated monastery, and we decided ignorance, and we have a notable to proceed from Veratica to Piatra, instance, in the Schleswig-Holstein a town situated in the valley of question, of the whole British na- Bistritza, and from thence to visit tin regaling itself upon humble a monastery of the same name in pie, to the great amusement of the neighbourhood. Our parting Europe generally. If we would scene, when we bade adieu to the only take the trouble beforehand to nuns of Veratica, was not so touchInok into the most important points ing as when we reluctantly tore of foreign policy which are likely ourselves away from the Mikas of to arise, we should be saved this Agapia; bot still we turned our bumiliation. Instead of this, any backs with real regret on our hoswell-informed member of Parlia- pitable entertainers, and, furnished, ment would think he was insulted as before, with convent 'horses and if he was asked whether he under- gypsy postilions, sped down the stood the question of the secularisa- valley towards our destination. tion of the Dedicated monasteries by After a five hours' drive through Prince Conza. Some of the worst scenery wbich, without being grand, jokes that ever were made, because was full of charm and variety, we they were in such bad taste, were descended at dusk upon the picturthose made upon the impossibility esquely situated town of Piatra. of understanding the Schleswig Far away from any great route, Holstein question by persons wbose few travellers have ever visited this business it was to understand it. remote spot-but it would be the Very much more of the same de- starting point for a most interestseription of facetiousness on the ing mountain-trip. The turbulent part of our public men will impair Bistritza, after a headlong course the national dignity to such an ex- through the lovely scenery of the tent that, in the end, we shall be Carpathians, here issues from a forced into a war for no other pur- gorge in the mountains, and hencepose than the recovery of prestige. forth glides tranquilly across fertile If the Convent question is too dull plaios till it falls into the Sereth, to be studied in this country, let Just before our arrival, half the people go, as I did, and learn it town of Piatra had been swept from the Dons themselves; but in away by the overwhelming force some way or other do let them of its torrent, and we walked over know something about it before acres of debris and desolation. Conthey give their votes.

taining about fifteen thousand in

habitants, Piatra owes alike its prosperity and its misfortunes to the capricious river on the banks of which it is situated. It is the centre of the wood trade, and the Bistritza is, up to this point, the mode of conveyance from the densely-wooded valleys of the Carpathians. Not merely does it afford water-carriage for wood, but the rafts in their turn are made use of by travellers as the most convenient way of descending the river. These rafts are of necessity comparatively small, but they are furnished with comfortable little log shanties; and I regretted, as I saw them come spinning down the rapids and being moored to the wreck of shattered cottages, that I had not found time to explore the headwaters of the river, and descend it in this exciting fashion. We were most hospitably entertained at Piatra by the prefect, whose house of only one story, with verandahs all round, was not unlike an Indian bungalow; it was nevertheless one of the most sumptuous mansions in the place. As a rule, the town was little better than a collection of huts, and, to judge from their outward appearance, the people did not seem to thrive very much on the wood trade. The disaster which had so recently overtaken them, and which had reduced thousands to ruin, was, however, without doubt, one chief cause of the squalid and poverty-stricken aspect of the place. We met at dinner the few intelligent and educated men who lived here, and spent the evening, as is usual on such occasions, in political discussions. The policy of Prince Couza always afforded a fruitful topic. Unfortunately, there was never a sufficient divergence of opinion about him individually to make an argument possible. During the whole term of my residence in Moldavia and Wallachia, I did not find a soul who defended him. Indeed, the only man who did not virulently abuse him was the then Prime Minister. As, a week or two after I saw this functionary for the last time, he

was summarily ejected from office, I have little doubt that he is not now exceeded by his fellows in bitterness. We paid a very early visit to the Monastery of Bistritza, situated in the gorge of the valley, and distant only about an hour from Piatra. The scenery at this point becomes really fine, and we regretted that we were prevented from pushing onr explorations into the tempting region beyond. Here, instead of a collection of separate cottages inhabited by hundreds of monks, there was only a large house and a church. The house contained the Igoumen, a fine-looking man, who received us hospitably, and informed us that he, together with two or three exiled priests, composed the whole establishment. We went into the church—an old building, decorated with some quaint frescoes, and in which service was being drawled over by one of the exiles to three or four old men and women. One of the latter startled me by suddenly prostrating herself before the officiating priest as he was carrying the host, and thus obliging him to step over her body. The monk who had accompanied us from the Monastery of Nyamptz informed me that the peasants profoundly believed in the efficacy of this process for healing purposes whenever they were afflicted with any malady; and he went on to say that his experience confirmed this popular superstition, and that he had himself cured people by stepping over them with the host in his hands. Bistritza was as good a specimen of a Dedicated monastery as we could have selected. The abuses of a system which could foster such an establishment were apparent at a glance; and I am bound to say that the Igoumen himself, with whom we discussed the matter, scarcely attempted to defend it. In order, however, to make clear the distinctions between the various ecclesiastical endowments in these Principalities, it will be necessary to define shortly the conditions under which they exist. It may be said, at a rough computation, that as

« AnteriorContinuar »