§ Sir C. Napier
rose, pursuant to notice, to move for a Select Committee, to inquire into the manner in which the money voted since the year 1835 for the construction of ships has been expended; and if the ships constructed are an improvement of the old system. He begged to assure the House that his only motive in bringing forward this Motion was to ascertain whether the reports spread as to the ships lately built were true or false. If true, the sooner the present system was put an end to the better. If false, the reputation of the officers engaged in constructing them required that it should be publicly known that no blame attached to them. He knew it might be said (and, in fact, it was said) that this was no business of his; that the question should be left for settlement to the proper powers. He supposed by that expression was meant the Admiralty. The building of ships had been left to them for a considerable time, and it would be seen that they had committed the greatest errors and blunders—greater, he believed, than had taken place in any other department. He had neither a political nor a party view in the Motion which he submitted, his sole object was the well-being of the Navy, and the expenditure of the finances of the country in the most judicious manner. In the observations which he should make, he should endeavour to state the facts with the justness, fairness, and impartiality becoming a British seaman and officer, and such alone as an independent Member, anxious for the proper disbursement of the 384 public money, should adduce. It would be necessary to go back for a considerable time. When he (Sir C. Napier) first entered the service, in 1800, the Navy contained several three-deckers of 120, 110, 100, 98, and 90 guns. The first of those were generally good for sailing and war; the other classes were so entirely unfit for service, and they sailed so low in the water in bad weather, that it was impossible to bring them into action. Many representations were made to the Admiralty by the officers commanding those vessels; but the same system was persevered in till the end of the war, and then totally given up. He should mention that some of those ships, the Blenheim, and the Ocean, and the Camperdown, which was paid off the other day, had been cut down; in addition to which, the Prince Regent was in the act of cutting down, and he trusted the Impregnable would be treated in the same manner. Could he give a greater proof of the inefficiency of the constructors than that such three-decked ships should, at an enormous expense, be cut down to 80-guns? The first and second class, 80, 74, and 64-gun ships were well constructed and did their duty well. The 44 and 50-gun ships, though useless, were persevered in until the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) came to the Admiralty, and were then taken to pieces. When new seventy-fours were to be built, instead of availing themselves of the models they had, the Admiralty ordered Sir H. Peake and Sir W. Rue to submit two plans of a seventy-four. One was pronounced too large, and the other too small. They were desired to construct a kind of ship between the two, and the result was a class of vessels, nicknamed the "Forty Thieves." Now we had some excellent ships which we had taken from the French at Malta: the Tonnant, the Canopus, and the Sanspareil. But such was the obstinacy of the builders, and of the Navy Board, that these were never copied until the present time, when the ship last built was constructed on the Sanspareil model. He now came to the frigates of those days. There were forty-six-gun frigates, forty-two-gun frigates, and thirty-two-gun frigates, all carrying 18 pounders. He had no objection to the first of this class; but of the thirty-two-gun ships, two of which he commanded, he could say that more useless vessels were never constructed. These were persevered in until the right hon. Baronet opposite came to the Admiralty, and after attempt- 385 ting to improve on three of them he gave them up. There were then 16-gun ships mounting 6-pounders. These were persevered in until the end of the war, though he could safely say there was not a boy in the service who did not know them to be useless. The 18-gun brigs were then adopted; but Lord Melville, not satisfied with them, turned them into bad corvettes; but these in their turn were given up also. Another attempt was made to construct corvettes of 20-guns, being made longer and narrower than the 18-gun brigs; but these were called patent coffins for sinking 120 men, and pronounced failures. Then came 10-gun brigs—the Blazer, the Bruiser, the Barker, &c.; other brigs were substituted for these. These were continued for a time, but condemned last year by the Shipwreck Committee. The Admiralty had indeed thrown away their own exertions and the money of the country in building bad ships, and when the American war broke out—and they might have looked forward to that event for many years—the Admiralty were utterly unable to contend with their adversaries. They had not indeed a single vessel of the same class fit to meet their corvettes, nor a single frigate capable of contending with their frigates. He (Sir C. Napier) well remembered the reports of that day, when a naval officer would have been scouted if he had ventured to utter even a hint of the inability of British ships to contend successfully with American vessels of the same rating as their own; and notwithstanding all the warning they had received, the Government of the day had never opened their eyes until they learned that three British frigates had been captured and carried into American ports. What did they do then? The Admiralty immediately ordered three line-of-battle ships to be cut down; and at the end of the year, though it was proved beyond a doubt that 46-gun frigates were unfit to contend with the American 46's, between sixty and seventy were built, which were now useless in our Navy. It was then considered that ships had not been built strong enough. The next thing the Surveyor did was to cut and carve half the Navy into round sterns, thus showing the enemy how to defend themselves, instead of fortifying their bows to attack their opponents; and although Mr. Roberts, Mr. Laing, and other shipwrights, proposed a plain round stern, totally unencumbered with galleries, they were not adopted till after a consideration of twenty 386 years, and this was now settled as the regular form of the ship's stern in the Navy. Another error was committed by the master shipwright of those days, though he was certainly an excellent builder—that of trussingthe ships with diagonal shores, and with very heavy timber along their waterways. An enormous quantity of timber, therefore, was put into ships that were never intended to carry it, such as the 32 and 36-gun frigates. This spoiled them entirely as frigates; there was not one ship, which had formerly been used to stand up stiffly and properly to their canvass, that did not become cranky. He (Sir C. Napier) commanded one of them, the Euryalus, which was formerly the pride of the ocean; but after she had gone through this process, she turned out so bad that she could not stand on her legs, and was nearly upset when going to Smyrna. Then there was the Caledonia, originally one of the fastest sail of the line ever known; Sir Robert Seppings took her into dock to have her widened; Lord Exmouth begged that she might not be touched; but she was taken into dock, stripped of her timbers, and altered, and had never been a good ship since. It was to the Yacht Club we owed our improvement in ship-building; they employed private individuals to build their ships, seeing that the Navy Board stuck to their old way, and would not move; but at last public opinion gained such strength that they were forced to attend to it, and Sir W. Symonds, Captain Hayes, and Professor Inman, were allowed to construct ships. In the time of the Lord High Admiral, an experimental squadron was sent to sea, composed of the Sapphire, Challenger, Tyne, three small frigates, with the Columbine, Satellite, Wolf, and another, sloops and brigs. It was found that of the frigates the Sapphire, thirty-six, was certainly the best; the Challenger and Tyne were so cranky, that if they had been sailing in company within pistol-shot, and had commenced an action, the guns of the weather ship would have gone under the bottom of the lee one, and the guns of the lee ship would have gone over the truck of the weather one. Of the smaller ships, the Columbine, built by Sir William Symonds, turned out the best. He then took upon himself to write a letter to the Lord High Admiral, detailing his opinions as to the manner in which the building department of the Navy was managed, from which, if the House would permit him, he would read an extract:—
§ "October 1, 1827.
§ "Sir,—The naval service of this country would be much better conducted, and at less expense, were the Admiralty and Navy Boards amalgamated, and the whole put under the comptrol of the Lord High Admiral.
§ "Without meaning any disrespect to the latter branch, I think the manner it is formed is a certain means of insuring its inefficiency, and of preventing its profiting by the march of intellect; and, indeed, it is pretty generally allowed by the naval service that they are the last to adopt any improvement, and most obstinately shut their eyes to whatever is proposed to them, believing that the whole naval talent of the country is centered in their own body.
§ "The wise encouragement that the Admiralty have lately given to people unconnected with the Navy Board to construct ships on certain conditions, has clearly proved that they are not possessed of absolute wisdom in shipbuilding; and I shall endeavour to show your Royal Highness that it is morally impossible, from the manner they are composed, that they should be possessed of the shining qualifications so necessary to the well-being of the naval service.
§ "Hitherto, for the naval officer to obtain a seat at the Navy Board, it was necessary he should have sufficient interest to be appointed to a foreign dock-yard; and, after moving from one to another for a considerable number of years, he succeeded to the first vacant seat in Somerset House, provided one of the Commissioners of the home dock-yards preferred moving, well versed, no doubt, in the business of a yard, and, if not too old, and too long out of active service, probably acquainted with the improvements and wants of the Navy: on taking his seat, he finds himself placed amongst a set of old gentlemen (and perhaps a young statesman or two), who have been out of the sphere of naval improvements for the last twenty years, and who oppose as innovations any ameliorations he may wish to introduce, and he is at last obliged to give up the point, and gradually adopt all the ideas of Navy Board supremacy.
§ "The office of Comptroller is, I believe, generally bestowed upon some man of interest, without taking much trouble about his qualifications. The Surveyors, on whom chiefly depend the goodness or badness of our ships, either are, or ought to be, chosen for their talents; but if I am to judge from what they have produced — such as the fir 32's, and 22-gun corvettes, neither of which would either stand up under canvass or sail, the 28-gun ships which could neither fight nor run away, the forty thieves, together with the bad sailing of the Navy in general—I should be inclined to estimate their abilities very low. The fault of constructing such classes lay with the Board of Admiralty, but their models with the Navy Board; and if they could not hit upon a form of their own that would sail well, 388 they ought to have been less bigoted, and copied from their neighbours.
§ "All these gentlemen remain in their situations for life, or until they find themselves useless, which is never till many years after they are judged so by the rest of the world.
§ "The Victualling Board is pretty well composed, for the duties they have to perform, but with the same fault of being fixtures, as the Navy Board, and generally with a sucking statesman or two amongst them. Commissioners of dock-yards are really so very comfortable, that no man in his senses will retire as long as he can hold together: and I believe they are not removable, except for some glaring misconduct. I confess I have no faith in any department being well conducted, or greatly improved: where the mainspring is allowed to wear itself out, it loses its elasticity in time, and becomes unfit to perform its functions."
§ When the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) came into office, he (Sir C. Napier) followed up the letter by a pamphlet, addressed to Sir John Pechell; and though he had not the vanity to suppose that either the letter or the pamphlet had caused the abolition of the Navy Board, still the right hon. Baronet acquiesced in his statement, and broke it up. He thought the right hon. Baronet had done a great service to the country by abolishing that useless Board; but he feared very much that the substitute provided had not answered the end desired. The first and great fault of the new plan was the enormous quantity of work thrown on the Admiralty, particularly the first Naval Lord; and he said it was morally and physically impossible for him to go through the duties of his office in a proper manner, looking to the vast number of subjects, all of the greatest importance, which were brought before him every day of his life. It was not in the power of man to do so, and unless some change in the system were made, we should soon feel the mischievous effects of it. The first step taken by the right hon. Baronet, after he had seen that Sir W. Symonds had constructed a very fine corvette, and also a yacht, which was bought into the service, superior to any of their competitors, was to give him an opportunity of building a larger ship; but he took an immense responsibility on himself in allowing that Officer to jump from an 18-gun corvette up to a 50-gun frigate, the Vernon, of 2,082 tons. The Vernon answered perfectly well; she had had her detractors, but he (Sir C. Napier) really believed she was a fine ship. When he had produced the Vernon, the right hon. Baronet thought Sir W. Symonds was the fittest man to be Sur- 389 veyor of the Navy. Now, though he had a great opinion of Sir W. Symonds as a seaman and an officer, and a man who knew perfectly well how to produce the model of a ship up to a certain point, he did not think that he had a knowledge of shipbuilding sufficient for such an office. Never having been brought up in a dockyard, it was impossible he could be master of the sixes and weights of iron, timber, and the materials used in the construction of a man-of- war. Sir William Symonds having launched the Vernon, she was tried as a cruiser; and he believed the reports of her were extremely favourable, with one exception, that her motion at sea was extremely quick, which rendered it not so easy to fight her. But she had redeeming qualities as a ship, able to carry an immense press of sail, and to carry her guns at all times. The Vernon went through two cruises under Captains Macconnochie and Walpole. When the right hon. and gallant Officer opposite went out to America, he believed that he had found her motion much quicker than he approved of; but his opinion as to the Vernon was, on the whole, most favourable. Sir William Symonds, after having constructed the Vernon, was allowed to build a large number of 26-gun ship, and 16-gun brigs. All these, he believed, had turned out favourably; the officers who commanded them spoke of the 26-gun ships as great improvements on the old class of 28-gun frigates, and the 16-gun brigs great improvements on the old 8-gun brigs; and on the trial the other day the Cruiser could not keep up with her Competitors of the new class. The next ship Sir William Symonds was allowed to build was the Vanguard, against which much had been said. He (Sir C. Napier) was intimate with the two captains who commanded her, Sir T. Fellowes and Sir D. Dunn, who were both strongly in her favour, and than whom there were not two better officers in the service. Captain Bouverie also spoke in the highest terms of her. In the Mediterranean she proved to be superior to most ships. She was tried once with the Powerful and Ganges, and though they had the advantage, she could have carried a reef more out of her topsails, and would then have had the superiority. In a gale of wind off Alexandria she was the most leewardly of the six ships. He had spoken to the various captains, lest his memory should have deceived him, and all agreed that that was the case. He had also spoken to the captain who commanded her, 390 who differed from him to some extent, maintaining her to be the fourth, and not the lowest. It would be wrong, therefore, to condemn her on that ground, because in blowing weather, an accident during the night might have placed her in that position: and he, therefore, thought it only perfectly fair to admit that she was a good, efficient, and fast-sailing man-of-war. She had one fault, certainly; but it was rather owing to the Admiralty than her constructor. It was all very well for the builder to wish to construct a pretty ship, with a fine raking stern, like a Virginia pilot-boat; but the Admiralty should have said, "What is to become of all the expense and trouble we have been at to construct a new round stern, such as will admit of a great number of guns bearing, if raked?" He had no hesitation in saying, that if the ship were in action, she would run the greatest danger of being set fire to. There was another circumstance which he might mention: the Vanguard was rated on the list as an 80-gun ship; but while in commission, and so rated, she had two of her guns struck down in the hold, so that she, in fact, mounted only 78. The next ship ordered to be constructed was the Pique, which was commanded by his hon. and gallant Friend on the other side. And not only that, but six Piques were laid down without trying one. He was not prepared to blame the Admiralty for that, because they saw that he could construct ships like the Vanguard, and the 26-gun frigates, and 16-gun sloops, so that it was very natural for them to employ him to construct a ship of intermediate size. He believed there was not a single doubt in the mind of any naval officer that this vessel was a total and entire failure. The Pique was commanded by his hon. and gallant Friend opposite, who was well known to be an able seaman and excellent officer; and he was perfectly certain his hon. Friend's Report, was condemnatory of her. Captain Boxer succeeded his hon. Friend, whose Report, he understood, was favourable to the Pique; Captain Yates was the next, who carried out Sir Charles Adam to the West Indies. Captain Boxer also went as a passenger, and the Pique rolled to such an extraordinary degree that, though he had reported favourably of her, he came on deck, and told him if he did not get up runners and tackles, the ship would inevitably lose her masts. Captain Yates said no, she was a fine ship, and he had never been in the habit of doing that, and 391 he refused to do so until Sir C. Adam sent him an order. After the failure of the Pique, and when six fellow ships had been laid down at an enormous expense, of which three were launched, the Surveyor of the Navy was allowed to build a three-decked ship, to be called the Queen, and to make room for which the Royal Frederic was pulled to pieces. When finished, the vessel was looked upon as a miracle; the Queen went to Brighton to see her, and she was sent to the Mediterranean under the command of one of our oldest officers—a man he believed seventy-five years of age. In order that she might be fairly tried, the Admiralty very properly sent out the Formidable in company with her; but the whole of the trial consisted in the Queens running out and home. The ship arrived in Malta harbour, where she had a three years' station of it. He had forgotten to say, that with the example of the Pique before their eyes, the Board of Admiralty laid down no fewer than six Queens, and that, he conceived, was extremely blameable in them. He believed it to be the fact, nevertheless, and if he could get the papers he had asked for, he would be able to show the state those ships were now in. Well, the Queen went to Malta, and the Admiralty seemed to be satisfied with the sailing powers. Now, he would read the Report to the Board of Admiralty, as to the sailing powers of the Queen; and here let him say that he could hardly believe, when he read it, that such a document could have emanated from the Board of Admiralty. The document was headed, "Character of the ship after nine months trial."
§ "CHARACTER OF THE SHIP AFTER A TRIAL OF NINE MONTHS.
§ "How does she stow her provisions?—Well.
§ "Does she ride easy at her anchors?—Very easy?"
§ Not the smallest doubt of it; she was hardly ever out of harbour.
§ "How does she stand under her sails?—Remarkably stiff.
§ "How does she carry her lee ports?—Rather low, being too much immersed.
§ "Does she roll easy or uneasy in the trough of the sea?—Remarkably easy.
§ "Does she pitch easy?—Very easy.
§ "Is she, generally speaking, an easy or uneasy ship?—A remarkably easy ship.
§ "How does she in general carry her helm?—Rather slack.
§ "How does she steer?—Rather hard in a seaway.392
§ "How does she wear and stay?—Very well.
§ "Is she weatherly or leewardly, compared with other ships?—Very weatherly.
§ "How does she behave lying-to?—No trial."
§ All this time the ship lying in Malta harbour.
§ "She has run per hour by the log, with as much wind as she could safely bear—Close-hauled.
§ "Under whole or single-reefed topsails and top gallant sails?—Never tried under these circumstances with sufficient wind.
§ "Under double-reefed topsails? — Never tried under these circumstances with sufficient wind.
§ "Under courses?—Never tried under these circumstances with sufficient wind.
§ "Large, under all sail that could with propriety be set?—No trial.
§ "Before the wind, under similar circumstances?—No trial.
§ "What is her best point of sailing?—Not sufficient trial, but supposed on a wind.
§ "Comparative rate of sailing with other ships?—No regular trial, but shows occasionally superiority under the same sail.
§ "Is she, generally speaking, a well-built and strong ship, or does she, on the contrary, show any unusual symptoms of weakness?—Remarkably strong; shows no symptom of weakness.
§ "Remarks, stating the grounds of such of the present answers as differ from those in last Report, and any other observations tending to form an accurate judgment on the qualities of the ship.—Since the arrival of the Queen at Malta from England, twenty tons of ballast have been discharged out of the after hold, as it was supposed the ship was too much immersed, and it was remarkable, that in the recent cruises, her stability was not in the least affected, as she became lighter in the water, having returned into this port lightened by the consumption of provisions and water of 136 tons.
§ "H. R. HENRY, Acting Captain.
§ "G. C. DOWERS, Master,
§ "T. BARNARD, Carpenter.
§ "Jan. 1, 1843."
§ "CHARACTER OF THE SHIP AFTER A TRIAL OF TWENTY-TWO MONTHS.
§ "Does she ride easy at her anchors?—Easy.
§ "Inclination of the ship:
§ "Under stormy staysails or trysails?—Not tried.
§ "Under stormy staysails and main topsail?—Not tried.
§ "Under stormy staysails and main topsail, and reefed foresail?—Not tried.
§ "Under close-reefed topsails and courses?—Not tried.393
§ "Under treble-reefed topsails and courses?—Not tried.
§ "Under double-reefed topsails and topgallant-sails?—Six degrees.
§ "Under all sail except royals?—Five degrees.
§ "Under all sail, when just able to carry royals?—Four degrees.
§ "How does she carry her lee ports?—Well, since lightened.
§ "Does she roll easy or uneasy in the trough of the sea?—Very easy.
§ "Does she pitch easy?—Easy.
§ "Is she, generally speaking, an easy or uneasy ship?—A very easy ship.
§ "How does she in general carry her helm by the wind:
§ "With all sail set?—A weather, when near her trim.
§ "With treble-reefed topsails and courses?—A weather, when near her trim.
§ "How does she steer off the wind?—Easy, since lightened.
§ "How does she stay?—Quick and sure.
§ "How does she wear?—Quick.
§ "Is she weatherly or leewardly, compared with other ships, in moderate weather?—Weatherly.
§ "Is she weatherly or leewardly, compared with other ships in a gale?—Not tried.
§ "How does she behave lying-to? — Not tried.
§ "She has run per hour by the log, with as much wind as she could safely carry this sail to—
§ "Close-hauled with smooth water:
§ "Under whole or single-reefed topsails and topgallant sails?—Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "Under double-reefed topsails? — Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "Close-hauled with a head sea:
§ "Under double-reefed topsails and topgallant sails?—Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "Under close-reefed topsails and courses?—Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "Wind on the beam:
§ "Under close-reefed topsails and courses?—Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "Under treble-reefed topsails and courses?—Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "Under double-reefed topsails and topgallant sails?—Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "In moderate weather, unable to carry royals?—Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "In moderate weather, with all sail set?—Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "Wind on the quarter:
§ "In a gale?—Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "Under double-reefed topsails, topgallant sails, and scudding sails?—Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "Before the wind:
§ "In a gale?—Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "In moderate weather, with all sails set?—Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "How does she scud in a heavy gale?—Never tried under these circumstances.
§ "What is her best point of sailing?—No trial of sufficient duration.
§ "Comparative rate of sailing with other ships?—Great superiority over ships of her class.
§ "Is she, generally speaking, a well-built and strong ship, or does she show any symptoms of weakness?—A strong ship.
§ "Has the ship been ashore, or has she struck the ground, at any time during the period of this report; if she has, mention the time and place, and the date of the report of the circumstance, and to whom made?—Never.
§ "Remarks, stating the grounds for such of the present answers as differ from those in the last report, and any additional observations on the quality of the ship? — No difference in substance from former report.
§ (Signed) "G. F. RICH, Captain.
§ "C. P. BELLAMY, Master.
§ "T. BARNARD, Carpenter.
§ "Dated 1st Jan. 1844."
§ The House, he hoped, would see that he did not want to make "fish of one and flesh of another." He had read the Report of an Officer of the Navy, one of the most clever and talented in the service. He had set out by praying the attention of the House to this question, for it was not one either of party or politics. Now, he would say it was wrong for the Board of Admiralty to lay down six Queens without trying the ship at all—he certainly could not see why they were proceeded with. Well, the Queen came home, was sent into dock at Portsmouth, and received a complete overhaul. He had the authority of her captain for saying that she was exactly trimmed to the trim pointed out by the Surveyor of the Navy, and her masts were stayed by his dictation. The Admiral at Portsmouth, whom every body knew to be as good a seaman as possible, declared that she appeared to him in everything a complete ship. She then went to sea with the St. Vincent, Caledonia, and Albion. The St. Vincent was by no means a fast ship—he had brought her to Portsmouth when in command of the Galatea, known as the greatest brute in the service—but she best the Queen completely, although when taken into dock the other day her bottom was found to be quite foul. It appeared that 395 the Queen steered so badly that she was obliged to have her foresail up and her mainsail set to keep her by the wind. She pitched in such a tremendous manner that her middle-deck bow ports were in the water, and he understood that her rolling was of the same nature. They had the Report of the gallant Officer commanding her, who did not appear to have had much opportunity of trying her, and who seemed to have had much difficulty in picking up a gale of wind on the coast of Portugal in winter; but if he had extended his peregrinations as far as the Western Islands, he would have, perhaps, found no difficulty whatever. It appeared from the Reports of this gallant officer, that the Queen's great fault was an apparent want of sufficient power in her rudder, causing her to carry a slack helm, and that, under low and easy sail, she could not be well kept to the wind. The Queen returned to port, and was finally paid off at Sheerness, and was now in the dockyard at Chatham, to have her keel increased, her stern-post changed, her magazine altered, and other repairs. This was of course all done with the approval of the Surveyor of the Navy himself. Now, if this doctoring did not succeed in the case of the Queen, what was to be done? Were they to return to the system upon which they acted fifty-five years ago? Were they to go on building three-deckers and making them seventy-fours, building seventy-fours and making them frigates, building frigates and making them corvettes? If the Queen did not answer, it would puzzle the Admiralty to tell what to do with her. The only thing they could do was to follow the example of their predecessors in the case of the Boscawen. That ship was first of all laid down, in 1814, as a 74-gun ship; in 1819, she was made an 80-gun ship; and in 1834, after eight years' seasoning, she was changed into a 70-gun ship, upon the Surveyor's present plan. He now came to the Albion. Sir Robert Seppings, before he quitted the Navy Board, laid down three 92-gun ships, the London, the Nile, and the Rodney. The Rodney had gone through two commissions; she carried 32-pounders on her lower deck, her main deck, and her quarter-deck; she measured 2,626 tons, and her hull cost 67,550l. This vessel was commanded by Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, than whom there was not a better seaman in the whole Navy, and afterwards she was commanded by Captain Mansell, 396 of whom the same might be said. The qualities of the vessel were approved of by both those officers. Whether considered as a sea-boat or as a man-of-war, there was no better vessel, although, of course, not so fast a sailer as some of the smaller ships. She was an excellent man-of-war, and though she carried five months' provisions, a year's stores, and full of water, she carried her lower-deck ports 7 feet 11 inches out of the water. The ship was perfectly stiff, never heeled more than 7 degrees, rode as easily and pleasantly as possible in a gale. It was very natural when the late Board of Admiralty came into office, that they should endeavour to construct ships on the new principle which should turn out as well as those built on the old principle; and it was very natural to suppose that as other ships had worked well on the new principle, those about to be built should do so also. Accordingly the Albion was built, and commanded by an excellent seaman, Captain Lockhart. He (Sir C. Napier) believed that six ships were laid down on the principle of the Albion; but he might be in error from the want of the papers. He believed that the gallant Officer opposite was favourable to the principle of the Albion, and that some years ago he wrote a pamphlet, if not exactly on that subject, yet one in which he took occasion to speak favourably of that class of ships. Well, it was decided by the Admiralty to send out a squadron, and the Albion, St. Vincent, Queen, and Caledonia were sent out; and although, as he was informed, they had no weather fit for trying experiments, yet he had heard that the Albion was to windward with a heavy swell, and rolled so dreadfully that it was impossible to keep her lower deck ports open. And here he might relate a little anecdote of the gallant Officer opposite, who was then in command of the Albion. That gallant Officer quitted his own ship, which was pitching and rolling about, and on coming alongside the Caledonia, one of the boat's crew was so astonished with her comparative stillness, that he exclaimed to a brother sailor—the House would forgive him for quoting the words—"D—my eyes, Jack, is your ship aground?" That the Albion sailed better than most of the other ships he (Sir C. Napier) admitted, but she exceeded the St. Vincent by but very little. He had understood—but if he was wrong the gallant Officer would contradict him—that the Albion laboured under the disad- 397 vantage of being unable to keep her lower deck ports open; that was to say, that while the lower parts of the Caledonia and St. Vincent were open, those of the Albion were obliged to be shut. If that were the case, he regretted very much that the gallant Officer did not signal her to open her ports, and run out her lower deck guns. In that case the Officer in command must have been placed in this very unpleasant position—he must either have opened his ports, swamped his ship, or made the signal of inability. But after such a fact as that, all the writing and talking on earth about the excellent qualities of the Albion, would have been of no avail. He saw that an hon. and gallant Friend of his opposite, enjoyed all this very much, being himself an old sailor, [the hon. and gallant Commodore alluded to the Solicitor-General, Sir F. Thesiger;] and that learned Gentleman would be an authority, besides the gallant Officer opposite, able to judge of the force of such an objection against the Albion as he had been urging. But there was another mode by which the true character of the Albion might have been ascertained. It would have been easy to have ordered the Queen to engage with the Albion—of course with unshotted guns—and it would have been seen by the fire kept up by the latter, whether she was really the superior ship she was reported to be. He would take the Report of the Captain of the Albion himself, and that Officer stated that the Rodney carried her ports 6 feet 7 inches above water, with all her stores shipped; while the Albion, with only three months' provisions on board, carried her lower ports only 3 feet 9 inches and a half above water. But even from that calculation must be deducted three or four inches for the difference between the inner and outer sill of the port, which would reduce it to 3 feet 6 inches. He hoped he had not fatigued the House by the minuteness with which he entered into particulars. He felt a great obligation for the indulgence which had been already shown to him, but the subject was really of vast importance, and he would endeavour to be as brief as was consistent with his duty. By the Return furnished by the Admiralty, and now upon the Table, it appeared that since 1830 there had been launched five 120-gun ships, costing 319,436l. for the hulls alone. The hon. and gallant Officer read the following table:— 398
|I. SHIPS LAUNCHED SINCE 1830
|The total amount since 1830, was £1,668,406.
§ Besides the ships he had mentioned, he should be able, when his other papers came from the Admiralty, to show the number of ships upon the stocks, and how far they were advanced. There was one observation he had forgotten to make respecting the Albion, which was very important. It appeared that when she came into Plymouth the other day, after having been only a year out and very little at sea, her water-ways were so open that before she could be caulked she was obliged to be listed, and wood driven in between her seams. It appeared that although she only wanted caulking, there were no less than 100 shipwrights employed upon her for seven days, or, as it might be said, 700 men were working on her. He now came to steamboats. Before the year 1831, there were only twelve steam-boats in the Navy, and they were small vessels. But in 1831, steam begun to take a turn, and look up. The Government saw that it was absolutely necessary something should be done about steam. He had certainly thought them rather slow about it, and he himself had then constructed six or seven steam-boats; and so he fancied he knew something about them. At that time several steam-boats were laid down; and he spoke to his gallant Friend, Sir Thomas Hardy, requesting him to apply to the Admiralty, to name a commission of two or three officers and engineers, to confer respecting the construction of steam-vessels. But Sir Thomas Hardy said to him, "It is of no use going to the Admiralty, because they will not listen to us." He then took upon himself to write to the Lord High Admiral, who was then in office, upon the subject of steam-boats:—
§ "Oct. 4,1829.
§ "SIR,—To render steam-boats fit for war, requires a better combination of construction and arming than we seem to be aware of; and, as I understand there is a steam man-of-war of 700 tons to be laid down at Woolwich, I trust His Royal Highness, the Lord High Admiral, will not think it presumptuous in my stating my opinion on the subject. I have had a considerable degree of experience, but I do it with great diffidence, being well aware of the difficulty of the subject.
§ "As it is uncertain whether the various experiments now trying will succeed, I shall base my opinion on the system of Bolton and Watts, and shall begin with the construction of my vessel, limiting myself to a steam corvette.
§ "I should propose she should be 30 feet wide, 150 feet long, and 18 feet deep from the gun-deck. She ought neither to be so fine as a man of-war, nor, on the other hand, have 400 the capacity of an Indiaman. In the first case, she would not stow sufficient quantity of fuel, and would draw too much water for most purposes; in the latter case, she would not steam with sufficient rapidity. Her floor should not be quite flat, but nearly so, and its length one-half the vessel; the form of the bow and run would occupy the other half. I beg it fully to be understood that I do not propose this as a vessel offering the last resistance, but as one combining the requisites necessary for a steam man-of-war; such a vessel, light, would draw less than four feet, and with her engines and boilers would not much exceed six feet, and would certainly be under seven; and with 600 tons of coals would draw about twelve, having her guns six feet above the water at her greatest loading. She would consume twenty-two tons of coals a day, and, if the coals are good, and with great care, something less. The engines and boilers should be secured against shot as I have already proposed. Experience has proved beyond a doubt that the fittest vessels for sea are those constructed according to the plan of the steamboat at the Admiralty; and I should recommend the wheels not to be so broad as they usually are; such a vessel would certainly not go so fast in the river Thames, but in rough weather the wheels would always be under the command of the engines.
§ "The Lord High Admiral has, no doubt, observed that according to that plan, it would be impossible for a man-of-war to keep her guns run out so many feet beyond her real breadth; they might be fought in that way in light winds, it is true, but not even then without straining the ship.
§ "I would, therefore, abandon entirely the system of broadside guns, and mount amidships as many heavy guns as the ship would bear, and as there was room to place on pivots to point all round, as the privateers were wont to do in the West Indies, in addition to two bow and stern chasers mounted the usual way.
§ "She should be rigged as a three-masted schooner, with the lower masts in two, having top-sails, rut-sails, &c., and all the necessary sails for common purposes; and which, with the exception of the lower part of the lower mast, should be got down the moment it became necessary to steam in bad weather against the wind.
§ "To His Royal Highness, the
§ Lord High Admiral."
§ That was the letter he had thought it his duty to write to the Lord High Admiral. He was sorry to say that not the least attention was paid to it, and since then he had gone on for fifteen or sixteen years with the same arguments, yet still seeing the authorities building steam-vessels, like a wedge, without any bottom at all, and so narrow, that they were obliged to raise a 401 platform to put their engines upon. Before that time, steam was esteemed of little importance: but when the right hon. Baronet came into office, he did, much to his credit, take steam up; he turned his attention to it, and called in the opinion of Sir Thomas Hardy. Now, he (Sir Charles Napier) concluded that when Sir Thomas Hardy came into office he should have no trouble in gaining the attention of that gallant Officer to the subject. But there really seemed some extraordinary influence belonging to the walls of the Admiralty; for when Sir Thomas Hardy was within them, he (Sir Charles Napier) found his work quite as difficult as before. He was just as difficult to deal with as any other Lord of the Admiralty. Now, he did think, when they undertook to lay out such enormous sums upon the construction of steam men-of-war, care ought to be had that they should be rendered as perfect as it was possible to make them. These vessels must be considered in the light only of corvettes; and he did not see any impropriety in not putting main-deck guns in them. But a great part of the vessels constructed by the Surveyor of the Navy had the same faults as those which characterised his sailing vessels. The first disadvantage was, that they were so sharp that when the machinery was put in they were obliged to raise it too high; they were obliged to get a platform for it, so that it lay exposed to the shot of the enemy. Another error lay with the engineers; but he did not blame them, but the Board of Admiralty, for not having brought the engineers together, to let them know that no steam man-of-war is of use, the machinery of which is exposed to be destroyed by the first shot of the enemy. Now, he had no hesitation in asserting, that not one of these steam-boats, built at the cost of these immense sums, had the slightest pretensions to be considered as a man-of-war. There was not one of them that the first shot fired would not enter her machinery, and blow her up. But had those vessels been built flat, and of sufficient depth, the case would have been altogether different. If the engineers and builders had been brought together, and had been told that it was absolutely necessary the engines should be under water, there was not one of them, he had no hesitation in saying, who could not have built ships for that purpose. Another grand fault in these ships was, that when they took in their coals—and none of them could carry more 402 than from ten to twelve days' supply—the wheels of every one of them were completely buried in the water, so that half their power was consumed. But he was now coming to a still greater error. After having built these smaller vessels, the Admiralty thought they would run the risk of constructing a frigate, and the Gorgon was laid down, a ship of 1,111 tons, and built at a cost of 58,000l. for her hull alone. Now, what was the case with respect to this frigate? She had only one gun fore, and another aft, and had no means of running a gun out of her main deck. They were now told, indeed, that it was not intended to mount main deck guns at all. So that these ships were so constructed, that they had no means of firing from their main deck at all, nor could they fire two guns right ahead. The counter was, moreover, carried up too high. Then, if chased by a superior force, this vessel could only bring one gun to bear astern for her defence. All he could say, was this, if it was intended that this frigate should carry main deck guns, she was a direct failure; and if it was not intended she should carry them, the people who built her knew nothing at all about the matter. Well, then, the Gorgon was a failure. Then came the Cyclops, the tonnage of which was 1,195, and she cost 27,411l. She, also, had no main deck guns, though there were rings for them, and bolts to run them out, so that people supposed she was to carry them. But there was the same fault in the Cyclops as in the Gorgon, and, for the sake of giving her a smart, handsome stern, like a Virginia pilot boat, it became impossible to put her engines in a proper position, and instead of having four guns at her head and four astern, she was unable to carry one. So also with respect to this frigate, he would say, that if intended to carry main deck guns, she was a complete failure, and if not, those who built her knew nothing about the matter. It was melancholy to see such a waste of money upon an enormous steam navy, and none of the vessels worth anything. The next vessels on the list were:—
§ All of them were less in tonnage than the Gorgon and Cyclops, and none of them were properly constructed. If they had been, he had no hesitation in saying there were none of them which ought not to fire four guns, nearly if not right ahead, and four astern. Then there were the following ships:—
There was no Return of the expense of these vessels, but all of them were exactly in the same category with the corvettes and frigates he had mentioned. Not one of them was able to carry main deck guns, but were fitted out with fine sterns, like Virginia pilot boats. When a builder presented a model, he was responsible for the ship built after that model, but the Board of Admiralty were responsible for the adoption of the model; and the first question to the builder ought to be, "Where are your bow guns?" The fact was, we had not a single steam-ship to fight two guns ahead and two astern. There were two bow ports, indeed, but it was impossible to work them with any facility whatever, on account of the vessels being so sharp. There was the Retribution, an enormous steam-vessel of 1,641 tons; she was to carry one gun upon a pivot abaft, and either four or six, he was not sure which, on her upper deck; but the necessity of stern and bow guns seemed never to have entered the heads of her constructers, and she had cabin windows up to her very deck. And then, instead of carrying her engines and boilers sufficiently low, they were even more exposed than in the other vessels. When she went down to Chatham the other day, having only her engines on board, her wheels were plunged into the water four feet six inches, which was more than ought to have been, had she had all her stores and guns shipped. Then there was the Terrible, the last steam-ship launched, which the Government had built by Mr. Laing. She measured 1,840 tons,
and was larger than any of our old line-of-battle ships. The Terrible was unquestionably better than the other vessels. He believed the Surveyor of the Navy would never have listened to anybody's opinion; but after all, he had come down to flattening his boats a little more, certainly at a great expense to the public. He did not know the number of steam-vessels upon the stocks. There was a great number, he was aware; but how far they were advanced he knew not. One, he understood, was in a forward state—the Avenger, a large vessel; but, whatever might be the state of forwardness of all these vessels, it would be much better to pull them to pieces than to go on building them according to the present system. It was actually throwing money to the winds. They could never be of any service whenever this country should go to war; because steam-boats could neither be more nor less to the Navy than what the cavalry was to the Army. No Admiral would ever send two steam-boats to fight each other; a general might just as well send out two regiments of cavalry to have an afternoon's amusement with each other. He should like to know how any steam-vessel could harass the rear of the enemy, if she had no guns at her bow. None of the steam-vessels belonging to the British Navy had guns at the bow. He had seen them with his own eyes, and could testify to the fact. Another use for steamboats in a time of war would be to cover a retreat. Suppose a squadron running away from a superior fleet, the Admiral would be obliged to send the steam-boats astern to keep the enemy's vessels off. But how could such a retreating fleet be protected if there was only one steam-boat, and that boat with only one gun astern? Now, what was the fact? It could not be too often repeated—there was not, belonging to the British Navy, a steam-boat with more than one gun astern, except the Terrible, which had two. And yet, not withstanding this fact, and notwithstanding the great and serious consequences which might be involved in this state of things, the Board of Admiralty looked with a jaundiced eye upon all the suggestions which men of experience had made to remedy so glaring an evil in the naval system of this great country. [Laughter]. The right hon. Baronet might laugh, but these were straightforward facts; and if the right hon. Gentleman could point out one single steam-boat in the British Navy that could work her bow guns upon the main deck,
he would cut his head off. All that he had to ask, then, in moving for a Committee of inquiry, was simply this: had they succeeded, or had they not, in the manner in which the Board of Admiralty had hitherto been going on? If not, and it was his firm conviction that they had not, then they ought to make a change. He should have preferred asking for the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the whole system of the naval construction pursued by the Government of this country; but on consulting with Gentlemen who were better acquainted with the rules of the House than he was, he found they were of opinion that there would be more chance of an inquiry being instituted if he moved for a Committee, limited to the terms of his Motion, than if he had adopted any other course. For his own part, he did not care whether the inquiry were conducted by means of a Commission, or by a Committee of that House; all he was anxious for was that an efficient inquiry should be made, and he implored the House not to grant one single shilling towards the Navy Estimates until some competent body should be appointed to examine thoroughly and completely into the present condition of the Steam Navy of this country, in order that the errors existing in the system now pursued might be discovered, and a better plan devised for the future. Until an assurance should be given by Her Majesty's Ministers that something of this sort should be speedily done, he for one would not vote for the appropriation of a single shilling of the public money towards the Navy Estimates. He had been induced to bring this subject forward from the knowledge he possessed of the present condition of the Navy of this Empire; but he should not have entertained any hope of success in his efforts if he had not known that the public press had at length made it a matter of grave discussion. It was not till now that he had been able to get the House, or, at all events, the Government for the time being, to listen to any of the suggestions which he himself had from time to time made in relation to the state of the British Navy. He certainly had in all his communications with the present Board of Admiralty met with the greatest courtesy, especially from the gallant Officer opposite (Sir George Cockburn). That gallant Officer had always met him (Sir C. Napier) with great kindness and cordiality, and he was certainly induced to entertain some hopes that an endeavour would at length be made
to put an end to this bad system. He thought the House ought to grant him the Committee he now asked for. He had made some very strong statements to the House, and he was perfectly certain that if an inquiry were granted he should be able to make those statements good. The House was bound, in honour and justice to the Surveyor of the Navy, as well as to the present Board of Admiralty, and also to their predecessors, to institute an inquiry, in order to know whether he had been maligning them or not. Knowing, however, full well, that if he should obtain a Committee, he would be able to substantiate everything he had stated, he now begged to move
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the manner in which the money voted since the year 1835 for the construction of Ships has been expended, and if the Ships constructed are an improvement of the old system.
§ Mr. Hume
seconded the Motion, as he was anxious to see a searching inquiry into this subject instituted. It was a question not new to the House. He thought a great responsibility attached to the right hon. Baronet the present Secretary of State for the Home Department, for the course which he took in the year 1832, when First Lord of the Admiralty, and for the changes which he had then made. He would not, on this occasion, enter into details, but the changes which the right hon. Baronet at that period made, were such as challenged inquiry; and the question could not be satisfactorily settled until that inquiry took place; and in order to embrace the period from which those changes were made, he could have wished that his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir C. Napier) had fixed the year 1832, instead of 1835, as the time since which he was desirous to ascertain the appropriation of the public money in the construction of ships for the British Navy. On the 29th of June, 1832, when he, in a Committee of Supply, challenged the policy of the changes which the right hon. Baronet had made by appointing Captain Symonds to be Surveyor of the Navy, when pupils who had been educated at the School of Naval Architecture at a considerable expense, were passed over, the right hon. Baronet made use of an expression which had often been quoted, and which had excited a great deal of feeling among a large class of persons. The right hon. Baronet said—That he had acted in accordance with the best naval advice, and that he was firmly 407 persuaded that a naval captain was more competent to act as the Surveyor of the shipbuilding department, than any other gentleman that could be selected to fill it.This was as much as to say that science was of no value in ship-building. Science which in every other mechanical department was found to be so essentially advantageous, and which had been the means of advancing the arts to an immense extent, was declared by the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) to be of no use whatever in the construction of ships. It was important that the House should know what had taken place upon this subject, for it involved great national interests. This country was the greatest commercial nation in the world, and required necessarily to have the most powerful and complete ships; and yet, to the reproach of England, she was now, and had been from the earliest ages, the most backward nation in the application of science in the construction of ships. The consequence was that no two ships had ever been built in this country upon the same principle. So defective, indeed, was the method upon which the ships of the British Navy were constructed, that whenever any foreign ship was captured, its plan of construction was immediately copied by this country. French, Danish, Swedish, and Spanish ships had all in turn been preferred to those of England. This subject had attracted public attention so early as 1791, when a Committee was appointed to inquire into it, and two eminent British Admirals were members of that Committee. The defect was considered to be of such importance, that an Association was formed, calling the attention of the country to it; and so sensible was Lord St. Vincent of the importance of remedying the inconvenience, and of removing the stigma which attached to the British name, in as far as naval architecture was concerned, that he promoted the formation of a School of Naval Architecture. There was a school of naval architecture in France, in Spain, in Denmark, and in Sweden. However anxious he might be to see the public expenditure conducted upon economical principles, yet he never had objected to a liberal outlay upon the naval power of the country, because he conceivedour Navy to be the natural defence of our insulated position. In the third Report of the Commissioners who were appointed in 1806 to inquire into the state of the British Navy, they stated that the means taken by France for promoting 408 naval architecture were greater than those adopted in this country, and that no little attention was paid by men of science to naval architecture; and that while our rivals in naval power were employing men of the greatest talents, and were availing themselves of the highest scientific knowledge in the construction of ships, this country was grovelling on in the dark. In consequence of this recommendation, sanctioned by the Earl St. Vincent, a School of Naval Architecture was established. This was in the year 1809. In 1811, it came into full operation, and continued until 1832, when the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham), as the First Lord of the Admiralty, abolished the system, declaring that not one of those gentlemen who were educated at the school was sufficiently qualified to fill the office of Surveyor to the Navy; and he then appointed Captain Symonds, who possessed no scientific knowledge whatever in naval architecture, to that department. Notwithstanding the representations made to the House on that occasion, the right hon. Baronet obtained a majority, and carried through his measure, thereby inflicting much injury upon a body of men who had devoted themselves to the study of naval architecture, under the pledge given that they should rise by degrees to fill such situations as were connected with their peculiar pursuits. The education acquired at the School of Naval Architecture was of the most comprehensive description. There was not a branch of science applicable to shipbuilding which was not taught; and the pupils, before obtaining any employment, underwent the strictest examination as to their knowledge and qualifications in all that related to naval architecture. No doubt those who held commissions in the Navy were required to undergo a certain degree of scientific instruction; but there was nothing in the system of education they were subjected to which enabled them to judge of the application of principles to the construction of a ship, or to make improvements in naval architecture. By taking away, therefore, that important branch of professional education, the right hon. Baronet at once deprived this country of the means of reaching the same height in naval architecture as other countries. This was a most unwise course, and particularly at a time when a large sum of money was about to be expended on the Navy. Seeing that England was the only country that for the last twenty years had been building large ships that were unmanageable, and 409 which were constantly being cut down into frigates or brigs, he considered it was high time that some inquiry should be made, to ascertain how all this might be corrected. Everything that came to his knowledge convinced him that England was very much behind other countries in naval matters. Haw was it that no two ships could be built by Sir William Symonds having the same qualities? Why was it, after fourteen years' trial, that he had not been able to discover any one plan by which a ship might be built that should be better than any other? If Sir William Symonds had made any such discovery, why had it not been tested by a trial, and after the experiment made, why should there not at this moment be lying before them a Report as to what that superior mode of construction was, in order that the public money might be laid out to the best advantage, and to the greatest credit of the country? This was the ground why he was anxious for an inquiry to be instituted. No written Report by Sir William Symonds would be satisfactory. The investigation must be by personal examination, whether by a Committee or by a Commission he cared not. If it should turn out, as he feared it would, that this country had not availed itself of the advantages of science in the building of ships, he would be happy to see the restoration of the School of Naval Architecture which the right hon. Baronet destroyed, or at any rate to see whether the advantages which were promised by the appointment of Sir William Symonds had been realised. The right hon. Baronet said, that that appointment was an experiment. Let it, then, be tested as an experiment. The question was one of great importance, and demanded investigation.
§ Sir George Cockburn
confessed that, in respect to all which the hon. and gallant Commodore (Sir C. Napier) had said relating to naval affairs, so far back as 1806, he was scarcely able to follow him. At that time he was at sea carrying on the war against France, and was not acquainted with the circumstances to which his hon. and gallant Friend had alluded. He could only say that that system, which was not perfect in 1806, might be in a very improved state now. It was very probable that the vessels built during the war were bad; but it might be supposed, from the statement of his hon. and gallant Friend, that those vessels were cut down at once into frigates; but the fact was other- 410 wise. They had become old ships and required repair; and not being thought worth that expense, they were then cut down to make efficient frigates. There could be no blame imputed to the authorities of that day for taking such a course. But those were matters which had occurred a long time ago. What he more particularly wished to do, was to bring before the House the charge which had been made against the present Board of Admiralty. It was rather unfair to expect him to defend what had been done in former times, and by other Governments, when he was far away. The Board of Admiralty was charged with having allowed Sir William Symonds to build ships upon his own plan, before it had been sufficiently tested. With respect to that gentleman himself, he (Sir G. Cockburn) called on the House to recollect what the feeling was towards that officer when he (Sir George Cockburn) came into office; and to say, if the present Board of Admiralty had, on coming into office, suspended all the work which Sir W. Symonds was proceeding with in the building of vessels, whether it would not have been considered a mere party proceeding, and would not the Admiralty have been acused of treating that officer in a way which was not deserved? No doubt about it; no more than there was that the great majority of the Navy, with a very large portion of the public, considered that Sir W. Symonds had rendered great benefit to the Navy by increasing the size of the ships, by making them broader and more capable of bearing the weights they had to carry. Perhaps, indeed, he had gone to the extreme, and had made them broader than necessary, which might have tended, with his mode of construction, to cause the uneasy motion complained of as attaching to them generally. When the present Board of Admiralty came into office, the Queen was the largest ship built by Sir W. Symonds. That ship went to sea soon afterwards, and proceeded in company with the Formidable to the Mediterranean; and every report that came home had been highly favourable to the Queen. She was reported to be the "finest first-rate and three-decker in the service." She was tried against other vessels (for in spite of what had been stated by the gallant Officer opposite, several trials had taken place), and she was reported to have beaten the Howe, a ship of her own class, the Rodney, and, in short, every other ship except the Vanguard, which latter ship, it must be ob- 411 served, was also built by Sir W. Symonds. Would the Admiralty then have been justified in at once stopping entirely the building of ships by the Surveyor of the Navy? Sir W. Symonds was not an officer of their appointing; but he (Sir G. Cockburn) considered him to be an officer of much merit, and entitled to support and protection. But he must say, that the Board of Admiralty, on coming into office, did not deem it right to confine the construction of our ships of war to one individual only. The Admiralty, therefore, checked the advancement of the larger ships building until an opportunity should be afforded by the completion of the Albion to test the efficiency of that principle of construction; and the Albion was the only one, therefore, hurried forward; and when that ship was ready, she was ordered to join the Queen, the Caledonia, and St. Vincent, to try their comparative qualities—the reports of which trial not having proved so satisfactory relative to the Queen and the Albion as desirable, the completion of the ships on the same principle was entirely stopped; and the Surveyor having requested certain alterations to be made in the Queen, she had been docked for that purpose; and it was intended when she should be again ready, to send her for further trial with the St. Vincent, the Albion, and Rodney, together with the Vanguard, Superb, and Canopus, the last-named ship having been selected in consequence of her having been considered the finest and best two-decker of the last war, and to have carried her lower deck ports open longer than any other ship of that day: she would, therefore, afford the best proof as to our gain or otherwise by the present mode of construction. Further, the Board of Admiralty, soon after coming into office, without detracting from the merits of Sir W. Symonds, appointed a Committee composed of the master shipwrights of all our dockyards, to report what they deemed the best plan for constructing our ships of war for affording them the greatest degree of strength generally, and most efficiently arming their bows and sterns: that Committee sat a considerable time, and its detailed report was forwarded to Sir W. Symonds for his observations; and, though he differed from the Committee on many points, most of its recommendations had been adopted, modified to a certain extent by the Surveyor's observations. After that, the present Board of Admiralty selected three of the most talented of those educated at the School of 412 Naval Architecture, to meet as a Committee to examine scientifically the errors of construction of our former system of building, and to report the cause of their having been less efficient than those of other nations; and they were to submit to the Admiralty the lines they would propose for a ship of each class as the most perfect, according to the principles their science should dictate, and of which they were to superintend the building; and under this latter direction, the Espiegle brig had been built. But it was only fair to say, that that brig had not shown any great superiority; for in the trial she only stood third in the report—Sir W. Symonds' brig, the Flying Fish, having been placed as second; and the brig of Mr. White, a practical man (the Daring), proved the best and fastest of the whole. Mr. White had also done an extraordinary thing. One of the worst of the 42-gun frigates had been picked out. She had had her bow cut off. He had lengthened it, put a new bow on, and the report upon her trial was, that she had done wonders. He thought that he had stated enough to show that the Board of Admiralty had not been indifferent to the very important question of the construction of ships. They had done everything in their power to discover what was the best system of building; but at the same time they felt that they ought not to do anything to hurt the feelings of a man like Sir W. Symonds, who, on the admission of every one, had rendered great service to the Navy and to the country. They had made up their minds not to trust any single person with the building of the Navy; but they had not been in too great a haste to overturn what they had found established. If those large ships of which the gallant Officer had spoken—the Queen, the Albion, and others—turned out inferior, they had determined that those now on the stocks should be altered in conformity with another model. In answer to what the hon. Member for Montrose had said about the School for Naval Architecture, he might state that the present Board of Admiralty had brought them forward, and had given them high appointments as opportunities offered; and he would instance Mr. Fincham and Mr. Laing, as two who had been advanced to be master shipwrights, and the others filled the stations of master shipwrights and foremen of our yards. It was, therefore, unfair to insist that they had been thrown on one side. If the results of the present inquiry should justify it, there would 413 be no objection to re-establish some system of that description. The gallant Mover founded his proposal on the necessity for a Committee in order to ascertain what ought to be done; but his (Sir G. Cockburn's) strong impression was, that a Committee of the House of Commons was the very Worst tribunal that could be selected for the purpose. For himself, he could say that it was the bounden duty of the Admiralty Board thoroughly to investigate such matters; and if the House of Commons thought those now at the head of the Department incompetent to the duty, it had nothing to do but to remove the present occupants of office, and to place at the Board either the gallant Mover, or any other set of Gentlemen they might prefer. He was quite sure, let the Board of Admiralty consist of whom it would, that it was the only proper channel for the investigation of such subjects. So much for sailing ships. He would now advert to team-ships; and he could assure the gallant Officer that he was not more anxious on the question than all who were at present concerned in administering the naval affairs of the country. It was to be borne in mind that most of the steam-ships made the topic of observation had been, if not finished, contracted for before the present Ministers came into power. The first point they had ascertained was, that our steam-ships were under-powered, and that it was necessary to give them more power. It had been truly said, that steam-ships were not, and never could be, the main navy of the country; and the principle the present Admiralty had gone upon was this, to give them the heaviest shot and the greatest range. There had been no intention to put guns on the main deck of those steam-vessels in progress when they came into office; that deck was reserved for carrying troops, and they were armed on the upper deck with the heaviest description of guns they could bear, some of the largest guns carrying solid shot, which insured to them the greatest possible range. The great value and advantage of steam-ships of war, besides that of lowing line-of-battle ships in and out of action, would be to assist sailing ships or fleets with their guns of long range, choosing their position beyond the range of the guns of such sailing ships or fleets; but to enable them to do this, they ought not to have bluff bows, as recommended by the gallant Officer opposite, but must be made sharp and capable of going rapidly through the water; with which 414 view he (Sir G. Cockburn) did not think it would be advisable to overload them with guns, which, by rendering them so much deeper in the water, would, of course, impede their power of rapid movement. As to the Terrible, she being of larger size, had been constructed to carry heavy guns on her main deck, and she would fire three heavy guns on the line of keel forward, and two aft, besides her broadside guns of heavy calibre. Some iron steamships were now in course of construction, and it was made a sine qua non that the main deck should have power to carry two guns forward, and two aft. This, too, was to be accomplished without any increase of bluffness, for the bows were to be as fine as under the former construction. He admitted the guns on the main deck to be an improvement, but he did not think it indispensable. A force of this description would be of great importance along the line of our coast. He knew how many steamers France had, and he also knew how many steamers we had in this country; and though he hoped that he would not be asked to state the numbers, he could assure the House that England had a larger steam force than France had, despite of all that had been said to the contrary. He would not state the numbers to the House; but if he were asked by any hon. Member, he should be very happy to tell him, and prove that we were superior both in number and force. With regard to the remarks made by the gallant Officer relative to Sir Byam Martin and other respectable officers, he (Sir G. Cockburn) would not pay them so bad a compliment as to say one word in their defence, it being wholly unnecessary; but the gallant Officer (Sir C. Napier), must excuse him for saying, that, on certain subjects, he was rather too much in the habit of speaking loosely about others. As regarded the late trial cruise, his gallant Friend behind him would be able to speak for himself, and to defend his own arrangements. He only knew that the Board of Admiralty had been much obliged to him forgoing, and that he had perfectly satisfied them by the manner in which he had discharged his duty.
§ Captain Rous
said, the Navy, the Government, and the country, were indebted to the gallant Officer who had brought the subject forward. But he also considered the country indebted to those who had abolished the Navy Board; and as to the Naval School of Science—if its efficacy were to be estimated by a model he had 415 seen as a specimen of its productions, the sooner it was abolished the better. In his opinion the system which had from time immemorial been followed in our dockyards was pernicious. Earl St. Vincent had saved 1,000,000l. or so per annum to the country at a stroke, by abolishing one part of the system—that through which treenails were often substituted for copper bolts, &c., practices by which many valuable vessels had been lost. The hon. Member had spoken of round sterns, and he (Captain Rous) remembered the years 1820 and 1822, when there was a mania for fortifying the stems of three-deckers. Between 1817 and 1823, he had commanded three brigs and a corvette; and he recollected telling his lamented brother-in-law, Sir H. Hotham, that there was not a single brig or corvette in the service capable of firing a stern chase gun, because it could not be fired clear of the port-sill. In fact, millions had been misspent in our dockyards, and it was hardly too much to say, that one-eighth of the National Debt had been incurred by building bad ships, which were either useless at sea, or had never been sent to sea at all. This system had been going on ever since 1815; and he only wished that the burden rested not on the nation, but on the shoulders of those who had caused the useless expenditure. He begged to remind the House that the Waterwitch had been proved in all the late trials to be a very fast vessel, and that nobody had been able to say one word against her. As one instance of the system that still reigned, he might mention, that when last year the Waterwitch required repairs, double the sum was stated to be necessary, for which the ship had originally been built; and unless this had been accidentally discovered by the builder, she would have been broken up as not worth repairing. It had been reported to him from a very good quarter, that some of the late trial ships had been built of such decayed timber, that they were not water-tight, and that one, after having been taken into dock, had had 500 tons of water pumped into her, in order to find out where she leaked. The effect must be to render the vessel unwholesome for the men, and to injure her sailing powers, by saturating her timbers. If he were allowed his own way, no Surveyor of the Navy should build a ship, but models should be sent in, and all encouragement given, to skill and ingenuity; 416 while the Surveyor, instead of entering into competition, should be one of the judges to ascertain which model ought to be preferred. If he wanted to construct a steamer, he would go to the builder of the Great Britain, or to Mr. Napier, as persons who had established their reputation in that line; not to the Surveyor of the Navy. The question raised by the Motion was, whether the ships built since 1835 were inferior or superior to those which had preceded them. He had no doubt whatever on the subject. In the course of his time he had commanded every species of ship which had been condemned; he had commanded a 14-gun brig, one of the corvettes, a donkey frigate, and others, and was therefore able to speak of their qualities. Not one of them was fit to go to sea as a man-of-war; but he admitted that those constructed by Sir W. Symonds were in many respects splendid vessels, but then they were a great deal larger, and totally different from former vessels of the same class. There was no doubt that great improvements had been made of late years as far as frigates were concerned. Having been in the Mediterranean, he had remarked what indeed every one who had been there must have remarked—that the best vessels that were built in the world, were the ships and brigs of the Greek Archipelago. Any one who saw them would say that they were built by Sir W. Symonds; but the fact was, that he took his model from those vessels. The Duke of Portland, one of the best men who ever lived, patronised him: he was allowed to build a brig in competition with other gentlemen. The brigs were tried, and Sir W. Symonds succeeded. But then he proceeded to build vessels without a flat floor, and immediately he did it, every man at the Admiralty said, "We have found out the philosopher's stone; Sir W. Symonds is building vessels without a flat floor;" the parts fitted each other like a Chinese puzzle, and it was said no further improvement could be made. Every one at the Admiralty Board gave an opinion in their favour; but there were admirals in the service who did not know one ship from another, and Lords of the Admiralty who could not distinguish a first-rate from a Newcastle collier. He very emphatically maintained the necessity of a flat floor, and insisted that every pound weight at the top of a vessel required a certain pro- 417 portion of a flat floor. If a vessel carried no guns she might do without a flat floor; but if she did carry guns it was impossible to raise a three-decker without a flat floor. Why, the Admiralty ought to be ashamed of themselves for thinking of it. He had commanded one of the 36-gun frigates, built by Sir W. Symonds, and he did his duty then, as he endeavoured always to do it in that House. He told the Admiralty then that she was a very magnificent ship; that she had many good points; that she could stand up under any weight of canvass; but, nevertheless, she had a great defect—she was very sharp under water, had a short bluff bow, and never was fit to meet a head sea. But if any Gentleman would only look at the Flying Fish, which was built the other day, and compare her with the Snake, which Sir W. Symonds built some time ago, he would say that they were not like the same thing. The Flying Fish was one of the wonders of the world; still they could not meet a head sea with a vessel having a short bluff bow; but when he commanded one of Her Majesty's ships, he found to his cost and great inconvenience, and by no means to his profit, that the Admiralty had so identified themselves with the Surveyor, and had ordered so many ships to be built by him—the Queen and half a dozen others—that if he had said one word to them, that such or such a vessel is a magnificent vessel, but she bas such or such a defect, it would have been considered a personal attack upon themselves. But what happened ten years afterwards? That he repeated what he told them then, and that they were more ready to believe him; but they left a most painful legacy to their successors. He trusted that what he said would not be considered as any attack upon them; but the Admiralty had been three years making up their minds whether the Queen was a fit ship to build three-deckers by or not. Now, if he had been ordered to go to the Mediterranean—to Malta for instance—and having made a short passage out, had received orders from the Admiralty to try the two ships, the Formidable and the Queen, as to their sailing qualities, he should have known that the eyes of the naval world were upon him; and if he had treated the orders the Admiralty with disrespect, and never made the trial, he should have been plain Mr. Rous, instead of Captain 418 Rous, for probably he should have been broken by a court-martial. But then again with respect to the steamers, which Sir W. Symonds had built, and which his friends declare as the finest in the world; no doubt when the Admiralty ordered him as Surveyor of the Navy, to build a certain number of steamers, he had done so; but if they had desired him to rebuild Westminster Abbey he would have done it too. Without any more knowledge of steam-vessels than he himself possessed, yet Sir W. Symonds was ready to enter into any expense in building them. But did he find fault with Sir W. Symonds?—although his steamers were failures, and Sir William had spent a million of money to very little purpose, yet he found no fault with him, but with the Admiralty who had employed him. It was not his fault, he was not brought up to it, he was not a scientific man; but the absurdity was picking out such a man to build steam-vessels. He must say a few words about the late trial of the brigs. It appeared to him that under Captain Corry everything was carried on in a fair and straight-forward manner, as would be the case when he commanded. They went to Lisbon; it came on to blow; what could they have done better, than with a pretty smart wind, to beat off the shore? They were then sailing under double-reefed topsails; it was the time, of all others, to make trial—but what they were about he could not tell; they let it slip and never made the trial until the weather became fine, so that it was no trial at all. When the wind was blowing fresh on the shore there was an excellent opportunity for trial in beating off the shore. He regretted the misfortune that had happened of the Admiralty taking three years to come to a decision; but, although it was upwards of three years since the Queen went to sea, still she had not been in a gale of wind; it seemed as if there had not been a gale for the last three years. Not having been exposed to bad weather they had not then been able to find out the qualities of these ships, and a change of Ministry might take place, and Sir W. Symonds might again come in, and be as much listened to as he was under the last Administration. All that he wanted was to get at the truth, and that when these ships went to sea on trial, they should be commanded by some seaman who would look for a gale of wind, and would find one, if that 419 be all, if he went 2,000 miles to get it. And with respect to the Surveyor, he hoped that office would be done away with—they wanted an active and intelligent man like Sir W. Symonds—for no man was more active or intelligent than he—who would be constantly going round from one dockyard to another, observing what went on, so as to save the lavish expenditure which was annually thrown away in these dockyards. In that way they might find him exceedingly useful, as long as he did not lay down lines and build ships: let him examine other men's lines and other men's models, not his own, and he (Captain Rous) was sure that Sir W. Symonds would be benefited if that suggestion were carried into execution. Whether the Motion were acceded to or not, it would be of great benefit and use, because it proved, in the first place, that naval affairs at last had excited the attention of the House of Commons. But he confessed that he alluded to the supporters of the hon. and gallant Officer (Sir C. Napier), on the other side, in preference to his own—there was a kinder feeling towards the Navy on that side than on his own—and he always looked to them as the peculiar friends of the Navy, and who always stuck up for it. He hoped, then, that all things would in future be conducted on a sounder footing. He was sorry if he had said anything that had hurt the feelings of any one, for he always spoke warmly, and never minded what he said: he cared for nothing when he was speaking upon public matters. He had given up the command of the Pique because he had spoken the truth at the Admiralty; he had resigned the command because he did not care what happened to him as long as he gave his honest opinion as to that ship; he had done so, and nine years afterwards the facts had corroborated what he had stated over and over again. Any man who pretended to be a sailor, must see that it was impossible to build a proper three-decker without a flat floor and a long bow to meet the sea, and if any one could build them upon straight lines, and with a short bow, he hoped they would be considered not fit to serve Her Majesty in the Navy.
§ Mr. C. Wood
was sorry that the hon. and gallant Officer who had just sat down thought he had any reason to complain of the Board of Admiralty with which he (Mr. C. Wood) had been connected. He 420 certainly had no right to complain of inattention on the part of that Board to naval affairs. With regard to the Motion, he (Mr. C. Wood) was persuaded that it would be highly inexpedient to institute an inquiry by any other body than the Members of the Executive Department. A Committee of the House of Commons would not even understand the language employed by the witnesses; for what could Members in general know of flat floors, of long or bluff bows, of portsills, and other terms of which the hon. and gallant Officer had been liberal? He admitted, that if a case of great grievance or abuse were made out upon reasonable or probable grounds, it might be the duty of the House to institute an investigation. Such, however, was not the fact. Now, what was it the hon. and gallant Officer moved for? An inquiry into the mode in which ships had been constructed since the year 1835, and whether there was any improvement whatever on the old system. That implied, of course, a censure on the manner in which the ships had been built since that time. He would not go into the question of the Navy Board or the School for Naval Architecture; but he perfectly agreed with the right hon. and gallant Officer, that it was a great service to the country, that the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) had put an end to that establishment, and he believed that the substitution of the present Board was a great improvement. The hon. and gallant Officer began with the state of the Navy when he first entered it, from the year 1800 to 1830, and there was no one single class of ships, except the 120-gun ships, that he had not condemned. As to the 80-gun ships, the greatest possible benefit was done by their being given up in 1830 by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. As to the 74-gun ships, they were called the "Forty Thieves." The 36-gun frigates were described as totally useless. [Sir C. Napier: That's a mistake. I said the 32's.] Well then, the 32-gun frigates were perfectly useless—the 28-gun frigates were donkeys—[Sir C. Napier: Quite true.] The 16-gun sloops were also useless. [Sir C. Napier: No.] And at last he came to what he called the "patent-coffins"—the 10-gun brigs—and those he utterly condemned; in fact, one and all, from the highest to the lowest, except the three-deckers, came within his condemnation. [Sir C. Napier: 421 It's quite a mistake.] He took down the words at the time, and every class of ships which the hon. and gallant Officer enumerated, ending with the year 1830, he had condemned, except the 120-gun ships. He condemned a Navy Board in the gross, expressing his satisfaction that it was entirety broken up. Now let them see what the hon. and gallant Officer said of the ships that had been built since the time he had mentioned. Nothing could be fairer than the mode in which the gallant Officer dealt out his censures; his condemnation was indiscriminate, but it did not bear out his Motion. After all, the great object of attack seemed to be the 16-gun brigs constructed by Sir W. Symonds. [The hon. Member read a letter from an Officer in one of the trial squadrons, reporting in favour of the ships built by Sir W. Symonds since 1835.] The hon. Gentleman proceeded to defend the construction of the Pique, and went on to state, that when the late Board of Admiralty left office, two ships only were laid down, both of which answered exceedingly well. As to Sir W. Symonds, he would only say that there was a considerable difference between his last ships and those which he had previously built, and he believed him not to be bigoted to any opinion of his own, but that he was always ready to adopt any suggestion calculated to improve the service. He was most ready to bear his testimony to the seal with which that Officer had executed his duties, and the extreme anxiety which he had always manifested to do that which he thought best for the interest of the Navy. Now, he came to the Queen; the hon. and gallant Officer had said, that six vessels were laid down, by order of the late Board, upon the same principle, before the Queen was tried; that, however, was not so, for two only were ordered, one of which was built. The Queen was built in 1839, and when the late Board went out of office in that year, the Royal Frederick was building. So far as the document to which he had referred went, the Report was exceedingly favourable to the Queen. The official documents were in favour of that ship, and when the Board of Admiralty ordered four other vessels of the same character to be laid down, he thought they were justified in so doing by the official Reports which they had received. Next, as to the Albion: that vessel, perhaps, had not had a fair trial, but the 422 officers who tried her, as it appeared by their Report, were very confident of the result. The Report said, that she was a very still ship and sailed better than any other in the squadron. The hon. and gallant Officer had read a favourable report of the 110-gun ship, so long as she remained in the Mediterranean, and they had heard a favourable report of the 90-gun ship from the hon. and gallant Officer opposite; and having, in fact, read the most favourable Reports of every class of ships since 1835, and condemned every ship built before that period, the hon. and gallant Officer now called upon the House to condemn the Board of Admiralty for the ships built since 1835. The Thunderer was not Sir William Symonds' ship. They had been led to suppose by the hon. and gallant Officer that they were wasting the public money by building ships on Sir William Symonds' principle when they ought to have built them on some other principle. The injustice of such an observation would be understood when he stated that the Thunderer cost 72,000l., the Vanguard 62,000l. and the Collingwood 59,000l. thus showing a saving of 13,000l. on the building of the Collingwood as compared to the Thunderer by adopting Sir W. Symonds' plan. The Rodney, to which the hon. and gallant Officer had referred, had cost 76,000l., instead of 67,000l. He really could not understand upon what earthly ground the hon. and gallant Officer could support his Motion. He asked the House to express an opinion, that the public money had been thrown away by the system which had been pursued in building ships within the last few years, whilst he had read Reports from very competent authorities approving of such ships, and it appeared that the cost of building them had been reduced. Now, as to steamers, he did not think it possible that anybody could give a clear and decided opinion upon the effect of steam navigation, and what would be the best mode of constructing and arming steam vessels. He was very glad to find that steamers upon a large scale were to be constructed. What the result would be he would not attempt to predict. He had no doubt but that the experiment of building steamers for the Navy would be carried on with the greatest anxiety to discover the best plan which could be adopted, and that no expense would be spared to make them useful in case of any future war; he, for one, was quite content to 423 leave this matter in the hands of the present Board of Admiralty.
§ Admiral Bowles
wished to observe, in reply to the charge of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster, that if he did not find a gale of wind it was no fault of his, and that to go in search of one was not the object with which he went out. His duty was to try all ships under his charge, and not to run the risk of damaging them to the extent, perhaps, of several thousand pounds, without any earthly benefit. He could not but express his surprise, at hearing sailors, and especially the hon. and gallant Member for Marylebone, talk as they did of the Albion, and argue that, because she had some defects she ought to be tried against a three-decker. He had tried her as much as it was necessary for him to do in order to test her speed and strength, with both of which he was satisfied. It was said that she rolled so much as to excite particular attention to that defect. Now, he did not think she would be found to roll a bit more than other vessels of the same size. It was well known that small vessels rolled more than large ones—that a two-decker would roll more than a three-decker; and he coincided quite with the Officer of that vessel, who visited him on board the Caledonia in the Bay of Biscay, that she was steadier than others of her class. As for her not being able to fight her guns, that was a charge which he did not believe, and which he was sure would be found on further experiment not to be true. With respect to the question of naval architecture he agreed with the hon. and gallant Officer that the former system of naval architecture was extremely defective. He would willingly make the hon. and gallant Officer a present of all the old ships, for he was glad to find that improvements had began, and he looked forward to every year for increased improvements. He thought that Sir W. Symonds was entitled to great credit for not having obstinately adhered to any part of his system when he found that it was objectionable. He thought it was highly creditable to Sir W. Symonds that he was ready to give all due attention to any suggestions made to him; and he was sure that the new ships would be found unobjectionable. There was one other point to which he begged the attention of the House for a moment. He felt that there was a debt of gratitude due to those noblemen and gentlemen who had estab- 424 lished the Yacht Club, which had attached so many to that truly British amusement of yacht sailing, and exerted an influence upon society to which might be attributed a great many of those improvements in naval architecture so much to be rejoiced at. There were two men in particular whose names were especially entitled to their respect—he meant the late Lord Vernon, who unhappily had not lived to witness the success of these improvements, and the Duke of Portland. Lord Vernon gave his personal guarantee to the Admiralty, before Sir W. Symonds was allowed to build his first ship the Columbine, that if it failed he (Lord Vernon) would pay the whole expense, amounting to 10,000l. The Duke of Portland actually paid 8,790l. for the building of the Pantaloon, with no other object than to promote and improve the science of naval architecture. With regard to Sir W. Symonds, his opinion was, that the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, never did a greater service to the country than by appointing him to the office which he now filled with so much credit, and from which, notwithstanding the calumnies that might assail him, he would retire, he felt convinced, with the proud satisfaction of having contributed more than any other officer in the British Navy to the improvement of the service. He considered him, therefore justly entitled to the thanks of that House.
§ Captain Pechell
said, that the late Secretary of the Admiralty had acted most unfairly towards his hon. and gallant Friend, by endeavouring to put a misconstruction upon the views which he had expressed to the House. If he understood the object of his hon. and gallant Friend, it was this—he complained that the Board of Admiralty had been going on in the construction of vessels, without giving them a sufficient trial; that immediately upon being satisfied with one particular vessel, they, without sufficient experience, laid down half-a-dozen of the same description. If it was attempted to be shown that the present Surveyor of the Navy had involved the country in unnecessary expense, and incumbered the service with improper ships, then he must differ from his hon. Friends, for he was of the contrary opinion, believing as he did, that no person deserved more credit than the present Surveyor of the Navy. He was very happy to find that the gallant Admiral oppo- 425 site, after experiencing the breezes of the Mediterranean, had taken his seat in that House, and was prepared to give them any information which they might require as to the experimental cruise of the squadron which he had commanded. He was glad when he found the hon. and gallant Admiral had been selected to take the command of such an expedition, because he knew that they should have a faithful account from him; and it was almost to be regretted that it was thought necessary to take one of the Lords in Waiting from his duties to asssume the command of one of the ships of the experimental squadron. When they saw the contradictory reports and opinions as to the capabilities of one of those noble ships, the Queen, he thought there were strong grounds for inquiry. The public were not satisfied, neither would they be, unless the Committee which the hon. and gallant Member sought for was granted. They had tried an experiment by altering one of the old frigates, with the view of making them more like the modern vessels; and they had then sent her on the Irish station, where she lay in the Shannon for nine months to aid the civil power to keep all quiet during the collection of the Poor Rates. Then, when they came to steam-vessels, it appeared that they had not one in the Navy furnished with the Archimedean screw. They had a vessel named the Rattler, which he had called the attention of the Admiralty to, and upon the subject of which he had corresponded with a gentleman who was then the Secretary of the Admiralty, but who had since quitted that department for one where he (Captain Pechell) feared he would not be so useful—he meant the late Member for Wiltshire. The nature of the correspondence which he had had with that gentleman, was as to testing the qualities of the Archimedean screw, and he was assured that it would be done; but two years had since elapsed, and that vessel was not yet at sea. [Sir George Cockburn: She is.] He did not know what the hon. and gallant Gentleman meant by her being at sea, for she was now in Portsmouth harbour, and had only been tried in the Thames. When he was at Portsmouth, and saw the arrival of Her Majesty from France, attended by the squadron of the Prince de Joinville, he observed a vessel amongst them to which the Archimedean screw had been applied, 426 and she was the admiration of all who saw her—she, in fact, captivated everybody. He did not fail to make a representation to those who were interested in the Board of Admiralty, that he hoped it would not be long, after the experiment had been tested by the French, before they would relieve the steamers now in the service of those monstrous and unsightly incumbrances, the paddle-boxes, which were a nuisance to every vessel that had them; and they had then declared that, if they only had time, it would be their wish to bring the Archimedean screw into notice, and it would not be long before it would be applied to the Rattler, and she would be at sea. That was nearly two years ago, and they had not heard of the merits of that vessel since; and were consequently unable to make use of those advantages which they might have been in possession of six years ago. The hon. and gallant Admiral had, he believed a sincere desire to extend competition. Captain Hendry had submitted to him models of an 80 gun ship, and a steamer, exactly on the principle of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster, being able to carry great weights on a mere flat floor; and he thought the models which he had seen were worthy of the attention of the Admiralty. But what would be the use of all those fine vessels which were in contemplation, and of those which he would admit they now possessed? No one had suffered more than he had (and the hon. and gallant Admiral knew it, for he had served under the gallant Admiral) from being on board vessels that could not sail: he had lost opportunity and lost prize-money. But when they had all these fine vessels, what advantage would it be to this country, if, when an opportunity arose, they should, as in the case which had occurred within the last few months, have only a small sloop to defend their foreign possessions? The station of Tahiti was left in charge of a small vessel of the size of a sloop of war. What was the use of having these large vessels, if the honour and dignity of this country were to be risked by maintaining in the Pacific a vessel which was obliged to remain in a passive state, and render obedience to the larger vessels of a neighbouring Power which were there? The necessity had before been urged of keeping a stout frigate in the China seas and the Pacific. What, then, he repeated, was the use of building such magnificent 427 ships if when they were wanted they were not forthcoming? That was a melancholy condition, and he verily believed the correspondence which had been laid on the Table a few days ago would never have been required, if they had had one or two stout frigates lying at Tahiti, instead of the miserable vessel which, from unforeseen circumstances, was unfortunately placed there. Whatever might be the result of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's Motion, it would have this advantage, that public attention would be drawn to the state of the Navy. He only hoped, when they were called upon to vote a larger grant for the purposes of the Navy, they would not assent to it, unless they had a guarantee that steam frigates should be properly constructed; that they should no longer call a vessel a steam frigate unless she was capable of having a broadside. She must have a gun-deck, and not merely guns on the upper part. If they called upon them—the representatives of populous districts—to increase the Navy Estimates, their constituents would be very little inclined to part with more of their money and continue the Income Tax for such a purpose as was proposed, unless the contemplated steam frigates were of the character which he had described. He hoped the Board of Admiralty would well consider the subject, and that the steam-vessels which they intended to build would be a great improvement upon those which were now in Her Majesty's service.
said, that he felt it his duty to oppose the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Marylebone, not only because he thought it would be difficult to convince any body of men less qualified than a Committee of the House of Commons to form a just opinion on the subject matter which he proposed to refer to it, but also because he could not consider the adoption of the Motion in any other light than as an indirect vote of censure on the Board of Admiralty, of which they were quite undeserving; for there was no branch of their public duties to which they had devoted more attention than the improvement of ships. When the present Administration entered upon office, they found nineteen ships of the line building, or ordered to be built, the whole upon the lines of the Surveyor of the Navy. If, therefore, they had hesitated to proceed with these ships, they must have abandoned altogether the building of the ships 428 of the line in course of construction in the dockyards; and how could they have justified such a proceeding? It was true, that at that time, only one of the Surveyor's ships had been at sea—the Vanguard; but he held in his hand the highest testimonials as to her capabilities. In July, 1836, the hon. Captain D. P. Bouverie reported thatOn all occasions, her working was admirable, and surpassed our fullest expectations; and I have no doubt that she will prove herself to possess every good quality, and that she is a perfect man-of-war.Captain Martin of the Caledonia said:—The Vanguard hauled out of the line just like a cutter, and went away to windward of the whole squadron, and was six miles on our weather beam in three hours and a-half.He was in possession of many other Reports favourable to the qualities of the Vanguard, but it was unnecessary that he should occupy the time of the House by reading them, for he believed it was universally admitted that she was a most excellent man-of-war. Shortly after the present Ministry came into office, the Queen was commissioned and sent to sea, and instructions were given that her qualities should be tested. She was tried on several occasions, and on the 5th of June 1842, Sir Edward Owen wrote,—I have called for the Reports of the qualities of the several ships, and hope to have them for enclosure in this letter. In the mean time, I may say, that so far as my own observations went, no one of the ships, except the Vanguard, could compete with Her Majesty's ship the Queen, whether in easiness of motion or in sailing. She does not so well answer under low sail, but bears pressing with her canvass, and answers to it by her power. I have no difficulty in pronouncing the Queen a ship superior to all three-deckers, and to most of those with two decks.Captain Rich, of the Calcutta, also wrote on the 6th of June, 1842:—With respect to the comparison between this ship and the Queen, there can be no doubt in my opinion as to the superiority of the latter in every point, namely, in sailing, working, stability, and weatherly qualities.This opinion, he considered the more valuable as being given by the commander of a vessel which was placed in competition with the Queen; and the House was well aware of the pride which naval officers generally felt in the qualities of their own ships. He had in his possession 429 various other Reports in which equally favourable opinions were expressed of the Queen. And on the other hand, the Admiralty had no Reports which would have justified them in suspending the building of the other vessels which were then in course of construction by the Surveyor. Subsequently, however, when a squadron was sent out commanded by his hon. and gallant Friend behind him, and when the result of the cruise was to raise doubts as to the qualities of the Queen, the Admiralty did not wait to be reminded of their duty, either by the gallant Commodore, or by a Committee of this House, but they at once ordered the construction of ships of the Queen class and of the Albion class to be suspended, until their qualities should be further tested; and he hoped that, in the ensuing spring, ample opportunity would be afforded for ascertaining the powers and qualities of those ships. When, however, so much had been said about the ships built by the Surveyor of the Navy, it should be recollected that the Admiralty did not confine themselves to ships built by that Officer. The Admiralty had ordered sixty-eight ships to be built during the course of the three years they had been in office—of these twenty-nine were to be constructed by the Surveyor of the Navy, and thirty-nine by other naval architects. Of these four were ships-of-the-line, not by the Surveyor of the Navy; six frigates, namely, five of 50, and one of 36 guns, not by the Surveyor of the Navy; six smaller vessels not by the Surveyor of the Navy; and no less than twenty-three steam-ships, not by the Surveyor of the Navy; it was obvious, therefore, that the Admiralty had shown every disposition to give trials to ships by other builders. Among other vessels which were constructed not by the Surveyor of the Navy, were four of the brigs composing the late experimental squadron, which afforded satisfactory proof that the experiments they had mane were not ill-considered, and answered one of the questions which the gallant Commodore proposed to refer to a Committee—namely, whether ships of modern, were an improvement on those of old construction—for the whole of the new brigs proved themselves on that occasion to be decidedly superior on all points of sailing to the Cruiser, one of the best of the class which the gallant Commodore stated in his speech to be almost the only good class of vessels ever built by the Navy Board. But our steam vessels were the especial object of the censure of the 430 gallant Commodore, who had stated that there was not one steam vessel in the service which deserved the character of a man-of-war. It might be very presumptuous in him to differ on such a subject from the gallant Commodore; but he must observe that the opinion of naval men with respect to it were by no means unanimous, and there was no subject on which a greater difference of opinion existed than among naval men with respect to naval architecture. To illustrate this he would contrast the opinion entertained of our steamers by a French Admiral with that of the gallant Commodore. The illustrious Admiral to whom he alluded was the author of a paper which appeared last year, in which the following passage occurred:—When the Gorgon and Cyclops sailed from the ports of England, we were struck with their force as ships of war, as well as with their admirable qualities as sea boats; and we therefore evinced a laudable anxiety to procure designs and other data required for the reinforcement of our navy with vessels of a similar description. The attempt proved a complete failure, and there are not now in the whole French navy six steam-vessels that can be compared with those in the English navy. To form a notion of the actual force of this steam navy (the English), it is necessary to have observed how formidable is its armament, and with what care and skilful foresight everything has been studied. The English war-steamers have not been built and warranted good for all descriptions of service indiscriminately. In building them there has been but one thought, one object—war. They unite great speed and a powerful armament, with vast accommodation for troops.He did not for a moment mean to say that our steam vessels were perfect, but great improvements had been made in their construction within the last few years, and almost every steamer that was launched was an improvement on the one which preceded her. The gallant Officer, the Member for Brighton, had found fault with the Admiralty for having kept the Rattler for two years at Woolwich. Now this had been done advisedly, for the purpose of carrying on a series of experiments as to the adaptation of the screw to steam vessels. If these experiments, the result of which had been to increase the speed of the Rattler from about 7½ to nearly 10 knots an hour, had not been carried on to the extent to which they had, he doubted very much whether they would have succeeded in making the screw generally applicable; whereas it was now determined 431 to apply it to the whole of the steam vessels ordered to be built in the ensuing financial year. Therefore, so far from the Admiralty deserving censure for keeping the Rattler at Woolwich, they were entitled to praise for carrying on these experiments on board that vessel. As for the complaint of another gallant Officer with reference to the Daring, it was true that that vessel was in a leaky state; but he felt it due to the officers of Portsmouth vard, where that vessel was built, to state that the Admiralty had no reason for suspecting that timber of inferior quality had intentionally been used in her construction. He would not take up more of the time of the House than to observe, that the construction of ships of war might safely be left in the hands of those who were responsible for the administration of the affairs of the Navy, and who were far better qualified to discuss the subject than any Committee that could be selected.
§ Captain Harris
said, that the difference of opinion on the subject of naval architecture was not confined to naval men, but seemed also to have extended to the editors of newspapers. He thought that the gallant Admiral could not do better than enable those editors to form their opinions of the respective merits of those vessels by providing them with berths in the next experimental squadron. The editor of the Times might be accommodated on board the Daring. The editor of the Morning Chronicle might be provided with a berth on board the Mutine, and he dared say that the editor of Punch would find himself quite at home on board of the Pantaloon. With respect to the Motion of the gallant Commodore, he did not think that he would attain his object in the way he proposed. But looking to the state of naval architecture, and to the improvements in steam navigation, he thought that great advantage would be derived from the appointment of a Commission, to consist of scientific men—good mechanics—good engineers, and good naval architects—to investigate the whole subject. Let the Surveyor of the Navy be on that board, and let them receive communications from all parts of the world as to all well-sustained improvements; and he thought that great advantage would be derived from a Commission of that kind. Everything appeared to him to be given up to sailing. Even proper stowage of the boats was sacrificed, and he was convinced that many valuable lives had been lost for want of quarter boats in the new flush 432 ships; indeed, he saw an instance of the kind on board the Columbine, when he had the honour of sailing, under Sir Thomas Hardy; a man fell overboard and was drowned, who might have been saved, had that sloop been fitted with quarter boats. The poop also, was sacrificed, which was a most important part of the vessel; and he remembered sailing round Cape Horn during the equinox in a sloop of war, which would not have weathered the tremendous sea she encountered, or have been able to scud with safety, had it not been for the protection which the poop afforded her. With respect to the Surveyor's frigates, though he did not complain of their building lines, he was reminded of one most material fault, that of not proportioning the quantity of metal to the timbers of which the ship was built. First, the 36-gun frigate, which was the Surveyor's crack class. In the event of a war with a great naval power, after the first brush and general action, we should expect to compel our enemy to keep his own shores, and the larger vessels would be chiefly occupied in blockading, but not so the frigates, the true chivalry of the seas, who would be roaming on the ocean for the protection of British commerce, and on whom chiefly would fall the task of maintaining the honour of the British flag. It was most important, therefore, that these vessels should be fitted up in the most efficient manner for the hour of actual conflict. Now compare the Pique with the Winchester. The Pique, of the new class, was 1,636 tons burden, carrying thirty-six guns, 32-pounders. The Winchester 1,487 tons, with fifty-two guns, not of the same weight, but throwing the same shot. Now every hon. Gentleman who would refer to our naval history, would perceive that after our frigates once got alongside their enemy, the battle seldom lasted an hour; and for so short a time the fifty-two guns of the Winchester would tell more effectively on her opponent than the thirty-six guns of the Pique. The same observation applies to the modern twenty-six-gun class of frigates. Take the Carysfort, with twenty-six guns, 32-pounders. Her tonnage was 911, whereas the Belvidera, of forty-two guns, one of the old class, was but 946 tons, being only thirty-five tons difference but having sixteen more guns. This alteration first took place in consequence of the class of vessels we were called on to compete with during the American war, and he admitted that some 433 alternation was necessary, but he did not think it ought to be carried to the present extreme. He believed one of the Lords of Admiralty had expressed himself favourable to the adoption of the screw in steam-vessels, but he was also of opinion that the greater space now given in the orlop deck, in consequence of the adoption of chain cables, would enable them to apply the screw with great advantage to line-of-battle ships, as they would now have ample room for the machinery; and, though he did not expect a greater propelling power than four or five knots an hour, yet that would be of the greatest value, as all who were acquainted with the details of the battle of Trafalgar would readily admit. Doubtless it might be said, if we adopted the plan, the French and other Powers would adopt it also. All would then depend on the skill and nerve of the officers in command, and he hoped the British officers would do their duty. He would not sit down without expressing his great satisfaction at the efforts which the Admiralty had for some time past been making to increase the naval force of this country, and particularly our steam power. The hon. and gallant Member concluded, by paying a high compliment to the late Secretary of the Admiralty, and by expressing his confidence that his successor would follow in his footsteps.
§ Mr. Wakley
said, that hon. Members on both sides of the House had expressed their gratitude to his hon. and gallant Friend for bringing forward this Motion, which entitled him to the gratitude of that House and of the country. He was quite certain that the labours of the hon. and gallant Commodore on that, as well as on other occasions, had eminently entitled him to the gratitude of the country, which, beyond a doubt, he would carry with him. The country would be deeply grateful to his hon. and gallant Friend for bringing forward this subject. True, it was not the first time that it had been before that House; but the discussions had formerly been conducted in such a manner that no good had resulted from them, and out of doors it was thought that, however they might fight when they were in earnest, in that House all was "sham fighting." It was time now that a subject of this magnitude should be taken up seriously; it was one on which the public felt the greatest interest, for the naval service was the loved, the favourite, the honoured service of this country, and no sum of money 434 could be voted in that House to which the public would object, provided that it were to maintain that service. In it they beheld the bulwark of their country, and they had ever been anxious to support it in a manner commensurate with the great interests involved. The gallant Commodore in the course of his speech had condemned a great many ships in his own peculiar and most forcible manner. In his opinion, one ship had received a great many shots in her hull,—he meant that old ship "The Admiralty," and he did not think that she would readily recover the damage which she had received unless those who manned her would take upon themselves to inquire how it was that so much money had been wasted in the dockyards of this country in the building of ships that were absolutely unfit for service. He had listened with the greatest surprise to the charge (and he should never forget it) which the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Captain Rous) had brought against the dockyards. The hon. and gallant Captain said, that he believed ships had been built in those dockyards which had cost one-tenth, ay, even one-eighth of the national debt, and which had never gone and were never fit to go to sea. That was the declaration of the hon. and gallant Captain, who had obtained for himself great renown in the naval service, and whose name was respected wherever it was known. That hon. and gallant Officer always spoke his mind freely in that House, and every one had the advantage of understanding what he meant when he did address the House. With regard to the Committee for which his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Marylebone had moved, he thought that the appointment of such a Committee would not be suitable to the emergency that existed; for he did not believe, if a Committee were appointed, that it would be possible for it to arrive at any practical result. Unless they selected Naval Officers, whom could they get to understand the subject under investigation? If they had Naval Officers, most likely they would be jealous of one another, and in all probability there would be such serious conflicts, and such firing of broadsides from one side of the Table to the other, as were never known in that House before. But then the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster had told them that as for the Lords of the Admiralty, why they scarcely knew one ship from another; and he said it in such a manner as to indicate to him (Mr. Wakley) that there were some of 435 them who scarcely knew a three-decker from a Newcastle collier. If that were the position of the Lords of the Admiralty, he really did not think that promiscuous Members of that House were likely to be in a much more enlightened state with regard to naval architecture, or naval capabilities and resources. He really did think, therefore, that the appointment of a Committee would be useless. But was there to be no inquiry? The right hon. Gentleman opposite who had addressed the House (Captain Corry), and who had lately been promoted from being a Lord of the Admiralty to be Secretary—by the bye he (Mr. Wakley) did not understand such promotion as that from a Lord to a Secretary,—but the right hon. Gentleman said, "Oh, leave it to us; leave it to us; we'll make it all right." But he thought that they had left it to them too long, and leaving it to them had resulted in all the mischiefs and evils that had been complained of. The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. C. Wood) said, "Leave it to the Admiralty," too; but the hon. Member—why he had been Secretary to the Admiralty, and Secretaries made a point of helping one another. They said, "You help us when we're attacked, and, as your time must some day come, we'll help you then." Not in so many words, perhaps; but there was an implied engagement, perfectly well understood between the interested parties, ex-Secretary on one side, and Secretary on the other side. The question, however, was of too much importance to be got rid of in that way; for he felt confident after the statements of Officers in that House of so much renown, whose names were identified with the honour and glory of their country, and who had declared that their ships were built in such an outrageously bad manner as to be a disgrace to the nation—after those statements from such gallant and distinguished men, he did say that the people of England would require at their hands a complete and searching investigation. Then, if that investigation were not to be made by a Committee, how was it to be made? Would Government consent to a Commission? No; all was to be left to the Admiralty. A gallant Officer had alluded to the experiments that had been made by Sir W. Symonds: but he had omitted to say that the ships that went out on those trials had not their full complement of stores and provisions, and, consequently, that they did not draw so much water as if they had been on actual service, 436 when they would require full complements both of men and stores: those experiments, then, it must be evident to every one, could not be regarded as fair. The right hon. and gallant Officer, the Member for Ripon (Sir G. Cockburn), a Lord of the Admiralty, had addressed the House at some length with regard to war steamers; and he confessed that he had never heard before that they were to go to such enormous expenses in building steamers that they might carry four guns, two at the bows, and two at the stern; was that really the case? Because, if they were to carry no more guns than four, of what earthly utility could they be, if they encountered a squadron of steamers with broadsides? A quotation had been made from the pamphlet of a foreign Admiral, to prove that our Steam Navy was in an effective and powerful condition; but did the right hon. Gentleman who read that extract know that the object of that foreign Admiral being to create a great steam power in his own country, it was his policy to overrate as much as possible the force of a country with which it was possible, in the case of war, his own country might have to contend. The foreign Prince looked through the wrong end of the telescope in order to make our power appear to his country even as small as possible. He meant that he looked through the right side of the telescope to make our power appear as small as possible. [Cries of "Large, large. No; small—small."] Really, they were very merry; but they were mistaken, and he was correct. The Prince for his own sake wished to ascertain our real dimensions, but he got his countrymen to view us through the telescope, in order that our power might appear to them as small as possible. [Renewed Laughter.] Really, after all, they were right. He was wrong; he meant as large as possible. It was, therefore, vain to rely on such testimony; it was our duty to see that our Navy was put into the most perfect and efficient state, and to put a stop to those monstrous practices, and the recurrence of those monstrous evils which had been so forcibly described. He admitted that we were now on the road to improvement, but we moved far too slowly in it; and he agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, that, whilst all other countries were eagerly availing themselves of the aid of science, we neglected it far too much, and that the re-establishment of the School of Naval Architecture in this country was most de- 437 sirable The Navy was evidently not in the condition in which it ought to be, considering the situation of this country. A searching inquiry was requisite, and whilst he asked his hon. Friend to withdraw his Motion for a Committee, he would recommend him to more an Address to Her Majesty, that a Commission might be appointed by the Crown to conduct such an inquiry; and for the proper construction of Such a Commission and due fulfilment of its duties, the Executive Government would be responsible.
§ Sir Charles Napier
had repeatedly heard of such and such persons being described as good debaters, but he had never heard a good debater who had indulged in perverting language. The hon. Member for Halifax had done so with regard to him. The hon. Member had said, that he had taken down his words. The hon. Member had asserted, that he (Sir C. Napier) had Condemned all the ships built by the present Surveyor of the Navy, except the last class of three-deckers and the 18-gun brigs. Now he distinctly denied that he had said anything of the kind. He had said that all the three-deckers—and he excluded the 98's—were good. That all the 74's were good, except the "Forty Thieves." He had said that the 50's, or two-deckers, were useless, and that the 32 and the 28-gun frigates were good for nothing. He also said, that the 28-gun donkeys were good for nothing, and that the 10-gun brigs were good for nothing. He was astonished that the hon. Member for Halifax should presume to put words into his mouth which he declared upon his honour he did not use. The hon. Gentleman stated, that he had praised the 16-gun brigs, and the 56-gun frigates, the Vanguard and the Vernon; but did he suppose that he (Commodore Napier) was not capable of giving Sir W. Symonds praise for the good which he had effected, because he had found fault with Other matters. It never was his intention not to accord the fullest praise to that Gentleman whenever he thought him entitled to it. The hon. Gentleman had read a letter which he had received from the master of the Vanguard, stating that it was quite absurd to suppose that he had struck down two guns in order that Jack might have a ball-room in the gallery. It was quite impossible that any naval man could do anything of the kind; and the hon. Gentleman should have 438 known that before he had thought it necessary to make such a communication. The hon. Gentleman next said, that when he (Commodore Napier) had spoken of the expense of the Rodney, he had perverted the amount by transposing 67,000l. into 76,000l. He wished the hon. Gentleman would, whenever he brought such charges against him, be more accurate in stating what he did say. He had still the notes before him from which he had stated the amount, and he found in it the expense of the Rodney put down at 76,448l. The right hon. and gallant Admiral at the head of the Admiralty had also misunderstood him. The gallant Admiral stated that he had supposed that the vessels called the "Forty Thieves" were in good condition, and that he had blamed the Admiralty for cutting them down. So far from having done so, he was only attaching blame to those who had left them so long in their original state. The right hon. and gallant Admiral was perfectly right in cutting them down, as he had, by doing so, succeeded in making very good frigates of them. He had certainly found fault with the Queen and the Albion, and on this subject he should repeat that he considered the trial that had taken place of the Queen was no trial. In the return there was not a favourable thing of her said. The gallant Admiral said these matters were open to competition; but if they were, where, he asked, was there an instance of it? Suppose that any one individual had the manufacture of all the silk used in the kingdom, and that another individual had the manufacture of all the cotton in the country, would any one tell him that these manufactures would, under such circumstances, have ever arrived at the perfection to which they were now brought? In the same manner, if the Navy Department had been open to general competition for a number of years past, he was convinced that hundreds of thousands of pounds would have been saved to the country. From the nature of the Board it was impossible but that some neglect or mismanagement should take place. The gallant Admiral himself could not possibly attend to all the duties that devolved upon him. He had enough to do before the labour of the Navy Board attached to him, and he had now also got the steam department to attend to. So that, in fact, if he could cut himself into pieces it would be impossible for him to have a part every- 439 where he was required. There was one other subject on which he wished to offer a few remarks. He alluded to the Queen's Yacht. He believed it was now generally known that that steamer would not steer within eight points of what should be her proper course, and yet her machinery cost a sum of 40,000l., according to the account furnished by the Admiralty. It was well known that that Yacht, at the time Her Majesty embarked in her, was perfectly and completely unsafe. She could not be relied on to go within eight points of her course, according to the statement of her own captain. They were also, he was informed, unable to go more than six knots an hour during the night, because her crew could not be accountable for her machinery. He was not quite certain as to the precise distance, but he thought it was six or eight knots an hour, and he believed it was the former number.
§ Sir George Cockburn
said, it was considered by the Admiralty wrong for any vessels to proceed quicker than eight knots an hour during the night while navigating the North Sea, as it was generally covered with colliers, and they had accordingly issued orders to that effect.
§ Sir Charles Napier
continued to say, that the same operation which had been performed on the Queen ought also to have been tried on the Royal Yacht, in order to endeavour to increase her speed. He also hoped that Her Majesty would not again venture on board her yacht, until it was first ascertained that she would answer her helm. He also wished to explain, that he had never said steamers ought to be made for going as fast as they possibly could. On the contrary, he stated that he thought they should be well armed, and that speed should not be their only qualification. If a man-of-war came up to an enemy, and found that she was not able to fight her, then it was her duty to get away as fast as she could, and, therefore, speed was most desirable, but it was not, he repeated, the only point to be considered. No attempt had been made to show that all that he had stated about steam-vessels was not the fact, and the Admiralty knew, as well as he did, in their hearts that some of the steam-vessels in the Navy were not worth anything. The Prince de Joinville wished to do in Faance precisely what he (Commodore Napier) had for the last twenty years been endeavouring to have effected 440 in this country, namely, to give a good steam navy to the empire, and he trusted they would come to that most desirable result at last. He believed he had nothing further to add in the way of reply. The gallant Admiral opposite seemed to think that he (Commodore Napier) had been rather too severe upon him; but he could assure him that nothing could be further from his intention than doing so. He knew that it was by no means an agreeable recreation to be at sea in the month of November; but when the Government took the trouble of sending out three three-deckers and a ninety-gun ship, they ought to have endeavoured to stay out for some time longer than they did, in order to be better able to judge of the merits of the vessels. If the gallant Admiral had kept the squadron out a little longer, he might perhaps be able to convince his colleagues that the Albion was a good ship, and thus the work which had been put a stop to might have been allowed to go on for some time longer. It seemed to be the wish of some hon. Gentlemen near him, that he should not occupy the House longer with that Motion. Many of them wished him not to divide upon it, and though he should be happy to yield to whatever he saw was the feeling of the House, still he felt satisfied that it was not likely that any decisive step would be taken by the Admiralty. No public Board wished to show forth its own weakness, and from a significant shake of the head which he saw given by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, he believed it was not likely that a different course would be taken in the present instance.
§ Mr. C. Wood
begged to explain that he did not wish to pervert the meaning of what any hon. Member said, or to find fault with any particular class of vessels. It was quite consistent with the argument he had used that these vessels alluded to should have a good character.
§ The House divided.—Ayes 22; Noes 93: Majority 61.
|List of the AYES.
|Aglionby, H. A.
|Gore, hon. R.
|Barnard, E. G.
|Granger, T. C.
|Blewitt, R. J.
|Mangles, R. D.
|Mitchell, T. A.
|Gibson, T. M.
|Ross, D. R.
|Wawn, J. T.
|Rous, hon. Capt.
|Yorke, H. R.
|Stansfield, W. R. C.
|Trelawny, J. S.
|Napier, Sir C.
|List of the NOES.
|Archdall, Capt. M.
|Hayes, Sir E.
|Heathcote, G. J.
|Baring, hon. W. B.
|Hinde, J. H.
|Hope, hon. C.
|Bentinck, Lord G.
|Hope, G. W.
|Blackstone, W. S.
|Boldero, H. G.
|Langston, J. H.
|Leslie, C. P.
|Liddell, hon. H. T.
|Lincoln, Earl of
|Bruce, Lord E.
|Lowther, hon. Col.
|Lygon, hon. Gen.
|McGeachy, F. A.
|Christie, W. D.
|Mackenzie, W. F.
|Clerk, rt. hn. Sir G.
|Manners, Lord J.
|Clifton, J. T.
|Newdegate, C. N.
|Clive, hon. R. H.
|O'Brien, A. S.
|Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.
|Packe, C. W.
|Patten, J. W.
|Copeland, Mr. Aid.
|Corry, rt. hon. H.
|Pennant, hon. Col.
|Praed, W. T.
|Repton, G. W. J.
|Denison, J. E.
|Denison, E. B.
|Shaw, rt. hn. F.
|Dickinson, F. H.
|Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.
|Douglas, Sir H.
|Somerset, Lord G.
|Drummond, H. H.
|Egerton, W. T.
|Sutton, hon. H. M.
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.
|Tennent, J. E.
|Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T.
|Thesiger, Sir F.
|Gordon, hon. Capt.
|Trench, Sir F. W.
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
|Troubridge, Sir E. T.
|Hale, R. B.
|Wortley, hn. J. S.
|Halford, Sir H.
|Harris, hon. Capt.
|Lennox, Lord A.