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but previously to this another in- went far to make up for the neglect stitution had been established, of his earlier education. Too much which has proved of inestimable praise cannot be awarded to Sir benefit to the Navy, and has fully. Thomas Hastings and those who borne out the wise prevision of its framed the course of instruction originators. It was determined in on board the Excellent. They felt 1832 to provide for a want which the reproach upon their profession had been very much felt through- arising from the want of a proper out the service during the great educational system, and the serious war-viz., a uniform and compre- inconveniences resulting therefrom; hensive system of gunnery. For and if they could not reform the this purpose the Excellent was system at the root, where it was commissioned by Captain (after- most required, they could now do wards Sir Thomas) Hastings, as a somewhat to indemnify the service, training-ship for officers and sea- and to make amends for the defimen in a regular course of gunnery ciencies of the Admiralty. instruction. The peculiar confor- The stimulus thus administered mation of Portsmouth 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 commisat the north end of the dockyard, sioned officers in scientific subjects; completely out of the way of the and as this establishment has been traffic in the harbour, with a prac- carried on to the present day upon tice-range of three miles dry at the same footing, it requires special 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 purposes; and, under volunteers, the cabins formerly octhe 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 imdifferent ships of the fleet to in- 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 atour naval service, it is a great satis- tainments — having been senior faction to be able to turn to an wrangler of his year—but who beestablishment which is deserving longed to a very talented family, only of praise.
his brother, the Rev. Robert Main, When the Excellent was insti- for many years first assistant at tuted, it was determined to instruct Greenwich Observatory, being now the officers in the theory as well as Radcliffe Observer at Oxford. To 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 matics in the scheme of instruc- 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
ably filled this office. A captain more liberal tendency, had it been of the Royal Marine Artillery was left to the option of the officers likewise attached to the College as themselves as to whether they chose instructor in fortification and me- to go through the Excellent or not; chanical drawing for the young and an examination on joining the Marine officers who came there to College would have prevented any go through a course of study to from entering who were not posqualify for the Marine Artillery. A sessed of sufficient attainments, and lecturer on chemistry completed the who, therefore, might be supposed staff of instructors.
to join only for the sake of conveniAccommodation was provided for This is perhaps hypercrititwenty-five half-pay officers-cap- cism, however; for certainly, nottains, commanders, and lieutenants withstanding the above obligation, —who were, of course, admitted free no measure was ever adopted calof all expense for instruction, and culated to do more good to the had also sundry allowances for personnel of the service than this messing, so that a small monthly competition for the lieutenant's subscription in addition was all commission. In the earlier years that was required. A certain num- of this arrangement, when the lieuber of mates on full pay were like- tenant's step was most difficult of wise admitted, for whom a special attainment, and officers were frecourse of study was instituted, quently ten, twelve, and fourteen and a lieutenant's commission was years a mate, the prize was of very awarded to him who, at the six- great value, and the numbers commonthly examinations, showed the peting were generally full. But highest degree of proficiency. But when, in later years, matters bea curious regulation was made: came altered, and officers obtained that every mate wishing to join the their lieutenancy, in the regular College for study should first go course of things, after only a year through the course on board the or two in the mate's rank, there Excellent; therefore every one de- was no longer any inducement for siring to compete for the lieuten- them to go through the severe ant's commission was compelled, course of study at the College ; whether he wished it or no, to be- it was only those for whom sciencome a gunnery officer. No doubt tific pursuits had a special charm the course of study required in the who then cared to join the estabExcellent was a valuable ground- lishment; and for the last few work for the more abstruse and years there have been no mates—or laborious subjects that lay before sub-lieutenants, as they are now them at the College, and in most called-going through this course of cases the mates were only too glad study. Although it is greatly for to take advantage of such a prepar- the benefit of the service that the atory school ; but there were occa- promotion to the rank of lieutensional instances when an officer of ant is made more rapid than it true mathematical genius had at- was formerly, yet it is to be regrettained a degree of proficiency which ted that some other arrangements would have enabled him to enter were not made, and inducements the lists at once had he been per- offered, by which, either as submitted ; and in such cases—rare, lieutenant or lieutenant, officers certainly, but the more important should still find encouragement to on that very account-it was un- go through this course ; for the necessary and impolitic to compel system of study for the half-pay him to go through the drudgery of officers is of quite a different nathe various drills, because he wished ture, as we shall presently see. to follow up his scientific inclina- The papers set at the mates' extions. It would have been better, aminations were very difficult, conbecause it would have manifested a sidering the time allowed to go
through the course. They required tories, the owners of which, in the a considerable knowledge of the most public-spirited manner, gave higher branches of pure and mixed them every assistance in carrying mathematics; and the problems in out their object; one of these esthe Calculus, in astronomy, and in tablishments, to which many officers mechanics, &c., were such as might repaired, being that of the Messrs be met with in the Cambridge ex- Napier of Glasgow. Some officers, amination papers. In fact, the suc- anxious to gain a thorough knowcessful competitor for the lieuten- ledge of the subject, did not disdain ant's commission and his closest to wear the mechanic's apron and rivals had to go through a twelve- work at the lathe, or to take their month's hard work, such as is known turn in the stoke-hole and engineonly to Cambridge wranglers; and room on board some steamer. In instances occasionally occurred of those days the command of a steamthe health of a candidate breaking vessel was only given to those who down under the strain. It may had gone through a course of inwell be supposed that the gainer of struction in steam-machinery; and the commission held a proud posi- many officers who had failed to tion among his compeers; and it obtain employment in the ordinary may with equal justice be presumed course of matters, succeeded in that the greater part of these suc- doing so by this means. When the cessful officers, and of those also who College was established upon its strove—and in many cases ran a present footing, the instruction of close race—with them for the prize, officers in steam was naturally inare now among the most distinguish- cluded in the arrangements; and ed ornaments of their profession. a small steamer, the Bee, of ten
For the half-pay officers there horse-power, was built for that purwas no particular course of study pose, and attached to the College, specified, but each individual was Mr Brown being appointed engineer at liberty to follow up any subject of her. By degrees, as steam-vesfor which he had an inclination. sels gradually became the rule of The time allowed at the College was the service and sailing - ships the a clear year's study-exclusive of exception, so the number of officers vacations — and officers were per- desiring to qualify themselves in mitted to join once in each rank. steam increased ; and now the There are many officers in the ser- greater part of the captains and vice who have taken advantage of commanders on the active lists this permission; and there are have obtained certificates of having some who have studied at the Col- passed through the steam course. lege as mate, lieutenant, command- After the factory was established in er, and captain successively. Portsmouth Dockyard, and it shared
When steam-vessels came into' with Woolwich the work of the general use in the Navy, it was steam navy, the many advantages considered very desirable that the which the College possessed caused officers who might be appointed officers wishing to study steam to to command them should qualify go there in preference, and in time themselves for this special service the Woolwich course practically -as it then was—by acquiring a ceased. practical knowledge of the working Having now brought the subject of the steam-engine. Accordingly, of naval education down to that of they were encouraged to go to the present day, it remains to be Woolwich Dockyard, which was at considered as to how it answers that time our only naval steam-fac- the requirements of the service. tory, where an instructor was ap- According to the present arrangepointed and facilities were afforded ment, a young lad goes to sea from for that purpose.
Others studied the training-ship from thirteen to the subject at various private fac- fifteen years of age, having learnt
the rudiments only of the education such as is only to be met with which is requisite to make a useful amongst the very best men of a officer, and having acquired a smat- ship's company, to insure his being tering of seamanship— that is to treated with the respect due to his say, a fair knowledge of rigging, position as an officer. It often hapand some acquaintance with boat- pens that a youngster is afraid to management-but with a complete report the men in cases of misconignorance of everything concerning duct, and thus many offences occur, the actual working of a ship at sea. and are passed over unnoticed, And it is not improbable that he which are extremely prejudicial to has never in his life been on board the discipline of the ship. This a vessel under way. Entered, produces its effects in fostering then, as an officer of the Navy, and habits of insubordination among embarked on board a sea-going the ill-disposed of the crew, and ship, he has first the various stages the result is that the punishmentof sea-sickness to undergo, and then returns are thereby increased, to the mysterious process of “ getting the bitter mortification of the caphis sea-legs” to go through, during tain and first-lieutenant. For it is which time, it may easily be ima- well known that a great part of the gined, he is not only utterly useless offences against discipline, both in on board, but not a little in the way. the army and navy, arise from the When he has passed through his ignorance, want of judgment, or novitiate, and has begun to feel at the faults of those in authority. home on the deck of a ship at sea, This, then, is a strong argument he finds himself in the somewhat against the system of schoolboy anomalous position of an officer and officers. No doubt the evils we a schoolboy combined. His educa- have pointed out are less serious tion has still to be carried on—as than they were before the trainingbest it may under the difficulties ship was established, but they still we have before described—for he exist, and can only be eradicated by sees a series of examinations loom- a further change of system. ing in the future; and at the same After the first year or two of sertime he finds himself placed in re- vice the midshipman begins to be sponsible positions to govern and of some account in the ship. He direct grown-up men in matters of has now become quite habituated which he is, in comparison with to a sea life, and has gained suffithem, wholly ignorant. The conse- cient knowledge and experience to quence is, that the actual authority enable him to be of some use ; rests with the petty officer; the quasi- moreover, he has acquired a certain superior being only too glad to avail amount of self-confidence, which, himself of his subordinate's better with his advance in age, causes experience, and thus he contents him to feel and act more as an offhimself with echoing his directions. He thus gradually becomes On the other hand, if he be a vain valuable to his profession; but it is and headstrong lad, or is impressed very clear that while in this chrysawith high notions of his dignity as lis state he had better have occuan officer, he attempts to carry out pied some other position than that his own view of matters, and either of an officer—as well for his own mischievous consequences
advantage as for the benefit of the from his ignorance, or else his or- service. ders are disregarded, and a breach In no other nation in the world of discipline is the result. For, does this system of schoolboy offiputting aside the youngster's utter
In France the cadets inexperience in professional mat- are received on board a harbour ters, his extreme youth renders training-ship as with us, but the him quite unfit for command; and age of entry is later, being from it requires an amount of self-con- thirteen to sixteen, and the course trol and rigid habit of discipline, extends over a period of two years.
The staff of officers and professors officers and crew, who should be in the establishment is much larger sufficient only to handle the ship than ours, and the scheme of in- properly, would be likewise carestruction is more comprehensive. fully selected; some encouragement, There is a steam and a sailing cor- such as additional pay, being offered vette attached to the training-ship, so as to induce good officers to volin which the cadets take cruises unteer for this service. A compeduring the summer months; and tent and sufficient staff of professors after leaving the training-ship they and masters—for which many of the must complete their education by a present naval instructors would be probationary cruise of one year in qualified—to be embarked on board a regular man-of-war, before they each vessel ; the plan of instrucreceive their commission as an tion being of course the same in each officer. In every other maritime ship. During their three years' country on both sides of the Atlan- cruise the training - ships would tic the cadets are educated in a visit every part of the world, avoidnaval college for periods varying ing unhealthy places and extremes from two to three years, and spend of climate, timing their visit to the summer months at sea in small each country as far as possible so vessels attached to the College for as to take advantage of the most that special purpose. They are thus favourable season of instructed in the various branches French, Italian, and Spanish masof learning which the peculiar na- ters might be embarked while the ture of their future profession re- ship was in those stations where quires, and they gain a thorough the respective languages prevailed ; practical knowledge of the rudi- and when practicable, the cadets ments of that profession, so that might be given opportunities for on joining the service they at once becoming acquainted with foreign take their position as trained offi- countries by expeditions into the cers. It will be seen that the French interior. On the return of the system is the most nearly akin training-ship at the end of her three to ours ; nevertheless, the general years' voyage, an examination of opinion amongst English naval offi- the cadets would take place, and cers seems to be in favour of a col- those found qualified would be rated lege, with training-vessels for sum- midshipmen; and, after a certain mer cruising
amount of leave to visit their A plan which has been likewise friends, would be appointed to difsuggested, and which has, as will ferent ships. But in order to enbe seen,
great advantages, is as fol- courage the cadets in their studies, lows:- The educational course to and as a reward for diligence and take place entirely on board sea- ability, it should be open to those going training-ships, and to extend who showed special proficiency to over a period of three years, the come forward for their examination age of entry being, as at present, at any time during the last year in from twelve to fourteen, with the the training - ship, provided they same examination. One training- were not under fifteen years age ; ship to leave England each year and if they succeeded in passing with the whole number of cadets the examination, they should be at entered for that year, and the ves- once rated midshipmen, and apsel to sail for a voyage round the pointed to ships on the station ; world. The vessels to be built for only in this case, since the lad the purpose ; to be roomy frigates, would have been already two years as lightly rigged as possible, with at least away from England, he auxiliary steam-power, and only a should not be kept out for a longer few guns for exercising purposes. additional period than could be The captains would, of course, be avoided. And since a badly-dischosen for special qualifications for posed boy, or one of vicious habits, this responsible position, and the can do an immense amount of harm